Wednesday, July 26, 2023

From Ian:

Lyn Julius: The distorted ‘nakba’ narrative
Israeli Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli is an angry man. Chikli, who has a history of being outspoken, has lately turned his sights on the German government. He has complained about inappropriate comparisons between the Holocaust and the Palestinian nakba—Arabic for “catastrophe.” Worse still, the German government has been sponsoring the dissemination of such comparisons.

Chikli’s complaint concerns a government-funded event in Potsdam at which German journalist Charlotte Wiedermann made the comparison in question. Wiedermann has denied doing so, but whether the allegation is true or false, the comparison has become increasingly common. It is now trendy to equate the industrialized murder of six million Jews to the displacement of Palestinian Arabs during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

This war was launched by seven Arab countries and resulted in the expulsion of every last Jew in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Arab League members then declared a second war against their own Jewish citizens, whom they branded “the Jewish minority of Palestine.” This resulted in the near-total destruction of ancient Jewish communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Ninety-nine percent of the regions’ Jews were forced to flee.

What angered Chikli the most was that the Potsdam event was officially sponsored by public institutions. Moreover, it was not the only event of its kind. It was part of a series of such events held in Berlin in recent months. These events included lectures with titles such as “Understanding the Pain of Others: The Holocaust and the Nakba,” “Hijacking the Memory of the Holocaust for the Benefit of Dehumanization in Palestine,” and “Zionism Can Also Motivate Antisemitism.”

This year, coinciding with Israel’s 75th anniversary, campaigners for the Palestinian cause have succeeded in moving the nakba from the margins to the mainstream. For the first time, the U.N. held a “Nakba Day” commemoration at its New York headquarters. Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, sporting a symbolic key affixed to his lapel, demanded permission to return to his native Safed, which is inside Israel proper.

Over 75 years, the meaning of the term nakba has evolved. It was popularized by the Syrian Christian journalist and historian Constantine Zureik. To him, the “catastrophe” in question was the Arab defeat in the 1948 war—that is, the Arab failure to destroy Israel.

Zureik wrote, “Seven Arab countries declare war on Zionism in Palestine. … Seven countries go to war to abolish the partition and to defeat Zionism, and quickly leave the battle after losing much of the land of Palestine—and even the part that was given to the Arabs in the Partition Plan.”

He concluded, “We must admit our mistakes … and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.”

MEMRI: Kuwaiti Journalist: We Teach Our Children To Hate The Jews As Their Enemies, But In Fact We Are Our Own Worst Enemies
In his May 16, 2023 column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, liberal Kuwaiti journalist Ahmad Al-Sarraf harshly criticized the curricula taught in Kuwaiti schools, which, he said, are replete with hostility for Jews and present them as enemies of Islam and the Muslims who must be eliminated. He decried the fact that the curricula focus on cursing the other instead of teaching critical thinking and promoting values of tolerance and freedom. The Arabs, he added, fail to realize that one of the reasons for the Jews' advantage over them is that the Jews focus on education and the acquisition of knowledge, rather than on cursing others, whereas the Arabs are their own worst enemies.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:[1]
"Reading some passages in one of the textbooks taught in our schools… I was reminded of the saying 'we showered [our enemies] with curses and they showered us with blows!' These passages show clearly that whoever writes [the Kuwaiti] curricula is completely out of touch with reality, or lives in an idealized world and is full of unlikely ambitions.

"Reading three of four pages of the textbook at random, we discover that, according to the educators who wrote it, the nation's major concern, which should be focused on, is hostility towards the Jews and the desire to eliminate them. But this is in fact rather embarrassing, for there are 400 million Arabs and a billion Muslims, and it is inconceivable that all of them should focus their energy and aspirations… on eliminating a state of six or seven million people.

"This is clearly a problem. Had the Education Ministry allowed to teach the subject of critical thinking in our schools, the students would have understood on their own how foolish this text is… In our present state of weakness, division and backwardness – medical, social, moral, industrial and financial -- our entire [Muslim] nation [together] would not be able to eliminate the state of Israel. [In fact,] some of the texts in our schoolbooks clarify [exactly] how our mentality differs from the mentality of those we wish to see as our enemies. Yet despite this, throughout the century they have spent in our midst, we have not managed to understand why they continue to beat us in every military and moral campaign!

"The texts our children learn in school teach them how to deal with the plots of the Jews, but we have forgotten that [we Arabs] plot against one another more than they [the Jews] plot against us. Our preoccupation with internal disputes is the greatest factor that strengthens them and weakens us, especially given that [our] curricula do not even address the issue of putting a stop to our disputes, accepting one another and ending our internal division and rifts… Without liberalism and freedoms we have no hope!

"Our curricula focus on the fact that the Jews' hostility towards Islam and the Muslims is ancient and deep-rooted, which is clearly a fallacy. And even if it is true, I do not believe for a moment that they devote as much attention as we do to this hostility, to thinking about it and teaching it in their curricula. Being wise, they devote their curricula to teaching progress in every domain, not to cursing the other…

"Our curricula focus on the narrative that the Jews are violators of treaties, which automatically implies that we are not. [But] that too is a lie that half our clever schoolboys and schoolgirls will find difficult to buy. The curricula also say that one of the Muslims' greatest duties is to defend Islam by observing its laws and boycotting the products of the enemy. That is the greatest irony and foolishness of all, as even a mediocre mind will realize. In short, we are our own enemies, far more than anyone else is our enemy…"
Putin Regime’s Actions ‘Made Rise of Antisemitism Inevitable,’ Russian Scholar Argues
Nearly eighteen months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there is a “palpable presence of antisemitic overtones” across the country’s political life that builds upon the “fertile ground” of historic “Soviet antisemitic and anti-Western campaigns,” according to a new assessment by a scholar of Russian Jewish history.

In an extensive article published earlier this month by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ksenia Krimer — a Russian citizen who is now a fellow at the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam, a research institute partially funded by the German government — traced the upsurge in antisemitic tropes inside Russia as President Vladimir Putin’s regime arrived on the cusp of open conflict with western nations as a result of the invasion.

Krimer, who obtained her PhD from the Central European University (CEU), argued that Putin’s “philosemitism” — his past expressions of support for both Israel and the Jewish community — was now an irrelevant consideration. In 2022, nearly 33,000 Russian Jews emigrated to Israel, a 400 percent increase on the previous year, according to the Israeli authorities.

“In 2023, it is no longer a question of whether Putin himself harbors antisemitic prejudices or not,” Krimer wrote. “The very logic of his regime and the forces it unleashed nationally and globally made the rise of antisemitism inevitable.”

There is now a “palpable presence of antisemitic overtones in political rhetoric, repressions, and everyday interactions,” Krimer added.

Among several examples she cited was a soldier’s manual published in 2022 with the approval of the Russian Ministry of Defense. Justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to those tasked with carrying it out, the manual claimed that “all power [in Ukraine] is concentrated in the hands of citizens of Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom. They orchestrated the genocide of the native inhabitants…Today, all of us, Russian Orthodox and Muslims, Buddhists and shamanists, are fighting against Ukrainian nationalism and the global Satanism that supports it.”

Zionism through the lens of US Jews
Zionism constitutes a pillar of Jewish life in America: Jewish communal institutions started supporting Israel since before its re-establishment as a state. Whether through collecting money in blue boxes for the Jewish National Fund, participating in Birthright trips, or protesting for the liberation of Soviet Jewry from "anti-Zionist" policies preventing their emigration, Jewish Americans have long held a strong bond with land and people of Israel.

The fight against antisemitism requires an understanding of the multifaceted nature of Jewish identity: American Jewish identity is not defined solely by notions of race, ethnicity, citizenship, or religious belief. American Jews feel deep connections to their heritage, a sense of peoplehood, and a relationship with their ancestral homeland. Zionism encompasses these elements, serving as an expression of deep seeded American and Jewish values. As Justice Brandeis reasoned over 100 years ago, "the highest Jewish ideals are essentially American," and "to be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists." To a supermajority of American Jews, Zionism lies at the heart of what it means to be Jewish and American.

This reality makes the increasing prevalence of antisemitism under the guise of "anti-Zionism" in campus lecture halls and "polite" society all the more troubling. On campuses from San Francisco State to the City University of New York – and too many more in between – young Jews increasingly face an environment where antisemitism (and anti-Zionism) is normalized, both online and in their classrooms, to a greater degree than their millennial predecessors. When students are unable to express their whole Jewish identity openly and authentically, that constitutes deep antisemitism.

The Biden plan makes it clear that Jews are being targeted for "their real or perceived views about the State of Israel," particularly on college campuses. They recognize the plight of Jewish students and provide statistics to back up the many anecdotes we have all heard over the years. Like us, the Biden Administration is deeply concerned that Jews are both unfairly judged and pay a high social price because of their connection with the Jewish state. The plan emphatically states, "When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism. And that is unacceptable." The plan also embraces the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism, which clearly links forms of anti-Zionist rhetoric with antisemitism. These are powerful words that are backed up by the strength of the United States government, and we hope they have the impact necessary to make Jewish students feel secure in their complete identity in classrooms and on campuses.

In the end, the US National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism is just that: a strategy. Now comes the time for implementation. We already see elements of the plan actualized and made actionable. As initiatives take shape, we are grateful that the United States government clearly laid out the fact that our American Jewish identity is intrinsically linked to and inseparable from our Zionism. By recognizing this reality, the federal government sends a powerful message of solidarity to the Jewish community, both domestic and abroad, while demonstrating American leadership in the global fight against Jew hatred.
‘An Important Step’: Panama Adopts IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
The Republic of Panama has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, drawing praise from Jewish leaders and groups in the US.

The Panamanian government held a ceremony commemorating the decision on Tuesday at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which foreign affairs minister Janaina Tewaney Mencomo delivered a resolution formally declaring the decision to Organization of American States (OAS) Commissioner to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Fernando Lottenberg.

The measure says, according to a Spanish language news outlet based in Tel Aviv, that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews that can be expressed as hatred of Jews” and that “the physical and rhetorical manifestations of antisemitism are directed at Jewish or non-Jewish persons and/or their property, the institutions of Jewish communities and their places of worship.”

Panama pledged to adopt the definition last September at the Central America-Israel Forum, an event organized by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) — a nonprofit that fights antisemitism across the globe — and held at the Latin American Parliament in Panama, to strengthen Israel’s relationship with Central American countries.

“This is an important step taken by the Panamanian Government, and one which will be vital in fighting antisemitism and hate,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman said on Wednesday in a press release. “Acceptance of the IHRA definition is continuing apace globally, almost a quarter of all nations have now accepted and adopted it, with hopefully more on the way.”
Cohen presses Israel’s position in African Union during Ghana visit
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met on Wednesday with President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and his Ghanaian counterpart Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey in Accra.

The meetings, focusing on strengthening Israel’s position within the African Union, come a day after Cohen opened the first Israel-Ghana business forum, with the participation of companies in the fields of water, agriculture and project development.

“The visit to Ghana is expected to deepen cooperation between the countries and in the international arena. Promoting international Israeli aid activity along with deepening relations with Ghana in the field of border security, water management and health,” according to a statement from Cohen’s office.

“Strengthening the ties between Israel and Africa will improve Israel’s international standing, promote the Israeli economy and help deal with the continent’s challenges,” added the missive.

Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana would “always be a friend of the State of Israel and we will support its position as an observer in the African Union.”

He added, “I warmly welcome the activity of Israeli companies in Ghana and we will continue to encourage more and more cooperation between the countries for the benefit of the nations.”
Can the Palestinian Authority survive?
The PA’s standing is also worsening. The collaboration between the PA and the Israeli security forces in combating terrorist activity is unpopular with the Palestinian people. Half of those polled said that the collapse or dissolution of the PA would serve the Palestinian interest. No less than 63% believe that the PA’s continued existence is in Israel’s interest, an increase of six percentage points in three months.

This may explain why Netanyahu’s offer of support apparently left the PA cold. The organization had to maintain its street cred. On July 10, its prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, rejected the Israeli decision to extend funds to the PA and ease travel and security measures. The strings attached, which called on the PA to end its anti-Israel activities were, he maintained, unacceptable.

“The money withheld by Israel,” said Shtayyeh, “is our money, and Israel must transfer it to us without extortion or conditions.”

A report on July 11 by the well-respected news agency, The Media Line, quotes Dr. Omer Zanany, director of the Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking Program at Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. He maintains that Netanyahu’s gesture initiative “comes from immense pressure from the defense establishment, which wants to strengthen the PA in order to take the pressure and the burden off itself.”

Should the PA collapse, he explains, Israel does not want Hamas nor the PIJ to take over the West Bank, but neither does it want to step in and rule over the 3 million Palestinians who live there. So Israeli support for the PA was “a tactical move that is supposed to relieve the pressure.”

Israel has also been under pressure from the US to make concessions to the Palestinians. On July 9, President Joe Biden in an interview with CNN, described Netanyahu’s government as Israel’s “most extreme” ever, adding that his coalition partners were “part of the problem.”

Authorizing an increase in settlement construction is almost certainly Netanyahu’s way of placating his coalition partners for propping up the PA in the West Bank. Yet on July 17, in his telephone conversation with Biden which included his long-awaited invitation to the White House, he reportedly told the president that he would limit construction in West Bank settlements until the end of the year.

The PA and its president have lost the support of the Palestinian people. How long can support from Israel, which they must seem to reject, sustain them?
Middle East leader undermines democracy – and it's not Israel
A prominent Middle Eastern leader has been taking steps that undermine democracy, striking a blow at the values that Americans cherish and raising questions about whether the US should continue to have a special relationship with that regime.

But it’s not the Middle Eastern leader you may think.

While some Biden administration officials and media outlets have been falsely accusing Israel’s leaders of undermining democracy, Israel’s next-door neighbor has been doing just that – and nobody is saying a word about it.

How has the Palestinian Authority been trampling democracy?
The Palestinian Authority tramples democracy daily, systematically, and unapologetically. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at the reports published by left-of-center human rights groups that the Biden administration and its allies respect and trust.

According to Amnesty International’s most recent annual report, “Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continued to heavily restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly. They also held scores of people in arbitrary detention and subjected many to torture and other ill-treatment. Justice for serious human rights violations remained elusive.”

What Human Rights Watch has to say about the Palestinian Authority is even more interesting, although you have to dig deep to find it.

According to HRW’s website: “The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza arbitrarily arrest dissidents and torture Palestinians in their custody.”

To find out more details, you need to go to HRW’s “World Report 2023” and scroll down to the part about the Palestinian Authority. In that all-too-brief section (just three paragraphs long), one learns about PA security forces beating a dissident to death, an atrocity for which “no one has been held to account.”

One also reads there that the PA’s laws “discriminated against women, including in relation to marriage, divorce, custody of children, and inheritance.” Moreover, “Palestine has no comprehensive domestic violence law.” (Why don’t international women’s rights groups protest about that?)

Then comes this final, intriguing note: “In the summer, several social and cultural events in the West Bank were canceled following threats against organizers.” Who made the threats? Who canceled the events? Human Rights Watch doesn’t say; instead, it links to a report by a Palestinian Arab advocacy group called al-Haq.

That al-Haq report complains about what it calls “the failure of the competent Palestinian authorities to provide protection for citizens, both male and female, and institutions, to enable them to exercise their legal right to expression without fear and anxiety.”
The Palestinian Authority: Israel’s Unfaithful Partner
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has always had a complicated relationship with Israel.

In August 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on the first round of the Oslo Accords, in which Israel formally recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians and the PLO agreed to stop engaging in violence (which the PA repeatedly violated).

Both parties also agreed that Palestinian elections would be held to establish the PA as an interim, democratically elected Palestinian body that would govern the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Elections were held in January 1996, and Yasser Arafat and his Fatah party won 58% of the seats in the Assembly, giving them dominance over the PA and cementing Arafat’s leadership.

And, while Fatah dominated these elections, there were groups that sought to challenge Fatah. One of them was Hamas.

Founded in 1988 with the express desire to destroy Israel, Hamas was – and still is – an organization that is committed to open, ongoing violence against Israel. This made Hamas not only an enemy of Israel, but also of Fatah.

Because Arafat agreed to nonviolence in the Oslo Accords and engaged in peace talks with Israel, Hamas condemned the Oslo Accords and Arafat. Hamas carried out suicide bombings in order to sabotage the deal and did not participate in the 1996 elections.

And, while they began as a small player in comparison to the PA, Hamas grew as the PA’s early failures came to light.

Shmuley Boteach Discovers RFK Jr. May Not be an Antisemite, But He Is Terribly Ignorant About Israel
First, I would like to register my anger at the Forward, who beat me to the punch with their headline, which I was going to use: “Shmuley Boteach can’t make Robert Kennedy Jr. kosher.” My version involved a pig and lipstick, but they robbed me of the kosher thing, and for that, I shall never forgive them. Probably.

Anyway, a good friend of The Jewish Press, and a former Republican candidate for Congress, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who has been supporting RFK Jr.’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination as the great younger hope, this week tried to clean up the candidate’s image of a racist and an antisemite.

The candidate, a dyed-in-the-wool antivaxxer, declared earlier this month––without offering a shred of evidence––that an argument could be made that Covid-19 “is ethnically targeted” at white and Black people, while “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

RFK denied the NY Post report about the above comments, calling it a “mainstream media playbook to discredit me as a crank.” At a congressional hearing last Thursday, which 100 Democrats tried to block him from attending, he denied being anti-vaccine, antisemitic, and racist, saying, “These are the most appalling, disgusting pejoratives, and they’re applied to me to silence me because people don’t want me to have that conversation about the war, about groceries, about inflation.”

He added: “In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic. … I’ve fought more ferociously for Israel than anybody, and I am being censored here.”

Kennedy is the chairman of Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine advocacy group that claims that American children are suffering from autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, food allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases as the result of their exposure to certain chemicals and radiation. In November 2021, Kennedy published a book titled “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” which included a section titled, “Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust.” And in an anti-vaccine rally in DC, he declared: “Even in Hitler’s Germany…you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”

In other words, the antisemitic trifecta, but with a Covid twist.
New Survey Reveals Widespread Antisemitism Among German Muslims Compared With Overall Population
More than one quarter of Muslims residing in Germany believe that “wealthy Jews are the real rulers of the world,” far higher than the national average, according to a new survey published on Tuesday by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

While 26 percent of Muslim respondents endorsed one of the deadliest antisemitic tropes, nationally, only six percent of respondents did the same. Other questions similarly showed that Muslims were three or four more times likelier to embrace antisemitic ideology than the wider population.

For example, seven percent of Muslim respondents said that they believed that violence against Jews was justified, compared with two percent overall. Similarly, while only four percent of respondents of overall respondents agreed with the claim that Jews are “sneaky,” the figure among Muslims was 12 percent.

The Adenauer Foundation interviewed 5,500 people for its survey, which was conducted during the closing months of 2021 stretching into early 2022. It emphasized that it had deliberately used harsh phrasing in its questions — asking whether “Jews shouldn’t be surprised if they get one” in relation to violence — in order to measure the “extremist core” of the population.

Commenting on the study, the Foundation — which is affiliated with the center-right CDU Party — said it showed that “a large majority of the German population firmly rejects antisemitic statements.”

It noted as well that “people with left-wing and right-wing extremist attitudes have significantly more antisemitic attitudes. However, the effect is stronger with a tendency towards right-wing extremist attitudes.”
German teachers forced to leave town after denouncing Nazi, far-right students
Two teachers in eastern Germany tried to counter the far-right activities of students at their small town high school. They counseled bullies who threatened to beat up immigrant classmates. They gave more lessons about their country’s Nazi past. They invited a Black rapper to talk about mutual respect.

None of it helped. In desperation, Laura Nickel and Max Teske wrote a public letter in which they described an atmosphere of intimidation at Mina Witkojc School in Burg. They reported students greeting each other with the Nazi salute, scratching swastikas on their desks, and playing music with racist lyrics in the hallways.

“Teachers and students who openly fight against far-right students and teachers fear for their safety,” the two said in the letter they sent to local newspapers. “The problem has to be recognized and openly fought. Schools should be places free of fear, full of open-mindedness and safety for everyone and cannot provide a home for the enemies of democracy.”

Even so, Nickel, who taught English and history at the high school, and Teske, a math and geography teacher, were unprepared for the backlash their call to action produced. A letter from an anonymous group of parents demanded their dismissal. Stickers with their pictures and the caption “Piss off to Berlin” plastered on light poles near campus. On social media, someone declared a desire to “hunt them down.”

Further disheartened by what they say was a lack of support from colleagues, the principal and local administrators, Nickel and Teske announced when the academic year ended two weeks ago that they were leaving the school and the town located 116 kilometers (72 miles) southeast of Berlin.

“Far-right extremist statements, actions, slogans, homophobia, and sexism were and are the order of the day at this school,” Nickel, 34, who worked at Mina Witkojc for four years, told The Associated Press in a joint interview with Teske, 31, who taught there for three years.
Ron DeSantis campaign fires aide after sharing controversial neo-Nazi meme video
An aide to Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has been fired after he shared a campaign video featuring a Nazi symbol.

Speechwriter Nate Hochman shared the controversial video on Twitter, featuring both DeSantis and a Sonnenrad, a symbol adopted by Nazis and neo-Nazis.

The video featured a “wojack” character meme, who appears to be unhappy with news footage of Donald Trump, watching the Florida seal turn into the Sonnenrad symbol.

DeSantis is then seen pictured on the icon in front of several marching soldiers.

The video was quickly removed but it remains unclear who first created the video.

A spokesperson for DeSantis’ campaign said: “Nate Hochman is no longer with the campaign.”

Hochman’s video appears to be contrary to DeSantis’s stated views on Israel and the Jewish community.

The Florida governor has positioned himself as a fervently pro-Israel candidate dedicated to ensuring that children are taught about the Holocaust and preventing antisemitism through legislation.
Ben & Jerry’s Parent Company Says It Will Allow Russia Employees to Be Conscripted
Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, has agreed to comply with Russian conscript law, opening up the possibility that thousands of its employees in Russia could be sent to the war in Ukraine if called up.

In a letter to B4Ukraine, a global coalition of civil society organizations calling for foreign companies to leave the Russian market, Unilever said it was aware of the Russian law “requiring any company operating in Russia to permit the conscription of employees should they be called.” The consumer goods giant said it will “always comply with all the laws of the countries we operate in.”

“We continue to run our business in Russia in alignment with our global principles, including the safety and wellbeing of our employees,” the letter says.

Unilever—an Anglo-Dutch multinational company that owns many well-known brands such as Cif, Domestos, Dove, Magnum, and Vaseline—has about 3,000 employees in Russia, working across four manufacturing sites and a head office.

Unilever is among some companies that have faced criticisms over their decisions to continue their business operations in Russia, despite Western sanctions and the pullout of many foreign companies, following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Valeriia Voshchevska, a Ukrainian activist and campaigner, took to Twitter on July 23 to criticize Unilever’s decision to allow its Russian employees to be conscripted.

“If this is protecting your workers, I’d hate to see what putting them in harm’s way looks like. And what about innocent Ukrainian civilians—does Unilever not think they deserve protecting too?” Ms. Voshchevska wrote.

Amazon Prime asked to remove film over Holocaust misappropriation
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) has issued a request to the popular streaming site Amazon Prime to remove the Indian film Bawaal due to its use of the Holocaust as a plot device.

The movie, which is set in the contemporary era, features the main character traveling to the death camp Auschwitz where he is sent into a gas chamber wearing striped pajamas. The movie also includes the use of Hitler as a metaphor for human greed, as the main character tells his wife “We’re all a little like Hitler, aren’t we?”

“Auschwitz is not a metaphor. It is the quintessential example of Man’s capacity for Evil,” explained Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action. “By having the protagonist in this movie declare that ‘every relationship goes through their Auschwitz,’ Nitesh Tiwari trivializes and demeans the memory of six million murdered Jews and millions of others who suffered at the hands of Hitler’s genocidal regime.”

“If the filmmaker’s goal was to gain PR for their movie by reportedly filming a fantasy sequence at the Nazi death camp, he has succeeded. Amazon Prime should stop monetizing Bawaal by immediately removing this banal trivialization of the suffering and systematic murder of millions of victims of the Nazi Holocaust.”
Hitler and The Seattle Times
What distinguishes this idiotic story from the others of this genre that we have all gotten used to over the last few years is that it contains a neatly packaged manifestation of most every facet of the psychosis of our ever-cruder culture wars. The misusage of memory politics. Frenzied social media mobs destroying lives for pleasure. Fake laptop warriors celebrating their fake wars on nonexistent Nazis. The total lack of social norms regarding the way that Americans discuss and use or misuse history. The pathos of those who violate in some minor way the puritanism of those who wish to destroy sinners without any chance of reprieve. The manifest cowardice of the scribbling classes. The lack of backbone from institutional elites and gatekeepers who refuse to stand up for institutional values or their own staff. The illiteracy and stupidity of what passes for debate. Every element is present in this parable of the insipid and sad moment that we are now living through.

As an immigrant to America myself, I also found it deeply suggestive that the only person who would come forward to defend their obviously maligned colleague was the foreign-born Irish guy. That was before he was most likely pressured to take the statement down.

In many ways this is a typical story of the unseriousness of the kind of politics that begins and concludes with accusations of “you said ‘Hitler’!” With the American press degenerating into frenzied arguments about whether America is fascist (no), or whether one major political party is fascist (no), the elite social media discourse about fascism has become intolerably deranged. That derangement has seeped into other parts of the discourse downstream. I say this as an Eastern European immigrant who writes about the Holocaust and history continually.

That Lenin was indeed a mass murderer and a fanatic cult leader is something that Americans and Western Europeans—of most every political stripe—used to take for granted. Now that we have lost the consensus of the post-Cold War ’90s in regard to both communism and Nazism, the social and psychological processes that led to men such as Lenin and Hitler doing what they did are becoming historically opaque. The result, so far, has merely been ironic and grotesque incidents where perfectly decent and liberal Ukrainian Jewish diaspora journalists writing about Lenin can be destroyed by Leninist mobs for making inept comparisons to Hitler. Unfortunately, if history is any fair guide, we will soon see worse.
Good COP/Bad COP: Why Attacking Israel on the Environment Is Verbal Pollution
Does Israel Exploit Water?
Israel, which prides itself on being the innovation nation, is always seeking ways to improve resourcefulness and quality of life for all its citizens and beyond, in hopes that improvements in technology here can be used to help improve the environment and life for everyone around the world.

The accusation that Israel is exploiting water simply isn’t true. If anything, Israel’s innovations are going to help the United States, China and smaller countries like Angola, Ghana, Serbia and Spain.

Israel extensively uses desalination of salt water and repurposes its wastewater by 90%. In fact, much of Israel’s drinking water comes from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. This kind of technology will be able to help countries that are currently experiencing water insecurity.

Too many people are quick to allege that Israel abuses Palestinians by not providing them with water. But a lot don’t know that Israel has already signed a water agreement with the Palestinian Authority. As required and established by the Oslo Accords, there is a Joint Water Committee (JWC).

This JWC was boycotted by the PA from 2010-2017. The JWC is made up of both Israelis and Palestinians on its board. However, the Palestinians refused to further develop any projects that would help advance Israeli settlements.

A debunked United Nations report also states that “half of the Palestinian wells in the West Bank have dried up over the last 20 years.” What it fails to acknowledge is that there has been a lot of illegal drilling by Palestinians which goes against the water agreement and has damaging effects on the amount of water available.

Ultimately, the narrative that the Palestinians do not have access to water due to Israel is false. Full authority of the water supply in areas A and B of the West Bank was handed over to the PA in 2017 to try and further evolve the system.

Israel has already set up the blueprint for how other countries can try and reduce the amount of water that they waste. These other nations just need to implement it into their daily lives.
Selective BBC reporting on Hizballah’s northern border provocations
Gritten does not inform his readers that the village of Ghajar was part of the Syria-controlled Golan Heights (as the Alawite ethnicity of its inhabitants testifies) until 1967. During the years in which Israel controlled southern Lebanon following the 1982 war, the northern part of the village expanded into Lebanese territory. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the UN drew the ‘Blue Line’ marking the border right through the middle of the village without consulting its residents, who are Israeli citizens.

For years Ghajar was a closed military zone. Frequent smuggling of weapons and drugs from Lebanon into Israel via Ghajar prompted the recent construction of a fence around the northern part of the village, after which it was reopened to the general public.

Towards the end of Gritten’s report readers find a brief reference to a story from June which was not previously covered by the BBC:
“Last month, Israel filed a complaint with the UN saying that Hezbollah had erected two tents a few metres over the frontier on Israeli land in the area.”

Readers are not informed that the UN confirmed that the Lebanese terrorist organisation had indeed set up two tents (one of which was later dismantled) on Israeli territory.

Notably, Gritten’s report makes no mention whatsoever of UNSC resolution 1701 and the fact that according to that resolution, Hizballah operatives are not supposed to be anywhere near the border with Israel. His avoidance of the topic of the UNSC resolution which brought the 2006 war to an end enables Gritten to refer to and quote UNIFIL without mentioning its long-standing failure to meet its mission of enforcing the terms of that resolution.

Since the appearance of Gritten’s report several additional provocations by Hizballah have taken place along the border.

‘I Want to Tell The World What it is to be Chased’: Virtual-Reality Holocaust Film About Survivor of Nazi Germany to Make Its World Premiere at Venice Film Festival
A Holocaust survivor, who is the subject and star of a new virtual reality film about her life that will make its world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, spoke to The Algemeiner about having her film presented at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

“I was so moved that tears came to my eyes because this is all [for] the world to know what happened during World War II to the Jews and to my mother,” said Marion Deichmann, 90, adding that she hopes to attend the film festival and see her film, Letters from Drancy, presented on the world stage.

“My mother died in the gas chambers [at Auschwitz] and that to me is the ultimate evil that man has done to man, so I want the world to know what happened,” she added. “I want to tell the world what it is to be chased [and] to be hunted.”

The Venice Film Festival announced on July 20 that Letters from Drancy will be a part of its official film lineup. The film is one of 44 projects from 25 countries selected for the Venice Immersive section of the festival, which will run from Aug. 30 – Sept. 9.

In Letters from Drancy, virtual reality allows viewers to travel with Deichmann across the borders of Northern Europe during her childhood, crouch next to her and her mother as they hide in a truck from a Nazi guard, witness her separation from her mother who was taken by the Nazis, and see the help she received from the French Resistance in Paris and her survival of D-Day in Normandy, France.
Dark comedy ‘Anne Frank Gift Shop’ repackages Holocaust icon for Gen Z
When filmmaker Mickey Rapkin visited the Anne Frank House for the first time 20 years ago, his tour ended on a strange note.

“I was so moved by being there,” Rapkin told The Times of Israel. “It was horrifying and so upsetting. And then you exit through a gift shop. I just remember laughing. It was jarring,” said the screenwriter and journalist.

Rapkin’s new short satiric film, “Anne Frank Gift Shop,” revolves around a pitch meeting with the museum’s staff and members of a highfalutin marketing firm. Actress Kate Burton plays the dark comedy’s museum representative, Ilse, who is concerned about the museum’s online reviews.

Premiering July 25 at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival, “Anne Frank Gift Shop” addresses the challenge of conveying the Holocaust to Generation Z, which is heavily afflicted by “empathy fatigue,” as pointed out in the meeting.

Ideas pitched range from digitally altering Frank’s face — “The algorithm really prefers a smile” — to asking visitors outside the museum to help solve the “cold-case with global appeal”: who betrayed the Secret Annex inhabitants in August 1944?

“[We’re just] prototyping solutions, just fast and dirty, no wrong answers, safe space,” says the marketing team leader.

A social media influencer tells museum staff, “You’re not solving your problems by selling a 3D puzzle of the annex,” after which she points out the hiding place is “a duplex on the water” that would rent for $7,000 a month in Bushwick.

Israeli tech to turn waste into energy, fuel at Swedish port
An Israeli clean technology to produce electricity and “green” methanol continuously from nonrecyclable waste will be powering a local energy production facility at Wallhamn Port in Tjörn, Sweden – one of the largest vehicle handling ports in northern Europe.

Boson Energy, an Israel-Swedish-Polish company, will build the plant to serve Wallhamn’s growing need for energy and electricity for charging vehicles unloaded in the port, as well as supporting the local power grid when needed.

Both the electricity and fuel will be carbon negative, as Boson Energy’s process makes it possible to capture carbon dioxide, for utilization or storage, in a clean and cost-effective way.

The only solid residue from the conversion process is a glass slag that can be used as an environmentally friendly filling material, or further processed into climate-smart insulation material.

Torbjörn Wedebrand, CEO of Wallhamn, said the project is an opportunity to expand port operations and realize its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-negative port.

“This project creates very good conditions for our green transition and reliable energy supply — both for our own operations and for our customers,” Wedebrand said.

“It will be an important part of growing our import/export business while at the same time achieving significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the various products from Boson Energy’s integrated approach offer very interesting opportunities to develop the entire area around the port. For us, this is a flagship project, and many ports around the world are facing similar challenges.”

As part of the project, Boson Energy has also entered into a cooperation agreement with Ecopromt to build an indoor farming facility for growing vegetables in the vicinity of the port. This facility will receive green electricity, carbon dioxide, and cooling directly from Boson Energy’s facility.

With an initial investment of 100 million euros, the project is expected to begin construction in 2025.
Lipstadt: ‘people fail to recall Mizrahi displacement’
The US administration’s envoy ‘to monitor and combat antisemitism’, Deborah Lipstadt, escaped by one day the fatal attack on the al-Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba for the Lag Ba’Omer pilgrimage in May, when celebration turned to tragedy. Too many people fail to recall that Mizrahi Jews were displaced in the last century, she writes for the new journal Distinctions:

Sadly, many people don’t think of the struggles that Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews have faced in their homelands throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Iran. Though they often lived in harmony with their non-Jewish neighbors, there were far too many moments of discrimination and persecution. Far too many people fail to recall that one million Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews were displaced from their ancestral lands in the past century.

And many of us, including me, didn’t expect a deadly antisemitic attack on the El Ghriba Synagogue. Two Jewish pilgrims and four Tunisian security officers were killed a day after my visit to the Lag B’Omer festivities. I heard of the shocking news just hours before my departure from Tunisia. Just 24 hours earlier, we had stood in that same spot. The joy of those in attendance was infectious. And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, a joyous, age-old celebration was tinged by terrible tragedy.

This appalling tragedy at El Ghriba is yet another reminder of why it is as critical as ever to heighten awareness and strengthen education about antisemitism in all its ugly and dangerous forms, both historic and contemporary. As U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, I was proud to contribute to — and help roll out — the Biden Administration’s new National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism this May.
Jewish, Arab cofounders of Desert Stars win peace prize
Arab Israeli Mohammed Alnabari and Jewish Israeli Matan Yaffe received the 2023 IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for the peace-building work of Desert Stars, the organization they cofounded to bring a new generation of cross-tribal leadership to Israel’s southern Bedouin community.

Approximately 250,000 Arab Bedouins live in nine Bedouin municipalities and dozens of herding and farming villages throughout the Negev Desert. Tribal rivalries limit their interaction and cooperation. The birthrate is high, as are high-school dropout and unemployment figures.

Desert Stars operates a high school, two gap-year programs, a youth movement, and alumni program to help participants succeed in higher education and build careers.

“Matan and Mohammed model true partnership, and demonstrate how two leaders from very different backgrounds can accomplish a dream when working together in full trust and belief in one another,” said Goldberg a retired IBM executive and longtime IIE trustee who created and endowed the prize in 2005.

“Their programs aim to create a network of young leaders by empowering mission-driven young people to realize their individual and collective potential, in order to address poverty, high unemployment rates, and disenfranchisement in the Negev Bedouin community. Their vision is to create groundbreaking Bedouin leadership that unites the Negev and strengthens Israeli society.”

IIE has awarded the Victor J. Goldberg Prize in Israel annually for 19 years to recognize outstanding collaborative peace-building work by a Muslim Arab individual and a Jewish Israeli individual. Chosen by a selection committee of leaders from business, academia, the not-for-profit sector and government, the winners share a $20,000 prize.

PodCast: How This Changemaker is Helping to Empower Israel’s Arab Community: A Fireside Chat With Dr. Dadia Fadila, Founder of Q Schools
Arabs represent more than 20 percent of Israel’s total population, and members of Israel’s Arab minority have been represented across Israeli society, including politics, the judiciary, business, and the arts.

But despite enjoying equal rights under Israeli law, Israeli Arabs today face lower incomes and higher levels of violence in their community, leading some critics to falsely accuse the Jewish State of discriminating against its Arab population.

But the future of Israeli Arabs has never been brighter, thanks in part to people like Dr. Dalia Fadila. Dr Fadila is the founder of Q Schools, an institution for promoting quality education in the Arab society in Israel. She was previously president of the Engineering and Technology College and vice president of Al Qasemi teacher education college. In 2022, she received the Medal of Honour from Israel’s president.

Dr. Fadila joins us as a guest to discuss Q Schools, and how her efforts are helping to pave the way for a more prosperous future for Israel’s Arab population.
Jewish fencer Eli Dershwitz becomes first US man to win sabre World Championship
Jewish fencer Eli Dershwitz made history Tuesday at the World Fencing Championships in Milan, Italy, where he became the first American man to win an individual title in sabre.

The 27-year-old two-time Olympian and grandson of Holocaust survivors defeated No. 1-ranked Sandro Bazadze 15-6 in the sabre final.

But Dershwitz’s semifinal victory was perhaps even more notable: Facing Áron Szilágyi, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and the reigning world champion, he came back from a 10-4 deficit to advance to the final round.

“I’ve been working most of my life for this moment, this tournament, and towards Paris 2024,” Dershwitz said, according to NBC Sports. “Hoping my third Olympic Games is the one.”

Dershwitz — who celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Conservative Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, and fenced at Harvard University — won two gold medals at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

He represented the United States in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics but failed to medal in either appearance.

Prior to the 2016 Rio Games, Dershwitz told Hillel International that he considers himself a “proud member of the Jewish community.”

“I feel proud to be a Jewish-American Olympic athlete. The Jewish community has been very supportive throughout my journey to the Olympics,” he said.
The real Oppenheimer's complicated relationship with Judaism
When J Robert Oppenheimer travelled to New Mexico in 1942 to visit his best friend, he asked people to call him by a name that carefully masked his Jewish roots. He went by Robert Smith. It didn't stick, but this wasn’t the first time he had tried to mask his identity.

Throughout his life, he maintained that the J in J. Robert Oppenheimer didn’t stand for anything at all. But it did.

The man who called himself “destroyer of worlds,” and protagonist of the Nolan film Oppenheimer, was named after his father, Julius but hid his name throughout his life to mask his Jewish roots.

His tendency to assimilate started with his background. Oppenheimer’s father was a member of the Ethical Culture movement in New York, a sort of “secularised version” of Reform Judaism.

Alex Wellerstein, a science historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology describes it as "If you took the basic ethical principles of Reformed Judaism and then sort of ditched all the religious stuff,”

“On any kind of religious level, I don’t think he was religiously anything, Oppenheimer,” Wellerstein explains. But with a name like Oppenheimer, you can’t exactly escape your identity. “It’s totally unavoidable”.

And this was reflected in Nolan's film too. The director made this clear in a scene depicting Oppenheimer’s first meeting with Lewis Strauss, one of the original members of the US Atomic Energy Commission – and the man who took Oppenheimer’s security clearance away in a McCarthyist show trial in 1954.

In the film, Nolan places Judaism clearly in the centre of their feud. Strauss pronounces his name Straws, in a Southern drawl. Oppenheimer tells him that whether its Oh-ppenheimer or Ah-ppenheimer, it doesn’t make a difference. “No matter how you say it, they know I’m Jewish”.

Strauss wasn’t ashamed of his faith – and nor did he avoid it. In contrast to Oppenheimer’s assimilation into US culture, Strauss was deeply connected to his Jewish identity and served as president of Manhattan's Temple Emanu-El for ten years between 1938 and 1948.

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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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