Friday, March 03, 2023

From Ian:

A Second Purim Story
The application of age-old archetypes hasn’t disappeared: Many people consider Hitler to have been of an Amalekite strain. But even if we draw metaphorical language from the canon, we are not imagining ourselves within it the way medieval Jewry did.

When Haman slandered the Jewish people to King Ahasuerus, he described them as “a certain people scattered and separate among the nations.” Medieval Jewry may have been geographically scattered and forcibly separated from interacting with the gentile world due to antisemitic laws, but within their own locales, they were not separated from one another. Today, we are more universalized than ever before—constantly updated on every news event happening halfway across the globe—but we are mentally scattered, emotionally removed, superficially scrolling. While human instinct demands that we bond briefly over tragedies, our Jewish community requires much deeper coalitions to celebrate averted ones.

The original Purim story famously makes no mention of God, which many interpret as a sign that diasporic Jews must pull themselves up by their bootstraps to find the divine in the darkness. In Megillat Saragossa, however, God’s name appears multiple times. The text insists that the Jews of Saragossa are God-fearing and God-following. More importantly, these mentions of a divine presence assure its audience—Jews of Saragossa and their descendants—that God has not abandoned them.

The two Purims don’t coincide on the Hebrew calendar: The Saragossa Purim falls on the 17th of Shevat, almost a month before Purim, which falls on the 14th of Adar. But all the mitzvot of the original Purim are fulfilled on the Second Purim as well: megillah reading, feasting, gifting mishloach manot, and giving charity. Some people even fast the day before. Scholars report that the Purim of Saragossa was celebrated in several Balkan communities into the 20th century and lasted for the longest time in Jerusalem. Most recently, in 2016, Albert Haim Samuel bequeathed the Megillat Saragossa he had received from his devout Izmirian grandmother Deborah—which is written on buckskin leather—to the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul. While the Samuel family had privately celebrated the holiday for years, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva declared that “as a [Turkish] community we would very much like to celebrate Purim Saragossa every year.”

This year, on the 17th of Shevat (the eve of Feb. 7, 2023), cantor Isaac Gantwerk Mayer performed a livestreamed reading of Megillat Saragossa on YouTube. Hearing the words chanted in the familiar cantillation of Megillat Esther brought the text to life in a way I had not anticipated. It was like hearing past generations tell their own story through the same song: Transcending time and space, the original Purim and the Purim of Saragossa rhymed and overlapped, adding layers of nuance to an already rich Jewish narrative.
Meet the brilliant barrister battling lies about Israel
Natasha Hausdorff’s debut radio broadcast was during the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014.

She’d been invited onto Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show on LBC to debate Israel’s military operation codenamed Protective Edge, and she left the London studio determined to go on air again.

“It was a turning point. I was only 24 and a trainee solicitor, but I was able to tell Nick things about the anti-Israel propaganda machine that he had clearly never heard before. It felt good. Right.”

This Sunday, the 33-year-old barrister and legal director of UK Lawyers for Israel will be making the country’s case again at Jewish Book Week.

Hausdorff, who clerked for the late President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Chief Justice Miriam Naor, is taking part in a roundtable discussion entitled, “Israel: A Fragile Democracy?” with JC columnist Jonathan Freedland, fellow lawyer Anthony Julius and historian Sir Simon Schama.

The exact remit of their conversation is still to be determined, she says, but its general departure point is the new Israeli government’s planned changes to the judicial system: a proposal Supreme Court president Esther Hayut has described as “a plan to crush the justice system”, that opposition leader Yair Lapid has said is a “struggle for the soul of the country” — and which saw 80,000 Israelis take to the streets in protest earlier this year.

Hausdorff, a specialist in international law, takes a more careful, nuanced view. “Look, the idea of reforming Israel’s judicial system shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” she says.

“The country doesn’t have the written constitution that was envisaged at its declaration of independence because immediately thereafter it had to fight a war of survival, and people have been talking about reforming the system for decades.

"When change is implemented, I hope it is with broad political input and general common sense. But right now, the opposition in Israel is encouraging protests and letters of concern from people around the world who are commenting on the situation from an uninformed position. And who, in some cases, have been very badly misinformed indeed."

Putting the “badly misinformed” right, correcting the swathes of untruths that surround the Jewish state, is a moral compulsion for Hausdorff. And she felt the urge from an early age.

Jonathan Tobin: Should American Jews intervene to stop Netanyahu?
When the courts didn’t protect the right to dissent
The recent mass demonstrations call to mind the last time a government used its Knesset majority to legislate change that provoked mass dissent. Only that time, the tables were turned.

From 1993 to 1995, the government led by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pushed ahead with the implementation of the Oslo Accords, empowering Yasser Arafat and the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization he led. Those who opposed that government used inflammatory rhetoric and, yes, tried to block the highways.

At that time, Jewish Federations were not interested in the rights of the minority or preserving Israeli democracy. Since they agreed with the ruling Labor Party that Oslo was a triumph rather than the blood-soaked disaster that it proved to be, they wholeheartedly endorsed it. And they damned any dissenters in Israel or the United States as not merely wrong but as enemies of democracy because Rabin had the votes in the Knesset to do as he liked.

The Rabin government was even more contemptuous of its opponents than Netanyahu is now and treated dissent as criminal. Those who had led protests aimed at tying up the highways and attacks on the government not dissimilar to what’s happening in Israel today were charged and ultimately convicted of “sedition”—treasonous activity—in an outrageous breach of democratic norms. Yet the Israeli Supreme Court, led by Barak, didn’t intervene on their behalf.

This is important—and not just because the lessons that were supposedly drawn from this period of Israeli civil strife have generally been considered to hold that toleration of extreme and violent rhetoric can possibly lead to violent actions, such as Rabin’s tragic and appalling assassination by an extremist foe of his policies.

Rather, what should be gleaned from this sorry chapter of Israeli history, as with other such examples since then, that contrary to the claims that the current Israeli judicial system is a necessary check on the power of the prime minister and the Knesset that preserves democracy, in practice, it is nothing of the kind. It has merely been a political weapon wielded by one side in the country’s political wars. The court consistently intervenes to stop the right from governing and to preserve the rights of groups that oppose Netanyahu but has always been happy to let the left crush its opponents when it is in power. Whether or not you sympathized with Rabin or his critics (or now with Netanyahu or his critics), that, too, isn’t democracy.

American intervention won’t help democracy
Those parts of the pro-Israel community, like AIPAC, who have stayed out of the maelstrom, are demonstrating their understanding that the best way to preserve democracy is to let the democratic process play out. That means letting Israel’s voters decide who governs as they did only four months ago when they gave Netanyahu’s coalition a clear majority. And then judging them on their performance at the next election.

Jacobs’s pretense that he is fighting for democracy doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. While those who have chosen the path of intervention in Israeli politics are free to do so, they lack both the humility that foreign observers should have in such situations and are, in this case, merely acting as a cheering section for one side in a political dispute. Their goal, as well as that of the leaders of the current protest, isn’t to preserve democracy but to topple Netanyahu—and to keep those who represent right-wing and religious voters from exercising meaningful power.

Just as important, by calling, as some have done, for the Biden administration to use its considerable power to join this effort to undo the last election, they are crossing a line that can lead only to splintering the ties between the United States and Israel, as well as between Israeli and American Jewry. In the process, they are also lending credence to the smears of left-wing opponents of Israel who also seek to deny that it is a democracy.

Those who love Israel must hope that ultimately reason prevails and that enough of the reforms can be passed so as to restore democracy while being done so in a way that will enable civil peace. That will mean compromise, though not the mob actions and efforts to delegitimize democratic opponents that Netanyahu’s foes are employing. Americans who want to assist that process of reconciliation will do well to speak with some circumspection, rather than embodying the worst of the partisan excesses that now characterize politics in both Washington and Jerusalem.
Mark Regev: US-Israel ties have gone from strength to strength since 2001
IT WAS therefore understandable that Sharon’s Czechoslovakia comments would ignite a diplomatic firestorm. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer responded: “The president believes that these remarks are unacceptable. Israel could have no better or stronger friend than the United States and no better friend than President Bush.”

Sharon realized he had gone too far in his Bush-Chamberlain analogy. Key Jerusalem-based American correspondents received phone calls on October 7 from the prime minister: “Unfortunately, the metaphor in my words was not understood correctly, and I’m sorry about that.” The reporters, having repeatedly seen interview requests turned down, were now pleasantly surprised to find Sharon eager to talk.

The public apology ended the crisis, and as the optimists had initially predicted, in the years after 9/11, US-Israel ties did indeed go from strength to strength.

Postscript: In 1945-46, newly liberated Czechoslovakia expelled the Sudeten Germans, and an estimated 2.5 million people were forcibly transferred to Germany. The deportations were often harrowing and sometimes violent, with thousands of deaths among those ousted.

Despite this “ethnic cleansing,” Prague’s post-war democratic leaders, president Edvard Benes and foreign minister Jan Masaryk, remained respected European statesmen. It was widely perceived that a domestic national minority, which had collaborated with the hostile designs of an aggressive neighbor to destroy the democratic state where it lived, was only receiving just deserves.

It was not just the Sudeten Germans who were compelled to abandon their homes. Following World War II, tens of millions across Europe, Asia and the Middle East were forcibly displaced, including the Jews of the Arab lands. Yet, for myriad reasons, it is the Palestinian refugee saga that eclipses all others in receiving ongoing international attention.
New Leader of Italy’s Main Left-Wing Party Raises Concern With Attacks on Israel and Comments on Her Jewish Origins
In May 2021, during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Schlein issued a statement decrying what she called the “asymmetrical” nature of the conflict.

“In Gaza, there is an explosion of violence not since the intifada[s] of the 1980s and 200s that is causing suffering and destruction, with many children among the victims,” she wrote. “But I read too many reports and statements that do not understand that we are not facing a symmetrical clash.”

Schlein went on to accuse Israel of the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from [Jerusalem neighborhood] Sheikh Jarrah and beyond,” arguing that “the balance of power is totally skewed in favor of Israel.” She called for a solution that recognized “the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people by ending Israel’s illegal settlements and occupation.”

Schlein also drew criticism when she appeared at Palestinian solidarity conference in Milan in April 2018, on a panel attacking the US decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem that described Israel’s capital as the “capital of Palestine.” While Schlein has not expressed outright support for the BDS movement targeting Israel, a number of BDS supporters spoke at the same conference, among them Francesco Giordano, a former left-wing terrorist convicted of the 1980 murder of Walter Tobagi, a Catholic journalist.

Several Italian pundits have pointed to Schlein’s lukewarm support for Ukraine’s democratic government as the potential trigger for a mass exodus of centrist PD members.

The Swiss-born Schlein worked as a volunteer in Chicago for former US President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 before moving to Italy in 2013. She was elected to the European parliament in 2014 before becoming the vice-president of the Emilia-Romagna region in 2020. Her campaign for the leadership of the PD was launched in 2022.

Pro-Palestinian activist went looking to beat Jews at NYC Israel rally – prosecutors
A pro-Palestinian activist who committed a series of attacks on Jews in New York City in 2021 and 2022 discussed bringing firebombs to a pro-Israel rally, bragged about antisemitic assaults and plotted how to evade law enforcement, according to federal prosecutors.

Saadah Masoud pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hate crimes in federal court in November as part of a plea agreement. His sentencing for separate attacks on three Jews will be held on Friday in the Southern District Court of New York. He faces up to two years in prison.

In a sentencing submission last week, prosecutors laid out discussions Masoud held with his associates around the time of the crimes that indicated the attacks were planned and targeted people they believed to be Jewish or Israeli. Masoud’s defense said the attacks were politically and personally motivated.

In May of 2021, around the time of a conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group, Masoud discussed disrupting a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan in a group chat on the Signal messaging app.

The group discussed bringing weapons to the pro-Israel rally, including Molotov cocktails, prosecutors said.

One of the participants said, “Remember, don’t chant out Jews, it’s the Zionists,” apparently to evade allegations of antisemitism. Many Jewish advocates hold that anti-Zionism is often a cover for antisemitism. Masoud expressed support for the statement in the group chat.

Another participant in the group chat said, “Fuck all Jews.”

“The defendant’s attempt to place his actions in the context of international affairs… should be given little, if any credence,” prosecutors wrote. “The veil of ‘anti-Zionism’ is pathetically thin in this case.”

Sponsor of Portugal arena where Roger Waters will perform is one of wealthiest Israelis
The Jewish Community of Porto has criticized anti-Israel rock star Roger Waters who will be touring Europe in the next few weeks and performing in Portugal but are especially troubled by the fact that the venue’s main sponsor is the Altice company, owned by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi.

The Pink Floyd bassist is a leading proponent of the BDS movement against Israel.

The venue in Lisbon is the Altice Arena, which is among the largest indoor arenas in Europe and the largest in Portugal with a capacity of 20,000 people.

A member of the Lisbon Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “we were shocked when we heard that Waters was coming to perform in our country and even more surprised when we found out that he will perform at the arena that is sponsored by an Israeli Jew.”

A spokesperson on behalf of Drahi told the Post on Thursday that “Altice would like to point out that it is the naming sponsor of the largest concert hall in Lisbon, Portugal, but has no control over the programming and the artists who perform there.”

The spokesperson explained that the review of the contracts linking Altice to this concert hall “does not allow Altice to intervene,” yet he emphasized that “obviously, the founder of Altice specifies that he doesn’t associate himself with this event and regrets it deeply.”

He continued by explaining that “as soon as it became aware of the programming, Altice reached out to the owner of the concert hall to see if it was possible to cancel, but the owner said it was too late and [they] could not cancel [the concert] as all the tickets were already sold out.”

59-year-old Drahi is considered to be a pro-Israel philanthropist and investor. He is one of the wealthiest citizens of Israel and owns major communications companies such as Hot and i24NEWS. He has established The Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation, with his wife. According to the foundation’s website, PLFA focuses on Science, Education, Israel, the Jewish People, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and the Arts. “The Drahis aim to share the fruits of their success with the community wherever the family has its roots or business activities, taking part in projects based in Israel, Portugal, Switzerland, France and the USA.”

BBC WS radio tries to explain the ‘Lions’ Den’ – part one
Listeners were not informed that Nablus has been under Palestinian Authority control since December 1995. Neither were they told that the Lions’ Den includes members or former members of existing factions, as reported by Khaled Abu Toameh in September of last year:
“This is the first organized armed group that consists of gunmen belonging to a number of Palestinian factions – including Fatah, Hamas, IJ and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”

For example, of the six members of the Lions’ Den killed in Nablus on February 22nd, two also belonged to the PIJ and one to the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Coomarsamy showed no interest in providing his listeners with a deeper exploration of the topic of Hamas and PIJ funding for the Lions’ Den and Hamas’ broader efforts to ferment terrorism and violence in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem.

In response to a question from Coomarasamy about how the Palestinian Authority is “dealing with this organisation”, DeBre stated that “it’s been really difficult…because if they crack down too hard they’re only going to deepen their unpopularity…”. She went on to add:
DeBre: “…but really there’s not much that it [the PA] can do because Israel, you know, just keeps storming into these cities to make these arrest raids.”

Neither DeBre nor Coomarasamy bothered to clarify to listeners that if the Palestinian Authority fulfilled its obligations under the Oslo Accords to “act systematically against all expressions of violence and terror”, Israel would not have to carry out counter-terrorism operations in places in which the PA is responsible for security.

Clearly BBC World Service radio’s presentation of the Lions’ Den as “just a bunch of really disillusioned guys that have turned to violence” failed to provide its worldwide listeners with an accurate and in depth picture of that terrorist organisation and its role in the rising violence.

Moreover, the same World Service programme aired another item the next day on the same topic which will be discussed in part two of this post.
BBC WS radio tries to explain the ‘Lions’ Den’ – part two
Previously we discussed an item aired on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ which purported to provide listeners with “background” concerning the Nablus-based Lions’ Den terror faction:

The following day – February 24th – listeners to the same programme heard another item [from 45:05 here] on the same topic which was introduced by presenter Julian Marshall as follows:
Marshall: “The city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank has become a focal point for increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians with the emergence of a group called Lions’ Den. Israel has occupied – or rather accused – the group of carrying out attacks on Israeli targets including the killing in October of a soldier in the West Bank.”

The incident to which Marshall referred is the fatal shooting of Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch. The Lions’ Den claimed responsibility for that attack so his use of the word “accused” is clearly out of place and even misleading. Referring to the counter-terrorism operation two days earlier he continued:
Marshall: “On Wednesday Israeli forces carried out a massive raid on Nablus in which eleven Palestinians were killed in gun battles, among them six members of Lions’ Den or other armed groups and dozens more were injured.”

In fact, of the six members of the Lions’ Den group killed, three were also members of other terrorist organisations – two from the PIJ and one from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Having mentioned rallies “in support of those killed in Nablus”, Marshall went on to introduce his sole interviewee:
Marshall: “I’ve been speaking to Raed Debiy, political science lecturer at An Najah University in Nablus. How would he describe the mood in the city today?”

In breach of BBC editorial guidelines concerning ‘contributors’ affiliations’, Marshall refrained from informing listeners that the academic they were about to hear is also a leader of Fatah’s youth movement and a political activist.

Why Did Spotify Have an Official ‘Hitler Radio’ Playlist?
Until last week, any Spotify user could access a playlist titled “Musikkorps Der Leibstandarte — SS Adolf Hitler Radio” — so named for the Nazi fuhrer’s personal corps of bodyguards. The streaming service itself generated the track list, and multiple Rolling Stone staffers each received a different mix upon loading it. Depending on Spotify’s algorithm, the streaming service chose different — often benign — national anthems from throughout history, but two playlists featured music by Das Luftwaffenmusikkorps 3 (named after the Nazi air force).

One day after Rolling Stone’s inquiry to Spotify on why the service would offer, let alone generate, an “SS Adolf Hitler Radio” playlist — as well as why it was hosting a RaHoWa podcast (short for “Racial Holy War”) and several other instances of music espousing neo-fascist ideologies — the streaming service removed them.

Spotify’s platform rules prohibit “content that incites violence or hatred towards a person or group of people based on race, religion, gender identity or expression, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, age, disability or other characteristics associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.” But despite these guidelines and past instances of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calling out the company and other streaming services for allowing “hate music,” musicians who support white power, antisemitism, and neo-fascist ideology continue to find homes on mainstream platforms.

Some groups, like the NSBM (National Socialist black metal) band Übermensch, attract more than 30,000 monthly listeners, while Burzum, a Norwegian NSBM trailblazer who recently whined on Twitter about getting flak for recommending Mein Kampf to readers, attracts 223,000 monthly listeners.

A three-month Rolling Stone investigation into the catalogs of Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music turned up a surprising number of purveyors of so-called hate music. Each service had musicians playing NSBM and “fashwave” (a proudly fascist form of electronic music), while some also offered Nazi hardcore punk, RAC (“Rock Against Communism,” a form of right-wing punk invented in reaction to the U.K.’s “rock against racism” concerts in the Seventies), and literal Nazi music from the 1930s and Forties.
Albania to open Holocaust museum after Israeli call for Europe to step up antisemitism fight
The Albanian Culture Ministry has announced the creation of the ‘Besa Museum’ in the capital of Tirana to celebrate the history of Jews in Albania and the actions of the Albanians that sheltered and saved them during WWII.

Albania has historically had a Jewish population including Saranda, Berat and Vlora, with the latter two having Jewish quarters. During World War II, Jews flocked from neighbouring countries and were welcomed by Muslim and Christian Albanians. They were sheltered and hidden, given ‘Albanian’ names, and not handed over to Nazi or invading fascist Italian forces.

It was the only country in Europe to have more Jews living in it at the end of the war than at the start.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said: “It is another very important moment in Tirana’s history, urban development, and architecture, and I believe that we will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief from a long-standing burden of obligation in relation to our children and visitors to our country, which is related to perhaps the most glorious page of Albanian history, the rescue of Jews during WWII.”

The museum will be located in a historic building, currently empty and once belonging to the Toptani Family. It embodies typical 19th-century Albanian architecture and has been designated a Cultural Heritage and Cultural Monument. Rama announced the establishment of the new museum at a gala event honouring Albanian “Righteous Among the Nations” during his recent visit to Jerusalem.

Albania’s Culture Ministry announced an open design competition for architecture design proposals, funded by Israeli philanthropist Alexander Machkevitch, with the goal of finding the best design solution for the museum’s construction.

“I am humbled to be a part of this important project that will memorialise the bravery of Albanians who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust… This project is a testament to the power of solidarity and compassion in the face of darkness, and I hope it will inspire future generations to continue this legacy of kindness,” Machkevitch said.

Elbit inks $252 million deal to supply unnamed NATO country with rocket systems
Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems announced Thursday it had been awarded two contracts worth $252 million to supply an unnamed European NATO member country with artillery systems.

The announcement came more than a month after Denmark said it was in talks with Elbit for new mobile artillery to plug a “critical gap,” after pledging all 19 of its French-made Caesar howitzers to Ukraine.

The Danish defense ministry said negotiations were taking place “for the delivery of ATMOS artillery pieces and PULS rocket launcher systems as soon as possible.”

The equipment could be delivered this year, the government said.

According to Elbit, the firm would supply the unnamed NATO member — thought to be Denmark — with a battalion’s worth of truck-mounted howitzers, with a value of $119 million. The delivery of the ATMOS systems would take place over a period of two years, the firm said.

The second contract would see the Israeli firm supply the NATO member with $133 million worth of PULS artillery systems, including ammunition. The supply would be delivered over three years, according to Elbit.

“We are witnessing a trajectory of an increased demand for advanced artillery solutions from militaries around the world, including European countries and NATO members, as part of their efforts to increase the effectiveness of their armed forces,” said Bezhalel Machlis, the president and CEO of Elbit, in remarks provided by the firm.
Wiz Raises $300 Million To Challenge Palo Alto Networks In Cloud Security
Times are tough for startups that did not have the luck or foresight to raise capital before the market for IPOs dried up in 2022. Many of those startups are now struggling to raise capital and are shutting down — CB Insights offers these 443 startup failure post-mortems — or being acquired below their previous valuations.

But now is a great time to raise capital for the very best startups that are charging to the lead of fast-growing recession-resistant technology markets.

That’s what cloud security services provider, Wiz, did on February 27 when it raised another $300 million. According to the company, this brings Wiz’s total capital raised to $900 million as its valuation popped another 66% to $10 billion since the last time it raised capital — $250 million at a $6 billion valuation — in October 2021.

In a February 27 interview, Assaf Rappaport told me why he thinks Wiz was able to raise capital at a higher valuation and why brand name companies are choosing its products over Palo Alto Networks PANW ’ Prisma Cloud.

I requested comment from Palo Alto Networks and will update this post if I receive it.

Despite the uncertain state of Israel’s democracy, Wiz is likely to keep growing rapidly. It is headquartered in New York City and the newly raised capital is in the U.S. — not Israel.
FIFA President Announces Visit to Israel After Meeting With Counterpart From Israeli Football Association
FIFA President Gianni Infantino will visit Israel in May to see firsthand the progress of soccer as a sport in the country, he announced on Tuesday after meeting with Israeli Football Association (IFA) President Shino Moshe Zuares in Paris.

“I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to travel to Israel to see how far they have come since my previous visit,” said Infantino, who added that soccer, “has the capacity to bring people and communities together, and the IFA have worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for everyone to play the sport.”

Zuares said he welcomes the “great news” about Infantino’s upcoming visit to Israel.

“We are able to show him what we have done, how we are improving and what we are going to build in the future,” he noted. “I appreciate the visit very much. I appreciate the way that the President was positive about all of our needs. For us, it’s very, very important and we want to see improvement immediately for Israeli football.”

FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger also attended the meeting in Paris and Infantino said his knowledge and input as the former coach of the soccer teams AS Monaco, Nagoya Grampus Eight and Arsenal “will reinforce and enhance coaching practices, ensuring players across the range of ages will get the best possible education in the game.”
‘Wolf of Baghdad’ launches teacher’s guide
The Wolf of Baghdad (a graphic novel, film and musical score) is Carol Isaacs’ original and highly successful telling of the story of the Jewish community of Iraq and its brutal end, using animation. Together with Matt Reingold, she has produced a teaching guide for pupils over 12. The guide explains how to read Isaacs’ cartoon panels and sets out nine exercises for schools. Here is an extract from the guide’s introduction:
Pupils are encouraged to fill in the speech bubbles

In the 1940s, a third of Baghdad’s population was Jewish. Within a decade, nearly all 150,000 of the country’s Jews had been expelled, killed or had chosen to escape. Carol Isaacs’ The Wolf of Baghdad is a wordless graphic memoir of a lost homeland by an author homesick for a home she has never visited. Transported by the power of music to her ancestral home in the old Jewish quarter of Baghdad, Isaacs encounters its ghost-like inhabitants who are revealed as long-gone family members. Accompanied by a wolf who trails after her, Isaacs explores the city, journeying through their memories and her imagination. She at first sees successful integration, and cultural and social cohesion. Then the mood turns darker with the fading of this ancient community’s fortunes. The wolf, an animal believed by Baghdadi Jews to protect people from harmful demons, sees that Jewish life in Iraq is over, and returns Isaacs safely back to London.

Like other works of literature, successfully using graphic novels in the classroom requires careful planning and deep understanding of the content and themes of the work. What can make graphic novels more difficult to use is their blend of visual and verbal texts, with many educators less comfortable teaching students how to ‘read’ visuals in order to draw meaning from the image. To that end, this reading guide is structured to help educators teach their students how to read graphic narratives. As well, background readings about the historical context of Isaacs’ work and sample exercises are included to foster critical thinking about The Wolf of Baghdad.
Free download of the teaching guide

Touted Darius inscription is inauthentic, Israel Antiquities Authority clarifies
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Friday that an inscription on an ancient shard uncovered in southern Israel, which it attributed earlier in the week with much fanfare to the Persian King Darius the Great, is not authentic.

On March 1, the state-run archaeological body reported that the discovery of the 2,500-year-old fragment, which visitors found in December at the Tel Lachish national park, was the first bearing an inscription with Darius the Great’s name anywhere in Israel.

However, in a rare weekend press announcement two days later, the IAA stated that an expert, who participated in the expedition last August contacted it following the publication of the find. The scholar informed the authority that she had created the inscription “while demonstrating to a group of students the manner in which sherds were inscribed in ancient times.” (“Sherd” is a technical term that often overlaps with “shard.”)

The scholar accidentally left the shard on the site, leading to the erroneous identification, per the statement.

“The IAA takes full responsibility for the unfortunate event,” stated Gideon Avni, IAA chief scientist. He noted that a “leading” researcher and an archaeologist studying the site examined the piece. “As an institution that strives for the scientific truth, we are committed to correcting the mistake that was made and making it known to the public.”
Israeli NGOs bring aid to those in need in India
The Indian capital of Delhi is ground zero for Indian politics and media, but high-rising Mumbai is the stylish capital of Indian business and cinema.

Walking out the doors of the airport, one passes shiny new eateries lining the way out, giving way to a highway lined with luxurious hotels and slick skyscrapers – commercial and residential; the kind that fill much of the city and its suburbs. The wealthiest parts of town look as posh as anything New York or London can offer.

But a brief drive south on that highway reveals the extreme disparities that characterize Indian cities. Dharavi, the huge slum that was the inspiration for the novel Q&A and the subsequent film Slumdog Millionaire, is a short distance from Bandra. In this neighborhood, Bollywood stars live in luxury condos next to the Bharat Diamond Bourse, the world’s largest diamond exchange. A taxi driver or bellboy may service wealthy businessmen all day and return at night to his brick two-room home in the Dharavi or Kalwa slums.

Less fortunate neighbors may squat illegally in tin shacks in unrecognized neighborhoods which lack the proper infrastructure for electricity, water and sewage treatment. As contractors may buy the scarce land for development at any time, the squatters also live under constant threat of eviction. Mumbai is Los Angeles with slums, monsoons, and tropical diseases, but interestingly, without gun violence. The slum inhabitants are villagers who moved to the city, work in menial labor and cannot afford the stiff price of housing. They are productive and not tempted to engage in criminal activity.
Podcast Hosts Sasha Spielberg, Alana Haim Talk About Proudly Feeling Jewish ‘Every Single Second of the Day’
Musicians and friends Alana Haim and Sasha Spielberg talked about their Jewish backgrounds, friendship and middle school memories, that included many bat mitzvah parties, in a new interview with the website Hey Alma.

Haim and her two older sisters make up the band called Haim while Spielberg, the daughter of director Steven Spielberg, will release her second studio album under the stage name Buzzy Lee in April. The Los Angeles natives are co-hosts of Free Period, a podcast in which they discuss their most embarrassing childhood memories as well as those of their guests.

The childhood friends told Hey Alma in unison that they feel Jewish “every single second of the day” and started off their interview with the publication by reminiscing on their years in the bat mitzvah circuit.

“I have been chasing the high of bat mitzvah season my whole life,” said Haim, who made her acting debut in the 2021 film Licorice Pizza. “I didn’t go to a Jewish school, but I went to a school where all my friends were Jewish. And it was every weekend. If you didn’t have a bat mitzvah or a bar mitzvah to go to, it meant that you weren’t invited to one, and then Monday was like, Inspector Gadget — like, who did not invite me to their bat mitzvah?

“When I met Sasha, it was like, we really both did have this [same background]. She was one of the only people in my life that I could really divulge deep into that time,” she added.

The podcast hosts also talked to Hey Alma about Jewish cultural figures they looked up to when they were younger, like Barbara Streisand and Natalie Portman, and Haim said she always— until today — felt “cool” and “super proud” for being Jewish.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg Says Global Antisemitism is ‘Standing Proud,’ ‘No Longer Lurking’
Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg explained why he finds the rise of public displays of antisemitism in the US and around the world “very, very surprising” during his interview on Thursday night with late night talk show host Stephen Colbert.

“Antisemitism has always been there. It’s either been just around the corner and slightly out of sight but always lurking or it has been much more overt, like in Germany in the 30s,” the Jewish filmmaker said during a segment that appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “But not since Germany in the 30s have I witnessed antisemitism no longer lurking but standing proud with hands on hips like Hitler and Mussolini. Kind of daring us to defy it. I have never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country.”

During his first late-night interview Spielberg also discussed his latest movie, the Oscar-nominated autobiographical film The Fabelmans, which was inspired by his own childhood and dives into how he developed his love of filmmaking. The coming-of-age drama shows aspects of Spielberg’s Jewish life and upbringing, such as him celebrating Jewish holidays with his family and the antisemitic bullying he faced.

During their conversation that aired on Thursday night Colbert also asked Spielberg why he thinks antisemitism is “raising its ugly head” now more publicly than it has in the past. The director, who established the Shoah Foundation after helming the Academy Award-winning film the Schindler’s List, replied that “the marginalizing of people that aren’t some kind of a majority race is something that has been creeping up on us for years, and years, and years and somehow in 2014, 2015, 2016, hate has became a kind of membership to a club that is gotten more members than I ever thought is possible in America. And hate and antisemitism go hand-in-hand. You can’t separate one from the other.”

Still, Spielberg is optimistic that hatred and antisemitism will not prevail in conquering mankind. He paraphrased a quote from Holocaust victim Anne Frank, who wrote in her famed diary: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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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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