Wednesday, March 25, 2020

03/25 Links Pt2: The virus spreading faster than coronavirus: Antisemitism; AJC Starts #BeAMensch Initiative to Promote and Encourage Kindness

From Ian:

The virus spreading faster than coronavirus: Antisemitism
As for the BDS movement, they have been relatively quiet on the question of whether or not they would use a (hypothetical) Israeli vaccine, but at least one pro-BDS Press TV journalist, Roshan Salih, tweeted he would rather be infected by coronavirus than use an Israeli product. Apparently, hating Israel is more important than living to some of these BDS activists. When Salih was mocked on social media, he reverted to another conspiracy claiming “Israel’s troll army” attacked him online.

No less hateful than the conspiracy theories and hate speech, there has also been a litany of outrageous comments exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to smear the state of Israel. From journalists, to organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW), to Jewish extremist groups like IfNotNow, to Palestinian NGOs, comments which pre-emptively assume that Israel is failing to assist the Palestinians are spreading faster than the coronavirus itself.

Another popular talking point in these crowds has been using the pandemic to talk about occupation. “Students for Justice in Palestine” held a campus event on the topic in the US - before American universities were ordered shuttered. Regardless of one’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, if your response to a global pandemic is to bash Israel you can’t be surprised when your motives are questioned. After all, the line between condemning policy and outright antisemitism has been repeatedly crossed in such statements. Last week a former HRW employee, Sarah Whitson, tweeted that Israel is only “missing a tablespoon of blood” in its oppression of Palestinians, a classic antisemitic trope about bloodthirsty Jews. Whitson later deleted the tweet saying it was being “misunderstood” but carried on bashing Israel. It’s no coincidence that statements like this “accidentally” come out when those who hold deeply ignorant and antisemitic views use words like “Israel” or “Zionism” as socially acceptable replacements for the words “Jews” and “Judaism.”

The plague of antisemitism is an ongoing problem on social media, as social media provides uncensored and sometimes anonymous platform to broadcast to the entire world. But this global pandemic has shown, in just a matter of days, that antisemitism today flourishes not just from the usual neo-Nazi or radical Islam fringes, but from the general public – world leaders, journalists, human rights activists, and more. Once again, irrational obsession with Jews demonstrates that antisemitism is not a marginal problem but all-too-mainstream.
Jonathan S. Tobin: The Zionist Congress election and the truth about American Jewry
It’s been derided as irrelevant and a relic of the distant past that ought to have been junked decades ago. But the World Zionist Congress election that has just concluded generated more interest and participation than it has in decades.

Just as interesting is a clear shift in the results from elections that just wrapped up on March 11 showing an increase in support for Orthodox slates and groups that identify with Israel’s Likud Party and other right-leaning groups. While the increased participation is a healthy sign for the Zionist movement, the gap between these results and polls of American Jewish opinion illustrate something else.

The Zionist Congress is significant because it helps control a nearly $1 billion budget that can support projects in Israel. Americans make up about one-third of those who will attend the gathering, which was scheduled to be held this summer.

Those who voted for the Congress may well be representative of the opinion of Jews who remain affiliated with synagogues and care deeply about Israel. But that distance between that segment of the population and the far larger group of Jews who are not motivated to take part in a Zionist Congress election is greater than ever. Though the vote produced a result that was surprisingly encouraging for most of those who consider themselves part of the pro-Israel community, it may also show that those who answer to that label are actually a minority of those Americans who consider themselves, by one definition or another, Jewish.

The vote that was held online from January through March generated a turnout of 123,629 votes. That may not sound like much when you consider that the Jewish population in the United States is about 7.5 million, according to the generous estimate of the Brandeis University Steinhardt Social Research Institute with the same study claiming that if you define it solely by religion, there are only 4.4 million American Jews.

That notwithstanding, the voters are a significant sample of the opinion of Jews who care enough about Israel and Zionism to pay a modest fee to register and declare support for the Jerusalem Program of the Zionist movement.
Freeing the Captives
Review of 'Genius and Anxiety' by Norman Lebrecht

Why the Jews? By a liberal definition of tribal membership (meaning those with at least one Jewish parent), there are around 17 million Jews in the world—about the population of Kazakhstan. An ancient civilization, Kazakhstan boasts a 99.5 percent literacy rate, but while it has produced writers and scientists, their names are not exactly household words.

Contrast this with the Jews. They invented monotheism, Hollywood, gefilte fish, relativity, and free will (Adam chose to eat the apple). Over the centuries, Jewish über-achievers range from Marx, Freud, Proust, Kafka, and Einstein to Mahler, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Gershwin, and Dylan; to Disraeli and Leon Blum; to Jonas Salk (polio vaccine) and Paul Ehrlich (chemotherapy); to Silicon Valley titans such as Sergei Brin and Larry Ellison; to Kirk Douglas, Steven Spielberg, and Seinfeld. Not to mention Groucho. Or Helena Rubinstein and Estée Lauder, who cooked up modern cosmetics.

So how did the Jews, who make up .2 percent of mankind, “change the world?” This is the question Norman Lebrecht asks in the subtitle of his new book, Genius and Anxiety. “I am not about to make a case for Jewish exceptionalism,” he answers, “nor do I believe that Jews are genetically gifted above the average.” Instead, he ascribes Jewish seichel to “culture and experience rather than DNA.” It’s all due to numeracy, literacy, and critical reasoning—the stuff of Talmudic study.

Lebrecht keeps referring to the causal role of the Talmud throughout his book, suggesting that even Freud and Einstein, who had never set foot in a yeshiva, were somehow formed by Talmudic sages who kept arguing ad infinitum for some 300 years at the beginning of the first millennium following the destruction of the Temple. But it is a long trip from Babylon and Jerusalem to Vienna and Berlin, from the Talmudic giants to the secularized, even areligious Jews of the 19th and 20th centuries, many of whom (or their parents) had converted to Christianity.

So let’s posit, as Lebrecht suggests we should, that somehow the ancient masters of pilpul handed the art of disputation down through the generations. After all, Freud’s father, Jacob, a wool merchant, was a Torah scholar.

But if “like father, like son” is the transmission belt, there are two problems.

Chief rabbis ban prayer in synagogues over coronavirus crisis
In light of the increasing challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef issued a statement on Wednesday calling on the public not to pray in synagogues due to the danger of spreading the disease.
The two chief rabbis said, however, that prayer services with a minimal minyan, a prayer quorum of 10 men, could still be held outdoors, as long as they are spaced two meters apart.

The decision comes following new regulations that have been put in place by the government further limiting movement outside of places of residence.

On Tuesday, data was released showing that of Israelis who contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus in Israel, 24% were infected while attending synagogue.

Rabbinates and rabbinical associations in the UK, Switzerland, the US and many other countries gave such instructions as much as two weeks ago, but the chief rabbis have resisted such calls until now.

Yosef and Lau said that people should try if possible to pray outdoors, close to a synagogue, and that the Torah scroll can be removed from a synagogue for use in services when necessary.
Senior Orthodox rabbis allow Zoom for Passover Seder due to coronavirus
In a remarkable ruling, senior Orthodox rabbis have given permission for people to use the Zoom video conferencing service at the Passover Seder to allow families separated by the coronavirus pandemic to connect with one another on what is one of the high points of the Jewish calendar.

Rabbi Eliyahu Abergel, a highly respected arbiter of Jewish law who served as the head of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court for a decade, together with several other municipal chief rabbis, wrote in response to requests to use Zoom at the Passover Seder that it would be possible under certain restrictions due to the “time of emergency” currently being experienced.

The rabbis wrote that families that want to connect with each other at this upcoming Seder night could use Zoom if they turn on their electronic devices and the Zoom application before the holiday begins.

Orthodox rabbis forbade the use of electricity on Shabbat when it began to become commonplace at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, and this prohibition has become standard practice throughout the Orthodox world.

The rabbis’ permission to allow the use of Zoom for Seder night, even with the stipulation that it must be already working before the holiday begins, is a significant ruling, given that Orthodox Judaism has been very strict about prohibiting the use of electricity and electronic devices on Shabbat and the holidays.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Lockdown Violators: Torah Study Will Protect From Coronavirus As It Protected Yeshivas Of Europe From Holocaust (satire)
Students disregarding official warnings to avoid leaving the home if at all possible and not to congregate or spend time in proximity with others told reporters today they do not need to heed those directives because they enjoy the divine protection that accrues to those who devote themselves to the study of sacred texts, just as the devoted students of those texts only suffered mass murder and dehumanization under the Nazis and their local collaborators.

Attendees of yeshivas in this holy city dismissed the concerns raised by journalists that the students’ irresponsible behavior puts themselves and others at risk of contracting a deadly disease, with the most vulnerable among them the elderly, to whom they take pride in showing honor otherwise. People who study Torah have special divine protection from misfortune, they argued, citing famous Talmudic teachings that they understand as categorical, as well as the more recent precedent of the great yeshivas of Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Romania, and elsewhere getting all but wiped out in the Holocaust.

“Torah is the best guardian,” intoned a young man. “We who dedicate ourselves to the words of the great sages will not come to harm,” he added, adducing the examples through the ages of the sainted Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua, Rabbi Eliyahu of York, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, and countless other Torah giants who were put to death in cruel or gruesome fashion.

“Please do not disturb our learning, which protects everyone,” added his partner, as the two crowded into a packed study hall with dozens of others, several of whom have close relatives hospitalized with the illness.
In bombshell, Yuli Edelstein resigns to avoid calling vote on new speaker
In a bombshell announcement, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday announced that he was resigning rather than calling a parliament vote on his own replacement, as required earlier this week by the High Court of Justice.

“As someone who has paid a personal price of years in a labor camp for the right to live in the State of Israel, as a Zionist and as the speaker of this house, I won’t allow Israel to descend into anarchy, I won’t lend a hand to civil war,” Edelstein, who spent three years in a Soviet gulag, said in a statement.

“Therefore, for the benefit of the State of Israel… I am hereby resigning from my role as Knesset speaker,” he said. “Let us pray and hope for better days.”

Israel’s top court on Monday night ruled unanimously that Edelstein must hold a vote by Wednesday to elect a successor. In a devastating ruling, it accused him of undermining democracy by refusing to do so.

The court issued its ruling after Edelstein had rebuffed the justices’ earlier non-binding stance that such a vote be held.

In his speech announcing his resignation Wednesday, Edelstein assailed the court.

“The decision of the High Court destroys the work of the Knesset,” he said. “The High Court decision constitutes a gross and arrogant intervention of the judiciary in the affairs of the elected legislature. The High Court decision infringes on the sovereignty of the Knesset.”

Were Edelstein, an MK from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, to have persisted in defying the court, Israel would have been plunged into a constitutional crisis.
Honest Reporting: Former MK Dov Lipman Explains Israel's Unprecedented Constitutional Crisis
Israel's political scene is on a knife-edge. With coronavirus sweeping Israel the need for a functioning government is more vital than ever. Calls for a vote to determine the next speaker of the Israeli Knesset have led to a Supreme Court intervention, yet some lawmakers may be poised to defy its decision.

To help you understand the positions more fully, HonestReporting head of community outreach, former Member of Knesset Dov Lipman, explains all.

Arab Israelis Are Pulling Away, Not Integrating in Israeli Society
Prof. Raphael Israeli, 84, one of the preeminent researchers on the Arabs of Israel, sees a "clear trend of disconnect, not any desire to integrate into Israeli society" among Arabs: "Not increasing closeness at all, but rather Arab Israelis pulling away from Israeli-ness."

"They say that Arab Israelis, who are 20% of the population, want to integrate, but they vote for a confederation of parties that define Israel as a state that commits theft and robbery....[Their] representatives justify the right of return for Arabs even now, reject the idea of Arab Israeli identity, and cling to the idea of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation. For them, Zionism is colonialism....There is no process of moderation, only radicalization."

"They are willing to vote in the Knesset so the state will approve budgets for more policing in their communities in the face of the raging crime there, and that's fine. That's acceptable. But they...don't exactly see Israel as their country. I'm saying this with regret and disappointment....At any rate, this 'distinction' between the citizens and their politicians doesn't really exist."

Q: A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 83% of Israeli Arabs want to integrate into Israeli society.
Israeli: "What does integrate mean? It's important to them to live in the State of Israel, but the State of Israel is not important to them. That's a huge difference....Given the national conflict, I don't expect them to be Zionists, but I expect them not to be anti-Zionist - to not behave and speak in a way that undermines the foundations of the Jewish state and to not identify with terrorism."
Arab Israelis: "We Aren't Really a Minority"
The vast majority of Arab Israeli voters cast ballots for the Joint Arab List. They are well aware that their leadership rejects the legitimacy of the Jewish state, and openly expresses understanding, sympathy and support for Israel's enemies. The way they see it, the heinous crime of "Zionist colonialism" can be accepted for now - and is convenient when the Arabs are benefiting from the achievements of the Jews - but it cannot be legitimized or accepted as a permanent reality.

Mohammad Dahla, one of the founders of the Arab rights group Adala, explained in an interview in Ha'aretz in 2003: "I connect to the greatness of Islam. It gives me...a sense of self-confidence. I know we are not destined to be defeated and weak. And I know that we aren't actually a minority. The idea of being a minority is foreign to Islam. It fits Judaism, but not Islam. And when you look around, you see that we aren't really a minority."
Sanders Wins Democrats Abroad Primary With Nearly 37 Percent of Vote in Israel
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the Democrats Abroad primary, winning nearly 37 percent of vote of Americans living in Israel, announced Democrats Abroad on Monday.

In Israel, out of 638 votes, Sanders received 236, while the Democratic frontrunner, former US Vice President Joe Biden, got 234. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who suspended her campaign on March 5, garnered 89 votes. Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race a day earlier, got 55 votes.

Overall, Sanders won 58 percent of the vote and will receive nine delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee this July, while Biden won 23 percent.

An estimated 40,000 Americans living in 180 countries outside the United States cast their ballot in person or through fax, email and regular mail.

Turnout increased by 15 percent over 2016, the highest ever, according to Democrats Abroad.
Anti-Israel NGOs Are Exploiting Coronavirus to Spread Hate
For anti-Israel advocacy non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which constantly attempt to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state, the COVID-19 pandemic’s domination of the global news cycle poses a significant challenge—the world now has real problems to deal with.

Nevertheless, some NGOs have a solution. Namely, they have decided to link their agendas to COVID-19. This is consistent with previous attempts by NGOs to capitalize on the prevailing public discourse, such as manipulating narratives of climate change and LGBTQ rights as part of their anti-Israel campaigns.

Take, for instance, the offensive and anti-Semitic sentiment expressed in a tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, the former head of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East department and now with the Quincy Institute. Not for the first time, Whitson deployed classic anti-Semitic tropes, in this case the blood libel. In response to a cynical tweet that “6 million jewish [sic] Israelis” will now understand life under “occupation” due to virus-related restrictions, Whitson lamented that it was “such a tiny taste. Missing a tablespoon of blood.”

To be sure, not all NGOs have gone that far. Some have stuck to their standard anti-Israel nonsense. One common theme is the “occupation,” where the COVID-19 virus has been appended to standard anti-occupation rhetoric and campaigns that, for some obsessed NGOs and activists, are still the most pressing global concerns. Of course, their complaints about Israeli policy in the West Bank do not seriously grapple with whether it will effectively curb the spread of disease, but rather presume Israel must be acting in bad faith, because “occupation.”

On March 10, for example, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Maryland hosted an event with the title, “Corona and Countering the Occupation.” According to the poster advertising the event, the issues to be discussed included “How is corona being handled in Palestine?” “How does occupation worsen the situation?” and “What is the best way to counter the occupation.”

Another example is a tweet by the American fringe group IfNotNow, claiming that “Demolishing Palestinian homes will worsen the coronavirus spread. It was already inhumane to displace people, now it’s also an urgent matter of public health. The Israeli army must stop demolishing homes and focus on the health and wellness of all Israelis and Palestinians.”
Mapping BBC messaging on Gaza and Corona
As we saw last week, the BBC Jerusalem bureau already briefed audiences on the topic of Coronavirus in the Gaza Strip over a week before the first two cases were diagnosed. Listeners to at least four programmes on different platforms heard the following long-employed talking points concerning the Gaza Strip repromoted in Tom Bateman’s preemptive reports:
- The territory was described as “one of the world’s most densely crowded places” where “more than two million people live in tightly packed” and “densely populated conditions”.
- The territory was portrayed as having “weak, underdeveloped health services” that are “far weaker than those of the developed Western world” and which are “already under significant pressure”. Hospitals in the Gaza Strip were described as “outdated, hard pressed and lacking many medicines and supplies” and audiences were told that an outbreak of Covid 19 “could stretch their health system to the limit.”
- The territory was described as having “an unclean water supply and regular power cuts”.
- Audiences heard of “deep poverty” and “crowded refugee camps”.

However when it came to explaining to audiences why health services, power supplies and water supplies in the Gaza Strip are as they are, the BBC was distinctly less forthcoming.

“…problems […] are compounded by the tangled politics here. Israel and Egypt’s crippling blockade – meant to stop weapons getting to Hamas militants – the recent bouts of fighting with Israel and the deep split between the two main Palestinian factions all add to the crisis.”

Of course the sole reason for that partially portrayed “blockade” is the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and additional terrorist organisations since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip nearly a decade and a half ago. The BBC, however, provided no serious background information on that topic – including the issue of Hamas’ budgetary priorities which place terrorism over healthcare and other services – while employing its standard euphemism “militants” to describe Hamas.
AP Misleads on Electricity for Gaza Strip
In an article about the Coronavirus crisis from the perspective of Middle Easterners and others who have suffered severe hardship for years, the Associated Press misleads about the availability of electricity in the Gaza Strip. In today’s article, “Survivors of world conflict offer perspective amid pandemic,” Joseph Krauss and Fares Akram report: “Long before the pandemic, Gazans were forced to adapt to daily hardships. Most only have a few hours of electricity a day, the tap water is undrinkable, and the unemployment rate is about 50%.”

The word “few” is vague and imprecise. It could mean as little as three, and it could also refer to an unspecified minority of the total. It does not, however, suggest more than half.

Indeed, according to figures provided by United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, every single day this month, Gazans have had electricity for at least half of each 24-hour period. Accurate language would be that “Most have electricity for just over 12 hours a day.”

Last week, CAMERA prompted correction of an erroneous AP claim that Israel prevents the entry of surgical supplies into the Gaza Strip.

CAMERA has contacted AP about the misleading assertion that Gaza residents have just “a few hours of electricity a day.”
In NY Times Op-Ed, pandemic a pretext to attack Israel, deny terrorism
Is it “normal” for elderly Holocaust survivors to be murdered while celebrating Passover? That’s what today’s Op-Ed in the New York Times appears to suggest.

The piece, by anti-Israel activist Raja Shehadeh, uses the coronavirus scare as a pretext to attack the Jewish state. The hook is that American cities are ordering people to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The pitch is that cruel Israelis ordered Palestinians to remain indoors for no reason at all. Shehadeh strains to squeeze anti-Israel talking points into his ostensible lesson about the coronavirus. Or is it the other way around? “Unlike the Israeli guns that posed an equal threat to anyone moving outside of their homes without permission, the virus discriminates by age.” He writes of Israel’s “strangulating roadblocks.”

And for what? Apparently nothing. In what is the piece’s most disingenuous and offensive passage, Shehadeh writes,

In 2002, when my neighbors and I had our movement severely restricted by an Israeli military siege, I tried my best to continue living as normally as I could. It was springtime then, as it is now. I would look out the window and lament my inability to venture out to the lush hills all around covered with wildflowers. But the danger lurking outside my house back then was readily recognizable: armed soldiers enforcing the stay-at-home orders. Only Palestinians were under threat. While we suffered, normal life continued elsewhere, indifferent to what we were enduring.

It is a flagrant distortion of history — a stark example of terrorism denial — to claim that, in 2002, “only Palestinians were under threat” while “normal life” continued in Israel. That year was the single deadliest in history for Israelis in terms of terrorism deaths, as a campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings targeted Jewish civilians. Life was turned upside-down for Israelis, many of whom wouldn’t dare enter a restaurant or city bus. The curfews imposed on parts of the West Bank, which the Op-Ed focuses on, was the direct result of a Palestinian terror campaign, which the Op-Ed dishonesty ignores, and which claimed over 400 Israeli lives that year alone.

Honest Reporting: Video Alert: Globe Reporter Exploits Corona Virus Pandemic to Gratuitously Attack Israel
Leave it to Mark Mackinnon, the Globe and Mail’s former Middle East Bureau Chief, to use the Corona Virus pandemic to gratuitously attack Israel over Twitter on March 17.

Why is Gaza isolated? Simply put, the Hamas terror group has run the Strip for the past 13 years forcing Israel and Egypt to impose a blockade to prevent weapons from entering the territory which could be used in terror attacks against Israeli civilians from Gaza proper.

SWU Calls on New York AG to Investigate Antisemitism
As we recently noted, we are seeing numerous instances of people wrongly blaming minorities - primarily Jews and Chinese people - for COVID-19. StandWithUs is deeply troubled by one of the latest such reported instances, in which an Orthodox Jewish man in New York appears to have been turned away at a Toyota service station by an employee who claimed the man was responsible for spreading the virus. The StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism and the Saidoff Legal Department are calling upon the New York Attorney General to investigate this matter as potential unlawful discrimination in violation of New York’s Human Rights law, specifically §296(2)(a). If the events, as seen in a video recording of the incident, are in fact as reported, we also call upon Toyota to issue a public apology, to issue a public statement condemning such egregious antisemitism, and to take appropriate disciplinary action concerning any employee(s) involved in spreading this type of hate. This is a time for us to pull together, not needlessly create division.
'Wonder Woman 1984' Release Pushed Until August due to coronavirus
Warner Bros. is postponing Diana Prince's return to the big screen. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, "Wonder Woman 1984" will now hit theaters on Aug. 14 instead of June 5.

The studio also indefinitely pulled "In the Heights" -- an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical that was due out June 26 -- as well as "Scoob" -- an animated film based on "Scooby-Doo" characters set for May 15. "Malignant," a thriller from "Aquaman" director James Wan, was originally scheduled to open on Aug. 14, but was bumped for "Wonder Woman 1984." Those three movies remain undated for now.

"When we greenlit 'Wonder Woman 1984,' it was with every intention to be viewed on the big screen and are excited to announce that Warner Bros. Pictures will be bringing the film to theaters on Aug. 14," Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman, said in a statement. "We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then."

The delays were inevitable as multiplexes across the country remain closed to help halt the spread of the novel virus. Warner Bros. was always committed to debuting its "Wonder Woman" sequel in cinemas, and the studio felt it was realistic for theaters to be up and running again by August. Warner Bros. is now looking for new times to release "In the Heights," "Scoob" and "Malignant."
Eden Alene will represent Israel in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest amid fears of spreading coronavirus, Israel's public broadcaster KAN told Eden Alene on Sunday during the Culture Agent program that she would instead represent Israel at Eurovision 2021.

Alene, a 19-year-old Ethiopian Israeli, was selected to represent Israel at the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after winning Hakokhav Haba (The Next Star). She was the first Ethiopian Israeli to be chosen to represent the Jewish state in the competition, and was slated to sing “Feker Libi” by Doron Medalie and Idan Raichel at the show.

The contest was slated to begin on May 16, just nine days after Alene's 20th birthday.

However, due to the coronavirus, the European Broadcasting Union was forced to cancel the show.

“It’s in the DNA of the Eurovision Song Contest to bring delegations, artists and fans together in one place and provide an equal platform for all artists to compete together on the same stage and the same opportunity to shine,” the EBU said in a statement at the time. “We are all heartbroken that the Eurovision Song Contest will not be able to be staged in May but feel confident that the whole Eurovision family, across the world, will continue to provide love and support for each other at this difficult time.”

AJC Starts #BeAMensch Initiative to Promote and Encourage Kindness
The American Jewish Committee launched a new initiative on Thursday called #BeAMensch to encourage and showcase “acts of kindness and decency” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mensch is Yiddish work that means “a person of integrity and honor” or just an overall good person.

Each day, the initiative’s website and AJC’s various social-media accounts will feature stories from across America and around the world of people who are acting like a mensch and “mensch-y behavior on the part of groups, institutions, organizations, companies and even countries,” AJC said in a statement.

The committee will also share tips on things one can do to be a mensch and how to aid others during this pandemic.

“In the face of the unique adversity of COVID-19, everyday acts of kindness to others becomes particularly vital,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “Anyone can be a mensch by helping a family member, a neighbor, a stranger, an elderly person by confronting coronavirus pandemic despair, or in so many other ways. The important thing is to extend oneself on behalf of others.”

People are encouraged to participate in the #BeAMensch initiative by visiting its website and sharing stories of mensch-like behavior from their community, or sharing stories of kind acts on social media with #BeAMensch.

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