Sunday, December 20, 2020

From Ian:

Ronn Torossian: Peace for Peace: Israel and the Muslim World
History is being made today, in 2020, as Israel makes peace throughout the Muslim world. Peace – for peace – which benefits all people and is best for all interests in the region. With hope of a better tomorrow, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have all signed peace agreements with Israel in recent weeks.

Against this backdrop, two famous quotes today from Israeli Prime Ministers ring true. Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” And it is clear that today, thankfully ,for many, that day has arrived.

And as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel'.”

Reflecting that, The Washington Post reported this week that in the two weeks since commercial flights began between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi, more than 50,000 Israelis have visited the region - this in the midst of a global pandemic.

Iconic Israeli singers Omer Adam and Eyal Golan visited, as have the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rishon Letzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, and countless others across the political spectrum, right-wingers, left-wingers, Orthodox and non-Orthodox - Israelis are flocking to this Muslim country.

Here in New York, we feel it as well. Well-respected local Rabbi Elie Abadie has moved to the UAE to become the senior rabbi for the Jewish Council of the Emirates. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan lit the eighth candle of Hanukkah with the Moroccan Ambassador at a special ceremony in New York, where he proclaimed, "There is no alternative to peace. We are all the sons of Abraham and the sons of Abraham, they always at the end of the day will sit together to make peace together and to build a future together for the next generation."

What an amazing thing for the world and for the Jewish state – tourism, billions of dollars in foreign investment in high tech, agriculture and arms. With the help of G-d, safety, peace and prosperity.
Israel could be 1st nation to vaccinate its at-risk populations, by end of Jan.
Israel kicks off its coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday evening with reports suggesting the Jewish state could be the first country in the world to vaccinate its at-risk populations.

The first Israeli to receive the vaccine will be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. They will be inoculated Saturday evening at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Netanyahu is 71 and Edelstein 62.

The event, which will be broadcast live, is aimed at “encouraging the Israeli public to get the vaccine,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, adding that Netanyahu will thus become one of the first world leaders to get the vaccine. US Vice President Mike Pence and Congresspeople began receiving the vaccination on Friday.

President Reuven Rivlin will receive the vaccination Sunday when the country starts vaccinating health workers. From Monday, elderly Israelis and at-risk populations can receive a vaccine at Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) with a doctor’s appointment.

Both Channel 12 and 13 reported that Israel was likely to be one of the first countries in the world, if not the first, to complete the vaccination of its at-risk populations.

Health Ministry chief says aiming to vaccinate 60% of population by April
The director-general of the Health Ministry said Sunday that the ministry has set a goal of vaccinating the majority of Israelis by early next year.

“The goal is to vaccinate about 60 percent of the population by the end of the first quarter of 2021,” he told the high-level coronavirus cabinet, according to leaks from the meeting.

Levy, however, warned that it would be longer before Israelis could return to normalcy.

“Maybe a month after we have achieved a herd immunity state we will start to get back to routine, but with masks,” he said.

Levy also reportedly said that by the end of January, Israel would be able to store up to seven million doses at temperatures low enough for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

His comments came as Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv announced that it had run out doses for the day, after administering 1,000 shots on Sunday.

FDR, the Nazis, and the Jews of Morocco: a Troubling Episode
The normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco and the U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara have stirred interest in the history of Morocco’s Jews, including during the Holocaust years.

Unfortunately, some pundits, in their enthusiasm over these developments, have misleadingly portrayed the Allied liberation of North Africa in 1942 as the simultaneous liberation of the region’s Jews from their Nazi and Vichyite persecutors. That narrative papers over the harsh reality of what happened after the Allies’ victory. The full story of how President Franklin D. Roosevelt treated the Jews in Morocco and elsewhere in North Africa is a deeply troubling chapter in his administration’s history.

On November 8, 1942, American and British forces launched “Operation Torch,” the invasion of German-occupied Algeria and Morocco. In just eight days, the Allies defeated the Nazis and their Vichy French partners in the region. American Jews expected that the liberation of North Africa would also mean liberation for the 330,000 Jews there.

In 1870, the French colonial authorities in Algeria had issued the Cremieux Decree, which granted equal rights to that country’s Jews after centuries of mistreatment by Arab rulers (although it did not affect the Jews in neighboring Morocco). When the Vichyites took over North Africa in 1940, they abolished Cremieux and subjected all of the region’s Jews to a range of abuses, including restrictions on admission of Jews to many schools and professions, seizures of Jewish property and occasional pogroms by local Muslims that were tolerated by the government.

In 1941–1942, American Jewish newspapers carried disturbing reports that the Vichyites had built “huge concentration camps” in Morocco and Algeria to house thousands of Jewish slave laborers. The prisoners endured backbreaking work, random beatings by the guards, extreme overcrowding, poor sanitation, near-starvation and little or no medical care. According to one report, 150 Jews scheduled to be taken to the camps were so fearful of the conditions there that they resisted arrest and were executed en masse.

With the Allied victory, North African Jews — and their American coreligionists —expected the prisoners to be released and the Cremieux Decree reinstated for Jews living throughout the region. The American Jewish Congress optimistically predicted that the repeal of the Vichy-era anti-Jewish laws would follow the Allied occupation of North Africa “as the day follows the night.”

But President Roosevelt had other plans.
European Hypocrisy Laid Bare in Kosher-Slaughter Legal Judgement
Last time I checked, the French were still preparing their famed foie gras delicacy using the method of “gavage.” This involves force-feeding a duck or a goose with grain passed through a tube over a period of several days so that its liver swells to approximately 600% of its normal size. The point is, if you don’t put the bird through this plainly ghastly experience, you cannot produce the rich flavor and buttery texture that makes foie gras so prized among gastronomes.

Many people refuse to eat foie gras precisely because of the cruelty involved in its production, but equally, many more people clearly aren’t bothered by it at all, as revenues internationally run into the hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Its sale has been banned by local officials in a handful of places, including New York starting in 2022, but that isn’t going to stop French, as well as Spanish, Hungarian, Belgian, and Bulgarian farmers from producing foie gras with the only method available to them. Indeed, any initiative to shut down the industry would need to come from the European Union, and there is precious little sign of that happening.

To be clear, I’m not advocating a renewed European Union legal crackdown on foie gras; frankly, it’s not an issue on which I have strong feelings either way. I raise the issue in order to illustrate a glaring double standard that has, in the last week, left both Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe feeling like rank and unwanted outsiders.

Last Thursday, the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ), which is the final arbiter of EU law, drew a line between the “civilized” and the “uncivilized” in terms of how farm animals that are slaughtered for human consumption are treated by different religious groups in Europe.

On the “civilized” side of the line are those carnivores whose meat is stunned before it is slaughtered, which the ECJ deems to be humane. On the “uncivilized” side are those — overwhelmingly Muslims and Jews — whose religious commandments strictly forbid the stunning of animals before they are slaughtered, which the ECJ deems to be inhumane.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that meat that has been slaughtered with a pre-stunning process is not considered kosher or halal, nor can it be.
Avi Abelow: "Jerusalem has room for a Palestinian Capital" Comment Proves Gantz is Incapable of Leading Israel

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Makes History With Visit to UAE
The Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates hosted a historic visit this weekend by Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

After arriving in the UAE on Thursday, Yosef met with Emirati officials, inaugurated a newly built Jewish school in Dubai and took part in a ceremony along with the community’s rabbi.

Yosef was also scheduled to cut the ribbon on the community’s new daycare center, visit the new kosher restaurant in the city’s famed Burj Khalifa skyscraper and inaugurate a new synagogue in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.

Rabbi Levi Duchman of the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Dubai called Yosef’s visit “historic” and said it was a great honor for the community to host him on his visit.

“We are happy to welcome him as we break barriers and inaugurate some of our new institutions,” said Duchman.
Torah scroll dedicated in UAE, documented in new film
A documentary about a Torah scroll that was dedicated in 2019 to the memory of United Arab Emirates founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and presented to his son, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will debut early next year.

The film Amen-Amen-Amen is a joint production of the UAE’s Jewish community (Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE) and the Religion Media Company.

From a workshop in Jerusalem, where the scroll was written, to a workshop in Brooklyn, New York, where the Torah’s case was finished, to a November 2019 dedication ceremony at an Abu Dhabi palace, exclusive footage takes the viewer inside an intimate story that is indicative of the global transformation shaping the Middle East and Gulf region.

“The gesture of dedicating a Torah scroll to an Arab ruler is unimaginable,” says Eli Epstein, a businessman and interfaith activist who first came up with the idea.
Why Bhutan-Israel ties matter - comment
The Kingdom of Bhutan, a Himalayan mountain nation, is one of the most isolated in the world. Bhutan is not as isolated as North Korea, but it has nevertheless done more so than most to resist globalization.

Israel’s previous lack of ties with Bhutan was not linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather due to Bhutan’s strict isolationist policies. The kingdom has a population of little more than 770,000 citizens and only, began allowing tourists in 1970. TV and Internet were permitted only in 1999.

Bhutan, is a true “hermit kingdom” by definition, and has full diplomatic ties with only 53 nations. The new agreement with Israel comes after several years of secret communication between the two countries.

The move came a mere two days after Israel and Morocco normalized ties in a deal brokered by the US, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan did.

Being landlocked between India and China, Bhutan has historically been closer to India. It is considered a “protected state” not a protectorate per se. It is thus dependent on India for issues such as technology, defense and economics. India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has had good ties with Israel. In contrast, the Bhutan-Chinese border has been closed since the 1959 invasion of Tibet, and tensions with China remain because of a border dispute. It has no border disputes with Israel though!

IDF arrests Palestinian suspect in firebombing of IDF soldier who didn’t respond
A Palestinian man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a soldier at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank on Saturday evening, the army said. The incident has sparked right-wing fury since the soldier didn’t respond to the attack.

A video of the incident shows a man emerge from a car at the checkpoint, near the settlement of Kedumim. He approaches the soldier and speaks with him for several moments before pulling out the firebomb, lighting it and hurling it at the soldier, who dodges.

The man then runs away as the soldier watches, without responding to the attack.

“Following intelligence and operational activity by the IDF and the Shin Bet, the suspect in the hurling of the Molotov cocktail last night towards an IDF fighter… was arrested,” the military said in a statement.

The suspect has been taken for questioning, according to the statement.

The army said Saturday that it was also investigating the conduct of the soldier, a member of the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion, as well as other troops at the checkpoint, and viewed the incident gravely.
West Bank: Palestinian Hurls Firebomb at IDF Soldier

Israel bans visitors from the UK, Denmark, S. Africa due to new strain
Following the emergence of a new variant of the novel coronavirus, Israel's Coronavirus Cabinet unanimously approved new travel restrictions on Sunday afternoon which stipulate that foreign nationals will not be allowed to enter Israel from South Africa, Denmark and England until further notice.

Israeli citizens returning from the three aforementioned countries will now be obligated to stay in quarantine in coronavirus hotels upon their return, unlike Israelis who return from other countries, who have the option to self-isolate at home.

More than 30 Israelis who landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on flight from the UK refused to enter quarantine on Sunday afternoon. The Population and Immigration Authority decided to allow them entry in to the country. The decision comes following an initial decision by authorities to refuse the travelers' entry and return them back to the UK. Among the passengers was a well known rabbi.

"We need to close the whole world immediately - just let business people fly according to protocol, and limit those returning to a tight quarantine. It's an extreme step, but if there is a result - it will be difficult," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Coronavirus Cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: We didn't ask Israel for COVID-19 vaccine
The Palestinians have not approached Israel for help in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines and are planning to purchase them on their own with the help of the international community, Palestinian and Israeli officials said on Sunday.

A senior official with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health said that the Palestinians do not expect Israel to sell them, or purchase on their behalf, the vaccine from any country.

The official told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinians will soon receive nearly four million Russian-made vaccines against COVID-19. The PA, with the help of the World Health Organization, has managed to secure the vaccine from other sources, the official added, without elaborating.

Another PA Ministry of Health official said that he expected vaccinations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to begin next month. He, too, clarified that the PA has not asked Israel to supply the Palestinians with the vaccine. “We are working on our own to obtain the vaccine from a number of sources,” the official added. “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.”
AP Falsely Casts Israel As Responsible For Providing Palestinians With Vaccines
“Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate,” observed former Associated Press correspondent Matti Friedman in a scathing 2014 critique of international coverage of Israel and the Palestinians. “The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.”

An article published last week by his former employer perfectly illustrates this old formulation, rehashed as the world at large confronts a profound new challenge, with poorer nations at a distinct disadvantage: the procurement of the coronavirus vaccine. The Dec. 17 Associated Press headline, “Palestinians left waiting as Israel is set to deploy vaccine,” effectively captures the false notion that Palestinians are a passively waiting party with no agency, while it is Israel that holds responsibility for the Palestinians’ access to vaccines, or lack thereof.

AP’s Joseph Krauss further cements this baseless notion with the following opening:
Israel will begin rolling out a major coronavirus vaccination campaign next week after the prime minister reached out personally to the head of a major drug company. Millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control will have to wait much longer.

Further down, AP repeats: “Israel’s vaccination campaign will include Jewish settlers living deep inside the West Bank, who are Israeli citizens, but not the territory’s 2.5 million Palestinians.”

According to the Oslo Accords, Palestinian authorities — not Israel — are responsible for the health care, including vaccines, of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a key fact completely concealed by the grossly misleading claim that “millions of Palestinians” are “living under Israeli control.” Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live under the Palestinian government ruled by Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. The vast majority of West Bank Palestinians live under the civilian and security control of the Palestinian Authority. (Despite the fact that Israel is not obligated to provide Palestinians with vaccines, Israeli officials have indicated that they will consider transferring any surplus doses to the Palestinians, a fact which AP did report.)

In West Bank refugee camps, Palestinians arm up for post-Abbas power struggle
In Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, some residents are preparing weapons for a potential power struggle when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas finally leaves the stage.

Abbas, 85, leader of the dominant Fatah movement and of the Palestinian Authority, has promised legislative and presidential elections in 2021, for the first time in more than 16 years.

Rivals are already seeking to build up a power base.

In Balata camp, outside the city of Nablus, walls are plastered with posters picturing Hatem Abu Rizq, regarded as a “martyr” of Palestinian infighting.

On October 31, Palestinian media reported one dead and others wounded in Balata, where 30,000 people are crammed into one quarter of a square kilometer (one tenth of a square mile).

This time, the casualties were not the result of a clash with Israeli forces, although Abu Rizq spent almost 10 years in Israeli jails for his part in the Palestinian Second Intifada uprising of 2000 to 2005, which saw on onslaught of suicide bombings and other terror attacks directed against Israeli citizens.

At the age of 35, he died in the eruption of intra-Palestinian violence in October. Palestinian officials said he was killed by the premature explosion of a bomb he was about to detonate.
PMW: PA official praises singer who motions to slit someone’s throat: “If you cross [the border], we’ll put an end to your existence”
Waving a gun and making a motion to slit someone’s throat is part of Gazan singer Abdallah Saaideh’s repertoire in a violent song and music video released in October. Stating that “the machine gun is ready,” Saaideh calls for “a fierce war” - presumably against Israel - warning that anyone who “crosses the border” will be killed:

Target Identified by Abdallah Saaideh:
“Target identified and the machine gun is ready
Prepare the shrouds, bring them to the funerals
And ask the battlefield about the people of miracles.
The time has come for a fierce war
When we enter it, we will teach them a lesson…
Declare readiness with the sound of rifles
The armies are arranged in lines and waving the flags…
The smell of gunpowder is more pleasant than perfume…
O my people of the tents, in war they are a troop of soldiers…
Whoever fights them endangers his life
Don’t get yourself in trouble, ask your ancestors.
Shut up and don’t cross the border
If you cross it, we’ll put an end to your existence.”
[YouTube channel of singer Abdallah Saaideh, accessed Dec. 17, 2020]

Palestinian Media Watch has exposed numerous violent Palestinian songs calling for war against Israelis, but this one, Target Identified, and the performer Abdallah Saaideh were specifically singled out and praised by PA official Laila Ghannam, who is the Ramallah and El-Bireh District Governor. Ghannam invited Saaideh to meet with her while he was in the West Bank for medical reasons. In a post on Ghannam’s official Facebook page, both singer and song were mentioned in connection with “the Palestinian popular artistic heritage”:

To Europe with Love: "Diplomats" or Terrorists from Iran's Mullahs?
While the European Union appears excited that Joe Biden will be the next US President and then they can immediately rejoin the nuclear deal and lift sanctions against the mullahs, Tehran continues its terrorism on the European soil.

As the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, is urging the US to rejoin the JCPOA, one of Iran's active diplomats in Belgium is currently on trial, accused of orchestrating a terrorist operation in Europe in 2018. French officials foiled a planned bomb attack in Paris against a large "Free Iran" convention attended by tens of thousands of people, including many high-level speakers such as former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Canada's former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former Foreign Minister John Baird.

If the terrorist plot were successful, it would have possibly been one of the largest terrorist acts sponsored by the Iranian regime. Where is the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on this issue? Completely silent.

In the terrorist plot, an Iranian diplomat at the time, Assadollah Assadi, is accused of delivering explosives and a detonator to two agents in a bid to blow up a Free Iran rally. Assadi, serving at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, was also a senior officer for Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The prosecutors have asked the court to sentence Assadi to the maximum 20 years; to sentence two of his accomplices to 18 years, and another defendant to 15 years in prison as well as strip them of their Belgian citizenship.

The Iranian leaders have demanded that the EU release Assadi on the ground of "diplomatic immunity". Assadi, under an order from the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, did not show up for the first day of trial. He also seems emboldened to such an extent that he has threatened the EU authorities that if he gets convicted, Iran's proxies will take revenge.

Pro-Israel progressive Ritchie Torres says he won’t join AOC’s ‘Squad’
He’s a progressive Democrat, but he won’t be signing up with the Squad.

Ritchie Torres, going to Washington next month to represent the South Bronx in Congress, says you won’t see him paling around with Democratic Socialists — and cited his strong support for Israel as a primary distinction between them and true progressives like himself.

“I came to observe that there are activists who have a visceral hatred for Israel as though it were the root of all evil,” Torres, 32, told The Post. “The act of singling out Israel as BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] has done is the definition of discrimination.”

Torres, who has served on the City Council since 2013, says he was moved by trips to Israel in 2015 and 2017.

“I remember meeting a family in Sderot. And I had no concept of what it was like to live in a city that lives under the fear of rocket fire,” Torres recalled. “I’m going to make the case that the progressive position is a two-state solution and promoting dignity for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

While support for Israel was once broadly bipartisan, in recent years many on the left have taken a more confrontational approach. A number of Congress’ most vocal progressives, like Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, have come out in support of BDS. Both have also been repeatedly accused of making anti-Semitic remarks. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also denounced Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine and voted against a House resolution to reaffirm support for the two-state solution.

Channel 4 News’ ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ echo chamber
The UK public service broadcaster Channel 4 is airing a series marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth featuring pianist Daniel Barenboim. Four days before that series began, on December 14th, the musician was interviewed (not for the first time) by Jon Snow on Channel 4 News. Unsurprisingly considering the record of the two participants, the topic of the four-minute segment promoted online was “Daniel Barenboim on a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

Particularly given that on the very same day Channel 4 News aired a nine-minute report (discussed here) by a “British Palestinian activist”, Snow began with a specious claim that was supported by his interviewee.

Snow: “We’ve been talking to young Palestinians here in Britain and they feel their voices are simply never heard.”

Barenboim: “They’re right. Unfortunately they are right.”

Snow: “Well how do you change that? I mean has this got to last forever?”

Barenboim: “I cannot see it lasts forever. It will either change or it will end in a catastrophe. It cannot go on like this forever and I think the responsibility lies on both sides with of course greater responsibility on the Israeli side because they are the conquerors and the others are conquered.”

Viewers were not provided with any context concerning the events – including the actions of surrounding Arab countries – which led to Israel becoming “conquerors” before Snow went on to promote his ‘progressive’ agenda and false linkage.

Jewish contestant gets anti-Semitic treatment after Miss France pageant
Anti-Semitism in France reared its ugly head over the weekend after a Jewish woman in the national beauty contest had to endure bullying on social media due to her background.

April Benayoum, a French woman who has Italian and Israeli roots, won second place in the Miss France 2021 competition on Saturday, but that has not stopped racists and anti-Semites from launching incessant attacks on social media, including with anti-Semitic tweets.

Benayoum, who won Miss Provence before competing in the national contest, has described herself as Italian-Israeli because she was born to a Serbo-Croatian mother and an Israeli father.

The Jewish advocacy group came to her defense on Twitter: "A gorgeous #MissFrance2021 contestant, April Benayoum, is receiving horrific anti-Semitic responses after stating she has an Israeli father. Just a few of the tweets: 'Don't vote for a Jew.' 'Hitler forgot this one.'"

The Union of Jewish Students in France also noted this unfair treatment she has received because of her roots, tweeting: "Miss France 2021, no longer a beauty contest, it is an anti-Semitism contest because of the surname of Miss Provence who called herself Italian-Israeli."
Jewish Groups, Local Politicians Voice Fury Over Vicious Antisemitic Social Media Attacks on French Beauty Queen
Leading French-Jewish groups, the Israeli Embassy in France, and numerous local politicians on Sunday condemned a storm of antisemitic attacks on social media against April Benayoum, a top contestant in the Miss France contest.

Benayoum, who revealed during the competition that she has an Israeli father, was competing as Miss Provence and came in first runner-up in the contest on Saturday night. Her Israeli connection, however, prompted a vicious outbreak of antisemitism, with tweets calling for her exclusion because of her Jewish heritage and others such as “Hitler forgot to exterminate you, Miss Provence.”

The Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (Crif), the umbrella organization of France’s Jewish community, called the attacks on Benayoum “vile and unacceptable!”

“All occasions appear to be good for spreading hatred of Jews and Israel,” the group added sarcastically, and demanded that Twitter take responsibility for what had happened.

The Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (Licra), demanded that the social media assailants face legal consequences for turning Twitter “into an antisemitic cesspool” and urged users to report antisemitic tweets.

The Israeli Embassy in France also weighed in, saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the surge of antisemitic and anti-Zionist hatred on social networks last night” and pledged “full support” for Benayoum.
India’s Jew Town only has a few Jews left, but traditions and landmarks remain
Take a walk down this coastal city’s “Jew street” today and you’ll find bustling Kasmiri storefronts selling Persian antiques, pashmina shawls and traditional Islamic handicrafts — a stark contrast to the neighborhood’s heyday when every household was Jewish.

“There are only two people left in Jew Town. One very old, who spends most of her time in Los Angeles, and one other,” said Shalva Weil, a senior researcher at the Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a leading figure on the Jewish communities of India.

Once a vibrant community of approximately 3,000 at its peak in the 1950s, only a handful of elderly Jews now remain in a city of some 677,000. According to Weil, there really is no community in Kochi anymore.

“You won’t find more than five or 10 Jews,” she said.

Unlike other dwindling Jewish communities around the world, the Jews of Kochi did not leave their country due to persecution or hardship. Rather, it was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 that attracted many from the mostly Orthodox community to emigrate and start a new life in the Jewish homeland.

For Essie Sassoon, a retired doctor of obstetrics and gynecology who initially went to Israel as a medical volunteer during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, one of the main reasons to stay on was family.

“When my sister and her family left for Israel, I felt that I didn’t have any close relations left in India. I was very attached to my sister,” she said. “It was a very difficult decision because I love India very much. And I was in a very good position in India and I was progressing. But it happened.”
Lithuania honors Jewish past with synagogue restoration efforts
The Lithuanian government has declared 2020 the "Year of the Vilna Gaon and the History of the Jews in Lithuania" in honor of the 300th anniversary of the birth of great Torah scholar Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo Zalman, better known as the Vilna Gaon.

The history of the Jews in Lithuania dates back many generations. According to a study conducted by the Hebrew University's Center for Jewish Art, there were close to 1,000 synagogues in Lithuania prior to World War II. Only about 100 of them still stand today as a testament to the Jewish history in Lithuania.

Most synagogues were destroyed during the war or when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. Some buildings survived only to collapse in the decades to follow.

When a research delegation of the Center for Jewish Art visited Lithuania in 1993, two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they found the Jewish heritage sites had grossly dilapidated. The situation was similar in all former Soviet republics, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Across Lithuania, only the Choral Synagogues in Vilnius and Kaunas remained open. All other Jewish sites had either been partially destroyed or were transformed into other institutions or apartment buildings.
Cutting-edge scientific analysis teases out secrets of old Jewish Purim scroll
Romanian researchers took some of the most modern analysis tools available and directed them into the past, scanning an old, deteriorated and fragile Jewish manuscript to learn how the handwritten document was produced, and discovering the concoction used for its ink.

The noninvasive exploration of the “severely degraded Jewish manuscript of unknown history” was able to comprehensively identify the materials used to produce the parchment as well as vital information on its state of preservation.

As part of their research the scientists developed a method for reconstructing lettering that they hope may be applied to other similarly faded manuscripts, aiding their preservation.

Maria Cortea, Luminiţa Ghervase, Lucian Ratoiu and Roxana Rădvan of the National Institute for Research and Development for Optoelectronics – INOE 2000, Măgurele, Romania published the results of their work on the Frontiers peer-reviewed website on Thursday.

“A Jewish parchment scroll coming from a private collection was investigated using a multi-technique approach,” they wrote. “The parchment, significantly degraded, includes chapters from the Book of Esther also known in Hebrew as Megillat Esther.”

The parchment, measuring 62×52 centimeters (24×20 inches), is in the form of a scroll, and contains the first three chapters of the Book of Esther and the start of chapter four.

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