May 26, 2019

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03/15 Links Pt2: Judea Pearl: An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi on Ilhan Omar; J Street’s ‘Birthwrong’ project; Journalism’s Longest War: The New York Times Versus Zionism and Israel

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2019/03/0315-links-pt2-judea-pearl-open-letter.html

From Ian:


Judea Pearl: An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi on Ilhan Omar
The following letter is an adaptation of remarks made at the sit-in protest in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2019.

As president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and a lifelong Democrat, I urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to act boldly and decisively on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s antisemitic bigotry.

Our late son, Daniel Pearl, was not an Islamophobe, nor a foreign agent or a trader in “Benjamins.” He was a principled American journalist, a champion of truth, and a relentless peace-seeker, who was murdered for being a Jew and a lover of Israel. I plead with Speaker Pelosi to rid the House of Representative of a new form of bigotry — directed again at Jews and lovers of Israel.

Words matter. And the hateful words pronounced by Rep. Ilhan Omar will continue to haunt and poison the future of American Jewry. However, we are concerned not merely with the harsh consequences of those words, but with the obsessive hatred that produced them, and the ultimate purpose for which they were enunciated — to erode American support for the State of Israel, the miracle that symbolizes Jewish history and Jewish aspirations.

We stand here to remind Speaker Pelosi of words that she has spoken many times in the past — that US support for Israel is not only a matter of mutual interest and shared values, but that American support of a homeland for the Jewish people is a moral imperative — a historical calling that should not be polluted with accusations of dual loyalty or greed.

The resolution passed by the House on March 9 condemns almost every form of hate on earth, except one — the anti-Zionist hatred waged against our brothers and
sisters in Israel. They are six and a half million refugees or descendants of refugees who have been denied normalcy for the past 70 years, besieged by hostile neighbors and confronted by daily existential threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran.

The anti-Zionist obsession that Rep. Omar now brings to the halls of Congress aims to strip these six and a half million people from sovereignty and abandon them, stateless, to the mercy of genocidal neighbors. Americans cannot allow such moral deformity to stain the halls of their representative government.

‘Stand with Israel’ and ‘Stand with Ilhan’ Chants Compete in Nancy Pelosi’s Office

Pro-Israel demonstrators poured into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office Thursday, calling on her to condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar and antisemitism. They were interrupted by two pink-clad “Stand with Ilhan” counter-protesters.
Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the National Conference of Jewish Affairs organized the sit-in and from outside Pelosi’s office, went after the speaker’s failure to condemn Rep. Omar’s most recent antisemitic comments or even antisemitism itself.

“She failed us. She had a chance to condemn Omar. She didn’t. She had a chance to condemn standalone, by itself, antisemitism. She didn’t,” said Rabbi Spero. “This was a turning point to stand up and do what was right, what was just, what was fair, and she didn’t.”

After the Rabbi’s comments outside of the office, protesters streamed into Pelosi’s front office.

The group began chanting, “Stand with Israel.”

A pink-clad counter-protester responded with shouts of “Stand with Ilhan” while brandishing a “Stop Islamophobia” sign.

Melanie Phillips: Jewish Book Week, Corbynised Democrats

Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Unwired the latest developments to roil our crazy world. On our agenda this week are what happened when I appeared at Jewish Book Week in London, and the “Corbynisation” of the US Democrats.

I talk about the discussion in which I took part at Jewish Book Week on Brexit, the rough reception given to myself and my fellow Brexiteer Maurice Glasman, and why I think that the majority support by bBritish Jews for remaining in the EU is profoundly and self-destructively wrong.

We go on to discuss the growing feeling among sections of the British Jewish community that it’s “time to leave”. Then we talk about the similarities between the Labour party’s crisis and the growing difficulties of the US Democrats, whose leadership has conspicuously failed to deal with the antisemitism displayed by certain new members of Congress. I make the point that, as has been observed from the French Revolution onwards and as I observed in my Times column, the Democrats are once again proving the truth of the old adage that “the revolution consumes its own”.

The Libertarian PodCast: Anti-Semitism on the Left

Richard Epstein grapples with a new wave of anti-semitism on the left, and explains why progressive notions of ‘tolerance’ often undermine pluralism.

Not bowing or paying homage

One way Jews deal with their tenuous existence in the world is to escape from their identity. But, from the ancient Persian Empire to modern-day Britain, even as they run far away, someone – a Mordechai or a Herzl – will arise to remind them who they are.

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the month Adar II, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the Jews by the River Thames. Jews come to London and leave as the spirit takes them away. There aren’t only Jews here; there are a lot of minority communities from both the east and the west, but it appears as if the Jewish one is unique when it comes to its questions of identity. Some Israelis here, for example, wrestle with the issue of circumcision. A scared new mother seeking emotional support received this generous answer from some of her friends: “You don’t have to carry out that barbaric ritual.” There are not quite a lot of mixed marriages here. I was told that statistically speaking, there are more Jewish women here than Jewish men and especially when they stay single until later ages, many find non-Jewish partners. Some of them fight to preserve something of their Israeli identity and even a little Jewishness but how long is it possible to live like that? A generation, maybe two? Far back in their family tree, the mixed couple can discover rabbis and rabbinical scholars. Now identity is hanging in the balance and questions about the issue infuriate them. “Who do you think you are, butting into my private life?” and “Who are you to tell me I’m not Jewish enough?”

Just like it was back in the capital of the Persian Empire, 25 centuries ago: “Esther did not reveal her people or her lineage, because Mordechai had instructed her not to do so” (Esther 2:10). Why stir up latent anti-Semitism? We are used to reading the Book of Esther while half-smiling – the happy end is already known, the villain is beaten and the wretched are saved quickly. But the book covers up the terrible reality with which the Jewish people have dealt with since they were sent into exile: their lives dependent on the whims of rulers who when they wanted them around would defend them so they could use their abilities and enjoy their contribution to the economy, culture, politics and even defense and security, and when they no longer wanted them – when they could no longer protect them from the rage of the masses – are the first to abandon them to save their own skins. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Journalism’s Longest War: The New York Times Versus Zionism and Israel

Review: Jerold S. Auerbach, Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel: 1896-2016. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2019.

It has long been a commonplace that The New York Times, America’s “newspaper of record,” which flaunts the motto “All the News that’s Fit to Print,” failed to report the two greatest mass crimes of the twentieth century: Nazi Germany’s destruction of European Jewry and the Soviet Union’s murder of millions of Ukrainians. As Jerold Auerbach, professor emeritus of history at Wellesley College, tells the story of the Times from its late 19th century beginnings under the guidance of publisher Adolph S. Ochs of Tennessee up to the present day — a prodigious work of historical scholarship and critical analysis — the Times’ two abiding principles (almost dogmas) during this “Biblical” tenure of 120 years have been Reform Judaism and American patriotism.

Both Ochs’ religious commitment and his unswerving America First loyalty were dogmatic, and excluded sympathy with the Zionist movement. The two opposed forces came to prominence simultaneously: Theodor Herzl published The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution of the Jewish Problem in 1897, just six months before Ochs purchased the Times, then in desperate financial straits.

He aimed to make it not only a financial success but “a model American newspaper for fairness, cleanliness, independence, and enterprise.” Ochs was also determined to keep the Times from either appearing as or being a Jewish newspaper; and to this end he took such measures, whenever possible, as hiding writers’ Jewish names behind initials. Writers named Abraham had bylines only with the initial “A.” Not until 1976 would the Times have a Jewish editorial page editor, Max Frankel, who later confessed that he was “much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.” (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Caroline Glick: Democrats Have Disenfranchised American Jews

It is hard to know how this story will proceed. A lot depends on whether a sufficient number of American Jews will awaken to the danger and stand up for themselves either by leaving the Democratic Party or by waging open warfare against the organs of their party – particularly the Farrakhan-supporting Congressional Black Caucus. Certainly, some Jews are walking away.

At the same time, many Jews are taking the path of the Yevseksiya and developing political identities based on rejecting their Jewishness, and waging a pitched battle against Jews who support Israel and Orthodox Judaism.

In the final analysis, though, how the American Jewish community responds will be less decisive in determining whether the antisemitic political forces on the left secure their control over the Democratic Party in the long term. If the broader public joins President Donald Trump in calling out the Democratic Party for its institutional antisemitism, and if the Democrats are punished by donors and voters, then it is possible that the new bosses of the Democratic Party will see their power quickly erode.

It took the U.S. Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II to wipe out antisemitism on the Right as a political force in the United States. It won’t take a war to defeat leftist antisemitism in America. But it will take a decision by the vast majority of Americans that they do not want their country to be organized politically around scapegoating Jews and the Jewish state.

Pompeo: Anti-Semitism in Democratic Party Undermines Religious Freedom

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recent anti-Semitic comments from the Democratic Party undermine not just the relationship between the United States and Israel but also the “religious freedom of every human being.”

Repeated anti-Semitic remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) regarding Israel and American support for the Jewish state have roiled the Democratic Party, with some members coming to her defense and others condemning her comments.

Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Pompeo if he worried about it with regard to the U.S.-Israel relationship, in an interview airing Friday on Fox News.

“I do,” Pompeo said. “I worry about it for multiple reasons. Not just the relationship between these two democracies, but I worry about it because it undermines why we began today. The protection of the dignity and rights and the religious freedom of every human being, so when I hear anti-Semitic remarks, it saddens me, and I know it undermines what is the greatest about the United States of America.”

Support for Israel has declined among the increasingly left-wing base of the Democratic Party. Omar had to apologize after previously tweeting pro-Israel politicians are paid off to support the country, and she also invoked the “dual loyalty” canard last month after claiming Israel supporters were forced to show “allegiance to a foreign country.”

The left-wing Women’s March has also been beset by accusations of anti-Semitism at its highest levels, with some expressing support for radical anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Gallup Data: 52% of US Jews Identify as Democrats, 16% as Republicans

More than half of US Jews identified as Democrats in 2018, while fewer than one in five said they were Republicans, according to combined Gallup poll tracking data published on Thursday.

Out of 938 Jewish Gallup poll respondents last year, 52% called themselves Democrats, 16% described themselves as Republicans and 31% classified themselves as independents.

The data also showed that only 26% of Jews approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance, while 71% disapproved. Among the general American population, Trump’s approval rating was 40%, with 55% disapproving.

A Gallup analysis predicted that the recent controversy surrounding antisemitic comments made by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar would not be a boon for Republicans, in terms of new Jewish support.

Fewer than half of UK adults understand meaning of ‘anti-Semitism,’ poll finds

Fewer than half of British adults understand what the word “anti-Semitism” means, a poll conducted on behalf of Britan’s Jewish Chronicle has found.

In a survey carried out by Deltapoll, 2,000 adults were asked: “In your own words, what do you understand by the term anti-Semitism?”

According to the newspaper, 47% said they understood the word, but 40% said they did not know its meaning. It was not clear how the remaining 13% answered the question.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, told the newspaper that given that reports of anti-Semitic incidents are increasing, the poll findings were “deeply concerning.”

In a breakdown of the ages of the participants in the poll, over half of those questioned aged 18-24 replied “don’t know” when asked to identify anti-Semitism. Only 32% of those aged 22-37 correctly identified it as “discrimination against Jewish people,” while 49% replied that they did not know what the word meant.

In contrast, 71% of those aged 65 and over understood what anti-Semitism is, compared to 23% who did not.

In a breakdown of the results on the basis of voting preferences, only 43% of those who voted for Labour in the 2017 election said they understood what anti-Semitism is, 63% of Conservative voters and 51% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats.

BBC news host suggests anti-Semitism isn’t as bad as other forms of racism

The host of a BBC news program suggested that anti-Semitism isn’t as bad as other forms of racism.

Justin Webb, host of Radio Four’s “Today” program, later apologized for his remarks on Tuesday during an interview with American pollster John Zogby about the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets and statements about the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

A BBC spokesperson told the London-based Jewish Chronicle that Webb acknowledged that he “should have phrased his question better.”

“He intended to highlight a growing trend among US Democrats of suggesting that anti-Semitism is not comparable with other forms of racism. He was certainly not expressing any personal view,” the spokesperson said, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Webb asked Zogby: “If the party decided to say to its supporters, ‘look we think that anti-Semitism is a bit like the way some of our people might regard anti-white racism, that actually it’s a different order of racism. It’s not as important — it’s still bad — but it’s not as important as some other forms of racism. … What impact do you think that might have?”

When progressivism becomes hateful

In her piece, Molano cites proposed anti-BDS laws as supposed evidence of Omar’s claim that legislators have been bought off by AIPAC to support unethical legislation. However, Molano mischaracterizes BDS as a movement whose “aim is to end international support for Israel’s policies that oppress Palestinians,” when in reality the movement’s intentions are not so pure. To truly understand an organization’s goals, look to the leaders. In the case of BDS, its leaders are not afraid to express their true intentions. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has openly declared, “Most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”

That being said, of course, Israel can be criticized like any other country. In fact, Israelis are often the first to do so. One can criticize the settler movement or the need for greater civil rights for Palestinians. But when Israel is the only country whose existence is consistently questioned or when the fault of the conflict is placed solely on its shoulders, criticism is no longer honest but rather irrational and even anti-Semitic.

Palestinian leaders have consistently demonstrated a commitment to the destruction of Israel rather than to peace, as demonstrated in 1948 and later in 2000 and 2008, when they rejected generous offers to establish a state in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. When these historical realities are willfully ignored, there is a clear double standard applied to Israel that leads to dehumanization, not peace.

The Dual-Loyalty Canard

I never thought, nearly two decades into the 21st century, and after the presence of Jews in North America for 365 years, that we would have to remind the likes of Omar and Tlaib and those in their corner, of the great contributions that the Jewish community has made to this country. Jews have fought in every one of this country’s wars; indeed, more than 250,000 did so in World War I (of whom 45,000 were immigrants) and 500,000 in World War II, a proportion far above our numbers in the population.

In science, medicine, law, academia, entertainment and so many other fields, you will find Jewish names amongst those who have given so much to their fellow citizens. And, yes, we actively participate in our political process, an opportunity denied those who came before us from some of the darker recesses of Europe and elsewhere.

These recent remarks from members of Congress are not uninformed comment, or a slip-of-the-tongue. I have personally heard foreign diplomats, some government officials and even some clergymen refer, in conversation about Israel, to “your country.” Oftentimes, a tactful reminder that “America is my country, but we are strong supporters of Israel” is enough to clarify the situation. We are identified with Israel, and it is possible that among some, there is confusion, since most of these folks do know we are Americans. But Tlaib’s and Omar’s intention was not only to injure Israel’s standing in Congress, and in the country, but to castigate Jewish loyalty as well.

The eminent jurist Louis D. Brandeis understood this issue early on. In a speech delivered in 1915, Brandeis said, “Let no American imagine that Zionism is inconsistent with Patriotism, Multiple loyalties are objectionable only if they are inconsistent. A man is a better citizen of the United States for also being a loyal citizen of his state…every American Jew who aids in advancing the Jewish settlement in Palestine…will likewise be a better man and a better American for doing so. There is no inconsistency between loyalty to America and loyalty to Jewry.”

Samantha Bee Defends Ilhan Omar: Democrats ‘Threw Her Under the Bus’ Over Anti-Semitism

TBS late-night host Samantha Bee launched a passionate defense of the far-left Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, accusing her fellow Democrats of failing to defend her over her numerous anti-semitic remarks.

Omar has faced widespread criticism in recent weeks from Democrats and Republicans for various anti-semitic remarks regarding the state of Israel, including that claims that Zionist Americans show “allegiance to a foreign country.” The controversy led to Democrats in the house passing a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and all other bigotry, although Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claimed she was misinterpreted.

However, Samantha Bee was left less than impressed with their behavior, arguing that Democrats such as Pelosi are willing to use Omar to show off a progressive image but “threw her under the bus” when she tried to discuss a “truly difficult topic.”

“Democrats want to be the big tent diverse party,” Full Frontal host declared. “They are more than willing to pose with Omar on magazines covers, but when she tried to talk about a truly difficult topic, which is her job as an elected official, and her life was in danger, they kind of threw her under the bus.”

J Street’s ‘Birthwrong’ project

J Street thinks that “Birthright” trips are too pro-Israel. So it has announced that it is launching some trips of its own. Perhaps they should be called “Birthwrong” since their purpose is to convince young American Jews that Israel is wrong and the Palestinian Authority is right on pretty much every issue.

Jewish control of united Jerusalem? Israel is wrong, J Street says; the city should be re-divided, with the eastern portion turned into the capital of “Palestine.”

Allowing Jews to build homes in Judea-Samaria, just as Arabs do? Israel is wrong about that, too, says J Street; those territories should be Arab-only.

And opposing the P.A.’s payments to terrorists? Wrong again, according to J Street; complaining about pay-for-slay could “harm the peace process.”

Israel is wrong, wrong, wrong. And the Palestinian Authority is always right, which is why J Street never criticizes it.
(h/t Elder of Lobby)

College President Rejects Motion to Suspend Israel Study Abroad Program

Students and faculty of California’s Pitzer College voted Thursday to suspend the study abroad partnership with Israel’s University of Haifa, but college president Melvin Oliver is declining to take any action on the program, calling it an “academic boycott of Israel.”

The anti-Israel proposal, backed by radical leftist groups and Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, won the support of the Pitzer College Council in a Thursday vote taken by both students and faculty. Oliver says the vote amounts only to a recommendation to the president and is declining to take it.

Oliver made numerous arguments against the proposal in a Thursday message to the academic community, including that it was “prejudiced” against Israel, would “curtail academic freedom,” and that it is not the school’s role to take political positions.

“Although some claim that this is not an academic boycott of Israel, I disagree,” Oliver wrote. “The recommendation puts in place a form of academic boycott of Israel and, in the process, sets us on a path away from the free exchange of ideas, a direction which ultimately destroys the academy’s ability to fulfill our educational mission. I categorically oppose any form of academic boycott of any country.”

Oliver said the “prejudiced” action against Israel would cause irreparable harm to Pitzer’s reputation.

“By singling out Israel, the recommendation itself is prejudiced,” he wrote. “The reputational harm to the College would be irreparable and as president of this institution, I cannot permit that to happen.”

Oliver argued suspending the program would be “directly counter to Pitzer’s core value of intercultural understanding.”

Will Israeli Academia Lead the Charge to Counter ‘Apartheid Week’ and BDS?

While anti-Israel incidents driven by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are prevalent on American college campuses throughout the year, a particularly jarring period for Jewish and pro-Israel students is “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) — the annual showcase of anti-Israel events and public displays held on campuses worldwide.

“Apartheid” isn’t the initiative’s only misnomer — as the “week” lasts an entire three weeks. Scheduled this year to run from March 18 to April 8, this year’s IAW theme will be “Stop Arming Colonialism.”

The “Israeli apartheid” analogy is patently false on a number of levels. Let’s start with this year’s theme of “colonialism.” The last time I checked, Israel doesn’t control any overseas territories; the country’s primary overseas presence is its exportation of world-changing innovations and technologies for the benefit of humanity.

The apartheid accusation also implies oppression of minorities and marginalized populations. If that’s the case, how do IAW’s organizers explain that Arabs are elected members of the Knesset; that Israel invests millions of dollars in the Arab high-tech sector and billions in neglected Arab areas of East Jerusalem; that Tel Aviv is one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities; that Israel is the only Mideast country that adequately protects women’s rights; and that Israel provides electricity and water to a Gaza Strip that is ruled by a Hamas terrorist group committed to the Jewish state’s destruction?

In Europe, the boycott Israel movement is weaker than you think

To the world’s oldest Zionist organization, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “could within just a few years become a real existential threat” to Israel.

The vision of Theodor Herzl, who founded the World Zionist Organization 122 years ago, “could collapse before our eyes,” reads the warning on the group’s website.

The alarmist tone is characteristic of how many Israel supporters, including some of its leaders, view the international movement promoting a blanket boycott worldwide on all things Israeli. Beginning in 2005, the BDS movement has set out to isolate Israel the way apartheid South Africa was made a pariah in the 1980s.

But 15 years later, there is ample evidence to suggest that BDS not only has failed in delegitimizing Israel in any meaningful way, but is now struggling to defend its own legitimacy throughout Europe, the United States and beyond.

“In the early years, I suppose there was more panic about BDS,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, the director of the American Jewish Committee’s Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute. “But particularly in recent years, it has become clear that, so far at least, BDS has not had any significant economic impact on Israel.”

TAKE A HIKE, ISRAEL HATERS: Exxon Considering Huge Investment In Israel Gas Fields, Report Says

In a move that tacitly acknowledges the enormous shift in the Middle East, as former enemies of Israel such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have now allied with the Jewish state, Reuters reports that the Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, is considering exploring for oil and gas in Israel.

The move makes good financial sense, as in recent years the huge Leviathan gas field was found in the waters offshore Israel as well as the “Tamar ” discovery offshore Israel in 2009; what makes it a harbinger of a new age is that Exxon would be the biggest major oil company to ally with Israel in such a way.

As Reuters notes, “The U.S. major and competitors such as Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total have avoided investing in Israel, for fear of souring relationships with the governments of giant regional oil and gas producers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. Those countries do not recognize Israel.”

Reuters reports that this week, Exxon executives met Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz in Houston to discuss the upcoming auction in June that Israel will hold for the right to look for oil off its shore. The sub-sea rocks are estimated to contain 75 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6.6 billion barrels of oil. In January, when the 322-foot high jacket to support the Leviathan oil platform’s deck arrived from Texas, Steinitz said, “The Leviathan gas field is the greatest natural treasure that has been discovered in Israel and the arrival of the platform foundation symbolizes our entry into the final stage of its development.” (h/t MtTB)

Daphne Anson: In Leafy London, Israel-Haters Ham it Up (video)

With young kids screaming “Free Palestine” and that well-known mendacious map set as props, with a bearded old codger pretending to be a Hebron “settler” and a middle-aged woman an “American”, and also featuring old ladies kitted out like pantomime dames, members of the Richmond and Kingston PSC branch demonise Israel in the shopping precinct of the leafy London borough of Kingston upon Thames.

In the main, it seems, passers-by are literally that, giving the puerile performances a wide berth.

(Yes, we’ve seen the old dears enacting that “heart attack” scenario before.)

Traveller Erases Israel from the Mideast

You’d think a travel supplement would get its geography right. Think again. Traveller is published daily online and every Saturday and Sunday in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Sunday Age.

A feature on unsung tourist destinations includes Jordan, which describes the kingdom as:
a small, politically stable country sharing its borders with some serious headline-makers: Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

But which serious headline-maker is missing?

Last we checked, Jordan shared a significant border with Israel.

UPDATE: Traveller amended the article to describe Jordan as:
a small, politically stable country sharing its borders with some serious headline-makers: Syria, Iraq, Israel and the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

We have also learned that the magazine will be printing an apology in its letters page next weekend.

EU anti-antisemitism czar: Migrants can unlearn anti-Jewish prejudices

Migrants to Europe who have rid themselves of dictators can free themselves as well of antisemitic prejudices, the EU’s Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism said on Wednesday.

Katharina von Schnurbein said that people “who have taken upon themselves the challenge of ridding themselves of dictatorships, and making their way to Europe, are capable of stripping themselves of antisemitic prejudices if it is raised with the context of integration measures.”

And, she added, the EU has agreed that “knowledge about Jewish life, and the Shoah, and the acceptance of Jewish life should be part of integration measures.”

Appointed in 2015, von Schnurbein – from Germany – works with EU member states, the European parliament and civil society to develop and strengthen policy responses to antisemitism. She said that it was important that “all young people in Europe learn about the Jewish contribution to Europe throughout the centuries,” that they “understand better what the Shoah meant for Europe in terms of the interruption of culture,” what Jewish life is like today in Europe and what the resurgence of antisemitism means for Jews living there now.

Von Schnurbein, in the country to take part in a joint EU-Yad Vashem event to promote Holocaust research, said at a briefing at the EU offices in Ramat Gan that it must be impressed upon everyone – from teachers to judges – that any form of violence or hatred cannot be justified because there is a conflict somewhere else in the world, such as in the Middle East. A recent EU study on the perceptions of antisemitism shows that a majority of Europeans – some 54% – say the conflicts in the Middle East have an influence on the perception of Jews in their countries.

Italian boy, 15, celebrates birthday with Hitler cake featuring Holocaust jokes

The parents of a 15-year-old boy in Bologna, Italy, gave him two cakes featuring portraits of Adolf Hitler and jokes about ovens for a party they held on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A bakery that specializes in printing on pastry provided the cakes, including one that read “Hello darling? Turn up the oven, I am coming home!” The other said “Let’s go … Today, we’ll have an a gas of an evening!” according to a report Tuesday in Corriere di Bologna. The private party took place on Jan. 27, according to the report, but did not say where. It said the boy’s entire class was present.

Contacted by the Italian daily, the parents, who were not named, told the reporter that the teen wanted the cakes and “it was a childish joke.” Some of his classmates objected, took pictures of the cakes and posted them online, leading to the newspaper report. The article did not name the bakery that supplied the cakes.

Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, wrote to the Italian National Partisans Association to complain and express his “horror” at the display.

Polish parliament drops nationalist weekly over anti-Semitic headline

Poland’s parliament has canceled the delivery of a nationalist weekly that recently ran an anti-Semitic headline.

Andrzej Grzegrzolka, the head of parliament’s press office, said Thursday that the list of publications delivered to the legislature will be reviewed to prevent a repeat of such situations.

Opposition lawmaker Michal Kaminski spotted the Tylko Polska, or “Poland Only,” paper with the headline “How to Recognize a Jew” at a kiosk on the parliament grounds. He called for prosecutors to investigate, as it’s a crime in Poland to incite hatred based on race or religion.

A lawmaker from the ruling right-wing party called for the paper to be banned altogether.

Poland, which was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the occupation by Nazi Germany (1939-1945), has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years.

Nazi tableware auction cancelled in Belfast following intervention by CAA and local community

An auction of swastika-emblazoned tableware scheduled to open tonight has been cancelled by the Belfast auction house, Bloomfield Auctions. The cancellation followed interventions and condemnation from from Campaign Against Antisemitism and the local Jewish community after BBC Northern Ireland exposed the planned auction.

Campaign Against Antisemitism is relieved that it has been cancelled. It should sicken anybody to eat from the same dishes likely used by Nazi war criminals which bear their swastika emblem. This is a case where instead of seeking to earn a commission, the auction house should have had regard for the survivors of the Holocaust and the families of its victims, who would have been distressed and repulsed by this sale.

Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups fetishise relics of Nazi Germany like these. It is incumbent on auction houses to ensure that the trade in Nazi mementos is stamped out.

Bloomfield Auctions posted a statement on their Facebook page saying that: “In light of the sensitivities around the Adolf Hitler items, we have taken the decision to withdraw them from sale for now and will not be sold at Bloomfield Auctions in the future.”

Photos of the items which they described as “historically rare” are still, disturbingly, on their Facebook page. There is also a link on their website to these photos.

Israeli TV show to open Canneseries festival

The Israeli TV series Nehama, produced by HOT, will open the Canneseries television festival in France this year and compete for its top awards.

The show, which has yet to hit airwaves in Israel, will have its global premiere at the competition next month, alongside nine other shows from around the world. This year, Nehama is the only Israeli television series in the competition.

Nehama, created by Reshef Regev Levi (Haborer/The Arbitrator), tells the story of Guy Nehama, a widower with five children who gives up his hi-tech job after his wife dies to pursue his love of stand-up comedy. The show stars Levi, Yuval Scharf (McMafia), Shalom Michaelshwilli (Haborer) and Liron Vaisman (Hamidrasha/Mossad 101).

Last year, at the first inaugural Canneseries competition, the Keshet show When Heroes Fly won the top prize, also before it first aired in Israel. The show went on to be picked up by Netflix and made available to tens of millions of users worldwide. Also last year, the HOT series Miguel took home the Canneseries prize for special performance, and it will enter the British streaming service My5 later this month.

Jerusalem Marathon kicks off with 40,000 runners from 80 countries

More than 40,000 runners, including some 4,600 athletes from 80 different countries, joined the ninth annual Jerusalem Marathon on Friday morning, the largest-ever number of participants to take part in the race.

“This is an amazing event, and anyone who has not experienced it cannot understand the emotions. I intend to run next year,” newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion told the crowds at the event.

Hundreds of police, Border Police and security officers were deployed to Jerusalem’s streets, to keep the public safe and to direct traffic during and after the marathon.

The hotels in the capital were full to maximum capacity ahead of the event, Channel 12 news reported.

Many Jerusalem streets were closed from 5:30 a.m. and scheduled to reopen at 2:30 p.m., with runners set to participate in six courses — the full marathon (42.2 km), half-marathon (21.1 km), 10 km, 5 km, family race (1.7 km), and community race (800 meters) for people with special needs.

Jerusalem hoisted a Syrian flag near the Knesset on the route of the annual race in case Damascus-born Hasan Aljijakli, a Syrian runner, shows up to take part in the event.

Kenyan runners win men, women’s races at record-breaking Jerusalem Marathon

More than 40,000 runners, including some 4,600 athletes from 80 different countries, joined the ninth annual Jerusalem Marathon on Friday morning, the largest-ever number of participants to take part in the race.

Runners from Kenya won the men and women’s races — Ronald Kimeli, 33, won the men’s marathon, completing the course in 02:18:47, and Kimaiyo Nancy Chepngetich, 35, finished the women’s race in 02:44:50.

Newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion welcomed the runners and spectators at the start of the race and congratulated the winners at the finish line.

“This is an amazing event, and anyone who has not experienced it cannot understand the emotions. I intend to run next year,” Lion told the crowd.

“This year, the Jerusalem Winner Marathon was a record-breaking marathon — in terms of the number of overall participants, the number of foreign runners, and the amount of tourists to Israel. The marathon brought NIS 20 million (some $5 million) to businesses in the city,” Lion added.

Record number of tourists entered Israel in 2018

Incoming tourism reached an all time high in 2018, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a new report on Thursday.

Some 4.1 million tourists visited Israel last year, marking a 14% increase compared to 2017, which was also a record year.

Likewise, the number of foreign tourists who stayed overnight at a hotel increased by 10% compared to the previous year.

“We can say that 2018 was a record-breaking year, with an unprecedented level of incoming tourists,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in statement. “This accomplishment is a direct result of the laborious effort undertaken by my ministry, as well as the revolutionary way in which we have presented Israel abroad, the inauguration of new flights to Israel and the collaboration with the biggest tourist agencies around the world.”

Haifa’s Pilgrims

For Sydney Kopokosu there are always lawns to mow, dead leaves to pick up, and bushes to trim. These simple but constant tasks are what keep the famous terraced gardens around the Baha’i World Centre on the slope of Haifa’s Mount Carmel in pristine condition.

“For me, this work is a dream,” said Kopokosu, 28. Originally from Zambia, he is one of about 600 international volunteers from the Baha’i faith who come to Israel and dedicate a few years of their lives tending to the gardens, mausoleum shrines, and other holy places and institutions of one of the world’s youngest religions—which began in 19th-century Iran and, through a dramatic turn of events, came to be headquartered in Haifa.

“All my life I saw pictures of Mount Carmel, and I was inspired by its beauty,” said Kopokosu, whose grandfather was one of Zambia’s earliest converts to the Baha’i faith, a monotheistic religion that preaches the spiritual unity and equality of all humanity, and the universal truth of all other established faiths. “So being here is very emotional.”
Intalik Milne, from Greenland, and Sydney Kopokosu, from Zambia, volunteer in the gardens. (Photo: Sara Toth Stub)

Trimming and watering the red geraniums, towering palm trees, and brilliant green grass in these gardens makes this time of year—the 19 days of fasting and reflection that precede the Baha’i New Year, or Nawruz, on March 21—even more meaningful, said Kopokuso, who carries out his manual labor despite not eating or drinking during daylight hours.

“I am really following in the footsteps of our founders as I take care of these gardens and connect with people from all over the world,” said Kopokosu, who works as an educator back home.



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