Tuesday, January 10, 2023

From Ian:

Gil Troy: Israel at 75: The ancient love story between the Jewish people and their homeland
Seven Arab armies attacked. Starting with only a population of 600,000, Israel would lose 6,000 people. By the 1949 truce, Israel had secured more defensible borders, while 700,000 Arabs fled their homes — some voluntarily, awaiting victory; others in fear.

Israel’s War of Independence established this old-new state. Despite the war’s distractions, Ben-Gurion made another fateful decision: overruling his economic advisers, again, he welcomed every Jew who wished to immigrate.

Arab hostility throughout the Muslim lands and North Africa soon triggered an exodus of 850,000 Jews from Arab countries. These Jewish refugees became Israeli citizens on arrival — stabilizing the state the Arabs had tried to destroy.

Seventy-five years after these epoch-making events, it’s important to remember that life in Israel has often been stressful. Since 1948, Israel has had to overcome numerous challenges.

While full peace remains elusive, since Israel won the Yom Kippur War in 1973, no Arab army has attacked Israel. The once-monolithic Israeli-Arab conflict is now a series of conflicts, largely due to peace treaties signed with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

Along the way, Israel solved its water shortage, developed from a poor, primitive economy into a high-tech behemoth and ended its often vulgar and macho clubby culture. Although bigotry never fully disappears, the initial hostility against the Jews from Arab lands, the “Mizrachim,” has abated, and Arab-Israelis, who were under military rule until 1966, have now built a thriving middle class with full legal rights.

Ultimately, the instability that had Israelis before the 1967 war joking that, the last person fleeing the country should “turn off the lights” at the airport, is no more.

Zionism can also toast seven miraculous Israeli achievements. First, after millennia of homelessness, the Jews re-established sovereignty over their homeland. Second, Israel has integrated three-million immigrants since 1948, mostly refugees fleeing from persecution in post-Nazi Europe, the Arab lands, Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union.

Third, the Jews returned to history, as full participants, sometimes facing complex dilemmas, but no longer victims. Fourth, Israel’s western-style capitalist democracy maintains a strong Jewish flavour, expressed in the holidays, the traditions and the Jewish national culture, while guaranteeing all citizens equal rights.

Fifth, Herzl’s vision of “Altneuland,” old-new land, balances traditional values with trend-setting culture. Sixth, the once-dormant Hebrew language has become alive again. And finally, for all its challenges, Israel revolutionized the Jews’ image — and self-image — worldwide.

Israel remains a project-in-formation. Like Canada, Israel is one of the world’s few democracies, guaranteeing regular votes and permanent rights to every citizen. And for most Jews, especially Canadian Jews, Israel remains a favourite destination, a point of pride and their greatest collective endeavour in the world today.
‘A New Narrative’: Group Aims to Give Voice to Resilient Mizrahi Jewish Refugees
“When people learn that I am from Syria and I’m a Jew they look at me like I have 18 heads,” Abraham Hamra, a 35-year-old lawyer who fled with his family to America when he was a child, told The Algemeiner recently.

For generations, being Jewish in the United States has widely meant to be Ashkenazi. That’s an assumption Uprooted, an organization co-founded by Hamra earlier this year, is challenging. At a time of increasing antisemitism and anti-Zionism, Uprooted’s founders say raising representation for Jewish refugees from Arab countries and awareness of their harrowing personal stories can redefine the political discourse around Jews and Israel in the United States.

“We need to break that classification of Jew as this white man because that’s not a true classification,” Hamra, the president of Uprooted, said. “That’s one of the main goals; to really fight back and counter that ideology. Instead of just targeting every specific incident of antisemitism, we’re more focused on the root causes of antisemitism, which comes from a specific ideology. We see that it stems from this totally misconceived idea that that Jews are just white supremacist colonizers with no roots in the Middle East.”

Jewish presence in the Middle East and North Africa date back to more than 2,500 years ago but from what was once an estimated 1 million Jews living in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region, today less than 4,500 Jews remain in Arab countries, figures show. Between 1948 — when the state of Israel was founded — and the early 1970s, an estimated 850,000 to 1,000,000 Jews from Arab countries were forced to flee after waves of pogroms and relentless government repression against Jews. It is this tragic history which the group says it wants to share with the world.

“I wanted a group that is made up of Jews that are themselves from Arab countries and were themselves refugees, and of children of Jewish refugees from Arab countries,”said Rabbi Elie Abadie, a Lebanese Jew who is Uprooted’s spiritual leader and also serves as the chief rabbi of the United Arab Emirates. “Uprooted will be a personal and family story of people that themselves experienced the exile and the persecution from Arab countries.”
Jewish Soldiers Helped Liberate Palestine From the Ottoman Empire
The saga begins in 1915 when the Zion Mule Corps was created to deliver desperately needed supplies to the troops trying to dislodge the Turks at Gallipoli. The Corps was made up of 737 volunteers, largely Russian-Jewish refugees in Egypt, who were expelled from Palestine by the Turks. The first independent Jewish fighting force in well over a millennium, it was commanded by Lt Col John Henry Patterson, an Irish Protestant who sympathized with the Zionist cause. His second in command was Josef Trumpeldor, a Russian Jew of who served with distinction (and lost an arm) in the Russo-Japanese War. (In 1920 Trumpeldor was killed defending Tel Hai in northern Galilee.) The Corps was evacuated from Gallipoli with other Allied forces. By then, fourteen men were killed and 60 were injured, including Trumpeldor.

The second part of the story took place in 1917 and 1918 when Jewish soldiers, again commanded by Patterson, participated in Allenby’s assault on Palestine. The Jewish Legion was the unofficial name given to five battalions of Jewish volunteers; battalions 38 to 42 of the Royal Fusiliers, a line infantry regiment of the British Army. Initially it included former members of the Zion Mule Corps a well as British and Russian Jews. Later, they were joined by a battalion made up largely of volunteers from the US and Canada. This battalion, which trained in Canada (at Fort Edwards, Nova Scotia), included David Ben-Gurion, the future Prime Minister of Israel.

The five battalions, amounted to a significant force of 5000, about the size of a brigade. They participated in battles north of Jerusalem, at Megiddo, as well as on the east bank of the Jordan River. Close to 100 men were killed or died from malaria. With the end of the war, the force was reduced to one battalion, titled First Judeans, and then disbanded. Some members stayed and founded, a moshav, Avihayil, in central Israel.

Colonel Patterson continued to support the Zionist cause and the Jewish people for the rest of his life. Before he died (in Los Angeles in 1947) he asked that his remains be transferred to Israel to be close to the men of the Legion, and in 2014 his remains were reinterred in the cemetery at Avihayal.

In The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926), Lawrence himself noted that to Allenby the Arab Revolt was merely a sideshow. The Arab fighters never saw action in Palestine itself and the Revolt may have involved only a few hundred Bedouin.

It was the British Army, including a significant contingent of well-trained Jewish soldiers, that liberated Palestine from the Turks.


Jews of Rage
The anger that fills the Yiddish original manuscript of Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’ is muted in the book that became the classic account of the Holocaust for gentiles

It may not have been Elie Wiesel’s Night that first sounded the note of silence or elicited it from its readers. Night, though, is its purest, most powerful expression, as a work and in the literature that has arisen around it. The theme of silence, in its theological, existential, and linguistic dimensions, dominates the commentary on Night (this commentary cannot be called criticism, in the usual sense): the mystery of God’s silence in the face of evil; the muteness of the dead; and the incommensurability of language and the events of the Holocaust—the naming of these enormities, in other words, as unnameable, unsayable. To these one might add a fourth silence, the proper awed stance of the reader and spectator in the face of Holocaust testimony. The only thing more predictable than this injunction to silence is the regularity with which it is broken. And even this has been said before.

Let me be clear: the interpretation of the Holocaust as a religious-theological event is not a tendentious imposition on Night but rather a careful reading of the work. In the description of the first night Eliezer spends in the concentration camp, silence signals the turn from the immediate terrors to a larger cosmic drama, from stunned realism to theology. In the felt absence of divine justice or compassion, silence becomes the agency of an immense, murderous power that permanently transforms the narrator:
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

This famous and powerful passage describes a loss of faith, but faith can be lost in many ways. In Wiesel’s description, the murder of God does not collapse eternity or strip it of religious mystery. Where the eternal God once reigned, henceforth shall live the eternal memory of the witness. In the aftermath of God’s abdication, the site and occasion of this abdication—“the Holocaust”—takes on theological significance, and the witness becomes both priest and prophet of this new religion. “Auschwitz,” Wiesel has said, “is as important as Sinai.”’ The near-religious silence that pervades Night also appears in Wiesel’s accounts of its composition. Wiesel begins the essay “An Interview Unlike Any Other” by explaining not so much why he became a writer, but rather why he did not write his Holocaust memoir sooner:
I knew the role of the survivor was to testify. Only I did not know how. I lacked experience, I lacked a framework. I mistrusted the tools, the procedures. Should one say it all or hold it all back? Should one shout or whisper? Place the emphasis on those who were gone or on their heirs? How does one describe the indescribable? How does one use restraint in re-creating the fall of mankind and the eclipse of the gods? And then, how can one be sure that the words, once uttered, will not betray, distort the message they bear? So heavy was my anguish that I made a vow: not to speak, not to touch upon the essential for at least ten years. Long enough to see clearly. Long enough to learn to listen to the voices crying inside my own. Long enough to regain possession of my memory. Long enough to unite the language of man with the silence of the dead.

Night was written, then, only after Wiesel’s decade-long, self-imposed moratorium on speech had elapsed. But it was also written, as the essay goes on to explain, at the insistence of the French Catholic writer and Nobel Laureate François Mauriac, who was its first reader and shepherded its publication. When, at the end of their first fateful meeting, Mauriac asked why Wiesel had not written about “those events,” the young journalist replied that he had taken a vow not to speak. But Mauriac would not relent. Escorting Wiesel to the elevator, he spoke again: “I think you are wrong. You are wrong not to speak. Listen to the old man that I am: one must speak out—one must also speak out.” Wiesel continues: “One year later I sent him the manuscript of Night, written under the seal of memory and silence.”
Kenneth L Marcus: Biden Is Failing to Deliver in the Fight Against Antisemitism
OCR's new fact sheet is so weak that Palestine Legal, which routinely opposes efforts to fight antisemitism, offered Lhamon their congratulations. "We are reassured to see @EDcivilrights do the right thing: #RejectIHRA, and focus on rising threats of bigotry & racist attacks by white supremacists," the group gloated in a Tweet. Short of an endorsement from Kanye West, it is hard to imagine more damaging praise.

Jewish professionals were initially perplexed, and anti-Israel activists gleeful, that this new guidance failed to address the sort of cases in which Jewish students and faculty have been marginalized, stigmatized, and excluded on campuses from the University of Vermont, the State University of New York at New Paltz, and Brooklyn College, to Berkeley, Stanford, and the University of Southern California.

And yet close observers noticed a significant breakthrough that the Israel-haters either misunderstand or willfully mischaracterize. In a statement accompanying the fact sheet, Lhamon acknowledged that the "rise in reports of antisemitic incidents, including at schools, underscores the critical importance of addressing" this discrimination. More importantly, she emphasized the tools that are available to address this problem.

In the Biden administration's first public embrace of IHRA within a domestic context, Lhamon wrote that Trump-era guidance (prepared under my direction) "affirms OCR's commitment to complying with Executive Order 13899 on Combating Antisemitism" and remains available on OCR's online compendium of active policy documents. In other words, Lhamon has commendably indicated that this administration continues to view the Trump order as an active component of Biden civil rights policy—and emphasizes OCR's "commitment to complying" with it. This includes, significantly, the IHRA definition and its guiding examples relative to Israel.

The importance of Lhamon's statement is that it signals to the higher education community that OCR will continue, under this administration, to evaluate campus antisemitism under the same internationally agreed-upon standard that was used during the last administration. Eleven months is too long to wait to formally codify rules to combat the surge in antisemitic incidents in schools and on college campuses, however we should not fail to recognize the important commitment the Department of Education has made to IHRA.

For those campus administrators who have defied the IHRA definition, or denigrated it as merely political, this is an important statement that the Biden administration stands by this definition. The IHRA Working Definition remains the federal regulatory standard for evaluating whether harassing conduct is motivated by antisemitic intent. Colleges, universities, and public schools who ignore IHRA do so at their own risk.
Jonathan Tobin: Where’s the outrage over Biden comparing illegal immigrants to Holocaust victims?
After two years of pointedly ignoring a problem largely of his own making, President Joe Biden finally made a brief visit to the U.S. southern border in El Paso, Texas. While there, however, he saw little of the human cost of the catastrophe, as he didn’t meet or see any of the illegal immigrants who have streamed across the border since he assumed office.

But in the days before he arrived for what was little more than a photo op, Biden rekindled a controversy that has been simmering for most of the last decade. The president declared asylum in the United States a “human right”—underlined by the plight of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.

In so doing, he placed those who believe the collapse of security at the border is a national disgrace and a threat to the security and well-being of the nation in the unfair position of being characterized as heartless, at best. At worst, it makes them reminiscent of antisemites who refused entry to those Jews seeking to escape death during the Holocaust.

The pernicious comparison has been a recurring theme among some on the left. It was amply illustrated by the recent PBS Ken Burns documentary series, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” which falsely linked present-day opponents of illegal immigration, such as former President Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to those who closed America’s doors to Hitler’s victims or opposed efforts to rescue Jews.

It’s also a point that has been taken up by extreme left-wing Jewish groups like Never Again Action and even, to a lesser extent, by more mainstream liberal groups, such as the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, both ardent proponents of policies that amount to open U.S. borders. They were particularly noisy during the Trump administration, whose aggressive tactics aimed at halting illegal immigration were often depicted in the media as outrageous echoes of an antisemitic past.
London Centre Study of Contemporary Antisemitism: IzabellaTabarovsky: “Soviet Antizionism as a Classic Conspiracy Theory”

Media Breathe New Life Into Ken Roth’s Twisted Anti-Israel Conspiracies
Harvard University is a private institution, and we can only guess as to why Elmendorf overruled Roth’s appointment. But to characterize the former HRW head’s history of Israel bashing and antisemitism as “criticism of Israel,” as many news organizations did in their reporting, is wholly inaccurate.

Rather, Roth has time and time again demonstrated blatant, one-sided hatred of the Jewish state.

Most notably, in May 2021, Roth’s Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Israel of implementing a system of apartheid. The document contained at least 300 errors, as well as falsified quotes, which HonestReporting and independent researchers analyzed and rebutted.

HonestReporting demonstrated that HRW’s definition of “apartheid” is so broad that, if applied fairly and rigorously, then almost every nation would be guilty of it in one way or another — yet Human Rights Watch only put Israel in the dock. Outside of his work leading HRW and overseeing the production of its anti-Israel propaganda, Roth has demonstrated his personal enmity towards the Jews and their state on numerous occasions. In 2021, Roth was accused of justifying antisemitism following the publication of a report that showed there had been a spike in anti-Jewish incidents in the UK during the May 2021 conflict.

In a tweet that was later deleted, Roth wrote:
Antisemitism is always wrong, and it long preceded the creation of Israel, but the surge in UK antisemitic incidents during the recent Gaza conflict gives the lie to those who pretend that the Israeli government’s conduct doesn’t affect antisemitism.”

When a spate of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis in the spring of 2022 killed nine innocent civilians, Roth refused to condemn the perpetrators. As noted by some social media users, the notion that Harvard wouldn’t associate with an anti-Israel fanatic is not true. Before he died, former PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat was chosen as a fellow for the university’s Future of Diplomacy Project; Kennedy School fellow Rami G. Khouri continually attacks “apartheid Israel” and “racist Zionism“; and professor Stephen Walt wrote a widely-criticized book about the supposed influence of the “Israel Lobby” on US foreign policy.

Nevertheless, Harvard University — whose motto is Veritas (truth) — should be commended for facing the media mob and finally taking a firm stance against anti-Jewish hatred.
Guardian journalist or Ken Roth's lawyer?
Two Guardian articles by Chris McGreal – whose hostility towards Israel we’ve continually documented – reported on the decision by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy to deny a fellowship they initially offered to former HRW director Ken Roth.

The articles, “Harvard blocks role for former Human Rights Watch head over Israel criticism“, Jan. 6, and “Harvard Kennedy School condemned for denying fellowship to Israel critic“, Jan. 8, were largely based on a report in the far-left US magazine The Nation, alleging that he school’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf, vetoed the move due to Roth’s and HRW’s “anti-Israel bias”.

The allegation that Roth’s fellowship was derailed because of his bias against Israel was made by Kathryn Sikkink, a professor of human rights at the Kennedy School. Sikkink, in the Nation piece, attempted to refute charges that HRW is disproportionately critical of Israel by absurdly claiming that the Jewish state’s human rights record is on par with “Angola, Colombia, Turkey, and Zimbabwe”, and thus is deserving of such opprobrium.

So, while it may ultimately be true that Roth’s fellowship was denied due to his obsession with Israel, Sikkink is hardly an objective source. Though Roth also told the Guardian that “he now believes Elmendorf bowed to pressure from donors who are strong supporters of Israel”, again, no evidence was offered to back up his claim.

McGreal, again citing the report in The Nation, floats some prominent Jewish, pro-Israel donors to Harvard, suggesting their possible influence over the decision:
The school has received tens of millions of dollars from supporters of Israel such as the billionaire Les Wexner, who, the Nation said, was instrumental in bringing members of Israel’s military and intelligence services to study there.

Another major donor, Robert Belfer, is also closely involved with the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, which have sought to discredit human rights groups over their criticism of Israel. Belfer is a member of the dean’s executive board of major donors who advise Elmendorf.


However, McGreal fails to explain how, if the pro-Israel Jewish donors are so powerful at Harvard, Stephen Walt, known for the antisemitic conspiracy book on the ‘Israel lobby’ he co-authored, has managed to keep his position as Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

McGreal also egregiously plays down the criticism of HRW and Roth. It isn’t merely HRW’s “criticism of Israel”, but their documented malign obsession with the state, including their false charge of apartheid, as well as tweets by Roth promoting antisemitic tropes.
Guardian corrects claim over 'snubbed' anti-Israel writer
A Guardian article by Chris McGreal (“Harvard blocks role for former Human Rights Watch head over Israel criticism”, Jan. 6) included the following, in an attempt to show examples of “anti-Israel” writers, artists or academics being ‘cancelled’.

Other major universities have also snubbed critics of Israel including the board of the City University of New York, which [in 2011] blocked an award to the award-winning Jewish playwright Tony Kushner after he was accused of being anti-Israel.

However, as we noted in a tweet, a post published yesterday, and in a complaint to Guardian editors, attempts to block Kushner’s honorary degree were not successful, and he received the award.

Our complaint was upheld, and editors added that sentence “The board later reversed the decision following widespread criticism” to the article, and also added the following Editor’s Note:


What Prince Harry’s Taliban Kill Count Claims in Autobiography Reveal About Israeli Warfare
Interestingly, Prince Harry’s explosive allegation also reveals a great deal about warfare in another Middle East country: Israel.

In 2014, Colonel Kemp was invited to give evidence to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about Operation Protective Edge, which saw the IDF strike terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Discussing issues relating to the ethics and legal implications in a war zone, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan praised the Israeli operation for seeking to minimize loss of life and noted that the conflict saw approximately one civilian casualty per terrorist killed by the IDF, compared to an average of four civilians per combatant in other wars around the world.

“No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage. The US and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel,” he told the Knesset panel, adding: “The IDF’s actions during Operation Protective Edge were very reasonable, especially in light of the fact these actions were meant, first and foremost, to strike Hamas as a military organization.”

Ruach Tzahal, the IDF’s Code of Ethics, which is one of the first things conscripts learn during basic training, states:
The soldier shall make use of his weaponry and power only for the fulfillment of the mission and solely to the extent required; he will maintain his humanity even in combat. The soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm non-combatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, bodies, honor, and property.”

Despite this, Israel is frequently criticized over how its army responds to threats, including the recent echoing by dozens of media outlets of misleading claims that 2022 had been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem in almost a decade.


Christian tourists at the Temple Mount forced by Waqf to wear humiliating yellow garment
Some Christian tourists visiting the Temple Mount have been forced by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf to wear garments adorned with bright yellow stripes, some Israeli tour guides have denounced. The choice of color does not appear to be a coincidence, as in the past yellow garments symbolized non-Muslims’ diminished status in the world of Islam.

The Waqf is the Jordanian entity that has a custodial status at Jerusalem’s holy sites. The Temple Mount is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands. Non-Muslims, including Jews, can visit the compound where the Holy Temple of Jerusalem used to stand only under severe restrictions.

About two months ago, a Norwegian Pastor who prefers to remain anonymous led a group of 35 Christian tourists on a visit to Israel. The pastor arrived a week ahead of the group to prepare for the trip. He ascended to the Temple Mount with three Christian women. When they arrived, representatives of the Waqf approached the group and instructed them to wear special garments they provided. The long brown garment covered their entire body and they were also required by the Waqf to wear a large head covering. The garments had a prominent yellow stripe running down the sides.

The pastor explained that he had visited Israel dozens of times and ascended the Temple Mount several times in the past. This was the first time he had been required to wear the strange garb. He added that the women felt humiliated. The pastor described the episode to Amit Barak, the head of the Jerusalemites Initiative and a tour guide. He emphasized that due to the humiliating incident, he will no longer take groups to the Temple Mount.

This story was corroborated by the Temple Mount activist organization Beyadenu, which runs tours at the site. Their guides have witnessed Waqf representatives requiring Christian and non-Muslim tourists to wear the same long garments with the yellow stripe.

“I don’t remember this happening until recently,” one tour guide told Israel365 News. “Certainly never with such a complete covering and certainly not a head covering.”

Yaakov Hayman, an activist for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, frequently visits the Temple Mount and has observed the Waqf telling tourists to wear the garment on numerous occasions.


Louis Vuitton Slammed for Hiring ‘Ardent Antisemite’ Bella Hadid for New Campaign
The French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton is being criticized by Israel advocates for hiring model Bella Hadid to be the face of its new collaboration with famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in light of her past antisemitic and anti-Israel remarks and her participation in a pro-Palestinian rally that called for the destruction of Israel last year.

“It is imperative that influential people be held to account for their deeds and words,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told The Algemeiner. “Ms Hadid has repeatedly been identified with expressing hate promoting messages and inciting comments. LVMH should be particularly sensitive to this and should disassociate from her. Send a message that there will be no more no excuses, no exception. Jew hatred will not be tolerated.”

In 2021, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip, Bella participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in New York City and joined protesters in chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The slogan calls for the destruction of the Jewish state in favor of a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Hadid shared a photo from the rally on her Instagram page and in the image she was standing next to Waseem Awawdeh, who was arrested days after the protest for allegedly beating up a Jewish man and calling him a “filthy Jew.”

On Instagram she has posted “Free Palestine” messages and also accused Israel in the past of “colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people that has been going on for YEARS!” Bella told Vogue magazine in an interview that the Israeli government is “suppressing people” and previously posted on Instagram about “Palestinian oppression” under Israel. A petition was even launched in 2021 that urged major companies to drop Bella and Gigi as brand ambassadors for inciting antisemitism and spreading “misinformation” about Israel.


Phyllis Chesler: The New York Times’ Orwellian obsession with Israel
We do not yet have an appropriate name for what happens when long-trusted media, the internet, teachers and professors as well as the academic curriculum, religious leaders, anti-Israel activists on campus and in the streets, international organizations including human rights groups and one’s peers all repeat the same thing over and over again for 22 (or 50) years until everyone believes the information is true.

This kind of conditioning, coupled with rewards (“friends,” a good grade, a job) and punishments (losing friends, getting doxed or fired), is far beyond mere “brainwashing” as it was previously understood. And it’s happening on a massive, global scale and in many languages.

How does propaganda work? Sometimes, it consists of big blatant lies, narrative- rather than fact-driven, with malevolent purpose. More often, is a steady, low-key diet of info-bits that are meant to normalize the larger lies.

Today, the biggest lies, also known as “hate speech” when applied to certain people, but not Jews and Israel, are seen as the biggest truths. Propagandists insist that such lies are protected by doctrines of free speech or academic freedom.

Thus, Israel is an “apartheid” state (it is not); Israel is a “colonial settler state” (it is not); Israel is racist and homophobic (it is not); Israel is not a democracy (it is); Israelis persecute Arabs and Muslims (they don’t); and “Palestine” and “Palestinians” are the only indigenous people of the Holy Land (very much a lie). The “two-state solution” is viewed as “fair,” even though it is code for the elimination of Israel.

We have been immersed in such lethal lies for so long and from so many different but simultaneous quarters (Western “progressives,” the Islamic world, etc.) that it is now almost impossible to separate lies from truth. Will it take another 22 or even 50 years to do so? Do we have that long to wait?

Someone known as Emmanuel Goldstein, Orwell’s fictional, non-existent character in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is presented as the enemy of the state—the scapegoat for all that goes wrong.

Israel is Orwell’s “Goldstein.”

We are drowning in sewage.
CAMERA Op-Ed The Washington Post Rewrites History on the Temple Mount and Terrorism
“Those who don’t learn history,” the philosopher George Santayana famously intoned, “are doomed to repeat it.” This includes The Washington Post, which seems determined to repeat its historical revisionism about Israel.

A Jan. 3, 2023 dispatch, “Right-wing Israeli minister challenges own government with visit to Temple Mount,” contained misleading omissions and falsehoods. Reporter Shira Rubin detailed Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir’s recent visit to the Temple Mount, noting that it prompted “objections” by the prime minister’s office and “senior security officials,” as well as criticism from both the United States and Arab nations.

The Post described the Temple Mount merely as a “sensitive holy site in Jerusalem.” But this fails to properly denote the centrality of the site to the Jewish faith. In fact, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. Despite this fact, Jewish access to the site is severely restricted — particularly when compared to the access granted to Muslims. The Temple Mount also houses what some consider to be the third-holiest mosque in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

As Ricki Hollander, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has detailed, the Temple Mount has been revered by Jews “for millennia,” and “is the focus of their prayers and the site of Jewish pilgrimage, just as Mecca is Islam’s holiest site and the site of Muslim pilgrimage.”

The Temple Mount’s centrality to Judaism has made it a focal point for those who seek to deny Jewish political and social equality in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland. Indeed, for this very reason, it has become a battleground — a place to contest not only Jewish rights but the very history of Judaism itself.

As the historian Daniel Pipes has persuasively argued, the Al-Aqsa Mosque had languished in the latter part of Jerusalem’s rule by the Ottoman Empire (1517-1917). Only in recent decades has the mosque come to be described as the “third-holiest” site in Islam.
Partisan terminology and talking points in BBC radio reporting on Temple Mount
Later in the day Knell again promoted that same anti-Israel talking point in an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ [from 24:41 here] and in an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘OS’.

The same edition of ‘PM’ also included more promotion by Knell of the myth that Ariel Sharon’s 2000 visit triggered the second Intifada and that inaccurate claim was also extensively touted by presenter Razia Iqbal in the lead item of an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ [from 00:12 here] aired on the same day.

In the same edition of Radio 4’s ‘PM’ and in the lead item of a later edition of ‘Newshour’ [from 00:12 here] the respective presenters (Evan Davis and James Menendez) repeatedly referred to “Al Aqsa Mosque” and “Al Aqsa Mosque compound”.

Menendez: “…it’s known as Haram al Sharif or Al Aqsa Mosque: we’re talking about the whole compound.”

As we see, the adoption of partisan and politically motivated terminology and talking points – as well as historically inaccurate myths – has become standard practice across BBC platforms in the corporation’s serially one-sided but energetic reporting about a site holy to three faiths. Notably, the BBC continues to be considerably less enthusiastic about initiating any principled discussion about the fact that only one of those faiths currently has freedom of worship at that site.


The invisible Jews
Should I start with the good news? Okay.

If you are a secular Jew who does not wear religious symbols, skullcaps and attire, isn’t walking toward a synagogue or waving an Israeli flag and does not live in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in either New York City or London, chances are pretty good that you won’t end up as a statistic in the escalation of antisemitic hate crimes. (If you live in Paris or Stockholm, however, and you’re Jewish, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. You can dress like Dua Lipa, and the restive mob of Muslims who are on the lookout for anyone who might be Jewish will probably see through your disguise.)

Here’s the bad news: The overall number of antisemitic assaults has more than doubled in New York City, with Jews serving as the intended targets of 60% of all hate crimes. It does not apply to all Jews equally, however. According to a year-end report prepared by Americans Against Antisemitism, relying upon data supplied by the New York City Police Department, 94% of the reported incidents of violence between 2018 and 2022 were committed against Orthodox Jews, primarily in the neighborhoods where Hasidic Jews live.

Statistically speaking, a secular Jew can walk most city streets like an upright Episcopalian. Religious Jews do not have the same luxury, however. Their dress may be modest, but it is also dangerously conspicuous. The sidelocks, long black coats, wigs and headscarves are obligatory. Hasidim live in free societies, but due to the frayed social fabric of the moment, they are note free to go about their lives with any assurances of safety.

A tale of two Jewish communities: the vast majority ensconced within the population, while the rest, more devout, are mere sitting ducks.
When Antisemitism is Mainstreamed
In 2019, the Jewish Museum of London mounted an exhibition entitled “Jews, Money, Myth,” focusing on “myths and stereotypes that link Jews and money over the course of 2000 years.” There was no shortage of examples covering the broad expanse of ancient and modern history.

To that, now add Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. to the growing list of academics, public officials, journalists and celebrities who have jumped on the “Jewish control” bandwagon.

Batista, an economist who formerly worked for the International Monetary Fund, charged the new president of the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank, Ilan Goldfajn, with being “…essentially a financier, connected to the US Treasury, to the Jewish community. He is actually Brazilian-Jewish, born in Haifa, Israel. And the Jewish community has a strong presence in the US Treasury, in the Monetary Fund, in international organizations, not just in private banks.”

In one fell swoop, Batista not only conjured up classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish control of the international monetary system, but raised dual-loyalty charges as well by noting both Goldfajn’s Israeli origins, and his connection to “the Jewish community.” To boot, Batista unloaded a gratuitous comment about Goldfajn’s non-Portuguese last name as being “unpronounceable.”

Batista prefaced his anti-Semitic tirade by charging that Goldfajn, in his new post at the Inter-American Development Bank, would be antagonistic to the government of Brazil’s newly-elected leftist president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
‘Their Character Has Been Assassinated’
The unrelenting wave of street-level antisemitic attacks in cities across the United States and Europe are having a profoundly negative psychological effect on individual Jews, a leading clinical and forensic psychologist on told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

“We have victims who experience trauma…to feeling that their character has been assassinated,” said Dr. Rabbi David Fox, director of Chai Lifeline Crisis Services, a New York based nonprofit providing mental health services to the Jewish community. “We have bullying, and the name calling and the swastikas that are painted on synagogues, which effect not only on adults but children as well.”

Fox, who has directed the trauma services at Chai Lifeline for the last nine years, working primarily with the Jewish community and training emergency responders to manage crises in their neighborhoods, says his work has taken on new importance during a time when antisemitic hate crimes have reached alarming levels and Jew hatred is being mainstreamed by celebrities, political figures, and social media influencers.

Antisemitic incidents in the US in 2021 occurred at the highest numbers ever recorded, according to the latest annual audit by the ADL carried out in April, which began collecting data on them in 1979. Substantial increases in physical assaults were recorded, as well as over 1,500 incidents of harassment and vandalism.

While harsher criminal punishment for antisemitic perpetrators and increased community vigilance have been leading issues in Jewish communities, particularly in New York and London, the often hidden psychological toll on Jews themselves, Fox stressed, remains undercovered.

“You’re going to have emotional upheaval in people, which means that if a person is being maligned, humiliated, or shamed they are going to go back and forth between sadness and rage,” he said. “Rage that can’t be expressed because you’re outnumbered or they have weapons or are bigger than you. So they’re going to be sullen and detached and withdrawn. That can linger for a couple of weeks, partially because of the cognitive disbelief that such a thing could happen.”
New York City Police Identify Man Wanted For Antisemitic ‘Kanye 2024’ Assault Last Month
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has identified a man suspected of attacking a 63-year-old in Central Park while yelling “Kanye 2024.”

According to a tweet by NYPD Crime Stoppers the department is offering a $3,500 award for any information that would lead to the arrest of Perin Jacobchuk, 32. The injuries he inflicted on the victim include a broken hand and chipped tooth.

The assault took place at approximately 6:30 pm on the evening of Dec. 14. The victim was walking along the intersection of Terrace Drive and East Drive when Jacobchuk allegedly struck him from behind. Jacobchuk then fled west along 72nd Street on a bicycle with a trailer that displayed various signs, including “Hungry Disabled.” The victim was taken to hospital.

“Kudos to NYPD Hate Crimes for identifying a suspect in the vicious attack against a Jewish man in Central Park in December,” Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New York/New Jersey office, said on Thursday. “Please be on the lookout for this man and notify law enforcement with any enforcement.”
Mel Gibson Removed From New Orleans Parade After Backlash
Hollywood director and actor Mel Gibson will no longer be the co-grand marshal of the 2023 New Orleans Parade, organizers announced after facing public scrutiny and threats for inviting the Academy Award winner, who has a history of making antisemitic and racist comments, to participate in the event.

Gibson, 67, was set to appear in the Krewe of Endymion parade on February 18, but his involvement in the parade was slammed by The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Clergy Council and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

In 2006, as the “Lethal Weapon” star was being arrested for speeding and driving while under the influence, he infamously when on an anti-Jewish tirade, telling the arresting officer “f**king Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” He later apologized for his remarks.

Jewish actress Winona Ryder claimed that Gibson once called her an “oven dodger” — a reference to the crematoria at Nazi concentration camps during World War II — and asked her friend who was gay, “Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?” “The Patriot” star, who denied Ryder’s accusations, was also previously caught on tape making racist and misogynistic remarks to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
German court allows calling civil servant antisemitic, cites ‘Post’ in ruling
A German court in Hamburg on Monday published a landmark ruling, declaring a civil servant antisemitic because he compared a German Jew with Nazi mass murderer Adolf Eichmann and called one of the Zionist founders of the IDF a “war criminal.”

The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the court ruling that cited two Post articles on Michael Blume, as part of the legal reasoning for labeling him antisemitic. Blume is tasked with fighting antisemitism in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg.

In October, German attorney Joachim Nikolaus Steinhöfel filed a legal complaint against Twitter for deleting his tweet that called Blume antisemitic.

Calling Blume antisemitic is free speech
Steinhöfel explained to the Post on Monday that “there are sufficient facts that justify the classification of Blume as antisemitic; this classification is protected by freedom of speech.

The court mentioned Blume’s assessment of Orde Wingate as a war criminal, and his mention of Malca Goldstein-Wolf in the same breath as Adolf Eichmann and calling Jews ‘right-wing extremists.”’
Two students charged with hate crimes in Sir Robert Borden HS swastika incident
Two high school students have been charged with hate crime offences in connection with the display of swastikas and other events at a west end high school in December.

Ottawa police said the students, who can’t be named under the young offenders act, were charged criminally with public incitement of hatred, mischief, and criminal harassment.

“They are both set to appear in court at a later date,” police said in a release.

The incident occurred Dec. 1 at Sir Robert Borden High School on Greenbank Avenue when two Jewish students who had stayed after school were called into a room, where they found a swastika painted on the floor. As the students saw the swastika, another student made a Nazi salute gesture.

According to a letter sent home to families on Dec. 12, two students who had stayed after school were called into a room, where they found a swastika. As the students saw the swastika, another student made a Nazi salute gesture, according to a letter sent to families.


Israeli doctors travel to Nigeria to treat children with eye cancer
Five ophthalmologists at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer are on a five-day mission in Nigeria to provide advanced treatment and training for local specialist medical teams and establish a new intra-arterial chemotherapy center.

The humanitarian mission to Ilorin – the capital city of Kwara State and the seventh largest in the country – is dedicated to improving health outcomes for pediatric eye cancer patients in the area and to increasing the capacity for long-term quality optical care in southern Nigeria.

It is part of Sheba’s “Global Impact” initiative, which is dedicated to building bridges to prosperity through healthcare, innovating to implement cutting-edge health solutions globally and fostering critical relationships to strengthen fragile healthcare systems.

Retinoblastoma: A frequently-occurring eye cancer in children
With an estimated one in 15,000 Nigerian children inflicted with pediatric ocular cancer, the mission will focus on treating those with retinoblastoma, which can be deadly if not caught early. The team treating the patients consists of five specialists led by Prof. Ido Didi Fabian – an ocular oncology specialist at Sheba’s Goldschleger Eye.
Ahead of US and Switzerland: Survey finds Israel world leader in volunteering
President Isaac Herzog was presented Monday with the results of the annual survey on volunteerism in Israel, which showed that almost half of the population (42.5%) engage in such activities to various degrees.

The study, which included 503 participants, stated that Israel is one of the leading countries in volunteering, along with Canada (79%), Britain (63%), Australia (57%), New Zealand (51%) and ahead of Switzerland (39.9%), the Netherlands (39%) and the US (25%).

It further showed a balance between male volunteers (42.6%) and female ones (42.2%). In terms of age groups, 34% aged 18-34 said they volunteered on a regular basis, as well as 47.9% aged 35-54 and 42.% aged 55 and older.

In addition, Israelis with tertiary education and those with higher-than-average incomes reported higher rates of volunteering. Sector-wise, the highest rate of volunteering was reported among the ultra-Orthodox (60%).

Most respondents said they preferred to volunteer in areas of welfare and assisting disadvantaged populations, followed by education, health, environment, religion, and social change.

Upon receiving the survey, Herzog said, "Today, perhaps more than ever, it is up to us to boost social involvement and choose to see what unites us and brings us closer, not what divides and separates us."
Kibbutz Orchard Destroyed by Gaza Firebomb Replaced by Garden, Archeological Exhibit
A new archeology garden was inaugurated at an Israeli kibbutz near the border with the Gaza Strip, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Monday, after a local fruit orchard that served as a gathering spot for children was burned down by a kite-bomb launched from the neighboring Palestinian enclave.

Kibbutz Kfar Aza, a small agricultural community situated less than two miles away from the Gaza Strip, was on the frontlines of a new Palestinian tactic introduced in 2018, during the weekly “March of Return” protests supported by Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian territory. The tactic includes strapping kites and balloons with incendiary devices and launching them across the border into Israeli territory, setting thousands of acres of farmland ablaze.

A fruit orchard at the kibbutz fell victim to such an attack five years ago. “The destruction was devastating, but the kibbutz members were determined to recreate a new inviting place for the young generation to meet,” IAA said in a statement.

Funds were subsequently raised for a new garden that could serve as a community gathering spot, with the help of a crowdfunding campaign and individual donors. It was erected “in a location in the kibbutz that is more accessible to the kindergarten children, the youth, and families who can relax in the shade of the trees,” said Edna Ayash, the IAA’s exhibition curator. “The garden includes planted flower beds, a spice garden, and many trees that are already growing, as well as a playground and a barbecue area, making it a central inviting spot in the kibbutz.”

The garden also boasts an archaeological exhibition modeled on the theme of a household courtyard, which in ancient times was the site of daily foods preparation, baking, washing, and animal care, as well as rainwater collection cisterns.
Re-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sends a message to the Kotel
Just days after taking his second oath of office, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a note to be placed at the Kotel in Jerusalem with prayers for his state.

On Friday, Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, a Chabad emissary in Tallahassee, Fla., paid a visit to the Western Wall and read the note that DeSantis gave him, reported COLlive. Oirechman then placed the note in the wall as is customary.

“Heavenly Father, Gov. DeSantis and I pray that you look over our great state of Florida, protect us and keep us safe from storms and other disasters. Protect all your people and give them strength to stand firm in their faith,” stated the note, signed by DeSantis’s Chief of Staff James Uthmeier.

Oirechman commended the governor for his efforts to combat antisemitism and his support for Israel.

“The governor appreciated these words and re-emphasized his commitment to Israel and the Jewish people,” Oirechman said.
Karl Pfeifer, Journalist Who Documented 20th Century With A Jewish Eye, Dies at 94: A Personal Memoriam
The death of Karl Pfeifer last Friday marks the end of an unforgettable and unparalleled chapter in the history of Jewish journalism after World War II.

Karl — who passed away in Vienna at the grand age of 94 — was buried on Sunday in the Jewish cemetery in Baden, the Austrian spa town where he was born in 1928 into a secular Jewish family. Karl’s personal odyssey, and later his career as a journalist, spanned the Holocaust, the creation of the State of Israel, the depths of the Cold War and then the implosion of the communist bloc, the subsequent trials of democratization, and the emergence of a renewed, full-throated nationalism in the last decade of his life. But while most people of his generation were spectators at these events, Karl was an active participant in body, mind and soul.

I was proud to call Karl a friend and a mentor. His passing leaves me greatly saddened, yet grateful for the profound impact he had on me and so many other Jewish writers and scholars who knew him to be a fount of experience and insight.

My favorite memory of Karl is a deeply personal one. In August 2014, in the middle of the war between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza, my older son celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. Following the service at a Sephardic synagogue in the Yemin Moshe quarter, our guests trooped in glorious sunshine to a nearby restaurant, where Karl delivered a joyful, inspirational speech. Listening to him speak, I was struck by how profoundly different his life had been at the age of 13 when compared with my son or, indeed, myself. At the same time, observing Karl standing alongside my son with the walls of the Old City visible in the background, I felt a deep sense of continuity and perhaps triumph that we had arrived at this beautiful moment, knowing that the history that got us there could have been even more punishing.
Adolfo Kaminsky Dies at 97: Forger of Identity Documents Saved Thousands of Jews
Adolfo Kaminsky’s talent was as banal as could be: He knew how to remove supposedly indelible blue ink from paper. But it was a skill that helped save the lives of thousands of Jews in France during World War II.

He had learned how to remove such stains as a teenager working for a clothes dyer and dry cleaner in his Normandy town. When he joined the anti-Nazi resistance at 18, his expertise enabled him to erase Jewish-sounding names like Abraham or Isaac that were officially inscribed on French ID and food ration cards, and substitute them with typically gentile-sounding ones.

The forged documents allowed Jewish children, their parents and others to escape deportation to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, and in many cases to flee Nazi-occupied territory for safe havens.

At one point, Mr. Kaminsky was asked to produce 900 birth and baptismal certificates and ration cards for 300 Jewish children in institutional homes who were about to be rounded up. The aim was to deceive the Germans until the children could be smuggled out to rural families or convents, or to Switzerland and Spain. He was given three days to finish the assignment.

He toiled for two straight days, forcing himself to stay awake by telling himself: “In one hour I can make 30 blank documents. If I sleep for an hour 30 people will die.”

Mr. Kaminsky died on Monday at his home in Paris, his daughter Sarah Kaminsky said. He was 97.

His story reads like something out of a spy novel.

Using the pseudonym Julien Keller, Mr. Kaminsky was a key operative in a Paris underground laboratory whose members — all working for no pay and risking a quick death if discovered — adopted aliases like Water Lily, Penguin and Otter, and often contrived documents from scratch.






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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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