Wednesday, January 23, 2019

From Ian:

Tuvia Grossman and the Covington Catholic School Fiasco
With the release of the new videos, some in the media are now calling for restraint and introspection when it comes to interpreting events, even videos, that one sees on social media.

Why do I mention this story? What does it have to do with our niche, which is Jews and Israel?

Because of Tuvia Grossman.

Back in the year 2000, AP took a photo which the NY Times and other papers ran. The Times claimed the photo showed an Israeli policeman and a beaten up Palestinian teen on the Temple Mount.

Except that that this never happened (also, “Palestinian” never happened either, but that’s a different issue).

The beaten boy in the photo was a Jewish-American student named Tuvia Grossman. An Arab lynch mob pulled Tuvia and his two friends out of a taxi in Wadi al-Joz, in eastern Jerusalem, and brutally beat them up. They also stabbed Tuvia in the leg. Tuvia lost 3 pints of blood from the attack and was hospitalized.

The photo actually shows Israeli policeman Gidon Tzefadi running over to save Tuvia from the Arab lynch mob. (The event launched HonestReporting, dedicated to expose these distortions by the media regarding Israel and Jews.)

So when people in the news media today are calling on others to not automatically believe everything they see on social media, especially with no context around it, I keep thinking that this same media have had 19 years, since Tuvia was attacked and the event was so badly misrepresented in the mainstream media, to embrace that lesson, especially when it comes to news about Israel and the IDF…

Alas, as we all know well, they still haven’t learned a thing.

Omar Defends Black Hebrew Israelites, a Hate Group, in Falsehood-Laden Tweet About Covington Teens
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) sent out a tweet filled with falsehoods Tuesday about the viral confrontation between Catholic high school teenagers and a Native American man last week, which also included a de facto defense of a racist hate group.

Linking to a tweet by President Donald Trump criticizing "fake news" for their initial misleading reports on the Covington Catholic teenagers, Omar wrote, "The boys were protesting a woman's right to choose & yelled ‘it’s not rape if you enjoy it.' They were taunting 5 Black men before they surrounded Phillips and led racist chants. [Nick] Sandmann’s family hired a right wing PR firm to write his non-apology."

She also linked to a story decrying "white journalists" who were trying to correct the record. She deleted the tweet Wednesday morning, after the Washington Free Beacon asked her office to comment. While mainstream outlets had ignored her tweet as of Wednesday morning, other conservative outlets had picked up on it.

Omar claimed the Covington Catholic teenagers, initially vilified for taunting Native American elder Nathan Phillips before more videos and reporting painted a different picture, "were taunting 5 black men," when it was actually the other way around.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Chastened By Covington Failure, CNN To Reserve Bad Hot Takes For Israel (satire)
Three days after botching its coverage of a silent teenager confronted by a yelling, drum-beating provocateur, a major news organization has decided to cut back on its knee-jerk assumptions regarding causes it opposes, and from now on will restrict its automatic, context-free demonizing to Israeli actions.

Cable News Network, among several other major outlets such as the Washington Post, provided uncritical amplification to allegations that a white adolescent attending a demonstration in the capital had heaped verbal abuse on a Native American veteran of the armed forces, a story that accompanied partial video evidence and accusations of xenophobia, racism, and white supremacy. However, the uncut video and other recorded accounts exonerated the teen and revealed that the boy and his group behaved politely and quietly in the face of provocation by the native activist and others in the vicinity. CNN spent more than a day insisting on the accuracy of its version of the episode, but backtracked Monday and Tuesday in the face of overwhelming evidence it had botched the story. As a result, network executives announced Wednesday, the news team will bring greater discernment and prudence to its reporting, except when it comes to Israel, where immediate, uncritical acceptance of anti-Israel allegations will remain the default mode.

“We made a mistake,” conceded CNN personality Jake Tapper. “Instead of issuing immediate corrections to our account of the incident with Mr. Philips and the Covington High School teen, we continued to double down on the anti-conservative narrative even as indications mounted that our hot take was too hot to be true. Our team is now examining ways in which we can improve our coverage of emerging stories that stir controversy, at least here. As far as our coverage of Israel and the Israeli military is concerned, we’re still going to take Palestinian allegations of war crimes or atrocities at face value and maybe ask questions later, but probably not.”

Israel lambasts The Guardian for accusing it of ‘killing with impunity’
Jerusalem on Wednesday accused The Guardian of “cheap moralizing” and of willfully distorting the facts, after the British newspaper accused Israel of lightheartedly killing Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border.

In a blistering editorial Tuesday, the London-based paper lamented that, in 2018, Israeli troops killed with impunity unarmed civilians who “posed no danger to anyone.”

Responding to the article, entitled “The Guardian view on Israel’s democracy: killing with impunity, lying without consequence?” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon did not mince words.

“The Guardian has decided to engage in an exercise of cheap moralizing, deliberately ignoring Palestinian terror and violence,” he told The Times of Israel.

“The Guardian knows very well that the Gaza Strip has been transformed by Hamas into a launchpad of rockets and violent attacks, endangering Israeli civilians on a daily basis, but prefers to ignore this reality, which would deprive it of the perverse pleasure of attacking Israel.”

In a thinly veiled swipe at Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn, Nahshon added: “One can only assume that left-wing anti-Semites in the UK will be very happy with this editorial.”

Corbyn, who has long been harshly critical of Israel, and parts of Labour, have faced accusations of anti-Semitism.
HonestReporting: The Guardian Delegitimizes Israel in Lying Editorial
The headline of The Guardian‘s editorial says it all:

A staff-editorial reflects the official view of a newspaper, which is why The Guardian’s is so horrifying. What follows is a vicious attack on Israel’s credibility. Here are some of the “highlights.”

‘Shelling and gassing’ harmless protesters
The Guardian attacks the IDF for its actions to prevent Palestinians breaching the Gaza border fence:
Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips. Yet Israel continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under democratic civilian control, shoot, gas, shell and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.

There is something almost ironic about presenting the protesters as harmless only one day after an IDF soldier was injured in an exchange of fire after a Hamas sniper opened fire during a border riot? “Posed no danger to anyone?”

There have been plenty of documented cases where Palestinians have attempted to or actually breached the border fence, which is only meters from Israeli towns and villages. All of this under the cover of what The Guardian claims are harmless protesters.

The Guardian then puts out a deliberate lie accusing Israel of ‘shelling’ protesters. Israel has never shelled protesters at the Gaza border fence and to claim otherwise is an outright falsehood.

As for the charge of ‘gassing’ protesters, Israel uses non-lethal tear gas as a means to disperse riots. That The Guardian simply refers to gas rather than tear gas is most likely to lead its readers to picture Nazi death camps and says a great deal about the media outlet’s attitude towards the Jewish state.
Guardian’s hatred towards Israel reaches new low
We’ve been monitoring the Guardian and commenting on the media group’s institutional hostility to Israel for nearly 10 years, and nothing much shocks us at this point. Yet, an official editorial published yesterday reaches a new low in malice and plain out dishonesty. The headline alone, using language you’d normally use when describing totalitarian regimes, is repulsive – representative of the kind of ugly, baseless anti-Zionist smear you’d expect to see at Electronic Intifada and other extremist outlets.

The op-ed begins:
In the last nine months of 2018, according to the United Nations, Palestinians – many of them children – were killed at the rate of around one a day while taking part in protests along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza about their right to return to ancestral homes. They included medics and journalists. Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips. Yet Israel continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under democratic civilian control, shoot, gas, shell and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.

What the Guardian suggests are peaceful ‘protests’ by ‘slogan’ shouting marchers are actually organised violent riots which include the use of Molotov cocktails, the planting of IEDs and countless attempts to cut through the security fence and infiltrate the border.

To claim that thousands of rioters – most of whom have been identified as operatives of terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction – attempting to breach the border and attack civilians poses “no danger” turns reality on its head.
Identities of the fatalities of the “Return Marches” (March 30, 2018 – January 14, 2019)

Further, by what legal authority do Guardian editors conclude that the IDF’s rules of engagement against violent rioters threatening their civilians is “unlawful”? Is there any country in the world that would allow an infiltration of its border launched by an internationally proscribed terror group without the use of force?

Guardian claim on the views of Arab Israelis doesn’t hold up to scrutiny
The Guardian published an op-ed on Jan. 21st by Jennine Khalik that railed against the media referring to Aiia Maasarwe, the 21 year old student who was brutally murdered in Melbourne last week, as an “Arab Israeli”, claiming that it erased her Palestinian identity.

Despite the fact that Maasarawe is from Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel, Khalik wrote that the term Arab-Israeli “is a vague and politically loaded descriptor” and that “the very exclusion of the word Palestinian is a political statement which erases Palestinians”. Most, she maintained, prefer “Palestinian citizen of Israel” or “Palestinian with Israeli citizenship”.

Khalik then made the following specific claim:
According to a survey by University of Haifa professor Sammy Smooha, only 16% of Palestinians living in historic Palestine – now modern-day Israel – accept the term Arab-Israeli, which is a label prescribed by the government of Israel.

However, results of the 2017 report in question, called the “Arab-Israeli Relations Index”, available at the University of Haifa’s website, says absolutely nothing about the issue of what term these Israeli citizens prefer. Moreover, another report that same year, published by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, contradicts the suggestion that “Palestinian citizen of Israel” or “Palestinian with Israeli citizenship” are the preferred terms.

In response to the question, “Which term best describes you?”, the largest number, 28%, replied “Israeli Arab”, whilst only 3% replied “Palestinian citizen in Israel”.

Further, the broader narrative of Khalik’s op-ed, suggesting that such citizens primarily identify as Palestinian, and aren’t proud to be Israeli, is similarly not supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung poll.
Yisrael Medad: Have I Empathy for the Intellectually Autistic Simon Baron-Cohen?
Simon Baron-Cohen has published an op-ed.

Only empathy can break the cycle of violence in Israel-Palestine

Empathy, he asserts, or suggests, is "a vital first step in conflicts where both sides have dehumanised each other".

And reading that halted my empathy for Baron-Cohen's orientation. After all, the Arabs' dehumanization of Jews and their anti-Semitism is institutional, based on religious texts and propagated through official media outlets of the Palestinian Authority, not to mention everywhere else in the Arab world and for decades.

But I continued to read. And I almost gave up coming across this:
I am not an expert in that dispute nor so naive to believe that there is a single, simple solution to it. But I do believe empathy can help.

But I plodded on. And I discovered he doesn't know history that well. Starting off the Jewish historical record so:
Jonathan S. Tobin: Pro-Israel Democrats Need To Fight For Their Party
It was telling that in the same week that Republicans finally disciplined Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) by stripping him of all his committee assignments Democrats rewarded Omar with a spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While Omar’s influence will be minimal compared to that of its chairman, pro-Israel stalwart Rep. Eliot Engel, it still gives the pro-BDS crowd a platform.

Omar and Tlaib are just the tip of the iceberg. The Women’s March, which was a focal point of the anti-Trump “resistance,” is led by people like Tamika Mallory, a fan of the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, and Linda Sarsour, a hardcore opponent of Israel and supporter of BDS. While the Democratic National Committee and many other responsible liberals have correctly decided that they can’t allow association with any group so tainted by anti-Semitism, others — like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — are sticking with them. That Gillibrand thinks doing so won’t harm her chances of winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination tells you all you need to know about the way the wind is blowing these days.

While it was plausible to claim that Netanyahu made the Iran nuclear deal a partisan issue with his maneuvers targeting President Obama, the failure of most Democrats to challenge their leader’s decision to appease Tehran made it inevitable that their party would be linked with a stand most Israelis abhorred. The same is true for the Democrats’ failure to support Trump’s stand on Iran and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Under those circumstances, it’s hardly fair to blame Israelis for their affection for the president and the GOP.

Nevertheless, support for Israel is still strong among the congressional Democratic leadership. But polls consistently show that Republicans are more supportive of Israel than Democrats. With the growing influence of the intersectional left, that gap won’t be bridged.

The challenge for pro-Israel Democrats isn’t so much whether Republicans are embarrassing them as it is a matter of whether the anti-Israel left will continue gaining ground. Rather than focus on GOP tactics, they need to fight for the soul of their party.
Many Progressives Care About ‘Palestine’ — Not Palestinians
Many liberals and progressives support the Palestinian cause for justifiable reasons. What I find mystifying, however, is how so many liberals can advocate for Palestinians, when the Palestinians’ views and behavior are the antithesis of nearly everything that progressives claim to believe in.

While it is convenient to blame Israel’s “occupation” for Palestinian behavior, the truth is that the Palestinians are responsible for their own actions. Activists here, however, are unwilling to acknowledge that they have any ability to control their fate.

The Palestinian draft constitution calls for Islam to be the state religion of any new state. And many Palestinians, even those unaffiliated with Hamas, have become increasingly radicalized. For decades, generations of Palestinians have indoctrinated their children about the need to murder Jews — much of this based on their interpretation of Islam — and have managed to erase Jews from the history of the area.

Their leaders — Arafat, Abbas, Haniyeh — and many imams persistently use Islam to incite the masses to riot on the Temple Mount and the Gaza border. And like other Muslim leaders throughout the region, they persecute Christians. They also promote Jew-hatred, some of which is derived from Koranic verses that, for example, compare Jews to apes and pigs and are broadcast in sermons.

And what about Palestinian democracy? Abbas is now serving the 15th year of his four-year term, and is seeking to eliminate the Legislative Council, which previously dissolved the constitutional court. It is Abbas, not Israel, who has repeatedly cancelled elections.

The progressives are so single-mindedly determined to create “Palestine” at any cost that they don’t even consider that the Palestinian state they dream of will be a brutal, corrupt dictatorship like those they denounce elsewhere.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) provides a frightening preview.
Milestone Myopia and the Newsy Anti-Semite
Tlaib combines maximally left-wing positions with a maximally confrontational attitude, so she will have no trouble inside Pelosi’s House of Resistance. But it would be unfair to call her an obnoxious, far-left rabble-rouser. She is far worse. Tlaib is using her notoriety to bring anti-Semitic policies and rhetoric into the mainstream—and many news outlets are far too obsessed with the novelty of her identity to care. They suffer from milestone myopia—the inability to see beyond a person’s race, ethnicity, creed, and gender.

Running last August in a competitive primary to replace John Conyers, Tlaib supported a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. She also said she wanted to continue aid to Israel. These positions won her the endorsement of the progressive group J Street, and the donations that often follow its imprimatur. But as soon as she won—by fewer than 1,000 votes—Tlaib changed her mind. “I will not support racist countries that pick and choose who gets access to justice,” she told In These Times. She endorsed the so-called right of return, said she stands “by the rights of people who support” the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, or BDS, and called for a one-state solution.

Rashida Tlaib would deny military aid to a strategic ally. She backs activists waging economic warfare against said 7ally. She lends her voice to bi-nationalism, which would change the character of the Jewish State beyond recognition. The policies she supports would abolish Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. She isn’t talking about overturning the outcome of 1967. She’s talking about overturning 1948.

And her position has hardened with time. Last December, in an interview with the Intercept, Tlaib announced, “I personally support the BDS movement.” She said that she planned to rebuke the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, by leading her own congressional delegation on a fact-finding mission to the West Bank. “I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue,” she said. “It’s one sided. … [They] have these lavish trips to Israel, but they don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.”
Gil Troy: Center Field: Dear Louis Farrakhan (You don’t deserve the title ‘minister’)
This may be the first thank-you letter you’ve ever received in The Jerusalem Post, but you’ve performed an important public service. You’ve given a gift to the often-quarreling Jewish people. You’ve outed Progressive hypocrites and Jewish apologists. You’ve imposed moral clarity on an issue that was confusing some people. Your Jew-hatred is so pure, your rhetoric so evil, you leave little doubt about where you stand – and the need for people of conscience, Jewish and non-Jewish, to stand up against you.

For decades, most leftist antisemites, just slightly more subtle than you, have confused naive liberals. “We’re not antisemitic,” they say, “we’re only anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.” “We’re not antisemitic,” they say, “but you Jews should shut up and feel guilty; look at all your white privilege. If anyone hates you, it’s your fault.” “We’re not antisemitic,” they say, “and besides, we’re focusing on real problems: racism, sexism, Trump.”

And too many gutless Jews, channeling their most cowardly great-grandparents, submit, desperate to be accepted – this time by social justice warriors.

Truthfully, many anti-Zionist attacks are so vicious, many radicals are so obsessed with Israel, many denunciations of this democracy are so disproportionate, they reek of Jew-hatred. Imagine if someone were to constantly bash African-American behavior in sweeping terms. You wouldn’t buy their claim “Oh, I’m not racist, I’m just criticizing particular actions.” Imagine if African-Americans weren’t included in an all-American march of minorities against hate, or if African-American concerns were mocked.

Bigotry isn’t just about words, but about tone, too. Yet the politics of blame around Israel and the guilt-tripping about white privilege perfume the new Jew-hatred. So Linda Sarsour calls Zionism creepy. She says feminists can’t be Zionists. But with some gestures toward the Jewish community, and emphasizing her Trumpophobia and political correctness, she tricks some Jews into tolerating her intolerance.

I don’t get it. Why is our suffering invisible, justifiable? If you’re prickly toward us, do we not bleed? Why is Jew-hatred the longest hatred, the only PC hatred, the most plastic hatred? Perhaps it’s because so many of us fit so well into the West, yet we still stubbornly hold on to our heritage, thus standing out, too.
Richard Cohen (WaPo): Why does the left still associate with Louis Farrakhan?
Farrakhan is lauded for the good work his Nation of Islam does in certain black communities and in jails. But his message is anti-white, anti-gay and anti-Semitic. The fact that he does some good is no reason to ignore or overlook the bad that is attached. When it comes to Jews, he has the lurid imagination of a 1930s-era Nazi. He blames the Jews for most everything, including Hollywood movies that are “turning men into women and women into men.” Mallory attended the rally where Farrakhan made that statement.

Eleven years ago, a writer for Harper’s wondered what would happen to Farrakhan if I ceased writing about him. I ceased, and Farrakhan seemed not to notice. In fact, his brand of anti-Semitism became, if not acceptable, then unremarkable. In her forthcoming book, “Antisemitism Here and Now,” the Holocaust historian Deborah E. Lipstadt gathers some of the more idiotic statements made by leftist Americans about Jews and, especially, about Israel. The country is routinely denounced as racist, colonialist, fascist and, of course, as segregated as South Africa in the apartheid era. None of this is true.

It is true, alas, that Israel persists in occupying the West Bank. But it is also true that many American Jews oppose this policy — as do many Israelis. As do I. But at the same time, I recognize that Israel is not the vilest among nations, that it is a democracy that accords full rights to its Palestinian citizens, that the Muslim gays of Tel Aviv would not last a day in the Arab world and that the proposal to have Israel absorb Palestinian refugees is simply untenable. It would doom Israel as a Jewish state. It is an invitation to obliteration.

I go back to Farrakhan. That Harper’s writer of years ago had a point: Farrakhan is not important. He leads a fringe sect that is as anathema to conventional Muslims as it is to Jews. It is not his anti-Semitism that worries me. More worrisome is the casual acceptance of his anti-Semitism by others that makes him somehow unremarkable — the unstated agreement that Jews are all-powerful, all-controlling and somehow blocking black progress. This stands history on its head and mocks the 1964 deaths in Mississippi of Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who were among the many Jews who volunteered during the civil rights movement over the years.

In accepting Farrakhan, figures on the American left manage to combine anti-Semitism with racism — a belief that blacks are too weak to matter and Jews too powerful to care. It robs African Americans of their own agency by making their plight the work of evil Jews. As for Jews, it’s an echo of what they’ve heard before. The leaders of the Women’s March ought to study history to see that theirs are old ideas. They are marching in the wrong direction.
Who is winning the court battle over America's anti-BDS laws?
With legal battles over the constitutionality of laws combating the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign in several US states in high gear, the question is what the state of play will look like in 2019.

Around half of the US’s 50 states have anti-BDS laws, which in various ways prohibit granting state contracts to companies which boycott Israel.

There are also efforts to pass a federal anti-BDS law, though those efforts are at the earliest stages.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union and allied activists started to push back in recent years and by 2018 had already won rulings in both Kansas and Arizona blocking those states from enforcing their anti-BDS laws.

According to the ACLU, it takes no position on BDS, but is against anti-BDS laws, calling them an infringement on free speech.

It convinced courts in Kansas and Arizona that the laws could be interpreted to penalize individuals for their speech, such as sole proprietors, and the ACLU has initiated parallel lawsuits in Texas and Arkansas.

Who is winning the legal battle and where is it likely to go?
The true face of If Not Now
A new group of young American Jews has come into our lives, one that goes by the name of If Not Now. Members of the organization made headlines when they were supposedly thrown off a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel for asking questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But these were not young people whose natural curiosity was spontaneously piqued on a trip to Israel, rather activists who belong to a radical organization sent specifically on Birthright trips to disrupt them. These are not even young people who support the two-state solution, but political activists who refuse, both as individuals and on an organizational level, to declare their support for Israel's right to exist with or without Judea and Samaria.

The problem, of course, is not the raising of questions, a legitimate activity in any discussion that takes place inside a democratic and diverse society, but the callous exploitation at the expense of program participants of the framework of a particular activity to promote their ideas.

There are dozens of left-wing, Israeli and American, Jewish and non-Jewish organizations that offer tours of Israel that reflect If Not Now's worldview. I am confident that none of the activists who snuck onto the Birthright tour would have had a problem joining any of them. These activists knowingly showed up for a trip that does not reflect their positions and does not focus on the issues to which they wanted to draw attention. They not only exploited the generosity of the donors who fund Birthright but prevented other young people, who were interested in connecting to their Jewish identity and learning about the State of Israel, from having the opportunity to do so as they saw fit.
Irish Lawmakers May Punish US Tech Firms For Israel Involvement
The lower house of Ireland’s parliament may vote as soon as this week on a bill that would make it a criminal offense for Irish companies to do business in “occupied territories,” including parts of Israel’s capital and its suburbs.

The bill, which passed Ireland’s senate last month, has far reaching implications, because many giant high-technology companies, such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, have large presences in both Ireland and Israel. Ireland has been a magnet for multinational corporations in part because of its low tax rates, while Israel’s startup culture and highly trained workforce has made it a research and development hub.

The legislation, if enacted, could force companies to choose between staying in Israel or staying in Ireland. It would penalize executives of the companies with up to five years in prison. If companies or executives complied with the Irish law by exiting Israel, they could run afoul of American federal and state laws designed to combat the Arab boycott of Israel. Such Arab boycotts of Jewish products in the Land of Israel have existed since 1945, before the Jewish state even existed.

If the companies respond to the law by choosing to exit Ireland, Ireland would lose their tax revenues, which, even at the low rates, are significant. The companies could also face higher tax rates in other jurisdictions, hurting their shareholders and their profits.
Irish parliament debates bill criminalizing West Bank activity
Former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and Israeli prize winner Ze’ev Sternhell, were among the Israeli dignitaries who signed a letter in support of the bill, which they published in The Irish Times.

“The occupation and the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements have been correctly identified by successive Irish governments as major obstacles to peace, yet Ireland, along with the rest of the EU, continues to sustain the occupation by trading with illegal Israeli settlements established in clear and direct violation of international law,” they wrote.

“As people who care deeply about Israel’s future and long for our country to live in peace with its neighbors, we urge you to support the aforementioned bill,” they said. Other signatories included former Israeli ambassador to France Elie Barnavi, former ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, former ambassador to the Czech Republic Erela Hadark, former acting supreme court justice Michael Ben-Yair, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan and former Israeli prize winners, David Harel, Dani Karavan, Miki Kratsman, Yehuda Judd Ne’eman and David Shulman.

The controversial bill was first put forward as a private member’s bill by Irish Senator Frances Black and was approved by the Irish Senate in December of last year. It now needs approval from the lower parliament before it moves to the Irish president’s desk for approval.

“Another big day today,” Black tweeted.

The government, however, has opposed the bill and could have the power to stop in the lower parliament in spite of the strong support for the bill in the senate. Ireland is a member of the European Union and as such is bound by its foreign policy on respective matters.
Georgia State University Student Government Rejects Campus Demands for BDS
The student government association at Georgia State University (SGA) has rejected demands from student groups to enact BDS on campus, including issuing an apology for participation in an organized free trip to Israel over winter break.

Protesters, some representing chartered groups such as Faces for Feminism and Panthers for Black Feminism, gave a wish list allaying their opposition to four SGA members for going on a complimentary trip organized by Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS efforts on college campuses.

Other demands included the passage of a pro-BDS bill that “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians,” in addition to the resignation of the SGA executive board.

Rejecting these requests, the SGA cited Georgia Senate Bill 327 as a reason why a BDS bill cannot be passed. The law, which took effect in July 2016, prohibits the state from entering into contracts with firms that boycott or plan to boycott Israel.

As a state school, the university is subject to the measure.
University of Michigan and Pitzer College Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Opponents of an academic boycott of Israel owe John Cheney-Lippold and Daniel Segal a debt of gratitude.

Cheney-Lippold is the University of Michigan professor who agreed to write a letter of recommendation for one of his students last fall — and then reneged after realizing it was for study in Israel. Segal, a professor at Pitzer College and a major proponent of the academic boycott of Israel, convinced his fellow Pitzer faculty members to shut down the school’s study-abroad program at the University of Haifa only months later.

These professors’ reprehensible behavior has brought much-needed attention to how implementation of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) — long-advertised as aimed at academic institutions in Israel — in reality directly threatens the academic freedom and rights of students on North American campuses.

Alarmingly, Cheney-Lippold and Segal are just the tip of the iceberg.

First, their behavior is not unique. They are just two of a growing number of faculty members who choose to privilege their own personal politics above the academic welfare of their students. In fact, shortly after the Cheney-Lippold incident became public, another Michigan student reported that his graduate student instructor had similarly refused a letter of recommendation for a study-abroad program in Israel.
Extremism and hate preachers on the rise at campuses, universities warned
Extremist speakers are on the rise at universities, figures show, amid warnings that hate preachers are enjoying “near unfettered” access to students.

During the last academic year, there were 200 events held at university campuses which featured individuals with radical views, according to an analysis by a counter extremism think-tank.

These included hate preachers, pro-jihad activists and anti-Semites, some of whom toured around the country delivering lectures to students.

Student rights, a project run by the Henry Jackson Society, publishes an annual report in which it analyses the number of university events that extremists have spoken at.

In 2015/16, it found a total of 128 events, which dropped down to 107 the following year, before rising to 200 in 2017/18.

According to the report, some of those 200 speakers’ views include supporting convicted terrorists, defending Hamas’s use of suicide bombings and animosity towards Jews and “disbelievers”.

They also include advocating for an intifada in America and violent jihad, punishments such as stonings for homosexuals and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.

Murders by US Right-Wing Extremists in 2018 at Highest Peak in Over Two Decades, New ADL Report Reveals
The ADL’s annual “Murder and Extremism in the United States” report stated that 2018 “was a particularly active year” for murderous violence by the far right.

“Right-wing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995, the year of Timothy McVeigh’s bomb attack on the Oklahoma City federal building,” the report said.

Jonathan Greenblatt — the ADL’s CEO and national director — said in a statement that the Oct. 2018 gun attack by a white supremacist at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, in which 11 Jewish worshipers were murdered, “should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about the deadly consequences of hateful rhetoric.”

Said Greenblatt: “It’s time for our nation’s leaders to appropriately recognize the severity of the threat and to devote the necessary resources to address the scourge of right-wing extremism.”

Among the key findings of the report was that the extremist-related murders in 2018 were “overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists.”

“Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism,” the report said. “White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.”

As well as the atrocity in Pittsburgh, 2018 saw four other extremist-related shooting sprees, the ADL said, including the murder of 17 people last February at a high school in Parkland, FL., and the murder in April of four people at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville, TN.
New EU Poll Highlights Significant ‘Perception Gap’ Between European Jews and Wider Public Over Threat Posed by Antisemitism
A new EU survey released on Tuesday showed that two-thirds of Europeans do not believe there has been a significant increase in antisemitism in their countries over the last five years, exposing a significant “perception gap” when compared with how European Jews see the same problem.

“The Eurobarometer results published today shows that there is clear perception gap of the problem of antisemitism,” a European Commission statement accompanying the survey remarked. “Only around a third of Europeans (36 percent) believe that antisemitism has increased in their country over the past five years.”

The statement added that this was ‘the majority view in six EU member states.”

“All other respondents are of the opinion that antisemitism has remained the same (39 percent), decreased (10 percent) or have no opinion (15 percent.) These respondents form a majority in 22 countries,” the statement said.

The statement contrasted those findings with a separate survey of Jewish communities conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency in December. That poll revealed nine in 10 Jews believed “that antisemitism has increased in their country, with more than eight in 10 (85 percent) considering it to be a serious problem.”

The new survey — involving more than 27,000 citizens in all of the EU’s 28 member states — showed that opinion was similarly divided over whether antisemitism was even a problem in the first place.

The survey noted that “more than four in ten” respondents “believe antisemitism is not a problem in their country (43 percent, with 16 percent thinking it is ‘not a problem at all.’)”
Jewish paper editor enters Belgian politics to fight Kosher slaughter ban
The longtime editor in chief of Belgium’s largest Jewish newspaper has announced he is resigning and running for parliament, partly in a bid to reverse recent bans in the country on the slaughter of conscious animals for meat.

Michael Freilich, 38, who has edited the Antwerp-based Joods Actueel monthly for 12 years, said prior to his announcement Monday that he was joining the New Flemish Alliance center-right party, the largest in the federal parliament.

The party has placed Freilich in the fifth slot of its ticket for the May 26 regional elections, all but ensuring that Freilich will become a lawmaker in the Chamber of Representatives, the lower house. A victory would make him the first Orthodox Jew to serve there.

Referring to the ban, which went into effect on January 1 in his Flemish Region, Freilich told JTA, “That was indeed one of the reasons I decided to take the plunge” and enter politics.

Both the Jewish and Muslim faiths require animals be conscious when they are killed for meat. The ban has put several abattoirs out of business.
Danes downplay seriousness of physical assaults on Jews
Four years after a jihadist killed a Jewish guard outside a Danish synagogue, only 42 percent of Danes said that physical attacks on Jews were “a problem.”

Respondents in Hungary, which has not had a fatal attack on a Jew for decades, displayed greater concern about attacks on Jews, with 44 percent of respondents saying physical attacks there were a problem.

In a survey published Tuesday, the European Union asked non-Jewish adults in 28 EU countries about their perceptions on anti-Semitism.

The highest level of awareness was in France, the only country where a majority of respondents, 54 percent, said physical attacks on Jews were “a very important problem.”

Asked whether physical attacks on Jews were a problem in Denmark, 19 percent said “not at all” and another 31 percent said “not really a problem.” Eight percent said they didn’t know. Forty-two percent of the 1,004 Danish respondents said the issue was a problem: 17 percent said it was a “very important problem” and 25 percent said it was a “fairly important problem.”
Italian Senator Apologizes, Not Really Forgiven, for ‘Elders of Zion’ Tweet
Elio Lannutti, a Senator serving in Italy’s M5S party, the largest in the Italian Parliament, came under fire on Tuesday, after posting on Twitter on Monday a link to an article that cited the anti-Semitic fabrication “Elders of Zion.”

The link Lannutti shared (the tweet has been deleted since) argues that the international banking system is controlled by the “Gruppo dei Savi di Sion,” the Italian title for “Протоколы сионских мудрецов,” which translates as “The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion,” or just “The protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The Protocols is an anti-Semitic, fabricated text describing a Jewish plan for global domination. First published in Russia in 1903, The Protocols, produced by the pro-Czarist nationalist group The Black Hundreds, purport to be the minutes of a meeting where Jewish leaders discussed their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies. The book was a favorite of Henry Ford, who printed 500,000 copies which he distributed throughout the United States in the 1920s. It was exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921, but that didn’t stop the Nazis from making it a part of their schools’ curriculum. It is still widely available today in numerous languages, with new editions popping every now and then in the Arab world and other enlightened locales.

Lannutti’s post raised harsh criticism over its support for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories whose falsity has been unequivocally demonstrated many times over.
Israeli Company Looking to Conquer European Hummus Market
Remember the celebrated “Hummus Wars” between Lebanon and Israel, in which both countries competed to dish out the biggest bowl of chickpea mash? Lebanon, Syria and Israel claim to be the origin of the dish—never mind that all three countries used to be one district of the Ottoman Empire. Now, according to a Tuesday report in Calcalist, a major Israeli corporation, the Strauss Group, manufacturers of dairy products, coffee, water, snacks, salads, and dips, is taking the hummus war to Europe, hungry for conquest.

Before we continue, I must make the point that you can’t possibly compare factory hummus to the real thing. Real hummus is made fresh in Middle East restaurants not every day, but practically every hour. Quality hummus tastes close to sour cream, and after you’ve eaten a lot of it, you’ll still crave more. Factory hummus, by definition, is stale, sour, and mealy. It can’t be helped.

But this story is about Israeli salesmanship and ambition, not quality.

Back in 2005, Strauss bit off a significant chunk out of the US hummus market, acquiring 51% of Sabra as yet another step in realizing its international expansion strategy. Strauss brought with it know-how and marketing strategy that led to the growth of the brand and of the entire category.
How Tel Aviv became an unlikely sandbox for foreign tech firms seeking to expand
When e-scooter company Bird decided to expand outside of the U.S. in 2018, only two cities were on its initial list: Paris and Tel Aviv.

Half a year before Bird’s mid-August launch in Israel, the company’s vice president Patrick Studener visited Tel Aviv. Sunny weather, a young population, and a knack for innovation made Tel Aviv a perfect fit for the mobility company, Studener figured. “I thought, wow, it’s got to work,” he said in an interview with Calcalist earlier this month.

Though it is one of the densest tech innovation hubs in the world, the small size of the predominantly Hebrew-speaking Israeli market, well-entrenched local competitors, idiosyncratic regulation, and often gnarly regulators used to mean technology services came here late, if ever.

Apple’s iTunes became available locally in 2012, a decade after it revolutionized music consumption in the U.S. The iPhone was launched in Israel officially, with local support, only in 2009, nearly three years after Steve Jobs unveiled the device. Netflix only arrived in Israel in 2016.

2018 signaled a wind change. More and more multinationals started operating services in Israel, at times much earlier than in other places, picking Tel Aviv as a sandbox for global expansion.
Subterranean 1,500-year-old cistern complex found under Jerusalem playground
Back in 2005, the Israel Antiquities Authority received word that at a Jerusalem neighborhood playground, the sand was being swallowed up into the earth. After initial testing by IAA archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch, it was discovered that the sand box was constructed directly above an ancient water cistern.

Today, as the Jerusalem Municipality begins a renovation of the Katamon neighborhood playground, the IAA and the municipality are in talks to decide whether the 1,500-year-old water cistern can be turned into a national site along the lines of Ramla’s subterranean Pool of Arches.

In a press release, the IAA’s Baruch, who is today the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem region, said the IAA is willing to offer the municipality any aid necessary to open the site to the public.

According to 2005 documentation and mapping by now retired IAA archaeologist Dr. Uzi Dahari and engineer Ofer Cohen, the cistern was approximately the size of half of an Olympic-sized pool. Its maximal capacity of water is 1,125,000 liters (some 300,000 gallons) and it covers an area of some 225 square meters (2,422 square feet).

During diving excavations, the team discovered the cistern was superbly conserved.

Based on characteristic features, as well as archaeological remains from a nearby excavation — now found under the Ramban Synagogue — archaeologist Baruch dated the pool to the Byzantine era. The synagogue’s event hall features views of the archaeology.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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


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