Mark Twain’s Land of Israel
Published in 1869, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad was the book that launched him to literary stardom. It is based on the dispatches he wrote from a steamship tour that took him to various Mediterranean and Black Sea ports of call, including Jaffa and Jerusalem. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Innocents Abroad, the New-York Historical Association has mounted an exhibit on Twain’s visit to the Holy Land, where, writes Diane Cole, he found his tour’s “main attraction”:
Throughout the trip, Twain highlighted the disparity between the desire of his guidebook-led companions to see what they had been promised and the reality of what was actually in front of them. The contrast reached its peak once they arrived in the Holy Land. “I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine,” he commented, beginning with the reality of the relatively small size of the local grapes he saw, as opposed to the enormous vines portrayed in his favorite Bible-story illustrations.
Similarly, Jerusalem itself seemed “[s]o small! Why, it was no larger than an American village of four thousand inhabitants,” he wrote.
But beyond Twain’s 1867 [visit to the Holy Land] . . . it was his later travels to Europe in the 1890s that brought to the fore his rejection of anti-Semitism. In Paris, he was shocked by the visceral anti-Semitism exhibited in the Dreyfus affair. Visiting Vienna, he was condemned by the increasingly anti-Semitic press there for meeting with leading Jewish intellectuals such as Sigmund Freud and Theodor Herzl.
Pittsburgh native Bari Weiss won a 2019 National Jewish Book Award for her book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.”
Weiss, who grew up in Squirrel Hill and graduated from Shady Side Academy, won the Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award in the category Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. Hers was one of two 2019 books on anti-Semitism cited as “important and timely” in the Jewish Book Council announcement.
Weiss, 35, of New York, wrote the book in response to the 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue, where she celebrated her bat mitzvah 21 years earlier.
“Weiss’ cri de coeur is an unnerving reminder that Jews must never lose their hard-won instinct for danger, and a powerful case for renewing Jewish and American values in uncertain times from one of our most provocative writers,” according to her publisher, Crown.
The response in too many cases was silence. It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “At the end of our lives, it won’t be the words of our enemies that wound us most, but the silence of our friends.”
What is the knot in the throats of African Americans that keeps us from speaking out against anti-Semitism? Why have we remained silent in the face of hate-filled speech directed at the Jewish community by Black leaders like Minister Louis Farrakhan whose venomous sermons call secular Jews the Synagogue of Satan? Aren’t we the ones blessed with internal radars sensitive to the nuances of racism by even the most unsuspecting white bigot (“But Kristina, some of my best friends are black!)? Does our moral compass only include Black people? If that is the case, then ours is a false morality. The reason we admire righteous men like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama is precisely because their leadership extended humanity to all people.
If I can say Black Lives Matter in the face of police corruption and brutality, then I should also be able to say that Jewish Lives Matter when members of their community are gunned down in cold blood. Because anti-Semitism is racism, and because, as the German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
During the last three years, I have seen a rise in anti-Semitism in the Black community. Part of this stems from a rise in hate speech across our nation that is being pushed at the highest levels of leadership. Teachings rooted in hatred of the other, left unchecked, lead to incidents like Jersey City – and Charlottesville. But there is another issue, a specific issue, that gives otherwise morally-courageous Black leaders pause when dealing with the issue of the Jews? That issue is identity. There is a desperate cry in the heart of every African American surrounding issues of identity that our Jewish friends, even after the Holocaust, do not understand. (h/t Yerushalimey)
Today, as we celebrate the incredible life & legacy of #MartinLutherKing, it is also worth pausing and remembering that #MLK was a staunch Zionist & supporter of the State of #Israel. pic.twitter.com/kNmnaM3r7G
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) January 15, 2020
Bethany Mandel: On NR’s (Several) Disgraceful Swipes at Jews
Several days ago, National Review ran a news item about the rise in anti-Semitism in the tri-state area. It had this bizarre quality of trying to give both sides of the situation, but here’s the problem: on one side of the “issue” are Jews getting massacred and on the other, people who call those same Jews “locusts.” The piece intended to give “context” to the rise in tensions, but it operated under a false pretense: there is no excuse for anti-Semitism, Jews are not to blame for Jew-hatred. The writer, Zachary Evans wrote,
The ultra-Orthodox population is also a heavy user of government resources such as Medicaid and food stamps. This is due to the perception that many of the men either don’t work or make low salaries, choosing instead to devote their time to studying religious texts.
“Many in the community look at the Hasidim as locusts, who go from community to community . . . just stripping all the resources out of it,” said a Jewish, but not ultra-Orthodox, resident of upstate New York. The resident, who vociferously objects to ultra-Orthodox development and asked not to be named for fear of retribution by the ultra-Orthodox community, added that “nobody here doesn’t like them because they’re Jews. People don’t like them because of what they do. Rural, hardworking people also want to live our lives too.”
The entire premise was moot considering the assailants in Jersey City and Monsey; they weren’t neighbors of Jews concerned about “overdevelopment” or any other issue bigots across the tri-state area have clung to in order to explain their anti-Semitism against Hasidic Jews. The attackers in both the Jersey City and Monsey attacks drove from out of town to perpetrate their crimes; they weren’t motivated by anything but hate.
In this bizarre news item, the victims of these attacks are portrayed as crooks, moochers and “locusts” and the bigot using this kind of language is protected because he’s afraid of retribution.
It was victim-blaming and incendiary at a time where Hasidic Jews are under attack daily across the New York and New Jersey area.
Online, conservatives and liberals lit the piece on fire. Editors at NR got calls, emails and even an in-person visit from Jews concerned about how the publication allowed the victims of a spike in hate crimes to be portrayed.
Progressive social media outlet NowThis released an incendiary interview with pro-Palestinian activists who slammed the existence of Israel and even engaged in some Holocaust revisionism.
Donning a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarf, Becca Lewis, a senior at George Washington University said in the video: “What’s going to happen if there’s another Holocaust? Well, we’re seeing what’s happening. We’re seeing people die at the border for lack of medical care. That’s how Anne Frank died. She didn’t die from a concentration camp, she died from typhus.”
It’s safe to say, though, had Frank not been imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen by the Nazis, she probably wouldn’t have contracted typhus in the first place.
The video, which came out on Wednesday, featured Palestinian advocates responding to US President Donald Trump’s executive order that protects Jewish students from being exposed to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses.
“I am Jewish and it is because I am Jewish that I fight for the rights and liberty for all people,” Lewis said through crocodile tears. “I do not associate my Judaism with a nation-state.”
Sitting beside Lewis, Mohamed Elsherbiny, a freshman at American University, added, “The executive order has nothing to do with the safety of Jewish allies. It is solely meant to repress Palestinian advocates.”
In which @nowthisnews airs the grotesque rantings of a campus activist who says that Anne Frank “didn’t die in a concentration camp” but rather from a “lack of medical care”
This is truly truly disgusting and everyone involved should be ashamed pic.twitter.com/NwwsDpeuhn
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) January 16, 2020
Two separate hearings at the US Congress this week have examined potential measures that legislators can take in response to the recent rise in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks across America.
On Wednesday, freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) chaired a session of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism titled “Confronting the Rise in Antisemitic Domestic Terrorism.”
“The horrific rise in antisemitic domestic terrorism is an issue that has deeply affected my district, my community, and the whole New York City area,” Rose said in a statement. “Jewish people have been coming to America since before it was even called America in order to freely practice their religion, escape persecution, and build a better life for their families. Yet now we are under assault by extremists, many of whom are emboldened to act and often encouraged by content on social media platforms. The time for thoughts and prayers has passed — the time now is for action.”
Experts addressing the hearing included Nathan Diament — the executive director of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America — who argued that the recent spate of violent attacks on visibly Orthodox Jewish targets had been “amplified and accelerated by the broader surge in antisemitism we are experiencing in the United States.”
John Miller — deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department (NYPD) — told the hearing that tougher law enforcement measures were not a substitute for education against prejudice and antisemitism.
“Antisemitism in all its forms…is steeped in ignorance and bred of muddled and incoherent conspiracy theories, and while this has been the case for quite some time, it is more easily spread and consumed these days because of social media,” Miller remarked. “For these reasons, a lasting solution to bigotry and hatred will never be grounded solely on law enforcement and heightened security. That will only be achieved when every citizen works collectively to educate each other and to reinforce our shared values of tolerance and unity.”
One would have to live in a hermitage, not to have taken notice of the incessant, brutal and burgeoning attacks on Jews in the New York City area in the month of December alone. Clearly, a vitriolic and palpable antisemitism has not only manifested itself in lethal proportions but it has come to represent a diabolical threat to our existential survival.
I had written about the rapid escalation of antisemitism here at Arutz 7 on several occasions. Here is the link to my most recent article.
And now, in the aftermath of the Jersey City murders of Orthodox Jews, the brutal stabbing of five Orthodox Jews during a Hannukah celebration at a rabbi’s home in Monsey and the fourteen more anti-Semitic attacks in the month of December, we find ourselves back to square one in terms of finding a resolution to this dastardly scourge of Jew hatred.
Yes, a “solidarity march” against antisemitism billed as “No Hate, No Fear” was sponsored by an array of establishment Jewish organizations. 25,000 people (Jews and non-Jews) came to voice their outrage by the uptick in violent hate crimes. While it was originally believed that this march would essentially craft an erroneous narrative that would call the dramatic uptick in antisemitism a product of the Trump era, it actually gave voice to all views and unity prevailed.
Now that the march is also behind us, we once again look to our elected officials for real solutions to the ubiquitous antisemitism that has us in a collective choke hold.
As synagogues nationwide debate whether to have armed individuals in their building to prevent possible terror attacks, Jewish groups are stepping up their efforts to safeguard places of worship and other gathering places.
One of those groups, the Secure Community Network, has issued new research and scenarios on who might carry arms in a congregation – from trained law-enforcement personnel to congregational members – and how to keep attendees safe.
Titled “Firearms and the Faithful: Approaches to Armed Security in Jewish Community,” the 24-page white paper was crafted by SCN – the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. It was written in consultations with security experts, including federal and local law-enforcement officials.
The guidelines come just weeks after a terror attack at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, NY, and has been in the works for several months following last year’s deadly attacks at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway in Southern California.
Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh following the shooting attack in October 2018 (Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk)
“With attacks against synagogues and Jewish communities at their highest levels in years, this report comes at an important time,” said Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. “We are rethinking our approach to security.”
According to the FBI, hate crimes targeting Jews are on the rise nationwide. In 2018, of the 1,550 recorded religiously motivated bias offenses, 57% were “motivated by anti-Jewish bias.”
Seth Frantzman: The Ottomans are back – what does that mean for Israel?
In late November, Turkey set its sights on a new goal.
In Libya, a long-forgotten civil war was raging. The government in Tripoli, often called the Government of the National Accord, was losing ground to the Libyan National Army, led by a man named Khalifa Haftar, whose forces were based in eastern Libya.
Turkey supports Tripoli; Egypt supports Haftar. It is part of a much wider struggle that represents Turkey’s attempt to revive influence not seen since the end of the First World War. A century ago, the European powers thought that the Ottoman Empire could be easily chopped up and its territories given away.
Today Turkey is back, moving into areas like northern Iraq, northern Syria, Libya and even the Gulf and Somalia.
The Paris Peace Conference that ended in January 1920, 100 years ago, helped the stage for many of the issues still facing the Middle East. It is hard to remember now, but much of what we take for granted regarding the borders of the Middle East is in some ways arbitrary. They were decided on partly after World War I in a series of treaties, such as the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 and Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.
Why is Hatay province, once called Alexandretta, in Turkey, when it could have been in Syria? Why is Mosul in Iraq and not in Turkey, as Turkey once claimed it? Why do the Kurds lack a state? The recent tensions in the Middle East, the unresolved questions from Lebanon to Iraq, Libya, Turkey and Gaza, are all part of this.
Last March, the Turkish government gave the Palestinian Authority 140,000 pages of microfilm of the Ottoman Archive, including thousands of documents of land registration from 1517-1917 in what is now Israel. The Palestinians have already used the archive to challenge Israeli ownership of land and real estate in various parts of the country.
Turkish President Erdogan, a patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, seeks to restore Islam’s glory throughout “Palestine” and with special emphasis on Jerusalem. He is promoting a Turkish national awakening in the city through cultural events, Turkish flags, and especially dawa – charity, education, and social assistance to bring people closer to Islam. This is known as the “quiet jihad.” In Israel, dozens of dawa groups receive funding from Turkey, thus strengthening Turkey’s influence.
In the past two years, the Turks have funded a replacement for the gold crescent that tops the Dome of the Rock and the reconstruction of other Islamic monuments on the Temple Mount. Turkish organizations are also funding the rebuilding of mosques in Jaffa and Haifa and pay the salaries of dozens of imams throughout Israel. In Jerusalem, 130 buildings have been restored thus far thanks to Turkish money.
Seth Frantzman: Turkey announces it will build ‘settlements’ in occupied Syria
Turkey announced on Thursday it was beginning “settlement construction” in areas occupied illegally in northern Syria. Turkey invaded in Syria beginning in 2016 in a series of operations that culminated in an attack on Kurdish forces in January 2018 and October 2019, forcing more than 300,000 Kurds from their homes in Afrin in eastern Syria. Now Turkey wants to build settlements for mostly Sunni Arab Syrians that have fled other parts of Syria to Turkey.
Turkey’s pro-government TRT World reported on Thursday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “we have started to work on settlement construction between syria’s Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad, where can settle hundreds of thousands of people, while other places along the Turkey-Syria border can house a million people.” Up to four million Syrians now live in Turkey, many of them having fled war with the Assad regime. They come from areas around Aleppo, Homs, Hama and other areas.
Turkey wants to settle mostly Arab Syrian refugees in Kurdish areas of Syria, rather than in areas around Jarabulus which Turkey also occupied. The concept in Turkey is to create a belt of settlements along the border where Kurds and other minorities once lived, and turn them into a pro-Turkey series of housing developments that will both be a buffer for Turkey and also help to foster loyalty among the Syrian refugees who are concerned about their future.
Turkey has promised since it took over the Kurdish region of Afrin to settle these millions of refugees somewhere. It sought to move some to Afrin after 160,000 Kurds fled, but was unable to actually build them homes when Syrian rebel militias took over Afrin. Now in the area Turkey took over in October 2019, when the US withdrew from parts of northern Syria, Ankara says it will build “settlements.” Ankara has promised a multi-billion dollar program, expropriating private land and building towns and cities in northern Syria. This would be a project on a scale unseen in recent human history in the Middle East, requiring massive engineering projects and highways and public parks. It’s unclear how Turkey plans to do this since Turkey doesn’t have unlimited resources and it’s unclear how Turkey will legally expropriate the land that it occupied illegally in Syria. US officials have privately warned that Turkey’s invasion of Syria in October 2019 was a form of ethnic cleansing and that undisciplined Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups looted and caused human rights violations by killing civilians.
When rumors first circulated in early December 2019 that Turkey would send Syrian rebel fighters to Libya and pay them like mercenaries to fight in a foreign war they were greeted with skepticism.
Now there are thousands of Syrians in Libya fighting for Turkey and for a ramshackle government in Tripoli that they have no stake or interest in. How did the Syrian rebellion that once sought to un-seat Assad become a tool in Ankara’s foreign policy, something between a foreign legion and a gang of mercenaries for hire?
Ankara supported the Syrian rebellion from its early years enabling the rebel groups to use Turkey as a waystation and a place of recuperation. They could bring supporters through Turkey, funding, food and humanitarian aid and they could organize in Turkey, using it almost as a staging area.
This made sense for Turkey because Ankara supported the rebels ideologically and was also flooded by several million refugees. Up until 2015 this fluid arrangement worked. But in that year things began to change. Two elections in Turkey and the breakdown of the PKK ceasefire led to a crises. The rise of ISIS in 2014 had also brought increased pressure on Turkey to close the Syrian border and build a wall.
Erdoğan’s Chief Advisor And Former General Tanrıverdi Presents Vision – Reflected In Turkey’s Policy – Of A United Islamic Superpower Based On Shari’a Comprising 61 Countries And With Istanbul As Capital
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor, retired Turkish general Adnan Tanrıverdi, has been articulating a vision of a unified Islamic superpower through conferences and documents published by his organizations. This vision is reflected in President Erdoğan’s foreign policy.
The Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center (ASSAM), of which Tanrıverdi is chairman of the board, has scheduled seven annual “congresses,” of which three have taken place, to work through the technical problems in the formation and governance of an “Islamic union.” At a recent ASSAM Congress, Tanrıverdi called for the coordination of the joint manufacturing of weapons and military equipment among Islamic countries, saying: “States cannot stand tall against the countries whose weapons they use.” ASSAM has also published a 69-page draft of a constituion for a planned shari’a-based confederation of 61 Islamic countries. This constituion declares that “sovereignty belongs to shariah,” that Istanbul is to be the capital of the confederation, that the Arabic language would be taught in all of its schools, and that its name will be “Asrica,” which is formed from a combination of Asia and Africa.
Tanrıverdi is also chairman of the board of Turkish defense contracting firm SADAT Inc., on whose website Tanrıverdi has posted statements. One recent statement reads: “The welfare of Turkish and Muslim nations and the establishment of peace and justice in the world hinges upon appearance of the Islamic countries as a superpower on the global political scene.” He has also said that “the Islamic world should prepare an army for Palestine from outside Palestine” while SADAT Inc. has published material outlining the logistics of a hypothetical joint attack on Israel by 57 Islamic countries. A page on SADAT Inc.’s website states that “SADAT A.S. was in Libya to determine the needs of New Libyan Armed Forces and search for possibilities for Consultancy, Training, Ordnance service delivery for Libya” and shows a photo of Tanrıverdi shaking hands with a Libyan military officer as the two hold a plaque of the Ottoman Coat of Arms.
As the senior rabbis of two major Reform synagogues, we are deeply worried about the effect that hatred of Israel has on students. Criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. It is often helpful and motivated by sound principles. But to describe Zionism as racism, to deny Israel’s most basic right to exist, is anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent.
Why is Israel the only country in the world whose right to exist is not just questioned but actively campaigned against? Israel’s enemies protest that they are simply anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic, yet their view of justice requires eliminating the one and only Jewish state. And they attack it with such venom. Their hatred of Israel is a primal loathing.
A hateful obsession with Israel too often descends into hatred of Jews, even if it doesn’t start there. Hateful words lead to hateful deeds. This environment produces, teaches, accelerates and normalizes anti-Semitism. Anti-Israel activity on some college campuses has led to verbal and even physical assaults on Jewish students. And we must be honest with ourselves. It is happening in our space – in the heart of intellectual liberalism.
[2/2] WATCH: What does it mean when college students chant “Intifada!” & “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” at Jewish students?@AmericansAA explains the true intentions behind those rallying cries meant to pose as humanitarian concern.
Don’t be fooled by hate! pic.twitter.com/rgcevLcYMK
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) January 15, 2020
From Wikipedia: Born on September 8, 1941, Bernie Sanders quickly became the head of the Zionist movement and at age 8, he founded the Jewish State.
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) January 16, 2020
At the annual conference of the American Historical Association—the major professional organization for academic historians—two resolutions condemning Israel were defeated. This is the fourth time since 2015 that the same group of historians has put forward such resolutions. While the resolutions have always lost, the voting margin shrank somewhat this year. Jeffrey Herf comments on the unreality of the propaganda put forward by supporters:
When one reads the documents [submitted by supporters of the anti-Israel resolutions] one would have no idea that Israel has any security problems at all. These texts read as if, for reasons having to do presumably with the original sin of its founding, Israel inexplicably violates human rights, arbitrarily restricts student travel in Gaza, and willfully violates the academic freedom of Palestinians. . . . The [resolutions] fail to mention any actions taken by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, not to mention Hizballah and the government of Iran, that would cause concern for the government of Israel. Theirs is a Middle East conflict in which there is no Arab terrorism, no suicide bombers, no rocket attacks on schools and farms, and no knife attacks in Jerusalem.
Equally troubling, to Herf, are the effects these resolutions would have if passed:
I would not be surprised if young Jews who are thinking of pursuing careers as historians will now think long and hard about doing so. Young Jews already in the profession, or others who may have a good word to say for Israel, will be likely to suppress their views in order not to offend. The resolutions could reintroduce an era of open discrimination against Jews, made all the more difficult to counter as it would drape itself in the language of human rights, intersectionality, and anti-racism.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) January 15, 2020
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) January 15, 2020
Anti-war activists in Germany were at the center of new allegations of antisemitism on Tuesday, as a row over the cancellation of an invitation to a Jewish member of the Munich City Council to address an annual peace conference in the Bavarian capital escalated once again.
Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, told local news outlets that the decision by organizers of the International Munich Peace Conference to nix a speaking invitation to Marian Offman — the city council’s sole Jewish member — was insulting.
“To put it mildly, I consider it an affront to the city if the city representative is rejected as a speaker,” Reiter told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Reiter confirmed that no other speaker would be sent as a representative of the council, pointedly adding that any future use by the peace conference of Munich’s prestigious Old City Hall, which dates back to the 15th century, was now “open to discussion.”
The controversy over the canceled invite to Offman has festered for nearly a month. Thomas Rödl — the main organizer of the conference, which brings together activists from the peace movement as a counter to the annual Munich Security Conference — explained that Offman’s stalwart opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel was the reason for his being rejected as a speaker.
Accusing Offman of having “dealt aggressively and in a polarizing way with political groups and events that critically assess the policies of the government of Israel,” Rödl told Munich city officials in a letter last month of his worry that “these topics would dominate the event in the Old City Hall, which are not the subject of our program” should Offman address the gathering.
A motion to strike down a boycott of Israel enacted by the student union of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, has failed to pass, the student-run Concordian newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The motion was proposed at the Concordia Student Union (CSU), and related to an item in the CSU Positions Book — a document that reflects the positions that generally “establish the Union’s political discourse and long-term goals.”
Under a section on international affairs, the book includes two items related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one of which endorses “the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine until Israel complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights.” The item was approved by a tight margin during a student referendum in 2014, but rejected by Concordia’s then president for violating “the value of academic freedom.” No other foreign country is similarly addressed in the student handbook, or else named as the target of boycott.
A CSU member who supported the recent motion to remove the item raised concerns over “hypocritical enforcement,” and argued that it was impractical for CSU to boycott all Israeli goods, the Concordian reported.
The motion failed, with other CSU members pointing out “that the Positions Book was a political stance and not a binding contract,” according to the Concordian, and that the item could not be taken out without another referendum.
A Spanish court has ruled against a boycott agreement targeting companies with ties to Israel that was previously adopted by the City Council of Santa Cruz de Bezana, the Madrid-based pro-Israel organization ACOM said on Wednesday.
The city hall, located in Spain’s northern Cantabria region, adopted the “Space Free of Israeli Apartheid” (ELAI) pledge — a part of the controversial Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign — on Aug. 11, 2017, after it was presented by the far-left Unidas Podemos alliance.
The motion was supported by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the United Left communist party, and the Regionalist Party of Cantabria, according to ACOM. It was opposed by the centrist Citizens party, while the conservative People’s Party abstained.
In its ruling, the Contentious Administrative Court number 1 of Santander said the agreement contained discriminatory elements, exceeded the city council’s “local competency,” and “affects the right to equality reflected in Article 14 of the Spanish Constitution,” ACOM said.
The judgement imposes legal costs that will be shouldered by the city.
This past July, a councilor with the right-wing Vox party — which did not have representation during the 2017 vote — called for the motion’s revocation, saying it displayed an “extremist ideological position” that verged on antisemitism and would be responsible for “unnecessary economic damage.”
A court shut the doors on Thursday to Amnesty International’s request to revoke NSO’s export license in a case with massive counter-terror and human rights implications.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Rachel Barkai did allow Amnesty lawyer, Itai Mack, to make some arguments before a huge media presence about the importance of keeping part of the case open to the public.
At first, Judge Barkai even suggested allowing all of Mack’s arguments to be open to the media and only closing the hearing for the Defense Ministry’s arguments in favor of maintaining NSO’s license.
However, after state lawyer Sara Bilu said that this would make it look like the government was admitting to Amnesty’s accusations of human rights violations against the defense ministry and against NSO, Judge Barkai abruptly reversed herself.
Hamas and BDS don’t want you to see this picture. Israeli Muslim Hijabi female medics that volunteer in the United Hatzalah of Israel. They provide fast medical service to ALL citizens of Israel regardless. When Hamas bombs Israel, they’re not defending Muslims. It’s all lies. pic.twitter.com/ffpTC0cqzw
— Imam of Peace (@Imamofpeace) January 16, 2020
Several weeks ago this site published an article in my name, without my consent or input, that attributed to me statements I have not made and opinions I do not hold. It put words in my mouth to the effect that I believe antisemitism only occurs among white people. I had my attorney demand that this site publish a disclaimer in bold at the top of the aforementioned article indicating that it is satire, because I maintain you readers are not intelligent enough to distinguish between straight news and parody on a parody site with a parody name.
Given that reality, I have no choice but to demand that PreOccupied Territory alter the presentation of the subject article to conform with my requirements. At first I demanded that the article in its entirety be taken down, but my attorney counseled me to scale that back to requiring a note when no other satirical opinion pieces attributed to public figures contain such a statement, and the presence of an article on a site devoted exclusively to satire might not be enough for you imbeciles to determine the satirical nature of such an article. The name “PreOccupied Territory” isn’t enough of a dead giveaway. I think you’re that stupid.
You must realize that I do not blame you for your stupidity. Unless you’re white. Then I can blame you for anything. But I digress. My point is that we on the progressive left have a very low opinion of the intelligence, capabilities, and moral agency of large swaths of humanity, especially but not exclusively the non-white swaths. Yeesh, there I go digressing again. Anyway, it helps to define Jews as “white” for our purposes when it suits us. I do have to stop digressing like that.
It turns out that genocidal Islamist terrorist groups are bad at governing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. But apparently it is to The Washington Post. The newspaper’s Jan. 2, 2020 dispatch decried living conditions in the Gaza Strip, but failed to place blame where it belongs: with Hamas, the U.S.-designated terror group that rules the Strip.
Citing a 2012 U.N. report, the Post asserted that Gaza would “become unlivable by 2020” if “prevailing economic, environmental and political trends continued.” It is, the Post said, “a bleak reality facing Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents as they approach a new year and new decade.”
Reporters Miriam Berger and Hazem Balousha highlighted some of the issues facing Gaza: a sea filled with sewage “pumped in because there’s not enough electricity and infrastructure to run Gaza’s war-torn sewage system.” The “hospitals, schools and homes” that are “similarly running on empty, worn down by the lack of clean water, electricity, infrastructure and jobs or money.”
“Barely anyone,” they write “has enough clean water to drink.” The Post quotes some Palestinians. The newspaper also uncritically cites the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. itself. Contravening standard journalistic practices, no Israeli official is quoted.
A box resembling a homemade bomb was left outside a Dutch kosher restaurant where several antisemitic attacks have occurred.
The cardboard box, which contained no explosives and bears the logo of the Heineken beer brand, was found Wednesday morning outside the HaCarmel restaurant in southern Amsterdam. It had masking tape fastening wires and a black electric trigger switch to its top.
The police bomb disposal unit rushed to the scene to examine the device, according to the Twitter account of the Federatief Joods Nederland group. Police said on social media that they are examining the box. The probe revealed that the box contained no explosives, police said in a statement.
In 2017, a 29-year-old man waving a Palestinian flag smashed the windows of HaCarmel with a wooden club, stealing an Israeli flag hanging there. Police officers stood by as he vandalized the place but arrested the suspect, a Syrian asylum seeker, when he came out. He was convicted of vandalism after 52 days in jail while awaiting his trial but was released with no additional penalty. Dutch Jews criticized the ruling because it did not contain a reference identifying his actions as a hate crime.
A 19-year-old Virginia man has been charged with calling in false bomb threats and active shootings as part of a network of white supremacists.
John William Kirby Kelley of Vienna was charged Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, specifically interstate threats to injure.
Kelley is accused of being part of a network that “shared racist views” and had a “particular disdain for African Americans and Jewish people,” and targeted them in the swatting attacks, a practice in which fake emergencies are called in to authorities to draw a large law enforcement response, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Friday, The Associated Press reported..
Among the targets were a historic black church in Alexandria, Virginia; campus buildings at Old Dominion University, where Kelley was registered; and an address for a person under Secret Service protection, an FBI agent said in the affidavit filed in federal court in Virginia, The New York Times reported.
Investigators traced hundreds of calls to Kelley beginning in November 2018.
A Jewish organization in Ukraine said that the number of antisemitic incidents documented there last year decreased by 27 percent over 2018.
The United Jewish Community of Ukraine, one of several groups representing Ukrainian Jewry, said in a report published Monday that it has documented 66 antisemitic incidents in 2019 compared to 90 in the previous year.
It attributed the purported change to the election in May of Volodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish actor, as president.
The Jewish group that published the report is headed by Igor Kolomoisky, a nationalist Jewish billionaire who owns the television channel where Zelensky worked.
Ukraine has no government watchdog that monitors racist incidents and publishes aggregated reports.
Humans have already trained artificial intelligence technologies to see, hear, speak, and think. Israeli company OrCam Technologies is leveraging AI technologies to help vision and hearing impaired people navigate their daily lives with greater ease. On Tuesday, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, OrCam presented some of its newest advances: a wearable device that through rhythmic beeping can help people become orientated in their surroundings without dependency on eyesight; an artificial intelligence-based personal assistant that can help visually impaired people order from a menu, sort through documents, or pull a number out of an entire page of text; and a device that integrates with a standard hearing aid to help hearing impaired people follow a conversation in a loud, packed room.
OrCam’s flagship device is the MyEye 2, a finger-sized device fitted with a camera and a microphone that, when clipped onto glasses, reads printed and digital text aloud to the person wearing it. The device, which also aids with facial recognition and differentiating between banknotes, for example, was recently included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 best inventions of 2019.
On Tuesday, OrCam unveiled new AI capabilities for the device, which effectively turn it into a personal assistant. More than just a camera that reacts to movement, the new and improved MyEye can interact with the user via voice command. “Like they would interact with Apple’s Siri, the new abilities allow users to communicate with the system to extract information from their surroundings,” OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua told Calcalist in a Tuesday interview.
The Israeli military this week held its first joint cyber drill with Thai forces, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said Wednesday.
The drill was held by the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence Directorate (C4I) and focused on dealing with a wide variety of digital threats, such as cyberattacks, enemy hacking attempts, and cyberterrorism.
“Cyber threats are a global trend, and most countries worldwide invest in developing defenses for their digital assets. The more technologically advanced a country is – the greater the challenge,” C4I Col. A. explained.
IDF training to foreign forces “is designed to meet and further hone their capabilities so as to foster learning and success, not to present impossible challenges,” he added.
The IDF’s cyber training program has been in place since 2018, with the aim of training military personnel for dealing with a variety of scenarios.
“The biggest challenge is relevance – to make sure the scenarios we present are similar to real operational issues in the digital sphere – that they [military personnel] have the relevant tools to counter feasible scenarios,” he said.
The Israel Defense Forces is considered one of the most cyber-advanced militaries in the world – a prestigious position that sees many foreign forces seek its advice and training.
During 2019, the IDF hosted delegations from eight countries for cyber training, and at least eight delegations are expected to do the same in 2020.
Two judokas originally from Iran and Syria will be in Israel next week to compete in the Tel Aviv Grand Prix 2020 and be honored in a special ceremony recognizing refugee athletes.
As well as being the biggest-ever Grand Prix, with more than 600 judokas from 88 countries, including 20 Israelis, taking part, it will also serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This will mark the second time the Israeli Judo Association has hosted the tournament, which takes place a few times a year in different countries. After the success of last year’s event in Israel, which saw more than 400 athletes from around 60 countries, the International Judo Federation decided to bring the competition to Tel Aviv once again to kick off 2020.
Iranian refugee Mohammad Rashnonezhad, 23, fled to the Netherlands in 2017, and since then has competed as a part of the International Judo Federation’s Refugee Team in the under 60 kilogram men’s category. When Rashnonezhad announced in November he would be at the Tel Aviv competition, he posted on social media that his attendance proved “sports and politics are separate.”
Israeli Judo Association spokesman Gil Levanoni agreed with that sentiment, recalling times when Israelis and Iranians could compete against each other in sports. “Before the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Israel and Iran had a great relationship,” he said. “Israel’s football team even played in Tehran in the 70s.”
As a baseball-crazed kid growing up in the United States, Danny Valencia dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues. The thought of heading to the Olympics, for a foreign country no less, never crossed his mind.
But after nine years and nearly 100 homers in the big US leagues, that’s the next surreal step for the 35-year-old Valencia, who recently became an Israeli citizen thanks to his Jewishness and is now the star player in Team Israel’s improbable run to the Tokyo Games. Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016 and Israel is one of six teams vying for the three medals.
“It’s pretty cool to be playing in the Olympics,” the Miami native told The Associated Press at a team event in Tel Aviv. “For it to come about the way it did, especially for my mother who is a practicing Jew and very pro-Israel, it just meant a lot to her. So, to do this, especially at the end of my career, it is like the icing on the cake.”
It’s even more of a dream fulfilled for the small baseball community in Israel, comprising mostly American immigrants, which has languished for decades in the country’s sporting wilderness. Israel has zero tradition of the American pastime, which is largely derided by the public as an arcane and boring sport. In Israel, soccer and basketball reign supreme while baseball, long popular among American Jews, has failed to catch on with the rough-and-tumble native-born Israelis who have taken slightly more of a liking to the strategy and hard hitting of American football.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.