Sunday, March 26, 2023

From Ian:

Jewish leaders say only 16% of European nations have lived up to pledges to fight antisemitism
A year and a half after representatives of 37 European nations made commitments to combat antisemitism, only 16% of European Jewish leaders said they felt their countries had fully implemented those promises, a report released by the World Jewish Congress revealed on Tuesday.

The pledges were made at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism in October 2021, during which “states committed to supporting many initiatives dealing with combating antisemitism, fostering Jewish life, and promoting Holocaust remembrance.”

Just under half of the “Jewish leaders and professionals” surveyed, or 49%, said that their governments have at least partially implemented the plans they committed to during the Swedish forum.

“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 in a statement. “The truly hard work is the actual implementation of good ideas.”

According to a report released by the Swedish government in February, “60 delegations made around 150 pledges in relation to the Forum themes and related areas.” The pledges included everything from improving educational resources on the Holocaust and modern antisemitism to establishing unique legal frameworks to address hate crimes and antisemitic attacks as separate from other forms of crime. Some addressed broad topics, while some country’s pledges were as focused as the establishment of specific monuments.

A delegation from the WJC presented their study to Spain’s Monarch, King Filipe VI, on Tuesday, as the group’s leadership was in Madrid for an annual summit. Spain takes the helm of the European Union’s Presidency next year.

Ruthie Blum: The Israeli defense minister’s shameful retreat
Let’s begin with the former. Faced with the phenomenon of mainly Air Force and Cyber Division reservists threatening and refusing to turn up for military exercises, on the grounds that they wouldn’t serve in a “dictatorship,” Gallant got frightened.

Rather than nipping the subordination in the bud, he met with the men and women in uniform to let them vent their concerns. The cream of the crop of the Israel Defense Forces said that without an end to the “coup d’état” (the protest movement’s misnomer for judicial reforms), the powers that be in Jerusalem can forget about confronting Iran. You know, since there won’t be any pilots or computer geniuses to carry out the operations.

Instead of demanding that the IDF chief of staff warn them that such blackmail will result in their ouster from the IDF, or at least in a stripping of their ranks, Gallant not only conveyed their complaints to Netanyahu; he began, apparently, to see the merits of their point of view.

In other words, he didn’t make it crystal clear that political positions have no place in the army. Nor did he hit home the very points about judicial reform on which he based his campaign in the Likud Party primary—the very ones that earned him a top spot on the Knesset candidates list and subsequently the ministry he coveted.

He was simply too intimidated by the unprecedented situation to know how to handle it. Such gutlessness hardly inspires confidence about his ability to deal with Tehran and its tentacles in Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority.

Now for the latter attribute Gallant exhibited that makes him unsuitable: extreme disloyalty. Indeed, he took the opportunity of Netanyahu’s trip to London to undermine the arduous efforts of his party and coalition partners in one fell swoop.

That he pulled the stunt a mere 48 hours after the prime minister’s carefully crafted address aimed at calming tensions was particularly egregious. Netanyahu took pains to articulate the purpose of the reforms—to enhance, not harm, Israeli democracy—and assure that all civil and minority rights would be guaranteed in the law.

What the prime minister didn’t do was capitulate. When the opposition responded by stepping up its war, Gallant opted for retreat.

His move was not only dismissive of Netanyahu. It dealt a blow to all the soldiers who shun the mere suggestion of laying down their weapons in protest over policy.

Worse, it sent a disheartening message to the sector of the public that’s been under political, cultural and social assault for electing and continuing to support the Netanyahu-led government. “Shame” doesn’t begin to describe what Gallant should be feeling at the moment.

Netanyahu given week to rebut claim he violated conflict of interest deal
Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, on Sunday gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one week to respond to a petition alleging that he violated a conflict of interest agreement in a speech he delivered Thursday on judicial reform.

The Jerusalem-based left-wing Movement for Quality Government in Israel filed the petition on Sunday, asking that the court punish Netanyahu with prison time or fines for the televised address to the nation.

“A prime minister who doesn’t obey the court and the provisions of the law is privileged and an anarchist. The prime minister will be forced to bow his head before the law and comply with the provisions of the law,” said Eliad Shraga, the head of the Movement for Quality Government, which leads the protest movement against the coalition’s legislative push to limit the powers of the Supreme Court.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana must also respond to the petition by April 2, according to the ruling by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut.

Baharav-Miara on Friday characterized as “completely illegal” Netanyahu’s wading into efforts to reform the judiciary, claiming his doing so violates the conflict of interest agreement allowing him to govern while his trial on corruption charges is ongoing. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

“In your speech last night, you referred to proposals regarding the judicial system, and in particular to the composition of the committee for the appointment of judges, and announced that you are now directly involved in these initiatives,” Baharav-Miara wrote in a letter to Netanyahu.

“In doing so, you violated the ruling of the Supreme Court that a prime minister accused of crimes must refrain from actions giving rise to reasonable fear of a conflict of interest between your personal interests relating to the proceedings and your role as premier. Your statement last night and any further actions by you that violate that agreement are completely illegal,” she said.
Police Arrest 2 Protesters Trying to Break into Ben Gvir’s Home in Hebron
IDF reservists from a group calling itself “brothers in arms” on Sunday morning arrived in two busloads at the entrance to Kiryat Arba-Hebron, to protest the judicial reform in front of the home of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit).

According to Otzma Yehudit, two protesters who reached the fence of the minister’s home and attempted to break in were arrested by police.

Haaretz cited police sources who claimed no such arrests had been carried out since the two demonstrators remained in the public domain and did not trespass.

The demonstrators called out slogans such as, “This is too big for you, Ben Gvir,” and “We won’t allow someone who was not drafted into the IDF because of his extreme positions and violent background to wreak havoc on the State of Israel and endanger its security.”

The reservists blocked the access road to the settlement. Perhaps the police would consider this an arrest-worthy offense?

Minister Ben Gvir issued a statement saying, “The judicial reform should be passed, it’s the right thing for the State of Israel and it’s what the majority of the people chose in democratic elections. I will protect the right of demonstrators to exercise their freedom of expression, but we must in no way accept the serious scenes of the last few months, of attacks on ministers and MKs, laying siege to the homes of public figures, vandalism, and blocking main thoroughfares. This violence is dangerous and must be stopped before it’s too late.”

Gulf states ask US to respond to Smotrich’s comments on Palestinians
As Israel’s relationships with its Arab partners show signs of significant strain, the foreign ministers of the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council sent a letter Sunday to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for his recent comments about Palestinians.

The letter urged Blinken to “respond to all measures and statements that target the Palestinian people,” according to the UAE-based The National.

Last Sunday in Paris, Smotrich said that the Palestinian people were “an invention” from the last century and that people like himself and his grandparents were the “real Palestinians.”

Earlier this month, the minister — a senior figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition — stirred international outrage when he called to “wipe out” a Palestinian town in the West Bank after a Palestinian terror attack that killed two Israeli brothers, and was followed by a deadly settler rampage. He later walked back the comment and apologized.

The GCC Ministerial Council – made up of the six foreign ministers – had met in Riyadh last week. In their joint statement, they “condemned the racist statements of the Israeli Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, which called for the destruction of what remains of the Palestinian village of Hawara.”

They also blasted Israel for “repeated incursions by Israeli settlers into the courtyards of the Holy Al Aqsa Mosque”; settlement construction; military raids in the West Bank; expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem; and “attempts to change [the] legal character, demographic composition, and arrangements for Islamic holy places.”
i24NEWS English: Israel braced for a tense Ramadan
A panel of experts talk about what are developments that we could expect during the month of Ramadan in Israel.

Former PA Minister of Detainees and Ex Derainees Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami and Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eitan Dangot discuss different scenarions.

i24NEWS English: How does the IDF protect Israel from Hezbollah?
i24NEWS French Defense Correspondent Matthias Inbar went up north to Mount Hermon in Israel and met with Lt. Ofek, Deputy Commander 13th Battalion of the Golani brigade.

New Palestinian Terrorist Group Emerging in West Bank
A new armed Palestinian group has been established in the northern West Bank town of Salfit, media reported on Sunday.

The Jerusalem Post learned that a number of terror militias have been operating there for several months. The new group, called the “Martyr Omar Abu Laila Battalion,” is named after a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack near Ariel, in the central West Bank, killing two Israelis, a soldier and a civilian.

On March 17, 2019, the terrorist stabbed Sergeant Gal Keidan at Ariel Junction, grabbed the soldier’s gun and opened fire, hitting Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who later succumbed to his wounds. The terrorist was later killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli army forces.

Senior Palestinian Authority officials and leaders of Fatah, the ruling faction, have since praised Abu Laila for the attack. A memorial has been erected in his honor in the village of Abwein, near Ramallah, where he had been hiding before he was killed.

In a statement announcing its establishment, the Martyr Omar Abu Laila Battalion said its “soldiers were preparing many surprises that would shake the brutal [Israeli] entity”. Similar groups operate in the northern West Bank, including the “Lions’ Den” group, the Jenin Battalion, the Nablus Battalion and the Balata Battalion.

These groups consist of dozens of armed men affiliated with various factions, including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. According to Palestinian sources, other armed groups have also appeared in other areas of the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Hebron.

PA: The Jewish holy place the Western Wall is “Islamic”
Official PA TV narrator: “It is easy to go from [the Austrian Pilgrim Hospice] to the holy sites in the Old City [of Jerusalem], such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Islamic Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall), and even the Mount of Olives.” [Official PA TV, In Its Alleys, March 13, 2023]

The Al-Buraq Wall – Islam's Prophet Muhammad is said to have ridden during his Night Journey from Mecca to "al aqsa mosque", i.e., "the farthest mosque" (Quran, Sura 17), and there tied his miraculous flying steed named Al-Buraq to a "stone" or a "rock." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3424). In the 1920's, Arab Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini decided to identify the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem as that "rock" or "stone," and since then Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the "Al-Buraq Wall."

Police enter al-Aqsa, remove Palestinians barricaded in mosque
Police entered the al-Qibli chapel of al-Aqsa mosque and removed Palestinians who had barricaded themselves inside on Saturday night, after receiving information that some of those barricaded inside planned to conduct riots during planned visits by Jewish visitors on Sunday morning.

Video from the scene showed Muslim men and women praying, chanting "Allahu Akbar" and shouting at police officers as the officers removed worshippers from the building and the complex.

UK Intel Says Russia Used Over 70 Iran-Made Drones in Ukraine in March
Russia has reportedly launched at least 71 Iranian-made Shahed drones against Ukrainian targets since the beginning of March, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

According to UK intelligence, the Russian army started using “one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVS)” after a two-week break in February.

“Russia has likely started receiving regular resupplies of small numbers of Shahed OWA-UAVs,” the UK intelligence report said.

These launches are likely being carried out from Russia’s Krasnodar region in the east and Bryansk region bordering Ukraine in the north.

“This allows Russia flexibility to target a broad sector of Ukraine and decreases flying time to targets in the north of Ukraine. It is also likely to be a further attempt to stretch Ukrainian air defenses,” the UK Defense Ministry said.

Earlier on Saturday, UK intelligence reported that Russia’s assault on the eastern town of Bakhmut has largely stalled due to heavy casualties suffered in the months-long battle. The British Defense Ministry also suggested that Moscow was shifting to a “more defensive operational design after inconclusive results from its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January 2023.”

Haaretz Corrects Hawara Gunman Targeted Married Couple
CAMERA’s Israel office today prompted correction of an Haaretz article which erroneously stated that a Palestinian gunman fired on two Israeli men last Sunday in Huwara. In fact, the gunman fired on a husband and wife couple. A page-one article in Haaretz‘s English print edition (“Two soldiers wounded in second Hawara shooting in one week,” and online here) inaccurately reported: “On Monday, the Israeli army shuttered shops on Hawara’s main thoroughfare after a Palestinian gunman opened fire on two Israeli men driving through the main road.”

In fact, the gunman opened fire on an Israeli man and his wife, not two men. As Times of Israel reported, David Stern, a resident of the Itamar settlement in the northern West Bank, said he was driving with his wife on Route 60 through the Palestinian town of Huwara on their way to Jerusalem, when he stopped to give the right of way to a pedestrian, who then pulled out a gun and fired.

The Hebrew version of Haaretz does not contain the error. It correctly reports (CAMERA’s translation): “On Sunday, a resident of Itamar, 30, suffered moderate-difficult injuries from fire towards his vehicle in Huwara. An additional female traveler who was with him suffered from shock.”

In response to communication from CAMERA, Haaretz editors quickly and commendably corrected the digital article, which now accurately reports: “On Monday, the Israeli army shuttered shops on Hawara’s main thoroughfare after a Palestinian gunman opened fire on an Israeli man and his wife driving through the main road.”

Antisemitism in Italy stays out of politics, yet 'endures' within the country - Opinion
It is certainly one of the best times in history for relations between Italy and Israel, as confirmed by PM Netanyahu's recent visit to Rome, followed by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani's visit to Israel. The meeting between Netanyahu and PM Georgia Meloni went very well. The two, in addition to being the government leaders of two friendly countries close to each other, are also political allies in the conservative field. Italy and Israel have revived economic cooperation, and after 11 years, there will be a new bilateral intergovernmental meeting. Netanyahu has also announced that he intends to export gas to Europe through Italy.

The other good news is that there are no longer any antisemitic or even anti-Zionist political forces in the Italian Parliament. No party present across the floor has taken any hostile position against the Jewish world or Israel in recent years. Instead, most of them are engaged in the fight against antisemitism, both at the legislative level with anti-discrimination legislation and in the defense of Israel's right to exist and defend itself.

Within months of taking office, the new Italian government wanted to send an important signal to the Jewish community and Israel by appointing a National Coordinator to fight against antisemitism.

The bad news, on the other hand, is that last week, the CDEC Foundation's "Annual Report on Antisemitism in Italy in 2022" reported a worsening of the situation.

Antisemitism is still persistent in Italy. Compared to other years, 2022 saw a slight increase in antisemitic activity, with episodes recorded primarily occurring in school settings, notably in conjunction with anniversaries such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or when the most well-known Jews are at the forefront of certain situations.
Attack on Jewish leader in Finland sends shockwaves
Finland's leaders strongly condemned an assault on a Jewish lawmaker who was assaulted and punched in the face Saturday while campaigning for the country's April 2 general election.

President Sauli Niinisto tweeted that Saturday's physical attack on veteran conservative politician Ben Zyskowicz, 68, was "a cowardly act" that delivered a blow to Finnish democracy.

Zyskowicz told Finnish media that a large man who appeared to be between the ages of 30 and 40 confronted him at a metro station in Helsinki, the capital city that he represents.

The man started yelling, blaming him for Finland's decision to join NATO and hurling antisemitic insults, Zyskowicz told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, adding that the perpetrator also threatened to kill him and to push him onto the subway tracks.

The confrontation turned into a scuffle, and Zyskowicz reported he was hit in the face and fell on the ground, suffering bruises, scratches and other minor injuries. Police later apprehended a suspect.

Zyskowicz has served in Finland's parliament, the Eduskunta, for over 40 years, and is one of the most visible representatives of Finland's Jewish community.

The lawmaker told Helsingin Sanomat he thinks his assailant's motive was political. Zyskowicz is a member of the center-right National Coalition Party, which polls predict is in position to receive the most votes in the upcoming election.

The party has advocated for Finland to seek NATO membership for over 20 years.

"Under no circumstances must physically attacking candidates become part of Finnish society, not even as an entirely marginal phenomenon," Zyskowicz told the newspaper.
Comedian Elon Gold castigates antisemitism with Jewish humor
After the past few years have seen the world facing a catastrophic pandemic and a dramatic rise in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks, American Jewish comedian Elon Gold has only one question: “Is it me or does it feel like these past couple of years, everyone was either asymptomatic or antisemitic?”

Gold asked the question during his recent appearance on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden.

“And like being asymptomatic, you can even be antisemitic and not even know you have it,” he added.

Gold, an observant Jew living in Los Angeles, has experienced the poison of antisemitism first-hand. In 2014, as he was walking back from a Shabbat dinner with family, a young Arab man confronted them, yelling “Free Palestine” and wishing his children to die.

“It was explained to us that it would’ve been a hate crime if they had said they were going to kill us, instead of merely hoping we got killed, which makes it a hate incident,” he wrote in an essay for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. “Try explaining that differentiation to a 10-year-old girl who was just told to die.”

'I love to find the funny'
Born and raised in Brooklyn, where he attended an Orthodox Jewish day school, Gold has appeared on The Tonight Show a dozen times and among others starred in the FOX sitcom "Stacked." His stand-up special “Chosen & Taken” debuted on Netflix in 2014 and is now streaming on Amazon.

Antisemitism is a theme at the center of many of his jokes. However, he has often highlighted that this also helps him to raise awareness on the issue.

“I love to find the funny in hate because then you get to expose the ignorance of bigotry,” he told the Jewish Journal in 2017, while presenting his new show “Pro-Semitism."

“More important than the laugh is the message that’s behind the laugh. Comedians get across lots of messages disguised as jokes. Those jokes resonate and stay with you.”
Historic Israel-Africa-Arab Conference in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023
On Monday, March 27, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs will host the first-ever conference, bringing together think tank and policy center representatives from 30 Middle East and African states. Panelists and participants to this invitation-only event will discuss the prospects for enlarging and enhancing the Abraham Accords and the potential areas for Gulf-Africa-Israel partnerships in the fields of counterterrorism and national security, food and water security, and environmental concerns. Speakers and attendees will include citizens of Bahrain, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, South Africa, South Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uganda.

Jerusalem Center fellows, members of Knesset, and American Jewish leaders will also attend, as will the international press corps.

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