Saturday, February 15, 2020

From Ian:

Seth Mandel: The Rot Inside American Jewish Organizations
What’s happening here is more than a skirmish over a peace plan, or a distressing glimpse into the way American Jewry’s leaders privilege their partisan leanings over the fact that their leadership roles in American society are due to their Judaism and not their Democratic Party membership. What we are seeing is the way American Jewish leaders fail to take seriously the rising tide of anti-Semitism that masquerades as “anti-Zionism”—and even the way progressive groups enable it. Attacking an American plan for its pro-Israel lean is nonsensical for those who should, by the very nature of who they are and what they do, want the United States to have a pro-Israel lean.

There is no future for Jewry without a strong and surviving Israel. Indeed, for the modern Diaspora, no idea has more successfully preserved the notion of an egalitarian Jewish peoplehood—one that crosses languages and religious boundaries—than Zionism. Long before the reestablishment of the State of Israel, Zionists were the Jews dedicated to arguing compellingly for a coherent Jewish identity and thus for Jews as a minority deserving of the rights and recognition afforded others. If American Judaism is to have a chance at survival, it must first realize that that is what it is fighting for.

What does it look like when a national Jewish community understands what’s at stake? The United Kingdom offers a good example. Heading into the December elections, the Labour Party was (and is, for the moment) led by Jeremy Corbyn. He attempted to pass off his admiration for terrorists and his party’s harassment of Jewish politicians and Jewish voters as “anti-Zionism”—as though that were a good thing—but he still ended up proving that the word “Zionist” is just a stand-in for “Jew” in leftist discourse. He claimed that “Zionists,” even those who have lived their whole lives in Britain, “don’t understand English irony.” The Jew, to leftists like Corbyn, will forever be an outsider.

A full 87 percent of UK Jews denounced Corbyn as an anti-Semite. “What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?” Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote in late November in the London Times. “This anxiety is understandable and justified.” Jewish Labour groups fought to expose their own party’s bigotry, even as whistleblowers faced retaliation. Jews abandoned Labour. In the event, Labour lost the election in a historic landslide.

Such communal solidarity has become distressingly unthinkable in the United States. Consider the story of the anti-Semitic crime spree in New York. For nearly a year, the steady low-level harassment of visible Jews in the Big Apple spiraled deliberately into an open-ended, slow-rolling pogrom outside the city—a broad-daylight massacre at a Jersey City kosher market followed by a Manhattan man driving 30 miles to the Haredi town of Monsey, where he stormed into a rabbi’s house with a machete and hacked away at stunned victims.

The media ignored the violence until there was blood in the streets; the organized Jewish world reacted like a deer in the headlights; non-Orthodox rabbis sneered at the Haredi community as it absorbed daily assaults; Jewish intellectuals pretended nothing was happening. Well into the Brooklyn violence, anti-Semitism chronicler Liam Hoare insisted that “despite the endless handwringing about anti-Semitism on the left, it is far-right extremism which constitutes the paramount threat to American Jewish life today.” It was a line the Anti-Defamation League had been pushing hard as well. But the renewed violence in the New York area wasn’t coming from white nationalists or alt-right posers. Many of the attacks caught on tape featured African-American suspects in outer-borough neighborhoods where religious Jews were framed as land-grabbing outsiders, with some residents telling interviewers they viewed Israel as the point of origin for these Jews. In Jersey City, the shooters were reportedly Black Hebrew Israelites, a kind of extreme black nationalist group, apparently motivated by a conspiracy theory that Jews pull the strings of the police to kill black people—a calumny that took original form as a claim that Israel was training U.S. cops to persecute minorities. “Israel” very quickly becomes “Jews.”
Melanie Phillips: Denying their parent and embracing their assassin
Christians are arguably the most committed supporters of Israel in the world. At the same time, different kinds of Christians are among the Jews’ worst enemies.

In America, the ones who defend Israel so passionately are (mostly) the “red state” evangelicals. It is these people in their millions, not the so-called and vastly over-hyped Jewish lobby, who make America so pro-Israel.

Many American Jews, however, believe these Christians are antisemites. This is because some want to convert the Jews to Christianity and believe that this will happen at the “end of days.”

None of that, though, poses a serious danger to Jewish interests. A far greater threat is posed by those Christians who appear more reasonable because they sound like secular liberals.

Next month, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is due to elect a new general secretary. One of the two candidates is Dr. Jerry Pillay, a member of South Africa’s United Presbyterian Church who has urged support for the BDS movement against Israel “for the sake of just peace.”

The WCC has played a key role in turning much of the world against Israel. Through its “liberation theology,” it has for decades infused liberal churches with neo-Marxist, anti-capitalist, anti-west attitudes — thus placing a virtual halo over the antisemitism of the left.

In Britain, the Church of England and other liberal denominations are institutionally hostile to Israel. Such churches, along with immensely influential Christian NGOs such as Christian Aid, Christ at the Checkpoint or KAIROS, disseminate boiler-plate distortions and falsehoods that demonize Israel and sanitize Palestinian-Arab aggression.

In the United States, a number of churches — most notably the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA — have passed BDS resolutions against Israel.

According to Dexter Van Zile, the Christian analyst with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the “Never Again” coalition of liberal Protestant denominations created after the Holocaust has attacked the primary victims of the Holocaust with a flood of dishonest propaganda.

Its message, he has written, is that “Israeli Jews abuse the rights accorded to them as a sovereign people in the Middle East,” and that “by exercising undue influence in the democracies where they live, Diaspora Jews help Israel get away with its crimes.”

“It’s a ‘cleaner’ version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” says Van Zile, “but the implications are just as demonic.”

Palestinians outraged by ‘peace’ meeting with Israelis in Tel Aviv
Palestinian factions have condemned the participation of Palestinian figures in a meeting organized by The Israeli Peace Parliament, a public unaffiliated forum whose members are former representatives of a variety of political parties and movements, including former ministers and members of the Knesset.

Friday’s meeting in Tel Aviv was held under the banner “Yes to Peace,” “No to Annexation,” and “Two States for Two People.”

Twenty Palestinians participated in the meeting. Among them: Bassem Khoury, a former Palestinian Authority Minister of Economy, Fathi Abu Mughlieh, a former PA Minister of Health, Sameeh al-Abed, a former PA minister of Health, Hussein al-A’raj, a former PA Minister of Local Governance, and Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs.

The Israeli delegation was represented by former Labor MK and minister Ophir Paz-Penis, Avraham Burg, former Knesset Speaker and Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Shlomo Ben Ami, former Foreign Minister and Minister of Internal, former Labor MK Colette Avital, as well as several former MKs from Meretz.

Denouncing the gathering, Hamas said it was a “blow to all Palestinian positions rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the meeting was also a form of “normalization” with Israel that is rejected by all Palestinians. “These meetings encourage some parties in the region to normalize their relations with the Zionist entity,” Qassem said. “They also weaken the movement of solidarity with our Palestinian people.” He also criticized the PA for allowing such meetings with Israelis despite its leaders’ threats to cut all ties with Israel.
Palestinian uni. apologizes for map that includes only West Bank and Gaza
Al-Quds Open University (QOU), a Palestinian independent public university, on Saturday apologized for publishing a “Map of “Palestine” that includes only the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The apology came after Palestinians expressed outrage with the university for publishing a map they claimed was similar to the one proposed by US President Donald Trump in his recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace. Several Palestinians accused the university of accepting the Trump plan, “Peace to Prosperity.”

Palestinians often publish maps that show there is only one state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River: “Palestine.”

Many Palestinians said they did not believe that the new map was published by mistake. “If the university administration made such a mistake, all its heads should go home,” said Facebook user Ishak Froukh.

Another Facebook user, Sana Hmamreh, said she too did not believe that the map was published by mistake. “This map coincided with the publication of the Deal of the Century,” she commented, referring to Trump’s plan.

Other social media users sarcastically suggested that the university change its name to “Deal of the Century University” and said it does not deserve to be called after Jerusalem (Al-Quds).
Globe and Mail Publishes Misleading Photo of Palestinian Propaganda Maps
In the February 8 print edition of the Globe and Mail, the following photograph was published displaying a Palestinian girl holding several highly misleadingly maps used by Palestinian propagandists to falsely portray all of what is now Israel as being under Palestinian sovereign control prior to 1947, describing the region as “Historic Palestine”.

This image was appended to a commentary by Yossi Klein-Halevi entitled: “Israelis and Palestinians need a reality check on the peace process”.

Juxtaposed to this map was another map supposedly depicting present-day Israel and the Palestinian territories showing an increasingly diminished Palestinian land loss over the last nine decades. In truth, no Palestinian government has ever held control of any territory in the region until the Oslo Accords in the 1990’s, nor has there ever been a State of Palestine.

A more accurate map would connote the following:

'Fuels anti-Semitism': Bolton blasts UN for 'blacklist' of Israeli companies
Former national security adviser John Bolton slammed the United Nations after the international organization released a database of companies that do business with Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

"The U.N.'s release of a 'blacklist' with companies that do business in West Bank is outrageous," Bolton said Friday morning on Twitter. "It's a huge surrender to the anti-Israel boycott movement and fuels anti-Semitism inside the U.N. We must condemn all efforts to isolate Israel."

The so-called "blacklist," denounced by Israel but welcomed by Palestinian leaders, was created after the U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution in 2016 ordering its formation. The list includes mostly Israeli companies.

Michelle Bachelet, the head of the council, admitted the decision to publish the list was "highly contentious."

"I am conscious this issue has been and will continue to be highly contentious," she said in a statement. "However, after an extensive and meticulous review process, we are satisfied that this fact-based report reflects the serious consideration that has been given to this unprecedented and highly complex mandate."

"Boycotting Israeli companies does not advance the cause of peace and does not build confidence between the sides," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. "We call on our friends around the world to speak out against this shameful initiative, which recalls dark periods in our history."

In 2016, President Barack Obama allowed the U.N. to condemn Israel for its settlements in disputed Palestinian territory. The United States did not vote for the resolution but allowed it to pass the U.N. Security Council by abstaining from voting.
Germany, Hungary tell ICC they support Israeli position against war crimes probe
Germany and Hungary on Friday backed Israel’s position at the International Criminal Court, which is currently weighing whether to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank.

Like the Czech Republic on Thursday, Berlin submitted a request to become an amicus curiae — a “friend of the court” who is not a party to the case but wants to offer its views.

Hungary also submitted an application, diplomatic officials told The Times of Israel, citing the same rational.

The deadline for states to submit legal opinions expires Friday.

All three countries were expected to submit written legal opinion positing that The Hague does not have jurisdiction to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Austria, which in recent years has become closer to the Jewish state, is also expected to file an application.

In its filing, Germany noted it was “a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court and its organs, and a leader of the fight against impunity.” It also noted that it has long been a proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But, it argued, “The scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction pursuant to Article 12 of the Rome Statute does not extend to the occupied Palestinian territories. Article 12 of the Rome Statute presupposes that there is a “State” that has the ability under international law to delegate territorial jurisdiction to the Court with respect to the relevant cases.
Czech FM asks to submit legal opinion to The Hague arguing in Israel’s favor
The Czech Republic on Thursday applied to submit a written legal opinion to the International Criminal Court, in which it would argue that The Hague does not have jurisdiction to launch an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek filed the request to become an amicus curiae — a “friend of the court” who is not a party to the case but wants to offer its views — one day before the deadline for states to submit legal opinions expires on February 14.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Thursday declined to comment on the matter. But diplomatic officials told Haaretz that they welcomed Prague’s move, which Jerusalem had encouraged.

The Czech Republic has long been considered one of Israel’s closest friends in Europe.

Two Gaza rockets strike south despite reports of ceasefire; no injuries
Palestinian terrorists fired at least two rockets at southern Israel on Saturday night, apparently hitting open fields, despite recent reports from both sides of the border of a ceasefire agreement, the military said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The rockets appeared to strike outside the community of Kibbutz Kissufim, just east of the Gaza border, in the Eshkol region. Residents of the area reported hearing the sound of an explosion.

Security forces began searching the area for the impact sites, an Eshkol spokesperson said.

The attack came less than an hour after Defense Minister Naftali Bennett boasted in an interview on Channel 12 news that rocket fire from the Gaza Strip had decreased dramatically under his four-month tenure as defense minister.

“From the three months before to the three months after I entered [the position of defense minister], the number of rockets dropped by 80 percent, and the riots on the border stopped completely,” Bennett said.

“We are blowing up Hamas bases because of balloon launches, something we never did before,” he said. The Israel Defense Forces had, in fact, conducted airstrikes on Hamas positions in response to these airborne explosives attacks multiple times under previous defense ministers.

The rocket fire also came amid reports of an emerging ceasefire between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, following weeks of tensions and low-level clashes around the border, with regular rocket attacks and the daily launching of balloon-borne explosive devices into the country’s south.
Defense official: Hamas agreed to halt rockets, balloons; Israel ends sanctions
Israel and the Hamas terror group appeared to reach a ceasefire agreement on Thursday night, following weeks of tension and unrest along the Gaza border.

An Israeli defense official told reporters that Hamas had “sent messages to Israel that they’d decided unilaterally to stop launching balloons and rocket fire at Israel.”

In exchange, Israel would end the retaliatory sanctions it put in place against Palestinians in the Strip, specifically the revocation of some 500 permits allowing businessmen out of Gaza and a restriction of the fishing zone to 10 nautical miles from the usual 15.

The past several weeks have seen a return of balloon-borne explosives from Gaza into Israel, with dozens of such devices being launched each day in some cases, as well as rocket and mortar fire from the Strip.

“Tonight and the coming weekend will serve as a test of stability,” the Israeli defense official said in a statement.

The apparent breakthrough came after the Egyptian military and United Nations intervened this week, sending in delegations on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, according to Palestinian reports.

The Lebanese pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources in Palestinian terror groups, that the Egyptian delegation had conveyed a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hamas in which he demanded “a return to calm.”
Hamas official warns will reduce, not stop, balloon-borne bombs — report
A Hamas official told a Lebanese newspaper on Saturday that the terror group has decided to reduce the number of incendiary balloons launched toward Israel, but not stop them entirely.

The Lebanese pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper, citing an unnamed Hamas official, said that the number of launches would be reduced after Israel met the group’s demands.

The report came after an Israeli defense official told reporters Thursday that Hamas had “sent messages to Israel that they’d decided unilaterally to stop launching balloons and rocket fire at Israel.”

The southern area has seen weeks of tension and unrest along the Gaza border, with dozens of explosive and incendiary devices being launched each day in some cases, as well as rocket and mortar fire from the Strip.

In exchange for the cessation of such attacks, the official said, Israel would end the retaliatory sanctions it put in place against Palestinians in the Strip, specifically the revocation of some 500 permits allowing businessmen out of Gaza and a restriction of the fishing zone to 10 nautical miles from the usual 15.

“Tonight and the coming weekend will serve as a test of stability,” the defense official said in a statement.

Iran's Zarif: We were close to war with US after Soleimani assassination
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the US and Iran “were very close to a war” in an interview with NBC on Friday on the sidelines of the 2020 Munich Security Conference.

He explained that he thinks US President Donald Trump “was misled to believe that the United States would get away” with assassinating IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

“It worked the other way around,” Zarif claimed. “It was the beginning of the end of the US in the region and we were very close to a war, because the United States initiated an act of aggression against Iran in a very, excuse the language, cowardly way.”

He claimed that the reason the US “hit him in the dark of the night through a drone attack on a car carrying him on a peace mission” is because the US “couldn’t confront Soleimani in the battlefield.”

This is “beneath any dignified way of dealing with this,” he said.

“It came very close to war,” he insisted. “Iran responded in a proportionate way against the base from which the operations against Soleimani were carried out. We wanted to show to the United States that they cannot bully Iran. That actions against Iran will have repercussions.”
Zarif further claimed that the US is currently suffering, the Trump Administration in particular, “from misperceptions, misinformation about Iran.”

“It is important for President Trump to listen to advisers who have better knowledge of our region rather than novices who know nothing about our region,” he said.
Hezbollah Leader Wishes He Would Have Died Instead of Soleimani
Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iran-backed Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah, lamented on Iranian television on Thursday that he could not trade his life for that of Major General Qasem Soleimani, eliminated in a U.S. airstrike in January.

Soleimani was considered Iran’s most prominent and dangerous terrorist leader at the time of his death. President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike on his convoy in Baghdad, where he was believed to be organizing imminent attacks on U.S. forces. The weekend before his death, a mob of pro-Iranian militants attempted a failed storming of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and named Soleimani as their leader.

As head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, Soleimani was believed to be the leader managing Iran’s international terrorism strategy, leaving a significant gap in Iran’s foreign terrorism policy. American analysts have credited him with spearheading efforts to use roadside bombs in Iraq to kill and dismember American soldiers; he and forces he commanded are believed to be responsible for hundreds of American deaths.

On Thursday night, in an interview that was part of a larger coverage of the 40th day since Soleimani’s death, Nasrallah dramatically offered his soul to the grim reaper in a hypothetical conversation with the spiritual force.

According to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, Nasrallah appeared on the verge of tears discussing Soleimani, calling him the “master of Axis of Resistance’s martyrs.” The “axis of resistance” is the global coalition of nations against the United States and the human rights ideals typical in the West.

Nasrallah said in the interview that he had imagined the possibility of trading his life to God for Soleimani’s.
Trudeau demands from Iran independent probe into downed airliner
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had "impressed upon" Iran's foreign minister on Friday that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January had to be carried out.

"The promise I made to Canadians was to find answers for them and ensure that Iran leads a full investigation with the international community ... and holds to account the people responsible for this and that is my focus," Trudeau told reporters after meeting Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier on Friday.

Iran has rejected Trudeau's call to send the "black box" flight recorders from the plane abroad to be decoded. Trudeau said he had repeated that demand on Friday.

Many of the 176 who perished in the disaster were Iranians with dual citizenship, which is not recognised by Iran. Canada had 57 citizens on board.

Zarif said on Feb. 11 that Canada's complaint about the plane that was mistakenly shot down by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in January had no legal basis.

The Decline of Elizabeth Warren Bodes Well for Israel’s Standing in the Democratic Party
Here is a third reality, equally entrenched: there is no American ally whose bona fides are so consistently under fire than Israel’s. (Not, for example, Turkey which absorbs more American cash than Israel and is in continuous war with the Kurds.) By ostensibly reasonable, empirical folks, no less, and folks who purport to be friends, but who, as Aiden Pink has written in the Tower, and Tony Badran in Tablet, consistently put Israelis (and Palestinians, in fact) in the position of being pawns in an international schema of “peace” that has almost nothing to do with conditions on the ground … namely the institutional implausibility of the PLO and the material security consequences to Israel of ceding the PLO as it’s now established its own state to run. As Pink writes, “the sooner American Jews become less obsessed over what Israel could be, and accept it for what it is — the culmination of a dream shared in the abstract but contentious when it comes to specifics; an imperfect state, but a sovereign state nonetheless; a state that will accept help when it needs it, but has long since earned the right to make its own choices in pursuit of prosperity, peace and security — the sooner this happens, the sooner we can focus on meeting our own existential challenges.”

Do either of the Democratic front-runners have the empirical chops and the intellectual honesty to face up to these facts? Bernie doesn’t have empirical chops, and he doesn’t pretend to; he’s an ideologue, for better or worse. What about Mayor Pete?

I’m not sure. I can only share, in the welter that is the debate about the Indiana Mayor — too much a Boy Scout? Too much a technocrat? A military moderate from the Midwest? A fixer-of-potholes who can fix America? — my own fleeting impression from last year. I was with friends at the Hamptons mid-August and they were going to a Pete Buttigieg fund-raiser. They shamed me into going … at the price of $1,800. (That shows you how not smart I am.) Buttigieg spoke for about half an hour, no surprises. A lot of jokes about Trump, some funny, some not. He speaks without stumbling and without grammatical mistakes; and, unlike Warren who is almost grammatically perfect, he didn’t weigh down his recitation with numbers. And then Pete’s fluid and fluent speech was over. A long flank from the audience adored him for another half hour, part of a line which I joined. Eventually I came up at bat, to ask my question, or rather to make my points, about Israel.

I assumed he was likely to recognize my name from Harvard (I was a popular teacher), from The New Republic (which was a popular journal for independent liberal intellectuals, though not any more). I’m not sure whether he did or didn’t. I know that he listened without seeming to hear, and responded without seeming to address the content of what I’d said. A politician’s handicap at the end of a long day? Sure. But it’s stayed with me, if only because it increasingly taps into a bigger impression, an initially inchoate but now more definite one. Mayor Pete—gay, solid, military, apparently pragmatic — makes his listeners feel good to be listening to him. But when all is said and done, there’s not much content behind his words that isn’t a pre-approved Democratic talking point. He’s not Bernie, to be sure. But he’s a progressive — not a Liberal — institutionalist, and, when push comes to shove, he’ll go with the flow. And the flow right now among the Democrats — Bibi or no Bibi, Gantz or no Gantz — is not toward an appreciation of Israeli realities.

But there is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota who made a stunning showing in New Hampshire, certainly in amassing about as many votes as Joe Biden and haughty Elizabeth Warren. And there is Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who might just be the single most financial success of his generation. Both of them are Zionists … even if it’s no longer fashionable to call yourself one. Still, Klobuchar has a voting record in the Senate and, despite having a sizable Arab and Muslim population in her state, she has voted for Israel, spoke for Israel and spoken against terror and its fans. Bloomberg makes no bones about his standing and feelings for Israel. His mother was Massachusetts chair of Hadassah. He has also gone back and forth to Israel, in treacherous times especially. These two are people of the center. We’ll see what we shall see.

Former IDF Officer Speaks to Hundreds of California Students About Israel’s Humanitarian Aid to Syrians
A former Israel Defense Forces officer who led a humanitarian response to the bloody Syrian conflict recently spent a week touring university campuses in California, in a bid to counter misinformation and bolster student support for the Jewish state.

As part of Operation Good Neighbor, Lt. Col. (Res.) Eyal Dror established and led a unit that brought in more than 4,000 wounded Syrians to Israeli hospitals, secured treatment for hundreds of chronically-ill children, oversaw the evacuation of the White Helmets rescue group and delivered basic necessities including food, clothing and diesel fuel to civilians.

The operation ended in 2018 when the Syrian government recaptured territory along the border with Israel in the Golan Heights, and Dror retired this past September after 24 years of service.

He has since dedicated time to educating international audiences on Israel’s humanitarian efforts on behalf of Syrian civilians, along with its security challenges along the northern border.

Former IDF officer Eyal Dror speaking at the University of San Diego on February 4, 2020. Photo: Students Supporting Israel.

Earlier this month, Dror addressed some 250 students at California State Long Beach, University of San Diego, University of California San Diego, University of California Riverside, Foothill College and San Jose State University, as well as at a Chabad for students at the University of California, Berkeley. It was his first speaking tour in the United States, following two stints in the United Kingdom.

Dror said his audience was “definitely” receptive to his message, especially at Berkeley, where the students had a “very hard time that week” following a rancorous student council debate over whether to condemn anti-Zionist students for “glorifying” terrorism.

The anti-Zionist students had displayed photos of a Palestinian hijacker wielding an AK-47 assault rifle, as well as of two Palestinian women who planted bombs targeting Israeli civilians, one of whom managed to kill two university students. (The Berkeley student council ultimately voted not to censor the anti-Zionist group over the display.)
CAMERA Op-Ed: ‘Peace in the Middle East’ Isn’t Open-Heart Surgery
It doesn’t take a heart surgeon to figure out why there isn’t peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The Washington Post, however, seems to think otherwise.

On Jan. 29, 2020, the Post’s Alexandra Petri published a column titled “I have just read 25 books and am here to perform your open-heart surgery.” Petri used satire to mock Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who noted that he read 25 books in preparation for helping oversee the administration’s peace proposal. What is truly laughable, however, is the newspaper’s lack of self-awareness.

For years, The Washington Post has given column space to “experts” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Individuals like Aaron David Miller, Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Martin Indyk, Richard Haas and Rob Malley, among others, are all experienced former U.S. diplomats with decades of experience devoted to “solving” the conflict. All have doctorates in international relations or related fields (Malley also has a Harvard Law degree). All have lectured and published widely on the topic. Several—Miller, Ross, Kurtzer and Indyk—have published books on their experiences.

And all failed at what they set out to do: achieve peace between Israel and Palestinian leaders. That they failed is not, of course, a judgement of their many years of public service. They were merely the latest diplomats whose plans and proposals fell victim to Palestinian intransigence.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has frequently noted, Palestinian leaders have for more than eight decades rejected opportunities for a Palestinian Arab state if it meant living in peace next to a Jewish one.
Leadership of ‘French Oscars’ Resigns Amid Polanski Controversy
The management of the “French Oscars” resigned en masse on Thursday after weeks of controversy centered on director Roman Polanski, whose latest film “An Officer and a Spy” leads nominations ahead of the 2020 awards ceremony.

The resignations come just two weeks before the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, which featured 12 nominations for Polanski’s movie about Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French officer unfairly accused of spying for Germany in the 1890s.

“To honor those who made films in 2019, to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration, the board of directors of the (film academy) made a unanimous decision to resign,” the French film academy said in a statement.

Feminist groups had decried the nominations and called for a boycott of the film. Dozens of film industry personalities — including “X-Men” actor Omar Sy and Berenice Bejo of the 2011 film “The Artist” — had denounced the academy’s “opaqueness” in an open letter.

Polanski launched his new film in France last year just days after a French actress accused him of having raped her in 1975, when she was 18 years old, during a ski holiday in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Polanski, now 86, has denied the accusation.
New documentary featuring Bill Clinton examines anti-Semitism in US, Europe
A new documentary featuring experts on anti-Semitism, as well as former US president Bill Clinton, examines anti-Semitism in the United States and several countries in Europe.

“Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations,” which is set to be released this month, focuses on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-Semitism scandal in his British political party, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s campaign against Jewish liberal financier George Soros and anti-Semitic attacks in France.

Director Andrew Goldberg told Newsweek that he believes anti-Semitism is on the rise because of a polarized political environment that’s amplified by social media.

“I see today’s society becoming more fractured and angrier,” he said. “The eruption of anger is at an all-time high. I don’t think we’d be at the level of anti-Semitism now without Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All these communities give people a sense of alignment with one another.”

The documentary features Brad Orsini, Pittsburgh’s Jewish community security director, who conducted a training for the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha congregation before the shooting took place in October 2018. Along with Clinton, it features Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, conservative columnist George Will and other experts.

Homecoming: Alexandria synagogue hosts Egypt’s largest Jewish prayers in decades
This weekend marks the largest Jewish prayer gathering in Egypt for decades. From across the Diaspora, some 180 Jews of Egyptian origin have flown to the land of their fathers for a Shabbat dedicated to marking the newly restored 14th-century Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria.

The weekend was closed to media and organized in part by the Nebi Daniel Association, an organization that works to preserve Jewish sites in Egypt. Only four or five septuagenarian and octogenarian Jews currently reside in Alexandria, Nebi Daniel Association board member Alec Nacamuli told The Times of Israel. The city used to house 12 synagogues, but most of them were sold over the years to support the Jewish community there, and its infrastructure and institutions, he said.

Once the largest in the Arab world, the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue was recently reopened in a festive gathering of government officials and Egyptian Jews on January 10. In cooperation with the military, Egypt’s antiquities ministry oversaw the 64 million Egyptian pound ($4 million) renovation which lasted over three years after the roof and staircase collapsed in 2016.

In January, Yolande Mizrahi, born and raised in Alexandria and now in her 80s, had one man to thank for the refurbishment. “If it wasn’t for [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] el-Sissi, this would have never been done. A lot of things have changed since he’s taken over,” Mizrahi told AFP.

The Alexandria Jewish community is not alone in getting an unexpected shot in the arm from Sissi. The Cairo Jewish community, once 80,000 strong and with roots going back to antiquity, stands at less than 20 Jews today. It too has benefited from the Egyptian president’s apparent new tolerance and is planning a much-needed cemetery conservation campaign.

‘Fauda’ co-creator plans Season 4, also at work on a Sex-in-the-City type comedy
“Fauda” co-creator Avi Issacharoff announced that a fourth season of the hit Israeli thriller is in the works during an English-subtitled screening of the first two episodes of the show’s latest season at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Wednesday.

The third season, which premiered on YES at the end of December 2019 — but not yet on Netflix — is “going to be even more painful” than the first two, he said.

Following the screening, Issacharoff spoke about the making of the series, its success and his future projects, in an onstage interview with Times of Israel culture editor Jessica Steinberg.

Issacharoff and his co-creator, actor Lior Raz, who plays special agent Doron in the show, are also working on other projects including the drama “Hit and Run,” along with two other American showrunners, and a “Sex in the City”-type comedy based on the writing of New York blogger Sarah Rosen.

It’s fun to work on other kinds of projects, Issacharoff said, adding that his and Raz’s “baby” is still “Fauda.”

“It’s not just an adventure, it’s a kind of baby, and we love this baby,” he said. “‘Fauda’ is still our first baby.”

The third season of “Fauda” brings the undercover Israeli unit to the Gaza Strip, a place where Issacharoff hasn’t been since 2007, when the Israel Defense Forces banned Israeli journalists from entering for safety reasons.

Nikki Haley to be presented with Emet award
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) will present the Emet Award to former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for standing up for human rights and for battling oppressive regimes.
Throughout her term, Haley was critical towards human rights violators, pushing against oppressive regimes in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Russia.

Similarly, Haley promoted closer ties between the United States and its longstanding Western allies, while also fighting the anti-Israel bias at the United Nations. Her role as the US representative to the UN Security Council was especially appreciated following the American decision to move the Embassy to Jerusalem.

CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin was happy about the decision to provide the award to Haley, saying that “in CAMERA’s nearly forty-year history, we have seen few leaders as brave and honorable in speaking the truth as Nikki Haley. Without hesitation, she went into the lion’s den of the United Nations and, day in and day out, told the truth about Israel, the only liberal democratic state in the Middle East. For that, she more than deserves the Emet Award. We feel immense gratitude to her.”

This the 31st year that CAMERA has given the award to exceptional individuals.

Prior years has seen the award given the Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, recognizing his record of service for Israel and articulating the Jewish state's perspective, and in 2018, the Republic of Guatemala received the award on the basis of the country's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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