Jonathan S. Tobin: Obama is back
The centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy was an attempt to bring about a rapprochement with Iran that would, in the words of the former president, give the Islamist regime a “chance to get right with the world.”
Unfortunately, Iran was never interested in that opportunity and exploited Obama’s eagerness for a nuclear deal that would be his signature foreign-policy accomplishment. The result was a weak pact and an emboldened Iranian regime.
Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal has been denounced by Democrats, as well as Obama’s “media echo chamber.” But his “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran has put the regime on its heels and given other states in the region hope that its quest for regional hegemony can be stopped.
The other major difference concerns the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Biden has sounded more supportive of Israel than his boss or most of his 2020 Democratic competitors. But the former vice president also remains an enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s efforts to pressure the Jewish state into concessions that the majority of its people have rejected as irresponsible and a danger to their security.
Biden opposes Trump’s efforts to end Obama’s policy of more “daylight” between the United States and Israel, such as the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory and the effort to force the Palestinian Authority to stop funding terrorism.
Instead, a Biden administration – staffed by Obama alumni – may take the region back to the old failed US policies that believed Israel had to be saved from itself, and which also rejected the strong consensus among the Jewish state’s voters that there is no viable Palestinian peace partner.
Turning back the clock to the way the world looked four years ago may sound good to Trump’s critics, but in the Middle East, it will be also be good news for a dangerous regime in Iran and Palestinian rejectionists who long for the days when America was joining with the mob trying to pressure Israel rather than standing up to it. Unless and until Biden is ready to say where he differs from the man he served so faithfully, he will be vulnerable to criticism that his election will be a rerun of Obama’s Middle East policies that have already been tried and failed.
.@KenRoth As the #1 campaigner for the U.N.’s new blacklist of 96 Israeli companies, are you willing to declare that your staff & followers should boycott a vaccine tied to any Israeli company that may be on or added to the blacklist?
Didn’t think so.https://t.co/PiKBgQ1N4T
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 12, 2020
The men running Senator Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic Party nomination may have been oblivious to how ordinary Americans feel about his close relationship to Sharia-supporting Muslims, but the rest of the country, including liberal Muslims and Indian Americans, found his close association with more radical Muslims deeply disturbing.
Sanders’ advisors make for a strange combination. His Campaign Co-Chair is Rep. ‘Ro’ (Rohit) Khanna who, despite being a Hindu of Indian ancestry joined the ‘Pakistan Caucus’ in the U.S. Congress; a move hailed by Pakistan’s Ambassador, but condemned by 230 Indian American organizations.
Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir, also of Pakistani Muslim ancestry, was believed to be instrumental in getting the Senator to speak at a convention of the controversial group Islamic Society of North America.
If the objective was to add an extra (Muslim) 2-3% of the vote to an already enthusiastic base of young Americans, blue-collar white workers and the Latino vote bank, it is not difficult to understand why on the eve of Super Tuesday One, Sanders was pictured hugging controversial Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
As if this wasn’t enough, liberal and reform-minded American Muslims tell me, even the socialists and social democrats among them have said goodbye to America’s “democratic socialist.”
Some of us are old enough to have seen the failings of the mainstream left in Europe, Iran, India, Turkey, the Arab World and Africa. The Islamists latched on to the ‘anti-Americanism’ of the Marxists and then decimated the left like a parasite.
Today, they would rather live with a President Biden or even a re-elected Trump than see a potential Islamist in the White House.
Rasha Al Aqeedi, Managing Editor of Raise Your Voice magazine, put the feelings of liberal and secular U.S. Muslims in a tweet: “Seriously who is advising Sanders? It’s not a marginal issue when we have been for months hearing about “Muslims support Sanders.” Either drop that line if you don’t want to hear the counter perspective or change it to “opportunist sectarians support Sanders.”
A professor at California State University, Stanislaus, with a long history of anti-Israel and antisemitic statements claimed on Sunday that the Jewish state was planning to discriminate against Arab coronavirus victims and put them in “mass prisons,” and then blamed subsequent complaints on the work of “Zionist hoodlums.”
Asad Abukhalil, a professor of political science, tweeted on March 8, “Israel will — I am sure — have different medical procedures for Jews and non-Jews. Non-Jews will be put in mass prisons.”
The response was immediate, with many pointing out that there is equality of treatment and employment in Israeli hospitals, with many Arab doctors and nurses.
“I’m so surprised you would say that,” said one response. “My Israeli mom was hospitalized for 2 months in Israel. Her supervising Dr. & many of her Drs & nurses were Israeli Arabs working side by side w Israeli Jews. They were wonderful.”
“Are you suggesting that those Arab doctors will discriminate???” it asked.
Another respondent said, “Ive personally been in Israeli hospitals seeing Jewish & Arab Israeli staff treating Jewish & Arab citizens w/ same protocols in same rooms.”
On Tuesday, Abukhalil said he had been merely joking, and then went on a tirade about “Zionist hoodlums” reporting his tweet.
“If mocking Israeli racism is anti-Semitism, how do you deal with the true racism of the Israeli state, which was founded on series of discriminatory law [sic] and which has only been adding more Racist discmriminatory [sic] laws ever since it was founded atop the Palestinian nation,” he tweeted.
The anti-Israel group IfNotNow has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president, announced the presidential candidate’s campaign on Wednesday.
“IfNotNow is building an inspiring movement of young Jews working to promote peace in the Middle East,” said Sanders in a statement.
“They know, as I do, that the United States must play a major role in bringing people together to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and build a future of security, dignity and equality for all Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “As a strong supporter of Israel who also believes its people have the right to exist in peace and security through a two-state solution, I am proud to have their endorsement.”
The Sanders campaign released an ad on Wednesday featuring the endorsement by IfNotNow.
Of Sander’s prospects to become the Democratic candidate this fall, IfNotNow Co-Founder and Campaign Director Dani Moscovitch said “this fight is not over. As a movement of young Jews fighting for freedom and dignity for all, we are proud to be the first Jewish organization to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president.”
“Like us, Bernie rejects the false choice between being a proud Jew and supporting Palestinian freedom,” she continued. “He has embraced the common sense position that the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people should end—and that our tax dollars should stop funding it. As the right weaponizes antisemitism to keep Americans divided and keep power in the hands of the few, we trust Bernie to lead us towards a future where everyone has what they need to thrive—by fighting racism and antisemitism, and fighting for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.”
MI-Based Imam Mustapha Elturk, Who Endorsed Bernie Sanders: Islam Is Far Superior to Man-Made Systems of Government; I Immigrated to U.S. Because Here, People Can Freely Spread Islamic Ideology pic.twitter.com/xTwrktBgfJ
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) March 12, 2020
Democratic representative Ilhan Omar (Minn.) married her top political consultant, whose firm received more than half a million dollars from Omar’s campaign coffers last year.
Omar denied allegations of an affair with Tim Mynett, her top campaign consultant, after reports surfaced last August alleging the two were romantically involved. During this time, cash flowed freely from Omar’s campaign to the E Street Group, a consulting firm owned by Mynett.
“Got Married! From partners in politics to life partners, so blessed. Alhamdulillah,” the congresswoman wrote in a Wednesday night Instagram post with a photo of herself and Mynett.
Throughout 2019, Omar funneled $525,000 to Mynett’s firm for consulting, direct mail, research services, travel expenses, advertisements, and graphic designs. The payments to Mynett’s firm steadily increased as the year progressed. During the last three months of 2019, Omar’s campaign spent $404,000. Mynett’s firm received $215,000 of that amount, more than 50 percent of the campaign’s total expenditures.
The affair went public after Mynett’s ex-wife, Dr. Beth Mynett, said in divorce papers that her husband was involved with Omar. “The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” court papers said.
How many pro-Israel t-shirts and books does this woman own? pic.twitter.com/RDEjY3xby4
— AZ (@americanzionism) March 11, 2020
Chana Newman no longer feels alone.
Since news broke of the professor’s lawsuit against Point Park University, claiming employment discrimination based on her Jewish and Israeli ancestry, and alleging that there has been a concerted effort led by anti-Zionist faculty and students to create a hostile work environment, support for her cause has been “overwhelming,” she said.
She has received messages from people all over the world, including Austria, Canada and Israel, telling her they are in her corner following what she claims is a concerted effort by university employees to stigmatize her and sabotage her career because she is Jewish and a Zionist.
Newman, a Holocaust survivor with U.S., Israeli and Czech citizenship, has been employed by Point Park since 1964. She is currently the chair of the department of humanities and social sciences and is a professor of French and cultural studies.
She originally filed her multicount complaint against the university in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, but the case has been removed to federal court by the attorneys for Point Park.
In her lawsuit, Newman alleges that Professor Robert Ross, an outspoken critic of Israel, used his position at the university to promote “highly anti-Zionist views and activities” and to “foster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.” She says that Ross and others sought to have her removed from her position because she did not acquiesce to their one-sided presentation of the conflict.
An advisory committee at Brown University has formally recommended that the Rhode Island school divest from “any company that profits from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”
The Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies (ACCRIP), which met on Tuesday, cited criteria in the recently released UN Human Rights Council’s database of 112 companies that do business in Israeli neighborhoods in the West Bank.
These activities include supplying “equipment and materials facilitating the construction and the expansion of settlements and the [security] wall,” supplying “equipment for the demolition of housing and property” and providing “security services, equipment and materials to enterprises operating in settlements.”
In December, ACCRIP voted in favor of supporting the BDS movement that works to boycott Israel.
The ACCRIP, which consists of university students, faculty, staff and alumni, vote on resolutions surrounding “ethical and moral issues or issues of alleged social harm with respect to the activities of corporations in which the university is an investor,” according to its website.
The vote occurred just months after Brown students voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum calling on the school to separate itself from companies that conduct business with the State of Israel.
Brown University has 1,000 Jewish undergraduates and 200 Jewish graduates, according to Hillel International. Chabad at Brown also serves Jewish students on campus.
Demanding that Jews should be barred from visiting the holiest site of their faith is appalling racism. And just as the term “blood libel” is nowadays often used to refer to baseless accusations of Israel killing Palestinians just for fun (i.e. without the ritual murder aspect),+ https://t.co/yLgwim2WoR
— Dr. Petra Marquardt-Bigman (@WarpedMirrorPMB) March 11, 2020
Raymond Ibrahim: The Army Times Defends Terrorist-Linked CAIR
Prior to my February 26 US Army War College talk, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”), Linda Sarsour, and their leftist allies began another round of press releases and petitions, referring to me as an “infamous Islamophobe” and urging the War College to cancel my lecture on Sword and Scimitar, which CAIR insisted would be “hypocritical, ahistorical and hateful.”
In the midst of all this, Kyle Rempfer, a reporter from the Army Times, widely regarded as the preeminent publication for military men and veterans, contacted me. Along with answering his questions, I made it a point to stress that CAIR is an “unindicted co-conspirator” of terrorist Hamas, and that US allies such as the UAE designate CAIR, by name, as a “terrorist organization”—right up there with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
When the report, “Muslim-American advocates protest upcoming Army War College speaker,” came out, I was not surprised to discover that Rempfer had quoted, at great length, CAIR’s false claims and criticisms against me—amplified by his own independent research: he had told me beforehand that he meant to be absolutely transparent, and did, to his credit, quote some of my defenses.
That said, and considering his supposed premium on “transparency,” I was a little surprised to see that he did not deem it relevant to inform Army Times’ readership that CAIR is a designated co-conspirator in the largest terrorist funding case in US history—even though I had sent him ample documentation, including this US Justice Dept. letter and other court evidence that makes clear what CAIR’s “work in America” is all about. To quote from the “explanatory memorandum” of the Muslim Brotherhood (CAIR’s parent organization):
The Ikhwan [The Brotherhood and its offshoots] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
Recently I shared some social media comments from the monthly report I get on antisemitic incidents in NZ. Many came from the “Aotearoa Standing with Palestine” Facebook page.
Here’s its latest “just criticism of Israeli policies definitely not a blood libel” offering: pic.twitter.com/JwQMhsw7qW
— Juliet Moses (@JulietMosesNZ) March 11, 2020
There’s a silver lining in everything. https://t.co/3QRicwBRQY
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) March 12, 2020
Canadian author Marcello Di Cintio published a book dedicated to walls around the world, a project that he undertook after visiting Israel’s West Bank security barrier. Since the 2012 publication of Walls: Travels Along the Barricade, Di Cintio continues to visit walls across the continents. But news consumers should nevertheless not mistake Di Cintio for any kind of authority on Israel’s security barrier. Indeed, in a 54-minuted interview Feb. 28 with Nahlah Ayed, host of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Ideas,” a nightly radio broadcast, the two repeatedly discussed the Israeli security barrier, but not once did either Di Cintio or Ayed mention the reason for its construction in the early 2000s: hundreds of Palestinian bombings and other fatal terror attacks which killed nearly 1,000 Israelis (“A Symbol of Failure: The Resurgence of Border Walls“).
In their entirely propagandistic depiction of Israel’s live-saving barrier, the duo dwell on the supposed “illusion of effectiveness” of the barrier, ignoring that hard data demonstrates that barrier’s effectiveness, not failure. But again, Di Cintio and Ayed never mentioned the purpose of the barrier – to stop terror attacks – and instead present it as a “frontline weapon” in the “battle to delineate ‘here’ and ‘there,’ as well as to define ‘us’ and ‘them.’”
In the interview, part five of the CBC series “Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us,” Di Cintio says of walls around the world:
They look good on television. They appear as if someone’s doing something about a problem. The –Israel’s wall around the West Bank – people walk through it and pass it all the time every day. But it looks really great on television. If offers a sense of security if not actual security. So the walls have that visual caché to them that gives the illusion of effectiveness. A sense of security is not the same as security. But it’s still something. It’s still something that people cling to, that they feel safer even if they’re not. Depending on what does safer even mean. So they’re theatrical.
[Later in the interview, Di Cintio appeared to completely contradict his own argument that the people pass through the barrier all the time and are therefore not effective. Towards the end of the broadcast, he remarked that as a white person, “I could just traipse back and forth through the fortress barriers when everyone around me could not do that.”]
Since neither Di Cintio nor Ayed fail to state what security does mean in the context of Israel’s West Bank barrier, we’ll explain: It means riding a bus to school, or joining friends for a bite at the local pizzeria without being blown to bits. It means attending your friend’s or cousin’s bar mitzvah celebration, or the family Passover seder at a hotel, and not finding yourself in a the middle of a massive, fatal terror attacks. These actual cases are very basic criteria of safety, and yet Di Cintio and Ayed conceal them from CBC listeners.
On March 11th the BBC News website published a report headlined “Palestinian teenager killed in West Bank clash”. BBC audiences were told that:
“A Palestinian teenager has reportedly been shot dead by Israeli forces during a clash in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian medics said Mohammed Hamayel, 15, was hit in the face by live ammunition near the village of Beita, south of the city of Nablus.
Israel’s military said 500 Palestinians took part in what it called a violent riot, hurling rocks towards its troops and setting tyres on fire.”
Apparently the BBC is not convinced that 500 people throwing rocks and petrol bombs is a violent riot and so found it necessary to qualify that description. No such qualification was seen however concerning the claim of the use of “live ammunition”. AP reported that witnesses stated that the IDF had used rubber coated bullets and in response to an enquiry from CAMERA, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus confirmed that the army used only rubber bullets.
Earlier this week the Times of Israel reported that:
“The Hamas-run Health Ministry has urged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to avoid travel abroad as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world.
No cases of the virus have been reported in Gaza, where more than 2 million people live, including many in densely populated neighborhoods.
“We call on citizens to not depart the Gaza Strip — unless totally necessary — in order to preserve their well-being,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. […]
The ministry also said that all persons returning to Gaza via the Rafah crossing would be required to quarantine themselves in their homes for two weeks.”
That announcement may come as something of a surprise to those accustomed to the BBC’s cross-platform portrayal of the topic of travel to and from the Gaza Strip – including that sourced from Hamas officials.
The city of York in England will next week commemorate 150 Jews who were murdered in an infamous massacre almost 900 years ago.
The lantern-lit commemoration will take place on March 16 at Clifford’s Tower — site of the mass killing on March 16, 1190.
Attendees will be able to listen to music and readings, as well as light lanterns and lay pebbles in honor of those who lost their lives.
“We hope to see both residents and visitors join us at the Clifford’s Tower memorial to show their support for York’s Jewish population,” local councilor Darryl Smalley said in a statement announcing the event.
The massacre in York was the culmination of a series of deadly anti-Jewish riots that rocked England at the height of the religious fervor of the Crusades.
The chronicler William of Newburgh described the York rioters as acting “without any scruple of Christian conscientiousness” in wiping out the Jewish community.
The mob’s first act was to attempt to burn the house of Benedict of York, a wealthy Jewish moneylender who was owed substantial debts by local noblemen. These nobles saw the riots as an opportunity to wipe out their debts to Benedict and other Jews in the city.
The Conspiracy of the Origin of Ashkenazi Jews (h/t IsraellyCool)
This week, we’re looking at a long-standing conspiracy theory that claims that Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the Khazars.
If it were true, that would make Ashkenazim offshoots of a multi-ethnic conglomerate of Turkic people who converted en masse in the eight century in the kingdom of Khazaria.
Turns out, it’s totally false.
Unlike other conspiracy theories, though, it’s not just a fringe few who are pushing this idea. It has the backing of academics, including some in Israel – with dangerous implications.
The hypothesis has been disproved, so why does it continue to resonate and how did an attempt to use the theory to fight back against antisemitism in the 1970s end up fueling anti-Israel rhetoric to this day?
Actress Uma Thurman will star in “Suspicion,” the AppleTV+ remake of the Israeli thriller drama “False Flag,” originally called “Kfulim” (Doubles) on Keshet.
The “Kill Bill” and “Pulp Fiction” star will lead a cast that includes Kunal Nayyar (“The Big Bang Theory”), Noah Emmerich (“The Americans”), Georgina Campbell (“Black Mirror”), Elyes Gabel (“Scorpion”), Elizabeth Henstridge (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Angel Coulby (“Dancing On The Edge”).
“Uma Thurman and the other actors in this production are among the world’s best,” said Avi Nir, who heads Keshet.
The remade show, which was created by Keshet, is being produced by Keshet Productions, the British branch of the Israeli studio.
The original show focused on five ordinary Israelis who wake up one morning to discover they are under suspicion of involvement in a high-profile kidnapping.
In the remake, Thurman stars as a successful American businesswoman whose 21-year-old son is kidnapped while staying in large, well-known hotel in Manhattan. His abduction is captured on video and goes viral. This time, the suspects are four British citizens staying in the same hotel on the night of the incident.
The original show, which was created by Amit Cohen and Maria Feldman, first aired on Israel’s Channel 2 in 2015.
As of Thursday morning, Israel has 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections. And in a bid to stop the disease from spreading and to minimize the exposure of people with compromised immune systems to coronavirus, Magen David Adom is launching a video chat service to prevent people who might be carrying the highly contagious virus from coming into hospitals.
Using video chat, doctors will be able to guide MDA paramedics who respond to calls in people’s homes and consult them in non-urgent cases that do not require hospitalization. This process, the emergency services say, could potentially cut down by a third the number of people brought into the emergency room for treatment.
“We’ve been planning a community medicine program for three years,” says MDA director general Eli Bin. “But the need for this type of initiative has become much more urgent in light of the current coronavirus crisis, where taking a patient to the hospital presents serious risks – especially when the patient might not be severely ill, but can still be highly contagious, potentially putting immunocompromised patients at the hospital in danger.”
Meanwhile, startups and companies around Israel are joining the effort to battle coronavirus by putting forward ingenious solutions to help mitigate the disease.
Stuck at home until you get the all-clear that you’re not a coronavirus carrier? Despair not.
Annoying as it is, lounging around at home does have its upsides – you can finally indulge in all those things you never have time for, whether it be taking a cooking masterclass, attending to your cracked heels or getting through that book you’ve been ignoring all year.
To spare you debilitating FOMO anxiety, we’ve rounded up the best 10 things to do while you’re stranded at home, all courtesy of Israel. Stay safe!
1. Binge on your favorite TV show
There’s nothing like quarantine to indulge in a small TV binge – after all, it’s not as if you can do much else. Luckily enough, the amount of good Israeli TV out there will most definitely take a few weeks to get through.
Whether you enjoy fast-paced action (latest season of “Fauda,” anyone?) or more thoughtful drama (hey there, “Shtisel”), there’s really something to fill every hour of your day.
Coronavirus scares may be closing the skies, and travel all over the world drastically reducing, but there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy a trip around Israel. Even if you can’t get here by plane.
To help you while away your days and imagine you are still traveling, we’ve put together a north to south tour of the country. It’ll help you plan your next visit, when everything gets back to normal.
Relax, check out our lovely videos, and lose yourselves in Israel!
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.