Sunday, February 23, 2020

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: A secret Mossad Qatar trip, Hamas outreach to Egypt and Iran’s threat
In Saudi Arabia, Al-Arabiya is very interested in what a previously unknown “Mossad trip to Qatar” means for the region. “Egypt and Qatar are angry with Hamas, and they intended to cut ties with it,” the network reported, while noting that the recent Israeli discussions with Doha about continuing to fund Gaza are noteworthy. Hamas also thinks they are noteworthy, bragging over the weekend that it met with Qatar’s envoy Mohammed al-Emadi and $15 million was distributed in Gaza.

In Israel, the Mossad-Qatar-Hamas story was revealed by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman over the weekend and was reported locally. The story goes that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and IDF Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi met with top Qatari officials. Halevi was in the news before, in January, when he commented on the killing of IRGC general Qasem Soleimani. “We must look at the assassination as part of a fight between Iran and the US over Iraq’s character.” Halevi is known for his achievements in a three-year term running Military Intelligence. He has spoken about using deterrence in a way that does not escalate a situation and of the importance of information supremacy over Israel’s enemies, according to an article at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in 2018. This is a key to Israel’s “campaign between the wars” in which Israel must prepare for future struggle with Iran and its allies.

Israel now has a dedicated headquarters for the “third circle” threat of Iran in light of the IDF’s new Momentum plan. It is worth understanding this larger picture to understand some of what Hamas is up to in Gaza. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad both are supported by Iran. PIJ is an Iranian proxy whereas Hamas is more an ally. But Hamas has been isolated over the years and also failed to achieve results in confrontation with Israel. Over 2,600 rockets fired over the last two years achieved little, and its “Great March of Return,” launched in 2018, also failed. In March 2018, two years ago, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza. Today, Hamas is bragging about opposing the US “Deal of the Century.”

It is important to consider the calculus to see the larger picture of Qatar’s role in Gaza. Qatar has supported Gaza for more than a decade. The Emir of Qatar even visited Gaza in 2012. In January 2019, the third $15 million payment via Israel and Hamas to Gaza was made by Qatar as part of a deal in 2018. Mohammed al-Emadi has been Doha’s point man throughout. He has visited Israel more than two dozen times, according to a Reuters interview in 2018. He also cited talks between Israel and Hamas in that year. Qatar has said its aid to Gaza helps prevent a conflict. Emadi has ruffled feathers in Gaza sometimes due to his outspokenness.
Netanyahu promises sovereignty over Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to the Jewish community of Hebron.

He spoke during a visit to the nearby West Bank Kiryat Arba settlement, where he also stated that he was authorizing the elevator project for the tomb, that would allow those with disabilities to visit the cave.

All West Bank settlements are slated to become part of sovereign Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, but according to the map, the status of Jewish Hebron is unclear.

Prior to Netanyahu's speech at a celebratory event to mark the inauguration of a new neighborhood in Kiryat Arba on Sunday, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the Yamina Party, addressed the crowd. Bennett spoke of the need to clarify with the Trump administration that the Tomb and Hebron's Jewish community would be part of sovereign Israel under the "Deal of the Century."

Bennett said that a Jewish state without the Tomb of the Patriarchs is like Washington without the Lincoln Memorial. He also spoke against the portion of the Trump plan that calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The defense minister noted that "the plan speaks 159 times of a Palestinian state and references Israeli sovereignty" only 13 times.

UK left activists attended events with far right antisemites
Former Labour party members have regularly met elements of the far right to discuss and propagate antisemitic conspiracy theories, an undercover investigation has found.

Infiltration of the conspiracy theorist group Keep Talking found that Jeremy Corbyn supporters and confidantes of former Labour MPs have attended meetings addressed by Holocaust deniers.

During one gathering in London last year, suspended Labour supporters heard James Thring, an infamous antisemite linked to the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, speak openly and unchallenged about Holocaust denial.

A covert recording of Thring at the meeting captured him claiming that no deaths were recorded at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, where 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were systematically murdered.

“The archives from the listening posts show no evidence that they heard anything about deaths in Auschwitz; we didn’t know that this was going on … because it wasn’t,” Thring can be heard saying.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, which along with the Jewish charity Community Security Trust monitored Keep Talking over three years, said: “Our investigation shows what the politics of some of the far left and the far right have in common – antisemitism. It’s important that these groups are not just seen as eccentric or harmless; they give conspiracies a space to survive and grow and they encourage people to keep disseminating falsehoods.” (h/t Zvi)

Belgium uninvites anti-Israel NGO with terror ties to UN Security Council
Belgium revoked its invitation to Brad Parker, a senior adviser for policy and advocacy at the NGO Defense for Children International – Palestine, to address the UN Security Council, following a concerted effort by Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to stop the speech from happening.

DCI-P officials have documented ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. The representative originally invited to address the UNSC has a history of anti-Israel activism, which was probed by the City University of New York, where he is a professor.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised Belgium’s decision, highlighting DCI-P’s ties to terrorism, and said that “from his statements, it appears that [Parker’s] intention has to take advantage of the invitation to hurt Israel.”

The canceled speech “is a result of successful diplomatic actions towards Belgium, which should be praised,” Katz said.

Parker told the Agence France-Presse on Friday that Monday’s UNSC meeting on the Middle East will be held behind closed doors, which means he will not be able to speak. The activist said he planned to address “grave violations” by Israel in 2014-2019.

“It is frustrating once again the political context has worked to silence our voice,” Parker told AFP.

In its efforts to prevent Parker from being able to address the UNSC, Israel summoned Brussels’ deputy ambassador to be reprimanded twice for what the Foreign Ministry has called anti-Israel actions from Belgium in the UN Security Council, where it holds the temporary presidency.
Pope cautions against ‘unfair’ Israeli-Palestinian peace offers
Pope Francis has cautioned against “unfair” solutions aimed at ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a speech Sunday during a visit to the Italian southern port city of Bari to reflect on peace in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Francis lamented the many areas of war and conflict, including in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Francis spoke of “the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of not fair solutions, and, thus, presaging new crises.”

The pope didn’t cite any specific proposals.

A new US peace plan would let Israel annex all of its settlements along with the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians rule in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet stringent conditions.
Saudi textbooks call Jews 'monkeys,' espouse Israeli expansionist plot
Despite recent suggestions that relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia are warming, students in the kingdom are still being taught that Israel is the "Zionist enemy," Jews are monkeys, and that the country is in fact plotting to expand its borders to reach from the River Nile to the River Euphrates.

The study material appears in a report published by the IMPACT-se, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, which analyzes the contents of Saudi textbooks for the 2019-2020 academic year, as compared to the content for previous years.

The comprehensive study surveyed close to 200 textbooks used by first-graders and paints a rather bleak picture, despite the public statements about Israel ties and the U.S. peace plan.

The study also examined how the textbooks relate to LGBT, women, Iran and Turkey, Christianity, the West and more, in what is the first comprehensive study of all Saudi textbooks published in the last decade.

Saudi students are taught that Zionists are the enemies of Islam and that the Zionist movement is racist.

Israel is blamed among other things for harming Islam, but the country's actual name is not even mentioned and instead it is referred to as "the Zionist enemy."

Some of the books also mention that it is a religious duty to kill Jews. (h/t Zvi)
20 rockets fired at Israel after Gaza operative killed planting explosives
A barrage of 20 rockets were fired towards southern Israel communities on Sunday evening after Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) threatened to avenge the death of a terrorist by the Israeli military after he tried to plant explosives along the Gaza border fence.
Several explosions, likely interceptions, were heard across southern Israel after sirens blared in cities of Ashkelon, Sderot and dozens of communities bordering the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

Following the rocket barrage, the mayors of Ashkelon and Gan Yavne ordered the opening of all public shelters throughout the city. The mayor of Sderot urged citizens to remain close to shelters as well.

Soon after the rockets were launched, PIJ took responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it was in response to the killing of the terrorist who tried to plant explosives in the southern Gaza Strip earlier on Sunday.

"We congratulate this response, which was carried out by the resistance in response to the crime committed by the enemy this morning against the martyr Muhammad al-Naim and the abuse of his pure body," said PIJ in a statement on Sunday evening. "We affirm that the resistance is ready and in a state of alert in case the occupation continues to expand its aggression and is ready to respond to it."
Israeli Fire Kills Palestinian Trying to Plant Bomb at Gaza Border: Israeli Military
Israeli forces killed a Palestinian terrorist trying to plant explosives near Israel’s border security fence with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Israeli military said.

The Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad said the man was one of its members, but it did not disclose what he was doing in the area.

In a statement, the Israeli military said soldiers opened fire at two Palestinians placing an explosive device next to the fence in the Hamas Islamist-run enclave.

It said one of the men was killed and a military bulldozer removed his body.

Terror groups slam Israel after IDF bulldozer collects body from Gaza border
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups condemned Israel on Sunday after an IDF bulldozer was seen earlier in the day lifting the body of a Palestinian man whom the military accused of placing a bomb in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis.

A video shared on social media showed the IDF bulldozer approaching Palestinians who were attempting to retrieve the body and then lifting and carrying it away while it hangs from its blade.

The footage also appeared to indicate that at least one of the Palestinians trying to recover the corpse was hit by Israeli fire. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said two people were hit in the legs by bullets as they struggled with the bulldozer.

The IDF said that two members of the Islamic Jihad had earlier placed a bomb adjacent to the border fence before security forces opened fire on them. It also released footage of what appeared to be two men approaching the fence and a photo of what it said was the bomb.

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, announced that 27-year-old Mohammed al-Naem, one of its fighters, was killed in that incident. It did not make mention of a second casualty belonging to the terror group, but the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center reported that Palestinians in the border region succeeded in retrieving another Palestinian who it said was critically wounded by Israeli fire.

Regarding the body taken away by the bulldozer, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement: “The Zionist occupation’s deliberate killing of an innocent young man along the perimeter of the Gaza Strip and its maltreatment of his corpse in plain sight is another heinous crime that has been added to its record of awful crimes at the expense of our Palestinian people.

“The Zionist enemy will bear full responsibility for its consequences and ramifications.”
Netanyahu: International coronavirus quarantine list may grow
“We are prepared to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday during an emergency meeting held at the Health Ministry in Tel Aviv. “We are conducting assessments every day and I will appoint a team of ministers to meet on a daily basis to address this major challenge.”

He said that the government is constantly reviewing its policy and adjusting it to adapt to evolving circumstances, including monitoring entry into Israel from other countries.

“Today, we added Australia and Italy to the list of countries from which returning travelers will be required to enter quarantine,” he said. “As necessary, we will add other countries to the list.

“I said that over-preparation is better than lack of preparation," he continued. “To date, Israel has been more stringent than any other country, and we will continue to do what is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus in Israel.”

He called on the public to show “maximum responsibility” by adhering to the polices that the Health Ministry lays out.
Israel issues travel warnings for South Korea, Japan over virus outbreak
Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday urged Israelis not to visit Japan and South Korea over fears of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

“We recommend that Israelis weigh seriously any travel to South Korea at this time, and completely avoid the areas of Daegu, Cheongdo,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to areas that have seen a surge of infections by the coronavirus strain.

The travel advisory also recommended that Israelis currently in South Korea consider leaving the country.

Starting Monday, Israel will also ban all foreign nationals who have been to South Korea and Japan in the past 14 days from entering the country. Israel is already denying entry to visitors from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand and Singapore, and is apparently the only country to have taken such drastic steps so far to contain the virus.

The report came a day after the Health Ministry said nine South Korean tourists recently in Israel had tested positive for the coronavirus, sending hundreds of Israelis who were in proximity to the travelers into home quarantine. Some 200 Israeli students and teachers were instructed to enter isolation due to being in several tourist sites at the same time as the group. The South Korean tourists were diagnosed upon returning home.
PA shuts facilities visited by Korean tourists amid coronavirus scare
The Palestinian Authority has decided to close all facilities and restaurants recently visited by a Korean tourist delegation, after learning that some of the tourists were found infected with the coronavirus after they returned to their country.

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, who also serves as interior minister, said in a statement: “A number of the facilities visited by the tourist delegation are known to us, and we have dealt with the issue by ordering their closure to carry the necessary checks to protect workers in these facilities and their visitors.”

Shtayyeh said that other facilities visited by the Korean tourists were still unknown to the PA. “We hope the owners will show a sense of responsibility, inform the responsible authorities and abide by the instructions,” he said. “Failure to adhere to this will put them under the legal responsibility.”

The PA announced on Sunday that no cases of coronavirus have been found in the West Bank so far and said the relevant ministries are actively following up on the matter.

The PA Health Ministry said the Korean group visited Jerusalem, Nablus, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron from February 8 to 15, and it was found that some of its members were infected with the coronavirus upon their return to their country.
PA encourages suicide bombings: "Life is insignificant... God, grant us Martyrdom"
The Palestinian Authority encourages suicide bombings and promotes female suicide bombers as role models for Palestinians.

Official PA TV rebroadcast a music video that promotes death for Allah as Martyrs for Al-Aqsa and encourages suicide bombings. The song teaches Palestinians that “life is insignificant” when the Al-Aqsa Mosque calls them, and that dying for Allah is preferable to living: “God, grant us Martyrdom… A million grooms and brides… have written the marriage contract in blood.” The music video shows the photos of two female suicide bombers: Wafa Idris and Ayyat Al-Akhras who between them murdered 3 and wounded over 128:

Lyrics: "Al-Aqsa has called, and its call is precious
For its sake, life is insignificant, even if it’s precious...
God, grant us Martyrdom there
God, promise us, we beg of you…
A million grooms and brides at the celebration
Have written the marriage contract in blood on the veil"

Visual: Suicide bomber Wafa Idris – She blew herself up in Jerusalem, murdering 1 and wounding over 100

"A million grooms and brides at the celebration
Have written the marriage contract in blood on the veil"

Visual: Suicide bomber Ayyat Al-Akhras – She blew herself up in Jerusalem, murdering 2 and wounding 28

"Filled with desire, they are going to the Paradise of immortals
To a wedding procession with angels that fill Palestine with light."

[Official PA TV, Feb. 16, 2020]

Berlin cancels auto show for Iran rally to destroy Israel
Berlin authorities pulled the plug on a scheduled May Old-Timer auto show in favor of an Iranian regime rally that calls for the obliteration of the Jewish state.

The B.Z. paper reported on Saturday that the “Classic Days” auto show in Berlin’s main shopping district was cancelled because “the anti-Jewish Al-Quds day demonstration was permitted by the authorities at the same time.”

The “Classic Days” organizer Frank Peppel told the paper that on May 16 a hate demonstration will take place. “It's a shame for Berlin,” said Peppel, adding "Several hundred thousand visitors have to give way to radicals who protest against Jews."

Peppel told the paper that he applied for a permit in May 2019 for the Classic Days and heard nothing from the authorities for six months. In early January, the authorities told him that the Al Quds Day has priority.

The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, launched the Al Quds Day in 1979 calling for the destruction of Israel. Al Quds is the Arabic word for Jerusalem. The Berlin Al Quds demonstration has been held each year since 1996 in the capital.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Berlin mayor Michael Müller have ignored appeals over the years from the Israeli and American governments, as well as Germany’s Jewish community, to ban the antisemitic rally.
Iran uses German and US visas to make films against Israel and America
Iran’s intelligence ministry obtained visas from the German and US governments to produce anti-Western films that whitewash Tehran’s repression of Iranian protestors and bash the US and Israel.

In a Friday article headlined “Iran's Intelligence Ministry Makes Movies in Europe, Trumpets Islamic Republic's Narrative," Radio Farda first reported that “some 15 crew members went to Berlin to make the movie with Type-D multiple-entry Schengen visas issued by the German Embassy in Tehran. Some German-based Iranian filmmakers also helped the crew. The filming went ahead for three weeks in total secrecy. “

According to the report,"two crew members were accused of wrongdoing after the crew's camera disappeared and the duo sought political asylum in Germany fearing punishment in Tehran if they went back to Iran.”

Radio Farda added that “the films made by the Intelligence Ministry portray intelligence officers as heroes and the Iranian opposition as sinister terrorists. They never refer to the intelligence officers’ violent treatment of Iranian protestors.

Another main theme in the films made by Iran’s intelligence is demonizing the United States. They often portray the US and Israel as supporters of terrorists. Oddly enough, a number of Iranian filmmakers living in the United States, often Green Card holders, are actively involved in making such movies.”

Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia close Iran borders for coronavirus
Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Armenia announced on Sunday that they would close their borders with Iran as a precautionary measure to halt the potential spread of coronavirus after the neighboring country reported 43 cases of the disease.

All highways and railways will be closed as of 5 p.m. (14:00 GMT) on Sunday and flights from Iran suspended, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters. Eight people have died in Iran, the highest death toll from the new coronavirus outside of China.

The Office of the National Security Council in Afghanistan announced on Sunday that it would suspend all passenger movement by air and ground to and from Iran. The import of poultry products from its neighbor has been suspended as well. The Afghani ministries of Finance and Interior will work to prevent the smuggling of masks outside of the country and set aside resources for public health.

Pakistani authorities closed the border crossing with Iran in Taftan on Sunday as well, according to Radio Pakistan. The transit gate and joint markets at the border have been closed, and trade and travel have been suspended. Precautionary and protective measures are being taken in Taftan, including a 100-bed tent hospital that is being established to deal with the emergency situation along the Pakistan-Iran border.

In addition, Armenia is also closing its border with Iran for two weeks and suspending air traffic after reports of coronavirus cases there, Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
BBC News uncritically amplifies Iranian regime claim on voter turnout
On February 21st the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page published a report which is currently headlined “Iran elections: Hardliners set to sweep parliamentary polls”.

Readers of the latest version of that report are told that:

“Observers say authorities were hoping for a high voter turnout as a sign of support for the regime.

Voting was extended three times on Friday because of a “rush of voters”, state TV quoted the interior ministry as saying. The polls have now closed.”

Similar statements amplifying the Iranian regime’s claims of a “rush of voters” appeared in two earlier versions of the report.

Not only is there no evidence of the BBC having independently verified that claim before amplifying it, but reports from other sources suggest that turnout was in fact low, particularly in Tehran.

Who hijacked the Democratic party?
The 2020 Dems are fearful of standing up and condemning “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” rhetoric.

How did support for Israel and Zionism become a partisan issue in the USA?

Historically, Congressional support for Israel was overwhelmingly bi-partisan. In 1922, both Houses of Congress unanimously approved the "Mandate for Palestine," endorsing a Jewish National Home in Palestine (H.J. Res. 322). In 1995, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was adopted in an overwhelming bipartisan vote by the Senate (93–5) and the House (374–37). It authorized the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s undivided capital. Remarkably, many Democrats are now turning against Israel and do not condemn anti-Semitism

Thirty years ago, Kimberly Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA, coined the term intersectionality to address the oppression of women of color. Intersectionality quickly linked victims and identity groups defined by class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, disability, and gender. Over time other movements were included: in 2006 #MeToo and in 2013 Black lives matter (BLM).

In 2014, enemies of Israel realized that intersectionality could be used as a weapon against Israel and Zionism and encouraged new anti-Semitism. They depicted the Palestinian Arabs as victims of Israeli oppression, promoted the #palestine2ferguson campaign and equated Palestinian “victimhood” with the BLM movement. Palestinian Arab protesters are labeled “people of color” fighting against white Zionist colonialists.

Intersectionality at the core of the BDS movement excluded Star of David flags at BLM, #MeToo and LGBTQ rallies and embraced Palestinian flags. Anti-Semites such as Linda Sarsour and far left BDS groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) lead intersectionality rallies. Intersectionality embracing identity politics as well as anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is taught in our universities. Students are told support for Israel is incompatible with social justice and defending Israel is taboo.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Compares Rise Of Bernie To WWII ‘Fall Of France’ To Nazi Germany
MSNBC host Chris Matthews fumed over Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) performance in the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, comparing his apparent inevitable victory to Nazi Germany taking over France during World War II.

“It looks like Bernie Sanders is hard to beat right now,” Matthews said. “I’m with Carville all the way in terms of the dangers of what lurks, what lies ahead in November. I’m very much aware that they’re sitting on so much oppo research on Bernie, what he said in the past about world affairs, how far-left he is … they are going to make the most of that in terms of world politics. They’re going to kill him.”

Matthews continued, “I was reading last night, Brian, I know you’re a history guy too, I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940, and the general, Renault, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says ‘How can it be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.’ So I have that suppressed feeling. I can’t be as wild as Carville, but he is damn smart, and I think he’s damn right on this one.”

StandWithUs Launches Petition Supporting Celine Dion in Face of BDS Pressure
StandWithUs launched a petition on Feb. 20 expressing support for Celine Dion because an organization is pressuring the singer to cancel upcoming concerts in Israel.

Dion is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on Aug. 4-5; Aug. 5 is Tu B’Av, Israel’s Valentine’s Day. She decided to schedule a second show in Tel Aviv after the Aug. 4 show quickly sold out, according to the Times of Israel.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), an organization that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, currently has a campaign urging Dion to cancel the Tel Aviv shows. The organization is encouraging people to send a letter to Dion’s public relations firm and Sony Music, which represents Dion, that reads: “I am very disappointed at the news that you will be performing in Israel. Performing in Israel sends the wrong message to Palestinians who are suffering under Israeli occupation and colonization.”

The CJPME petition currently has sent at least 4,470 emails.

The StandWithUs petition, on the other hand, reads: “Music should never be politicized, and instead of bringing people together, the haters are trying to encourage division! One of Celine’s best well-known songs is ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and in this case, the show must go on!”

New York Times Defends Publishing Terrorist Op-ed: He’s no Bret Stephens (satire)
The New York Times (NYT) is receiving criticism after it published an op-ed penned by Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani last week. The editorial board is standing by their decision though as giving a voice to a new and controversial opinion but also because they had empty column space and “Tom Friedman is only good for so much gibberish per week”.

The Times has regularly come under fire for publishing opinion pieces by enemies of the United States, and Tom Friedman, but they have always stood by their decision to publish such writers. One member of the board said “sure, Haqqani was actively involved in the planning and execution of attacks that targeted US troops and the US has more than a $10 million bounty on his head, but we still got less hate mail on this than any time one or more conservative columnists publishes something”.

NYT readers have been split on the decision with one person we interviewed saying that on the one hand the Taliban is bad but that The New York Times regularly publishes the writings of people who have terrorized New York before, and yet Bari Weiss is still allowed to write columns.
New Report Sheds Light on Antisemitic Agitation Faced by French Jews Online
More than 50,000 incidents of antisemitic content posted online by internet users in France were monitored in 2019 by a new organization that was set up to track hatred and racism on social networks.

A report published on Friday by the Online Antisemitism Observatory — a research initiative launched by the French Jewish representative body CRIF — disclosed a total of 51,816 antisemitic postings during the period studied. Observation was limited to public postings visible to all, including anti-Jewish comments that were nevertheless cleared for publication by monitors.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Francis Kalifat — president of CRIF — said that online monitoring was a vital task in a country dogged by rising antisemitism.

French Interior Ministry figures published in January showed that antisemitic acts increased by 27 percent in 2019, following a leap of 74 percent the previous year.

“In order to have a more complete picture of antisemitism in France, it was necessary to identify, quantify and qualify the hateful content present on the internet,” Kalifat told the paper.
Anti-Semitic Belgium parade features costumes of Jews with insect bodies
Caricatures of Jews, including ones depicting them as ants, were prominently displayed at this city’s annual parade.

The displays came a year after the Jewish Telegraphic Agency exposed anti-Semitic themes in last year’s parade in Aalst, located about 10 miles west of Brussels. Participants said the new displays were designed to reject the criticism of the town and carnival that followed JTA’s report.

“This is us saying we’re not going to stop making fun of everyone,” a man who identified himself as Fred van Oilsjt, 26, told JTA Sunday while wearing a costume that exaggerates the suits favored by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. (Oilsjt is Aalst in the local dialect.)

He and 11 other members of his group also wore an ant’s abdomen and legs attached to their backs and a sticker that read “obey” on their lapels. Anti-Semitic imagery has often associated Jews with vermin, but he said the display was meant to be a pun referencing how the Dutch-language word for the Western Wall sounds like “complaining ant.”

Another group wore fake hooked noses and costumes of ultra-Orthodox Jews as a protest. Their float had a sign labeled “regulations for the Jewish party committee,” and it included: “Do not mock Jews” and “Certainly do not tell the truth about the Jew.”

Among the thousands of revelers who watched the parade from the sidelines, dozens of people wore fake ultra-Orthodox Jewish costumes, including one person who also wore large troll feet.

Rudi Roth, a journalist for the Antwerp-based Joods Actueel Jewish paper, said the expressions of anti-Semitism in Aalst this year were more numerous and prominent than last year. He called it a “backlash effect.”
World Jewish Congress thanks Bulgaria for stopping neo-Nazi march
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder thanked political and judiciary authorities in Bulgaria, including Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, for stopping an annual torch-lit demonstration attended by thousands of neo-Nazi marchers to celebrate Holocaust-era General Hristo Lukov, whose movement sent more than 11,000 Jews to their deaths in Treblinka.

The organizers of the march agreed this year to obey a Supreme Administrative Court decision to uphold a municipal court order limiting the event to flower-laying at Lukov's home.

The Sofia Municipal Police reportedly advised the organizers of the march that any person who violated the order would be stopped. Only 60 supporters attended the event.

"For the first time in more than a decade, the Jewish community of Bulgaria has been spared its yearly day of fear and apprehension from shameful flame-wielding thugs who parade through the streets to glorify the very ideology that brought the near destruction of the Jewish people,” Lauder said. “At this frightening time of rising antisemitic activity across the world, this is a moment of true victory for the Jewish community, the people of Bulgaria, and all promoters of justice and tolerance worldwide.”

Lauder expressed the WJC was "deeply grateful" to Bulgarian officials, including Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva and Deputy Foreign Minister & National Coordinator against Antisemitism Georg Georgiev, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, and "the many others have been sincerely responsive to our concerns over this inciteful demonstration."
Lionel Richie makes Election Day choice easy
It may be impossible to prove, but it’s likely that more wedding receptions around the Western world have featured songs by Lionel Richie more than any other artist.

Just think – he’s got the sentimental slow-dance ballads like “Lady,” “Endless Love” and “Three Times a Lady.” And when the wedding party wants to boogie, there’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long” to keep the good times rolling.

That everyman mentality that touched hearts like a Hallmark card and feet like rhythmic karaoke machine is the not-so-secret weapon of Richie’s music that catapulted him into one of the most successful artists of the 1980s, following a fruitful career as part of R&B powerhouse, The Commodores.

Already during his time as a band member, Richie wrote and produced Kenny Rogers’s number one smash “Lady,” and the following year, he did a duet with Diana Ross on “Endless Love” (for the Brooke Shields film of the same name), which went on to become the most successful single in Motown history.

By 1981, he had grown too big for The Commodores and his new solo career propelled him even further. At its height, he was featured on 1985’s “We Are The World” with heavyweights like Springsteen, Dylan and Jackson and was an ubiquitous figure on MTV back when it still aired music videos.
Rivlin meets Australian wildlife affected by brushfires in Sydney zoo
During his diplomatic visit to Australia, President Reuven Rivlin stopped by the Taronga Zoo's wildlife hospital in Sydney, where he met with many of the animals being treated in the wake of the brutal Australian bushfires.

During the visit, he met with the zoo's staff and management, as well as with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, an echidna and even a platypus.

The hospital treats over 1,400 animals yearly, but they've had their hands full over the past few months due to the latest brushfires in the country, which, according to the hospital, killed over a million animals.

The zoo's management and staff told Rivlin about their attempts over the past months to rescue animals trapped in the fire, adding that the damage from the fire was so severe that animals would likely not be able to be returned to their natural habitats for another 12 years.

“We are talking about animals that live 8-12 years, so only the next generation and the one after that will return to nature," said Cameron Carr, the zoo's head and chief vet. "The extent of the destruction is immense and it will take a long time to regrow.”

“This is a natural disaster that happens every few decades, not every few centuries,” Rivlin said, adding praise for the heart-warming and inspiring concern and rescue efforts the staff made for the Australian wildlife.

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