Saturday, November 12, 2022

From Ian:

Lapid slams UN, calls pro-Palestinian vote 'prize for terrorist organizations'
Israel lambasted the United Nations on Saturday after a key committee approved a draft resolution Friday calling on the International Court of Justice to urgently issue its opinion on the legal consequences of supposedly denying the Palestinian people the right to self-determination as a result of Israel's actions since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The measure was vehemently opposed by Israel, which argued it would destroy any chance of reconciliation with the Palestinians.

"This step will not change the reality on the ground, nor will it help the Palestinian people in any way; it may even result in an escalation. Supporting this move is a prize for terrorist organizations and the campaign against Israel," Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement, adding that "the Palestinians want to replace negotiations with unilateral steps. They are again using the United Nations to attack Israel."

The vote in the General Assembly's Special Political and Decolonization Committee was 98-17, with 52 abstentions. The resolution will now go to the 193-member assembly for a final vote before the end of the year, when it is virtually certain of approval.

The draft cites Israel's supposed violation of Palestinian rights to self-determination "from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures."

It would ask the court for an opinion on how these Israeli policies and practices "affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all states and the United Nations from this status."

The International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, is one of the UN's main organs and is charged with settling disputes between countries. Its opinions are not binding.

"Israel strongly rejects the Palestinian resolution at the United Nations. This is another unilateral Palestinian move which undermines the basic principles for resolving the conflict and may harm any possibility for a future process," Lapid tweeted and thanked that handful of countries that voted against the resolution with Israel. "We call upon on all the countries that supported yesterday's proposal to reconsider their position and oppose it when it's voted upon in the General Assembly. The way to resolve the conflict does not pass through the corridors of the UN or other international bodies," he continued.
Jonathan Tobin: Don’t apologize for Ben-Gvir or anything else about Israel
When Netanyahu became prime minister again in 2009 and in the 12 years that followed, when there was no thought of Ben-Gvir being a minister, the same arguments about Israeli policies being oppressive and alienating American Jews were heard over and over again.

During this time, as the anti-Semitic BDS movement gain footholds on American college campuses and on the left-wing of the Democratic Party, there was no talk about Ben-Gvir or the evils of Israel being governed by right-wing and religious parties.

To the contrary, the so-called centrists of Israeli politics—Lapid and Gantz—were just as reviled by those who spread the “apartheid state” smear as Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are today. The same claims about a mythical old “good” Israel being destroyed were made by those who opposed Netanyahu.

Those who think one Jewish state on the planet is one too many didn’t need Religious Zionists in Israel’s cabinet to be convinced that Israel shouldn’t exist. American Jews who are embarrassed by Ben-Gvir and Smotrich were already embarrassed by Netanyahu and even some of his left-leaning opponents in the Knesset. Their failure to magically make the conflict with the Palestinians disappear has been cited by those who note a decline in support for Israel in the years since the collapse of the Oslo peace process, and even before that while the delusion that it might succeed was still alive.

This goes beyond the fact that the claims that Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are fascists is without real substance. As I’ve noted previously, the talk about the winners of last week’s election being enemies of democracy is just an echo of the Democratic Party talking points about Republicans in the U.S. and just as specious. Whatever one may think of either man, their party doesn’t oppose democracy.

None of that matters because this discussion isn’t rooted in the facts about Israel or those who will make up its next government. Rather, it is an expression of unease with the reality of a Jewish state that must deal with a messy and insoluble conflict with the Palestinians as well as one where the majority of its Jews don’t think or look like your typical liberal Jewish Democrat.

Israel-haters will work for its destruction no matter who is its prime minister or the composition of the government. As has always been the case, the anti-Semites don’t need any new excuses for their efforts to besmirch and delegitimize the Jewish state.

One needn’t support Netanyahu or his partners to understand any of this.

Rather than apologizing for Ben-Gvir or the other aspects of Israeli reality that make readers of The New York Times cringe, those who care about the Jewish state and its people need to stop longing for an Israel which looks like them and embrace the one that actually exists. By buying into the disingenuous claims that this government will be less worthy of their support than its predecessors, they are merely falling into a trap set for them by anti-Semites.

Those who support the right of a Jewish state to exist should stop apologizing for it not conforming to some idealized liberal vision of Zionism, and understand that the people who voted for Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir are just as deserving of respect and representation as they are.
Fred Maroun: To anti-Zionists, Ben Gvir is not a problem, he is an opportunity
While Ben Gvir calls for Palestinian terrorists to be expelled from Israel, we know that Arab entities (including the Jordan-occupied West Bank and the Egypt-occupied Gaza) indiscriminately expelled all Jewish residents decades ago. We also know that Israel’s enemies are “bent on wiping the Jewish state and its inhabitants off the map” (as Canadian National Post columnist John Robson put it). As racist and as anti-democratic as Israel’s far right is, it is nothing compared to Israel’s enemies. That is of course cold comfort to those who are genuinely concerned about Ben Gvir and his ilk, but it points to a double standard.

Criticizing Ben Gvir and the Israeli extreme right while giving a pass to far worse Palestinian groups is a double standard. It sets high expectations of Jews while setting much lower expectations of others. It is obviously a form of antisemitism.

Using Ben Gvir to demonize Israel is not a new concept. Before Ben Gvir and the Israeli extreme right became popular, it was Netanyahu and his Likud party who were the favorite target of anti-Zionists. Anti-Zionism was not born with Ben Gvir’s entry into Israeli politics, nor was it born with Netanyahu’s entry into Israeli politics. It has existed ever since Israel exists. Anti-Zionism was just as strong, and perhaps even stronger, when Israel was governed by socialists like David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir.

In essence, there are two types of criticisms of Ben Gvir. There is the criticism that aims to make Israel better (or at least not worse). This criticism comes from Zionists in Israel and abroad. And there is the criticism that uses Ben Gvir as a new and more convenient way to demonize Israel. This criticism comes from anyone who hates Israel and does not give a fig about Israeli Arabs but looks on with glee as Ben Gvir weakens the fabric of Israeli society.

To Zionists, Ben Gvir is dangerous for several reasons. He is likely to weaken Western support for Israel, he is likely to weaken Israeli democracy, and he is likely to increase Israel’s investment in West Bank settlements which make a one-state bi-national solution increasingly likely. To Zionists, Ben Gvir is a problem. But to anti-Zionists, these are all reasons to celebrate. To them, Ben Gvir isn’t a problem, he’s an opportunity.


Israeli envoy lashes Kyiv for backing UN panel call on ICJ to opine on ‘annexation’
Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine lambasted Kyiv on Friday for its support of a resolution by a United Nations committee that calls on the International Court of Justice to “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “annexation.”

Ukraine was one of 98 countries that voted in favor of the resolution at the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee meeting in New York earlier Friday. Seventeen nations opposed the measure and 52 abstained. The committee, also called the Special Political and Decolonization panel, is one of six main committees of the UNGA.

The resolution, titled “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” requests that the Hague-based ICJ “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory,” and appears to ignore Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Israeli envoy Michael Brodsky took to Twitter to voice his criticism of Ukraine and said its “support of the UN resolution ‘Israeli Practices’, denying Jewish ties to Temple Mount and calling for ICJ advisory opinion is extremely disappointing.”

“Supporting anti-Israeli initiatives in the UN doesn’t help to build trust between [Israel] and [Ukraine],” said the ambassador.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested military aid and equipment from Israel to fight off Russia’s assault on the country since late February. While providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Israel has maintained a strict policy of not providing military aid, including systems that could help it intercept Russian missile and drone attacks.


"Jerusalem Lawsuit Demands Russia Release Chabad Book Collection"
The ”Chabad Chasidim Association in the USA” (“Aguch”) is expanding its battle to return the ‘Schneerson Collection’ to Israel, according to a report by COLlive.com.

Chabad filed a lawsuit in the Jerusalem District Court against the “Russian Federation under the presidency of Vladimir Putin” seeking to enforce a US ruling so that it can seize Russian assets worth tens of millions of dollars also in Israel.

Famed attorney Nat Lewin, a top lawyer approved to litigate cases in the US Supreme Court, arrived in Israel to accompany the prosecution process in the lawsuit, filed by lawyers Uri Keidar and Avi Blum.

Lewin represented the Chabad movement in the famous legal victory of Chabad, called by the Chasidim “Didan Notzach” regarding the Lubavitcher Rebbes’ book collection since the 1980s.

“Nat Lewin is known as one who had the privilege of having discussions and receiving personal trust and guidance from the Rebbe regarding the representation procedures and the manner in which the Chabad movement should act regarding the collection of the valuable Chabad books,” COLlive.com reported.

The lawsuit seeks to transfer to Israel the judgements and decisions issued in the United States against the Russian government, ordering Moscow to return the ‘Schneerson Collection’ to Chasidism, and to impose a significant fine for contempt of court handed down in the US decision. The fine currently stands at more than $170 million.

Chabad explains that the ‘Schneerson Collection’ is a historical collection of the global Chabad movement that includes approximately 12,000 original books and manuscripts which were gradually collected and preserved since the end of the 18th century up to the present day.

“This is the only collection of its kind in the entire world and is a heritage asset for the entire Jewish people, in a way that surpasses the boundaries of Chabad Chasidism,” COLlive.com reported.
Republican share of the Jewish vote rises to 33% in midterms, exit poll shows
Thirty-three percent of American Jews who participated in Tuesday’s midterm elections voted Republican, up from 30% in the 2020 election and 24% in 2016, an exit poll conducted by Fox News found.

Jews comprised 3% of the American electorate, according to Fox News, which included a question about religion in its exit poll—as opposed to CNN, which did not, except for asking voters whether or not they were white evangelicals.

While a different poll conducted by the liberal Jewish lobby J Street found that Republicans received 25% of the Jewish vote in the 2022 midterms, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) tweeted that the Fox News poll is the “gold standard” because it is a network exit poll and “more reflective of the national Jewish vote.”

“J Street doesn’t like the [Fox News] poll, so they shopped around and paid for a poll they do like. The trends are absolutely clear: Jewish voters are moving towards the GOP—24 percent in 2016, 30 percent in 2020, 33 percent in 2022—and no J Street paid-for poll will change those facts,” RJC National Political Director Sam Markstein said.
IDF nabs wanted Islamic Jihad member in daylight raid near Jenin
A prominent member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group in the northern West Bank was arrested by Israeli troops on Saturday morning, the military said.

According to a joint statement by the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service, the suspect, Muhammad Abu Zina, was arrested during a daylight raid in the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin.

The statement said Zina, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, was previously jailed in Israel over his activities in Islamic Jihad. He was released in August this year.

“Immediately upon his release, Muhammad returned to [conducting] significant terror activity, in which he worked to finance and arm PIJ military infrastructure” in the northern West Bank, the IDF and Shin Bet said.

The IDF said that during the operation conducted by troops of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion, Palestinians hurled explosive devices and stones at soldiers.

No Israeli troops were hurt in the operation, the army added.

Abu Zina was transferred to the Shin Bet for further questioning.
The Israel Guys: This is a Story the Media REFUSES to Tell
On October 29th, a Hamas affiliated terrorist went to Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) and opened fire on the Jewish residents there. Ronen Chananyah, who was inside an Arab-owned store with his son, was shot in the head and killed. What the media didn’t tell you, is that the terrorist received a terminal diagnosis that gave him only days to live shortly before the murder.

The Palestinian Authority’s pay-to-slay program is essentially a life insurance policy that pays people to kill Jews. Unfortunately, the US Administration is not only funding this corrupt and horrendous policy, but they are also condemning Israel for things like daring to elect a right-wing government, or even thinking about annexing parts of Judea and Samaria.


'Freedom Flotilla' to sail from Europe to Gaza in bid to break blockade
Members of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have held meetings in London to plan the next flotilla from Europe to Gaza, which is set to sail next year in an attempt to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

According to the coalition, the meeting was sponsored by the Palestinian Forum in Britain. It also said it was attended by representatives of the international coalition in multiple European countries, such as those from New Zealand, Malaysia, Turkey, Canada, the US and South Africa. The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza also attended.

“Our goals remain full human rights for all Palestinians,” the group wrote on its official website about its next flotilla. “In particular, freedom of movement within historic Palestine and the right of return."

“This work includes amplifying Palestinian voices... While some of our partner organizations are actively involved with important programs addressing the most urgent needs of Palestinian children traumatized by the blockade and murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza, we recognize that a lasting solution requires an end to the blockade.”

Who is the Freedom Flotilla Coalition? And what are flotillas?
Formed in 2010, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition claims it is a “people-to-people solidarity movement composed of campaigns and initiatives from different parts of the world, working together to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza,” according to its site.

It also says it stands against the blockade and is “governed by the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance.”

On the site, it has a link that sends readers to its research and information on past flotillas and lawsuits against the Israeli government.

For 10 years, 16 flotillas were sent to Gaza, with only eight making it to the coastal enclave in 2008. Israel started blocking flotilla arrivals in 2009.
Hamas Emerges as Newest Cyber Espionage Powerhouse
The Iran-backed Hamas terror group is investing great resources in its cyber espionage capabilities, opening an increasingly dangerous front in its war against Israel, according to a new report.

"Hamas has demonstrated steady improvement in its cyber capabilities and operations over time, especially in its espionage operations against internal and external targets," the Atlantic Council think tank said in a report this week. "The group’s burgeoning cyber capabilities, alongside its propaganda tactics, pose a threat to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and U.S. interests in the region—especially in tandem with the group’s capacities to fund, organize, inspire, and execute kinetic attacks."

While Hamas is well-known for its deadly terror strikes on Israel, the group is putting an increased emphasis on its virtual attack networks, which should not be underestimated, according to the report. "It comes as a surprise to many security experts that Hamas—chronically plagued by electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip, with an average of just 10 to 12 hours of electricity per day—even possesses cyber capabilities," the Atlantic Council said.

Cyber espionage campaigns allow Hamas to wage outsized influence on its enemies, particularly Israel. Hack attacks orchestrated by Hamas in recent years have exposed Israeli military secrets and infiltrated the country’s law enforcement apparatus, highlighting the danger the terror group poses in the virtual world.

Cyber campaigns, the report says, allow Hamas "to engage and inflict far more damage on powerful actors, like Israel, than would otherwise be possible in conventional conflict," where munitions and other expensive military hardware is needed.

The newfound capabilities were on full display in April, when a Hamas-led cyber espionage campaign targeted Israel’s military, law enforcement, and emergency services networks. The attack "used previously undocumented malware featuring enhanced stealth mechanisms," according to the report.

Through social media networks like Facebook—"a hallmark of many Hamas espionage operations"—Israeli targets were fooled into downloading applications with malware. Once downloaded, Hamas was able to gain access to "a wide range of information from the device’s documents, camera, and microphone, acquiring immense data on the target’s whereabouts, interactions, and more," according to the report.


Seth Frantzman: Iranian report exposes the history of its missile program
As Iran supplies Russia with drones and there are concerns Iran may supply Moscow with ballistic missiles, the issue of Iran’s missile program is increasingly important globally. In addition, Iran’s missiles threaten Israel and US forces in the region and also destabilize the Middle East through threats to the Gulf, Iraq and other countries.

Iran’s Tasnim News ran an interesting article on Saturday focusing on the history of Iran’s missile program. The article begins by profiling Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, an Iranian military officer in the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was born in 1959 and died in 2011. He is credited with being a major designer of the Iranian ballistic missile project. Tasnim News notes that while he began as a largely unknown figure, his fame grew over time. He was initially an artillery officer in the IRGC.

“The IRGC missile unit was formed with imported missiles, and even the firing of those missiles was done by others, but gradually Hassan Tehrani Moghadam and his comrades learned to shoot, manipulate and upgrade missiles, and finally build missiles,” the report says. Iran tried building short-range missiles at first. This was likely back in the era of the Iran-Iraq war. The report includes historic conversations with those who knew Moghaddam.

According to this report, Iran first acquired the Scud B missile from Libya in 1963. During the war with Iraq in the 1980s, Iran faced a shortage of weapon systems to oppose the Iraqi invasion.

“The war started when we were empty-handed. The weapons we had in the Corps were light weapons such as Brno, M1K, Kalashnikov and Zh3,” the report says. Eventually, the soldiers received mortars and artillery. The Iraqis meanwhile had received the Scud B from the Soviet Union. “Some time after the start of the war, rockets started raining on the cities,” the report notes. Indeed, Iraq used missiles and rockets to spread terror and try to weaken Iran’s ability to continue the war.

Iran focused on developing its own missiles to counter the Iraqis. “The Minister of the IRGC, continued to purchase rockets and a group of IRGC Artillery units was also engaged in training courses….Hassan Tehrani Moghadam, who was in charge of IRGC artillery and had taken important measures to increase the range and power of fire until then, was appointed to form a missile unit.”
Russia and Iran are heading for defeat in Ukraine
Those who are nostalgic for the heyday of neoconservatism might want to know that on Wednesday, former U.S. President George W. Bush will host a video discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Bush—whose famous 2002 “Axis of Evil” State of the Union address listed Russia’s loyal ally Iran alongside North Korea and Iraq—has said that he regards Zelensky as a Winston Churchill for our time, while a statement from the George W. Bush Institute announcing the event urges the U.S. to “provide the assistance, military and otherwise, to help Ukraine defend itself.”

Isolationists on the right and “anti-war” advocates on the left will doubtless sneer at this event as an exercise in the kind of warmongering we thought we’d left behind in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the concerns raised in those conflicts have little bearing on the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. No-one is talking about deploying U.S. or NATO troops on the ground in a combat situation, nor is there any discussion of an international administration to supervise the growing portion of Ukrainian territory that is being liberated from the Russian occupiers. The democratic government in Kyiv has asked for weapons, but it is Ukrainian fighters who will operate them and Ukrainian officials who will manage postwar reconstruction.

Moreover, the timing of the event with Bush and Zelensky is fortuitous. Last week, the Ukrainian armed forces achieved their most important breakthrough yet, as Russia was forced into a humiliating withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson it captured in the early days of the invasion. For months, Kherson was the locus of Russia’s reign of terror, with thousands of the city’s residents beaten, arrested and tortured for protesting the Russian incursion, the rape and abuse of women and girls as young as 12 and the abduction of nearly 2,000 Ukrainian children taken from their families and removed to Russia itself. Last Friday, Kherson’s battered citizens emerged onto the streets to the welcome sight of the Ukrainian national flag and patrols of Ukrainian, not Russian, troops.

The exhausted smiles in Kherson were matched by the nervous scowls of the Russian top brass as they tried to spin their defeat in Kherson into a mere “redeployment.” While it remains true that Kherson is a city fraught with danger, with boobytraps littering its streets and the remainder of Russian forces now gathered on the opposite bank of the River Dnipro, there should be no mistaking that Kherson also marks a decisive victory.
Seth Frantzman: Iran sees its drone supply to Ukraine as a propaganda victory
Iran’s supply of drones to Russia is a major public relations victory, as seen from Iran’s own past reports and how the regime now appears to be pleased by the fear it has struck into countries in the region.

Although Iran does not openly brag about the drones it has sent to Russia, because the regime has been careful not to take too much credit for supplying them, they do believe that the performance of drones in Ukraine can influence Iran's position in the Middle East.

In the past, Iran supplied drones to Hezbollah, the Houthis and other proxy and terrorist groups in the region, but that often didn’t get them the propaganda value they wanted.

When the Houthis targeted Saudi Arabia, or when Iran itself targeted Saudi Arabia in September 2019, the use of drones and cruise missiles was not given enough press attention to satisfy Iran. This now appears to have changed, while Iran reported about their military capabilities themselves in the past, it is now keenly interested in how Israel reacts to the new threat.

A report over the weekend in Iran’s Fars News looked at Israel’s concerns about drones and quotes heavily from Israeli media. Clearly, the intention here is for Iran to launder its success in drone warfare by quoting others, this way it can legitimize its abilities by pointing to foreign reports.

Having a foreign report express fear of Iran's drone abilities is more important for them than if their own media simply reported that regional countries are afraid of them.

Therefore the decision by Iran’s pro-regime media, which is close to the IRGC, to highlight the drone threat by quoting Israeli sources shows that Iran is paying close attention to how countries see Iran’s threats.
Fmr State Dept Spox: Iran Nuclear Deal Dead as Anti-Regime Protests Surge
The Biden administration’s negotiations over a revamped version of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are dead as the result of massive anti-regime protests that have swept across the Islamic Republic, according to the former Trump administration’s State Department spokeswoman.

"I don’t see any room or any space for [the administration] to build back into" the long-stalled negotiations, Morgan Ortagus, who served under former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, said during a panel discussion Friday afternoon at the Richard Nixon Foundation’s Grand Strategy Summit in Washington, D.C. "It would be a political disaster in the U.S. and a disaster for the people of Iran who are rejecting this regime."

How could the Biden administration "financially empower the very oppressors of the women and teenagers we’re supposed to be standing up for and standing with?" Ortagus asked.

Ortagus, who played a central role in the Trump administration’s effort to sanction the Iranian regime, said the Biden administration has "zero leverage" with the Iranian regime at the moment. The nationwide protests that have swept across Iran in the last month are likely the final nail in the coffin for negotiations over a revamped nuclear deal, she said. While the Biden administration has condemned the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on protesters, it has refrained from repeating the protesters’ calls for regime change.

Upon entering office, President Joe Biden’s team "didn’t have a plan for Iran except for going back into the JCPOA," the official acronym for the Iran deal, Ortagus said. If the administration had been able to finalize another "weak and pathetic deal," Ortagus said that around three-fourths of the Senate would have rejected it. Iran, she added, "played [Biden] for 18 months" and "I don’t see any strategy" going forward.

Jon Alterman, a former State Department official who heads the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank, pushed back on Ortagus’s assessment. He said the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign on Tehran—which included the toughest sanctions regime in history—failed because U.S. allies were not on board.

It is "deeply mistaken and perhaps dishonest to argue the Biden admin thought the JCPOA was going to fix Iran," Alterman said. "Our record of changing governments and putting something better in their place is pretty checkered."


Palestine protester spray ketchup over statue in Houses of Parliament
Two women have been arrested after protesters pretending to be tourists squirted tomato ketchup on to a statue in the Houses of Parliament.

Members of Palestine Action used tourist passes to enter the Members’ Lobby of the House of Commons.

They targeted a statue of former prime minister Lord Arthur Balfour, signatory of the Balfour Declaration – a 1917 document which pledged the formation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

As they sprayed the red condiment, which the group described as fake blood, one demonstrator said on Saturday morning: “Palestinians have suffered for 105 years because of this man, Lord Balfour – he gave away their homeland and it wasn’t his to give.”

The two protesters glued themselves to the statue after squirting the ketchup, before revealing a miniature Palestinian flag and shouting “free Palestine”.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were alerted at 11.20am on Saturday November 12 to two women who had entered the Parliamentary Estate with tourist tickets.

“They had glued themselves to a statue in the Member’s Lobby in the House of Commons and had thrown ketchup over the statue and a wall.”
Sports Journalist’s Defense of Kyrie Irving Is a Disgrace
For the first time in my life, I cried while reading sports social media accounts.

It was because there were endless comments of people saying they agreed with NBA basketball player Kyrie Irving, who tweeted a link to an antisemitic film that vilified Jews, blamed them for the slave trade, and promoted lies about the Holocaust.

In recent months, I have interviewed people and written about Jews getting stabbed, punched, or scapegoated for being Jewish. It’s hard to believe this is 2022.

A number of sports personalities came out against Irving’s false apology, which only took place after Irving had ample time to renounce his actions, did not, and then was suspended for five games by the Brooklyn Nets.

What did some ESPN personalities say on air?

Ramona Shelburne: “It’s not gonna be satisfactory to just apologize on Instagram.” She noted there was Holocaust denial in the film Irving promoted.

David Dennis, Jr.: “…you [Irving] said you did not make the documentary, but you spread it around. … This is not the type of work for Black liberation that he claims it is. This is about one man and attention and trying to, you know, spread some sort of message that is not good for anybody.

Tony Kornheiser: “I looked at the apology. I thought it was utterly worthless.”

Michael Wilbon: “I dismiss it [the apology]. … if he’d issued this apology initially, he most likely would have avoided his own predicament. But he didn’t want to, cause he wanted to double down, he wanted to show you how smart he was. … Now it’s too late. It’s a full-fledged firestorm and it’s not gonna go away quickly or easily.”

On TNT, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal referred to Irving as an “idiot,” but Barkley inarticulately said it’s about offending people. It’s much more than that.
US Education Department to probe antisemitism complaints from Virginia schools
The US Education Department says it will investigate allegations of antisemitism within a Northern Virginia public school district brought by the Zionist Organization of America, in a case the ZOA has pursued for more than a year.

The federal department’s Office of Civil Rights wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to ZOA that it would investigate whether Fairfax County Public Schools, in the Washington, DC suburbs, failed to act on alleged incidents of harassment including students making “Heil Hitler” salutes, and Holocaust jokes. The department said the opening of the investigation does not mean that ZOA’s claim has merit, only that they determined that it fell within their purview.

The department also declined to investigate a key allegation made by ZOA: that a school board member’s tweets about Israel in 2021 fell under the rubric of antisemitic discrimination. The department said this was because too much time had passed since the tweets, but the decision was a notable loss for pro-Israel legal groups, who have successfully used Department of Education civil rights complaints as a way to challenge what they describe as anti-Israel speech in schools and universities.

ZOA leaders still celebrated the opening of the investigation. The group’s President Morton Klein said in a statement: “We are pleased that OCR is investigating FCPS for failing to respond effectively to longstanding problems of antisemitism in the district.”

The conservative group’s past activities in Fairfax hinted that it had planned to make the board member’s Israel tweets a central component of its legal strategy. ZOA had been beating the drum about a Muslim Fairfax board member’s tweet about Israel for more than a year, sending letters to the district’s superintendent and school board accusing board member Abrar Omeish of antisemitism. Omeish had tweeted in May 2021 in support of Palestinians during Israel’s deadly conflict with Hamas, wishing her followers a happy Eid while adding: “Hurts my heart to celebrate while Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land right now. Apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.”


One suspect in anti-Jewish Brooklyn gel pellet attack held on bail, two other freed
One of the goons who allegedly blasted a Hasidic Jewish mom and her adult son with gel pellets in an alleged hate crime assault in Brooklyn was held on bail Thursday as the other two suspects were sprung on supervised release.

Jacob Hernandez, 38, begged for mercy as he was led away in handcuffs on $7,500 cash bail while the other two suspects, Zakaria Moataz and Dorian Watt, walked out of the courtroom with their faces covered.

“I have nothing against anybody. I don’t have hate for anyone,” Hernandez pleaded to Judge Dale Fong-Frederick before he was whisked away by court officers.

The trio are accused of shooting gel pellets with a “SplatRBall gel bead blaster” – similar to an Orbeez gun – at the mom, 47, and her son, 23, as they walked near Kent and Park avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sunday night, prosecutors allege

Hernandez, Moataz and Watt were allegedly cruising through the area smoking weed in a white Infinity when they came across the mom and son and blasted the pellet gun, causing them pain, prosecutors said.

At the time, the son was wearing traditional Hasidic garb, including a “black hat, a long black coat and long side curls,” prosecutors allege.
Rocks Thrown at Manhattan Jewish Day School
A Jewish day school in the Upper East Side section New York City was vandalized on Wednesday night.

“Ramaz’s security cameras show a man throwing a rock at the building’s bulletproof glass door,” school officials from The Ramaz School in a statement on Thursday. “He did this one more time to no avail, and there is minimal damage to the door, just some scratches and dust residue.”

“We know this information is disconcerting, but rest assured, we are taking every possible measure to keep our school safe,” it continued. “As we say frequently, but cannot say often enough, the safety and security of our school staff and students our highest priority.”

New York City Police from the 19th precinct said they are investigating the incident in addition to two others that occurred at local businesses in the area. It is not yet clear that the three incidents are connected nor that the vandalism of the Ramaz school was motivated by antisemitism, police said.

More antisemitic incidents were recorded in New York than in any other state, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported in April, noting that it tallied 416, which “accounted for an astounding 15 percent of the total reported antisemitic incidents across the country.”
False report of antisemitic incident on school bus alarms Chicago Jews
Chicago Jews were alarmed Thursday as local news outlets reported that a bus full of Jewish schoolchildren had been the victim of antisemitic harassment.

Initial reports, which appeared in a wide array of Chicago outlets, including the Tribune and Sun-Times newspapers, said police were investigating after a group of adults had forced the bus to stop, made their way on board, and then delivered a “Heil Hitler” salute.

The story unnerved parents and triggered an outcry among Chicagoans worried about rising crime and antisemitism at an especially tense time for American Jews.

But it wasn’t true, according to the CEO of the school whose students were involved.

“This is the definition of a fake story,” Rabbi Menachem Levine, the head of Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov – Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi elementary school in West Rogers Park, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Friday. “I literally had a media incident for nothing.”

The saga raises questions about how antisemitism watchdogs call attention to the incidents that American Jews report. The story landed in the papers through the advocacy of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which sent a press release Thursday noting that the incident took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom that marked a turning point in the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews of Europe.
Israeli hospital: New tech gave instant DNA info on tumors, jump-starts treatment
An Israeli hospital says it has used an under-trial artificial intelligence technology to give patients immediate results for a deep-dive report on their tumor’s DNA — eliminating days they would have spent waiting before getting treatment for their brain cancer.

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center announced this week that it had successfully used AI to deliver accurate genomic analysis to two brain cancer patients, calling the breakthrough “exceptional.”

The doctors used Imagene, an Israeli AI platform that instantly analyzes the tumor and delivers an in-depth genomic analysis, as part of a trial that is being conducted at Sourasky and at Sheba Medical Center. The trial is intended to lead to regulatory approval of the tech for widespread distribution.

Genomic analysis is a process that gives doctors a highly detailed picture of their patient’s tumor, with information on processes through which it responds to its environment, and its DNA sequence.

Still used only on a minority of patients, it is growing in popularity and seen as key in the ongoing shift towards personalized medicine tailored to the characteristics of different patients’ tumors.

But it is a time-consuming process that takes days or weeks. If doctors are waiting for information before deciding a treatment path, this can cause the loss of potentially lifesaving days to fight the cancer.
World’s 1st saliva pregnancy test by Israeli startup to hit shelves next year
The world’s first saliva-based pregnancy tests developed by a Jerusalem-based startup will soon be on shelves in pharmacies and other retail stores in Israel, Europe, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Salignostics, an Israeli biotech company that developed the pregnancy test based on technology used to make COVID-19 testing kits, said on Wednesday that the SaliStick test kits will be available in these regions early next year. The company said it is in advanced discussions with distributors to deliver the kits in the first quarter of 2023.

The Israeli company, founded in 2016, received European CE certification for SaliStick to be marketed in the European Union as well as approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health. Salignostics is currently in the process of seeking FDA approval in the US.

Last year, the company said it successfully completed clinical trials in Israel on more than 300 women — both pregnant and non-pregnant — and was hoping to soon commercialize the kits. It has since set up a manufacturing facility in the Lavon industrial park in the Galilee in northern Israel with a monthly production capacity of a million units, the company said.

“It is deeply encouraging that technology that was honed and developed to help us deal with one of the worst pandemics is able to be developed further to help contribute to help and wellness for women and families all over the world,” Dr. Guy Krief, co-founder and deputy CEO at Salignostics, told The Times of Israel at the time.
Netafim to introduce carbon credits for rice growers using drip irrigation
The Israeli drip irrigation company Netafim announced Friday its first carbon credit initiative for global rice growers at the UN COP27 climate conference taking place this week in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Netafim — an Israeli subsidiary of the global company Orbia — revolutionized agriculture worldwide by being the first to introduce drip irrigation in the 1960s.

Through its recently introduced pioneering drip irrigation method for rice — which is usually cultivated in flooded paddy fields — the company said 70 percent of the water currently used in rice production cam be saved. According to Netafim, 1,500 liters (396 gallons) of water is required per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rice produced when using drip irrigation, rather than 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) with the traditional method.

The technique also uses 30% less fertilizer and 36% less energy while reducing methane emissions to nearly zero and arsenic uptake by up to 90%.

Traditionally, rice cultivation uses a staggering 30% to 40% of the world’s freshwater and is responsible for 10% to 15% of all human-induced methane emissions.

The demand for rice is projected to increase by 28% by 2050.
Cucumbers: The Early Roots of Israel’s ‘Start-up Nation’
Are cucumbers an Israeli invention? No, of course not. Many varieties of cucumbers have been cultivated around the world for more than 3,000 years. They originated in India, and were known to the ancient Greeks and the Romans.

It is true that cucumbers, along with tomatoes, are a staple food in Israel; in many cases, an Israeli breakfast without cucumbers is inconceivable. But what I did not know until recently, is that the variety of cucumber that is cultivated in Israel, and in many other locations, is the Beit Alpha cucumber. (It is also known as the Middle Eastern, Persian, or Lebanese cucumber.)

Beit Alfa, a kibbutz in northern Israel located at the eastern edge of the Harod Valley, was founded in 1922 by Jews from Poland. Hefzibah — the adjoining kibbutz, founded the same year by Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia — is the location of one of the most important archeological sites in Israel: the Beit Alpha synagogue floor.

The Beit Alpha synagogue, constructed in the sixth century CE, was one of more than 80 synagogues built throughout the Land of Israel after the destruction of the Temple. The floor, a large and elaborate mosaic depicting, among other things, the zodiac and the Akedah (the binding of Isaac), is a reminder that substantial numbers of Jews continued to inhabit the country for several centuries after the fall of Masada.

The synagogue continued to function after the Arab conquest in 637, but was destroyed by an earthquake, which leveled many of the towns in the region, in 749. The remains of the synagogue were discovered in 1928 during the digging of drainage ditches.

It was while reading about the Beit Alpha synagogue that I became aware of the cucumber of the same name. Whatever the type, cucumbers contain cucurbitacins — biochemical compounds found in plants such as cucumbers and zucchinis. This causes a bitter taste, especially to the skin of the cucumber, a protection from plant-eating animals. The taste is also associated with a digestive condition known as a “burping.” In the mid- to late 1950s, cucumbers that are long, narrow and thin-skinned were bred in England. They are known as English or “burpless” cucumbers, and are common to the produce aisles of North American supermarkets.






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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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