Tuesday, January 12, 2021

01/12 Links Pt2: What the world can learn from Israel's vaccination drive; Israel to provide COVID vaccines for Holocaust survivors around the world

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: What the world can learn from Israel's vaccination drive
Where Israel gambled — and where it has succeeded so far — is in investing in vaccines. It scrambled to acquire Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the millions of doses, enough to provide the necessary two doses to the entire adult population. This process has put the country far ahead of its neighbors, with the exception of wealthy Gulf states Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are still questions about how Israel will vaccinate public sectors that are suspicious of the vaccine. This has been an issue throughout the campaign against the virus. Local media have reported that Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israelis and some in the Arab minority are either ignoring guidelines or suspicious of the vaccine. In general, though, the national effort has not met with conflict, despite Israel being a divided society in other ways. Every country has minority groups and making sure they feel confident in health guidelines is important.

Perhaps the main lesson from Israel is to deal with the pandemic as if it is a national security issue, not just a health issue. This has reduced problems because it has been viewed as an across-the-board fight. Not every country has the conscript army that Israel has to do things such as this, but many have civil emergency forces. Countries can prioritize health as a national security issue for the future. Second, Israel has been flexible, self-critical and willing to change. That means not discarding vaccine doses just because you don’t have precisely the right set of people waiting in line, and instead giving them to people waiting on stand-by. Flexibility, combined with a mass effort, works wonders.

Where Israel and other countries still need to improve is in explaining what comes next. When will the airports facilitate tourism again, and when will costly quarantines end? What is the exit strategy? In December, 50,000 Israelis flew to Dubai because the UAE, which just signed a peace deal with Israel, was labeled a safe country to travel to. Weeks later, the government reversed course and started quarantining those returning. People are hungry to travel again, and opening up corridors of safe travel with clear and efficient testing is necessary.

The battle against the virus has been viewed as a war effort in Israel, and the battle to get things back to normal should be launched with the same urgency.

Israel to provide COVID vaccines for Holocaust survivors around the world
Israel will work to provide coronavirus vaccinations for Holocaust survivors both in Israel and in the Diaspora, according to Israel Hayom.

The complicated, international logistical operation is only in its beginning stages. Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch tasked the Shalom Corps organization with coordinating bureaucratic procedures.

The organization has approached several large medical shipping companies about the logistics of the project, and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry is working with the Health Ministry to coordinate with Pfizer and Moderna.

The campaign will be conducted through vaccination centers in a number of different countries. Survivors who cannot leave their homes will have medical staff and volunteers come to them.

The Ministry intends to recruit Jewish philanthropists to help fund the operation and intends to order additional vaccines for the survivors and not take from the quota allocated for the State of Israel.

"In a time of acute global crisis in the face of the coronavirus, we have the privilege to repay, if only slightly, Holocaust survivors who survived the inferno of the Nazi oppressor and, thanks to their courage, managed to protect the embers of Judaism," Yankelevitch told Israel Hayom. "We have the privilege to provide them with protection against the coronavirus. This is the moral order that every Jew carries in his heart - to make sure that they never walk alone."
Col. Richard Kemp: Media: Israel Must Be Denigrated for Its World-Beating Vaccination Programme
The same negative policy [by the press and many purported human rights groups] extends to other major benefits that Israel has brought to the world, including scientific innovation, medical technology and life-saving intelligence. It goes against editorial agendas to report on the Jewish state in a positive light unless they can somehow twist a good story to turn it bad.

Under the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA), it alone and not Israel, is responsible for their health care, including vaccinations. Nearly 150 UN members recognise "Palestine" as a state, yet these media and human rights bodies, displaying deplorably predictable bias, cannot bring themselves to allow it agency.

Contradicting allegations of a racist or "apartheid" policy, Israel has been vaccinating its Arab citizens since the programme began. Given some reluctance to be vaccinated among these communities, the Israeli government, in conjunction with Arab community leaders, have been making concerted efforts to encourage them, including a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to two Arab towns in the last few days for this purpose.

The same approach can be seen over the Abraham Accords of 2020, historic achievements in a hitherto elusive peace between Israel and the Arabs. These have often been received with callous cynicism in the media as well as among veteran peace processors, whose own prescriptions have repeatedly failed.

[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the driving force behind the Abraham Accords, whose origins date back to his speech to a joint session of Congress in 2015, when he made a stand against Iran's nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu's solitary stance was seized on by Arab leaders, who began to realise they had common cause with the State of Israel, which could lead to a brighter future for them than one encumbered with unnecessary animosity.

Israeli data shows 50% reduction in infections 14 days after first vaccine shot
Initial data from Israel’s vaccination campaign shows that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine curbs infections by some 50 percent 14 days after the first of two shots is administered, a top Health Ministry official said Tuesday, as the country’s serious COVID-19 cases, daily infections and total active cases all reach all-time peaks.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the Health Ministry’s public health department, told Channel 12 News that the data was preliminary, and based on the results of coronavirus tests among both those who’ve received the vaccine and those who haven’t.

Other, somewhat contrary data was released by Israeli health maintenance organizations Tuesday evening. Channel 13 News said that according to figures released by Clalit, Israel’s largest health provider, the chance of a person being infected with the coronavirus dropped by 33% 14 days after they were vaccinated. Separate figures recorded by the Maccabi health provider and aired by Channel 12 showed the vaccine caused a 60% drop in the chances for infection 14 days after taking the first shot.

Each of the HMOs compiled the data from some 400,000 patients they treated (800,000 in total).

The cause for the discrepancy between the studies was not immediately clear.

With Pfizer’s phase 3 trials only checking some 40,000 people, and Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign, the data could be some of the best on-the-ground indication yet of the vaccine’s efficacy.
Israel’s One of a Kind Healthcare System Is a Rare Opportunity for Pfizer
“Israel is a world leader in everything related to digital medical data because it’s the first country in the world whose national healthcare system has been undergoing a process of digitization for close to 25 years. Various units in the healthcare system have been uploading medical information to computer databases for nearly three decades. So, regardless of us providing data to Pfizer for its research on its Covid-19 vaccines, what we’re talking about is data that exists in Israel and is very broad — we have the full medical file of every person who’s infected — and also very deep because it goes back many years,” said Orli Tori, a partner at the VC fund Triventures Foundation, who leads seed investments in digital health through the Triventures ARC fund.

“The digital gathering of medical information started 25 years ago, but it didn’t happen overnight nor across all sectors. In the beginning, it was only certain laboratory test results, some medical files, and various documents that instead of being written by hand in the doctor’s notepad, were added to the computerized database. Over time it accumulated. Nowadays, there are some areas where the data has significant depth, while there are others that have only recently undergone digitization, like the imaging sector. In addition, all military medical systems have undergone the digitalization process, and it’s likely that any data concerning soldiers and reservists is organized in databases now too,” Tori said.

According to Tori, the main reason why the Israeli healthcare system’s data is so important for Pfizer is because of the structure of its healthcare market, especially since the government passed a law to socialize the entire healthcare system, requiring every citizen to purchase healthcare from one of a small number of closely regulated HMOs. This unique structure ensures that despite the fact that these organizations are public bodies, they have an incentive to keep their customers healthy, and not wait to engage with them after they are already sick. The Israeli system differs from the US one, which rewards all the factors in the chain for consuming services; the sicker you are, and the more you need health services, the more hospitals earn revenue, the more doctors and pharmacies make.

“In Israel, in comparison, HMOs have an interest in lowering expenses, streamlining the service, and encouraging better quality service. Therefore, for years the Israeli healthcare system has been geared toward preventative healthcare,” Tori said. “Over the past few years, the world has realized that if people adopt healthy habits, get vaccinated, and get a physical once a year — they will reach old age healthier with fewer expenses. If we look at aging world population, this factor is definitely crucial. The global pandemic emphasized the differences between various national healthcare systems, both in the way they approach traumatic events such as a pandemic, and how they cope with them.”
Technion invents rapid, simple COVID-19 test for work and home
A new COVID-19 test developed by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which offers multiple results in under one hour, will be included in a novel four-layer approach meant to ensure that the Haifa-based institute of higher learning will be as safe as possible for all who study and work there during the pandemic, a press release said.

Created by Prof. Naama Geva-Zatorsky, the NaorCov19 test requires a saliva sample which is then heated. If the sample remains pink, it is virus free; if it turns yellow, the patient has the virus. Users can leave samples, record having done so via their phones, and be informed as soon as results are in as they go on with their workday, the Haifa publication Colbo News reported on Saturday.

The test is currently being commercialized by Rapid Diagnostic Systems Ltd, which also gave it the name Naor. As it hasn’t yet been approved by the Health Ministry, the test is currently employed as a first check-up by the Technion with a standard test then being given to those who are found positive for the novel coronavirus.

With its four-layered policy, the Technion sticks to the Purple Badge guidelines and keeps track of the campus sewage system to spot evidence of COVID-19 infections. The NaorCov19 is the new third layer, and the standard checks for those who the Naor test finds positive is the fourth. “Living alongside COVID-19 is an enormous challenge for all the population," Technion president Prof. Uri Sivan said, expressing his hope that the means invented by Technion researchers will be used across the country.
Israel Expects to Start Vaccinating Children by March, Virus Chief Says
Israel may include children over the age of 12 in groups receiving COVID-19 vaccines within the next two months if research shows this is safe, a top health official said on Tuesday.

Vaccinating at a world-record pace, Israel says it aims to have administered one or both shots to 5 million of its 9 million citizens, and reopen the economy, by mid-March.

Elderly Israelis and adults with medical conditions or jobs in critical high-risk sectors have been given priority. But with Israeli officials anticipating more regular vaccine shipments, the eligibility categories have been expanded.

Nachman Ash, national coordinator on the pandemic, predicted that pharmacological research would establish that the minimum age threshold for the vaccines could be safely lowered from 16 to 12, and FDA approval for such use secured, by March.

“The fact that children under the age of 16 are not currently getting vaccinated is certainly troubling, in terms of the ability to achieve herd immunity,” he told 103 FM radio.

“I reckon that, in another month or two, there will be another cohort — the aged-12 and higher — that we can vaccinate.”
Record high of nearly 10,000 daily cases as total infections surge past 500,000
Health Ministry data released on Tuesday morning showed a record high number of new infections confirmed a day earlier, with nearly 10,000 people diagnosed with the coronavirus.

There were 9,589 cases of the virus found on Monday, taking the total number since the start of the pandemic past the half-million mark, with 504,269 diagnosed.

There were 74,639 active cases with 1,027 people in serious condition, including 247 on ventilators.

The death toll stood at 3,704.

There were 126,584 tests carried out on Monday, with 7.6 percent returning a positive result.

Meanwhile, as the British strain of the coronavirus continued to spread — with some estimates saying it was responsible for around 2,000 cases in Israel per day — the Health Ministry was reportedly considering reducing the amount of contact time needed with a confirmed carrier to send an individual into isolation.

In light of the highly contagious variant that originated in the United Kingdom, Israeli health officials were considering requiring isolation for anyone who spent five or 10 minutes with a confirmed carrier, instead of the current 15 minutes, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

The Sheba Medical Center has already independently ruled that five minutes of contact with a carrier would require self-isolation.
Haaretz Corrects Israel Didn’t Refuse Request To Supply Vaccines for Palestinian Health Workers
Separately, regarding the well-documented vaccination of Palestinians in east Jerusalem, Torrens equivocated: “Israel has reportedly given Palestinians in east Jerusalem access to the vaccine. . . .” The qualifying term “reportedly” falsely suggests that the considerable effort to vaccinate east Jerusalem Palestinians cannot be confirmed. Haaretz‘s own Nir Hasson detailed that Israeli HMOs Clalit, Leumit and Meuhedet are all offering the vaccine to east Jerusalem’s Palestinians.

Similarly, in the aforementioned BBC interview, WHO’s Rockenschaub made clear: “The only Palestinians that were vaccinated so far are those living with Jerusalem IDs in East Jerusalem and who have access to Israeli health system.””

Haaretz would presumably not run an Op-Ed stating that President Trump “reportedly lost the U.S. elections” as this language would cast doubt on this basic factual reality, fueling misinformation. The qualification of the well-established reality that Jerusalem’s Arabs are free to be vaccinated likewise has no place, including in an Op-Ed.

To their credit, editors agreed, and removed the inappropriate qualification, “reportedly.”

Beyond these two narrow points, Torrens’ underlying, false premise is that Israel’s failure to uphold its supposed obligation “under international law and international human rights law” to provide West Bank and Gaza Palestinians with the covid vaccine exhibits “a complete disregard for the humanity and lives of Palestinians.” As CAMERA has previously documented, it is the bilateral Oslo Accords which govern Israeli-Palestinian relations, and Article 17 of the Interim Accords obligates the Palestinian authorities to vaccinate their citizens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli air purifiers fight Covid in 400 UK, Irish buses
Four hundred touring coaches, repurposed to transport essential workers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, have been outfitted with air filtration and disinfection devices from Israeli startup Aura Air.

The device has a pre-filter to catch large particles of dust, pollen, insects and animal hair. A patented three-layer HEPA filter catches particles as small as 0.3 microns, absorbs volatile organic compounds and bad odors, and neutralizes viruses, bacteria, fungi and mold.

It also includes an ultraviolet LED-based component, the Sterionizer, which generates positive and negative ions to purify and freshen air.

The system’s sensors and algorithms constantly monitor and analyze particles in the air as well as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide. Passengers can view results via an app, and alerts are sent to the driver if any levels go above a certain threshold indicating a possible hazard.

In pilots of the technology at a hotel and other locations in the United States, and at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, Aura Air neutralized various viruses, including the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, at a rate of 99.9%.
Globe and Mail Gives Platform to Anti-Israel COVID Vaccine Smear
The above passage gives a platform to what is regarded by the Jewish community as an antisemitic dog whistle and blood libel. In the time of the Black Plague, Jews were also accused of the antisemitic trope of failing to stop the disease’s spread or of withholding the vaccine. There’s no foundation to this modern reincarnation of this medieval libel concocted by Israel’s detractors.

On January 4, respected Globe and Mail columnist André Picard repeated the canard that Israel hasn’t vaccinated Palestinians, which he referred to as a “human rights issue”. In response to our criticism, Mr. Picard commendably retweeted our critique to his 120,000 followers.

With respect to Mr. Mackinnon’s article, there are many problems with this report and they are as follows:

1) a) The Palestinian Authority is responsible for the health care of all Palestinians in the “West Bank” by virtue of the Oslo Accords (Article 17) and administered by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. This is an undisputed fact, and yet, Mr. Mackinnon is merely presenting this as a mere claim by attributing this to: “Israel says health care in the Palestinian territories is a responsibility of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority.”

b) The Palestinian Ministry of Health has refused to coordinate purchasing and distribution of the vaccine with Israel, saying that “We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.” The PA instead is procuring 4 million doses of the vaccine from Russia. In a a Globe op-ed on January 7, Neri Zilber acknowledges that: “(not including the five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza whose local authorities are so far striking an independent path to vaccine procurement).“

c) Israel has distributed, per the PA’s request, dozens of vaccine doses to the PA for “humanitarian cases”.

d) Despite being at an official state of war with the Hamas terror group, Israel regularly facilitates access for tens of thousands of Palestinian Gazans to be treated in Israeli hospitals. Last year in fact, Israeli doctors held a COVID-19 training course for 20 medical workers from the Gaza Strip. Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, praised these coordination efforts as “excellent.” None of this context was mentioned.
BBC News Channel promotes political campaign on Corona vaccines
Notably, McVeigh made no effort to inform viewers that the “criticism” she unquestioningly amplified comes from a group of political NGOs, many of which have a record of lawfare campaigns against Israel.

Rockenschaub: “Well so far nobody has received the vaccination neither in the West Bank nor in the Gaza strip. The only Palestinians that were vaccinated so far are those living with Jerusalem IDs in East Jerusalem and who have access to Israeli health system.”

McVeigh: “So what are Israeli officials saying about this criticism then?”

Rockenschaub: “Well what we’re trying is to work with the Palestinian authority and with the Ministry of Health there to mobilise vaccines through the COVAX facility and we’re making good progress in doing all the papers [unintelligible]. The problem is that while Israel is progressing and has already vaccinated a substantial part of its population, the COVAX vaccines are not yet available and are anticipated to be available in February or March.”

Rather than asking her interviewee to explain the COVAX programme to viewers, McVeigh simply repeated her previous question:

McVeigh: “OK but if it’s been doing really well vaccinating…uh…its citizens, what is it saying about the lack of vaccinations for people in the West Bank and Gaza? Why is it saying…ah…that has happened – or not happened?”

Rockenschaub: “I think there are also some shortages that the Israelis are facing at the moment. We had some informal discussion asking whether at least some quantities could be relocated to vaccinate the health workers in the Palestinian territories. We’re having discussions at the moment but no final results yet.”

As previously clarified on these pages, the Israeli Ministry of Health has not yet received a formal request from the WHO on that issue.

As we see, McVeigh gave amplification to a political campaign without revealing its source to BBC audiences and viewers were not informed that (as the BBC well knows) under the terms of the 1995 Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority took on responsibility for the healthcare of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and it is hence the PA health ministry which is responsible for vaccinating Palestinians.

Two and a half weeks after the initial launch of that political campaign by a group of political NGOs and its amplification by Western media outlets including the BBC (see ‘related articles’ below), the Palestinian Authority – which initially denied having requested Israel’s help in procuring vaccines – has reportedly now jumped on that bandwagon. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that the BBC will continue to exploit the topic of Israel’s successful vaccination programme in order to advance a partisan political agenda.

UN Accuses Israel of Committing Genocide Against Coronavirus (Satire)
With Israel leading the world in coronavirus vaccination rates, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution condemning Israel for its ongoing genocide against COVID-19 virions.

“The illegal apartheid state of ‘Israel’ is once again committing crimes against humanity, ethnically cleansing innocent coronavirus particles from their homes in the human body,” the resolution states. “We call on the occupation regime to end its ‘vaccination’ program immediately and to allow these virions to move without restriction across the population.”

The resolution comes after Israel inoculated 20% of its population in less than a month, with the Middle Eastern nation now seen as a model for the world.

While the largely symbolic condemnation easily passed in the General Assembly, it has little chance of advancing in the UN Security Council, where Israel’s allies including the US and UK have veto power. Some American political figures, however, are calling for a direct intervention to save Israel’s coronavirus from extinction.
Andrew Klavan: Defend Cancer Against the Jews!

Whose Human Rights? BDS Is Antisemitic and Harms Palestinians
By using terms like racist and apartheid in its attacks, BDS demonizes Israel. Apartheid was the official policy of the South African government. In our time, “apartheid” has come to be linked with the dark times of that oppression. To appropriate that language dishonors those South Africans who suffered and fought and died under the laws of an official governmental system. Israel is neither a racist nor an apartheid state.

As mentioned above, none of the following, just a few among many such examples, could exist in a racist, apartheid state:
- 35-50% of the Technion medical school enrollment is Arab; an Arab woman was 2013 valedictorian.
- Numerous Arab parties hold Knesset seats.
- Dr. Ahmad Tibi was Deputy Speaker the Knesset.
- A Palestinian Justice, Hon. George Karra, sits on the Supreme Court.
- Jamal Hakroosh is Major-General in the Israeli police.
- Arabs, who are not required to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, volunteer in growing numbers.
- Arabs can serve as high-ranking IDF officers.
- T. Raleb Majade was Minister of Science, Culture and Sport.
- Majalli Wahabi was acting President.
- Arab-Israeli Rana Raslan was Miss Israel.
- Dr. Samer Haj Yehia is Chairman of Bank Leumi.
- All of the two million Arab Israeli citizens have access to public education, university education (Omar Barghouti himself attended the University of Tel Aviv), government (and any other) jobs, in addition to the right to own property and all other rights.

This is not what apartheid looks like.

WaterGen, an Israeli company that can extract and purify atmospheric water, opened a project in Gaza, releasing this statement:

[E]very human being … has a fundamental right to clean drinking water, we are helping some of Israel’s next-door neighbors gain access to fresh water. We hope that our provision … will help solve the water crisis … as a step forward towards mutual collaboration.

This is not what racism looks like. This is what opportunity looks like. BDS is occupied foremost by its own Jew-hatred, a racism that, unfortunately, long pre-dates 1967 and 1948.

The Middle East is not America. As peace does grow, to help in that progressive reality, I urge you to be persuaded — not by inflammatory rhetoric — but by the facts of what the State of Israel is.

How to fight Pro-BDS Academics more effectively
Those familiar with the poor level of some publications by contemporary academics will understand that there is a reasonable chance that this method will reveal a number of scientifically cheating pro-BDS academics. If this concerns a doctoral thesis, the university where it was obtained should be apprised and asked to further investigate whether the doctorate should be revoked. The university where the academic currently teaches should also be informed. Depending on developments that academic’s teaching appointment could be cancelled.

Maximum publicity should be given at the university where the person is employed and his students should be informed. In addition, efforts should be made to make it known to professional associations the academic in question belongs to. Even without canceling of one’s thesis, exposing many academic shortcomings causes shame for the person concerned.

An approach like this is likely to have multiplier effects. Probably most of those who have signed on to the anti-Israel BDS declaration are not hard-core leftists. They are more likely to be in a category, which is best described as 'free-lunchers.' Due to the weakness of the Israeli anti-propaganda activity, they know that they do not risk anything by supporting BDS. Doing so may even improve their standing among some of their colleagues. Once there is a potential price to be paid, it is likely that mainly extreme anti-Israelis will remain as public supporters of BDS at universities and the not so hard-core will be less inclined to take the risk.

Signing a pro-BDS of Israel declaration without being involved in any other similar declarations against other countries is an antisemitic act according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

There is another important aspect of the approach above described: it is low cost. This enables the investigators to simultaneously target teachers at a number of universities. Most academics are cowards, like the majority of those in many other professions. Why would they sign on to anti-Israel BDS declarations if the free lunch is no longer assured, but instead brings risks with it?
Jewish activists yell out Holocaust denial tweets at home of Twitter CEO
The grassroots Jewish civil rights movement "End Jew Hatred" blasted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s California home on Monday with audio recordings of Holocaust-denying Tweets which currently live on the tech billionaire’s platform.

This protest comes amid the controversy of Trump's ban from major social media such as Twitter among others. End Jew Hatred blames Twitter's CEO for his inaction when users on his platform spread harmful lies about the systematic murder of 6 million Jews.

“Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has banned so-called ‘COVID-denial’ on Twitter,” an End Jew Hatred activist involved said. “So why does Jack Dorsey continue to give Holocaust deniers and Jew-haters a bigger platform today than Hitler had in his time?”

“Dorsey has banned the voices of political leaders he deems hateful. Yet he leaves on neo-Nazi material," said Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project and End Jew Hatred founder and activist, raising the following points:
"What kind of message does that send?
That he endorses Jew-hatred?
That Jew-hatred is socially acceptable?"

"If denying COVID and its 1.6 million victims is wrong – then denying the Holocaust and its 6 million victims is wrong,” added Goldstein. “Jack Dorsey: it’s time for you to end Holocaust denial and end Jew-hatred on Twitter.”

Jewish Comedian Sarah Silverman Explains Why She’s ‘Not Against BDS,’ Accuses Israel of Occupation in New Podcast Episode
Jewish comedian and actress Sarah Silverman supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as long as it protests Israel’s government and its “occupation,” and not the country’s citizens, she said Thursday.

During the Jan. 7 episode of “The Sarah Silverman Podcast,” the show’s host, 50, told her listeners, “I’m fine with BDS, as long as it’s clear that you are boycotting a government and not a people. When that line gets muddy, that’s when it’s a little scary as a Jew.”

Silverman, who lists her Twitter location as the “state of Palestine,” then citied the boycott movement against the South African apartheid in the 1980s, saying, “I think divesting from South Africa made a real difference in ending apartheid. I’m not against BDS. I’m against ‘Jews are pro-occupation.’ It’s absurd. Not all Jews are for the occupation.”

She noted that there are “myriad” Jewish-led organizations that “fight the occupation everyday” and said, “I hope for a peaceful end to [the] occupation. Unfortunately, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, also have to want an end to the occupation … It ain’t just Israel that benefits from the occupation in various ways. And that seems to be a well kept secret.”

On Saturday, Silverman shared on Instagram a short clip of her talking about Israel and the BDS movement from the Jan. 7 podcast episode. In the episode she also said “I agree 100 percent that criticizing Israel is not antisemitism” and claimed that “people like their Jews suffering.”

“When Jews aren’t suffering, when God forbid they’re thriving, people don’t like that,” she explained. “It’s why we’re so conditioned to complain. It’s how we know how to get love. I mean I am talking out of my ass, but it seems like something’s there.”
Terror U: Who is Suppressing Academic Freedom in Palestinian Universities?
In January of 2019, the Academic Freedom Committee of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) wrote a letter to Benyamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, and several other ministers and officials. In that condemnatory letter, MESA, an organization that has been obsessively and chronically anti-Israel, chastened Israel, with the purpose of the complaint “. . . to urge a halt to the Israeli army and security forces conducting arbitrary arrests at and incursions into Palestinian universities, assaulting students, faculty, and staff and obstructing the education of thousands of students.”

Of specific concern to MESA was the 2018 arrest of Yehya Rabie, the President of Birzeit University’s Student Council by the IDF and a similar arrest of Omar al-Kiswani, the previous President of Birzeit University’s Student Council. “While the Israeli army accused Rabie and al-Kiswani of ‘suspected involvement in terror activity,’” the letter flippantly stated, “both men remain in detention without trial. These arbitrary arrests and detentions without trial are not the exception but the rule” and such arrests, it was claimed, “follow a pattern of Israeli forces’ aggression on Palestinian campuses.”

For an organization of coddled, safely-ensconced professors in American universities it is easy, of course, to castigate Israel for its behavior in insuring the safety of its citizenry, particularly since in discussing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, MESA has reliably expected no rational or reasonable behavior from the perennially-oppressed Palestinians and has singularly blamed Israel for its alleged brute treatment of the Palestinians, including these specific arrests which, it contended, “follow a pattern of Israeli forces’ aggression on Palestinian campuses,” and the “attacks, assaults, and detentions described above are grave violations of basic rights to education and academic freedom.”

As Israel-haters in the West and elsewhere are prone to do, MESA exonerates the Palestinians for any complicity in creating campus climates far from the idyllic picture one normally has when thinking about institutions of higher education. In fact, as Cary Nelson fastidiously examines in his new book, Not in Kansas Anymore: Academic Freedom in Palestinian Universities, despite the jaundiced view of MESA and other of Israel’s critics, Palestinian higher education is defined by radical politics, rival political factions who use harassment, violence, and intimidation to promote their views, alignment with terror groups such as Hamas, repression of opposing views, the use of terror cells within university facilities for weapon production, and violence against and even the murder of dissenting faculty who do not conform to the prevailing hatred of the Jewish state or the tenets of Islam.

Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) between 2006 and 2012 and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is not a right-wing, strident defender of Israel, but something of an academic freedom purist; even so, his examination of the state of Palestinian universities reveals that, despite MESA’s contention, it is the Palestinians themselves who shoulder much of the responsibility for the fragile state of academic freedom and free speech at their universities.
Why is a British children's newspaper promoting an anti-Israel activist
First News, a children’s newspaper read by more than two and a half million impressionable, school-age kids each week, published the following article in their November, 2020 edition – an Amnesty International profile of Janna Jihad.

The girl known as Janna Jihad (aka, Janna Tamimi) is a (now 15 year-old) US-born Palestinian activist who lives in the town of Nabi Saleh. Jihad is a cousin of Sbarro Massacre mastermind Ahlam Tamimi, the niece of terror supporter Bassem Tamimi, and, as Petra Marquardt-Bigman has written, has become the innocent face of the Tamimi clan’s campaign of incitement and antisemitism.

Due to her fluent English, Jihad has been brought on US speaking tours organized by anti-Israel groups, including the extremist group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and appeared with Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN after he gave a speech at the UN justifying terrorism and effectively calling for the end of the Jewish state.

Though she claims to be a “journalist”, Jihad’s social media accounts are replete with crude anti-Israel propaganda and even antisemitism.

During a media appearance in 2020, she accused Israel of routinely shooting Palestinians for no reason, and, in fact, raiding Palestinian villages and murdering children. During that same interview, she made the claim – echoing comments in the second paragraph of First News article we posted above – that IDF forces shoot tear gas at her and her friends whenever they play football.

Restaurants in Portland vandalized with 'free Palestine' graffiti
Several Israeli-affiliated restaurants were vandalized with "free Palestine" graffiti over the weekend in Portland, Oregon, local media reported.

The Portland Police Bureau is reportedly investigating three separate incidents of such restaurants being vandalized at around the same time. These include a vegan hummus restaurant from Israeli chef Tal Caspi called Aviv and two branches of Shalom Y'all, a restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean food, including shawarma and falafel.

Some of the graffiti spray-painted on a Shalom Y'all restaurant read: "Hummus not Israeli", "Falafel is from Palestine" and "murder", According to photos posted on social media. Kasey Mills, Jamal Hassan and Laura Amans, the restaurant's owners, described the assaults as antisemitic.

“We are committed to operating inclusive spaces, and do not tolerate messages of hate or racism in any form,” the owners wrote in their statement. “We are so thankful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community over the last 24 hours.”

Ironically, neither of the restaurants vandalized considers itself exclusively Israeli, with a daytime manager at Aviv telling local media that most employees are not even Israeli. Moreover, the restaurant had recently removed the word "Israeli" from its signs, trying to distance itself from any political issue.

NYPD Officer Suspended Over Racist, Antisemitic Posts Retires to Avoid Suspension
An NYPD officer whose job was to oversee workplace discrimination complaints filed for retirement on Monday — one day after receiving a 30-day suspension for allegedly posting dozens of racist, antisemitic and bigoted messages to an online chat board.

Deputy Inspector James Kobel was relieved of his command in early November after he was accused of penning attacks on Black and Jewish people, women, members of the LGBTQ community and others for more than a year, using the pseudonym “Clouseau,” a reference to the bumbling French detective in the “Pink Panther” films.

The posts — made on a website where police officers can go to express their frustrations anonymously — routinely traded in toxic stereotypes of minority groups.

In one post, “Clouseau” said of the Orthodox Jewish community: “I think that eventually all of the inbreeding may lead to the demise of these clowns. The severity of birth defects will only increase.”

The rant continued: “Unfortunately, the local taxpayer is going to be on the hook for the bill when the children need special programs in the local school districts and the parents continue to leach [sic] off the system.”

In other messages, “Clouseau” referred to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark as a “gap-tooth wildebeest,” ridiculed Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for having Tourette’s syndrome, and called former President Barack Obama a “Muslim savage” and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s son, Dante, a “brillohead.” All of these individuals are Black.

The allegations against Kobel were detailed in a report that a City Council oversight panel will make public. Investigators linked the messages to Kobel by matching information in the “Clouseau” posts to publicly available details about Kobel’s life and career.
“A grotesque escalation”: Jewish homes in Stamford Hill daubed with crosses of blood
Several Jewish homes in the heavily-Jewish neighbourhood of Stamford Hill have been daubed with crosses apparently painted in blood.

The incident took place at around 02:00 on 10th January on Portland Avenue, and was reported by Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol.

The police are investigating.

If you have any more information, please contact the police on 101 or Stamford Hill Shomrim on 0300 999 0123, quoting reference number: CAD5149 10/01/21.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “This vandalism is grotesque and marks yet another escalation in the incidence of antisemitism in Stamford Hill. It is particularly concerning in view of the global rise of far-right antisemitism. We applaud the Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol, for their continued vigilance, and urge the police to do everything possible to find the perpetrators of his hideous crime.”

French Government spokesperson receives letter filled with antisemitic threats
Gabriel Attal, a French politician of the La Républice En Marche! (LREM) Party, received a letter on 8th January that contained antisemitic and homophobic threats against him.

On the envelope, the individual responsible had drawn a yellow and a pink Star of David in a direct reference to the identification system used by the Nazi regime. The letter read: “We’ll kill you…We’ll burn the trash…Bravo Attal = 2 Stars = Yellow and Pink!”

Mr Attal, who currently serves as Government spokesperson under President Emmanuel Macron, shared the hateful content on his social media page and stated that the letter acts as further evidence for what seems to be a significant problem within the country. He argued that the “fight must be permanent” to overcome and prevent racism, antisemitism and homophobia.

Mr Attal announced further that he has filed a complaint into the incident.
Israelis’ gene therapy prevents mice hearing loss, a step toward human treatment
Tel Aviv researchers say studies of mice have advanced the possibility of using gene therapy to fix hearing loss, by counteracting the effect of a rare genetic condition found in Iraqi Jews.

Thousands of tiny mutations in human genes can seriously harm or eliminate the ability to hear. One such mutation in the SYNE4 gene, which harms the hair cells inside the cochlea of the inner ear, which are important for hearing.

Prof. Karen Avraham, vice dean of Tel Aviv University’s medical school, recently published a study showing that gene therapy in mice with the mutation “rescued” their hearing, building on earlier research and raising hopes of using the same methods on other mutations that affect hearing.

“After giving special gene therapy to newborn mice who were expected to be deaf because they had the SYNE4 mutation, they had perfect hearing at three weeks, which is when mice start hearing,” said Avraham. “We monitored the mice until 24 weeks, showing that we had actually averted the damage.”

In 2013, Avraham was part of a research team that first identified the SYNE4 mutation as a cause for hearing loss. The mutation has been identified in a small number of parents, all of whom have full hearing. When two carriers have a child together, the child has a 25 percent chance of high-frequency hearing loss, which is defined as a form of deafness.
Blind man regains sight thanks to Israeli startup's synthetic cornea
A 78-year-old man who has been blind in both eyes for 10 years has regained his sight after receiving the first implant of an artificial cornea developed by Israeli startup CorNeat, the company announced Monday.

The CorNeat KPro implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred or opacified corneas, and it integrates with the eye wall with no reliance on donor tissue.

Professor Irit Bahar, head of the Ophthalmology Department at Rabin Medical Center (formerly Beilinson Hospital) in Petah Tikva, performed the procedure.

Once the bandages were removed, the patient was able to recognize family members and read text.

"The surgical procedure was straightforward and the result exceeded all of our expectations. The moment we took off the bandages was emotional and significant. Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors. We are proud of being at the forefront of this exciting and meaningful project which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions," Bahar said.

CorNeat KPro inventor and company co-founder Dr. Gilad Litvin said, "Unveiling this first implanted eye and being in that room, in that moment, was surreal."

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