Saturday, November 13, 2021

From Ian:

Jews need to be united on a united Jerusalem
This is the time for the entire American-Jewish community to unite to keep Jerusalem united, because Biden’s move is about a lot more than the consulate.

The Abraham Accords came from then-president Donald Trump making clear that there is no daylight between Israel and the US. He emphasized that lack of daylight with every step he took, from renouncing the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal, to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights to formally recognizing united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy.

Reopening the US consulate for the PA would be a destructive step on the way to undoing other moves courageously undertaken by Trump for Israel, America’s closest and most loyal ally. It would be a sign that the Biden administration is purposely creating daylight with Israel again.

It is understandable that the Biden administration would want to harm the Abraham Accords, which were an unprecedented accomplishment initiated by the president’s predecessor from a rival party. But it would be completely short-sighted and would distance Middle East peace after significant progress was finally made.

This move would isolate Israel in the international community and return to the intransigent Palestinian leadership the veto power that enabled them to quash all peace overtures by Democratic and Republican presidents and secretaries of state in the past. It would also harm chances of formally expanding the Abraham Accords to other countries, most notably Saudi Arabia, which was active behind the scenes in efforts to advance Middle East peace during the Trump administration.

The diverse Israeli government, which is divided on most issues, is united in favor of expanding the Abraham Accords, so failing to do so by refocusing diplomatic energies on the Palestinians again would be a tremendous missed opportunity.
Itamar Marcus: UNRWA - the worst thing that ever happened to Palestinians
In a shocking admission of the political agenda behind UNRWA, PA Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani recently told UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini how the PA sees UNRWA in an online article from Al-Quds on October 27. “Majdalani emphasized the necessity of protecting UNRWA not as an institution that provides services to the refugees, but rather because it is a political symbol of the refugees’ right of return,” the article reads.

UNRWA is not intended to help the refugees but to preserve them as refugees serving the PA’s goals. The world saw a tragic example of the PA’s ideology during the Syrian civil war. Palestinians in refugee camps were being killed and Israel offered to allow them into PA areas on the condition that they be taken off the UN refugee lists. Shockingly, Mahmoud Abbas refused. The PA preferred that they be killed as refugees than live as free people in the PA areas. Estimates are that as many as 4,000 camp residents were killed during the fighting.

As a supreme international priority, something must be done to save the 5.7 million victims of UNRWA, and there is a solution. The UNRWA infrastructure must be closed and the administration of all their camps must be transferred to UNHCR – free of the dictates of the PA. UNHCR will be tasked with solving the problem as opposed to UNRWA whose task has been to perpetuate the problem. UNHCR will go to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the PA areas with the mandate to take the chains off the refugees and give them freedom.

UNHCR will use its billions of dollars to train them, create jobs and give them homes in the countries where they were born and lived their entire lives, where they must be granted full citizenship. Countries that refuse to resettle their fellow Arabs must be ostracized by the international community and denied international aid until they agree. Instead of chaining an additional 100,000 new refugees every year, hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions can be resettled every year until all the political refugees are freed.

UNRWA as the PA’s “political symbol” does not fit the world’s values or serve the interests of those suffering in the prisons of UNRWA. Disbanding UNRWA and having UNHCR resettle these chained people is a human rights imperative. If the international community allows UNRWA to continue, by 2030 there will be seven million refugees, and by 2050 probably 10 million or more. Every day another 274 children are born into UNRWA’s 58 prisons. Every year another 100,000 children are denied their freedom. It is immoral to allow UNRWA to exist even one extra day.

1,500-plus rabbis rebuke US for abstention vote on UN resolution targeting Israel
The largest rabbinic public-policy organization in the United States called the Biden administration’s decision to abstain from a U.N. General Assembly draft resolution that targeted Israel “quite disappointing.”

The text, called “Assistance to Palestinian Refugees,” demands “compensation” for descendants of Palestinian refugees who lost property when they fled their homes, as well as an unlimited “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to a sovereign Israel.

Israel would cease being the world’s only Jewish state as a result of the resolution, which is related to the work of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Israel was the sole country that opposed the text, which passed the General Assembly on Tuesday 160-1 with nine abstentions from the United States, Canada, Cameroon, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papa New Guinea and Uruguay.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents more than 1,500 traditional Jewish leaders, said: “This resolution employed a blatantly anti-Semitic double standard, demanding ‘compensation’ for Arabs who left as advised by the genocidal Arab League, but no similar compensation from Arab states for the endemic ethnic cleansing of Jews and confiscation of their property, much less a ‘right of return’ to countries unsafe for Jews to enter.”

“The [Biden] administration abstained on an issue of hate and bigotry,” he added. “This is not moral leadership. The previous administration took the morally correct approach, and we did not expect its position to be so rapidly abandoned.”
Mike Pompeo: Israel has 'duty' to defend itself from Iran absent US support | Global Perspectives

Dani Dayan on what Holocaust taught about extremes and how anti-Semitism persists
In his first visit back to the United States as chairman of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, former Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan seek to impart a sense of unity that he believes is an essential piece in knowledge of the Holocaust and Jewish identity around the world.

Dayan arrive in the United States this week to speak in Sunday’s virtual gala held by the American Society for Yad Vashem on the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht—the massive pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria in November 1938.

“One of the interesting things that I value in Holocaust remembrance that Yad Vashem leads is that it’s one of the things that unites Jews across the ocean,” he said during an interview with JNS while on a train from Washington to New York. “There are many issues that divide us: political issues, religious issues and others, while the remembrance of the Holocaust is one that unites us in our pain, in our grief, and to some extent, also in the lessons we learn from the Shoah. So it is also important, it’s relevant, for the mission that I was very dedicated to when I was consul general in New York, and that is Jewish peoplehood and the unity of the Jewish people.”

Dayan started out his trip in Washington, visiting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and its collection center in Bowie, Md. In New York, he plans to reconnect with Jewish leaders and political acquaintances he got to know in his previous role from 2016 to 2020.

He said that one of Yad Vashem’s missions was to fulfill the obligation to know about what happened in the Holocaust and teach the world the lessons that moral individuals should heed—lessons that are universal.

“One of the quotes that is most moving for me is that the Holocaust [was not] the assassination of 6 million Jews, but is 6 million assassinations of one Jew each. In the Holocaust, 6 million individuals were murdered, and we have an obligation both towards them and towards future generations to know everything about it,” said Dayan. “They expected us when they went to the gas chambers that we will not forget them, and we will strive to know exactly what happened to them.”

The lessons, he said, point to the necessity of an independent, robust and secure Jewish state, as well as the need to forcefully and immediately confront anti-Semitism wherever it is found.
‘People-to-people’ relationships are centerpiece of Abraham Accords’ progress, advocates say
The Abraham Accords garnered headlines in 2020 as landmark normalization deals between the governments of Israel and Arab states. But more than a year later, advocates of the agreements are emphasizing their impact on everyday relationships between people.

During the second week of November, Sharaka—an NGO launched by Israeli, Emirati and Bahraini social entrepreneurs in the aftermath of the agreement’s signing—brought a delegation of young activists, leaders, thinkers and entrepreneurs from the Middle East and North Africa region on a speaking tour of California to promote the accords and a “new model for peace in the Middle East.”

“We were founded to ensure that the governmental agreements of the Abraham Accords are translated to the people-to-people level and create a warm, lasting peace,” Sharaka CEO and co-founder Amit Deri told JNS.

According to Sharaka’s head of communications and global affairs Dan Feferman, many observers were surprised to hear that message during the tour, which featured meetings and events with Jewish community institutions, the Democratic Party, politicians and activists, university and high school students, business and civic leaders, and the media.

“People in the U.S. are more focused on the conflicts, while we in the region are looking for ways to work together and have dialogue,” said Feferman, an Israeli scholar, speaker and podcaster.

Delegation member Hayvi Bouzo, a Syrian-born American journalist, also stressed that the Abraham Accords “represent a different kind of peace—a peace between people.” Although Syria has not normalized ties with Israel, the accords “actually made many more people in Syria come out and talk about wanting to have peace with Israel in a way we haven’t seen before,” she said.
US, Qatar ‘deeply concerned’ about West Bank, Gaza
The United States and Qatar said on Saturday that they remain “deeply concerned” about the West Bank and Gaza and vowed to continue working together to “improve humanitarian and economic conditions for all.”

The two countries also reiterated “the importance of achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” in a joint statement on Saturday following a meeting the previous day between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

The two met in Washington on Friday for the fourth annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue summit where they discussed a range of regional and global affairs including security cooperation, labor and human rights, health and humanitarian assistance, and recent events in Afghanistan.

Qatar agreed to represent the US in Taliban-run Afghanistan following the closure of the American Embassy in Kabul and the withdrawal of all US forces from the country in late August.

Blinken and Al-Thani said Qatar will serve as the US “protecting power” in Afghanistan. The announcement is a clear indication the Biden administration doesn’t intend to reopen the embassy anytime soon after bringing America’s longest-running war to an end after 20 years.

The protecting power agreement means Qatar will set up a US “interests section” within its own embassy in Kabul to handle consular services for American citizens in Afghanistan, deal with routine official communications between Washington and the Taliban government, and assume responsibility for the protection of now-vacated US diplomatic facilities there.
How to make sure the next Gaza operation isn't pointless
Hamas desperately needs money for the stability of its regime. Israel’s central objective should therefore be to force Hamas to deal with its economic needs and to encourage it to abandon war – because armed conflict is Hamas’s bridge to increasing its power base in the West Bank.

War with Israel is what keeps Hamas relevant. Hamas needs casualties and headlines to dominate the Palestinian and Arab arenas, as well as the pro-Palestinian arena worldwide. On the other hand, Hamas being sucked into an Egyptian reconstruction plan serves Israel’s interest.

One must hope that the government in Jerusalem understands these strategic calculations and adopts them as it makes new decisions. The more Gaza is connected to Egypt and the less connected it is to Israel and the West Bank, the better.

This is the Palestinian-Israeli trap. Support for “two states for two peoples” in actuality ends up meaning two Palestinian states.

Should Hamas once against flood Israeli cities with rockets, the government should take a deep, long breath, rely on Iron Dome to deal with the initial attacks, and then launch an open-ended campaign – a campaign of strategic attrition and targeted strikes, that could go on for a year or more, without any declared deadline.

The sell-by date of repeated Israeli intensive operations as a toolkit for dealing with Gaza has expired. Encouraging Hamas to engage in Gaza’s economy and dealing with Egypt, as it gradually melts into Egyptian influence, should be the new Israeli strategic game in town.
Life In Gaza: A Syrian Woman’s Experiences With Hamas And Her Work To Improve Israeli/Palestinian Relations
Eventually, Al-Sharif met people in Gaza who were working to create positive change; they were from the Gaza Youth Committee, a group of Palestinian peace activists working to build a new generation of Palestinian leaders who believe in peace. Al-Sharif immediately became involved and even rose to be the committee's main organizer.

The committee was founded in 2010 by a man named Rami Aman. They have been involved in many projects over the last decade, including putting on plays with Gazans and Israelis over video. They even hosted a bike ride where they and their Israeli counterparts rode bikes along both sides of the Israel/Gaza border. (Aman was arrested and held for 17 days by Hamas for organizing that bike ride.)

To date, their most well-known initiative is what Al-Sharif called "Skype With Your Enemy," small-scale video chats between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. In April 2020, the group hosted a chat that drew more than 200 participants, making it one of their largest crowds.

The topic of conversation was Covid-19 and the situation inside Gaza. Al-Sharif and the youth committee didn't make it secret, even publishing the event on Facebook. But, unfortunately, some people were offended by the idea of Israelis and Palestinians speaking, which sparked outrage, prompting Hamas to arrest Aman, Al-Sharif, and several other Gaza Youth Committee members.

According to the New York Times, the charge was "holding a normalization activity" with Israelis.

Al-Sharif said most of those arrested were jailed for six months; she was one of the "lucky" ones and was released after three. (h/t Zvi)
France marks sixth anniversary of Islamic State terror attacks in Paris
France has marked the sixth anniversary of the night in Paris when Islamic State militants killed 130 people in coordinated strikes against a concert theatre, bars, restaurants and a soccer stadium.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and other officials stood in silence to remember the victims of the attacks on the Stade de France stadium, bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall on Nov. 13, 2015.

Twenty men went on trial on September in connection with the deadliest attack in peacetime France.

Salah Abdeslam, a 32-year old French-Moroccan man, is believed to be the only surviving member of the group suspected of carrying out the attacks after other members blew themselves up or were killed by police during the attack.

The other 19 suspects in the trial stand accused of helping to provide guns and cars or of playing a role in organizing what has been called "France's 9/11".

Most of the accused face life imprisonment if convicted.

IDF temporarily blocks left-wing activists from West Bank Palestinian village
Israeli troops prevented left-wing activists from reaching a Palestinian village in the West Bank for several hours on Saturday, before letting the group proceed to Susiya, the site of a disturbance by right-wing settlers last week.

The soldiers blocked the activists under a 24-hour military legal order that barred some non-resident civilians from entering the area. The rarely used “flattening order” is meant to head off public disturbances and was applied only to the area around the village.

The military said, “In light of the situational assessment and following expectations of a public order disturbance in the south Hebron hills, the brigade commander, in line with his authority, ordered a temporary restriction to the area to those that don’t live there.”

Last weekend, dozens of Israeli settlers entered a playground inside Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills. According to left-wing Israeli activists at the scene, the settlers expelled Palestinian children who were on a playground.

In videos from the scene, the settlers can be seen milling about in the playground, surrounded by the army, with little evidence of a struggle. The settlers reportedly remained in the playground for around half an hour before police officers dispersed them.

Human Rights Violations: European Union Gives Iran's Mullahs Full Impunity
To execute political prisoners, Iran's judiciary accuses defendants of vaguely defined charges labeled as "national security crimes." These "crimes" include moharebeh ("enmity against God"), ifsad fil arz ("sowing corruption on Earth"), and baghi ("armed rebellion").

It is not only the number of executions that is appalling, but also the nature of some of them. Executions have involved minor children, women and individuals from ethnic and religious minority groups. Although Iran has ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the government has made no effort to alter the country's Islamic Penal Code, which allows girls as young as nine to be executed.

In addition, children, women and men are routinely tortured during interrogations and behind bars. They are forced to confess. They are denied access to lawyers and due process. They are denied family visits and medical care.

The ruling mullahs of Iran refuse to halt their executions and human rights violations, or to reform their repressive system, because they feel no pressure from the usually moralizing European Union. So they act with full impunity. The informed silence of the EU therefore makes it a willing accessory to their crimes.

It is beyond repulsive that the EU -- the same EU that incessantly lectures the world about human rights -- not only ignores the Iranian regime's unspeakable human violations, but that it also happily continues to do "business as usual" with the leaders of Iran's cruel and inhuman regime.
IAEA chief says lack of contact with Iran ‘astonishing’
There is an “astonishing” lack of contact between Iran’s new government and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog’s director-general Rafael Grossi told reporters in Vienna on Friday.

“They [Iran] continue to say that they are seeing me soon, but it’s not done yet and until that is done, we will have some doubts,” Grossi said.

He had hoped to go before the IAEA board meeting that starts on November 22 and prior to the resumption of talks on reviving the Iran deal slated for November 29.

The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iranian compliance with the Iran deal, otherwise known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, designed to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

Former US president Donald Trump exited the deal, but President Joe Biden would like to restore it. The deal was originally signed between Tehran and the six world powers: the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Great Britain.

Iran in the last years has halted its compliance with the deal and as of the start of this month, has increased its stockpile of 60% enriched uranium to 25 kilograms.

JPost Editorial: Kashrut made political
The Kof-K kosher certification agency – based in the United States – is seriously considering not renewing Ben & Jerry’s kashrut certificate if the global ice cream company makes good on its plan to boycott West Bank settlements.

“We have told Ben & Jerry’s that we do not know if we will be able to renew our contract,” Rabbi Daniel Senter, chief operating officer of Kof-K, which provides Kosher international certification, told The Jerusalem Post’s Tovah Lazaroff on Thursday.

Senter went on to explain that the kashrut company cannot take away existing certification since the ice cream company has not done anything with the production of the ice cream that would necessitate such a move. What it is considering is not renewing the certification once the current contract ends next year.

Why? Due to Ben & Jerry’s terrible decision to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The parent company Unilever announced earlier this year that it will not renew the production license it has been granting an Israeli manufacturer for decades.

We have written in the past about Ben & Jerry’s decision, how it is foolish and stinks of a double standard. The Vermont-based brand’s decision was upsetting because it was filled with hypocrisy. The move was meant to signal that the ice cream company cares about human rights, but when Ben Cohen – one of the co-founders – was asked by an Axios reporter why the company didn’t boycott other problematic states, he simply shrugged and said it was an interesting question. This is not a person who cares about human rights. This is a person who cares about singling out Israel.

Senter explained that his company also feels it has a social mission, but in this case it is a Jewish one.

“Our entire business is the Jewish community,” Senter said. The best interest of the Kof-K, in this case, “reflects what is in the best interest of Israel and the Jewish community.”
London Stock Exchange asked to downgrade Unilever’s Premium Listing
A joint letter from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and the Zionist Advocacy Center to the LSE’s Regulatory Complaints Department comments that Unilever appears to have a rogue division in the United States known as “Ben & Jerry’s Homemade” which has been structured to evade normal corporate governance practices.

The letter notes that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to engage in a boycott against Israel that expose Unilever to sanctions under various laws in the United States. Unilever has, however, claimed that its agreement acquiring Ben & Jerry’s recognised the right of Ben & Jerry’s independent Board to take such decisions in direct opposition to Unilever.

Although Unilever’s American subsidiary, Conopco, owns all of the shares of Ben & Jerry’s, Conopco waived its rights to choose nearly all of Ben & Jerry’s Board members. The majority of the Board is self-selecting and answerable to nobody. Conopco reserved the right to appoint Ben & Jerry’s CEO, but authority to set important policies was delegated to its unaccountable Board.

The UK Corporate Governance code states:
“For parent companies with a premium listing, the board should ensure that there is adequate co-operation within the group to enable it to discharge its governance responsibilities under the Code effectively. This includes the communication of the parent company’s purpose, values and strategy.”

Unilever’s position does not appear to comply with this requirement and similar requirements expressed in its own Code of Conduct and its Governance Report.

UKLFI also wrote directly to Unilever’s Chief Legal Officer drawing attention to these problems, but pointing out that Unilever could and should insist that the Ben & Jerry’s Board comply with Unilever’s Code of Business Conduct, as required by the acquisition agreement. This requires full compliance with the laws in force in the places where Unilever subsidiaries trade.

Unilever’s share price has fallen some 11% since Ben & Jerry’s announced its planned boycott, reducing its market capitalisation by over £11 billion. The New York Post has now reported that activist investor, Michael Ashner of Winthrop Capital Partners, has taken a stake in Unilever and is asking US regulators to look into possible violations by the company of its disclosure obligations in failing to report the material risks to its business and valuation arising from Ben & Jerry’s BDS plans.

BBC again ignores a story that conflicts its narrative on medical permits
The ISA reported that Kassab first entered Israel in January 2020 on a humanitarian permit to accompany his sick mother to medical treatment in PA controlled territory but that after the treatment he remained in Israel illegally.

In the past we have noted the BBC’s repeated failure to report stories which explain why counter-terrorism measures employed by Israel, including medical travel permits, are necessary. The corporation’s chosen narrative on that topic was expressed by BBC Radio 4’s Mishal Husain as follows in 2019:

“The fact remains that healthcare restrictions are being used to dehumanise the Palestinian people…”

Sadly for BBC audiences, cases of abuse of medical travel permits for the purpose of terrorism such as this one are routinely ignored by the corporation’s journalists, meaning that their understanding of why Israel has to implement such measures is deliberately compromised.
‘Death to Jews,’ Polish nationalists shout at rally while burning book about Jews in Poland
Polish nationalists shouted “death to Jews” as they burned a book representing a historic pact protecting the rights of Poland’s Jews.

The book burning Thursday at a rally in Kalisz, a city of about 100,000 inhabitants situated 120 miles southwest of Warsaw, was part of a series of nationalist events on Nov. 11, National Independence Day, which is the anniversary of when Poland regained its sovereignty in 1918.

Videos and eyewitness accounts on social media show that Wojciech Olszański, a far-right activist, lit a red-covered book that was meant to symbolize the Statute of Kalisz. The document issued in 1264 by Prince Bolesław the Pious regulated the legal status of Jews living in Poland and afforded some protection through penalizing attacks on them. The statute served as the legal foundation for relations between non-Jews and Jews in Poland for centuries later.

Olszański poured a flammable liquid on the book that had been skewered on a sharp metal object, and lit the book on fire as the crowd cheered and shouted, “Death to Jews.” Some also chanted: “No to Polin, yes to Poland.” “Polin” is both the Hebrew-language name for Poland and the name of the main Jewish museum in Warsaw.

“This is a scary and symbolically important event,” said Rafal Pankowski, a leader of Poland’s Never Again anti-racism group. He compared the rally to the burning of books in Nazi Germany, including on the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938. The pogroms’ 83rd anniversary was Wednesday. “Having monitored antisemitism for more than 25 years, I have never seen anything like that,” Pankowski told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Police are studying the footage, the PAP news agency reported.

“These pictures send shivers down the spine,” Katharina Von Schnurbein, the European Union coordinator for fighting antisemitism, wrote on Twitter.

Other large nationalist events took place across major Polish cities in the past few days. One of the main themes in the marches concerned the current crisis in relations between Belarus and Poland. In recent days, Belarus’ dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, has been encouraging immigrants to cross from his country into Poland and the European Union, allegedly to punish Poland and other countries for harboring Belarussian dissidents.

Jewish Man Assaulted in Antisemitic Attack in Crown Heights
A Jewish man was assaulted and called a "dirty Jew" by a group of 5 men in Crown Heights Thursday evening, NYPD hate crimes is investigating.

A Jewish man was assaulted by a group of 5 men while walking on the street in Crown Heights on Thursday evening in what police are investigating as a possible bias incident.

The incident occurred at approximately 8:15 pm when the victim, a 25-year-old visibly Jewish man wearing traditional Jewish clothing, was walking on Empire Boulevard towards Albany Avenue.

5 Black males, approximately 5’10—6’0 feet tall and wearing backpacks, approached the victim without prior interaction, police said. One of them punched the victim in the face, knocking his glasses to the ground, and calling out to him, “you dirty Jew.”

The attackers fled westbound on Empire Boulevard, turning on Albany Avenue. The victim lost sight of them on Montgomery Street, he told police.

The victim’s injuries were not serious, and he was treated by EMS at the 71st Precinct.

NY State Police Investigate After Man Tells Town Planning Meeting of Desire to Run Over Jewish Residents of Rockland County With His Car
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday directed the NY State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate reports of violently antisemitic rhetoric heard at a town planning meeting earlier this week in Rockland County.

“I have directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force and the New York State Division of Human Rights to assist local leaders responding to this incident,” Hochul tweeted on Friday.

“Hateful, antisemitic speech will not be tolerated,” she continued. “We will do everything we can to protect our communities from this abuse.”

The incident in question took place on Wednesday night at a Planning Board meeting in Haverstraw, Rockland County, that discussed the growing Orthodox Jewish community in the area.

One speaker — identified by an antisemitism watchdog group as local resident Nick Collela — was abruptly cut off by the chair after expressing a desire to run over his Jewish neighbors with his car.

Collela remarked that if he happened to hit an individual “from a certain sect of people” with his vehicle, “of course, I’m gonna back over them again.”

In response, the chair told him, “Ok, sir, your time is up. Please go and sit down.” As Colella refused to budge from the podium, the chair said, “No, no, you’re done.” When Collela protested “I’m not done,” another councillor intervened, telling him, “You’re finished right now. Sit down. I’ll call you later.”
Report: Australian Vaccine-Mandate Protesters Compare State Government to Nazis
Several thousand people rallied in Melbourne against new vaccination mandates on Saturday, with a few comparing the state government to Nazis and calling for violence against politicians, local media said.

In Australia, where 83% of people aged 16 and above have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus, nationwide vaccinations are voluntary. But states have mandated vaccinations for many occupations and barred the unvaccinated from activities such as dining out and concerts.

But a reporter at The Age, a local outlet, posted video on Twitter of a protester carrying a mock gallows with three nooses hanging from it, and the newspaper showed a protester carrying a poster depicting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews with a Hitler mustache and the hashtag #DictatorDan.

Van Gogh stolen from Rothschilds by Nazis sells for record price at auction
A watercolor by Vincent van Gogh that was seized by the Nazis during World War II sold at auction in New York on Thursday for $35.9 million, exceeding its estimate, to become the most expensive Van Gogh watercolor painting.

The 1888 “Wheatstacks” (Meules de blé) was one of several works painted in the final years of Van Gogh’s life that fetched a combined $150 million at a Christie’s Impressionist auction in New York, while a Gustave Caillebotte oil on canvas smashed records for the French artist.

The paintings were part of the Cox Collection of Impressionist art, named for Texas businessman Ed Cox who died in 2020 aged 99.

“Wheatstacks” was included in the auction after Christie’s facilitated negotiations between the Texas oilman’s heirs who owned it and the heirs of two Jewish art collectors who owned it at different times before it was looted by the Nazis. Details of the settlement are confidential, a Christie’s spokesperson said.

“Wheatstacks” was reportedly purchased by London’s Beaumont Nathan Art Advisory.

More than 20 pieces spanning Impressionist history — also including works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Berthe Morisot — brought in a total of $332 million at the auction, which took place at the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles purchased Caillebotte’s “Young Man at His Window” for $53 million — more than double the previous record set by the artist’s painting “Rising Road,” which sold for $22 million in 2019.
UK’s duchess of Cambridge opens new Holocaust exhibit at Imperial War Museum
The Duchess of Cambridge has been reunited with Holocaust survivors Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank at an exhibition of photographs of survivors and refugees – including two she took of the pair as part of a Jewish News project.

The future Queen chatted with the survivors at the Imperial War Museum, nearly two years after she photographed them to kick off an initiative to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Since then, a dozen leading photographers around the country have captured images of some of Britain’s last survivors, often alongside their children and grandchildren, for the exhibit.

The exhibition – designed to celebrate those who built new lives in the UK – was brought to life by a partnership between this newspaper, The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Royal Photographic Society, Dangoor Education and IWM, where it will remain until January when it will go on a national tour.

Among those Kate met was Yvonne and Steven, who she had previously described as two of the most “life-affirming people she’s ever met”. While Covid precautions meant she kept a one metre distance from most, she couldn’t help but hug a thrilled Steven. The 86-year-old survivor of several camps, who was photographed with his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie by the Duchess in the style of Vermeer, told Jewish News: “I’ve never been hugged by a future Queen before. She was so warm and, like two years ago, wanted to hear my story.” The Duchess’ portrait featured on the JN front page

Trixie, 15, added: “My grandpa tells his story in local schools but the Duchess being here means more people will know what happened. She was so cool.”
Life on ‘Mars’: Turning Israel’s Negev Desert Into a Slice of the Red Planet
As a microbiologist, public health professional, PhD student, and a mother of three girls, Anika Mehlis wears more hats than most.

But in her free time, Mehlis also dons a helmet, as a so-called “analog astronaut” — and recently wrapped a 21-day research mission in Israel’s Negev desert to simulate the harsh conditions on Mars.

“I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up — and I kind of still don’t,” Mehlis told The Algemeiner in an interview. “I am really curious, and I like to learn new things. So that’s what I’m always trying to do.”

Over the years, Mehlis said she shared her mother’s interest in astronomy, and enthusiastically tracked her father’s newspaper clippings of the Apollo moon landings.

When she spotted a local news article in 2018 about the Austrian Space Forum recruiting for a new class of analog astronauts — who participate in Earthly missions that help scientists prepare for missions to space — Mehlis didn’t think twice. She applied, and was selected as the only German, female astronaut on the team.

“Apart from the academic expertise, languages and physical fitness, soft skills also play an important role in the selection,” Mehlis said. “You have to be a lot of things in one person.”

“You need to be able to work in a team, cope well with stress, lead people, take charge or make decisions — but also know when it’s time to step back and let somebody else take the lead, if their expertise is needed in that moment,” she added.
After Surfside tragedy, US team visits Israel to develop joint rescue doctrine
After working closely together in the rubble of the residential building that collapsed in Florida in June, a delegation of American firefighters recently joined IDF rescuers for five days of training and learning in Israel.

Though the fifteen US firefighters and five Home Front Command officers spent days together searching for survivors and bodies in Surfside, they were not able to fully connect amid the tragedy and difficult work conditions.

“During the work in Surfside, we worked with gas masks and goggles on, and we couldn’t see who we were working with on the other side,” reflected the IDF’s Lt. Yuval Klein. “Everyone was covered from head to toe. Only here in Israel did we finally have the opportunity to close the circle and get to know the heroic firefighters who worked shoulder to shoulder with us in Miami.”

Earlier this month the US team — from Florida, Ohio and Virginia — spent three days studying and conducting a rescue exercise with their IDF hosts, and two days of travel to understand Israel and its people.

The June 24 building collapse killed 98 people, among them many members of the Jewish community.

The idea to bring the American responders to Israel arose when the Israelis were in Surfside, explained Col. Golan Vach, commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit, when both sides understood that they had much to learn from their partners.
Israeli filmmaker tells the story of her family's Zionist history
When aspiring filmmaker Michal Weits enrolled in the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School in 2007 she never dreamed of becoming a historian. Nor did she expect her first-year assignment to write a film proposal would result in a 14-year odyssey culminating in becoming a finalist for the 2021 Ophir Award (Israel’s Academy Awards) for best full-length documentary.

That documentary, Blue Box, is titled in recognition of the ubiquitous Jewish National Fund blue-and-white metallic pushka found in nearly every Diaspora home for decades dating back to pre-state Israel.

The proposal that began as a loving look at her great-grandfather’s seminal role in the Zionist enterprise resulted in a film that documents both the acquisition of land for a Jewish state and activities that would ensure that displaced Arabs/Palestinians would not have homes to which to return after the 1948 War of Independence.

Weits’s great-grandfather Joseph Weitz, the family patriarch, was intimately involved in the vastly successful JNF campaign to plant forests and acquire land for settlements to “reclaim the Land of Israel,” fulfilling the Zionist vision of establishing a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

JNF forests were planned, planted and thrived where Palestinian villages had once stood, by design of “Grandpa Weitz,” according to Weits’s research presented in Blue Box.

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