Thursday, May 04, 2023

05/04 Links Pt2: Will the Senate press the new US ambassador to Jordan about Malki’s killer?; The New Herodians; Shattering Another Excuse for FDR’s Holocaust Apathy

From Ian:

Will the Senate press the new US ambassador to Jordan about Malki’s killer?
This morning in Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from President Biden’s nominee for Ambassador to Jordan.

Yael Lempert is a highly qualified and experienced nominee who deserves to be confirmed and given the chance to serve as the American people’s representative in Amman. However, it will be a missed opportunity if senators on the Committee fail to press her for greater clarity on the Biden Administration’s position on a key issue of concern not only to the US-Jordanian relationship but to the basic practice of American justice.

For more than a decade, one of the F.B.I.’s most-wanted and highest profile perpetrators of terrorism, Ahlam Tamimi, has been living freely in Jordan, loudly celebrating the murder and maiming of American citizens she spearheaded and encouraging others to do the same. Instead of extraditing her to the United States to face justice, as is required under the valid extradition treaty, Jordan has refused to hand her over – while eagerly siphoning billions of dollars in aid from American taxpayers.

On August 9, 2001, a human bomb exploded inside a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. Tamimi selected the site as her target with great care as she has explained in numerous appearances in the Arabic-language media, and deposited the bomb-carrier at its entrance before fleeing to safety.

Fifteen innocents were murdered, eight of them children, with 130 injured.

Our daughter Malki, just fifteen years old, was one of two Americans among the dead. A third American, a young mother lunching with her toddler, remains in a coma still after all these years. We know Tamimi had the key role in the bombing on behalf of Hamas. We know she chose the pizzeria because of its popularity with young people. We know she sees this as the crowning achievement of her life.

We know these things because she has boasted publicly over and again and again of the unfathomable evil she unleashed that day.
The New Herodians
In its increasingly tense encounter with the American empire, the modern State of Israel finds itself confronted with an ancient choice: whether to continue as an independent state or whether to become a fractured Levantine client of a great power, governed by a Herodian faction. Rooted in the geography of the region and also in the historical experience of the Jewish people, the choice of how Israel positions itself now is likely to have extreme consequences for the future of the first Jewish state in over two millennia.

The choice of Israel’s elites, as expressed through a month of street demonstrations and an ongoing media campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his proposed judicial reforms, is clear. Their strategy is to position themselves as a modern-day version of the Herodians, the famous allies of Rome whose preeminent king, Herod the Great, built the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as well as the great fortress of Masada. Renowned during his lifetime and even 2,000 years after his death as a master builder, Herod not only ruled over the largest Jewish kingdom since the Iron Age, but managed to insinuate his relatives into the corridors of imperial power. Herod’s grandson was educated in Rome in the circles of imperial princes who befriended him, and his great-granddaughter Berenice was the lover of the future emperor of Rome—a liaison that, if consummated in marriage, might have fused Judaism and Rome at a much earlier juncture in history, and with what could have only been a very different effect, than Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.

Yet for the Jews, the reign of Herod and his family was but a way station on the path to disaster, culminating in the destruction of Herod’s Temple along with all vestiges of Jewish national independence for the next two millennia. It didn’t take long following Herod’s death for Judea to come under direct Roman rule as a province. Unrest would commence within a generation. By the time of his great-grandson, the destruction of the Jewish kingdom that Herod once ruled was so complete that the Jews became the world’s reigning metaphor for a stateless people, and the rise of Zionism, 19 centuries later, appeared to many, Jews and Christians alike, as nothing less than a modern-day miracle.

The Herodian pitch for Roman backing against their internal foes was not only not unique to their faction, but also in no way a particularly Jewish fault. The habit of local factions seeking external intervention defines the fractured societies of the Levant—Lebanon and Syria, as well as the stateless Kurds and Palestinians—who are unlikely ever to be sovereign. Such internally splintered polities have been the Levant’s structural characteristic going back for millennia, resulting from and contributing to its historical standing as “the crossroads of Empire”—i.e., a battleground for the armies of more stable and successful cultures.

Since its rebirth as a modern state, Israel has stood as an anomaly in the Levant: a cohesive and militarily powerful nation-state in a region where stability is hard to find. To ensure its independence, Israel became a nuclear power—attaining a destructive capability that only a few advanced states possess, and which would appear to serve as a potent hedge against conventional attack. According to some estimates, Israel now possesses either the fourth- or the fifth-most-powerful military in the world.

Alan Dershowitz: Israel Is Being Attacked by Political Short-Sellers
So this columnist plans to increase his investments in the Jewish state.

The newest weapon in the campaign against the ill-advised and overreaching judicial “reforms” being advocated by some Israeli politicians is the equally ill-advised and overreaching effort by some opponents to endanger Israel’s economy.

They claim that the judicial reform proposals, if enacted, would make Israel a less attractive venue in which to invest. There is, though, nothing in the proposals themselves that would have any direct negative impact on Israel’s economy in general or on the “startup nation” aspect of its high-tech sector.

It is the false claim itself — not the true workings of the economy — that is affecting the economic standing of the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the prediction itself, even if baseless or overstated, can hurt a company or a country.

Short sellers have long been aware of this phenomenon and some have used (misused?) it to their unfair advantage. They spread false rumors in the hope and expectation that they will lower the prices of stocks they are shorting. That is analogous to what some opponents of judicial reform are trying to do in an effort to create pressure against the proposed reforms.

It may be working, at least in the short run. Some companies have threatened to pull their investments, and Israel’s credit rating has been downgraded. These actions are not a direct result of the judicial reforms themselves, which have not even been enacted. They are more a function of the alleged instability reflected in the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

And also in the frequency of Israeli elections and the appointment of extremists to the recently organized Netanyahu government. These alleged manifestations of “instability” are the best evidence that Israel is a thriving democracy. France too has demonstrations and extremists but they are not seen as reasons to doubt that country’s democratic character.

Shattering Another Excuse for FDR’s Holocaust Apathy
A recent New York Times feature about a troubled World War II veteran has inadvertently shed fresh light on the Roosevelt administration’s refusal to bomb the railways leading to Auschwitz. The story also implicitly undermines one of the major themes of the recent Ken Burns documentary about America’s response to the Nazi genocide.

According to the Times, Brooklyn resident John Wenzel, who will soon celebrate his 100th birthday, had never wanted to discuss his wartime service. But recently he began suffering nightmares about it, prompting him and his daughters to examine a long-unopened box of letters that he wrote to his family during his time in Europe.

Wenzel was a fighter pilot who flew bombing missions over German-occupied northern Italy and southern Austria in early 1945. His targets, the Times article noted, included “Axis railroad cars,” “a rail line,” and “stalled enemy train cars.” He was wounded—and subsequently awarded two Purple Hearts—while providing air support for soldiers “pushing toward a rail hub.”

Here’s how Wenzel’s story intersects with the Holocaust. Contemporary defenders of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Holocaust record argue that there was no point in bombing the railways to Auschwitz—over which hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to their deaths—because the Germans sometimes were able to repair railway lines fairly quickly. Ken Burns promoted that claim in his recent film, “The U.S. and the Holocaust.”

The reality, however, is that the Allies constantly bombed railway lines throughout Europe, despite the possibility of the Germans repairing them.

Bombing railways, including the bridges along their routes, consumed no less than 32% of the bomb tonnage utilized in the Allies’ entire strategic air campaign in Europe. John Wenzel was just one of more than 165,000 American pilots who graduated basic flight training in World War II. Yet the bombing of Axis railway targets in Europe was so common that when the New York Times picked one pilot’s story to spotlight, sure enough he was among those involved in the railway attacks.

When the Allies began preparing to invade Italy in 1943, they carried out extensive bombing of enemy transportation routes there. Likewise, during the months before the crucial D-Day landings in 1944, American and British pilots attacked railway targets across France, Belgium, and western Germany. By D-Day, France’s railways were functioning at just 10% of their normal capacity.
Conviction of French Synagogue Bomber Is a Better Late Than Never Verdict
Early on the morning of October 3, 1941, in the midst of the cruel occupation of Paris by Germany, seven synagogues in Paris were severely damaged by terrorist bombs. This concerted attack was clearly organized with the express consent of the occupiers. Fortunately, because no one was in the synagogues at the time of the bombings, there were no casualties, but the violence marked the beginning of unparalleled persecution of the Jews of Paris.

Shortly after the bombings, my grandfather, then the Secretary-General of the Paris Consistoire, joined Paris’ Chief Rabbi and other lay leaders to examine the extent of the damage. Before very long, Gestapo and French police officers arrived and took control of the sites and the investigation of the bombings. They assuredly had no intention of exposing the perpetrators.

In spite of the obvious risk, my grandfather and a couple of other lay leaders decided to lodge complaints with French government authorities. They determined that, despite the personal danger, it was necessary to put the government to the test to determine whether the perpetrators would be brought to justice. Not surprisingly, the authorities dragged their feet. Even though a criminal investigation was initiated, no one was ever charged with a crime. Subsequent research would ascertain that the attacks had been caused by a French fascist militia, with the full cooperation and active support of the German occupiers and French collaborators.

My thoughts turned to this sad chapter in French Jewish history when I heard the news that, on April 21, 2023, a French court had, at long last, convicted an individual for the 1980 bombing of a synagogue on rue Copernic in Paris, the first time since 1941 that a Paris synagogue had been so targeted.

In 1980, 39 years to the day after the attack on the seven synagogues during the German occupation, a Palestinian agent drove a motorcycle to rue Copernic and parked it in front of the main Conservative synagogue of the city. He left the motorcycle; a few minutes later it exploded. Four individuals on the street, only one of whom was Jewish, were killed, and many were severely injured. The synagogue itself was heavily damaged.
Ben-Dror Yemini: A Modern History of Palestinian Rejectionism
For decades, people have been spreading the narrative that if only Israel would be a little more generous, peace was within reach.

The most important peace initiatives in recent decades have been those of Bill Clinton in 2000, Saudi Arabia in 2002, Ehud Olmert in 2008, and John Kerry and Barack Obama in 2014 - all of which were rejected by the Palestinians.

In 2020, normalization agreements were reached between Israel and four Arab countries - the Abraham Accords - that reflect a change in the Arab world.

According to a 2019 survey by Zogby Research Services, 84% of Emirati residents, 79% of Saudi Arabians, 73% of Egyptians, 72% of Jordanians, 49% of Lebanese, and 39% of Palestinian Authority residents support normalization with Israel even in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Why the Palestinians have failed to create a state
Both the PA and Hamas have been dependent for survival on funding from international sources, which have been unreliable – and shrinking – over the decades. While the PA has received more than $40 billion in foreign aid since 1994, it has developed no functioning economy, it's effectively bankrupt, and sadly, still lives hand to mouth.

Hamas, famously, spends a huge part of its revenue – mostly from Iran and Qatar – on funding military equipment and troops for the futile, unending war it wages against Israel. Its unemployment rate is around 50%.

No wonder US President Biden on his trip to the Middle East last year told Abbas, in a blinding flash of the obvious, that "the ground is not ripe" for peace negotiations.

On top of the Palestinians' abject lack of readiness for their own state, Israelis have grown skeptical even of their neighbors' desire for independence. Indeed, the Palestinians' strategy of heartless murder of Jewish women, children and men, combined with their refusal to seize numerous Israeli offers of land for peace, have made the Jewish population bitter, distrustful and fed-up.

In short, Israel is unlikely to welcome another painful peace process, let alone repeat their generous peace offers of the past.

Palestinian leaders have left their movement bereft of the basic qualities required of statehood: A commitment to peace and democracy, stable governmental institutions and a functioning economy. Above all, if its cruel strategy of terror ever made sense in the past – it did not, of course – today it only causes Israelis to dig in and fight back more fiercely.
Why Do We Think U.S. Support for Israel Is in Danger?
On April 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution saluting Israel on its 75th birthday. The vote of 400 to 19 in support of Israel is as close to a unanimous vote as anyone could hope for.

17 of the "no" votes were composed of the entire infamous Progressive Caucus, which at this stage is a small group with very little influence. They are colorful, they are loud, and they speak in sound-bites, but they are not powerful.

There has been a decline in the perception of the essential role of Israel and the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. It is just not as bad as it is often portrayed.
US Security Coordinator submits new report on death of Al Jazeera journalist
The U.S. Security Coordinator has submitted a new report on the killing of an Al Jazeera journalist in Jenin in May 2022, which is said to confirm the USSC’s previous finding that her death was unintentional.

Shireen Abu Akleh was killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin.

“My understanding is that the U.S. Security Coordinator has not changed the same conclusion that was released last summer… when we put out a statement about this, which is that [Israel Defense Forces] gunfire was likely the reason [for her death]—unintentionally. But, again, I don’t have any additional updates or assessments to offer on this report,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel in a briefing on Wednesday.

“Our findings, that are consistent with the U.S. Security Coordinator’s, is that this was unintentional and due to incredibly tragic circumstances,” he added.

An IDF investigation into the incident found that, “it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the gunfire which hit Ms. Abu Akleh. However, there is a high possibility that Ms. Abu Akleh was accidentally hit by IDF gunfire that was fired toward suspects identified as armed Palestinian gunmen, during an exchange of fire in which life-[threatening], widespread and indiscriminate [fire was directed] toward IDF soldiers.”

The IDF emphasized that at no point was Israeli fire directed at anyone other than the terrorists shooting at Israeli forces, some of whom fired “from the area in which Ms. Shireen Abu Akleh was present.”

Forensic analysis of the bullet the Palestinian Authority claims killed Abu Akleh yielded inconclusive results. The testing was conducted in a forensic laboratory in Israel under the supervision of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel.

“The physical condition of the bullet does not allow for a conclusive determination regarding the source of fire that led to the death of the journalist,” the IDF said in a statement at the time.

The U.S. State Department in its own statement concurred that the bullet was too badly damaged to yield conclusive results.

French parliament declares Israel not an apartheid state
The French National Assembly voted down a resolution stating that Israel instituted an apartheid regime, with 199 opposed and 71 in favor on Thursday.

Dep. Jean-Paul Lecoq of the French Communist Party, which is part of the Democratic and Republican Left parliamentary group, proposed the resolution to “reaffirm the need for a two-state solution and condemn the State of Israel's institutionalization of an apartheid regime as a result of its colonial policy.”

French Secretary of State for Europe Laurence Boone said in his speech opposing the resolution that "France is a friend of Israel. France is unfailingly committed to Israel's security."

"It is also this...deep friendship, based on an attachment to common values, which allows France to maintain a frank dialogue with our Israeli friends and to say things clearly," Boone said. "To say things clearly is to name them well. In this regard, we can only reject the use of the term apartheid."

Boone added that France rejects terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and seeks security for Israelis and Palestinians.

"Escalating rhetoric does not help," he stated.

Boone also quoted French President Emmanuel Macron's past comments that antisemitism is often behind anti-Zionism.
Norway Updates Policy on Israel, Jerusalem and Palestinian State
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs conceded last November to the pro-Israel NGO With Israel for Peace (Med Israel for fred, or MIFF) that capital cities are not subject to recognition by other countries.

At some point following a March 7 letter from MIFF, Norway changed its website to note that it recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and does not recognize a Palestinian state.

“The changes are important, because the updated text is now correct, and it does not treat Israel differently than other countries,” Conrad Myrland, general manager of MIFF, told JNS.

The bulk of the international community has long claimed that it doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital due to the lack of settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has countered that no other country has been denied the right to select its own capital.

In late 2022, MIFF questioned under what circumstances Norway recognized capital cities established over the last century, including the likes of Canberra (1923, Australia), Brasilia (1960, Brazil), Abuja (1991, Nigeria), Putrajaya (1999, Malaysia) and Naypyidaw (2005, Myanmar).

MIFF asked whether Norway has recognized those capitals and under what process the recognition, if any, was given?

Tuva Bogsnes, head of communications for the foreign ministry, replied that “a country’s choice of capital is not in itself subject to recognition from other countries. Thus, there is also no document available from the Norwegian authorities that formally recognizes ‘new’ capitals in individual countries,” according to correspondence MIFF posted online.

While seemingly a manifest statement, it showed Oslo’s hypocrisy when it came to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
‘Profoundly Destructive’: Jewish Organizations from Across Ideological Spectrum Call on Academic Association to Reject BDS Resolution
Over 80 major Jewish organizations spanning the American political spectrum have signed a blistering letter imploring members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to reject a resolution proposing an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

The measure, which accuses Israel of being an apartheid regime and committing crimes against humanity, will be considered via electronic ballot from June 15-30, according to the website of Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions (AnthroBoycott), a group that supports it. If passed, AAA would become the first major academic professional association to endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement since the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) did in 2022.

“The boycott of Israel’s universities cannot be meaningfully separated from the faculty and students who work, teach, and study in them,” the letter says. “The boycott thus functions as a blacklist that punishes individual academics on the basis of their nationality, political views, and the policies and actions of their employers and government.”

The letter, drafted by the Alliance for Academic Freedom (AAF) and The Academic Engagement Network (AEN), adds that Israeli universities “work hard to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence” on their campuses and foster viewpoint diversity, which, it noted, includes “support for Palestinian voices.” The groups also emphasized that Israeli academics take the lead in criticizing Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Jewish doctor denied payment from Arkansas after refusing to rule out Israel boycott
The state of Arkansas is refusing to pay a Jewish doctor for a talk he delivered at a public university because he declined to promise not to boycott Israel.

Dr. Steve Feldman, a dermatologist, delivered a Zoom lecture to University of Arkansas at Little Rock medical students in February, for which he was entitled to a $500 honorarium from the state. But Feldman said that the state is withholding payment because he refused to sign a pledge, required for public contractors under Arkansas law since 2017, to commit to not boycotting Israel.

“They have a law in place that makes contracts with Arkansas dependent on your agreement not to boycott Israel, which I think is wrong,” Feldman, who is a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “To me, growing up Jewish, the very strong lesson of the Holocaust that I learned is it’s wrong to mistreat other people.”

Arkansas is one of dozens of states that have passed laws aiming to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. The laws either bar the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel or, as in Arkansas’ case, mandate that state contractors promise not to boycott the country. Most of those laws have been struck down by courts, but Feldman’s lecture took place the same month the US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Arkansas’ law. His case is the latest example of how such laws are affecting what would otherwise be ordinary state business transactions.
Multiple Antisemitic Incidents Reported at University of California Santa Cruz
Back to back antisemitic incidents occurred on and near the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) late last month, school officials confirmed in a statement shared with The Algemeiner.

The incidents involved a group of students organizing a party commemorating the birthday of Adolf Hitler and a separate flyer promoting antisemitic and homophobic ideas which was placed on the windshield of a car parked in downtown Santa Cruz.

“Whatever the purpose and wherever they take place, we reject any and all acts of antisemitism. Our Jewish community members and our LGBTQIA+ community members are an integral part of our Banana Slug family, and we stand with them against all acts of hate,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success Dr. Akirah Bradley-Armstrong said on Sunday. “White supremacy has no place at UC Santa Cruz.”

Akira-Bradley also called on the community to “continue to reject all expressions of hate” and detailed various counseling services available to students and staff affected by the incident.

Antisemitic incidents in the United States increased 36 percent in 2022, according to an annual audit issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in March. Four hundred-and-ninety-four incidents took place on K-12 campuses, and two-hundred-and-nineteen incidents took place at colleges and universities, an increase of 41 percent from the previous year.

A slew of antisemitic incidents have occurred at colleges and universities over the first four months of 2023.

Guardian Editor: 'Publication of cartoon was an editorial failure'
The Guardian’s publication of an “antisemitic” cartoon highlighted failures in their editorial process, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief has said in an internal email.

In a message to editorial staff sent on Wednesday afternoon, Katharine Viner condemned the “completely unacceptable cartoon” that contained “a number of offensive antisemitic tropes”.

The sketch, drawn by artist Martin Rowson, showed former BBC chairman Richard Sharp with “outsized, grotesque” features clutching a box that held a squid, Rishi Sunak’s head, and what appeared to be gold coins.

At least three Guardian employees saw and approved of the image before it was published according to a column by Guardian readers’ editor Elisabeth Ribbans also revealed.

The opinion desk staff did not know Sharp was Jewish and were unaware of the antisemitic connotations of depicting him holding a squid.
In defence of outrage at Martin Rowson
First, it needs to be clarified that Rowson wasn’t fired, and we’re not aware of any British Jewish organisation advocating for his termination. He was not “cancelled” and, as we’ve made clear, CAMERA UK firmly opposes cancel culture. But, anger and criticism by Jews over what they perceive to be antisemitism, particularly when the target is affiliated with a media outlet that’s often hospitable to such bigotry, is not the same thing as the censorious culture Fraser rightly decries.

Instead of empathising with the frustration of Rowson’s Jewish critics, including some who are widely respected experts in understanding antisemitism, and viewing their ‘outrage’ as sincere, he imputes dishonesty, dismissing them as “outrage squads”.

Though the Spectator continues to provide a platform to at least one commentator openly hostile to Jews, they are, as a right-wing publication, certainly the last place that Jeremy Corbyn-supporting anti-Jewish activists would turn to for commentary. Yet, their editor goes down the same low road as the former Labour leader and his fellow-travelers, those who breezily dismissed the concerns of a community disproportionately targeted by racism, gaslighting Jews who expressed fear over the political ascendancy of an activist clique which often traded in the most toxic anti-Jewish calumnies.

Yes, by all means, let’s have a vigorous debate over what constitutes modern antisemitism. But, anyone interested in having an honest and intellectually serious debate about the topic in any given situation would avoid ad hominem attacks and imputations of bad faith to the British Jewish community.
Jonathan Tobin: The New York Times’ unethical war on Chassidic schools
Few members of the general public pay much attention to Pulitzer Prizes. Like most such competitions, they are subjectively decided and often say more about intellectual fashion than excellence in journalism and the arts categories in which they are awarded. They are also routinely dominated by the largest newspapers that, especially in recent years, tend to be the only ones with the resources to fund the large-scale and long-running investigations that are widely considered Pulitzer bait.

While having one is a highlight of any résumé, the Pulitzers that are most remembered tend to be the most controversial. The prestigious body may be about to start another scandal on May 7, when it is expected to announce that the Pulitzer for Investigative Journalism will be given to The New York Times for its 18-part series on Chassidic yeshivahs in New York state.

The conceit of this unprecedented deep dive into the network of ultra-Orthodox schools was, on its face, a legitimate avenue of inquiry. The series began with an article probing whether students were being deprived of basic secular education in subjects like English and math that might enable them to support themselves or function outside of the enclaves in which they live.

As I wrote when the series started last September, the question of adequate educational standards in these schools is a legitimate one. If they are truly failing their children, whether out of incompetence or a belief that non-religious subjects are unimportant, it would be a tragedy that might be contributing to the already troublingly high rates of poverty in these communities.

However, it soon became apparent that the Times was interested in more than just that narrow question. Even the initial broadside—to which the paper devoted enormous resources in terms of reporters’ time (two reporters spent a full year producing the report with the aid of who knows how many researchers), space and even the publication of a special Yiddish edition of the account—seemed unable to stick to that concern.
Dishonest New York Times Series Does Not Deserve a Pulitzer
Following an 18-part investigative series in The New York Times alleging various forms of maleducation and malfeasance in New York City yeshivas, the New York Board of Regents began implementing regulations targeting these Hasidic Jewish day schools.

These included requiring certain classes (currently not taught at yeshivas) to be taught for a specified length, allowing the New York City Public School System to declare yeshivas “non-compliant” and send parents to jail for truancy for sending children there, and allowing New York to investigate any private school after a complaint from any individual (not just from parents, teachers, or students of yeshivas).

Last month, a New York district court struck down these regulations, but the state has filed a notice that it is appealing the decision.

Hasidic community leaders have complained that the Times reporters, who are now under consideration for a Pulitzer Prize, presented a profoundly biased and inaccurate portrait of their schools.

An extensive review of one recent entry in the Times series suggests that the rabbis are right. To make its case against the yeshivas, the Times plays fast and loose with the facts, relies on innuendo, and repeatedly violates its own professed journalistic standards, such as failing to disclose its sources’ conflicts of interests and inappropriately anonymizing sources that it had previously named publicly.

In late December 2022, the Times published an article titled “How Hasidic Schools Reaped a Windfall of Special Education Funding.” Reporter Brian Rosenthal explains that the Orthodox community, through its lobbying arm, Agudah, lobbied for reforms to streamline the special education hearing process and, in 2014, according to one Agudah leader, “got everything we wanted.” Since then, requests for aid have more than tripled, with half of such requests now coming “from areas with large Hasidic and Orthodox populations.”

Rosenthal alleges that “dozens of schools in the Orthodox community have pushed parents to get children diagnosed with disabilities,” which would make the students eligible for additional state financial support. This money does not go directly to the schools, but rather to Orthodox-owned-and-staffed special education companies. As more and more money flows from the state to the Hasidic community, the system is breaking under administrative strain, and, according to one hearing officer, “It’s affected the access to justice of all, and swamped the cases of children who attend public schools.”

It’s a plausible and powerful story, but almost every detail of it withers under scrutiny.
In Foreign Affairs, Four Professors Call for the End of Israel
The nearly 6,000-word piece is, Gish-Gallup style, filled with numerous other manipulations and misrepresentations. For example, the authors claim that in 2000 at Camp David, “U.S.-led negotiations failed to achieve a two-state agreement….” Of course, they did not simply or spontaneously “fail.” Former US President Bill Clinton was clear in his autobiography: “Right before I left office, Arafat, in one of our last conversations, thanked me for all my efforts and told me what a great man I was. ‘Mr. Chairman,’ I replied, ‘I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you have made me one.’ … Arafat’s rejection of my proposal after Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions.” Nor did the Second Intifada simply “erupt,” as the authors claim in the next sentence – as Yasir Arafat’s wife, Suha Arafat explained, he started it intentionally.

And more:
The authors write, “liberal Israeli Jews have organized massive protests against the Netanyahu government’s assault on democracy and the judiciary, but they have mobilized around the Palestinian issue far less, showing how internal disagreements have edged aside questions about a peace process that no longer exists.” But the authors fail to acknowledge that the reason for the current lack of interest in the peace process is wave after wave of terror attacks.

To bolster the argument for US intervention on behalf of a one-state solution, the authors write that the US “bears considerable responsibility for entrenching the one-state reality.” But in fact, multiple successive US administrations have attempted to broker a two-state solution, including those of Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

The authors even claim that Gaza is part of this “one-state reality.” They claim, “Hamas does not control the territory’s coastline, airspace, or boundaries. In other words, by any reasonable definition, the Israeli state encompasses all lands from its border with Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.” They further claim that “between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, one state controls the entry and exit of people and goods, oversees security, and has the capacity to impose its decisions, laws, and policies on millions of people without their consent.” And that, “even after it withdrew forces from Gaza in 2005, the Israeli government retained control over the territory’s entry and exit points.” But Gaza has a border with Egypt over which Israel exercises no control. Is it possible these four eminent professors have neglected to consult a map?

The authors claim, “the second Intifada, which erupted soon after the disappointment at Camp David, and Israel’s subsequent intrusions into the West Bank transformed the Palestinian Authority into little more than a security subcontractor for Israel.” While on the one hand purporting to cooperate with Israel on security issues, on the other, the Palestinian Authority incites terror by providing financial rewards to those who commit terror attacks. That’s not what a “security subcontractor” does.

The authors claim that there was a “2021 crisis over the appropriation of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem,” and that, “it is all too easy to imagine a scenario in which Israel moves to confiscate more property in Jerusalem, provokes widespread Palestinian protests, and then responds to this unrest with even greater violence and faster dispossession—eventually triggering the final collapse of the Palestinian Authority.” An eviction action over failure to pay rent is hardly an “appropriation.” Nor would any other country’s enforcement of civil property law ever be considered a “provocation.”

The authors claim that within the “territory that stretches from the river to the sea,” Israel “has a near monopoly on the use of force.” The Israelis who regularly must seek cover from Hamas rockets in bomb shelters would most probably disagree.
BBC News website reporting on PIJ hunger striker and rocket attacks
On the morning of May 2nd a report headlined “Palestinian Khader Adnan dies in Israel jail after 86 days on hunger strike” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

The BBC’s euphemistic portrayal of Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a “militant group” – rather than an Iranian backed terrorist organisation designated by the UK, the US, the EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel – clearly does not contribute to readers’ understanding of the reason for Adnan’s detention.

Readers of that report were not informed that Khader Adnan had been arrested in February for suspected membership in a terror group, support for a terrorist organisation and incitement or that he had been indicted and was being held in custody until the completion of the legal proceedings.

As the day went on amendments were made to the BBC’s report (but not including the main photo caption describing Adnan as an “activist”) and the version that appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of May 2nd was credited to David Gritten and headlined “Khader Adnan: Rockets fired after Palestinian hunger striker dies in Israeli jail”.

While readers of that version of the report were similarly not informed in the BBC’s own words that the PIJ is a widely designated terrorist organisation, in the fourth paragraph they were correctly informed that:
“The prisoner, Khader Adnan, was a senior figure in Islamic Jihad who had been charged with terrorism offences.”

“Israeli authorities accused him of supporting terrorism, affiliation with a terrorist group and incitement, and he was due to go on trial this month.”
Germany and US announce ‘significant progress’ on Holocaust dialogue
The United States and Germany announced jointly that their dialogue on Holocaust issues, which began in 2021, has made “significant progress.”

The conversation seeks to “counter the rise in Holocaust denial and distortion—a dangerous development that undermines freedom, democracy and security—and to contribute to a world in which knowledge about the Holocaust is abundant, based on facts and serves as a foundation for tackling today’s challenges at an early stage,” per the statement.

To date, the dialogue participants—the U.S. State Department, the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum—have made progress in three areas.

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies—a partnership of the U.S. Defense Department and the German Federal Ministry of Defense—made Holocaust studies a permanent part of its “flagship” applied security studies program.

“Over 100 senior military and civilian officials from more than 30 countries attended the pilot module in 2022, which was designed to help professionals apply lessons from the Holocaust to their own work of protecting life and democratic principles while working in a multinational context,” stated Germany and the United States.

The U.S. State Department also conducted a “landmark” study of online Holocaust denial and distortion across 12 languages, and the German Federal Foreign Office is now conducting a “complementary study” on the same topic.
"Teen Gang Leader Arrested for Attack on Crown Heights Jews"
NYPD officers have arrested the ringleader of a gang of teens accused of violently attacking and robbing two Jewish boys on March 14 in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.

The gang leader, age 14, was arrested Wednesday after being identified in surveillance footage of the attack.

In that footage, the 14-year-old thug is seen punching one of the boys in the face. He is the fourth perpetrator to be arrested in connection with the attack.

The detainees have been charged with attempted robbery and gang assault.

The first gang member to be arrested was a 16-year-old, who was taken into custody by police officers in the 77th Precinct. Police said he has at least six prior arrests.

The boys were attacked as they were walking on Albany Avenue near Crown Street at around 9:15 pm. The gang of six approached them from behind, police said.

The two boys heard their attackers say, “Get them,” before the thugs came up to the victims and demanded he empty his pockets, then punched him in the face. The boy fell to the ground from the force of the punch, police said. The boy’s friend was likewise ordered to empty his pockets and give the thugs his money, then was slapped in the face.

Building a bridge between Israel and Black America
A delegation of 200 African-American Christian women will hold a first-ever leadership summit in Jerusalem this summer, seeking to strengthen the friendship with the Jewish people epitomized by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the event organizer said Wednesday.

The “Women of the Bible” tour, which is being organized by a US-based evangelical organization, will be hosted by Cathelean Steele, founder of Justice for Girls and national project coordinator at the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African-American civil-rights organization co-founded by King.

The eight-day educational tour in July will work to connect African-Americans and Israelis, said Dr. Ruth Pauline Plummer, CEO of Covenant Daughters International Ministries, who came up with the idea for the Women of the Bible tour.

“Our goal is to build a bridge between Israel and black America, and we are doing this trip to help mobilize Christian women’s support for Israel,” Plummer said in an interview with JNS from her home in Jerusalem. “We are picking up the torch.”

Plummer is a native of Louisiana who went on to spend three decades in Georgia. Two and half years ago, she left Detroit to take up residence in Israel with her husband, the prominent evangelical leader Bishop Glenn Plummer, on a special religious visa in order to promote Christian support for Israel.

The women set to participate in the leadership tour include 140 Americans, with the remainder from the Bahamas and the United Kingdom, Ruth Plummer said. They include women from various Christian denominations and all walks of life, including pastors, entrepreneurs, businesswomen and singers.
Two Forgotten American Jews Who Helped Build the U.S.-Israel Alliance
In the 1960s, Abraham (Abe) Feinberg and Myer (Mike) Feldman played key roles in facilitating the relations between the White House and Jerusalem. Neither was formally connected with any Jewish or Israeli institution; nor did either man hold a diplomatic position. Thus their efforts thus took place outside of the public spotlight. Abraham Ben-Zvi and Gadi Warsha tell their stories:

The two resolved to dedicate their time and efforts to bolstering Israel, not for financial reasons or vanity, but primarily so that they could advance what they considered shared interests by the two countries. Feldman was a successful and wealthy lawyer from Philadelphia when he was tapped by President Kennedy to be the liaison officer between the White House and the Jewish community. Feinberg was a philanthropist and a businessman from a family that made its wealth in the textile industry. Although he had been wielding influence in Democratic administrations since 1948, capitalizing on his ties, he became a real mover and shaker under Johnson, when he turned into a secret envoy for Israel, enjoying the [complete] trust of the president.

[Feldman’s] first action, which he undertook together with Feinberg, was in arranging the unofficial meeting between then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and John F. Kennedy in New York in May 1961. This was not just a logistical matter—it was complicated due to fierce opposition by some circles in the administration. Feldman ultimately wielded his unique influence on the presidential decision-making process in the run-up to the procurement deal with Israel for Hawk surface-to-air missiles: for the first time, a U.S. administration agreed to transfer sophisticated weapon systems to Israel. This created an important precedent on the path charted by Ben-Gurion as he sought to make Washington Israel’s main arms supplier.
Unlike Most Political Autobiographies, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Is a Literary Success
During his brief period out of office last fall, Israel’s current prime minister published an English-language memoir. Andrew Roberts writes in his review:

Most politicians’ autobiographies are turgid affairs. They tend to be written for the historical record, or for votes in the next election, or to prove that the author was always right about everything—three reliable avenues to literary failure. Because very often the authors’ successes were won as the result of negotiation and compromises in anonymous committee rooms and dingy back offices, their memoirs struggle to convey drama: long speeches are reproduced; debates over long-dead issues are reheated; readers yawn.

Then there is Benjamin Netanyahu’s autobiography, Bibi: My Story, which, as I realized around page 200, is not a politician’s autobiography at all, but an adventure story dressed up as one. It is a Tom Clancy novel written for a Tom Cruise movie adaptation, posing as a normal politician’s memoir. Yes, it has the photo of the author on the front cover and the requisite subtitle and the necessary width of a political memoir, but inside it is entirely different. Besides being a blood-and-guts page-turner more reminiscent of a film script than of the memoirs of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, it also deserves a place as one of history’s great Zionist texts.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to work out the essential truth about what drives Netanyahu: despite his achievements and longevity in office in the infamously tough bearpit of Israeli politics, he considers himself to be only the third most impressive member of his immediate family. For here is a man who is acutely conscious of having constantly to live up to the extremely high expectations of his father, Benzion, and brother Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu. Since both are dead, they cannot tell him whether he has succeeded or not. . . . The last time that I have encountered such filial piety in a book was in Winston Churchill’s two-volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who arguably did not deserve it, having been a beast to his son.
Brown University project is digitizing 10,000 ancient Israel inscriptions
A 1,500 to 2,100-year-old Hebrew text from Jerusalem refers to “Shalom, mother of the synagogue.” And two burial niche inscriptions from Beit She’arim in the Galilee, both dated 250 to 350 C.E., refer in Greek to “Sara daughter of Nehemiah, mother of the priestess, the lady Maria.”

“These inscriptions tend to provide little detail, so it is hard to know what to make of some of them,” Michael Satlow, professor of Judaic studies and religious studies at Brown University, told JNS. “What on earth it meant for a woman to be a priestess of a synagogue, for instance, is very unclear.” There is no male equivalent, of which Satlow is aware, of “mother of the synagogue,” he added.

The three are among some 5,250 already digitized texts and their translations documented in the Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine project, which Satlow directs. The project, which began at the University of Virginia in 1996 and moved to Brown in 2002, aims to make 10,000 inscriptions from 500 BCE to 614 C.E. accessible online.

“Once deciphered, these inscriptions are then often published in specialized scholarly journals or excavation reports,” Satlow told JNS. “Only in recent decades have serious attempts been made to collect these inscriptions and make them more widely available.”

The inscriptions, written on durable materials like mosaics and stone, during the period that the project explores in Israel are largely in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Although composed by people many centuries ago, some things—like Jewish donors taking credit on synagogue walls—have remained the same.

“We have mosaics on the floors that confer blessings on a list of donors, for example, or a simple notice etched into a column that somebody ‘gave’ it, that is, donated the money for it,” Satlow said.
"US Treasury Mint to Produce Golda Meir Coin"
Lawmakers, business leaders and community leaders converged on Capitol Hill to launch the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Act directing the United States treasury mint a coin bearing the image of Israel’s first female Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir.

The initiative is spearheaded by Los Angeles based real estate developer and philanthropist Bobby Rechnitz. The real estate developer serves as chairman of the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Committee.

Passage of the Act which is being sponsored by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) in Congress and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the Senate, requires a two-thirds majority in both houses and provides an opportunity for American lawmakers to reaffirm their support for Israel.

Those who attended the event included Steve Cohen (D-TN), Darren Soto (D-FL), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Jasmine Crockett (D-TX), Keith Self (R-TX), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Alma Adams (D-NC), Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

“Golda Meir was the personification of the Israel-America relationship, raised in Milwaukee she paved her way to the Holy Land and became one of the founding mothers of Israel,” Rechnitz said in a statement.

“Golda smashed every single glass ceiling to become a role model for young women everywhere. She was a trailblazer for Zionism, equality, feminism and Tikkun Olam. At a time when we see so much political polarization in both countries, we should all be able to rally behind the legacy of Golda Meir as a symbol of unity and progress,” he added.

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