Sunday, January 15, 2023

From Ian:

‘Imam of Peace’ calls on Arabs, Muslims to embrace Israel
Born in Tunisia in 1972, Hassen Chalghoumi received his undergraduate degree from a university in Damascus before studying theology in Pakistan.

The father of five children, he arrived in 1996 in France, where he became the imam of the Drancy mosque in the northeastern suburbs of Paris. He has served as president of the Conference of Imams in France for almost 20 years, during which time he developed close ties to the Jewish community.

Chalghoumi’s work has in some circles earned him the moniker “Imam of the Jews,” in others as the “Imam of Peace.”

His mission: To bring people closer together in order to fight antisemitism and also Islamism, more specifically political Islam.

We sat down with Chalghoumi during his recent visit to Israel.

JNS: What brought you here?
A: In 2004-2005, I often had encounters with the members of the Jewish community and also went to Holocaust memorials since I am the imam of Drancy, a city known for its relationship to the Shoah. I have friends who spoke to me about Israel but initially I said, we are French Muslims, you are French Jews, it’s unnecessary to speak about Israel because we are neither Palestinians nor Israelis.

I had this tendency to avoid speaking about politics or international affairs and instead focus on France. But whenever I attended events that were related to the Shoah and getting closer to the Jewish community, and in relation to the [Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, the umbrella group representing Jews in France], I was brought back to Israel and the Palestinians and Gaza.

In 2009, I made the decision to come to Israel, to get to know the Israeli population and the geopolitical situation first-hand.

JNS: Do you believe that additional Arab and Islamic countries will make peace with Israel?
A: Years ago, nobody believed that Arab countries would do so. And I would like to recognize four people, the first being Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates, a courageous man who deserves respect. He helped bring the UAE into the modern world and he made history. Second is the king of Bahrain, I know him very well, I have great relations with him, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Also, the king of Morocco, his majesty Mohammed VI. Finally, Vice President of Sudan Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

They had the courage to forge peace with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians slam Biden administration for failing to stop Israeli ‘escalation’
Palestinian officials have expressed disappointment with the US administration for its alleged failure to exert pressure on the Israeli government to halt the IDF security crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank.

The officials also voiced disappointment over Washington’s failure to fulfill its promises to the Palestinians, including the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem and the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, which were closed by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was quoted on Saturday as saying the US administration “is not any better than the Right in Israel.

Ahmed spoke at a conference in Ramallah
Ahmed, who was speaking during a conference organized in Ramallah by the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party headed by activist Mustafa Barghouti, denounced the US administration for being “hesitant” and for making promises without fulfilling them.

Ahmed was referring to US President Joe Biden’s pledge to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which served as an unofficial diplomatic mission to the Palestinians before it was closed in 2019. He was also referring to a promise by US officials to reopen the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, which was closed by the Trump administration in 2018.

PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh warned that the “ambiguity” of the US administration’s stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would prompt the Palestinians to react in a different manner.

JCPA: “Temple Mount Crisis” Awash with Misinformatio
In the current situation, Israel’s domestic debate has also triggered misinformation which has spilled into the international discourse. Israeli political culture includes extreme language from both political directions, but regrettably, it results in increasing gains for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa and across the West. Israeli opposition leader and former prime minister, Yair Lapid, casting Israel’s democratically elected government as racist and anti-democratic, has only played into the hands of the Jewish state’s harshest adversaries.

Israel’s internal debate has also overshadowed the far more significant Hamas and Palestinian propaganda crusade, which claimed that Israel “stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in violation of the 1967 status quo in Jerusalem. Following the Six-Day War, former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan handed the keys of the Temple Mount to its vanquished Jordanian neighbor with the proviso that Jews would be able to visit but not publicly worship at its holiest site. As journalist and Jerusalem expert Nadav Shragai notes, Dayan’s concession was punctuated by a fear of turning what he viewed as a territorial conflict into a religious one. Ironically, though, to extremist terror organizations, the conflict is fundamentally a religious one, a fact still widely misunderstood by South Africa and the West.

The religious underpinnings of the conflict have also been underemphasized and even wilfully ignored. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have for decades implemented a policy of erasure of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Palestinian leaders have accused Israel of “Judaizing Jerusalem” for archaeological digs in the Old City of Jerusalem, shamelessly destroying Jewish Temple artifacts in the 1990s after the Oslo Peace Accords had already begun. Hamas has used Jerusalem-related issues as pretexts to launch its rocket wars against Israel. The 2000s’ Second Intifada, called the “Al-Aqsa Intifada”, cost hundreds of Israeli lives.

These claims were merely a continuation of a century-old Muslim Brotherhood inspired legacy. The first Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the British appointed and Nazi-affiliated “Grand Mufti” of Jerusalem, accused Jewish worshippers of endangering the Al-Aqsa Mosque by requesting a small partition be erected to separate men and women worshippers.

Historical context and perspective are key to understanding Ben Gvir’s actions. His symbolic turn away from what has been a tepid and concessionary Israeli approach to Jerusalem in the face of decades of violent PLO, Palestinian Authority, and Hamas policy regarding Jerusalem may appear confrontational and aggressive.

However, his approach is well understood by Palestinian adversaries who for years have succeeded in convincing Israelis and the West to adopt docile, tepid, and concessionary policies in response to both rhetorical and physical aggression. As uncomfortable and unpleasant as the optics appear, in the Middle East, the culture and language of power, honor, self-confidence, and both individual and national resilience, are concepts that Israel’s uncompromising adversaries and new regional allies understand.
Jordanian control of the Temple Mount will destroy the ‘status quo’
Meanwhile, Jordan is still providing a safe haven to terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who was involved in an Aug. 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem restaurant that killed 15 people, including two U.S. citizens. Tamimi was indicted and put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, but Jordan has repeatedly refused U.S. extradition requests. So far, it has suffered no negative repercussions as a result. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

Despite Jordan’s attempt to grab the Temple Mount and even the Western Wall for Islam, Muslims have themselves admitted that their claim to the Mount is based on a lie. In 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council published a guide to the Temple Mount for tourists. It said the site’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This too is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.’” Regarding Muslim rule over the Mount, which according to the guide began in 637 CE, the guide said, “In that year the Caliph Omar occupied Jerusalem”.

On Jan. 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. According to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Jordan, Blinken “underscored the importance of preserving the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and expressed appreciation for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.”

The historical record is clear. It proves that Jordanian involvement in the administration of the Temple Mount would destroy the status quo on the site and lead to further discrimination against Jews. It could affect Jewish prayer at the Western Wall as well. The Biden administration should adopt a policy that seeks to decrease the power of the antisemitic Jordanian government over the Temple Mount rather than empower it to continue its racist campaign against Jewish rights at their most sacred sites.
Time Contributor Gaslights HonestReporting After Claiming Ben-Gvir ‘Visited Al-Aqsa Mosque’
The ‘Jews Endanger Al-Aqsa’ Libel
While criticism of the Israeli government and its policies is entirely legitimate, Nechin’s fraudulent claims about Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Jewish holy site have the very real potential to ignite Palestinian violence.

Perceived threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque have long been a rallying cry for terrorism. After a Palestinian gunman murdered three Israelis and injured more than a dozen others in Tel Aviv on April 7, 2022, terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were quick to link the attack to the myth that the sanctity of Al-Aqsa was being threatened.

HonestReporting drew attention to the error in a widely-shared tweet, tagging Time Magazine and Etan Nechin.

Yet instead of acknowledging his evident mistake, the latter responded by attempting to ridicule our work. “So the ‘fact-checking site claimed I suggested Ben-Gvir visited Al Aqsa Mosque. Then they give my quote in which I don’t. Great fact-checking!” Nechin wrote, accusing HonestReporting of being “propagandists” in subsequent Twitter posts.

Nechin soon became the subject of ridicule himself, with social media users pointing out that he did claim Ben-Gvir visited the mosque (see here, here, here, and here). Indeed, the journalist’s odd gaslighting makes one wonder whether he reads his own articles.

Meanwhile, Time Magazine quickly issued a correction reading, “The piece was updated to reflect that Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Al Aqsa Mosque complex” — still echoing the disingenuous Palestinian propaganda line depicting all of Judaism’s holiest site as being part of the mosque compound.

‘Jews Have No Business Being in East Jerusalem’
The centrality of the Temple Mount to Judaism is beyond dispute. During prayer three times a day, Jews have faced the sacred Jerusalem hilltop since time immemorial. Contrary to what some news outlets like to suggest, the Western Wall is not Judaism’s “most significant site.” Case in point: the wall — the last remaining part of the Second Temple compound — only became a place of importance in the sixteenth century.

However, in Etan Nechin’s opinion, “anyone who goes up to temple mount is a sick f*ck and goes against Jewish religion,” as Jews have “no business” being in eastern Jerusalem.

In 2021, HonestReporting uncovered dozens of other anti-Israel tweets posted by the Haifa-born journalist, as well as antisemitic slander directed at Jews who disagree with him. For example, Nechin made a vile dual loyalty accusation against the US ambassador to Israel. According to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, this can constitute Jew-hatred. Nechin, however, blames antisemitism on “Israeli policies.”

His blind hatred for the Jewish state, coupled with his complete disregard for the facts, should perhaps disqualify Nechin from commenting on Israeli political developments in international media outlets.
Ruthie Blum: Lapid’s lament: ‘There’s only one truth, and the rest is a lie’
In a lengthy screed on Thursday in the Hebrew daily Haaretz, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid impressed upon like-minded members of the public the imperative to “translate our unbridled rage into effective political action.”

His use of the first-person plural pronoun in the piece—titled “They wanted absolute victory, void of doubts, and to hell with the truth”—wasn’t an oversight. On the contrary, it was a rhetorical device that the Yesh Atid Party chairman employed to emphasize the divide between the superior “us” and the inferior “them,” the latter being the nation’s right-wing majority.

Still, it wasn’t merely the ploy of a sore loser whose brief interim premiership was cut even shorter by the recent electoral victory of his nemesis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Nor was it simply a stab at uniting an otherwise disparate camp around a shared sense of despair in the face of a ruling coalition with an ideologically conservative agenda.

No, Lapid’s diatribe went way deeper, revealing a post-Zionist mindset that’s become increasingly fashionable in chattering-class circles.

“If this government doesn’t fall, Israel will cease being a liberal democracy, its constitutional structure will be beyond rehabilitation, causing the inevitable quiet exit of the economic and technological elites,” he wrote. “After all, it only takes a plane ticket, a bank transfer and instructions to a realtor for the sale of one’s home.”

Never mind that he had the gall, in this context, to invoke Venezuela—of all places—whose elites, he said, saw their country imploding and headed for greener pastures in Florida.

Leave aside his claim that “cultural-artistic elites still speak fondly of…Berlin, a bit like the way that veteran communists would talk about…Paris, but [those Israelis with] money and technological talent are already checking out Miami, [where] the sun feels familiar; the food is great; [and] they like Governor Ron DeSantis.”

The laughable thinking that Israelis who reject Netanyahu would be fond of DeSantis is an example of why even Lapid’s supporters have grown accustomed to his ignorance of history and current events.

But such a reductive portrait of Israelis’ connection to the Jewish state, emanating from the head of the second-largest party in the Knesset, is beyond the pale. It also illustrates that members of the right were justified all along to question the depth of his Zionism.

Thankfully, he’s no longer bothering with the pretense. What he hasn’t abandoned, however, is the left’s playbook, particularly its chapters on mendacity, hypocrisy and projection.
Tens of thousands rally against judicial reforms, police report minor scuffles
Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government to overhaul the legal system and weaken the Supreme Court – a step that critics say will destroy the country's democratic system of checks and balances.

The protest presented an early challenge to Netanyahu and his Otzma Yehudit leader, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has ordered police to take tough action if protesters block roads or display Palestinian flags.

The crowd at Tel Aviv's Habima Square had swelled to 80,000 people by 9 p.m. despite cool, rainy weather. Protesters, many covered by umbrellas, held Israeli flags and signs saying "Criminal Government," "The End of Democracy" and other slogans. There were no immediate reports of unrest, although some clashes were reported in the nearby major intersections, as police stopped demonstrators from blocking the Ayalon Highway.

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, has made overhauling the country's legal system a centerpiece of his agenda.

In office for just over two weeks, his government has launched proposals to weaken the Supreme Court by giving parliament the power to overturn court decisions with a simple majority vote in some cases. It also wants to give parliament control over the appointment of judges and reduce the independence of legal advisers.

Netanyahu's justice minister says unelected judges have too much power. But opponents to the plans say the proposed changes will undermine Israeli democracy. Israeli opposition leaders, former attorney generals and the president of Israel's Supreme Court have all spoken out against the plan.
Who is new FM D-G Ronen Levy, Israel's secret envoy to the Arab world?
Ronen Levy (Maoz), one of Israel's secret faces to the Arab world who helped prepare the groundwork for the Abraham Accords, has been appointed the director-general of the Foreign Ministry.

Levy, 48 years old, has been a leader in creating secret relations between Israel and countries with which there were no relations until now, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ronen Levy: Israeli shadow man's identity revealed ahead of new role
Throughout his long and colorful career, Levy has worked as a special envoy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the National Security Council, during which he was positioned in a senior role between 2018-2020.

At the NSC, he helped develop relations with senior government officials from around the world, including – as mentioned – countries with which Israel did not have official diplomatic relations.

Levy, a graduate of Ben-Gurion University and the Peres Academic Institution, has kept his identity and image secret until Sunday when the announcement was made due to security considerations.

For a large portion of his career in the Israeli intelligence community, he was known by most of his peers by his pseudonym "Ron Maoz," hence "Maoz" staying part of his name in this new and public role. Some of the officials who worked closest to him were unaware of his real name, according to Walla News.
IDF forces thwart two terror attacks, three terrorists killed
The Israeli troops were being stoned by local Palestinians when the assailant exited his vehicle and charged at the force, attempting to take one of the soldiers’ weapons.

The soldiers opened fire, killing the terrorist.

The incident came just hours after two Palestinian terrorists were killed while attempting to carry out a drive-by shooting against soldiers near Jaba, 5 miles southwest of Jenin in Samaria.

The terrorists, identified as Az a-Din Hamamra, 24, and Amjad Halila, 23, were reportedly both members of the Jenin branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

An M-16 rifle used by Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in a drive-by shooting in Samaria against Israeli troops, Jan. 15, 2023. Credit: IDF.

Israeli forces seized an M-16 rifle from the vehicle used in the attack, according to the Israeli military.

There were no Israeli casualties in either incident.

Bus traveling between Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem comes under gunfire
Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a bus carrying Israelis traveling along the West Bank’s main north-south highway on Sunday afternoon, causing no injuries, the military and local officials said.

The Israeli bus driver reported coming under gunfire on Route 60, near the West Bank city of Halhul, not far from Hebron. Images from the scene showed one impact on a window near the driver’s seat.

Local officials and first responders said there were no injuries aboard the bulletproof bus traveling between the settlement of Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops scanning the area for suspects found several shell casings.

Police officers closed off the highway in both directions in the area for about an hour following the attack.

In recent months, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

The shooting came during an Israeli anti-terror offensive, mostly focused on the northern West Bank, to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.
IDF soldier killed, 3 injured in accidental explosion on base
An Israeli soldier was killed and three others injured overnight Saturday in an accidental explosion on a military base in the Jordan Valley, the Israel Defense Forces reported on Sunday.

According to a preliminary probe, the soldier who was killed had found a grenade during a training exercise and brought it back to his room, where it detonated.

Medical personnel attempted to resuscitate him but were forced to pronounce him dead at the scene.

The deceased soldier has since been named as 18-year-old Dennis Zinobayev, from the central city of Petah Tikvah.

He was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal.

A second soldier sustained critical injuries and two others were lightly injured in the blast; all three were taken to the hospital.

The IDF has opened an investigation into the incident, the findings of which will be forwarded to the Military Advocate General’s Corps.

UK Recalls Envoy from Iran, Reconsidering Nuclear Deal Support after Execution
The United Kingdom is temporarily withdrawing its ambassador to Iran for consultations, and has summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires following the execution of British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari.

“We are sending today a clear message to the Iranian regime that we are watching closely what they do. We will respond robustly to any actions that they take,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said while announcing the new retaliatory measures, which also includes a travel ban and asset freeze on the Iranian Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri.

It was also reported Sunday in British daily newspaper The Telegraph that London is reconsidering its support for the Iran nuclear deal.

Senior Whitehall sources said the “context” had changed significantly since the negotiation process began, and as a result Britain was currently reviewing its options regarding future involvement in the talks.

“Since the negotiations resumed, the context has completely changed, largely due to the behavior of the Iranian regime,” said a government source, noting that relations with Tehran had been strained in recent months due to its policy of brutal repression of internal demonstrations against the regime.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak himself reacted to the execution of Akbari, accusing Iran of a “ruthless and cowardly act, perpetrated by a barbaric regime with no respect for the rights of its own people.”
Hope for Iran: Nazanin Afshin-Jam In Conversation With Hillel Neuer
International human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam is the president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions, and a prominent advocate for freedom and human rights in Iran.

Jonathan Greenblatt: The Nation’s antisemitic spin on Kenneth Roth
The headline of the article was damning: “Why the Godfather of Human Rights Is Not Welcome at Harvard,” screamed the boldface on the website of the Nation. The article, published Jan. 5, went on to breathlessly describe how Kenneth Roth, the longtime former head of Human Rights Watch, was denied a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The reason? According to the article, it was his perceived “anti-Israel bias” — particularly his tweets on Israel – that raised a red flag to the decisionmakers at the school. This, according to Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Human Rights Policy the Kennedy School. Sikkink told the Nation she was surprised the dean himself had gotten involved in the appointment. She claimed her efforts to convince the school’s dean to reverse his decision fell on deaf ears.

Why? The Nation article draws its own conclusions. And this is where the author diverges from journalism and begins a long trip down the antisemitic rabbit hole, moving from coverage of the appointment itself into the realm of conspiracy theories about Jewish control, power, and financial influence.

This is where an exploration of who is anti-Roth became a case study in how antisemitic tropes can infect even a journalist of author Michael Massing’s standing.

Massing, who, according to his online bio, is currently writing a book “about money and influence” constructs a multilayered conspiracy theory around the denied appointment, which is grounded in a series of suppositions about wealthy pro-Israel Jewish philanthropists working themselves into positions of power at the prestigious Kennedy School.

Massing writes that, in order to get the “context of (the dean’s) decision,” Professor Sikkink referred him to an article by Peter Beinart in The New York Times. Beinart, hardly an unbiased observer of the Jewish community when it comes to Israel, had suggested in that piece that the “campaign against ‘antisemitism’ … has become a threat to freedom. It is wielded as a weapon against the world’s most respected human rights organizations and a shield for some of the world’s most repressive regimes.”

In sum, Beinart’s opinion piece castigated the country’s leading Jewish groups, including ADL, the American Jewish Committee and others, for falsely accusing human rights organizations of antisemitism and allegedly squelching freedom of speech in the process.

University of Westminster mentor said Holocaust was a ‘myth’
A journalist who called the Holocaust a “myth” and defended the murder of Israeli civilians was a mentor to University of Westminster students, the JC can reveal.

Motasem Ahmed Dalloul, who works as the Gaza correspondent of Qatari government-backed news site Middle East Monitor, provided career advice to students at the university in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

The Westminster graduate was rewarded with a certificate of participation signed by Vice-Chancellor Dr Peter Bonfield and Caroline Lloyd, the university’s director of student services, despite a history of making shocking statements.

In July 2017, two days after three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death in their West Bank home, Mr Dalloul, who is Palestinian, tweeted: “Resisting occupation with all available means, including armed struggle is legitimate based on inte’l law. #ResistanceIsNotTerrorism."
One of Dalloul's tweets

An anonymous person responded to the journalist: “Walking into a home and stabbing three innocent people in the middle of dinner is not remotely equal to ‘resistance’. Terrorism is terrorism.”

Mr Dalloul replied: “No, they live in occupied land, they’ve served in army, killed Palestinians, innocent Jews live in their home countries, not others’ countries.”

In November 2014, sharing an article about Germany’s decision not to recognise a Palestinian state, he wrote: “They nurtured the myth of the Holocaust and then they continue supporting the Zionists!!”

BBC’s Bateman promotes lobbyists’ talking points
However, when readers discover at the end of Bateman’s report that Lord Ahmed’s visit to the region also included meetings with “Palestinian officials”, no such signposting is provided. A photo caption states:
“Lord Ahmad also held talks with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki in Ramallah”

BBC audiences are not informed of Maliki’s past position as spokesman for the PFLP terror organisation.

Readers are told that:
“On Wednesday afternoon, the UK minister travelled to the West Bank where he was due to meet Palestinian officials.

The Foreign Office said he would visit the city of Hebron “to hear about the impact of Israeli settler violence on Palestinian residents”, and would travel to the area of Masafer Yatta, where he “will reiterate the UK’s opposition to evictions and [home] demolitions”.”

Those “Palestinian officials” included Mahmoud al Habbash, the PA president’s religious affairs adviser. BBC audiences however are told nothing of Habbash’s defence of Abbas’ incitement or his repeated discriminatory – and ultranationalist – remarks concerning the Jerusalem site holy to three faiths and their effect on “prospects” for peace. No mention is made of Habbash’s approach to women’s rights or his promotion of “Jihad, conquest and victory” and so the BBC avoids having to characterise his views as “far-Right” or anything else.

The political affiliations and views of additional “Palestinian officials” who met with Lord Ahmed were likewise not deemed worthy of note by Bateman.

While Bateman did mention the UK minister’s visit to Masafer Yatta, he refrained from any discussion of “provocative unilateral actions” such as the construction in Area C (which is under Israeli control, including planning) of the UK donor funded school that Lord Ahmad visited.

The BBC policy of assigning signposting labels to Israeli governments, politicians and proposed policies while at the same time avoiding any description of the place on the political map of the unelected Palestinian Authority which advances illegal construction in Area C, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and pays stipends to terrorists is once again glaringly apparent.

In horror movie ‘The Offering,’ a Jewish spirit haunts Hasidic Brooklyn
British filmmaker Oliver Park isn’t Jewish, but he does have a deep appreciation for the Jewish roots of the horror genre that informed his work on “The Offering,” his feature debut as director about an ancient demon set in a Hasidic enclave in Brooklyn.

“Jewish horror stories have been around for thousands of years,” Park told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “All of these fantastic and rich stories come from this Jewish space.”

The first horror movie franchise, he points out, centered on the Jewish Golem monster and was produced in the 1910s, years before “Nosferatu,” the well-known silent vampire film from 1922.

The legend of the Golem, said to have originated in 16th-century Prague, has been credited with inspiring “Frankenstein.”

“Having been a lifelong fan, obsessed horror nut that I am, I’ve always wanted to get into the Jewish space,” Park said.

The demon in “The Offering” is known as Abyzou. “She is this very, very old ancient demon. For all we know, she could be Lilith herself,” Park said, referring to a spirit of darkness and sexuality found in biblical and Talmudic texts.

Israel a world leader in volunteering, ahead of the US, Switzerland, study finds
Israeli President Isaac Herzog was presented on 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, found 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 United States (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.”
82% of Israelis believe diaspora Jews should make aliyah - survey
A new survey conducted by the Center for Jewish Impact in partnership with the Geocartography Knowledge Group on Israel-Jewish Diaspora Relations shows that nearly 82% of Israelis view Israel as the safest place for Jews – therefore, Jews outside of Israel should make aliyah.

Most Israelis also believe that the Law of Return should remain unchanged, despite recent calls to amend it. However, 66.5% of Israelis said they believe that Diaspora Jews should not be involved in Israeli affairs.

The survey conducted online with a sample of 500 Israeli Jews aged 18 and over in the last week of December, sheds light on Jewish Israeli perceptions of the relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.

What are the survey's results?
Despite Israel’s current security situation, Israelis seemingly perceive antisemitism as a worse threat, as 82% believe that the safest place for Jews is Israel in today’s climate. A longitudinal comparison of this question shows a significant increase in this belief, as compared to 76.2% in 2020.

58.8% of respondents agreed that the Diaspora acts as Israel’s first line of defense against elements hostile to the country. However, despite the importance of the Diaspora expressed by this finding, 66.4% of Israelis believe the Diaspora does not have a right to be involved in Israeli affairs, since they don’t live in Israel.

“This survey offers a valuable perspective on the complex dynamics between Israel and the Diaspora and underscores the importance of strengthening this relationship,”
Robert Singer, chairman of Center for Jewish Impact

This calls into question the relationship dynamics between Israel and the Diaspora, as the latter is expected to defend Israel from the outside, yet is excluded from intervening in Israeli affairs – which often impacts them anyways.

The politically charged issue of amending the Grandchild Clause in the Law of Return was also addressed in the survey: 61.4% of Israelis expressed concern that changing it will jeopardize the relationship between Israel and its Diaspora brethren. This belief was found to be significantly weaker among male and Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox respondents.
Behind the scenes at the Israel Museum labs
Take a behind the scenes tour of the labs at the famous Israel Museum

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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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