Friday, June 16, 2023

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Challenging the BBC on Israel
For decades, the Western media has acted as a malevolent echo chamber for demonization of Israel. Channeling Palestinian Arab propaganda as if it were fact, the media has twisted the Western mind, inciting it to hate Israel and give Israel’s Palestinian Arab persecutors a free pass. The impact of this cannot be exaggerated.

Of all media outlets, the BBC is the most important, because it serves as the global standard of fairness, objectivity and accuracy.

At least, that’s the BBC’s historic reputation. In Britain, conservatives regularly criticize it for its leftist bias. Arguably, however, the BBC’s coverage of Israel has caused the most lethal harm.

Over the years, the BBC has broadcast and disseminated through its influential website Palestinian Arab distortions and lies, including incendiary and emotive footage that is sometimes no more than “Pallywood” fiction. It fails to report most attacks on Israelis while, at the same time, unforgivably presenting Israeli military actions to stop these attacks as if Israel were the aggressor and the Palestinian Arabs its hapless victims.

There is no other country, cause or people that the BBC misrepresents so obsessively. The outlet’s egregious bias has been painstakingly charted by media watchdogs such as CAMERA UK.

Until very recently, however, the BBC could ignore such criticisms because of the general public silence of both Britain’s Jewish community leaders and Israeli politicians about its routine distortions.

This has recently begun to change. Member of Knesset Ohad Tal (Religious Zionism), chairman of the Knesset’s Public Enterprises Committee, has waded in. In a letter to the BBC’s Director-General Tim Davie, Tal accused the corporation of “inadvertently fanning terrorism” by parroting false claims used by Palestinian Arab terrorist groups to justify their attacks.

Pointing out that such groups regularly claim that their murders of Israeli civilians are a justified response to Israel’s “crimes of the occupation,” Tal listed 11 instances of similar claims broadcast by the BBC since last November alone—sometimes two in a single day.

This incessant messaging that Jewish “settlements” in Judea and Samaria are illegal appears so often in BBC items, said Tal, because the BBC’s guidance for its journalists states: “When writing a story about settlements, BBC journalists can aim, where relevant, to include context to the effect that ‘all settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.’ ”

Yet at the same time, the BBC’s guidelines assert, “We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution, using words instead such as ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant.’ ”
Caroline Glick: Trump, Netanyahu and the renaissance of Soviet apparatchiks
Netanyahu’s supporters have expressed great anger and frustration at the prime minister and his colleagues on the political right for their failure to date to restore the rule of law through legal reform, or to either privatize state media that receive automatic public funding and are politically driven or support alternative media outlets with the same largesse.

But the real criticism has to be directed at the left. The same people falsely claiming to be fighting for “democracy” by seeking to overthrow the democratically elected Netanyahu government and block its ability to govern through demonization, media-instigated panic and mob violence, hate democracy. They know they are the minority of Israel’s citizens and under their “Democracy” banners they demand unlimited power for anti-democratic institutions of government—the state prosecution, the Supreme Court and the senior government officials in every government ministry who think it ought to be illegal for elected ministers to oppose their policy preferences.

Opposition leaders have a personal interest in maintaining these institutions’ power. Consider Stateliness Party leader Benny Gantz. Gantz dedicated his party to blocking the government from asserting its command power over the IDF General Staff or limiting in any way the powers of the Supreme Court and the state prosecution.

Gantz’s company, the Fifth Dimension, was suspected of corrupt business practices and security breaches for, among other things, its alleged effort to sell spyware to Qatar—an enemy state—allegedly without receiving export licenses from the Defense Ministry. The investigation of the Fifth Dimension was buried by the Competition Authority and never subjected to police scrutiny.

The Democrats and Israeli leftists who have been demonizing Trump as a traitor and Netanyahu as a crook since 2016 are happy with the media’s corruption. They see no flaw in the behavior of their criminal justice and legal systems. Neither sector believes that maintaining the rule of law is the responsibility of the legal system nor believes that providing accurate reporting on current events is the job of the media.

Russia never became a liberal democracy. It moved from a totalitarian Communist regime to an authoritarian kleptocracy under Boris Yeltsin to a neo-czarist dictatorship under Vladimir Putin. As for the Free World, its liberal patriots morphed into progressive post-nationalist authoritarians smitten by political correctness and convinced that all ideological foes deserve to be canceled and criminalized. In other words, they became Soviet apparatchiks.

Whether or not Netanyahu and his colleagues in Israel—and Trump and his colleagues in America—succeed in their efforts to restore the rule of law and end the news commissars’ chokehold on information, as long as the progressives continue down their current path, we will remain in perpetual danger of giving the Soviet Union an ultimate victory over the Free World.
David Singer: Google ends UN's burying Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution
Google has ended the United Nations (UN) continuing effort to ignore the existence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine solution (HKOPS) as an alternative solution to replace the failed UN two-state solution contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2334 passed on 23 December 2016 (UNSCR 2334).

A Google search of “Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine” reveals the following information - available since 8 June:

HKOPS has been amended – requiring the above entry’s following correction:
“This proposed enlarged kingdom would include present-day Jordan, Gaza, and the 'West Bank' (areas inhabited by Palestinians that border Jordan, i.e not divided into islands)”

HKOPS challenges the current solution - UNSCR 2334 - being unsuccessfully pursued by the United Nations urging:
“the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;”

After seven years of such intensive international and regional diplomatic efforts – the UN has achieved nothing. The conflict continues to intensify and the threat of a looming humanitarian crisis of major proportions continues to become more likely if the conflict is not resolved.

Coleman Hughes: The History and Ethics of the Israel-Palestine Conflict with Dr. Benny Morris
The topic of today's episode is the Israel-Palestine conflict. I've avoided discussing Israel on this podcast for two reasons. First, because I didn't know enough to feel qualified to weigh in on it. Second, because it may literally be the most radioactive topic on planet Earth. A tiny mistake or misplace word can cause a level of backlash that I just don't want to deal with. However, two things have changed over the past few months. I discuss these two factors in detail in the first few minutes of the episode.

I want the first half of this podcast to serve as an introduction to basic historical facts behind the conflict. If you're well versed on this topic, then you may want to skip the beginning. However, on the other hand, there is still quite a bit of interesting material there. The rest of this podcast is about the ethics and the current politics of the conflict. Who is in the right, and who is in the wrong? Is Israel an apartheid state that's oppressing a minority out of pure bigotry? Is it a colonialist, expansionist state motivated by religious belief? Or is it an embattled and legitimate nation-state surrounded by enemies that want only to survive? These are the questions that people struggle with and I brought in Dr. Benny Morris to help me answer them. Dr.Benny Morris has a unique vantage point on this issue. On the one hand, he is an Israeli Jew, and in recent years, he has become a major defender of Israel against global condemnation. On the other hand, he's probably done more than almost anyone you could name, to discover and publicize Israel's historical war crimes. He refused to serve in the Occupy West Bank Operation and was arrested as a result. His academic work on Israel is cited favorably by people like Noam Chomsky, who is all the way on the other side of the issue. Dr. Benny was at one point shunned by the Israeli academic community for being in essence "a traitor" to his people. He's one of the few people who can really claim to have battle scars from both sides of this debate.

Therefore, I thought he'd be a good person to help me weave through the complexities of the topic. I have a lot of admiration for Benny Morris, and I hope you find him as illuminating as I did. (h/t jzaik)

The Rubin Report: How Israel Turned Division Into a Strength | Yoran Hazony
Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” talks to Yoram Hazony about how Israel is prospering despite its political tribalism; how desalination has enabled it to become an exporter of water in the Middle East; why the U.S. has falling birthrates while Israel’s are rising; why most Israeli citizens join the Israeli military; why Christians are seeking more help from Jews in understanding the Old Testament; the benefits of nationalism; and how secularism has backfired in America.

0:00 Intro
1:03 What Israel is Doing Right
5:11 What America Can Learn from Israel
9:36 The Need for Christianity in America
14:06 How to Support Other Religious Subcultures
19:46 What It's Like Living in Jerusalem

Combat Antisemitism Movement: What is 'Woke Antisemitism'?
How core ideological tenets — such as privilege, equity, whiteness, and the oppressor/oppressed binary — can be and are weaponized against Jews.

Extensive report details decades of antisemitism at CAIR
CAIR has been in the news of late, following the revelation that the White House brought the group in as a partner on its national strategy on combating antisemitism.

That move, history professor Gil Troy, recently told JNS, is like recruiting “male chauvinists for the next women’s rights initiative,” or inviting “some butchers to National Vegetarian Day.”

Emerson told JNS that CAIR’s participation in the White House antisemitism strategy is “one of the greatest deceptions in national security in modern times.”

The new report, which is slated to come out in paperback in two weeks, is organized thematically, corresponding to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Much, but not all, of the report documents extensive allegations and reporting about CAIR that is already public. One new item is an FBI agent’s affidavit, which Emerson obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. That document names Omar Ahmad, co-founder of CAIR, as “one of the leaders of Hamas.”

From the origins of CAIR, which was founded in 1994, and its closeness to Hamas to the organization today, some 30 years later, the report details many anti-Israel statements from leaders of the group. One example: Nihad Awad, CAIR co-founder and executive director, referred to Tel Aviv as “occupied” in 2021, noting “It will be free later.”

To Emerson, the report not only implicates CAIR, but also those who stand by idly, or who support the group.

“This book is as much an implicit indictment of the media and half the members of Congress who have legitimized CAIR as it is as an indictment of CAIR itself,” he told JNS. “We live in the age of citizen-warriors, but the weapons we citizens carry are knowledge. That’s what this book provides.”
2024 candidates mostly silent on bill to hold schools fiscally accountable for antisemitism
A bill that Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) introduced late last month, H.R.3773, which now has 14 co-sponsors, aims to amend the 1965 Higher Education Act to bar colleges and universities that host antisemitic events from being part of federal student loan and grant programs.

The legislation came after video footage came to light of a CUNY law student delivering an antisemitic commencement address on May 12. The talk, in part, accused Israel of continuing “to indiscriminately rain bullets and bombs on worshippers, murdering the old, the young, attacking even funerals and graveyards.”

“No college or university should receive a single dollar of federal education funding if they peddle in the promotion of antisemitism at an event on their campus,” Lawler stated. “CUNY should be ashamed of itself for allowing insidious anti-semitism to permeate on its campuses, and my bill will ensure they face stiff penalties if they continue to let hate have a home.”

‘A broader pattern of antisemitism’
JNS sought comment from every declared 2024 presidential campaign on whether the candidate, if elected, would direct his or her Education Department to defund CUNY or schools that act similarly.

“What happened at CUNY is outrageous. CUNY has become a hotbed of radical antisemitism in America, and it’s time to put our foot down,” Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told JNS.

A Haley White House would have zero tolerance for antisemitism, the former South Carolina governor told JNS. “Institutions that engage in persistent antisemitism in violation of federal law should have their taxpayer funding pulled.”

Former vice president and current presidential candidate Mike Pence has publicly discussed defunding the Education Department entirely, which would make defunding CUNY individually a moot point.

He is “a champion of the Jewish people” who believes that “antisemitism has no place in America, including college campuses,” Devin O’Malley, a Pence spokesman, told JNS.

The Ron DeSantis campaign did not respond to several JNS queries; the Florida governor’s office told JNS that it cannot discuss questions beyond state policy. Jeremy Redfern, press secretary to Ron DeSantis, noted that the governor signed HB 741 into law in 2019, making religion a protected class with respect to discrimination in Florida’s public education institutions.
California student’s ‘anti-Semitic hate’ speech ruins graduation for some ‘outraged’ classmates
The California college student who delivered incendiary “antisemitic hate” during a commencement speech sparked “outrage” among students in attendance with her unchallenged rhetoric.

“The speech definitely soured my graduation,” one Jewish El Camino Community College student told The Post about his spoiled big day. “I definitely felt singled out.”

Jana Abulaban, the 18-year-old who crammed several inflammatory anti-Israel claims into her two-minute speech to some 5,000 attendees at the Torrance, Calif., campus ceremony, included accusations that the “oppressive apartheid state of Israel” is “killing and torturing Palestinians as we speak.”

“Part of me wanted to leave,” added the grad, who said he felt “outed.” “It just wasn’t appropriate for a speech.”

Despite the smattering of enthusiastic applause from some members of the audience, Abulaban’s charged rhetoric spoiled the day for many.

“From who I talked to, they were outraged that was allowed to be said,” added the student.

The gobsmacked grad told The Post he “felt uneasy” when Abulaban, a self-described “Palestinian refugee” — who was really born and raised in Jordan — launched into her hateful and “hurtful” diatribe.

“I was kind of telling myself, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re using a platform that you earned as student government president to put out this message that clearly pushes further division instead of a message of inclusion,'” he said.

BBC WS ME editor misleads on Egypt-Israel border
Previously we discussed two BBC News website reports about the June 3rd incident near Israel’s border with Egypt in which three Israeli soldiers were killed by a member of the Egyptian forces:

On the afternoon of June 3rd listeners to two BBC radio stations heard reports on the same story.

The news bulletin at the beginning of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ included a short report from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell (from 01:57 here).

The afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (from 09:50 here) in which listeners heard from the World Service’s Middle East regional editor Sebastian Usher.

Both those reports promoted the claim (which was already in doubt at the time of broadcast) that the Egyptian officer was chasing drug smugglers at the time of the incident. However, Sebastian Usher also made statements which were not dependent on the investigation of the incident.

CNN’s Huwara Investigation Heavy on Narrative, Light on Evidence
Despite resulting from a “monthslong” investigation, the evidence for the article’s central proposition is curiously thin. The network says its investigation is “based on analysis of videos from the scene, exclusive testimony from an Israeli soldier, as well as interviews with seven eyewitnesses and two Palestinian journalists…”

Some of the video footage CNN relies on has nothing to do with the actions of Israeli soldiers (e.g., “Videos geolocated and verified by CNN showed hundreds of people flocking to Huwara’s main street…”). Other claims based on videos are of events that happened after the incident that have no bearing on the behavior of soldiers during the incident (e.g., “a video circulating on social media and geolocated by CNN showed Israeli soldiers and settlers dancing together in celebration of Purim”).

Other claims are based on the supposed absence of footage. The article claims that “none of the videos” CNN reviewed “showed [IDF soldiers] firing on the settlers.” But left unexplained is how CNN acquired the videos and whether it took steps to ensure it was reviewing all relevant footage from the scene and not just a selective sample.

Where the alleged actions of Israeli forces are supposedly caught in footage, the network’s description of the footage leaves more questions than answers. This is particularly concerning since, as of this writing, of the three videos included in the article, two appear to have been removed immediately or are not working, leaving the public unable to scrutinize the video evidence for themselves. The third shows only nine seconds of video from “Palestine TV” depicting a group of soldiers on a road with one firing into the air. Further down the road, a fire appears on one side of the road, while a group of unidentified individuals stands on the other side. One of those individuals appears to run and throw an object in the direction of the fire. The brief clip, with a limited field of view, provides little context. Yet the article uses this limited footage as evidence for its sweeping allegation that instead of stopping the settlers, the soldiers only “fired at the Palestinians with tear gas and stun grenades.”

Perhaps CNN has more footage. Perhaps CNN can show it did a comprehensive review of all footage from the scene. But based on what the network has actually provided, the video evidence for its conclusions is shockingly thin.

Most of the rest of the evidence referenced in the article is statements by Palestinian witnesses. If it is assumed the witnesses are honestly reflecting their perspective, the lack of corroborating evidence for many of the claims is concerning. For example, while Palestinian witnesses may honestly be recounting their perspective that the soldiers on the scene did not respond to certain behavior of violent settlers that they saw, those witnesses may not have been aware of a separate situation the soldiers may have been focused on during the chaotic scene.

This is why any serious, objective investigation would get the perspective of all of those on the scene. Given the investigation was into the actions or omissions of Israeli soldiers, the perspectives of those soldiers would be both highly relevant and probative, and would almost certainly shed new light on what did or did not happen that night. Yet, shockingly, the article contains the testimony of only a single soldier allegedly at the scene, which was provided through an activist organization notorious for making demonstrably false or questionable allegations against Israeli forces.

Another superficial BBC report on crime in Israel’s Arab sector
Beyond the portrayal of the two June 8th incidents, Knell has nothing new to offer her readers on the topic of the crime wave in the Israeli Arab sector. As in her previous reports she promotes the claim that “many” of Israel’s Arab citizens “prefer to be called” Palestinian, despite the fact that surveys show that the majority do not identify as such.

“In theory, Israeli Arabs – or Palestinian citizens of Israel, as many prefer to be called – have equal rights with Jewish citizens, but they routinely complain of state discrimination.”

Knell also re-promotes the claim of “police inaction” found in her 2021 reports:
“Bereaved families and Arab officials claim that police inaction is one of the main reasons for the endemic violence plaguing their neighbourhoods.”

The topic of the Arab community’s lack of full cooperation with the authorities, including the failure to report some incidents to the police, receives no mention in this latest report from Knell, despite having been mentioned in her previous ones.

Knell tells readers that:
“Most victims are young men but increasingly others are caught up in a violent crime wave linked to illegal guns, family feuds and organised gangs.”

Notably, Knell avoids the relevant issue of women murdered by family members. Her mention of “illegal guns” fails to adequately inform readers as to the scale of that important issue and the smuggling trade that supplies those weapons.

A significant proportion of Knell’s report is given over to statements made by various Israeli politicians, including the following:
“But Mr Ben-Gvir blamed decades of neglect and lack of governance for the crime wave, saying there had been a “Wild West in the Arab sector to all intents and purposes”.”

However, she made no effort to provide readers with information concerning the investment in the Arab sector by previous governments over the years or the efforts of the under-staffed police force to reduce crime rates.

The issue of crime in Israel’s Arab sector is complex and multi-faceted but as in her previous reporting, Yolande Knell once again reduces the subject to a simplistic story about “police inaction” in her latest article.
Russian media releases declassified documents on the Holocaust – report
New documents on the Baltic states’ actions during the Holocaust have been declassified by the Russian Federal Security Service, according to a Thursday RIA (Russian state media) report.

The documents were released as part of the “No Statute of Limitations” project.

The document details the murder of “tens of thousands of Jews” in 1941 during the Nazi occupation by both the residents of the states and occupying forces. The states detailed in the report are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, countries that have since aligned themselves with Ukraine in light of the Russian invasion. Lithuania’s participation in the Holocaust

The report alleged that the Nazis had been amazed by the ferocity with which Lithuanians had absorbed antisemitic ideologies and the cruelty they were willing to show.

"When the German troops entered the territory of Lithuania, the Lithuanians' hatred of the Jews led to effective pogroms ... As a result of the pogroms, which were nevertheless carried out with significant action by the security police and SD, Lithuanians liquidated 3800 Jews in Kaunas and approximately 1,200 Jews in small towns,” RIA cites the report as saying.

Teams of up to eight people were reportedly first tasked with murdering any Jewish people in prison. Eventually, the murders advanced to any Jews in Lithuania. The report stated that this was carried out "systematically county by county."

"As a result of many individual operations, a total of 136,421 people were liquidated," the report said, although this figure is likely to include non-Jewish groups that were also targeted by the Nazi’s ideology.

Some Jews were kept alive and placed in ghettos to use as slave labor. The report says that 15,000 Jewish people had been kept in Kaunas and Vilna, with a further 4,500 kept in Siauliai. According to RIA, These Jews were forced to work in the local airfield where they carried out tasks relating to "earthworks and other works."
Yiddish LGBTQ+ cafe in Glasgow closes down, citing antisemitic incidents
A Glasgow eatery, self-described as a “queer Yiddish anarchist café”, has closed down, citing antisemitic incidents as one of the reasons for its closure.

On the website of the Pink Peacock cafe, a statement describes the “burnout” of its staff, in part due to antisemitism.

The statement read: “We have received a frankly astonishing amount of antisemitic vitriol over the last three years from self-described leftists who have doxxed us, harassed us online and off, and spread rumors about us being ‘landlord’ ‘bosses’ ‘profiting off the holocaust’ and ‘s***ing in mailboxes’.”

It added that “Several of our members have moved away or are planning to move soon, in part due to the Jewish isolation, unchecked antisemitism in Scotland and the impact of this harassment.”

Earlier this month, the cafe tweeted about how attempts were made to alienate staff members due to their Jewishness.

The cafe wrote: “One really persistent element of antisemitism we face is the idea that jews are not part of the community. We’re foreigners and outsiders regardless of where we come from. For example, our mentions are full of people saying that ‘the community’ is glad we’re closing.”

It continued by saying that its Jewish staff members constantly faced accusations of being “rich”, “middle class” or “gentrifiers”.
Another Antisemitic Attack Reported on London Public Transportation as Crime Wave Against Jews Continues
Another Jewish Londoner has been attacked on while riding the city’s public transportation, a local neighborhood watchgroup reported on Wednesday.

According to Shomrim Stamford Hill, which has continuously reported on a widespread epidemic of antisemitic harassment and violence in London that began in 2021, a male wearing dark clothing approached a Jewish community member on the Piccadilly Line of the Underground and made “threatening gestures” while spewing “disturbing verbal abuse.” The group is calling on any witnesses of the incident to come forward.

“The distressing encounter has left the victim deeply affected, and is an alarming reminder of the need for vigilance and solidarity in our community,” the group said.

Jewish residents have also faced persistent harassment at a communal garden in the Stamford Hill neighborhood, with a group of people believed to be from a nearby apartment shouting “Free Palestine” and “Hitler” at them, the group also reported on Wednesday. Shomrim said “this isn’t an isolated incident” and said Jewish residents are “deeply concerned.”

Orthodox Jews in the Stamford Hill section of London have been victims of an onslaught of antisemitic harassment and violence since last year, and there already have been 211 antisemitic hate crimes in London so far in 2023, according to data reported by Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). Members of the city’s Orthodox Jewish community, one of the largest in Europe, were victims in a substantial portion of the 3,280 antisemitic hate crimes that MPS has recorded since 2018. 853 were tallied in 2021 alone.

2023 Israel Defense Prize Awarded to 4 Outstanding Projects
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant awarded the 2023 Israel Defense Prize to four projects developed by the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Security Agency, the Mossad, and the defense industries. This year's awarded projects included a cutting-edge cyber defense system that ensures the IDF's security and operational freedom.

Herzog said, "Your invaluable contributions to Israel's national strength are truly remarkable. Through your accomplishments, inventions, developments, and outstanding achievements, the security of our beloved nation is safeguarded, ensuring our ability to defend ourselves independently. It is thanks to these endeavors, and to each and every one of you, that we possess a country capable of confronting any threat, vanquishing any adversary, and deterring and overwhelming potential challenges." He compared the awarded projects to the technological advancements found in works of science fiction.
What the Arrow-3 sale to Germany says about Israel
These sales are important to Israel for two main reasons. First, they strengthen bilateral ties. If Israel is providing a country with weapons that keep it safe, that country – for instance, Azerbaijan or India, which have emerged as key markets for Israeli arms – will relate to Israel in a fundamentally different way than if there were no arms sales in the relationship. This is only natural. Countries, like people, relate to and treat those they need differently than those they do not.

The second reason these sales are so critical for Israel is that they make it possible for the country to conduct the research and development to produce the weapons it needs for its own survival. The primary purpose of Israel’s weapons industry is to create weapons needed for the Israeli army. Some of these arms must be tailor-made for Israel’s unique circumstances; others, Israel simply cannot get elsewhere.

Amos Yaron, a former director-general of the ministry, explained at a conference last year that Israel needs to export 70% of the weapons and systems it manufactures to pay for the research, development and production of the weapons it needs for its own survival.

THE NET RESULT is that Israel’s ability to give countries around the world things they need – from weapons systems to irrigation expertise to medical innovations to lifesaving intel – necessarily increases its utility to the world.

And this utility to the world explains the explosion in Israel’s diplomatic ties over the last 15 years. From India to the UAE, from Greece to Rwanda, Israel’s diplomatic situation has improved, corresponding to an appreciation of the tangibles Israel brings to the table.

For instance, does anyone think the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco would have signed agreements with Israel if the Jewish state could not provide what they need?
Israel’s World Cup Cinderella story
It’s one of the best comedic moments in the 1980 cult film Airplane!

A flight attendant, played by Julie Hagerty, is walking down the aisle offering passengers reading material.

She stops next to an elderly woman and asks if she’d like something to read.

“Do you have anything light?” the woman asks.

The attendant reaches into the pile of heavy folders she’s carrying and takes out a piece of paper no bigger than a postcard.

“How about this leaflet, Famous Jewish Sports Legends?” she offers.

One is reminded of the old Yiddish joke: “If you see a Jew with a dog, either the Jew isn’t much of a Jew or the dog isn’t much of a dog.”

If you encounter a Jewish sportsman, the conventional wisdom goes, either the Jew isn’t much of a Jew or the sport isn’t much of a sport.
Jewish celebrities roast antisemitism in packed LA comedy event
The White House recently released a detailed strategy for combating antisemitism, complete with more than 100 action items.

One thing not on the list? Comedy.

That’s where Jewish celebrities such as Howie Mandel, Rachel Bloom and Michael Rapaport came in on Wednesday night at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, at a so-called “Roast of Anti-Semitism.”

As event organizer Dani Zoldan put it, the comedy show was focused on “making fun of people who hate Jews.”

Emceed by longtime standup and occasional TV actor Elon Gold — who joked that there were no Proud Boys in the audience, only “Jewish mothers who are proud of their boys” — the evening was full of Yiddishisms, circumcision jokes and poking fun at the likes of Kanye West and Donald Trump.

There were countless jokes about antisemitic stereotypes — more than one performer mocked the idea that Jews control the weather, noting that the auditorium was uncomfortably warm. There were bits about conversion, Jesus and Hitler, and even a couple of musical numbers, including Bloom’s rendition of “Remember That We Suffered,” from the musical comedy she co-created and starred in, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

The sold-out crowd of 1,900 also heard from Montana Tucker, the social media star who has become known for her Holocaust education content, and Noa Tishby, the actor and Israel’s former antisemitism envoy, who was fired after criticizing the current government’s proposed judicial overhaul.

Israel itself was not a big topic at the show, aside from a few jokes about flying El Al and Gold proclaiming, to considerable applause, that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
Israel trying to bring remains of Rabbi Shabazi from Yemen
While the Jewish community of Yemen has officially become extinct – only one Jew remains there and he is in jail – the government of Israel and the Chief Rabbinate are trying to bring the remains of the 17th century Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, one of Yemen Jewry’s most inspirational leaders, to the Jewish state. Shabazi wrote a famous lamentation recalling the banishment of the Yemenite Jews to the desert in his lifetime.

Shalom Shabazi (1619 – c. 1720) was the son of Yosef ben Avigad, of the family of Mashtā, also commonly known as Abba Sholem Shabazi or Saalem al-Shabazi (Hebrew: שלום שבזי; Arabic: سالم الشبزي). He was a Jewish poet who lived in 17th century Himarya (Yaman) often referred to as the arch-poet of Yemen.

Shabazi was born in 1619 in the town of Najd al-Walid. His family’s pedigree has been traced back to Zeraḥ, the son of Yudah, the son of Jacob who is called Israel. At the death of his father, Yosef Mashta, Shalom moved to the small town of Shabaz, near the city of Tai’zz.

Not long thereafter, he again moved and settled in Ta’izz. There he built a house of prayer and a ritual bath (mikveh) outside of the city, beneath Jebel Sabir. It was from here that he and his family were expelled, along with most of the Yemenite Jews in 1679.

Shabazi, like many Jews of his generation, was influenced by Shabbetai Zvi, and thought that he may be Israel’s Messiah. Shabazi died around 1720 and was buried in Ta’izz, beneath mount Jebel Sabir. In the early 20th-century the grave of Shabazi was a place of pilgrimage for Jews and Arabs alike, especially those who sought healing. The exception were the Baladi Jews (those who follow Maimonides’s legal rulings) who do not traditionally visit graves.

Shabazi’s father, Yosef ben Abijad bin Khalfun, was also a rabbi and a poet. Shabazi’s extant poetic diwan, comprising some 550 poems, was published for the first time by the Ben-Zvi Institute in 1977. He wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo-Arabic. Shabazi’s other works include a treatise on astrology, a kabbalistic commentary on the Torah and a work entitled Sefer ha-Margalith. He is sometimes called the “Shakespeare of Yemen”.
Sir Ben Helfgott, Holocaust survivor, Olympian and Jewish hero passes away aged 93
The Chief Rabbi has led tributes to Sir Ben Helfgott, "a charismatic and passionate leader", whose death at the age of 93 was announced today.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “Sir Ben Helfgott was one of the most inspirational people I have known.

“He was a charismatic and passionate leader, who promoted the values of compassion, understanding, love and peaceful coexistence.

“His own horrific experiences inspired him to work tirelessly for a more peaceful and unified world and he inspired us to do likewise. Our thoughts today are with his wife Arza, sons Maurice, Michael and Nathan, and his inimitable sister Mala Tribich.”

Holocaust survivor Sir Ben was also one of only two Jewish athletes to survive the Shoah and compete in the Olympic Games.

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Sir Ben Helfgott was a giant amongst men.

"A Holocaust survivor, Olympic champion, campaigner, visionary and our leader. Despite all he endured, Ben taught us all about resilience, tolerance and the crucial importance of educating future generations. He was our friend and mentor and we mourn his loss deeply.”

World Jewish Relief’s Chief Executive Paul Anticoni added: “Ben was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Having been through unimaginable horror, his determination to remember the past and shape the future was infectious.

“His commitment to Holocaust education was defining and he was immensely influential in ensuring Holocaust Survivors worldwide benefited and continue to benefit from restitution funding.
Ben Helfgott, the man who kept Holocaust memory alive
Last week, I tried explaining about Sir Ben Helfgott to a group of people who didn’t know. His knighthood had just been announced, and they were curious.

So I started with his moving Holocaust story, with the terrible death of his mother and sister, with losing his father and with his survival of Buchenwald and Thereisenstadt. There was silence in the room.

Then, as casually as I could, I told them that, after the war, Sir Ben had been swimming in Hampstead Heath and had noticed three young men lifting weights. Wrestling had been his sport but now he wondered if he, too, could lift weights. The first time he tried it, without any training, he lifted 185 pounds at a time when the record was 209 pounds.

And that is how, I said, this camp survivor ended up representing Britain in two Olympic Games.

Looking round the room I saw I had hit the mark, but you know what? At this point, I hadn’t even got to the most important thing about Sir Ben Helfgott.

To appreciate what that is, I need to discuss my own family a little. My mother, as I know I have explained before, had her own story of Holocaust tragedy and survival. By the end of her life she had told it many times.

Mum had been heard in school and at conferences, she had given countless interviews, she had been filmed for archives and museums, she had been flown to Germany as the subject of a BBC radio documentary, she had told her tale to the Prime Minister and his wife, and been asked to Downing Street to bear witness in a private meeting with the Chancellor’s family. And, when she died, she was accorded a large obituary in more than one newspaper.

We used to joke together that Holocaust Memorial Day was her “busy season”.

But it hadn’t always been that way.

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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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