Sunday, May 10, 2020

From Ian:

Refuting Daniel Pipes’ NYTimes op-ed opposing Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria
Daniel Pipes’ has written a fallacy-filled New York Times op-ed opposing Israeli legally valid sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley which sounds like it came from the hostile-to-Israel far left. Instead, it came from Pipes, a well-known pro-Israel rightist who is also a “never-Trumper.”

For starters, Pipes’ op-ed uses the leftwing misnomer “annexation” – which implies that Israel is taking lands to which she has no right. The accurate description is: “Israel’s exercise of her sovereignty over historic Jewish lands to which Israel is entitled under binding international law,” or “extending Israeli law to Judea and Samaria,” or “exercising her sovereignty.” International agreements, including the British Mandate and San Remo resolution, guaranteed the Jewish people’s rights to resettle and reconstitute the Jewish state on these lands.

Pipes also wrongly writes that “annexation” was a “fringe” idea prior to publication of President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan in January 2020. In fact, polls show that the overwhelming majority of Israelis have favored exercising sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, since well before the Trump peace plan was announced. In January 2017, the Maagar Mochot Interdisciplinary Research Institute poll found that Israelis opposed a Palestinian-Arab state and favored Israeli sovereignty by 10 to 1. Prominent mainstream journalists have been writing about the advantages and inevitability of Israel exercising her sovereignty for years.

Notably, an Al-Monitor article posted in Arutz Sheva by respected security expert Efraim Inbar, directly contradicts Pipes’ op-ed. The article explains: “Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley is not just a far-right wish, but the fulfillment of long-standing Israeli security objectives. . . .”

Pipes’ assertion that “annexation” achieves nothing is ludicrous. Exercising sovereignty is a long-overdue step that will promote the security of Israel and its people; firmly assure that Israel maintains defensible borders; and end the decades-long limbo of the 500,000 Jews who live in Judea-Samaria.

Again, Pipes’ op-ed is contradicted by the Inbar article, which explained: “The Jordan Valley is the only available defensible border on the eastern front, and the closest to Israel’s heartland — the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa triangle. This area holds 70% of Israel’s population and 80% of its economic infrastructure. The distance between the Jordan River and Jerusalem is only 30 kilometers (19 miles). . . .”

Pipes in fact offers no valid reasons for his anti-“annexation” stance. Five (out of six) of Pipes’ anti-“annexation” arguments simply consist of Pipes’ speculation that: basically “Annexation will make some people angry.” That’s a pitiful and dangerous rationale for Israel refraining from exercising her legally valid sovereignty.

Don’t Bank on Media to Hold Terror Payments to Account
If you want to have a conversation about the merits of the Martyrs Fund and Israel’s measures against it, you’ll need more information than what you would have seen in coverage from the Associated Press, Reuters and New York Times.

By 2017, the payments to prisoners and the families of the so-called “martyrs” equaled half of the PA’s foreign budgetary aid, or a whopping seven percent of the overall PA budget.

The most recent figures indicate that in 2019, the PA spent NIS 619 million ($176 million) on stipends in 2019 just for incarcerated Palestinians. Figures on what was paid to the families weren’t available because the PA isn’t transparent about the Martyrs Fund’s finances. This prompted Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser to argue that if the PA lacks the funds to fight the coronavirus, it should stop paying salaries to terrorists .

Another facet to the story of interest to American readers, but omitted from the coverage is the Taylor Force Act. This was passed by Congress and signed into law following the murder of Taylor Force, a 28-year-old US army veteran and Vanderbilt U. graduate student killed in a 2016 Palestinian stabbing rampage in Jaffa. Eleven other people injured in the indiscriminate attack including a pregnant woman, an Arab Israeli, and a Palestinian illegally residing in Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reported that relatives of Bashar Masalha, the Palestinian terrorist killed by responding police officers, “now receive monthly payments equal to several times the average Palestinian wage.”

Australia and the Netherlands similarly cut back aid in protest against the stipends.

HonestReporting director Daniel Pomerantz debated with PLO executive committee member Mustafa Barghouti.

Context provides a frame of reference for us to make sense of the news. A lack of background information distorts our ability to understand and critically judge developments like this.

It’s important that the media convey the full context behind important stories.

Daily tally of confirmed virus cases falls to 14, lowest since start of outbreak
The Health Ministry announced Sunday morning that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 16,458, an increase of 14 over the past 24 hours and 4 since last night.

One person died, taking the country’s death toll from COVID-19 to 248. There were no details on the identity of the fatality.

The tally of 14 cases in a single day is the lowest recorded since the Health Ministry began publishing daily updates on the spread of the virus on March 11.

According to the Health Ministry, 74 people infected with the coronavirus were in serious condition, 65 of whom were on ventilators.

Another 52 people were in moderate condition and the rest have mild symptoms.

So far, 11,384 people have recovered from the virus, while 4,826 are still sick.

There were 703 tests conducted on Sunday morning and 3,650 a day earlier — testing levels are often lower over the weekend. Israel has the lab capacity to test up to 15,000 people for COVID-19 daily but demand has gone down as fewer suspected cases show up to have swabs taken, the Health Ministry said last month.

However, unexplained discrepancies in the Health Ministry’s numbers continued to pop up, with Beit Shemesh showing one fewer cumulative case than it did on Saturday, according to the figures.

Israel on Saturday evening marked two weeks since more than 200 virus cases were recorded in any 24-hour period.

It also marked one week since there were more than 100 new cases in any one day.
Poll: 74% of Israelis approve of Netanyahu’s health response to pandemic
A clear majority of Israelis approve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance during the coronavirus pandemic from a health perspective, though he scored lower marks for his handling of the economy, according to a television poll aired Saturday.

Along with a number of top Health Ministry officials, Netanyahu has been the public face of the country’s response to the virus, frequently giving televised statements in which he announced new restriction guidelines and implored Israelis to adhere to government directives.

With the number of new infections steadily dropping and the death toll at a relatively low 247, the government has begun loosening the measures put in place to curb the virus’ spread, with Netanyahu announcing a dramatic easing of social distancing restrictions on Monday.

Asked how they assess Netanyahu’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis on the matter of health, 74 percent of respondents to the Channel 12 news poll said they approved, while 23% disapproved.

Among those who defined themselves as right-wing — Netanyahu’s base of supporters — 88% approved of his actions, and 12% disapproved. For respondents who consider themselves left-wing, 58% approved of the premier’s performance, with 39% disapproving.
Three Gulf states seek partnership with Israel to fight coronavirus
Three Gulf states have reached out to Israel in recent weeks to receive information and assistance in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. The three make up half of the countries that are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Bahrain and another Gulf state reached out to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, expressing interest in the hospital's response to the pandemic, and the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations said publicly that her government would be willing to work with Israel on a vaccine.

“I have heard leaders in the Gulf say over and over, ‘with our resources and wealth and Israeli innovation, we can create a vaccine and a cure’…They have seen this pandemic as an opportunity for cooperation between themselves and Israel,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, who has extensive ties in the Persian Gulf as president of the interfaith dialogue organization Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. “There’s an opportunity to join forces here. So many issues transcend politics in the Middle East.”

Schneier and Yoel Hareven, director of Sheba's International Division, said that Bahrain and another Gulf state, which they declined to name, have taken an interest in telemedicine or remote medicine innovations in Israel and the ways the Jewish state has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We offered them any help they need, even if it’s connecting doctors or nurses, or sending teams to them, sharing logistical knowledge,” Hareven said. “Whatever help we can give our neighbors – we will do it happily.”

Coronavirus: Cheap Israeli technology may solve world ventilator shortage
Manshema, a $200-a-piece opensource technology created by an Israeli team, could solve the problem of the shortage of ventilators crucial to assist patients who contract the most serious forms of COVID-19 worldwide.

Around mid-March, a group of Israeli organizations – including the IDF, the Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod and Rafael Advanced Technology – engaged several hundreds of their affiliated experts in what they called a “COVID-19 sprint.” The participants were divided into 16 teams to work on finding solutions to a list of problems related to the pandemic. One of the teams decided to tackle the problem of creating a very simple but effective ventilator.

As explained to The Jerusalem Post by CPT. Mordechai Halfon, an officer at the Technological Division of the IDF Ground Forces, within two weeks a first working prototype of the machine was ready.

“Our device does not intubate patients, no tube is inserted in their throat to push the air in, they can still breath on their own but the hard work is done by the machine,” he said. “It is catered specifically to COVID-19 patients, who required a very specific type of ventilation. This is why it is so simple, as opposed to regular ventilators which need to be suitable for many different kinds of needs.”
Start-up predicts next virus hotspot with social media and mobility data
In the months-long battle against the coronavirus outbreak, it is often a matter of all hands on deck. For many states, including Israel, that means intelligence agency technologies have played a vital role in monitoring the spread of the virus.

At Cobwebs Technologies, founded in 2015 by three alumni of elite IDF units, cyber experts believe that they can accurately predict the future spread of the virus through publicly accessible information alone.

The Herzliya-based company's proprietary web intelligence system autonomously scours the internet for masses of relevant data, signals and patterns, usually assisting customers in the national security, law enforcement and private sectors in some 35 countries worldwide.

Now, Cobwebs has adapted its solution to predict mobility trends from coronavirus hotspots, promising vital insights to policymakers facing critical coronavirus containment decisions. As countries brace themselves for a second wave of the coronavirus, Cobwebs is currently implementing or testing its solution in numerous Asian Pacific and European countries, and several US states.

"This is the brother of the butterfly effect theory, which was about prediction for prevention," said Cobwebs president Omri Timianker. "Our methodology is prediction for decision."
Police gear up to enforce Lag B’Omer restrictions; violators to be fined NIS 500
Police on Sunday were gearing up to enforce restrictions put in place for the Lag B’Omer festival, with traditional bonfires and large gatherings banned this year to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

During the holiday, which begins Monday evening and runs through Tuesday, police will increase their presence in cities, beaches, forests, parks and open areas to enforce the emergency ordinances put in place for Lag B’Omer.

Besides patrolling in cars and on foot, police will also use aerial patrols to locate any bonfires or prohibited gatherings.

Violators of the emergency ordinances, which came into effect over the weekend and will be in place until Wednesday, can be hit with a NIS 500 ($142) fine.

“Police will act together with municipal inspectors and emergency services to prevent, monitor and enforce the ordinances, in particular the ban on bonfires and being near them,” a police statement said.

The holiday usually sees hundreds of thousands of Israelis throng the Galilee’s Mount Meron, famed as the burial site of the famed 2nd century CE sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai. Children and teenagers across the country also celebrate the holiday with local bonfires.

Police reiterated that entry to Mount Meron is prohibited, though exceptions will be made for residents and workers of the northern town surrounding the gravesite. The town of Meron will be reopened on May 13, but the site will remain closed to visitors through the weekend, until May 17.

In Jerusalem, a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated Sunday against the barring of access to Mount Meron over the holiday, with policing arresting five protesters for refusing to obey officers’ orders.
Israeli democracy alive and well – opinion
Throughout the political stalemate over the last 15 months, both sides of the debate have decried “the destruction of Israeli democracy.” After watching two days of Supreme Court hearings this week on petitions brought against the developing Netanyahu-Gantz unity government, it is clear – a week after Independence Day – that democracy in Israel is very much alive and well.

With only four of the 11 justices coming from the conservative camp, many assumed that the bench would do anything possible to disqualify Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government while under indictment, and that they would side with the petitioners request to disqualify the coalition agreement. Far from what transpired, the hearings – broadcast live to provide complete transparency, and watched by one million Israelis – demonstrated a fair and balanced process.

Justices from liberal, moderate and conservative ideologies heard presentations from all sides: attorneys for Likud, Blue and White, the attorney-general’s office, the Knesset, opposition parties, and various petitioning organizations such as the Movement for Quality Government. The justices didn’t hold back, asking serious questions, making sure to remove politics from the process, and focusing on the legal issues.

When a lawyer for the petitioners argued that democracy in Israel would collapse if the court permitted Netanyahu to lead a new government while under indictment, liberal Chief Justice Esther Hayut berated the attorney, saying, “That claim is not appropriate. A side cannot claim that if its position is not accepted then the entire fortress of the rule of law will fall.”

She also rebuked the Likud’s attorney for claiming that there would be devastating consequences if Netanyahu were barred from forming a government.
ICC: Smear campaigns don't change facts about 'Palestine' probe
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has responded to opposition to the court's investigation into alleged war crimes against Palestinians, stressing that "misinformation and smear campaigns" do not change facts about the conduct of the court concerning "Palestine."

"Fact: my Office is executing its mandate concerning Palestine situation with utmost professionalism, independence and objectivity in strict conformity with the Rome Statute. Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is simply misled and unfounded," Bensouda was quoted as saying on the ICC's Twitter on Friday.

At the end of April, Bensouda issued a legal brief stating that "Palestine" is considered a state, despite a number of objections to the contrary by member states.

Israeli, American, Australian and European officials, among others, have spoken out against the move by Bensouda to launch an investigation into the Palestinian territories regarding war crimes. Israel is not a member of the Rome Statute and has not accepted ICC jurisdiction.
Close to half of Israelis back annexation, less than a third think it’ll happen
Slightly fewer than half of Israelis back plans to annex parts of the West Bank, and even fewer people think the government will actually go through with its annexation plans, according to a survey released Sunday.

Asked whether they back annexation in the near future, 44.7 percent of respondents to an Israel Democracy Institute survey said they support or strongly support the move. The poll found 31.8% oppose annexation, and 23.5% didn’t know or didn’t answer.

A slight majority of 51.7% Israeli Jews support annexation, the poll found, while among Israeli Arabs, only 8.8% were in favor. Among Jews, 27.9% opposed annexation, and 20.4% didn’t know or didn’t answer. Among Arabs, 51.9% were opposed, and 39.4% didn’t know or didn’t answer.

As part of their coalition agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz agreed the government that is due to be sworn Wednesday can begin moving forward with applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements and the Jordan Valley after July 1, a move expected to enjoy backing from a majority of lawmakers in the current Knesset.

Support for annexation among Jews was unsurprisingly divided on political lines, with 71% of self-defined right-wing Jews backing it, along with 31% of centrists and only 8% of left-wingers.

Overall, 31.8% of Israelis think the government will actually push ahead with annexation in the coming year. The survey found that many who don’t support the move still think the government will actually carry out the controversial measure, while some supporters were pessimistic it would happen.

Among Jews, 33% thought the government would in fact annex, and 25% of Arabs believed the same. The survey found that 42% of right-wingers think it will happen over the coming year, as do 27% of left-wing Jews and 18% of centrists.
Will EU sanction Israel over annexation plan?
The European Union's Foreign Affairs Commission is reportedly debating punitive measures against Israel should it push forward with its plans to annex parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, in accordance with the Trump administration Middle East peace plan.

Source familiar with the move told Israel Hayom that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is the one pushing for sanctions.

Borrell, a Spanish diplomat, is known for his animosity toward Israel. This attitude is currently offset by the positive sentiment expressed toward Israel by Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, a German diplomat and the sitting president of the European Commission.

The EU's charter states that all major foreign policy decisions can be made only by a consensus among the bloc's 27 member-states. It is therefore believed that Israel's allies in the EU – Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – will bloc any major punitive action Borrell may try to promote.

Currently, Sweden, Ireland and Luxembourg are pushing for the harshest response, namely suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which regulates the relations between the two.

Another potential measure excluding Israel from Horizon Europe, an ambitious EU research and innovation framework slated to run between 2021 and 2027, which "aims to strengthen the EU's scientific and technological bases, boost Europe's innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs and to deliver on citizens' priorities and sustain socio-economic model and values," according to its website.

A third scenario may see the EU pull out of the open skies agreement with Israel, which it has yet to ratify.

These scenarios entail a significant economic impact on Israel.
Emirati foreign minister condemns Israel’s annexation plans
The United Arab Emirates on Sunday joined a growing chorus of states condemning the incoming Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

“This unilateral step is illegal, undermines chances for peace and contradicts all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution in accordance with relevant international resolutions,” said the Gulf country’s foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Unilaterally applying sovereignty over any part of the West Bank would be illegal, undermine the chances for peace, “and contradict all efforts made by the international community to reach a lasting political solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added.

In the statement, carried by the state-owned Emirates News Agency, Al Nahyan explicitly dismissed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s often-made claim that the Arab world will ultimately accept annexation.

Such suggestions “contradict the reality of the Arab position, as the Arab consensus is declared and fixed in the decisions issued by the League of Arab States and confirmed in many Arab ministerial meetings,” the UAE’s top diplomat affirmed.

“His Highness affirmed that the path of the peace process in the Middle East, which we all aspire to, is clear and known and established by the international principles agreed upon to resolve the Palestinian issue and end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” his statement went on.
How will Hamas respond to Israel’s ‘annexation’ plan? – analysis
When Hamas talks about “resistance” activities, it means it wants to see Palestinians resort to armed attacks against Israel, preferably in the context of a new Intifada (uprising). But Hamas knows that as long as security coordination between the PA and Israel continues, it would be almost impossible for its members to resume major terrorist attacks.

That’s why several Hamas officials have called on the Palestinian leadership to at least halt the security coordination in response to the Israeli plan.

Abdel Latif Qanou, a Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza Strip, said he was expecting Abbas to “give the resistance a free hand to operate in the West Bank.” Qanou, in other words, wants Abbas to order his security forces to stop their crackdown on Hamas members in the West Bank so that they would be able to launch attacks against Israel if and when the Israeli plan is implemented.

In addition, Qanou said, Hamas wants Abbas to cancel the Oslo Accords signed with Israel in 1993 and revoke PLO recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace and security.

What’s certain is that Hamas does not want the Palestinian response to the Israeli plan to come from the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders have stressed in recent months that, for now, they are not interested in another military confrontation with Israel.

That’s why Hamas leaders have so far refrained from threatening to resume terrorist attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip. Instead, they are emphasizing that the response should be in the West Bank, with the hope that Palestinians would be targeting IDF soldiers and settlers.
Even if the Palestinians in the West Bank don’t heed Hamas’s call for erupting into violence against Israel, Hamas is confident that the Israeli plan, if implemented, would further undermine the PA’s credibility, particularly regarding Abbas’s declared commitment to the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

Under the current circumstances, Hamas’s chances of triggering a new Intifada against Israel in the West Bank are almost non-existent. Hamas, meanwhile, is hoping that the Israeli plan would at least drive more Palestinians towards the Hamas-led rejectionist camp that believes in the armed struggle as the only means to “liberate all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”
Jerusalem said to warn Hamas over drones entering Israel from Gaza
Israel has warned the Hamas terror group to stop flying drones over the border between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state, threatening to shoot them down, a Palestinian report said Saturday.

The Israel Defense Forces has allegedly spotted drones that crossed into Israeli airspace for several minutes before returning to the Strip, the Al-Quds newspaper reported.

The report said National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat conveyed a message via Egypt’s intelligence that if those “provocations” don’t stop, the IDF would be forced to shoot down the unmanned aircraft.

Israel reportedly believes the drones are operated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group, an internal partner — and sometimes rival — of Hamas, which has ruled the Strip since taking over in a bloody coup in 2007 and openly seeks Israel’s destruction.

Israel generally holds Hamas responsible for any attacks or threats emanating from Gaza, hoping it can put other terror groups under control.

After weeks of quiet, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket into Israel last week that landed in an open area, causing no injuries or damage, the IDF said. In response, tanks shelled three Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip.
PMW: Turmoil in PA following PMW’s letter to PA banks about Israel’s new anti-terror law
In response to PMW’s warning to Palestinian banks that facilitating the payment of salaries to terrorists is now against Israeli law, the banks wrote an urgent letter to the PA: “Stop transferring any sums into these accounts.”

The banks announced they are closing the accounts of all terrorist prisoners and “will transfer the balances in these accounts to the Ministry of Finance’s account.”

The banks started closing the accounts right after receiving PMWs letter even before the law went into effect yesterday May 9, 2020.

The PA is desperately trying to find a solution, with meetings at the highest levels of Palestinian finance.

On May 9, 2020, Israel made the PA’s payment of the terror reward salaries to terrorist prisoners a criminal offence for anyone involved in facilitating the payment.

Palestinians have shot and thrown Molotov cocktails at Palestinian banks that are refusing to continue servicing funds of the terrorist prisoners

PA’s threat in an op-ed by the former Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs: “I do not steal from anyone, But if I starve I will eat my oppressors' flesh; Beware, beware of my starving, and my rage.” [From poem of Mahmoud Darwish]

Iran praises Palestinian PFLP for commemorating Soleimani on Quds Day
Iran’s regime media celebrated images of Palestinian gunmen from the PFLP parading with images of Qasem Soleimani and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah over the weekend. The images were reportedly posted from Gaza as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activists held a military drill for “World Quds Day.”

Quds Day, which commemorates Jerusalem, is pushed annually by Tehran as a response to Israel and a way for the Iranian regime to show its support for the Palestinian cause. While Iran generally partners with Shi’ite religious groups, such as Hezbollah or Shi’ite militias in Iraq, when it works with Palestinians it must work with a Sunni population. Iran uses its campaign against Israel to try to recruit supporters outside the Shi’ite nexus. It has been successful in turning Palestinian Islamic Jihad into a proxy, pushing it to launch increasing rocket attacks against Israel over the last two years. Iran also has worked with Hamas.

Now Iran’s goal is to co-op the PFLP, a nominally radical left Palestinian group that has been involved in terrorism for decades.
The PFLP has suffered from some political marginalization in recent years because it doesn’t provide enough of an alternative to Hamas or Fatah. Its aging leadership also seemed out of touch with current concerns of Palestinian youth. Enter Iran to revive its purpose.

A recent case of PFLP working with Iran involved an activist in Lebanon called Khaled al-Yamani from the Baddawi refugee camp. He sought to recruit a supporter in Israel who was subsequently indicted. Iran has sought to fund the PFLP in the past, such as during 2013 and 2014 after the PFLP showed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, a key Iranian ally.

The larger picture appears to be increasing links between PFLP and Iran. This is why Iran’s Fars News was so pleased to see the photos of the PFLP with images of Soleimani and Nasrallah. The units with the rifles in Gaza were from the PFLP's Abu Ali al-Mustafa forces, Iran says, and they were parading to show support for Quds Day and the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. “As long as there are efforts to defeat the Zionist occupation, the US and the Zionists will not have broken the axis of resistance.” The axis of resistance is a term Iran generally uses to refer to its role with Hezbollah. PFLP says it is involved at the “crossroads of revolutionaries” and supports the “coexistence” of this axis against the “occupation.”

Honest Reporting: The Social Megaphone of Antisemitism:
Recently, several reports have shed light on how conspiracy theories, racism, bigotry and antisemitism have manifested on social media, with the hate from one particular person alone reaching 30 million people.

We have seen time and again how hatred on social media can have life-threatening consequences. Social media giants have a responsibility to endorse anti-racism policies and definitions to prevent this type of hatred from surfacing in the first place.

SNL's Michael Che jokes 'Miss Hitler' pageant winner is Miss Israel
Saturday Night Live's Michael Che made light of the pageant website for 'Miss Hitler' being shut down, in which he stated that the winner for the contest was Miss Israel.

"GoDaddy has shut down a website that hosts a 'Miss Hitler' beauty pageant. Coincidentally 'Miss Hitler Beauty Pageant' was the working title for 'The Ingraham Angle.' By the way Colin (his co-host), if you're wondering who the winner of the 'Miss Hitler' pageant was Miss Israel."

The contest was based on young women sending in their pictures with Nazi symbols and describing why they think they fit the role. Users would vote online to pick the winner.

The winner is intended to be determined by an online poll conducted between Aug. 8 and Sept. 3.

Englishwoman Alice Cutter won the title in 2019 under the name Buchenwald Princess. She was later convicted in court for being a member of the radical right-wing group National Action, the BBC reported.

The National Action had been considered a domestic terrorist group in the UK since 2016.

An antisemitism watchdog in Australia wants to shut down the website that is promoting the global “Miss Hitler 2020” beauty pageant.

German monitor: Antisemitic incidents up since Halle shooting
A new report from an antisemitism monitor in Germany found that reported incidents rose following the attack on a Halle synagogue last Yom Kippur.

“The public perception of the topic of antisemitism was strongly marked by the far-right terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur,” the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, or RIAS, wrote in releasing the report this week.

The report highlights 1,253 registered antisemitic incidents in 2019 across four federal states, including Berlin. The inclusion of reporting from Brandenburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria was added to the study this year. In the Halle attack, two people were killed near the synagogue when the alleged gunman could not enter the building.

A political background in far-right circles tended to be a theme of those who committed antisemitic attacks, especially in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, where far-right, antisemitic ideology is expressed openly. But the report also claims to show that antisemitism goes beyond political background.

RIAS looked at a variety of overlapping antisemitic motives in its reporting, including Antisemitic Othering, Anti-Judaism, Modern Antisemitism, Israel-Focused Antisemitism and Post-Shoah Antisemitism.

The largest motivation, post-Shoah antisemitism, accounted for 46% of incidents and refers typically to the Holocaust and various denials of Nazi Germany’s crimes.
Virus-hobbled concert promoter sets sights on future gigs
As the coronavirus has raged for the last two months, local concert promoter Shuki Weiss has tried to figure out alternatives to his summer of planned shows, most of which have already been canceled.

“It’s a spiral,” wrote Weiss in a statement at the weekend. “We’ve experienced other painful cancellations in our decades of work, but they’re usually for political or security reasons. This time it’s global; every tour is being canceled and it puts us all in the dark, looking for solutions.”

Spring and summer concert dates in Israel for Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave, Morrissey, The Pixies, Celine Dion and Cirque du Soleil were just a few of the shows planned for 2020, wrote Weiss.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, promoters like Weiss have been working closely with artists, managers and their staff to find alternative solutions. He cited as an example the cancellation of Celine Dion, a Canadian singer who was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua on August 4 and 5 on an open-air stage constructed to mimic her Las Vegas productions.

Dion’s stop in Israel was meant to be part of her Courage World Tour, with concerts in 122 cities over the course of 12 months.

“It’s an operation we’ve been working on for three years,” wrote Weiss.
Israelis compete against Arab team, including Syrians, in online chess tourney
Israeli chess players recently competed in an online tournament against a team made up of Arab players including representatives of Syria, Algeria and Tunisia, countries that have no diplomatic ties with Israel.

All told, 65 Israeli and Arab players took part in the blitz-chess tourney, which also had representatives from Morocco, Jordan and Egypt.

Representing Israel was the Chess4all club, managed by Lior Aizenberg, a veteran chess activist who has been involved in several battles against anti-Israel discrimination and boycotts in the chess world. He organized the event together with Alon Cohen of the Jeruchess Club.

Aizenberg, who called the tournament a “historic occasion,” said the players from Arab countries with whom Israel does not have ties appeared with their national flags in the background, adding that the dialogue with the players was “very civilized” without any anti-Israel remarks.

“Sport is a wonderful thing to get people together and build ties,” Aizenberg told The Times of Israel. “We plan to continue to connect people through chess and we hope that through this initiative we will continue to succeed in doing so.”

In the past, Aizenberg fought a Saudi ban on the Israel national team taking part in the World Blitz and Rapid Championship in Riyadh, a ban that eventually led to the championship being relocated to Russia.

“We as Israelis must stand up for our rights to pressure international organizations not to accept any discrimination against Israeli athletes and sportsmen and women,” said Aizenberg. “We cannot accept a situation where Arab athletes refuse to play against Israel. We can not accept when draws are changed to avoid Arabs facing Israelis.”

At the online tournament, the Arab countries put out a strong team, including top ranked players who Aizenberg requested not be named in order to protect their identity, and beat Israel 371 -311.
Jerusalem Writers Festival goes digital, and it’s awesome
The Jerusalem Writers Festival is probably best known for the scenic Old City backdrop against which it takes place (and the impressive array of authors that it hosts, of course). And while this year’s coronavirus crisis means that springtime sunsets and ancient stones won’t be making an appearance, you might be able to catch a glance of your favorite writers’ homes instead.

The eighth edition of the international event is going completely digital, taking place from May 10 to May 13. It will give literature lovers across the world a chance to catch up with like writers Nicole Krauss, Matthew Weiner, Etgar Keret and Eshkol Nevo, among others, only from the comfort of their own homes rather than from the premises of Mishkenot Shaananim in Jerusalem.

“When like everyone else we got the memo at the beginning of March that there’s likely to be some sort of problem, we already had everything ready,” says Moti Schwartz, the CEO of Mishkenot Shaananim and director of the festival.

“A lot of events like ours in Israel and abroad decided to postpone,” he says. “But we felt it was important to maintain continuity.”

Work then began to shift the event into a yet-unknown format, and while a couple of things changed, the festival in its entirety was transformed to fit digital platforms.

“I think that we more or less managed to keep the original framework,” Schwartz says.“This year everyone will be wherever they are. And we’ll do it in live sessions through all kinds of Zooms that we’ll be broadcasting.”

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Elder of Ziyon - ุญู€ูƒู€ูŠู€ู… ุตู€ู‡ู€ูŠู€ูˆู†

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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