May 30, 2020

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04/06 Links Pt2: Blood Libels, Conspiracy Theories and Coronaviruses, Part II; Yad Vashem to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with global name-reading initiative

From Ian:

Blood Libels, Conspiracy Theories and Coronaviruses, Part II
In “Blood Libels, Conspiracy Theories and Coronaviruses” CAMERA discussed the history of the blood libel and how anti-Semites from across the spectrum have latched on to the coronavirus pandemic as a hook to hang their latest blood libels. As the pandemic continues, the libels have increased, as well. In Part II, we take a closer look at how Palestinian and BDS activists, in particular, have used the pandemic to libel and incite against Israel.

Anti-Semitic blood libels and conspiracy theories often incorporate irrelevant but true facts in order to create preposterous and defamatory accusations against Jews, which are seized upon and spread among the community, providing justification for even more Jew hatred. Medieval blood libels, for example, accused the Jews of brutalizing and murdering Christians in order to use their blood for the matzos required for Passover, incorporating true facts: Yes, Jews celebrate Passover and yes, Passover rituals include the eating of matzah (unleavened bread/crackers). But the only ingredients required for matzah are flour and water, not blood. In fact, the consumption of any type of blood is prohibited in Judaism, as is murder. Yet among the ignorant and credulous, this absurd fabrication continues to take hold.

Recent Palestinian libels similarly distort elements of truth into absurd, fabricated libels.

Accusing Israel of Deliberately Infecting the Palestinians Population with Covid-19
It has been widely reported that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented cooperation and coordination between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has provided the Palestinian Authority with hundreds of testing kits and protective gear for healthcare workers, as well as workshops with Palestinian doctors and joint monitoring groups to discuss methods to contain the pandemic in the region. Even Nikolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, a group accused of “systemic anti-Israel bias”, has praised the excellent coordination and cooperation between the Israeli and Palestine authorities regarding the pandemic.

Yet despite this cooperation, anti-Israel incitement and libels continue. In fact, some of the same people who are coordinating with Israel about the pandemic are also using the coronavirus as a handy hook on which to pin their anti-Israel libels and incite the Palestinian populace against Israel.

Palestinian Mohammed Shtayyeh, for example, has acknowledged coordinating with Israel, establishing a joint medical committee to monitor and cooperate the response to the pandemic. But as Palestinian analyst Khaled Abu Toameh points out, Shtayyeh is hoping that the coronavirus crisis will boost his chance of becoming the next Palestinian Authority president and in order “to win the hearts and minds of his people, he needs to talk less about cooperation with Israel. The more he condemn Israel, the more he increases his chances of becoming the next Palestinian rais.”

No doubt that is why Shtayyeh put forth a new libel against Israel: On March 29th, the Palestinian prime minister proclaimed that IDF soldiers were deliberately trying to infect Palestinians with coronavirus. “This is racism and hatred of people who long for the death of the other,” he said. “We will record this in the list of crimes [against Israel].”

Combating Antisemitism | SWUConnect #9

Join Carly Gammill, director of StandWithUs’ Center for Combating Antisemitism, for a webinar discussing recent manifestations of antisemitism, the progression of hate, and how we can work together during this time to combat the world’s oldest hatred.

British PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as virus symptoms worsen

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved Monday to the intensive care unit of a London hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

Johnson’s office said Johnson is conscious and does not require ventilation at the moment.

Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late the night before, 10 days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputize for him.

There was no indication of how long Johnson might remain hospitalized. The prime minister’s spokesman said earlier that Johnson had spent a comfortable night and remained in charge of government, despite being admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital, when COVID-19 symptoms of a cough and fever persisted 10 days after he was diagnosed.

Johnson had sent out a tweet thanking the National Health Service for taking care of him and others in this difficult time.

“On the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests, as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” Johnson said in the tweet. “I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.”

Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, refused to say what kind of tests Johnson was undergoing. He insisted that “the PM remains in charge of the government.”

David Singer: “Restoring Jewish Sovereignty” is Not “West Bank Annexation”

Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have reached a critical point in their negotiations to form a Government of National Unity: whether to seize the opportunity presented by President Trump to restore Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria – the heartland of the ancient and biblical Jewish National Home – after an absence of 3000 years.

Netanyahu wants to do so in tandem with President Trump – immediately a Government of at least 61 members headed by him as Prime Minister is formed. Gantz is not prepared to do so unless the Arab States – notably Jordan – and the international community agree – virtually guaranteeing it will never happen.

The Jewish media do not seem to have grasped this unique opportunity given to the Jewish People to turn a 3000-year-old dream into a miraculous reality.

Using what can only be described as the language of the enemies of the Jewish people, the mainstream Jewish media in Israel and elsewhere have been headlining their reports of the ongoing struggle between Netanyahu and Gantz with very similar headlines:
– “Gantz weighing limited West Bank settlement annexation – report”
– “Two leaders forced to yell to each other with PM in precautionary isolation; main disagreement is still over annexing parts of West Bank, which Netanyahu wants as his ‘legacy’”
– “Gantz reportedly prepared to accept limited annexation of West Bank”
– “Report: Gantz agrees to limited West Bank annexation, inches closer to unity gov’t”
– “Dan Shapiro: Gantz and Netanyahu are ‘haggling’ over West Bank annexation”
– “West Bank annexation remains a sticking point in Israel unity government talks”

These Jewish media reports are doing the Jewish People a great disservice.

The correct name of the “West Bank” is “Judea and Samaria” – the geographic place name used for 3000 years until 1950 – when its name was changed by Transjordan following its illegal occupation of Judea and Samaria and the ethnic cleansing of all Jews living there in the 1948 War of Independence.

So why do they keep getting elected?

If the Arab Israeli public wants to integrate, why does it continue voting for MKs who reject the very legitimacy of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews? Why do they elect MKs that sympathize with its enemies and their war on the Jewish state?

This posture has become a very important part of Arab political culture. This approach to Israel has failed the Arabs in this region time and again and explains a big part of their current state of affairs. It also explains why the Palestinian national movement has been in such dire straits. At the root of this failure lies the twisted notion of tribal honor.

Honor is a crucial part of private, public and national life. Without a commitment to this value, it would hard to explain a great deal of why some act, as individuals or as groups. In many cases, this value explains how people survive in the face of oppression, neglect, war, and deprivation.

Honor, and the notion that the Jewish people can take charge of its own destiny, is what lies at the heart of the Zionist value system. It explains, to a large extent, why Zionism has been so successful.

But every positive value can also be a liability if it is distorted and becomes a fake facade. The Arab national movements of the past 100 years have failed largely because they took this value in its distorted fashion, and the Palestinians took this distortion to new heights.

Keir Starmer is UK Labour’s new leader. Will he set a new course on Israel and Antisemitism?

Whilst all this is likely to be cause for comfort for those of us who care about antisemitism, those of us who support Israel shouldn’t expect dramatic shifts in party policy, and a return to the heyday of the Labour leadership’s warmth towards Israel shown by Blair and Brown.

It isn’t realistic to expect the reversal of the policy changes Corbyn brought in of settlement boycotts and an arms embargo, because Starmer will have other policy priorities; won’t be looking for confrontation on foreign policy at party conferences as he will want to emphasise unity and carry the left-wing of his own support base with him; and won’t have the votes to win any fights on these issues given the unions vote in line with their own policies set at their own conferences, so even a union that is part of the emerging mainstream majority in the party, such as Unison, has a boycott policy on Israel.

But we can expect a return to some kind of normality in terms of Labour’s relationship with Israel, and with the fragmented remains of Labour’s sister parties there. We might expect Starmer to make a fairly early trip to Israel and the West Bank, once Coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, to meet Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, to take up the invitation to visit Yad Vashem from Isaac Herzog that Corbyn ignored, and like Ed Miliband in 2014, to visit family members. I don’t think we will see any of the inflammatory rhetoric of the Corbyn era, or tolerance of the waving of hundreds of Palestinian flags at party conference – the new leadership will probably want to try to avoid ever debating the topic at conference again.

It won’t be perfect. Not everything Starmer says about Israel will please those of us who support the country, as was the case when Ed Miliband was Labour Leader, but compared to the overt anti-Zionism and antisemitism of the last five years, it’s going to be infinitely preferable.

Sir Keir and a question of cowardice: He seldom talked of his family’s Jewish links while anti-semitism raged in Labour and – as he stands poised to become party leader RICHARD PENDLEBURY investigates whether Starmer put politics before principles

Cancer-ravaged and nearly blind, Rabbi Dr David Goldberg knew he was close to death. A major figure on the Left-leaning, intellectual wing of progressive Judaism, his life had been long and distinguished.

On the walls of his North London home there were photographs of the Rabbi with Prince Charles and Prince Harry, Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama. Perhaps the most surprising picture on display showed him being received by Yasser Arafat, the then leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

While this contact made him enemies among some of his co-religionists, Rabbi Goldberg believed firmly in peace, reconciliation and Palestinian rights. He was awarded an OBE for encouraging interfaith dialogue.

But as the light faded his thoughts turned — once again — towards what he saw as an existential threat facing British Jewry; a threat from an organisation he had previously trusted. For which he had been a loyal voter: the Labour Party.

Now, during one of his final walks — more of a painful shuffle — on Hampstead Heath, he let rip. His companion on that day early last year was his oldest personal friend and confidant, himself a Jew.

As so often, Rabbi Goldberg complained to him bitterly about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the dominant hard-Left which had fostered, played down or simply ignored vicious anti-semitism within its ranks.

But there was another more moderate party figure against whom, the Rabbi said, he felt not only anger but surprise and hurt. ‘I am very disappointed with Keir Starmer,’ he said.

‘Particularly as his wife and children are members of my synagogue. It’s their community which is under threat and yet he’s done so little. It’s pathetic.’ ‘I was astonished,’ his friend recalled this week.

Friends of Palestine chair is UK Labour’s new shadow foreign secretary

Lisa Nandy, the UK Labour Party’s new shadow foreign secretary, has been pro-Palestinian and outspoken against antisemitism in her party.

She has supported an arms embargo against Israel and has proposed a plan to combat antisemitism in her party.

Nandy is the former chair of Labour’s parliamentary group Friends of Palestine and the Middle East and was among the contenders in Labour’s leadership race, which ended Saturday with the election of Keir Starmer.

Upon accepting his new position, Starmer promised to root out antisemitism from his party, which it was accused of under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Nandy stood out during the leadership campaign for her strong statements against antisemitism and plan to eliminate it from the party.

Closing: Reem’s Oakland Bakery, best known for wall mural honoring terrorist murderer Rasmea Odeh

You may recall our coverage of the controversy surrounding Reem’s Bakery in Oakland, California.

Reem’s was best known for the huge wall mural of Rasmea Odeh, the convicted terrorist murderer and immigration fraudster. For a detailed history of Odeh’s crimes, including the murder of Israeli students Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner in a supermarket bombing, see my post The Lies of Rasmea Odeh and Her Supporters Exposed.

Owner Reem Assil not only was unapologetic about the mural, she celebrated it and tried to bully protesters with a lawsuit.

Our prior posts covered the protests against the wall mural, and unsuccessful attempt by Reem’s to silence protesters:
– Anti-Israel activists try to shut down protests over California bakery honoring Palestinian terrorist
– Reem’s Oakland bakery seeks Ct order halting protests over terrorist mural
– Vigils continue for Rasmea Odeh’s victims outside Reem’s Oakland Bakery despite legal threats
– Reem’s Oakland Bakery Drops Lawsuit to Silence Protests Against Mural of Terrorist Rasmea Odeh
– Food & Wine mag honors Reem’s Oakland restaurant, ignores wall-sized mural of terrorist
– Food & Wine Mag stands by award to Reem’s Oakland despite terrorist wall mural

Reem’s is closing its doors, likely a victim of the Wuhan coronavirus economic slowdown.

Daily Mail’s defence of an extremist: He just holds “strong views”

Here’s the headline of an article published in the Mail on Sunday (sister site of the Daily Mail) on March 29, written by their chief political correspondent Ian Gallaghar.

The Invictus Games, launched by the Duke of Sussex – himself a veteran – in 2014, allows wounded or sick military personnel and veterans to compete in sporting events. The inclusion of wounded Israeli veterans in the next biennial (in 2022), the Mail on Sunday article claims, echoing the headline, has caused a “backlash”.

However, as blogger Elder of Ziyon noted in a post that day, when you read the article, you learn that the only “backlash” Prince Harry received was by one Arab journalist with a history of supporting violence and antisemitism: Palestinian-born Abdel Bari Atwan

For instance, Atwan enthusiastically supported a brutal 2008 Palestinian terror attack which killed eight Jewish religious students in a Jerusalem Yeshiva, saying it was “justified” and that celebrations in Gaza following the attack symbolized “the courage of the Palestinian nation.”

As Daily Mail’s own associate global editor Jake Wallis Simons reported, in a post about an event Jeremy Corbyn attended that included Atwan and other extremists, Atwan once said he’d ‘dance with delight’ in Trafalgar Square if Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon.

In 2010, Atwan engaged in antisemitism at an event at LSE, when he accused British Jews of “bombing Gaza”.

We complained to Mail on Sunday editors, arguing that the headline and article was misleading because the “backlash” claim was based entirely on the predictable comments of one anti-Israel extremist, and that readers weren’t informed about Atwan’s record.

Their response, by managing editor John Wellington, is outrageous.

BBC ME editor makes Gaza Strip ventilators disappear

So with the BBC having reported for weeks that there are between 50 and 87 ventilators in the Gaza Strip (the head of the regional WHO mission says 87 – i.e. 43.5/million people), where did Bowen get the considerably lower number of 40? That is unclear because he refrained from providing a source for the claim he promoted on prime-time BBC radio.

In mid-March it was reported that NHS Scotland had about 190 “Level 3 Intensive Care Unit beds with ventilatory support in addition to other organ support” for that country’s population of 5.5 million – i.e. 34.5/million. While efforts have been made to improve that ratio, ITV reports that in the Hebrides, where three cases of Coronavirus have been diagnosed:

“There are no Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with ventilators on the islands, it’s a long, long way to the nearest hospital, and any medical evacuation to the mainland could be weather-dependent.”

Nevertheless, Jeremy Bowen thought it appropriate to promote his unsupported chosen political narrative while telling the BBC’s domestic audiences to count their blessings.

BBC R4 sidelines editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality

The fact that the producer of this series, Steven Rajam, chose to present it “without mediation” means that no effort was made to provide objective background information (such as the rocket attacks and cross-border tunnels which prompted the 2014 conflict) relating to statements heard by listeners such as the following:

“I had this art professor who was coming to my show and he told me Malak it’s good but it’s sad. You are only 15, why so sad? I say why would I be happy? I survived three wars and I’m not yet 16 years old.”

“The day I started painting was actually during the 51 days attack on Gaza Strip in 2014.”

“Malak is of her time and of her generation, brought up in confinement…”

“…the more I travel the more it actually makes me feel so sad that I can’t see anything to indicate my country on the screen that shows people’s destination. What does that mean if I can’t go home?”

The result is BBC Radio 4 listeners were provided with a picture made up of subjective and politicised statements which they were unable to place in their correct context because accuracy and impartiality were sidelined in this programme in favour of “personal testimony…without mediation”.

Telegraph corrects caption claiming W. Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

However, as even reports at the Telegraph over the years have consistently made clear, Judaism’s holiest site is the Temple Mount, not the Western Wall. The Western Wall is merely the most sacred place in the city where Jews are permitted to pray.

We contacted editors, and noted that, following communication with our CAMERA colleague, AFP revised their orginal captions, which now no longer make the claim that the Western Wall is the holiest Jewish site.

The Telegraph upheld our complaint, and revised their caption accordingly.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – March 2020

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) throughout March 2020 shows that throughout the month a total of 89 incidents took place: 50 in Judea & Samaria, 37 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and two in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 74 attacks with petrol bombs, five attacks using pipe bombs, three arson attacks, one shooting attack, one stabbing and three incidents of rock throwing and two grenade attacks. In the Gaza Strip sector two rocket attacks were recorded.

Five people – three civilians and two members of the security forces – were injured during March. Four of them were injured in attacks with petrol bombs in Jerusalem and one was injured in a rock throwing attack in the Binyamin district.

The BBC News website did not report any of the incidents which took place throughout the month, including the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on March 27th.

Throughout the first quarter of 2020 visitors to the BBC News website saw coverage of 8.5% of the terror attacks against Israelis which actually took place.

New York State approves hate crimes act

New York state legislators have approved legislation to combat antisemitism, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo naming the bill after Rabbi Josef Neumann, 72, who was stabbed at a synagogue in Monsey during Hanukkah and died of his wounds last Sunday.

The legislation classifies any assault of a group based on its race or religion as a terror attack.

The bill also allocated $25 million to vulnerable religious nonprofit organizations and $2 million to support the state police’s hate crime task force.

According to the Jewish Insider, it also creates a statewide education curriculum on diversity and tolerance for students.

The bill was originally called “No Hate in Our State Act,” but Cuomo said that it would be renamed the “Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act,” in order to reclassify certain hate crimes so that their punishment will now be a life sentence and without the possibility of parole.

“We owe it to Mr. Neumann, his family, and the entire family of New York to get it done now,” Cuomo said.

Grafton Thomas, 37, broke into the home and synagogue of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey and stabbed five people. The other four have been discharged from the hospital.

Federal prosecutors filed hate crime charges against Thomas on Monday. FBI agent Julie Brown reported that Thomas kept journals containing antisemitic statements and Nazi references. Additionally, she said that his cell phone was used to search “Why did Hitler hate the Jews?” on four separate occasions.

Yad Vashem to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with global name-reading initiative

Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial based in Jerusalem, is creating a global name-reading initiative to mark this year’s Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Since gathering for the annual national Yom Hashoah ceremony and smaller community ceremonies in Israel are impossible this year due to coronavirus related restrictions, Yad Vashem is working to ensure that the names of Holocaust members are read out and remembered, the institution announced Monday.

The campaign, #RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames, calls on the international public to record themselves reciting the names of Holocaust victims and share the video on social media using the campaign’s hashtags. Videos should be no longer than 15 seconds.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed this year on April 21.

Through its website, Yad Vashem is providing access to a list of names of adult and child victims of the Holocaust; a link to names of Holocaust victims by country, and a link to the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names, enables users to search for and recite family names.

Yad Vashem will collect videos from all over the world and create an online Holocaust Remembrance Day Global Name Reading Ceremony.

“Join us and mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year from your homes. Help us to restore the memory of those killed during the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said in a statement.

New teen drama looks at life in pre-1948 Israel

A new television drama for the teen and tween demographic debuted in Israel on Sunday, but this was not just another new release. Rising is a periodic adventure drama that, for the first time, take a look at teen life in pre-1948 Israel.

Set in 1946, two years before the inception of the State of Israel, Rising follows brother and sister Emile and Elinore, fresh off the boat illegal immigrants in Israel.

They join a group of exceptional teens training in a secret base and recruitment center to act as a strike forces against the troops of the British Mandate. The show follows their journey through the exhausting training, the imminent dangers and the surprising secret that comes to light – it is only they who can salvage the budding state.

A Nutz production, Rising unfolds against the backdrop of real event and in the presence of some of the era’s iconic characters, such as Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Shoshana Damari, and Yitzhak Shamir.

The show was filmed largely in the Beit Jimal monastery, a Catholic monastery run by Salesian priests and brothers near Beit Shemesh, which dates back to the Roman and Byzantine era.

Jewish communities Zoom in for a once-in-a-generation Seder

Celebrating Passover this year has posed a challenge to many in the United States, but the festivities must go on nonetheless.

I New York, rabbinical authorities have allowed the selling of chametz (leavened bread) online rather than in person, to make sure that they uphold the age-old dietary rules of the holiday even as they observe the social distancing guidelines aimed at reducing community spread of COVID-19, the disease linked to the novel coronavirus.

The various Jewish federations across North America have gone out of their way to support various communities in this difficult time: in Tampa Bay, online lessons for baking matzah are offered; in Boston, a new version of Ma Nishtana includes actual questions posed by Jewish children on the coronavirus.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy body of the Jewish Federations of Canada, said that it has “consulted with all suppliers, importers, distributors and retailers of meat, poultry, dairy and dry goods foods and all have expressed full confidence in the continuing ability to ship and stock everything normally accessible for everyone’s Passover needs in the same quantities as previous years.”

StandWithUs Virtual Seder

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