July 15, 2020

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02/09 Links: Bret Stephens: The Progressive Assault on Israel; Why Palestinians Oppose an Anti-Iran Coalition; Bernie Sanders Has His Own Ben Rhodes


From Ian:

Bret Stephens: The Progressive Assault on Israel
To say, as progressives sometimes do, that Jews are “colonizers” in Israel is anti-Semitic because it advances the lie that there is no ancestral or historic Jewish tie to the land. To claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, when manifestly it is not, is anti-Semitic because it’s an attempt to Nazify the Jewish state. To insist that the only state in the world that has forfeited the moral right to exist just happens to be the Jewish state is anti-Semitic, too: Are Israel’s purported crimes really worse than those of, say, Zimbabwe or China, whose rights to exist are never called into question?

But the most toxic assumption is that Jews, whether in Israel or the U.S., can never really be thought of as victims or even as a minority because they are white, wealthy, powerful and “privileged.” This relies on a simplistic concept of power that collapses on a moment’s inspection.

Jews in Germany were economically and even politically powerful in the 1920s. And then they were in Buchenwald. Israel appears powerful vis-à-vis the Palestinians, but considerably less so in the context of a broader Middle East saturated with genocidal anti-Semitism. American Jews are comparatively wealthy. But wealth without political power, as Hannah Arendt understood, is a recipe for hatred. The Jews of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh are almost surely “privileged” according to various socio-economic measures. But privilege didn’t save the congregants of the Tree of Life synagogue last year.

Nor can the racial politics of the United States or any other country be projected onto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as some have desperately sought to do. Nearly half of all Jewish Israelis have Middle Eastern roots; some, in fact, are black. Martin Luther King Jr. preached nonviolent resistance; Yasir Arafat practiced terrorism. The civil rights movement was about getting America to live up its founding ideals; anti-Zionism is about destroying Israel’s founding ideals.

As for the oft-cited apartheid analogy, black South Africans did not have a place in the old regime’s Parliament, as Israeli Arabs have in the Knesset; nor were they admitted to white universities, as Israeli Arabs are to Israeli universities. Israel can do more to advance the rights of its Arab citizens (just as the United States, France, Britain and other countries can for their own minorities). And Israel can also do more to ease the lives of Palestinians who are not citizens. But the comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa is unfair to the former and an insult to the victims of the latter. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Palestinians Oppose an Anti-Iran Coalition

Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, also lashed out at Iran:

“Iran has not provided anything for the Palestinian people. It is shameful that some think that the economic crisis in Iran is because of its support for the Palestinians. We never heard that Iran helped build a school or hospital or university or any other developmental project.”

Iran’s support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he explained, does not mean that it supports the Palestinian people. “This is a huge misconception and mistake,” he said.

In addition, Abbas loyalists have accused Iran of supporting Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. One official claimed that the Hamas terrorists who staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority back then had received military training in Iran and “some Arab countries.”

Another sign that the Arab countries have turned their backs on the Palestinians was provided by the recent convening of Arab foreign ministers in Jordan to build a consensus among Arab states on regional security issues. The Palestinians were not invited.

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah should ask itself why is everyone disparaging the Palestinian cause,” said Palestinian political analyst Fayez Abu Shamaleh. “Why is the Palestinian cause no longer at the center of the attention of Arabs and Jews? Even the candidates running in the Israeli election have ignored the Palestinian issue.”

The Palestinian fears do not seem unjustified. Several Arab countries appear completely fed up with the Palestinians, particularly the continued bickering between Fatah and Hamas. Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries have tried in the past decade to help the two rival parties resolve their differences, to no avail. Egyptian intelligence officials have devoted years trying to convince Hamas and Fatah to work together for the benefit of the Palestinians.

Instead of doing so, however, Palestinian leaders are preoccupied with blocking Arab participation in a conference that could see the creation of a coalition against Iran — the same country that Abbas and his loyalists hold responsible for the ongoing divisions among the Palestinians. Might it be possible that the Arab countries are finally rousing themselves from their long slumber and beginning to seek better lives for themselves and their neighbors?

Michael Lumish: “Palestinians” and BDS

Note the use of “Palestinian” in quotes by the creator of the image below.

The reason for this is because he understands that the Arabs who live in the Land of Israel — which is to say, the land of the Jewish people — only came into recognizable existence around the time that Paul McCartney was writing “Yesterday.”

The people who we call “Palestinians” come from throughout the entire Arab world and that world is a world of conquest by Arabs against non-Arabs. This is not a matter of debate. It is a matter of fact.

It is a matter of known historical knowledge.

Were Israel to be the twenty-third Arab-Muslim state, rather than the lone, sole Jewish state, it would be hailed as the most enlightened country throughout the Middle East. It is only hated by Arabs and their western-left allies because it is the single Jewish state.

Thus, many of us who favor the ongoing well-being of the Jewish people in an entirely hostile world often put the word “Palestinian” in quotes.

Bernie Sanders Has His Own Ben Rhodes

A master’s degree in creative writing, followed by a stint writing reports and speeches for an ex-congressman heading a think tank, is generally considered inadequate experience to then serve as the president’s deputy national security adviser. Yet that is the path that Ben Rhodes walked to become who writer David Samuels once described as “the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy,” aside from Barack Obama. Perhaps it is because of that unconventional route that Rhodes developed visceral contempt for the foreign-policy establishment, which he called “the Blob” and whose ideas he sought to buck—primarily because of the chaotic landscape in the Middle East and, relatedly, an obsessive disgust with the Iraq War.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who is expected to announce a 2020 presidential run, makes foreign policy one of his principal focuses, in part to counter critics who considered him ignorant of international issues during the 2016 campaign, he has acquired his own Ben Rhodes. Weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Sanders hired Matt Duss as his foreign-policy adviser. It is no coincidence that, since then, Sanders has been more vocal about foreign affairs, articulating a progressive vision for America’s role in the world.

Duss also shares Rhodes’s deep contempt for the so-called Blob, as Klion’s title suggests. Most notably, while working at the Center for American Progress, or CAP, from 2008 to 2014, Duss waged a campaign against the pro-Israel community in Washington. He called out the Washington Free Beacon among other media outlets and organizations that were critical of his misleading and outrageous claims about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That brings us to the policy positions that Duss and Rhodes share: disgust with the Iraq War, support for the Iran nuclear deal and an American tilt toward the Islamic Republic, deep hostility toward Israel—in Duss’s case bordering on anti-Semitism because of his fallacious demonization of the Jewish state—and Saudi Arabia, and a general aversion to deploying American soldiers abroad, among others.

“Rhodes … is the most obvious example of the kind of role that Duss might be expected to play in a Sanders administration,” Klion writes.

But as far to the left as Rhodes is, Duss is further out there, a true believer who drank every drop of the progressive Kool Aid. Duss “does identify as a man of the left,” Klion notes, “a strong social democrat perfectly at home with Sanders’s political program.”

GOP leader promises ‘action’ against Democrats accused of anti-Semitism

The Republican leader in the US House of Representatives said he would take action against two Democrats who have sharply criticized Israel if the Democratic majority did not do so.

“If they do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself,” Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said according to Capitol Hill reporters writing for a number of newspapers. “This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this country.”

McCarthy noted that he had recently taken action to isolate Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, who has long associated with white supremacists. The precipitating event for McCarthy was when King wondered in an interview why terms like “white supremacy” were stigmatized.

Statements by freshmen Democrats Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were equal to King’s and “more so,” McCarthy said. He did not say what action he might initiate against them.

It’s not clear what statements McCarthy particularly found offensive, but both lawmakers embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, and both have been accused of tweets that cross the line to anti-Semitism: Tlaib in January when she appeared to accuse senators of dual loyalty for advancing a bill that would protect states penalizing commercial Israel boycotts; and Omar in 2012 when she said Israel was “hypnotizing” the world. Omar has in recent days apologized multiple times for that tweet.

The Spin Room Panel: Israeli Votes on the Palestinian Topic

THE SPIN ROOM | What are the Israeli elections about? For years, they’ve been mostly about security and the Palestinian conflict. How can Israel solve it? Former Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick and Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy debate. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Palestinians Reject Invitation to Attend US Mideast Meeting in Poland

Palestinian officials have been invited to a US conference on the Middle East hosted by Poland next week, a senior American official said on Friday, but top Palestinian officials said they would not attend.

The senior administration official told reporters White House senior adviser Jared Kushner would discuss plans for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis at the event.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the US to reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital and cuts in aid to the Palestinians, saying these had undermined efforts to reach a two-state solution to the longstanding conflict.

“As noted we have asked the Palestinian Authority to send representatives to this event,” the US official said.

Kushner, who is US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, “will discuss the administration’s efforts to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians and also take questions from the audience,” the official noted.

“We would very much welcome the Palestinian Authority’s perspectives during the discussion, but I do want to emphasize this is not a negotiation but a discussion, and we look forward to fostering a constructive conversation in Warsaw,” he added.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat quickly rejected the invitation, writing on Twitter: “Regarding statements that we have been invited, we can say that only today there was some contact from the Polish side.

“Our position remains clear: We are not going to attend this conference and reiterate that we have not mandated anyone to talk on behalf of Palestine.”

Palestinian Authority calls on Arabs to boycott U.S. conference in Warsaw

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in response to the US invitation that the Warsaw conference “is an attempt at bypassing the Arab Peace Initiative and destroying the Palestinian national project.” Erekat said the Palestinians will not attend the conference and have “not mandated anyone to talk on behalf of Palestine.”

Another PA official, Hussein al-Sheikh, also rejected the invitation, and said the PLO was the only party mandated to represent or talk on behalf of the Palestinians. Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh warned that any Palestinian or Arab who accepts Trump’s “deal of the century” would be accused of betraying Jerusalem and Islamic and Christian holy sites. He too emphasized that the PLO was the only party which has the authority to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.

The PA, which has been boycotting the Trump administration since December 2017, has expressed fear that the Warsaw conference’s main goal would be to promote normalization between Israel and some Arab countries.

In the past two weeks, several PA officials have called on the Arab countries to boycott the upcoming conference and to remain committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalizing ties between Israel and the Arab countries only after a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

Qawassmeh warned on Saturday that any Arab leader who meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Warsaw conference would be “stabbing Jerusalem and our Palestinian people.” The Palestinians, he added, are opposed to any form of normalization “with the Israeli occupation entity because that would be a free gift to Tel Aviv.”

Foreign Ministry said to see little chance of breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties

Saudi Arabia will not normalize ties with Israel or support the Trump administration’s peace plan without significant Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, according to a classified Foreign Ministry document reported by Israeli television Friday.

Israel in recent years has worked to improve ties with Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which, despite having no diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, share a common foe in Iran.

Though Saudi Arabia has stated it will not establish ties with Jerusalem in the absence of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said improved relations with the Arab world could better the chances of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Citing an unnamed Foreign Ministry official familiar with the document, Channel 13 news reported that the memo, drawn up in mid-December, contradicts Netanyahu’s position, arguing the chances of such an “inside-out” formula resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were remote.

Palestinians Approach UN Seeking ‘Top Billing’ in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (satire)

A delegation representing the Palestinian Authority has appeared before UN leadership requesting the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to be renamed. As PA representative Mahmoud Said told the UN, “For too long, we’ve been told that we don’t deserve top billing in this conflict. For too long, our children have grown up in a world where they are billed second to the Zionists. Don’t they deserve to live in a world where their biggest problem is the ‘Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?’”

According to Said, the request has less to do with the Palestinian or Israeli contributions to the decades-old conflict, and more with the self esteem of the Palestinian people. “Our children are already told they are second-class citizens, why should they also be branded as coming second in the name of the struggle with Israel when we’re equal shareholders?”

Israel has also sent a delegation to the UN with the expressed goal of retaining top billing. “We’ve worked hard to establish ourselves as the leading name in this ongoing war. We won’t sit idly by and let the Palestinians use bureaucratic trickery to ruin all that we’ve worked for,” commented Israeli Government representative Avigdor Benrimon. “‘Palestinian-Israeli Conflict’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it, why should anyone care about a conflict without a snappy name? The Balochistan Conflict has been going on as long as ours, but no one’s ever heard of them. You know why? The name is terrible. They should fire whatever PR person thought of it.”

Praising Hezbollah, Russian envoy claims US could spark new Israel-Lebanon war

Russia’s ambassador in Beirut said US policies toward Iran could set off a fresh war between Israel and Lebanon, while championing the country’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group.

Though he said renewed fighting between the sides remained uncertain, Alexander Zasypkin accused the United States of inciting “new conflicts” that he said could draw in countries and actors throughout the Middle East.

“As for a conflict between Israel and Lebanon, nothing can be predicted with certainty because the region is at a crossroads. Peoples are demanding the settlement of existing crises, the return to a peaceful life, the development of cooperation,” Zasypkin told the state-owned Sputnik news agency in an interview published Saturday.

“A negative alternative to this is the incitement of new conflicts by the Americans, which could involve many countries as well as ethnic and religious forces,” he added.

Zaspykin also claimed the US stance toward Iran and Hezbollah was further destabilizing the region.

Suspect in the murder of Ori Ansbacher arrested near Ramallah

IDF and police forces have arrested a Palestinian suspected in committing the brutal murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, according to the police spokesperson’s unit.

The suspect was been arrested near Ramallah, and was reported to be living in Hebron.

“The joint investigation of the Israel Police and the General Security Service led the Border Police unit of the Border Police, the Shin Bet security forces and the IDF to carry out operations in Ramallah, in the framework of which a suspect was arrested in the murder of Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem,” the Border Police spokesperson said in a released statement.

“From the moment that the body of Ori Ansbacher, 19, was found in the Ein Yael area of ​​Jerusalem, a joint investigation team of the Israel Police and the General Security Service to work together to locate every piece of information and evidence that could lead to the identity of the suspect.”

“The suspect was arrested in Ramallah, and the suspect, a resident of Hebron, was interrogated by the GSS. There is a gag order on every detail of the investigation, except for what is written in this notice,” the statement concluded. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Police: Forensics at scene led to Palestinian suspect in murder of Israeli teen

Israeli police investigating the brutal murder of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher in Jerusalem said on Saturday that forensic evidence unearthed at the scene of the crime led forces to the arrest of a Palestinian suspect Friday night.

Ansbacher, 19, was found dead in the woods at Ein Yael in south Jerusalem late Thursday, with what police said were “signs of violence,” after she was reported missing earlier in the day.

Israeli security forces arrested the Palestinian suspect in Ramallah late Friday for the murder of Ansbacher, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said was killed with “shocking brutality,” and police sources were quoted as saying had been stabbed multiple times in the upper torso.

Police said the forensic evidence at the scene tied the suspect to the murder “without question” and that there would be no need for a confession, according to a Channel 13 report Saturday. The arrest of the suspect was “very quiet,” the police added.

Ansbacher’s family was notified of the arrest over the course of Saturday.

The suspect, a Palestinian resident of Hebron, was taken for questioning by the Shin Bet security services after a raid in the West Bank’s Ramallah/el-Bireh area on Friday night.

According to PA news outlet Wafa, IDF troops searched two residential buildings and the Jamal Abdel-Nasser Mosque, where a 30-year-old employee was arrested. The report said the Israeli troops confiscated security camera footage from the neighborhood, as well as from the mosque.

The raid sparked clashes with some local residents, who hurled rocks at the troops. The Palestinian Red Crescent said two Palestinians were treated for light injuries at hospitals in Ramallah.

Danon to UNSC President: Condemn PA’s terror in light of Ansbacher’s death

“Condemn the barbaric murder and act firmly against the PA’s culture of terror” Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon demanded of the UN Security Council President on Friday.

Following the brutal murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, whose body was found in Ein Yael in Jerusalem on Thursday, Danon called for an urgent meeting with Anatolio Ndong Mba, the Equatorial Guinea ambassador to the United Nations, currently serving as the president of the Security Council, and demanded that the Council publicly condemn the terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

“The Security Council’s silence will not help in this fight against terrorism, and will only allow the waves of hatred to grow unchecked,” said Danon, adding that “while this silence continues, the PA maintains its policy of paying salaries for terrorists and educating its youth with incitement, and a 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered in Israel.

“The Security Council has the responsibility and moral duty to make a clear condemnation of this barbaric murder and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority, the very culture that undermines stability in the region and destroys innocent lives,” Danon concluded.

Police urge public to stop spreading ‘horrific’ rumors about Jerusalem murder

Police on Friday urged the public to stop spreading “horrific” and baseless rumors on social media surrounding the murder of a teenager whose body was discovered on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Ori Ansbacher, a 19-year-old from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, was found dead Thursday with what police said were “signs of violence” after she was reported missing earlier in the day. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ansbacher had been killed with “shocking brutality,” and police sources were quoted saying she had been stabbed multiple times in the upper torso.

“Since the murder that took place yesterday, there have been different publications and reports, especially on social media, regarding the circumstances of the case, including horrific descriptions that are irresponsible,” police said in a rare statement.

“We are clarifying that these publications are baseless and hurt the honor of the victim and her family while misleading the public,” police added.

Police stressed they were doing everything in their power to track the perpetrator(s).

“We call on the public not to spread false rumors or disinformation from unauthorized sources,” police said.

IDF Troops Face Off Against 8,000 Palestinian Rioters in Latest Gaza Border Unrest

IDF troops faced off against around 8,000 Palestinian rioters on the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Friday, as weekly Hamas-orchestrated unrest continued.

According to Palestinian health officials, two rioters died in the latest clashes.

The Israeli military said it had opened fire in response to explosives and rocks hurled at the border fence.

More than 220 Gazans have been killed in border violence since last March.

Last July, an IDF soldier was shot dead by a sniper on the frontier with the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

An Israeli military spokesperson said soldiers on Friday used riot dispersal equipment and opened fired “in accordance with standard operating procedures.”

The IDF tweeted about Friday’s events, “What prevented 8,000 violent rioters in Gaza from infiltrating into Israel? Some barbed wire & brave IDF soldiers. As rioters threw grenades + explosives into Israel today, our troops stood guard, ensuring innocent Israelis living minutes away stayed safe.”

Hezbollah terror chief chides Israelis for not recycling, in mock ad campaign

An Israeli recycling company has chosen an unlikely star for its environmental ad campaign, Hezbollah terror group chief Hassan Nasrallah.

The terror leader’s face appeared on a towering billboard on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv Wednesday and in a video put out by the ELA Recycling Corporation, encouraging Israelis to recycle plastic bottles.

In the ad, an animated Nasrallah says “I don’t recycle bottles,” with text stating that he has been stuck in a bunker for 12 years, and asking Israelis, “What’s your excuse?”

In the mock video, Nasrallah is speaking Arabic, accompanied by Hebrew subtitles. He introduces himself as a “Youtuber” and public figure.

“Let’s talk for a second about our shared future, Israel. I haven’t recycled in 12 years, but what about you? What am I investing in tunnels for?” he says.

“If only I could leave [my bunker] to recycle bottles,” he laments.

The ELA Recycling Corporation is a nonprofit promoting recycling in Israel.

BDS’s binding ties with terrorists

The ugly face of the anti-Israel BDS movement just got uglier. Or, to put it another way, a study of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement removed its mask to reveal some very nasty characters.

According to an 80-page report published this week by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, there are more than 100 different connections linking terrorists groups to organizations that promote anti-Israel boycotts, including “the employment of 30 current and ‘retired’ terror operatives.”

The report sports the catchy title “Terrorists in Suits,” and, as I suspected, beyond BDS’s useful idiots – Roger Waters and his ilk – lies an even darker layer of BDS-ers who are terrorists all dressed up. Connecting the dots, you can trace a line from “terrorists in suits” to terrorists in suicide vests. The lines crisscross through organizations professing to deal in human rights, spreading across continents.

This goes way beyond attempts to shoot down Tel Aviv as the host of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This is about shooting down Israel, period.

As Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan put it: “Terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map. Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks.”

The report shows how Hamas and the PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) have ties to at least 13 anti-Israel NGOs. This includes 20 members now occupying senior positions in NGOs who have previously sat in jail, some for murder. The report “shows how boycott organizations and terrorist designated organizations raise finances together, share the same personnel, and showcases that contrary to popular belief, these officials have not abandoned their support for terrorism, but instead, continue to maintain organizational, financial and active ties with terrorist groups.”

Follow the money trail and you’ll find the BDS organizations have received millions of euros in funding from European countries and philanthropic foundations, in addition to funds raised through crowdfunding, banks and other means.

Search for the femme fatale and you’ll find Leila Khaled, one of the stars of the study.

BBC World Affairs editor misleads on women’s rights in Iran

In contrast, here is an excerpt from an article by the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson which appeared in the ‘features’ section of BBC News website’s Middle East page on February 1st under the title “The plane journey that set Iran’s revolution in motion”.

“Today, Iran is a lot more easy-going than most outsiders imagine.

The rules about women’s dress are sometimes enforced harshly, but the Islamic Republic has never clamped down on women’s rights in the way you see routinely in Saudi Arabia.

Iranian women run businesses, own property, drive cars and play an important part in politics.

The present government is probably more liberal than any other since the revolution.”

The World Economic Forum publishes an annual ‘Global Gender Gap Report’ which ranks countries in terms of women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. The 2018 report put Iran in slot 142 out of 149, with Saudi Arabia one place higher. Despite Simpson’s claim that “Iranian women…play an important part in politics”, the WEF’s sub-index on political empowerment ranks Iran 141 out of 149. Saudi Arabia is ranked 127th.

BBC ignores developments in story it reported in 2014

BBC audiences have not seen any follow-up reporting on that story despite the fact that following a 2015 change in government policy, 1,300 Falash Mura immigrated to Israel in 2017. In October 2018 the Israeli cabinet authorised a plan to bring a further 1,000 members of the community to Israel and the first group arrived this week.

“The first 83 immigrants from Ethiopia, out of a total of some 1,000 approved last year for entry into Israel, arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday night after waiting in Gondar for an average of 15 years.

In October, the government approved for immigration 1,000 members of the Falash Mura community in Ethiopia who have children currently living in Israel. […]

The immigrants were welcomed by Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog and Aliyah and Integration Minister Yoav Galant, as well as by several well-wishers, including a delegation from the Jewish Federation of Chicago.”

The BBC has to date not found those developments in the story it reported in 2014 worth covering.

Texas museum stands by ownership of painting; Jewish family claims it’s looted

A Houston museum said Friday it “stands by its ownership” of a painting on loan to an exhibition in Germany which is being claimed as Nazi-looted art.

Henri Edmond Cross’ “Regatta in Venice” was loaned by Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts for a show on the French artist at the Barberini Museum in Potsdam, just outside Berlin. Heirs of Jewish French collector Gaston Levy say it was stolen from their family by the Nazis and have filed a legal request for its return.

The Texas museum said it made a legal filing in Potsdam on Thursday. It said in a statement that “based on the facts of the provenance research, the museum stands by its ownership of ‘Regatta in Venice.’”

It said in its filing that no proof has been presented that the plaintiffs are Levy’s rightful heirs, and that Levy didn’t claim compensation for the piece in 1956 when he filed claims for other pieces in his collection, among them other pieces by Cross.

A lawyer for the heirs, Christoph Partsch, said last week that the painting was confiscated by the Nazis in 1940. He said his clients had found out only now about the existence of the missing painting and were demanding its return. He said the family lives in Europe, but didn’t want to further identify them.

21 iconic Israeli movies that you must watch

A melting pot of many different peoples, Israeli culture can be hard to grasp fully through anything but movies.

From classics films that paint a picture of what life was like for Jewish immigrants in the 1950s and ’60s, to portraits of communities often left out of the mainstream, movies let you immerse yourself in Israeli life, if only for a short while.

This list has it all: film series immortalized in Israeli pop culture; cult comedies; wartime movies; films about religious Jews, Soviet immigrants, and Bedouin tribes; and Israeli films that have received international acclaim.

Watch and enjoy as you learn a little bit more about the complicated society that is Israel. We’ve included websites where you can find the movie with English subtitles.

Spray painting a pro-Israeli message with Artists 4 Israel

Graffiti artists are disgusted by the antisemitic and racist graffiti springing up across college and university campuses in the United States, and have formed a rapid response team to combat the problem through art.

Despite the recent surge in BDS efforts, Artists 4 Israel (A4I) has grown exponentially over the last 10 years showing that Israel’s support of the arts and free speech is recognized and having a significant impact. Artists 4 Israel now represents more than 8,000 artists from 26 different countries who are united to overcome bigotry against Israel, the Jews or any other persecuted group. The recent rash of scrawled hate speech and depictions of swastikas is particularly upsetting to urban artists.

“Hate has no place in graffiti and I refuse to let anyone disrespect my chosen art form for such terrible purposes” says Shayne Tuthill, an artist who joined A4I on a mission painting memorials to slain IDF soldiers in Israel. Shayne and others under the coordination of Artists 4 Israel have offered to reclaim the name of street art and defend against the bigots and vandals.

Swastikas and other hateful symbols have been found most recently on the American Federation of Teachers building. This follows incidents at Columbia University, Duke University, Goucher, Cornell, Pomona, UC Davis and far too many other colleges and universities.

Graffiti and street art can and should unite people and beautify communities. Since its inception, Artists 4 Israel has found that to be a core value of most graffiti artists. Originally focusing only on advocacy initiatives in New York City, it was the artists themselves who suggested traveling to Israel to paint over the bomb shelters in Sderot. There, artists from around the world gathered to heroically dodge rockets and defy a war to create murals across the city. When finished, bomb shelters, those distressing reminders of danger, were transformed into an outdoor art gallery that soothed the populace and has become a tourist site that lasts to this day. The artists received the Key to the City of Sderot for their efforts as well as thousands of hugs, kisses and heartfelt thanks from the local community.

How a curious love triangle spurred UK’s cabinet to pass the Balfour Declaration

There was only one Jewish member among the British Cabinet when it debated Chaim Weizmann’s request that it back the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine during the summer and autumn of 1917.

But Edwin Montagu, who was born 140 years ago this month, was not, as might have been expected, the strongest advocate of what soon became known as the Balfour Declaration. Actually, he was its most bitter adversary.

He railed against the “mischievous political creed” of Zionism, attacked the very notion that Jews were a nation, and ridiculed the idea that, in such a state, Jews “drawn from all quarters of the globe” would even be capable of communicating with one another.

In an angry memo to his fellow Cabinet members in August 1917 he went so far as to declare that the proposal before the government would be “anti-Semitic in result [and] will prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country in the world.”

As the historian Jonathan Schneer wrote: “Ironically, a Jew represented the greatest remaining obstacle to Cabinet acceptance of the Balfour Declaration.”

Inadvertently, however, Montagu would play a possibly critical part in the realization of the Zionists’ dreams. That role had nothing to do with high politics or great principles. Rather, it resulted from the fallout of a bizarre love affair involving Montagu’s political mentor, prime minister Henry Herbert Asquith, and his future wife, Venetia Stanley.

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