Wednesday, May 05, 2021

05/05 Links Pt2: Why Human Rights Watch is Attacking Israel’s Law of Return; Anti-Israel propaganda on two wheels – Cycling Weekly turns toxic

From Ian:

Clifford D. May: Human Rights Watch crosses the line with latest attack on Israel
HRW appears to believe that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have a right to demand citizenship from a state whose destruction they seek. No such right exists anywhere on earth, and for Israelis to grant it would be suicidal.

The Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank, has issued a detailed response to HRW. It deserves to be read in its entirety. I have space here to highlight only a few points.

Apartheid, it points out, is not “a grab bag of policies that HRW happens to disagree with.” Apartheid implies “the physical separation — apartness — of people based on a legislated racial hierarchy.” As noted above, that’s not the situation in Israel. There are no racial distinctions in Israeli law. Nor are Jews and Palestinians two distinct racial groups. Israelis are, in fact, multiracial, with more than half coming from families who are indigenous to the Middle East and never left the Middle East.

Can one find instances of bias, bigotry or discrimination in Israel? In which nations is that not the case? The answer is none which is why “no country since the end of South African apartheid has ever received the distinction.”

Not China, where Uighurs and Tibetans face egregious persecution; not the Islamic Republic of Iran which severely oppresses Bahais; not Pakistan, which has for decades been driving out Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadis and other minorities.

HRW claims that Israelis stepped over the “threshold” to apartheid with their “Nation State Law.” Kohelet responds: “While the wisdom of the Nation State law can be criticized, it does nothing like what any of the apartheid laws did, and instead closely resembles numerous European democratic constitutional provisions. Indeed, it is almost entirely declarative; its one substantive provision guarantees rather than denies Palestinian Arab rights (it guarantees Arabic language rights).”

What’s more, states throughout the broader Middle East proudly proclaim themselves Arab and/or Muslim. It is only Jewish identity and self-determination that HRM deems a “crime against humanity.”

Credit where it’s due: The Biden administration last week stated explicitly that it does not consider “that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid.”

As noted above, evidence of HRW’s animosity toward Israel comes as no surprise. More than a decade ago, Robert Bernstein, the founder of HRW and its chairman from 1978 to 1998, accused the organization of “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

But now it is HRW, not Israel, that has crossed a threshold. Its latest attempt to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state provides aid and comfort to those — including Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran’s rulers — who incite and vow genocide. The definition of genocide is plain, and it is unequivocally a crime under international law.

Defenders of HRW might say: “I’m sure that’s not their intention!” Critics of HRW might respond: “Trust me, they know exactly what they’re doing.”

Why Human Rights Watch is Attacking Israel’s Law of Return
If you’re Jewish and live in the Diaspora, chances are there’s been some event in the news or in politics that at some point has made you say to yourself, “Well, if things really go south here, I can always go to Israel.”

I’m sure many American Jews had those thoughts after the murders in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey. In the United States in 2019, the most recent year for which FBI data is available, there were 953 hate crimes committed against Jews, or more than 60 percent of religiously based hate crimes.

Many French Jews are probably having such thoughts now, since France’s highest court has ruled, functionally, that there is no criminal responsibility for killing a Jew if the killer was high on marijuana. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of 23-year old Ilan Halimi, the 2012 murders of three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and the 2015 shooting at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, French Jews acted on that sentiment in record numbers.

But Human Rights Watch has targeted the Israeli law that ensures that Jews have just such a refuge. Among other things, HRW’s latest anti-Israel propaganda report takes aim at Israel’s Law of Return. HRW invokes the historical racial segregation in the U.S., complaining that “a two-track citizenship … effectively regards Jews and Palestinians separately and unequally.”

The report characterizes Israel’s Law of Return as part of its “Discriminatory Restrictions on Residency and Nationality.” Later in the same report, the law is characterized primarily as motivated by demographic concerns.

But, as NGO Monitor explains, “HRW deviously erases the context: the Law of Return was enacted in the shadow of the Holocaust, to provide a safe haven for Jews who for centuries suffered persecution around the world. The sharp rise in physical violence and other forms of anti-Semitism around the world in recent years only highlights the need for Israel as a safe refuge from persecution.”

The fact that many Jews who attempted to flee the Holocaust were turned away by the U.S. and other countries seems to be of no concern to HRW. One might wonder, as well, without the Law of Return, what HRW would have liked to see happen to more than half a million Jews who settled in Israel between 1948 and 1972, after fleeing or being expelled from Arab countries.

Michael Danby: Palestine recognition ‘invalid’
FORMER federal Labor MP Michael Danby has claimed the party broke its own rules by not giving him an opportunity to speak against the recent change in its platform on recognising a Palestinian state.

A 2018 conference motion “calling on the next Labor government to recognise a Palestinian state” was elevated at the party’s platform conference in March. Danby said he was denied the right to speak against it.

“I requested to speak against the reception of the report ‘Australia and the World’ as was my right as a delegate under Standing Order 6A for this conference,” he wrote to Labor national secretary Paul Erickson last week.

“Yet despite repeated phone calls on the morning of the conference, I found when the debate was called on that I was unfairly excluded from the speaking list and blocked from entering the speakers’ green room.

“I hereby request that you refer this matter to the next National Executive meeting as it is my belief that this report was accepted in clear breach of the ALP’s own rules and is therefore invalid.”

A Labor insider told The AJN this week that Danby “may have a point”.
Bob Carr out of control
Zionist Council of New South Wales Israel affairs director Arsen Ostrovsky said Carr “seems to have a rather unhealthy obsession with Israel, dominated by his irrational hatred of the Jewish State and willingness to be a pawn of the Palestinian propaganda machine”.

“It is high time that the Labor Party, both federal and state, rein Carr in,” he said.

Macnamara MP Josh Burns said Carr’s accusations and those of Human Rights Watch “do not reflect the views of the Australian Labor Party and does not advance the cause of peace”.

His predecessor, former Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby called it “Corbyn-style Labor”.

“Add the twist of Beijing’s most odious advocate in Australia attempting to divert attention from China’s concentration camps in Xinjiang and its aggression against Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he said, adding it was “ironic that Carr whinges about the Palestinians not having a vote on the day PA boss Abbas cancels the Palestinian elections”.

Asked for a comment at a Victorian Parliamentary Yom Ha’atzmaut function, former federal Labor leader Bill Shorten said he had made it a practice not to comment about Carr’s comments, “Because you can be here all day.”

A one-time co-founder of Labor Friends of Israel, Carr’s Israel agitation has steadily increased over recent years.
Financial Times editor embraces HRW's apartheid lie
The charge of “irredentism” – a policy of advocating the restoration to a country of any territory formerly belonging to it – needs to put in perspective, particularly since Gardner compared Israel to Russia, China, Turkey and India.

Russia has 17.13 million square km of land. China has 9.597 million km. India has 3.287 million km. And, Turkey has 783,562 square km.

Israel has 22,145 square km – representing a meager 0.2 percent of the landmass of the Arab world. The entire West Bank – only a third of which was designated to Israel by the Peace to Prosperity Peace Plan – is 5,628 square km. To compare Israeli ‘expansionism’ (that is, Israeli claims over disputed territory) in the same political universe as that of Russia, China, Turkey and India is grossly misleading.

Gardner ends by noting, hopefully and in the context of the HRW report, that “the price for Israel disdaining [Palestinian] rights…may be rising”.

So, what did Gardner write about Palestinian political responsibilities and moral obligations in the context of the quest for peace? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. As is almost always the case with such pieces, Gardner completely robbed Palestinians of their agency, casting them as passive victims of Israeli malevolence. Decades of bad Palestinian decisions, particularly their choice to pursue violence and embrace antisemitism, was erased by the Financial Times editor.

Forget about the ‘bigotry of LOW expectations’, Gardner appears to have NO expectations of Palestinians or their leaders.

David Collier: Anti-Israel propaganda on two wheels – Cycling Weekly turns toxic
The thing about the antisemitism ‘whack-a-mole’ game is that you can never be sure where the next anti-Israel propagandist will pop up. I mean – Who would think of checking one of the UK’s oldest and biggest cycling magazines, ‘Cycling Weekly’, for lies about Israel? But as it turns out, one of their writers has a hard-core anti-Israel fetish.

Cycling Weekly’s latest edition carried a story titled ‘Dreaming Beyond the Barricades‘. It was all about a Gazan cyclist who had been shot and had lost his leg during the March of Return protests. It was an article designed to break your heart and make you pick up a Palestinian flag in protest at those awful inhumane Israelis. A tick-box exercise in propaganda that has been repackaged as a human tragedy.

There are several parts to this piece; there is the journalist, the article and the cyclist’s story. Read on to see how raw anti-Israel propaganda climbed into the saddle and took every Cycling Weekly reader for a lightning-fast, antisemitic spin.

The Cycling Weekly journalist
The journalist is Julian Sayarer, a cyclist, who for a while held the ’round the world cycling’ record. He wrote a book about the attempt, called ‘Life Cycles‘. Sayarer is half-Turkish (Dad’s side) and he describes being brought up with ‘mostly Muslim cultural influences’. He obviously caught the ‘Free Palestine’ bug, and his most recent book is called ‘Fifty Miles Wide: Cycling through Israel & Palestine’.

His Twitter timeline is full of tweets about Jews, Israel, Palestinians and antisemitism. Here are just four I wish to highlight:
The first example – the tweet about the Board of Deputies – is more than problematic. It is all about Jewish influence in politics. Sayarer has also tweeted out about Israel politicising Jewish students – in a thread in which he appears to come out in defence of David Miller, Bristol’s antisemitic academic. Sayarer’s objections and deflections in that thread were soon dealt with – and he fled the scene.

The other three examples deal with the core of the matter – Sayarer’s gullibility – a fatal characteristic for someone attempting to write something on the conflict. Sayarer appears to believe everything he is told.
BDS – all from the Bible
A whole club of cursers is led by the Big Five: Amnesty, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, the UN Human Rights Council. Nominally those entities are humanitarian, not-for-profit and apolitical. In reality they are none of those things.

There are hundreds of second-tier bad-mouthers of Israel, a bewildering number of them in tiny Israel. B’Tselem, ‘Committee Against House Demolitions’, Jewish Voices for Peace,’ Breaking the Silence – all compete fiercely to bad mouth their own country.

With cursing comes money; ultimately the human rights business, whether BDS or BLM, is about money. A load of cash awaits anyone with a bad word to say about Israel. George Soros coughs up millions; the European Union is the cursers’ wallet. Trade is brisk, the money big and the players earnest. Activists live on Israeli 'crimes', the geese that lay golden eggs.

War by unarmed means was born in Durban. On its heels tumbled the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. Awake to the smallest fault, inventive, bearers of tall tales, racists who presume to know better than Palestinian Arabs what’s good for them an greedy. Boycotters are models of Balaam.

Will his newfangled fan club meet the fate of the wily wizard? In keeping with the Bible the boycotters’ vision fell painfully short. Getting nowhere as the devil’s advocate, BDS hopes were dashed by Israel’s burgeoning growth and success. The idea of stalling the mini juggernaut was no more than a tantalizer, a pipe dream.

When the Almighty told Balaam to hold his tongue he carried on. Dreaming of celebrity-hood he ransacked his whole bag of tricks. But the Almighty had other plans for Balaam. At the king’s bidding he went to the heights of Baal with him. He went to curse. Despite God, he meant to. At the finishing post the wrong words tripped off his tongue, that mouth organ of militant curses, gadget of fortune and misfortune, master of a donkey wife. Born to curse, Balaam uttered the most sublime blessings in human annals.

He would have departed this life with the hurt rioting and rotting in his head. How beautiful are your tents, oh Jacob, your dwelling places, oh Israel. For the tribute recited in prayer houses to this day thank a curser for hire. Odder yet thank a lifetime hater of Israel.
After 'Post' article, college reviews racism of ex-Iran envoy professor
After revelations in The Jerusalem Post about the former Iranian regime ambassador to the UN and current professor at Oberlin College, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, the Ohio-based college launched a review into the ex-envoy for antisemitism, anti-Baha’i sentiments and his alleged cover-up of crimes against humanity.

The Oberlin College student newspaper The Oberlin Review first reported on Friday about the inquiry into Mahallati. Reporter Gigi Ewing from the student-run newspaper confirmed with David Hertz, who is chief of staff for Oberlin College president Carmen Twillie Ambar, that the college is aware of the allegations and has initiated steps to pursue them.

Hertz told the paper that “we’ve been in touch with Prof. Mahallati,” and “we’re concerned whenever anyone raises allegations of this nature about a member of faculty. We want to support our faculty, but we also want to consider the allegations themselves. That is the basis on which we’ve been in touch with Prof. Mahallati. We are looking forward to his addressing these issues. He’s taking steps to defend his reputation.”

The Post reported in February that Mahallati, the professor of religion and Nancy Schrom Dye chair in Middle East and North African Studies at the college, delivered a speech when he was the Iranian regime’s ambassador to the UN in 1988, stating: “The establishment of the Zionist entity was itself in violation of provisions of the United Nations Charter.” At the UN in 1989, Mahallati urged a global jihad against Israel by calling for a “holy struggle against oppression and Zionism.” The former Iranian regime ambassador defended the First Intifada as “the heroic uprising of Palestinians,” at the UN in 1989.
CAA writes to BBC Director-General demanding proper response after BBC Arabic journalist who blamed “Israel lobbyists” for wanting Prof. David Miller fired is let off with mere reminder of social media guidelines
Campaign Against Antisemitism will be writing to Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director-General, after our concerns over a BBC journalist’s social media activity were dismissed by BBC Arabic’s Head of Daily Output.

Last month, Nour Eddine Zorgui shared an article titled “Who are the Israel lobbyists that want David Miller fired?” that referred to Zionism as “Israel’s racist ideology”.

The article was published by The Electronic Intifada, an online news outlet which has also previously attacked Campaign Against Antisemitism.

In a letter from the BBC Arabic’s Head of Daily Output, we have been informed that Nour Eddine Zorgui was merely “reminded of the BBC social media guidelines.”

However, not only is the description of Zionism in the article offensive, but the article and tweet represents an intervention in the public debate over Prof. David Miller, a Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol with a history of peddling conspiracy theories relating to Jewish students. Most recently, he asserted that “Zionism is racism”, declared his objective “to end Zionism as a functioning ideology of the world” and accused the Bristol University Jewish Society of being part of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy, adding that it is “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”. At the same online event, Prof. Miller also observed that the Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students are Zionist, thereby implying that Jewish students (and the wider Jewish community) inherently “encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”.

For a BBC journalist to intervene in this debate, share an offensive article and defend an academic accused of antisemitism – and to do so by suggesting that those making the allegations do so in service to Israel, which is precisely the sort of antisemitism-denial found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to have contributed to institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party – is unacceptable. It is woefully insufficient for the BBC to be served with a mere reminder of the Corporation’s guidelines.

PreOccupiedTerritory: NGOs Confident They Can Still Call Undetermined Bibi Successor ‘War Criminal’ (satire)
The deadline for incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government passed at midnight last night, raising the specter of a different leader at the helm of the Jewish State for the first time since 2009, thus presenting activist groups with the prospect of an Israeli premier with no previous documented contribution of consequence to Israeli self-defense and therefore a paucity of valence to one of the reflexive epithets the activists traditionally aim at Israeli leaders when a whiff of Palestinian suffering makes the news.

Israel’s fourth election cycle in the last two years resulted in a familiar stalemate this past March, with neither major faction able to muster the requisite 61-seat bloc to control a majority of the Knesset. President Reuven Rivlin found himself forced to choose among a field of unconvincing parties upon whom to confer the dubious honor of cobbling together such a coalition, including Netanyahu. Previous cycles have resulted in the tantalizing possibility of a non-Netanyahu-led government, but even such arrangements as a rotation agreement with the leader of another party have collapsed before that could become a reality. If the current stalemate continues, another round of elections must take place several months hence – but the possibility of someone other than Netanyahu taking the helm of the government has pro-Palestinian activists wondering whether the “war criminal” accusation will suit whoever emerges in his stead as well as it has suited Netanyahu in their eyes.

“My first thought was it shouldn’t matter who it is, since Zionism is inherently a war crime,” acknowledged Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch. “But the whole fiasco of redefining ‘Apartheid’ to suit an anti-Israel agenda in our report last week has made some of us reconsider, like maybe we should substantiate the accusations we level instead of relying on a once-dependable media to spread our propaganda without question. That would mean finding something specific that an Israeli prime minister has done that constitutes a war crime, even if only by the tendentious definition that we ‘human rights’ activists use regarding only Israel – but if the incoming premier has no such record, that makes things a challenge.”
Media Fail to Identify Palestinian Terrorists in ‘West Bank Violence’ Reports
Reporting, at its essence, should be a fairly straightforward task. Even the most inexperienced journalist knows that any story should cover basic details such as who was involved, what happened, when it occurred, and should identify who did what.

But for some reason when it comes to reporting about Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and soldiers, the identity of the perpetrators is all-t0o-often osbcured.

Take for example the events of Sunday, in which a Palestinian woman clutching a knife approached a group of soldiers and, after trying to stab the troops, was shot dead. Hours later, three Israeli teenagers were injured, two of them seriously, in a drive-by shooting at a bus stop in the northern West Bank. The area has repeatedly been the scene of Palestinian terror attacks over the years, and the car used by the assailants had a Palestinian license plate.

Nevertheless, the headline of a Reuters article on Sunday’s events , “Palestinian woman killed, two Israelis wounded in West Bank violence,” failed to comply with basic journalistic standards by stating, without context, that a “Palestinian woman” was “killed”, and that Israelis were wounded, without making clear how.

The story has since been republished several times with the original headline, including by Yahoo News, which remains one of the most highly-trafficked sites on the internet.

This ethical failure is evident in the Associated Press’ article too. Its headline, “3 Israelis wounded in West Bank shooting ambush,” had the effect of excising Palestinian terrorism from the narrative.
Indy airbrushes extremism of group the UK gov't cut ties with
An article in the Independent by Home Affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden focused on criticism over comments by Robin Simcox, the British government’s Interim Lead of the Commission for Countering Extremism, that were deemed insensitive to Muslims.

The article (“Extremism boss dismisses use of ‘Islamophobia’ term”, May 4) included the following:
Mr Simcox has also risked alienating some community groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), by appearing to suggest they are “extremists” that should be “left out in the cold”.

The government has a policy of not engaging with the MCB – the UK’s largest umbrella organisation for mosques, schools and Islamic charities – which dates back to an official’s 2009 comments on Israel.

“It is far-right extremists who have the most to gain from refusing to recognise the lived experience of Islamophobia Muslims face today,” an MCB spokesperson said. “And it is far-right extremists who are benefitting from the wilful misrepresentation of Islamophobia as a word that allegedly limits free speech.”

The Indy journalist completely airbrushed the real reason why a Labour government, in 2009, broke off ties to the MCB – a ban that subsequent Conservative governments upheld.

The real cause was one of the MCB’s senior members, Daud Abdullah, signed a declaration – adopted in 2009 at an Islamist conference in Istanbul – which supported Hamas, promoted violent Jihad “until the liberation of all Palestine”, and was widely interpreted as calling for attacks on British naval vessels, as well as on ‘Zionist Jews’ around the world.
British Soccer Clubs and Players Lead Social Media Boycott to Stop Online Abuse
Soccer leagues, organizations and players in the United Kingdom led a four-day boycott of social media that began on Friday in protest of racist online abuse.

Those who participated in the boycott included the English Football Association, English Premier League (EPL), English Football League, Women’s Super League, The Football Association Women’s Championship, the Women In Football group and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). British soccer player, managers and referee bodies also stepped away from social media from Friday through Monday, including the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out.

Other English sports — cricket, rugby, cycling, tennis and horse racing — joined in, as well as the Premier League’s British broadcasters, British Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, and Prince William, who is president of The Football Association. The boycott also attracted international organizations and athletes, such as FIFA, UEFA, The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), and Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi.

A number of the groups posted on social media a statement that read: “Across the weekend, football, wider sport, organizations and individuals across the world united to boycott social media to demonstrate our collective anger. But this won’t eradicate abuse on its own. We will continue to challenge social media companies to make changes to their platforms, urge Government to introduce strong legislation quickly and request that individuals call out and report online abuse when they see it. #StopOnlineAbuse.”

They called on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to “use their power to affect change and ensure there are real-life sanctions for online hate” and listed steps social media companies must take to eradicate online abuse.
Family of Israeli shot dead in US claims it was antisemitic attack, not robbery
The family of an Israeli man shot dead in Baltimore earlier this week claimed Wednesday that he did not die in a botched robbery, but was rather deliberately targeted as a Jew in a deadly act of antisemitism.

Efraim Gordon, 31, was visiting the United States for a cousin’s wedding when he was shot and killed at the entrance to a relative’s home on Sunday.

His sister, Ella Gordon, called a press conference on Wednesday, during which she stressed that details of the case point to it not being a random crime. She claimed her brother was killed by “terrorists.”

“This was an act of terror, my brother didn’t just die,” Gordon said. “There were no signs of violence, and they didn’t take money.”

“It was not a robbery that went wrong, but murder due to antisemitism,” Gordon said, noting that her brother was wearing a kippa and had a beard, outward signs that he was Jewish.

“They didn’t take money, just shot him in the stomach and ran off,” she said.

Gordon said her brother, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Na’ale, had gone out for the evening and returned to the home where he was staying at around midnight. She said that family members had tried to convince him to hide signs that he was Jewish, including not wearing his kippa but he refused, saying it was part of his identity.
De Blasio praises judge who tried to jail alleged Bronx synagogue vandal
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday praised the rogue judge who tried in vain to lock up an accused synagogue vandal — and said the state’s controversial bail reform law should be reconsidered for hate crimes.

“I really respect judges using their discretion when they see a situation — obviously within the law, of course, within the law — but where they think there’s a particular threat or challenge and they make that decision within the law, I respect that,” he said.

De Blasio also said that allowing judges to set bail in cases of non-violent hate crimes was “an area that we definitely should look at again because hate crimes are such a profound challenge.”

“But the important thing for us to do right now is to work within the law as intensely and effectively as possible to protect people,” the mayor said during his daily briefing from City Hall.

De Blasio’s remarks came even though he appointed the judge who overturned the initial decision to set $20,000 bail for Jordan Burnette and instead set him free Sunday night.
Antisemitic Flyers Circulating in Florida City: ‘St. Pete Is Not Going to Stand for Racism’
Antisemitic flyers described as “disturbing” were found circulating in St. Petersburg, Florida, local news reported on Wednesday.

According to ABC affiliate WFTS Action News, the Anti-Defamation League contacted the Florida Holocaust Museum about a “small network of virulently antisemitic agitators” active in the Tampa Bay Area.

Elizabeth Gelman, director of the Holocaust Museum, said, “The type of actions groups like this employ are very hurtful, especially to our Holocaust survivor population, as they echo the antisemitic propaganda seen during the Holocaust.”

“We are deeply appreciative for the overt support of our community in the face of such vitriolic hatred,” she said.

Local rabbi Philip Weintraub said, “We are all in this together and hate has no place here. We’ve lived in a climate of harsh words for far too long and we need to work to build those bridges to work together.”

The St. Petersburg Police Department investigated the fliers, but concluded they did not constitute a crime.

City Councilwoman Darden Rice, however, said that the city will not tolerate such activity.

“St. Pete is not going to stand for racism, for antisemitism, for this type of hate-filled action,” she said.
Mass Grave of Holocaust Victims Uncovered in Logoza, Belarus
A mass grave of Holocaust victims has been discovered near the village of Logoza in Belarus, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Photos from the excavation site show that officials uncovered bone remains, full skeletons (some with bullets in their skulls), fragments of clothing and children’s shoes, in addition to ammunition from ditches that are as deep as five meters. Personal objects were found as well, including a key and a broken comb. The mass grave is located about 22 miles from the capital, Minsk.

Experts from the country’s State Forensic Examination Committee are working on the excavation site in partnership with a group from the general prosecutor’s office. Everything removed from the site has been inspected and recorded, and they will work to identify the excavated bodies.

“While this is the initial state of work, judging by what we see this is a civilian population,” said Dmitry Gora, chairman of the investigation committee under the prosecutor’s office. “Much more will be found in the future.”

The excavation was conducted as part of a criminal investigation into an alleged genocide of Belarusians during and after World War II. Some 1,214 bodies were discovered in May 2019 in a mass grave in the Belarus city of Brest, where the Jewish ghetto was located during the Holocaust. Previous mass graves were discovered in Brest in 1950 and in 1970, and in both instances, hundreds of victims were buried at cemeteries.
Children of Polish WW2 Hero Capt. Witold Pilecki Condemn Appointment of Hardline Nationalist to Auschwitz Museum Council
The son and granddaughters of one of Poland’s legendary World War II resistance heroes have joined a searing attack on the Polish government’s recent decision to appoint a hardline nationalist former Prime Minister to the advisory council of the Auschwitz concentration camp site.

In a letter to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Marowiecki, a group of descendants of Auschwitz prisoners condemned the appointment last month of former PM Beata Szydło, a top member of the ruling Law and Justice Party, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Council.

Critics have asserted that the presence of Szydło, who is now a member of the European Parliament, is a potentially fatal step towards “politicizing” the museum’s content in tandem with the government’s wider campaign to muzzle historical research into collaboration between the occupying Nazis and Polish citizens in the extermination of the Jews during the German occupation of Poland.

Charging that Szydło had built her political career by promoting “ideologies of exclusion,” the letter asserted that prisoners “in the infested barracks of Auschwitz did not dream of exclusion. Their dream was of a Poland friendly to citizens, no matter who they are, what they are called, where they come from and what religion they profess.”

Attacking Szydło’s record while she was in the prime minister’s office from 2015-2017, the letter declared: “We remember the statements excluding refugees, undermining the achievements of Holocaust researchers, tolerating overtly fascist organizations, and finally the denial of EU alliances that were created, among other things, so that the history of Auschwitz would never be repeated.”
Yosef Kleinman, the youngest survivor to testify at Eichmann trial, dies at 91
Yosef Kleinman, the youngest Holocaust survivor to testify at the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, has died at 91.

Kleinman, who lived in Jerusalem, died Tuesday, according to the Kan public broadcaster. The cause of death was not immediately released.

Kleinman was one of fewer than 180,000 remaining Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Kleinman was one of 110 witnesses at the 1961 trial of Eichmann, the most senior German official in charge of the extermination of the Jews, and at 31 was the youngest. His testimony, delivered just after another witness fainted, was about the fate of Jewish youths at Auschwitz.

Deported to Auschwitz in 1944 from Budapest when he was 14, Kleinman saw his mother and younger sister sent to their deaths.

In vivid terms that riveted the trial judges, Steinman described Josef Mengele, the physician at Auschwitz whom Steinman referred to in his testimony by his sobriquet, “The Angel of Death,” arriving at a soccer field on a bicycle with a measuring device. It became immediately clear to the youths gathered on the field that those who were shorter than the device’s measurements would die.

“Every one of us stood straight, each one of us sought an extra centimeter of height,” Kleinman said at the trial. He immediately discerned that he was not tall enough. His brother gave him pebbles to put in his shoes to get to the requisite height. Through some maneuvering, Kleinman remained with his brother in the line of those destined to slave labor.
The little-known ‘female Nicholas Winton’ who saved 10,000 Jewish children
Many would never have dared to walk straight up to Adolf Eichmann who, in 1938, was responsible for enforcing the Nazi policy of Jewish emigration, and ask to take 10,000 children over to England.

But not many were like Truus Wijsmuller. Leaning over the SS-Obersturmführer’s desk inside the Gestapo headquarters — formerly the Palais Rothschild in Vienna — the Dutch native told Eichmann the British government was happy to take youngsters under the age of 17 from Nazi countries for a temporary stay.

“Let’s arrange it,” she said. He, in turn, was astounded. “So Aryan and so insane,” he retorted.

Snarling at her, Eichmann proposed an impossible task — if Wijsmuller could successfully take 600 children, she could have all 10,000. But it had to be done that Saturday.

Logistics were one problem; convincing the most observant parents to let their children travel on the Jewish Sabbath — when that was expressly forbidden — was a very different obstacle.

But Wijsmuller proved Eichmann wrong and became a key part of not only the Kindertransport, but many other child refugee rescues throughout Europe during World War II.

While those she liaised closely with — including the late humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton — rightly received recognition for their efforts, Wijsmuller’s contribution is far from well-known, despite the fact she saved thousands of lives — often at great personal risk.
Israel unveils chosen space experiments, from battery cells to leukemia cells
The Ramon Foundation and the Ministry of Science and Technology announced on Wednesday the experiments chosen to be carried out by Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe as part of Israel’s Rakia Mission to the International Space Station.

The experiments, called “bold and daring” at the unveiling event at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv, will be part of Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission, the first ever private mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for the beginning of next year.

Commanded by Spanish-American astronaut and Axiom Space vice president Michael Lopez-Alegria, this will be the first fully private crew in history to live and work aboard the ISS, contingent upon crew approval by NASA and its international partners in the ISS.

On December 23, 2020, the Ramon Foundation issued a call for Israeli scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs, to submit proposals for experiments to be carried out on the ISS, pending NASA approval, as part of the Rakia Mission, on which astronaut Stibbe will become the second Israeli in space.

During the past few months, the Ramon Foundation, the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology, and senior Israeli space experts worked to guide Israeli startups, scientists, and researchers through the submission process. Training seminars and consulting sessions were held to calibrate the experiments with conditions in space.

On Wednesday the scientific and technological committee announced the chosen 44 experiments, based on their potential for technological, scientific and medical breakthroughs and their promise of economic impact. The committee included leading figures from Israeli academia, industry, and government and was headed by Inbal Kreiss, a space industry expert and head of the Innovation Systems Missiles and Space Division at IAI-Israel Aerospace Industries.
Fast-charging battery startup gets NASA nod for research in space
StoreDot, a maker of fast-charging battery technology for electric vehicles, said that NASA has given it approval to conduct what the startup says is the first space-based research and development program into new battery materials.

The experiment will be among a selected number of Israeli research projects to be performed on the International Space Station, as part of Israel’s Rakia program. Jointly backed by the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ramon Foundation, the Rakia (sky in Hebrew) program is part of Axiom Space Ax-1, the world’s first private mission to the ISS.

As part of the Rakia program, Eytan Stibbe will travel to the ISS on the SpaceX Dragon capsule next year, becoming only the second Israeli astronaut. On board, he will undertake 200 hours of scientific projects and educational outreach, including a series of live lessons for Israeli schoolchildren.

The Ramon Foundation and the Ministry of Science on Wednesday announced the 44 selected projects for the program, many of which still need NASA approval. The projects hail from a wide spectrum of scientific and technological disciplines – radiation, genomics, immunology, neural functioning, quantum communication, astrophysics, agri-tech, communications, optics, ophthalmology, medical devices, and disease research.

On board the ISS, StoreDot’s extreme fast charging (XFC) technology will undergo two weeks of rigorous testing in zero gravity conditions.
Israeli agtech startup Prospera snapped up by US firm Valmont for $300 million
Valmont Industries, Inc., a US maker of irrigation and infrastructure equipment, said Wednesday it has entered an accord to buy Israel’s Prospera Technologies, a maker of artificial intelligence-based sensors and cameras for monitoring crops, for $300 million.

The acquisition is the culmination of a two-year strategic partnership set up between the companies in 2019. The merging of the firms will create the “largest global, vertically-integrated artificial intelligence (AI) company in agriculture,” the companies said in a statement.

With in-field cameras and climatic sensors, Prospera allows farmers to accurately remote-manage their fields with real-time analysis on what is happening to their crops — leaf by leaf and on a multi-field, multi-crop basis. This access allows them to tackle critical issues of underperforming fields caused by pests, disease, irrigation, nutrient deficiencies and sub-optimal agro-technical activities.

The solutions are cost-effective and scalable, enabling farmers to grow crops in a more efficient and sustainable way. They also ensure water, pesticides and fertilizers are used only as required and allow for the maximum potential crop yield to be delivered to market.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, the statement said.

Since 2019, Valmont and Prospera have worked to integrate AI technologies to develop real-time crop analysis and anomaly detection solutions, resulting in more and more farmers using the technologies with greater returns for the growers, the statement said.
Israeli NGO Brings Emergency Medical Support to Rural India in Fight Against ‘Overwhelming’ COVID-19 Crisis
A health worker waits for the results of a rapid antigen test at a COVID-19 testing center in Srinagar, India. Photo: Idrees Abbas / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

As a catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 infections ravages India, an Israeli non-governmental humanitarian aid agency has begun providing emergency medical supplies and support to struggling 20 government-run hospitals in a rural areas with fewer resources than the country’s cities.

IsraAID has teamed up with the local Gabriel Project Mumbai, a Jewish volunteer-based non-profit organization, to help with urgent relief needed in the Maharashtra’s Palghar district, a mostly rural and tribal region bordering Mumbai, and home to over 4 million residents. Palghar is among the worst hit areas of the state, where the COVID-19 case count has gone up to 90,654, with a death toll of 1,621.

“The scale of the crisis in India is beyond overwhelming and the true COVID-19 numbers are probably ten times higher outside the cities as there is very limited testing,” Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s CEO told The Algemeiner. “Rural areas in India are very vulnerable and low-resourced. One of the challenges of emergency relief is that it is often done on a bigger scale all arriving in a big bucket. Our approach is more community-based. We track and monitor to make sure that the emergency supply reaches the most vulnerable.”

Together with the Gabriel Project Mumbai — founded in 2012 by Australian-born hi-tech executive turned social-entrepreneur Jacob Sztokman — IsraAID has started to locally procure urgent basic medical and protective supplies, including beds, face masks, syringes, and gloves for distribution to the hospitals in the Palghar district. To help the hospitals cope with major shortages and the influx of new COVID-19 patients, IsraAID is planning to ship medical equipment, including lifesaving oxygen, ventilators, and nebulizers.

Polizer added that the organization’s efforts will also focus on what he called the devastating secondary effects of the pandemic — in particular, the growing mental health crisis of frontline health workers, as well as the training for medical staff to encourage vaccinations.

UAE National Archives, National Library of Israel Ink Historic Agreement
The National Library of Israel (NLI) in Jerusalem and the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi have signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU), the two organizations announced in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The MoU, which was signed by the two institutes’ directors, Oren Weinberg and Abdulla M. Alraisi , commits both institutions “to work together in support of mutual and separate goals and for the benefit of the international cultural and documentary heritage sector,” according to the statement.

Valid for an initial period of three years, the agreement lays out several areas for collaboration, including “digitization and digital sharing of holdings and research materials; professional knowledge-sharing; cultural exchange, such as conferences, workshops, trainings, study tours, exhibitions; and more.”

With regard to the digital sphere, a number of specific initiatives are already being discussed, according to the statement.

David Blumberg, chairman of the NIL’s Board of Directors, said that such cultural collaborations would serve as the cornerstone for lasting ties between the two countries.

“I have no doubt that the real leap forward in ensuring sustainable peace and cordial relations over time will be in the realm of cultural ties, and in the importance of respect for other cultures. I am certain that close collaboration between the National Archives of the UAE and the National Library of Israel will serve as a cornerstone in ensuring warm relations for the mutual benefit of both countries into the future,” he said.
‘Lucky’ Bronze Roman-Era Oil Lamp Unearthed in Jerusalem
A rare bronze oil lamp, shaped like a grotesque face cut in half, was recently discovered during excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David National Park, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

The lamp—described by IAA archaeologists Ari Levy and Yuval Baruch as a “very unique find”—was unearthed in the foundations of a building dating to the Roman period, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 CE.

Levy and Baruch believe that the lamp was placed there deliberately, to bring good fortune to residents.

“Foundation deposits [ritual offerings] were prevalent in the ancient world, and were intended for luck and to ensure the continued existence of the building and its occupants,” they explained.

According to Levy, director of excavations at the site, the fact that such a massive structure was built after Jewish Jerusalem was destroyed indicates that the area continued to be important even after the destruction of the Second Temple.

However, he added: “It is possible that the importance of the building, and the need to bless its activity with luck by burying a foundation deposit, was due to its proximity to the Siloam Pool, which was also used in the Roman period as the central source of water in the city.”