Monday, August 08, 2022

From Ian:

David May and Richard Goldberg: With Israel under attack, Biden must fight UN anti-Semitism
Pillay’s defense of anti-Semitism is nothing new. In 2008, as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Pillay lashed out at “certain lobby groups focused on single issues,” a coded reference to Jewish organizations, which were trying to block a follow-on to the wildly anti-Semitic (and ironically named) 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The event led to calls to make Israel a pariah, prompted a walkout by the United States and “disintegrated into an anti-American, anti-Israeli circus,” according to Holocaust survivor Rep. Tom Lantos, who was in attendance.

Pillay’s defense of her fellow commissioners’ remarks hasn’t prevented withering condemnation from the United States. Ambassadors and envoys criticized the “antisemitic, anti-Israel comments” and expressed indignation that a UN official questioned Israel’s legitimacy as a UN member. Other countries and organizations chimed in, too.

These condemnations are appropriate and welcome. But without decisive action, when the Human Rights Council convenes in September, the “Jewish lobby” commission will take Israel-bashing to a new level.

Kothari also made clear the commission is working to label Israel an apartheid state — widely expected based on its mandate to probe “systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”

The apartheid accusation against Israel, besides being absurd, manifests an anti-Semitic goal of denying Jews the right to self-determination by claiming that Israel’s existence is a racist endeavor. In fact, that’s a textbook example of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental group of dozens of countries committed to fighting the scourge of Jew-hatred.

In June, during the Human Rights Council’s 50th session, 21 countries joined the United States in condemning the commission’s bias against Israel. But America and its allies did not press for terminating the commission’s mandate. As events of the last days make clear, their warning shot went unheeded.

When the council reconvenes in September, the commission may try to expand its probe into Israel’s latest counterterrorism operations. Nations that stand opposed to anti-Semitism should instead join the Biden team in voting to dissolve it. This should be a high diplomatic priority for both the National Security Council and State Department — deploying National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken as needed to lock down the votes.

It’s also major test for the Biden administration’s belief that it could reform the Human Rights Council by rejoining it. If America proves unable to terminate the “Jewish lobby” commission’s mandate, both the administration and Congress must re-evaluate the utility of US participation in a Jew-hating circus.
The European ties with terror-linked Palestinian NGOs - opinion
SO, HOW can Europe – especially the Netherlands – pretend that there’s no reason to discontinue its support for the designated NGOs?

The first clue is the sheer scope of European funding for these NGOs. In the last decade, Europe has allocated more than €200 million for the PFLP-linked NGO network. Financial support is merely one component in a much more intricate and intimate relationship that European countries maintain with these NGOs. Although European funders justify funding policies on the basis of supporting human rights, civil justice, and peace, the reality is that political goals stand at the center.

Indeed, as opposed to maintaining a disinterested relationship, these NGOs play the role of intermediaries and subcontractors, providing important services to the funders. For instance, Europe’s NGO partners are crucial sources of information and influence, particularly regarding foreign policy issues. Selected organizations can serve as influencers in public policy discourse and generate political pressure on Israel – most particularly when it comes to the future of the West Bank, Gaza and more.

Europe’s willingness to overlook, and refusal to act on, Israel’s terror-designation of six Palestinian NGOs reflects this long history and the lack of independent oversight involving millions of euros. These so-called “civil society movements” serve as a means for European officials to perpetuate one-sided policies and attempt to gain more influence regarding Israeli-Palestinian issues.

At the same time, European governments have a responsibility to examine the actual results of their continued funding for terror-linked NGOs. In the face of clear evidence of the PFLP links, the illusions of “promoting democratic values” and creating “a free and strong civil society” among Palestinians is no longer sustainable.
Liz Truss: As PM, I would consider moving embassy to Jerusalem
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would consider moving her country’s embassy to Jerusalem if she becomes prime minister following next month’s Conservative Party leadership election, she wrote in a letter to Conservative Friends of Israel on Friday.

“I understand the importance and sensitivity of the location of the British Embassy in Israel,” Truss wrote. “I’ve had many conversations with my good friend Prime Minister Yair Lapid on this topic. Acknowledging that, I will review a move to ensure we are operating on the strongest footing within Israel.”

Truss also supported Israel, separately, at the launch of Operation Breaking Dawn on Friday, with the Foreign Office tweeting that she said: "The UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself. We condemn terrorist groups firing at civilians and violence which has resulted in casualties on both sides. We call for a swift end to the violence."

In the letter to Conservative Friends of Israel, Truss wrote that she “remain[s] committed to standing up to Iranian hostility and their pursuit of nuclear weapons,”

What about Iran?
“I have been clear that progress on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is not moving fast enough and I assure you that if the JCPOA collapses, all options are on the table,” Truss stated.

Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA, seeking more robust and longer-lasting limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.

In contrast to Truss, Rishi Sunak, the other Conservative candidate who was chancellor of the exchequer until recently, wrote in his letter to the pro-Israel group that he would seek “a new, strengthened nuclear deal that extends the sunset clauses, lengthens the breakout period and curtails Iran’s ballistic missile program. The credible threat of snapback sanctions, which has so far been missing from the negotiations, is the only way we can force Iran to seriously engage with these proposals.


EU submits ‘final text’ in Iran nuclear talks, signaling negotiations have ended
The European Union has submitted a “final text” at talks to salvage a 2015 deal aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, a European official said on Monday.

“We worked for four days and today the text is on the table,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

“The negotiation is finished, it’s the final text… and it will not be renegotiated.”

Major power talks involving Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, as well as the United States indirectly, and aimed at reviving an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program resumed on Thursday in Vienna, months after they had stalled.

“Now the ball is in the court of the capitals and we will see what happens,” the European official added. “No one is staying in Vienna.”

The official said he hoped to see the “quality” text accepted “within weeks.”

Iran said it was examining the text.

“As soon as we received these ideas, we conveyed our initial response and considerations… but naturally, these items require a comprehensive review, and we will convey our additional views and considerations,” state news agency IRNA quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying.

On Sunday, Iran demanded the UN nuclear watchdog “completely” resolve questions over nuclear material at undeclared sites.
Iranian rocket scientists, Houthi members killed in Yemen blasts
Six Iranian and Lebanese rocket scientists, along with dozens of Houthi militia members were killed in two blasts in a military camp near Sana'a, Yemen on Monday, Arab media reported.

The fatal blasts reportedly occurred as a result of a malfunction during the conveyance and installation of ballistic missiles at al-Hafa base, which includes a weapons manufacturing site.

Following the blasts, the pro-Iranian militia blocked off all entrances to the Houthi camp, located east of the Yemeni capital of Sana'a.

The incident comes amid an UN-brokered truce in war-torn Yemen between the Houthi militia and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which was renewed for a further two months last week.

The UN's special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, pushed for a six-month truce with additional measures. However, both sides have had grievances about the implementation of the existing truce deal and mistrust runs deep.


Comparing Muslim deaths to Holocaust, UAE royal suggests Jews are hung up on Shoah
An Emirati royal has compared the Holocaust to the deaths of Muslims in various wars, suggesting Jews have leveraged the Nazi genocide for sympathy and victimhood, while Muslims “move on.”

Princess Hend bint Faisal Al-Qasimi, a royal from the Al-Qasimi dynasty that rules Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates’ third-largest city, tweeted her complaint on Saturday, the latest in a long line of statements that have included scathing criticism of Israel, as well as antisemitism.

The princess has a following of over 533,000 people on Twitter. Her tweets often go viral, attracting thousands of retweets and likes.

“6,636,235 Jews were killed in WW2, killed in Europe,” she tweeted. “At least 12.5M Muslims died in wars in past 25 years. You never hear a Muslim writing books, movies, starts a law that if you don’t sympathize with our plight you are less of a human. We forgive & move on.”

It was not clear where Al-Qasimi got her figures on Muslim deaths, though they may have been based on a Turkish scholar’s assessment that was publicized a few years ago.

On Sunday, she tapped into the antisemitic myth that Jews control global affairs, including international media, in her criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza.

“The media that is controlled by you know who, wants you to NOT EVEN FEEL AN OUNCE OF SYMPATHY FOR THE DEAD BABIES, by claiming their terrorist Daddies DELIBERATELY USED them as HUMAN SHIELDS. No one believes you. Grow up. Stop the war. #Gaza,” she wrote.

A look at Al-Qasimi’s online presence on Twitter and elsewhere suggests such statements are frequent.

In another post, she claimed Palestinians were suffering “the exact same” fate as that of Jews during the Holocaust.


This Israeli-American philanthropist is advocating for IHRA definition in 7 US states
The Israeli-American Coalition for Action will promote the legislation of laws based on the IHRA definition of antisemitism in up to seven states over the next year, according to the chairman of the organization.

“We are focusing [promoting legislation of IHRA] in seven states, and are already working in four of them,” Shawn Evenhaim, chairman of IAC for Action and real-estate mogul, said from his Los Angeles home. “There is one state where we are already in very advanced stages, but in other states we just recently began to work. We hope that this year we’ll be able to pass an IHRA law in between four and seven states.”

IAC for Action is the policy and legislative arm of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the largest organization of Israeli expats in the world, which has become the umbrella organization of Israelis living in the US.

More than half of the American states have already adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism on a state level, in different ways. Evenhaim said that the IAC for Action was involved in some of these campaigns, in order to convince elected officials to support this legislation.

“We’ve educated state officials, across the country, of the importance of the IHRA definition,” he said. “Some [of the elected officials] already adopted this agenda, and we hope that other states will also join.”

The Working Definition of Antisemitism of IHRA is a non-legally binding statement on what antisemitism is, adopted by the IHRA Plenary (consisting of representatives from 31 countries) in Bucharest on May 26, 2016. The statement reads: [1] Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
Antisemitism: Back to Square One?
Just as the mural on display in Germany didn’t take the extra step of coding its antisemitism, neither did Kothari waste time with euphemisms like “Zionists” or “powerful pro-Israel interests” in making a point about Jews. And just as the management team behind Documenta agonized theatrically about how to acknowledge the hurt and fury of Germany’s Jewish community without alienating their Indonesian colleagues, resulting in apologies so qualified that they weren’t really apologies, Kothari’s own somewhat pompous expressions of regret last week can be judged in similar fashion.

Asked about the mural, Sabine Schormann — the director of the Documenta festival who shortly after resigned under the weight of the scandal — recognized its offensiveness to Jews but pleaded for understanding for its creators, who felt that they “were under general suspicion and defamed and sometimes threatened, because of their origin, their skin color, their religion or their sexual orientation.” Kothari, meanwhile, penned a lengthy letter to the chair of the UN Human Rights Council in which he expressed regret for his choice of words without ever recognizing that these words were antisemitic. They were “incorrect, inappropriate and insensitive,” he said, but the really meaningful step — identifying these words as a faithful representation of the age-old antisemitic trope of “Jewish power” — was never taken. For Documenta and Kothari alike, recognition that both were trading in unvarnished, dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes remained elusive.

Yes, of course, there has been widespread condemnation of both Documenta and Kothari, much of it from non-Jews. But as welcome as that chorus is, it doesn’t change the fact that the Documenta festival is still exhibiting, and that no one has been charged with antisemitic incitement under Germany’s stringent laws, while the UN commission remains in operation despite numerous calls for it to be shut down. All that has changed is that these days, condemnation of antisemitism is more widespread and more frequent — but then again, there are plenty of incidents out there to condemn.

If we can’t create a watertight consensus around the fact that caricatures of Jews with hooked noses are not just antisemitic, but impregnated with the potential for the violence of the Nazi era, or that casual references to the “Jewish lobby” revive those same tendencies, then we are never going to be successful when it comes to the more coded expressions of antisemitism. Jewish educators, unfortunately, now need to focus on drawing out the intimate links between the antisemitic caricatures of the last century and those in this one. We can no longer assume that basic knowledge of the Holocaust plays an immunizing role, especially as the Nazi extermination program fades further and further into history.

Just as the fight against racism starts with identifying and isolating its ugliest and most dishonest claims (black men as “natural” sexual predators, Roma and Sinti gypsies as “natural” thieves and so forth) so it is with antisemitism (Jews as “natural” exploiters who cynically damage other people’s interests as they pursue their own). As hard as it is to admit, we still need basic education about how to identify and correctly respond to the transparent, uncomplicated antisemitism seen at the Documenta exhibition and in Miloon Kothari’s comments. Until we pull that basic task off, all the ambassadors and envoys and members of parliament lining up to condemn antisemitism are in danger of being written off as just so much window dressing.
Antisemitism on the field: The English soccer team inciting Israel hatred
It's customary to think that at least in sports, the path to fame and glory runs through excellence and achievement, although this rule, too, has its exceptions. Dale Vince is one such person paving his path to newspaper headlines through scandals, and if there's a stench of antisemitism – all the better.

Third-division English soccer club Forest Green Rovers is far from impressive on the field, and in the stands, Vince, the team's owner, understands that athletic competence alone won't spark media interest in his unheralded squad. So how can he attract some attention, and better yet for free? Vince's method is simple: He has turned his club into the leading voice for the anti-Israel boycott movement.

Vince, the owner and founder of the British energy company Ecotricity, which specializes in wind and solar energy products, purchased Rovers in 2010 and immediately went about hitching the club to his anti-Israel agenda. The team's games serve as a platform for extremist ideas that paint the Jewish state as evil and the root of all problems. As for Jewish soccer fans, it is best they do not attend these matches, especially if they're wearing anything identifying them as such.

Terrorist supporters in the stands
Vince's personal fight against Israel has attracted two individuals to home games who share his worldview: former Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization's representative in Great Britain, Husam Zomlot.

Corbyn attended a Rovers home match at the height of his party's antisemitism scandal – following the revelation of several of his pro-Hezbollah and pro-Hamas remarks – during which he defiantly posed for photographs wearing the team scarf. Former Labour Party chairman Jeremy Corbyn at a Rovers home match posing with the team scarf

Zomlot, who was expelled from Washington after the Trump administration decided to shut down the PLO's office in the US, became a welcome guest at Rovers' stadium after the PLO flag was raised there at Vince's orders.
Israel’s StemRad gears up for major demo of anti-radiation suit on NASA’s Artemis I
Israeli company StemRad, a developer of radiation protection suits for space explorers, emergency responders, defense forces, nuclear industry workers, and medical personnel, is preparing for a major demonstration of its technology as part of NASA’s Artemis I mission later this month.

NASA’s Artemis program, first unveiled in 2017, aims to land astronauts on the lunar surface in the next few years and establish a long-term human presence on the Moon as a warm-up for future missions to Mars. Israel officially signed onto the Artemis program in January.

The Artemis I mission, set for August 29, will be the first uncrewed test flight of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion Spacecraft, which will eventually carry astronauts from Earth to lunar orbit and back. Artemis II, scheduled for 2024, will be the first crewed flight of the SLS and the Orion. Artemis III is planned as the first crewed mission to land on the Moon in 2025 and the first crewed flight of the Starship HLS (Human Landing System) lander, under development by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

As part of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, StemRad will assess the protective qualities of the AstroRad, an anti-radiation suit co-developed with Lockheed Martin to protect vital organs from harmful gamma radiation, on human analogs (or mannequins) aboard the Orion.

The humanoid stand-ins, called “anthropometric radiation phantoms,” are provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), a partner to a study of the AstroRad’s performance in space. Dubbed the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), the study will provide a comparative analysis of two female phantoms — one called Zohar, which will wear the AstroRad, and its unprotected counterpart, Helga.

The phantoms (called matroshkas in space contexts), are made of materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues, and organs in female bodies, and contain thousands of radiation detectors that will provide researchers with a high-resolution map of radiation dose deposition in humans.
Sea-wave electricity plant heads to Port of Los Angeles
Israeli company Eco Wave Power www.ecowavepower.com is moving its wave energy pilot from Gibraltar to the 35-acre campus AltaSea ecofriendly business center at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest seaport.

This will be the first US location for Eco Wave Power’s energy conversion unit, which is already deployed in Israel and plans further deployments in Spain, Portugal and other locations.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, wave energy off the nation’s coasts can generate the equivalent of about 66 percent of all the electricity generated across the country in 2020.

Eco Wave Power’s onshore technology turns ocean and sea waves into green electricity, enabling commercial power production from the power of the water.

“Shipping of the energy conversion unit marks two significant milestones. First, it is supporting the realization of our efforts to bring our technology to the United States,” said Inna Braverman, founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power.

“Second, the easy relocation of the technology emphasizes the fact that our technology can be easily dismantled and reinstalled to any location. The portable nature of our technology is an important technological advantage, which will enable the company to enter new market segments seeking portable solutions.”
Startup harvests hydrogen from local nonrecyclable trash
The way Jan Grimbrandt explains it, producing affordable carbon-negative hydrogen locally from household, medical and agricultural waste makes a whole lot of financial and environmental sense.

This is how his Israeli-Swedish-Polish company, Boson Energy, is poised to speed up the slow but steady transition from fossil fuels.

“Today, waste is seen as a negative value in terms of the climate and the economy. But biomass and waste streams are largely unexplored chemical carriers of hydrogen,” Grimbrandt tells ISRAEL21c.

“One ton of waste destined for landfill can instead replace five and a half barrels of crude oil. That is a real benefit you can put numbers on. It’s easy to understand.”

But not as easy to accomplish.

In a world where climate investors are keen on software, Boson’s solution is hardware that could be set up in urban areas where power is needed most. Boson calls it “IMBY” for “in my backyard” for the local setup.

The technology — developed in Israel, where Boson Energy continues to advance it — uses gasification to harvest hydrogen continuously from nonrecyclable waste and biomass. Plasma torches melt the remaining ash into a usable glass material – making the process fully circular, the CEO notes.
Kibbutz Nir ’Doh’vidPicturesque Israeli kibbutz features in The Simpsons
An image of a kibbutz was a surprise feature in a recent episode of the popular US animated show “The Simpsons.”

Social media users noticed the visual toward the end of Season 33 Episode 21, quickly pointing out that it bore a striking resemblance to a popular image of Kibbutz Nir David, which lies in the Beit She’an valley in Israel’s north.

The scene depicts the kibbutz and the surrounding region with a subtitle “A Kibbutz in Israel,” before cutting to an exchange between Homer Simpson and a yarmulke-wearing Israeli farmer named Nehorai, Channel 12 news reported.

Some users suggested that the kibbutz’s inclusion was due to the attention it garnered in 2021 amid legal disputes between members seeking to protect their gated community and Beit She’an residents who have long sought public access to the Hassi Stream which runs through it.

Residents of the northern city of Beit She’an, backed increasingly by social justice activists from all over the country, have battled for years to gain access to the turquoise stream, which is actually a canal.

The stream used to run through Beit She’an, but was diverted for agricultural and other uses in the 1980s, and has dried up.


A kosher home for Jewish-Ukrainian refugees in Hungary
In a lakeside resort in western Hungary, some 400 Ukrainian Jews, who were forced to leave their homes all across the war-torn country in the wake of Russia’s invasion, have a place they can call a temporary Jewish home.

In Balatonoszod, on the banks of Lake Balaton, lies the single largest kosher refugee camp in Europe. The 180,000 sq.m. (18 hectares) resort, some 130 km. from the Hungarian capital of Budapest, has seen 2,000 Ukrainian Jews come and go, offering them an escape from the tragic reality in Ukraine.

Balaton was transformed into a safe haven for Jewish refugees only due to the hard work of Slomo Koves, chief rabbi of the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities (EMIH), and Rabbi Meir Stambler, chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine (FJCU).

The two rabbis’ project began only days after the war broke out in Ukraine. Stambler called Koves, the latter recalled, asking if he could find a place to host 1,000 Ukrainian Jews for a Passover Seder. “When the war began, I felt as if I had to do something to help,” Koves said.

“I thought this war was unfair on [Ukrainians]… specifically my colleagues at FJCU,” Koves explained, expressing that he felt he owed it to the rabbis and Chabad shluchim (emissaries) in Ukraine to offer what he could to help.

Eventually, the Hungarian government signed off on Koves’s request, and preparations to make the government-owned resort kosher began, including the renovation of many buildings in the resort that have been abandoned for years.

The ultimate goal, Koves said, is to give Ukrainian Jews fleeing the eastern European country a place to live and create a warm home for any Jew.
‘Confronting Hate’ Exhibit Portrays How AJC Broached Antisemitism During World War II
It almost looks like a comics display when first walking into the “Confronting Hate 1937-1952” exhibit at the New York-Historical Society on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“Thrilling,” “extra,” “Joe the Worker” and “TV Spots” pop out from the enlarged comics wrapped around the top of the display cases in a small room of what is said to be the city’s first museum.

“It’s extremely timely,” said Debra Schmidt Bach, curator of the exhibit. “It addresses the current state of affairs. The whole idea of fighting against bias of all groups is very important. It is timeless.”

The small space in a side room at the towering, huge museum complex tells the story of the American Jewish Committee’s unique way to combat antisemitism, mostly through cartoons, comic books and engaging advertisements. The exhibit started last month and runs until Jan. 1.

“Don’t just stand there. Get me some white, native-born, sixth-generation American stretcher-bearers,” one comic strip of the “Mr. Biggott series,” published in hundreds of newspapers, declared the comic of man who slipped on a banana peel. Another strip depicting a man holding a clarinet standing at the entrance to the US Army General Hospital says, “I have come to entertain the wounded. Lead me to the ward for white, native-born, sixth-generation Americans.”

The campaign that went from 1937 to 1945 was spearheaded mostly by Richard Rothschild, a writer of philosophy who also worked for an advertising agency. “The problem was how to prevent Nazi-type antisemitism,” Rothschild said in a 1973 interview, “then the official policy of the German government from establishing itself firmly in this country.”

He totally ignored the rhetoric from the antisemitic American Gentile newspaper, presented at the opening of the exhibit that reads: “Let’s take America away from the Jews,” where in order for America to be “free to survive,” the Jewish “Carthage must be destroyed.”
Polish Holocaust survivor and novelist Zofia Posmysz dies at 98
Zofia Posmysz, a Polish World War II-era resistance fighter who survived the Auschwitz and Ravensbrück concentration camps and later became a journalist and novelist, has died at 98.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau state memorial museum said Posmysz died Monday in a hospice in Oświęcim, the southern Polish town where Auschwitz was located during Nazi Germany’s wartime occupation of Poland.

She would have turned 99 in two weeks.

Posmysz, a Roman Catholic Pole, was born on August 23, 1923, in Krakow.

She was 18 when she was arrested in 1942 for her association with the Polish resistance in Krakow. After spending more than two years at the Auschwitz death camp, she was deported to Ravensbrück and then later to Neustadt-Glewe, where she was liberated at war’s end in 1945, the Auschwitz memorial said.

She returned to Poland after the war, working as a journalist, including for Polish radio, and writing several novels. Her most famous work was titled “The Passenger,” a novel that she first wrote as a radio play, titled “The Passenger in Cabin 45.” It tells the story of an Auschwitz survivor who meets her former concentration camp guard on a ship voyage, and was the basis of a film and an opera.

In 2006, she was among the former prisoners who welcomed the German-born Pope Benedict XVI to the former Auschwitz camp.
Commonwealth gold medalist Montag inspired by Holocaust-surviving grandmother
She is the first woman to defend a gold medal in racewalking since Jane Saville defended her title in 2006.

Montag’s walk in 2018 overcame Saville’s Australian and Oceania record, set in 2004 at the Athens Summer Olympics by 10 seconds.

“What I take from that is, in a race, it is one kilometer at a time and not thinking about the finish line,” she said.

“She (her grandmother) teaches me to take one step at a time and it also puts things into perspective,” Montag said.

“Towards the end of the Holocaust, they marched through snow and cold for days on end in little sandals and hardly any clothing.

“She and her sister took waistbands and tied their wrists together and said ’we are getting through this together or not at all.'”

Montag and her two sisters, Piper and Amanda, all wear the golden bracelets, made from a necklace.

“I wear my nana’s bracelet as a lucky charm now. And it reminds me of that strength and resilience,” Montag told the Australian Broadcasting Channel before the race.
From the Western Wall to Mecca: VR lets virtual pilgrims explore world’s holy sites
Click and gape at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel ceiling up close. Click again and join thousands of pilgrims praying and circling around the cube-shaped Kaaba at Islam’s most sacred site. Or strap on a headset and enter the holy city of Jerusalem.

There you’ll hear the murmur of Jewish prayers at the Western Wall or thousands of worshipers saying amen in unison at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. You can even light a virtual candle at the site where Christians believe Jesus rose from the grave. All without ever leaving home.

Worshipers, tourists and visitors from around the world are increasingly joining virtual reality religious activities and pilgrimages to some of Earth’s most sacred sites. Such experiences are among the many evolving spaces in the metaverse, an immersive virtual world where people can connect via avatars, that have grown in popularity during the pandemic.

“We believe that virtual reality is, if you like, the new internet, the new way for people not to watch things passively on the screen and just to click on photos and videos, but to actually teleport themselves,” said Nimrod Shanit, CEO of HCXR and Blimey, the producers of The Holy City, an immersive VR experience that allows people to visit Jerusalem’s holiest sites.

Participants “get a sense of the different rituals, culture, architecture, get a sense of the world without the need to actually spend tons of money on travel and contribute to global carbon emissions,” Shanit said.






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