June 25, 2019

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02/07 Links Pt2: NYT’s Accuses Jewish Billionaires of Dragging US Into War With Iran; Col Kemp: Those that deny Israel’s right to exist are modern-day Nazis


From Ian:

New York Times Accuses Jewish Billionaires of Dragging US Into War With Iran
The New York Times op-ed page carries an article by Lawrence Wilkerson headlined “A Familiar Road to War.” It warns, with zero factual basis, that the Trump administration is about to invade Iran the same way the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq.

It’s a mystery what the Times is doing running a piece from this guy in the first place. As has been noted by both Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and Dexter Van Zile of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Wilkerson went on television to speculate, groundlessly, that a poison gas attack on Syrian civilians “could have been an Israeli false flag operation.” (Thanks to online watchdog Mark Jacobs for tipping me off to this on Twitter.)

Second, once the Times piece went up online, it became clear pretty rapidly that there were some accuracy problems.

The website Newsdiffs tracks the changes — at least four different versions of the article. The piece originally said, “Today, the analysts claiming close ties between Al Qaeda and Iran come from the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, which vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear deal and unabashedly calls for regime change in Iran, while taking money from hawks like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer, who have made clear what their goals are with Iran.” About six hours after publishing the original piece, the Times stealth-edited it by correcting the name of the research and advocacy group to “the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” If the Times is going, falsely, to accuse a think tank of dragging America into war with Iran on false pretenses, the least you can ask is that the Times would spell the organization’s name correctly. Alas, the Times couldn’t even initially manage that bare-bones level of accuracy.

Then, nearly ten hours after the original piece was published online, the Times deleted entirely the references to Messrs. Singer and Adelson, and appended a correction:
Correction: February 5, 2018
An earlier version of this article included outdated information about the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Sheldon Adelson is no longer a donor to the organization.

2013: Wilkerson’s Shame. And Colin Powell’s

On May 2, Lawrence Wilkerson, a close confidant of Colin Powell who served as chief-of-staff during Powell’s tenure as secretary of state, raised eyebrows when he told Current TV that reports of Syrian chemical weapons use might have been Israeli “false flag operations.” His pronouncement—which was part speculation and part sourced to his friends in the intelligence community—was quickly picked up and rebroadcast as fact by such outlets as Iran’s Press TV and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) points out, this is hardly the first time Wilkerson has made bizarre accusations, but CAMERA does not go far enough. Wilkerson acted as a definitive source for any number of stories throughout the Bush administration until now. As Powell’s chief-of-staff, journalists accepted his pabulum uncritically, never asking whether Wilkerson was at meetings for which he purported to offer first-hand accounts. The fact is that chiefs-of-staff do not go to meetings; they manage offices. Many of those whom Wilkerson pretends to have had conversations with say they never met him.

Nevertheless, Wilkerson remains central to some of the most pernicious—and false—rumors and conspiracies surrounding George W. Bush’s tenure:

Colonel Kemp: Those that deny Israel’s right to exist are modern-day Nazis

“The documentary film ‘Whose Land?’ is not intended to justify the right to exist of the state of Israel. I find such an argument abhorrent. Questioning Israel’s right to exist is pure antisemitism. Such fundamental prejudice should not be dignified by response or contrary argument. How often is the right of Great Britain to exist called into question? Or the United States, Germany, France, China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, any other country. How often is the right to exist of any country other than Israel questioned, argued over, debated, discussed? To do so is exceptional. Exception applied only to the Jewish State. It therefore amounts to antisemitism pure and simple.

In Nazi Germany, the right of Jews to own businesses to own property, to join the professions to go to school to receive medical treatment to live a normal life in the community. All of these were denied them.

Today, Israel’s enemies demand that the Jewish state be isolated, ostracised, banished from the community of nations. These people are the Nazis of the 21st century. Their arguments must not be dignified with a response. These modern-day Nazis are responsible for the greatest slur campaign in the history of humanity spreading false narratives, falsifying and distorting history, lying, deriding, rejecting and despising without cause and for one purpose to abolish the nation state of the Jewish people, Israel.

‘Whose Land?’ does not set out to justify the right of Israel to exist. Instead, it simply tells the truth – a truth that is clear, undeniable and unequivocal. The truth, that for the sake of human civilization and decency, must be heard above the growing cacophony of those who clamour to turn the world against the Jewish state and whose false propaganda not only maligns the innocent and brain washes the unwary but also incites violence and inflames hatred.

Palestinian Settler-Colonialism

The concept of “settler colonialism” has been applied with almost unique vehemence against Israel. But the fact that Jews are the indigenous population of the Southern Levant can be proved with ease. In contrast, historical and genealogical evidence shows Palestinians descend primarily from three primary groups: Muslim invaders, Arab immigrants, and local converts to Islam. The Muslim conquest of Byzantine Palestine in the 7th century CE is a textbook example of settler-colonialism, as is subsequent immigration, particularly during the 19th and 20th centuries under the Ottoman and British Empires. The application of the concept to Jews and Zionism by Palestinians is both ironic and unhelpful.

One of the mainstays of the modern university is the idea of settler-colonialism. This argues that certain societies are birthed by settlers implanted in a foreign territory, either directly by or with the consent of an imperial power. These colonists then dominate and eradicate the indigenous population. They develop bellicose cultures that eliminate the natives from historical, literary, and other narratives. Primary examples often cited are the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and Rhodesia, and Israel.

The settler-colonial argument against Israel posits that Zionism was an imperial tool of Britain (or, alternatively, that Zionism manipulated the British Empire); that Jews represent an alien population implanted into Palestine to usurp the land and displace the people; and that Israel has subjected Palestinians to “genocide,” real, figurative, and cultural.

According to this argument, Israel’s “settler colonialism” is a “structure, not an event,” and is accompanied by a “legacy of foundational violence” that extends back to the First Zionist Congress in 1897 or even before. With Zionism thus imbued with two forms of ineradicable original sin, violent opposition to Israel is legitimized and any forms of compromise, even negotiation, are “misguided and disingenuous because ‘dialogue’ does not tackle the asymmetrical status quo.”

But Middle Eastern history is not amenable to these formulations. Among the many concepts abused and perverted by the Palestinians, accusations of Israeli “genocide” rank the highest for blatant audacity, and for twinned calumny and odiousness. The settler-colonial idea deserves attention for three reasons: its comparatively recent adoption by Palestinians and their advocates; its broader currency in the academy; and its obvious and ironic falsity. (h/t Zvi)

John Mann MP: I’m not Jewish but whatever I talk about I receive antisemitic abuse

I made my Question Time debut last week as a Labour MP. I was asked about Theresa May, about Brexit, about allegations of rape and how to deal with them and about statues of Margaret Thatcher. I talked about my work as a constituency MP, and as the longest-serving member of the Treasury Select Committee. I discussed my work against child sexual exploitation and abuse and spoke about the economy and immigration. And yet, when I looked at my phone, I found I had received anti-Jewish abuse and an antisemitic death threat on social media. I am not Jewish, I didn’t talk about Jews and I didn’t discuss the Middle East.

This isn’t the first time. I can speak out about knife crime and drugs and the tweets come in – “who is paying you to do your work” “Why don’t you admit you’re in the pay of the Israeli government” and the like. It is not just tweets though. One Labour party member called me a “CIA *******” for dealing with the “antisemitism nonsense” following an appearance I made on the Daily Politics at Labour party conference talking about the Brexit. Not all, but the vast majority of these attacks have come from self-identified “left-wing” activists or Labour party supporters.

Anti-Jewish hate and invective is becoming so obsessive, so fervent that irrespective of what an anti-racist activist is discussing, antisemitism is the online reaction. Last week, Phillip Collins, in the Times, highlighted the problem of Left wing antisemitism and the obsessive hate of Israel. He pointed out that most of the statements people make are not actionable. The death threat I received will be, but much of the abuse fell into the other category. As he said: the “tone of voice, the severity, the passion, the elevation of an issue that should be one among many to a defining idea of political identity.” ”It connects to a loathing of America and of capitalism and of alleged western interference in the Middle East. For the uncomplicated racist, hatred of the undesirable people is the starting point. For the complicated, confused leftist, the denigration of a people is their conclusion.” (h/t Zvi)

A Century after the Balfour Declaration, Is the UK on Israel’s Side?

Britain’s Conservative prime minister Theresa May led her country in celebrating the centennial of the Balfour Declaration at a commemorative dinner in November, but Jeremy Corbyn, the notoriously hard-left and anti-Israel leader of the Labor party, declined to attend. Although Labor’s shadow foreign secretary did attend, she publicly asserted her disapproval of the occasion and said that the “most important way” for Britain to mark the anniversary would have been “to recognize Palestine.” Indeed, Simon Gordon writes, anti-Zionism has become an increasingly powerful force in British politics—especially, but not exclusively, on the left:

Less than a week after the Balfour centenary, a diplomatic scandal involving senior Israeli officials precipitated the resignation of Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. One of the most outspoken supporters of Israel in the cabinet, Patel had [allegedly] been meeting Israeli ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, behind the foreign secretary’s back, while formally on vacation. . . . But the official version of events was soon called into question. The Jewish Chronicle, citing sources in Downing Street, reported that Patel’s unofficial diplomacy in Israel took place with the consent of the prime minister, who had asked her not to disclose the meetings. The truth of the matter remains unclear. But would a breach of diplomatic protocol involving another country have provoked the same response?

If this was the stance of a relatively Israel-friendly Tory government, what of Labor?

A win for Corbyn, the most left-wing Labor leader in more than 30 years, would radically reverse Britain’s approach to the Middle East. Nor has Labor changed its spots overnight. Since Tony Blair’s resignation in 2007—in part precipitated by his defense of Israel’s 2006 campaign in Lebanon—the party has continually moved to the left in both domestic and foreign policy. . . .

In contrast to [the Conservative former prime minister David] Cameron, [the former Labor leader Edward] Miliband condemned the IDF during Operation Protective Edge [in Gaza]. Two months later, he whipped Labor MPs to back a nonbinding parliamentary motion on the unilateral recognition of Palestine. Whether or not Corbyn makes it to 10 Downing Street, its next Labor occupant is likely to be far less friendly toward Israel than any prime minister since . . . the early 1970s.

How the IRS Went After a Pro-Israel Group, and Why It Matters

In 2010, a nascent pro-Israel organization called Z Street applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. The IRS responded by subjecting the organization to greater-than-usual scrutiny, asking extensive questions about its political positions and opening a formal inquiry into whether it had ties to terrorism—thus preventing it from beginning its operations. After the process dragged on for years, Z Street’s founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus and her husband Jerome successfully sued the IRS, resulting in its eventual and only very recent acknowledgement of malpractice. Jonathan Tobin explains what happened:

The Z Street case must be viewed in the context of what came to be known as the IRS scandal. During the first term of the Obama administration, the IRS began subjecting conservative groups that applied for nonprofit status as educational organizations to the sort of special scrutiny not applied to liberal groups. . . . While no direct link between the White House and IRS decisions was ever produced, what followed was very much in line with the administration’s desire to prevent conservatives from taking advantage of the law. But it was not until after the 2010 midterms and President Obama’s re-election in 2012—when the work of those nonprofits might have impacted public opinion—that the controversy was aired and the policy reversed.

That’s where Z Street comes in. It was applying for 501(c)(3) status as a group that sought to educate the public about Israel. But its support for Jewish settlements put it in the cross hairs of federal bureaucrats, who apparently got the message from on high that such an organization was to be put through the wringer.

As was the case with the concerted process slowdown of some conservative groups, the attention given to Z Street was not about whether it was actually eligible for nonprofit status under the law. Rather, it was a function of the Obama administration’s dislike of its particular politics. Z Street was a supporter of the settlement movement at a time when President Obama was determined to force the Israeli government to stop building in the West Bank. . . .

This was not an inadvertent error [by the IRS]. During the course of their lawsuit, the Marcuses uncovered the fact that the IRS was compiling lists of groups that opposed the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel by drawing upon information from viciously anti-Zionist websites like MondoWeiss and Electronic Intifada. The bureaucrats seeking to mold tax policy to fit Obama’s opinions about the Middle East were not only brazenly seeking to politicize something that should be above politics but were also aware that doing so in this manner was wrong since they wrote to each other about avoiding an email trail that could document their intentions.

Middle East Monitor’s Asa Winstanley Alleges Jews Allied with Nazis

Writing on the former Deputy Head of the Muslim Council of Britain Daud Abdullah’s website, Asa Winstanley argues there was an alliance between Nazis and Zionists.

He follows this up with a number of assertions about Israeli policy today and Zionist policy during the Second World War. Little of this bears up to scrutiny. In an article entitled Israel welcomes Nazis while banning pro-Palestinian Jews Winstanley portrays Nazis and Zionists as co-conspirators in the Holocaust;
“An alliance with anti-Semites has been a crucial strategy of Zionist ideology ever since the late 19th century. It started with anti-Semitic Protestant Christian Zionists and later expanded to the Nazis.”

Bearing in mind all of the antisemitism Zionist Jews are receiving at the moment it’s worth tackling the arguments raised by Winstanley in his article and putting the issues he raises to bed.

First is Winstanley’s explanation of the Haavara agreement;
“The agreement facilitated the emigration to Palestine of some Jews with their wealth in return for the World Zionist Movement calling off its boycott of Germany.”

The agreement did facilitate the emigration to Palestine of German Jews but it wasn’t in return for calling off the boycott. As a source Winstanley offers this link. Had he read the source he provides he’d have known this.

Permalink to Dem Rep: Louis Farrakhan Is an ‘Outstanding Human Being’

A House Democrat on Tuesday defended having met with controversial activist and imam Louis Farrakhan, saying the Nation of Islam leader is an “outstanding human being.”

The Daily Caller asked Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.) about the revelation that the black separatist leader met with the Congressional Black Caucus in 2005 and was photographed meeting future president Barack Obama during a 2006 CBC meeting.

“I personally know [Farrakhan]; I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” Davis responded.

“I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything; I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate. And he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” he continued.

Farrakhan has been labeled a virulent anti-Semite by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which notes he “routinely accuses Jews of manipulating the U.S. government and controlling the levers of world power,” and has praised Adolf Hitler as a “very great man.” (h/t MtTB)

NGO Monitor: Westminster Debate on Detention of Palestinian Minors by Israeli Authorities – Promoting Impunity for the Weaponization of Children

Palestinian minors are involved in a wide range of offences including murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons. Key contributing factors are incitement by the Palestinian Authority and recognized terror groups, recruiting of children to engage in conflict and the glorification of violence, and large monthly payments (that increase based on the severity of the crime) by the Palestinian Authority to prisoners and their families.

A debate that focuses exclusively on Israel, but ignores violent crimes and their proximate causes, encourages impunity and emboldens the exploitation of children by Palestinian actors.
Sources for claims against Israel:

  • Allegations of mistreatment of Palestinian children in detention originate with radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that seek to marginalize Israel through BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) initiatives. A number have reported links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)– listed as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, UK and Canada.
  • The NGOs publish misleading and distorted reports. These inaccuracies and unverified claims are then laundered through a variety of publications, lending them prominence and credibility. At least one of these organizations has remarked that such efforts would allow the NGO to obtain funding from UN agencies and donor governments.
  • For instance, many of the NGOs partner with UNICEF’s West Bank office, providing claims that are repeated in “Situation Reports” and other publications. NGO citations to UNICEF are, therefore, self-referential.
  • At the time these claims of mistreatment were made and adopted by UNICEF, one of these NGOs had a PFLP “leader” on staff (according to a PFLP announcement).
  • In many instances, criticisms of Israeli criminal justice practices lack any legal comparison, contradict international law, and apply a unique and specific standard for Israel alone.

Michael Calderbank; Corbyn Confidante, Co-Editor Red Pepper and Antisemite?

Yesterday Jeremy had a meeting with some “friends”.

These included Malia “Zionist outpost” Bouattia, Ken “never intended to deny the Holocaust” Loach, John “Inminds” McDonnell and co-editor of Red Pepper Michael Calderbank.

Calderbank (centre in the below pic), who describes himself as a ‘socialist’ and is a ‘Parliamentary Researcher for trade unions’, was chairing the manifesto discussion and launch of the book; For The Many: Preparing Labour for Power

It turns out that Calderbank has some pretty strident views on what Jews are allowed to call antisemitism and whether Jews living in the West Bank should expect to be killed.

Corbyn Shares Platform With Malia Bouattia as Williamson Vows ‘We’ll Paint Number 10’s Door Red’

Jeremy Corbyn tonight reignited the anti-Semitism scandal in the Labour Party by sharing a platform with ousted former NUS President Malia Bouattia at a hard left event in Parliament. Guido can reveal Jezza dropped-by unannounced and spoke alongside Bouattia at a Corbynista book launch which was quietly billed as a ‘Manifesto Discussion’ in Portcullis House. Jezza’s attendance was presumably kept a secret as it would have been too controversial to advertise…

Controversial Bouattia – whose tenure as NUS was marred by accusations of anti-Semitism – addressed the gathering of ardent Corbynistas after Corbyn spoke. In her speech Bouattia praised Corbyn, attacked the government’s Prevent anti-terror programme and accused Labour of “structural racism” – but did not mention the party’s anti-Semitism scandal. Corbyn applauded her speech and posed for photos with Bouattia as they left the event.

IsraellyCool: People Behind Real-Life “Monk’s Cafe” From Seinfeld Out Themselves as Israel Haters

Globarg Bashi, the hater behind P is for Palestine – the children’s book glorifying violence and terrorism against Jews in Israel – has proudly posted the following

I wasn’t sure if she meant her Greek neighbors who happened to be in Tom’s restaurant at the time of the photo, or her Greek neighbors who actually own the restaurant. It did not take too long to discover it is option 2.

I find it disgusting that the restaurant made famous by Jerry Seinfeld, a proud Jewish man who also happens to love Israel and detest terrorism (as promoted by this book) – would publicly hitch their wagon to the side that hates Israel and engages in terrorism. All while they continue to play up the fact they were Monk’s diner from Seinfeld.

In the meantime, if you live in New York, please boycott Tom’s restaurant.

The Washington Post’s Vanishing Act on Palestinian Rejectionism

“The road to an Israeli-Palestinian deal is vanishing” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius proclaimed in a Jan. 30, 2018 Global Opinion commentary. But Ignatius—a long-time Middle East observer and author of several bestselling spy novels—fails to accurately identify the culprit responsible. He cites two factors: The Trump administrations Dec. 6, 2017 decision to implement the bipartisan 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and settlements in the West Bank. Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist and repeated rejection of peace plans are missing in the 76-word column.

Ignatius expresses his concern that “the space for compromise seems to be vanishing,” between Israelis and Palestinians. He uncritically quotes top Palestinian Authority (PA) official Saeb Erekat, who, declared that “the two state solution is dead,” after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Erekat is disingenuous. Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous U.S. and Israeli offers for statehood in exchange for peace with the Jewish state—in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference. The 2008 offer would have given the Palestinians a state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem and 93% of the West Bank with land swaps to make up the difference (“Missed Opportunity: Olmert, Abbas and Media Bias,” Tablet Magazine, Nov. 23, 2015). Yet, in a 2009 interview with Al-Jazeera, Erekat cheered PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to reject the 2008 proposal

Furthermore, Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since its founding in 1948. And the idea that Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are responsible for the lack of Israeli-Palestinian peace runs counter to the history of the conflict

MEMRI: MEMRI Marks Its 20th Year Of Providing Translations And Analyses From The Middle East, South Asia, And Russia

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), founded in 1998, is celebrating its 20th year of bridging the language gap between the West and the Middle East, South Asia, and now Russia through these regions’ media, providing its readers with timely translations from Arabic, Farsi, Urdu-Pashtu, Dari, Turkish, and Russian media as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, MEMRI is producing and disseminating content to hundreds of thousands of email subscribers and millions who view MEMRI TV clips online. MEMRI research is translated into English, French, Polish, Japanese, Spanish, and Hebrew.

“MEMRI was originally created to provide readers, in both the East and the West, comprehensive access to the primary-source material from the Arab and Muslim world,” said MEMRI founder and president Yigal Carmon. “MEMRI is a concept: Wherever there is a conflict between nations, ethnicities, religions, or regions, in order to understand those conflicts and to know how to tackle them, one has to go to primary source material – the media – to understand the present; to the schoolbooks, to understand the future; and to the religious texts, wherever religion plays a role in the life of the individual and the community. MEMRI has been doing this regarding the Arab and Muslim world since its inception 20 years ago, and, in 2016, we added to our mission the Russian media, since Russia is one of the countries in conflict both within itself and with its surroundings. I strongly believe that there is a vital need for research institutes to cover Chinese primary sources, since China is increasingly becoming a threat to its surroundings.”

Over the past 20 years, MEMRI has expanded from translating news content from the Arab world to developing comprehensive projects on topics important to policy makers, military, law enforcement, and government. Among these are the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) which tracks, examines, translates, and analyzes threats, planning, and global news by and about jihad and jihadi organizations and individuals, and the Cyber Jihad Lab (CJL) which monitors, translates, and researches jihadi and other types of hacktivist groups and activity, with a focus on encryption and other technologies. The MEMRI Reform Project monitors advocates of reform, including women’s and human rights, in the Arab and Muslim world, amplifying their voices and examining the obstacles they face in advancing their cause.

Jeremy Bowen’s Tamimi PR continues on BBC World Service radio

As was the case in one of his previous filmed reports, Bowen implied to BBC World Service listeners that Israeli military courts lack due process.

Bowen: “The chances are that Ahed Tamimi and her mother will end up with jail sentences. The Israeli military courts usually convict. The occupation has been going on for 50 years and it shows no sign of ending. Incidents like this indicate the level of tension and anger that’s often just below the surface. The question is how long before, once again, it erupts into much more serious violence.”

The BBC and Jeremy Bowen knew very well even before his January 31st reports were aired that the twelve charges against Ahed Tamimi include a count of incitement that relates to a video put out by her mother on social media in which Ahed Tamimi’s “message to the world” – as it was described by Nariman Tamimi – was:

“Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine”

After his reports appeared numerous people reminded Bowen of that fact on social media. The fact that five days later the BBC chose to broadcast yet another report in which that crucial context was not provided to audiences indicates once again that the corporation and its Middle East editor have self-conscripted to a political campaign that has now included no fewer than ten separate reports on Ahed Tamimi since December 19th.

Labour leader of Haringey Council to stand down partly in protest over refusal to discipline abuser who told Jewish Councillor “you will have more time to count money” after elections

The Labour leader of Haringey Council has announced her decision to stand down over rampant antisemitism and sexism in the local party. After ten years as leader of the Council, Claire Kober told The Times that she could no longer remain in her post due to the extreme hatred that had been subjected to and witnessed. Councillor Kober will stand down when local elections are held in May.

Councillor Kober, who is the most senior Labour woman in local government, cited a number of factors including the involvement of Labour’s Momentum faction in bullying, sexism and the decision to block a flagship housing project, but she said: “The levels of antisemitism I’ve seen in the Labour Party are just astonishing. The only thing I see that’s worse than sexism in the Labour Party is antisemitism.”

Recalling an incident in which Councillors were threatened for proposing to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, Councillor Kober said: “I was met with this wall of sound. Many of them Labour Party members screaming, shouting, howling, trying to stop me speaking.” When the motion was passed, one voice was heard shouting: “We will see you at your Constituency Labour Party.” Labour Councillor Joe Goldberg tweeted that he was threatened by fellow Labour Party members.

Councillor Kober was particularly disgusted however when a Momentum-backed candidate told a Jewish Councillor that “you will have more time to count money” after the local elections in May. Councillor Kober’s attempts to have him disciplined or expelled were rejected by the hard-left faction.

Jewish group petitions Bulgarian PM to ban neo-Nazi parade

World Jewish Congress vice president Robert Singer delivered a petition, signed by over 175,000 people, to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, protesting a planned march by neo-Nazis to celebrate a World War II leader who had close ties with the Third Reich.

The torchlight procession known as the Lukov March commemorates Hristo Lukov, the late Bulgarian war minister and leader of the pro-Nazi Union of the Bulgarian National Legions, who supported anti-Semitic legislation that denied Jews civil rights. It been held annually since 2003 in the capital, Sofia, and is scheduled this year for February 17.

“This is a neo-Nazi march,” Singer said in an interview published Tuesday in the Bulgarian SEGA daily newspaper. “We know that this is a marginal phenomenon, that the Bulgarian people do not support it, and the government does not support it, that the mayor of Sofia has made efforts to ban it during the last three years, but it continues.”

The online petition, launched in January, urges Bulgarian authorities to actively ban the march rather than simply withholding permission for it to be held. Singer gave Borrisov a printed version of the document.

Unapologetic Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey claims “right-wing media” is exaggerating Labour’s antisemitism problem

The leader of the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, has claimed that the Labour Party’s ongoing antisemitism crisis is only a problem due to “right-wing media” supposedly exaggerating the issue.

Mr McCluskey made the comments last week during a speech for the Resolution Foundation, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A major ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mr McCluskey was reported to have said: “Let’s not kind of highlight too much division as though it’s a problem. It’s a problem because the right wing media try to make it a problem. That’s why we’ve had all the stuff flowing around about misogyny and antisemitism in the Labour Party to try and create an image that the Labour party is somehow a toxic party.”

Following the speech, Mr McCluskey tweeted: “The media try to create more of a division than there is in our movement. @UKLabour the biggest party in Europe. Of course, there will be a range of views. But we deal with each other in a respectful manner and accept the majority view #newpolitics @resfoundation”.

One of Mr McCluskey’s rivals within Unite was previously attacked as a traitor by Diane Abbott for stating that the Labour Party had a problem with antisemitism.

Polish man remanded in custody over alleged arson, threats and antisemitic vandalism of house in Stamford Hill

A Polish man has been remanded in custody after being arrested on suspicion of two counts of arson and the antisemitic vandalism of a house owned by a Jewish family in Stamford Hill.

It is alleged that the man moved into the property as a squatter, refused to move out and procured chemicals and weapons before saying that he would stab members of the Jewish family that owned the property and setting fire to bins outside two homes where he believed that they lived at approximately 23:30 on Friday night.

Volunteers from Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish neighbourhood watch patrol, operate a 24-hour response service and went to the scene of the incident to assist police in understanding the significance of the graffiti found there. There they found what appeared to be illegal drugs and deranged graffiti, including hundreds of Stars of David and the number 666, which in Christian numerology is used to refer to Satan.

Stamford Hill Shomrim is monitoring the trial, including the remand status of the defendant.

Chelsea soccer fans chant anti-Semitic songs less than a week after the team started an anti-hate campaign

Supporters of the Chelsea soccer team were caught singing anti-Semitic songs during a game held five days after the British club launched a campaign to stamp out anti-Semitism among its fans.

After the match against fellow Premier League squad Watford on Monday night, an unnamed Chelsea fan told England’s Jewish News that he was hit with a “torrent” of anti-Semitic abuse and moved out of his seat for his safety.

Jonathan Metliss, who heads the group Action Against Discrimination, which is aimed at combating racism among European soccer fans, also was at the game and told the Jewish News that he took photos of the alleged perpetrators for investigators. Metliss said he was “disgusted” by the fans’ behavior.

Chelsea announced last month that it would partner with the Anne Frank House, London’s Jewish Museum and other organizations to provide workshops on the Jewish culture in primary schools. It will also launch an education program for fans who have been banned from games for perpetuating anti-Semitism.

Jewish, Muslim Musicians: We’ll Always Have Tashkent

When Tahir Rajabiy and Osher Barayev took the stage at the Center for Jewish History on Monday night, it was the first time the Muslim Uzbek and the Bukharian Jewish musicians had played together in decades — since they grew up together in Tashkent.

For generations, Jews and Muslims played music together in gardens, tea houses and around kitchen tables in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

At the Fourth International Shash-Maqam Forever concert, more than 20 Uzbek and Bukharian musicians celebrated their shared culture and traditions, singing and playing several variations of the long-necked lute, including sato and tamor, along with the ghijak, played more like a violin, and the hand-held drum called a doire. By day, many of the Bukharian musicians work in New York as barbers and drivers.

The concert, hosted by the American Sephardi Federation, was part of a two-day celebration of Shash-Maqam music, a traditional sound developed in the royal courts of the Emirs of the Bukharan empire. A classical genre, it is a complex repertoire of melodies and poetic texts set to instrumental music. (h/t Zvi)

‘The Band’s Visit’ Puts Egyptians And Israelis Together For 24 Hours — And No Politics Ensue

Broadway’s new hit “The Band’s Visit” is remarkable for what doesn’t happen.

The plot revolves around an Egyptian police band’s arrival in a tiny Israeli desert village — instead of the thriving cultural center that bears a similar name. But instead of the political debacle the audience might expect, the show is about human interaction, loneliness, the power of music and, ultimately, what makes people similar.

The show stars veteran actor Tony Shalhoub and Broadway’s Katrina Lenk (@TheKatrinaLenk), who join director David Cromer to talk with Here & Now’s Robin Young about what it means to audiences.
Interview Highlights

On how the show approaches politics, and uses music to bridge divides between Arabs and Israelis

Katrina Lenk: “It’s not about politics. It’s about people just being people, and having basic human needs: love, food, joy, music. And music is a big connecting tool, I think, when you don’t speak the same language.” (h/t Zvi)

Can Israeli scientists save Darwin’s finches?

The Galápagos Islands are known for their unique animal species – giant tortoises, iguanas and sea lions – but none are more legendary than the group of birds known as Darwin’s finches.

Early discoveries from these tiny songbirds, which measure no bigger than a sparrow, are credited for having helped Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution by natural selection. Now, 11 of the 13 finch species found in the Galápagos are in danger of extinction due to a parasitic fly’s fatal impact on the populations.

A research team from the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment is embarking next week on an expedition to the islands to help save the iconic birds that have become the Galápagos’ symbol.

Internationally acclaimed entomologist Prof. Boaz Yuval will be joined by colleagues Prof. Edouard Jurkevitch and Micki Ben-Yosef for the three-week mission, part of a four-year project funded by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation together with the University of Minnesota. The team will also collaborate with George Heimpel, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, and scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Israel innovation makes up half of Merck healthcare revenue, top official says

Israeli innovation is behind almost half of the healthcare revenues of the 350-year-old German pharmaceutical and chemicals firm Merck, Kai Beckmann, CEO of Performance Materials at the firm, said in an interview on Tuesday.

“Roughly almost half of (our) healthcare revenue is based on innovation stemming from Israel,” Beckmann said. “This tells us a lot of the story of how important” Israel is to Merck.

The Rebif drug marketed by Merck to help decrease the frequency of relapse symptoms of multiple sclerosis had sales of some 1.7 billion euros in 2016, while the Erbitux drug for patients with cancer of the head and neck, also based on Israeli technology, had global sales of around €1 billion, he said.

Merck’s range of products includes biopharmaceutical therapies for cancer and MS, and liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group, which was established in 1668.

Thriller spins true yarn of Jewish athlete-turned-WWII-assassin

“Are you a Jew?”

“Well, I’m Jew….ish.”

It’s a joke you’ve probably heard a hundred times before, but not delivered by Paul Rudd in the middle of a World War II spy thriller.

One of the more jaunty and entertaining films that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was an adaptation of Nicholas Dawidoff’s successful 1994 biography, “The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.”

The screenplay by Robert Rodat, whose credits include “Saving Private Ryan” and, surprisingly, “Thor: The Dark World,” is eager to juice the adventure aspects on a very curious life.

The movie takes some liberties — compressing some elements, leaving out some facts, teasing audience expectations a bit — but it’s all to the betterment of an enjoyable yarn. You exit the theater chewing on the mysterious Berg, thinking what Marlene Deitrich said about Orson Welles at the end of “Touch of Evil” — “he was some kind of a man.”

“The Catcher Was A Spy” never met a pre- or post-film card it didn’t like, so it opens by giving away what could have been teased out. As the United States raced to create the first atomic bomb, there was great worry that the Nazis would beat them to it. So they sent a former professional ball player to assassinate its lead scientist.

Germany extends Israel Aerospace Industries drone contract

Germany on Tuesday announced that it has extended its agreements with Israel Aerospace Industries for the use of its Heron 1 reconnaissance drones in German military missions in Afghanistan and Mali for another year.

According to an IAI statement, the contract includes the supply of assets and manpower to support Heron 1 systems in the two nations where it is deployed.

The systems are operated by Airbus subsidiary DS Airborne Solutions GmbH.

The Heron has the ability to stay airborne for up to 45 hours. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,270 kilograms (about 2,800 pounds) and a payload of 250 kilograms (550 pounds).

The German Air Force has been operating the Herons in Afghanistan since 2010, where they were involved in thousands of missions, IAI said. In Mali, the system is stationed at the Gao Air Base as part of the U.N.’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission.

According to a statement by IAI, forces in Afghanistan and in Mali have logged more than 38,000 flight hours since 2016.

Ozzie Osborne Particularly Looking Forward to Playing in Israel of All Places

In an interview with Ozzy Osborne about why he has decided to stop touring, one part sticks out:

The No More Tours 2 tour will take Ozzy not just across North America but to South America, Europe and Russia. But there’s one stop he’s particularly looking forward to — Israel.

“I did a show there a few years back — it was unbelievable,” Ozzy said. Nobody goes there, so they really appreciate it, ’cause in Los Angeles and New York everybody’s spoiled there — you get everybody who’s anybody.”

I wouldn’t say “nobody goes there” – actually most artists (who matter) do come here.

But I think Ozzy is pretty adorable and appreciate him admitting the idea of playing in Israel particularly excites him.


There’s nothing sexier right now in Hollywood than an Israeli accent. And actress and model Moran Atias is certainly feeling the love right now.

The 36-year-old Atias, already a presence on the small screen in the United States, has just been cast in an upcoming NBC drama called The Village.

The Village, which NBC picked up for its 2018-2019 season, tells the story of a diverse group of residents living in a Manhattan apartment building. The show, written by Sons of Anarchy’s Mike Daniels, was NBC’s first pilot pickup for next year.

According to Deadline, Atias will be playing Edda, an Iranian immigrant who is detained by immigration officers over fraudulent citizenship papers.

It won’t be Atias’s first time playing a Middle Eastern character; the Haifa native starred for three seasons in FX’s The Tyrant as Leila Al-Fayeed. She can currently be seen in the Fox medical drama The Resident and also appeared in 24: Legacy.

Remembering a Hero of the Munich Massacre

Israeli fencer Dan Alon (March 28, 1945 — January 31, 2018) was a hero of the rarest kind. He did not rush into a burning building to save a neighbor, nor did he stand up to a despotic tyrant. Yet he still set a singular standard for heroism.

Before dawn on September 5, 1972 — in Apartment 2 of the Israeli athletes’ compound at the Munich Olympics — Dan Alon was startled by a machine gun blast. Even before he was fully awake, Alon knew that he had to run. An Israeli sabra learns to recognize the sound of terrorism as early as he learns to recognize his mother’s voice. Run or die. He ran.

Though he survived, Alon’s life was drained from him that day.

Next door, in Apartment 1, a band of Black Septembrists had imprisoned 11 of Alon’s teammates. As the six Olympians in Apartment 2 — a speed walker, a younger fencer, Alon, and three marksmen – struggled into full consciousness, they watched the body of their friend — a wrestler — hurtle past their window and fall onto the concrete below.

Surreptitiously, the six athletes in Apartment 2 were able to escape. Alon, the last to leave, saw a rifleman aiming a Kalisnikov directly at the fencer’s head. The two locked eyes, and then, inexplicably, the terrorist turned away — and Alon dashed for freedom. Yet in that moment, Alon felt his life end.

“I should have gone back. I should have tried to save the others. I should have fought the Palestinians,” he was wont to say. Instead, he and the others were charged with the devastating task of collecting the murdered men’s effects. From the pools of the victims’ blood and the wreckage of their resistance, the athletes from Apartment 2 extricated the toys and souvenirs meant as gifts for the athletes’ families, who were awaiting a triumphant return.

Instead, Dan and his cohorts would carry them home as artifacts in memoriam.

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