May 27, 2020

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03/13 Links Pt2: US calls Golan ‘Israeli-controlled,’ doesn’t call WB ‘occupied’; Before Ilhan Omar, Barack Obama Mainstreamed Anti-Semitism In The Democratic Party; Where MLK Really Stood on Israel and the Palestinians

From Ian:

US calls Golan ‘Israeli-controlled,’ drops all mention of West Bank ‘occupation’
For the first time, the Trump administration referred to the Golan Heights on Wednesday as “Israeli-controlled” and ceased to refer to the West Bank as “occupied” in the State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world.

While last year’s report marked a departure from years of American foreign policy by no longer calling the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights “occupied” in the section title, this year’s report went two small steps further.

“Authorities subjected non-Israeli citizens in Jerusalem and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights to the same laws as Israeli citizens,” this year’s text says. In previous iterations of the same report, the Golan Heights was described in the text as “Israeli-occupied.”

This year’s report also refrains from labeling any of the territories as “occupied.” In last year’s document, the US government took a position in referring to these areas. “Authorities prosecuted Palestinian non-citizens held in Israel under Israeli military law, a practice Israel has applied since the 1967 occupation,” read one passage. The new report, by contrast, uses the term “occupied” just twice — and only when quoting outside organizations, such as the Israeli nonprofit Breaking the Silence and the United Nations.

Despite the change in language vis-a-vis the Golan Heights, an administration official on Wednesday denied that it amounted to American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over that area.

“Our policy on Golan has not changed,” a spokesperson for the US embassy in Jerusalem told The Times of Israel. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Before Ilhan Omar, Barack Obama Mainstreamed Anti-Semitism In The Democratic Party

Lost in the mists of the last decade is Barack Obama’s mainstreaming of anti-Semitism into Democratic and American politics. To be clear, even after two terms as president, Obama remains such a cipher that saying he mainstreamed anti-Semitism is hardly the same thing as saying he’s personally anti-Semitic. It is fair, however, to say he has consorted with Israel critics with dubious motivations and people with anti-Israel terror connections to such a degree that the most charitable thing one can say is that there’s a possibility his embrace of these people was just a way to cynically advance his political career and foreign policy priorities, priorities that were just coincidentally threatening to Israel’s security.

In fact, when Obama ran for president in 2008, people spoke openly of his “Jewish problem.” It wasn’t strictly a partisan concern, either: Hillary Clinton raised the issue in the Democratic Party. Obama did a poor job of persuading people that this wasn’t a legitimate concern.

In 2008, Jimmy Carter met with the leader of terror group Hamas, a move condemned by Condoleezza Rice, who then was secretary of state. Obama declined to condemn the meeting because “he’s a private citizen. It’s not my place to discuss who he shouldn’t meet with.” This is a remarkably calm reaction to Carter’s blatant Logan Act violation, a crime the Obama administration would later deem so serious it was used to justify investigating and surveilling the Trump campaign.

Obama reversed course a few days later, after it became obvious that refusing to condemn the meeting was damaging his campaign. As the Los Angeles Times observed then, when the condemnation finally came it was “as he tried to reassure Jewish voters that his candidacy isn’t a threat to them or U.S. support for Israel.”

Of course, there were plenty more reasons to think Obama didn’t really think that the murderous and anti-Semitic Hamas was all that bad. When Hamas came out and officially endorsed his candidacy in 2008, Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, said the endorsement was “flattering.” This is not an exaggeration. “We all agree that John Kennedy was a great president, and it’s flattering when anybody says that Barack Obama would follow in his footsteps,” Axelrod said.

Much has been made of Obama’s friendship with scholar Rashid Khalidi, who has been accused of working as an advisor for the PLO terror group (Khalidi claims he was only helping the press understand the group). Obama sat on the board of a foundation that gave $40,000 to a local charity Khalidi’s wife headed.

In 2008, the Los Angeles Times notoriously reported on a videotape of Obama speaking at an event in Khalidi’s honor, where one of the speakers compared Zionists to Osama bin Laden. While the still unreleased video of this event attracted the most attention, other aspects of the Los Angeles Times’s lengthy report on Obama’s close ties to Palestinian activists are noteworthy. For instance, in the same report Khalidi heavily implies that any pro-Israel sentiment Obama expresses while running for president was “a stance that Khalidi calls a requirement to win a national election in the U.S.” (h/t MtTB)

Corbynism Comes to America

A critical element of the trans-Atlantic Corbynista project is to knock Jews down a few pegs in the progressive victim hierarchy. Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s perverse defense of Omar–that her experience as a refugee is “more personal” than that of the children of Holocaust survivors, and that this somehow legitimates her spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories–was a clumsy effort at privileging Muslims over Jews. Omar and her defenders seek, in the words of New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, “a left-of-center politics that remembers the Holocaust as one great historical tragedy among many.” To achieve this reordering, Corbynism exploits fringe Jewish activists and organizations to deflect charges of anti-Semitism. As the most high-profile Jewish politician in America, Sanders has disgracefully assumed this role, alleging that Omar is being slandered for “legitimate criticism” of Israel, when it is her imputation of dual loyalties that is at issue. In so doing, Sanders lends credence to the view, increasingly prevalent among progressives on both sides of the Atlantic, that left-wing anti-Semitism does not really exist and that accusations of it are really just cynical attempts to forestall socialism and smear people of color. No other form of bigotry–whether anti-black racism, homophobia, misogyny, ableism–is subject to such exacting standards of proof and semiotic scrutiny by left wingers.

Obsession with Israel—the decision to make this tiny country, and America’s relationship with it, the battlefield upon which they will try to wrest control of the Democratic Party away from its establishment leadership—is a window into the worldview of the American Corbynista left. Antagonism toward the only liberal democracy in the Middle East is like an acid test for wanting to reduce American global power and influence. Asked to describe Sanders’ worldview, his chief foreign policy advisor Matt Duss, a career anti-Israel polemicist, says that the United States should be “a kind of global facilitator.” Arsenal of democracy and leader of the free world are just so passé.

For these people, condemning the U.S.-Israel alliance is a way of condemning something much larger than a country 10,000 miles away. Attacking the Jewish state is the means by which they express their broader antipathy toward American exceptionalism. America and Israel are exceptional nations, the only two founded upon an idea. They are linked by shared values and, yes, religious affinity. When Americans look at the Middle East, they naturally see Israel as the polity with which they have the most in common. American support for Israel, then, is not explained by “Benjamins,” as Ilhan Omar conspiratorially tweets, but by a deep and widely held conviction that the two nations share a providential fate. This is something which the American Corbynistas, like their British cousins, deeply resent, and thus try to undermine with their sneers and tweets and purges.

The pro-Israel blogger conference that has become a support group

Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim and former Islamist who is now a proud Zionist who stands with Israel, will land in Israel this week for #DigiTell, a gathering of 100 pro-Israel bloggers and social network managers from all over the world.

“We are bringing together those who have fought this year against anti-Israel and antisemitic hate-writers and those promoting the boycott campaign against Israel,” said Ido Daniel, senior director for digital strategy for the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the ministry running the #DigiTell seminar. “We are opening our doors to the influencers and social media activists for Israel who are fighting our fight every day.”

Hafeez is among the most interesting and unlikely participants. He grew up being exposed to radical anti-Western, antisemitic and anti-Israel ideas on what he describes as a daily basis. During his teenage years, Hafeez embraced a radical Islamist ideology and became very active in the anti-Israel movement.

But in the early 2000s, he came across Alan Dershowitz’s book, The Case for Israel.

“I was so convinced that I was right, I bought the book and read it to essentially read the ‘Zionist lies’ for myself,’” he told The Jerusalem Post. “I was presented with ideas and arguments I had never come across in all my years of being anti-Israel. While I did dismiss them all as lies, I did however want to reassure myself that I was right.”

So, he read a few more books.

“I began to see a lack of factual argument on the anti-Israel side, a lot of rhetoric and emotion but little fact,” he said.

Martin Kramer: Where MLK Really Stood on Israel and the Palestinians

On Martin Luther King Day this past January, as on every anniversary of the great civil-rights leader’s birthday, the ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was summoned to take a stand on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians.

This year, the conjurer was Michelle Alexander, a newly-minted New York Times columnist, author of The New Jim Crow, and visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary. Her January 19 column, entitled “Time to Break the Silence about Palestine,” was featured more prominently than usual, appearing on page one of the Sunday Review section, and it produced a new spike of interest in the topic.

“Of course,” Alexander stipulated, “there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. . . . Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand.”

Alexander’s own speculations about “what King would think or do” followed immediately:

I find myself in agreement with the [UCLA] historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who concluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied [the war in] Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism, and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.”

Alexander’s conclusion expanded confidently on Kelley’s: “If we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions.”

This view, today shared by many on the “intersectional” left, runs up against one inescapable fact: during the twenty years between Israel’s birth in 1948 and King’s death in 1968, two decades in which the Palestinians repeatedly experienced defeat and dislocation, he never mentioned their plight. By contrast, he expressed support of Israel on several occasions, and with notable consistency. The quotations are well-known and needn’t be repeated in full. The one most often cited was spoken by King in March 1968, just before his death:

Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel, and [I] never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.

The problem for the likes of the columnist Michelle Alexander and the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, and for all others who think as they do, is that there are no quotations to counter these.

They did not reach the border

On the 45th anniversary of Mazal, Fara, and Lulu Zeibak and Eva Saad’s murders, it is appropriate to remember their bravery, innocence and beauty. We are also reminded to nourish and protect the freedom that they yearned for but never found.

The highlands on both sides of the town of Al-Zabadani, Syria look like rolling waves, not jagged peaks. Yet they reach 2,100 meters (7,000 feet) and peer down upon this popular summer retreat 26 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Damascus.

In the winter of 1974 – 45 years ago this week – these mountains were snow-capped. The weather had even halted service on a narrow gauge steam rail line that brings visitors from the Syrian capital.

Yet even if the train had been running, travel by rail was not possible for the four young women from Damascus’ Jewish Quarter.

The Syrian police, agents of the sadistic Mukhabarat secret intelligence service, and any Syrian, for that matter, might spot them.

The Jewish travel ban was in effect. If caught on the move, the women would be interrogated and jailed. Syrian police often deliberately locked Jews up with hardened criminals. A short stay in a Syrian prison could be a death sentence.

Thus, Lulu Zeibak, 23, and her sisters, Mazal, 22, and Fara, 24, were traveling in disguise. They were escorted by a group of smugglers. With them was the Zeibak’s cousin, Eva Saad, 18. They were in the Zabadani Mountains because of what lay only 10 kilometers away: the Lebanese border.

Gil Troy: The Democrat’s surrender to Pales-stain-ianism

A lawyer’s truism advises: When your case is weak, pound away at your desk to boost your defense. The antisemite’s truism advises: When your case is weak, pound away at your gender or racial or ethnic grievances, to obscure your offenses.

The Democratic Party’s cave-in last week to Rep. Ilhan Omar was dastardly, not just cowardly. Bad enough that Democrats were intimidated by Omar and her Palestinian enabler Linda Sarsour.

Earlier in the week, when it looked like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was going to do the right thing and specifically condemn Omar’s antisemitism, Sarsour posted an ugly, personal attack, calling Pelosi “a typical white feminist upholding the patriarchy doing the dirty work of powerful white men…. God forbid the men are upset – no worries, Nancy to the rescue to stroke their egos.” Sarsour admitted: “Our top priority is the safety of our sister and her family.”

Within days, Pelosi and the Democrats diluted a resolution specifically condemning antisemitism, adding so many forms of hatred, it was like passing a resolution condemning thunderstorms, car accidents and cancer.

With that resolution, Pales-stain-ianism conquered liberalism and subdued the new Democratic congressional majority. No, I am not committing an Omarism and imputing to Sarsour or the Palestinians some evil, hegemonic power. I am, however, confronting the ideology behind the Democrats’ reprehensible retreat.

Consider the central mystery here: How could Democrats crusade against Donald Trump’s “bigotry and other forms of intolerance” – I am quoting their 2016 platform – yet justify Omar’s bigotry?

Germany slated to allow Palestinian terrorist to speak in Berlin

Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is prepared to allow convicted Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Rasmea Odeh to speak at an event in Berlin on Friday organized by a reportedly antisemitic BDS alliance organization.

German Green Party politician Volker Beck slammed Odeh’s planned participation. “Why isn’t a convicted terrorist like Rasmea Odeh’s entry in the Schengen Information System blocked? Why did one name the Residence Act hate preaching as an obstacle to entry if these laws are then not applied,” he wrote on Facebook.

He added that “In Germany, the PFLP is not prohibited. I jointly demanded the [ban of the PFLP] with Yair Lapid [Yesh Atid Chairman] in 2017. “

Schengen Area is the region that encompasses 26 European states that have removed passports requirements at their borders.

Odeh, a former member of PFLP which is classified by the US and EU as a terrorist organization, was responsible for a 1969 bombing that murdered two students – Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe – in a Jerusalem supermarket.

Christians for Israel Netherlands demonstrates against BDS

“How would you react if I would say, ‘I embrace the Nazism of Hitler-Germany?’”

These were the words spoken by Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands on Tuesday, during a presentation at the doorstep of the national desk of GreenLeft (GroenLinks, the leftist Green Party in the Netherlands) in Utrecht.

Around 150 Christian Friends of Israel in the Netherlands and Jewish leaders were protesting a controversial motion made by the GreenLeft party last month legitimizing the boycott of the Jewish state Israel.

“A serious mistake, that encourages anti-Semitism,” the rabbi said. “But just like the German ‘Autobahn’ is only a small part of the murderous Nazi-time, the boycott of products from Israel is only a small part of the goal of BDS. BDS stands for the destruction of Israel, not only the boycott of a few products from the so-called occupied territories”.

Roger van Oordt, director of Christian Friends of Israel, said that the GreenLeft calls BDS a “legitimate means in a justified battle,” that is the first step toward the destruction of the State of Israel.

Following the demonstration, Jacobs and Van Oordt were invited for a conversation with GreenLeft chairman Jeroen Postma and national director Jessie Bokhoven.

In addition to the public effort, Christians for Israel submitted a statement to the GreenLeft in which it made clear the dangers of BDS and asked the GreenLeft to distance itself from the BDS motion.

French bank faces €1 billion lawsuit over antisemitism, smear campaign

French businessman Jacob Agam has filed a €1 billion lawsuit against the French bank BNP Paribas, its chairman Jean Lemierre, CEO Jean Laurent Bonnafé and the bank’s legal representative Valérie Lafarge-Sarkozy. Agam claims the bank caused him severe financial loss, smearing his name after he pushed back at the bank for antisemitic actions.

The lawsuit, filed by Agam and his company Vertical Group Holding Ltd., accuses the bank and its representatives of conducting an alleged smear campaign against him and his company and violating, among other things, statutory banking and defamation laws.

Agam believes the bank conducted the smear campaign after he accused the bank’s executives of making antisemitic statements and funding terrorism.

Agam is originally from Israel. He served in the IDF and carried out diplomatic service on behalf of the State of Israel between 1974 and 1980. He founded Vertical Capital Holdings, an investment group, in 1991. He has been the chairman of the board since its inception in 1993. From 1986 to 1988, Agam was an attorney at Kronish, Lieb, Weiner & Hellman, a New York law firm with a specialty in international business and finance representing governments, multi-national conglomerates and financial institutions pursuing IPO and M&A in Wall Street.

MEMRI’s Exposure Of Antisemitic Sermons By Imam Abdelmohsen Abouhatab At Philadelphia’s Al-Aqsa Islamic Society Prompts Mosque’s Apology: ‘We Are Shocked And Outraged… [By These] Reprehensible Anti-Jewish Remarks’

Following MEMRI’s March 6, 2019 publication of a report[1] on antisemitic sermons delivered by Imam Abdelmohsen Abouhatab at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in Philadelphia, PA between November 2018 and February 2019, Al-Aqsa Islamic Society officials issued an apology.

On March 8, 2019, Board of Trustees secretary Chukri Khorchid and Imam Mohamed Shehata posted on the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society website[2]: “Al Aqsa Islamic Society rejects anti-Semitism in any form. We are shocked and outraged to learn that one of our guest speakers said reprehensible anti-Jewish remarks on the floor of Al Aqsa. This in no way represents our beliefs or policies. We condemn this action and will make sure that this never happens again. We expect that all guest speakers will respect and uphold our policy that hatred against any group of people or religion will not be tolerated.”

While the mosque statement noted “We are shocked and outraged to learn that one of our guest speakers” had made these statements, at the conclusion of Abouhatab’s January 11, 2019 sermon, as worshipers prepared to leave, a mosque leader, likely Imam Mohamed Shehata himself, took the microphone and said: “On behalf of all of you, I would like to extend our gratitude to Sheikh Abdelmohsen Abouhattab for this good sermon.” Similar expressions of gratitude by the same mosque leader were repeated after each of Abouhatab’s sermons.

CAIR’s Damaging Influence Evident in Ilhan Omar Controversy

It’s a mindset that is deeply rooted among many Islamists. CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad advanced a common antisemitic theme when he applied otherworldly characteristics to Jews as a world power. “[T]he Jews through their Zionist machinery have power over all the agencies and organs of the United States government,” he wrote in an antisemitic pamphlet issued prior to founding CAIR.

CAIR, an Islamist nonprofit which despises Israel and revels in Islamophobia, represents Omar’s base. She has helped CAIR raise money in the past and is scheduled to appear at a CAIR-Los Angeles fundraiser later this month. She will share the podium with Hassan Shibly, the chief executive of CAIR’s Florida chapter and an outspoken antisemite in his own right, who has refused to condemn Hamas and has vilified “Israel [and] its supporters” as the “enemies of God and humanity.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that Shibly would whitewash Omar’s blatant antisemitism, cheering the congresswoman last week for “expanding the overdue conversation on why [the] US has enabled Israel to commit massive crimes against Palestinian civilians.”

Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members also reportedly played an instrumental role in forcing the Democratic establishment to revise Thursday’s House resolution to emphasize Islamophobia and white supremacism. CBC chairman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 speech before a joint session of Congress, co-sponsored the legislation and appealed to his colleagues to incorporate all forms of bigotry.

The prevailing antisemitic attitudes embraced by far-left members of Congress did not emerge overnight. This hatred was born out of a lasting courtship between some members of the CBC and CAIR, who regularly exchange dignitaries to attend each other’s conferences and fundraisers.

The caucus maintains ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a vociferous antisemite who has referred to Jews as “termites” and to Adolf Hitler as a “very great man.”

Illegal Alien Bernie Sanders Aide Questions If Jews Have Dual Loyalties

An illegal alien working for socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) was forced to apologize on Tuesday for promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on her Facebook account accusing American Jews of having dual loyalties.

Belen Sisa, Sanders’ national deputy press secretary, reportedly questioned if the “American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel,” Politico reported.

Sisa deleted the post after Politico questioned her about it; she gave the publication the following statement:
In a conversation on Facebook, I used some language that I see now was insensitive. Issues of allegiance and loyalty to one’s country come with painful history. At a time when so many communities in our country feel under attack by the president and his allies, I absolutely recognize that we need to address these issues with greater care and sensitivity to their historical resonance, and I’m committed to doing that in the future.

Sisa made the anti-Semitic remarks while she was defending Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) most recent anti-Semitic remarks that drew national outrage last week. Politico notes:
A Jewish person from Sisa’s home state of Arizona pointed out the history of the “dual allegiance” slur in the Facebook thread — from the hangings of Jews in ancient Persia, to the 1492 purge of Jews in Spain, to Nazi Germany.

Sisa responded: “This is a serious question: do you not think that the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the state of Israel? I’m asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan.”

Campus Anti-Semitism Comes to Congress

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar both graduated from college in 2011. In less than a decade, campus anti-Semitism had made the great leap from campus to Congress.

2011 was a banner year for campus anti-Semitism in alliance with its progressive leftist allies.

Last year, the Trump administration reopened an investigation into campus anti-Semitism at Rutgers University in 2011 that had been shut down by Obama officials back in 2014. The shutdown of the investigation, like the similar shutdowns of terrorism investigations, were part of a pattern.

The investigation was reopened by Kenneth Marcus, the new Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights, a Jewish civil rights leader whose appointment Senate Democrats had stalled for 8 months, and whose confirmation every single Senate Democrat voted against.

“We don’t care about anti-Semitism in this office.” The Marcus confirmation battle had become infamous for a senior aide to Senator Patty Murray declaring. “We care about transgenders, we care about blacks, we care about Hispanics, we care about gays, we care about lesbians.”

The intersectional values of campus politics were being used to block the fight against anti-Semitism.

Amid Antisemitism Crisis in Party, Moderate UK Labour Figures Form Dissident Group

Amid the UK Labour party’s ongoing antisemitism crisis, a group of 160 moderate Labour figures have formed an independent faction that dissents from the party’s direction under its far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Since Corbyn, a vehement critic of Israel, became Labour leader in 2015, the party has been wracked by antisemitism scandals, several touching Corbyn himself. Last month, nine MPs formally left the party to form an independent group, citing antisemitism and the lack of an adequate response to it as one of the reasons.

In an indication of the extent of the problem, the Jewish Labour Movement declared on Monday, “The Party leadership have a choice. They can either address the concerns of its Jewish affiliate and those of the Jewish community. Alternatively, they can continue to act in a reckless and damaging way.”

The new Labour faction is headed by deputy party leader Tom Watson, who has been outspoken against antisemitism. In February, Watson announced that he was personally taking control of the party complaints process in order to deal with the issue.

Labour Pulls the Rug Out From Under The JLM’s Feet

There is no point to Jews remaining a part of the Labour Party. This has been the subject of some debate for some time, but the reasons to stay have diminished with each passing day, week, month, and now years of trying to address the party’s antisemitism problem. It used to be on the fringes, but thanks to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, the gate was left wide open for the entryists.

Of course, tolerance of crank politics and antisemitism was already ingrained in the Labour Party. Just look at the list of MPs who nominated Corbyn. They were the catalyst for what has followed. Their tolerance, within the movement, of the politics of proto-Corbynism, even their affection for it, and certainly their failure to recognise its threat, was the prime mover of this shambles. It is a list of ‘True Believers’, but mostly the Useful Idiots.

If you think I am being unduly harsh, consider how their cavalier actions have destroyed a proud social democratic party and replaced it with an even more toxic facsimile of the SWP than George Galloway managed to create with Respect. A party so poisonous in its antisemitism that it is being investigated by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, a body – as I said a few days ago – ironically set up by Labour under an earlier and better version of itself.

Now, what has brought this on, you are obviously thinking. It is news that the Labour Party will no longer use its affiliated group, the Jewish Labour Movement, to provide sensitivity training on antisemitism.

Eurovision Co-Host Addresses Calls for Boycott of Show in Israel, Says ‘Leave Politics to Politicians’

Assi Azar, co-host of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, spoke out against activists calling for the cultural boycott of the singing competition, which will take place in Tel Aviv in May.

The Israeli television host told the UK’s Metro on Tuesday, “I don’t want to give any room to people that want to ban something that’s all about music. Leave the politics to the politicians.”

He added, ‘The only way to create peace and love is by communicating, through meeting and talking — not through banning. The people who want to celebrate hate, Eurovision is not the place for them.”

Azar called the contest a “true democracy” and also mentioned last year’s winner, Israeli singer Netta Barzalai, recalling, “Netta said last year when she won, ‘Thank you for choosing different, thank you for diversity.’ It’s a place for every person who wants to feel loved, regardless of color, weight, looks — Eurovision accepts everyone.”

Honest Reporting: BDS Activist: Israelis as Inhuman Nazis

An opinion piece in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian is indicative that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has no red lines when it comes to dehumanizing Israelis.

Dudu Masango-Mahlangu is a member of the South African Council of Churches and a Board Member of BDS South Africa. For her, Israelis are inhuman child-killers, the deliberate murderers of innocent Palestinians, and modern-day Nazis.

Referring to the numbers of dead and injured Palestinians as a result of rioting on the Gaza border, Masango-Mahlangu says:
But it was not necessarily the numbers that saddened me — statistics sometimes desensitise us. It was the reading of the names, ages, occupations and how each of the victims was killed or maimed that made me weep. I wept for the Palestinian child who was murdered and, simultaneously, I wept for the inhumanity of the Israeli who pulled the trigger.

Israelis as deliberate child-killers

She continues on the theme of literally dehumanizing Israeli soldiers who are characterized as cold and deliberate child-killers:

British Museum Exhibit Features Postcard Accusing Israel of Ethnic Cleansing

A new exhibit at the British Museum in London features a postcard accusing Israel of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.

The exhibit titled, “The World Exists to Be Put on a Postcard,” opened on February 7 and showcases over 300 postcards created by major artists over the past half century. They are part of a much larger collection of over 1,000 cards recently donated to the museum. The exhibit runs until August 4.

Many of the postcards featured are political in nature, including an anti-war image by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, a work by Jasper Johns against the Vietnam War and a collection of feminist images by Jill Posener, among others.

The postcard in question is listed as number 19, by Gathered Images, entitled “Ethnic Cleansing.”

Student Leaders at University of Leeds Fail to Pass Antisemitism Resolution, Triggering Campus-Wide Referendum, Outcry From Jewish Community

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has criticized student leaders at the University of Leeds, England, for failing on Monday night to pass a resolution on combating antisemitism.

The motion, brought forward to the Leeds University Union (LUU) by student Emma Jacobs on behalf of the Leeds Jewish Society, was supported by 10 students and rejected by five, failing to get the 12 votes necessary to pass or fail. Per LUU rules, it will now be subject to a campus-wide referendum.

“When I put forward this motion to [LUU] vote I didn’t expect to spend over an hour being sniggered at when I said I wouldn’t withdraw a motion to combat antisemitism,” Jacobs wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I’m disappointed. It’s exhausting being a Jewish student and I wouldn’t wish this on any other group.”

Titled, “Should LLU do more to combat antisemitism,” the resolution pointed to record-high levels of antisemitism logged across the United Kingdom by the Community Security Trust charity in 2016 and 2017, including on campuses with the appearance of “swastikas, ‘Hitler was right’ stickers, and issues of antisemitism within student societies.”

“As a campus with one of the largest Jewish student populations in the UK, LUU must ensure that Jewish students can feel safe on campus and are free to fully express their Jewish identities without fear,” the motion read.

CAA calls for release of names of five student representatives at Leeds who voted to reject motion to combat antisemitism

Leeds University Union last night voted in a panel decision against a proposal to combat antisemitism. Jewish students have described the atmosphere at the meeting as “intimidating”.

The panel vote required 12 votes to pass the motion but only 10 voted for and 5 against. This means that the motion for the Union to combat antisemitism will now be decided by a student referendum, which will involve all students on campus.

The motion called for the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, ensuring that sabbatical officers receive training on how to tackle antisemitism and calling for the University of Leeds to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day annually.

Leeds Jewish Society said that it was “incredibly disappointed” in a statement on Twitter, adding that “the forum involved sniggering and some students asking us to withdraw the motion in full or amend it”, explaining that “in theory, [Leeds University Union] could be giving money to students to run [a referendum campaign] against combating antisemitism. We will not cower. Jewish students have a right to feel safe on campus.”

Time for the Media to Adopt Antisemitism Definition

A working definition of antisemitism is gaining traction. Drawn up by the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, this definition has been adopted and endorsed by a growing number of governments — most recently France.

With the guidance of a coherent definition, lawmakers can devise more nuanced policies, police and prosecutors can more effectively respond to hate crimes, colleges can more adequately deal with campus antisemitism, and local activists don’t have to flounder with feeble “I know it when I see it” arguments.

The definition has already served as a powerful tool for public accountability: Last year, Britain’s Labour Party sought to adopt a watered-down version of the definition, but the controversy it sparked proved too embarrassing. Labour adopted the full definition — but a dark cloud still hangs over the party.

The controversy stirred by Labour’s waffling highlights one aspect of the IHRA definition that many Israel-bashers can’t accept. Examples of antisemitism listed by the IHRA include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” “claiming that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded by any other democratic nation.” Anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism. People who cross that line can no longer say, “I’m anti-Zionist, not antisemitic.”

Guardian lies in accusation that Israeli law codifies racism

An official Guardian editorial (The Guardian view on the Israeli elections: Netanyahu debases his office – again, March 11) included the following accusation:
Israel is not a state of all its citizens, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu declared on Sunday. His words should be shocking, but in truth they made explicit the message of last year’s nation state law, rendering Palestinians in Israel second-class citizens.

This is completely untrue.

The Jewish Nation-State Law merely codifies, within the country’s Basic Law (a de facto constitution), Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people – a principle which is the core of Zionism. It also lists a number of manifestations of Israel’s status as a Jewish state, including the country’s flag, national anthem, calendar, language, and immigration policies.

As even the head of the left-wing Israeli Democracy Institute conceded, the impact of the law is “largely symbolic”.

Though some have criticised the law because it didn’t also affirm the equal rights of non-Jewish citizens, the protection of individual rights is already covered in the Basic Law on “Human Dignity and Freedom“, which, as constitutional law expert Eugene Kontorovich observed, the Israeli Supreme Court interprets as guaranteeing equality.

Kontorovich also explained that the law’s declaration of Israel as a uniquely Jewish state is not inconsistent with liberal democratic constitutions of Europe.

Nazi posters hung at school whose students played swastika beer game

Posters with Nazi symbols were hung around the campus of a Southern California high school whose students were filmed offering the “Heil Hitler” salute over a swastika made out of beer cups during a drinking game.

Ten posters described by administrators as bearing Nazi symbols were discovered Sunday on the campus of Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach and removed before students returned to school on Monday, CBS Los Angeles reported. Newport Beach Police are investigating the incident.

The school’s principal sent a message to parents after the posters were discovered.

“Again, we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all their forms,” he wrote in the message sent Sunday. “We will continue to be vigilant with our stance, and the care of our students and staff.”

German soccer club pays tribute to deceased neo-Nazi fan

Tributes at a soccer game to a self-professed neo-Nazi hooligan who died last week have led to a spate of departures from an eastern German club.

Chemnitzer FC showed a portrait of known hooligan Thomas Haller on a screen in the stadium before its lower-league match against VSG Altglienicke. The team’s fans dressed in black and held flares aloft behind a banner with the words “Rest in peace, Tommy” in gothic script, while a display with a white cross on a black background was unfurled.

Fans also observed a sort of minute’s silence and the stadium announcer gave a speech paying tribute to Haller’s support for the club.

“Family, friends and companions are in deep mourning,” the announcer said. “He lived for Chemnitzer FC.”

The praise for Haller even ended up on the field, when Chemnitz forward Daniel Frahn held up a black T-shirt bearing the motto “Support your local Hools” after scoring in the 4-4 draw.

Jewish comic who plays Ukraine president on TV leads Ukraine’s presidential race

Ukraine’s presidential election is shaping up to be a case of life imitating art.

This is because the leading candidate in the March 31 vote is Volodymyr Zelensky, a Ukrainian-Jewish comedian who portrays a history teacher turned president in his hit television show, “Servant of the People.”

Polls conducted throughout February give Zelensky, 41, who has no political experience, 25 percent of the vote — a 10-point lead over incumbent Petro Poroshenko and political veteran Yulia Timoshenko who are running for the top office in the national election.

On television, Zelensky’s unlikely presidential candidacy nonetheless carries him into office thanks to popular resentment of corruption and ineptitude in the government and political establishment.

Zelensky, whom local media already began dubbing “the Ukrainian Donald Trump,” is not president yet. But the resentment addressed in his show is not fictional.

NASA to Include Israeli-Manufactured Radiation Suit

NASA will include a radiation suit produced by the Israeli firm StemRad Ltd. for its Orion Exploration-Mission 1, scheduled for June 2020, according to a blog post published last week on the European Space Agency’s website.

“The crewless mission is set to carry out radiation testing as part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), a collaboration between NASA, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Israeli Space Agency (ISA), Lockheed Martin and StemRad, according to the blog,” reported the Israeli financial news site Calcalist. “Two dummies designed to record radiation levels, one donning StemRad’s radiation suit, will be used to assess and compare the levels astronauts may be exposed to during a lunar mission.”

StemRad, founded in 2011 and headquartered in Tel Aviv with other offices in Tampa Bay, develops and makes suitable anti-radiation materials for scientific, military and medical purposes.

Anne Frank animated film coming from ‘Waltz with Bashir’ director

Ari Folman, the Academy Award-nominated director of the 2008 film Waltz with Bashir, is completing production of an animated film on the life of Anne Frank.

Details of the upcoming feature film, titled Where is Anne Frank? were unveiled last week at the Cartoon Movie forum in France. Variety reported on Monday that a session on the animated movie was one of the most attended overall at the industry gathering.

At the event, Folman explained that he was originally reluctant to tell the story through animation because of its dark psychological themes, according to Variety. To overcome that, he said, he decided to tell the story through the eyes of “Kitty,” Frank’s imaginary friend, to whom she addressed her diary entries.

In the film, Variety reported, Kitty wakes up in modern times, and imagines that if she’s alive, Anne must be as well, and so she sets out to find her.

A Zion of the times: Ex-UK Labour MK Luciana Berger names newborn son

Independent Group MP Luciana Berger has revealed the much-anticipated name of her newborn son.

Zion Benjamin Manny Goldsmith is the second child for Berger, 37, and her husband, Alistair, as well as a younger brother to their nearly 2-year-old daughter Amelie.

The Liverpool Wavertree MP welcomed her son into the world at the NHS Liverpool Women’s Hospital last Tuesday and took to Twitter to announce they were “brimming with happiness” at his arrival.

While not revealing her reasons for the given names, Zion’s middle name Manny may well be a nod to her great-uncle, trade union official and Labour MP Manny Shinwell, who served as a minister in the government of Ramsay MacDonald and as war secretary under Clement Attlee.

Shinwell was also, notoriously, the last MP to throw a punch in Parliament after taking exception to a Tory MP who suggested that he “get back to Poland”, a dig at his Polish-Jewish roots.

Tel Aviv number 21 in world ‘best cities’ ranking, first in Middle East

Tel Aviv has been ranked the 21st out of the 48 “best cities” around the world, and the first among Middle East countries, according to a survey released by London-based Time Out magazine.

The global culture and events publication sought out the opinions of almost 34,000 respondents on “food, drink, culture, nightlife, community, neighborhoods, overall happiness and other factors, such as their city’s beauty, affordability and convenience,” it said.

Coastal Tel Aviv, nicknamed the “White City” for its thousands of Bauhaus-style buildings, “has a notorious reputation as a wild non-stop city with a great nightlife and music scene,” according to Nadav Neuman, deputy editor of Time Out’s Tel Aviv edition.

“Almost 40 percent of Tel Avivians admit to having taken drugs in the past week, more than anywhere else,” he noted “Our hard-partying ways mean we’re also the most likely city-dwellers to have had a one-night stand (and also to have cheated on a partner, though we’re not proud of that).”
Models from the LGBT community display creations designed by Shenkar designers at the Tel Aviv Fashion Week, on March 11, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

The ranking, conducted with Tapestry Research and published Monday, was put together based on feedback from cities’ residents, input of local Time Out editors, and a vague process that “crunched the numbers.”

At No. 21 on the list, Tel Aviv was one place behind Washington DC and one above Mumbai, India.

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