Sunday, May 17, 2020

From Ian:

Arab World Delusions Fuel BDS Campaign's Coronavirus Conspiracies
The past two months have seen an explosion of coronavirus-related anti-Zionist discourse from across the globe. Notably, proponents of the global "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)" campaign against Israel have lost no time in exploiting the outbreak to feed their obsessive vendetta. But BDS appropriation of coronavirus is only part of a larger effort—popular within the Arab and Muslim world—to incorporate coronavirus into pre-existing anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish ideologies.

Jews have long been accused of producing or spreading diseases. Modern iterations of these charges include Nazi myths of the Jewish biological threat, Hamas' assertions that "Zionists" use HIV-positive women to seduce and infect Arabs and the Iranian regime's habit of terming Israel a "cancerous tumor."

Palestinian media, government officials and activists have recycled these themes by placing coronavirus and Israel at the center of their delusions. Indeed, scapegoating Israel or Zionists enables backward, corrupt leaders to deflect attention from their own failures, project their inadequacies onto a common enemy and mobilize unity among followers by framing Israel as an existential foe.

Hence, Iranian officials' rationalizations of high fatality rates with claims that coronavirus is a "'biological ethnic weapon' created by the 'Americans and Zionist regime' to target Iranian DNA." Iranian bureaucrats repeat such lies while the regime remains a pandemic "regional epicenter" and workers dig enormous mass graves for virus victims. Meanwhile, the regime dedicates resources to suppressing coronavirus media coverage and allows prominent clerics to publicly advocate—and occasionally administer to patients—dubious "cures" for the virus, such as camel urine.

Palestinian Authority (PA) media have also spread false narratives, including that Mossad and CIA created and exported coronavirus to China, that the "virus is surely an outcome of the Jews' concealed hatred for the entire world" with which they seek to "start the conflagration of a third [world] war" and that Israel deliberately infects Palestinian workers with coronavirus in order to contaminate their communities. So-called Palestinian disease vectors have been declared Israel's "mobile suicide bomb, whose direct effects are greater than any weapon, even a nuclear bomb."
Terror-Charity Lobbyists Are Subsidized by U.S. Taxpayers
The use of charity to advance radical ideologies is hardly a novel idea. European fascist movements built a base of support through charitable programs and promises of social welfare. The Ku Klux Klan delivered food and medicine to poor white communities. Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeinists, Wahhabis, ISIS, and al-Qaeda have all made use of charities and welfare programs to propagate and consolidate their control over Muslim communities.

Radical ideological movements do not only establish their own charitable groups; they also hijack the altruism and naïveté of others. In a widely discussed scandal in Britain, it emerged in 2014 that dozens of prominent charities had funded a jihadist support group for years, apparently under the impression they were merely backing a civil-rights campaign.

But not all charitable accomplices to radical causes are guileless, respectable organizations; some are fellow travelers, perfectly aware of their partners’ extremism. One enormous charitable umbrella organization, InterAction, offers a compelling example.

This taxpayer-funded, D.C.-based charity works to lobby Congress on behalf of dangerous, bigoted Islamist charities tied to extremism and terror, with the express purpose of shielding them from serious questioning and freeing them from restrictive terror-finance laws. InterAction does all this in the belief that it is fighting “disinformation” and “populist-nationalism.”

Founded in 1984, InterAction is the largest alliance of international NGOs in the world, comprising over 180 separate groups “working to eliminate extreme poverty, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.” As delightful as this sounds, federal agencies, foreign governments, journalists, and independent researchers have repeatedly found that a number of InterAction’s member bodies work toward a very different set of ideals. In fact, InterAction members include several radical Islamic charities tied directly to criminal or terrorist activity.
"Stop Bashing Israel!" said the Muslim to the Jews
Prominent British-Muslim intellectual, Ed Husain, talks to Gadi Taub and Mike Doran about his efforts to promote normalization between Muslims and Israel.

Seth Frantzman: Lauder in Arab News: A new page in Muslim-Jewish relations - analysis
A quiet revolution is taking place in the Arab world, Ron Lauder wrote. The president of the World Jewish Congress lauded efforts at tolerance that he has seen in recent year as a new page in Muslim-Jewish relations is emerging. The op-ed, which was published over the weekend in Arab News, an English-language daily based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is unique.

The op-ed follows other initiatives that has seen more opened to tolerance of Jews, embracing of mutual heritage and also Israeli relations with the Arab world.

“The old broadside attacks against Israelis by almost all Arab countries have quietly dissipated and the evidence is as clear as the nightly television entertainment shows that people are watching,” wrote Lauder.

“In sharp contrast to too many other channels, the Saudi satellite network MBC has challenged old taboos with a surprisingly positive depiction of Jews.”

The new show Um Haroun tells the tale of a Jewish woman in Bahrain and takes place in the 1940s. Lauder wrote that the appearance of the show during Ramadan on Saudi television is a signal of changing views in the Gulf. “This reality embodies huge progress and change on an international scale.” Gone are the bad old days when textbooks were full of hatred for Israel, and a new era may be emerging. “I have traveled to many Muslim countries to meet heads of state, members of government, workers, journalists, and students. Not every conversation has been easy and sometimes we have encountered prejudice, but mostly we were able to have a constructive dialogue,” Lauder wrote.
BGU student creates app to accelerate coronavirus vaccine trials
Daniel Iluz-Freundlich, a second-year medical student at the Medical School for International Health (MSIH) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba, and vice president of Refuah Solutions Ltd, developed an app that will help find and register patients infected with coronavirus, accelerating the completion of ongoing clinical trials to find a vaccine for the virus, according to a press release from the university.

The new app allows clinical investigators to gain rapid access to information that impacts the inclusion and exclusion of patients, select specific study information and coordinate other activities associated with clinical testing.

The app is also provided for free to users around the world.

Gerald Y. Minuk, CEO of Refuah Solutions Ltd, commended Iluz-Freundlich on the app, saying “what Daniel has developed will be appreciated by investigators around the world, but those who will benefit most are the unfortunate patients with severe COVID-19 infections who we hope will now receive safe and effective treatment much sooner than what would have been the case."

“Daniel epitomizes the kind of exceptional student that is drawn to BGU’s international medical school,” says Doug Seserman, CEO of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU). "We’re pleased he will be part of a webinar we’re hosting with MSIH alumni who are working on the front lines to combat the virus.”
S&P: Israeli economy expected to 'absorb' coronavirus shock
Israel's economy should be able to "absorb the shock" of the coronavirus pandemic due to its strong macroeconomic fundamentals and high monetary flexibility, S&P Global Ratings researchers forecast as they affirmed Israel's AA- sovereign credit rating.

While the economy is expected to contract by 5.5% this year, entering recession for the first time in two decades, it is projected that it will recover by more than 6% in 2021, supported by the global economic rebound and aided by the success of its large hi-tech sector.

"The stable outlook on Israel balances downside risks from the COVID-19 pandemic against Israel's resilient economy and its strong external position," said researchers, citing the country's quick policy response to containing the pandemic despite "protracted political turbulence."

Fiscal measures to contain the impact of the outbreak and the economic downturn are expected to widen the government deficit to 10.3% of GDP in 2020, compared to the already high deficit average of 3.8% in 2018-2019.

Despite that, S&P researchers affirmed that there are "reasons not to be overly concerned about fiscal stability," including highly flexible monetary policy settings; excellent access to domestic and international capital markets; a broad political consensus on containing public debt; and ample space to alter taxation rates and improve compliance.
Coronavirus: UK synagogues not to reopen before July
With a Jewish population of about 290,000 people, the United Kingdom is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the community has mourned hundreds of victims, but has also found a sense of unity and solidarity across the spectrum, as the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) and vice-president of the World Jewish Congress Marie van der Zyl explained in an interview to The Jerusalem Post, while the government stated that places of worships are not going to reopen before July.

As the coronavirus crisis began to emerge in the country in March, news about community members and leaders succumbing to COVID-19 rapidly surfaced.

“For us it has been a tough year,” van der Zyl said, pointing out that several factors might have contributed to the high number of victims, including the community members’ higher average age and the tendency to live in big cities and in particular, London, which has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the UK.

The UK has so far confirmed over 240,000 cases and 34,000 deaths according to Reuters. Contrary to what happens in many Jewish communities around the world, the BOD manages to have a fairly accurate idea of how many Jews have died because of the virus.
CAA investigation reveals even more racist tweets by Prof. John Ashton as well as his trolling of the BBC to include Gaza in a Holocaust commemoration, while hundreds sign our petition to take him off air
An investigation by Campaign Against Antisemitism has revealed that Prof. John Ashton’s racism toward Jews goes even deeper than previously realised.

In one instance, Prof. Ashton trolled the BBC on Twitter urging it to include the “ghetto” in Gaza in a Holocaust commemoration. Among several other ugly breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism, he has even goaded Jews on the Jewish New Year to “get behind the Palestinians”.

After antisemitic comments made by Prof. Ashton were revealed in the Jewish Chronicle last week, Campaign Against Antisemitism launched a petition to urge the BBC, ITV and Sky News to stop inviting him to appear as a regular commentator on their news programmes.

As well as his comments revealed last week (in tweets he has since deleted), which included phrases such as “time for Jews to reflect” and “Zionists behave like Nazis”, we have now uncovered further comments which show the extent and venomousness of his obsession.

In light of these revelations, and the BBC’s and Sky News’ dismissal of Prof. Ashton’s antisemitism as mere “political views”, we call upon others to join the hundreds who have already signed the petition to get him off our television screens. You can sign the petition here.
Iran officials confirm ‘minor damage’ by fire at Tomb of Mordechai and Esther
Iranian officials confirmed Saturday that a fire had broken out early Friday morning at the site of an ancient shrine revered by Iranian Jews as the burial place of the biblical Esther and Mordechai, stressing that no damage was done to the hall housing the tomb itself.

An investigation has revealed that a person was caught in CCTV footage trying to enter the holy site through an adjacent bank and “perform a series of actions” but “failed,” opposition news sites said, citing a report in the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The report said the cameras had registered the person’s face, but “information about the person’s motives and identity cannot be provided until they are arrested.”

The IRNA report was deleted from its website two hours after its publication Saturday morning, the Radio Farda and Iran International websites said.

The attack came on May 15, the day after the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and marked as Nakba Day, or the day of catastrophe, raising widespread suspicion that it was a hate crime against Jews and the Jewish state.
Future US, UN ambassador Erdan is ready to defend annexation to the world
Less than a week after Gilad Erdan accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to be ambassador to the UN and the US, he is already hard at work preparing for the job.

On the way to the Knesset to be sworn in with the government on Sunday as regional cooperation minister, a temporary post until he heads to New York in about a month, Erdan talked to The Jerusalem Post about the meetings he had planned with experts at various think tanks to learn more about the topics at hand.

“It’s a big job,” Erdan admitted, speaking of the dual ambassadorship, which no Israeli has held since Abba Eban in 1950-1959. “In any position, I make sure to listen and meet with people first.”

At the top of the diplomatic agenda these days is the possibility that Israel will apply sovereignty to about 30% of the West Bank, including all settlements and the Jordan Valley, in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“In the first months, it will be very important,” Erdan said of annexation. “On the one hand, we have to be prepared if a decision is made in Israel – and I hope there will be – to apply sovereignty on Israeli settlements. On the other, we have to check all the time that we are fully coordinated with the US government and our other allies as much as possible.”
Daniel B. Shapiro: Democrats’ stand on annexation poses a dilemma for Israel
Some Israelis may argue that the Democratic Party is no longer sufficiently supportive of Israel to be a factor in Israeli decision making. According to this theory, disagreements between Israel and the Obama Administration over the Iran nuclear deal and UN Security Council Resolution 2334 marked a fundamental shift. The harsh criticism of Israel by two freshman Members of Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and the strong run by Sen. Bernie Sanders in his presidential campaign are taken as further confirmation of the change. Allegedly, a Biden administration would necessarily be captive to these forces in the party, and therefore, Israel must proceed with annexation immediately.

That is nonsense. Biden’s primary victory, indeed, proves the opposite. Whereas some voices more critical of Israel have been heard in the Democratic party, Biden won the nomination while expressing his deep personal bonds with Israel and pledging to keep backing its security and defend it from any form of delegitimization, including the BDS movement. Democratic primary voters chose the candidate who called placing conditions on US assistance to Israel “outrageous” and “a gigantic mistake.” Why, one might ask, would Israel take an action that hurts the credibility of those Democrats committed to sustaining their party’s traditional support for Israel?

Support for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps remains a consensus policy within the Democratic Party, even as that outcome appears to be getting less and less viable due to the political stagnation between the parties, Palestinian rejectionism, and expanding Israeli settlements. Likewise, there is near-unanimity among Democrats that the Trump peace plan, which envisions a Palestinian “state” with no territorial integrity, economic feasibility, or fulfillment of Palestinian aspirations in East Jerusalem could be the final blow to the dying two-state solution.

That reality might lead other members of the Israeli leadership, notably Gantz and incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, to raise the risks that unilateral annexation would pose. In addition to security burdens and negative Palestinian, regional, and international reactions, they might give voice to the risks to the US-Israel relationship and Israel’s ties with the American Jewish community, where support for two states and opposition to annexation still dominate.

Proponents of annexation will argue that it is unreasonable to go against the plan and encouragement of a friendly incumbent US president who claims that he leaves the decision entirely up to Israel. But for those who prioritize Israel’s bipartisan support in the US, there is a sound argument that any move Israel makes, especially months before a presidential election, should have the sustainable support of a broad, bipartisan majority of Americans. So far, the evidence is that unilateral annexation falls far short of that mark.
Calls made for ICC's Bensouda to address allegations of collusion with PA
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court's recent statement on Twitter defending her Office's "independence and objectivity" were made in response to accusations that she had colluded with the Palestinian Authority over the decision by the court to hear war crimes cases against Israeli military personnel, NGO Palestinian Media Watch has claimed.

In a May 8 tweet, the ICC's official's account quoted Fatou Bensouda as saying: "misinformation and smear campaigns do not change facts about the conduct of my Office's work concerning the situation in #Palestine."

The tweet included a photograph of Bensouda, alongside another quote from her which read: "Fact: My Office is executing its mandate concerning Palestine situation with utmost professionalism, independence & objectivity in strict conformity with the Rome Statute. Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is simply misled & unfounded."

There is no mention in the tweet or in any others by the account of why there was a need to make such a statement.

However PMW, which monitors Arabic-language media content in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, has claimed that its own report on alleged collusion between Bensouda and the PA prompted the tweet.

Approximately two weeks before the tweet, on April 23, PMW released a report detailing a number of accusations within the Jordanian press that the ICC Prosecutor had been colluding with the Palestinian Authority and had already decided to try Israeli soldiers for alleged war crimes.
Palestinian statehood is a threat - opinion
The ramifications of allowing the PA, a political entity which has institutionalized antisemitism, disseminated Nazi-style propaganda, and glorified terrorists, could send a dangerous message: Practice terrorism long enough and eventually you will be rewarded.

In the last three decades, the PA has failed to uphold any stipulation of the 1993 Oslo Accords involving the renouncement of terrorism. In both 2000 and 2008, the PA rejected generous peace offers made by Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, which would have also demanded a complete halt of Palestinian-sponsored terrorism.

Religious inspired terrorism in the European Union has been on the rise. From 2014-2018, there were more than 3,000 arrests related to religious terrorism in Europe.

In the same time period, 364 civilians died as a result of terrorism, and nearly 90 attacks were successfully executed.

With European authorities prioritizing the fight against terrorism, the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state, without first achieving a viable resolution to the conflict with Israel, is more than counter-intuitive; it poses a strategic threat to any sovereign country in the world attempting to engage in efficient counter-terrorism.

Finally, if the European Union insists on differentiating between ISIS-claimed terrorist attacks in London or Nice and those attacks in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, sponsored and financed by the Palestinian Authority, the international message will be clear: The life of European civilians is worth more than the life of those inhabiting the Jewish-majority country.

The repercussions of this blatant antisemitism could have disastrous impacts Jewish communities throughout the world.

I urge the European Union to remember the failures of Munich, and understand that if it decides to unilaterally recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, without the PA first finalizing a peace agreement with Israel, it could potentially contribute to a rise of terrorism and antisemitism at a global scale.

China’s Envoy to Israel Found Dead at Home, Likely of Natural Causes: Official
China’s ambassador to Israel was found dead in his residence on Sunday and initial indications were that he had died of natural causes, an Israeli official said.

Du Wei, 57, became ambassador to Israel in February, according to the embassy’s website.

“Police are investigating this as death by natural causes,” an Israeli official briefed on the matter told Reuters.

A police spokesman confirmed the ambassador’s death at the residence in coastal Herzliya, adding only that police were at the scene “as part of the regular procedure.”
China says US attacks on its investment in Israel, virus record are ‘absurd’
China on Friday assailed the US administration for attacking Beijing’s investments in Israel as a threat, as well for accusing the Asian country of hiding information about the coronavirus and hampering international efforts to clamp down on the disease.

In a statement Friday, China’s embassy in Israel said the accusations were “absurd” and said it hoped its “Jewish friends” in Israel will not only succeed in defeating the virus but also the “political virus” — an apparent reference to accusations leveled at Beijing by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Israel this week.

The statement also said that “Jewish friends know… well” that historically, “pandemic is accompanied by conspiracies and the dark mentality of seeking scapegoats.”

As Pompeo visited Israel this week for a brief eight-hour stint, State Department officials said a main issue of discussion was Washington’s concerns over Israel’s trade relationship with China, citing its lack of transparency and problematic trade practices.

Senior security officials in both countries have sounded alarm bells over Chinese involvement in infrastructure projects, warning they are a security risk and could jeopardize ties with the US.

The embassy in its statement said Pompeo has long claimed there are security risks in cooperation with China, “without producing any concrete evidence.”

Footage found of woman digging up murdered soldier's grave - report
After it was discovered that someone had sabotaged the grave of murdered IDF Lieutenant Amit Ben Yigal last week, footage obtained by the police showed a woman digging up the grave for hours, according to Ynet.

Digging marks were found on the grave, which is in Be'er Ya'acov, and the late soldier’s father was called to the scene with a member of the IDF Rabbinical Corps and other IDF officials to ensure Ben Yigal's remains were not disturbed.

The woman was seen in the security tapes of the graveyard two days after the burial took place, according to the report, and police believe that they will very soon be able to identify the culprit, though they do not believe the act had ideological motivations.

The grave was found by a different family to be sabotaged that had passed by and saw the excavation marks.

Ben Yigal was killed by a concrete block thrown at him during an overnight raid in the village of Yabad located in the Palestinian Authority's Jenin Governorate, bordering the settlement of Mevo Dotan in the northwestern West Bank.
Man crosses border from Lebanon, is shot by Israeli troops
Israeli troops shot a man who crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel for as-yet unknown reasons on Sunday, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the suspect was flown to the hospital to treat his injuries.

The military said the suspect crossed into Israel near Mount Dov, also known as Shebaa Farms, a contested area along the border that is claimed by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

The Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar news outlet reported that the man was a shepherd with Syrian citizenship, walking his flock through the area.

“The event is being investigated,” the IDF said.

The incident came just two weeks after Israeli troops detained five people who tried to cross into the country from Lebanon.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said at the time that the suspects appeared to be Sudanese migrants looking for work. “The suspects were caught as they tried to cross the security fence,” the army said. The five men were sent back to Lebanon, the IDF spokesperson said.
Israeli drinking-water generator donated to Gaza hospital
Children and staff at Gaza’s only pediatric cancer hospital now have access to safe drinking water thanks to an atmospheric water generator (AWG) from Israel’s Watergen.

Pulling water out of air is a remarkable feat. And so was getting the 780-kilo GEN-M machine to Gaza City from Israel via the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

Due to ongoing attacks launched from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Israel carefully controls the transfer of materials through Kerem Shalom. And the coronavirus crisis has further limited cross-border activity.

But Watergen President Michael Mirilashvili was determined to help once he found out about the hospital’s dire need from Fayez Husseini of Mayet Al Ahel, a Palestinian Authority company that facilitates water and power projects in Gaza. (Mayet Al Ahel means “community drinking water” in Arabic.)

“When the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund informed us of the water situation and how it is affecting the cancer ward, the project and timing were challenging,” Husseini said.

“It came during the early global coronavirus lockdown; we did not know if we could find a partner to work with us and we were not sure if we could even move anything into Gaza as everything was shutting down,” he continued.
The diplomatic potential in developing Gaza’s offshore gas field
Israel, Hamas and Egypt have long been debating whether to move ahead with an arrangement on Gaza and how to do so.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has to a large extent been excluded from this discussion, especially due to the absence of a significant diplomatic discourse with Israel and its rift with Hamas.

Israel’s interest lies in advancing such a move, but in a manner that also leaves room for the PA’s involvement in order to ensure the broad legitimization required. The PA’s involvement also serves Israel’s long-term interest in preventing the strengthening of Hamas at the expense of secular elements in the Palestinian national movement.

Development of the Marine gas field off the Gaza coast is a new element that could and should help in this regard. The development could take place under the auspices of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) established last year in Cairo.

In the Palestinian Authority, Journalism in the Service of the Revolution
Approximately six weeks ago, a group of Palestinian youth gang-raped a foreign tourist in the city of Bethlehem, an important tourism hot spot in the central West Bank. Though there are photographs of the violent crime, the Palestinian Authority sought to cover up the incident, keeping it out of the Palestinian and Israeli media on the grounds that “the national interest must be protected.” Coverage of the rape, said the officials, would harm tourism in the Bethlehem area.

Nevertheless, a handful of independent Palestinian journalists covered the rape. Israeli journalists, on the other hand, completely ignored the incident although they were aware of it. The one exception was my article in the Hebrew News 1 web site.

The Palestinian Authority has cast a total information blackout on the incident, which it continues to enforce to this day.

This story underscores how the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, is a dictatorship by any measure, just like the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, and just like other similar regimes in the region, including in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and more.

Freedom of the press and freedom of expression exist only superficially. In actuality, the Arab regime trample these freedoms and forcibly co-opt media outlets as government mouthpieces. Whoever undercuts the government ends up in interrogations, under arrest, torture or even worse, as witnessed by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Palestinian Authority is cut from the same cloth and has even legislated the “law of electronic crimes” enabling the authorities to take disciplinary actions against anyone who publishes criticism of the government in social media.
BBC reporting on a US official’s visit to Israel promotes specific framing
On May 13th the BBC produced two items about a short visit to Israel by the US Secretary of State which are noteworthy because of their preemptive framing of what the BBC apparently sees as an upcoming news topic.

On the BBC News website’s live ‘Coronavirus page’ an item appeared under the heading “Pompeo flies to Israel for talks despite pandemic”. Readers were told that:
“At a joint news conference, during which they did not wear face masks, Pompeo and Netanyahu said they would discuss Covid-19 and Iran. Pompeo accused Iran of fomenting terrorism even during the pandemic, while Netanyahu likened the country to another “plague” threatening the region.

They will also discuss Israeli plans to annex Jewish settlements and other land in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinians want as part of a future state. The plans stem from President Donald Trump’s so-called “vision for peace”, on which Pompeo said there was “work to do”.”

The same day’s afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ also included a report about the visit by Tom Bateman.

Convoluting the Context on Settlements
Last year, we called out the Los Angeles Times over a staff editorial with a deeply flawed take on West Bank settlements. With increasing talk of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank, it’s crucial the Times gets the story right.

Unfortunately, the paper continues to struggle with that topic. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel, but the Times would have been better off writing a staff editorial rather than foreign affairs writer Tracy Wilkinson’s dispatch from Washington ahead of the visit. Years ago, Wilkinson worked in Israel for the LA Times.

Her context was still convoluted.

Readers of the Times would easily get the impression that settlements reflect an expansionist Israel thanks to this oversimplified line:

Israel seized the land during the 1967 Middle East War and proceeded to build scores of Jewish settlements, now housing hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

To clarify the historical context here, the Six Day War was a preemptive attack on the armies of Egypt and Syria, which had massed their armies on Israel’s borders. Egypt’s closure of the Straits of Tiran was technically a casus belli. Despite Israeli pleas that Jordan stay out of the fighting, King Hussein’s forces began shelling Israeli positions. Israel counter-attacked, quickly routing the Jordanians from the West Bank.

After the war, Israel offered to return the lands it captured in exchange for peace. The gesture was met with the Arab League’s famous Three Noes. The rest is history.

That’s a far cry from the Times’ description of simply “seized.”

Bosnia: Thousands march to protest against Mass for Nazi collaborators
Thousands took to the streets of Bosnia Saturday to march in protest against a Mass held to commemorate Croatia's Nazi collaborators and civilians killed after World War II.

The annual service, usually held in Austria at the site of the Croatian regime's last stand, was moved to Sarajevo this year due to coronavirus restrictions. Only about 20 people attended the service which, like the march, ended without incidents.

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the Bosnian government to ban the Mass, labeling it a "travesty of memory and justice."

Sarajevo Archbishop Vinko Puljic, who held the Mass in the Bosnian capital's cathedral, earlier rejected the accusations and said praying for victims' souls did not mean approval of their acts.

The service provoked outrage from most political parties, Jewish leaders, the Serbian Orthodox Church and anti-fascist NGOs, who held a march during the Mass in central Sarajevo.

The marchers, who rallied despite a ban on public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, sang songs linked to the anti-Nazi struggle.
Man who spent his life hunting down stolen Nazi art dies from COVID-19
David Toren, 94, a retired patent lawyer who made it his life's mission to recover stolen art looted from his family by the Nazis, died from complications surrounding the novel coronavirus.

In 2014, Toren sued Germany and the state of Bavaria, with a court in Washington DC Bavaria’s Justice Ministry, for the return of paintings he says were stolen from his uncle by the Nazis in 1939 and which German authorities uncovered in 2012 among a secret collection of 1,400 art works.

Toren, had a claim on “Two Riders on the Beach” by German Impressionist Max Liebermann, who was also Jewish.

He was the heir of David Friedmann, an industrialist from Breslau who owned the painting from at least 1905 to 1939. Toren told Reuters in 2014 he could remember the picture hanging on the wall of his great uncle’s villa before the war.

Toren escaped Nazi Germany at the age of 14 but lost most of his family in the Holocaust.

Friedmann died in 1942. Toren escaped from Germany and spent the war in Sweden. His older brother reached the Netherlands and now lives in London, but their parents perished at Auschwitz.

The German government’s handling of the find was severely criticized by groups representing owners of art seized by the Nazis. Germany failed to publish a full list of the works until a court ordered it to do so.
Germany Eases Immigration Regulations for Jews Coming From Former Soviet Union
Germany’s government has announced that it has eased immigration rules for Jews arriving from the former Soviet Union.

The new regulations will primarily impact Jews that are more than 60 years old and handicapped, in addition to disabled adults of any age. Those Jews will no longer need to partake in a projection of how they would adapt to German society, or an “Integrationsprognose.”

Additionally, rules regarding family reunification for Jewish spouses and parents will be eased.

Since 1990, more than 200,000 Jews have immigrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union.

“Germany has long been a popular destination for Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, counting more than 200,000 Jewish immigrants since 1990. Although immigration to Germany has been made easier since that time, leaving some of the former Soviet nations remains challenging. Over recent decades, an increasing number of families have been separated due to strict immigration rules,” reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“With the new rules for Jewish immigrants, the federal government has come to a socially responsible decision, fulfilling its historical responsibility,” said Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a statement on Wednesday. “For that, the Jewish community is very thankful.”
Gal Gadot channels Golda Meir in address to 2020 graduates
Israeli actress Gal Gadot channeled former Prime Minister Golda Meir in an address to 2020 graduates on CNN, telling them to "Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life."

"With this moment in your life, when school is done but your next steps are unclear in this somewhat uncertain world, you might feel powerless at times," Gadot said on the CNN special: "Class of 2020: In This Together."

"So I urge you to think of these words," she continued, "Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. Those words were spoken by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. She was the first female prime minister for Israel, and these words had a profound influence on many young people like myself growing up in Israel."

Gadot encouraged the 2020 graduates to "start and create your own special story in the world."

"I'm telling you there is nothing you cannot do if you put your heart and mind and all that you have learned into it," said the Wonder Woman actress.

"You know to me, Wonder Woman is a fighter, but it's what she fights for that matters," added Gadot. "So fight for your place in this world because you've earned it, you've worked so hard to get to this moment and no matter how unclear our future may seem, your future is bright and it starts today. Congratulations."

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


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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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