Saturday, May 30, 2020

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: Twitter censors Trump for glorifying violence, lets Iran threaten Israel
Twitter on Thursday flagged a tweet by US President Donald Trump for “glorifying violence,” disabling re-tweets and comments. In the Tweet Trump had written that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Yet Tweets by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei calling for arming Palestinians, destroying Israel and “Jihad” remained without similar Twitter flags. The company provided no explanation for what defines “glorifying violence” and does not provide a way to report tweets specifically for this issue.

The tweet that Twitter flagged included references to “thugs” and the clashes in Minneapolis after a police officer was caught on video putting his knee on the neck of an African-American man. The man died and days of protests and increasing clashes, including burning of buildings, has resulted. Twitter flagged the tweet and provided a link to “learn more” which explained that due to “public interest” it had allowed the tweet to remain on twitter. This added to lack of clarity over how Twitter makes decisions to flag certain tweets and why it has not singled out tweets by authoritarian regimes, such as Iran, which often glorify violence.

In recent weeks as Iran’s regime sought to commemorate Quds Day it has called Israel a “virus” and “cancerous” and called for Palestinians to “liberate” the country. It has said they should be armed and that Iran supports Palestinian “fighters.” Khamenei tweeted on May 22 that “one cannot communicate with a savage enemy except by force.” A subsequent tweet urged “Jihad” against Israel, “everyone must help the Palestinian fighters.” He writes that “the struggle to free Palestine is Jihad in the way of God, Victory in a struggle has been guaranteed because a person, even if killed, will receive ‘one of the two excellent things.’” This is a reference to religious rewards for being killed fighting. He also wrote that the “Zionist regime is a deadly cancerous growth” and that it must be “uprooted and destroyed.”

Calling for a country to be uprooted, destroyed and calling it “cancerous” and urging armed fighters to be killed fighting it were not labelled as “glorifying violence” by Twitter. Instead, Khamenei’s incitement can be retweeted at will. This leads to questions about what standard Twitter uses and how it makes decisions. None of these details are provided transparently by the company. There is no way to report tweets specifically for this issue or find out what guidelines the platform uses to decide.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera Network Broadcasts Islamist Cleric’s Appeal to ‘Kill Jews’
The Qatar-owned satellite network Al Jazeera broadcast a crudely antisemitic interview with a leading Muslim cleric who called for the violent conquest of the State of Israel.

“Victory will not come on a golden platter. Victory is achieved through the blood of martyrs and over the skulls of the enemies. Victory is achieved by sacrificing money, life, and all that is precious,” Dr. Abduljabbar Saeed — head of the Quran and Sunnah Department in Qatar University’s Shari’a Faculty — declared on Al Jazeera on May 16, in a clip translated by the Washington, DC-based think tank Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI).

“We will not accept the [Israeli] occupation’s existence on a single centimeter of [Palestine] under any circumstances,” Saeed said.

The cleric went on to quote a hadith (saying) of the Prophet Muhammad frequently cited by Islamists in support of their eternal enmity toward Jews: “The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.’ This is a promise made by Allah and His Messenger. [The Prophet said:] ‘The Muslims will kill [the Jews], until the rocks and the trees say: ‘Oh Servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'”

Qatar launched an ill-fated outreach to influential American Jews in 2017 as it sought to change its negative image in the Jewish community worldwide. Despite the initial fanfare, the effort petered out the following year.
Phyllis Chesler on the Fight against Honor Killings
Phyllis Chesler, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, emerita professor of psychology and women's studies, and the author of eighteen books, spoke to participants in a May 18 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the barbaric practice of honor killing and how to combat it.

Honor killing is the "cold blooded murder of girls and women by their families of origin." In a "shame and honor tribal culture, ... a girl's virginity and reproductive capacity, her fertility, are owned by her family, literally. Not by the girl herself. She represents their honor," Chesler explained. "If a girl is seen as damaged goods, her family will then be responsible ... no one will marry their other children or deal with them economically. They'll be shunned." The only way the family can "cleanse themselves of this shame [is] with blood – her blood."

The list of offenses that can trigger an honor killing is long, including engaging in sex outside of marriage, refusing an arranged marriage, marrying outside of one's religious sect or cast, having infidel friends, and becoming too Westernized. Since the aim is to recapture family honor, not punishment, it matters little whether the accusations are true. In rare cases where honor killers are prosecuted, according to Chesler, "they claim that they're only acting in self-defense, that communal norms drove them to it."

Unlike domestic violence against women in Western countries, where the perpetrators are almost exclusively men, usually acting alone and spontaneously, "honor killings are carefully planned conspiracies." Typically there is a "designated hands-on killer" acting in collaboration with other relatives, including "mothers, sisters, and aunts." The involvement of female relatives is common, according to Chesler, as
women have internalized the same patriarchal and tribal beliefs that men have and, in addition, they're responsible for keeping their daughters in line. They will pay a heavy price if their daughters dishonor the family. So very often ... mothers will lure their daughters home saying, 'It's okay, he'll forgive you, we'll work it out.' And then she dies.

Honor killing is "not based in any particular religion," said Chesler, noting that in India, the country where honor killing is by far the most prevalent, it is practiced by both Muslims and Hindus. However, Chesler's research has shown that Hindus "only do this in India ... Those who immigrate to the West don't do this." Honor killings in Europe and the United States are "mainly a Muslim-on-Muslim phenomenon."

Pandemic not behind us, next few days are a test, warns Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Saturday of “a steep increase” in new coronavirus infections in Israel in recent days, but said it was too early to tell whether there would be an upward trend that would warrant the reimposition of closures.

Israel has had some important successes in fighting the global pandemic, Netanyahu said during a televised statement, but the crisis “is not behind us.”

“We put out the flames of the coronavirus but there are still embers, and any light wind could reignite these flames,” the prime minister said.

The Health Ministry on Saturday evening said that a sharp dip in coronavirus infections was recorded over the past 24 hours, with just 25 new confirmed cases. The announcement came as authorities were voicing concerns about a possible new COVID-19 wave after a spike in new infections over the past several days, including 121 cases between Friday and Saturday morning.

Israel currently has 1,917 active cases, with a majority under medical care at home and just 116 in hospital. Of those cases, 36 are in serious condition with 34 requiring mechanical ventilation. In Israel, 284 people have died of the virus since the outbreak reached the country earlier this year.

Previously, Israel had seen weeks where new diagnoses hovered at around 20 or less a day. Friday’s announcement marked the first time that the 100 mark has been breached since May 2. That lull allowed Israel to relax most lockdown restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus.

Condemning what he termed a “loosening” of Israelis’ adherence to social-distance rules, Netanyahu on Saturday said the coming days will be a “test” to see whether restrictions will need to be put back in place.
Moderna: First patients dosed with COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 2 study
Moderna Inc. announced over the weekend that it dosed its first participants in each age cohort with its COVID-19 vaccine in the company’s Phase 2 study.

In a release, the biotechnology company explained that the study will evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of two vaccinations of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart.

Some 600 people are expected to take part in the study (around 300 18- to 55-year-olds and the same number of people over the age of 55), who will be tracked for 12 months. Participants will be given a placebo, or a dose of 50 or 100 micrograms at each vaccination.

Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration granted mRNA-1273 Fast Track designation.

The company’s chief scientist is Israeli-born Tal Zaks, who earlier this month told N12 that he is “not surprised that the vaccine works.”
He highlighted that the company has already been successful in developing vaccines for eight other viruses, including several specifically targeting respiratory infections.

Moderna released early data from its Phase 1 trial on May 18, that showed the vaccine produced protective antibodies in a small group of eight healthy volunteers.
Fauci protégé sending gallons of Israeli blood to US to probe virus mysteries
Gallons of Israeli blood will be packed in liquid nitrogen on Monday and rushed to America’s national health agency, in the hope it will help to solve some of the biggest mysteries of the coronavirus.

Daniel Douek, the scientist who collected the thousands of samples, conducted an initial analysis and prepared them for shipment, said that he is “extremely excited” that they are leaving for the US.

Douek is a principal investigator at the National Institutes of Health, America’s primary agency for biomedical and public health research. His colleagues at the Maryland HQ will be taking delivery of the samples.

As he readied them for collection, he spoke to The Times of Israel about how his sabbatical in Israel turned in to a frantic race to conduct research on protecting people from coronavirus — and said he has “no doubt” that efforts will end with success.

The NIH is determined to cast its net globally for coronavirus research. But few countries match Israel’s organized stock of blood samples from both healthy and sick citizens, and this has turned the country into an important center for NIH research, said Douek, a human immunologist.

He said that the project in progress aims to enable doctors, based on assessments of patients’ blood — cross-referenced with follow-up information on how they fare — to assess early on who is at risk of a sudden deterioration, and give them tools to intervene.

“Really understanding this would be a mark of success, and I’ve no doubt we will get there,” he said.

He called Israel a “golden source” for the samples he needs, saying: “Israel’s role is very central, because we’re getting big bleeds and there are lots of samples available and they are well stored.” This is due to the high level of blood testing and meticulous record-keeping, he added.
A Jewish and a Palestinian scientist team up for MIT at-home coronavirus test
Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, a silver lining is that researchers from diverse cultural backgrounds are coming together to work on the response — as Jewish-American Jonathan Gootenberg and Palestinian-American Omar Abudayyeh can attest.

Gootenberg and Abudayyeh both work at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They are collaborating with the Broad Institute-based laboratory of MIT neuroscience professor Feng Zhang, which released a protocol of an at-home coronavirus test on May 8.

“I think it speaks to one of the many ways science can transcend cultural boundaries,” Gootenberg said in a Zoom call with members of the Zhang lab and The Times of Israel.

The duo, who both grew up in the United States, have worked together very closely over the last five years. Abudayyeh credited some of their productivity to their diverse backgrounds.

Their achievements include helping develop a viral detection technique called SHERLOCK, or specific high-sensitivity enzymatic reporter unlocking. Using SHERLOCK, they worked with members of the Zhang lab on the test, which they compare to a pregnancy test. It can use either a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab or saliva sample in detecting whether a person has the coronavirus.

“Our main goal is to simplify as much as possible for point-of-care, at-home testing,” Abudayyeh said.
The Morality of Israel’s ‘Annexation’
In a previous essay, I have written about Israel’s moral right to annex Judea and Samaria. I want to now turn to the actual morality of annexation of Judea and Samaria as it relates to the so-called creation of a future Palestinian state. Annexation as it applies to Judea and Samaria is simply a preposterous term. Israel cannot annex land that is indigenously the land of the Jews that was repeatedly stolen from them over millennia. It properly re-captured those lands in a 1967 offensive war against it. The term is a non-concept here—a true misnomer. Nevertheless, for the sake of expediency we will use it since it has traction in the political world. The ethical upshot of annexation is two-fold.

First, it recovers territory that is historically the property of the state of Israel. Second, it will, over time, and if applied consistently and with moral implacability, incarcerate the terrorist organization that is the Palestinian Authority. Some regimes can be politically rehabilitated, ethically placed in trusteeship, and then released back into the global commons. The PLO and then the PA have always been politically rogue institutions. The PA today betrays civilizational maturity by engaging in thuggery and terrorism that engender—among other things—national destabilization.

Rogue institutions such as the PA posing as a representative of a legitimate state or claiming the right to initiate statehood, pose threats to those who fall within their geographical ambits. They defile the individual rights of their citizen and residents in a way that undermines their legal personalities and moral integrity. The PA as a rogue governing body consciously removes the possibility of a lasting peace by subjugating human beings in the regional, local or global community to continuous fear by: a) exposing them directly to the threat of war; b) compromising or destroying those institutions that are devoted to maintaining a peaceful regional, state, and world order; and c) inflicting deliberate political, economic and general oppression against its own people. Rogue political governing bodies are not just inimical to the moral order of an existing ethical state—in this case Israel—they are political ballasts.

The morality of annexation of Judea and Samaria lies in its ability (if its architects so desire) to dissolve, over time, the PA; to show that its reach for autonomy and sovereignty was already violated before it achieved any such status: its systemic violence and reigns of terror disqualified it from any right of sovereignty. Once a rogue political body is divested of its sovereign status then it can have no political or legal standing in the international community—let alone demand right of existence within a legitimate democracy such as Israel. Should the PA seek violent reprisals against Israel’s moral right to reclaim its historic holy lands, then Israel has the right to disband the PA, incarcerate its political actors and practice a new form of political eugenics that would see the radical resocialization of the moral and political sensibilities of those Palestinians who reside within its geographical boundaries. Such individuals who have long existed outside the historical process largely because of their socialization in death cults and by soul-killing ideologies, would re-achieve their right of belonging to the state. The process could be long; it could take generations, however, the supremacy of Israel and the rise of Judea and Samaria simply cannot exist without the dismantling of the de jure and de facto sovereignty that the Palestinian Authority enjoys.

Individuals cannot be auctioned off. However, if the PA is divested of its sovereignty and recognized for what it is: a morally feral panopticon; and further, if it is divested of its sovereignty given that it has violated the conditions under which sovereignty itself is justified, then it exists in a state of nature. The vacuum left there is to be filled, and residents there re-fashioned by the state. Subjects there can re-enter the historical process and enjoy freedom in an order governed by Israeli law. So long as Israel protects the individual rights of the Palestinians as individuals and not as members of some invented group, then there can be no true ethical dilemma in regards to exercising sovereignty and rulership of individuals who, heretofore, had been living in a state of nature, one outside the historical process. Rescued from this political state of nature they would matriculate within the boundaries of a civilized nation-state in a manner subject to the procedural protocols of Israeli Intelligence and other security and defense institutions created to protect the security and eternal permanence of sovereign Israel.

Foreign Affairs Magazine, ‘Palestinian Land,’ and the Press
A veteran U.S. diplomat has simultaneously rewritten history and, if accidentally, forsworn the need for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to both Egypt and Israel, used terminology that is both inaccurate and misleading.

Indyk’s May 26, 2020 op-ed, “Israel’s New Government is a Many-Headed Hydra,” discusses obstacles that the new Israeli government might encounter. Indyk views as a positive the fact that current Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu struck a deal with his rival, Benny Gantz, allowing the latter to serve as Defense Minister for 18 months before the two swap posts. The former Clinton and Obama administration official asserts that Gantz’s influence will result in “pragmatism” that “will be critically important when it comes to annexation, the only policy issue that was written into the Netanyahu-Gantz governing agreement [emphasis added].”

Indyk adds: “Netanyahu insisted that after July 1, he have the right to bring to the cabinet his campaign commitment to annex the Jordan Valley and all 131 of the West Bank settlements, constituting some 30 percent of Palestinian territory [emphasis added].”

But both “annexation” and “Palestinian territory” are misleading.

As Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of constitutional and international law at George Mason University, has observed: “Annexation in international law specifically means taking the territory of a foreign sovereign country.” And neither the Jordan Valley nor the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) counts as belonging to a “foreign sovereign country.”

Regrettably, Indyk is far from the only person to incorrectly use the phrase “annexation” when discussing the situation—numerous news outlets and political figures, U.S., Israeli and otherwise have done so, as well. Nevertheless, the terminology is incorrect.

Austrian MPs want Iran-backed Hezbollah banned within European Union
Political representatives from the coalition parties governing Austria in the country’s parliament introduced on Friday a resolution urging the European Union to reassess Hezbollah’s entire organization as a terrorist movement.

According to a statement on the website of the Austria’s national council, the formal name for its parliament, a number of members of the legislative body declared that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

"Hezbollah wants to destroy Israel and propagates antisemitism and spreads radical Islamic ideology," said Reinhold Lopatka and Michaela Steinacker, both of whom are MPs from the conservative Austrian People's party—the lead partner in the conservative and Green coalition government in Austria.

The two MPs added that Hezbollah’s entity should be classified as a terrorist organization.

Lopatka added that there is need to put an end to the formation of the legend that Hezbollah’s terror attacks are “just resistance.”

The resolution urged Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s administration to advocate on the EU level that Hezbollah’s entire organization be reassessed in connection with a full terror designation.

The Austria People’s party MP Martin Engelbert noted that the separation of Hezbollah into political and military wings is an “invention” of the EU.
IDF: Suspect tries to ram troops in West Bank, is shot and ‘neutralized’
Israeli troops on Friday thwarted an attempted car-ramming attack in the northern West Bank, shooting the assailant, the military said. There were no injuries to the soldiers.

The terror suspect was shot and “neutralized” by troops while trying to run them over near the Halamish settlement, the Israel Defense Forces said without giving further details.

Hebrew media reports said the driver, a Palestinian, was killed.

No Israeli soldiers were injured.

There have been a number of attacks and attempted assaults on Israelis and IDF troops in recent weeks, with a top defense official reportedly warning of a potential wave of violence if Israel unilaterally annexes parts of the West Bank.

According to Army Radio, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians — told army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that annexation “was likely to lead to a wave of terror attacks.”

Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that his security forces were halting coordination with Israel over the new government’s stated intention to apply sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley.

While Israeli security officials have confirmed the PA has ended security cooperation, Channel 13 reported that Ramallah had sent messages to Israel saying it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising.

Though not widely discussed publicly, Israel’s cooperation with Palestinian security forces has been credited with thwarting many major terror attacks and being a significant factor in the relative calm in the West Bank in recent years.
Police shoot dead East J’lem man with special needs, thought he was holding gun
Police in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday morning shot dead a man who they said was thought to be “holding a suspicious object that appeared to be a gun.” The man reportedly had special needs and did not understand the officers’ calls to stop.

Hebrew media reported that East Jerusalem resident Iyad Halak, 32, was not armed.

Police said the man was asked to stop by officers stationed near the Lion’s Gate, a site of multiple attacks in the past, which led to a brief chase on foot. Police fired at the suspect to “neutralize” him during the chase; Hebrew media reported there were at least seven shots fired toward Halak, some as he hid in a garbage room.

Halak had been on his way to a special needs educational institute in the Old City where he studied. His father told the Kan public broadcaster he believed his son was holding his cellphone when he was first spotted by the police.

“We tell him every morning to keep his phone in his hand so we can be in contact with him and make sure he has safely arrived at the educational institution,” he said.

His father, Kheiri Hayak, told Channel 13 news that police searched the family home after the shooting, despite there being no evidence Halak was armed. “They found nothing,” he said.

Hayak said his son walked to the educational institute on the same route every morning and that police forces have likely seen him before. He told Channel 13 the incident occurred close to the entrance to the institute, about 100 meters away.

His mother claimed to Channel 12 that he was “killed in cold blood.”

Police have opened an investigation and two Border Police officers were questioned over the shooting.
Police officer under house arrest after killing of special needs East J’lem man
A Border Police officer was placed under house arrest and his commander was released from police custody under restrictive conditions as investigators probe the circumstances surrounding the shooting death on Saturday morning of an East Jerusalem man on the autism spectrum.

Iyad Halak, 32, was shot dead on Saturday morning in Jerusalem’s Old City, with police saying he appeared to be holding a gun. Halak was unarmed and had apparently not understood the officers’ orders to stop as he passed near the Lion’s Gate. He reportedly fled on foot and hid in a garbage room.

The policemen gave conflicting accounts of the events with the commander telling investigators he had urged his subordinate to cease fire, an order that was not followed, he said, according to reports in the Hebrew media.

The officer denied the commander’s account.

The two were questioned under caution on Saturday, the Kan news broadcaster reported.

Hamas wants 'intifadah' after Iyad al-Hallak shooting, protests expected
Hamas blamed Israel's governmment in response to the shooting of 32-year-old special needs student Iyad al-Hallak on Saturday, saying in a statement that "the execution of a Palestinian with special needs proves the sadism of the Israeli leadership."

"Such crimes are a fuel for the Palestinian people's revolution, which will not stop fighting until the withdrawal of the occupiers from all our lands," the organization said. "The response of our people, every time, will be continued resistance and intifada."

Following the incident, the gates to the old city have been closed by Jerusalem police, in fear of protests. The Temple Mount is scheduled to reopen tomorrow.

On Saturday, a protest titled "Murder in the Streets: Justice for Iyad al-Hallak" is scheduled to start in Jerusalem at 8:30 p.m., while another is scheduled to start in Jaffa at 7:30 p.m.
IDF apprehends 3 suspects caught crossing border from Lebanon
Israeli troops on Friday apprehended three suspects caught trying to cross from Lebanon into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“IDF troops were present at the scene and monitored the suspects, who were apprehended during their attempt to cross the security fence. The incident does not appear to be an attempted terror attack,” the statement said.

The incident came after a number of recent attempts to breach the border fence, including by Sudanese migrants apparently looking for work. Lebanon is in the midst of a massive economic crisis, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier Friday, Israeli soldiers fired warning shots after a suspect in Lebanon neared the border with Israel.

The shepherd approached the border near Mount Dov, also known as Shebaa Farms, a contested area that is claimed by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

He was spotted by IDF lookouts before troops fired warning shots in the air.

Israel Radio quoted IDF sources saying the Hezbollah terror group has increasingly been using shepherds to gather intelligence on the military’s operations in the area. There were no reports of injuries.
'Failed cyberattack on Israel was designed to trigger disaster'
The failed Iranian cyberattack on a minor water facility in central Israel earlier this month was "designed to trigger a humanitarian disaster," National Cyber Directorate head Yigal Unna said Friday.

"The word 'fast' doesn't do justice to the hectic pace at which things are happening in the cyber sphere. We will remember this past month as a point of change in the history of modern cyberwars," Unna told a conference on cyber developments.

"The attempt to attack Israel was coordinated and organized with the aim of crippling our humanitarian water system. This is not critical state infrastructure and we were able to prevent the attack, but had it been successful, we would have found ourselves – in the midst of the coronavirus crisis – dealing with some damage to the civilian population and even temporary water shortages, or the introduction of chlorine or other chemicals in the wrong doses that could have ended with a disaster," he said.

While Unna did not name Iran as the culprit, he noted that "the attacker, according to foreign media reports, was a certain state actor. We do not comment on the aggressor's identity, but we can say that this was not a cybercrime or a ransomware attack.

"This [attack] was specifically aimed at causing damage to the physical sphere through command and control systems. This is the first time we have seen something like this, compared to attacks that target databases, which are also serious."
Anti-Semitism spreads during pandemic in Turkey, community says
As Turkey grappled with one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the world, a group of Jewish Turks was noticing another outbreak in the country: one of anti-Semitism spreading through the media.

Dani Albukrek, 21, a Jewish Turk living in Istanbul, says Turkish social media users have been promoting conspiracy theories against Jews and Israel, such as the theory claiming Israel and the Jews invented the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

When Israel declared its first confirmed COVID-19 infection, Twitter accounts in Turkish celebrated the announcement. When the Turkish interior minister temporarily resigned over a botched lockdown, tweets accused Jews of being behind the scandal.

In another incident, a video posted online showed the driver of a minibus speaking with passengers about Jews creating viruses. Meanwhile, a prominent columnist has been writing conspiracy-filled articles on the pandemic and its connection to a wealthy Jewish family.

“In Turkey, we can see constant anti-Semitism in social media, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram,” Albukrek says.

He insists that he and his family were not living in fear, but recognized the Jewish community in Turkey has several security concerns, as evidenced by the tight security at synagogues, which were closed due to the pandemic.

“Most of my friends, if they’re meeting someone that they don’t know in the street, will not say their names or reveal their Jewish identity," Albukrek says, "they'll simply say that they are from Spain, because we are Sephardic Jews."

Albukrek has been helping keep track of hate speech as part of a group in Turkey called Avlaremoz, which reports about anti-Semitism in the media.
Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Qatar form troubling new alliance
The name of fugitive Indian Salafi Islamist preacher Zakir Naik is little known in the West. Naik, founder of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, is currently being pursued by the Indian authorities on charges of money laundering and hate speech.

Naik is a popular Islamist preacher in his native country. He has been referred to as “perhaps the most influential Salafi ideologue in India” and “the world’s leading Salafi evangelist.” His views on subjects such as homosexuality, apostasy and the Jews are as might be expected (the first two deserve the death penalty, the third “control America”).

The Indian authorities note evidence that two of the seven terrorists who carried out a deadly attack at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 1, 2016, claimed inspiration from his teachings.

In himself, the fugitive preacher is of only passing interest. Naik’s activities are worthy of further note, however, because the list of his supporters and their activities on his behalf cast light on an emergent nexus in the Islamic world deserving of greater attention. This crystallizing alliance looks set to be of considerable consequence in the period opening up, not least for Israel and some of its partners in the region and beyond.

Fleeing from the Indian authorities, Naik has been the lucky recipient of permanent resident status in Malaysia. There, his case has become something of a cause célèbre. The Malaysian Islamic Party, which has four ministers in the current government, is vociferously opposed to acceding to Indian calls for his extradition.

Reports in a number of Indian media outlets claim that the (unusual) granting of permanent residency to the fugitive preacher came as a result of a request from the government of Pakistan. The reports further suggest that “Pakistan is also using its relations with... Turkey and Qatar to provide funding to Zakir Naik.”
Iran Says Nuclear Work Will Not Be Hurt by End of US Sanctions Waivers
A US decision to terminate sanctions waivers that have allowed foreign companies to do some work at Iranian nuclear sites will not affect Iran‘s nuclear program, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) said on Thursday.

The United States said on Wednesday it will terminate the waivers, which had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to carry out work at Iranian nuclear sites.

The role of the foreign firms was agreed in Iran‘s nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, and was intended to help ensure Iran‘s nuclear program would not be used to make weapons.

“The ending of waivers for nuclear cooperation under (the nuclear deal) will not in practice have any effect on Iran’s work,” AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, in remarks reported by ISNA news agency. “Of course America wants its actions to have an effect in line with pressure on Iran, but in practice nothing will happen.”

Under the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and has since reimposed sanctions. Iran has scaled back its commitments under the deal but says it still abides by its overall terms.

The waivers, which officials said expire on July 27, covered the conversion of Iran’s Arak heavy-water research reactor, the provision of enriched uranium for its Tehran Research Reactor and the transfer of spent and scrap reactor fuel abroad.
Exclusive: Cruz calls for criminal investigation of Twitter
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in a letter Friday to the Justice and Treasury departments, is calling for a criminal investigation of Twitter over allegations the company is violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Why it matters: Twitter is already under fire from President Trump for adding fact checks and a warning label, respectively, to misleading and incendiary tweets he made in recent days. Cruz's letter adds another dimension to the tech company's woes in Washington.

Details: Twitter allows Iranian leaders to maintain accounts on its service, and Cruz is asking Attorney General Bill Barr and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to probe whether that violates U.S. sanctions prohibiting American companies from providing goods or services to the country's top officials.

"I believe that the primary goal of (the International Emergency Economic Powers Act) and sanctions law should be to change the behavior of designated individuals and regimes, not American companies," Cruz wrote."But when a company willfully and openly violates the law after receiving formal notice that it is unlawfully supporting designated individuals, the federal government should take action."

The big picture: Twitter has said it's in the public interest to have political figures' speech on its platform, even if some find that speech objectionable.

The company on Friday labeled a tweet from Trump about the unrest in Minneapolis as breaking its rules on "glorifying violence."

The White House and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, among other prominent conservatives, questioned why Twitter hasn't applied similar labels to tweets from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran and Turkey seek to support riots in the US
Regimes based in Turkey and Iran both sought to exploit and support violent protests in the US over the weekend. Turkey is one of the world’s largest jailors of journalists and Iran’s government murdered 1,500 protesters last year, but leaders in both countries cynically sought to exploit recent protests in the US for their own ends.

Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted that “if you’re dark-skinned walking in the US, you can’t be sure you’ll be alive in the next few minutes.”

Former Iranian president, and Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that the killing of George Floyd, the African-American man who was killed by police in Minneapolis, was “deeply disturbing and upsetting’ and that it was part of a plot by world powers and the “current world order.”

He even used the word “nigga” in his tweet, apparently trying to make his tweet seem relevant to Americans.

It is not clear who writes the tweets for Ahmadinejad and Khamenei in English, some of them appear to be taken more from college activists in the US than from the usual terminology of the Iranian regime, which is a theocratic regime with a long history of suppressing minorities and murdering protesters.

Even as Iran’s regime was supporting the protests in the US, which turned violent in many cities over the weekend, the regime in Tehran was gunning down peaceful Kurdish “kolbars” or people who move goods across the border.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is known for ethnically cleansing Kurds in northern Syria and whose army carried out a drone strike that killed two civilians on Saturday in Iraq, also supported the US protests.

He called the US “racist and fascist” and said that the US city of Minneapolis behavior was the result of a “painful manifestation of the unjust order we stand against across the world.”
FCC Chair Asks Why Ayatollah Khamenei’s Tweets Don’t Violate Twitter Guidelines
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai asked Twitter in a tweet why Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s tweets against Israel don’t violate Twitter’s guidelines.

Pai highlighted an assortment of Khamenei’s tweets stating that “the Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous growth” and calling for “firm, armed resistance [against Israel].”

“Serious question for @Twitter: Do these tweets from Supreme Leader of Iran @khamenei_ir violate ‘Twitter Rules about glorifying violence?’” Pai asked.

Richard Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence, similarly tweeted, “For months I’ve called on @Jack & @Twitter to remove this Islamic radical from this platform. And nothing has been done. He denies his people the right to be on twitter while Jack allows him to spew homophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism and violence.”

Pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky similarly tweeted, “Why is it that @Twitter deemed @realDonaldTrump in violation of their rules, but not Iranian leader @khamenei_ir LITERALLY calling for genocide and destruction of Israel?”
Outrage After Far-Left Pro-BDS Group Ties Israel to Minneapolis Police Violence
An attempt this week by the Democratic Socialists of America’s BDS national working group to tie Israel to recent incidents of US police violence against minorities has sparked outrage.

Referring to unrest on the streets of Minneapolis following the recent police killing of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, the group tweeted, “The police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook,” adding, “US cops train in Israel.”

“The racist and brutal tactics used by Israeli military and US cops are purposefully one and the same,” it charged, citing no evidence.

“So-called ‘less lethal’ weapons like tear gas are manufactured in the US and sold to Israel where they are tested and used on Palestinians,” the group claimed, before going on to say, “Surveillance tech is made in Israel & brought to the US to invade the privacy of Black, brown, Muslim, poor, and otherwise marginalized people.”

“This is the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States,” it continued.

The DSA group’s statements were part of an ongoing organized campaign called “Deadly Exchange,” which posits that racist police tactics in the US are Israel’s fault.

Critics say that such claims are a blood libel and responsible for inciting incidents of antisemitic violence.

Trump signs the Never Again Education Act into law
US President Donald Trump signed the Never Again Education Act into law on Thursday, JNS reported, expanding the funding and educational mission of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

The bill requires the USHMM to create educational materials with the intention of increasing awareness about the Holocaust and its meaning among teachers across the country. For this purpose, $2 million will be awarded to the USHMM Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund annually by the US Treasury from 2020 to 2024.

Additionally, an online data-bank with educational materials meant to teach middle school and high school level students about the Holocaust will be created to help teachers tackle the issue. The data-bank will also be created by the USHMM.

Sen. Jacky Rosen called the bill a “first step in centralizing a good quality and authentic curriculum to teach the Holocaust to future generations," the Jewish Insider reported.
Antisemitic Crimes in Austria Climb by Nearly 10 Percent: New Report
Antisemitic incidents in Austria rose by nearly ten percent in 2019, a new report issued on Thursday by the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG) disclosed.

A total of 550 outrages targeting Jews were reported. Six of these involved physical assaults, with 239 instances of abusive behavior, 18 instances of threats, 78 instances of damage and desecration of Jewish property and 209 instances of mass-produced antisemitic literature.

While there was a slight decrease in the number of physical assaults and threats, attacks on property increased by over 50 percent.

In a statement accompanying the report, IKG President Oskar Deutsch said, “Jewish life is an integral part of Austria and most of our fellow citizens know this.”

Continued Deutsch: “Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of people in Austria who stir up antisemitism and who engage in antisemitic acts.”

Describing the capital of Vienna as “a thriving city for Jews,” Deutsch praised the close cooperation between the community and law enforcement agencies in providing “a high level of security, together with the security measures put in place by the community.”

However, he added, “law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times. Our society should strive to ensure that one day these security measures are not necessary. Unfortunately, we are very far away from this objective today.”

In terms of the ideological motivation behind 2019’s attacks, the report noted that “268 incidents were attributed to the right-wing extremists, while 31 incidents were attributed to persons affiliated with radical Islam and 25 incidents were attributed to far left extremists.”
Police investigate antisemitic vandalism at Montreal synagogue
Police in Canada's second largest city, Montreal, Quebec, are investigating an incident of antisemitic vandalism that took place at a small, local home-based synagogue in Côte St-Luc, an on-island Montreal suburb with a large Jewish population, according to Radio Canada on Friday.

B'nai Brith Canada, a watchdog organization that monitors antisemitic activities and attitudes in Canada, said that the incident was “one of the worst such incidents to take place in Canada in years.”

The report noted that vandals damaged Torah scrolls and other religious items, which were stuffed in toilets at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda, an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue.

In addition to defacing to religious items and property damage, antisemitic graffiti was also scrawled on the walls, according to Ralph Amar, a member of the congregation who was the first to discover what took place.

He had gone to the synagogue to gather religious items on Wednesday prior to the holiday of Shavuot, which began on Thursday evening and celebrates Jews receiving the Torah and Ten Commandments.

B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement that “Torah scrolls are considered extremely sacred in Judaism, to the extent that damaged scrolls are typically buried in a cemetery, rather than disposed of in any other manner.”
German magazine Spiegel accused of antisemitism against reporter
The reportedly long-festering issue of antisemitism in the ranks of the German magazine Spiegel resurfaced on Friday in a new article that allegedly stokes Jew-hatred against a reporter for Germany’s best-selling Bild paper, according to German Jews and prominent journalistic critics.

In a Spiegel article about the dispute between the German virologist Christian Drosten and Bild over anti-coronavirus measures, Spiegel asked if the Bild reporter Filipp Piatov came to the mass-circulation paper from Israel’s embassy.

The Bild’s editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt, wrote on twitter that Spiegel asked about Piatov coming from Israel’s embassy in Berlin, suggesting Spiegel is fostering an anti-Israel and anti-Jewish conspiracy theory. Piatov worked on an article about Drosten.

Spiegel wrote that Piatov is Reichelt’s “bloodhound” and singled out Piatov’s Jewish background in the article, writing he"came to Germany with his Jewish family" and is "unconditionally uncritical towards Israel."

Sigmount Königsberg, the representative on combating antisemitism for the 10,000-member Jewish community of Berlin, slammed Spiegel on Twitter, writing people "cannot remain silent with The Spiegel’s antisemitism against Piatov.”
80% of Dutch cities involved in theft of Jewish property have no record of it
Most Dutch municipalities were involved in the theft of Jewish-owned real estate during World War II — and most appear to have no record of it, a local report said Wednesday.

Among the 223 municipalities involved, 80 percent have no data about it, according to the report that has been generating a strong public response in the Netherlands.

The report, published Wednesday by the Pointer journalistic platform of the KRO-NCRV Dutch public broadcasting company, featured the first map of the stolen Jewish-owned assets that existed in the kingdom. Their combined worth was equivalent to $640 million today, the report said.

The team that made the map based on archived sales acts and other documents contacted the relevant municipalities to ask for further details and inquire as to their efforts to ensure compensation to the rightful owners, who were often taxed for the forced sale.

Four in five municipalities said they had not been aware of the existence of such real estate prior to the inquiry, Pointer reported. But 60% said they were open to researching the issue. Some municipalities bought or ended up owning property Jews sold under duress.

Amsterdam and The Hague in recent years offered compensation for property and other taxes they had collected from people who fled their homes and survived in hiding.

The leader of the opposition, Geert Wilders, submitted several written questions to the government on the Pointer report’s findings.
Henry Wermuth, the man who tried to derail Hitler’s train, dies at 97
A Holocaust survivor who once attempted a solo mission to kill Germany’s Nazi wartime leader Adolf Hitler by derailing his train has died in London.

Henry Wermuth was 97 when he passed away from organ failure on May 19, the Times of London reported in an obituary. He had recently recovered from a suspected bout of COVID-19. He is survived by his wife Ilana, whom he met after the war, and their two daughters.

Wermuth was the sole survivor among his family. He eventually settled in London, where he built a successful real estate business. He was also a Holocaust educator, telling his story at schools across the UK.

He wrote his memoirs during the 1980s as well as four works of fiction.

Wermuth’s most famous escapade was his attempt on Hitler’s life, for which he was awarded a medal by the German government several decades after the end of the war.

Wermuth was a 19-year-old inmate at a labor camp in Poland in 1942 when he took upon himself to change the course of history, the elderly Holocaust survivor’s daughter Ilana Metzger told The Daily Mail.

At the time, Wermuth was imprisoned, along with his father, at the Klaj ammunition camp in Poland after having been deported from Frankfurt and separated from his mother and sister. Security was not as tight as in concentration camps and he managed to befriend a disgruntled German soldier, Metzger recounted.
Red Sea Jazz Festival sets new date, new venue
Changes are afoot down South. The organizers of the Red Sea Jazz Festival – which other than the curtain-raiser back in 1987, has been an annual fixture slap-bang in the middle of the sweltering summer vacation – have announced that the 34th year will see the festival take on a new guise, and that it has been scheduled for mid-November.

Considering all the cultural calendar cancellations that have been the order of the day worldwide in recent pandemic-dominated months, with little left of the forthcoming summer jazz festival circuit anywhere, it comes as little surprise to hear the announcement from Eilat.

“The corona crisis enforced a different reality on us, and we decided to turn this crisis into an opportunity,” declared upbeat Eilat Deputy Mayor and Municipal Tourism Corporation Chairman Eli Lankari. “We changed the date, we changed the place but we will maintain the quality of the festival, and we’ll upgrade it and make it into an international event, too.”

The upcoming jazz program will be held at the former site of Eilat Airport, currently being re-crafted as the new Terminal Park. The new location is more user-friendly for visitors staying at hotels on and around the town’s northern shore. It also cuts out the need for shuttles and the gridlock that patrons of the summer event have endured over the years as they headed south to the Port of Eilat venue. The November slot also offers more comfortable weather in the bargain.
Silver Surfer as Rabbi Eliezer? Stan Lee book unmasks superheroes’ Jewish roots
When I heard that a new book about Stan Lee was nearing publication, I admit, I kinda shrugged. The late P.T. Barnum-esque head of Marvel Comics spent decades telling his story in interviews, penned an autobiography, had his “Stan’s Soapbox” columns anthologized, was the subject documentaries and DVD features, and continues to get plenty of ink in any volume about the art or business of comic books. Then I saw who was writing this new one — and for what series — and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The book, “Stan Lee: A Life in Comics,” was released on April 21.

Few are better suited to look at Stan Lee’s life for Yale University Press’s ongoing Jewish Lives collection than Liel Leibovitz. The Tablet Magazine writer and co-host of their popular Unorthodox and Daf Yomi podcasts (and, I should probably disclose, friend of mine) exudes a “comic book guy” essence, which, I can not stress enough, I mean as a compliment. He also has a profound knowledge about Jewish texts, and loves nothing more than to ascribe rabbinical significance to what others might consider a piece of pop culture ephemera.

Leibovitz describes the pivotal moment when Stan Lee (born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzburg) argue their way into crafting the first flawed, human superheroes (later known as the Fantastic Four) by drawing a direct line to the origin of the Talmud. This singularity of Jewish history and modern popular myth-making is a colorful wash of energy worthy of Kirby’s bold images and Lee’s patented patter.

While this slim volume has all the necessary biographical details, like Lee’s childhood during the Depression, his war years working on anti-venereal disease material for the Army, and his many great collaborators, the meat of this book is the well-researched and effectively argued analysis of comic book heroes in a Jewish context. The Silver Surfer as Rabbi Eliezer? I may not have bought it before, but now I’m sold.

Liebovitz earns his challah talking and talking and talking some more, and when you get him going about comic books he’s got a lot to say. As such, what follows is a greatly abridged transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity.
13 Jewish facts about ‘Hamilton’ that will make you smile
In the ultimate COVID-19 silver lining, the Broadway smash “Hamilton“ will soon be available to stream from the comfort of your quarantine couch. Huzzah!

Originally set to hit theaters on in October 2021, it was an incredible coup by Disney+ to snag rights to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical. Luckily for everyone forced to self-isolate during the pandemic — and with Broadway theaters shuttered indefinitely — there’s now something to look forward to on July 3 (just in time for America’s birthday, of course).

In honor of this most exciting news delivered at a truly hellacious time, here’s a bunch of Jewish facts about “Hamilton,” the innovative hip-hop musical that tells the tale of the Founding Father on the $10 bill.

1. Is Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, Jewish? Nope — but he’s most certainly an honorary Jew, and we have the receipts to prove it. Born in New York City to a Puerto Rican family, the artist — er, composer, lyricist, producer, actor, singer and playwright — grew up with a lot of Jewish friends. While studying at Wesleyan, Miranda, 40, joined a Jewish a cappella group, the Mazel Tones, and sung a popular rendition of “Hinei Ba HaShalom.” He also later worked as a bar mitzvah dancer to pay his rent. Oh, to be the bar mitzvah boy!

But that’s not all, folks: In 2009, Yeshiva University gave Miranda an honorary degree, prompting him to tweet, “The day I became a Jewish doctor!” A year later, at his wedding, the oh-so romantic newlywed performed a surprise rendition of “To Life!” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Needless to say, his new wife, Vanessa Nadal, was overjoyed. As for us? Listening to Miranda sing in Hebrew had us feeling verklempt — so you can imagine how we felt when he tweeted in Hebrew in March, shortly after coronavirus hit the US.
New ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ movie coming to big screen, with ‘Hamilton’ power
Wonder of wonders: “Fiddler on the Roof” is returning to the big screen.

MGM Studios will produce a remake of the iconic 1964 musical about the struggles and joys of Jewish life in the fictional Eastern European shtetl of Anatevka, according to Deadline.

The new film will bring some star power from Broadway: Director Thomas Kail also directed stage hit “Hamilton” and has collaborated with its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda (famously a “Fiddler” fan), on other shows.

Steven Levenson, who wrote the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen” will pen the screenplay.

The remake will be carrying on a tradition of more than 50 years.

“Fiddler” first had audiences saying “L’chaim” when it opened on Broadway in 1964 starring Zero Mostel as Tevye and winning nine Tonys. It saw many sunrises and sunsets, at one time holding the record for longest-running Broadway musical at nearly 10 years.

Israel’s Chaim Topol starred in London’s 1967 production. The movie version, also with Topol, came out in 1971 and garnered three Oscars, as well as nominations for best actor for Topol and best picture.

Broadway brought back another revival in 2015, and a Yiddish-language “Fiddler” ran off-Broadway until this year.

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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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