Friday, July 30, 2021

From Ian:

NYPost Editorial: Sorry, Ben & Jerry: You’re on the wrong side of history along with all who boycott Israel
“Imagine Whirled Peace,” a John Lennon tribute flavor, is as close as Ben & Jerry’s get to promoting actual world peace — and the founders’ claim that halting business in the West Bank puts the company on the “right side of history” is beyond bunk.

Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield wrote a New York Times op-ed in defense of the company’s move to ban sales in what it called “the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” on top of stating earlier that it was “brave.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio actually got it right: “You cannot have peace if you undermine the economic reality and create division.”

Building a functional Palestinian state requires building a functional Palestinian economy, which means boosting commerce of all kinds on the West Bank — even when the customers are Jews, it means jobs for Palestinians.

All the boycotting and divestment simply leaves Palestinians more distraught — and more prone to buy the hate-propaganda of their anti-democratic, anti-liberal rulers, who pretend that Israel can somehow be eliminated or at least turned into a majority-Arab state.

Neither of which is going to happen.

In fact, the future is in the Abraham Accords — the multiple Arab-Israel peace agreements aiming at mutual prosperity, which were reached only after Team Trump gave the hand to the goons who control the West Bank.

Dear Ben and Jerry: Ignorance is Not a Jewish Value
Why did Ben and Jerry not show a desire to go deeper and better understand a complicated conflict? Maybe because the messy truth didn’t fit their easy narrative.

Regardless of how one feels about Israeli policies, the messy truth is that chronic Palestinian rejectionism, more than any other factor, has defined the conflict. Had Ben and Jerry done just a little homework, they would have learned that the intent to eliminate the Jewish state predates any Jewish settlements. It’s a fact that when the PLO was founded in 1964 as a militant anti-Israel movement, there was not one Jewish settlement.

It makes one wonder: What incentive do Palestinian leaders have to end the occupation when they see what a useful weapon it has become? As long as they keep saying no, the international money keeps rolling in and they get to enjoy op-eds of Jews bashing the Jewish state based on “Jewish values.” And they’ve learned through the years that as long as they refuse to end the conflict, the global anti-Israel movement will march on.

Israel has made its share of mistakes, but in the old days, before peace became a pipe dream, it was the Jewish state that stuck its neck out and made significant compromises to try to resolve the conflict. Palestinian leaders, who may have panicked when Israel called their bluff, couldn’t even bring themselves to make a counter offer.

Dear Ben and Jerry: If you’re going to cover yourself in Jewish values, go all the way. Delving into complexity in the search for truth is one of the great Jewish values. By neglecting that complexity and taking the easy way out, you have reinforced the narrative of antisemites who malign Israel as a peace-hating, oppressive country, and elevate corrupt, terror-promoting Palestinian leaders as helpless victims.

That’s not Jewish or peace-loving, it’s just ignorant.
Eugene Kontorovich: What the Ben & Jerry's Boycott is Really About: Fox Business appearance
In an interview with Stuart Varney, I explain that Ben & Jerry's and Unilever are not boycotting Israeli settlements - they are boycotting Israel.

Responding to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
What is clear is that the company is planning to cut ties with its factory and licensee in southern Israel, located between Tel Aviv and Gaza. According to Avi Zinger, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, this is because he rejected a demand to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem — an area which includes the Jewish people’s holiest sites, like the Western Wall.

In essence, Ben & Jerry’s is saying that any company based in Israel should be shut down if it also sells to people in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Because the economies of Israel and the West Bank are deeply intertwined, this approach would target countless Israeli and international businesses, amounting to a near total boycott aimed at crippling the Jewish state. It’s also potentially illegal for any Israeli company to work with Ben & Jerry’s under these conditions. In practice, going through with this decision is very likely to result in Ben & Jerry’s boycotting all of Israel.

As a result, 160 Israeli workers of all backgrounds, including Jews and Arabs, may lose their jobs in 2022 or before. Palestinians working at an Israeli distribution company in the West Bank may lose their jobs as well. Cohen and Greenfield ignore the harm that Ben & Jerry’s is causing to these workers and their families, as well as the broader context mentioned above.

Their op-ed also promotes a major factual inaccuracy, stating that, “Israeli policy … perpetuates an illegal occupation.” While reasonable people in Israel and around the world can and do criticize Israel’s policies in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, its control over these territories is absolutely not “illegal.”
Without an Aggressive Response, Ben & Jerry’s Decision Is a Harbinger of Further Divestment From Israel
There has been a debate over the past week among American Jewish progressive leaders on whether the Jewish community should be so vocal on Ben & Jerry’s. Some have suggested that when the Jewish community exerts power, it only creates more antisemitism — or that Ben & Jerry’s capitulation is an acceptable version of BDS since Unilever added a sentence to the Ben & Jerry’s board announcement stating that the company would like to stay in Israel but not the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

But the time to get loud on Ben & Jerry’s is now. There should be no hesitation, no fear about antisemitism — which will exist regardless of whether the Jewish community exerts influence or sits quietly. There should be no slicing and dicing of BDS by Jewish organizations focused on battling with Israel over the settlements; the goal of BDS is to rid the world of Israel, and the settlements are just a stepping stone. There will be time for difficult conversations about the conflict, but now is the time to respond to the prolonged campaign of economic warfare aimed at Israel.

The Jewish community needs to realize the power and scope of the corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investing movements, and the uncomfortable fact that the BDS campaign’s narrative on Israel has thoroughly infiltrated these influential arenas.

As a result, companies are under enormous sustained pressure to avoid or divest from Israel.

Launching a counter controversy assault on Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever may or may not make the company back away from supporting BDS, but more importantly, it will signal to the CEOs of the 124 global (non-Israeli) companies actively being pressured by BDS that the controversy doesn’t go away once the company acquiesces to BDS — it only gets worse.

Illinois, Arizona, Take Steps to Reverse Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott
The Illinois Investment Policy Board, which is tasked with “ensuring the investment of public money does not occur in entities that are prohibited from investment by Illinois law,” is planning to set a 90-day deadline for Unilever, owner of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to reverse its decision to boycott Israeli communities, Andy Lappin, the board’s chairman, told the Associated Press on Thursday.

“We’ll meet in the next week or so just for this issue, asking the board to send a letter to Unilever giving it 90 days to confirm or deny” the decision to boycott Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“In this case, it was a blatantly open statement made by the chairman of Ben & Jerry’s and we need to determine if Unilever deems it appropriate to walk the statement back,” Lappin said.

The board’s schedule notes that the Illinois Investment Policy Board committee on Israel boycott restrictions will meet at 11:40 AM, Wed, September 9, 2021.

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tweeted that Ben & Jerry’s decision to join the BDS movement “is discrimination,” adding, “Arizona stands with Israel,” and “will not do business with a company that boycotts Israel — in 2016 and 2019 I signed bills to make sure of it.”
Top German Foundation Dedicated to Fighting Neo-Nazis Condemns Ben & Jerry’s ‘Antisemitic’ West Bank Boycott
A leading liberal German foundation dedicated to fighting far-right agitation against immigrants has forcefully condemned ice cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry’s for their “antisemitic” boycott of Israeli communities in the West Bank.

In an open letter to the company’s board published on Wednesday, the Amadeu Antonio Stiftung decried the move. “We cannot comprehend the decision to boycott Israel in this way,” the letter stated. “We are especially disappointed that the company is following the line of the antisemitic BDS boycott movement.”

Established in 1998, the foundation is named in honor of Amadeu Antonio Kiowa, an Angolan contract worker who was brutally beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs in the town of Eberswalde in November 1990. Two Mozambicans who were with Kiowa that night were stabbed multiple times, but survived with serious injuries. Kiowa, however, was left in a coma. He passed away 11 days later.

The foundation’s letter to Ben & Jerry’s argued that the boycott would do little to advance the rights of Palestinians.

“A boycott … neither advances the peace process, nor does it make life easier for Palestinians. On the contrary, it deepens tensions and aggression and further hardens the fronts,” it argued. “The boycott of your products — in the West Bank, of all places — shows how little thought is really given to the Arab population. Palestinians, of all people, can no longer buy your ice cream. What’s the point? What use is that to them? What do you wish to achieve with this?”

The foundation also expressed dismay that the decision in favor of a boycott was taken amid a climate of rising antisemitism globally.
Delta passengers outraged at airline’s serving Ben & Jerry’s on flight to Israel
Bitter scoop: Passengers on a Delta flight from New York to Tel Aviv on Wednesday were displeased when they discovered that the in-flight service included a less-than-sweet treat—Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.

Many of the passengers on the flight handed the dessert back to the flight attendants, who said that they had warned the airline that it was an “inappropriate” choice, given the company’s recent decision to stop selling its products beyond the Green Line.

The decision caused an international controversy and much concern in Israel, where it was seen as a capitulation to the BDS movement.

One of the passengers was former Likud Knesset member Anat Berko, who was traveling with a relative. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

“After the ice cream was served, a lot of people protested the serving of a food product whose producer boycotts Judea and Samaria. I protested, as well, and gave my ice-cream back,” said Berko.

The former MK said that a few upset passengers declared that they would write to Delta to protest its decision to serve Ben & Jerry’s.

Remembering Leo Frank: Antisemitism Then and Now
August 17th marks the 106th anniversary of the lynching of Leo Frank, an Atlanta Jewish businessman who was falsely accused of murder and then kidnapped and executed by an antisemitic mob.

As the commemoration approaches, one cannot refrain from reflecting on the current wave of antisemitism in the United States. Although much has changed over the past 100 years, Jew-hatred remains an unfortunate facet of American life.

However, when comparing the history of American antisemitism to its manifestations today, a glaring divergence becomes apparent in the responses to it.

In the past, those who fought antisemitism appealed to classic American principles — liberty, tolerance, constitutionalism, and individualism.

The country is different now. Many hold classic American principles in disrepute. American liberty, equality, tolerance are claimed to be racist lies. The Constitution? A veritable slave manual.

While the Jewish people once occupied a position of authority and high ground in our battle against hate, American Jews have now, sadly, often been reduced to pleading with progressives for tolerance. For example, many have tried to tie antisemitism with racism — but many progressives, and many in the Black Lives Matter movement, won’t allow that fusion. After all, American Jews are majority white-skinned and are linked to the “colonial, oppressor” State of Israel.

But consider the historical, non-progressive alternative to fighting antisemitism with strength and pride.
Greens leader Adam Bandt distances party from Burnside
Greens leader Adam Bandt has moved to distance his party from a comment by former high-profile candidate Julian Burnside likening Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany, which drew a fierce backlash from the Jewish community.

Several leading Jewish figures accused the prominent Melbourne barrister of anti-Semitism and breaking his promise to Holocaust survivors after he tweeted on Wednesday night that Israel’s “treatment of the Palestinians looks horribly like the German treatment of the Jews” during World War II.

The post was in reference to a Human Rights Watch report into violations of international law during 11 days of fighting in May between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.

The outspoken advocate for asylum seekers faced a similar backlash in 2018 after posting an image showing now-Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s face superimposed on a Nazi officer in a uniform that ­included the “death’s head” emblem used by the SS unit responsible for concentration camps.

Mr Burnside said at the time it was not a reference to the Holocaust but accepted an invitation from the Anti-Defamation Commission to meet with survivors as a “common courtesy”.

Responding to calls from Jewish leaders to condemn Mr Burnside’s comment, Mr Bandt said the Holocaust was “one of the darkest moments in human history” and was “without modern comparison”.

“It has left an enduring and painful scar on the Jewish people, the impacts of which are still being felt today. The Australian Greens abhor racism in all its forms and are particularly concerned by the resurgence of anti-Semitism seen across the world,” Mr Bandt said.

BDS Rages as the Summer Sizzles On
As the fall semester approaches, signs point to an even more heightened campus environment of harassment and intimidation aimed against Israel and its supporters. Control of narratives remains key to shaping perceptions.

The most blatant manipulations came from outside academia, with continued condemnations of Israel from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who added that her Jewish colleagues in Congress were “not equally engaged in seeking justice.” Her comments produced a firestorm of responses that, among other things, pointed to the long history of Jewish advocacy of civil and human rights causes in the US and worldwide.

The idea that Israel, its supporters, and at least some Jews stand on the ‘wrong side’ was articulated in more than 100 statements condemning Israel from faculty groups and departments. One implication of growing faculty and student extremism is that it effectively gives antisemitism an “academic mandate.” And many defend their anti-Israel attacks in the name of ‘academic freedom.’

A typical example came at Vassar College, where faculty members issued a letter accusing Israel of “settler colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing” and declaring that they regard the “movement against racism, police brutality, and mass incarceration in the United States and the Palestinian struggle against apartheid as interconnected.”

In response, the university president pointed to the school’s code of conduct and noted that the “College “welcomes forms of dissent and protest that acknowledge and encourage the expression of different perspectives. It is with this in mind that we will continue to support free speech on our campus. The moment such speech provokes lawlessness or violence, however, it becomes unacceptable.”

But institutional efforts at maintaining nominal civility at the expense of academic integrity and Jewish students are increasingly insufficient for BDS supporters. The manner in which aggressors indignantly characterize criticism, pushback, or anything short of capitulation is a longstanding BDS ploy that has escalated dramatically.
‘People Use Israel to Attack Jews,’ Says Toronto Man Who Survived ‘Free Palestine’ Antisemitic Assault
A Jewish man in Toronto has given a moving account of his experience of an antisemitic attack on Wednesday, during which the assailant yelled the anti-Zionist slogan, “Free Palestine.”

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Toronto resident Sam Brody explained that he had been walking his dog in the Eglington neighborhood of the city at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Brody, who wears a kippah, said that the male assailant pushed him into a wooden fence, knocking him onto the ground.

The assailant then told Brody: “F*** you, you Jews, you’ll never take Israel — free Palestine!”

In his video recounting the ordeal, Brody said that he was sharing his experience to inform “those who are not aware that antisemitism is a very real and growing problem in our country and around the world.”

Brody added that, “unfortunately, people use Israel as a platform to attack Jews. Being anti-Israel is the politically correct way of being an antisemite today.”

He said that while he understood why “people want to separate the issues, but the practicality on the ground is that they cannot be separated, and in almost every case of antisemitism, anti-Israel sentiment is also expressed.”
CUNY Professor Claims Muslims Will ‘Erase This Filth Called Israel’ in Anti-Semitic Sermon
An imam who serves as an adjunct professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) said in a sermon that Muslims will "erase this filth called Israel" after accusing Jews of creating a "colonial" settlement.

Mohammad Abbasi, who teaches at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, delivered the remarks in a June 25 sermon at the Islamic Center of Union City, N.J.

"So they won this time, they established their colonial project called Israel," Abbasi said. "So here is the conclusion. I don't want to leave you depressed. I want to give you the good news now. With the help of Allah they will erase this filth called Israel."

Anti-Semitism has increasingly become a problem for the CUNY system. More than 100 professors resigned from CUNY's Professional Staff Congress, the university's branch of the American Federation of Teachers, after the union passed a resolution that referred to Israel as an "apartheid" state, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The union also backed the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and said it condemns the "massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli state."

Several Jewish professors who left the union told the Free Beacon they've been attacked and targeted for their faith while at CUNY. University administrators have failed to respond to any of the incidents, the professors said, disregarding a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report from February confirming that the university has created a hostile environment for Jews.

It's not surprising that CUNY hired Abbasi, Kingsborough Community College adjunct business professor Michael Goldstein told the Free Beacon.

"Why should we not at all be surprised that CUNY would be employing a vile, Jew-hating antisemite like this individual?" Goldstein asked. He said former CUNY chancellor Joseph Murphy, whose mother was Jewish, "has to be rolling over in his grave."

Rutgers Student Groups Call for Defunding of Hillel and other “Zionist Organizations”
A survey of Jewish history teaches us that antisemitism is an ever-evolving prejudice. The Christ-killer myth, the blood libel myth, and the racial inferiority myth are just a few of the ways in which Jews have been targeted. In a post-Holocaust world, it is undeniable that antisemitism knows no bounds but rather molds itself to fit the popular narrative. The recent antisemitic and anti-Zionist iterations by both administration and student organizations at Rutgers University are proof of this growing movement.

If you step inside the expansive Hillel house at Rutgers University-New Brunswick or find yourself in conversation with a student or rabbi, you’ll often hear one phrase, repeated with varying levels of irony: “Rutgers is a great place to be Jewish.” The largest public college in New Jersey, Rutgers prides itself on its ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic diversity, as well as a Jewish undergraduate population of 6,400 students (17.7% of its student body). With a Chabad-Lubavitch center bookending the other end of its College Avenue campus and rabbis from every major sect of Judaism on-staff, the school appears to be a haven for Jewish students in the region. But not everyone at Rutgers agrees that Jewish organizations have a place there.

Like many of the anti-Zionist incidents reported in recent months, the most recent attacks on Rutgers’ Jewish community have involved social media. On 26 May 2021, during the height of military clashes between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas, Rutgers University chancellors Christopher J. Molloy and Francine Conway emailed a statement to students entitled “Speaking Out Against Antisemitism.” Both expressed sadness and outrage over “recent incidents of hate directed toward Jewish members of [Rutgers’] community.” While the statement did not name specific dates or attacks, this wording alluded, in part, to the egging of a Jewish fraternity on Holocaust Remembrance Day, during the reading of victims’ names. After linking antisemitism to the uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans, Muslims, and Indigenous people, the chancellors mentioned “the deaths of children and adults and mass displacement of citizens in the Gaza region and the loss of lives in Israel.” The statement ended with unequivocal support for the Jewish community and an overall rejection of intolerance.

The outrage that followed made international news. Rutgers issued two following emails in the two succeeding days. The second email, once again written by the chancellors, appeared to be an apology for condemning antisemitism without mentioning the Palestinian plight in Sheikh Jarrah, but Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway quickly remedied the issue in his own letter, a reaffirmation of standing against antisemitism and all bigotry.
Guardian op-ed by Mohammed el-Kurd on Sheikh Jarrah Nearly fact-free.
Though Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah ‘activist’ Mohammed el-Kurd claims he has no problem with Jews, as we’ve previously demonsrated, the record shows he’s a racist ideologue in every sense of the term.

During an interview with MSNBC that he retweeted, he argued that all Israelis are the same, ‘they’re all terrorists’. He’s written that Jews who live across the Green Line are “psychotic” and “rabid dogs”. He’s also peddled the historically lethal lie that Jews are threatening to destroy al-Aqsa, and even claimed there’s no archaeological evidence that the 1st and 2nd Temples existed.

On Twitter, he said it’s “psychotic” to ask Palestinians to refrain from violence, praised a PFLP terrorist, compared Israeli actions to that of the Nazis, characterised Zionism as inherently genocidal and retweeted (and praised as ‘eloquent’) a video of the late Kwame Ture accusing Zionism of being a “Satanic movement”.

He also asked God to rid the world of Zionists.

So, naturally, Guardian editors decided he should be given the opportunity to disseminate his propaganda to their readers, in the form of an op-ed (“Here in Jerusalem, we Palestinians are still fighting for our homes”, July 28th).
No surprises BBC promotes HRW’s latest anti-Israel screed
On the evening of July 27th the BBC News website published a report headlined “Israel-Gaza conflict: Apparent war crimes committed, says rights group” on its ‘Middle East’ page.

The “rights group” already signposted in that headline and later described as a “campaign group” is one of the political NGOs most quoted and promoted in BBC content: ‘Human Rights Watch’ (HRW) but as is inevitably the case, no effort is made in this BBC report to inform readers of that organisation’s long record of anti-Israel campaigning by means of frequent ‘reports’, ‘lawfare’ activity and support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

There is of course nothing remotely surprising about the BBC’s editorial decision to uncritically promote (including a link) HRW’s latest anti-Israel screed seeing as the corporation has in the past diligently amplified the NGO’s similar reports on previous conflicts in 2006, 2008/9, 2012 and 2014. The BBC has also self-conscripted to promotion of HRW reports on topics such as African migrants, Thai workers, business activity and ‘apartheid’ and has provided worldwide amplification to HRW anti-Israel campaigns concerning for example football, holiday rentals and Covid vaccinations.

Comment from HRW employees is frequently promoted in BBC reporting on a variety of sometimes unrelated topics and in 2014 the corporation provided promotion for a film about the organisation. Particularly noteworthy was the BBC’s extensive coverage of the non-renewal of the Israeli work visa of HRW employee Omar Shakir in 2018/19.

This latest BBC article – tagged inter alia ‘human rights’ – uncritically promotes HRW’s talking points and buzz words.

“Israeli forces and Palestinian militant groups carried out attacks during May’s Gaza conflict that apparently amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch says.

An investigation by the campaign group into what it says were three Israeli strikes that killed 62 civilians found no evidence of military targets nearby.”

No information is provided to readers concerning HRW’s methodology which – as has been the case in the past – relies on local sources.
BBC News avoids another Gaza Strip human shields story
On the morning of July 22nd an explosion occurred in al Zawiya market in Gaza City. One person was killed and between ten and fourteen people – including six children – were injured by the blast.

Later in the day it emerged that the site of the explosion was a weapons storage facility belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, which issued a related statement. The Jerusalem Post reported that:

“The PIJ seemed to take some form of responsibility on Thursday evening, announcing that it would “rise up to its responsibilities” and follow up with all concerned parties concerning the explosion in the market. The terrorist movement expressed its “full solidarity” with those affected by the explosion.

The injured were transferred to Shifa Hospital in the coastal enclave. The Palestinian killed in the incident was identified by Palestinian media as Atta Saqallah.”

BBC audiences saw no coverage whatsoever of that story on any platform and regionally based staff including the Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman, BBC Arabic’s Michael Shuval and Rushdi Abu Alouf in Gaza City made no mention of the incident on their Twitter accounts.
Bungling Arizona’s Holocaust Education Bill
The multi-year effort to pass a Holocaust Education bill in Arizona bore fruit on July 9, when Governor Ducey announced he signed HB2241. Before arriving on the Governor’s desk, the bill was subject to a “strike everything” amendment by Senator Paul Boyer. A “strike everything” amendment is a versatile legislative instrument, often used to bypass certain procedural deadlines to fast track revisions or whole new bills on a shortened timeline. Boyer’s “striker” bill copied the text of the original Holocaust bill, with one additional page: an added provision that Holocaust Education must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The original bill did not include the IHRA definition.

Per Arizona procedure, Boyer’s amendment would have to pass the Senate, then required approval from the sponsors of the original Holocaust Education bill to proceed to a final vote in in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Just a year earlier, in 2020, a bill containing the IHRA definition passed the House, breezing through with bipartisan support to a final vote of 52-8.

After that vote, the 2020 bill was sent to the Senate, but not without controversy. Antizionist activists, in league with the ACLU, targeted the Senate with a campaign against the IHRA, recycling the false yet pervasive claim that defining antisemitism is tantamount to a state-sponsored crackdown on free speech. The ACLU letter was signed by characters like Amer Zahr and Marc Lamont Hill, among others.

The 2020 campaign against the IHRA caused enough stir for Democratic Representative Alma Hernandez and Republican Senate President Karen Fann to respond with a letter to colleagues, addressing misinformation spreading on social media, with straightforward clarifications about the IHRA definition.
A Multi-City Ad Campaign Hopes to Fight Antisemitism With Eye-Catching Messages. Who Is JewBelong For?
Dozens of hot-pink billboards and transit ads have appeared in major American cities over the last month, referencing the Holocaust and antisemitism.

“We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn’t an overreaction,” reads one. “Being woke and antisemitic is like being a vegan who eats veal,” reads another.

The ads are the brainchild of JewBelong, a New Jersey-based nonprofit whose stated mission is to “rebrand Judaism” with a hip, made-for-social-media bent. But now JewBelong is going through a rebrand of its own. Founded in 2017 primarily as a vehicle for increasing Jewish pride among what it deems “disengaged Jews,” the organization has recently shifted its operations to focus specifically on combating antisemitism.

The $450,000 campaign — which is being branded as “JewBelong or JewBeGone” — first made waves with a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square last month. Now, in addition to New York, it’s focusing on San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Miami, and the group has plans to expand into other markets before the campaign ends in August.

JewBelong founders Stacy Stuart and Archie Gottesman are longtime marketers who made their names with irreverent and often left-leaning advertisements for Manhattan Mini Storage, a company owned by Gottesman’s family. They started out focusing on low-barrier Judaism, like a Zoom Passover seder and online explainers on marriage and baby names.

But Gottesman told the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent that the pair felt it was inappropriate to continue JewBelong’s business as usual — providing rituals, Shabbat songs and recipes — during a time “when people are hating you.”
Oklahoma Republican Party compares vaccine mandates to holocaust
The Oklahoma Republican Party posted Friday asking Oklahomans to call for a special legislative session to address vaccine mandates comparing them to the gold stars Jews wore before being taken to concentration camps.

Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell is the acting governor while Governor Kevin Stitt is out of the country.

They're asking that Pinnell call for a special legislative session to address private employer vaccine mandates.

Currently, state employees are protected by legislative action from earlier this year.

The photo attached to their post is a gold star with 'unvaccinated' on it along with a date, ID number, and microchip.
VA House candidate: Being a conservative teacher is like being a Jew among Nazis
A history teacher running for the Virginia House of Delegates said that being a conservative teacher in US state today is akin to being Jewish in Germany during the 1930s.

“To come out and say that you’re a teacher on the right is almost as dangerous as saying, as almost saying, going through Germany in the 1930s and saying ‘I’m Jewish.’ It’s gotten that bad,” Julie Perry said Wednesday in an online event entitled “Educators for Youngkin Coalition.” Glenn Youngkin is the Republican nominee for governor.

“Think about what’s happened with Tanner Cross,” Perry said. Tanner Cross is a Loudon County teacher the school system suspended for saying in a public forum that he would address transgender students by their birth gender pronouns. A court issued an injunction against the suspension and Cross is suing the school system.

A number of Republicans over the last year, including the prominent Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, have likened coronavirus restrictions and safety measures to the Nazi treatment of Jews, drawing rebukes from Jewish groups who say it cheapens the horrors inflicted on Jews at that time. Jews targeted by Nazis in the 1930s — the period leading up to the Holocaust which historians generally say started in 1941 — were stripped of their property and livelihoods, beaten, deported and frequently murdered.

The Democratic Party of Virginia condemned Perry’s statement and called on Youngkin to denounce Perry.

Group to Turn Thousands of Jewish Headstones Found in Belarus Into Memorial
A charity organization is working to create a memorial with Jewish gravestones that have been discovered around Belarus, Israel Newsstand reported.

Jewish headstones from the former Brest-Litovsk Jewish cemetery, which is today a sports field, began resurfacing at an old prisoner of war camp from World War II and in construction sites across Belarus eight years ago.

Using the recovered headstones, “The Together Plan” is now working to build a memorial for the Jewish cemetery, where people can learn about its history. The project will be completed in the next three years.

“This is only one part of the story,” said Debra Brunner, the organization’s co-founder and CEO. “This memorial will honor a community that had lived and died, and who never saw the atrocities that took place in 1941-44.”

Brunner estimates that around 1,000 Jewish gravestones have been recovered, some of which date up to 1940. She believes others that haven’t been cataloged yet will date back to the 1850s.

“Some are broken, and from what we can see, we would say that possibly around a third are, more or less, intact,” she said. “We have just started to photograph every piece; this will take about a month. Then we will read and translate them and catalog them.”
Fitch reaffirms Israel’s A+ rating, citing strong finances, pandemic rebound
Fitch Ratings on Thursday reaffirmed Israel’s A+ rating with a stable outlook, citing its “strong external finances and solid institutional strength.”

The credit ratings agency also noted Israel’s relatively high government debt to GDP ratio and security risks.

Israel’s economy contracted by 2.6 percent last year due to the pandemic, but is expected to grow by 5.1% this year and 5.7% in 2022. The economy stood up to pandemic shock relatively well due to Israel’s high-tech industries and successful vaccination campaign, the report said.

The agency predicted Israel’s budget deficit will decline from 11.6% of GDP in 2020 to 7% in 2021, as the economy rebounds from the worst of the pandemic, government support measures recede and the high-tech sector continues its strong performance.

Fitch said it expects the government to pass a budget, its first after over two years of political stalemate, which will further stabilize debt levels. It forecast a budget deficit of around 3% in 2023, after all pandemic support measures end.

The report noted fiscal risks including the government coalition’s razor-thin majority in the Knesset, its diverse membership, and security risks, including instability in Syria, tensions with Iran and potential violence with the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.
Intel Israel appoints Arab vice president for the first time
Intel Israel has appointed an Arab Israeli as a vice president for the first time.

Reda Masarwa, from the city of Taybeh in central Israel, received the promotion after 24 years at the company, Intel announced on Wednesday.

Masarwa started work at Intel after completing studies at Ben-Gurion University. In recent years, he has managed the construction of Intel chip plants, heading a team of 150 Intel engineers and supervising over 2,000 engineers from outside the company.

He is married with four children, and has been living in the United States with his family for the past three years, the company said. In total, he has relocated to different areas for Intel for over 10 years during his career, the company said.

His position has been especially challenging during the pandemic, as he was not able to freely travel to visit global Intel sites.

“This year has proved to me more than anything the importance of building a winning team,” he said in a statement. “A team that I can trust and that is made up of the best professional people in their fields in each country and continent. It gave me the confidence that even in the most turbulent times, I can be assured that we’re moving forward.”

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List party and one of Israel’s leading Arab politicians, congratulated Masarwa on the promotion.
Taiwan to Open Extensive Jewish Community Center, Kosher Restaurant
Taiwan’s Jewish community announced the expected December opening of an extensive center to serve tourists and locals alike.

The Jeffrey D. Schwartz Jewish Community Center will house a synagogue that can hold more than 100 people, a banquet hall for 300 people and Taiwan’s first kosher restaurant, i24News reported on Wednesday.

The $16 million complex will also include a mikvah (Jewish ritual bath), library, kindergarten, classrooms for adult-education programs, rooms for group and individual study, and a courtyard for outdoor events. Almost 500 objects of Judaic art from a private collection will also be on permanent display at the Jewish center.

Community spokesperson Glenn Leibowitz, who has lived in Taiwan for 30 years, said approximately 700 to 800 Jews live on the island.

Construction of the facility started in 2020.

Taiwan’s Jewish community has until now operated mainly from a Chabad House and small office in downtown Taipei. Rabbi Shlomi and Racheli Tabib arrived in 2011 to open Chabad Tapei, holding services, holiday and educational programs, and offering Jewish amenities, including kosher meals.
Portuguese Town to Sponsor Country-Wide Initiative Marking Routes Taken by Jews Fleeing 15th Century Persecution
A town in Portugal will be the sponsor of a new initiative to mark the routes taken by 15th century Spanish and Portuguese Jews after they were expelled from those kingdoms.

Thousands of Jews were forced to choose between conversion to Christianity and expulsion in Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1496, respectively.

Those who chose exile spread out across the entirety of Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and eventually the Americas.

The new project is called “El Kamino De Sefarad al Muevo Mundo” (The Sefarad Route to the New World), and will encompass thousands of kilometers throughout Spain and Portugal.

It is sponsored by the municipality of Castelo de Vide on the initiative of Mayor Antonio Pita, who is also vice president of the Jewish Cities Network in Portugal, and Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem.

Castelo de Vide itself has preserved much what remains of its Jewish community’s history, including a synagogue and Jewish quarter, and will soon open a museum dedicated to the Inquisition and its persecution of Jews.
Prince Charles Pens Foreword for Upcoming Memoir by Holocaust Survivor, TikTok Star
The Prince of Wales has written the foreword for a new memoir co-authored by a Holocaust survivor turned TikTok star and her great-grandson that is slated to be released in September.

Dov Forman, 17, said on Wednesday that he and his great-grandmother Lily Ebert, 97, are “honored, humbled and exceptionally grateful to His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles for his moving tribute and foreword” to “Lily’s Promise: How I Survived Auschwitz and Found the Strength to Live.”

Ebert — a native of Bonyhád, Hungary, who now lives in London — became a TikTok sensation when she started an account earlier this year to answer questions about the Holocaust, in an effort to educate people about the atrocities of World War II. Her account, which Forman helps run, has already amassed 1.2 million followers on the video-sharing app.

In “Lily’s Promise,” the duo writes about Ebert’s childhood in Hungary, the death of her mother and two youngest siblings upon their arrival at the Auschwitz camp in 1944, and her dedication to keeping her two other sisters alive. She and her sisters were forced to work in a munitions factory and to partake in a death match that they barely survived.

In the book, Ebert also describes daily life in the camp and “the small acts of defiance that gave her strength,” according to the memoir’s publisher, Pan Macmillan.

“Lily had promised herself that if she survived Auschwitz she would tell everyone the truth about the camp. Now was her chance,” said the publisher. “Lily lost so much, but she built a new life for herself and her family, first in Israel and then in London. It wasn’t easy; the pain of her past was always with her, but this extraordinary woman found the strength to speak out in the hope that such evil would never happen again.”
Unstoppable: The story of Siggi Wilzig: A Must Read book
Just finished reading “Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend - Hardcover”, an amazing must-read book. Its captivating throughout, reading like a movie.

It is the story of Siggi Wilzig, a Holocaust survivor who lived through concentration camps Auschwitz and Mauthausen, and who went on to build a business empire in the oil and banking world in America – after arriving in this country with $240 in his pocket. While the book starts with dark tales of the Holocaust, told in a manner where the reader truly feels they are there, “Unstoppable” is really about so many things besides the Holocaust.

This is a great book about taking chances, about never losing your sense of humor, about doing the right thing, about succeeding in spite of all odds. In an era where so many people today look for shortcuts, we learned that Wilzig cleaned toilets, was a door to door salesman, shoveled snow and so many other things before eventually taking over a bank and running it in a very successful manner. This book shared so many inspirational and relevant tales for all people today interested in learning, interested in growth.

He created a bank which he called “The Bank with Heart”, where he had personal relationships with all of his major customers. His life was always related back to the atrocity of the camps – he felt taking personal care of others and doing the right thing justified having survived the camps. It gave his life purpose and meaning. So many executives today could learn these lessons – of a man who gave charity, of an executive who was honest, decent, charitable and hard-working.

At a Israel Bonds dinner he was honored at in 1975 he said, ‘I am still in Auschwitz every day. I never gave up my belief in the Almighty. He may have created rats and snakes and Nazis, but he also created beautiful birds and butterflies – and for Jews the greatest miracle of all: Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people.”
Amos Levitov, legendary air force pilot captured by Egypt, dies at 73
Amos Levitov, an Israeli Air Force (IAF) veteran who was captured and tortured by Egypt for three years, died in the early hours of Friday morning following a prolonged battle with cancer.

Levitov previously beat cancer six times before succumbing to the disease on Friday morning.

73-year-old Levitov, considered a legendary pilot in the 69 "Hammers" squadron, was captured by the Egyptian military during the War of Attrition on July 5, 1970 with nine other Israeli POWs after his aircraft was shot down.

Following three years of physical torture, he was released in 1973 as part of a prisoner exchange deal in the ceasefire talks between Israel and Egypt following the Yom Kippur War.

After his return from captivity, he resumed his IDF service and fought in the First Lebanon War in 1982.

"It's a story people can connect to," Levitov once said to N12. "After I returned from captivity in Egypt, I resumed my service because I still wanted to pilot aircrafts. My story touched the hearts of many."
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