Thursday, October 20, 2022

From Ian:

Gil Troy: For Israel’s 75th Birthday, Hollywood Should Raise a Toast
Now that the High Holy Days are over, let’s start planning what should be the most hyped holiday of this year: Israel’s 75th birthday. Although Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, its diamond jubilee celebration will be, by the Hebrew calendar, on April 26, 2023, 189 days from today. Although only six months remain to figure out how to celebrate the greatest modern Jewish miracle, few Jewish organizations or Israeli leaders seem to have noticed or started planning.

Last May, I tried triggering some brainstorming about how to celebrate this culmination of the arc of Zionist triumph: starting last August with the Zionist Congress’s 125th anniversary, building through this November 29, with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations’ 1947 recognition of Israel and culminating with Israel’s 75th birthday. Celebrating those three moments toasts the idea of a Jewish state, the world’s recognition of that idea and Israel’s realization of that noble, liberating idea.

As the date approaches, I become more dismayed by the organizational and political torpor, and as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attacks metastasize, it’s clear that we need our friends in Hollywood to help make this moment.

The war against Israel and the Jewish people is now a cultural war. When there is so much hatred against what Israel is, not just what Israel does, when bash-Israel-first has become an instinctive posture, an obsessive pursuit and a shorthand for proving yourself to others, the battleground must shift. I still advocate the Zionist salons, Israeli historical exhibitions, Diamond Jubilee Presidential medals, Zionized haggadot and ice-cream-for-breakfast-eating initiatives I championed last spring.

But in our wired world, where American adults average 11 hours of interacting with media daily and four and a half of those hours being entertained, the pro-Israel entertainment community must mobilize. It may be wise, as in baseball to hit ‘em where they ain’t, in celebrating Israel. We’ve got to reach them where they are.

In that spirit, I offer two suggestions modeled on two successful initiatives. We need 75 Israel jubilee minutes in Hebrew, English, French, and Spanish, modeled on America’s Bicentennial Minutes and the Charles R. Bronfman Foundation’s (CRB) Canadian Heritage Moments. These Israeli history snippets should culminate in a big, brassy, schmaltzy celebration of Israel, modeled on the Saturday Night Seder thrown together in two weeks during 2020’s COVID lockdown, which attracted over a million viewers when streamed on its own website and on YouTube that Passover.
Demand for probe into BBC coverage of Jews and Israel
The JC is launching a public online petition today demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of Jews and Israel.

The move comes after a string of controversial stories by the BBC caused concern in the Jewish community — followed by BBC responses that only deepened that concern.

This week, the BBC admitted unfairly criticising Israel in a report on the beheading of a gay Palestinian by other Palestinians. And six weeks ago, an open letter to BBC Director-General Tim Davie demanding impartiality on Jewish issues was ignored.

Delivered in September, the landmark letter was signed by politicians from both Labour and the Conservatives, from both houses of Parliament, with Jewish groups and public figures.

It also requested the corporation to stop repeatedly hosting Abdel Bari Atwan, an Islamist pundit who has frequently praised terrorism.

Its 36 signatories included former Tory leader Lord (Michael) Howard, the government’s former terror czar Lord (Alex) Carlile and former BBC governor Baroness (Ruth) Deech, as well as historians Simon Sebag Montefiore and the newly-ennobled Andrew Roberts and playwright Steven Berkoff.

“We urge you urgently to take cogent and coherent steps to rectify this worrying trend across your platforms as a matter of the utmost urgency, and look forward to your swift confirmation that this is being done,” the message said.

But the BBC has not replied. At the beginning of September, a BBC spokesperson told the JC: “We’ll get something to you in due course.” There has been no further communication.

It followed the BBC’s contested coverage of an attack on Jewish youngsters on Oxford Street last Chanukah, which reported as fact the disputed allegation that the victims had used a racial slur. The BBC’s reaction to complaints triggered an ongoing probe by Ofcom.
£30,000 reward offered to catch Oxford Street attackers
Jewish groups in Britain are offering a reward of £30,000 (nearly $34,000) to find those responsible for an attack on a busload of Jewish teenagers in Central London during Chanukah last year.

The move comes after the Metropolitan Police Service closed its investigation without identifying any suspects.

The young passengers, a Chabad group of British Jews and Israelis from northwest London, were on the bus on Oxford Street during holiday celebrations in November 2021 when a group of Arab men began yelling and banging on the vehicles. As video of the incident showed, the men even tried breaking the windows and gave a Nazi salute.

No one was injured in the attack and police began an investigation, calling the incident a hate crime.

In a statement given to the Jewish News in the U.K. earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police said they had received tips as to who the assailants were, however, “the only names provided in response to those appeals have been eliminated from our inquiries. The identity of those involved is still unknown. A decision was taken in July to close the case.

“Hate crime of any kind is unacceptable,” the police said in the statement. “Should new information come to light that provides a realistic line of inquiry, we will of course be willing to carry out further investigation.”

Daniel B. Shapiro: To Build on the Abraham Accords, Look to Southeast Asia
Earlier this year, the foreign ministers of Israel, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt gathered for a summit at a kibbutz in the Negev—an event that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Representatives of these countries reconvened in June and established the “Negev Forum” as a basis for further regional cooperation. Hoping that this new institution will both benefit its members and expand to include other pro-Western nations in the Middle East, Daniel B. Shapiro holds up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a model to emulate:

The year was 1967. While the Middle East was convulsed by its own conflicts, the nations of Southeast Asia, just emerging from the colonial era, had been riven by disputes. Indonesia and Malaysia had fought a low-grade border war on the island of Borneo, and Malaysia and the Philippines were also at loggerheads over conflicting territorial claims. War still raged in nearby Indochina, threatening the stability of the entire region.

Despite—or perhaps because of—these circumstances, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore came together in 1967 to found ASEAN.

In 1992, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) was signed, leading to the phased elimination of tariffs and customs duties on trade between the countries. In 2009, an ASEAN human-rights body was established, with the stated aim of allowing the member states to hold each other accountable for upholding certain standards. ASEAN began to engage other nations and regional groups as a bloc, signing free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, China, India, and South Korea, hosting foreign ambassadors to its secretariat, and convening summits with foreign leaders.

Regional integration represents a sea change in thinking about how the nations of the Middle East and North Africa region will relate to one another in the decades to come: identifying common interests, rooted in their common history, and fostering a common identity while preserving what is unique about each of them (and gaining appreciation for each other’s uniqueness). It moves beyond building trust to sustaining inherently trusting relationships, beyond proving the mutual benefits of the partnership to internalizing the logic that there are deeper gains to be harvested from thinking and acting collectively than from viewing all interests through an individual lens. And as the ASEAN experience teaches us, integration need not be held back by the diversity of Middle Eastern countries’ sizes, economies, political systems, cultures, or religions.

Israel, Bahrain sign accord on agricultural cooperation
Israel and Bahrain on Wednesday signed an agricultural cooperation declaration on the sidelines of the first-ever International Summit on Food Technologies from the Dead Sea and Desert that took place in Eilat.

The conference, an initiative of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, was attended by some 70 senior officials, who focused on promoting coordination and innovation in aquaculture, in particular, and the overall battle to combat food security.

The declaration calls for the promotion and expansion of cooperation between Jerusalem and Manama in the fields of agriculture, livestock and food security, and the sharing of related knowledge, technology and diverse products.

“The signing of the agreement with the Minister of Agriculture of Bahrain, at the conference attended by ministers from around the world and senior delegations from Morocco, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, constitutes an important step towards promoting cooperation which will see Israel become a center for research and development of food from the sea and the desert,” Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Oded Forer said.

Representatives at the conference also came from countries such as the United States, Chile, Ghana, Singapore, Romania, Malta, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Jews in Hamburg Protest State-Funded Professorships for Artists Involved in Festival Plagued by Antisemitism
Members of the Jewish community in Hamburg demonstrated outside the German city’s University of the Fine Arts in protest against the recent appointment of two guest faculty members who were involved in curating this year’s Documenta art show, which was plagued by a succession of antisemitism scandals.

“I cannot understand how one can come up with the idea of ​​bringing two people from this group to Hamburg as a reward and offering them a guest professorship,” Shlomo Bistritzky, Hamburg’s main rabbi, told reporters during the protest.

Around 20 members of the community attended the demonstration, carrying a banner that declared, “We are not pigs. For art without Jew hatred” — a reference to a mural that was later removed from the show which featured a soldier wearing a helmet shaped in the head of a pig and emblazoned with the word “Mossad,” Israel’s security and intelligence agency.

The two artists at the center of the protest — Reza Afisina, a cinematographer, and Iswanto Hartono, an architect — were introduced last week as guest members of the faculty at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts (HfbK). Both artists, whose work is heavily political, have long been involved with ruangrupa, a group of Indonesian artists selected to curate the fifteenth edition of the Documenta festival, one of the world’s main showcases for contemporary art, in the city of Kassel.

Both positions are being financed by the DAAD, Germany’s state-funded institution for academic exchanges.

Ben Shapiro says Kanye West is spouting anti-Semitism that resembles Nazi propaganda
Popular conservative pundit Ben Shapiro said Wednesday that the wave of recent anti-Semitic rants by Kanye West—who now goes by “Ye”—resemble Nazi propaganda.

Responding to West’s latest remarks—in which the rapper told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo that a “Jewish underground media mafia” is targeting him—Shapiro said that West is spouting “Der Stürmer-type anti-Semitism, and that is about as ugly as it gets, and nobody should be defending that,” referring to a Nazi-era tabloid newspaper that was intensely anti-Semitic.

In the interview with Cuomo, West also said he doesn’t believe in the term “anti-Semitic” and that today’s music industry is akin to “modern-day slavery.”

“We meet in the synagogue on Fridays. If we were out to get him, we would’ve done it already. Our space laser would’ve hit him,” Shapiro quipped regarding West’s “Jewish underground media mafia” comment.

Shapiro added that West “is obviously an unstable human being.”

“He is promoting every conspiracy theory about Jews that you can think of, from Jews control the media, to Jews somehow perverted my wife sexually,” said Shapiro, founder of The Daily Wire and host of The Ben Shapiro Show.

If another Holocaust, 'I hope Ben Shapiro gets gassed first' -Youtuber Ethan Klein
"If there's another Holocaust and people start rounding up the Jews again I hope Ben [Shapiro] gets gassed first. Or last," Youtuber Ethan Klein said on his H3TV podcast on Monday during a discussion on Kanye West's recent antisemitic rants and other political controversies.

Klein's employees and co-hosts looked visibly disturbed by the comment. Klein had hesitated before making the joke, remarking prior that it would be controversial.

"Can I not say that?" Klein, who is also Jewish, said to his podcast staff. "I'm not doing anything. I'm getting gassed too. Do you think it would be more justice if he got first or last?"

Klein attacked Shapiro because the pundit's Daily Wire outlet employs political commentator Candace Owens, who the Youtuber said had taught West his antisemitic rhetoric.

"Candace Owens also works for the Daily Wire, and he's [West] apparently getting all this fun antisemitism from her it seems like, and they just love it," said Klein.

Shapiro responded to Klein's comments in a tweet on Thursday, saying that "If there were another Holocaust, I would hope that Ethan and his family escaped. But maybe that's just me."

CAA launches petition calling on Adidas to drop partnership with Ye (aka Kanye West) following his repeated antisemitic outbursts
According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, examples of antisemitism include “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions,” and “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”

On his partnership with Adidas, Ye has said: “The thing about me and Adidas is like, I can literally say antisemitic s*** and they can’t drop me. I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?”

Adidas must answer Ye’s question. It must denounce antisemitism and end its partnership with Ye.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “By continuing to align itself with a public figure who has revealed himself to be a virulent antisemite, Adidas would be demonstrating that it does not care about racism against Jews. Ye has claimed that he can ‘literally say antisemitic s*** and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what?’ Adidas must answer Ye’s question: It must denounce antisemitism and end its partnership with Ye.”

The petition can be signed here.

Israel-Hating Middle East Eye Blacklists Hitler Fan Palestinian Journo After Story Goes Viral On Twitter
The allegedly Qatari-funded Middle East Eye has become the latest organization to cut ties with Palestinian journalist Shatha Hammad following an investigation by HonestReporting that revealed the Ramallah-based freelancer had posted numerous antisemitic comments on her social media profile.

Middle East Eye (MEE), which describes itself as providing “unique coverage” by encouraging its reporters to “take stories one step further rather than simply follow the official narrative,” published a statement on October 19 announcing the outlet would no longer work with Hammad:
Serious allegations of antisemitism have been made against Shatha Hammad, one of the freelance journalists Middle East Eye has worked with to report from the West Bank. Her reporting has been outstanding and won awards.

The allegations relate to her Facebook posts from 2014. While Ms Hammad has denied making the most egregious posts, she has not denied making a post in which she refers to Hitler.

MEE was totally unaware of these social media posts, which were made before she started to work with us, and MEE entered Ms Hammad’s work for these awards in good faith. These posts are totally unacceptable and we condemn them in the strongest terms.

MEE is committed to fighting racism in all its forms. As a media organisation that has extensively reported the misuse of allegations of antisemitism in British politics, and attempts to conflate antisemitism and anti-zionism, it is incumbent on MEE to totally dissociate ourselves from these posts and from Ms Hammad.

We remain committed to supporting the work of Palestinian journalists.”

Aside from the statement’s problematic elements — not least framing Hammad’s anti-Jewish outbursts as mere “allegations” before in the next paragraph acknowledging that she had “not denied” writing a post referring to Adolf Hitler — MEE’s firing of Hammad is significant considering the outlet itself frequently flirts with antisemitism.

The London-based publication’s editor David Hearst, who once expressed his fervent wish for “the end of Zionism,” not long ago penned an op-ed in MEE in which he raged against what he perceived as “Jewish supremacy” in Israel and ludicrously claimed the country was not a democracy.
New York Times Joins the Food Battle Against Israel
In “Preserving a Palestinian Identity in the Kitchen,” (online-Oct. 19; print-Oct. 20, 2022) New York Times contributor Aina J. Khan cites a Franco-Palestinian chef who created a cooking video series “aimed at reclaiming a cuisine that is part of a broader Arab tradition involving foods like hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, fattoush and shawarma that he felt was being co-opted by Israeli cooks.” She features and highlights his outlandish accusations:
“Food is being used to normalize the Israeli occupation by denying the origin of everything from hummus to falafel,” Mr. Kattan said. “The images of our grandmother’s hands working in the kitchen, rolling the vine leaves, dipping the bread of the mussakhan in oil.” He added, “These are images of beauty that are being stolen from us.”

That the food angle is just an excuse to expand on the greater theme of an illegitimately-created Jewish state is soon made clear by the article’s author. She writes:
Before 1948, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes or fled as the state of Israel was created, a mass displacement Palestinians call the nakba or “catastrophe,” about three-quarters of the Palestinian population lived in villages centered around agriculture…

In fact, Palestinians were displaced, not as the result of the establishment of the Jewish state but as the result of a war of aggression launched by Arab armies to annihilate it. Most estimates of the numbers of Palestinians displaced as a result of this war vary between 500,000 -600,000, with the vast majority of Arab refugees having fled in advance of the fighting, to escape the fighting, or at the behest of Arab leaders who urged them to temporarily leave their homes during the fighting. Although there were some instances where Arabs were expelled from their homes by Jewish troops during the hostilities, these represented only a small minority of those who were displaced.

Khan further emphasizes the theme of Jewish dispossession of Arabs when she writes of large areas near Haifa having been “originally allocated to a putative Arab state by the United Nations in 1947” that “were occupied by Israeli soldiers in 1948 after Arabs rejected the U.N [partition] plan….Many Palestinian families returned to razed homes and slaughtered livestock.”

Again, it was not that Arabs passively rejected the U.N. plan that led to Israeli soldiers occupying the area, but that they launched an aggressive war, in violation of the UN Charter, besieging Jewish communities and attacking Jewish defense troops. That property and lives were lost during these hostilities was a direct result of the illegal and ill-conceived attempt by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state. Disingenuously leaving out relevant parts of the story implies Israeli guilt; It is an easy way to attack Israel.

The New York Times has been increasingly showcasing the claims of anti-Israel activists and promoting their propaganda against the Jewish state, be it under the guise of a film review, and now, cuisine and food preparation. It is yet another entrée into the wholesale delegitimization of the Jewish state, in an attempt to make it more palatable to the general public.

Reuters Clarifies Most of Israel’s Karish Field Not Disputed
In response to CAMERA’s communication, Reuters editors commendably amended the report in both languages and appended clarifications. The improved English wording notes that Lebanon laid claim to only a northern portion of the gas field, stating:
The urgency of Hochstein’s mission increased in June when an Israeli gas rig arrived offshore to explore in the Karish field – waters claimed by Lebanon but which Israel said were in its exclusive economic zone.

In addition, editors commendably added a note to the top of the article noting the change: “(This Oct. 18 story has been corrected to reflect that only the northern part of Karish lies within what Lebanon has claimed as its territorial waters.)” Similarly, the amended Arabic report now accurately cites, “the Karish field, the northern part of which is in waters Lebanon says lie in its exclusive economic zone.”

Moreover, the straightforward correction posted prominently at the beginning of the article makes clear: “Correction to clarify that that only the northern part of the Karish field falls within what Lebanon says are its territorial waters.” Previously, BBC Arabic corrected after publishing the identical error erroneously placing the Israeli rig within disputed waters. Similarly, The Christian Science Monitor corrected after wrongly citing “Israel-backed drilling rigs in the disputed waters.”

US Marines Successfully Complete 3 Live-Fire Tests of Iron Dome Interceptor
The United States Marine Corps has successfully completed a series of of live-fire tests incorporating the Iron Dome interceptor, Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday.

The tests were conducted as part of the Marine Corps’ development of its Medium-Range Intercept Capability (MRIC) prototype, which began in 2018 to address a gap in its integrated air defenses against cruise missiles.

A total of three interception tests took place in the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this year, the final of which “included the system’s successful interception of multiple targets in various trajectories,” the MoD stated.

The Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptor was also successfully tested using a new mobile launcher developed for the Marine Corps, in combination with the Marines’ radar and battle management systems.

This year’s tests “proved that the performance of the MRIC system with Iron Dome interceptors is good and provides a dedicated launcher solution for the Marines,” said Don Kelly, program manager for ground-based air defense at PEO Land Systems, a program executive office in the Marine Corps that is based in Quantico, Virginia.

Moshe Patel, head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Ministry of Defense, called the final test “further proof” that the Iron Dome interceptor and associated components can integrate “in any relevant defense architecture and intercept various aerial threats successfully in complex and advanced scenarios.”

“We welcome any cooperation in the field of defense with the branches of the US military,” Patel said.
Israeli Officer Reveals Details of IDF's First Cyberattack
Since the 1990s, Lt. B. has been masterminding secret infiltrations into Israel's enemies' cyber systems, which grant the IDF access to valuable information, without risking troops and while remaining under the radar. For his ability to think outside of the box, he was awarded the Israel Defense Prize for "developing a system that has a creative technological solution to an operational problem of great importance."

The enemy was in the midst of building an advanced missile arsenal, and developing an innovative cyber system that it was planning to use for military purposes. For two years, B. and his comrades in IDF Military Intelligence recreated the system the enemy had at hand at the time, running endless tests to make sure what they had developed was accurate. They searched for any point of weakness, a breach in the system.

The IDF team entered the target's system in an operation that lasted only a few minutes. Since then, the tech gateway that B. and his team created has grown to be more advanced, and paved the way for other IDF cyber operations.
Three of Fortune’s most powerful women in startups are Israeli
Three Israeli women—Eynat Guez, Adi Tatarko and Daphne Koller—are included on Fortune magazine’s “The 15 Most Powerful Women in Startups” list for 2022.

All three head so-called unicorn companies, valued at $1 billion or more.

Tatarko, ranked eighth on the list, founded the highly successful home remodeling and design platform and community Houzz in 2009 with her husband, Alon Cohen, in Palo Alto.

Guez, ranked ninth, is cofounder and CEO of Herzliya-headquartered multinational firm Papaya Global, whose payroll automation platform is used by more than 700 companies in 160 countries.

Koller, ranked thirteenth, is a machine-learning pioneer who previously cofounded online education powerhouse Coursera. She’s currently founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Insitro, a data-driven drug discovery and development company. Koller also was named to Forbes’ “50 over 50” list of notable entrepreneurs.
Israeli film takes top prize at NYC's Chelsea Film Fest
Israeli film "All the Things I Wanted to Say" took the top prize at the Chelsea Film Festival in New York City on Sunday.

A feature film directed by Assaf Gordon, it nabbed the best picture award and shared best cinematography honors at the event's 10th edition, which presented 151 films from 29 countries.

Cinematography honors were shared with "Metamorphosis in the Slaughterhouse" from Germany and Iran.

"All the Things I Wanted to Say" stars Ohad Knoller as an aging film director who, facing a personal crisis, decides to make a movie about a traumatic event during his military service.

It was the drama's international premiere. Saar Erlichman wrote the screenplay in her feature film debut.
Graffiti of medieval knight discovered in Jerusalem
Archeologists have discovered a 15th century graffiti inscription thought to be by one of Switzerland’s most admired medieval military figures, on a wall in the King David Tomb complex on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Adrian von Bubenberg, a knight who won a famous victory at the Battle of Murten in 1476, came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1466 and on his visit either he or his son – also called Adrian – left a charcoal inscription of his name and family emblem on a wall in Jerusalem.

The archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered the inscription while carrying out an archeological survey on Mount Zion to document ancient graffiti by Moslem and Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem.

So far they have revealed more than 40 inscriptions in different languages, as well as the family emblems of medieval knights.

“In the Mamluk period, between 1332–1551, the building complex adjacent to the traditional Tomb of King David, was owned by the Monks of the Franciscan Catholic Order” said Michael Chernin and Shai Halevi of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who lead the project.

“The building served as a monastery and a hostel for the western pilgrims, who left their mark on the walls.”
Greek Synagogue Restored to its Former Glory After 82 Years>
A synagogue in Trikala, Greece that had fallen into disrepair was rededicated this week after being renovated in part with donations from the German government, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, and other donors.

The Kahal Kadosh Yavanim synagogue’s rededication was part of a three-day celebration, which included a concert, an inauguration ceremony and an exhibit at a local museum on the restoration project. The large Romaniote synagogue had been dismantled in 1930 due to its poor condition.

Noam Katz, Israel’s ambassador to Greece, joined in the festivities. He called it an “exciting ceremony.”

On Twitter, Katz wrote, “At the event I said: Since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the synagogues have served as the centers of Jewish life. In Trikala, it symbolizes the glorious presence and history of the Jewish people in Greece for many hundreds of years in Greece.

“Let us wish and pray all together that this synagogue will be a place to remember and cherish the history of the community,” the ambassador continued. “And more than that, a home for a rich and thriving community and Jewish life here in Trikala, now[a]days and in the future.”

Trikala is located in northwestern Thessaly, in central Greece. Around 500 Jews lived there before World War II. Today, several dozen Jews call the city home, according to the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.

On the Turkish-Syrian border, a city’s last Jews watch the ending of an epoch
Jews have lived in the city of Antakya, known in ancient times as Antioch, for over 23 centuries. And the city wants visitors to know that.

A symbol composed of a Star of David entwined with a Christian cross and Islamic crescent has practically become the city’s logo, as it’s plastered all over town, especially on restaurants peddling the southern Hatay province’s patently spicy cuisine.

“I was born in Antakya and I will die in Antakya,” said Selim Cemel, a Jewish clothing merchant with a shop in the city’s famed Long Bazaar — a snaking maze of Ottoman Era caravanserais and even older shops, rivaling Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or Jerusalem’s Arab Shuk. In it, one can find everything from textiles to spices to some of the best hummus in Turkey.

The Star of David imagery is so prevalent that one would be forgiven for thinking Jews were a significant portion of the city’s 200,000-strong population. In reality, barely more than a dozen Jews remain.

The last Jews remaining
The youngest member of the local Jewish community is over 60, and many are talking about joining their children elsewhere in the world.

Like many cities in Turkey, Antakya has been losing its youth of all faiths and ethnicities over the past century to the metropolises of Istanbul and Ankara. Today one in four Turks live in Istanbul.

For Antakya’s Jews, the exodus began in the 1970s, when Turkey experienced a period of particular political instability. The first half of the decade saw Turkey embroiled in a civil war in Cyprus, and in the second, a breakout of sectarian violence across the country between Turkish nationalists and Kurdish separatists culminated in a 1980 military coup.

“Some have died, some moved to Istanbul, and the youth left one by one. This is the way they dispersed,” explained Daoud Cemel, a relative of Selim and another Jewish merchant in the Long Bazaar who sells towels and other textiles.
Israel, nation that made desert bloom, now aims to grow plants on the moon
Israeli scientists are planning to try growing a range of seeds into plants on the moon, in the most ambitious attempt yet at extraplanetary agriculture.

The project is the next frontier for a research institute located in the Negev Desert in Israel’s south, a region famously inhospitable to agriculture but which has nevertheless been made to bloom in populated areas.

The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Beersheba’s Ben Gurion University investigates how to grow food in such arid regions on Earth — and is now making its first foray into space.

Astronauts on the International Space Station grow plants, but agriculture elsewhere in space has so far been limited to a Chinese cotton seed that sprouted on the moon in 2019.

Ben Gurion researchers are working with universities in Australia and South Africa to prepare a tiny 2-kilogram greenhouse with a range of seeds and plants that will head to the moon in 2025. It will travel aboard Beresheet 2, the second attempt at an unmanned moon landing by the Israeli SpaceIL nonprofit.

The first Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface in April 2019 during its attempt to land on Earth’s satellite, dashing the hopes of hundreds of engineers who had worked on the project for years.

The mini-greenhouse that is being prepared for Beresheet 2 will be sealed, retaining the Earth’s atmosphere, but will be subject to the moon’s microgravity, which does not exist on the International Space Station.

“Bases on the moon or colonies on Mars could become a reality, and we’re exploring whether we know how to grow plants there,” Prof. Simon Barak of the Blaustein Institute told The Times of Israel, adding that his approach of sealed chambers dispatched from Earth would be a likely solution.

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