August 15, 2022

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01/13 Links Pt2: German court calls synagogue torching an act to ‘criticize Israel’; PA TV: Jews stole Kim Kardashian’s diamonds

From Ian:

German court calls synagogue torching an act to ‘criticize Israel’
A German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed a lower court decision last Friday stating that a violent attempt to burn the city’s synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.
Johannes Pinnel, a spokesman for the regional court in Wuppertal, outlined the court’s decision in a statement.
Three German Palestinians sought to torch the Wuppertal synagogue with Molotov cocktails in July, 2014. The local Wuppertal court panel said in its 2015 decision that the three men wanted to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel. The court deemed the attack not to be motivated by antisemitism.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 to stop Hamas rocket attacks into Israeli territory.
The court sentenced the three men – the 31-year-old Mohamad E., the 26 year-old Ismail A. and the 20-year-old Mohammad A.—to suspended sentences. The men tossed self-made Molotov cocktails at the synagogue. German courts frequently decline to release the last names of criminals to protect privacy.
The attack caused €800 damage to the synagogue. The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Germans during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938. Wuppertal has a population of nearly 344,000 and is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (h/t Yenta Press)

PMW: PA TV: Jews stole Kim Kardashian’s diamonds

PA TV took advantage of yesterday’s news update on the Kim Kardashian jewelry heist as an opportunity to spread Antisemitism.
An article in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot on the arrest of 17 suspects in the well-publicized theft noted that the brains behind the robbery in Paris were two Algerian immigrants. It further mentioned that her driver and his brother, who are also suspects, are reportedly Jews. This reference was embraced by PA TV’s “Israeli affairs expert” as an opportunity to generalize that all Jews are “thieves.”
PA TV chose not to mention that there were 15 non-Jewish suspects arrested. Nor did it mention or speculate about the religion of the two Algerian immigrants who were the masterminds behind the crime.
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Antisemitic hate speech is fundamental to PA expression, including portraying Jews as enemies of Allah, descendants of monkeys and pigs, and allied with Satan.
PA TV’s reporting demonstrates that Antisemitism is so fundamental to PA ideology that even a single mention of two Jews anywhere in the world in a negative context is all that is needed launch another PA Antisemitic rant.

PA TV host: Jews stole Kim Kardashian’s diamonds: “They are thieves”

Top Netanyahu aide: World won’t boycott our high-tech for Palestinians

The international community’s desire for Israeli technology trumps its concern over the stalling peace process, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office said this week, arguing that the recent UN Security Council resolution condemning the settlements was merely a “blip” on the radar.
“Countries are going to have to decide what’s in their best interest: to be with Israel, or without Israel,” Eli Groner told The Times of Israel in his Jerusalem office. “And I have no doubt that for the vast majority of the Western world — and perhaps more importantly, the less developed world that wants to become more Western — Israel is part of the solution, and they’re going to prefer the package deal with Israel to the package deal without Israel.”
Since joining the PMO in May 2015, Groner has participated in countless meetings Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has conducted with leaders of countries and multinational companies.
“I am of the strong belief, based on my two years here at the Prime Minister’s Office and my participation in many meetings, that these countries want to work with Israel, with all the risks that that entails. They prefer working with us than working without us.”

Texas Trump loyalist, a candidate for cabinet post, to launch trade push with Israel, settlements

A top Texas state official, said to be a solid candidate for agriculture secretary in the incoming Trump administration, is launching a Texas-Israel trade initiative that will seek to do business with Israeli companies and ventures, including those based in the West Bank.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a staunch Trump supporter who made international headlines before the November election for posting a tweet calling then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a c*nt, is set to travel to Israel this March to meet with Israeli officials on the new venture, including Israeli Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel of the nationalist Jewish Home party and Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council in the West Bank.
According to a press statement sent by Miller’s office, he is set to have a preliminary meeting with Dagan in Washington next week at Trump’s presidential inauguration, which the prominent settler leader has been invited to attend — an invitation that further signals how differently a Trump White House will handle affairs related to Israel and its settlement enterprise compared to the Obama administration, under which any official ties to the settler movement would have been unthinkable.

This was not an investigation, it was the harassment of Jews dressed up as entertainment

Al Jazeera’s documentary series was a fishing expedition in which its undercover reporter attempted to catch out British Jews
The Orwellian nature of Al Jazeera’s disgraceful set-up is plain to see.
These are not “revelations”, and this was not an “investigation”. It was a fishing expedition in which the channel, and its undercover reporter, attempted to catch-out young British Jews.
Broadcasting standards watchdog Ofcom’s code states that programme makers “should not normally obtain or seek information, audio, pictures…through misrepresentation or deception”, without adequate public interest justification.
There is no public interest in seeing a young Jewish activist left crying by the side of the road for doing her job.
But of course, three of the top five currently trending articles on Al Jazeera’s website relate to this “investigation”.
The channel, and its Qatari masters, provided their viewers with exactly what they want – the harassment of Jews dressed up as entertainment.
It is a disgusting project and should be stripped of any vestige of journalistic credibility to which Al Jazeera and its supporters lay claim.

Al-Jazeera Defends Jackie Walker

Well there goes the credibility of Al-Jazeera’s investigation into the “Israeli lobby” and British Jews. Their new episode aired today defends Jackie Walker, who was famously suspended by Labour for saying that “Jews” were the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”. Even the Corbynistas do not contest that Walker’s conduct has been unacceptable – Corbyn’s Labour have kicked her out. But Al-Jazeera journalists incredibly say she was a victim of an Israeli conspiracy:

Al-Jazeera also quote Electronic Intifada, a virulently anti-Semitic pro-Palestine website. Sad that a supposedly reputable news organisation has become The Canary in broadcast form…

JCPA: A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule

The Jerusalem Center was contacted by a respected Palestinian attorney from a West Bank city. After personally interviewing him, we are publishing a letter he wrote. His identity will not be made public to ensure his safety.
The problem of governmental corruption is that it is not a personal matter but a public problem. The Palestinian Authority/Fatah has failed to learn any lessons from its embarrassing failure in the Legislative Council elections or its humiliating rout in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, the PA continues in its nefarious ways. For example, on the human rights issue, it took control of the Human Rights Authority, and the Rais [President Abbas] himself directly appointed the high commissioner and pays very high salaries to its officials so that they keep within the limitations set for them. This is the opposite of what the founder of the Human Rights Authority, Dr. Eyad Sarraj, intended. It actually resembles what was done by the great dictators of the World War II period, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. The PA leaders forget that the people lean toward Hamas not because they love it, but because they hate what the Fatah movement does – which only gets worse by the day.
  • The Palestinian citizen suffers from ugly terror if he expresses an opinion that is opposed to that of the PA, or insists on his rights before an official or has refused to pay a bribe to a senior official, his sons, or his bodyguards.
  • The PA prevents citizens from appealing directly to court. It requires them first to submit appeals to the police or the prosecutor-general. The police, in tandem with the prosecutor, can then “handle” the complaints so as to dismiss them and turn the complainer into the target. This was not the case in the past, and now citizens are subjected to extortion.
  • What can the citizen do if the police and the prosecutor collude to arrest him without justification or based on a false claim?
  • When this happens, all the players – the police, people in the prosecutor’s office, the judges and lawyers, the PA officials – must be “dealt” with, and one must not shrink from dealing with them as there is no statute of limitations.

Ryan Bellerose: A Message To My Jewish Friends

You might be wondering, what the hell does this Indian guy know about actually being Jewish? I know that being a marginalised, demonized minority who is exiled from your ancestral land and forced to live among those who would prefer you either assimilated or died sucks. I know that having to be better than everyone at everything just to be treated equally sucks. I know that people making fun of your “strange and mysterious and funny traditions sucks. I know that busting my ass to break stereotypes and be successful is hard and it sucks. I know that seeing the world through a European lens when you are not really European, really sucks. That’s what I know.
The truth is that I am not Jewish, but I am an indigenous person who has experienced a lot of similiar things. It motivated me to study your peoples history, culture and spirituality in order to understand my own, and I am hopefully intelligent enough to extrapolate my experiences and juxtapose them with yours in order to be more empathetic. The lessons I learned while continuing to unpack my own identity are helping me to help you unpack yours.
I am not trying to tell you how to be Jewish, I am telling you that YOU as Jew, have to decide what being Jewish means to you and to use JEWISH points of reference when doing it. Understand that your identity is YOURS, not your parents or your grandparents – they have their own identity to worry, about and while you may share many things, this is a path that only you can walk.
Anyway, don’t get hung up on language, or religion – those things are part of what you should understand but start with seeing yourself as who you are, through a lens that isn’t ruined by someone elses perspectives.

American Charities, and Even Tax Dollars, Are Funding Hamas

Following September 11, 2001, the federal government cracked down on Islamist charities that were diverting funds to various terrorist groups overseas. But the Obama administration has been notably less zealous in its efforts to shutter such charities. Sam Westrop explains the dangers:
Eight years of a more permissive attitude have afforded Islamist groups the chance for a resurgence. Islamist charities do not just provide a means to move money; they also offer legitimacy to American Islamist organizations struggling to free themselves from decades of allegations of extremism. Islamist charitable endeavors abroad serve to sanitize the Islamist agenda at home.
The most common terrorism link for American Islamist charities involves, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian territories. Where do charitable donations for the Palestinian territories end up? In the Gaza Strip, Hamas, which is designated a foreign terrorist organization, oversees every facet of society, especially the social services in which Western charities work. From the distribution of medicine to the running of schools, orphanages, and summer camps, Hamas rules the roost.
One example worth investigating is the Gaza-based Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development (UFA). At least eight prominent U.S. charities and, apparently, the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are supporting this Palestinian group. A close examination of UFA shows that it is closely aligned with senior Hamas leaders, provides cash to the families of so-called martyrs in the Gaza Strip, and promotes virulent anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Prominent Islamists Make Last-Ditch Effort to Free Hamas Supporters in the US

As President Obama’s tenure reaches its final days, Islamists in the United States are waging a furious lobbying campaign aimed at securing the freedom of five men convicted of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas.
An open campaign is currently urging the president to pardon five former officials from the defunct, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), casting them as victims of “anti-Muslim hysteria” triggered by the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, a jury convicted the five — Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammed El-Mezain, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader — of using a network of Palestinian charities controlled by Hamas to funnel money to the terrorist group.
It is not clear whether the requests to pardon the five, or to commute their sentences and release them from prison, is being considered seriously. Obama’s pardons thus far have involved somewhat less serious crimes, including fraud, embezzlement and non-violent drug offenses.
But advocates are pushing social media campaigns and online petitions aimed at securing a pardon, or, short of that, a commutation of the five men’s sentences to set them free. The campaign also has enlisted support from at least one member of Congress.

Huffington Post refuses to remove anti-Semitic blog

The Arabic edition of a left-wing online media outlet has allowed an openly anti-Semitic blog to remain on the site, and refused to respond to calls for the blog’s removal.
The Huffington Post Arabi site, the Arabic version of the popular left-leaning news platform, includes a series of blogs, handpicked by the editor, for commentary and opinions.
But as the Anti-Defamation League noted in early December, one of the blogs approved by HuffPo Arabi’s editorial board regularly indulges in explicit anti-Semitism.
The blog in question, which was first titled “Arsenic: The Poison Which a Jewish Woman Put in the Food of the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him”, was added to Huffington Post Arabi on November 29th, the ADL notes, and has since released a steady stream of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Despite being notified of the blog’s anti-Jewish bigotry by the ADL on December 7th, the editors of Huffington Post Arabi have failed to either remove the blog or explain its continued inclusion on the site.

New York Arab student leader praises murder of Israelis

A leader of one of the largest anti-Israel activist networks in the United States publicly praised the murder of four Israeli Jews in a terror attack in Jerusalem, hailing the killings as “the biggest ‘F you’” to Israel.
Nerdeen Kiswani, president of the New York City chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine took to Facebook to praise the slaughter of four IDF cadets on Sunday by an Arab terrorist from the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in Jerusalem.
In her comment, Kiswani took fellow anti-Israel activists and supporters of the Palestinian Authority to task for condemning the murderous attack, saying terrorism was, in these circumstances, justified and indeed worthy of praise. Kiswani even referenced celebrations by Arabs in Jerusalem after the attack as positive examples to emulate.
“While Palestinians and ‘allies’ in the west [sic] scramble to condemn, apologize, explain, hide, rationalize, etc what happened this morning, Palestinians in Palestine are giving out sweets in celebration,” Kiswani wrote.
“I will not hide from this. I will not be ashamed or embarrassed by this. Those celebratory actions are what keep the resistance moving forward, they are what keep it alive. In a world that’s trying to quell our liberation and self determination, the biggest ‘F you’ to that are Palestinians celebrating actions that 1) remind settlers that there will never be peace on stolen land 2) remind the world we are still here 3) galvanize other Palestinians to fight. That’s your rationalization no apology needed.”

Soros Loses $1 Billion Betting Against Market After Trump Election

One of the positives of President-elect Donald Trump is that he caused leftist billionaire George Soros to lose $1 billion in betting against the market.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Soros, as he is wont to do, decided to go back to the Soros Management Fund for trading and use Trump’s surprise victory to bet that the market would take a massive tumble. The market did tank at first, but stocks quickly rebounded and surged by 9.7 percent from the expectations of Trump implementing his pro-business policies.
According to the Journal, “some of Mr. Soros’s trading positions incurred losses approaching $1 billion” and Soros had to exit from “many of his bearish bets late last year.” However, the Soros Management Fund still had gains of five percent in 2016 due to other investments.
Ironically, Stanley Druckenmiller, who used to be one of Soros’s top lieutenants, made the opposite of bet of Soros gained by more than 10 percent this past year.
It is still hilarious to see Soros to lose money in betting against the market under Trump, especially since Soros was an avid supporter for Hillary Clinton, donating at least $9 million to Super PACs supporting the former secretary of state.
Soros is also an evil man. The Daily Wire has explained how Soros is essentially the puppet-master of the Democrat Party, pulling the strings through his funding of various media outlets and left-wing organizations that promote policies that enrich himself. Soros has gloated about his role as a Nazi collaborator and is a convicted felon.

IsraellyCool: Responding To Ray Hanania’s Myths

A few days ago, Palestinian-American journalist/comedian Ray Hanania wrote an interesting Facebook post. I didn’t know much about him, but I follow him on Twitter and never saw anything particularly offensive there, which is why I was so disturbed when I actually sat down to read what he posted on Facebook.
The post itself was a response to a message he received from an Israeli. So it would seem he is already more open-minded than the PA and most in the Arab world since he is willing to engage in “normalization,” that is, talk to Israelis like fellow human beings (something he did more publicly with the “Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour,” to his credit). But in his quest to “respond to these lies, or twisted propaganda” he shows that he is just as beholden to traditional Palestinian myths as any card-carrying member of Fatah.
But Mr. Hanania’s post was polite (mostly) and the eternal optimist in me would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. So I decided to – as dispassionately possible – respond to his points and explain where he went wrong and how his many omissions and falsehoods paint an inaccurate picture of our history. If nothing else, it should help others counter these myths.

IsraellyCool: WATCH: A Response To BDS Propaganda Video

I am not sure how old this video is, but the lies being peddled have certainly been around for a while.
You didn’t think I was going to let this stand, did you?

Amid the bad news in 2016, 2 miracles for Israel

It’s become axiomatic that 2016 was a bad year, but the way I see it, 2016 was a year of miracles, two in particular.
The first miracle was that the American publishing house InterVarsity Press, and its England-based affiliate which goes by almost the same name — Inter-Varsity Press — stopped publishing the books of Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, an Anglican Priest who made a career of attacking Israel and its Christian supporters.
Sizer’s animus toward Israel stoked controversy after he posted a link on Facebook to an article that promoted the notion that Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, was responsible for the attack against the United States that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 and resulted in the deaths of approximately 3,000 people.
He later said he didn’t think there was any link between Israel and 9/11, but the denial was not very credible. It wasn’t the first time Sizer had suggested Israel was responsible for the 9/11 attack. He had done the same thing with a footnote in one of his books published a few years before.
To make matters worse, Sizer had previously gone to a Holocaust-denial conference that took place in Iran where he denounced Christians who supported Israel.
He also appeared on Iran’s PressTV and stated that because of their misdeeds, Jews might be thrust forth from the Holy Land. With rhetoric like this, Sizer, like a lot of other Christian commentators, was helping to pave the way for jihad against the Jewish state – all in the name of peace and reconciliation.

Politico’s Misleading Poll on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Poll question 13 asked, “How much have you seen, read or heard about a recent United Nation’s resolution regarding Israel settlements in certain territories, including the Palestinian territory and West Jerusalem?”
In fact, there are no Israeli “settlements”—Jewish communities—in “West Jerusalem.” West Jerusalem has been under Israeli sovereignty since the Jewish state was proclaimed in 1948. The poll evidently meant “East Jerusalem” which Israel captured in the 1967 war.
Similarly, question 14 asked respondents what they thought about “Israel’s creation of settlements for Jewish people in territories such as West Bank and Gaza….”
But Israel has no settlements in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group whose charter calls for a Jewish genocide. In fact, in the absence of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

YouTube has removed Legal Insurrection’s Channel

YouTube took down Legal Insurrection’s Channel without any prior notice based on “multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement,” but we never received any claims of infringement.
We have lost hundreds of videos, including a lot of original content on important news subjects. You now will see disabled videos in hundreds of our posts.
I have no idea what the supposedly offending videos are. We are pretty careful when it comes to copyright, so I’m suspecting that someone about whom we posted a video made the claims.
We’ve filed the appeal forms, but if anyone has a contact at YouTube, I’d appreciate the help. Please email me.
UPDATE 1-13-2017 9:50 a.m. — I just received notice from YouTube that the copyright claims were filed by the Modern Language Association based on excerpts of audio of pro- and anti-Israel speakers at the MLA Annual Meeting we reported on in this post, Massive DEFEAT for BDS at Modern Language Association.

SUCCESS: Daily Mail Removes “State of Palestine” Reference

The Daily Mail reported on actress Meryl Streep’s reference to Natalie Portman being born in Jerusalem rather than clearly stating Israel in her Golden Globes speech.
While the arguments over the status of Jerusalem rumble on, there’s one fact that is indisputable – there has never ever been a “State of Palestine.”
But that’s not what the Daily Mail wrote:

We contacted the Daily Mail to inform editors of the error. The reference to the “State of Palestine” has now been amended to say “Palestinians.”

SUCCESS: Tel Aviv Error Corrected After HR Reminds The Guardian of its Own Style Guide

Back in 2012, HonestReporting fought a protracted legal battle against The Guardian for its policy of calling Tel Aviv Israel’s capital. The now defunct Press Complaints Commission (PCC) initially sided with The Guardian. Despite this we continued the fight until the PCC did an about-turn and The Guardian was ultimately forced to concede that Tel Aviv is not the capital of Israel, changing its own style guide.
So it was something of a surprise to read a Guardian editorial that included the following:

We contacted The Guardian to point out that its style guide states:
Jerusalem is the seat of government and Tel Aviv is the country’s diplomatic and financial centre.
The Guardian agreed and the article now includes this correction:

Poll: 85% of Jews worldwide experienced or saw anti-Semitism

A staggering 85% of Jews around the world have witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism at some point, according to a new survey by the World Zionist Organization’s International Center for Countering Anti-Semitism. The poll also found that around 50% of respondents from Europe and North America said they had either witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the past year.
The survey, of 702 respondents who identify as Jewish and do not live in Israel, was published Thursday, ahead of Israel’s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which are set to coincide on Jan. 27.
According to the survey, 67% of respondents witnessed or experienced anti-Semitic incidents involving abusive language and insults; 20% said they had witnessed or experienced anti-Semitism in the form of threats; 13% said they had either experienced or witnessed anti-Semitic violence.
Perhaps most troubling, 73% of respondents who either experienced or witnessed anti-Semitic violence said they did not report the incident to authorities.

Unprecedented work underway to preserve Auschwitz

Brick by brick, plank by plank, workers at the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau carefully clean its barracks to preserve the Holocaust symbol for future generations.
“This is the largest preservation project in the history of the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It’s unprecedented,” museum spokesman Pawel Sawicki told AFP.
Along with the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria, the barracks bear witness to Nazi Germany’s killing of around 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, at this camp, which it built in 1940 in the southern city of Oswiecim after occupying Poland.
“Preserving a barrack requires a completely different approach than one used to preserve a church for example. There, the goal is to return the building to its original state, so its most beautiful state,” says site manager Ewa Cyrulik.

WATCH: Netanyahu Welcomes First Jamaican PM to Visit Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the first holder of his office to visit Israel, to Jerusalem on Thursday.
“I think this is the first visit ever by a prime minister of Jamaica to Israel, so it has a double significance for us,” Netanyahu said during their joint appearance.
Netanyahu also thanked Jamaica for not supporting “the absurd vote in UNESCO,” which denied Jewish historical claims to the Temple Mount, and said that he looked forward to greater cooperation with the Caribbean nation “in a variety of fields that relate to economy, to security, to technology. This is something that we eagerly are interested in doing with you.”
Netanyahu also spoke to Holness of the values shared by their two nations. “There is a natural affinity between us. We’re both democracies. We each have our own challenges but we flourish under challenge. And we’ll be able, I think, to provide a better future for our people if we cooperate, and this visit is a hallmark of cooperation,” he said.
Finally, Netanyahu thanked Holness for his invitation to visit Jamaica and indicated that he intended to do so “sometime in the future.”

Israeli doctors – Palestinian children

Today, Neumann is a consultant to the outpatient clinic of the pediatric oncology department at Sheba. I decided to contact him to arrange another visit to his clinic.
Currently, 40% of his patients come from Gaza and the West Bank. I looked around at the parents with their children waiting to be seen – many of the youngsters’ faces were bloated by the necessity of steroids given following a bone marrow transplant – children without hair in the midst of treatment yet still able to smile.
For those requiring hospitalization, 24 beds are available in the pediatric malignant oncology unit. On average, 50% of the inpatients are from Gaza and the disputed territories.
Neumann introduced me to a mother from Gaza whose eight-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with an abdominal tumor at the age of one year and three months. The child was operated on at Sheba some three months ago and has remained hospitalized ever since for follow-on treatment. Her mother has been with her for the entire period. Hostel accommodation – at a minimal cost – is provided for the accompanying parents or grandparents.
While Palestinian patients from Judea and Samaria come for treatment and then return home, this is not the case with those from Gaza, which is why it becomes necessary to provide accommodation. Children from Gaza arrive in special ambulances, which are obligated to pass through three checkpoints – Fatah, Hamas and finally Israeli.
Unfortunately, Palestinian children arrive in a far worse condition than those from Israel, primarily because they are not sent here at an early stage of diagnosis.

Palermo to build first new synagogue in over 500 years

In a moving ceremony in Palermo, Italy, on Thursday, the local archbishop announced that the site containing the ruins of the city’s ancient synagogue was being returned to the local Jewish community. The community plans to build a new synagogue — the first in the Sicilian city in 524 years — near the ruins of the old one.
The Jews of Sicily were expelled on Jan. 12, 1493. The synagogue was destroyed, and the site on which it stood was taken over by the Roman Catholic Church and the monastery of St. Nicolo Tolentino. Since then, there has been no Jewish activity in Palermo.
Thursday’s ceremony was held at the Historical Archives of Palermo, which like the monastery, was built on the ruins of the synagogue. The decision to return the site to the Jewish community was made in response to a request by the Shavei Israel organization, a group dedicated to helping “lost” Jews worldwide reclaim their roots and re-embrace Judaism, and the Sicilian Institute for Jewish Studies (ISSE). Hundreds of descendants of anusim — Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity but continued to practice Judaism in secret — interested in researching their Jewish roots were in attendance.
Archbishop of Palermo Corrado Lorefice said: “Locating the new synagogue on the ancient ruins of the Great Synagogue of Palermo makes this historic moment especially exciting.”

Blues musicians look to strike a chord in Tel Aviv festival

Tel Aviv’s fourth annual Blues Festival kicked off Wednesday night, with 40 shows over four days in clubs across the city, and featuring an opening act by Grammy Award winner Alvin Youngblood Hart.
The blues and rock scene in Israel is small but growing quickly, said Gal De Paz, who is performing in the festival for the fourth year with her band, the Paz Band.
“There are a lot of people in Israel that in the past few years have inserted blues back into the music, the cultural vibe. We don’t really have blues here that much, like America, but in the past few years it has grown and we have a lot of great blues artists,” De Paz said.
The Tel Aviv native has seen a shift in Israel’s live music scene since releasing her first album in 2010. There were not many outlets for rock, blues and folk musicians in Israel at the time, but the genres are now popular in the concert and festival scenes, De Paz said. The mainstream media in Israel does not reflect this shift, though, and does not support indie musicians, said De Paz, who also sings with the hip hop group Lucille Crew.

Ex-NBA star Stoudemire: ‘Never felt more at home’ in Israel

Six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire made an unlikely move in August, when he retired from the NBA and signed a two-year deal with the Israeli basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem.
But it seems the choice was the right one for the 34-year old basketball player, who raves about his “adopted homeland” in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.
“I’ve never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing,” Stoudemire told the reporter over a Shabbat meal during Hanukkah in his Jerusalem home, featuring chicken, lamb, fish — and dreidel spinning.
Stoudemire isn’t Jewish but identifies with the Hebrew Israelites, African-Americans who believe they are connected to the biblical Israelites. He doesn’t eat pork or shellfish — he has even searched Jerusalem for a kosher butcher selling turkey bacon — but the Sports Illustrated writer also noted that Stoudemire thanked Jesus in a blessing said before the meal.
The 6-foot-10-inch athlete, who lives in a four-story house just blocks away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, is helping to break down stereotypes about Israel.

Forbes Traveler: Israel ‘Might Have Best Restaurant Scene in the World’

Israel has the “best restaurant scene in the world,” a Forbes magazine contributor declared Thursday.
“Fine dining has given way to fun dining” in recent years, noted veteran world traveler Ann Abel, who explained that more and more people are favoring “informal joints that serve excellent food in a sophisticated setting, but don’t take themselves too seriously.”
“Some of the best restaurants today are ones where you sit elbow-to-elbow with others, dishes circulate family-style, and the progression of courses is interrupted for socializing, sunshine breaks outside, and dancing between — or atop — the tables. And that’s at lunch,” Abel wrote. “By that score, it’s hard to name a restaurant scene that’s more appealing than Israel’s. It’s the atmosphere that made me fall in love with eating Israeli-style.”
She described a number of her favorite eateries in the Jewish state, including a “beautifully cluttered old coffeehouse” in the north, and an organic goat cheese farm and restaurant hidden in the hills of the Galilee.
Abel also applauded the menagerie of North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food traditions that influence Israeli cooking, noting that the “most pedestrian of eating excursion” through Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market turned into a “a grand [food] tour of countries Americans are no longer likely to visit.”
The “blissful simplicity” of Israel’s food “makes it rich in flavor” she wrote, describing the focus on fresh seafood, vegetables and grilled meat, and applauding the abundance of vegan choices.

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