Friday, January 13, 2023

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Amnesty International’s latest excuse to accuse Israel of ‘apartheid’
Protests against new government bolster Amnesty and its friends
Israeli demonstrations in which participants compare the new government to the rise of the Third Reich do Amnesty and ilk proud, particularly when Palestinian flags dot the scenery. Those in attendance may profess to be protesting Team Netanyahu’s judicial-reform plan and other policies, but what they’re actually doing is discrediting the essence of the country.

This was evident a few weeks ago at a conference in Damascus, organized by the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds International Institute. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the event brought together Syria-based Palestinian activists and Iranian dignitaries to discuss Israel’s demise.

One noteworthy speech reported on by MEMRI was that of Syrian researcher Shadi Diab. He presented “data” on the “demographic problem facing the [Israeli] entity, and its failure to achieve harmony among its [Jewish] residents, who immigrated [to it] from different parts of the world and have different identities, cultures and languages, different circumstances and widely differing goals.”

This “entity,” he argued, “never managed to achieve a consensus among these sectors, who came from all over the world, and this disparity is evident in the struggle and fierce competition that currently prevail in the political arena and in the government of this entity, between the various political, ethnic and religious sectors, such as the Ashkenazi, Sephardi and haredi [Jews], between Right and Left, between religious and secular people, between the civilian and military sectors, etc.”

It sounds as though his “research” consisted of reading the Israeli press. He couldn’t admit to this, though, since he proceeded to claim that the “Zionist media conceals these struggles and disagreements and prevents [the publication of] any information about them inside and outside the [Zionist] entity.”

This contention is even more hilarious than Amnesty’s definition of free speech. But neither is a laughing matter when seen in a broader context: the holistic effort to annihilate Israel through external means, such as weapons and delegitimization, and contribute to its self-implosion. Due to ongoing Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israelis, the “peace process” was barely mentioned, even by the Left, during the election campaign. The Right emerged victorious by emphasizing Zionism and Jewish sovereignty as values whose positive connotations need to be restored and nurtured.

It’s a shame that the disgruntled losers aren’t open to the possibility that this will be to their benefit, as well. It’s far worse that they’re offering both fodder and hope to those who don’t distinguish between Ben-Gvir and Ben-Gurion.
MEMRI: Empty Vessels Looking To Belong
Sometimes the search for identity can go from bad to worse, whether it be children lamenting having mutilated themselves in bouts of sexual experimentation, the bleak nihilism of American teenage mass shooters, or Westerners desperately shopping for new racial or religious identities. California teen detransitioner Chloe Cole, who had her breasts removed at the age of 15, compares the transition surgery of minors to Nazi medical experiments.[8] There are apparently at least 72 genders to choose from, as well as more than a few cases of white people in America seeking to reinvent themselves into higher-status Black or Indigenous personae.[9]

The challenges are not limited to the West. Urbanization and modernity have been major social challenges in the developing world for decades, and particularly destructive to traditional societies uprooted by rapid change. In Israel, the country's Bedouin population has experienced massive upheaval as they are settled in new towns built in the Negev. Faced with a disruption in their traditional lifestyle, poverty, and crime, many have embraced political Islam as a safe haven in times of uncertainty and upheaval. Proof of this is the large number of mosques that have been built during this accelerated process of urbanization. The Bedouin, who historically have not been characterized by devout Islamism, are mentally crushed by this process, during which they are losing their way of life and their identity. As a result, they cleave to Islam to hold them together from within.

Where it can maintain any sort of real vitality and solidity in the face of our liquid future, traditional religion (or new faiths) will remain somewhat of a refuge from such nihilistic darkness. Ours is a metaphysical dilemma and it requires metaphysical responses. It seems hard to be a centrist when the center does not hold, when the middle ground of supposed liberal reason is excavated out from under you. But one of the risks of opposing the zeitgeist by finding supposed refuges that seem the furthest removed or most intransigent from the spirit of the age is that of extremism.

The controversial, resolutely anti-modern former kickboxer turned misogynist influencer Andrew Tate, now under arrest for human trafficking in Romania, recently described Islam , to which he recently converted, as "the last religion, the last one, because no other religion has boundaries which they will enforce. If you will tolerate everything, then you stand for nothing."[10] Europe-based Islamic reformer Hamed Abdel-Samad, in contrast to Tate, sees contemporary conservative Islam as increasingly "dwindling."[11] Tate seems to have taken a faith journey, if you can call it that in such a singular personality, that went from nominal Christian to Romanian Orthodox to Islam.[12] Still, to be Amish or Benedictine or Chasidic is also to be in clear contradistinction to an unmoored world. But then so is being a white supremacist or a jihadist.[13]

In the United Kingdom, Gen X (she was born in 1968) Sally-Anne Jones went from nominal Christian to punk rock to witchcraft and alternative lifestyles to not just converting to Islam but to becoming a highly successful recruiter for the Islamic State.[14] Less than a decade ago, tens of thousands of other Westerners, both converts and cradle Muslims, were motivated to leave the West and seek to emigrate to ISIS territory, where their lives were in constant danger.

More recently, in 2018, 17-year-old Corey Johnson of Jupiter, Florida decided to become a Muslim by watching ISIS videos and reading the Quran, though he seems never to have actually interacted with a live Muslim. Johnson seems like a Generation Z poster boy for our time – no father, "above-average intelligence but delayed maturity, autism, and severe mental illness," depression, prescription medications, stalking on social media.[15] For the supposed sake of Islam, he stabbed a 13-year-old boy to death and attempted to kill two other people one night during a sleepover. Before Islam, he had been infatuated with Hitler and Stalin, with white supremacists. He supported the Oklahoma City bombing (which took place five years before he was born). He had a swastika on his Facebook profile. During his trial in November 2021 in Florida, his defense attorneys described him as an "empty vessel looking to belong."[16] Despite expressing remorse, he was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 21.

In this new age of fervid identity seeking, the state in the West and many legacy institutions, their own foundations shaken, are mostly either absent or, in many ways, seeking to be relevant by promoting the latest thing. Many will be swept along with the latest enthusiasm, the last mirage, which will constantly need to be reinvented and repackaged to give the impression of progress. The Cult of the New will be regularly appeased. Others will often feel that they are on their own, redundant or alienated, alone before the winds of rapidly accelerating change, alone before the darkness. In them will remain the spark of authentic rebellion. Instead of seeking utopia, the imperative will be a search for communities which seem to offer safe harbor – or the illusion of a safe harbor.
Jonathan Tobin: Harvard didn’t cancel Kenneth Roth; it decided not to honor an antisemite
Roth is a prodigious fundraiser. HRW was rewarded for his calumnies against Israel with a $100 million grant from left-wing billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Though some on the left treat any criticism of Soros as evidence of Jew hatred, his support for anti-Israel and even antisemitic activism aimed at supporting the Jewish state’s destruction renders their claims risible.

But Roth is also a terrible hypocrite when it comes to raising money. He solicited a $470 million donation from a Saudi billionaire, and in return promised not to advocate for LGBTQ rights in Muslim countries. Many on the left consider those who cite the fact that Israel is the one country in the Middle East where gays have equal rights (Amir Ohana, the new speaker of Israel’s Knesset, is gay) to be “pinkwashing.” But Roth was prepared to sacrifice the rights of Muslim gays in order to get more cash with which to attack the Jewish state’s existence.

An honest assessment of Roth’s record must lead to the conclusion that he isn’t a “critic” of Israel’s, but rather someone who regards its existence as a crime that must be atoned for by its destruction. His lies about Israel and willingness to deny Jews rights he wouldn’t deny to anyone else isn’t merely a controversial opinion; it’s a virulent variant of antisemitism.

He wouldn’t be the only one with such vile opinions to be given a prestigious perch at an elite university. But it is to the credit of Harvard’s Kennedy School that it drew the line at giving him the kind of honor he clearly doesn’t deserve.

Contrary to the arguments of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a group that has stood up in the past for conservatives, the issue at Harvard isn’t the defense of academic freedom, but normalizing Jew-hatred.

In a saner environment than the one that currently exists in academia and the establishment media, it would be the University of Pennsylvania under fire from faculty, students, alumni and the public for honoring an antisemite like Roth. Instead, it is Harvard’s Elmendorf who is under intolerable pressure to reverse his stand and give Roth yet another platform to advance his campaign to treat Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, as racism.

That the organized Jewish community has had little to say about Roth and the attacks on Harvard’s stand against antisemitism also provides more proof of the failure of American-Jewish leaders and their preference for liberal causes that do nothing to protect the rights or the security of the community they purport to represent.

Rather than meekly accept his claims of martyrdom, those who profess to care about fighting Jew-hatred need to put aside political differences and join in an effort to call him out for his lies. If Harvard is ultimately forced to surrender on this issue, it will be a triumph for Roth’s brand of left-wing antisemitism that is a growing threat to the ability of Jews to speak up for Israel and Zionism in the public square, and especially in academia.

Indeed, it isn’t Kenneth Roth who’s being canceled, but all those who are willing to tell the truth about the leftist war on Israel and the Jews.

Remembering a Great Historian and Philo-Semite
Yesterday, the author and journalist Paul Johnson died at the age of ninety-four. Johnson wrote several magisterial works of history, which combine perspicacity, lucidity, and a rare ability to see the threads that bind the centuries together. Uncorrupted by the academy, he was able to adopt its scholarly virtues while avoiding its vices. He was also a deeply religious man, an aspect of his character and work that his son, Daniel, movingly explored in Mosaic.

In addition, Johnson was a defender of the Jewish people and the Jewish state, a sentiment that comes through in his A History of the Jews. His reflections on Jewish history include a 1998 essay in Commentary offering a comprehensive analysis of anti-Semitism, which he diagnoses as a “mental disease” unlike other forms of racism and xenophobia:
[A]nti-Semitism is very ancient, has never been associated with frontiers, and, although it has had its ups and downs, seems impervious to change. The Jews (or Hebrews) were “strangers and sojourners,” as the book of Genesis puts it, from very early times, and certainly by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. Long before the great diaspora that followed the conflicts of Judea with Rome, they had settled in many parts of the Mediterranean area and Middle East while maintaining their separate religion and social identity; the first recorded instances of anti-Semitism date from the 3rd century BCE, in Alexandria. Subsequent historical shifts have not ended anti-Semitism but merely superimposed additional archaeological layers, as it were.

What strikes the historian surveying anti-Semitism worldwide over more than two millennia is its fundamental irrationality. It seems to make no sense, any more than malaria or meningitis makes sense. In the whole of history, it is hard to point to a single occasion when a wave of anti-Semitism was provoked by a real Jewish threat (as opposed to an imaginary one). In Japan, anti-Semitism was and remains common even though there has never been a Jewish community there of any size.

Anti-Semitism is self-inflicted, which means that, by an act of will and reason, the infection can be repelled. But this is not easy to do, especially in societies where anti-Semitism has become common or the norm. What is in any case clear is that anti-Semitism, besides being self-inflicted, is also self-destructive, and of societies and governments as much as of individuals.
A Rabbi Reflects on the Legacy of Benedict XVI
Born in southeastern Germany in 1927, Joseph Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth as a teenager, and was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1943. He later became one of the Catholic Church’s leading academic theologians, before being made Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. In 2013, he took the unusual step of retiring due to his declining health, and passed away on December 31, 2022. Rabbi Mark Gottlieb considers Benedict’s ideas and his historical significance:
Benedict . . . had nearly as much reverential regard for his “elder brothers in the faith” as his famously philo-Semitic predecessor. At the same time, his deeper appreciation of the eternal bond between God and His people Israel—of the flesh—is tempered by orthodox Catholic teaching on the exclusive salvific power of [Christianity’s founder]. Thus, Benedict’s affirmation, following in the catechetical footsteps of John Paul II, that the “gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) is complexly woven into more traditional claims.

As the Conciliar scholar Gavin D’Costa chronicles Benedict’s pronouncements on Jews and Judaism, he underscores that this “pontificate is marked by an increasing use of Jewish terms, familiarity with Jewish rabbinical literature, and a clear sense of contemporary Judaism as being the covenant people of God.”

Jews . . . were concerned when in 2008 Benedict reintroduced the Latin Rite Good Friday liturgy, which called for the conversion of the Jews. Benedict amended the full text of the older prayer, removing some of the pre-Conciliar language, but retained the calls for mission and conversion. Jews concerned over a clearly internal Catholic matter, namely the propriety and doctrinal purity of a matter of liturgy, should remember the late, great Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s injunction in his 1964 agenda-setting essay, “Confrontation.” For Soloveitchik, the deepest form of respect for the integrity of another faith community—and hence, one’s own—is demonstrated when we avoid the imposition of our own faith’s standards or interests onto the faith of the other.

This prudent counsel [allows] us to dwell on . . . Benedict’s singular defense of European culture and the West, and his restoration of reason as the crowning achievement of that very civilization under duress.
"Sharansky Warns Antisemitism Has Become ‘Mainstream’"
Former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky warned Thursday at the annual meeting of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM)’s advisory board that antisemitism has become “mainstream.”

“For the last 20 years, we could say antisemitism is on the rise, so what makes this year different?,” Sharansky asked.

“In the past, we’ve talked about antisemitism on the left, and antisemitism on the right. This year it became mainstream,” he noted. He emphasized that the United Nations has attempted to “delegitimize” Israel and holds double standards toward Israel. Board members joined from all over the world, including North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

All of this is happening within a context of extreme polarization everywhere, Sharansky added, making it “difficult to have one weapon” with which to help suppress antisemitism.

“We need to unite people on the left and the right against the new forms of antisemitism; and look for new allies,” Sharansky said to the board. “Against a huge rise in antisemitism today, we need a very broad front.”

Sharansky was joined at the meeting by fellow CAM Advisory Board members who included former Senator Joe Lieberman, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Irwin Cotler, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Mario Adolfo Búcaro Flores.

At the meeting, Shaheed advocated for not just presenting the Jewish people as victims of the Holocaust, but also for promoting “the full richness of Jewish life.” He emphasized their contributions to western civilization and that such facts should be incorporated into CAM’s educational initiatives.

Shaheed also lamented the intense pushback against the IHRA definition of antisemitism. “Our enemies have zeroed in on taking the IHRA definition out of the equation,” he said.
Anonymous letter in Church Times movingly recounts experience of Jewish exclusion
An anonymous letter in the Church Times has provided a moving account of a personal experience of Jewish exclusion.

In a letter published on 6th January, the writer, who identifies as “a vicar of Jewish heritage”, recalled: “At a recent diocesan conference, I sat a table with others from minority-ethnic backgrounds. They told me with excitement that, following the report From Lament to Action, they had set up a group to support those clergy from minority-ethnic backgrounds.

“‘This sounds really good!’ I exclaimed. ‘As someone from Jewish heritage, can I join the group?’ The answer, I was told, was ‘No!’

“They told me that they had discussed this issue, but the group decided that, as Jews were rich, well educated, and involved in the persecution of the Palestinian peoples, they should be excluded from the group.

The writer concluded by suggesting that David Baddiel’s assertion that “Jews don’t count” is “sadly correct”.

Campaign Against Antisemitism works to raise awareness of antisemitism among all faith and minority communities.
Jewish college students are falling through the cracks
In their zeal to construct an academic setting that reflects the true diversity of the nation—and simultaneously attempts to redress past discrimination and exclusion— universities have created campuses that have evolved in an opposite direction. Rather than helping students adapt to the real diversity of society outside the campus walls, the diversity ‘movement’ in the hands of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) diversocrats has served to create balkanized campuses where victims of the moment segregate themselves into distinct and inward-looking racial and cultural groups—exactly the opposite intention of the diversity credo.

Students from “underrepresented,” “marginalized,” and “protected” minority groups, who may well initially arrive at campuses thinking of themselves as part of mainstream society, are taught, in the name of diversity, to think of themselves differently: as part of a racial, cultural, sexual, or political subset of American life and victims of what is purported to be systemic bigotry.

In his engaging book, A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character, Charles J. Sykes traced the growth of this culture of victimization and suggested that it has increasingly opened wide divisions between races, economic and social classes, and the advantaged and the disadvantaged — particularly when self-defined victims make unreasonable or exaggerated demands on the larger society by which they feel victimized.

“In the society of victims,” Sykes wrote, “individuals compete not only for rights or economic advantage but also for points on the ‘sensitivity’ index, where ‘feelings’ rather than reason are what count. Once feelings are established as the barometer of acceptable behavior, speech (and, by extension, thought) becomes only as free as the most sensitive group will permit.”
Under the Radar Ethnic Studies Activists Push Anti-Israel Content into Schools
American educators have long taught about the history, accomplishments and struggles of ethnic groups under the rubric of multicultural education. In this process, the American mosaic is presented as complex, hopeful, and as reinforcing the national credo, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one).

Now, a nationwide movement called liberated ethnic studies seeks to introduce a politicized project into the nation’s K-12 curriculum that disavows this central tenet of education fostering national unity and cohesion. The movement’s teacher-activists aim to indoctrinate teachers, encouraging them to enlist students into an effort they claim is necessary to address systemic racism in America.

Many of the leaders of the liberated ethnic studies movement also profess their allegiance to anti-Israel activism and have shaped the movement’s content and direction sharply towards their views.

This report, the first of a series, includes information provided by attendees at educator workshops and webinars conducted by liberated ethnic studies organizers. It documents how teachers are targeted for indoctrination into an ideology that employs one-sided narratives, false information, and pejoratives in order to cast Jews, Zionism and the state of Israel as enemies of progress and oppressors. Prominent consultants associated with liberated ethnic studies are Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates (and here, here, here and here) whose purpose is to inject anti-Israel propaganda into American schools at all grade levels.

The aim in exposing these efforts is to alert the public, including parents, educators, school board members, school administrators and state-level policy makers, about the biased and inaccurate anti-Israel materials being aggressively promoted into America’s primary and secondary school classrooms.
StandWithUs Files Complaint Against GWU Over Prof Allegedly Targeting Jewish Israeli Students
The pro-Israel education group StandWithUs filed a complaint to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights against George Washington University (GWU) on January 11. The complaint, which was obtained by the Journal, alleged that the university violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for failing to take action against a professor accused of targeting Jewish Israeli students in the university’s Professional Psychological Program.

The complaint centers on mandatory diversity classes held by Dr. Lara Sheehi, an assistant professor of psychology at GWU. On August 29, 2022, the first day of class, Sheehi asked each student to share their identity and she validated each of them, until one Jewish student said they were Israeli. Sheehi responded by telling the student it wasn’t their fault “they were born in Israel,” meaning that the student should be “ashamed” of her Israeli identity, the complaint stated.

About a month later, Sheehi encouraged students to go to her Brown Bag Lecture scheduled in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The lecture featured guest speaker Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian saying “that good deeds done by Jews and Israelis are done to mask sinister activity,” per the complaint. “Invoking age-old antisemitic tropes about Jews using money for nefarious purposes, Dr. Shalhoub-Kevorkian claimed that humanitarian and philanthropic efforts by Jews and Israelis must be seen as suspect,” the complaint stated. “She denigrated Israel’s disaster relief work around the world, and stated that Israel “use[s] tikkun olam [the Jewish value of bettering the world] to camouflage [Israel’s] oppressive power.” Additionally, Shalhoub-Kevorkian suggested that the recourse to “white Israeli racism” is “violent resistance,” including stone-throwing. She also hailed an imprisoned Palestinian teenager who, along with his cousin, stabbed two Israelis, one of whom was a 13-year-old Jewish teen in 2015; both of the victims survived.

“Jewish students in the first-year diversity course reported that during the weekend following this lecture they were unable to eat or sleep due to anxiety,” the complaint stated. “They spoke among themselves about the pain and alienation they were experiencing and grappled with how to convey to the teacher and the class the way in which they felt targeted by the program based on their Jewish ancestral and ethnic and Israeli identities.”

The students did share their concerns with Sheehi during class the following Monday, telling her, and the entire class, that Shalhoub-Kevorikian’s lecture made them feel “unsafe” and seemed like “an excuse to bash Jews.” One of the students asked the class to think about what it must be like “to go out to a bar on a Friday night in Tel Aviv when there is suddenly a terrorist attack with people shooting” to understand day-to-day life in Israel. Sheehi’s response was to claim that the student’s use of the term “terrorist attack” was Islamophobic and that it was impossible “to separate the student’s identity from the political.” Furthermore, not only did Sheehi reject their claims that the lecture was antisemitic, but also she said it was “beneficial” for the students to feel targeted during the lecture and that they should “lean into” that feeling as part of how the class aims to disrupt. She was also adamant that the viewpoint that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism is simply a fact.
George Washington University responds to antisemitism complaint filed by StandWithUs
George Washington University (GW) responded to the new antisemitism-related complaint against the university, which the Israel education organization StandWithUs filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

“The George Washington University strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred, discrimination and bias in all forms,” the university’s official Instagram account stated.

The university further said it was “committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment where all feel safe and free of harassment, hostility or marginalization.”

On Thursday, StandWithUs announced that it had filed a Title VI complaint against the university which alleged that GW had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to safeguard Jewish students in its Professional Psychology Program “from a hostile environment.”

The complaint further accused GW officials of retaliating against the students through disciplinary proceedings launched against them when they brought their concerns to university officials.
David Hirsh: NUS analysis: This powerful report is shocking but comes as no surprise
Momentum founder Jon Lansman refused to apologise for the continued impact and “hatred” of the pressure group’s activists after an intervention from the audience by Labour MP Stella Creasy.

At the Jewish Labour Movement conference on Sunday, Mr Lansman accepted there was a “problem” in some places, particularly local in branches, but said he was proud of Momentum’s record of campaigning in marginal constituencies across the country.

Mr Lansman also accepted that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could not comprehend that it is possible to be “an anti-racist but still have racist prejudice”, and called the 2015-2019 period “the most traumatic and stressful years of my life”.

In an unexpected intervention from the floor, the sitting Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, said to Mr Lansman: “It is welcome that you are here today, but unity isn’t the same as accountability.”

“I am interested in the impact Momentum had 2017, 2018, 2019, and they are still having, with many of us still dealing with the consequences of these people and the views they have promoted in our local communities and the hatred we are seeing. So, help us out here Jon. Do you want to apologise for what happened and why it carried on?”

Mr Lansman, who resigned as national chair of the pressure group in 2020 but remains a member, did not address Ms Creasy’s question directly, saying: “I am extremely proud of the record of Momentum. We got enormous numbers of people to every marginal constituency in this country, people moving from cities to far-flung marginals. I am very proud of that. There is no need for any apology about that.”

Momentum founder refuses to apologise for ‘hatred’ of activists
The National Union of Students (NUS) instructed independent barrister Rebecca Tuck KC to investigate longstanding allegations of antisemitism within the organisation. During the investigation itself, the union fired its president-elect, Shaima Dallali, following an investigation into allegations of antisemitism. In response, there were claims that this was a trumped up charge made in the interests of Zionism.

The first paragraph of Tuck’s report is already damning: for years Jewish students have not felt welcome in NUS; there “have been numerous instances of antisemitism”; it has fallen on Jewish students to complain; their complaints have not been heard properly; there have been recommendations to make things better but they haven’t got better. Ms Tuck reports that many independent accounts have been given to her “of students being identified as ‘a Jew’ then being treated as a pariah at NUS events - subject to rooms ‘going quiet’ when they walk in, conversations abruptly ceasing, being whispered about and stared at.”

Tuck wrote she had “indeed found it to be the case” that many instances of antisemitism occur when “anti-Zionist” campaigning takes place.

Tuck quotes the evidence of three students who had recently held elected positions in NUS who all reported that the complexity of their own identities and politics had been flattened by the institutional culture in NUS to the single aspect, Jewish. The report gives many detailed examples of this and other antisemitic treatment. Tuck is clear that there was “an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”, which are the words used in the Equality Act 2010 to describe harassment.

Current NUS policy, mandated by conference, affirms the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Tuck says that there is nothing to gain by changing this situation. She says that she was not shown any example in NUS where IHRA had been used to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism; nor where it had created a “chilling effect” on free speech.

Success! Prominent Anti-Israel Activist Firas al-Najim Suspended By Twitter Following HonestReporting Canada Actions
Firas al-Najim, one of Canada’s most prominent anti-Israel activists who has been accused of repeatedly spreading antisemitic content, has been suspended by Twitter following a campaign to remove him from the platform by HonestReporting Canada, due to his publishing hateful and antisemitic content.

Al-Najim, who leads an organization called Canadian Defenders for Human Rights (CD4HR), has been the subject of a number of HonestReporting Canada alerts (see here, here, and here) and who most recently used his Twitter account to accuse Jews of being prophet-killers.

Unfortunately, this only scratches the surface of al-Najim’s activity, both on social media and off.

Al-Najim’s Twitter account, with 1,327 followers, has been a hotbed of anti-Israel incitement.

One photo he posted this past week featured the text “Support the upcoming #Intifada,” alongside al-Najim holding a large rock, likely referencing the widespread use of rocks and stones to injure and murder Israeli civilians during the Palestinian intifadas, or uprisings, which could be seen by some readers as an incitement to violence.

He has also used his social media platform to promote the activities of terrorist organizations.
Leading travel firm apologises after using smiley-face emojis to promote Auschwitz tours even after apologising for doing so in the past
A leading travel firm is reportedly once again using smiley-face emojis to promote tours to the Auschwitz death camp even after the company was reportedly forced to apologise for doing so in the past.

Hays Travel has apologised for a second time after it was discovered that it once again used the jovial imagery on Facebook to promote the tours, which it listed along with trips to Disneyland and the Grand Canyon.

Hays Travel said: “We are very sorry to have caused offence especially after we tried to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. As soon as this was brought to our attention we immediately removed these posts from Facebook.”

According to the JC, the Advertising Standards Authority said that it took “this particular issue very seriously and recognise that this obviously has the potential to prompt concerns,” adding that its rules say that advertisements “should not contain anything likely to cause harm or offence.” It has the power to order advertisers to remove materials.

Hays Travel has over 450 branches across the UK.

Holocaust documentary asks why Lithuania honors villains as heroes
Grant Gochin had seen documentation of Jonas Noreika’s signature ordering the construction of a ghetto to confine Lithuanian Jews who would be brutally shot to death. About 100 of Gochin’s relatives die this way, he said. So when the granddaughter of Noreika (who was governor of the Šiauliai district during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania) called him on the phone in 2018, he figured there might be a legal threat.

“I was expecting her to say, ‘I want to sue you for slandering my grandfather,’” Gochin told JNS. “I had absolutely no idea she was doing her own research. The relationship she and I had created is proof that we can create reconciliation.”

Silvia Foti was calling to tell him her research showed that the number of Jews murdered in an area was more likely 10,000 more than he thought.

Gochin has filed more than 30 court actions against Lithuania, including lawsuits and appeals, largely due to the courts listing Noreika as a hero.

Foti and Gochin feature prominently in the riveting and harrowing new documentary “J’Accuse!” which focuses on how Lithuanians were in many cases eager to murder Jews, even before the Nazis did.

Gochin, the honorary consul for the Republic of Tongo in Los Angeles and author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation: One Man’s Quest for Truth,” became friends with Foti and they have a similar mission.

Foti is a journalist who had long been told her grandfather was a hero who battled the communists. But when she visited a school named after him, she was told of the rumor that his work directly resulted in the murder of Jews.
Australian state leader apologizes for wearing Nazi uniform at 21st birthday
The head of Australia's New South Wales government Dominic Perrottet has been forced to apologize following the revelation that he wore a Nazi uniform to his 21st birthday party some 20 years ago.

The birthday party in question took place in 2003 and only came to light this week when, after days of rumor and speculation, Perrottet admitted to having worn a Nazi uniform to the costume party.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the Australian politician said that he was "deeply ashamed" of what he did, and added that he was "truly sorry for the hurt and the pain that it will cause people" across the state of New South Wales, particularly "the Jewish community, Holocaust Survivors and veterans and their families."

An estimated 50,000 Jews live in the New South Wales area, according to a 2016 census.

Continuing his televised apology, the premier said: "I was naive, I didn't understand the significance of that decision, the hurt and the pain of what that uniform represents, particularly to the millions of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust."

Jewish Heirs of Van Gogh Painting With Nazi Past Sue Current Japanese Owners for $750 Million
A Japanese insurance company that owns one of Vincent van Gogh’s famous paintings titled Sunflowers is being sued by the descendants of the artwork’s original Jewish owner who claim that the Nazis forced their ancestor to sell the painting in the 1930s, The Art Newspaper reported.

Three descendants of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy said in a lawsuit filed in Chicago in December that the Tokyo-based Sompo Holdings allegedly knew the artwork was a “casualty of Nazi policies” when a predecessor of the insurance company — Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Company — bought the painting for $39.9 million at a Christie’s auction in London in 1987. The painting by the Dutch post-impressionist artist was later moved to the Sompo Museum of Fine Art in Tokyo, where it is currently on permanent display.

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who was born in Berlin in 1875, was a banker who also had an impressive art collection that included pieces by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933 and it is believed that Sunflowers was sold in Berlin in 1934. The Jewish art collector, who also transferred many of his artworks overseas to keep them from being looted by the Nazis, died in May 1935 in Berlin at the age of 59 after reportedly being attacked by a Nazi thug.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Julius H. Schoeps, told The Independent he believes his great-uncle sold the paintings to fund his family’s escape from Nazi Germany. In the 98-page complaint filed in court, the family said Mendelssohn-Bartholdy “never intended to transfer any of his paintings and that he was forced to transfer them only because of threats and economic pressures by the Nazi government.”

They claim Sompo Holdings was “recklessly indifferent” to the painting’s Nazi past, and that the company or its predecessor “ignored” the painting’s provenance.
After five years of waiting, American convert finally granted Israeli citizenship
David Ben Moshe, a Black American convert to Judaism, obtained Israeli citizenship on Thursday, bringing to a close a five-year struggle against bureaucracy, inefficiency and purported bigotry.

“I am [feeling] absolutely incredible today,” Ben Moshe told The Times of Israel, just after he received the official documentation confirming his status as a new immigrant.

“I’ve been suffering and punished and dragged through an unjust process for five years, and it’s all over. And now I can get to building my life in Israel with my wife, my two children and — be’ezrat Hashem [with God’s help] — more children,” he said.

Ben Moshe, born David Bonett, was raised in a Christian household in Maryland. As a young man, he got involved in the drug trade in Baltimore. In 2010, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison on drug and firearms charges. While in prison he became interested in Judaism, after seeing another inmate studying a Hebrew text.

When he was released, he approached an Orthodox rabbi in Baltimore, Rabbi Etan Mintz of the B’nai Israel synagogue, to inquire about converting. He completed his conversion — as well as a bachelor’s degree from Towson University — in 2017 and came to Israel shortly thereafter to study at Jerusalem’s Pardes Institute, a pluralistic educational program. There he met Tamar Gesser, who would later become his wife.

“I found Hashem in prison,” he said, using a Hebrew term for God. “Becoming a Jew changed my life so much for the better.”

"Blue Box Behind the Greening of Israel Turns 122"
The Jewish National Fund, a.k.a. Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, was founded 122 years ago yesterday, on 19 Tevet 5661 (January 21, 1901 – it was on Shabbat) to buy and develop land in what later became Mandatory Palestine, and subsequently Israel, for Jewish settlement. KKL-JNF is a non-profit organization that by 2007 owned 13% of the total land in Israel.

That’s a lot of non-profit. Even when Filmmaker Woody Allen confessed to stealing money from the JNF box in his anti-Israel NY Times op-ed many years ago.

Since its inception, the JNF planted more than 240 million trees in Israel, built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres of land, and established more than 1,000 parks. It was awarded the Israel Prize in 2002 for its contribution to society and the State of Israel.

But for many of us who grew up either in Israel or the West, JNF had a steady presence in our classroom environment via the blue box, and once a week, usually on Fridays, we’d be asked to drop our pennies in it, to support the Zionist dream.

The Blue Box continues to be a symbol of Jewish renewal in Eretz Israel, and to honor it, KKL-JNF re-published a series of historic images connecting the fund with Jewish children.

A new translation of Franz Kafka’s diaries restores much of his Jewish musings
Franz Kafka was a devotee of Yiddish theater, fell in love with his Hebrew teacher and once encountered the owner of a brothel he frequented in synagogue on Yom Kippur.

The broad strokes of Kafka’s biography have long been known to historians, but a new English translation of the Czech author’s complete and unabridged diaries gives readers the fullest possible picture of his complex, contradictory relationship with Judaism.

For an author most famous for his depictions of loneliness, alienation and unyielding bureaucracy, Kafka often saw in Judaism an opportunity to forge a shared community.

“The beautiful strong separations in Judaism,” he praises at one point, in a disjointed style that is a hallmark of his diaries. “One gets space. One sees oneself better, one judges oneself better.”

Later, writing about a Yiddish play he found particularly moving, Kafka reflected on its depiction of “people who are Jews in an especially pure form, because they live only in the religion but live in it without effort, understanding or misery.” He was also involved with several local Zionist organizations, and toward the end of his life fell in love with Dora Diamant, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi who taught him Hebrew (though she receives scant mention in the diaries).

“The Diaries of Franz Kafka,” translated by Ross Benjamin and out this week from Penguin Random House, collects every entry of the writer’s personal diaries covering the period from 1908 until 1923, the year before his death from tuberculosis at the age of 41.

Although versions of Kafka’s diaries had previously been published thanks to the efforts of his Jewish friend and literary executor Max Brod (with translation assistance from Hannah Arendt), they had been heavily doctored with many passages expunged, including some of what Kafka had written about his own understanding of Judaism. A German-language edition of the unabridged diaries was published in 1990.

The author of “The Metamorphosis,” “The Trial” and “The Castle” was raised by a non-observant father in Prague, and he hated the small amounts of Jewish culture he was exposed to at a young age, including his own bar mitzvah. In addition, the city’s largely assimilated German-speaking Jewish population tended to look down on poorer, Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews.

But Kafka’s diaries also reveal a growing fascination with Jewish culture in young adulthood, particularly around a traveling Yiddish theater troupe from Poland whom he saw perform nearly two dozen times. He developed a close relationship with the company’s lead actor, Jizchak Löwy, and would host recitation events where he’d give Löwy the opportunity to perform stories of Jewish life in Warsaw.

Kafka himself would even write and deliver an introduction to these performances in Yiddish. He also witnessed his own father harboring prejudices toward his new friend Löwy, saying, “My father about him: He who lies down in bed with dogs gets up with bugs.”
In the shadow of giants
Over the last few weeks, I have marveled at a number of Holocaust-related doyens. For example, I recently attended a gala of Romanian music on the occasion of Romania’s National Independence Day, which also marked 75 years of diplomatic relations between Romania and the State of Israel. Sitting in the front row with the Romanian ambassador, Dr. Radu Ionid, and Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan was Maestro László Roth, a Holocaust survivor from Romania, whose piece, “Mountain Echoes,” was performed as part of the concert. Watching him bow after his work was played by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was very special. At the age of 102, Roth has inspired many in the classical music world across many continents.

Only a few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Reckonings, as part of the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival. This new film, directed by Roberta Grossman, highlights the testimony of Ben Ferencz, who will soon receive the US Congressional gold medal. Ferencz, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, embodies the biblical directive, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” Like Maestro Roth, Ferencz is 102 years old.

As part of our efforts to safeguard the historical record, I am often quoting my teacher, Professor Yehuda Bauer. In a recent lecture, Bauer, the honorary chairman of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, asserted that “Holocaust distortion is a tremendous problem” as “it is a danger to society generally because it creates a world that never was.” In his words, “When you distort the past, you also destroy your own culture because it means that you cannot face the problems of your culture. It means that you hide it. It means that you want to do away with it, cover it over. You can’t cover it over. Ultimately, it comes up.” This message of Professor Bauer, aged 97, has never been more relevant.

Liliana Segre, a 92-year-old active senator for life in the Italian parliament, continues to share her personal experience as a Holocaust survivor, tirelessly devoting herself to teaching and learning about the Holocaust. In 1938, the Italian racial laws forced her to leave elementary school as a young pupil. She heeds us to remember the past and to cherish life in the hope that young people will be inspired by her story.

Written records of biblical King David discovered by researchers
The Mesha Stele, also called the Moabite Stone, is a basalt stone slab that has provided historians and linguists with the largest source of the Moabite language to date. Researchers have only now been able to verify with a considerable degree of certainty that the stele contains explicit references to King David.

The stele was discovered in fragments in 1868 roughly 15 miles east of the Dead Sea and currently resides in the Louvre museum in Paris. While it was damaged in 1869, a paper-mache impression of the inscription was captured before the damage occurred.

The slab is etched with a lengthy account of King Mesha of Moab going to war with Israel. The events described correspond, albeit imprecisely, with a similar account in 2 Kings chapter 3.

The House of David
The text contains allusions to the Israelite god as well as the "House of David" and the "Altar of David." However, until today, scholars could not be entirely sure that these references to King David were being correctly deciphered.

The Moabite phrase "House of David" consists of five letters: bt dwd. "Bt" is similar to today's Hebrew word for house - bayit - which is beit in its construct form. And "dwd" can be thought of like modern Hebrew's daled vav (the letter, in this case, is actually waw) daled which spells the name "David." (h/t jzaik)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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