Saturday, December 21, 2019

From Ian:

‘Extensive overlaps’ between BDS and terror groups revealed
The Shin Bet announced on December 18 that it arrested approximately 50 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), ending the investigation into the August 23 terror attack that killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and revealing the organization’s ties to BDS, JNS reported. Shnerb’s brother and father, both of whom were with her during the explosion were injured, but survived.

One of those arrested was Khalida Jarrar, who is said to be the head of the terror group’s operations in the West Bank, served as the vice chairperson, director and board member of the BDS organization Addameer, according to JNS. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement calls on the world to put pressure on Israel through economic, academic and cultural measures.

“With regard to Jarrar, this is really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the BDS/terror connection,” Marc Greendorfer, president of the Zachor Legal Institute and author of “The New Antisemites: The Radicalization Mechanism of the BDS Movement and the Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel,” told JNS.

“Jarrar is simply one example of the extensive overlaps between terror organization leadership and BDS, going all the way to the top, where the organizing and operational leadership of BDS [the BDS National Committee, or BNC] includes a coalition of groups designated as foreign terror organizations by the United States and other countries,” Greendorfer told JNS.
Palestinian NGO employees arrested as a part of Shin Bet crackdown of PFLP
The Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) announced that is has uncovered a 50-person terror network operating out of the West Bank in cooperation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP).

The statement named multiple PFLP leaders who were linked to non-governmental organizations, several of which receive direct funding from the United Nations.

Among those named in the report were Samer Arbid and Abdel Razep Farraj of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; Walid Hanatsheh of the Health Work Committees; Itiraf Hajaj (Rimawi) of the Bisan Center; and Khalida Jarrar, former vice president of Addameer - who according to Jarrar's indictment, has led the PFLP in the West Bank as of June 2016.

Many of these NGOs receive taxpayer funding from Europe and other nations, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Spain, the European Commission and the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Several of the alleged terrorists have work as financial directors, accountants or fundraising directors for many of these organizations.
The Independent must apologise for appalling article claiming antisemitism accusations stifle criticism of Israel while bemoaning “the trouble with Jews today”
An op-ed in The Independent contends that accusations of antisemitism are levelled to stifle criticism of Israel while also complaining about “the trouble with Jews today”.

The brazen article, written by Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian philosopher, and published earlier this month, adopts the “Livingstone Formulation”, the formula named after Ken Livingstone that claims that accusations of antisemitism are used to silence criticism of Israel.

The article on the one hand claimed that “today, the charge of antisemitism is addressed at anyone who critiques Israeli policy,” while also insisting on the other hand that “the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.”

Aside from the dubious history intended to minimise if not erase the historical and religious connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, which goes back thousands of years, Mr Zizek is “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel,” in breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism. In case this was not obvious, The Independent, recognising that the statement was antisemitic, subsequently amended it to read: “the trouble with the settlement project today is that it is now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people”.

Of course the irony of the piece — which exemplifies the sinister folly of the Livingstone Formulation — is that Mr Zizek’s “criticism of Israel” was in this instance antisemitic, thereby undermining his entire thesis. Editors at The Independent utterly failed to recognise this, but perhaps they should be credited for correcting the article, not merely for belatedly removing the offending phrase, but also for conceding that Mr Zizek’s choice of words was appalling.



Evelyn Gordon: Jewsraelis
Review of '#IsraeliJudaism' by Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs
The authors also challenge the idea that Jewish identity can be exclusively about values. In theory, expressing one’s Judaism through helping others rather than observing Shabbat sounds reasonable. But in reality, they found, groups that engage in more traditional practices “are also the ones who give more to charity, and volunteer more frequently.”

In fact, they write, “the more we examine what makes Jews in Israel Jewish, what keeps them aware of their Jewishness, and what connects them to the rest of the Jewish people, we find this almost always involves action” (emphasis in original). “Customs or rituals, daily routines, or annual calendars… A robust Jewish sense of self almost always comes together with action: Jews study, celebrate, and congregate.”

But that has always been true. And indeed, what Rosner and Fuchs term a “new Judaism” is in many ways a return to Judaism’s roots. The Judaism of the Bible also fused religious practice and national identity; biblical commandments about Shabbat and kashrut sit alongside commandments about national life, from establishing courts to measures to help the poor to restrictions on the king’s powers.

To take just one example, the Bible required all able-bodied men to participate in “obligatory wars” (as opposed to wars of choice). And despite the inevitable differences between a modern Jewish state and its biblical predecessors, that parallels today’s “Jewsraeli” belief that being a good Jew includes raising your children to serve in the IDF. Both are predicated on the understanding that not only does national survival require an army, but protecting fellow Jews is a moral good.

Zionism, Rosner and Fuchs write, sought not only to rescue Jews but also to rescue Judaism from “exhaustion, paralysis, insignificance, and irrelevance.” Like them, I think Israel’s “cultural revolution” might ultimately revitalize Judaism. But if it does, it will be because it’s less a true revolution than a restoration of Judaism’s original dual nature.
UAE foreign minister tweets article about Israel, Arab alliance
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the United Arab Emirates, tweeted an article supporting an emerging alliance of Arab states with Israel. He tweeted from his personal account to his 4.6 million followers. The tweet repeated the headline of the article: “Islam’s reformation, an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded that he welcomed closer readings between Israel and many Arab states. “The time has come for normalization and peace.”


“A new narrative is emerging in the Middle East,” wrote Ed Husain in an article on Saturday in The Spectator arguing that an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East. “Sunni Arab neighbors are changing course,” he wrote, contrasting this year with the 1960s when Israel’s neighbors sought to destroy the country. “Islamist leaders are losing their appeal, at a time when Iran, with its brand of theological fascism, poses a threat to Israel and the Arab world alike.”
The article argued that polls show that while religious extremism is falling in the region, young people are open to new ideas. They want prosperity and some are open to build new alliances, including with Israel. The author of the article is currently on a visit to Israel, and tweeted photos from Tel Aviv on Friday. “In Tel Aviv today with Ibn Sina, Maimonides and Aquinas,” he wrote, referencing historic Jewish, Islamic and Christian philosophers. Husain has worked at influential think tanks, including Civitas and the Wilson Center’s Middle East program. He is an author and advisor.

By retweeting the article, the UAE’s influential minister gave wind to it and spotlighted it to his four million followers. Many of the comments were positive. The UAE has been a key ally of Saudi Arabia in recent years and has also been leading the region to confront extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Tehran’s regime. However, the UAE is also in a complex position because it wants to support tolerance but knows that Iran is a neighbor across the Gulf. The US has Al Dhafra air base in the UAE and the French are basing a force to help with maritime security in the wake of Iranian attacks on tankers in May and June this year. The UAE has generally been seen as having shared interests with Israel in recent years.
Eastern Mediterranean Bill Passed by US Congress Underlines Continued Strategic Partnership with Israel
New legislation approved by the US Congress on Thursday will further cement Israel’s role as a strategic partner in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on both the economic and security fronts.

The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 — sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — authorizes new security assistance for Cyprus and Greece and lifts the US arms embargo on Cyprus. It also authorizes the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation among the US, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.

“Bolstered by strong and expanding relationships with Greece, Israel, and Cyprus, this commonsense legislation will significantly strengthen our joint efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and security,” Menendez said in a statement on Friday.

Rubio commented that the “inclusion of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act of 2019 in the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020 reaffirms our nation’s commitment to strengthening and expanding our energy and security cooperation with our key allies and partners in the region.”

The legislation will also require the Trump administration to submit to Congress “a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region.”
Yair Netanyahu, EU engage in Twitter spat
NGO Monitor tweeted a thread in Hebrew on Friday alleging connections between the terrorist organization responsible for killing Rina Shnerb and “administrators of human rights organizations.”
The first tweet in the thread, “Is your money in good hands? And what is the connection between the murder of Rina Shnerb, the terrorist organization suspected of committing the murder and administrators of human rights organizations? Stay with us. #YourMoneyInGoodHands.”

The European Union Delegation to the State of Israel responded in English saying, “The EU stands strong against terror wherever it occurs. We will continue to firmly condemn terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Allegations EU is supporting terrorism are simply untrue and unacceptable. Continuing a "with or against us" mentality only perpetuates conflict.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayhu’s son Yair, responded to the EU’s tweet and wrote, “The EU is a hostile globalist organization, not just for Israel, but for all countries of central and Eastern Europe. Go away.”

Rather than writing a response, the EU tweeted shrugging emojis at the prime minister's older son.

The Shin Bet announced on December 18 that it arrested approximately 50 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and that it discovered that there were connections between the terrorist organization and the BDS movement.
One of those arrested was Khalida Jarrar, who is said to be the head of the terror group’s operations in the West Bank, served as the vice chairperson, director and board member of the BDS organization Addameer, according to JNS.
Netanyahu: ICC decision to probe Israel ‘a dark day for truth and justice’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday evening lambasted a decision by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to proceed with an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories.

“This is a dark day for truth and justice,” Netanyahu said in a statement, calling prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s ruling “scandalous and baseless.”

He said the decision made the Hague-based court, which Israel has refused to sign up to since its creation in 2002, a “political tool” against the Jewish state. He claimed Bensouda “entirely ignored serious judicial arguments we presented.”

Netanyahu argued that the ICC “has no authority to adjudicate the matter. It has jurisdiction only in lawsuits presented by sovereign states, but there has never been a Palestinian state. We will not accept or acquiesce to this injustice. We will continue to fight it with all the tools at our disposal.”

He also expressed astonishment that Bensouda “says it is a crime, a war crime, for Jews to live in their homeland, the land of the Bible, the land of our forefathers.” Bensouda had said Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in the West Bank could constitute a crime.
Pompeo: We oppose the ICC decision, targets Israel unfairly
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday that the United States did not believe Palestinians qualified as a sovereign state, meaning that the recent ICC decision to open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes against them is unfounded.

He added: "We firmly oppose this, and any other action that seeks to target Israel unfairly."

On Twitter, Pompeo argued that “Israel is not a party to the ICC” and that “the path to lasting peace is through direct negotiations” between Israelis and Palestinians, not via legal procedures.


International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda believes Israel is committing war crimes in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, and has opened an investigation into the matter.

Bensouda asked the ICC’s pre-trial chamber to rule on the question of whether the ICC has jurisdiction to hear the case, given the special circumstances relating to the territory in question.
Palestinians welcome ICC 'war crimes' probe
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and several Palestinian factions welcomed Friday’s announcement by International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

Bensouda, in a statement, said: “I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to article 53(1) of the [Rome] Statute.” She said she has asked the ICC’s pre-trial chamber to rule on the question whether the ICC has jurisdiction to hear the case, given the special circumstances relating to the territory in question.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas described the announcement as a “great day” and said the ICC would now agree to look into cases previously submitted by the Palestinians against Israel.

“I congratulate our people for this decision,” Abbas said. “This is a historic day, and now any Palestinian affected by the occupation could file a case with the International Criminal Court.”
Hamas hails ICC for readying probe of alleged war crimes by Israel — and itself
A spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers praised the announcement by the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor that there was a “basis” to move forward with investigating alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, including by the Islamist terror group.

“The Hamas movement welcomes the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into war crimes committed by the occupation against Palestinian people,” Hazem Qassem told AFP on Saturday.

“The importance of this decision lies in the actual beginning of the procedures of this decision and the start of the penalization of the occupation for all the crimes it committed against Palestinian people,” he added.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said Friday that in addition to there being grounds to probe Israel, there was also a “reasonable basis” that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups committed war crimes by targeting civilians and torturing individuals.

The ICC announcement has been widely praised by Palestinian leaders, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calling it a “great” and “historic” day.

“We have achieved what we want, and from this day on, the ICC machine will start accepting the cases that we have previously presented,” he was quoted saying by the official Wafa news agency at an event for his Fatah party in Ramallah.
Israeli Air Force Confident That These Airstrikes Will Teach Hamas a Lesson (satire)
Following another rocket launch from Gaza, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has retaliated with airstrikes against terrorist infrastructure. An IAF spokesperson commented “We are confident that these strikes sent a message to Hamas that we weren’t able to achieve with last week’s airstrikes, or for that matter the ones last month, and also those back in September.”

Standing in front of a black-and-white photo he pointed out that the IDF had achieved their primary goal of shifting piles of rubble around into new piles of slightly smaller rubble, therefore “disrupting the enemy’s ability to operate”, presumably because rubble is a major trip hazard.

This is the second night that rocket sirens have sounded in Southern Israel this week. A representative from Sderot, a town that has been hit by thousands of rockets over the last decade said, “Yup, that’ll do it. Tonight’s the night that Hamas learns its lesson”.

Some security officials have also expressed doubts about the efficacy of the policy. A pilot speaking on condition of anonymity told The Mideast Beast, “One time I forgot my missiles back at base, and I knew I would’ve looked like a real asshole, so I just showed them the flight footage from the last week’s hole in the side of a building, nobody could tell the difference.”
Russia, Backed by China, Casts 14th UN Veto on Syria to Block Cross-Border Aid
Russia, backed by China, on Friday cast its 14th UN Security Council veto since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011 to block cross-border aid deliveries from Turkey and Iraq to millions of Syrian civilians.

The resolution drafted by Belgium, Kuwait and Germany would have allowed cross-border humanitarian deliveries for another year from two points in Turkey and one in Iraq. But Syrian ally Russia only wanted to approve the two Turkish crossings for six months.

Russia and China vetoed the draft resolution. The remaining 13 members of the Security Council voted in favor. A resolution needs a minimum nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, Britain or France to pass.

Deputy UN aid chief Ursula Mueller had warned the council on Thursday that without the cross border operations “we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians.”

“That would cause a rapid increase in hunger and disease, resulting in death, suffering and further displacement — including across-borders — for a vulnerable population who have already suffered unspeakable tragedy as a result of almost nine years of conflict,” Mueller said.
Iran calls US foreign policy ‘delusional,’ Pompeo ‘a loudspeaker for bullying’
Iran has called US foreign policy “delusional” and its chief diplomat a “loudspeaker for bullying, deceit and disdain,” after Washington unveiled new sanctions against Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announcing the measures against two Iranian judges on Thursday, said Washington would also restrict visas for Iranian officials.

“They will not achieve anything this way,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement over the weekend.

“They have shown nothing to America’s people and the world other than an inefficient, delusional, static and bullying foreign policy.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration already ended the vast majority of new visas for Iranians.

Washington also reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors after withdrawing from the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal last year and imposing a strategy of “maximum pressure.”

Pompeo said the new measures were “for the sake of human dignity” and that the United States stands with the Iranian people.

Mousavi said former Central Intelligence Agency chief Pompeo was unfit to be in the “civilized field” of diplomacy.
Turkey-Iran-Qatar-Malaysia alliance to seek own gold trade standard
Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Malaysia are creating an economic alliance that seeks to use gold as a way to trade and free themselves from what they claim are sanctions that target “Muslim” countries. Iran’s Press TV says the new “gold dinar” could help it beat sanctions.

“Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering the gold dinar and barter trade as a way of protecting themselves against any future economic sanctions,” Iran’s Press TV notes.

The meeting in Kuala Lumpur has brought together right-leaning Islamic regimes that seek to create what they see as an Islamic alliance that will work more closely together. Saudi Arabia and other countries that have hosted the Organization of Islamic Cooperation see the Malaysia meeting as seeking to undermine existing Islamic institutions.

According to Bloomberg, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who is known for antisemitic speeches claiming Jews “rule the world by proxy,” pushed for a new barter system among Islamic countries. It is unclear if the system will be only for Muslim countries. Mahathir suggested that the countries consider using the “gold dinar” as a way of trade. The trade would enable them to get around US sanctions. Turkey has sought to increase trade with Iran, and Malaysia, Qatar and Turkey have worked with Iran and Hamas.

All of these countries seem to suggest that they are in need of a way to get around trade sanctions imposed by others. For instance, Qatar has been under blockade by Saudi Arabia since 2017. The US also left the Iran Deal in 2018, and has put unprecedented sanctions on Iran. The trade system might also enable these countries to get around anti-terrorism finance laws and arms embargoes. Qatar has been accused in the past of not doing enough on terrorism finance. A recent article at The Telegraph asserted that Hamas has planned attacks from Turkey. A report in Malaysia in November said that its visa-free travel has made it a “transit hub” for terrorists.

The Sun Daily in Malaysia reported that Mahathir said that the world was witnessing nations making unilateral decisions to impose punitive measures. Malaysia is one of the leading anti-Israel countries in the world. Its leader has proudly spoken of his antisemitism at recent meetings in Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia universities where he calls Jews hook nosed. Malaysia forbids travel to Israel but it sent a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in early December. Israel prevented the delegation from visiting. Al-Monitor reports that Malaysia is becoming “Hamas gateway to Asia.” The new Turkey-Iran-Qatar-Malaysia economic alliance could also involve a barter system to benefit Hamas because currently economic support for Gaza must go through Israel. Qatar has transferred millions in aid to the Gaza Strip.
Christmas Cultural Appropriation Palestinian Style
Critics mocked a year-old video made University of Detroit Mercy adjunct law professor Amer Zahr that was retweeted by Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erakat this week.

The video in question has Zahr repeating and elaborating on the historical falsehood that Jesus was a Palestinian.

"Not one person mentioned in that video would have self-identified as 'Palestinian,'" blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote. "They were Jews (with a Greek or two thrown in.) Calling Jesus 'Palestinian' makes as much sense as calling King David 'Palestinian' and it is very offensive. Appropriating Jewish history itself is much more offensive than people calling falafel 'Israeli.'"

Daniel Schwammenthal, the director of the American Jewish Committee's Transatlantic Institute, tweeted, "Is there anything sadder than trying to steal another people's history? The inventor of the Jenin massacre blood libel, @ErakatSaeb, promotes another big lie: Jesus was... Palestinian. This version of that tired historical appropriation is from @BernieSanders surrogate @AmerZahr."

With the Jewish holiday of Hannukah in the same season, why didn't Zahr also try to claim that Judah Maccabee, who lived a few hundred years before Jesus, was a Palestinian too?
Canadian Jewish Group Raises Concerns About ‘Extremist’ Speakers at Toronto Islamic Conference
A prominent Canadian Jewish group raised concerns on Thursday about several “extremist” speakers scheduled to appear at an Islamic conference in Toronto this weekend.

The event in question — titled “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” — began on Friday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will run through Sunday.

In a statement on Thursday, B’nai Brith Canada highlighted concerns about three of the conference’s participants — American preachers Yasir Qadhi, Siraj Wahhaj and Omar Suleiman — who it said have “a history of antisemitic and inciting remarks.”

“It is troubling that a major Canadian Muslim conference continues to invite extremist preachers to Canada,” Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said. “Surely there are enough qualified moderate Muslim leaders, without a history of extremist messaging, who can be chosen to speak at events such as these.”

According to B’nai Brith Canada, Qadhi defended earlier this year the Islamic hadith that that the End of Days, the Jews will be slaughtered by the Muslims.

Wahaj, B’nai Brith Canada noted, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In a 2012 lecture, B’nai Brith Canada said, Suleiman asserted that “if not for the Children of Israel, meat would not decay,” and that Jews “harmed all of their prophets.” He is also said to have described Zionists as “enemies of G-d.”
In Mass Email, University of Illinois Student Gov’t Leader Rejects Conflation of ‘Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism’
The student body president at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) invoked a controversial antisemitism resolution that has been rejected by the campus Jewish community in a mass email hailed by anti-Zionist students.

In the email sent on Wednesday to more than 50,000 students, faculty, and staff, Student Body President Connor Josellis said the “epidemic of antisemitism on this campus is horrific,” and condemned the appearance of hate symbols, such as swastikas.

“Due to recent events on campus, it is worth distinguishing that criticism of Israel, similar to criticism of any other country is not antisemitic and should not be labeled as such,” Josellis said.

He pointed to the adoption of a controversial student government resolution on Oct. 23, saying it “highlighted that those on this campus whose beliefs may align with Anti-Zionism at its root, are not being antisemitic in their criticism of Israel. There is however, a line that all must be aware of.”

“There have been multiple times antisemitism and Anti-Zionism have been conflated on this campus and this resolution passed to protect our Pro-Palestinian students from being mislabeled and harassed as antisemitic due to their beliefs,” Josellis added.
Three students strangle co-pupil in antisemitic attack in Berlin
Berlin police announced that three teenage students assaulted a fellow 14-year-old pupil on Thursday and taunted him in antisemitic terms while they strangled him. The student survived the assault.

According to a police press statement, the three assailants “are said to have tied him up and choked him while expressing antisemitic abuse.”

The statement added, “When a sports teacher noticed the attack, he immediately intervened and separated the three suspected attackers from the 14-year-old, who suffered from reddening of the throat.”

The attack occurred in the Berlin district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The police state authorities launched an investigation.
Jewish cemetery in Sidon, Lebanon, destroyed – will UNESCO help?
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay was presented with a letter on Friday in which the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, complained that a Jewish cemetery in Sidon had been destroyed. Samuels asked UNESCO to protect the heritage site.

The Jewish burial site had already been damaged in 1992 when a road was paved near it; a Jewish donor had the graveyard restored in 2005, since his own ancestors were buried there. The donor also appointed Mr. Nagi Zeidan to oversee the site to ensure it remains in good condition; it was Zeidan who noticed the latest damage done to the final resting place of the once prosperous Jewish community of Sidon.

When the IDF controlled south-east Lebanon, Israeli soldiers maintained the cemetery and erected a plaque in Hebrew, but since the plaque only caused provocation after Israel withdrew its forces, it was replaced with an Arabic one.

In the letter, Samuels suggests that Hezbollah is responsible for the damages.

Sidon is the home of one of the oldest Jewish prayer houses in the world: the Sidon Synagogue, which was built in 833 and still stands today.
Lighting it upJames Corden spoofs Hanukkah, boy bands in new song
It’s the holiday season and American late night shows are making merry. On Thursday, James Corden, host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show,” debuted a new music video poking fun at Hanukkah and boy bands.

The song “A Week and a Day,” performed by fictional band Boyz II Menorah (a play on hip-hop group Boyz II Men), includes Corden himself, Jewish actors Zach Braff, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Josh Peck, and Jewish musician Charlie Puth.

Its lyrics include “I’ve got a week and a day of love for you this Hanukkah, girl,” and “I’ve got a week and a day of presents for a girl that shines brighter than any menorah.”

Other lyrics include: “When the world gets sad our hearts will free us just like Judas Maccabeus,” “Girl you spin me like a dreidel” and “Your lovin’ is sweeter than Hanukkah gelt.”

The fictional boy band, decked out in all white, dances around a studio littered with over-sized symbols of the Jewish festival of lights and shoots sweltering looks at the camera.

“Eloheinu melech ha-oh love to be with you,” Mintz-Plasse declares. “Girl, baruch atah I don’t know how you do it,” Braff exclaims.


Why FDR Turned Away Jewish Students
A recent New York Times article told the poignant story of an unlikely romance between two prisoners in Auschwitz.

Buried deep within the full-page feature about the relationship between David Wisnia and Helen Spitzer, however, was a heartbreaking fact whose significance most readers may not have recognized.

It turns out that all the years of starvation, beatings, and torture Wisnia endured at the hands of the Nazis could have been avoided, if not for the Roosevelt administration’s harsh policy towards Jewish refugee students seeking admission to the United States.

Wisnia was an exceptionally talented singer. “Before the war, he’d written a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt requesting a visa so he could study music in America,” the Times noted. “His mother’s two sisters had emigrated to the Bronx in the 1930s, and he’d memorized their address.”

American immigration policy during those years was governed by a strict quota system based on national origins. But the law contained three major exceptions: clergy, professors, and students could be admitted outside the quota restrictions.

To qualify for a student visa, an applicant needed to show a letter of acceptance from an accredited American school. It may be that Wisnia had not yet been accepted, and therefore technically didn’t qualify for a student visa. But that was part of the problem: US consular officials in Europe, acting in accordance with President Roosevelt’s policy, looked for every possible reason to keep refugees out. Had they been inclined toward kindness, instead of cold-heartedness, they could have chosen to grant Wisnia a regular visa on the grounds that he had close family members — two aunts — already living in the United States.
The story of the stolen missile boats Israel used in the Yom Kippur War
Fifty years ago this Christmas Eve, five small naval vessels slipped out of Cherbourg Harbor after midnight into the teeth of a force-nine gale. Ordered by Israel from a local shipyard, the “patrol boats” had been embargoed by France for political reasons. The Israelis were now running off with them.

The vessels would be refueled at sea by Israeli merchant ships moving into position along the 5,600-km. escape route.

As television crews flew over the Mediterranean searching for the boats, and the French defense minister called for the air force to “interdict” the fleeing vessels, the world media chortled at Israel’s chutzpah. But the real story was far bigger than they knew.

It had begun in 1961 when the commander of the Israel Navy, V.-Adm. Yohai Bin-Nun, summoned senior staff to a brainstorming session in navy headquarters on Haifa’s Mount Carmel. He passed on warnings that the navy might be downgraded to a coast guard if its antiquated fleet of World War II hand-me-downs could no longer defend Israel’s sea lanes. The task would then be left to the air force. What options did the navy have to stay relevant? Bin-Nun asked his staff.

From the two-day meeting, an unusual proposal floated to the surface. Israel’s fledgling military industries had developed a crude missile which was rejected by both the Artillery Corps and air force. If mounted on small boats, an officer at the meeting suggested, it could give them the punch of heavy cruisers.

Small meant affordable. It also meant much smaller crews; the sinking of a destroyer with a crew of 200-250 men, then the navy’s backbone, would be catastrophic for a small country like Israel. Small boats could not take heavy guns because of the recoil, but missiles have no recoil.
The nearly forgotten Jews who helped make the American West
A new documentary about the Wild West covers everything you would expect – gunslingers, cattle barons, lawmen and wide-open spaces. And one thing you wouldn’t: Jews.

“Jews of the Wild West,” from director Amanda Kinsey, shows how Jews were as much a part of the American Western expansion as covered wagons and riveted blue jeans — the latter, of course, invented by a Jew.

Kinsey said their stories resonate not just because of the almost comical idea of a Jewish cowboy, but because at a time when immigrants are increasingly demonized, stories of the Jews who helped settle the West shows how integral they were in building the America that we know today.

“Their stories were sidelined for social, political and economic reasons,” Kinsey said Monday night at a panel discussion at the Center for Jewish History in New York. “But they were visionaries who saw opportunity, who were rooted in family and tradition.”

So how did Jews from the shtetls of Europe end up becoming pioneers on the frontier? If there’s one man to thank for that, it is Jacob Schiff.

After the Civil War, a huge influx of Jews arrived at Ellis Island in New York. They settled on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, started businesses and formed families. But Schiff was worried that if Jews spoke Yiddish all day and never encountered Americans, they would struggle to integrate.



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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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