Wednesday, July 20, 2022

From Ian:

Book Review | Israel’s Moment: International Support and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945-194
Herf’s book forensically demolishes the myth that the West set out to create Israel to promote its interests. Rather, he demonstrates how fragile support for the Jewish state was within the West. That support was mobilised not by imperialist interests but by leftist forces who remained influenced by the anti-Nazi struggle. Israel owes its existence to a combination of social democrats and liberals in the West and the communist Soviet Union.

Israel was established on the cusp of the Cold War. Both the United States and the USSR supported the United Nations partition plan, which was the last time the superpowers would agree on a key strategic issue for decades. At the same time the Jewish struggle for self-determination against British Imperialism was supported diplomatically and militarily by the USSR and its satellites, a pattern that followed all subsequent anti-colonial revolts. It was simultaneously the last act of the war-time alliance and the first act of the Cold War. This is what Jeffrey Herf calls Israel’s Moment.

Herf’s compelling new book tells the story of this process mainly from the viewpoint of the United States but with critical material on France. He has mined government archives and the debates in the contemporary media. He demonstrates quite conclusively that the creation of Israel was not the result of an Imperialist plot. It was in fact created in the teeth of opposition from the United States diplomatic and security establishment, the US oil companies, the French Foreign Ministry and the British Labour government. Support for the Jewish state came mainly from progressive circles in the West and communist bloc.

Israel’s Moment explores a historical period that has become entangled in ideological revisionism. The United States, despite supporting the partition resolution, imposed an arms embargo much to the disadvantage of the Jews and then Israel (292-332). It also began to row back on partition suggesting a United Nations Trusteeship (281-283) and during the first Arab-Israel war thought Israel was unreasonable in not giving up the Negev to Transjordan (408-413). Today, of course, this is airbrushed from the record. The USSR on the other hand which had been the most consistent supporter of the creation of the Jewish state throughout this critical period soon began to erase this history as it embarked on the anti-Zionist campaign against Jewish communists in Eastern Europe and moved to ally with the Arab cause after the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. This dual turn by the superpowers has fed some on the left to believe that the United States was Israeli’s architect and the Soviet Union had always championed the Palestinians. Herf systematically produces evidence to show how the United States was at most a faltering ally of Israel and frequently tried to undermine it. The Soviet Union, on the other hand the most consistent and decisive supporter of the Jewish state in 1947 and 1948.
Israel is a nation of Middle Easterners
In 1881, some 15 years before Theodor Herzl wrote The Jewish State, the seminal work of modern Zionism, Jewish families in Yemen made the 3,000-kilometer journey from the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to the Ottoman Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem. For once, the plight of Jews driven from Arab countries, and Israel’s Middle Eastern character, are central to this National Review mainstream piece by Andrew Doran.

Jew-hatred continues to be profitable for jihadis, corrupt dictators, human-rights groups, and professors. It hasn’t, however, been profitable for the people of the Middle East. (In the West Bank, I met a businessman who had to lay off Palestinian workers when BDS blocked his exports to Europe.) The Arab streets are filled with people sick of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of opportunity. Many Arabs come to see that trade opportunities with Israel will benefit the Middle East. As commerce with Israel becomes more common, Arabs will come into contact with many Israelis whose families were driven out of the Arab world decades ago. It is a community about which many Arabs know nothing, because the history hasn’t been told.

Few Jews remain in the Arab Middle East, and few countries have followed the king of Bahrain, who years ago implored expat Bahraini Jews to return. The heart of the Jewish Middle East today is in Israel. Some, like Ran’s family, returned in the spirit of Zionism before Zionism was an established movement. That longing to see Jerusalem kept the faithful awake at the ends of the earth for millennia. Three times daily they faced Jerusalem, prayed, and longed to return; no ritual was free of remembrance of Jerusalem. As one friend put it, “Zionism before Zionism is Judaism.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with the characterization that Israel is an essentially Middle Eastern nation, including friend and former State Department policy-planning director Peter Berkowitz. “Israel has become a strange mix,” he told me on this trip. “An outpost of the West in the Middle East, an extension of the Middle East into the West. I sometimes think of Tel Aviv as a Mediterranean beach town with the Middle East beginning about nine miles to the east.” Indeed, the distance between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem seems greater than its geography suggests — two worlds that exist in fraternal competition, the Hellenic and the Maccabean, the Sephardi Zionist on the Mediterranean, the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazim of the Jerusalem Hills. The tensions would seem irreconcilable but for the constant process of reconciliation and renewal.

Few could have imagined what Israel has become. Herzl was one of the few. One might say that he foresaw even the spirit of the Abraham Accords when he wrote, “The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”

The problems of the Middle East don’t come, as many argue, from the existence of Israel. On the contrary, the people of this tiny nation, on the Mediterranean but very much of the Middle East, quietly longs for peace with its neighbors. In the years to come, the states of the region will have the choice not merely of life or death but of peace or failure.
David Collier: Palestinian lies – built upon Jewish blood
The fake narrative
These posts go viral for several reasons. The first, as with the coin, manhole, licence and soccer team – is to suggest that ‘Palestine’ existed, happy and glorious – before the Jews stole it.

The second is that Israel is planning to build a settlement called ‘Atarot’ on the site:
Devoid of any real national story, there are two periods the Palestinians rely on for their fake ‘history’. The first is the Palestine Mandate, a land the British only called ‘Palestine’ because for them it was the romantically notional name given to the Christian ‘Holy Land’. The other is the Jordanian occupation between 1949-1967.

The airport covers both these periods. The false narrative being sold here is that the Israelis invaded, captured, and stole the airport from the Palestinians. And now they want to build on it – thus erasing the glorious Palestinian history from the map.

As you will see – rarely has a package contained so much bunkum.

What really happened
In 1912 land was purchased by ‘Hachsharat Hayeshuv’ – the *Zionist* ‘Palestine Land Development Company‘. This was before the British even arrived. The intention was to set up a farming village outside Jerusalem.

The Jews abandoned the first attempt to settle the land during WW1, probably in fear either of Ottoman oppression or military conscription. The Ottomans viewed Jews as ‘enemy’ (as an example Jewish communities in Tel Aviv were expelled at this time).

They returned in 1919 and in 1923 the JNF purchased a further 384 dunams to expand the Moshav. It was named ‘Atarot‘ after a biblical settlement that was believed to have existed in the area.

The British wanted to build a small airstrip near their seat of power in Jerusalem – and they began to expropriate the Moshav’s lands.

In 1926 and 1931 the British uprooted trees, destroyed crops, tore down buildings and restricted any further growth of the Moshav.

The fields and trees they destroyed were part of the livelihood of the Jewish village.

‘No way back for Corbyn’ as Labour finally publishes damning report into antisemitism
Jeremy Corbyn was fundamentally wrong to suggest that antisemitism in Labour was “overstated for political reasons” with no evidence that it was “fabricated”, a long-awaited inquiry has found.

The Forde report, commissioned by Sir Keir Starmer and led by Martin Ford QC, stated unequivocally: “There is nothing in the Leaked Report (or elsewhere in the evidence we have seen) to support the conclusion that the problem of antisemitism in the party was overstated.”

This directly contradicted the former leader’s assertion that the scale of antisemitism in the Labour Party during his leadership was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media, a position which cost him the party whip.

The inquiry further found “no evidence that claims of antisemitism were fabricated by complainants or improperly pursued by the complaints team”.

Strikingly, the Forde Report also supported the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) findings that Mr Corbyn did interfere with the disciplinary process in "a limited number" of antisemitism cases, notably in relation to his own allies, which was “to be deplored”.

But the inquiry also drew widespread condemnation after it criticised Labour members who opposed Mr Corbyn and his supporters, arguing that the controversial hard-left group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) should have been allowed to deliver antisemitism training.

Joe Glasman, Head of Political and Government Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), said: “Taking even-handedness to an absurd extreme, the Forde Report tries to criticise and defend both ‘sides’ in Labour’s antisemitism scandal equally.

“One ‘side’ was filled with antisemites and their enablers. The Report failed to grasp this elemental truth, rendering it useless.

“Just one such example is the Report’s ludicrous suggestion that the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour, should not have been excluded from delivering antisemitism education to the party.”

Boston Mapping Project An Anti-Semitic Campaign Goes Awry
According to leaked excerpts of the BNC letter to the Boston BDS group, the BNC reaffirmed its support for “armed resistance” against the Israeli occupation which it falsely claimed was in accordance with international law but criticized the mapping project for being nonstrategic in its call for “resistance in all forms.” That, it claimed, opens the door for the “eager Israeli lobby” to intensify its attacks on the movement and its activists. The fear was that the BDS guise as a non-violent, human rights movement would be compromised, and the distancing tactic was a strategic ploy to maintain the pretense that the movement is a positive rather than a negative force.

The result was that rifts and fissures within the movement were created or deepened. Some, like JVP and its former executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson (under whose helm the Deadly Exchange campaign was launched and who urged the Boston mapping project be introduced in other cities as well) removed their tweets and posts promoting the project. Others condemned the BNC statement, accusing them of collaborating with Zionists. The BNC was accused of trying to “police the actions of BDS groups” and undermine those openly calling for resistance.

The BNC Arabic website did not include the disclaimer that was posted on the English-language website. Nor did many of the BNC constituents in the Middle East weigh in on the matter one way or the other, likely seeing the mapping project as a local diaspora issue. So it is noteworthy that the PFLP (whom JISR ideologically aligns with) put out a statement in Arabic, as well as in English, expressing appreciation and support for the project.

Among the BDS groups that publicly oppose the BNC statement and have re-endorsed the Mapping project are: Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Africa for Palestine Boycott and Anti-Normalization Campaign; the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon; Canada Palestine Association; the Canadian BDS Coalition; the Center for the Study and Preservation of Palestine; Collectif Palestine Vaincra; DecolonizePalestine; the Democratic Socialists of America’s BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group; Falastiniyat; Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste; Masar Badil – Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement; National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP); Normalization Resistance Movement; Palestine Action; Palestine House – Palestinian Canadian Community Centre; Palestinian American Women’s Association; Palestinian and Jewish Unity; the Palestinian Youth Movement; Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; the U.S. Palestinian Community Network; and Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine.

Iran’s Press TV also joined the chorus of mapping project supporters. It urged the Boston BDS group to intensify the targeting of pro-Israel groups. “It is perfectly legitimate to target Jewish groups that support Zionist crimes” a reporter declared and called for the Mapping Project to be “rolled out in all 50 states and internationally.”

The mapping project is thus proving to be a liability for those in the BDS movement who prefer to present themselves to a diaspora audience as anti-racist and non-violent. Not only have progressive politicians recognized the antisemitic nature of the project, but it is shining a light on the antisemitic nature of the movement itself – and the danger it presents to Jews all over the world.
AP Captions Strike Essential Info on Israeli Airstrikes
The picture speaks for itself, as the saying goes. Or does it?

If a picture on its own imparts all that the viewer needs to know, why do news services universally pair photographs with captions giving information about the pictured scene?

Clearly, a stand-alone news photograph, with no explanatory text, is often inadequate to communicate events, but how much information is required to accurately convey to readers the significance of what appears in the photograph? The inclusion or omission of key information in a photo caption can greatly influence the reader’s basic understanding – or lack thereof – of events in the picture.

Take the Associated Press’ July 16 minimalist captions about an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

The captions state: “A view of an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Saturday, July 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ali)” (three images) and “Sparks from an explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes in in Gaza City, Saturday, July 16, 2022” (one image). These captions omit two pieces of information essential to the reader’s understanding of events.

Neither caption mentions the fact that the Israeli airstrikes were in response to the Palestinian firing of rockets towards Israel. (One rocket intercepted by the Iron Dome was heading towards a civilian population, and at least two fell in open areas within Israel.)

In a second egregious omission, the incomplete captions omit the fact that the army said the airstrikes targeted advanced Hamas weapons-making facilities. The IDF tweeted: “In response to the rockets fired from Gaza at Israel tonight, we targeted one of Hamas’ most significant rocket production sites in Gaza. This strike will significantly impede Hamas’ force-building capabilities.” In addition: “In response to these attacks aimed at Israeli civilians, our fighter jets struck an additional Hamas weapons manufacturing site in Gaza.”
Ilhan Omar should be shunned by our politicians, not celebrated
Many of the Mayor’s supporters will be surprised by his endorsement of the congresswoman. He made building links with the capital’s Jewish community an urgent priority after being elected in 2016 and has worked to maintain positive relations since. But last week’s meeting will remind people how he nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour Party. No doubt Omar and the people she met will dismiss any opposition, saying as usual that it is possible to criticise Israel without being antisemitic.

No one disputes that is true. But let’s be really clear: Omar’s statements go way beyond legitimate criticism of Israel, its government, policies or security forces.

Suggesting politicians support Israel as a result of financial inducements is just the latest manifestation of the ancient antisemitic trope about wealthy, powerful Jews controlling politics.

Labour has taken action to deal with the antisemitism that flourished under Corbyn. But progress has been slow and some people who ought to be nowhere near a mainstream party are given temporary suspensions when they should be permanently expelled.

Starmer’s cheerleaders criticise those who make this point, but more thoughtful members of the party — including Jewish councillors and activists I have spoken to — explain that it will take time to deal with the problem, especially in areas where the far left have not yet been driven out.

They agree it is clearly much too soon to claim, as Sir Keir did recently, that he has “rooted out the poison of antisemitism”.

Perhaps he could accelerate the process by making sure senior figures do not praise people like Ilhan Omar.

‘Tale of Two Slain Journalists’: TV Host Equates Israel with Saudi Arabia in Bizarre Parallel
Compare these horrifying circumstances to Abu Akleh’s tragic death in May, which occurred in the middle of a gunfight between the Israeli military and Palestinian terrorists during a raid in Jenin to arrest suspects following a spate of deadly terror attacks against innocent civilians.

Despite fantastical claims by the Palestinian Authority (PA), there is not a shred of evidence to suggest Israel deliberately targeted Abu Akleh or that it has sought to prevent a full and transparent investigation into her death.

Indeed, Israel quickly offered to participate in a joint probe with the Palestinians, while also carrying out its own investigations that were hampered by the PA’s refusal to turn over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh for ballistic analysis.

When the PA did finally release the bullet to American authorities nearly two months later, US officials stated it was too badly damaged to conclusively determine who had fired the fatal shot, but that it was likely an accident by an IDF soldier.

When the facts so clearly show that the deaths of Khashoggi and Abu Akleh are not remotely alike, it is a mystery why a respected television anchor like Katie Phang would suggest they are.

Her monologue instead represents an egregious example of trying to find commonalities in the deaths of Abu Akleh and Khashoggi where there are none.

Such distortion of the truth makes a mockery of serious journalism.
BBC framing of the two-state solution follows the usual template
In December 2016 the BBC began telling its audiences that the two-state solution is “the declared goal” of the Palestinian leadership, ignoring the fact that it has rejected such offers in the past, that Hamas has no such goal and that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have repeatedly refused to recognise Israel as the Jewish state.

In this report the two-state solution is presented as “the formula for peace favoured by the international community” (without any serious examination of whether or not that “formula” is realistic) which is “off the table” in Israel.

In addition to the blows dealt by the second Intifada to Israeli belief in the possibility of a negotiated peace and their bitter experiences following withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israelis are very conscious of the fact that fifteen years of political chaos on the Palestinian side has severely hampered the possibility for a positive result to such a process.

However, while polls show a decline in support for a two-state solution among both Palestinians and Israelis, it is only the latter who are portrayed by Knell as having experienced “a right-wing drift” and political turmoil which has supposedly led to the issue being “off the table”.

All too often BBC framing of the ‘peace process’ ignores the Palestinian factor, presenting that side of the equation as entirely lacking agency or responsibility. Yolande Knell’s report on the US president’s visit to Bethlehem adheres to that chosen narrative.
Canada’s Drag Race Contestant Denies Israel’s Right To Exist; Xtra Magazine Broadcasts Drag Queen’s Anti-Israel Rant
As for Talaab’s claim of Israel’s alleged “settler colonial occupation,” one is reminded of Hitchen’s razor, a general rule coined by the late author Christopher Hitchens, who wrote that “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” In other words, by merely regurgitating commonly-cited anti-Israel buzzwords, Talaab has not presented a persuasive, let alone even coherent, argument.

However, suffice to say that Israel in no conceivable way resembles a “settler colonial” state. Israel, as the world’s only Jewish state, is home to the world’s largest Jewish population who, with three thousand years of history, can claim unambiguous indigeneity to the Land of Israel. Israeli Jews today walk in the same footsteps as their ancestors did three millennia ago, and no amount of woke phraseology will undo this indisputable reality.

Depicting Israel as a settler colonialist state is worse than an assault on history and facts and an erasure of Jewish history; it is a complete reversal of reality. The Jewish people are no more settler colonialists in the Land of Israel than the First Nations of Canada are settler colonialists in North America. In fact, Jews in Israel defended their land against a string of multiple conquering colonialists, including Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and others.

While Talaab spoke about being a proud queer individual in a majority Muslim country, but the drag contestant did not mention the rampant persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals in Gaza and the “West Bank”. As noted by Emily Schrader in the Jerusalem Post: “According to Palestinian law, being gay is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and in Gaza, it’s punishable by death. In 2016, Hamas executed a senior commander by firing squad in Gaza for homosexual activity. LGBTQ+ Palestinians have no legal protections against discrimination, are forbidden from adopting and gay marriage is not recognized in any capacity.” As the saying goes: Queers for Palestine, if you know what life is like under Palestinian Authority and Hamas rule, is like Chickens for KFC.

Walther Rathenau: an appreciation
On 24 June 1922 the German Foreign Minister, Walther Rathenau, was assassinated by right-wing extremists. It was a significant moment in the history of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism, but the centenary of his murder has barely been mentioned in the English-speaking world.

In Germany, by contrast, there have been a number of events commemorating the assassination of one of Germany’s leading industrialists, intellectuals and statesmen. The week of events began with a wreath-laying ceremony on the morning of June 24 at the site of the murder in Koenigsallee in Berlin-Grunewald. Wreaths were laid by the German President and the Mayor of Berlin. Two things were surprising about this event. First, there were so few people there. Second, the spectators were outnumbered by security men. Presumably, the authorities feared some extremist attack. Whether by anti-Semites or far-Right terrorists, it is hard to say.

After the wreath-laying, there were two conferences, the first at the German Historical Museum on Unter den Linden; the second, a public panel discussion, “From Rapallo to Mariupol: Walther Rathenau and the German relationship to Russia”, at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. There was also a Commemoration event at the Rathenau family grave in the forest cemetery on the outskirts of Berlin and an exhibition in Rathenau’ s country home, Schloss Freienwalde.

Rathenau was the older son of Emil Rathenau, one of the great industrialists of late 19th century Germany, founder of the Allgemeine Elektrizit ä ts-Gesellschaft (AEG), Germany’s pre-eminent electrical engineering company. It was one of the great Jewish dynasties of late 19th century Europe, along with the Gunzburgs, the Rothschilds and the Ephrussis. Walther Rathenau held senior posts in the Raw Materials Department of the War Ministry during the First World War and became chairman of AEG upon his father’s death in 1915. Appointed Foreign Minister in February 1922, he soon angered right-wing extremists by negotiating the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union , which was signed on 16 April 1922. In fact the treaty implicitly recognised secret German –Soviet collaboration begun in 1921 that provided for the rearmament of Germany, including German-owned aircraft being manufactured in Russian territory.

When Rathenau was murdered, Kafka famously remarked that it was “incomprehensible that they should have let him live as long as that”. That same year, in 1922, Kafka watched students of the German University in Prague riot rather than receive their diplomas from a Jewish rector. In Ukraine, between 1918-21, there were more than a thousand pogroms. In central and eastern Europe, from Berlin and Prague to Kyiv, there was an extraordinary outburst of antisemitic violence. The murder of Rathenau was just one of the most famous examples.
UK Soccer Fans Who Sang Antisemitic Taunt on Flight to Belgium Escape Prosecution
The case against two London soccer fans who harassed a Jewish fellow passenger on a flight to Belgium with an antisemitic song collapsed on Tuesday as prosecutors found themselves unable to determine whether the incident took place in British airspace.

Lee Carey, 55, and Jak Bruce, 31, denied a public order offense after they were filmed singing antisemitic slurs as an Orthodox Jewish passenger walked past them on the RyanAir flight to Brussels in Nov. 2021. Their song — directed at West Ham’s London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who are regarded in English soccer folklore as a “Jewish” club — mocked the Jewish religious practice of circumcision, ending with the taunt, “I’ve got foreskin, haven’t you?”

The two fans were traveling to watch London Premier League side West Ham United in a UEFA Europa League match against Belgian club Genk.

In their initial court appearance in May, Carey and Bruce made a joint submission for the case to be dismissed. Lawyers for the pair both argued the court had no jurisdiction over the incident under the Civil Aviation Act.

The case was then adjourned as the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considered the request. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the CPS told broadcaster Sky Sports News that “there was insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged offenses took place in British airspace and therefore within remit of our courts.”
Antisemitic German military officer convicted on far-right terrorism charges
A German military officer was found guilty on Friday of plotting to assassinate prominent public figures in an act of far-right terrorism and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

1st Lt. Franco A. was first arrested five years ago after he was caught trying to collect a loaded gun in a Vienna airport, The New York Times reported after the court sentence was handed down. Following his arrest, an investigation was launched, spanning three countries and their respective intelligence agencies.

During the investigation, the intelligence operatives discovered that he had adopted a false identity as part of his plan, posing as a Syrian refugee. According to German news outlet Deutsche Welle, Franco was granted refugee status by Germany in 2016, despite knowing only basic Arabic and not having any identification.

During his trial, Franco claimed that he had assumed the identity of a Syrian refugee in order to find weakness in Germany's immigration system, and denied the charge that he had used his fake identity to prepare for a "false flag attack," the German state-owned international broadcaster reported.

Also uncovered in the investigation was Franco's connection to a network of far-right police officers and soldiers preparing for the day the social order collapsed, referred to by the group as "Day X."
Nazi memorabilia sold on New Zealand sales website
New Zealand's private sales website Trade Me featured dozens of listings on Monday for Nazi memorabilia, according to a report by New Zealand news outlet Stuff.

The listings, many of which were still listed on Tuesday, included portraits of Hitler and documents and stamps featuring Nazi and Third Reich symbols.

While owning and selling Nazi memorabilia is not illegal in New Zealand, the policy of Trade Me is supposedly that such items are not permitted to be listed on the website.

Among other things, the Banned and Restricted Items section explicitly prohibits listing historical Nazi-related items and any items made after 1933 that bear images of swastikas.

President of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand Rob Berg told Stuff that the items being sold on Trade Me were a wake-up call about how relevant the issue of antisemitism is.

Berg did not urge for censorship, however, since he believes that the correct way to fight antisemitism is with education.

However, Kerr went on to say that the company understands "that these items aren't for everyone, but they can be legally bought and sold in New Zealand, and we don't believe it's our place to make that decision for Kiwis."
Culver City Councilmember on Homelessness: “Marching People Off to Concentration Camps in Palmdale Is Not a Solution”
Culver City Councilmember Alex Fisch is under fire for comparing homeless shelters in Palmdale to concentration camps during a June 29 candidate forum.

The forum, which was held virtually by the Culver City Democratic Club, featured Fisch saying in response to a question about how the candidates would deal with homelessness: “Marching people off to concentration camps in Palmdale is not a solution. It’s not moral and it’s not the Democratic Party way of doing things.”

In a letter to the editor published in the Culver City Observer, a person named Jamie Wallace wrote that “Fisch had an opportunity at the July 11th City Council meeting but did not make any remark or expression of regret after it was raised by people during public comment. In an email, Mr. Fisch wrote that he was referring to other people talking about moving the unhoused from their current locations to other area facilities such as Palmdale where it might be less expensive to build. Mr. Fisch responded in another written note that he was talking about law-enforcement actions to move the unhoused to other places.”

Wallace also noted that Fisch’s defenders online have claimed “that ‘concentration camps’ do not always refer to Nazi killing centers, but any ‘concentration’ of people such as the Japanese internment camps in the United States.” Wallace called this a “deflection.” “’Marching people off to concentration camps in Palmdale,’ is a clear reference to Nazi atrocities,” Wallace wrote. “No one, city councilmember, candidate or not, should have said this unless they meant to be offensive. Any attempt to soft-peddle this inexcusable statement minimizes the death and suffering of the Nazi’s victims.”

Israeli cybersecurity researchers: New phishing scam mimics language learning apps
An Israeli cybersecurity company is warning users and companies about a new phishing scheme that mimics the popular language learning apps Duolingo and Masterclass.

According to researchers from Sygnia, the attack was launched by a group of hackers named Luna Moth, who send an email that looks like it was sent from Duolingo or Masterclass. The email "announces" that the recipient has purchased a premium subscription, and includes a fake invoice. The messages inform users that they are welcome to contact customer service in case of any problems with their "order."

Messages are also sent to non-Duolingo users, the researchers reported. Some of the people who do not use the apps but received the fake invoices called the phone number in the email, reached the call center, and were told that they would have to install a remote call software in order to cancel the purchase.

During a video call with a fake customer service rep, the hackers install tools on the victim's computer, thus gaining constant access to employees' and organizations' data.

Sygnia researcher Oren Biderman noted that because so many people became accustomed to using video chat during the COVID pandemic, many of the phishing scheme's victims did not hesitate to install the software, thereby falling prey to the hackers.
Hebrew U. ranks 17th worldwide in mathematics and communications
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ranked number one in Israel in half the academic subjects assessed, maintaining its ranking among the 50 best academic institutions in the world in Mathematics, Law, Communications and Public Policy, according to an annual report published Tuesday.

What are HU's strongest subjects?
Prof. Asher Cohen, President of Hebrew University, expressed enthusiasm over the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), one of the most influential university rankings, initiated in 2003 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“Academic and research excellence is part of Hebrew University’s DNA," he said. "The amazing breakthroughs happening here will enable all of us to live better, healthier and, most likely, longer lives, as well. Hebrew University’s strong position helps our alumni pave the way to lead Israel to achievements on an international scale.”

HU ranked 17th worldwide in Mathematics and Communications. No other Israeli universities made the top 30 in those subjects. In law, HU ranked 30th, also beating all other universities in the country.

In Israel, HU was ranked first for the following subjects: Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Atmospheric Sciences, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Environmental Sciences, Water Resources, Food Sciences, Agriculture, Dentistry, Medical Technology, Economics, Law, Political Science, Communications and Public Policy.
Israeli athletes sweep up medals at World Games
Israel is becoming a Jiu-Jitsu superpower, winning five medals in the prestigious World Games.

i24NEWS interview with Amir Boaran, coach of the Israeli National Jiu-Jitsu Team, and Meshi Rosenfeld, Jiu-Jitsu world champion.

Ritual bath used by elites on eve of Second Temple destruction uncovered
A salvage excavation near the Temple Mount has unearthed a unique mikveh ritual bath dating to the Second Temple period.

The mikveh is located on top of a cliff in the “Upper City,” a phrase coined by historian Josephus Flavius to describe the area of Herod’s City that housed Jerusalem’s elites in what is now the Jewish Quarter.

It was found within a private villa, built into the bedrock and featuring a vaulted ceiling with fine masonry typical of the Herodian period.

A plastered water cistern, uncovered near the same villa, had been in use until the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome in 70 CE. It held the remains of nearly 40 cooking pots, some still intact.

These excavations began in February 2021 to provide disabled access between Jerusalem’s Old City and the Western Wall.

The operations were overseen by Hebrew University’s Michal Haber and Dr. Oren Gutfeld, funded in part by Israel’s Jerusalem Affairs Ministry and the William Davidson Foundation, and spearheaded by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

“The excavation revealed remains dating from the Second Temple, Roman-Byzantine, and Ottoman periods,” said Gutfeld while surveying the unique finds. “The number of water channels, cisterns and pools discovered in the area reflects the central role played by Jerusalem’s water supply throughout the ages.”
Looking for the Heart of Jewish Krakow
The 31st Jewish Culture Festival kicked off on a toasty evening on June 24 in Krakow’s historic Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz. The tourist crowds were out in full force, though it was hard to gather who was in town for the festival, and who was simply visiting Krakow’s miraculously unbombed UNESCO World Heritage city center.

I came exclusively for the festival, an event I first learned of back in Germany a few years ago. I’d also been interested in a return visit to Krakow, specifically Kazimierz, since leaving the neighborhood at the end of a self-made heritage trip in March 2019.

Critiques I’ve since read of the neighborhood’s alleged Disneyfication left me curious to further explore just how Jewish Kazimierz really is these days. Is the klezmer music blaring out across Szeroka Square kitsch or simply echoes of the historic heart and soul of Kazimierz?

Klementyna Poźniak, communications specialist at the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, met me at the Miodowa tram stop at the edge of Kazimierz. The JCC of Krakow is a local partner of the festival, organizing (among other events) the annual 60-mile Ride of the Living cycling event from the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps to the JCC Krakow headquarters in Kazimierz.

The 25-year-old Poźniak shared her journey of leaving Poland as a child for the United States, going to school outside Cleveland, and following the pull back to Krakow as a young adult: “Poland has always been my home, and for years I felt as if I was living in exile, waiting to return,” said Poźniak. “Now that I am back and can be a part of such incredible work, I know I made the right choice.”

We didn’t get far in our jaunt before noticing some graffiti scribbled across a large, wraparound poster promoting the festival. With the word “Palestyna” and an incorrectly drawn Star of David, it was easy to get the message without speaking Polish.

“Unfortunately this does happen,” said Poźniak.

“What does it say?” I asked.

“‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Zionism is fascism.’”

I noticed similar markings on Jewish Culture Festival posters across town. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, I spotted another incorrectly drawn Star of David next to an equal sign and a lopsided swastika.

Fortunately, the antisemitism seemed to be limited to these sloppy scribblings. Everyone from the festival founder Janusz Makuch to longtime attendees, like Jewish heritage author and scholar Ruth Ellen Gruber, said that there’s never been an incident at the festival. Some security measures have tightened, namely at concerts, but no more so than what seems to be standard practice at Jewish gatherings in Europe.
US rabbi revives Italian hamlet by restoring Jewish roots, bringing Ukraine refugees
From a rustic, tiny synagogue she fashioned from her family’s ancestral home in this mountain village, an American rabbi is keeping a promise made to her Italian-born father: reconnect people in this southern region of Calabria to their Jewish roots, links nearly severed five centuries ago when the Inquisition forced Jews to convert to Christianity.

In the process, Rabbi Barbara Aiello is also helping to revive Serrastretta, one of many small southern towns struggling with dwindling population, as young people leave in droves to find work and where each year deaths far outnumber births.

Besides the chatter of visitors who come to her synagogue, curious to learn about Judaism in predominantly Catholic Italy, the laughter of newly arrived children resounds in the town. This spring, the rabbi helped bring Ukrainian refugees, including some with Jewish roots, to live here for now, and — Serrastretta’s mayor hopes — maybe permanently.

On a small wooden table near the synagogue’s entrance sits a yellowed family portrait. In the photograph is the rabbi’s father, Antonio Abramo Aiello, as a child. Born in Serrastretta, he was studying for his bar mitzvah, the rabbi said, but before that religious coming-of-age ritual could take place, the young Aiello left with his family for the United States in 1923.

His daughter, Barbara, would be born in Pittsburgh and ordained a rabbi when she was 51, in a small branch of American Judaism known as Reconstructionist movement.

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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 19 years and 40,000 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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