Thursday, January 13, 2022

From Ian:

Rereading | The Idea of the Jewish State by Ben Halpern
Yet, as much as Ben Halpern was right about Zionism’s success in forging strong Jewish backing for Israel’s establishment, he may have been too Panglossian about what he called the mantle of the Jewish consensus. The current rekindling of the Diaspora as the site for a Jewish identity that could be forged in a tolerance and justice presumably unavailable in a Jewish state seems jarringly at odds with Halpern’s assertion that, ‘since the rise of Israel, outright opposition to the existence of a Jewish state is no longer recognized by the consensus of the Jewish community as a legitimate attitude.’ [210]

Israel’s very successes have triggered seismic debates among Diaspora Jews not only about the country’s policies but also about its foundational principles. Many now argue that the need for a Jewish state has been transcended by a global consciousness rededicated to social justice and equity. What might an assiduous reader of The Idea of the Jewish State conclude from all of this? Of course, it is impossible to know exactly what Ben Halpern would have said in response to the rebirth of ‘Diasporism’, but he would surely start by noting what happened to this idea when it was initially proclaimed by a once powerful organisation—the Bund—now largely forgotten because it was essentially killed off by the Nazis. Even the charge leveled against Israel as fomenting Jew hatred may underscore the reason for a Jewish state rather than provide a basis for dismantling it. Halpern almost certainly would have deemed surrendering sovereignty extraordinarily unwise when it reduced the tools available to Jews to combat an antisemitism whose hostility continues to shadow them. Second, Halpern is likely to have been unconvinced by Diaspora Jewish claims of privileged access to notions of justice unavailable in Israel. Living as part of a minority opens no special path to idealism or to a set of values distinctively Jewish particularly when many groups proclaiming allegiance to these global norms have made it clear they want to repair the world by setting aside Jews from this sacred task.

The Idea of the Jewish State makes clear that waving the international banner for pious ideals does not mean they can be reached or that people will be encouraged to live up to them. Words are not the same as deeds. Nor does power over language translate into control over actions. Pursuing justice in the world in the present means working through the state. There is no other choice.

To return the essay to where it began, the power and relevance of The Idea of the Jewish State lies in the way it establishes the source of Israel’s foundational values. That Zionism is a mission of high moral purpose doesn’t mean the Jewish state can ignore the cruel realities of regional politics posing dangers to the country’s population if not to its very existence. That is why, whatever its policy failures, Israel cannot escape the judgment of its own citizens or of the Jewish people. Perhaps in our own Age of Corona, when reading itself has come back into style, it is possible to appreciate how much can be learned from considering how Ben Halpern unspools the historical circumstances that gave Zionism not only its ambitions but more importantly its capacity for bending the arc of history toward a Jewish state.
How Zionists Helped Defeat Segregation
This year, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day will be commemorated just before the 75th anniversary of a remarkable but little-known campaign by American Zionists and African-Americans that helped defeat racial segregation in Baltimore.

The story began in the autumn of 1946, when the Zionist activists known as the Bergson Group sponsored a Broadway play called “A Flag is Born,” authored by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Ben Hecht. Starring a young Marlon Brando and Yiddish theater luminaries Paul Muni and Celia Adler, “Flag” depicted the plight of Holocaust survivors in post-war Europe, and the fight for Jewish independence in British Mandatory Palestine.

The London Evening Standard expressed horror that large audiences were flocking to what it called “the most virulent anti-British play ever staged in the United States.” Many American publications took a different view: TIME called the play “colorful theater and biting propaganda,” while Life complimented its “wit and wisdom.”

After a successful 10-week run on Broadway, “A Flag is Born” was scheduled to be performed in various cities around the country, including the National Theater in Washington, DC. But the National barred African-Americans, and Hecht and 32 other prominent playwrights had recently announced they would not permit their works to be staged in such theaters. Hence the Washington performance was rescheduled for the Maryland Theater, in Baltimore.

But the controversy was not over. It turned out that while the Maryland Theater did not bar African-Americans, it did restrict them to the balcony, which bigots nicknamed “n—— heaven.” Alerted by local NAACP activists, the Bergson Group devised a good cop-bad cop strategy to confront the segregationists.
David Collier: Statement on the BOD, JNF, Samuel Hayek and Gary Mond
I admit to being furious that I have had to stop researching antisemitism to write this post – but given events at the Board of Deputies I felt I had little choice but to make my feelings known. We have so many serious issues facing British Jews, that it is tragic we are currently witnessing an internal and politically motivated purge of voices – that is being driven far more by political manoeuvring and targeted political assassinations than anything ‘ethical’ or ‘moral’.

As one would expect, it is chiefly the groups who felt comfortable saying Kaddish for Hamas terrorists – or defended those who did – who are busy telling Jewish organisations today who they can and cannot have representing them. Here is an idea – the BOD should have nothing to do with anyone who was ever connected to the Kaddish for Hamas event. Nor any of those who were so morally lost that they defended those who participated. Let the BOD and other mainstream organisations start purging all those faces, and then we can all sit down to talk about what else people have a problem with. Until the BOD do this – and for as long as the ‘Kaddish for Hamasniks’ have their voices heard at the Jewish community table – any other ‘investigations’ into misconduct that are undertaken are an exercise in vile political manoeuvring and outrageous hypocrisy.

Yesterday I signed a letter of support for both Samuel Hayek and Gary Mond – two executives of the JNF. Gary Mond is also a Deputy at the BOD. My signature is to signal support for freedom of speech and the right to express genuine opinion. I signed the petition in total opposition to the lynch mob that is being organised to silence voices which elements on the Jewish left do not want heard. I quote directly from the news report that they believe “these bigoted remarks have no place in our community.” My response to this would be that if this is the case – then it is certainly true that neither do those who said Kaddish for Hamas terrorists. But I digress – let us look closely at the remarks that apparently outraged these people.

The first case was related to comments made by JNF Chair Samuel Hayek. He has been asked to quit over ‘Islamophobic’ comments he made in the media. What Hayek said was that:
- Jews have no future in England
- Our problem in the West is that we do not understand Islam.
- What is happening in France today could happen in Britain in a few years

I grow tired of stating the obvious. On all three of these key points Hayek may well be right. And it is certainly not anti-Muslim bigotry to suggest these statements are true. People may not like these comments, but there are enough signs around us to suggest they are worthy of having their place at the table.

Make no mistake about it – we are in a serious battle. Antisemitism is gaining ground in the UK – much of it spread through the undergrowth via Islamist ideology – and despite the protestations of the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbi – the future of British Jews in the UK is neither rosy nor certain. If only it were. But then again, unlike both of these ‘institutions’, I do not have to say things that I don’t really mean, or believe, in order to do the ‘responsible thing’ or remain ‘politically correct’.

Indigenous Australians oppose Sydney boycotters
When a group of twenty-five or so performers and artists withdrew from the Sydney Festival because of the Israel embassy’s sponsorship of one of the performances, Indigenous Australian and former politician Warren Mundine AO was quick to respond.

Mundine addressed the accusations of apartheid, settler colonialism and genocide with a few pithy tweets, pointing out that Israel is in fact a democratic nation, where free and fair elections are held, where Israeli Arabs, Christians, Muslims and Jews sit as equals under the rule of law.

Indigenous Australian, Munganbana Norman Miller and Barbara Miller of the ‘Indigenous Friends of Israel’ also issued a press release refuting the settler colonial lie, asserting that Jews are the indigenous people of the land and recounting the 4,000 year history of Jewish connection to the land of Israel.
Israel is not a racist, apartheid state. Arab citizens living in Israel have the right to vote and there are Arab MKs i.e., members of the parliament or Knesset. Why is it that the only democracy in the Middle East is so maligned? The answer is antisemitism.

It seems that the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship of the Sydney Dance Company, whose choreographer is Israeli, was enough to threaten the “cultural safety” of Palestinian participants in the festival, according to ‘The Belvoir Street Theatre’.

An open letter signed by "artists against apartheid" stated,
We will not perform in or attend a Festival where the Israeli regime rainbow-coloured logo is used to artwash the violence, ethnic cleansing, and crimes inflicted upon the Palestinian people.

The idea that art and culture might function as a bridge to co-existence and cooperation evidently didn’t occur to these artists. Instead they chose to interpret Israeli participation as ‘art-washing’ - using art for political purposes. Apparently the irony and hypocrisy of their statement was lost on them.

While it is unlikely that the boycotters’ actions will achieve much in real terms, they did attract the praise of the terrorist regime, Hamas, who stated,
We declare our solidarity with the participants who have withdrawn from the festival, and we call on all participants to raise their voices in face of oppression and injustice.

Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to these artists that they would not have the freedom to pursue their art under the repressive conditions of a Hamas-led regime while in Israel, Arab Israelis enjoy freedom of expression.

British Writer David Baddiel Questions Casting Non-Jews in Jewish Roles Amid Helen Mirren Debate
British writer and comedian David Baddiel defended actress Maureen Lipman after she faced a backlash for suggesting that a Jewish performer should have been cast in the role of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in an upcoming biopic, rather than Oscar winner Helen Mirren.

Baddiel, the author of “Jews Don’t Count,” explained in a piece for The Guardian published on Wednesday that despite the “extreme intensification” of conversations about appropriate representation and inclusion for minority groups, “one minority — Jews — has been routinely neglected.”

“This issue is not really about who gets the work. It’s about the idea that minority experience should be expressed by those who truly know it, rather than caricatured by those who don’t,” the Jewish comedian said. “Casting a non-minority actor to mimic that identity feels, to the progressive eye, like impersonation, and impersonation may carry with it an element of mockery – or at least seem reductive, reducing the complexity of that experience by channeling it through an actor who hasn’t lived it.”

Lipman, who is Jewish, was subject to online criticism earlier in January for saying that although she has “nothing against” Mirren starring in the new film “Golda” and believes the Academy Award-winner “will be brilliant in the role,” casting directors should have first considered Jewish actresses such as Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, and Scarlett Johansson to take on the character. A Jewish person should be cast in the role because the “Jewishness of the character is so integral,” she argued.

“If the religion fires the character, then I honestly think you should look at that group; that gender,” said Lipman. “If the character is gay, I think you should see the gay actors first; see the Jewish actors first. If it doesn’t work out, fair enough, go ahead.”
BBC WS radio culture show ditches context in hip-hop item
An example of an item in which no effort whatsoever was made to provide audiences with context essential for understanding appeared in the January 8th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Cultural Frontline’ titled “Music, politics and identity”.

“…Tamer Nafar – the Palestinian hip-hop pioneer who grew up in Israel in a city of Palestinians and Jews, and raps in Arabic, Hebrew, and English about politics, identity, women’s rights, and social justice. He tells Anu [Anand] about the influence of his background and US hip hop, and his new track, The Beat Never Goes Off: recorded with 12 year-old Gaza-based rapper MC Abdul – despite being physically separated.”

The introduction from Anu Anand (from 09:26 here) is very similar to that synopsis and likewise fails to inform listeners that the “mixed city of Palestinians and Jews near Tel Aviv” is called Lod or that by no means all Arab Israelis identify as Palestinians. Anand tells listeners that “…his lyrics reflect the Palestinian struggle, women’s rights and social justice” without any clarification of what the opaque phrase “the Palestinian struggle” means.

In response to a question from Anand about the background to his latest song, Nafar tells listeners that:
Nafar: “I was trying to show that there is still a fight, an optimism. Everybody when you talk about Palestine, all they talk about is gas attacks, bombs, like we don’t exist. Like we exist only when there’s death and war. But sometimes when we create music or when we do movies, it’s like we don’t exist. It’s not like we interest anyone. There is more buzz about us dying than buzz about us doing music, creation.”

Anand makes no effort to question Nafar’s repeated use of the loaded term “gas attacks” or to challenge the absurd notion that attention is only paid to Palestinians “when there’s death and war”. She refrains from informing listeners that Nafar himself appeared in 2019 in BBC content relating to elections in Israel and in a feature about ‘The rise of Palestinian pop’ or that his band appeared at a BBC Arabic film festival in London the same year.
Another stealth 'clean-up' by BBC Arabic after CAMERA complaint
The December 16th 2021 edition of the BBC Arabic programme “Trending” included an item in which Jewish prayer was referred to as “Talmudic rituals” and “Talmudic prayer” and Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound was portrayed as “al-Aqsa Mosque”.

That terminology repeatedly appeared in the video segment, presented by Rania al-Attar, as well as on the webpages introducing it on the BBC’s Arabic language website, YouTube channel and Twitter account.

Titled “Jews Disguise Themselves Among Muslims at Al-Aqsa Mosque!”, the item was based on an Israeli news report about Jews posing as Muslims in order to pray at Temple Mount, which in Hebrew is known as Har HaBayit. However, unlike the original Hebrew language report, BBC Arabic claimed that “Talmudic rituals” had been conducted inside “al-Aqsa Mosque”.

- At no point did the original Israeli piece imply that the intention of the Jews in question was to enter any building on the site, let alone al-Aqsa Mosque itself. Their sole successful documented attempt had taken place outdoors.
- The proper translation for the Hebrew term ‘Har HaBayit’ into Arabic is not المسجد الأقصى (al-Masjid al-Aqsa, “al-Aqsa Mosque”) but جبل الهيكل (Jabal al-Haykal, “Temple Mount”) – a literal translation which reflects the Jewish perspective inferred from the original Hebrew – or الحرم الشريف (al-Haram ash-Shareef, “the Noble Sanctuary”).
- That is also the terminology which BBC journalists are instructed to use according to BBC’s own style guide.
- At no point did the original piece use word “Talmud”.
- The Talmud bears extremely negative connotations in Arabic discourse, to the point that references to it can serve as an antisemitic trope.
- Jewish prayer is not a “Talmudic ritual” any more than Muslim prayer is a “Sunna ritual”.

CAMERA Arabic therefore submitted a complaint to the BBC, making the point that however controversial Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount compound may be, referring to it as a “Talmudic ritual” performed inside “al-Aqsa Mosque” is inflammatory and inaccurate.

BBC Arabic then removed the item from all platforms, with only the segment introducing it in the December 16th programme remaining on Twitter. Screenshots of the programme and its presentation appear below:
'There's no way they're going to be able to learn about Israel on social media'
Israel abandoned its "red list" of countries in early January. It's welcome news to pro-Israel groups whose bread and butter is organizing trips to Israel. They say the travel bans have complicated their mission to connect people to the Jewish state, and no amount of speaker series and digital events can compare to "putting two feet on Israeli soil."

Izzy Tapoohi, president and CEO of the Birthright Israel Foundation, told JNS that COVID and the resultant travel bans have had a "disastrous" effect on the ability of young Jews to defend both Judaism and Israel from the onslaught of anti-Semitism, especially on social media.

"There's no way that they're going to be able to learn about Israel on social media. It's all anti," he said. "The way that they're going to be able to understand and appreciate what it's all about is to come to Israel."

He estimates that in the last two years, 85,000 young adults were unable to make the 10-day Birthright trip due to the ongoing pandemic. The number impacted is actually larger, he said, as Birthright relies on returning participants to tell family and friends about the trip. "The way we recruit is by word-of-mouth … half of our registration success is based on the fact that a young adult who comes back from Israel is the best marketing tool we have," explained Tapoohi.

Pamela Fertel Weinstein, Birthright's vice president of marketing and public relations, agreed: "They're not going to provide what we call the 'Birthright bounce' – that all of a sudden people around them start to go to Israel because they're seeing firsthand from their child, their grandchild, their sister, their cousin, how great it is, and they want to be part of that."

US officials alarmed by 'horrifying' antisemitism in schools, businesses
With a general rise in antisemitic violence last year, instances of antisemitism have also been on the rise in work and education settings, something the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is closely monitoring according to senior commission members who were guests on Monday of a virtual panel discussion held by the Brandeis Center.

EEOC commissioners Andrea Lucas and Keith Sonderling gave a presentation that included statistics on workplace and educational antisemitism, as well as the laws that protect workers against acts of antisemitism and harassment about their Judaism.

Lucas highlighted some of the statistics, including that one out of four American Jews reports having been a victim of antisemitism, according to a study by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), with 39 percent responding that they had to change their behavior to limit activities and conceal their Jewishness.

Another statistic Lucas spoke about was that according to a Brandeis Center study, 65 percent of Jewish students say that they have felt unsafe and 50 percent have hidden their Jewish identity on campus, with one in three Jewish students reporting that they've personally experienced antisemitism.

"These are horrifying statistics. And even worse, to some degree is that the general public does not seem to be aware of these concerns, or at least at the same level that American Jews do," said Lucas.

Only 60 percent of the general public viewed antisemitism as a problem, as opposed to 90 percent of Jews, and less than 50 percent of non-Jews said that it was growing, according to the AJC survey, compared to 80 percent among American Jews.

Lucas pointed to the number of incidents of workplace antisemitism that made the news last year, including antisemitic posts by a Google executive; another executive in Utah tying antisemitic conspiracy theories to the coronavirus and vaccinations; and a government commerce director in Philadelphia resigning after news broke of him creating a hostile work environment with antisemitic remarks spanning many years.

Citing Antisemitic Incitement, French Interior Minister Orders Closure of Islamist Mosque in Cannes
France’s interior minister on Wednesday announced the closure of a mosque in the southern city of Cannes, citing its promotion of antisemitic hate speech.

In an interview with broadcaster CNews, Gérald Darmanin said that the mosque located in the iconic town on the French Riviera had been shut down because of “antisemitic remarks” and “incitement to hatred.” Several Islamist mosques around France have been closed down during the last year as part of a government campaign against radicalism in the Muslim community.

Darmanin said that the mosque in Cannes had also been closed because of its associations with two Islamist associations that were outlawed following the brutal murder of Paris school teacher Samuel Paty in Oct. 2020.

“We are closing one of the mosques in Cannes because we hold it responsible for antisemitic remarks, support for the CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia in France) and BarakaCity,” Darmanin said.

Darmanin added that the decision to close the mosque had been made in consultation with the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard.

A statement from the Cannes municipality emphasized that the closure “comes after meticulous research by the State services and multiple reports made directly by the municipality of Cannes since 2015.”

The statement noted that “the vast majority of Muslims who frequent this very old mosque do not share its orientation; some also alerted us.” It expressed hope that “new leaders respectful of the French Republic and the country” would emerge, allowing the mosque to reopen.
Jewish businessman offers to buy, destroy Nazi memorabilia from Nazi ship
A Jewish businessman has offered to buy an 800-pound eagle and swastika crest from a former Nazi ship that is sitting in a Uruguay warehouse and explode it into “a thousand pieces.”

A private expedition recovered the 6-foot-tall Nazi swastika and eagle crest in 2006. It had been affixed to the front of the Admiral Graf Spee Nazi warship, which was scuttled by British ships in a Montevideo harbor in December 1939.

After its recovery, the eagle was briefly shown to the public in Montevideo, sparking controversy. Germany criticized the display of “Nazi paraphernalia” and the eagle was moved to a naval warehouse. It was nearly put up for auction, but the head of the Uruguayan Jewish Committee and others objected, arguing that it could end up in the wrong hands. It was reportedly offered to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, which rejected it.

In 2019, a Uruguayan court ruled that the government must auction the crest, and that the proceeds must go to the investors behind the team that recovered it. Past reports claimed that buyers had floated offers in the tens of millions of dollars.

Argentine Jewish businessman Daniel Sielecki, 64, who now lives in Uruguay, told a local news site that he wants to buy the eagle — and subsequently destroy it — to keep it out of the hands of neo-Nazis.
Dear Amazon: Nazis are bad
Politicians are often asked to expressly condemn Nazis, and to disassociate themselves from any groups that might have Nazi sympathies. Usually this is not a problem, because everyone across the political spectrum worthy of support agrees that Nazis are bad.

Apparently though, for a mega-conglomerate like Amazon, committing to that idea still remains a task unworthy of serious investment.

Amazon’s official policy guidelines include an “Offensive Content” warning, which gives the website the right to remove any:

“Content that contains derogatory comments, hate speech, or threats specifically targeting any group or individuals; [or] Content that promotes hate speech, incites racial or gender hatred, or promotes groups or organizations that support such beliefs.”

Why then, in 2022, is Amazon still “the world’s largest purveyor of original Nazi propaganda films”? Why are movies that glorify Hitler’s words and ideas readily available to watch, with nary a trigger warning or disclaimer in sight?

It’s not because Amazon is unaware of the problem. In 2018, the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race & the Economy released a joint report titled, “Delivering Hate: How Amazon’s Platforms Are Used to Spread White Supremacy, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, and How Amazon Can Stop It.” The report looked at Amazon’s unprecedented and unparalleled reach and influence in the U.S. online shopping market, and examined how its various platforms and services provide a number of channels through which hate groups can generate revenue, propagate their ideas, and grow their movements through new recruits.

Among other things, the report found that Amazon enables the celebration of ideologies that promote hate and violence by allowing the sale of hate symbols and imagery on its site (including products targeted at children), and facilitates the spread of hate ideologies, by publishing propaganda materials, including Nazi materials.

Ohio Congressman posts Nazi health card in attack on DC vaccine mandate
Warren Davidson, a Republican Congressman from Ohio, posted a photo of a Nazi-era health pass and compared Washington, DC’s vaccine mandate to the Nazis’ dehumanization of Jews in urging local residents not to comply.

Jewish groups and Jewish Democrats blasted Davidson for the comparison, which appeared in a tweet commenting on new vaccine instructions shared by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“This has been done before,” Davidson said Wednesday on Twitter, posting a Nazi-era health pass that appears to be from a website selling Nazi memorabilia and has been circulating on the internet among anti-vaccine activists. He added the hashtag “#DoNotComply.”

Starting Saturday, anyone 12 and older will need to show proof of at least one vaccine shot before entering D.C. restaurants and other indoor venues.

“Let’s recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them, segregated them before imprisoning them, imprisoned them before enslaving them, and enslaved them before massacring them,” Davidson tweeted.

Davidson was the latest Republican to liken vaccine mandates and public health measures to Nazi-era regulations, a practice condemned by Jewish and Holocaust remembrance groups.

Tolerance Bus Is Coming to NY with Extra Acceptance On Board
Thanks to the New York State Assembly, $1.5 million of capital funding has been announced for the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York-based Mobile Museum of Tolerance (MMOT).

This state-of-the-art mobile education center will utilize innovative technology and interactive lessons becoming a critical expansion of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s educational resources in New York State.

The MMOT will allow easy access for tens of thousands of students, educators, law enforcement agencies, faith groups, and professionals to critical educational training on issues such as anti-Semitism, racism, bullying, stereotyping, hate, and intolerance and to promote diversity and human dignity.

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York-based Mobile Museum of Tolerance will educate New Yorkers on the importance of tolerance and acceptance and illustrate the detrimental effects hatred has had on the global community,” said Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, adding, “I want to thank Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Helene Weinstein and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright for their leadership in bringing this innovative museum to New York so that people of all ages can learn from the past and celebrate our diverse communities.”

The New York MMOT will represent the third such initiative for the SWC that currently operates highly successful Mobile Tolerance Museums in Illinois and Canada. MMOT in Illinois, launched in February 2021 to great acclaim, has educated almost 4,000 students in person and 2,000 students virtually. The Tour for Humanity Mobile Tolerance Center has educated over 150,000 students at 750 schools and communities across Canada.
Making Some Noise at the Australian Open
The Australian Open, which begins this year on Jan. 17, is one of the largest sporting events in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as the most-attended Grand Slam tennis tournament, drawing more than 800,000 spectators. But within those enormous crowds, there’s a small but dedicated group of Jewish fans who’ve made a mark by rooting for Jewish players—loudly.

“Generally speaking, tennis is a formal sport, and with tennis fandom, there are all these unwritten rules,” said 25-year-old Elliot Blau, a Jewish Australian tennis fan who has been attending the Australian Open since he was 10. “Tennis is meant to be old-fashioned. The fans just clap and sit quietly.”

A squad of Jewish fans, however, regularly shakes up the the formal tennis etiquette at the Australian Open. Clad in a sea of blue and white, an informal and raucous group of about 50-100 Australian Jews consistently attends the matches of Jewish players at the Open, singing and cheering. Even though their numbers are relatively small, they make their presence known.

The group coalesced around 15 years ago, when Dudi Sela, an Israeli player from Kiryat Shemona, arrived on the international tennis scene, eventually ascending the rankings to reach a career-high singles ranking of World No. 29 in July 2009.

“I don’t think I’ve missed one of Dudi Sela’s games since I was 8 or 9 years of age,” said Matan Slonim, a 23-year-old Australian who has made it a priority to attend each one of Sela’s Australian Open games, and who is one of the informal organizers of the Australian Jewish cheer squad.

Other current top-ranked Jewish tennis players who receive support from the Australian Jewish cheer squad at the Australian Open include Argentine Diego Schwartzman, currently ranked World No. 13, and Canadian Denis Shapovalov, currently ranked World No. 14. Camila Giorgi, an Italian Jewish player, currently ranked World No. 33, also receives support at her matches.
'I hope Girl from Oslo makes viewers believe in the human spirit,' director says
Israeli director Uri Barbash sat down with i24NEWS to discuss his latest project, The Girl From Oslo.

Titled Azharat Masa ("Travel advisory") in Hebrew and Bortført ("Abducted") in Norwegian, the 10-part series that currently ranks as the fourth most-watched show on the streaming giant's roster is among Netflix's top-10 most-viewed series in 36 countries, including the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

The show was also a success at home and was the second-most-watched series in 2021.

When asked how he hopes viewers will respond to the series, Barbash responded, "I would say, I would like them to believe in the human spirit. Eventually the three characters, the Israeli, the Norwegian, and the Palestinian, they succeed to find some kind of compromise ... they do find a solution to this ordeal.

"The most important thing, I think, is to believe deeply in the possibility of the human spirit, which means peace in this region."

Barbash said he is surprised and happy at the global success of The Girl From Oslo, as the story contains multiple languages and takes place primarily in the Middle East.

"It's not only languages, it's traditions, it's culture, it's so many things that we were gathering in order to tell a story. And I think that's the core of the success of this series."
'The Girl from Oslo' director talks to i24NEWS

Unpacked: How Jews Ended Up in India and China | The Jewish Story
Beyond the driving forces of antisemitism and persecution, trading goods has also had a powerful impact on the migration of Jews throughout history. In countries like China and India, the vast network of Jewish traders shaped the path for the wide spread of diverse Jewish communities.

In the 12th century, Jews settled across China in places like Kaifeng, a city on the Silk Road. Trading between China and the West meant Jewish traders could keep up with the global Jewish community while maintaining a place in Chinese society. Though the community thrived for centuries, over time the Kaifeng Jews have largely assimilated and roughly 1,000 members are left in the community today.

In India, the two largest Jewish communities were Cochin Jews and Bene Israel. Cochin Jews arrived as far back as the 1st century through the Roman-Indian trade system, while Bene Israel was started by a group of Jewish traders who settled after being shipwrecked on the coast of Maharashtra, India. As time went on, these communities grew, joined by Jewish traders from Portugal as well as those fleeing persecution from Ottoman Iraq.

Following Israel and India’s independence from British control, most of India’s 25,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, joined by many Jews across Asia. Despite this, both India and China have seen new Jewish arrivals in the 20th and 21st centuries leading to the continued diversity of widespread Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

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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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