Thursday, June 23, 2022

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: Promotion of Apartheid Rhetoric and BDS at the UNHRC 50th Session
The 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), held in June 2022, perpetuated the bias and hypocrisy that has come to define the UNHRC specifically and the United Nations in general. NGO Monitor was present, speaking before the Council and documenting the false accusations made by self-proclaimed human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Several statements made during the session by NGO officials, many of which receive large portions of their funding from European governments, promoted the apartheid canard and advocated for BDS.

Item 2: Commission of Inquiry
In May 2021, the UNHRC established a permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) tasked to “investigate” crimes allegedly committed by Israel since April 13, 2021. Fuelled by disinformation provided by NGOs, the COI is yet another UN body marred by secrecy and tainted by conflicts of interest, whose objective is to target Israel and disseminate false and antisemitic narratives about the conflict.

On June 14, the COI presented its first report to the UNHRC, perpetuating outright falsehoods and relying on information provided by terror-linked and anti-Israel NGOs.

During the debate, the Commissioners, who were appointed despite conflicts of interest and prejudicial backgrounds, made statements illustrating these biases. Navi Pillay, Chair of the COI, used her opening remarks to call for boycotting the State of Israel, claiming that the COI “will carefully assess the responsibilities of third states along with that of private and other actors in the continued violations and abuses of human rights law, and violations of international humanitarian law in Palestine and Israel. This includes, but is not limited to, the transfer of arms…” to Israel.

Commissioner Chris Sidoti attacked those who raised the concern of antisemitism, calling their statements an “outrage,” denigrating the IHRA definition internationally- recognized consensus definition of antisemitism, and accusing pro-Israel NGOs of being agents of the Israeli government: Even the definition of antisemitism promoted by the government of Israel and its GONGOs (government sponsored non-governmental organizations) acknowledges that criticism of Israel, similar to that leveled against any other country, cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Rather than engage with Jewish and Israeli groups who expressed concern of antisemitism to try and understand, Sidoti instead belittled them, stating that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding. That legitimizes antisemitism. Trivializes antisemitism. Defiles the memory of the 6 million victims of the Shoah.”

The third Commissioner, Miloon Kothari, drew false equivalencies between Russia/Ukraine and Israel. Kothari addressed the alleged “double standards,” affirming that “The question needs to be asked why in the case of Ukraine the international community is rightly appalled in the face of aggression and occupation and has correctly moved to act swiftly and forcefully to ensure compliance with international law, while in the case of Israel and Palestine there has been inaction for decades. Are these glaring double standards? The answer has to be yes.”


It’s Time to Stop the UN Human Rights Council’s Downward Spiral
In this backwards reality – where the world’s worst abusers of human rights hold the power at the UNHRC – it comes as no surprise when a monstrous amount of time, effort, and money is spent in an endless, coordinated effort to condemn a single country – the Jew in the room – rather than allow attention to be drawn to their own regimes’ crimes.

This strategy works quite well for the human rights abusers, with the UNHRC funneling significant resources into attacking Israel. Israel has had more resolutions condemning it than all other countries in the world combined, more Commissioners of Inquiry (COI) into its actions, and it is the only country with an entire regular debate on the Council’s agenda dedicated to it. Nowhere near this level of scrutiny is placed on countries actively committing genocide, such as China.

In its latest endeavour, the UNHRC has embarked on an unprecedented journey prompted by the 2021 Gaza war and led by China, Venezuela, and Russia (while it was still a member of the Council) to investigate Israel – and only Israel –for alleged crimes committed for the entirety of the conflict, its “root causes,” and in perpetuity. With such an outrageously broad mandate, which omits mention of any Palestinian terror groups, comes an outrageous budget, provided by the UNHRC’s donor states, including Canada, which contributed $4.5 million to the UNHRC in 2022.

The COI is led by actors who hold well-documented anti-Israel biases, a choice that contravenes the UN’s own guideline that Commissioners have a “proven record of independence and impartiality.” It is no surprise that, in its first report to the UNHRC published on June 7, the COI’s focus was disproportionately on Israel, mentioning it 157 times, while mentioning Hamas – despite its targeting of Israeli civilians with over 4,000 rockets – just three times. During the presentation of the report to the UNHRC, Chair of the Commission Navi Pillay further emphasized alleged crimes committed by Israel while minimizing the role of Palestinian terrorist organizations, with Syria intervening to accuse Israel of committing “war crimes” and Russia to note it would be a suitable partner to facilitate peace negotiations.

Something must be done to stop the UNHRC’s downward spiral. The answer is not incremental votes by the UN General Assembly to kick members off the Council, with the red line being outright invasion and war crimes. Democracies, including Canada and its allies, should use the leverage they have – diplomatic pressure, public statements, and, if necessary, withholding funds – to ensure that the UNHRC operates as it was intended: as a Council of the world’s human rights role models who act for the benefit of all populations. As the great rabbinic sage, Hillel the Elder, said, “if not now, when?”
UNRWA's Teachers of Hate: Hillel Neuer on i24 TV News
UN Watch's Hillel Neuer on i24 News.

Background: As the U.S. and other Western states gather today at the United Nations in the presence of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to pledge funding for the UN agency that runs schools and social services for Palestinians, a watchdog group urged them to stop funding hundreds of UNRWA teachers and other employees who call to murder Jews.

Over 120 UNRWA educators and staff have been found to promote violence and antisemitism on social media, according to the latest report in a series published by the non-governmental organization UN Watch, an independent human rights monitoring group based in Geneva.

Entitled “UNRWA’s Teachers of Hate,” today’s report uncovers 20 new cases of virulent UNRWA staff incitement which violate the agency’s rules and stated values of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism. June 23, 2022


Elliot Abrams: Human Rights NGOs: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"
But the very large size of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch raises several problems, starting with the threat to the “pluralism” that Thomas Melia mentioned and the “democratic gap” that van Boven said NGOs might fill. When two gigantic NGOs dominate the field, their voices can drown out those of many other, far smaller organizations. What’s more, NGOs and their leadership are not immune from harboring prejudices and political biases.

Both organizations have been deeply critical of Israel and have attracted accusations of bias against that country. In February 2022, Amnesty issued a report entitled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity.” The UK foreign ministry rejected the use of this terminology, and the German foreign ministry said "We reject expressions like apartheid or a one-sided focusing of criticism on Israel.” The spokesman for the U.S. State Department said "I reject the view that Israel's actions constitute apartheid….we must ensure there isn't a double standard being applied."

The attitude of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International toward Israel presents at least two problems. The first is simply the merits of the argument: are these two organizations biased against Israel, engaging in “one-sided focusing of criticism on Israel?” What other biases might they have, with respect to particular countries or on particular issues? Are they playing some matters down and playing others up in ways that would be controversial if fully understood outside the organization?

That the U.S., U.K., and German governments felt compelled to respond to the Amnesty report is a measure of Amnesty’s influence and of the attention that its reports receive—far more than is typical for the scores of NGOs active on Middle East or human rights/democracy issues. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty also have a considerable ability to affect press coverage and the views of other NGOs, setting the agenda for debate for the media and campuses as well as for foreign ministries.

Moreover, when two such NGOs dominate the field, questions may arise as to their own internal “democratic gap.” Such large and rich organizations report to no one, nor of course are they democratically run internally. Their top officials theoretically report to boards of trustees, but the boards are themselves self-perpetuating and independent from any oversight. The very independence of NGOs, one of their greatest strengths, can become an issue when two organizations so dominate the field.

The ancient question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? or "Who will guard the guards themselves?" arises here—and is difficult to answer. Others in the field of democracy promotion may be reluctant to criticize such powerful players—in part because anyone in the field may think he or she might one day seek employment as part of their large (and at the top very well-paid) staffs, and in part because they do not wish to tangle with organizations having such influence.

NGOs are critical participants in promoting democracy and human rights around the world. They play roles that cannot be filled by governments, and their many and varied voices provide perspectives and information that would otherwise be unavailable. The dominance of the two largest organizations is at the same time worth careful attention, especially given how controversial have been some of their activities. The independence of NGOs is invaluable, but the issues of oversight, governance, and bias at the two largest NGOs, which dominate the field globally, cannot be overlooked.


IDF: Operation Peace for the Galilee: The First Lebanon War
Operation Peace for the Galilee, also known as the First Lebanon War, was a conflict between Israel against Palestinian terrorists based in southern Lebanon, as well as Lebanese terrorists and the Syrian Army. Israel launched the operation on June 6, 1982 following a terrorist cell’s failed attempt to assassinate the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. The stated objective of the operation was to put the communities of northern Israel out of reach of the terrorists in southern Lebanon by pushing the latter 40 km to the north. The war lasted more than three months until Israeli forces reached Beirut.

The border with Lebanon used to be Israel’s quietest border until the end of the 1960s. That’s when Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Fatah and the Palestinian National Liberation Front (PNLF), began using Lebanon as a base to target northern Israeli communities and to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and Jews worldwide. The entrenchment of Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon deepened after the events of Black September in 1970, when they were expelled from Jordan. Following this, Lebanon became the epicenter of Palestinian terrorist activity. Brutal terrorist attacks, ongoing security incidents and artillery fire toward northern Israeli communities became more frequent.

These terrorist attacks in the early 1970s included the attacks on a schoolbus full of young children from Avivim (1970) killing 12 civilians, 9 of them children, the hijacking of Sabena Flight 571 (1972), the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich (1972), the terrorist attacks in Ma’alot, Naharia and Kiryat Shmona (1974), the terrorist attack at the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv (1975) and the hijacking of an Air France plane to Entebbe, Uganda (1976). In response, Israel increased its counterterrorism activities on its northern border and began operating inside Lebanon. Israel carried out a raid of terrorist hotspots in western Beirut, known as Operation Aviv Ne’urim (1973), and a number of other armed operations in southern Lebanon between 1970 and 1974.

In the middle of April 1975, following a violent clash between armed Christian Maronite militants and armed Palestinian terrorists, a civil war erupted in Lebanon. During the civil war, Syria routinely intervened in Lebanon, which they considered themselves to be a “patron” country of. Syria began to deploy forces in Lebanon in early 1976. Initially, these forces supported the Palestinians. However, Syria later switched its position and began operating against the Palestinians in an attempt to end the violence and to strengthen Syria’s position in Lebanon. In October 1976, the Syrian forces were formally recognized in Lebanon by the Arab League as inter-Arab deterrence forces. This was done to end the civil war in Lebanon and disarm the Palestinian militias.

The civil war also created a partnership of interest between the Christian-Maronite camp against the Palestinian terrorist organizations, and to a lesser amount, against Syrian involvement in Lebanon. Moreover, due to the national government’s weakness, and in the presence of the terrorist threat, Israel began aiding the population of southern Lebanon and supported a militia there, which was called “ Al-Qalyia” and later the “Hadad Militia” or the “Free Lebanon Army”. The militias defended Christians in southern Lebanon against Palestinian terrorist organizations which also served Israel’s security interests.

However, Palestinian terrorist activities against Israel continued. After the brutal Coastal Road Massacre (1978) in which 38 Israelis were murdered by members of Fatah, Israel began Operation ‘Litani’, which included a large-scale effort to eradicate the terrorist infrastructure along the border in southern Lebanon. The amount of forces used in the operation was the largest since the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and included about three infantry brigades, an armored brigade and two artillery brigades. After this effort, the Hadad Militia held control over roughly 5-10 kilometers of land in Southern Lebanon.
The Botched Hit That Sparked the First Lebanon War
The Dorchester Hotel, London—one of the world’s swankiest. Owned for decades by modern-day sultans and Middle Eastern magnates, the Dorchester has been a favorite hangout for countless cultural icons from Hitchcock to Streisand. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, held a legendary stag party there before marrying the future Queen Elizabeth II.

The Dorchester is about as far as it gets from the muddy forests of southern Lebanon, yet that’s where the First Lebanon War started. Kind of.

One night in June of 1982, dozens of diplomats gathered at the Dorchester for an annual gala event. Before midnight, Shlomo Argov—the eloquent, Jerusalem-born, Georgetown and LSE-educated Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom—left the hotel and headed toward his car.

Moments before, in the men’s bathroom of the nearby Hilton Hotel, a meeting had taken place that would change the history of the Middle East. There, Marwan al-Banna took out a brown bag he had retrieved from his car. He revealed a Polish W.Z.63 submachine gun accompanied by two magazines of ammunition and handed them to his comrade, Hussein Sa’id.

Sa’id left around 11:00 p.m. and waited nervously in front of a BMW showroom, popping out as Argov approached his Volvo, shooting him and fleeing the scene.

In The Master Terrorist: The True Story Behind Abu Nidal, journalist Yossi Melman, who covered the failed assassination and subsequent trials, includes a firsthand account of the events recalled by Colin Simpson, the bodyguard assigned to Argov that night:

“He bent down somewhat and was about to enter the car. When he was about to put his head inside, I heard a noise behind me. The ambassador fell to the pavement. I looked down at him and saw what appeared then as an extremely serious wound.”
Social Media Influencers Emily Schrader, Yoseph Haddad Discuss Israel Activism at WIZO Event
Social media influencers Emily Schrader and Yoseph Haddad discussed their pro-Israel activism at Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) California event on June 20.

Speaking at The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Schrader, who is originally from Palos Verdes, said she grew up “nominally pro-Israel” and didn’t understand that people hated Israel until she saw an “apartheid wall” while she was a student at USC. She proceeded to join a pro-Israel group on campus. “I was really seeing the extremism on the other side that was pushing me to be more involved and more vocal,” Schrader told Kimberly Brooks, the event moderator, adding that she’s been seeing a lot of criticism of Israel “crossing that line into antisemitism.” “We have to keep fighting that fight,” she said.

Schrader went to graduate school at Tel Aviv University and returned to Los Angeles only to realize that she wanted to go back to Israel, so she made Aliyah seven years ago and has lived in Tel Aviv ever since. She currently writes and is involved with various podcasts and video projects with Haddad, her fiancé. They co-host a podcast together called “Headlines with the Haddads.” Schrader also touted a recent video on her Instagram page highlighting corruption in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Haddad, an Israeli Arab, spoke about how he spent his childhood going back and forth between Haifa (where he was born) and Nazareth, where he was raised. When he would visit family in Haifa, he would play soccer with kids who were Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze and Muslims, which then turned into real friendships. “At that age you don’t really care about Jews or Arabs,” Haddad said. “You just want to play together.” The soccer friends would eventually visit each other’s families during the holidays to learn about their traditions and culture. “I realized that the vision to the Israeli society should be exactly like I had in my childhood,” he said.

Haddad volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Force despite the fact that Arabs are exempt from Israel’s mandatory military service because he wanted to protect his country and society; he felt even more validated with his decision after a Palestinian female suicide bomber attacked a Haifa restaurant in October 2003 that was co-owned by Arabs and Jews. The bombing killed 21 people, which included both Arabs and Jews. “Terrorism doesn’t discriminate,” Haddad said.
Federal court upholds Arkansas law that restricts Israel boycotts, ruling it does not violate First Amendment
A federal appeals court upheld an Arkansas state law requiring all public contractors to promise they won’t boycott Israel on Wednesday, overturning an earlier ruling that the contract violated the First Amendment.

The ruling by the the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit was a major victory for pro-Israel activists who have pushed around 30 states to adopt so-called “anti-BDS” laws — intended to strike back against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement targeting Israel — in recent years. The plaintiffs say they plan to appeal to the Supreme Court, a process which could result in a nationwide showdown over the constitutionality of all anti-boycott laws.

It was the first time a federal appeals court ruled in favor of laws forbidding public contractors from being involved in any Israel boycott movements.

Such laws have been heavily opposed by civil liberties groups and press freedom advocates, who say they violate free speech. Federal courts have previously ruled that similar anti-boycott state laws in Georgia, Arizona, Kansas and Texas are unconstitutional.

But the Eighth Circuit, minus one dissenting judge, found that an anti-boycott contract provision does not infringe on the signer’s free speech rights because it “does not require them to publicly endorse or disseminate a message.” Instead, the court said, the clause requests “compliance” with a financial regulation — which the court says is a form of “noncommunicative” speech not protected by the First Amendment. The Eighth Circuit is considered to have a conservative makeup.

Arkansas had introduced the law in 2017, and the public University of Arkansas was sued by Little Rock-based alt weekly the Arkansas Times in 2018. The paper had sued the university because its Pulaski Technical College affiliate, a regular advertiser with the paper, had refused to continue advertising unless the Arkansas Times signed the anti-boycott pledge, citing the state law.

“Though boycotting Israel could not have been further from our minds and though state funding is a significant source of our income, our answer was no. We don’t take political positions in return for advertising,” Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year explaining his paper’s decision. The paper was represented in court by an attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, and its case was featured in the recent documentary “Boycott,” which followed legal battles over state anti-BDS laws.
Anti-Semites Lose: Federal Court Upholds Arkansas Anti-BDS Law
An Arkansas law that bars state contractors from engaging in Israel boycotts was upheld Wednesday by a U.S. appeals court, dealing a major setback to supporters of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Arkansas's anti-BDS law—which bars state contractors from waging economic warfare on Israel—"does not violate the First Amendment," the court concluded, rejecting arguments from activists that banning state contractors from engaging in Israel boycotts violates their free speech rights.

BDS supporters across America have tried to frame the debate as a free speech issue. The Arkansas decision sets a precedent that these arguments are bunk because economic boycotts are not speech and provides legal standing to other states that have also passed anti-BDS measures into law. Israel's enemies will now have a much harder time fighting against this type of state legislation.

The Arkansas law, like many others across the nation, prohibits any entity that contracts with the state from engaging in Israel boycotts. The state was first sued over the law in 2017 by the Arkansas Times, which claimed the statute is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment by restricting protected speech.

"The district court dismissed the suit, holding that economic boycotts do not implicate the First Amendment because they are neither speech nor expressive conduct," according to the ruling. The appeals court affirmed the district court's finding.

Pro-Israel organizations and legal advocates who worked to ensure the anti-BDS law was upheld praised the court’s decision.

"Progressive groups have used bogus constitutional arguments as prerexts to protect the discriminatory treatment of primarily Jewish groups. Embarrassed to publicly defend BDS itself, they have claimed to oppose such laws out of legal scruple. Today that pretext has been removed, and Congress can move forward with confidence to pass federal anti-BDS legislation," said Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who has helped draft many state anti-BDS laws and participated in the 8th Circuit litigation.

"The court’s conclusion should put to bed any arguments put forth by bigots who won’t simply settle for demonizing and boycotting Israel but want the state to aid and abet that appalling endeavor," added Sandra Parker, an attorney and chair of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) action fund.
A Look at Who’s on Biden’s Parents Council
The Biden administration claims it formed the recently unveiled “parents council” to better reflect families’ views in public schools—but its members include Al Sharpton’s community organizing group; activists who lobby to teach “comprehensive sex education,” including gender identity theory, in school; and open borders groups.

Supporters of the National Parents and Families Engagement Council, announced by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on June 14, praised the board as “a channel for parents’ voices to be heard.” Yet one look at some of the council’s 14 acknowledged members shows it represents a small segment of elitist, left-wing views. Among the groups that the Department of Education cites as council members are:

National Action Network: Sharpton founded the National Action Network in early 1991—after his role in the Tawana Brawley hoax, but before that summer’s Crown Heights riots left rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum dead, and four years before even deadlier violence against Freddy’s Fashion Mart.

The organization formed an “LGBTQ Alliance” in 2015 “to create a new understanding of sexual and gender diversity and to promote” the hiring or participation of gay/transgender people “in all areas of religious and public life” (emphasis added).

But Sharpton’s group does not oppose every kind of discrimination: In 2018, the National Action Network lobbied against a Republican resolution condemning Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan’s decades of antisemitic statements. The same year, the National Action Network paid Sharpton more than $1 million.


Recent ‘Nakba’ Protest Showcases Raw Hatred and False Narratives
The hateful and often violent rhetoric prominent at anti-Israel rallies is something the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has tracked and documented for years.

While participants may claim they are advocating for Palestinian rights, most of the speeches and chants are rooted in rage against the Jewish people, the Jewish state, and the fact that it exists. Rejecting a two-state solution, or calling for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea,” are thinly-veiled expressions of wanting to see an existing country disappear.

In a video that can be viewed here, the Investigative Project on Terrorism delves into one recent protest, which shows the raw hatred directed at Israel, and exposes the false narratives spewed by the people who want to get rid of Israel and its Jews.

At a May 15 protest, Taher Herzallah shared a childhood memory.

“You know, we grew up with my mom raising her hands in prayer, asking for God’s wrath upon Israel for its crimes,” said Herzallah, who is the associate director of outreach and community organizing for the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).

“But let me tell you something. We will bring God’s wrath upon Israel. This generation is gonna make that happen.”

Herzallah’s audience cheered.
Jewish leaders slam pro-BDS new leader of World Council of Churches
Goldstein added that the WCC has a “long history of systemic bias against the Jewish state,” and called on Pillay to “use his new position to break with its disturbing history and usher in a new era.

“I further call on Rev Pillay to honestly engage with the issues affecting this conflict in the same spirit of open dialogue and tolerance with which we engaged with each other and our fellow members of the National Religious Leaders Council in South Africa. It is vital to repudiate the apartheid libel against Israel so that the cause of peace can be advanced,” Goldstein said.

Pillay responded to Goldstein and to a report in the South African Jewish Report. “The author has taken selective lines and mainly academic references to make the claim that I am anti-Jews. There is absolutely no merit or value to this preposterous and absurd claim.”

He added that “I sincerely value and cherish my Jewish friends and the Jewish community and faith.” He mentioned that he’s “worked with Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein for many years in the ecumenical movement” - particularly on the issues of moral and justice concerns in South Africa, “and I am sure that he will confirm that I have never ever spoken against the Jewish faith or community in any way.”

“I have no problem whatsoever in the Jewish community preserving their identity, religious beliefs, values and community,” he said in his response, “what I referred to in my article was on the issues of justice in the Israel/Palestine situation where, admittedly, we may have some differences of opinions. My article was a reflection on personal experiences undertaken with a group of Church Leaders from South Africa to the Holy Land to try and understand this conflict situation, it was examined from a justice perspective.”

“As an ecumenist,” Pillay explained, “I believe that all religions must be respected and people of all faiths and no faith must work together to create a world of justice and peace in which we express love, unity and reconciliation. This, evidently, is the stance of the World Council of Churches and it would never elect a leader who opposes Jews. However, the WCC will always promote justice and peace.
Palestinian teen stabber victim of 'Israeli apartheid,' justice system - Amnesty
#FreeAhmadManasra
Manasrah has been the subject of an online campaign calling for his release, operating under the banner #FreeAhmadManasra.

He was previously the subject of furor when a clip of the attack was released showing Manasrah after he had been struck by a car, bleeding, limbs bent, and writhing in pain.

The video became immensely popular, and in response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Manasra had been “executed in cold blood” by “Jewish settlers.”

Israeli officials accused Abbas of lying to incite more acts of terrorism. Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded Abbas “not turn murderers into heroes.”

Pro-Israel activists and commentators slammed Amnesty for promoting Manasrah as a victim.

"This is the same Ahmad Manasra who attacked a 13-year-old Israeli boy," said Aviva Klompas, former head of speechwriting at Israel's mission to the UN. "Seem [Amnesty] doesn’t see a need to defend Israeli children."

"In order to promote [Human Rights], Amnesty must condemn this use of children as soldiers," said Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) research director Becca Wertman-Traub.
BBC framing of the ‘World Vision’ trial story
In contrast, Knell devotes just 133 words to descriptions of the summary issued by the court and even that comes immediately after amplification of an inaccurate and misleading claim from Halabi’s lawyer:
“All the judge said was that the security forces cannot be wrong. That’s why he was convicted.”

Knell tells readers that:
“World Vision asked one of the largest international accountancy firms, Deloitte, and global lawyers DLA Piper to carry out an independent forensic audit of its Gaza operations.

Scrutiny of payments and 280,000 emails, as well as dozens of interviews, found no evidence of missing funds or criminal behaviour.

Neither did an Australian government review of funding for World Vision.”


Knell however refrains from clarifying that World Vision has refused to make the audit it commissioned public and she ignores the findings of an additional audit.

Other ‘World Vision’ claims promoted by Knell include:
“However, from the outset World Vision found serious holes in the Israeli case. Its entire Gaza budget over the previous decade had been $22.5m – which it said made the original allegation of the diversion of over twice that amount “hard to reconcile”.

Large tenders for Gaza contracts were also handled by the Jerusalem office and it did not import iron ore into the territory.”


Knell does not tell her readers that the claim about the Gaza office budget does not take into account the budgets of the organisation’s additional regional offices. Although Knell twice uses the term “iron ore”, the version of the court’s (Hebrew language) ruling which was released to the public – and journalists – mentions “iron originally destined for agriculture” and “iron fences” rather than “iron ore”.

Both the structure and content of Yolande Knell’s report provide clear indication of the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s chosen framing – and takeaway messaging – of this story about an NGO employee convicted of very serious crimes.
New Statesman erases IDF's investigation into Abu Akleh's killing
An article in The New Statesman by Alona Ferber (“Israel’s double standard on flag-waving is a risk to democracy”, May 26) included this about the killing of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh:
The 51-year-old was killed while covering an Israeli army raid in Jenin in the West Bank. The fallout is still ongoing, with the Israeli military announcing that it will not probe her killing,

That isn’t true. On the day she was killed, March 11, the IDF initiated a probe, and reached a preliminary conclusion two days later. The probe continued, and, just last week, the IDF announced an expansion of their investigation, which will now include “a senior officer with specialized technological abilities from the intelligence department.”

Further, it appears that Ferber knew that the military launched an investigation shortly after Abu Akleh’s death, as he retweeted the following tweet by journalist Barak Ravid on May 11


The rubble that could have been Jews
If you walk all the way to the eastern end of Manhattan’s 25th Street, you come upon a small plaque explaining why the site was given the name “Bristol Basin” in June 1942. What it does not explain is the fascinating connection between that story and the plight of Jewish refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

Throughout the Holocaust years, the Roosevelt administration insisted that it did not have any ships to bring Jewish refugees to the United States. “There just is not any transportation” available for refugees, Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long told a congressional committee in 1943.

In his autobiography, Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-New York) likewise recalled how he was told by an administration official that in order to rescue Jews, the U.S. would need to “divert shipping for the transportation of war materials and troops for the refugees.”

In reality, American troop-supply ships, known as Liberty ships, were returning to the United States empty after delivering their cargo to Europe. They had plenty of room to carry people on the return trip.

Moreover, the ships needed something heavy on board—known as ballast—to keep them from capsizing. Jewish refugees could have served that purpose. Instead, the ballast was found in the English city of Bristol—or, more precisely, in the city’s ruins.

Situated on the southwest coast of England, Bristol was heavily bombed by the Germans beginning in the summer of 1940. Some 85,000 homes and other buildings were destroyed. Liberty ships that off-loaded American men and weapons in the port of Bristol then loaded up on rubble from the bombed-out buildings in order to make the journey safely back across the Atlantic.

Not only did the rubble keep the Liberty ships afloat, but it served a second important purpose. When the ships reached New York City, they dumped the debris in the East River, between 23rd Street and 34th Street. There it served as part of the foundation for a highway which was then under construction, known as the East River Drive.
‘Disgusting’: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Nixes Visit to Contemporary Art Festival Over Antisemitic Display
Germany’s federal chancellor has pulled out of a visit to a major contemporary art show in the city of Kassel in protest at the presence of crudely antisemitic images in a mural that was on display earlier this week.

A spokesperson for Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed on Thursday that the German leader had canceled a planned visit to the Documenta festival, which is staged in Kassel every five years. This year’s edition opened last weekend amid a storm of controversy over the support of its curators — an Indonesian artists’ collective called Ruangrupa — for the movement targeting the State of Israel with a comprehensive cultural and economic boycott.

The spokesperson said that Scholz had found the offending images in the mural by Tarang Padi, a separate group of Indonesian artists, “disgusting.”

The mural, titled “People’s Justice,” was first unveiled in 2002 to highlight the abuses of the Suharto dictatorship that ruled Indonesia with an iron fist from 1967 until 1998. However, alongside depictions of the military figures and bureaucrats who served Suharto are two antisemitic caricatures.

One image shows a man with a hooked nose and fanged teeth wearing sidelocks and a black hat traditionally associated with Orthodox Jews embossed with letters “SS” — a reference to the Nazi paramilitary organization. A second image in the same mural showed a soldier wearing a helmet shaped in the head of a pig and emblazoned with the word “Mossad,” Israel’s intelligence agency.

The mural was covered over on Monday night before being removed entirely from the exhibition on Tuesday. The spokesperson for Scholz said that the chancellor “considers it completely correct and appropriate to remove this poster.”
Baltimore teen pleads guilty to murder of Israeli man last year
A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an Israeli man who was visiting Baltimore for a wedding last year.

Rasheed Morris, 17, is the second of three people charged in the May 2021 shooting death of Efraim Gordon, 31, to enter a guilty plea, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Omarion Anderson, 18, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder. William Clinton III, 19, was also charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and attempted carjacking offenses.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement that Morris will likely be sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended.

Gordon was shot multiple times during a robbery while walking to his aunt’s and uncle’s house in northeast Baltimore. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Gordon was in town to attend his cousin’s wedding.

Detectives found surveillance footage that showed a Lexus SUV following Gordon’s vehicle before pulling into the block where he was killed, according to charging documents. Police wrote that three people confronted Gordon shortly after midnight, with one pointing a handgun at him.
Rahat excavation reveals early 1200-year-old rural mosque and ancient luxurious estate
An ancient luxurious estate and a rare rural mosque were recently discovered in the Negev Bedouin city of Rahat, shedding light on the beginnings of Islam in the southern Levant.

Over 1200 years old, the mosque is among the earliest rural mosques in the world to be excavated, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a press release June 22.

The excavations, directed by Oren Shmueli, Dr. Elena Kogan-Zehavi and Dr. Noe David Michael on behalf of the IAA, revealed buildings with Christian and Early Islamic characteristics in close proximity to one another.

These findings provide remarkable details of the gradual transition from Christianity to Islam that took place in the area in the seventh to ninth centuries CE, said the IAA.

The excavation, undertaken prior to the construction of a new neighborhood in Rahat and underwritten by the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev, uncovered a Byzantine period farmhouse; the archaeologists believe it to have housed Christian farmers and included a fortified tower and rooms with strong walls surrounding a courtyard.

On a nearby hilltop, they found estates constructed in a completely different style, which were built about 100 years later, in the late seventh to ninth centuries (which constitutes the Early Islamic period), said the IAA.
Israel flies fire brigade, rescue experts to assist in Cyprus fires
An Israeli firefighting delegation, comprised of C-130J Hercules transport planes, took off for the island of Cyprus to help put out fires that are spreading in the north of the island on Thursday, according to the IDF's Spokesperson Unit.

The delegation was transported using Air Force planes that enabled the transfer of the equipment and forces of the Israeli firefighters and rescue crews to the location of the fires. As part of the delegation, fire and rescue experts will be integrated into local firefighting efforts.

"The IDF will continue to assist on behalf of the State of Israel in any event that may be required and will contribute its experience and capabilities," they said in a statement.
Ballpark food for Bubbe? Manischewitz promotes 'gefilte fish dogs'
Ballpark food will soon be Bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother)-friendly if Manischewitz has its way: The traditional Jewish comfort food company sparked a storm on Twitter after tweeting a photo of "gefilte dogs," gefilte fish in the shape of stadium-size hot dogs.

Gefilte fish is a food traditionally associated with Ashkenazi Jews, made out of ground-up, deboned fish which is then mixed with filler ingredients like eggs and vegetables before being stuffed into a skin or paper and boiled. The fish can usually be bought as either loaves to boil or ready-to-eat patties sitting in cans or jars of jellied broth. It is unclear how the new hot dogs are meant to be prepared — If the product indeed exists, and isn't a viral marketing stunt.

" You asked, we listened," tweeted Manischewitz on Wednesday. "The R&D team hasn't slept all week and now the factory will be cranking out these babies 24/6. Just in time for July 4th! An American tradition your Bubbie will love. #GefilteDogs #GefilteBeef"

The photo attached to the tweet shows a hot dog package with the words "gefilte fish-stadium size" and a description ensuring that the fishy franks are "made with real gefilte fish" and according to "bubbie's recipe." (h/t MtTB)
UAE, Israel join hands to back Dh540m healthcare project in Ghana
The UAE and Israel have entered into a historic collaboration to fund a healthcare project in Africa, it was announced on Tuesday.

Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE’s federal export credit company, and Israel Export Insurance Corp. Ltd. (Ashra) will fund a Dh540 million healthcare project in Ghana.

The ECI will provide buyer’s credit guarantees to the funding bank, which will see the construction of four hospitals and the first main central medical storage facility in Ghana.

The agreement brings together both countries’ export credit agencies, Ghana’s ministry of finance, a healthcare construction company, and a commercial bank. It also sets the stage for broader economic and trade partnerships following another historic milestone – the signing of the UAE-Israel Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Ghana’s health ministry awarded the contract to EDC International, a leading Israel engineering and construction company with a presence in the UAE. EDC will execute the project’s second phase with a total value of Dh406 million.

The ECI will provide Dh185 million in reinsurance coverage, accounting for 49 per cent of the total coverage offered for the second phase of the project.


Matti Friedman: The Lost Synagogue of Aleppo
One day in 2016 the end came, again, for the Great Synagogue of Aleppo. Fighting between the Assad government and rebels had ripped the ancient city apart and hundreds of thousands of people were already dead across Syria, so it doesn’t seem right to dwell on the loss of a building—but this was, perhaps, the greatest building in the Jewish world. Prayers began at the site, scholars believe, around the fifth century CE, maybe earlier, and continued until the 1990s, when the last Jews left the city. There were breaks only for events like the Mongol invasion that leveled much of Aleppo in the 13th century, for the occasional devastating earthquake, and for the Arab riots and arson that accompanied the United Nations vote on Israel’s creation in 1947. No other synagogue on earth embodied 15 continuous centuries of Jewish life and memory.

Since the community’s final departure, the building had been empty but intact, guarded by the regime, upkeep covered discreetly by members of the Aleppo Jewish diaspora. But photos after the 2016 fighting showed pulverized stonework, a courtyard full of rubble, twisted iron railings, and Hebrew engravings blasted off the walls. The Great Synagogue was gone.

And yet last week I walked past the high bimah, 20 steps off the ground, illuminated by Syrian sunlight pouring through the colonnades. I saw a leaky pump in the courtyard surrounded by gleaming puddles, and took in the paint peeling on the columns and the deep medieval windows. There was no damage. It was all so vivid I put out a hand to touch a wall, forgetting that it wasn’t real. I paused by the famous “sealed ark,” one of the synagogue’s seven repositories for Torah scrolls, which was sealed at a time and for a reason that no one remembers. The ark was home, according to local legend, to a magical snake that appeared on occasion to save the community from its enemies. I read the plaque honoring a donor named Eli Bar Natan, inscribed sometime before the ninth century. I peeked into the Cave of Elijah, a nook that housed the Aleppo Codex, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible, for 600 years.

It was while writing a book about the codex that I heard many hours of recollections of the Great Synagogue from elderly Aleppo Jews, and spent many more hours imagining the place. Many of the memories had nothing to do with ritual: One elderly woman remembered the eerie whispering sounds she heard in the building’s corners as a little girl, and one spot where you could stand to feel a strange breath of air. The synagogue had seen so many human generations, had heard the name of God pronounced and the story of creation repeated so many times that at some point it seemed to have come alive itself.






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