Friday, March 19, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: When Cultural Appropriation and Historical Revisionism Are Acts of War
Two weeks ago, a bus filled with veteran Israeli generals from the Bithonistim, a grassroots national security organization, slowly made its way up the slopes of Mt. Ebal in Northern Samaria to visit a biblical-era site that was severely damaged by a Palestinian Authority contractor in late January.

They came to draw the public's attention to the strategic implications of the war the Palestinians are waging against Jewish history.

The site was excavated between 1980 and 1989 by the late Professor Adam Zertal, who identified it as Joshua's Altar as described in the Books of Deuteronomy, (27; 1-9) and Joshua (8; 30-35). The animal remains at the site contained thousands of burnt bones of year-old male, exclusively kosher, animals. They were burned in an open flame 3,250 years ago—the time generally identified as the period of ancient Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel under Joshua. Other remains found at the site included earrings and scarabs made in Egypt at the time of Ramses II, the Egyptian pharaoh often associated with the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

As Zertal explained in a lecture in 2013, the altar was buried under a layer of rocks, in keeping with Jewish prescriptions for preventing the desecration of abandoned holy sites. In keeping with the biblical narrative, the altar is made of unhewn stones; instead of steps, there are two ramps for the priests to alight to the platform—blocks of plaster were found nearby. The altar at Mt. Ebal also matches a Talmudic description of an altar from the Second Temple period, around 900 years later, indicating a continuity of Jewish practices throughout the biblical period.

Although initially controversial, Zertal's general finding that the site is around 3,300 years old and is a Jewish historical site, where sacrifices were carried out in keeping with biblical guidelines, has become widely accepted—although many continue to dispute the specific identification with Joshua.

In late January, the Palestinian Authority (PA) posted a video on its website of 60 meters of the ancient wall surrounding the altar being destroyed to pave a road connecting the Palestinian village of Asira ash-Shamaliya to Nablus. Nablus, built on the ruins of the biblical city of Shechem, is located in northern Samaria between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim.

Zertal was a fiercely secular son of hardcore socialists. Yet, he explained in a 2013 lecture, his scientific work compelled him to accept that the biblical narrative "from Deuteronomy through the Books of Kings was historically accurate."

"There are people who refuse to acknowledge that the damage done here was deliberate," Major General Gershon Hacohen explained to Newsweek. "That since it was the surrounding wall—rather than the altar itself—that was destroyed, the altar wasn't harmed. That's like saying that if someone destroys the steps to the Acropolis, they aren't harming the Acropolis. It's the same complex."

"They also say the Palestinians weren't trying to damage the site—they just needed stones for their road. But look at this place," he said and waved his hand across the landscape.

The slopes of Mt. Ebal are strewn with loose rocks.

"If they needed rocks for the road, all the Palestinians had to do was bring up a truck and take as many as they needed. Instead, they brought a bulldozer all the way up here and deliberately destroyed 60 meters of a 3,250-year-old wall."

As if to prove Hacohen's point, this week, a group of Palestinians was filmed barbecuing on the altar itself.

The Palestinian effort to destroy the site is of a piece with the PA's long-standing efforts to destroy the physical record of millennia-old Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. That effort is now focused on destroying and appropriating the artifacts of Jewish history in Samaria.
Guardian op-ed promotes the end of the Jewish state
For the second time in as many months, the Guardian has published an op-ed calling for an end to the Jewish state. The latest piece, (“The Israeli and Palestinian elections offend democracy – each in their own way”, March 18) by Salem Barahmeh, director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, parrots the narrative of B’tselem in claiming that Israel isn’t truly democratic.

In January, Btselem’s director Hagai El-Ad penned a Guardian op-ed (based on his group’s report) which included the lie that Israel is a non-democratic “Jewish supremacist” state which “rules everyone and everything between the river and the sea” – propaganda we refuted at the time.

Similarly, Barahmeh’s op-ed includes the following:
Israel’s famed “democracy”, like its expansionist policies, doesn’t stop at or recognise the green line – if anything it has bulldozed them into oblivion. In practice, Israel effectively exercises total control over the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

He’s arguing, much like El-Ad before him, that Israel has “total control” not only over Palestinians in PA-controlled Area A of the West Bank, but, even more absurdly, that Jerusalem has “total control” over the two million Gazans who live under Hamas’s authoritarian rule.

Barahmeh then peddles more untruths:
5 million Palestinians vote for the PA, an administrative body that today has only partial control over 40% of the West Bank and is dependent on Israel for its survival. The PA was supposed to exist for five years while Palestinians transitioned to statehood, but that state never came. Successive Israeli governments made sure of that, using settlements and annexation to turn the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem into an archipelago of disconnected Palestinian population centres.

In fact, the PA has both military and administrative control of Area A, where the overwhelming majority of West Bank Palestinians live. Further, contrary to Barahmeh’s claim, there was no such promise that, five years into Oslo, a Palestinian state would be born – a myth about the Accords that we’ve gotten corrected at other publications.

Finally, his suggestion that “Israeli settlements and annexation” have turned the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem into “an archipelago of disconnected population centres” is ahistorical. Since as far back as 1949, when Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza, the two Palestinian population centres were “disconnected”. Contrary to myths spread by pro-Palestinian activists, there never was, at any time in history, a sovereign, unified, uniquely Palestinian polity between the river and the sea.
The Quincy Institute vs. John Quincy Adams
n the fall of 2019, a group of historians and foreign-policy scholars founded the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Featuring thinkers such as Andrew Bacevich and Stephen Wertheim and funded by the unlikely duo of Charles Koch and George Soros, the organization named after John Quincy Adams calls for a restrained, noninterventionist U.S. foreign policy. Its stated mission is to “set U.S. foreign policy on a sensible and humane footing” based on “diplomatic engagement and military restraint.” Its mantra is Adams’s pithy quotation that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” which Bacevich contends “has discomfited proponents of militarized liberation or benign hegemony or empire gussied up as social uplift ever since.”

According to documents published on its website, the Quincy Institute wants to “reduce U.S. military operations in the Taiwan Strait,” concede Chinese military dominance in the South China Sea, “significantly withdraw troops” from the Middle East, offer Iran billions of dollars of IMF loans “to fight the coronavirus pandemic,” slash American commitments to NATO, and reduce the military budget.

The recommendations on the Middle East and Iran are of particular note. For among the Quincy Institute’s coterie of experts are numerous figures who have been publicly antagonistic toward Israel and America’s close relations with the Jewish state. These include Lawrence Wilkerson, a bitter critic of “the Jewish lobby in America”; the indefatigable investigators of American Jews’ dual loyalties, Paul Pillar and Chas Freeman; and leading “Israel Lobby” conspiracy authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

Bear in mind, the institute is named after a man who in 1825 endorsed “the rebuilding of Judea as an independent nation.” That the anti-Zionist scholars of the Quincy Institute are at odds here with their organization’s namesake is not surprising. In fact, they misunderstand John Quincy Adams’s foreign-policy thinking in general. Bacevich laments, “During the 20th century, particularly its latter half, Americans abandoned the precepts that had guided policy makers back in Adams’s day…. Meddling—always in a worthy cause, of course—became fashionable.” To him, “Adams’s singular achievement, articulated in the Monroe Doctrine, was to position the United States for hemispheric hegemony, while still heeding Washington’s dictum to avoid ‘interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe.’” He has also praised Adams for “avoiding unnecessary trouble” and continuing an American grand strategy that “emphasized opportunistically ruthless expansionism on this continent, avid commercial engagement, and the avoidance of great-power rivalries abroad.” Wertheim adds that Adams “came to strongly oppose U.S. expansionism in the 1840s and 50s.”

Jewish students fight hate and lies about Israel with truth - opinion
University campuses worldwide are in the midst of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) 2021, initiated in 2005 by students at the University of Toronto. The aim: “To educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel.” Today IAW operates in at least 55 cities in more than 30 countries.

At a time when the vast majority of Jewish students entering university are ill-equipped to counteract the vile distortions of the IAW movement, it should be a major concern for Israel and Jewish communities worldwide to address the turning away from Israel that specifically affects the younger generation of Jews.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many Jewish students – ignorant of Israel’s history and reality – are susceptible to the well-oiled and well-financed anti-Israel propaganda machine. Credence is added by those Israeli academics, such as Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim, who are regular lecturers at IAW events.

In the UK, Prof. David Miller, lecturing at the prestigious Bristol University, speaks about an infinite megalomaniac Zionism seeking to impose its will on the world. His Jewish students are inhibited from complaining for fear they will receive low grades. The university body refuses to address the complaints, citing “Freedom of speech” – this in spite of protests from the Community Security Trust (CST), responsible for protecting the UK’s Jewish community against antisemitism, plus a petition signed by thousands.

While Jewish student groups on campuses endeavor to involve Jewish students in their activities, the reality of the challenge is enormous. It is fair to say that most Jewish students prefer to avoid conflict situations (which is how they view the Israel - Palestinian dispute), seeing their university years as a time to obtain a degree and enjoy the opportunities of campus life.

‘Our History Has Been Stolen From Us’: How South African Community Organizer Clive Mashishi Confronts Antisemitism, Holocaust Denial and Hatred of Israel
“Our history has been stolen from us,” Clive Mashishi protested, as he described the various attempts in his native South Africa to tar Israel as state that practices apartheid. “It’s being used in the wrong way.”

A former South African political activist who spent his childhood under apartheid, Mashishi has worked as a full-time community leader and organizer in the Vaal region, to the south of Johannesburg, for the last ten years. Previously, Mashishi had been involved with numerous South African political organizations, including the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the center-left Democratic Alliance (DA) and the far-left, pan-Africanist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Along that journey, Mashishi frequently encountered the issues of Israel, Zionism and antisemitism. Mashishi goes out of his way to credit his mentor, Arkins Mothale — to whom he became close after he lost his father while still a schoolboy — for introducing him to the ideas and perspectives that changed his way of thinking about the world.

“I was always arguing with my friends in the EFF, because they are anti-white,” Mashishi recalled during an extensive conversation with The Algemeiner on Thursday. “I realized that I was in the wrong party and I left politics.”

These days, Mashishi spends his time on local community development and advocacy for Israel, activities that are underpinned by his strong Christian faith. He runs a small organization, the Clive Mashishi Foundation, with about 15 volunteers, providing children with free school uniforms, operating a soup kitchen and distributing food parcels to families in need.

Mashishi is acutely aware that while the apartheid system of white minority rule was dismantled over 25 years ago, several of its fundamental inequities remain — most glaringly the acute poverty that still prevails in many Black communities. That is one reason why he disdains the analogy that is drawn by many South African leaders between the apartheid regime and the State of Israel, as well as the cruder antisemitism that often features alongside.

Indeed, over the last year, Mashishi has been fighting the growing distribution of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — the antisemitic fabrication published by the Russian Tsar’s secret police in 1903, alleging a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world — in communities across South Africa.
Ethnic studies curriculum passes 11-0 after one final day of sparring
California’s State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to approve a controversial model curriculum in ethnic studies for high schools, the first of its kind in the country.

The 11-0 vote came five years after the legislature first approved a bill requiring a different state body, the Instructional Quality Commission, to develop the draft, and more than 18 months after the initial version roiled the Jewish community for its exclusion of lessons on Jewish Americans and its harsh critiques of Israel.

The virtual public meeting Thursday included an acrimonious public comment period that lasted more than three hours. Many of the arguments made over the last year and a half — in the op-ed pages of local and national newspapers and in previous public meetings — were reiterated. Some read from scripts prepared by activist groups.

The public comments focused on whether the curriculum inappropriately carried a left-wing ideology into the classroom or whether, conversely, it had been “watered down” by conservative forces; whether Palestine and Palestinians belonged in the curriculum, or whether a critique of Israel risked demonizing Jews; whether the model focused too much on race or “critical race theory” in a way that would divide students rather than unite them; whether it was sufficiently anti-colonial or too much so; and whether, broadly speaking, it was appropriate for high schoolers.

Accusations against Jewish groups flew through the virtual space, with many claiming the curriculum had been “hijacked” or “whitewashed” by Zionist organizations and so-called “right-wing groups.”

Callers attacked the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council — groups that opposed the first draft. One person angrily called the ADL and JCRC “pro-apartheid groups.”
Jewish Group Denounces California’s Capitulation to Hate-Driven Ethnic Studies Curriculum
AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin issued the following statement today strongly criticizing California’s Board of Education for approving an ethnic studies curriculum that is political- and mission-driven, not academically-driven, and will likely incite hate and division among high school students:

“While on the surface, the curriculum approved by the state appears improved over the rejected first draft, it remains firmly rooted in the principles of Critical Ethnic Studies, which unlike the broader field of ethnic studies, has a politically- and activist-driven mission that will incite hate and division and is dangerous for all high school students. Most profoundly concerning for the Jewish community is the portrayal of Jews, filtered through the lens of Critical Ethnic Studies, as ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. At a time when anti-Jewish sentiment, hostility, and violence have reached truly alarming levels, indoctrinating students to view Jews as ‘white’ and ‘racially privileged’ is tantamount to putting an even larger target on the back of every Jewish student.

“It is reckless of the state to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into a curriculum that is based on no credible research and is steeped in Critical Ethnic Studies. For those of us who closely monitor and combat bigotry, we know firsthand that a Critical Ethnic Studies approach is very dangerous for all students, and we plan to fight tooth and nail against legislative attempts to make this curriculum a high school graduation requirement. What happens next in California, particularly as it relates to a graduation requirement, is crucial since we know other states often follow California.”

Although the ESMC has gone through three revisions since its highly controversial and politicized first draft, Critical Ethnic Studies principles have been at the heart of every draft to date, including the final one.

More than 100 university scholars and academics recently argued that the curriculum “contains numerous empirically false and politically-motivated claims about the educational benefits of ethnic studies” and have asked the state to withhold approval until these claims are removed.
Lies in the Cognitive War Against Israel
Intersectionality and the Lie About Israel Being an Oppressor
The obsession with Israel and its various perceived modes of oppression and brutality toward a weak, innocent victim group is consistent with the worldview of many academics in the humanities and social sciences who increasingly find a linkage as they seek to affirm the rights of the victimized and name the villains responsible for this oppression. The more that seemingly unrelated instances of oppression can be conflated, it is thought, the greater the ability to confront these oppressors and neutralize the negative effect they have on society at large.

This trend is called “intersectionality,” and it has meant that someone who is a gender studies professor, or queer theorist, or American studies expert can, with no actual knowledge or expertise about the Middle East, readily pontificate on the many social pathologies of Israel, based on its perceived role as a racist, colonial oppressor of an innocent indigenous population of Arab victims. For these Israel-haters, to know one victim group is to know any victim group—with Israel being a tempting and habitual target of their opprobrium.

The idea of brutal, militarized oppression by Israel of the wholly-innocent Palestinian victims is, of course, central to the false narrative that propels anti-Israel activism on campuses where SJP and other anti-Israel groups have a presence, and the current obsession with criticizing and dismantling domestic police forces conflates nicely with a discussion about the way Israel’s predations are perceived to be equivalent to the racist, oppressive behavior of white American police officers in their interaction with blacks and other marginalized groups and “people of color.”

The Deadly Exchange campaign, the name Jewish Voice for Peace and other anti-Israel groups have given to these police training programs, takes the accusation of racism one step further, making it part of a global, ongoing campaign to slander and delegitimize Israel by ascribing to it the worst moral characteristics, including, specifically, the one accusation that is the most grievous and unforgivable: racism. And not only does it provide yet another opportunity for anti-Israel activists to trumpet the predations of the Jewish state, to stress once again the alleged racism, apartheid, and ethnic subjugation of Arab Palestinians, it can also smear Israel with another, even more sinister, accusation: not only has Israel perfected its brutality and oppression toward the Palestinians but now, thanks to these cooperative training programs with U.S. law enforcement personnel, Israel now exports its moral depravity and cruelty, and its racism can metastasize itself in minority communities in the United States, too. The placards seen at protests for years now, reading “From Ferguson to Palestine,” echoed that very theme, purporting that the racial injustices experienced by blacks in America are mirrored in the experience of Palestinians who suffer under the similar racism and oppression of Israel.

That Israel has become of the embodiment of evil, that its racism, militarism, and oppression now are so powerful that they cross borders and infect minority communities in America, and that the Jewish state can now be held responsible for bigotry on campuses far from its own borders indicates how powerful the anti-Israel narrative has become, and how the obsessive hatred by activists against the Jewish state ensures that the oldest hatred shows itself in yet another hateful permutation.
Skidmore College Refuses To Recognize Club Due to ‘Troublesome’ Pro-Israel Stance
Skidmore College’s student government refused to recognize a progressive, pro-Israel student group due to its "troublesome" perspective despite recently recognizing the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Skidmore College Student Government Association denied Progressive Zionists for Peace’s request for a club trial period in a Zoom meeting on March 13. The organization’s leaders were told the group would need to "gain more diverse perspectives" before receiving official club status. Student senator Sarah Baker said a "dialogue focused" group with "one perspective" could be "troublesome."

In its request for recognition, Progressive Zionists for Peace said their intention was to "create a space for pro-Israel, pro-peace students" to promote a "more peaceful, secure, and democratic future for both Israelis and Palestinians." The group said they would provide a "supportive environment" wherein students can learn about "peaceful Zionism" and how to fight anti-Semitism.

"Ultimately, we hope to create an environment that facilitates mutual understandings between Skidmore students with regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and all its nuances," Progressive Zionists for Peace’s mission statement reads.

Progressive Zionists for Peace president Nessa Goldhirsch Brown said in a Facebook post that the reasons she was given for her group's denial were "false, unclear, and transparently partisan." Skidmore College spokeswoman Sara Miga said that Progressive Zionists for Peace were not officially denied recognition and told the Washington Free Beacon that the group was just "asked to return at a later date to clarify their mission and goals."

Despite rejecting the pro-Israel group, the student government recently granted a club trial period to Students for Justice in Palestine, according to a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

School officials, the student government, and Progressive Zionists for Peace will meet Friday to discuss the club's official status.

Asa Winstanley & Ali Abunimah Deny Uighur Genocide
The founder of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah and Associate Editor Asa Winstanley deny that a genocide of the Chinese Uighur minority is taking place in the country.

Writing in the Electronic Intifada Abunimah claims:
“The allegations of genocide, forced labor and mass internment are rooted in dubious claims, falsehoods and outright speculation”

Backing up his boss on social media Winstanley tweeted:
Not content with just the one genocide denying tweet Winstanley went on a spree of them:

It will be interesting to see whether Warwick Student campaigners are bothered by this bearing this in mind his support of them:

How did Winstanley get to be an “initial signatory” of the petition? Wonder how that will go down with Uighur and Syrian students on Warwick campus, bearing in mind that Winstanley has also tweeted that there was no genocide in Syria:

“It was only a decade ago that some “Syrian exiles” were claiming there was a “genocide”. But that was all a way to justify the invasion & occupation of Syria, laundered as a “No-Fly Zone”.

Holocaust Education Bill Passes Wisconsin Senate After Delays Due to Coronavirus
A bill to require Holocaust education in schools passed the state senate in Wisconsin on Tuesday.

It mandates that Wisconsin schools teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides at least once each during middle and high school, The Cap Times reported. The proposal was considered by legislative lawmakers when they convened the senate and assembly floor periods on Tuesday.

The same bill passed unanimously in the state assembly last year; however, it was never voted on by the full senate during that legislative session due to the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.

Rules state that the state assembly must now pass the bill again before it can be signed by Gov. Tony Evers into law.

The bill would require the state superintendent to consult on Holocaust education with the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC), a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) wrote the bill after she was approached with the idea by a HERC representative, reported The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.

“Unfortunately, we are losing voices of firsthand accounts of Holocaust survivors,” Darling said in a statement. “This bill will help make sure those voices are preserved forever and the important lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.”
Columbus Man who Harassed Jewish Neighbors with ‘Hitler’ Taunts Charged with Federal Hate Crime
A Columbus, Ohio man who harassed his Jewish neighbors with antisemitic insults and threats was charged in a federal district court on Thursday with a hate crime.

Douglas G. Schifer, 65, appeared before US District Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers on a misdemeanor count of criminal interference with right to fair housing, which carries a potential sentence of up to 12 months in prison.

Schifer was last year alleged to have repeatedly targeted his neighbors, Nick and Tiffany Kinney, a Jewish couple from California who had recently moved to the Olde Towne East neighborhood of Columbus.

Interviewed last November, the Kinneys described how Schifer had confronted them three days after the US presidential election, showering the couple with antisemitic abuse.

“He’s tired of us liberals,” Nick Kinney recalled. “Horrible things about Hitler, ‘It’s no wonder Hitler burned our people’ — he knows we are Jewish.”

Schiffer threatened that “I’ll put a bullet through your head like Hitler,” Tiffany Kinney recalled.

“Real disappointing and painful, the way this man must feel about Jews,” she commented.

Alongside the verbal insults, the Kinneys said that Schifer threw rocks through their patio door and windows, shattering the glass. The incident was captured on a neighbor’s doorbell camera.

“It literally exploded, we are still finding shards of glass,” Nick Kinney said at the time
‘Soup Nazi’ restaurant name provokes anger, vandalism in Washington state
The restaurant signage went up on Tuesday in Everett, Washington: The Soup Nazi Kitchen, a reference to the famous episode of “Seinfeld” that features the angry owner of a soup eatery.

By Wednesday afternoon, the unopened storefront was riddled with pellet bullet holes and spray paint, according to the Everett Herald Business Journal. And owner Andrew Ho, who has a history of controversial opinions, had heard complaints from the small city’s local Jewish community. So he removed “Nazi” from the sign.

The restaurant’s logo featured a cartoonish woman looking angry and holding a whip.

“It really diminishes and makes light of the horrors of the Holocaust,” Rabbi Rachel Kort of Everett’s Temple Beth Or told the Herald Business Journal.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest regional director, Miri Cypers, also objected to the name, saying it dredged up painful memories of Nazis starving Jews in death camps. Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin lamented that she could not require the restaurant to change its name.

“The City of Everett is a Safe City and strives to be inclusive and welcoming for all residents and visitors,” Franklin wrote in a social media post on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, recent US Supreme Court decisions have greatly restricted the City’s authority to regulate the wording of signs and largely prohibits the City from banning signs based on the hateful or offensive wording in that sign.”

Greece to focus on education as leader of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
Greece will assume the rotating presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance next month, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as yet another Jewish memorial was vandalized overnight.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said Athens would take over the IHRA presidency on April 1.

"We attach particular importance" to the event, Papaioannou said, adding that Greece's first-ever IHRA presidency would focus on education.

Anti-Semitism remains a problem in Greece, whose Jewish community was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust.

The central board of Jewish communities in Greece said a recently completed mural about the Jews of Thessaloniki, 50,000 of whom were exterminated in Nazi death camps, had been vandalized.

In October, several Jewish cemeteries and a Holocaust memorial had also been vandalized after the leaders of the Greek neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn were jailed in a landmark trial.

Interior minister Makis Voridis in 2019 denied anti-Semitic beliefs after a prominent Greek Jewish official said he had a "dark past."

A self-styled nationalist, Voridis said he had "never been an anti-Semite, though he had "coexisted politically with people who had such unacceptable ideas."
Seth Frantzman: Israel starts research center for GPS-free navigation
Israel’s Ministry of Defense opened a new research center to develop navigation systems that don’t rely on easily disrupted GPS.

As militaries across the world work to provide stronger GPS signals and alternatives, the Advanced Navigation Technology Center, opened with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, will manufacture highly accurate inertial sensors.

“These sensors will enable the production of next generation navigation systems, and will significantly increase their performance and capabilities,” a March 10 ministry statement said.

Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of research and development at the ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development, said the center will aid Israel’s technological independence.

The goal is to field an independent solution for navigation that can go longer periods of times, through all its missions, without using GPS.

Avi Elisha, general manager for IAI’s division for electro-optical and navigation systems, said the center will use the company’s unique technologies. “Only a handful of countries have this technology, which is a game-changer in the field of inertial navigation.”

Beyond helping in GPS-denied environments, IAI systems and sensors that work without satellites also provide more accurate navigation, offering the measurements of a gyroscope and from sensors that track acceleration and distance traveled, according to Zalman, head of technologies and research and development at IAI’s navigation division. The company did not provide his full name for security reasons.
Life Coach Tony Robbins and Grandson of Viktor Frankl Developing ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ Film About Holocaust Experiences, Survival Methods
Author and life coach Tony Robbins is part of team working on the feature film “Man’s Search For Meaning,” based on a 1946 memoir of the same name by the late psychiatrist Viktor Frankl about his life in Nazi concentration camps and methods of survival.

The film is being produced by Straight Up’s recently launched media company Straight Up Impact, the firm announced on Tuesday. Robbins is partnering on the project with Frankl’s grandson, Alexander Vesely, and screenwriter Angela Workman (“The Zookeeper’s Wife”). Pam Roy, who is a co-founder of Straight Up Impact, will serve as executive producer of the film, which is in development and slated for release in 2023.

“We are honored that Viktor Frankl’s family has entrusted us to tell his incredible life story,” said Straight Up Impact co-founder Kate Cohen. “Our mission is to share his teachings with the world in the hopes that more people find meaning in their lives.”

Born in Vienna in 1905, Frankl was a trained psychiatrist and neurologist, and began counseling suicidal patients in the 1920s. He spent three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and his parents, brother and wife died in the camps. After World War II, he continued his work in Vienna.

Frankl’s memoir, which has sold more than 16 million copies, recounts his experiences in the death camps and explains the psychotherapeutic approach he founded, known as logotherapy — founded on the belief that people are motivated by the search for purpose and meaning in their lives, rather than the pursuit of things that bring pleasure or happiness. In “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Frankl explained that prisoners in Nazi concentration camps who were able to find some form of meaning in life — even if only to help someone else live through the day — were more likely to survive.

“When suffering is inevitable, the attitude we choose matters most,” said Vesely, a licensed logotherapist and co-founder of the Viktor Frankl Institute of America. “Despite experiencing unspeakable horrors and loss, my grandfather continued to help others to find meaning in life, even when great adversity and tragedy are a part of it. I hope this film inspires anyone dealing with their own struggles.”
5 Israeli firms on Fast Company 2021 most innovative lists
Three Israeli companies made Fast Company’s list of the world’s most innovative companies for 2021 and another two appear on its list of 10 most innovative companies in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Surgical Theater appears in the Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality category.

“Surgical Theater was founded by a couple of Israeli fighter pilots who thought surgeons could benefit from surgery simulations in the same way pilots benefit from flight simulations. They were right,” Fast Company writes.

“The company’s VR software lets surgeons walk through and visualize complex surgeries, including brain surgeries, in VR before ever touching the patient. This year hospitals have discovered that the software is also useful in the informed consent process, because it allows patients to see, in VR, exactly what a surgeon intends to do to their body before they give their consent. The company made national news last March when its software rendered a full, 360-degree VR depiction of the ravages of COVID-19 on the lungs of a real patient.”

Theator was chosen in the Data Science category.

“By analyzing over 30,000 hours of surgical videos, Theator has gained deep understanding of everything from gallbladder removal to hernia repairs. It applies this knowledge to feedback it gives surgeons and residents on their own procedures. In 2020, partnerships with organizations such as McGill University, Stanford University, and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons helped bring Theator’s insights to thousands of surgeons and surgeons-in-training,” Fast Company explains.

TytoCare was included in the Health category for its at-home device that lets doctors monitor a patient’s heart, lungs, ears, throat, abdomen, temperature, and heart rate remotely.

TytoCare works with 150 healthcare providers in the United States. During the pandemic, TytoHome – sold at Best Buy — became a popular alternative to doctor office visits.
New Israeli research could transform cancer immunotherapy
Cancer immunotherapy may get a boost from an unexpected direction: bacteria residing within tumor cells. In a new study published in Nature, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science and their collaborators have discovered that the immune system "sees" these bacteria and shown they can be harnessed to provoke an immune reaction against the tumor. The study may also help clarify the connection between immunotherapy and the gut microbiome, explaining the findings of previous research that the microbiome affects the success of immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy treatments of the past decade or so have dramatically improved recovery rates from certain cancers, particularly malignant melanoma; but in melanoma, they still work in only about 40% of the cases. Prof. Yardena Samuels of Weizmann's Molecular Cell Biology Department studies molecular "signposts" – protein fragments, or peptides, on the cell surface – that mark cancer cells as foreign and may therefore serve as potential added targets for immunotherapy. In the new study, she and colleagues extended their search for new cancer signposts to those bacteria known to colonize tumors.

Using methods developed by departmental colleague Dr. Ravid Straussman, who was one of the first to reveal the nature of the bacterial "guests" in cancer cells, Samuels and her team, led by Dr. Shelly Kalaora and Adi Nagler (joint co-first authors), analyzed tissue samples from 17 metastatic melanoma tumors derived from nine patients. They obtained bacterial genomic profiles of these tumors and then applied an approach known as HLA-peptidomics to identify tumor peptides that can be recognized by the immune system.

The research was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer A. Wargo of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; Prof Scott N. Peterson of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla, California; Prof Eytan Ruppin of the National Cancer Institute, USA; Prof Arie Admon of the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and other scientists.

The HLA peptidomics analysis revealed nearly 300 peptides from 41 different bacteria on the surface of the melanoma cells. The crucial new finding was that the peptides were displayed on the cancer cell surfaces by HLA protein complexes – complexes that are present on the membranes of all cells in our body and play a role in regulating the immune response. One of the HLA's jobs is to sound an alarm about anything that is foreign by "presenting" foreign peptides to the immune system so that immune T cells can "see" them. "Using HLA peptidomics, we were able to reveal the HLA-presented peptides of the tumor in an unbiased manner," Kalaora says. "This method has already enabled us in the past to identify tumor antigens that have shown promising results in clinical trials."

It's unclear why cancer cells should perform a seemingly suicidal act of this sort: presenting bacterial peptides to the immune system, which can respond by destroying these cells. But whatever the reason, the fact that malignant cells do display these peptides in such a manner reveals an entirely new type of interaction between the immune system and the tumor.
CBS to Create American Remake of Hit Israeli Series ‘Shtisel’
CBS Studios announced on Tuesday that it is developing an American adaptation of the popular Netflix-distributed Israeli drama “Shtisel.”

The American remake will be written by “Insatiable” creator and “Dexter” writer Lauren Gussis, and directed by Oscar-winner Kenneth Lonergan, reported Deadline.

The publication said the show is being described as a modern take on “Romeo and Juliet” and will center on an “ultra-progressive, over-achieving secular 18-year-old young woman on the verge of personal freedom, and the strictly observant Orthodox young man to whom she is powerfully drawn—so powerfully that she is willing to uproot her entire life to be with him.”

The remake will reportedly be shopped around soon to potential buyers. Fremantle is the co-studio.

The “Shtisel” adaptation will be a TV directing debut for Lonergan, who has so far only directed features that he wrote himself. The “Manchester by the Sea” filmmaker was drawn to the storyline, and after many conversations with Gussis and several rabbis, joined the project, according to Deadline.

CBS Studios has recently amped up its investment in international local production, developing and producing new shows in Germany, Israel and the Netherlands.
Jewish group shipping 650 pounds of matzah to Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states
A newly formed Jewish group in the Persian Gulf is having 650 pounds of matzah imported to the region ahead of Passover.

The shipment is the latest step in the growth of Jewish communities in the region following Israeli normalization agreements with two of its countries. Israel signed the agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last year, establishing diplomatic relations with both countries.

The matzos are also being shipped to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.

The umbrella organization coordinating the shipment, the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, was founded in February to facilitate Jewish life and ritual observance in the six countries. The Jewish populations of the countries range from a handful to hundreds.

Alongside the normalization deals, Jewish culture and religious life in some of the countries is growing. The UAE, which has seen an influx of Israeli tourists, now has establishments offering kosher food.

The Jewish association will also be providing Passover resources to American troops in the region.

“It is very exciting to see such demand for Passover programming in the Gulf this year,” said Rabbi Elie Abadie, a Jewish leader in the UAE.

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