Wednesday, June 21, 2023

From Ian:

The antisemitic BDS war on celebrities
The BDS movement has been a total failure. It has not damaged Israel’s economy, it has not turned Israel into a pariah, it has not changed Israeli policy, and it has not destroyed the Jewish state. The BDS movement has tried to create the image of winning by claiming phony victories. It has also capitalized by convincing a handful of mostly B- and C-list celebrities to shun Israel. The fight to achieve these symbolic “victories” is the subject of Lana Melman’s well-researched book, Artists Under Fire: The BDS War Against Celebrities, Jews, and Israel.

Melman is an industry insider who has been on the frontline of the fight to educate celebrities and try to insulate them from the global assault waged against them by BDS advocates through relentless social-media campaigns, threats and disinformation. She does not mince words in defining antisemitism as “demonizing Israel.” The BDS campaign, she writes, “seeks to use the celebrity of artists a tool to destroy Israel and stir up hate against Jews worldwide.”

“Artists are public figures who need audience support to succeed, making them particularly vulnerable to attacks on their character,” Melman explains. “Artists are afraid that “false charges against them will stick like chewing gum on the bottom of one’s shoe” and ruin their reputations.

It’s more than reputations at stake. Sometimes, the threats are more serious, as when Paul McCartney was threatened by Islamic activist Omar Bakri Muhammad: “‘If he values his life Mr. McCartney will not come to Israel.” McCartney ignored the threat and played in front of 50,000 people in Tel Aviv in 2008. He told an Israeli journalist: “I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think, and I have many friends who support Israel.”

McCartney is by no means the only A-list celebrity (or Beatle) who has defied the boycotters to appear in Israel. Others include Ringo Starr, Rhianna (twice), Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Art Garfunkel, Chick Corea, Julio Iglesias, Herbie Hancock, Madonna, Bon Jovi (three times), 50 Cent (twice), Andrea Bocelli and Guns N’Roses (three times, most recently on June 5).

The A-listers can usually withstand the pressure and not worry about their careers being affected. Others are more sensitive and are bombarded with petitions, statements, open letters, criticism on social media and Photoshopped images “associating Israel and the artist with destruction, racism, apartheid, the murder of children and worse.” Demonstrators protest outside venues. Artists’ representatives are overwhelmed by malicious emails and calls.
Why is Avi Shlaim recycling the ‘Baghdad bombings’ theory?
It is a mystery why "the Zionists" might have thought it necessary to bomb the synagogue when, by late 1950 a backlog of 80,000 Jews, who had already registered to leave for Israel, were stranded in Iraq. Indeed, the Iraqi government toyed with the idea of dumping these Jews on Israel’s border with Jordan or in the Kuwaiti desert because Israel was not shipping them out fast enough.

All the evidence for the bombings points to the nationalist Istiqlal party as the culprit. An Istiqlal member confessed to an Iraqi historian, Shamel Abdul Kader, that he planted the first bomb in April 1950. The Israeli new historian Tom Segev produced evidence blaming the synagogue bombing on Iraqi nationalists.

Iraqi Jews already had reason enough to seek a haven in Israel – rising pro-Nazi sentiment, the memory of a vicious Baghdad pogrom in 1941, the execution of the wealthy non-Zionist Shafik Ades in 1948, arrests, extortion, racist laws persecuting and dispossessing them. A vibrant community of 150,000 is now reduced to three Jews.

But Shlaim claims there was no antisemitism in Iraq until the Iraqis ‘turned on the Jews’ for their alleged complicity with the British invasion of 1941 and the foundation of Israel.

It is a travesty that Shlaim should not only fail to blame Arab regimes for the mass ethnic cleansing of their Jewish citizens, but that his reputation as an Oxford academic should lend ‘exceptional authority’ and respectability to these highly controversial claims,

What lies behind Shlaim’s anti-Zionism? In reviewing ‘Israel and Palestine’ Benny Morris pronounced himself puzzled.

“Many intellectuals, in Israel as in the West, have been moved by the Palestinians’ history and their plight, but at the same time they have remained sympathetic to Israel’s predicament…. In Israel and Palestine, by contrast, there is no sign of any such complex sympathy.

"For Shlaim, Israel and its leaders can do no right. It all begins to seem very personal. What is the source of this bias and this resentment? ‘

It appears that Shlaim’s memoir holds the answer. Israel is responsible for his unhappy childhood, his family’s impoverishment and his broken home.
Examining Islamic Group’s Ties to Hamas
CAIR emerged out of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an organization that served as a propaganda arm of a now-defunct Hamas-support network called the “Palestine Committee.” The Committee was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to help Hamas politically and financially in the United States. As the committee’s propaganda outlet, the IAP organized “annual conventions and meetings, which were regularly addressed by members of Hamas brought from the Middle East.” The outlet published magazines with articles supporting the terrorist group. It also “published the Hamas charter in English and distributed Hamas communiques.”

Founded in 1994, CAIR was incorporated by three IAP leaders — Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, and Rafeeq Jaber. Mousa Abu Marzook, a member of the Hamas Politburo, “served as a member of IAP’s advisory board and served as its chairman in 1988-90.” He also provided IAP with $490,000. IAP, which is now defunct, was long a central player in Hamas’ US support network.

In August 2002, a Federal judge ruled that there was evidence that “the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), has acted in support of Hamas.” In November 2004, a Federal magistrate judge held IAP civilly liable for $156 million in damages in the 1996 shooting of an American teenager by a Hamas member in the West Bank.

And evidence from the Dallas trial charging the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and its officers with providing material support for Hamas shows that the IAP played a central role in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.

According to the Committee’s 1994 meeting agenda and a 1991 organizational chart introduced into evidence, the IAP, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, and a Virginia think-tank that Marzook founded were the committee’s primary components.

A November 1991 committee status report approved by the Shura Council explained that the Ikhwan, or Brotherhood, created IAP “to serve the cause of Palestine on the political and media fronts. The Association’s work has developed a great deal since its inception, particularly with the formation of the Palestine Committee, the beginning of the Intifada at the end of 1987 and the proclamation of the Hamas Movement.”

Hillel Neuer Confronts U.N.’s Biased Pillay Commission
Selections from today’s debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council:
UNHRC Vice-President: We shall begin the interactive dialogue with the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel.

Navi Pillay, Chair of Commission of Inquiry: Our examination revealed that the majority of violations are being committed by Israeli authorities, as part of the Israeli government’s goal of consolidating its permanent occupation at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Venezuela on behalf of The Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations: The Israeli occupation constitutes a neoliberal colonial occupation and apartheid regime.

North Korea: My delegation is seriously concerned of the continued violation of human rights by Israel.

Syria: An apartheid regime…

Amnesty International: Dismantle Israel’s system of apartheid, the root cause of such oppression.

Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic States: Impunity is writ large on Israel’s dehumanizing and apartheid policies.

Iran: The scale of killing torture, ill-treatment, intimidation, and abuse and harassment against human rights defenders and journalists perpetrated by the occupying power show clearly, that the war crimes and crimes against humanity are used on a daily basis as a normal tool of an apartheid entity.

Hillel Neuer, UN Watch:

Madam Chair,

Today’s report examines attacks, restrictions, and harassment of civil society actors, who address the issues under the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.

As you may know, our NGO recently marked its 30th anniversary as a civil society actor speaking out on these matters.

On October 7th, we filed a legal complaint with the United Nations that documented a campaign of attacks, restrictions, and harassment targeting our organization. I invite all Member States to see the rather shocking evidence at On October 11th, UN Assistant Secretary-General Martha Lopez confirmed that the complaint would be considered.

I would like to ask the Members of the Commission: Is there any reason why, in the 78 pages of your report and annex, there is not one reference to this kind of harassment targeting civil society organizations that speak out against antisemitic incitement by the Palestinian Authority, and terrorist attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

In regard to antisemitism, we commend the cross-regional group of 18 countries, including Britain, France, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Liberia, Canada and Switzerland, that condemned the remarks about “the Jewish Lobby” by a member of the commission, Mr. Kothari. We also commend the UN Secretary General’s statement, and the former Council President for condemning this “stigmatization of the Jewish people. . . which is at the heart of any expression of antisemitism.”

Madam Pillay: Do you still stand by your letter of 28 July defending Mr. Kothari’s remarks, which have been condemned by the world for antisemitism?

Jeremy Corbyn's wife in anti-Starmer Facebook group riddled with Jew-hate messages
Jeremy Corbyn’s wife, Laura Alvarez, is a member of a Facebook group plotting to unseat Sir Keir Starmer that is riddled with antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The Organise Corbyn Inspired Socialist Alliance (OCISA) group, created in February after the Labour leader announced he was barring Corbyn from standing at the next election, features claims that Sir Keir has been “bought and paid for by the Zionists” and that Jews do not suffer racism, merely “prejudice”.

According to posts seen by Sky News, Alvarez has been a member “since day one” and has sent the group’s administrators her “good wishes”.

One administrator of the group, Angie Stack, shared a JC interview in which Sir Keir declared that Israel “is not an apartheid state”. In response, a member wrote: “Israelis have recreated the genocide inflicted upon them by the Nazis [while] the whole world turns a blind eye.”

Another member posted an edited image of Sir Keir in front of an Israeli flag alongside a fake quote that reads: “We stand up for Israel, we stand up for Israeli people, we stand up for Israeli interests and we will always put them first.”

Stack wrote: “This just goes to prove that [Sir Keir] has been well bought and paid for, by a foreign government!”

In a separate post, another member, John Bernard, attacked the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), branding the charity “unhinged Zionists” and claiming the group was “almost certainly a venture funded from Tel Aviv”.

The CAA and other “proxy Israeli agencies” such as the Community Security Trust “exaggerated” antisemitism within the Labour Party to “assassinate” Corbyn, he claimed.

Another individual wrote: “[Sir Keir] has been bought and paid for by the Zionists in the party”, while a post from member Tony James claiming Jews do not suffer racism, merely “prejudice”, received hundreds of likes. “Why are Jewish people regarded as a race?… To stifle criticism of the actions of Israel,” James wrote.

CUNY Faculty Union Endorses Brooklyn Councilman Who Called Gaza Strip ‘Death Camp’
The sole public sector union representing City University of New York (CUNY) professors has endorsed the reelection campaign of New York City Council member Charles Barron (D), who for years has been accused by lawmakers and advocacy groups from across the ideological spectrum of promoting antisemitism and associating with antisemitic hate groups.

“The PSC is proud to endorse Charles Barron for New York City Council District 42,” the Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY), which represents over 30,000 faculty and staff, tweeted on Friday.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Barron, who represents over 160,000 residents of East New York and East Flatbush in Brooklyn, has said that Israel should never have been created, called the Gaza strip a “death camp,” and asserted that the Jewish people are not genuine Jews, arguing, as Kanye West did late last year, that African Americans are. Additionally Barron has close ties to the Nation of Islam (NOI), a notorious purveyor of antisemitism going back decades. The group’s New York chapter honored him as “Man of the Year,” the ADL said.

In June, Barron was one of just six New York City Council members who voted against a resolution establishing April 29 as “End Jew Hatred Day.” In justifying the vote, he accused Israel of “murdering Palestinian women and children and stealing the land of people in Palestine” and charged that Jewish leaders “supported apartheid and racist South Africa and said nothing about African people dying.”

PSC CUNY’s endorsement of Barron comes amid mounting concern that the City University of New York system is a hotbed of antisemitism and fosters an environment that is hostile to Jewish and non-Jewish faculty who support Israel.

Currently, six CUNY professors are suing in federal court to sever all ties to PSC CUNY, from which they resigned after it passed a resolution during Israel’s May 2021 war with Hamas which declared solidarity with Palestinians and accused the Jewish state of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and crimes against humanity. However, professors remain in PSC’s bargaining unit, which, they argue, is coercive and denies their right to freedom of speech and association by forcing them to engage with an organization they claim holds antisemitic views.

263 other professors and staff have resigned from the union as well, according to the website of the Resign.PSC campaign, which accuses the body of having “violated its mandate” by weighing in on a contentious political issue.

What Do Canadian High School Students Know About Israel & The Jewish People? A Fireside Chat With Cindy Tobias & Jennifer Feldman, High School Teachers & Pro-Israel Educators
The end of June marks the start of summer, as well as the end of the academic year for high school students across Canada. Many of these high school graduates will then pursue further education in college or university, while others will enter the workforce.

Regardless of whether they will be heading to higher education or into the world, what will these graduates know about Israel and the Jewish People? Will they leave high school informed or ignorant, tolerant or intolerant – with social media usage – which sometimes features anti-Israel disinformation – nearly ubiquitous in this age bracket, are 14 to 17-year-olds more or less susceptible to antisemitism?

To help shine a light on current trends, and how education can best be used to set the record straight among high school students, we are joined this week by two high school educators, Cindy Tobias, and Jennifer Feldman, both active leaders in helping to bring Israel and Jewish education, both to students and to their peers in the teaching profession.

Major Jewish groups leave Combat Antisemitism Movement after video blaming ‘woke-ism’ for antisemitism
Two major U.S. Jewish groups have at least temporarily exited a coalition called the Combat Antisemitism Movement after it published a video blaming the recent rise in antisemitism on “woke ideology.”

Combat Antisemitism, which presents itself as a broad-based, nonpartisan coalition fighting bigotry, removed the video from its website this week, as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a national liberal public policy group, and Jewish Federations of North America both criticized it.

Those groups’ criticism followed questions by Arno Rosenfeld, a journalist at the Forward who has reported on the Combat Antisemitism Movement’s origins and funding and first reported the groups’ exit from the movement. On Friday, Rosenfeld called attention to the video, which was first published in early June, pointing out on Twitter that it condemns not only anti-Israel activity but also progressive ideas about race and class as fueling antisemitism.

“How does woke-ism, an ideology which purportedly calls for diversity, equity and inclusion, fan the flames of antisemitism?” asks the video, a copy of which the Forward has posted. “It’s not complicated once you truly understand the foundations of woke-ism.”

It then embarks on an explanation, arguing that proponents of “woke-ism” separate society into the oppressed and oppressors, putting Jews in the latter category and rendering them as legitimate targets.

“It was deeply disturbing and concerning,” Amy Spitalnick, the JCPA CEO, told the Forward on Tuesday. “The video suggested progressivism, and certain progressive communities, are inherently antisemitic.”

JFNA temporarily removed its name from a list of partners on Friday after Combat Antisemitism did not immediately pull the video, a spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The New York Times's bias against Jews is showing
A.G. Sulzberger, the New York Times’s publisher, knows his paper’s reporting on New York’s Hasidic yeshivas troubles members of the Jewish community. Still, Sulzberger has twice misrepresented those concerns. In an article for the Columbia Journalism Review and then an interview with the New Yorker, Sulzberger claimed critics accept the reporting as true but worry about its misuse. Sulzberger added, “We heard from countless members of the community saying, ‘We needed this.’”

Yet interviews with 34 people, including yeshiva graduates, yeshiva parents, and education scholars, illuminated deep flaws in the reporting, both because of what it includes and what it excludes. Several people called it “cartoonish” or “a caricature." And it’s doubtful that “countless members” of the Hasidic community applauded the series.

Consider that when the New York State Education Department solicited public input about proposed regulations for nonpublic schools in 2019, it received 140,000 comments, with “the overwhelming majority ... opposed.” Another round of proposed regulations generated 350,000 comments last year, and “the vast majority” opposed new regulations.

Yochonon Donn, a columnist for Mishpacha news magazine and weekly newspaper Yated who teaches writing at two Brooklyn yeshivas, rightly observes New York’s fight over yeshivas echoes the one that animated Virginia’s last gubernatorial race. Yeshiva parents believe they know what’s best for their own children, but the New York Times disagrees.

The newspaper covered elected officials’ “grave concerns” and the New York State Board of Regents adopting proposed regulations after the first yeshiva article appeared last September. Yet, the yeshiva series never featured the story of New York Supreme Court Justice Christina Ryba hobbling NYSED’s plans to regulate yeshivas in March.

The New York Times also weakens its case by leaning into tropes, including those about Jewish power. For example, the New York Times repeatedly charges Hasidic people with maintaining the status quo through “cohesive" bloc voting and “outsized political clout,” thereby intimidating politicians.
To France24’s Laila Odeh, civilian victims meet their “death” but murderers “ascend”
In yesterday’s case as in several previous ones, Odeh also distinguished between the murderers – whose death she labeled “ascension” or “martyrdom” – and their victims, who are simply “dead” or at best “were killed.” Similarly, during a round of fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in May 2019, Odeh differentiated between the “martyrdom of seven Palestinians in Gaza” (three of them combatants, including two PIJ members) and the “death of an Israeli settler in Ashkelon.” That “dead settler” was Moshe Agadi, 58, a father of four, from Ashkelon, a town on the Israeli side of the “Green Line,” indicating Odeh views all Israelis as “settlers.”

France24’s management was made aware of its Jerusalem correspondent’s social media record several months ago, but, after a brief suspension pending an investigation, chose to reinstate her even without an apology or retraction of her posts. Having done so, France’s publicly-owned international broadcaster now pretends that Odeh is capable of functioning as a balanced observer of the conflict, as though her extremist views on the subject will not affect her coverage.

But this premise was disproven once again following yesterday attack, as Odeh rationalized the murder of the four Israeli civilians while speaking with the studio in Paris:
“We know that the West Bank settlements are illegitimate settlements, according to international law. Therefore, naturally, this settlement [‘Eli] where approximately five thousand settlers live, is among these illegitimate settlements. Therefore, it seems that three Palestinian perpetrators headed out to execute this targeted operation, according to [Israeli] channel 13”

Unsurprisingly, in typical France24 fashion, Odeh’s legitimizing of terrorism was picked up and echoed in the comment section of the YouTube version of Odeh’s video. Of the 14 comments, 12 expressed support for the attack and celebrated the murder of civilians.
Guardian adopts terminology of Palestinian terrorists
The article by Lynfield was oddly titled “Israeli forces launch helicopter raid on Jenin in occupied West Bank“, despite the text making clear that the IDF attack helicopter was narrowly used in a rescue operation during the raid to evacuate the injured Israelis soldiers.

Regarding the casualties, Lynfield writes:
The dead Palestinians were identified as Ahmed Saqr, 15, Qassam Abu Saraya, 29 who was claimed as a fighter by Islamic Jihad, Khaled Asasa, 21 and Qais Jabareen, 21.

Seven Israeli soldiers and militarised border police sustained light to moderate injuries, according to an army spokesperson.

However, at least three of the Palestinians killed during the fighting (including the 15 year old) were claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad – not one, as Lynfield maintains.

Later in the piece, Lynfield writes that “one hundred and twenty-three Palestinians and at least 21 Israelis have died, according to the Associated Press”, ignoring research showing that the overwhelming majority of slain Palestinians were terrorists or males involved in violent clashes when they were killed. Further, the Guardian omits the fact that all but one of the twenty-one Israelis killed were civilians.

The second piece published yesterday (“Palestinian journalists under fire in Jenin while covering Israeli raid”) was an embedded Guardian YouTube video. The video wasn’t narrated, but did show text, including the following:

Describing Palestinians fighting Israeli soldiers as the “resistance” parrots the terminology used by terrorist groups themselves, and contrasts with the Guardian’s common use of the term “militants” in such situations. In fact, the same term is used in the strap line for the video piece appearing on the Guardian’s Israel page:
Finally, as we suspected, none of the three pieces devoted to the violence in Jenin noted that, during the fighting, Palestinian gunmen fired from inside a mosque.
People can’t decide if the Telegraph’s twitter logo looks like the Nazi flag
One is the symbol of a regime that killed millions and the other is a profile pic of a British newspaper’s Twitter accounts for breaking news and politics, but despite the obvious differences, some people have struggled to tell which is which.

Earlier this week, the Telegraph politics Twitter account, followed by nearly 65,000 people, drew attention for its red, white, and black profile picture, which featured the Telegraph logo in a white square on a red background.

The design, which has been used on Telegraph social media accounts for over 5 years, came to Twitter’s attention after a tweet of an article entitled ‘How Gordon Brown added £270 a year to your mortgage payments’ went viral.

The profile pic of the @telepolitics account was immediately compared to a swastika by several people on Twitter, with Jewish influencer Hen Mazzig holding a poll on his Twitter account asking his 90,000 followers to decide whether the alleged similarities to the Nazi flag were intentional or not.

After 15 hours, the poll was evenly split 49.9% to 50.1% in favour of it being a deliberate move.

Others pointed out that both the Nazis and the Telegraph used the same colour red in their designs leading to further comparisons between the broadsheet paper and the regime of Adolf Hitler.

Josh Zitser, a senior news reporter at Insider, tweeted “It’s giving” with a side-by-side comparison of the Telegraph logo and a Nazi swastika.

Senate resolution urges widespread adoption of IHRA definition
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and four co-sponsors introduced a resolution on June 15 “unequivocally” condemning antisemitism and praising the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

Sens. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) co-sponsored the resolution stating that the IHRA definition is “a valuable tool for identifying and combating acts of antisemitism in all its manifestations.” The resolution encourages federal, state and local government entities, as well as academic institutions, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders to adopt the IHRA definition.

Morton A. Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, praised the resolution in a statement, particularly after the White House national strategy to counter antisemitism said U.S. President Joe Biden “‘welcomes and appreciates as a valuable tool’ the dangerous ‘Nexus’ definition of antisemitism.”

“It explicitly states that the government at all levels should ‘exclusively utilize the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,’” Klein said of the new resolution. “Supporting BDS is antisemitism. Proclaiming victory when the administration muddies the waters on this exact point is counterproductive and delusional.”

Daniel Pollak, ZOA director of government relations, also praised the bill. “The only thing missing in this resolution so far are Democratic co-sponsors,” he stated. “ZOA will be working hard to get the many Democratic senators who should agree with this resolution to support it.”
New Antisemitism Statistics from Germany’s Most Populous State Worry Officials, Jewish Leaders
A new report detailing more than 250 antisemitic attacks in Germany’s most populous state during 2022 “confirms the perception of the Jewish community that Jews are confronted with antisemitism almost every day,” according to a senior Jewish communal official.

The report on antisemitic incidents in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) — Germany’s most densely populated, home to 18 million people — disclosed that 264 outrages involving Jews were recorded during 2022. Compiled by RIAS, a government-funded body monitoring antisemitism, the report — the first to be published on the situation in NRW — stressed that four of the incidents involved “extreme violence.”

Jörg Rensmann, head of the RIAS regional office in NRW, told local media outlets that the report made clear “that antisemitism is a terrible social reality in NRW.”

He added that antisemitism “expresses itself in numerous manifestations and goes hand in hand with a real endangerment and threat to those affected.”

In addition to the acts of violence, the report recorded five assaults, six threats, nine mass antisemitic letters and more than 200 instances of abusive behavior.

“The number of 264 incidents published by RIAS NRW is shockingly high and confirms the perception of the Jewish community that Jews are confronted with antisemitism almost every day,” Olga Rosow, Deputy Administrative Director and Head of the Social Department of the Jewish Community in Düsseldorf, told the Judische Allgemeine news outlet.

Statistics recorded by the German government in 2023 revealed a total of 2,639 antisemitic offenses recorded throughout the year, including a rise in the number of violent crimes targeting Jews from 63 in 2021 to 88 in 2022.

‘Proud to Represent Israel and The Arab Community’: Israeli Arab Beach Soccer Team Makes History By Winning Euro Championship
The Falfala beach soccer club from the Israeli Arab town of Kfar Qassem on Sunday became the first Israeli team to win the Euro Winners Cup after beating Italy’s Lenergy Pisa 5-3 in the finals of the championship held this year in Portugal.

The victory came after the team’s 9-2 over France’s Marseille in the quarterfinals of the Euro Winners Cup and a 4-2 win over Spain’s Huelva in the semifinals. The Israeli team held the lead twice in the finals against Italy with goals by Swiss goalkeeper Eliott Mounoud but Pisa each time managed to level the score. A penalty goal by Falfala’s captain and defender Amer Yatim is what ended the game in Israel’s favor.

“This is an unforgettable moment for us, a dream come true,” said Yatim, as reported by Ynet. “We’re very proud to represent Israel and the Arab community. We made history … This is the result of hard work that took many years, and it paid off for us. Every year we prepare, try to do our best, and we were successful this time.”

His teammate, forward Ahmad Gabarin Jabareen, added: “No words can describe the feeling of winning the Euro Winners Cup. It wasn’t easy; but those who believe make it. In the finals, we said there was no turning back, we played against a strong team.”

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog congratulated the team on its historic win in a Hebrew-language Twitter post where he also called their victory “an impressive effort and an impressive achievement in a special sport.” He added, “Kfar Qassem is on the map!”

The Falfala team, established in 2007, has now won six championships. It has participated in three Euro Winners Cup tournaments and reached the match before the quarterfinals three times, according to Ynet. The team finished third place in the European championship last year.
First-of-its-kind delegation sends IDF officers to U.K. to learn about Diaspora Jewry
A group of 63 Israel Defense Forces officers returned to Israel on Monday following a first-of-its-kind eight-day delegation to London as part of a new joint initiative organized by the military, the Gesher organization, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry and AMI – the National Alliance Strengthening Israelis’ Connection to World Jewry.

“We’re used to going abroad and telling people, ‘This is why Israel matters, so come donate, come support us, come help lobby for us,’” Shlomit Mali, the CEO of AMI, who led the delegation, told eJewishPhilanthropy on Wednesday. “This was the opposite: We didn’t come to tell, we came to listen.”

While there are a growing number of initiatives to bring Israeli leaders to Diaspora communities, this trip represented the first such delegation made up solely of IDF officers. Mali said the vast majority of the participants – 56 of 63 – held the rank of major, while the different groups that the delegation was broken up into were each led by a lieutenant colonel. A number of more senior officers, including a brigadier general, also participated in the delegation.

The delegation was funded jointly by the IDF, through the Defense Ministry budget, and AMI – the National Alliance Strengthening Israelis’ Connection to World Jewry, which is itself jointly funded by the Israeli government and private philanthropy, primarily the Maimonides Fund and the William Davidson Foundation.

Mali said this delegation was a pilot program with plans to expand the initiative to potentially eight trips each year by IDF officers to Jewish communities around the world. The organizers specifically chose to open this type of trip to majors because they are still “connected to the ground,” with regular contact with rank-and-file soldiers, “but they are also on track to hold higher ranks,” Mali said.
India’s Bnei Menashe community in crisis as ethnic violence burns synagogues and displaces hundreds
For the past several years, life was good for Lalam Hangshing as president of the Bnei Menashe Council, the governing body for Jewish communities in the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram.

While living at his parents’ house, he and his wife enjoyed the clean air and beautiful scenery of Manipur, a state in northeast India home to close to 3 million people. Miles away, Hangshing rented out a newly-built four-story home to a film production company.

Everything changed on May 3, when rioting broke out between the ethnic majority Meiteis and the tribal minority Kukis, a violent conflagration that had been building up for years. Local groups say Meiteis began targeting Kuki institutions and razing homes to the ground, and Hangshing — also the general secretary of a Kuki-led political party — feared his house was next.

“When the problems started on the third of May, with military precision, the mobs went straight to [Kuki] houses,” Hangshing said. “They ransacked them and vandalized them and they burned each and every house in Imphal city within one and a half days.”

According to Shavei Israel, an NGO that helps “lost tribe” Jewish communities immigrate to Israel, over 1,000 members of the community, or 20% of their total, have been displaced. One community member was killed, and another was shot in the chest and is hospitalized. Two synagogues and mikvahs, or ritual baths, were burned down.

Hangshing is Kuki, as are the thousands of other Bnei Menashe Jews in Manipur. On May 4, Hangshing left his home and over a month later, has yet to return.

He spoke with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Delhi, more than 1,000 miles from his home. His four-story house has been completely destroyed, but his parents’ home is somehow still standing. He worries about family possessions, such as religious books belonging to his father — who had helped found Manipur’s Jewish community — and a favorite set of golf clubs left behind, all in danger of being looted or destroyed any day now.

Another estimated 292 Bnei Menashe families have fled to Kuki-majority hill areas within Manipur or to the nearby state of Mizoram, according to Shavei Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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