Wednesday, March 24, 2021

From Ian:

Why “academic freedom” is no defence of the Bristol University professor David Miller
The University of Bristol is investigating one of its own professors, David Miller, for comments he made about Jewish students that attracted widespread protest, including from hundreds of other academics and from parliamentarians. Many of Miller’s critics have defended his academic freedom while condemning his depiction of Bristol’s Jewish Society as local agents of a foreign power trying to subvert British freedoms. This is a convenient distinction that sidesteps a crucial fact: Miller’s conflicts with Jewish students flow from the same analysis of “Zionist” power that he teaches in class. They are inseparable in a way that tests the limits of both academic freedom and a university’s duty of care towards its students.

Professor Miller has said that there is “an all-out onslaught by the Israeli government” to “impose their will all over the world”, and that all university Jewish societies (including Bristol’s), plus the Union of Jewish Students, are “directed by Israel” as part of this effort. More broadly, he says that Bristol Jewish Society belongs to a “Zionist movement” that he has characterised as “the enemy of the left, the enemy of world peace, and they must be directly targeted”. Miller says the goal is to “defeat the ideology of Zionism in practice” and “to end Zionism… as a functioning ideology of the world”. While many consider Miller’s comments to be so inflammatory as to endanger Jewish students, he claims it is university Jewish societies that render Muslim and Arab students unsafe.

At the heart of all this is Miller’s belief that Islamophobia is generated and encouraged by “parts of the Zionist movement”, and that it is “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”. In February 2019 he taught this theory to undergraduates at Bristol using a PowerPoint slide with a network map of Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel organisations and individuals that he had first drawn up in 2013 under the title of “the British Zionist scene”. As the sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris has pointed out, this map was a meaningless mass of names and arrows with no real academic or analytical value. Even worse, by the time Miller taught it to students in 2019, most of the individuals named on the map had either left their posts or died. Jewish students in Miller’s lecture complained and the slide has come to represent, for Miller’s critics, the anti-Semitic nature of his work.

Bristol University was familiar with this aspect of Miller’s research, and even with this specific image, when it hired him in 2018, because Miller had used this same PowerPoint slide in a talk at an academic seminar held by the university’s Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship three years earlier. Speaking to an audience of Bristol academics, Miller described it as showing “the transnational Zionist movement”, which he said connected Israeli state institutions and UK Jewish organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. “It’s important to see this as a transnational affair”, he told his academic audience, which is not limited to supporting Israel but is also a “social movement” that engages in “domestic politics”, including “ultra-Zionist funders” who are “active in Islamophobia”; while the Israeli government, he claimed, “is directly involved in trying to sabotage and undermine the role of Muslims in public life”.

Warwick University blames “unauthorised access” after its verified Twitter account ‘likes’ a tweet that says “Jewish students are agents of a Foreign Power”
The official Twitter account of the University of Warwick ‘liked’ a tweet endorsing recent inflammatory comments by the academic and conspiracy theorist David Miller, with the University subsequently deleted the ‘like’ and blaming “unauthorised access” to the account.

The tweet, which was part of a thread from an account called Socialist Campaign Group Highgate, read: “We agree with Dr Simon Behrman, @Warwick_Law and @Warwickuni of @RussellGroup that David Miller @Tracking_Power is right to say that Jewish students are agents of a Foreign Power and would like to male a job offer. Name your price.”

A spokesperson for the University said: “The tweet in question was ‘liked’ following unauthorised access to the account. The unauthorised access and ‘like’ was quickly spotted by the social media team and the tweet was soon ‘unliked’, and the matter has been referred to Twitter.”

The University of Warwick has had problems with addressing antisemitism on its campus in the recent past, and was reluctant to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, which it ultimately did under pressure on 12th October 2020.

Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by universities.

Labour urged to suspend councillor who posted that Priti Patel was ‘hatched’ in Israel
Labour is facing calls to suspend a councillor who posted a message claiming Priti Patel, now Home Secretary, was “hatched” in Israel.

He also shared a post of a highly offensive cartoon branding Israel a “blood-thirsty racist Zionist war machine”.

Newham Borough Councillor Suga Thekkeppurayil shared the “war machine” post from the Let’s Save Palestine account which includes a cartoon of headless corpses and dismembered bodies in Gaza.

The cartoon also shows UK and US broadcasters ignoring the butchered bodies and focusing their cameras on a crying baby in Israel.

The 2014 post says: “This is still how Western media routinely cover Operation Genocidal Edge, committed by the blood-thirsty racists Zionist war machine”.

Cllr Thekkeppurayil also shared a Guardian opinion piece in March, 2019, that said Jeremy Corbyn had “nothing to apologise for being the first Labour leader to oppose Zionism on moral grounds”.

The former Labour leader was suspended from Labour in October last year after refusing to apologise in the wake of damning findings from the EHRC that the party acted unlawfully in its handling of the antisemitism crisis.

He was readmitted just two weeks later but has still not had Labour’s parliamentary party whip restored.

Skidmore College Reverses Course, Clears the Way for Pro-Israel Club
Skidmore College's student government granted a progressive, pro-Israel group a trial period after first declining to recognize the club for its "troublesome" perspective.

The Skidmore College Student Government Association denied Progressive Zionists for Peace's request for official club status on March 13, saying the group needed to clarify its mission statement and "gain more diverse perspectives." Student senator Sarah Baker said the "dialogue focused" group with "one perspective" could be "troublesome," according to a letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The student government recently granted a trial period to Students for Justice in Palestine, a group known to pressure and intimidate Jewish students.

School administrators, student government leaders, and Progressive Zionists for Peace met on Friday to discuss the decision, which resulted in the student government's course reversal.

The Progressive Zionists for Peace's mission statement, according to its request for recognition, calls for creating "an environment that facilitates mutual understandings between Skidmore students with regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict." The group sought to educate students on "peaceful Zionism" and equip members to fight anti-Semitism.

Progressive Zionists for Peace president Nessa Goldhirsch Brown previously told the Washington Free Beacon that she did not believe the student government's denial of her club was rooted in anti-Semitism but rather in a lack of understanding of Zionism.

FIRE spokeswoman Katie Kortepeter told the Free Beacon that the group appreciates Skidmore's decision to grant Progressive Zionists for Peace a trial period.
New Jersey Newspaper Fires Journalist After Anti-Jewish, Misogynistic Caption
A journalist from the Asbury Park Press, a Gannett-owned newspaper in Central New Jersey, is out of a job with the paper doing damage control after posting a photo caption last weekend that was deemed anti-Jewish and anti-woman.

The caption, which read in part “A f**king hot nurse, a total JAP, loads a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine … ,” appeared on the paper’s website over the weekend as part of a series of photos of how the faith community is helping vaccinate people. The description accompanied a photo of a nurse from the CHEMED health center in Lakewood, NJ, home to a large Orthodox Jewish population. “JAP” stands for “Jewish American princess.”

Paul D’Ambrosio, the newspaper’s executive editor, said on Monday that the photo ran with “an unapproved and offensive caption. The photo was removed on March 21 as soon as it was brought to our attention. As executive editor of the Asbury Park Press, I apologize deeply to women, the Lakewood Jewish community, all members of the Jewish faith, the Asian American community and all our readers.”

He added that “the words in the caption were totally unacceptable and in no way reflect the principles and practices of the staff of the Press and Gannett,” outlets that have “a long history of fighting for inclusiveness, diversity and women’s rights.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the caption “completely, utterly unacceptable” and “offensive on so many levels.”
The Grammy Awards Illustrate The Cultural Mainstreaming of Antisemitism
In 2018, writing in the Tower, I asked whether antisemitism had ceased to be disqualifying in our culture. Three years later, it seems clear that the answer to that question is, “yes.” This year’s Grammy Awards are a prominent example of the cultural mainstreaming of antisemitism.

The award show did something unusual this year – the program featured an activist, who is otherwise not a singer, in one of the performances. But CAMERA, and others, have extensively documented the antisemitism of former Women’s March Leader Tamika Mallory. As we wrote previously:

In January of 2017, Tamika Mallory rose to prominence as one of four main leaders of the Women’s March, one of the largest political marches in U.S. history. It was not long afterwards, however, that news about her connection with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who has called Jews termites and called Hitler a “very great man,” as well as her own antisemitic comments began to slowly trickle out.

In May of 2017, Mallory posted a picture of herself with Farrakhan on Instagram, writing, “Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT. Happy Birthday @louisfarrakhan!” (GOAT stands for “Greatest of All Time.”) In February of 2018, as the Washington Post reported, “Mallory attended the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day event in Chicago. While [she was] there, Farrakhan delivered an inflammatory keynote that included statements about ‘powerful Jews’ he considered his enemies.” She publicly refused to condemn him when she was called to task.

In April of 2018, she slandered the ADL as “CONSTANTLY [sic] attacking black and brown people.”

Finally, in December of 2018, Tablet magazine reported that Mallory’s antisemitism had apparently infected the Women’s March from its earliest days, alienating other leaders. At the March’s very first leadership meeting, Mallory asserted, according to Tablet, “that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade,” – an antisemitic falsehood promoted by Farrakhan. After this and other problems were brought to light, the movement broke apart, with dueling, competing marches in January 2019. Mallory, along with co-leaders Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland, resigned from the March Board shortly afterwards.

None of this prevented Mallory, not only from being prominently featured in a performance during the Grammys, but from, in addition, participating in a “fireside chat” with John Legend as part of the Inaugural Black Music Collective Grammy Week Celebration.

Even the left-wing Jewish publication the Forward called out the Grammys, writing, “Mallory [seems] a less than ideal messenger. … Mallory, who condemned antisemitism in a statement while not distancing herself from Farrakhan, hasn’t always been the best ally herself.”
London Police Arrest Middle-Aged Man in Connection With Brutal Assault on Pregnant Jewish Woman
Police in London on Tuesday arrested a man in connection with last week’s horrifying assault on a pregnant Orthodox Jewish woman in the Stamford Hill neighborhood of the UK capital.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the man, in his late 50s, had been arrested at an address in north London on suspicion of Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) and is now in custody at a police station in east London.

The statement noted that police officers arrived at the scene of the assault about 30 minutes after it occurred on Thursday, March 18. CCTV video of the outrage showed a middle-aged man in a black coat and white sneakers running up behind the 20-year-old woman, who is seven months pregnant, as she walked down a gated alleyway towards her father’s apartment. He then thrust a pillow case over the victim’s head, attempting to suffocate her as he punched her repeatedly.

The police statement said that “enquiries are ongoing to establish a motive” for the attack.

“At this early stage, it is not believed to be linked with any other offenses,” the statement continued. “Police have been conducting patrols in the Stamford Hill area to provide reassurance to the local community.”

The victim’s brother told the London-based Jewish Chronicle that he was in no doubt that the attack was antisemitic in nature.

“It was because she was Jewish. She was wearing a Jewish headscarf at the time,” 18 year-old Solomo Reis said.

Reis told the paper that the victim’s baby had been unharmed and that the mother-to-be, who received hospital treatment for minor injuries, had made a full recovery. She is now in Israel on what is believed to be a planned trip.

‘Antisemitism-Lite’ in Contemporary Germany
On December 10, 2020, the English edition of Haaretz published an article under the headline, “In Germany, a witch hunt is raging against critics of Israel. Cultural leaders have had enough.”

The piece discussed the Initiative GG 5.3 Weltoffenheit (not the first of its kind), a statement of opposition by over 30 directors of German cultural and research institutions against a resolution of the German parliament (the Bundestag) from May 2019 that condemned the BDS movement.

“At the center of our initiative lies a common struggle against antisemitism, racism, right-wing extremism and any form of violent religious fundamentalism,” the statement said. That aim was impaired, so say the critics, by the Bundestag’s position: “By invoking this resolution, accusations of antisemitism are being misused to push aside important voices and to distort critical positions.”

What do contemporary Germans mean by “antisemitism?” In recent years, the subject has attracted much attention via books, articles, and declarations. A trend has emerged in German scholarly and public thinking: to combine Jew-hatred with other cultural positions, as in the statement above. The idea is that antisemitism and anti-Islamism, say, are both expressions of hatred, and Germans oppose antisemitism just as they oppose hatred of all foreigners.

The result is a kind of “antisemitism-lite” that is not so much an argued position as an attitude — one that is very influential and widely shared. It amounts to a softening of the issue, and thus represents a problematic understanding of Judeophobia. The moment the word “and” appears, antisemitism is pushed into a corner.

Compounding the problem is that the connections made are often wrong. For one thing, treating the issue as a problem of xenophobia is misguided, as modern Jews are not foreigners in their own countries. Albert Einstein, Liese Meitner, Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Walter Rathenau, and many more were well integrated citizens in their countries, and leading lights of Western culture.

Nor does antisemitism have anything to do with anti-Islamism. Their coupling is the result of a superficial mix of the psychological and social meanings of the word ”hate.”

Alison Chabloz: Blogger appears in court over ‘racial hatred’
A blogger has appeared in court charged with racial hatred.

Alison Chabloz, of Glossop, Derbyshire, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, March 17.

She is charged with racial hatred distributed by audio-visual / sound recording.

The 56-year-old was released on conditional bail and is next due to appear at the same court for a hearing on April 28.
Massachusetts High School Football Team Used Antisemitic Language in Play-Call System
School officials in Massachusetts disclosed on Wednesday that a high school football team has used antisemitic language in its on-field play-call system, including references to the Nazi Holocaust.

The language was used as part of the Duxbury High School team’s system for adjusting plays during games, according to a letter sent to the community from Duxbury Superintendent John Antonucci, Assistant Superintendent Danielle Klingaman and high school Principal James Donovan.

“As our investigation continues to unfold, it has become clear that members of the Duxbury High School football team did, in fact, use antisemitic and potentially other inappropriate and derogatory language,” Antonucci said in a statement on Wednesday.

The team was accused of using terms like “Auschwitz” while calling plays during a contest against Plymouth North High School last month.

“We are continuing our investigation and will have further comment at a later time,” Antonucci said.

The director of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) New England office said he wanted to know how long the offensive language had been in use.

“Auschwitz is one of history’s worst known death camps,” the ADL’s Robert Trestan said. “It really has no place being used as a substitute for a football play.”

Head coach David Maimaron apologized for the language in a separate statement.
Polish court: German TV must recant portrayal of anti-Nazi group as anti-Semitic
A Polish court on Tuesday upheld a ruling against German channel ZDF, saying it should apologize over its portrayal of Polish anti-Nazi fighters in its fictional TV series “Generation War.”

The case was brought by Zbigniew Radlowski, a 96-year-old veteran of the wartime Armia Krajowa, the Polish National Army directed by the government in exile in London.

Radlowski, a former concentration camp inmate who saved Jews during the war, objected to the portrayal of AK soldiers as vehement anti-Semites in the series.

The Krakow court ruling, quoted by the PAP news agency, stated that ZDF must apologize to Armia Krajowa veterans “for suggesting that this military organization had an anti-Semitic character.”

The German channel was also ordered to broadcast its apology on German and Polish television and to publish an apology on its website, leaving it there for three months.

When it appealed the initial ruling in 2018, ZDF had said that “the portrayal of the Polish characters in no way constituted a minimization of historical fact nor of Germany’s responsibility.”

The series, which was first aired in 2013, tells the story of five young Germans between 1941 and 1945.

One of the heroes, Viktor, is a Jew who manages to escape while being taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which Nazi Germany built in occupied Poland.
Orca Security raises $210 million, becomes ‘unicorn’ with $1.2 billion valuation
Orca Security has raised a $210 million Series C round led by the growth fund of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and Redpoint Ventures, the company said on Tuesday. The new investment brings the cybersecurity firm to a valuation of $1.2 billion, giving it “unicorn” status just two years after its founding.

The startup said the round was led by Alphabet’s CapitalG growth fund and follows a series B funding round in December in which it raised $55 million. Orca Security has raised a total of almost $300 million to date, including the latest funding round, which included participation from existing investors GGV Capital and ICONIQ Growth. In addition, Silicon Valley CISO Investments (SVCI), an angel syndicate of 50 prominent chief information security officers, again invested their personal funds and expertise in the firm, the startup said in a statement.

Orca Security secures the cloud, but it says that unlike competing tools that operate in silos, the firm treats the cloud as an interconnected web of assets, and weighs the risk based on the severity of the attack along with the potential damage it could do to the business.

This does away with “meaningless security alerts” to whittle them down to just the critical few that actually matter, along with an exact pathway to how to fix the breach and the threat. The solution gives enterprises “100 percent visibility and coverage within minutes,” the company says, detecting vulnerabilities, malware, misconfigurations, lateral movement risk, authentication risk, and secret keys among others. The firm’s patent-pending SideScanning technology is the heart of the platform.

Orca Security was founded in 2019 by Avi Shua and Gil Geron, both of whom formerly held executive positions at the Israeli cybersecurity giant Check Point Software Technologies.
Gold, diamonds, coffee: DMCC chair talks UAE-Israel trade opportunities
Dubai Multi Commodities Center executive chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem is an enthusiastic supporter of new trade ties with Israel. In a recent discussion he talked about the opportunities he sees and also his background meetings with Israeli colleagues in various industries. Prior to the Abraham Accords, he met Israelis in commodity fields that he deals with, such as diamonds.

Last year, in the wake of the peace deal, he was one of the first from Dubai to hop on a plane to Tel Aviv. He led the DMCC to put in place a representative office in the Israel Diamond Exchange. In January he hosted Alex Peterfreund, co-founder and cantor of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, and Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadi to put a mezuzah at the Israel Diamond Exchange office at the DMCC in Dubai.

Bin Sulayem said that months before the peace deal was announced, people thought he was crazy for predicting direct flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv. Now it’s happening. Last year some 100,000 Israelis went to Dubai before Israel closed its airports and went into lockdown.

Now travel looks to resume. Jewish life in the UAE and the Gulf is also thriving, with Hanukkah, Purim and now Passover events.

“In the beginning of last year I went to Israeli diamond week, my visit leaked to media, and I felt things were opening up,” recalled Bin Sulayem.
Jewish leading man George Segal is dead at 87
George Segal, one of the first of a new breed of Jewish actors who embraced their identity but were casual about it, died at the age of 87 on Tuesday in California. The cause of death was complications following bypass surgery, his wife, Sonia Segal, said in an announcement.

A breakout star in the quirkier, more independent American cinema that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, he worked with such directors as Mike Nichols, Paul Mazursky, Robert Altman and Carl Reiner. At home in both comedy and drama, he often appeared in light comedies as well as more demanding and artistic films.

Segal, who was born in New York City and raised in Great Neck, Long Island, to a Jewish family, excelled at playing ruggedly handsome, confident-bordering-on-arrogant guys, who were often trying to beat the system. Sometimes he portrayed characters who were clearly Jewish, as he did in one of his early roles as an intellectual in Sidney Lumet’s 1968 film, Bye Bye Braverman. Other times, he was simply an American, as he was when he played Biff in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in a television production in 1966 or in a television remake of The Desperate Hours, where he played a convict holding a family hostage portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the original.

His breakout role was as a young academic caught in the crossfire between a feuding older couple played by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Mike Nichols’ adaptation of the Edward Albee play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , for which he received his first and only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor in 1966.

He went on to star in Paul Mazursky’s offbeat 1973 drama, Blume in Love, as a man who falls apart when his wife leaves him, and Robert Altman’s acclaimed story of two gamblers, California Split, in 1974, with Elliott Gould.
‘I was overwhelmed seeing the dozens of wounded children’
Editor’s note: On March 8, at least 100 people were killed and more than 600 wounded in a series of explosions in the town of Bata in the central African nation of Equatorial Guinea.

The government turned to Israel for help, and on March 9 an emergency delegation of 67 regular and reserve troops from the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps, IDF Homefront Command and Ministry of Health took off for Equatorial Guinea.

Under the command of Col. Dr. Noam Fink, the delegation spent a week in Bata treating some 600 casualties, performing 84 lifesaving operations and giving emergency training to the local population. Non-medical members of the team helped find injured people trapped in buildings destroyed in the blasts.

Below is a first-person account from one member of the delegation, IDF medical officer Lt. Col. Dr. Yigal Chechik. He has an extraordinary back story: At age 18, he began a seven-year academic program leading to his medical degree, and then drafted to the IDF as an officer and orthopedic surgeon.

“It came as second nature when my phone rang on a seemingly normal Tuesday afternoon, and I was called upon to join the ranks of an IDF delegation to alleviate the medical burden of Equatorial Guinea following its crisis.

I knew that there would be need for orthopedic surgeons and I made sure I got on that plane when it departed.

Less than 48 hours after this phone call, I found myself in uniform, alongside approximately 60 of my colleagues — mostly doctors and nurses — rushing to the nearby hospital to get our briefing.

Walking around this hospital, I was overwhelmed with emotion seeing the dozens of wounded children, elderly, and many other people lying in beds, with hardly any modern medical equipment nor any staff to treat their wounds.
Germany funds plan to help Holocaust survivors around world access vaccines
A non-profit has secured $13.5 million from the German government in order to offer every Holocaust survivor help with the logistics of accessing a coronavirus vaccine.

The Claims Conference won’t be providing vaccines. But with the newly secured German funding, it is offering some 190,000 survivors around the world free help with the often daunting task of booking their appointment when it becomes available and with transportation.

The organization is aiming to phone the 190,000 people — every Diaspora-based Holocaust survivor who was persecuted because they have Jewish lineage — within a few months, and has already started the calls.

A key part of the service involves education on the benefits of vaccines, for which phone operators invoke the success of Israel’s inoculation drive, Greg Schneider, Claims Conference executive vice president, told The Times of Israel.

The Claims Conference negotiates reparations, restitution and other compensation claims on behalf of victims. Its new program comes on the heels of an initiative in Israel to provide transportation for survivors to and from vaccination clinics. In Israel, as per the plan for abroad, full medical teams were offered to survivors who are housebound and need oxygen or other support to leave home.

“We have seen in Israel how this type of assistance can make the difference in getting this life-saving vaccine,” said Schneider. “In the case of someone who is homebound it’s not just a matter of having the vaccine, we must find a way to get the survivor to the vaccination location.”

Many survivors are homebound and need special ambulance services to get to and from clinics, and large numbers will want help navigating the booking processes, Schneider said.

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