Saturday, February 19, 2022

02/19 Links: How Amnesty's anti-Israel apartheid report backfired; Israel ranks above Spain, Italy and US for democracy in new global index; 'This Is Just Jaw-Dropping': McConnell Reacts To Assassination Attempt Of Dem Mayoral Candidate

From Ian:

How Amnesty's anti-Israel apartheid report backfired
Major editorial boards – The Wall Street Journal and New York Post – have also derided Amnesty’s report, reducing it to a libel and “smear.” These responses are compounded by the reality that no country has yet to openly embrace Amnesty’s report, which only suggest Amnesty’s flailing credibility and influence.

This high-profile controversy has further exposed Amnesty to attention under which it has allegedly resorted to incompetent and racist decision-making. Amnesty knows it can only advance its apartheid lie by falsely presenting Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza as one political unit, regardless of peace treaties willingly signed by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The reality is that 20 percent of Israel’s population are Arabs, who enjoy equality under the law, affirmative action programs, and positions in Israel’s parliament and Supreme Court. An Arab Israeli judge, and later to be Supreme Court justice, even once sentenced an Israeli president (a Jew) to prison.

Israel is the furthest thing from an apartheid state; and while Amnesty blames Israel for Palestinian misfortune, nearly all Palestinians remain under the governance of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or Hamas in Gaza.

So when activist Yoseph Haddad, an Arab citizen of Israel, was invited to debate an Amnesty panelist, Amnesty allegedly refused to participate, asking for a Jew instead. If true, the gesture could reflect what appears to be Amnesty’s racism, intellectual dishonesty, and will to stifle reality.

Questions concerning Amnesty’s xenophobia reinvigorate recent memories of Amnesty’s last racial controversy, which emerged less than a year ago when its UK office released an internal investigation in 2021.

Accounts of behavior included “senior staff using the N-word;” black staff members having their capabilities “questioned consistently and without justification,” and dismissive behavior targeting the religiously minded and those from the southern hemisphere.

The organization that had to apologize for its “systemic racism” now resurfaces for having previously refused to join a global call to fight antisemitism.

In sum, Amnesty’s apartheid allegations have provoked much negative exposure, setting in motion a sequence of self-defeating developments that have exposed the organization’s bad-faith motives, intellectual dishonesty, internal racism, and dwindling credibility.

Sadly, the human rights cause will bear the brunt of Amnesty’s impropriety; and as a world in which human rights abuses abound, we must demand better from our leading NGOs.

Israel ranks above Spain, Italy and US for democracy in new global index
In a “stunning rebuttal” to Amnesty’s claim that Israel is an apartheid state, the country has been ranked above Italy, Spain and the United States in a respected global index of democratic values.

Published this week, the latest edition of the annual Democracy Index from the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) puts Israel in 23rd place in the world league table, out of 167.

It has 7.97 points out of a maximum of ten, just behind France (7.99 points) and Britain (8.1 points).

The result makes Israel by far the most democratic country in the Middle East, but also places it ahead of Spain, Portugal, Italy and the United States.

The world’s most democratic country is Norway, which the EIU awards 9.75 points. China comes in 148th with just 2.21 points and the bottom three are North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

The survey comes in the wake of a speech last weekend by the Arab MK and Israeli coalition minister Mansour Abbas at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), in which he warned it was wrong to use the term “apartheid” to describe Israel. He said: “I prefer to describe the reality in objective ways… I’m not trying to say you’re racist or the state is racist, or this is an apartheid state My role as a political leader is to try to bridge the gaps.”

The top US diplomat responsible for the Middle East until January 2021, David Schenker, last night welcomed the EIU report. The former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs said it amounts to a “stunning rebuttal” of Amnesty International’s recent claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” and has been since its foundation in 1948.

Knesset bill to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism proposed
A proposal submitted over the weekend would require the Knesset to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

The IHRA working definition has been adopted by 35 countries, at least a dozen American states, the European Union Parliament and more than 1,000 organizations and universities worldwide. It was formally endorsed by the government of Israel in 2017 but never by the Knesset.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” the definition states. “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Along with the definition, 11 examples of antisemitism were published by IHRA, some of which have to do with Israel, including “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

The proposal’s sponsor, MK Zvi Hauser (New Hope), said he was surprised to find out that unlike parliaments around the world, the Knesset had not adopted the IHRA decision. He said the Knesset agreed unanimously Thursday night to deal with the matter.

“I expect the proposal to pass by a wide margin,” Hauser said.
In 1st, Israeli Navy joins huge US-led exercise; Saudi Arabia, Pakistan participate
The Israeli Navy on Thursday wrapped up its participation in the US Navy’s massive IMX exercise, in which dozens of countries took part, including several with which Israel does not have formal ties.

This was Israel’s first time participating in the International Maritime Exercise, as it increasingly cooperates with the US military’s Central Command and its 5th Fleet, which operates in the waterways around the Middle East.

“The participation of the Navy in the American exercise demonstrates the strengthening connection between our fleets, based on power, mutual learning, and strategic partnership. We are coordinated and working together with our American partners to prevent terror in the maritime arena and to strengthen the security of the region’s waters,” Israeli Navy chief David Salama said in a statement.

The head of the US 5th Fleet, Admiral Brad Cooper, who over the past month has met with Salama, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, similarly hailed the growing ties between the two navies.

“This joint exercise demonstrates our determination to protect international law and order. This is a special opportunity to expand our interoperability as we strengthen our naval ties,” Cooper said.

In the IMX exercise, the Israeli Navy says it trained with the 5th Fleet, simulating neutralizing naval mines, above- and under-water search-and-rescue operations, as well as conducting medical exercises at sea. On the Israeli side, the navy’s 3rd Flotilla, which operates missile ships, the 915th Patrol Boats Squadron, and the Unit for Underwater Fighting, known by its Hebrew acronym YALTAM, took part in the exercise, which was held in the Red Sea.
Seth Frantzman: Hezbollah’s drone threat is now on display
Iran’s media says this drone incident was a success by Hezbollah because it returned safely to Lebanon and was not intercepted and also because it caused sirens to sound in northern Israel.

“Israeli air defense systems tried to shoot down the drone,” the Iranian media said. “Even the Iron Dome fired a ‘Tamir’ missile, but the Hezbollah drone managed to return to Lebanon and land safely. The Israeli Air Force prepared Apache warplanes and helicopters to shoot down the drone, but failed.”

Iran’s media now reports on how Israeli media is depicting this incident. “In any future war, how will the Israeli air force deal with 3,000 missiles and rockets when it has not been able to intercept a UAV?” the report asks.

The drone incidents come days after Nasrallah bragged that Hezbollah has been producing drones for years. He also indicated Hezbollah might export this technology.

In 2019, Hezbollah members were involved in moving drones to an area near the Golan. That team was subsequently killed in an airstrike.

Iran also targeted Israel with drones in February 2018 and in May 2021, using ones flown from Syria and Iraq. The ALMA Research Center has reported that the terrorist group had some 2,000 drones in December.

Hezbollah has several types of drones and it has been using them for years. Questions remain about what type of drone the Hassan was, but the overall issue is that Hezbollah is increasingly showing it can make drones and use them to harass Israel, potentially using them to test defenses for a future conflict.

That Hezbollah bragged about this ability just days before the incident shows how it telegraphs its moves.
Israeli Startup Turns Small Arms Into ‘Smart’ Weapons to Take Down Drones
As Israel faces new threats from unmanned aerial vehicles on multiple fronts, an Israeli startup has developed an artificial intelligence-based device allowing infantry soldiers to bring down drones from up to several hundred feet away and hit their targets with greater precision.

In 2006, Michal Mor, CEO of Smart Shooter, saw her husband called up on reserve duty on short notice for the Second Lebanon War. An engineer with experience in missile technology, she recognized that infantry units were not equipped with the technology to precisely hit targets like guided missiles.

She knew the role that the Israel Defense Force reserves has played in defending the Jewish state throughout its history, but that these soldiers had also faced considerable challenges in quickly getting up to speed on operational shooting capabilities, Mor told The Algemeiner in an interview.

“In combat, you need to be precise and fast. That is the real challenge. Our goal is to make them hit the target, whatever it is — a terrorist, attacking a drone, or any other target with ultimate precision, regardless of your mental, physical skills and regardless of stress factors,” Mor said.

Whether in the IDF or NATO, the primary reasons targets are missed are the instability of the soldier or of the platform, and the movement of the target, she noted.

“The combination of seeing that lack of technology in infantry units, and knowing that the technology exists as I come from the world of precise, surgical missile technology, made me want to combine it together,” Mor told The Algemeiner. “We wanted to bring technology to a different level of just having a piece of metal and going into war.”
Palestinian Authority’s waning power in West Bank cause for concern
But the PA is facing a bigger problem, and that is the growing perception among many that its control on the ground is shaky. “They failed in keeping the trust of the people,” said Fadi, a social activist who has been arrested several times by PA security forces. He states that people want change. “They had ample time to implement their agenda and they flunked. They are only interested in securing their own positions,” he said of the current Palestinian leadership.

The division among Palestinian factions is not limited to Fatah and Hamas. Fatah, the movement that Abbas heads, is from within, with many of its top officials either marginalized by the 86-year-old president or expelled from the group.

Ramallah-based political analyst Fares Sarfandi claimed that both the PLO and PA have been weakened by Abbas’ policies: “The PA’s popularly has dropped as a result of wrong governance practices and the state of corruption, slack and deviation that afflicted it,” he said. Sarfandi adds that the Palestinian street has “lost confidence” in the PA, leading many to look for an “alternative.”

Demonstrators carry posters with pictures of Palestinian Authority outspoken critic Nizar Banat that reads "a Martyr of saying the truth in front of an ignorant Sultan," and a banner that reads "Abbas, leave," during a rally protesting his death, in the West Bank city of Ramallah Following Israel’s killing of three members of Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, many of the movement’s members including Abbas praised the three operatives.

“I think that the escalation of the Fatah movement’s discourse is nothing but an attempt to cover up the weakness of the Palestinian Authority’s discourse, because Fatah until this moment is the PA and there is no real disengagement between the two entities,” Sarfandi said. He says 2022 will see an uptick in violence in the Palestinian territories, as a result of the PA’s financial woes and the continued tension with settlers in the West Bank. But he doesn’t see a third intifada, or uprising, on the horizon: “I think that the objective reasons for the explosion of the situation in the West Bank exist, but they are premature,” he said.
PA's ruling faction calls for expelling Hungarian envoy to Ramallah
The ruling Fatah faction has called on the Palestinian Authority to expel the head of the Representative Office of Hungary in Ramallah, Dr. Csaba Rada, to protest a recent agreement signed between the Samaria Regional Council and the Hungarian city of Héviz.

The council represents settlements in the northern West Bank.

The twin-towns agreement, which was first signed in 2017, includes cooperation in the areas of finance, industry and tourism between the settlement council and Héviz, a prominent tourist destination located near Lake Hévis, the world’s second-largest thermal lake.

The latest agreement aims to further strengthen cooperation between the two partners, and a delegation from the Hungarian city is expected to visit the Samaria region soon.

Raed al-Debai, head of the International Relations Committee of the Fatah Youth Movement, said that his group “does not consider it appropriate for the occupation’s partners to remain” in Ramallah.

Debai accused Hungary of violating international law and United Nations resolutions, especially Security Council Resolution 2334, which stated that Israeli settlements constitute “a flagrant violation under international law” and that all settlement activities must “immediately and completely cease.”

“Whoever provides a political cover for the occupation and its crimes is not welcome on our land,” he said.
Iran’s Rogue Conduct Is Rooted in Its History
These milestones feature prominently in Iran’s education system and mosque sermons, which serve as a most effective production line for Islamic terrorists, and the suppression of and discrimination against all religious and ethnic minorities in Iran, as well as the brutal repression of women’s rights.

They have also shaped the role of Iran’s ayatollahs as the world’s leading epicenter of anti-US subversion and terrorism, attempts to topple every pro-US Arab regime (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain), the proliferation of ballistic missile and drone technologies and systems, drug trafficking, money-laundering and fueling civil wars (e.g., Morocco, the Horn of Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) from the Persian Gulf to Latin America, including the US-Mexico border. Iran’s ayatollahs consider Latin America to be the United States’ soft underbelly.

The worldview and the systematic rogue conduct of Iran’s ayatollahs since the 1979 Islamic Revolution have not been driven by “despair” or “frustration” (supposedly due to sanctions, boycotts and non-recognition of their regional and global prominence). In fact, their worldview and the rogue conduct has been consistent with their 1,400-year-old vision:
• The global exportation of the Shi’ite Islamic Revolution, while toppling all “apostate” and “heretic” Sunni Muslim regimes, and establishing a universal Shi’ite society, ruled by the Supreme Shi’ite Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei).
• Bringing the “infidel” West, and especially America — “The Great Satan” — to submission, diplomatically or militarily.

As illustrated by the ayatollahs’ violent reaction to America’s initial support of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the overly generous US diplomatic and financial gestures which accompanied the 2015 nuclear accord (JCPOA), their vision and conduct are the exact opposite of moderation, coexistence and good-faith negotiation.
Any Iran deal must have IAEA enforcement, Gantz tell Harris
Any revival of the 2015 Iran Iran nuclear deal must allow for the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor compliance, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told US Vice President Kamela Harris when they met Saturday night on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“I expressed my gratitude to US President [Joe] Biden and the VP for their commitment to preventing a nuclear Iran,” Gantz said after the meeting. “I told her that any future agreement must include consistent enforcement by the IAEA in addition to handling the open files in the nuclear program.”

Gantz is in Munich to both address the conference on Sunday and to hold wide-ranging diplomatic meetings on the possibility on the pending Iran deal, the possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Abraham Accords and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The defense minister said he also thanked Harris for the important role played by the United States in maintaining stability in the Middle East, in the face of regional aggression perpetrated by Iran and its proxies. They also discussed the importance of expanding the Abraham Accords, the situation in the Ukraine, and the importance of pursuing confidence-building measures with the Palestinians.

He said that he also “updated the VP on a series of steps I plan to take in order to deepen cooperation with our neighbors in the region.”

Israel is braced for the possibility that the United States is prepared as early as possibly this week to accept a watered-down revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed between Tehran and the six world powers: the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Great Britain.
To The Biden Admin: To Eradicate Iran's Terrorism, Confront the Ruling Mullahs
The administration, however, then made an astonishing announcement: that it is unfreezing $29 billion to the Iranian regime, despite that Iran is still, according to the State Department, an officially designated state sponsor of terrorism.

The move is apparently part of a US effort to appease the mullahs into redoing the 2015 nuclear deal that gives Iran a glide path to having nuclear weapons. Three American negotiators have already resigned and the US is not even welcome in the room.

A recent report by the United Nations, based on the last six months of 2021, acknowledged that in Iran, "terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history."

Even Iran's leaders have pointed to their ties with terror groups. A former general of the IRGC, Saeed Ghasemi, shared a surprising revelation in 2019 when he pointed out that the Iranian government sent agents to Bosnia to train Al Qaeda members, and that those operatives hid their identity by posing as humanitarian workers for Iran's Red Crescent Society.

One only need look into the Iranian regime's relationship with Al Qaeda to understand what a catastrophe it is to give billions of dollars to Iran's regime. Iran has reportedly had ties to Al Qaeda for nearly three decades.

Appeasing the ruling of mullahs of Iran and unfreezing billions of dollars to give them will only further empower them, increase their terrorist activities and accelerate their destabilization of the Middle East – another legacy of failure for which the Biden administration will be able to claim credit, along with the worst inflation in 40 years; the skyrocketing price of gasoline and heating oil from shutting down America's historic energy independence; more than 100,000 U.S. deaths in 2021 from fentanyl and other drugs; enriching and empowering Russia as well as Mexico's drug cartels; failing to give Ukraine adequate materiel to deter a Russian offensive or to protect itself from one, and the crowning $83 billion surrender to the Taliban terrorists of Afghanistan.
Iran regime plans to enrich itself by seizing Baha’i properties, says NGO
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) has announced last week that Iran’s regime is seeking to increase its wealth by confiscating Baha’i properties.

“The seizure by the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order [EIKO] of Baha’i properties is a novel and very worrying development for Iranian Baha’is,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the BIC to the United Nations in Geneva. “This development demonstrates that the highest levels of Iran’s leadership are orchestrating the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran.”

Ala’i added, “Iran’s leadership is enriching itself while impoverishing and displacing the Baha’is.”

The BIC wrote, “A Revolutionary Court in the province of Semnan has ordered that properties belonging to six Baha’is should be transferred to EIKO. Semnan Province manager for EIKO Mr. Hamid Ahmadi, initiated the action to secure a court order for the confiscations.”

Ala’i noted that “seizures in Semnan, Mazandaran and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces may be just the beginning. The risk is that more properties will continue to be seized, in a piecemeal fashion, in an attempt to evade the notice of the international community. Supporters of human rights inside and outside Iran must condemn this outrageously unjust ruling and demand that it be rescinded without delay.”

Human rights experts have noted that the Baha’is are the most persecuted non-Muslim religious minority group in Iran. According to the BIC, Iran has executed more than 200 Baha’is since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The BIC said it “is gravely concerned that an organization entirely controlled by Iran’s leadership - a parastatal (sic) body called the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, also known as Setad, which controls extensive assets across Iran – is orchestrating a rising trend of confiscations of properties belonging to Iranian Baha’is.”

In a separate but related development, Oberlin College professor of religion Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who reportedly laid the ideological foundation for the persecution of the Baha’is’ while serving as a diplomat at the UN in the early 1980’s, is facing new scrutiny that he allegedly whitewashed his family’s role in anti-Baha’i activities in Shiraz, Iran.

Alleged BLM Shooter ALREADY OUT On Bail After Firing At Mayoral Candidate

McConnell: Louisville activist’s release from jail after shooting is ‘jaw-dropping’
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell called out Black Lives Matter’s Louisville chapter from the Senate floor Thursday, criticizing the organization for posting a $100,000 bond for a local activist accused of shooting at a mayoral candidate.

McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky, said he understood the Monday shooting was still being investigated but lambasted the Louisville Community Bail Fund, run by Black Lives Matter’s Louisville chapter, for “(bailing) their comrade out of jail” just two days after the shooting at candidate Craig Greenberg’s campaign office.

“It is just jaw-dropping,” McConnell said. “The innocent people of Louisville deserve better.”

Quintez Brown was charged with attempted murder and wanton endangerment after police responded to a shooting at Butchertown Market in Louisville Monday, according to court records. Brown was found about half a mile away from the scene shortly after the shooting. He had a 9mm handgun and ammunition when police found him, according to court records.

Brown was released Wednesday evening after his bail was paid. He was fitted with an ankle monitor and permitted to go home. As part of his bond conditions, he can’t have contact with Greenberg or any of his employees or campaign staff, according to court records. He also can’t have any guns.

McConnell also criticized major companies in America that have donated to Black Lives Matter in recent years.

“One wonders if any of their corporate money helped spring this would-be assassin from jail,” McConnell said.

'This Is Just Jaw-Dropping': McConnell Reacts To Assassination Attempt Of Dem Mayoral Candidate

Fury as NUS backs ‘Israel Apartheid Week’
Jewish students have accused the National Union of Students (NUS) of stoking division after it declared it would “stand in solidarity” with activists planning to smear Israel as an “apartheid state” next month.

The annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which begins on 21 March, has been widely criticised for intimidating Jewish students and stifling reasoned debate about the Middle East. The NUS has supported it in the past.

Nina Freedman, President of the Union of Jewish Students, said it was disappointing that the students’ union had again backed IAW, adding: “NUS have placed themselves in a position of division not dialogue.”

She said: “Israel Apartheid Week is a divisive and confrontational tool used to damage and polarise communities, rather than building consensus and co-operation around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We see year on year that it creates a hostile environment on campus and online for Jewish Students.”

Jonathan Hunter, chairman of the Pinsker Centre, a think-tank that advocates for open debate on university campuses, said: “As a student organisation, the NUS ought to represent the rights of all students to the best of their ability.

“It is disappointing that they instead choose to vouch for radical activists who routinely perpetuate antisemitic tropes.”

The declaration by the union comes after the Community Security Trust revealed last week that incidents of antisemitism on campus rose three-fold in 2021 to 128 cases.

BBC’s Tom Bateman continues to promote his chosen narratives
On the morning of February 16th the BBC News website published an article by the Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman titled “Naftali Bennett: Warm welcome for Israeli leader in Bahrain”.

Most of that report filed from the capital of Bahrain, Manama, relates to the Israeli prime minister’s recent visit there, with Bateman part of the accompanying press contingent.

However towards the end of the article, readers find one of Tom Bateman’s recurring talking points.

“But left most isolated by the new diplomacy are the Palestinians. They see normalisation with Israel as a betrayal by Arab leaders of their hopes for an independent state. Their cause remains a touchstone issue for many ordinary people in the Arab world.”

The same narrative of “betrayal” was repeatedly promoted by Bateman two months ago when Israel’s prime minister visited the UAE:

That narrative has been advanced by the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau ever since the Abraham Accords were signed in the summer of 2020:
Revealed: How Nazi monster who oversaw torture and murder of CHILDREN at 'Little Auschwitz' went on to live 'cosy' post-war life writing training manuals for German POLICE, new research shows
A Nazi officer in charge of a concentration camp for children escaped justice and lived a 'cozy post-war life' writing books and police manuals, new research has found.

A three-month investigation by Polish historians has revealed that the commandant who oversaw the camp, which was dubbed 'Little Auschwitz', escaped justice because his name had been misspelt in official documents.

SS Sturmbannführer Friedrich Camillo Ehrlich was head of the notorious children's concentration camp 'Kinder-KZ' in the city of Lodz in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War.

There, he oversaw the mistreatment of up to 2,000 Polish youngsters, of whom as many as 300 were murdered or died due to the horrendous conditions.

Captured by the Red Army and sentenced to life imprisonment at the end of the war, Ehrlich was later released by East German authorities - and then disappeared.

Now, after digging through German and Polish archives, researchers have found that he lived happily in retirement, writing books and doing consultancy work for the German police.

One book he wrote for the police bore the title in German of Einbrecher, which translates as 'Burglars'.

Michał Hankiewicz from the Museum of Polish Children of Victims of Totalitarianism which carried out the investigation said that because of an admin mistake, he was known as Karl Ehrlich after the war.

'Consequently, he was never held accountable for his war crimes,' Mr Hankiewicz said.

Armed with the new information that Karl Ehrlich and Friedrich Camillo Ehrlich were the same person, the researchers were able to start piecing his life together.
German police: Antisemitic conspiracies were a factor in man killing own family
Authorities in Germany believe antisemitism was one of the factors that led a man near Berlin to kill four members of his family and then himself last year.

The bodies of the man and his wife, both aged 40, and their children aged 10, 8 and 4 were discovered with gunshot wounds at their home in Brandenburg state on December 7, 2021. Prosecutors said at the time that a note also found at the house in the town of Koenigs Wusterhausen indicated the man was afraid a forged coronavirus vaccination certificate would result in their children being taken away.

Germany’s Interior Ministry said in a written reply to Left party lawmaker Petra Pau that investigators found chat messages showing the father believed the state’s vaccine campaign was part of a plan “to halve the world population and establish a new world order under Jewish leadership.”

Judith Porath, who heads a group that helps victims of far-right violence in Brandenburg state that published extracts from the letter Friday, said the incident showed the extent to which antisemitic conspiracy theories have spread among those opposed to government measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona Jews sue to stop the state from executing people with Zyklon B
Leaders of Arizona’s Jewish community are suing the state to prevent it from using hydrogen cyanide, the same lethal gas that was deployed at Auschwitz, to carry out capital punishment.

During the Holocaust, the Nazis used pellets of Zyklon B, a hydrogen cyanide formulation, in the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other death camps. At the height of Auschwitz’s operations in 1943 and 1944, an average of 6,000 Jews were gassed to death each day there.

Using the gas in executions in the United States is “tantamount to approving of what the Nazis did,” said Janice Friebaum, former vice president and spokesperson for the Phoenix Holocaust Association.

“It’s a very painful way to kill a person and it’s fundamentally inhumane,” Friebaum said. “To think that it was done to millions of people during the Holocaust is horrific enough, but to think that 70 to 80 years later we’re thinking of using it as a method of capital punishment is mind-boggling.”

Arizona ended the use of execution by lethal gas in 1992, but allowed the use of gas for people who had already been sentenced at that time, leaving 17 people potentially subject to this form of execution. The state is currently seeking warrants of execution for two death row inmates, Frank Atwood and Clarence Dixon, both of whom would be eligible to be executed by gas.
Izmir synagogue restoration project reveals dazzling history of onetime Diaspora gem
Once a jewel of the Diaspora, 150 years ago the Jewish community of Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast numbered over 30,000. It was the hometown of notable figures, from the Ladino singer Dario Moreno to the renowned Rabbi Haim Pallachi to the infamous false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi. Today, the city’s Jewish community has dwindled to barely 1,000 members. But Izmir’s residents and visitors will soon be able to get a taste of what the city was like when it was home to the third-largest Jewish community in the Ottoman empire.

Thanks to the Izmir Jewish heritage project, nine historic synagogues in Izmir’s old town, known as Kemeralti, have been restored and will soon be open to the public as museums, starting in June. The neighborhood, which sits not far from a promenade on the Gulf of Izmir, is one of the largest open markets in the world, attracting tourists from all over Europe and beyond.

“You can find anything you want there, you can taste any food, smell any scent,” Nesim Bencoya, director of the heritage project, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Today, its skyline is dominated by the minarets of its many mosques and the spires of churches belonging to the Greek Orthodox community, whose members were once also a defining feature of Izmir’s diversity.

When the project opens, Bencoya hopes that the synagogues will join them as a major aspect of Kemeralti’s character. “Even if there will not be one single Jew in Izmir, people will be able to say, look, there was a Jewish civilization here,” he said.

Six of the nine synagogues stand next to each other, practically wall to wall, surrounding a courtyard, while the other three are dispersed throughout the neighborhood. In addition to the synagogues, also undergoing restoration is the former office of the city’s chief rabbi. Just a few minutes’ walk away in the neighborhood is the childhood home of Shabbetai Tzvi and a building that once housed a kosher winery.

Once complete, the synagogues will serve as a living museum to Izmir’s Jewish history, with exhibits on local customs as well as on the history of the individual synagogues and their congregants — such as the Algazi synagogue, which is named after the musical family of its rabbi, or the Portekiz synagogue, which was founded in the 16th century by North African Jews of Portuguese descent.

Tower of David renewal seeks to reinstate ancient citadel as Old City beacon
There are portions of Jerusalem’s ancient Tower of David Museum that date as far back as 2,500 years, with sections that were regularly renovated and constructed over the centuries, depending on the period and its ruler.

Now the formidable fortress is undergoing a $40 million renewal project, making the museum complex accessible for the first time in its history, along with a new entrance pavilion and a state-of-the-art permanent exhibition.

The entire project is slated to be completed by late 2022.

After years of entering the museum from the eastern side of the citadel, closer to an entrance of the Old City shuk, the entrance will be moved to the western side of the citadel, directly across from Jaffa Gate.

The Tower of David, located in the walled citadel, was known for thousands of years as the “lighthouse” of the city, guiding pilgrims approaching Jerusalem from the west, known as the first Jerusalem landmark on the horizon.

Visitors would walk in its direction, arriving at the Jaffa Gate, known as such because it was approached from the west, from the city of Jaffa. The gate was also known as David’s Gate, because of its location next to the Tower of David. The site of the new Patrick and Lina Drahi entrance pavilion at the Tower of David Museum. (Courtesy: Ricky Rachman)

The new entrance pavilion will allow comfortable access from the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the eastern side beyond the Old City walls — to the Citadel, the Museum and the Old City, reinstating the status of the Tower of David as the entry point to the Old City.

The pavilion, part of the overall plans designed by Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, will be a 1,000-meter (3,281-foot) sunken steel, stone and glass building dug 17 meters (56 feet) below ground, between the ancient walls of the citadel and the Old City.

The new entrance, called the Patrick and Lina Drahi entrance pavilion (funded by the Drahi family, the founder of the European media group Altice and owner of the Sotheby’s auction house), will include a coffee shop and gift store, a shaded seating area open to the public and museum visitors, and easily accessible to parking lots and a planned light rail stop near Jaffa Gate.