Wednesday, March 22, 2023

From Ian:

Democrats vs. the Jews
For those who want to look away: Imagine what our grandparents and great-grandparents—staunch Democrats from the moment they hit Ellis Island—would think about this. Imagine what John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr.—both ardent Zionists—would say.

As a lifelong independent, I don’t understand how any Jew can remain in the Democratic Party after this. I don’t buy the “we will work from within” excuse, because look how well that turned out.

To those of us who believe that this version of the Democratic Party needs to die—that it will never return to classical liberalism—this poll just confirms the obvious. But the fact is that if every Jew and those who claim to not be antisemitic left the party over this, the party would die. Three-quarters of American Jews—5.7 million—identify as Democrats.

We’re seeing the damage caused by a pro-terrorist Democratic Party on a near-hourly basis. From House Democrats voting to block funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in 2021 to the multitude of missteps by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the continued funding of Islamist terrorism in Judea and Samaria, what more do the Democrats need to do to show where their loyalty lies?

Yes, disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he is launching an organization called “Progressives for Israel.” But talk to anyone who lived through Cuomo’s vicious and self-serving COVID policies about whether he is capable of thinking, let alone doing anything moral. Even Democrats won’t listen to him.

In stark contrast, Republican views on Israel have remained the same. According to the new poll, 78% continue to back the Jewish state.

Until this version of the Democratic Party returns to sanity or dies, American Jews who care about the survival of our people have one task: To make sure pro-Israel Republicans are elected to the White House and Congress. Since polls show that Donald Trump could lose to any Democratic contender for the 2024 presidential race, while Gov. Ron DeSantis has a very good chance of winning—pulling in nearly all Independents and even some Democrats—this is a moment of reckoning for Jews in the GOP as well.

We have to make sure one thing happens: Democrats need to exit the White House and Congress and not come back until they’ve returned to classical liberalism and sanity. And the only way to do that is with a sane GOP.

What else needs to happen for everyone to understand how dangerous this moment is?
Jonathan Tobin: Democrats’ attitudes towards Israel reach a tipping point
Meanwhile, at the same time that the GOP was embracing Israel, a shift began on the other side of the aisle.

Part of that was due to political changes in the Jewish state. The end of the domination of the Labor Party and the election of Menachem Begin as prime minister in 1977 made it a bit more difficult for American liberals to identify with Israel. The policies of Labor-led governments on security issues prior to the Oslo Accords in 1993 were not that different from those of the right. But the rise of Begin’s Likud Party, coupled with the camp of nationalist and religious parties, was hard to fathom for Americans who had come to define their Jewish identity solely through the prism of their political liberalism and social-justice issues.

More than that, it was during this period that the far left of the Democratic Party began to regard the Jewish state through the prism of anti-Zionist propaganda, which falsely depicted it as an expression of colonialism.

Still, the vast majority of Democrats rejected those ideas and the leadership of the party, which was reflected in the views of the geriatrics that have led its congressional caucuses up until this year, and many in the rank-and-file were still happy to identify as pro-Israel.

In 2001, Gallup reported that Democrats still backed Israel by a 51% to 16% margin. While that’s still true of some congressional Democrats, they are now out of touch with their party’s left-wing base.

It’s not as if strong sympathy for Israel across the board is gone. When Gallup asked respondents how they feel about Israel without adding in the contrast with the Palestinians, the numbers are more encouraging. The survey says 56% of Democrats have a favorable view of Israel, a number that has shown little change since 2001 when it stood at 60%. But it’s still much lower than independents, 67% of whom view Israel favorably (up from 59% in 2001)—let alone Republicans, 82% of whom view it favorably (up from 75% in 2001).

And only a minority of Americans think well of the Palestinian Authority—36% of Democrats, 28% of independents and only 9% of Republicans.

But the problem is that when you ask people how they feel about Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians, the intersectional mindset kicks in for those who are influenced by the left. That explains why, when given the choice, more Democrats now favor an entity that has repeatedly rejected peace than those who back Israel.
Jonathan Tobin: Joel Pollak & the Left's Willful Blindness to Antisemitism
In this week’s episode of Top Story, JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin speaks with Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak who discussed the famous insight of the publication’s founder Andrew Breitbart about “politics being downstream of culture.”

In this far-reaching interview, they discuss
- Why do liberal Jewish institutions only see antisemitism on one side.
- How the ADL has made common cause with hate groups and exaggerated antisemitism statistics to justify its existence
- Addressing accusations against Breitbart of antisemitism and being part of the alt-right.
- Pollak’s view on the current protests against legal reform in Israel

Ken Roth & Peter Beinart Gaslight Jewish Community With Antisemitism Tweets
Ken Roth’s Narrow View of Antisemitism
In his March 18 tweet, Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, linked to a recent Pew survey that found “anti-Jewish harassment” had occurred in 94 countries in 2020, an increase from past years. Rather than simply highlighting this fact, Roth tweeted that this is “all the more reason for partisan defenders of the Israeli government to stop using false charges of antisemitism to try to silence legitimate criticism of Israeli repression.”

In doing so, Roth accused pro-Israel advocates of calling out antisemitism in bad faith and effectively minimizing the role of antisemitism in certain critiques of Israeli policy and anti-Israel activities.

As is evidenced by the vibrant political atmosphere in Israel itself, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the Israeli government’s policies.

However, as noted in the internationally recognized IHRA working definition of antisemitism, anti-Israel activity and rhetoric can devolve into base antisemitism. This includes (but is not limited to) the claim that the Jewish state’s entire existence is based on a racist ideology, the use of antisemitic imagery to criticize Israeli policies/actions, and holding Jews around the world collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.

This last point is especially relevant as the rise in violence and tensions between Israel and the Palestinians has been shown to provide an impetus for antisemitic assaults and harassment worldwide.

Thus, it is clear that the recent rise in international antisemitism is directly related (in part) to an increase in anti-Israel rhetoric and activities that go beyond the pale of acceptable criticism and into the morass of antisemitic hate, a phenomenon that Roth purposefully ignores.

While it is disturbing that Ken Roth seeks to condemn a rise in antisemitism while simultaneously exonerating antisemitism masquerading as criticism of Israel/anti-Zionism, it is not at all surprising.

As noted by both NGO Monitor and UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer, Roth’s own criticism of the Jewish state has on occasion devolved into antisemitic rhetoric and imagery, as well as justifying antisemitism.

This includes blaming Israel for the rise in European antisemitism (as opposed to blaming the antisemites themselves), comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and suggesting that Judaism is a ‘primitive’ religion.

Avi Mayer, prominent pro-Israel activist, named editor of the Jerusalem Post
Avi Mayer, a pro-Israel activist and communications professional with a large following on social media, has been named the next editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

Mayer, 38, will take over for the current editor of the 90-year-old English language newspaper in mid-April, after Passover.

“I look forward to working with the Post’s outstanding staff to continue upholding the highest standards of journalistic excellence, to offer our readers content of relevance and quality, to fortify the paper’s position as a leading media outlet in Israel and the Jewish world, and to lead it into the future,” Mayer said in a statement, according to the Post.

Mayer, who was born in New York and lives in Jerusalem, comes to the role with a background in communications and online activism rather than journalism. He most recently served as the managing director of global communications and public affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and previously served as the spokesperson for the Jewish Agency for Israel.

He also served in the spokesperson’s unit of the Israel Defense Forces. Before enlisting, Mayer briefly worked for Eretz Acheret, an Israeli magazine that has ceased publication.

But Mayer is perhaps best known for his presence on Twitter, where he has more than 140,000 followers; posts a mix of news updates, advocacy for Israel and pictures of freshly baked challah; and has clashed with anti-Israel accounts.
In the Name of Preventing Terrorism, the British Government Is Funding Islamists
In the wake of the July 7, 2005 London terrorist attacks, the United Kingdom developed Prevent, a set of programs that aim to discourage young people from joining “extremist” groups and to “deradicalize” those already in their clutches. Recently, William Shawross published his findings after conducting an extensive independent review of the program at the government’s behest. He found numerous troubling patterns, including a disproportionate and wrongheaded focus on right-wing extremists, with the result that reading the works of John Locke or C.S. Lewis is taken as a sign of incipient white supremacism, but reading the works of Sayid Qutb—founder of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood—is not considered a sign of anything. Then there is the problem that Prevent gives money to Islamist preachers and organizations in the hope that they will exert a moderating influence.

Kyle Orton comments on Shawcross’s findings:
First, and in the most direct sense, there are signs of deep confusion about what Islamism is, which is perhaps not that surprising when the use of the very word is still being contested. . . . Prevent’s tendency has been to secularize jihadists, [which] means that instead of experts on jihadist ideology, the program “frequently seeks guidance from academics or psychologists with a clinical or theoretical background.” . . . It has been a popular understanding in such circles that extremism is like a virus people can catch by watching the wrong YouTube video.

Some of the most severe problems are specific to Channel, a division of Prevent that intervenes with people flagged by the program’s other branches:
Shawcross found an extraordinary prevalence of anti-Semitism in the Channel system. Anti-Semitism “spanned across the full range of Channel cases we observed, regardless of the nature of the ideology. . . . [Anti-Semitism] unites both Islamists and [the] extreme right wing, as well as the extreme left, in a kind of modern-day Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,” Shawcross writes. Individuals not only openly expressed their belief in anti-Semitic, Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type conspiracy theories, but their wish to blow up synagogues, admitted to having done hostile surveillance to enable same, and their desire to do violence against Jewish people, either collectively or individually.

Shawcross does not point this out, but the scale of the targeting of British Jews in hate crimes is staggering: seven times the rate of attacks on Muslims, and nearly one-quarter of all hate crimes, despite [Jews] being less than 0.5 percent of the population
The Future of Jewish South Africa
In response to the political anxieties and dislocations of the time, says South African Jewish Museum Director Gavin Morris, Johannesburg experienced an Orthodox religious revival. Foreign rabbis of the Ohr Somayach movement promoted a return to Orthodoxy. That community gained a foothold in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg with an epicenter in Glenhazel, where one now finds kosher sushi, private security, and a yeshiva. Glenhazel is much more religious than other Jewish suburbs in Johannesburg, or just about anywhere else in South Africa.

In large part due to Glenhazel’s population, 48% of Johannesburg’s Jews identify as Orthodox, compared with only 22% in Cape Town, according to a survey by the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town. Think of Cape Town Jewry as 20th-century American Jewry on the Upper West Side, or Beverly Hills—attached to their Judaism, less attached to their shul.

Historian Milton Shain chalks up much of the Cape Town/Joburg religious divide (in jest) to topography. Relaying a quip from former Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris, “the reason Joburg is more religious than Cape Town is that in Cape Town they have a mountain and nice walks.” Cape Town is flanked by beaches and wineries. Johannesburg is a bit “sharper,” to use Morris’ term. All agree that Cape Town and Johannesburg are the future of South African Jewry (and that the Jewish community in Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city, will disappear within a few generations). Cape Town’s primary Jewish neighborhoods, Sea Point, Vredehoek, and Gardens, are constrained by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Sea Point, at the end of Helen Suzman Boulevard, is extremely cosmopolitan, boasting stylish oceanfront condos and an upmarket New York-inspired noshery. Though Sea Point is widely perceived to be Cape Town’s “Jewish neighborhood,” it’s one of the most diverse in South Africa. Along with Jews, you can find substantial populations of Chinese, English (as they call white South Africans who don’t speak Afrikaans), and Black South Africans.

These three distinct Jewish communities reflect three Jewish responses to the “Rainbow Nation” hopefulness that was so widespread when apartheid ended. In Hillbrow, the Jews are staying, hard up against the non-white people who have become the overwhelming majority in their area. They value diversity, and still see it as a template for the South African future—one to which Jews can contribute. In Glenhazel, Jews are, similarly, staying put, and committing to a particular Jewish role, one that emphasizes not integration, but internal cohesion. And in Sea Point, many Jews live in a micro-Rainbow Nation—or if not, then it’s a metaphor that has outlived its usefulness.

“There is a very particular trajectory of that term [Rainbow Nation],” said professor Adam Mendelsohn, director of the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town. “It falls out of fashion. In fact, it’s in a way connected with the fortunes of the [African National Congress] itself. That and that we already see during the [President Thabo] Mbeki period, but very much during the [President Jacob] Zuma period, that sort of a reracialization of political discourse by the party, as its fortunes become increasingly troubled.”

Post-apartheid Jewish urbanism in South Africa thus points toward three distinct futures: the Ubuntu Jews of Hillbrow, the yeshivish of Glenhazel, and the cosmopolitanism of Sea Point. Still, the majority of South African parents want their children to study abroad. In each of these scenarios, Jewish life in South Africa is touch-and-go, anticipating a moment where it becomes untenable, or anxieties reach critical mass. In 2021, 555 South Africans made aliyah to Israel, the highest number since 1994. As for the others, well, many have their bags packed for that other aliyah, the one with a better coastline: They are looking toward Perth.
UK group appeals to Olympic Committee to allow Israeli team in South African tourney
Three days before an international rugby tournament in South Africa, UK Lawyers for Israel has asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene to ensure that an Israeli team may participate.

UKLFI wrote on Tuesday to Girard Zappelli, IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, pointing out that World Rugby (the international federation for rugby union) has known about the flagrant violation of its own regulations and the Olympic Charter since at least Feb. 7.

The IOC had previously declined to intervene on the grounds that World Rugby was assessing the position.

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, said: “We understand why the International Olympic Committee would not wish to intervene if World Rugby were actively dealing with the matter. However, World Rugby to be dragging their feet until the exclusion of Tel Aviv Heat becomes a fait accompli. Any further delay will make it impossible for Tel Aviv Heat to participate. We hope that the IOC will make it clear that this is unacceptable.”

The South Africa Rugby Union withdrew on Feb. 3 an invitation to the Tel Aviv Heat rugby team to play in its Mzansi Challenge tournament. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

Tel Aviv Heat’s participation had been planned for several months, and the invitation had been confirmed by SA Rugby’s Executive Council on two previous occasions before it was suddenly withdrawn without prior notice.

UK Lawyers for Israel has pointed out to the IOC that in these circumstances, “the IOC can and should now intervene in accordance with its mission and role as set out in Article 2 of the Olympic Charter.”
Yoseph Haddad went all the way to South Africa to find out what apartheid is and what it isn't!

Varsity Column Ignores Palestinian Terrorism, Portrays Jerusalem As Part Of “Palestine” & Falsely Accuses Israel Of Discrimination
In a March 20 column and photo essay published in The Varsity, the University of Toronto’s student newspaper entitled: “A dream of home: barriers bury the beauty of Palestine ­– especially for its people” Safiya Patel, the publication’s Deputy Senior Copy Editor, sought to tell a first-hand story of Palestinian-Arabs living in Jerusalem, portrayed as being part of “Palestine” by The Varsity and the Palestinian territories.

While shining a light on any group of people can help to educate and inform, Patel’s column presented a highly misleading caricature of Israel, and a sanitized version of the Palestinian leadership and society at large.

Patel shared an experience of her entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s 3rd holiest site, which is built atop the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, retelling how she “became used to pulling my Canadian passport out of my bag to confirm my citizenship and reciting verses from the Quran to confirm my religion — which also served as a passport in this highly controlled region,” adding that the experience showed her “just an iota of the discrimination that the Palestinian people experience every day.”

What Patel does not share with readers is how despite liberating Jerusalem from illegal Jordanian occupation in 1967, Israel nevertheless gave de facto control of the Temple Mount site to the waqf, an Islamic trust which acts as custodians of the site. Today, while there are strict limits on the number of Jews who can ascend the holy site, Muslims are able to enter with significantly more freedom and Israel goes to great lengths to facilitate access to Islamic holy sites, especially on important Muslim holy days. Furthermore, according to the “status quo” agreement between Israel and Islamic authorities aimed at preventing an increase in regional tensions, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the site. If Jews are found to be praying, they will be escorted away, detained and possibly arrested.

Thus, it is Jews and those of other faiths, not Muslims, who face limits on their rights and freedoms at the Temple Mount, but this is unacknowledged by Patel.
AFL clarifies position on Israeli flag after confusion
UPDATE: Zionism Victoria has welcomed the AFL’s clarification that they have no issue with Israeli flags being flown at matches and thanked them for dealing with the issue so speedily.

Earlier today, it was reported that following the North Melbourne-West Coast game on Saturday, an official had sent an email stating that an Israeli flag brought to Marvel Stadium in a show of support for North Melbourne’s Harry Sheezel “should have been requested to be seized/confiscated or the patron in possession requested to leave if they refused to surrender the flag”.

Zionism Victoria contacted AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan expressing its concern at the report and requesting clarification. Zionism Victoria President Yossi Goldfarb wrote, “The Israeli flag is no more political or nationalist than any other nation’s flag, yet there are clearly examples of other countries’ flags being flown by fans at matches or displayed by players without any consequence.”

Noting, “If it is indeed correct that the Israeli flag is not allowed while others are, I fear there are double standards at play,” he concluded that singling out the Israeli flag would “cause considerable consternation among members of the Jewish community”.

The AFL issued a statement this afternoon insisting, “We want fans to celebrate their clubs and players, and if that includes displaying national flags that amplify any of their team’s player heritage then the AFL is fully supportive. We should celebrate our players and the game any chance we get.”

The AFL went on to explain that the email sent by an official about the Israeli flag “was an incorrect interpretation of our conditions of match day entry policy and we apologise for any confusion”.

Restrictions, according to the statement, apply to flags, banners and signs “that have commercial and/or political messages.”

‘Unbearable’: Roger Waters Concert in Munich to Go Ahead Despite Fears of Antisemitism
A May 29 concert in Munich by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters will go ahead, much to the chagrin of the German city’s mayor, who bemoaned the “unbearable” and “unspeakable” prospect that the event will be an occasion for antisemitic agitation.

Waters — an outspoken supporter of the campaign to subject Israel to an international boycott — was scheduled to appear in five German cities as part of this “This is Not A Drill 2023” tour. Last month, the city of Frankfurt canceled his May 28 concert at the city’s state-owned Festhalle venue, citing his status as “one of the world’s best-known antisemites” as the reason for the cancelation.

While moves are afoot to cancel the singers’ concerts in Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin and Munich, that goal has been frustrated by the legal obligations of the commercially-run arenas hosting Waters. In the case of Munich, the city’s Olympiahalle venue risked a breach of contract by canceling the concert, the city council noted on Wednesday.

Warning that “antisemitic slogans will be thrown around,” Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter of the center-left SPD Party urged that appropriate measures be taken on the day of the concert to counter Waters’ message. In a statement, the Munich city council called on the Olympiahalle to prepare signs, flags and other symbols that would send a “clear signal for international understanding and international solidarity, against antisemitism and for the right to exist of the State of Israel and the sovereignty of Ukraine.”

Waters last played at the Olympiahalle in 2018. On that occasion, Reiter commented, “I don’t want him here, but we have to endure it for now.” According to German broadcaster BR24, state and federal court rulings forbid the denial of concert halls and other venues “solely because of the expected unwanted expressions of opinion” on the part of artists who are performing.

Digital terror and hate ‘report card’ shows social media fails to police antisemitism, Holocaust denial
With the release of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s 25th annual Digital Terrorism and Hate Report on Monday, a key Jewish New York City leader says that the hate filtering out onto the streets has its origins on social media.

“What we know to exist—that hate is on the rise—and the high-profile cases on the news are often the endpoint of hate,” Eric Dinowitz, New York City Council member and chair of the council’s Jewish Caucus, told JNS. “We see the assaults in Hell’s Kitchen and Times Square. We see mass murders at synagogues and supermarkets. And what this report card shows us are those seeds of hate are the precursors to physical violence.”

Dinowitz was among those council members, including Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, present during Monday’s report presentation, which includes a report card grading social-media companies on their failure to curb online hate.

Google and YouTube received a “B-”; Facebook and Instagram received a “C”; TikTok got a “D”; Twitter a “D-”; and Telegram an “F.” Amazon made its report-card debut, earning a “C.”

The report warns of increased antisemitic, racist, anti-LGBTQ messaging and calls for violence against black, immigrant and Jewish residents.

New York City Council member Eric Dinowitz. Credit: New York City Hall.

Rick Eaton, director of research at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JNS that TikTok is of prime concern at the moment, stressing the reasons have nothing to do with the politics behind its Chinese ownership.

“It’s solely the fact that they have something like 1 billion users. A good percentage of those are young people—something in the neighborhood of 30% to 40%,” he said. He cited postings by Holocaust deniers and minimizers, and a hateful meme of Anne Frank, next to material lauding school shooters, racists and other bigots.

Newsmax in rare attack on Israel for anti-proselytizing bill
Pro-Israel US outlet Newsmax this week criticized a Knessset bill that seeks to ban proselytizing, saying it would "outlaw talk about Jesus."

Evangelical Christian leaders have called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to block the bill proposed by ultra-Orthodox lawmakers of his coalition that would punish attempts to solicit conversion with imprisonment.

The bill – introduced by United Torah Judaism's Moshe Gafni and Asher Yaakov – would ban people of one faith from discussing or trying to persuade people of other faiths to consider changing their current religious beliefs.

Attempts to convert minors, in particular, would carry heavier prison sentences.

According to Gafni's associates, the measure is reintroduced with every new Knesset, but is not being promoted nor is there an intention to promote it.

European Jewish Community Unenthusiastic on EU Antisemitism Initiatives: Report
The European Jewish diaspora is unenthusiastic about European Union (EU) member states’ efforts to fight antisemitism, according to a report presented on Tuesday by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) during a trip to Madrid, Spain.

The report included summary findings of a survey in which European Jews’ were asked to share their feelings about the progress their governments have made in implementing the EU Strategy to Combat Antisemitism for 2023-2030, a nine year initiative aimed at countering antisemitism across the continent.

A copy of the text shared with The Algemeiner says that only 35 percent of Jewish community members surveyed by WJC believe legislative measures — adopted in countries such as France, Germany, and Greece — targeting antisemitic hate speech and crimes are “adequate.” Forty-one percent said they are not while 24 percent said they are “partly adequate.”

Additionally, only 22 percent of respondents to WJC’s survey said that the pledges EU member states made are “relevant” to the needs of Jewish communities in their countries. Thirty percent said they aren’t, describing them as having “narrow scope” or lacking “concrete” plans of action. Just sixteen percent believe their governments have implemented any of the pledges put forth in the EU strategy.

“We have seen too many times throughout history that people will come together, say all the right things, make the right commitments, but fall short on the follow-through,” WJC president Ronald Lauder said on Tuesday. “The truly hard work is the actual implementation of good ideas.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Tuesday also met with King Felipe VI of Spain for a private meeting. The group said in a press release that its leaders “expressed gratitude” to His Majesty for the Spanish Government’s efforts to fight antisemitism.

Imam aims to build bridges with ‘People of the Book’
A French Imam living in the Middle East has praised the Israeli democratic model and celebrated Israeli diversity while condemning extremists who “give the Koran a bad name.”

Sheikh Hassen Chalghoumi, who arrived in Israel this week to hold meetings with religious leaders and attend Tuesday’s International Bay Conference for Regionality 2023 in Haifa, described himself as “a man of peace and tolerance.”

“That is why I came here – to build bridges between the religions,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

This visit is not Chalghoumi’s first time in the country. He has come many times in the last several years, ever since he forged ties with other religious leaders in Israel. He said he wants the rest of the world to operate like Israel.

“In one hour, I had a Christian cab driver, a Jewish waiter and then had dinner with imams,” he said. “It shows the multiculturalism that exists in Israel. I come here to encourage others to work with me to build solidarity between all people.”

When asked if he experienced these same feelings even now, when the country has been described as being on the brink of civil war, and protesters fill the streets, the sheikh praised Israel’s democratic model.

“Despite the current situation, Israel is a country that allows free speech and the free sharing of ideas, and should be seen as a model for the world,” Chalghoumi said. “Muslims, Christians, Jews and Druze live together. This is the model I want to bring to Europe and other parts of the world.”
Israeli, Bahraini business leaders write history as they look to the future in Manama
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, the governments of Israel and Bahrain have continued to build on that initial agreement. But the real action took place last week on the 45th floor of the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Manama where, for the first time ever, Bahraini government officials and businesses met with Israeli companies to explore avenues of cooperation and the potential for business development.

The “Connect2Innovate” conference brought together government officials, major companies, international organizations, business communities and tech innovators to focus on challenges across fintech, logistics and supply changes, water, energy and climate. The event was a joint initiative of Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Economic Development Board (EDB), the Embassy of Bahrain in Israel and the Embassy of Israel in Bahrain, together with Start-Up Nation Central (SNC)—a nonprofit that connects governments, corporations, and investors to the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

Hamad Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the assistant undersecretary for domestic and foreign trade at Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, told JNS he was pleased with the turnout and happy the event was taking place. He also said that while he has yet to visit Israel, he would like to.

The conference took place just as the United Arab Emirates announced it would halt military purchases from Israel over concerns the political protests taking place across the country could destabilize the government. At the same time, Saudi Arabia reconciled with Iran, and speculation spread that Bahrain could potentially follow suit. In addition, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians has long been considered an obstacle to Israel’s relations with Arab and Muslim countries.

But geopolitics and the Palestinian issue no longer seem to affect that relationship. Concerns that the UAE decision, the Saudi-Iran deal, the political turmoil in Israel or the killing of Palestinian terrorists would raise eyebrows in Bahrain were short-lived, as not a single government official or business representative brought up the topic. Clearly, business was on everyone’s mind, and no one seemed interested in injecting politics into the newfound and burgeoning relationship based largely if not solely on bilateral business ties.
Israel Debuts ‘Iron Beam’ High-Energy Laser in Abu Dhabi
Israeli defense contractor Rafael last month debuted its high-power laser weapon system – the “Iron Beam” – at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2023) held in Abu Dhabi.

The Iron Beam is designed to neutralize moderate threats, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), rockets, artillery and mortar shells, using a 100-kilowatt or more directed energy weapon.

Those operating the system can choose whether to use standard kinetic missiles or the Iron Beam’s laser – but the laser provides a lower cost-per-shot and minimizes collateral damage, according to Rafael. Another advantage of the system is its unlimited magazine.

“We can actually focus the beam to the diameter of a coin in a 10-kilometer range,” Ran Gozali, executive vice president of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ land and naval division, told National Defense Magazine.

“When you do surface-to-air interception, you have air turbulence effects that diffuse the rays,” Gozali said. “We compensate for it in the transmitter to really focus the beam on the target for multiple seconds.”

The system is intended to support the world-renown Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, geared to intercept short-range threats.
Actor Ben Platt Talks About Playing Lynched Jewish Man in Broadway Revival ‘Parade’ During Uptick in Antisemitic Hate Crimes
Tony award-winning Jewish actor Ben Platt commented on the timeliness of starring in a Broadway play about the true story of a Jewish man whose life was ruined because of antisemitism.

“It’s sad but it’s also really galvanizing and motivating because it feels really immediate,” the 29-year-old told Page Six at the Broadway opening of the revival of Parade on March 16. “Usually, when you do a revival, you can feel a bit of separation from it. But we have little to none, which is a difficult blessing.”

The Broadway show is about Leo Frank, who was falsely convicted in 1913 of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked at the the Atlanta, Georgia, pencil factory that he managed. He was sentenced to death but when Georgia Gov. John M. Slaton discovered flaws in the testimonies from the trial that questioned if Frank was truly guilt of the crime, he commuted Frank’s sentence in 1915 to life in prison. An outraged mob then broke into the state penitentiary, kidnapped Frank and lynched him. Frank was 31 years old.

Platt, who plays Frank in Parade, said that appearing in the show has made him feel closer to his Jewish roots.

“I think it’s allowed me to embrace whatever Judaism means to me,” the former Dear Evan Hansen star explained. “Sometimes we feel if we’re not observant or we don’t keep kosher or we haven’t been to shul in a while. That makes us disconnected from Judaism or not a good Jew or if the theology isn’t something you totally relate to all the time but for me, it’s come to be proud of the cultural and emotional and familial ways that I feel Jewish and embrace that.”

During a preview performance for Parade in mid-February, neo-Nazis harassed patrons standing outside the theater in New York City, telling them “You’re paying $300 to go f__k worship a pedophile” and “Romanticizing pedophiles, wow, Leo Frank.” Protesters also chanted, “[Leo Frank is] a Jewish pedophile” and handed out flyers that referenced neo-Nazi and antisemitic hate groups.
Dorothy Bohm, photographer who fled Nazis, dies at 98
“As long as I am alive”, Dorothy Bohm once told the JC, “I will be a photographer. I will never retire”.

She was true to her word: her death has been announced at the age of 98, by which time she had carved out an enviable reputation as the woman who knew everyone and had taken the most extraordinary series of pictures, each one with her hallmark treatment of light.

Dorothy Israelit was born in June 1924 in Konigsberg, then in East Prussia, now known as Kalingrad in Russia. Her family were wealthy Lithuanian businesspeople who moved to Lithuania in 1932 in the van of the rise of the Nazis.

But eventually, when she was 14, there was nowhere left for her to run. Her brother Igor was already studying in Manchester, so her parents decided to send Dorothy to Britain, too. As they were saying goodbye, Dorothy recalled, her gadget-mad father, Tobias, took off the Leica camera he was wearing around his neck and gave it to her, telling her: “It might be useful to you”.

She told the JC: “I arrived on the eve of my 15th birthday. A traumatic experience because I had watched what Nazis were doing and the whole family was under great threat. After all these years it is still traumatic for me to remember those days”.
Inside the auction house driving the rare-book craze in the Orthodox world
Israel Mizrahi joined dozens of fellow connoisseurs of rare Jewish books last December to watch the livestream of Genazym, the hottest auction house in the market. A bookdealer by trade, Mizrahi was also on the phone being paid to advise a wealthy client who had signed up to make bids.

But as the auction proceeded, Mizrahi’s advice had little use. His trigger-happy client didn’t seem to care about established valuations: He ended up paying about $50,000 for a book estimated at half that price. “He just pressed the button and kept on bidding until the bidding was over,” Mizrahi said. “There was no convincing him out of it. He spent nearly $600,000 that day and there was no sense to it.”

Behavior that confounds veterans of the rare Jewish book market has become routine at auctions organized by Genazym.

Mizrahi recalled the sale in 2021 of a Passover Haggadah printed in the 1920s in Vienna. With attractive illustrations of a prominent 19th-century rabbi named Moses Sofer and his family, the book makes for a nice addition to a collection. It also happens to be very common.

“I sell copies for $100, and I have probably sold 150 copies in my life,” said Mizrahi, whose shop in Brooklyn is a mecca for Jewish book lovers. “It sold for about $5,500 at Genazym’s auction. I currently have it on sale still for $100.”

At the highest end of sale prices, a 16th-century first-edition Shulchan Aruch, a book of Jewish law, commanded $620,000 at a Genazym auction last September, while a copy of Noam Elimelech, a classic rabbinic treatise, printed in 1788, fetched $1.4 million four months later — in both cases at least doubling or tripling what experts thought the items were worth based on past sales of the same texts.
Oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible manuscript on display in Israel for 1st time
The Codex Sassoon, the oldest-known and the most complete Hebrew Bible manuscript, will go on display for the first time in Israel on Thursday at Tel Aviv’s Anu Museum, giving the public a rare opportunity to see the book before it is auctioned at Sotheby’s New York for an expected $30-$50 million.

The Masoretic codex comprises all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible and dates to the 10th century CE. The March 23-29 viewing at Anu will be free with pre-registration at the museum website.

“These are complicated days in Israel,” said Irina Nevzlin, chair of Anu’s board of directors, referring to the ongoing political turmoil. “Everything seems unclear and unsure, and it feels right to touch something that tells the story of our nation and allows the ability to look back into the past and forward towards the future. The Codex tells the stories of hundreds of years as Israel marks 75 years.”

(Nevzlin is married to Likud Knesset member Yuli Edelstein. Nevzlin’s father, Leonid Nevzlin, a Russian billionaire, gave $30 million to the museum’s recent $100 million renovation.)

The Bible, all 792 pages of it, about six inches thick and opened to its middle, sits in a glass vitrine in the museum’s permanent exhibition area, surrounded by other ancient and newer manuscripts of the Bible.

“We debated where to show it,” said Orit Shaham Gover, Anu’s chief curator. “The lobby would’ve been easy, or an empty gallery. We chose to put it into the permanent exhibit. We created a space for it in the foundations gallery, showing the Bible and its effect on the world.”
Crimean Jews’ Medieval Cemetery
When Russia became the home of the world’s largest Jewish population near the end of the 18th century, the overwhelming majority of these Jews lived in Polish territories recently acquired by the tsars. They were predominantly descendants of Jews from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. But in 1783 St. Petersburg also conquered the former Ottoman province of Crimea, which had its own Turkic-speaking Jewish population dating back at least to the 14th century, and perhaps to antiquity. Matti Friedman tells the story of a gravestone found in the medieval Jewish cemetery of Tmutarakan—one of the oldest extant Crimean Jewish artifacts.

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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 19 years and 40,000 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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