Saturday, July 17, 2021

From Ian:

Yisrael Medad: Jabotinsky, Arabs and the Jewish homeland
To reach that stage, Jabotinsky wrote that the Jews in the Mandate territory required a wall. Was that wall, a la Podeh, one of a separation of populations? One of apartheid? One of suppression? No. He explained, “The only way to obtain such an agreement is the iron wall, which is to say a strong power in Palestine that is not amenable to any Arab pressure.”

Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall was part of a defensive mechanism that would convince Arabs engaged in a terrorist campaign that they would fail. A century later, they have not yet surrendered their campaign of violence, negation and rejection of Jewish national identity.

Jabotinsky’s outlook on the Arabs in Mandate Palestine was based on his early promotion, from 1906, on behalf of national rights of minorities in Europe’s multi-ethnic empires. His dissertation was on Karl Renner’s concept of national cultural autonomy.

His 1929 poem, Two Banks has the Jordan, contains the line, “There the son of Arabia, of Nazareth and my son will find fulfillment”. In a 1930 essay, he wrote, “He can produce documentary evidence of always having been a staunch adherent of the binational, even the multi-national state idea.”

Gil Rubin, in his 2019 study, notes that Jabotinsky, despite writing in 1937, “From a Jewish perspective it [population transfers] is a crime,” did consider the idea of a transfer proposal of Arabs out of Palestine in an outline of an article jotted down in November 1939. His thinking was influenced by the Peel Commission’s recommendation to relocate 300,000 Arabs, and also based on his belief that no ethnic minorities would remain in Eastern Europe after the war. Up to twenty million minority peoples, he foresaw, would be forced to leave their homes or assimilate into the majority population.

Nevertheless, as Jabotinsky’s “The Arab Angle Undramatized” proposal shows, he believed once a firm Jewish majority was in place, it would convince the Arab residents that Jewish primacy was the reality and normalcy. The article outlined in detail his view that wide-ranging autonomy rights could be then granted. His thinking formed the basis of Menachem Begin’s 1977 autonomy proposal.

It is unfortunate that we are a witness to Elie Podeh’s own legacy of falsehood.

Israel quietly letting Jews pray on Temple Mount, in break with status quo — TV
Israel has quietly started allowing Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount in recent months, in what would appear to be a major change to the status quo that has existed at the holy site since the Jewish state captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan during 1967’s Six Day War, according to a report Saturday.

Channel 12’s religious affairs reporter Yair Cherki filmed prayers at the site in recent days, as policemen — who in the past would eject any person suspected of prayer, and sometimes kicked people out for merely citing a biblical verse while speaking — passively looked on.

“For months now, every morning this unofficial prayer quorum has been praying on the Temple Mount,” Cherki said. The worshipers gather without prayer books, tefillin or any other symbols of prayer that could draw unwanted attention from Muslims at the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

But pray they do, with the cops turning a blind eye. The Islamic Waqf, which administers the compound, is aware of the situation and monitors them from a distance, but has so far not taken action, according to the report.

Cherki described the developments as “a revolution, unfolding quietly and gradually under the radar.”

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, as the site of the biblical Temples. It is the site of the third-holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Biden’s Mideast point man said to urge Israel to aid a teetering PA
The US administration’s point person for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reportedly warned Israeli officials during his visit to the region this week that the Palestinian Authority is undergoing one of its worst crises yet and that Jerusalem would be well advised to provide some assistance.

“I have never seen the Palestinian Authority in a worse situation,” US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr told Israeli officials, according to a Thursday report by the Axios news site.

The PA’s crisis is multifaceted: At the economic level, it has suffered significantly as a result of the ongoing pandemic. It has also seen Israel withhold hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenues on an annual basis since 2019 in order to offset funds that Ramallah pays to terrorists and their families.

The PA also faces a legitimacy crisis at the political level after its President Mahmoud Abbas made the decision in April to indefinitely postpone the first parliamentary election in nearly 15 years. The PA leader said the decision was due to Israel’s refusal to allow balloting in East Jerusalem, but most observers charged that Abbas feared an embarrassing loss to his rivals in Hamas and within his own Fatah party.

To make matters worse, the PA became the target of international uproar after a prominent Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, was killed last month while in PA custody. The death sparked protests throughout the West Bank, against which Abbas’s security forces clamped down harshly, leading to further demands for explanations from the US and other countries around the world.

Amr met with Abbas, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and other senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah as well as Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv while in the region this week.
Palestinian-Jordanian crisis erupts ahead of Abdullah-Biden meeting
A senior Palestinian official has triggered a crisis between the Palestinian Authority and Jordan after stating that the Palestinians alone had thwarted former US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace.

The Jordanians say that they also played a major role in derailing the Trump plan.

The PA dismissed the Trump plan, which was unveiled in January 2020, as a conspiracy aiming to liquidate the Palestinian issue and Palestinian rights.

The Arab League, including Jordan, also rejected the plan, saying it would not lead to peace or meet the minimum rights and aspirations of the Palestinians.

Jordanians feared that the plan aimed to turn their country into an alternative homeland for the Palestinians.

The crisis comes on the eve of a meeting in Washington between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and US President Joe Biden.

It also comes two weeks after PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah agreed during a meeting in Amman to coordinate positions “on the interest of the Arab nation and its common cause, primarily the Palestinian cause,” according to the PA’s official news agency WAFA.

During the meeting, Abdullah reiterated Jordan’s support for the Palestinians “in achieving their just and legitimate rights and establishing their independent, sovereign and viable state on the June 4, 1967, lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Jordan’s official Petra news agency reported.

The crisis erupted during a recent meeting of the Arab Parliament, the legislative body of the Arab League. A video of the rare public, heated discussion appeared over the weekend on various social media platforms, drawing sharp criticism from Palestinians and Jordanians alike.

The Palestinian official, Azzam al-Ahmed, a veteran member of the Fatah Central Committee, said in a speech before the parliament that the Palestinians alone had foiled Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”

“We are the ones who clashed with America,” he said.

Argentine Jewish Leader: AMIA Bombing Court Hearing Held on Day of Ceremony ‘Goes Against the Memory’ of Victims
The head of Argentina’s umbrella Jewish group has lambasted the timing of a court hearing — part of the long-running legal aftermath of the 1994 bombing against the country’s Jewish community headquarters — that was held on the same day that victims commemorated the anniversary of the deadly terror attack.

The public court hearing was scheduled on Friday for Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to defend herself in an inquiry into a 2013 agreement her then-government had negotiated with Iran.

The Iranian regime orchestrated the July 18, 1994 on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish center, in which 85 people were murdered and more than 300 wounded — and which, 27 years later, has left Argentine Jews still seeking to bring those responsible to justice.

Drawing the community’s outrage, Friday’s hearing coincided with a memorial event planned by AMIA and the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA), an umbrella Jewish organization, that began at 9:53 a.m., the time at which the attack on the Jewish center occurred.

In response to a request from AMIA and DAIA to hold the session on another day, the federal court postponed the virtual hearing by one hour, from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.

DAIA president Jorge Knoblovits said that the timing was “unnecessarily confrontational and goes against the memory” of the victims, in an interview with Argentine journalist Cristina Pérez on Radio Mitre.

“If the feelings of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack of the 20th century are disrespected, it is very difficult to reach justice and end impunity,” Knoblovits said. “We are very ashamed and very embarrassed that you cannot wait two, three weeks or a month to exercise the right of defense, which you can do so legitimately and constitutionally. But to do so today is offensive.”

“July is a month of remembrance, of homage, of claim for justice. It is not a month to politicize a cause,” he continued.
Creditors cancel $14 billion of Sudan’s debt after reforms, Israel normalization
Creditor countries agreed to cancel $14.1 billion of Sudan’s international debts, praising its economic reforms and efforts to fight poverty.

In a statement Friday, the Paris Club of creditor nations also announced that it rescheduled Sudan’s remaining $9.4 billion in debt to the group, and held out the possibility of more debt relief in the future.

Sudan’s overall foreign debt is estimated at $70 billion. The Paris Club, a group of 22 nations that lend to governments in need, urged other lenders to provide similar debt forgiveness.

On his Facebook page, Sudan’s Finance Minister Gebreil Ibrahim congratulated the Sudanese people on this development, vowing to work on reaching similar or “even better” agreements with other creditors from outside the Paris Club.

Friday’s announcement came after the International Monetary Fund announced a $1.4 billion debt relief package for Sudan last month, and France canceled Sudan’s $5 billion debt in an effort to support the country’s transitional leadership and help its crippled economy.

Sudan’s joint military-civilian government that has ruled the African country after a popular uprising has taken a series of bold steps to try to revive a battered and distorted economy where smuggling is rife. That’s included floating its currency, starting to address heavy government subsidies, particularly on fuel, and seeking investment from international donors.
Scottish Friends of Palestine Seeks ‘Bias-Free’ Schools Curriculum in Parliament Petition
Years after a contentious debate over how children in Scotland are taught about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a nonprofit is petitioning the country’s legislators to require public schools to adopt what one Jewish leader described as a “pro-Palestinian narrative” in their curriculum, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Introduced at the Parliament by Scottish Friends of Palestine (SFP) on Tuesday, the petition — which has amassed at least 1,200 signatures and has the backing of a staffer to the Scottish First Minister — calls on the government to “acknowledge the right of Scotland’s pupils to a bias-free education on the topic of Israel-Palestine.”

The effort follows a 2015 controversy over materials at a Glasgow-area school described Palestinians as terrorists, the JC said — prompting efforts to prescribe a more “impartial” curriculum on the conflict. A lengthy parliamentary debate ended with no agreement.

Stanley Grossman of Scottish Friends of Israel said the recent SFP efforts went too far, calling the materials they submitted “very divisive and potentially harmful.”

Micheline Brannan, chair of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, characterized the petition as an attempt “introduce a pro-Palestinian narrative into Scottish schools.”

The request is now under review by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee.

Islamic Jihad: No imminent war with Israel
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second largest terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, said on Saturday that it does not believe that another round of fighting with Israel is possible “at present.”

“The region is not ready for such a round,” said Mohammed al-Hindi, head of the PIJ politburo in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Hindi was speaking during a seminar organized in the Gaza Strip by the Atlas Center for Studies and Research, a Palestinian group that specializes in Israeli affairs. The seminar was attended by dozens of academics, political analysts and leaders of various Palestinian factions.

Referring to last May’s 11-day war between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian factions, Hindi said that the “battle of the Sword of Jerusalem has not ended yet.”

Hamas named the war “Sword of Jerusalem,” while Israel chose the name “Guardian of the Walls.”

According to Hindi, the war showed that the Palestinians support the “option of resistance” against Israel. The Palestinians, he said, will “foil all attempts to steal from them the achievements of the battle.”

Hindi claimed that before the war, there were attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “in favor of the Zionist enemy and transform the Palestinian cause into an economic peace issue.” He did not provide details about the alleged attempts or the parties ostensibly behind them.

Senate Republicans introduce a bill to impose sanctions on Iran
A group of 17 Senate Republicans introduced a bill on Friday that seeks to impose sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ebrahim Raisi, who was elected president in June.

The bill calls on President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on the two in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. “The Biden administration has rushed to dismantle sanctions on the Iranian regime and is looking to remove what’s left of American pressure,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led the legislation, said in a statement. “They have publicly committed to revoking Trump-era sanctions, including sanctions against Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran’s President-elect.”

Cruz went on to say that Khamenei “uses corruption, violence, and confiscation to amass wealth stolen from the Iranian people” and that “President-elect Raisi is responsible for the butchering of tens of thousands of innocent Iranians. They should both be subject to the full force of American sanctions.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) said that “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and new President Ebrahim Raisi both have atrocious human rights records,” saying “they’ve presided over the executions of thousands of political prisoners and the mass arrests of journalists, lawyers and American citizens. Instead of considering lifting sanctions on these terrible human rights abusers, the United States must take a stand against the corrupt and dangerous regime in Iran. Sanctioning two of the world’s biggest human rights offenders is a good place to start.”
Seth Frantzman: Protests reported in Iran’s Ahwaz region
Online activists who are connected to Ahwaz human rights groups have reported protests in southwest Iran in the Ahwaz region. Reports at Akhbar Alaan and other outlets have also said there are demonstrations. Videos posted online showed protests, primarily at night, and it was difficult to confirm what else was occurring.

The reports say that Ahwaz residents of the region, which is mostly made up of Arab minorities within Iran, had been angry over lack of clean water. This was attributed to Tehran’s building of new dams.

There is also an ongoing anger over discrimination and a feeling that the region is marginalized. The region has had many protests over the years against the regime, which has targeted Ahwaz activists abroad. Activists in Europe and the UK, had vowed to hold a protest over the weekend in response.

Iranian state-affiliated media did not appear to report the protests, even to downplay them, or accuse them of some crimes. Al-Hurra reported last week that there was a recent explosion in the region as well. This included an “explosion in one of the oil pipelines crossing the western part of the city, according to the Iranian Oil Ministry's news agency.”

The explosion, at the time, killed three workers who were carrying out maintenance work, the report said. It happened in Ahwaz, the capital of the Khuzestan region, a report said. “Such accidents in industrial facilities are common in Iran.”

Video of protests in Susangerd, also known as Khafajiyeh, was also posted online. At the Ahwazi Organization for Human Rights, many videos of protests were put online. Another activists also posted videos from the city of Hamidiyeh, which is a thirty minute drive from Susangerd and is outside of the main city of Ahwaz.
The EU Leaders Join North Korea in Welcoming Iran's Mass Murderer President
By handpicking a mass murderer to be president, the Iranian regime is sending a strong message to the Iranian people and the world that it will not respect human rights.

How could a leader of a democratic country congratulate a mass murderer?

The people of Iran, like those of Hong Kong and now Cuba, have been struggling and fighting to change their regime, while European governments and leaders of democratic countries -- including the current administration in the United States -- have basically been sending a message to the people: We do not care about your aspiration for justice, rule of law and human rights; instead we are going to partner with your authoritarian leaders.

Europe's leaders have also been totally disregarding calls by human rights organizations to investigate Iran's mass murderer mullah -- who will also most likely be the next Supreme Leader of Iran.

"That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran..... The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity. — Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, June 19, 2021.

It is indeed shameful, and a blow to the people of Iran and advocates of human rights and democracy, that European governments and leaders of democracies are joining North Korea to congratulate Iran's mass murderer president -- and wishing him success!
1 killed at Iran water shortage protests in restive drought-hit province
A demonstrator was shot dead during protests against water shortages in drought-hit southwestern Iran, state media reported Saturday, with an official blaming the death on “opportunists and rioters.”

The demonstrator was killed in the Khuzestan province town of Shadegan, the official IRNA news agency said.

“Last night (Friday), a number of Shadegan’s people had gathered to protest water shortages due to the drought, during which opportunists and rioters shot dead one of the demonstrators,” the county’s acting governor, Omid Sabripour, told IRNA.

Sabripour said the perpetrators “sought to agitate the people by shooting in the air” and a “young Shadegan resident” was shot in the process.

In separate comments to the ISNA news agency, Sabripour said the fire was directed at both the demonstrators and security forces.

He added that the victim was a “30-year-old passer-by” and that those responsible were identified and some arrested last night, with a manhunt under way for the others.
Seth Frantzman: Turkey accused of bulldozing cemetery to create 'mass grave' - analysis
Turkey’s state media claimed last week that a “mass grave” of 61 bodies was found in Afrin in Syria, an area that Turkey illegally occupies and which it ethnically cleansed of Kurds in 2018. The Turkish state media claims, without any evidence that “the victims were executed by the US-backed PKK/YPG terrorist organization.”

In fact, say many Kurds, the victims were people killed by Turkey who had been buried in rows of marked graves until Turkey bulldozed the grave markers in 2018. Now Ankara has discovered a grave it allegedly desecrated and is inventing false reports.

The claims by Turkey and its state media, that often behaves as a propaganda arm of Turkey’s ruling AKP party, is not the first time Ankara has invented stories about Afrin. On the eve of a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Turkey’s President, Turkey invented a story of a “YPG/PKK terror attack on hospital” in Afrin in mid-June. Turkish media, such as Anadolu, pushed the story until after the June 14 meeting, and then it suddenly stopped covering it, as if the attack had never happened. It is still not clear who bombed the hospital.

According to photos and video put out by Kurdish activists the graves in Afrin were once marked in 2018 and included those who had recently been killed by Ankara’s invasion of Afrin in 2018. Afrin was a peaceful Kurdish area in Syria during much of Syria’s civil war. Turkey unleashed far-right extremist groups made up Syrians who Turkey had recruited, to attack the area in January 2018. The goal was to depopulate Afrin and then bring in pro-Turkey Syrian Arabs who had been displaced from other areas of Syria. Turkey wanted to use Syrian rebel groups to fight Kurds so that Turkey could work with Iran and Russia in Syria against the US.
Libya PM Unaware of Russia, Turkey Deal on Foreign Fighters
Libya’s unity government Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah said on Friday he was unaware of any understanding between Russia and Turkey on a withdrawal of their foreign fighters, but that such a move would be welcomed.

Speaking to Reuters in New York, Dbeibah also said he was committed to holding elections on Dec. 24, but warned that some lawmakers may be reluctant to give up power. Dbeibah, a businessman appointed interim prime minister in February, said he has not yet decided whether to run for office.

Libya has had little stability since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, then head of state. A UN-led peace process brought a ceasefire last summer, after fighting between rival factions paused, and then a unity government.

Following a UN-backed conference in Berlin last month, German and US officials said Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Libya, reached an initial understanding on withdrawal of their foreign fighters.

“I have not heard of this agreement regarding the withdrawal of fighters. But we welcome any agreement… and we welcome the exit of any forces, fighters or mercenaries with any support from any party,” Dbeibah said. “We are talking with all parties regarding the withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya.”

UN sanctions monitors have reported that thousands of Syrians had been fighting in Libya either alongside unity government troops – who were also advised by Turkish troops – or with Russia’s Wagner group in support of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
John Hagee: Ilhan Omar's antisemitism poses a moment of reckoning for Democrats
Representative Omar has long trafficked in outrageous antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes, including perhaps most infamously her claim that “Israel has hypnotized the world…” She hates Israel simply because it dares to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. In her most recent outrage, she drew an equivalence between the carefully calibrated and moral actions of our democratic ally, Israel, and Hamas, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that has murdered thousands and has all but deified antisemitism. Then, inexplicably, she doubled down on her position in an interview with CNN and claimed Jewish House Democratic leaders have not been “partners in justice.”

Earlier this year, in response to Representative Greene’s laundry list of appalling rhetoric, Speaker Pelosi said, “What I’m concerned about is the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, who is willing to overlook, ignore those statements.” Her position was morally correct and undoubtedly informed by her conscience. She should act consistently in response to trouble in the Democratic caucus by working with her colleagues to sideline Representative Omar by removing her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) without delay. Failure to boot Rep. Omar from HFAC makes Speaker Pelosi no better than those she condemned for failing to take a stand against Representative Greene.

To maintain the integrity of HFAC, ensure US policy reflects the deeply held values of Americans and live up to our commitment to stand with our allies and stand up to agents of hatred, Speaker Pelosi must take action. Representative Omar’s statements embolden groups like Hamas. Her scant half-hearted contrition and “clarifications” should be summarily rejected as mere cover for the truth: she is a bigot, an enemy of the Jewish state, and she does not represent the shared values upon which the US-Israel relationship is founded.

Through her hatred, Representative Omar has forfeited the privilege to have a seat at the table where important decisions are made. We must be better than empowering bigots with positions of power. We must respond with action. Anything less, and the series of events compels the conclusion that for Speaker Pelosi, one can be an antisemite as long as they’re also a Democrat.
Anthony Albanese blasts Israel boycotters
[Australian] Opposition leader Anthony Albanese vehemently condemned antisemitism, boycotts of Israel and the apartheid slur, but failed to provide clarity on whether Labor would recognise a Palestinian state if elected to government during an online forum with Jewish communal leaders this week.

In the Tuesday evening Zoom hosted by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Peter Wertheim, the federal Labor leader reiterated his support for a two-state solution, saying he has always been “very concerned” by people who argue for a one-state solution, calling it “a recipe for disaster”.

Recognising that Israel was created as a Jewish state, Albanese said, “To pretend that wasn’t the case is ahistorical.”

But while clear on that point, he was less so when asked whether Labor would recognise a Palestinian state should it win the next election – as its party platform now calls for it to do – also stating that it would be “pre-emptive” to confirm which Palestinian authority it would recognise.

“We wouldn’t take any action without consulting relevant organisations and nations, across the board, including the Jewish community, including Israel and the Palestinian community,” he said.

When Wertheim pointed out Israel’s peace offers of 2001 and 2008, which were rejected by the Palestinian Authority, Albanese agreed, “It is a tragedy that those opportunities have been lost.”

Addressing the recent Israel–Hamas conflict, Albanese called the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel “counterproductive” as it “undermines peace and endangers lives”, but also criticised “some of the actions of Israel as well in responding aggressively”.
Departing Rutgers’ Hillel head worries about Jewish student life
As he ends his tenure as the director of the largest Hillel in the country after 20 years in the post, Andrew Getraer says Jews at Rutgers University face a reality out of Dickens: the best of times and the worst of times.

Jewish life at the school, New Jersey’s flagship university, is thriving. There are 6,000 Jews on campus, and it’s known as a destination for students seeking a vibrant Jewish community with a range of services, religious communities and clubs.

But it’s also been a tough year. Rutgers students learned remotely for an entire year, disconnected from the protective bubble of campus that, even at a big state school, still feels more intimate and insulated than the outside world. And to Getraer, the spike in antisemitic incidents that accompanied last month’s conflict in Israel and Gaza demonstrated the dangers of the left-wing antisemitism that he sees on campus.

“We have incredible, vibrant Jewish life on campus like probably has never been seen before in American history,” he said. “There’s more Torah learning, there’s more Israel celebration, there’s more Jewish community than ever.” But, he added, “there’s also more antisemitism than we’ve had in generations.”

Though anti-Israel activity has existed for decades at Rutgers, Getraer says it’s more common now.

As if to put a fine point on it, a week after the conflict ended, the outgoing chancellor of Rutgers issued a condemnation of antisemitism — then apologized for the condemnation after the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine complained.

At Holocaust memorial, French PM urges fight against ‘temptations of barbarism’
French Prime Minister Jean Castex called on Friday to “fight everywhere and always against the unfulfilled temptations of barbarism,” during a ceremony at the Izieu memorial museum, in Ain.

Castex visited the final refuge of 44 Jewish children and their six educators, rounded up on April 6, 1944 by order of the Gestapo, commanded by Klaus Barbie. They were all deported and murdered in Nazi extermination camps.

“The throat tightens, the voice breaks at the mere idea that these children torn from their parents, hunted down and chased, these children thrown into trucks, could find the strength and the courage to sing, until the end, their love of France,” Castex said, alluding to the song “You Won’t Have Alsace and Lorraine” that the children sang in trucks after the roundup.

The prime minister paid tribute to the local population, recalling the assistance given to refugee children, and underlined the benevolent role played by the then sub-prefect, Pierre-Marcel Wiltzer.

“Between the villages of Izieu and Brégnier-Cordon, everyone knows [of the refugee] colony, everyone knows and everyone is silent.”

Castex lingered in several rooms of the memorial, in front of drawings left by the children from the class led by teacher Gabrielle Perrier.
NYPD Investigating After Brooklyn Man Beaten, Robbed on Way to Synagogue
The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating after a Brooklyn man was attacked from behind and robbed while walking to morning synagogue services.

The 41-year-old victim was walking to synagogue at around 5:45 a.m. Friday when two men assaulted him, punching him in the face several times before taking off with his bag and prayer shawl.

Surveillance footage of the attack was published by the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol, which said its volunteers had managed to recover the victim’s tefillin.

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force said on Twitter that it was investigating the robbery, and asked those with information about the incident to call the police tip line.

Montreal auction house selling Nazi memorabilia as 'historical artifacts'
A Montreal auction house has stirred criticism and concern over a new auction lot containing Nazi war memorabilia.

Enchères Champagne, an auction house located in Montreal, Canada, launched an online live auction on Thursday titled "Military auctions - German WWII" which contains artifacts from Nazi Germany.

Some of the items being sold include iron crosses, medals, pins, and numerous items containing the image of the Nazi eagle and swastika. They are also selling numerous Nazi daggers, helmets, belts, shoes, pouches, patches, and flags with Nazi imagery on it, such as the swastika or images of Hitler, not to mention the infamous red armband.

The 128 lots began to sell on Thursday at 6 p.m. local time.

"We are selling historical pieces for military collectors," said Claude Champagne of the auction house in response to widespread criticism over the sales, according to Montreal's CTV News.

Seth Frantzman: Cyber Week: How Israel became a leader in cyber tech and investment
Israel has become one of the world leaders in cyber security.

One of those who played a key role in Israel’s pioneering role in this field, which is now emerging as one of the most important aspects of our global economy and security, is Professor Isaac Ben-Israel. He is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) at Tel Aviv University. An expert in mathematics, physics and philosophy, he earned his Ph.D in 1988. Prof. Ben-Israel served in the IDF until retiring in 2002. During his service he held posts in operations, intelligence and weapon development units and research and development in the IDF, according to Tel Aviv University. He also serves as Chairman of the Israeli Space Agency.

The center at TAU has some 300 members and is interdisciplinary meaning it takes into account not just computer and what we may think of as “cyber” but also other fields such as experts from social sciences. Ben-Israel envisioned it this way. “I was in affect the one in 2010-11 that was asked by the previous Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu how to make Israel one of top five countries in cyber security and my report was approved and turned into a government resolution in 2011,” he says. “That was ten years ago and now you can see the results around you, the approach of the report was interdisciplinary, our recommendations were not limited to technology, but also the other aspects of our lives.”

This matters because this week is Cyber Week and there is a summit meeting of the heads of global and local cyber industry. Held annually and led by the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at Tel Aviv University along with the Israel National Cyber Directorate, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the event will be held on July 19-22, at Tel Aviv University this year. Past events have seen thousands of attendees from dozens of countries and over 50 roundtables and workshops.

This year’s conference will be attended by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Minister of Public Security, Omer Bar Lev along with dozens of other senior officials from Israel and abroad. Organizers say it is “a meeting point for prominent cyber experts and researchers from Israel and around the world. Senior diplomats and businessmen bring the latest issues and trends in the field and in relation to the period, along with the most updated developments and information.”
Blind man’s brain learns to ‘see’ through his ears
Israeli neuroscientists trained a 50-year-old man, blind from birth, to recognize objects using a sensory substitution algorithm called EyeMusic.

Developed by Prof. Amir Amedi, founding director of the Baruch Ivcher Institute for Brain, Cognition & Technology at IDC Herzliya, EyeMusic converts visual stimuli into “soundscapes” — sound units that convey information about geometric shapes.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the man’s brain before and after he learned to recognize soundscapes revealed that neural circuits in his brain had formed “topographic maps” previously thought incapable of forming after infancy.

“The human brain is indeed more plastic during infancy, but it maintains an enormous potential for reprogramming throughout a person’s life,” said Amedi, who did groundbreaking research into sensory substitution devices at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before joining IDC in 2019.

The latest study, reported in the journal NeuroImage, provides new evidence of the brain’s ability to change. It holds out promise that people can be trained to restore lost function, for example after a stroke.
From gymnastics to judo, Israel primed to strike Olympic gold in Tokyo
When the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicks off next Friday night, 89 athletes will proudly march under the Israeli flag.

It’s the largest Israeli delegation to the Olympic Games in history, nearly double the previous high of 47 athletes at the 2016 Games in Rio. That jump is fueled largely by the 24 members of Israel’s first-ever Olympic baseball team. But the 2020 Games — held in 2021 after a year-long COVID delay, but not renamed — also mark Israel’s debut in surfing, archery and equestrian sports.

The most experienced member of the delegation is gymnast Alexander Shatilov, who will be representing Israel for the fourth time. Artistic gymnast Lihie Raz and swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko are both just 17 years old, although Gorbenko will celebrate her 18th birthday a day before the closing ceremony.

With no spectators and little freedom of movement for the competing athletes, these games will be an Olympics like no other as Tokyo battles a fresh outbreak of COVID-19. Many of Israel’s contenders have been waiting five years for their chance to prove their worth, and they are raring to go.

Israel has won just nine Olympic medals, and only one gold — in sailing at the 2004 Athens Games. Will 2021 be the year Israel scores another top prize at the world’s largest sporting event?

The Times of Israel checked in with Israeli sports experts on Israel’s best medal chances at the Games and which athletes to look out for with just days left until the Games begin.
How Israel became a judo powerhouse - opinion
When he immigrated to Israel from his native Ukraine in the early 1990s, judo master Igor Romanitsky was already resigned to quitting the sport professionally and pursuing a medical career.

“Israel wasn’t known for its judo scene back then, and I had a medical degree,” Romanitsky, now 57, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I assumed my days as a judoka were over.”

But Romanitsky, a father of two from Modiin, was in for a surprise.

In 1992, judokas Yael Arad and Oren Smadja won silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the women’s and men’s competitions in the Barcelona Olympics, becoming the first Israeli athletes to bring home an Olympic medal for that country. Their achievements, and an infusion of judo masters from the Soviet Union like Romanitsky, spurred a national love affair with the sport, which has led to additional accomplishments and turned Israel into a power in the field in both men’s and women’s competitions.

Smadja, in a famous quote following his victory, encapsulated the story of judo in Israel when he summarized his rise from obscurity: “I aimed to come in small and come out big,” he said.

In 2004, Arik Zeevi won the bronze at the Athens Olympics — the pinnacle of a five-year spree in which he won three golds and a silver at the European Judo Championships. The following year, Israel took the team gold in that tournament. And in 2012, Zeevi recaptured the gold at age 35.
Saxony’s only synagogue to survive Kristallnacht restored after decades of work
For years after World War II, the once magnificent Goerlitz Synagogue in Germany housed a family with goats and pigs. The roof of the Art Deco building was crumbling; the government came close to demolishing the whole structure.

But this week, that very synagogue — the only one in the state of Saxony to survive the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 — was rededicated as a house of worship and space for interfaith gatherings after some 30 years of renovation and restoration.

The Cultural Forum Synagogue Görlitz — which soon will house both Jewish religious services and interfaith cultural events — was revealed in a streamed ceremony on Monday in an event that had been postponed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Norwegian Jewish vocalist Bente Kahan performed, and local and national politicians, rabbis and other dignitaries offered remarks.

Completed in stages over the years, the restoration was “lovingly done,” though it did not bring the synagogue fully back, said Alex Jacobowitz, a cantor and chair of the town’s Jewish community. For example, the tablets in the sanctuary with the Ten Commandments have not been restored, nor have the Stars of David on the building’s exterior, or the words from Exodus that once graced the entrance: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

But the tiny Jewish community — fewer than 30 members — and its supporters did raise some 70,000 euros (about $83,000) to cover the cost of replacing a giant Jewish star that once stood on the building’s cupola, visible for miles around in the city of some 55,000 near the Polish border.

Architects William Lossow and Hans Max Kuhne designed the synagogue, which had room for the entire community of about 600 Jews at the time of its original opening in March 1911. The city of Goerlitz boasted numerous Jewish institutions at the time, Jacobowitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He recently published a book about the synagogue.

In the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938, Nazis set the building ablaze, but the local fire department put out the flames. A few years later, many of the community’s Jews were deported and killed in the Holocaust.
Hungary’s forgotten wartime heroine remembered 100 years after her birth
In Israel, even schoolchildren know the name of Hannah Szenes, but in her birthplace of Hungary she has largely been forgotten.

Szenes was born to a Jewish family in Budapest 100 years ago, on 17 July 1921. In 1944, at the age of 22, she undertook a daring mission into Nazi-occupied Hungary. She was arrested and executed later that year after refusing to crack under torture.

On Sunday, to celebrate the centenary of her birth, more than 140 Israeli soldiers will carry out a parachute jump at the same place she and other Jewish fighters parachuted into Yugoslavia before their mission in 1944, in what is now Slovenia. They will then continue to Budapest to learn more about Szenes and her background.

“Her story is a mythical story and it’s embedded in the history of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Yacov Hadas-Handelsman, Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

Szenes graduated from high school in Budapest and joined a Zionist student organisation, before leaving for British Mandate Palestine in 1939, amid an increasingly restrictive climate for Jews in Hungary.

She lived on a kibbutz, wrote songs and poetry in Hungarian and Hebrew, and in 1943 volunteered for a Jewish commando unit formed under the aegis of the British army. She was the only woman in the unit, which was dropped into Yugoslavia in mid-March 1944.

For Szenes, the goal was to continue to Hungary, where she knew the fate of nearly a million Jews, including her own mother, hung in the balance. She crossed the border in June, a few months after Hungary was formally occupied by the Nazis, and was captured almost immediately.


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