Tuesday, June 28, 2022

From Ian:

A Legend of Innocence
France’s wartime past continues to fascinate and divide the public. Eric Zemmour’s failed presidential campaign cast this reality into sharp relief, reviving a legend of national innocence in which France bore no guilt for the Holocaust and precipitating a fierce battle over the legacy of the Vichy regime. Zemmour, the son of Algerian Jews, cited outdated, erroneous historical accounts to claim that the regime and Marshal Philippe Pétain protected French Jews from deportation. He averred that the puppet regime had only collaborated with the Nazis. Zemmour, who has previously questioned the innocence of Captain Dreyfus, sees the historical facts and official commemoration of the Holocaust as an obstacle to his plan of national renewal. He wants to replace France’s guilt with pride, its introspection with self-assertion.

He is not alone. Holocaust education has become a bone of contention in some French schools, as Arab Muslim students refuse to sit through lessons on the topic. Postcolonial intellectuals, meanwhile, insist that excessive focus on the extermination of the Jews distracts from European imperialism, the latest incarnation of which is the Jewish state itself.

The facts, however, remain the same: 75,000 French Jews disappeared into the nacht und nebel of the camps. Historians have shown in excruciating detail how the Vichy regime launched a homegrown program of antisemitic persecution and cooperated in the implementation of the Final Solution. Most scholars maintain that the Holocaust, in the ferocity, intentionality, and scale of murder, stands as a singular crime.

France has done much since the ’60s and ’70s to reckon with its own history. The immediate postwar era saw the coalescence of dueling narratives on the nation’s conduct in the war, both of which served to exculpate French society at large. Resisters maintained that Pétain had usurped power and that the Vichy regime had no claim to representing France. A narrow coterie of villains welcomed defeat and packed off resisters and Jews on trains to the east. High-profile collaborators like Pétain and Deputy Pierre Laval told another story, which also absolved the nation. The Vichy regime had interposed itself between the German occupiers and French society as “a shield.” Collaboration limited the exactions of the occupation, including for Jews, whom officials had quietly saved while ostensibly cooperating with the enemy.

The ’60s and ’70s saw the emergence of cultural production and academic literature that disproved the nostrums of the postwar moment. Robert Paxton dispelled many comforting illusions with the publication of Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order and (with Michael Marrus) Vichy France and the Jews. Prominent collaborators like Rene Bousquet and Maurice Papon came to trial in the ’90s. The debate appeared settled when President Jacques Chirac acknowledged the French state’s role in the Holocaust in 1995. France could now construct a new memorial consensus on the basis of historical fact; the matter might even lose much of its salience as the older generation died out.

But Zemmour’s provocation and the banlieues’ backlash persist. The memorial consensus, itself of fairly recent vintage, no longer musters unanimous approval. It might even appear to some as the product of elite opinion. French Jews, stewards of Holocaust memory in an age of extremes, now find themselves in a delicate position.
Democrats cater to the woke at their electoral peril
Beyond politics, at a time democratic norms and values are under attack around the world and anti-Semitism is on the rise here at home, we cannot overlook the damaging effect of The Squad’s demonization of Israel and history of anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Democratic Squad members consistently single out Israel — the world’s only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East — and label it an “apartheid state,” which is a patently false claim used as a rallying cry by extremists who seek Israel’s destruction.

In that same vein, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have pushed anti-Semitic conspiracies — by suggesting that Jews use their money to buy American support for Israel — and have compared America and Israel to the Taliban.

Now more than ever, Democrats need to reject these false claims and make clear that they stand with democracies around the world, from Ukraine to Israel, and against anti-Semitism.

National Democrats can no longer cater to The Squad and its brand of fringe politics while overlooking the larger political forces at play.

If the Democratic Party’s establishment wing continues to associate itself with The Squad — whose members exist on the fringes of the political spectrum and prioritize political correctness and “wokeness” over the real issues that matter to most Americans — the party will suffer electorally in 2022, 2024 and beyond. (h/t Rodin New York)
Facebook is funding and working closely with pro-Palestine charity that is linked to alleged terror groups that revere convicted killers and had a 'Holocaust denier' as a guest speaker - along with Rep Rashida Tlaib
Meta, Facebook's parent company, provides funding and works closely with pro-Palestine charity 7amleh

The partnership is one of many launched by Meta with the aim of 'keeping harmful content off our platforms and helping to prevent risk offline'

The nonprofit is also a member of Twitter's Trust and Safety Council, and is a part of Twitter's 'Human and Digital Rights Protection group'

A new report claims that 7amleh has links to alleged terror organizations

Pro-Israel think tank the Zachor Legal Institute claims 7amleh has lionized convicted terrorists and had an alleged holocaust denier as a guest speaker

Michigan Democrat Representative Rashida Tlaib also spoke at 7amleh's annual online conference last month on Palestinian online activism

Zachor founder Marc Greendorfer told DailyMail.com that Facebook and Twitter failed in their due diligence by including 7amleh in their advisory groups

A spokesperson for 7amleh said the report was no different to the many 'smear campaigns from extremist, far-right and anti-Palestinian organizations'
‘Discrimination’ Petition Mark Ruffalo Blasted Out To Followers Was Crafted By Palestinian Group Linked To Terror Orgs
Mark Ruffalo, a movie star and left-wing activist, tweeted a petition out to his more than 8 million followers that was in part created by a group with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terror group, and other Israeli-designated terror groups.

7amleh, also known as The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, has voiced its support of PFLP and collaborated with other alleged terror-linked groups.

Nadim Nashif, 7amleh’s director and co-founder, tweeted an article in 2014 calling PFLP member Leila Khaled, who hijacked a plane in 1969 and attempted to do so in 1970, a “resistance icon.”

Online Map Presents Clear and Present Danger to Boston's Jews
BDS, which has praised the anonymous creators of the map repeatedly, has made no secret about its ultimate agenda: delegitimizing Israel. It advocates for measures that would, in effect, mean the end of the Jewish State, including allowing some 7.5 million Palestinians, most of whom have never lived in Israel, to "return" to it. Worryingly, increased anti-Israel activity leads to hate crimes against all Jews, regardless of where they live or how they feel about their peoples' ancestral homeland.

Many in Boston view this map for precisely what it is: an antisemitic hit list. These ugly insinuations echo toxic tropes contained within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Boston is known around the world as the cradle of liberty. It is a great city that has played a vital role in guaranteeing Americans' rights and freedoms — from free speech to religious practice — without fear of retribution. If this kind of hate takes root here, no place can offer refuge.

Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Elie Wiesel said, "Once I thought that anti-Semitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end." In Boston, where Wiesel enlightened generations of students at the university bearing the city's name, BDS embodies this hatred.

The "liberation map" is not the first attack on Jews, both pro- and anti-Israel, and it won't be the last. In fact, it has been published as antisemitic incidents are rising sharply in the United States, and Jewish communities have had to increase security in response.

But the answer to antisemitism must go beyond barring our doors and hiring more guards. The response to the publication of this map, and all antisemitic incidents, requires moral clarity and a commitment to snuff the flames of hatred with facts and understanding. Silence enables impunity and empowers hate and its peddlers.
While the Media Slept, a Palestinian Terrorist Group Endorsed the Antisemitic 'Mapping Project'
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group recently expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement's Boston Mapping Project. The controversial website is essentially a list of entities in Massachusetts -- many of which are Jewish -- that are supposedly responsible for the "colonization of Palestine."

In a June 24 statement, the PFLP said it "highly appreciates and salutes the organizers of the Mapping Project," calling it a "new and qualitative addition to the campaigns to confront the Zionist entity." This is the same PFLP that has been behind terror attacks around the world, as well as many targeting Israelis.

Despite the high-profile names from across the political spectrum who have condemned BDS Boston, US news outlets have remained virtually silent about the threat facing Jews in the Bay State, even as the Iran-backed PFLP has endorsed the Mapping Project's antisemitic directory.

Presbyterian Church Group Under Fire for Likening Israel to Nazi Germany
An organization representing Presbyterian churches across America is poised to pass an anti-Israel resolution that opponents say endangers the Jewish community and will contribute to anti-Semitic violence.

The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, an umbrella group representing churches across the country, is considering a resolution that accuses Israel of "apartheid" and likens the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians to Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. The resolution falsely accuses Israel of stealing Palestinian water supplies "for Jewish-only settlements" and "denying the right to freedom of residence to Palestinians." It also says Israel is "dividing the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the Palestinians."

The vote on this resolution—which both Christian and Jewish opponents say is anti-Semitic—is set to take place on Tuesday at the Presbyterian Church's general assembly gathering, which brings together Presbyterian leaders from across the country.

The Philos Action League, a Christian community group that works with Jewish allies to combat anti-Semitism and the spread of hatred within the Christian community, is urging Presbyterian Church group members to reject the measure, saying it will contribute to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the United States.

The anti-Israel resolution "fuels hate" against Jews and pro-Israel activists by falsely making "the only Jewish place for self-determination" out to be "evil and in likeness to Nazi Germany," according to a copy of a Philos Action League letter sent to the group's leadership and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The league delivered copies of the letter in-person to at least 11 Presbyterian churches and is running advertisements in Louisville—where the general assembly conference will be held this week—that call on church members to reject the anti-Israel measure.

The Presbyterian Church is no stranger to anti-Israel controversy. The organization has long backed the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and called on BDS supporters to isolate Israel for waging a so-called apartheid against the Palestinians. While the church's rhetoric has been condemned as anti-Semitic before, the Philos Action League and its backers say its latest campaign could fuel violence against Jews.
Goldsmiths undermines its own antisemitism probe announcement by adopting wrecking Jerusalem Declaration and International Definition of Antisemitism but without examples
Goldsmiths, University of London has announced an “independent review into antisemitism at the College” after Professor David Hirsh was reportedly called a “far right white supremacist” by its then-Students’ Union President.

Initially, the Students’ Union apparently refused to investigate Sara Bafo, its now-former President, following allegations of antisemitism, despite being requested to do so by the University.

Ms Bafo’s alleged tweet was said to have been written in response to a tweet from Prof. Hirsh, a prominent and highly-respected antisemitism expert, which said: “There is an antisemitic edge to official, institutional, university campaigns to ‘decolonise’ education.”

In response to the University’s request for the investigation, Ms Bafo tweeted that the University “has tried to get the SU trustee board to investigate me for a tweet I made in response to a Zionist Goldsmiths academic’s explicit racist history & his delegitimisation of ‘Decolonisation’ campaigns,” adding: “This was a dirty tactic from the institution to silence me further as I was leaving.”

However, despite the Student’s Union denying the investigation on grounds of “free speech”, the University has announced that an independent probe will take place.

Frances Corner, the Warden of Goldsmiths, said: “We are supporting Dr Hirsh after unwarranted messages about him were posted on social media which I believe are utterly without foundation. These kinds of behaviours are completely unacceptable and will always be challenged.

“As Warden I want to make it clear that this kind of conduct is not in line with the College’s values and that it brings harm to individuals as well as our good reputation as a place of learning.”

However, in a move that undermines the announcement of its review by disregarding the preferences of the majority of the Jewish community, including Prof. Hirsh, around whom Goldsmith’s own antisemitism probe is centred around, the University has said that it will adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism but “without the case studies.”
University of British Columbia (UBC) Student Government Releases Anti-Israel Rant; Gets Uncritical Coverage in Student Newspaper.
The academic year may have concluded on Canadian university campuses, but that hasn’t stopped one student newspaper from continuing to spread anti-Israel disinformation.

The Ubyssey, the student-run newspaper at the University of British Columbia (UBC) published on June 22 a news report by Anabella McElroy entitled “AMS releases statement condemning Israeli occupation of Palestine,” which covered a statement condemning Israel from the university’s student government, the Alma Mater Society (AMS).

Both the AMS statement, written in support of a March 23 meeting which adopted the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) agenda against Israel, regurgitated uncritically by The Ubyssey, was riddled with factual errors, misinformation, and glaring omissions related to Israel and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

For example, the Ubyssey quotes the AMS statement as reading: “The AMS denounces all systems of apartheid and oppression, and as such we condemn the Israeli State’s system of apartheid and its occupation of Palestine in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights.”

Though this line of argumentation is popular in anti-Israel circles, it is not supported by the facts.

Israel in no way occupies the Gaza Strip, having fully withdrawn both its civilians and military personnel nearly 17 years ago, during the summer of 2015. As for eastern Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria (referred to by the AMS as the West Bank), Israel possesses full legal rights to these lands under international law. Contrary to widespread popular misconception, Israel possesses these rights as a result of holding sovereign title to the land, and by virtue of the fact that these lands were not part of the prior occupier, Jordan, or a Palestinian state. Israel, it should be noted, annex east Jerusalem in 1980.

Following last year’s appeal loss at first stage of defamation case in relation to “Zionist irony” comments, Jeremy Corbyn to give evidence at High Court
Following last year’s appeal loss at the first stage of a defamation case brought by a Jewish activist and blogger, the former leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn is set to give evidence at a High Court trial.

On an unknown date in 2013, Mr Corbyn addressed a meeting convened by the Palestinian Return Centre. Referring to a previous speech given by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s representative in Britain, Mr Corbyn suggested that “the progressive Jewish element” in Britain at the time of the Balfour Declaration had been against it, and that these same Jewish progressives had been the leaders of the London trade unions and the Labour Party at the time. He continued: “It was Zionism that rose up and Zionism that drove them [Jewish progressive Trades Union and Labour Party leaders] into this sort of ludicrous position they have at the present time.”

He gave as an example of this supposedly “ludicrous position” the meeting in Parliament, at which, he said, the Palestinian envoy’s words had been “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he’d said. So clearly two problems. One is that they don’t want to study history and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. Manuel does understand English irony and uses it very, very effectively so I think they need two lessons which we can help them with.”

A video of Mr Corbyn’s comments was shown on The Andrew Marr Show in 2018, and on 13th June 2019 it was reported that one of the activists who had been identified as being the subject of his comments to Andrew Marr, Mr Richard Millett, was seeking libel damages from Mr Corbyn on the basis of his accusation that “Zionists” had “berated” Manuel Hassassian.

Mr Corbyn’s lawyers were said to have argued on the basis that the statement was a ‘statement of opinion’. However, in the ruling, the Judge declared: “In my judgment, it is clear that Mr Corbyn was making factual allegations in the statement as to Mr Millett’s behaviour on more than one occasion.”

At a High Court hearing yesterday, Mr Justice Nicklin considered pre-trial issues. William McCormick QC, who is heading up Mr Corbyn’s legal team, said that Mr Corbyn was mounting a “truth defence” against Mr Millett’s claims.

Mr Millet is being represented by Mark Lewis, who is also an honorary patron of Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Emory University Student: I Have Been Attacked and Defamed for Visiting Israel
My name is Samantha Strelzer, and I am the President of the Rollins Student Government Association at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University.

I recently went on a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel, and since that time, I have been the victim of a harassment and defamation campaign both online and offline. I know that this is sadly an all too common an occurrence, and that across the country, students who dare to express a pro-Israel point of view or visit the Holy Land are ostracized on campus. But I have decided to fight back, because spreading lies and hate to score political points is simply unacceptable.

My chief attacker is actually a fellow board member at Rollins, who did not even have the decency to engage me in conversation before she began to assault and demean my character in public.

First, she falsely accused the State of Israel of a number of crimes, including apartheid and genocide. Then, building off those false and inflammatory accusations, she went on to claim that I, an American Jewish student of Public Health on a week-long educational trip to the region, am actually a “direct contributor to this apartheid and killing of indigenous people.”

My fellow student accused me of “promoting war and genocide,” and of “support for colonial murderers”; she labeled me a “hypocrite and coward,” with “crumbling morals and a weak moral compass”; and she called for me to lose my position as an elected student leader.
Outgoing NUS President reportedly accuses Government of “jumping on the bandwagon” whilst discussing antisemitism allegations
Larissa Kennedy, the outgoing President of the National Union of Students (NUS), has accused the Government of “jumping on the bandwagon” whilst discussing the antisemitism allegations against the Union, according to the Jewish News.

The comment was alleged to have been made during a Zoom meeting attended by 100 union officers in which recent antisemitism allegations and the subsequent investigation into NUS, in addition to the Government’s decision to cut ties with the NUS, was discussed.

Ms Kennedy was reported to have said: “I think our movement is capable of saying this needs to be dealt with seriously and that the government is jumping on the bandwagon in a bad faith way when their record on antisemitism and racism is so horrendous.

“Jewish students have been able to raise their voices, have been able to tell us what they want from us and we have been able to act accordingly. That is, if anything, the most important thing here. A lot has been drawn out by people who don’t necessarily know the facts.”

Last month, the Government reportedly demanded an investigation into the election of the new President of the National Union of Students (NUS) over an alleged failure to commit to the International Definition of Antisemitism.

According to the JC, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to Civica Election Services, which ran the recent election that was won by the controversial activist Shaima Dallali, despite her history of antisemitic tweets and other inflammatory social media posts. Prior to the election, Ms Dallali apologised for one such tweet, but later told The Guardian that it is “absolutely not true” that “I don’t like Jewish people,” nevertheless, “as a black Muslim woman, it [the allegation] is something that I expected.”

The move came just after the Government announced that it is sanctioning NUS, removing it from all official groups and committees and refusing to engage with it, which came following calls for such measures by Campaign Against Antisemitism and others in the Jewish community. Last month, for example, Robert Halfon MP wrote together with Campaign Against Antisemitism to the Charity Commission calling for an investigation into the union’s charitable arm. The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read here. The Government has now also added its voice to calls for an investigation by the Charity Commission. Campaign Against Antisemitism also made representations to the Government on the matter, including at a campus antisemitism summit organised by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi. In addition to Campaign Against Antisemitism, UJS, CST and others have also called for action.

Superficial BBC article on ‘Iran-Israel shadow war’ invokes TV drama
As is all too often the case in BBC content concerning Iran, this article quotes the regime loyalist Mohammad Marandi.

“Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran and media adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team at the Vienna talks, said: “Murdering innocent civilians under Western political protection is nothing new for the Israeli regime, but the Israelis exaggerate their capabilities for political purposes by pretending that accidents and ordinary deaths are also their doing.””

Kianpour tells her readers that:
“The shadow war between Israel and Iran now seems to be coming out of the shadows – even getting the Hollywood treatment in Apple TV show Tehran, in which a Mossad agent infiltrates the highest echelons of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards security apparatus.” Apparently Kianpour is unaware of the fact that the Israeli public broadcaster Kan 11 (not “Hollywood”) drama series ‘Tehran’ was first aired in Israel two years ago in June 2020.

Despite the claim in its headline that “Kidnap alert heightens Iran-Israel shadow war fears”, this article fails to provide readers with any information about the actual recent events in Turkey which prompted such alerts. Neither does it explain who allegedly now has ‘heightened’ fears as a result or even what those “shadow war fears” supposedly are.

One can only hope that the “documentary later this year” on the same topic which Kianpour promises her Linkedin followers will be less superficial, less speculative and more fact-based than this written article.
Do Guardian editors fact-check their Jerusalem correspondent?
A Guardian article by their Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan (“Ukrainian spouses in Gaza suffer from double conflict“, June 27) focused on the problems faced by the “830 Ukrainian-born people living in Gaza”, some with relatives still in Ukraine, in the context of Russia’s war on the country.

McKernan’s piece included the following:
In general, Palestinian society supports Russia over Ukraine in the four-month-old conflict, viewing it as a proxy superpower struggle with the US, Israel’s most important ally.

Since she didn’t provide a source, we’ll briefly examine the issue of Palestinian support for Russia.

Though neither Hamas or the PA have taken an official position on the war, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh have, unlike Israeli leaders, refused to issue even mild criticisms of Russian aggression. Both also recently made overtures to Moscow seeking increased support from Vladimir Putin, who they see as an ally. There have also been a few pro-Moscow demonstrations in both the West Bank and Gaza, which is significant given that Hamas and the PA don’t hesitate to violently crack down on protests if they’re seen as undermining government interests.

However, the position of Hamas and the PA is not necessarily the same as Palestinian society. Indeed, research we found on attitudes of Palestinians about the war suggests that McKernan is likely wrong.
ADL Launches ‘COMBAT’ Strategy to Counter Rising Antisemitism in US, Internationally
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced the launch of a nationwide plan to combat antisemitism in the United States on Tuesday, asserting that with incidents targeting Jews having reached “unprecedented levels,” a comprehensive strategy is overdue.

The Jewish civil rights organizations’ COMBAT plan is based on six pillars to guide federal, state and local government in countering antisemitism on college campuses and in the wider community, as well as online and internationally.

“Antisemitism is a serious problem in the US,” Max Sevillia, ADL’s vice-president for government and community engagement, told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. The group’s annual audit of antisemitism in the US, published every year since 1979, recorded a total of 2,717 antisemitic incidents in 2021 — a 34 percent increase on the antisemitic outrages tabulated by the civil rights organization in 2020.

Sevillia, an attorney who came to the ADL after working for civil rights organizations in the Latino community, described the COMBAT plan “as the most comprehensive agenda for fighting antisemitism in the US.”

“It’s applicable at local, state and federal levels,” he said. “We address the places and situations where we see antisemitism as a serious problem. We’re looking at colleges and universities, online, at the role of extremism and the role of elected officials and influencers.”
In Germany, over 2,700 antisemitic incidents reported in 2021
A group tracking antisemitism in Germany said Tuesday it documented more than 2,700 incidents in the country last year, including 63 attacks and six cases of extreme violence.

In a report, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, said the coronavirus pandemic with its anti-Jewish conspiracy narratives and the Middle East conflict with antisemitic criticism of Israel were the main drivers of the 2,738 incidents it documented.

The incidents include both criminal and non-criminal incidents, the group said.

The German government’s commissioner to combat antisemitism, Felix Klein, called the number of incidents — more than seven per day — frightening, but also said that “at the same time, each of the reported incidents is also a step toward reducing the dark figures.”

Right-wing extremists were responsible for 17% of the incidents, but more than half of all the antisemitic incidents could not be assigned to a specific political view, the report said.

Among cases of “extreme violence,” RIAS included an attack on a Jewish participant in a vigil for Israel in Hamburg and a shooting at a Jewish community center in Berlin.
Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year prison sentence
A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Josef Schuetz was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labor, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.
Jews in France Facing ‘Unprecedented Political Threat,’ Warns Newly-Elected Community President Yonathan Arfi
The newly-elected head of the umbrella organization representing Jews in France has warned that the community faces an “unprecedented political threat” as a result of the success of political factions from the extremes of left and right in the country’s legislative elections earlier this month.

“We see two blocs which for us are a subject of concern: Both the 89 RN [far-right National Rally] deputies, but also the bloc of LFI [far-left ‘France Rising’] deputies, which for us represent an unprecedented political threat,” Yonathan Arfi, the new president of the umbrella Jewish organization Crif, said in a media interview on Sunday.

“We have never had to deal with extremist blocs which are at this level of political weight in the national assembly,” Arfi said.

Arfi was elected as Crif’s new president on Sunday, comfortably defeating his opponent, Ariel Amar, by 149 votes to 74. The 42-year-old Arfi, who hails from a Sephardic family and has spent his career in real estate and business consulting, officially takes up his post on July 26, replacing Francis Kalifat, who has headed the organization for the past eight years.

Speaking to the AFP news agency following his victory, Arfi said he was acutely aware “of the responsibilities weighing on the president of Crif in a particularly turbulent period politically.” The organization brings together some 70 Jewish associations in France, including the Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) and the Alliance Israelite Universelle educational organization.

Arfi observed that his main task will be to “lead the fight against antisemitism, by trying to make French society understand that basically, what threatens the Jews of France threatens the whole of society.”

Israel to be 1st in world to pipe desalinated water into a natural lake, the Galilee
Early next year, Israel is set to become the first country in the world to channel desalinated water into a natural lake — the Sea of Galilee.

One of the lowest-lying bodies of water on Earth, the Sea of Galilee is Israel’s largest freshwater lake and its emergency water store.

The national water company, Mekorot, plans to complete construction of a 13-kilometer (8-mile) underground pipe by the end of this year, to be followed by weeks of tests before it goes into operation around the end of the first quarter of 2023.

The pipe will connect the lake to infrastructure that in turn links into five desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast.

The water will enter the lake via the Zalmon stream, which drains into the Sea of Galilee near Kibbutz Ginosar on the northwestern shore.

Tests carried out by scientists indicate that the project will not have any significant deleterious effect on ecosystems, and will even help them by keeping water levels stable.

But, conceded Dr. Gideon Gal, head of the Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, which was tasked with carrying out several tests, “all the decisions are accompanied by a certain concern and a wish that we didn’t have to do this.”
Trailer Released for Hebrew-Language Film ‘America’ Ahead of Festival Premiere
A trailer was released on Sunday for the new Hebrew-language and Israeli-directed film “America,” which will make its world premiere at the 56th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival next month.

Directed and written by Ofir Raul Graizer (“The Cakemaker”), the drama is about an Israeli swimming coach named Eli, who lives in Chicago. After receiving a phone call that his estranged father has passed away, Eli returns to Tel Aviv for the first time in 10 years to deal with the estate.

During his stay in Israel, he visits a childhood friend who runs a small flower shop in Jaffa with his fiancée, a florist who has similarly lost touch with her family. Eli’s visit “will set in motion a series of events that will affect everyone’s lives,” according to Beta Cinema, which is handling world sales for the film. “America” is a story “set between a flower shop and an ancient monastery, between a swimming pool and the Mediterranean, between life and death — and somewhere in the middle.”

“For me, the core of the story is a strong and almost metaphysical friendship or companionship,” said Graizer. “But I believe and hope everyone who watches it will find something else, because it tells different stories. It’s about life changing abruptly, our dreams and aspiration suddenly adjusting to a new reality that forces us to deal with our past and re-think our place in the world. It’s a story about finding or rediscovering the term ‘home.’”

The film is produced by Laila Films alongside Schiwago Film and Mimesis Film, and stars Oshrat Ingedashet, Michael Moshonov (“Mary Magdalene”) and Ofri Biterman.

Stunning Roman mosaics return to Israeli museum
A series of exceptional 1,700-year-old Roman mosaics have returned home to Israel, where the collection went on public display for the first time Monday after more than a decade touring the world's top museums.

The mosaics were first discovered in the central city of Lod in 1996 but the Israel Antiquities Authority only fully unearthed the enormous, well-preserved artworks in 2009.

The collection stretches 17 meters by nine meters (56 feet by 30 feet). The mosaics feature a menagerie of animals, from fish and fowl to beasts that would have been exotic to ancient residents of Lod: an African elephant, rhinoceros and giraffe. Archaeologists believe the mosaics adorned an affluent villa in the 3rd or 4th centuries, after Lod was rebuilt as the Roman city of Diospolis. It is believed the mosaics once adorned a Roman-era villa (AP/Oded Balilty)

But for more than a decade, while Israeli authorities raised funds for a museum, the mosaics had no permanent home. They went on display at museums around the globe, including New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre Museum in Paris and The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Face valueAI identifies rocker Geddy Lee’s mother in Holocaust photos
Rockstar Geddy Lee found never-before-seen photos of his mother’s family thanks to a new effort to apply artificial intelligence facial recognition technology to photographs from the Holocaust.

Lee’s mother, Holocaust survivor Mary Weinrib, died last summer at 95 years old. But the researchers of the AI technology, From Numbers to Names, managed to find a photo of Weinrib from her time at the displaced persons camp in Bergen-Belsen — a photo that then led Lee to find other photos of his mother’s extended family from the Yad Vashem photo collection.

Aside from her love for cooking and baking for her family during the Jewish holidays, Weinrib was an early supporter of Lee’s band Rush. The documentary series From Cradle to Stage, created by Foo Fighters musician Dave Grohl, explores the influence of mothers on their rock star children. The final episode of the first season from last year focuses on Weinrib and Lee’s relationship.

Created by Daniel Patt, a Google engineer and the descendent of four Holocaust survivors, From Numbers to Names allows users to upload a photo and then suggests ten other photos with faces that could be a match. The technology is now being used by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s photograph collection. The museum collection, which already had more than 34,000 photos, will now include access to an additional 1 million photos to “improve the scope and quality of the tool,” according to the From Numbers to Names website.

Patt told The Times of Israel he was inspired to create an AI product while on a 2016 trip to the POLIN Museum on Polish Jewish history in Warsaw. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had potentially walked past a photo of a family member without even knowing it,” he said.

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