Thursday, April 18, 2019

From Ian:

Enough Is Enough
When I was a student at Bennington College, I was screamed at in the dining hall by a fellow student who told everyone around us that I spent my time in Israel killing Palestinian babies. Another student told me he hoped my entire family was murdered by Palestinian terrorists. I had a classmate show up for a Halloween party dressed as a suicide bomber, and my roommates were puzzled when I threw him out of the party. While attending another party, I mentioned I was heading to Israel to do academic research. Someone around me actually booed. Still, I had supportive friends, colleagues, and professors, who ensured I never felt unsafe and was able to do work that sparked calm and civil discussions on campus about the conflict.

That was 10 years ago. Those experiences seem quaint now.

Let’s start with Israel Apartheid Week, which just came to a close. IAW—which now takes place on approximately 37 campuses around the country—is an annual event of protests, rallies, film screenings, lectures, and actions designed to promote BDS and the idea that Israel is a colonialist apartheid regime. It is increasingly funded by the schools themselves: This year at Harvard, funding for IAW came from the Undergraduate Council’s Grant for an Open Harvard College, which subsidizes student-led initiatives that address “mental health, race, culture, and faith relations, sexual assault and harassment prevention, social spaces, and financial accessibility.” Harvard provided the Palestinian Solidarity Committee with $2,050 to host Israel Apartheid Week.

But IAW is not designed to foster dialogue; it is designed as an expression of rage for the Palestinian cause and an attempt to enrage others into action. The Israeli government and its policies are out of the reach of these student activists, but Jewish students and other campus community members are right there—and boy do they make a convenient target. As a result, we are now watching as students who are members of a group of historically oppressed minority people—who were the primary targets of the largest genocide of the 20th century—are harassed across American universities. There is plenty of space to discuss policy and philosophy on campus, but there should be no quarter given to events designed to harass, intimidate, and ultimately silence any minority group. There are ways to discuss disagreement civilly. IAW does not seek discussion, only disruption and intimidation.

Universities are treating IAW as a political event, which allows them to ignore the clear and well-publicized ramifications on the emotional well-being of a minority group on campus. Yes, universities should encourage vigorous and civil debate. A student’s politics may change as they are exposed to new ideas—mine certainly did. But Israel Apartheid Week is sponsored intimidation. It isn’t about learning or debating; it’s entirely about attacking Harassing Jews because of their Jewishness is not a consequence; it’s the goal. Think about it: Could you imagine any other school-sanctioned event, in today’s climate, in which a minority is deliberately singled out for harassment? If Jewish students were standing outside halal meals and Muslim cultural centers harassing students, with their classmates taunting them with chants and slogans erasing Palestinian identity, I would advocate the university censure the students. Erasing a minority student group’s cultural heritage isn’t activism—it’s oppressive behavior that’s inappropriate in an educational setting.

Bethany Mandel: Jews have strong grounds for a new exodus — from the Democratic Party
A PEW poll this week found that while Republicans are more likely to perceive anti-Christian discrimination, Democrats are more likely to see discrimination against Muslims, gays and Jews. Would that that bit about Democratic sensitivity to anti-Semitism were true. If it were, more Democrats would be sounding the alarm about the cancer of Jew-hatred infesting their party.

Leading Democrats remain blasé at best, however. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed herself to be in ­utter denial about the disease, telling CNN that “we have no taint of that in the Democratic Party.” Self-delusion on this scale is almost heroic, what with Rep. ­Ilhan Omar’s repeated evocations of classic anti-Semitic tropes about Israel “hypnotizing the world” and buying US support with “Benjamins, baby.”

The cancer is fast-moving and invasive, and if Democrats don’t excise it from their midst, they will make it impossible for Jews to comfortably remain. Is it possible for Jews to actually leave the Democratic Party en masse? It’s not as outlandish as some may think. Just look to how British Jews have handled Jeremy Corbyn, who has brought a once-honorable and philo-Semitic Labour party into league with the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah.

This month, the Jewish Labour Movement passed a no-confidence motion against Corbyn’s leadership. As The Guardian newspaper reported, Labour and Corbyn both “were dealt a blow” when the acting general meeting of the JLM “voted to describe the party as ‘institutionally ­anti-Semitic.’ ”

Sad to say, but the US Democratic Party is sliding toward a similar fate. Soon, “institutionally anti-Semitic” could serve as an apt description for the Democrats, as well. Consider: Just this week, Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in government, sat down with . . . none other than Corbyn.

Jpost Editorial: Democrats and Israel
Democratic presidential candidates and key members of Congress have become openly critical of Israel in recent weeks, set off to some extent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s preelection vow to annex parts of the West Bank.

“This provocation is harmful to Israeli, Palestinian and American interests,” Pete Buttigieg, one of the candidates running for the nomination, said. While he said he supports Israel, that does not mean agreeing with Netanyahu’s politics. “This calls for a president willing to counsel our ally against abandoning a two-state solution,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said.

US Sen. Bernie Sanders has been increasingly critical of Israel since he ran for president in 2016. He has also been linked closely with harsh critics of Israel. He helped name Cornel West and Keith Ellison to the Democratic platform committee that year. More recently, he claimed that Netanyahu was “extreme right-wing” and said that “I believe that we, in fact, need a two-state solution to the Middle East ongoing crisis, and that the United States needs to have an even-handed policy.”

Beto O’Rourke is also harshly critical of the prime minister, calling him racist. He tempered that with support of the overall relationship. “The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships we have on the planet; and that relationship, if successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States.”

The criticism of Netanyahu is unprecedented among Democratic candidates critiquing a foreign leader. Few other leaders in the world receive as much attention and constant critique as Israel’s. Among allies, it is unique. US candidates, for instance, do not critique the president of Turkey in such a way, despite Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inflammatory rhetoric.

The issues facing Israel are deeper than some criticism of Netanyahu. Within the Democratic Party, a Gallup poll in March showed a 6% drop in support for Israel. A 2018 poll found that only 49% of Democrats sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians. Among younger Democrats and the progressive members of Congress who inspire them, the situation is even worse. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has accused her colleagues of having “allegiance to a foreign country,” which, along with other comments seen as vaguely antisemitic, riled many in February and March.
Lauren Chen Ben Shapiro on Western Faith & Avi Yemini's Deportation!
We interview Ben Shapiro on his 2019 book The Right Side of History, plus Avi Yemini tells us about exposing Jim Jefferies and his recent deportation from the US.

The New York Times Continues Its Campaign to Legtimize BDS and its Proponents
The New York Times is at it again – sanitizing Omar Barghouti and his Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement– this time in a column by its resident BDS defender, Michelle Goldberg.

The Times columnist justifies BDS as “the controversial campaign to make Israel pay an economic and cultural price for its treatment of the Palestinians” – a characterization that turns the tables to condemn Israel instead of the anti-Semitic campaign that denies Jews the right to self-determination in their ancestral land. Barghouti and his fellow BDS proponents have repeatedly declared that the goal of BDS is to eliminate any Jewish state in the region. Moreover, BDS activists frequently single out Jews for bullying, using their presumed support for Israel as an excuse. (For details on the anti-Semitic nature of BDS and the incriminating words of its leaders, see here.)

The columnist bemoans the denial of entry into the U.S. to Barghouti who was to come for a speaking tour to promote BDS. She suggests that this is an unjust “assault on pro-Palestinian speech…” and that the U.S. is hypocritical by presenting itself as a champion of free expression while denying Barghouti entry to express his legitimate political opinions.

The denial of U.S. entry to Barghouti is presumably based on Section 212(a) of the country’s Immigration and Nationality Act which declares would-be visitors inadmissable to the U.S. on various grounds, including on Foreign Policy Grounds when those foreigners’ beliefs, statements, or associations are not lawful within the U.S. or when the Secretary of State believes that the foreigner’s entry into the US would “compromise a compelling US foreign policy interest.”
On B.D.S. and Free Speech
The Anti-Defamation League takes issue with a column by Michelle Goldberg.

To the Editor:

Re “Anti-Zionists Deserve Free Speech” (column, April 16):

Michelle Goldberg would have a legitimate point to make if she had limited her argument to the decision to bar the entry of Omar Barghouti to the United States.

As despicable as his views are — as the founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, he is clear that B.D.S. intends to delegitimize the state of Israel, which he seeks to dismantle — there is an argument to be made that that should not have disqualified him from entering the United States.

But Ms. Goldberg uses the decision blocking Mr. Barghouti’s entry to brand critics of B.D.S. as denying the right of free speech to anti-Israel activists on campus. In reality, B.D.S. activities and speakers abound on campuses around the country, even though their actions often stoke anti-Semitism and intimidate Jewish students.

Underlying her argument is an attempt to stifle the legitimate outrage that so many Americans, Jews and non-Jews, have about a concerted effort to delegitimize Israel, America’s ally.

Ms. Goldberg can argue Israel politics and policies all she wants, but she should not fail to acknowledge that delegitimization of Israel is not only offensive in itself but also dehumanizes and endangers innocent people.

Ken Jacobson
New York
The writer is deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Tlaib Meets With Another Anti-Israel Radical
Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who has faced allegations of being anti-Semitic, met with anti-Israel activist Joe Catron during American Muslims for Palestine Advocacy Day last week.

Tlaib met with Catron and other members of AMP’s New Jersey chapter before taking a picture with them outside her office. AMP hosts the advocacy and training event annually, inviting all adults who "seek justice in Palestine," the Daily Caller reported.

In addition to seeking justice in Palestine, other criteria includes supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or the BDS movement, which wages economic boycotts on the Jewish state. The movement also seeks to punish Israel by depriving it for what they believe is the mistreatment of Palestinians who are living around the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says the BDS movement is "the most prominent effort to undermine Israel’s existence" and has been critical of AMP for promoting anti-Semitism. AMP touted the ADL’s anti-Israel description of their organization.

"A tip of my hat to Rashida Tlaib, who really goes above and beyond the call of duty in welcoming every supporter of Palestine to her office, listening to what we have to say, answering our questions, and posing for endless pictures," Catron wrote on Facebook following the meeting.

Catron is the U.S. coordinator of Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, according to the Daily Caller.

Samidoun is an affiliate arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Palestinian Marxist–Leninist and revolutionary socialist organization. The United States designated PFLP a terrorist organization in 1997, and Australia, Japan, Canada and the European Union shortly followed suit.
Democrat Rejects Contribution From Ilhan Omar
The reelection campaign for Rep. Lucy McBath (D., Ga.) said Wednesday it rejected a $2,000 contribution sent to it by her fellow Democratic freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar (Minn.), who has been criticized by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for anti-Semitism.

The Free Beacon first reported the $2,000 contribution given by Omar to McBath, whose campaign oddly left the contribution off its quarterly fundraising report. Pressed on the reason for its absence on Tuesday, the McBath campaign said only, "Our report is accurate," and declined to provide further details.

McBath's campaign admitted on Wednesday, however, that the lack of disclosure was due to a decision to reject the money from Omar, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Up in D.C., the conservative Free Beacon has pointed to a $2,000 campaign contribution that U.S. Rep. Illhan Omar, D-Minn., reported making to fellow freshman Democrat Lucy McBath of Marietta.

The website noted that McBath did not report the contribution—which is true. The McBath campaign told us this morning that the contribution was not accepted.
Over Half of Brits Say Corbyn's Failure to Tackle Anti-Semitism Makes Him Unfit to be PM
Another damning indictment of Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism – a new ComRes poll has found that over half of Brits agree that the Labour Party has a “serious anti-Semitism problem” and 55% say Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism within Labour renders him “unfit to be Prime Minister”. 3 in 10 people who voted Labour in 2017 agree on both counts…

Only 22% of people believed Corbyn’s claim that he has an “absolute determination” to stamp out anti-Semitism from his party, just 13% of people thought Labour is doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism within its own ranks. At least Corbyn can cling on to the fact that there are still 27% of people who think it’s just a “concerted smear campaign”…
Coronation Street and Hollyoaks star suspended by Labour over 'vile' attacks on Jewish MPs
Labour has suspended a soap actor and hard-left party branch official after the JC revealed he had questioned the loyalty of Jewish MPs to the UK.

John Davies — chair of the St Michaels branch of Liverpool Riverside Labour Party — said the “prime interests” of Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth were not with Jeremy Corbyn’s party but “elsewhere”.

Mr Davies — an actor who has appeared in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks — also suggested Jews who identify with Israel “have a big problem” and justified historical comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.

The JC understands that, since we brought his behaviour to the party's attention, he has been suspended.

Ms Smeeth, the MP for Stoke North, and parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told the JC his views had “no place in the party I have dedicated my life to” and called for the leadership to take action against him.

Mr Davies, who also uses the alias Johnny Beggs, has been one of the fiercest critics of his local MP Dame Louise Ellman, who is Jewish.
Richard Burgon is Fan of Metal Band Called 'Sacred Reich'
Richard Burgon is facing an appeal against his “Nazi imagery” libel victory against The Sun after video footage revealed he had been less than honest under oath over whether he had said “Zionism is the enemy”. This is the man who would be in charge of the Courts if Labour win an election…

Even though Burgon’s own band was absolved of using “Nazi imagery”, Guido has learned that Burgon is said to be a fan of a metal band called ‘Sacred Reich’. Metal bands often have daft names but ‘Sacred Reich’ is a big step beyond that. Burgon’s predilection towards Sacred Reich was also highlighted by Vice last year:
Caroline Lucas apologises for comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial
Ex-Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has apologised for “what was not the best comparison” between those who deny the impact of climate change and Holocaust denial.

The MP for Brighton Pavillion told the JC that during an appearance on LBC radio on Wednesday she had “used the example of the Holocaust to make the point that, like climate change, it is a fact beyond dispute.”

She added that “giving air time to anyone that questions the existence of either cannot be justified in the name of balance. I apologise for what was not the best comparison.”
Sponsors Demand Refund After Antisemitic Rap at UNC Gaza Conference, While Lawmaker Calls for Federal Probe
The fallout over a conference hosted at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill about the Gaza Strip continued in recent days, as a member of Congress called for an investigation into public funding of the event and some sponsors demanded their money back.

The outcry centered on a performance by Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar on March 22, the first night of the three-day “Conflict over Gaza” conference, who sang a self-described “antisemitic song.”

“I need your help, I cannot be antisemitic alone,” Nafar told audience members, according to video footage of the event. “Think of Mel Gibson. Go that antisemitic.”

In a statement released last Friday, UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz acknowledged that the performance “contained disturbing and hateful language.”

“Like many members of our community, I am heartbroken and deeply offended that this performance happened,” he added.

The incident also brought sharp condemnations from UNC’s School of Law and School of Government, which had each granted the event a $500 co-sponsorship.

In a Friday letter sent to leaders of the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, which hosted the conference along with the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, law school dean Martin Brinkley said he was “deeply disappointed in your breach of trust with innocent campus units who sought only to be good citizens and partners.”
Jewish Group at University of Maryland Laments ‘Insensitive’ Plan for BDS Vote on Passover
A resolution supporting the controversial boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel will be considered by student leaders at the University of Maryland next week, as Jewish students celebrate Passover, the campus Hillel said.

In a Wednesday email to community members, Maryland Hillel staff member Elan Burman said the bill was submitted to UMD’s Student Government Association (SGA) and will be brought to a vote on April 24.

The measure calls upon the “administration to divest from companies engaged in human rights violations in Palestine,” and is supported by groups including Students for Justice in Palestine under the auspices of the Divest UMD campaign.

“The timing of this resolution is particularly insensitive given that many Jewish students will be away from campus this weekend for Passover, and will be celebrating the intermediary days of the holiday when the vote takes place,” noted Burman, whose group is campaigning against divestment.

UMD Divest told the Algemeiner in a statement on Wednesday that next week’s meeting was unfortunately “the last possible SGA Meeting that our bill could be heard, as the First Reading was today.”
Arizona gives small firms pass on anti-BDS boycott law
Arizona has eased its rules to a ban on the state doing business with companies that boycott Israel in an attempt to avoid potential lawsuits.

The amendment would exempt individuals and businesses valued at less than $100,000 or employing fewer than 10 full-time employees from the ban.

In September, a federal district court ruled that the law violates the First Amendment right to boycott.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the amendment on Tuesday.

A similar amendment is set to be applied to a Texas law banning state business with companies that boycott Israel.

The Arizona law, enacted in March 2016, requires that any company that contracts with state or local government in Arizona submit a written certification that it is not currently boycotting Israel and will not do so.

In Guardian op-ed, Roger Waters denies he’s antisemitic
Roger Waters’ op-ed in the Guardian yesterday (If you believe in human rights, Madonna, don’t play Tel Aviv, April 18th) included the following passage:

…because I support human rights and criticise the Israeli government for its violations, I am routinely accused of being antisemitic. That accusation can be used as a smokescreen to divert attention and discredit those who shine a light on Israel’s crimes against humanity.

First, note how Waters employs what’s known as the Livingstone Formulation in suggesting that Jews cynically use the false charge of antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel.

Moreover, the record shows that Waters does in fact have a history of evoking antisemitic tropes. During an interview in Counterpunch in 2013, he not only compared Israel to Nazi Germany, but also suggested that the “Jewish lobby” controls “the music industry and rock ‘n roll”.

The blog Israellycool posted a reply to Waters’ Guardian op-ed which includes a good compilation video of his comments:

The question that’s routinely asked is whether someone is antisemitic, which is not really the right question, because we can never see into someone’s soul. Antisemitism isn’t an immutable trait. It’s a habit of mind. Antisemitism is a conspiratorial way of understanding of how the world works, premised on the belief that the system is rigged by an “elite using its control of the mechanisms of society” for nefarious purposes – and which of course imagines Jews as the “elite” at the center of this cabal.
The Washington Post’s Lopsided Coverage of Israel’s Elections
For a newspaper that expends considerable column space on Israel, The Washington Post shows little understanding of the Jewish state’s politics—and even less comprehension of that of the Palestinians. Recent coverage of Israeli and Palestinian political developments proves it.

After months of anticipation, Israel held elections on April 9, 2019. Several hours after polls closed, it was announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had retained enough seats to continue in his premiership.

The Post devoted inordinate coverage to the elections. The newspaper published no fewer than twenty reports and op-eds on the event, as well as an editorial.

Ishaan Tharoor, The Post’s World Views columnist, was perhaps the worst. In an April 10, 2019 column, Tharoor wrote “Israel’s politics lurched definitively to the right under Netanyahu’s watch, as he presided over the slow-motion collapse of the peace process with the Palestinians.” In another analysis, penned the day before the election, Tharoor claimed that Netanyahu had a “long history of sabotaging the two-state solution.”

In fact, as The Washington Post’s editorial board noted on Dec. 29, 2016, in 2009 Netanyahu “imposed a temporary construction freeze” in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in order to advance peace talks (“On Israel, we’re right back where Obama started”). However, this was to no avail; Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas refused to sit down and negotiate—a violation of the Oslo Accords that created the PA in the first place, and which remain the basis for its support.
92-year-old ex-SS guard charged with 5,230 counts of accessory to murder
German prosecutors on Thursday charged a 92-year-old man with aiding and abetting the murder of 5,230 people as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

The allegations against the accused, identified by daily newspaper Die Welt as Bruno Dey from Hamburg, concern atrocities committed at the Stutthof concentration camp, near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

He worked between August 1944 and April 1945 at the camp, which ended up holding 110,000 prisoners, 65,000 of whom perished.

Despite his senior age, the accused will be tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg, because he was 17 when he first worked at Stutthof.

Prosecutors accuse him of having contributed to the implementation of the Nazis’ order to kill as a “cog of the murder machinery.”
UK Soccer Star Cleared Over Nazi Salute After Disciplinary Committee Deplores His ‘Lamentable Ignorance’ of WW2
British soccer star Wayne Hennessey has been cleared by the game’s governing body of causing offense with a Nazi-style salute — after a disciplinary panel established that the goalkeeper knew absolutely nothing about the history of the Second World War.

Hennessey — the first-choice keeper for Premier League side Crystal Palace and the Wales men’s national team — was photographed with his right arm raised and his left hand over his top lip. The photo was snapped at a team party and posted on Instagram following a Crystal Palace victory in the FA Cup competition in January.

Explaining the decision, the regulatory commission of the Football Association revealed that Hennessey had shown a “lamentable degree of ignorance” about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis when questioned.

The charge was found not proven after two members of the three-man panel believed the photograph had been “misinterpreted” and the other said the “only plausible explanation” was that Hennessey made the salute.

Hennessey denied the charge and said any resemblance to the Nazi gesture was “absolutely coincidental.” He said he had “waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it” and “put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry.”

The goalkeeper had admitted “from the outset” of the hearing that he did not know what a Nazi salute was.
After fan anti-Semitism row, Chelsea to again march from Auschwitz to Birkenau
Two professional soccer teams — one in England and one in the United States — will send a joint delegation to the March of the Living.

The Chelsea Football Club and New England Revolution announced Wednesday in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they will have some 30 members attend the May 2 event in Poland, when approximately 10,000 people will march silently from the Auschwitz to Birkenau concentration camps to commemorate the lives lost in the Holocaust.

The joint delegation will include Chelsea Director Eugene Tenenbaum, CEO Guy Laurence, former manager Avram Grant, club ambassador Steve Redgrave and six players from its under-18 academy. From the Revolution, President Brian Bilello and former player Charlie Davies, now a club ambassador, will attend.

Last year, Chelsea was the first member of the Premier League, the top level for British soccer clubs, to send a delegation to the march. The Revolution of Major League Soccer will be the first US team to send a group.
Colorado suburb officially changes name of 'Swastika Acres' subdivision
A Denver suburb has officially changed the name of a subdivision known as "Swastika Acres," The Denver Post reported.

Cherry Hills Village leaders unanimously voted Tuesday to name the 56-lot subdivision "Old Cherry Hills."

“I think it’s important for our community to bring some closure to this issue,” said Councilman Dan Sheldon, who spearheaded the renaming effort, according to the Post. “The community has cried out for this to be changed.”

Mayor Russell Stewart said the change is expected to be adopted with little opposition, adding: “It’s the right thing to do.”

The subdivision was named Swastika Acres decades before the symbol was co-opted by Nazis, according to reports.

Denver Swastika Land Co. gave the area its name in 1908, when the symbol as used by Native American tribes was common across the Southwest.

“There was nothing wrong with [the name] at that time,” Sheldon said.
The Unknown Story of the Holocaust in North Africa

‘Today’ Show Anchor Savannah Guthrie Takes Helicopter Tour of ‘Magical’ Israel
“Today” show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie recently took a helicopter tour around Israel to see some of the country’s most sacred sites.

During the helicopter ride, Guthrie saw the Dead Sea, Judean Desert, Masada and areas of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

The NBC News morning show co-anchor was in Israel to film her series “Frontiers of Faith” for Holy Week, celebrated by Christians from Sunday, April 14 through Saturday, April 20. She also visited various sacred sites in the Old City of Jerusalem — such as the Western Wall, where she placed a note inside the wall.

Guthrie described Israel as “mystical, magical…[and] majestic.”
IDF colonel critically injured in Gaza War to light Independence Day torch
An IDF colonel critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 will light the IDF’s torch at the 71st Independence Day celebrations.

Col. Shai Siman-Tov was the deputy commander of the Golani’s 12th battalion during the IDF’s last war in the Gaza Strip and was critically injured during an infamous battle in Shejaia with Hamas, when a tunnel collapsed. A concrete beam hit his helmet and broke five vertebrae. He was airlifted in critical condition to Soroka-University Medical Center and has since been wheelchair-bound.

He returned to the military in 2015 and was promoted in rank and currently serves as a team leader at the IDF’s Tactical Command College.

He was recommended to the public committee for the selection of torch bearers by IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt.-Gen Aviv Kochavi, and approved by the chairman of the ministerial committee for symbols and ceremonies, Miri Regev.

Regev said that Siman-Tov “symbolizes the determination of the spirit and the strength of the soul to overcome the body’s ailments. The process of his recovery from his severe injury during Operation Protective Edge and his return to serve as an IDF commander is a story of the heroism of the spirit and the growing desire to overcome all obstacles... Col. Siman-Tov, I’m proud of you and salute you.”

This year’s Independence Day theme is “The Israeli Spirit” and other torch lighters include the mothers of the three teenagers, 16-year-olds Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnapped from a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem and killed by Hamas terrorists.
2 Jewish philanthropists pledge $122 million toward restoring Notre Dame
Two Jewish women have pledged between them $122 million toward the restoration of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral following Monday’s devastating fire.

Lily Safra, a Brazilian Jewish philanthropist, said she would give $22 million to fund the restoration efforts of the iconic church, Brazilian news site Correio 24 Horas reported. And Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the French billionaire owner of L’Oreal, pledged another 100 million euro ($112 million), according to CBS news.

The two women’s donations account for about seventeen percent of the $700 million collected so far for the restoration.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers announced the donation on Twitter, following French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for philanthropists to help collect funds for the operation.

Her father, Andre Bettencourt, wrote numerous articles for two pro-Nazi publications during World War II, one of which was financed by the Nazi government in Germany. Bettencourt Meyers married Jean-Pierre Meyers, a French Jewish businessman descended from a family of rabbis, and converted to Judaism.

Bettencourt Meyers has led and donated to interfaith initiatives connecting Christians and Jews.

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee announced on Wednesday that it will donate funds to help repair Notre Dame.
The Jewish Treasures of Notre Dame
The world was transfixed this week by the devastating images of flames and clouds of acrid smoke spewing from the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris. As Notre Dame burned, the charred ruin now missing its spire and roof, people around the globe stood with France in feeling the loss of this irreplaceable religious and cultural icon.

Notre Dame dates from the 12th century and provides a snapshot of what life was like eight centuries ago. When it was built, the vast majority of the population was illiterate; many people lived in what today would seem like abject poverty. Many of the elaborate friezes, statues, and stained glass windows served an educational function, illustrating Biblical and other religious stories, and seeking to impart messages to the Christians of Medieval Paris. Surprisingly, some of Notre Dame’s most prominent artwork concerns Jews.

Above the cathedral’s main doorway is a frieze, or raised carving, of two Christian saints: Anne and Joachim, who are thought to be the grandparents of Jesus. Since these individuals were Jewish, the artist used actual local Jews as models.

Jews were barely tolerated in France at that time. King Philip II expelled the Jews in 1182, but within a few years they began to trickle back into the country, settling in several cities and towns, including Paris. Their activities were severely restricted: the Lateran Council, convened by Pope Innocent III in 1215, banned Jews from all professions in Europe except for pawnbroking and selling old clothes. In addition, Jews were forced to wear special, ridiculous clothing that differentiated them from Christians.

We know what garments the Jews of Paris wore, because their likenesses have adorned Notre Dame Cathedral for 800 years. The Jewish wedding guests in the frieze are dressed in long robes and wearing tall pointy hats.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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