Thursday, September 07, 2023

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism
In October 2023, the newly-launched Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism (ICSZ) will host a two-day conference, “Battling the ‘IHRA definition’: Theory & Activism,” to “explore the political, historical, and cultural conditions that enable IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] campaigns, and share theoretical insights and organizing tools to support resistance.” The conference will feature eight panels on “theorizing, mapping, and political education,” as well as “share materials, and focus on building attendees’ support networks to push back on IHRA campaigns.”

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism, represents the international consensus definition of this hateful ideology. It is based on similar texts composed in reaction to the antisemitic UN Durban conference on racism in 2001. Forty governments, as well as thousands of intergovernmental and local institutions, have adopted and endorsed the IHRA framework as the cornerstone to guide their policies in combating antisemitism.

The ICSZ conference is related to broader NGO campaigning seeking to discredit and replace the IHRA working definition.These concerted efforts have emerged precisely as NGO antisemitism has become a central feature of political discourse about Israel and Zionism. Many NGOs that claim to represent human rights and humanitarian values instead promulgate antisemitic rhetoric and tropes, tolerate antisemitism from executives and staff with little to no repercussions, and consistently dismiss consideration of antisemitism as a human rights issue.

About ICSZ
In August 2023, two activists from US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI),1 San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi and University of Massachusetts Boston Professor Heike Schotten, co-authored an article explaining the rationale for launching ICSZ. They described the Institute as “explicitly anti-Zionist” and “strictly committed to abiding by the BDS picket line.” Abdulhadi and Schotten additionally link the Institute to “the long history of struggle” against efforts to “conflate Zionist politics and ideology with Jews or Jewishness.”

According to its “Points of Unity,” ICSZ affirmed that “Zionism is a settler colonial racial project. Like the US, Israel is a settler colonial state. The Institute opposes Zionism and colonialism, and abides by the international, Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.” ICSZ strives to be “the first step toward establishing a new academic discipline that will wrest the study of Zionism from its “presumed exclusive location in Jewish Studies…Critical Zionism Studies…does not simply interpret the world but also works to change it” (emphasis added).

ICSZ plans on granting “annual fellowships for students and academics, conferences, [and] publications.”

NGOs Co-sponsoring the Conference
ICSZ is coordinating its conference with a host of anti-Israel NGOs.

According to ICSZ, “The organizing collective is thrilled to be working with such an incredible, powerful, and varied set of co-sponsors.” Pro-BDS NGO co-sponsors include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Friends of Sabeel North America, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), USACBI, Sparkplug Foundation,2 and various branches of Students for Justice in Palestine.
The Soviet spin doctors who sowed the seeds of left-wing Israelophobia
As a sign of the diplomatic objectives of Israelophobic disinformation, teams of Zionologists, as they were called, were supervised by Ivan Milovanov, head of the Kremlin’s Middle East section, who personally rubber-stamped all output on “international Zionism”.

Diplomatic leaders from the developing world who visited Moscow were assured of goodwill if they joined in condemnations of “imperialism and Zionism”, while Russian embassies overseas covertly disseminated the toxic disinformation. In the early 1970s, the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, set up a special propaganda council at the embassy in DC. Its aims included: shearing off public support for the Jewish state; causing people to question the loyalties of “Zionists”; driving a wedge between the governments of the United States and Israel; and convincing the US public to abhor “the brazen face of the leaders of the newly minted Zionist ‘higher race’ from Tel Aviv”. Parallel KGB operations worked to sow division between Jews and blacks in America and undermine Jewish communities.

These efforts were bolstered by worldwide Soviet sympathisers. Whether he did so cynically, in earnest or simply by osmosis, the revolutionary icon Che Guevara — who visited Gaza in 1959 — made his own contribution to the spread of Israelophobia.

In 1967, in an article for Britain’s New Left Review, he mapped out the struggle between “imperialism” and socialists across the globe. When he came to the Middle East, he offhandedly described “Israel, backed by the imperialists, and the progressive countries of that zone”. This was “just another of the volcanoes threatening eruption in the world today”, he wrote.

In reality, of course, the Jews were not a tool of imperial powers but a wandering people with indigenous roots seeking to form a postcolonial state. And the Arab countries were among the least “progressive” in the world. But when ideology comes first, reality makes little difference. In 1990, just before the USSR collapsed, its official newspaper, Pravda, published a belated mea culpa of sorts. “Considerable damage was done by a group of authors who, while pretending to fight Zionism, began to resurrect many notions of the antisemitic propaganda of the Black Hundreds and of fascist origin,” it admitted. “Hiding under Marxist phraseology, [propagandists] came out with coarse attacks on Jewish culture, on Judaism and on Jews in general.”

But it was too late. The virus had been released. As Dr Jovan Byford, the psychologist and conspiracy theory expert, pointed out, it had reached the point where “the far-left in Britain and on the Continent viewed Middle Eastern politics almost exclusively through the prism of Soviet anti-Zionism”.

In the minds of millions around the world, Soviet agitprop succeeded in redefining Zionism from an answer to millennia of persecution to a bourgeois, imperialist project. In this way, it wiped antisemitism clean, allowing progressives to indulge an old hatred by convincing themselves that they were merely taking a principled stand against Israel.

Across the decades, the Cold War communists and contemporary Israelophobes both say: we’re not antisemitic, just anti-Zionist. But theirs is a deep and ancient bigotry, resting on disinformation and paranoia.

Nearly six decades on, Soviet Israelophobia continues to grip the modern left. It finds an easy target in those lacking knowledge about Israel, Zionism and Jews, and possessing impulses inherited unchallenged from previous centuries.
White-Collar Law Firms Sponsor Award for Anti-Israel UN Official
Several white-collar law firms are sponsoring an event next month that will award the United Nations official responsible for pursuing war crimes charges against Israel.

Navi Pillay, the chairwoman of the U.N. body investigating alleged Israeli human rights crimes, is slated to receive the American Branch of the International Law Association's 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award, according to promotional materials for the event.

The event is sponsored by several law firms, including Gibson Dunn, Debevoise & Plimpton, and White & Case. These firms' financial support for the event is already generating pushback from pro-Israel advocates who are pressuring them to pull their endorsements.

A similar controversy erupted around last year's association conference, when White & Case and others backed a panel discussion titled "Racism and the Crime of Apartheid in International Law." That event featured speaker Omar Shakir, a longtime Israel critic who claims the world's only Jewish nation is trying to "maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians."

This year's award for Pillay, who will also deliver a keynote address, is driving even fiercer opposition among Israel's defenders in light of the U.N. official's efforts to use the United Nations as a vehicle to erode the Jewish state's legitimacy.

"It is deeply surprising that not only major law firms like White & Case and Debevoise & Plimpton are headline sponsors of the [association's] conference where a recognized anti-Semite, Navi Pillay, is being honored," said Robert Garson, the president of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. "That Gibson Dunn and Cardozo Law School are lesser sponsors indicates that [the association] has duped them into lending their name to this conference, by failing to disclose the honorees, in advance."

"All sponsors," Garson added, "should reconsider having their names allied to Ms. Pillay, who has been roundly criticized even by U.N. delegates for her unhealthy focus on Israel."

Why We Should Stop Saying ‘Pro-Israel’
When we say “pro-Israel” we imply that there is a “con” to Israel’s legitimacy. Take the case of abortion and women’s rights. If I walk by a protest and see “pro-life” signage, I immediately seek to understand the other side, that is the side of pro-abortion advocates. Second, when we couch our fight against antisemitism by using the term “pro-Israel,” we distance ourselves from the beleaguered history of Jew-hatred. How so?

Any serious student of Jewish history will tell you that anti-Jewish animus is an age-old virus that mutates. As French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henry Lévi wrote, “Antisemitism is a very special form of madness, one of the features of which has always been, at every step in its history, choosing the right words to make its madness look reasonable.” Keywords here are “the right words.” Yes, the antisemite is a wily creature who markets this age-old hatred in such a fashion as to offer the civilized world a reasonable cause to hate the Jews.

A vivid example is that of failed German politician Wilhelm Marr who, in 1872 coined the term “antisemitism” precisely to distance himself from the benighted term, Judenhass (Judeophobia), which was rooted in Medieval Christian tenets. A man of reason and science, Marr proudly proclaimed that he does not harbor hatred of Jews for their religion or character, but rather for their racial type. Popularizing the term “antisemitism,” salons around Western Europe proudly used the sophisticated term. Sound familiar? How many times have we heard from the pulpit, “I would like to make it clear: I am not an antisemite and vehemently denounce all forms of bigotry and racism. I am an anti-Zionist because I care about human rights.” Anti-Zionism, thus, is a linguistic camouflage for the most enduring and oldest hatred: Jew-hatred.

Equally detrimental in our struggle to combat Jew-hatred is the statement “anti-Israel,” which becomes an effective fig leaf for Jew-haters who would recoil from overt, classical antisemitism. How easily, then, we let them off the hook when we, ourselves, do not resolutely state that being against the existence Jewish state is not simply being “anti-Israel,” but anti-Jewish.

Understanding the shapeshifting profile of Jew-hatred, we identify three distinct historic eras: the era of Judeophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Zionism. In the era of “Judeophobia” the Jew was hated for his religious character; in the era of “antisemitism” he was loathed for his racial impurity; today, and in the era of “anti-Zionism,” the Jew is hated for violating human rights.

For the past 20 years, we have been doing mental acrobatics, trying to prove to the world that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. They say, anti-Zionism is merely criticism of Israeli policy. But that sounds just about as reasonable as stating that antisemitism, in the 19th century, was a way to criticize Jewish intermarriage rates. Whether you believe in a God that bestowed upon His people the Land of Israel is an irrelevant point; in this era of anti-Zionism, Jewish identity is being tried. Are we a religion, a race, a nation? If we are a nation, we originate from a place. The sooner we all agree and embrace our Jewish nationalism, the faster and more efficient we will be in uniting around the basic idea that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

Imagine for a moment if someone said to a Jewish student on campus, “have you heard about the anti-Israel event next week?” and the Jewish student responds, “you mean the anti-Jewish event?” The rhetorical move is simple, but the impact is significant.

To take back our dignity, we must grasp the power of language and look inward; that is, at our role in creating an optimal reality. We cannot solely blame our detractors for using terms such as “settler-colonialism,” “West Bank,” “Palestine,” “Occupied Territories,” or the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In fact, it is precisely because we have capitulated to that narrative and those words that we have found ourselves in the defensive position; in fact, it is precisely because we have allowed the liars and propagandists to continue their anti-Jewish campaigns we find ourselves having to defend our very identity.

Perhaps a useful place to look at is the conflict itself. For far too long, many treated the conflict as one having to do with land. Israelis themselves were willing to give up land in exchange for peace. And what did Israel get in return? Terror. No, it was not reciprocated in kind; in fact, it further emboldened the radical Arab Palestinians. And now, Jews in the Diaspora, who find ourselves besieged on the battlefield of ideas, when we give up on language and narrative, naively think that our efforts will be reciprocated in kind.

To regain the initiative, enterprising Zionist activists would be wise to start with language and gather experts in the field. We dare not call them pro-Israel.
Jonathan Tobin: Antisemitism won't be stopped by censoring Musk's X
In short, it's clear that Musk can't be trusted to be the guardian of free speech he wants us to think he is. Yet no matter how disappointing his conduct has proved to be, none of that justifies the ADL's desire to reinstate the old Twitter censorship of conservatives.

This is a debate that has been raging for the past four years since actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was given a platform by the ADL to push for more censorship on Facebook in the name of eradicating antisemitism. He argued that social media companies should be booting Jew-haters off of their platforms, and their failure to do so was fueling a surge in antisemitism.

The problem with that point of view was proven in the following years as Big Tech began to listen to him. Instead of just banning lunatics and trolls like the Groypers, the Silicon Valley oligarchs who run these companies put in place practices that enabled wide-ranging censorship of political viewpoints on a range of subjects from conservatives, including pushback against authoritarian and pointless government policies that aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

For all of my disagreements with Greenblatt and the ADL, there can be no compromise with or rationalization of the likes of Jones, Woods, Fuentes, and his Groypers. Still, that shouldn't be interpreted as a justification of ADL's position on Internet censorship. While social media platforms are within their rights to shut down accounts that promote hatred, they seem incapable of doing so without engaging in censorship of legitimate political stances.

The world would be better off if the Jew-haters were silenced, but we can't trust the ADL or Big Tech censors to do so without engaging in conduct that undermines the freedom of expression that is essential to democracy. It's difficult to weigh the right balance between these two concerns, but as much as Musk is deserving of criticism for conduct that can be justly described as enabling antisemitism, that shouldn't be treated as a vindication of ADL's position or its pose as the arbiter of what should or shouldn't be allowed to be posted online. Jewish security can't be obtained at the cost of sacrificing free speech.
Ron Coleman: The ADL Has Lost Its Way. Elon Musk Is Right to Stand Up to Its Censorship
The national ADL, like the ACLU, the NAACP, and other formerly "apolitical" civil rights groups, is now merely a tax-exempt cadre of the national Democratic Party. Anyone paying any kind of attention knows this. And as the Democratic Party has moved further into the fringes of Left-wing lunacy, the ADL has moved with it—whether a Jewish "antidefamation" issue is at stake or not. The party requires it.

So it should come as no surprise that "X" (Twitter) CEO Elon Musk is now claiming the ADL has engaged in relentless efforts to delegitimize X, falsely smearing the platform and its owner for providing an antisemitic haven for "hate speech." Per Musk, the ADL has gone so far as to lean on advertisers not to do business there. No shrinking violet himself, Musk has gone as far as threatening to sue the ADL for defamation. Naturally, Musk's objections to being defamed "just prove" that Musk "really is" an antisemite.

I, too, am (still) not much of a shrinking violet, and like Musk have not hesitated to express my view that the ADL has lost its way. As an Orthodox Jew, I want people—especially American conservatives—to know that the ADL does not speak for all Jews. And I want to draw attention to the fact that the ADL is largely silent when national figures and institutions aim nasty rhetoric and resentment at the most visible Jews, or what we call in my house "the Jewiest Jews."

The ADL has let our community down so many times that its silence is not even a letdown anymore. All but the most institutionally constrained Orthodox Jews openly reciprocate the contempt the ADL seems to harbor for traditional Judaism, its values, and its people. The widespread belief in my community is that ADL does not object to public expressions of hatred and fear of Orthodox Jews because the assimilated Jews that run the place share those sentiments themselves.

My own disdain for the formerly righteous ADL reached a peak a few years ago, when I learned just how far its commitment to leftist dogma went. I encountered it as part of my work as a lawyer who does both defamation and free speech litigation. Trying to get my arms around the ways smear groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center go about deplatforming disfavored personalities, I kept bumping into the same rogue's gallery, and ADL was, far more often than not, part of the pro-censorship coalition.

Today's ADL operates hand in hand with other formerly august institutions such as the SPLC and CAIR, dedicated to the proposition that all speech is not created equal. Having failed to persuade, the Left is now committed to censorship. And as state and federal governments get in on the act, the ACLU and other self-described champions of civil liberties are silent, or even cheer them on.

This betrayal is especially disappointing in a Jewish organization. Fearless dissent was once held up as a Jewish value. Now, it's deemed a sin worthy of banishment from the camp of humanity in the new order the ADL serves.

The ADL's efforts to censor Twitter confirms what we have known for years: Not only is today's ADL not doing the world some good. It is doing something much worse.

How much longer will we be allowed to say so?

Vivek Ramaswamy hosted by podcaster who says Jews 'own almost everything'
Who is Albert Faleski?
Faleski went on a tear last year after Trump came under fire from Republicans for dining with Kanye West, the rapper who now goes by Ye and who had begun to relentlessly peddle antisemitic content, and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.

In one tweet at the time, Faleski, who also goes by An0maly, said, “Zionists have the Republican Party by the nuts.” In a separate thread he said Jews pay Black celebrities to attack white people. Jews, he said, were “A group of people who statistically own almost everything convincing the world they are the #1 victim & punching down on other races.”

Ramaswamy greeted Faleski warmly, telling him, “It’s good to be here.” A spokeswoman for his campaign said he was unaware of Faleski’s views on Jews going into the interview. She noted that it was otherwise a contentious interview, with Faleski challenging Ramaswamy over his past as work in the biotech industry.

The interview was indeed combative, with Faleski seeking to find contradictions in Ramaswamy’s comments in his past statements on issues including whether he agreed with Trump’s falsehoods about winning the 2020 election. “I’m just not sure which one you actually believe,” Faleski said of the falsehoods and the accurate reporting.

Faleski also asked Ramaswamy about a $50,000 scholarship he accepted when he was 24 from Paul Soros, the late brother of George Soros, the Jewish billionaire and progressive megadonor who is at the center of myriad antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Faleski seemed less interested in the Soros connection than in whether Ramaswamy was exaggerating how needy he was when he applied for the scholarship. Ramaswamy however was at pains to distinguish Paul from George Soros, whom he depicted as a nefarious influence.

“I think the big question that comes up with who’s the bogeyman pulling the strings,” Ramaswamy said of George Soros. “I have no tie to George Soros other than criticizing him.”
Ramaswamy Campaign Cuts Off Free Beacon Access After Appearance on Anti-Semitic YouTuber's Podcast
Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign said it would no longer facilitate access between the Washington Free Beacon and the candidate after the Free Beacon reported that Ramaswamy appeared on a podcast hosted by an anti-Semitic YouTuber on Tuesday.

The campaign’s decision comes after the Free Beacon reported on anti-Semitic comments, including the assertion that both the left and right push for "speech censorship on behalf of big Jewish power," made by social media influencer Albert Faleski, also known as "An0maly," who interviewed Ramaswamy this week.

Ramaswamy spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin said on Tuesday that the Free Beacon acted in "bad faith" by highlighting Faleski’s comments in the context of Ramaswamy’s appearance on the show, adding that the campaign plans to cut off the Free Beacon’s access.

Ramaswamy appeared on Faleski’s show because he will talk to any media outlet, even controversial ones, she said, adding that Ramaswamy wasn’t aware of Faleski’s anti-Semitic comments before the interview, but might have appeared on the show even if he was aware because of the campaign’s open media policy.

This open media policy apparently doesn’t extend to the Free Beacon.

NYU Praised by Academic, Civil Rights Groups for Declining to Host Anti-Zionist Conference
US Jewish groups on Wednesday cheered New York University (NYU) for confirming that it will not host a conference that a California-based anti-Zionist organization planned to hold on its campus next month.

The Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism (ICSZ), which declares on its website that Zionism is a “colonial racial project” and that Israel is a “settler colonial state,” planned to hold a conference titled “Battling the IHRA Definition” over Oct. 13 and 14 at both NYU and the University of California (UC), Santa Cruz. For months, NYU was listed on an advertisement promoting the event.

However, NYU said in comments first reported this week by the Jewish Journal that it never agreed to host the event and that a student group’s request for a space for the conference was denied due to lack of availability.

Asked by The Algemeiner on Wednesday to clarify why ICSZ continued to affiliate NYU with the event, university spokesperson Jon Beckman said, “I can’t say.”

Before NYU’s clarification, Jewish and civil rights groups chastised the school for seemingly providing ICSZ with a platform. StandWithUs, a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel, issued a statement describing NYU’s participation as “troubling,” arguing that “the manifestation of this conference’s antisemitism are manifold.”

ICSZ was founded earlier this year by Christine Hong, chair of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies department at UC Santa Cruz, and Emmaia Gelman, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College.

Last month, Hong argued during a podcast interview that ethnic studies should teach “the extraordinary violence of Zionism, the settler colonial violence, [and] the militarism that is inflicted on Palestine and Palestinian people.” She added that “a critique of Zionism is part and parcel of the field of [ethnic studies].”
Urge UPenn to Condemn Antisemitic Conference
We urge President Magill and the Administration of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) to strongly condemn the antisemitic speakers and conduct set to be featured at the coming “Palestine Writes Festival” on campus from September 22-24.

At issue is not a question of freedom of speech but of the victimization and marginalization of Jewish and Israeli students on campus. Just consider some of the speakers to be featured:
Musician Roger Waters, who within the last year, has featured Nazi symbols at his concerts and desecrated the memory of Anne Frank. Waters has also supported Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a platform that calls for the delegitimization and destruction of the State of Israel.
Sami El-Arian, who was previously indicted over his alleged involvement with the PIJ but struck a plea deal.
Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN after his on-air calls for a Palestinian State “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea,” thus covering the entire territory of Israel.
Huwaida Arraf, founder of an organization - the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) - which she herself has disclosed includes members of the terrorist groups Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Holding such a conference on this storied campus will make Jewish and Israeli students feel unsafe. Jewish members of the student body, as well as faculty, staff, and visitors, will feel uncomfortable wearing Jewish symbols such as kippot/yarmulkas, jewelry featuring the Star of David, or clothing with Hebrew lettering in public while the conference is taking place.
New York City Renews Its Battle on Hasidic Education
For the past few years, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has been pursuing an investigation into several ḥaredi yeshivas suspected of failing to meet the minimum educational standards required of private schools. On June 30, media outlets reported that the DOE had concluded its investigation. Melissa Langsam Braunstein describes how authorities are continuing to mishandle the situation:
According to last year’s revisions to state regulations, reviews should be “informed by and respectful of the cultural and religious beliefs and educational philosophy . . . in nonpublic schools.” Additionally, “instructional programs in nonpublic schools need not demonstrate perfect congruence between public and nonpublic school instruction.” DOE’s reviews convey neither respect nor an understanding of yeshiva education. Rather, they highlight that yeshivas fail at being public schools.

The letters to four yeshivas deemed not to be providing substantially equivalent instruction say they did “not satisfy the requirements of any of the [substantial equivalency] pathways.” Neither DOE nor the New York State Education Department (NYSED) explained whether the yeshivas were asked to identify preferred pathways, but last September, NYSED officially granted schools until December 2023 to specify them.

If ḥasidic parents wanted their children in New York City public schools, where a majority of students can’t read proficiently, ḥasidic children would be there. They are not.

Yeshiva parents know they face hostile forces, eager to overhaul their way of life. But other Americans with unfashionable values should consider this campaign against yeshivas a warning. Empowering the government to micromanage religious and other nonpublic education would homogenize all schools, and there would be no escaping the dominant educational culture.
Toronto event to focus on antisemitism at Canadian schools
Canada recognized the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in 2019, and Ontario adopted it in 2020. However, many school boards in the province have opted not to adopt the definition.

“They have not received official communication in that regard from the Ministry of Education,” Rabbi Corey Margolese, founder of JTeach, told JNS.

Margolese is organizing a Sept. 10 event titled “Stronger Together to End Jew Hatred,” which will take place at the Orthodox synagogue Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto (“the BAYT”).

It aims to “provide attendees with the knowledge to recognize and counter Jew-hatred within the Canadian education system,” the rabbi told JNS. “This event will show how the Jewish community and its allies can work together to make a meaningful impact in fighting Jew-hatred.”

According to an online announcement, the event will address implementing the IHRA working definition in Ontario schools; banning antisemitic Al-Quds Day rallies; challenging the “antisemitic aspects” of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory (CRT) in American education; and “tackle systemic antisemitism in post-secondary institutions.”

Al-Quds Day rallies, which take place at prominent universities across Canada on the last Friday of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, vilify Jews and Israel, according to Margolese.
Tory MP hires councillor suspended by Labour after posting about ‘Zionist lobby’
A Conservative MP has apologised for failing to do due diligence in hiring a disgraced councillor who had shared posts about “Nazi-Zionists” and “British MPs working for Israel” — but has insisted that he will not give him the sack.

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said he knew Ansar Ali had been suspended by Labour in 2021 for alleged antisemitism but had not “closely checked” the reasons for the disciplinary action. He had not seen a JC article revealing further controversial posts by Ali, he added.

The MP is continuing to employ Ali, a former Labour councillor, as a caseworker and translator in his constituency office.

Bristow said he wanted to give the former councillor the chance to “make amends”. Ali “regrets deeply this social media activity and now sees clearly why it is antisemitic”, he added.

Ali served as a Labour representative on Peterborough council from 2015 until May this year. He was suspended by Sir Keir Starmer’s party in 2021 after posting that he was “boycotting the biased BBC” because it “didn’t want to upset the Zionist Israeli government lobby”.

He was reinstated in July 2022 after a party investigation. But last year, the JC revealed that he had also shared a post asking, “How many British MPs are working for Israel?” He had also posted a claim that a Nazi-era medal, struck for propaganda purposes, with a Star of David on one side and a swastika on the other, was evidence of “Nazi-Zionist collaboration”.

Bristow acknowledged that he had been aware of Ali’s suspension when he gave him his job, and that although he had been a magistrate, community activist and councillor for many years, “this does not give him a free pass”.
Why I have employed a former Labour councillor who was once suspended for antisemitism?
Some of the material he commented on is unacceptable. Stating an article was ‘interesting and thought-provoking’ that asked how many British MPs are working for Israel not only advances stereotypes, it indicates to others there is value in something which is fundamentally anti-Jewish at its core.

Similarly sharing an article about a medal dating back to the Nazi era, bearing a swastika on one face and a Star of David on the reverse was grotesque propaganda used by the Nazis and can never be justified.

Discussing this with Ansar, he regrets deeply this social media activity and now sees clearly why it is antisemitic. In an environment where material such as this (and worse) is being shared openly, he should have known much better.

He believes - as I do - we need to go much further than simply apologising and moving on. I think all councillors in Peterborough need to go through antisemitism training as a matter of course. We have a deserved reputational issue. We owe it to Peterborough to address it.

I know some will disagree with my decision to give Ansar a chance to make amends. People may be disappointed. I understand this.

I fully expect Labour locally will attack me personally and try to suggest we are all the same.

But I am convinced that Ansar will stand with me in the fight against hatred and antisemitism. He will use his experience and mistakes as lessons for others. He will work to bring our city’s diverse communities together based on mutual respect. Ultimately the proof will be in actions, not words, and I look forward to this being demonstrated.

By having his support, I will make a bigger difference than asking him to walk away.

MSNBC’s Velshi Invents the Facts to Bash Israel
With hosts like Ayman Mohyeldin and Mehdi Hasan, opinions at MSNBC about Israel are strong, but facts are dispensable or, at best, malleable. Such is the level of fairness and accuracy that one could be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC host monologue about Israel with another unhinged rant by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations.

The latest example comes from Ali Velshi, who spent much of his Sunday morning weaving a narrative of an evil Jewish state, threading together outright lies with material omissions to tell his false tale of a brutal, undemocratic apartheid state. As is typical at MSNBC, the host’s guests on the subject included only those who largely align with him ideologically and whom he could count on refraining from substantively challenging his blatant lies.

Consequently, the network’s audience was once again left not just uninformed, but disinformed.

Some of Velshi’s false claims were transparently malicious, like his description of the 2023 fatalities in Israel as such: “According to the UN, nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in Israel and the West Bank since the start of this year. That is the highest number since 2005. Apparently, some 30 Israelis have also been killed in these clashes.” Almost none of the Israelis were killed in “clashes.” Rather, almost all of them were civilians going about their business who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. For example, when Lucy Dee and her two daughters were gunned down on the road to a family trip to Tiberias, they were not engaged in “clashes.”

On the other hand, the vast majority of those “nearly 200 Palestinians” were killed either in clashes or while carrying out terror attacks. Despite lying about the circumstances of the Israeli deaths, Velshi refrains from mentioning this detail when it comes to the Palestinians. The host’s selective commentary also references only an increase in “brutal [Israeli] settler attacks,” omitting that the growth in the number of Palestinian attacks on Israelis preceded and has far outpaced the spike in settler attacks.
BBC’s Bateman again promotes NGO talking points on ‘use of force’
September 2nd saw the appearance of a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page which was promoted (also on social media) as follows:

The report itself is headlined ‘Palestinian shot in back of head puts Israel’s use of force under scrutiny’ and it relates to an incident which took place on August 22nd during an arrest operation following the terror attack in Huwara three days earlier. As reported by Israeli media outlets, that incident – which took place during rioting by Palestinians in the town of Beita – is under investigation by the Police Internal Investigations Department.

Tom Bateman opens his report with a description of “mobile phone footage” allegedly showing the shooting of Ameed al-Jaghoub. The source of that footage is not identified by Bateman and readers are not given any information on the topic of what al-Jaghoub had been doing before the filming began or why he was at that particular location at the time, beyond the following statement which appears later in the report:
“Residents threw stones and broken masonry at armoured troop carriers as they entered. Witnesses told the BBC that Israeli paramilitary border police officers exited a jeep that had stopped at the top of the street where Mr Jaghoub had joined a crowd of young men and teenagers.”

Bateman’s report repeatedly states that al-Jaghoub was “unarmed” at the time and was “rushing to help a wounded man” when he was shot without providing any evidence to support those claims.

The report is based on statements from mostly anonymous “witnesses” and from al-Jaghoub’s family. In addition, Bateman amplifies talking points made by “human rights groups”:
HRC In Whitehorse Star: Pro-Palestinian Letter Writer Took Liberty With The Truth In Order To Malign Israel
In an August 25 letter published in the Whitehorse Star, HRC Assistant Director Robert Walker rebutted egregious falsehoods spread by an anti-Israel letter writer, including the allegation that Israel is an occupier of the Gaza Strip when in reality the Jewish State hasn’t been present there for nearly 20 years.

Palestinians Falsely Blame Israel
In his August 18 letter (“Israel can’t be considered a democracy”), Mohamed Khalaf claims that Israel cannot be described as a democracy “as long as millions of Palestinians live under Israeli rule as subjects of a military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Khalaf is playing fast and loose with the truth.

Israel has not occupied the Gaza Strip since August 2005, when the country pulled all its citizens out in a painful – and unrequited – concession of peace towards the Palestinians. Not a single Israeli soldier or civilian is inside Gaza.

As for Judea & Samaria (often called the West Bank by the news media), the majority of Palestinians live in Area A, under the direct security and civil control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israelis are forbidden from entering the area.

Israel retains extensive legal rights to the entirety of Judea & Samaria, which is also home to hundreds of thousands of Israelis, and referring to Israel’s ancient presence as a “military occupation” is colourful, but far from accurate.

The Palestinians in Judea & Samaria are not Israeli civilians, but Palestinians, and are governed by the PA.
Kanye West Collaborates on ‘Israel’ Track, Raps About Meeting the Devil After Antisemitic Remarks Last Year
Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, is featured on fellow rapper Al Be Back’s new album where they collaborate on a track titled “Israel,” a striking choice following the torrent of public antisemitic comments made by Ye last year.

On the fifth track of Al Be Back’s upcoming album, which is called Dying Near A Charger, Ye raps about encountering the devil and trying to free Larry Hoover, a former mobster who is currently serving six life sentences in prison in Colorado. Ye raps: “Tell me right now is it real/ Y’all be talking about the devil I seen a close-up/ Every night I could’ve told everything they told us/ They was talking about the style I said ‘n___’ Moses/ Ain’t nobody pardon Hoover but we got the closest.”

The track’s title, which has the same spelling as the Middle Eastern country, is pronounced in the song as “Is real” and “Is it real.” Al Be Back released a snippet of Israel this week on Instagram Live, where he rapped along to Ye’s verse while jumping up and down. A release date for the song has not been announced.

The collaboration is a follow-up to the duo’s partnership on Ye’s 2007 album Graduation, where Al Be Back appeared on the bonus track Good Night alongside Mos Def. Ye is also set to appear on another track on Al Be Back’s upcoming album, a song called Concussions that also features Fivo Foreign.

Ye went on an antisemitic tirade last year starting in October, when he posted on X/Twitter that he wanted to “go death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE [sic],” a reference to the US military’s DEFCON system for rating how alert the armed forces should be at a given moment in the face of a threat. The rapper was criticized around the world for the comment, temporarily suspended from X — formerly called Twitter — and lost his Yeezy partnership with Adidas — as well as his brand partnerships with Balenciaga, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Vogue, GAP, Peloton and others. The rapper has since reactivated his X account.

30 Israeli tech innovators to bring climate change solutions to COP28
Thirty Israeli technology companies were selected to represent Israel at this year’s 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) climate change conference in Dubai in two months.

More than 200 companies applied for the opportunity. The Israel Innovation Authority selected them in close collaboration with the Environmental Protection Ministry.

“The delegation of technology companies will bring innovative solutions and breakthroughs to the international stage and will hold a series of high-level meetings to assist countries dealing with climate challenges such as wildfires, floods, water scarcity, and heat waves,” said Ronen Levy, CEO of the Foreign Ministry, who is leading the delegation along with the Environmental Protection Ministry. “This is an exceptional opportunity for the Israeli industry, and I congratulate the companies selected to participate.”

Which are the Israeli companies going to COP28?
The list includes established companies, start-ups, and technology incubators. The list of established companies includes HomeBiogas, UBQ Materials, Envomed, BlueGreen Water Technologies, Asterra, Clariter, GenCell, Salicrop, Liwa Bio-Technologies, and TaKaDu. The list of start-ups is Slibio, CAPSULE-Minimal, Sphere, Gigablue, Criaterra, ImaginDairy, GreenEye Tech, AgroScout, Copprint, Daika Wood, ANINA, NT-Tao, Xfloat, BeeHero, SolCold, CarbonBlue, Meat.The End, and BioBetter. Finally, the incubators are i4Valley and NET ZERO.
Israel Sells Trophy Active Protection System to UK
Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced it had signed an initial 20 million pound contract to supply the Trophy Active Protection System to the British military for their Challenger 3 main battle tank and other vehicles.

In a series of live fire tests conducted in 2022, the Trophy system intercepted well over 90% of threats targeting a Challenger 3 tank.

Rafael has sold the system to the U.S., Germany and Norway, and it has been in use by the IDF for over a decade.

The Trophy system has succeeded in thwarting incoming fire from various weapons over 7,000 times.
Israel's Elbit Awarded $200 Million Contract by European Country for Counter-Fire Solutions
Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE:ESLT) today announced it has been awarded two contracts by a European country worth $200 million to supply a C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence) solution to artillery battalions and a Hostile Fire Counter Attack (HFCA) solution. The contracts will be performed by 2026, with options for further extensions.

The C4I solution will provide advanced C4I capabilities to four battalions of 155mm howitzers guns, including Elbit Systems' SDR radios and the E-Lynx and TORCH-X Fire applications. The artillery C4I solution will allow the customer to effectively command its artillery battalions and increase operational effectiveness of its weapon systems, while the HFCA solution will allow the customer to detect enemy fire source and close the operational cycle by destroying the enemy fire source using Elbit Systems' artillery C4I solution.

These solutions will be integrated into the customer's wider artillery C4I system, also provided by Elbit Systems. Elbit Systems will leverage the company's extensive worldwide experience of delivering C4I and communications solutions to artillery units and armed forces, while integrating various sensors that will increase operational effectiveness.
Stained glass from Texas synagogue targeted by arson rebuilt into 3D eternal flame
A portion of the stained glass that survived the 2021 arson of an Austin, Texas, synagogue has been rebuilt into a three-dimensional eternal flame that will be installed in the social hall of the synagogue’s building next week.

While the main sanctuary of the synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, is still not open, the social hall has been renovated into a transitional worship space. On August 25, the congregation hosted its first Friday night services in the building in nearly two years, and will gather there for the High Holidays beginning on September 15.

In November 2021, then-18-year-old Franklin Barrett Sechriest was arrested on local and federal arson charges for setting fire to the synagogue, a Reform congregation. The fire caused over $250,000 worth of damage to the synagogue, according to an email from a spokesperson representing the synagogue. It destroyed the synagogue’s historic carved wooden doors, damaged the building’s exterior and its stained glass windows, and caused smoke damage throughout the sanctuary, according to a donation page on the synagogue’s website.

The glass that has been refashioned into an eternal flame, which stays perpetually lit, sits on a square wooden platform and is carved into the shape of a fire rising up from the wood in red, orange, yellow and blue. It will be hung over the bimah, where the Torah is read and where the rabbi leads services.

While the synagogue was closed for repairs, the congregation met for services at the nearby St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Lori Adelman, who served as president of the synagogue during the fire, says being back in the auditorium two weeks ago left her speechless.

“I was so overwhelmed with the energy in that room, the pure joy of our members being together,” she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It’s overwhelming the amount of love and care that’s gone into creating this new space.”
Crack unit of rock-climbing archaeologists claims success in curbing antiquities theft
In 2016, international media was ablaze with confirmation that the Israel national archives held the oldest Hebrew mention of the city of Jerusalem. According to freshly released C14 dating, the fragile piece of papyrus originated in the 7th century BCE, the First Temple period.

The extremely rare papyrus — one of just three extant Hebrew papyri from that period — was reportedly obtained by the Israel Antiquities Authority during a sting operation against an antiquities dealer caught in the act of purchasing artifacts from looters in 2012.

A monumental discovery in its own right, for the head of the IAA’s theft prevention unit Amir Ganor, the Jerusalem papyrus represented much more: It was a wake-up call.

“We began to look for the Jerusalem papyrus’s probable origin and determined it came from the Judean Desert,” Ganor told The Times of Israel at the IAA’s Jerusalem headquarters on Wednesday. And, as usual, he said, “Whenever we got to a likely cave, we found it had already been looted” leaving little for archaeologists to salvage.

The IAA turned to the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, then part of the Prime Minister’s Office, and received a greenlight — and budget — to train a crack team of rappelling and rock-climbing archaeologists to begin an unprecedented survey of the caves of the Judean Desert.

Speaking with The Times of Israel at a celebratory unveiling of the team’s most recent discovery — four almost perfectly preserved Roman swords dating from the era of the Bar Kochba Revolt — Dr. Eitan Klein, the deputy head of the Theft Prevention Unit, said the Judean Desert operation marks the first time that the unit is playing offense versus defense with antiquities looters.
University of Pennsylvania buys medieval Hebrew manuscript
A leaf (folio) from a Hebrew manuscript of Psalms, which dates to early 10th-century Syria, or maybe Israel. An Esther scroll written on deerskin, likely from 18th-century Iran. A fragment from a 14th-century Spanish Bible that includes the unusual addition of the Apocryphal Scroll of Antiochus where one would expect Masoretic comments.

These and other items are part of a collection recently purchased and announced by the University of Pennsylvania.

The collection had belonged to former University of Virginia classics professor Marvin Colker, who was the Trinity College, Dublin manuscript cataloger.

Christie’s put the collection—161 lots, largely Christian manuscripts and fragments—up for sale last December. Lot 140 was titled “A Judaica group,” or “A collection of leaves and fragments, in Hebrew (Mid-East and Europe, 10th to 18th centuries).” The group sold on Dec. 12, 2022, for about $21,250 above the estimated range.

According to Christie’s, the group consisted of scrolls and scroll fragments, manuscript leaves and manuscript fragments, complete and partial books, birth records from a Yemenite family and tefillin.
'The producers wanted exploding tanks; I insisted on something more personal, without romantic fluff'
Guy Nattiv does not really have time to speak with me. Four years after the globally successful Israeli director won an Oscar for the English short film "Skin" (and released his first Hollywood feature film, also called "Skin"), he is once again about to enter the eye of the storm.

In a few days, Nattiv will leave his home in Los Angeles, the city in which he and his family have been living for the past decade, and go on a busy and intensive PR tour of the United States' East Coast to promote his new and highly anticipated international movie - "Golda", a biographic war drama starring the legendary actor, Helen Mirren, following Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during the dreadful days of the Yom Kippur War.

But before he leaves, he needs to finish the sound work on his next and very intriguing film, "Tatami," which he co-created with two Iranian partners and is about to have its world premiere at the upcoming Venice International Film Festival.

"It's quite a crazy time," he tells me over the phone as he makes his way to the soundstage at Sony Studios, where his sound technicians are waiting for him so that they can do some final touchups on "Tatami." "Not only is 'Golda' coming out now in Israel and Europe, but next week it's also being released in 1200 theatres all over the United States – which is completely insane when you consider the fact that we are living in an era where almost all the movies that are not big box office hits go straight to streaming.
Egypt wanted a limited war, Mossad reveals in declassified Yom Kippur docs
The Mossad on Thursday initiated its own declassification of history for the first time, relating to before, during, and after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

As part of a ceremony conducted by Mossad Director David Barnea, and with a number of former Mossad chiefs and senior officials in attendance, the spy agency released a book called Some day, when it can be revealed.

The title is taken from a statement made by then-prime minister Golda Meir to then-Mossad chief Zvi Zamir. The book presents original internal Mossad cables, summaries, photos, and other materials not revealed before in their entirety.

According to Zamir’s real-time notes from October 1971, after he revealed to Meir aspects of then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s strategy as leaked by the Mossad’s top spy, “the Angel,” Meir said to him, “Some day, when it can be revealed, you and your team will get a prize.”

The Angel': Mossad's agent in Egypt
The true identity of “The Angel,” Ashraf Marwan, was revealed decades ago. Books have been written to try to decode when he helped the Mossad, when he helped Egypt, and when those two mixed, including his multiple warnings to Israel that Cairo was going to initiate a war – warnings that were dismissed by many in the defense establishment.

Marwan held top intelligence positions in Egypt both during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s and Anwar Sadat’s reigns as president, and he was married to one of Nasser’s daughters.

The book unveils some new information from protocols of discussions Sadat had with Russian officials in Moscow in 1971.
The Fiddler in a Desert War
In 1967 I was working for oil consultants in London and knew there would be a war. When the shooting started on June 5, 1967, I was in the Upper Galilee as a welcome guest of the very undermanned local defense of Kfar Blum, headed by a red-haired ex-Canadian lieutenant colonel no less, kept from more glorious service by a severe heart condition.

In 1973 I was caught by surprise because I too believed that Sadat would not start a war he was bound to lose, lacking the imagination to consider the possibility that Sadat would invade Israel to kick diplomacy into action, even if he did lose.

So I was in Washington, D.C., when the news came on Oct. 6, 1973, and it was not until Oct. 10 that I reached Lod airport via London, Rome, and Athens, with the last leg flown on El Al after other airlines had prudently canceled their flights.

Having remained in Israel till 1972 as a contractor for Major-General Aharon Yariv, the celebrated head of Israel’s military Intelligence, it was to him that I turned to find somewhere I could do something useful. At that point Yariv was a newly retired reservist just recalled to assist the chief of staff, but he found the time to locate a cooperating lieutenant colonel in a mechanized infantry battalion in Sinai, and sent me there with a Plymouth sedan staff car, telling me that they would have a helmet and weapon waiting for me.

I stretched out on the back seat and was trying to sleep, but on top of the intense traffic noises—we kept passing heavy trucks—the driver periodically added his humming. Considering the circumstances—Israel had just suffered a very severe defeat when its tanks rushed headlong into an abundance of Egyptian antitank missiles—the humming was all the more jarring for being decidedly cheerful. I had scarcely looked at the driver before getting into the back seat, and did not recognize his voice either.

It was not until the driver offered a ride to a hitchhiking young soldier that I discovered who my driver was. Chaim Topol! He shouted. You are Chaim Topol! It was only then that I realized that my driver was the famous actor and singer who had become The Fiddler on the Roof’s emblematic Teyve for all time after starring in Hollywood’s celebrated blockbuster adaptation only two years earlier. You are Chaim Topol!

After that there must have been some talk but I recall none of it except for Topol’s very matter-of fact remark that he could not sing on a stage while Israel was fighting a hard war.
Herzog presents 13 Israelis with Presidential Medal of Honor
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday night awarded the country’s Presidential Medal of Honor to 13 leaders from Israel and the Diaspora during a festive ceremony at his Jerusalem residence.

The award was conferred upon Chava Alberstein, a leading folk musician; Adi Altschuler, founder of Zikaron BaSalon; professor Meir Buzaglo, a Jewish renewal activist; Rabbi Menachem HaCohen, an interfaith leader and former Knesset member; professor Mona Khoury, VP of strategy and diversity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Tolkowsky, a retired Israeli Air Force officer; Carmela Menashe, the military correspondent for Army Radio; Bibras Natcho, former captain of the Israeli national soccer team; Dr. Assad Araidy, an educator; and social entrepreneur Lena Shtern.

The president also honored Diaspora leaders André Azoulay, a senior adviser to Moroccan King Mohammed VI, and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

The Kemach Foundation, which promotes employment in Israel’s haredi (or ultra-Orthodox) sector, received the organizational prize.

“You have been privileged to do good, to bring about change, and to make a dramatic contribution to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people, for all humanity. This is why each and every one of you is worthy of receiving the highest civilian decoration in Israel,” Herzog told the recipients.

Unpacked: Is there a difference between Sephardic & Mizrachi Jews?
The terms “Sephardic” and “Mizrachi” are often used interchangeably, so what is the difference between these two groups? While “Sephardic” can refer to Iberian origins or a specific set of Jewish ritual practices, and “Mizrachi” historically referred to all non-Ashkenazi Israelis, the choice of which descriptor Jews from the Middle East and North Africa choose to identify with is often even more complicated than that.

00:00 Intro
00:50 What does "Sephardic" mean?
01:20 What does "Mizrachi" mean?
01:45 The Sephardic school of thought
02:26 The Spanish Inquisition and spread of Sephardic customs
03:40 The ugly roots of the term "Mizrachi"
06:00 Reclaiming the term "Mizrachi"
06:11 Why "Sephardic" and "Mizrachi" get lumped together
06:33 Mizrachi influence on Israeli culture and politics
09:06 The overlap of Sephardic and Mizrachi identities
10:23 How identities are shaped and the unity of the Jewish People

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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