Sunday, February 14, 2021

From Ian:

David Collier: Lies and more lies. PSC and the viral BDS fake news circus
I am just coming to the end of a project that has taken almost a year and had promised myself that I would not get distracted in the final stretch. But when this week highlighted just how badly anti-Israel activism is dependant on fake news and lies, I decided to take a slight detour to share it with you.

Divestment and the lies of BDS
The boycott movement against Israel is a complete failure. Israel’s hi-tech economy is booming (Covvid aside – tourism was booming too) and BDS has nothing to show for 16 years of effort but a few activists taking selfies next to avocados on a supermarket shelf.

Sure, in confined political student circles, 14 students can force through a pro-BDS vote whilst the 22000 non politically active students on campus are busy with their actual studies, but in the real world – all of these students use Israeli hi-tech to communicate with each other.

BDS is a noise that spreads antisemitism, demonises Zionism, and hurts Jews in the diaspora but it doesn’t actually do damage to Israel. Worse than this, where it does have some effect, it just ends up hurting Palestinians.

Because of this failure, what the BDS movement is forced to do is engage an absurd fake news strategy – any divestment of any Israeli stock or product for any reason – is promoted as a BDS victory.

For example – even when a football club changes kit supplier – something they all do every few years- if it is the brand of kit used by the Israeli team – BDS will falsely claim it is a ‘divestment’. In the end, the embarrassed club can even be forced to issue a statement rejecting the claim. This happened to Luton Town FC just last year. Think for a while how pathetic this all is.

And if the evidence is not even there, they make it all up anyway. BDS and toxic organisations such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign just love to spread lies. It is all they have.

The latest PSC fiction
This week provided a perfect example. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign ran with a story that the East Sussex Pension fund had divested from Elbit, a successful Israeli arms company.

The news went around. The official BDS movement bragged about it, the thugs at Palestine Action sang about it, and Middle East Monitor wrote an article in celebration.

Ben Jamal, the hapless director of the PSC followed suit. Incredibly, an industry magazine, ‘Pensions Age‘ ran with the story too, in an article written by Jack Gray, their Brighton-based ‘News Editor‘.

Except of course the story is simply not true.

Christian Post: Wanted: Christians to declare to the World Council of Churches 'not in our name'!
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has put on its theological anti-Semitic brass knuckles in its long-standing war against the Jewish State. The time has come for Christians to declare “Not in our name.” For their good, more than ours.

Rev. Frank Chikane, moderator of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, lost no time in a recent Zoom call to ask Christianity to revert to its worst medieval Jew-hatred. For those who will not work towards delegitimizing the entire system (aka the State of Israel) that facilitates daily “brutality” against Palestinians, he intoned a curse, “The blood of the people of Palestine will be upon them.” This was an obvious reference to Matthew’s “His blood be upon us and on our children!” These words were used for centuries to prop up the charge that it was specifically Jewish sin – not the sins of all humanity – that caused the Crucifixion. That charge of deicide was the most important source of violence against Jews, persisting till today. Rev. Chikane is not concerned that his words might inspire violence, since he regards the potential targets not as human but as “demons,” the same demons responsible for apartheid in his South Africa. And it’s worse this time, he said, because these demons have invited other demons to make the Palestinian struggle more difficult.

“Every day people get killed” – a blatant fabrication, unless he means those who are stopped in their attempt to thrust knives into Israeli civilians. He had not a single syllable of criticism for those, nor the ones who try lobbing rockets into Israeli kindergartens.

Rev. Chikane didn’t invent the WCC’s anti-Israel policy, he just upgraded and supercharged it with New Testament imagery. Just three years after Auschwitz, the WCC – which claims 500 million Christians in its affiliates – chose not support the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948, warning instead that its political complexity might invite more global anti-Semitism. In the decades since then, they have strived mightily to convert their analysis into prophecy. It’s reaction to the Jewish state’s astounding Six Day War in 1967, when it defeated surrounding armies whose announced intention was to drive the Jews into the sea, was to blame Israel for the immediate threat of annihilation by its neighbors, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel was faulted for allegedly inspiring the fears of its neighbors because of Israel’s “dynamism and possible expansion.” If those darn Jews hadn’t been so successful in nation-building, their neighbors wouldn’t have to murder them…
New report by human-rights group responds to anti-Israeli bias perpetuated at UNHRC
Geneva-based independent human-rights group UN Watch published a detailed report in advance of the 46th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is scheduled to open this month on Feb. 22 in Geneva and run until March 23. The study debunks more than 20 different major accusations leveled by numerous different countries—accusing Israel of violating Palestinians’ religious freedom, damaging their health and practicing racism.

In its first-ever report that thoroughly fact-checked and responded to the UNHRC’s anti-Israel claims, UN Watch released its 58-page “Agenda Item 7: Country Claims & UN Watch Responses” examining 23 accusations made by various countries under Agenda Item 7 against Israel in the period covering the six UNHRC sessions held in 2019 and 2020.

According to report researcher and writer Dina Rovner, legal adviser of UN Watch, the paper sets the record straight regarding distorted statements, including: “Israel hinders the Palestinian fight against COVID-19;” “Israel has occupied Palestinian territory for 70 years;” “Israel commits apartheid against the Palestinians;” “Israel damages Palestinian holy sites” and “Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal.”

“The truth is very different from what is being put on the record at the United Nations,” she told JNS. “When Israel is accused of hindering the Palestinian fight against COVID-19, it is actually helping and coordinating with the Palestinians. When Israel is accused of violating the rights of Syrians on the Golan, the opposite is the case—the Golan Syrians have more rights and freedoms than their counterparts in Syria, and are flourishing economically. Israel damages Palestinian holy sites? No. History shows that only under Israeli control are the holy sites of Jews, Muslims and Christians fully protected.”

According to Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director and editor of the report (with contributions from managing editor of UN Watch Simon Plosker), it is being sent to all U.N. ambassadors in New York and Geneva “to make clear to all delegates who tell lies that, from now on, their countries will be called out by name before the international community and refuted with the facts.”

UN Watch has also submitted several written statements that will be circulated to delegates as official U.N. documents of the session, calling out the lie that Israel’s vaccination campaign—one of the best-run in the world—is “racist”; exposing UNRWA teachers’ incitement to terrorism and anti-Semitism; and documenting the Palestinians’ illegal use of child soldiers.

Biden brings back 'progressive' diplomacy, and Israel is worried - opinion
The peace-processing “guild” (which Trump’s team upended) “remains wedded to a fuzzy-headed and unchanging conventional wisdom, characterized by epistemic closure, that has proven remarkably resistant to sober-minded reappraisals” (such as the Trump peace plan).

This guild sanctimoniously seeks to rescue a “morally fallen Israel” (a country compromised by its own hard-fought victories) by forcing a peace deal that will see Israelis in pain. Thus, Israeli withdrawals and “sacrifices” for peace are the only way to ritually purify Israel from its sins, and thereby expiate America of its responsibility for crimes against progressivism and against an “equitable” balance of power in the region. When speaking of Israel, “You need to furrow your brow like a parent who is more disappointed than angry, and assert that Israel’s policies will not achieve their goals but rather backfire on Israel.”

Mor calls this a “return to the dark days of daylight” (referring to Obama’s drive to open up “daylight,” or distance, between America and Israel). Doran calls this “saving Israel in spite of herself,” and he locates the source of this predilection in neo-theological Protestant missionary impulses that run deep among American elites.

How I wish that the new administration would hearken to the wise words of Jim Jeffrey, a veteran American diplomat who served in seven administrations, most recently as special representative for Syria engagement and special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jeffrey argues that Biden does not need a new Middle East policy, because the Trump Administration, for all its peccadilloes, “got the region right.”

“Trump made it clear that he would work primarily through partners on the ground. Therefore, he supported Israeli and Turkish military actions against Iran and Russia in Syria, and relied primarily on the Gulf states, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel to stand up to Tehran. The US would in turn complement these efforts militarily when necessary, selling weapons, targeting terrorists, or punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. [While] the administration was generally cautious about using military power... when it did decide to act, US forces effectively targeted Assad, terrorist groups, Russian mercenaries, and Iranian-backed militias.

“In exchange for carrying this extra burden, the Trump administration largely ignored the domestic behavior of important partners, including Egypt, Turkey, and even Saudi Arabia. The administration also made clear that it would openly back Israel when it came to Palestinian issues, overturning long-standing US and international policies on arms transfers, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and Western Sahara. Those policies produced the historic Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab states.”

In short, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Caroline Glick on Biden's Anti-Israel and Antisemitic Appointees

Biden Administration Response to Anti-Israel ICC Decision is a "Cause for Worry"

NGO Monitor's International Advisory Board Statement on ICC's Jurisdiction Claim
As members of the NGO Monitor International Advisory Board, we strongly condemn the exploitation of the principles of international law seen in the International Criminal Court’s claim to have jurisdiction over issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a prelude to investigations targeting individual Israelis, this is a form of legal warfare, (“lawfare”) that uniquely targets the Jewish state.

Beyond the blatant substantive errors in the recent ICC decision, we note the central role of influential but unaccountable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in lobbying the Court. This highlights what the late Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, denounced as the moral failure of his own organization for leading efforts “to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

As NGO Monitor reports demonstrate in detail, for 20 years, the network of radical NGOs continuously promoted accusations of Israeli “war crimes,” cynically erasing the context of Palestinian terror and the obligation of the IDF to defend Israeli citizens against attack. We also reject their blatant and politicized denigration of the highly regarded Israeli legal system. The false accusations and myths prompted by unaccountable NGOs were copied directly into the Prosecutor’s jurisdiction brief and from there, into the decisions of the two judges that endorsed her claims.

We also call on the funders and enablers of these NGO campaigns, particularly among European governments, to end these irresponsible policies. The massive funding amounts to tens of millions of dollars annually (as documented by NGO Monitor), including for terror-linked NGOs, to craft bogus indictments against Israeli officials. In some instances, the European funding to Palestinian NGOs was explicitly earmarked for their activities vis-ร -vis the ICC. These organizations are not credible sources of information for the Court. A number of the European-funded NGOs met repeatedly with the Prosecutor, encouraging them to flout the ICC’s own procedures in manufacturing the case against Israel. NGO Monitor, together with three other groups, jointly filed an amicus brief with the ICC that lays out the legal and factual flaws behind the argument that the ICC has jurisdiction.
Will new ICC prosecutor pull back on Israeli war crimes probe? - analysis
Many observers believe the US and Israel were both rooting for Khan, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no public comment and Israeli officials have been skittish about sharing their preference but there are at least three positives from the US and Israel perspective.

First, Khan is from the UK, a country more closely allied with both the US and Israel than either Argentina or Gambia, where the past two prosecutors came from.

Second, he has spent much of his career, including before the ICC, as a defense lawyer, and this could lead to a more sympathetic view in general toward defendants.

Finally, he has criticized the ICC prosecutor’s office for sometimes relying on shaky or weaker evidence.

Combined, these issues could form a basis to prompt Khan to close the criminal probes into the US relating to the post 9/11 era in Afghanistan, and into Israel, relating to the 2014 Gaza war, the settlement enterprise and the 2018 Gaza border conflict.

Israel has support from several ICC members, including key court donor Germany. But many, possibly most ICC members may support the probes against the US and Israel, or parts of the probes, which means there is a chance that Khan may yet proceed against both.

Orde Kittrie, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, responded to the election saying that, “Karim Khan’s come-from-behind triumph in the race to serve as the next ICC prosecutor reflects a growing understanding, on the part of many ICC member states, that the ICC is in serious need of reform, including a refocusing on its core judicial mission.”

“The newly elected ICC prosecutor has his work cut out for him. The ICC is currently in bad shape, having strayed far from its worthy founding objectives. The recently-published final report of an Independent Expert Review of the ICC… was blisteringly critical of the ICC’s lack of focus and inefficiency, and also asserted that it is plagued by bullying and sexual harassment.”

Israel mulling lockdown on Purim, virus czar says
Israel's coronavirus czar said Sunday the officials are mulling implementing a lockdown during the Jewish holiday of Purim next week out of fear that mass festivities will lead to another outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The festivities last year came as the government put in place first restrictions on public gatherings, which were far less strict and did little to prevent them. Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi also last week said the ministry is thinking about imposing tough restrictions this year during the holidays of Purim and Passover.

Prof. Nachman Ash told Ynet TV that he is worried the images of mass celebrations will repeat themselves this year and lead to a renewed infection outbreak.

"The holiday worries us greatly, and we are mulling whether to use public relations or more serious steps like a nighttime curfew or a lockdown," Prof. Ash said. "We do not want to stop people from celebrating the holiday and ruining all the fun, but there is still a big worry," he said.

He added that if restrictions are eventually implemented, they must be enforced equally across the country, but that he knows this is not up to him, seemingly referring to predominantly ultra-Orthodox areas.
Israeli expert: Antiparasitic drug reduces COVID-19 infection - exclusive
An Israeli tropical disease expert says that he has new proof that a drug used to fight parasites in third-world countries could help reduce the length of infection for people who contract coronavirus. Prof. Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, last week completed a clinical trial off the Food and Drug Administration-approved drug ivermectin, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic agent that has also been shown to fight viruses.

The double-blind placebo-controlled study included 100 people with mild to moderate cases of the disease that were not hospitalized for the virus. It tested whether ivermectin could shorten the viral shedding period, allowing them to test negative for coronavirus and leave isolation in only a few days.

According to his yet to be published data, Schwartz said that the drug was shown to help “cure” people of the virus within just six days. Moreover, Schwartz said that the chances of testing negative for coronavirus were three times higher for the group who received Ivermectin than the placebo.

“From a public health point of view, the majority of patients with corona are mild cases, and 90% of these people are isolated outside of the hospital,” Schwartz explained. “If you have any kind of drug that can shorten the duration of the infectiousness of these patients that would be dramatic, as then they will not infect others.”
COVID-19: 40% of new serious cases are under 60 - here’s why
There is a very disturbing increase in serious cases of COVID-19 among young people, according to a report released Sunday by the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center.

“There is a clear decrease in serious illness among those ages 60 and older,” the report said. “There is an increase in the number of patients in serious condition among younger groups, which last week constituted about 40% of new serious cases.”

According to Health Ministry data, almost 75% of people diagnosed over the weekend were under 40 years old, while around 7% were over 60. On Sunday morning, 1,008 people were in serious condition, up from 973 the day before.

Of the serious cases, 38% were under the age of 60. Last week, about 34% of cases were younger people; at the peak of the third wave, around January 20, 26% were.

This constitutes a 53% increase in the number of serious cases under the age of 60 in the last month.

The reason is two-fold, according to Prof. Cyrille Cohen, head of Bar-Ilan University’s Immunotherapy Laboratory. On the one hand, the more the older population is protected by the vaccine, the proportion of younger, less-protected people who contract the virus will rise, he said, and they will become the relatively dominant population in the hospitals.

“The more cases, the greater likelihood a percentage of those people will end up in the hospital – kids, pregnant women and people under 40 years old in general,” he added.
JCPA: What Drives the Palestinian Reconciliation and Election Processes?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has announced parliamentary elections to be held on May 22, 2021, followed by elections for the presidency on July 31, 2021.

Abbas and the Fatah movement he heads believe that the elections and an apparent reconciliation with Hamas will strengthen their ability to prevent further erosion of the PA’s status caused by the normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, which have pushed the Palestinian issue into a secondary place on the Middle East agenda.

They also expect that the election process, together with other cosmetic changes in their behavior (such as changing the method of paying salaries to incarcerated terrorists), will justify the new U.S. administration’s intention to recommence economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, the elections are intended to satisfy the Palestinian public and the international system by creating a false facade of Palestinian unity, while ensuring the continuation of the status quo on the ground and Abbas’ unchallenged rule in the territories.

Hamas is eager to hold the elections for its own reasons, as it seeks to keep Gaza under its control and secure international legitimacy. There are elements in the new U.S. government, such as Hadi Amr and Robert Malley, who have previously argued for granting legitimacy to Hamas.

However, this would mean recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political body and not a terrorist organization without its meeting the three conditions previously set forth by the International Quartet: recognition of the State of Israel, the cessation of terrorism, and the acceptance and implementation of the agreements between Israel and the PLO in the Oslo Accords.
PMW: PA values: Purify yourself with your blood, make sure your bullets hit the target…
The Palestinian Authority is using its current TV quiz series about ‎Palestinian cultural songs to stress that violence and confrontation remain ‎lofty PA ideals. Palestinian Media Watch has exposed that most of the songs ‎that “fascinate… with values and meanings” chosen by the PA for the quiz ‎until now present PA’s “cultural and… national identity” as being about rifles, ‎violence, ‎murderers, and Martyrdom: ‎
Two recent songs featured in the quiz also focused on this. One song called on Allah ‎and spoke of “ritually purifying” oneself with one’s blood. Whereas a Muslim ‎ritually purifies himself before prayer with water, in the PA song the water has been ‎changed to one’s own blood. In other words - sacrifice yourself and aspire ‎death as a “Martyr” - while attacking Israel with “the bullets of the revolution”:‎ Lyrics:“O the bullets of the revolution, call out! …‎
And to the Seventh Heaven, call out:‎
Allahu Akbar (i.e., “Allah is greatest”), Allahu Akbar
Hurry to the revolution, hurry”‎ … ‎
Official PA TV narrator: “Who is the composer of the song O the ‎bullets of the revolution, call out!‎”‎

Lrics:“I will ritually purify myself with my blood,‎
and pray on the wooden beam of my rifle…‎
And my beads is the bullets – the bullets are my prayer beads”‎
[Official PA TV, The Tune of the Homeland,
Jan. 29 (twice), 30, Feb. 1 (twice), 2, 3 (twice), 2021]

Another song of “value” presented in the PA TV quiz calls directly to the “self-‎sacrificing fighter” and instructs him to “make sure your bullets hit the target” ‎and that “the [Israelis’] day does not emerge”: ‎

HonestReporting Prompts Forbes to Correct Errant Gaza Electricity Claim
After receiving a tip-off from one of our devoted readers, HonestReporting contacted Forbes regarding a quotation that falsely described the number of hours of electricity available to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Hamas terrorist group. The piece by David Vetter, titled, “How Pioneering Solar Tech Aims To Bring Energy To Gaza’s Refugees,” quoted interviewee Raya Al-Dadah, an expert in sustainable energy technologies at the University of Birmingham (emphasis added):
…just 38% of Gaza’s electricity needs currently are met. People receive less than six hours of power per day, leaving hospitals providing only critical functions such as intensive care units.”

This is demonstrably false. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPT, residents of Gaza have received 13 to 15 hours of electricity each day since October 2020. That’s over double the amount stated by Al-Dadah.

The misrepresentation should not have been left unchallenged, given that readers were being misinformed.

HonestReporting contacted Forbes, and to its credit, the article was updated within a matter of hours to include a paragraph immediately after the problematic quote to add context and effectively contradict the claim. The paragraph begins thus:
According to the United Nations, the Gaza Strip received about 14 hours of electricity per day in January.”
Qatar confirms gas pipeline projects in Gaza Strip
Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, revealed new details Sunday about a plan to lay a natural gas pipeline in Gaza.

In an interview with Gaza-based Sawa news agency, al-Emadi said that Qatar's Gaza Reconstruction Committee has recently held several "productive" meetings to advance the matter together with representatives of the Chevron Corporation, as well as officials from the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.

The committee also held meetings with diplomats from France, the Netherland, and the Palestinian Authority.

The Qatari envoy shared that there already exist two contracts regarding the pipeline. The first one is a contract between the Palestinian Authority and a gas company concerning the purchase of natural gas. The second one is a contract for the installation of the pipelines.

"An agreement has been reached with Europe to allocate $5 million dollars for the assembly of gas pipelines from the border to the power station, while Qatar will install pipes on the Israeli side," al-Emadi said, also revealing the plan to set up a team of officials from the reconstruction committee and the PA to monitor the implementation of both contracts within the next six months.

According to the envoy, the power plant in the Gaza Strip will save the Palestinian Authority millions of dollars and solve its consumption crisis. The PA currently pays $11 million for the power line from Israel, in addition to the $2.5 million allocated to the power plant itself. Qatar buys $7 million in fuel every month for this station.
Fmr. Iranian crown prince: Nuclear deal a mistake, Ayatollahs won't change
Former crown prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late shah of Iran, warned that the Biden administration's intent to rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake and that the deal was based on the misconception that the current regime would change its ways. He spoke in an interview with Israel Hayom published on Sunday.

"They said they would return to the nuclear deal when their sworn enemy (the regime in Iran) rushed to quintuple the rate of uranium enrichment," said Pahlavi about the administration's statements concerning returning to the deal. "This is blackmail of the free world. The only smart solution to the concerns of the Americans, the peoples of the region and for the Iranian people, is to support Iran's struggle for freedom and democracy."

Pahlavi explained to Israel Hayom that the nuclear deal is based on "the misconception of behavioral change," adding that "it will not happen. The Iranians know that the regime is not led by its national interests, but by its corrupt and criminal interests. That is why in my talks with foreign leaders I explain to them that the only real solution is to support the needs of the Iranian people."

"The destructive actions of the regime are not beneficial to any long-term relationship with the free world," added Pahlavi, who added that many Iranian activists have sent a letter to US President Joe Biden concerning the planned return to the nuclear deal.
Report: Iran concealing weapons stockpiles in UN containers at Damascus airport
Tehran is using UN containers to conceal weapons stockpiles at the Damascus International Airport, according to a report in the Voice of Damascus, a news site aligned with Syrian rebel fighters.

According to a source employed at private company, Iran's Revolutionary Guards have set up a dummy container terminal adjacent to the airport. Containers at the site bear the names of the UN and international shipping company DHL.

The Iranians are using the new terminal as a temporary distribution center for storing weapons, in particular missiles and missile parts, prior to their distribution throughout Syria. According to the source, the terminal is situated just 200 meters (yards) from the airport, which was targeted by Israel in the past for its use by the Revolutionary Guards to arm Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militias and Hezbollah.

The facility is guarded by members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to the report, and airport workers are prevented from getting near the site. The terminal holds over 25 containers formerly used by the UN.
Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign manager has close ties to Linda Sarsour
Andrew Yang’s new mayoral campaign manager Sasha Ahuja is a longtime progressive activist with ties to controversial Palestinian-rights fighter Linda Sarsour, a review of social media records by The Post shows.

Sarsour, 41, has for years been a deeply polarizing figure in city politics, where critics frequently accuse her of anti-Semitism.

“I understand why Andrew Yang hired her; trying to project yourself as a progressive,” Mark Meyer Appel, founder of The Bridge Multicultural Advocacy Project, told The Post. Appel, a supporter of Yang opponent Eric Adams, said Ahuja has been “hanging out with some real trouble makers.”

Polling suggests Yang is the undisputed frontrunner in the race for City Hall. Ahuja, 33, was recently promoted to the leadership of Yang’s campaign, named a co-campaign manager earlier this month along with Chris Coffey, a bruiser consultant from Tusk Strategies.

Much of Ahuja’s association with lightning-rod Sarsour has been documented on social media. On March 8, 2017, the pair were arrested together during a protest outside Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan.
Stand With Us: SWU Confident of Reinstatement of Arkansas Anti-BDS Law
In 2017, Arkansas joined the majority of U.S. states in passing an anti-BDS law which denies state contracts to companies which engage in discriminatory practices towards Israel. The AR law was challenged (Arkansas v Waldrip), and the challenge dismissed in 2019 when the court found no constitutional problem with the law. However, on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued its opinion ordering the lower court to take up the case again.

"StandWithUs is confident that the desire of the state of Arkansas - to refuse to use taxpayer dollars to enter into contracts with companies that discriminate against Israel - will ultimately prevail despite the recent appellate court decision," states Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs.

Importantly, while the appellate court found one phrase in the law to be problematic, it indicated no constitutional concerns with the primary purpose of the law, which deals with discriminatory economic boycotts against Israel. In fact, we are heartened that in the first appellate ruling on the merits of anti-BDS laws, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the principle behind the anti-BDS laws that most states in the country have adopted. The ruling means that states have the right to restrict business with companies that boycott Israel. Thus the Court's ruling leaves the Arkansas anti-BDS law almost entirely intact and provides a strong precedent for other such laws across the country.

Perhaps more significant, critics of anti-BDS laws have long insisted that economic boycotts fall under the category of speech protected under the First Amendment. The appellate court rejected the claim.

The sole concern of the appellate court in its ruling was that the Arkansas law included language prohibiting not only economic boycotts but also "other activities” intended to economically harm Israel. Two of the judges understood these words as possibly encompassing freedom of expression, which is protected by the First Amendment. The problematic phrase can easily be amended to alleviate any concerns.

NFL star Zack Banner to host virtual Athletes Against Antisemitism event
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Zach Banner, Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell and Israeli-American Washington Mystics basketball player Alysha Clark will host Athletes Against Antisemitism, a virtual event to combat antisemitism and promote racial justice and unity.

The event will be moderated by Dr. Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, from the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.

The event is a two-part conversation, according to the event's Eventbrite description. The first part will focus on the Pittsburgh community, with Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue with JasiriX, a hip hop artist and activist, participating. The second part is set to feature Banner alongside Bell and Clark to discuss athlete activism.

In July, Banner posted an emotional video defending the Jewish community and detailing how the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting affected him – especially as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, Banner has worked to create unity between the Black and Jewish communities in Pittsburgh.

Banner announced the event over Twitter. In response, the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue, which was the scene of the shooting, replied over Twitter that they will see him there.

Peter Gabriel cites Israeli 'racism' as one reason for re-recording 'Biko'
British singer Peter Gabriel cited a rise in racism in Israel for political gains as a partial reason for re-recording his 1980 protest classic Biko.

Gabriel has released the new version of the song, which was recorded with help from 25 musicians from around the globe, including Beninese vocalist and activist Angรฉlique Kidjo, Yo-Yo Ma, the Cape Town Ensemble, Sebastian Robertson, and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello as part of Playing for Change’s Song Around the World initiative.

Gabriel told Rolling Stone that the song, originally written as a tribute to South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who was murdered in police custody in 1977, still has relevance today and named Israel, among other countries, that is exhibiting racist traits.

“Although the white minority government has gone in South Africa, the racism around the world that apartheid represented has not ,” he told Rolling Stone. “Racism and nationalism are sadly on the rise. In India, Myanmar and Turkey, Israel and China, racism is being deliberately exploited for political gain.”
Twitter can’t bring itself to ban those calling for Israel’s genocide on platform
Twitter “cannot predict” what, if any, action will be taken against world leaders who call for the genocide of the Jewish people on its platform, a Twitter representative told a special Knesset committee hearing Wednesday.

“Let me ask you, please, squarely: Is and are calls for the genocide of Israel in the public interest as a statement of foreign policy?” asked Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer.

In response, Twitter’s public policy representative Ronan Costello said that the area was “developing.”

“I think that one thing that we can take from the developments of the last few months – and I hope you’ll appreciate this – is that no world leaders are exempt from our policies and that we will enforce our policies where we feel there have been violations of them,” said Costello in an apparent reference to the platform’s banning of President Donald Trump last month.

Costello said Twitter’s developing policies are applicable to world leaders, “regardless of who they are or who they represent.”

“There is no exception as to whom they are applicable to,” he said, adding, “I cannot predict what enforcement action will be taken in the future based on policy development being applied in the moment or perhaps even retrospectively.”

Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh said, “That answer happens to be unsatisfactory as a Jew whose genocide is being called for.”
Israel Presses Twitter: Stop Giving Iran's Khamenei Free Pass

BBC again flouts impartiality guidelines to promote political campaign
The news, on February 10th, that Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service had vaccinated some Palestinian workers against Coronavirus appeared to have prompted an item in the February 11th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’. That programme’s synopsis read:

“Also in the programme: Israel begins vaccinating small numbers of Palestinians who enter the country to work…”

However listeners soon discovered that that news was merely a hook for yet more promotion of the political campaign that exploits the topic of Corona vaccinations to which the BBC self-conscripted over a month ago.

Presenter Julian Worricker introduced the item:
Worricker: “Israel continues to have the highest rate of Covid-19 vaccinations per person [sic] in the world. But that’s in stark contrast to the situation in the occupied West Bank and in neighbouring Gaza. Pressure has been growing on the Israeli government to provide what the UN describe as equitable access to vaccines. And now, Israeli paramedics have started vaccinating small numbers of Palestinians who travel across checkpoints to work in Israel. It’s the first time jabs have been offered to people from the West Bank beyond several thousand health workers and prisoners.”

Dozen-Plus Medieval Jewish Headstones Discovered Inside Wall in Germany
Construction works recently uncovered 18 Jewish gravestones from the Middle Ages that were built into a wall in the old town of Mainz, Germany.

According to Germany’s Ministry of Culture, the gravestones were used in the walls as fillers and may date as far back as the 11th century, Israel Newsstand reported on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Markus Nรถhl said the tombstones “are centuries-old evidence of Jewish roots and tradition in Mainz.”

He explained that after Jews were expelled from Mainz in 1438, ownership of the town’s Old Jewish Cemetery was turned over to the municipal. A section of the cemetery site was leased out as a vineyard, resulting in a large number of headstones being removed and reused as building materials.

“Many medieval headstones that were used as building material were rediscovered in the 19th and early 20th centuries, among other things, during works to regulate the Rhine River, during the construction of the Hessische Ludwigsbahn [railway] in the south of the city, and in connection with the de-fortification of the city,” he said, adding that this also applies to the headstones recently found.
Israel Makes Top 10 (Again) in Ranking of World’s Most Innovative Countries
Israel was ranked seventh among the world’s 60 most innovative economies, according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index published on Feb. 2.

The Jewish state went down one spot from its standing in 2020 and two places from 2019, where it came in fifth place.

South Korea was ranked as the world’s most innovative country and took the title from Germany, which fell to fourth place this year. The East Asian nation has taken the top spot on the index for seven of the nine years that it’s been published.

Following South Korea were Singapore and Switzerland, which each moved up one spot, and were ranked second and third, respectively. Sweden was ranked fifth, followed by Denmark and then Israel.
Iranian judoka and dissident Saeid Mollaei due in Israel for Tel Aviv Grand Slam
Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who fled his country after speaking out against the regime more than a year ago, is due to land in Israel on Sunday to participate in the Tel Aviv Grand Slam scheduled for Feb. 18-20 at Shlomo Hall, Kan 11 News reported Sunday.

"Saeid Mollaei is due to land … in Israel tonight," a senior official from the competition's organizing committee told Kan, adding that the tournament was a "festival of sports beyond borders."

Competing in the under 81 kg (178.5 lb) category, Mollaei holds gold and bronze world medals.

In November 2019, Germany granted Mollaei refugee status after Iranian officials forced him to be eliminated from the World Judo Championship in Tokyo before he could face off against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, who went on to win the gold medal in Tokyo.

Mollaei sought to apply for asylum in Germany instead of putting himself at risk by returning home.

"I'm happy, it's a huge message for the world," said Muki.

"It could even bring Iran closer to the State of Israel. It just shows how sport can unite and break down barriers," Muki added.
Israel's Walt Disney: The story and legacy of Joseph Bau
Joseph Bau was born in Krakow in 1920. By his teen years, he was a published cartoonist who, throughout his life, used his talents to save hundreds of Jewish lives and for the benefit of the Jewish state. He was a quintessential part of Israel’s early film and animation industry, becoming known as “the Israeli Walt Disney.”

After Bau died in 2002, his daughters created the Joseph Bau House in Tel Aviv, one of the world’s smallest museums. Bau was a painter, filmmaker, writer, poet and “a very secret man” who survived the Holocaust by talent, luck and love, presenting his interpretation of the history of the Jewish people and the tekumah (the rise) of Israel through his art and writings.

Bau authored 10 books, including his Holocaust memoir, Shnot Tarzach (The Murder Years), titled Dear God, Have You Ever Gone Hungry? in English. The book written in Hebrew, has been translated into English, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Polish Spanish and soon, into Russian. It chronicles survival in the midst of death; it is a story of seeking life.

I spoke with Hadasa Bau and Clila Bau Cohen, co-directors of the museum housed in their multi-talented father’s graphics studio. The two rooms overflow with paintings, photographs, books, and posters he created for mid-century Israeli movies. Bau designed several internationally recognized Hebrew fonts that characterized Israel’s early animations, movies, and commercials.

There is a special focus on Bau’s studies of the Hebrew language. “Coming to Israel was his lifelong dream,” says Clila. “He saw Hebrew as an essential bond.” The space has been transformed into a place of memory and laughter, a gallery of art and invention.

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