Saturday, January 08, 2022

From Ian:

Abraham Accords' true potential goes far deeper than business ties - opinion
Potential models for enhanced Abraham Accords regional economic cooperation can be found particularly in Asia, where organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have contributed to the growth and an increase in intra-regional trade.

The new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), linking 15 Asia-Pacific nations of different sizes, levels of development, and systems of government, could serve as an initial model for economic partnership among Avraham Accords countries.

As the enormous benefits of this win-win regional cooperation become increasingly clear, more countries will likely join the Abraham Accords, thereby creating a virtuous circle of peace and growth.

While the Abraham Accords have the potential to transform the region, such a transformation will not happen on its own. Decision makers must focus time, energy and effort on those actions that serve to liberate the economic potential of the Avraham Accords, adopt a strategic approach which utilizes the unique contributions of each member, cut through bureaucratic red-tape, and help with integration with global markets.

Concluding government-to-government financial and investment agreements must be given top priority, and ongoing high-level forums of officials empowered to overcome remaining barriers should be established.

It is critical that such processes make substantial progress in 2022, otherwise we risk losing the positive momentum begun with the signing of the original accords in September 2020.

Realizing the full potential of the Abraham Accords will undoubtedly require great vision and investment. Fortunately, the region has shown tremendous capacity for both. Leveraging the historic agreements today will provide returns of prosperity, opportunity and stability for generations to come.
Meet the Arab Zionists: a new generation of online pioneers
“The Golan Heights is the only area in Syria that hasn’t been destroyed and had its people killed.”

With these words, a Syrian blogger began a video begging the Israeli government to “occupy” the entire country of Syria to save more lives.

In another video, an Arab academic dressed in a long white kandura is moved to tears by visiting Yad Vashem, promising: “Today, together, Muslims Jews and Christians, we promise you, it will never happen again.”

The huge growth of social media has in recent years allowed the world to see a different Middle East — one where individuals have been able to directly communicate their honest views on Jews and Israel to the world.

But in 2020, something changed again. The signing of the Abraham Accords in September that year was a watershed moment: it allowed many Arabs to speak out openly about Israel without fear of a backlash — while opening the door to positive experiences of Israel, whether via the news or trips to the Jewish state.

Now, in a growing trend, pioneering Arab Zionists and pro-Israel influencers — who once would have been labelled traitors — are promoting Israel to their hundreds and thousands of followers.

Loay Al-Shareef, 39, is an Abu Dhabi-based social-media influencer and a self-declared Zionist. He has 180,000 followers on Twitter, and more than 80,000 on Instagram, thanks largely to his regular posts about languages and etymology.

Erdan submits UN resolution opposing Holocaust denial and distortion
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan has submitted a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly to combat Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion.

The resolution defines Holocaust denial; calls on countries and social-media companies to take steps to fight anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial; and calls on U.N. countries to develop Holocaust-education programs.

According to the Israeli Mission to the United Nations, the language also “provides guidance for the U.N.’s Outreach Programme on the Holocaust and other relevant U.N. bodies to develop programs to combat Holocaust denial and promote cooperation with civil society organizations on Holocaust remembrance.”

Erdan originally planned on putting forward the resolution later this month but decided to submit it on Wednesday instead.

“The passing of this resolution is of great importance so that the shocking phenomenon of Holocaust denial becomes a red line in the international arena,” he said. “The U.N. resolution will set a new international standard for combating this terrible trend and will hold everyone, including countries and Internet companies, responsible for fighting Holocaust denial and teaching the younger generation about what really happened to the Jewish people and what the background to these heinous acts was.”
'Jewish heritage is being destroyed before our very eyes'
Prophet Joshua's altar, located on Mount Ebal in Judea and Samaria, has been vandalized again, the right-wing NGO Shomrim al Hanetzach said this week.

The area is located in Area B of the West Bank, which is under the civilian control of the Palestinian Authority.

In February, the organization reported a similar incident, when Palestinian roadwork destroyed portions of a 3,200-year-old wall of the biblical site. The perpetrators of this week's vandalism are unknown.

The Shomrim al Hanetzach report showed walls that had been broken, and stones removed from the altar, as well as damage to the exterior wall of the site.

The Samaria Regional Council, under whose jurisdiction the site falls, expressed concern for the safety of Joshua's altar, which is one of few structures that remains intact from the period the Jewish people entered the land of Israel more than 2,000 years ago, and as such, has unique historic value.

PA leader's son accused of aiding terrorism released from Egyptian jail
Egyptian authorities have freed Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist Ramy Shaath after more than 900 days of arbitrary detention, a statement from Shaath's family said on Saturday.

Shaath, who was a member of several secular political groups in Egypt and a co-founder of Egypt's pro-Palestinian BDS movement, had been forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship and was on his way to France, his family said.

"If we are glad that the Egyptian authorities heard our call for freedom, we regret that they forced Ramy to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release that should have been unconditional," the family statement said.

"No one should have to choose between their freedom and their citizenship."

Shaath, 50, a co-founder of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt, is the son of Nabil Shaath, a former Palestinian Authority foreign minister and veteran member of the Palestinian leadership.

He was arrested in 2019 together with several Egyptian activists and businessmen on suspicion of assisting a terrorist group, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in the case known as Al-Amal (Hope) Cell.

PA arrests son of Gilboa prison escapee, sparking clashes and gun battle in Jenin
Clashes erupted in the West Bank city of Jenin in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning after Palestinian Authority security forces arrested three people, including the son of a terror leader who broke out of an Israeli prison last year.

PA security forces forcibly arrested Muhammad Zubeidi, son of Zakaria Zubeidi, a terror convict who broke out of Israel’s Gilboa prison and went on the lam for a week before being recaptured.

The Palestinian officers also arrested two other individuals, Haaretz reported. The reason for the arrests was unclear.

Video clips that were said to show officers arresting younger Zubeidi and roughing him up circulated online, sparking furor in the restive city.

Dozens of armed Jenin residents confronted the PA security forces to oppose the arrests. Arabic media reports said protesters fired live bullets at the PA’s headquarters in the city in a gun battle with security forces.

Video from the scene showed a masked gunman firing down a city street, while crowds look on near a burning dumpster. Other clips recorded the sounds of dozens of gunshots.

Tehran rally demands justice on 2nd anniversary of jet downing
Families of those who died when Iranian armed forces shot down a Ukrainian airliner two years ago demanded justice for the 176 victims at a commemoration in Tehran on Saturday.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down shortly after take-off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board. Most were Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.

Three days later, the Islamic Republic’s armed forces admitted to downing the Kyiv-bound plane “by mistake.”

Relatives of the victims gathered at the crash site near the airport to mark the anniversary, local media reported.

They held up pictures of their loved ones, laid flowers and lit candles in their memory, while calling for “Justice! Truth!” videos shared on social media showed.

State television separately published an interview with the mother of Zahra Hassani Saadi, who died in the crash, in which she questioned the authorities’ handling of the case.

“We have several questions, who will answer us? Why wasn’t the flight canceled? Why was the cruise missile fired? We don’t know and no one explained it to us,” she asked.
Iranian Americans: World a Safer Place After Trump Killed Iran’s Soleimani
An Iranian-American advocacy group praised former president Donald Trump on the second anniversary of Qassem Soleimani's death by U.S. drone strike, saying the world is a much safer place because of the Iranian terrorist mastermind's assassination.

Soleimani was "directly involved in the killing and wounding of many American troops, as well as the murder and kidnapping of Western civilians and the destabilization of the Middle East through his use of terrorist proxy groups," Iranian Americans for Liberty (IAL), a grassroots group of activists opposed to the hardline regime, said in a video released this week. "Soleimani's targeted assassination hasn't just saved American lives but the lives of many from the Middle East too."

IAL also demanded accountability for Western observers and officials who condemned the Soleimani strike. The video highlights comments by Iranian-allied commentators and sympathetic U.S. lawmakers, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), who said at the time she was "outraged the president would assassinate a foreign official."

Many of these commentators and critics claimed the strike would cause World War III. Omar, in her comments at the time, claimed the strike could set off "another world war without congressional authorization."

"Two years have passed. Isn't it time to question those in the West who were so concerned about losing Qassem Soleimani?" IAL asked in the video.
IAL Presents: 2nd Anniversary of Qasem Soleimani Killing by President Trump

University of Bristol Denounces Training Module That Advised Not to Hire Shabbat-Observant Jews
The University of Bristol has denounced a diversity training module that appeared to justify not hiring a Jewish job applicant for observing Shabbat, after screenshots posted to social media generated an outcry.

One of the module’s quiz questions posed the hypothetical, “A selection panel is in discussion. The strongest candidate is John, a Jewish applicant. However there is a potential problem: he says he’ll need to leave early every Friday, which is when the weekly Team Meeting has to be held.”

Users were then asked to select among three options for responding to John’s application. Those who selected the option of recruiting John and “working around” his religious requirements were given the feedback, “Might not be a good idea.”

“Whilst it’s important to be flexible when it comes to accommodating religious practices amongst employees or candidates, key work responsibilities must always be fulfilled,” the module advised.

In a statement responding to online criticism of the module on Thursday, the school tweeted, “We’re aware of screenshots circulating on social media of equality and diversity training at the University of Bristol. This is not official training currently offered by the University and we absolutely do not endorse its content. This content was developed several years ago by an external company that provided generic online training modules to universities and other organizations.”

“We can confirm that we no longer work with the company for staff training, and have not done so for some time,” the school continued.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries takes on the BBC over its coverage of an anti-Semitic attack targeting teenagers on a bus
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has entered the row over the BBC’s coverage of an anti-Semitic attack targeting teenagers on a bus.

The minister has asked the corporation’s director-general Tim Davie how he intends to ‘resolve the issue in a suitably timely manner’.

Miss Dorries wrote to Mr Davie amid continuing controversy about the way the BBC has covered the story.

In a report about the late November incident in London’s Oxford Street, the corporation carried the claim that racial slurs about Muslims could be heard inside the vehicle when the attack occurred.

It later amended the online article to say that ‘a slur about Muslims’ could be heard from within the bus.

But the corporation has been accused of making a ‘colossal error’ in its reporting, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews commissioning research which it said proved the slur was not used.

Last night the BBC said Mr Davie had ‘instructed’ that the process involving these complaints was ‘accelerated’ to its editorially independent Executive Complaints Unit.

In her letter to Mr Davie, Miss Dorries is understood to have said she would ‘like to understand the actions the BBC has taken so far’ in response to concerns raised by the Board of Deputies and how it intended to ‘resolve the issue in a suitably timely manner’.

She added: ‘You will know my concerns about the speed of the process which I asked officials to communicate to the BBC.’

Miss Dorries pointed out that the Board of Deputies continued to be ‘dissatisfied’ with the BBC’s coverage of the incident.
Jewish Community in Munich Unnerved by Recent Antisemitic Incidents, Leaders Say
Two antisemitic incidents this week in the German city of Munich have alarmed Jewish leaders and local politicians, leading to calls from one senior official for the public to show greater “vigilance.”

On Wednesday morning, construction workers building a new Jewish elderly care home in the city’s upscale Bogenhausen district arrived at the building site to find it vandalized with swastikas and other Nazi and white supremacist symbols. A police spokesperson told local media outlets that because the building site did not contain any visual indications of a connection to the Jewish community, the vandals would have been independently aware of this fact. Their likely intention was “to leave a threat for the future residents with the graffiti,” the spokesperson said.

Later on Wednesday evening, a 41-year-old man was arrested in the immediate aftermath of a demonstration against the German government’s COVID-19 policies. The man was said to have been part of a group of 20 people who were headed in the direction of Munich’s Jewish Community Center.

According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper, eyewitnesses identified one of the group as Karl-Heinz Statzberger, a convicted neo-Nazi terrorist who served a four-year prison sentence for his part in planning an attempted bombing of the Jewish Community Center in 2003. Statzberger is now reported to be active in the Bavaria branch of “The Third Way,” a neo-Nazi organization which has been pushed its message at demonstrations and rallies against the pandemic public health measures. “We distribute leaflets and are simply part of the huge flow,” one of the group’s supporters wrote in a social media post this week. “We’ll be there, regardless of whether it suits everyone or not. The resistance is growing! Expect us!”

Both incidents have boosted anxiety within Munich’s Jewish community. “Every incident of this kind increases the insecurity within the Jewish community even further,” the veteran head of the community, Charlotte Knobloch, told SZ.

'There was always something strange about him': How a ticket collector at London Bridge was exposed as a sadist who gladly slaughtered hundreds of his Jewish neighbours as an SS auxiliary
None of them, however, had any inkling of the terrible secret their workmate was concealing — that he was a mass murderer who, during World War II, had rounded up Jews in his native Belorussia in eastern Europe and, as an SS auxiliary, butchered men, women and even small children in cold blood, gunning them down with a bullet in the head and tossing their bodies into mass graves.

After the war, he would somehow come to settle in Britain and, for more than half a century, escape responsibility for his crimes against humanity.

Until — as a compelling new book by Mike Anderson and Neil Hanson details — he was eventually tracked down and brought to justice in what was this country's one and only ever war crimes trial.

In 1999, at the Old Bailey, after an exhaustive and unique 28-day hearing, the ticket collector's own ticket was finally punched and he saw out the rest of his miserable life in prison.

His case is all the more shocking as a depressing insight into how the Holocaust happened.

Yes, the orders came from on high in Hitler's vile anti-Semitic regime, but carrying them out depended on the complicity and the active involvement of countless ordinary individuals like him.

A small and insignificant man, Sawoniuk suddenly found himself — as the judge in his trial noted — 'a lord and a master' with the power of life and death over others in his community, and he used it with bestial ruthlessness and unremitting cruelty.
NBA’s Washington Wizards to Host Jewish Heritage Night With Israeli Performances and Special ‘Wizraeli’ Jersey, Yarmulke
The NBA’s Washington Wizards will celebrate Jewish Heritage Night at their home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 11, the National Basketball Association announced.

The program at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, is slated to include the singing of the US national anthem by Jewish singer Arianna Zukerman, a pre-game performance by the local Israeli troupe Dance Yesodot and a halftime performance by the Avirah Israeli Dance Company. A video message from Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog will play during the game and Jewish heritage facts will be displayed on all LED boards at the end of timeouts, including details about the team’s second-year forward, Israeli player Deni Avdija. The Washington Wizards will also sell an exclusive “Wizraeli shirt” on their website.

Tickets for Tuesday’s game purchased through a special link will come with a limited-edition yarmulke bearing the Wizards logo, and the opportunity to attend a post-game Q&A with Avdija and Wizards announcer Justin Kutcher.

In 2020, Avdija became the highest-ever NBA draft pick from Israel. He is currently the only Israeli playing in the NBA.

The Washington Wizards have a team website in Hebrew and were the first NBA squad to launch Hebrew-langauge accounts on Instagram and Twitter.
Air Supply rock duo coming to Israel
Australian rock duo Air Supply, creators of some of the 1980s most beloved hits, are returning to Israel to perform two shows.

Follow Israel Hayom on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

The events will take place on May 27 in Haifa and May 28 in Rishon LeZion.

Air Supply's Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock performed in Israel four times in the past, the last of which was in May 2019 in Caesarea.

The duo is most well-known for such hits as Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, All Out Of Love, and Lost In Love.

More than 20 million copies of their albums have been sold worldwide.

Over a century of historical Israeli footage is now online, and it’s a revelation
For years, only those with special permission could visit the climate-controlled repositories of the Jerusalem Cinematheque to see the moving pictures held in the Israel Film Archive. But following a massive digitization effort, anyone with an internet connection can now watch the footage.

“We’re at the fun part where we can share this treasure with the public,” says Noa Regev, director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque. Following a $10 million project that began in 2015 to preserve, restore and digitize its audiovisual collection, the archive can now be streamed via a website that launched in Hebrew in late 2020 and added English-language subtitles in October.

Divided into two sections, the website includes a paid on-demand category, “The Artistic View,” containing 300 Israeli feature films, and a free “Historical View” area with digitized versions of rare films; every newsreel created in Israel from 1927 through 1972; home movies; and family collections.

“The Historical View” exposes, in mostly black-and-white film with scratchy patina, the life of the region across elections and wars, tree plantings and commercials for 1920s beauty salons. There are also full versions of historic footage you may have seen as blips in documentaries, like the Declaration of the State of Israel.

There’s much to see on the platform, which is searchable by decade, keyword and location, with more selections on the way. Only around 30 percent of the archive’s celluloid and video materials have been digitized so far; Regev estimates that within five years the full archive will be available.


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