Tuesday, December 26, 2017

From Ian:

PMW: PMW report spurs Denmark to cut funding to PA NGOs
On May 26, 2017 PMW reported that funds provided by Norway, the UN and a conglomerate of countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland had been used to build a center for young women that was subsequently named after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi. Mughrabi led a terror attack that resulted in the murder of 37 Israelis, including 12 children, in 1978.

Last week, Denmark decided to cancel some grants and review further funding of Palestinian NGOs. The decision was made following an investigation initiated after PMW's report that the women’s center funded by Denmark, was named after a Palestinian terrorist murderer. Denmark announced that it will also tighten the conditions for providing funding to all Palestinian NGOs and that the majority of the aid, suspended after PMW’s report, will not be paid.

“Denmark will tighten the conditions for providing money to Palestinian NGOs, Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said... The review followed revelations [by Palestinian Media Watch] in May that a women’s center partly funded with European aid money... was named after Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the Coastal Road massacre in 1978 that killed 37 people... Samuelsen also said that the 'majority of aid' suspended from the summer while the review was under way will not be paid.” [The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017]

When PMW released its report documenting the center named for terrorist Mughrabi, Norway immediately demanded that the Norwegian money be returned:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende:
"The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way... We have asked for the logo of the Norwegian representation office to be removed from the building immediately, and for the funding that has been allocated to the centre to be repaid." [Norwegian Foreign Ministry website, May 26, 2017]

When PMW reported that a Palestinian school built with Belgium funds, was also named after terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi, Belgium condemned it and froze the construction of ten additional Palestinian Authority schools.

Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Didier Vanderhasselt:
“Belgium unequivocally condemns the glorification of terrorist attacks [and] will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists... Belgium has immediately raised this issue with the Palestinian Authority and is awaiting a formal response... In the meantime Belgium will put on hold any projects related to the construction or equipment of Palestinian schools.” [The Algemeiner, Oct. 7, 2017]
Douglas Murray: UK: Going about Our "Normal" Lives?
But the more this conspicuous, self-conscious egging-on of such attitudes is stressed, the thinner it seems to get. In March, after Khalid Masood ploughed a car across Westminster Bridge, mowing down locals and tourists, and crashed the car and stabbed policeman Keith Palmer to death inside the gates of the Palace of Westminster, one prominent British journalist took to the pages of the New York Times to pour out the clichés.

"By Thursday morning, London was, if not quite back to normal, then certainly back in business. As I traveled through the south of the city, up to Chelsea and later over to King's Cross, Londoners really were going about their lives as on any other day.

"This behavior reflects something deeper than conscious defiance, I think. It would simply not occur to the 8.6 million citizens of this megalopolis to allow one man to send them into hiding. As they say in the East End, you're having a laugh, aren't you?"

One wonders when the author last went into an East End pub to have a pint, and whether he honestly believes such honest cockneys still reside there? Nevertheless, he went to boast of the "stoicism" and "ancestral pride" that still exists there and to insist that, "The only way to proceed is -- in the much-loved British slogan -- to keep calm and carry on." Quite why this spirit is meant to reside in the bones of a city in which most of its current residents (according to the last census) have arrived in the decades since the Second World War is never clear.

Similar clichés spilled out after the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena in May. They came out yet again after the London Bridge attack in June. Yet one of the most striking images from that night was of drinkers in Borough Market, where the terrorists finished their assault, being marched out of the Market under police escort with their hands on their heads. The British public at that point, at any rate, looked not like stoical, pugnacious heroes, but like a defeated army being marched into captivity. Still the clichés continued. The day after the attack, in her address to the nation, Prime Minister Theresa May assured the public that "Our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together."

One of the most striking images from the June 3, 2017 Borough Market terror attack was of drinkers being marched out of the Market under police escort with their hands on their heads. The British public at that point looked not like stoical, pugnacious heroes, but like a defeated army being marched into captivity. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

So it is interesting to consider, beneath all the talk of business as usual, and Blitz spirit, and keeping calm and carrying on, what, in fact, are the British public actually feeling? Last month provided a sobering demonstration.
Douglas Murray Takes Us Inside The Strange Death Of Europe
Douglas Murray: I'm only going to speak for about 15 minutes because I wanted as much time as possible for Q&A, because I sense that there hasn't been much, so far, and because I'm always very excited about hearing other people's views and questions. But let me start by making a few remarks.

The first, by the way, is that I'll talk a little about my recent book. It's always rather difficult to understand another country, let alone another continent, or another culture. There are things you have in common. There are things which seem bizarre, when you look at them from outside, and there are things that look recognizable. There are things that rhyme. There are an enormous number of similarities between where I'm from and where most of you are from, and an enormous number of differences too. I've been in the states a week, spoken at a campus, and was on the West Coast at the beginning of the week, and I had one of those disassociation moments in San Francisco, when I had been in my second day in the city, and I just noticed that absolutely everywhere, there seemed to be posters advertising delivery services for marijuana. And I thought this is interesting because if there's one thing it seems to me that San Francisco doesn't need it's easier access to marijuana. More of it, just so that people who smoke it don't even have to go down the street. But there are lots of similarities between our societies as well, and one of the, I suppose, most gratifying things since the "Strange Death of Europe" came out in June here in the U.S. is the number of people who have come over to me and written to me from America, from Canada, from Australia, and said this book is about us isn't it? And, perhaps I could stop by just saying a little about what it is about, and you'll get some of the resonances.

The "Strange Death of Europe" centers on the 2015 migration crisis, which you all remember was the moment when Angela Merkel massively exacerbated an already existing problem by announcing, unilaterally, that the external and internal borders of Europe were basically dissolved. In a single act, the mass movement of people that had been going on for decades sped up exponentially, so that Germany in a single year took in an additional 2 percent of its population. Sweden took in an additional almost 3 percent of its population. This is all part of a pattern. I say that has been going on for many decades. And, just like those previous decades, what happened after the 2015 crisis was that politicians and the media found excuses to justify something that would have happened anyway. So, for instance, German citizens and others were told that this mass migration, millions of people into Europe, was there would be a net economic gain for their society, that it would enrich their society. Now, actually, all of the studies that I have gone over on this show that, at best, most such migration cannot be called to be any kind of economic gain. A study in Britain showed that over a 15 year period, migrants took out 95 billion more in services than they put in taxation. And, of course they would. If you go to another country, you don't speak the language. You don't have the skills. It's going to be a very long time, before you've put in anything into the welfare system, remotely like the amount that you and your family will have taken out. But, this is one of the arguments that is made.

BDS claims – an Ethiopian answer
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement strongly opposes Israel’s policy and the leaders of the movement present several reasons for their actions. One main reason is that Israel’s regime is an “apartheid” regime.

This claim is false, not only legally but also substantially, as I have experienced as an Ethiopian-Israeli citizen.

During 1984’s Operation Moses, my parents made aliya to Israel and started their lives here with the difficulties that every immigrant goes through, but with an extra challenge. Israeli society’s first encounter with a large black-African population was marked by prejudice and even racism. However, the main reasons for this prejudice were a cultural gap and the unpreparedness of the state to absorb this large population.

I experienced the cultural gap for the first time when my mother came to my school’s parent-teacher conference. The teacher was not aware that my mother could not read or write Hebrew. When my teacher showed my mother the report card I explained this to the teacher. That led to an absurd situation in which I and not my teacher had to explain my report card to my mother. This continued until junior high. I felt that these situations caused teachers to doubt my parents’ ability to educate me. This is just one example of the cultural gap that Ethiopian olim and other Israeli citizens had to overcome.

I have witnessed the unpreparedness of the state to absorb my parents through their occupational struggles. The state did not provide occupational assistance for my parents. My mother was an artisan and my father was a farmer, yet the government placed them in the peripheral cities, where they could not practice their professions. This led them to work in unskilled labor, namely cleaning. As a result, I observed their neighbors, employers and coworkers perceiving them as unable to work in occupations other than unskilled labor.

However, since the ‘90s the State of Israel has redressed its mistakes in the absorption process. Over my lifetime the government formed committees to deal with the issues of Ethiopian integration. There are several examples of how the implementation of the committees’ policies improved my life and the lives of my family and friends.
IsraellyCool: The 5 Dumbest Things You’ll Read on the Internet (About Jews)
1. Ashekenazi Jews are Khazars and not really Jewish
This has been soundly debunked by SCIENCE. Genetics shows clearly that the vast majority of Ashkenazi Jews trace their lineage back to the Levant. The Khazar theory simply doesn’t have any truth to it.

2. Jews killed Jesus/Jesus wasn’t Jewish
Actually Jesus was executed and tortured by the Romans, who were in power in Judeah at the time. The Christian new testament is very clear on that; there is a line where Pontius Pilate “washes his hands” of the decision but if you read the history, you know that nothing happened in Roman territory without the Roman governors consent. Roman territories were not semi autonomous, in fact they were very oppressive. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth and was a religious Jew who felt that the temple was sacred (hence the whole flipping tables thing). He was mentioned as “king of the Jews several times in the Christian new testament. His mother was Jewish which according to Halacha makes him Jewish. People claiming he was anything else, have to do serious mental gymnastics to do so.

3. Jews are imperialist conquering colonisers who stole other people’s land.
Firstly, the country of Israel consists of less than 1% of the Middle Eastern land mass, so if the Jws are imperialist, they are really bad at it. Secondly, they have the deepest roots to the land in question tracing back 4,000 years. Genetically they have ties to the Canaanites as well as linguistically. Thirdly, documentation shows very clearly that the majority of the land in question was purchased from Ottoman effendi land owners. Generally speaking, Arabs in the Levant were tenant farmers who didn’t own the land they lived on (this was normal as in Europe, very rarely did peasants own the land they lived on, and everything was owned by the royal class.)

In Riyadh, world chess official appears to chide hosts for barring Israelis
A world chess official appeared to chide his Saudi Arabian hosts Monday for barring Israeli players, after an intense campaign to allow them into a major tourney fell short.

Israeli and international chess officials said Sunday that seven Israeli players had been denied visas to take part in the King Salman World Blitz and Rapid Championships in Riyadh, which kick off Tuesday.

During a ceremony opening the event Monday night, World Chess Federation Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos said he hoped the kingdom would allow in all players next time.

“We would like to see the next event, here, as King Salman Peace & Friendship World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships. Where everybody will be welcomed,” he said in unprepared remarks to Saudi sports official Turki bin Abdel Muhsin Al-Asheikh according to the federation, which goes by the acronym FIDE.

“I am certain that Saudi Arabia can send a strong message for peace and friendship around the world and we are here with my colleagues to help. We are ready to meet with you or your people in the next days, to see how to proceed with the next steps,” he added.
Israeli chess players seek compensation for Saudi tourney snub
The Israel Chess Federation said Tuesday it is seeking compensation from the organizers of a tournament in Saudi Arabia, after the Gulf state refused to issue visas for its players.

The King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships is the first international chess competition held in Saudi Arabia, perceived as a display of the conservative kingdom’s growing openness to the West.

The regulations of the organizers, the World Chess Federation (FIDE), stipulate that no player should be refused the opportunity to participate, but players from three states — Iran, Qatar, and Israel — had initially not received visas.

On Monday, FIDE announced it had “secured visas for Qatar and Iran,” though officials from the world chess body failed to reach an agreement with the Saudis to allow the Israeli players to enter the kingdom for the games.

A Saudi official said Tuesday the kingdom was “maintaining its policy” on Israel.
Norway to limit funding of NGOs promoting Israel boycotts
Norway became the second Scandinavian country in a week to announce limits on funding for non-governmental organizations supporting boycotts of Israel, following in the footsteps of its southern neighbor Denmark.

“Boycott creates distance, while the Norwegian government believes in dialogue and cooperation to create mutual trust as part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” a Norwegian government statement said on Monday.

“This decision is another expression of the Norwegian government’s consistent opposition to boycotts against the State of Israel.”

The Norwegian announcement reflects the country’s 2018 governmental policy that refuses to support organizations promoting boycotts of Israel.

On Friday, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced that Copenhagen will cut back on support for Palestinian NGOs and introduce “rigorous” monitoring of the destination of Danish funds.
French publisher recalls children's mag. saying Israel not real
One of France’s oldest publishing houses announced the recall of a magazine for children featuring trivia game cards stating that Israel and North Korea are not real countries.

The cards that appeared in the January 2018 edition of the Youpi magazine, which belongs to the Groupe Bayard publishing house, read: “197: We call these 197 countries states, like France, Germany or Algeria. There are others, too, but not all the world’s countries agree that all of them are real countries (for example the State of Israel or North Korea.”)

CRIF, the federation of Jewish communities and organizations of France, protested the publication of the cards. Francis Kalifat, the president of CRIF, called the cards, intended for children aged 5-10, a “factual lie and a flagrant one at that.”

Pascal Ruffenach, the president of the Bayard publishing house, which was founded in the 19th century, said in a statement that his establishment “clearly never intended to cast into doubt Israel’s existence,” saying the card in question was an “error.”

The publishing house said it will recall the magazines and pulp the cards in question.
Leftist organization barred from using public building
The Be'er Sheva municipality informed the left-wing organization Negev Coexistence Forum that it was evacuating it from an urban shelter where it would hold political events found objectionable by the municipality.

The organization held events accusing Israel of using Gaza and the PA as testing grounds for Israeli ammunition, and glorifying IDF refusers, even as it was supposed to be dealing with the subject of equality and dialogue between the Israeli and Bedouin communities in the Negev.

"The municipality still believes that the activity that took place on the property allocated to the association is contrary to the agreement between the parties, contrary to the goals of the association and contrary to the land allocation procedure," wrote the city's legal advisor, Haim Turkel.

"After the association was given several opportunities to amend the repeated violations of the agreement, and after the association rejected the municipality's demands, the mayor decided, by virtue of his authority, to cancel the agreement for the allocation of the building."
JPost Editorial: Lorde and the BDS bullies
What does Lorde, the 21-year-old singer from New Zealand, know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Very little, which made her a perfect candidate to be taken captive by the BDS movement.

When Lorde let it be known last week on her Twitter feed that she planned to perform in Tel Aviv in June, she came under pressure to cancel by the self-appointed commissars of “correct” opinions -- BDS activists.

Bullying pop artists into conforming to the opinions of a left-wing consensus that sees itself as having a monopoly over what is acceptable to think and believe is a tactic that is not unique to the BDS movement.

In the US, singer Taylor Swift has been denigrated for failing to fall into lock step with the “correct” form of feminism that views abortion as a right that must be financed by employers and views US President Donald Trump, but not Bill Clinton, as a crude sexual predator.

For the young Lorde, who is clueless about Zionism and knows nothing about Israel’s long history of struggle with a violent, intolerant and antisemitic Arab national movement, it is no political statement to appear in Tel Aviv before a crowd of globalized Israeli youths. It is an economic statement.
David Collier: Following the hate – an open letter to Lorde
This letter is simply one written by a Jew who fights antisemitism, and sees the boycott movement against Israel for what it truly is.

I ask you two simple questions:

Firstly Lorde, I am assuming you understand the history of antisemitism. Centuries of expulsions, persecutions, boycotts, massacres and genocide. History highlights antisemitism as a disease that mutates, with Jews caught between Christian accusations of deicide, Muslim Dhimmi status, racist ideologies and far-left communism. There can be no denial of this. So if Israel is the Jewish return to self-rule, how do you think that State would be treated? How would Israel be received in a world that cannot shake antisemitism? What manner of hate would that tiny state be subject to – if not conflict, demonisation, exceptionalism and boycott?

Secondly. ask yourself why you can go and play in Russia, and hardly anybody notices? Why is it that artists can appear almost anywhere on earth, in nations that truly abuse large segments of their own populations, or that are a cause of major conflict and loss of life, and there is no visible movement that opposes them?

Any honest answer to these two questions will contain the simple truth about the boycott against Israel. It is the ‘Jewish thing’. Everything else is irrelevant detail, set out to deceive innocent people into believing that this time, unlike all the other times, boycotting the Jews is the right thing to do.
New Zealand ambassador invites Lorde to meeting
After the firestorm of controversy over Lorde canceling a show in Tel Aviv, the Israeli ambassador to New Zealand has asked to meet with the singer.

According to Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Yitzhak Gerberg has invited Lorde to a "friendly meeting" to discuss the issue.

"By succumbing to the hateful agenda of the few who support BDS you encourage animosity in the region," Gerberg wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning. "Music should unite not divide. Reactions driven by hatred lead to continued conflict. But solutions come from engagement and lead to compromise, co-operation, and peace."
Jewish Groups, Music Industry Execs Criticize Lorde’s ‘Deeply Disappointing’ Cancellation of Upcoming Israel Concert Due to BDS Pressure
A number of Jewish groups and entertainment industry executives have expressed criticism of New Zealand singer Lorde after she cancelled an upcoming concert in Israel due to pressure she received from supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Juliet Moses — a spokesperson for the New Zealand Jewish Council — said in a statement that the group was “deeply disappointed that Lorde has succumbed to a small but loud group of extremist bullies.”

“By cancelling her show,” Moses added, “Lorde has sided with those who support the isolation and demonization of the one Jewish state in the world. She has ignored the moderate voices, including the vast majority of Jewish Kiwis, who believe in dialogue and co-existence, and the leading musicians like Radiohead, Nick Cave, Guns N Roses and Justin Bieber who have performed in Tel Aviv in the last year.”

Moses also noted that although the 21-year-old singer was still scheduled to perform in Russia, “no one accuses her of complicity with Putin, the occupation of the Crimea or chemical warfare in Syria.”
During the past decade, social media has emerged as a primary tool for activists hoping to drive change on a wide variety of topics. Although savvy social media use can help raise awareness for a given issue, more often than not, even viral messages are largely empty gestures.

As opposed to generating real change, social media is often merely a tool for “slacktivism”—internet actions that require little involvement beyond a click of the mouse or writing an ephemeral but clever tweet. This creates a sense of doing something positive and being part of a mass movement, but in practice, very little is accomplished beyond feel-good moments for the participants.

Dec. 10 marked the annual international Human Rights Day, an opportunity to take stock of the state of human rights and to consider the role of “slacktivism” in campaigns to promote these universal values. After all, you will likely be bombarded on Facebook and Twitter to “like,” “share” and “retweet” human rights-related hashtags.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, with dozens upon dozens of well-financed human rights NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and U.N. agencies, is rife with illustrative examples.

For more than a year, Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the most well-funded and powerful NGOs, has conducted an obsessive campaign against Israel. What is this fundamental problem that lies at the root of the conflict and has the possibility to bring human rights, peace and coexistence to the region? Whether Israel should be kicked out of the international soccer federation, FIFA, because a handful of minor league soccer teams are based over the 1949 armistice line.

Although HRW lobbied FIFA directly, the real action for the NGO was on social media. The NGO’s social media pages and the accounts of its top employees overflowed with posts on the topic. Ultimately, these energies were a total waste, as FIFA refused to suspend Israel.
Canada: Obsessed with "Islamophobia"
The current government seems not to believe that Islamic terrorism in Canada even exists.

The RCMP guide is premised on the belief that radicalization occurs because of perceptions of "injustice" (not because of perceptions of jihad). Islamic groups are not mentioned. The message is that terrorism is "diverse" and has nothing to do with Islam. However, Public Safety Canada's list of terrorist entities contains 54 terrorist groups, 46 of which are Islamic terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the war on free speech in Canada grinds on: Ottawa Public Library cancelled the screening of "Killing Europe", a documentary about, ironically, among other things, the death of free speech in Europe. Ottawa Public Library deemed this content not suitable for Canadians -- apparently snowflakes, not allowed to know about the rise of migrant rape crime, anti-Semitism, far-leftist violence and other irritants in Europe.

While worried about graffiti, Canadian authorities appear far less concerned about deterring Canadian imams from preaching jihad, Jew-hatred and the murder of Jews to their Muslim congregations, despite Jews being approximately twelve times more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than Muslims are. For anti-Muslim graffiti, you go to jail for five months, but inciting an entire congregation to kill Jewish citizens does not even merit prosecution.
Honest Reporting: Dishonest Reporter of the Year Award 2017
The biggest surprise of this year’s Dishonest Reporter Award is that the winner has never been given the accolade in the past. However, The Independent has a long and distinguished record of anti-Israel coverage.

Who can forget “classics” such as 2003’s appalling and demonizing cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby that drew upon recognizable anti-Semitic tropes?

The infamous 2003 cartoon by The Independent’s Dave Brown, depicting Ariel Sharon biting into the flesh of a Palestinian baby. The background shows Apache attack helicopters firing missiles, and blaring the message “Vote Sharon.”

And what about the utterly false 2006 front page story by Robert Fisk accusing Israel of using “secret uranium weapons” against the Lebanese? To this day, Fisk and The Independent have failed to retract the libel even after the claim was debunked by UN and Lebanese officials.

While The Independent has not sullied itself quite as dramatically this year, its failure relates to the fundamentals of ethical journalism.
Where’s Your Correspondent?
Honest Reporting: What You Were Reading: The Top 10 Posts of 2017
Israel had plenty of intense moments in 2017. As we “call it a year,” it’s worth looking back on the 10 most-read posts. What do the articles you clicked on say about the year that was?
1. The journalist’s story

Foreign journalist Hunter Stuart came to the Mideast with a pre-conceived understanding that Palestinians are victims and that Israel is powerful and oppressive. So what changed? Stuart tells us, in his own words:

Eight years of working for the news media has made me more and more alarmed by how partisan it’s becoming. News publishers these days target millennials on social media who’d rather see their own opinions validated than see an article that’s balanced and objective. These audiences don’t want to have their biases challenged. If the media exists only to reaffirm what we already believe, we’ll only become more divided, and there will only be more and more conflict in the world.

EXCLUSIVE: How Reporting From Israel Changed My Worldview Forever

2. Erasing Jews from history

While the practice is not uncommon, in this case the BBC was particularly blatant. Did they really think we wouldn’t notice?

BBC Erases Jews from Ancient Israel
Enough with the lies: MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin

BBC’s Hardtalk presenter paints inaccurate portraits
Sackur is apparently able to ignore the irony of the fact that while on the one hand he rebukes Bennett (and Trump) for calling Jerusalem Israel’s capital, invoking an ‘international consensus’ according to which the city’s status will only be determined through negotiations, on the other hand he has no problem advocating for the same claim from the other side of the conflict. Bennett responded:

Bennett: “Well you’ve got your facts wrong. I happen to work in Jerusalem every day and I drive through the Old City. There’s no wall between the west and east Jerusalem. There is no west and east Jerusalem. There is just Jerusalem. I can get out of this studio, get in a car and drive directly to the Western Wall or Temple Mount. There’s no…”

Sackur [interrupts]: “Well hang on a minute. I didn’t couch my question in terms of the Old City. You know as well as I do there are many points in Jerusalem where you can go up to a great big wall. On one side is the Jewish residential area. On the other side is the Arab residential area. And if you don’t call it a wall, you can call it a fence. Call it what you like but Jerusalem still has a divide.”

Obviously BBC audiences would understand from Sackur’s portrayal of Jerusalem that “a great big wall” separates Arab and Jewish areas in Jerusalem. As the map below – produced by the BBC’s go-to NGO B’tselem – shows and as Naftali Bennett later clarified, that is not the case. The anti-terrorist fence (and notably Sackur displayed no interest in explaining to his viewers and listeners why it had to be built) which is marked in red on the map actually runs more or less along the city’s municipal boundary – marked in yellow. On the same side of the fence as Jewish neighbourhoods are Arab neighbourhoods such as Sur Baher, Abu Tur, Silwan, Issawiya and Jabel Mukaber.
The BBC’s Christmas message: Trump ruined it – part one
In a filmed report that appeared on the BBC News website on December 24th under the title “Bethlehem celebrates Christmas amid heightened tensions” Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman told audiences:

Bateman: “Well the crowds have turned out in their hundreds for the day but the numbers are much lighter than in previous years. And that’s because tourism has taken a severe dent here because of fears over clashes that have taken place in the last few weeks in the occupied West Bank ever since Donald Trump announced that the US officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The synopsis to another filmed report – “Bethlehem Christmas: Church of the Nativity hosts pilgrims” – posted in the early hours of December 25th tells BBC audiences that:

“Fewer people than usual were in the West Bank town because of increased tensions between Palestinians and the Israeli army since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Interestingly, BBC Christmas reporting from Bethlehem has in previous years also included comment on the number of tourists visiting the town. BBC audiences have repeatedly been told sad tales of dwindling crowds that have been attributed to a variety of (inevitably Israel related) factors.
The BBC’s Christmas message: Trump ruined it – part two
Although that deliberate cancelling of festivities (along with a similar – but failed – attempt by the mayor of Nazareth) could obviously account for some cancellations by tourists, the BBC is clearly not interested in letting its audiences know that just as Palestinian officials jeopardised Christmas tourism by calling for violence and bloodshed in response to the US announcement concerning Jerusalem, they have also given tourists much less of a reason to visit Bethlehem by cancelling parts of the festivities.

Just as the BBC never portrays Palestinians as having agency or being responsible for the violence they choose to instigate, the corporation’s narrative does not include own goal political posturing by Palestinian leaders which harms the tourist industry upon which many Bethlehem residents rely.

Instead, as we see in these BBC Christmas reports from Bethlehem, the narrative the corporation has chosen to promote once again lays the blame at the door of any party other than the Palestinians themselves and this year the BBC has chosen to uniformly promote simplistic and politically motivated messaging blaming the US president for the results of choices made by Palestinian leaders.
Australian City of Melbourne Hit by Christmas Day Antisemitic Vandalism Incident
A Jewish man’s home was hit with antisemitic vandalism in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, the Daily Mail reported.

The Christmas Day incident saw swastikas and “SS” spray-painted on the “brick fence, driveway, and front door” of the house.

According to the Daily Mail, this was the latest in a recent series of vandalism acts across Melbourne.

Dr. Dvir Abramovich — the head of the Anti-Defamation Commission, which fights antisemitism in Australia — told the Daily Mail, “We decry this disturbing act of bigotry which is an attack on the decency of all Australians.”

Abramovich pointed toward a larger phenomenon, saying Monday’s incident “fits a pattern of increased racist crimes targeting the Jewish community.”
Pop star Yeng Constantino snaps her way through the Holy Land
Filipina pop-rock singer and reality TV star Yeng Constantino is currently in Israel, touring the country and it's sites with her husband Yan Asuncion.

The couple took advantage of the Christmas period and the great weather to visit some of the country's holy sites add some Holy land charm to her Instagram account.

Among the places they visited: The Tel Aviv beach, ancient Jaffa, the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall and Nazareth.

Yeng, who has earned dozens of music awards in her home country, arrived in Israel after going on Safari in Kenya.
Her Instagram account also features photos from Melbourne, Vienna and Toronto.
Merck, China’s WuXi AppTec to launch biotech incubator in Israel
Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company WuXi AppTec Group is partnering with Merck Serono, a subsidiary of company Merck KGaA, to launch a pharma and biotech startup incubator in Israel in early 2018. Israel-born businessman Mori Arkin and life sciences-focused venture capital fund Pontifax Ltd. will also be part of the venture. The plans were declared last week in an event held by the partners in Tel Aviv.

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Named “Explore Bio”, the incubator will be located at Merck Serono’s existing complex in Yavne, a town in central Israel. One person familiar with the matter said the incubator is already evaluating investments in several Israeli firms and estimated each company will receive an initial investment of several million dollars.

WuXi AppTec R&D center in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg WuXi AppTec R&D center in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg

In addition to funding, the incubator will assist with drug development, provide feasibility and market demand assessments, and offer early-stage mentoring. The incubator will not rely on government support, but will be funded entirely by the partners. Currently, there is no upper limit to the number of participating companies.
Israeli drip irrigation experts guide Swaziland farmers in agricultural training
Deputy ambassador to South Africa Ayellet Black led a course on drip irrigation and crop management in Swaziland with two Israeli experts, Shlomo Kramer and Nissim Sroussi, earlier this month.

This comes after a severe drought, caused by the effects of El Nino, almost crippled Swaziland last year and left hundreds of thousands without food, endangering the country’s food security.

Black, who is also the deputy ambassador to Lesotho, Mauritius and Swaziland, said in an interview with South Africa’s Jewish radio station, Chai FM, that this visit was essentially bringing two experts in the field of irrigation and crop management to the small Southern African country for a joint course, together with Swaziland’s Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise.

“Both of us together trained 19 trainers in the agricultural field so they will know exactly how to train various farmers on how to irrigate and manage crops correctly so that they can yield a lot more from their various agricultural endeavors,” she said, adding that this was her second time in the country after she visited in March with two other Israeli irrigation experts who created the course.

Black said that when they started the course in the country earlier this month, the principal secretary of Swaziland’s Agricultural Ministry came and gave a “fantastic speech about the beautiful relationships and mounds of cooperation that is to be had, and we’re hoping that this will be the first of many courses that Israel and Swaziland can do together.”

“A lot of their challenges are challenges Israel has coped with in the past and are still coping with now and we’re happy to work together and see how we can both produce better food management and to hopefully combat the climate change, which is affecting the entire continent and affecting Africa more-so than any other continent, and to combat the fact that climate change is causing about 4% of fertile land loss every year [in Africa]. So these are two major factors that need to be dealt with accordingly.”
Jewish pilot who flew last combat mission of World War II dies at 93
Jerry Yellin, who flew the last combat mission of World War II and later helped fellow veterans overcome their trauma, has died.

Yellin died Thursday in Florida at the home of one of his four sons after battling lung cancer. He was 93.

Yellin, a lieutenant in the 78th Fighter Squadron of the US Army Air Forces, was leading an attack on Japanese airfields on August 15, 1945 when Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender. When he returned to his base on Iwo Jima, Yellin learned that a cease-fire had taken hold, and that his squadron had not received the coded signal informing them to halt their attack, the last of the war.

Yellin’s wingman, Lt. Philip Schlamberg, 19, of Brooklyn, who Yellin had mentored, was shot down during that last raid, after having a premonition that he would not come out of the mission alive.

“Because of our common Jewish heritage and because he was one of our younger pilots, I had naturally taken Phil under my wing,” Yellin recalled in “The Last Fighter Pilot,” a biography written by Don Brown with Yellin’s collaboration and published this year, according to the New York Times.

He was greatly disturbed by having witnessed the carnage on Iwo Jima where he said “there wasn’t a blade of grass and there were 28,000 bodies rotting in the sun,” and later having 16 members of his squadron killed on missions.

Some 6,800 American servicemen and over 20,000 Japanese were killed in the battle for the Pacific island.

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