Friday, June 30, 2023

From Ian:

Kuntzel questions myth of ‘antisemitic backlash’ in the Arab world
It is commonly assumed – in fact it has become dogma in academic and political circles – that antisemitism in Arab countries was a backlash to the creation of Israel. Now in his new book Nazis, Islamic antisemitism and the Middle East, the German political scientist Matthias Kuntzel produces new evidence that the 1948 war against Israel was a consequence of widespread Nazi propaganda in the Arab world. For the first time, the 1937 pamphlet Islam and Judaism constructed a link between Muhammed’s confrontation with the Jews of Medina and the conflict in Palestine. This, coupled with six years of poisonous anti-Jewish Nazi radio propaganda beamed to the Arab world, and the rising influence of the Nazi-inspired Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, created a continuity between the Nazi war against the Jews and the Arab war against Israel. See his article in Fathom: Mattthias Kuntzel

Why then is the role of Nazi propaganda and Nazi policies largely ignored in debates on the roots of antisemitism in the Middle East? A plausible hypothesis is that this pattern of omission reflects a desire to protect a proposition that is accepted as dogma in many academic circles: the idea that Israel, i.e. Jews, bears sole responsibility not only for the war in 1948, but also the antisemitism in the region. Claims such as ‘The spread of antisemitism in the Arab-Islamic world is the consequence of the Palestine conflict’ are widespread.

From this paradigm, numerous Middle East experts derive mitigating circumstances for Arab antisemitism. ‘Is the fantasy-based hatred of the Jews that was and still is typical of European racists … the equivalent of the hatred felt by Arabs enraged by the occupation and/or destruction of Arab lands?’, is the rhetorical question of the British-Lebanese anti-Zionist Gilbert Achcar. ‘Arab antisemitism, in contrast to European anti-Semitism, is at least based on a real problem, namely the marginalization of the Palestinians,’ insists German Islam researcher Jochen Müller.

This paradigm, which distinguishes between a Nazi-like European antisemitism and an ‘at least’ understandable hatred of Jews in the Middle East, hides the Nazi influence on the image of Jews held by many Muslims in the Middle East. And it has political consequences: the basic assumption that antisemitism in the Arab-Islamic world is merely a response to Israel and can therefore be downplayed as a kind of local custom is one of the foundations of German and European Middle East policy and may be one of the reasons why the latter refuses to decisively combat the Jew-hatred of, for example, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime.

It is, however, necessary to understand how strongly modern Middle East history is shaped by the aftermath of National Socialism. Only then will we be able to properly understand and adequately counter the antisemitism in this region and its echo among Muslims in Europe and address the political realities of the Middle East realistically and effectively.
The United States: An example of how to not combat antisemitism - opinion
BREAKING DOWN the report points to several underlying flaws.

First, as British columnist Melanie Phillip pointed out several years ago, even when condemning antisemitism, politicians and intellectuals feel the compunction to condemn “Islamophobia” and “all forms of racism” at the same time and in the same sentence.

This politically correct refusal to acknowledge the uniqueness of antisemitism (and the overwhelming preponderance of antisemitism, above and beyond all other hatreds including anti-Muslim hatred) demonstrates precisely that Jew-hatred. “People can’t stand the uniqueness of antisemitism because they can’t stand the uniqueness of the Jewish people,” says Phillip.

Second, the issue of antisemitism manifesting as mere anti-Zionism remains a flash point. As Prof. Eugene Kontorovich pointed out in rigorously erudite testimony given last week to the subcommittee on global health, global human rights, and international organization of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, referencing the Nexus document is an outrage. That document justifies double standards against Israel, while purveying the illusion that antisemitism is only such when it presents as pure unreasoned Jew-hatred or as stereotypes and “tropes.”

But this is demonstrably not true. Accusations leveled against Israel often resemble those made by antisemites throughout history. Kontorovich: “Instead of the Jews being accused of killing Gentile children, Israel is accused of deliberately killing Palestinian children; instead of Jews being accused of causing plague among Gentiles, Israel is accused of causing disease among Palestinians.

“And the accusation of ‘apartheid’ is a modern blood libel – an absurd ‘Big Lie,’ but inciteful in ways that cannot be rectified by mere refutation. Just as the classic blood libel resonated with the theological preoccupations of earlier ages, today’s claims resonate with the ethnic justice concerns of our times. That in our times several members of Congress can level such libels against the Jewish State without facing sanctions from their party demonstrates how dangerous ‘polite’ antisemitism is.”

The writer Peter Savodnik delves even deeper into this: “The American left has stumbled into the bottomless rage of identity politics,” he says. “They have embraced the new racial-gender taxonomy, which reimagines thousands of years of Jewish history into a wokified diorama. Today, the Arab-Israeli conflict can only be seen through this flattening prism, with Israel playing the role of the white, colonial settler and the Palestinian that of the settler’s dark-skinned, indigenous victim.”

“By squeezing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the Procrustean Bed of left-wing identitarianism, the new progressives have alienated the Jew, who for the most part remains attached to the Jewish State, from the American body politic. By transforming the Jewish State into a force for evil, they have forced the Jew to defend that attachment. They have created a space separating the Jew from America, and, in that space, they have legitimized violence against the Jew for defending the indefensible: Israel’s supposed apartheid, colonialism, white supremacy, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.”

IN SHORT, by dancing around this core issue, namely that Israel is the focal point for much contemporary antisemitism from the Left and its intersectional allies, the Biden administration’s strategy is far less than it seems.

Third, because of the above problematics, one must wonder whether government-led programs help or hinder the fight against antisemitism. US presidential historian Tevi Troy details (in an enlightening essay in National Affairs magazine) Bush W., Trump, and Biden administration initiatives in this regard, reaching the conclusion that caution is warranted. These initiatives tend to create unwanted and unintended consequences.

“Sometimes an organization designed to address the problem ends up exacerbating it. The UN Human Rights Council, in which human rights abusers routinely condemn democratic nations, is a paradigmatic example of his phenomenon.”

The Biden administration strategy relies heavily on existing government-enabled diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to address root causes and promote anti-hate education. This is a worrisome development given that some DEI offices are more likely to house antisemitism than to combat it. A Heritage Foundation study of the social media patterns of 800 campus DEI officers found that they tended to reflect a level of hostility toward Israel that went far beyond policy disagreement and often descended into antisemitism.
Russia’s remaining Jews must leave
Enter (of course!) the Jews. Prior to the advent of the Nazis in Germany, Russia had the entirely justified reputation as the most antisemitic country on earth, subjecting its segregated Jewish population to gruesome pogroms and vile, demonizing propaganda. The hatred ran so deep that it even impacted Imperial Russia’s relations with the United States, when, in 1911, President William H. Taft abrogated a long-standing friendship treaty after the Russians announced that American citizens belonging to the Jewish faith were banned from entering their country.

A painful collapse of Putin’s regime could yet revive and unleash these historic forces. In the last week, the two Jewish clerics carrying the title of “Chief Rabbi of Ukraine” (the fruit of an unresolved 2005 intra-communal dispute) have warned that “pogroms” and violence could yet be the lot of Russia’s remaining Jews, urging them to get out as soon as possible.

The message of both rabbis to their Russian brethren was simply this: Whichever way this situation plays out, it’s going to be very bad for you. “I didn’t have a platform for this, I just tried to tell them through social networks: get out of there, because it might be too late,” Rabbi Moshe Azman reflected on his efforts to reach the Jews of Russia in an interview with a Ukrainian outlet. Separately, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich opined that Putin’s much-vaunted philosemitism may be a phantom. “Putin has been president or prime minister in Russia for 23 years. Over the years, he expelled 16 rabbis from Russia,” Rabbi Bleich observed in his interview. “As Putin says that he loves Jews so much, I have a question: If you love Jews, why have this attitude towards rabbis and towards the community? Why is there often such antisemitism from the Russian authorities?”

In Israel, the discussion about whether to ferry Russia’s remaining Jews to their ancient homeland has picked up steam following Prigozhin’s abortive mutiny. Last week, Israel’s Channel 13 reported on a leaked document that discussed the possibility of a “large wave of immigration from Russia,” along with the need to “prepare for it while guaranteeing the proper functioning of Jewish and Israeli institutions in Russia.”

Meanwhile, in Israel’s parliament, opposition Knesset member Oded Forer, chairman of its Absorption and Diaspora Affairs committee, called on the Jewish Agency, which is confronting a legal effort by the Russian authorities to shutter its operations in their country, “to prepare an array of dedicated airplanes” to bring Russian Jews to Israel “before it’s too late.”

The coming weeks and months will be a test of the Israeli government’s commitment in this regard. It should be mindful of Israel’s rich history of advocating for and rescuing beleaguered Jewish communities in Yemen, Ethiopia, and, of course, the Soviet Union. Because the time for the Jews to leave Russia is finally upon us.

British Government Introduces Legislation Banning Anti-Israel Boycotts: A Move Canada Should Emulate
In mid-June, the British government introduced a bill that, if passed by Parliament, would ban local councils across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales from passing anti-Israel boycott resolutions. The bill has received support from the British government’s Jewish community but is being actively opposed by anti-Israel groups, who are pressuring their local Members of Parliament (MPs) to oppose the legislation.

Despite opposition, the legislation marks an important step in holding local councils accountable for anti-Israel campaigns and is a step that Canada should follow.
Anger as Islamist hate cleric who praised Hitler for killing Jews allowed into UK
A hate preacher who said “Hitler did a good job on killing Jews in the Holocaust” was allowed to enter the UK for a lecture tour despite his history of extremism.

The Home Office is facing questions about why it granted entry to Bangladeshi cleric Enayet Ullah Abbasi for a speaking tour earlier this month.

He was only forced to cut short his visit after reports revealed that he had praised the September 11 hijackers and a series of venues where he was due to speak withdrew.

Now further details of the violent rhetoric espoused by Abbasi, a prominent figure in Bangladesh where he draws large crowds, can be revealed including a series of vile antisemitic statements about Jews.

The JC has unearthed a video of speech he made in Bangladesh last year in which Abbasi told his supporters: “Hitler did a good job on behalf of humanity.”

He added: “In Europe, he sized down a huge number of Jews, nearly seven million.”

In the Bengali-language speech, translated by the JC, he went on: “If these [Jews] remained, then living in this world would not be possible, is this correct or not?

“Through the Holocaust, he killed nearly seven million Jews. This was the Jews’ deserving.”

He added: “These Jews’ numbers are reducing. Research has shown that their reproduction capacity is reducing…Who then bombed their reproduction capacity? Was it us - they call us Muslims terrorists anyway - no, this is God’s curse.”

In another speech he also attacked Israel, warning Jews to leave the country, saying: “Beware Jews, Palestine is the land of Muslims. Palestine is not your kingdom. I tell you Jews, get out of the holy land of Palestine and if you don’t, remember the story of the invasion of Khaybar.”
Irish MP accuses Israel of 'sports washing' after new coach hire
Mark Ward, a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála in Ireland's parliament, accused Israel of "sports washing" after Maccabi Tel Aviv hired former Irish soccer player Robbie Keane as head coach this week.

Keane, who retired in 2016, will serve as Maccabi Tel Aviv FC's new head coach for two years and is set to arrive in Israel soon to begin preparations.

During his career as a player, Keane scored more than 300 goals for the clubs he played for including Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United, Liverpool, Coventry City, West Ham, Aston Villa as well as the Republic of Ireland where he is the most capped player and top goal scorer. Keane was appointed as first-team coach at Leeds United towards the end of last season and has previously been an assistant at both Middlesbrough and the Republic of Ireland National Team.

"It was deeply disappointing to see former Irish international soccer player Robbie Keane go to manage Maccabi Tel Aviv," said Ward in response to Keane's hire. "My concern is that this move is another attempt at sports washing. When people of the stature of Robbie Keane ply trade in Israel, it is an attempt to gloss over and legitimize the apartheid regime."

"Robbie said in [an] interview that he was going to Israel for sporting reasons. This is no consolation to the family of Omar Abu, a [soccer player] for Turmus Aya, who was killed only last [week].

Kim Kardashian broke down in tears during Kanye's antisemitic meltdown
Kim Kardashian has broken down in tears after Kanye West made a string of antisemitic outbursts.

West was widely criticised for his string of antisemitic outbursts in a series of offensive incidents late last year. In a series of tirades that saw the rapper lose endorsement deals with Adidas, Balenciaga and Gap, he made a series of threats, saying he would go "death con three" on Jews.

During an interview with US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, he also praised Adolf Hitler and admitted he "sees good things" in the Nazi leader.

At the time, Kardashian as well as several of her family members issued statements indirectly condemning his behaviour.

Khloe Kardashian was the first member of the reality-famous family to take a stand against the US rapper’s anti-Jew rants.

The reality TV star reposted to her quarter of billion followers an Instagram graphic produced by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of the sitcom creator, which read: “I support my Jewish friends and the Jewish people.” which was subsequently

West’s ex-wife recorded a short clip for an upcoming episode of the reality show, The Kardashians. In the clip which was published last night, Kim is seen crying into the arms of her sister Khloe Kardashian.
Insight on Ye’s antisemitic media campaign revealed in BBC documentary
The former billionaire hip-hop mogul who set global media ablaze last year with a multi-month spree of antisemitic and pro-Hitler statements apparently believed that his loud declarations of bigotry would propel him into the oval office.

In a new documentary from the BBC that aired Wednesday titled “The Trouble with KanYe,” Alex Klein offered new insights into why “Ye” (Kanye West) may have chosen his hateful path.

Klein had worked with Ye on the “Donda” album, creating the rapper’s “Stem Player.” After the loud defenses of the Nazis, Klein chose to end the professional relationship, prompting a reaction of rage. Klein said that, “Kanye was very angry” and that “He was saying, ‘I feel like I wanna smack you,’ and ‘You’re exactly like the other Jews’—almost relishing and reveling in how offensive he could be, using these phrases hoping to hurt me.”

Klein asked Ye in the conversation, “Do you really think Jews are working together to hold you back?”

The musician, currently estimated to be worth $410 million after once reaching wealth as high as $2.5 billion, responded, “Yes, yes, I do, but it’s not even a statement that I need to take back because look at all the energy around me right now. Without that statement, I wouldn’t become president.”

BBC finally ends under-reporting on Syrian drug trafficking
According to Nader, work on this report and the accompanying filmed documentary has been going on “[o]ver the past year”. One must therefore wonder why as recently as last month readers of BBC content were still being told that “[g]rowing poverty and lack of job opportunities saw many turn to the drug trade”.

Now that the BBC has finally reported on this issue, it is clearly time for it to update its profile of Hizballah which has been left dormant for over seven years.

How the work of a celebrated artist killed by a Nazi mysteriously ended up in Israel
On May 19, 2001, three Israeli agents entered an apartment on the second floor of Villa Landau in Drohobych, a regional city in western Ukraine’s Lviv Oblast. With rubber mallets and chisels, using what art conservators call the stacco method, they carefully removed from the walls of the property five fragments of murals which were then quickly moved across the border into Poland and loaded onto a jet bound for Israel.

The murals were painted during the Holocaust by Polish Jewish artist and writer Bruno Schulz, who was murdered by a Nazi in 1942 at the age of 50. At the time, Schulz was walking home toward the Drohobych Jewish Ghetto with a loaf of bread under his arm.

On the eve of World War II, Drohobych contained approximately 17,000 Jewish residents. There were only about 400 known Jewish survivors after the war. Today, there is no grave containing Schulz’s remains, as their location is unknown. Schulz’s fresco paintings are, however, on public display in Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

Literary biographer Benjamin Balint refers to the clandestine cultural repatriation project it took to get the frescoes to Israel as “Operation Schulz.” Balint claims the operation was carried out at the direct order of Avner Shalev, who served as chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate from 1993 until 2021.

“I got two off-the-record sources, from senior figures within Yad Vashem, who confirmed to me that Avner Shalev got the green light for Operation Schulz directly from then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon,” Balint tells The Times of Israel from his home in Jerusalem.

“My sources also said that the Mossad used bribes in this smuggling operation and that one of the three Israeli agents who went to Drohobych to carry out the mission was [allegedly] a former KGB [employee], Mark Shraberman — he made aliyah in the 1990s, emigrating from Ukraine to Israel, and became one of the chief archivists at Yad Vashem,” Balint says, using the Hebrew term for immigration to Israel.

Balint says he contacted both Shalev and Shraberman for interviews several times, but both declined to comment. The Israeli author elaborates on the complexities of this story in his new book “Bruno Schulz: An Artist, a Murder, and the Hijacking of History,” which was released in mid-April. The narrative draws on extensive new reporting, archival research, interviews conducted in Poland, Ukraine, and Israel, as well as scattered letters and memoirs.
Chabad opens Germany’s largest Jewish center since before WWII
Germany’s largest Jewish center since World War II and one of the largest of its kind in the world opened on Sunday in Berlin with a dedication ceremony that included diplomats and communal leaders from around the globe.

The Pears Jewish Campus, which covers over 80,000 square feet and cost $43.7 million to build, will be run by Berlin’s Chabad-Lubavitch community. By the next school year in the fall, all of the community’s current pupils — a reported 550 in all — will move out of their current locations around the city and into the new building.

The campus also features an indoor basketball court and gym that can double as a lecture or reception hall, a movie theater, a music studio and a kosher deli. The seven-story building, which is entirely open to the public, stands out like a sapphire situated on an otherwise typical Berlin street, with blue-glazed brickwork on a curved facade.

Local Chabad director Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was grateful to finally see the campus open after four years of construction that continued uninterrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s very beautiful, it’s a place for exchange,” he said. The idea is to “create awareness and knowledge of what Jewish life is about. It’s not just about fighting antisemitism. It has to be connected with positivity.”

“There are millions of Germans who don’t even know what Jews are,” he elaborated at Sunday’s ceremony. “Let’s have positive cooperation, face to face, through dialogue, through shared, positive, joyful, lively, future-oriented Jewish life.”
Austrian town honours Jewish doctor who returned after being expelled during Nazi era
A Jewish doctor who returned to care for the same Austrian townspeople who had expelled him during the Nazi era has been honoured with a plaque.

The memorial has been put up in Fischamend, a small town near Vienna airport, in memory of Dr Richard Winter, who was forced to leave the town in 1938 simply because he was a Jew.

Thomas Ram, the mayor and a former candidate for the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) before he left it to become an independent MP, said he welcomed the initiative.

He told a local newspaper: “This is exactly how good and sensible community politics should work, implementing good ideas together, free from party political disputes. Together, we have demonstrated how it can and should be done. Thank you to everyone involved.”

Dr Winter, born in 1897, was Fischamend’s respected doctor but the community turned on him after the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938. He was repeatedly beaten in public and even his girlfriend, a teacher, spat in his face.

He was eventually forced to leave the town and spent the Second World War in Kazakhstan, then in the Soviet Union.

He returned to Fischamend in 1947 and quietly resumed his medical practice from his house in Gregerstrasse, which is today the town hall.

He never referred to his ordeal and expulsion and continued looking after the town folk until he retired in 1963. He died in 1977.
Finnish far-right minister quits after controversies, alleged pro-Nazi comments
Finland’s new economic affairs minister Vilhelm Junnila, a member of the far-right Finns Party, announced his resignation Friday after only 10 days in office following an uproar over past alleged pro-Nazi remarks.

The resignation came just two days after Junnila, 41, survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on the issue, garnering 95 votes in favor and 86 against.

“Despite the confidence of the party and my parliamentary group… I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way,” Junnila said in a statement.

The vote was called by three opposition parties — the Left Alliance, the Greens and the Social Democrats — because of Junnila’s previous controversial statements and links to far-right movements.

Junnila has spoken at least at one event organized in 2019 by Kansallismielisten liittouma (Coalition of Nationalists), a far-right group with links to the anti-immigration group Soldiers of Odin.

He also joked during this year’s parliamentary elections about the election candidate number 88 being a reference to “Heil Hitler.”

In the 2015 legislative election, he campaigned under a “Gas!” slogan, which many interpreted as a reference to World War II gas chambers.
Psychologist: Pittsburgh synagogue shooter ‘hurt’ he didn’t receive a parade
The man convicted of killing 11 Jewish worshippers at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018 thought he acted heroically, Richard Rogers, a forensic psychologist, testified in federal court.

The death penalty is under consideration for Robert Bowers, now 50, whom Rogers evaluated over four days late last year.

Rogers said on June 29 that Bowers “also wanted medals” and that he was “blatantly psychotic.” Another forensic psychologist testified the prior day that the defendant was schizophrenic, had attempted suicide as a teenager and had been committed involuntarily.

Prosecutors insist that the massacre took significant time to plan and that Bowers made his intent explicit in wanting all Jews to die.

Dr. Siddhartha Nadkarni, a neuropsychiatrist with epilepsy expertise who analyzed Bowers for four hours, disagreed. “I don’t think he’s incapable of planning it out, but I think the reasons for planning it out are not reliable in his mind—in his brain,” he said.

Michael Williams, a Butler County Prison corrections officer, testified about his observations of Bowers’ behavior. The defendant does not have a cellmate and appears coherent in discussions. He watches a lot of news programs and seems to enjoy coverage of his trial, seeming to smirk when he sees it, Williams testified. Bowers seems not to like illegal immigration and is not on medication, he added.

Neo-Nazi charged with defacing Michigan synagogue
A white supremacist was arrested and indicted on Thursday for vandalizing synagogues in Michigan with Nazis symbols in a plan he and co-conspirators called “Operation Kristallnacht.”

Nathan Weeden, 23, was charged in federal court with conspiracy against rights, and damaging religious property, for the attacks on synagogues in 2019.

Weeden allegedly vandalized Temple Jacob in the Michigan town of Hancock, part of a campaign organized with co-conspirators Richard Tobin and Yousef Barasneh. Weeden was charged with defacing the synagogue with swastikas and symbols associated with “the Base,” a white supremacist group to which the men belonged.

The suspects, led by Tobin, discussed vandalizing property associated with Jews and Black Americans on an encrypted messaging platform.

They called the coordinated planned attack “Operation Kristallnacht,” the Department of Justice said. Kristallnacht, meaning “the night of broken glass,” was a 1938 Nazi program in Germany and Austria that heralded the start of the Holocaust.

Their goal was “to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate non-white and Jewish citizens of the United States,” and prevent their targets from exercising their constitutional rights.

Tobin told the others to “focus on broad anti-white elements,” including “jew businesses,” the indictment said.

Ben-Gurion Airport expected to break records this summer
Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport is preparing for record traffic this summer.

Israel’s Transportation and Road Safety Ministry reported that it expects more than 5.5 million passengers will pass through Israel in July-August 2023. Israel’s Airports Authority is preparing for the busiest summer season in Israel, which is expected to exceed the records recorded in 2019, before the global corona crisis.

In July, 2.7 million passengers are expected to pass through the airport on international flights, an increase of 4% over the 2019 record, while in August, the expected figure is 2.8 million.

The steps taken by the IAA in preparation for the summer include massive hiring and strengthening of all phases of passenger service—from the security check to boarding the plane—placing dedicated baggage handlers for spot handling of malfunctions and the full presence of managers in the field.

In addition, a “family patrol” will operate in the passenger halls and airport authority teams will facilitate the security check for families with children. Families with children will be able to send one representative to the check-in desks while the family can wait in one of the cafes throughout the terminal.
EL AL, Delta Airlines announce collaboration
Two airlines that were formally rivals on routes between Israel and the United States announced a "strategic cooperation" on Thursday.

El Al Israel Airlines and Delta Airlines announced they will offer more flight options between Tel Aviv and the US on flights operated by both airlines, beginning in early 2024. What will the partnership include?

According to El Al, the partnership will also offer expanded seat availability and a reciprocal frequent flyer agreement which will allow club members to earn and redeem points for both airlines.

"I am confident and convinced that you will enjoy the value that this collaboration will bring forth," El Al CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia said.

Delta’s Senior Vice President for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, Matteo Curcio, said, “Working closely with EL AL will further strengthen Delta’s connection to Israel by offering more customers unrivaled access to destinations across the US. Enhanced partnerships are integral to our long-term strategy to better connect Delta customers around the world.”
'Uniquely talented' Alan Arkin, passes away at 89
The “uniquely talented” Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin has died aged 89, his family has announced.

Arkin, a four-time Academy Award nominee whose career spanned more than six decades, appeared in dozens of films and TV shows including Little Miss Sunshine, Glengarry Glenross and BoJack Horseman.

The actor’s sons confirmed his death in a joint statement in which they paid tribute to their “adored” father, who they described as a “force of nature”.

The statement, shared with the US entertainment magazine People, read: “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed.”

Arkin was born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents and was raised in a secular family and later moved to LA. Although he was not religious, many of the characters he played shared his Jewish heritage.

It was his turn as the foul-mouthed, drug-using grandfather Edwin Hoover in the darkly comic 2006 hit Little Miss Sunshine that earned him an Oscar, for best-supporting actor, at the age of 72.

He was shortlisted again for the same award in 2013 for his performance in Ben Affleck’s best picture winner Argo.

His Oscars win came decades after his earlier nominations, for The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming in 1967 and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in 1969.
Israeli pop star Netta films her newest music video in the streets of Manhattan
Israeli pop star and Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, who goes by the stage name Netta, premiered a catchy new song on Wednesday. Its accompanying music video was filmed exclusively on the streets of New York City.

In the video for “Everything,” directed by Katie Paul, a dancer known for her dynamic work, Barzilai can be seen dancing and singing across Chinatown and Lower Manhattan — in the area close to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a landmarked Ashkenazi house of worship that opened in 1887 and is now a museum.

On Twitter, Barzilai described “Everything” as “a heartfelt song about the frustration of having someone in your life that is clearly sleeping on what a gem you are.”

In the video, Barzilai sings as she marches on Canal Street in a bright Tommy Hilfiger bomber jacket. She also dances on the road that approaches the Manhattan Bridge Arch and Collonade — wearing a sparkling pink outfit and silver shades — and dons a sheer green tulle dress while surrounded by dancers and skaters at the Les Coleman Skatepark that’s under the Manhattan Bridge.

Barzilai, who co-wrote “Everything” with Swedish pop star Zara Larsson, told the Israeli media that the song had been “sitting in her drawer for four years.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on myself, learning my value as both an artist and a human being, and waiting for the moment when I could come back to this song and whole-heartedly bring it to life,” the singer said in a press statement. “That moment is NOW and I am ready to share it with the world!”
Supreme Court ruling in Sabbath accommodation case has far-reaching consequences for observant Jews
In a case that drew support from a broad array of Jewish groups, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that employers had to show a “substantial” burden to deny workers religious accommodation.

In a decision released Thursday, the court sided with Gerald Groff, an evangelical Christian mail carrier who asked not to work on Sundays, his Sabbath. Jewish groups that do not often line up on the same side of church-state issues before the court were of a single voice in this case.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing the opinion, sought to substantially narrow a 1977 decision that faith groups have for years said is so broad in setting the standard for religious accommodation that it is meaningless.

“We think it is enough to say that an employer must show that the burden of granting an accommodation would result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of its particular business,” Alito said.

The previous decision had said that “to require TWA to bear more than a de minimis cost in order to give Hardison Saturdays off is an undue hardship.” (The now defunct airline in that case was the employer and Larry Hardison was the employee seeking the Sabbath off.) With this ruling “substantial” effectively replaces “de minimus,” or “minimal,” as the standard.

The decision will have far-reaching consequences for Orthodox Jews, said Mitchel Aeder, the Orthodox Union’s president.

“Members of our community require accommodations for Sabbath and holiday observance, times to pray, the ability to keep kosher, and the like,” he said in a statement. “Such accommodations enable us to be not only faithful Jews but productive workers and members of American society. That is why the Orthodox Union advocated to the Court in support of Mr. Groff and why we welcome this landmark ruling.”

A number of Orthodox groups filed amicus briefs last year. This year, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, civil rights groups that have often argued for church-state separations, also backed Groff in amicus briefs.

“Not every belief or practice can be accommodated, but experience has shown that with some effort and goodwill, most can,” Marc Stern, the AJC’s chief legal officer, said in an email. “The court’s insistence that hardship on employers means substantial hardship and not de minimis hardship, puts real teeth into the law.”

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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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