July 11, 2020

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03/11 Links Pt2: SOAS Director – caught lying to the Jews to keep them quiet; BBC travel show brings in political activist on Jerusalem archaeology


From Ian:

David Collier: SOAS Director – caught lying to the Jews to keep them quiet
Last week I reported on a Europal event due to take place on the SOAS campus. Europal have links to Hamas and have spread antisemitic material on a UK campus. Several Jewish organisations set up campaigns and angry members of the community sent emails to the university in protest. Eventually SOAS responded -and sent out a reassuring email from the SOAS Director. The event would go ahead but was a ‘student only’ event. There would be no Europal presence. SOAS promised they would be ‘no external speakers. The event took place and now we know the truth. SOAS has been caught lying to us.

This is the email SOAS sent out:

SOAS emailThe email is clear. This is a student only event – there will be no external speakers – and Europal are not going to be there either.
The SOAS Europal event

The event took place on Saturday. This is an image from one of the sessions.

SOAS Europal event

Speaking at the front is Shamiul Joarder. Jorder is Head of Public Affairs of Friends of Al Aqsa (FoA) – another Islamist group. For many years FoA supported the Iranian, pro-Hezbollah ‘Al Quds’ day march in London. The FoA founder Ismail Patel has spoken at the event. Patel has also recommended the writing of Roger Garaudy -a 9/11 truther and convicted Holocaust denier. Friends of Al-Aqsa has also published work by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen and antisemite Gilad Atzmon. In the following image Patel can be seen with Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh:

Patel has openly said that Hamas ‘is not a terrorist organisation’ and fully supported the speaking tour’ of Raed Salah, who has since been found guilty of inciting terrorism. Patel himself has advocated the killing of adulterers.

What Happened to the New York Times’ Man in Tehran?

The Iranian diaspora has coined a term for this kind of news management, hashtad-beest, or “80/20,” meaning that 80% of the reporting focuses on the obvious and unavoidable, including mild or implied criticism of the regime, in order to establish credibility among foreign readers. According to Iranian political activist Heshmat Alavi, “The remaining 20 percent of their published material focuses on pushing Iran’s talking points, such as justifying Zarif’s arguments, praising Soleimani as a popular figure and criticizing Iranian opposition groups.” And so the regime-friendly gaslighting produced by the Times’ man in Tehran highlighted a consistent array of topics pleasing to the ayatollahs and irritating to the U.S. administration: the Yemeni humanitarian disaster (always laid on Riyadh’s doorstep, never the Houthis’ or Iran’s), Brett Kavanaugh Bad, anti-refugee attacks in Germany, Israel bombing Hezbollah convoys in Syria (Bad), Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman visiting the United States (Bad), Pompeo replacing Tillerson (Bad), John Bolton (Worse), Apple closing its App Store to Islamic Republic consumers (Apocalypse), and predictable logrolling between Erdbrink and Vali Nasr and Al Jazeera’s favorite Iranian-American, Yara Elmjouie.

Erdbrink deserves some credit, however. When NPR interviewed Erdbrink about the then-upcoming Our Man in Tehran release, the interviewer mentioned his longtime residency in Iran with his Iranian wife. Could he be truly objective? “If objectivity is measured by, do I see Iran exactly though a Western view? Then no,” was Erdbrink’s answer. With this artful dodge, he was admitting to being a functional hostage of the regime, and with its array of tools—granting entry visas and press credentials, revoking both at whim, banning, silencing, imprisonment, uniting or separating families, taking hostages—Tehran can dictate not only how it is covered but by whom.

What is striking here to an outsider is the value that Tehran places on intermediaries and proxies. I asked Reuel Marc Gerecht, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies chief Iran expert, who has traveled through Iran and speaks fluent Persian, about this strategy. “I don’t think the Iranians are as strategic as many folks think,” Gerecht said. “They really are dependent upon Westerners leading on most issues. Most Westerners aren’t being led; if anything, Westerners have the rhetorical lead and Iranians follow. Ben Rhodes, Phil Gordon, Jake Sullivan, to name just a few, don’t need NIAC [National Iranian American Council] to frame arguments. As a rule, Iranian officials are pretty crude and stuck in a left-wing, Islamic, mindset of the 1970s, even if they are young. Zarif only looks good because the others are so bad, so inept with Westerners. The Islamic Republic is like Cuba: it exists in a time warp intellectually. It’s one of many reasons why it can’t evolve and reform.”

Keeping Thomas Erdbrink in limbo probably guarantees a certain level of compliance from his successor Fassihi. Why the New York Times so readily accedes to what looks from here like blackmail is another question. On Feb. 12, 2020, the Washington, D.C., think tank the Atlantic Council convoked a panel titled “Iran: Propaganda and Perception 41 Years After the Revolution,” starring, among others, its own Barbara Slavin, Farnaz Fassihi, and others. In a two-hour discussion about the rigors of reporting from Tehran, Erdbrink’s name did not come up once.

Rubin Report: Muslim On The Real Danger Of Ilhan Omar’s Agenda (Pt. 1) | Dalia al-Aqidi

Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Dalia al-Aqidi (Journalist, Republican Candidate) about why she is challenging Rep Ilhan Omar for her congressional seat in the fifth district of Minnesota. Dalia is a Muslim refugee who grew up in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. She immigrated to the US when she was 20. She shares her concerns about groups like CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and how they worked with and groomed congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. She reveals how CAIR is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and is working to train many more candidates in the same progressive mold.

With virus spreading, WHO declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic

Expressing alarm both about mounting infections and slow government responses, the World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic but also said it’s not too late for countries to act.

By reversing course and using the charged word “pandemic” that it had previously shied away from, the UN health agency appeared to want to shock lethargic countries into pulling out all the stops.

“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief.

“All countries can still change the course of this pandemic. If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response,” he said. “We are deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

The WHO added that Iran and Italy are the new front lines of the battle against the virus that started in China.

As virus cases mount, Israel bans gatherings of more than 100 people

Israel is limiting public events in closed areas to 100 people as part of increasingly strict measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday evening.

The ban includes synagogue prayer and weddings, the Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov elaborated. Schools are staying open for now, but officials may require institutes of higher education to teach remotely.

“We’re asking, if there is no need for conferences, if there is no need for events, don’t hold them and don’t go to them,” Netanyahu said during a press conference at his office.

He said exceptions would be made for security, health and public needs, while urging Israelis to make “behavioral changes” and change their “day-to-day routines.”

“We like to hug, shake hands, kiss — don’t do it,” he said. “Wash your hands. Maintain good personal hygiene.”

“We’re in a pandemic — a global plague,” he added. “Cough into a tissue,” he urged. “You don’t need masks.”

Jewish, Pro-Israel Groups Protest Bernie Sanders’ Hiring of Adviser Who Once Denounced Zionism as ‘Racist, Exclusionary Ideology’

Jewish and pro-Israel groups on Tuesday condemned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ decision to hire a radical activist with a long history of vitriolic anti-Israel statements as a senior adviser.

Phillip Agnew, a co-founder of the Dream Defenders group, was hired as a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign last Saturday, with Sanders saying, “He is a gifted organizer and one of his generation’s most critical voices on issues of race and inequity.”

B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin took a different view, saying in a statement on Tuesday, “We call on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to terminate his campaign’s relationship with Phillip Agnew.”

“Agnew’s activist organization, Dream Defenders, has promoted to children the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been a US-designated terrorist organization since 1997,” they noted, “and is a proponent of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

“Agnew’s so-called ‘rebellion curriculum,’ which is aimed at children in 6th to 11th grade, refers to Israel as ‘occupied Palestine’ and speaks approvingly of the goals of creating a communist party and liberating ‘Palestine,’” they pointed out.

“It is unacceptable that someone with this history of antisemitic and pro-terrorism statements was given a role on any presidential campaign,” they asserted.

The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) also weighed in, asking, “How can @BernieSanders unify the country when he appoints officials to his campaign who spew hateful, misogynist, and bigoted views? And why does Sanders refuse to disassociate himself even from their hateful statements?”

Sanders campaign denounces ‘toxic’ statements of imam who spoke at Michigan rally

The Bernie Sanders campaign denounced the “toxic and offensive” past statements of an imam who spoke at a Sanders rally days before a key presidential primary in Michigan.

Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini said in 2015 that the Islamic State terrorist group “somehow is connected to Israel.” The same year, commenting on a Supreme Court decision upholding the right to same-sex marriage, he said, “This is a moment that Americans would look back at with so much regret and sorrow, that we are legalizing something that is normal, something that is against human nature.”

Al-Qazwini introduced Sanders at a rally in Dearborn, Michigan, on Saturday.

“The campaign has been made aware of offensive and toxic past statements by Imam Qazwini,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement Tuesday after a number of media outlets reported on the past statements of the founder of the Islamic Institute of America.

“These statements are dangerous, hateful, and violate the principles of our movement, which is based on values of equality and dignity for all people,” Shakir said. “Senator Sanders stands with those in Israel, Palestine, and across the region who work for peace, and unequivocally rejects antisemitic conspiracy theories that seek to blame Israel for all the region’s problems, and well as any bigoted statements against any group.”

GW University Quarantines AIPAC Attendees, Who Get Targeted by Antisemitism

In the early hours on Saturday morning, George Washington University in Washington, DC, quarantined 30 students who attended this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference, held nearby from March 1-3—only to reverse the decision less than 12 hours later as the student attendees have since been targeted by antisemitism.

The GWU decision came amid a statement from AIPAC that two conference attendees had tested positive for coronavirus.

In a statement on Saturday, Kathleen Fox, GWU’s assistant vice president of health and security, stated “there is no identifiable risk to the community from the conference.”

However, “out of an abundance of caution, GW assisted those students’ ability to self-quarantine overnight,” she said. “We have since received updated information.”

“There has been a determination by public-health experts that the two people at the conference did not present symptoms during their visit to DC,” continued Fox. “The current information indicates that both cases have no identifiable risk for anyone exposed to them at the conference. After conferring with DC Department of Health and GW’s public-health experts, we have determined that there is no current need for those students who attended to continue to self-quarantine.”

In the aftermath of the situation, some students have been harassed in person and on social media with antisemitic messages.

Blake Flayton, a sophomore, tweeted on Sunday that he was “attacked for being a Jew at GW this weekend.”

Guardian smears Israel with a wild Palestinian accusation

A Guardian article by freelance journalist Carlton Reid (Why cycling in Palestine is a political act”, March 10) profiled a Palestinian cyclist named Sohaib Samara, who, as an example of how cycling in the West Bank for Palestinians is a putatively “political act”, made the following claim:
On one ride [in the West Bank] when he and a friend were pulled over by an Israeli army patrol, Samara says he heard the soldiers asking, in Hebrew, whether they should shoot the pair in the arms.

“I was not afraid for myself because at the end of the day, if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die,” said Samara. “But I was worried that if I tried to defend myself or even argue [that the soldiers] had no right to stop us, they might later blow up my family’s house.”

We tweeted the journalist to ask if he attempted to fact check the wild claim that Israeli soldiers were considering shooting him.

Reid’s reply

Our reply

Moreover, the apparent credulity of the journalist and his editor in the face of Samara’s wild claim that soldiers considered shooting him for no particular reason – or that the army would have blown up his family’s house if he complained – is staggering, and provides another example of how the caricature of Israeli malevolence is ingrained in the Guardian imagination.

BBC travel show brings in political activist on Jerusalem archaeology

In fact, only a small part of Silwan lies “above the City of David” site and related legal cases have been rejected by the Supreme Court on more than one occasion.

At 05:27, Datar brought in “Aziz, a travel writer and guide” to give “the alternative Palestinian perspective”. Despite BBC editorial guidelines concerning contributors’ affiliations, viewers were not told that Aziz Abu Sarah is also (as the BBC should know, having interviewed him in 2018) an activist associated with political NGOs.

After viewers had heard Abu Sarah complain that a project documenting biblical Jerusalem does not “tell you the story of the Palestinian residents” in Jerusalem or “the history of the Islamic groups that have lived in Jerusalem” – without clarifying that the Muslim conquest in Jerusalem took place in the 7th century – they saw Datar visit a Crusader site underneath a business in the Old City. While Abu Sarah claimed that “we didn’t know this exists a year and a half, two years ago”, similar Crusader era structures were discovered long before that timeframe.

At the end of the item Datar told viewers:
Datan: “So here’s the rub: in Jerusalem any excavation is going to be both amazing and controversial at the same time.”

Obviously Jerusalem has multiple layers of history which visitors can explore at a variety of sites and museums in addition to the City of David. What makes archaeology ‘controversial’ however is politicisation of the topic and Datan appears to have bought into that with the help of an inadequately presented political activist whose “affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints” were not disclosed to viewers.

‘Anti-Zionism Has Become the New Antisemitism,’ British Cabinet Minister Michael Gove Says

“Anti-Zionism has become the new antisemitism,” Britain’s Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove said on.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Gove — a longtime member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative party — told a gathering of the anti-extremist Mainstream UK organization, “More recently, antisemitism has taken a new form.”

“In the past you could be Jewish in the ghetto, or you could be Jewish but had to suffer disability under the law,” he said, but now, antisemitism held that Jewish identity “either has to be removed or Israel has to survive on terms set by others.”

“‘Zionist’ has come to be used as a term of abuse,” Gove noted. “We can see the way in which anti-Zionism has mutated, so anti-Zionism has become the new antisemitism.”

Gove also accused outgoing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider personally antisemitic, of trying to “smuggle into our political conversation antisemitic expressions and antisemitic tropes.”

Corbyn’s massive defeat in last December’s general election, said Gove, showed that the British public rejected this brand of political antisemitism.

Gove also spoke out against right-wing antisemitism and racism, saying there must be “vigilance against the new identity politics of the far-right which talks about rights for whites.”

“In the same way as some choose to stigmatize and vilify the Jewish community, there are others who are equally willing to use stereotypes to vilify other people who are British, who are our friends and neighbors,” he said.

“What we must do when confronted with hatred and prejudice is stand four-square against it,” he added. “Put whatever political boundaries we have to one side.

Berlin Opens First Counseling Center in Germany for Victims of Antisemitic Attacks

The city of Berlin opened a counseling center for victims of antisemitic harassment and violence on Tuesday, in recognition of the steep rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the German capital in recent years.

Berlin State Senator Dirk Behrendt of the Green Party told German news outlets that the “high number of antisemitic crimes” meant that victims should receive more specialized assistance.

The Berlin municipal authorities will fund the center — called OFEK, the Hebrew word for “horizon” — with a grant of 120,000 euros for 2020.

Marina Chernivsky — OFEK’s managing director — said that one of the key purposes of the center was to make a difference at an emotional level.

“We don’t just want to lecture on the forms of antisemitism, but to build bridges to people – to their emotions, questions and defensive reactions,” she said.

As well as offering counseling in person and remotely, OFEK will also assist victims with legal advice.

The center’s opening coincided with the publication of police statistics that showed a decline in antisemitic attacks in Berlin in 2019. Authorities registered 289 cases in 2019 — a drop of nearly 15 percent on the previous year’s toll of 329 incidents.

Romania Appoints Official to Combat Antisemitism, Commemorate Holocaust

Romania has appointed Silviu Vexler, a member of the country’s Chamber of Deputies, as its high representative for fighting antisemitism, protecting the memory of the Holocaust and the development of Jewish life.

His appointment by the government received broad bipartisan support in the Romanian Parliament. The creation of the position follows similar measures taken by several European governments that have established senior level posts to coordinate the fight against antisemitism.

In his new position, Vexler, a member of parliament, will coordinate legislative and educational initiatives to combat antisemitism and commemorate the Holocaust. He will also be charged with helping promote the history, culture and traditions of Romania’s Jews.

The parliament adopted Romania’s Law for Preventing and Combating Antisemitism in 2018, and the Law for the Establishment of the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in 2019. Vexler introduced both pieces of legislation.

Chairman of the Romania-Israel Parliamentary Friend Group, he has represented the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FEDROM) in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Romania’s bicameral parliament, since 2016.

The American Jewish Committee applauded the move.

Israeli defense firm Elbit wins US Air Force contract worth up to $476 million

Israeli defense firm Elbit said Monday that its US subsidiary, Elbit America, had won a US Air Force contract worth up to $471 million.

The company will supply a missile warning system to F-16 fighter jets belonging to the US Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command.

The work will be carried out in Fort Worth, Texas, where Elbit’s US subsidiary is based, over a 10-year period. The fixed-price deal’s ceiling is $471.6 million and is starting with an order valued at $17 million, the Pentagon said.

Neither Elbit nor the Pentagon identified the specific system, only describing it as a pylon-based infrared missile warning system.

Elbit’s Passive Airborne Warning Systems (PAWS) are suitable for F-16s and can be configured to an aircraft’s pylons. The combat-tested system provides 360 degree threat detection and tracking, and automatically manages countermeasures, Elbit says. The Israeli military flies US-produced F-16s.

Israel’s arms exports over past four years at highest ever

Israel’s arms exports over the past four years were the highest ever, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

From 2015-2019, Israeli arms exports accounted for 3% of the global total, the report said. Israel was the world’s eighth-largest arms supplier, and its arms exports were 77% higher than in 2010-2014, SIPRI said.

The top three buyers of Israeli arms were India (45% of the total amount), Azerbaijan (17%) and Vietnam (8.5%). The top three arms suppliers to Israel were the US (78%), Germany (16%) and Italy (6.2%).

Israel’s military spending was $15.9 billion in 2018, a small increase of 0.7% compared with 2017. “After a peak in 2015 – related to military operations in 2014 in the Gaza Strip – Israeli military expenditure decreased by 13% in 2016 and by 1.0% in 2017,” the report said.

The Defense Ministry’s exports unit reported last year that military exports were $7.5b. in 2018, the first decline in three years. While the figure for 2018 was $1.7b. less than in the previous year, it was still higher than the average for the past decade.

Israelis invent colorblindness-correcting contact lenses

Two Israeli researchers report that they can correct deuteranomaly, a form of red-green colorblindness, with customizable contact lenses.

As reported in the Optical Society journal Optics Letters, Tel Aviv University’s Sharon Karepov and Tal Ellenbogen incorporated ultra-thin optical devices into off-the-shelf contact lenses.

Test subjects saw their color perception improve up to a factor of 10.

“Problems with distinguishing red from green interrupt simple daily routines such as deciding whether a banana is ripe,” said Karepov, from the university’s department of physical electronics.

“Our contact lenses use metasurfaces based on nano-metric size gold ellipses to create a customized, compact and durable way to address these deficiencies.”

This marks the first time tiny optical devices have successfully been fused to curved surfaces.

Although clinical testing would be needed before the contact lenses could be marketed, the researchers believe that manufacturers could embed the metasurface during the molding stage of contact lens fabrication or thermally fuse them to a rigid contact lens.

They plan to keep studying and improving their unique metasurface transfer process and test it for other applications.

Israeli-made oral vaccine for coronavirus on track, but testing will take months

An effective Israeli-developed vaccine for coronavirus is on track to be ready for testing within “a few weeks,” though it won’t be available for months because of the lengthy and sometimes bureaucratic testing and approval process, a member of the development team said Tuesday.

Chen Katz told The Times of Israel that the new oral vaccine for adults and children could “turn this disease into a very mild cold.” He said that for many people who are inoculated and then infected by COVID-19, “potentially it will not affect them at all.”

The rapid potential progress by the state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute stems from the fact that the institute has been working for four years toward a vaccine that could be customized for various viruses, and has now adapted that work to focus on the coronavirus, he said.

Nonetheless, while Israel’s science ministry made headlines last week by touting the institute’s work and saying that its vaccine could be three months away, Dr. Asher Shalmon, the Health Ministry’s director of international relations, has warned against placing “false hopes” in it.

The vaccine will consist of a specially produced protein, and Katz said he expects to be clutching a bottle of it within “a few weeks.” But then comes clinical testing, which will take place in conjunction with a partner, and the paperwork, both of which will take time.

Katz, Biotechnology Group Leader at the institute, said: “By the time the protein is ready, we hope to have found the right partner who can take us through the clinical stage. The clinical testing experiments themselves are not so long, and we can complete them in 30 days, plus another 30 days for human trials. Most of the time is bureaucracy — regulation and paperwork.”

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