June 25, 2019

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02/03 Links: EU Report Calls Jewish Development of Jerusalem Historical Sites ‘Touristic Settlement’; The truth about Israeli couscous


From Ian:

The IRS Campaign Against Israel—and Us
While claiming to be investigating Z Street’s funding of terror, the IRS never asked how or where Z Street spent its money. The IRS ultimately granted Z Street’s application, in October 2016, without asking anything about terror, or money, or anything else it hadn’t known in 2010.

As the IRS knew within six weeks of our case being filed, Z Street was sent for special scrutiny by an IRS employee using an outdated list of countries affected by terror. The new list didn’t include Israel. The IRS didn’t resume processing our application after it discovered this error, and it didn’t disclose the error for six years. Because we sued, the IRS froze Z Street’s application. It stayed on ice until August 2016, when a court held the IRS couldn’t get our case thrown out until it processed our application. Two months later we got our exemption.

The “terror” error turns out to have been a pretext. Within weeks of President Obama’s inauguration, IRS and State Department officials began considering whether they could deny or revoke tax-exempt status for organizations that provided material support to Jews living across the Green Line—the nonborder that delineates pre-1967 Israel from the territories Israel acquired in the Six Day War. The theory was that a Jewish presence in those areas is inconsistent with U.S. policy. The IRS drew up lists of such organizations based on information from anti-Israel websites such as Electronic Intifada and MondoWeiss.

The New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles that advanced the policy espoused by the Obama administration and its nonprofit ally, J Street. Unnamed “senior State Department officials” were quoted as saying that Jewish activity over the Green Line isn’t “helpful” to peace efforts. (h/t Esther)

EU Report Calls Jewish Development of Jerusalem Historical Sites ‘Touristic Settlement’

A European Union report leaked to The Guardian newspaper expressed ire over Israeli tourism in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, calling the ongoing development of Jewish infrastructure a form of “touristic settlement.”

The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem issued a report warning that the development of Jewish tourism in the ancient City of David, currently located within a heavily populated Palestinian neighborhood, and a planned cable car that would transport tourists from the Western sections of the city to the Western Wall plaza within the Old City, were “a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimize, and expand settlements.” The report asserts that the projects promote the “historic continuity of the Jewish presence in the area at the expense of other religions and cultures.”

The cable car, which EU diplomats have dubbed “highly controversial,” is anticipated to be operational by 2020, and is being erected to ease traffic on the narrow streets surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, and drastically reducing travel time. An estimated 25,000 people are expected to utilize the system per day.

Additionally, the report states that, “critics have described the project as turning the World Heritage site of Jerusalem into a commercial theme park while local Palestinian residents are absent from the narrative being promoted to the visitors.” The further suggested that the cable car project would pose a security threat, as one of the cable car stations would be a little over 420 feet from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site administered by the Jordanian Wakf.

Over 30 registered World Heritage sites around the world are accessible via cable car systems.

Why They Didn’t Stand for Jerusalem

Nor can liberals claim that opposition to the recognition of Jerusalem merely puts them on the same page as opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Backing for Trump on this point was a consensus issue in Israel for every party with the exception of the very far left and the anti-Zionist Arab factions. With both Labor and the centrist Yesh Atid backing the president’s gesture, it’s hard for Democrats to say they’re simply being liberal Zionists by refusing to acknowledge that Trump did the right thing on Jerusalem.

In that context, it ought to be possible for Democrats to cheer a move that they would have supported had it come from a president from their own party. But in the bifurcated America of 2018, there is no such thing as a bipartisan issue anymore. Though Trump’s relentless trolling of his opponents on Twitter has exacerbated this trend, Democratic opposition to the president is so deep and bitter that they feel that endorsing anything he does legitimizes his presidency. Since their base is hoping a Democratic win in the November midterms will lead to impeachment, Jerusalem is just one more issue on which they will never give Trump credit, even if many of them don’t disagree with him.

There are reasons why Democrats are drifting away from Israel that have nothing to do with Trump. But the more their leaders send signals that treat pro-Israel gestures as being unacceptable if they mean applauding Trump, the worse it will get.

It was a disconcerting sight when Democrats all sat while Republicans stood to applaud the mention of Jerusalem as well as Trump’s vow to cut off aid to those — like the Palestinians — who oppose US policy. But friends of Israel shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from it. So long as Trump is president, their opposition to his reversal of Obama’s daylight policy is rooted in partisanship and not necessarily animus toward Israel. It will be up to Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who was one of the few who did stand for Jerusalem — to help their party separate its emotions about Trump from Israel. But so long as Trump is sticking close to Israel, this won’t be the last time that Democrats send the country a message that this is not an issue on which they are prepared to set aside partisan feuds.

German FM: The Holocaust was carried out by us ‘and nobody else’

Germany’s foreign minister said Saturday that Germany and only Germany was responsible for the Holocaust as it sought to reassure Poland that Berlin would condemn distortions of history such as descriptions of Nazi camps in occupied Poland as “Polish concentration camps.”

A proposed new law in Poland would outlaw publicly and falsely attributing Nazi Germany’s crimes in World War II to the Polish nation. The US has joined Israel in criticizing it, saying it would impact free expression.

“This organized mass murder was carried out by our country and no one else. Individual collaborators change nothing about that,” said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

“We are convinced that only carefully appraising our own history can bring reconciliation. That includes people who had to experience the intolerable suffering of the Holocaust being able to speak unrestrictedly about this suffering,” said Gabriel.

Earlier Saturday, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck admitted the legislation could have been timed and presented better, but he insisted that the law is needed to protect the truth of Poland’s wartime history.

Israeli Knesset Members Author Counter-Bill Criminalizing Polish Holocaust Denial

In a direct response to a bill passed by Polish legislators criminalizing terms that link Poland to any involvement of the heinous crimes in the Holocaust, 61 members of Israel’s Knesset cosponsored new legislation whereby exonerating Polish involvement in crimes against humanity during World War II will be considered a form of illegal Holocaust denial.

Israel’s Law for Defense Against Holocaust Denial already criminalizes denial or minimization of crimes against the Jewish people in the Holocaust, and is punishable with up to five years in jail.

The bill was cosponsored by parliamentarians from parties across Israel’s broad political spectrum, with participating Knesset members from the Likud, HaBayit HaYehudi, Zionist Union, Yisrael Beitenu and Yesh Atid parties.

Included in the bill is an amendment that would provide legal aid to any Holocaust survivor or educator who is charged with breaking any foreign law for recounting facts or personal accounts from World War II, including any information that proves Polish complicity.

The Polish Senate passed a bill Wednesday making use of the phrase “Polish death camps” or any language suggesting Poland had any responsibility for crimes against the Jewish people during the Holocaust illegal, carrying a maximum 3-year prison sentence.

Ukraine chief rabbi calls for canceling Poland trips over Holocaust bill

A chief rabbi of Ukraine called on the Israeli government to suspend school trips to Poland and have them in his country because of Warsaw’s new bill on Nazi crimes.

Rabbi Moshe Azman made the suggestion in a letter he sent to Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday, a day after the Polish Senate passed a measure that proposes to outlaw rhetoric in which Poland is blamed for Nazi crimes.

The State of Israel and many Jewish organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Yad Vashem and the European Jewish Congress, say the legislation risks blurring historical truth, as many Poles participated as individuals or as members of some resistance militias in murdering Jews or betraying them to the Nazi occupation forces. They also acknowledge that Polish authorities were not part of the Nazi campaign of annihilation against the Jews during the Holocaust.

Following the bill in Poland to “forbid telling the truth on what happened during the Holocaust in Poland,” Azman wrote, “I urge you to cancel the March of the Living for Israeli school students.” The march brings individuals from around the world to Poland and Israel to study the history of the Holocaust.

Israeli embassy in Poland protests ‘wave’ of anti-Semitic messages

Israel’s embassy in Warsaw on Friday denounced what it said was a “wave of anti-Semitic statements” sweeping across Poland, many of them directed at the Israeli ambassador, in the midst of a diplomatic row over Polish complicity in Holocaust atrocities and the freedom to debate the issue.

On Wednesday night, the Polish Senate voted in favor of a controversial law which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish or accuses the Polish nation or state of complicity in the Third Reich’s crimes.

“In the last few days we could not help but notice a wave of anti-Semitic statements, reaching the Embassy through all channels of communication. Many of them targeted Ambassador Anna Azari personally,” the embassy said in a statement on its website.

“We have restrained ourselves from reaction, but we feel we should no more. Anti-Semitic statements are overflowing the internet channels in Poland, but they have become present on the mainstream media too, especially on (public broadcaster station) TVP Info.

All Eyes on Polish President Duda, as He Decides Whether to Sign Widely-Censured ‘Holocaust Bill’ Into Law

Polish President Andrzej Duda is facing the most controversial decision of his political career, after his country’s Senate passed this week the widely-censured “Holocaust Law” that criminalizes any discussion of Polish complicity with the Nazi Holocaust.

Duda is now at the beginning of a 21-day period in which he has to choose whether to sign the bill, veto it, or refer it to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal.

One of Duda’s advisers, Prof. Andrzej Zybertowicz, told Polish station Radio Plus on Friday that the law was discussed at a meeting with the president on Thursday. While Duda was an early advocate of the law — telling an audience in Jerusalem during an official visit in January 2017, “We did not make the Holocaust. We were conquered by the Germans. We had no free choice” — his adviser implied that the Polish leader did not regard the historical record as the only issue to consider.

Duda understood that his decision had to ensure that “the interests of Poland, our security and our international status are balanced,” Prof. Zybertowicz said.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz admitted on Friday that relations with Israel had been strained as a result of the dispute over the legislation. But, he underlined, “charging the Polish state with the responsibility for the Holocaust is an activity that must be stopped.”

French prosecutors charge Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan with rape

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan was charged with rape on Friday, a judicial source said, following claims by two women that he assaulted them in French hotel rooms in 2009 and 2012.

Ramadan, who was arrested by French police on January 28, has now been charged with connected charges of rape and rape of a vulnerable person, a judicial source said.

The accused, a Swiss citizen and the grandson of the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement, has furiously denied rape allegations from two women, which emerged late last year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfurled in the US.

In November, Oxford University announced that 55-year-old Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.

‘He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die’

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist, says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012, while an unnamed disabled woman also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in Lyon in 2009.

Popular among conservative Muslims and a regular panellist on TV debates in France, Ramadan faces regular accusations from secular critics that he promotes a political form of Islam.

Trump said to mull unveiling peace plan even if Abbas maintains boycott

The Trump administration may publicly unveil its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal even if the Palestinian Authority maintains its refusal to resume talks brokered by the US, an Israeli TV report said Thursday.

The Channel 10 news report quoted senior officials in the US administration as saying that “all the relevant countries that support a peace agreement are still waiting for our plan. They want to work with us and they understand that there is no substitute for the United States as mediator.”

The report, which said a final decision had yet to be made by the administration on when or whether to present its proposal, came after Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s top Middle East peace negotiator, said in two speeches this week that efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace were still underway and urged the Palestinians to return to the table.

The unnamed US officials said one reason for publicizing the plan would be so that the international community would see its provisions.

Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, last week, that the US has “a proposal for peace. It’s a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it’s a very good proposal for Israel.”

He added, “I hope the Palestinians want to make peace. And if they do, everybody’s going to be very happy in the end.”

Palestinians Fume as Reported US Peace Plan Seeks to Reduce PA Presence in Jerusalem

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent tirade against U.S. President Donald Trump was prompted by a stipulation in Washington’s peace plan that seeks to reduce the role the PA plays in Jerusalem, Israel Hayom learned on Wednesday.

Relations between Washington and Ramallah have sunk to a new low following Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On Jan. 14, in a fiery, two-hour speech before supporters in Ramallah, Abbas railed against Trump, castigating him for his treatment of the Palestinians and warning that the Palestinian leadership will have no problem rejecting an unacceptable peace plan.

The Palestinian leader’s wrath was reportedly evoked by an American proposal to set Abu Dis as the capital of a future Palestinian state, instead of east Jerusalem, as the PA demand.

Due to its proximity to the Old City, following the 1993 Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority established a series of government institutions in Abu Dis, including a Palestinian parliament building. However, the Palestinians have refused to shutter government institutions elsewhere in Jerusalem, such as Orient House near Damascus Gate.

“It is unfortunate that the Palestinian leadership is seeking to prejudice people against our unfinished plan, which they have not seen. We do not know what they claim to have seen,” a White House official told Israel Hayom.

“We will present proposals directly to the Israelis and the Palestinians at the appropriate time and under the right conditions. In the meantime, we will remain hard at work on a draft plan that benefits both sides while some prejudge and undermine efforts to achieving lasting peace,” he said.

Palestinians deny rejecting peace talks over US Jerusalem move

The Palestinian Authority on Friday dismissed US claims that President Mahmoud Abbas was refusing to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

On Thursday, Channel 10 quoted senior US officials as saying that the White House was considering presenting US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan even if the crisis with the PA continues and Abbas refuses to come to the negotiating table.

Relations between the US administration and the PA have been strained since Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Abbas and senior PA officials have since stated that the US was no longer qualified to play any role in a Middle East peace process because of its “bias” in favor of Israel, and the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration.

The Palestinians’ strong and swift reaction to Thursday’s report is seen as yet another sign of mounting tensions between the PA leadership and the Trump administration.

Trump taking tougher stance on Russia nuclear threat

The Trump administration on Friday announced it will continue much of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, but take a more aggressive stance toward Russia. It said Russia must be convinced it would face “unacceptably dire costs” if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe.

The sweeping review of US nuclear policy does not call for any net increase in strategic nuclear weapons — a position that stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s statement, in a tweet shortly before he took office, that the US “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” In his State of the Union address Tuesday, he made no mention of expansion, though he said the arsenal must deter acts of aggression.

A 74-page report summarizing the review’s findings calls North Korea a “clear and grave threat” to the US and its allies. It asserts that any North Korean nuclear attack against the US or its allies will result in “the end of that regime.”

It also cast China as a potential nuclear adversary, saying the US arsenal is tailored to “prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding” that it could gain advantage by using its nuclear weapons in Asia, or that “any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.”

US Sanctions Six People, Seven Firms Under Rules Targeting Hezbollah

The Trump administration attacked Hezbollah’s financial network on Friday by imposing sanctions on six people and seven entities in an effort to turn back Iran’s influence in the Middle East and beyond.

“The administration is determined to expose and disrupt Hezbollah’s networks, including those across the Middle East and West Africa, used to fund their illicit operations,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the penalties under financial regulations targeting the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group.

The six sanctioned individuals included five Lebanese and one Iraqi, most of them linked to Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting, the Treasury Department said. The seven entities were firms based in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Lebanon and Ghana, the statement said.

Senior Trump administration officials said the sanctions were part of an aggressive move against Hezbollah to try to limit the influence of Iran, which gives the group about $700 million a year to help finance its activities.

The officials, briefing reporters at the White House on condition of anonymity, said the Trump administration was working to reverse what it considers a more lackadaisical approach toward Hezbollah by Democratic President Barack Obama after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal went into effect.

More such targeted sanctions are expected in the months ahead, they said.

The officials said Hezbollah was already under financial strain as it continued to pay for costly operations in Syria and Yemen. The goal was to get European allies to join the United States in increasing pressure on the group, they said.

Israel carrying out secret airstrike campaign in Sinai to help Egypt — report

Israeli drones, fighter jets, and helicopter gunships have carried out more than 100 airstrikes against Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in the Sinai, in a bid to help Egypt deal with the jihadist insurgency in the peninsula, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Israel, alarmed at the threat across the border, agreed to take action with the blessing of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as Egypt struggled to deal with the violent uprising that has killed hundreds of Egyptian security forces and civilians, the report said. “Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe,” said the paper.

While security coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo is known to be close, the ties are still unpopular in Egypt, despite nearly three decades of peace. In order to keep the cooperation quiet, the Israeli aircraft are often unmarked and sometimes use indirect routes in a bid to cover up the origin of the strikes, the report said.

The report said Sissi had kept the Israeli strikes secret, only letting a small group of military and intelligence officials in on the cooperation, and has kept northern Sinai a closed military area, barring reporters from the region.

Troops said besieging homes in W. Bank village in hunt for Havat Gilad terrorist

Israeli security forces surrounded two houses in the West Bank village of Burqin on Saturday as they continued the hunt for the terrorist suspected of the killing of an Israeli rabbi last month, Palestinian media reported.

Footage shared widely on Palestinian social media showed a convoy of IDF bulldozers and other demolition vehicles driving into the village west of Jenin.

In a Saturday evening statement, the IDF acknowledged the raid was part of the hunt for the killers of Rabbi Raziel Shevach but gave no detials beyond saying that security forces had apprehended several suspects during raids over the weekend.

“The investigation of the attack and operational activities in the village of Burqin, West of Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp, are ongoing,” the statement concluded.

Palestinian media outlets reported that Israeli forces were threatening to demolish the homes if the owners did not turn over Ahmad Nassar Jarrar — the suspected leader of the terror cell that shot and killed 35-year-old father of six Rabbi Raziel Shevach on January 9, as he drove on a highway near his home in the Havat Gilad outpost.

Yachad perpetuates another blood libel against Israel

Even ignoring the choice of guest speaker at an annual gala for an organisation that still laughingly claims it is ‘pro-Israel’ this is really appalling….

Israeli attacked, has car torched after entering Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem

An Israeli who strayed into a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem Friday was attacked and his car was torched by angry residents.

Palestinian security forces in Abu Dis protected the lightly wounded man and handed him over to Israeli authorities. He was taken to a Jerusalem hospital.

Several Palestinians were reportedly injured in the riots during confrontations with Israeli forces who arrived at the scene.

The military said around 200 rioters “hurled rocks, burned the civilian’s vehicle and blocked his exit from the town. IDF and Border Police forces entered the town in coordination with (Palestinians) and extracted the civilian.”

It was not immediately clear whether the man had entered Abu Dis on purpose or by accident.

Inside a Gaza terror tunnel

They work around the clock, day and night, in three shifts, except Friday, the Muslim holy day. In each shift, there are dozens of diggers who move 10 to 20 meters a day. They dig with small drills, shovels and their bare hands. They work underground at 30 or even 40 meters below the surface and are supplied with electricity, water, air and oxygen tanks to avoid suffocation. Visiting one of the tunnels reveals a planned structure, supported by cement panels and cement bows. No doubt, the diggers are brave and risk their lives.

The tunnel I visited is nearly 2 kilometers long and was built by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a smaller group than Hamas, which has been ruling Gaza with an iron fist since it came to power in a military coup, toppling the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Navigating underground in the right direction is not an easy task. And the right direction is Israel.

Digging tunnels has been one of the specialties of Hamas in Gaza. The tunnels have served two purposes. One is to smuggle goods and weapons from Sinai, with the help of the local branch of ISIS, to Gaza. The second aim is to use the tunnels to infiltrate into Israel.

Together with rockets, the tunnels have served as the most important strategic measures against Israel. During the last war (“Operation Protective Edge”) in the summer of 2014, Hamas managed to surprise the IDF by penetrating Israel via the tunnels twice and causing both casualties and damage. By the end of the war, which lasted nearly two months, the IDF had exposed and destroyed 31 tunnels.

Rahmaan Mohammadi: Golden Boy of NUS

One famous example used to demonstrate this point has been the story of Rahmaan Mohammadi?—?a young Muslim who (he says) was referred to Prevent for his support for Palestine. Indeed it has been widely reported that he was referred to Prevent by his college off the basis of a pro Palestine badge he was wearing.

He has become the anti Prevent poster-boy. He was taken across the country speaking at Stop The War Coalition events, NUS ‘Students Not Suspects’ events alongside Moazzam Begg and Malia ‘Zionist outpost’ Bouattia.

His story has been covered by the Guardian, BBC, Times, Sky News, Vice, Buzzfeed, and many others. This has all put Rahmaan in good stead and is now even a contributor to Putin’s mouthpiece?—?Russia Today. It is clear that Rahmaan’s story shot him to stardom within the anti-prevent lobby and as a result Rahmaan even managed to bag himself a position on the NUS’s National Executive Council.

His college disputed the widely-reported reasons for Rahmaan’s Prevent referral in an article published in the local paper but no one paid any attention to that;

A look at his posts from the time indicate his referral to Prevent was entirely legitimate. These are some of the views he was posting around the time of his Prevent referral and after.

1. Rahmaan’s profile picture in May 2014 was of Hezbollah fighters. Hezbollah’s military wing is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK, European Union and many other countries.
2. The British army are “terrorists” according to Rahmaan.
3. Rahmaan takes issue with “The Jewish Zuckerberg” and thinks British and American intelligence services should “go kill themselves”:
4. Rahmaan is happy that the Islamic State were “finally” targeting Israel:
5. It’s not just Jews he takes issue with:
6. Support for the butcher of Syria?—?Bashar Al Assad:

With a record like this there’s every chance Rahmaan will go on to be NUS President in a couple of years.

Israel urges German bank to stop enabling ‘antisemitic BDS movement’

Minister Gilad Erdan demanded that a German bank close an account that enables an anti-Zionist organization to raise funds to boycott the Jewish state and spread antisemitism.

“As minister of strategic affairs, I am leading an international campaign to defend Israel from the BDS movement’s hateful attacks against Israel’s right to exist. This stance against BDS has been adopted by our close friends in Germany, including the CDU [Christian Democratic Union] and municipalities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. I call on the Bank for Social Economy to join the many German institutions, leaders and citizens who are uniting to reject the discriminatory and antisemitic boycott movement against Israel,” Erdan told The Jerusalem Post last Sunday.

The Bank for Social Economy (Bank für Sozialwirtschaft) operates an account for the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East. In response to Jerusalem’s January ban on entry to Israel of representatives of 20 organizations that advocate a boycott of the Jewish state, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East wrote in an open letter to Erdan: “Among the list of banned organizations is our sister organization Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, with whom we share many values and political goals, and for whom we have the highest regard.”

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace hosted the convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its spring 2017 conference in Chicago. The head of the NGO said at the time that JVP was “honored to hear from her.”

Odeh, a former member of the US- and EU-classified terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was responsible for a 1969 bombing that murdered two students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe, in a Jerusalem supermarket. She pleaded guilty in 2017 to US naturalization fraud and was deported in September to Jordan because she had lied about her terrorism conviction when she entered the US.

New York Times, and the Continuous Mischaracterization of BDS

So maybe the image above is a bit of an overstatement. But for some reason, the New York Times can’t seem to get it right when explaining BDS activism to readers.

BDS stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, and the self-styled “BDS Movement” we tend to hear about today focuses squarely on Israel, aiming to batter the Jewish state with those tools until it ceases to exist.

But in an article yesterday, the Times referred to a “movement in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel primarily in protest against its settlement and security practices in the West Bank. The movement is known as B.D.S.”

But these are hardly the “primary” motivations of BDS advocacy. The BDS Movement’s own website lists three central demands, which include an Israeli withdrawal, not only from the West Bank but also from the Golan Heights, along with the Jewish Quarter and other parts of Jerusalem. It calls for the “dismantling” of Israel’s security barrier, which was built to prevent suicide bombers from reaching Israeli towns and which for much of its rout lies in Israel and not the West Bank. It insists on a change to Israel’s alleged treatment of Arabs living withing Israel. And it calls for an influx of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel, which is widely understood as a way to demographically eliminate the Jewish state.

Despite what the Times told its readers, not one of the three demands refers to settlements, and each of them focus focus on more than the West Bank, and on more than “settlement and security practices.”

The takeaway is clear. The AMCHA Initiative, a group that combats antisemitism on campus, states that BDS “aims to demonize, delegitimize, and destroy the Jewish nature of Israel, with the result of denying to Jews their right of national self-determination.”

Book Review in ‘The Washington Post’ Exemplifies Anti-Israel Media Bias

In The Washington Post’s recent article titled “Israel’s official assassination machine,” Glenn Frankel reviews the book, Rise And Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations, by Ronen Bergman.

The thesis of the book (and the review) is that, “Since World War II … the Jewish state and its pre-state paramilitary organizations have assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world — some 2,300 ‘targeted killing operations.’”

Israel is repeatedly subjected to war and terrorism, probably more-so than any other country in the Western world. Would it be preferable to Messrs. Bergman and Frankel for Israel to respond the way that other countries have done during similar conflicts — by leveling cities with carpet bombings, or strafing villages with napalm? Or how about dropping bombs laden with poison gas — as Syrian leader Bashar Assad did to his own people, with more than 500,000 total dead as of this writing?

Or what about copying Saddam Hussein’s aggression in 1988, when his army dropped bombs with poisonous gas, killing 20,000 Kurds? King Hussein of Jordan killed several thousand Palestinians from late 1970-71, during an uprising known as Black September. There was a genocide in Rwanda, where upwards of a million people were murdered in 1994. And in Darfur, the UN estimates that 300,000 were murdered. Are these kinds of policies preferable?

But according to The Washington Post, Israel — or as the Post‘s book review referred to it, the “Jewish State” — is the “assassination machine.” Doesn’t the Post see how targeting individual terrorists is more humane than wiping out entire towns or cities?

New French film raises ghosts of Nazi medical horrors

A new documentary about the scale of Nazi medical experiments has reopened old wounds in France as one of the country’s leading universities investigates whether its stores still contain the remains of some Jewish victims.

Dr. Michel Cymes, the star of a French television medical advice program, believes that the remains of some of the 86 Jews tortured and mutilated by SS doctor August Hirt may still be in the anatomy collection of the University of Strasbourg.

He first raised the theory in his 2015 bestseller, “Hippocrates in Hell”, and repeated the claim in a new film of the same name shown on French TV this week.

The documentary, which trended on Twitter after it was broadcast, raised awkward questions about how part of the “Jewish skeleton collection” Hirt assembled at the university during the war may have survived in its stores.

The remains of Jews on which Hirt tested mustard gas at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp near the Alastian city were supposed to have been buried after it was liberated in 1944.

But after Cymes’s claims, the university is now conducting an inquiry using outside experts into the contents of 20 boxes found in its collection which bear Hirt’s name.

No Public Money for Neo-Nazis, German Upper House Says

Germany’s senate on Friday asked the constitutional court to ban state funding for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), the country’s longest-established neo-Nazi group, responding to concerns at growing nationalism in parts of the country.

Scarred by memories of the collapse of democracy in the 1930s amid the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, Germany has some of the strictest laws on political extremism in the world, with rules allowing the banning of anti-democratic parties.

Members of the upper house, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states, voted unanimously in favor of an application to the constitutional court to stop the financing.

“Ours is a democracy based on debate, but it must also be defended,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the state of Saarland, told the chamber.

Friday’s vote came four months after a national election in which the Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the first far-right party to enter parliament in decades.

Parties that win election to public office in Germany become eligible for generous public financing, designed to fund party organizations and think tanks to raise the quality of policy and public debate.

The NPD’s lone member of the European Parliament made the party eligible for around a million euros of public funding in 2016. The party, which sees immigration as a danger to the “survival of the German people in its Central European Lebensraum,” is no longer in any regional parliament.

Games Developer Playtika to Invest Up to $400 million in Israeli Tech

Mobile games developer Playtika Ltd said on Monday it was setting up a new business, which plans to invest up to $400 million in Israeli digital entertainment and consumer internet firms as well as games companies globally.

Playtika Growth Investments will target companies that are already profitable or near break-even and have proven business models and products, the company said, noting that portfolio companies will have access to Playtika’s marketing, analytics, technology and product teams.

Playtika, which has spent over $300 million buying more than 10 companies since it was founded in 2010, was acquired in 2016 by a Chinese private equity consortium led by Giant Network Group for $4.4 billion.

The Israel-based maker of casino-style games, such as Slotomania, for social networks has annual revenue of more than $1.1 billion and employs over 1,700 people in 10 countries. It has 20 million monthly active users.

Eric Rapps, managing director of Playtika Growth, told Reuters that a “very significant majority” of the $400 million will be invested in Israel.

Israeli Trauma Experts Helping Houston Deal with Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston last August, the trauma didn’t even spare those whose job is to help others cope. One social worker, barricaded on the second floor of her house, watched in horror as water and mud flooded her first floor. Another was stuck in a closet with her dog for 24 hours.

Many mental-health professionals felt helpless or guilty for their inability to respond to people in need as they usually would. And other professionals, such as educators, did not feel adequately prepared to tend psychological wounds among those they work with.

Israel, as always, was quick to send various forms of immediate support to Houston. But the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) knew from experience in Israel and many other countries that a long process of healing was only beginning. The organization reached out to Houston’s Jewish Family Services in September.

“They said they’d like to do their ‘train the trainer’ model in their method of helping people deal with trauma,” says JFS Houston Special Projects Coordinator Gittel Francis.

With funding from the UJA Federation of New York, three ITC personnel flew over to meet with representatives of about 15 social-services agencies in Houston. They explained that their training model involves nine full days spread over a six-month or year-long period. But the time was not yet right.

“At that point we were still in the throes of disaster. Schools were just opening up again and people, including at our agency, were just getting back to normal life,” says Francis.

The truth about Israeli couscous

A story of starch, political will, and mistaken identity.

With apologies to Linda Richman, the big-haired, Yiddish-spouting yenta that Mike Myers brought to life on Saturday Night Live, Israeli couscous is neither Israeli nor couscous: Discuss. True, the chewy, spherical starch has an Israeli pedigree and is widely served there today, particularly to children. But “at the end of the day, it is not actually couscous,” says Leetal Arazi. “It’s pasta.” As a co-owner of New York Shuk, a Brooklyn-based company that made its name teaching novices how to hand-roll authentic semolina couscous at home, she should know.

Furthermore, no Israeli home cook has ever called the dish—which is typically served dressed with heaps of fried onion or a basic tomato sauce—Israeli couscous. That name, just like French toast or Italian dressing, is a figment of the American culinary imagination. (More on that in a moment.)

In Israel, the dish is called ptitim, which translates roughly from Hebrew to “little crumbles.” It was created by the Osem food company in the early 1950s at the behest of then prime minister David Ben-Gurion. At the time, the modern state of Israel was essentially in a startup phase, and resources were scarce: As Gil Marks writes in The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, “the government imposed a period of national belt-tightening and rationing known as tzena (austerity).”

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