Tuesday, December 29, 2020

From Ian:

Unsettled by Hebron
No Jews have been as relentlessly maligned as the Jews of Hebron. From the time of their arrival following the 1967 Six-Day War—40 years after the murderous annihilation of its Jewish community by rampaging Arabs—they have become the pariahs of the Jewish people. Their presence in the city where the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people are entombed, and where King David reigned before relocating his throne to Jerusalem, is deemed to be an unlawful and immoral Israeli intrusion on the Palestinian residents of Hebron.

The most recent contributor to this enduring falsehood is Tamara Neuman, an anthropologist and Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute at Columbia. The first page of her Introduction to Settling Hebron: Jewish Fundamentalism in a Palestinian City displays the misinformation that reveals her embedded bias. Gazing at the Machpelah shrine where, according to the biblical narrative, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are entombed, she nonetheless discerns its “staunch witness to the site’s Islamic character.” Muslims, however, first appeared in the seventh century C.E. long after the reign of King Herod, when the towering Machpelah enclosure was built.

It was, for Neuman, “impossible not to notice the deadening effects of the many [Israeli] soldiers deployed throughout a Palestinian urban area”—in translation, the ancient Jewish Quarter that was “established illegally” following the Six-Day War. (Her tour guide was a founder of Breaking the Silence, a renegade group of ex-soldiers who oppose Jewish settlements.) In a repetitive inversion of historical reality, she accuses Jewish settlers of “the remaking of many Palestinian areas into a geography of biblical sites and origins,” as if Palestinians superseded millennia of Jewish habitation in Hebron. In Neuman’s convoluted (and occasionally incomprehensible) rendering, “Jewish settlers establish a putative sense of the real, which arises from the very materiality of the scene.”

Historically myopic, ignoring millennia of Jewish history in Hebron, she can only discern the “colonial backdrop” of a “land takeover” with “Jewish observance and forms of direct violence in order to erase the presence of an existing Palestinian population.” As for erasure, it was Hebron Arabs who murderously obliterated the centuries-old Jewish community in 1929. She imaginatively, but falsely, describes their targeted violence against a tiny community of several hundred Jews and yeshivah students as “anticolonial riots.”
De Blasio’s Perfect Patsies
Are the Jews to blame for spreading COVID-19 throughout New York City? That’s what Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested in an inflammatory tweet back in April, which, in his typical bumbling fashion, he defended for six months before kinda, sorta walking it back.

Never mind all that. The city is serious! It believes in science! Earlier this week, the mayor’s office launched its “NYC Vaccine for All” campaign, announcing that it will begin offering the COVID vaccine soonest. Who will get it first? Naturally, the neighborhoods “hardest hit” by the pandemic, the mayor’s office assured us, 27 of them in total.

Hallelujah! So now we have an official record of the hardest hit corners of New York, which means that if the mayor’s criticism was correct, we should find many familiar ZIP codes among those singled out for urgent care. Let us, then, turn to the list and search for the neighborhoods heaviest populated by Orthodox Jews, the clear target of the mayor’s ire.

What about, for example, the venerable 11213, at the heart of which lies 770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad’s headquarters? Nope, not on the list. Maybe 11218, 11219, and 11230, representing Borough Park? Not on the list either. Now, surely that massive Hasidic funeral that drew thousands and spurred the NYPD to launch a criminal investigation led to a massive outbreak that sent the neighborhood right into the hardest-hit list, right? Check again: That funeral was launched from the Yetev Lev D’Satmar yeshiva, ZIP code 11249. Good luck finding it on the mayor’s list. You can play this game with most NYC neighborhoods that are home to vast populations of Orthodox Jews; you won’t find them on the list.

None of this is to say that no Jews live in any of the neighborhoods most distressed by the pandemic. Take a close look, and you’ll find some neighborhoods that do have strong Jewish populations, like the border between Bushwick and Williamsburg, say. But look closely, and the picture grows complicated: Wallabout Street, for example, one of the neighborhood’s main Hasidic thoroughfares, is largely uncovered by the mayor’s announcement. So while a significant number of Williamsburg Jews do live in areas that get vaccine priority, the densest part with the largest Jewish population in Williamsburg isn’t in any of the priority neighborhoods. Neither are the central Satmar shuls, or the popular restaurant Gottleib’s.

This exclusion of the lion’s share of the city’s heavily populated Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods from the mayor’s list suggests that one of two things are true.

The first possibility is that the list is an accurate, science-based representation of the virus’s spread rates and patterns. In that case, the absence of most Orthodox Jewish enclaves from the list means the mayor was being both a criminally irresponsible public official for pinning the plague on one blameless minority group, as well as a filthy anti-Semite for picking on the Jews.

The second possibility hardly portrays de Blasio in a better light. According to the mayor’s office—which did not return Tablet’s request for more information—the vaccine’s distribution will be spearheaded by the Taskforce on Racial Equity and Inclusion, which is chaired by the city’s First Lady, Chirlaine McCray, not a medical doctor. In fact, the only prominent physician on the committee, Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, resigned in September, joining a wave of senior officials departing the grossly inept administration.
US court strikes down pandemic limits on New York’s houses of worship
A federal court of appeals ruled that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s capacity limits on houses of worship in areas with rising COVID-19 cases constituted a violation of religious liberty.

The ruling on Monday comes after a Supreme Court injunction last month blocked Cuomo from enforcing the rules until the lower court could reevaluate an earlier ruling that upheld state guidelines limiting synagogue attendance to 10 or 25 people.

The case, brought by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, an advocacy organization representing ultra-Orthodox Jews, was one of the first religious liberty cases to be decided by the court’s new conservative majority. The appeals court ruling was celebrated by Agudath Israel as confirmation that it had achieved a victory for religious liberty.

“The courts have clearly recognized that the restrictions imposed by New York State violate the constitutional rights of those seeking to attend religious worship services,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, said in a statement Monday.

The court of appeals did not rule on the constitutionality of percentage capacity limits, which would have impacted smaller houses of worship. Houses of worship in zones with the highest rates of COVID-19, so-called red zones, were subjected to capacity limits of ten people or 25% of building capacity, whichever is fewer. In orange zones, the limit was 25 people or 33% of capacity, whichever is fewer.

Welcome Lipstadt and Eisen to the roster of Holocaust deniers
The acrimony between never-Trumpers and pro-Trumpers has generated some fiery accusations from both sides. As a Jew who admires what President Donald Trump has done in the interest of the United States to promote peace in the Middle East and to bring security to Israel, but who is appalled by his extravagant narcissism and capriciousness, I tolerate what many regard as extreme abuse hurled in print at Trump and his supporters. Hardened by years of courtroom battles, and the charges and counter-charges made during hotly contested litigation, I calmly read aggressively expressed opinions with which I disagree. Proof is that I even continue to subscribe to The Washington Post.

But the Post published on Dec. 23 a reprehensible and revolting opinion piece that exceeds even my high tolerance level. It is called “Denying the Holocaust Threatens Democracy. So Does Denying the Election Results” by Deborah Lipstadt and Norman Eisen.

Both are names well-known to American Jewry. Lipstadt is a renowned professor of Holocaust studies who first made a reputation more than 20 years ago when she was sued in England by a notorious Holocaust denier. After an internationally publicized trial in which, to her credit, she stood fast and presented evidence proving that he had distorted history, Lipstadt was vindicated in a 349-page decision by the British judge.

Eisen is a Harvard-trained lawyer whose expertise includes legal ethics. His mother is an Auschwitz survivor. He was a law-school classmate of former President Barack Obama, who appointed him in 2011 to be U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Eisen proudly arranged a kosher kitchen in the ambassadorial residence in Prague and is a member of an Orthodox synagogue in downtown Washington.

Touting their Jewish credentials and Holocaust expertise and experience, Lipstadt and Eisen opine that contesting the results of the presidential election parallels Holocaust denial. They graciously acknowledge that Trump is not Adolf Hitler, but claim that the comparison is correct because both Hitler and Trump “adopted the propaganda technique of the big lie” and “serve antidemocratic political ends.”

“Democracy denial,” they declare, is equivalent to Holocaust denial.

To say that this cheapens the memory of the 6 million who were exterminated in the Holocaust is a gross understatement. Comparing the Nazis’ genocide to some criticized contemporary conduct is a sophisticated form of Holocaust denial. Milder comparisons than the Lipstadt-Eisen analogy have met universal condemnation. Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) had to provide an implausible gloss for an extreme statement she made in June 2019 comparing American detention camps at the Mexican border to concentration camps. I would be surprised if Lipstadt and Eisen disagreed with the criticism of a Jewish Community Relations Council that Ocasio-Cortez’s statement “diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people.”
The Sephardic Jew that Will Save the World – The Story of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla
As the announcement of a vaccine that is 90% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus has dominated the headlines and given hope to people in every corner of the globe, we pause at this juncture to pay tribute to Albert Bourla, the chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Founded in 1849 in New York City by Charles Pfizer, the eponymously named pharmaceutical company is one of the world’s largest of its kind and it ranked 57 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. Pfizer develops and produces medicines and vaccines for a wide range of medical disciplines, including immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and neurology. Its products include the blockbuster drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), used to lower LDL blood cholesterol; Lyrica (pregabalin) for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia; Diflucan (fluconazole), an oral antifungal medication; Zithromax (azithromycin), an antibiotic; Viagra (sildenafil) for erectile dysfunction; and Celebrex (also Celebra, celecoxib), an anti-inflammatory drug.

Currently, Pfizer is under the dynamic and innovative leadership of a man who came from humble beginnings and who rose to prominence in the medical field through his remarkable diligence and his tireless desire to help people.

Born in October of 1961 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Albert Bourla was raised in a Sephardic Jewish family. Bourla is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and holds a Ph.D. in the Biotechnology of Reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University. He left Greece with his wife when he was 34 and since then he has lived in seven different cities, in four different countries.

In 2020, he was ranked as America’s top CEO in the Pharmaceuticals sector by Institutional Investor magazine. He is on the executive committee of The Partnership for New York City, a director on multiple boards – Pfizer, Inc., The Pfizer Foundation, PhRMA, and Catalyst – and a Trustee of the United States Council for International Business. In addition, Bourla is a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council.
Anti-Israel Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib: IfNotNow Has My Back
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) has been enlisted by the virulently anti-Israel “Jewish” group IfNotNow to help with their fundraising campaign. On Monday, Tlaib sent out an email on behalf of IfNotNow soliciting donations of $18 to $180 or more, under the header: “IfNotNow has my back.”

Tlaib, who in response to being refused entry by the Israeli government tweeted an anti-Israel cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, wrote in her email: “Since I was elected to Congress in 2018, our Squad for justice and equity has continued to grow. But, even as we grow our progressive movement for change, there are those who attack us because they are scared of our collective power.”

“As the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, I have been the focus of many attacks — sexist, racist, and Islamophobic. These constant smear campaigns have made me grateful for those in my corner and those who continue to work tirelessly for the freedom and dignity of every person — especially IfNotNow Movement,” Tlaib continued.

One of those attacks followed her retweet of a jarring statement from a bandana-masked user calling herself Rasha (how apt, seeing as Rasha in Hebrew means wicked) who posted a cheerful poster celebrating “International day of solidarity with the Palestinian people” above which she noted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Which flew in the face of repeated statements from Tlaib claiming that she’s not supporting the destruction of Israel, only two states for two ever-loving, equal and happy peoples, side by side. How do you do the side by side thing if one side is swimming in the sea?
More False Claims: Israel and Palestinian Diabetes Rates
Blogger Elder of Ziyon posted recently about a webinar held by The Lajee Center, an NGO centered in the Aida UNRWA camp, that featured Health for Palestine Director Dr. Bram Wispelwey arguing that Israel was responsible for high levels of diabetes among Palestinian “refugees.”

However, of greater concern, is the fact that several months ago, the London Review of Books (LRB) published a blog post by Dr. Wispelwey (“Underlying Conditions,” April 18) where he made the same accusation.

Here are the relevant passages:
At nearly 18 per cent officially, and probably higher, the prevalence of diabetes among Palestinian refugees in the West Bank is one of the highest in the world. The official rate in Gaza is 16 per cent. Among adult citizens of Israel, it’s 7.2 per cent…

Decades of living in overcrowded refugee camps and a rapid transition to cheap and readily available high calorie foods, in part a result of the neoliberal economic changes that came with the Oslo Accords, have led to an explosive increase in obesity and diabetes among Palestinians. As in other parts of the world, the prevalence of the disease is linked to land dispossession, structural violence, colonial domination and oppression.

First, Elder put the charge in context by citing a report from the World Diabetes Foundation showing that the Palestinian diabetes rate, nearly 18%, is similar to other Middle Eastern countries. Additionally, this graph shows that wealthy oil-producing Gulf countries with high levels of expenditures on public health, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are among those states with higher levels of diabetes than Palestinians.

If the LRB contributor was to make a serious argument about the cause of high levels of diabetes among Palestinians, he would have at least had to acknowledge that other, far wealthier states in the region similarly have a high prevalence of the disease.

But this would have required real research, and forced him to consider that cultural or sociological factors, and individual lifestyle choices regarding diet and exercise within the MENA region may explain such high Palestinian morbidity rates.

But, as the passages above show, no serious research was conducted.
Legal group urges Trump administration to publish list of BDS organizations
The Zachor Legal Institute, a legal think tank and advocacy group, is urging the outgoing Trump administration to publish a list of anti-Israel BDS groups.

In a letter sent to Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, Zachor identifies more than two dozen organizations tied to the BDS movement. Among those are several domestic organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, IfNotNow and American Muslims for Palestine.

“The enclosed report identifies a number of organizations that promote BDS. While some of the identified organizations are not based in the United States, they often work together with domestic groups that should be covered by the BDS Statement,” the letter reads.

In November, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announced that America would withdraw funding from groups that support the BDS movement, which he called “anti-Semitic.”

Pompeo said he had instructed Carr’s office “to identify organizations that engage in, or otherwise support, the global BDS campaign” to “consider whether an organization is engaged in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, or otherwise limit, commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel.”

In line with Pompeo’s announcement, a senior Trump administration official told JNS that the administration plans to release the list in the next few weeks.
Red Cross Calls Out Israeli Hit ‘Fauda’ Over Fictional Human Rights ‘Violations’
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took aim at the hit television show Fauda over the weekend, on the official Twitter account of its delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“Like many of you, this year we’ve also watched @FaudaOfficial and noted a number of violations of #IHL,” the account posted, using an acronym for “international humanitarian law.”

“Check out this Twitter thread and tell us if you see more!” it added.

A thread of tweets followed in which the ICRC called out scenes of torture and hostage-taking from various episodes of the Netflix show, which follows an undercover counter-terrorism unit in the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, social media users were quick to point out that the fictional series presumably falls outside the organization’s purview.

“The local Israeli branch of the International Red Cross found human rights violations on a television program,” wrote school superintendent Joel M. Peltin. “Seriously? If we’re calling out movies & TV shows that include law breaking, I nominate all the films in the Fast and Furious franchise for the use of excessive speed.”

Other nominees for scrutiny by the organization included HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Stephen King’s horror novels, and “The Avengers” series, in which supervillain Thanos kills half the life in the universe.
AP Cites Hezbollah Leader’s Claim as Fact, Casts Doubt on Israeli Authorities
When the leader of a US and EU-designated terrorist group makes a claim, journalists, perhaps more than anyone else, should know that the comments should not necessarily be taken at face value and that additional investigating is required.

But a recent piece by Associated Press parrots the words of Lebanon-based Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, effectively promoting them as fact.

Indeed, the headline of the December 27 article — “Hezbollah doubled its precision-guided missiles in a year” — is a direct quote from the head of the Iranian proxy, which through its nefarious actions has brought Lebanon to the brink of total collapse and whose members have killed countless innocents on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria, trained Iraqi insurgents who have gone on to kill US forces, and targeted Israel repeatedly.

In this respect, the headline should at the very least have included Nasrallah’s name or a reference to him in order make clear that the headline is not a statement of fact.

By contrast, an accurate title might have read, “Hezbollah chief: We have doubled our precision-guided missiles in a year;” or, “Nasrallah: Hezbollah doubled its precision-guided missiles in a year.”

The point is that what terrorists say must be taken with a grain of salt. And while the media should document these claims, journalists have a responsibility to ensure that the public understands the difference between a claim and objective truth.

It is telling, too, that the article is based entirely on a four-hour-long interview given by Nasrallah to the Beirut-based Arabic television station Al-Mayadeen.
Success: ‘Foreign Policy’ Clarifies Status of Sudanese in Israel
On December 10, Foreign Policy published a piece about Sudanese in Israel that gave the inaccurate impression that all members of this cohort are refugees:

HonestReporting contacted Foreign Policy to point out that while the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees that refugees not be sent back to their countries of origin if doing so would put them in harm’s way, the intergovernmental organization also clearly differentiates between what constitutes a “refugee” as opposed to a “migrant.” HR noted that most experts agree that the latter applies to those who leave their states in search of economic opportunity and an overall better life.

As such, not everyone from Sudan presently residing in Israel is, by definition, a refugee. Accordingly, the title of the Foreign Policy article is misleading.

Asylum Seekers Are Not the Same as Refugees
Notably, the piece repeatedly uses the term “asylum seeker” interchangeably with “refugee.” The former applies to individuals whose claim to refugee status has not yet been determined. By contrast, a refugee is someone who has been recognized as such under the 1951 Convention.

Indeed, not all asylum seekers are ultimately recognized as refugees and, even then, only about one percent of them are, on average, resettled every year.

AFP’s Fantastical Coverage From the Holy Day of Yad Vashem to Bat Yam’s Storied Mossad Retirees
Last week, Agence France Presse’s Israel-related coverage took on a turn towards the fantastical. First, there was the Dec. 21 article story which misidentified Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, as “the holiest day of the Jewish year.” CAMERA prompted coverage of that absurdity, but days later the agency’s fact-checkers apparently were still out sipping eggnog. On Christmas day, a heart-warming story of an Israeli ice hockey team competing in Dubai against an Emirati team bizarrely maintained that the Israeli city of Bat Yam, “south of Tel Aviv, on the shores of the Mediterranean, is better known for its sandy beaches, an idyllic climate and its retired Mossad agents, than for its ice hockey club.” (“Breaking the Ice: Israel-UAE Hockey Match Makes History,” emphasis added.)

Yes, famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who successfully infiltrated the highest levels of the Syrian government in the 1960s, had hailed from Bat Yam. Cohen, however, never was able to relish the luxury of retirement prior to his execution by hanging in Damascus. Then there’s Isaac Shoshan, featured in Matti Friedman’s “Spies of No Country,” a fascinating book about Jews from Arab countries who spied on behalf of Israel before the country’s independence. But that low profile Palmach-era spy who worked in Beirut is hardly a household name. Neither his name nor his occupation is widely associated with the city of Bat Yam. (Incidentally, the elderly, modest Shoshan passed away just yesterday.) How, exactly, is Bat Yam “known” for its retired Mossad agents?

Separately, the AFP piece refers to a “new ice rink in Tvunot [sic] near Jerusalem.” That’s the OneIce Arena in Tnuvot, not Tvunot, near Netanya — nowhere “near Jerusalem.” CAMERA yesterday brought these errors, which appeared also in French, to the attention of AFP’s Jerusalem bureau, but as of this writing, the AFP story has yet to be corrected in either language, despite the wire service’s stated commitment to “correct errors quickly and transparently.”

The Times of Israel had published AFP’s hockey story, including the errors. In response to communication from CAMERA, Times of Israel editors yesterday immediately deleted the unfounded reference to Bat Yam’s supposed fame on account of its retired Mossad agents and corrected the information about Tnuvot.
Superficial BBC report on Hizballah drug trafficking
Back in July the BBC News website published a report headlined ‘Captagon: Italy seizes €1bn of amphetamines ‘made to fund IS’’ in which audiences were told that:

“Italian police have seized what they believe is a world-record haul of 14 tonnes of amphetamines they suspect were made in Syria to finance the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

About 84 million counterfeit Captagon pills worth an estimated €1bn ($1.1bn; £0.9bn) were found in containers at the port of Salerno.”

That report is still available online in its original form. However in a filmed report published on the same website on December 21st – ‘Captagon: Destroying the frontline drug’ – BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville stated that the source was not as originally thought.

“The source of origin wasn’t the Islamic State group, but this drugs bust and a wave of others which have occurred across the world, the source turned out to be Syria. The drugs came from the Syrian port of Latakia, the second haul the Italians have seized this summer. The Syrian regime and its ally, Lebanese militia Hezbollah, are deep in the drugs trade. It’s a major source of funding.”

Sommerville provided no further details concerning Hizballah’s involvement in drug trafficking in that filmed report. Viewers searching for more information on the topic from the BBC would find that the corporation’s profile of Hizballah (last updated in 2016) provides no information whatsoever on that aspect of the terrorist organisation’s activities. A search online for previous BBC reporting on the topic only brings up articles from fifteen years ago, eight years ago and 2018, mostly relating to Hizballah’s drug related activities in South America.
Anti-Jewish COVID theories top list of worst antisemitism outbreaks
The human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) on Tuesday announced its top ten outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism for 2020, with various conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic earning the lead spot.

“From the earliest stages of the pandemic in February 2020, far-right extremists across social media platforms blamed Jews and Asian Americans for the virus,” wrote the center, citing the example of a “posting with an image titled ‘Holocough’ [that] urged, ‘If you have the bug, give a hug. Spread the flu to every Jew.’”

The center said that “Antisemites have blamed Jews for the medieval Black Plague to the WWI Spanish Flu. In the 1930s, Nazi propaganda compared Jews to vermin who spread disease.”

The number two spot went to the social media platform Telegram. “Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and many others turn to Telegram, a platform with little or no rules or content moderation. The murderous Atomwaffen Division, its successor, the National Socialist Order, extremist The Base, the Boogaloo Movement, the violent Nordic Resistance Movement that targeted Jewish institutions on Yom Kippur in four Scandinavian countries, have all found a home on Telegram,” wrote Wiesenthal, adding that “Hamas and other Islamist terrorists with hate and violence agendas also have active feeds targeting their enemies.”

The Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, secured the third spot. His entry was labeled: “Godfather of hate spreads Jews-hatred to new generations.” He alleged that Jews tried to kill him with “radiated seeds.”

Fourth place went to the far-left and far-right in the US for their “Desecrations, arson, violent attacks against synagogues as America reels from turmoil after George Floyd’s death.” Wiesenthal wrote that “Synagogues in Los Angeles and Oakland, California and Kenosha, Wisconsin were targeted in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, George Floyd’s and Jake Blake’s killings.”
Spain finds Nazi memorabilia stash with arrest suspected arms traffickers
Spanish police found a warehouse full of Nazi memorabilia as they arrested three suspected leaders of an international arms ring that sold guns to drug traffickers along the Costa del Sol, the Civil Guard force said on Tuesday.

Following a year-long investigation into a wave of gun crimes in the region, police raided three locations, recovering 160 firearms, nearly 10,000 bullets and 1.5 kg of explosives.

The warehouse where the weapons were found was stuffed with Nazi artifacts, including portraits of Adolf Hitler, German military uniforms and medals displayed as if in a museum, police footage showed.

Officers arrested two German men, one of whom had links to far-right groups, and a British man. They have been charged with arms trafficking, drugs trafficking and falsifying official documents.

According to police, the gang acquired weapons from Eastern Europe before modifying them in their workshop in Malaga and selling them on to drug runners.
Dozens of French graves defaced with swastikas but Jewish headstones spared
Dozens of tombstones at graveyard in the French town of Fontainebleau were defaced with swastikas, the town’s mayor said Monday, but in an unusual twist Jewish gravestones were spared.

“Sixty-seven old or more recent gravestones were vandalized with swastikas in pink, white and silver,” Fontainebleau’s mayor Frederic Valletoux told AFP.

The words “Biobananas” and “Charles” were found inscribed on some of the graves but there was no sign of anti-Semitic graffiti, Valletoux added.

Meanwhile, the town’s Jewish cemetery which is situated next to the main cemetery was found untouched.

Famous for a royal palace that served as a country retreat for monarchs from Louis VII through to Napoleon III, as well the surrounding forest that was their hunting ground, Fontainebleau is situated about 60 kilometers south-east of Paris.

The incident is the latest to target cemeteries in France, where Jewish gravestones have regularly been targeted by vandals.
Reactions to Israeli model being named 2020's 'most beautiful woman' turn ugly
Israeli model Yael Shelbia may have been named the most beautiful woman in the world for 2020, but those who disagreed with TC Candler magazine's decision to crown her as such were not shy about leaving ugly messages on her Instagram account, flooding it with angry anti-Israel comments.

"Liberate Palestine," one person commented. "Your country does not exist. Palestine is the only legitimate country," another person wrote.

The post garnered many angry responses in Arabic depicting flags of Palestine, despite the fact that the winner is named based on the votes of viewers from all over the world.

One person wrote, "now all Jewish girls will think they have the most beautiful face in the world."

Nevertheless, the post received many encouraging responses too. "A wonderful achievement for our Israel," one person wrote.

"Very beautiful," wrote Israeli model Nataly Dadon in support of Shelbia.

"I can't believe that I am at the top of the list," Shelbia told Israel Hayom. "Thank you to everyone who voted for me."
Rafael seeks to outfit IDF with drones, robots that spot threats by themselves
The Rafael defense contractor on Sunday unveiled a number of new weapons and systems, including miniature drones and a robotic dog, which it plans to sell to the Israel Defense Forces and foreign militaries and that it claims will change the face of modern warfare.

The company, one of the country’s leading weapons manufacturers, sees these technological developments as a step toward a more interconnected and intelligent future battlefield, one in which many of the impediments to proper communication between various units and vehicles have been removed, granting the entire military access to up-to-date information and intelligence.

“Today, we can really talk about the ability to connect — in real time — the plane, the helicopter, the drone, the tank, the soldier, the half-track on every front, at all times, constantly,” said Rafael CEO Yoav Har-Even.

According to Har-Even, a former head of the IDF Ground Forces, such interoperability was once impossible due to the inability of various communication systems within the military to work with one another.

“Today, the technology enables the strategies,” he said.

Improved communication between various branches of the military is a central points of IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s Momentum Plan. A main lynchpin of that plan is a powerful mapping and communication system produced by Rafael known as Smart Trigger, which allows for the rapid sharing of intelligence between units and allows commanders to easily determine which troops are in the best position to attack a target.

Rafael is developing a number of devices that can grant access to this system — and the information it contains, which was once only available to senior commanders — to individual troops on the battlefield.

“All the capabilities of intelligence collections, data analysis and assault will be made accessible not only to aerial forces, but also to ground forces, down to the level of the infantryman,” the company said.
Israel to become natural gas-independent for the first time
Israel will rely on its own natural gas supplies without needing external suppliers, starting in 2022, the Energy Ministry has said.

Israel maintains an offshore emergency gas supply in a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) boat off the coast of Hadera. Canceling that unit will save Israelis more than NIS 250 million per year in electricity costs.

Israel operates two major natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea: Tamar, which has been pumping gas since 2013, and Leviathan, which began production last year. A third gas source, the Karish field, is expected to start producing gas during the coming year. At that point, the Energy Ministry maintains, there will be no need for external backups.

The existing FSRU infrastructure that was built in 2012 will be maintained in case of future need, the ministry noted. The system allows liquefied natural gas to be imported and stored, and then converted back to a gas and delivered via sea link to Israel's natural gas transmission system.

In a letter to the American company that provides the FSRU, Energy Ministry director-general Udi Adiri thanked the company for its service, and said it would cancel the arrangement.

Israel began using the FSRU system in 2013, when gas imports from Egypt ceased and the Tethys gas reservoir, Israel's only natural gas source at the time, was approaching depletion.
Israeli Companies Flocking to Nasdaq in Numbers Not Seen Since Dot-Com Bubble
The ever-growing list of Israeli tech companies targeting a Nasdaq IPO in the coming months is closing in on double figures, with eToro becoming the latest, and probably not the last to join. This multitude of companies, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 2000, when at times, five and even seven Israeli companies would go public each day, is the result of two factors. The first is high demand for tech shares due to the accelerated digital transformation of the past year and the second being the almost complete lack of M&A deals due to the dramatic decrease in travel which complicated due diligence and integration processes. During this time, companies have continued to grow and receive generous funding from private investors which has allowed them to join the unicorn club, which in this day and age is essentially the minimum threshold to go public on Nasdaq.

Over the past three years, there has been an awakening in the IPO sector after years in which companies preferred to first try and obtain private funding. This created a new reality in which private companies reached dimensions previously unseen and are in no rush to go public. But the investing public is hungry for these companies, which is evident in the sharp increase in the shares of tech companies during their first day of trading.

It started with a trickle in 2018 and 2019, with IPOs of companies like Uber, Lyft, Beyond Meat, Zoom, and Slack, but peaked in 2020 when the average surge on the opening day of trading reached 40%. Companies like eToro and Robinhood are about to enjoy a phenomenon which they helped create in which young investors want to have a share in companies which sell products they use every day.

This is also where the significant difference between now and 20 years ago rests. In the year 2000, business models weren’t structured enough and everything was based on fantasy rather than vision. Currently, the most sought-after shares in Robinhood are those which represent the digital economy that investors interact with on a daily basis, when using a cab, renting a home for a vacation, or buying a vegan hamburger.
Jewish Groups Remember Victim of Hanukkah Monsey Stabbing on First Anniversary of Attack
Leading US Jewish organizations on Monday commemorated the one-year anniversary of the antisemitic stabbing attack at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York.

In the incident, Rabbi Josef Neumann was critically wounded, and he died several months later at the age of 72.

The perpetrator, 38-year-old Grafton Thomas, was arrested several hours after the attack, which took place in the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg. In April, Grafton was found mentally unfit to stand trial on federal hate crime charges.

“One year ago, on the 7th night of Hanukkah, a machete-wielding assailant entered the home of a rabbi in Monsey and attacked a gathering celebrating the holiday,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Monday. “We will never forget.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt pledged to “continue fighting the vile antisemitism & #hate that fueled this tragic incident.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) tweeted, “It’s been one year since the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing in New York. An attacker wielding a machete entered the home of a rabbi during Hanukkah celebrations, stabbing several people. Joseph Neumann, 72, died of his wounds several months later. May his memory be a blessing.”

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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 18 years and 38,000 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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