Tom Gross: The good news about Gaza you won’t hear on the BBC
I am not alone in thinking the BBC is not objective in its coverage. Even Lord Grade, the corporation’s former chairman, has accused the corporation of bias against Israel and said the BBC failed to give viewers ‘the wider context’ about the Palestinians.
This is not true of all BBC output: BBC Arabic will (like other Arabic language media) sometimes report on Gaza’s more prosperous side (see for example, this BBC Arabic report on restaurants in Gaza), in a way that most Western media (including the BBC in English) will not. Yet many Western journalists (and some diplomats) seem bent on painting a distorted picture of everyday life in Gaza, in what can only be seen as an attempt to portray Israel as some kind of monster-oppressor. (With Israel demonised in this way, no wonder anti-Semitic feelings in Britain are now running at an all-time high).
If the situation in Gaza is as bad as many Western journalists and diplomats claim, then why is Gaza’s life expectancy (74.2 years) now five years higher than the world average? I don’t recall any Western reporter mentioning that life expectancy there is higher than, for example, in neighbouring Egypt (73 years). Indeed, life expectancy in Gaza is almost on the same level as wealthy Saudi Arabia, and higher for men than in some parts of Glasgow.
In recent years, it has been difficult to escape reports of the dire situation in Gaza; former US president and Nobel peace prize laureate Jimmy Carter, for example, told us that ‘the people in Gaza … are literally starving’. Only three weeks ago, the lead front page story of the international edition of the New York Times contained further warnings about the risk of starvation. Meanwhile, Qatar’s own Al Jazeera is broadcasting analysis of the thriving consumer sector in Gaza’s economy, complete with restaurant owners discussing the expansion of their business to keep up with demand, and shots of plentiful fruit and vegetable markets.
Gaza’s thriving economy: Al Jazeera shows a side to Gaza that Western media won’t
Melanie Phillips: Damned if you do . . . and Trump and Netanyahu are certainly doing
Day in and day out, two men—two crucial world leaders—remain under a constant barrage of verbal attacks. They are subjected to an obsessional, unhinged and unprecedented stream of abuse, distortion, character assassination and malicious fantasies.
If you haven’t guessed, they are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald J Trump. The campaign against them signifies a cultural disorder in the West that borders on the pathological.
Netanyahu certainly has his faults. One might list arrogance, moral cowardice and his tendency to be a control freak. He doesn’t take criticism well. He has failed to organize his government to deal with the psy-ops war waged so devastatingly against Israel in the court of Western public opinion. And maybe, who knows, some of the multiple corruption charges against him will stick.
Yet his achievements are formidable. Netanyahu enabled Israel to survive the sustained attempts to weaken it by President Barack Obama, arguably the most hostile American president to date regarding Israel. Netanyahu has led the Jewish state to become a dynamo in the fields of technology and R&D in large measure because of his liberalization of the Israeli economy. He has opened up new alliances through the pivot to Asia. He has held the line against the Palestinian /European axis of attrition. And he is riding the wave of a new regional order involving alliances with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In Israel and among the Western intelligentsia, however, it’s hard to overestimate the loathing he provokes. His achievements are ignored or blatantly dismissed. Instead, he is blamed (ludicrously) for preventing a solution to the Middle East impasse. No less risibly, he was held responsible for Obama’s hostility for eight years running. He is said to be an incipient dictator, a racist ethno-nationalist and an “alt-Zionist.” These are not criticisms; these are ravings.
Over in the United States, Trump certainly has his faults. One might list his zero concentration span, his disregard for detail, his carelessness with accuracy, his reckless and compulsive tweeting, his coarse and bombastic talk, and his failure to take criticism.
Yet his achievements after only one year in office are formidable. He presides over a booming economy with huge job growth; he is restoring the rule of law to immigration; he’s rolling back regulation; he’s made stellar appointments to the judiciary; he’s forcing Saudi Arabia to reform; and is confronting Iran, the United Nations and the Palestinians.
It’s impossible, however, to overestimate the contempt and horror with which he is viewed. He is accused of being racist and anti-Semitic, of undermining the rule of law, of behaving like Mussolini. While not a shred to evidence supports the claims against him of colluding with Russia, there is mounting evidence that elements of the FBI and justice department under the Obama administration have acted illegally against him.
In December, Nikki Haley, the current U.S. ambassador to the UN, denounced the world body for its condemnation of America’s recognizing of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Her performance put many in mind of a 1975 speech given by her late predecessor, Daniel P. Moynihan, assailing the UN’s infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. Six years later, Moynihan returned to the same themes in a seminal Commentary essay, “Joining the Jackals,” in which he skewered the then-outgoing Carter administration for abstaining from two anti-Israel votes at the Security Council and for the generally craven attitude of its UN delegation. Greg Weiner, the author of a biography of Moynihan, revisits the statesman’s career in Turtle Bay and his commitment to Israel and to the West—and to the meaning of words. (Interview by Jonathan Silver. Audio, 31 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
In spectacular contrast, on 22 January, Dr M. Al Issa, the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, a Saudi-based Islamic organisation, wrote to the director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, expressing ‘great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust’, calling the Holocaust, an ‘incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.’ The significance of the letter cannot be understated given the prevalence of both Holocaust denial and glorification in the Islamic world. Yet as with Abbas’s ramblings and the Polish legislation, the Saudi letter was surely motivated by a deeper purpose. One suspects that for the Saudis, just as for the Polish Government and Abbas, the Holocaust is not a crime of unimaginable scale and barbarism, rather, it is something expendable, malleable, a literary device through which to signal virtues and stigmatise opponents.
Abbas admitted as much in response to a call from the Simon Wiesenthal Center requesting that he explain himself for his revisionism. Abbas responded, ‘When I wrote The Other Side… we were at war with Israel. Today, there is peace and what I write from now on must advance the peace process.’ Now, in a less conciliatory mood, mutilating the national tragedy of his foes is Abbas’s way of expressing his disgust and his nihilism.
For the Poles, as with much of Europe, the reality that locals were often only too happy to see the demise of their Jewish neighbours, undermines glorious national traditions and collective memories of pure victimhood and righteousness. This is the real reason for the latest attempt by the Polish government to ‘protect’ its history from prying eyes.
Taken at face value, the Saudi letter could constitute a watershed moment in Jewish-Muslim relations. Viewed more cynically, it’s a calculated attempt to ingratiate the Saudis to American Jewry by standing apart from the revisionists and deniers who infest the ranks of the Saudis’ bitter rivals in Tehran. Whatever the motives underpinning the Saudi letter, Abbas’s delirium and Polish attempts at revisionism by decree, the history of the Holocaust is a truth that cannot be altered and will forever overshadow humanity.
Yisrael Medad: Still Waiting Since 1939
During the opening of the May 22 debate in the House of Commons regarding the 1939 White Paper, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Malcolm MacDonald, said, regarding the the treaty contemplated by subparagraph (6) that “adequate provision has been made for: the security of, and freedom of access to the Holy Places, and protection of the interests and property of the various religious bodies”,
Finally, in addition, the unique characteristic of Palestine is that within its borders are Holy Places which are dear to millions of Christians, Moslems and Jews throughout the world. We could not give up our trust in Palestine without being assured that everything that appertains to them, and the right of their devotees to have access to them, are preserved for all time. It is indeed a tragedy that around those sacred shrines should be repeated in modern times the folly of human hatred, violence and dispute. The whole world yearns for peace in Palestine, but it cannot be secured unless each people in the present dispute is ready to give up some part of its demands and to pursue a policy of conciliation with its fellow-citizens in that country.
This was predicated on the 1937 Peel Commission Partition Plan:
Chapter XXII. – A Plan of Partition
…2. The Holy Places
The Partition of Palestine is subject to the overriding necessity of keeping the sanctity of Jerusalem and Bethlehem inviolate and of ensuring free and safe access to them for all the world. That, in the fullest sense of the mandatory phrase, is “a sacred trust of civilization”–a trust on behalf not merely of the peoples of Palestine but of multitudes in other lands to whom those places, one or both, are Holy Places.
Victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism have won a major victory in an ongoing lawsuit against the Islamic Republic.
The US Department of Justice told a Chicago court last week that it saw no overriding national security interest in preventing the plaintiffs from receiving information on Boeing’s recent $16.6 billion deal with Iran’s national airline, IranAir.
Boeing fought to stop the disclosure of any aspect of its secret deal with the Islamic Republic for fear that the money might be used to settle judgments in favor of the terror victims and their families.
One of the arguments used by the aircraft manufacturing giant was that disclosure could threaten former president Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and thus damage US national security.
The Department of Justice’s decision effectively invalidates Boeing’s claims.
In a statement, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, an NGO representing the victims in court, said, “Instead of adopting Boeing’s position that US foreign policy interests on this issue supersede those of terror victims, the government condemned the terrorist acts that gave rise to the case and reaffirmed its interest in US victims of terrorism being able to seek compensation for their injuries.”
Yisrael Medad: Wearing Out Peace
The Palestine Childrens Relief Fund (PCRF), which, it is detailed,
does promote a clear political agenda, based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization [and] Presents a biased and distorted view of the conflict, omitting Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians, including rocket attacks and terror tunnels, as well as Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.
has an arm called Wear the Peace which raises charitable funds through the sale of fashion items:
In case you missed it, a map erasing Israel and making it all-Arab
is not a peaceful statement.
Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb wrote in a 2002 post on his college newspaper’s website that the Israeli government committed “terrorism” and was intentionally targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The comments by Lamb, currently running for Congress in a special election taking place next month, were made in response to a pro-Israel ad published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, a University of Pennsylvania paper, which Lamb said was “disheartening to see.”
“It was disheartening to see the add [sic] in the DP the other day which read, ‘Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel,'” wrote Lamb in October 2002 as a student at UPenn.
Lamb went on to say Israel was targeting “innocent civilians” and guilty of “terrorism.”
“Just the other day, the Israeli Government launched an attack on innocent civilians in Gaza, citing them as ‘armed terrorists,'” Lamb wrote. “Among the dead were a 14 year-old boy and woman in her late 40s. The army intentionally fired on a medical facility treating the over 100 wounded.”
“There is no doubt that both sides of this conflict have committed wrongs, but if this latest attack is not terrorism, I don’t know what is,” he concluded.
Lamb’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on his Israel statement.
The comments by Lamb came during the spate of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israel by Palestinian terrorists during the Second Intifada.
In recent years, the government’s investment into efforts to minimize delegitimization campaigns against Israel has been on the rise. Thus, the BDS movement and similar organizations exercise a minor effect on the Israeli economy, which is in very good shape compared to the rest of the world thanks to increased investments and exports.
However, the government is currently witnessing that BDS is becoming more successful in other areas, especially in culture, academia and among professional unions.
This is obviously a source of concern.
It is true that a boycott by the Anthropological Society or the cancellation of the performance in Israel by an artist has no dramatic impact on the lives of most Israeli citizens. However, the general trend is serious. We live in a global era in which international networks set the pace of the economy. If Israel “disappears from the map” from time to time, the boycott will turn from an idea to a reality, and will filter into areas that heretofore have appeared to be immune.
In the struggle against the boycotts, which is first and foremost an effort to gain awareness, one of the most important tools at the disposal of the State of Israel is its support for international events in Israel.
Every day, thousands of small and large professional conferences and events are held around the world. In fields like technology or medicine, they are the highlight of the sector. It is in these events that professionals are exposed to critical developments, where headhunters go to acquire new talent, and where the biggest deals are negotiated and closed. Reports from these conferences appear in the economic and professional press, and visitors from around the world bend over backwards to try and secure participation.
Hosting professional conferences is perhaps the best answer to delegitimization because it can bring thousands of thought leaders from many fields, who then return to their countries with a stronger resistance to boycotting Israel. Such publicity can reach virtually every corner of the globe without any additional investment on our part, and will likely result in a series of initiatives and events that further reinforce Israel’s international standing.
The American-based New Israel Fund (NIF) has never hidden its mission to save Israel from itself, and its bedrock conviction that the chauvinist particularism of a Jewish State should be replaced with a more “democratic” state of its citizens.
Implicit in this posture is a belief that the enlightened folks at the NIF know better than we Israelis what is in our best interest, and even what is the moral high ground in any given situation irrespective of the real world considerations that would apply.
While we have seen time and time again the NIF supporting organizations that bolster BDS, accuse Israel of war crimes and slander Israel as an apartheid state, in its current hissy fit over the planned deportation of tens of thousands of illegal African migrants back to third party African nations, the NIF has thrown all decency to the wind.
The NIF has chosen to liken the illegal migrants to Holocaust survivors, with the clear and deliberate implication that Israel must be likened to the Nazis.
By doing so, and by standing by as its supported organizations use Holocaust-themed analogies such as demeaning the memory of Anne Frank, the NIF has clearly telegraphed that there are no red lines, there are no off-limits depictions, arguments or tactics.
A Norwegian lawmaker defended his nomination of the “legitimate, peaceful, non-violent” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“The BDS movement is a legitimate, peaceful, non-violent movement trying to push the Israeli government to abide by international law, and trying to struggle for a peaceful solution in Palestine and in the Middle East,” Bjornar Moxnes told the Middle East Eye news site in a Friday interview.
Despite targeting Israeli academics and business, he insisted the campaign is one aimed solely at the Israeli government and not at the Israeli people or the Jewish people.
The BDS movement was one of over 200 nominees for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, which can be proposed by a host of individuals, including parliamentarians from any country and university professors.
Responding to the nomination, Likud MK Sharren Haskel penned a letter to Norway’s Ambassador to Israel Jon Hanssen-Bauer along with several Norwegian lawmakers, expressing her dismay.
“There is nothing peaceful about delegitimizing a country’s academic and cultural institutions that are critical to creating an environment conducive for peace,” she wrote.
Yesterday’s palestinian “Cat Man” story really inspired me – to mock it even more! Heck, I cannot resist a ridiculous propaganda attempt.
So I thought I’d enhance it.
I’d say this is an improvement, wouldn’t you?
The Polish government has financed an online propaganda effort targeting Israeli web users in an attempt to sway public opinion, following tensions between Poland and Israel since Poland announced a new law banning statements alleging Polish complicity in Nazi activities in Poland.
When Israelis turned to Youtube on Sunday, they found their videos were preceded by an advertisement from Poland that dealt with an unusual issue: Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. The video also appeared as an advertisement on news websites and other outlets around Israel.
The film, created by the Polish National Foundation, was posted Saturday on the Youtube channel of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The film is in English, with Hebrew subtitles available to Israeli users, and claims that Jews and Poles faced the Nazi and Soviet occupations “together,” and that Poles treated Jewish citizens of Poland as “friends and allies.”
The interview below was conducted in response to a new Polish law that criminalizes speech recognizing any Polish role in the Holocaust; the possible sentences for violating this law include up to three years in prison.
The interview was conducted by Rochel Sylvetsky.
Q: What is the significance of Poles using the term “Jewish death camps”?
IR: The whole process of passing the notorious Polish law that aims to censor the narrative on World War II, the Shoah, and the activities around them, reveals the real face of modern-day Poland. And this face, in my opinion, is an ugly one.
Who could imagine that 74 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the world would hear the phrase “Jewish death camps” followed by the mocking question asking “who actually did run the crematoria?” in an exchange of ‘jests’ by two Polish authors on a TV broadcast dealing with the new law?
This new low of modern-day Polish antisemites is a qualitative change.
The bill’s provisions also make the export of kosher meat illegal. According to a statement released by the EJA on Sunday, the bill’s restriction on exporting kosher meat from Poland “would affect a very large part of the Jewish communities in Europe” because kosher slaughterhouses sell their products all across the continent and beyond.
The bill is expected to go up for a vote this week in the lower house of parliament. Under the bill, violators will face up to four years in jail. The latest controversy comes just a week after Poland passed a new law that makes it a criminal offense to blame Polish authorities or the Polish people as a whole for the atrocities of the Nazis during World War II. That law has led to tension between the Israeli and Polish governments. Last week the Polish president said he would refer the bill to the country’s constitutional court after signing it, which paves the way for additional amendments and challenges.
Margolin warned Sunday that the upcoming vote could be a bad omen for what lies ahead in the country. “The situation in Poland is unacceptable. I call on the government in Poland to avoid enacting this shameful law and to take into account that the Jewish people’s faith in the Polish leadership is deteriorating. I can’t imagine what the next stage will be after the Holocaust law and imposing restrictions on kosher slaughter in the country,” Margolin wrote on Facebook.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Sarsour Assures Jews Polish Mass Murder Of Jews Not Systemic (satire)
A leading Muslim women’s activist sought to allay concerns over her alleged lack of attention to murderous antisemitism in Nazi-occupied Poland this week by explaining that unlike other forms of prejudice, Polish collaboration with Nazis in the mass murder of Jews is not systemic.
Linda Sarsour, a prominent leader of the Women’s March and an advocate for the rights of Muslims, stoked controversy late last year with a comment that whereas Islamophobia and bias against people of color are entrenched in society, hate toward Jews is not embedded structurally in the culture, and therefore deserves less attention. She elaborated Sunday on her contention in the context of Poland’s recent legislation banning invocation of official Polish involvement in the murder of millions of Jews on Polish soil during the Holocaust, by noting that the hundreds of thousands of Jewish deaths at the hands of Poles during and after the Second World War should similarly not be treated as a deep-seated issue in Polish culture.
“There are more important forms of prejudice and hate to combat,” she stated in an interview. “Some places want to ban the hijab, threatening the freedom of religious expression for me and countless other Muslims, and a handful of agitators with a regressive agenda want to make people think collaboration with genocide is a serious issue. I’m sorry, but we have pressing matters of concern in this society, and I am not going to sit here and be dictated to by those who are probably white, male, and non-Muslim about what I should be fighting.”
“I don’t have a single antisemitic bone in my body,” she continued. “I understand that three million Polish Jews are dead, and that a large number of their Polish neighbors took eager part in the massacres and in turning Jews over to the Nazis, but that pales in comparison to the urgency of making Americans understand we have to stand up for the oppressed women in our inner cities, and under occupation in Palestine.”
France will return three paintings by the Flemish master Joachim Patinir Monday to the descendants of a Jewish family that was forced to sell them as they fled the Nazis.
The Bromberg family fled to Paris from Germany in late 1938 and the following year was forced to sell the 16th-century “Triptych of the Crucifixion” depicting Christ on the cross, along with several other paintings, so they could get to the United States via Switzerland.
The paintings are to be formally handed over to the descendants of Herta and Henry Bromberg at the Louvre Museum by French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen.
It is the second time in two years that the French state has returned despoiled art to the family.
In 2016 it handed over another 16th-century painting, “Portrait of a Man,” by one of the followers of Antwerp artist Joos van Cleve.
The Patinir paintings had languished for nearly seven decades unclaimed in the French state collections after they were recovered in Munich after World War II.
The triptych had been bought at a knock-down price after the German occupation of Paris and was destined for Hitler’s Fuhrermuseum in his home town of Linz in Austria, where he wanted to build “the ideal museum.”
A 24-year-old refugee, believed to be Muslim, was briefly detained by Belgian police for anti-Semitic hate crimes, including the destruction of at least 20 mezuzahs in Antwerp, local Jews said.
In recent weeks, the same man was filmed in Antwerp destroying at least 20 mezuzahs, religious objects containing a parchment with biblical text inked on it that Jews affix to their door frames, and vandalizing the entrance doors of several Jewish institutions, Joods Actueel, the Jewish monthly reported Sunday.
He was detained for 12 hours Friday based on footage from security cameras of him destroying the mezuzahs.
He had also placed a Quran near a synagogue, and was filmed knocking off the hat of an Orthodox Jew on the street. He shouted at Jewish passersby: “This is our land, Palestine!” and: “We will show you!”
The man was spotted hanging around an area of the city that is heavily populated by Orthodox Jews after his release Saturday, Joods Actueel reported based on information from Shmira, the Jewish community’s security service. (h/t Yenta Press)
Anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered Wednesday on the walls of a Barcelona synagogue, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
The word “pigs” was written in English, and near it was a sentence in Catalan reading “get out of the country.”
Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor Gerardo Pisarello ordered the graffiti erased and condemned the act, promising that the municipality’s department for fighting discrimination would help deal with the incident.
“Barcelona is a city which is proud of its differences,” he said in a statement. “We will not allow actions of intolerance.”
According to the report, the synagogue in question is no longer used for daily prayers, but is still used for community events, and serves as a cultural center and a museum.
World renowned Israeli author David Grossman was named Monday as a winner of Israel’s top civilian honor, the Israel Prize, for a “series of masterpieces” during his 35-year career.
Grossman, 64, is already one of Israel’s most celebrated writers, and the winner of three top Hebrew-language honors: the prestigious Sapir literary prize in 2001, the city of Tel Aviv’s Bialik literary prize in 2004 and the 2007 Emet prize for his contributions to Israeli culture. Last year, he won the Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, for his novel “A Horse Walks into a Bar.”
“I’m thrilled to have just told David Grossman that he won the Israel Prize for literature on the State of Israel’s 70th anniversary,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said at a conference in Jerusalem on Monday.
“Grossman is one of the most exciting, profound and influential voices in Israeli literature. With deep wisdom, sensitivity to fellow human beings and a unique linguistic style, he has become an internationally renowned artist. We are honored that he is one of our own,” Bennett said.
“‘Someone to run with,’ indeed,” the education minister concluded, in a reference to one of Grossman’s well-known novels.
The Israeli Wolf Prize will be awarded at the end of May to nine laureates in the fields of music and science, including legendary British rocker Paul McCartney.
The Wolf Foundation announced on Monday that it selected McCartney – who will share the prize with conductor Adam Fischer – for being “one of the greatest songwriters of all time.” McCartney’s songs, the prize jury noted, “Will be sung and savored as long as there are human beings to lift up their voices.”
The nine laureates – in the fields of music, agriculture, physics, chemistry and mathematics – are invited to a special ceremony at the Knesset hosted by President Reuven Rivlin at the end of May.
Until now, McCartney’s only appearance in Israel was in 2008, when he performed for a near-capacity crowd of 50,000 at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. During his stay, the former Beatles member, also visited the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Beit Sahur east of Bethlehem and met with representatives of the NGO OneVoice. At the meeting, McCartney said: “I’m not a politician – I just want to bring a message of peace.”
Fischer, who will split the $100,000 prize with McCartney, is recognized for his work as conductor of the Vienna State Opera, the Dusseldorf Symphony, the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra and many others, as well as for his political activism.
Within four weeks, the government will approve the immigration of 1,000 Ethiopians residing in Gondar and Addis Ababa, the Interior Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office told the State Control Committee on Monday.
Director-General of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority Shlomo Mor-Yosef and Deputy Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office Udi Praver said they submitted an urgent request to the Government Secretariat to discuss the matter at a cabinet meeting.
They informed the Chairman of the State Control Committee MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) that the approval would be given within four weeks for funds for the aliyah to be included in the 2018 budget.
In 2017, 1,308 Ethiopians immigrated to Israel, in accordance with the latest cabinet decisions on the issue, which stated that up to 9,000 Ethiopians could be brought to Israel by the end of 2020. A new cabinet decision is needed to allow for continued aliyah from Ethiopia this year.
The group of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate are known as known as Falash Mura, the name given to those members of the Beta Israel community in Ethiopia and Eritrea who – under compulsion and pressure from missionaries – converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Since their ancestors converted to another religion, they are not covered by the Law of Return, which grants the right to immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship to anyone with a Jewish grandparent. Instead they are brought according to the Law of Entry and are required to convert to Judaism once they are in Israel.
The path to peace in the Middle East might be navigated not via a dove carrying an olive branch but by a lowly barn owl.
Barn owls have been used in Israel since 1982 as an alternative to toxic chemicals for killing voles, which at the time plagued Israeli agricultural fields. The preferred chemical against rodents – known as compound 1080 – had been banned a decade earlier in the United States, although not in Israel.
Ornithologist Yossi Leshem thought that owls might be able to control the rodents more naturally.
Leshem set up an experiment at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in 1983. Three decades later, the barn owl approach has spread throughout the Palestinian territories and into Jordan as well.
“Birds have the power to bring people together, because they know no boundaries,” says Leshem, who teaches at Tel Aviv University.
That’s in part how 22 participants from 10 governments (including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Cyprus, Greece, France and Switzerland in addition to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan) came together in January to share research from their barn owl vs. rodent experiences.
The group met at the Crowne Plaza resort hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea where they discussed scientific findings and hatch plans. Field trips were organized to visit barn owl nesting boxes in the Jordan Valley, as well as to Amman and Petra. A follow-up in March will see some of the Middle Eastern researchers visit California State University in Sacramento, where they will be hosted by conservation biologist Sara Kross.
While the topic was formally owls, regional peace was never far from discussion.
“Scientists should continue their cooperation for the benefit and peace of people in the area,” emphasized Mansour Abu Rashid, who works with Leshem and directs the Amman Center for Peace and Development.
Pick up a basic guidebook on Jerusalem and it will have plenty of popular restaurant rankings and lists of facts and figures. What it won’t tell you is how to smell, taste and listen to the city of golden stone.
With the recently published “Jerusalem City Stories,” explorers can now ditch their smartphones and “Lonely Planets” to experience Jerusalem as a native. The guide weaves readers through hidden corridors and secret staircases towards the best cappuccinos and most authentic street food in town.
At times, Jerusalem can seem to be a city of disjointed sections, separated by Jews and Arabs or religious and secular. However, “Jerusalem City Stories” introduces readers to Jerusalem as a community of connected neighborhoods, each with its own flavor, but blended into one shared experience.
The guide combines short vignettes with dynamic illustrations of Jerusalem’s best spots to eat and experience, with plenty of empty space for readers to write and draw their own adventures into the book’s crisp pages.
The project was a three-way collaboration between friends sharing a love for the city and its people.
Eva Lavi’s earliest memories are of the Holocaust.
She remembers how her mother made her hide outside in below-zero weather, clutching a standing pipe, as Nazis searched her home in Poland. She remembers her father telling her to swallow a spoonful of cyanide — better than death at the hands of the Nazis — only to have her mother object at the last minute. She remembers seeing her twin cousins shot to death as they ran up a hill at a labor camp.
Lavi was 2 years old when Nazi Germany took over her hometown of Krakow in September 1939. Now 80, she wants to make sure her stories aren’t lost after she’s gone.
“There was no childhood for children my age,” she said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly following International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. “Regularly, we saw, heard, and understood everything the Nazis were doing to us. At 6 years old, children were cynical old people trying to survive.”
Lavi is the youngest survivor to have been on Schindler’s List, the Jews saved by German industrialist Oskar Schindler and immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film. Lavi was put in a ghetto in Poland with her family immediately after the Nazi takeover, transferred to a labor camp, and then to Auschwitz.
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