Saturday, July 11, 2020

07/11 Links: Peter Beinart’s One-State Call Earns Praise of Israel-Hater Linda Sarsour; 56% of Israelis prefer Trump over Biden as next US president - poll; Has Israel infiltrated Hamas’s military wing?

From Ian:

Peter Beinart’s One-State Call Earns Praise of Israel-Hater Linda Sarsour
While widely panned by mainstream commenters, US Jewish journalist Peter Beinart’s New York Times op-ed earlier this week in which he called for a one-state solution to the Middle East conflict did earn the praise of some on the far-left — including anti-Israel firebrand Linda Sarsour.

In a Facebook post about Beinart’s “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State” article, the Israel-hating Sarsour wrote, “Palestinians have made some of the same arguments that Peter Beinart is making about why a one-state solution is the only way forward but have often been dismissed as antisemites. Maybe Zionists will listen to one of their own. Peter has evolved over the years and I welcome his evolution.”

“Justice, equity, safety and security for ALL is what democracy is supposed to be,” she added. “You can’t be a democrátic state that favors one group over another. You can’t be a democratic state whose survival requires the occupation and dehumanization of another people.”

“Take a read,” Sarsour concluded.

Elan Carr calls J Street annexation tweet antisemitic, sparking argument
The United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, Elan Carr, sparked a heated online argument among renowned global Jewish community contributors when he called out a tweet posted by J Street, a liberal Jewish Middle East lobbying group.

The tweet used an image of US President Donald Trump, his son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, and was captioned "Stop Annexation." Under its call to action, the organization wrote "tell the US Senate: US tax payers should not foot the bill for West Bank annexation."

The tweet references Trump's Middle East peace plan, which allows Israel to to annex up to 30% of the West Bank.

Following J Street's July 7 tweet, Carr denounced the image the next day, stating in his own post.
“How dare @jstreetdotorg use this picture in this context. Their imagery uses #Antisemitism and crude anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to advance their agenda. They should withdraw this and apologize to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and to #Jewish Americans who serve our great country,” Carr tweeted.

Student leaders at historically Black US colleges join Israel advocacy effort
As Marvel Joseph walked down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem for the first time, his grandmother’s words echoed in his head: “Have love for the Jewish people.”

It was 2018 and Joseph, now 23, was visiting Israel as part of AIPAC’s African-American student leader trip. An emotional trip, it was just one stop on the way to his new job as coalitions coordinator with the Maccabee Task Force (MTF). In this role he aims to build support for Israel at historically black colleges and universities, also known as HBCUs.

HBCUs were established in the United States, mostly post-Civil War, to educate freed slaves, who were prohibited from most universities due to racism. Today, about 214,000 students attend about 105 HBCUs nationwide.

Because the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement isn’t as entrenched at HBCUs at other US campuses, the 23-year-old said he considers his job to be “proactive, rather than reactive.”

“My biggest goal is to get pro-Israel advocates on campus. Israel is not a top five issue for a lot of students at HBCUs. BDS is not a big topic either, but I don’t want to wait for the day BDS comes on campus,” Joseph, a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, said in Zoom call with The Times of Israel.

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson founded the Maccabee Task Force in 2015 to oppose BDS and to cultivate support for Israel on campuses across the US. Today the group has a presence on more than 100 campuses.

“There was a time for obvious reasons when Jews and Blacks were united in struggle in America. For a lot of people that was the golden era,” said David Brog, MTF’s executive director.

‘A dangerous people to quarrel with’: Lloyd George’s Secret Testimony to the Peel Commission Revealed
Oren Kessler reveals the secret 1937 testimony given by David Lloyd George to the Palestine Royal Commission. Lloyd George had been prime minister during the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and had remained an unswerving Zionist ever since. He was one of nearly 60 witnesses whom the panel heard in private, and whose testimonies have been kept secret for eight decades. His appears here for the first time; it depicts a boisterous, at times embittered septuagenarian defending the Balfour Declaration on grounds of wartime strategy, and the need to appeal to worldwide Jewry, ‘a dangerous people to quarrel with,’ and ‘a very subtle race.’ Lloyd George was at once ‘Judeophobe and philo-Semite, militarist and appeaser, Zionist champion and Hitler enthusiast’ argues Kessler, author of Fire Before Dawn: The First Palestinian Revolt and the Struggle for the Holy Land, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield.

The Palestine Royal Commission was appointed in summer 1936 to probe the causes and possible remedies of a six-month Arab rebellion that had inflicted £3.5 million in damages, and cost the lives of 80 Jews, 28 Britons and hundreds of Arabs. Its report a year later was a watershed in the Mandate, establishing the ‘two-state solution’ as the template for settling what had become an unignorable national dispute. And yet remarkably, scholars have paid relatively scant attention to the witness testimony that led the commission to a scheme so bold and risky (see Part 1 of this essay, ‘A “Clean Cut” for Palestine: The Peel Commission Reexamined’ in Fathom, March 2020), and one that eight decades later continues to enjoy a broad diplomatic consensus.[1]

Chaired by Lord William Peel, the panel heard 60 witnesses in public sessions – transcribed, collated and published alongside the report by His Majesty’s Stationery Office. But nearly the same number testified in secret[2] — so secret that even the witness list itself was hidden, and witnesses barred from appearing with prepared notes. Transcripts of the sessions were recorded solely for the commissioners’ use and might have been lost or destroyed had not their far-sighted secretary recognised their significance. Delivering them to Whitehall for safekeeping, he scribbled in the initial blank pages that a few copies ought be preserved, as they chronicled ‘an important chapter in the history of Palestine and the Jewish people, and will, no doubt, be of considerable value to the historians of the remote future.’

Exactly eight decades into that remote future, in 2017, Whitehall quietly released them to National Archives at Kew. Only one scholar, Laila Parsons, has so far dipped her toe into the more than 500 oversized pages of small, densely written, twin-column text.[3]⁠

The secret witnesses included the upper crust of the Mandate – administrators like High Commissioner Arthur Wauchope and two of his predecessors, as well as the chief immigration officer and the commander of British forces in the country. They also included Chaim Weizmann, president of the world Zionist Organization, and David Ben-Gurion, chair of the Jewish Agency for Palestine (Arab witnesses – who boycotted most of the proceedings after London refused to halt Jewish immigration – insisted all their own testimony be public).[4] The penultimate testimony, heard after the commission’s return to London, came from David Lloyd George, who had been prime minister during the Balfour Declaration, announcing the Crown’s backing for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, exactly two decades before.
Think tank simulation of annexation predicts ‘escalating events’ would halt it
A leading Israeli think tank held a war game this week simulating a decision by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank, predicted that the annexation move would be suspended amid a series of escalating repercussions, and summed it up by warning of the potentially dramatic negative security and diplomatic ramifications of such a move.

In a summary of the simulation, the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to apply sovereignty over West Bank lands designated for Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal has “returned the Palestinian problem to center stage,” after the Jewish state was able to push the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the sidelines of international and regional focus over the past decade while working to counter Iran.

It predicated a wave of violence and the freezing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and warned that Israeli decision-making on the issue is motivated by short-term tactical thinking rather than strategy. Unilateral annexation, it warns in summary, could prompt “dramatic steps that change the rules of the game.”

In its simulation, as Israel begins moving ahead with annexation, the INSS said, “Almost immediately, a series of escalating events began in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere and beyond. During the game, the increased loss of control over these events spurred the various relevant actors to accede to a plan by the Quartet regarding suspension of both the annexation and establishment of the Palestinian state, and a return to the negotiating table with President Trump’s plan one of the terms of reference for those negotiations, along with the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Trump’s peace plan, which has been rejected by the Palestinian Authority, envisions all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley — which account for some 30 percent of the West Bank — being incorporated into Israel, with the rest set aside for a provisional Palestinian state. As part of his Likud party’s coalition deal with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, Netanyahu was set to advance unilateral annexation of that 30% from July 1, though he said on that date that talks with the US administration on the matter were ongoing.
Anglican support for Israel’s claim to West Bank
Not all Anglicans agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent protest against extending Israeli sovereignty over the part of the West Bank that contains 132 Jewish to. In a letter he cowrote with Roman Catholic Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Justin Welby objects to the Israeli government’s plan “to annex West Bank territory.” He suggests that this would threaten “prospects for peace.”

I am an Anglican priest and theologian who thinks Israel is justified in its extension of Israeli sovereignty over this part of the West Bank. It is not annexation as legally defined in international law, and Jewish Israel has far better claims to the land than do Palestinians.

This is not “annexation.” According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “Annexation by use of force of territory of another state” is a “grave crime of aggression.” It means an offensive war against another state in which the state being invaded has its territory seized. Think of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974. But Israel regained control of the West Bank in 1967 after a defensive war and when the West Bank was not a state.

The modern political status of the West Bank goes back to the 1920 San Remo treaty, which gave the Jewish people a legal right to reconstitute its homeland. The treaty was signed by every one of the 51 members of the League of Nations, which was the international community at that time. The mandate for Palestine (the word then used for the Jewish homeland) was given to Great Britain, and it called for settlement by Jews west of the Jordan River. This land included not only most of what is now Israel proper but also what is now called the West Bank. The San Remo treaty also gave the right of self-determination to Arabs in the mandates for Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia (Iraq). Later, Arabs were given Transjordan as well, which is now the Kingdom of Jordan. The mandate for Palestine was established with the expectation that the Jews there would eventually form a state. Arab interests were to be protected, but no state was envisioned for them in Palestine. Presumably this was because their mandates expected Arab states in Syria, Lebanon, Mesopotamia and Transjordan.
Israel hits another corona record: More than 1,500 new cases in a day
Israel hit a record for the most people diagnosed with coronavirus in a single day, the Health Ministry reported Friday morning.

Some 1,504 people tested positive on Thursday, the same day that the government labeled a new group of cities as “restricted zones.” These include areas of Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, Kiryat Malachi, Lod and Ramle.

In Jerusalem alone, more than 1,200 were diagnosed last week.

As a result of the spike in cases, the Jerusalem municipality announced that its designated situation room to plan strategies for combating
coronavirus will be reopened and operational starting Sunday.

The situation room will focus on transferring infected patients and their families to coronavirus hotels across the country and will include representatives from the IDF Home Front Command, Israel Police, Magen David Adom, local health funds and relevant community administrations.

The purpose of the coronavirus situation room, according to a message issued by the municipality, is to stop the chains of infection and isolate the sick to help prevent further spreading of the virus.

As Shabbat exited, the Health Ministry reported the next round of numbers: Some 1,360 people tested positive on Friday and another 643 between midnight and press time on Saturday.

There are currently 134 patients in serious condition, including 49 who are intubated.
Netanyahu Pledges More Welfare Spending as COVID Forces New Shutdowns
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a new welfare package on Thursday for Israelis who have lost livelihoods due to the coronavirus crisis, saying the measures would provide an economic safety net for the coming year.

A surge in contagion prompted the government to reimpose closures on businesses this week, dashing hopes of a recovery from a record 21% unemployment and stoking anger at the slow payout of $29 billion in aid previously pledged by the state.

In a televised news conference, Netanyahu said Israel would make those who lost jobs to the crisis eligible for welfare through to mid-2021, provide retraining for “coronavirus-era professions” and expedite grants for ailing businesses.

“We want to arrive at a situation where people know how we will manage to live over the coming year,” he said. “It would cover all of the losses, but we have to provide a security net.”
Israelis Protest Against Government Response to Coronavirus
Thousands of Israelis demonstrated on Saturday in Tel Aviv, angered by what they say has been an inept government response to the economic hits they have taken during the coronavirus crisis.

In keeping with restrictions on public gatherings, police limited the number of people allowed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin square for the rally as nearby streets filled with demonstrators wearing face masks.

“I have 40 workers with no income, no money,” said Michal Gaist-Casif, vice president of a sound and lighting company.

“We need the government to pump in money until we’re back to normal. We haven’t been working since mid-March through April, May, June and July, and August is looking to be a catastrophe.”

Israeli media said thousands attended the rally. No official figure for the number of protesters was given.

Unemployment in Israel has soared to 21% since the country went into partial lockdown in March and aid packages promised by the government have been slow to come through, frustrating Israelis who fear they are on the verge of economic collapse.
56% of Israelis prefer Trump over Biden as next US president - poll
A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that more than half (56%) of Israelis think US President Donald Trump is the better candidate than the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden to serve Israel’s future interests.

Participants were asked: “From the standpoint of Israel’s interests, which, in your opinion, of the two candidates in the upcoming US presidential elections is preferable?”

While 26% of interviewees said they did not have an opinion on the matter, more than half (56%) chose Trump, and the remaining 16% chose Biden.
The results mirrored the divisions in Israeli politics, with the majority of those picking Trump coming from the right-wing and center parties, while the majority of the Left chose Biden.

From the Right, 75% chose Trump as being the preferable candidate; 20% said they didn’t have an opinion on the matter; and only 5% percent opted for Biden. While the majority of the Left opted for Biden, the percentage paled in comparison to the Right’s support for Trump. Only 56% percent of left-leaning participants chose Biden, while 25% chose Trump and the remaining 19% percent responded that they didn’t know.

In the center, 46% said that Trump was the better candidate; 20% chose Biden; and 34% chose the “don’t know” option.

Though the survey asked what presidential candidate is best for Israel’s interests, it did not include questions pertaining to what these interests are and why each particular candidate is preferable.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Turkey vows to 'liberate Al-Aqsa' after turning Hagia Sophia to mosque
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “liberate al-Aqsa mosque” from Israel after “resurrecting Hagia Sophia” as a mosque on Friday.

The decision to change the status of the ancient Hagia Sophia church, which had been transformed into a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum in 1934, was made controversially last week.

It follows an increasingly religious authoritarian agenda from Ankara that has made Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists, seen dissidents imprisoned for “terrorism” and witnessed increasing military invasions of neighboring countries by Turkey.

The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the liberation of the al-Aqsa mosque, the Turkish Presidency website says. “The resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come… the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the reignition of the fire of hope of Muslims and all oppressed, wrong, downtrodden and exploited.”

The speech, which was in Turkish, was translated slightly differently to Arabic and English, apparently as a way to hide part of Ankara’s full views on how it has linked Hagia Sophia to a wider agenda.

In Arabic the speech says that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is part of the “return of freedom to al-Aqsa,” essentially meaning Israel should be ejected from controlling Jerusalem’s Old City where al-Aqsa is located.

Turkey’s president linked the decision to reviving Islam from Bukhara in Uzbekistan to Andalusia in Spain. This terminology, linking al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to Hagia Sophia and Spain, is a kind of coded terminology for a wider religious agenda. In the Turkish translation the same reference to Spain does not appear to be included as in the Arabic.

Turkey’s current president has long championed the Palestinian cause and been an extreme critic of Israel, famously walking off the stage at Davos during a discussion with former president Shimon Peres in 2009. Turkey then sent the Gaza flotilla to try to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, leading to the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens when Israeli forces raided the Mavi Marmara ship.

In recent years Turkey’s religious and political authorities have been making increasingly adversarial statements about Israel, vowing to mobilize the “Islamic ummah” in June against Israel’s annexation plans.
East Jerusalem property battle highlights EU attempts to undermine Israel
The Jerusalem District Court rejected a petition filed by an Arab family last week claiming ownership over a house located within the City of David neighborhood/archeological site in east Jerusalem, perhaps ending a nearly 30-year legal battle over the property.

The court ordered that the Sumarin family, currently residing in the building, must evacuate the premises by Aug. 16. The decision follows years of litigation in which city and district courts confirmed that the family has no legal rights to the property and that Himanuta, a subsidiary of Keren Kayemeth -Jewish National Fund, which engages in real estate transactions on their behalf, are the rightful owners of the property.

Nachi Eyal, one of the directors at Himanuta, applauded the Jerusalem District Court's decision.

He explained to JNS that for years, the family was unable to prove legal ownership. "At one stage, the Sumarin family brought documents trying to prove ownership, which a forensic expert declared to be forged," he said.

Eyal added that "following the expert's decision, the family then withdrew the case, trying to avoid the outcome of a judgment rejecting their ownership claim based on the determination that the documents were in fact counterfeit."

A group of more than 30 left-wing organizations in Israel and abroad have formed a body called the "Sumarin Coalition" in an attempt to stop law enforcement from removing the family. The coalition is urging its supporters to send letters to the KKL-JNF requesting that they allow the family to stay, saying they would be rendered homeless.

However, Eyal explained that during the court proceedings, it was proven that the Sumarin family actually has significant assets and owns a residential building in Jerusalem with six apartments. "This clearly shows the falsehood of the campaign, which paints the picture that the family is being thrown into the street with nowhere to go. But that's not the case," he said.

An emailed statement to JNS from Hagit Ofran, head of "Settlement Watch" for the Peace Now organization -- one of the 30 groups supporting the Sumarin family -- said that "in the ruling, the court did not address the most important, fundamental point, which is that the house was taken in plunder."

Peace Now claims that following Israel's annexation of neighborhoods in the eastern side of Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has taken advantage of the Absentees' Property Law, enacted in 1950, to deal with properties abandoned by Arabs in the War of Independence in 1948 in order "to ban families, such as the Sumarin family, from their homes and transfer the assets to the settlers."

Hamas naval commander, suspected ‘collaborator,’ flees Gaza – report
Palestinian terror group Hamas said on Saturday that a senior naval commander in its armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has escaped the Gaza Strip after suspicions arose that he was working for Israel as a so-called “collaborator.”

The term is used to indicate a person who is suspected of sharing information or intelligence with Israel.

The official, said to have overseen the group’s divers unit, fled the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on an Israeli military boat with a laptop, cash, surveillance equipment, and “classified, dangerous documents,” according to a media report citing “sources” on Palestinian news site Amad media, an organization reportedly close to exiled Fatah commander Mohammad Dahlan. The report was picked up by Israel’s Channel 12 and Channel 13 news.

The report said the discovery sent senior Hamas leaders into a “state of hysteria” as the group launched an investigation and made dozens of arrests in search of additional suspects in the alleged spy network. Some half a million dollars and extensive equipment were seized in an unspecified raid, according to the report.

This was the second senior Hamas commander suspected recently of aiding the Jewish state, the report said. A previous suspect, dubbed “Mahmoud,” is said to have been in charge of communications networks for the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya and is believed by Hamas to have been working for Israel since 2009.

The report said “Mahmoud,” 32, arrested by Hamas and charged with spying for Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Has Israel infiltrated Hamas’s military wing?
The sources said that Hamas’s military wing was currently in a state of “security hysteria,” particularly after the arrest of dozens of its members in the past few weeks.

Hamas security forces have seized nearly $500,000 in cash and many electronic devices designated for espionage and eavesdropping.
“Investigations are continuing secretly amid fears that senior commanders of Hamas’s military wing may be involved with the spy network,” the sources said.

Recent reports in a number of Arab media outlets said that Hamas has uncovered a plot by an Islamic State-affiliated cell to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in the Gaza Strip. The cell consists mostly of former members of Hamas’s military wing who quit to join the IS-affiliated group to carry out terrorist attacks against Hamas security installations and figures.

Sources close to Hamas claimed that some of the suspects were linked to Israel.

Last week, the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that Hamas has uncovered a “dangerous plot by the Israeli intelligence services” to launch attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The report said that Hamas arrested a number of Islamic State-affiliated activists who were also planning to carry out a series of suicide bombings in the coastal enclave by using explosive belts and booby-trapped motorcycles.

The report came days after the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior and National Security announced the arrest of a cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the Strip.

“As part of its duty to maintain the stability of the security situation in the Gaza Strip and to confront the attempts by the Israeli occupation and its agents to penetrate the home front, the security services managed to discover a cell, directed by the Israeli occupation, as it was carrying out a sabotage action against resistance elements,” the ministry said. “The security services spotted suspicious movements of a number of people during the past few days and began intensive investigations and operations to track these people, which led to their arrest after a security operation that lasted for several days and the confiscation of technical equipment and money they used to carry out missions inside the Gaza Strip.”
Seth Frantzman: Hamas, Hezbollah seek to unite ‘Islamic ummah’ against Israel - Iran media
Tasnim News agency stressed on Saturday an alliance between Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel over recent annexation plans. While Hamas and Hezbollah have not apparently been in close contact about coordinating efforts, the Iranian media outlet, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, suggested that the two terror groups were both confronting Israel over recent policies.

The article is important because it hints at Iran’s strategy in dealing with Israel in coming months. Iran has suffered setbacks to its missile and nuclear program due to recent mysterious explosions and the Iranian regime has been reticent to blame Israel directly or to respond. Iran is seeking a larger agreement with China in the meantime and the end to an arms embargo. A new crisis with Israel may not be in the regime’s interests. But stoking tensions with Hezbollah and Hamas likely is in Tehran’s interest.

It is in this context that the relatively short article appeared on Saturday. “Hamas and Hezbollah stress the need for unity of the Islamic ummah [community] to counter the conspiracy,” the headline reads. The “conspiracy” refers to Israel’s annexation plans and “depriving rights to Palestinians.”
Explosion shakes buildings in Tehran - report
An explosion was heard in Tehran, shaking buildings in Iran's capital on Saturday night, according to international media.

Jalal Maleki, a spokesman for the Tehran Fire Department, stated that the explosion took place in northern Tehran in the basement of an old two-story house containing about 30 gas cylinders, according to the Iranian ISNA news. Several of the cylinders weighed five kilograms.

The spokesman stated that a person who was injured in the basement was likely working with the cylinders, leading to the initial explosion.
Explosions were reported west of Tehran on Thursday night, with some initial reports claiming that the explosions occurred at a missile depot belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Power outages were reported in the area after the explosions were heard.

Along with the denial of the explosion, Iranian media reported that the mayor of Garmdareh had stated that the explosion was caused by gas tanks, but it was later discovered that the quoted mayor had died over a year ago and that the quoted news was from years ago, according to the Independent Persian.
Soleimani’s fast-fading memory reflects Iran’s sclerotic regime
To what extent former Quds Force head Qassem Soleimani’s spectacular demise at the hands of the Americans affected Iranian capabilities to hurt the United States and its allies is still debatable, but not so for the lessons of his fast-fading memory despite the Iranian regime’s efforts to maintain it.

Analyzing the contours of the memory of Soleimani clearly shows that most of the Iranian population is neither interested in his assassination nor in his “revolutionary” legacy.

As the general and mastermind of the most powerful force behind Iran’s export of its revolution and the creation of the Shi’ite crescent of proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, his fading memory is clearly a reflection that Iran’s population does not support these policies and most probably the regime behind it.

These indelible and undisputed facts are drawn from an analysis of Google trends that record searches of terms and personalities. Searches on Google are not only a reflection of interest but in the popularity of the terms or personalities being searched.

By far the greatest indication of Soleimani’s scant popularity, dead or alive, lies in the relatively little interest he evokes in Iran itself compared to the arenas within which he operated. Just over a half a year after Soleimani’s assassination, his bio was searched 50 time more often (relative to the population) in Lebanon than in Iran itself, and nearly 100 times more in Bahrain, where the Shi’ite majority chafes under a Sunni-minority regime backed to a hilt by Iran’s archrival, Saudi Arabia.

NYU slams anti-Israel grad student union’s call to boycott TLV global site
The management of the prestigious New York University (NYU) flatly rejected an allegedly antisemitic call by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee labor union to boycott NYU Tel Aviv.

"NYU categorically rejects GSOC's call to eliminate NYU Tel Aviv from the list of locations designated to support students in our 'Go Local' option for fall 2020, a list which includes all our global sites,” said John Beckman, the university spokesman on June 30.

He added that "GSOC's repeated attempts to exclude, stigmatize and boycott NYU Tel Aviv are at odds with the tenets of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, and at odds with the University's clear and long-standing position on the matter. It is even more disappointing that its short-sighted call comes at a moment when world-wide travel restrictions are making it so difficult for international students to get to their universities, and when the Go Local program is being put in place to help support students caught in that situation.”

Beckman continued that "NYU remains strongly committed to its excellent program in Tel Aviv, and to global engagement."

The German and Austrian parliaments, along with student university parliaments across many German and Austrian, have classified the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel as antisemitic.
Police officer charged with being member of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action
A police officer has been charged with being a member of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action.

Benjamin Hannam, 21, has been suspended from duty in the Metropolitan Police following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.

Mr Hannam will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August.

It is alleged that he belonged or professed to belong to the proscribed group between December 2016 and January 2018 and that he falsely represented himself in his application to join the Metropolitan Police in this connection.

He is also charged with other, unrelated but serious offences.

Deputy Superintendant Ella Marriott said: “These are extremely serious charges for anyone to face, and I fully understand and appreciate how deeply concerning it might be for the public, and particularly local communities here in north London, that the charges are against a serving police officer.”

Other members of National Action were recently convicted and sentenced to prison for their role in the organisation.
Report: TikTok Removes Group of Videos That Mocked Holocaust Victims
The TikTok social media network has deleted a group of videos using an antisemitic song that garnered more than 6.5 million views, the BBC reported.

The song included the lyrics, “We’re going on a trip to a place called Auschwitz, it’s shower time.”

A TikTok spokesperson was quoted as saying, “Keeping our users safe is a top priority for TikTok, and our community guidelines make clear what is not acceptable on our platform.”

“We do not tolerate any content that includes hate speech, and the sound in question, along with all associated videos, have now been removed,” the spokesperson added. “While we will not catch every instance of inappropriate content, we are continuously improving our technologies and policies to ensure TikTok remains a safe place for positive creative expression.”

Stephen Silverman — director of investigations and enforcement at the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) — said, “It was incredibly distressing to watch this sickening TikTok video aimed at children, showing a swastika-bearing robot grabbing and incinerating Jews, as the music poked fun at Jewish men, women and children being killed with poison gas at Auschwitz.”

“TikTok has a particular obligation to tackle this content fast because it specializes in delivering viral videos to children and young adults when they are most impressionable, and yet our research has shown that TikTok has become one of the fastest vectors for transmission of memes mocking the Holocaust,” he noted.
Kenneth Marcus returns to Jewish civil rights agency
A top-ranking official at the US Education Department is returning to the organization he started eight years ago to combat antisemitism at colleges and universities.

Kenneth Marcus will become chairman of the board of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law after two years as the education department’s assistant secretary for civil rights.

Marcus was confirmed in 2018 after a bruising process in which not a single Democrat supported him.

In his role at the department, Marcus built on his work fighting the boycott Israel movement and campus antisemitism through the Brandeis Center. Supporters and colleagues, such as the Zionist Organization of America and Elan Carr, the Trump administration’s envoy to fight antisemitism, have praised Marcus’ labeling of Israel criticism as antisemitism. Critics have said the conflation is an infraction on free speech.

Marcus notably reopened a case involving Rutgers University and a forum there in 2011 that Jewish students said involved harassment. He widely employed the State Department’s definition of antisemitism, which includes some types of anti-Israel activity, to investigate claims of discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The definition includes “applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.
The Jewish past of Tasmania
The island of Tasmania sits like a ring on the bottom of the planet. Just 1,500 miles from Antarctica, it’s about 26,000 square miles, roughly three times the size of Israel. Traveling there in late January, one of the most interesting aspects of this beautiful island is a Jewish past perhaps unlike any other place on earth.

In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered the island, naming it Van Dieman’s Land after his sponsor, then governor of the Dutch East Indies. Following Australia’s colonization in 1788, the island was annexed by the British in 1803. Between then and 1853, about 76,000 British convicts were sent here to populate and build.

During the first 15 years of this transportation period, 17 Jewish convicts arrived, most of whom were young, petty criminals. More followed in the ensuing years, including the Solomon brothers, Judah and Joseph, who arrived in 1820 and would have a lasting impact on Jewish life on the island.

Renamed Tasmania in 1856 – called Tassie by locals – today there are about 500,000 residents, most of whom live on the island’s eastern seaboard. Of those, about 250 are Jewish.

In Tassie’s capital of Hobart, at 59 Argyle Street, is Australia’s oldest, still-in-use synagogue. Consecrated in 1845, half of the original members of the Hobart Synagogue were former prisoners.

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