Friday, March 05, 2021

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The brouhaha over defining Jews as an ethnic minority
The real confusion, as the beleaguered Cohen observed on "Politics Live," arises because many people believe Judaism to be instead merely a religion.

They fail to grasp that it encompasses not just religious faith but peoplehood and that in ancient times, the Jewish people also constituted a nation in their own Jewish kingdom. The failure to understand this, coupled with the mistaken view that Judaism is merely a private, confessional faith like Christianity, is partly why so many people believe the Jews are interlopers in Israel.

It's why they make the false distinction between Zionism, which they condemn as a colonialist political ideology, and Judaism, which they fawningly sentimentalize, disdain or disregard altogether as merely a religion. The fact that this leaves secular Jews stranded in no-man's-land is why those Jews in particular desperately hang on to the ethnic minority label as their badge of identity.

Rather than acknowledge the unique characteristics of the Jewish people as a source of benefit to the wider world, the difficulty of fitting them into generally accepted categories unfortunately encourages suspicion and fear.

In the West, many assume that ethnic minorities must be dark-skinned and somehow "foreign." So the fact that most Western Jews are pale-skinned means they don't fit the template of an ethnic minority. And the notion that Judaism is both religion and peoplehood feeds the paranoid suspicions of the anti-Semite that the Jews are slippery customers who change their shape at will and thus hide in plain sight.

Jewishness is difficult to define at the best of times. Anti-Semitism is not only now running rampant in the West; worse still, both this victimization and the nature of Jewish distinctiveness itself are being widely ignored or rendered invisible.

So it's hardly surprising that the questioning of the Jews' minority status that erupted this week has rubbed already exposed Jewish nerves raw.
The grotesque myth of Jewish privilege
The BBC’s flagship politics programme, Politics Live, featured a bizarre debate on Monday on the topic of whether or not Jews are an ethnic minority. Apparently, this was open to question because some Jews have reached positions of power and influence.

I am genuinely saddened that the following needs explaining – but it clearly does: groups do not cease to be ethnic minorities as they become more affluent and upwardly mobile. It may be inconvenient to simplistic identitarian narratives, which present society as a story of majority-on-minority structural oppression. But being materially deprived is not a necessary condition for being categorised as an ethnic-minority group. And successful, high-achieving individuals can still face real-life discrimination on the basis of their membership of an ethnic-minority group.

When discussing so-called Jewish privilege, it is important to note that elements of the UK’s Jewish population are relatively deprived. In recent times, the rate of child poverty and material deprivation has grown at an alarming rate within Britain’s strictly Orthodox Haredi communities. Studies have put this down to a ‘potentially toxic mix’ of large families and a relative lack of focus on secular educational qualifications, in favour of a highly observant religious lifestyle which is distanced from modern technology. Orthodox Haredi children are far from likely to be living a life of privilege. Yet the notion of ‘Jewish privilege’ shows us that these forms of child poverty are not commonly known and are barely discussed.

Irrespective of socio-economic status, Jewish populations at large have been subjected to the political mainstreaming of anti-Semitic beliefs. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party will forever be a stain on modern British political history. Labour was once a natural party for many of Britain’s Jews. But Jewish politicians such as Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman left the party due to anti-Semitism. Ellman served as MP for Liverpool Riverside for 22 years and was a Labour Party member for 55 years.

These failings resulted in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – a body created under a Labour government – finding the party responsible for three breaches of the 2010 Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints, and harassment. Before Labour’s disastrous performance in the 2019 General Election, a survey revealed that 47 per cent of British Jews would seriously consider leaving the UK if Corbyn became prime minister.


Israeli PM Netanyahu slams ‘SNL’ joke about COVID-19 vaccine efforts
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed a “Saturday Night Live” skit that claimed that Israel only vaccinated “the Jewish half” of its population.

“This is just outrageous,” Netanyahu said during an interview Thursday on “Fox & Friends” when asked about the cringe-worthy comedy routine.

“It’s so false.”

“In fact, I brought vaccines and went especially to the Arab communities, the Arab citizens of Israel, and vaccinated as many as we can. I must have gone to half a dozen Arab communities already, talked with the mayors there, brought the leaders, brought the doctors there – Arab doctors,” he said.

The segment last month on the show’s “Weekend Update” prompted accusations that the joke was anti-Semitic and sparked protests outside the NBC studios.

“Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half,” Michael Che said.

Former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind was among those blasting Che at the time for the skit’s ignorance.

“But Michael Che or whoever wrote that ‘joke’ is obviously also ignorant of fact that Israel has Arab citizens who’ve received the vaccine according to the same qualifications as Jews!,” he wrote on Twitter.​


Why do medical dramas perpetuate stereotypes of Orthodox Jews? - opinion
Why are these shows glorifying medical malpractice and the denial of religious rights? “House” outright equates being religious with mental illness, and a throwaway line in the “Grey’s Anatomy” episode asks why anybody would bother with Orthodoxy — “why couldn’t you be plain old Reform like everyone else we know?” In each case, Orthodoxy is portrayed as unreasonable, as a conflict that must be overcome.

So many things about these episodes make me angry. Why do none of these Jewish characters ever call and consult their rabbis? That would be the first thing most frum people would do when facing a complicated medical or ethical issue. And why are these shows making broad, sweeping, uninformed claims about things like kashrut or the use of birth control in religious communities?

These examples aren’t as dangerous as the clip from “Nurses,” which portrays religious Jews as horribly Islamophobic and misogynistic — a storyline that surely doesn’t help Hasidim in a climate that is already so hostile toward them. But each of these episodes frame Orthodoxy as backward and unwilling to change, and frame Orthodox people as fanatics willing to die for their bigoted beliefs.

The writers fail to understand Orthodox Judaism while relying on Orthodox Jews as a cheap plot device. Maybe they look at the huge number of mitzvot (commandments) that are observed by Orthodox Jews and conclude that it’s a rigid, unchangeable structure. They don’t understand that breaking Shabbat to save a life is not only allowed but mandatory.

In our tradition, there are only three sins you must die for committing: idolatry, murder and adultery. The concept of pikuach nefesh (saving a life) overrides virtually every commandment. Judaism values the sanctity of human life over almost everything else. Your rabbi would encourage you to take a porcine valve or the bone graft. My mother likes to quote one of her favorite rabbis quite regularly. She says: We’re meant to live by our Judaism, not die by it. It’s about time these TV shows got that memo.

I understand the need to write good TV and create conflict. I understand (although do not agree with) the desire for out-of-the-box, exotic characters. But if you cannot construct a story without misunderstanding and misrepresenting an entire demographic of people, then it’s simply a story you have no right to tell.


Coronavirus: Israel is opening on Sunday - here are the details
The country is opening up further on Sunday, according to a decision by the government. This is the third stage of Israel’s exit strategy.

While at first health officials were recommending slowing down Israel’s opening given the reproduction rate (R) that has been holding around one, the government decided to move forward. As such, more children will return to school and additional commerce and recreation will be available to the public.

Entry into many of the new offerings are subject to a green passport, which can be obtained through the Health Ministry for anyone who has been fully vaccinated with two shots for at least a week. Children under the age of 16, who are not allowed to be vaccinated, will not be able to accompany their vaccinated parents.

Here is what will change on Sunday:
Schools - Students in grades 7-10 will return to their classrooms in green and yellow cities and those “light orange” cities in which at least 70% of people over the age of 50 are vaccinated or recovered
Restaurants and cafes - Green passport holders will be able to sit indoors or outdoors, non-vaccinated people will be able to sit outside. Restaurants and cafes will operate according to the Purple Ribbon outline.

Hotels - Will now open beyond the rooms and provide a full range of activities for green passport holders
Event halls, attractions, conferences - Open to green passport holders

Gathering limits - 20 inside, 50 outside (except in red areas where the limit remains 10 and 20, respectively)

Airports - 3,000 Israelis will be able to enter the country per day, in accordance with an aviation schedule established by the Transportation and Health ministries
As transmission rate rises above 1, virus czar says 4th lockdown a possibility
Israel could yet be forced to enter a fourth lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus ahead of the upcoming general election, set for March 23, a senior health official suggested on Friday.

He spoke as the country’s virus transmission rate inched passed 1, indicating the pandemic is once again expanding its spread, according to Health Ministry data.

“We are concerned about the increase in infection in the coming days,” coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told 103FM Radio, adding that “if we don’t act responsibly, and if [citizens] don’t follow the guidelines, the possibility of a fourth lockdown before the election exists.”

Asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement to Fox News on Thursday that the pandemic was in Israel’s rearview mirror, Ash said: “I don’t know what the prime minister meant.”

Ministry figures showed the virus’s basic reproduction number, or R-number, was at 1.01 Friday morning. The R-number is the number of new cases stemming from each coronavirus infection, or the number of people who caught the virus from each infected person. Any number lower than 1 means the pandemic is slowing down, while a number above 1 means it is expanding. The figures are based on new case numbers from 10 days earlier due to the virus’s incubation period.

The R-number had been below 1 since late January.

However, coronavirus testing also showed its lowest positivity rate in months, with some 3,600 tests coming back positive Thursday out of 92,000 tests — or some 4 percent.
Only 100,000 Israelis over 50 left to be vaccinated - new data
The reproduction rate (R) has started to stabilize around the number one, worrying health officials who know that if the rate passes one infection will once again start to spread.

At the same time, despite warnings by the Coronavirus Knowledge and Information Center, there has not been any major outbreak.

The center warned in a Friday report that Israel could be on the verge of another outbreak, with the next stage of reliefs set to be rolled out on Sunday while around 5% of people tested per day have a positive result. Though it noted that even if the number of new cases increases, it is unlikely Israel will see a spike in serious cases due to vaccination.

According to Eran Segal, a computational biologist for the Weizmann Institute of Science, before vaccination, around 27% of new daily cases were 19 years or older and today around 47% of cases fall in that age range. In contrast, 25% of new cases were 50 years or older before the vaccines. Now, only 11% of new cases are in that age range.

The number of Israelis getting the jab, although decreasing in terms of how many people get vaccinated per day, continues to be striking. So far, the Health Ministry showed Friday, more than 4.9 million Israelis have been inoculated with at least one shot, among them more than 3.6 million who have had their second shot.

Segal tweeted that 90% of people over the age of 16 in the general sector have recovered from the virus or had one dose of the vaccine. Some 70% of haredim and 67% of Arabs have also had one dose.
Are COVID-19 vaccines the key to world power?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisions to exchange COVID-19 vaccines for an Israeli woman jailed in Syria and to offer doses to allies as a sign of gratitude are part of a shifting dynamic in which a medical serum will join energy and arms as an effective tool in wielding world power.

While economics and diplomacy have forever been intertwined, the commodities of 2021 have shifted. Today, COVID-19 vaccines are the most precious resource on the market. And some of the countries that have them are using them to strengthen and accelerate their global influence.

“The newest entry to the pandemic lexicon might be ‘vaccine diplomacy,’ with some countries using their jabs to strengthen regional ties and enhance their own power and global status,” Dr. Michael Jennings of the SOAS University of London told The Jerusalem Post.

While it is unlikely that vaccine diplomacy will shift world power on its own, according to Eckart Woertz, a professor of contemporary history and politics of the Middle East at the University of Hamburg, it has undeniably become another “aspect of a growing power competition” between China, Russia and the West.

Take what happened with Bolivia. As the country struggled to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, its incoming president, Luis Acre, turned to Russia for help.

“It was a really marathon task,” said Bolivian trade minister Benjamin Blanco of the procurement quest in an interview with a Japanese newspaper, The Japan Times, “but Russia’s political will made it possible.”

He said that Western vaccines makers had told the country that it would have to wait until June to receive any doses. As such, Bolivia secured enough shots from Russia to start inoculating its population in mid-January.
MSNBC Coverage of Israel’s Vaccine Rollout Still Leaves Room for Further Improvement
MSNBC and its parent company, NBCUniversal, have been under a spotlight lately for poor coverage of Israel and Jews in both their news and entertainment divisions. A March 3 segment on MSNBC’s evening news program The Beat with Ari Melber, while a significant improvement over some of that network’s past coverage, still contained numerous material omissions of critical facts about Israel, the Palestinians, and the Covid vaccine.

The overall tone of Melber’s segment on Israel and the vaccine was favorable, accurately portraying Israel as a world leader in vaccinating its public. Viewers learned – some of them probably for the first time – that Israel is about the size and population of New Jersey, and Israel’s universal health care system was lauded.

Melber reported, “Israel now has the record for fastest vaccination campaign across the world. Nine out of ten seniors vaccinated, over half the population has at least one dose.”

After introducing his guest, Wall Street Journal reporter Felicia Schwartz, he correctly shared that, “something that’s gotten some notice as we look at this country and this example, Israel will begin, they say, vaccinating Palestinians with Israeli work permits this weekend, and they provided the Palestinian authority with, they say, 2,000 vaccine doses. Another 3,000 coming, but there are another four million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” He then asked Schwartz, “this has been widely debated as a piece of the wider conflict that everyone, I think, is familiar with in the region. What is your reporting and what is your view on the equities and human rights considerations there?”

Schwartz responded:
So it’s been a huge debate here. Beginning this Sunday, Israel will vaccinate, it’s about 120,000 Palestinians who have Israeli work papers. They either work inside of Israel or in Israeli settlements. And it’s been the recommendation of health ministry officials as well as Israeli companies who employee Palestinian workers one, to vaccinate these workers, but also to vaccinate the West Bank and also Gaza more broadly for both humanitarian reasons, but also because these societies are very commingled. And, I think it’s the WHO and others like to say, no one is safe until everyone is safe. So I’m not sure where this debate will come down, but there is obviously a long history of conflict here, and there are sensitivities involved, but there is a lot, I think, under way.
Guardian omits Palestinian vaccine obligations under Oslo
A March 3rd Guardian article (“Denmark under pressure to drop plans to work with Israel on vaccines”) included the following:
Human rights organisations have argued that international law requires Israel to provide Palestinians with similar access to vaccines as its own citizens.

However, whilst providing the view of “human rights” organisations, the article, by the Guardian’s Brussels Bureau Chief Daniel Boffey, omitted the fact that many argue that the Oslo Accords (specifically, Article 17) clearly calls for the Palestinian Authority to provide vaccines to Palestinians.

This omission is notable because even the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent consistently includes this information, to provide balance, when writing about the vaccine row.

Here’s one example from a recent Guardian article:
Israeli officials claim that under the 1990s-era Oslo peace accords, the authority, which has limited self-rule, is responsible for vaccinating Palestinians.
Moroccan Jews reflect on their heritage and tradition post-normalization with Israel
Experts in global Jewish history believe that highlighting minority voices within the Jewish community has the power to honor its nuances and interconnectedness. JNS’s new series highlighting Jewish ethnic minorities aims to elevate their voices, and in turn, celebrate the beautiful mosaic that is the Jewish people.

In December, the Kingdom of Morocco agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel, following the success of the Abraham Accords between three Arab countries (the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan) and the Jewish state.

The normalization of ties has already resulted in the reopening of Israeli and Moroccan liaison offices with the intention of opening reciprocal embassies in Rabat and Tel Aviv. The country has become the first to start teaching Jewish history and culture in its schools. Official contacts, economic cooperation, and direct and overnight flights between the two countries are also in the works.

According to Moroccan Jewish leader Rabbi Gad Bouskila of the Orthodox Netivot Israel Synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y. (the first Moroccan Jewish community in the state), the recent normalization has made the Moroccan Jewish community in North America “very happy” for each of their homelands.

“We visit Morocco often, so this relationship will allow many young Moroccans born in Israel, who were not yet able to travel to Morocco, to see the roots of their grandparents,” he told JNS.
Middle East needs to learn lessons from the Holocaust - opinion
Despite this, Europeans have moved past their negative history and called up the positive aspects that unite, gather and enable them to achieve their common interests, whereas the Islamic world has devolved into a series of movements, organizations and groups made up of masses of closed-minded, dark-hearted members who have proved themselves to be creative in their efforts to destroy, ruin, terrorize and intimidate people.

A delusional vision has dominated the attitudes and directions of some contemporary thinkers and educators, especially those working with the political parties that use religion to attain political purposes. These parties believe that history and heritage comprise one solid bloc that is perfect, ideal and always successful, a source of pride for all.

These same people believe that if we want to advance, we have to revive history, follow it, apply its models and means, and commit ourselves to the act of repeating it. Therefore, we find that followers of the movements and parties that hijacked Islam, to “defend” it, claiming to speak in Islam’s name, believe in repeating history and reviving historical models of thought in terms of culture, politics, economy and the organization of societies.

Unfortunately, those who dominate the contemporary consciousness of Muslims impose one version of history, transforming history and heritage into a prison; a closed circle from which Muslim communities cannot escape. However, they must liberate themselves from the burdens of history to move ahead toward the future.

European civilization has used history, however harsh, as a starting point from which to transform into a global civilization, and it’s time we, the Arab world, must too. While the Muslim world and European civilizations had shared interests in science, mathematics and philosophy, they took very different paths.

Curriculums must be reevaluated, teaching methodology updated. We must understand that it is not against Islam to better understand the non-Islamic world, to learn better that we are all one, we are all humanity, whatever our creed or caste.

Educational reform will be key to ensuring the future generation does not grow up blinkered like the generation of today, hidden from or denied the chance to see the world as a whole, instead of a few chapters chosen to be shared.

Whether history is tearing us apart as Muslims, or pitting Muslims against non-Muslims, we need to change this limited narrative and bravely move forward embracing the good and bad of humanity’s past, to move bravely into its future. Our only option is to live together and this is why coexistence is vital to create a better future for everyone in our region.
Cornel West and Stealth Anti-Semitism at Harvard
The IHRA definition does not criminalize speech; what it does do, however, is enable university leaders to reject false claims that virulent anti-Israel activism is simply “criticism of Israel,” and call it what it is and what its pernicious effects are: that if the behavior of individuals on campus involves “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” and “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel”—opinions and accusations that West has himself expressed and which regularly animate the ideology of anti-Israel campus activists—then those expressions are not mere political commentary but are, in fact, anti-Semitic.

In 2014, for example, as Israel was conducting Operation Protective Edge against Hamas as a result of the terrorist group’s bothersome habit of showering Southern Israeli towns with rockets and mortars in an ongoing campaign to murder Jews, West astoundingly described the operation as “Israeli state terrorism in action and its Jewish racism in motion.”

At the same time, West was careful to sidestep any comments that might be perceived to be anti-Jewish even while he outrageously asserted that “[Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal not because he is Jewish but because he has chosen to promote occupation and annihilation."

More recently, West was a featured speaker at a February 2020 event entitled “Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine,” an event which called on Harvard to “Disclose direct and indirect investments in companies complicit in human rights abuses towards Palestinians” and to “Divest all direct and indirect holdings in these companies,” claiming that “Palestinians live under apartheid” and that the “recent ‘peace’ plan proposed by the Trump administration legitimizes this occupation of Palestinian land and restricts 4 million Palestinians to mere slivers of land simply because they are not Jewish.”

West, of course, is conflicted because he must deal with competing victimhoods: one is his own as a black man and the other is that of Jews for their historical and chronic persecution and the continuing existence of anti-Semitism as manifested in enmity toward the Jew of nations, Israel. How, then, do you deprive Jewish Israelis of the insulation of victimhood? By accusing them of being racists. By claiming that they maintain and utilize a system of apartheid against the ever-aggrieved Palestinians. By accusing them of being guided by the racist ideology of Zionism and employing it as weapon through which an indigenous people are subjugated, ethnically cleansed, and exterminated as part of the pursuit of a Greater Israel free of any non-Jewish, brown people. By suggesting, grotesquely, that they are the modern incarnation of the Third Reich, Nazi-like in their behavior towards the Palestinians.

Others at Harvard participate in the campaign to delegitimize and slander Israel and, like West, they seek to malign the Jewish state and Zionism but also wish to not be characterized as anti-Semites when their ideas and behavior are judged by the IHRA definition. To game the system by which they will be exposed as bigots, anti-Israel activists resist any attempt to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and they wish to continue their incessant slandering of Israel without having to answer back to those pro-Israel individuals who call them on their attitudes. They wish to loathe and denounce the Jewish state and Jewish self-determination but not be called anti-Semites.

While West suggested that his criticism of Israel cost him his tenure bid when Jews had him punished him for his alleged bigotry, others at Harvard, such as members of the board of the Harvard Technology Review (HTR), of all things, wish to delineate very clearly what they believe to be the vast difference between Zionism-hatred and Jew-hatred, even though such subtleties are lost on the targets of that bigotry: Jews themselves.


Alan Dershowitz: The New McCarthyism Comes to Harvard Law School
This self-serving defense of censorship is intended to convey a crass economic threat: if you want to get a good job after law school, make sure that Harvard bans teachers and speakers who are trying to "rehabilitate their reputations and obscure the stain of their complicity in the Trump administration...."

One would also think that signatories would be aware that if these vague criteria — anti-democratic, racists, xenophobic and immoral — were applied across the board, they would result in bans on anyone who was associated with the current regimes in China, Cuba, Turkey, Belarus, Russia, Venezuela, the Palestinian Authority and other repressive governments.

It would also apply to supporters of American anti-democratic and anti-free speech groups, such as Antifa, and the very organization — People's Parity Project — that is promoting this anti-free speech petition. Indeed, historically, repression and censorship have been directed primarily against the left.

The Harvard Law School petition is directed only at Trump supporters, not supporters of left wing anti-democratic repression, either here or abroad. It is based on the assumption that there is a special "Trump exception" to freedom of speech and due process. But exceptions to free speech and academic freedom for some risk becoming the rule for all.

Much of this effort to exclude Trump supporters from campuses comes from individuals and organizations that also demand more "diversity." But their definition of diversity is limited to race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. It does not extend to the central mission of universities: to hear and learn from the widest array of views, perspectives, ideologies and political preferences.
Report: U.S. College Groups Have Assisted A Designated Terrorist Org
A new report alleges that U.S. college groups have assisted a Palestinian terrorist organization in promoting its messaging.

According to a new report from the Clarion Project, a research organization established to expose extremist ideologies, U.S. campus organizations that claim to fight for the rights of Palestinians have assisted groups with direct links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization backed by the Iranian government.

PFLP is listed as a designated terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Israel. Its stated goal is to destroy the State of Israel and remove Western capitalism from the Middle East.

According to the State Department, the PFLP is responsible for killing three Americans in Jerusalem in 2014 and more than 20 U.S. citizens in airplane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s.

The PFLP operates internationally by establishing proxy groups that appear far less menacing, but have direct ties to terrorism. In 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department said that “in many cases, these organizations are fraudulent or sham charitable organizations; they are established with purported charitable aims but operate almost solely to facilitate terrorist financing or support for a terrorist group.”

Addameer, a group that has a presence on U.S. college compuses, is a non-governmental institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in both Israel and Palestinian prisons. The organization’s activities include providing free legal representation for Palestinian prisoners and detainees — including convicted terrorists — and ensuring that prisoners have rights to medical assistance and education.

The Clarion Project’s report alleges that some of Addameer’s board members and staff are also connected to the PFLP. For example, the Director of Addameer, Sahar Francis, allegedly has close ties to Ahmad Saadat who was the PFLP’s Secretary-General before he was imprisoned by Israel for killing Israeli citizens and planning the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Zeevi.


Fury as South African Chief Justice is Ordered to Apologize for Pro-Israel Comments
South Africa’s chief justice has been ordered by a judicial oversight committee to apologize publicly for criticisms he made last year of his government’s hostile stance toward the State of Israel.

On Thursday, South Africa’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC) — which investigates complaints made against judges — found Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng guilty of misconduct for comments made at an online seminar in June 2020, in which he appeared alongside South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein. Mogoeng invoked his Christian faith as the reason for his “love” of Israel, criticizing the South African government for maintaining close diplomatic ties with the country’s former colonizers while frequently attacking the Jewish state.

“Did Israel take away our land or the land of Africa? Did Israel take our mineral wealth? We’ve got to move from a position of principle here,” Mogoeng declared at one point during the seminar, which was hosted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

In the days that followed the seminar, Mogoeng remained defiant in the face of strident condemnation of his support for Israel.

“Even if 50 million people were to march every day for 10 years for me to do so, I would not apologize,” he told local media outlets on July 6, 2020. “If I perish, I perish.”

The JSC’s decision followed three complaints against Mogoeng lodged by three pro-Palestinian organizations, including the South Africa BDS Coalition, which advocates a complete boycott of Israel and supports the goal of eliminating the Jewish state.

The committee summarily rejected the argument that Mogoeng’s comments were protected by constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship. The chief justice had quoted several passages from the Bible before telling the seminar, “I cannot as a Christian do anything other than love and pray for Israel, because I know hatred for Israel by me can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation.”
German Muslim Leader Resigns After Socialist Group Exposes His Online Antisemitic Campaign
The head of an influential Turkish Muslim association in Germany resigned from his position on Thursday after his antisemitic social media postings were exposed by a left-wing group, vowing at the same time to clear his name.

Mustafa Keskin — the chairman of the branch of DITIB, a Turkish religious group, in the university city of Göttingen — tendered his resignation after his posts on various social media platforms were brought to light by Die Falken (The Falcons), a socialist youth organization.

In a post on its website headlined “Against All Antisemitism,” the left-wing group said that it had been “horrified to discover that Mustafa Keskin, chairman of the Turkish Islamic Community of Göttingen, spreads antisemitic hate messages and conspiracy myths on WhatsApp and Facebook, incites against Kurds and Armenians, and refers positively to Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The group noted that Keskin’s “current WhatsApp profile features a picture depicting Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the ‘old’ and ‘new’ puppets, respectively, of investment bankers and, in the picture, ‘puppet master’ Jacob Rothschild.”

“The Rothschild family has long functioned in antisemitic conspiracy myths and worldviews as a codeword for ‘the Jews,’ who dominate governments and the world through financial markets,” the group explained.

Keskin’s Facebook page, meanwhile, had featured “antisemitic and anti-Israel posts and images since 2013,” the group reported. “In one personal post, for example, Israeli soldiers are referred to as ‘Jewish dogs,’ while other images and posts suggest that Jews and Israelis would specifically kill children. In addition, Keskin repeatedly uses identifying marks of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Keskin also makes derogatory comments toward Armenians and Kurds.”
Robert Halfon slams Bristol University inaction over Miller, saying 'history teaches us where this ends'
The MP Robert Halfon has launched a scathing attack on Bristol University's failure to act over the conduct of Professor David Miller, suggesting "Jewish students are clearly not welcomed or safe or valued - and sadly history teaches us where this ends."

Speaking during Business Questions, the Education Select Committee chair referred to complaints made by Jewish students about the sociology professor's remarks and claimed "the university management cares nothing, sees nothing and does nothing about this.

"They appear to regard Jewish students as an inconvenience and a nuisance and refuse to take serious action."

Asking for an "urgent statement" from the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg on the issue, the Harlow Tory MP said he had written to the vice chancellor of Bristol University this week to raise his concern at the failure to respond to Jewish student's complaints.

Responding, Mr Rees-Mogg confirmed he had passed the matter on to the Secretary of State and to the Universities Minister."We expect higher education providers to be at the forefront of tackling antisemitism, making sure it is a fulfilling experience for everyone," said the Leader of the Commons.

He also stressed the need for universities to have "robust policies and procedures in place" to swiftly investigate allegations of hate crimes.

In his letter to Professor Hugh Brady, the University of Bristol's President and Vice-Chancellor, Mr Halfon wrote that he was "extremely concerned that young Jewish students feel they are not supported by the University of Bristol and have had to go to such lengths to make themselves heard."
Canadian newspaper deletes op-ed comparing COVID lockdown to Anne Frank’s ordeal
The Globe and Mail, a leading Canadian newspaper, has taken down an opinion piece comparing COVID-19 lockdowns to Anne Frank’s experience as a hidden child during the Holocaust.

The piece was originally titled “I’m channeling Anne Frank’s spirit in lockdown,” and was published Wednesday by a contributing writer. The title was later changed before the piece was eventually deleted.

The essay acknowledged that Frank, who was hidden from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam for more than two years, was more confined than people currently experiencing COVID lockdowns.

Frank was 15 when she and her sister were killed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her posthumously published diary has become one of the most widely-read accounts of the Holocaust.

“As my COVID fatigue has gotten the better of me in recent weeks I started to say to myself, ‘What would Anne do?’ or ‘How would Anne describe this time?’ and ‘How would she cope?’” the Globe and Mail piece said.

Following backlash on social media, the Globe and Mail apologized and said the piece had been taken down.
BBC NEWS COVERAGE OF TERRORISM IN ISRAEL – FEBRUARY 2021
The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during February 2021 shows that throughout the month a total of 92 incidents took place: 67 in Judea & Samaria, 24 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and one in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 80 attacks with petrol bombs, eight attacks using pipe bombs, one rock-throwing attack and two stabbing/assault attacks. In the Gaza Strip sector one shooting attack was recorded.

One civilian was injured in a rock throwing attack near Qalqilya on February 1st.

Visitors to the BBC News website during February saw no reporting whatsoever on the subject of Palestinian terrorism and in fact the last time any such coverage appeared was five months ago, in September 2020.
UK school apologizes after homework assignment blames Jews for killing Jesus
The director of a British educational website has apologized for and pulled offline a homework assignment in which Jews were blamed in the killing of Jesus.

Chris Spolton, who runs the Topmarks site, removed the assignment earlier this week following a complaint by a mother, Joanne Bell. Her 7-year-old son had been instructed by his religious studies teacher at school to complete the assignment before Bell saw it and flagged it on social media, the Daily Mail reported Thursday.

“What harm has it ever done to portray Jews as bloodthirsty and solely responsible for the death of the believed son of G-d, Jesus,” she tweeted sarcastically.

The school whose teacher gave the assignment also apologized to Bell.

The assignment included a slide titled “The Trial of Jesus” saying that “the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to be guilty” and “paid people to lie about him” and had him taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, on charges of insulting God. A second slide describes Pilate as bowing to the will of the Jewish masses and their “chief priests, who wanted Jesus to die,” before agreeing to have Jesus crucified.

The Catholic Church in a 1965 document titled Nostra Aetate asserted that “the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ” but that this cannot be “charged” against Jews today or all the Jews who were alive during the Crucifixion.

Spolton made the slides 20 years ago when he was “young and naive,” he wrote to Bell, and “based on books found in the local library.”
‘Annihilation’ of Poland’s Jewish cemeteries documented in provocative book
Most people assume that Poland’s destroyed Jewish burial grounds were desecrated by the Nazis. An expert on Jewish cemeteries in Poland, however, said Polish citizens likely did more damage after the war than the country’s German occupiers.

Called “The Annihilation of Jewish Cemeteries,” author Krzysztof Bielawski’s book — available in Polish — examines the erasure of Poland’s Jewish cemeteries since World War II. So far, no book has linked Nazi-era destruction to the ensuing decades, said Bielawski, who is seeking Hebrew and English publishers.

“This work disproves a few myths, including the supposed mass destruction of cemeteries during Kristallnacht and a very common saying that ‘cemeteries were totally destroyed by Germans,’” said Bielawski in an interview with The Times of Israel.

“In fact, even if a cemetery was devastated by the Nazis during the war, it was also destroyed by the local population,” said Bielawski. “Giant destruction was done by the post-war Polish state.”

About 20 years ago, when he was working as a travel agent in Warsaw, Bielawski, who is not Jewish, became fascinated with Jewish history. After creating a website about Jewish cemeteries in Poland, he pursued Jewish studies at the graduate level and joined the staff of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in 2009.

During his years of research, Bielawski has found himself in the spotlight. Ten years ago, he reported that Jewish tombstones were used to build a Red Army plot in Warsaw’s municipal cemetery. Media attention helped spur the transfer of the tombstones to the adjacent Brodno Jewish cemetery, where they “were broken up by the homeless who live in the cemetery,” said Bielawski.
Israeli robotic arms get FDA nod for minimally invasive hysterectomies
Memic Innovative Surgery, a medical device company, said it has received marketing authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for a robotic surgical device it has developed to perform transvaginal hysterectomies in patients.

The Hominis Surgical System developed by Memic features miniature humanoid-shaped robotic arms. It is intended for benign hysterectomy, or the removal of the uterus for non-cancerous conditions along with the removal of one or both fallopian tubes and ovaries.

“We are providing physicians and patients another minimally-invasive gynecologic surgical option for non-cancerous conditions,” said Dr. Binita Ashar, director of the Office of Surgical and Infection Control Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement on March 1. “The FDA continues to support advancements in safe and effective medical devices that can improve patient experiences when undergoing surgical procedures.”

Robotically assisted (RASD) surgical devices are not actually robots, the FDA explained in the statement. The devices cannot perform surgery without direct human control. RASD enable a surgeon to use computer and software technology to control and move surgical instruments through one or more tiny incisions in the patient’s body in a variety of surgical procedures or operations.
NBA Legend Charles Barkley Jokes About Losing Weight for the Hora at His Daughter’s Jewish Wedding
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has lost weight to make sure guests at his daughter’s upcoming wedding to a Jewish entrepreneur can lift him up on a chair during the hora, he joked on Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-5 former professional basketball player, 58, told Jimmy Kimmel on his talk show, “I’ve been really working out hard because apparently they’ve got to pick me up in a chair” for the traditional Jewish dance. The “Inside the NBA” analyst added, “Listen, I need all Jewish people on deck, brother. Cause I can only get so skinny by Saturday, man. It’s like I’m a soldier, all hands on deck.”

Cristiana Barkley — Barkley’s only daughter with wife Maureen Blumhardt — is marrying Ilya Hoffman, founder of the digital marketing company DemandByte, on Saturday.

Barkley said he’s “so excited” about the upcoming nuptials and that he gets along with the groom’s family, telling Kimmel, “I love his family. They’re amazing people. They’ve been living in Long Island for a long time and it’s gonna be a welcome addition to my family.”
Bahrain makes unique kippah
During last week's unprecedented Purim event hosted by the AGJC a series of unique Bahraini Kippahs were on display. Ambassador Houda Nonoo wrote on Twitter, "wow, so many of you have reached out asking about the Bahraini Kippahs from last week's Purim event, and yes, these one-of-a-kind kippahs are made right here in #Bahrain. You can reach out to LilyB.of.LP.Bahrain@gmail.com for more information about them."

“Over the last few months, we’ve experienced an influx of Jewish tourists who are coming to Bahrain and want to visit our synagogue (the oldest in the Gulf) and Jewish cemetery (the only operational one in the Gulf) and that interest has further increased since the announcement of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities last month,” said Ambassador Houda Nonoo. “When they come visit, they often look for a souvenir to remember their time here. My cousin, Haydee Nonoo designed these kippot as a tribute to her late mother, Lily Bendahan.”

The red and white kippahs, the same colors of the Bahrain flag, are one of many firsts in the region. The head coverings say "House of Ten Commandments" on them. "The Jewish community in Bahrain devised a special souvenir idea for Jewish visitors and sewed the dome of the 'Ten Commandments' named after the synagogue in Bahrain, Bahrain," a new report notes at Bhol.co.il .

The kippahs are designed for “House of the Ten Commandments” which is the name of the synagogue in Manama (Bahrain).

“We designed these kippahs in honour of our late mother, Lily, to whom Jewish traditions and values were a significant part of family life, and who loved visiting Bahrain, the kippahs are hand made locally in Bahrain, and all proceeds will go towards charitable causes in her memory,” said Haydee Nonoo, founder of Lily B of LP Bahrain.







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