Thursday, April 30, 2020

From Ian:

3 more virus deaths bring toll to 222, as daily infections continue to drop off
The Health Ministry on Thursday evening said the country’s death toll from the novel coronavirus has climbed to 222 — three additional fatalities since the morning.

The overall number of cases rose to 15,946, up just 112 in 24 hours as the downturn in infections persisted.

Meanwhile, the gap between the number of recovered patients and active cases continued to grow, with the number of recovered patients rising to 8,561 — an increase of 328 over the previous 24 hours.

According to the health data, 105 people are currently in serious condition with COVID-19, 82 of them on ventilators. Another 79 are in moderate condition, while the vast majority (6,979) of the active cases are displaying mild symptoms.

There was no immediate information available on the latest three deaths.

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with only dozens of new cases being reported every 12 hours, and the government has announced steps to ease restrictions on businesses and travel.
How the Chimera of a “Palestinian Right of Return” Makes Peace Impossible
A review of The War of Return by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf, All Points Books (April 2020) 304 pages

In a story that may be apocryphal, the late Christopher Hitchens claimed that he had once seen legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban comment that the most striking aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict is how easily it can be solved: It is simply a matter of dividing the land of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The only thing standing in the way of this solution is the intense religious or nationalist attachment of both sides to the idea of an undivided nation between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, this assumption that partition alone can bring peace has been the foundation of all of the international community’s peace efforts since the 1967 Six Day War. The only difficulty, it is believed, is persuading the two sides to agree to it.

Not so, argue former Israeli Knesset Member Einat Wilf and journalist Adi Schwartz in their new book The War of Return. What actually lies at the heart of the conflict, they say, is the Palestinian assertion of a “right of return.” Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled from what became the State of Israel after its War of Independence, and the persistent demand that they and their descendants be allowed to return constitutes a refusal to accept a Jewish state on any part of the former mandate. For decades, the Palestinian national movement has insisted on the return of the Arab refugees, and for just as long, Israel has seen this demand as an existential threat that would immediately turn Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics. And it is this, Wilf and Schwartz say, that has rendered all peace initiatives futile. As Henry Kissinger once said, the minimum concessions that the Arabs demand are greater than the maximum Israel is willing to concede.

“Our research revealed that the Palestinian refugee issue is not just one more issue in the conflict; it is probably the issue,” Wilf and Schwartz assert. “The Palestinian conception of themselves as ‘refugees from Palestine,’ and their demand to exercise a so-called right of return, reflect the Palestinians’ most profound beliefs about their relationship with the land and their willingness or lack thereof to share any part of it with Jews.” As such, they say, the refugee issue has become “a nearly insurmountable obstacle to peace.”

In The War of Return, Wilf and Schwartz trace the convoluted history of the refugee issue and its centrality to Palestinian nationalist ideology, from its origins in 1948 through decades of war and peace efforts to the current stalemate between the two parties to the conflict. Along the way, they reveal much that has been misrepresented, deliberately concealed, and often consciously distorted throughout the long struggle over this tiny piece of emotionally fraught real estate. Presented with such evidence, and despite some innovative suggestions as to a solution, their conclusions, while often revelatory and convincing, are regrettably more than a little depressing.
The Tikvah Podcast: Matti Friedman: The End of the Israeli Left?
Have you ever seen the old murals that decorate the walls of Israel’s historic kibbutzim? They often feature young, brawny Jewish men and women working and plowing the land. They evoke the pioneering spirit of early Zionism: glorifying the mixing of sweat and soil, focused on what Hebrew labor could achieve through cooperation and collective action, and strikingly statist, even socialist. These murals are, in fact, a stark reminder that the Jewish state was founded in large part by Labor Zionists, and that the Israeli Left once dominated the country’s politics. Things have changed a great deal over the past 72 years. Israel is now a nation with a strong conservative consensus. The Labor Party of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir—the political organization that erected the governing structures of the country—has been reduced to a mere three seats in the 23rd Knesset. And a poll conducted earlier this month shows that if elections were to be held right now, the party that dominated Israeli politics for decades would not win a single seat in the next Knesset.

What happened? And what does Labor’s decline tell us about contemporary Israel? Earlier this week, the journalist and author Matti Friedman wrote a piece in the New York Times examining “The Last Remnants of the Israeli Left.” In this podcast, he joins host Jonathan Silver to discuss the history and precipitous decline of socialist politics in Israel.

Trump Praises ‘Spirit and Resiliency’ of Jews, at Start of Jewish American Heritage Month
US President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Wednesday ahead of the start of Jewish American Heritage Month.

Trump stated, “In 1654, the first Jewish settlers arrived in New Amsterdam, present day New York City, seeking the freedom to practice their faith. In the centuries since, Jewish Americans have contributed in countless ways to our country’s culture and character. From the arts and sciences to business and public service, nearly every facet of our society has benefitted from the talent, inspiration, vision, expertise, ingenuity, and sacrifice of Jewish Americans. We honor their spirit and resiliency during Jewish American Heritage Month and celebrate the myriad of ways they enrich our country and the world.”

He continued:
“Throughout history, the Jewish people have demonstrated an unbreakable spirit, overcoming suffering, cruel oppression, violence, and bigotry. Tragically, Jewish men, women, and children continue to face anti-Semitic discrimination, persecution, and violence today, and Jewish institutions and places of worship remain targets of vandalism and destruction. Our country has wept too many times in the aftermaths of horrific attacks, including last April when a murderer opened fire in a synagogue in Poway, California, taking innocent life and shattering families in a cowardly display of evil. Such unconscionable acts are an abomination to all decent and compassionate people. Hatred is intolerable and has no place in our hearts or in our society. We must therefore vigorously confront anti-Semitic discrimination and violence against members of the Jewish community. That is why I signed an Executive Order last December, bolstering my Administration’s efforts to combat the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and build a culture of respect, humanity, and equality.”

“This month, we reaffirm our commitment to never compromise our steadfast support for the Jewish community, our rejection of anti-Semitic bigotry, and our disdain for malicious attacks of hatred. Jewish Americans strengthen, sustain, and inspire our country through dedication to family, respect for cherished traditions, and commitment to the values of justice and equality that unite Americans of every faith and background. We give thanks for the profound contributions that Jewish Americans continue to make to our society, and way of life.”
Marking Jewish American Heritage Month, Trump vows to confront anti-Semitism
US President Donald Trump reiterated his rejection of anti-Semitic bigotry and hate attacks in a proclamation for Jewish American Heritage Month.

“Tragically, Jewish men, women, and children continue to face anti-Semitic discrimination, persecution, and violence today, and Jewish institutions and places of worship remain targets of vandalism and destruction,” Trump wrote for the commemoration in May. “Such unconscionable acts are an abomination to all decent and compassionate people. Hatred is intolerable and has no place in our hearts or in our society. We must therefore vigorously confront anti-Semitic discrimination and violence against members of the Jewish community.”

The US president touted his executive order on anti-Semitism issued in December that directs “robust” enforcement of existing civil rights protections for Jews on college campuses under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The order, which garnered controversy, says attackers target Jews because they perceive them to be a race or having a shared national identity.

Trump also stressed his administration’s ongoing “efforts to combat racist and anti-Semitic discrimination,” and highlighted his executive order earlier this month in his Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation.

He also praised the American Jewish community, writing that “Jewish Americans strengthen, sustain, and inspire our country through dedication to family, respect for cherished traditions, and commitment to the values of justice and equality that unite Americans of every faith and background. We give thanks for the profound contributions that Jewish Americans continue to make to our society, and way of life.”
Senator Ted Cruz: 'Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies'
The Jewish Institute of National Security for America (JINSA) held a phone conference with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday to discuss further US-Israel cooperation in fighting the coronavirus pandemic in their respective countries together.

In order to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Israel, and to limit the dependence the US has on China, Cruz introduced new legislation that will appropriate $12 million “for investments in joint medical research with the United States and Israel... with an emphasis on collaboratively advancing the use of technology in the fight against COVID-19."

The coronavirus pandemic has displayed “the malevolent behavior of the communist government of China and the incredible dependence the United States has for our supply chain on China,” Cruz said during the briefing.

The Chinese government has been branded for their lack of transparency throughout the pandemic, beginning with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. The government initially downplayed the extent of the spread within their country in order to stave off the negative economic effects and travel bans that were to come with the viral spread - allegedly reporting false figures purposefully to the World Health Organization in the process - apathetic to worldwide public health implications.

With regard to US foreign policy concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cruz is recommending that the United States government keep their foots on the necks of the Iranian regime and continue to implement the "maximum economic and diplomatic pressure" strategy on Iran even throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to hopefully lead to a regime change within the country.

“It should be maximum pressure hopefully that results in regime change, that results in this regime collapsing," the the Senator stated. "[The US must be] unequivocally clear that under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and the United States will do whatever is necessary to prevent that. [This] is the single most important thing we can do to continue to strengthen our friendship and alliance with Israel."

UN Envoys Reveal What They Like Most About Israel as It Celebrates Independence Day
UN ambassadors from around the world expressed well-wishes to Israel in a video published on Tuesday as it began its Independence Day celebrations.

“In our 72 years, the Israeli spirit has developed a strong and prosperous country, which has also become a significant and influential force in the family of nations,” Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon stated. “The words of the UN ambassadors in this video only reinforces this.”

US Ambassador Kelly Craft said in her appearance on the video, “There are so many things to love about Israel, from its innovation to its rich history and culture. But what I really love is the spirit of its people. A people who persevere in the face of struggle.”

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said, “There have been ups and downs in our relationship, but I’m glad that now our relations enjoy not only pragmatism, but friendship and mutual sympathy.”

Representatives of nations in Africa, Europe and South America also took part in the video.

Jonathan Tobin: Mourning all victims is right; moral equivalence is not
While civilians have died on both sides of the conflict, the notion that the two sides are morally equivalent fails to take into account the fact that Palestinians who attack Israelis target civilians, while the Israel Defense Forces try hard to avoid civilian casualties that are generated because terrorists use human shields.

The “both sides are to blame” narrative also ignores the way that the two societies regard those who commit acts of terrorism. The teenager held responsible for Aisha al-Rabi’s death was prosecuted. The same is true of three Israelis (serving long prison sentences for their crime and held in contempt by the country) who murdered a Palestinian boy in July 2014 in revenge for the gruesome murder of three Israeli teenage boys several weeks beforehand, who were kidnapped by Palestinians while walking home from school.

By contrast, the Palestinian Authority continues to honor terrorists. Just last week, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Fatah movement honored the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre on the anniversaries of their deaths. Similarly, those Palestinians who maim and kill Israelis in terror attacks continue to receive pensions and salaries from the P.A. as a reward for their crimes.

No one has the right to tell any Israeli family how to honor its loved ones, and if some reach out to bereaved Palestinian families in the hope of promoting peace, we must all hope they succeed.

But the contrast between the large Israeli peace movement and the almost non-existent Palestinian peace movement is telling. Palestinians consider their compatriots who support dialogue with Israel as “traitors” working to “normalize” the Jewish state (and terrorists are “martyrs” dying for the cause). The Gaza resident who organized a cooperative Zoom meeting between Palestinians and Israelis earlier this month was arrested by Hamas and hasn’t been seen alive since then. The fact that he was turned in by a Palestinian journalist who has worked for Amnesty International makes it all the more obvious that there is no comparison between the way the two societies think about peace.

We should mourn all victims of senseless violence, be they Jews, Arabs or any other people. But we should be wary of efforts to establish a false analogy between those who died to save Jewish lives and those whose purpose was to spill Jewish blood.
Lipstadt Details Anti-Semitism During Pandemic
Offering a sneak peek of what she will discuss today, Lipstadt said, “It’s been a little over a year since my book came out. How have things changed, how have things stayed the same?” Plus, she said she’d explore anti-Semitism during COVID-19. “It hasn’t gone away because of the virus. What are we seeing now? It will be a very up-to-date kind of conversation.”

Lipstadt said she has seen expressions of anti-Semitism during the health crisis. “Are we surprised? How come those protesting during the pandemic are using anti-Semitic imagery?”

This is not the first time anti-Semites have used a pandemic to spew hatred, she said. During the Middle Ages, anti-Semites blamed Jews for the black plague, also called the black death or bubonic plague. “Jews had nothing to do with the black plague,” Lipstadt said. “There is a connection between classic anti-Semitism and some of the things we see with the pandemic. They are not unrelated. The world thinks it has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s a disease. But anti-Semites often have associated it with Jews. Nazis also often said Jews spread disease.”

She added that “anti-Semitism never rests.”

The virtual program today, part of the national museum’s weekly Facebook Live series, will also include how to respond to anti-Semitism “as individuals and as a society,” the museum noted in its press release on the event.

“From the vicious antisemitic attack in a synagogue in Poway, California, to the violent medieval antisemitic rituals on the streets of Pruchnik, Poland, the world has seen a surge in antisemitism. It continues to increase during the current pandemic and its accompanying isolation, fear, economic insecurity and increased reliance on the internet for information and interaction with others,” Lisa Leff, director of the museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, said in the prepared statement.
MEMRI: Syrian Author: While The Rest Of The World Sanctifies Life, We Arabs Sanctify Death
In an article in the weekly Enab Baladi, identified with the Syrian opposition, author and journalist Khatib Badla harshly condemned the sanctification of death in Arab society. The Arab leaders, he said, have long been cultivating the ancient Islamic concept of shahada (martyrdom) and encouraging their people to die for the regime, while other governments in the world have sanctifed life and promoted the security and wellbeing of their citizens. He added that the Arab culture of death leads only to ruin and destruction, and wondered if a day will ever come when the Arabs finally embrace the culture of life.

The following are translated excerpts from his article: [1]
"Our [source of] hope is death. The life-loving nations deserve our appreciation and affection. The governments and national institutions in their countries work night and day to provide them with security, dignity and wellbeing, so they can get the most out of life, and if a citizen is close to death, [the authorities] will mobilize and do everything they can to prolong his life, if only for a couple more hours…

"Conversely, we [Arabs] have a trait that distinguishes us from all the other peoples of the world, which is a love of death. We dream of it, regard it as a source of inspiration and think about it every day. We love death and love the dead. Instead of hoping for longevity, for [a life of] giving and loving, we say, with defeatism… 'God, [help me] go to battle and reach my grave. This is in addition to the grand slogans we [like to chant], such as: 'death to America,' 'better death than humiliation' and 'seek death and you shall be given life [in the next world]'…

"For generations, the Arab leaders have encouraged their people to die, their hidden slogan being 'die for me.' To that end, they appropriated the concept of martyrdom from the scriptures, and started to rebuild it, emulate it and beautify it, so as to adapt it to their place and time. For example, Hafez Al-Assad, one [of the greatest] criminals in history, whose religion consisted of [sanctifying] the intelligence [apparatuses], torture, murder, destruction and usurpation, hid behind Islam and appropriated the Islamic concept of martyrdom in order to place it on the top of his regime's agenda…
Researchers say Vatican archives show pope Pius XII knew of WWII killing of Jews
Researchers studying the newly opened Vatican archives of pope Pius XII have already found evidence that the World War II-era pope knew about the mass killing of Jews from his own sources but kept it from the US government, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing interviews with German scholars.

The archives were opened March 2, but closed soon after due to the coronavirus crisis. Many of the 200 scholars who had applied for access delayed their trips. However, a German team lead by award-winning religious historian Hubert Wolf from the University of Münster made a start and has already found some damning discoveries.

Some Jewish groups and historians have said Pius, who was pope from 1939 to 1958, stayed silent during the Holocaust and didn’t do enough to save lives. His defenders at the Vatican and beyond say he used quiet diplomacy and encouraged convents and other religious institutes to hide Jews.

Wolf last week told Kirche + Leben, a Catholic weekly in Münster, that his team found documents that were excluded from the 11-volume work compiled by Jesuits on the Holocaust four decades ago, apparently to protect Pius and his image.

In September 1942, A US diplomat gave the Vatican a secret report prepared by the Jewish Agency that documented the mass murder of some 100,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. It also said some 50,000 Jews were killed in Lviv in German-occupied Ukraine.

The US asked if the Vatican could confirm the report from its own sources among Catholics, but were told the Vatican could not.
Remembering Elie Kedourie: How One Analyst Spoke Truth to Power in the Middle East
EVER SINCE the nineteenth century, when so-called reforms were initiated in the Ottoman Empire, there have not been wanting western ministers and diplomats to look on middle eastern politics with hope and expectancy. It is quite common knowledge that in the last hundred years the middle east has seen no quiet, that disturbance has succeeded disturbance … It might therefore seem more prudent to assume that the distemper of the modern east is not a passing one, that its political instability is rather the outcome of a deep social … crisis which the schemes of the reformer … can scarcely assuage or mollify. And yet … [t]he prevalent fashion has been to proclaim the latest revolution as the herald of a new day…

It goes on like that for almost four hundred more pages, in which every detail of political turmoil in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, and every Western failure there since the late Ottoman Empire to the middle-Cold War years, is excruciatingly recounted, almost day by day, with virtually every large-scale cruelty established, with little respite, so that all the violence and turbulence achieves a thick, undeniable reality that no idealism or social science theory can ameliorate; with the only solution to anarchy appearing to be strong, no-nonsense rule: whether by a local dictator or by an imperial power. The writer, Elie Kedourie, who passed away in 1992, published The Chatham House Version and Other Middle-Eastern Studies—perhaps the most challenging, dissident work of area studies in the twentieth century—exactly fifty years ago. Chatham House, or the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and its director of studies for three decades, Arnold Toynbee, become in Kedourie’s book illustrative of an elitist British sentimentality toward the cultures of the Middle East (and to Arab nationalism in particular) that hid from, rather than faced up to, the impure, realist requirements of politics and necessary force.

But Elie Kedourie’s merciless precision as a slayer of cant and formulaic thinking constitutes much more than a switchblade attack on polite, conventional wisdom about the Middle East. Kedourie, who spoke English, French, and Arabic, was an area specialist to compare with the greatest Arabists and foreign correspondents. But unlike most area specialists, he wrote without sympathy for his subjects, and deliberately so, and at the same time intuitively grasped the subtleties and abstractions of intellectual argument which his writing ignited. Kedourie was an intellectual with a deep historical memory. He forgot nothing. He was equipped with the knowledge base of a reporter—that is, he revered facts on the ground going back decades as a way to refute all theory. This combination of skills, as we shall see, gave him the clairvoyance of a Samuel Huntington. Most significantly, he had an old world integrity that is awe-inspiring in this age of rampant credentialism. At twenty-eight, in 1954, he turned down a doctorate from St. Antony’s College, Oxford, because he would not make changes about a Mesopotamian revolt in his thesis to appease one of his examiners, the legendary Orientalist Sir Hamilton Gibb.

Kedourie was a shy, retiring man with backbone. “A short, wintry smile from him was the equivalent of a warm embrace or a slap on the back from many others,” recalls Martin Sieff, former chief news analyst for United Press International. He didn’t socialize with his students at the London School of Economics. In an age of sly operators with media strategies, who appear on television and master the art of soundbites, he communicated almost exclusively through text. Only by reading him at length could one know how he has politely decimated, with a “potent and lucid” style, all manner of “leftist theory” and social science belief about the Middle East, writes Martin Kramer, founding president of the Shalem College in Jerusalem.
Why Was Boris Johnson’s Ottoman Great-Grandfather Murdered?
On April 10, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom, informing him that Turkey “would like to welcome you in our country, which is your ancestral land.”

It is true that the Ottoman Empire, Turkey’s predecessor, is where Johnson’s paternal great-grandfather, Ali Kemal, was born. It is also where he was brutally murdered by Turkish nationalists in 1922 for wanting to bring to account the perpetrators of the 1915 Armenian genocide, and for criticizing the nationalist movement that would establish the Turkish Republic in 1923.

However, Turkey is denying the history behind the persecution and lynching of Kemal — just like it still denies the genocide itself.

Ali Kemal was a leading Ottoman journalist, editor, poet, novelist, and politician who served for some three months as the Minister of Education and then as the Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1919.

Because of his dissident writings and political speeches, Kemal had a hard life. He was a severe critic of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), also known as the Young Turks, which was the political party in power in the Ottoman Empire, and which made the decision to exterminate the Armenians in 1915. Kemal also publicly denounced the subsequent Turkish nationalist movement for its massacres against Christians.

As arrests and bans on his writings were an inevitable part of his life in the Ottoman Empire, Kemal lived in exile in Europe, Syria, and Egypt for much of his adult life. In 1909, he fled to Britain, where his first wife, a British woman named Winifred Brun, gave birth to their son, Osman Kemal Wilfred Johnson. Boris Johnson, born in 1964, is Wilfred’s grandson.
Sir Keir fails first antisemitism test by refusing to act after Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy share platform with who’s who of expelled Labour members and controversial figures
Campaign Against Antisemitism has condemned Sir Keir Starmer for failing to take action after the JC revealed that two senior Labour MPs participated in an online conference with far-left activists who had been expelled from the Party in connection with antisemitism.

Diane Abbott, the former Shadow Home Secretary, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a new MP who was immediately promoted to Shadow Immigration Minister under Jeremy Corbyn, were among those who featured on the call, together with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom were expelled in connection with antisemitism allegations.

The online conference was hosted by the new “Don’t Leave, Organise” faction, which was formed by the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour and Red Labour.

The Labour Representation Committee is a pro-Corbyn pressure group with a long history of belittling claims of antisemitism and publishing extremely disturbing articles. The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, is its President. Jewish Voice for Labour is an antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation.

Both Ms Abbott and Ms Ribeiro-Addy actively participated in the online event, in which they addressed the recent leaked Labour report but did not discuss antisemitism, using the opportunity instead to complain about factionalism in the Party. They also continued to cultivate the deplorable suggestion that addressing antisemitism is somehow racist against other minorities, as they failed to correct a claim by Jo Bird that antisemitism cases were “over-prioritised” by Labour while racism against the BAME community was “de-prioritised”.

Jo Bird, a Labour councillor, a Jewish Voice for Labour member and unsuccessful candidate for Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, has previously joked about “Jew process” and was suspended from Labour twice. Ms Bird apparently claimed on the call that Labour members had “died” after they received disciplinary letters from the Party in connection with antisemitism. No evidence has been reported to substantiate this claim, but it was not challenged by the MPs.
CAA calls for BBC, Sky News and others to ban appearances of public health expert John Ashton after antisemitic tweets revealed comparing “Zionists” to Nazis
Campaign Against Antisemitism is calling for the BBC, Sky News and other channels to ban appearances of the public health expert John Ashton, after the JC published his tweets comparing Zionists to Nazis and appearing to minimise Jewish suffering in the Holocaust.

Prof. Ashton has become a regular fixture on national television, known for his criticism of the Government’s handling of COVID-19. He has also been irritated when his prior political affiliation to the Labour Party and his outspoken views on politics have been publicised.

But he will now be known for incendiary social media postings comparing Zionists to Nazis, seemingly minimising Jewish suffering in the Holocaust and criticising religious male circumcision.

In one tweet in 2012, Prof. Ashton, who was serving as President of the Faculty of Public Health at the time (a position he held from 2012 until 2018), reportedly said that it was “sickening to see Zionists behave like Nazis.” He also apparently said that “The Nazi thing was not a distraction to the Jews in Europe. The Zionist thing is not a distraction to the Palestinians.”

When Ed Miliband, as Leader of the Labour Party, suggested in 2013 that he might be a Zionist, Prof. Ashton is reported to have responded: “Is this true? If Miliband is a Zionist what are the humanistic internationalists to do? Is this Labour Party policy?”

At another point, he apparently suggested that the “way to get on in [the Labour] Party is to curry favour with Zionist donors.” Prof. Ashton was formerly a member of the Labour Party but has since, he says, resigned his membership.

In 2014, he reportedly made reference to the “Gaza Ghetto,” adding that it was “surely time for Jews to reflect.” He also wrote: “Is it [Israel] now satisfied about how many children it has murdered? What price the Holocaust?” He also apparently wrote: “It’s very sad how intransigence of the Zionists has sullied the universal empathy for the victims of the Holocaust.”
UK Supreme Court Rules Against Government Attempt to Curb BDS
The UK Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the government's guidance to local councils - which bans boycotts or sanctions against foreign countries or defense companies - was unlawful.

The legal challenge was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The Supreme Court ruled by a 3-2 majority that the government could not stop pension fund administrators from making such investment decisions.

The UK government had argued in court that the guidance had been put in place to ensure that national decisions on defense and foreign policy were not undermined by local boycotts.
Israel-Hating Ph.D. Student from University of Chicago Shills for Iranian Regime at Harvard
t is not reasonable, or responsible, to expect people who study or teach at colleges and universities in the United States to unquestionably support American foreign policy in the Middle East or the rest of the world.

Debate is crucial to good governance.

Still, it would be nice if the folks who learn and work at institutions of higher learning at least made a passing effort to describe the context in which U.S. officials operate. All too often, the academy seems to be in the grips of ideologues who seem intent on putting everything the United States (or Israel) does in the worst possible light and on portraying other countries in the world as innocent victims of American imperialism. For these commentators, American foreign policy explains just about everything that goes wrong in the countries they write about.

It would be beneficial if, in their debates and discussions regarding events taking place overseas, academics addressed some of the problems endogenous to the countries they write about and not blame everything on the U.S. or Israel.

A tendency to blame everything on the U.S. and to deny local governments’ responsibility and agency in causing human suffering was on display at a presentation on Iran and the COVID-19 virus given by Alex Shams, a PhD Candidate in the University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology, on April 8, 2020.

Shams, whose hatred of Israel is well-documented, was speaking under the auspices of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

During his presentation, titled “Quarantine, 5 Weeks In: Understanding Iran’s Experience With the Coronavirus,” Shams, who was speaking from Tehran, tried to blame Iran’s struggles with the COVID-19 virus on the United States.
Israel raises $5B in first-ever bond issue in Asia
Israel has completed its first bond issue in Asian markets with resounding success, raising $5 billion, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday. The ministry noted that the issue sought to help the government decrease the deficit created by the coronavirus crisis.

The amount raised is equal to the record set on March 31, when Israel raised $5 billion in a bond issue mainly from US and European investors, to fund the country's emergency bailout program for the economy, which has seen unemployment soar to 26% in a matter of five weeks.

This was the first time Israel has issued bonds in Asian markets, in a move that followed studious planning as part of the country's efforts to attract diverse international investors.

Finance Ministry officials said that the bond issue "saw high demands from some 300 high-quality investors from over 30 countries," not just from Asia, totaling over $10 billion.

The bonds were issued for a period of 40 years, with a 3.8% interest rate.

"The issue will be an important pillar in financing government activity in the near future," said Finance Ministry's Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu.
Touch-free access for games and elevators in a post-Covid world
The Covid-19 crisis will pass, but some things will never go back to normal. We will remain wary of elevator buttons, ATM touchpads, intercoms, fingerprint scanners, employee timeclocks and all other surfaces touched by countless hands.

The Israeli startup Sonarax is ready for that new touchless reality with a ready-to-install ultrasonic data-transmission technology.

You’ll touch only your smartphone in order to check in, check out or ride the elevator.

“Ultrasonic data connectivity is a great solution for many tasks,” Sonarax Chief Commercial Officer Nimrod May tells ISRAEL21c.

The machine-to-machine technology uses soundwaves to transfer data between any devices equipped with a speaker and microphone.

For the data exchange to work, Sonarax’s SDK (software development kit) must be implemented on both sides. On your mobile phone it can be added to an existing or dedicated app.

So, for example, employees will hold their smartphone near an access control device to enter the office building, summon the elevator and “punch” a timeclock. The audio signals communicate automatically once the user opens the phone’s speaker.
Israel's Flytrex Drones Deliver Essential Goods to Shelter-in-Place U.S. Shoppers
Israeli startup Flytrex, which specializes in food and consumer goods deliveries via drone systems, has launched a delivery service for “shelter-in-place” shoppers in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the company announced last week.

The service is operated in partnership with Grand Forks-based company EASE Drones, the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation and the City of Grand Forks, and will deliver necessities such as food, medicine, and other essential supplies via drone to minimize contact at stores and adhere to social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shoppers select from over 100 Walmart items and the orders are delivered to homes’ backyards or designated areas in apartment complexes “in the safest, fastest and most sterile way,” the company says. During the initial stages of the pilot, the deliveries are offered to a select number of households that sign up for the service.

The initiative helps “address the growing health crisis by keeping citizens in the safety of their own homes and reducing crowding and unnecessary contact at local stores,” Flytrex said in a joint statement.

“Right now we’re focusing on groceries,” Wes Shover, head of US operations for Flytrex, told the Grand Forks Herald. “We want to limit the exposure for people going into big box stores, where they potentially are going to be exposed to the coronavirus.”

“In this time of crisis and social distancing, drones provide the ideal solution to bolster delivery capacity while keeping citizens safe at home,” said Flytrex CEO Yariv Bash in the statement. “UAVs offer safe, swift, and efficient delivery of much-needed goods with no risk of unnecessary human contact for consumers.”
Israeli movie ‘Asia’ scoops 3 prizes at Tribeca Film Festival
An Israeli movie, “Asia,” won three awards at the Tribeca Film Festival, including Best Actress for Shira Haas and the Nora Ephron Award, organizers announced Wednesday.

“From the writing, to the directing, to the camera moves, to the direction for the acting, to the way Ms. Pribar told a story through non-speaking was just outstanding,” the jury said of Israeli director Ruthy Pribar’s mother-daughter drama.

The Nora Ephron Award is given to a female writer or director who is said to embody the spirit of the late writer, director, journalist and feminist.

Shira Haas, of the series “Unorthodox,” picked up Best Actress in the international category for the movie.

“Her face is a never-ending landscape in which even the tiniest expression is heartbreaking; she’s an incredibly honest and present actress who brings depth to everything she does,” the jury wrote in its comments on Haas.

“Asia” also won Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature for Daniella Nowitz. “We were impressed with how the cinematography was supporting the emotionality of the story and was allowing us to really deeply feel with the characters,” the jury said.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the festival to reschedule, but jury members were able to view the films electronically and vote on winners.

Centuries-old maps on auction offer unique glimpse on ancient Israel
Where is Jerusalem located? The 16th-century German cartographer and theologian Heinrich Bünting had no doubt: at the center of the world.

In his 1581 map, he placed the city in the center of a clover whose leaves depict three continents: Europe in pink, Asia in green and Africa in yellow. Surrounding them is a vast blue sea, and far away in the bottom-left corner, a glimpse of America appears.

The artifact, originally printed in black and white and colored just a few years later, is part of the collection of ancient maps and illustrations of Jerusalem and the land of Israel and of books belonging to Rabbi Daniel Sperber. The collection is going to be auctioned off at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem on Tuesday, May 5.

For Sperber, a professor emeritus in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and a recipient of the Israel Prize for Jewish studies, the Clover Leaf Map and the idea behind it have represented a form of compass orienting his life choices throughout the decades, he told The Jerusalem Post.

Sperber was born in Great Britain and for many decades has been living in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he has been able to contemplate the Temple Mount from his windows. Through his career, whenever Bar-Ilan University found him an apartment close to the campus or other institutions around the world offered him a position, he turned them down.

“I could not leave Jerusalem,” he said.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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