Melanie Phillips: The cutting edge of secular illiberalism
The chill winds of secular intolerance are blowing ever more strongly across Europe, with Jews now struggling against the blast.
A bill is being considered by Iceland’s parliament to ban circumcision for children under 18 years old. So here we go again.
Back in 2012, a court in the German town of Cologne ruled that the circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy constituted “bodily harm.” After an uproar, Germany hastily legalized ritual circumcisions if performed according to medical practice.
German objections to circumcision nevertheless did not die down. The Icelandic bill is drawing on increasing hostility within Europe to the practice. In Britain, a survey by the National Secular Society indicates that some 62% want Britain to follow Iceland’s example.
This is not the only attack on religious rites. There are bans on ritual slaughter in Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland and other European countries and jurisdictions.
Although these are attacks on Islam as well as Judaism, they threaten Jewish religious life most of all.
Muslims are more flexible over ritual slaughter by allowing a measure of animal stunning which Jews cannot permit.
Circumcision bans are most threatening of all to Jewish life because the circumcision of eightday old boys, or brit mila, is absolutely fundamental to Judaism.
In Genesis, God tells Abraham all his male heirs must be circumcised and any Jew who breaks this covenant will be cut off from his people.
Brit mila is the nonnegotiable marker of Jewish identity. More than any other practice, it can be said to have kept the Jewish people together throughout the centuries.
A country than bans brit mila is a country that effectively bans Judaism.
The when campaign to do what, you ask? You’re excused if the subtitle does not ring a bell, for Richman, a lawyer, talented author, and formidable researcher, has resurrected the failed and now-obscure effort to mobilize American Jews to create a fighting force against Nazi Germany.
On the surface, he relates a story about three grandees of Zionism – Chaim Weizmann, Zeev Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion – who traveled to the United States in the single year 1940 to arouse the world’s largest, richest, and freest Jewish population to concern itself with the horrors underway in Europe and to respond by supporting a Jewish army. Each of the three met with frustration because of a prevailing American mood of isolationism and a Jewish leadership fearful of getting out too far in front of general opinion.
But Richman’s real story is that of a heroic and visionary Jabotinsky, 59, then at the peak of his rhetorical and organization powers, versus not only the other two Zionist leaders, both too timid, but also against what a Jabotinsky assistant, Benjamin Akzin, more broadly called the “Society of Trembling Jews.” Jabotinsky had already organized the Jewish Legion as part of British forces in World War I; now he foresaw something of the terrible fate awaiting European Jewry, an insight even his most distinguished contemporaries (Louis Brandeis, Abraham Cahan, David de Sola Pool, Stephen Wise) were unable to fathom and furious at him for even discussing. Jabotinsky could have organized the noble, important, and necessary reality of a Jewish army drawn from the ranks of refugees, residents in Palestine, and others; but he suddenly died in August 1940 while visiting a Jewish self-defense camp in Upstate New York. With him died that army.
Richman’s tale reverberates with implications for today, when again a “trembling” Jewish establishment prefers to remain within the polite consensus than to have the imagination and drive to take on pending disasters. Be polite, they say, be patient, and things will work out. That approach failed in 1940; will it work today?
Even though it was a French plane, the movie (and history) focuses on Israel. “7 Days in Entebbe” reduces it all to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (the ubiquitous Lior Ashkenazi, great as always) as the prevaricating dove and defense minister Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan in odd makeup) demanding action.
When the movie eases up and lets these two men behave like human beings, the scenes work. Most of the time, unfortunately, they are forced to blurt out facile positions. The dialogue has all the subtlety of two people yelling at each other on Twitter.
It’s unfortunate because when Padilha is on sturdier ground, he does some creative things. The raid itself, led by Yonatan Netanyahu (Angel Bonanni) and shown through the eyes of a young soldier played by Ben Schnetzer, is riveting and exhilarating.
Schnetzer’s character’s girlfriend is a dancer in an experimental group, which is enough connective tissue to use the Batshev Dance Company, as choreographed by Ohad Naharin, as a recurring motif. At first you may not know what the hell these shots have to do with the movie, but by the end — well, it isn’t that spelled out, really. But it just seems to fit. Frankly, it is the most memorable and engaging part of the film.
What’s unfortunate is how every other moment with spark has to be reigned in by a conflicted creative team that doesn’t feel secure enough to call this moment what it really was — swift, direct action against grievous harm. The very first shots feature expository text: “They called themselves freedom fighters, the Israelis called them terrorists.” Why not just show the event, and even include the typical dialogue about villages ripped apart by encroaching Zionists, and let us figure that out?
Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s “Munich” is a masterpiece because it is both a ripping adventure yarn and a rumination about the endless cycle of violence. Its sprawling subject lends itself to that.
“7 Days in Entebbe,” however, would have been far better served to simply tell the story of what happened, not set a stage for political speechifying. Every other movie about Israel does that, you’d think if any story could stay focused on some glory it would be this one.
Abu Mazen is at it again, claiming that Palestinians are descended from the Canaanite tribe of the Jebusites. These claims echo those made by Yasser Arafat, Faisal Husseini and others before them.
A 1978 Palestinian encyclopedia asserted: “The Palestinians [are] the descendants of the Jebusites, who are of Arab origin.” The book also described Jerusalem as “an Arab city because its first builders were the Canaanite Jebusites, whose descendants are the Palestinians.”
This is interesting by itself, because the very term Arab, used as early as 800 BCE in Assyrian texts, applied only to inhabitants of the deserts of Arabia — not hill country such as the West Bank.
Such declarations should not surprise us. History is political. Many Middle Eastern cultures and states retroactively claim roots to the ancient tribes and empires in order to legitimize their modern nationalism. For instance, the Lebanese claim descent from the Phoenicians, Iraqis from the Babylonians, Kurds from the Medeans, and Turks from the Hittites.
I am not one of those who claim that the justification for a Jewish state is a Biblical promise. My justification is based on a documented historical, cultural and ideological association between a religious and culturally identifiable people and the land of Israel.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Why Do We Continue to Tolerate Louis Farrakhan?
In recent times, there has been one constant in antisemitism in America: Louis Farrakhan.
His lacerating speeches — over more than three decades — from his pulpit and perch at the Nation of Islam (NOI), have repeatedly placed Jews at the center of conspiracy theories blaming them for everything from controlling the banks and media, to engineering the slave trade.
The longtime leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan’s name has become virtually synonymous with antisemitism. He’s the pied-piper of hate.
His obsessive harping about the “evil, satanic” Jews and their supposed efforts to keep down African-American people, ironically, puts him in a similar category to white supremacists and others who traffic in some of the worst antisemitic stereotypes.
And yet Farrakhan is not entirely a fringe figure. He is a leader of a religious movement, draws thousands of attendees to his speeches, and fills auditoriums for his sermonizing. His popularity gives him the dubious distinction of being, quite possibly, the most popular antisemite in America today.
This all becomes timely because, last weekend, Farrakhan once again took center stage at the annual NOI Saviours’ Day convention in Chicago, where — in front of thousands of his most devoted followers gathered in the 10,000-seat Wintrust Arena — he launched into yet another withering and slanderous attack on Jews.
After insisting that he’s not an antisemite but a “truth teller,” Farrakhan suggested, among other things, that Jews are part of “the Synagogue of Satan;” that the white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews; that Jews control various countries including Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany where they take advantage of money, culture and business; that Jesus called Jews “the children of the devil”; and that “when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.” He also claimed that Jews control the US government and the FBI and use marijuana to feminize black men.
And the problem is larger than his speeches.
Democrats Double Down On Radicalism
Ben Shapiro responds to Democrat hypocrisy when it comes to the antisemitism of leftist celebrities like Louis Farrakhan.
California Democrats have endorsed the grandson of an architect of the Munich Massacre for a congressional seat.
Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Palestinian American, won the state party convention’s endorsement last weekend for the June primary in the 50th District, an inland district west of San Diego. Campa-Najjar has forged ties with his local Jewish community.
Duncan Hunter, a Republican, now holds the seat.
Campa-Najjar’s grandfather was Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, a mastermind of the terrorist murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games in Germany. Al-Najjar was assassinated a year later by Israeli commandos.
Haaretz recently reported on Campa-Najjar’s candidacy, saying he rejected his grandfather’s terrorism. Campa-Najjar, who lived for a time as a youth in the Gaza Strip, has said his “goal is for our generation to be better than our predecessors, and find a way to end this conflict.”
Haaretz quoted two local rabbis who spoke of Campa-Najjar’s commitment to Israel’s security, which he does not see as mutually exclusive with Palestinian rights.
After the article was published, Campa-Najjar told local news outlets that for the sake of the Israeli families of the murdered athletes, he hoped his personal story would not be manipulated for political purposes.
After the recent terrorist murders of Jews in France, Belgium and Denmark, other Western European governments are beginning to understand that it is their legal and moral duty to protect the institutions of their Jewish minority.
Yet on this issue, Switzerland lags far behind other countries. This is particularly worrying in light of the deadly shooting in 2001 in a Zurich street, where an Israeli rabbi (recognizable as a Jew by his clothing) was murdered. The case has never been solved.
Switzerland has a population of 8.4 million; less than 18,000 are Jews.
The largest Jewish organization is the nominally orthodox Federation of Jewish communities (SIG). It has, at most, 12,000 members. Despite this, assessments by Swiss intelligence agencies and police over the past two years have shown that there are substantial threats against Jewish institutions there.
Because Switzerland is a federal state, it is sometimes unclear when security is the responsibility of the national government — or the municipality in which an institution is located. Overall, Jewish community security costs are estimated to be from $5 -7 million dollars a year, a large amount for such a small group.
When 60,000 Poles took to the streets of Warsaw last November brandishing signs with phrases like “clean blood” and “White Europe” streaked across them, it was perhaps a harbinger of events to come.
Polish-Israeli relations kicked off to a rocky start in 2018 when the Polish government announced a bill that would make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust. For example, uttering the phrase “Polish death camps,” rather than “Nazi death camps,” could lead to a hefty fine or three years in prison.
Since that announcement, pandemonium ensued across both nations. Israeli MKs tweeted vociferously against the law. The Jerusalem Post’s own Knesset reporter Lahav Harkov tweeted the phrase “Polish Death Camps” 14 times – a post that went viral in Polish social media and made her the target of numerous antisemitic attacks.
On the Polish side, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insinuated at the Munich Security Conference in February that Jewish perpetrators are equally to blame as other groups involved in World War II.
“You’re not going to be seen as criminal [if you] say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators as well as Ukrainian perpetrators – not only German perpetrators,” Morawiecki said, doubling down on the bill.
A day after those controversial remarks, the Post spoke to renowned Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt who was dismayed but not surprised by these developments.
“It’s horrible, horrible, horrible,” said Lipstadt, who is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, unequivocally. “I was asked about the bill ten days ago when the law was first passed whether I believed it was a form of Holocaust denial and I hesitated. Now I wouldn’t hesitate. I think the comments by the Polish Prime Minister were outrageous.”
Just as we thought we had seen everything from the Polish government, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki introduced us to an upside down world. Upside down and infuriating: “There were Polish collaborators just as there were Jewish collaborators,” he argued outrageously.
We have entered yet another phase in the Polish government’s project to erase the crimes of its people. Blame is now being hurled at the Jews, suggesting that they were perpetrators in the mass slaughter of their own brethren whereas the Poles are disingenuously presented as mere victims of circumstance.
It is at this juncture that we should remind ourselves of the Polish law that says any recognition of Poland’s complicity, or the suggestion that Polish people acted on behalf of the Nazis, or even committed crimes during the Holocaust, will be seen to be guilty of a legal misdemeanor.
Moreover, it says that any person who publicly accuses the Polish nation of guilt or joint responsibility for crimes committed against humanity and/or against the Jewish people is committing a criminal offense punishable with a three-year prison term.
Free speech has been stifled by the Polish legislature, both for Polish citizens and for citizens of the entire world.
Let’s extrapolate that further. An extremely sensitive subject related to Jewish affairs in an EU member state is being discussed directly with the Israeli state apparatus.
But Mr. Barghouti, and the BDS movement activities he oversees – which directly affect the State of Israel, and therefore the vast majority of Jews in Europe – is given free rein to address the only EU institution elected by universal suffrage.
According to the EU, “it stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which also includes actions carried out… of the so-called BDS movement.”
Again, let’s extrapolate. So, issues that primarily affect Jews in Europe can and indeed should be discussed with the State of Israel in a diplomatic context.
But issues such as Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions that directly relate to Israel as a sovereign state, and by proxy, the vast majority of Jews in Europe, are not deemed worthy of consultation, but instead are granted special status under freedom of expression? Are we missing something or is this a blatant double standard? Antisemitism can constitute one thing but not another? Who decides? What is the criterion? This, dear reader, is the fundamental problem with the EU approach to the BDS movement, and regrettably, it takes a horrible piece of legislation such as the Holocaust law to expose this huge inconsistency in approach.
Say what you like about the Polish government (and believe me I have), but at least it has had the good grace to consult and seek to repair the damage.
This stands in stark contrast to the EU that gives a platform in one of its institutions to someone who has besmirched the Jewish faith as justifying massacres and genocide, denies that pogroms took place in Arab countries, rejects the twostate solution, and says that any Palestinian who accepts a Jewish state is a “sell-out.” These views are vile. Every bit as vile as what Poland was suggesting.
But it’s freedom of expression. Get it? No? Me neither.
Boycotting Israel 101
Baroness Ruth Deech (Oxford Academic) explains the futility and hypocrisy of the Israel boycotters.
Most of the foreign-funded “human rights” organizations that operate in Israel do not actually care about human rights. In fact, recent events have shown that they do not seem to care about human beings, either. Instead, they are what most Israelis have always suspected them of being — namely, political actors who have organized themselves cleverly in benign-sounding “rights” organizations in order to better pursue their nefarious agendas of destroying the state of Israel through “Lawfare.”
The Jerusalem District Court determined in the summer of 2017 that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and murder of dozens of suspected Arab “collaborators” within Israel — several of them with Israeli citizenship — between 1995 and 2002. The court proceedings unveiled grueling testimonies of Arabs who had been subjected to the most heinous torture in the cellars of detention centers run by the Palestinian Authority.
The PA naturally denied all the allegations, but the presiding judge ruled that the accumulation of evidence made it clear that the PA was guilty of severe torture, as well as murder. This torture included the so-called shabah position, widely used in PA prisons, in which the victim is hung from the ceiling for several hours and beaten all over his body.
According to the verdict, the torture also included electric shocks, the pouring of boiling plastic on the body, the tearing out nails and breaking of teeth, sterilization, sleep deprivation, food and drink deprivation, sexual assault and the rape of family members. The PA also reportedly asked doctors to worsen the conditions of the prisoners, such as injecting urine into the prisoners’ blood veins.
The verdict concluded that the PA was responsible for the torture, and therefore, liable for damages to the victims whose lives were ruined. However, in order to realize this compensation, the victims needed to provide medical evaluations of their conditions by medical experts, which is a very costly procedure.
Jewish groups condemned the European Parliament on Wednesday for hosting Omar Barghouti, the founder of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Barghouti was invited to address the European Union’s legislature by the radical left-wing parliamentary group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
In his address, Barghouti accused Israel of being an “apartheid state.”
This comes several weeks after a Norwegian politician nominated the BDS movement for a Nobel Peace Prize, despite its anti-Semitic calls for Israel’s destruction.
In light of recent political and legal successes in the battle against the BDS movement across Europe, BDS supporters have recently doubled down on efforts to promote the boycott efforts and drum up recognition for the movement.
Daniel Schwammenthal, a representative of the Jewish advocacy group American Jewish Committee in Brussels, where the European Parliament sits, remarked that Barghouti’s address was “a grave assault on the dignity of the European Parliament, the Jewish communities in Europe and around the world and – not least – the Israeli-Palestinian peace process itself.”
An apology by the president of San Francisco State University to members of the Jewish community on Friday was met with backlash from anti-Zionists on campus, including a professor who described it as “a declaration of war” against Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians.
Following a meeting with SFSU students from the Jewish group Hillel, President Leslie Wong sent a mass email on Friday apologizing for past comments affecting the Jewish community — particularly a May interview in which he refused to categorically assert that Zionists were welcome at SFSU, saying instead, “Am I comfortable opening up the gates to everyone? Gosh, of course not. I’m not the kind of guy who gets into absolutes like that.”
After study and reflection, the president said last week, “I have come to understand how flawed my comments were.”
“Thus, I want to sincerely apologize for the hurt feelings and anguish my words have caused,” Wong continued. “Let me be clear: Zionists are welcome on our campus.”
This assurance was long sought by leaders of SFSU’s Jewish community and their supporters. The vast majority of Israeli Jews endorse Zionism — the movement to re-establish a Jewish homeland in the Levant — while a Pew Research survey published in 2016 found that most US Jews say “that caring about Israel is essential or important to what being Jewish means to them.”
Nonetheless, the phrases “Zionists not welcome,” “Zionism = racism,” and “Judaism =/= Zionism” were found written in chalk on campus shortly after Wong’s statement was emailed. A photo including some of these markings was posted online by the International Socialist Organization alongside a note of “solidarity with Palestinians,” which was shared by SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS).
Fresh from their return to Twitter from suspension after being targeted by Israel haters and antisemites unhappy they were exposing their (inconvenient) antisemitic and terror supporting posts, the group Canary Mission has now exposed another terror-supporting post – this time by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine.
This is very explicit in its support of Hamas (“resistance fighters”) and calls for the terrorism to continue. It is no wonder they are referred to as “Hamas on campus.” Note also that all of Israel is described as “the settler zionist state”, so you just know the “justice in Palestine” in their name involves Israel’s complete destruction. I guess they didn’t get the memo to pretend they don’t stand for this.
Of course, none of this is surprising, given what we already know about them and their antics. But it is always good to continually expose antisemitic, terror-supporting groups like this.
The British Labour Party extended its suspension of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone over his 2016 assertion that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.
The party’s National Executive Committee decided to prolong Livingstone’s one-year suspension past its April 27 expiration, BBC reported Thursday, until the conclusion of an internal probe into his conduct over allegations that his claims were antisemitic or otherwise offensive to Jews.
The move is the second measure applied in recent weeks against a high-profile Labour official accused of antisemitism. It follows accusations by leaders of British Jewry that Labour under its left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn is whitewashing and failing to confront what they say is a proliferation of hateful rhetoric on Israel and Jews in the party’s ranks.
Last month, Tony Greenstein, a Jewish anti-Zionist who supports Corbyn, was expelled from Labour for breaching three of the party’s rules: “offensive comments online; offensive posts and comments on his blog; and an email in which he mocked the phrase ‘final solution.’”
Among the offensive comments was the use of the term “Zio,” an antisemitic term used to describe supporters of modern-day Israel. Greenstein was first suspended from the party in 2016.
IsraellyCool: Jeremy Corbyn’s Ridiculous Purim Greeting
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has tweeted the following on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Purim.
Wishing Purim Sameach to all Jewish people here in the UK and around the world who are giving thanks for and celebrating the triumph of Jewish people against oppression.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) March 1, 2018
This coming from someone who turns a blind eye to the oppression of the Jewish people in their homeland, has a whole bunch of antisemites like Haman in his own party, and seems ok with those wanting to continue Haman’s legacy.
Its annual funding from the Australian government had already easily exceeded a billion Australian dollars in the 2016 budget year and it has kept rising since then. A serious operation on any view.
We posted a pained analysis last week of the coverage the ABC gave to the violent and aggressive Tamimi clan and especially to Ahed Tamimi, the 17 year-old rising star of the Tamimi collective’s robust “in your face” anti-Israel political activism [“21-Feb-18: News industry activism, its tendentious outcomes and the Tamimis”]. If you haven’t already read it, please do before reading on. We feel we raised serious points worthy of rational discussion and consideration. But we have been ignored by the ABC and by Sophie McNeill, its correspondent.
It now occurs to us that our past experiences with the ABC are depressingly consistent with the latest chapter.
A decade and a half ago, we documented what we experienced [“ABC Producer: “It will be difficult to proceed without appearing unbalanced…””] and published it on the Malki Foundation website since it bore directly on the foundation’s work in Australia. That report is now unfortunately hard to access (stuck inside the archived edition of the website). So now and via this blog of ours, we want to revisit what happened and the issues it threw up.
NOTE: Most of the text that follows is lifted verbatim from the archived 2003 report, with some light editing we have just done to reflect the passage of the years. Here goes.
In August 2001, the then-head of the ABC’s Middle East bureau, Tim Palmer, emailed me [Arnold Roth]. This was just a few days after Malki’s murder. He invited me to join him for a press interview in Jerusalem. I immediately agreed. For reasons described below, that interview never took place.
A senior NBC official said today that an inaccurate post on Twitter by Andrea Mitchell would not be corrected. In January, Mitchell wrongly indicated Israel has only 13 Israeli-Arab Knesset members, and claimed the entire group was removed from the plenary chamber after a protest.
The 13 Israeli-Arab members of Israel’s Parliament held up signs saying “Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine” and were forcibly removed by security as Pence started to speak. Can you imagine Capitol Police dragging members of the congressional black caucus off the House floor?
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) January 22, 2018
In response to the Mitchell’s tweet, CAMERA informed NBC it is not true that the 13 Israeli-Arab members were removed from the Knesset floor during Vice President Pence’s visit, because there are more than 13 Arab members of Israel’s parliament, and because Arab MKs remained in the chamber after the incident.
While members of the predominantly Arab “Joint List” were indeed removed after violating Knesset decorum rules — this was planned as a theatrical way to enact the faction’s previously announced decision to boycott Pence, Arab members of other political parties were not involved in the disruption, and were not dismissed from the Knesset floor. These include Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab member of the Zionist Union faction; Esawi Frej, an Arab member of the Meretz party; and the four Druze Knesset members. (While most Druze in Israel see themselves as ethically Arab, some identify as a separate ethnicity.)
And although the predominantly Arab Joint List faction does have 13 members — this may be what confused Mitchell — one of the Joint List’s members, Dov Khenin, who is Jewish, was not present during the disruption.
After Gvaryahu had cited “the flying checkpoint or entering houses for searching or checkpoints or making our presence felt” as additional examples of what he described as “instilling fear into the Palestinian population”, Sackur moved from asking questions to making pronunciations.
Sackur: “It’s the imposition of a basic power dynamic, the message being we are in control, we’re in charge of you and your lives and we, in essence, can do what we want.”
While mirroring Gvaryahu’s messaging – with which he clearly sympathises – Sackur made no effort to introduce audiences to the history and context of ‘the occupation’. Neither did he bother to remind them – or his guest – of the pertinent fact that when Israel withdrew all its forces and civilians from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Palestinian terrorism did not come to an end.
Sackur: “… what you’re outlining as your critique of what is happening in Israel and that the IDF, as the agent of occupation, is doing, is essentially political. I mean you’re saying, if I understand you correctly, that the very act and policy of occupation is corroding Israel’s values and must end. But the truth is time after time the Israeli public votes in elections for parties which sustain and believe in that occupation.”
Gvaryahu: “That’s true but when you look at this democracy, it’s basically a democracy that is controlling and ruling millions of people that don’t have a right or a say in that democracy. So between the river and the sea we have about 13 million people where half of them do not go and elect anyone. So a big part of our mission – and that’s where we spend as ‘Breaking the Silence’ the vast majority of our energy and our time – is speaking to our fellow citizens all across Israel.”
Sackur made no effort to challenge that latter claim from Gvaryahu by asking him why his organisation has been conducting foreign speaking tours since shortly after its founding or why 40% of its activities in Israel are with non-Israelis.
Sackur also did not bother to point out to BBC audiences that Gvaryahu’s claim that Palestinians “do not go and elect anyone” is misleading because the vast majority of them have lived under Palestinian Authority or Hamas rule for over two decades and have the right to vote in PA elections which have nothing to do with Israel at all. He did, however, go on to promote at length his own ideas about Israeli soldiers – as we shall see in part two of this post.
Despite providing a platform for Gvaryahu’s claim of a “smear campaign led from the highest echelons of the Israeli government” against his organisation, significantly, at no point in this interview did Sackur bother to ask Gvaryahu about the highly relevant topic of the considerable amounts of foreign funding accepted by ‘Breaking the Silence’ or the agenda behind that funding.
There is of course nothing remotely novel about the BBC providing a friendly platform for the amplification of politically motivated messaging from ‘Breaking the Silence’ – it has been doing so at least since 2009. It is however interesting to see once again that despite the existence of BBC editorial guidelines stating that “minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus”, the corporation’s generous promotion of this political NGO – that was accurately classified in this interview by Stephen Sackur as “a fringe” and “an extreme” which influences “only a very tiny minority” – continues.
No less remarkable was Stephen Sackur’s own departure from editorial guidelines stating that “our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters” in his lengthy promotion of the notion of “soldiers who want to do bad things” and his repeated amateur diagnosis of Israel’s moral health.
Police in France arrested four teenagers who are suspected of beating a Jewish boy with a stick and taking away his kippah outside a synagogue north of Paris.
The suspects were detained Wednesday night in Montmagny, Le Parisien daily reported Thursday.
Their alleged victim, 14, was beaten after 8 p.m. outside the suburban synagogue, where the holiday of Purim was being celebrated. The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, praised authorities for “swift and effective” action.
The report did not say whether the boy was injured, but his sunglasses were smashed. One of his attackers was reportedly armed with a baton.
Police are treating the assault as an anti-Semitic incident.
The alleged attackers, aged 14 and 15, called the Jewish boy, his sister and brother “dirty Jews” at the park where they were playing, Le Parisien reported, based on police sources. According to BNVCA, all four suspects are of Arab descent.
The Jewish children were lighting firecrackers, a Purim custom in some Jewish neighborhoods in Europe. In recent years, communal leaders and Jewish school directors have forbidden the use of firecrackers and toy guns during Purim due to security concerns.
The alleged attackers are believed to have waited for the boy while he attended service at a nearby synagogue and assaulted him after he exited.
Two other assaults on Jewish children have been recorded in the suburb of Sarcelles near Paris since the start of this year.
Polish sock company Nanushki changed the name of one of its products from “Adolf” to “Patrick” after a complaint from the Auschwitz Museum.
The company, which ships throughout Europe, sells a variety of novelty socks for adults and kids. One of their designs, featuring a dark-coiffed man with a toothbrush mustache and a red tie, was named “Adolf.” But after the Auschwitz Museum complained to the company about the tasteless footwear, the company kept the design, but changed its name to “Patrick.”
The company told The Jerusalem Post that the product was intended as a satire, but they changed the name once the Auschwitz Museum requested it so not to offend anyone.
“The sock named Adolf is a satirical and ironic character, a figure invented and present in an imaginary world only,” Nanushki told the Post on Friday. “All our product descriptions are written in a funny and satirical way – this was also the case with Adolf’s caricature.”
According to The New York Post, before the name switch, the “Adolf” sock description noted that he was designed “to bring order in the socks drawer.” Today, the identical “Patrick” sock is a businessman who “definitely does not like to talk about his past.”
On Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach closed the 2018 Winter Olympics, declaring that the sporting event is “an homage to the past and an act of faith for the future.”
For Israel and South Korea, it looks like faith may indeed be the basis for new ties.
Some ten Israeli athletes competed in the 2018 Olympics. According to Rabbi Osher Litzman, director of the Chabad Jewish community of Korea in Seoul, the Olympics were “a big step forward” in opening South Korea to the rest of the world. However, the rabbi noted, Israel and South Korea have been on a trajectory toward closer relations for at least a decade.
A key catalyst behind the Israel-South Korea ties is a surprising one: God.
There has been “phenomenal growth” of mega churches throughout Asia, especially over the last 30 years, said David Parsons, vice president and senior international spokesman with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is growing more quickly in Asia than most parts of the world, with more than 200 million adherents in 2015, up from 17 million in 1970. And South Korea is at the forefront — as dazzlingly large mega-churches there attract tens of thousands of people.
With a track record for placing winning bets at opportune moments, American billionaire Warren Buffett is one of the most scrutinized investors in the world – and recent Israeli investments are showcasing his love affair with the Jewish state.
Two weeks ago, a younger trader at Buffett’s giant Berkshire Hathaway investment firm bought a $350 million stake in Israel’s debt-laden, generic-drug giant, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – which has a market worth of some $19 billion, having lost half its value in the past two years. Buffett’s company has historically been averse to investing in biotech stocks.
The purchase initially sent share prices soaring by 12%, with the stock’s value tapering down ever since. Investors had been dumping Teva stock for months, and Buffett’s well-timed purchase could turn the tide for the pharmaceutical firm, signaling investor confidence in new CEO Kare Schultz’s cost-cutting measures.
In any case, the investment in Teva is an endorsement of Israel’s flagship firm, the largest local company by market valuation. “He honestly loves Israel,” Izzy Tapoohi, former president and CEO of Development Corporation for Israel Bonds, told The Jerusalem Post.
Tapoohi has been instrumental in bringing Buffett to fund-raise for Israel Bonds. “Buffett is just unbelievable. He runs his $300b. business with 15 people. He welcomed us [Israel Bond executives Harold Marcus and Stu Garawitz] at the door. It’s like he didn’t have a secretary or assistant. The guy is so down to earth.”
Chuck Robbins, CEO of San Jose, California-based networking hardware and telecommunication company Cisco Systems, will arrive on a 36-hour visit to Israel on March 5, Cisco said in a statement on Wednesday. Mr. Robbins will participate in the launch of Cisco’s country digitization acceleration (CDA) program, Cisco’s social initiative to digitize Israel’s peripheral communities and connect them with the country’s economic and technological center in Tel Aviv.
During his visit, Mr. Robbins will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, visit local Cisco research and development centers, and meet Israeli tech executives, entrepreneurs, and startups.
Oren Sagi, general manager of Cisco Israel, said in a statement that the planned visit is part of Cisco’s commitment to closing the socio-economic gap by technological means.
Speaking on a radio program by Israeli college the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya earlier this month, Zika Abzuk, senior manager of business development in Cisco Israel, discussed Cisco’s CDA plan, saying that by summer, the company is set to launch 24 tech hubs in peripheral communities in Israel. “We are trying to accelerate the digitization of these areas to contribute to equality,” Ms. Abzuk said. “Israel is known as the Startup Nation, but the tech industry is a closed ecosystem. We want to push its walls, so it covers all of Israel.”
This week, five former cycling champions from Italy, including two Giro d’Italia two-time winners, are riding in Israel’s north, south and center. The cyclists — Maurizio Frondiest, Paolo Savoldelli, Andrea Tafi, Alessandro Ballan and Gilberto Simoni — are guests of Israel’s Tourism Ministry and are accompanied by a delegation of sports journalists.
Their cycling experiences are being documented to promote cycling tourism in Israel and the Giro d’Italia Big Start race set to take place May 4-6.
On Wednesday, the cycling stars hit the streets and bike paths of Tel Aviv accompanied by Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi and the Honorary President of ‘Big Start Israel’ Sylvan Adams, a philanthropist who holds the world cycling record for the over 50s.
In May, 176 of the top cyclists will head to Israel to kick off the 2018 Giro d’Italia race in Jerusalem, marking the first time in 101 years that a Grand Tour will take place outside of Europe.
IsraellyCool: 15 Years of Israellycool
Believe it or not, tomorrow is Israellycool‘s 15th year in existence. In other words, it precedes Facebook, Twitter, and almost every other blog you know today.
Started because I found out about a new thing called “weblogs” and decided to give one a go, my first blog post in March 2003 had nothing to do with Israel at all. Rather, I wrote about cricket.
Over the 15 years, there have been close to 20,000 posts written, over 14,000 by me, and the remainder by contributors, guests and readers. I do not have all the traffic stats over this time, but since late Nov 2011, Google Analytics has registered nearly 18 million page views. This includes close to 3 million in the last year alone.
I am proud of the fact that I have been able to make a difference with this blog over the past 15 years – whether it be my liveblogging during the Second Lebanon War, numerous mainstream media mentions, becoming a thorn in the side of antisemites, having celebrity guest posts, or a Wikipedia page for Israellycool created by a Muslim woman!
Here is a look at Israellycool over the years. The blog has had more facelifts than Meg Ryan.
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