Monday, February 22, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: 'We need to BDS them': Mark Levin says of media hostility towards Israel, US
Mark Levin, the conservative Jewish American radio broadcaster with more than 14 million daily listeners, has a gloomy forecast for the future of American media coverage of the US, of Israel and of ties between the two countries.

Ahead of the launch of the Hebrew-language edition of his bestselling book Unfreedom of the Press, Levin told Israel Hayom that to understand the nature and depth of the danger that the US media poses to democracy in America, you have to understand the way that the US media treats Israel.

"I think the American people – forget about the elites – I think the American people and the Israeli people have such a connection, and such a love for each other," he explained.

"We get in this country from our media … that Israel is an apartheid society, it's a racist society. It's the same things they say about our country, they say about Israel. So it's kind of hard to write a book – what I called Unfreedom of the Press – and ignore what's going on in Israel.

"It's also hard to ignore it as a Jew," he adds.

"I see the overlays. I see the animus towards Israel, the animus towards the United States."

For decades Israelis and Israel's supporters in America complained about the anti-Israel bias of the US media. But in Unfreedom of the Press, Levin explains that the problem is far worse than mere bias.
David Collier: David Miller’s antisemitism – Bristol University shares the blame
I have long said Corbyn was a symptom of a far greater problem and only now is that beginning to be more widely understood. The rewriting of history took place in academic halls long before it began to spread on social media. We witnessed the growth of anti-Israel movements only after academic activists had provided them with faux legitimacy. The NGOs fighting against Israel are full of graduates who were taught their twisted hatred, whilst studying at government-funded educational institutions. A whole generation of academics has arisen, who view the world through an antisemitic lens. They protect each other, stand together to silence dissent and spread their false tales to all the new students that appear. It is a factory that creates clones.

If they leave academia to branch out into law, politics or non-profit work, they spread their toxic beliefs wherever they land. It was only a matter of time before a mainstream political party became a target.

In comparison to the battle against Corbynism’s invasion of the Labour party, we are faced with a much more difficult fight. Academia will be protected by academics. The wider uninformed public will not tolerate interference with something that all the little graduate soldiers in media and in NGOs will come out to defend. David Miller’s case highlights this perfectly. The Bristol faculty, certainly the parts surrounding David Miller, are probably very hospitable to his views. When Bristol University considers its response to the outrage facing David Miller, make no mistake – the reaction of their own faculty if they respond harshly is a larger worry to them than having to deal with a few unhappy Jewish students.

But ask yourself this. If Bristol University which adopted the IHRA, still cannot deal with a case as blatant as David Miller then what value does the IHRA have? At the very least, the IHRA demands that a name be given to such breaches – and that name is antisemitism. The Miller case proves that those attacking the IHRA have little to worry about. The responsibility of the University of Bristol

But the bottom line is that this story is all down to the University of Bristol. They chose to give him a senior role even though he had been targeting the Jewish community for a decade. If you employ a racist and he racially abuses your students – you bear responsibility. This is no different.

Bristol is failing in providing a basic duty of care for Jewish students. It is a waste of time turning to an academic who is lost down an anti-Zionist black hole and expecting some type of understanding, sympathy or apology. Miller sees our community as a fifth column with a power base that he would happily dismantle. All this is down to the university. They chose to employ him. They would not have done this to any other minority group. It is time they afforded their Jewish students the basic protections that they are legally obliged to provide.

It is time they start doing their job.
Morton A. Klein: It wasn't funny, Michael Che
The ZOA demands that NBC’s Saturday Night Live (“SNL”) producer Lorne Michaels apologize for and terminate the writer of a “joke” which was not funny and in reality was a dangerous Jew-hating, Israel-bashing blood libel. In addition, this blood libel should be removed from NBC’s website and other fora where it may appear.

On SNL last night, SNL actor Michael Che stated, in a failed attempt at humor that: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it was the Jewish half.”

In fact, in Israel, all citizens – Jewish, Muslim, Arab and Christian, are equally eligible and have the equal opportunity to receive the anti-Covid vaccine.

Antisemitic libels are not funny. In fact, in Israel, all citizens – Jewish, Muslim, Arab and Christian, are equally eligible and have the equal opportunity to receive the anti-Covid vaccine. The priorities are health care workers of all backgrounds (including Israel’s many Arab physicians and health care workers) and the elderly of all backgrounds. Approximately 70% of Israeli Arabs over 60 have already received the vaccine.

Israel also offered the vaccine to the autonomous Palestinian Authority (“PA”) and PA President/PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, even though Israel has no obligation to do so. The Oslo accords make clear that the PA is responsible for all issues affecting the health of the PA’s citizens. The PA and Abbas adamantly rejected Israel’s extraordinary, generous humanitarian offer.

Saturday Night Live’s Anti-Israel Covid Blood Libel
Record of Offensive ‘Humor’
In 2018, one commentator wrote of Che: “He goes for the easy laugh he knows he can get by simply repeating [a] slur.” This pattern of taking cheap shots was repeated last May when Che made another poorly thought-out joke — that Miss Israel had won a “Miss Hitler beauty pageant.”

Che has been dogged in recent years by repeated claims that he has employed transphobic language. In turn, he has used his Instagram account, which has over 400,000 followers, to attack the author of an article that criticized comedians for making disparaging comments against members of the LGBT community. His rant included curses and ad hominems, in a clear attempt to bully the writer. Ignorance of Israel’s Vaccination Program

In reality, Israel’s vaccination program is open to all of its citizens, Arabs included. As of publication of this article, over half a million Arabs in Israel have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. But those facts remain unknown to many observers because much of the media chooses to paint Israel as “racist.”

Predictably, numerous social media posts have revealed mass anti-Israel bigotry rooted in ignorance. In fact, all of Israel’s citizens are equally eligible for coronavirus vaccinations, including Arabs in Israel. By contrast, the majority of Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority, which has its own health system.

Israel has zero interest in depriving the Palestinians of vaccinations: should a new mutation develop in the West Bank or even the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Israelis would almost certainly be infected.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. From the “massacre in Jenin” to the “massacre on the Mavi Marmara” to the “massacre on the Gaza border”, once adopted by the media, the over-simplified and decontextualized narrative that Israel is wronging the Palestinians (or in the case of the Mavi Marmara, their gun-toting and knife-wielding Islamist supporters) has a significant influence on public opinion.

Even well after being debunked, these narratives continue to rear their ugly heads from time to time. The anti-Israel Palestinian vaccination lie must not be allowed to similarly persist.

While Che and the SNL team may regard his remark as harmless, the end result is likely to be increased vitriol directed against Israel and Jews.

And that’s not a laughing matter at all.
Press Advisory CAMERA Calls on NBCUniversal to Address Antisemitic Falsehoods by SNL, MSNBC
The letter urges “NBC and SNL to apologize for the blatant antisemitic smear, and to make clear that Israel is providing equal access to the coronavirus vaccine for its entire population, Jews and non-Jews alike. We also continue to call on MSNBC to forthrightly correct the Israel is ‘burning down Palestinian villages’ falsehoods.”

“Accusing Israel of withholding the vaccine from its non-Jewish citizens is a modern-day iteration of the ancient blood libel,” Sternthal wrote. “Israel has made the vaccination equally available to all of its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike. It has also made it equally available to Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of whom don’t hold Israeli citizenship, but receive all Israeli health benefits.”

The “joke” comes soon after U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) was allowed on MSNBC to falsely declare without challenge that Israel was “burning down Palestinian villages” during an interview conducted by host Mehdi Hassan. MSNBC has yet to correct the record.

“Che’s pernicious new libel is yet another stain on NBC Universal,” Sternthal wrote.

Sternthal sent the letter to SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, Marian Porges, NBC’s senior vice president of news standards, Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC News and Frances Berwick, chairman of NBC’s Entertainment Networks.

“Che’s unfunny and ugly joke points to a serious problem with standards at NBC,” said CAMERA’s Executive Director Andrea Levin. “These bigoted statements are unworthy of a major American media company; we hope there will be swift action to retract and apologize for these episodes and measures will be taken to prevent any future such commentary.”
The AJC wants ‘Saturday Night Live’ to apologize for vaccine joke
The American Jewish Committee is circulating a petition asking “Saturday Night Live” to apologize for a joke that suggested Israel is vaccinating only its Jewish population.

“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Michael Che, the co-host of SNL’s news parody, “Weekend Update,” said on the most recent broadcast.

“Saturday Night Live’s ‘joke’ isn’t just untrue — it’s dangerous, a modern twist on a classic antisemitic trope that has inspired the mass murder of countless Jews throughout the centuries,” the AJC said in a petition posted online on Sunday that referred to the ancient libel that Jews are responsible for plagues. The petition will be delivered to NBC, the live comedy revue’s broadcaster.

Pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs launched an apology-demanding campaign of their own, requesting it from both SNL and NBC, the show's host network.

Why Poland Is Trying to Control Holocaust Memory
The other side of the same coin is a separate, ongoing campaign whose aim is to erase from the memory of entire societies the undeniable truth that the Holocaust was a German crime. For many years Germany has been doing its utmost to “denationalize” its WWII-era wrongs. A statement recently made by the German foreign minister has shown how it works in practice. On Nov. 20, 2020, Heiko Maas tweeted: “Exactly 75 years ago the Nuremberg trials started. This was where men sat on trial for the most heinous crimes in history. Yet the judges granted them a fair trial. A triumph of civilization over inhumanity.” His words lack a mention of the fundamental truth that it was German war criminals who were tried in Nuremberg.

This omission was intentional and it was made as part of a well-planned campaign to take the burden of Nazi politics and crimes off the shoulders of the current German state. These efforts will eventually create a wide breach in social awareness. As a result, Poland is facing the risk of being perceived one day as solely responsible for the Holocaust. In the near future, lies may prevail over the truth about those dark days. Poland and Israel must not let that happen.

In today’s world, social communication—media and social media—has become a powerful tool of influence. Media coverage can affect the lives of individual people, change their attitudes, and shape their behavior. It even has the power to shape the mindset of a whole nation. Therefore, media is often used to besmirch a rival nation or state or to stir up hatred toward it (e.g., prior to and during military aggression).

Poland is unfortunately familiar with this mechanism, because we have been targeted by Russia’s information warfare efforts for quite a while. The Kremlin, among others, exploits lies about history to smear the Poles and gain strategic advantages. As of December 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with other top Russian officials, have stepped up their efforts to libel Poland by means of slanderous statements or ridiculous press conferences. Since then, Russia has accused WWII-era Polish authorities of collaboration with Hitler at least a couple of times. Russian propaganda spreads biased content in order to push the same narratives as those mentioned before. The aim is to make international public opinion believe that the history of Poland is filled with crime and atrocities that the Poles are trying to whitewash. And the power of social communication may amplify the hostile effect of such efforts.

To put it in a wider context, Russia wants to see Poland isolated on the international arena, particularly within the NATO community, because it aims to weaken the allied guarantees for Poland and discourage other member states from defending it if needed. This underhanded plan seems to be more attainable in a world where Poland is widely believed to have helped the Germans kill the Jews.
BBC report refers to an issue it has ignored for over five years
Bateman’s use of the phrase “believed to be” conceals the fact that Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh last year stated that “We have four prisoners…”. Also notable is the fact that in line with BBC practice since 2015, Bateman failed to tell readers the names of those “two Israeli citizens…held in Gaza”.

The morning after Bateman’s report was published the vaccines were transferred to the Gaza Strip. Despite Tom Bateman being aware of that development, the headline “Israel ‘stops vaccine on way to Gaza Strip’” remained on the BBC News website’s Middle East page for some six hours after it was no longer relevant before being replaced by another report by Bateman (also taken from the ‘live’ page) titled “First covid vaccines to enter Gaza strip” [sic].

In that item Bateman once again euphemised Hamas as an “armed movement” and promoted false linkage between counter-terrorism measures and the transfer of the vaccines:
“The strip is controlled by the armed movement Hamas, and Israel had so far held up delivery – it says its entry restrictions on Gaza are to stop weapons being developed.”

He closed with yet more promotion of the campaign initiated by a collection of political NGOs which the BBC has been promoting since early January:
“Israel – which has been vaccinating its population at the world’s fastest rate – has transferred 2,000 doses to the West Bank, but it rejects the argument of some human rights group that as the occupying power it should do much more. About 5 million Palestinians so far are still waiting for their vaccines.”

Despite the Hamas health authorities having received those vaccines on February 17th, local media reported that the vaccination drive in the Gaza Strip would only commence on February 22nd. The BBC apparently did not consider that ‘hold up’ to be newsworthy.
Poetic license BBC News recycles ten-year-old misinformation
On February 15th a short report by the BBC’s Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher headlined “Mourid Barghouti: Leading Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti dies aged 77” was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Readers were told that:
“Leading Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti has died at the age of 77.

He was born four years before the state of Israel was created in a village near Ramallah. […]

Born in 1944, Barghouti was studying in the Egyptian capital Cairo when the 1967 Arab-Israeli war broke out.”

That account of course fails to explain to readers that in 1944 the village in which Barghouti was born (Deir Ghassaneh) was located in territory allocated to the creation of a national home for the Jewish people by the Mandate for Palestine. Neither does it clarify that the area was invaded and occupied by Jordan in 1948, that on June 5th 1967 the Israeli prime minister at the time informed the Jordanian king that “we shall not engage ourselves in any action against Jordan, unless Jordan attacks us” or that Jordan’s decision to ignore that appeal resulted in its losing control of the territory it had illegally held for nineteen years.
German president lauds Jewish culture in Germany, warns of antisemitism
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned of rising antisemitism as he praised over 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany on Sunday.

Steinmeier visited a synagogue in Cologne where a ceremony was held to honor the contributions of the Jewish people in Germany during the past two millennia.

"Whether in philosophy, literature, art and music, science, medicine or business, Jews have been instrumental in writing and shaping our history and illuminating our culture," Steinmeier said at the ceremony, according to Deutsche Welle News (DW).

He added that Jewish contributions to German culture "made a decisive contribution" to Germany's emergence into the Modern Age.

DW reported that the German president requested that the world take an "honest look" at the history of the Jewish people - referring to the open antisemitism and persecution it faces - and see that it is "one of emancipation and prosperity, but also of humiliation, exclusion and disenfranchisement."

"That is the only way we can learn lessons for the present and for the future," Steinmeier said. "That is and remains our responsibility."
82 Years Later, Reunited Childhood Friends Torn Apart By Holocaust Zoom Regularly
Two Jewish friends from Berlin who believed that each other had been killed during World War II and the Holocaust recently reunited with the help of the USC Shoah Foundation.

After Ana María Wahrenberg and Betty Grebenschikoff said goodbye to each other in a German school year in May 1939, Wahrenberg’s family fled to Chile, while Grebenschikoff traveled to the United States via Shanghai. This past fall, they saw each other again via Zoom for the first time in 82 years.

“In her [USC Shoah Foundation] testimony, Betty said she had been actively searching for her long-lost friend for her entire life; she even specifically mentions Ana María’s name in the hopes that this will help her find her best childhood friend,” said Rachael Cerrotti, who works as a creative producer for the USC Shoah Foundation, which has more than 55,000 video testimonies from Holocaust survivors and witnesses, reported the Times of Israel.

After hearing Wahrenberg speak at a virtual Kristallnacht event, Holocaust testimony indexer Ita Gordon remembered Grebenschikoff’s testimony given to the foundation 24 years ago and made the connection between the two women. Cerrotti said “what followed was a series of phone calls” to put the two women back in touch.

“This has been a great gift, which, at this point in my life, I am boundlessly grateful for,” declared Wahrenberg of reuniting with her childhood friend in November.
Newly surfaced Soviet-era footage shows spy Eli Cohen in Damascus
Russian news agency RT released last week never-before-seen footage of Israeli spy Eli Cohen walking down the streets of Damascus as part of a new documentary series about Syria.

The documentary starts with a film bought from an antique shop in Saint Petersburg. The film shows images of a man, believed to be Cohen, walking along March 29 street in Damascus.

The creators of the series reveal that the video was shot by Boris Lukin, a graduate of the Soviet military academy and specialist in signals and communication, whom Soviet records showed was awarded three “red star” medals.

Lukin and Cohen both arrived in Damascus at the same time. One of Cohen’s coded messages back to Israel had spoken of the arrival of 150 Soviet military experts in Damascus after the Soviet-western clash over Syria swayed towards Moscow when the Baath swept to power. The Mossad also knew that Lukin had arrived in Damascus. Both Lukin and Cohen would crack down on fugitive Nazis during their time in Damascus.

Working under the alias Kamel Amin Thabet, Cohen began his clandestine activities in Syria in 1961. He managed to foster close relationships with the Syrian political and military hierarchy and became the chief adviser to the minister of defense.

He provided Israel with valuable intelligence regarding the Syrian army's deployment in the Golan Heights and reported on military and political moves until his cover was blown by Syrian counterintelligence in January 1965.
Shlomo Hillel, who spearheaded mass aliya of Iraqi Jews, dies at 97
Shlomo Hillel’s life spanned the length and breadth of Israel’s immigrant story and he played a critical role in many of its chapters.

Hillel, who died Feb. 8 at 97, helped smuggle Iraqi Jewish immigrants into pre-state British Mandate Palestine and then brought more in in the state’s first years. His family fled Iraq’s horrors and he married a woman fleeing Europe’s horrors. His son married an Ethiopian Israeli, whose aliya Hillel, as a minister in the government, greenlighted.

A New York Times obituary on Sunday detailed how Hillel, who was born in Baghdad, executed at least four undercover operations in the pre-and post-state years in various guises — including as a British businessman — to spirit out Iraqi Jews.

In one instance, negotiating with the then-Iraqi prime minister, Tawfiq al-Suwaidi, a cousin of Hillel’s joined the meeting. The cousin did not recognize Hillel.

Altogether, Hillel was responsible for the aliya of at least 120,000 Iraqi Jews, saving an ancient community from predations that would follow when Saddam Hussein became dictator in the late 1960s and targeted the tiny remnant with persecution and executions. There are fewer than 100 Jews left in Iraq.
15th-century Esther scroll, among oldest in world, gifted to National Library
A rare scroll of the Book of Esther, believed to have been penned in the mid-15th century in the Iberian Peninsula, has been donated to the National Library of Israel and made available online ahead of this year’s Purim festival.

The artifact is one of the world’s oldest known scrolls recounting the Purim story, the library says.

It is “an incredibly rare testament to the rich material culture of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula. It is one of the earliest extant Esther Scrolls, and one of the few 15th-century megillot in the world,” said Yoel Finkelman, curator of the National Library of Israel’s Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection, in a statement.

The Book of Esther, which tells the story of Jewish deliverance during the Achaemenid Persian Empire in around the 5th century BCE, is traditionally read from a handwritten scroll as part of the Purim holiday. In 2021 the one-day holiday begins Thursday night in most places, and a day later in some locations, including Jerusalem.

A rare scroll of the Book of Esther, believed to have been penned in mid-15th century in the Iberian Peninsula. (National Library of Israel)

The Iberian scroll is written in brown ink on leather in a characteristic Sephardic script, which resembles that of a Torah scroll, the library said. The first panel of the parchment, which comes before the text of the Book of Esther, includes the traditional blessings recited before and after the reading of the megillah, and “attests to the ritual use of this scroll in a pre-Expulsion Iberian Jewish community.”


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