April 13, 2021

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03/01 Links Pt2: Tenenbom: In the Land of the Free, the Brave Are Quiet; Phillips: Denial is a river in Londonistan


From Ian:

Tuvia Tenenbom: In the Land of the Free, the Brave Are Quiet (EXCERPT)
The following is an excerpt from theater director, author and journalist Tuvia Tenenbom’s newly released book, The Lies They Tell, an account of the Americans he encountered on a cross-country trip to meet with people from all walks of life: from ghettos to gated communities, from churches to Indian reservations, talking to skinheads and senators, soldiers and intellectuals — to get to the bottom of how they think, and why. In the passage below, he describes a New York experience.
What a show! Here I hear a lady, by the name of Suhad Babaa, who talks of “Palestinian boys killed in broad daylight by Israeli soldiers” as an example of the brutal and lawless Jews. The audience, liberal American Jews, applaud. Don’t ask me to explain.
Amira Hass, a Haaretz columnist, tells these American Jews: “Anybody who intends to emigrate to Israel is about to commit a crime.” The Jewish state, if you didn’t know, is a criminal state.
The Jews applaud.
Bridget Todd, a black lady who is associated with Black Lives Matter, shares the stage with Amira. What is she doing here? I can’t tell, but it’s definitely an effective visual tool to illustrate to Americans what the Jews are doing worldwide: murdering non-whites.
What else do I see here? Roger Waters is sitting in the front row of the main hall, being glorified by a Haaretz fellow who tells him how pleased he is to see such an important man at this conference. Roger, co-founder of the old favorite English rock band Pink Floyd, is still in the music business. But besides music, he has some other things on his mind, such as comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and engaging in endless activism against Israel.
The Jews here love him for that. And they applaud at the mere mention of his name.
This conference is called HaaretzQ, where the “Q” stands for question, but nobody is questioning anything. Everybody here has the answers, all the answers. And they talk. The forty-niners say, for example, that Jewish Voice for Peace, whose activists I met while in DC and by whom I was told that I’m a fat, filthy Jew, is an exemplary organization.
All in all, it is bizarre to watch. Every time someone says that the Jews are horrible, are criminals and thieves, one thousand American Jews applaud.

David Collier: Kings. Apartheid Week watch day two: Beauty and the beast

As I was doing my homework for the event at Kings, the information I received all pointed in one direction. All eyes were going to be on Farid Esack, a veteran anti-apartheid activist and Professor from South Africa.
Esack is a man who welcomed his “comrade” plane hijacker Leila Khaled, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, at a fund-raiser in 2015. He also said of the attack in Paris
“”I am not praying for Paris; I am not condemning anyone. Why the hell should I? I had nothing to do with it.. (Then).. I am sickened by the perpetual expectations to condemn. I walk away from your shitty racist and Islamophobic expectations that whenever your chickens come home to roost then I must feign horror.”
This man was on display at a London university. How could I resist?
Given the participants, Kings had apparently refused to permit this to take place on campus. It seems the Student Union stepped in to ‘save the day’.

Melanie Phillips: Denial is a river in Londonistan

Ever since 9/11, Whitehall has been dominated by those who want to take the path of least resistance over the problem of Islamic extremism. In 2014 Theresa May, now Prime Minister but who was then the Home Secretary, and Michael Gove, the then Education Secretary who commissioned the Clarke inquiry, spectacularly fell out over mutual accusations that the other had failed adequately to combat Islamist extremism. At the heart of that row lay the dominant Whitehall thinking, espoused by Mrs May but strongly opposed by Gove, that the problem was not extremist attitudes but merely extremist violence. Mrs May won that bout.
Since then, government thinking has shifted in the right direction. It now acknowledges that it’s not just violent extremism that’s the problem but non-violent extremism – the attitudes that create hatred and fanaticism and swell the seas in which violence swims.
But it still refuses to acknowledge that non-violent extremism is driven by Islamic religious fanaticism. As a result, the government’s anti-extremism policy is paralysed because it can’t agree what extremism is. There are other signs that Theresa May still doesn’t get it. The inquiry she set up into sharia courts, for example, has been designed merely to tinker with marginal improvements rather than address the fundamental problem of having a parallel legal system inimical to British values.
This refusal to acknowledge the religious driver of Islamist extremism was of course a signature motif of the Obama administration. So it is extremely troubling to read that the new National Security Adviser, General HR McMaster, has reportedly said that the term radical Islamic terrorism is “counter-productive” and even that Islamic terrorists are “unIslamic.”
If the people we entrust to protect us against the threat posed by religious fanaticism cannot even bring themselves to agree that it is indeed religious fanaticism, they will not protect us at all but will assist our enemies instead.

Fake news and the shame of Israel “apartheid week”

There has been a lot of talk about “fake news” these past few months. But no event illustrates the problem of dishonesty in political discourse more clearly than the annual round of Israel bashing attending “Israel Apartheid Week”.
It is already underway in Britain, and there will be repeat performances across the world through to the middle of April.
Tragically, universities are at the forefront. It is tragic because universities are institutions which, if they stand for anything, stand for the pursuit of truthful intellectual discovery.
Positing an outright lie at the heart of a campaign and then bringing it inside the confines of a university contradicts the very essence of what the academy is about. Apartheid, a system of enforced segregation based on white supremacy, simply does not exist in Israel.
Checkpoints and roadblocks that do exist are there solely because of the very real problem of terrorism. Calling such counter-terrorism measures apartheid is an insult not just to Israel but to black South Africans who endured one of the most demeaning political systems of the post-War era.

Is Israel an Apartheid State? [from 2016]

Michael Lumish: This Week on Nothing Left

This week Michael Burd and Alan Freedman report back on the event held for PM Netanyahu in Sydney last week and play a vox pop with some celebrities we encountered on the way out. We then speak with retired academic Prof Bill Rubinstein on the Trump travel ban, and continue this discussion with Israeli blogger Brian of London.
We hear from expat NZ journalist Michael Kuttner in Israel, and of course, catch up with Isi Leibler in Jerusalem, plus more.
3 min Editorial: Netanyahu event
7 min Vox pop: Edwin Black, Alex Goodman, Rowan Dean, Sandy Guttman[aka Austen Tayshus]
14 min Prof Bill Rubinstein on Trump travel ban
27 min Brian of London, [Israellycool ] Israeli blogger
51 min Michael Kuttner, [ J- Wire] expat NZ journalist
1 hr 29 min Isi Leibler, Jerusalem, speaks about Israel media reaction to Bibi visit

Mizzou students arrested for anti-Semitic harassment

Campus police at the University of Missouri arrested two students Monday for anti-Semitic harassment.
In a letter addressed to the campus community, Interim Chancellor Dr. Hank Foley said the students targeted “community members” but did not offer additional details as to when and where it occurred.
Foley said the case is being handled by the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office. The students have not been charged.
The students could face disciplinary action, including expulsion, the chancellor said.
Fox 2 News will have more information on this story as it becomes available.

IAW 2017 Deconstructing the Israeli Apartheid Week poster 2017

If you have recently visited a university, college or in not a few cases a church you have probably seen the latest Israeli Apartheid Week poster. You will find quite a change of public approach from the IAW Israel Haters. Yet as far as I am aware no one has analyzed it in-depth.
The normal IAW approach is to show an unarmed, kheffiya-draped child or helpless old man or woman in traditional garb victimised, seemingly for no clear reason, by an Israeli tank or helicopter. The issue was never the libelous claim of apartheid. Lebanon, whose limitations on Palestinians comes far closer to the South African version of apartheid is ignored. The issue is presented as defeating a bully.
No matter how much the internal Palestinian message, glorifying knife and car attacks, suicide and regular bombers and every kind of violence labeled as resistance, is spread through a controlled media, the mosques and the schools it didn’t appear in IAW graphics. Not until now.
Just about every graphical representation of Palestinians is present in the posters with no distinction. From top-right they fight the Zionists from the trenches with rifles; demonstrate with banners in 1948; leave in the ‘Nakba’; join the masked militias ( a more neutral term than engage in terrorism); dance dabka† perhaps even with a Jewish collaborator (it’s hard to tell because his kippah might simply show baldness); educate the children; write and distribute propaganda (call it debate, if you will); throw rocks; demonstrate with posters and megaphones in the modern day and then finally presumably return to the homes their great-grandparents left in ’48.

Columbia U Students Launch ‘Hebrew Liberation Week’ to Counter Anti-Israel Efforts, Empower Jewish Students

A “Hebrew Liberation Week” installation at Columbia University to counter an anti-Israel “apartheid wall.” Photo: Liat Goldfarb/Facebook.
To counter a series of annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” events, a new program initiated by a grassroots advocacy group at New York’s Columbia University seeks to “empower Jewish and pro-Israel students to feel proud of their history, culture, identity and values,” an organizer told The Algemeiner.
Hebrew Liberation Week “is a positive celebration of the connection between the Jews and Israel,” said Rudy Rochman, president of the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), contrasting the negative messages repeatedly conveyed by certain elements on campus.
To this end, he said, a series of large canvases and panels, depicting various aspects of Israeli culture and history, were displayed on a campus square. These included artwork of IDF soldiers; a drawing of a young person dressed like the Lion of Judah; and a written description of the relationship between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The installation was purposely placed near an “apartheid wall,” glorifying violent “resistance” against Israel.
According to Rochman, reactions to the endeavor have been overwhelmingly positive. “Jewish students on both the Right and Left are absolutely shocked and amazed that something like this is possible at our school,” he said. “Causing many to come to our display instead of the ‘apartheid wall’ one.”

Hate After Death: Gerald Kaufman and “Virulent Zionists”

The recent death of long-serving British MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has generated numerous obituaries in the UK media. Kaufman, though Jewish, had a significant track record of vicious attacks on Israel, regularly going beyond legitimate criticism.
Other “highlights” include:
Calling Israel an “international pariah” and “rogue state;”
Urging economic sanctions on Israel;
Accusing Israel of exploiting Holocaust guilt to justify its actions in the Gaza Strip;
Comparing Hamas terrorists in Gaza to Jewish resistance fighters during the Second World War;

But the hate continues from beyond the grave. The Independent‘s obituary refers to Kaufman’s “courage” in promoting causes he was invested in (emphasis added):
The courage also showed more than once on the Israel issue. Kaufman protested at the entry to Britain in 1972 of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, co-plotter with Yitzhak Shamir in 1948 in the killing of 91 Arabs, Jews and British in the King David Hotel bombing. And in April 2002 he attacked Ariel Sharon in the Commons for his readiness resort to violence, racial prejudice against Palestinian Arabs and general unfitness for high office. As brave as true, it was a splendid defiance of the standard smear from virulent Zionists that that Jews criticising Israel are “self-hating”. Kaufman was Jewish, Leeds Jewish, Polish immigrant Jewish, even a Zionist, of a civilised and deeply troubled sort. He spoke as a proud Jew, but not proud of Israel under Sharon.

Labour Politician Suspended for Nazi Saluting UKIP Councillors

A Labour councillor has been suspended from his local party after throwing a Nazi salute towards local UKIP and Conservative politicians.
Police have been made aware of Plymouth councillor Jonny Morris’s actions, and a Conservative member said the gesture could be considered a “hate crime”.
Mr. Morris’s salute came during a meeting of the city council – run by the Tories and UKIP – to set its budget.
He has now apologised for his behaviour, claiming to have become “angry” after the councillors cut the debate on the budget short by calling for the vote to be taken, the Plymouth Herald reports.
The Labour man tweeted: “Would love to report debate on @plymouthcc budget. Blukip scared of debate, so they silence it. No debate. Total contempt by shysters”.

Flag returns to Israeli tennis player’s profile after ‘mysterious’ disappearance

Israeli tennis player Julia Glushko’s nationality is once more back by her name on the WTA website after disappearing together with the country’s flag ahead of her scheduled participation in the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur this week.
The organizers of the event had asked in advance that any sign linking Glushko with Israel be removed from the WTA website as a condition for her participation in the tournament.
Glushko, ranked No. 215 in the world, ended up pulling out of the event due to illness.
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev took credit for the return of the flag on Wednesday.
“The age when we were demanded to hide our identity ended 69 years ago,” Regev tweeted. “I’m happy that my demand to return the Israeli symbols to Julia Glushko’s profile was accepted.”
In 2009, a WTA event in Dubai was fined $300,000 for denying Shahar Pe’er a visa.

Will You Visit Us at Shiloh?

I found this at the Facebook page of America’s Consulate in Jerusalem:
U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem February 23 at 4:10pm ·
Where do you think the most Americans live in the West Bank? Today, Consul General Donald Blome visited the town of Mizra Sharqiya, where there are a very large number of Palestinian-American residents. The Consul General thanked the community for deepening the bonds that tie Americans and Palestinians together.

The Consul-General:
I wonder if he knows how many Americans live at various communities, villages, towns and cities in Judea and Samaria.
Or, for that matter, Jerusalem.
In any case, we will welcome him in Shiloh, if he decides to visit.

Protest in Toronto mosque that incited against Jews

Sandra Solomon is a resident of Canada of Palestinian Arab origin who grew up in Saudi Arabia as a Muslim, converted to Christianity and became a human rights activist and supporter of the fight against terrorism.
A week after participating in a demonstration against the Islamization of Canada outside a mosque in downtown Toronto, Solomon took advantage of an open day held by the mosque to convey a message to Imam Ahmed Shihab and to the local Muslim community.
Sermons given at the same mosque in 2015 and 2016 called on Allah to kill all the enemies of Islam, purify the al-Aqsa Mosque from the “defilement” of the Jews and support the mujahadeen.
Solomon entered the mosque wrapped in a tallit (prayer shawl) and read a written message, which tells the story of her life in Saudi Arabia, including her brother’s attempt to kill her because of “family honor”.
She turned to the members of the mosque and said, “I am a victim of Islam and it is my duty to warn others about its true face…three imams in Canada called for my execution…therefore, I would like to ask you: Can I criticize the Koran and Mohammed the founder of Islam without fearing for my life and for the life of my son?”

Facebook sued in mega court case NY federal court will hear Shurat Hadin’s suits against Facebook for encouraging terrorism

A huge court case will open Wednesday in the Brooklyn District Court in New York.The Shurat Hadin organization, representing families of terror victims, has submitted two federal suits against social media giant Facebook.
The suits were filed in the name of American citizens who fell victim to Hamas terror attacks. The plaintiffs claim that by providing resources, social media services and support for Hamas on Facebook site, the company has violated American anti-terrorism laws.
The two suits, submitted by attorney Robert J. Tolchin and attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner who heads the Shurat Hadin organization, deal with the illegal supply of Facebook services to Hamas and the use made by the organization of social media as a means to promote its murderous goals.
The first suit was submitted by the family of US army officer and Vanderbilt graduate student Taylor Force, who was murdered in an attack in Yaffo in March 2016. The second one is a class action suit representing 20,000 Israelis who are demanding that Facebook block users who encourage terror activity.

How the NYT Continues to Skew the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Part I: Reporting From an Off-Center Vantage Point
On Saturday, Feb. 25, the New York Times published an article about Israel’s denial of a work visa to Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Country Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). It also dealt with UN criticism of the prison sentence given to an Israeli soldier who shot dead a Palestinian assailant after he lay on the ground. Reporting was Ian Fisher, the New York Times’ relatively new Jerusalem bureau chief.
As is often the case with the New York Times, readers were not provided with an objective presentation of the facts from a neutral standpoint. Nor were they given sufficient information to allow them to draw an informed opinion on the matter. Instead they were presented with a view from an off-center vantage point where the Israeli government and courts are seen as extremists and wrongdoers while the controversial HRW and its staff are portrayed as honest and noble, and the UN is treated as an impartial source about Israel. The article was narrowly focused on the viewpoints of these biased sources about Israel, while omitting the larger story.
How Were the Players Presented?
* Human Rights Watch was presented positively as “a prominent advocacy organization” which “shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997” and which “works in 90 nations and has official offices in 24 of them.”
* Omar Shakir was described as “an investigator for HRW” who was accused of having a ‘pro-Palestinian’ bias.
* B’tselem and Peace Now were described positively as “rights groups” that “monitor Israeli settlements and the conditions of Palestinians.”
* The UN high commissioner for human rights was presented without any qualifiers.
By contrast, the Israeli government and leaders were depicted as ‘right wing,’ obstructionist and ‘hostile.’

No, Jonathan Freedland, anti-Zionism is not perfectly fine with us

It is, probably, a sad necessity, to repeat from time to time the old position statements. Not that the positions change too much, but people sometimes do veer from a position to position, tending to forget the last held one. As it usually goes.
This post is inspired by a stumble upon discussion between a staunchly anti-Zionist lady, Noura Erakat*, a vaguely pro-Israeli (Guardian journalist) Jonathan Freedland and other minor characters. The discussion was staged by Al Jazeera. Jonathan Freedland has already appeared on these pages, the other protagonist is more of interest. Ms Erakat is a lawyer, so one should be careful describing her… er… anything, but at least she doesn’t hide her anti-Zionism and her desire to see the proverbial Palestine “from the river to the sea”, if you understand what it means. If not, check out this short paragraph.
So why do I consider Jonathan Freedland to be vaguely pro-Israeli? If you scroll the recording below to about 9:55, you shall hear a response by Mr Freedland to the proud self-declaration by Ms Erakat as an anti-Zionist:
I think it is absolutely fine, and more than fine, of course it’s completely legitimate to hold the position she has…
Fine and legitimate? Maybe from your Guardian offices in London it is. Not from where I bother my keyboard. Because, and apologies for repeating the obvious:
Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.

UKMW prompts 3rd correction in 3 weeks to Times of London claim Tel Aviv is Israeli capital

Despite the fact that Times of London is, generally speaking, one of the better British news outlets when it comes to covering the politics of the region, they nonetheless are still often prone to committing curious errors in their Israel-related reports. Specifically, the painfully obvious fact that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital – and has never had that status – somehow continues to elude editors and journalists.
For the third time in three weeks – and the fifth time since last June – we’ve prompted a correction at Times of London over this erroneous suggestion regarding the status of Tel Aviv. The latest example involves a March 1st article by Gregg Carlstrom titled “Netanyahu lambasted by report on Gaza war”.
Here’s the original opening passage:
Binyamin Netanyahu kept intelligence about Hamas’s network of tunnels from his ministers, leaving Israel vulnerable during the 2014 Gaza war, according to a report from Tel Aviv’s top auditor.
After the correction:
Binyamin Netanyahu kept intelligence about Hamas’s network of tunnels from his ministers, leaving Israel vulnerable during the 2014 Gaza war, according to a report from the country’s top auditor.

Contrasting BBC portrayals of the Gaza Strip in English and in Arabic

At the beginning of February Tim Franks produced a report from the Gaza Strip (see here and here) which was part of a special feature for the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’.
Citing “stifling border closures […] the people here say are for collective punishment”, Franks painted a monochrome picture of dire poverty and deprivation:
Franks’ did not, however, clarify to audiences that his portrayal does not represent the whole picture.memri-
MEMRI has translated a filmed report (available here) produced by BBC Arabic in December 2016 on the topic of Gaza restaurants.
“BBC Arabic recently broadcast a TV report on restaurants in Gaza, in which it showed “an aspect of luxury, vibrancy, and riches” to life in Gaza. Restaurant owners and patrons talked to the reporter about eating out, describing the menus and the prices. A group of women sitting at a restaurant said that they would often come for “a coffee and a chat,” and that dinner would come to 250-300 dollars. The report aired on December 20, 2016.”
Notably, we have found no evidence of that report having been shown to English-speaking BBC audiences.

Anti-Semitic incidents rose 16% in Berlin in 2016

With a new report noting a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin, Jewish leaders in the German capital renewed their call for a federal commissioner to deal with the problem.
The Berlin-based Research and Information Office on Anti-Semitism, founded in 2015, reported Monday that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the city had risen by 16 percent in 2016 over the previous year. Most incidents were nonviolent but nonetheless threatening.
According to the report, a total of 470 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Berlin in 2016, including seven physical attacks.
A permanent federal commissioner would help ensure that the government does not drop the ball on fighting anti-Jewish hate, Deidre Berger, head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, said in a statement Monday.
She said people tell her they are increasingly fearful to be recognized as Jews in public. In many cases, Berger said, authors of threats hide behind the anonymity of the internet, creating a general atmosphere of angst.

FBI to probe apparent bullet hole at Indiana synagogue

The Federal Bureau of Investigations is probing an apparent bullet hole found in a classroom window at an Indiana synagogue as a wave of anti-Semitic attacks continues to sweep the US, media reports said.
Rabbi Gary Mazo of Temple Adath B’nai Israel in Evansville discovered the bullet hole on Tuesday morning and said he believes that the shooting occurred on Sunday, according to 14News.com.
Investigators are going through surveillance and increasing security. FBI officials said this will most likely be ruled a hate crime, the report said.
Mazo told the Indianapolis Star that the shooter would have had to walk around to the back of the building and fire into the classroom from the playground. The attack is believed to have occurred on Sunday night.
“We’re in this climate now where acts of hate are happening everywhere,” the rabbi told the newspaper.

UN peacekeepers in Africa using Israeli technology

The United Nations is using Israeli equipment, including an observation balloon and unmanned aerial vehicles, to protect its peacekeepers in Africa — despite the international body’s long history of hostility and hypocrisy toward the Jewish state,
Within the framework of its security cooperation with the U.N., Israel last year supplied the organization with sophisticated observation equipment, which is currently helping peacekeepers stationed in the Central African Republic.
Over the past year, the U.N. has carried out a secret pilot program aided by the Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Controls Agency. The equipment it has provided is being used by peacekeepers to guard outposts, carry out operations and gather intelligence.
U.N. officials and Israeli diplomats would like this cooperation to become more permanent and expand it to many other countries where U.N. peacekeepers are stationed.

Gerbi: ‘Include Jews in Libyan Constitution’

Fifty years after the last Jews were driven from Libya, Dr David Gerbi, representing the World Organisation of Libyan Jews, calls for justice and the rights of Libyan Jews to be included in a new constitution. The right to return is one of them. (Gerbi famously was thrown out of the country after trying to re-opem a Tripoli synagogue. ) Article in Libyan Express (with thanks: Gideon):
Representative of World Organisation of Libyan Jews (WOLJ) Dr. David Gerbi urges the international community on the issue of Libyan Jews.
The WOLJ call the authorities of the GNA, the Parliament, the leader of Benghazi governments, to respect the rights and heritage of Libyan Jews and how they should be secured by the new constitution on the issue of Libyan Jews that has been forgotten for fifty years (1967 – 2017).
We call for our rights that has been violated for 50 years. We call for the respect of our rights as Libyan Jews.

KPMG Urges Australia To Emulate Israel With More “Chutzpah”

In a report entitled Dial Up The Chutzpah, KPMG Australia has urged Australia to emulate Israel in developing AgTech startups.
In a new report called Dial up the Chutzpah! KPMG highlights the gaps between Australia and Israel in how agricultural technology is funded.
KPMG’s head of agtech, Ben van Delden, observed that the Israelis were not afraid to take risks.
“Chutzpah means the audacity to give something a go,” he explained.
“Who would have thought of greening the desert, because that’s the space where Israel produces 80 per cent of their milk, and 80 per cent of their food product is exported from.”

Fatboy Slim to break cultural and musical boundaries in Tel Aviv

Since the English DJ, producer/mixer/musician adapted the portly stage name in 1996, he’s gone on to win 10 MTV Video Music Awards and two Brit Awards and help popularize the beat genre, which still sounds fresh today.
Cook first rose to fame in the 1980s as the bassist of the much-touted indie rock band The Housemartins, who scored a UK number-one single with their a cappella cover of Isley-Jasper-Isley’s “Caravan of Love.” Following stints in a number of other groups, Fatboy Slim was born and Cook has never looked back.
Despite performing internationally from Ibiza to the Great Wall of China and generating worldwide hits like “Praise You,” “Rockafeller Skank” and “Weapon of Choice,” he’s never made it to Israel. That will change he makes his local debut over Purim at the Tel Aviv Port’s Hanger 11 on Sunday, March 12.

Up to 1,000 engineers in Israel said developing augmented reality for Apple

Apple may be developing augmented reality technology for its next iPhone iteration in Israel, according to a research note from financial services company UBS seen by Business Insider.
“According to some industry sources, the company may have over 1,000 engineers working on a project in Israel that could be related to AR,” the note reportedly said.
Augmented reality (AR) adds information to users’ environment, allowing them to interact with their surroundings and the people around them (think Pokemon Go). Virtual reality, meanwhile, disconnects users from their surroundings, often with the use of a headset.
“With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told The Independent last month. “I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone,” Cook said.

IDF Blog: The 3 coolest tech projects the IDF is working on right now

An AI first response
An emergency can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. But under stress, it can be difficult to remember who to contact. Enter the Blue Light chatbot: you just write it a message, and it automatically classifies the situation and notifies the suitable authorities – the IDF, police, firefighters or even the city council. If the bot doesn’t quite understand the situation or the location, it’ll ask more questions, just like in a real conversation.
IDF soldiers develop software at hackathonMr. Know It All
This bot’s purpose is to help soldiers and civilians with any army-related question they may have. Like any good student, it’s learning a step at a time. “We’re exposing the program to a lot of information, and then asking it questions about it,” Says Cpt. Nir, one of this project’s team leaders. “At first, the answer sounds weird and the words are kind of messed up, but as we keep explaining and teaching the program, it becomes more intelligent and capable of having a conversation, just like how a child learns.” The goal is to give answers to very specific and personal questions, so the more people use the chatbot, the more it’ll learn, giving more intelligent and helpful answers.
If these ideas weren’t innovative enough, a week later, the C5I officers course held their own Hackathon. This time, the cadets had more leeway for building creative and timely projects. For example:
Fake profile detector
About a month ago, Hamas tried a new tactic – Hamas operatives opened fake Facebook profiles to follow IDF soldiers and hack their phones. One Hackathon team decided to solve this problem at the source. They’re programming an app that can detect fake profiles by searching the web for their profile pictures and checking their friends list. If the picture is stolen, for instance, and if the suspicious profile’s friends aren’t connected in any way (are they from the same city or school? Do they share hobbies, or are they completely random?), the app can tell you it’s fake.

What Israeli and Canadian War Songs Have in Common

Israeli war songs, and even army slang, tend to be filled with horticultural imagery. Noting something similar in the way Canadians have memorialized World War I, Matti Friedman finds something universal:
[The Yom Kippur War] was behind one of [Israel’s] best-known memorial songs, written by a woman from a kibbutz called Beit Hashittah. Dorit Zameret wrote “The Wheat Sprouts Again” after the 1973 conflict consumed eleven men from her tiny community in the space of three weeks, a blow like the one suffered by those Newfoundland hamlets that lost all their young men on the first day of the battle of the Somme in 1916.
“The Wheat Sprouts Again” talks about the resilience of nature, which the author finds amazing and not entirely welcome. . . . This [sort of] language isn’t limited to Israeli songs. When I was drafted [into the IDF] at the age of nineteen and found myself serving as an infantryman in a small guerrilla war in south Lebanon, I discovered that the army’s radio code for casualties was “flowers.” Dead soldiers were “cyclamens.” . . .
The language I encountered here seemed unique. But just a few years before, [as a Canadian teenager], I’d been standing in a school cafeteria, the gray skies of a Toronto November out the window, reciting these lines, which I still know by heart, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row . . .”.

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