May 23, 2017

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03/03 Links Pt2: Phillips: Viewing antisemitism through a glass darkly; Facebook enables Fatah terror promotion

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2017/03/0303-links-pt2-phillips-viewing.html

From Ian:


David Collier: From Manchester to Brunel, polishing the propaganda machine
Brunel 2 March
Last night, 2nd March 2017, I was in Brunel for yet another event during ‘Apartheid Week’. There is a difference between an argument shaped to reflect your perspective and delivering raw propaganda. Opposition to ‘Apartheid week’ is not about a difference of opinion. The endless distortion provided by speakers is supported by pillars of outright deceit. Those standing in front of the students on campus must *know* they are telling lies. They *know* they are purposefully omitting information. I have seen scores of speakers at dozens of events deliberately mislead students. This is fodder for the pulpit, not the campus.
This propaganda is designed to incite hatred towards the Jewish state. Logically, it has no other purpose. These events are created to sell an image of an Israel so twisted, so beyond ethical reach, that only mass global action will save the Palestinians from their fate. At the same time, the image has to be so terrifying, so inhumane, that someone walking onto a bus and killing civilians, becomes the understandable event born of lack of choice and frustration.
Only when both of these elements have been successfully delivered, is the true anti-Israel activist created. Therefore the movement has to take university students on a journey to accept horrific attacks against innocent Israeli civilians. A clear strategy of demonisation through propaganda. We have been here before.

Melanie Phillips: Viewing antisemitism through a glass darkly

Suddenly, everyone’s worried about surging antisemitism. Remarkable.
In recent decades, antisemitism has been the prejudice that dare not speak its name. The “Israel apartheid weeks” on campus, the blood libels about Israelis wantonly killing Arab children, the high proportion of attacks on Jews by Muslims – no one was allowed to call this anti-Jewish hatred.
Anyone who did so was accused of Islamophobia, sanitizing the crimes of Israel by waving the shroud of the Holocaust and so on.
Now people are shouting about antisemitism almost every day. Recent events are certainly alarming. Last month, Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and near St. Louis, Missouri were vandalized. Hoax bomb threats have forced the evacuation of nearly 100 Jewish community centers and other institutions across America.
No one knows who or what is behind all this. Some people, though, explain it in two words: Donald Trump. They just know it’s the work of white neo-fascists empowered by “dog-whistles” emanating from President Trump, who is said to harbor antisemitic sympathies, and his Svengali, Steve Bannon, who is held to be a white supremacist.
These are ludicrous smears. Trump is one of the most pro-Jewish US presidents ever to be elected. Bannon is also deeply pro-Jew and, far from being a racist or fascist, merely believes in restoring and defending the Judeo-Christian basis of Western national identity.
In any event, attacks on Jewish targets were going on long before Trump’s ascendancy.
From 2008 at least, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated across America. And Jewish students on campus have long run a gauntlet of anti-Jewish hate and intimidation.

Fred Maroun: Anti-Semitism: Staring straight into darkness

There is no valid excuse for having failed to help Israel become the secure state of the Jewish people. We reflect on anti-Semitism, we ho and we hum, then we sit back down and let the anti-Semites continue on their merry way.
When a Jewish center is threatened, it is not only an afternoon that is lost. When a Jewish cemetery is desecrated, it is not only a tombstone that must be replaced. It is 3000 years of hatred that come rushing back. It is the painful memories of the family members who died in Nazi crematoria that resurface. It is a very current reminder that a nation that is 79 times the size of the Jewish state has threatened to wipe it off the map and continues on its quest to acquire nuclear weapons.
After 3000 years of antisemitism, with countless pogroms, deportations of Jews from their own lands, and the cold-blooded murder of half its population in the interval of five years, how can we accept that Jews still today do not have one secure place on earth to call home? How can we get up in the morning, look at ourselves in the mirror and not feel the angst of having failed so miserably in the most elementary task that we “intelligent” animals have ever been given?
Why has no government anywhere in the world, other than Israel, placed the fight against antisemitism amongst its top priorities? Why do politicians keep repeating the same foolish lines about negotiating peace when there is no credible entity to negotiate with? Why do they denounce anti-Semitism but then do nothing to stop it? The security of a people that has been forced to struggle for its security for 3000 years is not a game. It is not a political chip to be negotiated.
I am ashamed of my leaders. I am ashamed of my society. I am ashamed of the human race.
If God exists, we will be judged, and the judgement will not be kind. If there is no God, there will be no one to redeem us, and we will always be guilty of the darkest crime in the sorry history of humanity.

Where are the Maps of Historic Muslim Palestine?

Jordan is a part of historic Israel, and the USA has the maps to prove it. They are lodged in the Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They are owned by the American Geographic Society. I have seen them. They represent centuries of cartography, and nearly all of them include the Trans-Jordan (modern-day Jordan) as integral to the geographic dimensions of Biblical and post-biblical Israel. They are the second largest collection of historic maps of this specific geographic region assembled anywhere in the world. Only the Vatican, in Rome, has a larger collection. These maps prove, once and for all, that the modern-day state of Jordan is indeed an Arab state located in so-called “Palestine” (Israel by another name).
Where are the maps showing historic “Muslim Palestine” through the centuries? There simply aren’t any, because Muslims never recognized the name “Palestine” throughout their entire history. “Palestine” is the name given to Israel by the victorious Roman Empire (and later the Catholic Church) after defeating the rebellious Israelite-Jews in a war nearly two thousand years ago. Afterward, the vast majority of Israelite-Jews were punished by the Romans with exile from their homeland. “Palestine” is the European-Christian name given to the Land of the Jewish people by Europeans. Islam and Islamic people have nothing to do with this specific geographic entity other than to acknowledge its Jewish ownership through the context of the Muslims’ own Koranic declaration. In Muslim theology, of all the world’s lands, Israel’s Jewish ownership is the one specific exception to an eventual global Islamic patrimony.
Every legitimate nation has its particular history of maps, and Israel is no exception. Historic Israel (later to be renamed, against its will, as “Palestine”) has always maintained its geographic boundary to include the Trans-Jordan. Biblical Israel, diaspora Israel and Zionist Israel have all included the territory east of the Jordan River as their patrimony. This time span encompasses over thirty-five hundred years. The historical ownership deed to this specific land has been witnessed by three world religions and declared by tens of billions of people throughout history. In Islam the Prophet Mohammad, representing the speech of Allah, as documented in the Koran, declared the Jewish people as heirs to Israel (Koran 5:21). According to Islam, the Holy land of the Jews belongs to the Jews, just as the Holy Land of Muslim Arabia belongs to the Islamic faithful.

European Schizoid Dissonance: The Calm of Appeasement

At the Balfour Declaration centenary conference convened by JCPA Tuesday, February 28, there was a particularly interesting juxtaposition during the first panel between remarks by Colonel Richard Kemp and Professor Julius Schoeps.
In his talk, “Israel as a Strategic Asset to Britain”, Richard Kemp drew a striking contrast between two European attitudes towards Israel. On the one hand, there are those who see her as a remarkably successful loyal ally, crucial not only to Montgomery in 1940s, but even more today in the 21st century. On the other, there are those who repeatedly sacrifice Israel’s interests and side against her. His illustrative example concerns Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, who:
In 2009… visited Israel to study IDF tactics to apply to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He was particularly interested in Israeli tactics for fighting terror in civilian-populated areas. This visit came just weeks after the publication of the infamous Goldstone Report – which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza.
The contrast was striking: within weeks of the European Parliament endorsing the report, the European Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee was visiting Israel, for the third time in four years, to study ethical methods for dealing with terrorist insurgencies without causing undue harm to civilians.

Apparently the Europeans find scolding Israel nearly irresistible, even though they know their criticism is not only untrue… but, it’s the opposite. Israel behaves better than even other Western armies; a fortiori than the jihadis they fight, whose cannibalistic strategies create civilian casualties among their own people.

Why Is YouTube Punishing People Who Translate and Expose Anti-Semitism on Its Platform?

This past month, Tablet published a piece by journalist Eylon Aslan-Levy about a new cartoon music video that had just been released by the terrorist group Hamas. Written in Hebrew in an effort to intimidate Israelis, the animated song featured explicit exhortations to violence against Jewish civilians, and included such iconic images as an ultra-Orthodox Jew “having his head blown off and stuck on a pike, as well as another being shot in the head through crosshairs.” As part of his report, Aslan-Levy posted the video on YouTube with English subtitles, so that non-Hebrew readers could understand Hamas’s threats in it. Two days later, YouTube took down his translated video for “hate speech” and warned him that further offenses could result in the suspension of his account. Essentially, the service was unable to distinguish between journalism that aimed to expose violent incitement and bigotry, and the real thing. Last week, YouTube denied Aslan-Levy’s appeal, in which he explained he was a reporter acting to inform the public.
This decision was all the more curious given that YouTube continues to allow many other Hamas music videos—posted by their sympathizers and garnering hundreds of thousands of views—to remain on the site unmolested. But while the site’s conduct in this instance may seem strange, it was not an isolated incident. For years, YouTube has been taking down videos that translate and expose anti-Semitism and punishing those who post them. Perhaps the most notable victim of this censorship is MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.
MEMRI translates television and media from across the Middle East, highlighting both bigotry and those activists who seek to fight it. Its work, though sometimes controversial like all things dealing with that fractious region, has earned it bipartisan accolades. As legendary U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who served in key roles in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, put it: “MEMRI allows an audience far beyond the Arabic-speaking world to observe the wide variety of Arab voices speaking through the media, schoolbooks, and pulpits to their own people. What one hears is often astonishing, sometimes frightening, and always important. Most importantly, it includes the newly-emerging liberal voices of reform and hope, as well as disturbing echoes of ancient hatreds. Without the valuable research of MEMRI, the non-Arabic speaking world would not have this indispensable window.”

PMW: Facebook enables Fatah terror promotion By reopening Fatah’s account, Facebook allows terror promotion on its platform.

Three days ago, Facebook shut down Fatah’s terror promoting account. The Palestinian Authority protested the closure as evidence of unfair collaboration between Israel and Facebook against the Palestinians (see below). Yesterday, Facebook reinstated the account, without removing any of the terror promoting material that is regularly posted on the page by Fatah. In 2016 alone, Palestinian Media Watch documented over 130 posts glorifying individual terrorist murderers and terror attacks, and posts encouraging violence and terror.
The following are examples of the terror and murder promotion that Facebook has reopened for public viewing:
A video produced by Fatah’s student movement at Birzeit University urges Palestinians to murder Israelis and seek Martyrdom by carrying out stabbing and car ramming attacks. The video shows a staged car-ramming and stabbing attack at a checkpoint near Ramallah. [Official Fatah Facebook page, April 20, 2016]
Fatah expressed pride in the first Palestinian female suicide bomber Wafa Idris, who murdered 1 and wounded over 100 in 2002: “Her pure body exploded into pieces in the Zionists` faces” [Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 27, 2017]

Facebook restores account of ruling Palestinian party

Facebook has restored the official account of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, and reportedly apologized for “mistakenly” closing the page.
On Monday Facebook closed Fatah’s page, sending a message to the administrator that the page “violated Facebook’s regulations.”
However, the page, which had garnered nearly 70,000 likes, and routinely posts material that glorifies Palestinian terrorism and martyrdom, was reinstated on Tuesday.
“Facebook restored the Page and have not subsequently taken action on it. Page Admins have the ability to take down their own pages,” Facebook said in a statement to The Times of Israel, without elaborating any further. A spokesperson declined to give any further clarification.
However, on Wednesday Russia Today (RT) in Arabic published what it said was an apology by the social media company for taking down Fatah’s page.
The closing of the page “was done by mistake, and it was restored after checking the matter,” the statement published by RT said.
“We are sorry about this mistake. All pages must conform to community standards,” the statement added.
After the page was closed, the PA Ministry of Information on Tuesday denounced the move as “blind bias in favor of” Israel, in a statement published on the PA’s official news outlet Wafa.

Report: Despite Severe Overcrowding, Israeli Hospitals Admit Tens of Thousands of Gazan Patients

Tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority and Gaza residents are cared for in Israeli hospital each year, adding a heavy economic burden to an already strained health system, Makor Rishon reported Friday. This stretching of the healthcare system results in longer waiting times for specialists and diagnostic facilities, as well as the very functioning of medical teams – at the expense of Israeli patients.
According to senior healthcare officials speaking to Makor Rishon, the PA systematically evades payment for the hospital care received by its residents, adding that, too, to the economic burden born by Israeli citizens.
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Professor Zeev Rotstein, Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization, told the 2014 German Committee on the crisis in Israel’s healthcare system that “the Palestinian Authority pays 10 and it costs 100.”
According to Dalia Bessa, the Health Coordinator of the IDF Civil Administration in the territories, in 2015 more than 97,000 PA Arabs received medical treatment in Israel. In the same year, another 31,787 Gazan patients and their attendants entered Israel for treatment.
According to the Health Ministry, “Israel accepts for treatment only cases the PA is unable to care for, with permission from the security and medical authorities.”

BBC News airbrushes Gerald Kaufman’s antisemitic remarks

The Jewish Chronicle, in contrast, managed to give its readers a realistic portrayal of the MP’s record.
“Sir Gerald was a controversial figure. His years of anti-Israel activity drew criticism from the Jewish community, but it was his repeated antisemitic comments which brought the most serious anger.
In 2015, he was recorded saying the British government had become more pro-Israel in recent years.
He said: “It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative Party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives.”
Mr Corbyn said the remarks were “completely unacceptable and deeply regrettable” but took no disciplinary action against his MP. Sir Gerald never commented and refused to speak to the JC about the incident.
In 2011, Sir Gerald turned to a neighbour on the Commons green benches as pro-Israel MP Louise Ellman rose to speak, and muttered: “Here we are, the Jews again.”“kaufman-haniyeh

While such context is obviously crucial to the reader’s understanding of Kaufman’s anti-Israel stance as portrayed in the report and obituary, the BBC refrained from providing it.

Jewish Activists at East Carolina U Laud Student Government for Unanimously Passing Resolution Against Antisemitism Amid Surge of Phenomenon Across US Campuses

Jewish activists at East Carolina University (ECU) lauded their peers in the Student Government Association (SGA) for passing a motion Wednesday condemning antisemitism amid a surge of the phenomenon on campuses and elsewhere across the US.
“I’m proud that our SGA isn’t like many others around the country,” said Ben Schine, founder and president of Pirates for Israel, after the passage of “The Fight Against Anti-Semitism” resolution. “Here, they actually care about the students.”
Schine — who told The Algemeiner that bomb threats were issued recently to his Jewish community center and day school 200 miles away — said that when he entered the school three years ago, the atmosphere was not as positive. “But through the work of groups like Pirates for Israel and Hillel, the environment for the small Jewish community on campus really has markedly improved.”
To illustrate, he pointed to a resolution passed late last year in support of study-abroad programs in Israel, which he hopes would preempt and quash potential future BDS efforts on campus. However, he added, “I recognize that the only problem going forward is it could all change on a dime.”

Think Tank Calls on Silicon Valley Foundation to Halt Funding to Extremist Groups

The Middle East Forum (MEF) think tank is urging the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to stop funding extremist groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) gave eight donations totaling $330,524 to these two groups, MEF’s Islamist Watch project found.
“The SVCF is the country’s leading community foundation, with more than $8 billion in assets,” Gregg Roman, director of MEF, said Wednesday. “It enjoys close partnerships with dozens of prominent tech companies. We call on the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to stop funding organizations that promote extremism. When the SVCF funds Islamist groups, it is betraying those moderate Muslims working to free their faith from the grip of extremists, who have learned to shroud their work under the guise of charitable endeavor.”
CAIR received five donations from the California-based foundation totaling $132,933, while Islamic Relief received three donations totaling $197,591, according to MEF.

Banksy’s art in new West Bank hotel with world’s ‘worst view’

A Palestinian guest house packed with artwork of the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner sarcastically called the “hotel with the worst view in the world.”
Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room establishment named “The Walled Off Hotel” will officially open on Mar. 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour of the hotel looking directly at the West Bank security barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers.
The barrier is heavily decorated by artists, and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it.
The hotel is awash in the trademark satirical work of the mysterious artist. The highlight is room number three, known as “Banksy’s Room,” where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy’s artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight.

Ambassador asks French cities to ban anti-Israel apartheid week

Israel’s ambassador to France called on local cities to ban events tied to the pro-Palestinian Israel Apartheid Week, scheduled to begin Monday.
Aliza Ben-Nun wrote to mayors of nine cities across France asking them to cancel events organized by the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Ben-Nun said that the events are likely to cause disturbances, incitement to hatred and violence towards Israel and the Jewish community. She also wrote that the boycott is prohibited under French law.
Her letter was first reported by Israel Radio.
Israel Apartheid week events are scheduled for Paris, Rennes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Lyon, Saint Étienne, Lille, Marseille and Grenoble as part of a world-wide initiative in more than 200 cities and universities that critics say seeks to deligitimize the State of Israel.
According to its French website, the events in France will mark 100 years of colonization by Israel and 100 years of popular struggle for justice by Palestinians, counting from the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Edgar Davidson: Prepare for the media’s shock when Israel responds properly to rocket attacks

The low-level Palestinian terror campaign against Israeli civilians (mainly knife, rock and vehicle attacks) continues on an hourly basis – invariably unreported except when the terrorist is killed. Now the Palestinians have restarted firing rockets from Gaza on an almost daily basis be prepared for the media’s total shock and surprise when Israel finally responds forcefully (and I don’t mean shooting up a couple of empty sheds, which is how they are currently responding).

BBC News silent again on Gaza missile attack

Late on March 1st another missile launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in Israeli territory.
“A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck an open field south of the coastal city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night, causing neither injury nor damage, the army said, the second attack in a week. […]
The projectile struck the Hof Ashkelon region shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Israeli troops began searching the area to locate the rocket, the army said.
No terrorist groups immediately took credit for the attack.
There were also no immediate reports of IDF retaliation.”

At least one locally based BBC employee was aware that an attack had taken place.
Nevertheless, there was no coverage of the attack on the BBC News website.

Recycling the blood libel

Christians introduced the blood libel to the Islamic world, where it is alive and well. Prof. (emeritus) Raphael Israeli tells the story.
“In the Arab political world, classic extreme anti-Semitic motifs are used as political tools. These slanders originate in many countries, come even from scholars, and appear in leading media. One such slur is the blood libel. This fabrication originally claimed that Jews abduct and murder Christian children to make matzos (unleavened bread) for the Passover holiday. The first time the blood libel surfaced was in 1144 in the British town of Norwich. Since then it has recurred in various European locations.
“Furthermore, Christians introduced the blood libel to the Islamic world. In 1840, the French consul in Damascus and some of the monks, falsely claimed that a Christian priest in that city, Father Thomas, was murdered by Jews who used his blood. The blood libel was also promoted by the Nazis. Its anti-Semitic publication Der Sturmer, published a special issue in 1934. The front page featured an illustration of a German boy lying on a table surrounded by Jews with long beards and earlocks. They were sucking the blood out of his body through long tubes.”
Raphael Israeli is an emeritus professor of Islamic, Chinese and Middle Eastern history at the Hebrew University. He has authored over 25 books including, Blood Libel and Its Derivatives: The Scourge of Antisemitism and Poison: Modern Manifestations of a Blood Libel.
“The Arab use of the blood libel manifests itself partly through the recycling of the Damascus case. For instance, Mustafa Tlas, who was Syrian Defense Minister from 1972 to 2004, lent credibility to the blood libel by writing his doctoral dissertation about it, as if it were a fact of history instead of an anti-Semitic fabrication.

March of the Living rejects ‘legalized hate’

On Tuesday, February 28th, the Holocaust educational program International March of the Living co-sponsored a Holocaust Educational Symposium on the Nuremberg Laws and the Nuremberg Trials, held at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, in cooperation with the International and Comparative Law Review and Loyola Center for the Study of Law and Genocide. The International March of the Living annually brings 10,000 students, survivors, liberators, and other individuals from all over the world to Poland and Israel on Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Memorial Day, to study the history of the Holocaust.
The Nuremberg Laws, which were implemented by Nazi Germany in 1935 and ultimately facilitated the murder of 6 million European Jews, illuminate the tragic and devastating decimation of human life that can flow from state-sanctioned hatred. By contrast, the International Military Tribunal, or Nuremberg Trials, of 1945-46 held accountable many of the most culpable political and military leaders of the Third Reich and gave rise to many of the fundamental principles of international law today.
The Nuremberg Symposium featured several high-profile thought-leaders and agents of change in the modern application of the lessons learned from the Holocaust including Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz and Benjamin B. Ferencz, the lead prosecutor of the SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, prepared video recorded remarks that were presented as part of the program.

French teen who attacked Jewish teacher with machete gets 7 years in jail

A French high school student of Kurdish descent who tried to murder a Jewish teacher in Marseille was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, Israel Radio reported Friday.
The prosecution initially sought a punishment of 10 years against the perpetrator, who was still a minor at the time of the attack last year.
An attorney representing the victim, Benjamin Amsellem, said that he was pleased with the verdict.
At the time, the teen said he was acting in the name of Allah and that he was affiliated with the Islamic State terror organization.

French teacher concealing kippah following machete attack

On the eve of a landmark trial for terrorism in France, the victim in a machete attack said he has begun concealing his kippah.
Benjamin Amsellem told the news website 20 Minutes on Tuesday about how his life was turned upside down following last year’s incident in Marseille, when police say a radicalized 15-year-old of Turkish descent lightly wounded the city teacher.
Having moved to the Paris region as part of his therapy, Amsellem said he now prefers “to wear a hat instead of the kippah in places where I don’t feel safe.” He said he never feared wearing a kippah in Marseille.
The interview was published one day before the opening of the teenager’s trial Wednesday in a Paris juvenile court.
According to the AFP news agency, which defined the trial as “a sad precedent,” it is the first time that a minor under the age of 18 is being tried in France for a jihadist attack. The youth, whose name was not published in the media, is accused of attacking Amsellem and then fleeing the scene after Amsellem fought him off using a Bible to shield his body from the weapon.

Montreal police investigating latest anti-Jew hate video

Montreal police have been asked for the second time in three weeks to investigate a video showing a hate sermon against Jews coming from the same local mosque, JTA reported Thursday.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Tuesday released a video showing Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi of the Al Andalous Islamic Center delivering a 2014 sermon against the “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood, and cursed the Lord …”
That video was released just two weeks after a video surfaced of another imam at the same mosque who delivered a sermon that year in which he prayed for the victory of the Mujahideen in Palestine and everywhere in the world, and for the ultimate destruction of the “cursed Jews”.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) told the National Post in response, “This is a bizarre strain of radical propaganda.”
The mosque has explained that the remarks in the first video that was released were made during the Gaza war in the summer of 2014 and were directed only towards Israel and not to all Jews.

Behind the scenes with Israeli ‘Sand Storm’ director Elite Zexer

Sitting on a plush red chair on the Jerusalem Cinemateque stage on Thursday, Elite Zexer, director of Israeli film “Sand Storm,” recounted for a packed audience how, unlike the Oscars in the United States, in Israel there is no “after party” following the Ofirs.
“Sand Storm” took prizes at top festivals including Sundance and the Jerusalem Film Festival. It swept the Ofirs in capturing six awards, and the Arabic-language movie was nominated as Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign film for 2016.
On Thursday, Zexer laughed and said that after her film’s success at the Ofirs, she spent a whirlwind night celebrating with friends and family. Around 3:30 am, however, she found herself standing on a Tel Aviv street in her dress and high heals — penniless. Hefting her bulky award statue, she began to walk home.
Being Tel Aviv, Zexer said, people were still very much awake and her 40-minute walk was met with queries about the statue — and riotous applause for her awards. When she finally reached her tiny 40-meter apartment, that Israeli honor joined a Sundance award — on her kitchen counter.

Waze to help preserve Israel’s wild animals

The navigation app Waze has teamed up with an Israeli NGO to help wild animals from becoming roadkill on Israeli roads.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel has launched a campaign that calls on Israeli drivers to use Waze to report wild animals run over by cars in open spaces and outside of urban areas, which is an existing feature of the app.
The reports will be used to map the roads that are most dangerous to wild animals and find ways to reduce the number that are killed.
The project was launched Wednesday, ahead of UN World Wildlife Day on Friday.
Among the animals most often hit by cars are gazelles, porcupines, badgers, turtles, hyenas and otters. In January, the Waze community of drivers logged 1,416 roadkill reports.

Shekel cements position as one of the world’s strongest currencies

The Israeli shekel on Wednesday cemented its position as one of the strongest and most solid currencies in the world, marking gains against the top three currencies — the dollar, euro, and pound.
According to the Bank of Israel, March’s foreign currency trade began with the shekel trading at NIS 3.62 per dollar, the shekel/euro exchange rate was set at NIS 3.82, and the shekel/pound exchange rate came to NIS 4.47.
Wednesday’s dynamic trading day and the gains the shekel marked vis-a-vis all major currencies, especially the 0.74% drop in dollar rates, prompted the Bank of Israel to intervene and purchase foreign currency valued at $300 million in an attempt to curb the trend.
The shekel has appreciated by 6% against the dollar over the past year, its strongest level since October 2014. It is also hovering at a 15-year peak against the euro.
Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg said Wednesday that “the shekel is overvalued and that has become more prominent in the past few months,” adding that the shekel’s value “doesn’t reflect the strength of Israel’s economy.”

Are We Allowed to Joke About the Holocaust?

Can we laugh at genocide? The Last Laugh, a film by Ferne Pearlstein, attempts to answer the question through interviews with Holocaust survivors, with authors Etgar Keret and Shalom Auslander, and with a passel of comedians including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, Susie Essman, Harry Shearer, and Judy Gold.
The best thing about the movie, which opens in New York City on Friday and in Los Angeles on March 17, is that it doesn’t answer the question. There’s no voice-over, no narrator telling us what to think. The film merely presents a variety of points of view—accompanied by clips from The Producers, The Great Dictator, South Park, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, from a children’s production of Brundibar and an adult cabaret performance in Theresienstadt, from snippets of Chris Rock and Borat and Louis C.K. performances. It’s up to the viewer to decide what to think, not only about whether the Holocaust is suitable fodder for humor but also about whether any tragedy—rape, racism, child molestation—can be turned into a joke … and if so, how. (In other words, one should see this movie only with smart friends, and then one must go out to eat and argue. It’s the way of our people.)
The film opens with a quote from Heinrich Mann: “Whoever has cried enough, laughs.” But this, too, raises questions! Is it ever possible to cry enough about the Holocaust? And does laughing inherently mean you’re finished crying? There’s no time to ponder, though, because we’re immediately launched into a rapid montage of interview fragments and Busby Berkeley-esque Nazi numbers (ooh, it’s the overhead shot of the rotating human swastika from The Producers!).

Ducks, not phalluses, real stars of 1,900-year-old find in northern Israel

Stunning pastoral frescoes from a 1,900-year-old building have been uncovered following excavations at the site of an ancient Roman temple in northern Israel.
The discovery at Horvat Omrit points to the presence of a wealthy Roman community during the first and second centuries CE, the period when Judea was engulfed by two major Jewish revolts against Rome.
Omrit sits atop a hill at northern end of the Hula Valley at the very northern end of the Galilee, and is considered one of the best preserved, if lesser known, Roman imperial sites in the country.
The tantalizing find was made by an expedition co-directed by Daniel Schowalter, a professor of religion and classics at Carthage College, during excavation work during the summer of 2016.
He described the new discovery at a meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies in Toronto in January.

David Rubinger: 12 iconic photos of Israel

David Rubinger, the photographer who chronicled the evolution of modern Israel through the decades, passed away Wednesday at age 92.
Here are some of his most enduring and resonant photographs.



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