Thursday, June 08, 2023

06/08 Links Pt2: The hole in Biden’s antisemitism plan; Dershowitz Parts with Israeli Left for Using 'Extortion'; Meet Israel's Unofficial Arabic Language Spokesperson

From Ian:

The hole in Biden’s antisemitism plan
On May 25, the Biden administration published its much anticipated U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

It was much anticipated, in large part because of the alarming and well-documented rise in antisemitic attacks against American Jews and Jewish institutions. To the administration’s credit, this rise in antisemitic attacks led to the White House investing considerable resources to shape and create its 60-page National Strategy.

Before the plan was released, practically every mainstream Jewish organization had urged the White House to use the most accepted definition of antisemitism, adopted by numerous democratic governments and Jewish institutions around the world—the IHRA definition.

After all, it’s common sense that before one can solve a problem, one has to define it. Albert Einstein supposedly once said that if he were given an hour to solve a problem, he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.

The reason the IHRA definition is so important is that it captures how antisemitism has evolved over the last 100 years to include not only irrational xenophobic hatred for the Jew as an individual, but also for the Jews as a nation—that is, hatred of Israel and Zionism.

The late U.K. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks defined antisemitism as “Denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and early 20th century they were hated because of their race. Today, they are hated because of their nation state, the State of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: The view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.”

More importantly, Rabbi Sacks noted how the 21st century version of antisemitism has mutated in a way that allows haters to deny the hate: “The new antisemitism has mutated so that any practitioner of it can deny that he or she is an antisemite. After all, they’ll say, I’m not a racist. I have no problem with Jews or Judaism. I only have a problem with the State of Israel. But in a world of 56 Muslim nations and 103 Christian ones, there is only one Jewish state, Israel, which constitutes one-quarter of one per cent of the land mass of the Middle East. Israel is the only one of the 193 member nations of the United Nations that has its right to exist regularly challenged, with one state, Iran, and many, many other groups, committed to its destruction.”
America’s Most Israeli Politician
[Ted] Cruz’s political faith was forged at the knee of his father, Rafael. The elder Cruz was born in Matanzas, a shore town about 50 miles east of Havana. The name means “massacre,” a testament to a 1510 rebellion involving local fishermen drowning Spanish conquistadors in the bay, and the spirit of uprising was alive and well in Cruz senior. As a teenaged boy in the late 1950s, he was militating against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. He was a follower of Fidel Castro along with Che Guevara— the future dorm room icon of the third worldist politics that Ted Cruz would spend his days skewering on Twitter, the elitist social media website to which the senator is firmly addicted.

After a brief stint in jail, Rafael Cruz managed to obtain a student visa to study at the University of Texas. He came to America with $100 sewn into his underwear. He learned English from going to movies, which he could afford only by taking a string of dishwashing jobs. He also spoke passionately at every Rotary and Kiwanis club that would have him, convincing his new friends and neighbors to lend their ears and dollars to the Revolución. Later, he would make a point of revisiting all these same venues and apologizing, admitting that Castro’s regime was a hideous tyranny. The only way to oppose it, he now preached, was through faith and freedom, the twin pillars on which the United States of America was erected.

And not just the United States. Ted Cruz says he was kneeling in front of his TV set at the age of 5 when he saw the first reports of a daring raid halfway across the world: Israeli commandos had landed in Entebbe, Uganda, rescued 102 out of 106 civilians taken hostage by Palestinian and German terrorists, and eliminated all seven hijackers as well as more than 100 Ugandan soldiers assisting them before safely returning to Israel. The memory of the news bulletins he saw that day would stay with him for the rest of his life.

“To me, and this is a 5-year-old looking at it, what the Entebbe raid told me about Israel was that you may take Israeli citizens hostage, and if you do, those Israelis may lose their lives, but you’re gonna die,” the senator told me as we rolled down the highway together in the back of a pickup truck on a recent Sunday in his home state. “And to me, that was a very Texas foreign policy.”

As he grew up, Cruz maintained his passion for policy, conviction, and the ways they interact. He graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School—both times magna cum laude—and took off a few clerkship positions, including with Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In private practice, he was involved in preparing the case for Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and in the aftermath of the shambolic 2000 election, he helped assemble the Republican team to argue Bush v. Gore, for which he was rewarded with a handful of administration positions. In 2003, he became Texas’ solicitor general, and made national headlines for appearing before the Supreme Court and successfully defending the constitutionality of a monument depicting the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol.
Manipulating Israeli Public Opinion
The results of the survey indicate that the Israeli public has far greater trust in the Knesset -- by dozens of percentage points -- than it does in Israel's judiciary, from the Supreme Court down to the legal advisors and counselors who answer to the Supreme Court.

As almost always, the different answers are the result of differences built into the questions. The wording of the question posed in the Israel Democracy Institute survey referred to the "level of trust in the Knesset" while the "Direct Polls Trust Index" survey examined trust "in the members of the Knesset you elected."

[T]he purposefully phrased IDI survey was crafted to justify weakening the powers of the legislative branch and granting excessive powers to the judicial branch.

The way [the IDI's] question was worded regarding the public's trust in the Knesset ensured that the results would create the totally false impression that the public does not trust the members of the Knesset and favors the judges of the Supreme Court.

The relevant question, which is more closely reflected in the wording of the Direct Polls survey, is the level of the public's trust in the members of the Knesset chosen by them, and the results show that an absolute majority of the public trusts its elected representatives -- a fact that points to an extremely healthy parliamentary democracy.

These campaigns to undemocratically overturn the result of a free and fair election would surely have caught the eye of George Orwell -- especially as they were all conducted under the rallying cry of "protecting democracy."

Israel fails to make it to U-20 FIFA final, to play for top three
Israel’s run to the Under-20 World Cup final came to an end as the blue-and-white fell to Uruguay 1-0 in Argentina.

Anderson Duarte scored the lone goal of the game in the second half to punch Uruguay’s ticket to the championship match as Israel will play in the third place game on Sunday against the loser of the second semifinal between Italy and South Korea.

The Israel Under-20 team met Uruguay for a ticket to the World Cup Finals at the Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona in La Plata as head coach Ofir Haim’s squad looked to take yet another step towards immortality.

The last time the two nations have played a number of international friendlies over the years, but the last time they faced one another in an official FIFA match was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico when the Israeli squad fell 2-0.

Israel shocked the football-world
The blue-and-white had already stunned the footballing community world wide by making it to the semifinals of the competition after defeating Brazil 3-2 as they looked to head towards the title match.

Israel had advanced to the contest with “La Celeste” by winning three straight games against Japan, Uzbekistan and tournament favorites Brazil after having lost to Colombia and drawn with Senegal. Uruguay lost one game as well against England while winning all of their other four clashes including a 2-0 victory over the United States to ease into the semifinals.
Kamala-Cohen spat is overblown but indicates bigger US-Israel issues - analysis
The current government is quietly disagreeing with the Biden administration, for entirely different reasons. When Biden was first elected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to engage on the issue of talks with Iran at all, in order to highlight their illegitimacy. Ultimately, since his return to the Prime Minister’s Office, this has made him out to be someone not worth talking to about Iran. Plus, his 2015 strategy of using Congress for leverage is less realistic these days, when the Republican majority in the House is very narrow, the Senate is Democratic, and even the few Democrats Netanyahu was once able to peel away from supporting the Iran Deal now see things differently. Tension between US and Israel over judicial reforms

And then there’s the judicial reform. Cohen likes to say that the reform has not harmed Israel internationally at all. To some extent, he is right; there has been very little tangible change and most of the Western countries that grumble about the reform are ones that have always criticized Israel anyway. But some critics are key countries, like the US and Germany.

Cohen speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the phone with some regularity, Dermer and Hanegbi have flown to Washington repeatedly, and Ambassador Herzog is welcome in the White House. So we shouldn’t exaggerate the problem – but it can’t be ignored, either.

Biden refuses to meet Netanyahu because of the judicial reform, something that he made pretty clear by publicly giving a firm “no” to a White House visit for the Israeli premier in the context of questions about the reform.

A face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and Biden is not only important because the lack of one may be damaging to the former’s domestic image as an international relations wizard. Biden is one of the people most inclined to be skeptical about a deal with Iran in his administration. Though Biden meets with Herzog, and that is important, for Netanyahu to be able to directly convey the dangers of an interim deal for Israel is essential, and it’s not happening.While what Harris and Cohen said doesn’t matter all that much, it’s reflective of a bigger problem: that the disagreement over judicial reform is reverberating in other aspects of the US-Israel relationship.
The Caroline Glick Show: Dershowitz Parts with Israeli Left for Using 'Extortion'
Alan Dershowitz calls out the Israeli left, Simcha Rothman attacked, and demonstrations at the Prime Minister's home.

In her analysis of the events of the week, Caroline Glick discusses the rising level of violence and intimidation that has come to characterize the left’s attacks on members of Prime Minister Netanhyahu’s governing coalition, their supporters, and their voters. What does this mean for Israel and Israeli democracy? Caroline breaks it down.

Pinsker Centre: Ep. 33 – Paul Gross: the Israeli judicial reform
In our recent podcast episode, Mackenzie France interviewed Paul Gross, a Senior Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, discussing the judicial reform and its implications for Israel. Paul outlines and explains the four main proposals incorporated into the judicial reform, arguing that the reform aims to weaken the judiciary and change the governmental system of Israel.

Mackenzie and Paul further discuss whether Netanyahu’s support for the reform is ideological or pragmatic, and what benefits various coalition members hope to derive from it. Paul also noted that the judicial reform is hurting Israel’s reputation abroad, not only among the critics of Israel but also among her friends.
Decline in Israel Venture Capital Investment Is Unrelated to Judicial Reform Controversy
Israeli startups have never been stronger, more inventive, more dynamic, more sophisticated or more attractive. The recent downturn in venture capital investment in Israel mirrors the declines across the globe. In the U.S., venture funding fell by 40%. European venture investment was down by 75% and Asian VC investment declined by 70%. The doomsayers can't blame judicial reform for investment declines in China, Korea, Finland, and Germany.

While Moody's credit rating agency downgraded Israel's outlook from "positive" to "stable," never once in recorded history has the alleged creditworthiness of a country entered into an investment committee discussion about a particular startup.

The reason for the global decline in venture capital investment is related to the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates from 0% to 5% in the space of a year. When interest rates collapsed to near zero in response to the global economic crisis of 2008, investors plowed funds into riskier high-tech ventures. Suddenly, U.S. bonds once again produce beautiful returns. It's only natural that investors would look to reallocate a lot of their money into safer, liquid assets like U.S. government bonds instead.
Meet Israel's Unofficial Arabic Language Spokesperson
Beirut-born Dr. Edy Cohen, who lived there until age 19, has more than 550,000 followers on Arabic-language Twitter.

"Because I'm a native son of Lebanon, from the Jewish community in Beirut, and my mother tongue is Arabic, I'm kind of one of them. More or less. Other than religion. I understand them. I understand the mentality."

"I'm the only Israeli Jew with so many followers in the Arab world."

I interviewed Cohen shortly after the conflict in April at the Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan.

Speaking to more than 9,000 people directly on Twitter Spaces on the days following, he explained, "I sent them proof of the 1994 Peace Agreement between Jordan and Israel governing conduct and access to the Al Aqsa compound, and more."

"I showed them Article 9 of the Agreement, where it is clearly written that Israelis and Jordanians are permitted to access the holy sites on the Temple Mount."

This agreement was a watershed recognition by an Arab leader that the al Aqsa compound is also important to Jews.

When he explained this fact to his listeners, "They were in shock. They didn't know that there's an agreement between Israel and the Jordanians; that all Israelis...are permitted to go to the Temple Mount."
Mehdi Hasan’s Deceitful Defense of an Antisemitic Screed CAMERA
No reasonable observer would ever accuse Mehdi Hasan of providing thoughtful, balanced, and insightful discussions on the newsworthy subjects of the day, especially when the subject has anything to do with Jews. On June 4th, that happened to be the antisemitic screed at the City University of New York School of Law’s commencement ceremony, in which the speaker, Fatima Mohammed, called on her audience to use their rage to “fight against…Zionism around the world” and railed against “investors.” The speech was widely criticized and condemned by Jewish groups, university officials, and political leaders.

Once again upholding his reputation, the MSNBC host rode to Mohammed’s defense. The result was nine minutes of Hasan and his guests enthusiastically embracing willful blindness, legal nonsense, and material omissions.

Let’s start with the legal nonsense. One of Hasan’s guest, Naz Ahmad, a staff attorney at CUNY Law’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project, objected to “calling [Mohammed’s] speech hate speech when it doesn’t meet the legal definition of it in any manner of words.” It’s a bizarre remark that perhaps reflects on the quality of legal education at CUNY Law, given that there is no “legal definition” of “hate speech” under U.S. law. Hasan, too, insisted Mohammed’s remarks “did not come close to” this mythical “legal definition” of hate speech.

Hasan also tried to cast the widespread condemnation of Mohammed’s speech as an attempt at “cancelation.” But criticism of speech is not contrary to free speech. Quite the opposite. Criticism of speech fits squarely within Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous admonition: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” If harsh criticism of another’s speech amounted to “cancelation,” then Hasan himself would have plenty of accounting to do for his own past remarks.

Roger Waters resumes Nazi act in London that he’d dropped following Germany uproar
Roger Waters resumed his fascist dictator act during concerts this week in London, after briefly dropping the stunt over allegations it was connected to his record of making statements and gestures deemed antisemitic.

Waters wore the leather outfit and red armband, which is meant to resemble a Nazi or Waffen-SS uniform, at concerts Tuesday and Wednesday night in the O2 Arena in northern London, ITV reported.

Last week, Waters dropped the fascist act, which has long been a feature of the former Pink Floyd bassist’s shows, from a show in Birmingham. The change followed a controversy around the costume’s appearance in shows in Germany, where displaying Nazi imagery is illegal.

Following complaints, police in Germany said they were investigating whether Waters had broken the law.

“The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms,” Waters wrote in a statement about the uproar. “The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1980.”

Michael Gove, a UK government secretary of state, said in a statement that Waters was “reportedly falling short” of meeting an expectation that people with a significant public profile “behave responsibly and not abuse their platform.”

UK Labour leader Keri Starmer said the party “stands with the Jewish community and fully condemns Roger Waters.”

“Many people will think of Roger Waters as famous for being a member of one of the most important bands in history, but he is now more synonymous with spreading deeply troubling antisemitism, and that is why I believe this show should not be allowed to go ahead,” Starmer said.

Ye Reportedly Makes Over $25 Million From First Adidas Release of Unsold Yeezys Before New Product Drop
Kanye West, who now legally goes by Ye, is reportedly still pocketing a large amount from his partnership with Adidas even though the German athletic apparel and footwear company terminated its working relationship with the Grammy Award-winning rapper after he made a series of antisemitic comments last year.

Adidas announced in May its plans to sell all remaining inventory of Yeezy merchandise designed by Ye, and that a portion of proceeds would go to charities that combat discrimination, hate, racism and antisemitism, including the Anti-Defamation League. Ye, who experienced a massive decline in his net worth after Adidas terminated their partnership, will still reportedly receive 15 percent of all Yeezy sales by Adidas, according to Complex magazine. He began working with Adidas in 2013 on his Yeezy line of sneakers.

Adidas has 500 million unsold Yeezys that have a selling value of more than $1 billion. The company began selling once again Yeezy products on June 1 and on the first day alone 682,300 pairs of Yeezy shoes were released, selling for a total of $170.5 million, according to HYPEBEAST. Based on those figures, it is estimated that Ye has made $25.6 million.

Adidas is also rolling out a new Yeezy product — a Yeezy slide in a blended “MX Moon” colorway that has a light grey base and is marbled black with cream accents. A release date for the new item has yet to be confirmed.

Ye made a number of disturbing antisemitic remarks on social media and in national media appearances in late 2022 in which he incited violence against Jews, glorified Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, questioned facts about the Holocaust, and promoted antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories. He received global condemnation for his comments, which also resulted in him being suspended from Twitter and losing brand partnerships with Balenciaga, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Vogue, GAP, Peloton and others.
‘He Likens Jews to Rats’: Jewish Groups Condemn Tucker Carlson’s Description of Ukrainian President Zelensky
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and B’nai B’rith International on Wednesday condemned right-wing talking head Tucker Carlson for his description of Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky as “rat-like” and a “persecutor of Christians,” along with other antisemitic tropes during the debut of Carlson’s new opinion show.

“Given his history of incendiary statements, it is no surprise that Carlson would traffic in antisemitic tropes in criticizing the Jewish leader of Ukraine,” AJC told The Algemeiner. “But it is also no less vile when he likens Jews to rats. Hate can inspire antisemitic acts. Carlson must recognize the impact of his hatred.”

Speaking on the debut of his new Twitter-based show on Tuesday, Carlson accused Ukraine of being responsible for destroying the Russian-controlled Kakhovka Dam. In doing so, Carlson also criticized the character and appearance of Zelensky, who is Jewish, using what are widely regarded as antisemitic tropes.

“Now if you see him on television, it’s true you might form a different impression,” Carlson said of Zelensky. “Sweaty and rat-like. A comedian turned oligarch. A persecutor of Christians. A friend of BlackRock.”

The founder and CEO of the investment company BlackRock, Larry Fink, is Jewish.

Carlson also added that Zelensky was “shifty” and “dead-eyed.”

B’nai B’rith International told The Algemeiner Wednesday that Carlson “is recklessly trafficking here in antisemitic tropes.”

“These kinds of charged polemics only feed negative perceptions of Jews and add to a climate of bigotry,” they said.
Unpacked: Did Jews really get expelled from 109 countries?
While it’s true that Jews have been expelled from several countries over the centuries, the exaggerated antisemitic trope of 109 countries serves as an ongoing excuse for neo-Nazi Jewish hatred.

The 109 trope discounts the social, political, and economic contexts for Jewish expulsions throughout the ages, and only enhances the generational trauma faced by Jewish communities worldwide resulting from two millennia of living in various host countries as, often unwelcome, guests.

She represents the ‘worst of the worst.’ Now Judy Clarke is leading the defense in Pittsburgh synagogue massacre trial.
When Judy Clarke delivered her opening statement to the jury that will determine the fate of the man charged with committing the massacre in the Tree of Life synagogue building, she did not deny that her client was responsible.

In fact, she sympathized with the victims and their families.

Clarke, 71, began her address by acknowledging the horror of Oct. 27, 2018, and its aftermath.

“The tragedy that brings us together today,” she said in a soft-spoken yet confident voice, is “almost incomprehensible. It’s inexcusable. … Eleven lives were taken, others shattered. The loss that occurred is immeasurable.”

She told the jury there was “no disagreement, no doubt” about the identity of the perpetrator. It was “the man seated at that table,” she said, indicating her client. “He shot every person he saw and, in the process, injured others in their sacred spaces.”

Clarke was appointed to Robert Bowers’ defense team in December 2018, after he requested the counsel of a federal public defender specializing in death penalty cases. He faces 63 criminal counts related to his attack on congregations Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha. Many of the charges carry the death penalty.

Support JTA’s partnership with the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle throughout this trial.

As the trial proceeds, Clarke won’t try to convince the jury her client isn’t guilty. A “win” for her defense team will be for the defendant to avoid a death sentence and instead have him remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Clarke has vast experience defending those whom some call “the worst of the worst.” Her roster of past clients includes Susan Smith, who murdered her two young sons by drowning them in a lake in South Carolina; Theodore Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber; Buford Furrow, a white supremacist who opened fire in a Jewish community center outside of Los Angeles in 1999; Eric Rudolph, who planted a bomb in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics; and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Except for Tsarnaev — whose case is under appeal — Clarke succeeded in avoiding a death sentence for all her clients, either by negotiating a plea deal or by convincing the jury that mitigating factors, such as a mental illness, precluded imposition of the ultimate punishment.
The NYPD reports a decrease in anti-Jewish hate crimes in 2023
The New York Police Department has reported 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the city since the start of the year, a decrease of some 20% when compared to the same period last year.

Anti-Jewish incidents have comprised nearly 45% of the 223 total hate crimes the NYPD has reported this year. Jews are targeted for hate crimes more than any other group in the city, and have been the victims of a plurality of hate crimes each month. These incidents include assaults, vandalism such as swastikas being drawn in front of synagogues, verbal harassment and more.

The NYPD’s monthly data is preliminary and may undergo revisions.

The Anti-Defamation League's findings
A recent audit by the Anti-Defamation League found that there was a 39% increase in antisemitic incidents in New York State last year, from 416 in 2021 to 580 last year. The ADL report said that antisemitic incidents spiked 36% nationwide last year.

This year, Jewish security groups, including the New York-based Community Security Service and Community Security Initiative, teamed up with the ADL to form the Jewish Security Alliance, an effort to share resources and information to better fight hate in the tri-state area.

The ADL also opened an office in Brooklyn, which it called the “epicenter” of antisemitic assaults. The ADL’s antisemitism also found that the majority of antisemitic assaults last year targeted Orthodox Jews, and that of the 111 assaults tallied nationwide, 52 took place in Brooklyn alone.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has a close relationship with the Orthodox community and frequently speaks out against antisemitism. Governor Kathy Hochul has also made multiple public statements denouncing antisemitism.
City of Miami Beach agrees to pay $1.3 million to settle Jewish congregation’s discrimination claims
The city of Miami Beach has agreed to pay $1.3 million to a small Orthodox synagogue that accused it of discrimination by sending inspectors more than once a week on average for two years

At the same time, Congregation Bais Yeshaya D’Kerestir agreed to make changes to its parking and noise practices.

The agreement brings to a close an extended dispute over whether the congregation, which meets in a single-family home owned by its rabbi, Arie Wohl, was a religious institution or a private gathering.

The congregation argued that because its services are invitation-only, the building’s use is similar to that of any other private home and so should not be subject to scrutiny by city inspectors. It sued in April 2022, claiming that city officials had visited more than 126 times over the course of two years to enforce various city laws, including 60 times to enforce pandemic restrictions on large gatherings. (Orthodox services require a minyan, or quorum of at least 10 men, in order to recite certain prayers.)

The congregation also claimed that the city installed a video camera in 2021 that surveilled only its property, not neighboring buildings. Miami Beach was “wrongfully discriminating against Plaintiffs’ First Amendment protected rights of religious exercise and assembly through discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement of the City’s zoning ordinances,” the congregation alleged in a court complaint.
At New York gala, attendees raise $11 million for work of United Hatzalah
More than 1,500 people gathered at Cipriani Wall Street on June 6 in support of United Hatzalah of Israel, the world’s largest fully volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) organization.

Keynote speaker Robert Kraft, CEO and chairman of the Kraft Group, as well as founder of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, was joined by members of the Jewish community to support United Hatzalah’s life-saving mission and to fight antisemitism around the world.

The attendees raised $11 million for the organization. Throughout the night, supporters made contributions that will go directly towards helping nearly 7,000 volunteers in Israel who respond at an average of 90 seconds to medical crises to treat the injured and ill for free, regardless of faith, age, gender or ethnicity.

The longtime owner of the New England Patriots, Kraft has been a supporter of United Hatzalah for years. He was introduced on stage by gala chair David Blitzer, private equity investor and sports team owner.

The event also honored two Israeli couples who serve as first responders: Karima and Nazir Aweida, who are Muslim; and Dovi and Batya Widawsky, who are Jewish.

Israeli Muslim volunteer Nazir Aweida said: “A life is a life. We work to help everyone in Israel, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze. I am proud to know that my fellow volunteers feel the same way. We are one organization. All life has value. We work to save everyone, which is what United Hatzalah is all about.”
Knesset Launches ‘Waze for the Blind’
In honor of “Blind Day,” last Tuesday the Knesset launched a new personalized audio guidance, developed by Israeli start-up RightHear, to assist the blind, visually impaired, and people with orientation difficulties in navigating the Knesset halls. The special event of solidarity for the blind and visually impaired community, took place at the Knesset building, considered to be one of the most accessible parliaments in the world. The hundreds of guests enjoyed using the successful navigation system for the blind in the Knesset, through the “RightHear” app. The company recently completed a fundraising round led by the international impact fund, Menomadin Foundation.

Experts at RightHear explained that the system connects a dedicated mobile application to strategically placed wireless beacons in public spaces and accessibility points. It provides audio descriptions of the environment and directly transmits them to smartphones or tablets. This is how the system enables blind individuals, visually impaired individuals, or those with difficulty orienting themselves to navigate independently and experience the world securely.

“The Menomadin Foundation has invested in our audio signage system which allows individuals with visual impairments and blindness to use the application for free, tailored to all mobile devices, alongside constant updates and development of the application,” RightHear said.

Moshe Chico Edri, Director-General of the Knesset said, “The Knesset will continue to work toward making the premises accessible to people with disabilities, and will enable all visitors to experience the best of visiting and democracy. On Blind Day, we are proud to showcase the technological initiatives that we implement in the Knesset, with an ongoing commitment to progress and innovation.”
Tangier Jews have an intriguing history
Can one be Spanish, Moroccan and Jewish at the same time while living under French influence? The story of the Jews of northern Morocco, mainly from the Tangier region, is one of the most complex and intriguing stories of the Jewish community in the region.

According to Dr. Aviad Moreno, a faculty member at the Ben-Gurion Institute at Ben-Gurion University, the National Authority for Ladino Culture, and representative of the Royal Spanish Academy in Israel, the majority of Tangier and North Moroccan Jews are descendants of the expelled Jews from Spain who settled in the region after the expulsion and established Sephardic Jewish communities.

“The Jews in Northern Morocco preserved and developed the Judeo-Spanish language they brought from Spain even centuries after being expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, blending it with local Arabic and Amazigh linguistic elements,” says Moreno.

“In this aspect, they differed from other Jewish communities in Morocco that did not maintain the Spanish language, even if they originated from Spain.

The region itself underwent various transformations, and when Spain occupied the area, its representatives encountered these Jews who spoke the language they identified as their own. There have been attempts to assimilate them and use them as agents of modernization, fueled by great curiosity towards the language they preserved and a desire to reconnect them with their Sephardic Spanish heritage.”

How many people did the community have? “At its peak, researchers estimate that there were about 30,000 Jews living in Northern Morocco. By the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the majority of them were concentrated in Tangier, which was a central city in terms of commerce and influence.
Historic Mosque reopens in Egypt after long renovation

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