December 2, 2020

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01/09 Links Pt2: Yes, Anti-Zionism Is The Same As Anti-Semitism; BDS Bill Debate Is about Anti-Semitism, Not Speech; For Jews, ‘Never Again’ is right now

From Ian:

Yes, Anti-Zionism Is The Same As Anti-Semitism
In a recent New York Times op-ed titled “Anti-Zionism isn’t the same as Anti-Semitism,” columnist Michelle Goldberg defended Ilhan Omar, a newly elected House representative who has claimed that Jews have hypnotized the world for their evil works. A person can oppose “Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot,” Goldberg explained. “Indeed,” she went on, “it’s increasingly absurd to treat the Israeli state as a stand-in for Jews writ large, given the way the current Israeli government has aligned itself with far-right European movements that have anti-Semitic roots.”

It’s true, of course, that anti-Zionism isn’t “the same” as common anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism is the most significant and consequential form of anti-Semitism that exists in the world today. Anti-Zionism has done more to undermine Jewish safety than all the ugly tweets, dog whistles, and white nationalist marches combined. It is the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in Europe and the Middle East. And it’s now infiltrating American politics.

What was once festering on the progressive fringes has found its way into elected offices and the heart of the liberal activist movement. As Democrats increasingly turn on Israel, Jewish liberals, many of whom have already purposely muddled Jewish values with progressive ones, are attempting to untether Israel from its central role in Jewish culture and faith for political expediency.

Now, of course, merely being critical of the Israeli government isn’t anti-Semitic. No serious person has ever argued otherwise. I’ve never heard any Israeli official or AIPAC spokesman ever claim that Israel is a “stand-in for Jews writ large,” nor have I ever heard an Israeli prime minister profess to speak for all Jews. (We have the ADL for that.) Israel has featured both left-wing and right-wing governments, and like governments in any liberal democracy, its leaders can be corrupt, misguided, or incompetent. Israelis criticize their governments every day.

However, opposing “Zionism” itself — the movement for a Jewish homeland — is to deny the validity of a Jewish claim to a nation altogether. It puts you in league with Hamas and Hezbollah and the mullahs of Iran. The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s 1968 charter states that “Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.” This, it seems, is now also the position of a number of Democrats.

Daniel Gordis: The American ‘Zionist’ assault on Israel

“American Jews and Israeli Jews Are Headed for a Messy Breakup,” a column by Jonathan Weisman announced in the New York Times earlier this week. He’s probably right. But only “probably.” The relationship does not have to crash, if both sides can acknowledge the profound ways in which the world’s two largest Jewish communities are profoundly different, and cease imposing their own worldview on the other.

To heal this rift, both sides are going to need to accept that we are invariably going to continue disappointing each other, because American Judaism and Israeli Judaism are, by this point, very different animals. As I describe in my forthcoming book, We Stand Divided: Competing Visions of Jewishness and the Rift Between American Jews and Israel, they now rest on almost entirely different foundations. One is universal and one particular, one focuses on Judaism as religion while the other sees Judaism as nationality, one largely exempt from the messiness of history, while the other is the product of a movement that expressly sought to restore the Jews as players into the complexities (and ugliness) of history.

Ultimately, both Israel and American Jews will have to change much about their views of and discourse about the other. At this moment, though, I want to focus on the ways in which American Jews need to rethink their discourse about Israel, since this side of the equation was much in evidence both in Weisman’s column and in another piece week, by Peter Beinart, in the Forward.

As part of the IfNotNow-instigated brouhaha about Birthright, Beinart issued a characteristic warning this week: “Birthright Will Fail If It Doesn’t Evolve With Young Jews,” arguing that Birthright trips do not offer a balanced picture of the conflict, which in turn will lead many young American Jews to ignore the program.

Now, to be clear, I have never worked for Birthright, have never been on a Birthright trip, and am not in any way privy to their curricular conversations. But here is what I do know. Many children of friends of ours, sophisticated and thoughtful young people, have been on Birthright trips, and have had life-transforming experiences. They did not feel that they’d been brainwashed or worked over – they just fell in love not only with the State of Israel, but with Judaism writ large. Also, for the record, I like Peter Beinart. He’s intelligent and I believe he’s being honest when he says he cares about Israel. For a while, Peter and I did a podcast together in which we modeled how two people who disagree deeply can engage in respectful dialogue. (We’ve also debated each other a few times, and are doing it again on February 7 at Harvard Hillel.)

But in many ways, Beinart’s column reflects a fundamental decision American Jews are going to have to make when it comes to Israel. They will have to decide what matters to them more, Israel’s welfare or their own good standing in their progressive American circles. Though he would of course say that he disagrees, I believe that Beinart is more committed to the latter. That is why he takes a complex issue, oversimplifies it and assumes that the only reasonable read of the situation is that held by American progressives; and then, since he knows that Birthright cannot accommodate his demand (and because he sees Birthright as part of the American Jewish establishment of which he is relentlessly critical), he essentially threatens to join the crowd seeking to destroy it.

In NY Times, Jonathan Weisman Misrepresents Quotes and Polls to Push Jewish “Breakup” Narrative _ CAMERA

Jonathan Weisman insists that the tribulations of 2018 brought American Jews and their Israeli counterparts “ever closer to a breaking point.” That, at least, is how he put it in the opening sentence of his Jan. 4, 2019 news analysis piece in the New York Times.

So convincing did the author seemingly find his own arguments that, at some point between his first and last sentences, the breaking point went from near to already here: “The Great Schism is upon us,” Weisman concluded in his dramatic final sentence.

It’s a sweeping hypothesis. And yet the analysis, published in the newspaper’s Opinion section, doesn’t offer a single statistic to directly substantiate his claim. Do any surveys confirm the existence of a Great Schism? Or the idea that “neither side sees the other as caring for its basic well-being,” a view Weisman approvingly attributes to a Chicago rabbi? Or that Israeli citizens “are increasingly dismissive of the views of American Jews”? Or that younger American Jews see in Israel “a bully, armed and indifferent”? If so, Weisman doesn’t share them.

The author does cite some polling numbers from the Pew Research Center meant to give credence to his case. But those numbers aren’t just wrested from their context in a way likely to mislead. They are flatly misreported.

For Jews, ‘Never Again’ is right now

Australia: The St Kilda rally, which was part of a move by far-right adherents to move their activism from the virtual to the real world, violated and betrayed the values and convictions that we hold dear.

My friend Rabbi Marvin Hier reminds us that on April 29, 1945, a day before he committed suicide, Hitler predicted that it would take centuries for anti-Semitism to return.

But he was wrong. It has taken less than seven decades.

The climate for Australian Jews remains hostile, with 2018 seeing a number of alarming incidents across the country.

Last year, a Jewish woman driving in Elsternwick was abused by a couple who screamed, “Hitler was right and should have killed you all” and “move your f—ing car or else I will come out and hit you”.

A teacher in a car park in Bentleigh was subject to frightening tirade with a man and woman yelling at her, “Hitler had the right idea”. A woman sitting in a cafe in Waverley was called “a bloody Jew”, and a mother, her daughter and granddaughter on Australia Day were called “f—ing Jews”.

And what about the 13-year-old Jewish girl at a public school who was sent a Snapchat video with a classmate rapping about her, “going to the shower, the gas shower”, or the 15-year-old Jewish teen at a private school whose friend posted an image on Instagram, dressed as a Nazi, with the tagline, “We’re going to a place called Auschwitz, it is shower time little Jews”, or the 16-year-old Jewish girl who was told she would be raped in the gas chambers.

Neo-Nazi groups such as Antipodean Resistance are invading our streets with vandalism, last week defiling a residential aged care facility that houses many Holocaust survivors with a swastika, while other right-wing extremists distributed flyers last year in Footscray describing Jews as “The whole world’s enemy … pure evil”, or plastering universities with Holocaust denial material.

BDS Bill Debate Is about Anti-Semitism, Not Speech

This invocation of a traditional meme of Jew-hatred—that Jews are not loyal citizens of the countries in which they live—was too much even for some who share her antipathy for Trump. The Jewish Democratic Coalition condemned it as “offensive.” The Anti-Defamation League agreed. So did the American Jewish Committee, which rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of someone who has more or less wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag, criticizing supporters of Israel.

The point here is that Tlaib’s comments matter for the same reason that BDS is important. BDS is a flop with respect to isolating Israel—a nation with a booming First World economy, and growing ties even in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in Africa and Asia, places where it was once shunned. But in spite of its lack of success, BDS has lent a measure of false legitimacy to those who would engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric. BDS is worth fighting because its real target isn’t Israel, but American Jews and their right to stand up for their beliefs without fear of insult and intimidation.

As we’ve seen on college campuses, wherever the BDS movement raises its banners, acts of anti-Semitism follow. So it should surprise no one that in a debate about banning discriminatory commercial conduct aimed at Jews and their state, opponents would choose to play the “dual-loyalty” card.

The question now is not the future of the anti-BDS bill. Passage may be stalled by the standoff on the government shutdown. But once that is resolved (something that may not happen for a long time given the unwillingness of Trump and his opponents to compromise), it’s likely that the bill may pass with bipartisan support since many Democrats, as well as the Republicans, support it. Indeed, Tlaib may have pushed some Democrats who were wavering into supporting it.

The ensuing issue is whether Tlaib pays any sort of price for her use of anti-Semitic invective. It remains to be seen whether her status, along with her fellow pro-BDS colleague, Somali American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), as a young Democratic rock star and a symbol of the fight against the president is so strong that not even open anti-Semitism will cause the party to avoid censuring and abandoning her. If not, the country will have taken another step towards a partisan abyss of hate that should be deplored, no matter what you think about Trump.

Democrats vote to delay passage of Israel bill until shutdown ends

A bill that would codify a defense memorandum of understanding with Israel and support state and local efforts to combat the BDS movement failed to proceed in the Senate on Tuesday, stalled by Democrats who insist on reopening the government before passing any nonessential legislation.

Three weeks into a government shutdown that has 800,000 government workers out of work and without paychecks, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said his caucus will not vote in favor of any bills until the crisis passes.

He and several other senators support the Israel-related legislation on its merits, and it is expected to pass once the shutdown ends.

Even with temporary Democratic opposition, three senators from their side of the aisle – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and the newly elected Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – voted to move forward with the bill, titled the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019.

Passage of S. 1 – the first bill entered in this Senate session – would codify a 10-year memorandum of understanding on military assistance with Israel negotiated by the Obama administration; reauthorize defense cooperation with Jordan; reimpose sanctions on entities financing the Syrian government; and authorize state and local governments to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

All of these provisions enjoyed bipartisan support as stand-alone bills last year, but Congress’s failure to pass them before midnight on New Year’s Day meant they expired and had to be reintroduced. Sen. Marco Rubio, the senior Republican from Florida, did so as one catchall bill last week.

Tlaib Slams Anti-BDS Measure: ‘Literally an Attack on Our Constitution’

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) on Tuesday slammed efforts in the Senate to pass a bill that, among other measures, would allow state and local governments to refrain from doing business with U.S. companies that boycott Israel.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, appeared on WBAI, a progressive radio channel, for an interview with “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman, where she was asked about her opposition to Senate Bill S.1, sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

“The Intercept is reporting that the Senate in its first legislative act will take up a bill that aims to prevent opposition to the Israeli government by allowing state and local governments to boycott any U.S. companies which are engaged in a boycott against Israel,” Goodman said. “It’s called the ‘Combatting BDS Act’ … Can you respond to the state of laws and the legislation being introduced?”

“I agree with Senator Sanders and ACLU and others who see this as an anti-speech, anti-First Amendment bill,” Tlaib said. “The fact that we have our senators that right now could be voting on opening up our government, they have the bills in their hands, are voting on this, that’s distracting us from what is our focus, which is the American people.”

She castigated the “Combatting BDS Act,” a measure contained in the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019” to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which wages economic boycotts on the Jewish state and its people. Tlaid said the act is “literally an attack on our Constitution.”

Government urged to stop paying Palestinian teachers over incitement in schools

A Labour MP has called for the Government to stop paying Palestinian teachers over concerns that children in the West Bank are being taught incitement against Israel.

Dame Louise Ellman MP, who is the vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, presented a Ten-Minute Rule Bill in parliament on Tuesday arguing that British taxpayers are funding the teaching of a curriculum that preaches martyrdom and jihad.

The Bill is supported by a handful of MPs, including Conservative Friends of Israel chair Stephen Crabb, and LFI director Jennifer Gerber said it was being pushed because the Government had “failed to act” on concerns.

UK aid helps 24,000 children in the West Bank attend school but LFI chair Joan Ryan MP has called for the UK to cut its aid to Palestinians by 14 percent, and led a parliamentary debate on the topic in June last year.

In it, she alleged that “children of ten are asked to calculate the number of martyrs in Palestinian uprisings in a maths textbook” and “children of eleven are taught that martyrdom and jihad are the most important meanings of life”.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and the Palestinian Authority (PA) requires the PA to “take action against incitement to violence, including addressing allegations of incitement in textbooks” introduced in 2016.

Switzerland to Examine Reports That Palestinian Textbooks Promote Violence, Racism

The Swiss government will review reports that the Palestinian curriculum promotes violence, antisemitism, and other themes that undermine a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported on Saturday.

The decision came in the wake of research published last year into textbooks used by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), whose top donors include Switzerland.

Lessons encourage children to view the entirety of Israel as Arab territory, refer to Israelis and Jews interchangeably and with hostility, and “feature a radical Islamist, and occasionally, a Salafi worldview,” according to the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which carried out the study. Some passages also hail those who carried out attacks against civilians, among them Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian nationalist who in 1978 helped massacre 38 people, including 13 children, near Tel Aviv.

“School materials that run contrary to the spirit of a two-state solution, which glorify violence, which fuel racism and anti-Semitism or trivialize violations of international law and human rights are not in compliance with the Swiss position on the Middle East,” a spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) told SonntagsZeitung. “Switzerland will examine reports such as those by IMPACT-se and discuss them with other donor nations.”

This funding makes the country “complicit in the radicalization of 450,000 Palestinian schoolchildren in UNRWA schools,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said in a statement, while welcoming the Swiss government’s decision to examine its report.

Guardian characterisation of Angela Davis as a “civil rights activist” is absurd

Further, Davis, an American radical left activist, is quoted in the article predictably maintaining that though she’s ‘critical’ of Israel, she passionately opposes antisemitism.

However, once again, the Guardian, in uncritically repeating Davis’s talking points, has only provided readers with a small piece of the story.

For starters, Davis is a hardcore anti-Israel activists who has, for instance, falsely claimed the existence of racially segregated Israeli roads, accused Israel of apartheid and charged the state with engaging in “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” against Palestinians.

Moreover, Davis’s conception of “political prisoners” – whose freedom she hopes to secure – appears to encompass literally all Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, as she’s a co-author of a highly propagandistic document called the Robben-Island Declaration – named after the South African island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

To Davis, even Palestinians – such as Marwan Barghouti – imprisoned for the murder of Jews are “political prisoners”.

Not surprisingly, Davis is also a fan of Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh – convicted for her role in the murder of two Israeli students in a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing. Odeh, who was released in a prisoner swap in 1980, emigrated to the US, but was recently deported after being found guilty of failing to reveal her terrorist background to immigration authorities.

IsraellyCool: The Women’s March Leaders Exposed

We already know about the antisemitism of Women’s March leaders Sarsour, Perez, and Mallory. But this next video puts it together (as well as some Sarsour misogyny and Bland support of her co-leaders) very nicely.

U.S. Political Activist Linda Sarsour: The Prophet Muhammad Was a Human Rights Activist

On December 2, 2018, American political activist Linda Sarsour spoke at the 2018 Salam Annual Banquet, which was held at the Salam Community Center in Sacramento, CA. She criticized President Trump for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, saying: “I declare to all of you here today in Sacramento that Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine.” She said that the Trump administration is fascist and encouraged Muslims to become involved in politics even if their mosques usually avoid politics, because simply being Muslim is a political act. She said that the Prophet Muhammad was a human rights activist, and that there is no need for workers’ rights movements, environmental justice movements, Black Lives Matter movements, anti-racism, or feminism because Islam has taught these values long before they were hashtags or movements. She added: “I don’t need people in the West, people in Europe, or people in the United States… to teach me what feminism is.” The video of Sarsour’s speech was uploaded to the Salam Center’s YouTube channel on December 13, 2018.

Women’s March Cleveland Calls Out National Organization, Denounces Anti-Semitism

The Cleveland chapter of the Women’s March has denounced all forms of discrimination and distanced itself from the national face of the Women’s March, as charges of anti-Semitism roil the organization.

“Women’s March Cleveland does not condone anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, sexism, Islamophobia or any other forms of discrimination, and we urge our Jewish sisters in greater Cleveland and elsewhere to march with us,” Women’s March Cleveland organizer Kathy Wray Coleman stated in a news release.

Coleman emphasized that Cleveland Women’s March believes the event should be a purely political demonstration, free from racism.

“Jewish women are our sisters,” said Coleman. “And we have to work through this because … there’s a larger issue at stake in terms of what’s happening in D.C., and what’s happening in terms of policies with respect to the president.”

The Cleveland march also invited members of the National Council on Jewish Women Cleveland and other Jewish women to speak at the march, in solidarity with Jewish women. Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, the Ohio woman killed while counter-protesting at a Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacy rally in 2017 is also slated to speak at the march.

After accusations of anti-Semitism against march leaders emerged in 2018, Women’s March chapters in cities across America distanced themselves from the organization. Chicago, New Orleans, and Eureka, California canceled the march, citing community backlash.

IsraellyCool: Jewish Voice for Peace’s Brazen Support of Terrorism

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Jewish Voice for Peace is not about peace at all. Unless that peace looks like an Israel without Jews. Time and again we have seen them promote and glorify terrorists. But just in case that slipped past you, JVP are proudly shouting it out again from the proverbial rooftops.

They could have had a graphic of a Jewish woman and a regular palestinian woman. But no. They went with the palestinian woman with rifle and gun belt.

It seems like to them, some guns are ok after all.

Message received. They can’t claim, like in the case of promoting Rasmea Odeh, that they thought she was a mere “activist.” Here they are brazenly promoting the murder of Jews in Israel.

Now it’s way past time to shut this shit down. JVP is a 501(c)(3) organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. By promoting terrorism, it seems to fall foul of the USA PATRIOT Act, designed to prohibit funding of terrorist organizations or their supporters.

How many hoops must Manny Yekutiel jump through before he’s deemed worthy to set foot in the Mission?

Media outlets, including this one, were loath to provide a greater platform to a small cadre of demonstrators making a Jewish man’s position on Israel’s right to exist a litmus test for operating a business in the Mission. Yekutiel did the same. Until the Forward, the longstanding New York-based Jewish newspaper, went with the story on Dec. 27. Yekutiel followed shortly thereafter with an op-ed in the Chronicle, and now we’re off to the races.

This is not an ideal story for straightforward, both-sides, he-said-she-said coverage — all the more so because one of the sides is a diminutive group of attention-seekers going on about Zionist gentrifiers in the Mission and using Jew-as-interloper-and-parasite language (“invading and destroying our community…”).

There are earnest discussions to be had about Mideast politics and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the shifting role of Israel in Jewish American life. But the “gotcha” here is that Yekutiel has espoused baseline support on Facebook for the mere existence of Israel (the nation where his paternal grandparents and their eight children fled from near-certain death in Afghanistan).

Protesters are not canvassing the Valencia Street corridor, gauging the non-Jewish business owners’ stances on Israel’s right to exist. That’s something to think about.

UK Teacher’s union walks back decision to boycott Israel

The National Education Union (NEU), the largest large teachers union in the UK, has backtracked on a boycott of SodaStream advertisements in its union magazine, and ostensibly on other Israeli-based companies, after a member of parliament criticized the organization’s stance on Twitter.

In the January-February 2019 edition of the NEU’s Educate magazine, a letter was published complaining that the publication had run an advertisement for the Israel-based SodaStream company, saying that the NEU should support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

In response, editor Helen Watson wrote that the magazine staff “scrutinize our adverts to make sure they are in line with union policies and decision making,” adding “We will not be carrying adverts from SodaStream in future.”

The NEU has some 500,000 members after it merged with two other bodies, the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

The Jerusalem Post asked the NEU whether or not it had adopted a BDS platform against Israel, and if not, why the magazine was boycotting SodaStream.

The NEU’s joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney responded with an ambiguous statement, saying that the NEU “has not adopted any policy in this area” and has not boycotted goods in the past, which were “produced within Israel’s internationally recognized borders.”

Courtney said that the NEU “reserves the right to accept or decline adverts depending on their relevance to our membership and if they are in line with NEU or existing NUT/ATL legacy policy,” referring to other members of the union alliance.

IsraellyCool: BDS-Hole Reveals Utter Contempt For Plight of Palestinian Arabs

The following letter appears in the National Education Union (NEU) magazine (hat tip: Natalie S).

Note how the letter writer gleefully writes about the closure of Israeli company Sodastream’s production facilities “the loss of palestinian workers’ jobs notwithstanding”.

Which begs the question: How can they so casually dismiss the loss of income to their beloved palestinians?

Answer: the palestinians are not their beloved. At all. They are solely motivated by hatred of Israel (and I suspect the Jewish people). This letter demonstrates this in stark fashion.

Note also the editor’s response, which reveals the same contempt for palestinian Arabs.

Report: Facebook and Twitter consult with terror-tied CAIR over who gets banned from platforms

The Hamas-tied Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is best known as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing case in U.S. history, appears to have access to high-ranking Facebook and Twitter executives and has communicated with these individuals about who should be allowed to stay on their platforms, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that CAIR officials “complained to Twitter” about activist Laura Loomer, citing a tweet in which she called the anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., an anti-Semite and an apologist for Sharia law. Loomer was later permanently banned from Twitter.

Zahra Billoo, the executive director of CAIR’s San Francisco chapter, was quoted in the Journal piece as an individual who appears to have special access to both Twitter and Facebook.

“The council doesn’t often step in to advocate against other users, says Executive Director Zahra Billoo, but did so in the case of Ms. Loomer based on her previous comments about Muslims,” the piece explains.

Yet the Wall Street Journal fails to note that Billoo herself is a proven radical extremist. In tweets that remain publicly available, Billoo has expressed her support for an Islamic caliphate and Sharia law. She also claims, in multiple tweets, that ISIS is on the same moral plane as American and Israeli soldiers, adding that “our troops are engaged in terrorism.”

Video emerges of senior Belgian iman praying for Allah to ‘burn Zionists’

A senior imam in Belgium prayed in a 2009 sermon for Allah to kill all Zionists and burn them in a fire ignited by the blood of “martyrs.”

The YouTube video of Imam Mohamed Toujgani was flagged earlier this week to the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, its president, Joel Rubinfeld, told the DH news website for an article published Wednesday.

“Lord, master of worlds, fill with fear the hearts of the Zionist oppressors,” Toujgani is seen saying in the 31-minute sermon. “Lord, fill their hearts with fear. Lord, make the earth tremble beneath their feet. Lord, make the blood of the martyrs a weapon under the feet of the Zionists oppressors, and may this blood ignite a fire that burns them and start a wind that eviscerates them. […] O Lord, tear them down.”

Rubinfeld said the text is anti-Semitic because “it just substitutes ‘Jew’ with ‘Zionist,’ he told DH.

US buys more Israeli defense systems to protect tanks, APCs

The US military awarded a nearly $80 million contract for the purchase of an Israeli-developed missile defense system to protect tanks and armored personnel carriers, after reaching a similar $200 million deal this past summer, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced Wednesday.

The United States is expected to pay another $120 million for more defense systems as part of the agreement, pending final approvals, bringing the total value of the two contracts to approximately $400 million, according to a spokesperson for the weapons manufacturer.

The systems, which block incoming anti-tank missiles and rockets, will be supplied to the US Army by the American defense contractor Leonardo DRS, Inc., which partnered with Rafael to manufacture them.

The Trophy, known in Hebrew as Me’il Ruah, or “Windbreaker,” is an active defense system manufactured by Rafael that is designed to protect tanks and other armored vehicles from missiles and rockets.

The system is made up of a radar detection system that spots incoming missiles and predicts their trajectories, and launchers that fire buckshot-like metal pellets, which cause the incoming missile or rocket to detonate away from the tank.

Entering agri-tech, defense firm IAI to sell crop-monitoring drones to Brazil

Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. said Wednesday it had signed an agreement with Brazil’s Santos Lab Comercio E Industria Aerospacial LTDA (Santos Lab) to supply the Brazilian defense firm with drones equipped with advanced analytics tools for large-scale precision agricultural purposes.

The deal, which is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming decade, will expand IAI’s reach from purely military applications to civilian ones, in this case for agricultural applications, IAI said in a statement.

Under the agreement, IAI will provide Santos with its BirdEye 650D UAV systems and analyze the collected data.

Santos Lab, a maker of drones for the agricultural and defense market, will operate the BirdEye UAV, which was developed by IAI for the precision agriculture market, when technology and software are used to target the specific needs of crops for optimum productivity.

The BirdEye, equipped with a hyper-spectral wide coverage imager, which collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum, will be used to generate reports on large-scale farming areas according to a broad range of parameters.

New law in Brazil lets Jewish students skip exams on Shabbat and holidays

A new law in Brazil allows Jewish and non-Jewish students to skip school exams and classes for religious reasons.

The students are permitted to be absent on any date in which, according to their religious precepts, the exercise of activities is prohibited, according to the legislation. For Jewish students, it means Shabbat and holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“It’s a legitimate demand from the part of the Brazilian population that keeps the Sabbath,” Fernando Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, told JTA on Monday. “It is yet another important victory for the Jewish community and all those involved in this struggle, including the Adventists.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church, like Judaism, has Saturday as its Sabbath.

Effective in 60 days, the law was signed Thursday by Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing non-Jewish politician who is ardently pro-Israel and a friend of many in the Jewish community.

Absences must be requested in advance. Missed exams and classes must be provided on an alternative date or replaced by written assignments or research activities, according to the law.

In 2016, some 76,000 Sabbath-observant applicants of Brazil’s annual national high school exam were confined to classrooms between 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday in order to start the test after sunset without the possibility of cheating.

Israeli Pianist Wins International Jazz Competition

Israeli jazz musician Tom Oren, 24, was selected as the first-place winner of the 2018 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition last month at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Oren performed “Just One Of Those Things” and “Just As Though You Were Here” at the December 3 event. He was among 13 outstanding young pianists from around the world who competed a day earlier in the semifinals at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium.

At the end of the competition and All-Star Gala Concert, the Tel Aviv native joined a host of jazz greats onstage to perform the Miles Davis tune “Walkin’” for the enthusiastic audience.

Presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Oren’s award included a $25,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group.

Oren was trained in Israeli institutions including the Thelma Yellin Academy of Fine Arts, Arison Campus of the Arts, Israeli Conservatory of Music and Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. He then won a full scholarship to the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. During his military service as an outstanding musician, he was pianist and arranger for the Air Force Band. Today he tours with the Eli Degibri Quartet.

Israeli hi-tech firms raise record $6.4b. in 2018

Israeli hi-tech companies raised a record $6.4 billion in 623 financial deals in 2018, marking a sixth consecutive year of record growth in capital raising, according to data published on Wednesday by IVC Research Center and ZAG S&W Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co.

While the number of deals decreased slightly from 661 in 2017, the total capital raised was 17% higher. Since 2013, annual hi-tech funding has soared by some 120%.

Following the trend of recent years, deals below $5 million continued to decrease, while deals exceeding $20 million continued to grow. Larger deals have almost quadrupled since 2013, and were worth a total of $4.1 billion in 2018 – some 63% of the total funds raised.

The final quarter of 2018 saw a record 34 deals worth more than $20 million each, valued in total at $1.3 billion.

Israel’s Innoviz to provide Samsung unit with sensor tech for self-driving cars

Israel’s Innoviz Technologies, a maker of sensors for self-driving cars, and Harman International Industries Ltd. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., said they have set up a partnership to sell Innoviz’s solutions to car manufacturers globally.

Harman, a developer of connected technologies for the automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, will use the LiDAR sensors developed by Innoviz to increase its offering of sensor technologies for automakers and help them improve their vehicle safety, perception, connectivity and experience. More than 25 million automobiles on the road are equipped with Harman’s audio and connected car systems.

Innoviz’s sensors will add to Harman’s existing advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS) and automated driving solutions, which aim to provided features to assist drivers in the era of partially automatic and fully automatic vehicles.

The LiDAR sensors developed by Kfar Saba, Israel-based Innoviz provide accurate images of the vehicles’ surroundings through object detection, classification and tracking at long distances. Its flagship product, InnovizOne, which Harman will make available to original equipment manufacturers via the partnership, is a 3D LiDAR sensor that is designed specifically for use in the automotive industry and for mass production.

Last year Innoviz signed an agreement with BMW Group to provide it with its LiDAR sensors for its autonomous vehicle projects.

Mobileye founders unveil wearable camera to identify everyone you meet

The makers of Israel’s Mobileye technology on Tuesday unveiled their latest product, a small wearable camera with artificial intelligence that identifies people you meet and acts as a cross between a personal assistant and a memory enhancer.

The device, known as the OrCam MyMe, was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and follows on from the company’s MyEye 2.0, a product that helps the visually impaired navigate the world.

Speaking to Hadashot TV news, Mobileye and OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua demonstrated the product, which is worn on a person’s shirt.

The camera uses facial recognition software to identify all the people it sees. If it recognizes the person, it informs the wearer via a smart watch or phone application.

Information on people encountered for the first time is stored and can be saved and categorized by the user later.

“Next time I see you it won’t just tell me who you are, but what your last tweet was,” said Shashua.

Henry Winkler wants to be cast in Fauda

Henry Winkler already has his eyes set on his next role: anything in the hit Israeli drama Fauda.

The Happy Days star was asked on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday night what other show or movie he would want to be cast in.

“You know Fauda?” he replied. “It’s one of the greatest shows on TV. There are two seasons, be very careful, ‘cause when you start watching, you will never leave the house.”

IMDb’s Dave Karger asked who Winkler – who was nominated for his HBO show Barry – would want to portray on the show: “Anybody.”

And it could be that Winkler has a shot at appearing in the show’s third season – since he’s now acquainted with its creator and star, Lior Raz.

“The star of Fauda was at my house for dinner,” Winkler told Karger. “I was so thrilled I couldn’t speak.”

This week wasn’t the first time Winkler – best known as the Fonz on Happy Days in the ‘70s and ‘80s – has touted Fauda.

Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner, wins 2019 Genesis Prize

The Genesis Prize Foundation has announced prominent American philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots football team, Robert Kraft, as the 2019 Genesis Prize Laureate.

The $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed the “Jewish Nobel” by Time Magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for their outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values and Israel. The Prime Minister of Israel will present the award to Kraft at a gala ceremony in Jerusalem in June.

Kraft has chosen to forgo the $1 million award so that funds can be granted, in his honor, to initiatives combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice as well as attempts to de-legitimize the State of Israel.

Head of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog said: “I applaud Robert Kraft’s decision to focus his energies and the Genesis Prize award funds on combating anti-Semitism, the de-legitimization of Israel, and racially-motivated hate crimes. The rising tide of anti-Semitism is a threat not only to Jews, but to the very fabric of any democratic society where it is allowed to take place.”

“We are delighted to welcome Robert Kraft to the outstanding family of Genesis Prize Laureates,” said Stan Polovets, co-Founder and Chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation. “I cannot think of a more worthy laureate to follow U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom we honored last July. Like Ginsburg, Kraft has spent most of his life advocating for a more just society, tolerance and inclusiveness. He is one of the world’s most generous philanthropists whose charitable giving reflects the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world.”

Polovets added: “Our foundation looks forward to working with Robert and leveraging the power of sports to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and prejudice.”

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