Saturday, December 04, 2021

From Ian:

How Israeli intel saved hundreds of US soldiers from Iranian attacks
Amid growing tensions between the US and Israel over Israeli intelligence-gathering systems, a new report highlights the Israeli security intel community’s role in saving the lives of hundreds of American soldiers.

Last month, the US Commerce Department announced that it had blacklisted two Israeli companies closely linked to the Israeli government.

The two firms, NSO Group and Candiru, were accused of providing spyware to foreign governments which “used these tools to maliciously target” reporters, activists, and embassy employees, harming US interests.

According to a report by Yediot Aharanoth Friday morning, the blacklisting came as a shock to Israeli intelligence and security officials, who expressed dismay at subsequent meetings over what they perceived as a broader campaign by the Biden administration to rein in clandestine operations by Israel.

One Israeli official who participated in one such meeting this week called the Biden administration’s behavior ‘ingratitude’, citing the role of Israeli intelligence in saving American soldiers on multiple occasions, Yediot Aharanoth reported.

“I think that until we understand what we did [wrong], if anything, to cause them [the Americans] to behave the way they’re behaving, we should respond in a similar manner. We need to notify them that we have no idea why Israeli actions in the cyber world raised American ire, but until we can conclusively settle the matter, and to ensure that, God forbid, we don’t harm American national security interests again, we will suspend the flow of information Israel collects to the US intel community.”

“Maybe that way, if there is no one to save their soldiers next time around, they will answer their phones.”

Israeli intel is credited in Friday’s report with helping the US avoid casualties on numerous occasions, including in two high-profile attacks by Iran or Iranian-backed forces against bases housing American soldiers in the Middle East.

The first attack took place on January 7th, 2020, when Iran launched a barrage of missiles against American targets in Iraq, including the Ayn al-Asad base, which housed some 1,500 US personnel.

The ballistic missiles barrage could have resulted in massive casualties among the US forces, had American personnel not been evacuated to reinforced bunkers moments before the attack.
NSO spyware said used to hack phones of State Department officials working in Uganda
Israeli spyware firm NSO Group’s software was reportedly used by an unknown assailant to hack the cell phones of at least nine United States State Department employees, in what — if confirmed — would be the first time the embattled company’s technology was used to target American officials.

The hack targeted State Department workers in Uganda or those specializing in the East African country, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

All of the American staff targeted were using iPhones. Last week, Apple announced that it was suing the NSO Group for targeting the users of its devices, saying the firm at the center of the Pegasus surveillance scandal needs to be held accountable.

The suit from the Silicon Valley giant adds new trouble for NSO, which was engulfed in controversy over reports that tens of thousands of activists, journalists and politicians were listed as potential targets of its Pegasus spyware.

While the phone numbers of US officials were included on a long list of potential targets revealed in a series of media reports earlier this year, it was never confirmed whether those phones were actually hacked.

NSO Group says its hacking software cannot work on phones that begin with the US +1 country code. However, the allegedly hacked State Department employees were using local phones in Uganda, Reuters said.

‘Jews do not have a future in England’
These Twitter posts and the soundbites shared by Johnson and the foreign minister at an event held during Lapid’s visit by Conservative Friends of Israel, highlighted the strategic diplomatic ties between these two democracies.

But for many Jews living in England, the situation has become increasingly worrying, according to Jewish National Fund (JNF) UK Chairman Samuel Hayek – despite the deep ties between England and Israel.

“Jews do not have a future in England,” Hayek told The Jerusalem Post this week from his Jaffa hotel.

The native Israeli, who has been living in the UK for more than 40 years and became one of England’s top Jewish philanthropists, was in the country with a delegation of JNF UK donors and volunteers for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The group visited the organization’s existing projects mainly in the Negev and the Galilee, and also examined new opportunities.

They inaugurated the Elderly Home, a day center for the veteran residents of Sderot, took a tour of the Dekelim school for children with special needs in Beersheba, and visited Kiryat Malachi where JNF UK has supported a series of city renovations.

They also held a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony with members of the Derech Eretz leadership program and new immigrants from the Gvahim non-profit organization that provides new immigrants with a network and tools to find employment in Israel.

According to Hayek, it is time for Jews to plan to leave the Britain – not because there would be another Holocaust, God forbid, he said but because “Jews who are unable to protect their assets, Jews being discriminated against badly is something that could quite easily happen – that is happening.”

The 2019 British election highlighted the challenges for Jews in the country, Hayek said, when it appeared for a brief window that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could win it – though ultimately the party suffered one of its worst general election results in living memory, losing dozens of seats to the Conservatives.
BBC amend article suggesting victims of Oxford street antisemitism used racial slurs
The BBC has changed an article on its website suggesting that the Jewish victims of the now-viral Oxford Street antisemitism incident used anti-Muslim racial slurs.

The original piece stated that “some racial slurs can be heard from inside the bus.”

When approached for comment on this by the JC, a spokesman from the BBC said that the article had been amended to reflect the fact that only one slur could be heard in the clip, but insisted that the phrase “dirty muslims” in English could be heard two seconds into the video.

A sound and audio professional contacted by the JC said he was unable to distinguish the alleged slur saying: “I think even a audio forensic specialist would struggle to get something useful [from the clip] ”]

In response to the BBC story, the Board of Deputies said: “It appears that the BBC has a very serious case to answer here. Incorrectly accusing those experiencing antisemitism of being guilty of bigotry themselves is adding insult to injury.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism claimed: “The audio from the footage is completely indistinct. If someone was shouting abuse from inside the bus then of course it should be investigated, but we cannot discern any voice in the video saying what the BBC claim was said.

Israeli Stabbed in Jerusalem, Palestinian Assailant Shot Dead
A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli outside Jerusalem’s walled Old City on Saturday before he was shot and killed by security forces at the scene, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

A video released by Israeli police appears to show a man crossing a street and then turning around and several times stabbing or attempting to stab an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who had been walking a few steps behind him. The assailant then runs toward an Israeli border policeman and is shot several times by him and another officer as he falls to the ground.

Another video circulating on social media appears to show one of the officers shooting at the assailant twice after he was already lying on the ground. Reuters could not independently verify the footage and a spokesperson for the police did not immediately comment on it.

The Israeli stabbed was moderately wounded, said a spokesperson for Israel’s ambulance service.

Palestinian officials condemned the killing of the alleged assailant. Lawmaker Dimitri Deliani described it in a written statement as “the execution of a Palestinian young man in cold blood.”

‮I‬srael’s border police chief said he fully backed the officers whose response “resulted in the neutralization of the terrorist and prevented him from further harming fighters and civilians at the scene.”

Israeli attacked by Ramallah crowd recalls ‘miracle’ escape, may still face charges
A day after he and a friend were attacked and their car set ablaze by a crowd of Palestinians after they accidentally entered downtown Ramallah, one of the Israelis involved in the incident described on Thursday the “miracle” escape, saying he was sure he would be killed.

After apparently following bad directions, the two found themselves near al-Manara Square in the de facto Palestinian Authority administrative capital, where they were assaulted by a large crowd of people who eventually set their car ablaze. The pair escaped unharmed and were handed over to Israeli authorities by PA forces, who extracted them from the harrowing ordeal.

Police are still investigating the incident and how the two managed to wander into Ramallah despite large red signs warning Israeli drivers that it is illegal for them to enter Palestinian-controlled areas. Officials are mulling possible charges against the two, Channel 12 news reported.

Michael Sharabi, who spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon, said he and the person he was with were immediately surrounded by a group of youths after entering Manara Square. The mob quickly started attacking their car with cinder blocks, he said.

In videos from the scene, a crowd of Palestinians can be seen surrounding their car, with the Israelis not responding to taunts from the crowd.

After the car windows were smashed, they decided to leave the car and try to make a run for it, Sharabi said.
Anti-PA ‘intifada’ in Bethlehem threatens Christmas festivities
Residents of Bethlehem’s three refugee camps have been launching daily protests against the Palestinian Authority, coinciding with preparations for Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem and the nearby towns of Bet Jala and Bet Sahour.

Some Christian residents expressed fear that the protests in the refugee camps of Dheisheh, Aida and Jibrin – also known as al-Azza Camp – might spread to their communities, ruining Christmas festivities that have already been badly affected since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March 2020.

During the nightly protests during the past week, residents burned tires and blocked streets, demanding the release of several young men arrested by the PA security forces.

The protests began at Dheisheh refugee camp after the security forces arrested a number of young men who raised banners belonging to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) during the funeral of Amjad Abu Sultan.

Abu Sultan, 14, was shot dead by IDF soldiers in October as he was preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail from Bet Jala at Israeli vehicles on Route 60, also known as the “Tunnels Road.” His body was handed over to the Palestinians two weeks ago.

During the funeral, PA security officers attacked several mourners who were carrying Hamas flags and PFLP banners, according to Palestinian sources.
Seth Frantzman: Are the Iran deal talks just a grift? - analysis
The logical fallacy of the US-Iran talking points is always the same. The US broke the deal. Iran wants more talks. If the negotiations fail then a nuclear-armed Iran will emerge and there will be war to stop that eventuality. Either a bomb or war are the only two options presented.

This becomes sort of a grift because it hinges on the theory that Iran’s leadership would actually construct a device and test it in a nuclear explosion. After all, that’s the way countries get beyond nuclear-threshold status − they have to actually build the weapon and see if it works. That is what the US did in 1945, after prevaricating in 1944. That is also what Pakistan and India have done.

So the Iran talks have so far made no progress. Fars News knows this and it reflects the regime narrative. It says that the “story goes back to the end of Mr. Rouhani’s government. Less than five months before the end of the administration’s eight-year term prudence and hope remained, but with less than two months left until the presidential election the government was stoned, and negotiations with the Americans and Europeans could not save the country from economic problems.”

Fars continues: “Summing up this round of negotiations, it can be said that the main issue was the laying of the groundwork for an agreement. Iran has presented its initial plan, and now the Western parties must consult with their capitals to respond to these two documents and the proposal of the Iranian team.”

The definition of a “grift” is a form of small scale swindling. Grifters are people who swindle others, sometimes systematically over many years. There are many things in the US these days that can be described as grift, especially in political commentary.

There is no doubt that a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat. However the discussion about the Iran deal and the endless negotiations that go nowhere, as well as the 2015 deal itself, appear more like a grift than a serious discussion.

This is because there won’t likely be a “war” with Iran – at least not a war between the US and Iran. There may be attempts to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or reaching a certain level of enrichment. But the idea that is presented as “either war or a nuclear Iran” is likely a false narrative.

It’s unclear if the Islamic Republic’s partners in Russia and China would accept a nuclear Iran or want one. As such, it may continue grifting – and try to get concessions from the West while knowing it doesn’t want a real nuclear weapon.
Biden Admin Waives Sanctions on Iran as Nuclear Talks Restart
The Biden administration quietly waived sanctions on Iran to allow the hardline regime to sell electricity to Iraq, according to a non-public notification obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that was provided to Congress just as nuclear talks between the United States and Tehran resumed this week.

The timing of the waiver notification—which was signed Nov. 19 but not transmitted to Congress until Nov. 29, the day nuclear negotiations resumed—has prompted accusations the Biden administration is offering concessions to Tehran to generate goodwill as talks aimed at securing a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal restart following a months-long standoff.

During the several-month pause, Tehran increased its nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium and installation of advanced nuclear centrifuges. One senior congressional source familiar with the matter said the delay in transmitting the waiver to Congress indicates the administration is sensitive to the optics of waving sanctions just as negotiations resume.

Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction on Trump's White House National Security Council, told the Washington Free Beacon that the latest electricity waiver amounts to a "dressed-up Chanukah present to" Iran.

"This is just another unfortunate example of projecting weakness and deference at a time when the U.S. needs to build leverage and project strength," said Goldberg, who is now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank. "If the waiver was going to be renewed for Iraq relations, it should have been messaged and announced well before arrival in Vienna. It just screams desperation."

Iran insists the United States unwind all economic sanctions that were imposed by the Trump administration, a demand the Biden administration says it is willing to make good on. The E3—Germany, the United Kingdom, and France—said on Friday, however, that Iran's demands are "not serious," according to reports. "Iran is backtracking on almost all of the difficult compromises reached in months of tough negotiations and is demanding substantial changes to the text," E3 diplomats were quoted as saying in Axios.
Nuclear Talks on Brink of Crisis as Iran ‘Back-Tracks’ on Agreements
Indirect US-Iranian talks on salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal teetered on the brink of crisis on Friday as they broke off until next week with European officials expressing dismay at the demands of Iran‘s new hardline administration.

The seventh round of talks in Vienna is the first with delegates sent by Iran‘s anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi. His election in June caused a hiatus in the talks of five months, heightening suspicions among US and European officials that Iran is playing for time while its makes nuclear advances.

The Iranian delegation under nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani has proposed sweeping changes to the text of an agreement negotiated in previous rounds, diplomats said. European officials have balked at the proposed changes to a painstakingly drafted text that they say is 70-80% finished.

“Over five months ago, Iran interrupted negotiations. Since then, Iran has fast-forwarded its nuclear program. This week, it has back-tracked on diplomatic progress made,” senior officials from France, Britain and Germany said in a statement, adding that Iran was demanding “major changes” to the text.

It is “unclear how these new gaps can be closed in a realistic time frame”, they added.

The three European powers expressed “disappointment and concern” at Iran‘s demands, some of which they said were incompatible with the deal’s terms or went beyond them.
US says won’t let Iran ‘slow walk’ talks, is preparing for ‘a world without JCPOA’
The United States warned Saturday that it would not allow Iran to “slow walk” international negotiations over its nuclear program while at the same time ramping up its atomic activities.

The warning came a day after Washington hit out at Iran, saying talks with world powers on a return to the 2015 nuclear accord had stalled because Tehran “does not seem to be serious.”

“We can’t accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow walks its nuclear diplomacy,” said a senior US administration official — echoing a recent warning by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Speaking to reporters after returning from the Austrian capital, the official said Washington was not yet planning to walk away from the indirect talks that it resumed with Tehran last week in Vienna, but hoped Iran would return “with a serious attitude.”

Still, he said, Washington was “preparing for a world in which there is no return to the JCPOA,” a reference to the deal’s official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He said more sanctions would likely come if Washington concludes that Iran had killed the negotiations.

In Vienna “Iran did not show the posture of a country that is seriously thinking of a rapid return” to the accord aimed at putting curbs on its nuclear program, said the official.
Iran says explosion near Natanz caused by air defense drill
Iranian media reported an explosion which was heard on Saturday night near Natanz was caused by an air defense drill, after local residents reported hearing a blast and seeing a bright light in the sky.

Initial reports indicated that Iranian air defense systems had been activated. According to the Iranian Fars News Agency, a bright light was seen in the sky as the explosion was heard.

Fars later reported that the explosion was caused by an air defense missile that had been fired as part of a drill to test a quick response a possible attack.

The governor of Natanz County told Fars that exact details are still unknown.

The explosion comes as talks between Iran and world powers continue in Vienna in an attempt to return to the JCPOA nuclear deal.

The nuclear facility in Natanz has been targeted by attacks at least twice in the past two years.
CUNY Law BDS Resolution Takes Aim at Israel University Ties, Hillel and Pro-Israel Groups
In a Thursday resolution, the City University of New York Law School student government charged the school with “complicity” in war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Israel, citing academic cooperation with Israeli institutions and the activity of the campus Hillel Jewish group and other student organizations.

The resolution called for the school to “cut all ties with organizations that repress Palestinian organizing,” and criticized a number of student groups for supporting Israel.

“Whereas, a number of student organizations across CUNY receive money from the State of Israel, or from organizations lobbying on behalf of the State of Israel, and whose mission includes support for the State of Israel, and whose practices include surveillance, intimidation, harassment of Palestine solidarity activists on campuses,” the resolution said. “These organizations include Hillel, CAMERA, StandWithUs, Bulldogs for Israel, Israel Independence Day Committee, United 4 Israel, Israel Student Association, Students Supporting Israel at City College of New York.”

The measure also castigated the university system for its “academic collaborations with complicit Israeli academic institutions,” noting that a number of CUNY and CUNY Law faculty have taught at Israeli universities.

The university’s participation in student exchange programs with Israeli institutions like Haifa University, Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University were all “a form of propaganda, and normalize settler colonial and apartheid rule,” it claimed.

Sponsored by the CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine and CUNY Law Jewish Law Student Association, the resolution was endorsed by over 20 other student organizations, including the National Lawyers Guild chapter and the CUNY Law Review.

BBC WS radio’s ‘The Explanation’ flops on Palestinian-Israeli conflict – part two
Previously we discussed the first half of the November 27th edition of a BBC World Service radio programme called ‘The Explanation’ in which Anu Anand and Jeremy Bowen purported to explain the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in fifteen minutes:

Having provided a highly partial description of the history leading up to and including the War of Independence, the programme (which will remain available online for “over a year”) continues with a trite portrayal of the Six Day War which makes no attempt to explain the background and build-up to that conflict.

Anand: “That was only the start. The Six Day War in 1967 saw Israel take even more territory, while in the coming decades, Jewish settlers began moving into Palestinian neighbourhoods, bringing with them armed Israeli soldiers, checkpoints and further conflict.”

Bowen: “What the settlements have done – and they started almost immediately after that 1967 victory – is to establish Jews in strategic parts of the occupied territories. The idea was, right from the outset, the settler movement would say that ‘it is our duty to people the land with Jews. This is Jewish land; historically, biblically, it’s Jewish land and we need to take it back and that would be the beginning of righting a great historical wrong’.”

Anand next distorts the name and aim of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), failing to explain that it was established three years before the Six Day War and so any attempt “to resist Israel” had nothing to do with territory that came under Israeli control as a result of that war.
British rapper Wiley kicked off Twitter, Instagram over antisemitic posts – again
British rapper Wiley was suspended from Instagram and Twitter, for the second time, on Friday over a series of antisemitic posts including one about “Satanic Jews.”

The singer was previously banned from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube in July 2020, and had since set up second accounts on some of the social media platforms.

Wiley, whose real name is Richard Kylea Cowie, used the handle @WileyRecordings on Twitter to send out “racist hate towards Jews,” according to the British non-profit Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), the Jewish Chronicle reported Friday. Wiley had used a picture of CAA head Joe Glasman on his own Twitter profile and had directed a number of online attacks against the anti-racism activist.

He’d also shared a photo of Glasman’s Twitter profile on Instagram, writing “Don’t hide Joe come outside bro,” according to the Jewish Chronicle.

From his new Twitter account, Wiley posted a video of Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan, a known antisemite, saying he was “here to separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews.”

Other posts included Wiley appearing as an Orthodox Jew with the caption “gang shit,” and another that read: “The Jewish Faces that Control Hiphop and Mainstream Black Music.”
Israeli documentary chronicles real relationship between Auschwitz prisoner, SS officer
“Nazisploitation,” a pop-culture subgenre that draws on imagery and stories from the Holocaust for winkingly perverse entertainment, is built around the idea that there are bad-taste ways to interpret an incomparable tragedy that can nevertheless prove enlightening.

The form reached its apex — or, depending on your vantage, its nadir — with films about forbidden love affairs between Nazis and Jews, or Nazis and other survivors of their brutality. In one notable, and polarizing example, the 1974 erotic Italian drama “The Night Porter,” a concentration camp survivor tracks down her former guard to rekindle their sadomasochistic relationship. In another, the 2006 Dutch spy thriller “Black Book,” a Jewish member of the Dutch Resistance begins a relationship with an SS officer as part of her cover, but comes to develop genuine feelings for him.

Both of those movies are fictional (or heavily fictionalized) interpretations of such a love affair, using made-up stories to pose questions about power dynamics and internalized guilt.

History gives us an actual example of what this kind of relationship actually looked like: the story of Helena Citron, who was a Jewish prisoner of Auschwitz in her teens, and Franz Wunsch, the Austrian SS officer who simply decided, while guarding her at the death camp and hearing her sing old German love songs, that she was the love of his life.

Now, this story is being retold in the Israeli documentary “Love It Was Not,” which begins streaming in the United States today after being nominated for an Ophir Award for Best Documentary in Israel last year. And as its title indicates, the actual dynamics at play in this affair were not easy to define.

Most importantly, from the Jewish perspective, is the fact that this was not a mutual love affair. In the camp, Wunsch held all the cards; he could decide whether Citron and her family would live or die. The film depicts his infatuation as something like a coping mechanism for the barbaric acts he was committing against every other Jew at the camp — Wunsch seemingly displaced his humanity toward his fellow man by redirecting it toward Citron alone.
Manchester, UK, Anti-Semitic Video Streamer Richard Hesketh Gets 4 Years
Richard Hesketh, 36, of Manchester, UK, on Friday received a four-year prison sentence for using a spare bedroom in his home to “create his obscene videos which focused on celebrating far-right terrorism and showing support for violence against Jewish people.”

Hesketh, of Hollin Lane in Middleton, admitted in Manchester Crown Court to seven counts of inciting racial hatred. Advertisement

Greater Manchester Police said Hesketh ran a “campaign of abuse towards the Jewish community” where he dressed up in his videos as a character named George “in an attempt to caricature an offensive stereotype of a Jewish male, using a false voice.”

Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, told South West News Service (SWNS): “Hesketh shared as well as created hundreds of shockingly offensive videos and content on social media, which undoubtedly incited hatred towards the Jewish community. In a police interview, Hesketh showed no remorse and even continued to upload offensive material to his social media channels after he was released under investigation.”

“Hesketh enjoyed viewing videos of serious attacks on Jewish people and even made comments referring to his disappointment that the attacker in one video did not kill the victim, showing just how depraved his beliefs are,” Chatterton said, adding, “Peddling this mindset across the internet is dangerous and at the same time incredibly upsetting to our communities.

“This case highlights that right-wing terrorism will not be tolerated in any shape or form and we will do all we can to bring these offenders to justice,” the Detective Superintendent told SWNS. “I am pleased that Hesketh will no longer be able to continue his campaign of abuse and I really do hope that his time in prison is spent reflecting upon his appalling behavior.”
French Anti-Terror Judges Order Trial of Former Soldier Alleged to Have Plotted Massacre Of Jewish Community
A former French soldier is set to go on trial before the Paris Criminal Court charged with planning “lone wolf” terrorist attacks on Jewish community targets.

The accused, named as 38-year-old Aurélien C., was arrested in the south-western city of Limoges in May 2020 after police officers observed his increasingly violent antisemitic and racist postings on social media. He has since been held in pre-trial detention as he represents a danger to the community, the AFP news agency reported on Thursday.

The agency quoted an unnamed judicial source who disclosed that three anti-terrorism judges issued an order on Nov. 26 for Aurélien C. to be tried at the Paris Criminal Court.

Described by his former employer as “lonely” and “introverted,” and by relatives as “charming” and “discreet,” Aurélien C.’s Facebook page was a homage to racist and white supremacist propaganda. Postings on the page advanced the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory of the French far-right activist Renaud Camus, which posits that white populations in Europe and the US are being displaced by immigrants of color. Also posted was the “manifesto” of Brenton Tarrant, the neo-Nazi New Zealander who slaughtered 51 Muslim worshippers in gun attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

At the same time as immersing himself in white supremacist ideology, Aurélien C. is alleged to have researched the locations of Jewish community institutions in Limoges and elsewhere in France for a future attack. According to prosecuting lawyers, he “gradually fed his criminal project, acquiring the means to achieve his ends” by procuring firearms.

A police search of Aurélien C.’s house following his arrest uncovered three guns, including a World War II-era rifle, a store of ammunition and home-made bombs.
‘An Affront to the Jewish Victims’: French Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Lays Memorial Wreath at Monument to Warsaw Ghetto
The leader of the main far-right party in France put in an appearance on Friday at the monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto in the Polish capital, drawing a sharp rebuke from one Jewish leader who called the visit an “affront” to those who perished under Nazi rule during World War II.

Marine Le Pen — the leader of the far-right National Rally (RN) — visited the monument during a trip to Warsaw at the invitation of the Polish government, which is hosting a meeting of far-right and nationalist parties from around Europe on Saturday.

A candidate in next year’s French presidential election, Le Pen solemnly laid a wreath at the monument accompanied by a Polish military honor guard.

Abraham Foxman, the national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told The Algemeiner that Le Pen’s presence at the monument was “an affront to the memory of the victims who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto.”

“Her going is political chutzpah,” added Foxman, who survived the Holocaust in Poland as a young child.

“Worse is the Polish government arranging a formal official visit,” he said.
Brazilian diplomat played a crucial role in Israel's creation
In the week that has marked the anniversary of the historical adoption of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, I have the honor to remember a Brazilian diplomat who played a crucial role in the creation of the State of Israel: Oswaldo Aranha, who presided over the United Nations General Assembly meeting held on November 29, 1947. More than coordinating that international body in a historical moment, Aranha supported and steadily negotiated to reach a majority in favor of the resolution that partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine.

We’re deeply honored to know that a Brazilian statesman with the character and moral fiber of Aranha played a key role in the process that allowed the Jewish people to make their dream of establishing a national state come true. Throughout their lives, many Israelis watch, from time to time, the grainy black-and-white footage of the votes being counted at the UN – and Oswaldo Aranha is at the head of the session, the one who declares that “the resolution has passed.” What is less well-known is the fact that Aranha was highly instrumental in the assembly’s approval of the partition of Palestine, insofar as he was able to postpone the voting by two days.

A skillful diplomat, Aranha saw that the partition would not obtain the necessary two-thirds of the votes on time and convinced allies to lengthen their speeches in order to prevent the vote from being taken that day. Aranha then was able to call for the decision to be postponed – and as the next day was a holiday in the United States, his move bought the time needed to get the additional votes. For his efforts at the UN and his strategic vision, Aranha was among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948.

In the history of 20th century Brazil, Aranha also plays an oversized role as one of the most important statesmen that helped shape our own nation. Between the 1930s and 1950s he served as justice and interior affairs minister, ambassador to the United States and foreign affairs, finance and agriculture minister. He also had an important part in at least two other moments that helped tie the history of Brazil with that of Israel.
Apple Music Reveals Israel’s Top Hits of 2021
Apple Music on Wednesday released its annual Top 100 chart, revealing the most played songs of 2021 from their 72 million-strong user base, including the top 100 songs in Israel.

The streaming service also revealed that all of the top 20 songs of the year in Israel are local and created by Israeli musicians.

“This is a major testament to the focus Apple puts on local musicians,” the company said, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The top 10 songs listened to by Israelis in 2021:
1. Shkiot Adumot by Eden Hasson
2. Paskol Hayai by Omer Adam
3. Beit Meshugaim by Ran Danker
4. Resisim by Raviv Kaner
5. Gadal Li Ktzat Zakan by Eden Hasson
6. Barhovot Shel Tel Aviv by Eden Ben Zaken,
7. Rotze Shalom by Raviv Kaner
8. Efes Maamatz by Static, Ben El and Neta
9. Haim Meusharim by Natan Goshen and Eden Ben Zaken
10. Parzufim by Omer Adam

In 2020, there were six non-local musicians on the list, including the top two songs.
Hanukkah marks expansion of religious freedom across Muslim world
In the countries that make up the Muslim world, the festival of Hanukkah annually demonstrates the holiday’s message: freedom to live and worship for everyone – in a very real way. From Istanbul to Dubai to Baku to Nursultan – and of course in the countries who were signatories to the Abraham Accords – the lights of the eight-branch menorah shine into cities where Jews are the minority, but where today their right to live and worship as Jews is promoted, guaranteed and protected.

It’s not what many people expect to hear, but it’s the truth.

Far too often, people look at the headlines of the day and assume that Jewish life in our countries is fraught with danger; that people are afraid to show pride in our faith. And while some of this sentiment is true, reality, however, tells us that hundreds and thousands of Jews proudly attend menorah lightings in synagogues and their private homes, as well as in the public squares of cities across the Muslim world. They are met with respect and admiration.

Despite the many ways the pandemic has disrupted day-to-day life, this Hanukkah promises to shine that same light across Muslim-majority countries which are represented in the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States (ARIS). The communities we represent have seen tremendous growth and have thrived through the adversity that the past year-and-a-half has brought to everyone.

Of course, the Jewish people are not without our current challenges. There is a worrisome trend of anti-Jewish rhetoric also among some Muslims, as all too often political opinions targeting a country are turned into personal ones, targeting Jews. There is also a loaded history of expulsion, displacement and persecution of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries, which coincidently we marked this week on November 30.
Adam Sandler gives his seal of approval after sisters in rock band Haim update comedian's famous Chanukah Song: 'See you on tour!'
As the eight days and nights of Hanukkah wind down, the pop rock band Haim are offering up an updated version of Adam Sandler's hilarious and catchy Chanukah Song.

The comedian famously first performed The Chanukah Song during season 20 of Saturday Night Live in 1994, and it has since gone on to become a holiday staple.

The three sister that make up the band — Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim — posted their rendition on their Instagram and Twitter pages; only there's replaced some of the famous celebrities mentioned in the lyrics who're celebrating the Jewish Festival Of Lights.

'Maya Rudolph lights the menorah,' the Haim sisters began in their version of the now classic comedy tune.

They went on to give shout outs to the indie rock band Japanese Breakfast, Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National, actress Rashida Jones and sister Kidada Jones, and actors Eugene and Dan Levy.

They also sang in harmony about pop star Doja Cat and actor Timothée Chalamet, who are both half-Jewish: 'Put 'em both together, what a fine looking Jew!' Haim sang, in a reference to one of Sandler's most memorable lines, where he paired Paul Newman and Goldie Hawn as the ;fine looking Jew.

'Sandler we love you,' the ladies gushed in the cation of the post.

Tree that survived the Holocaust gains new life in New York City
In January of 1943, Irma Lauscher, a teacher at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, smuggled a tree into the camp so that the Jewish children imprisoned by the Nazis could celebrate Tu B’Shevat in a secret ceremony. The children used their water rations to nurture the sapling.

Of the 15,000 children who were imprisoned in Theresienstadt during the Holocaust, fewer than 200 survived. But the tree was still standing when the camp was liberated in 1945, and a sign was placed at its base marking it as a symbol of resilience.

“As the branches of this tree, so the branches of our people!” said the sign under the tree, which survivors named “The Tree of Life.” Lauscher, who survived the Holocaust, eventually was buried alongside the original tree in 1985.

In the 1980s, branch saplings were cut from the tree and planted in Jerusalem, as well as in San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia to accompany a traveling exhibit of treasures nearly lost in the Holocaust.

Now, New York City — home to the largest community of Holocaust survivors and their descendants of any city outside Israel — will also nurture a descendant of the original tree. Dr. Roger Pomerantz, a Jewish philanthropist who owns a farm in Pennsylvania that holds seven trees grown from cuttings of the original tree, has donated one to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City.


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