Wednesday, June 15, 2022

06/15 Links Pt2: Gazan aid worker convicted of embezzling millions for Hamas; We must stop sweeping woke antisemitism under the rug

From Ian:

We must stop sweeping woke antisemitism under the rug
How effectively is the Jewish establishment confronting intolerance?
In a recent editorial, Morton Klein and Elizabeth Berney of the Zionist Organization of America criticized the ADL’s latest report on radical violence, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2021,” arguing that it focused on white supremacism but downplayed threats from minority extremists.

Similarly, critics of the secular liberal establishment lament its tendency to understate progressive bigotry and excess. Indeed, politics seems to set the tone for those communal leaders who appear restrained when social justice warriors target Jews and their institutions, leftist professors malign Israel on college campuses, or progressives promote global conspiracy theories on their social media platforms.

This begs the question of whether cultural survival is possible when Jewish identity is conflated with partisan politics. Or whether invoking tradition in name while equating it with modern progressive values – many of which contravene traditional Judaism – will instead facilitate assimilation.

Those who believe political progressivism is synonymous with Jewish prophetic tradition are just as misinformed as evangelicals who claim Jews can only be “completed” by accepting Christianity. Neither view has any foundation in Jewish Scripture or tradition.
The more confounding question is whether activists who equate Jewish advocacy with jingoism or ethnocentricity can honestly claim concern for Jewish continuity. While many liberals pay lip service to heritage, they also support organizations hostile to traditional Jewish priorities. Can they be effective guardians against antisemitism if they ignore Jew-hatred from the left? Is it chauvinistic to rebuke antisemitism in minority communities?

Incredibly, some progressives claim Jews are part of the power structure and that, accordingly, anti-Jewish bias in minority communities is understandable or even justified. The insidiousness of such woke drivel, however, has finally alarmed some within the liberal mainstream and spurred protest resignations from radical synagogues where anti-Israel activists are validated.
Jonathan Tobin: Cancel culture isn't just for academics anymore
For a lot of people, the phrase "cancel culture" is still a theoretical concept. They know it refers to people being punished in various ways for saying things others don't want to hear, but they have little personal experience of it. Indeed, up until not all that long ago, the idea of being "canceled" was something that was largely limited to the rarified world of academia.

College campuses were the beachheads for those seeking to spread toxic ideologies about intersectionality and critical race theory. Inevitably, that meant that they were also the places where intolerance for differing opinions incubated from an outlier position into mainstream practice.

We have gotten used to seeing stories about colleges canceling appearances from guest speakers whose views on a variety of subjects might offend someone. The offended parties were almost always left-wing students, often egged on by leftist professors, who considered the enunciation of opinions they deemed beyond the pale unacceptable. We were told that hearing ideas that challenged these students' pre-existing opinions and prejudices would "trigger" them, causing them to feel "harm" or to be "endangered."

H.L. Mencken, the great skeptic and cynic of American journalism, once defined Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." The woke left has embraced its own brand of rigid orthodoxy in which they are haunted by the idea that someone, somewhere may be questioning their ideas about race, gender, government power, and above all, whether open debate about these issues should be tolerated.

But dust-ups about guest speakers at colleges have now morphed into ongoing controversies about whether institutions of higher learning ought to allow those guilty of wrong-think about affirmative action or the notion that America is an irredeemably racist nation to continue teaching. Social media, which was once believed to be the method by which free speech would proliferate even in repressive nations and cultures, became the vehicle for detecting and then enforcing violations of the new orthodoxies.

Gazan aid worker convicted of embezzling millions for Hamas
An Israeli court on Wednesday convicted Mohammad el-Halabi, a Gazan aid worker, of transferring millions in funds to the Hamas terror group, on all but one of the counts against him.

Israeli forces arrested Halabi, who worked at World Vision — a highly respected Christian humanitarian organization that operates around the world — in 2016 and charged him with transferring millions of the nonprofit’s funds to Hamas. Since then, he has been held under arrest.

The aid worker’s extended detention, combined with little publicly released evidence of his guilt, saw Israel’s justice system draw international condemnation

Halabi intends to appeal the ruling to Israel’s Supreme Court, according to his attorney. His sentencing has been set for July 10.

The 254-page ruling, like much of the evidence against Halabi, is classified. In a condensed version released to the press, the Beersheba District Court leaned heavily on Halabi’s confession to Shin Bet security agents, which he has since withdrawn.

“The defendant’s confession, given in various ways, is detailed, coherent, with signs of truthfulness,” Justice Natan Zlotchover wrote in the decision, adding that it was corroborated by additional confidential evidence.

Halabi and World Vision have both emphatically rejected the charges against him. The aid worker, who hails from Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, is a member of the Fatah group, Hamas’s enemy, according to his family.

According to the ruling, Israeli authorities determined Halabi had been recruited in 2004 by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. His handlers later sent him to World Vision in order to “gain influence at an international organization.”

FBI monitoring BDS mapping site that ties Jewish orgs to police, media
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is monitoring the BDS Mapping Project that charted Jewish and Zionist institutions in Boston and framed them as "structurally tied" to US media, police and government, a Bureau representative said at a Jewish community briefing on Monday, the Boston Herald reported.

The FBI is “very well aware and are tracking the Mapping Project website, and are working to identify additional information regarding this website,” FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at the meeting, according to the Herald. “At this time, we have not observed any direct threats of violence in open sources related to this map as of its publication.”

“At this time, we have not observed any direct threats of violence in open sources related to this map as of its publication.”
FBI Boston Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta

The community briefing was a collaborative meeting between the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Antidefamation League (ADL) New England, and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) — All of which were included in the BDS map.

"Under the guise of an interactive map, the innocuously named 'Mapping Project' is promoting a list of Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts that it contends are 'responsible for colonization of Palestine or other harms such as policing, US imperialism and displacement.'"

"Under the guise of an interactive map, the innocuously named 'Mapping Project' is promoting a list of Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts that it contends are 'responsible for colonization of Palestine or other harms such as policing, US imperialism and displacement,'" JCRC, ADL, and CJP said in a joint statement last Wednesday. "Virtually every Jewish organization in the Commonwealth, along with its leadership, is listed in this map along with the relationships of each to civic, governmental, university and other community organizations."

The NGOs asserted that the map blamed Jews for the perceived ill of the community, and blacklisted those associated with the Boston Jewish organizations.
Harvard Crimson College Newspaper Biased Against Israel, Says Conservative Group
Virtually all of college newspaper The Harvard Crimson’s coverage of Israel is negatively biased, according to an analysis by Campus Reform, a college news daily founded by the Leadership Institute to counter what it calls “liberal bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.”

On Tuesday, the outlet said it had assessed 44 articles published about Israel by the Harvard University newspaper between April 16, 2018 and May 11, 2022, finding that 92 percent of news articles and 58 percent of op-eds malign the Jewish state, with a further 47 percent endorsing the analogy between Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

Its report also noted that the Crimson Editorial Board recently endorsed the boycott, sanctions, divestment (BDS) movement, a decision that prompted 155 Harvard University faculty to issue a letter denouncing it for “creating spaces where Jewish and Zionist students are targeted and made to feel unwelcome.”

On Tuesday, university and nonprofit leaders told The Algemeiner that the anti-Israel bias betrayed by the Crimson is cause for concern.

“The issue with anti-Israel and antisemitic bias on college campuses is very real and very troubling,” former Harvard University president and US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said. “I wish that university leaders were quicker to condemn problematic episodes of antisemitism in the same way they condemn other racist speech and acts.”

“Students themselves enforce hostility towards Israel,” said Alex Joffe, who monitors BDS for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), an NGO. Joffe cited as an example an incident at the University of Chicago in which the editors of the Maroon deleted a pro-Israel essay and republished it with a disclaimer and rebuttal.
Yeshiva University now obligated to host LGBTQ+ club on campus
The New York County Supreme Court ruled that New York’s Yeshiva University is required to grant recognition to its LGBTQ club, the YU Pride Alliance.

Court ruling
Judge Lynn Kotler ruled on Tuesday that YU, as a non-religious organization, is subject to the New York City Human Rights Law and directed it to “immediately grant plaintiff YU Pride Alliance the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University.” In the decision, the judge determined that “Yeshiva University is not a ‘religious corporation,’” and therefore cannot ban a certain group because of the Jewish faith.

YU must "immediately grant plaintiff YU Pride Alliance the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University."
Judge Lynn Kotler

In addition, she ordered that defendants, Yeshiva University and President Ari Berman, be “permanently restrained from continuing their refusal to officially recognize the YU Pride Alliance as a student organization because of the members’ sexual orientation or gender and/or YU Pride Alliance’s status, mission, and/or activities on behalf of LGBTQ students.”

Yeshiva University's argument
In 2020, YU wrote a paper titled Fostering an Inclusive Community on the issue of LGBTQ people in its institution. “Yeshiva University is wholly committed to and guided by Halacha [Jewish law] and Torah values,” the paper began. “These direct our every effort in establishing a caring campus community that is supportive of all its members.”

In the document, YU said that a team of administrators, psychologists and rabbis spent four months meeting with individual students and alumni, in order to learn more about these issues and how the students experience them.
Pro-Palestinian Activists Threaten to Disrupt Justin Bieber’s South Africa Concerts If He Doesn’t Cancel Israel Shows
The pro-Palestinian group “Africa4Palestine” announced on June 14 that some of their members will disrupt Justin Bieber’s upcoming South Africa shows if he doesn’t cancel his upcoming Israel concerts.

In the June 14 announcement, Africa4Palestine said: “Africa4Palestine activists have purchased a large number of tickets and promised to disrupt his upcoming ‘Justice World Tour’ concerts taking place in Cape Town on 28 September 2022 at the DHL Stadium and in Johannesburg on 1 October 2022 at the FNB Stadium. Bieber is being called on by #Africa4Palestine, Canadian organizations (from his birth country), Palestinian civil society, as well as progressive Jewish Israelis to respect the boycott of Apartheid Israel and cancel his 13 October 2022 concert in Tel Aviv.” Africa4Palestine also tweeted that it was an “insult” that Bieber is calling is tour the “Justice” tour when he’s “going to Israel.”

StandWithUs Co-Founder and CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal, “Anti-Israel extremists pressure every major artist in this hateful way, as part of a larger boycott campaign that only fuels division and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Musicians who care about justice and peace should reject calls to cancel shows in Israel and use their music to bring people together.”

CBC Reverses Policy; Allows Journalists Who Signed Anti-Israel Open Letter to Cover Israel-Related News Stories
This was a correct, if only, a modest step by the CBC to take. Clearly, members of the journalism profession who sign their names to an advocacy petition which made brazen and false claims against Israel, should not be allowed to cover Israel-related news stories as their integrity has been compromised and as they lack political neutrality.

Alarmingly, CBC recently disclosed to HonestReporting Canada that it has reversed its decision.

In April 2022, HonestReporting Canada sent a letter to CBC News regarding a problematic article appearing on CBC News’ website entitled “‘An act of erasure’: LCBO called out for sticker covering the word ‘Palestine’ on wine bottle,” which was written by Sara Jabakhanji, a signatory to the 2021 letter, in what we regard as a clear contravention of CBC’s rule.

Ms. Jabakhanji’s article was marred as it omitted mentioning how “Palestine” is not a country and that the Palestinians don’t have statehood, nor were any pro-Israel sources cited about the “West Bank” labelling issue. The CBC story itself was not newsworthy, nor was it time-sensitive. It also featured this quote which denied 3,000 years of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel: “It really reflects a deep settler-colonial insecurity when even mentioning Palestine is deemed a threat.”

In response to HonestReporting Canada’s complaint, George Achi, CBC’s Director of Journalistic Standards, acknowledged that the restriction had been reversed and defended the change, writing in an email to HRC that:
“…CBC News ensured, for a certain time, editorial distance between reporters who had signed the letter and coverage related to the specific stance taken in that letter. This doesn’t mean that we banned anyone from covering the Middle East eternally. As you know, our reporters are experienced professionals whose work is heavily vetted by a team of equally conscientious producers. A story is not one person’s work: our system ensures that the same standards are applied across the board and that errors, while rare, are corrected promptly.”

This is a very worrying reversal. As Thompson rightly pointed out in his 2021 email, journalists who signed the one-sided letter against Israel created “the perception of a conflict of interest.” This fact is as true today as it was in the Spring of 2021, during the height of the Hamas-Israel conflict. A journalist who added their name to such a letter was publicly standing behind an advocacy campaign and its letter which was riddled with falsehoods against Israel. When these journalists report on news stories related to Israel, their ability to provide coverage without bias is impossible.
Guardian podcast 34 min. of Palestinian advocacy presented as journalism
A Guardian podcast on the issue involving over 1,000 Palestinians living within the 8,150 acres in what’s known as Masafer Yatta, in the South Hebron hills, within Israeli controlled Area C of the West Bank, is another example of their promotion of the Palestinian cause under the guise of journalism.

The area in question – eight hamlets, mostly collections of low-slung homes with makeshift roofs – has received a lot of media attention since Israel’s Supreme Court last month ended a twenty year legal fight between residents and the state. The court ruled (Hebrew), in a 9-0 decision, that the Palestinian petitioners hadn’t proved that they lived in the villages as permanent residents before the army declared the area an army training zone (known as Firing Zone 918) in the early 1980s, and that they only occasionally entered the area during seasonal migration. So, legally, they have no rights to the land.

The Guardian audio report, (“Life in the firing zone: the occupation of Masafer Yatta”, June 13), by their Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan and Nosheen Iqbal, host of the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, a follow-up on McKernan’s article on the topic that we responded to here, maligned Israel for most of the thirty-four minute show.

At two minutes in, listeners are told by Iqbal, as if it was an undisputed fact, that the Palestinian residents have been living there (in Masafer Yatta) for “generations”, contradicting the Supreme Court’s ruling.

At three minutes in, Iqbal mentions the court ruling’s response to accusations that evictions of Palestinians would violate the Geneva Convention, saying, “In an unprecedented move, the court ruled the Geneva Convention, which stops the forced transfer of people under occupation did not apply and that Israel law trumped international law”.

However, the court ruled that “the point of the 4th Geneva Convention was to prevent the expulsion of populations in an occupied area for the purpose of their elimination or forced labour or for political/state aims – which is not the case here”. Indeed, the Palestinians in question are not being “transferred” from the West Bank in any sense of the word, but narrowly face eviction from specific residences within the territory.
BBC News again avoids Hizballah violations of UNSC resolution 1701
The body charged with monitoring UNSC resolution 1701 is of course UNIFIL. WINEP’s 2020 study documents numerous cases in which UNIFIL has been denied entry to ‘Green Without Borders’ facilities by ‘locals’:
“Even after Hezbollah publicly took credit for using GWB sites as launchpads for rocket attacks against Israel, in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions […], UNIFIL patrols were still denied access to GWB facilities. As recently as December 2019, three people in civilian clothes stopped an Observer Group Lebanon patrol on a road bordering the GWB site in Ramiyah and stated that the patrol required an LAF escort.”

Nothing has changed since then: on June 12th UNIFIL again put out a statement concerning threats to members of the peacekeeping force.
“The United Nation’s mission in Lebanon called Sunday for the country’s military to guarantee the security of its peacekeepers, alleging personnel were “threatened” by armed men the day before. […]

A routine UNIFIL patrol was confronted on Saturday by “a group of men in civilian clothes” near the Arab al-Louaize district in southern Lebanon, force spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said in a statement.

The men “threatened the soldiers and tried to take their weapons,” he said.”

Unsurprisingly, neither of those stories has been given any coverage by the BBC. As has been noted here on numerous occasions in the past, despite having a bureau in Beirut, the BBC not only routinely ignores the topic of Hizballah’s continuous violations of UN SC resolution 1701, but has even whitewashed them.

The BBC News website’s ‘Lebanon’ page shows that since the beginning of the year just eleven items with that tag have been published, three of which concerned national elections.

Israeli TV Show ‘The Lesson’ Selected to Compete in Berlin TV Festival
The Israeli television drama “The Lesson” was announced on Monday as part of the official lineup for the TV Series Festival Berlin which will take place June 22-26.

The international festival is dedicated to TV pilots and gives out a litany of awards every year, chosen by an international jury comprised of writers, producers, actors, actresses, and directors.

“The Lesson,” which in Israel is called “Sh׳at Efes,” is a six-part series broadcast on Israel’s Kan 11 TV. It co-stars Doron Ben-David (“Fauda”) as Amir Halevi, a high school teacher who gets in a political debate with a 17-year-old student in his class. The argument transforms into an emotional and political conflict about racism and justice outside of the classroom all because of a social media post.

The show made its international premiere and won two prizes at the Canneseries Longform Competition in April: “Best Series” and “Best Performance” for actress Maya Landsman, who plays high school student Lian. It is written by Deakla Keydar and directed by Eitan Zur, and also stars Alma Zack, Irit Kaplan, Dvir Benedek, Lev Levin, and Amir Banai.
Israeli-based Company Seeks Approval to Ease US Shortage of Baby Formula
An Israeli-based company hopes to fill the void as the baby-formula shortage in the United States continues with parents continuing to find store shelves bare, particularly for those seeking specialty formulas.

Three weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency guidance enabling the import of infant formulas produced abroad. Tel Aviv-based MyOr—an Israeli health-tech company—is among companies seeking FDA approval as its Mexican subsidiary, AlphaCare, produces and markets MyOr formulas from a plant in north-central Mexico.

“We have 200,000 cans of formula ready to be shipped right now, with a capacity to produce another 250,000 a month,” said MyOr co-founder and chief technology officer Michael Brandwein. Once it receives FDA approval, he said, the company will be able to ship formula to homes and distributors in a matter of days, as many back-end arrangements have already been made.

Among the formula products AlphaCare makes are specialty ones in very short supply.
Israel expected to become most crowded Western country by 2050
The Jewish State is on the way to becoming the world’s most crowded Western country in less than three decades, veteran environmental activist and current MK Alon Tal told the Special Committee on Addictions, Drugs and the Challenges Facing Young Israelis at the Knesset on Monday.

The committee dealt with the impact of the loss of open spaces on the well-being of the younger generation in 2050. Tal (Blue and White) presented statistics from a research report prepared by an environmental group called Zafuf [Crowded] — The Forum for Population, Environment and Society, that indicated that by 2050, the country’s population could grow to more than 17.5 million residents.

“The State of Israel will become the most crowded Western country, with over 800 people per square kilometer,” Tal said. “We are familiar with the reality, and know that protecting open spaces isn’t enough. I want to know what the Israel Planning Administration and the Construction and Housing Ministry of are doing to translate their statements into reality. The open spaces are disappearing at a dizzying rate of 24 square kilometers per year, and the pace will increase along with the growth in population.”

Tal warned that Israel is expected to lose open spaces on a scale that is eight times the size of the city of Tel Aviv by 2050. He called upon all professional agencies to advance a strategic plan for protection of open spaces immediately.
Biden slated to meet Maccabiah athletes during Israel visit
A month before the 21st Maccabiah Games open, an announcement went out Tuesday that US President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to arrive in Israel on July 13, plans to visit with some of the competing athletes.

Biden is due to arrive a day after the Maccabiah opening ceremony at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.

The Maccabiah Games put out a statement saying that if Biden chose to visit the event, organizers would give him the warmest possible welcome.

The Maccabiah Games, also known as the "Jewish Olympics," are the largest sporting event in Israel. Once every four years, Israeli and Jewish athletes from all over the world visit Israel to compete in their events. This year's games, slated to take place over a two-week period, are expected to draw some 10,000 athletes from 60 countries, competing in dozens of sports.
After being excluded, wounded IDF vets to compete at Invictus Games for first time
Israel will send a delegation of military veterans to take part in the United Kingdom’s Invictus Games next year in Dusseldorf for the first time, the organization announced Tuesday.

The games, which were first held in 2014 and founded by Prince Harry, are an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick members or veterans of the military. Despite requests to join, Israel for years has not been invited to participate in the competition until now.

“Israel has a long-standing respect for the power of sport in recovery, and I’m pleased they are joining our wider community this year,” Dominic Reid, CEO of the Invictus Games Foundation, said in a statement.

Israel was rumored to be set to join the Invictus Games in 2020, sparking a flurry of opposition from pro-Palestinian activists. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, those games were canceled, rendering the matter moot. Seventeen countries participated the last time the games were held in 2017.

“We were very happy to be invited to participate in the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023. Being a part of the Invictus Community will provide more opportunities for recovery among veterans who were wounded or became ill whilst serving. In Israel, we have learned a great deal about the importance of physical activity as a positive catalyst for recovery and rehabilitation,” said Limor Luria, head of the Defense Ministry’s rehabilitation department.

105 years after death, Israeli group begins search for Australian soldier
A group of 30 Israelis set out on a journey in southern Israel on Saturday to find the burial place of an Australian soldier who was killed in battle 105 years earlier as the British Empire tried to gain control of the Middle East from the Ottoman Empire. The story was first reported by the online news portal Walla on Wednesday.

Louden Park Cochrane, a native of Ireland, was 24 at the time of his death. He was buried by fellow soldiers and a priest, who even took a photograph next to his grave, and even wrote down directions, although they have proved to be difficul to decipher.

Shortly after Cochrane's death, his mother sent a letter to the Australian military asking for information on her son's burial place, but efforts to locate it were unsuccessful.

Ninety-nine years after the grieving mother made her request, a group of Israeli citizens began to search for the location

Ninety-nine years after the grieving mother made the request, a group of Israeli citizens took up the search again after a relative of Cochrane contacted the Ruhama kibbutz in northern Israel to help find his father's brother's grave.
Gil Troy: It takes a Zionist village to heal, sometimes
I ALSO feel enveloped by the love of the Jewish people as I walk the halls of Shaare Zedek and Hadassah-University Medical Center, in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, where my wrist was first set. The donor plaques create a patchwork quilt of bigheartedness.

Entering Hadassah’s Marlene Post Patients’ Admissions Office, I was thrilled to see my friend honored – this angel who, over the decades, “kidnapped” the most disfigured IDF veterans to get them treatment, led Hadassah with great vision, mentored us respectfully as brash, young Young Judaeans, and, most recently, helped launch Birthright.

Finally, from those three angel-like strangers who became friends for life, to the Herculean efforts of everyone around me to help, advise, coach, and reassure, I realize that injuries strike instantly; healing takes months, but such generosity of spirit is forever.

Recounting my experiences to a Birthright Foundation leader – as I apologized for canceling my trip this week – I said, “Of course, such kindnesses occur every day worldwide.”

While agreeing, he read my mind, adding: “But when it happens in Israel, it feels different because it’s family – and that’s why you and Natan Sharansky called your book Never Alone. He was never alone in the Gulag, and you are never alone in Jerusalem.”

So, yes, I’d happily rerun that disaster-jog safely – and never run this gauntlet of medical headaches – but I’ll keep running through my lists of blessings and heroes, appreciating how it’s taken a Zionist village to heal me.

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