July 2, 2020

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04/05 Links Pt2: Sweden and the safe enemy; AI Takes Part in Apartheid Week South Africa


From Ian:

The Obama Administration Allegedly Spied on Pro-Israel Activists. Did They Do the Same to Trump?
This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.
In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.
During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.
It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

The safe enemy

By disproportionately covering this attack and ignoring other, weekly, incidents, the media is perpetuating a myth that the main threat facing the Jewish population is a massive Nazi insurgence, and that when it is squashed, the Jews are once again fair game.
The reason the first incident in Umea was not covered by the national press was that the left-leaning media had no interest in an issue where the political left had hijacked a Jewish day of remembrance to drive their personal cause, and the villains of the story were too close to home and far too close for comfort. So the media kept quiet, and failed not only the Jews of Umea but also their entire profession by choosing to become party to the proceedings.
I feel for the Jewish community in Umea, but I also fear for all of us. This is the thing about us Jews: not even our sorrows are our own. Our victories are celebrated but we remain whatever the world wants and needs us to be. Umea saw their Kristallnacht memorial stolen for political purposes and now I fear their last days will be stolen, too.
I am thankful for the attention being showered on the Jews of Umea, and for all the pledges and promises made by politicians and leaders in support of our cause. But it is tomorrow, not today, that these pledges will be put to the test. When the next attack hits and the other shoe drops, will they still love us then? Will they stand by us even when the attacker doesn’t fit the bill? I hope so, I pray so, but I won’t be holding my breath.

‘Sweden’s anti-Semitism has crossed all red lines’

After a Jewish center in Sweden closed in response to anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi threats, World Zionist Organization Vice President and Department for Countering Anti-Semitism Head Yaakov Haguel said “all red lines” had been crossed and the Muslim community was “chasing after Jews.”
“This is just a continuation of the previous plots,” Haguel said. “Sweden’s anti-Semisim has crossed all red lines. The recent events are only the latest in a long line of incitement and blood libels. People are sowing an unjust fear of Jews, and the government is closing its eyes to everything which relates to Jews and israel.
“Jews are running from here, because they’re scared of he rising anti-Semitism. There are anti-Israel campaigns which focus on libels claiming Jews steal and sell Palestinian limbs. There have been incidents in which local Muslims literally chase after Jews. And the government supports an anti-Israel stance, unequivocally supporting the Palestinians and Islamic countries.
“All of these should make us do some soul-searching with regards to our relationship with this counry.
“I call on the Swedish government to take responsibility and ensure the safety of its citizens,” Haguel concluded.

NGO Monitor: Amnesty International Takes Part in Apartheid Week South Africa

The latest example of Amnesty International’s anti-Israel activity occurred during the weeks of March 6 and March 27, 2017 in South Africa, when Amnesty’s campus clubs took part in “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW).
Annually, events take place on campuses around the world under the banner of IAW, in order to “raise awareness of Israel’s settler colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
In other words, seeking to delegitimize the State of Israel by spreading false information through emotive posters erected in the center of academic institutions.
During Apartheid Week at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, Amnesty International at Wits University tweeted, “In the spirit of progressive internationalism, Amnesty International Wits endorses #IsraelApartheidWeek 2017” (March 7).
On March 30, Amnesty International University of Cape Town took part in Apartheid Week protests at the University of Cape Down.

Muslim Bedouin IDF Veteran: Wrong, Embarrassing for Jews to Spread Lies About Israel

An Arab IDF veteran who attended an event at Columbia University last month told The Algemeiner on Tuesday why he lashed out at a Jewish student on campus who said he was “not proud” of Israel.
Mohammad Kabiya, a University of Haifa political science major and commander in the Israeli Air Force, whose sharp exchange with his peer about Israel’s moral standing has been circulating on social media, explained, “It is so wrong, and embarrassing, for a Jew to spread such lies about the one Jewish state in the world.”
“Israel is not perfect but it’s far from how these people are describing it,” Kabiya – a Bedouin Muslim — said in Hebrew, referring to the crowds participating in “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) events. Criticism of the Israeli government and policies is legitimate, he added, “but it’s like when I fight with my brother; the whole world doesn’t need to know about it.”
Kabiya, who had been invited to Columbia by the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) as part of “Hebrew Liberation Week” – a counter-demonstration to IAW – has been serving as an informal spokesman for the Jewish state and his community’s proud role in its defense.
“Israel is my state and I need to protect it,” he said emphatically.

Nikki Haley Slams United Nations for Not Condemning Syrian Chemical Attack

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley castigated the U.N. on Wednesday for not condemning the Syrian government for reportedly using chemical weapons on its own people, suggesting Washington is open to potentially taking action against Syria.
“When the U.N. consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,” Haley said, adding that if the U.N. does not take action, “we may.”
Haley’s remarks came while the council was considering a resolution to condemn the attack by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in which dozens of people were killed, including children.
Haley’s comments were the most direct threat of unilateral action by the United States delegation at the U.N.

White supremacists don’t know what to make of Jared Kushner

White supremacists have a problem, and his name is Jared Kushner.
While many on the far right are hoping that President Donald Trump will help advance their separatist, racist agendas, figures like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin are asking what to do about his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law with the ever-expanding White House profile.
Kushner, 36, became a senior adviser to Trump after helping manage his presidential campaign. A real estate mogul by trade, he is now handling a growing list of administration priorities. He has a hand in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, addressing the opioid epidemic and reforming criminal justice. He is the point person on US-China relations. He just traveled to Iraq on government business. And he is heading an initiative to streamline the executive branch.
For white supremacists who feel Trump is, intentionally or not, speaking their language, this religious Jew who attends a Chabad synagogue is an unwelcome twist. And they don’t really know how to react.

Hit-Piece on Trump Counter-Terror Official Is Over Before It Starts– AGAIN

The Forward is at it again. Over the course of about a month, the left-wing website has launched nearly 30 aggressive, opposition research-driven attack pieces on Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian-born Deputy Assistant to the President for Terrorism. Nearly all of them are written by a Budapest-based activist-journalist named Lili Bayer. I’ve debunked the first of these at PJMedia, and many others– including, prominently, David Goldman (“Spengler”)– have addressed The Forward’s subsequent attacks as well. Defending Gorka at the well-respected Jewish website Tablet, Liel Liebowitz blisteringly asked The Forward, “Have you lost your minds?” He concluded that,
Such unreason isn’t just bad for journalism—the Forward’s piece leaps from intimations of Nazism to suggestions that Gorka may be at risk of having his citizenship revoked—but also bad for democracy. I’ve been, and remain, a critic of the Trump Administration, but all criticism is meaningless unless it adheres to reason, refuses rank rumors, and focuses on substance rather than on slinging mud. Let’s all take a deep breath. The White House is no more overrun with Nazis as with secret Russian spies. To suggest otherwise is to further flame the kind of hysteria that, traditionally, has led to social unrest and delivered no good news to the Jews.
Nevertheless, they persisted. Perhaps Bayer and her colleagues at the Forward are capable of shame, because in the last paragraph of her most recent report, Bayer notes that, “there is no evidence that Gorka himself has ever engaged in overtly anti-Semitic acts.” That must be the case, as the thousands of dollars in man-hours this opposition-research campaign against a single Trump staffer has cost has been unable to find anything at all of substance– only innuendo and guilt-by-association (even when those associations themselves don’t exist).

How the Six-Day War Changed Israel and the Jews

Yossi Klein Halevi discusses the impact of the 1967 war on Israeli society, recent shifts in Israeli politics, and his own memories from a half-century ago. (Interview by Calev Ben-Dor.)
My most primal memory was in the latter part of May 1967, watching the news with my father, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who constantly carried that experience with him. We saw crowds of demonstrators chanting “death to Israel” and waving banners imprinted with skulls and cross-bones, which, as a fourteen-year-old boy, made a very deep impression on me. Both my father and I had this same dread that some version of the Holocaust was about to re-occur. And that feeling was repeated across the Jewish world, from Moscow to Tel Aviv. . . .
[The dread] of May 1967 was followed by the victory in June 1967. So there was an emotional trajectory from relief when we realized that Israel was not going to be destroyed, to joy and pride at the defeat of our enemies, and finally ecstasy—even a kind of religious ecstasy for many Jews—at the reversal: from destruction to redemption. It was a re-enactment, [in a sense, of the story] of Purim—the reversal of a genocidal threat, [with] the evil Haman hanging on the gallows that were intended for [the heroic] Mordechai. The euphoria was a combination of realizing we had just witnessed the greatest military victory in Jewish history as well as the restoration of those parts of the land of our past that had been denied to us.

The Midwestern Rabbi’s Daughter Who Sounded the Alarm about Hitler

Born in 1874 (or thereabouts), Emma Messing grew up in Indianapolis, where her father was the rabbi of a prominent Reform synagogue and a highly regarded figure in Jewish and Gentile circles. Messing, whose doings were noted in the society pages from her youth onward, started performing vaudeville with her sister at age thirty-one, had a romance with the colorful non-Jewish real-estate developer who built Miami Beach, and pursued a brief career as an actress in New York. In 1921—having realized that she would not achieve Broadway stardom—she got herself a job with the State Department as an aide at the embassy in Berlin. Mark Lasswell writes:
With Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, Messing was reassigned to the U.S. legation in Stockholm. As the war in Europe widened, she resigned her position and in December 1940, at age sixty-seven, she returned to America and set out to tell anyone who would listen about Hitler and the Nazi threat. . . .
At an Indianapolis auditorium in March 1941, an overflow crowd turned out to hear Messing’s speech about what she had seen in Germany. She gave the talk again a few nights later, at the World War Memorial Shrine, for those who couldn’t get in. A long article in the Indianapolis Star about the first night quoted extensively from the speech. Messing described Hitler’s rise in the 1920s, his demonization of Jews, his vilification of all religion so he could “substitute the worship of this anti-Christ, this pagan Hitler.” She noted that “he spoke the language of the masses. He spoke to the people who were ready to believe anything.”

Barry Shaw: JVP. The Epitome of Jewish Self-Hate.

JVP is an avid pro-BDS group. BDS, like Odeh and the PFLP, shamelessly campaigns for a world without the Jewish State.
The fact that this Jewish organization has made common cause with Jew killers and Israel haters is deeply disturbing.
What inordinate and fevered minds do members of this Jewish group have by lauding killers of their co-religionists? Even the dreadful kapos of the Holocaust did not honor the Jew killers of that sad time.
What hysteria demons possess their Jewish souls to the degree that they saluted this Jew-killing “heroine” with a standing ovation?
What obscene sense of justice was displayed by Jews who travelled distances to hear the odious Odeh, yet omitted any thought or homage to Leon Kaner of Netanya and Edward Joffe of Tel Aviv, the two Jewish students that were blown up by Odeh’s bomb. May their names be blessed and the name of Odeh and all those who fawn over her be cursed.
I am sorry but further words fail me. My mind is confronted by the depravity of thought perpetrated by this offensive Jewish group and its supporters.
They honored a person whose whole raison d’etre is to achieve the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem in Palestine.
For shame!

SPME BDS Monitor: Divestment Stalls, But Antisemitism Thrives

March was a complicated month for BDS efforts, with divestment resolutions, “Israeli Apartheid Week” activities, outbreaks of campus antisemitism and important political developments.
Last month, BDS resolutions were rejected by student governments at the University of Illinois, Ohio State University and a branch of the University of Western Ontario. On the other hand, BDS measures were approved at De Anza College and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. While the Georgetown University Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility rejected a student demand to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the student government at the University of Turin passed a resolution calling for that university to end all cooperation with the Israeli company Technion.
During March, Israeli Apartheid Week events were held at many colleges and universities. In a departure from its standard practice, however, the Columbia University student government declined support to the BDS group responsible for Israeli Apartheid Week and a ‘Zionism is racism’ event. And to counter Apartheid Week programming, pro-Israel students at Columbia held a Hebrew Liberation Week.
In Britain, one notable feature of “Apartheid Week” was a strong statement by Prime Minister Theresa May calling on universities to “investigate and swiftly address” antisemitism on campus. May’s comments should be seen in the context of an important British policy shift away from routinely supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

US court says profs can sue academic body for Israel boycott

A US federal court has ruled that four college professors can sue the American Studies Association over its academic boycott of Israel.
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday ruled that the professors’ lawsuit, a case called Bronner v. Duggan, can go forward after the American Studies Association, or ASA, asked the court to dismiss it.
The court rejected ASA’s argument that going forward with the lawsuit infringes on its First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit charges the ASA with violating the District of Columbia law governing tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. That rule limits a nonprofit from acting beyond its chartered purposes, which in the case of the ASA, according to the plaintiffs lawyers, includes promoting knowledge and the “strengthening of relations among persons and institutions in this country and abroad.”
The four plaintiffs, who are longtime members of the association, also charge that the boycott violates the group’s internal rules. They are American studies professors Simon Bronner, Michael Rockland, Michael Barton and Charles Kupfer.

Towards a New Model of Israel Advocacy

I recently saw a deeply unsettling article in the Canadian Jewish News, written by a member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, a Canadian offshoot of Jewish Voice for Peace, that urges the Jewish establishment to do away with integrating Israel advocacy into their youth programs.
While my first reaction was to be scared and worried for the next generation, aware of the tectonic shift away from enthusiastically supporting Israel that has happened in Jewish communities as of late, I eventually totally understood why the author felt that way.
I started to agree with her a bit. I realized then that we shouldn’t do away with Hasbara, but that our current model is totally unsustainable for the next generation and is causing us to lose people to the other side. It is absolutely essential that if we want to maintain a strong Zionist spirit and near-universal support for Israel among Jews, we absolutely must give Hasbara a complete makeover.
This whole idea that Hasbara necessarily means leaving your critical thinking skills at the door is worrisome to me. It should be about addressing tough topics, because I can promise you that every time I’ve seen an enticing J Street or JVP argument about some human rights abuse, I later find out that either there is an existential reason for that practice, the story is presented in a one-sided manner with Israel’s motive and the Palestinian provocation ignored, the story is an outright lie or heavily twisted, or there are deliberate and strategic omissions. Every. Single. Time.
So why are we trying so hard to hide it, if it can all be debunked?
We need to be confronted head-on with the uncomfortable stuff, because it’s the only way we can strengthen our support for Israel.

Labour Gorton Candidate Linked to Anti-Semitic Radical Islamist

Afzal Khan, Labour’s candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election, is an associate of a radical Islamist who has supported the Taliban, ranted about Jews, defended Osama bin Laden and led funeral prayers for al-Qaeda jihadists. On 22 August 2015, Khan was photographed smiling alongside Siraj ul-Haq from the Pakistani Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami at a UK Islamic Mission event in Manchester.
Back in 2000 ul-Haq reportedly urged the Taliban not to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States, offering them the support of his party. This is a news report from the time:
“Jamaat-e-Islami has urged Afghanistan’s Taliban not to hand over Saudi national Osama bin Laden to the United States or any other country. The demand was made by Jamaat-e-Islami provincial Secretary General Sirajul Haq in a meeting with the acting Governor of Eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar Maulvi Sadr-e-Azam… Sirajul Haq assured every kind of help and support to the Taliban on behalf of the Jamaat.”
In 2010 Ul-Haq was quoted ranting about “the Jews”:
“The Jews and Christians can not defeat and defame Islam by their hollow threats but they are testing our pulses through sensational announcements across the globe.”

Bashar-ing the Bishop Rowan Williams to Speak at Pro-Assad Conference

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will share a platform with two Syrian government officials loyal to the butcher Bashar Al-Assad. Williams – who is now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge – will address a conference hosted by The European Centre for the Study of Extremism, described by Syrian campaigners as a pro-Assad puppet organisation. The former Church of England leader will speak alongside Ali Haidar, a minister in the Assad government and general secretary of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (which runs a notorious militia fighting for Assad), and Bishr Riyad Yaziji, another Assad government minister. Both Haidar and Yaziji are asset freeze targets of the British government…
The conference will also be attended by Hamid Baeidinejad, the Iranian Ambassador to the UK. Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock was a patron of the group, but last week withdrew his support citing its “pro-Assad stance“:
Williams has proven more stubborn, despite pleas from an alliance of UK Syrian interest groups:
“We are concerned that a great many people who we expect not to share pro-regime sympathies are involved with this propaganda exercise.”

Columbia, Vassar Among US Universities With Highest Incidence of Antisemitic Activity, New Report Claims

New York’s Columbia University experienced the highest overall antisemitic activity last year among more than 100 US schools studied, a report released Tuesday by a campus watchdog group revealed.
According to the AMCHA Initiative’s second annual report, Columbia also had the largest increase in such episodes, with 29 more incidents in 2016 than in the previous year. Vassar College came in at a close second, according to the report. In total, the campuses studied experienced a 40 percent spike in antisemitic behavior, with 433 episodes recorded last year by AMCHA.
“Jewish students are bearing the brunt of vast and profound campus intolerance,” lead researcher and AMCHA founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner. “Jews are being targeted at heightened levels, but this has to be understood in the context of a more general problem. If administrators could understand and correctly frame the issue of antisemitism as one example of a culture of campus intolerance, they could respond to it better, and help all students — Jewish and non-Jewish — have a healthier university climate for free speech.”
Rossman-Benjamin added that she is particularly “frightened” by another finding in the report.
“Homicidal expression — condoning or calling for the murder of Jews, using language and imagery linked with the Holocaust — is rising at a troubling rate,” she said. “By what we are seeing in the first quarter of 2017, this year will be even worse. Compared with this time in 2016, we’ve already documented a huge uptick in such incidents, especially in the appearance of swastikas.”

‘The Burqa is Like an Islamic State Flag’: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Hits Critics After Down Under Visit Dropped

Outspoken ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali has taken her critics in Australia to task after she was forced to cancel a speaking tour Down Under because of security fears.
The event, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Hero of Heresy”, was billed as an opportunity to “step inside the controversy” surrounding Islam and women’s place within the religion.
While she refused to further elaborate on the reasons for the abrupt cancellation of a tour that was to take in Australian and New Zealand audiences, Ms. Hirsi Ali told the Seven Network in Australia she wishes to “defy” her opponents and “come and expose them for what they are.”
“These are people who are far more interested in defending sharia Law, that’s Islamic law, and the doctrine of radical Islam, over human rights,” she said of her opponents, which included a group in the state of Victoria called Against Islamophobia who reportedly called venues at which she was booked to speak and threatened mass protests.


You can learn a great deal about people through their social media accounts.
Kleon Toffetti, for example, describes himself as an anti-capitalist and an anarchist. “F**k capitalism, neoliberalism and the out-of-touch government and opposition in Australia,” he declares.
Kleon is but a child, so some irrationality is to be expected. Yet he’s also the NSW Young Greens Co-convenor, in which capacity Toffetti and his comrades have announced a boycott of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students.
At this point you’d expect an adult to step in and help the kid. Perhaps point him towards the reasons for Israel’s foundation – with a particular focus on European history from, say, the early 1930s to the mid-40s. It might also be useful to explain Israel’s continuing struggle to simply exist.
Unfortunately, senior Greens seem disinclined to assist their wayward junior member. A spokeswoman for Greens leader Richard Di Natale merely told The Daily Telegraph that the party’s juvenile wing features a variety of opinions. “We believe these spark lively debate,” she said.

Contrary to National Post Op-Ed: Hamas Wants an Escalation of Hostilities with Israel

With all due respect to Daniel Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the notion that Hamas “prefers to avoid an escalation with Israel” is demonstrably false.
In an op-ed entitled “Signals pointing to Gaza War” which was published in the National Post on April 3, Mr. Shapiro makes this erroneous claim.
Contrary to Shapiro’s contentions, Hamas’ very raison d’être is to destroy Israel and to wipe the Jews off the map. If Hamas were avoiding an escalation with Israel, why would they divert humanitarian aid towards terror purposes and not build institutions necessary for statehood? Specifically, the hundreds of millions spent on building terror-attack tunnels, deadly short and long-range rockets, small arms and explosives, and by inciting young Palestinians to be suicide bombers, car-ramming attackers, and knife-wielding assailants. Those attackers (and their families) are all handsomely rewarded and receive stipends by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas still calls for “liberating Palestine” from “the river to the sea,” a clear reference to eliminating all of Israel and they are as bellicose as ever and pose a clear and present danger to Israelis and Jews worldwide.

The Washington Post Omits Important Context on Arab League Summit

In an article in The Washington Post about last week’s Arab League summit (March 29, “In a message to Trump, Arab leaders renew calls for a Palestinian state,”) reporter and Cairo Bureau Chief Sudarsan Raghavan omitted important context about the group’s statements and positions about Israel.
Raghavan reports on the Summit’s affirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for Israel to withdraw from all territory captured in the Six-Day War, including eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It also calls for adherence to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, interpreted by Arab states to validate the so-called “right of return” of Palestinians to Israel. It further refuses “patriation” of Palestinians to other Arab nations, meaning millions of Palestinians would have nowhere to live but Israel.
The reporter, however, omits Israel’s substantive reservations regarding the Initiative. Nor does he tell readers about Israel’s numerous, previous peace overtures — each time rejected by the Palestinians without so much as a counter-offer.
The distorted account creates the false impression that Israel is the intransigent party, and that peace would be at hand if Israel would simply accept the League’s ostensibly reasonable proposal.

Germany approves bill targeting online hate, fake news

Germany’s cabinet approved a new bill Wednesday on curbing hate comments and fake news on social media.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ministers agreed on rules that would impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($53.4 million) on social networking sites that fail to swiftly remove illegal content, such as hate speech or defamatory “fake news.”
Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that companies offering such online platforms are responsible for removing hateful content.
Maas said, “Just like on the streets, there is also no room for criminal incitement on social networks.”
The minister added that measures to combat hate speech and so-called fake news will ultimately have to be taken at the European level to be effective.
The bill still needs parliamentary approval.
In Israel, similar legislation was introduced by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, which would allow the state to seek court orders to force social media sites to remove certain content based on police recommendations.

Families of Pulse nightclub shooting victims sue Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube because they ‘helped radicalize the gunman’

Families and estates of more than a dozen victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre are suing Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube for allegedly contributing to the radicalization of the ISIS-inspired gunman.
The federal lawsuit was originally filed in Michigan last December by the estates of three victims, but it was amended last week to include ten more plaintiffs.
The complaint accuses the two social media sites, the video-sharing platform and the world’s most popular search engine of allowing ISIS to share content that allegedly inspired Omar Mateen.
He opened fire inside the packed Pulse nightclub in Orlando on the night of June 12, 2016, killing 49 people and injuring 68 others before he was shot dead by police.

In fake pursuit of truth

Does The New York Times report facts accurately? That’s a question now much in the political limelight — and it got an astonishing response from journalist Philip Bump at The Washington Post. The premise is neatly summarized by its headline, which asks: “If The New York Times is so inaccurate, where are all of its corrections?” That is, the author thinks The Times’ accuracy should be measured by the number of corrections it makes.
It’s stunning that an analysis by a correspondent at a leading newspaper would fail to recognize that inaccuracies can (and do) go uncorrected. The number of confessions does not equal the number of crimes. And if the Washington Post article meant to prove the press is beyond reproach, it instead showed that, among some journalists, the question of accuracy isn’t treated seriously.
To really test for accuracy, you’d have to examine the content of the articles themselves, not just the corrections. And in the case of The New York Times, a closer look at what’s been published recently shows that criticism of the newspaper is warranted, at least when it comes to certain topics.
The New York Times frequently misstates the facts in its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians. And it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the inaccuracies are politically motivated. Last December, for example, the news pages claimed that the Palestinian Authority officially called for “two states for two peoples,” a phrase that refers to a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state.
To which Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said: “We will never accept this.” Indeed, top Palestinian leaders frequently make clear their opposition to two states for two peoples. New York Times editors have not corrected the misstatement.

NY bans school project asking students to argue in favor of Holocaust

A homework assignment that asked students in an upstate New York school district to argue for or against the Final Solution, from the perspective of a Nazi official, was withdrawn and will not be assigned again.
High school students in an advanced class in Oswego County were given a project to pretend they were members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party in order to argue for or against the Holocaust’s Final Solution.
“This is an exercise on expanding your point of view by going outside your comfort zone and training your brain to find the evidence necessary to prove a point, even if it is existentially and philosophically against what you believe,” the instructions for the assignment said.
Two students who complained about the exercise were given an alternative task.
But the students, Archer Shurtliff and Jordan April, took their complaint further and called for the teacher to apologize and for the school district to permanently ban the assignment, the Syracuse.com website reported. Neither of the students, both 17, is Jewish.

Former Guatemala mayor jailed for expelling Jewish group

The former mayor of a town in western Guatemala has been sentenced to a year in prison for forcing out a community of ultra-Orthodox Jews in 2014, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Rodolfo Perez was found guilty of coercion over the incident in the predominantly indigenous town of San Juan La Laguna.
He was given the option of paying a $1,000 fine to escape jail time.
During his trial, Perez argued he had given the expulsion order to end “a clash of cultures” with the community of around 500 ultra-Orthodox Jews, many of whom had arrived in 2014 from Canada, where they had battled allegations of child abuse.
He argued that the community, hailing from various Latin American and European countries as well as the US and Israel, had disrespected local indigenous traditions, particularly concerning the dead, and conflicts had arisen with locals.
The Jewish group moved to the outskirts of the capital, Guatemala City, 75 kilometers (45 miles) away, in September 2014.

Israeli firm to provide drinking water — from the air — for India and Vietnam

An Israeli company whose technology made a splash at last week’s AIPAC conference has signed deals to produce drinking water — by extracting it from the air — in India and Vietnam, two countries that have long faced shortages.
Water Gen inked an agreement last week with India’s second-largest solar company to produce purified water for remote villages in the country. Earlier, the company arranged with the Hanoi government to set up water generators in the Vietnamese capital.
“The government of Vietnam greatly esteems the technological developments in Israel, and I hope that the Israeli technology that we supply to Vietnam will significantly help to improve water conditions in the country,” Water Gen President Mikhael Mirilashvili said after the signing in Hanoi, according to a statement.
The memoranda of understanding are worth $150 million in total, according to Water Gen, which was founded in 2009 and creates technology that extracts water from the air for use by civilians and soldiers who do not have access to clean sources.

Israel’s Dairy Industry: An Untold ‘Start-Up’ Story

Self-driving cars. Drip irrigation. Missile defense. Milk?
Amid all the buzz about Israel’s “start-up nation,” a lesser-known success story is the high-tech and hyper-efficient Israeli dairy industry.
Surprised? Don’t be. The combination of Israelis’ high demand for dairy products and the Jewish state’s well-documented ingenuity has truly turned Israel into a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
The Israeli love for dairy
Michal Kraus, the Executive Director of the Israeli Dairy Board, tells JNS.org that Israelis love dairy. Israeli supermarket shelves feature about 800 varieties of dairy products.
During the summer months, Israelis prefer milk, yogurt, cottage cheese or soft cheeses, because they are cooler and easier to digest. Hard cheeses tend to be eaten more during the winter months.
The Israeli Dairy Board’s estimates show that in 2016, 32 percent of Israelis consumed soft cheeses, 30 percent drank milk, 26 percent consumed hard cheeses and 12 percent ate other dairy products, such as desserts.

Arab Center Lists 3 Israeli Universities Among World’s Top 10 in Different Subjects

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), an initiative launched by Saudi Arabia and based in the United Arab Emirates, has listed three Israeli universities in its inaugural subject rankings.
The rankings showcase the top global universities in 227 different subjects, covering academic fields in science and social science. CWUR lists Haifa’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology as the world’s top school for aerospace engineering, and among the top 10 in the “computer science – theory and methods” (No. 4) and “computer science – information systems” (No. 8) categories.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem was ranked fourth in the subject of logic, and Tel Aviv University was listed among the top 10 schools for “physics – fluids and plasmas” (No. 6) and computer science – theory and methods (No. 7).

‘Historic’ plan unveiled to link Arab states to Israeli ports

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz unveiled an ambitious plan on Wednesday to give Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even Iraq access to the Mediterranean through Israel’s ports in Haifa and Ashdod, in a plan called “Tracks for Peace.”
Under the plan, the Haifa to Beit She’an train link would be extended eastward to the border crossing with Jordan and southward to the Jenin area where the Palestinians could connect to it. Rail lines would be laid in Jordan to Irbid, and from there it would link with existing and planned lines extending north-south through Jordan, into Saudi Arabia and further east to the Persian Gulf.
Katz, at a press conference in Jerusalem to unveil the plan, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked him to present this plan to US envoy Jason Greenblatt when he was in the region last month. Greenblatt received the plan “enthusiastically,” Katz said.
Separately, in response to a question posed by the media regarding Gideo Sa’ar’s recent announcement that he was returning to politics in the Likud, Katz said he himself plans to vie for the Likud leadership when Netanyahu steps down, “The Likud has had four leaders until now, I plan to be the fifth,” he said.

John Ford Coley Set to Rock Israel’s Golan Heights in April

Grammy-nominated rock artist John Ford Coley is scheduled to headline a special concert dubbed “The Texan ‘Eclectic’ Rock Show” in Israel’s scenic Golan Heights April 13, at the Kfar Haruv Peace Vista overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
Coley’s Golan Heights rock concert will feature songs from throughout his career, and performances by American songwriter Shakeh and harpist Susan Mashiyama. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to ILAN Israel, a nonprofit that assists special needs children and their families.
“I have always been in love with Israel, even as a young child,” Coley said in a statement. “It fascinates me, captivates me, and stirs my imagination and soul. When asked to do this show for ILAN, I got excited to do something so worthwhile for children.”
The concert will coincide with the release of Coley’s new double album, “Eclectic,” which includes a new instrumental track dedicated to Holocaust survivors called, “Quiet Victory.”

Netanyahu intervenes to save Temple Mount sifting project

A project to search for archaeological artifacts in soil removed from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the 1990s will continue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Wednesday, saying it had secured funding to keep it afloat.
On Monday, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, headed by archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, announced it was on the verge of closure because the Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, which had financed it for 12 years, was pulling its funding.
“The Ir David Foundation, headed by David Be’eri, will continue to fund the important project,” the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday.
In a statement, the PMO said Be’eri and the director general of the Israel Antiquities Authority would meet in the coming days with the people involved with the project.
In the 1990s, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf — the institution overseeing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — excavated a section of the Temple Mount to build a subterranean mosque in an area known as Solomon’s Stables.

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