Thursday, October 06, 2022

From Ian:

Phantom Fantasia in the Middle East
Decades of impeccable PR and global gullibility have enabled many to bizarrely believe there once was an Arab nation called Palestine, with the people in it known as Palestinians. Yet there never has been an Arab nation-state called Palestine. At the time of Israel's founding, in 1948, the word Palestinian did not describe a distinct Arab people. In fact, the word, created by the ancient Romans, referred to Jews. Jews have been living continuously in what is today Israel since the time of the Jewish patriarchs of the Old Testament.

Palestine is more an idea than an actual place, the magical thinking of a country that never existed. Hocus-pocus political history. Palestinian inclusion within the vortex of intersectional grievances is laughable given how Sharia-observant Palestinians, especially in Gaza, feel about women, gays, the transgender, cultural and academic freedom, religious diversity, free speech, and the rule of law. Palestinian rejection of five separate offers of statehood since 1947 is never mentioned.

Nothing was stolen from the Palestinians. They are stateless because they never had a state - not because they were denied one, or had one taken away. Indeed, it's not at all clear whether they actually want one. For a people with no national currency, political history, sustained leadership, defined borders, or even a gross national product aside from terrorism, Palestinians have nonetheless created the illusion of a homeland lost to Jewish land-grabbers. But hate does not a nation make.
We grew up from childhood hating, cursing Jews
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ensaf Haidar. I am the wife of Raif Badawi, a prisoner of conscience who is now serving his seventh year behind dark, cold prison walls in Saudi Arabia.

We were taught in the Arab world that the Holocaust was just a big lie. It was only when we grew up and opened ourselves to the world of ideas and humanity that we discovered Jews are in fact human beings, and good people, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ensaf Haidar. I am the wife of Raif Badawi, a prisoner of conscience who is now serving his seventh year behind dark, cold prison walls in Saudi Arabia.

Two days after the horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre, my husband was dragged from his jail cell in Jeddah, brought to a square in front of Al-Jafali Mosque, and administered the first phase – 50 lashes – of a public flogging.

His crime? His indictment says he was guilty of “insulting Islam” and “producing what would disturb public order, religious values and morals.” His real crime, in fact, can be summarized in one sentence: He believed in his fundamental right to express his opinion.

Freedom of expression is at the heart of Raif’s case.

Also central to his case is Raif’s vision of a different future for his country and region; a future based on our shared humanity; one based on acceptance, respect and mutual understanding; one that aspires for peace in the region.

Central to this vision is an end to the discourse of hatred that we have learned in our childhood, mainstreamed by extremist religious dogmas and cynical governmental exploitation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
New Nobel laureate Annie Ernaux's repeatedly supported BDS
French writer Annie Ernaux, who won the Nobel prize in literature on Thursday, has been a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement.

In May 2019, Ernaux signed a letter along with over 100 other French artists calling for a boycott of the Eurovision song contest as it was being held in Tel Aviv. The artists also called for the France Television to not broadcast the event. Ernaux opposed French-Israeli cultural cooperation

In 2018, the author signed a letter alongside about 80 other artists expressing outrage at the holding of the Israel France cross-cultural season by the Israeli and French governments. The letter claimed that the season helped to "whitewash" the image of the State of Israel.

"It is a moral obligation for any person of conscience to refuse the normalization of relations with the State of Israel," read the letter.

Ernaux called for Lebanese terrorist to be released from prison
Ernaux has also signed a letter calling for the release of Georges Abdallah, a Lebanese militant who co-founded the Lebanese Revolutionary Armed Factions in 1980 and was sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 assassinations of US military attaché Lt.-Col. Charles R. Ray and Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov.

The letter the French author signed describes Ray and Bar-Simantov as "active Mossad and CIA agents" and Abdallah as "committed to the Palestinian people and against colonization."

A Message to UC Berkeley: We Are Zionists because We Are Jews
As I write this, 81 years have passed since Jews were murdered at Babi Yar. There, they showed up as their full selves. At Babi Yar, Jews came as Jews. They came to be murdered because they were Jews.

There, they had no choice — no one told them Jews could stay home but “all Zionists of the city of Kiev and its vicinity must appear on Monday, September 29, 1941 at 8 a.m. at the corner of Melnikova and Dokhterivskaya streets [next to the cemetery].” There, they came as their full selves; there, they perished as their full selves.

Today, everyone celebrates dead Jews. And in this tenuous festivity, we cast down our eyes, and show up, but never as our full selves. But here’s the caveat: as my mother, who was told to “go back to Palestine” by her Soviet Russian co-worker, says: “when they say Zionist, they mean Jew.”

That’s why when you’re the only Jew in your class or among friends and Israel is brought up, everyone turns to you — the Jew. That’s why when you, post “Shabbat Shalom” on your Instagram, the likelihood that someone will comment “#FreePalestine” is almost guaranteed. And finally, it’s why synagogues and Hillels are vandalized with the slogan “Free Palestine.”

Because when they say Zionist, they mean you — Jew.

Some will say this is a legal struggle, others will say it’s a moment ripe for Jewish civil rights. All are correct. I say this is our moment — our moment to show up as our full selves. Yes, we pray toward Jerusalem, yes we break the glass under the wedding canopy to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, no we cannot cultivate land in the Diaspora as we would in Israel, yes we say “next year in Jerusalem” at the end of the Passover seder.

We are Jews, because we are Zionists; we are Zionists because we are Jews.
Academic Israel-haters throw a fit over Israel Studies
After decades of having the field to themselves, it’s not surprising that Israel’s academic critics are throwing tantrums over the development of the field of Israel Studies. They seem equally outraged that donors are contributing to academics who find redeeming qualities in the Jewish state. In the left-wing publication Jewish Currents, they were recently given a chance to vent against me and others who have worked to introduce students to something other than one-sided demonization of Israel by faculty.

In “The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies,” Mari Cohen wrote, “Much of the enthusiasm for Israel studies was stoked by one organization, the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), whose crusading director Mitchell Bard saw as his mission to improve Israel’s image on campus.”

Guilty as charged.

Cohen quoted a Brandeis University evaluation that found AICE’s effort to encourage interest in Israel Studies has been successful. For example, “At a prestigious private university, the department chair explained that the presence of the [AICE visiting professor] showcased the need within the department to bring on a full-time faculty member.” Indeed, our work has been the catalyst for creating at least 14 chairs, centers and programs in Israel Studies. Sadly, the momentum we created came to a halt when we lost our funding.

Critics in the article attacked AICE for seeking to increase the number of courses about Israel that don’t focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As I told Cohen, we wanted to “change the perception of Israel as simply a place of conflict” and did so by bringing in professors from 16 disciplines.

The new field of Israel Studies was needed because many Middle East Studies departments reject Israel as a legitimate part of the Middle East. It is not surprising, then, that these programs have become home to vitriolic critics whose animus toward Israel is reflected in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)’s endorsement of anti-Israel boycotts. We sought to counter this pervasive bias and hate.
University accused of censoring student’s film on David Miller
A Scottish university has been accused of suppressing a documentary made by a Jewish student exposing disgraced academic David Miller, the JC can reveal.

Eliana Silver, who graduated this summer with an undergraduate degree in journalism from Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, was given a poor grade and told not to make her film public because it could be defamatory.

Media lawyer Mark Lewis criticised the decision, telling the JC: “We have entered into an Alice in Wonderland world, where academic bastions of free speech are advising students not to speak freely.

“This is a classic example of a chilling effect where someone is told not to express their idea in case they get sued.”

Barrister Jonathan Turner, from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), said the film’s publication would be in the public interest and therefore permitted under the Defamation Act 2013.

Ms Silver is now considering appealing to a higher education regulator.

She decided to examine anti-Jewish racism at British universities because it is a “passion” of hers to expose it.

Her supervisor did not seem to object to the idea, she said, but made a point of telling her: “Make sure you are careful.”

Earlier this year, Ms Silver interviewed students across the UK who had experienced antisemitism on campus. In Glasgow, she spoke to a Jewish student who discussed the university’s failure to acknowledge Jewish holidays, and antisemitic hate speech she had received on social media.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Israel Considers Kidnapping Uighurs: Regimes That Do So Have Their Abuses Ignored (satire)
Ministry of Defense officials refused to deny reports today that the Jewish State’s international intelligence and operations arm has granted preliminary approval to a plan that calls for the capture and imprisonment in hard conditions of a sect of Muslims living mainly in China, where the government there has placed thousands of those Muslims in “reeducation” and concentration camps rife with torture and human rights violations, and has faced no material backlash from the rest of the world for those policies – prompting thoughts here that the Mossad might try to immunize itself against the constant torrent of international criticism by following the same path.

High-level diplomatic and intelligence figures in Israel provided no counterindication when asked about the likelihood of an Uighur-kidnapping initiative; the refusal to deny the existence of such an operation, however preliminary its status, has sparked speculation in analyst circles regarding when, rather than whether, such a move might take place in the coming months. An analyst familiar with Israel’s intelligence processes assessed the motive for the measure as an attempt to prevent Israel-bashing: China perpetrates mass-incarceration and torture of Uighurs, and faces no real international censure economically, diplomatically, or culturally, neither for those abuses nor for its numerous other repressive and oppressive policies. Some Israeli officials, the analyst explained, proposed doing just as China does, and perhaps then the disproportionate negative attention Israel gets from NGOs and hostile groups will dissipate.

“It’s sound thinking,” observed the analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to compromise his sources in the Mossad, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The main challenge, as I see it, lies in gaining penetration into Uighur areas of China to conduct the abductions, and then the extractions. The imprisonment and torture parts I think fall on the easier side of things, once the Uighurs are ‘safely’ in Israel.”
The Nation’s UN Correspondent Publishes Rank Antisemitism and Blatant Lies
The United Nations is an infamous hotbed of antisemitism and disinformation. Sometimes, as is the case with an October 2nd article by Barbara Crossette, that antisemitism and disinformation extends to those journalists who cover the UN.

Barbara Crossette is the UN correspondent for The Nation, having previously served as the New York Times bureau chief at the UN. She also happens to be the senior consulting editor for PassBlue a specialized news outlet focused on the United Nations, typically read by UN staff, foreign affairs specialists, diplomats, and academics.

The article at issue was published at PassBlue, perhaps suggesting it was too offensive and inaccurate even for The Nation, known for its “Palestine correspondent,” the notoriously antisemitic Mohammed El-Kurd.

Crossette’s story focuses on the canceling of an event in Germany that was meant to honor Navi Pillay, chair of a highly controversial UN commission of inquiry targeting Israel. The article works to cast Pillay as a victim of a devious Israeli machinations, and in doing so, Crossette combines classic conspiracy theories about Jews with blatant disinformation.

Start with the open antisemitism. Crossette’s piece claims the event was canceled because of “an Israeli campaign.” That “Israel lobbying campaign” began, according to Crossette, “with an article in the pro-Israeli German tabloid Bild.” The Bild article in question was authored by Filipp Piatov, a German Jew and head of opinion at Bild. No evidence is proffered to suggest that Piatov was acting at the direction of the State of Israel.

Labeling an opinion article by a German Jew as part of an “Israel lobbying campaign” is a straightforward example of the dual loyalty trope. It is to suggest that when a Jewish person of any nationality has an opinion favorable to Israel, they must be acting as agents of the State of Israel.

Crossette then goes on to conceal the antisemitism of Pillay and her fellow commissioner, Miloon Kothari.

Crossette claims Pillay has been “accused by the Israelis, without evidence, of being part of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS).”
Reuters Corrects Erroneous ‘Palestine’ Language
CAMERA’s Israel office this week prompted correction of an erroneous reference to Palestine in a Reuters article on the dispute between Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s concerning ice cream sales in the West Bank (“Ben & Jerry’s says parent co Unilever ‘covertly’ took trademarks,” Oct. 1).

Contrary to Reuters style, the article had originally stated: “A judge in August rejected Ben & Jerry’s bid to immediately stop sales in Palestine, saying the manufacturer did not show it would suffer irreparable harm.”

References to modern “Palestine” in the West Bank and Gaza are inaccurate, and those areas should be referred to as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or, when referring to West Bank areas under control of the Palestinian Authority, “Palestinian Authority territories.” In this case, Ben & Jerry’s said its boycott would target the “Israeli-occupied West Bank,” presumably including both Israeli settlements and areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.

In response to communication from CAMERA, Reuters editors commendably amended the article Oct. 3, which now accurately states: “A judge in August rejected Ben & Jerry’s bid to immediately stop sales in the West Bank … ” Contrary to common journalistic practice, including at Reuters, no note is appending alerting readers to the change.
Regaining Israel’s Deterrence on the Media Battlefield
One year short of five decades after Israel was attacked on Yom Kippur on the military battlefield, HonestReporting was attacked on the media battlefield on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

At 1:33 PM Israel time, when our team was off observing the holiday, former New York Times freelance photographer Hosam Salem posted on Twitter that he had been fired a month earlier due to our reports about his social media posts.

“After years of covering the Gaza Strip as a freelance photojournalist for The New York Times, I was informed via an abrupt phone call from the US outlet that they will no longer work with me in the future,” he wrote, in a post that has already received more than 50,000 likes.

He portrayed himself as “expressing support for the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation” and warned of what he called “a systematic effort to distort the image of Palestinian journalists as being incapable of trustworthiness and integrity, simply because we cover the human rights violations that the Palestinian people undergo on a daily basis at hands of the Israeli army.”

HonestReporting’s editorial team could only respond when Yom Kippur ended, but those 50,000 people have had time to check what “resistance” Salem was referring to and realize that his claims cannot be further from the truth.

Many Palestinian journalists are capable, worthy of trust and integrity, and they should continue covering the plight of their people and the challenges posed to them by the Israel Defense Forces, just as other journalists from around the world do on a daily basis.

What journalists of any ethnicity or background should not do is call for the murder of innocent people of any faith or praise such actions in any forum, as Salem repeatedly did on Facebook.
BBC News website makes a tardy correction
Back in June we documented a BBC News website report which failed to provide adequate information on its topic of remarks made by a Labour councillor in the UK:

As noted at the time:
“…rather than accurately reporting Mohammed Iqbal’s comments in a manner that would enable readers to understand why he has been suspended pending investigation, the BBC instead chose to paraphrase his remarks in a vague way that hinders comprehension.”

CAMERA UK submitted a complaint concerning that report two days after its publication. On June 20th we were informed that it would take more time to address the issue and on July 11th the BBC contacted us to say that the time frame had expired.

On October 4th – nearly four months after the complaint was made – we received the following response:

Natan Sharansky appointed chair of Combat Antisemitism Movement
Former deputy prime minister of Israel and chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky has accepted the position of chairman of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) board of advisors.

“I am very pleased to be joining as chair of the Combat Antisemitism Movement advisory board, which has become one of the most effective organizations in fighting antisemitism, bringing disparate groups to the table and pushing for the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,” Sharansky said. “It is a very tenuous time for Jews around the world because of rising hate emanating from multiple directions and ideologies.

"We are at a tipping point where antisemitism has become respectable and acceptable and many of its perpetrators do not even realize they are being antisemitic, that is why the struggle for international recognition of the IHRA definition is very important.

“It has become worryingly comfortable and even praiseworthy to hold positions on Jews or Jewish collectivity that would not be acceptable against any other people or minority. This is antisemitism and we need to combat it together with allies and friends and that is what CAM is doing so effectively.”

Who is Natan Sharansky?
Sharansky is possibly best known as a human rights leader, a former Prisoner of Zion and a leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. He is a recipient of the Israel Prize for promoting aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles.

Sharansky is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. He is the only living non-American citizen who is the recipient of these two highest American awards.
Jews make up less than 1 per cent of UK population but a quarter of all hate crimes
Official hate crime statistics published Thursday by the Home Office show that despite making up a tiny fraction of the UK population, Jews were the victims of nearly a quarter of all hate crimes.

The report also showed that between March 2021 and March 2022, there were 1,919 hate crimes targeting Jews, an increase of 49 per cent from the previous year.

Antisemitic hate crimes accounted for 23 per cent of all religious hate crimes in the UK, despite being less than 1 per cent of the total religious population.
The 1,919 figure is almost triple that of the 672 antisemitic hate crimes recorded in 2017/2018.

It is believed, as has previously been the case with other periods of Israeli conflict, that this dramatic increase was due to the flaring of hostilities between Israel and Gaza in May of 2021.

Outside of antisemitic incidents, overall religious hate crimes increased by 37 per cent (to 8,730 offences) from the previous year (6,383 offences) and this year also saw the largest number of religious hate crimes since recording began in 2012.

Home Office chart showing the rise in hate crimes since records began in 2012

Jews were the second most commonly targeted religious group behind Muslims with Buddhists being the victims of the fewest number of hate crimes last year.
Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in Britain
There are about 290,000 Jews in the UK or 0.4% of the population. It's odd, then, how much attention we continue to attract: and not of the good kind.

A recent survey by Hope Not Hate, a charitable trust that campaigns against racism and fascism, found that 1/3 of the British population believe anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

34% of those 18-24 said that it was "probably" or "definitely true" that Jews have excessive influence over global finance.

I get the sense that people are bored of hearing Jews go on about anti-Semitism; it's far worse than boring to be its target - and it doesn't seem, after millennia of this most tenacious, deadly ism, there is any let-up in sight.
‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ remains witness to the horrors of the Nazi genocide and their willing collaborators
Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius (Vilna), is a thriving European city where young couples push babies in strollers down “Jewish Street” now lined with cafe tables. In one courtyard, where Jewish families once lived, a bright yellow Porsche is parked amid the crumbling pre-war brick walls.

Like many other such European cities, Vilnius retains a dark past. While the Nazis wiped out most of its Jewish inhabitants, channeling them first through two ghettos and then killing them in the nearby Ponary Forest, they didn’t accomplish their heinous crime alone. Lithuanian citizens are well-documented pre-empting Nazi aktions and participating in them directly. While this is an uncomfortable narrative for Lithuania’s youth today, it must be told so future generations understand that “never again” not only means the Jewish people will never again remain defenseless, but that the average person must never again sink to such low levels of hatred and bestiality as many Lithuanian citizens did in World War II.

Famed Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel himself once argued that the Lithuanians had been part of the problem, not the solution. Michael MacQueen, chief of Investigative Research in the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), where he investigates crimes committed in German-occupied Lithuania, Belorussia and Poland, illustrated through case studies that Lithuanians were willing and often eager to collaborate in the “Final Solution.” He detailed several factors motivating those directly involved in killing Jews and noted that many killings and lootings occurred in rural villages, where Lithuanians often inflicted brutal violence on their longtime Jewish neighbors, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“While the guiding hand was almost invariably German, in a high percentage of cases, the bloody hand of the murderer was Lithuanian,” MacQueen wrote.

The Soviet suppression of crimes against Jews, both by Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators, was documented by Masha Rolnick, who wrote I Must Tell, a diary of the life of a 14-year-old girl in the Vilna Ghetto.

According to Nora Levin in her book The Holocaust, “Three hundred Lithuanians were found to serve on Einsatzgruppe A. At the climax of the mass shootings of Jews, there were eight Lithuanians to every German in Stahlecker’s firing squads…Altogether 136,421 people were liquidated in a great number of single actions… By the end of December 1941, 30,000 Jews in Vilna had been killed.”

Israeli-Japanese collaboration brings e-bike service to Nigeria and Ghana
Israeli company SIXAI and Japanese auto and motorcycle parts manufacturer Musashi Seimitsu have announced a joint plan to produce and lease millions of battery-powered motorcycles and auto-rickshaws in Nigeria and Ghana.

The vehicles will offer a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternative to drivers.

The move is intended as a first step toward a broader expansion into Africa, where motorcycles serve as a primary mode of transportation. Pilot projects will start in early 2023, followed by full-scale local assembly in new plants in Abuja and Accra, with plans for additional assembly locations in Nigeria.

Out with the old, in with the new
“Motorcycle use is widespread in Africa, creating air and noise pollution, as well as the mass consumption of costly gasoline,” said SIXAI’s deputy CEO Sassi Shilo. “We offer commercial motorists a cheaper and cleaner option. Our business model is based on battery charging and swapping, not motorcycle sales.”

The business model is similar to the rentable scooter models seen in cities in Israel and the US: the electric motorcycles will be available to lease, with swappable batteries that will be available from cabinets attached to the electrical grid, that are to be dispersed nationwide at gas stations, near shopping centers and at other gathering points.

Local partners in Nigeria and Ghana will manage operations of the battery swap sites, where drivers will use autopay on a proprietary SIXAI mobile app to pay for the replacement of depleted batteries at these stations.
Boeing turns to Israeli start-up for platform to 3D print aircraft and space station parts
Israeli 3D-printing software company Assembrix Ltd. has signed an agreement with Boeing, the monolithic aerospace company, committing to the development of a platform that will enable 3D-printed production of parts.

The agreement was signed as part of an existing industrial cooperation agreement between Boeing and the Economy Ministry’s Industrial Cooperation Authority, which helped to connect the companies. This latest move is a continuation of a previous agreement that was signed several years ago with Assembrix, which allows Boeing to manage and protect its intellectual property that is exposed to suppliers in the various stages of production.

3D Printing
Assembrix has developed a cloud-based platform that completely virtualizes the process of 3D printing. The company’s Virtual Manufacturing Space platform enables a simpler, more efficient and secure production process by remotely controlling each step of the printing process, from designing to printing.

“We are excited to expand and deepen our partnership with a major player like Boeing and consider it very important to continue this collaboration for the benefit of various industries that adopt the technology,” Assembrix CEO Lior Polak said. “The entrepreneurial spirit and approach to innovation on the part of the two companies creates a tremendous contribution in advancing 3D [printing] around the world.”

According to Avi Barber, vice president of Boeing Mds (missile defense systems) in Israel, Boeing’s agreement with Assembrix is indicative of the company’s growing interest in collaborating with small- and medium-sized businesses “and not just large companies as it was in the past.”
The Tel Aviv beach musician discovered by Maroon 5
When Maroon 5 performed in Israel last May, lead vocalist Adam Levine brought an unknown artist up on stage to sing the band’s hit “Sunday Mornings” with him at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park to an audience at 70,000.

He introduced her as “That street musician who did not know that I would come knocking at her door and have her come play with us.”

Levine described how Coral Bismuth’s voice came wafting up to his hotel balcony overlooking Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv.

In the street below Levine’s hotel, Bismuth was performing covers as she has done every Saturday for the past four years. Her versatile repertoire ranges from folk to R&B and soul.

Levine recalled that she “played for hours, and I couldn’t get enough, such a soulful, beautiful voice. And then she started playing one of our songs, ‘Sunday Morning,’ and she killed that. So I asked her to come perform.”

“He videoed me and put it up on his Instagram story,” Bismuth explains. “He invited me by Instagram to appear with him that evening [at the Maroon 5 concert].”

Of finding herself on that stage, “There are really no words to describe that moment,” she says. “It was like cutting through boundaries.”

She belted out the first few verses of “Sunday Morning” solo, as Levine gave her the spotlight before joining in.

“I felt that many people were inspired by my story,” says Bismuth.

“It touched them that if you believe with all your heart, with love, and you make your efforts; in the end, the Universe pays attention to you. Something happens. Some call it a quantum leap. For me it was a dream come true. The winds enjoyed my prayers.”
Over 2,000 Christians to arrive to Jerusalem for Feast of Tabernacles
Over 2,000 Christians from 70 countries will travel to Jerusalem between the 9th and 16th of October to take part in the 43rd annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration.

The event, which is said to be both the largest Christian gathering and largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).

The event will also highlight the anticipated return of Christian tourism to the Jewish state after two years of travel bans to the country as a result of the pandemic.

What was tourism in Israel like before COVID?
Before COVID-19 hit Israel, Christians made up 55% of all tourism in 2019, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Of the Christians that visited, 28% of them were Evangelicals - which also made up 13% of all tourism. When the pandemic began the following year, tourism dropped from 4.5 million in 2019 to 831,500 – which is 81% less.

The ICEJ’s Feast will begin at the Sea of Galilee, then go on to the Capernaum National Park for two days and then will end in Jerusalem.

The Israeli tourism industry is expected to largely recover with the return of Christian visitors.
Film lauds WWII partisan chief who found Hitler’s V2s, died in Israel in obscurity
Leonid Berenshtein’s life story fascinated director Roman Shumunov from the moment he first learned about it. A Soviet Jew, born in Ukraine, Berenshtein became a legendary partisan commander during World War II.

In 1944, he located a factory that produced Hitler’s dreaded secret weapon, the V2 rocket. The factory was subsequently bombed by the Red Army, delivering a key blow to the Third Reich. Decades later, Berenshtein relocated to Israel.

The former battalion commander’s story is shared in Georgian-Israeli director Shumunov’s new eponymous docudrama film, “Berenshtein.”

“I was sitting with a man who was responsible for great, internationally significant things in the Second World War that changed the whole outcome of the war,” Shumunov told The Times of Israel about his interviews with the war hero, who died in 2019 at the age of 98.

He added, “When I met him, he was 95 years old. He lived in a very, very small apartment, one-and-a-half bedrooms. No one knew anything about him — in Israel, in his neighborhood, no one. It was a little bit crazy, it was very weird. When I met him, he started to tell his story.”

Originally conceived as a documentary, the project switched to the docudrama genre and lasted about four years, challenging its director, cast and crew alike.

“It was not a regular old project,” Shumunov said. “It was not like we had a big budget for shooting that could be edited. No, it was completely different. We did it in a different way.”

Filming took place in Ukraine, and Shumanov ended up with footage of “a lot of seasons,” he said. “We had snow, we had rain, we had summer, we had autumn… all of our characters passed the same four years during the shooting… like the real characters during the war.”

The final version features interviews with the real-life Berenshtein in his apartment in Kiryat Ata, as well as depictions of his wartime career, with actor Yaroslav Kucherenko playing the younger version of the protagonist. The elderly Berenshtein is shown with his caretaker and fellow Ukrainian native, Olga Proskyrenko. He reflects on a remarkable military career that began with the Battle of Kyiv in 1941 and culminated with his discovery of the V2 factory three years later, which had an impact beyond the war, as it was a key building block of the space programs of both the US and USSR.

Describing the V2 as the first ballistic rocket in the war, Shumunov said, “I think it was very important to find this rocket.”

In June 1944, British prime minister Winston Churchill wrote to Soviet premier Joseph Stalin urging Stalin to help the Allies locate the factory. The Third Reich had been bombing London with V2s.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 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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