Wednesday, September 15, 2021

From Ian:

The Advocate
On any given day, you can find the State of Israel coming in for some rough treatment in the media.

Detractors accuse it of being either an apartheid state, an occupying colonialist power, or both. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has gone so far as to initiate a probe into what it says are possible war crimes stemming from IDF actions in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.

For Professor Eugene Kontorovich, whenever the Jewish state’s legal standing or international legitimacy as a sovereign nation is impugned, it is grist for his legal mill and fodder for his laser-focused analysis. His forceful and well-reasoned arguments often appear in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. Fox News and other channels frequently tap his expertise in international and constitutional law.

Professor Kontorovich wears many professional hats. He heads the international law department at Jerusalem’s Kohelet Forum, a think tank that many Knesset members draw on for policy ideas. Eugene spends one semester a year in Arlington, Virginia, teaching at the George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, where he established the Center for the Middle East and International Law to train young scholars to take a deeper dive into the intricacies of the Middle East.

Kontorovich is highly regarded in the halls of Congress. He has testified frequently on issues of foreign affairs and national security, defending Israel’s claims of sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and shielding Israel from the economic warfare movement known as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). Pundits have dubbed Kontorovich the “intellectual architect” of anti-BDS laws passed in some 32 states.

Eugene is also no stranger to Mishpacha readers. He’s been one of my go-to sources since I first interviewed him in 2015, after the Palestinian Authority applied for membership in the International Criminal Court. I have described Eugene to my colleagues as a younger version of Alan Dershowitz, based on his media savvy and gift for formulating legally sound and persuasive approaches. For a journalist, one of Eugene’s endearing qualities is his knack for delivering a colorful “pull quote” — a one-line zinger that drives his point across without sounding hackneyed.

In this, our longest and most comprehensive interview to date, we sit across from each other over a desk at the Kohelet Forum on a steamy-hot Jerusalem afternoon. Eugene looks cool, calm, and collected, as usual. This day, he has ceded his own larger office to colleagues who need extra space for a meeting, to abide by Covid distancing requirements. So we are sitting in a smaller office, on the south side of the building, far from the panoramic view of northern Jerusalem that Kohelet’s office affords.

Eugene elaborates on how he found the niche that he fills so fervently.
Yom Kippur: The Zionist Holiday You Never Knew
We begin Yom Kippur with Kol Nidrei, and due to its inspiring melody and dignity with which the physical setting is conducted in, complete with Torahs and talesim at night (the one time a year), we instinctively know something that transcends the ordinary is going on.

After the Maariv shemoneh esrei there is a unique Selichot service — this being the only instance of the entire year when there is a lengthy additional section of prayers after shemoneh esrei. Here we request of God that He “bring us to Your Holy Mountain.” The next day at Yizkor, an emotional highlight of the day for many, we speak of God “dwelling in Zion” — that is on the Temple Mount, in the Beit HaMikdash. The Mussaf shemoneh esrei is the longest prayer service of the year. And the larger part of that is the Chazzan’s repetition. Within this section more time is devoted to a highly detailed and vivid description of the High Priest’s sacrificial service in the Holy Temple’s Holy of Holies — the only time of the year any human stepped foot inside. Included in this section is the lament that “Since our Temple was destroyed” we have no choice to recite words in place of the High Priest’s offering sacrifices, and we explain how we are like “orphans” without the Temple and we beg God to “bring the Temple back among us.”

During the afternoon Mincha service, the entire Book of Jonah is recited — the only time of the year that it is. And in the universally recognized episode of the whale (or more correctly, the large fish) Jonah cries to God — his “prayer came to You, to Your Holy Temple.”

And Neilah is the only day of the entire year when we add a fifth shemoneh esrei. At the conclusion of this one-time-a-year event, we mark the end of the Yom Kippur by saying: Next Year in Jerusalem! In reality, this means “Next Year on the Temple Mount in the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple,” where the Yom Kippur offerings will be made in Messianic times.

This focus on Jerusalem, on the Holy Temple, and on the Holy of Holies, is the essence of Yom Kippur. It is what our ancestors dreamed, and prayed for during the nearly 2,000 year nightmare of exile. This Dream of Zion is the engine that created the available momentum that was harnessed by the modern Zionism of Herzl’s time, and used to create the modern State of Israel.

PodCast: Frozen Jews — Adventures with Dead Jews
In this episode, Dara Horn explores the bizarre afterlife of a chance encounter that later caused an entire empire to lose its mind. In 1904, the American Jewish financier Jacob Schiff randomly met a Japanese banker at a dinner in London and decided to give Japan a $200 million loan to help ensure its victory in the Russo-Japanese War.

A generation later, when Japanese military officers were first exposed to an antisemitic conspiracy theory, they assumed, based on their country’s experience with Schiff, that it must be true—and convinced their government to take action. In twist upon twist, the Empire of Japan became more and more involved in “the Jewish Question,” to the point where they actually tried to answer it. Their answer? To build a Jewish state in Manchuria.

New Jersey moves to divest from Ben & Jerry's over anti-Israel boycott
The State of New Jersey has warned Unilever that it will divest from the company within 90 days unless it can prove that the decision taken by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's to cut ties with Israel does not constitute a boycott.

The state’s Treasury Department told Unilever it had determined that "the company boycotts the goods, products or businesses of Israel, boycotts those doing business with Israel, or boycotts companies operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories."

In a letter to the British-based company dated September 2, it explained that the company had 90 days to prove it had not engaged in a boycott that involved Israel or Israeli-controlled territories before any divestment action is taken.

The Treasury Department explained to the British-based Unilever that state law prohibits investment in firms that boycott Israel and mandates a divestment from such firms.

New Jersey is one of seven states that are either in the process of divesting from Unilever or which are contemplating such action. The others are New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

On August 3, Florida similarly issued a 90-day warning to Unilever.

To date, only Arizona has announced a full divestment. As of September 21, it will have withdrawn all of its investments from Unilever, totaling $143 million.
New Jersey Moves to Divest Investments in Unilever after Ben and Jerry's Israel Boycott
New Jersey plans to divest investments in the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s after an internal investigation found the ice cream company sought to boycott Israel, the state Division of Investment said today.

Unilever North America, which is based in Englewood Cliffs, will lose New Jersey as an investor after Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in territories occupied by Israel under the state’s anti-boycott policy.

“No pension fund assets may be invested in the company, and DOI shall take appropriate action to sell or divest any existing pension fund investments,” said the director of the New Jersey Division of Investment, Shoaib Khan.

Khan said that the division worked with ISS, an independent consultant, to review the actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “to determine whether such actions constituted a boycott of Israel or companies operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territory.”

“Following this review, the division reached a preliminarily determination that Unilever’s actions did in fact constitute such a boycott and sent a letter to Unilever notifying the company of its provisional determination,” Khan said.

Uniliver has 90 days to appeal the decision.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., who sponsored the anti-boycott law with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, said the state law works.

“Our anti-BDS law was one of the first in the nation to use the power of state investment decisions to remove support for businesses that boycott Israel,” said Kean. “The announcement by Treasury that state investment will be prohibited in the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s following a review we requested pursuant to the law we enacted is yet another example that the process works as intended.”

Kean said the law was first used in 2019, when Airbnb changed its policy after New Jersey threatened to pull its investments.
New Jersey moves to divest from Unilever

Arabic-language video challenges anti-Israel views
A new Arabic-language video about diversity and coexistence in Israel, produced as part of the American Jewish Committee's "An al-Yahud" (About the Jews) series, went live on Tuesday.

The new animated short, Is Israel Only for Jews?, presents the reality of life in Israel. Although Jews make up a majority of Israel's citizens, approximately one out of every five Israelis is Arab, and all citizens are afforded the same rights and freedoms under the law. The government pays the salaries of imams and funds the construction of mosques in Israel, and Jerusalem is home to churches of almost every Christian denomination in the world. The film highlights the participation of Arab citizens in Israeli government, business, and academia and notes that while Israelis seldom agree on government policies, the right to protest and due process are ensured for all. The film is also being released in English.

"As the Arab world displays greater openness to Israel, it is important that perceptions of the Jewish state reflect its remarkable pluralism and diversity," said AJC CEO David Harris. "Israel is, at once, the homeland of the Jewish people and a thriving democracy that is home to more than 1.8 million Arab citizens, all of whom enjoy equal rights and freedoms.

While Is Israel Only for Jews? does not focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it acknowledges that the conflict "requires meaningful and lasting resolution," while challenging the notion common in the Arab world that Israelis are all Jewish or that Arabs in the Jewish state are oppressed. The film acknowledges inequalities and outstanding social challenges within Israel.

"The barriers to peace between Israel and the Palestinians are political, not religious or ethnic," added Harris. "Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, Bahai, and people of other faiths live, work, and worship freely in the Jewish state, and Arab Israelis are prominent leaders in government, business, national defense, and many other fields. We hope this new film will help promote Arab-Israeli peace by upending stereotypes about Israel and fostering greater understanding of the Jewish state throughout the Arab world."

The "An al-Yahud" series has been viewed by tens of millions of Arabic speakers around the world. The top locations of the videos' viewers include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. The previous five videos focused on the origins and beliefs of the Jewish people, the history of Muslim-Jewish relations, the Holocaust, Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
California approves previously 'anti-Jewish' ethnic studies curriculum
Jewish lawmakers critical of early drafts of an ethnic studies curriculum said they were satisfied with a version of the curriculum that cleared both houses of the California Legislature last week.

The bill mandating ethnic studies would make the state the first in the nation to require the course, which examines race and ethnicity with a focus on people of color.

The liberal California Legislative Jewish Caucus had criticized the original model of the curriculum, introduced in 2019, saying it carried an “anti-Jewish bias.” They and others charged it painted Israel in a negative light, barely mentioned antisemitism and included a rap lyric that they said contained an antisemitic trope.

Assembly member Jose Medina, the author of the bill to mandate ethnic studies and a staunch supporter of the discipline, also signed a letter condemning the draft (Medina is one of a handful of non-Jewish members of the Jewish Caucus). Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the time that the measure as drafted would “never see the light of day,” and the model was revised.

The revised version of the curriculum, which was approved by the state Board of Education in March, includes two lessons on Jews in California — one on American Jewish identity and another on the experience of Mizrahi Jews, or Jews from the Middle East. It also removed the sections deemed anti-Israel and antisemitic.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the Jewish caucus expressed its “sincere hope” that the revised Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum would benefit students across the state, pointing to “guardrail” language that it helped insert into the legislation in order to ease the worries of Jewish groups. That language prohibits discrimination in ethnic studies courses based on religion and nationality — including against Israelis — and prohibits the use of the original draft.
ACLU Becomes Top Legal Defender of Anti-Semitic BDS Campaign
The American Civil Liberties Union has evolved into the most powerful legal advocate for the anti-Semitic Israel boycott movement in the United States, a move critics argue undercuts the organization's reputation as an advocate for minorities and other underrepresented groups.

Now, as it prepares to defend that movement before a panel of federal appellate judges next week in a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas, the ACLU is facing fresh scrutiny from state lawmakers and legal experts who argue that the organization sticks up for all sorts of embattled minorities but is now embracing anti-Semitism.

While the ACLU says its advocacy for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is driven by free speech concerns and it "takes no position" on the merits of Israel boycotts, some anti-BDS lawmakers question that motivation.

"The anti-Semitic BDS Hate Movement has no greater asset today than the sophisticated legal support it receives from the American Civil Liberties Union," said Arizona state senator Paul Boyer (R.), who sponsored anti-boycott legislation that was challenged by the ACLU, in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "The ACLU’s efforts in this matter showcase a stunning embrace of anti-Jewish bigotry and blatant hypocrisy that all civil libertarians should reject."

The ACLU in 2018 appeared to backtrack from its longtime stance as an unequivocal defender of free speech. The group said it would consider turning down cases that "undermine relationships with allies or coalition partners," "create distrust with particular communities," or "directly further an agenda that is antithetical to our mission and values and that may inflict harm on listeners."

These concerns have not deterred the ACLU from defending the BDS movement, which has been described as anti-Semitic by major Jewish organizations and the U.S. State Department. The organization has led legal challenges against anti-BDS laws in numerous states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, and Texas. The group has also registered to lobby against federal anti-BDS legislation from 2017 to 2020, according to lobbying disclosure records.
Honest Reporting: Antisemitism Masked as Anti-Israel Bias at Berkeley, America’s ‘Most Prestigious College’
Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, took the top spot in the annual Forbes rankings of America’s top colleges. The business magazine offered a whole host of reasons as to why Berkeley had been awarded the coveted title, including its “world-class academics, great sports, a stunning Bay Area setting, reasonable costs and a storied history.”

Despite these plaudits, the college has been struggling with a deeply unpleasant problem for some years now: namely, rising antisemitism and a culture of anti-Israel bigotry on campus.

Just this month, Berkeley’s Chancellor Carol Christ was forced to issue an apology in response to revelations by the Anti-Defamation League that Hatem Bazian, an Islamic law and theology scholar who teaches in the university’s Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, had retweeted a gruesome cartoon depicting an Israeli soldier holding up the heart of a Palestinian man.

Bazian, who was apparently not censured over his social media use, has a long history of antisemitic outbursts.

He previously retweeted an image of a Jewish man celebrating alongside the caption: “I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians.” Another image shared by the academic depicted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un wearing a kippah and saying: “I converted all of North Korea to Judaism. Donald Tlump [sic]: Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare.”

In an email, Bazian later claimed he had not been “careful enough” in reading the image text. He deleted the posts and added: “The image in the tweet and the framing relative to Judaism and conversion was wrong and offensive and not something that reflects my position, be it in the past or the present.”

Just months later, Bazian, who is also president of the Students for Justice in Palestine, an NGO that has accused Israel of “genocide” and whose rhetoric has included complaints of “Judaization,” retweeted several comments that used the hashtag #PalestinianHolocaust and compared the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to a “concentration camp.”

Despite Bazian’s virulent antisemitism, his position at Berkeley does not appear to be in jeopardy.
HonestReporting CEO Briefing: An Insider’s View Into Latest Successes & Projects (HIGHLIGHT REEL)
HonestReporting recently held a special Zoom briefing by CEO Daniel Pomerantz, who provided insights into Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott as well as how the media is covering violence emanating from Hamas-ruled Gaza and our impact on the Associated Press’ reporting.

Pomerantz also discussed some of our newest projects, including an initiative to identify and expose antisemitic journalists, in addition to a program to help supporters of Israel communicate in the "woke" era.

Profs blame 9/11 on US foreign policy, racism at event featuring speakers with ties to terrorists
Several speakers at the Rutgers University and San Francisco State University-sponsored virtual “roundtable discussion” “Whose Narrative? 20 Years Since 9/11 2001” laid blame for 9/11 on America.

Director of AMED Studies at SFSU Rabab Abdulhadi began this year’s 9/11 event by holding a “moment of silence” for all those who were killed on September 11, 2001. She then announced that the event will “depart from the US centric approach by remembering and thinking of all those who have fallen around the world as a direct result of U.S. interventionist and imperialist wars.”

History professor at University of California Los Angeles Robin Kelley then explained that 9/11 was a “manifestation of U.S. empire and the racism that undergirds it.”

“The lessons I think that every generation learns is that U.S. empire threatens the future of humanity,” Kelley continued.

Abdulhadi had introduced Kelley before his remarks and also stated that she wished to “challenge conventional wisdom” that 9/11 was a “unique and exceptional watershed.”

She continued by saying that this line of thinking “revolves around and builds upon the US and Israeli exceptionalism, legitimize imperialist wars and interventions, including the so called war on terror, justify the security state with its increased surveillance and profiling, incarceration, torture, rendition and assassination, and promotes hyper masculinity and a call colonial gender and sexualized violent order of modern modernity and civilization.”

Deepa Kumar, a professor at Rutgers University, claimed that 9/11 was a “turning point” for America because it “strengthened and consolidated U.S. imperialism” as well as “strengthened the domestic national security state.”

Kumar said that after the fall of the Soviet Union following the Cold War, the United States needed to find a new adversary. That new adversary, according to Kumar, was Islam.

“Pockets of the ruling elite, particularly the neoconservatives, began to write about Islamic fundamentalism as a potential key threat to U.S. global interests,” Kumar said.

Local Georgia School Board Confirms Investigation of ‘Hail Hitler’ Graffiti Scrawled in Bathroom of High School in Cobb County
The Cobb County School Board in Marietta, Georgia confirmed that it is investigating the daubing of antisemitic graffiti on a bathroom wall of Alan C. Pope High School.

On Thursday, several students, who have since been identified and interviewed by school officials, graffitied “Hail Hitler” and two swastikas on a quadrant of wall tiles above a row of urinals.

Speaking to CNN, a Cobb County District spokesman called the vandalism “unacceptable” and said, “The principal has engaged with community groups who have been affected by this student behavior, and all applicable District policy and law will be applied.”

A statement by the Alan C. Pope High School Parents Teachers Students Association (PTSA) urged parents not to write off what happened as a “teenage prank” and see its link to a viral trend encouraging students to destroy and deface school property.

“Many will call these teenage pranks, but these are hate crimes — and destroying property and stealing from your school is a felony,” PTSA said.

“On the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I can’t believe THIS is what we are discussing, but last night our students came home talking about destruction of property at our school thanks to a Tik Tok trend that has infiltrated Pope, but also we saw very disturbing pictures of swastikas and messages of hate painted on the walls.”

Radical left-wing US politicians drive Jews apart - here's how to fix it
Is anti-Zionism always antisemitism? The knee-jerk reaction may be, “well, of course,” but philanthropist and Ruderman Family Foundation President Jay Ruderman and Rabbi Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky, incoming director of the organization’s program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, argue that the answer is far more complex.

“The line between being anti-Zionist and antisemitic is blurred all the time,” Ruderman says.

“If someone is sending a Jew images of a Nazi flag, that’s clearly antisemitism. But there are people who use subtle dog whistles that call on antisemitic tropes and are more difficult to detect. Even politicians do this,” he said, mentioning US Rep. Ilhan Omar’s infamous tweet insinuating support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” – a not so subtle reference to the stereotype that Jews are money hungry.

But antisemitism really comes to the fore when the anti-Zionist rhetoric “heats up.”

“We can have a whole discussion of the standards that Israel is held up to, while individuals and companies ignore blatant human rights violations all over the world,” he said referring to the latest boycott controversy surrounding Ben and Jerry’s decision to no longer sell its products beyond the Green Line. Once you reach that territory of anti-Zionism, he said, wading into antisemitic waters is not too far behind. “Often people don’t speak out, it’s only until something happens, like when Rabbi Shlomo Noginski of Chabad was stabbed in Boston in July,” he lamented, remembering an incident that occurred mere kilometers away from his home.
Governments must step up the fight against antisemitism in all its forms, says anti-racism commission
The Council of Europe’s expert body on racism and intolerance (ECRI) has today published an updated General Policy Recommendation on preventing and combating antisemitism, to help prevent increasing antisemitism and attacks on Jews in many parts of Europe.

Ahead of publication, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić said: “Antisemitic attacks – including in schools, vandalism of synagogues and the spread of antisemitic hatred online – are on the rise. This is a dangerous trend and European governments should join forces to counter such extremism in all its forms”.

ECRI Chair Maria Daniella Marouda said: “ECRI strongly emphasises the role of education, including education about the Holocaust, in promoting tolerance and respect for human rights, and thus also in the struggle against antisemitism.”

Noting that antisemitic acts are committed by a wide range of perpetrators, including neo-Nazis, political and religious extremists, ECRI’s Recommendation provides comprehensive guidance to governments on how to combat antisemitism in four specific areas:
Policies and institutional co-ordination;
Prevention and education;
Protection of Jews, Jewish communities and their institutions;
Prosecution and law enforcement.

Regarding prevention and education, ECRI encourages political actors, opinion leaders and other public personalities to take a firm public stand against antisemitism, making clear that antisemitism should never be tolerated. ECRI recommends taking into account the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism as a non-legal tool to better understand and identify expressions of antisemitism (see ECRI’s Opinion on the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism).
Former neo-Nazi talks with son of Holocaust survivors - how to combat hate
During the first week of his sabbatical year abroad in Ottawa, Canada in 1984, University of Haifa Prof. Gabriel Weimann watched the trial of Ernst Zündel from his television. After just arriving to spend the year learning about antisemitism in the media, Dr. Weimann recalled, he watched the then-Canadian resident with a strong German accent contending from the walls of the Canadian courtroom that Auschwitz was not a death camp, and no Jews were exterminated there.

Zündel insisted that Auschwitz was an educational camp to teach Jews how to procure work, and the reason there was a fence around it, he connived, is not to keep the residents in, but to keep the many hopeful professionals out, who were vying to get into this highly desired vocational center.

“Either this guy is lying, or my mother, an Auschwitz survivor, is lying,” recalls Dr. Weimann. “Of course, I knew he was lying, but what about all the Canadians watching? Some of them don’t know about the Holocaust, as they don’t have a mother who came out of Auschwitz and survived,” he emphasizes.

Zündel was convicted for spreading hate and lies about Jews and the Holocaust and was eventually expelled from Canada. And Weimann is still researching antisemitism. But in the context of today’s internet and its ability to proliferate such hate messages exponentially, efforts to prosecute modern-day Zündels are virtually fruitless.

As large networks of people spread lies and hate through social networks 76 years post-Auschwitz, Dr. Weimann maintains, “not too many survivors can deny the deniers. The fight against messages online seems impossible.”

Weimann researches the spreading of antisemitic and hate messages online through the dark net and popular platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. A few years ago, with web intelligence analyst Ari Ben-Am, Weimann revealed a language that is used on social media by antisemitic groups, which often flies under the radar of artificial intelligence-designed algorithms.
French Court Acquits Imam of Incitement for Sermon That Cited Hadith Urging Muslim Violence Against Jews
A French court has acquitted an imam in the city of Toulouse of incitement to racial hatred for a sermon he gave in 2017 that quoted a hadith — a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammed — predicting the mass killing of Jews by Muslims.

The sermon delivered by the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Toulouse, Mohamed Tataiat, was not intended to “provoke hatred or discrimination,” the president of the Toulouse Criminal Court said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The words could have been said recklessly, but not with the desire to discriminate,” the statement added.

Six civil associations — among them CRIF, the main French Jewish organization, as well as the National Office for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA) and the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism (LICRA) — had pressed the legal case against Tataïat for the Dec. 2017 sermon, which was given shortly after the US moved its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, raising the ire of many in the Muslim world.

Video highlights of Tataïat’s sermon were posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a US-based think tank that monitors radical Islamists. Tataïat was heard remarking on the Prophet Muhammed’s prediction of “the decisive and final battle.”
Jewish Leader Warns of ‘Epidemic’ of Antisemitism in Australian City of Melbourne Following COVID-19 Lockdown Controversies
An Australian newspaper has posted recordings of violently antisemitic telephone messages left on the voicemail of a Melbourne synagogue in the midst of what one Jewish leader has described as an “epidemic” of antisemitism in the city.

The latest wave of antisemitism was significantly bolstered last month after local media reported on an engagement party in the city that was attended by about 70 Orthodox Jews, in violation of Melbourne’s strict COVID-19 social distancing protocols. In another incident that contravened social distancing rules last week, Melbourne police confronted Hasidic Jews at a synagogue where they had gathered to mark the first day of the Jewish New Year, resulting in a stand-off that began at 4:30 am, when the first worshipers arrived, and ending at 8.20 pm the same night.

“Neo-Nazi groups and other far-right groups have seized on publicity surrounding the illegal gatherings to vilify the broader community, often invoking Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in their attacks,” Melbourne newspaper The Age reported on Tuesday.

Messages left on the voicemail of a synagogue in the Caulfield district of the city as well as at the offices of a major Jewish organization drew on Nazi demonization of Jews as subhuman, with callers referring to Jewish people as “germs.”

“All you Jewish are pieces of shit. How f—ing dare you guys have a party, an engagement, when the rest of Victoria are locked down? You f—ing imbeciles. Yous are a germ. Yous are a f—ing germ. I hope you all f—ing die,” one man ranted.
Ohio man sentenced to 20 years for planned attack on synagogue
A federal court sentenced an Ohio man to 20 years in prison for planning deadly attacks on a Toledo synagogue.

Damon Joseph of Holland, a Toledo suburb, had pleaded guilty in May to providing material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to commit a hate crime. Along with the prison term, the US District Court in Toledo sentenced Joseph on Monday to a lifetime of supervised release.

Joseph was 21 in 2018 when he posted recruitment propaganda for the Islamic State terrorist group on social media. FBI agents engaged him online and Joseph said he wanted to carry out a mass killing attack on a Toledo Jewish target, inspired in part by the mass murder of Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October that year. The attack on the Tree of Life synagogue was the worst on U.S. Jews in history.

Joseph was arrested when he accepted two disabled assault rifles from an undercover FBI agent.

In statements, prosecutors noted that Joseph planned his attack for Shabbat.

“He hoped to cause mass casualties by selecting a time when numerous innocent victims would be present,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said.
Maine Man Facing Federal Charges After Threatening to ‘Kill Jews With My AR-15’
A man from the town of Buxton, Maine is now facing federal charges after he threatened to commit an antisemitic mass shooting, the Bangor Daily News reported on Monday.

Brian Dennison, 24, was arrested last Saturday after he tweeted that he intended “to kill Jews with my AR-15” during the High Holidays, along with the claim that he was building a pipe bomb.

The FBI was informed of the threat, which was tweeted on Sept. 8, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and immediately dispatched agents to Dennison’s residence.

Dennison, who lives with his parents and several other family members, refused to speak to the agents, but, according to an affidavit, his parents told the agents that “Brian had been obsessed with Jews for about three years, and that he believed Jews were responsible for all of his problems.”

“They said they had many concerning conversations with Brian regarding Jews,” the agents stated.

Dennison’s parents also revealed that their son owned several weapons, including the AR-15 assault rifle mentioned in the Twitter threat.

FBI agents obtained a search warrant based on this evidence that allowed them to search Dennison’s cell phone, after which he was arrested on Sept. 11.

Men dressed as Nazis apologize for mock arrest at Dutch COVID protest
Several men dressed like Nazis were seen pretending to arrest a man wearing a yellow star as part of a rally against COVID-19 measures in the Netherlands.

Saturday’s incident in Urk, near Amsterdam, was the latest among the hundreds of rallies worldwide in which protesters have drawn what they regard as parallels between the persecution of Jews by Nazis to rules meant to curb the spread of the virus.

But the protest in Urk was unusual because of its theatrics and the fact that it happened where the Nazis actually rounded up Jews at gunpoint.

The 10 men involved in the incident apologized for their actions in writing in a statement obtained by the “Hart van Nederland” television program.

“We wish to express our sincere apologies,” the statement read, adding that the protest “crossed a line that it should have not crossed.” The protesters said they did not mean to offend Jews.

The young men played out a scene in which SS officers at gunpoint led a man wearing a striped uniform and a yellow star like the one that Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust, the NOS broadcaster reported.

The Urk municipality, which is considered one of the most pro-Israeli communities in the Netherlands, condemned the display in a statement.

“This behavior is not only objectionable, but also extremely inappropriate and offensive for many groups in the population,” the statement read.

Health Ministry: COVID booster shot provides 10 times as much protection as original dose
Israel's coronavirus infection rate stands at 5.95%, according to Health Ministry data released Wednesday, as 9,539 of the 175,395 people who tested for the virus Tuesday were found to have the disease.

The reproduction rate is 1.06.

There are 84,098 active cases of the virus. There are 650 people in serious condition, 206 of whom are on ventilators.

Although 1,105,983 Israelis have recovered from the virus since the start of the outbreak, 7,444 have died.

Israel Hayom has learned that Israel is set to receive a relatively small shipment of UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in late September. The AstraZeneca doses will be administered to those who developed an allergic reaction after receiving one dose of Pfizer's vaccine or those who are unable to be vaccinated with Pfizer's vaccine for other reasons.

"We are in the process of writing a brief for AstraZeneca vaccines. This is an important solution for those unable to be vaccinated or people who developed a reaction following other vaccines," Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, who heads the Health Ministry's Public Health Services Department, said.
Israel, EU reach deal to mutually recognize vaccine certificates
Israel and the European Union reached an agreement on Wednesday to mutually recognize vaccine certificates, the Foreign Ministry announced, in a move that will allow travelers access to Green Pass programs.

The ministry said work on the agreement would be completed in early October and would give vaccinated Israeli tourists and business people access to the EU Green Pass, allowing entrance to “restaurants, cultural centers, public institutions and more.”

It would also allow Israel to gear up to begin accepting tourists from Europe, the statement said. Furthermore, it will allow Israelis access to other countries’ programs, should they join the initiative in the future.

However, the ministry cautioned that the program does not supersede entry requirements of individual EU nations, like Portugal and Sweden, which currently bar Israeli tourists. It also allows Israel to continue to bar entry to travelers from specific EU countries if it chooses.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hailed the agreement as “an important step in laying the groundwork for a return to normal with regard to flight and tourism ties between Israel and the EU.”
The $538 Million Acquisition of a Company Named After Yom Kippur War Fallen Soldier
“What are the odds that a company called Itamar Medical, named after my brother who was killed in the Yom Kippur War, will be sold on the eve of Yom Kippur, the day before going up Mount Hermon in his memory? Even a heathen like me begins to believe there is a God.”

Giora Yaron, 73, is the founder and chairman of Itamar Medical, which was just sold for $538 million in cash to Japan’s ZOLL Medical. He holds a 6.1% stake in the company and is expected to receive about $100 million for the value of the shares he owns. In an interview with Calcalist, he talks about the past and future of Itamar Medical, which developed a digital platform that focuses on home-diagnosis of sleep apnea and a non-invasive device called WatchPAT, used by patients and medical centers. The company is publicly traded in Tel Aviv and New York.

Itamar Medical’s acquisition comes as it displays low growth in sales and is still recording a loss (according to its financial report from a month ago, Itamar Medical’s revenues in the first half of 2021 were $24.5 million, and the operating loss was $9.9 million. The company invested a lot in manpower to boost sales but this fact also led to an increase in loss).
When Leonard Cohen sang of fighting with his ‘brothers’ in the Yom Kippur war
When the Yom Kippur war broke out in the fall of 1973, legendary Canadian singer Leonard Cohen was moved to come to Israel to try and help the Jewish state which was facing the most serious threat to its short existence.

Convinced by Israeli artists to join them and come down to the Sinai desert where the battle was raging against the invading Egyptian forces, Cohen went from base to base, playing concerts for the weary soldiers.

There, during a break between performances, he penned and performed what would become one of his most famous hits: ‘Lover, Lover, Lover.”

One particular verse in the song grabbed the attention of those who heard it, moved by the solidarity of the Jewish star: “I went down to the desert to help my brothers fight…,” the verse began.

And yet when the song was released to the world, the lines had disappeared, leaving the soldiers to wonder what had happened to the song, and Cohen’s attachment to Israel.

The doubt lingered until now, nearly five decades later, when Israeli-Canadian writer Matti Friedman rediscovered Cohen’s original drafts while researching a book on Cohen’s trip to Israel in a book recently published in Hebrew.

“Who by Fire: War, Atonement, and the Resurrection of Leonard Cohen,” comes out in English next March.
Booth campRare photos show soldiers’ sukkot during Yom Kippur War
Nearly 50 years after the Yom Kippur War, a number of rare photos are being released by the National Library of Israel showing how the festival of Sukkot was celebrated during the conflict, on the tops of jeeps and military vehicles in the Sinai and the Golan Heights.

The 1973 war was named for the Day of Atonement, when battle broke out, but it extended into the week of Sukkot, which begins just a few days after Yom Kippur.

During the holiday, Jews sit — and eat and sometimes sleep — in temporary dwellings and booths called sukkot, often with a reed- or branch-strewn roof that allows dwellers to glimpse the sky above.

Given the ongoing war, the chief military rabbi at the time declared soldiers exempt from the commandment of sukkah dwelling. But it clearly held a strong emotional bond for many and they built improvised booths on jeeps and military vehicles, sometimes in enemy territory.

One newspaper reporting from deep inside Syrian territory described an improvised sukkah found on the way to the site of a critical battle at Hushniya junction, with one soldier recounting, “The guys from the armored division set up the sukkah. Yes, they managed to fulfill the mitzvah of sitting in it, before they were called to destroy the last enemy pocket.”

Pictures from Yom Kippur War declassified
Forty-eight years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, never-before-seen images of the IDF's 8200 intelligence unit at work during the fighting in the Sinai Peninsula have been made public.

IDF forces were battling to stop the Egyptian army's advance. Israel suffered heavy casualties.

They received help from the 8200 personnel stationed at Babylon Base, located 40 km. (25 miles) from the Suez Canal. The unit was charged with listening in on the Egyptian military, locating anti-aircraft radars.

See more images here

The 8200 base operated around the clock to provide rapid, high-quality intelligence for Israel as the fighting continued. The technology was cutting-edge for its time, and Israel did not want to reveal its qualitative edge. For decades, the images now being published were classified.

The pictures show a team of wireless operators who were fluent in Arabic and had been briefed on how to tune in and analyze Egyptian military communications. The base also recorded reports which were transferred to the IDF's Southern Command.


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