Monday, January 16, 2023

From Ian:

How identity politics fuels anti-Semitism
For several decades, the NUS has been closely wedded to the cultural politics of identity. As an institution, it works as a kind of coalition of identity groups that are all governed by an ideology of victimhood. Within the ranks of the NUS, identities perceived as ‘victims’ enjoy formidable authority.

But the NUS has apparently made an exception in recent years when it comes to Jews. In this, the NUS follows the identitarian mindset now widespread in our culture, which positions each identity within a hierarchy of victimhood – and which inexplicably places Jews near or at the top of that hierarchy.

Among devotees of identity politics, the Jewish identity has lost much of its claim to moral authority. The status held by Jews since the Holocaust has been revised. Jews are once again being portrayed as powerful, privileged and as aggressors. They are equated with the state of Israel and presented as the oppressors of a highly acclaimed victim group – the Palestinians.

In a world in which victim status trumps all others, this shift has had significant consequences for Jews. It is not that identitarians set out to cultivate anti-Semitism. But identity politics has helped to create a cultural and political climate in which Jewishness is increasingly perceived with hostility, as a negative identity. The validation of some identities always implies a devaluation of others – it is a zero-sum game. Today, the Jewish identity is on the losing side of that game.

Jewish identity is gradually becoming what sociologist Erving Goffman, in his classic 1963 study Stigma, characterised as a ‘spoiled identity’. A spoiled identity is one that lacks any redeeming moral qualities. It is an identity that invites stigma and scorn. Today, this is demonstrated by campaigns against the age-old Jewish practice of male circumcision, implying that Jews are perpetuating a barbaric custom. In a similar vein, attempts to ban kosher meat in parts of Europe signal an air of condescension toward Jewish culture, which is viewed as inhumane.

Bigotry has returned through the seemingly innocuous medium of identity politics. Back in March 2021, Politics Live, the BBC’s flagship politics programme, featured a bizarre debate on whether or not Jews are an ethnic minority. Apparently, this was open to question because some Jews have now reached positions of power and influence in British society. For identitarians, Jews have joined the ranks of the oppressors. Jewish privilege is seen as another version of ‘white privilege’.

This identitarian mindset has fuelled the new anti-Semitism. It must be confronted – not just within the NUS, but across British society.
The Baffling Appeal of "Jews Don’t Count"
Though Jews Don’t Count may be a weak and frivolous exercise in moaning, it has nevertheless struck a chord with that section of UK Jewry who, by virtue of their acculturation and success, are best positioned to make their voice heard. Of course, no one is completely immune to the kind of narcissistic self-pity that Baddiel and his guests have to offer, but this popularity is still, at first sight, surprising. Surprising, that is, until we understand its subtext, which contains an attempt to answer the central question of what Shaul Maggid has called “post-Judaism”: what does it mean to be a post-ethnic and post-religious Jew?

In Jews Don’t Count, Baddiel interviews over a dozen Jews, but there are few Israelis, religiously observant Jews, or Zionists among them. He thus deemphasizes or excludes something like 80 percent of the Jewish people from his analysis. The only time we see a yarmulke is in the background when Baddiel visits a New York deli and observes that Jews like pickles. Jews Don’t Count is, in other words, very clear about what Judaism isn’t (religion, Israel, and, of course, being white), but it is silent on the question of what positive content being Jewish has. Baddiel has stated elsewhere that “I’m really interested in and connected to the culture, the comedy, and obviously the identity, which is core to my being.” (Baddiel is, of course, a vocal atheist, and someone who doesn’t even care enough about Israel to oppose it, though he makes no bones about not liking it very much.) But what does that identity, which is the core of his being, consist of? What exactly is Baddiel identifying with?

In lieu of any indication that there is something other than anti-Semitism that Baddiel finds interesting about Judaism, the alarming answer to that question appears to be that Baddiel’s Jewish identity consists precisely of being a member of a persecuted group. The otherwise baffling popularity of Jews Don’t Count indicates he is far from alone. While, historically, many Jews have abandoned their faith and people in order to shed the burdens of being a loathed minority, the post-Jew does the opposite: clinging desperately to that legacy of persecution as the essence of being as a Jew. For some Jews, a denial of God’s existence, the divine authorship of the Torah, or their eternal connection to the Land of Israel is more than just an argument they disagree with: it’s an attack on their fundamental being. For post-Jews, the same blow is received when someone tries to gently point out that they are not a victim of anything but their own inability to quit while they are ahead.
The undeniable link between Anti-Antisemitism and America’s decline - Opinion
The New Antisemitism
The modern rise of antisemitism also known as the New Antisemitism kicked off at the start of the 21st century with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. With the Islamo Leftist alliance behind it, BDS, with its agenda to demonize the Jewish people and destroy the State of Israel, quickly moved from the fringes of our society and into the mainstream. Civil society organizations, American universities, and far-left politicians would come to endorse the BDS ideology.

Behind BDS, there has always stood a burning hatred of America, its exceptional liberal democratic and capitalist character, and worldwide influence, which is why it has been embraced by the far left and radical Muslims.

With American Jews unable to mount an effective defense against BDS due to our small numbers, division, and aversion to conflict, a door was opened for BDS to get incorporated into the Left’s radical ideologies as they have gained popularity over the past twenty years, normalizing antisemitism as an integral part of anti-Americanism.

Antisemism is now part of the Left Radical Ideologies
BDS and CRT are now intimately intertwined through the left-wing theory of “intersectionality”, and are being aggressively implemented in the workplace and school through CRT-adjacent policies like DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Ethnic Studies Curriculums. Americans from an increasingly early age are being indoctrinated to view America as intrinsically evil that must be totally remade according to racialized and socialist ‘Woke’ standards.

Although Jews are a major target of these groups, the struggle is not really about us—the ultimate target has always been America.

American Jews need to create alliances with other Americans focused on helping the public to understand that anti-Semitism spreading BDS, CRT, Ethnic Studies and DEI are first and foremost a threat to our core American values. Nothing less than the future of America – and the Jewish American community – is at stake.

Gerald Steinberg: Ken Roth’s Main Contribution is to Antisemitism, not Human Rights
A listing of Roth’s vituperous attacks, including HRW publications for which he is accountable, and the lies, distortions, and unverifiable accusations would fill volumes. But a small sample provides more than enough to demonstrate the deep hostility.

Roth and HRW, are among the instigators of the renewed campaign to single out and target Israel by attaching the apartheid label, picking up from the Soviet and Arab league propaganda of the 1960s and ‘70s, including the UN’s infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. In 2001, HRW was a core participant in the antisemitic UN Durban conference where this theme was revived, and under Roth’s active leadership, continue to push the smear. In 2021, they marketed a 217 page propaganda publication under the heading “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”, and consisting of blatant falsehoods (lies) and distortions. Apartheid states – specifically, in the case of South Africa – inherently have no right to exist, and this is the fate that Roth seeks for Israel.

On a parallel front, Roth often displays a deep and personal hostility to Judaism and the Jewish people. In 2006, after HRW was criticized for a campaign demonizing the IDF’s response to a gruesome Hezbollah attack from Lebanon, Roth wrote: “An eye for an eye – or, more accurately in this case, twenty eyes for an eye – may have been the morality of some more primitive moment. …” As Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL at the time, observed, Roth’s comments repeated “a classic anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews.”

In parallel, Roth repeatedly blames Jews and Israel for the dangerous increase in antisemitic and at times deadly violence. In 2014, he attributed violent attacks against Jews and synagogues in Germany and Europe to Israel’s so-called war crimes during the Gaza War. In the context of the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Roth endorsed a propaganda piece published by a platform reportedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and headlined “Birds of a feather: White supremacy and Zionism.” Roth included a picture depicting a Confederate and Israeli flag, commenting “Many rights activists condemn Israeli abuse & anti-Semitism. Some white supremacists embrace Israel & anti-Semitism.” And in 2021, Roth tweeted, “…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.”

After intense criticism, Roth later deleted this last tweet, claiming he was “misunderstood.” But given the extensive track record of abusing and exploiting human rights for antisemitism, this excuse wears thin. Instead, Roth uses his Jewish roots as a shield, and odiously seeks to use the Holocaust – specifically his father’s experience growing up in Nazi Germany, as a means to justify his hostility to Israel. Adding to the indictment is the fact that in the 30 years during which Roth ran HRW, the organization’s reporting on and acknowledgement of antisemitism is largely non-existent.

Regardless of the reasons for Harvard’s rejection of Roth’s fellowship application – and in the absence of an official statement from the school, the accuracy of the claims cannot be assessed – it is important to counter the vilification of the dean and efforts to portray a catalog of antisemitism as “benign criticism.” Human rights and hate are at opposite ends of any moral spectrum, and the attempts to conflate them must not be tolerated.
In Revoking the Appointment of a Notorious Anti-Israel Obsessive, a Harvard Dean Stands on Principle
Few individuals have done so much to grant legitimacy to the distorted fantasies of the Jewish state’s enemies than Kenneth Roth, who presided over the transformation of Human-Rights Watch (formerly Helsinki Watch) from an institution that helped to bring down the Warsaw Pact regimes by exposing their abuses, to one that elevates the defamation of Israel above all else. This record may have been a factor in the decision of the Harvard Kennedy School dean, Douglas Elmendorf, to retract an offer of a fellowship to Roth, who recently retired from his position at Human-Rights Watch. The editors of the New York Sun place Elmendorf’s decision in the context of a larger effort to bring high standards to America’s most distinguished school of public policy:
To have made Mr. Roth a fellow would have aligned the school with those hostile to the Jewish state and thus Jews more generally. Too, it would have been an affront to the memory of the president for whom the school is named, John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Elmendorf has taken criticism for his practice of running a tight ship on personnel. A former governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, withdrew from a fellowship amid student complaints about how he handled the drinking-water crisis at Flint. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was removed from an advisory committee for what Mr. Elmendorf considered inaccurate statements. Even JFK’s own daughter, Caroline, quit in a quarrel with Mr. Elmendorf.

It turns out that instead of a kind of leftist or Democratic partisan, Mr. Elmendorf is starting to come into focus as a dean prepared to enforce the principles for which he wants the school he leads to stand. Mr. Roth certainly isn’t the first person who failed to meet Harvard’s standards.

Yet Mr. Roth’s reaction to the situation was a Twitter tantrum blaming Israel for “repression of Palestinians” and suggesting his failure to get a fellowship at Harvard owes to pressure from Jewish donors. Mr. Roth’s reaction itself confirms that Harvard’s decision to award him a fellowship was the correct move. Apparently he’s been taken on at the University of Pennsylvania, instead.

UK campaign org. claims antisemitism is weaponized to undermine Jeremy Corbyn
Accusations of antisemitism have been weaponized in the UK in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and his associates, the People's Assembly movement has declared in a unanimous vote on Saturday afternoon.

Who are the Peoples' Assembly?
The People's Assembly was established as a national campaign movement to take action against austerity, cuts, and privatization in the workplace, public services and communities.

The vote took place despite the movement claiming that it is not linked to any political party and that it opposes "any and all claims that it is possible to 'solve the [above] crises by discrimination or scapegoating on grounds of disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, or identity."

On January 14, the People's Assembly hosted the Jewish Voices for Labour movement and held a meeting entitled "Racism and Antisemitism Campaigning." While it has been confirmed that former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was in attendance during the meeting, it is unclear if he remained present for the vote itself. In attendance was also Laura Pidcock General Secretary of the National Educational Union, Kevin Courtney Member of the House of Lords, and John Hendy President of the Public Commercial Service Union.

A partial clip of the six-hour meeting in which Corbyn can be seen was live-streamed online.

The motion, which was unanimously passed, stated that "the weaponization of antisemitism played a key role in undermining the Corbyn movement and all it offered, not only in terms of addressing austerity but also of hope for a better future..."

In addition to this, the written statement passed around during the assembly's meeting stated "the use of antisemitism to attack those who stand up for the rights of Palestinians continues and is dangerous on many counts, for example, in the way that the near forced adoption of the IHRA so-called 'working definition of antisemitism' has limited free speech, posed a threat to academic freedom and led to a loss of jobs, fears of losing jobs as well as fears from those running venues to hold events in support of Palestinians."
New Jersey Has Shockingly Become a Case Study for Hate Crimes
The Jewish Federation of Greater Metro West, which represents 90 congregations and 150,000 Jewish members in Central and North Jersey, has set up an emergency-alert network and hired a former police chief to help secure synagogues.

“These days, there is a feeling in the air that things are different—people feel the change, they feel a sense of threat out there,’’ says Linda Scherzer, the Federation’s director of community relations. “Every day we ask, ‘What can we do to improve things, how can we counter this stuff?’’’

Archie Gottesman, a Summit resident who is cofounder of the nonprofit group Jewbelong, says anti-Semitism has become normalized over the past two years. Young Jews especially, she says, find themselves increasingly confronted with hate messages online and on college campuses.

In an effort to support Jews on campus and elsewhere, Gottesman’s group has mounted a provocative billboard campaign, #EndJewHate, designed to remind everyone of historic attacks on the faith. “Does your church need security cameras? ’Cause our synagogue does,’’ says one message.

“Anti-Semitism should be taken as seriously as any other hate crime,’’ Gottesman told New Jersey Monthly. “Most people don’t hate Jews. They don’t know how bad the problem is, either.’’
A College Class Made Me Anti-Israel: The Threat Is Real
When I was in college, I signed up for a course on the Middle East. I knew absolutely nothing about it, but I wanted to take it because the professor had a good reputation.

The first day of class, I learned what it was about: Israel and the Palestinians. I knew the two were in conflict, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Israel just seemed like some religious place in the middle of nowhere.

I wasn’t Jewish, so I had no connection to Israel. I didn’t even know it was officially the Jewish State. Educated in public school my entire life, I had only heard about the Holocaust. I didn’t know what happened afterwards. Though most of my friends and boyfriends were Jewish, they didn’t mention Israel, either.

The professor taught us how after the Holocaust, the Jews were given land in the Middle East that they established as Israel. Many of these Jews were highly educated lawyers who used their skills to deceptively take homes and land away from the Palestinians. They then changed the laws on the poor Palestinians, so that they couldn’t get their property back. The Jews were sophisticated colonizers stealing from a native people. It reminded me of the story of Christopher Columbus coming to America, though it sounded much more calculating. I became infuriated at Israel. How could they do that and get away with it?

During one of the classes, a student raised his hand.

“I’m Jewish, and Israel is my people’s homeland,” he said meekly. “We weren’t stealing it. We were going back to where we rightfully belonged after the Nazis slaughtered us. We had nowhere else to go.”

“Well, that is just one side of the story you were taught,” my professor said. “You have to take the emotion out of it and see there is much more to it.”

The student slunk in his seat and didn’t speak up again. That would be the last time I’d see him in the class.

MSNBC Claims Ilhan Omar’s Antisemitism the Fault of ‘Right Wing Hatemongers’
It is, therefore, puzzling that MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones characterized the episode as a storm that was whipped up by “right-wing hatemongers” in a recent article, ‘Omar isn’t afraid of McCarthy — but his purge vows are ominous,’ which appeared on the ReidOut Blog by MSNBC anchor Joy Reid:
Omar, in particular, has been a target of right-wing hatemongers, who have sought to other-ize her for years. In 2018, she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and both have predictably been portrayed as anti-American via racist tropes and conspiracy theories. Both lawmakers have also faced allegations of antisemitism for their criticism of the Israeli government.

This was the case in 2019, when Omar criticized conservative, pro-Israel groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for wielding influence over U.S. politicians. Reports have shown that AIPAC does, in fact, lobby lawmakers in favor of Israel’s government and funds lawmakers’ trips to Israel. But Omar apologized “unequivocally” for her tweets.

The condemnation of Omar from her Democrat colleagues — as well as her own apology — was evidence that very little about the case was connected to right-wingers spreading “racist tropes and conspiracy theories.” Rather, it was proof that her criticism of Israel had gone too far for even ardent critics of the Jewish state.

Furthermore, Jones fails to note that the “Benjamins” remark is in reality the tip of the iceberg with regard to Omar’s well-documented antisemitism.

She was also criticized by those from across the political spectrum on several occasions for clearly anti-Jewish comments, including a 2012 tweet about the 2014 Gaza War in which she wrote: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.”

It does not take a genius to identify the antisemitic trope that she was hinting at: that Jews are a sinister force who influence others to do their nefarious bidding.
HRC Rebuts Hill Times Commentator Who Framed Israeli Response To Palestinian Terrorism As Aggression
In a recent January 2 column in The Hill Times, Gwynne Dyer completely ignored how Israel has endured wave after wave of Palestinian terrorism and wrongly framed Israel’s response to almost daily Palestinian terror attacks as acts of aggression on innocents.

On January 16th, our Executive Director, Mike Fegelman, was granted space in the Times to rebut these false allegations.

Gwynne Dyer should take heed from the wise words of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said that the United States will judge the new Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by its policies, not its personalities.

When Dyer remarks that: “150 [Palestinians were] killed by the Israeli army and Jewish settlers this year [and 31 Israeli dead],” he misleadingly creates a narrative that frames Palestinian terrorism targeting Israelis out to look like an Israeli campaign of aggression targeting innocents.

Dyer fails to note that in 2022, Israel endured wave after wave of Palestinian terrorism, the likes of which it hasn’t seen in many years, largely emanating from West Bank areas. Israel contends that the majority of the Palestinian fatalities were killed as they attacked civilians or security forces with knives, Molotov cocktails, guns, incendiary explosives and in car-ramming attacks.

Furthermore, close to half of the Palestinian deaths were publicly claimed by Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, all members of Canadian-designated terror groups.
BBC report on NUS antisemitism gives the last word to political activists
No information was provided to readers regarding the obviously relevant “affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints” of those two organisations as required under BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality.

Readers were not informed that in addition to his position at the PSC, Ben Jamal is also a member of the British Palestinian Committee’s advisory council or that that organisation – which includes in its ‘core principles’ the statement “We understand the Palestinian cause as fundamentally a struggle against settler colonialism” – lists the Hamas linked anti-Israel activist Zaher Birawi as a member of its executive committee. Neither were readers told that Husseini was previously an advisor to senior PLO officials and a lobbyist or that she is linked to Al Shabaka.

Although information concerning the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s non-transparent funding and long record of anti-Israel campaigning would clearly have helped readers put the talking points made by Jamal into their appropriate perspective, such background was not provided.

Moreover, some ten hours after the BBC’s article was originally published, it was amended to include yet another statement from Jamal – including uncritical promotion of the ‘apartheid’ smear

Lyn Julius: Teaching the Holocaust in the Arab world has its pitfalls
One is that some supporters of the Palestinians misappropriate the Holocaust to draw a false comparison to the Palestinian nakba. The flight of some 700,000 Arabs from soon-to-be Israel, however, was not due to systemized mass murder, but rather the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Indeed, a more appropriate comparison would be between the Arab nakba and the Jewish nakba—the displacement of almost a million Jews from Arab countries, most of whom ended up in Israel in a de facto exchange of refugee populations.

The second danger is that teaching the Holocaust tends to portray antisemitism as a purely European phenomenon. It shifts the focus away from Arab and Muslim antisemitism, perpetuating the myth that Jews and Arabs had always lived in peace and harmony before Israel’s establishment.

As Matti Friedman put it, most Jews are in Israel because of the Arabs, not the Nazis. They arrived as refugees from riots, the Arab League’s Nuremberg-style discriminatory laws, arbitrary arrests, human rights abuses and forced dispossession.

The third danger is that Arabs could be misleadingly portrayed as “innocent bystanders” to the Holocaust who “paid the price” for a European problem through the creation of Israel.

The truth is that substantial numbers of Arabs were sympathetic to the Nazis, if only for the pragmatic reason that the Nazis were hostile to British and French colonialism. The Arab world was rife with paramilitary youth groups on the Nazi model, and Arab nationalist parties inspired by Nazism still exist today,

The fourth danger is that teaching the Holocaust will ignore active Arab collaboration with the Nazis, and the specific role played by the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the so-called “leader” of the Arab world.

German court wants to COVID vaccinate Holocaust survivor against her will
A court in Stuttgart is seeking to forcibly vaccinate an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor against COVID-19.

The Austrian website Report24 first reported about the case of the Jewish composer Inna Zhvanetskaya. She will “be sent against her will to a doctor, who will double vaccinate her against COVID-19, the website reported last week, adding that she will be “institutionalized in a closed psychiatric facility.”

Holger Fischer, Zhvanetskaya’s attorney, said a regional court in Stuttgart overruled the lower court, stopping, for now, the forced vaccination.

“The facts seem unbelievable, because Germany has really learned nothing at all from history,” Report24 wrote. “An exclusive video shows: She is neither of unsound mind nor endangering herself or others. She’s just afraid for her life.”

Zhvanetskaya, who will turn 86 on Friday, was born in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, in 1937.

Where does Israel rank in the world's most powerful passports?
Israeli passports were ranked 25th strongest in the world, according to the 2023 Henley Passport Index Report that ranks the strength of global passports on several factors, mainly focused on visa-free travel throughout the world.

Israeli passport holders can travel to 159 nations without applying for a visa. Visa-free travel implies that no application process would need to be arranged prior to traveling between nations, though many require Israeli passport holders and many others to apply for a visa upon arrival, or an electronic visa prior to arrival.

Israeli passport holders can travel to numerous countries without the hassle of arranging a visa, such as the majority of European nations, both inside and outside of the European Union, as well as most of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Canada requires an e-visa for Israeli passports, as does Sri Lanka, a popular spot for travelers from Israel.

The Russian Federation currently does not have any visa requirement for Israel, though, with continued global tension, this is subject to change.

One of the only Middle Eastern nations that allow visa-free travel for Israelis is the United Arab Emirates, thanks to the 2020 Abraham Accords.
Veteran progressive rock band Camel returns to Israel
Six years after its last visit in Israel, English progressive band Camel is returning for one show on May 22, at the Caesarea amphitheater.

The English progressive rock band is celebrating 50 years of music, with founding member and guitarist Andrew Latimer, along with bassist Colin Bass, drummer Denis Clement and keyboard player Pete Jones.

Camel was founded in Guildford, Surrey, by Latimer in 1971, and released 14 studio albums along with numerous singles, gaining a cult following for their albums “Mirage” and “The Snow Goose.”

There were changes in the band lineup over the years as well a hiatus in the mid-1980s following some health problems for some of the musicians, but Camel began touring again in 2013.

The band is beloved in Israel for its influence on the neo-progressive rock genre, and a tribute band, The Humps, regularly performs in Israel.
Israel's Plasan to Armor Australian Navy Frigates
Plasan Sasa Ltd. in Israel announced on Jan. 16 they have signed a contract with BAE Systems Australia to armor the first three Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Bisalloy Steel Australia will be responsible for the production of the ballistic steel under the contract.

Plasan is currently providing composite armor for UK Type 26 frigates.
A flood of riches: How Israel leads the world in water desalination

Israel to expand seawater desalination infrastructure

The Odessa-Born Jew-Turned British Secret Agent Who Might Have Inspired James Bond
A native of tsarist Russia, Sigmund Rosenblum left for Britain in 1890s, where he took the name Sidney Reilly and at some point began working for a precursor of MI6 (the UK equivalent of the CIA). Thus began a career of espionage and intrigue that, according to some, was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. It is also the subject of Benny Morris’s Sidney Reilly: Master Spy, which tries to sift through legend and speculation to determine the facts of Reilly’s exploits. A.E. Smith writes in his review:
By the end of 1918, [Reilly] was back in Russia, this time in his hometown of Odessa, reporting back to MI6 on the progress of the Civil War in southern Russia where three armies—White, Red, and Ukrainian nationalists under Symon Petliura—were engaged in an existential struggle. Reilly was unabashedly partisan, praising White commander Anton Denikin’s “absolute honesty . . . political moderation, immense popularity, and . . . loyalty to the Allied cause” and dismissing Petliura as “ephemeral.” What he failed to mention was that the region’s Jews were helplessly caught in the middle of this war. Pogroms across Ukraine and the Donbas dwarfed those of the 19th and early-20th centuries, resulting in an estimated 50,000 casualties. Of these, more than 90 percent were carried out by Ukrainian nationalists or Denikin’s Whites and about 8.5 percent by the Red Army.

Even with their knee-jerk Edwardian anti-Semitism, Reilly’s upper-class colleagues in MI6 and the Foreign Office were horrified by what they saw. “The longer and more bitter the struggle against the Soviets,” wrote Captain George Hill in June 1919, “the more sanguinary the pogroms.” But Reilly evidently cared little for the fate of his fellow Jews, downplaying their plight in his reporting, and characterizing them as a pro-German fifth column.

Herein lies the central theme of Reilly’s life. From his name to his passport to his officer’s commission, Reilly seemed to go to great lengths to conceal, even repudiate, his Jewish identity. This is, of course, not an uncommon story. . . . Jewish history is full of shapeshifters and tricksters, and certainly Reilly seems to be one of them. In the story of his life, there is virtually nothing overtly Jewish. That, as above, seems to be the way he wanted it.

Helen Mirren's portrayal of Golda to debut in Berlin Film Festival
Israeli director Guy Nativ's new movie, Golda, will make its debut in the Berlin film festival, according to organizers of the event. Golda will be portrayed by legendary actress Helen Mirren.

The Berlinale, as it's called, will take place between the 16 and 26 of February.

The plot revolves around Israel's first-and-thus-far-only female Prime Minister, Golda Meir, and her struggle to keep Israel safe during the Yom Kippur war, surrounding my an entirely masculine staff of IDF generals.

Liev Schreiber, a 55-year-old acting veteran, will play then-Secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Israeli acting notables in the film will include Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan and Rami Hoyberger.

While the movie mainly revolves around Israel, it was mostly filmed in London and is considered a British production. Initially, Mirren's casting in the lead role was met with skepticism. While there was no doubt about her acting skill, many noted she isn't Jewish.

The lack of a Jewish lead in the movie about a Israeli icon began a small movement labeled Jewface, but it subsided fairly quickly.
Trailer Released for Limited Series About Dutch Secretary Who Hid Anne Frank and Family During World War II
A trailer was released this Sunday for the upcoming limited series A Small Light about Miep Gies, the Dutch secretary of Otto Frank — Anne Frank’s father — who helped hide the Jewish Frank family from the Nazis during World War II.

“People tend to think that they know history, especially with very famous stories like Anne Frank’s story, but with Miep you’re coming at it from a sideways angle that forces to see it from another lens,” Susanna Fogel, the Emmy-nominated director of the show’s first three episodes, said at the start of the trailer.

Gies was a newlywed when she agreed to hide the Frank family in Amsterdam after Otto asked if she would. For two years, Gies, her husband Jan and several others risked their lives on a daily basis to protect the eight people living in the hidden annex of Otto’s office building. Gies was also the one who found Anne’s diary, after the Frank family was arrested by the Nazis, and returned it later to Otto, who was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Otto shared Anne’s diary with the world and it has become a global bestseller.

The eight-episode limited series stars British Jewish actress Bel Powley as Gies, Jewish actor Liev Schrieber takes on the role of Otto and Billie Boullet plays Anne. The show was partially filmed outside the Frank family’s real apartment in Amsterdam.

A Small Light also highlights Gies’ personal struggles as a young woman and newlywed.

Israeli artist creates massive mural to celebrate 700 years of Vilnius
An Israeli artist created a massive mural featuring an idealized Israeli landscape in the city center of Vilnius.

The work by Zoe Sever was inaugurated at the end of November as a gift from the Embassy of Israel in Lithuania for the 700th anniversary of the foundation of Vilnius. It also celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Depicting Israel’s coastline and some of its most iconic buildings, the mural is titled after Zionism founder Theodore Herzl’s famous motto “If you will, it is no dream.” It covers the entire wall of a building located near the city’s covered market. It was completed by two artists from the local “Open Gallery.”

“This diverse and colorful painting mirrors the face of Israeli society and instills in those who see it an optimistic feeling about fulfilling dreams in the spirit of Herzl,” said Ambassador Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein. Wittenberg Silverstein thanked her predecessor Yossi Avni-Levy and his team for initiating the project.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius also spoke at the inauguration, noting that “this lovely gift brings a ray of light and color that stands out against the background of the cold and snowy weather.” He also expressed hope that Vilnius will soon have a square named after Jerusalem.

Government officials, diplomats and journalists also attended the event.

During her visit, Sever, who was born in Ukraine and emigrated to Israel as a child, visited a refugee center with Deputy Chief of Mission to Lithuania Erez Golan. She offered an art workshop for Ukrainian refugee children with the support of the Israeli Embassy, which provided the art supplies. The children painted drawings to send to Ukrainian soldiers at the front.

The Deputy Ambassador of Ukraine in Vilnius Viktor Hamotskyi and other Ukrainian officials also attended the visit.

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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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