February 29, 2024

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03/01 Links: Israel’s Sheba Medical Center named world’s ninth best hospital; Israeli MDs give free counseling to coronavirus patients worldwide


From Ian:

Israel’s Sheba Medical Center named world’s ninth best hospital
Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer has been named the ninth best hospital in the world by leading US magazine Newsweek, climbing one place since last year’s rankings.

The hospital, located east of Tel Aviv, is Israel’s largest medical facility and cares for approximately 1.6 million people annually. The hospital is also home to more than one-quarter of all Israeli clinical research.

The weekly magazine cited the hospital’s collaborations with biotech and pharmaceutical companies worldwide to develop new drugs and treatments, in addition to research specialities including cardiology, cancer, brain diseases and genetics.

The Rochester-based Mayo Clinic led the global rankings for a second year, followed by Cleveland Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital. Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, also known as Ichilov Hospital, was named the world’s 34th leading hospital.

Tens of thousands of medical professionals were invited to participate in the survey ranking the world’s best hospitals, which also took into account results from patient surveys and other medical performance indicators.

Other leading hospitals included Toronto General Hospital, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Johns Hopkins Hospital, University Hospital Zurich and Singapore General Hospital.

Israeli company develops rapid diagnostic kit for COVID-19

Israeli company BATM of Hod Hasharon announced that its biomedical division has developed a diagnostics kit to detect coronavirus from saliva samples in less than half an hour.

CEO Dr. Zvi Marom tells ISRAEL21c that the test is compatible with the current hospital-based method for diagnosing COVID-19, reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) – a type of gene sequencing that takes about eight hours.

“This kit has undergone testing by several central laboratories and hospitals that have now verified its ability to diagnose COVID-19,” says Marom, referring to the disease caused by coronavirus infection.

Marom, who has degrees in medicine and in industrial electronics, said BATM already has an advanced diagnostics kit that detects SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The COVID-19 aspect will be added to that kit.

“BATM is working with academic and research institutions, mainly in Europe, to progress the kit to make it at a price point suitable for large-scale production,” says Marom. “The kit, which supports all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, has already received interest from customers in several countries.”

By next year, BATM expects that the test will be commercialized as part of its NATLab doctor’s office solution using artificial intelligence and individual disease cartridges to diagnose bacterial, viral or fungal infections within 90 minutes. For now, only meningitis can be diagnosed with NATLab, produced by BATM subsidiary Ador Diagnostics in Rome.

Israeli MDs give free counseling to coronavirus patients worldwide

Thanks to a new social-action project, Chinese coronavirus patients were able to ask Israeli primary care physician Dr. Rachel Libenson Vansh how to maintain proper health and hygiene while confined at home.

Using a Zoom video link over China’s Weibo social network, Libenson Vansh answered their questions in English with immediate translation into Chinese.

This remarkable setup, which took place over a week ago, was the first in a series of interactive video broadcasts spearheaded by Israeli organization Innonation, which links talents, companies and organizations across borders through its hubs in Israel and China.

One hundred Israeli physicians have volunteered to speak remotely with quarantined COVID-19 patients on topics of concern — such as family and children; dermatology (including sensitivity to protective masks); diet; psychology (as well as dealing with anxieties); pregnancy; and signs of serious illness that require immediate attention.

Figures today show the COVID-19 virus has infected 86,584 people in more than 60 countries and caused 2,976 deaths. Many people who have been put into quarantine, or are self-isolated at home, are worried and fearful and have many questions about their situation and how to look after themselves.

“The health systems in countries affected by the coronavirus are under tremendous pressure. They find it difficult to deal with the medical needs of people living under quarantine and with the general population that fears going to clinics and hospitals,” says Amit Gal-Or, who cofounded Innonation in 2016 with his father, Amir, and brother, Raz.

Kahlon: Israel coordinating with PA to contain coronavirus outbreak

Israeli authorities are working closely with their counterparts in the Palestinian Authority to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Sunday, emphasizing that the virus “does not stop at checkpoints.”

“We are in contact with [the PA] because the virus has no borders, and doesn’t know to distinguish between ethnic groups, religions or nations,” said Kahlon, chairing a ministerial committee formed to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus. “The virus does not stop at checkpoints and therefore coordination with the PA is important to us.”

Kahlon said he had spoken directly to his counterpart in the PA, Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, and coordination was being carried out through the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Among the ministers attending the meeting was Labor and Welfare Minister Ofir Akunis, who emphasized the importance of coordination with the PA and continuing the important flow of 60,000 Palestinian workers into Israel on a daily basis.

“So far, the crisis has not had significant consequences on a macroeconomic level,” said Kahlon. “On a microeconomic level, we are already witnessing a blow to specific sectors, and it is feasible that this will expand. We are assessing the possible damage to industry resulting from a lengthy shortage of raw materials from China and Far East destinations. Significant damage has already been identified in the airline sector, including an impact on Israeli airlines and the entire tourism industry.”

Israeli Chemtai Salpeter wins Tokyo Marathon amid coronavirus fears

Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Tokyo Marathon Sunday, a race that was scaled back as part of Japan’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Salpeter finished the race in 2 hours 17 minutes and 45 seconds, setting a new women’s record for the course. She beat second-place finisher Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia by 50 seconds.

The finishing likely punches Salpeter’s ticket for the 2020 Olympic Games in the same city, and sets her up as a strong contender for a medal.

The score is the eighth-best of all time in women’s marathon, and only five others have ever completed a race in a better time. It shaved more than two minutes off the Israeli national record, which had also belonged to Salpeter.

Born in Kenya, Salpeter moved to Israel in 2011 and fought for citizenship for years. She eventually received Israeli citizenship in March of 2016 after winning the Tel Aviv marathon, allowing her to compete for Israel in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shortly after the birth of her son, Roy.

Israeli cycling competitors depart UAE after coronavirus scare cuts event short

Teams taking part in the abandoned UAE Tour began leaving Abu Dhabi on Sunday after being quarantined amid a coronavirus scare.

Among participants was a group of Israeli cyclists who were the first from the Jewish state to take part in the event.

Israel’s Start-Up Nation team said it left with a “clean health bill and all” after the three-day drama.

One of the top cyclists in the race, Britain’s Chris Froome, was also headed home along with members of his Team Ineos, after being in lockdown at their Abu Dhabi hotel since Thursday when two Italian staff members with one of the teams tested positive.

“All our riders and staff now leaving UAE after being given the all clear. Thank you to all those who have helped us and looked after the Team over recent days,” the team said on Twitter.

Movistar Team, including 2018 world champion Alejandro Valverde, also tweeted that its members were cleared and on their way to Madrid.

“The pleasure of going home after several days spent at the hotel,” Valverde tweeted.

The UN blacklist and a lesson on corporate responsibility

First, engaging in BDS involves blatant discrimination on the basis of nationality and ethnicity, and US anti-boycott regulations under the 1977 Export Administration Act and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act prohibit such behavior. Violation of these, and similar regulations, carry heavy administrative as well as criminal penalties in state and federal courts throughout the country, and so succumbing to the UNHRC’s pressure campaign could expose a company to expensive legal challenges.

Second, boycotting Israel in a discriminatory fashion violates the fiduciary duties of loyalty and care that officers and directors owe a corporation. The duty of loyalty requires decision-makers to put the welfare and best interests of the company before their own personal interests and feelings, and the duty of care requires them to reasonably consider the impact of their decisions on the company’s prospects. Boycotting Israel is, at the simplest level, bad for business. 27 states already have anti-BDS legislation in place which would block those states from doing business with companies engaged in BDS. Losing money in the service of controversial and potentially illegal ideological stances cannot be justified under any theory of good corporate governance.

Finally, the companies on the blacklist are almost all public and are required to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission and send disclosure documents to investors and shareholders setting forth material risk factors affecting the company. A model disclosure for a company that suddenly decided to divest based on the UN blacklist campaign would probably look something like this: “Investment in our securities involve serious risks, because we are engaging in a boycott that targets Jews and the Jewish state, in violation of applicable laws, and for no corporate or business objectives. We are uncertain as to whether future political considerations will affect our business in other areas, and we may outsource decisions on this matter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, despite its known biases and lack of any authority or expertise whatsoever. We may incur significant liability and cost in defending the company against litigation and enforcement actions responding to our violations, and will likely incur loss of business from jurisdictions that have anti-boycott provisions in place.”

As a matter of basic principle, American companies should be allowed to make their own choices about their partners, investments and relationships and not be coerced by a discriminatory subset of the UN into altering these decisions. The UNHRC blacklist carries no legal significance in either international or domestic law, but, as outlined above, can carry legal ramifications for companies who engage in BDS activities. The blacklist promotes blatant discriminatory business practices on the basis of nationality and ethnicity that are deeply offensive to American values and contrary to public policy, which is why there has been bipartisan condemnation of its publication by US lawmakers. Directors should think twice before they submit to corporate extortion and blackmail. This is especially true when conforming would hurt the very people the perpetrators are pretending to protect, not to mention a company’s own reputation and bottom line.

Pence, Pompeo, Bloomberg and Biden to address AIPAC conference

The annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will open on Sunday at the Walter E. Convention Center in the nation’s capital. Some 18,000 people are expected to attend, including 4,000 students, making it the highest attendance ever.

Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker this year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will address the conference as well.

This year’s policy conference is taking place during two significant political events both in the US and in Israel: Super Tuesday in 14 states and general elections in Israel that will take place on Monday. This time frame put AIPAC between a rock and a hard place: no senior Israeli politician will attend the event – but both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz will send a video speech.

Similarly, presidential hopefuls will have a hard time making it to the conference. AIPAC confirmed on Friday that former vice president Joe Biden and Senator Amy Klobuchar are expected to send a video speech as well. The only candidate expected to speak live at the conference is former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. Both front-runner Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren made it clear they are not interested in speaking at AIPAC, triggering a controversy about the relationship between the progressive side of the Democratic Party and the pro-Israel lobby.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will speak live at the conference, as well as their respective House colleagues, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. Kevin McCarthy. A few foreign leaders will attend the event, as well: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz; Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez; Félix Antoine Tshisekedi-Tshilombo, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid; Alejandro Giammattei, president of the Republic of Guatemala and Aleksandar Vučić, president of the Republic of Serbia.

Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar to address AIPAC by video

Three Democratic presidential candidates are now on the speakers’ list at this year’s AIPAC conference, after the Israel lobby group allowed Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to deliver video messages.

Four years ago, the group rejected an offer from Bernie Sanders to deliver a message by video during his first campaign for president. At the time, it explained that it had changed its rules to bar all video speeches that year.

But this year, with the major conference for Israel supporters coinciding with Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold their primary elections, only one candidate, Mike Bloomberg, had been confirmed to speak before Friday.

Sanders cited concerns about AIPAC when declining to speak, and Elizabeth Warren did not push back against a question that criticized AIPAC when she told an audience earlier this month that she would not be attending.

But Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg had explained that their busy campaign schedules had informed their decision not to attend. Meanwhile, Biden had previously said that he would be open to speaking but had not said whether he actually could.

DC Attorney Suing Trump, Netanyahu, Kushner, Cuomo, AIPAC, Miriam Adelson, on Behalf of ‘Palestinians’

Attorney Martin McMahon, of Martin F Mc Mahon & Associates in Washington, DC, last week filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 13 “Palestinian and American activists (among them the Dawabsheh family, three of whose members perished in a fire in 2015)” accusing President Donald Trump and his Middle East adviser Jared Kushner of “violating Palestinian civil and human rights.”

The suit also names Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Miriam Adelson, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – to name but a few (there are 13 more, including Ariel Sharon’s consigliere Dov Weissglas).

In 2019, McMahon filed a different lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages from “those who enabled the settlements and the settlers to commit war crimes, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and denationalization,” according to Janet McMahon (not related), a writer for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. The lawsuit was dismissed the District Court in DC, which was overturned by the DC Court of Appeals and sent back.

McMahon’s new, 175-page lawsuit, says, among other things, that “if AIPAC was active during the colonial days, patriot Tom Payne would have been hanged for advocating independence for the colonies.”

He further elaborates: “The indigenous American Indian population and the African slaves brought to America have been victimized by these identical war crimes. Each group has been subject to ethnic cleansing, genocide, expropriation of private property, confinement to reservations and ghettos, wholesale denial of their fundamental freedoms, subjected to a biased criminal justice system, and deemed to be irrelevant and disenfranchised members of American society.”

Canada asks ICC to drop Israeli war crimes lawsuits

Canada asked the International Criminal Court not hold hearings regarding Israeli war crimes lawsuits, its Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The country holds that the ICC does not have the jurisdiction to hear such cases and wrote a letter stating this to the court before the February 14 deadline for such submissions.

It was one of seven countries to send a letter clearly stating that the ICC lacked jurisdiction in this matter. The other countries which did so are Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Uganda and Brazil. Australia also wrote a letter on the matter, but did not state its position. Israel has said that Australia intends to weigh in on its behalf.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize the accession of such a state to international treaties, including the Rome Statute. In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law,” Canada’s Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post via Email.

“In 2015 and 2018, Canada submitted this official position to the International Criminal Court,” the ministry said. “On February 14, Canada submitted a letter reiterating its position to the ICC. The ICC Prosecutor herself referred to Canada’s position on Palestinian statehood in her request to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC.”

No country has written individually to the court on behalf of the Palestinians. But the Arab League, which represents 22 nations – as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 member states – both wrote to the ICC in support of its jurisdiction to hear such lawsuits.

UK Ambassador to Israel joins EU counterparts for meeting to slam Israel’s construction plans

Eight ambassadors from Europe, including the UK Ambassador to Israel, have met with together with Israel’s Deputy National Security Advisor and slammed Israel’s plans to construct new housing in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Ambassadors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom met on Thursday with Israel’s Deputy National Security Adviser Reuven Azar in Jerusalem.

German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer tweeted following the meeting that she and her counterparts “stated their grave concerns about announcements of the Israeli authorities regarding new settlement units in the occupied West Bank & East-Jerusalem, particularly in E1 area, Givat HaMatos & Har Homa.”

UK Ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, retweeted the statement. The UK Embassy in Israel also made the same statement on its social media accounts.

On Tuesday the UK went as far as condemning Israel for its decision. Something CUFI strongly disagrees with our government on.

On Friday, European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also criticized Israel’s plan to build new settlement homes.

Seth Frantzman: After 18 years of war, Taliban gets US to leave

It is unclear what the US gained in Afghanistan. It could have probably left in 2003 and the situation would have been largely the same. But there are questions about leaving some American forces there and what those forces will do. Can leaving behind thousands of troops keep the status quo? Is that the policy?

When Washington says it has a time frame for leaving, all the enemy has to do is wait. That is largely what countries like Iran have already been doing in Iraq and Syria: biding their time until the US leaves. They can read US media reports as well. They know the end goal of the current US administration is to withdraw and get locals to do the fighting. The US also wants to reconsider operations against extremists in Africa. The Taliban can judge the way the world is drifting and they sense it is drifting in their direction.

It may not be a one-way street. India and some countries don’t want Afghanistan to be run by the Taliban or fall into anarchy. Even countries like Iran and Russia that might have seen the Taliban as a good choice to humiliate the US, don’t want a new “caliphate” in Kabul. They will want to keep the Taliban in a gilded cage, check their advance or force them to moderate.

The Taliban of the 1990s made a toxic alliance with Al Qaeda, which is what brought the US to Afghanistan after 9/11. The current older and supposedly wiser Taliban may not want to host groups like Al Qaeda, because the world has changed and extremist groups have become more like ISIS. The Taliban, so far, don’t like ISIS. So this may mean the mistakes they made in the 1990s, of exporting extremism, may end.

This is the model that Hamas and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have adopted. If the Taliban only set up an extremist state in part of Afghanistan, they will be seen as “moderates” and be allowed to crush the hopes of people in their areas, so long as they don’t set the whole region aflame. The relaxing talks at the Sheraton in Doha seem to indicate that this is their near-term plan.

Defense minister admits for first time Israel behind November Syria strike

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett revealed in a television interview broadcast Saturday for the first time that Israel was behind an airstrike in Syria in November that killed the son of a senior commander of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

The unsuccessful attempt to kill Akram al-Ajouri had come less than an hour after Israel killed PIJ terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata in his home in the Gaza Strip, sparking an intense round of escalation during which hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli civilian communities.

The Israel Defense Forces and the government did not comment at the time on the Syria strike, and it has thus far only been attributed to Israel by the PIJ, Syria and foreign reports.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets over the last several years, but does not generally comment on specific attacks.

However, Bennett, who became defense minister just after the November 12 strikes, made the admission during a Channel 12 interview, which was recorded on Friday.

“As I entered the position we eliminated Baha [abu al-Ata] and struck in Damascus,” he said. “I am explaining that thus far, when they fired [rockets] from Gaza, we responded in Gaza. When they fired from Gaza we would not eliminate terrorists from Damascus.”

Turkey launches military operation against Syrian regime

Turkey said Sunday it was pursuing a military operation dubbed “Spring Shield” in northwest Syria after regime airstrikes on Thursday killed 34 Turkish soldiers.

The Syrian military threatened to down any aircraft over northwest Syria after Turkish drone strikes killed dozens of pro-regime forces in the embattled region.

“Syrian military high command announces the closure of the airspace for planes and any drone above northwestern Syria and especially above the Idlib region,” state news agency SANA reported a military source as saying.

“Any aircraft breaching our airspace will be treated as enemy aircraft that needs to be downed and prevented from carrying out its goals,” the source said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish drone strikes killed 26 soldiers in northwest Syria on Saturday.

That brought the number of soldiers killed in Turkish drone strikes and bombardment since Friday to 74, said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria.

Two Syrian war planes downed as Turkey begins operation against Assad

Two Syrian fighter jets were downed by Turkish fighter jets on Sunday in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, as Turkey began a wide-scale military operation against the Assad regime in response to last week’s killing of 34 Turkish soldiers, according to Syria’s SANA state news agency.

The two Syrian pilots managed to deploy their parachutes and land safely, according to the Syrian military. SANA reported earlier on Sunday that the Syrian army had downed a Turkish drone over the town of Saraqeb in the Idlib region of northwest Syria.

Turkish Defense Minister Şule Akar announced the operation, named Operation Spring Shield, vowing retaliation against any attack on Turkish forces or observation posts in Idlib under Turkey’s right to self-defense.

“Some 2,200 Syrian regime troops, a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, tens of howitzers, and three air defense systems were neutralized,” Akar said of the newly announced operation.

“We do not aim to face off with Russia. Our only aim is to stop the Syrian regime’s massacres, radicalization and migration,” he added.
Akar continued his plea for Russian assistance, saying that “Turkey expects Russia to use its influence to bring an end to the Syrian regime’s attacks, and its withdrawal to the Sochi-deal borders.”

Earlier, Syria’s army declared the airspace over northwest Syria closed to planes and drones, pledging to down any aircraft that violates it, state media said on Sunday, shortly before reports of the downed drone began surfacing.

“Any aircraft that violates our airspace will be dealt with as an enemy aircraft that must be brought down,” state news agency SANA said, citing a military source.

UN Watch: Syria elected to UN forum on protecting people from abuse

The same Syrian government now indiscriminately bombing four million of its own civilians in Idlib was elected to a senior post on a United Nations committee in charge of upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples.

The 24-nation forum seeks to “decolonize,” among other places, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

A watchdog group is criticizing UN chief Antonio Guterres for his blessings delivered last Friday before the 24-nation committee, which counts Iran, China, and Russia among its members, as it reelected by acclamation the genocidal Syrian regime’s UN representative Bashar Ja’afari to a leadership post.

“I cannot stress enough my personal and sincere commitment to your work, which I continue to follow closely,” said Mr. Guterres to the forum. “I will remain alongside you as you make another push to eradicate colonialism once and for all… I wish you every success for this 2020 session.”

UN Watch, the Geneva-based human rights group, is calling on Mr. Guterres, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, and the EU’s UN ambassadors to condemn the world body’s “absurd and morally obscene” election of Syria to a UN committee that is supposed to protect people from abuse — a propaganda victory that is already being trumpeted by the Assad regime.

Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari was re-elected as Rapporteur, February 21, 2020.

The election of Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari took place last Friday in the 2020 opening session of the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization.

Iran general on Pete Buttigieg: ‘Sad’ that gay man has chance at US presidency

A general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has derided the “decadence” of American culture, citing the presidential candidacy of Democrat Pete Buttigieg, who is openly homosexual.

During an interview on Iran’s Channel 5 translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Gen. Mostafa Izadi described homosexuality as animalistic behavior.

“The West is in crisis. Isn’t it sad that a candidate for [US] president — I am ashamed to say who — He is a homosexual. [Isn’t it sad] that such a man presents his candidacy for president?”

Izadi, head of the Guards’ Cyber and New Threats Division, added: “And on top of that, he stands a chance [to win]. This is real decadence.”

In Iran, gays and lesbians can face lashings or death sentences if convicted. Human rights groups estimate that over 4,000 gays have been executed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Famously, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd at New York’s Columbia University in 2007 that “in Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

Israel’s UN ambassador tells AIPAC Bernie Sanders is an ‘ignorant fool’

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Sunday assailed US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as an “ignorant fool,” two days before a key test for the Jewish frontrunner when primaries will be held in 14 states in Super Tuesday.

At a conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Danny Danon made the daring remark — which could be construed as Israeli interference in the election process in the United States — in reaction to Sanders recently calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “reactionary racist.”

“Whoever calls the prime minister of Israel a ‘racist’ is either a liar, an ignorant fool, or both,” Danon said. “We don’t want Sanders at AIPAC. We don’t want him in Israel.”

Out of all the Democratic candidates running for president, Sanders has been the most outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, calling for an “evenhanded” US approach more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Last Sunday, Sanders said on Twitter that he would not attend the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference, emphasizing that he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”

In a debate last week, Sanders said that “right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country.”

Iceland to send another anti-Israel representative to Eurovision

The participation of Iceland’s Hatari in the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv is remembered for their anti-Israel claims and showing of the Palestinian flag, for which they have been fined by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). And it seems that Iceland will be repeating the same course this year.

On Saturday, Iceland held a pre-Eurovision competition to choose their representative for the 2020 Eurovision in Amsterdam. During the show, Hatari made a guest appearance, hosting Bashar Murad, an east Jerusalem resident.

The show began with Murad singing with the band standing behind him. In the background, the Palestinian flag was showing on the screen.

The show’s winner and Iceland’s representative for the 2020 Eurovision is Daði Freyr Pétursson with his band Gagnamagnið. Daði Freyr signed a petition in 2019, calling Iceland to withdraw from the competition in Tel Aviv as a protest “against the occupation.”

“We can’t imagine taking part in the fun that is Eurovision with a clear conscience while the Israeli state and their army use such terrible violence against the Palestinian people,” Daði Freyr tweeted from the band’s Twitter page at the time.

No, Guardian. There isn’t a right-wing US push to “ban criticism of Israel”.

A Guardian article (New York: college volleyball players kneel during Israeli national anthem, Feb. 29) by Victoria Bekiempis began straightforwardly enough:
Two Brooklyn College volleyball players kneeled during playing of the Israeli national anthem at a game against Yeshiva University, a private Jewish educational institution in New York City, earlier this week.

In doing so the players, identified as Hunnan Butt and Omar Rezika, seemed to echo similar examples of athletes making political protests during the US anthem, most notably the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

However, then it threw in the following political ‘context’:
Reports of the incident surfaced amid a rightwing push to ban criticism of Israel and the occupation of Palestine at US public universities. Brooklyn College is a public institution.

This claim is also included in the strap line of the article.

If you open the link, the claim that there’s a “rigthwing push to ban criticism of Israel” takes you to a 2019 Guardian article “Revealed: right-wing push to ban criticism of Israel on US campuses”. However, the article shows nothing of the sort. The ‘shocking’ email in question obtained by the Guardian is merely an exchange between pro-Israel activists who pushed for a Florida bill known as HB 741.

In response to rising anti-Semitism, NY’s Cuomo proposes domestic terror law

Responding to rising anti-Semitism in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several proposals to combat hate, including one that would create a first-in-the-nation domestic terrorism law.

The law would classify mass violence motivated by hate as a felony punishable by up to life in prison without parole. It’s part of a legislative package dubbed “No Hate in Our State.”

Cuomo’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 would allocate an additional $25 million in security grants for institutions vulnerable to hate crimes and $2 million to the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force.

According to the Governor’s Office, the proposal also would require New York City public schools to implement a new curriculum that “teaches civic values and the State’s rich history of diversity and religious freedom,” require every student to visit a Holocaust museum and task the Battery Park City Authority with developing a plan to expand the Museum of Jewish Heritage on the Holocaust.

In Jerusalem, Candidate for Top Post in Germany’s Ruling Party ‘Ashamed’ of Antisemitism

Armin Laschet, premier of the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, on Sunday pledged strong action by his country against antisemitism, and racism in general, at home.

“I am ashamed that we are experiencing this once again in Germany, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz,” Laschet said in Jerusalem, referring to antisemitic and right-wing violence.

It was in Germany’s national interest to safeguard Israel’s security, said the 59-year-old, who also toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute and met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

“But it is also a national interest to guarantee the security of Jews in Germany,” he added.

Laschet’s visit was meant to signal that Germany was a “strong state, with a strong civil society, that would fight racism, antisemitism, and discrimination.”

Rivlin called Laschet a “great friend” of Israel and one of the most important and promising personalities within the ruling Christian Democrats. Israel has been following the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as well as the latest right-wing and antisemitic incidents in the country with concern, he said.

Antisemitism Commissioner Criticizes German University’s Eva Braun Lecture

The German government’s antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, has criticized the Technical University of Braunschweig for a planned lecture on Hitler’s lover Eva Braun.

Klein called the planned lecture in a series about women in world history “completely incomprehensible and ahistorical,” as reported by the Sunday edition of Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

The university strongly rejected the accusation that it was encouraging Nazi ideas: “In the end result, this is a contribution against right-wing extremist legends,” it said in a statement.

At the same time, the university distanced itself from the title of the lecture, which was “‘… I, the mistress of the greatest man in Germany and on Earth …’ – Comments on Eva Braun.”

“That people feel offended by the title of the event, which is indeed ineptly worded, for that we are sincerely sorry,” according to the university. The lecture was ultimately cancelled due to illness.

The university added that it is now being considered how the researcher behind the lecture, who is known to have integrity, can explain his work, which is “namely to critically reflect on why a historically insignificant woman like Eva Braun still receives a lot of media attention to this day.”

Croatia hosts art exhibition in memory of Holocaust victims

Croatia hosted an art exhibition in memory of Holocaust victims last week, featuring about 30 paintings and graphic works from Meer Axelrod’s “Nazi Occupation” series.

The exhibition in Zagreb is a joint project of the Russian Embassy in Croatia, the Alexander Pechersky Foundation, the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, Shira Gallery, Rossotrudnichestvo Representative Office in Croatia and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

The series, created between 1942 and 1943 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, has never been displayed together, as the works were kept by the artist’s family and experts were not even aware of its existence.

Axelrod was banned from artistic life in the Soviet Union, but continued to paint works about Jews and the fate of Jews in pogroms and the Holocaust. The works in this series not only show the horrific condition of life under Nazi rule, but also resistance and partisans, such as the only lifetime portrait of Alexander Pechersky, the leader of the uprising in the Sobibor concentration camp.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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