Saturday, January 23, 2021

From Ian:

‘Jews Don’t Count:’ Former New York Times Editor Bari Weiss Breaks Down Antisemitism on Left and Right in Megyn Kelly Interview
“Right now, Jews are in a very precarious and strange position,” said author and former New York Times editor Bari Weiss in a wide-ranging interview Friday, with former Fox News and NBC host Megyn Kelly.

“Jews don’t count,” she argued. “If someone said to another editor at the New York Times, ‘are you writing about the Blacks again? Are you writing about the trans again? Are you writing about the gays again?’ — think about how that sounds to your ear; it’s disgusting. And yet some people think it’s acceptable to say about Jews.”

The former opinion section editor resigned from The New York Times in July 2020, publishing an open letter that criticized colleagues for “harassing” behavior.

“They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again,'” she wrote in the letter.

Kelly, the former news anchor who launched The Megyn Kelly Show podcast in 2020, asked Weiss on Friday why antisemitism had recently become more prominent.

“In the antisemitic conspiracy theory … Jews or the Jewish state comes to stand for whatever a given culture or civilization defines as its most loathsome or disgusting qualities,” said Weiss, who in 2019 authored the book How to Fight Anti-Semitism. “That’s how the Jews can be so many things at once,” under ideologies like Nazism and Communism.

“You have the accusation that comes from the far-right — from people like the killer who stormed into my synagogue in Pittsburgh two years ago, and he said ‘all Jews must die,’ and he killed eleven of my neighbors,” said Weiss, referring to the 2018 Tree of Life massacre in her home town.


Fighting Terrorists while respecting International Law
Fighting Terrorists while respecting International Law: Col. (ret) Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, former head of the IDF's international law department and Col. (ret) Richard Kemp CBE, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, chaired by Natasha Hausdorff, Barrister.

Two exceptional speakers discuss the challenges facing moral armies when confronting terrorists, while seeking to avoid civilian casualties and comply with international law.

Col. Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch is a senior research fellow and the head of the program on law and national security at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). She is also vice president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IJL) and active in Forum Dvorah - Women in Foreign Policy and National Security.

Pnina retired from the Israel Defense Forces in 2009 with the rank of Colonel after twenty years in the International Law Department, heading the Department from 2003. She was responsible for advising on international law, including the laws of armed conflict. Pnina served as a legal advisor and member of Israel's delegations to the negotiations with the Palestinians and with Syria.

After 2009 Pnina taught courses on public international law and on the legal aspects of the Israel – Arab conflict in the law faculty of the Tel Aviv University and at the National Security College. She has published numerous articles on issues relating to these topics. She holds an LL.B and LL.M from Tel-Aviv University.

Col. Richard Kemp CBE served in the British Army for 30 years, retiring in 2006. He completed eight operational tours fighting terrorism in Northern Ireland, including intelligence work, and was wounded in action. He took part in the 1990-91 Gulf war in Iraq and Kuwait. He served with the UN Protection Force in Bosnia in 1994 and was counter terrorism adviser to the Prime Minister of Macedonia in 2001.

He commanded British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003 and subsequently served again in Iraq during the second Gulf War. From 2002-2006 he was head of the international terrorism intelligence team at the British Cabinet Office and a member of COBRA.

Since leaving the Army he has addressed the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, refuting allegations of war crimes aimed at the IDF. He has also addressed the Knesset and several legislatures around the world on these issues as well as the threat from Iran. He is a media commentator and writer on defence, security, terrorism and intelligence and author of "Attack State Red", an account of the war in Afghanistan.


Grand Mufti’s Jerusalem mansion to become synagogue
Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the notorious mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s who spent much of World War II in Berlin as a Nazi collaborator and war criminal, must be spinning in his grave. In Jerusalem has learned that the landmark hilltop mansion he built 88 years ago in affluent Sheikh Jarrah between the Old City and Mount Scopus is slated to become a synagogue in a future 56-apartment Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

The 500-sq.m. manor house, called Qasr al-Mufti (the Mufti’s Palace) in Arabic, today stands deserted at the center of a largely completed 28-apartment complex, which itself lacks a tofes arba occupancy permit. The reason the new neighborhood is not being finished – and indeed has not been marketed in the 10 years since demolition and construction began – is that the developers have applied to rezone the 5.2-dunam site to double the number of units to 56, according to Daniel Luria, a spokesman for Ateret Cohanim, which backs the housing project.

Luria was unclear when the rezoning application, originally meant to build 70 apartments, would be approved. The historic house at the core of the site will be preserved and repurposed for communal needs including a synagogue and perhaps a day care center, he said.

“There is a beautiful poetic justice when you see the house of Hajj Amin al-Husseini crumbling down,” Luria noted.

Though al-Husseini built the mansion, he never lived in it. Following the outbreak in 1936 of the Arab Revolt against the British Mandate government, the mufti became a fugitive hiding in the Old City’s Haram ash-Sharif. When the British attempted to arrest him in 1937, he fled Palestine and the British made do with confiscating his property. The al-Husseini clan owned numerous properties in Jerusalem, among them the Palace Hotel (today the Waldorf Astoria), the Orient House, and the mansion subsequently turned into the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah on a plot of land known as Karam al-Mufti, named for al-Husseini.


Ron Prosor: In a changing Middle East, India is more important than ever - opinion
The past year has presented us with many unprecedented challenges; the COVID-19 pandemic is still posing a grave threat to many countries around the world, including the United States and Europe. At the same time, the Middle East is undergoing real change for the better. The dynamics of the Abraham Accords are reshaping the region dramatically, opening new opportunities for those engaged in it: such as India.

India’s strong links in the Gulf and in Israel could play an important role in determining the region’s future direction. Its sizable manpower in the region, combined with Israel’s growing engagement, signal a real opportunity not only for the Israel-India relationship, but for the two countries to cooperate widely in the Middle East and Asia.

Looking at the big picture, superpower competition, border conflicts between China and India, and increased pressure by the Trump administration on its allies have posed challenges to international relations, and especially to countries caught between the superpowers. Incoming US President Joe Biden’s policies toward Asia remain to be seen, but the superpower competition between the US and China will probably continue and possibly even intensify in some areas. The Biden team is likely to focus on rebuilding the US’s alliances, including with Israel and India, with a particular focus on technology.

Both India and Israel, technological hubs in their own right, need to reassess their position between a domestically preoccupied United States and a more assertive China. Superpower rivalry will be determined by the outcome of the global technological race, making the two countries – technological and innovation leaders – crucial players in this sphere. Israel and India should actively work to increase cooperation in what is likely to be an ongoing period of instability ahead.
Sudan working to cancel Israel boycott law - report
Sudan is expected to discuss cancelling the law that forbids establishing relations with Israel, according to a claim made on Saturday by a source in the country's Justice Ministry. The report was first published by "Makan" Kan News' Arabic news source.

The boycott law in Sudan has been in effect since 1958, and outlaws business with citizens of Israel as well as business relationships with Israeli companies or companies with Israeli interests. The law also forbids the direct or indirect import of any Israeli goods.

Authorities in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, are working to cancel the boycott in order to advance the peace process with Israel, according to the Makan report. On January 6th, Sudan joined the Abraham Accords and signed a peace agreement with Israel.

In an interview to British publication Asharq Al-Awsat, a senior official in Sudan's sovereign council denied the reports, and explained that the council is not expected to discuss cancelling the law. It was also reported that the Justice Ministry may discuss it without involving the council.
Seth Frantzman: Turkey pro-government media: ‘Jews overrepresented in Biden Cabinet’
A Turkish social media site that usually posts about armed conflict attacked Jews as “overrepresented in Biden cabinet,” part of a rising crescendo of antisemitism and anti-Biden media coverage in Turkey. Turkey’s ruling AKP party and its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was close to Trump and Turkish pro-government media cultivated ties with America’s far-right, including the Proud Boys, often pushing conspiracy theories about Antifa and the US “deep state.”

The latest claim comes on the heels of a conspiracy theory spread by a high level AKP official that said US president Joe Biden is “Kurdish.” Turkey’s has a long history of spreading populist racist rhetoric against Kurds, Armenians, Jews, Greeks and other minorities. Clash Report, the social media site, posted an image online on January 22 claiming to show the “Jews severely overrepresented in Biden cabinet. One percent of US population, more than fifty percent of cabinet.” This is the kind of language that was used by antisemitic regimes to excuse discrimination against Jews. For instance Germany passed a series of “numerus clausus” under the Nazis to keep Jews at only 1.5 percent of admissions to certain educational institutions. Nazism was influenced by Turkish nationalism. Adolf Hitler told Turkey’s ambassador in 1939 that he was influenced by Turkey. Expert Stefan Ihrig documented how Ankara’s extremism influenced Nazism.

Clash Report is ostensibly an open source intelligence social media site that posts about “clashes.” It got attention during Turkey’s involvement in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan, showing off video of Turkey’s Bayraktar drone strikes. It was never clear how it obtained them but the report’s tweets, which are often in English, Turkish and other languages, were widely shared, including by Washington-based think tank members and journalists who follow the Middle East.

Since few other Turkish media appeared to have access to such immediate drone footage from military sectors many online have suggested the opaque and shadowy Clash Report may be linked closely to Ankara, although it is not clear online because the social media site has no clear website or information about who runs it. It has 129,000 followers meaning that its posts get a lot of attention.
Netanyahu seeks to suspend outgoing flights amid fears over virus variants
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to suspend most outgoing flights from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport amid growing concerns over returning residents importing coronavirus variants.

The partial closure is set to take effect within 24 hours, according to a Channel 12 report on Saturday, which specified that the restriction will apply to those wishing to travel for tourism purposes — and even those who have been fully vaccinated.

Netanyahu is set to hold talks on the travel restrictions later Saturday and again on Sunday with officials from the Health Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, and the National Security Council.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry officials have been recommending the suspension of all flights to the UAE’s top destination Dubai, including business travel. The measure is backed by Transportation Minister Miri Regev, according to the report.

Channel 13 reported Saturday that the Health Ministry is also asking the government to approve the use of advanced surveillance tools to track Israelis returning from overseas.
Coronavirus: Number of new cases continues to slowly decline
Only days after the government decided to extend the lockdown on Israeli citizens, the number of confirmed daily cases of coronavirus continues to decline.

There were 7,326 new cases Friday, the Health Ministry reported on Saturday night - 8.8% of the people screen tested positive, representing a slight decrease from the days before. Some 8.9% of people screened Thursday were found to have the virus, versus 9% on Wednesday and 9.2% before that.

However, the ministry reported that only 85,739 people were tested for coronavirus on Friday and 81,828 on Thursday, as opposed to the more than 100,000 in previous days that resulted in 10,000 cases.

The highest rates of infection remain among the ultra-Orthodox, where the British and potentially other mutations are active. Jerusalem had the highest number of active cases with 15,197, Bnei Brak had 5,319 and Modi’in Illit has 3,119.

The percentage of positive cases should go down since the reproduction rate – the “R” or number of people each sick person infects – has finally dropped to below one in all sectors.
Israel expands vaccination campaign to teens aged 16-18
Israel began administering COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers Saturday as it pushed ahead with its inoculation drive, with a quarter of the population now vaccinated, health officials said.

Since the rollout of vaccinations a month ago, some 2.5 million of Israel’s nine-million-strong population have been vaccinated already, the health ministry said on Friday.

Expanding the campaign to include teens in 11th and 12th grade came days after Israel, on Tuesday, extended its third national coronavirus lockdown until the end of the month due to a surge in coronavirus infections. The tightened lockdown measures had been set to expire Thursday night, but ministers agreed to extend the restrictions until January 31.

The Health Ministry on Friday reported a further decline in daily new coronavirus infections the day before, as Israel’s worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic appeared to ease following weeks of strict lockdown rules. Meanwhile, the country is also set to take fresh steps to attempt to curb the infections, including raising fines on rule-breakers and increasing limitations on international flights.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry said 7,316 new cases were confirmed the day before, after peaking at over 10,100 earlier in the week. The total number of infections recorded in Israel reached 593,578, as of Saturday.

The drop in daily cases came as testing levels also further decreased, though the positive test rate fell to 8.8 percent.

The death toll stood at 4,326, with 81 fatalities recorded Friday. The ministry said there were 76783 active cases, with 1,844 patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Of those, 1,171 were in serious condition, with 335 on ventilators.
Explosion in Gaza home used for weapons storage injures dozens
An explosion destroyed a home in Gaza Saturday morning as terrorists attempted to prepare explosives with which to attack Israel, according to an IDF tweet.

The explosion was in the home of a Hamas operative, according to Ynet News and at least 30 were injured in the explosion, Kan News reported. Pictures posted to twitter by the IDF showe the extent of the massive damage to the house caused by the blast.

Avichay Adraee, the IDF spokesperson for Arabic media, said on twitter that the explosion was a result of storing weapons in the house. Adraee went on to say that "the story of the house is the story of many homes in the Gaza Strip," that are being used for weapons storage.

"They have turned [homes] into warehouses of weapons, military parts and missiles for terrorist organizations and the people who pay the price in the end are the innocent civilians," Adraee want on to say.


PA: Importing settlement products is a war crime
The Palestinian Authority said on Saturday that it has filed a complaint with the United Nations, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation against companies that do business with settlements.

The complaint, filed by the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was included in letters sent to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abu Al-Gheit, and Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Yousef Al-Othaimeen.

The complaint apparently refers to the United Arab Emirates, which recently signed agreements with settler companies to export their products to the Gulf state. The PA ministry, however, did not specifically mention the UAE in its complaint.

Last month, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan announced that he had signed four direct export deals between settlements and UAE companies.

The ministry said in a statement that the letters talked about the “negative and hostile impact of [the deals] on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, on top of which is the right to self-determination, and other economic, social and cultural rights.”
Islamic Jihad says late Iranian general Soleimani gave ‘direct orders’ in Gaza
A senior figure in the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad said the organization received “direct orders” from the late Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani up until his assassination in a US airstrike last year, and that rockets supplied by the Iranians were used to attack Israel.

Speaking during a December interview with the Iranian al-Alam TV, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, said “nothing happened [in Gaza] without his direct orders and supervision,” according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

This came in addition to Soleimani’s efforts to supply the PIJ with modern missiles, and weapons, including those used to attack Israel’s economic and technological hub, Tel Aviv.

“It was almost miraculous. It was very expensive in terms of technology, security, and capabilities” al-Nakhaleh said, adding “I can say that the missiles that [Soleimani] delivered to the Gaza Strip were the ones used to attack Tel Aviv. I can say that Hajj Qassem played a pivotal role in the fact that the Palestinians ventured to attack the capital of the Zionist entity.”

The PIJ chief explained that Soleimani personally supervised and managed the transport of missiles in “complex operations” from Syria, to Sudan, to the Gaza Strip, adding that he personally visited Sudan to ensure the shipments were a success.


Iran’s Zarif Open to Oil, Gulf Security Contacts With US, Not on Israel
Iran may cooperate with the United States on oil and security in the Gulf, but not on Israel, the Iranian foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday.

Ties between Tehran and Washington worsened under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who in 2018 withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Iran called for action and “not just words” shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.

“In my personal opinion, we should define our relationship with the United States: To tell the US that ‘we will not cooperate with you on the issue of Israel and we will disagree with you,’” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with the reformist Etmad newspaper.

Iran, he said, “will not allow you to interfere in its internal affairs, but we have no problem working with you on the question of oil. We have no problem with ensuring the security of the Persian Gulf, though we believe that foreign presence in the Persian Gulf causes insecurity and you should not be there.”


Fury as Tonge blames rising UK campus antisemitism on 'the illegal actions of the Israeli government'
Baroness Jenny Tonge has sparked anger during a House of Lords debate on rising campus antisemitism after claiming victims are targeted “because of the illegal actions of the Israeli government.”

In a debate secured by the crossbench peer Baroness Deech in response to the publication of the Community Security Trust’s Campus Antisemitism in Britain 2018-2020 report, which showed an alarming rise of incidents at universities, the former Liberal Democrat MP said: “I was shocked when I read the nature of the abuse.”

But Baroness Tonge then added: "What is missing, however, is any investigation into why these incidents are increasing .... with increasing violence in the West Bank and Gaza, the expansion of settlements and the occupation of east Jerusalem, antisemitic incidents have continued to rise.

"Whenever I suggest a connection between the two, I am told this is ‘victim blame’, which it is not. The victims are innocent Jewish people—students, in this case. They are victims because of the illegal actions of the Israeli government."

Among the furious peers to respond to her comments was Lord Grade of Yarmouth, who told the Lords: "I was especially interested to hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, would have to say in this debate, given her form on antisemitism. I have to say that it was predictable."

The Conservative peer Lord Polak said angrily: "I am certain that Jewish students up and down the country will take some comfort from today’s debate — although I am unsure how a one-minute contribution from the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, will be sufficient to put right a career of repeating old, medieval tropes."


UC Merced Professor Who Tweeted of ‘IsraHell’ and Zionist ‘World Domination’ Will Not Teach Spring Semester After Outcry
Abbas Ghassemi, a chemical engineering professor at the University of California Merced, will not be teaching in the spring semester at the school, after outrage last month over his antisemitic social media posts, the Merced Sun-Star reported Friday.

The Twitter posts, exposed in Dec. 2020 by the Jewish News of Northern California, led to calls for Ghassemi’s firing and prompted an inquiry by the school, which has not yet commented on his employment status.

One post, on Dec. 13, read, “the Zionists and IsraHell interest have embedded themselves in every component of the American system, media, banking, policy, commerce … just a veneer of serving US interest and population — everyone pretends that is the case.”

Another included an image of a “Zionist brain” with labels such as “frontal money lobe,” “Holocaust memory centre,” “self-pity gland” and “world domination lobe.”

“The opinions presented in this Twitter account do not represent UC Merced or the University of California,” said a Dec. 29 statement from Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg A. Camfield. “They were abhorrent and repugnant to us and to many of our colleagues and neighbors; they were harmful to our university, our students, and our years of work to build an inclusive and welcoming community.”

The statement also promised that the school would develop programming for the upcoming semester on antisemitism, free speech and hate speech.
Andrew Yang Says BDS Harkens ‘Back to Fascist Boycotts of Jewish Businesses’
New York City Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang wrote in The Forward that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement harkens “back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses” in a January 22 op-ed in The Forward.

Yang, who previously ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, noted that Jews were the victims in nearly 60% of the hate crime complaints in New York City. He also pointed out that neo-Nazis aren’t the only source of hate crimes.

“A Yang administration will push back against the BDS movement, which singles out Israel for unfair economic punishment,” Yang wrote. “Not only is BDS rooted in antisemitic thought and history, hearkening back to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses, it’s also a direct shot at New York City’s economy. Strong ties with Israel are essential for a global city such as ours, which boasts the highest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel.”

He concluded the op-ed by stating: “If I am elected Mayor, I will continue to look to the Jewish community as a source of inspiration for what is possible in New York City. And I will stand with my Jewish neighbors against antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence. New York is New York thanks to our city’s Jewish population — past, present and future.”

Pro-Israel Twitter users praised Yang.

“A powerful op-ed from @AndrewYang recognizing the vibrancy of NYC’s historic immigrant communities, emphasizing the importance of strong U.S.-Israel ties, and opposing BDS, which he notes is ‘rooted in antisemitic thought and history,’” Democratic Majority for Israel tweeted.


Brazil BDS activists to speak on anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism at ‘justice’ meet
Promoters of boycotts against Israel in Brazil will teach about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at an international social justice summit with a history of Jew-hatred.

Activists from the Brazil branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, will give a training seminar on Sunday at the World Social Forum that will “clarify the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, concepts that are frequently equated by Zionist propaganda to criminalize Palestinian resistance to occupation,” BDS Brazil said in a statement.

The World Social Forum was created in 2001 in Brazil as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Many of its thousands of participants belong to the far left, as well as promoters of the Palestinian cause, including the BDS movement.

This year’s summit, which will be online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the first time that activists from the BDS movement are using the summit to teach about anti-Semitism. The movement has faced accusations of being anti-Semitic.

In 2016, the World Social Forum canceled one of its own events on Israel following an outcry over allegedly anti-Semitic imagery used to promote it. Titled “Terrorizm, Wahhabism, Zionism,” the event was advertised with a cartoon of a Jew eating an Uncle Sam.
Banned Anti-Zionist Student Group at Fordham University Will Appeal Ruling to Highest Court in New York State
Students at Fordham University are appealing a December court ruling that allowed the school to ban the anti-Zionist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on campus — seeking to take the case to the highest court in New York.

“We believe in the students’ right to organize for Palestinian rights and will support them every step of the way,” said Radhika Sainath, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, which petitioned the New York Court of Appeals on Friday along with other groups.

In 2015, Fordham’s SJP chapter was denied recognition after Dean of Students Keith Eldredge said he could not “support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the University.”

At the time, Eldredge cited SJP’s support for the for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as antithetical to the university’s values.

In Dec. 2020, the Supreme Court of New York’s appellate division overturned a 2019 ruling that would have granted recognition to the campus group. While the 2020 decision turned on a technical issue of standing, the judge said that even if the court had reached the merits of the students’ claims, it would have allowed Fordham to ban the group.
AS Italian King's Heir Apologises For Monarchy's Holocaust Role
A descendant of Italy's wartime King Victor Emmanuel III has apologised to the country's Jewish community for his ancestor's role in dictator Mussolini's racial laws and the Holocaust.

"I condemn the 1938 racial laws, all of whose weight I still feel on my shoulders to this day, and with me the whole royal house," 48-year-old Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy said of his great-grandfather.

Victor Emmanuel III had put his signature to an "unacceptable document", he added in a letter posted to Facebook, "officially apologising" in the name of his family.

Almost 8,000 Italian Jews were deported from the country and murdered in Nazi extermination camps, most of them in Auschwitz.

Giving a TV interview alongside the letter, Emanuele Filiberto also vaunted his family's positive role in Italian unification and granting of equal rights to Jews from 1848.

Several Italian royals were themselves deported to Nazi concentration camps, he recalled.

After the war, Victor Emmanuel III abdicated in May 1946 and died the following year in Egypt.
Author who made controversial comments on Jews quits Dutch Holocaust event
Amid protests by prominent Dutch Holocaust survivors, an author who called Gaza “a ghetto” and said he feels uncomfortable around Jews has stepped down as keynote speaker of the national ceremony commemorating victims of the genocide.

In a statement published Thursday on the website of the National 4 and 5 May Committee, Dutch-Moroccan author Abdelkader Benali wrote that on the national commemoration day, “we come together to commemorate and the discussion around my remarks must not distract from that. So I’ve decided it’s better if someone else deliver the speech.”

Benali, who was named Monday by the committee as keynote speaker, said in 2006 during a conversation with a journalist that southern Amsterdam “is full of Jews. And that’s annoying that there are so many of them. Amsterdam Jews. Makes you feel uneasy as a Moroccan. It looks like Israel. So many Jews, it just feels crazy.”

In an interview published Wednesday in Het Parool newspaper, Benali acknowledged that “I made those remarks,” but that it was during the Second Lebanon War and that “We blew off steam. I was drunk during the party. It was black humor, irony and tastelessness, which, in retrospect were misplaced.”

He added: “I understand that Jews are offended by these remarks if they don’t know the circumstances. I didn’t mean it. I distance myself from those remarks, they weren’t meant literally. I also have Jewish friends and interview Jewish authors.”
Head of Belgian Jew-mocking carnival accused of anti-Semitic COVID comment
Organizers of Belgium’s Aalst carnival have defended the mocking of Jews there as a good-natured satire at a counterculture parade that takes swipes at people of all faiths and races.

But according to a recent complaint submitted to the country’s anti-racism watchdog, the man heading the event in Aalst has made classical anti-Semitic remarks on Facebook, the Het Laatste Nieuws daily of Antwerp reported Thursday.

The complaint to the UNIA watchdog about Aalst Carnival Association Chairman Sven de Smet follows a controversy that led to the Aalst Carnival renouncing its title as a world heritage event.

The 2019 edition of the annual event — a costume party known for its irreverent sphere and provocative costumes — featured several floats deemed anti-Semitic, including ones of Jews depicted as insects. The previous event had a float about the cost of living, with grinning Orthodox Jews holding bags of money and a rat on one of their shoulders.

The complaint by Rudi Roth, a Jewish journalist from Aalst, about de Smet concerned a comment that de Smet left on December 29 in a Facebook post featuring a picture of the 2018 display captioned “Hey, Jew, the rules apply to you, too.” The caption referred to violations of COVID-19 emergency measures by ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Nazi memorabilia at Paraguay art fair prompts call for new law
A trove of Nazi-themed objects found at an art fair in Paraguay moved a Jewish watchdog group to call on the country to enact anti-discrimination legislation.

Photos of Hitler, “Mein Kampf” books, Nazi clothing and more were sold at the fair in San Bernardino, a small town about 30 miles from the capital city of Asunción.

On Jan. 15, the head of the Latin American branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Buenos Aires, wrote to Paraguay’s foreign minister, Federico González Franco, and urged him to legally adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Argentina and Uruguay have adopted the definition.

“Mr. Foreign Minister, the San Bernardino Fair represents a choice, to follow the democratic Germany of today or the remnants of the war criminals, such as the Auschwitz ‘angel of death,’ Josef Mengele, who had evaded judgement by escaping to Paraguay,” Ariel Gelblung wrote in his letter.
Far-Right Polish Politician Who Denounced ‘Powerful US Jewish Lobby’ Appointed Deputy Minister of Education
A far-right Polish politician who accused “the powerful Jewish lobby in the USA” of attempting to swindle money “that is not due to them in any way” has been appointed as his country’s deputy minister for education.

Tomasz Rzymkowski was confirmed as secretary of state of Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday.

A former member of the far-right movement “Ruch Narodowy,” Rzymkowski was a keynote speaker at a May 11, 2019 rally outside the US Embassy in Warsaw (pictured) that the AP news agency reported “appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times.”

The focus of the demonstrators ire was the passage by the US Congress of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act S. 447 — which calls for the US to administrate compensation for stolen Jewish property from various European countries — earlier that month.

The act provides no means of enforcement. Polish Prime Minister Marowiecki angrily rejected the legislation, claiming at the time that asking Poland to pay direct compensation for any wartime crimes amounted to a “posthumous victory for Hitler.”

Demonstrators outside the US mission chanted “This is Poland, not Polin” — the Hebrew word for Poland — with one participant complaining, “Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything? Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”
Larry King, broadcasting giant, dies at 87 after hospitalization with COVID-19
Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but CNN had earlier reported he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honors, including two Peabody awards.

With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the “Central Park Jogger” or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show.

In its early years, “Larry King Live” was based in Washington, DC, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made.

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.
Major donation secures Oxford University's famous Hebrew collections
A joint endowment from Sir Victor Blank, former chairman of Lloyds Bank, and the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe has secured an ancient collection of Hebrew texts, which includes illuminated manuscripts and historic works, according to the university.

Dr. César Merchán-Hamann is expected to serve as the first "Victor Blank Curator of Hebraica and Judaica," who is also the current guardian of the important collection of Hebrew manuscripts.

Among the collection of Hebrew-language books at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University include a catalog from 1605, in addition to a collection of early Hebrew and Yiddish printed books, a fragment of Maimonides' autograph draft of the Mishneh Torah from the Cairo Genizah and manuscripts of the Torah. Prized works held by the library also include the 15th century Kennicott Bible, still with its original goatskin box-binding and an illuminated 14th century Tripartite Maḥzor from the Michael collection.

"My love and fascination with the Bodleian Library goes back to my undergraduate days. As a historian, I came to appreciate the uniqueness of the Bodleian, housing and preserving swathes of our written history in this country and across the world," said Blank.

"The pre-eminent collection of Hebrew and Yiddish books (a collection as good as almost any in the world) requires love and care from a dedicated curator. I am delighted to be able, with the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, to secure that post for the future," Blank added.
UCLA opens center for music of the ‘American Jewish experience’
UCLA has opened a center to explore the history of Jewish music in America with an eye toward breaking ground.

The Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience was backed by a $6.75 million endowment by the Milken Family Foundation.

The center, which opened last month, aims to “become a national leader in the exploration of Jewish music,” Milken told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

While a number of departments at American universities focus either on the academic study of music or prepare future performers, the center will be the first to combine both functions, said Marc Kligman, its director.

The Milken center is part of the university’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

Milken, a Jewish-American businessman and major philanthropist, had founded the Milken Archive of Jewish American Music. The archive holds more than 600 recordings, 200 oral histories and 50 albums documenting the Jewish contribution to American music, from the liturgical chants of Sephardic immigrants during the colonial era, through the hits of the Yiddish stage and to the jazz, blues and rock eras.
Ahead of Israeli Space Week, ISA Director Reveals Country’s Goals for the Great Beyond
When people praise the robust Israeli tech sector, fields such as semiconductors, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence come to mind, but many forget that space tech is also a field that Israel shines in. Although there are few such companies in Israel, as the NewSpace trend continues to grow, Israeli ingenuity will extend to that arena as well and is set to become a global presence.

Ahead of Israeli Space Week, taking place between Jan. 24 – Jan. 28, CTech spoke with the director-general of the Israel Space Agency about Israel’s accomplishments in the aerospace and space exploration sectors, the agency’s role in aiding the burgeoning local space tech ecosystem, and the impressive lineup of speakers for the weeklong event, which will mainly be in an online format this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Why do you think it’s important that the agency support space tech startups?

“Space is very special,” he began. “Investing in space tech startups is important, despite the fact that the time it takes to go to market is long and the risks are higher. This is one reason why it should be supported by government agencies, although the market is heading more toward privatization and outsourcing the traditional government role. The space tech sector will continue to grow, and it still needs government support,” Avi Blasberger told CTech’s Yafit Ovadia.

“Even if you think about the greatest contract that the Israeli Space Agency has – it’s with NASA to take Israeli astronauts to the International Space Station, and NASA is paying for the seats. It’s like an airline,” he quipped, “except it’s the most expensive airline you can think of.”







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