Congresswoman Ilhan Omar suggests Jewish money behind US support of Israel
Newly elected Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar suggested on Sunday that Jewish money was behind American elected officials’ support for Israel, sparking widespread condemnation and fresh allegations of anti-Semitism.
Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, was responding on Twitter to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCathy’s vow to “take action” against her and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, both of whom support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar tweeted, reacting to another tweet from the prominent journalist Glenn Greenwald, who said it was “stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans,” referring to McCarthy’s pledge.
Benjamins are a slang term for $100 bills, which feature US founding father Benjamin Franklin.
When one journalist followed up by saying she wondered who Omar thought was paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, Omar responded: “AIPAC!,” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
While the pro-Israel lobby wields considerable influence in Washington, it does not contribute to campaigns, nor does it make endorsements.
Omar, a Somali-born refugee from Ethiopia, was recently appointed to the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. In recent weeks, Omar and others have been vociferous critics of two anti-BDS bills that are being pushed in Congress.
Anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Sunday and retweeted a tweet that said “[Omar] might as well call [Jews] hook-nosed.”
Omar’s vile remarks came in response to a Haaretz report that stated that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was going to take action against anti-Semitic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Omar.
“If [Democrats] do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself,” McCarthy said. “This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this country.”
Omar, who has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that were used by Nazi Germany, said that the GOP’s support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby.”
An hour later, Omar promoted another anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, falsely stating that The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is paying American politicians “to be pro-Israel.”
Omar then retweeted the following tweet that stated she “might as well call [American Jews] hook-nosed.”
“I’m one of those American Jews who opposes the occupation, laments Israel’s anti-democratic drift, and doesn’t regard the country as especially central to my Jewish identity,” Politico magazine editor Joshua Zeitz tweeted. “And I know exactly what the congresswoman meant. She might as well call us hook-nosed.”
Congresswoman @IlhanMN just retweeted a criticism of her anti-Semitic tweet which said that “she might as well call us hook-nosed.” pic.twitter.com/VLjEglThZf
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 11, 2019
Embattled anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is scheduled to speak alongside a senior charity official who has praised the killing of Jews on social media.
“Islamic Relief USA is hosting a fundraising dinner for aid to Yemen on February 23,” the Middle East Forum reports. “Rep. Ilhan Omar is due to speak alongside senior Islamic Relief USA official Yousef Abdallah, who was widely criticized in 2017 after the Middle East Forum found he had expressed violently anti-Semitic ideas on his social media accounts.”
The Middle East Forum’s report provides screenshots and descriptions of numerous anti-Semitic social media posts from Abdallah:
- Abdallah, who serves as Islamic Relief USA’s “operations manager,” shared a “very beautiful” story about “martyrs” who provide guns to “kill more than 20 jews” and “fire rockets at Tel Aviv.”
- Other posts referred to Jews as “stinking,” and claim “the Jews put the outside wall of Al Aqsa [the mosque in Jerusalem] on fire.” Abdallah also ‘liked’ a comment on his Facebook post that calls on God to wreak “revenge on the damned rapists Zionists. O God they are no challenge for you . Shake the Earth beneath their feet and destroy them as you destroyed the peoples of ʿĀd, Thamud and Lot.”
- And in 2014, after Republican politician Chris Christie apologized for referring to the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied,” Abdallah wrote: “Christie kneels down on his knees before the jewish lords and says ‘I am sorry’. Only money makes stuff like this happen. Mr. Christie.. Muslims should remember this very well.”
Another day, another anti-Semitic controversy for freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).
This time, she found herself being called out by one of her own Democratic colleagues, Jewish organizations and even Chelsea Clinton for tweets claiming Republican support for Israel is bought and paid for by AIPAC.
Omar linked to a tweet by left-wing journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was criticizing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) for threatening punishment against Omar and fellow anti-Israel Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.). She wrote, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” with musical notes, a reference to $100 bills with Benjamin Franklin’s face on them.
Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon criticized Omar for tweeting an “anti-Semitic trope” and said she’d love to know who is “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.” Omar responded, “AIPAC!”, the name of the pro-Israel lobbying organization.
Omar’s tweets were met with sharp criticism even from members of her own party, including Rep. Max Rose (D., N.Y.). Rose, who is Jewish, tweeted out a statement calling her words “hateful and offensive.”
Clinton tweeted in agreement with Ungar-Sargon that the congresswoman had again crossed a line.
“We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism,” Clinton wrote.
On Sunday, after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) displayed her blatant anti-Semitism by tweeting that GOP support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins,” and followed by accusing AIPAC of paying American politicians to support Israel, bipartisan condemnation of her remarks erupted, although no leading Democrats said a word about their colleague’s vile rhetoric.
Omar’s initial anti-Semitic tweet was triggered by famed anti-Semite leftist Glenn Greenwald, who tweeted, “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
Omar delightedly responded, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, an incredibly staunch supporter of Israel who saw Israel get attacked incessantly at the U.N., fired back, “To see this at the UN was a fight every day. This CANNOT be tolerated in our own Congress by anyone of either party. In a time of increased anti semitism, we all must be held to account. No excuses.”
McCarthy himself blasted, “Anti-Semitic tropes have no place in the halls of Congress. It is dangerous for Democrat leadership to stay silent on this reckless language.”
Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has been virtually the only Democrat willing to call out members of his own party for their anti-Semitism, snapped, “Defending Israel from antisemites is ‘all about the Benjamins’? Really? It’s about money? Another antisemitic trope for @Ilhan Omar? She’s like an antisemitic pinball machine that spits out old canards as the ball bounces around her brain. She’s the gift that keeps on giving!”
The time has come to demand Dem leaders speak out against @ilhanmn for her vile antisemitism. This isn’t going away. Where is @nancypelosi @SenSchumer @RepJerryNadler @RepEliotEngel @RepAdamSchiff @DWStweets and DNC leadership? Have they lost their ears, eyes, or damned minds? pic.twitter.com/mRhtDMJSJC
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) February 11, 2019
On Sunday night, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) took to Twitter to push classic anti-Semitic tropes that the GOP supported Israel because it’s “all about the Benjamins” and that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was paying politicians to support Israel. Now the Democratic House Leadership is condemning her, albeit not removing her from her committee assignment on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to which she was appointed last month.
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned wherever it is encountered, without exception,” the statement read. “We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share.”
Then the statement went after Omar by name.
“But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”
“As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered,” the statement concluded.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., apologized Monday for comments in which she implied that a prominent pro-Israel lobby compensated lawmakers for their support of the Jewish state, but insisted on what she called “the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics.”
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
“At the same time,” she added, “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], the [National Rifle Association] or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
Omar drew condemnation from members of both parties after she tweeted Sunday evening that AIPAC has been paying members of Congress to support Israel. On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on Omar to apologize, saying that “her use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.”
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was “shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.'” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the comments “deeply disappointing and disturbing.”
“Her words are deeply hurtful and offensive, particularly as they build on a previous comment she made [in 2012] about Jews ‘hypnotizing’ the world in support of Israel — another old trope born of hate-filled texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Nadler said. ” … In this fragile moment in our nation’s history, we must all redouble our efforts to engage in policy debates in ways that respect the dignity and humanity of all people.”
Former Obama administration Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro called on all Democrats to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) for her “outrageous” claims that American politicians support Israel because they’re paid off.
Omar, who frequently has to deny she’s an anti-Semite, stepped into controversy again on Sunday when she suggested in a tweet that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) was being paid off to criticize her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) for their anti-Israel stances.
When asked by a liberal magazine editor who exactly was paying politicians to support Israel, she wrote back “AIPAC,” the pro-Israel lobbying group.
Even some progressives criticized Omar for the tweets, which they said smacked of anti-Semitic tropes against American Jews. Shapiro, who was appointed to the post by Obama in 2011 and served until 2017, sent a flurry of tweets Monday morning that called for Omar to be “condemned by all in our party.”
He noted Democrats were largely quiet when Omar flip-flopped on her support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, known as BDS.
“Her support for BDS is apparently her essence: blaming Israel alone for the conflict, absolving Palestinians of all responsibility, delegitimizing Israel’s very existence, &accusing its supporters of shallow motives &manipulation by Jewish money,” he wrote.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D., N.M.) struggled to defend her fellow Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar (Minn.) Monday from charges of anti-Semitism, ultimately pleading ignorance about her string of controversial tweets.
Haaland initially answered a question from CNN host Kate Bolduan by accusing Republicans of greedily taking money from all kinds of suspect sources. This seemed to be echoing Omar’s accusation that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) buys support in Congress, which many took as thinly-veiled anti-Semitism.
“Sure, it’s common knowledge that Republicans will—I mean, they do take campaign contributions from everything, everyone and every corporate PAC money and gas and oil industry money and all of these things,” Haaland said. “I think that my colleague [Omar], she has decided not to take campaign contributions from some folks. I mean, look, it’s not up to us to police what people say on Twitter, you know, with respect to that. I have never witnessed any of my colleagues promote or speak or, you know, allude to anti-Semitism.”
This contradicts several Democrats who criticized Omar for peddling the common line of anti-Semites that Jews pay off Congress members to support Israel.
Bolduan pointed out that AIPAC isn’t a political action committee (PAC) that supports politicians and returned to the question of whether some Democrats are right to criticize Omar.
“Right. I mean, I don’t have—I don’t have a comment on that currently,” Haaland said.
“Because you don’t think the comment was anti-Semitic?” Bolduan asked.
Haaland then claimed she had not read the tweet and had only just now heard of it.
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on Monday defended Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D., Minn.) tweets decrying AIPAC and what she suggested was the pro-Israel organization’s improper influence on Republican lawmakers.
“So, let us get this straight. It is ‘Anti-Semitism’ to point out that the most powerful political moneybags in American politics are Zionists who put another nation’s interest (israel’s) over that of America ??????” Duke wrote in response to a tweet from Nikki Haley. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations had responded to Omar’s tweets from Sunday with condemnation.
The current brouhaha over my rhetoric glosses over the most significant point of all: I declare myself to have only warm feelings for Jews, and insisting that I am something other than what I proclaim myself to be represents a denial of my autonomous selfhood and constitutes oppression. And you can guess what group stands to benefit from that.
You cannot simply take my words and their implications to characterize my intentions, character, or motives. That leaves out the most important element of all: if I do not identify as an antisemite, who are you to determine I am one? What holds true for gender – or any social construct – holds true for antisemitism. So stop distorting things: I can wallow in antisemitic tropes all I please and you may not call me antisemitic. That is for me to decide.
It goes further, however. If at some point I did identify as an antisemite but I do not right now, calling me antisemitic is deadnaming. I decide who and what I am at any given time; no one else may do so. Declaring me antisemitic because of an antisemitic statement I made yesterday or the day before, let alone years ago, violates my right to self-identify, no matter how many old tweets of mine anyone can dig up that indulge in age-old negative stereotypes of Jews. I mean, I even took care to replace “Jews” with “Israel” or “Zionists” to distance myself from such accusations, but my opponents are so focused on demonizing me they didn’t care! Who’s the bigot now?
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) wrote in 2006 an op-ed for the Final Call, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s publication known for espousing anti-Semitism.
Tlaib’s piece focused on how legal immigrants should not be deported for minor criminal offenses, according to a report from journalist Jeryl Bier. At the end of her article, the now freshman congresswoman is identified as an “advocacy coordinator of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) in Detroit.” Tlaib has not written in the Final Call since then.
Tlaib has come under fire since her election to Congress for ties to individuals and groups that have espoused anti-Semitic views. In January, she attended a private dinner after her swearing-in with Abbas Hamideh, a “Palestinian right of return” activist who has called Israel a “terrorist entity.” Hamideh has also tweeted that Israel has a “delusional ISIS-like ideology” and that the creation of the country was a “crime.”
In late January, Tlaib advocated against Sen. Marco Rubio’s (Fla.) bill concerning Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, which would allow state and local governments to boycott companies that boycott Israel. Tlaib called the bill an “anti-First Amendment, anti-speech bill,” in an interview for the Intercept‘s “Deconstructed” podcast.
On her first visit to New Hampshire, Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren failed to dispute the characterization of Israel as an apartheid state.
A potential voter, 74-year-old Bill Monza, who turned up for a Warren event in Dover, New Hampshire, asked the candidate what she thought of Israel’s West Bank settlements and “basically an apartheid situation in Palestine now,” according to a report by journalist Ira Stoll, who attended the event.
Warren neither endorsed nor disputed the apartheid claim.
“Israel lives in a dangerous part of the world where there are not a lot of liberal democracies,” Warren said. “We need a strong Israel there.”
But she noted that “a good ally is an ally that promotes peace” and supports basic humanitarian efforts.
Last May, Warren was one of 13 senators who signed a letter calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.” (h/t MtTB)
An upcoming Reform Jewish conference will host Al Sharpton, who built his career on anti-Semitism and corruption. Apparently, to the Reform movement, his hatred for Trump trumps his hatred for Jews.
Not everything falls at Sharpton’s feet. But ideas have consequences. And these ideas have poisoned part of one generation and are now infecting the next.
As to his historical anti-Semitism, some say Sharpton has outgrown his past. We could perhaps entertain that conclusion if Sharpton addressed his misdeeds and asked his victims for forgiveness during his Obama-era makeover. But this so-called “reverend” is not repentant. The best we can say is that after cable television executives insisted upon – and bought and paid for – Sharpton’s good manners, he has had the good sense to stay bought.
So how can Sharpton be among Reform Judaism’s guests of honor? Good question. I called Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. He declined to comment. So I will.
Rabbi Jacobs and his leadership team are political with a fervor that exceeds anything they seem to devote to Hebrew or Torah study. They see Sharpton as a key bedfellow in the anti-Trump alliance as well as a bridge to the African-American community. Jacobs’ team thus chooses to see Sharpton Version 2.0, the recently minted civil rights leader, celebrity and power broker. Sharpton’s sordid past is off limits.
By contrast, we see and will always remember Yankel Rosenbaum. May his memory be a blessing.
Steven Sackur of HardTalk thinks he’s tough on everyone. But when it comes to the Middle East he’s out of his depth dealing with the Palestinians and Israelis. He’s a wimp with one and a bully with the other. Guess which?
In the UK, a group of artists – Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Vivienne Westwood, Mike Leigh and others – appealed to the BBC to boycott the Eurovision 2019 because it is to be held in Tel Aviv.
And I mentioned only the cases which came out during the last week. These confirm the presence in the West of a new kind of virulent anti-Zionist: smiling, wealthy, humanitarian, thirdworldist and leftist entertainers.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Julie Burchill last week asked the right question: Why do liberal luvvies hate Israel so much? “Maybe because Israel is so small its opponents have some weird notion that it can be easily broken, which would also explain how they seem less inclined to go after the massive monoliths of China, Russia and the Muslim Middle East and their vast abuses of human rights, in typical coward-bully fashion”, Burchill wrote.
A new anti-Jewish poison circulates in the wealthy and chattering European classes. In Cannes, the famous Danish director Lars von Trier called Israel “a finger in the …”.
Thus, in the heart of civilized Europe, with the complacency and collaboration of eminent cultural, artistic and intellectual personalities – Burchill’s “clapped-out Equity branch of the Israel-hating hordes” – the exclusion of the Jews is being openly praised.
As @UNICEF celebrity ambassadors & supporters, I am hoping u can speak out against this @Alyssa_Milano @Angie_Harmon @Pink @LucyLiu @TeaLeoni @Aly_Raisman https://t.co/EHVoWLK7Wx
— Ozraeli Dave (@Israellycool) February 10, 2019
Hey @IntJudoFed, when are you going to punish #SaeidMollaei of #Iran for his disgraceful lack of sportsmanship? https://t.co/EpKIE95juo #JudoParis2019
— Ozraeli Dave (@Israellycool) February 10, 2019
In a recent conversation about antisemitism in Britain, an Israeli journalist commented, “Of course you won’t see antisemitism in the British media.” That assumption – however logical it may seem – is, sadly, not correct.
While the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the British government and many other countries, the world’s biggest and most influential media organization, the BBC, still does not work according to that – or any other – accepted definition.
Viewers of BBC coverage of events following the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher supermarker terrorist attacks in Paris in saw an interview with a French-Israeli woman who expressed concern about Jews being targeted in France.
The BBC journalist promptly retorted, “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.”
Accepted definitions of antisemitism include “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” However, the BBC rejected the many complaints subsequently submitted, taking it upon itself to define what is and what is not antisemitism.
The BBC repeatedly fails to properly identify antisemitism in British politics, and has facilitated the amplification of antisemitic tropes such as “the Jewish lobby.” When the BBC has decided to explain antisemitism to its audiences it has more often than not promoted the Livingstone Formulation (the accusation that a person raising the issue of antisemitism is doing so in bad faith and dishonestly), stating, “Others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with antisemitism to avoid criticism.”
The Community Security Trust’s report on antisemitic incidents in the UK during the first half of 2018 includes a photograph showing antisemitic graffiti reading “Jews kill children,” found in the town of Leicester in May 2018. Why would such graffiti, with all of its medieval overtones, appear in 21st-century Britain? In late 2012, the BBC vigorously promoted a story claiming that the infant son of one of its own employees in the Gaza Strip had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Four months later, a report issued by the UN stated its investigation found that the child’s death had, in fact, been caused by “a Palestinian rocket that fell short.” However, the damage caused by the BBC’s widespread promotion of an unverified story had already been done, and the following year, anti-Israel demonstrators were seen in London carrying placards bearing an image from that story with the slogan “65 years of murder.”
The word “Juden!” was spray painted in yellow across the window of a bagel shop in Paris.
The vandalism was discovered on Saturday morning on a Bagelstein shop in the 4th District of Paris.
Many Parisians took to Twitter to express their horror, the French-language Huffington Post reported.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted late Saturday night “An anti-Semitic tag in the middle of Paris. One too many. ‘Juden’ in yellow letters, as if the most tragic lessons of history no longer enlighten our consciences. Our answer: To do everything to condemn the author of this ignominy. Our honor: Do not let him get away with it.”
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called the graffiti “dirty anti-Semitism in the streets of the city of light.”
Fourth District Mayor Ariel Weil, who is Jewish, tried to treat the incident with humor, tweeting: “Not offended by some nostalgia of the Reich and Vichy. We enjoy humor, bagels and view. And you?
The managers of the restaurant filed a police report on Saturday, according to LeParisian. Police came immediately to the restaurant in the center of the capital, according to the report. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
A vandalism attack at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England is being treated by police as a hate crime.
Three separate chapels at Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Whitefield were damaged, two stained-glass windows were smashed, several sinks were damaged, and the cemetery surveillance system was stolen, the Manchester Evening News reported.
In addition, dozens of headstones reportedly were damaged and the grave of a prominent Manchester rabbi was smashed open, according to reports.
The attack happened sometime between Friday afternoon and the early hours of Saturday, police told the Manchester newspaper.
The damage will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. A crowdfunding page set up in the wake of the attack raised more than $9,000 in the first 17 hours.
Detroit Shiite Imam Bassem Al-Sheraa: The Jews Prostituted Their Women, Killed Prophets
On January 27, 2019, an antisemitic lecture by Michigan-based Shiite Imam Bassem Al-Sheraa was uploaded to the YouTube channel of the Al-Zahraa Islamic Center, which is in Detroit. Al-Sheraa said that the Jews have distorted sacred texts and sanctioned the killing of prophets such as Jesus and John the Baptist. He accused the Jews of employing tricks and fraud in matters of religion and morality, and of amassing gold and spreading usury. Explaining that usury is a “peculiar Jewish philosophy,” Imam Al-Sheraa said that the Jews have used it as a means of attaining power, even though it contradicts their religious teachings, and that even the modern banking system is based on the Jews’ “instructions and vision.” He further said that Jewish women have historically established and managed “dens of female iniquity” and headed the brothels of Europe, and that the Jews allow their faith to be passed down maternally so that their women could increase the Jewish population through prostitution. Al-Sheraa is a graduate of the Najaf Hawza in Iraq. He emigrated to the United States and serves as the imam of the Al-Zahraa Islamic Center of Michigan. He also founded the Scholarly Najaf Hawza in Northern America – Michigan.
Italy without tomatoes, Ireland without potatoes and the United States without filter coffee – these are all unimaginable culinary nightmares.
To these scenarios we can add a world devoid of basil, meaning no pesto, no Caprese salad and no yummy fresh leaves mixed into our salad or melted with butter onto steaming hot garlic bread. The horror!
And not an inconceivable horror, either. Recent years have seen severe damage to sweet basil crops all over the world following a downy mildew epidemic that causes deformed leaves and chlorotic lesions.
Luckily, a new Israeli invention is on hand to ensure we can all continue to stir the delicious fresh herb into our pasta.
The severity of the downy mildew epidemic, which first appeared in Israel in 2011, led researchers from Bar-Ilan University and seed specialists at Genesis Seeds to investigate how the leaf fungus is transmitted.
“Basil worldwide has been afflicted in recent years by a new disease that can’t be treated with chemical spraying because of regulation,” says Prof. Yigal Cohen, an Israel Prize-winning researcher at Bar-Ilan University.
“Therefore there was a need to find other ways to overcome the disease.”
“To this end we went down the genetic route – that is, we searched for genes that are resistant to the disease,” he explains.
Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of a new daily flight route between London’s Heathrow and Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airports, starting on September 25.
The five-hour flight – the company’s shortest from the UK – will operate on Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A330-300 aircraft and offer in excess of 180,000 seats per year across all classes between Tel Aviv and Heathrow, the world’s seventh busiest airport. Tickets will go on sale from February 25.
“Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming. And as one of the world’s leading tech hubs, we’re anticipating many business travelers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK,” said Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.
“We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US-Tel Aviv market, using the strength of our transatlantic joint venture with Delta, to offer customers from Tel Aviv a wide range of US destinations connecting through London Heathrow, including New York and San Francisco.”
In addition to carrying customers, the new route will enable Sir Richard Branson’s airline to offer an expedited cargo service from Tel Aviv to the US for goods such as fresh produce and electronic products.
Harem, the Reshet drama series based on a real-life Israeli cult, has been bought by the SBS Australian public broadcaster.
Reshet announced Monday that SBS had purchased the first season of the show, which includes eight episodes. The series, starring Alon Abutbul, is based on the real case of Goel Ratzon, a polygamist cult leader who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014. Ratzon, a native of Tel Aviv who had more than 30 “wives” and close to 50 children, was eventually convicted of rape, incest, sex with a minor, fraud, slavery and other charges.
The series Harem, which premiered on Reshet 13 last year, is based on the autobiographical work Women of the Harem, by Maayan Smadar, who was one of Ratzon’s victims. The show also stars Chen Amsalem Zaguri (Shadow Government), Asi Levi (BeTipul) and Shira Haas (Foxtrot, Shtisel). In the series, lead character Shabtai, who imagines himself a spiritual leader, lives on a commune with more than a dozen women he has lured with grand promises of healing and understanding.
The series won critical acclaim in Israel, and Abutbul was nominated for a best actor award by the Israeli Academy of Television. The series was created by Anat Barzilai, Hadar Galron and Gadi Taub and produced by Endemol Shine.
Last year, Reshet announced it was commissioning a second series of the show.
The shimmering musical “The Band’s Visit,” based on an Israeli film of the same name about an Egyptian band that accidentally winds up in a dusty Israeli backwater, won a Grammy Award on Sunday for best musical theater album.
The award was one of a series announced during the pre-telecast.
The show centers on members of an Egyptian police orchestra booked to play a concert at the Israeli city of Petah Tikva but accidentally ending up in the drowsy town of Bet Hatikva in the Negev Desert. Over the next few hours, the townspeople and the musicians learn about each other and themselves.
Last year it was the big winner at the Tony Awards, capturing the best musical award and nine other prizes, including leading actor, leading actress, orchestration, sound design, original score, best book of a musical, lighting and featured actor.
Neerja Bhanot’s story is one of tragedy but also of exemplary bravery at the highest level.
Imagine yourself a flight attendant. You just landed at your destination, then all of the sudden you, your plane and all of those you are deemed responsible for are overrun by four armed terrorists. What do you do?
On September 5, 1986, Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked on the ground at Karachi Airport in Pakistan by Palestinian terrorists led by the Abu Nidal Organization, a terrorist organization backed by Libya, in the hopes using the leverage to pick up and release a number of Palestinian prisoners held in both Cyprus and Israel.
As the plane reached the tarmac, the four hijackers, dressed in the clad of the Pakistan Airport Security Force, made their way to the boarding stairways of the flight and on board the plane armed with assault rifles, pistols, grenades, and plastic explosive belts.
The flight as scheduled was to depart from Bombay, India to later arrive in New York with scheduled stops in Pakistan and Germany. The plane was waiting for the new passengers scheduled to join the flight in Karachi as the plane was subsequently overrun by the hijackers.
Bhanot’s defining moment came on September 5, 1986, which consequently led to the end of her life, but not without recognition.
As the hijacking commenced, Bhanot had the presence of mind to alert the pilots in the cockpit that the cabin was under distress – allowing the three-member crew to escape leaving the plane immobilized and unusable for the terrorists onboard.
What would Anne Frank’s life have looked like if she had survived the Holocaust? Would she still be alive today, at age 89?
An Italian production company is working with Anne Frank Fonds, the Dutch foundation established by her father in the 1960s, to create a new film exploring that idea. The film began shooting last month.
According to Variety, the documentary will focus on five women who survived the Holocaust but also experienced “deportation, suffering and being denied their childhood and adolescence.” The filmmakers said they want to “be able to render/reveal that desire for life and youth that was also Anne’s and that allowed her to fight fear and resist, even under the most inhumane conditions.”
The documentary, titled #Anne Frank Parallel Stories, is being created to mark what would have been her 90th birthday this summer.
The film’s two directors, Italian TV journalists Sabina Fedeli and Anna Migotto, told Variety that the documentary will be “retracing Anne’s ‘places’ and ‘locations,’ so that audiences will be able to get to know her through several significant passages from her diary, and enter her world; the real as well as the imaginary.”
The life of Anne Frank, a young Jewish woman from Frankfurt, Germany who lived with her family in hiding in Amsterdam for more than two years during the Holocaust, has been turned into countless films. In 1944, Frank and her family were discovered and sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died of typhus in 1945 at age 15.
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