Tuesday, March 16, 2021

From Ian:

A New Zionist Congress Is Born
Defiant Jewish undergraduates are forming their own national organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and promoting Jewish pride. Join us.

In this new world order, nobody is surprised when a majority of students at Tufts University vote to pass a referendum blaming racist police violence in the United States on the State of Israel. In this new world order, it’s not cause for alarm when an Israeli restaurant in Portland, Oregon, is forced to remove all mention of Israel from its menus and signs, but still gets vandalized with graffiti that reads “eat shit” and “falafel is from Palestine.”

In this new world order, no one blinks when the organizers of a rally against police brutality in New York City say it’s “open to all, minus cops and Zionists.”

In this new world order, the first draft of California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum listed the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Movement as a domestic civil rights issue and defined the Jewish people through the lens of colonialism and whiteness.

In this new world order, a professor at the University of Bristol can accuse his own Jewish students of being henchmen in a Zionist plot to silence left-wing professors, and still win the support of hundreds of “progressive” colleagues around the world, including Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler.

In this new world order, a man can walk into a kosher supermarket in Michigan and taunt its Jewish customers by asking them to read “Free Palestine” on his phone, post the video to Instagram, and receive hundreds of thousands of likes and comments from adoring fans.

This is the insidious hatred students like me are dealing with on campus. Yet I’ve had professionals call me, their voices shaking, worried that they might get shamed on Twitter by college students if I use their platform to speak freely about what is actually causing anti-Semitism at school. This is all part of a desperate need to sit at the table with those who style themselves as fighting for justice. The adults in the room beg us to reason with them, to explain to them what Judaism means to us and why we have a connection with Israel. “Allyship,” they preach, because the only way we’ll be accepted is if we are conceived as oppressed.

I’m sorry. If a Jew is called a Nazi on campus, is it really his or her responsibility to invite the offending student to share a bagel on the quad? If someone bans me from their organization, is it really my responsibility to, as one individual put it to me recently, “internalize ways in which I am not welcoming, and strive for a more intersectional approach to dialogues about oppression and power”? What the hell does that even mean? What other minority community would be forced to endure this jargon-filled hellscape? Every time Jews speak out about anti-Semitism, we're immediately told to endure a corporate diversity training seminar, one which concludes that it's still our fault for causing all the drama.

And yet for many in the Jewish community, this is a tolerable price to pay to sit at the table. Well, I don't want a seat at that table. I don’t want to be anywhere near that table. I am in fact determined to flip that table over.
At 80 years old, human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler is busier than ever
Unlike most other activists, Cotler might be lucky enough to have a direct line to the person handling U.S. foreign policy. He had a decades-long friendship with U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s stepfather, Samuel Pisar, a Holocaust survivor. “When I was a law professor at McGill, we inaugurated the Raoul Wallenberg Lectureship in Human Rights,” Cotler recalled. The first person to give that lecture was Elie Wiesel; the second was Pisar, sparking a friendship in which Cotler visited him at his homes in New York and in France.

But human rights work is only half of Cotler’s portfolio — he also has another full-time job, as Canada’s antisemitism envoy. He took the job pro bono, he said, with practically no budget, to handle a huge portfolio that includes both domestic and global antisemitism, domestic and global Holocaust remembrance, and chairing Canada’s delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. (Canada has adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, which Trudeau says is part of the nation’s “anti-racism strategy.”)

Cotler sees a straightforward connection between his two passions: the Jewish community and international human rights. “I take a human rights approach to combating antisemitism,” he explained. “While [bigotry] begins with Jews, it doesn’t end with Jews. So for me, all these things converge, and there’s a universal resonance, both of the lessons of the Holocaust and the combating antisemitism today.”

Some on the political left might call this framework intersectionality. But Cotler is not trying to apply a political ideology to his fight against antisemitism, and he says he feels fortunate that Canadians by and large do not politicize the issue. “People are not weaponizing antisemitism. You don’t have the right weaponize it against the left, and the left weaponizing it against the right,” he noted — unlike Canada’s neighbor to the south. “The big difference is Canada is not as polarized or as divided as the U.S.,” and “there still is a consensus.” His biggest concern is what he calls the “normalization” of antisemitism, where “it gets mainstream, and it doesn’t elicit the condemnation, or maybe the outrage, that it deserves.”

One of Cotler’s goals as Canada’s global antisemitism envoy is to address what he views as antisemitism at the United Nations, in the double standard he says the U.N. applies to Israel. “The rights of Israel deserve equal respect, not that human rights standards should not be applied to Israel. They must be. But these standards must be applied equally to everyone else,” Cotler said. He pointed out that Syria was recently appointed to a top position on the U.N.’s Special Committee on Decolonization, despite its well-documented history of brutal repression during the country’s civil war.

Cotler noted that some in the pro-Israel community who criticize the U.N.’s treatment of Israel simply oppose the institution entirely, but he is not among them. “If you’re Canadian, the United Nations is part of your DNA,” Cotler explained, noting that “human rights is a centerpiece of our foreign policy, [and] international law is part of my identity.”

His work truly is international: The cases currently in his docket include Badawi in Saudi Arabia, along with dissidents from China and Russia. During his conversation with JI, he received a call about a matter related to political persecution in Venezuela. “That’s another priority,” he said. For Cotler, every matter related to global injustice is a priority: “I get energized by the work.”

Editors' note: Below is a letter from the leaders of ZOA to the publishers of Obama's new book, “A Promised Land.” They point out all the falsehoods, lies and omissions about Israel in the book, and make a request for their correction.

We write on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the U.S. The ZOA is a leader in fighting against antisemitism and anti-Israel bias wherever these problems arise.

Having received complaints from our supporters and conducting our own review, we are deeply concerned about the factual inaccuracies, material omissions and outright falsehoods contained in one of your recent publications – “A Promised Land” by former U.S. President Barack Obama. The many errors are serious and damaging. The book has already reached and influenced millions of readers and will impact many more. We expect that this book will be assigned reading in schools and at colleges and universities, affecting how young people and future leaders perceive Israel. Obama’s many factual errors and misleading statements will likely be repeated and quoted in articles and other books. As a result, millions of people will be misled into drawing false and negative conclusions about Jews and Israel.

To paraphrase Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Obama is entitled to his own opinions about Israel, which he expresses in Chapter 25 of his book. But he is not entitled to his own facts.

We believe that you value the accuracy of your nonfiction books and support appropriate vetting because reportedly, you provide a stipend for your nonfiction authors to hire fact-checkers. Given the many factual errors that we have identified and outlined below, the fact-checking of “A Promised Land” was sloppily done, if it was done at all. Knowing that this book, written by a former U.S. president, would have enormous reach and influence, it was a mistake not to subject this book to the most scrupulous fact-checking possible.

To remedy the damage, we urge you to recall the books that have been printed so that the errors and material omissions are corrected. At a minimum, the necessary corrections should be made to the digital version and in future print editions. Furthermore, because this book is the first of two volumes, we urge you to include a chapter correcting volume one’s falsehoods and deficiencies at the beginning of volume two.
The Washington Post Uses Bad Social Science to Push Anti-Israel Propaganda
In two recent pieces, the paper touts surveys relying on biased academics and institutions.

The phrase “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” probably was not coined by Mark Twain, as is often claimed, but the Washington Post can claim this update on it: Today, there are four kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, and opinion polling. Just as polling can be corrupted by, for example, the wording of questions, journalism can be corrupted by “scientific polling,” particularly when it substantiates a publication’s anti-Israel bias. Two such cases appeared in the pages and website of the paper that warns on its front page, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Shine the light on these two egregious stories:
“What do ordinary Arabs think about normalizing relations with Israel?” by Dana El Kurd, October 26, 2020, citing the Arab Opinion Index

“Here’s how experts on the Middle East see the region’s key issues, our new survey finds,” by Marc Lynch and Shibley Telhami, February 16, 2021
Both columns were published by the Washington Post on its Monkey Cage blog, which is intended for academics and political scientists. The formerly independent blog signed a hosting agreement with the Washington Post in 2013 and now sits behind the Post’s paywall.

Propaganda Polling What is the Arab Opinion Index, cited by El Kurd in the Post? It is an annual survey conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar. That organization runs the Arab Center Washington DC, which publishes a stream of Qatari-oriented material and analyses distributed to Washington policy-makers and thought leaders. One recent example is an attack on Egypt’s Sisi regime, which overturned Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime. (Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood live in Qatar.)

“The vast majority of Arabs probably oppose normalization and express a high degree of support for Palestinian statehood and rights,” the think tank concluded, according to El Kurd, a researcher for the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies and an assistant professor at the Doha Institute. Another “scientific” conclusion was that “respondents were reluctant to answer direct questions. These findings suggest many Saudi respondents reject the idea of normalization with Israel but remain afraid to say so.”

That such a poll was produced by a Qatari organization and published by the Post is troubling. It appeared soon after the United States sealed the historic “normalization” agreements between Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. The pacts were harshly criticized by Iran, Qatar, the Palestinian Authority, and Obama-administration veterans. “The UAE and Bahrain . . . are among the most repressive governments in the Middle East,” El Kurd writes in the Post. “The UAE and Bahrain were not included in our survey, but we can get a sense of public opinion” (emphasis added). How serious is a poll that presents conclusions with terms such as “probably,” “suggest,” “we get a sense of public opinion”?

When the Post editors accepted this propaganda screed, did they also know that the director of the Qatari think tank is Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab and former member of the Knesset who fled Israel before arrest? He visited Lebanon and Syria in 2006 soon after the Second Lebanon War. Israel suspected him of treason and espionage for Hezbollah. He fled to Qatar, where he heads the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha. (h/t MtTB)
‘I Would Rather Cease to be Chief Justice’: Top South African Judge Reiterates Refusal to Apologize for Pro-Israel Comments
South Africa’s chief justice on Sunday rebuffed a demand that he publicly apologize for comments in which he criticized his country’s hostile policy toward the State of Israel, countering that he had not overstepped his authority as a judge in doing so.

Mogoeng Mogogeng told a prayer meeting on Sunday night that the constitutional provision invoked to censure him on four counts of misconduct had been misapplied. “That provision is about ensuring that while you are a judge, you can’t become a mayor, you can’t become a premier, you can’t become a minister, you can’t become a member of Parliament because you will then be exercising executive authority,” Mogoeng stated, saying that he had made his points about Israel as a South African “citizen.”

South Africa’s Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) — which investigates complaints made against judges — had found Mogoeng guilty on March 5 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 as a reincarnation of its former apartheid regime.

Mogoeng declared at Sunday’s prayer meeting that his comments on Israel had been made under divine instruction, confirming that he would not back down.

“I respect the law. I will not defy the law,” he said. “But if it does come to the point where I am forced to do the abominable, or I am forced to reject God, then I would rather be without money, be without any position. I will never refuse to obey the Lord.”

He elaborated: “If I get to the point where there is a judgment that says, ‘You must say you hate Israel and the Jews’, I would rather cease to be Chief Justice. If I get to the point where they say, ‘Mogoeng, you must say you hate the Palestinians and Palestine’, I would rather cease to be Chief Justice than to do it, because my God has instructed me to love and not to hate. I hate evil deeds, I don’t hate anybody.”

Why California’s Model Curriculum Fails Jews, and Jewish Students
California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) is currently on its fourth draft, partially a result of its original antisemitic references, which were removed after Jewish organizations intervened. The curriculum, which will be taught as a graduation requirement, is now close to completion, and due to be ratified imminently. Despite the revisions, students in California’s schools will only be educated about the characteristics and contributions of American Jews within the narrow parameters established by individuals with a political agenda that is — at best — ambivalent toward the Jewish community.

The title of the lesson dedicated to Jews is “Jewish Americans: Identity, Intersectionality, and Complicating Ideas of Race” (See Appendix A, page 494).

Almost the entire section focuses on the racial aspects of American Jewry, reflecting the worldview of the authors that American Jews are one dimensional and unworthy of further attention or deeper analysis on behalf of California’s students.

Given their obsessive attention to race, power, and privilege, the writers of the curriculum originally portrayed Jews as Americans who benefit from “conditional whiteness” and “white privilege.”

When leaders of the Jewish community complained about this portrayal, a compromise was reached; they removed the words “white privilege” but kept the words “conditional whiteness,” maintaining the essence of the message that Jews have social capital or protectia.

The focus on race remained central to the rest of the lesson as well, which focuses on the multiple races found within the Jewish community. For example, the lesson includes a video on Jewish and African-American food and identity, and facts such as, “The racial appearance of Jewish Americans is very diverse and can range from light skinned to Middle Eastern to Jews of color, including African American Jews, Asian American Jews, Latino/a/x Jews, and Native American Jews. Jewish families include multiracial households, and there are diverse appearances both within families and within communities.”

The lesson bears some relationship to the defining aspects of American Jews, who are, indeed, multi-racial. However, it leaves much to be desired, as it prioritizes the framework of the curriculum — categorizing all people according to their race and labeling them as either oppressors or victims –rather than paying tribute to the many dimensions of American Jews.

Most American Jews do not define themselves through a racial lens, as the current iteration of the curriculum suggests.
California school curriculum turns into Jewish-Arab battle of narratives
Race and ethnicity can be tricky topics to discuss, especially in the classroom. But the California Department of Education had no idea how heated the debate would get when it set out to draft a model ethnic studies curriculum for high schools throughout the US state.

The process took over two years, multiple versions, and drew nearly 100,000 public comments.

In one ongoing conflict, Jewish and pro-Arab groups have accused each other of discrimination and trying to silence each other’s histories.

Several authors of the original draft have demanded their names be stripped from the final version, saying it’s watered down and substandard. Their draft was criticized for taking a left-wing, biased and a politically charged view of history, including terms like “hxrstory” and “herstory.” It defined capitalism as a system of oppression and drew complaints from Jews, Koreans, Sikhs, Armenians and other ethnic and religious groups who said it left out their American experiences.

This week, the State Board of Education is expected to approve the final draft, an 894-page tome whose own history illustrates the challenges of crafting an ethnic studies curriculum at a time of racial reckoning and national division.

It also highlights some of the difficult questions educators will face in an era when America is redefining its heroes and asking whose stories should be told. More than three-quarters of California’s 6.2 million public school students are nonwhite.

“We’ve worked to bring justice to what we believe the ethnic studies movement to be about,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told reporters.

UCL Provost has apologised for saying he would allow a Holocaust denier to give speech to students
The Provost of University College London (UCL) has reportedly apologised for claiming that he would allow a Holocaust denier to speak to students.

Dr Michael Spence was asked during an interview with Times Radio last week whether his commitment to free speech went as far as allowing a Holocaust denier to address UCL students. He replied: “We would have anybody to speak who was invited by an academic or by a student so long as the speech was lawful and there weren’t going to be public order problems that we couldn’t control or whatever.”

He went on to say that the University “would have a responsibility to make sure its Jewish and other students were looked after, that the event took place in an environment in which other views were expressed.”

However, on Friday, in an apology, Dr Spence said: “The point I was trying to make was that UCL will allow free speech for all staff, students and visiting speakers providing it is within the law. Personally, I doubt that the views of a Holocaust denier would be lawful, and I believe that they ought not to be if they are but that was not the question put to me. I fully acknowledge the huge emotional impact that Holocaust denial has on Jewish and other members of the community. I will do my utmost to ensure UCL remains the kind of place in which such a speaker would never be invited and our university tackles anti-Semitism in all its forms. I apologise if my response to a hypothetical question could be understood as suggesting otherwise.”

The apology comes just weeks after the university’s Academic Board voted to “retract and replace” the International Definition of Antisemitism. One academic has resigned in disgust at the advisory motion whilst others have penned a letter urging the University to adopt the Definition.
Skidmore College Students Denied Trial Period for ‘Progressive Zionists for Peace’ Club
Two Skidmore College students accused the private university of political bias, after being denied a trial period on Saturday for their “Progressive Zionists for Peace” student club.

Nessa Goldhirsch Brown and another student asked the New York university’s Club Affairs Committee for a trial period after other clubs, including the Social Justice for Palestine club, were granted a trial period.

“Their reasoning was very hypocritical, confusing, and clear of a political bias against Israel. Zionism is an issue close to our hearts and we are enraged and disappointed that our school is clearly lenient towards some social/political issues but not others,” the club’s co-founder Goldhirsch Brown told The Algemeiner by email.

She said that Progressive Zionists for Peace aims to “create a space for pro-Israel, pro-peace students to organize to act together on behalf of a two-state solution and a more peaceful, secure, and democratic future for both Israelis and Palestinians.” The club also seeks to serve as a bridge for mutual understanding on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to educate Skidmore students on “peaceful Zionism,” and to combat antisemitism.

In the decision to reject the trial period application, the university’s Club Affairs Committee disclosed that “some members expressed concern that a dialogue focused club with one perspective being conveyed could be troublesome.” At the same time, the committee encouraged the students to reapply at the start of the next semester.

“The committee thinks that the group should try to either gain more diverse perspectives before becoming a club focused on dialogue or reframe the mission to be more advocate focused with a specific stance,” Skidmore College’s Sarah Baker wrote in the emailed decision.

Tony Greenstein charged with 'possessing an article with the intent to destroy property'
The anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein has been charged with possessing an article with the intent to destroy property after being arrested by police in the early hours last Tuesday morning.

The JC understands that Mr Greenstein was arrested along with other individuals by West Midlands Police officers.

Following an appearance at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court, the 67-year-old was remanded in custody.

A statement issued to the JC by Staffordshire Police on Monday confirmed: “A 67-year-old man from Brighton has been charged with possessing an article with the intent to destroy property after being arrested by colleagues at West Midlands Police in Walsall in the early hours of Tuesday 9 March 2021.

“Anthony Greenstein of Little Crescent, Rottingdean, has been remanded in custody following an appearance at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on Wednesday 10 March.”

On Tuesday Mr Greenstein was granted conditional bail at a hearing in Wolverhampton Crown Court.

I-24 Arabic Corrects Ahlam Tamimi Convicted (Not Accused) For Sbarro Bombing
CAMERA Arabic yesterday prompted correction of an i-24 Arabic report which erroneously stated that convicted murderer Ahlam Tamimi was merely “accused” of involvement in the deadly Sbarro bombing attack. Regarding the Interpol’s decision to drop the arrest warrant pending against Sbarro murderer Ahlam Tamimi, Israeli news channel i-24’s March 13 Arabic headline read: “Interpol drops arrest warrant against Jordanian woman Ahlam Tamimi, accused of the ‘Sbarro pizza’ restaurant bombing in Jerusalem.” (Emphasis added).

The accompanying article also described Tamimi as merely “accused of participation” in the August 2001 attack.

However, Tamimi is not just “accused” of participation in the Sbarro bombing; an Israeli court found her guilty of assisting the attack. Furthermore, she herself regularly boasts about her role in the attack, which killed 15 innocent civilians, including seven children and a pregnant woman. Another civilian victim remains in a coma to this day.

In response to communication from CAMERA Arabic, i24 news website, editors commendably corrected the article along with its headline. The amended headline now reads: “Interpol drops arrest warrant against Jordanian woman Ahlam Tamimi, convicted for the ‘Sbarro pizza’ restaurant bombing in Jerusalem.”

In addition, the body now reads that “An Israeli court convicted her for involvement in carrying out” the bombing attack. Regrettably, the article still fails to note that Tamimi herself admitted to her heinous deeds on several occasions and takes great pride in them even today, almost 20 years later.
Haaretz Corrects Jordan, Not Israel, Pulled Plug on Temple Mount Visit
The digital version of the same article had different wording. Its formulation was ambiguous and the grammar was not at all clear as to which side cancelled the visit: Jordan or Israel. The digital article reported:
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi told CNN that Jordan is “angry” with Israelafter it canceled a visit by Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday over a dispute regarding security arrangements at the site. Prince Hussein was meant to bring 50 security guards.

The Hebrew edition correctly reports (in print, page 1, March 15, CAMERA’s translation):
The previous day Jordanian crown prince Hussein cancelled his planned visit to the Temple Mount because of a disagreement over the security arrangements during the visit to the site.

In response to communication from CAMERA, Haaretz yesterday amended the digital article so that it now clearly states that Jordan cancelled the trip:
A day earlier, Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah canceled a planned visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound over a dispute regarding security arrangements at the site.

Moreover, Haaretz published the following correction today on page 2 of the print edition:
Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II cancelled a planned trip to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque after a disagreement with Israel over security arrangements, and not as published (“Report: PM shut airspace to Jordan amid UAE flight spat,” March 15).
Guardian places Israeli rap group in 'Palestine'
A March 11th Guardian article (“Gurrumul, Omar Souleyman, 9Bach and DakhaBrakha: the best global artists the Grammys forgot”) by Ian Brennan, on the lack of international inclusivity in the Grammy Awards global music category, cited some deserving bands from the Middle East, including this rap group:
However, the Da Arabian MCs are not from “Palestine”. They are an Israeli band, from Lod, near Tel Aviv. Though the band members clearly appear to identify as Palestinians, this doesn’t change the unambiguous fact that they are Israeli citizens and live in (pre-67) Israel – not in “Palestine”.

We’ve complained to Guardian editors about the error.
CTV Anchor Fawns Over Pro-Palestinian Propaganda Film
On March 13 at 3:25pm ET, CTV Anchor Angie Seth interviewed Farah Nabulsi, the Director of the pro-Palestinian propaganda film “The Present,” a film which as Nabulsi explains, portrays Israel as an “apartheid” state, which paints Israeli soldiers as brutes abusing innocent Palestinians, and which depicts Israeli security measures like “checkpoints” as a means of only inconveniencing Palestinians and violating their human rights.

No mention was made in the CTV interview about the unrelenting wave of Palestinian terror attacks that Israel faces on a daily basis. Whether rocket attacks, shooting rampages, knifings, kamikaze car rammings and suicide bombings. No mention was made of the over 1,000+ Israelis murdered and many thousands more who were maimed in these attacks in the past 20 years.

No mention was made about Israel’s need for security measures like checkpoints and Israel’s security barrier which is meant to safeguard innocent life on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

CTV’s Angie Seth said that “The Present” is a “beautiful film” and an “incredible short film” about love, happiness and desperation. “… it resonates, it will resonate among so many Canadians, so many news immigrants to this country, so many refugees.”

Nabulsi says the film is about the “basic human right about freedom of movement” that Israel denies due to its “military occupation and apartheid.” Nablusi says the film depicts present-day “occupied Palestine.”
Antisemitism is ‘Global Problem,’ Says UN Official in Virtual Conference on Fighting Anti-Jewish Hatred
A leading United Nations official called for greater international recognition of antisemitism and more focus on the role of social media in the spread of online hate, during a virtual conference hosted Monday.

“The majority of anti-Semitic attacks have taken place in Europe or the US, but our outreach efforts should extend beyond those regions to Africa, Asia and Latin America,” said Miguel Moratinos, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) at the Monday conference, Exploring Holistic Approaches to Combating Antisemitism.

Moratinos said that there is an “unanimous concern about social media” and that although there had been some progress, social media companies needed to do more to counter hate speech and develop tools on antisemitic terminology.

He also said that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by governments around the world, “may serve as guidance for preventive policies including law enforcement and education.”

“It is critical to exercise due diligence to ensure that freedom of expression is protected,” he continued. “At the same time it is equally important that any criticism directed towards the government of Israel is not used as an incitement towards Jews or sacred Jewish sites.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Moratinos in February 2020, to serve as the UN focal point for monitoring antisemitism and improving a system-wide response.
Austrian study finds 31% are biased against Jews — and that’s an improvement
In a survey of anti-Semitic attitudes in Austria, 31 percent of the 2,000 respondents agreed with statements that the poll’s authors said exemplified anti-Jewish biases — a significant drop in that sentiment from a similar study in 2018.

The Austrian government commissioned the survey from the Institute for Empirical Social Studies and presented the results on Friday.

In the 2018 study, 46% of respondents agreed with the statements on anti-Semitic biases and 49% responded in ways that suggested the absence of anti-Semitic bias, Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the National Council of Austria, the lower house of the country’s parliament, said at a news conference in Vienna.

The survey, titled “Austria — Antisemitism 2020 study — results analysis,” included statements such as “Jews today try to take advantage of the fact that they were victims during the Nazi era” (28% agreed) and “Jews have too much influence in Austria” (11%).

The findings of the government-funded surveys showed a significantly higher prevalence of anti-Semitism than previous polling by the Anti-Defamation League. In its 2014 and 2019 surveys in Austria for the Global 100 Index, the prevalence of anti-Semitic opinions was 28% and 20% respectively.

In the ADL index, Austria was among the countries with the highest prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes in Western Europe. Its index rating was higher than the regional rate of 24% and much higher than in countries with low rates of anti-Semitism, such as the Netherlands (5%) and the United Kingdom (8%). The ADL rating for the United States was 9%.

France to Return Klimt Painting Sold Under Duress During Nazi Era to Heirs of Jewish Family
France announced that it is to return a painting by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt to the heirs of the Jewish family that was forced to sell it by the Nazis, reported the BBC.

At an event at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said that restoring the painting to its rightful owners was “an ardent obligation.”

“The recent opening of archives in Austria and the work of historians have made it possible to trace precisely the origin of this painting, long hidden by those who have erased all traces of this affair,” she added.

The French state bought the artwork, the only Klimt in its possession, in 1980 and was reportedly unaware of its provenance.

The pre-war owner of “Rosiers sous les Arbres” (Rose Bushes Under the Trees) was Nora Stiasny, from a well-known Austrian Jewish family. She had inherited it from her uncle, the Austrian industrialist and art collector Viktor Zuckerkandl, according to the BBC.

As conditions worsened, Stiasny, who sold the painting in an attempt to survive, was forced to so at a knock-down price as the Nazi annexation of Austria occurred in 1938.

Stiasny was deported to Poland in 1942, where she is thought to have died in either the Izbica ghetto or the Belzec extermination camp.
Israel’s eToro to Go Public Through $10.4 billion SPAC Deal Backed by SoftBank, Others
Online stock brokerage eToro said on Tuesday it will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by banking entrepreneur Betsy Cohen in a $10.4 billion deal, with investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.

EToro competes with Robinhood, which has become hugely popular with young investors for its easy-to-use interface. Robinhood has emerged as a gateway for amateur traders challenging Wall Street hedge funds.

The deal with FinTech Acquisition Corp V, a special purpose acquisition company, will include a $650 investment from investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co LLC and Wellington Management.

Founded in 2007, eToro has 20 million registered users who can manually invest in cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities and more, while those who lack time or experience can automatically copy the trades of others on the platform.

Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are shell companies that use proceeds from an IPO to take private firms public. FinTech Acquisition Corp V’s shares jumped more than 15% before the bell.

Cohen, who founded Jefferson Bank and Bancorp Inc, is one of the prominent businesswomen who have joined the SPAC frenzy.
With light-up plants and email from spinach, lab turns over a new leaf on flora
Glowing trees that can replace street lights and spinach that can send out emails to warn of approaching danger sounds like the stuff of fantasy.

But a laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is pioneering what its lead scientist Prof. Michael Strano has named plant nanobionics, is bringing these things closer to reality.

Rather than tampering with genes to get plants to do certain things, plant nanobionics inserts miniscule pieces of machinery into them — tiny engineered particles that can access a plant’s cells and even subcellular structures, such as chloroplasts.

Scientists have known for some time that plants communicate with one another and with the outside world, but Strano’s research opens the door for humans to hack into the signals a plant sends itself, getting the plant to report what is happening — via email.

“The plant is exquisitely sensitive to everything; for example, heat stress. It knows when there’s going to be drought before humans. It senses insect bites,” Strano told The Times of Israel in a Zoom interview.

In 2016, Strano’s lab published research showing that nanobionics could be used to tap into a plant’s super-sensitive detection capabilities, giving farmers and others access to the plant’s diagnostic tools.

Because they are not independently mobile, plants have developed an extraordinary set of skills to monitor and act upon the minutest of changes in their environment.
Yaphet Kotto, Jewish actor who was first Black Bond villain, dies at 81
Star of ‘Live and Let Die’ who also featured in ‘Alien’ and played Idi Amin in movie about Israel’s Operation Entebbe, said Judaism was a guiding force in his life

US actor Yaphet Kotto, who rose to fame in the 1970s fighting James Bond in “Live and Let Die” and an extraterrestrial stowaway in “Alien,” has died, his agent told AFP. He was 81.

In a statement Monday on Facebook, his wife Sinahon Thessa described her late husband as a “legend.”

“You played a villain in some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also,” she said.

Agent Ryan Goldhar confirmed his passing in an email to AFP. He did not share the cause of death.

“I am still processing his passing, and I know he will be missed,” he said.

Kotto’s debut as a professional actor was in an all-Black stage performance of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in Harlem in 1960.

Kotto drew plaudits for roles as the first Black Bond villain — dictator Dr. Kananga — in 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” and an Emmy nomination for playing real-life Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie “Raid on Entebbe,” about the IDF operation in 1976 to rescue dozens of Israelis on a plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.
Jewish Communities in Gulf Offer Passover Programs for Residents, US Troops
The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, the people-to-people network of Jewish communities from Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are developing Jewish life in the region, has planned multiple programs to support and enrich the holiday of Passover for local Jews.

Among initiatives for the holiday, the group has arranged for the shipment of nearly 650 pounds of matzah to the six GCC countries, along with kosher-for-Passover food.

To that end, a Zoom session will be led by Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie on the topic of “Seder Essentials,” with a 30-minute seder focusing on the themes of the holiday, along with a Q&A session, on March 24 at 7 pm in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; and at 8 pm in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. (Register at: shorturl.at/dwJNS). Participants are invited to submit any questions live during the program.

On March 31, AGJC leadership has been invited to Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, where Abadie, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and members of the board, along with military chaplains and the Jewish Welfare Board, will host a Passover celebration with holiday food and conversation for US troops stationed at the base. The program will be webcast for other US bases in the region.
Bible scroll fragments among dazzling artifacts found in Dead Sea Cave of Horror
In a stunningly rare discovery, dozens of 2,000-year-old biblical scroll fragments have been excavated from Judean Desert caves during a daring rescue operation. Most of the newly discovered scroll fragments — the first such finds in 60 years — are Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and are written in two scribal hands. Only the name of God is written in Hebrew in the texts.

The fragments from the Prophets have been identified as coming from a larger scroll that was found in the 1950s, in the same “Cave of Horror” in Nahal Hever, which is some 80 meters (260 feet) below a cliff top. According to an Israel Antiquities Authority press release, the cave is “flanked by gorges and can only be reached by rappelling precariously down the sheer cliff.”

Along with the “new” biblical scroll fragments from the Books of the Minor Prophets, the team excavated a huge 10,500-year-old perfectly preserved woven basket — the oldest complete basket in the world — and a 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child, tucked into its blanket for a final sleep.

Since 2017, the IAA has spearheaded an unprecedented rescue operation to salvage ancient artifacts from caves throughout the Judean Desert against the rampant looting that has occurred in the area since the much-heralded — and lucrative — discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Bedouin shepherds some 70 years ago. On Tuesday morning, a sample of the dazzling discoveries were unveiled for the first time.

“The desert team showed exceptional courage, dedication and devotion to purpose, rappelling down to caves located between heaven and earth, digging and sifting through them, enduring thick and suffocating dust, and returning with gifts of immeasurable worth for mankind,” said Israel Antiquities Authority’s director Israel Hasson, who led the widespread rescue operation, in an IAA press release.

“The newly discovered scroll fragments are a wake-up call to the state. Resources must be allocated for the completion of this historically important operation. We must ensure that we recover all the data that has not yet been discovered in the caves before the robbers do. Some things are beyond value,” Hasson said.
Dead Sea scroll discovery brings tantalizing prospect of more yet to be found
On a day that saw the Israel Antiquities Authority unveil the first Bible scroll fragments found in decades and numerous other dazzling artifacts from the “Cave of Horror” above the Dead Sea — including a huge 10,500-year-old complete woven basket, the oldest in the world — perhaps the most extraordinary news is that there are another 20 promising caves, holding untold potential treasures, that have yet to be excavated.

That means the dozens of fragments shown to the public on Tuesday could mark the beginning of an exciting new era of discovery, 60 years after the last major scroll finds.

Since 2017, the IAA has spearheaded an ambitious survey of some 500 caves in the Judean Desert in an unprecedentedly wide-ranging and physically daring operation involving rappelling down rockfaces and setting up work camps on sheer cliffs.

The operation’s stated goal is, for once, to be one step ahead of the antiquities looters who comb these caves, where the original caches of Dead Sea Scrolls — thousands of pieces of varied ancient scripture and writings dating from circa 400 BCE to 300 CE — were found by Bedouin shepherds starting in 1946.

In the operation to date, Amir Ganor, the head of the IAA’s anti-theft unit, told a buzzing media event in the IAA’s Jerusalem office, most of the 600-plus Judean Desert caves have been mapped using drone technology and hi-tech mapping. That work, he said, has revealed 20 caves “with the potential for good artifacts” that will hopefully be carefully excavated in phase two of the project. And another 25 percent of the desert still needs to be surveyed in the first phase.

The operation is being undertaken by the IAA in cooperation with the Staff Officer of the Archaeology Department of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria (COGAT), and has been funded in part by the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage. Each body allocated about a third of the entire project budget from its institutions.

Shalva band sings ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ with Emirati artist
A famous Israeli band made up of musicians with disabilities has led the latest collaboration between Israeli and Emirati artists celebrating the nations’ normalization deal, signed last year.

The 31st anniversary of The Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, better known as Shalva, was the focus of the recently-held annual gala event of the American Friends of Shalva.

The Shalva Band, accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, performed a unique virtual duet of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — featuring Hebrew and Arabic lyrics — with singer Tareq Al Menhali from the United Arab Emirates. The celebration was held under the theme “Building Bridges to the Future.”

The guest speaker was Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the United States. “It is an honor to participate in the American Friends of Shalva’s 31st anniversary event,” he said.

“The United Arab Emirates shares Shalva’s unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. In the UAE, those with intellectual disabilities or special needs are referred to as people of determination, in recognition of their achievements across different fields. The collaboration to create the special rendition of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ demonstrates how we must all continue to work together — regardless of nationality, religion or culture — to promote positive social change and foster more inclusive societies,” added Al Otaiba.

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