May 29, 2020

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05/04 Links Pt2: US asks UN Security Council to reject ‘vile’ Abbas Holocaust remarks; J Street Loses Direction on Gaza; BDS is the symptom, not the disease

From Ian:

US asks UN Security Council to reject ‘vile’ Abbas Holocaust remarks
The United States on Friday asked the UN Security Council to reject the “unacceptable” and “deeply disturbing” remarks by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas about the Holocaust that included “vile anti-Semitic slurs.”

Abbas apologized over the remarks delivered in an address to the Palestinian National Council, but a US-drafted statement called on the president to “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.”

The proposed statement would express the council’s “serious concern” about Abbas’ remarks, which “included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East.”

The draft seen by AFP urges “all parties to avoid provocations that make the resumption of negotiations more difficult.”

J Street Loses Direction on Gaza

Here’s why. For years, the debate over the future of Gaza was a theoretical one. The Israeli left — cheered on by the American Jewish left — claimed that if Israel withdrew, then the Palestinians of Gaza would live in peace in with the Jewish state.

The Israeli right argued that the Gazans would never be satisfied with Gaza. And the right predicted that if Israel surrendered Gaza and the Palestinians continued to attack Israel, the international community would find ways to excuse and justify the attacks.

The debate was all theoretical, of course. There was no way to know, in advance, what would happen if Israel withdrew from Gaza, unless it withdrew. So, it did. And now Israel’s citizens see what has happened.

Thanks to the miracle of video cameras, Israeli voters watch the Gaza mobs every day, in real time. The Washington Post may call the firebomb-throwers “largely peaceful,” J Street may accuse Israeli soldiers of being trigger-happy, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may claim that Israel is mistreating innocent Palestinian demonstrators. But Israel’s citizens — Israel’s voters — can see the truth with their own eyes.

They see Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails. They see them sending flaming kites to set Israel’s fields on fire. They see the mobs surging to the fence. And they see how — just as the pessimists predicted — the left is excusing and rationalizing and justifying the firebombers. They see, more clearly now than ever before, that no matter how extreme and violent the Palestinians act, the left will defend them. No matter how many concessions that Israel makes, the Palestinians will demand more, and their American cheerleaders will echo their demands.

So, go ahead, J Streeters — cheer the chorus of anti-Israel criticism. Enjoy the Israel-bashing headlines while you can. The last laugh will be on you. Sometime in the next two years, Israel’s voters will go the polls. And their votes will be based on the reality unfolding before their eyes — the reality of unrelenting Palestinian hatred and extremism that you have tried, but failed, to hide from them.

Hen Mazzig: The Nakbas

This May and every May Palestinians around the world mourn what is now 70 years of “Zionist imperialism” and the “nakba” (catastrophe) they have suffered.

You will hear the fictitious story of the “white” Jewish Europeans who came and colonized the land of the indigenous “brown” Palestinians, all within the context of European colonialism and white supremacy.

Indeed, much noise is made around the world about the “sexy” Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians (the Arab community at the time) and their advocates are extremely vocal. But lost in the debate over what happened or didn’t happen to the Palestinians in their catastrophe are the stories of the tens of millions – yes, tens of millions – of victims of genocide, expulsion and forced assimilation (cultural genocide) from Arab and Turkish imperialism.

My family are Berber Jews on my father’s side and Iraqi Jews on my mother’s. Both were expelled from their lands, and because of this persecution I came to learn about these largely untold stories. Over time I have learned that many other groups were persecuted, en masse, without any restitution or “right of return,” and the global community is (and was) silent. Why the double standards? In the last 150 years, “nakbas” occurred to those indigenous to North Africa, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The approximate number of victims from genocides one rarely hears about include: The Assyrians (300,000 from 1914-1920); Armenians (1.5 million from 1914-1923); Kurds (50,000-180,000 from 1986-1989); Greeks (450,000-750,000 from 1913-1920); Yazidis (10,000 in 2014 alone, other numbers unknown); and the Sudanese in Darfur (300,000 from 2003-2009).

The victims of expulsion and persecution leading to emigration include: Lebanese Maronites (eight million-14 million Lebanese in the diaspora, and four million in Lebanon); Assyrian Christians (15 million in the diaspora and in Syria); and the Armenians under the Turkish Empire (11 million in the diaspora today).


The U.S. Holocaust Museum’s new exhibit on America and the Shoah tries to show that FDR did the best he could to help Jews during the Holocaust. Part 3 of a special 3 part series.

What motivated senior State Department officials to take such positions regarding Jewish immigration? Anti-Semitism certainly played a role. Wilbur Carr, an assistant secretary of state in the Roosevelt administration, wrote in a 1934 diary entry that he preferred a particular summer resort because it was so “different from the Jewish atmosphere of the Claridge.” Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle confided to his diary in 1940, “The Jewish group, wherever you find it, is not only pro-English, but will sacrifice American interests to English interests…It is horrible to see one phase of the Nazi propaganda justifying itself a little.” Undersecretary of State William Phillips, in his diary (on May 18, 1923), once described a Soviet official as “a perfect little rat of a Jew.” It is no exaggeration to say that anti-Semitism was rife in Roosevelt’s State Department.

Such sentiments also were common among the consular officials in Europe who directly decided the fate of visa applicants. Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker, in her book In Search of Refuge, the definitive study of US consular officials in Nazi Germany, found that the consuls “often commented on the danger of permitting a flood of Jewish immigration into the US,” warned of “its potentially dangerous impact on American society,” and suspected “a Jewish conspiracy in the United States to pressure the administration into facilitating immigration.”

In a similar spirit, William Peck, at the US consulate in Marseilles, wrote to a colleague that he “deplore[d] as much as anyone the influx into the United States of certain refugee elements.” He was open to immigration by “aged people,” because they “will not reproduce and can do our country no harm.” On the other hand, “the young ones may be suffering, but the history of their race shows that suffering does not kill many of them.”

However, anti-Semitism within the State Department alone does not suffice to explain US immigration policy, because it was President Roosevelt, not Breckinridge Long, who was the final authority. Ignorance was not the issue: President Roosevelt’s correspondence makes clear that he was aware the quotas were underfilled. Many references in the correspondence and diaries of Breckinridge Long allude to his regular briefings of the president on immigration policy, to which FDR responded positively.

Now majority Muslim, kids at UK’s King David Jewish school still pray in Hebrew

Like hundreds of Jewish institutions in the Diaspora, the King David School celebrated Israel’s 70th Independence Day with blue-and-white flags and group singing of the “Hatikvah” national anthem.

But the King David is not like most other Jewish schools.

Most of the dozens of students in the 53-year-old elementary school in a suburb of this gritty English city come from Muslim families — the result of a decades-long depletion in the size of most Jewish communities outside London and growing immigration from South Asia and the Middle East. According to parents and community observers, 80 percent of the students are Muslim. The school declined to comment.

On Israel’s Independence Day, which this year fell on April 19, Esther Cohen, King David’s head of religious education, kicked off the ceremony in the school gym with the Modeh Ani morning prayer in Hebrew followed by the Shema Yisrael prayer.

The student body, hand-drawn Israeli flags at their feet, dutifully recited the words. Then they closed their eyes for what Cohen called “tefillah to Hashem,” Hebrew for “prayer to God.” Most of the boys were wearing some sort of head cover — some kippahs and others the larger Muslim skullcap called taqiyah. Many girls also wore hijabs, the Muslim head cover for females.

Amid anti-Semitism row, British Labour loses in heavily Jewish London borough

Britain’s’ Labour Party suffered heavy losses in council elections in Jewish areas following widespread criticism of leader Jeremy Corbyn and his perceived failure to deal with anti-Semitism within his party.

Labour, whose leadership many British Jews believe is ignoring or encouraging the proliferation of anti-Semitism in its ranks, failed in Thursday’s elections to win from the Conservatives control of the council of Barnet, which is a northern borough of London where 14 percent of the population is Jewish. The council represents areas such as Golders Green, Hendon and Edgware.

Labour has never controlled Barnet Council since the borough’s creation as a municipal unit in 1964, but in West Hendon, which is an area of Barnet, and which the party had held for nearly 40 years, all three Labour candidates lost to Conservative rivals.

Barry Rawlings, Labour leader in Barnet, admitted the losses were because his party had not dealt with anti-Semitism properly. “It wasn’t because they disagreed with our manifesto, but because they felt the Labour Party has failed to deal with anti-Semitism at a national level. They are right,” he told the Daily Mail.


Another article by a pro-Corbyn journalist on the website Open Democracy claimed that our anti-Semitism stories were “baseless”, accused Guido of being “systematically dishonest about Labour Party antisemitism” and of “misrepresenting” those we reported on (even though Labour’s compliance unit eventually agreed with us and kicked them out).

Corbyn himself said anti-Semitism was a smear. He was filmed by Vice on the phone to Seumas Milne dismissing the anti-Semitism scandal as “utterly disgusting subliminal nastiness”.

Two years on, the Corbynista response to Guido’s anti-Semitism revelations has led to Labour being resoundingly rejected by Jewish communities at the ballot box.

In Barnet, which has a Jewish population of 15%, the highest of any council in the country, Labour were humiliated and the Tories secured the result of the night. Turnout in Golders Green was an incredible 70%.

In the Kensal ward in Salford, which has a Jewish population of 40%, the highest of any ward in the country, the Tories took it from Labour.

In the Pilkington Park ward in Bury, which has a Jewish population of around 25%, there was a huge swing from Labour to the Tories, who won by 700 votes.

During two years of campaigning journalism on this issue we broke story after story showing Labour had a serious anti-Semitism problem. Corbyn and his allies could have recognised the problem and dealt with it. Instead they accused us of smears. The Jewish Chronicle reports that it isn’t just Jews who were horrified by our anti-Semitism revelations, and that non-Jews joined in what they are calling a “mass protest vote” against Corbyn. The story cut through to the public – it is no coincidence that, following two years of Guido’s stories, anti-Semitism has become the Tories’ main attack line against Labour. Jewish Labour members and moderate Labour readers who are not normally sympathetic to Guido’s editorial line have privately thanked us for acting as a pro bono Labour Party compliance unit. The Corbynistas could have listened, instead their anti-Semitism scandal has come home to roost…


Ken mentioned Hitler just the six times in his interview on Sky this morning, repeatedly telling Adam Boulton that Zionists “collaborated” with Hitler. He insisted the criticism of him is a “smear” and says he thinks Labour’s new general secretary Jennie Fornby will let him back into the party: “I want to do everything I can to get Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street”. As Adam put it, “Don’t you think it would just be better not to bring Hitler into it?”


Another day, another anti-Semitic Labour candidate. Irfan Javed is Labour’s council candidate in Woodfield in Stevenage on Thursday. He has ranted on Facebook about “Jew propaganda” and commented: “I am just suspicious. This is what Jewish dominated western media usually does.” He has also compared Zionism to Nazism:

Suspended in 3, 2, 1…

UPDATE: He has been suspended.

Campus Unmasked: Muslim Student Hopes Hamas Tortures Israeli Soldier ‘Slowly’

Houston, Texas student Hanadi Abdan looks sweet until you get to tweets like “God bless Hamas” and “Inshallah they torture [an Israeli soldier] slowly & post it on YouTube so we can watch,” found by Canary Mission.

Hanadi seems to hate not just people of a certain nation, but also people of a certain religion: She first shows that she doesn’t have too strong of a grasp on history or international affairs when she says “The Holocaust was a dark time for the Jews, I admit. Very inhuman, but what the Jews are now doing to Palestinians is even worse.”

She also says “May Allah curse the Jews,” “lol let me blow up this bint [Jew] [please],” “everyone report this account. He’s a [Jew].” You know, it’s odd how often these people use the term “yahoodi” instead of “Jew.” It might be an attempt to avoid some kind of Twitter hate speech algorithm, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter allows hatred of Jewish people, as long as you’re from the right side of the spectrum…that is, the left side.

And as with most lefties, Hanadi’s contempt extends to other deplorable groups, like whites: She says “I better not be seeing u racist ass white ppl smoking hookah, listening to rap music or eating any food besides plain bread & canned peas.” Ah of course not because that would be cultural appropriation. When another user posted screenshots of a girl being an ungrateful brat after receiving expensive Christmas gifts, Hanadi said “she’s white, what did y’all expect?” Can you imagine that being said about ANY other racial group?

Muslim Student Hopes Hamas Tortures Israeli Soldier ‘Slowly’

SSI: BDS is the symptom, not the disease

In recent weeks, the Jewish- American media is filled with dramatic reports concerning the success of the BDS movement and other anti- Israeli movements in passing BDS resolutions in the top universities in the United States, among them Barnard College of Columbia University, and George Washington University. These reports tell us how these resolutions would change the climate, and how the fact that these resolutions passed symbolize a really harmful trend for the state of Israel and its supporters.

The reporters and the experts interviewed in the articles discuss in length the effect of BDS on the Israeli economy, culture, academia, and much more. Even Natalie Portman, they say, once a proud Israeli, is now playing right in to the hands of BDS advocates. We must take BDS seriously they say, we must lobby and demonstrate until it is no longer acceptable to boycott Israel.

After all, we invented the cherry tomatoes, drip irrigation, and Waze, they shouldn’t boycott us.

We do need to take it seriously, but I am not sure that “it” means BDS. BDS is not the disease, it’s the symptom. It is not the trunk of the tree, it is one of its branches.

Branches come and go. They can be trimmed or detach in the wind, they can be torn by a person walking by or break if there are too many fruits on it. But the trunk, the trunk will always stay there.

The trunk to which the BDS branch is attached to is the trunk of hate. But not just hate.

This trunk is the trunk of the oldest type of anti- Semitism, of Jew and Israel hatred.

Germany’s antisemitism Czar wants banks to boot antisemitic BDS groups

The newly appointed federal government commissioner for combating Antisemitism in Germany, Felix Klein, condemned the Bank for Social Economy on Thursday for providing bank accounts to antisemitic BDS groups and expressed support for the city of Frankfurt’s ban of business with financial institutions that support, directly or indirectly, the campaign to boycott the Jewish state.

“I condemn this bank relationship,” said Klein in response to a Jerusalem Post press query about the Cologne-based Bank for Social Economy providing accounts to at least four organizations that enable–or explicitly advocate— the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel.

Klein adds the voice of Germany’s federal government to leading Jewish human rights groups in the US, Israel and Germany–including public security minister Gilad Erdan– who have called on the bank’s executive board to pull the plug on its BDS accounts. “My assessment is the BDS-movement incites Antisemitism in its methods and goals. The call of BDS to boycott Israeli businesses as well as the “Don’t buy! stickers on products from the Jewish state are to be condemned without qualifications.”

In the past years, the cities Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin decided to deny financial support and municipal rooms, in the future, to the BDS campaign that is hostile to Israel. The city of Frankfurt works since the beginning of the year only with banks that do not maintain business relations with BDS. In my judgment, both [anti-BDS measures] are an important signal that Antisemitism as well as the international isolation and defamation of Israel as alleged ‘apartheid state’ will not be tolerated.”

How Ewa Kurek, the Favorite Historian of the Polish Far Right, Promotes Her Distorted Account of the Holocaust

On April 10, Poland’s consulate in New York announced the cancellation of the Polish-Jewish Dialogue’s annual awards dinner, where the historian Ewa Kurek was scheduled to receive an honor named after Jan Karski, an army officer who risked his life to tell the world about the horrors of Auschwitz and who later became one of Poland’s leading diplomats and elder statesmen. Right-wing non-Jewish participants in the group, which has around 60 members, had nominated Kurek for the award. The Dialogue’s Jews were led to believe that Kurek was a mainstream historian lauded for her extensive use of Jewish sources, and were apparently unfamiliar with her scholarly work and unaware of her actual beliefs.

Kurek has argued that the Jews lie about Polish conduct during WWII in order to smear Poland and hide their own people’s duplicity. She’s alleged that Jews forged a separate peace with the Nazis during the occupation of Poland and had happily confined themselves to ghettos for generations before the Germans showed up. She’s accused Poland’s urbanized and assimilated Jews of being Nazi collaborators during the Holocaust, and drawn pointed and creepily essentialist contrasts between the Jewish and Polish national characters. The award for Kurek was a briefly successful power play among hardline nationalist diasporans in the Dialogue. But Kurek turned out to be too much of an extremist for the Consulate, which was hosting the Karski dinner on its premises but nixed the event once complaints about the recognition for her poured in. Kurek’s award was withdrawn the day after the cancellation was announced, but not before the Polish-Jewish Dialogue had a plaque made for her.

That’s not where Ewa Kurek’s adventures in America ended. In Boston, on April 11, at an event at the Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish sponsored by the eastern Massachusetts chapter of the Polish American Congress and the Kluby Gazety Polskiej of Boston, Kurek spun noxious arguments about alleged Jewish complicity in the Holocaust. On April 14, she gave a speech at a conference to commemorate the Smolensk plane crash—the 2010 disaster that killed Poland’s president and other dignitaries—which was held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a center of right-wing Polish diaspora activity in the United States. The event had a number of other far-right participants and sponsors, and also drew Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who stopped by for approximately 15 minutes according to his Capitol Hill office.

Michael Lumish: A Quick Note on “Intersectionality”

The concept is not difficult to understand. Intersectionality is a currently popular western-left political theory that dockets people onto a hierarchy of victimhood according to ethnicity and/or gender identification.

It is the most popular form of identity politics, today.

It postulates a theory of Good People versus Bad People, which is to say, oppressed versus oppressors.

The Good People, the oppressed, are “people of color” (whatever that means, exactly), the non-white poor, and the gender-disassociated.

The Bad People are “white people,” particularly of the masculine variety, “Zionists” and the rich.

That, in a nutshell, is progressive-left ethnic politics in the West today.

But what nobody discusses is the fact that this whole set-up flies directly in the face of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admonition to judge people according to the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories roil DC city government

A spiraling controversy over anti-Semitic comments and conspiracy theories has roiled the Washington city government, seemingly getting worse with every public attempt to ease the tensions.

The issue nearly derailed a city council meeting Tuesday morning and resulted in the resignation of a city official who organized a disastrous “unity rally” that featured a speaker who called all Jews “termites.”

At the heart of the debacle is Trayon White, a council member who ignited a firestorm on March 16 by posting a short video on his Facebook page claiming that an unexpected snowfall was because of “the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters.”

Fellow council members and Jewish community leaders accused White of spreading an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish control of world events. The Rothschilds, a prominent Jewish family whose banking dynasty dates back to the 18th century, are a frequent target of global conspiracy theories.

White, 33, who like most city officials is a Democrat, said he was unaware the Rothschild theory could be construed as anti-Semitic. The first-term African-American council member reached out to try to mend fences, but several of the gestures seem to have made things worse.

PreOccupiedTerritory: As An Apartheid Wall, I Thought I’d Be Part Of Actual Apartheid By Israel’s security barrier (satire)

It gets a little frustrating when you’re assigned a certain role, given a certain job description, and then don’t get a chance to perform that job. I’m sure you can understand how I feel after years of carrying the job title “Apartheid Wall” but coming nowhere close to enforcing bona fide racial segregation and disenfranchisement.

According to so many important voices out there, Israel is using me to isolate, oppress, and deny basic rights to millions of Palestinians, but let me tell you, I have precious little to do with all that. For one thing, Palestinians face more oppression and rights violations from their own leadership than from anything Israel ever did to them. For another, once the self-rule agreement between the parties went into effect in 1993, it’s not Israel’s job anymore to govern those areas. That’s what “self-rule” is supposed to mean. If you’re going to use terms, use them right – and if you’re going to call me an Apartheid Wall, then God damn it, show me some Apartheid.

What’s more, race apparently has nothing to do with it. You’ve got millions of Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship on the side of me that’s supposed to be “clean” of Palestinians, but they’re ethnically and racially identical to the Palestinians on my other side. If this is Apartheid, I’m doing a piss-poor job of it. I’m not even being given the opportunity to show I can do it properly, and that’s the most frustrating thing, because I know if given the chance, I could excel at it.

BBC quotes Amnesty International accusation that Israel is “trying to ‘sportwash’ its reputation”.

Today is the start of the 101st Giro d’Italia cycling race with the first stage this year in Israel. It’s one of the biggest sporting events in Israel’s history. BBC sportwriter Tom Fordyce writes that the Giro “sells itself as the world’s toughest race in the world’s most beautiful place”. The BBC will be covering the race in detail but towards the end of his article yesterday Fordyce takes a nasty gratuitous swipe at the Jewish state by quoting the viciously anti-Israel Amnesty International which trolls Israel on a daily basis on social media:

Fordyce viciously writes:
“Others see little more than a concerted effort to present an image of Israel to the world at odds with the reality. Amnesty International has accused Israel of trying to “sportwash” its reputation, as protests continue in the Gaza Strip that have so far led to the death of 35 Palestinian protestors.”

This is Amnesty that has staff who compare Israel to ISIS and who make jokes about MPs who just happen to be Jewish. And an Amnesty that invites lecturers to show a presumably fake photo of an Israeli soldier carving a Star of David onto the arm of a Palestinian child using a broken piece of glass.

It is quite incredible the amount of time and money Amnesty spends on demonising Israel and it’s an utter disgrace that the BBC quotes Amnesty as if Amnesty are an impartial observer. Amnesty are no more impartial than the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Israeli diplomat in US booted from Uber for speaking Hebrew

An Israeli diplomat in Chicago said he was thrown out of an Uber on Thursday night when the driver heard him speaking Hebrew.

Itay Milner, Israel’s deputy consul general in Chicago, posted on Facebook that it was one of the worst experiences of his life.

“I was just thrown out of an Uber in the middle of the highway only because I answered my phone in my mother tongue,” he posted.

He wrote that the driver also swore at him as he forced him out.

“10 minutes into my ride and with no prior interaction between the driver and myself, it took only two words in Hebrew to get my driver [to] start yelling at me ‘get the $#@* out of my car,’” Milner wrote. “When I asked him if it’s because I’m speaking Hebrew he said yes and kept yelling at me to get out.”

According to a screenshot he shared on his Facebook page, the driver’s name was Yuva, and he had a high 4.89 rating.

“I never thought something like this could happen in America, such awful racism,” Milner wrote, “This cannot be tolerated!”

Pilgrimage to Tunisia synagogue ends without incident

The annual Jewish pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba ended on Thursday night without incident under heavy security, AFP reported.

About 3,000 people took part in the first day of the festivities, celebrating the Lag Ba’Omer holiday.

The joyful march usually makes a tour of other synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods on the island before returning to Ghriba, but in recent years, celebrations have been confined to Ghriba for security reasons.

According to Rene Trabelsi, co-organizer of the annual pilgrimage, nearly 400 Israelis took part in this year’s festivities.

Organizers expected between 5,000 and 6,000 pilgrims to visit the synagogue, around twice as many as in 2017.

In 2013, only 1,000 pilgrims visited the synagogue amid security concerns. In the past, thousands would flock to the synagogue for the annual Lag Ba’Omer pilgrimage.

The community is still recovering from a suicide bombing at the synagogue in 2002 that killed 21 people.

Team probing who betrayed Anne Frank’s family signs book deal

An investigative team looking into who betrayed Anne Frank and her family in Amsterdam during the Holocaust has signed a book deal.

“Anne Frank: A Cold Case Diary” details the investigation led by former FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and will be published in the summer of 2020, HarperCollins Publishers told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The publisher has acquired world rights to the book, which was among the most talked about at last month’s London Book Fair.

Pankoke has been leading an international effort to solve the mystery over how the Jewish family’s attic hideout was discovered in 1944.

Anne Frank was sent to Auschwitz and then the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she is believed to have died of typhus the following year, at the age of 15. Her father, Otto, the only survivor in the family, later found her diary, which has been translated into over 60 languages and sold millions of copies.

German-Israeli folk singer Abi Ofarim dies at 80 in Munich

German-Israeli singer Abi Ofarim, who had hits including “Cinderella Rockefella” in the ’60s with his wife in the musical duo Esther & Abi Ofarim, has died in Munich. He was 80.

Germany’s dpa news agency reported Ofarim died Friday after a long illness.

Born Abraham Reichstadt in what is today Israel, Ofarim started performing there with Esther Zaled in 1959, and the two married in 1961.

After hits in Germany, their greatest success came with “Cinderella Rockefella,” which reached No. 1 in Britain in 1968 and led to appearances in London and New York.

After the pair separated in 1970, Ofarim worked as a producer and manager but had little success with a solo career.

IDF’s top lawyer to become first openly gay major general

The army’s top lawyer Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek will be promoted to the rank of major general, the military announced on Thursday, citing the increasing importance of his position.

When he is promoted later this year, Afek will become the first openly gay officer in the Israel Defense Forces to hold that rank.

In addition to the change in rank, the military advocate general will have a fixed tenure of five years, with the option for a sixth, “depending on the needs of the IDF chief of staff and the agreement of the military advocate general,” the army said.

n the past, the position was open-ended. Some military advocate generals held the position for four years, others for eight.

Afek will continue to hold the rank of brigadier general until he has completed three years at that rank, which will occur in October, and then receive the promotion to major general.

According to the army, this will be the case for future military advocate generals as well.

Giro d’Italia bike race starts with historic ride through Jerusalem

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of downtown Jerusalem to watch world-class riders whizzing down the city’s streets Friday for the first stage of the 101st Giro d’Italia, one of the most prestigious road cycling races in the world.

The time trials for the world-famous bike race — the largest sporting event ever hosted by Israel — up and down the capital’s hilly streets mark the first time a cycling Grand Tour has ever been held outside Europe.

The first three stages of the 21-day race are being held in Israel, after which the race will return to Italy and end in Rome.

A total of 176 cyclists from 22 teams, including an Israeli delegation for the first time, were taking part in the time trials which began just outside Jerusalem’s Old City. The 9.7-kilometer (6-mile) route took riders near some of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, but organizers have been careful to avoid any politically sensitive areas.

Top cyclists launch historic Giro d’Italia race on Jerusalem’s roadways

The long wait is finally over, with the 101st Giro d’Italia to get underway in Jerusalem on Friday.

One of cycling’s three grand tours, along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, will begin with 176 of the world’s top cyclists competing against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City before continuing with road stages between Haifa and Tel Aviv (167 km.) on Saturday and Beersheba and Eilat (226 km.) on Sunday. The riders will then enjoy a rest day before resuming the 21-stage three-week race in southern Italy.

Since 2006, the Giro has commenced every other year with a high-profile “Big Start” outside of Italy. This year’s “Big Start” in Israel will be the first time the Giro, the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España has been held outside Europe. Honorary President of “Big Start Israel” Sylvan Adams, co-owner of Israel’s only professional team – Israel Cycling Academy – which will be taking part in the Giro, is the driving force behind the arrival of the prestigious race in the Holy Land.

The Israeli-Canadian philanthropist provided the inspiration and much of the funding that was required to attract the organizers, with Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev revealing the government has invested about NIS 30 million in the initiative, believing local tourism will greatly benefit.

“I want to show this beautiful country in its pure reality to nearly one billion television viewers,” Adams told The Jerusalem Post earlier this week. “My experience with first-time visitors to Israel is that they are almost universally pleasantly surprised. Because nothing that they encountered fits with what their preconceptions were prior to coming. So this is a way to invite one billion first-time visitors to Israel. Unlike a soccer match or basketball games, which take place inside a stadium, cycling takes places outdoors. So for three days, with 16 hours of TV coverage, starting in Jerusalem, our beautiful and important national capital, and then going from Acre in the North all the way down to Eilat, they will literally see all the country.”

Ahead of Giro d’Italia, Gino Bartali honored for heroism during WWII

A 14 km. cycling trail in the Haruvit Forest was named after the late Italian cyclist and Righteous Among the Nations Gino Bartali on Thursday, one day before the Giro d’Italia’s Big Start in Jerusalem.

An inauguration ceremony held by Keren Kayemet L’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and KKL Italy, sought to memorialize Bartali’s heroism during World War II.

Born in Florence in 1914, Bartali was a champion road cyclist who won the Italian Giro d’Italia multistage race three times (in 1936, 1937 and 1946) and the Tour de France twice (in 1938 and 1948). Owing to his remarkable accomplishments in sports, he became a popular and widely admired national hero. Giro d’Italia Cyclists Ride through Yad Vashem (Credit: Yad Vashem/YouTube)

Bartali used sport to save hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution by cycling through Italy to carry messages and false documents to the Italian resistance. It was also discovered, ten years after his passing, that Bartali hid a Jewish family during World War II.

Among those attending the ceremony were his granddaughter Gioia Bartali; Italian Ambassador Gianluigi Benedetti; vice chairman of KKL-JNF Directorate Nisan Cialic; president of KKL Italy Sergio Castelbolognesi; as well as senior members of the Israel Cycling Academy who will participate in this year’s race.

On Wednesday, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem, hosted participants of the Israel Cycling Academy and leadership of the Giro d’ Italia at an event posthumously bestowing Commemorative Citizenship of the State of Israel on Bartali.

Cyclists from the Giro d’Italia participated in a Memorial Ride through Yad Vashem’s campus, concluding in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.

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