Saturday, November 20, 2021

From Ian:

Jews get to define antisemitism
As the late great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks often discussed, at its core, antisemitism is a conspiracy theory. Conspiracies about Jews or Jewish groups conspiring to harm others through nefarious means are a central feature of antisemitism going back centuries. Here, the argument that IHRA is wrong and not designed to try and stem the rising tide of antisemitism, and is instead part of an effort to stifle free speech, is itself an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

As for the claim that adopting the definition of antisemitism supported by almost all Jews and Jewish institutions will somehow increase anti-Arab or anti-Muslim hate, it is hard to imagine a bigger red herring. There is nothing in the IHRA definition that even refers to Arabs or Islam, nor should it. Sadly, Jew-hatred and Jew-haters come in all stripes. No one group or faith owns a monopoly on the oldest form of bigotry. Moreover, if people are promoting anti-Arab hate or anti-Muslim hate, that should be addressed too, though not at the expense of addressing by far the per capita No. 1 hate crime in America, and certainly not by “all lives mattering” Jew-hatred.

Lastly, and perhaps most insulting, is the argument that because a tiny minority of Jewish groups want a narrower definition for antisemitism, the IHRA definition should be disregarded. This is tokenism. It is equivalent to far-right members of a largely White group, like the Proud Boys, asking for a school board to more narrowly define anti-Black racism and to ignore endorsements for the broader definition supported by the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Rainbow Coalition, etc., as well the endorsement of every predominately African American church in the city — based on the argument that Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who is Black, agrees with the Proud Boys.

This is the chutzpah of the arguments being made by those who wish to exclude almost all Jews and mainstream Jewish organizations from defining antisemitism. Sadly, while it does require chutzpah to make these arguments, it is not surprising that those who want to demonize what polls have shown are at least 8 out of 10 U.S. and Israeli Jews (who support, care about and identify with Israel) also want to exclude their brand of Jew-hatred from the definition of antisemitism. What is surprising is how many people give credence to such arguments to those telling Jews they don’t get to define Jew-hatred. It would not be tolerated for anti-Asian hate, anti-Muslim hate or anti-Black hate. And it shouldn’t be tolerated for antisemitism. Not for one second.


JPost Editorial: Goldreich crossed a red line by calling for boycott
The scientist’s lawyer, Michael Sfard, called the decision "a death blow on the prestige of the Israel Prize and shows that an award that should be given for professional achievements is in fact also an award for avoiding criticism of government policy."

The Weizmann Institute agreed that the ban was excessive, issuing a statement that said, “In a democratic society, the principle of freedom of expression must be preserved as a supreme principle, and political statements should not be a consideration in the decision regarding the recipients of the Israel Prize, adding that ”the only consideration for its award should have been research excellence.”

By that criteria, Goldreich’s nomination and acceptance of the Israel Prize should be upheld. However, it’s not so simple when other considerations are brought into play.

Is a government obligated to grant an award to a citizen who works for a partially state-funded institution and has called for a boycott of another institution and his colleagues, with no consideration for “research excellence”?

Freedom of academia and freedom of speech are two central cornerstones of any democracy. Being able to criticize the policies of your government is also a vital element of that process. But calling for a boycott is another matter.

Although it’s in the commercial - and not academic - sphere, we’ve seen the huge reaction to the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling their ice cream in Israeli West Bank settlements. That’s just one of many examples of efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its presence in the West Bank, under the umbrella of the BDS movement.

Israelis are certainly free to support and be involved in such an effort. But awarding an Israel Prize and giving a soapbox to someone who bears those beliefs is another matter. Believing that Israel should give up the West Bank should obviously not preclude being awarded the highest honor by the state. Calling for the boycott of professional colleagues, however, is a red line that shouldn’t be crossed
It’s time to speak out for China’s beleaguered Jews
Since Jews are not an officially recognized minority group in China and Judaism is not accorded the status of an official religion, the question of Kaifeng Jewry’s status is a sensitive one for the Communist regime, which views them as full-fledged Han Chinese.

Nonetheless, it should be clear that in a country of over 1.4 billion people, a few hundred Jewish descendants in Kaifeng hardly pose a threat to China’s social or political order.

And yet, despite the close ties that have developed between Israel and China, the Jewish state has done virtually nothing to protest the treatment of Kaifeng’s Jews. As far as is known, the Israeli embassy in Beijing does not reach out to the community nor does it seek to plead their cause with the Chinese regime.

And the same holds true for the American Jewish leadership, which has remained deafeningly silent over the years.

This cannot be allowed to continue. We cannot and must not abandon the Kaifeng Jews or sacrifice them on the altar of Chinese economic power. Many of them are doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances to reconnect with their Jewish heritage. But under the watchful eyes of the Communists, who monitor their activities and intimidate them, Kaifeng’s Jews and their history are slowly and inexorably being snuffed out.

In its discussion of Hanukkah, the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat 21b says that the mitzvah is to place the lights, “at the entrance to one’s house outside,” but it also states that, “in times of danger, one lights inside and that is sufficient.”

Sadly, unless the State of Israel and world Jewry speak up with a loud and clear voice and protest the treatment of Kaifeng’s Jews, they will be forced to kindle the Hanukkah candles behind shrouded curtains and locked doors, for they are truly living in “times of danger.”


Pentagon Chief Seeks to Reassure Concerned Middle East Allies
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sought on Saturday to reassure allies in the Middle East that President Joe Biden’s administration was committed to the region despite Washington increasingly turning its attention towards countering China.

It was unclear how much impact Austin’s speech would have with Washington’s allies in the Middle East, since it was not backed by any announcements of further deployments or new weapon sales in the region.

Gulf Arab states, heavily reliant on the US military umbrella, have expressed uncertainty about Biden’s focus on the region, especially after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. They are now closely watching efforts to revive a global-powers nuclear pact with Iran.

In a speech in Bahrain during a trip to the Gulf, Austin acknowledged concern in the region and globally that the United States was solely focused on China’s challenge.

“Let’s be clear: America’s commitment to security in the Middle East is strong and sure,” Austin said.

He said the United States was committed to countering Iran, even as Washington works to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

“We remain committed to a diplomatic outcome of the nuclear issue. But if Iran isn’t willing to engage seriously, then we will look at all the options necessary to keep the United States secure,” Austin said.
Seth Frantzman: Israel’s Syria policy could be coming to new crossroads
WE NEED to pause and unpack these narratives. The first report is that Iran chose to attack a US garrison in Syria to get back at Israel. This was supposedly because it feared attacking the Jewish state directly, but believed it could use plausible deniability to attack the US. The second report claims that the Syrian regime was able to get the Iranian commander who plotted the attack to be removed.

So the message is not just about the Syrian regime's power and Iran's reduced power, but also a quiet message that somehow the Syrian regime can prevent attacks on the US and Israel because the ones on the US garrison were reputed to be related to Iran wanting to strike the US in response to an Israeli action.

Whether any of this actually happened is unclear. What is clear is that reports and officials want to present this message, even if there are contrasting narratives. What matters at the end of the day is that the overall trend of events in Syria is shifting.

The messaging alone may be shifting or there may be an actual shift, but when it comes to perceptions and the Middle East, those perceptions also matter. That means the regime wants to be portrayed as rolling back Iran but that Tehran wants to strike the US in Iraq and Syria.

It is also known that an Iranian drone was flown into Israeli airspace from Iraq in May during the Israel-Hamas conflict. That means pro-Iranian groups in Iraq can still threaten Israel. But the main issue overall is that the situation in Syria may be shifting.
Daniel Pipes: Will Islam survive Islamism?
The Islamist movement, which seeks to apply medieval Islamic laws and build a worldwide caliphate, has expanded massively in the past half-century. But it now faces a significant and growing counter-movement, especially in Muslim-majority countries. Growing numbers of Muslims, spurred by shocks like the fall of Kabul, fear and reject this radical version of Islam. Awareness of the anti-Islamist surge has been largely limited to those directly involved but it deserves to be much better known.

Anti-Islamism comprises four complementary trends. Going from quietest to most radical, they are: moderate Islam, irreligiosity, apostasy, and conversion to other religions. All have an international presence but, for illustrative purposes, I shall focus in each case on a key Middle Eastern country: moderate Islam in Egypt, irreligiosity in Turkey, atheism in Saudi Arabia, and conversion in Iran.

Moderation: Husni Mubarak's 30-year police state so consistently accommodated Islamists that Egyptians dared not oppose them. His fall from power in 2011 finally permitted an open expression of views, which the one-year Islamist rule of Mohamed Morsi further galvanized. The results have been hyperbolically anti-Islamist, as seen by street attacks on Muslim Brotherhood-appearing men, by women discarding the hijab, and the immense popularity of scathingly anti-Islamist figures such as Islam al-Behairy, Ibrahim Issa, Mukhtar Jom'ah, Khaled Montaser, and Abdallah Nasr. Even President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former Islamist sympathizer, has accommodated these moderate sentiments.

Irreligiosity: Turkey's Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has dominated the country's politics since 2002 with the goal of raising a "pious generation." But younger Turks are adopting non-Islamic ways. Survey research by Volkan Ertit found the sacred having less influence regarding such matters as belief in supernatural beings, clothing that reveals body shape, premarital flirtation, non-marital sex, and homosexuality. A government report documented the appeal of deism among religious school students. A 2012 WIN/Gallup survey found that "Not religious" persons make up 73 percent of Turkey's population (the highest of 57 countries surveyed).
UK’s ban on Hamas said to be significant blow to funding for terror group
Highlighting the effects of the new law, a Daily Mail headline Friday on the imminent ban read: “Jeremy Corbyn faces 10 years in jail if he meets Hamas ‘friends’ again.”

Israel welcomed the move. Bennett praised the decision, saying that there was no distinction between the terror group’s political leaders and its armed wing.

“Hamas is a terror organization, plain and simple. The ‘political wing’ enables its military activity. The same terrorists — only in suits,” Bennett tweeted.

Explaining the decision, Patel wrote that Hamas “has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”

“We’ve taken the view that we can no longer disaggregate the sort of military and political side,” she said, according to The Guardian. “It’s based upon a wide range of intelligence, information and also links to terrorism. The severity of that speaks for itself.”

The terror group did not dispute Patel’s claim. Instead, Hamas responded by claiming that violent resistance against Israel was legitimate under international law.

“Resisting occupation, by any available means, including armed resistance, is a right guaranteed to peoples under occupation in international law. It is the occupation that is terrorism,” Hamas said.

“Our Palestinian people, and behind them the Arab and Islamic nations and all the free people of the world, are on their way to freedom and the return [to Israel], no matter what sacrifices that might entail,” Hamas concluded.


British move against Hamas threatens unity, Palestinians say
The British government’s decision to outlaw Hamas as a terrorist organization will make it more difficult for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to form a Palestinian national unity government, Palestinian sources said on Saturday.

The decision is likely to backfire, increasing Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims, the sources said.

On the other hand, there’s also a possibility the decision will increase pressure on the Hamas leadership to display more flexibility in its policies and actions, the sources added.

In recent weeks, reports have surfaced in a number of Arab and Western media outlets claiming the US administration, Egypt and other parties were working toward persuading the Palestinians to end their differences and form a unity government.

The reports referred specifically to the ongoing dispute between Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and Hamas – a dispute that has effectively separated the West Bank from the Gaza Strip since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control of the coastal enclave.

“The British move complicates matters for the Palestinian leadership and President Abbas,” said a Palestinian official in Ramallah. “It’s now more difficult to talk about a unity government with Hamas when its political leaders have been branded terrorists.”

But it was Abbas who in 2007 issued an order to outlaw Hamas and its “armed militias.”


Ruthie Blum: Why is an Israeli minister fundraising for the Palestinians?
IN OTHER words, any financial woes suffered by those Palestinians who prefer to put food on the table without having to spill Jewish blood for the privilege were and still are out of luck. This inconvenient reality isn’t something that Frej and his ilk like to highlight, of course. No, they’re still stuck, literally and figuratively, in Oslo-land.

Yet, as Israel’s regional cooperation minister, he knows that he can’t simply ignore the conundrum, certainly not while engaging in fundraising for an entity that makes no bones about its fiscal emphases. His way around the predicament was to tell Liebskind and Liberman that he believes the Palestinians are on the verge of undergoing a genuine change in approach.

“They’re speaking about it in a very transparent and matter-of-fact manner,” he said, presenting no evidence to support the assertion, because there isn’t any. On the contrary, the PA-controlled press and education system are as filled with anti-Zionism, antisemitism and incitement to violence as ever.

Nevertheless, Frej took to Twitter at the conclusion of the conference to reiterate his enthusiasm about the “sense of optimism in the air.” Displaying a group photo, he wrote that he was “proud to have attended the event, alongside its host, Foreign Minister Huitfeldt, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs [Soltan bin Saad] al-Muraikhi, US [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs] Hady Amr and others.”

THAT FREJ fits right in with this collection of Palestinian apologists is a testament to the dangerous direction in which the Israel government is headed. Fluency in Arabic may be an asset for the politician with the “regional cooperation” portfolio, but it shouldn’t be employed in the service of a sworn enemy, which the PA decidedly is.

Shtayyeh, chumming it up with Frej at the AHLC, has been as clear as Abbas about Palestinian attitudes towards the Jewish state, whose capital the PA claims for itself. As Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported, on the eve of the PA prime minister’s trip to Norway, he accused Israel of working to Judaize Jerusalem through “annexation, ethnic cleansing and racism,” and vowed that the Palestinians would never cede “one inch of our land and Arab city.”
PA popularity among Palestinians at an all-time low
In the past week, the Palestinians marked three “historic” events.

First, the 17th anniversary of the death of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004. Second, the 33rd anniversary of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, proclaimed by Arafat on November 15, 1988, in Algiers. Third, the birthday of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who turned 86, also on November 15.

The first two occasions were marked with relatively small rallies, most of which were held in the West Bank. Abbas’s birthday, however, went unnoticed. His aides pointed out that he is not in the habit of celebrating his birthday, at least not in public.

In keeping with past practice, Abbas marked the anniversary of Arafat’s death and the Palestinian Declaration of Independence by laying a wreath on the tomb of his predecessor in Ramallah and reiterating his commitment to the formation of a Palestinian unity government, while condemning Israel for allegedly undermining the two-state solution and “killing innocent children.”

In the past week, the mood in Abbas’s Mukata presidential compound in Ramallah was anything but upbeat.

The PA is facing an acute financial crisis, mainly as a result of a sharp decline in financial aid from the international community.

The PA says that the crisis is also the result of Israel’s policy of deducting millions of shekels from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. The deductions are equivalent to the amount of money the PA pays to families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis. Palestinian officials say that the financial crisis is one of the worst the PA has faced in recent years.


Why the Palestinian Authority Won’t Fight Terrorists
The Palestinian Authority today has the largest per-capita police force in the world. Yet terrorists are so plentiful, and so well-armed, in PA territory that the Israeli army has to practice for the likely possibility that those terrorists will soon be kidnapping Israelis.

Not only that, the Israeli exercises were based on the assumption that the hostages will be held “in Palestinian villages” and that the Israeli commandos searching for them will encounter “violent rioting.”

How is that possible? Jewish State Department officials keep telling us that most Palestinian Arabs are moderate and peaceful. The masses supposedly are against terrorism. Yet the Israeli authorities expect that these “moderate” Arabs will serve as hosts for hostage-takers and will carry out murderous mob violence against any Israelis who try to intervene.

I wonder if that might have anything to do with the PA using its media and schools to raise an entire generation of young Arabs to hate Jews and glorify anti-Jewish violence.

According to the Oslo agreement, the PA security forces are required to disband terrorist groups, seize their weapons, arrest the terrorists and extradite them to Israel for prosecution. They haven’t done any of that.

Yes, the PA security forces know the terrain. And yes, they know where the weapons depots and safe houses and training sites are located. They could smash the terrorist groups if they wanted to. They just don’t want to.

As far as the PA is concerned, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the rest are their brothers. Occasionally quarrelsome, occasionally rivalrous. But brothers nonetheless. And the Israelis are their enemies, peace agreement or no peace agreement.

The implication dares not be ignored. Today, Israel is carrying out its anti-kidnapping drills in Judea and Samaria. If the Israelis had listened to the advice of the U.S. State Department and J Street — and had withdrawn to the narrow pre-1967 armistice lines — then those kidnapping drills would be taking place in downtown Tel Aviv. And so would the kidnappings.
Palestinian Authority officers clash with Jenin gunmen
Armed clashes erupted on Friday night between Palestinian Authority security forces and several gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.

The clashes began shortly after the security officers entered the camp to arrest Palestinians wanted by the PA for possession of illegal weapons and involvement in criminal activities, said a senior Palestinian security source.

The raid on the Jenin refugee camp, a traditional stronghold for armed groups belonging to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the ruling Fatah faction, came less than a week after PA President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the commanders of all the branches of the security forces in the Jenin area.

Abbas’s move came after thousands of Palestinians, including Hamas and PIJ gunmen, participated in the funeral of Wasfi Kabaha, a senior Hamas official from Jenin who recently died of COVID-19 complications.

The large turnout at the funeral and the appearance in public of Hamas and PIJ gunmen on the streets of Jenin were seen by many Palestinians as a direct and major challenge to Abbas and the PA. In addition, they were also seen as an indication that the PA was continuing to lose control of the situation in the West Bank, especially in Jenin and Hebron.

Kamal Abu al-Rub, deputy governor of the Jenin area, said in an interview with a local Palestinian radio station that the funeral was a “dangerous indication” because of the large turnout.

Hamas leaders and officials, for their part, said that the mass funeral showed that their Gaza-based group enjoys huge popularity among Palestinians in the West Bank.
Michael Oren: Why Israel may soon attack Iran
Yet Iran does not have to possess the bomb to damage Israel irreparably. Threshold capacity provides Iranian-backed terrorists with a nuclear umbrella that can open and shield them from retaliation. Responding to rocket attacks from Hezbollah or Hamas, Israel will be hobbled by the fear of an Iranian breakout. Defending the country will be dangerously more difficult.

Such fears are much less pronounced in the United States, a country situated far from Iran and not threatened with national destruction – a United States which, moreover, has no desire to become embroiled in another overseas conflict. For that reason, the Biden Administration pledges to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but not to prevent Iran from attaining the ability to make them. For that reason, President Biden vows to consider “other options” should Iran not return to the negotiating table but does not echo President Obama’s warnings of “all options are on the table,” including a military strike.

Israelis view this policy with profound skepticism. A threshold Iran will drive other Middle Eastern states to attempt to achieve the same capability, creating a highly unstable region teetering on a nuclear threshold. Together with its continuing efforts to produce a deliverable warhead – amply documented by the nuclear archive Israel’s Mossad secreted out of Teheran – Iran has developed intercontinental ballistic missiles that can already hit central Europe and will eventually reach the North American coast. Global security will be undermined.

For Israel, though, the timetable for action is much shorter, and while our military capabilities cannot equal America’s, we do have the means to defend ourselves. And though Israel has no expectations of US military intervention, we trust that the United States will provide us with the logistical, diplomatic and legal assistance we need and stand by all its Middle Eastern allies. Doing so will not only deal a decisive blow to Iran’s nuclear ambitions but will also restore America’s regional prestige.

As the nuclear talks resume, Israel will be watching to see if Iran exploits them to camouflage its march toward threshold capability. If so, irrespective of the international backlash, Israel will be forced to act. Recalling that both he and the Secretary of State are the sons of Holocaust survivors, Lapid stressed the need for nations to protect themselves against evil, and especially against an Iran sworn to destroy the Jewish state. “Israel reserves the right to act at any given moment, in any way,” he said. America, and the world, should listen.
Iran's Mullahs to Obtain Major Concessions from Biden Admin and EU?
The Biden administration has already caved in to the mullahs' demands. It announced not only that it is willing to lift nuclear-related sanctions, but also that it is considering lifting non-nuclear related sanctions. The administration also proceeded to revoke the designation of the Houthis, an Iran-backed terror group, as an officially-designated terrorist organization.

"The Biden administration appears to be using loopholes when dealing with the Iranian regime.... If the Biden administration is involved in transferring funds to Iran, Congress and the American people must be informed. Biden administration officials continue to deflect and refuse to answer questions from members of Congress regarding this issue. I want answers. " — U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, March 25, 2021.

The Biden administration and the EU would do well to remember that with every concession they give the Islamic Republic, they are not furthering peace in the region; they are instead empowering and emboldening a rapacious regime.
US defense chief: If Iran not serious about nuclear talks, we’ll look at all options
America’s top defense official vowed Saturday to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and to counter its “dangerous use” of suicide drones in the Mideast, as negotiations remain stalled over Tehran’s tattered atomic deal with world powers.

United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comments in Bahrain at the annual Manama Dialogue appeared aimed at reassuring America’s Gulf Arab allies and Israel, as the Biden administration tries to revive the nuclear deal which limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

“The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. And we remain committed to a diplomatic outcome of the nuclear issue,” Austin told an event put on by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“But if Iran isn’t willing to engage seriously, then we will look at all of the options necessary to keep the United States secure,” he said.

“Iran should be under no illusion that it will manage to undermine the relationship between the US and other countries in the region,” Austin said, according to the Walla news site.

Austin’s remarks come after the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan raised concerns about America’s commitment to the Middle East, as defense officials say they want to pivot forces to counter perceived challenges from China and Russia.


Iran, worst hit by COVID in region, says half its population fully vaccinated
Iran announced Saturday it has now fully vaccinated 44 million people, more than half of its population of 85 million. The country has been hit the worst by the pandemic in the Middle East.

The Iranian Health Ministry said that 44 million people have received two doses of the vaccine. Iran has recorded at least 128,000 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and has been the hardest hit by the pandemic in the region. The ministry also announced that there have been more than 3,500 new cases of infections in the past 24 hours, as well as 118 deaths.

The government also noted that the daily death toll numbers have been decreasing in recent months, something Iranian experts attribute to vaccination. The highest single daily death toll was on August 24, with 709 fatalities.

Authorities have been warning that more surges of the virus are expected; the latest came in August, fueled by the contagious Delta variant. Less than half the population in Iran follows preventative measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing.

Due to the positive trends, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday lifted nighttime traffic restrictions on private cars, which were previously banned from the streets from 9 pm to 4 am.

Iran generally uses the China-made Sinopharm vaccine, though the Russian Sputnik-V and the vaccine made by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca are also in use.

In June, Iran also officially started using its domestically-produced COVIran Barekat vaccine, without publishing data on its safety or efficacy.


It’s Ethnic Studies ‘Groundhog Day,’ This Time in Massachusetts
When California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state’s ethnic studies high school graduation requirement bill last month, he handed a huge victory to a dedicated cadre of activist educators who had undertaken a multi-year crusade to ensure their highly politicized and overtly antisemitic “critical” ethnic studies curriculum would be adopted by every school district in the state. With the same stroke of his pen, Newsom handed a painful defeat to those of us who had struggled to prevent the statewide adoption of such antisemitic curricula. More importantly, the move struck a major blow against Jewish students and the Jewish community — in California and beyond.

And now a similar ethnic studies saga is unfolding in Massachusetts — where a politically-charged version of the bill that set California’s ethnic studies saga in motion, is making its way through the Massachusetts House and Senate. The proposed legislation mandates the establishment of a commission responsible for developing an ethnic studies curriculum that uses a “critical approach and pedagogy.”

Just like California, the version of the discipline being mandated by the Massachusetts bill is not the multicultural version that most parents expect and want for their children. Instead, it is a radical and highly politicized “critical approach” that dominates the college ethnic studies scene, and is now infiltrating K-12 classrooms. It is also rooted in ideologies well-known for their antisemitic portrayals of Jews and the Jewish state of Israel.

Viewed through this “critical” ethnic studies lens, Jews are perceived as “white,” “privileged,” and squarely on the oppressor side of the racial divide invoked by the discipline, and Zionism is portrayed as a “racist,” “colonialist,” “system of oppression” to be vigorously challenged.
Jewish CUNY Professor Found Discriminated Against After Faculty Group Intentionally Held Meetings on Shabbat
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that a Jewish professor at a Brooklyn, New York community college was discriminated against based on his identity as an “Observant and Zionist” Jew after he was excluded from a faculty group, according to ruling revealed on Wednesday.

The decision vindicated the claims of Jeffrey Lax, who in 2019 filed a civil rights complaint against the City University of New York and its constituent Kingsborough Community College, where he is a professor of business. Lax had alleged that the school’s Progressive Faculty Caucus (PFC) had deliberately scheduled meetings on Shabbat to prevent him and other observant Jews from attending.

EEOC investigators found “reasonable cause” to believe that Lax was discriminated and retaliated against on account of his religion.

The PFC “continued to meet on Friday evenings failing to reschedule and accomodate [Lax] and other similarly situated employees to attend due to their religious observance,” the February ruling said.

It was published on social media by the group Students And Faculty for Equality at CUNY (SAFE CUNY), which describes itself as a “non-partisan group advocating for systemically excluded Zionist Jews and all protected classes.”

A 2020 report compiled by a law firm representing Lax claimed that several witnesses confirmed the professor’s allegations — and quoted one as saying that “left wing people didn’t like [Lax] because he was pro-Trump, pro-Israel, he’s a Zionist, conservative American.”


BBC WS recycles unhelpful programme on Palestinian refugees
On November 10th that programme aired the first episode of a recycled version of Long’s three-part series previously broadcast on Radio 4 and on November 17th, the second episode – titled “What do we owe refugees?” – was aired.

“Katy Long hears stories from refugees and those who work to support them from Rwanda to Russia, and Israel to Paraguay. She asks what do we owe refugees?”

The reference to Israel in that synopsis is misleading: listeners hear nothing about, for example, the Jewish refugees from post-war Europe, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands or the refugees from Vietnam who found safety in Israel.

Instead, BBC radio audiences once again hear (from 20:05 here) the same account that fails to explain why Palestinians have been kept in camps by Lebanon for generations and avoids the issue of the Lebanese government’s long-running intentional discrimination against Palestinian refugees and the politics behind that policy.

Yet again listeners are not given any objective explanation as to why Palestinian refugees have different criteria (including hereditary status) to refugees from the rest of the world and a separate UN agency that refrains from working towards their integration (even in territories run by Palestinians) and resettlement in host countries.

Our critique of the programme (which will remain available online for “over a year”) can be read here:
Colombia apologizes for police cadets in Nazi uniforms at event to honor Germany
Colombia’s President Ivan Duque issued an apology Friday after cadets at a police academy caused outrage by dressing up as Nazis for a “cultural exchange” event in honor of Germany.

Photos of the ceremony were shared Thursday on an official police Twitter account.

In it, students are seen dressed in the grey-green uniform of the Wehrmacht, one of them sporting a small, Adolf Hitler-style moustache.

Others are dressed in the black uniform of the SS, complete with the red swastika armband.

The black, red and yellow German flag and balloons in the same colors decorated the venue that also featured a replica Luftwaffe plane, copies of Nazi firearms, and swastikas on the table cloths.

Two police officers in Colombian uniforms inaugurated the event by cutting a ribbon, the pictures showed.
US far-right livestreamer ‘Baked Alaska’ charged over vandalism of Hanukkah menorah
Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska” and has been charged over the riot at the United States Capitol, is also suspected of defacing a Hanukkah menorah in Arizona last year, The Daily Beast reported Friday.

Gionet, known for promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories, was arrested earlier this year over his role in the January riot at the US Capitol and is awaiting trial, although he is not in custody.

According to the report, prosecutors in Arizona have additionally charged the right-wing social media personality with two misdemeanor counts for criminal damage and attempted criminal damage.

The report said that in a charge sheet seen by the news site, state prosecutors alleged that in December 2020, Gionet defaced a Hanukkah menorah that was displayed outside the state capital.

Footage circulating online, said to be from Gionet’s livestream of the incident, appeared to show him ripping a sign off the front of the religious item. His face cannot be seen in the clip.

“No more ‘Happy Hanukkah,’ only ‘Merry Christmas.’ This is a disgrace, ” Gionet said while vandalizing the display in the purported footage.


500 years after the Inquisition, Spain’s kosher wine industry is taking off
Located in the Priorat region of Spain, hidden in the steep hills and lush mountains of the Tarragona province, 100 miles southwest of Barcelona, sits the Celler de Capçanes winery.

The cooperative winery, founded in 1933, has seen its reputation for high-end vintages grow steadily over the decades. And in 1995, it was approached with an unusual request: A Jewish family from Barcelona looking for domestically-sourced wine asked whether the winery would be willing to manufacture one of Spain’s first kosher wines in hundreds of years.

Jews played a significant role in producing wine in Spanish-speaking lands for centuries — until they were expelled under the Inquisition of 1492. Despite the fact that the country, which boasts the world’s largest viticultural area, has tried to cultivate its Jewish community in recent decades, local Jews lacked a vibrant selection of locally produced kosher wine for, well, centuries.

But in recent years, a growing number of Jewish and non-Jewish winemakers have stepped into the Spanish kosher market, revitalizing the country’s long-lost kosher wine lineage, from La Rioja to Catalonia through Ribera del Duero, Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia.

Simultaneously, public and private institutions such as the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain have launched a “Sephardic Vineyards” initiative to encourage the trend.
US-born baller who became Israel’s ‘Michael Jordan’ in the ’70s stars in new doc
To Israelis who were around in the 1970s and ’80s, Aulcie Perry was “Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rolled into one,” the viewer is told in the documentary “Aulcie.”

Director Dani Menkin’s portrait of the unlikely Israeli superstar basketball player — which is produced by Nancy Spielberg and opening in general release in Los Angeles, New York and video-on-demand after a couple of years on the Jewish film festival circuit — might not be anywhere near the quality level of Jordan’s own docuseries “The Last Dance.” But for Israeli hoops aficionados, the curiosity factor alone might make “Aulcie” worth a look.

It’s a familiar rags-to-riches story with a Jewish twist: Perry, a Black American basketball player who grew up poor in Newark, is cut from the New York Knicks but finds a new lease on the game when an Israeli scout recruits him to join Maccabi Tel Aviv. From 1976 to 1985 he is Maccabi’s star attraction, bagging the team two EuroLeague and nine Israeli League championships, among other honors.

He also achieves celebrity status in Israel, hitting up “all the discotheques” and entering a years-long relationship with supermodel Tami Ben-Ami. Perry’s love for his adopted land even leads him to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, convert to Judaism and adopt the Hebrew name Elisha ben Avraham. (His journey would go on to inspire other non-Jewish African-American players to do the same.)

Eventually Perry loses it all to drugs: A heroin addiction threatens his basketball career before drug possession and conspiracy charges derail it altogether. Upon his ignoble return to the States, he serves several years in prison; sprung early by Israeli officials to attend a TV show honoring his mentor, he moves to Israel permanently to rebuild his life as a coach with glimmers of his former celebrity.













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