Monday, October 03, 2022

10/03 Links Pt2: Doubling Australian aid to UNRWA, a vital perspective; AOC, Bowman, among 6 Democrats Attacking YU’s Religious Policy

From Ian:

Doubling Australian aid to UNRWA, a vital perspective
The Australian government has announced that it will double to its aid to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which the UN created as a “temporary” entity in the wake of the Israel War of Independence, to help half a million Arabs displaced as a result of these hostilities.

Seventy-three years later, in texts taught in the UNRWA schools, Israel does not exist and is replaced by an entity known as “Palestine.”

In its defense, UNRWA claims that it has a robust system in place to ensure that the education it delivers in its classroom, including through the use of textbooks, is in line with UN values and principles.

As a journalist who has commissioned experts to examine 1000 books used in UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza since their first appearance in 2000, I beg to differ.

UNRWA “education” is instead based on:
-De-legitimization of both the existence of the State of Israel and the Jews’ very presence in the country. Israel does not appear on the map and is replaced by Palestine as the sovereign state in the region.
-The Jews are presented as colonialist settlers and their cities — including Tel Aviv — do not appear on the map as well.
-The Jews’ holy places in the country are not recognized as such but rather presented as Muslim holy places usurped by the Jews (the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem).
-Massive demonization of both Israel and the Jews is the norm, with the latter being presented as enemies of Islam since its very beginning. Israel is depicted as an entirely evil entity with exclusive responsibility for the conflict while the Palestinian Arabs are portrayed as the ultimate victim.
-No objective information is given by UNRWA about Israel and the Jews that would balance this picture even slightly. Nor is there any reference in the books to Jewish-Israeli individuals as ordinary human beings. Instead, they are dealt with as a group, with the accompanying connotations of alienation and existential threat to the Palestinian Arabs.
-Absent is any education for peace and coexistence with Israel. Instead, the books feature a call for a violent struggle for “the liberation of Palestine”.
AOC, Bowman, among 6 Democrats Attacking YU’s Religious Policy
“Why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez telling Yeshiva University how to run its affairs?” asked Tal Fortgang in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday. Good question. It turns out that back on September 23, AOC and five other House Democrats interfered rudely in YU’s affairs, telling the school’s President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman:
“We are disappointed with the University’s recent decision to suspend all student groups in order to avoid recognizing the YU Pride Alliance. This move pits students against each other and risks further isolating LGBTQ+ students at Yeshiva University. We also believe this action to be in tension with your recent statement that Yeshiva University’s ‘commitment and love for [its] LGBTQ students are unshakeable.’”

Here are the names of the six House Democrats: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Mondaire Jones (NY-17), and Rep. Paul D. Tonko (NY-20). They represent New York City, the Hudson Valley, and upstate New York. Maloney’s and Espaillat’s districts actually include YU’s Wilf and Beren Campuses, but, thank God, Maloney will be departing from Congress come January 2023, having been defeated in the primaries by Jerry Nadler.

Please don’t add your name to this letter, Congressman Nadler…

In 2020, a group of YU students calling itself the YU Pride Alliance asked the school to recognize their club. YU responded that having a club called “Pride Alliance” on campus would be consistent with Torah values. The Pride Alliance sued. The New York County Supreme Court denied Yeshiva University’s arguments and concluded that the school was not a “religious corporation” under city law and not protected by the US Constitution as such. The Court entered a permanent injunction ordering Yeshiva to “immediately” approve the club. YU appealed to the New York Appellate Division and the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court), but both appeals were rejected on August 25, 2022. YU then filed an emergency request to the United States Supreme Court on August 29, 2022, requesting that the Court intervene to stay the violation of Yeshiva’s First Amendment rights pending appeal.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on September 9 issued an order allowing YU to disregard New York Supreme Court Judge Lynn Kotler’s ruling that it had to immediately recognize an LGBTQ student club. But on September 14, the Supreme Court ruled that YU must continue to recognize the LGBTQ club while the school argues its case against it in state court. Four justices in the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc dissented with the majority opinion, claiming that New York was ignoring the religious rights of YU.

Now, many of us have held differing views on this issue, which is not only about the right of YU students to assemble in whatever club they see fit, but of the school’s inherent obligation to sponsor a club promoting homosexual relationships with a budget intended for a Torah-inspired learning institution. But no matter what conclusion we have reached, we’ve balanced the school’s religious heritage with the students’ right to assemble.

The six Democrats did not include even a single paragraph dealing with the dilemma faced by the Orthodox Jewish school. It was all about the demands of those LGBTQ+ students and the urgent need for the school to meet them.
NYT Promotes Apartheid Slur Against Israel in Film Review
The recent film, Foragers, is a partisan, political statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian artist and filmmaker Jumana Manna presents a story about agriculture as a metaphor for Israel’s “occupation” of what she suggests is indigenous Palestinian land.

It is the story of the foraging by Palestinians of the wild-growing “akkoub” (Gundelia tournefortii) plant, an endangered species that Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority has tried to manage agriculturally. To conserve its growth in the area, the Nature and Parks Authority declared the akkoub a protected plant and banned its gathering in the wild, promoting instead agricultural cultivation of the plant under more controlled conditions, to satisfy the demand. The ban was lifted two years ago, allowing foragers to gather the plant for personal use, while sparing the roots.

Isn’t such conservation a good thing?

Not according to Manna, who explains the message of her film:
Foragers is about the top-down violence of colonial laws around preservation practices.

As the filmmaker explained to interviewer Sophia Hoffinger, what she conveys in the film is that foraging by Palestinians is “an act of resistance” against an Israeli law that “represent[s] the occupation at large, the management of the land and its sovereignty.”

Is it any wonder then that the film has become a New York Times “Critic’s Pick”? Reviewer Will Heinrich not only accepts the filmmaker’s messaging as unvarnished truth, but bolsters and amplifies it in his own words. For example, Heinrich begins his review with:
We hear a lot about violence in Israel and the occupied territories. We don’t hear quite as much about the softer edges of living in what has been called an “apartheid state” — the absurdity, the insanity, the ever-present anxiety.

Perhaps the reviewer believes that appending “what has been called” to the epithet “apartheid state” absolves him of practicing inappropriate journalistic bias. But without noting that the false “apartheid” charge is a slur specifically designed by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state, Heinrich is following the pattern of other unethical journalists who present their own biased opinions and partisan positions under the guise of being widely accepted truths.

NGO presses EU to condemn Israeli ‘apartheid’ at council meeting
The European Union must denounce Israeli crimes of “apartheid” and condemn its “occupation” when it holds the first EU-Israel Association Council meeting in a decade on Monday, the international nongovernment organization Human Rights Watch said Sunday.
“European officials should know they’ll be shaking hands with representatives of a government committing crimes against humanity and that has outlawed prominent civil society groups challenging these abuses.”
Omar Shakir
“European officials should know they’ll be shaking hands with representatives of a government committing crimes against humanity and that has outlawed prominent civil society groups challenging these abuses,” said Omar Shakir, director of the Israeli and Palestinian office of Human Rights Watch. “Pretending it’s business as usual with Israel amid escalating repression sends the message that EU condemnation is worth little more than the paper it’s written on.”

The meeting is designed to strengthen Israeli-EU ties and comes after Prime Minister Yair Lapid reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.

NGOs, however, want to pressure the EU to use the occasion to pressure Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.

An Israeli apartheid conference over Zoom
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, along with the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, plan to hold a Zoom press conference on Monday to highlight allegations of pressing Israeli human-rights violations and to argue that the EU is supporting Israeli impunity.

Travel Delay AP Coverage Fails to Update Warning Is For All West Bank Properties
Delays and cancellations have become an all too common — even expected — feature of the travel industry landscape. But that’s hardly license for 24/7 news agencies to similarly fall behind on critical tourism industry coverage.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened with Associated Press coverage of a policy which initially appeared to be a win for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, but then one day later flipped into what Israel hailed as a diplomatic victory.

Associated Press immediately covered the booking site’s decision Friday to warn customers against Israeli settlements as being located in “occupied territory” and therefore posing “high risks to safety and human rights,” a policy celebrated by the reflexively anti-Israel Human Rights Watch as a “welcome step.” Yet, two days after’s decision Saturday to apply warnings to all West Bank properties — Israeli and and Palestinian alike, a shift met by Israeli delight — AP’s story on that critical reversal is still stuck at the gate.

As of this writing, AP’s final word on the story is the outdated Sept. 30 AP article, “ adds travel warnings for West Bank settlements,” which in both the headline and throughout the text reported that’s West Bank warnings apply singularly to Israeli settlements.
Chinese censors ban printing of ‘anti-communist’ Hasidic woman’s memoir
Hasidic book publisher Dovid Zaklikowski was looking forward to getting his latest title — the memoir of a Jewish woman who immigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States — printed and shipped off to customers.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan. In mid-August, a Chinese printing company he regularly worked with told Zaklikowski that local government censors had approved the content of “The Queen of Cleveland” and that the job would likely be completed in less than a month.

Delay over Russia and Ukraine
But a few days later, a representative of Hong Kong-headquartered 1010 Printing informed Zaklikowski that the book was being sent to China’s national censorship agency for further review, citing the war in Ukraine.

“In view of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the book has to upgrade for further approval, which needs to take 15 days,” the 1010 Printing representative told Zaklikowski by email.

Almost a month later, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication handed down its final decision about “The Queen of Cleveland,” a memoir written by Shula Kazen, who died in 2019 at 96, about the challenges of living as a Jew under Soviet communist rule.

Censored for being "Anti-communist"
“Unfortunately this book is not approved to print in China as content involves anti-communist,” a 1010 Printing representative told Zaklikowski by email. “Now the only option is printing outside of China.”

The rejection offers a rare window into the collision of Western book production, Chinese limits on free speech, and geopolitics. All content printed or published in any medium in China has to secure the approval of the Chinese Community Party-controlled government, even if, as in this case, the book is in English and destined for distribution abroad. Russia’s war on Ukraine, with China acting as one of Russia’s only major supporters in the world, appears to have had cascading effects on a book intended for American Jewish readers.

WWII: Poland officially seeks $1.3t from Germany, including for Jews killed by Poles
Poland’s foreign minister on Monday signed an official note to Germany requesting the payment of some $1.3 trillion in reparations for the damage inflicted by occupying Nazi Germans during World War II. Poland’s reparations demand includes cases of Jews killed by Poles during the Holocaust.

Zbigniew Rau said the note will be handed to Germany’s Foreign Ministry. The signing comes on the eve of Rau’s meeting in Warsaw with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who will attend a security conference.

Rau said the note expresses his view that the two sides should take action “without delay” to address the effects of Germany’s 1939-45 occupation in a “lasting and complex, legally binding as well as material way.”

He said that would include German reparations as well as solving the issue of looted artworks, archives and bank deposits. He said Berlin should make efforts to inform German society about the “true” picture of the war and its disastrous effects on Poland.

Warsaw says that payment of reparations would strengthen bilateral relations through truth and justice and would close painful chapters from the past. Germany says the matter was closed decades ago.

Baerbock said in Berlin before departing for Poland that the two European neighbors and partners have a “responsibility to preserve the trust we have built together over the past 30 years.”

Baerbock stressed that “this includes that coming to terms with and remembering the immeasurable suffering that Germany brought upon the people of Poland.”

“There cannot and will not be a line drawn here,” Baerbock said.
Antisemitic, racist crime rising in England's West Midlands
Concerning figures show a dramatic increase in racially or religiously aggravated hate-crimes, including antisemitic crimes, across the West Midlands Region in England, and community groups and political figures are responding to the worrying statistics.

Between March 2021 and March 2022, British Home Office figures reveal that there were 8,447 offenses committed across the West Midlands that were believed to be exacerbated by religious intolerances or racism. This is the highest number on record with a shocking 57% increase from the previous year and 98% higher from before the pandemic.

Last year's crimes include 1,065 offenses of racially or religiously aggravated assault without injury (up from 633 in 2020-2021), 546 crimes of assault with injury (up from 273), and 1,704 offenses of harassment (up from 764). Lastly, although none were recorded in 2020-2021, there were 241 crimes of racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage last year.

The majority of the offenses included crimes causing racially or religiously aggravated public fear, alarm, or distress. There were 4,891 of these offenses recorded in the West Midlands last year compared to 3,717 offenses recorded the previous year. Racially or religiously aggravated crimes across the West Midlands were most likely committed in Birmingham.

There were 2,472 racially or religiously aggravated crimes committed in Birmingham last year, including 561 assaults. Compared to the population size, this means there are roughly 372 crimes for every 100,000 residents.

Community leaders respond to worrying statistics
Community groups and political figures in Birmingham have expressed concern over these figures.

Bob Maloney, a member of Stand Up To Racism Birmingham, conveyed in an interview with BirminghamWorld News that the figures were very concerning.

“I think the figures are very disturbing. I think looking at the big picture, one of the problems is that there’s a lot of factors which have cranked up the whole issue of racism,” said Maloney.

“I think in terms of factors in the West Midlands, it probably reflects that we have some of the most deprived boroughs in the country bar none, and I think some of these things feed into these statistics, and it’s very concerning. We should all be paying attention to this and looking to work with whatever organisations we can work with about what we can do to address this.”
Israeli EMTs teach Chicago faith groups to handle attacks
Members of Magen David Adom (MDA) – Israel’s version of the Red Cross – flew to Chicago to train faith communities how to respond during the first seven minutes in the case of a terror attack.

A team from MDA, Israel’s national emergency medical and blood-services organization, was invited to the Windy City after the recent Highland Park shooting that killed six innocent bystanders – adding to the tragic list of terror attacks on public and religious institutions in the United States.

MDA paramedics conducted training sessions at faith centers across Chicago from September 12-14.

More than just a first-aid course, “First 7 Minutes” provides participants with the ability to initiate care while ensuring people’s safety.

First 7 Minutes director Rafael Herbst, a senior MDA paramedic and instructor, said that while it was not possible to know when violence might strike, those who participated in the course would “know what to do when it does.”

“Magen David Adom [teams] are world experts in responding to tragic events and saving lives,” said Rabbi Aaron Braun, who hosted the September 12 interfaith training session at the Northbrook Community Synagogue.

Braun said he was proud to be able to share this expertise with his own congregation and the larger community.
Visit Tel Aviv Museum of Art Virtually – On Minecraft
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art has launched a full digital replica of its museum complex in Minecraft, the world’s most popular computer game.

Players can wander through the digitized version of the museum’s buildings to see over 100 selected works of art, and even discover corridors and lesser-known places in the museum.

They can also participate in weekly challenges to recreate the museum’s works of art in game, and their creations will be displayed in a special complex of the actual museum.

Participants receive four tickets and are invited to physically visit the museum with family members or friends to see their work displayed.

There are also prizes to encourage participation – the winning creators will be chosen to receive a Nintendo Switch.

The event, in collaboration with the Israel Entertainment Gaming channel and leading gamers in Israel, lasts eight weeks.

Tal Gur Nozik, Marketing Director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and project lead, said: “The virtual version of the museum in Minecraft is the ideal way to expose and make the museum accessible to a young audience, who is one of our strategic target audiences.

“Minecraft is the most popular and successful game in the world and is also an educational game. There are about half a million players aged 10-24 in Israel..

“This is an innovative and unique project, which will give us huge exposure to a new audience in Israel and abroad.

“The Minecraft project joins the groundbreaking moves the Tel Aviv Museum of Art has done in recent years with an emphasis on digital innovation and leading the concept that the online world is a complementary experience to visiting the museum in person.”
Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv tournament for 89th title
Novak Djokovic won his third trophy of 2022 and the 89th of his career at the Aviv Watergen Open on Sunday, defeating Marin Cilic in straight sets.

Djokovic, 35, won 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli title to his successes in Rome and Wimbledon this season.

It was the Serbian's 19th victory over Croatia's Cilic in 21 encounters dating back to 2008.

He was barred from the US Open and the entire North American hard court season due to his unwillingness to get immunized against the coronaviru

Djokovic was competing in his first singles competition since winning his seventh Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam in July.

Israeli self-driving tech firm Mobileye, purchased by Intel in 2017, files for IPO
Mobileye, the Israeli self-driving tech firm purchased by Intel in 2017, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, amid one of the most challenging years for the tech IPO market in nearly two decades.

The company, which produces adaptive cruise control and lane change assistance technology in driverless cars, as well as driver assistance technology in manually driven cars, was originally expected to be valued at over $50 billion.

But soaring inflation and other adverse market conditions have led Intel to reevaluate the company’s evaluation at around $30 billion, a Bloomberg report said.

Still, a $30 billion evaluation would make Mobileye’s IPO one of the biggest to take place in the US this year.

According to Reuters, public listings in the US have raised just over $7 billion so far this year, compared to a whopping $154 billion throughout 2021.

A successful IPO could also encourage other big companies that have postponed their IPOs earlier this year to make the next step. Such companies, according to Reuters, include Instacart, Reddit and ServiceTitan.

Filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 30, Mobileye presented its increased revenue over the years.

“We have experienced significant growth since our founding. For 2021, 2020, and 2019, our revenue was $1.4 billion, $967 million, and $879 million, respectively, representing year-over-year growth of 43%,” the statement read.
Where birds find a restful oasis in urban Tel Aviv
It’s mid-morning and around 20 serious birdwatching enthusiasts are seated in the observatory hide in Tel Aviv’s Rosh Tzipor (Bird’s Head) Park.

A row of binoculars and impressively long camera lenses are aimed at the lake where a white-throated kingfisher is diving for its next meal and a cormorant flies gracefully overhead.

Most of the group have been on the watch since 6am and seem satisfied with the day’s sightings of seven different bird species. In November this will increase dramatically when 500 million birds of at least 150 species from Europe migrate through Israel to Africa.

The foremost aim of the Birdwatching Center in this 32-dunam (8-acre) forest, situated in Ganei Yehoshua Park, was to create a natural habitat for migratory birds so they can rest and get the nutrition they need to gather strength for the next leg of their flight.

Completed in 2018, this area of lush vegetation was until four years ago covered with orange groves that had completely destroyed the natural biosphere.

Nature dominates
The secret to this ecological regeneration, says manager Liran Kaniel, “is that we concentrated on the needs of the birds and less on the human element. You can see pedestrian footpaths are kept to a minimum so that nature dominates. The three observation hides are discreetly placed so the birds are not disturbed while they feed and rest.”

Kaniel, a landscape architect, says when he started on the project five years ago, he was meticulous in choosing trees and plants native to the area that can survive on rainwater alone.

One example is the rare red papyrus that lines the marshland and was obtained from Tel Aviv University’s Botanical Garden. A dragonfly shell on a blade of tall marshland grass at Rosh Tzipor. Photo by Natalie Selvin

All the 10 dunams of water at the reserve are biofiltered with no addition of chemicals, Kaniel emphasizes, “and canals with step elevations were constructed to keep the water circulating and oxygenated.”
Gold coins dating to Muslim conquest of Jerusalem found in northern Israel
A hidden cache of 44 gold coins dating from the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem was recently found during an archaeological excavation at the site of the ancient city of Banias, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed on Monday.

Several of the coins were dated to the reigns of Emperor Phocas (602–610) and Emperor Heraclius (610-641), the latter of which overlapped with the Muslim conquest of Byzantine Palestine in 635.

“The coin hoard, weighing about 170 grams … reflects a specific moment in time, when we can imagine the owner concealing his fortune in the threat of war, hoping to return one day to retrieve his property. In retrospect, we know that he was less fortunate,” said Yoav Lerer, who directed the excavation on behalf of the IAA.

Banias, which is located within the Hermon River nature reserve, was first established by Canaanites and reached its peak in the Early Roman period, when Herod the Great and his son Philip II entirely rebuilt the city and named it Caesarea Philippi, in honor of Roman Emperor Augustus.

According to Christian tradition, Banias is where Peter the Apostle recognized Jesus as the messiah and thereafter received the keys to the kingdom of heaven, as recounted in Matthew 16:18.

Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said of the discovery: “The coin hoard is an extremely significant archaeological find as it dates to an important transitional period in the history of the city of Banias and the entire region of the Levant. The Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the National Parks Authority, will work together to exhibit the treasure to the public.”

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