Monday, June 20, 2022

From Ian:

Gil Troy: A New Way to Look at Israel and the Arabs
It’s been an unsettling spring in Israel. A terrorist wave and riots in Jerusalem’s Old City have triggered searing memories of Yasir Arafat’s war against the Oslo Peace Process two decades ago. Most jarring was a March 29 B’nai Brak terrorist attack. Chilling videos showed a Palestinian murdering civilians, including one father whose body stopped the bullets whizzing toward his two-year-old son. But an Israeli-Arab police officer, Amir Khoury, and his partner stopped the terrorist, suggesting a more multicultural future than most non-Israelis imagine.

Khoury’s heroic death contradicts many caricatures of Israel and of Israeli history, just as the present realities in the larger Middle East undermine the narrative that continues to claim that the central stressor in the region is the showdown between Israel and the Palestinians. Diplomatic breakthroughs have Israel interacting with many Arab countries, no matter the heartbreaking outbursts of curated Palestinian violence.

The 75-year-old shorthand term used to describe the unresolved tensions in the region—“the Arab–Israeli conflict”—needs to be updated and made plural. In truth, there are several different conflicts. Some have been resolved; others persist. Most Israelis recognize this nuanced narrative, living as they currently do under a government propped up by an Islamist Arab party in the coalition for the first time. That understanding should now spread outward to the United States.

The heartening plotlines start internally with the Israeli-Arab community’s transformation from living under military rule until 1966 to becoming increasingly liberalized, mainstreamed, and middle class. The Covid crisis highlighted the fact that nearly one-fifth of Israel’s doctors and nurses are Arab, along with more than 40 percent of Israel’s pharmacists.

Outside its borders, we’ve seen Israel’s rise as a regional military power, its role as a high-tech and pharma superpower, and its centrality as a diplomatic power in the growing, mostly Sunni, anti-Iranian coalition comprising Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

The Abraham Accords are at the apex of this transformation. When Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu signed them at the White House on September 15, 2020, with the Emirati foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Bahraini foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, they opened new opportunities for Israeli Arabs as tourists, translators, and business partners. The Accords are integrating Israel economically into the Middle East, with billions of dollars in deal flow—nearly $2 billion in 2022 alone. While rooted in much goodwill, they are cemented not by misty hopes of a happier future but by a shared fear of Iranian ambition and frustration with American fecklessness.
Meir Y. Soloveichik: ‘Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land’
Strikingly, the bell recast by Whitechapel in 1976, boldly emblazoned by Britain with the words “let freedom ring,” lacked the Levitical verse, the extraordinary link between the American conception of liberty and the heritage of the Jewish people. It is therefore all the more striking that when July 4, 1976, actually dawned in America, something unexpected occurred in Jewish history that truly embodied the Liberty Bell.

On that July 4, Americans woke up expecting the headlines to be about the bicentennial of America, and discovered that after midnight, Israel had engaged in a miraculous mission to rescue over 100 hostages in Entebbe, Uganda. Speaking at the United Nations, Israeli ambassador Chaim Herzog argued that this had been a victory for the entire free world: “We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over 100 innocent people—men, women, and children—but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.” The Israelis had, on the American bicentennial, proclaimed liberty throughout the land and fulfilled, for the hostages, the very same biblical verse: “Each man shall return to his heritage, each man to his family.”

The Bell’s biblical story is worth rediscovering today. We are experiencing what COMMENTARY has called “the great unraveling,” in which many on the left assail the greatness of America, describing its story as a series of unmitigated sins. Meanwhile, even on some segments of the right today, we hear dismissal of the universality of the American idea, and of a foreign policy that seeks to support liberty around the world. The bell embodies a people who, ever imperfect, ever exceptional, were inspired by the Bible to advance the cause of liberty on its own soil and throughout the world.

In 2004, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the people of Normandy dedicated a near-exact replica of the bell and rung it over the cliffs of Normandy, with the original sound of the bell echoing over the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. We cannot fail to see in this a reminder of our obligation to preserve the true tone of the bell, the Hebraic grammar of American liberty, until more Americans are willing to hear it again.
Israel is the world's worst country - except for all the others
WHAT HAPPENED to the West was too much success. Success that took the what-ifs out of life, that eliminated the possibility of things not working out.

What generations of increasingly affluent Western parents have done to their children is shield them from life’s vicissitudes, making sure that they live in a world of safe spaces, free of microaggressions and of course, always getting a trophy.

A young adult here who knows that he or she is going to be required to serve the country, most likely in an army that still focuses on the likelihood of combat, is not raised nor is thinking that way.

The question is whether this existential uncertainty is a blessing or a curse. I would argue, given what I see here and abroad, that this anxiety, which has become part of the DNA of the Jewish people, has the effect of keeping us in the moment, of not taking things for granted and enabling a healthy appreciation of not only what we have, but also what might otherwise be.

The two prooftexts for my belief are the following: Israel regularly ranks as one of the happiest nations on earth, and that ranking does not even include the ultimate proof text of my conviction: we have by far the highest birth rate among western nations.

The birth rate says it all: we like it enough here to feel that bringing children into the world is a gift – to the people, to their families, and most of all to the newborns themselves. Yes, the new ones will have to be vigilant, but they will grow up in a place that they will be proud of, that will be proud of them, and that will see them as links in a covenantal chain of an amazing, and yes, an eternal People.

All of this points to a conclusion that yes, we have manifest problems, oodles of nuttiness and a conga line of issues. But at the end of the day, we also have something unique, yet replicable: a basic belief that life here is somehow precious and oh so worthwhile. And that sure isn’t so bad, let alone the worst.

Anti-Semitism should concern us all
What may not be immediately obvious is that contemporary anti-Semitism should be a grave concern not only to Jews, whom it most immediately and directly impacts, but to those outside the Jewish community as well.

While it denotes hatred of the Jewish people, anti-Semitism actually threatens all societies and is an indicator of wider problems. As the world’s “oldest hatred,” it exposes the failings in each society, and though Jews are often the first group to be scapegoated, unfortunately, they are not the last. History has shown us, time and again, that hateful discourse initially targeting Jews soon broadens to other members of society.

Moreover, anti-Semitism exists regardless of the size or presence of a Jewish community. As UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay has said, it doesn’t even “require the presence of a Jewish community to proliferate.” Rather, she said, “it exists in religious, social and political forms and guises, on all sides of the political spectrum.”

For instance, Jews are attacked for being “capitalist” as well as “communist;” for being rich as well as poor; for being insular as well as cosmopolitan. They are accused of controlling the world, sometimes through puppet figures, and of secretly running the media, governments and economies.

But as much as anti-Semitism puts “the Jews” at the center of all that is bad in the world, anti-Semitic discourse has little to do with Jews.

Shortly after the liberation of Paris from the Nazis, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that the anti-Semite is “a man who is afraid.” He’s afraid “not of the Jews, to be sure, but of himself, of his own consciousness, of his liberty, of his instincts, of his responsibilities, of solitariness, of change, of society and of the world — everything except the Jews,” Sartre stated. Adding, “If the Jew did not exist, the antisemite would invent him.”

Anti-Semitism also goes together with anti-democratic politics, especially in Europe and North America, as well as conspiracy myths, which offer oversimplified half-truths and erode the basic fabric of our societies.
The Scourge of Anti-Semitism Has Returned to America
For decades, we viewed the specter of anti-Semitism as a ghost of the past, a hatred from another time and another place. When anti-Semitism appeared in the U.S., it used to be on the margins, on the fringe. We had become comfortable here in America over the last three quarters of a century.

We took the reprieve that this acceptance granted us and used our energy in the pursuit of noble goals. We brought relief to areas struck by natural disaster, saved refugees fleeing war and persecution, and fought for the civil rights of all Americans. We accomplished these activities secure in the knowledge that the "American Experience" was a cure to the disease of anti-Semitism.

But that sense of security may have been a mirage. Too many names of too many communities have become ghastly markers of the threats that we face: Pittsburgh. Poway. Jersey City. Monsey. Colleyville.

In the past few years, Zionism has become falsely equated by its opponents with fascism, white supremacy, and racism. Ironically, all three of these specifically target Jews, and Jews have historically and currently been at the forefront of combatting them.
The Apartheid Slander Against Israel | A B'nai B'rith Special Report, Part 1 (A Conversation)
Renowned international law experts Eugene Kontorovich and Thane Rosenbaum join B'nai B'rith to respond to dangerous and false accusations that Israel is an “apartheid state." Both contribute significantly to part one of B'nai B'rith's groundbreaking report, "The Apartheid Slander Against Israel."

B'nai B'rith CEO Dan Mariaschin and Special Advisor on Latin American and U.N. Affairs Adriana Camisar host this conversation.

Mumford & Sons guitarist: Palestinians are the real losers in BDS war on Israel
Therein lies the truth about BDS. For it is BDS and not Big Thief who are the villains in this tale. They are not interested in healing. They are not interested in conflict-resolution. It’s clear enough on their website: “The BDS movement does not advocate for a particular solution to the conflict and does not call for either a ‘one state solution’ or a ‘two state solution’.”

More alarming still is their statement of intent. It cites “ending [Israel’s] occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands”, which is a coded denial of Israel’s right to exist.

If there was ever any doubt about the group’s priorities, in successfully dissuading Big Thief from performing a fundraiser for Palestinians, surely now we can all see them for the ruthless malevolent actors they are.

BDS organisers are so blinded by their political ambitions that they lose their sense of humanity. I’m familiar with how BDS works. Some years ago, a friend and musical collaborator, Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, was due to perform in Jerusalem. Baaba is a Muslim, I might add. Within days of his announcing the show, a BDS activist managed to call me on my (personal) phone, urging me to dissuade Baaba from doing the show. He told me that he would happily do it himself, if I preferred, I just had to put him in touch with Baaba. Suffice to say Baaba, unlike others, apparently still believes that music does have the power to heal. The shows went ahead.

Baaba is not the only musician to show pluck in the face of the BDS bullying. Australian singer Nick Cave, a lone, lambent light on so many issues, performed there in 2017. In so doing, he said he took “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians”, adding: “So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS made me play Israel.” But most suffer the same BDS intimidation tactics as Big Thief. It is a compelling (if formulaic) play in three parts. Act One: Artist announces show, often acknowledging Palestinian plight and usually offering support. Act Two: Social Media storms, BDS activists swarm. Act Three: show gets cancelled. Lana Del Rey in 2018. Lorde in 2017. Gorillaz in 2010...

But I won’t turn this into a listicle. BDS enjoyed a peculiar victory earlier this year, when Irish novelist Sally Rooney refused to have an Israeli publishing house print her latest book in Hebrew. BDS have a stranglehold that turns tight around the neck of the creative industries. Musicians For Palestine, launched in 2021, is an anti-Israel collective with over 600 members. A total of 1,524 signed the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, vowing to boycott Israel, also in 2021. Artists For Palestine UK, a group advocating the cultural boycott of the Jewish state, enjoys the support of Brian Eno, Roger Waters, Ken Loach and over 1,500 others. Spare a thought for budding bassist Oleartchik. It seems his bandmates in Big Thief have put him in rather an awkward position. By their new self-imposed standards, musical and philanthropic endeavours in Israel are seemingly unacceptable.
Winston Marshall, the former lead guitarist of Mumford & Sons, is a musician and writer.
Fury over German court’s ‘anti-Semitic’ pro-BDS ruling
The Stuttgart Administrative Court recently ruled that calls to single out the Jewish state for boycott, divestment and sanctions do not violate Germany’s laws against hate speech and are protected, sparking outrage from critics that the decision turns anti-Semitism into a socially and politically correct view.

“It is probably the first time in the history of the Federal Republic that a court has expressly declared ‘anti-Semitic views’ to be a legally protected area of ‘​​freedom of opinion,’” Henryk M. Broder, a leading expert on German Jew-hatred, wrote in his popular column for the “Die Welt” broadsheet.

Broder’s column was published in late May, under the title, “Yes, there is room for anti-Semitism in Germany.” It came in response to Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser’s claim that there is “no place for anti-Semitism” in Germany, after a mob of pro-Palestinians demonstrators stoked Jew-hatred in Berlin.

JNS is the first English-language news organization to report on the pro-BDS court decision.

Prominent German Jews are urging Stuttgart Mayor Frank Nopper to swiftly appeal the April court decision in favor of Palestine Committee Stuttgart.

Nathan Gelbart, a veteran attorney and an expert on anti-Semitism and the law, told JNS that appealing the ruling “would send a signal we are not boycotting peace-loving activists but rather radical anti-Semitic boycotters, and that morally, we are right. Let the courts decide on this. We are not giving in to anti-Semitism.”

However, he expressed skepticism regarding the chances for a successful appeal. The city of Stuttgart has not said if it will be appealing the pro-BDS court decision.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Twitter Cuts Out Middle Man, Automatically Tags All Pics Of Suffering As ‘Palestine’ (satire)
One of the world’s leading social media platforms has begun to roll out new efficiency features, including the time- and labor-saving measure of having any and all images posted by its account holders and depicting humans in pain, under oppression, murdered, or otherwise victimized, labeled as “Palestine,” since every such photo will end up with that label anyway, as online activists appropriate others’ suffering to bash Israel.

Twitter announced today the first in seven scheduled upgrades to its service that the company hopes will improve the user experience. The first such upgrade involves the automated “Palestine” tag for any photograph or video clip that shows any person mistreating another, or the misery that results from such mistreatment. The announcement explained that the vast majority of such content winds up with that caption or comment anyway, and that users now can save themselves the trouble of doing it themselves.

“Twitter continues to innovate and to ask what’s best for the the user,” the announcement read. “A significant portion of our user base devotes its efforts to highlight Palestinian suffering. They do so by taking all provocative pictures or clips of people – especially women or children – undergoing apparent abuse, with special attention to abusers wearing uniforms, and declaring that the content shows Israelis oppressing Palestinians, or Palestinians hurting or dead as a result of Israeli actions. Twitter aims to serve its users better, and has therefore launched a new feature to spare those users the effort to hashtag or caption that content with ‘Palestine’ on their own.”
The Washington Post, ‘Electrical Engineers,’ and Antisemites
The Washington Post can’t stop itself. The newspaper insists on relying on the same anti-Israel sources. A June 12, 2022 report, “Infighting in Israel imperils West Bank legal protections,” is the latest example.

The dispatch by reporter Shira Rubin and Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Hendrix is ostensibly about debates over laws in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), but, if implicitly, it paints Israel as an “apartheid” state. And it relies on a curious cast of characters to do so.

One, Issa Amro, is described as merely an “electrical engineer and political activist.” The Post’s story begins by following Amro, quoting him extensively. The Post fails to provide readers with details about his background, preferring instead to portray him as merely an everyday Palestinian who “along with Hebron’s other 200,000 Palestinian residents, is subject to military law imposed by the occupying Israeli forces.”

Amro, however, is far more than an “electrical engineer” who the Post just, by chance, happened upon. In fact, he’s a prominent anti-Israel activist. Indeed, there’s an enormous body of evidence documenting Amro’s antisemitic statements and beliefs.

As the late Petra Marquardt-Bigman pointed out, Amro “is on friendly terms” with “individuals known for their antisemitism and their open support for Hamas,” including Miko Peled, who compares Israelis to Nazis, and members of the Tamimi clan, who have assaulted IDF soldiers and trafficked in antisemitic blood libels. The Tamimis have claimed that Israel harvests the organs of Palestinians. And, as Marquardt-Bigman noted, both Amro and his group, Youth Against Settlements, have used social media to incite anti-Jewish violence.

In a since-deleted social media post on July 2014, he said, “Stop drinking our blood in Qatar, Israel occupation is killing our lives.” Amro has also accused Israel of a “genocide operation in Gaza.”
Lost in Translation One-Month of France24 Arabic’s Deeply Problematic Coverage
During the month of heightened Palestinian-Israeli tensions starting in mid-April, a period which included Jerusalem riots, attacks against Israeli civilians, the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and violence at her funeral, the Arabic-language subsidiary of French public broadcaster France24 churned out a wealth of content, much of it failing to meet basic journalistic standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Owned and operated by the French government via its France Media Monde company, France24’s Arabic platform produced dozens of flawed news items from April 15 to May 15, available on its website and YouTube channel. The most problematic material originated in Arabic, with reports translated into Arabic from France24’s English or French content demonstrating greater restraint.

Adopting Palestinian and Arab nationalist perspectives at odds with well established facts, France24’s Arabic-speaking reporters, hosts and commentators made extensive use of biased terminology and leveled unfounded assertions unseen in the station’s French and English content.

France24’s Arabic problematic record, and the disparity in its Arabic coverage versus French and English content, epitomizes a phenomenon articulated by Saudi diplomat Ambassador Dr. Saud Kateb, who observed in a January 2022 interview:
The problem, I have [repeatedly] said, is that many personas which the foreign channels attract, that the international channels [recruit] for their Arabic subsidiaries, they have agendas, I mean, they have plenty of psychological burdens. Consequently, they largely lack credibility and have specific agendas.

With a deeply partisan agenda weighing heavily on his credibility, Israeli affairs commentator and France24 Arabic regular Khaled Gharabli argued on France24 Arabic that there is no “conclusive scientific evidence” that there was ever a Jewish Temple on top of Temple Mount, despite plenty of historical and archaeological evidence of just that.

In a second news item on the Arabic network, broadcaster Dana Mansour reprised the common Palestinian libel that the 1969 arson attack on Temple Mount was perpetrated by an Israeli “settler” (in fact, culprit Michael Denis Rohan was a mentally unstable Australian Christian tourist.)
ISIS Flag in Jenin Induces AFP, AP Amnesia
It’s not the first time, by the way, that the flag of a terror organization plainly visible in an Associated Press photograph of a Palestinian scene did not warrant mention in the accompanying caption. Just last month, CAMERA’s Israel office prompted correction of an AP caption which ignored the appearance of Hamas’ flag at the top of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site and the third most sacred site in Islam.

CAMERA has reached out to both news organizations to request clarifications noting the presence of the IS flag at the Jenin funeral. As of this writing, neither news organization has corrected.

When it comes to news coverage of the Palestinian arena, the facile effacement of a flag which represents mass brutalization, enslavement, murder and terror across so many countries, targeting Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is astounding.

Clarity about the terror group which has inflicted deep suffering across broad swathes of humanity doesn’t hold a candle when it comes to the paramount cause of providing favorable coverage of Palestinians.
Selective BBC reporting on Israeli offshore gas
Two of Israel’s offshore fields – Tamar and Leviathan – are operational and Israel already exports gas to Egypt and Jordan. A third field – Karish – is expected to begin production later this year.

Interestingly, BBC audiences have to date heard nothing at all about the threats from Lebanon and Hizballah after a floating gas production rig arrived on site at the Karish field earlier this month.

“Lebanon warned Israel on Sunday against any “aggressive action” in disputed waters where both states hope to develop offshore energy, after a ship arrived off the coast to produce gas for Israel.

President Michel Aoun said any activity in the disputed area would amount to an act of aggression and a provocation, after the arrival of the natural gas storage and production ship operated by London-based Energean.

Israel says the field in question is within its exclusive economic zone, not in disputed waters.

But in a statement, the Lebanese presidency said Aoun discussed with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati the vessel’s entry “into the disputed maritime area with Israel, and asked the Army Command to provide him with accurate and official data to build upon the matter.””

That maritime borders dispute was last covered by the BBC in October 2020:
DC mayor battles challenge from councilor who claimed Rothschilds control weather
Bowser has had a tumultuous second term that saw her repeatedly face off against Donald Trump and walk a public tightrope between her own police department and a vocal coalition of activists led by Black Lives Matter. She is campaigning on the need for proven leadership and her history as one of the faces of Washington’s ongoing quest for statehood.

Her primary challengers are Robert White and Trayon White, who are not related to each other. Both accuse Bowser of mishandling public safety issues amid rising violent crime rates and favoring developers as spiraling costs of living drive Black families out of the city.

The Democratic primary essentially decides the mayoral race in deeply blue Washington, DC.

Robert White has a history of successful insurgent campaigns, having unseated an entrenched incumbent for an at-large Council seat in 2016.

Trayon White openly invokes the spirit of late DC Mayor Marion Barry, who remains a controversial but beloved figure among many Washingtonians.

White was criticized in 2018 for claiming the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking dynasty and frequent subject of antisemitic conspiracy, were controlling Washington’s weather conditions. He later said he didn’t realize his comment could be construed as antisemitic.

Italy scouts for Israeli water tech as drought concerns mount
A large delegation of Italian water utility companies recently wrapped up a visit to Israel to scout for collaborations and partnerships on water technologies, meeting with startups representatives, government authorities, and business entities as Italy battles the country’s worst drought in some 70 years.

The delegation of 22 Italian water utility companies and three engineering firms was hosted earlier this month by the Israel Export Institute, a government agency tasked with facilitating trade opportunities, partnerships, and strategic alliances under the purview of the Economy and Industry Ministry.

The parties met in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the Israel Water Innovation Technology Summit, and toured water desalination, purification, and conservation plants by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company which says it supplies about 1.7 billion cubic meters of water (or about 450 billion gallons) per year.

Mekorot also works with Israeli water tech startups to pilot innovative solutions.

Ami Levin, director of the Europe Department at the Economy and Industry Ministry noted that Israel has had water challenges “from day one,” in a region with little rain and an acute need to produce sustainable agriculture and feed its population.

Israel has needed to “think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions,” Levin told the audience at the summit earlier this month. “We are proud to have had so many [water] success stories in Israel.”

Levin said the percentage of water reuse in Israel was the highest in world. The country reclaims some 90 percent of its wastewater, primarily for agriculture.
New Budapest exhibition commemorates Jewish-Hungarian athletes
An exhibition featuring the life stories of athletes who were pioneers in forging relations between Hungary and Israel recently opened at the new Puskas Arena in Budapest.

The Game Changers exhibition tells the story of the connection between Hungarian Jewry and Israel utilizing Hungarian sports. Sports have always been used as a tool for social mobility due to athletes being judged only according to their performance.

The exhibit outside the stadium shows photos of former athletes and tells their stories. Each athlete’s picture is accompanied by a short biography in English, Hungarian and Hebrew.

According to a website promoting it, the exhibition “highlights the possibility given by Hungarian sports to touch fame, shatter myths and allow dreams to come true.”

“No area throughout history has allowed this equality and the possibility of conquering the world through the football [soccer] field, the swimming pool or the fencing halls,” said Adi Rubinstein, the exhibition’s curator. “This is the first time this connection has been seen through the eyes of those who have been there and changed Hungarian and Israeli sports as well.”

A soccer match between Hungary and Germany at the new stadium was a perfect setting for the historic exhibition, given that some of the athletes have starred in Hungarian soccer and in European soccer leagues, the organizers said on the website.

The events surrounding the exhibition will be attended by members of the government, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, representatives from the world of sports and the exhibition’s curator.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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