Monday, May 03, 2021

From Ian:

State Dept: US will not take part in Durban IV conference
The US will keep up its policy of not participating in events commemorating the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out Israel as racist, a State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“The United States will not attend or participate in any events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action or the World Conference on Racism, which preceded it,” the spokesperson stated.

The UN plans to hold events marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism, called Durban IV, on September 22, coinciding with Sukkot.

The State Department spokesperson said that the US “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment, use as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”

The spokesperson responded to a query from the Post about the March 2021 UN Human Rights Council Joint Statement on Countering Racism and Racial Discrimination, initiated by the US.

The statement mentions the Durban Declaration in a positive light: “Recalling the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, we are committed to working within our nations and with the international community to address and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, while upholding freedom of expression.”

The State Department spokesperson said that the joint statement “includes a brief reference to the fact that the Durban conference happened 20 years ago and in no way reflects a change in our position regarding the problematic portions of the document or the process that led to its creation.”
JPost Editorial: How we must investigate Meron - editorial
A state commission of inquiry – or a parliamentary committee of inquiry – is needed not to find who is to blame for the disaster but to establish exactly what happened, why and how, in order to prevent the recurrence of a similar catastrophe. The findings, incidentally, can be applied also to save lives at other mass events including sporting events and festivals.

Sadly, as has happened before with events like the Arad Music Festival tragedy where three teens were crushed to death in 1995, there is no investigation until there has been a loss of life.

As the Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon noted yesterday: “‘Don’t worry,’ goes the oft-repeated refrain if there are safety hazards in the street, or at construction sites, or at various nature reserves, ‘everything will be okay.’ One can imagine that this was the refrain heard in Meron, both by organizers before the tragedy and by celebrants at the site: ‘Sure, it seems dangerous, but everything will be okay, as it always has been in the past.’

“But, heartbreakingly, everything wasn’t all right. And now a war needs to be waged against this ‘Take my word for it, everything will be fine’ mentality.”

A state commission of inquiry has a broad mandate to investigate on a systemic level what happened to allow the Mount Meron tragedy to occur. Learning from the disaster is essential. Nothing can bring back those who died but the state does have to do everything to make sure – as much as is possible – that these senseless tragedies don’t happen again. That is why appointing a state commission of inquiry chaired by a Supreme Court justice is the only correct decision.
State comptroller announces investigation into ‘preventable’ Meron disaster
The state comptroller announced Monday that he would be opening a special investigation into the disaster at the Mount Meron compound where 45 people were crushed to death last week, saying that the tragedy was “preventable.”

“I intend to launch a special investigation into the circumstances that led to this disaster, the preparation of the various bodies, both this year and during the years that have elapsed since the State Comptroller’s report from 2011,” said Matanyahu Englman at a Jerusalem press conference.

“This is an event that was preventable, and now it is up to us to examine and investigate how and what should have been done to prevent it,” Englman said.

The state comptroller said that the investigation would focus on three main aspects: the conduct of all parties involved, starting with the decision-makers and including law enforcement system, prior to and during the event; the administration of the Rashbi [Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai] compound in Meron over the years; and steps that can be taken to prevent the recurrence of such a disaster in the future.

Englman said that if there was a suspicion of criminal conduct, the information would be passed to the attorney general for consideration. Additionally, Englman said he would examine any work done by a potential state commission of inquiry into the tragedy.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. the Mob
The widespread reluctance to address the crisis of Islam has allowed predatory violence and religious fundamentalism to become entrenched within many Muslim communities around the world. Raging against “Islamophobia,” the modern Western dispensation bears the marks of Islamophilia. The feminists who have taken such a soft and conciliatory line on the nexus between large-scale migration and reactionary Islam have outdone the most committed misogynists, because they have insidiously rolled back women’s rights in ways that would’ve been unimaginable a few decades ago. And these rights will be hard to recover. Squeamish feminists took what was supposed to be the crowning glory of modernity—women’s freedom to live by no man’s leave—and instead of enlarging its circle to lands where the civil rights of women are radically circumscribed, it emboldened and empowered those promulgating contempt for Enlightenment values near and far.

This tension forms what Hirsi Ali calls “the feminist predicament.” In the very recent past, the feminist mission has been challenged, and undermined, by issues of racism, religion, and intersectionality. “Liberal feminists today care more about the question of Palestinian statehood,” she writes, “than the mistreatment of Palestinian women at the hands of their fathers and husbands. In the battle of the vices, sexism has been trumped by racism.” This is undoubtedly true and is itself a symptom of the sloppy equation between the proletarian masses and the Islamic faith. (That the Palestinians, about 20 percent of whom were Christian until their numbers began to decline, have become an “Islamic” cause in the Western mind is only one symptom of such sloppiness.)

It cannot be said too often—indeed, it is not being said nearly often enough—that human rights are universal, and the failure to assert this claim is not anti-racist but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the imperialists of old never dreamed of. Without renewed vigor among Europeans to secure hard-won liberties and foster respect for liberal values, the machismo of unassimilated newcomers will only blur the divide between the Levant or the Mahgreb or the Hindu Kush and the old and famous capitals of Europe.

Whenever Europe decides to think more seriously about its duties to the women and girls in its care, it will find it has little choice but to follow the path Ayaan Hirsi Ali has laid down. Until then, the most vulnerable among them will be compelled to walk alone in streets ruled by the customs of others.
The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and Its Jewish Supporters
The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism is the latest expression of a continuing wave of criticism of Israel by academics, many of them Jewish, that resurfaces in different guises every couple of months.

The new version is a clever piece of public relations. It uses the word “Jerusalem,” though the city has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The Declaration presents itself as an alternative to the well-established International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism, which it alleges is “neither clear nor coherent” and “blurs the difference between antisemitic speech and legitimate criticism of Israel and Zionism.”

If serving as an alternative is in fact the Declaration’s aim, then it is superfluous. It has been stated again and again that critique of Israel or its policies is one thing and Israel-related Jew-hatred another, and it is easy to distinguish between them. No, the Declaration and similar expressions are driven by a different ideological agenda.

The Declaration is striking for its large number of Jewish signatories. This points to an ideological confrontation raging in contemporary Jewry about the Jewish state and the place of Israel in Jewish life.

With regard to antisemitism, while the Declaration makes points that are similar to those found or implied in the IHRA formulation, it contains a worrying addition that does not square with scholarly research. The study of antisemitism defines Jew-hatred not as a prejudice but as a doctrine — one that is deeply imbued in Western culture and has a history of its own. The Declaration says the opposite: that in the name of liberal principles, the fight against antisemitism should be viewed as “inseparable from the overall fight against all forms of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender discrimination.”

According to the Declaration, Jew-hatred has become domesticated. It is no longer a frightening beast capable of slaughtering millions of Jews. It has ceased to be a chameleon-like phenomenon that over the centuries adapted to changing social and ideological trends and is today directed against the most vital expression of Jewish life — Israel. According to the Declaration, antisemitism is only a preconception, like racism or xenophobia, that liberal societies know how to cope with.
BDS and the Movement to Oppose the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism Align
Predictably, Jewish students were not informed in advance of the resolution, and no comment period was permitted, in contravention of student government regulations. The terms of the resolution would deny students the right to express support for Israel or purchase some Israeli products. Organizations such as Hillel and Chabad risk being defunded completely. The university administration condemned the resolution.

The alignment between left-wing Jewish students and BDS supporters is an example of intersectional politics, and the effort to rewrite antisemitism solely as a “right-wing” phenomenon, to exclude Israel as an element of Jewish identity — while claiming that hatred directed at Israel is both free speech and an inherent Palestinian right — will characterize debate over the IHRA definition going forward.

This “intersectionality” was reflected in graffiti at the University of Massachusetts that saw “Free Palestine” and “Ahmad Erekat,” a Palestinian killed as he attempted to run down Israeli pedestrians, written alongside the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. More direct impacts were seen in the antisemitic vandalizing of Jewish and college facilities at the University of Kentucky, the University of Connecticut, and Rutgers University, as well as stone throwing attacks against synagogues in New York City.

Elsewhere in academia, San Francisco State University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) program again scheduled a talk by terrorist Leila Khaled. After protests, the Zoom platform took down the event, as did Eventbrite and Facebook. In the meantime, however, another livestream from the AMED program featured a talk from Yacoub Odeh, another Palestinian terrorist operative.

The reappearance of terror-linked public events has prompted Zoom to revise its terms of service, placing more responsibility onto meeting organizers. Should external complaints arise regarding a speaker or event, the company would then assess potential legal and regulatory risks. The policy is designed to protect the company and, secondarily, to protect academic freedom.

The process of Jews legitimizing antisemitism focused against Israel is being replicated nationally. The two recent antisemitism definitions designed to compete with the IHRA, the Nexus Document and Jerusalem Declaration, both equivocate on antisemitic statements that focus on Israel. Despite claims to the contrary, these are clearly intended to undermine the consensus that has surrounded the IHRA definition.
PreOccupiedTerritory: The Problem With The IHRA Antisemitism Definition Is It Doesn’t Accommodate Antisemites by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah – the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (satire)
Numerous thinkers and organizations have attempted over the years to provide a precise, useful definition of the term “antisemitism.” The two most recent efforts making headlines include that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Jerusalem Declaration, the latter of which, I am proud to admit, emerged as part of an initiative that included my input. Its most important contribution to the discourse sets it apart from the IHRA formula, a problematic definition that silences critics of Israel who, for whatever reason, must express their criticism in terms of Nazis, genocide, war crimes, and the stuff of blood libels. I helped draft the Jerusalem Declaration precisely because we need the participation in our progressive activities of those personalities and institutions unable to divorce their Jew-hate from our shared goals, while one side-effect that the IHRA definition, along with previous formulations, produces is the exclusion of those valuable antisemitic voices from progressive political discourse.

Despite my personal attachment to the Jerusalem Declaration, I still welcome other efforts to define antisemitism but leave room for antisemitic criticism of Israel. The more noise progressives make about this issue, the more we can obfuscate it, and the more definitions we have in play, the more effective the obfuscation. With multiple highly-touted “scholarly” definitions competing for media attention, we can overcome the IHRA’s insistence that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” We must maintain the straw man that the IHRA definition stifles criticism of Israel.

In essence we must return to the roots of antisemitism – not the phenomenon, which goes back to ancient times, but the term itself. “Antisemitism” as a word originated in nineteenth-century Germany when a German Jew-hater sought a word that sounded more scholarly, and therefore objective and legitimate, than “Judenhass,” Jew-hate. If we are to welcome into our progressive activism tent as many as possible, we must enable those who need criticism of Israel as a mask to hide their hate to avail themselves of that rhetorical option. We will thus enable them to continue painting their incitement to terrorism, justification of mass murder, glorification of violence, dehumanization of Israelis, denial of Jewish peoplehood, and Holocaust minimization – or denial, or inversion, or what have you – as “legitimate criticism of Israel.”

Only 13 new COVID cases diagnosed in 24 hours, lowest in 14 months
As Israel continues its world-leading vaccination campaign, just 13 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the country on Saturday, the lowest rate in 14 months, according to Health Ministry data released Sunday.

According to the ministry, a total of 9,238 coronavirus tests were conducted Saturday, with 0.1 percent returning positive. While weekend numbers are generally significantly lower due to reduced testing, the new figures still represent a relative drop, with last weekend’s positivity rate at 0.5%.

Of the 1,310 active cases in the country, there were 100 serious cases, including 60 people on ventilators, the Health Ministry data showed. The death toll stands at 6,366.

As infections have dwindled, Israel has rolled back restrictions on public life, including lifting the requirement to wear face masks outdoors, which ended last month.

With its aggressive vaccination drive, Israel has seen a sharp drop in daily mortality and infection rates since the pandemic peaked in late January.

Late last month, the Jewish state passed the milestone of over 5 million people having received both vaccine shots.
Israel expected to be on list of countries to be granted unlimited travel to EU
The European Union’s executive branch proposed Monday to ease restrictions on travel to the 27-member bloc as COVID-19 vaccination campaigns keep gathering speed.

Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low coronavirus infection rates. But with the summer season looming, the European Commission hopes that the new recommendations will help dramatically expand that list.

It was unclear which countries would actually make the cut but an EU official who was not authorized to be quoted because the proposal has yet to be adopted said Israel would definitely be on the list.

“The UK, question mark, the US, for the time being, not quite,” he said. “But we see how quickly the situation in the US evolves, notably for the rate of vaccination.”

“The Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for nonessential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorized vaccine,” the EU’s executive arm said.

EU officials believe the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns will soon be “a game-changer” in the fight against the deadly virus, especially within the bloc and the border-free Schengen zone. Its proposal will be discussed with member states’ ambassadors this week and the Commission hopes it could enter into force by June.
Israel’s ban on travel to 7 countries over COVID variants takes effect
New regulations banning travel to seven countries over fears of importing COVID-19 variants into Israel went into effect on Monday, the Health Ministry announced.

Effective Monday, Israelis cannot travel to India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Ethiopia, or Turkey unless they receive special permission. Israelis may take connecting flights through those countries, provided the layover is shorter than 12 hours.

Special permission may be provided for those with humanitarian reasons, athletes or emissaries for national institutions.

Israelis returning from those seven countries — even those vaccinated or recovered from the virus — must enter 10 days of isolation with two negative PCR tests, or 14 days with one test taken upon arrival in the country. The vaccinated or recovered do not need to self-isolate if they merely took a connecting flight through those countries, provided the layover was shorter than 12 hours.

In the face of the new coronavirus variant devastating India, the Health Ministry proposed new travel restrictions for Israelis last week; however, the urgent restrictions were not immediately implemented.

The original recommendation included requiring noncitizens entering Israel from the specified highly infected countries to self-isolate in quarantine hotels, but that measure was not ratified.

Last week, Israel identified 41 cases of the Indian coronavirus variant, including five in children, and five among people who were fully vaccinated.
Labour MP’s platform rally with Tony Greenstein
Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has managed to establish quite the reputation as a firebrand during his four years in the Commons, most famously ranting on the night of the 2019 Tory victory that 'we will fight them in the streets'.

In the eighteen months since, it has emerged he claimed the Conservatives 'conspired to murder and let die British citizens' and that he had accused JK Rowling in Tribune of using her own sexual assault as 'justification for discriminating' in a row over transgender rights. It also transpired that he had written social media posts suggesting Jewish claims to Israel were 'not progressive in [their] very nature' and that Zionism was a 'dangerous nationalist idea' – the last of which was followed shortly thereafter by his resignation from Starmer's frontbench last July.

Since then the former shadow environment minister has (understandably) tried to keep a quieter profile. But today it emerges that he spoke at yesterday's Brighton & Hove Trades Union Council May Day demonstration against the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill on the same platform as the controversial Tony Greenstein, according to the latter's own blog. Greenstein, who was ordered by the High Court to pay £67,886 to Campaign Against Antisemitism after his attempt to sue them for calling him a 'notorious antisemite' backfired, was thrown out of Labour in 2018 for offensive comments.

His blog boasts how: 'at today’s march I laid into the Labour Party which is led by someone who describes himself as a Zionist (i.e. racist) without qualification' and contains pictures of Russell-Moyle, microphone in hand, at the same platform. A clip of Greenstein shows him concluding the speech by saying 'The first task for the trade union movement is to get rid of Keir Starmer and reintroduce socialism in the Labour Party' to cheering applause from the crowd. Unite General Secretary contender Howard Beckett also spoke too while a statement was read out on behalf of Green MP Caroline Lucas.
New York Times Ignores Historic Rates of US Antisemitism While Pushing Israel ‘Apartheid’ Canard
Why is the New York Times Burying the US Antisemitism Story?
Turning a blind eye to rising Judeophobia in the United States is making it acceptable. On university campuses throughout the United States, Jewish students are increasingly being subjected to antisemitic harassment. American Jews, who comprise a mere 2 percent of the population of the US, are several times more likely to be the target of a hate crime. This has been documented by the FBI. “The fact that such a small percentage of the population has such a large percentage of hate crime incidents, that should be worrying for all of us,” said Ira Forman, former State Department antisemitism envoy from 2013 to 2017.

And the modern variant of this ancient plague couches its genocidal hatred as opposition to ‘apartheid’ Israel.

Enabled by uncritical news organizations such as The New York Times, Human Rights Watch has effectively diminished the import of antisemitism, allowing Palestinians to indulge their notorious Jew-hatred – one that manifests itself by blaming the Jewish state for all of their misfortune.

The concept of systemic racism is on full display inside the Palestinian Authority. For one thing, the Palestinian National Charter continues to call for Israel’s elimination by military means. And to this day, the Palestinian leadership is indoctrinating children with the belief that they will one day “return” to Israel. It is common for maps in Palestinian textbooks to show all of Israel as “Palestine.”

Indeed, the Anti-Defamation League found that Palestinians in the West Bank are, on the whole, one of the most antisemitic people in the world, with more than 90 percent of them harboring racist attitudes towards Jews.

More than at any other time in recent memory, hatred in America is on the top of everyone’s mind. But while The New York Times has done a commendable job reporting on racism as it pertains to a list of other targeted groups, it has omitted the targeting of American Jews.

The message is painfully clear: American Jews do not qualify as a targeted group in the eyes of some reporters. Such a journalistic oversight has dire consequences: it will make it possible for antisemitism in the United States to spread, while not holding Palestinian society accountable for its own systemic bigotry.
BBC quiz show describes Ashkelon as “a Palestinian port”
A number of social media users have flagged up an episode of the BBC One general knowledge quiz show ‘Pointless Celebrities’ aired on May 1st.

Explaining the why the correct answer to one of the questions was ‘scallion’, co-presenter Richard Osman stated:

“It comes from a Palestinian port of Ascalon. Originally onions from Ascalon.”

Ascalon – or as it is known today, Ashkelon – is of course a coastal city in southern Israel. While the seaport had many different rulers throughout its history – including Canaanites, Philistines, Greeks, Romans and Crusaders – it is not and never was “Palestinian” in the sense that the majority of viewers would understand.

A more accurate explanation appears here:
Seeing as the programme will remain available on BBC iPlayer for the next eleven months, a clarification is obviously in order.

Media Mislead on Palestinian Elections and Israel’s Oslo Obligations
Reuters: Israeli Impedes Elections in West Bank, Gaza
As for Reuters, it expanded the Palestinian charge of Israeli obstructionism concerning elections in Jerusalem to include also the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Israel has zero control. Thus, in their May 1 article, “Palestinian leader delays parliamentary and presidential elections, blaming Israel,” Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Ali Sawafta, and Rami Ayyub erroneously reported that Abbas blamed Israel for uncertainty regarding whether it would allow elections to proceed in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in Jerusalem. The error appears in the bolded passage below:
Abbas, 85, issued a presidential decree postponing the May 22 parliamentary and July 31 presidential elections, the official news agency WAFA said.

He blamed Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow the elections to proceed in East Jerusalem as well as in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

“Facing this difficult situation, we decided to postpone,” Abbas said early Friday after an impassioned speech in which he declared: “Our people are excited for elections. There is enthusiasm… but what about Jerusalem? Where is Jerusalem?” (Emphasis added.)

Israel has no ability whatsoever to prohibit elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Abbas did not blame Israel for obstructing elections in these territories. The question about Israel’s allowance of elections concerned only Jerusalem, not also the West Bank and Gaza.

The Reuters passage cites the Palestinian Authority WAFA news agency as its source on Abbas’ pronouncement. WAFA reports: “President Mahmoud Abbas said today that the Israeli government has rejected the holding of the upcoming Palestinian national elections in occupied East Jerusalem . . . ” WAFA does not at all say that Abbas mentioned Israel prohibited elections also in the West Bank and Gaza.

CAMERA has contacted Reuters to request correction. In the meantime, Algemeiner, which had republished the Reuters story, commendably corrected its copy. The amended text now accurately states: “He blamed Israel for uncertainty about whether it would allow the elections to proceed in eastern Jerusalem.”
Filmmakers Knew Evangelicals Were Peacemakers, Defamed Them Anyway
Maya Zinshtein and Abraham Troen, the Israeli filmmakers who directed and produced “‘Til Kingdom Come,” which portrays American Evangelicals as warmongers intent on depriving the Palestinians of a state and bringing about Armageddon in the Holy Land, did more than fabricate a quote and attribute it to former U.S. President Donald Trump to sell their false narrative.

They withheld information from their film’s audience that demonstrated that American Evangelical leaders were part of the effort to achieve a normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates which became known as the Abraham Accords when it was made public on August 13, 2020.

Both Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post published articles detailing the role American Evangelicals played in bringing about the normalization agreement in articles that can be read here and here.

On Aug., 21, 2020, eight days after the news of the accord between Israel and the UAE (and Evangelical involvement in this agreement) broke, the Twitter account for Zinshtein and Troen’s film, “’Til Kingdom Come,” posted a now deleted Tweet that declared: “Something that nobody is talking about: the #Evangelicals are also intermediaries (!) in the #UAEIsrael agreement.”
Jews troubled after court releases man arrested for Bronx synagogue attacks
A 29-year-old man from the Riverdale section of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested on May 1 by the New York City Police Department for a string of attacks on synagogues there.

Jordan Burnette is facing a number of charges in connection with the incidents, including burglary, aggravated harassment, criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Several of these are being charged as hate crimes.

The Bronx District Attorney’s office says Burnette “was released on supervised release,” and is due back in court on May 7.

Speaking to JNS, Evan Bernstein, CEO and national director of Community Security Service, said that Jewish organizations and individuals are having a hard time reconciling the idea that Burnette was released without bail after attacking places of worship.

“They feel they did all the right things and the NYPD did everything that they needed to do” to apprehend the suspect, and “now he was let go,” he said. “It is impacting the community in a very negative way. Emotionally, psychologically and from a security perspective, it’s very concerning.”

Noting that several volunteers from his organization confronted the suspect on April 24 outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, Bernstein explained that intellectually, they understand why he was released without bail, “but emotionally, it’s hard to swallow that that person is back on the streets in some capacity.”
Nazi items, weapons, and 21.5lbs of meth seized in Pennsylvania raid
Charges have been pressed against a couple in Pennsylvania after nearly $1 million worth of methamphetamine, Nazi paraphernalia, and six ghost guns were discovered in their home during a raid.

The charges against them were announced on Friday after agents from the attorney-general's Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and officers of the State Police Special Emergency Response Team searched their house the previous Wednesday.

In a statement detailing the charges against the couple, Pennsylvania Attorney-General Josh Shapiro said that they had discovered "21.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $968,200" in addition to "six fully assembled ghost guns, three 80 percent receivers used to make ghost guns, four assault rifles, three handguns, and various ghost gun parts, along with drug and Nazi paraphernalia."

Ghost guns are homemade firearms often made from parts obtained online, and they do not have traceable serial numbers. President Joe Biden has recently attempted to curb their use through a series of executive actions focusing on federal regulations.

The two suspects, Christopher Weikart and Tara Galluci, had been storing the weapons and drugs in a house located 70 miles north of the city of Philadelphia. While the authorities arrested Galluci, Weikart fled and remains at large.

Israeli Sensor Uses Bioluminescent Bacteria to Track Down Buried Explosives
Charges have been pressed against a couple in Pennsylvania after nearly $1 million worth of methamphetamine, Nazi paraphernalia, and six ghost guns were discovered in their home during a raid.

The charges against them were announced on Friday after agents from the attorney-general's Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and officers of the State Police Special Emergency Response Team searched their house the previous Wednesday.

In a statement detailing the charges against the couple, Pennsylvania Attorney-General Josh Shapiro said that they had discovered "21.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $968,200" in addition to "six fully assembled ghost guns, three 80 percent receivers used to make ghost guns, four assault rifles, three handguns, and various ghost gun parts, along with drug and Nazi paraphernalia."

Ghost guns are homemade firearms often made from parts obtained online, and they do not have traceable serial numbers. President Joe Biden has recently attempted to curb their use through a series of executive actions focusing on federal regulations.

The two suspects, Christopher Weikart and Tara Galluci, had been storing the weapons and drugs in a house located 70 miles north of the city of Philadelphia. While the authorities arrested Galluci, Weikart fled and remains at large.
Self-driving auto manufacturing seeks Israel’s hi-tech experience
As Israel proves its strength in smart-mobility technology, the world’s largest automakers are eager to tap into its wealth of knowledge, and largely overlook the country’s inexperience in automobile manufacturing.

For instance, the American multinational, Intel Corporation, has its Israeli subsidiary, Mobileye, headquartered in Jerusalem, focused on developing self-driving cars and advanced driver-assistance systems. As investment expert Didier Schreiber said, “Israel has a world-leading open innovation environment, driven by passion for AI and cyber-security.”

In fact, Israel has global recognition as the “Startup Nation,” of the world, with the largest number of startups per capita anywhere. Not only that, Israel is also noticed for building better-than existing products through its startups. With one startup for every 1,400 people in Israel’s 8.5 million population, the country has around 6000 active startups and companies. Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based investor platform, said “We don’t have huge natural resources, so we have worked hard to develop our skills-base in the country.”

Israel’s skilled and hardworking workforce has not gone unnoticed over the years. Newsweek named Tel Aviv one of the ten technologically most influential cities in the world, in 1998. By 2010, Israel had 140 scientists and technicians per 10,000 employees – one of the highest ratios in the world. And in 2012, an international study ranked Tel Aviv second only to Silicon Valley, as the best place in the world to launch a high-tech start-up company.

Therefore, despite lacking any substantial history of automobile manufacturing, Israel has emerged as a powerhouse in the field of smart-mobility technology. There is a strong practical reason for this, as astutely expressed by Alon Atsmon, Israeli business advisor and investor in automotive technology, “Car manufacturing is not about tires or brakes anymore, but the technology inside the car – the sensors and algorithms. It’s a natural next direction for the expertise Israel has built over the years.”
‘An attempt to correct history’: Jewish descendants reclaim Austrian citizenship
Even if they rarely speak German and some have never set foot on Austrian soil, nearly 76 years after the Holocaust, descendants of those forced out of Austria by the Nazis are reclaiming the nationality stolen from their ancestors.

“It was very important for me,” says 17-year-old American high school student Maya Hofstetter, who wants to piece together the fragments of her great-grandmother’s painful history.

AFP has gathered testimony from new Austrians like Hofstetter who have benefited from a 2019 change in the law that took effect in September, making it possible for Holocaust victims’ descendants to gain Austrian citizenship.

The motivations of the applicants — whose relatives were all Jewish although the law does not concern only Jewish victims — vary. Robert Geoffrey William Anderson, retired British Museum curator and historian of chemistry, reacts as he holds a decree of Austrian citizenship granted to him, at his home in Kings Lynn, eastern England, on March 12, 2021. (Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

From sentimental, to a duty to remember, and for some, a sense of justice, Hofstetter and fellow American Noah Rohrlich, Gal Gershon in Israel, Tomas Diego Haas in Argentina and Robert Anderson in Britain explained in phone and video interviews why they chose to take the step.
The Etihad exec with a lifelong love of Hebrew
A month ago, Amina Taher stepped onto an airplane for the first time in 14 months. As the vice president of brand, marketing and partnerships at Etihad Airways, Taher was used to flying “four to five times a month” pre-COVID.

“Not being able to be in my home, in the skies, was difficult,” she told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. Being able to get back on a plane, “I was like a little kid who’s traveled for the first time. It was very emotional, and it was very magical.”

That flight on April 6 marked a series of other firsts: The first commercial flight between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv for the UAE-based Etihad, and the first time Taher had ever visited Israel.

Inaugurating a new flight, “and for it to be [to] Tel Aviv, I couldn’t ask for a better reopening,” she told JI. And while Taher only spent 26 hours on the ground in Israel last month, she was instantly hooked.

“I was only there for 26 hours, but I had 22 dishes that I wanted to try, food that I didn’t have time to experience,” she said, noting a jam-packed schedule with multiple events. But after her brief visit, “the only one takeaway that I brought back… was the people, and how hospitable and warm and welcoming the Israelis were. It was unbelievable, and that was my key takeaway from my very short round trip.”

Taher also left a strong impression by giving a short speech at the flight launch in Hebrew, which went viral in certain corners of the internet.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this historic event and to inaugurate the new route between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv,” she said in accented but clear Hebrew. “The Abraham Accords are, first of all, about peace between nations, between the Emiratis and the Israelis.” The Accords, brokered last year by the Trump administration, normalized relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.

Taher, who speaks six languages, told JI that she has cultivated a lifelong interest in the Hebrew language, dating back to when she was a child.


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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