Tuesday, May 31, 2022

05/31 Links Pt2: The U.S. State Department and Antisemitism; Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Silence Openly Approves Violence Against Jews; 'Acceptable' antisemitism now targets AIPAC

From Ian:

CAMERA Op-Ed: The U.S. State Department and Antisemitism
On April 12, 2022, the State Department published its 2021 “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Israel, West Bank and Gaza.” As the Jewish Insider, among others, noted, the document relied extensively on Amnesty International, an NGO that has accused Israel of “apartheid.” But as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has highlighted, Amnesty’s accusations are steeped in shoddy research, double standards, and baseless claims.

The head of Amnesty’s US office, Paul O’Brien, has said that the organization is opposed to the existence of the world’s sole Jewish state. And, as NGO Monitor and CAMERA have documented, several Amnesty employees have made antisemitic comments and openly supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which singles out Israel for opprobrium and seeks its destruction.

In February 2022, the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, even called Amnesty’s libel “absurd.”

Yet, none of this stopped the State Department from citing Amnesty. Indeed, in some quarters, it may have recommended it.

The American foreign service, it must be said, is filled with hardworking and talented professionals who, no doubt, reject hate in all its forms. There is no evidence to suggest that the majority hold views that are anti-Israel or even antisemitic. One must not paint with a broad brush. But there is evidence to suggest that anti-Israel bias, and even antisemitism, isn’t foreign to the US diplomatic corps. There was replete evidence of antisemitism during much of the 20th century, but it certainly still exists today.

One State Department official even has ties to an organization that propagates antisemitism. As the Washington Free Beacon reported in February 2021, the then-nominee for the post of Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Uzra Zeya, had previously worked for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA). As a WRMEA staffer, Zeya had helped compile research for a book that argues that “the Israel lobby has subverted the American political process to take control of US Middle East policy.”

Accusations of undue and pernicious Jewish power meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by numerous governments and entities—including the US State Department. She was later confirmed to her position.

As CAMERA highlighted, WRMEA has, among other things, implied that Israel was connected to the JFK assassination and the Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, and has published books with chapters that warn about “Jewish Power in the Formulation of US Middle East Policy.”

WRMEA has also accused Israel of profiting from the sale of human organs — a modern-day incarnation of the antisemitic blood libel.

US insists it’s committed to reopening consulate after officials tell ToI otherwise
The US is still committed to reopening its consulate in Jerusalem, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday, after US and Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel otherwise.

During a press briefing, Price was asked to respond to a Sunday Times of Israel report revealing that the Biden administration has settled on a number of steps aimed at boosting ties with the Palestinians in lieu of reopening the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

Price did not deny the report, but insisted that the US is still “committed to [re]opening a consulate in Jerusalem” — a line Biden officials have reiterated dozens of times since Secretary of State Antony Blinken first made the announcement over a year ago. The Israeli government has pushed back against the move, arguing that it is an encroachment on its sovereignty, and Washington has subsequently held off on the step, not wanting to engage in a fight with its Israeli allies.

“We continue to believe [reopening the consulate] can be an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people. We’re continuing to discuss this with our Israeli and Palestinian partners and will continue to come up to consult with members of Congress as well,” Price said, refusing once again to offer a timeline for when Blinken’s pledge might be seen through.

“Meanwhile, at this very moment, we have a dedicated team of colleagues working in Jerusalem in our Palestinian Affairs [Unit] focused on engagement with an outreach to the Palestinian people,” he added, acknowledging that “there are some… unique sensitivities to [reopening] this particular facility.”

According to two US and Palestinian officials who spoke to The Times of Israel last week, US President Joe Biden will elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians. Amr will remain in Washington but will make regular trips to the region and work closely with the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU), which currently is a branch within the US Embassy to Israel and is housed in the old Jerusalem consulate building.
Gil Troy: Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Silence Openly Approves Violence Against Jews
In an America wracked by violence, apparently it is okay to call people out to “fight with stones … fight with guns … fight with planes, drones, and rockets,” as long as the targets are Jews, and you end your call for bloodshed with those magic, cleansing words: “Free, free Palestine.”

That certainly is the impression Representative Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan Democrat, left by her silence on May 15 at a Dearborn “Nakba Day” rally she attended.

During the rally, the publisher of the Arab American News — Osama Siblani, clad jarringly in a fashionable Boss shirt — was not subtle at all in blessing the bloody, horrific axe murders, knifings, and shootings in Israel that have killed nearly 20 in the last few months — including fellow Arabs, although I count all the victims of terrorism as innocent, be they Jews or Arabs, Ukrainians or Druze.

“Do you see what is happening in Palestine?” he said. “They are striking them with their knives and with their bare hands, and they are victorious.”

Lovely. Some victory.

What kind of victory is it when a Palestinian in B’nai Brak aims at a two-year-old, but the dad turns the attempted infanticide into a mere homicide by throwing his body between the murderer and his toddler?

What kind of victory is it when that same shooter kills a Christian-Arab police officer with a Jewish girlfriend, who was probably doing more to cross lines and build bridges in the Middle East than the entire US Congress?

And what kind of victory is it when two Palestinians, using the same Jewish driver they have used before to get to work, pull out axes in Elad and start smashing his skull and others’ — murdering the driver and two other dads, while leaving others with shattered skulls housing wounds that will torment them for the rest of their lives?

Pakistani-American defends Israel visit amid criticism back home
A Pakistani-American woman who came under fire in the Islamic nation for leading a delegation to Israel defended the trip Monday, saying she traveled to Jerusalem with a small group of Muslims and non-Muslims to promote interfaith harmony.

Anila Ali, a Pakistani-born US citizen living in Washington, DC, responded to growing criticism from Pakistanis, some of whom questioned who was actually behind the visit. She said the goal of the visit was to seek truth and to reconcile Muslims and Jews.

“(The president) of Israel received us warmly, and the people of Israel opened up their hearts and homes to us and they knew that we were Muslims and they knew that we were Pakistanis,” she said, adding that Israelis knew that members of her delegation included Sikhs and Christians, and they were still welcomed.

Pakistan is among the countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel because of the lingering issue of Palestinian statehood, and Pakistan says no delegation from Pakistan visited Israel.

Ali said she led a 15-member delegation made of Pakistani expatriates to Israel earlier this month. She told The Associated Press that neither Pakistan’s government nor the US was behind the trip.

The state-run Pakistan Television took to Twitter on Monday to say it fired news anchor Ahmed Qureshi, who visited Israel in a “personal capacity.” Qureshi was part of the delegation that visited Israel with Ali, it said.

The visit was confirmed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who said he received the Pakistani expatriates. He spoke about the visit at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, saying it “showed me the great change” taking place in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords.
'Acceptable' antisemitism now targets AIPAC
Just last week, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution that condemned the rise of antisemitism and called on elected officials and civil society leaders to combat any and all manifestations of it. Yet antisemitism has become more and more acceptable in many circles, including mainstream US politics itself.

The latest wave of "acceptable" antisemitism involves left-wing politicians and liberal media pundits who demonize AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for the heinous crime of participation in the American political process through its political action committee, the United Democracy Project. AIPAC supports candidates who are in favor of a strong US-Israel relationship and opposes candidates who are not. While the attacks on them have varied in form, the ultimate message is the same: everyone should feel free to lobby on issues they care about, unless they are Jewish and/or pro-Israel.

Some influential leaders, like "progressive" Senator Bernie Sanders, have gone full David Duke with their tropes about Jewish power. They spin stories about billionaire cabals that secretly pull strings to "buy elections and control this democracy." Sanders claims he is against all outside money involved in elections, but this appears to be the case only if the funds do not come from the Super PAC he founded or the one his acolyte founded, or any of the ones that support candidates he supports. Sanders has also called AIPAC and its supporters racist, sexist and anti-progressive – despite their clear history of support for candidates who are women, people of color and progressive, including in this very election cycle. None of these facts matter, because when it comes to groups that Sanders does not support, he doesn't care about accuracy in the least.

Other outlets have gone straight to the classic dual loyalty canard. They described AIPAC as an organization that works on behalf of a foreign country. To be clear: AIPAC is a registered American lobby with American supporters who advocate for American policies. It is funded by private donations, and receives no financial assistance from Israel or any other foreign party. There are many reasons why the vast majority of Americans in both political parties, not just American Jews, remain in favor of a strong US-Israel relationship. Perhaps first among them is the undeniable fact that supporting Israel in its struggle against Middle Eastern terrorist groups and expansionist potentates is crucial for America's own national security. To label anyone who works to protect the US-Israel relationship as the agent of a foreign state, and imply that they are disloyal citizens whose true allegiance is to the State of Israel over their own country, is just another form of classic antisemitism designed to cast Jews as the "other" or some kind of a fifth column that undermines the US from within.

Still other public figures, like former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, were not satisfied to just describe AIPAC in anti-Semitic language. Instead, she went so far as to claim that AIPAC causes people to hate Jews. How exactly is AIPAC, a victim of anti-Semitic rhetoric, responsible for the rise in global antisemitism? Williamson explained that it is because of their "disgusting attempts to defeat candidates not in line with their right-wing policies regarding Israel." For those like Williamson who might not know which policies AIPAC supports, the lobby is in favor of "peace through a negotiated two-state agreement."
Colorado Hedge Funder: Investing in Israel Is ‘Antidote’ to BDS
“American Jews are not paying attention to what is happening in Israel when it comes to the public markets. They’re growing, there are strong returns, and plenty of good opportunities to invest in Israel,” said Brian Friedman, co-founder and Portfolio Manager of Israel Investment Advisors. “If you care about combating BDS, then the best choice is to invest in Israel.”

Friedman’s passion for Israel started in 1984, when he took part in a student exchange program. The State of Israel, at the time, was experiencing a period of hyperinflation: where it printed more and more money, and the Israeli shekel was plummeting. This inspired Friedman to later study Israel’s economy in depth. Friedman noted the collapse of the Israeli financial system in the 1980s which was perpetrated by the three largest banks ‚ Hapoalim, Discount and Leumi, who tried to manipulate their share price to maintain capital ratios, and make their shares appear as an attractive investment by both buying stocks and issuing new shares, in an attempt to control stock adjustments.

“Once the banking system failed, so did everything. Back then, the banks controlled lending, deposits, securities, and asset management,” he explained. However, once Israel adopted the New Israeli Shekel and adopted a broader change in monetary policy, inflation dropped.

Slowly but surely, the economy began to shift away from socialism and toward capitalism. And the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union, began to privatize its businesses or list them on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. It was around that time that Friedman, working as a mutual funds analyst in Denver, Colorado began to note that Israel was an emerging market. “The selection of companies was still meager but looked very promising,” he said. “GHPIA was founded in 1999 as a wealth management firm for individuals and families, not to invest in Israeli stocks in any way at that time,” he explained, but following the financial crisis in 2008, and as more companies shifted from public to private, he began ardently investing in the Israeli market.

BBC Radio 4 news does PR for lawfare
Knell’s unqualified and unverified claim that an “armour-piercing bullet” killed Abu Akleh is taken from the statement put out the previous day by the Palestinian Authority prosecutor-general Akram al Khatib.

Knell made no effort to explain to listeners why a “news conference” was held in London or who the anonymous lawyers that she quoted represent.

That press conference was held on May 27th and the participants included people other than “lawyers”:
“Speakers at the event were from Bindmans LLP, Doughty Street Chambers, the International Federation of Journalists, Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, and Al Jazeera.”

Moreover, it was Al Jazeera that filmed the event:
“This footage was originally filmed and distributed by Al Jazeera English.”

Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers also issued press releases on the topic.

The press conference was chaired by Tayab Ali of Bindmans LLP whose previous clients have included Raed Salah, the family of a Hamas leader and the parents of an ISIS fighter. As Ali noted at the beginning of his remarks, he also represents an organisation set up in June 2021 called the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians which happens to be holding a conference on May 31st titled “Responding to Apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories”:
“This conference, hosted by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) brings together directors of five leading Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organisations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al Haq, B’Tselem and Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) who have recently declared that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid according to international law. This crime against humanity is occurring ‘in a post-apartheid world,’ as the UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk has recently reported.”

Speakers at that conference include two people who are on the ICJP’s advisory board: Sarah Leah Whitson (formerly of ‘Human Rights Watch’) and Wadah Khanfar (former director general of Al Jazeera). Other members of the ICJP’s advisory board include the founder of Bindmans LLP, Alan Duncan and Layla Moran MP. Its staff includes another MP – Crispin Blunt – who, in 2017, told BBC audiences that Al Jazeera “looks pretty impeccable”.

Guardian and Times make the same error over 2021 war
An article in The Times the next day, (“Violence flares as Israelis march through Muslim quarters of Jerusalem”, May 30), by Anchal Vohra, made a similar claim:
Last year the [Jerusalem Day] march led to an 11-day war between the Israeli Defence Forces and the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, as the latter fired rockets into Jerusalem.

However, the march did not “lead to” or “spark” the May 2021 war between Hamas and Israel.

Sirens in Israel warning of Gaza rocket fire sounded on May 9, the day in question, in the Jerusalem area moments after a 6 P.M. “ultimatum” issued by Hamas for Israel to remove police from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. As was reported widely at the time, Israel’s refusal to heed Hamas’s demands – and the terrorist group’s subsequent decision to launch rockets at Israeli civilians – was the immediate cause of the 11-day war.

The Jerusalem Day march in 2021, which had already been re-routed to keep clear of the Muslim Quarter, was cancelled by police a few minutes after it began when, shortly after 6 P.M., Hamas began firing rockets. Further, as the march ended shortly after its start, and, again, didn’t go through Muslim areas, contrary to McKernan’s claim, there was no “violence”. (The march was rescheduled and took place in June, after the war.)

After our complaint to The Times, they corrected the sentence, which now accurately states narrowly that the march “coincided with” the war:
Last year the march coincided with the outbreak of an 11-day war between the Israeli Defence Forces and the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, as the latter fired rockets into Jerusalem.

Returning to the Guardian: Oddly, in the final paragraph of McKernan’s piece, she writes that “violence at [Al Aqsa Mosque] led Hamas to fire a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, sparking last May’s war”, contradicting her earlier claim that the Jerusalem Day march was the cause.

McKernan’s piece also includes the following photo, which, the caption informs readers, depicts an Israeli attacking a Palestinian woman:

First, just looking at the still shot, it’s far less than clear that the Israeli man was “attacking” the Palestinian woman or who initiated the confrontation. Read this post by blogger Israellycool, who argues that the photo – as well as a short video of the incident – doesn’t provide nearly enough information to reach the Guardian’s conclusion that the Israeli instigated the violence.

We’ve complained to Guardian editors about McKernan’s false claim that “violence” at last year’s Jerusalem March ignited the war.
Austrian Parliament President: We have to own our history of antisemitism
Austria needs to emulate how Germany has learned from its history during the Holocaust and how it combats antisemitism, according to Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the National Council of Austria, the lower house of parliament.

“We have a lot to learn from the Germans when it comes to owning our history and taking action,” he said Monday in an interview on the sidelines of the Conference of European Rabbis convention in Munich.

“We always perceived ourselves as the victims of the Nazi regime until the election in 1986, when Kurt Waldheim was elected” president of Austria. “There was an act of changing of minds with the Austrian population: that we are not only the victims but actually also perpetrators.”

Sobotka, 66, is a member of the Austrian People’s Party. Before his political career, he was a teacher and musical conductor.

The situation in 2022 is different, but it still needs work, said Sobotka.

“Only years later do we now have a very clear view of our history, and we have our own national responsibility,” he said. “In the last couple of years, we have done a lot to improve our relations with the Jewish community – to do more for their security; to do more in combating antisemitism in total – even though our law against antisemitism is very strict and strong. But it is not enough. I think it’s really important for us to engage the civil society in combating antisemitism, because it’s a duty of the non-Jewish population.”

Austria has accepted 72,000 refugees from the Russian-Ukraine war, including 1,000 Jews who are being taken care of by the local Jewish community, Sobotka said.

“I think our [Jewish] community has done a lot for the refugees, and we’re very proud of that,” he said.
German court mulls bid to remove antisemitic ‘Jew pig’ church sculpture
A German federal court on Monday weighed a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of a 700-year-old antisemitic statue from a church where Martin Luther once preached, and said it will deliver its verdict in the long-running dispute next month.

The “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg is one of more than 20 such relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Placed on the church facade about four meters (13 feet) above ground level, the sculpture depicts people identifiable as Jews suckling the teats of a sow while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

The case went to the Federal Court of Justice after lower courts ruled in 2019 and 2020 against plaintiff Michael Duellmann. He had argued that the sculpture was “a defamation of and insult to the Jewish people” that has “a terrible effect up to this day,” and has suggested moving it the nearby Luther House museum.

In 1988, a memorial was set into the ground below, referring to the persecution of Jews and the 6 million people who died during the Holocaust. In addition, a sign gives information about the sculpture in German and English.

In 2020, an appeals court in Naumburg ruled that “in its current context” the sculpture is not of “slanderous character” and didn’t violate the plaintiff’s rights. It said that, with the addition of the memorial and information sign, the statue was now “part of an ensemble which speaks for another objective” on the part of the parish.

Presiding Judge Stephan Seiters said at Monday’s hearing that, viewed individually, the statue is “antisemitism chiseled into stone,” German news agency DPA reported.

Heinz cites Israel as inspiration for new 'Beanz Houmouz'
Heinz UK credits Israel with being an inspiration for its new line of bean-based “houmouz,” citing a tweet in which Israel’s official account recommended that a British biscuit company upgrade its biscuits with hummus.

The bean-based product comes in three flavors: original, chipotle chile and roasted butternut squash.

“We’ve taken your upgrade advice @Israel, and present to you our new Heinz Beanz Houmouz range. Ideal for dipping (or spreading!) Would you give these a go?” Heinz UK tweeted last Thursday.

The tweet was posted as a reply to a tweet in February 2021 by the State of Israel’s official Twitter account, which is run by the Foreign Ministry. The Israeli tweet was a response to a tweet by British biscuit company Weetabix that recommended putting beans on their wheat biscuits.
10 original souvenirs to bring home from Israel
Hurray! You can now finally get on a plane and visit our tiny corner of the Middle East. Sun, sea, amazing food and incredible scenery all await you in what promises to be the best post-Covid trip ever.

To make your visit as perfect as possible, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to figure out the greatest souvenirs that you could bring back with you, so that you can enjoy your trip to the max with no worrying niggles at the back of your mind.

And, just in case you aren’t traveling here just yet, we’ve also provided you with equally wonderful alternatives that are but a click away. Rest assured, there’s no Dead Sea mud in sight.

Move over, milk and honey. Wine is what Israel is all about these days. The local wine industry has achieved even higher heights in recent years, and aficionados will have a wonderful time touring vineyards or sipping a glass or two atop rooftop bars.

We recommend bringing home a couple of crisp whites to recreate that Israeli summer vibe wherever you are. Our personal favorites are Pelter’s Unwooded Chardonnay and Flam Blanc, which you can also get here.

Chances are, most indoor places you’ll enter in Israel have this palm-shaped amulet on display somewhere. Popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the hamsa often appears in wall displays, paintings, bracelets and even keyrings and is meant to protect against the evil eye. It usually comes in shades of blue and gold or silver, but modern multicolored ones also are available. You can pick up a hamsa in most markets or homeware shops, as well as online, as in the case of this pretty one from the Israel Museum.
New segment of Jerusalem’s 2,000-year-old Low-Level aqueduct revealed
Recent excavations in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood are resurrecting one of the ancient city’s main water suppliers — the 2,000-year-old Low-Level Aqueduct that brought water to the Temple Mount from Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem, 21 kilometers away.

Used until the British Mandate, when it was discarded for new electric pump technology, the newly uncovered segment of the Hasmonean-era water line — currently some 40 meters — will be conserved and integrated into a neighborhood park in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation.

“This is a real historical monument of the city,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yaakov Billig, an expert in ancient aqueducts, told The Times of Israel on Sunday, Jerusalem Day.

It was used and maintained (or not) by a succession of rulers, said Billig, including those from the three major monotheistic religions, through the end of the Ottoman Empire, when it began to increasingly crack and decay.

Since it was in use until relatively recently, modern researchers have long been aware of the location of the aqueduct and it appears in maps of Ottoman-era Jerusalem. In excavations led by the IAA’s Alexander Wiegmann, all the eroded dirt and fill has been removed from the new section, which will soon be readied for tourists to visit.

Billig said that the new excavations are not being conducting merely for the sake of nostalgia, however. Rather, researchers are still amazed and even somewhat mystified by the precision technology constructed in antiquity without the aid of GPS or modern computation methods.

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