Ruthie Blum: 2020 hindsight – Israel’s year in review
US President Donald Trump unveiled his “Peace to Prosperity” plan at the White House, with Netanyahu at his side, in the presence of administration officials and other prominent pro-Israel guests. The details of the “Deal of the Century,” as it had been dubbed, were finally revealed.Point of No Return: Review of the Year 2020
Like Trump’s other policies – such as moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; halting funding to UNRWA, demanding that the Palestinian Authority cease its pay-for-slay policy; and declaring that Israeli settlements are not illegal – his blueprint for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was groundbreaking.
Rather than treating the PA’s corruption and violence as a result of Israeli “occupation,” Trump’s team offered Ramallah a carrot but threatened it with a stick. It was exhilarating for most Israelis to witness Washington smash the mold of the failed “land for peace” paradigm. Unfortunately, US President-elect Joe Biden and his appointees are going to revert to the old model of appeasing enemies. In this respect, Israelis may come to look back on 2020 with a twinge of nostalgia.
The burgeoning friendship with neighboring Muslim-Arab countries is a blessing that cannot be overstated. The trouble is that relations with Washington are about to take a turn for the worse.
It is understandable for Israelis to be worried about the future and bemoan the past year. But it is a complete distortion of reality to look upon 2020 as a period of pure chaos on the one hand and paralysis on the other.
Indeed, it’s worth pausing from the hysteria for a moment to acknowledge the miraculous achievements made by the Netanyahu-led government, in spite of months of bitter infighting, during the pandemic. If anything, then, this crazy year was characterized by an insane degree of uncanny multitasking.
It's that time of the year again - time to review the highlights and lowlights of 2020.
In the 15 years since Point of No Return has been collecting information on Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, there have been 5,940 posts. This year achieved 426,000 views.
This year will be remembered as the year of COVID-19. It was certainly not the first time that plagues have swept through the Middle East. This year's plague took a heavy toll of Jewish communities.
This year gave Iraqi Jews an excuse to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their airlift to Israel.
But the highpoint of 2020 must be surely the historic peace accords achieved with four Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. This is a teachable moment - to educate about Jewish refugees from the Arab world and Iran. (Some Arabs have already absorbed the lesson. )
For the first time, the rights of Jewish refugees were explicitly mentioned in the Trump Middle East peace plan announced in January. Unfortunately, the media still refuse to give the issue the coverage it deserves.
Numbers of Jews continued to dwindle in Arab countries, except in Dubai, which holds out the promise of an expanding Jewish community, serviced by three rabbis. It was a good year for one particular Jewish family from Yemen, who were given refuge in the UAE.
Cooperation in innovation can reshape the Middle East - opinion
It has been widely observed that the Israeli and Emirati economies, which are similar in size, are highly complementary, not only creating very large potential opportunities for bilateral trade but also giving start-ups in both countries a greater ability to scale within the region before truly going global.What awaits at the other side of the Arabian deserts
What started with the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan (which is also moving toward finalizing a normalization agreement with Israel) is unlikely to end there, as Israel eyes additional deals with other regional players. This will turbocharge the local innovation scene: Home to the world’s largest youth population, the Middle East and North Africa region is brimming with digital natives, making it an ideal market for Israeli solutions and a vital source of human capital for the region’s burgeoning hi-tech industry.
Can the deepening ties between Israel and its new Arab partners fuel new innovation not only on the consumer side, but also in terms of new company formation? Will strengthening business relationships and new commercial opportunities embolden more entrepreneurs in the region, like the founders of Fenix, to pursue their visionary ideas?
The long-term political and economic consequences of this game-changing new development in the Middle East remain to be determined – but the very fact that we’re asking these questions underscores that even in an increasingly uncertain world, positive change can come even to the most turbulent regions.
To be sure, Middle Eastern leaders still confront instability, threats and unresolved conflicts, but the normalization agreements inked this year – and the promise of more such deals to come – create opportunities for collaboration that were not imaginable before 2020.
Having a front-row seat to this change has been nothing short of invigorating, and we’re only getting started. Building a region known more for disruptive technology than for the types of disruptions typically associated with the Middle East will usher in a new era of creativity, ingenuity, and innovation, dramatically improving the lives of the region’s people, with reverberations across the globe.
Start-up Nation meet Start-up Region.
What awaits at the other side of the Arabian deserts: A post for Israelis looking for opportunities in the EmiratesLondon university accused of fostering 'antisemitic,' 'toxic' environment
On the last Hanukkah, the flight information display system at Ben Gurion Airport assumed an appearance that only a few months earlier would have seemed surrealistic: the destination of almost all departing flights was “Dubai.” Like tens of thousands of Israelis, I too flew for the first time over the formidable Arabian desert toward the United Arab Emirates, that intriguing destination that has become a magnet overnight. Most Israelis flew for vacation, in the absence of other tourist options, but some travelers were looking for promising new business opportunities. Is it indeed possible to create new and interesting business collaborations between the Emirates and Israel? And if so, what are those collaborations?
First, it is important to correct a basic perception about the Emirates: this is not an economy that seeks to rely on oil money and hedonistically waste income from natural resources, as it is sometimes mistakenly assumed in the West. On the contrary. As a nation, the Emiratis look far into the distance, and in recent decades have made sure to move forward at breakneck speed and with a sharp focus toward a future of an open, diverse, and technological market economy. On the first day of my visit I attended the GITEX international high-tech conference, which, although sparse in attendance because of the corona, proved that Dubai thinks big and out of the box, and that it eagerly seeks to break out from the confines of current technology.
The young Emiratis I met are a highly talented and educated group, reminiscent of the young Israelis who constitute the economic engine of Israel. They are hardworking and insist on proving that although most of them come from established families, they know how to work smart and produce value, and are not content with mediocrity.
The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) allegedly fosters a "toxic, antisemitic environment," according to an independent appeals commission.Appeal Panel recommends investigation into “toxic, antisemitic environment” at SOAS
The appeal was made by SOAS student Noah Lewis, who won his initial ruling but appealed because the school should "address the issue of institutionalized antisemitism and a toxic atmosphere," the Algemeiner said.
According to the Algemeiner report, the panel recommended that the school revisit the issue of antisemitism on campus. Examples of the "toxic" environment include the Student Union (SU) parading its support of the BDS movement; Jews who were not anti-Israel being generalized as "Zionists"; and Lewis's proposed dissertation on the systematic UN bias against Israel garnering condemnation from his peers, among others. The appeal, spearheaded by UK Lawyers for Israel, presented evidence of the dismay of Jewish SOAS students within the overall environment and the school's handling of the situation.
One student said that “the Student Union, which represents the total student body, consistently fails to respect the identities of Jewish students on the same level as other minority groups," according to Algemeiner. Others stated that they were either "shocked by the amount of antisemitic attitudes on campus" or felt "unwelcome and uncomfortable at SOAS."
The school and Lewis reached a settlement agreement to the tune of 15,000 pounds sterling, following his request to have his tuition and expenses refunded. However, there was no follow-up or investigation into the issues on campus, which prompted Lewis to seek further legal action.
In the March ruling, the school commission stated that they "considered the objection that it would be inappropriate for every complaint from any individual student to trigger a full scale and meticulous, perhaps external, investigation of the whole culture at the school and the Student Union."
The Appeal Panel, consisting of two members of SOAS staff and an independent chair, stated that it understood the term “toxic, antisemitic environment” to refer to “institutional antisemitism” as defined in the Macpherson Report, namely “the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”ICRC's Twitter Campaign Shows its Obsession With Israel
It added that the new investigation should also draw on the Equality Act 2010 and the IHRA definition of antisemitism for its understanding of “toxic, antisemitic environment”.
The Panel recommended that the investigation should be carried out by a panel of three people not associated with SOAS or its student union, that they should all command the confidence of the Jewish community and its leading institutions, and that they should be selected in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the Government’s Independent Antisemitism Advisor (Lord Mann). They should include an academic familiar with academic research and debates on contemporary antisemitism, and someone of stature and experience in public life who would add to public confidence in the process.
Jonathan Turner, Executive Director of UKLFI Charitable Trust commented: “The Panel grasped the nettle and has set a benchmark of best practice which should be followed in other cases where there is prima facie evidence of an antisemitic environment. We congratulate Noah Lewis on pursuing the complaint and hope that other students who experience antisemitism at universities will now be encouraged to object. Organisations such as ours are here to help.”
Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project commented: “What happened to Noah Lewis should never be considered acceptable at a place of higher learning. The Lawfare Project is glad to see that, with this settlement and continued investigation, SOAS is working to right this wrong and ensure that its Jewish students and faculty members can feel safe and welcome on campus.”
Mr. Lewis commented: “I am grateful for the support and guidance provided by UKLFI and the Lawfare Project. The anti-Semitic climate that has taken hold on UK campuses like SOAS cannot be allowed to persist and I strongly urge fellow students who have suffered similar experiences to speak out. This is the only way that we will affect positive change.”
The International Committee for the Red Cross describes itself as "an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance." So why is this allegedly "impartial, neutral and independent organization" running a PR campaign on Twitter in which it singles out the Israeli-made hit Netflix show Fauda for fictional violations of international law? Doesn't it have enough real work to get on with, such as documenting voter suppression, the execution of journalists, and violent crimes against Muslims by the Chinese regime?
James Zogby, MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin Pair Up For Corona Christmas Propaganda Extravaganza
Pollster James Zogby, who once famously responded with a fit of a rage to a tweet about Israeli hummus, last week paired up with MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin to vent their shared anti-Israel animus with a focus on the day’s topics: coronavirus and Christmas.Pitchfork Magazine Normalizes Jay Electronica’s Antisemitic Lyrics
Picking up on the narrative embraced earlier by other media outlets such as Associated Press and Washington Post in which Israeli citizens can look forward to a quick rollout of a coronavirus campaign while the Jewish state fails to provide for its ailing, impoverished, occupied Palestinian neighbors, MSNBC’s Dec. 24 broadcast dismisses the fact that under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian government is responsible for vaccinating its population (“Covid vaccine distribution underway in Israel, Palestinians may wait months“).
Zogby falsely argues that it is Israel’s responsibility to vaccinate West Bank and Gaza populations, claiming: International law that governs occupied territories and humanitarian law that governs occupations very specifically stipulate that Israel has, the occupying power, has the obligation to care for the public health, safety and security of the people under occupation. They don’t just have nine million people. There are 15 million under their control. Half of them are Palestinian Arabs. Some are citizens, two million and the other [sic] are living under occupation. They’re not caring for them. They’re not doing what is their required obligation to do for them and so Palestinians are suffering. They have no income. They have no money. The authority doesn’t have money. They don’t have the physical capability of getting the vaccine and being able to store it and distribute it. And that is the obligation of the occupying power to do.
Later the pollster absurdly claims that because Palestinian pharmaceutical imports require Israeli approval, Israel therefore is responsible for providing the vaccine: Here’s the interesting thing. Israel claims that it’s not the occupying authority, that the West Bank is under the control, that Area A, is under control of the Palestinian Authority. But they [Palestinians] can’t import. They can’t import medicines. They can’t import products unless Israel approves them and they have not given the approval for this [Russian] vaccine.
At no point does Mohyeldin make clear that the bilateral Oslo Accords, to which the Palestinians consented, transferred responsibility for healthcare to the newly formed Palestinian government.
Hip hop artist Jay Electronica released two albums this year. The first, A Written Testimony, caused controversy with its references to the Rothschild banking family and to the “synagogue of Satan.” The artist was again in the news over the summer for making comments about Rabbi Abraham Cooper that were regarded as antisemitic. Then in October, his second album of the year, Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn), repeated the same references to the Rothschilds and to the “synagogue of Satan.” In case there was any doubt about the meaning, other tracks on the album mentioned notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan, who has clearly used the term to refer to Jews, and Farrakhan’s publication, the Final Call.
When A Written Testimony came out in March, some gave Electronica the benefit of the doubt due to his somewhat sordid history with Kate Rothschild, the granddaughter of the 3rd Baron Rothschild and the niece of the 4th Baron Rothschild, which left room for ambiguity over the artist’s subjective intent. But including the same phrases on his second album after being called out by a Jewish DJ left no doubt that Electronica simply disregards Jewish sensibilities. Yet, the popular music magazine Pitchfork called Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn), one of the top 50 albums of the year.
Pitchfork is a 25-year old music publication that was acquired by Conde Nast in 2015. It boasts 7.3 million unique users, most of whom are millenials, and it’s long been considered highly influential. It calls itself, “the most trusted voice in music.” But when this publication compiled its list of “The 50 Best Albums of 2020,” its editors decided to include an album with antisemitic lyrics. Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn) is number 14 on Pitchfork’s list.
Electronica’s March album, A Written Testimony, included the lyrics, “And I bet you a Rothschild I get a bang for my dollar / The Synagogue of Satan want me to hang by my collar.” As the Jewish News points out, Jay Electronica’s previous relationship with Kate Rothschild adds a layer of meaning that could be personal. But regardless of the intent, there’s little doubt that, on their face, these lines promote what the ADL calls a “longstanding anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” about the Rothschild family, antisemitic tropes and stereotypes about Jews and money, and rhetoric reminiscent of Louis Farrakhan, a man the ADL calls a “notable extremist figure, railing against Jews, white people and the LGBT community.”
No, @Guardian, occupation is not the the reason for Israel's isolation by Arab states. The refusal to recognize even Israel's existence far pre-dates any claims of occupation.— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 30, 2020
Please correct this egregious, ahistorical claim, @olireports. pic.twitter.com/i2cy8IGRii
Imagine Al Qaeda being described as "formed as part of an insurgency resisting the Soviets during the 70s and 80s."— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 30, 2020
Hezbollah is a powerful, Iranian-funded terror organization which openly speaks of its aim to destroy Israel.
Readers deserve to know, @ShaolinTom @Newsweek. pic.twitter.com/lRTjlCxLft
PROMOTED AND QUOTED: THE BBC’S PREFERRED NGO CONTRIBUTORS IN 2020
Since 2013 (see ‘related articles’ below) we have documented contributions and/or information sourced from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) appearing in the BBC’s Israel related content.Orthodox Jewish Man Stabbed in Lakewood, New Jersey
Often portrayed by the BBC as ‘human rights groups’, those inherently agenda-driven organisations make no claim to provide unbiased information and are obviously not obligated to the BBC’s editorial guidelines.
The BBC’s collaboration with political NGOs comes in a variety of forms. In some cases people associated with NGOs are interviewed or quoted in BBC reporting – but their links to those organisations are not adequately clarified.
For example a report by Orla Guerin aired on BBC One in January included a contribution from a person described as a “community organiser” who actually works as campaigns director for the political NGO Avaaz. In the same report Guerin promoted a quote from an unidentified “analyst” who holds a senior position at the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG):
A man was stabbed in Lakewood on Tuesday morning, The Lakewood Scoop reported. He was walking in public around 9 a.m. when a woman stabbed him from behind.
The victim grabbed the weapon away from her and managed to hold her down until police arrived.
The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and the assailant was taken into custody.
An investigation is underway by Lakewood’s CSI and Detective’s Bureau. The motivation for the attack is unknown as of now, but The Lakewood Scoop reported that the woman was known to the authorities as mentally unstable.
Security camera footage recorded the entire attack and can be seen below.
Swastika, racial slurs painted on Jewish family's new home
West Linn police are investigating racist, anti-semitic and anti-police graffiti discovered at an under-construction home Dec. 23.Bazan Group embarks on $3.7 million project to advance hydrogen-fueled vehicles
Police announced in a press release they were investigating the incident as a bias crime.
Steve Sherman, who has lived with his family in the neighborhood for 20 years, said he discovered the vandalism around 4 p.m. Wednesday when he walked the short distance from his current home to his future home on Nixon Avenue.
Sherman said that two swastikas, the N-word, the acronym ACAB (which stands for "all cops are bastards") and "not a nice message" directed at a specific West Linn police officer were all written in putty and pipe glue on the windows and walls of the house.
According to Sherman, a neighbor's video camera across the street showed two teenagers casually walking onto the property when no one else was there.
Sherman, whose family is Jewish, said he thought it most likely that the house was vandalized simply because it was under construction and seemed an easy target.
"We don't hide the fact that we're Jewish. We're one of the only families that doesn't have Christmas lights on every year and people that know us know we're Jewish," he said.
The Bazan Group, whose fossil fuel-based companies are among the most polluting in Israel, announced Monday that it is to embark on a NIS 12 million ($3.7 million) pilot project to produce, compress and transport hydrogen in accordance with the standards needed for the introduction of green, hydrogen-fueled vehicles into Israel.Online trading platform eToro reportedly planning IPO at $5b valuation
Its first target will be to create the first hydrogen refueling station in the country — a goal it shares with the Sonol company.
Around the world, the promise of hydrogen power, harvested by separating and reuniting the elements that make up water, is sparking the next revolution in clean energy.
The technology is still in its infancy, but both the government and the private sector are pumping money into developing ways to make hydrogen more powerful, efficient and cost-effective.
Bazan’s proposal was accepted by the Energy Ministry’s chief scientist and its Alternative Fuels and Smart Transportation Administration, which seeks to encourage innovation in the energy economy.
Israeli fintech firm eToro is reportedly planning to hold an initial public offering of shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange at a valuation of $5 billion in the second quarter of 2021.IDF's 7 Most Advanced Technologies
The Israel-based online trading platform allows customers to trade in stocks, currencies, commodities and cryptocurrencies as well as derivatives of such assets.
The firm has added 5 million new users this year, bringing the total number of registered users to some 17 million, with its revenues tripling to $500 million, according to the Calcalist financial website, which first reported on the IPO on Monday.
CEO Yonatan Assia said in an interview in September that eToro had experienced significant growth during the coronavirus crisis.
However, the company, which employs 700 people in Israel and 400 elsewhere, has come under scrutiny from regulators and journalists in Australia and the UK in recent months. Questions have arisen regarding precisely how eToro earns its money and whether its products are too risky for the Millenial and Generation Z investors who appear to be flocking to its trading platform in response to aggressive advertising.
A December 6 report in The Australian said the company was being looked at by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) after it recorded a 480% rise in Australian users this year.
Behind the IDF's success lies an array of sophisticated and cutting-edge technology.
From advanced radar systems and encrypted radio communications to drones that can fit in a backpack, our technology enables us to eliminate any enemy threat.
These 7 technologies provide us with an edge on the battlefield and assist us in our mission to save civilian lives.
‘A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed’: Israel Offers Aid to Croatia After Major Earthquake
Israel has offered humanitarian aid to Croatia following a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the European nation on Tuesday.
The tremor — with the epicenter in Petrinja, 50 kilometers south of the Croatian capital, Zagreb — killed at least six people and injured more than 20 more.
It was the second quake to strike the area in two days.
The director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Alon Ushpiz, tweeted, “We follow with great concern the effects of the recent earthquakes in Croatia, that caused great damage and the tragic death of a young girl.”
“The Foreign Ministry, in coordination with the home front command, has offered immediate assistance to Croatia,” he added.
Israeli Ambassador to Croatia Ilan Mor tweeted, “#Israel stand in solidarity with the #Croatian citizens after the 2 devastating #Earthquakes in only 48 hours. Our thoughts go to the families of the 2 victims, the injured and all those who lost their homes. We stand ready to support. A friend in a need is a friend indeed.”
Israel has a long history of sending emergency responders to disaster zones around the world, including Honduras earlier this year after two hurricanes there.
HEROES OF 2020— يوناتان جونين Yonatan Gonen (@GonenYonatan) December 30, 2020
On July 3, Michael Ben Zikri drowned after rescuing an Arab family (woman and three children) from a sinkhole in a lake south of Israel
The news has touched many Arabs throughout the Middle East who referred to Ben Zikri as a hero and praised his humanitarian act pic.twitter.com/sKl69fnEvu