Monday, February 03, 2020

02/03 Links Pt2: #WeRemember: So should our journalists; Rise of far Right not the main source of antisemitism in Europe; Corbyn’s place in the history of antisemitism

From Ian:

‘#WeRemember: So should our journalists’
The leaders of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel make clear that their purpose is not peaceful change but the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state, based on a double standard they do not apply to any other country. This squarely fits the international definition of antisemitism. Yet when reporting on BDS-related events, mainstream journalists rarely include this critical context, misleadingly casting the group as a peaceful protest movement.

When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was denied entry to Israel in August 2019, most media painted her as a mainstream Democrat who happens to be critical of Israel, and omitted essential context: Just months earlier her own party had led the passage of House Resolution 241, “Condemning the antisemitic comments of Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota.”

Most media have been reasonably effective in providing context about the neo-Nazi and white supremacist backgrounds behind California synagogue shooter Robert Brewer and Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, yet most failed to disclose that David N. Anderson, who shot and killed shoppers at a New Jersey kosher deli last month, was apparently inspired by recordings of the antisemitic preacher Louis Farrakhan.

Is it then any surprise that during this week’s ceremonies the BBC’s Orla Guerin equated Israel with Nazi Germany while reporting from Yad Vashem, Israel’s own Holocaust museum?

It is both the beauty and burden of the free world that hate preachers like Farrakhan, extremist organizations like the neo-Nazi and BDS movements, and fringe politicians like Ilhan Omar, have a right to express antisemitic views, as long as they don’t cross the line into the very specifically defined legal categories of incitement or defamation. However, the public should never mistake such hateful extremists for being “mainstream” or “reasonable,” and the free press has a professional duty to provide this context.

The late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis beautifully expressed the American philosophy: “To expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

In a healthy society, free speech cannot stand on its own, but demands even more free speech in the form of context, fact-checking and rebuttals. The result is that our safety as a society depends not only on politicians, judges and police, but also on the ethics and professionalism of our journalists.

Jeremy Corbyn’s place in the history of antisemitism
FARRAKHAN echoed Nazi language when he used the word “termites” to describe Jews. Farrakhan has said that “satanic Jews had infected the modern world with poison and deceit.” He has called Jews “poisoners and absolute evil.”

One only has to put these statements next to the most common definition of antisemitism – that of the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA) – to understand that Farrakhan is an antisemite. One can do the same with British politicians who are (part-time) antisemites such as George Galloway and Lady Tonge.

Doing so with statements and acts of Corbyn doesn’t get us very far. His antisemitism is greatly different, yet far more important than Farrakhan’s in view of the position he holds. That the act of calling two Arab movements which aim to commit genocide against Jews his “brothers” and “friends” is hugely antisemitic requires little explanation. Yet none of the definitions of antisemitism includes explicitly such extreme cases.

Upon becoming Labour chairman, Corbyn almost immediately appointed the Hamas supporter Seumas Milne as executive director of strategy and communications. His leadership led rapidly to an explosion of antisemitic statements by various elected party officials.

Corbyn nominally condemned antisemitism, yet Labour greatly underperformed in dealing with the complaints about it. From a BBC Panorama program one learned that he and his immediate staff even protected people who had made antisemitic remarks.

In order to understand Corbyn’s huge contribution to the contemporary history of antisemitism, one has to comprehend a basic issue about current times that are known as “post-modernity.” In it, many themes have fragmented in a multitude of tiny parts.

So has antisemitism. To define Corbyn’s antisemitism one can best say that he is a major post-modern antisemite, which expresses itself through many diverse acts and statements. Scholars of antisemitism will have to familiarize themselves with this new concept as it is recurring.

Corbyn’s indirect antisemitic impact is far larger than seems from the above. Telegraph columnist Zoe Strimpel, who is Jewish, recently wrote about the British chattering classes, “What no dinner party-attending Jewish person can now avoid noticing is that at elite social gatherings in Britain and the US, dressing up brazen antisemitism as a form of political morality has become cool, acceptable and easy.” Jeremy Corbyn is indirectly to a substantial extent at the origins of this disastrous development in the UK.
Stand With Us: Rabbi Sacks Speaking Out on Antisemitism
Rabbi Sacks Speaking Out on Antisemitism - We were thrilled to receive and screen this video message from the much-respected former British Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks at our International Conference.

Rise of far Right not the main source of antisemitism in Europe – study
The rise of the far Right in Western Europe is not the primary source of antisemitism in the region in recent years, a study from the World Zionist Organization’s Institute for Zionist Strategies found.

“The rise of the extreme right and antisemitism: Three European case studies” focuses on France, England and Germany, which have the largest Jewish populations on the continent, examining whether there is a correlation between the deterioration in those communities’ security and the rise of far-right parties.

The Institute for Zionist Strategies is a nonpartisan research institution dedicated to preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Researcher Nicolas Nisim Touboul studied two variables in each country: the electoral growth of right-wing parties, and the trends in levels of antisemitism.

There were several notable attacks in France in the past decade, including the murder of a teacher and three pupils at the Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse in 2012 and the murder of four in the attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris in 2015. However, there was no clear trend of rising antisemitism in that time, with spikes in some years and a decrease in others. In 2003-2010, there were an average of 560 antisemitic incidents per year, and in 2011-2019 there were 444, according to official French records.

In 2011, Marine Le Pen won the leadership of the far-right National Front and it subsequently grew in electoral power. Touboul noted that the party rejected antisemitism, which “can be suspected to be a strategic decision to normalize the party,” but was serious enough that Le Pen expelled officials who made antisemitic statements, including her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Spikes in antisemitism in France mostly coincided with Israeli military operations. For example, 29% of violent antisemitic incidents in 2009 happened in January, during Operation Cast Lead, and 24% of them in 2014 were in July, during Operation Protective Edge.

Overall, the report found that increases in antisemitic violence were more likely to be motivated by anti-Israel sentiment or radical Islam than far-right views in France over the last decade.
Global Antisemitism on the Rise: New York is Taking a Stand

Developments in the investigation launched at the ICC in The Hague
Looking toward the future, it is possible that the ruling reflects the difficult relationship between the pre-trial chamber which handles the Palestinian issue and the ICC prosecutor. It may well be that hovering in the background to the current case are the events of the Mavi Marmara affair, in which the prosecutor decided that there were no grounds for investigation.

The pre-trial chamber found in favor of an appeal against this decision and ordered the prosecutor to reconsider. She, in turn, gathered additional materials, and then announced that despite having considered the issue once again, she remained convinced that an investigation was not justified.

In the end, no investigation into the Marmara affair was launched, and the question of the relation between the prosecutor’s independence and the powers of the ICC’s pre-trial chamber remained unresolved. How, if at all, will this relationship affect the court’s decision on the Palestinian case? Time will tell.

In the midst of all this, it was announced that Israel is pursuing diplomatic efforts to persuade other countries to pressure the ICC to drop its investigation. There is a certain irony to this, as on the one hand the government claims the ICC’s decision to pursue an investigation was a political act driven by an anti-Israel bias, while on the other, it is attempting to apply political pressure on the Court to reverse its decision. There is clearly a risk that this pressure will in and of itself lead the ICC to dig in its heels in order to demonstrate its independence from political influence.
The ICC, Israel and international humanitarian law
In late December, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda decided to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, proclaiming that there was a reasonable basis that such crimes were committed by the IDF during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. Bensouda even went so far as to accuse the Israel Defense Forces of “willful killing and willfully causing serious injury to body or health.” However, when examining all of the evidence, it becomes apparent that Bensouda’s statement lacks veracity because the IDF conducted Operation Protective Edge in full compliance with international humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions.

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that regulate the conduct of parties during an armed conflict and which seek to constrain the deleterious effects of war. A grave violation of the Geneva Conventions is considered under Article 8 of the Rome Statute as constituting a war crime.

Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 demonstrates that it did not commit grave violations of the Geneva Conventions that would be considered a war crime under the Rome Statute. For instance, Article 57(2)(b) of Protocol I of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states, “An attack shall be canceled or suspended if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or is subject to special protection or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel upheld this requirement by canceling air strikes when it noticed that civilians were present. Similarly, Israel used guided missiles which allowed IAF pilots to redirect missiles in mid-flight in order to avoid hitting civilians whom they noticed were present.
How Israel beat Netherlands war-crimes case against Gantz - analysis
Blue and White head Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief, and former Israeli IAF commander Amir Eshel just emerged victorious from a civil lawsuit in the Netherlands filed against them by Palestinian supporters.

How did they get off, and where did the lawsuit come from?

The Jerusalem Post learned that it all started with a strange “notice of liability” sent by Holland to Israeli defense officials. The notice was not criminal; rather, it was a simple notice stating that a party might be seeking to sue Gantz and Eshel.

The notice was unprecedented. As such, the defense officials passed the notice on to a combination of the Justice Ministry, the IDF and Foreign Ministry lawyers who were charged with figuring out what it meant. They eventually determined that Gantz and Eshel would be facing a civil-damages case for alleged wrongful death of Palestinians.

During the 2014 Gaza war, six members of Ismail Ziada’s family were killed, along with one other person, during an IDF strike.

Ziada alleged that the strike was a war crime, that the IDF did not objectively probe it, and that the Dutch court should grant Ziada damages for wrongful death.

In fact, the IDF legal division probed the incident and found that four out of the seven people killed were terrorists involved in combat in a 24-hour period, when around 120 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians.
Myth of Jews killing Christian children persists, says new book on blood libel
Although the Catholic Church has come a long way in refuting the blood libel, the lethal lie remains a fixture of pockets in Europe. In England, for example, white supremacists still honor “sacrificial victims of the Jews.” According to Teter, Catholic shrines tied to blood libels “persist unofficially” across Europe as magnets for Judeophobes.

In recent years, social media platforms have come under fire for hosting anti-Semitic content, including groups and pages about the blood libel. In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League demanded Facebook remove “Jewish Ritual Murder” pages.

A photograph taken following the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, when 49 Jews were murdered following a ‘blood libel’ against the Jewish community.

“It’s not just Facebook but also Google, the existence of those sites creates and reaffirms these ‘epistemological communities’ — these sites become sources of knowledge,” Teter told The Times of Israel.

Facebook currently hosts content related to the blood libel, including links to a “Jewish Occult Murders” video with more than 1,000 views. On Amazon, too, there are products that present the blood libel as factual, including a self-dubbed “irrelevant defense” of “Jewish Ritual Murder,” and Ariel Toaff’s 2008 book, “Virtual Judaism,” in which he responded to critics.

In Teter’s opinion, flagging content as anti-Semitic “may not be a disincentive or warning for white supremacists.” Perhaps, said the historian, identifying the content as “disturbingly false information” would be more helpful.

“Public labeling and public statements are key,” said Teter.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler: A report from the front
Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year in London on “the day the German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland was liberated.” It has become “a Memorial Day not just for Jews but also for other peoples who perished in other tragic circumstances, be it in Sudan, Rwanda, Myanmar, Bosnia, gypsies and gays...(at the ceremony) a number of countries are repeatedly mentioned, but Israel is only mentioned once and even then, more as an afterthought. This is Holocaust Memorial Day, Britain-style.

In a conversation with another Jewish Lord (who refuses to comment on anti-Semitism in the Labor party), the Lord tells Tenenbom: “I have a bag which I carry everywhere. In it I have my passport and twenty-seven different curriencies. If I had to leave tomorrow, I’d go. I’m 76 and I’ve lived here for 76 years and I’m a member of the House of Lords and yet.” Tuvia concludes that “The Holocaust has not yet ended, and it belongs to Jews only, Lords too.”

What conclusion may we—must we—draw? Here’s how Tenenbom sounds: “Yes, I have found much anti-Semitism in this land, and have dedicated many pages to it, but I still don’t fully believe it; I don’t believe myself. This cannot be true, I keep saying to myself.”

Such blind and stubborn hatred defies all reason; evil is impossible to comprehend.

The Taming of the Jew is a report from the front. We now know that Jew-hatred is bigger than Jeremy Corbyn, bigger than the Labor Party, and that anti-Semitism has infected all of Britain, from the high-born on down to their low-born betters. We know this because Tenenbom was there and lived to tell the tale. There are precious few places in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or England that one can visit without running into it. We also know that Jew hatred is far bigger than the UK, bigger than all of Europe, that no country on earth seems to be free of this ancient and bloody prejudice.

Thank you Sir Tuvia for allowing us to accompany you on this never ending journey.
Melanie Phillips: 'Hineini', says Sir Tom Stoppard; here I am, a Jew
The first play to be written by the Jewish writer Tomáš Straussler is shortly to open in London.

Actually, it’s the latest play by the acclaimed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who was born Tomáš Straussler in Czechoslovakia in 1937. But Leopoldstadt is the first of his plays which reflects the fact that he identifies himself — deeply, emotionally, viscerally — as a Jew.

He told the JC last week that he realised what this meant to him only in late middle age. The play, which I have seen in preview, mostly reflects not his own experiences but what being Jewish means to him.

This is a Stoppard we haven’t seen before. While his work has always been characterised by a dazzling combination of wit and high seriousness, here he has been driven by deep emotion.

Writing this play seems to have been an act of personal piety, a homage to the Jewish people with which he has come to feel a profound connection.

This is powerful and poignant. And yet it’s a play that could only have been written by someone whose face is now turned with sadness and yearning towards a culture he’s never really known.

The play tells the story of four generations of Viennese Jews from the turn of the 20th century. Wealthy, assimilated and with powerful friends, they think it inconceivable that such Austrian patriots as they are could ever be in the slightest danger. Until it’s too late.
The 19th-century British Christian Zionist who nearly founded Israel
In 1882, at the zenith of his cultic standing among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, the British Christian Zionist Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888) was hailed as a ‘savior’ and ‘another Cyrus’. Moses (Moshe Leib) Lilienblum, Leon Pinsker’s closest associate in Odessa, harbored the hope that Oliphant would prove to be ‘the Messiah for Israel.’ In Vienna, the famed Perets Smolenskin, in turn, wrote of Oliphant, ‘if not a Messiah, then a Samson.’

Upon meeting Oliphant in Lwów/Lviv that year, the great Rabbi Samuel Mohilever publicly endorsed him thus: ‘He and his wife wish only for the fulfillment of the words of the prophets that Israel will be restored to its land, and that they should do this in a way that enables [Jews] to keep every detail of the Jewish religion.’ Moreover, ‘In cities and small towns in Russia, Romania, and Galicia’, writes the historian of Zionism Nathan Gelber, ‘you could find in the houses of poor Jews a picture of Oliphant. It would be hung right next to the pictures of the great philanthropists Moses Montefiore and Baron Hirsch.’

Laurence Oliphant was raised in the home of fervent Evangelical Christians who believed in ‘Restorationism,’ as Protestants and Jews typically referred to Zionism before the term was coined in 1890. This Christian Zionism first appeared in the wake of the Reformation, and is most closely associated with Evangelical Christianity, whose practitioners replaced Catholic saints with the prophets and heroes of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, the Evangelical belief that the covenant between God and the Jews remains valid conditioned Evangelical Christians to see European Jews as Israelites.

Evangelical Christians also lay great store in the prophecy that the Jews would one day be restored to the cradle of their religion and culture. This belief became a political project in the 19th century, once Great Britain had become a global empire capable of contributing to the restoration ‘in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.’ The career of Laurence Oliphant is one of that century’s most illuminating examples of such British efforts.
Yisrael Medad: Someone Had It Right in 1921
June 14, 1921, House of Commons, London:
Colonel WEDGWOOD The Levantine in a red fez. He stirs up the "black hundreds" to butcher the Jews, and on the first occasion of these riots the Government immediately stopped the influx of more Jews into Palestine. That is the worst possible policy to pursue. That is putting a premium on the pogroms. If you stop more Jews going in, that is exactly what the effendis want—to keep Palestine a preserve for the old ideas. When you give these people what they want in return for murdering the Jews you are likely to require more than 5,000 troops there. Unfortunately, Sir Herbert Samuel gave in to the Arabs. I hope if he has to choose again he will pay a little less attention to the evidence that is being concocted to prove that Jewish agitators 309and Bolsheviks came straight from Lenin at Moscow.

There is one way in which you can protect the Jews without throwing any administrative charge upon the revenues or the taxpayer of this country, and without increasing the garrison of 5,000 English troops; and that is by simply allowing the Jews to form a defensive force of their own. They had an excellent regiment during the War. That regiment did admirable service. At the end of the War the military administration, as it then was in Palestine, immediately disbanded it. Let them form their own regiments. The Palestinian Jews and the Zionist organisation are perfectly prepared themselves to find the money for the equipment for the troops. Give them a chance to defend their own settlements and we shall hear much less of this danger spot in the East. It is not necessary to fear that they will attack the Arabs. The Jews are a most peaceable people. They know the minority is always unwise to attack the majority. At the present time all the police of that country are Arabs. These Arab police stimulate others to assist in massacring the Jewish inhabitants. The danger for the Jews is very real. I submit to the Government they should take every step they can to assist in the formation of territorial forces to protect the Jews, and at the same time to relieve the taxpayers of this country from an expense which otherwise will fall upon their shoulders. Meanwhile the right hon. Gentleman has my blessing. I could wish that years ago he had been appointed to the Colonial Office instead of the War Office. We might have saved millions at both offices. Wherever he is he becomes the stormy petrel for his own department, and I cannot help thinking that it would be well that the rest of the Government should come to take his new view, that after all, peace is the principal necessity for the inhabitants of this country.
Franklin Roosevelt Betrayed Europe’s Jews
It has been said (usually by journalists themselves) that “journalism is the first rough draft of history.” In the case of America’s response to the Holocaust the historians didn’t do much, at least at first, to improve the drafts written by the reporters at the scene.

Within two decades after the war’s end major biographies of FDR were published, including by reputable scholars such as James MacGregor Burns, Frank Freidel, and Eric Goldman. These studies made important contributions to American political history—except in one crucial area. Almost across the board the biographers uncritically echoed the Roosevelt administration’s self-exculpatory account of America’s failure to come to the aid of the European Jews. According to the consensus view first promulgated by members of the government and later echoed by journalists and historians, the U.S. could do nothing to save Jews under Hitler’s control because such endeavors would have diverted resources from the first and ultimate priority of winning the war. Defeating Nazi Germany on the battlefield was the only possible way to rescue any substantial number of Jews.

James MacGregor Burns’ two volume biography of FDR, published starting in 1956 and concluded in 1970, was widely regarded at the time as the best of the genre. It received the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award. Yet in over 1,100 total pages Burns barely mentions Breckinridge Long and says nothing about the Riegner cable. Nevertheless, the historian confidently asserts that the logistical and military problems of trying to rescue Jews in occupied Europe were too “intractable.” As with Roosevelt’s other preeminent biographers, Burns simply elides the possibility that the president might bear any personal moral responsibility for America’s indifference to the Holocaust.

Thankfully, historiography is a self-correcting process. By the late 1960s a new group of scholars stepped into the vacuum, uncovering new archives and challenging the establishment Roosevelt historians. Works such as Arthur Morse’s While Six Million Died and Henry Feingold’s The Politics of Rescue offered convincing evidence that the Roosevelt administration obstructed practical proposals for saving Jews facing extermination, just as it had previously blocked asylum for hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Finally, David Wyman’s massive 1984 study, The Abandonment of The Jews: America and The Holocaust, 1941-1945, demolished virtually every argument used by the Roosevelt biographers to exonerate the president. It also became a surprise bestseller. Wyman’s most disturbing revelation (originally published in Commentary magazine) was that in the summer of 1944 U.S. war planes were flying over Auschwitz on their way to attacking German oil refineries farther north. The bombers could have dropped some of their payload on the death factories then operating on overtime, or on the rail lines leading to the camp—a proposal advocated by a wide array of Jewish leaders in the United States and Palestine. But the anguished pleas for action were rejected out of hand by the administration. According to an official War Department memo, a military mission against Auschwitz would have resulted in diverting resources “essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere.”
The Girl Who Took On the British Empire
On May 8, 1945, when the war ended in Europe, 19-year-old Esther Cailingold and her younger brother Asher danced the night away in London’s Trafalgar Square. “We youngsters had never felt so happy,” he said. “But when we got home in the early hours our father greeted us with a doom-laden warning that dark times were ahead for the Jews. We didn’t understand what he meant, but the reality was soon to catch up with us.” Three years later, Esther lay dead in Jerusalem’s Old City, after a battle that Reuters reported was reminiscent of Stalingrad.

The Cailingold siblings grew up in a closed Orthodox society in an atmosphere that Asher, 89, said “retained the feel of Eastern Europe.” But this was still “London—the heart of the British Empire on which the sun never set,” he recalled. “When our teachers pointed to the pink shaded masses on the map of the world our little chests puffed out in pride.” But in the months following the end of hostilities, Asher watched as his sister was transformed from “a prim trainee schoolteacher into a frontline fighter who traveled alone to a strange land and changed into someone we never knew.”

Along with millions of British cinema goers, the siblings spent the summer of 1945 watching newsreel images of emaciated Holocaust survivors and skeletal corpses. It had an enormous impact on Esther. “We were both members of the religious Zionist movement, Bahad, now Bnei Akiva, and when they asked for volunteers to go to Germany to work with the survivors Esther was determined to join them, but our father refused to let her go,” Asher recalled. Then one day in August 1945, she “stomped out of the house” without telling the family where she was going.

Days later, when 300 child Holocaust survivors who had endured slave labor, concentration camps, and death marches stepped out of RAF bombers at an airport near Carlisle in the north of England, Esther Cailingold was waiting to greet them.

The children, mostly teenage boys, were brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia by the Central British Fund, now World Jewish Relief. Their story is retold in a major docudrama for BBC and Germany’s ZDF, The Windermere Children, to be broadcast later this month as part of the U.K.’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the end of the Holocaust. It is being sold as a redemptive feel good story of British generosity, but it fails to tell the whole story. It is a tale that will not mention 22-year-old Esther and how meeting child Holocaust survivors in England’s Lake District turned her into a radical Zionist with a gun in her hand.
The Baghdad bombings, 1950 -51: Whodunnit?
It is a staple of Arab propaganda that the Zionists caused the exodus of Jews from Iraq by setting off bombs in Baghdad to scare the Jews into leaving in 1950 -51.

Iraqi Jews themselves lent credibility to the rumour. Arriving as refugees in the transit camps, they vented their disappointment and frustration by blaming Israel.

The myth received a new lease of life when emeritus Oxford professor Avi Shlaim announced at a conference in September 2019, Jews of Iraq: Engagement with Modernities, that he had written a book ascribing guilt for the bombings to the Zionist underground.

At that same conference, David Kheder Basson, an Iraqi-born academic and writer living in Israel, challenged Avi Shlaim. He produced evidence that showed the involvement of the nationalist Istiqal party in planning the bombings.

Basson's graph below, called 'Busting the Myth', shows that 90,000 Jews had already registered to leave two weeks before the only fatal bombing, in January 1951 (second 'explosion' from left), had taken place. Three bombs were planted after the deadline for emigration had expired, and are therefore not relevant.
Yad Vashem: The BDS Movement
Dr. Dave Rich and Dr. Einat Wilf discuss the BDS movement, its goals and its activity.

Google and Facebook shadow banning pro-Israel voices
I first noticed it last year, and it was discouraging, to say the least.

Google was not picking up my posts.

Searching for keywords I use, searching for exact titles and phrases I used, still nothing.

My blogger settings were fine. That wasn't it.

Google picked up the Campus Watch reprint of my story on Hatem Bazian's failed feta boycott, but not my original, here.

Searching for the exact key words of the post Hatem Bazian's BDS feta fail at Trader Joes yields no results for this blog.
Shadow banning is real.

There was no warning. There was no appeal. There was no statement on how to fix this.

Clarification of the StandWithUs book list that was printed in The Forward
This weeks edition of the Forward includes a reading list attributed to me and StandWithUs. We sent the list in response to a specific question: "What books should Jared Kushner read to help create a peace plan?"

The list that was printed was meant to offer readers an opportunity to learn about history, the Jewish connection to our ancestral home, the conflict and peace process, Israel's peace offers and rejectionism by Arab leaders, and other related topics.

The list was also meant to offer those who are more knowledgeable (like senior officials focused on the Middle East) a list of books from Palestinian and anti-Zionist/anti-Israel/Islamist perspectives in the region. These books include false and misleading claims about Israel, as well as rhetoric that promotes hatred towards the Jewish state and Jewish people.

Fighting such misinformation and hate is at the core of our mission at StandWithUs. Nevertheless, this material is important to read for anyone seeking to fully understand and properly discuss the conflict in the region. Unfortunately, the explanation and context for the different kinds of books (historical, pro-Israel, anti-Israel, etc) was not given along with the list.

What follows is an explanation of the reading list that was printed in the Forward, including one additional recommendation:
Guardian calls Israel an “authoritarian” state
An official editorial in the Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) on Brexit, “The Observer view on leaving the European Union”, Feb. 2, included the following paragraph:
In the coming months, Britain will have to pick a careful path in the shadow of an increasingly for-or-against-us president. US bullying over the Huawei “security risk” and digital taxes on the technology giants is a sure sign of things to come. The other big challenge concerns Britain’s future dealings with China and other authoritarian regimes such as Russia, Brazil, Israel, Turkey and some of the Gulf states.

By what credible metric can Israel – which is nearing its third democratic election in less than a year – possibly be described as “authoritarian”? Whilst there is no doubt that most of the other countries mentioned (China, Russia, Turkey, etc.) would fall under this category, Israel is consistently categorized as “free” and “democratic” by the reputable international human rights organisation, Freedom House. Freedom House writes that “Israel is a multiparty democracy with strong and independent institutions that guarantee political rights and civil liberties for most of the population”.

By contrast, the other countries we mentioned are indeed listed as “not free” by Freedom House.

Additionally, the Economist’s annual democracy index rates Israel as “democratic” and in fact gives the state a democracy rating higher than even some Western European states, as we noted in this tweet from last month:

RJC Withdraws Support From Republicans Who Voted Against Never Again Education Act
The Republican Jewish Coalition will withdraw its support for the four Republicans who voted against the Never Again Education Act, reported Jewish Insider on Friday.

Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Tom Rice (R-SC) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) voted against the bill on Monday that would expand the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s education programming to teachers nationwide, requiring the museum to develop and disseminate resources to improve awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons.

In explaining his vote, Norman told JNS:
Let there be no doubt about my record on fighting antisemitism: I am a member of three separate caucuses opposing antisemitism and a cosponsor of many more bills and letters that combat BDS, support the state of Israel, and raise awareness of the increase in violence and vitriol against Jewish people at home and abroad.

My vote on H.R. 943 was not motivated by my views on antisemitism, but about my views on the role of the federal government and its lack of fiscal restraint.

It is my view, that education is a devolved power reserved for the States under the Constitution.

This principle would not be much of a principle at all if I were to only apply it to the things that I do not agree with. So although I wholeheartedly agree with the need and appropriateness of teaching future generations about the horrors of the holocaust, I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to demand it.
German Town Uprooted Five Jewish Memorial Cobblestones
The town of Plettenberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on Saturday admitted that five Jewish Stolperstein (stumbling blocks) – the brass, name-engraved bronze cubes embedded in the pavement outside the homes of victims of Nazism, mostly Jewish homes, Deutsche Welle reported.

Apparently, the small, Jewish memorial stones disappeared after contractors had dug up the pavement at Alte Markt 3, which used to be the home of the Heilbronn family. In 1942, Helene and Alex Heilbronn were murdered at Treblinka, and their children, Egon, Jenni and Hannelore in the city of Zamość, Poland.

News of the stones’ disappearance was announced this week by a local historical association, whose members spoke to a local portal of the Märkische Zeitung newspaper in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The news came out after Mayor Ulrich Schulte had taken part last Monday in a remembrance event for Holocaust victims at Plettenberg’s Jewish cemetery.

Mayor Schulte said the loss was “very annoying.” Plettenberg’s building director Sebastian Jülich said the contractor who destroyed the little memorials had been fined €280 ($310) for each replacement stumbling block – which are yet to be installed anew.

“The most important thing is that stones are replaced in the pavement,” said Mayor Schulte.
Chinese envoy sorry after equating virus travel ban to Holocaust
China’s acting ambassador to Israel apologized on Sunday after comparing the closure of several national borders to Chinese citizens amid fears of a new virus from China to the turning away of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

Dai Yuming told reporters at a English-language press conference in Tel Aviv that the "errors to limit or even ban entries of Chinese citizens" reminded him of "the old days, the old stories that happened in World War Two, the Holocaust, the darkest days in human history."

"Millions of Jewish were killed, and many, many Jewish were refused when they tried to seek assistance from other countries. Only very, very few countries opened their door, and among them is China," Dai said.

The Chinese Embassy in Israel later issued a statement saying "there was no intention whatsoever to compare the dark days of the Holocaust with the current situation and the efforts taken by the Israeli government to protect its citizens."

"We would like to apologize if someone understood our message the wrong way," the embassy said.
Tlaib Disappointed to Learn Lizzo Not Saying ‘Blame it on the Jews’ (satire)
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib has demanded that the iTunes store refund her purchase of Lizzo’s new hit single “Juice” after the congresswoman discovered the singer is not saying “Blame it on the Jews.”

Tlaib said she heard the popular song on the radio and rushed to purchase the single due to what she believed was its powerful message.

“I thought that I had stumbled upon more than a catchy tune. This was my entire political platform set to music,” Tlaib said.

But upon a closer listening, Tlaib realized that Lizzo was in fact telling listeners to blame it on her “juice” and not the Jews.

“She came so close to speaking the truth,” a disappointed Tlaib told The Mideast Beast. “I guess in the end, the Zionists got to her, too.”
Israel cycling team to pilot tech of 8 startups in race for better results
Israel’s first professional cycling team to take part in the sport’s World Tour met recently with eight local startups to test out their technologies and see if they could help the athletes get better results in the Tour de France and other races.

The use of their tech will also help the startups put their products into the global sports, nutrition, health and wellness spotlight, Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), a nonprofit organization that matches startups to industries, said in a statement.

The startups were selected by SNC, which sorted through a list of over 6,500 active Israeli startups to find the eight “most relevant solutions” tailored to the cycling team’s needs, after meeting with the team’s managers.

The technologies on offer included solutions for better race preparation, real-time and remote physiology monitoring, training load, injury forecasting, sleep quality, nutritional balance, performance monitoring and maximization, and even monitoring the cyclists’ state of mind.
A Hemp Clothing Line Created By Jewish and Druze Designers in Israel

J.Lo uses Israeli group’s version of 'Let’s Get Loud' at the Super Bowl
When Jennifer Lopez rocked the Super Bowl halftime show, she proved she was still Jenny from the Block when she used an arrangement by the Israeli social-musical initiative Koolulam.

Representatives for Lopez contacted Koolulam, according to Michal Shahaf, one of the project’s founders, and said that, “She had heard our video of ‘Let’s Get Loud’ and liked it and connected to it and would like to use part of [our arrangement] in her Super Bowl performance.”

The video Lopez saw was of an event for the NGO One in Nine, which promotes breast cancer awareness and advances in research.
“For us, it’s sensational,” said Shahaf, adding, “Our goal is to reach as many people as possible from all over the world. . . .For her to pick our arrangement for a performance before such a huge audience is an amazing recognition and a big hug for us.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers announce June show in Tel Aviv
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are coming back to town on June 10, playing in Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua.

Tickets go on sale Monday, February 3, at 4 p.m.

The rock band was last in Israel in 2012, when tens of thousands of people attended its concert in Yarkon Park.

This time, the band will include guitarist John Frusicante, who is returning to the band for a second time. Frusicante will replace Josh Klinghoffer, who has been with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a decade.

The band is on a European tour this year.

Known for being one of the first bands to mix alternative rock with punk, funk, heavy metal and guitar solos, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be part of the Funkyard Festival, a new event hosted by Live Nation along with Shuki Weiss.

Always Sunny's Charlie Day meets Gal Gadot in Tide Super Bowl commercial
Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day and Israeli superstar Gal Gadot were featured together in a Super Bowl Tide commercial Sunday.

The advertising theme of the night was a red sauce stain on Charlie's white button-up shirt, which was besmirched in the first commercial by the wing-sauced hands of a female friend of the Always Sunny co-star (Emily Hampshire) while attending a Super Bowl party. Hampshire within the fiasco declares that "later" is the best time to do laundry. But when is later?! Charlie would like to know.

Throughout the five commercials, Charlie searches for the right time to wash his blemished shirt - going on a journey through time along the way. Gadot jumped into one of the commercials, quite literally, as Wonder Woman promoting Tide and her upcoming movie all-within a 15-second Sunday advertisement.

Hollywood Icon Jon Voight Voices Support for Netanyahu in Upcoming Election, Endorses New Middle East Peace Plan
Hollywood legend and longtime pro-Israel activist Jon Voight voiced support on Sunday for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the country’s general elections next month. He also cautiously endorsed the newly-unveiled United States plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In exclusive comments to The Algemeiner, Voight called it the first such proposed deal “with feet on the ground.”

He added, “It’s the first one that’s taken a responsible approach. Much truth has been spoken in it and we have to accept the truth before we can make amends, and much harm has been done to Israel over the years. Many lies have been put in place and attacks have taken their toll. Much blood has been spilled.”

The deal was announced by US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Netanyahu at the White House last week. The plan envisions a demilitarized Palestinian state in much of the West Bank while preserving Israeli security control over the Jordan Valley and other strategic areas.

In endorsing Netanyahu in the upcoming election, the third in a twelve-month period, Voight said, “We send our prayers and we want people to know that Prime Minister Netanyahu loves his country as much as the people do. He will continue to protect Israel and the people of this Holy Land, for this is where Moses left his ring, his love for the people of Israel.”

“So let us stand with Netanyahu as we have with the president of the US, President Trump,” he declared, “for these men are men of honor, men of truth and men for the people of their countries. We ask all to see this truth. We ask all to open their hearts, and we say God bless all.”
Revealed: In First Temple era, another massive temple was in use near Jerusalem
Solomon’s Temple on the Jerusalem Temple Mount was likely not the only site of centralized worship in the Holy Land region of Judah, according to research newly published in the Biblical Archaeology Review by a team of archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A massive Iron Age II temple complex, which stood from around 900 BCE until circa the early sixth century BCE, is currently being excavated at Tel Motza, just seven kilometers (four miles) northwest of ancient Jerusalem’s City of David. First discovered in 2012, the Motza temple is contemporaneous with the First Temple in Jerusalem and uses the same architectural plan.

It would have been about two-thirds the size of the First Temple and was likely built by similar builders who came to the region from Syria in the north, as described in the Bible, the IAA’s Shua Kisilevitz told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Due to Motza’s proximity to the First Temple in Jerusalem, the excavation’s principal researchers, Kisilevitz and Prof. Oded Lipschits of TAU’s Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology, hypothesize that this separate cultic site would have been approved by the administration of the Jerusalem “main branch.”

“You could not have built a major monumental temple so close to Jerusalem without it being sanctioned by the ruling polity,” said Kisilevitz. The fact that the temple at Motza functioned in parallel with the larger Jerusalem site means that it was “probably under the auspices of Jerusalem,” she said, which is a really different way of conceiving of religious practices during the era of the legendary United Monarchy and beyond.

Kisilevitz said that while the entire perimeter of Motza’s cultic structure has yet to be uncovered, the excavations have so far yielded every indication of a parallel worship center.

“It’s almost like a checklist for what we’d expect to find — though of course we would like to see more — but it’s more than what has been found so far in the region,” Kisilevitz said.

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