June 16, 2024

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01/04 Links Pt2: Anti-Zionist Jews are more in tune with the Palestinian Arabs than Jewish liberals; When They Start Talking About ‘Anti-Zionism,’ Natan Sharansky Knows What They Really Mean


From Ian:

When They Start Talking About ‘Anti-Zionism,’ Natan Sharansky Knows What They Really Mean

Listen to my interview with the former Soviet refusenik on how to spot antisemitism. Also, fixing the sometimes fraught relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.

About a month ago, I finally had the opportunity to talk to him in advance of something called the Z3 Project on Israel-Diaspora relations. The California-based group asked me to interview Sharansky to discuss his work in improving ties not between Jews and gentiles but between Jews and Jews—primarily between Israel and the Diaspora. Of course, I jumped at the chance to talk to my childhood hero. I was curious about many things, but I wanted to get his take on the current wave of antisemitism.

To say that Sharansky has experience with antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism would be an extreme understatement. As a former Soviet “Prisoner of Zion,” he spent years under torturous conditions in the gulag. He knew that when Soviet leaders began to talk about Zionism, all Jews, Zionist or not, were in trouble. When he was finally released and immigrated to Israel, he was surprised to notice the same phenomenon. That’s when he came up with what he called his “3D test” of antisemitism. They are:

Delegitimization of Israel

Demonization of Israel

Double standards in judging Israel

Put them together, you can bet that what is billed as criticism of Israel is actually antisemitism. The 3Ds became the basis for widely accepted definitions of antisemitism. But the battle is still being fought, he says, not with other nations, but with Jews in America who are reluctant to be seen as equating criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

In this interview, we discussed this dilemma and other areas where Israel and the Diaspora meet.

Jonathan Tobin: Anti-Zionist Jews are more in tune with the Palestinian Arabs than Jewish liberals

Pro-Israel liberals took particular pleasure last month in mocking the latest evidence that Jews on the far left know no limits in their hatred for Israel.

The object of their derision was Jewish Currents, a far-left publication that issued a formal apology to its readers for accepting an advertisement from the Dorot Fellowship for a 10-month-long fellowship program for American Jews in Israel. But as much as it’s hard not to laugh at the contortions those on the far-left go through to maintain their standing as the “good Jews” in the eyes of their anti-Semitic ideological allies, mainstream Jewish groups that are still trying to promote a two-state solution with the Palestinian Arabs may be the ones who have lost touch with reality.

The fellowship was explicitly pitched as open to both Zionists and non-Zionists, and requires participants to return to the U.S. upon completion of their stay rather than remaining in Israel. Many of its past graduates have gone on to careers in progressive groups that are bitterly critical of the Jewish state, like J Street and the New Israel Fund, and are vocal Israel-bashers. But the mere fact that this program took place in Israel was enough to generate a backlash against the magazine. Within a day, its editor issued a public apology, claiming that it was “not in line with our values” and had somehow “not been vetted properly.” That seemed to imply that the “values” of Jewish Currents consist of support for boycotts of Israel.

Jewish Currents was founded in 1946 as an organ of Communist Party USA. It tottered along for decades as an organ of red diaper babies still trying to justify the Stalinism of their deluded parents, even as it retreated a bit from their ideological extremism. Eventually even that limited audience died out, and the publication merged for a few years with the socialists of the group formerly known as the Workmen’s Circle, before collapsing altogether. But it was revived in 2018 by a new generation of radicals and scored something of a coup in 2020 when author Peter Beinart, the former tribune of liberal Zionism-turned dedicated anti-Zionist, left The Forward and joined its ranks.

This publication ought to be one of the preferred outlets of members of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. But the audience of Jewish Currents remains small, perhaps because in its target demographic, the appetite may be limited for any title that includes the word “Jewish.”

Still, some of the mockery of Jewish Currents from liberal Zionists who still believe in Israel’s right to exist struck me as a bit hollow.

Emily Schrader: 2021 proves that antisemitism manifests as anti-Zionism

The year 2021 proved unquestionably that modern antisemitism is often manifested in anti-Zionism and anti-Israel hatred.

Last week was no different, with a violent attack on an American Jew wearing an IDF shirt in Brooklyn. Yet instead of acknowledging reality, far left Jews and anti-Israel activists try to excuse these antisemitic incidents, even when the incidents involve violence.

On December 26, Blake Zavadsky and Ilan Kaganovich were approached by two assailants in Brooklyn and asked if they support “those dirty Jews,” a reference to the IDF sweatshirt Zavadsky was wearing. When Zavadsky refused to remove the shirt, the assailants began violently attacking him and threw iced coffee on the shirt.

In response, a social media campaign in support of Zavadsky and Kaganovich has popped up, with Jews and supporters of Israel around the world sharing photos of themselves in IDF shirts, in solidarity. New York Councilwoman Inna Vernikov also helped organize a rally of support against antisemitic incidents, which have been on the rise there and elsewhere.

But not everyone is on board.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, anti-Israel extremist Nerdeen Kiswani, founder of Within Our Lifetime, republished a video of her trying to set fire to a man’s IDF sweatshirt, calling it the “original IDF shirt challenge.” In her post she also encouraged further attacks, claiming that destroying Zionist property “isn’t illegal.” She deleted the post altogether several hours later.

Kiswani is a known extremist who was a leader of last year’s controversial anti-Israel rallies titled “Globalize the Intifada,” in which she was filmed protesting outside American Jewish institutions and stating “we don’t want two states, we want all of it.”

While most people who learned of the attack were able to recognize the inherent antisemitic nature of it, social media had no shortage of fools ready to broadcast their bigotry to the world.

‘They called us dirty Jews,’ says antisemitism victim Blake Zavadsky

Elliott Abrams: Does the Archbishop of Canterbury Have an Israel Problem?

This is not the archbishop’s first foray into rhetorical excess. In November, he had to apologize for predicting that politicians who fail to stop global warming will in the future be condemned “in far stronger terms than we speak today of the politicians of the (19)30s, of the politicians who ignored what was happening in Nazi Germany.” Criticized strongly by the British Jewish community for this remark, the archbishop then said, “I unequivocally apologize for the words I used when trying to emphasize the gravity of the situation facing us at COP26 [the international climate summit]. It’s never right to make comparisons with the atrocities brought by the Nazis, and I’m sorry for the offense caused to Jews by these words.”

Additional apologies might be imagined. I noted Archbishop Welby’s remarkable reply when asked some years ago whether the United Kingdom should take more Christian refugees from Iraq. “The last thing we want to do is empty the Middle East of Christians,” he said, and then added that “Christians have been there for longer than anyone else, which needs to be remembered.” The archbishop might consider revisiting his Gospels, because Jesus came from somewhere and was preaching to someone. Nebuchadnezzar brought Jews from their historic homeland into the Babylonian captivity 600 years before Jesus, and many of their descendants lived there continuously until being expelled after the creation of the State of Israel. Apparently that is not something “which needs to be remembered.”

A pattern emerges. The Christian population appears to be rising in Israel, but dropping in the West Bank and Gaza. Why, then, blame Israel rather than the Palestinian Authority and Hamas? Surely a comparison of the archbishop’s comments on Israel with his silence on India suggests he is holding Israel to a standard he does not widely apply. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism includes “applying double standards by requiring of it [the State of Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

There was a considerable reaction in the United Kingdom to the archbishop’s comments. Sir Eric Pickles, a former Member of Parliament who chairs the Conservative Friends of Israel in the House of Lords and is the UK.’.s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues such as restitution of assets and Holocaust education, said he was “disappointed in the blinkered and partial view on where the real problem for declining Christian numbers in the region lies. Without Israel’s active protection of Christian rights, there would be a real danger of [Christianity] disappearing from the region altogether.”

Robert Nicholson summed up the situation well: “If the Church of England wants a Christian Renaissance in the Near East, it should extend a hand of friendship to the only country where that project is still viable.” Archbishop of Canterbury Welby should understand that his apology for the church’s actions regarding Jews in England 800 years ago is of far less importance to Jews everywhere today, including in England and especially in Israel, than treating the Jewish state fairly. If he can’t manage that, no apologies will ever be sufficient.

Jewish BBC broadcaster resigns over antisemitism

A Jewish BBC broadcaster has resigned after 30 years of working with the corporation because of concerns about antisemitism.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein, a frequent contributor to BBC programming including The BBC Radio Two religious affairs show “Good Morning Sunday as well as Radio 4’s Thought for the day, has released a letter of resignation to the corporation in which he said: “I simply don’t see how I or in fact any Jew who has any pride in that name can be associated with the Corporation anymore.”

In his letter, Rabbi Rubinstein describes the current crisis over anti-Semitism at the Corporation as “simply inexcusable”, citing the BBC’s coverage of the Oxford Street Chanukah antisemitic attack.

He said that: “The obfuscation and denial that followed, was and is utterly damning.”

The BBC has attracted widespread criticism for a report in the aftermath of the Oxford Street incident in which it was alleged by the broadcaster that anti-muslim slurs could be heard from inside the bus of threatened teenagers.

Jewish community leaders and campaign groups have called on the BBC to retract and apologise for the report with the Board of Deputies commissioning an independent investigation into the video which found no evidence of Anti-Muslim slurs.

‘Anti-Israel agenda in global media has personal motivations’

There is a distinct change in terminology with regards to the way global media is covering Israel and the regional conflict, Daniel Pomerantz, CEO of HonestReporting, a watchdog group that monitors the media for bias against Israel. But can the tides change? Speaking with Israel Hayom, Pomerantz says not all is lost.

Q: Does Israel invest enough in public diplomacy?

“In my opinion we need to do much more. In my opinion we need to invest not only in coverage by television channels or newspapers in Israel, but also the coverage of CNN and the New York Times. There’s been an encouraging start on the issue, and history teaches that everything we’ve invested in has ultimately been a success. And if we don’t succeed – apparently we didn’t invest enough.”

Q: There are those who claim that Israel doesn’t have real and authentic coverage of Israel in the world, that essentially we also don’t cover ourselves well, truthfully or favorably enough. Do you agree?

“It’s a delicate subject. Alongside the internal discourse and criticism that exists here, there are issues that we can all agree on. Take, for example, the existence of a Palestinian Martyrs Fund. From all ends of the political spectrum, there is agreement that it’s problematic, that it goes against the way of peace. But unfortunately, there’s not enough emphasis on how problematic it is.”

Q: What’s happening in Europe, in Asia and in other places in the world regarding coverage of Israel?

“In Europe, I identify extremely hostile, pro-Palestinian coverage, but there is someone to talk to. The Belgian and Dutch governments opened an investigation of the Palestinian Authority after we wrote about how European Union funds were routed for terror. In Asia I identify an interest in the conflict, there are a number of journalists who come to our press conferences and write about Israel.”

Q: They’ve been writing about us all over the world for a long time. But when, in your opinion, was support for Israel at its highest?

“Before 1967 Israel won much more support because it was seen as small and weak. After that things began to change, and now I identify a popular philosophy that is called ‘wokeism,’ from ‘awakening,’ according to which there’s no room for nuance, and there is only aggressor and victim. This is another reason why we need to continue to work even harder, with more funding and people. From my perspective that’s the dream, to continue in this work. When I was a child, I heard great and amazing things about Israel, and when I came here, I felt like I was among real celebrities. And when I work today for the sake of the country, for me it’s worth everything. It has made my life truly meaningful.”

Rise in antisemitism reveals left’s double standard

The statements, “Happy Holocaust” and “Peace be upon Hitler,” sound like Nazi propaganda from 1940s Germany. But they’re not.

These are comments posted in 2021 on the TikTok page of 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, Lily Ebert. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, antisemitic hate crimes have doubled since 2020.

The commission reported:
“In Salt Lake City, a man scratched a swastika into the front door of an Orthodox synagogue, and in Alaska, Nazi imagery was posted on a synagogue. In Bal Harbour, Florida four men yelled ‘Die Jew’ at a man wearing a yarmulke, then threatened to rape his wife and daughter. In Midtown Manhattan, a group of people attacked a Jewish man in the middle of the street in broad daylight. The man, wearing a yarmulke and walking to a pro-Israel protest, was called ‘dirty Jew,’ and was told, ‘F— Israel, we’re going to kill you.”

Each of these incidents occurred in the United States of America over the past year. Why has there not been more outrage and media coverage? Where are the Instagram posts saying #JewishLivesMatter? Where are the world-famous celebrities on social media with their vitriolic mantras about stopping racism and hate?

BDS Brings Antisemitism to Universities Across America

In December, a new report revealed the extent to which “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) officials are pervasively biased against Israel.

The study analyzed the Twitter feeds of 741 DEI staffers at 65 institutions, and found that 96% of Israel-related tweets were negative, while 62% of China-related tweets were positive. DEI officials routinely condemned Israel as an “apartheid state,” and accused it of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

The report noted the disproportionate attention paid to Israel, and concluded “university DEI staff are better understood as political activists with a narrow and often radical political agenda rather than promoters of welcoming and inclusive environments. Many DEI staff are particularly unwelcoming toward Jewish students who, like the vast majority of Jews worldwide, feel a strong connection to the state of Israel.”

In contrast, tweets about China were largely supportive, while expressions of disapproval did not include terms such as “apartheid.”

The role of DEI officers and the DEI ideology in shaping campus and broader culture cannot be understated, as demonstrated by 2021 incidents at Yale Law School, Stanford University, the British Cabinet Office, and others, where DEI personnel or “trainers” actively promoted antisemitism.

The role of DEI was also on display at the University of Southern California, where student Yasmeen Mashayekh, the senator in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion, tweeted that she wanted to “kill every motherf***ing Zionist.”

The Cycle: How Antisemitism Takes Root on College Campuses

It starts with a newspaper article. A student writes a piece to the student body, saying that all Jews are “white.” This is usually penned by either a non-Jewish student or someone unfamiliar with the diversity of the Jewish experience (or someone who doesn’t know that many Jews with alleged “white” skin do not identify that way).

Then a professor promotes a course on Israel-Palestine with a known terrorist on the cover. Next, a student group encourages their members to harass students in their local Hillel, and the school does nothing or throws only crumbs. The rest becomes an intense blur: the graffitied walls, the apartheid weeks, and the chants of Jewish supremacy. The students that start the cycle graduate, but not before they can call on an incoming class to repeat it.

The cycle is rather predictable. Antisemitism has a way of signposting itself, whether it was the Spanish Inquisition or the Soviet Union’s anti-Jewish policies. These incidents are no longer shocking — but they should be. Currently, the places where the cycle takes root most often represent the pinnacle of academic success: the Ivy leagues and the top colleges in the nation.

The incidents range from microaggressions to acts of violence. In 2021 alone, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members encouraged students to no longer eat at Israeli restaurants in the area. At Vassar, student organizers included a caricature of a blood-thirsty parasitic Jew in their event advertising. At Rutgers, Jewish students were verbally abused and had their car tires slashed.

Accusing Israel of ‘Pinkwashing’ Negates the LGBTQ+ Palestinian Experience

There is no doubt: the biggest oppressor of queer Palestinians is the leadership itself, whether Hamas or the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas, which rules Gaza, bans homosexuality as an illegal practice. In reality, the punishment can sometimes be severe, with some families executing gay relatives.

Even under the “moderate” PA, there are no Pride parades. Queer organizations are banned, and members are regularly arrested. According to a spokesperson for the PA, such activities are prohibited because they are “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in Nablus.”

If the organizers of this film festival believed in the human rights of these beleaguered Palestinians, they would speak out against the true culprit: Hamas and the PA. Instead, they’ve revealed they only care about “human rights” when Israel can be blamed.

Just as then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an audience at Columbia University in 2007 that “we don’t have any homosexuals like in your country,” Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are attempting to oppress their way into a new reality, where authoritarian regimes can invent their own facts.

It may surprise the “Queers for Palestine” filmmakers, but in the Arab world, Israel has been seen as a safe refuge for LGBTQ+ travel precisely because of its openness and legally enshrined tolerance. By repeating the same baseless anti-Israel allegations that Palestinian leaders have been employing for decades, the “Queers for Palestine” filmmakers are causing irreparable harm to the group they claim to be helping.

Emma Watson Draws Controversy Over ‘Solidarity’ With ‘Free Palestine’ Movement on Social Media

The pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs tweeted at the actress “about letting another group use your Instagram to post a message of support for Palestinians: We appreciate that it didn’t include hatred against Israelis, as is too often the case on social media. However, if you want to help, support the people of Israel as well. Groups that oppose Israel’s existence are already using your post to promote more division, conflict and hate.”

Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan tweeted, “Fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality. If it did, the magic used in the wizarding world could eliminate the evils of Hamas (which oppresses women & seeks the annihilation of Israel) and the PA [Palestinian Authority] (which supports terror). I would be in favor of that!”

The mention of a “Feminist Collective” in her bio may explain why Watson’s post appears to be a complete “repost” of one issued some 33 weeks ago by Bad Activist Collective, a group that on its website describes itself as exploring “topics of climate justice, environmentalism, racial justice, youth activism, disability justice, queer feminist theory, mental health, land and food sovereignty and dismantling systems of oppression and the ways that these topics are ever-evolving and intersecting.”

On Israel, the Washington Post’s Opinion Page is an Echo Chamber

The Post op-ed would have readers believe that the northern tip of “East Jerusalem” was annexed from a Palestinian state. He even refers to the area as a “Palestinian part of the city.” Yet, no Palestinian Arab state has ever existed. Jordan held the eastern portion of Jerusalem from 1948 until 1967, when Israel seized it after Jordan took part in a war to destroy the Jewish state—ignoring Israeli requests not to do so, and subsequently losing eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank in the process. Israel, he later writes, “conquered” the West Bank.

Gorenberg doesn’t deign to inform readers that there is a legal basis for Jewish claims to the land. As CAMERA has documented (see, for example, “The West Bank—Jewish Territory Under International Law”), Israel has a foundation for asserting sovereignty over the area. Additionally, the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, adopted later by the United Nations, calls for “close Jewish settlement on the land” west of the Jordan River in Article 6. The UN Charter, Chapter XII, Article 80, upholds the Mandate’s provisions. The 1920 San Remo Treaty and the 1924 Anglo-American Convention also enshrined Jewish territorial claims in international law.

Gorenberg calls for Blinken to again intervene in Israeli affairs and apply pressure to prevent the “destruction of much of Walajeh, leaving residents homeless and dealing another blow to peace in Jerusalem.” Yet, Walajeh was illegally built, without building permits. In nearly every country in the world, including in the United States, it is illegal to build residential dwellings without the requisite permits. However, Gorenberg calls for this to be overlooked as residents “needed roofs over their heads and built homes on their land.” Curiously, as noted above, Gorenberg doesn’t express similar sentiments when it comes to Jews living in Judea.

For Gorenberg, it should be U.S. policy to support the building of some settlements—specifically the illegally built Arab ones, some of which are constructed with the support of European governments in an attempt to change the facts on the ground. Jewish homes in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland, however, are an “obstacle to peace.” These are consistent themes, and they’re consistently given a platform in the Washington Post’s opinion section.

Time Magazine Gives Cover to Anti-Israel Propaganda Photo In Its Top 100 Photos of 2021 Issue

2021 had no shortage of major news stories, whether the insurrection of the U.S. capitol in Washington, the ongoing Covid pandemic, or the American pullout from Afghanistan, but despite these major news stories, a recent Time Magazine issue profiling 100 top news photos of the year, featured on its front cover a likely staged and crude anti-Israel propaganda image. In fact, three of the 100 images selected by Time Magazine editors were anti-Israel.

In a year of so many important news stories, it was shameful that Time Magazine, a publication with a large Canadian and U.S. readership, chose to single Israel out for exclusive censure and condemnation.

Canadian Arabic-Language Paper Publishes Column Calling for Israel’s Destruction

In a recent December 31 column in Meshwar Media, an Arabic-language publication that has been accused of antisemitism and of publishing blood libels, praising terrorists and comparing Israelis to Nazis, Kamal Khalaf extols the virtues of the Palestinian “revolution” in the 1960s, when Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization achieved widespread international legitimacy in his terror war against Israel.

While Arafat was not successful in his attempts to destroy Israel, Khalaf praises Palestinian terror groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of Israeli civilians in murderous terrorist attacks. “In Gaza, the Al-Qassam Brigades defend the defenseless and besieged people, with all their capabilities,” Khalaf writes. (HRC received an independent expert translation of this column).

One of the most horrific attacks carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades was in 2002, when a suicide bomber affiliated with Hamas entered a Tel Aviv discotheque popular with teenagers, and blew himself up, murdering 21 young Israelis, whose only crime was being Jewish.

Not content to merely murder the young, Hamas also sent a suicide bomber to the Park Hotel in the Israeli city of Netanya to target a Passover seder of predominantly older Israelis. The bomber entered, blew himself up, and massacred 30 civilians.

These are two out of countless terrorist attacks which Hamas has perpetrated against Israelis.

As appalling as Khalaf’s advocacy for Hamas is, he offers us an insight into why Israel is so hated in his eyes: Israel’s creation, he argues, was based on “assembling peoples and gangs under the banner of religion to replace a people on their land.”

BBC News re-promotes misleading claims it already corrected last year

Moreover, the BBC acknowledged in a correction dated June 24th 2021 that:
“The suggestion from the United Nations, that we cited, that Israel has a legal obligation to make sure Palestinians under occupation have access to vaccinations, came on this occasion from two special rapporteurs working for the UN’s Human Rights Council. They are independent experts, rather than UN staff.”

As we see, that misinformation is nevertheless still being promoted by the BBC.

The claim that “The Israelis said the Palestinians were responsible for managing health matters in the Palestinian Territories” fails to inform readers of the relevant section of the 1995 Oslo Accords which states:
“Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side, including the health insurance system.”

Moreover, in February 2021 the BBC acknowledged that:
“We agree we should have said the Oslo Accords give the Palestinian Authority oversight of public health under the principles of self determination…”

A clarification issued by the BBC on February 9th 2021 reads:
“We suggested that under the Oslo Accords, Palestinian healthcare is ultimately the responsibility of the Israeli government.

Although there is a wider dispute over the issue, the Accords – which Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation – give the Palestinian Authority oversight of public health under the principles of self-determination.”

Members of the BBC’s funding British public may well be asking themselves why misleading claims that were already the subject of complaints and eventual corrections and clarifications are still appearing in BBC content months later, thereby potentially bringing about a waste of public funds to handle further complaints on the same issues.

Another Elderly French Jewish Woman Beaten and Robbed by Antisemitic Intruders in Her Paris Apartment

Yet another elderly French Jewish woman living alone in her own home has been subjected to a brutal robbery motivated by antisemitism, the Paris-based National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA) said on Sunday.

The attack occurred on Dec. 13, according to a statement from the BNVCA, an independent organization that assists the victims of antisemitic violence in France.

Two minors, described as Black and of about 16-17 years of age, rang the doorbell of their victim’s apartment, pretending to be members of the building’s security detail. When the victim — identified as “Mrs. LU”, a 74-year-old pensioner — answered the door, the two assailants forced their way inside.

They then subjected their victim to a series of heavy blows before tying her up and ordering her to disclose where she kept her jewelry. Over the next traumatic half-hour, one of the assailants searched the apartment while the other kept guard over the victim, hitting her repeatedly and placing a piece of masking tape over her mouth to stifle her cries.

After having stolen all of their victim’s jewelry, the two assailants fled, leaving her badly bruised on the face and legs and in a state of severe shock.

The BNVCA said that the victim’s Jewish identity was revealed to the assailants by the mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of her apartment in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.

Seattle area assistant police chief suspended for displaying Nazi symbol on office door

An assistant police chief with the Kent Police Department in suburban Seattle received a two week suspension earlier in the year for displaying a Nazi insignia above his nameplate on his office door, Seattle Weekly reported.

Derek Kammerzell, who has been with the Kent Police Department for 27 years, was suspended by Police Chief Rafael Padilla for contravening a city ordinance against harassment and discrimination and also for unbecoming conduct that violated police policy.

The insignia placed by the assistant police chief on his door appeared to be that of the Nazi rank of SS-Obergruppenfuhrer.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this incident,” Kammerzell told the Kent Reporter. “I wish I could take it back. I know now what that rank represents, and that is not what I value or who I am. The expectations for an assistant chief are, rightfully, incredibly high. I do my best every day to meet and exceed those expectations.”

The officer’s notice of discipline was issued on July 14 but the incident only came to light in late December after the city of Kent responded to a request for public records made by the group “No Secret Police.” Kammerzell had been on paid leave while the investigation was being conducted.

Google to acquire Israeli cybersecurity company Siemplify for $500m

Google has acquired another Israeli company, threat detection firm Siemplify, for a reported $500 million, nine years after its $1 billion purchase of navigation app Waze. The purchase will mark Google’s fourth acquisition of an Israeli company and its first in the cybersecurity industry outside the US.

Siemplify will become part of Google Cloud’s security team “to help companies better manage their threat response,” wrote Google Cloud Security VP and GM Sunil Potti, in a post Tuesday. Siemplify’s cloud services will serve as the foundation for Google’s cloud activities and cybersecurity operations with “the team’s talent leading the way,” he said.

Last summer, Google committed to investing $10 billion in cybersecurity over the next five years to “strengthen cybersecurity, including expanding zero-trust programs, helping secure the software supply chain, and enhancing open-source security” and to train 100,000 Americans in fields like IT support and data analytics.

Governments and businesses are at a “watershed moment,” in addressing cybersecurity, Kent Walker, SVP of global affairs at Google, said in August, as “cyber attacks are increasingly endangering valuable data and critical infrastructure.”

Israel’s Fast-Charging Battery Startup StoreDot Hits $1.5 Billion Valuation in Series D

Israeli fast-charging battery startup StoreDot has raised tens of millions of dollars at a valuation of $1.5 billion, Calcalist has learned. The company has raised $60 million in its Series D to date, but isn’t closing the round yet in order to allow additional strategic investors from the automotive industry, who are still assessing its technology, to join. The new round marks significant growth for the Israeli company, which was valued at $500 million in its previous funding round in 2017.

StoreDot CEO Doron Myersdorf confirmed the news to Calcalist and noted that the current round will allow the company to take its time and determine if it should go public, whether via a merger with an SPAC or the traditional route, depending on the state of the market. Myersdorf confirmed that the company approached investment bank JP Morgan on the matter, but that the timing and likelihood of an IPO still remains unclear. “We brought in JP Morgan to advise us when would be the right time to go public in regards to the market and that is why we raised money that will last us for the near future.”

“We have come to the conclusion that the auto world should be our only focus and we are investing all of our resources in that sector,” added Myersdorf. “This entire ecosystem is going to undergo a revolution with everyone going electric and this is our window. We have an opportunity to create a massive market for fast-charging batteries.”

Israeli Actress Shira Haas Sings ‘Cabaret’ Classic ‘Maybe This Time’ at Israel Philharmonic Virtual Gala

The Israel Philharmonic recently celebrated its 85th anniversary with a virtual gala that featured a performance by Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated Israeli actress Shira Haas.

The English-language online event on Dec. 26 was broadcast on YouTube and also hosted by the “Shtisel” and “Unorthodox” star. Toward the end of the virtual gala, Haas sang “Maybe This Time” by John Kander and Freb Ebb from the musical “Cabaret.” She was accompanied on the piano by Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) music director Lahav Shani, who became the second Israeli director in the history of the IPO after Zubin Mehta stepped down in 2019.

The virtual program, presented by the IPO and the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic, also showcased never-before-seen archival footage of Mehta and fellow legendary conductors Leonard Bernstein and Arturo Toscanini.

Founded in 1936 by Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, the IPO was originally known as the Palestine Orchestra. It performs regularly at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv, as well as throughout Israel and internationally.

Over 90,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews naturalized by Spain, Portugal

At least 90,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews have become citizens of Portugal or Spain since 2015, when those countries passed laws offering a naturalization process for such applicants, according to the most updated information data from the two countries.

The laws were meant to atone for the Inquisition, a campaign of religious persecution unleashed at the end of the 15th century on the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had inhabited the Iberian Peninsula and flourished there.

Spain has received at least 153,000 applications for citizenship, while Portugal has received at least 86,000 applications, according to data published in Spanish and Portuguese media recently as part of annual reports on immigration trends.

Spain has granted citizenship to 36,000 applicants, or about 23 percent of the total who applied. Portugal has granted citizenship to 63 percent of applicants, or more than 54,000 people. Many thousands of applications are still pending review in both countries.

More than two-thirds of the applicants in Portugal are Israeli, according to a report Sunday in Lisbon’s Observador newspaper. In Spain, the share of Israelis was lower than 5 percent, according to data from late 2019.

Holocaust Survivors Bring History to Life in ‘Revolutionary’ Virtual Reality Exhibit

A new virtual reality experience debuting at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center this month will feature testimonies from Holocaust survivors and provide an innovative way to learn about the Nazi genocide.

Titled “The Journey Back,” the exhibit will give visitors a 360-degree glimpse into present-day and historic Auschwitz with the help of virtual reality technology that combines contemporary footage and memory sequences, as well as two award-winning films narrated by Holocaust survivors Fritzie Fritzshall and George Brent.

Participants will immerse themselves within a 3-D environment where Fritzshall, who died last year, or Brent will guide them around the modern-day preserved Nazi concentration camps and talk about their experiences during the Holocaust.

Two separate virtual tours will be provided. “A Promise Kept” tells the story of Fritzshall, who fulfilled the promise she made to the 599 women who saved her life when she was 13 and imprisoned as a slave laborer in Auschwitz. In “Don’t Forget Me,” participants embark on a virtual reality journey back to the Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Ebensee concentration camps with Brent, who discusses his will to survive Nazi persecution.

The exhibit will open to the public on Jan. 27, coinciding with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was described by the museum, which dedicated two years to creating the project, as “a global game-changer, revolutionizing the field of Holocaust memory” though cutting-edge technology.

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