Sunday, March 05, 2023

From Ian:

Deconstructing the Israeli Genocide Libel
One of the most pernicious lies that continues to be spread about Israel is the claim that the Jewish state has committed (and continues to commit) the crime of genocide against the local Arab population, including the Palestinians.

Whether it’s being advanced by Hollywood superstars like Mark Ruffalo, noted legal scholars, or United Nations officials, the genocide claim is one of the most popular and harmful libels about Israel to be spread in the 21st century.

Here we deconstruct the genocide libel.

What is Genocide?
The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 as a means of describing the atrocities that were then taking place in Nazi-controlled Europe as well as other instances of ethnic annihilation, such as the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

In 1948, the newly-formed United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, codifying the crime of genocide.

According to Article II of the Convention, genocide refers to a number of acts that are “committed with an intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

The acts, as enumerated by the Convention include killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, inflicting conditions of life that would bring about the group’s physical destruction, imposing measures to prevent births within the group, or transferring children out of the group.

The Legal Genocide Libel
Those who accuse Israel of committing genocide tend to focus on a number of claims:

Claim: The exodus of 700,000 Palestinian refugees in 1948 (along with the killing of Palestinians during the Israeli War of Independence) is tantamount to genocide.

The charge is inapplicable as:
- There is no intent to destroy (in whole or in part) an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group;
- Any limited expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from certain areas was strategic and not motivated by genocidal intent; and
- Furthermore, the vast majority of Palestinian refugees evacuated those areas of their own accord (whether out of fear or at the behest of Arab leaders) and were not expelled by Israeli forces.

Claim: Israel is guilty of “incremental genocide” (slow genocide over a long period of time).

Once again the facts belie the accusation.

For Israel to be guilty of “incremental genocide,” the Palestinian population would have to be purposefully decreased by Israel.

However, a look at the population figures for Israel’s Arab citizenry as well as the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza shows a marked increase in these populations.

As one analyst put it, for Israel to be accused of genocide while the Palestinian and Arab Israeli populations are continually increasing would mean that the Israelis “appear to be the most incompetent genocidaires to ever walk this earth and are responsible for the only large-scale annihilation campaign in history where the victim population actually increased.”
Israel Under Attack: Biden's Coup to Get Iran the Bomb
"U.S. support for demonstrations in Tel Aviv isn't about the future of Israel's judiciary. It's about handcuffing Israel while Iran gets the bomb." — Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, March 2, 2023.

In reality, Iran's mullahs will most likely blackmail the Biden Administration for billions of dollars not to use their new bombs "on my watch", as then President Barack Obama put it in 2015. With a new administration, there can be a new blackmail.

The Palestinian Authority's "pay-for-slay" jobs-program, paid for by "over $200 million" fungible U.S. taxpayer dollars in funding reinstated by President Joe Biden, incentivizes and rewards the murder of Jews.

Abbas' Fatah faction boasted of carrying out 7,200 terror attacks in 2022 against Israel, while criticizing Hamas for not attacking Israel.

Many Israelis have no illusions anymore. They see that the Palestinian Authority incites Jew-hate, whips up terrorism and tells Arab children and adults that to be a martyr for Islam allows them direct access not only to paradise, but also to generous funds for the terrorists and their families.

Israelis can also see that the Biden Administration has continually made decisions hostile to Israel, including once again funding the Palestinian Authority without even requiring that it renounce terrorism. The Administration also brought back the goal of a "two-state solution": if a Palestinian state were to emerge, it could -- and most likely would -- be used as a launching pad from which to attack Israel, as promoted in the Palestinian "Phased Plan": Get whatever land you can, then use that to get the rest.

Mainly, Israelis saw that the Biden administration never gave up trying to enable to enable the mullahs' regime in Iran to have unlimited nuclear weapons -- all while the mullahs have made the genocidal destruction of Israel their overriding goal.

Accordingly, on November 1, 2022, millions of Israelis elected Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's Prime Minister, heading a broad coalition government. The coalition also pledged to restore the balance between the Knesset and the Supreme Court.
Opposition rejects calls for judicial reform negotiations without preconditions
Judicial reform negotiations may commence at the president's residence on Tuesday but without preconditions, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Religious Zionist MK Simcha Rothman, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said in a joint statement in response to Sunday open letter by major labor associations calling for talks.

"From the first day, we said we were in favor of dialogue in an attempt to reach an understanding on the reform, and at least to reduce the controversy," said the judicial reform leaders on Sunday.

"We believe that reform is essential for democracy, human rights and the economy. We respond to the call for talks without preconditions, and call on others in the opposition to respond to the initiative and attend talks with the president on Tuesday."

Manufacturers Association of Israel Federation of Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Israel Builders Association and the Israeli High-Tech Association issued a call for opposition and coalition leaders to "be brave" and meet at the president's residence for negotiations without preconditions.

"Heads of the Israeli political system, it is your duty to show bravery, to sit around the table together, and advance to a solution that will get us out of the economic and social spiral we've fallen into and could get worse without an agreed solution," said the statement. "End the crisis!"

MK responses were not received well by the opposition
The joint response by Levin, Rothman and Smotrich was not well received by opposition members, decreasing the likelihood that talks would occur on Tuesday.

Yesh Atid decried the coalition statement as misleading, reiterating calls to stop the legislative process before they met at President Isaac Herzog's table.

"On the same day that the members of the failed coalition instead of the state issue a false announcement about negotiations, they bring to the Knesset the override clause, the impairment law and the promotion of a law to appoint a serial criminal as a minister," said Yesh Atid, referring to a bill that had passed revision vote in Rothman's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, and the bills in the Special Committee for Amendments to Basic Law: Government for a law changing terms for when the prime minister is medically unfit for service and a law preventing the High Court from interfering in ministerial appointments.
El Al finds alternative crew after pilots refuse to fly Netanyahu to Italy
Israel's national airline El Al pilots left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, high and dry after no one volunteered to fly Israel's first couple out to Rome for a state visit to Italy scheduled later this week, El Al Airlines said on Sunday.

The deadline of a tender issued by Israel's national airline, as is required when the prime minister is set to depart on a commercial airline, expired at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday and was met with indifference by El Al pilots and flight attendants, who refused to take up the opportunity.

Later on Sunday evening, El Al announced that it had finally found a crew to fly the Netanyahu couple out to Italy.

El Al: Shortage of qualified pilots for Netanyahus' flight to Rome
In a statement issued following the deadline's passing, El Al said that "the issue of manning the prime minister's flight is yet to be resolved due to a shortage of qualified pilots in our Boeing 777 squadron, among other reasons.

"We are working to man this accordance with company procedures, as we have done countless times before," El Al wrote. "Since its establishment, El Al has flown heads of state for important national missions and will continue to do so in the future, as it is required."

As per El Al protocol, the squadron's commissioner is obliged to pilot the prime minister's flight. However, the planned flight still lacks a cabin crew and a co-pilot, as El Al's staff appeared unwilling to fly Netanyahu out.

Netanyahu is expected to fly out on Thursday to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who last publically spoke with her Israeli counterpart in November to send her congratulations for his election victory.

Concept of Palestinian state is employed for sole purpose of destroying Israel - opinion
WHO ARE the Palestinians and where does the name Palestine come from? Titus renamed the Israelite kingdom Palaestina (after the Philistines who had disappeared 680 years earlier) when Rome destroyed Jerusalem’s Second Jewish Temple in 70 CE. Over time, Palaestina became Palestine. Throughout history, Palestine = Holy Land = Israel (including its capital, Jerusalem) = the land of the Jewish people. Palestine by any other name is still Israel. Talk about cultural appropriation!

In June 1967, the West Bank and east Jerusalem were captured by Israel in a defensive war with Jordan – not from any country called “Palestine.”

So, you want a revolution? There are basically two types of revolutions. One is where people are revolting against the ruling autocratic government or monarchy. The other type is where people are revolting against a foreign occupier or colonial power.

This revolutionary “Palestine liberation” movement is neither. And never has been. The clear and consistent objective is the elimination of Israel as a sovereign state and the extermination of Jews as a people and religion.

In their own words below, the “liberation of Palestine” was, and still is, not their objective but their tactic. Here are just five examples:
- During the Peel Commission testimony (1937), Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, an Arab leader said, “There is no such country [as Palestine]! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country is part of Syria.”
- In May 1947, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and representative of the Arab Higher Committee to the UN said at the General Assembly “Palestine was part of the Province of Syria… Politically, the Arabs of Palestine were not independent in the sense of forming a separate political entity.”
- In a February 1948 UN memorandum, Azzman Pasha, the secretary-general of the Arab League, referring to May 1948 stated, “This war will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre that will be spoken of like the Mongol massacres and the Crusades.”

This article’s opening quote is from the March 31, 1977, Dutch newspaper Trouw, which published an interview with PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. He said: “The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity.

“Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”

He further explained that there were “no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese,” though Palestinian identity would be emphasized for political reasons.

- May 1994. According to The Washington Post, just after signing the Oslo Peace Accords, PLO chairman Yassar Arafat made a speech in a mosque, calling for “jihad.” He suggested that his peace agreement with Israel was just a tactical step, easily reversed. Arafat then quoted Islamic history to support the acceptability of such duplicity.

The New York Times’ ‘Non-Threatening’ Terrorists
In a “visual investigation” whose goal is to disprove Israeli accounts of events and promote alternative versions that incriminate Israel in supposedly criminal acts, The New York Times charges Israel with the killing of “at least four people who did not appear to pose a threat” during a major exchange of fire in the West Bank terror hub of Nablus.

According to “How an Israeli Raid on a Safe House Ended With Civilians Killed,” videos prove that the Israel Defense Forces “used deadly force against unarmed Palestinians” during its February 22, 2023 counter-terror operation.

The NY Times states:
Nablus is technically under Palestinian control, but Israeli forces often run missions into the city to arrest members of armed groups like the Lions’ Den, which Israeli officials accuse of being involved in terrorist activities.

The Lions’ Den has carried out shootings against civilian targets in the West Bank & attempted to carry out a large-scale attack in southern Tel Aviv. But for the NY Times, the Lions’ Den is accused by Israeli officials of being involved in terrorist activities?!

And who are some of the terrorists America’s paper of record deems to be non-threatening?

Muhammad Anbousi & Jasser Qaneer
Twenty minutes later, Muhammad Anbousi, 24, approaches the same intersection and, concealed by a parked car, sets off fireworks toward a military vehicle parked there… Mr. Anbousi calls for help, and another man, Jasser Qaneer, comes to his aid. A minute later, the two men begin running away from the Israeli vehicle… They appear to be posing no threat to the Israeli forces when they are shot from behind.”

In an attempt to whitewash members of a murderous terror group, The New York Times depicts an attack with improvised explosive devices as “fireworks,” while failing to mention that the Lions’ Den terror group has publicly claimed both Anbousi and Qaneer as members.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine the IDF would not return fire when declared terrorists hurl explosives in the midst of a gun battle. Unsurprisingly, the newspaper relies solely on Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch, an NGO that routinely denies Israel’s right to self-defense, to back up its claim that the two terrorists did not pose any threat.

Musab Awais
Security camera footage shows that as one Palestinian fighter, Musab Awais, appears to take aim with a rifle at an Israeli vehicle across the street, he is shot and falls to the ground.”

Once again, The New York Times fails to note that Musab Awais is a member of the Balata Battalion of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terror group designated as such under US law.

Amid al-Masry: A “Political Leader”
“They didn’t care if they hurt civilians,” said Amid al-Masry, a political leader in central Nablus.”

Al-Masry is no “political leader,” but rather an activist, with AFP Arabic calling him a “local Fatah official.” In the AFP article, Al-Masry seemingly comes out in support of the Lions’ Den, saying that the “Fatah movement…is with any resistance & supports resistance regardless of affiliation.” With the Lions’ Den explicitly targeting innocents, the NYT should perhaps have searched for a less hypocritical source to accuse Israel of hurting civilians.

Video footage of the chaotic events that day in Nablus certainly tells some of what went on. Ultimately though, the New York Times fits the images into its pre-determined framing of the IDF counter-terror operation, downplaying the threat presented by terrorists and relying on biased and unreliable analysis to promote their biased case.
Do Israeli Arrest Raids in the West Bank ‘Violate International Law’?
Ever since Israel launched Operation Break the Wave in the West Bank following a series of brutal street attacks that killed 31 Israelis in 2022, media pundits and social media users have frequently decried IDF counterterrorism raids on Palestinian cities and villages, often claiming that these actions somehow violate international law.

In February 2023, Palestinian-American activist Amer Zahr, who also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, went as far as likening an arrest raid in Nablus to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) explicitly denounced the operation as an “illegal Israeli military raid.”

Under PA rule, places like Nablus and Jenin have once again emerged as terror hotbeds, warranting IDF action aimed at saving the lives of innocent Israelis. In this article, we will explore the legality of Operation Break the Wave under applicable international law and agreements.

What Does ‘International Law’ Even Mean?
As HonestReporting has highlighted before, it is disturbingly common for talking heads, NGOs, and self-declared experts to state that something “violates international law,” but without saying which law it violates, and without providing any substantial legal analysis as to how it contravenes that law.

International law is not “law” in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it is a combination of treaties and agreements between and among numerous sovereign nations and other subjects of international law. In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, the relevant agreements are the Oslo Accords, a series of interim arrangements forged in the 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Oslo Accords effectively constitute legally binding treaties between the Israeli government and the newly-created Palestinian Authority under customary international law.

Per the Oslo process, the Palestinian Authority was given full security and civil control over Area A of the West Bank, which includes all major Palestinian cities and over half of the local Arab population. Area B came under shared control, while Israel retained complete authority over Area C, which contains all Jewish West Bank communities.

Crucially, the IDF’s withdrawal from Area A was conditioned on the Palestinian leadership vowing to fight terrorism and incitement to hatred.

Indeed, the PA’s responsibility to combat terror is enshrined throughout the Oslo agreements. For example, Article XV(1) of the Interim Agreement states that “[b]oth sides shall take all measures necessary to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other…” The Note for the Record to the Hebron Protocol obliges Ramallah to “[c]ombat systematically and effectively terrorist organizations and infrastructure.” Similar provisions can be found in the Wye River and Sharm el-Sheikh Memoranda.

Tensions on Lebanon border as IDF patrol reportedly crosses Blue Line
Tensions rose along the Israeli-Lebanese border and the Lebanese Army was put on alert Sunday after reports that an IDF patrol crossed the frontier.

“An Israeli enemy patrol breached the Blue Line in Aita al-Shaab [South Lebanon], to a distance of approximately one meter,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.

The Blue Line is a temporary border published by the U.N. on June 7, 2000, after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

“A Lebanese Army patrol came and forced the enemy patrol to retreat beyond the Blue Line towards Occupied Palestinian Territories. A patrol from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] also attended to check on the breach,” the statement added.

“We are aware of tensions along the Blue Line in the area of Aita al-Shaab, where some Israeli maintenance works are ongoing,” a UNIFIL spokesperson told Lebanon-based L’Orient Today.

“Our peacekeepers are on the spot to de-escalate the situation. We urge all parties, and everyone present at the scene, to maintain calm. Any kind of work near the Blue Line is extremely sensitive, and we continue to ask all parties to coordinate through UNIFIL to avoid unnecessary tension,” the spokesperson said.

Citing a journalist from Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, L’Orient Today also reported that tensions flared after “a Lebanese Army officer pushed an Israeli soldier and removed an iron stake that soldier was placing in violation of the Blue Line.”
More Palestinians than ever want Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem - poll By Sam Halpern
More Palestinians are supporting Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in November which was published last month.

The poll examined the shifts in Palestinian attitudes since 2010 when a similar poll was conducted.

Respondents were asked various questions regarding their thoughts about living in Jerusalem. The results for each question are compared side by side with the 2010 results.

Goals of the survey
The survey identified two goals it sought to achieve. First, it wanted to "identify current problems and concerns of East Jerusalem Palestinians under existing political and living conditions [as well as] identify their views and likely patterns of behavior in a future political settlement." Secondly, the survey wanted to compare the results with the previous 2010 poll in order to find elements of change.

Survey respondents were asked about the delivery of specific services provided by the Israeli Jerusalem city municipality.

In the vast majority of cases, Palestinians are more satisfied with the services provided to them than they were ten years ago. While many of the increases in satisfaction are modest, others are dramatic. For instance, satisfaction with "the speed with which ambulance services arrive at the scene after requesting it" rose from 46% to 69%.

Palestinians expressed similar increases in their rate of satisfaction with things such as "the speed with which fire and other emergency services arrive at the scene" (42% to 70%), "overall standard of living" (35% to 56%) and "access to areas inside the West Bank" (27% to 48%). Even person-to-person interactions between Israeli officials and Palestinians seem to have improved with an increase of 21% to 36% in reported satisfaction.

Areas in which satisfaction decreased were fewer and comparatively insignificant. For instance, satisfaction with access to their jobs decreased from 40% in 2010 to 35% in 2022. The most dramatic decrease in satisfaction was in satisfaction with the supply of electricity to the participants' neighborhoods; a figure which fell from 85% to 75% over that time.

Generally, the period from 2010 to 2022 saw increases in the satisfaction of east Jerusalemites with the services they were provided by the Israeli municipality in 21 different categories. In contrast, satisfaction only decreased in four categories.
Hamas official: We are on verge of violence, escalation during Ramadan
Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas's foreign political bureau, warned that the region is "on the verge of heated days" of violence and that the situation will escalate during Ramadan on Saturday night.

"Things are going to escalate in Ramadan, and we are on the verge of hot days due to the continued aggression and crimes of the occupation, and the Palestinian people know that there is no recovery for the homeland except through resistance in all its forms," said Mashaal.

The Hamas official stressed that "peace cannot be achieved without resistance, and it will not last without a force to protect it," calling on the various Palestinian factions to unite.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions rise ahead of Ramadan
Mashaal's statements come amid a wave of terrorist attacks and rising tensions ahead of the month of Ramadan, which is set to begin at the end of March. Three Israelis were murdered in two terrorist attacks last week.

On Sunday, Palestinian prisoner movements announced that they would "escalate" their protest measures against recent measures implemented in the prisons by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, including refusing to undergo daily security checks. The prisoners are also planning to launch a hunger strike at the beginning of Ramadan.

Netanyahu blasts IAEA head for saying attack on Iran would be ‘illegal’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticized as “unworthy” International Atomic Agency Director Raphael Grossi’s statement a day earlier that any attack Iran’s nuclear program would be illegal.

“Against which law?” said Netanyahu at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “Is Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, permitted to defend the destructive weapons that would slaughter us? Are we permitted to defend ourselves? It is clear that we are, and it is clear that we will do so.”

Rafael Grossi, he said, was “a worthy gentleman who said something unworthy.”

Noting that it was Purim eve, the Israeli premier said, “2,500 years ago an enemy arose in Persia who sought to destroy the Jews. They did not succeed then, neither will they succeed today.”

Following a meeting in Tehran on Saturday, Grossi said during a joint press conference with Mohammed Eslami, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, that “I think any attack, any military attack on a nuclear facility is outlaw[ed]—is out of the normative structures that we all abide by.”
Iran Makes Sweeping Pledge of Cooperation to IAEA Before Board Meeting
Iran has given sweeping assurances to the UN nuclear watchdog that it will finally assist a long-stalled investigation into uranium particles found at undeclared sites and even re-install removed monitoring equipment, the watchdog said on Saturday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran issued a joint statement on IAEA chief Rafael Grossi’s return from a trip to Tehran just two days before a quarterly meeting of the agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

The statement went into little detail but the possibility of a marked improvement in relations between the two is likely to stave off a Western push for another resolution ordering Iran to cooperate, diplomats said. Iran has, however, made similar promises before that have yielded little or nothing.

“Iran expressed its readiness to… provide further information and access to address the outstanding safeguards issues,” the joint statement said. A confidential IAEA report to member states seen by Reuters said Grossi “looks forward to… prompt and full implementation of the Joint Statement”.

Iran is supposed to provide access to information, locations and people, Grossi told a news conference at Vienna airport soon after landing, suggesting a vast improvement after years of Iranian stonewalling.

Iran mobilizes misinformation about school poisonings - analysis
Six months after it killed a woman for not wearing a headscarf, sparking mass protests, the Iranian regime is now under scrutiny for reports of mass poisonings of schoolgirls.

As the international community works to shed light on the alleged poisonings and try to determine what is happening, the regime has finally acknowledged the poisonings. However, now it is blaming the opposition as well as outsiders, or claiming the poisonings are “mass hysteria” and a conspiracy.

Before analyzing how Iran’s media are deploying a regime narrative that paints the poisonings as a conspiracy, let’s look at the reports.

What do the reports say about the Iranian poisonings?
The BBC reported that “more than 1,000 Iranian students – mostly schoolgirls – have fallen ill over the past three months in what has been reported to be a wave of poisonings, possibly with toxic gas,” adding that 58 schools have been affected.

“Many patients have reported similar symptoms: respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. So what could be behind all these reports – and how have they spread across the country?”

Germany has called for a transparent investigation. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted, “Girls must be able to go to school without fear.... This is nothing less than their human right. All cases must be fully investigated.” The United Nations has backed the call by Germany.

Iranians are now protesting the poisonings, in addition to the ongoing protests throughout the country. CNN noted, “On Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News reported that Shahriar Heydari, a member of parliament, cited an unnamed ‘reliable source’ in saying that ‘nearly 900 students’ from across the country had been poisoned so far.”

Fringe group that previously apologised for assisting antisemitism-denier now demands Jewish Book Week include “Palestinian voices”
A fringe group that was previously forced to apologise after it was revealed that it had assisted an antisemitism-denier has demanded that Jewish Book Week include “Palestinian voices”.

Na’amod: British Jews Against Occupation, protested at Jewish Book Week yesterday, explaining on Twitter: “Na’amod went to Jewish Book Week to ask why our community is hosting a panel about Israeli democracy without a single Palestinian voice. We handed out leaflets & spoke with attendees about how excluding Palestinian voices while including [pro-Israel] organisations…ignores the occupation and contributes to a culture of anti-Palestinian racism.

“What credibility does a panel like this have when it fails to engage with those at the sharp-end of Israel’s non-democracy? We think it’s time Jewish Book Week is honest with itself and its audiences: there is no democracy with occupation. We hope that in future, our community will not only engage with the reality of Israeli occupation but prioritise solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis seeking a just and equitable future.”

According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel” is an example of antisemitism.

Richard Belzer was a Jewish comedian. Why didn’t his obituaries say so?
Ever hear Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” sung in Yiddish dialect? It used to be a regular bit performed by comedian and actor Richard Belzer, who died this week at 78. He also used to do a routine about Bob Dylan’s bar mitzvah in which he recited a Hebrew prayer in the singer’s distinctive tone. A similar Elvis bar mitzvah bit was also part of his routine.

Surprisingly, Belzer performed these niche routines in numerous comedy venues and even on the nationally televised “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In addition to a variety of other Jewish references embedded in his act, Belzer also performed Yiddish-inflected parodies of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.”

But like so many American comedians of the Hebraic persuasion, Belzer didn’t really work Jewish. The bulk of his act was general and observational. To be sure, there were bits and pieces of Jewish material that can be found scattered about his comedic oeuvre, though to have the broad appeal he achieved, he understood that he had to deal in comic generalities. But to have thrown bits like Dylan’s bar mitzvah into routines for venues as broad as Letterman is an indication that he was truly dedicated to his Jewish material.

Moreover, he enjoyed it. Around 2003, after he’d snagged a contract to do a special on a cable network, he approached Letterman’s legendary bandleader, Paul Shaffer, and told him he wanted to do something “Jewish” for the show. Shaffer suggested The Barton Brothers’ risqué Yiddish radio ad parody song “Joe and Paul.” Belzer loved the idea. The duo learned the Yiddish lines and performed the tune, which, in veiled Yiddish tones, talks about masturbation and going to a prostitute named “Cock-eyed Jenny.” It was so well-received and the two enjoyed it so much, they began to do it in other venues. It eventually wound up on a 2008 album titled “The Jewish Songbook,” together with songs sung by Neil Sedaka and Barbra Streisand.

Which is why it’s been strange to read obit after obit in outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, among others, that didn’t bother to mention that Belzer was Jewish — even when, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency pointed out, the character for which he was best known, Det. John Munch on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” identified as Jewish. Obituaries, after all, are meant to be the final stock-taking of a person’s life. They should include the basics of who they were. And one of the basics of Richard Belzer is that he was a Yid.
BBC News website coverage of two days of terrorism
On the afternoon of February 26th two Israeli brothers – Hallel Yaniv, 21 and Yagel Yaniv, 19 from Har Bracha – were shot dead in their car in a shooting attack in the town of Huwara, south of Nablus.

Later that evening scores of Israeli citizens descended on Huwara and carried out a vigilante rampage that included numerous cases of arson. One Palestinian man was shot dead in unclear circumstances.

The following day, February 27th, terrorists carried out three drive-by shooting attacks on Route 90 in the Jordan Rift Valley, one of which resulted in the murder of Elan Ganeles, an Israeli-American visiting Israel to attend a wedding.

How did the BBC News website cover those three incidents?

The website did not produce any stand-alone reporting on the terror attack in Huwara in which the two brothers were killed. The first mention of those murders came in a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell about the same day’s Aqaba summit which was published on the evening of February 26th under the title ‘Israel and Palestinians pledge to reduce violence’.
Getty Corrects Anadolu Caption Calling Elan Ganeles ‘Israeli Settler’
CAMERA’s Israel office last week prompted correction of an Anadolu Turkish News Agency caption republished by Getty Images which had erroneously identified Israeli-American Elan Ganeles, murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in the Jordan Valley, as an “Israeli settler.” The caption had erred: “Israeli police inspect the crime scene after Jewish settler killed in shooting attack in Jericho, West Bank on February 27, 2023. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images).” Similarly, the heading erroneously stated: “Jewish settler killed in shooting attack in Jericho.”

Elan, a native of West Hartford, Conn., lived in the United States — not in Israel, and not in the West Bank. As Haaretz and many other media outlets correctly reported:
Ganeles was visiting the country for a wedding, and the Israeli-American’s death was announced by his synagogue, Young Israel of West Hartford, which called the attack “brutal” in an email sent to congregants, according to a local newspaper.

Given that Elan wasn’t even living anywhere in Israel or the West Bank when he was murdered, he was certainly not an Israeli settler.

In response to communication from CAMERA, Getty editors commendably ensured that the caption appearing on their news site was corrected. The corrected caption on Getty’s site now refers to an “American-Israeli man.” Similarly, the amended headline now refers to an “American-Israeli Killed

How 5 March became a red letter day for the Jews of Iraq
On 5 March 1950, the Iraqi Parliament passed a Law permitting the legal emigration of Jews – on condition they forfeited their citizenship. The law became a trap: all those who had registered to leave – 105,000 – could not return, and the only country which would accept them was Israel. Paradoxically, Iraq sent its army to defeat the Jewish state in 1948, then in 1950 made sure that all the Jews leaving it came to Israel. We reproduce the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center’s explanation:

In late 1949 no one expected that in two years Iraq would be emptied of Jews and only less than ten thousand Jews would remain there. But during this period a number of events began that played an important role in driving the exit process. In December 1949, the emergency laws that had been in place in Iraq since mid-May 1948, when the Iraqi army joined the armies of Arab countries that went to war against Israel, were repealed.

Civil law was restored and an illegal exit from Iraq, which in the period of emergency involved heavy prison sentences, returned to being a violation of the Passport Act with a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and a fine of 100 dinars. A mass exodus of Jews who have been politically and economically harmed in the previous year and a half had now begun.

Thousands of Jews made their way to the Iraq-Iran border, most of them crossing the border into the Basra area and others passing through Amara and Hanakin. Within five months, from January to May 1950, about 4,000 Jews arrived in Tehran and from there were flown to Israel. Among the fugitives were Zionists and communists persecuted by the government and unemployed young people who were badly affected by the economic crisis in Iraq and the anti-Jewish discrimination policy introduced since May 15, 1948, which included mass dismissals of Jews from government jobs, restrictions on import licenses and travel restrictions on Jewish merchants. Jews were not admitted to institutions of higher learning.

This escape was accompanied by a considerable transfer of funds. Impoverished Jews began selling property to survive and others began smuggling money into Iran. The departure of these groups and the smuggling of funds undermined the existing order and increased the unrest in Iraq. Authorities tried to end the escape but failed: the large bribes paid by the fugitives bought the assistance of military and police forces, and Iran, which worked in coordination with Israel, refused repeated requests to extradite the refugees to Iraq, encouraging continued escape. The Iraqi government also did not dare to toughen the punishments against the fleeing Jews for fear of being criticized in Western countries.

PreOccupiedTerritory: 78th Shooting Attack On Jews: LAPD Still Unsure Motive Antisemitic (satire)
The Los Angeles Police Department voiced reluctance today to classify the latest violent assault on Jews as a hate crime, a spokesman explained Thursday, noting that only six-and-a-half dozen incidents involving Jewish people, symbols, and institutions in the area in the space of three weeks are not enough evidence to solidify the case that the spree emerges from animus toward Jews.

LAPD Lieutenant Meyer Dindi-Niall cautioned journalists today that the 78th shooting attack on visibly-Jewish people and places in and around the city since mid-February might appear to the uninitiated as a spate of related antisemitic incidents, but in fact the figurative jury remains out on such a conclusion.

“It’s not so simple,” he explained in response to a reporter’s question. “Yes, the number of assaults in such a short span raises suspicions that a common thread runs through the cases; yes, in the 50 cases in which we have a suspect, the suspect has expressed antisemitic sentiments or been involved in other aggressions against Jews or Jewish institutions; yes, the number of incidents far exceeds the statistical probability of Jews falling victim relative to their percentage of the area’s population. But other forces are at work here.”
Jerusalem’s Hadassah medical center named global leader in several fields
Newsweek has named Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center a world leader in oncology, and for the fifth straight year one of the globe’s top hospitals in both cardiology and smart technology.

The rankings appeared in the World’s Best Hospitals 2023, the fifth annual assessment of 300 hospitals in 28 countries produced by Newsweek, in partnership with the global data firm Statista.

Hadassah was placed alongside world-renowned U.S. medical centers such as the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital and The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“Hadassah has gained a global reputation thanks to its groundbreaking research and advanced medical care,” said Hadassah director Dr. Yoram Weiss. “I am delighted to see that, for the fifth year in a row, we have been recognized for the uncompromising quality of our teams in the fields of oncology and cardiology and as a ‘smart’ hospital using the most advanced technologies.”

The Newsweek-Statista results are based on more than 20,000 recommendations from thousands of medical experts and verified by a global committee of medical specialists.
New technology enables the blind to navigate - Israeli study
A new study by researchers at Reichman University’s Brain Cognition and Technology Institute has shown that visual navigation areas in the brain can be activated with sound. By traversing mazes using sound information instead of visual information after training, visual navigation areas were activated.

This finding has numerous exciting implications. Among them is that the findings chip away at the Nobel Prize-winning theory of critical periods, and provide new ways for cognitive training that could potentially detect and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The team conducted a series of studies that challenge conventional beliefs about the human brain’s functioning – claiming that the brain is divided by tasks rather than the commonly accepted division by the senses (seeing area, hearing area and so on). These studies utilized sensory substitution devices (SSDs), which are tools that transfer sensory information from one sense through another sense.

For example, SSDs can help visually impaired individuals “see” by converting visual information into sounds. After undergoing training, people can identify shapes, object locations, words, letters and even faces when they are represented through sound. Training on SSDs has been shown to be effective on people even in their 40s to their 60s and beyond, calling into question the idea that there are critical periods for the development of senses.
Holy oil for King Charles' coronation consecrated in Jerusalem
The sacred oil which will be used to anoint King Charles at his coronation in May has been consecrated in Jerusalem, reflecting the British monarch's links to the Holy Land, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.

His Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the city's Anglican Archbishop Hosam Naoum consecrated the Chrism oil in The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the palace said.

The ceremony
The oil will be used to anoint Charles when he and his wife Camilla are crowned at London's Westminster Abbey on May 6, in what is considered the most sacred part of the solemn ceremony.

Traditionally, the oil is poured from an amplulla onto the Coronation Spoon and then the sovereign is anointed on their hands, breast and head.

The newly consecrated oil was made using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of the Ascension and the Monastery of Mary Magdalene, the burial place of Charles' grandmother Princess Alice of Greece.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will conduct the service, said it had been his wish for the oil to be produced from the Mount of Olives since coronation planning began, and it reflected Charles' personal family connection.

"This demonstrates the deep historic link between the coronation, the Bible and the Holy Land," said Welby, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church. "From ancient kings through to the present day, monarchs have been anointed with oil from this sacred place."

The oil, perfumed with sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin, and orange blossom, is based on that used for the coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth 70 years ago and a formula used for hundreds of years, the palace said.

Ancient maps of the Holy Land a window into the Middle Ages
How did the Europeans view the Holy Land in the Middle Ages?

The historical documents are at the intersection of science and religion, as mapmakers made their first attempts to pin down the locations of biblical events, and reveal what people thought of the land of Israel 500 years ago.

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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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