Friday, May 12, 2023

From Ian:

Israel at 75: A Conversation
by Liel Leibovitz, John Podhoretz, Dan Senor, Ben Shapiro, Meir Y. Soloveichik and Bret Stephens
This conversation took place over Zoom on April 27, 2023. Liel Leibovitz is a columnist for Tablet and wrote last month’s cover article, “The Return of Paganism.” John Podhoretz is the editor of COMMENTARY. Dan Senor is a member of COMMENTARY’s board of directors and the co-author of Start-Up Nation. Ben Shapiro is the author of The Right Side of History and host of The Ben Shapiro Show. Meir Y. Soloveichik is a rabbi and academic who writes the Jewish Commentary column in this magazine. Bret Stephens is a contributing editor to COMMENTARY and a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for the New York Times.

JOHN PODHORETZ: In 1948, the Jewish population of Palestine—just as it was about to become Israel—was 716,000. It is now 7.1 million, a tenfold increase, 75 years later. This very radical experiment that under almost preposterous circumstances, and horrible circumstances, was undertaken. Other experiments in the creation of new nations had taken place, of course, in the wake of World War I, and proved illusory or weak or incredibly destabilizing. The other great incepted nation of the 20th century was the Soviet Union. It lasted 74 years. Israel has made it to 75. Why did this experiment in nation-building succeed?

Meir Soloveichik: I can answer that question with Jeremiah 16:14: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.”

What Jeremiah was predicting is that there would come a time when the Jewish ingathering will be so beyond questioning that it will be seen as a providential miracle, or perhaps the providential miracle of Jewish faith. This is not, of course, to say that human initiative—indeed, genius—played no role in the founding of the Jewish state, or in the inception of the Zionist movement that was at the heart of the endeavor. But even with that in mind, what has occurred is so stupefying that something greater, someone greater, is revealed behind this series of events.

On a recent trip to Israel, I took the new high-speed train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. When I came back to New York, I took out my train ticket and saw the words in Hebrew: Rakevet Israel, “Train of Israel.” And I suddenly remembered The Jewish State, Theodor Herzl’s 1896 pamphlet. His idea of that state seemed fantastical at the time, but Herzl spoke as though it could absolutely come into existence again. But in the section where he discusses what language the residents of the Jewish state will be speaking, he writes that, of course, they’re not going to speak Hebrew. He says it will be akin to Switzerland, where everyone, he says, will speak their own language and miss the country of their origin. That Hebrew train ticket means that Israel has exceeded even Herzl’s most incredible imaginings.

Liel Leibovitz: Since Solly dropped the H bomb and invoked Herzl, I want to offer one of my favorite thought experiments. We’re now 152 years after the Risorgimento, which unified the Italian city-states. Today, if you were to walk the streets of Napoli and ask any Italian if they consider themselves a Garibaldist, they will look at you as if you’d just fallen from the sky. What was once a national movement to kind of create a homeland for a group of people who could define themselves as Italians achieved its goal a century and a half ago and vanished. But here we all are speaking of ourselves as Zionists, which many people are taught was some kind of 19th-century national movement to rebuild the Jewish homeland for the Jews for reasons of safety and to protect us against anti-Semitism. I think it is becoming increasingly clear that the Israeli story really makes very little sense independently of the Jewish story. And seen as such, it is simply the fruition of the ancient, theological, emotional, philosophical, historical story of the Jewish people. This is not to downplay the tremendous ingenuity, courage, sacrifice, and valor of people who did so much and gave so much for this to become a reality.
Declaring Independence, 75 Years Later
Amid the sturm und Drang surrounding the judicial reform proposals put forward by the new Israeli government, which many have called a “constitutional crisis,” the words of the Jewish state’s former attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, were especially telling. In decrying the proposed reforms and what would happen if they take effect, Mandelblit said, “What remains of the Declaration of Independence? It will just become a piece of paper we can throw in the trash.” Mandelblit’s reference to Israel’s Declaration of Independence sent me back to the text itself in search of answers. Just as I had remembered from my Zionist upbringing, which included regularly listening to David Ben-Gurion’s famous reading of the Declaration on May 15, 1948, Israel actually has no constitution, despite the fact that the Declaration promises one in the future.

A fascinating new book by Neil Rogachevsky and Dov Zigler tells the story of the writing of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and offers some insights into why, 75 years after its founding, Israel still has no written constitution. Israel’s Declaration of Independence offers readers a ringside seat. As in any good story, there is a hero, in this case David Ben-Gurion. Rogachevsky and Zigler tell the stirring story of how Israel’s first prime minister wrestled with earlier drafts of the Declaration in the final hours before he declared Israel’s statehood and, mediating among competing Zionist ideologies, put his own indelible imprint on the final document.

The book builds on the work of Yoram Shachar, who discovered the earliest draft of the Declaration, written in late April 1948 by a young government lawyer named Mordechai Beham. Rogachevsky and Zigler carefully trace the development of the Declaration from Beham’s draft through subsequent versions hastily composed by Tzvi Berenson, Herschel Lauterpacht, Moshe Shertok, and finally Ben-Gurion during the frenzied days before the British Mandate ended. Taken as a whole, the various versions offer readers a tour of the diverse and often competing political philosophies that framed the modern Zionist movement.
Debunking the claim that Israel is a ‘settler-colonial project’
One integral part of the settler-colonial claim is the argument that, unlike Arabs, Jews are not indigenous to Palestine. But that turns history on its head. Jews populated Palestine at least a millennium before the advent of Islam and the subsequent Arab conquest. They have lived there continuously ever since.

Moreover, a report by Moshe Aumann, Land Ownership in Palestine, 1880-1948, shows that Palestinian Arabs are not as indigenous or historically connected to the land as people like Khalidi would have us believe. Aumann cites studies showing that most Palestinian Arabs are the descendants of immigrants from other countries who arrived after 1882. That included large-scale Arab immigration into Palestine between the two world wars. The main cause of that immigration was “Jewish development, which created new and attractive work opportunities and, in general, a standard of living previously unknown in the Middle East.”

Aumann concludes: “The constant influx of non-Palestinian elements, Arab and non-Arab, even before 1882 and certainly after that date, puts an entirely different complexion on the alleged and largely assumed ‘antiquity’ of the Arab element in the Palestinian population.”

But the biggest problem with the settler-colonial argument is this: At least half the Jewish population of Israel is made up of Mizrahim, whose families were expelled from Arab countries before and right after the founding of Israel. They are non-European and just as indigenous to the Middle East as any Arab.

Lyn Julius details the history of those expulsions in her seminal book, Uprooted. She writes that “after the Second World War, Arab states passed Nuremberg-style laws to undertake the wholesale eviction of their Jewish citizens and the theft of their property.” Hundred of thousands of Jews were then expelled from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. In every one of those countries, the Jewish community predated the Arab conquest by centuries.

Altogether, 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries. More than half a million fled to Israel. Those expulsions were largely inspired by the anti-Semitism of the Nazi collaborator and propagandist Amin Al Husseini who, at the time, was the leader of the Palestinian national movement. Thus, Arabs are hardly in a position to complain that Mizrahim sought refuge in Israel or to claim that Mizrachi immigration to Palestine was a settler-colonial project.

The history of the Jews in the Middle East is still not widely known. As Julius notes, “the story of the forgotten Jewish refugees is invariably omitted from Western coverage of the Israeli-Arab (or more commonly, Israeli-Palestinian) conflict.” Moreover, “Propagandists eagerly exploit this ignorance to perpetuate the lie that Israeli Jews are all from Europe and America.”

Khalidi is a good example. In The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, he mentions Mizrahim twice, very briefly, referring only to those who were indigenous to Palestine. He fails to acknowledge those who were refugees from Arab countries. That lets him maintain the falsehood that Israel is a European-style, settler-colonial project. It also helps him avoid the fact that half the “colonists” in Israel are there because of Arab anti-Semitism.

That’s not historical analysis. It’s intellectual dishonesty.

Melanie Phillips: ‘The great fight for the West in an age of unreason’
The power of symbols and national traditions was on display in Britain last week with King Charles III’s coronation and JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin noted that it had significance for more than just that monarchy. The way the ceremony linked that country’s present to its faith and history is meaningful at a time of an ongoing leftist war on Western civilization. While Americans don’t need or want a king, the coronation was a reminder that the effort to preserve national identity and a unified culture rooted in the great achievements of the West shouldn’t be considered a lost cause.

Tobin was then joined by British journalist and JNS columnist Melanie Phillips who pointed out that while the jury is out on whether King Charles will play a productive role in the “great fight for Western civilization that Britain like America is now engaged in,” the coronation did embody the traditions that are worth preserving.

Phillips describes the current assault on the West that seeks to overturn traditional morality and values, and replace it with racialist bigotry as a rerun of the past. “We’re in a kind of French revolution going backwards,” said Phillips. “Instead of the age of reason, we are living through a revolution to impose the age of unreason.”

While noting that the antisemitic British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had been replaced by Keir Starmer, Phillips was not sanguine about the battle against antisemitism in Britain because of the way the country’s liberal elites have accepted woke ideology. Antisemitic incitement and violence continue. Britain’s Jewish community is willing to speak up against Corbyn but fails to do so against the ongoing threat from Islamist Jew-hatred.

Seth Mandel: Campus Diversity Is Campus Jew-Hatred
What can be done? First of all, DEI cannot be fixed. It cannot be made to accommodate Jews—because Jews are its scapegoat. It’s the oldest story in the world. Throughout Jewish history, the answer has never been “bring in more Cossacks.” Jews on campus know this. A Texas report on anti-Semitism prepared for the state legislature surveyed Jewish faculty on their experiences and polled them on possible solutions. Among its conclusions: “None of the respondents believed that ‘hiring more DEI officials’ would have a positive impact on the campus climate for Jewish students.”

The conservative political backlash against DEI has revealed, however, that officials are not powerless to stop its march. Florida Gover-nor Ron DeSantis has moved to defund all DEI programs at state schools and ban so-called diversity statements in hiring. In Texas, the state Senate’s education committee has advanced a bill aimed at dismantling DEI at public colleges. At the very least, officials can and should limit DEI’s growth by requiring that the number of DEI staffers correlates with the size of the student body. Because DEI bureaucracies are administrative and not educational, reining them in doesn’t violate anyone’s academic freedom.

When it comes to advocating for DEI abolition, Jewish groups should be the loudest voices in the room. This will force them to choose between progressivism and their fellow Jews, and it will be useful to know which ones pass this test and which ones fail it.

Pushing Jews out of “their” schools has always been near the top of anti-Semites’ wish list. Combined with boycotts, these are the two favored tactics of those who wish to see Jews swept to the social and economic fringes of society. And the (successful) pressure to hide their Jewishness continues the long tradition of coaxing Jews into participating in their own erasure.

The administrators, educators, and bureaucrats at America’s colleges and universities are to blame for this state of affairs. And they should be held accountable for it.
UNRWA: A neutral agency or a political tool to attack Israel? - opinion
As a UN humanitarian agency, UNRWA is bound by humanitarian principles, which include humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. This means that UNRWA cannot take sides in political controversies and its work should be autonomous from the political objectives of the population it serves.

When Palestinians consider UNRWA to be their witness and political advocate in the international arena and when UNRWA caves into pressure from the people it serves to reverse a legitimate disciplinary action, UNRWA ceases to be a humanitarian agency and becomes instead a political advocacy tool for the Palestinians.

The United States is UNRWA’s top donor, contributing $340 million (NIS 1.2 billion) annually. When President Joe Biden resumed funding the agency, his administration insisted that UNRWA was committed to neutrality, meaning zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, and antisemitism.

The case of Riad Mustafa Nimr raises serious questions, not only about whether UNRWA is committed to neutrality but also about whether it is even capable of serving as a neutral and independent humanitarian agency. This should be a matter of utmost concern to US taxpayers.

To its credit, Congress has taken up this issue, including in bipartisan legislation that would create new State Department reporting to prevent US tax dollars from funding incitement and antisemitic content at UNRWA, as well as bills now pending in both the House and Senate to cut funding to the agency.

Donors like the US who seek to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need must ensure that their principles are not compromised in the process. They must demand accountability and compliance with international humanitarian standards.
Congressional Democrats Greet Anti-Israel Slurs with a Shrug
last week, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, freshly returned from a trip to Israel, used his authority to prevent his colleague Rashida Tlaib from holding an event lamenting the creation of Jewish state. Tlaib, however, was able to commemorate “Nakba Day” in the Senate side of the Capitol on Tuesday, thanks to the intervention of Bernie Sanders. Thus attendees could witness the spectacle of the congresswoman declaring, “No child should ever have to worry what will fall from the sky,” as—in the words of Lahav Harkov—“children across Israel’s south slept in safe rooms to protect themselves from rockets shot by Palestinian terrorists.” Noah Rothman comments:

Sanders can host whatever meetings he likes as chair of the Senate Labor Committee, and even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer couldn’t stop him. But he could have objected to the display if the avowed defender of Zionism found it objectionable. Schumer’s office has yet to issue any statement about this display, though a source close to the senator told the New York Post that he was caught off guard by the event. Indeed, among Senate Democrats, so far only the Nevada senator Jacky Rosen condemned the event, calling it “deeply offensive,” a distortion of the history around Israel’s founding, and a rejection of America’s support for Israel’s right to exist.

Even Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO who is congenitally loath to associate himself with a cause or position that might be confused with a conservative point of view, savaged Tlaib and her abettors. It is “disgraceful that Senator Sanders allowed this event by Rep. Rashida to be held in our nation’s Capitol,” Greenblatt said. He added that a conversation around “a path to peace” in the Middle East could not be had with people who “espouse anti-Semitism,” and he called on the U.S. Senate to condemn the event.

Greenblatt shouldn’t hold his breath. But the press should pull on the thread he has exposed. Will Democrats in Congress and the White House continue to have it both ways—professing their unwavering support for Israel’s right to self-defense while shrugging their shoulders over the commandeering of their property to broadcast [attacks] against Israel’s very existence? They will so long as political media is inclined to look the other way. Sadly, it’s likely that reporters will continue to avert their eyes rather than confront Senate Democrats with yet another grotesque embarrassment that Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib have engineered for their party.
New resolution championed by Tlaib calls for Biden to apply genocide prevention law to Israel
On the same day that she hosted a controversial “Nakba Day” event on Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also introduced a resolution that would ask the Biden administration to target Israel with a law aimed at preventing genocides and other major atrocities.

Tlaib, joined by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO) introduced a resolution seeking to recognize the Nakba, the Arabic term — translating to “catastrophe” — that Palestinians use to describe the founding of the State of Israel.

The legislation includes a provision asking that the administration apply the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 to “the treatment of Palestinians by Israel (both state and nonstate actors),” and provide support and protection for civil society and human rights groups “working to monitor, document, prevent, and respond to atrocities.”

The Elie Wiesel Act requires the Department of State to provide specialized training for foreign service officers “who will be assigned to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities,” including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as provide an annual strategy and report to Congress on efforts to prevent atrocities in such countries.

The resolution also accuses Israeli officials of “increasingly threatening a second Nakba,” asserts a right of return for Palestinian refugees and states that “the United States is complicit in Israel’s ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people by providing Israel with weapons and diplomatic support.”

It calls for restrictions on the use of military aid to Israel, an end to U.S. diplomatic support for the destruction of Palestinian homes or forcible relocation of Palestinians and for the U.S. to “refrain from building any diplomatic facility on land expropriated by Israel.” Tlaib and McCollum have previously expressed concerns about the planned construction site for a new U.S. embassy building in Jerusalem.

Two pro-Israel Democrats, Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Dean Phillips (D-MN), told Jewish Insider on Thursday that they had not seen the legislation, but reacted with bewilderment to the Elie Wiesel Act provision.
Schumer and Senate Dems Give Rashida Tlaib Platform for Anti-Semitic Event Mourning Israel's Creation After McCarthy Thwarts Plans
After House leadership blocked Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) from headlining an anti-Semitic gathering, she was thrown a lifeline by Senate Democrats, who hosted her Wednesday evening to mourn Israel's creation.

The Michigan "Squad" member was given space for the event by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who welcomed Tlaib and a crew of anti-Israel advocacy groups to take over a Senate committee room. The move came after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) intervened late Tuesday to stop Tlaib from headlining the anti-Semitic gathering in a Capitol Visitors Center auditorium, where he instead held an event celebrating the 75th year of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

"Let the headlines read ‘McCarthy tries to erase Palestine but fails,’" Tlaib boasted about the event on Twitter Wednesday night.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) was silent Wednesday evening, and although a source close to him told the New York Post he was "totally unaware" that the event would be hosted on the Senate side of the Capitol, his office failed to respond to multiple Washington Free Beacon requests for comment that were sent on Monday and Wednesday informing him of Tlaib's plans. Also unaware was Sanders's Republican counterpart on the committee that hosted Tlaib, adding new drama to a controversy that has been brewing on the Hill since the Free Beacon first reported Monday on the event.

"I wholeheartedly disapprove of the Majority permitting the use of the HELP Committee room for this divisive event," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R., La.), the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s ranking member, said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. "The Capitol Grounds should not be used as a pedestal to legitimize anti-Semitic bigotry."

Citing Concerns Over Antisemitism, Berlin Police Ban Palestinian ‘Nakba Day’ Demonstrations
Police in Berlin have banned two pro-Palestinian demonstrations set for the weekend, citing concerns about antisemitic agitation as the reason.

The demonstrations, on both Saturday and Sunday, had been billed as a protest to mark the 75th anniversary of the “Nakba” — the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that is used by many Palestinians to describe the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948. Police have yet to make a decision on whether to permit a third demonstration on May 20, which organizers have said is a protest “for the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and expression on the 75th anniversary of the Nakba.”

The bans come on top of the decision by police in the German capital to prevent several pro-Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks because of the likelihood that antisemitic tropes would be on display, the Tagesspiegel news outlet reported on Friday. Last month, police launched an investigation after a cries of “Death to the Jews” were heard at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood.

Antisemitic incidents have risen steadily in Germany over the past decade, with many attacks involving young Muslims assaulting Jews or chanting antisemitic slogans during protests ostensibly directed against Israel. During the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza during May 2021, more than 200 antisemitic outrages were reported.

Samuel Salzborn, Berlin’s antisemitism commissioner, on Friday defended the ban, arguing that it was warranted by the open display of antisemitism at past demonstrations.

“At these types of rallies we see a major escalation of antisemitism, from glorification of violence and calls for violence to actual physical violence against police officers and journalists,” Salzborn told the Judische Allgemeine news outlet.
Palestinian historical revisionism: Shock and deception - opinion
The first is historical. Its objective is to establish Palestinian provenance in the land while simultaneously denying or erasing Jewish history. It amounts to no less than authoring a fictional version of the past.

Thus, the Palestinian narrative claims:
Palestinian national identity is thousands of years old
Jesus was a Palestinian and Moses was a Muslim
Palestine was always verdant and fertile while under Arab hegemony
The First and Second Temples in Jerusalem never existed, or alternatively, they were mosques.

TO THESE are added many other fabrications that are aimed at impugning modern Israel by claiming it is a society lacking moral values and is the source of all Palestinian failure and suffering.

Zionists invaded Palestine with the forethought of expelling all Arabs in order to establish Israel
The Jews are responsible for the “Nakba,” the Arabic term for the “Tragedy of 1948,” referring to the exile of over a half-million Arabs from their homes and land during Israel’s defensive war for independence
Israel continuously builds new or expands illegal Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, appropriating Palestinian land to do so, sometimes destroying Palestinian villages and expelling their residents
Israel continues to steal water from under the ground belonging to the Palestinians and provides it to Jewish settlers and IDF bases located in the occupied West Bank
The IDF systemically raids Palestinian villages and abuses Palestinian minors solely to sow intimidation and fear During the recent COVID epidemic, Israel cruelly denied Palestinians access to the vaccine.

None of the above is true.

The Palestinian narrative, based on both shocking words and deceptive information, has been aggressively promoted throughout many years in countless live settings via traditional electronic media (television and radio) and in print. However, the advent of social media has exponentially empowered its impact.

The effect of this rhetoric, particularly upon the minds of well-meaning but otherwise uninformed Western liberals, is quite potent. Advocates of the Palestinian narrative learned long ago, the key to accruing supporters is to start with the heart and the brain will follow.

They say whatever must be said to secure people’s emotions and make it sound self-evident and once they’ve captured people’s hearts, fact-checking is rendered immaterial as each side of an argument offers it own facts. The same principle enabled Hitler’s infamous big lie about the Jews, as well as Stalin’s propaganda about the inevitable fall of capitalism.

According to the Palestinians, it was they, not the Zionists, who made the desert bloom. And of course, no human being ever walked on the surface of the moon.
Let’s focus on who abuses Palestinian human rights
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also regularly pillories Israel and devotes scant attention to the abuses by Palestinians. It did report that “Hamas authorities executed five Palestinians, including two men accused of ‘collaboration’ with Israel, following trials marred by due process violations.” HRW noted that no one has been held accountable for the 2021 murder by P.A. security forces of Abbas critic Nizar Banat. It also mentions discrimination against women and the P.A.’s failure to “prevent abuse and protect survivors.”

That’s about it from the two best-known human-rights organizations. Not a word about terrorism.

Neither Amnesty nor HRW mentioned the treatment of Palestinians in their profiles of Lebanon and Syria.

The State Department report on Lebanon does mention that “nonstate armed groups, including Hizballah and Palestinian militias, operated with relative impunity, using intimidation, harassment and occasionally violence against perceived critics and opponents.” Palestinian refugees cannot obtain Lebanese citizenship, are prohibited from purchasing or inheriting property, and are barred from working in 39 skilled professions, including medicine, law and engineering. It does not elaborate on how Palestinians are treated as second-class residents, such as being denied free treatment at hospitals and barred from most public schools. Al Jazeera headlined a story on the situation: “Palestinians in Lebanon: ‘It’s like living in a prison.’ ”

State’s report on Syria said that “regime and opposition forces reportedly besieged, shelled and otherwise made inaccessible some Palestinian refugee camps, neighborhoods and sites, which resulted in severe malnutrition, lack of access to medical care and humanitarian assistance, and civilian deaths.” It said that “the Action Group of Palestinians of Syria reported that regime forces tortured 638 Palestinians, including children.” It does not mention the hundreds of Palestinians detained by Assad’s security forces, tortured in regime prisons or killed while incarcerated.

Yes, it is possible to be pro-Israel and want to see an end to human-rights abuses against Palestinians. It is more common, however, that people concerned with these abuses are anti-Israel and not interested in any abuse they cannot blame, accurately or not, on Israel.
International Legal Forum calls to revoke Mohammed El-Kurd's peace prize
A group of lawyers and activists, led by Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO, and Nadav Steinman, Chairman, of the International Legal Forum (ILF), have called on Mt. Royal University to revoke the Calgary Peace Prize to Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian poet, writer, and activist.

El-Kurd is best known for his role in the #SaveSheikhJarrah movement, which protested the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in east Jerusalem. El-Kurd has also been a vocal critic of Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

He has been accused of antisemitism by some critics, who point to his use of antisemitic tropes and his praise for Palestinian terrorists. However, El-Kurd has denied these accusations, saying that he is simply fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people.

The ILF's letter to the university's chancellor cites a number of examples of El-Kurd's alleged antisemitic statements, including calling Zionists "sadistic barbaric neonazi pigs" and saying that Israelis "have completely internalized the ways of the Nazis."

The ILF also points to El-Kurd's recent social media posts, in which he praised the Palestinian terrorists who murdered three Israeli women in the Jordan Valley last month.

"In view of the fact the Calgary Peace Prize is awarded under the auspices of the Mt. Royal University, we call on the University leadership to immediately revoke the awarding of this honor to Mr. El-Kurd, and disassociate itself from the prize," the letter said.
Mount Royal University Tries To Disassociate Itself With “Peace Prize” Awarded To Notorious Antisemite and Anti-Israel Detractor, Mohammed El-Kurd, Following HRC’s Efforts
According to its official flyer (emblazoned with MRU’s official logo) the prize recognizes El-Kurd “for his exemplary contribution toward peace and justice in the struggle for a more humane, dignified, and free life for oppressed people in Palestine and beyond.”

Following HonestReporting Canada’s complaint sent to MRU and our April 26 alert which raised public awareness about El-Kurd, and which mobilized close to 1,000 complaints being sent directly to the University expressing opposition to the institution’s involvement in awarding a peace prize to an individual with an extensive history of spreading hateful messages on social media, Mount Royal University has responded to our complaint in the wake of the widespread backlash and has tried to distance and disassociate itself from the award and attempted to downplay the University’s involvement.

In a letter sent to HonestReporting Canada on May 10, Timothy Rahilly, President and Vice-Chancellor at MRU, wrote that:
In response to HRC’s alert regarding the Calgary Peace Prize, we wish to clarify that the Calgary Peace Prize is not an initiative of Mount Royal University, but rather an independent initiative of a faculty member. In order to make this more clear, Calgary Peace Prize content no longer resides on MRU’s website.

Views expressed through academic initiatives and events hosted and led by faculty members do not represent the views of Mount Royal University. University faculty members are entitled to the academic freedom to engage in research, teaching and discussion without institutional censorship.

Mount Royal University is committed to serve as an inclusive forum for respectful debate to advance knowledge and understanding, and denounces hate speech and antisemitism in all of its forms. This is reflected in our 40-plus year commitment to supporting and hosting the annual Holocaust Education Symposium on our campus. We will continue to listen, learn and actively engage with the Jewish community as we move forward.

Thank you for reaching out to us for further information on this.

Timothy Rahilly, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Royal University
While it’s a positive development that Mount Royal University is now trying to disassociate themselves from the award as a result of HonestReporting Canada’s alert and widespread public scrutiny, evidence strongly suggests that the school was involved in the giving of this prize and past awards. For instance, the flyer for the 2023 Calgary Peace Prize prominently displays the logo of Mount Royal University, and the school’s website still links directly to the prize. On the website for the previous Calgary Peace Prize winner in 2022 (which has since been removed), the page made clear that “Mount Royal University will recognize…” leaving no doubt as to which party was offering the honour.
Suspended ex-Labour council leader is still proudly campaigning for the party
A Labour council leader accused of antisemitism was at the forefront of campaigning at last week’s local elections despite his suspension from the party.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal was leader of the Labour group on Pendle Council in Lancashire until he was suspended last year after he implied that Israel was comparable to Nazi Germany in a town hall speech.

However, despite his continued suspension, photographs showed Iqbal taking part in canvassing with Labour candidates during last week’s council elections.

In an alleged breach of party rules, pictures also showed him sitting outside a polling station tallying votes wearing a Labour rosette, and at the election count, where he posed alongside Labour figures, including Cllr Azhar Ali, the leader Lancashire Labour group and a former parliamentary candidate.

Party sources said his suspension remained in force pending a decision on his future by its complaints board.

A spokesman for the Jewish Labour Movement criticised Iqbal’s continued involvement, suggesting it broke party rules which prevents suspended members from “represent[ing] the party at any level”.

The spokesman said: “If he has taken part in campaigning then it is likely that he will have broken the rules of his suspension and this will be added onto the charge sheet when his case is heard. All parts of the party must be with us and Keir Starmer in destroying this toxic legacy of antisemitism from our party.”

A spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism also questioned his involvement. They said: “If those suspended are allowed to continue as if the suspension does not exist, then it makes a mockery of the process.

“If the community is to continue trusting in Starmer’s commitment to rooting out antisemitism, then this situation must be investigated so it cannot happen again. There is no point in suspension if it means ‘business as usual’.”

US Government Investigating George Washington University for Alleged Anti-Palestinian Discrimination
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened a first of its kind investigation of alleged anti-Palestinian discrimination at George Washington University, a pro-Palestinian nonprofit announced on Thursday.

“This is an important step that shows OCR is taking anti-Palestinian discrimination seriously,” Radhika Sainath of Palestine Legal, which filed the complaint that prompted the government’s inquiry, said in a press release. “Even if pro-Israel groups don’t like it and complain, the law is clear — Palestinian students are entitled to the same educational opportunities and services as other students.”

Palestine Legal said OCR will examine allegations that Palestinian students, as well as those perceived as being Palestinian, could not access mental health services, came under the scrutiny of campus police more frequently than other groups, had to defend themselves against “months-long” disciplinary proceedings, and endured racist comments.

The investigation is the second launched against George Washington University in a little over a month.

OCR is also probing a complaint, filed by educational nonprofit StandWithUs (SWU), alleging that the university allowed antisemitic abuse of Jewish students, refusing to intervene when Psychology Professor Lara Sheehi, who teaches a mandatory diversity course, invited an antisemitic speaker to address her class for a “brown bag lunch,” launched a smear campaign against Jewish students, and filed disciplinary charges against them in retaliation for their accusing hear of antisemitism.
‘No Form of Hatred is So Apparent and Yet So Denied’: New Book Analyzes Seven ‘Deadly Myths’ Fueling Antisemitism Worldwide
A book published on Tuesday traces the origins of antisemitism to present day and examines the most dangerous conspiracy theories and falsehoods used to inspire antisemitic attacks around the world.

The 7 Deadly Myths: Antisemitism from the Time of Christ to Kanye West is written by Alex Ryvchin, co-chief executive officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. The title of each chapter corresponds with a different untruth about Jews that is addressed in the book: blood libels, christ-killers, global domination, superiority for being the “chosen people,” obsession with money, dual loyalties and people turning from being the oppressed to oppressors. Each “deadly myth” is examined in terms of their origination and evolution, who started them and how they spread over time.

The book also details events — historic and present day — related to the development of antisemitism and how it continues to flourish, inspiring pop stars, athletes and others today. Ryvchin aims to show how some variation of these myths are behind every antisemitic attack that has taken place in history and the the book includes examples of such incidents, including the 2006 murder of Ilam Halimi in Paris, the rant against Jews last year done by rapper Ye (also know as Kanye West) and basketball player Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic film.

“I wanted to show that Kanye West’s campaign against the Jews was not the product of mental breakdown or the ranting of a wealthy eccentric,” Ryvchin told The Algemeiner. “He was invoking every antisemitic conspiracy theory — Jewish money, Jewish power, Jewish filth and pornography [and] Jewish enslavement of Blacks. Only by tracing these theories to their origins, showing how they work and how they manifest today can antisemitism lose its power and its hold on society.”

Ryvchin said confronting and educating the world about antisemitism was a personal mission of his.

Born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1987, his family fled the former Soviet Union when he was a child. Antisemitism, he said, was always a “looming dread” for his parents and grandparents, who had “a tendency to experience joy only while waiting for the next disaster; fear that seemed to always lurk in the eyes.”

The End Jew Hatred Movement is spreading across the country — and sparking controversy
Last month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Jewish Democrat, proclaimed April 29 “End Jew Hatred Day,” citing “an urgent need to act against antisemitism in Colorado and across the country.”

Similar proclamations came from New York Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican, and dozens of other elected officials nationwide.

But in the New York City Council, an identical effort proved controversial. While the overwhelmingly Democratic council approved April 29 as End Jew Hatred Day annually, six council members either abstained from or voted against what organizers had intended to be an unanimous decision.

The initiative behind the proclamations, called the End Jew Hatred Movement, is a relatively new presence based in New York City that is increasingly making its voice known nationally — through rallies, petitions, a relentless press campaign and now in the halls of government. One measure that demonstrates the initiative’s growth is the number of April 29 proclamations. Last year, there were a handful. This year, according to End Jew Hatred, there were 30.

The movement also provided the spark for the unexpected opposition in the New York City Council. Lawmakers who did not support the proclamation said they demurred because the End Jew Hatred Movement, while run by people who say they “set aside politics and ideology,” has been associated with right-wing Jewish activists.

End Jew Hatred doesn’t publicize much about its structure or funding. It is not a registered nonprofit organization, and would not tell the New York Jewish Week its annual budget or how it receives donations.

Its backers call it an unapologetic voice that’s fighting a growing problem, antisemitism, while its critics say it is an attempt to inject hawkish rhetoric into a national effort to combat anti-Jewish persecution. Amid that debate, the movement’s growth, and its successful spearheading of resolutions nationwide, show how an initiative founded by conservative activists has wielded influence in the conversation about antisemitism, even in liberal political spaces.

Here’s what we know about End Jew Hatred, how it’s establishing itself in New York City and beyond, and why its activities are drawing backlash.

A movement founded in the politics of 2020

Founded in New York City near the beginning of the pandemic, End Jew Hatred first drew local attention in October 2020, when it organized a rally in front of the New York Public Library protesting the way its activists said New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were unfairly targeting Orthodox New Yorkers with public health restrictions.

Haredi New Yorkers and their backers railed against the city’s regulations that year, and claimed that policies limiting group prayer and other religious ceremonies were selectively enforced against their communities.
41% increase in antisemitic incidents in a single year in California
While antisemitism rates have risen across the country in recent years, a new report from the Anti-Defamation League documents just how high of a jump California has seen.

In 2021, there were 367 antisemitic incidents. In 2022, the number rose to 518—a 41.8% increase. The ADL also saw six extremist-related murders and one terrorist plot. The organization identified Patriot Front and the Goyim Defense League as primarily responsible for a 91% increase in white supremacist flier distribution—rising from 155 to 296.

One of the most reported antisemitic events took place in October when the Goyim Defense League unfurled a banner over Interstate 405—one of Los Angeles’ most trafficked roads—that read “Kanye is right about the jews [sic].”

On overall hate crimes in California, the ADL cites the FBI to reveal an increase of 33% from 2000-21: from 1,330 incidents to 1,765. The report further shows increases in alliances between white supremacist and other extremist groups.

In the three categories of incidents, the majority was vandalism with 327, up from 217 the previous year. Harassment rose less, from 135 in 2021 to 178 in 2022. The smallest category—assaults—actually saw a decrease from 2021 (15) to 2022 (13).
New York governor announces $25 million in funding for hate crime prevention
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced $25 million in funding for organizations facing hate crimes, as Jews in New York City and the region contend with regular antisemitic incidents.

The funding will go to organizations serving communities at a high risk of hate crimes and vandalism, and will be used to fund security measures, training, public awareness campaigns and outreach measures.

The package will be available through the state budget for the 2024 financial year, and comes on top of $3.5 million in funding for the state’s newly-formed hate and bias prevention unit.

Hochul announced the funding at a New York City “unity summit” aimed at tackling hate crimes.

Speakers at the summit included former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Rabbi Moshe Hauer of the Orthodox Union, and an array of New York officials and faith leaders.

“There’s been an alarming spike in antisemitism, anti-Asian, anti-everything. The numbers are stunning. Attacks on our transgender neighbors, a troubling rise in white supremacists,” Hochul said.

“It’s the first time in our state’s history that we brought together elected leaders, survivors, community and faith leaders with one purpose, and that is to stand unified against hate,” Hochul said. “We outnumber the haters. There are so many more of us that we band together. There’s strength in the numbers and the certainty of the righteousness of our cause here.”
MEMRI: Egyptian Journalist: Jews Control Global Media, Are Responsible For Historical Distortion In Netflix Series 'Queen Cleopatra'
The Netflix docudrama series "Queen Cleopatra" recently sparked an uproar in Egypt because it stars a black actress in the role of Cleopatra. Many Egyptians, including officials and journalists, accused the series of "falsifying" Egyptian history by portraying Cleopatra as African when she was in fact Macedonian and therefore "light-skinned with Hellenic features."

Against this backdrop, senior journalist Refa'at Rashad published a column in the Al-Watan daily in which he blamed the Jews for the "historical distortion" in the series. Rashad claimed the Jews, who control the world media and culture, use films to entrench and advance their false stories, myths, and agendas, and that the series about Cleopatra will not be their last attempt to do so. He added that the Jews "invented propaganda," and that "the psychological influence of this satanic instrument enables them to control people's minds and turn nations into tools" that serve their purposes.

"Decades ago [in 1956], Hollywood produced the film The Ten Commandments, directed by the famous director Cecil DeMille. The film – which is about the period when the Jews were in Egypt during the era of the ancient Egyptians, or the Pharaonic era – caused quite a commotion at the time. I noticed that the film focuses on the brave deeds performed by the Jews while the leaders of Egypt infringe their rights or minimize their worth and their abilities. The film depicts the Jews as the ones who created the Egyptian culture and [implies] that, had it not been for their presence, this country would have had no value.

"When Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin visited Egypt, during the time of the [signing of] the peace agreement, he said, on a tour of the pyramids, that his forefathers were the ones who built them!! What was the message of this statement, uttered by Begin in front of the pyramids? Did the Jews [really]build the pyramids? During that period the Jews were slaves in Egypt, and some of them worked on Egypt's giant construction projects. [But] does that mean that they were the rulers of the country?! Of course not. But [that didn't] prevent the accumulation of stories and the myths about the Jewish presence in Egypt and their involvement in shaping life and culture [there]. [Nor did it prevent] the subsequent erasure of the Egyptians from [this] history, so as to turn the illustrious Pharaonic culture into something created by the Jews!

"In 1994, I was part of a delegation that visited in the U.S. for educational purposes, along with an excellent group of journalist colleagues. We saw the film Schindler's List, which Egypt had banned from the film festival in Cairo… The film is a highly professional [production]. It was long and included an intermission, and it was in exclusively in black and white, to convey the sense of the period in which the events took place, [namely] World War II, and the persecution of the Jews by the Germans and their execution in the gas chambers, and so on. Most of the people in the cinema not only cried as they watched it, they sobbed. The film [thus] achieved its purpose…

"The Jews invented propaganda, and the psychological impact of this satanic instrument enables them to control people's minds and turn nations into tools [that serve their purposes]. The Jews used this indirect propaganda to establish their state in Palestine, even before the fairytales of Russian and American propaganda began to appear… Even Goebbels did not yet exist then. Before all that, [Theodor] Herzl and his associates manipulated the mind of the world. They subjugated the British, who controlled the world and all of Europe at the time, in order to realize their dream of [establishing] the state of Israel.
Auschwitz museum criticizes ‘tasteless’ ice cream stand near iconic ‘Death Gate’
Commemoration professionals in Poland have criticized the opening of an ice cream stand just outside the museum on the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau former death camp.

The stand – its walls emblazoned with a drawing of an ice cream cone and a pink-colored logo reading “icelove” as well as the words “waffles” and “ice creams” – opened this month about 200 meters away from — and in plain view of — the iconic, red-brick Auschwitz II Historical Gate, also known in Poland as the “Death Gate,” with its double train tracks and overhead watch post.

A county official said that the stand had been erected without a permit and would be moved.

A spokesperson for the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum called the opening “an example not only of aesthetic tastelessness but also of disrespect for a nearby special historical site,” in an email to The Times of Israel.

“The trailer, however, stands outside the boundary of the protection zone of the Memorial designated by law, so unfortunately we have no influence over it. We trust that the relevant authorities will solve this embarrassing problem,” the spokesperson added.

Dagmar Kopijasz of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site Foundation, a foundation that commemorates World War II and Holocaust-related sites that are near the Auschwitz museum but are outside the museum’s territory or jurisdiction, told the Gazeta Krakowska newspaper that residents were “upset because it looks awful.”

Adidas says it will sell off Yeezy shoes and donate proceeds to those ‘hurt by Kanye’s statements’
The sportswear giant Adidas has decided to sell off its remaining inventory of sneakers from Kanye West’s Yeezy brand and donate the proceeds to charity.

The decision comes roughly seven months after Adidas cut ties with West in the face of mounting pressure due to his stream of antisemitic comments. Adidas’ sales of the rapper’s sneakers had accounted for 10% of the company’s annual revenue last year, or roughly $2 billion. That decision left Adidas with $1.3 billion of unsold Yeezy inventory in its possession.

During the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday in Germany, where Adidas is based, CEO Bjørn Gulden pledged that the money would go “to the organizations that are helping us and that were also hurt by Kanye’s statements.”

Gulden did not elaborate on which organizations the proceeds would be directed to, nor if any of them would go to Jewish or anti-hate groups. In response to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency request for comment, Adidas shared Gulden’s comments from the board meeting but did not say which charities it would be donating Yeezy sales to.

Jews were the target of West’s comments last fall. West, who now goes by Ye, promised to “go death con 3 on Jewish people,” professed admiration for Hitler and bragged that he could say antisemitic comments and Adidas would not drop him. In November, the rapper dined with former President Donald Trump and Nick Fuentes, a prominent antisemite, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Following his comments, statements such as “Kanye Was Right” became a rallying cry for antisemites. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 59 antisemitic incidents that took place from October 11 through the end of 2022 directly referenced West.
Israel high-tech and Korea industry groups sign accord on cybersecurity cooperation
The Israeli High-Tech Association this week signed an agreement with a Korean cybersecurity industry group aimed at fostering ties and encouraging business cooperation between cybersecurity and information security companies in both countries.

The memorandum of understanding was signed during a visit to Israel by a Korean delegation led by Dongbeom Lee, chairman of the Korea Information Security Industry Association (KISIA), in the presence of Marian Cohen, chairman of the Israel Hi-Tech Association and its CEO Maya Schwartz.

The Korean delegation consisted of representatives from Korean cybersecurity companies, including LG Electronics, Coontec, Secui, Darktracer and eNsecure. During their visit, they met with Israeli cybersecurity firms, including Claroty, Integrity, Waterfall Security Solutions, Embedded Solutions 3000 and Cyber 2.0.

Under the agreement, the industry associations will facilitate cooperation through mutual visits, seminars and business meetings between companies in both countries in light of the growing global threat of cyberattacks.

“Korea and Israel are similar in many areas,” said Lee. “It is easy for us to work with Israeli companies…and believe in extensive cooperation.”

“You have access to the American market we want to enter and we have access to Asian markets and we can be good partners for Israeli companies looking to penetrate these markets,” he added.
Scholars expound on Mount Ebal curse tablet with oldest Hebrew text
A lead tablet found at a site where millions of Jews and Christians believe the Israelite leader Joshua built an altar contains the oldest Hebrew text ever found in the Land of Israel as well as the name of God, an academic article published Friday concludes.

The peer review of the small 3,200-year-old curse tablet discovered at Mount Ebal in Samaria more than two years ago is expected to reignite the debate in the archaeological community over the find. It could prove the Israelites were literate at the time as well as shed light on the date of the Exodus from Egypt.

“The text … is the oldest Hebrew text found within the borders of ancient Israel … by at least two centuries,” the article published in Heritage Science states.

“The big point here is that we have evidence of Hebrew writing in Israel earlier than has previously been established, as well as mention of two of names of the Hebrew God, all from the site where the Bible said Joshua built an altar,” Scott Stripling, the provost at the Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas, who uncovered the tablet, said in a telephone interview with JNS.

The folded, 2×2-centimeter square lead tablet was found in December 2019, during an examination of discarded materials from an excavation at the site that had been led by University of Haifa Professor Adam Zertal (1936-2015) more than three decades earlier.

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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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