Wednesday, March 31, 2021

03/31 Links Pt2: Lies in the cognitive war against Israel; Combating Antisemitism Benefits the Arab World; Coronavirus: The Appropriation of Holocaust Symbolism; The Disintegration of the ACLU

From Ian:

Lies in the cognitive war against Israel Part 1
In the cognitive war against Israel, supporters of what historian Bat Ye’or called "Palestinianism" have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated employing traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies, abetted by the academic and media elites in the West, have been using different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize and eventually destroy Israel in a cognitive war.

By dressing up old hatreds against Jews and transforming it into what comprises the “new anti-Semitism,” combined with a purported goal of seeking social justice for the oppressed and repackaging ugly biases as academic scholarship, professors, student activist groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and Israel’s other ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of being:
-a racist, apartheid oppressor of an indigenous people;
-white European Jews with no historical connection to the Holy Land who are colonial usurpers of Muslim land;
-the main impediment to Middle East peace;
-a brutal military occupier of land on which illegal “settlements” are built as a way of subjugating an existing innocent population in the quest for a Great Israel that will swallow even more territory to which the Jews have no legitimate claim.

This is the current narrative in what Melanie Phillips has called “the world turned upside down,” an inversion of truth and fiction, calumnies and lies targeting the Jewish state in an effort to elevate the Palestinian Arab cause, delegitimize Israel, and make Israel a pariah in the world community.

This narrative is based on a presentation of lies, a series of repeated tropes about the malignancy and illegality of Israel that has little to do with facts, history, or reason. These lies are repeated promiscuously until they accepted as fact, a Goebbel-esque tradition which creates a new truth through the unrelenting repetition of falsity, disingenuity, and distortions of reality.

What follows are some of the major tropes which together serve to perpetuate the false narrative about Israel:
BESA: Combating Antisemitism Benefits the Arab World
Deep-rooted and persistent antisemitism is one of the central reasons for the Arab world’s lack of innovation and development relative to Israel and the Western world. The problem of antisemitism in the Arab world needs to be addressed before attempts are made to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, not postponed until after a solution is found.

The Abraham Accords marked a historic turning point after decades of Arab and Muslim antisemitism. This year, for the first time, International Holocaust Memorial Day was observed by Arabs from the Accords states as well as other Arab activists who work to combat antisemitism.

In the 1,300 years since the rise of Islam, when Jews were broadly accepted as part of the Islamic-dominated Middle East, if in the socially and legally-institutionalized inferior status of “a protected religious minority” (or Dhimmis), the region flourished. Conversely, there is an observable correlation between the rise of more widespread and virulent Islamic and Arab antisemitism and a pattern of instability, terrorism, and lack of development.

Pan-Arabism and Islamism created an enemy to explain away their failures. The Jews became the scapegoat for the inability of Arab states to keep pace with Western scientific and creative development. Pan-Arabists and Islamists spent decades feeding Arabs a steady diet of conspiracy theories to convince them that the Jews were to blame for all that ailed their societies.

Despite the campaign of hatred directed at it by the Arab world from its earliest days, Israel developed rapidly and has won 12 Nobel Prizes—more per capita than the US, France, and Germany—to the Arab world’s six since 1966. Israel is a high-tech superpower and one of the world’s largest arms exporters, with annual arms sales of approximately $6.5 billion. Despite Israel’s small size, about 4.5% of its GDP is spent on research and development, double the OECD average. Of this amount, about 30% goes to military R&D. By contrast, only 2% of German R&D and 17% of US R&D are devoted to the military.

The Disintegration of the ACLU
Puzzling, that is, until you realize that—like so many other institutions whose worthy missions we naively assumed to be inviolable—the ACLU is no longer itself. The organization known as the ACLU is now led by people beholden to an ideology purporting that the essential function of the Constitution has been to serve as a blueprint for white supremacy, and that its broad free-speech protections are not a tool of emancipation for society’s underdogs but rather the handmaiden of their oppression.

The capture of elite institutions by those in thrall to this dogma is how the movie industry can simultaneously venerate victims of the Hollywood blacklist while instituting its own content guidelines in the friendly guise of “representation and inclusion standards.” It’s how you get the bizarre phenomenon of journalists braying for censorship, and a newspaper union abandoning one of its members to the tender mercies of a corporate human resources minion out of Kafka. And it’s how a star attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that once prided itself on sending Jewish lawyers to defend the constitutional rights of neo-Nazis, issues a public call for a digital book burning.

Another casualty of the new dispensation is the intelligent yet civil debate between ideological adversaries modeled by Buckley and Glasser. For over three decades, Buckley invited the most significant left-wing politicians, activists, poets, intellectuals, comedians, and rabble rousers onto Firing Line. It took confidence to debate a man as well-read and rhetorically ambidextrous as Buckley, but his guests—Glasser prominent among them—gave as good as they got. Watching their spirited conversations, and comparing these with the dreck that fills our television airwaves today, is like an anthropologist discovering a lost tribe. If Buckley were still alive, many of today’s leading progressive heavyweights would not only refuse to debate him; they’d organize a petition to boot him off the air. Some of Glasser’s successors at the ACLU would probably sign it.

Much as it tries to inspire hope for the future of free speech and open inquiry, Mighty Ira stands as an elegy to a world that no longer exists—a world in which professional sports teams contributed something actually meaningful to the advancement of racial equality rather than ritualized grandstanding, the most famous conservative in the country was an almost parodically civilized intellectual and not some bloviating demagogue, personal affinity wasn’t contingent upon ideological affinity, and the American Civil Liberties Union stood for principles instead of party. Alas, for the rulers of our brave new world, those principles are as exotic as a Spaldeen ball.

Super-speedy Israeli COVID test gets European approval; airport rollout planned
An Israeli company said Wednesday that it received European approval for its rapid coronavirus test and it was poised to help kickstart international travel.

The handheld SpectraLIT machine eliminates the need for complex lab equipment by shining light through samples and giving immediate results using the spectral signature.

This means that staff in airport booths who are currently tasked with collecting test samples and dispatching them to labs will simply have a machine at hand and be able to give passengers results after just 20 seconds of analysis.

The system, which is being piloted at 36 hospitals worldwide, received European Medical Devices Directive approval for a swab version of its test, which allows it to start rollout across the European Union.

This represents a regulatory green light for most of the technology used in its flagship product: a gargle test that eliminates the need for swabbing and generates results from a mouthwash sample.

“This is an important milestone for fast testing,” Eyal Zimlichman, a senior doctor at Sheba Medical Center who helped develop the technology, told The Times of Israel.

“Despite the global rollout of vaccination efforts, COVID-19 still needs rapid diagnostic solutions to take steps back to normality, including international travel, and this represents an important milestone.”
US, 13 countries concerned WHO COVID-19 origin study is lacking
The United States and 13 other countries expressed concerns on Tuesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) report on the origins of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was delayed and lacked access to complete data, according to a joint statement.

It followed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus's assertion that data was withheld from its investigators who traveled to China to research the origins of the pandemic.

"It is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples," the joint statement said.

The statement was signed by the governments of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

China refused to provide raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team, one of the team’s investigators has already said, potentially complicating efforts to understand how the global pandemic began.

The countries' joint statement supported further studies of animals to find how the virus was introduced to humans, and called for a renewed commitment from WHO and member countries to access, transparency and timeliness.

"It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged," the statement said.
HonestReporting: Coronavirus: The Appropriation of Holocaust Symbolism
Protesters against the COVID-19 vaccine are appropriating the "yellow star" and other symbols associated with the Holocaust in order to advance their cause. Activists are drawing a comparison between proposed "vaccination passports" and the systemic discrimination and subsequent mass murder of Jews and other minorities by the Nazis. The problem is seemingly widespread. No matter one's position on being vaccinated, the horrors committed by Nazi Germany, particularly upon European Jewry, should never be minimized. The usage of Holocaust-related symbols to promote any agenda in unacceptable and a slippery slope to altogether denying the murder of 6 million Jews and countless others.

Incoherent Labour disciplinary decision removes Preston Tabois as London Assembly candidate but keeps him on as councillor and member
Preston Tabois, a Labour councillor in Haringey suspended six months ago and now readmitted to the Party, has been the subject of an incoherent disciplinary decision by the Labour Party that illustrates how far it still has to go in addressing antisemitism.

Cllr Tabois, who is also an activist with the Unite union and is backed by the pro-Corbyn Momentum pressure group, was reported by Guido Fawkes to have appeared to endorse the despicable notion that Jews murdered each other in the Holocaust in some masterplan to create the State of Israel, and other antisemitic conspiracy theories.

He was slated to be a Labour candidate for the London Assembly in the coming local elections. His suspension for six months, along with a fellow controversial Haringey councillor, Noah Tucker, who has also reportedly weighed in on the matter, brought that candidacy into question.

It is understood that Cllr Tabois claimed to the Party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) that he had made the inflammatory social media comments at a time when he did not know about antisemitism and would not now repeat the comments. The NEC panel suspended him for six months, apparently with a view to him being able to stand for the London Assembly once the suspension was lifted, but that decision has now been put to another NEC panel, which has voted to withdraw the Party’s endorsement of his candidacy.

In any event, while Cllr Tabois has reportedly lost his place on the Party’s electoral slate, he appears to remain a member of and councillor for the Party. Given that the much-anticipated independent disciplinary process that the Party is required to introduce has not yet been launched, it is not clear on what basis the NEC has reached this bizarre outcome.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Cllr Preston Tabois is the latest example of Labour’s unfit disciplinary regime. The panel that decided his case was working under guidelines nobody can fathom and has reached an outcome nobody can understand. This is not transparency and it is not zero tolerance. This sort of incoherent decision is why the Party so desperately needs the independent disciplinary system that the EHRC has mandated, and it is why no one can have confidence in Labour’s commitment to fighting antisemitism until that new system is implemented.”
UMN college Dems silence Palestinian voices
The University of Minnesota College Democrats says they want to provide a voice for Palestinians. So why did they censor the voice of this actual Palestinian?

It all started when they issued a statement on Instagram opposing the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism that passed on that campus in a referendum vote by a wide margin. Their argument states that this definition “silences” Palestinians. I was saddened to see them put out misinformation, so I commented on the post, “I’m a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem. You’re trying to speak on behalf of Palestinians, which is lies. I care about my Jewish brothers and sisters. I support IHRA because it is the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism”. When they saw my comment, they immediately deleted it and blocked my account. Does this sound like a group that cares about Palestinian voices? The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism does NOT silence Palestinians; only the UMN College Democrats do that.

The original Instagram post is glaringly ignorant. The UMN College Dems are not even attempting to hide their prejudice towards Jewish students. They need to do their homework! Former President Barack Obama was the first to adopt this definition at the U.S. State Department, Prominent Democrats including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Kamala Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all support it. And of course, President Joe Biden strenuously endorsed the IHRA just a few weeks ago. We already know UMN College Dems ignore Palestinian voices. Apparently, they ignore the Democratic Party as well.

The false claim that the IHRA definition will silence Palestinians by banning criticism of Israel is completely unfounded. The definition makes clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” If anything, it should make it easier to criticize Israel because there is a clear distinction between what does and does not cross the line and constitute antisemitism.
University of Minnesota Students Vote to Adopt Leading Definition of Antisemitism After Contentious Debate
University of Minnesota students voted in favor of adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism on Monday, after a heated debate among student groups and in the wake of a series of antisemitic incidents on campus in recent years.

At the campus-wide referendum — submitted by Minnesota Hillel and Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and which took place on March 22 through March 26 — more than 1,700 students, or 58%, voted to adopt the IHRA definition, which has been adopted by 31 states around the world, including the US State Department, and a growing number of universities.

“United, the entire Jewish community — Minnesota Hillel, SSI at the University of Minnesota, Chabad University of Minnesota, AEPi — succeeded at defining antisemitism on our campus. We are proud and thankful for the support of this coalition of Jewish student organizations and the support of each and every single individual that voted “YES” in support of our cause,” SSI at the University of Minnesota wrote in a statement on Facebook. “SSI at the University of Minnesota looks forward to a safe and inclusive environment for all students at the University of Minnesota and is excited to see the way in which the IHRA definition of antisemitism will help to make this possible.

“I am so proud of everyone who helped work on the IHRA referendum,” Minnesota Hillel’s student president Kelsey Bailey wrote on Facebook. “Together we made the first step in fighting anti-Semitism on our campus.”

A March 19 open letter opposing the referendum — authored by “a group of Jewish and allied students” and signed by over 180 University of Minnesota community members — claimed that the definition suppressed free speech and included an undue focus on criticisms of Israel.

“Regardless of Minnesota Hillel’s intentions in introducing this referendum, the IHRA working definition will cause more harm than good and not alleviate antisemitism,” the students wrote.
City University must ignore shameful students’ vote against adoption of International Definition of Antisemitism
Students at City University in London have voted in a campus-wide referendum in favour of a resolution calling on the University to reject the International Definition of Antisemitism.

A similar motion had been brought to a student members meeting in November 2020, where all students could vote, and it failed by an overwhelming margin, with 66% declining to support it. But the leadership of the Students’ Union insisted on taking the unusual step of calling a campus-wide referendum on the question: “Should the University reject the IHRA definition of antisemitism?”

City University has not yet adopted the International (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism.

In deciding to call the referendum, it is understood that the Students’ Union appallingly failed to consult the Jewish Society.

It has been reported that 671 students voted in favour of the motion, with 260 opposed, representing a turnout of barely five percent of the estimated 20,000 students on campus. The University and College Union (UCU), which has a horrendous reputation in the Jewish community, reportedly backed the motion.

One visiting academic reportedly told the Jewish News that the passage of the motion would create a “hostile environment” for Jewish staff and students on campus, adding: “It’s an insult not to adopt it.”

New York Times Corrects Its Error About ‘Grapefruit Juice’ in Havdalah
An article in the New York Times reports on a high school baseball player, Elie Kligman, who won’t play games on the sabbath.

In general it’s nice to see the Times portray observant Jews as something other than the source of all coronavirus infections. As is often the case with the Times, however, a clumsy error on a detail winds up illustrating how unfamiliar the paper’s editors are with the basics of Jewish ritual practice.

The article carries a correction: “An earlier version of this article described incorrectly one way the Kligmans mark the end of the sabbath on a game day. They sip grape juice — not grapefruit juice — instead of wine.”

The grapefruit league is a term for the spring training competitions that professional baseball players play in Florida, which has a substantial citrus industry. But grape juice, not grapefruit juice, is a common nonalcoholic substitute for wine in Jewish rituals, especially where young people or children are involved. Grape juice is a kind of fruit juice, so maybe the writer or editor misunderstood an explanation that said grape fruit-juice, and wrote grapefruit juice instead.

It’s a minor error, but it’s the sort of thing that makes anyone who is familiar with these rituals and practices suspect that the Times just doesn’t have anyone knowledgeable around to catch this sort of thing before it in print, or doesn’t consider it important enough to get right.

The full sentence that was changed, as corrected, reads, “The Kligmans wrap up their sabbath observance with the Havdalah ceremony — a ritual commemorating the end of the sabbath, in which participants sip wine (or grape juice on game day), light a candle, sniff a sweet spice to recall the sweetness of the day, say a prayer — and then Elie and Ari jump in their uniforms and zoom off to a game.”
PBS postpones documentary on evangelicals and Israel for ‘editorial review’
PBS, the US public broadcaster, has decided to postpone airing the documentary “Til Kingdom Come,” which examines the close relationship between American evangelicals and Israel, in the light of accusations that the film misleadingly spliced together two separate parts of a speech by former US president Donald Trump.

The film, which was directed by the Russian-Israeli documentary filmmaker Maya Zinshtein, was released as a rental for in-home viewing in late February ahead of a planned broadcast premiere on March 29 as part of the “Independent Lens” series on PBS.

But the documentary did not air as scheduled on Sunday, and the “Independent Lens” website and Twitter account said the broadcast had been postponed for an “independent editorial review.”

“PBS takes the issue of editorial integrity very seriously,” PBS told JTA in a statement Tuesday. “After consulting with our producing partners at Independent Lens, we have decided to postpone PBS’s broadcast of ‘Til Kingdom Come’ while an independent review of the film is conducted.”

The review appears to have been triggered by a report, issued March 21, by the pro-Israel watchdog group CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

CAMERA said the documentary contained inaccurate editing of a quote by Trump during a January 2020 appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after releasing his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.
BBC WS radio misleads on an Israeli political party’s platform
After Pater had pointed out that at that time the actual results had yet to come in but the exit polls suggested a very slim majority for the Netanyahu camp, McDonnell pursued her theme.

McDonnell: “There are concerns that he’s [Netanyahu] going to have to get into bed with ultra-orthodox parties…ahm Shas party for example who have anti-gay views, anti-women…ahm…anti-women views…ahm…they want to…ahm…expel disloyal Arabs from the state. Ahm…what are people saying about the kind of coalitions he may have to forge?”

According to the Israel Democracy Institute the Shas party did not put out a manifesto ahead of the latest election. In fact, the last manifesto Shas did publish was in 2006 and that document of principles focuses on social, environmental and economic issues.

CAMERA UK has therefore written to the BBC to ask what evidence – if any – it has to back up McDonnell’s claim that the Shas party wants to “expel disloyal Arabs” from Israel.
Telegraph corrects sentence suggesting that Edward Said was a 'refugee'
Two weeks ago, we posted about a Telegraph review of a book about the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said which included the following:
In 1951, in the wake of Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian lands, the Said family moved to the US, where Said enjoyed an Ivy League education.

First, we noted how the author, Rupert Christiansen, used a propagandistic and ahistorical euphemism to refer to the 1948 War, in which five Arab armies invaded and attempted to annihilate the nascent Jewish state. Further, the land in question before the war was part of the British Mandate, and not “Palestinian”.

In our complaint to editors, we objected to the language about 1948, but also about the sentence’s false suggestion that Said was a refugee.

First, it wasn’t the “Said family” that moved to the US in 1951, it was just Edward Said.

And, Said moved from Cairo, the location of his family home, not, as readers would likely intuit given the context of the article, from Jerusalem. In fact, Said’s family reportedly only stayed in Jerusalem for the first two years of his life. He was raised in Cairo, and only moved to the US in 1951 because his father sent him to a boarding school in Massachusetts after being expelled from an elite private school in Cairo.

The 1948 War – particularly Israel’s actions during the war – played no role whatsoever in Edward Said’s move to the US, and in fact didn’t impact his family at all.

Over 525 Mayors Join Initiative With Top US Jewish Group to Fight Antisemitism
Over 525 mayors from across the United States have signed on to a joint national effort with a top US Jewish organization to fight antisemitism.

The Mayors United Against Antisemitism initiative, spearheaded by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the US Conference of Mayors (USCM), calls for condemnation of antisemitism; support for national, state, and local efforts to fight antisemitism; rejecting the claim that Israel is the reason for antisemitic acts; recognizing the need for vigilance against antisemitism and hate crimes; and affirming a climate of mutual understanding and respect.

“In a world of global communications, where antisemitic ideas spread rapidly, a concerted and principled response is required to raise awareness, to educate, and to ensure decency prevails,” said Mayors United Against Antisemitism in a statement. “As mayors and municipal leaders, we have a unique responsibility to speak out against the growing menace of antisemitism.”

Among the mayors who have signed on are Bill de Blasio of New York City, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Lori E. Lightfoot of Chicago, Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia, and Francis X. Suarez of Miami.

The president of the USCM, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, said, “The US Conference of Mayors has always called on mayors to speak out against hate crimes wherever and whenever they occur — in our nation and in our own cities.”

“By signing this statement, more than 525 mayors registered their opposition to the dramatic increase in antisemitism we have experienced in our country and pledged to work together to reverse it,” he said.
1/4 of US Jews personally experienced anti-Semitism since 2016 — ADL
An annual survey from the Anti-Defamation League found that a quarter of American Jews have personally experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years, and that most American Jews have witnessed anti-Semitic comments targeting others.

In that same time period, 9% of Jewish respondents said they have been the victim of an anti-Semitic physical attack.

In total, 63% of Jewish respondents reported that they had either witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the years since 2016, an increase from 54% last year. The survey was taken in early January and includes responses from 503 Jewish-American adults. The margin of error is 4.4%.

The proportion of Jews who said they have experienced anti-Semitism or been the victim of a physical attack are slightly higher than they were last year but are within the margin of error.

Last year, 20% of Jews said they had experienced anti-Semitism over the past five years, while 5% reported being the victim of a physical attack.

In addition, 40% of respondents said they heard anti-Semitic comments directed at someone else over the past year. Some 59% of respondents said they feel Jews are less safe in the United States than they were a decade ago, similar to the figure from last year’s survey.
Canadian Jews Remain Most Targeted for Religious Hate Crimes, Report Finds
Jews remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada, according to the Canadian government’s annual survey of police-reported hate crimes.

The report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier. In particular, some 608 hate crimes targeted religion, down 7 percent compared to 2018. This number, however, remains higher than those recorded before 2017, when it hit its peak at 842 incidents.

According to the report, Jewish Canadians were targeted 296 times in 2019—a 20 percent decrease from 372 in 2018.

Despite the decrease, attacks on Jewish Canadians still occurred on average five times per week during 2019 with Jews comprising some 50 percent of overall religious hate crimes, Muslims at 10 percent, and Catholics and other religions at 3 percent each.

The frequency of attacks comes despite the fact that the country’s Jewish community comprises only 1 percent of the population, and yet is the target of 17 percent of all police-reported hate crimes.

“Though we welcome the 20 percent decrease in crimes targeting the Jewish community, Jewish Canadians still remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime and second overall,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), in a statement.
Former Celebrity Chef Turned Antisemitic Agitator Flees to Turkey to Escape German Arrest Warrant
A former celebrity chef who turned into one of Germany’s most vocal antisemitic agitators has fled to Turkey to escape an arrest warrant issued by German authorities last week.

Attila Hildmann — a self-described “ultra right-winger” of Turkish origin who was brought up by German adoptive parents — was widely-known in Germany for his vegan recipe books and frequent appearances on TV food programs over the previous decade. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hildmann became one of the leaders of the protest movement opposed to social distancing and other public health measures that has won huge support on the German far right.

Throughout the crisis, Hildmann has used his channel on the social media platform Telegram to spread antisemitic claims about the global extent of “Jewish” and “Zionist” power among more than 120,000 followers. He has regularly deployed Nazi terms like “parasites” and “subhumans” to underline his accusation that the pandemic is a symptom of wider global conspiracy run by prominent Jews such as financier George Soros and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Hildmann has also conducted snap polls on his Telegram feed with questions such as, “Do you think Jews are a) human beings or b) lying parasites?” According to German broadcaster DW, that particular question attracted around 2,500 answers, with 60 percent of respondents choosing the second option.

Hildmann was reported to have gone into hiding in February following increased scrutiny of his antics from the Berlin police, who searched his apartment and confiscated laptops, cellphones and potentially “seditious” documents. Last Thursday, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for Hildmann, who promptly appeared on Twitter to confirm that he was now in Turkey — lauding the country as the “land of my blood” and railing against Germany as a “Jewish republic.”
Germany closes case against ex-Nazi guard, 95, citing lack of evidence
German prosecutors said Wednesday they have closed their case due to lack of evidence against a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard recently deported by the United States.

Friedrich Karl Berger arrived in Frankfurt on February 20, “possibly the last” such expulsion by Washington of a former Nazi, a US official had said then.

Prosecutors in the city of Celle, who had previously halted their probe of the man, had reopened investigations over suspicion of complicity in murders on his return, as Berger had said he was willing to be questioned.

But “after exhausting all evidence, prosecutors at Celle have once again closed the investigation because of a lack of sufficient suspicion,” they said in a statement.

Berger, who had retained German citizenship, was deported for taking part in “Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution” while serving as an armed guard at the Neuengamme concentration camp system in 1945, the US Justice Department said.

He had been living in the US since 1959, and was stationed as a young man from January 28, 1945 to April 4, 1945, at a subcamp of Neuengamme, near Meppen, Germany.

German investigators had been examining whether during his time there, and in particular when “monitoring a march evacuating the sub-camp, he had contributed to the death of many detainees.”
Monument for Holocaust victims defaced with swastikas in Poland
A Polish monument memorializing the victims of the Częstochowa ghetto has been vandalized with Nazi symbolism and references, including swastikas, the European Jewish Congress said Tuesday.

The monument, which honors the 48,000 Jews confined to the ghetto during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland, was smeared in black graffiti.

Alongside swastikas, perpetrators wrote “SS,” the number 1488 and the names of two prominent Holocaust deniers, Jurgen Graf and Ursula Haverbeck.

The number 88 is a Neo-nazi numerical code used to mean “Heil Hitler” among white supremacists. The number 14, often used in tandem with 88, references “Fourteen Words,” a slogan put forth by David Lane, a neo-Nazi who belonged to the domestic terrorist organization The Order. Lane was convicted of — among other things — serving as an accomplice in the murder of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host.

Lane’s slogan reads: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The memorial was created by Samuel Willenberg, a Częstochowa artist who survived the Treblinka death camp. It stands on the site of a former railway station where Nazis transported 40,000 Jews, mostly from Częstochowa, to Treblinka in September and October of 1942.

It was unveiled in 2009. The memorial features a wall with a large, brutal crack in the middle, symbolizing the murder of Częstochowa Jews.
Dolls hanged outside Swedish synagogue to protest Passover
Police in Norrkoping, Sweden, are investigating after someone left a hate-filled message and a group of dolls hanging outside a synagogue there on the first day of Passover, March 28.

According to a post from the Anti-Defamation League, the note referred to Passover being a "Jewish celebration of killing thousands of Egyptian children." The ADL also posted a photo of some of the hanging dolls with what appeared to be red paint or markers on them.

The ADL also noted that the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement posted the incident, including a photo taken at night that showed even more dolls hanging outside. In its tweet, the ADL said: "We urge the police to take quick action against such intimidation and harassment."

A local news website reported that police would patrol the synagogue during the remainder of the holiday, which continues through Sunday night. Norrkoping is about 100 miles south of Stockholm, and according to the European Jewish Congress, has a small Jewish community.
Teenager who called himself Hitler in online neo-Nazi group he created and promoted proscribed organisation admits terrorism offences
A teenager from Newcastle who called himself Hitler on numerous social media platforms and an online group that he created glorifying far-right violence has pleaded guilty to terrorism offences.

The sixteen-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted to four counts of inviting support for the proscribed neo-Nazi terror group, National Action, as well as three counts of encouraging terrorism and four counts of stirring racial and religious hatred.

He had reportedly posted antisemitic and anti-Muslim material and created stickers with his group’s logo, which he disseminated in his local area.

North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, sitting as a youth court, sentenced him to a twelve-month intensive referral order. He will also be subject to terrorism notification requirements for ten years, mandating him to inform the authorities of his whereabouts and certain activities.

Former NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Talks Passover Prep, Daily Talmud Study in GQ Interview
Six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire shared his Passover eve preparations and details of his daily study of Jewish texts in a photo-packed interview with GQ magazine, published Tuesday.

“The only thing I have left to do is some more searching under the couch and vacuuming,” the former NBA forward told writer Yaron Weitzman, as the Stoudemire family prepared Friday for the upcoming holiday. “And then tomorrow is the actual last day to get rid of all the chametz,” or the leavened food products prohibited during Passover.

Stoudemire spent 14 seasons in the NBA, and later played professionally in Israel as he grew closer to his Jewish roots and became more observant — ultimately completing an Orthodox conversion and becoming an Israeli citizen. He detailed his daily religious practice to GQ, which usually includes a 6:45 am Talmud lesson before morning prayers, an 11 am prayer study, a 1 pm study of the Shabbat laws, a second Talmud lesson at 2 pm and a Hebrew language session at 3 pm.

Stoudemire, who now serves as a player development assistant for the the high-flying Brooklyn Nets, said he sticks to that rigorous routine even if it means missing the latest NBA news. When the team recently traded for former MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets, Stoudemire said he first found out about the deal from his own rabbi.
Batwoman Receives Jewish Burial on CW Superhero Show
On Sunday night’s episode of The CW show “Batwoman,” the superhero received a notably Jewish funeral after she was presumed to be dead.

Bruce Wayne’s maternal cousin Kate Kane, also known as Batwoman, is written as a lesbian and an openly Jewish character. First introduced in the comic books as Jewish, she was played in the show’s first season by Ruby Rose, who left the program after she sustained an injury during a stunt. British actress Wallis Day has taken over the role.

Kane is presumed dead at the beginning of the second season, having been involved in a plane crash. At the start of episode 9 on Sunday, the character was given a Jewish funeral, complete with a plain wooden coffin marked with a Star of David. Mourners wore kippahs and recited “May her memory be a blessing” at the conclusion of the ceremony.

During an interview in August 2019, the show’s executive producer Caroline Dries said Kane was “a Jewish woman” and that they were “trying to find ways of incorporating that without it being a huge thing.” Dries revealed that a scene showcasing Kane’s Jewish identity was filmed for the show’s pilot episode, although it was ultimately cut. Producers have also reportedly said they planned to include a scene of Kane coming home from her bat mitzvah, but that it did not make the final cut.
Israel Releases Revamped 2021 Eurovision Entry
Singer Eden Alene will represent Israel at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest with her song, “Set Me Free.”

A new video featuring a revamped version of the song was released on Friday.

Alene was scheduled to represent Israel at the contest in 2020 with “Feker Libi,” a song written, among others, by famous Israeli singer Idan Raichel, in English, Hebrew, Amharic and Arabic.

The competition was canceled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Israel hosted the Eurovision in 2019 in Tel Aviv, after singer Netta Barzilai‘s win the year before with her pop anthem, “Toy,” marked Israel’s fourth win in the contest.

The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and will consist of two semi-finals, on May 18 and 20, with the final set to air on May 22.
On This Day: Alhambra Decree begins tragic expulsion of Spanish Jewry
March 31, 1492 marked a tragic day for Spanish Jewry, when the infamous Alhambra Decree declared the expulsion of all Jews from Spain. While explorer Christopher Columbus set out to “sail the ocean blue,” the Jews of Spain were packing their things and fleeing for their lives.

"The counsel and advice of prelates, great noblemen of our kingdoms, and other persons of learning and wisdom of our council... resolve to order the said Jews and Jewesses of our kingdoms to depart and never to return or come back," declared King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

This edict of expulsion demanded that "all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be, who live, reside, and exist in our said kingdoms and lordships," no matter their personal status or identity, leave their homes within four months of the declaration. Those who did not obey were sentenced to death without trial and their property was confiscated by the government.

The final expulsion of Spanish Jewry in 1492 followed more than 200 years of persecution by Christian authorities and antisemitic mobs. Though many Jews converted to Christianity as conversos and achieved high positions in both the church and government, they were still targeted. On March 14, 1473, the papal decree "Exigit sinceras devotionis affectus," translated as "sincere devotion is required," allowed for the legal persecution of the conversos. The auto-da-fé, act of faith, ceremonies began soon after, putting suspected heretics of the Christian faith on public trial.

By 1484, Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada published the "28 articles" that officially authorized the Spanish Inquisition. Interrogations, including torture and cruel punishments, were instituted against suspects of church betrayal, and execution was permitted through civil authority.
Rare Coin Rediscovered During Conservation Project of Jerusalem Museum Tower
A box of artifacts was rediscovered during a major conservation project to restore the stones of the “Phasael” tower of the Jerusalem citadel’s $40 million renewal project, the Tower of David Museum said Monday.

Additionally, the team discovered a box of artifacts, originally excavated in the 1980s. Within it, they uncovered a rare silver coin from the Second Temple period — a “Tyre shekel.”

Two images are imprinted on either side of the coin: On one face is Melqart, the chief god of the Phoenician city of Tyre, and on the other, an eagle.

The coins were struck at some point between 125 BCE and the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 66 CE, when they were used to pay a half-shekel tax. Talmudic sources suggest that the Tyrian shekel was likely the only means of paying the head tax at the Temple for its upkeep.

Although well-known in ancient and biblical sources, these coins are rare — only a few have been found. The coin will be displayed as part of the museum’s new permanent exhibition next year.

During the planning stages of the project, conservationists discovered a large, structural crack running from the top to the bottom of the tower, which soon became the project’s central focus, according to the museum.

As part of the team’s renewal project, conservationists cleaned and treated the stones of the tower — dating back more than 2,000 years — with temporary glue to maintain stability. (h/t jzaik)