Monday, October 11, 2021

From Ian:

David Singer: Antisemitic EU & ECRI policies on Israel cannot be whitewashed
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) - in attempting to whitewash European Union (EU) policies directed against Israel in Judea and Samaria being labelled as “antisemitic” – is itself engaging in antisemitic criticism of Israel’s right to claim sovereignty there.

Antisemitic EU anti-Israel policies:
- Require goods produced by Israelis living in Judea and Samaria to be distinctively labelled for sale in the EU: “Product from West Bank (Israeli settlement)”
- Facilitate and finance illegal Arab building in Area C of Judea and Samaria - totally under Israeli control pursuant to the Oslo Accords – without the EU seeking Israel’s approval

ECRI’s 47 members – one from each Council of Europe member state – are appointed:
“on the basis of their independence, impartiality, moral authority and expertise in dealing with issues of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.”

ECRI – in a recent report - clarified when it considers criticism of Israel to be antisemitic:
“Contemporary forms of antisemitism can differ from traditional forms of prejudice against Jewish people, but both forms can also exist in parallel. Nowadays, antisemitism can also be expressed in certain criticism of Israel that is baseless. For example, denying Jews their right to a national homeland, holding the State of Israel to a different standard of behaviour than other states, or demonising the State of Israel and viewing it and its people as inherently evil or racist, may be regarded as antisemitic.”

Under these guidelines:
- Textbooks used in Palestinian Arab and Saudi Arabian schools depicting hundreds of maps without “Israel” being designated on them - are antisemitic
- The Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas - whose respective Charters deny Jews have any right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in their ancient and biblical homeland – are antisemitic organisations and their leaders are antisemites.
- EU criticism of Israel for its responses in protecting Israel’s citizens from rockets fired from Gaza indiscriminately into Israeli population centres - is antisemitic - since European States would act similarly were their countries so confronted

ECRI however shoots itself in the foot when stating what criticism of Israel is not antisemitic:
“However, ECRI strongly emphasises that any attempts to stifle, or stigmatise as antisemitic, legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies, in particular towards the Palestinian people and in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, will jeopardise efforts to combat antisemitism and should therefore be rejected.”


Ben & Jerry’s excruciating Israel interview
Ben & Jerry have never been shy about making politics part of their brand. The ice cream makers have made social activism a mainstay of their corporate outlook in recent years, with stunts including the refusal to serve two scoops of the same ice cream flavor in Australia (in support of same-sex marriage) and unveiling an anti-Trump batch flavor called ‘Pecan Resist’ to ‘lick injustice.’ They even found time to involve themselves in little local difficulties across the pond, berating UK home secretary Priti Patel last year for trying to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel in boats.

Now, though, one of the company’s stunts appears to have backfired spectacularly. In July the ice cream manufacturers declared that Ben & Jerry’s would stop sales in the ‘occupied Palestinian Territory’ as ‘we believe it is inconsistent with our values for our product to be present within an internationally recognized illegal occupation’. And who better to defend those values than Ben Cohen, appearing alongside his co-founder Jerry Greenfield in an Axios on HBO interview this weekend?

The septuagenarian Sanders supporter could only flounder when asked about the reasoning behind the Israel boycott, as the company he started continues to peddle its wares in Georgia and Texas, despite attacking the abortion and voting rights laws in those two states.
Scoop: Ben and Jerry stumped by Texas and Georgia
The activist co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s admitted in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that they don't know how to hold states like Georgia and Texas accountable when they pass laws with which they disagree.

Why it matters: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have made progressive politics synonymous with their brand. The 70-year-old entrepreneurs, who no longer control the company but retained their right to be its social conscience, have shown they’ll use business muscle in pursuit of their ideals.

Axios' Alexi McCammond asked, during an interview in the brand’s home state of Vermont: “You guys are big proponents of voting rights. Why do you still sell ice cream in Georgia? Texas — abortion bans. Why are you still selling there?”
- “I don’t know,” Ben Cohen said with a laugh. “It’s an interesting question. I don’t know what that would accomplish. We’re working on those issues, of voting rights. ... I think you ask a really good question. And I think I’d have to sit down and think about it for a bit.”
- When pressed on the Texas limits on women’s access to abortion, Cohen said: “By that reasoning, we should not sell any ice cream anywhere. I’ve got issues with what’s being done in almost every state and country. ”
- "One thing that's different is that what Israel is doing is considered illegal by international law. And so I think that's a consideration," Greenfield said.


One of the company’s latest moves — its 2021 decision to stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories — led to serious backlash.
- Cohen and Greenfield wrote a joint NYT op-ed defending the company’s decision. “While we no longer have any operational control of the company we founded in 1978, we’re proud of its action and believe it is on the right side of history,” they wrote.
- Thirty-five states in the U.S. have anti-Israel boycott laws, and so far four have announced they’re taking action or considering divesting from Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company.
- Greenfield told “Axios on HBO” that those states’ decisions are based on “misinformation” that “Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are being characterized as boycotting Israel — which is not the case at all. It’s not boycotting Israel in any way,” he said.
Axios on HBO: Ben & Jerry’s founders on sales in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Reducing Middle East Tensions Can Decrease Sectarianism and Opens Doors for Women
Two separate developments involving improved relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and women’s sporting rights demonstrate major shifts in how the rivalry for leadership of the Muslim world and the competition to define Islam in the 21st century is playing out.

The developments fit into a regional effort by conservative, status quo states: Saudi Arabia: the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt; and proponents of different forms of political Islam: Iran, Turkey, and Qatar — to manage rather than resolve their differences in a bid to ensure that they do not spin out of control. The efforts have had the greatest success with the lifting in January of a 3.5-year-long Saudi-UAE-Egyptian-led diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

The reconciliation moves also signal the pressure on Middle Eastern players in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam, to change perceptions of the region as being wracked by civil wars, sectarian tensions, extremism, jihadism, and autocracy. Altering that perception is key to the successful implementation of plans to diversify oil and gas dependent economies in the Gulf, develop resource-poor countries in the region, tackle an economic crisis in Turkey, and enable Iran to cope with crippling US sanctions.

Finally, these developments are also the harbinger of the next phase in the competition for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world. That next phase of the battle is being shaped not only by doubts among US allies in the Middle East about the reliability of the United States as a security guarantor, reinforced by America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, but also by a realization that neither China nor Russia can (or will) attempt to replace the US defense umbrella in the Gulf.
Dave Chapelle's antisemitism isn't funny
Dave Chapelle may not really be an antisemite but his new Netflix special contains some very antisemitic material.

What Chapelle may think are harmless jokes – about Jews coming from outer space to control the earth, about them taking land that is not rightfully theirs, and about them experiencing horrors and then perpetuating those same horrors on others – actually reinforce a number of dangerous anti-Jewish tropes.

To be fair, Chapelle makes fun of everyone, and part of what makes him special is that his humor often crosses lines. But jokes like these are different: The ideas behind them have led to innocent people getting killed throughout history, and as an influential public figure Chapelle needs to really be more careful.

Chapelle is probably not an avid student of Jewish suffering, and antisemitism is notoriously hard to define because it is a mutating virus whose focus can shift radically over time. But in terms of its perfidious process, one of the rare unifying themes that emerge from the annals of Jew-hatred is the antisemites' consistent attempt at the dehumanization of the Jewish people. Whether Jews are portrayed as malevolently superhuman, as in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or as worthlessly subhuman, as in the Nazi ideology, antisemites throughout history have found that it is easier to despise and eventually kill that which they do not consider human.
Jewish Groups Alarmed by Ethnic-Studies Bill in Massachusetts
Jewish groups in Massachusetts are raising concerns about a bill being proposed by state lawmakers that would facilitate the teaching of ethnic studies in schools.

The legislation, known as S.365 "An Act relative to anti-racism, equity and justice in education" has been proposed by State Sen. Jason Lewis (5th Middlesex District). The bill, citing the Jan. 6 "insurrection" and the "imminent danger" posed by "disinformation and white supremacy," says that it would be in the best interest of Massachusetts students "that education in dismantling racism be taught to all students."

It calls for the establishment of a fund and a "Commission for Anti-Racism and Equity in Education," which would "develop curriculum materials with a social-justice perspective of dismantling racism" and "ensure that ethnic studies, racial justice, decolonizing history and unlearning racism are taught at all grade levels."

The bill was introduced earlier this year and has been referred to the committee on education. In September, a virtual hearing was held where Jewish groups submitted testimony raising concerns over the language.

Robert Leikind, director of the American Jewish Committee's New England regional office, wrote that while they support efforts to educate students on racial justice, the "terms used are undefined and vague, leaving the proposed commission broad discretion to interpret their meaning and shape policy accordingly."
Desmond Cole Given Unfettered Platform to Smear Israel on AM640
On the October 8 broadcast of AM 640’s Toronto Today talk show with Greg Brady, radio listeners were treated to a nearly 10 minute anti-Israel diatribe by controversial Toronto author Desmond Cole. (Start at the 11:50 mark on the audio player below)

Cole, who recently attempted to abuse his position teaching about anti-Black racism for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) by spewing anti-Israel misinformation, was given an unfettered platform on Greg Brady’s program to air his criticisms against Israel. For background on this incident, see True North Centre’s report by Sue-Ann Levy entitled: “The TDSB’s Desmond Cole disaster won’t go away any time soon”

Cole’s remarks were little more than a rehash of the same, tired anti-Israel arguments being used without factual basis for decades.

“People prefer to defend the State of Israel. They prefer to defend a settler colonial regime in another part of the world where you can occupy other people’s land…where you can make laws and erase the laws of the people who were there and take away their customs if that sounds at all familiar to Canada, where you can control people movement…and so we are sympathetic to another settler colonial country that is doing the same thing,” Cole said.

Cole’s claims are without any factual basis whatsoever. Israel is the ancient, historic homeland of the Jewish people, exiled from their land for nearly two thousand years, and who retain legal, moral and historic right to the land. To call them colonialists is not only deeply offensive and incredibly ignorant of three millennia of Jewish indigenous presence in the Holy Land, but it is also utterly illogical.

Despite its repeated usage by Cole, colonialism is not a catch-all term for what he happens to find objectionable about Israel. Rather, it refers to the “domination of a people or area by a foreign state or nation,” and of course, even a cursory reading of the Jewish people’s extensive history in their homeland – they were named Jews after the land, Judea – the claim of colonialism becomes exposed as pure fiction. Jews are not foreign to their land, and they cannot occupy their own land, either.
Flushing the Israel out of ancient Israel
News headlines last week reported on the rare archeological find of a private Kingdom of Judah-era toilet discovered in the remains of a luxurious mansion in Jerusalem. Haaretz noted the presence of dozens of bowls around the ancient lavatory, about which an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) official speculated: “they held air freshener, an aromatic oil or incense – anything to make use of the facility less onerous” (“Biblical-era Toilet With Possible Air Fresheners Found in Jerusalem“).

While aromatic oil might have done the olfactory trick in the First Temple-period bathroom, all the fragrant incense in ancient Judah can’t conceal the stench of media reports that erase the long, rich Jewish history of ancient Israel.

The Associated Press’ short article last week on the unusual toilet find was a prime example of news media dumping on Jews’ ancient history in their ancestral homeland (“2,700-year-old toilet found in Jerusalem was a rare luxury“). The leading news agency cited the “rare ancient toilet in Jerusalem dating back more than 2,700 years” while diligently failing to note the historic period in question: the First Temple Period.

The IAA press release, for its part, was clear and explicitly began: “A rare toilet cubicle from the First Temple Period, which was part of an ancient royal estate that operated at the end of the Kings of Judean period (7th century BCE). . . ” (All emphases added throughout.) The IAA statement repeatedly emphasized the historic period of Jewish sovereignty in the ancient homeland:

“Beneath the toilet, a septic tank was discovered, containing a large amount of pottery from the First Temple Period and animal bones. The finds were carefully collected, including the soil fill. Their investigation may teach us about the lifestyles and diets of the First Temple people, as well as ancient diseases.”
BBC WS radio’s ‘Newsday’ promotes inaccuracies in a no news story
Listeners to one of the October 7th editions of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ heard a flimsy item about a non-event of a story based on an inadequately identified source, with comment from an inadequately presented contributor.

Presenter Bolo Mosuro introduced that item (from 10:01 here) as follows:
Mosuro: “Now, we head to the Gaza Strip where the past few months have seen a further deterioration in the state of Palestinians in the area. The blockade by Israel has meant a lack of clean drinking water, the electricity supply is intermittent, unemployment is high and even sick patients have to apply for exit permits before being allowed to leave the territory for medical treatment.”

Mosuro failed to clarify that Egypt has also placed restrictions on the Gaza Strip since it came under the control of a terrorist organisation in 2007.

Her claim that Israel’s counter-terrorism measures are the cause of “a lack of clean drinking water”, inadequate power supplies and unemployment are of course as inaccurate as they are unsurprising, given that the BBC has repeatedly promoted misinformation concerning water and power in the past. As documented here previously, in May of this year Hamas disabled Gaza City’s desalination plant, cutting some 250,000 residents off from their water supply. The long-running electricity shortage is the product of disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and has nothing to do with “the blockade”.

The context essential for understanding why residents of an enclave run by a terrorist organisation should need permits to enter Israel for medical treatment (or other reasons) was absent from that part of Mosuro’s introduction.


BBC NEWS COVERAGE OF TERRORISM IN ISRAEL – SEPTEMBER 2021
The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during September 2021 shows that throughout the month a total of 251 incidents took place: 199 in Judea & Samaria, 42 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and ten in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria, Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ the agency recorded 187 attacks with petrol bombs, seventeen attacks using pipe bombs, five stabbing attacks, nine shooting attacks, 22 arson attacks and one vehicular attack. In the Gaza Strip one shooting attack, one case of anti-aircraft fire and 8 incidents of rocket/mortar fire took place.

Six people were injured in terror attacks throughout September. Two civilians were moderately wounded in a stabbing attack near Jerusalem’s central bus station on September 13th. On September 15th a civilian was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Jaffa and on September 22nd a civilian was moderately injured in a vehicular attack near Ma’ale Michmash.

Visitors to the BBC News website saw no coverage of any of those attacks.

Additionally, two members of the security forces were seriously injured near Jenin on September 26th. The BBC News website made a one-line mention of that incident in a report discussed here.

The website’s coverage of the incidents of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on four consecutive days amounted to twelve words at the bottom of an article on a different topic.
BBC describes Alfred Dreyfus as 'notorious Jewish spy'
The BBC described Alfred Dreyfus — a French-Jewish officer accused of treason in the Dreyfus Affair — as a "notorious Jewish spy" in its summary for the first episode of a period police drama released on October 9.

"Paris, 1899. The French Republic is in turmoil as rumors spread about the release from Devil's Island of Dreyfus, the notorious Jewish spy," read the summary for episode 1 of BBC's Paris Police 1900.

According to the BBC, the summary was later changed to avoid misunderstanding. The line from the program page was rewritten to describe Dreyfus instead as having been "previously arrested for spying."

"The sentence was not intended as an [sic] historical statement, but to reflect the rumors towards the Dreyfus case that we see in the drama — which also depicts the rise of antisemitism," the BBC Spokesperson said in response to a Jerusalem Post inquiry.

"For the BBC to produce a series featuring Alfred Dreyfus, who was baselessly accused of treason, and then describe him as a 'notorious Jewish spy' is an insult to his memory and to the Jewish community in general," Emanuel Miller, a media analyst at the media watchdog organization HonestReporting, told The Jerusalem Post. "The Dreyfus case represented a key moment in Zionism's history and in the eyes of many is a byword for the miscarriages of justice suffered by Jews throughout the ages. How many times must a Jew's name be smeared?"
Indy report on antisemitism in Germany ignores the elephant in the room
An article in the Independent on the rise of antisemitism in Germany by the Berlin-based journalist Erik Kirschbaum did what so many media reports on anti-Jewish racism do: it focused entirely on the right-wing variety, whilst ignoring the far-left or Muslim variety.

The article (“How an antisemitic incident in Leipzig highlighted the chilling emergence of the far-right in Germany’s east”, Oct. 10) opened with a recent incident in Leipzig where a luxury hotel manager reportedly told an Israeli-German singer, Gil Ofarim, to cover up his Star of David necklace first if he wanted a room. The incident, we’re informed, “triggered a wider discussion about an alarming trend in recent years in which antisemitism has become socially acceptable in some circles in Germany”.

Kirschbaum attributes this disturbing phenomena to younger generations feeling “less burdened by the crimes of their grandparents”, “the insidious effects of Covid-19 conspiracy theories” and creasing support for the far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party. Regarding the latter dynamic, the writer uses the term “far-right” eight times in the context of explaining the country’s surge in antisemitism, both in reference to the general trend of Jew hatred and in noting a deadly 2019 attack on a synagogue. Citing a more recent example, Kirschbaum recounts how, just last week, “fans of the Union Berlin football team shouted antisemitic insults at an Israeli team they were hosting during a match in Berlin”.

Kirschbaum was evidently unaware – or disinterested in reporting on – a series of antisemitic incidents in May that didn’t fit neatly into his narrative, as they were committed by largely Muslim anti-Israel activists. This included the chanting of murderous antisemitic slogans and attacks on German synagogues.
Reuters Corrects Former US Consulate Was Not in East Jerusalem
CAMERA’s Israel office last week prompted correction of a Reuters video which erroneously had placed the former U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem. Reporting on plans to reopen the American consulate in Jerusalem, the video had erred twice, incorrectly locating the former US Consulate which was home to the Palestinian Affairs Unit.

The video initially began: “Plans to reopen an American consulate in east Jerusalem serving Palestinians have prompted pushback from the Israeli government.”

The video misreports a second time: “A year later, the U.S. shuttered the east Jerusalem consulate . . . “

In fact, the Palestinian Affairs Unit of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem was located on Agron Street, in the western part of the city, not in east Jerusalem. The Agron building in western Jerusalem appeared in the video when the voiceover erroneously referred to “the east Jerusalem consulate” (51 seconds) and again at 1:24.

Separately, the State Department also had operated America House Jerusalem, a center for cultural, tech and educational programs, located on Nablus Street in east Jerusalem. It is the America House logo which appears at 0:03 as the narrator refers to the “American consulate in east Jerusalem.” While the America House was in east Jerusalem, it wasn’t the consulate.
New York Boosts Funding to Secure Communities Against Hate Crimes, Antisemitism
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday to announce an increase in state funding to help secure communities against hate crimes.

“This place is a stark reminder of what happens when hate goes unchallenged. The history is long and the history is sad, and the history is painful,” she said during a press conference. “ … And what we learned from way back, earlier in the past century, is if those seeds [of hate] are not destroyed and crushed early, they bloom even further. Then you have much worse to deal with. I sometimes feel those seeds are starting to grow.”

The state will allocate $25 million to help non-profits at risk of hate crimes or attacks to improve their security.

The funds, being distributed through the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, will support as many as 800 security projects. Among the non-profits that may now be able to receive security funds are daycare centers, day camps and community centers.

“It’s starting now,” said Hochul. “We’ll get that money out. We’ll get it where it’s needed.”

New York has already handed out $43 million to 362 non-profits to boost security infrastructure and enhance preparedness, according to a press release.
Jewish Groups, Politicians Condemn Attack on Former Israeli Soldier in Berlin
Jewish groups and German politicians condemned an antisemitic attack on a 29-year-old former Israeli soldier in Berlin over the weekend.

On Friday night, unidentified assailants attacked the Berlin resident, who was wearing a jumper with an Israel Defense Forces emblem. Outside a train station in the German capital, the victim was approached by a man who “addressed him about his faith,” German police stated. The attacker sprayed irritant gas in his face, knocked him to the ground and fled. Berlin’s criminal police opened an investigation into what had been determined an antisemitic act.

“In the last few weeks, we have experienced a social climate in which antisemitism is repeatedly played down and denied,” said Samuel Salzborn, antisemitism commissioner for Berlin. “In such a climate, violent antisemitic criminals felt encouraged to follow up their thinking with antisemitic acts like [Friday’s attack].”

“One has to understand this connection: whoever plays down antisemitism, objectively strengthens, whether intentionally or not, a climate of hatred, antisemitic hatred of Jews and of Israel,” Salzborn added.

AJC Berlin said they “wish the victim a speedy recovery and hope that the perpetrator will be identified quickly.”

Anna Staroselski, president of the German Union of Jewish Students (JSUD) marked the incident as “another antisemitic assault.”

“The trivialization of antisemitism, perpetrator-victim reversal and a lack of moral courage promote the breeding ground for antisemitic attacks. Perpetrators feel encouraged to let their hatred of Jews run wild, because nothing happens anyway,” Staroselski said.
UK Soccer Fan Pleads Guilty to Posting Racist, Antisemitic Hate Speech on Twitter
A British soccer fan pled guilty to posting hate speech online, including antisemitic abuse, Sky News reported Saturday.

Nathan Blagg, 21, a fan of the Chelsea soccer team, made racist postings on Twitter after a game between Chelsea and the West Bromwich Albion team on Sept. 26, 2020.

A fan of West Bromwich Albion complained to Chelsea Football Club about the tweets, and Chelsea informed the Metropolitan Police, who traced the account to Blagg.

It was then discovered that Blagg had made antisemitic comments on Twitter in Nov. 2020 and Feb. 2021. He was arrested on Feb. 8 and has now pleaded guilty to seven counts of sending by public communication network an offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message.

Police also found that Blagg had bragged about being able to post hate speech with impunity, saying, “Can’t beat days like this, can be as horrible as I like and not be judged it’s mint.”
CAA writes to Amazon after company is reported to be profiting from book promoting Holocaust denial by far-right leader Mark Collett
Campaign Against Antisemitism will be writing to Amazon after it was reported that the online marketplace has cut a book deal with Mark Collett, the leader of far-right group Patriotic Alternative.

Patriotic Alternative is known for its efforts to recruit youth to its white nationalist ideology. Previously, the far-right group published an online “alternative” home school curriculum condemned as “poison” and “hateful” and attempted to recruit children as young as twelve through livestreaming events on YouTube, according to The Times.

It is led by the former head of the youth wing of the BNP, Mark Collett, who is reported to have dabbled in Holocaust denial, collaborated with the infamous American antisemite David Duke, and espoused antisemitic and racist views.

Mr Collett’s book, The Fall of Western Man, says that Adolf Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies would have been “something that one would have been proud to be a part of”, adding that “Those in attendance wore uniforms, looked healthy and were of good breeding stock.” He also said that “when it comes to the notion of white guilt, nothing is pushed more strongly” than the “alleged extermination of six million Jews at the hands of the German people”.

He continues: “The Holocaust has been elevated to a level of importance so great that it has its own worldwide day of remembrance, and a multi-million dollar industry exists to push the established narrative. The Holocaust industry churns out movies, books and television shows on a regular basis to ensure that the Holocaust is constantly kept in the collective mind of Western man.”

“Western man is also brainwashed and enslaved by notions of white guilt that stem from false historical narratives of his colonial past, slavery and the Holocaust,” Mr Collett writes.
Wiz Raises $250 Million, Values Israeli Cyber Firm at $6 Billion
Israeli cybersecurity startup Wiz said on Monday it had raised $250 million in a private funding round that values the company at $6 billion.

Wiz, established in 2020, completed a $350 million financing round this year that had valued the cloud security platform at $1.7 billion.

Wiz has 180 employees in Israel and the United States. It said its platform is used by 15% of Fortune 500 companies.

The company said most of the investors from its previous round — Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures, Insight Partners, Greenoaks, Salesforce, CyberStarts, billionaire Bernard Arnault and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz — participated in the current round.
Israeli-Founded Gett Closing on $1.3 Billion SPAC Merger
Global corporate ground travel company Gett is closer than ever to going public in the US. Calcalist has learned that the Israeli-founded company is on the verge of merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) at a valuation of $1.3-1.5 billion, similar to its valuation in its most recent funding round in June 2020.

Gett is currently in the midst of closing its PIPE (Private Investment Public Equity) investments with the assistance of Morgan Stanley and the Jefferies Group. Following the closing of those investments, estimated to be in the region of $150-200 million, Gett will move forward with the merger, which is likely to take place in the coming weeks.

Despite the fact Gett is at the final stretch of going public, completing the deal at the valuation it is seeking is far from a given considering the company’s track record.

Gett has been looking into going public for the past two years, with its CEO already saying back in 2019 that it planned to do so by the end of that year. The company looked into the option of doing an IPO on Nasdaq, in Europe, and even on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in recent years, but now seems set to be heading to the market via an SPAC merger.
Around the worldRed Hot Chili Peppers announce 2023 concert date in Israel
Rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers have announced plans to perform in Israel in 2023, after the band’s planned June 2020 and then June 2021 concerts were postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Promoters Shuki Weiss and Live Nation Israel said the exact concert date would be announced after the band’s 2023 touring schedule is set.

The American band, known for its mix of rock, funk and punk rock, is starting a world tour in 2022 that will continue for two years. Tickets are already on sale in North America, with tickets for the United Kingdom and European Union going on sale starting Wednesday.

Tickets purchased for the 2020 concert will be honored for the new concert date, and can also be refunded, according to Weiss.

The band was last in Israel in 2012, when it played to a crowd of 50,000 in Tel Aviv’s Park Hayarkon.
Largest wine factory in the world from Byzantine period unearthed in Yavne
A sophisticated wine production facility, the largest from the Byzantine period ever found in the world, was unearthed in Yavne, the Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday.

The factory was used to produce the legendary regional wine, known as Gaza or Ashkelon wine after the ports from where it was exported all over the Mediterranean. It included five impressive wine presses, large treading floors where the grapes were crushed, two huge octagonal vats, storage rooms and kilns to produce jars to conserve the wine.

The facility is said to have produced as much as two million liters of wine annually.

Yavne is located in central Israel and was an important city some 1,500 years ago was, according to IAA archaeologist Dr. Jon Seligman, co-director of excavation with Dr. Elie Haddad and Liat Nadav-Ziv.

“Yavne was important enough to be put in a map from the period with Jerusalem, featuring three large churches,” he said. “First and foremost, it was a Christian town. But we also know that there were populations of Jews and Samaritans living there during the same time period. It had a bishop. It was located in what at the time was on a major road, called the sea highway, which went from north to south, and on its junction with the Sorek River.”

The wine factory’s remains were first uncovered during a salvage excavation prior to the construction of a new residential and commercial neighborhood. In Israel, all development projects must be accompanied by such excavations.


'Ramon crater is isolated and it looks like Mars,' says physicist

HBO Acquires Rights to Biopic About Boxer Forced to Fight Fellow Prisoners in Auschwitz
HBO Films has bought the North American rights to a biographical movie about a boxer who survived Auschwitz after being forced to fight fellow prisoners.

“The Survivor” was directed by Jewish Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson with BRON Studios and New Mandate Films. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is based on the book “Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano.”

The biopic is set in post-World War II and stars Ben Foster as Haft, who was forced to fight other concentration camp prisoners in boxing matches to amuse the Nazis.

After surviving Auschwitz, he moved to New York, and “haunted by the memories and his guilt, he attempts to use high-profile fights against boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as a way to find his first love again,” said BRON Studios.

“The Survivor” also stars Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Saro Emirze, Dar Zuzovsky, Danny DeVito and John Leguizamo.

“At a time when hatred based on race and belief is escalating, Harry’s story is a reminder of overcoming adversity against all odds,” the film’s producers Matti Leshem and Aaron L. Gilbert said in a statement.
Ukraine asks KKL-JNF to help it plant a billion trees over three years
The Ukrainian government has asked the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund to help it implement an ambitious plan to plant a billion trees over the next three years.

The vision was announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in June as part of a move to address climate change.

The country’s environment and natural resources minister, Roman Abramovsky, turned to KKL Chairman Avraham Duvdevani with a request for knowledge transfer and advice on the technology needed to implement the plan.

According to a KKL spokesperson, the organization’s chief forester will be setting up a joint Israeli-Ukrainian team. Israeli experts will fly to Ukraine to instruct their counterparts there on how to plant and maintain trees, and will provide tools and technology to plant and monitor the forests.

The BBC in June contrasted Zelensky’s plan for a billion trees with the three billion tree target of all 27 European Union member states put together.
Jerusalem dedicates square to Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews
The city of Jerusalem on Monday dedicated a square in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in memory of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who issued over 2,000 visas to Jewish individuals and families, in breach of Japanese policy, when serving as the Japanese vice-consul to Kovno (today Kaunas) in Lithuania in 1940.

The recipients were overwhelmingly Jewish refugees and families who had fled Nazi-occupied Poland ahead of Germany’s invasion of then-independent Lithuania. With these visas, and a complex mechanism of aid from other consuls, companies and individuals, up to 10,000 Jews are thought to have been saved from WWII Europe, escaping via the Soviet Union to Japan.

Among the recipients were teachers and the entire student body of the Mir Yeshiva, which today thrives in Jerusalem’s Beit Yisrael neighborhood.

Sugihara’s deeds were recognized in 1984 by Israel, which bestowed upon him the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and posthumously by Japan, in 2000.

Chiune’s 72-year-old son, Nobuki Sugihara, who lives in Belgium, addressed the event, having been given a last-minute visa following a Times of Israel report that revealed Israel was denying him entry because of missing COVID-related paperwork.

Nobuki, who was invited to study at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in the late 1960s after the story of his father’s heroism belatedly began to resonate, said he used to live in the neighborhood near the square, and that the area had developed beyond recognition: “The view is different, the trees are bigger, people grew, survivors made children and grandchildren.”











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