Wednesday, January 13, 2021

From Ian:

Sheldon Adelson has a special place in the golden book of Zionism and the Jewish people
Montefiore, Rothschild, and Adelson's names are written in the golden book of the rise of Zionism in the new era. And I had a privilege of knowing Adelson. And so did you: Each and every one of the readers of Israel Hayom, which he founded 13 years ago with his life partner, Dr. Miriam Adelson, the paper's publisher.

I first met him in 2008. A month ago, at his home in Las Vegas, we had what turned out to be our last discussion. In both instances he was sharp, wise, precise, but mostly concerned about our future. Even when his health started to betray him, it was important to him to stay updated and know what was happening in Israel and to the Jewish people who were so dear to his heart. Our first conversation focused on the country, and so did the last. Everything else was everything else – add-ons that served the goal.

People liked to affiliate my dear boss with various and sundry politicians, but his real, deep, emotional connection was to Zionism. He admired every Jew who contributed to the holy mission. I was always amazed at how modest the man was. He could wonder at a kid who arrived in Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright program and wanted to tell him a story; be moved by a conversation with a Holocaust survivor at Yad Vashem, one of the institutions to which he donated. A rabbi, a farmer, a doctor, or a bus driver – he would treat them all exactly the same way, listen to them the same way, pay attention to the little details. And it always amazed me, every time. Simplicity and honesty, qualities that are given to the truly great.

A huge donor who was an expert at giving in secret
Let's not make any mistakes, he also knew how to be tough. His philanthropic activity, some of which I saw from up close, was no less important to him than his business activity. Sometimes I felt as if the genius businessman in him was destined to serve the great donor he was. At various opportunities, when he was in various moods, I looked at him and saw he was focused only on excellence and helping others. Only recently, his private plane flew Jonathan Pollard to Israel. A few other such flights were never reported. Because aside from the billions he gave away, he was also an expert at donating in secret.

December, 2015, Las Vegas, at one of the drug rehabilitation centers managed by Dr. Miriam Adelson. It was the eve of a holiday. The Adelsons were wearing their best clothes and arrived for a meal with the center's patients, about 100 men and women, all of whom were in recovery from drug addiction. These were poor people who needed help. Mr. Adelson sat at the head of the table, talking to them, shaking their hands, taking pictures with each of them, taking an interest, joking, hugging.

I was there, and that same evening, some very high-ranking politicians came to see him. The US had just gone into an election year. One of Mr. Adelson's staff members went up to him and reminded him that a few of his grandchildren were waiting outside, and he told her, smiling, "You don't see that I'm with my friends right now?" That might be the strongest memory I have of him, and it includes so much of the man, as he truly was.
President Reuven Rivlin: Sheldon's contributions to Israel and the Jewish people cannot be overstated
Aside from his global businesses, in the last few decades Sheldon used his abilities to influence public life. It would be hard to count the many and varied philanthropic initiatives to which Sheldon contributed his wealth, most of which deepen the ties between the Jewish people to their land and legacy.

Sheldon fostered links between Diaspora Jewry and the state of Israel by giving to Yad Vashem, Taglit-Birthright, Garin Tzabar - Israeli Lone Soldier IDF Program, and medical and academic projects. The Innovation Center at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the Adelson School of Medicine at Ariel University, where we met last Hanukkah, were an investment in Israeli research, medicine, and development. The importance of founding such an institution at this time cannot be overstated. Generations of doctors and other medical workers will thank him for the initiatives, and we will all benefit from the fruits of the investment and the belief that beat in Adelson when he was determined to launch an excellent new faculty of medicine that opened its doors to all Israelis and everyone who wants to learn.

In places where there were no men, Sheldon "strove to be a man," to invest his wealth and time, to be there, to help and offer support.

More than anything, Sheldon believed in the strategic alliance between Israel and the US, and saw deepening the ties between the two countries as the surest investment in the future of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

I extend my condolences to Miriam, the love of his life, and his partner on the path of contributing to building up the nation and the land, as well as to the entire family.

May his memory be a blessing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: An enormous patriot, a huge donor, and a man of keen intelligence
It is difficult to describe what Sheldon did for the Jewish people and for Israel. Sheldon was one of the biggest donors in the history of the Jewish people. He gave to Zionism, to the settlements, and to the state of Israel. He made enormous financial contributions to many institutions – to medical and scientific research, to higher education, to Ariel University, to Taglit-Birthright, and to his immense projects in every field. With his wife, Miri, he gave generously to many enterprises that save lives and brought Israel renown throughout the world. Sheldon was a huge Jewish patriot. He worked to strengthen Israel, bolster its standing in the United States, and strengthen ties between the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora.

Sheldon grew up poor, in a Boston suburb, and become one of the biggest entrepreneurs and philanthropists in the world. He did so through his keen intelligence, his honest thinking, his powerful personality, and his courage. Sheldon could face down anything and did what he believed. And what he believed in, more than anything else, was the promise of the Jewish people and their state.

Sheldon truly loved America – America, which gave him every opportunity he could dream of. He wanted everyone in the world to have those opportunities and that freedom.

I have to say that I've met many wonderful people in my life. But this giant, a personality like Sheldon, comes along once in a generation. We will forever remember Sheldon and his enormous contribution to the Jewish people and the state of Israel. His influence will remain with us for generations to come.

May his memory be a blessing.

Avner Shalev is the chairman of Yad Vashem: Remembering the man who fought anti-Semitism relentlessly
Sheldon was also incredibly kind. It might have seemed from the outside that he was a tough person, when in fact he was soft, caring, and incredibly loving.

For many years Sheldon and I met every time he visited Israel, always on a Friday, always at the same café, and later at home, we would talk for hours on end.

I listened to him with great attention, and I was especially touched by his love for Israel and the Jewish people. From this love stems his connection to Yad Vashem.

He was aware of the inherent dangers anti-Semitism poses to the Jewish people and the entire world. He understood the importance of remembering the Holocaust and recognized how valuable education is in achieving that.

Although he did not personally experience the horrors of the Holocaust, he understood the damage that had been inflicted on the Jewish people, and therefore greatly contributed to the creation of an international system of Holocaust education.

With Sheldon's support, and with the support of his dear wife Miri, we built a pioneering worldwide system of professional teachers who possess the knowledge, values, and understanding of the need to teach and study about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

Sheldon made a unique distribution to the Jewish people and Holocaust commemoration. We are eternally grateful, and we will miss him greatly.
Editor-in-Chief of Israel Hayom on Death of Sheldon Adelson

The Durban Conference: A Hateful Anti-Israel Legacy
The Government Conference
The official government conference started on August 31. Like the preceding days, witnesses described how antisemitic literature decrying “Nazi-Israeli Apartheid” was distributed daily at the Durban International Convention Centre. Meanwhile, security guards confiscated t-shirts reading “Fight racism, not Jews,” while individuals wearing T-shirts accusing Israel of atrocities were allowed inside.

In the drafting committees for the official government declaration, a dialogue ensued on the need for references to antisemitism and the Holocaust. Syria, which referred to antisemitism as a “curious and bizarre concept,” objected, while Iran complained that this would constitute “imbalance and favoritism.” References to Jew-hatred were also unacceptable to states like Egypt, Cuba, China, Sudan, Iraq, Chile, and Jamaica.

Simultaneously, it became clear that the official declaration would also include harsh language attacking Israel – and only Israel. When efforts to reach a compromise failed, both the United States and Israel recalled their delegations on September 3. The conference voted to add additional anti-Israel paragraphs in the remaining days. All references to the Holocaust were deleted from the program of action.

Human rights lawyer Anne Bayefsky would note a year later that, “Durban gave us antisemitism in the name of fighting racism. Exclusion and isolation of the Jewish State in the name of multilateralism. Durban provides a platform for hate and violence, which ought to be deactivated down before it corrupts the entire anti-racism agenda of the United Nations.”

The ‘Durban Strategy’
Attempts by the United Nations to follow up on the first Durban conference have overwhelmingly failed. The most significant Western countries boycotted the 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, fearing a repeat of the 2001 debacle. Other countries sent low-level delegations to the event, which started with a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In his official remarks, he referred to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question.” Durban III, held on the 10th anniversary of the controversial summit, was similarly boycotted.

Many expect this year’s Durban IV conference to fail as well. The Durban strategy, however, has seemingly proven far more successful.

Using the language of anti-racism and human rights, NGOs routinely spread libels about Israel. As founder and director of NGO Monitor Gerald Steinberg and author Naftali Balanson put it: “This Durban strategy, led by NGOs, is behind the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts, which its proponents justify using the rhetoric of human rights, to demonize and delegitimize Israel.”

This is the hateful legacy of Durban I. When confronted with elements of the BDS campaign, it is important not to forget the antisemitic conference from which they in part originated.

Douglas Murray: The questions no one wants to ask about the Reading terror attack
There is an awful lot going on at the moment. So much, indeed, that stories that might once have detained us now rush past unobserved and all but un-commented upon. One such story is the conviction and sentencing of Khairi Saadallah for the murders of James Furlong, David Wails and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett on 20 June last year.

Some readers may recall that I wrote about that attack here at the time. The UK had just been through its first lockdown, so it was understandable if people were somewhat preoccupied. Yet still it seemed significant that three men, all identified by the UK media as ‘members of the LGBTQ community’, should have been stabbed to death while enjoying the sun in a park in Reading one un-locked down evening.

It seemed even more significant that the attacker should have been identified as a migrant from Libya who had been on the radar of the security services. And still more so that the attacker was reported to have been shouting something while carrying out his lethal attack. In general, when the media says that an assailant might have been shouting something but don’t tell you what it is, you can take a wild guess.

Sure enough, at the trial it transpired that the words Saadallah had been shouting were not ‘unintelligible’ as was reported at any early stage, but were the words ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘Allah is greatest’. During the attack, Saadallah also shouted in Arabic ‘Allah accept my Jihad’, which it’s true might baffle your average passer-by. But the rest of the details of the attack that came out in the trial weren’t baffling at all.

During his time in Libya, Saadallah had been involved in military training and in fighting, which is perhaps how he was able to dispatch his victims so efficiently on a warm summer night on another continent.
French Police Detain 7 People With Links To Refugee Who Beheaded Schoolteacher
French anti-terrorism police detained seven people suspected to have had links to the Chechen refugee who beheaded a schoolteacher in October, the Associated Press reported.

The seven individuals that were detained were suspected contacts of Abdoullakh Anzorov, the 18-year-old who decapitated schoolteacher Samuel Paty after Paty had reportedly showed students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were published by the satirize magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015, according to the AP.

Anzorov was shot dead by police. He had reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in a text found on his phone, where there was also a picture of Paty, according to the AP.

The suspects were detained Tuesday in cities including near the Paris region, Lyon, and Toulouse. A total of 14 people are being investigated in connection to the killing.

Paty had shown the students the caricatures as part of a lesson on freedom of speech. Anzorov allegedly said he wanted to punish Paty for showing students the cartoons, according to Reuters. Days after the killing, French police raided the homes of suspected Islamic radicals and interviewed nearly 80 people, many of which police believed posted messages supportive of Anzorov.

Dozens of French Muslim organization were also investigated following the killing. Before the killing, Macron announced a law that would combat “radical Islamism” in the country by cracking down on foreign financing of mosques and private religious schools.
Labour deputy chair of Newham Council suspended over post relocating Israel
Labour’s deputy chair of Newham Council has been suspended over a series of social media posts, including one suggesting Israel should be relocated to the United States.

It has emerged that councillor Nazir Ahmed shared an image in December 2017, which places Israel in the centre of the United States.

The graphic is the identical image Labour MP Naz Shah shared in 2016, leading to her apology and suspension from the party.

He said on his profile it is an: “easy solution for Israel Palestine conflict!”

In another Facebook post from 2014, he shared a video which asked whether “Israel have USA in the pocket..”, while another two posts from 2017 reference false claims that Israel is trying to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – Islam’s third holiest site.

In January 2017 he shared a video about neturei karta, a sect of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews saying “not all Jewish [sic] are the same. There are some very good Jewish”.

A Labour spokesperson said the “party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
Progressive Jewish groups oppose codification of IHRA antisemitism definition
A group of left-wing organizations have publicly opposed the codification into law of the Working Definition of Antisemitism authored by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), saying that doing so would stifle free speech and criticism of Israel.

The Progressive Israel Network which issued the statement include Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and T’ruah. The organizations said they were committed to fighting antisemitism but that legal adoption of the IHRA definition could suppress the free expression of political opinion, including critiquing “the legitimacy of Israel’s founding” and its laws and government, discussion of which, it said, should not be “banished by anti-democratic laws or penalties.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response that the IHRA definition of antisemitism is an important tool for fighting hatred of Jews around the world, and lamented the opposition of the left-wing Jewish groups to its legal adoption.

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by 28 countries as well as the European Union and the Secretary General of the UN, and the organization itself has 34 member countries.

Arsen Ostrovsky: Hold Twitter To Account
In July 2020, at a Knesset session with social media companies on the issue of online anti-Semitism, I questioned a Twitter representative on why it was flagging President Donald Trump's tweets (at the time, mostly regarding COVID-19 and George Floyd's death), but leaving unchecked Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's actual calls for genocide against Israel.

The Twitter rep's response was as jarring as it was obscene, claiming Khamenei's tweets fell within Twitter guidelines because they were mere "foreign policy saber-rattling" and thus acceptable "commentary on political issues of the day."

In other words, calling for genocide and my death—and the deaths of nine million other Israelis—is okay according to Twitter and Jack Dorsey.

President Trump's recent indefinite ban from Twitter has only underscored the gross double standards and arbitrariness in the company's enforcement of its own terms and policies.

On the facts of the case alone, Twitter was well within its merits to revoke access to President Trump on the basis of his inflammatory rhetoric at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, and with a justified concern that he would continue obstructing an orderly and peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

Nonetheless, this still raises an obvious question: How is it that Twitter can ban President Trump yet continue to turn a blind eye to the world's worst terrorists, dictators and tyrants?

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei, who continues to call for the genocide of Israel, incite violence against Americans and deny the Holocaust, still has an account.
BBC Northern Ireland responds to CAMERA UK complaint on vaccinations item
CAMERA UK wrote back asking when that on-air clarification would be broadcast and suggesting that the programme’s webpage be updated to include that clarification (seeing as the programme remains available online) as well as the BBC’s main ‘corrections and clarifications’ page.

We received a response informing us that the clarification had been aired in the January 12 edition of the programme:
Crawley: “…I want to make a clarification about one of our programmes last week. During a discussion on last Tuesday’s programme about how different governments have responded to Covid-19, we made an inaccurate estimate of Israel’s population and the number of its citizens who have received a Covid-19 vaccine. For clarity, Israel has a population of 9 million – not 6 million as we’d suggested – and around one fifth of Israeli citizens have received a Covid-19 vaccine at this stage, which is lower than the one third total we’d mentioned.

It’s also important to point out that whilst there’s been some dispute about the Israeli government’s responsibility for vaccinating Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, those Palestinian…those Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem or who hold Israeli citizenship are covered by the roll-out of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme and it remains one of the most successful in the world so far, which is the issue we’ve been discussing.”

While the relevant programme webpage has not been updated to include the clarification, the following does appear on the BBC’s main ‘corrections and clarifications’ page:
Capitol rioter in ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt arrested in Virginia
A man who stormed the US Capitol wearing an anti-Semitic sweatshirt reading “Camp Auschwitz” was arrested Wednesday in his home state of Virginia, according to local law enforcement.

Robert Keith Packer, 56, was arrested by FBI agents on charges of unlawfully entering a restricted area, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a police warrant issued by the District of Columbia.

He is currently being held at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail, and was set to appear before a federal judge later Wednesday.

Packer’s photo has circulated in reports of the mob, whose violent storming of the Capitol Wednesday led to the deaths of five people, including a police officer.

Packer’s “Camp Auschwitz” shirt — one of many extremist symbols present — was clearly visible in footage from events, including while standing behind people holding a torn piece of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office nameplate.

The shirt also said “Work Brings Freedom,” a rough translation of the German phrase “Arbeit macht frei” that greeted Jewish prisoners arriving at the Nazi death camp where more than 1.1 million Jews were murdered. The back of the sweatshirt said “Staff.”
Etsy removes ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt from its online store
Etsy has removed a t-shirt with the phrase “Camp Auschwitz” on it after images of a rioter involved in the deadly Capitol insurrection with the same words on his sweatshirt circulated in recent days.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum tweeted at the e-commerce company, which sells customized craft items, saying that the shirt it found on the site was “painful to Survivors[sic] and disrespectful to the memory of all victims of Auschwitz.”

The man in the sweatshirt at the mob riot has been identified as Robert Keith Packer. His sweatshirt also contained a translation of the infamous phrase on the Auschwitz gate, “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work brings freedom”), and said “Staff” on the back.

“Etsy’s long-standing policies prohibit items that promote hate or violence, and we are vigilantly monitoring the marketplace for any such listings that may have been inspired by recent unrest,” an Etsy spokesperson told Reuters on Monday.

Etsy was not the only company to remove shirts with the phrase from its site — Teespring and TeeChip also took them down, according to Newsweek. Teespring added that it will make a donation to the Auschwitz museum.

Over a million Jews and others were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.
US soldier who allegedly posted antisemitic joke heading for dismissal
The US Army is reportedly likely to dismiss an officer who posted an antisemitic video that went viral.

Second Lieutenant Nathaniel Freihofer, based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, was suspended from leadership roles after he allegedly posted antisemitic material on the social media platform, TikTok, in August.

An investigation was launched into the post, which allegedly included jokes about Jews and the Holocaust.

This week, the commander of the XVII Airborne Corps, Lieutenant General Michael Kurilla, said that the “antisemitic statement” was “inappropriate for anyone in a position of leadership”. As a result, the commander had recommended his dismissal and had “initiated the process” of removing the officer, explained a spokesman.

The officer, who has two weeks to offer a final defence, has posted thousands of photos and videos to social-media platforms and has some 3 million followers.
CAA demands Shoutcast owner Audio Valley stops hosting David Duke after the former KKK Grand Wizard used the service to incite his followers to converge on Washington DC
Campaign Against Antisemitism has written to Audio Valley, owners of streaming service Shoutcast, asking that they stop hosting David Duke on the Rense Radio Network after the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard used a broadcast to call on his followers to converge on Washington DC.

Shoutcast is a platform for media streaming and Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Online Monitoring and Investigations Unit monitors the Rense Radio Network, which Shoutcast hosts.

During an hour-long internet radio broadcast on 5th January, Dr Duke exhorted his followers to join the protest on Capitol Hill to defend the United States against a supposed Jewish conspiracy to overthrow President Donald Trump. Dr Duke claimed that the Jewish conspirators spanned the higher echelons of US business, media and politics and had plotted to depose President Trump and replace him with Joe Biden, who Dr Duke said was under Jewish control. Dr Duke was joined throughout the broadcast by British Holocaust denier Andrew Carrington Hitchcock.

The next day, the US Capitol was breached by a group including various white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Campaign Against Antisemitism contends that this broadcast and others like it are a breach of Shoutcast’s Terms of Use and we have called for an urgent investigation leading to the termination of Rense Radio Network’s broadcasts.

Dr Duke has previously been removed by several other social media networks.
Turkish media airs antisemitic and anti-Jewish conspiracies
A right-wing, Islamist newspaper known for its support of Turkey’s controversial President Recep Erdoğan and the ruling AK Party, has aired anti-Jewish conspiracy theories including that US President-elect Joe Biden was brought to office by “Jewish controlled media organisations and powerful Jewish lobbies.”

The article, which appeared in Yeni Safak, the Turkish daily newspaper known for its hardline support of Turkey’s long-serving President, also made a series of antisemitic allegations, claiming that “Jewish capital” controlled the “deep state” in the United States. This antisemitic conspiracy has been pushed by other Islamists.

The article claimed that President Trump, the “great president” of the United States, had been removed by “Jewish lords”, adding that “the global Jewish power in America” had dealt “another blow” to President Trump. Allegedly, this was effected “first by allowing Trump supporters to raid Congress” and then by “gathering masses in front of Congress holding ‘Trump is guilty’ banners.”

The article goes on to claim that “Trump fought to free America from the occupation and yoke of Jewish power”, adding that his “great concessions” to the Jews were “to placate them”, but after taking these “concessions” the Jews did not hesitate “to have a gun on Trump’s head!”
Far-right activists in Ukraine blame Jews for Soviet oppression
A few dozen far-right protestors gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Kiev calling on Israel and Jews to “repent for genocide” on Ukrainians, apologise for Soviet oppression and take responsibility for a 1930s famine.

The demonstration in the capital of the former Soviet republic was a protest against a tweet by Israel’s ambassador, Joel Lion, which criticised a torchlit march held in memory of a Ukrainian World War II leader and alleged Nazi collaborator.

The far-right activists called on Israel and the Jews to assume responsibility for the famine known as Holodomor. The famine, which killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s, was a result of the policies of the then-Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Noted activist Vladislav Goranin claimed that Israel “deliberately spreads antisemitism in Ukraine” and that Jews and Israel must “repent for genocide” on Ukrainians. Ultra-nationalists in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Former Soviet Union blame Jews for Communist oppression as well as the famine, citing the “support” of some Jews for Communism.

Jews have historically been accused of promoting Communism by its opponents, just as the Communists accused the Jews of propagating Capitalism. According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, examples of antisemitism include “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective”; “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews”; and “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterise Israel or Israelis.”
Unmanned Navy Vessels From Top Israeli Defense Company Coming to the Asia-Pacific Arena
Unlike the world’s air forces, which were quick to integrate drones and other unmanned aircraft, more conservative navies have yet to embrace the autonomous vehicle revolution.

Israeli defense company Elbit Systems first unveiled its unmanned maritime vessel, the Seagull, which is capable of locating and neutralizing sea mines, engage in anti-submarine combat, and carry out patrol and reconnaissance missions, four years ago. As in the air, autonomous sea vessels are far cheaper to operate, can complete longer missions, and don’t put human life at risk, compared to vessels that have a crew. The Israeli navy has leased Elbit’s system for experimental purposes but has yet to announce a purchase deal.

On Wednesday, Elbit announced the first-ever sale of its maritime system to a foreign military — an undisclosed country in the Asia-Pacific region. Elbit did not announce the deal’s value, but experts estimate that it is in the range of several tens of millions of dollars. The contract will be completed over a 17-month period.

The client purchased the mine-neutralizing model of the vessel, which comes equipped with forwards and sideways-aiming sonar sensors, mine destruction capabilities, a combat management system, and satellite communication equipment. The Seagull is capable of remaining at sea for four days straight and in level five sea conditions, meaning with winds of up to 40 km/h and two-meter high waves.
Israeli fintech company Rapyd raises $300 million
Businesses can accept and send payments without having to build their own infrastructure through the Rapyd Global Payments Network.

Israeli Fintech as a Service company Rapyd today announced the completion of a $300 million Series D financing round at a valuation of $2.5 billion. The company raised $100 million in October 2019 at a valuation of $1.2 billion, while a financing round in early 2019 was at a valuation of $300 million.

The round was led by Coatue with participation of new investors including Spark Capital, Avid Ventures, FJ Labs, and Latitude, along with existing investors General Catalyst, Oak FT, Tiger Global, Target Global, Durable Capital, Tal Capital, and Entrée Capital. The company has raised $480 million to date.

With offices in Tel Aviv, London, San Francisco and Singapore, the company was founded in 2016 as Cashdash by CEO Arik Shtilman, VP R&D Arkady Karpman, and VP Corporate Development Omer Priel. The company has 200 employees and plans expanding its workforce.

Rapyd's platform embeds fintech services into any application and simplifies the complexity of offering local payment methods through an easy-to-use API while managing diverse compliance and regulatory requirements. Businesses can accept and send payments without having to build their own infrastructure through the Rapyd Global Payments Network, which supports hundreds of local payment methods including cards, bank transfers, ewallets, and cash.
Israel’s Biond Biologics to get $125 million from Sanofi to develop cancer drug
Israeli cancer immunotherapy firm startup Biond Biologics said Tuesday it has entered an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Paris-based multinational pharma firm Sanofi for the development and commercialization of its flagship anti-tumor drug BND-22.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biond will get an upfront payment of $125 million in cash and could get $1 billion once it meets development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as tiered double-digit royalty payments, the Israeli firm said in a statement.

Biond will lead the first-in-human, phase 1a study of BND-22, evaluating its safety and tolerability as a single drug and also in combination with approved cancer therapeutics. The firm will also explore potential associations between the anti-tumor activity of BND-22 and select tumor and blood-based biomarkers.

Sanofi will take on clinical development and commercialization responsibilities for the drug, Biond said.

An Investigational New Drug (IND) application for BND-22 has recently been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration, and a phase 1 study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and preliminary anti-tumor activity of BND-22 in advanced cancer patients is planned to start by mid-2021, the statement said.
Weizmann scientists date Santorini eruption with modern olive branch
When the volcano on the Mediterranean island of Santorini erupted over three thousand years ago – give or take a few hundred – it spewed lava, rocks and ash over a huge region. The ash from that eruption is so prevalent in the archaeological record that it is used to date the strata above and below.

But few agree on the chronological date of the eruption itself. That is why a single olive branch discovered in the ashes on Santorini has become the center of a recent controversy between archaeologists and chronologists.

Whereas some archaeologists place that date in the second part of the 16th century BCE, a study using radiocarbon dating and an analysis of the olive branch’s growth rings place this volcanic eruption at around 1630-1620 BCE, a difference of nearly a 100 years.

Now, researchers in the lab of Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot’s Scientific Archaeology Department, have shown how different methods could produce dates that agree after all.

The Weizmann scientists focused on the fact that the annual growth of the olive tree is not a simple story. Although a cross section of olive wood does show somewhat concentric rings, the light and dark circles visible to the naked eye do not represent single years of growth. The darker rings may be a sort of staining, rather than signs of annual cycles.

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