Thursday, April 15, 2021

From Ian:

After last year’s lockdown, Israelis back at parks to celebrate Independence Day
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks across the country Thursday, barbecuing, waving flags and craning their necks for a glimpse of the Air Force fighter jets’ flyby to mark the country’s 73rd Independence Day.

While most wore face coverings or had masks strapped around their chins, the scenes looked nearly identical to those from the pre-coronavirus era. After an early wave of the pandemic tamed celebrations significantly last year, Israelis were allowed to celebrate freely this year, with restrictions drawn back almost entirely.

As a result, families flocked to national parks and beaches, filling many to full capacity. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority issued a statement early Thursday afternoon urging civilians to avoid traveling to the Tel Ashkelon National Park in the coming hours due to overcrowding.

The Tze’elon, Shikmim and Amnon beaches at the Sea of Galilee were also shuttered to additional visitors after reaching full capacity, the parks authority said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Air Force planes jetted across the country to mark the occasion. The flyover, a popular and iconic feature of Independence Day celebrations, is passing over more cities and towns than usual this year in what the Israel Defense Forces has called a “salute” to all Israeli citizens.

Last year, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flyby saluted medical staff over the nation’s hospitals.

Ben-Dror Yemini: On this Independence Day, Israelis have a lot to be proud of
There is no point in denying that after four consecutive election rounds in two years, the atmosphere in the country is tough and even irritating.

And while the public discourse, as filled with discontent as it is, paints a seemingly gloomy picture, the people of Israel are actually pretty pleased with their country - as they should be.

This is not due to blind optimism spurred by the festivities of the 73rd Independence Day. No, it is an actual fact solidified by concrete data.

Israel is placed fourth among OECD countries in the sphere of healthcare. And while the average happiness index score among OECD countries is hovering around 6.5 out of 10, in Israel the score is 8.5.

Indeed, the people of Israel are stronger than the eroding influence of its political system.

And while the voices of discontent among Israelis are indeed loud, they do not, in fact, represent the majority.

Israel's Gini index - a measure of the distribution of income across a population - reached a 20-year low in 2018, which means inequality gap is narrowing.

That is without mentioning the fact that Israel is ranked fifth in the world in intergenerational mobility - which means that an individual's wellbeing is less dependent on the socioeconomic status of his or her parents. In that respect, we have beaten countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Germany and Japan.

According to one survey, however, as least 48% of Israelis are considering emigrating to another country. In reality though, Israelis tend to emigrate much less, at least compared to other OECD countries.

In fact, emigration from Israel has declined. In 1990, according to a study by Uri Altman, the rate of those leaving Israel was 5.3 people per 1,000. After about a decade, it dropped to 4.2 per 1,000 and by 2017 it stood at about 1.6 per 1,000.

It seems that despite warnings about people leaving the country en mass, the majority of Israelis have actually decided to put down roots in the Jewish State.

Independence Day torch lighters span in age from 18 to 102
Fourteen people have been selected to light the symbolic torches at this year’s Israel Independence Day ceremony on Wednesday night, according to Israeli news site Maariv.

The ceremony, in which 12 torches are lit to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel, traditionally marks the transition between Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and Independence Day marking the country’s founding in 1948.

Among those who are being honored as torchbearers are Ofri Butbul, an 18-year-old Israeli who saved the life of an elderly man she had gotten to know as a volunteer with a nonprofit organization, as well as Yaish Giat, a 102-year-old Yemenite Torah scholar who owns a spice shop and sells natural medicines.

A committee chooses the torchbearers, who are approved by Israel’s sports and culture ministers.

Giat was surprised to hear he had been chosen for the honor.

“People say it is a great honor. I do not know,” he told Ynet. “When I raise the torch I will wish that our nation love one another, that people will respect one another for the benefit of the Land of Israel.”

This year’s Diaspora representative, a recognition introduced in 2017, will go to Gabriela Sztrigler Lew, a volunteer from Mexico who turns 20 this week.

Lew has participated in more than 10 humanitarian missions with the Shalom Corps, an organization run by Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Jewish Agency, and assisting Holocaust survivors during the pandemic.
CEO of Pfizer proud of Israel's achievements on Independence Day
Israel offered Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla the chance to light an Independence Day torch, and although he declined due a scheduling conflict, the CEO did give a pre-recorded video speech at the event.

"I'm honored that you've chosen to pay tribute to Pfizer in this Independence Day ceremony," Bourla began.

"Along with other Jews in the world, I take immense pride in Israel. Pride in the fact that Israel is there for Jews everywhere, for us and for our children. Pride in Israel's achievements in science, technology, innovation, and so much more" he told the audience.

"This year, the partnership between Israel and Pfizer produced yet another groundbreaking achievement," he said. "Together we are demonstrating that through mass vaccinations, we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives. I want to thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all the Pfizer colleagues in Israel. We have been shown that there is a path back to normalcy – and that is definitely something the entire world can celebrate."

The CEO concluded by saying "Happy Independence Day" in Hebrew.

Bari Weiss: Why France Refuses to Prosecute an Antisemitic Murderer
And so it is the case with the four-year saga of Sarah Halimi. The final injustice came yesterday, when the country’s top appeals court upheld the earlier, lower court decision that Traor茅 could not be held criminally responsible because he was high. Apparently smoking a joint had compromised his “discernment” and he attacked and killed Halimi not because he hated Jews, but because he was in a “delirious fit.”

As Francis Szpiner, one of the Halimi family’s lawyers, asked of the court’s strange logic: “Will this also apply to drunk drivers who kill children on the road?” The question answers itself.

The madness here does not belong to Traor茅. It belongs to France.

If you are new to the subject of French anti-Semitism — a survey put by the AJC last year found that 70 percent of French Jews say they have been victims of at least one antisemitic incident in their lifetime — this piece is a good primer.

The French Jewish community, which is the largest Jewish community in all of Europe, has seen which way the wind is blowing for awhile now. French Jews are heading for the exits, mostly to Israel, and this National Geographic essay powerfully captures the phenomenon.

If you are looking to go deeper into this topic, I highly recommend the work of the French writer Marc Weitzmann, who has been chronicling his country’s anti-Jewish violence and its paralysis in the face of it. His 2019 book is called “Hate: The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism in France (and What It Means for Us).”

What is it with J Street and anti-Semites?
Why does J Street keep honoring and defending individuals who have made anti-Semitic remarks?

The latest is former President Jimmy Carter, who will receive an award from J Street at its upcoming convention on April 18. I’m not saying that Carter’s numerous attacks on Israel—as ugly and unfair as they were—constituted anti-Semitism. Not even his accusation that Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs is worse than the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 people were massacred.

No, I am referring to what Professor Deborah Lipstadt wrote in her essay, “Jimmy Carter’s Jewish Problem,” in The Washington Post, on Jan. 20, 2007. She wrote that in his responses to criticism of his anti-Israel book, Carter “has relied on anti-Semitic stereotypes in defense.”

Lipstadt continued: “Carter has repeatedly fallen back—possibly unconsciously—on traditional anti-Semitic canards. … Carter reflexively fell back on this kind of innuendo about Jewish control of the media and government. Even if unconscious, such stereotyping from a man of his stature is noteworthy. When David Duke spouts it, I yawn. When Jimmy Carter does, I shudder.”

Lipstadt was referring to the media appearances by Carter in 2006 in which he repeatedly suggested that all criticism of his book emanated from attempts by Jews to control the media and silence him. On “Larry King Live” on Nov. 26, 2006, Carter claimed that he had “witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts.” On “Meet the Press” on Dec. 3, 2006, Carter specifically singled out what he called “the Jewish lobby” as “part” of the alleged conspiracy to silence him.

Before Carter, J Street’s favorite ex-politician was James Baker.

The former Secretary of State was the keynote speaker at J Street’s 2015 convention. At first, it must have seemed odd that the overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic members of J Street would be honoring and applauding a lifelong conservative Republican. But apparently, Baker’s views on abortion and taxes were forgiven and forgotten in J Street’s enthusiasm for Baker’s harsh anti-Israel policies.
Israel Advocacy Movement: Zionist vs. Islamist
Rather than debating one of our Islamist trolls in the comments, we invited them onto our live stream ??

1,500 rabbis blast ADL for calling Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson
In response to ADL's call on Fox News to fire host Tucker Carlson, the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) wrote a letter on Tuesday calling out the organization for its "grossly misplaced charges of antisemitism."

The letter was supported by 1,500 traditional orthodox rabbis, who informed ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt that "alas, the ADL has become markedly partisan under your leadership."

The ADL had called for Carlson to be fired because, in a segment on the right-wing cable news channel last week, Carlson endorsed the idea that there is a coordinated campaign to replace the population of the United States with immigrants from the “third world.”

The conspiracy theory that Jews are orchestrating a “great replacement” of white westerners with nonwhite immigrants is popular among white supremacists and fueled the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, among other attacks.

On ADL's blog, the organization wrote that "the alt right has gone from relative obscurity to being one of the United States' most visible extremist movements."

However, the CJV's letter mentioned that the ADL's focus on these right wing neo-Nazis as the core source of antisemitism neglects radical Islam and the democratic and college progressive movements, which are just as dangerous.
America’s Friendship with Israel is Changing for the Worse
An explosion deep underground in Iran’s nuclear site may set their nuclear program back at least 9 months. Who’s to blame? Israel will neither confirm or deny responsibility.

Joe Biden’s policies toward Israel are only getting worse. Instead of focusing on America’s enduring relationship with Israel, Biden’s administration is choosing to cater to the Palestinian Authority.

Are you celebrating Israel’s Independence Day? Be inspired by the miraculous history of the state of Israel and the incredible prophecies that are happening today.

Alpha Epsilon Pi House at Rutgers University Egged During 24-Hour Reading of Names for Yom Hashoah
Eggs were thrown at Rutgers University’s Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity last week, during a 24-hour reading of the names of Holocaust victims for the house’s annual Yom Hashoah ceremony.

“I am deeply dismayed by this act of ignorance and the hurt that it has caused members of our Jewish community,” said Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy in a statement published Tuesday on social media, reported The Daily Targum, a student newspaper.

“All members of our campus community deserve to learn and work in an environment in which they feel fully safe, valued and respected, free from antisemitism, and all other forms of hate and discrimination. Rutgers University-New Brunswick will provide all necessary resources to help assure a thorough investigation by the Rutgers University Police Department to identify those responsible and hold them accountable,” Molloy continued.

He also said that the Office of the Senior Vice President for Equity would soon highlight resources related to antisemitism, and work with the Jewish community on campus during the “diversity strategic planning process.”

In a statement released Sunday, Rutgers University Student Assembly President Nicholas LaBelle and Vice President Arielle Dublin said that they would “do all in our power to ensure that those responsible will see justice,” and cited the Assembly’s recent adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
High School English Teacher Downplays Holocaust
A North Carolina teacher’s lesson on slavery included a discussion question that downplayed the Holocaust and likened 19th-century Americans to Nazis.

Ardrey Kell High School English teacher Lisa Patrizio asked her 11th-grade students to describe a fictional character’s thoughts after reading about World War II. The correct answer to the multiple-choice question, a screenshot of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, implied that Americans give undue weight to the horrors of the Holocaust.

"While the monstrosities of the Holocaust may have been more intense over a shorter period of time, those who lived through slavery endured conditions just as horrible over a much longer duration," the answer read. "Yet while Americans are largely comfortable acknowledging the events of the Holocaust as the worst impulses of mankind, there is often more hesitancy to take responsibility for the degradations of enslaved people that took place on American soil."

The quiz question asked what the character had learned after reading that "the Germans had been trying to do in only a few years what the Americans had worked at for nearly two hundred."

Brooke Weiss, the mother of a student at the Charlotte public school, said her daughter was shocked by the question but did not speak out about it for fear of retribution. Weiss, who is Jewish, told the Free Beacon that she didn’t understand the school’s need to compare the two horrific events.

"Slavery and genocide are different things, but they’re both atrocities," Weiss said. "There’s no value in putting those words in the same sentence, other than pitting those two groups against each other."
Once Again, Terrorism Comes to San Francisco State University
Two-time Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, a member of a designated terrorist group, is scheduled to speak on April 23 at an online San Francisco State University (SFSU) program.

The new program carries the same title, “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance,” of a talk that was canceled in September, when Zoom — the online video conferencing service — refused to host the terrorist on its platform.

The same San Francisco State program also is hosting a second Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist in a separate event this weekend.

Khaled is a member of the PFLP, which was designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department in 1997. PFLP terrorist attacks have killed more than 20 Americans — aside from the untold Israelis they have murdered.

A Facebook post promoting the event — since taken down — specifically refers to the canceled September 23 program. “This virtual open classroom will discuss free speech, academic freedom, and the dangers of censorship and silencing,” it said, “focusing in particular on the September 23rd open classroom …”

One allied group claims that Facebook removed the post. The promotion still appears on Eventbrite.

It is unclear whether Zoom has reconsidered its Fall action, or if it was even aware of the revived program. “We are reviewing the facts of this event to determine if it is consistent with our Terms of Service and Community Standards and will decide on an appropriate course of action after that review,” a Zoom spokesperson said in response to questions from the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

After canceling the September event, Zoom said it “is committed to supporting the open exchange of ideas and conversations, subject to certain limitations contained in our Terms of Service, including those related to user compliance with applicable US export control, sanctions, and anti-terrorism laws.” Khaled’s PFLP membership violated those terms of service.

Zoom’s community standards page still promises to block meetings that celebrate “any violent act that may inspire others to replicate it.” It also says there “is no place for terrorist or violent extremist groups on Zoom, or for those who affiliate with them or promote their activities.”

When she has appeared on Zoom, Khaled has promoted violence against Israelis, couching it in terms of “armed resistance.”

Israel is Obligated to Vaccinate the Palestinians – and Other Myths
The bottom line is that Israel may decide on a humanitarian basis to share more COVID-19 vaccine with the Palestinians, but it is under no obligation to do so.

What about the obligations of the New York Times? According to its own Guidelines on Integrity, “the journalism we practice daily must be beyond reproach” and the paper must “maintain the highest possible standards to insure that we do nothing that might erode readers’ faith and confidence in our news columns.”

Falsifying Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Interim Accords is not exactly journalism that is “beyond reproach” or of “the highest possible standards.”

That is, unlike Israel, the New York Times has failed to meet its obligations.

The same is true of Amnesty International – according to the Accountability Charter it has pledged to follow, Amnesty vows that it will:
… adhere to generally-accepted standards of technical accuracy and honesty in presenting and interpreting data and research …

Falsely charging that Israel’s vaccine policies violate the Fourth Geneva Convention is a grave violation of Amnesty’s pledge to adhere to accepted standards of accuracy and honesty.

Amnesty’s portrayal of its charges as highlighting “the institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians,” actually highlights something very different – the “institutionalized discrimination that defines” Amnesty International’s habitual maligning of Israel.

Again, unlike Israel, it is Amnesty International that has failed to meet its obligations.

By repeatedly violating their own standards and guidelines, both the New York Times and Amnesty International have failed their readers and stakeholders, and neither are credible sources on Israel.
Once Again, ‘Politico’ Ignores Palestinian Rejectionism and Palestinian Terror
“Joe Biden,” a Politico headline blared on April 6, 2021, “is not planning to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This may or may not be true. But what is clear is that Politico isn’t interested in providing readers with the truth about the conflict.

President Biden, reporter Nahal Toosi notes, has yet to name a special envoy to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And “aside from taking a few small steps” such as “restoring some modest aid to the Palestinians,” Biden is “signaling that the conflict is simply not a priority.”

Toosi speculates on possible reasons for this apparent lack of interest: prioritization of Sino-American relations, the dust settling from elections in Israel, and scheduled elections for the Palestinian Authority. But, she says, “some warn that by de-prioritizing the issue or moving too slowly, Biden could be putting a two-state solution out of reach, especially if Israel keeps expanding its settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.”

According to Politico’s framing, Jewish home construction — and not the Palestinian leadership’s affinity for rejecting peace and celebrating terror — is somehow responsible for the lack of a two-state solution.

Contrary to what Politico would have you believe, Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous offers for a “two-state solution,” in which two states, one Arab and the other Jewish, would live side-by-side and in peace.

‘Missing link’ in alphabet’s history said unearthed in Israel on Canaanite sherd
A 3,500-year-old alphabetic inscription has been found by archaeologists during excavations at the ancient Canaanite town of Tel Lachish, with researchers saying the pottery sherd is the oldest in the region with alphabetic text.

They described the discovery as the “missing link” in the history of the early alphabetic writing in the Southern Levant, the system of writing that most, if not all, alphabetic scripts can be traced back to.

The clay fragment, measuring just 40 millimeters by 35 millimeters, is said to have been part of a milk bowl imported from Cyprus, according to an article published in the journal Antiquity on Thursday.

The sherd was found during renewed excavations by an Austrian team in 2018 after previous artifacts were unearthed by a Tel Aviv team between 1973 and 1987.

While it was difficult to decipher the text on the small sherd, and unclear from which direction it should be read, researchers said the first three letters could spell out ‘bd meaning slave, or part of a common Semitic personal name.

The second line could read nophet, meaning honey or nectar in Hebrew, or part of an unknown name if read from the opposite direction.

The inscription helps contextualize the spread of the early alphabet in the Levant, as well as evidence that it developed both independently and well before the Egyptian domination in the region, the researchers concluded.
Times Square’s Naked Cowboy Salutes Jerusalem in Israeli Independence Day Video
A man best known as Times Square’s famous Naked Cowboy took part in a video celebrating Israel, in honor of the country’s 73rd Independence Day, or Yom HaAtzmaut, celebrated on Thursday.

The office of the consulate general of Israel in New York took to Times Square to ask people what they love about the Jewish state. Their responses were compiled and shared over 73 seconds in a video posted on Twitter.

Robert Burck — the nearly naked man behind the Naked Cowboy character — participated in the video by playing his guitar and singing “I’m the Naked Cowboy, you gotta do what you gotta do” and then shouting “Jerusalem!”

Many of those in the video said their favorite things about Israel include its food, people, culture, women, architecture, and innovation and technology.

Unpacked: Who Are Israelis, Really? | The Israeli-Palestinian Context
What you may not know about the vibrant society that makes up Israel is that day to day life in Israel is so much more than the narrow keyhole view that much of the world understands! Israel is a democratic state in the Middle East made up of Jews and non-Jews from the four corners of the earth. Meet the culturally diverse faces of Israel in this week’s video.

Jonathan and Esther Pollard Celebrate Israeli Independence in Jerusalem
Jonathan and Esther Pollard went out to a restaurant Wednesday in Jerusalem for the first time since Jonathan’s release. The couple went to the “Music” restaurant, where the musician dedicated a song to the former American prisoner.

The entire audience at the restaurant joined in as Jonathan emotionally clutched an Israeli flag to his chest. He followed the song with remarks. Video courtesy, Israel Hayom diplomatic correspondent Ariel Kahana, via Twitter.

1st Israeli Eurovision Winner Marks 73 Years of Music on Independence Day

Despite the coronavirus, more than 20,000 olim came to Israel this year
From last Independence Day to this one, 20,456 new olim came to Israel despite the difficulties caused by corona, according to data published by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry.

Among them are 3,208 who work in marketing and trade, 812 in medical fields and 517 in education. Most of the 18-35 age group work in the social sciences, a majority of them in technology.

Children under the age of 18 comprised 4,748 olim, and 420 specifically came to Israel to serve in the IDF.

“I’m happy to continue to bring people to Israel despite the challenges of the coronavirus,” said Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 25,000 Jews from all over the world have come to Israel, with thousands more waiting.” Over the past decade, some 262,905 olim have immigrated to Israel.
Jewish Resistance Fighters Recount Survival on Israel's Memorial Day


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