Monday, October 25, 2021

From Ian:

For the Anti-Israel Left, the Jewish State Is but a Screen onto Which It Projects Its Fantasies
There is another problem with intersectionality, at least in the way it is now being used. It, too, is a kind of conceit—an updated version of “We Are the World.” As the political theorist Michael Walzer told me, “Intersectionality is a genuinely useful idea. But there is no intersection between American Blacks and Palestinians. The moral significance of solidarity is that it extends solidarity to people with whom you have no intersection. Intersectionality is an entirely different idea from internationalism.” The Israeli journalist Etan Nechin observed to me that the American left’s discourse on Israel is “an offshoot of identity politics, with emphasis on ‘me.’ But internationalism was never about that.” To support other peoples or movements because they are somehow “like” you—or because they “look like you”—betrays the traditional ethos of internationalism.

And in the Manichean imagination—and this, I think, is its greatest sin, if I can use that word—the democratic forces within Israel, both Jewish and Arab, are rendered literally invisible, as if by a perverse magic trick. In Haaretz, Nechin recently charged that those on the American left—and particularly the Jewish American left—“dismiss realities on the ground in Israel and Palestine entirely, and instead offer high-minded ideological critiques.” As for ending the occupation, American leftists “expect … if that day comes, [that] it won’t be because of the work of decades by the Israeli left, but because Americans boycotted SodaStream.” Gone missing are “the hundreds of thousands of union workers, writers, doctors, teachers, activists, and everyday people within the Green Line who protested the Jewish Nation State Bill, or go out on a Friday afternoon to stand in solidarity next to their Palestinian neighbors.”

Today’s left, and today’s liberals, are in a bit of a pickle—or at least in a state of moral and theoretical disarray. I don’t exempt myself from that. It is extremely hard to figure out how to extend solidarity—in real, not rhetorically grandiose terms—to Syrians and Afghans; to democracy activists in China, Nicaragua, and Hong Kong; to horrifically endangered peoples such as the Uyghurs and Yazidis and Rohingya. Ending the occupation, and strengthening endangered democratic institutions in Israel, are goals that rank high on the list of political urgencies for some of us.

In the current, often bewildering international context, the venomous attacks on Israel qua Israel offer a seductively easy, morally antiseptic—and, I would add, appallingly self-absorbed—way to intervene in foreign affairs. The hysterical hyperbole, the self-referential projections, the lazy conflations, the warped histories that abound today: All substitute for solidarity. What is needed, I believe, is an entry into the world of political thought, whose foundation is the ability to make distinctions within the context of history rather than to crush them.

So no, Palestine isn’t Ferguson, Israel isn’t South Africa, and Zionism isn’t white supremacy. As Arendt wrote, the activity of thinking—the very basis of politics—begins with the knowledge that “A and B are not the same.”
Im Tirtzu: 'New Israel Fund collaborating with pro-BDS groups'
The New Israel Fund has increased its funding of a series of left-wing organizations and Palestinian aid groups, at least one of which has ties to an organization that supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. This is according to a new report by right-wing watchdog group Im Tirtzu.

The report's findings are in contrast to the New Israel Fund's claims to donors "it will not support organizations that call for and support a comprehensive boycott of the State of Israel."

According to Im Tirtzu's Research and Policy division, in 2020 the New Israel Fund gave $125,000 to Baladna – the Association for Arab Youth. According to its Facebook page, Baladna recently collaborated with Qatari-based BDS organization QAYON. According to QAYON's official website, the organization opposes any form of normalization with the "Zionist entity" and runs BDS campaigns. Baladna recently worked with QAYON to organize an event benefitting Palestinians detained during the Israel Defense Forces' Operation Guardian of the Walls. In addition, Baladna is known for its opposition to minorities enlisting in the IDF or national service.

The report further found that the New Israel Fund continues to donate tens of thousands of dollars a year to Combatants for Peace, a self-described anti-occupation" Israeli-Palestinian non-governmental organization. The New Israel Fund increased its funding to Combatants for Peace in 2020, according to the report.

Alon Schwartzer, who heads Im Tirtzu's research and policy division, said: "This is not the New Israel Fund, but the Israel Erasure Fund. The findings of the New Israel Fund's financial reports prove the fund is continuing its support for organizations that act toward the defamation of IDF soldiers, the tying of their hands, and their prosecution at the International Criminal Court at The Hague."

Prof. Phyllis Chesler answers Giulio Meotti''s tough questions
On their own initiative, two internationally well-known authors and publicists, veteran op-ed writers for Arutz Sheva, decided to get to know one another's thoughts on crucial current issues from across the ocean. Here is the result.

Meotti: Question 2) In the UK, a Tory MP was just murdered. A year ago, a French teacher…and the llist goes on. Will the West pay dearly for its appeasement?

Chesler Response: Absolutely. The West has a choice. Build walls up to the very skies and guard them well —or monitor and root out radical Islamic terrorists from afar. Both propositions are hugely expensive. Europe genocidally exterminated their peaceful “Semites,” the Jews, and has reaped a terrible karmic destiny.

They subsequently welcomed millions of non-peaceful other “Semites,” the Muslims, within their borders, without demanding proof that they will become Europeans, without subjecting them to a rigorous Western education and linking all benefits to that program, and without deporting them when they fail to Westernize.

Meotti: Question 3) Joe Biden, Kamala and the others don’t seem much impressed by the news coming from Afghanistan. Is their woke gender women's agenda just a dog whistle?

Chesler Response: President Biden seems to be half-comatose or at least cognitively impaired. The Anyone But Trump crowd found the least qualified candidate, one who could be controlled by the increasingly “left” Democratic Party. Biden and Harris are not paying attention to the consequences of America’s shameful retreat from Afghanistan.

Or to the immigrants entering the United States through our southern border. No one is checking to see if they have COVID or any other communicable disease. No one is checking to see whether they are Jihadists or criminal cartel members.

God help us all.

Florida to stop investing in Ben & Jerry’s parent company over Israel-Palestine boycott
Florida has about $139 million invested in Ben & Jerry's parent Unilever PLC.

Starting Tuesday, Florida will stop buying shares of British consumer goods conglomerate Unilever PLC over a decision by a subsidiary, ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, to stop selling its products in the West Bank and Gaza.

The move comes three months after Gov. Ron DeSantis directed Ash Williams, executive director and chief investment officer of the Florida State Board of Administration, to place Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company on the Florida List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel.

DeSantis set the Tuesday deadline days after Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer sell its products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories at the end of 2022, when its license agreement there expires.

Ben & Jerry’s said it would continue sales in Israel “through a different arrangement.”

The Florida SBA, which manages investments for Florida’s pension and hurricane catastrophe funds, among others the Florida Legislature chooses, has $139 million invested in Unilever, a small portion of the agency’s roughly $200 billion portfolio.

Florida’s law prohibiting SBA investment of companies boycotting Israel bars the state from buying shares of, giving contracts to and dealing with companies “terminating business activities, or taking other actions to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israel-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.”

Under the law, any company designated as “scrutinized” must be given a chance to rescind a boycott of Israel.

Florida is one of 35 U.S. states to pass so-called “anti-BDS” statutes in opposition of a Palestine-led movement calling for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel and Israeli companies.
Digital manipulation: Anti-Israel forces create fake online campaigns
These three cases are all part of a concerted effort by activists to create the false impression that speaking out in Israel’s favor or simply acknowledging its existence will incur the wrath of millions of people worldwide.

Just take the anonymous letter in The Guardian.

While some may view the writers as a powerful movement within Google and Amazon, the overall number of employees in the two companies exceeds 1.4 million. In other words, only roughly 0.027% of their employees signed the letter that the Guardian published.

Why do campaigns like these occur? Why don’t anti-Israel activists and organizations – rarely the bashful type – state their views openly instead of hiding behind smokescreens and internet trolls?

It is simple, these activists know that most people are not dominated by anti-Israel ideals, so they circumvent this obstacle by framing their actions as a grassroots struggle for human rights by concerned citizens.

This phenomenon must be addressed if genuine civil discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or any issue at all, is to thrive on social media. Ensuring that media outlets and humanitarian organizations conduct proper due diligence and vetting when reporting on campaigns like these would be a welcome first step.

While that may not stop these inauthentic campaigns from occasionally popping up, it would do wonders in limiting their effect on the public.

Sunrise DC says sorry for singling out Jewish groups, still opposes Zionism
Days after calling for a rally organizer to remove three Jewish advocacy groups from participating in a rally due to their Zionist beliefs, Sunrise DC, the Washington, DC, affiliate of the national youth-led organization focusing on fighting climate change, issued an apology.

“In our statement we named three Jewish organizations and criticized their positions on Israel, but did not mention other organizations in the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition with similar positions. We apologize unequivocally for this. We now understand the way our action has fueled antisemitism, which benefits white nationalism and political movements that built power by dividing us, and endangers Jewish people drastically,” the group wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

The group had previously pulled out of a voting rights rally because of the participation of the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — all groups that support Israel, which Sunrise DC called a “colonial project.”

“Given our commitment to racial justice, self-governance and indigenous sovereignty, we oppose Zionism and any state that enforces its ideology,” Sunrise DC said in a statement it posted to Twitter October 20.

The Sunrise Movement, the national organization with which Sunrise DC is affiliated, distanced itself from the local group’s statement Friday, calling its stance “unacceptable and antisemitic.” The national group had previously responded vaguely to the local group’s statement, saying it had not reviewed the local group’s statement before it was published.

“To be clear, Sunrise DC’s statement and actions are not in line with our values,” the Sunrise Movement said in a statement Friday. “Singling out Jewish organizations for removal from a coalition, despite others holding similar views, is antisemitic and unacceptable.”

Swedish agency suggests exercise in which students argue Holocaust didn’t happen
Sweden’s National Agency for Education recommended that teachers should make students try to prove that the Holocaust never happened, as part of a push to help them understand conspiracy theories.

The recommendation came in a recently published handbook for high school teachers that the government’s institution in charge of scholastic issues had created, the Aftonbladet daily reported earlier this month.

“Group 1 must find at least three arguments for the case that the Holocaust never happened, using facts and information from the internet. They can also ask others what they believe and why,” the suggested exercise read.

It included a similar example encouraging students to support the argument that the 1969 moon landing was staged. The handbook defined both the moon landing and the Holocaust as “controversial subjects.”

Sweden’s Jewish Central Council and other critics said asking students to consume and engage in Holocaust denial is offensive to victims and has questionable pedagogical value.

“Even if it is well-intentioned, there is a danger in calling the Holocaust controversial,” Aron Verständig, chairman of Sweden’s Jewish Central Council, told Aftonbladet. He called the exercise “bizarre.”

Deutsche Welle Corrects on West Bank Rule, Settlements Legality
CAMERA’s Israel office today prompted correction of two West Bank-related errors in an English-language Deutsche Welle news article. The Oct. 25 article, “Israel announces more than 1,300 homes in West Bank settlements,” had erred:
Israel has exercised full administrative control over the territory, where some 2 million Palestinians live, since the Six Day War of 1967.

In fact, a significant outcome of the Oslo Accords is that Israel no longer has full administrative control of the West Bank. The bilateral Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C. The Palestinian Authority maintains full (civilian and security) control of Area A, which comprises approximately 18 percent of the West Bank, and contains all the large cities where the bulk of the territory’s Palestinian population reside. Area B (22 percent of the West Bank) is divided between Palestinian (civilian) and Israeli (security) administration. The remainder of the West Bank, Area C, is under full Israeli control.

A map previously published in Deutsche Welle accurately shows Areas A and B versus Area C of the West Bank.

In a separate error, the article misleadingly stated as fact: “The settlements are considered illegal under international law.”

Yet, there are experts in international law who dispute this view, among them Prof. Julius Stone and former U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow. In addition, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged in 2019 that “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” reverting to a position earlier voiced by President Reagan. Reagan had said: “As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there — I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal, they’re not illegal,” “Excerpts From Interview With President Reagan Conducted by Five Reporters,” New York Times, Feb. 3, 1981.)
AFP Corrects Egypt Also Borders Gaza
CAMERA’s Israel office yesterday prompted correction of an Agence France Presse article which erroneously stated that Israel surrounds the Gaza Strip on three sides. The Oct. 24 article (1:53 am GMT), “Under Israel’s blockade, Gaza’s fishermen struggle for a catch,” had erred:
For Gaza, fenced in from three sides by Israel since Hamas Islamists took power in 2007, the open sea seems to offer the promise of freedom . . .

Gaza is not fenced in “from three sides by Israel.” While the fence on Gaza’s northern and eastern borders runs along Israel, the fence on the territory’s southern border abuts Egypt – not Israel. (The fourth side – west – is open to the sea. Please see this UN map clearly showing Egypt on the Gaza Strip’s southern border)

In response to CAMERA’s communication to AFP on the same day that the article appeared, the news agency promptly corrected the article. The updated version commendably corrects:
For Gaza, fenced in by Israel and Egypt, and where Hamas Islamists took power in 2007, the open sea seems to offer the promise of freedom — but it is deceptive.
German antisemitism, real and perceived
There were more than 2,000 reported antisemitic incidents in Germany in 2020 and just under 2,000 the previous year. That's around or five or six incidents, some of them involving violence or verbal abuse, every day.

If that number is sobering, bear in mind that it is definitely an underestimate because so many antisemitic outrages go unreported. Studies of this particular problem reveal different motives among victims for not reporting their ordeals. Some don't believe that what they experienced would warrant police time, some feel a sense of shame or embarrassment, and many fear that going to the police would lead to them becoming victims of further reprisals.

Against this background, it's ironic that the most discussed antisemitic incident in Germany of late – at least since the 2019 attack by a neo-Nazi gunman on a synagogue in the city of Halle during Yom Kippur – is one that might not have happened. I say "might" since the police are still investigating the incident, though evidence published in the German media over the last week certainly raises questions over the original complaint of antisemitic discrimination.

The individual at the center of the controversy, Gil Ofarim, is a well-known Jewish musician in Germany whose father is an Israeli. As was reported in myriad news outlets around the world, earlier this month he was in Leipzig, where he'd reserved a room at the city's Westin hotel. As an ashen-faced Ofarim explained in an Instagram video that went viral, moments earlier he had been told by a hotel employee to "pack up your star" if he wanted to get checked in. Throughout the video, he displayed the Star of David pendant around his neck that sparked the employee's alleged remark, telling viewers that he wore it all the time.

The outpouring of sympathy was immediate and generous. Some commentators observed acidly that less than a century ago, Ofarim would have been beaten, arrested and thrown into a concentration camp for not wearing a Star of David on the streets of a German city. The night after Ofarim publicized his account of what happened at the Westin, more than 600 protestors gathered outside the hotel for a spontaneous demonstration against antisemitism.
Montana Man Faces $9.9 Million in Fines for Antisemitic, Racist Robocalls
The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it is seeking $9.9 million from a Montana man who has allegedly made nearly 5,000 robocalls, many of which were xenophobic, racist and threatening, to people across several states.

The massive fine was first imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on January 14. The agency said at the time that the man, 52-year-old Scott Rhodes from Libby, Montana, had targeted specific communities with “harmful pre-recorded messages” starting in 2017.

“The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim’s family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorism case, and threatening language toward a local journalist,” the FCC said in January.

The Justice Department said that hundreds of the calls targeted people in Brooklyn, Iowa after local college student Mollie Tibbetts was murdered. Rhodes allegedly told people that she had been murdered by a “biological hybrid of white and savage Aztec ancestors,” and that if she “could be brought back to life for just one moment,” she would ask the person Rhodes called to “kill them all.”

Officials said more than 2,000 of the robocalls targeted residents of Charlottesville, Virginia during the jury selection for James Alex Fields Jr., the man who killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others when he drove a car through a crowd during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally. The DOJ said that these calls included antisemitic and racist messages about the city’s Jewish mayor and Black police chief, and used fat shaming language about the woman killed during the rally.
'Vax the Jews' banner hung over bridge near Austin JCC
An antisemitic banner was hung over a bridge in Austin, Texas last Saturday afternoon. The sign, which read “Vax the Jews,” was placed near the “Shalom Austin” Jewish Community Center in West Austin.

In response, the Shalom Austin JCC penned a letter addressed to the local community, calling the act "extremely upsetting and unsettling." The Jewish population in Texas is estimated to number over 100,000 people.

The antisemitic attack was initiated by Jon Minadeo II of the self-proclaimed “Goyim Defense League,” a neo-nazi group that has been involved in numerous provocations across the United States – most notably in Jewish population hubs such as California, Florida, and New York. They organize prejudiced protests, harass local Jewish groups, and produce social media content filled with antisemitic tropes.

Among the hateful assaults by Minadeo and his group was a 2019 incident when they dressed as Hasidic Jews and espoused “confessions” and apologies on behalf of the Jewish people, saying they were “sorry” that Jews lied about the Holocaust and were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They also hung antisemitic banners on overpasses in California, Colorado, and Florida, writing similar messages to the one seen in Austin.

“Goyim Defense League” is itself a parody of the Anti-Defamation League’s name, replacing “Anti-Defamation” with “Goyim Defense”, with “Goyim” being a Yiddish and Hebrew term for non-Jews.
Newburgh city councilman faces censure vote after anti-Semitic video surfaces
The Newburgh City Council is set to vote tonight on whether to censure a controversial councilman accused of anti-Semitism.

Calls for Councilman-at-Large Omari Shakur to step aside come after a disturbing rant was caught on camera.

Shakur was responding to a resident's concern about unsafe construction at a row of buildings on Broadway last week when city officials say words were exchanged and a verbal altercation ensued.

The video allegedly shows Shakur swearing and making anti-Semitic remarks.

This is not the first time the city council will have censured Shakur in his less than two years on the council.

He was censured once before for vulgar interactions he had with city police.
Worshippers at Manchester synagogue are sickened as troll hijacks their Zoom service by changing his picture to a swastika and screaming anti-Semitic abuse
Worshippers at a Manchester synagogue were left sickened after a troll hijacked their Zoom service by changing its picture to a swastika and screaming anti-Semitic abuse.

Manchester Reform Synagogue's service, which was being held online, was ambushed by 'violent' and 'shocking' intruders on Friday evening.

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen described the incident as an 'invasion' and said the offenders changed the synagogue's online picture to a swastika so it would pop up on the screens of all in attendance.

She added: 'It was clear that someone was trying to get in through the waiting room, people kept coming in with different names so it was quite clear that something strange was going on.'

'What we didn't realise was that someone was already in.

'About halfway through the service they started to shout. They changed their picture to a swastika and lots of awful racist images were popping up.'

The meeting was being held online as normal on the weekly Jewish holy day when people started trying to enter the call.

Rabbi Steen said the vile incident was 'obviously premeditated'.
AT&T opens new R&D center in Tel Aviv, to focus on cloud solutions
American telecommunications giant announced this week that it would open a new R&D center in Israel and expand its activities to include cloud solutions.

The company said it would recruit 100 new employees for the center in Tel Aviv, to add to an existing team of over 500 at AT&T’s R&D center in Airport City.

AT&T established that center in 2007 after acquiring Israeli video conferencing software company Interwise for $121 million. It is charged with developing software products “in all the company’s strategic areas of activity,” according to the statement, including 5G networks, digital solutions, and advanced products for managing first responder systems worldwide.

Both centers will now also expand their activities to develop cloud technologies, AT&T said.

Cloud computing and related technologies are a booming subsector in the IT industry, driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought entire operations online due to remote work. According to a Fortune Business Insights report, the cloud computing market is projected to reach $791.48 billion by 2028 globally.

AT&T said both the Airport City and the Tel Aviv R&D centers will operate in a hybrid format in which employees work from home some days each week.

The two Israel-based centers are part of AT&T’s global R&D network, which includes about a dozen R&D centers, also known as AT&T Labs, across the United States.
Diabetes reversed in mice for 4 months, after one-time implant from Israeli lab
Using a one-time implant, Israeli scientists have corrected blood sugar levels in diabetic mice for months — and say the procedure may be developed for humans.

The researchers grew healthy tissue in a lab and transplanted it into eight mice with Type 2 diabetes. This tissue acts as a channel for glucose into the body, and blood glucose levels dropped in all the mice by an average of 26 percent. The levels stayed in the normal range for the entire four months of the study, while in control groups there was no drop in blood sugar levels.

“This could potentially, in the future, give human patients with Type 2 diabetes the possibility of having an implant and then going for a few months without taking any medications,” said Rita Beckerman, who conducted the research with Prof. Shulamit Levenberg.

The study, conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is newly peer-reviewed, and published in the journal Science Advances.

Beckerman isolated muscle stem cells from the mice being treated, and modified the cells genetically to make them express a very high quantity of GLUT4 “transporters” in the body.

GLUT4 molecules are responsible for taking insulin-regulated glucose into muscles, especially the skeletal muscle which is responsible for channeling most of the glucose into the blood.
Realizing the legacy of Jonathan Sacks - opinion
Next week, thousands around the world will gather in person or online to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Dr. Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020). His yahrzeit falls on 20 Heshvan, October 25-26.

The erudite and eloquent Rabbi Sacks was a walking sanctification of God’s name, in both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds – among kings, philosophers, theologians, politicians, congregants, and students alike. No one else in recent decades made Judaism more relevant on the world stage.

In his lifetime’s last book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times (published March 2020), Sacks traced the escalating poisonous discourse in Western public life (including the rise of identity politics and extremism) to loss of a shared moral code and the elevation of self-interest over the common good. He argued that the secularization of knowledge, power, economy, and culture over the past 250 years was the root cause of these ills.

He also linked today’s terrible upheavals – addiction to debt and drugs, high depression and suicide rates, child abuse and loneliness, even the growing gap between the superrich and the poor – to the breakdown of family cohesiveness, which for centuries has been associated with religious faith.

“What the secularists forgot,” wrote Sacks, “is that Homo sapiens is a meaning-seeking animal.” Technology, the market, and the liberal democratic state “give us choices, but don’t teach us how to choose. They provide neither identity nor the set of moral sensibilities that are inseparable from identity: loyalty, respect and reverence.”

Sacks’s distaste for the so-called “progressive” or “woke” identity juggernaut of recent years, and the “cancel culture” bulldozer which it uses to violently crush other perspectives – are on display in another book (published last week), and in one of his last major lectures.

The Power of Ideas: Words of Faith and Wisdom (London: Hodder & Stoughton, October 2021) brings together a compelling selection of Sacks’s radio broadcasts, newspaper columns, House of Lords speeches, and significant lectures delivered around the world. Here, Sacks brings his solid grounding in Jewish theology and philosophy to bear on the grand debates underway in modern economics, social policy, psychology, political science, science, art, architecture, and engineering. And he clobbers today’s supposedly liberal social media mobs.


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