The Obama Factor
David Samuels Interviews MLK Biographer David Garrow on Barack Obama
There is a fascinating passage in Rising Star, David Garrow’s comprehensive biography of Barack Obama’s early years, in which the historian examines Obama’s account in Dreams from My Father of his breakup with his longtime Chicago girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Jager. In Dreams, Obama describes a passionate disagreement following a play by African American playwright August Wilson, in which the young protagonist defends his incipient embrace of Black racial consciousness against his girlfriend’s white-identified liberal universalism. As readers, we know that the stakes of this decision would become more than simply personal: The Black American man that Obama wills into being in this scene would go on to marry a Black woman from the South Side of Chicago named Michelle Robinson and, after a meteoric rise, win election as the first Black president of the United States.
Yet what Garrow documented, after tracking down and interviewing Sheila Miyoshi Jager, was an explosive fight over a very different subject. In Jager’s telling, the quarrel that ended the couple’s relationship was not about Obama’s self-identification as a Black man. And the impetus was not a play about the American Black experience, but an exhibit at Chicago’s Spertus Institute about the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann.
At the time that Obama and Sheila visited the Spertus Institute, Chicago politics was being roiled by a Black mayoral aide named Steve Cokely who, in a series of lectures organized by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, accused Jewish doctors in Chicago of infecting Black babies with AIDS as part of a genocidal plot against African Americans. The episode highlighted a deep rift within the city’s power echelons, with some prominent Black officials supporting Cokely and others calling for his firing.
In Jager’s recollection, what set off the quarrel that precipitated the end of the couple’s relationship was Obama’s stubborn refusal, after seeing the exhibit, and in the swirl of this Cokely affair, to condemn Black racism. While acknowledging that Obama’s embrace of a Black identity had created some degree of distance between the couple, she insisted that what upset her that day was Obama’s inability to condemn Cokely’s comments. It was not Obama’s Blackness that bothered her, but that he would not condemn antisemitism.
No doubt, Obama’s evolving race-based self-consciousness did distance him from Jager; in the end, the couple broke up. Yet it is revealing to read Obama’s account of the breakup in Dreams against the very different account that Jager offers. In Obama’s account, he was the particularist, embracing a personal meaning for the Black experience that Jager, the universalist, refused to grant. In Jager’s account, the poles of the argument are nearly, but not quite, reversed: It is Obama who appears to minimize Jewish anxiety about blood libels coming from the Black community. His particularism mattered; hers didn’t. While Obama defined himself as a realist or pragmatist, the episode reads like a textbook evasion of moral responsibility.
The Future of Russian Jewry
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt sat at the desk of his Jerusalem office on a scorcher of a July day. Wearing a suit and tie, his monogrammed shirt cuff peeking out, Goldschmidt seemed immune to the intense heat—a quality hinting at how, of the 33 years he served as Moscow’s chief rabbi, he might have weathered the last 22 during the presidency of Vladimir Putin.
But everyone has a boiling point, and Goldschmidt reached his when Russian authorities pressured him and other religious leaders to support Putin’s war on Ukraine that began on Feb. 24, 2022.
Goldschmidt publicly opposed the war, departed the country, resigned his pulpit in Moscow’s Choral Synagogue, and resettled in Israel, leaving behind Russia and his and his wife Dara’s work: regenerating the capital’s Jewish community following seven decades of Soviet repression and building an orphanage, a school, and a kollel—an academy for Talmud study.
Last summer, he urged Russia’s Jews to leave the country. This June, the country’s Justice Ministry labeled him and several other visible opponents of the war “foreign agents,” affixing metaphorical targets to their backs.
Nearly a year-and-a-half into Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Goldschmidt sees his condemning of the war and emigrating as correct. He’d been silenced “for all the years under Putin,” he said. “I wasn’t able to say a word.”
Goldschmidt said he recognized the risk of opposing Putin. He cited Ecclesiastes 3:7: “A time to keep silent and a time to speak.” The time, he said, was right to speak.
“The moment I knew that I’d be criticizing the war, that I’d be against the Russian government, I knew that I would have to leave my post as chief rabbi of the city, because the government would use its clutches to get me out or to close down the community,” said Goldschmidt. “It was a decision I knew would have to result in my resignation in order not to endanger the community.”
But leaving and urging others to follow didn’t come easily. Goldschmidt said he spoke with friends, colleagues, and community leaders in Russia and abroad. He researched rabbis’ contemporaneous responses to anti-Jewish agitation, pogroms, and the Holocaust. He sought clarity for what gnawed at him: Was the situation as dire as he thought?
“I was questioning myself in the beginning if I did the right thing or not by leaving. But as the situation evolved, there was no other way,” he said. “I just feel that there’s a moment when a communal leader has to tell his people that the future is not as bright as it was and we should think of other options.”
As to what set his decision-making in motion, Goldschmidt recalled the events of 2022 this way: “I went to sleep in Moscow on Feb. 23 and woke up in the morning in Tehran—a different country with a different political system. I realized that under this new political reality, it would be impossible to speak for a Jewish future. It became almost impossible for a Jewish community to function.”
Democratic Senator Lobbies Egypt to Free Cleric Who Called for Murder of Israeli Tourists
Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) is asking the Egyptian government to release a Muslim cleric who called for the murder of Israeli tourists. The daughter-in-law of the imprisoned religious leader, who apologized in a letter this month for his calls to violence and history of anti-Semitic statements, also happens to work on the senator's staff.PreOccupiedTerritory: Elders Of Zion Engineering Biden-Trump Rematch Just To Make Rest Of World Feel Better About Own Leadership (satire)
Cardin’s request follows similar calls from other Democratic lawmakers for Egypt to release the elderly Muslim Brotherhood senior leader, Salah Soltan, a U.S. green card holder. It also comes after years of lobbying and Democratic political donations by Soltan’s son, Mohamed, who is married to a Cardin legislative aides, Habiba Shebita.
Soltan—who was locked up as part of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s attempt to crush the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement in 2013—has called for the murder of all Israeli tourists, claimed Jews use the blood of Christians to make bread, and proposed "obliterating America" in a holy war.
But Cardin, who also serves as the special representative for anti-Semitism to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, claimed last Thursday that Soltan has had a change of heart and urged el-Sisi to "extend his presidential pardon to Soltan, so that he may leave Egypt and be reunited with his family" in the United States.
In a letter to his newborn grandson, Soltan "addresses his previously held anti-Semitic positions and remarks, apologizes for them and disavows them," said Cardin in a statement submitted to the congressional record last week.
In the letter, Soltan wrote that, prior to his prison sentence, his defense of Palestinians was "fueled by anger which turned to hate."
"[M]y statements sometimes veered toward antisemitism," he wrote. "I deeply regret times when I engaged in that kind of rhetoric that I shudder to recall and condemn all rhetoric that is discriminatory, hateful, and violent."
Soltan added that he is now in a prison "where the judge, warden, officer, and guards who wrongfully imprison, torture, and deny me basic medical needs are all Muslim" while many of his defenders have been Jewish human rights lawyers and Christian politicians such as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) and the late Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.).
The letter is a major deviation from Soltan’s long history of virulent anti-Semitism and calls for violence against Jews.
Undisclosed Location, Possibly the Moon Base, August 3 – The shadowy cabal that manipulates institutions and governments in an effort to cement and maintain global control disclosed today that the Democratic and Republican frontrunners in next year’s US presidential election, both of them among the least qualified figures in American national politics, hold their frontrunner status not because of any organic democratic process, but because the cabal has deemed it necessary to give people who live outside the US some perspective, to prompt the realization that they could have it much, much worse.Don't let the gaslighters misrepresent the IHRA
A representative of the Learned Elders of Zion transmitted a message to humanity this morning, addressed to “everyone living outside the United States of America,” to the effect that the emerging rematch between former President Donald Trump – the current favorite to win the GOP nomination next year – and President Joseph Biden, the Democratic candidate, according to most polls – will happen because the Elders have engineered the situation to assuage widespread global discontent with current leaders. In so doing, the message explained, people outside the US will “thank their lucky stars” that their countries, at least, aren’t at the mercy of one of two doddering scumbags who cannot formulate a coherent policy on any issue.
Analysts explained that the goal of the Biden-Trump dynamic is the same as every other Elders of Zion initiative: to maintain control. “A populace aware of how much worse it could be, but for the grace of God, is a docile populace,” observed Dr. Mack E. Avelli of Pew Research. “The Elders began making their point back in 2016, when they arranged for two of the most unlikable politicians in the country to head up the big party tickets. Then when Trump, that scared quite a few would-be revolutionaries to reconsider the direness of their situations, and thus question the necessity of fomenting upheaval.”
The most widespread form of gaslighting is the anti-Zionist world's attacks on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The definition, which has been adopted by numerous governments and organizations, includes (1) denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor; (2) applying double standards by requiring of Israel behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; (3) using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism, e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or the blood libel, to characterize Israel or Israelis; (4) drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Anti-Zionists gaslight Jews who support the IHRA definition by claiming that Israel's supporters use it to falsely label criticism of Israel as antisemitism. They further claim that the definition is itself antisemitic because it unfairly targets Jews who legitimately accuse Israel of various crimes.
This is a remarkable and monstrous claim. It both denies antisemitism and asserts that combating antisemitism is antisemitism. Moreover, it holds that fighting antisemitism is a form of oppression because it prevents legitimate criticism of Israel and is used to "cancel" Israel's critics. This reverses victim and perpetrator and demonizes the former.
The Zionist community and Israel advocates must recognize when they are being gaslit and push back against the gaslighters. Above all, they must assert the Jews' expertise on this particular subject. After thousands of years of facing hate, Jews are more than qualified for recognizing and defining antisemitism.
The self-styled Palestine Solidarity Campaign is an antisemitic hatred movement.— habibi (@habibi_uk) August 3, 2023
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has one mission in life: championing antisemites.
So of course Amnesty UK is in for this! pic.twitter.com/Aka9q00BOT
Look who’s in charge of protecting the Jews at CUNY
In response to public outrage over the pervasive, systemic, years-long scandal of antisemitism at CUNY, the university formed its inaugural Advisory Council on Jewish Life. At first, Chancellor Matos Rodríguez refused the demands of Jewish faculty and student victims at CUNY to be represented on the council, stating, “… [T]he advisory council on Jewish life will be comprised of Jewish leaders in New York who are external to the university” [emphasis added].
But in late May or early June of 2023, secretly and behind the scenes, Rodríguez reversed himself and appointed Ilya Bratman to the council. Bratman is an adjunct faculty member at CUNY, as well as the executive director of Hillel at Baruch College and several other campuses. Bratman may be the most prominent Hillel director across the university. In some ways, this seemed to be a concession to the Jewish community under siege.
Still, several aspects of Bratman’s record suggest that the same CUNY administration that had for so long ignored the anti-Semitism on its campus—and which is under constant and considerable pressure by leftist and Islamist extremist stakeholders to deny that anti-Zionism is antisemitism—might not have been bending to Jewish interests at all and indeed might have had a quite different motive for this choice.
In 2021, after CUNY’s 30,000-member staff union, the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY (PSC-CUNY), adopted a vile anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist BDS resolution, Ilya Bratman formed a group called the CUNY Alliance for Inclusion (CAFI) that purportedly would counter the union’s antisemitic and anti-Zionist positions.
But Bratman’s CAFI group failed, even to put up a good fight. While PSC-CUNY union delegates sponsored rallies under the slogan “#zionismOutOfCUNY,” CAFI never condemned its BDS activist president, James Davis, who lied to the New York City Council about his support of boycotts against Israel.
Neither did CAFI condemn the university’s appointment of former CAIR director and BDS activist Saly Abd Alla to oversee all discrimination, including antisemitism, across CUNY’s 25 campuses. Instead, Bratman joined the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) in negotiating a “discrimination portal” that included Saly Abd Alla as its head and listed the CAIR-endorsed Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism (JDA) on the page.
In this meeting with Rabbi Schneier, Chancellor Rodriguez expresses absolutely no remorse or contrition for the unprecedented levels of antisemitism being experienced by faculty members, staff, and students at CUNY.— SAFE CUNY (@SAFECUNY) August 3, 2023
CUNY Chancellor on Campus Antisemitism at Hampton Synagogue…
BDS leader and Within Our Lifetime founder, Nerdeen Kiswani, who vilifies Israel daily as an apartheid state, somehow enjoying her trip in apartheid Israel a lot.— Ari Ingel (@OGAride) August 3, 2023
I guess Israel just doesn’t do apartheid very well. pic.twitter.com/DnOzeKQucV
This is truly absurd and shameful. @Israel let in Nerdeen Kiswani, a notorious antisemite and proponent of the destruction of the Jewish State. Nerdeen supports terrorists and calls for a global violent uprising (Intifada). Details athttps://t.co/jmoOssA6rC— GnasherJew®????? (@GnasherJew) August 3, 2023
Exclusive: Unmasking Naved Awan, A Prominent Toronto Anti-Israel Activist
In recent months, HonestReporting Canada (HRC) has catalogued the hateful activities of Firas al-Najim, an anti-Israel activist who has harassed shoppers outside an Israeli store on Canada Day, accosted Holocaust survivors at a Jewish charity event, and accused “Zionists” of blackmailing Canadian news organizations.
But al-Najim is not alone; an exclusive HonestReporting Canada investigation has exposed another individual for his anti-Israel activities, which HRC considers to be hateful, dangerous and antisemitic based on the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
Naved Awan, an activist affiliated with the Toronto4Palestine group, has been actively involved in a number of anti-Israel activities in recent years.
Most recently, Awan participated in a demonstration against the visit of Naftali Bennett, Israel’s former prime minister, when Bennett was in Toronto as the keynote speaker for an event hosted by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC). Alongside fellow protesters, Awan, in our view, harassed, intimidated and yelled at event attendees as they entered the building where the event took place, and continued to yell on a microphone during the program, repeatedly attempting to interrupt the program. Awan also had a leading role in this demonstration on May 22 at the UJA’s Walk With Israel which included explicit support of terrorist groups and bombing of Israeli communities.
In an Instagram post from June 22, the group shared videos of Awan and other demonstrators harassing attendees going to the event, screaming into bullhorns as they walked into the building.
Awan’s social media presence has included praise for Palestinian terrorism against Israelis.
One Instagram post from February 6, of a demonstration over a Toronto overpass where activists waved Palestinian flags, showed Awan waving a Palestinian flag, and read, in part: “We will continue to expose racist je*ish settlers for the scum that they are.”
Antisemitic Harry Potter actor Sean Biggerstaff booed off Twitter for abusive behavior. pic.twitter.com/e7c9vvB1e0— GnasherJew®????? (@GnasherJew) August 3, 2023
Abdallah Alkahalah works for Pfizer since March 2022. He says, “Zionist’s are delusional or dishonest. Take your pick.” He also equates Israel with ISIS. https://t.co/73T7jY4bmo pic.twitter.com/B1NZRkA3cU— Canary Mission (@canarymission) August 2, 2023
Twice in a month, @rome2rio wrote “One of our experts will be in touch.”— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) August 3, 2023
Now we know why nobody was.
For, while “Palestine” no longer appears after any locations at all and Jerusalem is now in Israel, the eastern part and the Old City are now located in the West Bank. ?? pic.twitter.com/DMe8RMYyMo
MEMRI: Why MEMRI Stopped Using Cloudflare Services And Why The U.S. Government Should Do The Same
After nearly a decade of using the web performance and security company Cloudflare for our web site security and CDN (content distribution network) needs, and despite its impeccable service and its status as an industry leader for over 20 years, we can no longer in good conscience remain a customer.Inaccuracy and omission in BBC portrayal of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
This is because the company continues to serve extremists and terrorists. It is impossible to understand how Cloudflare's major clients – including U.S. government agencies – who have vowed to fight online extremism are using its services without insisting that it stop facilitating the spread of violent extremist content.
Cloudflare serves websites hosting Al-Qaeda and ISIS outlets, and some of the websites most widely used by neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and antigovernment groups. Cloudflare's support for these websites directly contributes to violence on the ground.
It has been known for years that Cloudflare serves designated terror groups – for example, it protects the main Al-Qaeda-operated Rocket.Chat server – as has been widely reported by media. A December 2018 in-depth MEMRI study, Cloudflare, The U.S.-Based Leading Reverse-Proxy Service, Is Exploited By Every Major Jihadi Organization – Including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Taliban – Posing A Global Security Risk, found that the company provides services to nearly every major jihadi group that is active online.
Another recent MEMRI study that was released this month, Cloudflare, The U.S.-Based Leading Reverse Proxy Service, Is Favored By Prominent Neo-Nazis And White Supremacists – And Is Part Of Select Group Trusted By U.S. Government To Provide Cybersecurity Services, exposes Cloudflare's widespread use by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and domestic terror organizations.
On July 30th the BBC News website published an uncredited report which was originally headlined ‘Six killed at Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon’. Over the next day, that report was amended several times and it is currently titled ‘Lebanon clashes: Thousands flee violence at Palestinian refugee camp’.Media Adopt Palestinian Narrative on Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound
The final paragraph in all versions of that report about the continuing violent clashes in and around the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp did not however undergo any changes and it reads as follows:
“More than 479,000 refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, the agency says. About half live in the country’s 12 refugee camps, which have “dire” living conditions, it adds.”
Most readers would of course be unlikely to click on that link and so they would not be aware of the fact that “registered with UNRWA in Lebanon” does not necessarily mean living in Lebanon:
“As of March 2023, the total number of UNRWA registered Palestine Refugees in Lebanon is 489,292 persons. In addition, UNRWA records show a total of 31,400 Palestine Refugees from Syria residing in Lebanon. However, registration with UNRWA is voluntary; deaths as well as emigration remain often unreported, and refugees can continue registering newborns as they move abroad through the UNRWA online registration system. In 2017, the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee together with the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics carried out a census among Palestinians living in Lebanon and reported a total of 174,000 persons. A total of 45 per cent of Palestine Refugees are estimated to live in the country’s 12 refugee camps. About 200,000 Palestine Refugees access UNRWA services in Lebanon every year. The Agency’s current estimation is that no more than 250,000 Palestine Refugees currently reside in the country.”
One presumes that whoever wrote this report accessed the UNRWA website to which he or she chose to link but rather than inform BBC audiences that “no more than 250,000 Palestine Refugees currently reside in the country” the BBC journalist elected to present a number that is nearly double UNRWA’s estimation. Moreover, he or she went on to state that “about half” of that number “live in the country’s 12 refugee camps”, meaning that audiences would conclude that the number of people living in refugee camps is much higher than is actually the case.
As is so often the case in BBC reporting on the topic of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, no effort is made to explain to readers why Palestinians have been kept in camps by Lebanon for generations. Audiences hear nothing at all about the Lebanese government’s long-running intentional discrimination against Palestinian refugees or the politics behind that policy.
On August 1, 2023, the Associated Press reported that Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had visited the Al-Aqsa mosque a week prior.NY Times Denies Glaring Affiliation With Terrorist Group
Ben-Gvir, had, however, only walked on the Temple Mount compound and had not visited the actual mosque. In correspondence with HonestReporting, AP acknowledged the imprecise nature of the wording and committed to be more attentive to this issue in the future.
In fact, HonestReporting had prompted AP only days earlier to correct a faulty headline on the same issue.
However, the AP is not the only news source to erroneously describe the entire compound as “Al-Aqsa mosque,” with both Reuters and the Middle East Eye having recently done so, thus adopting a contemporary Palestinian narrative.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque & the Noble Sanctuary
Al-Aqsa mosque was built in the late seventh/early eighth century CE by the Umayyad Caliphate at the site where most Sunni Muslims believe Mohammed ascended to heaven.
Both the mosque and the nearby Dome of the Rock shrine were built on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, which was previously home to the First and Second Jewish Temples in antiquity.
Amr Khamour was killed last January while taking part in an attack on Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
The PFLP, a Palestinian terrorist group, described the teen as one of its members in an official statement. In a goodbye note Khamour wrote prior to the incident, he singled out the PFLP for acclaim. He was wrapped for burial in a PFLP flag, wearing a PFLP headband, while being carried by pall-bearers wearing the same.
Amr Khamour, in other words, was clearly affiliated with the PFLP. But in a July 5 story, the New York Times insisted he was “not affiliated with the territories’ armed groups.” Although editors were subsequently informed of the affiliation, the falsehood remained uncorrected.
PFLP flags and a poster describing Amr Khamour as the PFLP’s own martyr appear in a photo accompanying the New York Times story. The article, though, claimed he had no affiliation with terror groups.
How could the newspaper justify flagrantly misleading its readers? One theory relates to an earlier story published by the piece’s coauthors, Raja Abdulrahim and Hiba Yazbek. Late last year, the reporters argued that Palestinian groups will sometime claim as members casualties who weren’t in fact affiliated with the groups.
But the possibility that terror groups might sometimes overstep can’t be an open license for the New York Times to disregard — and effectively deny — glaring evidence of affiliation. With so many indications that Khamour was linked to the PFLP, the authors would need to be clear with readers about their reasoning if they believe he wasn’t actually tied to the group. They offered none.
In that earlier story, moreover, the reporters described parents pushing back against terrorist organizations when they believed their sons were wrongly claimed as members. In Amr Khamour’s case, the opposite was true. His mother donned the PFLP’s signature red keffiyeh while mourning, further confirming the affiliation.
There’s a different explanation for why Abdulrahim and Yazbek concealed the terror affiliation. Before joining the Times, both were prone to extreme and dishonest anti-Israeli rhetoric. And since they joined the newspaper, they’ve consistently tilted the scales to skew stories against the Jewish state.
They did the same, in fact, throughout their July 5 piece.
?? It's taken over a week but @nytimes has finally responded to our numerous complaints and done the right thing by publishing a correction making it crystal clear that the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. https://t.co/f2Lz3fbhIn pic.twitter.com/loqO2H2490— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) August 3, 2023
CNN’s Curious Coverage of the “Middle East” in July
Israel does of course deserve coverage and scrutiny like any other country. But the extent to which CNN has pointed its journalistic magnifying glasses toward just one small country in a vast region means that countless worthy stories are left unaddressed. It means that CNN’s audience is left largely ignorant about the realities facing 97% of the people in the region.Washington Post Writes Entire Article About Middle Eastern Opposition to Gays Without Mentioning ‘Islam’
Consider some of the stories in July that were left unaddressed on CNN’s website:
Intra-Palestinian violence in the Ein el-Hilweh “refugee” camp in Lebanon, which has left nearly a dozen dead, forced thousands to flee, and damaged property in the camp, including two schools (See BBC News);
Growing violence between Houthi rebels and government forces in Yemen over economic infrastructure and resources (See AP News);
The bolstering of U.S. military forces in the Middle East to counter Iran’s growing threat against commercial ships in the region, including two thwarted attempts to seize oil tankers (See the Wall Street Journal);
Growing concern over the prospect of Jordan sending refugees back to Syria, notwithstanding the continued human rights abuses of Bashar al-Assad’s regime (See AP News); and
The anti-migrant tensions and violence in Tunisia, which reached a deal with the European Union on the handling of migrants and economic support for the former (See BBC News).
Even on the topic of Israel, CNN.com’s audience was left without knowledge of important developments and events. While space was found for fifteen articles just on Israel’s judicial reform, stories left unaddressed included: an Israeli taken hostage in Iraq by Iran-backed terrorists; Hezbollah sabotage on the border with Israel; Palestinian protests against Hamas rule in Gaza; the Moroccan king’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and the growing prospects of a railway linking Israel and Saudi Arabia.
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Israel’s judicial system are newsworthy topics, they are not particularly unique in the region. Violence and conflict persist in places like Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey. Lebanon has been collapsing into a failed state, with a U.S.-designated terrorist entity exercising substantial control. And while some activists claim Israel deserves greater scrutiny because it receives American aid (most of which Israel is required to spend on equipment and supplies from American industries), so too do other American allies in the region like Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.
Contrary to CNN’s apparent belief, no one needs fifteen different iterations of more or less the same story. What CNN.com’s readership does deserve is accurate coverage of the region as a whole, not just what’s happening in one small country.
A free society has a combative press that vehemently argues, debates and takes on all comers. A totalitarian society has a bizarre dystopian press whose articles make no sense because they leave out crucial pieces of the puzzle. The degree to which the media is haunted by the ‘elephant in the room’ reflects the degree of political censorship that any kind of reporting now undergoes. Take this bizarre article.
Anti-LGBTQ backlash grows across Middle East, echoing U.S. culture wars – Washington Post
Really? Who lives in the Middle East?
Don’t ask Mohamad El Chamaa who focuses on Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon without ever mentioning what they have in common. Most of the article is dedicated to Turkey and its dictator, Erdogan, the leader of an Islamist party that took power in order to Islamize Turkey.
You would think that this might be relevant, but it never gets mentioned.
“In Lebanon as well, LGBTQ issues have been seized on by political heavyweights. Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia — the country’s most powerful political and military force — claimed in a televised speech in March that the United States was spearheading a campaign to change curriculums around the world to ‘promote a culture of homosexuality in schools and universities.’”
What is ‘Hezbollah’? It means the Party of Allah.
The Washington Post article keeps talking about the Middle East as if accidents of geography explain what’s going on here. It can’t bring itself to mention Islam because the Left is still in denial about the contradiction between their sexual identity politics and their alliance with Islam. So the ‘I’ word never gets mentioned even when the article is talking about Islamic parties.
Anyone who doesn’t believe the media is heavily censored need look no further.
Incredible tweet and headline. They're real, and they're spectacular. When they finally stealth edit the headline after all the ridicule I will be genuinely sad. pic.twitter.com/XkNpNkb69P— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 3, 2023
Iran hangs gays from construction cranes because America still has separate sports leagues for men and women. Tremendous content.— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 3, 2023
‘You Will Never Be Forgiven’: Relatives of Pittsburgh Synagogue Victims Confront Neo-Nazi Killer at Court Sentencing
Relatives of the 11 victims slaughtered by a neo-Nazi gunman at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in Oct. 2018 openly confronted the killer on court on Thursday, one day after a federal jury sentenced him to the death penalty.Pittsburgh synagogue gunman receives death penalty
As US District Judge Robert Colville prepared to formally sentence the gunman — 50-year-old Robert Bowers, a trucker from Baldwin, Pa., — relatives of those murdered delivered victim impact statements that described the effect of the atrocity on their lives.
Peg Durachko, the wife of 65-year-old Dr. Richard Gottfried, a dentist who was shot and killed, testified: “Mr. Bowers, you met my beloved husband in the kitchen. Your callous disregard for the person he was repulses me. Your hateful act took my soulmate from me.”
Mark Simon, whose parents, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, were also murdered, told the court that he was still in possession of their bloodstained prayer shawl. He added that he was still haunted by the 911 emergency call placed by his mother, whom Bowers shot while she was on the line.
“My parents died alone, without any living soul to comfort them or to hold their hand in their last moments,” said Simon, who condemned “that defendant” as “evil” and “cowardly,” urging the Judge Colville to show him no mercy.
“You will never be forgiven. Never,” Simon told Bowers.
Mike Wagenehim has the latest from the sentencing of Robert Bowers, the perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018 that killed 11 people in the worst antisemitic attack in US history.
FBI Investigating Spate of Antisemitic Incidents in Florida
The FBI is aiding the investigation of a spate of antisemitic incidents that occurred in Pensacola, Florida, last month, a local daily reported on Wednesday.Over 100 monthly antisemitic incidents reported in the UK in 2023
On July 20, an unknown individual heaved a brick — graffitied with a swastika and a message saying, “No Jews, F*** K****” — through the window of the Pensacola Chabad Jewish Center located in the Goulding section of the city. On Friday, another unknown individual threw two bricks through the bathroom window Temple Beth El, Florida’s first and oldest synagogue.
According to Pensacola News Journal, a total of four antisemitic incidents have happened across the city in less than two weeks. The others, police confirmed last Tuesday, involved swastika graffiti.
“We’re working with a number of our partners — our local partners, our state partners and our federal partners — to make sure that we hold accountable the person or persons that may be responsible for these incidents in our community,” Pensacola Police Chief Eric Randall said, according the paper, on Tuesday during a weekly press conference, adding, “my message to the person or persons involved is, we’re going to find you.”
The incidents in Pensacola come amid a nationwide spike in similar expressions of hate. According to an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League issued in 2023, 36 percent more such incidents took place in 2022 than the previous year, with ten incidents happening per day for a total of 3,697, the highest ever since the ADL began tracking them in 1979.
Over 100 antisemitic incidents were recorded in each of the first six months of the year according to a new report released on Thursday by the Community Security Trust (CST), an organization that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.Man given football banning order for online antisemitic abuse
The report reveals that online antisemitic incidents in the UK have skyrocketed by 37% in the first half of 2023, with Twitter playing host to a majority of these incidents.
Overall, the report shed light on antisemitism's worrying presence in the UK. Despite a modest 2% decrease in total reported antisemitic incidents compared to the first half of 2022, the figures remain troubling. A total of 803 incidents were documented during the period, ranking it the sixth-highest for the January-to-June interval. For context, 2021 registered a high of 1,371 cases, 2020 witnessed 875, and 2019 had 911.
What exactly did the data say?
Holocaust-related imagery and discourse were present in 31% of all cases, while Israel-related rhetoric was seen in 17%.
Alarming as well was a 32% spike in incidents focusing on synagogues, their infrastructure, or attendees, 16 of which targeted congregants while traveling to or from prayers.
Geographically, Greater London and Greater Manchester remained primary areas of concern, contributing to 72% of the half-year's total. Although Greater London noted a 4% drop with 447 incidents, Greater Manchester saw a startling 29% rise, totaling 132 incidents.
Beyond the visible figures, the CST also identified 328 potential incidents that, while lacking clear antisemitic markers, are still significant for ensuring the Jewish community's safety.
A man who repeatedly posted online abuse towards a Jewish football journalist has been convicted in court.
Kerry Hardwell, from Bognor, sent the antisemitic messages to a fellow supporter of Chelsea Football Club.
The 35-year-old directed the abuse online at Dan Levene, who formerly covered Chelsea Football Club as a journalist and campaigned against racism and antisemitism in football.
Hardwell also regularly posted hate speech using antisemitic tropes towards other public figures on social media.
In August last year a post on Twitter was reported to the police by Mr Levene, and an investigation was launched by Sussex Police.
Hardwell was charged with sending an offensive, indecent, menacing, obscene message or matter via a public communication network, contrary to the Communications Act.
He admitted the charge, and appeared before Worthing Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on Tuesday, July 25.
The court noted that the offence was racially aggravated, and a football banning order has been imposed.
In a victim impact statement shared with the court, Mr Levene said: “The 'Y-word' is three letters that are often thrown away by people who may claim they don't fully appreciate their collective meaning; with some football fans among that number.
??Jews remain most targeted religious group for hate crime in Canada, second overall@StatCan_eng published their police-reported hate crime data for 2022 revealing, once again, that hate crimes targeting the Black and Jewish populations remained the most commonly reported to… pic.twitter.com/fidzhDE0hE— CIJA (@CIJAinfo) August 2, 2023
Argentina fast food joint drops ‘Anne Frank burger,’ ‘Hitler fries’ after backlash
Following condemnation by the local Jewish community, a fast food restaurant in Argentina will no longer offer dishes named after Anne Frank and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and apologized for the marketing campaign.Bank of America Official Confident about Israel's Economy
Before updating its menu this week, the Honky Donky in Rafaela offered an “Ana Frank burger” with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise and “Adolf fries” topped with bacon, cheddar and green onions.
Among the other types of fries on offer are the “Benito,” “Gengis” and “Mao,” named respectively for the Italian fascist leader, Mongolian conqueror and Chinese communist dictator.
It was not clear why the Honky Donky named a menu item after Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager known for keeping a diary of her time in hiding before dying in a Nazi concentration camp, when the others were named for autocrats.
The Comunidad Judía de Rafaela condemned the restaurant over the “Ana Frank” and “Adolf” dishes, issuing a statement on its Facebook page stressing the organization’s “repulsion and indignation.” It also threatened legal action.
Ariel Rosenthal, a member of the Jewish community’s board of directors, said he first learned about the names in March and asked the eatery to change them, but no action was taken.
“We do not understand the delay in doing it,” Rosenthal told local news outlet Infobae.
In light of the backlash, Honky Donky issued an apology on social media and removed the “Adolf” fries from its menu. The “Ana Frank” burger was renamed for Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England’s King Henry VIII before being beheaded.
London-based Bernard Mensah, President of International for Bank of America, one of the biggest investment banks in the world, and CEO of its largest international subsidiary, Merrill Lynch International, told Globes he is confident about Israel's economy and sees the situation improving substantially.Touring Israel on the back of a motorbike
"The economy in Israel is dynamic and driven by the technology industry. Nevertheless, as in many other countries, the global slowdown affected Israel as well," Mensah said. "Our research team sees a slowdown in economic growth this year to a level of 2.5%. Despite Israel's special social and political challenges, this is still faster growth than we are seeing in many other parts of the world."
"When the global forecast improves, Israel will be able to restart its economy. The country's economy is cooling, inflation is falling, and economic ties in the region are on an improving trend. Fortunately, the inflation shock is small, and much more limited in comparison with other economies....Our economists see a softer landing in Israel, particularly in comparison with many other countries."
"Israel is known as 'the startup nation.' This is mainly thanks to its strong human capital, large government spending on research and development, leading universities, an entrepreneurial culture, and innovative technology. In the past two decades, Israel has become a world center in several technological segments, among them autotech, cyber, foodtech, cleantech, fintech, and Internet....The Israeli high-tech industry has great value, and when global growth recovers, we believe that it will become more attractive, and will generate opportunities in many areas."
For his very first trip to Israel last year, Karl from Canada was not interested in seeing the sights through the window of a coach bus.Ahead of new Netflix show, Gal Gadot shares thoughts on her career
Fortunately for this longtime motorcyclist, a kindred soul in Israel named Raz Tsafrir had just started offering Desert Road motorcycle tours. Karl signed up for one of 12 inaugural trips organized by Desert Road in 2022.
“Raz showed me things from a bike that I’ve never experienced before in my life, from the Sea of Galilee down to the Egyptian border. I had the time of my life,” Karl reported afterward.
Motorcycle tourism has been popular for many years in many countries. Biking, explains Tsafrir, “is a very social activity and we ride in herds.”
But even renting a motorcycle in Israel was impossible until about eight years ago due to insurance issues, says Duby Nevo, a part-time tour guide and proprietor of BikeLife Israel.
“When it became possible, I decided to do it,” says Nevo, who has 10 motorcycles available for rent and helps individual clients plan guided or self-guided itineraries.
Currently, Desert Road (guided group motorcycle touring) and BikeLife Israel (motorcycle rentals and optional guiding for individuals) are the only two businesses of their kind in Israel.
Amazing adventure on two wheels
Tsafrir saw an unmet need for guided group tours. He launched Desert Road in partnership with Issta Sport, a division of the Issta travel agency.
“I’ve been touring the world on motorcycles for 25 years,” Tsafrir tells ISRAEL21c.
“I think it’s the best way to see the hidden treasures of Israel. We have a story you won’t find anywhere else — historical, religious, geographic, cultural, food and wine – and when you add an amazing adventure on two wheels it is an experience you don’t get any other way.”
Gal Gadot’s first Hollywood audition was for the role of a James Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace,” alongside Daniel Craig. Although Gadot did not get the role, now, a decade and a half later, she finds herself playing a female version of 007 in “Heart of Stone”—a big-buck action thriller that will air on Netflix on August 11 (and which will be, if all goes as planned, the first installment of an ongoing series). The days when she was regarded as “the girl of” are long gone. Today Gal is the main attraction.SodaStream pledges 100% renewable energy
“It’s true,” the Israeli superstar told Israel Hayom in a special interview. “My first audition was for a James Bond girl. It’s funny how life turns around sometimes, isn’t it?”
Even though she has already starred in several Hollywood blockbusters—including “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” “Red Notice” and “The Fast and The Furious 6″—the current movie is actually the first project that Gadot and her husband, Yaron Varsano, developed and produced themselves with their own company, Pilot Wave.
“It was an extremely empowering and educational experience,” she said. “It was something I always wanted to do. I’m a person who really likes to create. When Yaron, my husband and partner, and I saw ‘Wonder Woman’s box office success it gave us a boost of confidence and we said to ourselves, ‘Okay, we can do it. Let’s try. What have we got to lose?’ So we decided to work on our idea and joined Skydance, which is a very large production company. They have done all the Mission: Impossible movies, for example. Together we embarked on this journey.
“We started working on this project in 2018, and it took us five or six years from the moment we thought up the idea until we could sit and talk about the movie.”
SodaStream aims to transition to 100% renewable energy at all of its global production sites in Israel by the beginning of 2024 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, the company announced Wednesday.Jewish Cultural Center to be built in Azerbaijan
SodaStream entered a corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with the global renewable energy platform Enlight. The company will supply clean energy from its solar and storage facilities to SodaStream's factories in Ashkelon and Idan Negev, where SodaStream's main production facilities are located and where its products are marketed to over 48 countries worldwide.
"SodaStream has been and will continue to be a pioneer regarding environmental responsibility, which is at the core of its business activities and products," said SodaStream International CEO Eyal Shohat.
"We are glad to be pioneers in the Israeli industry regarding the transition to renewable energies and a drastic reduction in our carbon footprint. The new strategic partnership with Enlight, a company that leads the transition to renewable energies, will allow SodaStream to take another step toward the goal we have set - a 100% renewable energy transition in all of our production sites around the world, as part of a global strategy to preserve the environment, reduce the carbon footprint, and work toward a sustainable world."
A revolutionary shift in Israel's electricity market
The agreement was made after Israel's electricity market made a revolutionary shift to allowing green power producers to enter into direct purchase agreements with major companies. SodaStream said it hopes its decision will be a catalyst for others and accelerate the renewable energy transition across the Israeli economy.
A Jewish Cultural Center will be constructed in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku near the city’s main synagogue, Azerbaijani officials announced on Thursday.Remembering the Constantine pogrom of August 1934
The center will include Jewish and Bible classes, a Sunday School for kids, classes in Hebrew, English and Juhuri, the ancient language of the Mountain Jews, as well as a kosher restaurant.
The state-funded project comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and Azerbaijan, as the centuries-long affinity between the two countries develops into an unprecedented strategic partnership.
The 10-acre plot upon which the four-story center is to be constructed was gifted to the Jewish community by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who is covering all the building costs as well, according to Rabbi Avraham Yakubov, the spiritual leader of Baku’s ancient Mountain Jews.
Construction is expected to begin in the coming months, and to be completed by the end of 2024, he said.
“In the world there has not been a place like this [Azerbaijan], where Jews have always lived at peace with their [Muslim] neighbors and where we have never once experienced antisemitism,” Yakubov told JNS. “The blossoming relations with Israel have only made it even better for us here.”
Jews from Algeria will be reminded of the Constantine pogrom which took place almost 90 years ago to the day.Emergency vehicle gifted to United Hatzalah in honor of Dee family
Jealousy and resentment of the Jews had been building among the Muslim masses of Algeria since the passing of the 1870 Decret Cremieux, which gave Jews French citizenship.
It all started on 3 August with a brawl involving a Jewish drunk and a small group of Muslims. The Jew was accused of urinating inside the famous Constantine mosque of Sidi Lakhdar. The Muslims headed for the Jewish quarter of the town, attacking Jewish passers-by and wrecking shopfronts. Fired up by the death of one Muslim, a furious mob invaded the marketplace. Rioters broke into Jewish homes and strangled their occupants. The French police and army were under instructions not to intervene.
By the time the deputy Mayor, M Morinaud, appeared on the scene, 28 people had died – mostly women, old people and children. Damage to property was put at 150 million Francs-Pointcare, affecting 1,777 people.
An emergency vehicle in honor of three members of the Dee family who were murdered in a terrorist attack in April was donated to United Hatzalah on Thursday.The Dead Sea, Jerusalem make it on top 10 list of Middle East sites
An unveiling ceremony for the state-of-the-art car took place at the Jerusalem headquarters of the volunteer emergency response organization with the participation of one of the surviving family members: Rabbi Leo Dee.
His wife, Lucy Dee, 48, and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were shot and killed by Hamas terrorists on April 7 while driving on Route 57 near Hamra Junction in the Jordan Valley.
The vehicle was donated by Avi Tobias.
After Rabbi Dee cut the ribbon, the vehicle was unveiled with the dedication text: “In loving memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, H”YD. May their life and memory endure as a blessing to their family and all of Am Yisrael. Am Yisrael Chai—Ilana and Avi Tobias.”
A photo of Lucy, Maia and Rina appears beneath the text.
The other side of the vehicle features three questions Lucy Dee used to say that everyone should ask themselves: “What have I done for someone else? What has someone else done for me? What has G-d done for me?”
The Dead Sea and Jerusalem were included on The Travel's top 10 best attractions in the Middle East on Wednesday.Teen discovers 1,500-year-old ‘magic mirror’ at Galilee excavation
Coming in at spot number eight is the Dead Sea, which is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The Dead Sea is the world’s lowest point below sea level, one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water, and one of the world’s oldest health resorts since the time of Herod the Great.
Due to the extremely high level of saline, it is impossible to sink in the water which makes swimming in the Dead Sea more like floating. The waters, muds, and salts of the Dead Sea are acclaimed for their health benefits such as soothing skin ailments, relieving pain, and reducing stress.
There are numerous spas and resorts along the Dead Sea in both Israel and Jordan. Thousands of tourists visit the Dead Sea each year to have fun floating in the water and enjoy the health benefits it has to offer.
Not too far away from the Dead Sea is Jerusalem, which is number four on The Travel’s list. The capital of Israel and one of the oldest cities in the world, it is a holy city of deep religious significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
Ancient and modern meet in Jerusalem
Jerusalem receives millions of visitors each year who come to see the city’s many religious, historical, and archaeological sites.
The Old City of Jerusalem contains many of these sites, such as the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Judaism, the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Islam, and the Via Dolorosa and Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christianity.
Also in the Old City is the City of David, an ancient archaeological site that scholars believe to be the original settlement of Jerusalem, and the Arab market, a colorful and densely packed bazaar where about 800 merchants sell their goods.
There is plenty to see and do in the more modern areas of Jerusalem as well.
A teenage student uncovered a 1,500-year-old “magical mirror” from the Byzantine period this week during an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation at the ancient site of Usha in northern Israel.How the Jews almost built a Third Temple
Aviv Weizman, from Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, was one of 500 students participating in a week-long “Survival Course” that included a 56-mile trek and participation in excavations at archaeological sites around Israel that will be opened to the public in the future. The excavation site where the mirror plaque fragment was found. Photo by Emil Aladjem/Israel Antiquities Authority.
At the site, the 17-year-old Weizman noticed an unusual pottery shard “peeping out of the ground between the walls of a building,” the IAA said on Thursday. Weizman brought the shard to Dr. Einat Ambar-Armon, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Northern Education Center, who recognized it as the plaque of a “magical mirror.”
“The fragment is part of a ‘magical mirror’ from the Byzantine period, the 4th–6th centuries C.E.,” said Navit Popovitch, the Antiquities Authority’s curator of the Classical periods.
“A glass mirror, for protection against the Evil Eye was placed in the middle of the plaque,” Popovitch explained. “The idea was that the evil spirit, such as a demon, who looked in the mirror, would see his own reflection, and this would protect the owner of the mirror. Similar mirror plaques have been found in the past as funerary gifts in tombs, in order to protect the deceased in their journey to the world to come.”
In 586 BCE, the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem. Seventy years later, Jews returning from exile rebuilt it with the permission of the Persian monarchs. The Second Temple remained standing until 70 CE, when the Romans razed it along with the rest of Jerusalem. Since then, the Third Temple has become synonymous with the messianic future. Itzchak Tessler interviews the scholar Yonatan Moss about the moment when history came close to taking a different direction:
[O]n July 19, 362, the Roman Emperor Julian arrived in the city of Antioch (now in southern Turkey). Despite being in the midst of a military campaign against the Persians, the emperor found time to meet with the Jewish community leaders in the city and asked them why they did not offer sacrifices like their ancestors. The Jews replied that their Temple had been destroyed, and in response, the emperor granted them permission to rebuild it and renew the sacrificial offerings.
“Emperor Julian had a personal interest in this matter,” explains Moss. “He was born in 331, shortly after the Roman imperial policy shifted from persecuting Christianity to tolerating and favoring it. He was raised as a Christian within the Christian imperial family, but upon reaching adulthood, he rediscovered the traditional Roman religion of his ancestors.
“According to the Christian writings of that era,” [Moss adds], “Julian . . . wanted to demonstrate to Christians that one of Jesus’ central prophecies, which foresaw the destruction of the Temple with not one stone left upon another, was incorrect. Julian sought to rebuild the Jewish Temple and to show that the Jews would return to their land. Furthermore, he aimed to emphasize that not only was he reviving the practice of live animal sacrifices, which had weakened with the establishment of Christianity, but also that the Jews were returning to their ancient practice of offering such sacrifices. He also abolished the fiscus Judaicus, a tax imposed on Jews in the Diaspora to support the Sanhedrin’s institution in the Land of Israel.”
The project was halted because of an earthquake, and stopped permanently by Julian’s death later the same year, which was followed by the empire’s reversion to Christianity.
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