February 29, 2020

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03/12 Links Pt2: Political Powerlessness Is Expensive; Trump Promotes ‘Jexodus’; Anti-Boycott Laws Are Not "Loyalty Oaths to Israel"; Ilhan Omar Can’t Break the U.S.-Israel Bond


From Ian:

Political Powerlessness Is Expensive
Without AIPAC and its infrastructure, there is no institutional U.S. support for the peace process. Why? Because only 21 percent of Americans sympathize more with the Palestinians than with the Israelis. Just as the evangelical Christian community is the base of U.S. support for the Jewish state, it is the liberal Jewish establishment that advances the idea of a Palestinian state.

So why did Obama rub this community’s nose in the ground? Why did he have to corner AIPAC, for instance, by appointing Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, a man who referred to it as the “Jewish lobby” and proudly announced that, unlike some of his peers, he was not an “Israeli senator”?

Then there was the Iran deal, the making and marketing of which was a bloody affair, intended not only to secure the president’s key foreign policy initiative, but also to humiliate his opponents.

Accordingly, the president, and a complicit press corps, used anti-Semitic conceits to bludgeon Jewish community leaders, Democrats as well as Republicans. They were beholden to “donors” and “lobbies,” and more loyal to Israel than their own country. There’s barely a stone’s throw from what Obama said to what Omar has said and tweeted.

Obama explained that the Islamic Republic uses anti-Semitic rhetoric as an “organizing tool.” He went after AIPAC not because he personally dislikes Jews or Israel, but because he promised to radically transform America. So he had to start with the one institution he had absolute control over: the Democratic Party. He hacked away at the Jewish community because American Jewry is the pillar of the liberal political establishment.

By targeting AIPAC, and rejecting the foundational nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Obama crippled the party’s then-dominant liberal wing and empowered the progressives, whose ranks the Jews are more than welcome to join—but on new terms. On Rep. Ilhan Omar’s terms. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Trump Promotes ‘Jexodus’

A few days after declaring the Democratic Party the “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party, President Trump promoted the nascent “Jexodus” movement, urging young Jewish Democrats to abandon the party.

As The Daily Wire reported last week, Jexodus is a newly formed group geared toward “Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics.” In a press release announcing its launch, Jexodus laid out its mission:

We are proud Jewish Millennials tired of living in bondage to leftist politics. We reject the hypocrisy, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism of the rising far-left. Progressives, Democrats, and far too many old-school Jewish organizations take our support for granted. After all, we’re Jewish, and Jews vote for Democrats.

Until today.

We are determined and we are unafraid to speak for ourselves. As combatants and veterans of the campus wars, we know the threat progressivism poses to Jews. We’ve had front row seats witnessing anti-Semites hide behind the thin veil of anti-Zionism. We know the BDS movement harbors deep hatred not only for Israel, but for Jews. We’re done standing with supposed Jewish leaders and allegedly supportive Democrats who rationalize, mainstream, and promote our enemies. We’d rather spend forty years wandering in the desert than belong to a party that welcomes Jew-haters like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On Tuesday morning, President Trump promoted the group by tweeting out a quote from the group’s national spokeswoman Elizabeth Pipko:

Multicultural Jew-Hatred: Failed Ideologies Bond Over Scapegoating

Yes, the radical Islamists and their allies, the radical Leftists, hate Jews and Americans. Bernard Lewis wrote a masterpiece about it entitled What Went Wrong?, explaining that the Middle Eastern Islamic world constitutes one vast area of failure. Unwilling or incapable of taking the blame for this epic failure, they blamed it on the West — above all, on the United States and the Jews. Ironically, they imported these doctrines from the West they hate.

As Martin Kramer says, if there had been Nobel prizes a thousand years ago, almost all of them would have gone to Muslims. Today you can count them on the fingers of one mutilated hand, and those were invariably trained at Oxford or Cal Tech. Most Nobel laureates, above all in the hard sciences, are Americans (or trained or worked in America), and a spectacular percentage of those are Jewish. As of 2017, 22.5 percent of Nobel winners were Jews, out of a global population of 0.2 percent. The anti-Semites hate that, taking it as evidence of the power of the Jewish conspiracy.

The Islamic peoples have earned their low standing. Between the late Ninth Century to the beginning of the 20th Century — a thousand years — fewer books were translated from foreign languages to Arabic than were translated into Spanish in Spain alone. No wonder they are so prone to crazy theories about us.

Moreover, their countries are for the most part despotic failures, while Israel and the United States are bursting with freedom, energy and creativity (and good food). The Muslims know this, and of late some of their leaders have finally begun to work with Israel, and increased cooperation with America. They know that they have invariably been defeated by Israel and America in every armed conflict, whether in the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the fight against ISIS, the war in Iraq, or on the Afghanistan battlefield.

Our superiority enrages them, as does our refusal to convert to Islam, just as our refusal to convert to Christianity fueled so much Jew-hatred throughout the centuries.

Anti-Boycott Laws Are Not “Loyalty Oaths to Israel”

Various states have passed legislation that bans their state governments from contracting with businesses that refuse to do business with Israeli-affiliated institutions and individuals. The ACLU has launched both a litigation and public relations campaign against the laws. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but there is something wrong with the ACLU publicly arguing that contractors are being forced to sign a “loyalty oath” to Israel.

ACLU political director Faiz Shakir said: “a state is going to say that we’re not going to do business with an American citizen because they refuse to take a loyalty oath.” The ACLU blog reprinted an article stating that the law requires “a loyalty oath to the state of Israel.” An ACLU legal brief stated: “There is no plausible justification for…the loyalty oath.” This is complete nonsense.

Contractors certifying that their businesses don’t boycott Israel-related entities is no more a “loyalty oath” to Israel than certifying that they don’t refuse to deal with black or gay or women-owned business or nonunion businesses is a “loyalty oath” to blacks, gays, women, or unions.

By falsely spreading the meme that no-boycott certifications amount to not just loyalty oaths, but loyalty oaths to a foreign government, the ACLU has spread the canard that pro-Israel organizations want to use the force of the state to require everyone to be “loyal” to Israel.

Md’s BDS law prevents discrimination against Israel

The conflict between Israel and Palestinians does not involve the United States Constitution, and those who engage in BDS activity in the U.S. are participating in a secondary boycott to influence U.S. foreign policy. The Supreme Court case International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO v. Allied Int’l, Inc., involved a secondary boycott where workers refused to unload Soviet cargo to protest the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did not protect the workers, since neither they nor the ship’s owners nor the American consumers that were being penalized by the boycott were a party to the foreign dispute.
Maryland man sues Hogan, Frosh for executive order forbidding contracts with those who boycott Israel

The State of Israel recently released a report, Terrorists in Suits, which extensively details the material connections between those that head and finance the BDS Movement and designated terrorist entities. Anti-Israel terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were involved in the formation of BDS and continue to manage BDS activity worldwide. While a person has a First Amendment right to express a political opinion, the Supreme Court has ruled that this does not include the right to engage in advocacy that constitutes material support to terror.

The BDS campaign’s discriminatory nature is evident as BDS holds Israel to a double-standard, and BDS advocates actions that would lead to the end of Israel as the nation/state of the Jewish people. When combined with the close association between BDS and terrorist organizations, it is no wonder that so many states have distanced themselves from BDS. Implementing constitutionally-protected anti-BDS legislation is a decision that allows states to express loud and clear the will of their citizens. We have no doubt that a judge will uphold Maryland’s.

Matti Friedman: The department of lost spies: How Israel brings its missing soldiers home

On the morning of Dec. 22, 1947, in the first weeks of Israel’s War of Independence, a 19-year-old stepped out of a car on a stretch of road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He had a neat mustache, spoke Arabic and carried the modest toolkit of an itinerant barber. The friend who dropped him off sat behind the steering wheel and watched him stride off toward a nearby Arab town. No one ever saw him again.

Seven decades later, what’s left of the vanished 19-year-old – the details of his short life, a description of what he was really doing that day and his name, Nissim Attiyeh – can be found in a file in a spartan army office along an ordinary street in the urban sprawl around Tel Aviv. This is where the Israeli military’s missing-soldier unit works. In these offices, the story of Attiyeh, of the strange unit to which he belonged, and the stories of others who disappeared in battle 70 years ago, remain alive long after they’ve been forgotten nearly everywhere else.

I encountered Attiyeh’s story while writing a book about a few young men who became Israel’s first spies in the war. The spies belonged to a small, amateurish unit called the Arab Section, which was part of the Jewish military underground before the creation of the army and the state. It went on to become one of the seeds of the Mossad. The unit’s story, though dramatic and important, has – like that of Attiyeh – been mostly lost to history. When I visited the missing-soldier unit in February, after years of work on this project, I felt a kinship with the researchers. In my book, I’ve tried to do what they’ve been trying to do: resurrect something that has been forgotten and give it the place it deserves.

In December, 1947, the first month of the War of Independence, irregular Jewish and Arab forces were fighting a hit-and-run war. The British, who had ruled Palestine for 30 years, were about to pull out, leaving the sides to decide the fate of the country. Palestine was disintegrating into a civil war. The declaration of the state of Israel, and the invasion of five Arab armies, was five months away.

How David Cameron’s London Holocaust memorial turned to a battle of wills

In 2016, then-prime minister David Cameron announced a project to build a “striking” Holocaust memorial at the heart of Britain’s capital. The idea of commemorating Europe’s worst genocide was well received by the House and Jewish bodies. It was the location of the monument, “beside the houses of parliament” that proved to be a serious bone of contention.

To Cameron, the purposely chosen Westminster location was to “act as a permanent statement” of Britain’s “values as a nation,” resonating for “generations to come.” Some opponents however, saw it as yet another example of “Jewish lobby’s” alleged stranglehold over British politics.

Residents’ legitimate concerns over noise levels and preserving Victoria Tower Gardens’ green space, were soon overtaken by what Christians United for Israel (CUFI) describe as a “sinister” antisemitic tone.

It seems like Cameron’s attempt to educate the public about “the darkest hour of humanity” has brought poisonous antisemitic sentiments to the fore, and unintentionally turned the monument into a symbol of ideological struggle that both sides are determined to win.

Three years on, the discussion has shifted from residents’ concerns over quality of life, to age-old conspiracy theories and the rising plague of antisemitism.

At the heart of this shift is the fundamental change that has hit Britain’s political climate over the three years following the plan’s conception.

Walter Russell Mead (WSJ$): Ilhan Omar Can’t Break the U.S.-Israel Bond

Rep. Ilhan Omar is a gifted and ambitious politician who thinks Jew-baiting will help her career. Will the new wave of anti-Israel activists succeed in breaking up the U.S.-Israel alliance?

The answer is almost certainly no, less because of the Benjamins than the weakness of the conspiratorial anti-Israel case. The argument that the American Jewish community – animated by slavish loyalty to the Jewish state, armed with unlimited financial resources, and abetted by fundamentalist Christians hoping for Armageddon – has imposed a pro-Israel policy on the gentile majority strikes most Americans as implausible and lame.

Americans who follow politics at all know that American Jews are anything but monolithic on the subject of Israel. Americans also know that Christian support for Israel is not confined to Bible-thumping fundamentalists. It has been widespread among Christians of many theological views who admire Israel’s economic success and military strength, and who abhor the venomous Jew-hatred that is so regrettably prevalent among some Muslims today.

The theory that “the Jews” control American foreign policy by distributing Benjamins to elected officials reflects not just anti-Semitism but contempt for the American people as a whole.

Omar, like many other anti-Israel activists, seems to believe that mixing crackpot theories about U.S. politics with insults to voters’ intelligence will change the way Americans see the Middle East conflict. When this strategy fails, as it invariably does, anti-Israel activists attribute the failure not to the weakness of their arguments but once more to the Benjamins of those oh-so-clever Jews, and to the stupidity of the hypnotized non-Jewish voters.

Shmuley Boteach: Ilhan Omar is throwback to days of segregation, when racists openly roamed halls of Congress

Omar represents a threat to the Jewish community because her incendiary antisemitism is penetrating the broader body politic. She is challenging the morality of the Democratic Party, which failed the test last week to demonstrate its intolerance for Jew-hatred. The resolution it passed was meaningless, because any statement that condemns everything, condemns nothing.

SO, WHO will rise to oppose Omar?

Now that it is clear her Democratic colleagues do not have the backbone to stand up to Omar, it is up to her constituents to act. Just two months into her first term in office, instead of serving the needs of her constituents, Omar has decided to use the platform they have given her to attack Jews and Israel.

Is that what the voters of the Fifth Congressional District had in mind when they elected her?

“Rep. Omar has used up the reservoir of goodwill generally granted to those who begin new jobs by repeatedly insulting the Jewish people even after being told that her words are dangerous and hurtful,” Democratic Minnesota state senator Ron Latz said, urging her to “discuss policy without inflaming religious conflict.”

Constituents also have reason to be angry about her “bait-and-switch” position on BDS. During a primary debate in a Minnesota synagogue, Omar said she did not support BDS, but after winning her seat, she admitted to being a proponent of the campaign that seeks the destruction of Israel. This seems less surprising now that she has been exposed as an antisemite.

In 2020, Omar will again face the voters, and it is up to them to send a message to Omar, the Democratic Party and the rest of America that Jew-hatred has no place in American politics, and that people of the great state of Minnesota do not want to be represented by an antisemite.

WATCH: Jim Acosta Says Democratic Party Not Anti-Semitic. Sarah Sanders Schools Him.

According to Jim Acosta, President Trump condemning anti-Jewish sentiment so forcefully was “beneath everybody” and asked Sanders if Trump would tone it down.

“Isn’t that kind of rhetoric just sort of beneath everybody?” Acosta asked Sanders, according to Fox News. “Do you think that the president has thought, at all, going into the 2020 campaign that the rhetoric just needs to be lowered? Whether it’s talking about Democrats, the media, immigrants, or should we just plan on hearing the president use the same kind of language that we heard in 2016 and all through the first couple years of this administration?”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the only shame in this scenario belongs to the Democrats for failing to condemn Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism.

“Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,” Sanders said. “I think that is a great shame. The president has been clear on what his position is, certainly what his support is for the people and the community of Israel.”

Acosta asserted that Trump slamming the Democrats for hating Jews is “patently untrue.”

“Democrats don’t hate Jewish people, that’s just silly,” Acosta said. “It’s not true.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asserted that Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic comments were just a different “use of words.” “The incident that happened, I don’t think our colleague is anti-Semitic,” Pelosi said. “I think she has a different experience in the use of words, doesn’t understand that some of them are fraught with meaning that she didn’t realize.”

REPORT: Nancy Pelosi ‘Visibly Angry’ Over Dem Defections On Bill Condemning Anti-Semitism

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) ongoing battle with the new and more progressive additions to the Democratic House caucus took a new hit last week, after high profile Dems sided with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and not her on a watered-down resolution to “oppose” anti-Semitism.

Democrats were clearly torn over the resolution, which, initially, was supposed to be clear in its condemnation of anti-Semitism, specifically, in the wake of comments made by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who suggested that Jewish lawmakers serving in Congress had “dual loyalties” both to the United States and the State of Israel, which compromised their ability to be effective legislators.

By agreement, the legislation did not mention Omar by name, but longtime Democrats like Pelosi and her House colleague, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), wanted the condemnation to be specific and targeted at anti-Semitic language only. Progressive Democrats, like Ocasio-Cortez, who are apparently more comfortable with Omar’s anti-Semitic language, demanded that the bill be “inclusive” and condemn “all hate.”

In discussions last week, Pelosi apparently lost her cool and became “visibly angry” when Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) suggested that an Ocasio-Cortez tweet taking Democrats to task for not sticking up for all marginalized communities had a point, and that Pelosi might do well to heed the newcomer Democrat’s advice and water down the resolution.

The tweet took Pelosi and others to task for failing to attack Republicans for “racist” language

Newsrooms that went wild when David Duke endorsed Laura Ingraham suddenly silent when he did the same for Rep. Omar

It has been four days since Duke hailed Omar, who has yet to repudiate his endorsement. Not even one of the newsrooms that rushed last year to cover his praise for Ingraham has covered his similarly enthusiastic support for the Democratic congresswoman.

As of Monday morning, the Daily Beast has published nothing on Duke’s applause for Omar. Neither has the AP, the Huffington Post, Politico, or Esquire. Surely, these newsrooms don’t believe Duke cheering a right-wing cable news host deserves coverage, while his support for a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives deserves none. What is the explanation, then, for the disparity in coverage? I have a theory: Duke is interesting to certain newsrooms only insofar as he can be used as a cudgel against conservatives. When he doesn’t serve that purpose, he’s not a story.

The problem for these media organizations is that their selective interest in Duke puts them in the ridiculous position of having to contradict their own news judgment. The reporters and editors who rushed to cover the Ingraham story last year likely never considered the argument against the Fox News host could also be used against a Democratic lawmaker. They thought it was safe to report on Duke’s remarks, suggesting all the while that his support for Ingraham is evidence of her racism. But now Duke has praised Omar, and the same people who reported last year that his endorsement is proof of guilt are finding themselves in an awkward position. They must pretend either that Duke didn’t cheer for Omar or pretend it’s not a newsworthy event compared to his praise for Ingraham. “Ignorant or lying” isn’t a great look for a supposedly serious news organization.

I have a proposal: Instead of doing this dance every time Duke resurfaces from whatever bog he’s haunting to applaud either a conservative or a liberal lawmaker, let’s just agree to never speak of him again.

We’ll be better off for it. Trust me. (h/t MtTB)

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Staff Has “No Comment” After She Unfollows Anti-Semitic Instagram Page

By 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Tlaib was no longer following the free.palestine.1948 account:

By Sunday, a disclaimer appeared on Tlaib’s Instagram bio. The disclaimer was not originally present at the time of the original report:

The new disclaimer reads, “Note: Following someone or group does not mean I endorse all of their posts.”

Tlaib’s new Instagram bio begs the question: which posts does Tlaib endorse? Considering she was, at one time, following the account, it appears, using her logic, she had to endorse at least some of the account’s posts. Were they the ones blaming Jews for the 9/11 attacks? Or the ones accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of using “chaos magic” to control the “gentile world?”

Asked for comment via email on Tlaib following the free.palestine.1948 account, Tlaib unfollowing the account, and Tlaib potentially endorsing the content posted by free.palestine.1948, Tlaib’s communications director replied, “We have no comment on this.”

CAMERA: NYT Bolsters Ilhan Omar’s Anti-Semitic Rhetoric in AIPAC Article

The partisan and misleading reporting of the New York Times has continued to play a role in the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism by progressive Democrats.

Congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, in particular, has bolstered Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic rhetoric — about dual loyalties and Jewish power and money controlling US policy — by:
a) characterizing Tlaib and Omar as critics of Israel who are being condemned by political partisans because of their views on Israel
b) bolstering Omar’s anti-Semitic allegations of Jewish money and power, in the form of the lobbying organization AIPAC, running U.S. foreign policy
c) underscoring Omar’s line of defense that she is being targeted because she is Muslim by emphasizing her claim of victimhood

We’ve already addressed the first method, and will focus on the second one here.

In her article, Concerns Raised Over Power Wielded by a Pro-Israel Lobbying Giant, Stolberg buttresses Omar’s anti-Semitic allegations by devoting a 2000+-word article to questioning whether AIPAC has grown “too powerful” and “warped the policy debate over Israel so drastically that dissenting voices are not even allowed to be heard.”

Tlaib Blames Islamophobia for Dem Reaction to Omar’s Anti-Semitism

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) suggested Islamophobia drove Democratic lawmakers to oppose anti-Semitic statements made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).

“Why do you think people in your own party reacted so strongly against what [Omar] said?” The Circus host Alex Wagner asked Tlaib in an interview released Sunday.

“You know, I’m trying to figure it out. It’s just this past week, I feel, and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party,” Tlaib responded. “And I know that’s hard for people to hear, but there’s only been four members of Congress that are of Muslim faith. Three of them currently serve in this institution. More of us need to get elected, but more of us need to understand as we come into this institution that I have a lot of work to do with my colleagues.”

Last month during a “Progressive Issues Town Hall” in Washington, D.C., Omar said she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” The comment prompted backlash from members of both political parties.

Omar: Obama’s a Human, Trump Isn’t

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said President Donald Trump wasn’t a “human” on Monday while being asked repeatedly about a recent interview where she seemed to compare him to President Barack Obama.

A Fox News reporter repeatedly asked Omar as she walked down the hallway with an aide whether she thought the two presidents were largely the same, as she had suggested in a recent interview.

As she was about to get into an elevator, she turned to the correspondent and snapped, “Absolutely not. That is silly to even think and equate the two. One is human, and the other is not.”

The rookie lawmaker, who’s made headlines with anti-Semitic remarks twice in the last two months, spoke to Politico for a feature where she appeared to trash Obama, perhaps the most popular politician among Democrats in the U.S. She said his “hope and change” was a mirage and criticized his border and drone policies:

CNN Analyst: Dems Divided on Responding to Anti-Semitism Because They’re ‘A Much More Diverse Party’

CNN analyst Ryan Lizza said Democrats have a harder time reprimanding elected officials for anti-Semitism because they are a “much more diverse party” than Republicans.

Lizza’s comments came during a discussion on CNN’s Situation Room about President Donald Trump’s words following Rep. Ilhan’s Omar’s (D., Minn.) anti-Semitic comments two weeks ago, as well as the ensuing division in the Democratic party over how to respond. Trump reportedly said that “the Democrats hate Jewish people,” according to an Axios report.

Lizza said Trump’s is “lobbing grenades” into the Democratic camp to try to exploit how “diverse” they are.

“This is Trump taking advantage of this, exacerbating the tensions within the Democratic party,” Lizza said. “Look, the Democratic party is a much more diverse party. They’re always going to have, frankly, more debate, and as the primary goes along here for the president on the Democratic side, this is going to be Trump at every single moment, lobbing grenades—whether it has to do with rhetoric from a House member or policy, he is going to be in there slamming that wedge into the Dems.”

CNN political commentator David Swerdlick agreed with Lizza’s assessment.

“In this case, congresswoman Omar’s comments gave President Trump the opportunity to make this claim—whether or not there’s any truth to it or not—and the President is going to play on that as long as he can,” he said.

PreOccupiedTerritory: We Somalis Are So Proud That Ilhan Omar, A Somali, Cares More About Palestine Than About Us By Yusuf Daar, student (satire)

Somalia has not had many reasons to gloat in recent years, even decades. Protracted civil war, Failed State status, rampant Islamic terrorism, and economic challenges have each played a part in creating, prolonging, or exacerbating our misery. So when one of our own attains an achievement on the global stage, we seize that rare opportunity to come together in ethnic solidarity to voice the sentiments one might expect when our own flesh and blood, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, dedicates herself to the politics of Israel-Palestine, a conflict that has nothing to do with us and her attention to which will improve our lives not one iota. We are so proud.

Proud, because instead of using her position and growing influence to bring to greater prominence the struggles and humanity of the diverse peoples of Somalia, one of the most troubled, benighted places on Earth, Congresswoman Omar has demonstrated the ability to downplay her concern for her native people in favor of broader, vaguer Islamic ties to Palestinians, the resolution of whose struggle would have no discernible impact on the everyday lives of the people of Somalia. Such selflessness.

Selfless, because Ms. Omar has made the bold move of forgoing a dedication to improving Somali lives, a mission that would have placed her less in the awful limelight, instead embracing a cause that commands the attention of academia, politics, diplomats, cultural figures, and the intelligentsia, not to mention big donors. Such sacrifice has few parallels, except perhaps in the selfless dedication of al-Shabaab suicide bombers targeting Somali civilians.

BDS at Swarthmore: A Shameful Display of Antisemitism

The Student Government Organization (SGO) at Swarthmore College passed a resolution on March 3 supporting Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Everything about the entire process was shameful and absurd — the “discussion,” the response to it, and the ultimate vote and statement in support of BDS. After initially voting no on BDS two weeks earlier, the SGO decided to hold a “discussion” about BDS the following week. But “discussion” was only a euphemism for a meeting that brought forward the ugly face of antisemitism, and was one long session of baseless character assassination.

Rather than hold a civil, arguments-based discussion about the merits of a BDS resolution, the SGO oversaw a bullying session in which many SJP members locked arms and labeled Jewish and pro-Israel students “fascists” and “racists” for opposing BDS and the so-called Palestinian “Right of Return.”

The specific label of fascist on these students, beyond its total baselessness, was also quite ironic given the underlying antisemitic basis of white supremacy here. In fact, actual white supremacists — people like David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan — use rhetoric nearly identical to that of these SJP BDS “activists.” Duke is a big supporter of BDS, and constantly uses the age-old antisemitic trope of Jewish financial power (the “Jew Gold”) by accusing AIPAC of running Washington. Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar also tweeted such a trope a few weeks ago, and Duke rose to her defense. What links the support of BDS from antisemites like Duke and “anti-Zionists” like Omar? In many cases, they both hate Jews.

Why Pitzer Shouldn’t Suspend Its Israel Study Abroad Program

Last semester, Pitzer College’s faculty voted in favor of suspending the college’s study abroad program in Israel with the University of Haifa. Even Pitzer College’s president Melvin L. Oliver condemned the move, stating that a potential “[suspension] would be paltry support for Palestinian rights and a major blow to Pitzer College’s mission.” With the Pitzer College Council—a governance board of students and faculty that usually decides official college policy—holding a March 14 vote on whether to suspend the college’s Israel study abroad program, we urge the Pitzer College Council to consider its mission of celebrating “cultural diversity and intercultural understanding.” By preventing Pitzer students from studying abroad in one of, if not the, most diverse universities in the Middle East, Pitzer would turn its back on its mission statement, and burn countless bridges from being built. A study abroad suspension unfairly imposes an academic boycott on Israel and unfairly prevents students from gaining a first-hand understanding of Israel and the complexities of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

An academic boycott goes against the very nature of academic freedom and the “cultural diversity and intercultural understanding” Pitzer espouses in its mission statement. At the end of the day, the biggest issue underlying the elimination of the program is academic freedom. Eliminating the program does nothing to improve the situation of Palestinians and only eliminates a great resource for students who would like to study in the region and gain a more nuanced and informed perspective than they could get in the United States. Is it not just the role, but also the very responsibility of liberal arts colleges to encourage their students to look at complicated issues from a myriad of perspectives. Just as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink; college students may never push out of their comfort zone to look at the many sides of an issue even if encouraged by their university. Discouragement would almost guarantee a retreat into comfort zones. It is a poor decision for any college to simply drop its mantle of responsibility and leave students who would drink the metaphorical water without any access.

This action would also set a terrible precedent. Pitzer College currently has programs in countries like Nepal, which has undergone a long civil war in its recent past and has recently been accused of human rights abuse against ethnic minorities, and China, which has been accused of imprisoning or killing dissidents and placing ethnic minorities into “re-education camps.” Pitzer also has programs in South Africa, which is under scrutiny for the systematic removal of farmers from their land land simply based on race and in Cuba, a land still under the rule of fierce authoritarianism.

BBC News employs omission to further a narrative on Israel

The BBC News website recently created a tag called ‘Israel Elections 2019’ which to date includes just five items. Members of the corporation’s funding public could be forgiven for arriving at the conclusion that there is only one newsworthy name in that election campaign.

The latest BBC News website report appearing with that tag was published on March 11th under the headline “Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot wades into Netanyahu row over Israeli Arabs”.

The report opened with a confused introduction.

“Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot has become embroiled in a row with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the status of the country’s Arab minority.

“Love your neighbour as yourself,” the Israeli actress said, amid wrangling over the role of Israeli Arab parties in upcoming polls.”

So which is it? “The status” of the 20.9% of the Israeli population with Arab ethnicity or “the role” of the two Arab lists running in the April 9th election?

Only in the article’s thirteenth paragraph did the BBC bother to clarify that in a post replying to another Israeli actress, Netanyahu commented:

“As you wrote, there is no problem with Israel’s Arab citizens. They have equal rights and the Likud government has invested more than any other government in the Arab population.”

Clearly then this story is not about “a row with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the status of the country’s Arab minority” as claimed in the article’s opening line.

BBC WS radio tries to do Arab-Israeli conflict demographics

In among her portrayal of the Jerusalem pre-school, Badawi also chose to give listeners a superficial portrayal of the topic of demographics.

Badawi: “Having a baby in Israel is strongly encouraged by the authorities. There are all sorts of tax incentives and other benefits for new mothers. And the more children you have, the more the benefits accrue.”

Indeed Israeli parents are eligible for tax credits and child allowances similar to some of those received by parents in the UK. Whether or not Zeinab Badawi believes that the British government also “strongly” encourages people to have children by means of such financial benefits is unclear but she does not appear to have considered the possibility that the governments of many countries similarly support their citizens’ life choices. She went on:

Badawi: “Fertility treatment like IVF is made easily available, even to same-sex couples.”

Israel does indeed lead the world in IVF treatment. Badawi however neglected to point out that the treatment – like the financial benefits – is of course available to all eligible Israeli citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Reuters Corrects Inflated Gaza Refugees Figure

CAMERA’s Israel office yesterday prompted correction of a Reuters article which had overstated the percentage of Gaza Strip residents who are 1948 refugees or their descendants. The March 8 article (“Israeli troops kill Palestinian during Gaza protests: health ministry“) had erred: “Gaza is home to 2 million Palestinians, nearly all of them descendants of refugees dating back to the 1948 Middle East war.”

According to UNRWA figures, less than 73 percent of Gazans are refugees (of which just tens of thousands of refugees from 1948, and the rest are descendants). UNRWA reports: “The Gaza Strip is home to a population of approximately 1.9 million people, including some 1.4 million Palestinian refugees.” (UNRWA’s precise figure is 1,386,455 refugees).

A May 2018 Reuters article reported that two-thirds of Gaza’s residents are refugees (a tiny percentage fled or were expelled in 1948, and the rest are descendants.)

AP has likewise accurately reported that “two-thirds of Gaza’s 2 million residents are descendants of refugees” (July 24, 2018).

Map of Palestine displacing Israel shown at Atlanta school’s multicultural night

A map that shows Palestine in place of present-day Israel was displayed at a multicultural night at a suburban Atlanta middle school.

The map was placed on a table dedicated to Palestinian culture at the annual event at the Autrey Mill Middle School in Alpharetta. There was no contextual information displayed with the map, which did not mention Israel, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“I am extremely disappointed and disgusted with the individuals who presented an insensitive political and geographic representation,” the school’s principal, Trey Martin, wrote in a letter to parents. “This display does not represent our school culture, which is one that values inclusion and unity.”

Martin noted that more than 500 people and 15 countries were represented at the event Thursday evening.

“We condemn this attempt to use our Multicultural Night for one’s own political or religious agenda,” he wrote. “Please know that this type of display is not acceptable nor supported by the faculty and staff of Autrey Mill Middle School. This school is here for kids, not politics.”

Argentina subway stop with AMIA memorial hit with anti-Israel graffiti

Anti-Israel graffiti was written on a Buenos Aires subway station located in a heavily Jewish neighborhood.

The subway station that was vandalized on Monday is located about 200 yards from the AMIA Jewish community center, where terrorists in 1994 set off explosives that killed 85 people and injured hundreds. The station “Pasteur” was renamed four years ago to “Pasteur-AMIA” and features a tribute to the AMIA bombing victims.

The phrase “Israel genocide” was spray-painted in two places in the station, including on one of the walls commemorating the attack that showcases a remembrance mural. The station’s display includes drawings, paintings and photos by 25 artists and a clock that is set permanently to the exact moment of the explosion: 9:53 a.m. on July 18, 1994.

The Argentinian Zionist Organization in a statement called on the Buenos Aires city government to clean and restore the display and to “apply the law on those responsible once identified.”

N. Macedonia marks deportation of Jews to Nazi death camp

North Macedonia commemorated the deportation of the country’s Jews to the Treblinka death camp at the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia in the country’s capital of Skopje, Monday.

Seventy-six years after 98% of the Jewish population of what was then a province of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was rounded up and transported to Treblinka, in occupied Poland, a new exhibit was opened at the memorial center, which includes a 500-year-old Torah scroll, smuggled from Spain when Jews fled the Inquisition to settle in the Balkans.

Over 7,100 Jews from Skopje, Bitola and Štip were confined to ghettos ahead of transportation to the death camp.

Jews first arrived in what is now North Macedonia during Roman antiquity after fleeing persecution in other Roman territories. Today, some 200 Jews remain in the country.

Heartened by Fans Solidarity Following ‘Gas Chamber’ Tweet, Israeli Soccer Star Says He’ll Continue Playing in Germany

Israeli soccer star Almog Cohen has said that he will continue playing in Germany following widespread outrage over an antisemitic social media post sent to him by a rival fan last weekend that ordered him to “disappear into the gas chamber.”

Speaking to German news outlet Bild on Sunday, Cohen — who captains the German second division side FC Ingolstadt 04 — said that he had received messages from Israel encouraging him to return to his homeland following the antisemitic tweet last Friday, but that he had been heartened by the solidarity shown him in Germany.

“The support I’ve received here shows me that it’s right to keep fighting,” Cohen said.

Relegation-strugglers Ingolstadt were defeated 2-0 by FC Union Berlin in Friday night’s bad-tempered game, which saw Cohen dismissed midway through the second half in the wake of a scuffle with rival players. The abusive tweet was posted shortly after Cohen was shown the red card by the referee.

Cohen, who plays for Israel’s national team, said that the tweet had left him “totally shocked.”

German police have launched an investigation to try and locate the anonymous abuser, who wrote the words “Jewish cattle” in addition to the gas chamber insult, before signing off with “UNVEU” — an abbreviation used by FC Union Berlin fans. Berlin’s president, Dirk Zingler, declared that he was “ashamed of such fans.”

SodaStream CEO Birnbaum joins bubbling medical cannabis race

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum certainly knows how to grow a company, having recently completed the sale of the Israel-based carbonated drink-maker to PepsiCo for $3.2 billion.

Now, Birnbaum – who continues to head SodaStream after the acquisition – is increasingly focusing on another type of growth: medical cannabis.

In his second medical cannabis-related investment in a matter of weeks, Birnbaum will invest NIS 2 million ($550,000) in Israeli home cultivation start-up Seedo, the producer of the world’s first artificial intelligence-powered indoor cannabis growing machines. Following the investment, Birnbaum will join the company’s board of directors.

At the end of 2018, Seedo, which holds a medical cannabis R&D license from the Israeli Health Ministry, delivered its first 50 pre-sale home-grow units to customers in California. The company expects 3,000 systems to be operational by the end of June.

The system, remotely controlled by a smartphone application, allows users to receive real-time information about the plant and watch its growth via video.

Israeli Medical Clowns Do Serious Work Healing the World

Israel Defense Forces medical missions always fly to disaster zones with tons of medical equipment. For David “Dush” Barashi, the most critical piece of equipment is his red nose.

A veteran member of Israel’s Dream Doctors Project, Barashi and fellow medical clowns take the skills they hone daily in Israeli hospitals and apply them at scenes of indescribable despair, death and destruction across the world.

Over the past 16 years, in addition to his day job at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Barashi has tended patients and/or trained personnel in about 50 hospitals in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Australia, United States, England, Bulgaria and France.

“Wherever we go, we work with people feeling scared, vulnerable and in pain,” says Barashi, 42.

Note he said “people,” not “children.” Though medical clowns do work with kids, many of the 29 Israeli hospitals in which approximately 100 Dream Doctors work also place them on adult units ranging from maternity to surgery. Their job is to provide stress relief and a more positive hospital experience for patients, families and healthcare workers.

In no other nation is this paramedical profession as advanced or as integrated in the health system, says Director Tsour Shriqui, whose father, Yaacov, won a presidential volunteerism award last year for founding Dream Doctors in 2002.

Morgan Freeman searches for divinity in Israel

It’s been more than three years since Morgan Freeman began traveling the world in search of God. And he’s still looking.

The third season of Freeman’s National Geographic series The Story of God premiered last week in the US, and, unsurprisingly, the actor and TV host is spending some time in the Holy Land.

Each episode addresses a different aspect of Freeman’s search and exploration of the divine, and takes him to sites around the world, include in Italy, Nepal, Turkey, France, Ethiopia and more.

“There is one role that follows me wherever I go, you can say it’s omnipresent,” says Freeman at the outset of the show’s second episode, which is set to air Tuesday evening in the US. “It’s having played God. I think what resonates with people, is that God would appear among us, but not with some angelic halo. More as an ordinary person, a janitor, a carpenter.”

Freeman, who has long been identified with the role of the divine that he embodied in the films Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty, begins his search for the human embodiment of God in Bethlehem’s Manger Square.

Monthlong Hebrew language festival launched in North America

The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America launched last week a monthlong festival as part of its mission to promote Hebrew as a common global Jewish language.

Called Hagigah Ivrit (“A Hebrew Celebration”), it will run until April 7.

Sponsored by the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and the World Zionist Organization, the festival features arts and educational events to encourage people throughout the Diaspora to learn the language of modern Israel as a way of creating a worldwide Jewish connection.

“Teaching and promoting Hebrew among Jews in North America and the world is the most powerful way to bring together Jews from all over the world and create a global Jewish community,” said Rabbi Andrew Ergas, chair of the board of the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America. “

Hebrew language and culture have been crucial parts of Jewish identity for centuries, and our goal is to bring Jews together by reintroducing them to their Hebrew roots. Teaching Hebrew to Americans of all backgrounds is a sure way to show concretely the vibrancy and humanity of Israeli life and culture.”

In New York alone, more than 40 events planned for the monthlong celebration.

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.

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