Monday, November 22, 2021

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: Does a Palestinian "Right of Return" Exist in International Law?
On Nov. 9, 2021, the Fourth (Special Political) Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted by a 160-1 vote a draft resolution on Palestinian refugees. The U.S. abstained, although all previous administrations, apart from the Obama administration, had voted against this resolution.

In 1999, the U.S. representative (representing the Clinton administration) stated, "This delegation could not support unbalanced resolutions which attempted to prejudge the outcome of negotiations; lasting peace would come from agreements reached among the parties themselves, not from any action taken by the Committee."

The international media pounced on the latest change in the U.S. voting pattern, erroneously claiming that it signified "support by the Biden administration for a right of return for Palestinian refugees to sovereign Israel." In fact, the U.S. vote-change signifies no such thing, and the resolution does not mention any right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Several international legal and political documents try to tackle the question of return of refugees, but they do not establish any right of return for Palestinian refugees. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 states that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so," but no resolution of the General Assembly has the capacity to determine laws or establish rights. The term "should" underlines that this is solely a recommendation.

Moreover, a "right of return" does not appear in resolutions of the UN Security Council, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), or in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process documentation.
Clifford D. May: The Demoralization of the UN
I'm going to give you one example which I hope will make clear the depth and extent to which the UN has been demoralized – in the most literal sense.

Emma Reilly is an Irish human rights lawyer. In 2012, she was lucky enough – or so she thought – to get a job with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

About a year later, the persecution of minorities within the borders of the People's Republic of China began to receive a little attention. Witnesses applied for accreditation to testify in Geneva, where the OHCHR and the UN Human Rights Council are headquartered.

Reilly soon became aware that UN staffers, in violation of UN rules, were secretly providing Beijing with the names of those potential witnesses, including Uyghur, Tibetan, and Hong Kong dissidents and activists. Witnesses were subsequently threatened, imprisoned, and tortured. One reportedly died while in detention. The families of witnesses were harassed.

Reilly reported all this to her superiors, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the secretary-general. She provided documentary evidence.

Her superiors were outraged – not at those tipping off Chinese officials but at Reilly for doing her job which, as she put it, was "to report deliberate endangerment of human rights activists."

But they didn't fire her. Initially, she figured there were two reasons for that. One: They knew she was telling the truth. Two: The UN has pledged to protect whistleblowers. From then on, however, she was ostracized, treated like a traitor, and given only busywork.
Jonathan Schanzer joins ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
With the aftereffects still being felt from the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May, Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, joins Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” to discuss his new book, Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War, in which he argues that the Biden administration’s initial support of the Palestinian Authority election indirectly sparked the conflict.

Early start: “My view is that the war was probably put in motion a month before the conflict erupted. And that stemmed from a decision — an ill-fated decision — by the Biden administration when they first came in to accept the decision of the Palestinians to hold elections in April… Hamas was slated to take part in those elections. It would have undoubtedly led to a disastrous consequence had Hamas actually been able to take part because it would have meant that Hamas was going to hold seats in the parliament and take part in whatever the next government would look like. And that would trigger laws that would defund the Palestinian Authority here in the United States, in fact, set in motion by a guy named Senator Joe Biden… In April, the U.S. prevailed upon the Palestinians to cancel the elections. But that left Hamas feeling pretty raw, left out of the political arena, and looking for a way to make themselves relevant again. And there is no better way for Hamas to make itself relevant than by waging war against Israel.”

Indirect result: “I’m not saying that they caused it directly, what I would say is that they made a disastrous decision. And I actually remember talking to a relatively senior Biden administration official when they made the call that they were going to move forward with these elections initially. And I asked, I said, ‘You know, don’t you think that it’s a bad idea that Hamas is taking part, given that Hamas is a designated terrorist organization here in the United States?’ And the response that I got was, ‘Well, far be it from us, after the disastrous events of January 6, for us to tell anyone who can take part in an election, what democracy should look like, how it should operate.’”

The chameleon: “Hamas is many things to many people or many regimes. It is one of Iran’s most important proxies based in the Gaza Strip. It is also a proxy of Turkey. It’s a proxy of Qatar. It’s even maybe, to some extent, a proxy of Malaysia, which gets very little attention. But I would argue that the group has really benefited over the last several decades from the largesse of Iran, and it has become a tool of Iran, even as its leaders maintain some semblance of independence from its paymasters in Tehran.”

PFLP-NGO ties are far from hidden - opinion
In contrast, a number of prominent financial institutions acted quickly to cease cooperation with the newly designated NGOs – well before Israel designated them. In 2018, Citibank and Arab Bank closed accounts for Defense for Children International-Palestine, and Visa, Mastercard and American Express shut down online credit card donations to Al-Haq and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). These institutions erred on the side of caution, as should nation-states, especially when it comes to human lives and taxpayer dollars.

Slowly, it seems, European governments are taking a more responsible tact. In July 2020, the Dutch development minister acknowledged that a government audit determined that Dutch funds paid the salaries of then-UAWC accountant Samer Arbid and another senior employee allegedly involved in the 2019 killing of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb by a PFLP cell. In response to this finding and other concerns, the Netherlands suspended its aid delivery to the group.

Several other European institutions have also belatedly begun to combat this phenomenon. For example, concerns over aid diversion to terror led the EU anti-fraud mechanism, OLAF, to launch an investigation in August into their financial support to PFLP-linked Palestinian NGOs.

While these are encouraging developments, they would not have been necessary had the aid distribution process been conducted efficiently in the first place. Instead, Europe’s lack of transparency and accountability mechanisms for NGO funding either failed to detect the ties or chose to ignore them.

To safeguard the integrity of international humanitarian aid and prevent the laundering of taxpayer funds, donor governments have an obligation to examine the evidence carefully and act swiftly in the face of potential wrongdoing.
The Road Not Taken: Governmental Anti-terror Regulations and NGO Funding
Governmental cooperation with and dependence on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement development aid and engage in humanitarian projects around the world is accompanied by the potential for aid diversion by violent and terror-linked actors.

In the context of funding to Palestinian NGOs, a number of perennial grantees are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. Some are direct PFLP affiliates, while in other groups, numerous officials and board members have been identified as PFLP members – including some who have been arrested and convicted for their involvement in terror. The Israeli Ministry of Defense has designated seven such Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations, including six on October 22, 2021.1

As reflected in NGO Monitor research, insufficient vetting mechanisms and regulatory frameworks have allowed at least $200 million in government funds to flow to PFLP-linked NGO projects since 2011. (A severe lack of transparency surrounding funding of Palestinian grantees results in limited information.)

In some instances, government officials involved in funding decisions turned a blind eye to this phenomenon or rejected the evidence. In other cases, officials are aware of the general problem, and employ different policies and regulations to mitigate the threats that these actors pose. However, the responses vary from country to country – each framed by local political and other factors – and the mechanisms are unevenly implemented.

Recent developments illustrate the range of governmental responses to incidents where grantees are shown to be linked to terror groups. For instance, in 2020, the Netherlands at first denied the evidence, then froze funding to a now-designated terror-linked Palestinian NGO, and later hired an external firm to conduct an investigation. Shortly thereafter, the same government directed a similar Palestinian partner to engage in a cover-up by hiding online expressions of support for violence and celebrations of acts of terror by officials.
PFLP-Affiliated NGOs Funded by UN to Demonize Israel
The project
According to the description, the project focuses on alleging Israeli human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations, particularly during the May 2021 Gaza conflict. Notably, “lawyers will also support in documentation of key incidents and collection of affidavits to build legal case files for future engagement with international justice mechanism [s],” (emphasis added) presumably referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s investigation against Israel. The description refers to the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry. OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service reveals that additional Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs will serve as implementing partners. These include B’Tselem, Adalah, Yesh Din, War Child Holland, and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), and Addameer — the last two also newly designated by Israel as PFLP-linked terror organizations. Notably, several of these NGOs are members of the UNICEF Palestine’s “working group” which campaigns to include the IDF on a UN blacklist of “grave” violators of children’s rights.

The oPt Humanitarian Fund
The oPt Humanitarian Fund is a UN OCHA-directed “emergency pooled fund,” which “is primarily aligned to support the delivery of strategic humanitarian response identified under Humanitarian Response Plan while retaining the flexibility to allocate funds to unforeseen events or special requirements…Members of the oPt HF Advisory Board include the donors to the fund and representatives of national and international NGOs and UN agencies”.

However, in contrast to its stated mission of providing a humanitarian response to Palestinians, the Fund is instead actively bankrolling political warfare with the cooperation of terror-affiliated NGOs.

In 2021, nine countries have provided oPt Humanitarian Fund with $27 million.
Cold shoulder: NJ ad blitz slams Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott
A pro-Israel group is launching a $500,000 ad campaign to put the squeeze on Ben & Jerry’s parent company over the ice-cream maker’s refusal to peddle its products in Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories.

The organization StandWithUS is posting billboards in North Jersey, including near Unilever’s Englewood Cliffs headquarters there, that say, “Don’t Let Ben & Jerry’s Melt Your Profits,” and “Don’t Let Antisemitism Melt Your Brand.”

Unilever is Ben & Jerry’s parent company, but the ice-cream manufacturer is run by an independent board.

The ads include a picture of a pint of “Double Standard Fudge” ice cream with the word “hypocrites” across the top.

Another billboard reads “Don’t Let Ben & Jerry’s Antisemitism Kill Your Profits” — with Unilever brands Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton and Axe listed on the top.

The billboards include the Web site “” at the bottom. The site lists firms that StandWithUS says promote “corporate antisemitism” by participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish State.

Helen Mirren attacked on social media over Golda Meir role
British actress Helen Mirren, 76, is under fire on social media, as internet trolls attack her for portraying former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in a new film.

“How sick (sic) making a biopic on criminal Golda Meir and yes no surprise Helen Mirren the racist is happy to portray the pure distorted version of a disgusting individual,” a tweet by a profile that described themselves as “Palestinian and proud” read.

Another user wrote that “Helen Mirren doing a film about the first female prime minister of Israel is a slap in the face to all the people of Palestine, they are literally celebrating taking over Palestine and taking families out of their homes, murdering children, families! Tasteless film!”

“Ugly zionists and Helen Mirren should lose her damehood for this. The double standards they say they stand for equality but don’t give a sh*t when it comes to human rights of Palestinians,” another profile tweeted.

The British actress, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of another leading female figure, Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, and was awarded Damehood in 2003, is starring in a biopic about Israel's only female Prime Minister , who served from 1969-1974. The first photos of her as Golda Meir were released last Wednesday.

Mirren reportedly immersed herself in studies of Hebrew language, Jewish history, and Holocaust writing while she was in Israel in 2009 in preparation for her role as a retired Israeli Mossad agent in the film “The Debt.” She was among over 200 actors to sign an open letter opposing efforts to boycott an LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv in late October.
The Antisemitism and Erasure of Jews in Hollywood and Around the World
If the Jews controlled the media, they would never portray themselves in the harsh, negative light we see now. Clearly, we would do a better job of hiding our proverbial fangs and horns. To ignore this laughable irony is to believe that within antisemitism there is hope. There is not.

We say, “If only the haters were educated, if only they knew our history, if only they understood our suffering, if only we reached our hands out further…”

The problem is that the majority of those who hate us know all these things — or, at the very least, have heard them. The problem is, they don’t believe them or are willfully blind. They do believe that we are capable of playing a fictional role, whereby we exaggerate our historical suffering for favor; we hide our control behind a fiction of powerlessness; and we do, indeed, dominate the world.

In the current world, the factual Jew is discredited and the fictional Jew becomes the dominant perception, and the killers become the authors of our fate.

Jews are told that we don’t count as a minority — despite chants of “Jews will not replace us” and overwhelming evidence to the contrary — and told in Hollywood and elsewhere that our stories are no longer worth telling — that they will be told about us, told purposefully to ruin all that we have achieved, and to minimize all we have helped. It’s just another version of the fictional Jew, but in today’s world, that fiction is still being accepted as truth, perhaps more vigorously than ever.
Shutting down pro-Israel speech
When SJP attacks its opponents and targets them, of course, it is acceptable activism in a campaign for social justice. When SSI does this on behalf of Israel, however, it is harassment and morally questionable.

The woke language of this screed is both cruel, meaningless, and accusatory, asserting, for example, that groups like SSI have no moral standing in the first place, that “Israeli advocacy fundamentally relies upon the settler-colonial strategies of conceptual distortion and pathological displacement to reaffirm the settler-colonial principles upon which Israel was founded.”

The SJP letter also includes unsupportable claims that appear promiscuously in anti-Israel rhetoric but are a misreading of history and facts on the ground. So, for example, the letter decries “the historic and ongoing displacement of Palestinian peoples and the appropriation and occupation of Palestinian lands,” in direct contradiction to the facts. The disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (carelessly referred to as the 'West Bank') have never been Palestinian land, and, like 1948 Israel, are land that comprised the Mandate for Palestine that was committed by the League of Nations to a Jewish homeland. Of what country is Israel a colony, anyway? No other country.

If Jews are “settlers” in the Holy Land, then Arab Palestinians are settlers, too. Not surprisingly, however, SJP and their fellow travelers in the hate-Israel world use that slur only to describe Jews who live anywhere in a region where they have had an uninterrupted presence for more than 3000 years.

In its statement concerning the Duke situation, SSI National expressed its concern that the decision to shut down the Duke chapter because of a single social media post in which the group defended Israel against an untruth published by a critic represents a threat to academic free speech and the right of individuals on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian debate to be heard.

“We would like to know if other clubs on Duke’s campus have their social media channels reviewed by the student government as well?” the organization rightly asked. “Do other clubs need to apologize for writing statements that some may disagree with?”

“If not, then this is a clear singling out of the new pro-Israel club,” they concluded, “and we are concerned about whether Duke students truly have the right to free speech.”

Apparently, in the case of those who wish to defend the Jewish state, the answer is no.
BDS group announces 'anti-Zionist' Hanukkah party
The Jewish American group Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the BDS movement against Israel, has announced an "anti-Zionist" Hanukkah party to benefit the Palestinian Adalah Justice Project.

In a Twitter message, JVP issued an invitation to a "fiery and flirty" Hanukkah party on Dec. 6.

"If you've ever wanted to be part of a thriving multigenerational antizionist Jewish community, join us," the invitation reads.

The organizers invite participants to enjoy performances and strengthen their Jewish roots by sharpening their critical thinking skills.

Jo Bird and Pamela Fitzpatrick are expelled from the Labour Party as pro-Corbyn former MP Laura Pidcock seeks to challenge the purge
Controversial Labour figures Jo Bird and Pamela Fitzpatrick have been expelled from the Labour Party.

Cllr Bird, who re-joined the Labour Party in 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn was running for the Party’s leadership, has a long history of controversy relating to Jews, including renaming ‘due process’ in the Labour Party as “Jew process”, for which she was suspended; supporting the expelled Labour activist and friend of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Marc Wadsworth, who was thrown out of the Party after a confrontation with Jewish then-MP Ruth Smeeth; and worrying about the “privileging of racism against Jews, over and above — as more worthy of resources than other forms of racism.”

Elected to Wirral Council in August 2018, Cllr Bird is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour, the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, and she has described Labour’s institutional antisemitism as based on mere “accusations, witch-huntery and allegations without evidence”.

Cllr Bird appears to have been expelled for her association with the proscribed antisemitism-denial group, Labour Against the Witchhunt. Cllr Bird said on Facebook: “I’m delighted to say that the Labour Party have expelled me today. They say its [sic] for speaking at a meeting (more than three years ago) and signing a petition (early 2020) – organised by Labour Against the Witchthunt, which they banned only four months ago. I’m not free from the Labour Party’s hostile environment, where Jewish people like me are 31 times more likely to be investigated for talking about the racism we face.” She concluded by stating that “this racist Labour party is so different to the Party I joined in 2015. The Labour Party is dying as a vehicle for social justice.”

Pamela Fitzpatrick, a former Labour Parliamentary candidate against whom Campaign Against Antisemitism has had an outstanding complaint, has also been expelled. She says her expulsion was due to her having spoken to the proscribed Socialist Appeal group in 2020.
Why we should scrap Islamophobia Awareness Month
November is ‘Islamophobia Awareness Month’. According to the organisers, the aim of this month is ‘to deconstruct and challenge the stereotypes about Islam and Muslims’. This all sounds very progressive. If its purpose was simply to protect Muslims from bigotry, hate and prejudice, then, as a Muslim, I would certainly agree with it. But there is a much darker side to this initiative.

Islamophobia Awareness Month, as its name suggests, is based on the flawed idea of ‘Islamophobia’. As a concept, ‘Islamophobia’ conflates Islam and Muslims. But the former is a religion whereas the latter are the people who believe in it. And while bigoted ideas and steroeotypes about Muslims should be challenged, Islam is a belief system and it therefore cannot be ‘abused’ or ‘harassed’ in the same way as Muslims can be.

There are, of course, very real problems that arise from the negative stereotyping of Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry can lead to Muslims facing a lack of job opportunities, exclusion from certain events and even isolation from public life. But none of these things is relevant to a discussion about a religion like Islam, which is essentially a set of ideas.

Mixing Islam and Muslims under the banner of ‘Islamophobia’ means giving Islam the same rights as individual Muslims. It turns criticism of Islam into a form of racism. This then becomes a pretext for limiting what we are allowed to say about Islam.

This is especially problematic when it comes to discussions of Islamist extremism. For example, many Muslims maintain that Islam is a peaceful religion. When there are Islamist terror attacks, they claim that these attacks do not represent ‘the real Islam’ and that those who carried out the attack are not real Muslims. But, however uncomfortable it might be to admit, Islamist extremists are Muslims. This is simply a statement of fact. Yet saying this can get you accused of Islamophobia.

Famed UK Theater Was Warned Character Was an Antisemitic Stereotype, Took No Action
Britain’s famed Royal Court Theatre was warned by a Jewish director that a character in one of its productions perpetuated antisemitic stereotypes, the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper confirmed.

The Royal Court has already apologized twice after accusations of antisemitism surrounding the play “Rare Earth Mettle.” Authored by British playwright Al Smith, it was set to feature a fictional Silicon Valley billionaire named Hershel Fink who wants to “save the world” by building affordable electric cars.

A Thursday statement issued by the Royal Court said, “On 8th November the leadership of the Royal Court was informed that the name [Hershel Fink] had been raised by a Jewish director in a workshop discussion held as part of the series Directors: Working on New Plays in September 2021.”

“We are in conversations with this director as we hold ourselves accountable for why this was not taken further, nor passed on to the writer,” the Theatre said. “This specific event will form part of the Board’s internal review.”

Three sources confirmed to Sunday Times the paper that a “young Jewish director” had spoken with the play’s director and associate director of the Theatre, Hamish Pirie, and said that the character was an antisemitic stereotype, only compounded by the stereotypical name he had been given. Royal Court took no action at the time.

One Jewish director also claimed to the Times that there was an atmosphere of antisemitism at the Theatre linked to to its strong support for former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Survey Showing That Nearly Half of German Citizens Have Never Had Contact With Jews Causes Worry Among Jewish Leaders
A survey commissioned to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Germany has discovered that nearly half of German citizens say they have never had any contact with Jews or Jewish life.

Published on Monday, the survey polled 10,000 German citizens aged 18 and over. Conducted on behalf of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a conservative research institute, and the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany (ORD), a national forum composed of more than 50 rabbis, the purpose of the survey was to gauge awareness among non-Jews of Jewish religion and culture, as well as Jewish contributions to German life.

Close to one in two respondents — 46 percent — said they had never had any personal contact with a Jewish person or with Jewish life more broadly, with just 16.6 percent saying that they had Jewish friends or acquaintances. About 100,000 Jews presently live in Germany.

Only 18.7 percent had learned something about Judaism at school, while 17.9 percent had visited a synagogue, the survey found.

For 55 percent of those surveyed, their perceptions of Jewish life were predominantly shaped by political and historical events. Nearly 20 percent of respondents cited the Nazi Holocaust as their frame of reference, with 14.2 percent citing the present rise of antisemitism in Germany and nearly 22 percent citing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. By contrast, just under 12 percent mentioned Jewish contributions to German arts and culture or science as their frame of reference.
NYPD Search for Assailant Who Ripped Kippah From Jewish Man’s Head in Manhattan Street
Police in New York City are searching for a man who ripped a kippah off the head of an unsuspecting passerby before subjecting his victim to an antisemitic insult.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit reported that the incident took place on Thursday afternoon in downtown Manhattan. The 34-year-old victim was at the junction of Broadway and West 3rd Street when the assailant tore his kippah off his head. When the victim demanded the return of his kippah, the assailant threw it back accompanied by an antisemitic insult.

A photograph of the alleged assailant showed an African-American male clad entirely in black and wearing dark sunglasses. Police confirmed that neither the assailant nor the victim were known to each other prior to the incident.

Among those who condemned the attack was the outgoing Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

“Just absolutely infuriating. Get the message: if you commit an act of antisemitism in our city you will face the consequences,” de Blasio tweeted alongside an image of the suspect. “If you have any information on this disgusting act, contact the NYPD immediately.”

According to the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit, there have been 144 antisemitic acts recorded during 2021, amid rising hate crime targeting minorities in the city, particularly the Asian-American community.
Romanian indie film uses shock value to highlight persecution of Jews
Writer-director Radu Jude, a provocateur among the typically dour Romanian filmmaking scene, knows his audience will be shocked by his movie’s content — and that’s to his advantage. The sex appeal serves as foreplay, if you will, to a principled denunciation of Romania’s whitewashing of its own historical atrocities, including the nation’s difficulties acknowledging its own complicity in the Holocaust; through this lens, the film is best described as an angry farce.

Jude himself is not Jewish, despite his name — but he has a strong interest in stories that poke at Romania’s national narrative about its treatment of Jews. His 2019 satire I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians followed an artist as she attempted to publicly re-stage the 1941 Odessa Massacre, in which Romanian soldiers acting under the orders of Antonescu slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews.

Like Bad Luck Banging, Barbarians is a bitter and cynical film, displaying very little faith in the public to honestly confront its own history. The title comes from an infamous speech delivered by Antonescu, who was portrayed sympathetically in Romanian culture even after his execution for war crimes. It also serves as an artistic mission statement about the futility of processing atrocities in the eye of history. Both films offer their protagonists as stand-ins for Jude himself, artists and educators trying to communicate the right message in a sea of wrongheadedness.

Jude’s earlier films also delved into Romanian Jewish themes, including Scarred Hearts, an adaptation of a novel by the Romanian Jewish author Max Blecher; and two documentaries, The Dead Nation and The Exit of the Trains, dealing further with Romanian complicity in the Holocaust. Bad Luck Banging is considerably more playful and outrageous than his earlier works — there’s plenty of graphic nudity — and its canvas is bigger, focusing not just on Jews but on all manner of ways in which deeply ingrained prejudices and the added stress of the pandemic are swiftly rendering modern society uninhabitable. Every social interaction in the movie, from a grocery store customer yelling at a cashier to a driver deliberately hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk, portrays a community on the verge of total collapse.
Herzog praises Chelsea FC owner for efforts to combat antisemitism
On a rare visit to Chelsea, owner Roman Abramovich was praised on Sunday by Israeli President Isaac Herzog for using the Premier League leaders' platform to campaign against antisemitism.

The small event, attended by about 50 people, was the first time Abramovich has been seen at Chelsea's stadium since 2018 when he withdrew his application for a British visa renewal.

The Russian-Israeli businessman traveled to London as an Israeli citizen and he spent around two hours on Sunday morning at the Imperial War Museum London to see the Holocaust Galleries he helped to fund with donations.

Herzog, at the start of a visit to London, said during an address to the audience in a suite at Chelsea's west London stadium that the "club is a shining example of how sports and teams can be a force of good and for shaping a more tolerant tomorrow."
British Soccer Team to Host Premier League’s First Hanukkah Event
Watford FC will be the first-ever Premier League club to host a Hanukkah celebration, the team announced.

The sold out gathering on Dec. 2 is also the first event organized by the club’s newly established Jewish Supporters Group. Watford FC said the celebration will be “an entertaining and festive occasion consisting of music, lighting candles, singing Hanukkah songs and the traditional eating of doughnuts.”

“The event is open to all who wish to come together, as part of the Watford FC family, to celebrate Hanukkah, the Jewish ‘Festival of Lights,’ ” added the team.

The event will raise funds for the group’s charity, Watford FC Community Sports and Education Trust, but will also honor Watford FC’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, the soccer team’s We Campaign and the launch of the Jewish Supporters Group.

Watford FC is known for having a large Jewish fan base.
Mastercard opens fintech, cybersecurity innovation lab in Beersheba
Financial services giant Mastercard officially opened a new innovation lab in Beersheba this month, with a mission to work with early-stage Israeli startups on fintech (financial tech) and cybersecurity solutions for the payments and energy industries worldwide.

The new center, called the FinSec Innovation Lab, is operated jointly by Mastercard and Italian energy multinational Enel X after the two corporations won a tender in 2019 issued by the Israel Innovation Authority together with the Israel National Cyber Directorate and the Finance Ministry.

The lab has a number of focus areas including API (Application Programming Interface) security, vulnerability management, ransomware, digital identity and authentication, virtual payment wallets, and fraud prevention, said FinSec Innovation Lab CEO Sidney Gottesman.

“Anything that Mastercard or Enel can use to protect themselves or to provide to their respective customers,” Gottesman told The Times of Israel on Sunday. Gottesman is senior vice president of Corporate Security at Mastercard, and the program owner for employee identity and access management. He previously held senior roles at Bank Leumi USA and Citigroup.

The FinSec Innovation Lab is currently working with five Israeli startups to help them develop and test their solutions at the new center in Beersheba, offering the physical space, services, mentorship, and real-world data with which the companies can perform simulations of complex financial processes and cyber product testing, said Gottesman. The startups will also be able to receive funding from the Israel Innovation Authority.
Israel Eyes Setting Up its Own Vaccine Production Facility
Israel, which is totally dependent on imported vaccines, called on Monday for proposals for a locally-based vaccine production facility to provide itself with independent capability to take counter-measures to any new pathogens.

The country is “completely dependent on imported vaccines for any epidemics or pandemics,” a government gazette said, adding that proposals for Israeli-based manufacturing on behalf of an international pharmacological company could be considered.

Israel rolled out COVID-19 vaccinations at a world-beating rate and has championed booster shots as a means of staving off resurgences of the virus. In March, it pledged joint production of COVID-19 vaccines with Austria and Denmark.

The government described the initiative as a feasibility study by an Israeli inter-ministerial task force.

“The purpose .. is to enable the team to examine the possible processes and commercial frameworks for the realisation of independent ability to produce vaccines routinely, and the ability to adapt producing vaccines in the future,” said Accountant-General Yali Rothenberg, who heads the team.
Israeli Cybersecurity Startup XM Cyber Acquired for $700 Million by Schwarz Group
Israeli hybrid cloud cybersecurity startup XM Cyber has announced that it is being acquired by Schwarz Group, the world’s fourth-largest retailer and a growing force in cloud computing, for $700 million.

XM Cyber, founded in 2016 by former Mossad head Tamir Pardo, Noam Erez, and Boaz Gorodiski, has developed a technology that simulates organized cyberattacks on companies to help them improve their defenses. The company’s system presents the attackers’ angles with the ability to detect and exploit holes in the network. In addition, it provides a detailed report of the actions required to block such attacks and protect the organization’s assets. By discovering critical attack paths across on-premises and multi-cloud networks, it helps organizations cost-effectively close security gaps before systems are compromised. The comprehensive knowledge in securing complex hybrid cloud networks is also an essential aspect of this strategic acquisition for the Schwarz Group.

XM Cyber completed a $17 million Series B last July led by Macquarie Capital, Nasdaq Ventures, Our Innovation Fund, and Swarth Group. Businessman Shaul Shani is one of the company’s founders and its first investor. To date, the company has raised $49 million.

XM Cyber will continue to operate independently, offering its full suite of products under its current brand and support structure.
Young peace activists promote Abraham Accords in California
A delegation of young activists, leaders, and entrepreneurs from the Abraham Accords countries that flew to California earlier this month to speak about regional peace found audiences eager for hope, but low on knowledge, they said.

Israel signed groundbreaking normalization agreements in 2020 with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco and is working to close such a deal with Sudan, but despite the deals being brokered by the US, many there were unfamiliar with the details, participants found.

“I initially assumed that people in the US had a good degree of knowledge about the Abraham Accords and about what is taking place in the region, but after these meetings, I realized I was wrong,” explained Omar Al-Busaidy, an Emirati Fulbright scholar and entrepreneur.

“And in fact, from all aspects of the US society they are still uninformed about the weekly meetings, strategic partnerships, collaborations that are taking place between the Abraham Accords countries,” he said.

The group was organized by Sharaka, an NGO that emerged in the wake of the 2020 peace agreements to promote peace and cooperation in the region. They met with Jewish leaders, Democratic politicians and activists, university and high school students, and civil leaders in the Bay Area and Sacramento from November 7-14.

One of their events was a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Club of California, the nation’s oldest public affairs forum.

“One of our key messages to American audiences, speaking on the liberal West Coast, is that the Abraham Accords are real and transformative for the Middle East and hugely positive,” Dan Feferman, Global Affairs director for Sharaka, told The Times of Israel on Sunday. “Put aside the political polarization. Domestic American politics have nothing to do with the Middle East.”

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