Tuesday, December 07, 2021

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The BBC has questions to answer
With the BBC having doubled down on its claim of “a slur about Muslims”, and with more and more people listening to the video and failing to hear any such slur or indeed make out any words at all, disgust and dismay in the Jewish community are growing. Parents of the teenagers have accused the BBC of “demonising” their children. The Board of Deputies has called on the BBC to apologise. It said:
The BBC thought that they heard a slur in English. What they were actually hearing was a distressed Jewish man speaking in Hebrew appealing for help.

Oh — and while the BBC website reported as fact
a slur about Muslims can also be heard from inside the bus

(which no-one else seems to have heard), it described the antisemitic attack itself (which everyone watching the video can clearly see) as merely
allegations [my emphasis] of antisemitic abuse directed at Jewish passengers on a bus.

Today, the ever-decent former Labour MP Lord Austin writes in the Telegraph:
I have always defended the BBC, but can’t imagine an incident involving any other group being reported in this way. It needs to listen to people from the Jewish community and look at this very carefully. We can’t have people thinking that incidents of racism are handled differently depending on who the perpetrators and victims might be.

The demonisation of Israel leads to racist attacks against Britain’s Jewish community. Our national broadcaster should be shining a spotlight on that, exposing the racists and standing up for the victims, not bending over backwards seemingly to find an equivalence where none exists.

As Ian Austin rightly says, the BBC (itself no slouch, alas, when it comes to demonising Israel) has questions to answer about this. If it persists in its claim of an anti-Muslim slur from within the bus, it must produce the evidence for this that everyone can hear for themselves. Otherwise it must take action — and be seen to take it — against those responsible for what looks horribly like an attempt at moral equivalence between Jewish victims and their attackers to diminish the reality of the antisemitism that continues so brazenly to cover Britain in shame and disgrace.

From Wiley to the Oxford St attacks, some people always think Jews deserve it
If there's one thing white supremacists and the far left agree on, it's hating Jews
Why did the BBC insist that Jews who were abused during Chanukah must have incited the violence?
The sad fact is that for most Jewish people the idea of being attacked in the street isn’t that outlandish

Yesterday ‘godfather of grime’ Wiley was back spouting off about his favourite hate subject; Jews. In a rambling YouTube video, the British star, who was thrown off of Twitter and YouTube for antisemitism, but is back on both, asked, as if he had come to some amazing new realisation: ‘Why did that happen between them and Hitler? Why? Why did Hitler hate you? Exactly.’

Antisemites always think Jews deserve to be hated. It is baked into Christian culture – the Jews killed Christ and deserve to be punished. We may be a largely secular society but that view persists in some quarters. Perhaps its clearest expression can be found in The Great Replacement theory being spread by white supremacists. Coined by the French writer Renaud Camus, who has been found guilty in his home country of inciting racial hatred, the theory posits that because Jews fought for more immigration rights, feminism and the decriminalisation of homosexuality, they want to replace white Christians. It was adherence to this warped ideology that led a white supremacist to kill 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

On much of the contemporary left, Jews are seen as fair game because of Israel. Only the ‘good Jews’ – the ones who openly denounce the only Jewish majority state in the world will be allowed to be part of their ‘progressive’ circles and even then, they will be viewed with suspicion. For the hard left in particular, Jews deserve to be punished for speaking up against the sainted Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitism. Indeed, people with ‘anti-racist’ or ‘peace and love’ in their Twitter bios are still remarkably keen to tell me, a Jewish writer, that ‘the Jews deserve what is coming for attacking Jeremy Corbyn’.

So when a group of religious Jewish kids, who had been singing and handing out doughnuts in celebration of Chanukah, were attacked by a group of people in Oxford Street last week, while most people were simply outraged, some – including in a BBC newsroom – asked: ‘What did they do to deserve it?’.

Academic Freedom Is Under Siege by Anti-Israel Politics
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), which boasts over 2,800 members, has long been a friend of anti-Israel advocacy. The historian Martin Kramer, considering what was on offer at MESA’s 2005 conference, wrote that “for MESAns, the Palestinians are the chosen people, and more so now than ever. More papers are devoted to Palestine than to any other country.” “Paper after paper,” he added, presents an “elaboration of Palestinian nationalist ideology, ‘academized’ into ‘discourse’ by grad students and post-docs who’ve already given stump harangues, organized sit-ins, and written passionate propaganda pieces.”

To learn more about the deep roots of this kind of thing in MESA and the field of Middle East Studies, one does well to read Kramer’s 2001 book on the subject. Yet MESA, whose bylaws not so long ago described it as “nonpolitical” and whose membership includes some principled scholars, have refrained from endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel. Also in 2005, Ali Banuazizi, then president of the organization, wrote on the Association’s behalf to denounce a boycott of two Israel universities instigated by Britain’s Association of University Teachers. Banuazizi explained that the boycott contradicted “the deep commitment of this association and its membership to the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of information and ideas.”

So much for that. In 2017, MESA’s membership removed “nonpolitical” from its bylaws. And this year, voters at MESA’s annual conference overwhelmingly passed a resolution that “endorses the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society for BDS against Israel.” A full membership vote is scheduled for next year.

The text of the resolution can be found here.

Although MESA’s members, unlike the other academic groups that have endorsed BDS, study the Middle East, their resolution rehearses the usual talking points. Presumably, because some members have some qualms about a scholarly association running a political campaign, most of it centers on alleged Israeli violations of academic freedom, which arguably fall under the purview of an academic association. But the charges, as I’ve explained elsewhere, are overblown. And singling out Israel, of all places in the Middle East, for a comprehensive boycott over its record on academic freedom is outrageous.

MESA’s shameful betrayal of academic freedom
There is no surprise that an academic association like the MESA would call for a boycott against only one country—Israel—precisely because a large number of its ranks are evidently steeped in a world view defined by post-colonial, anti-American, anti-Israel thinking, and dedicated to the elevation of identity politics and a cult of victimhood. That they profess to hold high-minded, well-intentioned motives, and speak with such rectitude, does not excuse the fact that their efforts are in the end a betrayal of what the study of history and the university have, and should, stand for—the free exchange of ideas, even ones bad, without political or ideological litmus tests.

The moral arrogance of MESA’s boycott proposal is breathtaking, and not only because of its grotesque version of the anti-Semitic practice of making all Israeli academics responsible for the political actions of the Jewish state. It reveals that the pro-Palestinian movement is so enthralled with the righteousness of its cause that anyone who harbors or expresses other views is considered a pariah, unworthy to have his or her ideas heard in the marketplace of ideas on campus. It collectively punished all academics within Israel regardless of their political leanings or views on the Israeli/Palestine conflict.

And, most absurdly, it pretends that by implementing an academic boycott against Israel that action will result in productive change, that by punishing Israel by purging its academics from the world community of scholars, Israel’s leaders will cave to the demands of those who actually wish to weaken and destroy the Jewish state completely.

Insightful commentator Melanie Phillips, in speaking about a British lecturer union’s call for an academic boycott, lamented how those academics, with a long tradition of learning, had incredulously shamed that legacy and that their action, as she put it, “represents a profound betrayal of the cardinal principle of intellectual endeavour [sic], which is freedom of speech and debate.”

The act of condemning Israel’s universities, of excluding them from the fellowship of the international academic community, was, and is, Phillips thought, a disgraceful calumny that contradicted the primary values of a university.

By proposing that Israeli scholars be banned from universities’ “marketplace of ideas,” from vigorous inquiry and debate, MESA members are violating what should be the core precepts of the academy: bringing in many views so that the better ones are revealed, and not suppressing dissent based on whose views and ideology are currently in favor.

In trying to weaken and destroy Israel—and make it a pariah in the world community of scholars—MESA’s tenured radicals are violating one of the highest precepts of education.
US Mideast academic group opposes MESA’s BDS activity
The executive director of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), Asaf Romirowksy, issued on Saturday a rebuke of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) for its move toward endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting Israel.

“Overall, the goals of ASMEA still remain to help energize, clean and reshape a field that has long lost since its obligation to academic objectivity to transform Middle Eastern studies into platforms for agitprop especially, now that the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is in the midst of fully endorsing BDS. The Middle East deserves far more than the platitudes and reductionist writings that have become the trademark of so many in the field of Middle East Studies. At ASMEA we strive and promise to provide the critically needed diversity of opinions and perspectives, “ said Romirowsky.

Writing in The National Interest on Saturday, Romirowsky and Alex Joffe, a senior non-resident scholar at the BESA Center at Bar-Ilan University, said that “The irony that calls for academics to discriminate against an entire society is cast in terms of alleged infringements on academic freedom is equally blatant but is not especially new. Both overt hostility to Israel and antisemitism under the guise of anti-Zionism have for years dominated the field of Middle East Studies, a fact illustrated by the parade of anti-Israel vituperation on display annual at MESA conferences and its routine, almost United Nations-like, condemnations of Israel.”

The scholars added that “MESA has thus gone from merely endorsing the call to boycott Israel to calling on its members to do so, and actively doing so itself. Israeli universities, among the most liberal (and multicultural) institutions in that society, are branded as human rights violators. Individual Israeli academics are not formally targeted but will be in reality, as MESA members evaluate job applicants, visiting speakers, grant proposals, and the like. The litmus test for MESA members, and Israelis, is blatant.”

MESA’s planned vote on BDS comes amid the votes by federal parliaments in Germany and Austria that deemed BDS an antisemitic campaign that recalls the Nazi movement’s boycott of Jewish businesses during the 1930’s.
Emily Schrader: Free speech isn't always free on university campuses
First, according to social media hate speech standards, Mashayekh’s comments are absolutely a violation of Twitter’s hate speech policies. Second, at USC, codes of conduct for university students prohibit expressing an intent to “kill” a minority group. For example, Mashayekh’s comments clearly violate the policy on prohibited discrimination, harassment and retaliation, which states, “the University prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion (including religious dress and grooming practices), creed... political belief or affiliation... and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under federal, state, or local law, regulation, or ordinance (Protected Characteristics).”

Even under the US Constitution, Mashayekh’s comments are not protected speech. Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz stated unequivocally that the comment about killing Zionists “is not protected speech for a university student,” and argued that should USC do nothing, they could be subject to losing federal funding.

On the issue of whether Mashayekh’s comments were worthy of expulsion, Dershowitz stated, “[USC] is obligated to take action... president [Donald] Trump, two years ago, issued an executive order which has not been rescinded that requires universities to treat anti-Zionism and antisemitism the same way they treat anti-black, anti-feminist, anti-gay... so this would clearly fall within that.”

Dershowitz elaborated, “there has to be one standard that applies to everybody, and the question is what would happen... if a white supremacist said I want to kill all blacks?... If it would be disciplinable for some other person in another group to say he wants to kill all of ‘fill in the blank,’ then this has to be subject to discipline as well.”

As a USC alumna myself, I can attest to the fact there is a large and vocal Jewish, and yes, Zionist, community on campus, meaning that this student is in close proximity to many of the group of people that she explicitly expressed, repeatedly, that she wanted to kill. Not only that, she has expressed pro-violence views and supported a US-designated terrorist organization. If you were a Jewish student at USC, would you feel safe?

USC Student Senator Under Fire for Tweeting “I Want to Kill Every Motherf—ing Zionist,” Other Alleged Antisemitic Tweets
USC student Yasmeen Mashayekh is currently under fire over past tweets that Jewish groups are alleging are antisemitic.

The Canary Mission watchdog posted a video to Twitter on November 22 highlighting some of Mashayekh’s past tweets, which included: “I want to kill every motherf—ing Zionist,” “Curse the Jews [in Arabic],” “Zionists are going to f—ing pay,” “LONG LIVE THE INTIFADA” and “I f—ing love [H]amas.” The video pointed to Mashayekh’s status as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Student Senator at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Viterbi Graduate Student Association (VGSA) and argued that her tweets showed that she was not worthy of the position.

Prior to the Canary Mission video, Stop Antisemitism had tweeted about Mashayekh, but Palestine Legal claimed in July that “USC responded to the smear campaign by quietly removing Mashayekh from a post celebrating women leaders at the engineering school. After Palestine Legal intervened, Mashayekh was added back to the post.” Palestine Legal did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment on what this post was or their response to Mashayekh’s tweets.

Since the video came out, Stop Antisemitism noted that USC Viterbi’s website no longer lists Mashayekh as a DEI senator and called for her expulsion. However, Mashayekh tweeted out a photo on November 30 of a name badge labeling her as a DEI senator.

USC Viterbi’s only public comment on the matter was a November 24 statement saying that Mashayekh is not employed by the university and “is a member of a graduate student group that is self-organized, elects its own council members, and does not set the university’s policies. Even though the statements at issue are legally protected, we understand they are disturbing. USC rejects and condemns hatred in all its forms.” The VGSA did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
USC Defends Response as 60 Faculty Members Call for ‘Rebuke’ Over Student’s Violently Antisemitic Tweets
The University of Southern California (USC) defended on Friday its efforts to address antisemitism on campus, in a private letter addressed to a group of 60 faculty calling for the censure of an engineering student who had posted a series of violently antisemitic tweets.

The faculty group’s Dec. 1 open letter described their “dismay about ongoing expressions of antisemitism and Zionophobia on our campus that go unrebuked.” They cited statements by a USC Viterbi School of Engineering student who in mid-2021 tweeted, “I want to kill every motherf**king Zionist” and “Death to Israel and its b**ch the U.S.,” among other comments.

“We urge you to condemn the hateful content of these statements and to reaffirm that such views are contrary to USC’s values,” the group of concerned faculty wrote. “Most importantly, Jewish, Zionist, and Israeli students, as well as those who support the right of the State of Israel to exist need to hear from our leaders that they are welcome on our campus.”

Their letter also discussed the August 2020 online harassment of Rose Ritch, an undergraduate who resigned as vice president of the student government due to abuse faced for supporting Israel, as well as the USC Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies’ posting of a May statement that accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Both incidents were the subject of previous faculty letters decrying antisemitism at USC.

Responding in a Friday letter seen by The Algemeiner, USC President Carol L. Folt said the administration was “disturbed” by the offending tweets, but argued it it could not discuss matters about specific students publicly.
‘Israeli Apartheid’: University of Toronto’s Kosher Food Row Exposes Acceptance of BDS on Campus
The University of Toronto’s student union was embroiled in a scandal over its kosher food dining options for Jewish students last month.

The row started when the college’s Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) proposed a resolution that stated, “efforts should be made to source kosher food from organizations that do not normalize Israeli apartheid.”

It was noted, however, that an exemption to the rule would be considered in the event that “no alternative” suppliers are available.

Unsurprisingly, the motion ignited a storm as Jewish students and groups made clear their disappointment.

As Jewish on Campus, a group dedicated to combatting antisemitism in higher education establishments, shrewdly noted: “It is only Jews who are subjected to the anti-Israel litmus test – in this case just in order to eat.”

The resulting furor forced the university’s president, Meric Gertler, to intervene and issue a statement describing the resolution as inconsistent with the university’s “core values of freedom of speech and inclusion,” adding: “A requirement that providers of food as a religious accommodation be required to apply for an exemption, or even be asked about their views about issues elsewhere in the world is unacceptable.”

This prompted the union to revise the original motion, hence removing any reference to kosher food providers.

Hate 101: Antisemitism on Campus
But while the eventual climb down by the SCSU may seem like a victory against a campus cause célèbre, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, it actually exposed how antisemitism within the institution has become endemic.

Furthermore, any idea that the faculty’s response is one deserving of praise is an illusion. This is, after all, the same university leadership that had previously promised to combat anti-Jewish bigotry, calling it an “ancient and pernicious form of hatred” that “remains a dangerous source of discrimination, harassment, and violence today and a threat to all free societies.”

Yet, these words ring hollow considering the resolution proposed by the SCSU comes as a result of the University of Toronto systematically turning a blind eye to the pervasive culture of antisemitism – often performed under the guise of so-called “legitimate criticism of Israel” – that has taken root in Canada’s most respected college.
Toronto School Officials Censure Trustee Who Sounded Alarm on Antisemitic Materials
A Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee who raised concerns on Twitter last spring about a “manual” sent to teachers that included antisemitic messages was recommended for “censure.”

The recommendation was issued on Thursday against trustee Alexandra Lulka by Integrity Commissioner Suzanne Craig, who in her report also found that the materials Lulka complained about did, in fact, contain some antisemitic writings and promoted terrorism.

“Censure,” according to trustees, “is the harshest penalty that can be meted out to a trustee.”

According to Craig, Lulka’s online posts “fell within the TDSB definition of being discriminatory and did breach” the district’s code of conduct.

She added she could not rule on other accusations against Lulka because her social media posts were “intended to curtail the furtherance of distribution of materials that the respondent believed were harmful to the wellbeing of students at the TDSB, in particular Jewish students. That being said, it was the responsibility of the TDSB and not the respondent to make a determination of whether the materials were inappropriate and discriminatory.”

The complaint against Lulka to the district stems from an incident that took place in May during Israel’s 11-day conflict with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Javier DaVila, a member of the board’s “gender-based violence unit,” distributed a 51-page anti-Israel manual to teachers who requested it. The booklet discusses “Palestine” and “colonization” by Israel, includes suggested reading materials and promotes BDS. DaVila was initially put on leave but has since returned to his post.
Unilever facing increasing heat over Ben & Jerry's ice cream boycott
British multinational company Unilever is facing growing pressure over subsidiary Ben & Jerry's adamant refusal to allow its Israeli franchisee to continue sales in Judea and Samaria, financial daily Globes reported Sunday.

Ben & Jerry's moved in July to end a license for its ice cream to be sold in the Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying sales there were "inconsistent with its values."

The decision prompted massive criticism as well as accusations of discrimination and antisemitism against both companies.

Unilever, which has been trying to distance itself from the ice cream giant's move, has been facing increasing heat in the US, where dozens of states have passed anti-BDS laws banning investment of public pension funds or the awarding of government procurement contracts to companies that boycott Israel.

So far, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Arizona have divested their pension fund from the UK conglomerate, and US lawmakers are working to launch a Securities and Exchange Commission review if the regulatory implications of Ben & Jerry's decision and another 33 states have stated that they are considering taking similar action.

According to the report, Unilever's shares have dropped by 12% over the past few months.
The Washington Times Covers Antisemitism on the Far Left
Given this animus toward Israel, it should come as no surprise that HRW has supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As NGO Monitor has documented, HRW has called for banks, businesses, and countries—indeed, even sports leagues like FIFA—to boycott the Jewish state and its entities, either in part or in whole. Attempts to single out Israel, and Israel alone, for economic boycotts meet the IHRA definition of antisemitism and clearly show HRW’s obsessive fixation with the Jewish state.

Unfortunately, the Washington Times omitted this pertinent information about HRW’s troubling history.

The Times also failed to provide readers with essential details about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who, the newspaper reported, has “suffered criticism for antisemitic rhetoric” after suggesting “that Jewish people are not fully loyal to the U.S. because of their ties to Israel.” Omar apparently declined to comment for the Washington Times’s report.

Omar’s antisemitism and transgressions extend far beyond the comments that Murakami highlighted. As CAMERA has documented, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) tried to go on a trip to Israel that was sponsored by Miftah, an NGO that has published claims that Jews consume Christian blood and which praised suicide bombers. The trip’s itinerary referred to all of Israel as “Palestine” and included meetings with organizations that have links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

The Washington Times deserves credit for highlighting antisemitism, a virus that has murdered millions in living memory and which should be confronted irrespective of the political ideologies of its proponents. The newspaper’s report included important information but omitted key details about the organizations and individuals that have helped spread the virus.
HonestReporting: CAIRless: Why Do Media Cite a Group That Called for Tel Aviv's 'Liberation'?
Why do media outlets uncritically cite the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism?

In 2021, reputable publications like CNN, The Washington Post and The Guardian mentioned CAIR over 250 times -- all too often without disclosing the group's controversial statements.

For instance, during the American Muslims for Palestine's annual conference, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad vowed to fight the Biden Administration’s plan to replenish Israel's Iron Dome. The missile defense system saves lives on both sides of the Gaza border by preventing further escalation.

According to CAIR, the city of Tel Aviv is "occupied" by Israel, but "Allah willing" will be "free[d] later."

CAIR San Francisco leader Zahra Billoo, who in 2019 was booted from the Women's March due to her antisemitic views, at the conference blamed "Zionists" for Islamophobia and police violence in the US. Like Awad, Billoo clarified CAIR's actual agenda: rejecting the existence of Jewish sovereignty in any way, shape or form.

NYTimes replaces ‘anti-Semitism’ with ‘antisemitism’ in updated style guidance
Following the example of a number of publications that have made the switch in recent months, The New York Times has updated its style guide to replace “anti-Semitism” with “antisemitism,” Jewish Insider has learned.

The change, which removes the hyphen and lowercases the first S, comes in response to a growing chorus of Jewish activists who have argued that the traditional usage distorts the true meaning of the term.

The paper made no public announcement of the switch, which was formally adopted in August, according to Phil Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards at the Times.

While the new spelling by the paper of record may seem merely cosmetic, it reflects a deeper linguistic debate that has long been brewing within the Jewish community.

In 2015, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance began advocating for “antisemitism” over “anti-Semitism” — a term popularized in the late 1800s by the right-wing German polemicist Wilhelm Marr — out of concern that the “hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called ‘Semitism.’”

That idea “not only legitimizes a form of pseudo-scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology,” the IHRA said at the time, “but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown complains that Israel isn't criticised enough
Also, her claim that the terrorist was denied medical care isn’t backed up with a source. Though, it is a common for police to check to determine if a wounded terrorist has a suicide bomb before allowing medical personnel to approach.

Alibhai-Brown then writes the following, attempting to contextualise the ‘tragedy’ of the Palestinian killed after committing a terror attack.

A Palestinian doctor I know well tells me: “Death is not bad. You go, the end. But how to live without facilities, humiliated, our homes destroyed, farms and homes seized, our children treated like cockroaches? [It seems that] some young men do bad things to be shot dead.”

His wife, now very depressed, recently aborted the third child she was carrying. These are the everyday sufferings of a people, political pawns who have been pushed into a pit that gets deeper and darker as time goes on.

Are we truly supposed to conclude that there’s some connection between Israeli policy and the woman’s depression, as well as her decision to have an abortion? (Note, it wouldn’t be the first time a UK media outlet blamed Israel for Palestinian mental health issues.)

The op-ed then claims:
Women and young teens are treated abominably in Israeli jails. Save the Children found that children in the detention system faced beatings, strip searches and psychological abuse.

However, in addition to the fact that most of the ‘children’ are 16-18 years old and incarcerated for terror attacks, NGO Monitor and blogger Elder of Ziyon noted that the report’s authors acknowledged that, “it is not a statistically significant or representative sample”, that“the report …presents children’s experience from their own perspective” and that their claims “have not been independently verified by Save the Children”.

Alibhai-Brown continues:
As children enact the nativity play this Christmas, how many parents know that Bethlehem, Christ’s birthplace, is now an Israeli-controlled town where Palestinians live abjectly and fearfully?

Bethlehem is in Area A of the West Bank, which means it’s completely controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, Bethlehem residents generally don’t live “abjectly”, as – though its tourist-base economy was hit hard by the COVID epidemic – it’s generally considered one of the more prosperous cities in the West Bank.
BBC’s Bateman digs up old narratives in Gilboa jailbreak report
Early on the morning of December 6th a twelve-and-a-half-minute filmed report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Subsequent promotion of that report, as well as its synopsis, framed it as “a story of dispossession, violence and bitter division in a fractured region”. Significantly, that claim of “dispossession”- i.e. the action of depriving someone of land, property, or other possessions – was not clarified throughout the film.

Titled ‘Escape from Gilboa’, the film relates to the escape of six security prisoners from Gilboa prison that was already covered in four BBC News website reports in September of this year.

Interspersed with context-free clips from unidentified speakers, Bateman’s introduction also promotes the unexplained notion of ‘dispossession’.

Bateman: “This is the story of an extraordinary jailbreak. […] How did six men dig their way out of maximum security in a region that can quickly ignite? […] And as the prisoners resurfaced, so did a powerful story of dispossession, violence and bitter division.
Fourth Public Hanukkah Menorah Toppled by Antisemitic Vandals in Ukraine
Police in western Ukraine are investigating an act of antisemitic vandalism in the city of Uzhhorod, after a Hanukkah menorah was toppled and then dumped into a local river.

The incident brought the number of antisemitic incidents in Ukraine during the week-long festival of Hanukkah to four.

Members of the local Jewish community on Sunday alerted police when they arrived at the site of the menorah to celebrate the last night of candle lighting, only to find that it had been torn from its spot and dragged into an adjacent river.

A temporary menorah was then quickly erected. “We will light the last eighth candle on the temporary menorah, which will stand here until tomorrow,” Uzbek and Transcarpathian Chief Rabbi Menachem Mendel Wilhelm told local media outlets.

The US Embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv condemned the vandalism in a post on Twitter.

“Saddened to hear vandals toppled a Hanukkah menorah in central Uzhhorod,” the embassy tweeted. “We look forward to a swift investigation. The United States stands with Ukraine in condemning antisemitism.”

NJ Cops Investigate Swastika Sticker Placed at Local Synagogue on Last Day of Hanukkah
Police in New Jersey are investigating the discovery on Sunday of a sticker adorned with a Nazi swastika and the words “We Are Everywhere” at a synagogue in the township of Mount Laurel.

The sticker was found at Adath Emanu-El Synagogue on Elbo Lane. Its message was immediately condemned by local officials and Jewish community groups.

“It’s disgusting,” Mount Laurel’s Mayor, Stephen Steglik, told local news outlet the Courier Post on Monday.

“There’s no other word for it, especially as our neighbors and friends and families are wrapping up the holiday season for Hanukkah,” the mayor added.

“There are more people who denounce hate than there are who promote it,” Steglik commented, referring to the sticker’s message that Nazis are “everywhere.”

The synagogue’s rabbi, Benjamin David, said the incident was a reminder “of the darkness that still exists in our world.”

But he praised congregants for attending an outdoor menorah lighting for the last night of Hanukkah on Sunday, where a strong police presence was observed.

The turnout was as “an inspiring show of support and community,” Rabbi David said.

Intel to take Mobileye public in 2022 at estimated $50b valuation
Four years after Intel Corporation acquired Israel’s Mobileye for over $15 billion, the semiconductor giant said Tuesday that it was planning to make its Jerusalem-based subsidiary, a world leader in self-driving technologies, a public company in 2022 at a valuation of approximately $50 billion.

Intel made the announcement Tuesday, a day after it said it was acquiring Israeli company Screenovate in a deal estimated at $150 million.

Intel said the move would “unlock the value of Mobileye for Intel shareholders by creating a separate publicly traded company and will build on Mobileye’s successful track record and serve its expanded market.”

The multinational said Mobileye expects to deliver over 40 percent more revenue in 2021 compared to last year, through a number of products and programs in place with more than 30 automakers worldwide and other partners.

In the four years since the acquisition, Intel said, Mobileye has “experienced substantial revenue growth, achieved numerous technical innovations and made significant investments directed to solving the most difficult scientific and technology problems to prepare the deployment of autonomous driving at scale.”

Intel said it will remain the majority owner of Mobileye, and the two companies will continue working together as they “pursue the growth of computing in the automotive sector.” The Mobileye executive team will remain in place, with co-founder Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO.
How the true story of Mizrahi Jews defeats anti-Zionist mythology
This singular episode speaks volumes about the Middle East conflict. Many—seemingly most—Muslim and Arab leaders cannot countenance a story in which they are the persecutors and not victims. They act to ensure that any mention of their history as conquerors, occupiers and colonizers is excised from the history books and banished from public forums.

It is for this reason that the history and expulsion of Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa is so challenging for Arabs and Muslims. It reverses their central common understanding of the conflict.

The story of Mizrahi Jews confirms that the Jews are the indigenous people of the region, who were conquered, occupied and colonized by marauding Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs imposed their religion, language and culture on those living there, including many Jews in the Land of Israel, who were converted at the point of a sword.

This is the reason some Palestinians in certain areas, such as around Hebron—the first Jewish capital city—have discovered they have Jewish DNA.

It behooves advocates for Israel to ensure the true history of the region is spread, despite threats. The story of Mizrahi Jews is the ultimate antidote to many of the lies told about Israel.

Of course, every Jew is indigenous to the land of Israel—because all belong to the Jewish people—regardless of their recent heritage. But it is these Middle Eastern and African Jews whose history most threatens BDS and anti-Israel activists. This is why so many enemies of Israel resort to false claims that Israel was settled by European colonists and that European Jews are converts—and why Mizrahi history is forcibly suppressed.

The Mizrahi heritage story dispels the false mythology that Arabs or Muslims are indigenous to the region, that the Jews came from distant lands—and especially that Palestinian Arabs are being forced out of their “homeland.” These lies are the foundational pillars of the anti-Israel movement—which come crashing down when the real story emerges.
A Cousin’s Courage
This past March I received an unexpected text message from my cousin Carrie about a new book called The Light of Days by Judy Batalion. This book spoke at length about young women during the Holocaust who were a part of underground movements that planned and plotted against the Nazis.

As I read about these courageous heroines, my gaze stopped short on the name Renia Kukielka. The central character of Batalion’s book, she was known as a “courier girl” for Freedom, a youth movement that resisted the Nazis in Poland. At 18, she was a spy who delivered documents, food, and medicine to Jews in the ghettos; she also smuggled grenades and pistols, and hid bullets in jars of jam. With her fair skin and ability to speak Polish, she was able to pass as a Christian. Even after she was thrown into a prison and beaten, she never gave up her Jewish identity. Ultimately, she and her brother Aaron survived and immigrated to Israel, where they each had families of their own.

But her story isn’t what caught my eye; it was her name. Renia’s last name, an uncommon one, was also my family’s name. My cousin Carrie, also a Kukielka, had told me about the book to see if I had ever heard of Renia. It wasn’t every day that our family’s name was mentioned in a news article, let alone part of a bestselling book. I hadn’t heard of Renia, but as the memory-keeper of my family’s Holocaust stories, I was determined to find out if this unbelievable heroine and her brother were my relatives.

I found Batalion on Instagram and over the course of a month, we corresponded and, along with other members of my family, tried to piece the puzzle together. I discovered that the name Kukielka had changed to other versions: Renia’s brother Aaron, for instance, had changed his last name to Kleinman. When I told my cousin Carrie about this, she sent me a photograph of her with her father—my uncle, David Kukielka—and Aaron Kleinman. They had all met in Israel in 2007. Aaron Kleinman was my grandfather’s first cousin and—we now realized—so was his sister, Renia Kukielka.

When I was growing up, my grandparents never spoke about the Holocaust, and I never felt brave enough to ask them. I learned about their stories of survival through my mother and her siblings in bits and pieces, and I especially relied on my Uncle David who, like me, had an intense need to be the family’s memory-keeper after my grandparents died. He kept their stories alive for me—until he died in 2013. I heard about my grandfather’s sister Sala, who was thrown into a Siberian prison while pregnant; she escaped and survived, but her baby did not. My grandfather Shimon Kukielka lost his first wife and daughter in Auschwitz and my grandmother Yehudit Kukielka lost her first husband and young son when she was 21. There were countless others who had been murdered at the hands of the Nazis: my great-grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Yet somehow my grandfather found my grandmother in a Lithuanian forest and together they immigrated to Israel after the war. There they would have five children, one of whom would be my mother, Bracha Kukielka.
Book Review | The Passport as Home: Comfort in Restlessness
It is a shame, in particular, that he does not explain here more fully quite why Jews are so central to this amalgam, or summarise here his important argument that contemporary antisemitism is intimately bound up with anti-Americanism. In a number of works,[2] he has argued compellingly that what connects them is (amongst others) the sense that they are both badges of honour and generally acceptable among those who like to think of themselves as progressive; that they have been widespread among cultural elites and intellectuals for a long time, gained in strength with the collapse of communism and have been especially resurgent in the 21st century; and that they both draw, wittingly or unwittingly, on several Nazi claims. What the Nazis said especially about the United States as being dominated by Jews is now rearticulated in the claim that Israel is a tool of the United States or (even worse) vice versa. Of course, this argument also had its Soviet version, with which the memoir begins, in the claim that Jews were not only rootless cosmopolitans but also Zionists. Despite the obvious contradiction between these two assertions (since cosmopolitans are, by definition, not nationalists and Zionism is a form of nationalism, even apparently the very worst), what connects them is the antisemitic belief that Jews are fundamentally disloyal, alien, not to be trusted, and engaged in a global conspiracy to thwart the forces of progress.

One feels considerable sympathy for the author’s justification for withdrawing from debates with those who promulgate this rubbish on the grounds that they are ‘never ending’, as they are indeed. But he also provides, at least implicitly, some interesting observations as to how and why this toxic amalgam has such an appeal, and at what level this appeal operates. As well as his work on anti-Americanism and antisemitism, he is probably even better known for his work on West German politics and society, on trade unions and on both Red and Green parties. In the process, he developed a strong sympathy for a polity which has developed some sturdy and quite resilient liberal democratic institutions for the first time in German history, and notes that those who, in the Federal Republic, have taken a commitment to liberal democratic norms and values most seriously are also those have shown the most compassion for and interest in Jews. But he also notes[3] that this compassion and interest has largely been lacking (and one might add is even more lacking today[4]) on the radical anti-fascist left. But at the same time, he observes that even the compassion and interest of the former may not have such deep roots, because there is another realm, that of the emotions, below the surface, where things may not be so straightforward. What this observation may be connected to is a crucial argument made some time ago by Sartre[5], that one cannot reason with antisemites. Their ‘arguments’ cannot be countered with logic or evidence because antisemitism is a passion. Antisemitism is not about what Jews do or do not do; it is about what antisemites fantasise about and what they project on to Jews. That is an important part of what makes arguing against antisemites so upsetting and dispiriting. There is, all too often, no argument in principle, no evidence one can point to that would make them change their minds.

Perhaps the best that one may hope for sometimes is the richness of a life lived without such a destructive set of emotions, the worth of work that is grounded on logic and evidence, the support of people (as the author generously attests to in this memoir) from whom one can learn and with whom one can share insight and understanding. It is this record and these experiences, perhaps above all, which shine brightest out of this evocative memoir.
Pennsylvania pledges $6.6 million to redevelop Tree of Life site
Pennsylvania will allocate $6.6 million in funding for the redevelopment of the Tree of Life synagogue campus where 11 people were killed in 2018 in the worst antisemitic attack on United States soil in history.

Speaking at a press conference outside the synagogue on Monday, the last day of Hanukkah, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called the state’s contribution to the renovation “a Hanukkah present.”

“Tree of Life is undertaking a project to remember the past, to inform the present, and promote healing for the future,” Wolf said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “And I am so proud to support the communities’ efforts to reimagine this space, to create a welcoming place for residents, for visitors in Pittsburgh to reflect, and to learn, and to grow.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, rabbi of the Tree of Life synagogue, also acknowledged the holiday in his remarks and with the menorah he presented to Wolf as a gift.

“Hanukkah means rededication,” Myers said. “And that is indeed the journey that we are on.”

The money from the state will be used to renovate the synagogue’s main sanctuary as well as to replace the synagogue’s chapel, which was where several of the victims of the attack were killed. The synagogue will also build a garden outside the synagogue as a memorial to the 11 victims.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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