Thursday, January 25, 2018

From Ian:

Ben Shapiro: Partisan Divide over Israel
That deeper element is worldview, exposed by 9/11 and exacerbated over time by increasing partisan bickering over Islamic terrorism. From 1978 through the Oslo Accord, support for Israelis declined while support for the Palestinians stayed approximately even. About as many Americans said they supported “neither party” or “both” as said they supported the Israelis. That’s because the United States faced virtually no threat from Islamic radicalism. After Oslo, support for Israel jumped, particularly as Israel was hit by wave after wave of Palestinian terrorism.

Then, after 9/11, support for Israelis jumped among Republicans and never stopped growing. Conservative Americans, who had been more likely to draw a moral equation between Israel and her enemies, identified with the Israelis — they saw Israel as an outpost of Western civilization in a region rife with Islamic terrorism. They saw Palestinians handing out candies as the World Trade Center towers fell, and they knew that Israelis had been facing down the same threat. The real, meaningful conflict between Islamist barbarism and Western liberalism was thrown into sharp relief.

Democrats, too, initially responded to 9/11 with more support for Israel. But as the war on terror progressed, Democrats began to see Western civilization as the provocative agent. Too many on the left saw Islamic terrorism as a response to Western cruelty — cruelty to which Israel was supposedly a party. Nowhere was this clearer than in the media coverage of the Gaza War, which glorified Hamas at the expense of Israel, even as Israel tried to avoid civilian casualties and Hamas tried to inflict them. The Obama administration reflected that viewpoint, which is why it pursued Iranian regional growth with alacrity. The West, Obama and the Democrats thought, had to withdraw from the Middle East in order to empower dispossessed Islamists (hence State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf’s asinine suggestion that ISIS be given jobs to help them avoid terrorism).

Unfortunately, the gap yawns ever greater. Republicans live in a post-9/11 world; Democrats live in a pre-9/11 world. That has dramatic, unfortunate implications for Israel: In a polarized political environment, the historic bipartisan support for the Jewish state is quickly eroding. That’s not a bipartisan problem. That’s a specifically Democratic problem, and one that should encourage Jews to examine whether the Democratic Party ought to re-evaluate its moral worldview in the Middle East.

Glenn Simpson, Conspiracy Theorist, Finds a Place for the Jews in his Trump-Russia Fantasia
In April 2017, Politico published “The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin.” How are they connected? Well, Putin is close to several Chabad supporters, as well as Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi. Trump worked with some Russian emigres who are active in Chabad, including a convicted felon, Felix Sater. In Florida, Trump hosted the wedding of the daughter of a Chabad supporter he knows to an associate of one of the Chabad supporters who is close to Putin.

What does all this tell us about the alleged relationship between Trump and Putin?

“Their respective ambitions led the two men,” writes Politico, “to build a set of close, overlapping relationships in a small world that intersects on Chabad, an international Hasidic movement most people have never heard of.”

You see—they’re furtive. Almost no one has heard of them. The only people who appear to understand Chabad’s role in the secret Trump-Putin collusion conspiracy are the author of the story and Glenn Simpson, who came back to this insane theory again in his testimony before Congress. Yet this lunacy was evidently plausible enough to the editorial staff at Politico, whose headline is the only thing that actually connects Trump and Putin in a story insinuating a secret Jewish plot to undermine American democracy.

In the past, it was Russian intelligence that trafficked in disinformation operations tagging Jews as the engine of instability in Western countries. The most famous specimen was The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And previously, the ethics and institutional structures of the mainstream American press prevented conspiracy theories from polluting the country’s public sphere. Today, by contrast, American journalists congratulating themselves for their ever-vigilant stance against Russian encroachment on our democratic institutions willingly usher in updated versions of the Protocols. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Making peace with Israel
In all my discussions with the high-ups of the Pakistani security establishment, politicians and diplomats there is a high acceptance and willingness to engage with Israel. The problem is that nobody wants to take the lead and responsibility fearing a backlash from the right-wing religious hawks that wrongly put it as a religious issue. The result is that Pakistan’s foreign policy has continued to suffer due to its shortsighted and spineless leadership that fears mullah more than Allah.

Pakistan’s stale Israel policy reflects a deeper level rot in its governance, inability to change and non-strategic personalised foreign policy. Take for instance Pakistan’s bi-relations with Saudi Arabia. It’s more of a House of Saud and House of Sharif relation than a state-to-state level relation. The US-Pak relations are in reality Pakistan military and US relations. Same is the case with Pakistan’s relations with Turkey, Iran and the UK. Essentially, the ruling elite in Pakistan have used the state to garner and develop its personal interests at the expense of national interests — a tragedy that inhibits Pakistan from any real policy change.

Make no mistake; Pakistan’s Israel policy is not driven by any grandiose ideas of human rights or Muslim solidarity, and especially not out of any national interest. The senseless policy on Israel continues to exist because the elite don’t see any personal or institutional benefit in the relation. The day our leadership sees a personal financial or military benefit, no fear of mullah or Allah can stop. Until then, Pakistan will continue with its senseless policy expecting a different result in its global standing. (h/t Solomon2)

Alan Dershowitz: Do Jews Control the World?
The essence of antsemitism, is to believe that everything positive about Jews should be interpreted negatively. Consider the hard left’s absurd accusation against Israel of “pinkwashing.” Those who accuse Israel of pinkwashing acknowledge that Israel has among the best records in the world of supporting the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Certainly they have the best record in the Middle East.

Yet the antisemites who accuse Israel of pinkwashing claim that the only reason Israel supports the rights of sexual minorities is to cover up — to whitewash, or in this case pinkwash — how badly they treat the Palestinians. This perverse accusation fails to consider the reality that Israel supports these rights because it is the right thing to do. Indeed, within Israeli society those who support gay rights are more likely to support Palestinians than those who oppose these rights. But these facts are irrelevant to the antisemites who believe that the nation state of the Jewish people can do nothing good, except for bad reasons.

The other lie that follows from “The Jews control the world,” is that individual Jews who happen to have succeeded and are in positions of authority, always work together on behalf of Jewish control of the world. The reality is quite different. Consider, for example, the alleged Jewish control of the media. It is true that Jewish families have ownership interests in The New York Times and other newspapers. But those newspapers don’t promote Jewish “control” of the world. Indeed, they are often at odds with Jewish public opinion. The same is true of Wall Street, Hollywood and academia, where individual Jews hold diverse opinions on issues of Jewish concern. But to the antisemite, all Jews are the same and their goal — to control the world — is identical.

So, no — Jews do not control the world. Many contribute to the world through their individual accomplishments, but that is true of members of every religion, ethnic and racial group. The world would be a poorer place — intellectually, artistically, charitably and in many other ways — if there were no Jews. Many European countries that were complicit in ridding themselves of their Jewish populations have come to regret their actions. So let’s make sure that Europe’s remaining Jews remain safe from the antisemites who spread the lie of Jewish control of the world.
Good News and Bad News on American Support for Israel
In short, Israel maintains enviable support among Americans, but “the partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978.”

There is probably not much to be done in the near term about liberal Democrats, who demand concessions from Israel in the absence of any well-founded hope, much less a guarantee, further concessions will bring peace. Yet, as we may well learn if the Democrats are in control come 2021, there are dangers in having one’s future tied to a party whose ascendancy may prove to be very brief.

Conservative and moderate Democrats still sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians by a 2-to-1 margin, but that support has fallen sharply since 2016. The usual caveats about over-reading a single poll apply, but it is nonetheless striking that what was a 53 percent to 19 percent margin is now 35 percent to 17 percent. Like the movement of the party overall, the change reflects movement into the “both,” “neither,” and “don’t know” columns, rather than a definite anti-Israel trend. There is no decisive reason to believe that these people cannot be won back or that some semblance of the long-enduring bipartisan consensus on Israel cannot be restored.

Of course, those who love Israel should not be shy about welcoming many aspects of President Trump’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But one should be wary of hugging him or the present incarnation of the Republican Party too hard.
IsraellyCool: So What Are We Doing Wrong, and How Can We Fix It?
We need to paint Israel not as a heaven or a hell, but a normal country just like every other, that is sometimes faced with dilemmas, sometimes makes mistakes, and does the best it can with the situation it’s been given, even if sometimes it has to do things it doesn’t particularly enjoy as the lesser of evils. As a country that just wants to be treated equally, that should not have an entire topic at every UN General Assembly dedicated to finding things wrong with it. Not only does tempering our message make it easier to relate to us on an emotional level, and more approachable, it also makes us appear more transparent. Transparency, or at least the illusion therof, is a value very important to information-savvy millennials.

However, we also hope to captivate. To move, to inspire, with the rugged, raw truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly, that demonstrates not perfection, but doing the best we can with what we have. We know that in order to move minds, we have to move hearts first, and people aren’t moved by stories of effortless success, rather struggles grappled with, obstacles overcome against the odds, humanity at its most vulnerable. Our story of defeating those who sought to destroy us against the odds is what so enchanted people in the 1960’s, that some Arabs in Egypt founded the PLO to quash our success, with a narrative that we have allowed to leech in the mainstream due to apathy. Our story represents an identity we shed in favour of one of having “made it,” that while impressive, is not particularly likeable. People yearn for catharsis, a character they can relate to that makes mistakes and is imperfect just like them, stories of messing up and seeking to correct it, of having flaws yet good intentions, of having a loving, beating, albeit broken heart.

Baring our souls is not airing our dirty laundry, but opening our hearts to both emit and absorb. We are not looking to be worshiped or even revered, rather be treated the same as everyone else. There is a struggle inside every Israeli – one that is as beautiful and captivating as it is at times tragic and brooding. It’s time to set that struggle free to truly connect with the world.
Richard Millet: Indy’s former Jerusalem correspondent: Hamas tunnels are a “testament to their hard work & ingenuity”
Last night at SOAS in London another journalist came to the rescue of Israelis when Donald Macintyre – contributor to the Guardian and The Independent’s former Jerusalem correspondent – said he wanted his new book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn to be translated into Hebrew. He said that while Israeli intelligence has a good idea about the situation in Gaza “the Israeli public” didn’t which was made worse by Israeli journalists being banned from Gaza in 2006.

This reminds me of Tariq Ali’s “The end of Israel would benefit all Israelis.” Thank goodness for these wise men who can help the Israeli people!

Maybe Macintyre is unaware that Israelis have access to the internet and even have TV and radio.

He was speaking to the London Middle East Institute as well as the Centre for Palestine Studies, which are both based at SOAS.

He said his book was written to “challenge the myths” about Gaza. For example, that Arafat got a good deal at Camp David and that Israel had left Gaza in 2005 (because it still retains control over Gaza’s airspace and waters).

Another “myth” was that “the settlers’ installations had been destroyed by the Palestinians” after Israel withdrew. Macintrye said that there had been some looting but that it was “quickly brought under control” and there had been a successful harvest that year.

However, he said, only 4% of the harvest was able to leave Gaza with the remainder rotting or being sold on Gaza’s markets “at knock down prices”.

Macintyre said that Hamas were “a relatively pragmatic Islamist regime”. He also said that the conditions imposed on Hamas after their election win in 2005 were impossible for Hamas because they would overturn their “raison d’etre”.

He didn’t tell us what this “raison d’etre” was but judging by the wording in their 1988 Charter Hamas’ “raison d’etre” is to murder Jews and annihilate Israel.
Britain needs to wake up to the threat from Hezbollah
While Al-Qaeda and Isis have been the subject of well-deserved scorn amongst the British people, Hezbollah still cuts something of a more tolerable figure. Many on the left seem to regard the group as a reputable component of some anti-globalisation coalition. At a recent pro-Palestinian march, participants had to be reminded not to fly the group’s flag. Any effort to afford the group such sympathy is shameful. Hezbollah has become the world’s premier terrorist entity – the only group of its kind capable of starting a major conventional war.

If the UK wishes to be taken seriously as a major player on the world stage, it should move quickly to reverse the advances it has made, as part of a full-throated effort to prevent renewed conflict in the region. Placing much more severe conditions on the dispatch of international aid to Lebanon – much of which winds up in the group’s hands – would be a useful start.

However, things are far too advanced for a ‘softly, softly’ approach to carry with it hope of success. The only logical next step can and must be the proscription of Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist group. Taking that step would not only give much needed momentum to the efforts being considered by Britain’s international partners in curtailing Iran’s regional expansion and Hezbollah’s takeover of Lebanon, but would also give the group pause for thought before using its newfound strength to initiate hostilities. This could potentially avert a conflict that would be both a disaster for an already reeling region and gravely detrimental to our own interest in a stable Middle East.
Britons support full Hezbollah ban by four to one
Britons are four times more likely to support the proscription of Hezbollah’s political wing as to oppose it.

The views of the country are laid bare for the first time today in an exclusive ComRes poll for the Jewish News, as MPs prepare to debate whether the government’s ban should extend beyond the military wing.

In a representative poll of 2,038 adults, forty-four percent said they would support or strongly support the political wing being designated a terrorist group, compared with just 10 percent who were opposed. With forty-six percent answering ‘don’t know’, it means a staggering 81 percent of those expressing a view backed its designation as a terrorist organisation.

Young people are most likely to oppose, with 23 percent of 18-34-year-old who express a view opposing the proposal compared to 17 percent of over 55s.

Among Jewish respondents, 91 percent were in support, with nine percent who ‘don’t know’. Muslims were more than twice as likely to support an extension of the designation as be opposed to it.
Labour tells its MPs: reject call to ban Hezbollah
Labour MPs have been advised not to push for Hezbollah to be banned in Britain because party leaders want to “encourage” the terrorist group “down an effective democratic path”.

The advice came ahead of a backbench debate on the issue on Thursday organised by Joan Ryan, a Labour MP and chair of the party's Friends of Israel group.

The briefing advises backbenchers: “There is a balance between making absolutely clear our abhorrence of using violence to achieve political ends and at the same time encouraging organisations down an effective democratic path.

“Full proscription could be a move against dialogue and meaningful peace negotiations in the Middle East.”

Ms Ryan will move a motion in the Commons noting Hezbollah’s “antisemitic ideology that seeks the destruction of Israel” and urging the government to add the group’s political wing to the list of proscribed organisations.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, described Hezbollah, and the Hamas terror group, as “friends” during a parliamentary meeting in 2009.
Can UK MPs turn to the BBC for accurate information on Hizballah?
Remarkably, neither of these reports makes any mention of Hizballah’s criminal activities abroad that fund its terrorism. The only oblique reference to Hizballah’s violations of UNSC resolutions – a topic serially avoided by the BBC – comes in the vague statement “UN Security Council resolutions call for armed militia groups like Hizbollah to disarm”.

Hizballah’s manipulation of internal Lebanese politics (a subject similarly under-reported by the BBC) is also sidelined in the report, as are the effects of its terror activities on the Lebanese banking system. Like the BBC, this report also ignores the issue of Hizballah’s attempts to set up terror cells inside Israel.

Given that these two research briefings are lacking much of the information relevant to an informed discussion of Hizballah, it would be natural for members of the British public and MPs alike to turn to their publicly funded national broadcaster in order to look for more in-depth information.

Unfortunately, however, the BBC has itself spent years cultivating the myth of separate ‘wings’ of Hizballah and whitewashing the fact that it is a terrorist organisation through use of euphemisms such as “Lebanese Shia group” as well as misrepresenting its terror designation by numerous countries and misleading audiences with regard to its activities.
Boycotting the boycotters
And another question: if BDS’s methods cannot change Israelis’ behavior, if their lack of empathy and curiosity about their enemy leaves them bereft of any clear grasp of their own strategy, then what good are they to Palestinians? In BDS’s ignorance is laid bare yet again the deeper Palestinian predicament, the one that sustains the imbalance with Israel: their continuing unwillingness to grapple seriously and strategically with the hard and unpleasant fact of Israel’s permanence.

The battle between Israel and BDS is one of those political fictions that only make sense if you don’t look at them too closely. In the end, BDS is fighting an Israel that only exists in its imagination. It is not curious enough, not serious enough, or perhaps simply too innately prejudiced, to take up the much harder challenge of seeking to affect the real living society whose behaviors it ostensibly seeks to change.

Of course, that’s not a moral defense of Israel. Even if Israel really is as bad as BDS claims, and even if it is worse, that doesn’t change the point that BDS is not really interested enough in what drives Israeli behavior to construct the strategic capabilities to begin to change it. BDS is thus an exercise whose ultimate end is its means; it seeks not political reform, but the exclusion itself — a permanent response to an innately perfidious enemy.

And what of Israel’s war against so oafish an enemy? What of that tiny corner of Israeli officialdom that, with unclear purpose, charges so gleefully into this odd battle? Here we find neither the bigotry of BDS nor any great wisdom or understanding. Israel, too, did not set out to battle a real enemy in the real, hard, intimate ways of war, but crafted out of its actual opponent a tailor-made stand-in, constructed for purposes less noble and entirely less interesting than it pretends.
Students Protest University College London’s Restriction on Event With Ex-IDF Soldier
The heads of Israel and Jewish societies have condemned University College London’s (UCL) decision to restrict attendance to an upcoming talk with a former Israeli soldier, saying the move failed to demonstrate the school’s commitment to free speech.

Hen Mazzig — who facilitated humanitarian projects in the West Bank while completing his IDF service — was invited to speak at UCL by administrators, after a talk he gave in October 2016 was interrupted by students. A university investigation into the incident found that “hostile and abusive protestors” gathered near the room where Mazzig was speaking, then forcibly entered through the windows and used loudspeakers and chants — including some “that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic” — in an effort to drown him out. Mazzig eventually had to be escorted out of the building by police.

While university spokesperson Charles Hymas told The Algemeiner that Mazzig was invited to speak this upcoming Thursday “to reaffirm our commitment to free speech,” administrators have been called out for limiting attendance to UCL students and staff — a restriction critics suggested was a capitulation to the protesters that first impeded Mazzig’s talk.

A petition signed by over 2,800 people accused the university of failing to publicly advertise the event, and noted that as the majority of individuals affected by the 2016 disruption were not affiliated with UCL, and rather hailed from the wider Jewish student community in London, they will once again be unable to hear Mazzig speak.
McGill Student Who Said He Was Targeted Over Jewish Identity Ratified to Undergraduate Board of Directors
Students at McGill University in Montreal, Canada voted last week to ratify their student government’s board of directors — including a peer who claimed to have been targeted for removal over his Jewish identity and pro-Israel views.

The online referendum comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Judicial Board, which found that a General Assembly (GA) decision in October to split the vote on the directors — which led to the failed ratification of three — was unconstitutional.

One of these directors, Noah Lew, wrote shortly after the GA meeting that he was “blocked from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations.” He added that Alexander Scheffel and Josephine Wright O’Manique — two non-Jewish directors who also failed to be ratified by the SSMU in October — were voted down “because they opposed the [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement and because they had attempted to support McGill’s Jewish students.”
Linda Sarsour: How the progressive left tolerates intolerance
It is true that criticism of Israel is not tantamount to anti-Semitism. However, there are anti-Zionists who are anti-Semitic. An example would be the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. He told a Chicago mosque that “there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks.” Farrakhan is a Jew-hater through-and-through. Not coincidentally, he and Sarsour have crossed paths with one another. Along with Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, two of the other co-chairs for the 2017 Women’s March, Sarsour developed a friendly relationship with Farrakhan many years ago. She delivered a speech at a rally organized by Farrakhan in 2015.

Rebecca Vilkommerson, director of the anti-Zionist organization Jewish Voice for Peace, called Lewis Farrakhan an anti-Semite during The New School’s 2017 panel on anti-Semitism. Sarsour allegedly responded by saying, “If what you’re reading all day long, morning and night, in the Jewish media, is that Linda Sarsour and Minister Farrakhan are the existential threat to the Jewish community, something really bad is going to happen and we’re going to miss the mark on it.” The implication in this statement was that, by focusing on Farrakhan and Sarsour, Jews ignore the more pressing concern of right-wing anti-Semitism. While Bernie Sanders would never let a neo-Nazi like Andrew Anglin campaign for him, he did just that with Linda Sarsour. Nazis are generally rejected by both liberals and conservatives, but Sarsour is a hero to the progressive left despite the fact that she, like Anglin, believes in the basic immorality of the Jewish media.

Sarsour’s anti-Semitism is not the only thing that diminishes her credibility as an activist. She has made several defenses of Sharia law, which she claims is misunderstood and has been pushed as some evil Muslim agenda. All attempts by religious authorities to make scriptural morality into law should be condemned. Otherwise, one ends up with a world in which countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Palestine can mandate that an alleged rapist cannot be sentenced for a crime if he marries his victim.

But it appears that Sarsour has little intention of combating sexism in the Muslim world. In reference to anti-Islam activists Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sarsour said on Twitter that she wanted to “take their vaginas away” because “they don’t deserve to be women.” When asked during an appearance at Dartmouth whether she thought that Tweet was acceptable, Sarsour would not admit that she ever published the tweet. Worse, she implied that question did not deserve to be answered because it was posed by “a young white man.” Considering Sarsour’s defense of Sharia law, it is unironic that she picked Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be the subject of the tweet about not deserving to be a woman. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s grandmother had some of Sarsour’s ideas in mind when she had her granddaughter subjected to female circumcision at the age of five.
Why Did Haaretz Publish a Pro-BDS Ad?
Where do newspaper editors draw the line when it comes to publishing controversial advertisements?

What line exists for a Jewish or Israeli media outlet?

The January 24 print edition of the Haaretz English edition ran this ad on page three. It was sponsored by a group of organizations recently blacklisted by Israel for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Jewish state. Leaders of the banned groups are barred from entering Israel.

If Haaretz wishes to publish ads critical of Israel’s policies concerning the Palestinians, it has every right to do so. Likewise, Haaretz is at liberty to publish an ad attacking the recent Israeli blacklist itself.

But the ad goes beyond criticizing the ban with a direct call for “BOYCOTT.”

Where does freedom of speech end and responsible judgment begin?

Haaretz claims to be a Zionist newspaper despite its often dissenting and controversial contents. So why publish a boycott call and promotion for a movement that, despite the naivety of some of its followers, has, at its core, the desire to see the destruction of the Israeli state?
Film directors criticize focus on Israel in French festival
More than 100 international film directors, producers, actors and industry workers have signed an open letter to a French film festival to protest against its decision to highlight Israeli films.

Signatories including British directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki and English-Australian actress Miriam Margolyes on Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over the festival's decision "to associate with the Israeli government as it is intensifying occupation, settlement policy and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people."

They urge the festival management to withdraw its partnership with Israeli authorities.

The FIPA festival this week in Biarritz, in southwestern France, aims to give the public the "opportunity to appreciate Israeli content and talent and to increase the sharing of experiences within the domains of writing, digital creation and training. Israel displays a remarkable expertise, a unique model of production, a stimulating artistic approach, and widely exported content," the festival's website said.
Lorde heckled in NY over canceled Israel gig
New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde faced a pro-Israel heckler on Wednesday night at a charity concert in New York City.

Last month, the 21-year-old singer canceled a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv after facing protests from the boycott movement. The decision placed her in the eye of a firestorm of controversy that extended for several weeks.

At one point in the show Wednesday night, which was a fund-raiser for The Ally Coalition, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ equality, Lorde said the crowd that turned out was "so nice."

"In Israel they're nice," a man shouted out from the crowd, in clear reference to the canceled show. "I know, I know," Lorde responded.

But her friend musician Jack Antonoff, who was seated next to her (and whose sister, Rachel, is one of the founders of the nonprofit), was less amenable.
Moscow college student barred from exam after refusing to remove kippa
A Jewish student at Moscow State University was barred from taking an exam because he refused to remove his kippa.

Lev Boroda, a film student, has filed a complaint about the incident with the university administration.

He was asked by his geography professor, Vyacheslav Baburin, to remove his kippa or leave the auditorium where the exam was being administered. Boroda later found another professor willing to proctor him for the exam.

The incident was reported Tuesday by the SOVA Center, a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization and think tank that focuses on nationalism and racism.

Boroda also told SOVA about a prior incident in which the university’s gym teacher told him to “cross himself” and “get baptized” when he asked for permission to skip a class for Yom Kippur.

Sergei Dobrolyubov, the dean of the geography department, said the professor was following the university’s rules, which prohibit head coverings to be worn indoors on campus. He said that last year, Baburin ordered female Muslim students to remove their headscarves before exams.
French lawmakers banned from wearing religious symbols in parliament
French lawmakers have been banned from wearing religious symbols in parliament under a proposal submitted by a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly’s administrative office adopted the proposal of En Marche’s François de Rugy, which states that in an effort to “maintain an atmosphere of neutrality” in the parliament does not permit the wearing of “ostensible” religious symbols, the AFP news agency reported.

Also forbidden are any kind of uniform, logos, or commercial messages or political slogans.

In 2004, parliament passed a law forbidden the wearing of religious symbols in public schools. It is only partially enforced, with many pupils wearing Muslim head covers and kippahs.

In 2016, Meyer Habib, a French Jewish lawmaker, and Claude Goasguen, a non-Jewish one, were filmed wearing the Jewish head covering briefly in the corridors of the National Assembly after a Jewish community leader from Marseille called on Jews to remove their kippahs as a security measure following a spate of anti-Semitic stabbings in the southern city.

Last year, Ali Ramlati, a Muslim woman from Macron’s party, was pictured wearing a head covering in her official picture on the website of the National Assembly. The picture exposed the party to criticism by people who said it obscured France’s strict separation between religion and state.
Is Israel treated differently by the foreign press? The question of group think & ‘Fake News’

Breaking the Media Silence on Mahmoud Abbas
So it is possible. There's no cosmic force, no unbreachable journalistic rule, preventing mainstream American publications from focusing on Mahmoud Abbas's indiscretions.

We know this because The Atlantic did just that — addressed vile rhetoric by the Palestinian president — and nothing happened, aside from the expected: Readers were told what the Palestinian president said, and ended up more fully informed about the man and the conflict he has failed to resolve.

Forthright reporting on Abbas shouldn't be so hard. But too many in the media have struggled with the task. The ugliest of utterances from his mouth have been concealed by those tasked with reporting on them, those same journalists who otherwise seem to believe the Arab-Israeli conflict is the epicenter of world news. So when Abbas recently said, in reference to Jews, that there is "no one better at falsifying history or religion than them," citing God himself to substantiate the anti-Semitic libel, the media silence was deafening.

The New York Times covered the Dec. 13, 2017 meeting at which Abbas made the statement, but decided the anti-Semitism by a head of state wasn't news fit to print.

The Times wasn't alone. The Washington Post, Associated Press, NPR, Reuters, and BBC, were likewise mum about Abbas's recitation of anti-Jewish verses from the Koran, which he used to make the point that Jews falsify the scriptures and history.
Austria's Jews boycott Holocaust commemoration over rise of far right
Austria's main Jewish body (IKG) will boycott a parliamentary Holocaust commemoration event because of the rise of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) which entered government last month, the IKG's chief said on Thursday.

The Freedom Party, junior coalition partner to Sebastian Kurz's conservatives, was founded by former Nazis and has repeatedly excluded members in Nazi scandals. It says it has left its Nazi past behind.

Kurz has vowed to focus on fighting anti-Semitism after Israel said it would not have direct contact with Freedom Party officials although the Foreign, Interior and Defense Ministers all entered cabinet on the far right ticket.

"We do not want anything to do with such people and we do not want to commemorate the people who died in the Shoah (Nazi holocaust) with such people," IKG chief Oskar Deutsch said on ORF radio.

"One should think about what kind of people are sitting in a government and what kind of people get voted into a parliament."

The Freedom Party gained third place with 26 percent of votes in parliamentary elections in October.

The conservative president of parliament, Wolfgang Sobotka, said he could understand the IKG's behaviour but also felt it was "a pity that some people are not coming."
Hungary church scraps mass for Nazi ally on International Holocaust Day
A Budapest church said Thursday it had canceled a controversial mass and memorial for Hungary’s Nazi-allied wartime leader Miklos Horthy scheduled for the United Nations Holocaust day.

The event is scheduled for January 27, designated by the UN in 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

“It didn’t enter our heads when we began organizing that it fell on that date,” Zoltan Osztie, parish priest at the church and leader of event organizers the Association of Christian Professionals (KESZ), told a religious affairs website.

Hungary’s main Jewish organization Mazsihisz criticized KESZ Wednesday as well as Sandor Lezsak, a lawmaker with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, who was scheduled to make a speech there.
Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban speaks during a press conference at the Hungarian Embassy on September 25, 2015 in Vienna. (AFP Photo/Dieter Nagl)

Mazsihisz said the participation of Lezsak, also a deputy speaker of the Hungarian parliament, “tramples on the memory of all the Hungarian victims.”
Paul Nehlen Is an Anti-Semitic Clown
Paul Nehlen is not an important political figure. According to his LinkedIn account, he’s had a successful career working in equipment manufacturing. He ran against Paul Ryan in the Wisconsin Republican primary in 2016 and got trounced; the speaker of the House won nearly 85 percent of the vote. And now, having declared for a second time his intention to unseat Ryan, Nehlen has become a caricature of an anti-Semitic Twitter troll.

The catalog of his absurd comments is too long to detail in full. Better to visit his feed and Ctrl+F search for “Jew” or “JQ”—an abbreviation for “Jewish Question,” a phrase that white supremacists and neo-Nazis use to refer to their paranoid analyses of Jews’ control over society.

But here’s a taste. After BuzzFeed published an article documenting Nehlen’s mobilization of online followers against the “Jewish media,” he tweeted out pictures of top media executives at CNN, NBC, and The New York Times with little stars of David superimposed on their faces. “Do the people pictured seem to have anything in common?” he wrote, before apparently deleting the tweet.

He claims that his views align with Christianity. “Jesus is the Messiah. He is One with the Father and the Holy Ghost,” he tweeted. “Jews (and others) who do not acknowledge this fact will burn in hell.”

And he loves making odd generalizations about what Jews are like. “Poop, incest, and pedophilia. Why are those common themes repeated so often with Jews?” he tweeted. One of Nehlen’s 89,000 followers declared that “@pnehlen is one of the few American Christians courageous and honest enough to defend the Faith against Islamists and Talmudic Pharisees alike even when it’s unpopular. God bless you, Paul!” Nehlen hit retweet.
Alleged German neo-Nazi on trial for targeting Jewish immigrants in 2000 bombing
Nearly 18 years after a bombing at a German commuter rail station targeting Jewish immigrants, the alleged neo-Nazi accused of the crime will go on trial on Thursday.

Ralf S., 51, stands accused of 12 counts of attempted murder and causing an explosion for the attack in the western city of Dusseldorf on the afternoon of July 27, 2000. Prosecutors say he had a “racist” motive.

The accused was known to police as a right-wing extremist at the time and ran a military surplus store near the scene of the crime, which drew international condemnation.

Ten eastern European migrants — six of them Jews from the former Soviet Union — were injured in the bombing.
ADL slams Erykah Badu over Hitler comments
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt had harsh words for singer Erykah Badu on Wednesday following her interview with Vulture where she appeared to defend not just Louis Farrakhan, but Hitler.

In the interview with David Marchese, which created immediate and intense buzz on social media, Badu said she was able to find good in anyone, even Hitler.

When Marchese asked her about her controversial support of Farrakhan, Badu said she’ll “follow anyone who has positive aspects... I see good in everybody. I saw something good in Hitler.”

Marchese responded, in perhaps the only possible way: “Come again?” But the 46-year-old singer was not deterred.

“Yeah, I did. Hitler was a wonderful painter,” she replied.

“No, he wasn’t! And even if he was, what would his skill as a painter have to do with any ‘good’ in him?” Marchese responded.

Badu was still determined to find a sympathetic side to the mass murderer of millions: “Okay, he was a terrible painter. Poor thing. He had a terrible childhood. That means that when I’m looking at my daughter...I could imagine her being in someone else’s home and being treated so poorly, and what that could spawn. I see things like that. I guess it’s just the Pisces in me.”
Diaspora Ministry unveils system for tracking online anti-Semitism
Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Diaspora Ministry unveiled on Thursday what it said was new technology for detecting anti-Semitic content on the internet.

The software, called the Anti-Semitism Cyber ??Monitoring System, or ACMS, is “the most advanced development in the world for monitoring anti-Semitism in real time,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, the ACMS tracks anti-Semitic posts on social media and can detect how widely they’ve been shared, who is sharing them, and which cities and countries produce the most anti-Semitic content.

The system uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism when scanning for content, and will initially monitor posts in English, Arabic, French and German on Facebook and Twitter before expanding to other platforms and languages.

In addition to the system itself, the ministry will operate a “war room” to analyze the anti-Semitic posts and will share the content with internet companies so they can be removed.

During a month-long trial of the ACMS, the ministry said it detected a total of 409,000 anti-Semitic posts by 30,000 users.
Survey: 27% of European Jews don't feel safe
In a survey conducted online among hundreds of respondents who identified as Jews, 27 percent of Europeans and 11 percent of Americans said they felt unsafe.

In the World Zionist Organization survey, which was conducted last year among a total of 1,361 respondents, 51 percent of those in Europe said that wearing Jewish symbols in public made them feel unsafe. In North America, that figure was 22 percent.

A press statement by WZO about the survey was conducted among Jews not living in Israel but it did not say how many of the 1,361 respondents were from Europe, North America and beyond. The statement also did not specify which countries in Europe the respondents on that continent came from.

Nearly a third of European respondents said they had experienced or witnessed an anti-Semitic event featuring vandalism, compared to 11 percent worldwide.
A Conversation With Selfhelp, a Non-Profit Dedicated to Helping Holocaust Survivors
In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Tablet’s podcast, Unorthodox, spoke with Sandy Myers and Desiree Nazarian of Selfhelp, a New York based non-profit dedicated to “maintaining the independence and dignity of seniors and at risk population through a range or housing, home health care, and social services.”

The organization was founded in 1936 under the name “Selfhelp for German Refugees” by a group of recently arrived German refugees in New York, with the mission of offering support to others who had been forced to flee. Providing services to survivors continues to be at the forefront of Selfhelp’s mission.

Who is eligible for services? And how is a survivor defined? Beyond those who survived concentration camps, the term survivor extends to anyone who disguised their Jewish identity, fled their home, went into hiding during the period of the war, or experienced persecution because of their Jewish heritage. Even those in utero until 1945 qualify as survivors.

Now located in 27 sites in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Nassau County, 25 percent of Selfhelp’s services go to to assisting the 43,000 survivors currently living in New York. A staggering 50 percent of these survivors are living at or below the federal poverty line. The Russian speaking population has faced severe difficulty, with 80 percent living at or below federal poverty line. The Russian population has faced challenges not only due to aging and lingering physical trauma, but lack of steady employment and negotiating language barriers.
Italian Holocaust Survivor Receives Nation’s Top Honor
A renowned Holocaust survivor from Italy was appointed last week as senator for life, a great honor granted only to citizens who have made outstanding contributions to society.

Liliana Segre, who was deported to Auschwitz from Milan when she was 13, was one of few to make it back home. She began telling her story in the 1990s, and has since become one of the most public witnesses of the Shoah in Italy, bringing her testimony into many Italian schools.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella called her on Friday to announce the appointment. Segre said the phone call came as “a bolt from the blue.” The survivor, who is now 87, said that she’s never been an active politician; her goal, she continued, will be to “pass on the memory” and to bring to life the voices of the thousands of Italian Jews who suffered the humiliation of the Racial Laws in 1938. After the Nazis occupied the country, about 10,000 Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, nearly 8,000 of whom died.

Liliana Segre was one of 25 lucky Italian children deported to Auschwitz to return home at the end of the war. Her father and her paternal grandparents were killed upon their arrival to the camp.

Over the last decades, Segre has been committed to sharing her testimony with the younger generations, visiting schools to meet with students. “Knowing I’ll be among senators-for-life is an honor and a great responsibility,” she said. Yet, she told Pagine Ebraiche that teaching children about the Holocaust will remain her main commitment. “My duty is to speak to the young people, and I won’t stop doing that.”
Finally, an Age-Appropriate Holocaust Movie for Young Viewers
Regular Tablet readers know that I loathe most Holocaust media for kids: apps that are flippant or misguided; slim, pornographically violent volumes of poetry featuring mental monologues by bloodthirsty Nazis; richly illustrated fables queasily blending history and legend; wide-eyed, manipulative middle-grade weepies; YA novels using the Holocaust as a jumping-off point for teen shapeshifter fantasy. And then there are the horrifying old black-and-white movies we were shown in Hebrew school, spotlighting silent footage of bulldozers pushing mountains of corpses and hollow-eyed, emaciated survivors peering blankly at their liberators from stacked wooden bunks. None of these is a good introduction to one of history’s great horrors.

But attempting to shield children from the Holocaust doesn’t work, either. I tried to keep my older daughter in the dark until she was in third grade when I thought she’d be old enough to read Number the Stars, still the best Holocaust introduction for young readers. (Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth, as Camus put it.) Lois Lowry’s novel is exciting, based on historical fact, scary but not too scary, distressing but not paralyzingly so. Unfortunately, Josie found a Holocaust novel in second grade, in a book bin at school, with no input from me. It could have been worse: She could have started her Holocaust education at 7 with Maus, or via gory misinformation from another kid on the playground. But I wish I’d talked to her earlier.

There are fine picture books out there that can serve as a good introduction for kids under 9 to the Holocaust; families can pore over the pages and discuss them together. But not every kid is drawn to books. That’s where The Number on My Great-Grandpa’s Arm can come in. This new HBO documentary, which debuts on Saturday—International Holocaust Remembrance Day—is perfect family viewing. It dovetails with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s guidelines for teaching kids about the Holocaust and does so in a visually enticing, engaging way that neither sugarcoats nor terrorizes. And, bonus, it’s only 19 minutes long.
Billionaire Roman Abramovich revealed as $30m. Tel Aviv University donor
What does Chelsea Football club have in common with Tel Aviv University’s new Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology? The answer is Roman Abramovich, who despite his many business interests is best known as the owner of the football club. Abramovich also happens to be the mystery donor of TAU’s new Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology scheduled to open in 2020.

Abramovich made his $30m. commitment to the project in 2015, but the identity of the founding donor remained secret until now.

Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, was one of the most ardent proponents of nanotechnology – long before TAU launched its current Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in 2000, when it was the first Israeli institute of its kind.

Today the center is affiliated with more than 90 research groups from varying disciplines, and works in close collaboration with industry and research groups worldwide.

Constant growth has created a need for a newer, larger and more ambitious nanotechnology center, something that was made possible through Abramovich’s $30m. gift.

Once completed, the center will be one of the leading facilities of its kind in the Middle East.
Elbit unit gets $150 million deal with Australian Department of Defence
Elbit Systems Ltd., Israel’s largest non-government-owned defense company, said Thursday a unit has won a $150 million deal with the Australian Department of Defence to provide support services to the Australian Defence Force for its battle management systems.

The contract won by Elbit Systems of Australia Pty Ltd. is for five years, with optional extensions of up to seven years.

“The ADF is a strategic partner of Elbit Systems and this contract represents the long-term commitment of Elbit Systems to support the ADF digitization effort,” said Yehuda (Udi) Vered, general manager of Elbit Systems Land and C4I. “This is a major contract for Elbit Systems of Australia that will significantly enhance and strengthen its local engineering and support capabilities.”

Elbit Systems is an international high-tech company that develops a wide range of products and systems used for both homeland security and for civilian purposes.
Record Number of Chinese Tourists Visit Israel in 2017
A record number of Chinese tourists — more than 113,000 — visited Israel in 2017, the Xinhua state news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, China is the Jewish state’s fastest-growing source of visitors.

“Israel is likely to see 150,000 Chinese tourists in 2018, and that is an achievable target,” Bora Shnitman — the director of the Israeli government’s China Tourism Office — was quoted as saying.

Shnitman, the report noted, “attributed the surge in the number of Chinese tourists to more targeted promotion campaigns, streamlined visa applications as well as increasingly convenient transportation with more direct flights.”
New film takes audiences for a ride on Jerusalem’s light rail
It’s been years since filmmaker Amos Gitai — that lover of trilogies and difficult films about his country’s geopolitical realities — made a film in Jerusalem, but he’s back.

This time it’s “Light Rail in Jerusalem,” a film about the mosaic of people riding Jerusalem’s light rail, the “whole mix,” said Gitai, of religious and secular, Palestinians and Israelis, making their way on the mode of transportation that did not even exist the last time Gitai shot a film in Jerusalem.

“I like metaphor,” said Gitai, sitting outside, at the main train depot in northern Jerusalem, on his last day of filming.

Much of the movie was filmed here, in this depot north of French Hill, where the trains are parked when they are not running.

“We had to do this pretty quickly,” said Gitai. “They were letting us use a train, after all.”

Gitai’s last film in the holy city was “News from Home/New from House” (2005), the third part of his trilogy about the German Colony home abandoned during the 1948 war by its Palestinian owner, and later lived in by Israeli Jews. The films were rejected and censored by Israeli television.

“‘House’ was the destruction of metaphor and the development of the Palestinian diaspora,” said Gitai.

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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 14 years and 30,000 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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