Thursday, April 16, 2020

From Ian:

Coronavirus death toll in Israel rises to 143, with 12,758 cases
The death toll in Israel from the coronavirus rose to 143 Thursday evening, an increase of three from the morning.

The fatalities were a 76-year-old woman at Sharon Hospital in Petah Tikva with preexisting medical conditions, an 82-year-old woman at Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias, and an 86-year-old woman at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

The latter was the 15th resident of the Yokra nursing home in Yavne’el to die from COVID-19, the highest death toll at any senior living facility in Israel.

Roughly one-third of the COVID-19 fatalities in Israel were residents of elderly living centers.

According to the Health Ministry’s latest figures, there have been 12,758 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel.

The ministry said 181 people were in serious condition, 137 of them on ventilators.

Another 158 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms.

There have been 2,818 Israelis who recovered from COVID-19.
Coronavirus: Netanyahu approves preliminary plan to open the economy
Israeli leaders have agreed on a plan to begin opening the economy beginning as early as Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office reported.
After hours of heated debate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the principals for an exit strategy that was presented to him by the National Security Council on Thursday. The plan was drafted with the help of a team of scientific, medical and economic experts, and balanced between the opposing viewpoints of the Finance, Health, Economy and Defense ministries.

The government will gradually open a limited number of businesses, which would be subject to the rules and restrictions that the Health and Finance ministries would determine by Saturday night.

In addition, the plan calls for permitting exercise and sports up to 500 meters from home and re-opening special education programs for individuals with high needs.

The final plan will be drafted over the next 48 hours and brought to a vote by the cabinet on Saturday night.





Washington Post: Anti-Israel Activist Spews More Gaza Coronavirus Agitprop
As coronavirus lockdowns continue around the world, boredom is undoubtedly starting to set in for some people. It’s also becoming boring reading the spate of articles and opinion pieces concerning Gaza and the coronavirus.

At this time of writing, coronavirus has, thankfully, not spread through the Gaza population although there is, of course, still the potential for a significant health crisis. But this has not stopped many journalists and commentators linking Gaza’s existing crisis to a potential coronavirus crisis and making sure to blame Israel in advance for infections or deaths that have not even yet occurred.

The latest is an opinion piece by Tarek Loubani in the Washington Post:

Recently we’ve already gone at length into the Coronavirus and 7 Reasons Why There’s No ‘Gaza Siege’, which addresses many of the false and tired charges Loubani makes including the claim that Israel doesn’t allow medical supplies and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. He also fails to mention that the Israeli blockade, meant to prevent weapons smuggling is also administered by Egypt.

Indeed no discussion about Gaza’s situation can be held without acknowledging the role of the Hamas terrorist organization that rules over and mismanages the territory.

Loubani, however, doesn’t mention Hamas at all in his piece. Not once.

Nowhere does he consider that the Gaza Ministry of Health is controlled by Hamas. Nowhere does he ask the question as to why Hamas has failed to invest in medical facilities and infrastructure such as hospitals and equipment. Could it be that huge amounts of money have been spent on rockets, weapons, attack tunnels and terror infrastructure at the expense of ordinary Gazans? Could it be that a terrorist organization is capable of gross mismanagement?

Maybe this failure to hold Hamas to account shouldn’t come as a surprise because Loubani isn’t some naive humanitarian guided by inaccurate information. He is actually a political activist previously deported from Israel in 2003 for his activities as part of the International Solidarity Movement.














Khaled Abu Toameh: Arab series depicting Jewish life in Gulf sparks outrage
A new series produced by the Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) about the life of a Jews in the Gulf has sparked outrage in the Arab world.

Critics argue that the series comes in the context of attempts by some Gulf states to promote normalization with Israel.

The controversial series – expected to be broadcast during Ramadan, which begins next week – focuses on the life of a Jewish woman as a social outcast in the Gulf because of her religion.

Renowned Kuwaiti actress Hayat al-Fahad, 71, plays the role of a Jewish midwife and nurse in the series, called Umm Haroun. The woman, of Turkish origin, moves between Iran and Iraq before settling in the Gulf state of Bahrain, where she worked for many years.

Al-Fahad (Arabic for leopard) recently caused outrage by suggesting that expatriates should be deported from Kuwait amid the coronavirus pandemic. She warned that Kuwaiti hospitals could be overwhelmed by foreign nationals suffering from the deadly disease and suggested they should be “sent out” or “put in the desert.”

A promotional video released by MBC says the series deals with the social relations that prevailed between Muslims and Jews in Kuwait during the 1940s. According to some historians, some 200 Jewish families lived in Kuwait during those years.

Directed by Egypt’s Mohammed al-Adl, the series, filmed in the United Arab Emirates, features a number of Kuwaiti and Saudi actors.

The series, titled Life of a Leopard, has angered many Arabs, who are demanding that MBC refrain from broadcasting the series on the pretext that it’s a “form of normalization with the Zionist entity [Israel].” Others have launched an online campaign calling for boycotting the series.

Several critics took to social media to express their outrage over the series, claiming it portrays Jews as suffering from “injustices” in an Arab country.
Bedouin Arabs attack Jewish farmers in Samaria
Bedouin Arabs on Tuesday morning attacked a Jewish farmer near the town of Rimonim, in Samaria's Binyamin Regional Council.

The Jewish farmer, a resident of the town, saw the Arabs approaching and approached to ask what they needed.

IDF forces arriving at the scene detained the Bedouin Arabs and took them for interrogation.

Honenu attorney Moshe Yado called on the authorities to arrest all of the attackers: "Our concern is that that military and the police will not actually arrest all of the Bedouin rioters, and will not stop the bullying and their violent takeover of the area."

"We must arrest all of the attackers, and bring them to justice," he emphasized.
Israel’s President Gives Parliament the Mandate to Form a Government
The Israeli parliament was officially handed the difficult task of forming a coalition government on Thursday, setting the clock for lawmakers to attempt to avert yet another election.

President Reuven Rivlin gave the Knesset the mandate after Benny Gantz, its previous holder and the leader of the Blue and White alliance, failed to form a government before a Wednesday deadline.

“I hope that the Knesset members will be able to form a majority in such a way that a government can be formed as soon as possible, and to prevent a fourth round of elections,” he said in a statement.

Teams from Gantz’s Blue and White party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party are continuing to meet in order to form a “national emergency government,” according to a joint statement.

With the mandate in the Knesset, any lawmaker — including Gantz and Netanyahu — who can gain the support of 61 others in the 120-seat Knesset within 21 days will have two weeks to form a government.

If that fails, Israel will hold its fourth election since April 2019.

According to media reports, one of the main sticking points is Likud’s demand for veto rights on judicial appointments. In addition, an agreement was discussed in which new elections would be held if the Supreme Court denied Netanyahu the prime minister position because of his corruption charges.

Netanyahu is charged with offering political favors to media moguls and wealthy businessmen in return for positive media coverage and expensive gifts, though he has denied any wrongdoing. His trial is set to begin in May, after being postponed due to the coronavirus.
Why was Florida Convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad Member Allowed into Israel?
On February 15th, Hatem Fariz and his brother Hazem found themselves in Lisbon, Portugal, en route to Israel. It had been nearly 14 years since Fariz’s conviction for providing material support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), of which he was a member. He would go on to spend two weeks traveling to various locations inside the Jewish state, including the grave of one of his former alleged PIJ co-conspirators. Fariz was also pulled out of a plane by authorities, on his way home to the States. Question: Why would Israel allow such an individual – a convicted terrorist – into her country, especially when Israel had just warred with PIJ?

Hatem Naji Fariz is the Managing Director of the al-Qassam Mosque a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), located in Temple Terrace, Florida. The mosque was named after Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the man who was the inspiration for the founding of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The individual responsible for the mosque, Sami al-Arian, was a PIJ co-founder who used the Tampa, Florida-area to create a terrorist network for the group, which included a children’s school, American Youth Academy (AYA), that is also still in existence.

In July 2006, Fariz pled guilty in federal court to providing services to associates of PIJ and received a 37-month prison sentence. According to the indictment against him, al-Arian and six others, Fariz “was a PIJ member” and did “conspire… to commit offenses against the United States… by making and receiving contributions of funds, goods, and services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

The indictment further stated that Fariz and al-Arian were part of a PIJ enterprise and that “the enterprise members would and did commit acts of violence, intimidation, and threats against Israel, its inhabitants and others, including murders and suicide bombings, and solicit and cause others to do so, with the intent to drive Israel out of the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and to end any influence of the United States in the Middle East.”

Last month, Fariz and his brother, Hazem, showed up in Israel, the two taking a tour through many parts of the country, including the Palestinian territories. Hazem, the brother, has referred to masked PIJ terrorists as “Gaza heroes.” Fariz recorded onto video much of the tour and uploaded it to Facebook.
Israel said to hit Hezbollah vehicle carrying arms in Syria, near Lebanon border
Israel reportedly carried out a strike Wednesday on a Hezbollah vehicle in Syria, close to the Lebanese border.

Initial reports said a number of Hezbollah terrorists were killed in the strike on a civilian vehicle transporting weaponry from Syria to Lebanon. But later reporting indicated that though several people were injured, none were killed.

Arab media reports said the occupants of the car included a senior Hezbollah operative by the name of Imad Karimi.

Images posted on social media appeared to show a mangled and burnt vehicle.

Neither Hezbollah nor the Israel Defense Forces immediately responded to the reports.

Israel has long maintained that it would not accept the establishment of a permanent military presence in Syria by Hezbollah or Iran, which backs the Lebanese terror group.

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.


Israel to deliver 5,000 medical masks to Jordan to fight coronavirus
Israel plans to deliver 5,000 medical masks to Jordan to help its eastern neighbor combat the novel coronavirus.
The IDF will oversee the delivery of the medical gear, officials said.

On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry reported that a shipment of reagents (chemicals used in lab tests) to conduct 10,000 coronavirus tests landed in Israel from South Korea. The ministry also reported that 100 ventilators arrived from the US.

The IDF collected 24 samples from coronavirus checks held in the Gaza Strip, which will be examined in an army hospital in central Israel.
On Hamas Repression, the NY Times, and Amnesty International
When Hamas arrested Palestinian peace activists last week for their participation in a conference call with Israeli counterparts, the New York Times got scooped by, well, just about everyone.

Times reporters David Halbfinger and Muhammed Najib first mentioned the Zoom call in an April 9 story that made no mention of the arrest earlier that day. Their article briefly referenced the conference call, which had taken place three days earlier, by relaying a joke by one of the Gazan activists:
“In my opinion, thank you, corona, because corona put the Gaza Strip equal with everyone outside,” joked Rami Aman, an activist with the Gaza Youth Committee, on a Zoom call with other Palestinians and Israelis on Monday night.

But by the time Halbfinger shared his article on Twitter around 1 pm eastern time Thursday, Aman was presumably not laughing. He had long been in Hamas custody, having been arrested earlier that morning for what the organization’s officials had characterized as “treason.”

Iyad el Bozom, a Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman, posted on Facebook at 7am eastern time about the arrest, and Aman’s family confirmed he turned himself in that morning in Gaza.

Indeed, it was only one minute after Halbfinger shared his article on Twitter that Adam Rosgun, a correspondent for the Times of Israel, shared a post of his own about the arrest.

And hours before that, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh posted on Twitter, and on the Jerusalem Post, about the detention of the peace activists.
Small but symbolic: US pledges $5 million to help Palestinians cope with virus
After having previously cut all foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, the United States on Thursday pledged a small but symbolic one-time donation to the Palestinians coping with the novel coronavirus.

“We are providing $5 million to fund COVID-19 response in support of immediate, life-saving needs for ​Palestinian hospitals and households in the West Bank for Palestinians battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” an official at the US Embassy in Jerusalem told The Times of Israel.

“The United States is leading the world’s humanitarian and health assistance response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is one element of that broader global effort.”

Washington welcomes the “ongoing exceptional cooperation” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in battling the potentially deadly virus, as well as Jerusalem’s “facilitation of goods and equipment to the West ​Bank and Gaza in support of this effort,” the official added.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he was “very pleased” with the administration’s offered donation. “The USA, as the world’s top humanitarian aid donor, is committed to assisting the Palestinian people, & others worldwide, in this crisis,” he tweeted.
Palestinians: Don't Believe UNRWA, They Are Not Helping
Those considering donating to UNRWA ought first to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are accusing the UN agency of negligence and failing to fulfill its promises to help the Palestinians battle the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese human rights activist Riad Issa alleged that UNRWA has for years failed to assist the Palestinian refugees, and that the problem did not begin with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. "The crisis is not related to lack of funding," he said. "Palestinians have been complaining about UNRWA's lack of services for many years."

If the Palestinians are saying that UNRWA hasn't been helping them for years, why are the agency's heads appealing to donors for urgent financial aid?

The Palestinian public is trapped: Arabs appear to care nothing for their Palestinian brothers, while UNRWA appears to care only about collecting funds to pay the salaries of its managers and workers.
PMW: Despite COVID-19 crisis, Fatah's message that all of Israel is "Palestine" is as strong as ever
Never missing an opportunity to deny Israel's right to exist, Abbas’ Fatah Movement exploited the current Coronavirus crisis to pound home its message to Palestinians that all of Israel is “Palestine.” The following images – showing the PA’s map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel as “Palestine” together with the PA areas – were all included in a video with a Coronavirus song posted by Fatah on Facebook.

The image above of a man in a medical gown and hood wearing a mask and gloves embracing “Palestine” appeared with the following text on the screen:
“Stay at home so we can protect the homeland”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, April 5, 2020]


The PA map of “Palestine” is formed by a group of people, and above it the Palestinian flag. To the right of the flag is a warning sign with a biohazard symbol and the word “Coronavirus” in English.
Text on screen: “Stay in your small home for the sake of your large home – Palestine”

The PA map of “Palestine” is depicted with arms embracing it. In the upper left corner is the Palestinian flag and Fatah’s logo. The yellow text is a line from the Coronavirus song: “He hides and knows that he has been infected with Corona.”
Text on screen: “Stay at home for your sake, for the sake of those you love, for the sake of Palestine”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas slams Lebanese cartoon for ‘likening’ Palestinians to coronavirus
Did the Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria liken Palestinians to the coronavirus pandemic?

A cartoon published by the newspaper on April 15 to mark the 45th anniversary of the civil war in Lebanon features a portrait of a man whose face is covered with a keffiyeh headdress next to an image of the virus.

The keffiyeh has long been considered a symbol of Palestinian nationalism.

The portrait of the keffiyeh-clad man carries the date April 13, 1975, reference to the anniversary of the civil war in Lebanon.

The cartoon was interpreted by Hamas as an attempt to hold Palestinians responsible for the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1990, and which resulted in the death of some 120,000 people.

Hamas expressed outrage over the “harmful” cartoon, dubbing it “racist, hateful and unethical.”


Palestinians instructed to pray at home during Ramadan
Palestinian Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Hussein announced on Wednesday that Muslims must hold prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan at home and not in mosques, to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mosques in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been closed since the outbreak of the virus last month.

“The taraweeh prayers will be held at home, because reopening the mosques is linked to the end of the coronavirus crisis,” Hussein said, referring to the daily ritual prayers performed by Muslims at night during Ramadan, which begins next week.

The mufti also ruled that due to the pandemic, Palestinians will not be required to look at the night sky for the slight crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the next month.

The Islamic calendar is lunar-based, with each month coinciding with the phases of the moon and lasting either 29 or 30 days. Traditionally, Muslims mark the beginning of an Islamic month by looking for the crescent moon.

Hussein said that the task of watching for the crescent moon would be limited to religious clerics and the Palestinian Astronomers Association.
The announcement came two days after Saudi Arabia also announced the suspension of the Ramadan prayers.
Hamas-affiliated Humat al Aqsa promotes its joint military operations with Gaza’s militant groups
Humat al Aqsa (HAA), a Gaza-based group that has long been suspected of being founded, directed and funded by senior Hamas political leader Fathi Hamad, recently promoted joint military operations with militant groups in the Gaza Strip on its social networking platforms.

HAA was established in April 2006, one year before Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from its rival Fatah.

Hamad’s involvement stemmed from a June 2011 indictment against a member of the group said “the offshoot enjoyed funding directed by no other than Fathi Hamad – Hamas’ interior minister in Gaza – who is known to be closely affiliated with the group’s military wing.”

Humat al Aqsa and al Qassam Brigades’ 2008 operation

In recent social media posts, the group touted its joint operations with Hamas’ military wing, al Qassam Brigades. The most notable being an April 2008 operation against Israel’s former security minister Avi Dichter whose convoy was attacked while it traveled near the Gaza border.

On the April 8 anniversary of the attack, HAA published a video releasing the name of one of the attackers of the convoy, Abdullah Hassan al Za’aneen, who was later killed after being targeted by an IDF drone in 2012.

Additionally, HAA revealed the role of Hamas’ late military chief Ahmed Jabari in the 2008 attack.

“We do not forget the great role of the martyr commander, Ahmed al Jabari, who blessed and contributed to the support of the operation, and who praised the performance of the martyr al Za’aneen, who executed the operation with courage,” the statement read.

The attack failed to hurt Dichter but was successful at showcasing the group’s intelligence capability in locating where Dichter would be on the day of the attack.




Iranian Vessels Come Dangerously Close to U.S. Military Ships
Eleven vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, calling the moves "dangerous and provocative."

While such interactions had occurred occasionally a few years ago, they had stopped in recent years, and this incident comes at a time of increased tensions between the two countries.

According to the statement, the Iranian vessels approached six U.S. military ships while they were conducting integration operations with Army helicopters in international waters.

At one point, the Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui.

The U.S. ships issued several warnings through bridge-to-bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices.

The Iranian ships left after about an hour, the statement added.

There was no mention of the incident in Iranian media.

"The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, (and) were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea," the U.S. military’s statement said.

Tensions between Iran and the United States increased earlier this year after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in a drone strike in Iraq.

Iran retaliated on Jan. 8 with a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain al-Asad base where U.S. forces were stationed. No U.S. troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury, but more than 100 were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.

Earlier this month President Donald Trump said that Iran or its proxies planned a sneak attack on U.S. targets in Iraq, and warned they would pay a "very heavy price."


U.S. to Block Iran Receiving $1.6 Billion From ‘Victory’ Over 9/11 Victims
The Trump administration has received guarantees Iran will not repatriate some $1.6 billion related to Tehran's recent "legal victory" against American terror victims.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani claimed during the weekend that a Luxembourg court had freed $1.6 billion in frozen assets to be sent back to Iran. The money has long been sought as compensation by American victims of Iran-backed terror attacks. Victims of the 9/11 attacks and the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon, among others, have argued that the regime owes compensation for sponsoring the attacks.

Senior Trump administration officials told the Washington Free Beacon the United States has "received assurances that the funds continue to be frozen and will not be transferred to Iran at this time."

The money is being closely watched in light of the Trump administration's decision in February to waive sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) so it could access cash for "humanitarian purposes" amid the coronavirus pandemic. Potentially billions in hard currency are now available to the regime, which continues to spend its cash reserves on regional terror operations instead of its citizens' medical needs.

Senior State Department officials said they are working to block any transfer of this money, which has been frozen in Luxembourg bank accounts pending an outcome by the European nation's courts.

"The Luxembourg district court states the decision is not final and is subject to appeal," the senior State Department official told the Free Beacon. "Contrary to regime propaganda, these funds have not been sent to Iran. On April 3, the vice president to the Luxembourg district court issued a prohibition on the asset transfer. The United States will continue to use all possible means to ensure that these funds in Luxembourg are not released."
Iranian general mocked for showcasing 'corona detector'
On Wednesday Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader, General Hossein Salami revealed a device that, he claimed, was capable of identifying COVID-19 coronavirus cases within a 100 meter (328 ft.) radius.

According to the general, the device is a product of scientists with the Basij militias. Instead of taking any sort of samples for analysis, it supposedly relies on a "magnetic field" and "polarized viruses" to detect the disease en mass with 80% precision. Salami added that it would go into mass production when the Health Ministry licensed it.

The hand-held instrument that he demonstrated on camera looked like a device that Iranian forces supposedly use to search for smuggled fuel during vessel check-ups, Radio Farda reported.

The UK's Independent noted it also looked similar to a fake bomb detector – like those that British fraudster James McCormick sold to Iraqi forces.

The grand unveiling was not lost on Iranian social media users, who ridiculed the device online. With "polarized" also standing for "bipolar" in Persian, some wondered if the virus supposedly used in the device was prone to dramatic mood swings.

The news came after a research center with Iran's parliament released a report suggesting a massive cover-up of the true statistics on the outbreak in the country.

The latest official figures that Tehran has released put the death toll at 4,777, with almost 80,000 confirmed cases.


Iran arrests ex-TV presenter for accusing regime of coronavirus cover-up
The security forces for the Islamic Republic of Iran arrested a former TV presenter, Mahmoud Shahriari on Wednesday because he alleged the regime engaged in a cover-up about the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Shahriari was arrested for "disseminating false news about the novel coronavirus outbreak in Iran,” the Iranian-regime controlled Young Journalists Club (YJC) said.

Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, first reported outside of Iran on Wednesday about the arrest, citing the YJC outlet—a news agency run by the state-controlled Radio and TV network (IRIB).

Radio Farda wrote that “Shahriari had accused the government of initially covering up the spread of the virus not to discourage people from participating in the state-run ceremonies, celebrating the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic on February 11.”

The news outlet said that “He had also made fun of the clerics who dominate Iran on social media for their inactivity and lethargy.”

"We have been in quarantine for a month, only eating and sleeping... Poor clergy! What a hardship they have endured in the past forty years", Shahriari said, in a mocking, sarcastic tone about the mullahs who control the country.
German cultural festival director urged to be fired for BDS antisemitism
Uwe Becker, the commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism in Germany, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the director of the Ruhrtriennale music and cultural festival should be dismissed for providing a platform for Israel-related antisemitism.

"Once again, the director of the Ruhrtriennale Stefanie Carp sets an anti-Israel accent and stages the defamation of the Jewish state in the guise of freedom of art and expression,” said Becker.

He added that ”Obviously Ms. Carp not only has a problem with Israel but also deliberately provides a large platform for Israel-related antisemitism. Once again, she is abusing the framework of a publicly funded festival for antisemitic enemy images toward Israel.”

Becker, who is also president of the pro-Israel NGO, the German-Israel friendship society, said “Ms. Carp should be discharged from her duties and Prof. Achille Mbembe should be disinvited from the event."

Becker’s statement is the first call for Carp’s dismissal in a widening anti-Israel scandal involving her no holds barred defense of Mbembe, who has been accused of antisemitism and trivializing the Holocaust.

Mbembe signed a petition supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.

In 2018, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the festival is located, in a parliamentary resolution, banned public funds for institutions that provide BDS activists a platform and labeled BDS antismeitic.. The Ruhrtriennale receives public money.
UC Irvine Student Senate repeals BDS resolution
The University of California, Irvine, student senate has voted to repeal a 2012 resolution calling for the university to divest from companies conducting business with Israel. The vote was held on March 31, leading to the resolution's appeal in a vote of 15-6-2 in favor. This took place despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and closures of most educational institutions in the United states.

The resolution to appeal was passed by the student senate declared that the original BDS resolution R48-15 has established a hostile environment for Jewish students on campus and that the use of the terms 'apartheid' in reference to Israeli policies is akin to a 'Blood Libel." It also denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “contrary to the foundational ideals of Higher Education and thus the values of the UC.”

The Associated Students of UC Irvine (ASUCI) Senator Marshall H. Roe, a Jewish student and Navy veteran, said that the BDS movement “created a noxious atmosphere" on campus.

“I believe that embracing neutrality on this matter and thus repealing R48-15 would dispel the noxious atmosphere and create neutrality on campus, a neutrality that would foster an environment of reconciliation rather than rancor,” Roe added.

Roe also noted that the Pro-Palestinian organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) engaged in an intimidation and threat campaign against him and others. In one incident, members of SJP screamed at members of UC Irvine's Hillel outside a coffee shop.


Anne Frank memorial desecrated days before Holocaust Memorial Day
On the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday, a tree planted to honor the memory of Anne Frank in Coeur d'Alene Idaho was desecrated and in the German town of Immenstadt im Allgäu a slur against “yahudis”was spray-painted, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) reported on Thursday in a press release.

WZO Vice Chairman Yaakov Hagoel said that “incitement against Jews is growing every year” and that “Jews live in fear and hide their identity.”

He added that WZO demands that governments around the world will increase their efforts to fight antisemitism and that “we at the WZO will offer any help needed” to fight such incidents.
The lessons of Bergen-Belsen remain unlearned
On April 15, the world will be marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

More than 50,000 prisoners, mainly Jews, died there – of starvation, overwork, disease or following gruesome medical experiments. Anne Frank was probably the most famous victim. She and her sister perished of typhus in the camp just one month before liberation.

Among the prisoners liberated on that glorious day in April were several hundred Libyan Jews, deported to Bergen-Belsen via Italy. A photo exists of these survivors, dangling their legs out of a railway carriage on which they had scrawled, “Going home” and “Back to Tripoli.”

According to The Jews of Libya by Professor Maurice Roumani, some 870 out of the 2,000 Jews in Libya with British passports were deported to Italy as part of the “sfollamento” policy to send away foreign nationals. Members of the same family could be dispersed to Morocco, Tunisia or Algeria – then under pro-Nazi, Vichy French control.

Two transports of 300 Jews, and another 120, were shipped from Libya to Naples on cargo trains to Bergen-Belsen and arrived on May 25, 1944. Jews arriving from Libya in Bologna were taken by train to Innsbruck- Reichenau, part of the Dachau camp system, in July 1943.

Reaching Bergen-Belsen relatively late in the war, the Libyan Jews survived. Some were exchanged for German POWs. They received packages from the Red Cross and obtained some relief in their working conditions. They even managed to keep kosher, exchanging cooked food for dry bread. One Jew, Zion Labi from Benghazi, started a school.
Germany marks liberation of Bergen-Belsen Nazi camp as memorial event canceled
Germany held a minute’s silence on Wednesday to mark 75 years since the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp was liberated, after planned commemorations were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephan Weil, Lower Saxony state premier, called on residents to observe the silence to remember the liberation on April 15, 1945, urging them to set aside “all of our current worries.”

More than 50,000 people died at the Bergen-Belsen camp, including the diarist Anne Frank, whose accounts of the Holocaust have become a symbol of the suffering inflicted by the Nazis during World War II.

Commemorative events originally planned for Sunday have been postponed to April 2021 and the memorial site to the camp is closed because of restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Some of the planned speeches are now to be delivered online.

“For us in Lower Saxony, Bergen-Belsen is the place that shows us the cruelty and mercilessness of the darkest part of our history,” Weil said.

Jens-Christian Wagner, head of Lower Saxony’s memorial foundation, told Bavarian Radio that the cancellation of the memorial event was a “very, very big disappointment” for survivors of the camp, who had been planning to travel to Germany from around the world.

Bergen-Belsen was one of the first concentration camps to be liberated by the Western Allies, who arrived to find it riddled with disease and about 10,000 unburied corpses.

Those held at the camp included Jews as well as prisoners of war, homosexuals and political opponents.
Auschwitz online: Raising Holocaust awareness in the digital age
Every day, Pawel Sawicki, head of social media at the Auschwitz Museum, posts several photos of victims of the former Nazi German death camp on a Twitter account that has become a powerful tool in Holocaust education.

A recent post to the account, which has a million followers, featured a photo of a baby girl in a knitted woolen dress, adorned with a large white collar.

“8 April 1940 | French Jewish girl Jacqueline Benguigui was born in #Paris. She arrived at #Auschwitz on 25 June 1943 in a transport of 1,018 Jews deported from Drancy. She was among 418 people murdered in a gas chamber after the selection,” reads the caption.

“We show people on their birthday and provide biographical information,” Sawicki told AFP.

“It’s important for us to show the fates of individuals because it is sometimes difficult to fathom the scale of the crime.”

This year marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Nazi Germany’s most notorious twin death camp where over 1.1 million people, mostly European Jews, were killed.

Created by the Germans in the southern town of Oswiecim in 1940, in what was then occupied Poland, it has come to symbolize the murder of six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Using social media, the museum hopes to teach a wider audience about the horrors of the genocide, especially as there are ever fewer survivors able to offer testimony.
World Jewish Congress releases videos ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day
The World Jewish Congress (WJC), in light of Holocaust Memorial Day events being postponed worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, has releaased numerous video clips and films relating to the Holocaust for the public to watch online.

These include video clips of Holocaust Memorial addresses, survivor testimonies, and more.

The project was created in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) so as to provide people, particularly a younger audience, with basic facts about the Holocaust.

The videos offered include the final testimony of Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Rachmil (Ralph) Hakman as well as WJC President Ronald Lauder's speech at the Death Gate of Birkenau in the ceremony hosted there in January.

"Yom Hashoah [Holocaust Memorial Day] is the day set aside on the Jewish calendar to remember and mourn the six million Jewish lives that were destroyed in the Holocaust, to honor the bravery and resilience of those whos urvived, and to ensure that the terrors of the past do not become the future," said Lauder. "In this time of isolation, it is especially imperative that we come together to share the stories of Holocaust survivors and to further disseminate Holocaust education to ensure that never again really means never again."
A conversation with Aron Bielski, last of the Bielski brothers
Aron Bielski is the youngest and last living member of the Bielski brigade, which he founded along with three of his brothers. Their activities have become widely known as one of the largest partisan groups that rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

He was born on July 21, 1927, into the family of David and Beila Bielski, who had 10 sons and two daughters, in what is today Belarus. According to Aron Bielski, they were the only known Jewish family in the Belarusian village of Stankiewicze. His parents and two of his brothers, Yankel and Avraham, were killed by the Nazis and buried in a mass grave on Dec. 5, 1941.

The story of the Bielski brigade—led by the brothers—that fought Nazis and other pro-German forces while rescuing escapees from their grips has been written about over the years in a number of books, as well as portrayed in the 2008 feature film “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber (George MacKay played Aron).

After World War II and the Holocaust, during which his brothers saved more than 1,200 Jews, Aron Bielski moved to British Mandate Palestine and served in Israel’s army during the 1948 War of Independence.

He then moved to the United States, where his brothers and the rest of the family lived, changing his name to “Bell.” He and his first wife, Judith, had three children.

Today, Bielski, 92 and the grandfather of 12, lives in Florida with his wife Henryka, 80, who was born in Poland in 1939 and is also a survivor.



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