Combating the anti-Zionist facade
A conversation with Elisha Wiesel is like stepping into a Talmudic debate. Quietly spoken and urbane, he gives deep thought before delivering considered answers.
Despite his famous father’s larger-than-life legacy, he is his own man with his own ideas and strong opinions. He will take part in the March of the Living for the first time this year and is acutely aware of its significance – not simply from a personal perspective but as a powerful tool to strengthen Jewish identity and also create a deeper and more nuanced appreciation of Israel.
We live in an age in which we hoped that antisemitism would dissipate, where the world would take a step back and realize that words and actions have consequences, sometimes genocidal ones. But Europe and the United States are grappling with increasing levels of antisemitism, and one feature in particular caught Wiesel’s attention.
“What’s notable about the strain of antisemitism at the moment is that it is being masked as anti-Zionism and it is being embraced by the Left – and in America that is tragic. We are talking about causes where the Jewish people have been so closely aligned.
“Take the Black Lives Matter movement. It is incomprehensible to me that they have incorporated language from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Where is the connection? It is disappointing. If you look at the history of the NAACP, US Jews were there from the beginning. That BDS is being swept into BLM saddens and disappoints me.”
The BLM movement began in 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, who shot and killed African-American teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. But its progression to becoming a more significant actor on the national stage followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. At the same time, the BDS movement’s response to Operation Protective Edge drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter leadership, and it was at this point that two seemingly disparate issues converged into a fight, as the leadership of the movements’ saw it, against oppression.
Talking about the BLM and BDS movements brought the conversation to college campuses, where standing up as a proud Jew has become more challenging.
Not long ago, I heard emeritus professor of Tel Aviv University Asher Susser give a talk on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He came to the following conclusion: The conflict is insoluble because the Palestinians and Israelis have two irreconcilable narratives. And the Palestinians will never give up their so-called ”right of return.”
Yet as I pointed out to him, two sets of refugees arose out of the conflict: one Arab and one Jewish.
The Jewish refugee issue has been solved, but there was an incontrovertible (and irrevocable) exchange of roughly equal refugee populations between what is now Israel and the Arab world. Such exchanges happened in the India-Pakistan conflict, and between Greek and Turkish Cyprus.
End of story.
Professor Susser acknowledged that Israel would never accept five million Arab refugees (this number, uniquely among all other refugees in the world, includes the descendants of the original refugees). The responsibility, he said, should be shared with the Palestinians and the other Arab states.
Maybe the professor was playing Devil’s advocate, but his reply is one I have heard from Arab sources: What have the Palestinians got to do with Jewish refugees?
When I replied that the Mufti of Jerusalem embodied Palestinian antisemitism, inciting the 1941 Farhud massacre of the Jews in Iraq, the professor countered by saying the Mufti was just one man, and there were other causal factors behind the Farhud.
Yes, the Palestinian Mufti was just one man. But he was the de facto leader of the Arab world, where popular opinion was overwhelmingly pro-Nazi. He aligned himself with pro-Nazi nationalists to overthrow the Iraqi government. He took refuge in Berlin with 60 other influential Arabs, and broadcast virulent anti-Jewish propaganda over Radio Berlin with a view to facilitating the extermination of the Jews not just in Palestine, but across the Arab world. Palestinian and Syrian pro-Nazi nationalists had taken control of levers of power in Iraq, and they too bore responsibility for inciting anti-Jewish hatred.
Speaking at pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Vice-President Mike Pence slammed the Democratic party for failing to adequately condemn and combat antisemitism in its ranks.
“Now my friends, we’ve reached a fateful moment in our history,” he said. “All over the world, antisemitism is on the rise. On college campuses, in the market place, even in the halls of Congress.”
“You know, there was a time when support for Israel was not a partisan issue here in Washington,” Pence said, before speaking of his collaboration with the late Democratic congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos.
Pence said that this collaboration, particularly on Jewish- and Israel-related issues, was part of a “long and bipartisan tradition within the Congress, spanning generations.”
“But how things have changed,” he said. “It’s astonishing to think that the party of Harry Truman, which did so much to help create the State of Israel has been co-opted by people who promote rank antisemitic rhetoric and work to undermine the broad American consensus of support for Israel.”
Addressing the scandal surrounding Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has made several antisemitic statements in recent weeks, and the Democratic leadership’s failure to pass a resolution explicitly condemning her, Pence said, “Recently, a freshman Democratic congresswoman trafficked in repeated antisemitic tropes; alleged congressional support for Israel reflected an allegiance to a foreign country; said that Israel had, and I quote, ‘hypnotized the world’; and she accused Americans who support Israel of being bought off by campaign contributions.”
“Antisemitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America!” Pence emphasized.
Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States of America. At a minimum, anyone who slanders those who support this historic alliance between the US & Israel should never have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives. pic.twitter.com/R9csw7pKdp
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 25, 2019
Senator Ted Cruz Talks Support for Israel at AIPAC 2019
“From this Benjamin: It’s not about the Benjamins!”
— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) March 26, 2019
When the democratically elected leaders of sovereign democracies jointly pursue policies that deepen their national security, that’s called cooperation not collusion. That’s true even when journalists & pundits don’t personally like those leaders. https://t.co/ozYU3TYyQf
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) March 26, 2019
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the growing rise in anti-Semitism around the world Monday, telling a massive crowd at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s that anti-Zionism is commensurate to Jew-hatred.
“Let me go on the record,” he said, “anti-Zionism is anti-semitism.”
Addressing AIPAC’s 2019 Policy Conference, America’s top diplomat celebrated US President Donald Trump recognizing the Golan Heights as part of sovereign Israel alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House hours earlier. Pompeo visited the Golan last week during a tour of the Middle East.
“Just a short while ago President Trump, alongside Prime Minister Netanyahu, signed a decree, a decree affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan,” Pompeo told the crowd of 18,000. “What a truly great two days for two great nations.”
Trump’s decision is widely seen as part of an effort timed to bolster the Israeli premier’s re-election bid back home. Netanyahu, who had been slated to speak before the pro-Israel lobby on Tuesday, cut his trip early to return to Jerusalem, as Israeli responded to a rocket attack from Gaza on central Israel that struck a home and injured seven people.
While Pompeo was more diplomatic in tone compared to US Vice President Mike Pence, who on Monday told AIPAC that Democrats had been “co-opted by people who promote rank anti-Semitic rhetoric,” he nevertheless criticized the contingency of the Democratic Party increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
As he was castigating anti-Semitism, Pompeo took aim at two new members of Congress — Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, though he did not mention them by name — who support BDS.
“This bigotry is taking on an insidious new form in the guise of anti-Zionism,” Pompeo said. “It’s invested on college campuses in the form of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It’s discussed in our media. It’s supported by certain members of Congress, I suspect none of whom are here tonight.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he added, “criticizing Israel’s policies is an acceptable thing to do in a democracy. But criticizing the very right to exist of Israel is not acceptable. Anti-Zionism denies the very legitimacy of the Israeli state and of the Jewish people.”
Senate Republicans are set to introduce two bills that oppose anti-Semitism.
The bills follow a controversy surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota, who was accused by both parties of anti-Semitism for several remarks she made critical of Israel and its supporters.
One bill is a resolution, expected to be introduced Tuesday by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), declaring that “anti-Semitism has for hundreds of years included attacks on the loyalty of Jews.” The resolution is meant as a criticism of Omar, who in public remarks last month implied that supporters of Israel have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
The second, called the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, is a bipartisan bill first introduced in 2016 to use resources in the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses. The bill says anti-Semitism includes “harassment on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a religious group” as well as “discriminatory anti-Israel conduct that crosses the line into anti-Semitism.”
Civil liberties groups are concerned that the Awareness Act threatens free speech and criticism of Israel. J Street, the liberal Israel lobby, opposes it, while AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League have supported it in the past.
Democrats appear to be wary of the two Republican measures, which would keep alive the controversy surrounding Omar and expose differences among Democrats in their approach to opposing the boycott Israel movement in state capitals and on campuses.
Democrats prefer a House resolution — backed by Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-New York), Lee Zeldin (R-New York) and Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), all Jewish — that condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. The resolution denounces BDS, but unlike some other congressional measures does not make it easier for states to punish those who adhere to the boycott.
— Elliott Hamilton (@ElliottRHams) March 26, 2019
The Arab states themselves don’t believe in their diplomatic campaign against Israel anymore, former ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told pro-Israel lobbing group AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference on Monday.
Receiving by far the most enthusiastic reception from the audience of any of the day’s speakers, Haley, who was noted for her staunch defense of Israel during her tenure, quickly pointed out that the response of the UN to Monday morning’s Hamas missile attack that leveled an Israeli home and wounded seven was “radio silence.”
Asked why this is the case, and why the UN regularly condemns Israeli retaliation but not the terrorism that caused it, Haley replied, “What I’ve learned is that, at the UN, it’s just been this way for so long that they do that.”
However, she said, even Israel’s staunchest opponents are aware of the hypocrisy of this practice.
“I was at this meeting with a couple of Arab countries and we were talking about Yemen,” she recounted. “And one of them said, ‘I just don’t understand, why isn’t anyone calling out Hezbollah, why aren’t they sitting there saying something about what’s being done, all of the things that are happening,’ because they were upset that that terrorist group was doing something that they shouldn’t be doing.”
“And I turned around and I said, ‘Well if you’re upset about that, what’s the difference between that and Hamas and Israel?’ They were stunned, but when our meeting was over, they pulled me to the side and they said, ‘You know, you’re right. We know you’re right, but we have to do this for our constituents,’” Haley stated.
“That’s what they’re doing this for, for sound bites for their constituents,” she asserted. “They don’t honestly think that way. It’s just they’ve done it for so long, they do what they think they’ve always had to do.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) subtly hit Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D., Minn.) suggestion that supporters of Israel have dual loyalty, telling attendees at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Sunday that he stands with Israel “proudly and unapologetically.”
“When someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me,” Hoyer continued.
“I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel, an overwhelming majority in the Congress of the United States,” Hoyer added, according to the Washington Examiner.
Last month, 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,” and doubled-down on her remarks in tweets directed at fellow Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey (N.Y.).
House Democratic leaders scrambled to write and pass a resolution condemning various forms of hatred in the wake of her remarks.
Omar had previously drawn scrutiny for separate remarks, and she apologized in early February for anti-Semitic tweets, in which she alleged AIPAC pays politicians to be pro-Israel. She also acknowledged a tweet in which she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts was “unfortunate.”
Last week, the liberal group MoveOn called on 2020 Democrats to boycott AIPAC’s policy conference, accusing the organization of “undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage.”
House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) is taking a stand against the Democratic Party’s base. The 79-year-old congressman not only attended and delivered a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference on Sunday—Hoyer also took a not-so-subtle jab at freshman Democrats such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) who have come under fire for repeatedly making anti-Semitic remarks.
After declaring himself “proudly and unapologetically” supportive of Israel, Hoyer told the AIPAC audience: “When someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me … Let’s have debates on policy instead of impugning the loyalty of Israel’s supporters.”
Hoyer’s comments appeared to be in reference to Rep. Omar’s repeated suggestions that American supporters of Israel expect “allegiance” and “pledge support to a foreign country.” Omar’s remarks prompted Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to request an apology for the “vile anti-Semitic slur.”
House Democratic leaders initially prepared a resolution to condemn Omar’s anti-Semitic comments, but received pushback from rank-and-file members, including celebrity freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), which resulted in the resolution being expanded into a broad condemnation of all forms of “hate.”
Hoyer was stepping out of line with his party’s base by even appearing at the AIPAC conference. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) is the only Democratic presidential candidate scheduled to attend. Hoyer’s swipe at Omar, meanwhile, earned him a healthy dose of disapproval from liberals and Democratic activists, including former Obama aide and “Pod Save America” bro Tommy [get in the van] Vietor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) referred to anti-Semitism as anti-American while speaking about accusations that supporters of Israel have dual loyalty during a speech at AIPAC’s annual conference on Tuesday.
“In our democratic societies, we should welcome legitimate debate on how best to honor our values and to advance our priorities without questioning loyalty or patriotism,” Pelosi said. “This month, the full House came together to condemn the anti-Semitic myth of dual loyalty and all forms of bigotry with a resolution that ‘rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance.'”
“I simply declare to be anti-Semitic is to be anti-American. It has no place in our country,” Pelosi continued.
Pelosi is not the first Democratic leader to address the dual loyalty stereotype at AIPAC. On Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) slammed the suggestion that supporters of Israel have dual loyalty.
“When someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me,” Hoyer said.
“I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel, an overwhelming majority in the Congress of the United States,” Hoyer added.
— (((Kay Wilson))) (@kishkushkay) March 25, 2019
The Libs are ratioing Kamala for this! https://t.co/aDUGM3Ed6k
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) March 26, 2019
Abbas Hamideh, a “Palestinian right of return” activist and founder of Al-Awda, was one of the main organizers behind a Sunday protest that began outside the White House and ended outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference.
Hamideh, who has repeatedly called Israel a “terrorist entity” and has equated Zionists to Nazis, organized a protest of over 150 activists outside the White House. The crowd, which consisted of several young white activists, started gathering outside the White House at noon for a little over an hour and then started marching towards the convention center where AIPAC kicked off their three-day conference.
“We’re ready to roll for tomorrow! Thanks to all that came out to @AlAwdaROR workshop! See you all tomorrow @ the White House (12PM)!” Hamideh tweeted on Saturday night.
In addition to Al-Awda, Students for Justice in Palestine, Answer Coalition, Code Pink and Neturei Karta, delivered speeches condemning what they call the Israeli occupation in Palestine. Others activists were there showing their support for freshman Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), the first two Muslim women to serve in the House of Representatives.
Hamideh tweeted out a picture of himself holding a painting of Tlaib and standing beside the newly sworn-in congresswoman back in January, stirring backlash from pro-Israel activists.
“I was honored to be at Congresswoman @RashidaTlaib swearing in ceremony in #Detroit and private dinner afterward with the entire family, friends and activists across the country. #Palestine #TweetYourThobe #RashidaTlaib,” Hamideh tweeted.
— Ozraeli Dave (((דיויד לנג))) (@Israellycool) March 26, 2019
A spokesman for the Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to condemn an imam in her district who preached antisemitism, according to an article published by the Jewish Journal last week.
The imam, Shaaban Aboubadria, reportedly delivered a sermon on March 15 at the Minneapolis Masjid Al-Huda Islamic Center during which he said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is “carrying the Zio-Crusader agenda.” The term “Zio” is an anti-Semitic slur that has been popularized by prominent American white supremacist David Duke.
“Who is the one that is killing Muslims in Syria? Isn’t it Russia? Are the Russian planes dropping chocolate on the innocent and unarmed civilians? Or are they dropping lethal and destructive incendiary bombs on them?” said Aboubadria. His statements were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“And what about the bombs that criminal Israel is dropping on Gaza,” he continued. “We went to sleep with the bombing of Gaza, and woke up with the crime in New Zealand.”
The Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, publicly asked the congresswoman to “let your constituents and concerned Americans know whether you condemn or endorse these views delivered to your community from the pulpit of a Minneapolis mosque.”
The US-mediated 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel may only have resulted in a “cold peace” but their ties have survived four decades in a turbulent region, analysts say.
The watershed treaty brought together late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli premier Menachem Begin for a March 26, 1979 signing ceremony in Washington as a beaming Jimmy Carter, then-US president, looked on.
The peace deal, the first ever between Israel and an Arab state, and which cost Sadat his life at the hands of an Islamist extremist, has kept Cairo out of any armed conflict with its neighbor.
The treaty has emerged unscathed from upheavals in Egypt, notably the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, proving its “stability,” said Amr al-Shobaki, political analyst with the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
The 40th anniversary comes as armed conflicts roil several countries across the Arab world, from Libya in the far west to Yemen in the south.
It also comes at a time of major US policy changes.
If you open Google Earth and search for “Yamit, Sinai,” the globe on your screen will slowly spin its way to the Middle East before zooming in on a small area in the northern Sinai Peninsula, just west of Gaza (though it comes up as “Yammit”).
There, amid the sand dunes, one can still see the bare and bulldozed ground where the town of Yamit, a thriving Jewish community of 2,500 people, once stood, until it was uprooted and destroyed in 1982 as part of the peace treaty with Egypt.
The contours of various structures are still visible, paying silent testimony to the traumatic removal of Jews from their homes that was carried out by a Jewish government.
As Israel marks 40 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty on the White House Lawn, it is worth recalling the expulsion that was wrought in its wake, as more than a dozen Jewish communities in Sinai, numbering a total of 7,000 people, were compelled to disband and depart.
While forgoing Sinai might have brought us four decades of a cold peace with Egypt, it also elicited a heavy price from the Jewish state, one that continues to haunt us until the present day.
After a century in which the values of Zionism and settling the land had prevailed, Israel suddenly took a sharp U-turn, conferring legitimacy on the illegitimate idea that peace must necessarily entail withdrawal and retreat.
Needless to say, cooperation remained limited. In Israel there had been hope that the 1993 Oslo agreements would lead to a measure of normalization. Indeed, in 1995, a few Israeli companies dared launch industrial ventures. Most were defeated by bureaucracy and ill will.
The Merhav group of Yossi Maiman, which had established the Midor oil refinery complex in Alexandria together with Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem, a close friend of Mubarak, sold its share to Qatar.
A pipeline built to supply Egyptian gas to Israel for a period of 15 years through the Sinai Peninsula was blown up by Islamic terrorists time and time again, and the army that had taken over after the ouster of Mubarak was unable to protect it. After the 12th explosion, the lucrative deal for Egypt was halted.
The only project still operating today is Delta Textile, the brainchild of the late Dov Lautman. Its state-of-the-art factory made quality underwear for Marks and Spencer. Together with its satellite plants, it employs 5,000 Egyptians and brings in millions of dollars. Under a 2004 tripartite agreement between the US, Israel and Egypt, that country will be able to export goods from qualified industrial zones (QIZ) duty-free as long as 10.5% of the content from those goods was sourced from Israel. Textile exports to the US rose from $200 million in 2005 to $1.2 billion in 2018. Last February, the partners in the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields signed an agreement with the Egyptian Dolphinus Holdings company to supply 64 billion cubic meters during 10 years for $15 billion.
On March 26, we mark the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty. Forty years of upheavals: Israel conducted wars in Lebanon and Gaza and was confronted by two intifadas; Egypt saw a president assassinated and two others ousted from power. The embassy of Israel in Giza was stormed by a crowd whipped into frenzy.
Peace has endured against all odds because both countries know that they need it. True, normalization is still a distant dream and incitement against the Jews and Israel is not abating. Last Friday, two weeks before the landmark anniversary, the General Assembly of the Egyptian Press Syndicate “declared its adherence to its previous decision to ban all forms of professional and personal normalization with the Zionist entity and to ban any meetings of its members,” adding that those who violate that decision would be punished.
Nevertheless, not all is what it seems. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has launched a praiseworthy campaign to tone down anti-Jewish Islamic rhetoric. There is unprecedented security cooperation regarding the common threat of Islamic insurgency in the Sinai. Though Egypt did not turn into a bridge for peace, it made peace between Israel and Jordan possible and contacts between the Jewish State and a number of Arab kingdoms, though carefully downplayed, are multiplying.
Altogether, as we enter the fifth decade of peace, there is room for cautious optimism.
ACCORDING TO the former ambassador, Mubarak, when asked about the cold peace, would always say it was not governmental policy, but rather decisions being made by the unions.
Mubarak never wanted to annul the peace treaty, he just wanted it both ways, Levanon maintained. He wanted the benefits of the treaty – including the peace with Israel and the resulting economic assistance from the US – but without normalization with Israel.
The Egyptian leader, Levanon added, managed to convince the Arab world that he was unable to go against the US and annul the agreement, “but that does not mean that I have to hug and kiss the Jews.” His recipe was to keep a distance, and link normalization to progress on the Palestinian track.
Another factor in the negative perception of Israel was the Egyptian press, which was – and continues to be – very negative to Israel, and is oftentimes antisemitic.
Levanon pointed out that the press in Egypt is overwhelmingly controlled by the government and that the government could have changed the tone in the media had it desired. But, he said, it had no such desire.
Hebrew University Prof. Elie Podeh, who counts Egypt as among his main fields of expertise, characterized the Egyptian press as part of the peace treaty’s Achilles’ heel. He said the reason the government does not clamp down on the anti-Israel press is because it “wants to allow ventilation,” so that the criticism of the press “will not be toward the government but toward Israel and other actors.”
Forty years have passed since the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty but the Egyptian government has made no progress in meeting the property claims of Egyptian Jews. Lyn Julius explains the situation, in this extract from her book Uprooted: How 3000 years of Jewish civilisation in the Arab World Vanished Overnight.
The 1979 Camp David Treaty declared: ‘Egypt and Israel will work with each other and with other interested parties to establish agreed procedures for a prompt implementation of the resolution of the refugee problem’, without specifying if the refugees were Jewish or Arab. Under Article VIII of the Treaty, the two sides agreed to establish a Claims Commission for the mutual return of financial claims. But the Claims Commission was never established.
In 1980, an Egyptian Jew, Shlomo Kohen-Tsidon, wrote to Menahem Begin suggesting that, in the absence of a Claims Commission, the state of Israel was now responsible for meeting Egyptian-Jewish compensation claims. But Kohen-Tsidon’s interpretation was rejected by Israel’s foreign ministry.
Why was the Claims Commission never established? Egypt has never pressed for it. The Egyptians initially realised that Israeli claims could leave Egypt ‘stripped bare’, as one Israeli source put it. Israel, for its part, feared that Egypt might file a massive claim for oil pumped from the Abu Rudeis fields in western Sinai between 1967 and 1975. In anticipation, Egyptian Jews formally asked the Israeli government in 1975 not to return the oilfields without claiming compensation for Jewish property claims. Israel did not do so, and the Organization of Jews from Egypt sued the state of Israel before the High Court of Justice in September 1975. They lost the case, however: the Attorney-General Gabriel Bach concluded that it was too late. The agreement returning Abu Rudeis to Egypt had just been signed.
I remember a time when I was proud to be on the faculty at Duke University. It was an honor to work with colleagues of the highest caliber. We understood that academic integrity involved broad knowledge of a topic, as opposed to picking and choosing whatever coincided with our beliefs.
So, when Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) hosted a joint conference on Gaza, I expected that it would be an honest academic exercise. I could not have been more wrong.
This spare-no-expense conference took place at the “Global Education Center” at UNC. It began on Friday night with a Palestinian rapper. Saturday, there was breakfast and a “Gazan” lunch. One hall featured “Gazan art — We all live in Gaza.” Pro-Palestinian books were for sale. Sunday, all day, featured “Gaza on Screen” — where a total of eight pro-Palestinian films were shown.
The discussion panels on Saturday only included a one-sided perspective on Gaza. There was no mention of Gazan terrorism and the “pay to slay” policy of paying salaries to terrorists (and the families of terrorists) who kill innocent Jews, Americans, and others. There was no mention of the riots to break through Israel’s border, or the terror tunnels built by Hamas. And there was certainly no mention of the thousands of rockets launched from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians.
The first speaker on Saturday was Laila El-Haddad, born in Kuwait, who spent time in Gaza. She described poor conditions in Gaza, which she blamed on the blockade. She didn’t bother to explain why there is a blockade — in order to stop Hamas from smuggling in weapons and other equipment to murder innocent civilians. She described hours of waiting and being strip-searched by Egyptian authorities. She is adamantly pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel, but did not seem to favor a boycott of Egypt.
A rally held on Tuesday by a socialist student group at Brooklyn College to commemorate the victims of the deadly New Zealand mosque shootings called for an intifada — an Arabic expression referring to a Palestinian campaign against Israelis that included suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.
The solidarity vigil, organized by BC Socialists after a white supremacist gunman killed 50 people in Christchurch on March 15, attracted some 30 to 40 people, according to photos and videos posted online by the BC Student Union. Some members of the Islamic Society at BC — which held its own, university-promoted vigil on March 21 for victims of the massacre — were in attendance, BC Socialists said.
One speaker at the rally, which was first noted by the blogger Elder of Ziyon, denounced anti-Muslim and pro-Israel, Zionist rhetoric, before accusing the media of covering up the Palestinian identity of some of the Christchurch attack victims. Another speaker shouted chants repeated by the attendees, including, “Free, free Palestine,” and “Intifada, intifada, long live the intifada.”
During the First Intifada, launched in 1987, Palestinians used rifles, hand grenades, firebombs and explosives against Israeli targets, as part of popular protests against continued Israeli rule. The Second Intifada took place during the early 2000s, and saw Palestinians carry out multiple suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis.
The president of Brown University in Rhode Island has rejected a call to divest from companies over their ties to Israel, saying such a move would be polarizing and wrongly turn the school’s endowment into “a political instrument” that takes action on contested issues.
President Christina Paxson’s comments came following a campus referendum held from March 19 to 21, which in part called on the university to “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine.”
Sixty-nine percent of the students who voted — representing 27.5 percent of the total undergraduate student population — backed the referendum, which some Zionist and Jewish students at the school accused of employing biased language and heightening tensions on campus.
In a Friday message, Paxson expressed appreciation “that members of our community are concerned about the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians,” but opposed “divestment from companies that conduct business in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
“Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues, especially those over which thoughtful and intelligent people vehemently disagree,” she wrote. “As a university, Brown’s mission is to advance knowledge and understanding through research, analysis and debate. Its role is not to take sides on contested geopolitical issues.”
“I have been steadfast in my view that Brown should not embrace any of the planks of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement,” she continued, in reference to the controversial campaign that seeks to isolate Israel until it accepts key Palestinian demands. Supporters have framed BDS as a human rights pursuit, while critics — including major Jewish community representatives in the United States and globally — have slammed it as antisemitic in tone and effect.
Muhammed Desai, director of the Palestinian lobby group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA) is alleged to have sexually harassed three women on one night. One of those women, Sang Hea Kil, an academic from the US, laid a charge against Desai on Sunday. The Daily Vox team has seen the case docket which lists the offences as “indecent assault” and “sexual harassment”. Kil was in Johannesburg to attend a conference on Palestine and then stayed on for a study tour of Johannesburg hosted by the Afro Middle East Centre (Amec).
Kil, accompanied by other international delegates, ran into Desai and another BDS-SA staffer on the evening of Thursday March 21 in Melville, Johannesburg. Following that encounter, three women are alleged to have been sexually harassed by Desai. They collectively confronted him with these allegations two days later.
Speaking to The Daily Vox before returning to the US on Sunday night, Kil said: “At one point, Muhammed Desai came up behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders to give me an unwanted ‘massage’. My fellow scholar-activist intervened by literally placing her body between Muhammed Desai and myself to protect my inherent bodily rights and integrity.”
She says she had rebuffed Desai’s physical advances several times that night, but he had been insistent at initiating contact, through, she alleges, high-fiving her, changing seating arrangements to be seated closer closer to her, and squeezing her shoulders. This is despite Kil making it clear that his attention was unwanted by moving outside, then inside the restaurant and switching places with her friend to avoid him.
“I repeatedly tried to avoid his attention, and moved my location from inside, outside, inside again to dodge his stalking harassment.”
— Ozraeli Dave (((דיויד לנג))) (@Israellycool) March 25, 2019
For fifty-one weeks the BBC has been producing coverage of the ‘Great Return March’ rioting that has uniformly downplayed or erased the violent nature of the events and the role of terror groups in their organisation and execution has (until some recent but isolated clarification by Yolande Knell concerning Hamas’ involvement) been repeatedly ignored.
The BBC’s funding public has heard absolutely nothing about the airborne explosive devices employed in recent months or the night-time rioting organised by Hamas. Audiences have however heard and seen homogeneously uncritical promotion of the UNHRC commission’s report on a subject about which they have been serially under-informed.
That of course means that the BBC’s domestic audiences are – in contrast to the corporation’s public purpose obligations – not well placed to understand what their own foreign secretary means when he refers to “discrimination” and the intention of the UK to oppose Item 7 resolutions at the UNHRC.
However, the hidden camera segment recorded secretly by Yemini on his cell phone tells a totally different story.
Yemini answers the question by saying that “borders and government” decide where people can or cannot live, to which Jefferies responds, “I know borders, but wouldn’t it just be nice if we got to a place in society… A utopia where we all just lived as one?”
Yemini then tells Jefferies that “On on a level, I agree with you… I think most people, most people, you know, sensible people, would agree with you in theory… But in practice, it goes against human nature. It just doesn’t work.”
Yemini didn’t show the part of the segment where made he made the comments about Australia ending up like the “same sh*thole” where immigrants come from” in his hidden camera segment.
The hidden camera also captured Jefferies drawing the prophet Mohamed, which in Islam is considered blasphemy, and also insulted burkas, calling them “stupid and demeaning.” He later told Yemini that his kippah, referring to it as a hat, “is a little dumb.”
Jefferies also said that “he is not a big fan of Islam” and spoke about a dingo eating Muslim children.
The world-famous comedian has advocated for immigrants “to be celebrated” and fought for their right and acceptance during segments of his TV show The Jim Jefferies Show. He has also been critical of US President Donald Trump and his policies on immigration.
The Swedish home furnishings giant Ikea has teamed up with two Israeli accessibility organizations to produce new accessories to make some of the company’s furniture usable by those with disabilities.
Playing on the word “disable,” the world’s largest retail furniture chain created a new product line called ThisAbles in a collaboration with the Israeli accessibility NGOs Milbat and Access Israel, both of which specialize in producing solutions for disabled people.
Calling it the first joint venture of its type in the world, the work started in 2017 to test the accessibility of existing IKEA products and develop special add-ons to enable disabled customers to more easily use some of them, Access Israel said on its Facebook page.
The project was launched at one of Israel’s Ikea stores “with a hackathon of product engineers and disabled people that enabled better understanding of their needs,” Ikea said. “At the end of the developing process 13 new products were born, each solving a different accessibility issue.”
US fast food franchise McDonald’s is in the process of acquiring Israeli start-up Dynamic Yield for $300 million (NIS 1.1 billion), it announced early Tuesday.
Dynamic Yield’s service uses machine learning algorithms to help businesses tailor their website to individual consumers according to behavioral patterns.
Dynamic Yield was founded in 2011 by Liad Agmon and Omri Mendelevich and has raised some $77 million so far, according to a report by TheMarker. It has some 200 employees and is based in Tel Aviv.
McDonald’s is acquiring the Israeli company to increase its Internet marketing efforts. It added that it plans to use this technology to create a drive-thru menu that can be tailored to things like the weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.
“We started Dynamic Yield seven years ago with the premise that customer-centric brands must make personalization a core activity,” Agmon said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be joining an iconic global brand such as McDonald’s and are excited to innovate in ways that have a real impact on people’s daily lives.”
Three letters written by Albert Einstein about antisemitism and his Jewish heritage are set to be auctioned off in Los Angeles this week.
The letters, dating to the 1920s and ’30s – two handwritten and one from a typewriter – will be auctioned off by the Nate D. Sanders Auction House on Thursday.
The oldest letter, dated September 6, 1921, was written by hand and sent by Einstein to his sister, Maja Winteler-Einstein. The scientist wrote to her that, “I am supposed to go to Munich, but I will not do that, because this would endanger my life right now.” At the time, Munich, the city where Einstein grew up, was undergoing a wave of unrest and antisemitism, and in 1920 an order expelling the Jews from the city was issued.
Nevertheless, Einstein kept an upbeat tone, telling her that his two sons “are developing splendidly, they are intelligent, naturally unpretentious, and interested in many things.” Bidding on that letter is set to start at $12,000.
The second letter, handwritten on April 17, 1934, was sent by Einstein to his former wife and the mother of his two sons, Mileva Maric. The physicist said he was sending a check to aid with the care of his son, Eduard, who was schizophrenic. But Einstein said that his assistance was limited: “I am strained so severely by the various acts of assistance, that I have to restrict myself all around in the most extreme way. All this is the result of the Hitler-insanity, which has completely ruined the lives of all those around me,” he wrote. Bidding on the letter to Maric begins at $25,000.
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