Wednesday, April 06, 2022

04/06 Links Pt2: Where’s the apartheid?; Nobel Prize Winner Tries to Make the Case for BDS — And Fails Spectacularly; Chair used to fend off Texas synagogue shooter to be shown at Jewish museum

From Ian:

Where’s the apartheid?
While the Nation-State Law of Israel recognizes the country as a homeland of the Jews, Amnesty’s claims about Israel’s relegating services to only Jews are false. Israeli Arabs have countless opportunities to be successful as Arabs in Israel. There are many examples to prove Amnesty wrong but let me summarize a few: Arab men can volunteer in the army, and Arab females can do civil service. The working staff in most of the pharmacies across Israel are Arabs. The Arab town of Kafr Qara, which is located to the southeast of Haifa, holds the highest rates of doctors and graduate degrees in the entire country. I personally witnessed a Muslim doctor in Jerusalem who was providing medical services to Jews and witnessed many products in Israeli grocery stores that are made by Muslim Arabs, including meat and poultry that offer kosher slaughter to Jews.

On linguistic and religious grounds, Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel and non-Jews freely practice their religion. The use of the Arabic language in public facilitation, traffic signs, government services, transit systems, and even private shops cannot go unnoticed by any visitor to Israel. Hebrew is not forced on Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Perhaps Amnesty should survey Syria, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and North African countries that host minorities to see if they are free to study by their mother tongue. In addition, there are mosques and churches all over the Jewish state, and non-Muslims are not restricted from practicing their religion. In fact, Israeli universities and even the Knesset house prayer rooms for Muslims. In some Muslim countries, it is still forbidden to build a non-Muslim worship site.

Since 1993 Israel has accepted full Palestinian Autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. It includes the right to establish legal, security, administrative, educational institutions and even to issue passports to Palestinians. In 1999, Prime Minister Ehud Barak transferred the rights of the natural-gas offshore Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, hoping that PA would use the revenues for the wellbeing of the Palestinians. To this day, Israel receives critical Palestinian patients from Gaza and West Bank, and successful Palestinian students from PA region can continue their studies in Israeli universities. An eyewitness from Gaza who has traveled widely in the region confirmed that Gaza is more advanced than many metropolitan areas in Arab countries. In spite of the autonomy agreement, the PA officials fail to sincerely recognize the right of Israel to exist, which can be easily noticed in their press interviews.

Despite the many challenges, Israel remains as the most democratic country in the Middle East. It is the only country where the believers of the three Abrahamic religions coexist. Amnesty’s report has not only damaged its credibility but has also opened the door for questions on its intentions. The late Golda Meier was quoted: “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” Likewise, Amnesty will become a credible organization when it seeks independent reporting more than hating a party.
Nobel Prize Winner Tries to Make the Case for BDS — And Fails Spectacularly
Just when it seemed that Smith had forgotten that his lecture was directed at the Palestinian lobby, he shifted suddenly and inexplicably to the “nakba” — an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe” used to describe the Arab loss to Israel in 1948–49. This strange non sequitur, coming 30 minutes into a talk about viruses and ideas, had Smith suddenly emoting like the BDS-er that he is about how “Zionism has inflicted upon the Palestinian people” a program of cultural “erasure” and “dispossession” without much explanation of how any of this fit into his flailing metaphor.

All the usual dim clichés followed: “Zionism’s apartheid regime,” “ethnic supremacism,” and “cultural deprivation.”

At one point, Smith’s metaphor-run-amok had him comparing education with infection. His odd reference to how kindergarten teachers “infect children’s brains with ideas” was particularly ironic given that the Palestinian educational system is a brainwashing project designed to make children hate. Anyone with an internet connection can find angelic-faced Palestinian children, some very young, singing about sacrificing their lives with they learn in classrooms and mimicking their teachers’ lessons about a Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

Smith exclaimed that “the West Bank is a police state” and “Gaza is worse than a police state” — which is ironic because he meant to indict Israel as the bad cop and apparently doesn’t know that 95 percent of Palestinians living in “the West Bank” are governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and 100 percent of Palestinians living in Gaza are governed by Hamas. Sure, they’re police states, but take that up with Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh.

When one questioner asked if there might be such a thing as “ideological vaccinations against contagious ideas,” Smith was stumped, admitting “that is a metaphor I didn’t think of.” As he laughed nervously, Miller chimed in with “It’s called hegemony” (as if that made any sense), but it was clear that Smith had a sudden epiphany as he blurted out (see the 55:05 mark on the YouTube version), “Could we consider the separation wall as vaccination against unwanted ideas, unwanted in the view of the police state?” Exactly right, Professor Smith. Since the wall that Israel built at the height of the second intifada largely put an end to the second intifada by blocking the Palestinian suicide bombers’ access to civilian-rich Israeli targets, it fulfills the metaphorical role of vaccination nicely, but it also compares Palestinian suicide bombers to a virus, which probably wasn’t his intention.

In fact, every effort Smith made to salvage his analogy gone wrong came back with shades of irony, inviting comparison of Palestinian culture to a virus and Israeli counterterrorism measures to medicine.
BDS Co-Opts Ukraine and Drives Campus Hate to Attack Israel
In a characteristic display of opportunism, the BDS movement in March concentrated its focus on the war in Ukraine. Responding to the rapid condemnation of Russia and the implementation of economic sanctions, leaders and members of the BDS movement, its representatives in Congress, and allied intellectuals, alleged a hypocritical double standard and demanded the same be done to Israel. This sentiment was echoed by the Palestinian Authority, which claimed the “international community is being hypocritical and racist by being more sympathetic towards the Ukrainians because of their color, religion and race.”

The BDS movement’s position was complicated by the response of far left allies, including the Democratic Socialists of America, which initially blamed NATO expansion for goading Russia to attack, and then moderated to a broad anti-war position. Palestinian Authority support for Russia went largely unnoticed. The fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and that Ukraine and Israel have positive relations is also a complication.

One strange illustration of the equation of Ukraine and “Palestine” came from model Gigi Hadid, who stated she was “pledging to donate my earnings from the Fall 2022 shows to aid those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as well as continuing to support those experiencing the same in Palestine.” Hadid, who is of Palestinian descent, has participated in anti-Israel protests.

In a social media posting, Vogue Magazine, which featured an interview with Hadid in March, initially removed her comments equating Ukrainians and Palestinians but restored them after criticism. In the interview, Hadid commented that she was hurt by allegations she had called for the destruction of Israel, adding, “I truly respect Judaism, and I think it’s a beautiful religion. … This is about a government system suppressing people.”

More broadly, the rapid condemnation of Russia and severing of commercial ties points to how a society can be quickly vilified and isolated.

‘Jew hatred!’ WJC head Ronald Lauder calls antisemitism what it really is
In a pre-recorded video address broadcast to attendees at the Jerusalem Post London Conference, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, discussed a wide range of topics, including antisemitism, the war in Ukraine, the Iranian threat to Israel, and the importance of maintaining the unity of the Jewish people.

Lauder suggested that ‘Jew-Hatred’ is a more apt and accurate term than antisemitism. “Anti-Semitism” is a holdover from the 19th century,” said Lauder, and it has lost its meaning. No one cares when they hear Anti-Semitism. From now on, let’s all call it what it really is – the hatred-of-Jews, or Jew-Hatred.”

Turning to what he termed the Conference’s elephant in the room – the war in Ukraine – Lauder said that no one could ignore the destruction and devastation occurring there, noting that the war has created more than 10 million refugees seeking food, shelter and safety. For more panels and interviews from The Jerusalem Post London Conference, click here >>

Lauder praised the response from surrounding countries in the area, such as Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia, who have found homes, shelters and jobs for refugees. He added that the Lauder Jewish school network in Europe has returned young Ukrainian children to classrooms in Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest and elsewhere, while in Israel, refugee families have found jobs in the Negev.

Lauder cautioned that were Israel to be attacked by its enemies, other countries would do little to stop such an attack. “When Iran stages “Death to Israel” demonstrations for over 40 years,” said Lauder, “today they now dream of Ukraine.” The only people who will protect Israel, he added, are the Israeli people.
Antisemitic Graffiti at Paris Nanterre University Draws Condemnation from Jewish Students
The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) has condemned antisemitic messages scrawled in the bathroom of the law building at Paris Nanterre University.

Photographs of the graffiti shared by UEJF show a Star of David scrawled on yellow tile with “MEDIA” written in black permanent marker. Others said “Hitler, you’re the best,” and invoked the antisemitic “qui?” (who?) slogan, which was launched after a retired French general insinuated in a television interview that Jews control the media, according to Le Figaro Étudiant.

“Enough is enough! This antisemitism, unabashed, assumed, in front of thousands of students and in the total indifference, it is every day,” UEJF president Samuel Lejoyeux told Le Figaro Étudiant on Thursday. “It’s complicated to be a Jewish student … we are constantly brought back to the question of Israel, to the conspiracy that whites dominate everything and that Jews are ‘super whites.'”

Responding to the graffiti on Thursday, Paris Nanterre University president Philippe Gervais-Lambony told the outlet, “We condemn in the strongest terms and in an absolute manner any antisemitic and racist act.”

The public university also tweeted that removal and investigation of the graffiti is underway.

New Jewish Museum Exhibit on Holocaust to Feature 700 Artifacts, Including Stories of Ukrainian Jews
The Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City revealed on Tuesday its new main exhibition about Holocaust history that will feature over 700 artifacts from the museum’s collection, many donated from survivors and their families, and numerous others on view for the first time.

The 12,000-square-foot exhibition “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” will showcase original Holocaust-era objects and survivor testimonies including artifacts from Ukraine — exploring the history of Ukrainian Jews as the country faces Russia’s ongoing war. The exhibit will also highlight stories about Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust.

“Each room, and each object, contains generations of experiences and information about who Jews are, what sustains Jewish communities, and what life was like during the period of European modernization, World War I, and the political and social movements that brought about the rise of the Nazi Party,” the museum said in an announcement. “Within the Holocaust experiences of legalized racism and fascism, pogroms, ghettos, mass murder, and concentration camps are instances of personal and global decision-making, escape, resistance, and resilience, and ultimately liberation and new beginnings.”

“The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” will be the museum’s first exhibit to open in its core galleries since “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” which closed last spring.

“The title of our new exhibition speaks to our institution’s very reason for being,” said Museum of Jewish Heritage President and CEO Jack Kliger. “Antisemitism and fascism are again on the rise throughout the world. Right here in New York, we have witnessed not only a surge in antisemitism but an uptick in violence and harassment targeting many marginalized groups.”

“The time to speak out and act is upon us, and it is urgent,” he said.

“The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” will open for previews on June 30.
Chair used to fend off Texas synagogue shooter to be shown at Jewish museum
A chair Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker threw at his armed captor during a hostage situation at the Colleyville Congregation Beth Israel synagogue will be featured in an exhibit on modern antisemitism at a Jewish American history museum.

Malik Faisal Akram, a British gunman, held four people captive at the synagogue back in January, but the hostages were able to escape unharmed after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at him.

This same chair is set to be displayed at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia alongside a cup in which Cytron-Walker offered tea to the gunman when he first entered the synagogue.

"'The Cup and The Chair' are not only artifacts that document a historic event but are symbolic of fundamental Jewish values: 'Welcoming strangers' and 'Redeeming captives,'" museum president and CEO Misha Galperin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email.

"They also represent the basic American ideals of embracing newcomers and bravery in the face of danger. This is what Jewish Americans aspire to be and what the Weitzman Museum aspires to represent," Galperin said.
Six Jewish Kids Threatened With Sword, Knife and Crowbar in Latest New York City Antisemitic Attack
Six Jewish boys were the target of antisemitic intimidation last week on New York’s Upper West Side, by three other teens bearing a knife, sword, and crowbar who threatened to attack them because of their faith.

According to the NYPD, the incident occurred on April 2 at 7:20pm at West End Avenue and West 86 Street.

The six victims, reported as between the ages of 12-16, were approached by three male teenagers who were carrying a knife, sword, and crowbar.

The three then said they wanted get the Jewish pre-teens and teens because they were Jews, and followed the group home before fleeing the area.

The NYPD said that there were no reported injuries, and that its Hate Crimes Task Force is now investigating.

Gale A. Brewer, a former Manhattan borough president and now an Upper West Side Council Member, tweeted on Sunday, “My office was informed of a horrible antisemitic attack targeting 8th & 9th grade boys at 85th & West End Ave yesterday evening, 4/2. Yes, on children.”

“Antisemitism is abhorrent & an attack on us all,” Brewer continued.

Berlin Senate Approves New Plan to Combat Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism
The state senate in the German capital Berlin has approved a new proposal to step up the fight against rising antisemitism in the city.

At a session on Tuesday, the senate — which governs Berlin, one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany — gave its backing to a 260-page report submitted by Samuel Salzborn, the antisemitism officer for Berlin, that concentrates efforts in five areas: education, the judicial system, Jewish life, science and research and prevention of discrimination.

Antisemitic incidents in Berlin have risen precipitously year-on-year, registering an increase of 17 percent in the first six months of 2021. Many of the incidents took place during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last May, which was accompanied by a wave of antisemitic violence around the world.

Conspiracy theories about the origins and control of the COVID-19 pandemic were another source of antisemitic agitation, as was the appropriation of Holocaust-related imagery by vaccination refusal advocates. “The denial and/or relativization of the Shoah and the Nazi regime were a central component of the demonstrations and a key driver for their radicalization processes from the very beginning,” Salzborn observed.

Salzborn was highly critical of how antisemitism is taught in Berlin schools, arguing that the topic was appropriate for social studies as well as history classes.

“Antisemitism begins in 1933 and ends in 1945,” said Salzborn, referring to the 12 years that the Nazi regime was in power. “What came before and after is not an issue in schools.”
Former Russian UN diplomat is NEO-NAZI leader who defaced New York with death's head logo and posted photos of himself performing Nazi salute - as Putin claims Russia is 'de-Nazifying Ukraine'
Kirill Kolchin was based at the Russian Mission to the United Nations from the summer of 2019 until February 2020 as diplomatic support staff

Kolchin boasts about his neo-Nazi links, describing himself on his Instagram page as a supporter of 'OSS' - Old School Skins - and promoting the Iron Cross

The OSS Instagram page shows off brass knuckles, knives, and guns with the promise to shoot 'antifa scum'

While Kolchin was in New York, OSS's page showed stickers from the group in Times Square, on the East River, and at Brighton Beach

A man who appears to be Kolchin was photographed on the OSS page doing a Nazi salute, and the site showed a visit to a museum in Russia with Nazi uniforms

Kolchin appears to be back in Moscow now, while his boss Vladimir Putin insists that he invaded Ukraine to 'de-Nazify' the country
Former Brighton students sue over years of ‘anti-Semitic bullying’
Five former students of Brighton Secondary College are suing the state of Victoria [Australia] over what they allege was years of anti-Semitic bullying and discrimination at the government school and chronic negligence by its principal and some teachers in their duty to protect them. Five former students of Brighton Secondary College are suing the state over the school’s alleged failure to protect them from years of anti-Semitic discrimination and abuse.

The students, all of Jewish descent, are seeking damages for alleged breaches of their human rights and of the Racial Discrimination Act.

They allege the school tolerated a culture of anti-Semitism that deprived them of their right to safety and to an education.

The Federal Court on Tuesday accepted a request to suppress the names of more than 20 other students alleged to have victimised the five students over several years, before an expected hearing later this year.

Four of the five students have said in a statement of claim filed with the court that they left the Melbourne bayside school prematurely to escape the alleged serial racist abuse and discrimination that occurred between 2013 and 2020 and the school’s repeated failure to protect them or discipline perpetrators.
Streets once named after prominent antisemites in Bayreuth given new names
Councillors in the northern Bavarian town of Bayreuth have voted to give new names to two streets once dedicated to noted antisemites.

One was named after the bishop, Hans Meiser, the first Landesbischof (Regional Bishop) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria from 1933 to 1955. Bishop Meisner, boasting a huge following among Bavarian Protestants, was said to have had Nazi ties and once wrote that there was something “corrosive, caustic, dissolving about the Jewish mind”. It has been renamed Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Straße in honour of the anti-Nazi theologian.

Hans-von-Wolzogen-Straße, named after the friend and biographer of the antisemitic composer Richard Wagner, is now to be called Friedelind-Wagner-Straße. Friedelind Wagner, the composer’s granddaughter, escaped Nazi Germany to the United States in 1941 after being implicated in anti-Nazi propaganda. Baron von Wolzogen, believed to have shared the composer’s antisemitic views, was the editor of the publication Bayreuther Blätter, which published antisemitic material, from 1878-1938.

Richard Wagner lived in Bayreuth from 1873 until his death in 1883. The Bayreuth Festspielhaus (Opera House) was constructed especially for the purpose of showing Wagner’s operas. His villa, Wahnfriend, was converted into a museum dedicated to his life and work after the Second World War.
Germany’s top soccer league aims to tackle its antisemitism problem
When German soccer fans said they were “building a train to Auschwitz” for their Makkabi Deutschland Jewish youth team opponents in 2006, it caused a sensation. Fan culture has changed for the better since then, observers say.

But it’s not good enough.

Earlier this week, a 28-year-old fan displayed a Hitler salute — which is banned in Germany — at a game between the national teams of Germany and Israel, in the southwest German town of Sinsheim. Police are investigating the incident.

From chants and insults in stadiums to offensive banners and stickers, antisemitism is still prevalent in Europe’s soccer stadiums, where — reflecting society at large — a right-wing fringe equates the word “Jew” with “loser,” and anything Israel related is demonized. The topic is much more prominent worldwide in the English Premier League, where opponents (and some affectionate fans) of Tottenham Hotspur routinely call the team’s fans “Yids,” and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich — who is selling his Chelsea club over his ties to Vladimir Putin — started a high-profile campaign to combat antisemitism in football.

But the issue persists in the German Bundesliga, one of the world’s top leagues, as well. On Wednesday, experts and Jewish leaders gathered in Dortmund to call for a united voice against antisemitism in soccer culture, and by extension throughout society.

At a daylong conference titled “Antisemitism and Professional Football: Challenges, Opportunities, Network,” organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the World Jewish Congress and the Deutsche Fußball Liga (German Soccer league, or DFL), participants looked at best practices — from history education to increased encounters with Jews — and renewed their commitment to tackle the problem.
Sarasota neighbors use peaceful yard signs to drown out antisemitic fliers
More antisemitic fliers popped up over the weekend in a Sarasota neighborhood. Sarasota police have said they are investigating the source of the hate messages.

The anti-Jewish fliers showed up on Wisteria Lane and the Arlington Park neighborhood overnight and police started getting calls about them on Saturday morning.

The fliers showed up in Ziploc bags, weighed down with rice. They read: "Every Single Aspect of the Ukraine Russia War is Jewish."

This would be the second time in a month that such hate-filled fliers have been distributed in neighborhoods. Similar fliers showed up in the Cherokee Park neighborhood in February, which referenced COVID-19 propaganda.

But neighbors and leaders in the community have responded to the hate message with their own message of unity

More than 1,000 yard signs that read "United Against Hate" have now been placed in front of several homes across Sarasota since the February incident. Community leaders have urged neighbors to use the signs to drown out the hate message popping up in their driveways.

"We don't need to respond every time they come up with a new flyer or a new conspiracy theory," said Shep Englander of the Jewish Foundation of Sarasota-Manatee.

First Memoir by Anne Frank’s Childhood Friend, Fellow Inmate at Bergen-Belsen Set for Release
Rider, a publishing imprint of Ebury Publishing, will release next year a memoir by Holocaust survivor Hannah Pick-Goslar about her childhood friendship with diarist and Holocaust victim Anne Frank, The Bookseller reported on Tuesday.

“My Friend, Anne Frank,” ghostwritten by journalist Dina Kraft, will be published in hardback and e-book on May 16, 2023. Ebury publisher Andrew Goodfellow acquired world rights for the memoir from the author herself.

“I vividly remember feeling bereft after finishing reading Anne Frank’s diary when I was a girl,” Kraft said. “The loss felt real, as if I had lost a friend. And now I have the privilege of helping tell the story of Hannah, one of Anne’s closest friends, which is, in part, the story Anne did not survive to tell.”

The memoir will share details about Pick-Goslar’s life during the Nazi occupation of Europe, the Frank family’s disappearance from Amsterdam, and Pick-Goslar’s deportation to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she was united with Frank. The author also describes how she risked her life at the concentration camp to throw food and clothes over a barbed-wire fence to Frank.

“At a time when the world is taking a dark turn and we see millions of innocent people on the move and under attack, alongside a rise of antisemitic hate crimes and Holocaust denial, I feel my personal story takes on new urgency,” said Pick-Goslar. “As a girl I witnessed the world I loved crumble and vanish, destroyed by senseless hatred, and with it, my best friend Anne Frank.

She added, “Anne was able to tell part of her story. I hope my memoir will help illuminate what she, and so many other children like us, endured at the hands of the Nazis, only because we were Jewish. And for those of us who were lucky enough to have survived, I hope my story will shed light on how we rebuilt our lives.”
Iconic singer Barry Manilow dishes on bringing his Nazi-era musical to NYC
Barry Manilow could fill a stage just by showing up with a piano, and he has: starting in 1977, his stints on Broadway have nearly always sold out. With 13 multi-platinum albums, 28 top-10 hits, and a famously devoted fan base, he might be forgiven if he wanted to rest on his laurels.

But at 78, the Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter and his writing partner Bruce Sussman are, well, ready to take a chance again. Their musical “Harmony,” which is being produced by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, is being staged in New York for the first time. It is a musical about the Comedian Harmonists, a performing troupe of Jews and Gentiles who combined close harmonies and stage antics in Germany during the 1920s and ‘30s.

Their success was a counterpoint to the rise of the Nazis, who eventually banned performances featuring work by Jewish composers, which was a huge part of their repertoire. In 1934, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported at the time, the Harmonists were prohibited from giving public concerts because two members of the group were Jewish.

Manilow and Sussman have been working together for decades, with a catalog that includes everything from pop hits to musical theater spectacles. “Harmony” was first staged in 1997; Sussman learned about the group thanks to a lengthy German-language documentary that first aired in 1977.

“We couldn’t believe that we didn’t know these people,” Manilow said of the Harmonists.

Before the show officially opens on April 14 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan, the New York Jewish Week caught up with Manilow and Sussman to talk about musical theater, their Jewish upbringings in New York City, and how to create harmony in an ever discordant world.
Pro Wrestling Star MJF Fights Hate, Says ‘I’m Very Proud’ to Be Jewish
At a time of rising antisemitism, one might not expect a pro wrestler to be a leading advocate for the Jewish people.

But Maxwell Jacob Friedman is no ordinary wrestler.

At just 26 years old, MJF (as he’s commonly known) is already one of the biggest stars in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). And he’s the first mainstream wrestling star to openly embrace his faith and make it a central part of his character.

In an interview with The Algemeiner, Friedman explained that he didn’t set out to become a prominent defender of Jews, but that it “happened organically — because that’s just something I’ve dealt with my whole life.”

In a gripping promo on the Feb. 23 edition of “AEW Dynamite” on TBS, Friedman told the story of the antisemitic abuse he suffered as a young athlete, having quarters violently thrown at him and being called “Jewboy.”

Friedman still experiences that antisemitism today, whether at the US border, in restaurants, or from fellow wrestlers. But rather than back down, he’s taken the fight to the haters — both publicly and privately, while using his growing online and TV presence to talk about the dangers facing American Jews today.

Israel unveils permanent tribute to Operation Michaelberg
The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has inaugurated an exhibit dedicated to clandestine immigration to Israel from Arab countries. The exhibit, at the Atlit Detention Camp museum, features a replica of the plane used to ferry 100 Jews secretly from Baghdad. It pays tribute to Shlomo Hillel, who initiated Operation Michaelberg, the first attempt to airlift Iraqi Jews in 1947. Michaelberg proved to be a trial run for the airlift of 120,000 Jews on Operation Ezra and Nehemiah (1950 -51).

In his speech, the President spoke of the late Shlomo Hillel, the commander of Operation Michaelberg, and said: “In his final years, Shlomo dreamed a dream here, one of the many dreams that he carried and realized, to illustrate to the general public with an old plane how Operation Michaelberg unfolded, a chapter that is insufficiently known in the history of aerial pre-state immigration. It is this dream, Shlomo’s last, that we are realizing here today, in his honor and in his memory.”

The President added: “Operation Michaelberg, or Operation Wing, to bring Iraqi Jews to Israel, is an important lesson that must be taught and assimilated into our life as a nation and as a state. It is a strong reflection of mutual responsibility, of our responsibility for our people’s fate, and for the fact that the Land of Israel is a home for the Jewish People, all the more so when it is in distress. Shlomo always said that the period of pre-state immigration was one of the most glorious chapters of Israeli history.”
Statue in Spain Marks 530 Years Since Expulsion of Jews
The board of the Hispanic Jewish Foundation (Fundación HispanoJudía) erected a monument in the port of Cartagena in Spain to mark 530 years since the Alhambra Decree that forced the expulsion of Jews from Spain.

The foundation said it commissioned the piece, “El Abrazo” (“The Embrace”), for the José Sacal Foundation “as a gesture of the new relationship between the Hispanic and Jewish worlds.” Mexican Jewish artist José Sacal died during the coronavirus pandemic.

The monument’s location is also significant because the port of Cartagena was the last place in the Iberian Peninsula that Jews saw before they left Spain by sea following the anti-Jewish decree.

The monument’s unveiling was attended by the regional government of Murcia, led by its president, Fernando Lopez Mira; the mayor of Cartagena; Hispanic Jewish Foundation president David Hatchwell; and 30 members of its board of trustees from various countries.

On March 31, 1492, Spain’s Catholic monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, signed a decree ordering the expulsion of practicing Jews from their kingdoms by July 31 of that year. Those who did not leave or convert to Christianity were sentenced to death.

The Alhambra Decree was in effect until the Spanish Constitution of 1869 officially granted freedom of religion. By then, hundreds of thousands of Jews had fled Spain.

Sea of Galilee nears maximum capacity for first time in 30 years
The Sea of Galilee on Tuesday neared its upper red line threshold, sitting only 32 centimeters (13 inches) below its maximum capacity — which it has not reached in 30 years.

The water level is now 0.32 meters (13 inches) below the upper red line, or 209.12 meters (686 feet) below sea level. The upper red line is 208.8 meters (685 feet) below sea level. The lake — the Sea of Galilee is actually a lake — is now 3.88 meters above the lower red line, the level at which water quality declines and causes damage to the ecological balance.

The water levels of the Sea of Galilee have seen dramatic highs and perilous lows in recent years. Only six years ago, the situation was extremely bleak.

On April 4, 2016, the lake level was 3.29 meters (11 feet) lower than today. The level measured at that time was 212.41 meters (697 feet) below sea level, or 3.61 meters (12 feet) below the upper red line.

The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s largest freshwater lake, and while it is no longer used as the main source of drinking water, it is still seen as a significant gauge of seasonal rainfall.

Even though the Sea of Galilee is nearing its maximum capacity, there are failsafes to prevent flooding. If the water level exceeds the upper red line, the Israel Water Authority opens the Deganya dam, located at the southern end of the lake.



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