Melanie Phillips: Melanie at Berkeley
Third fact. There was never a Palestinian nation or a Palestinian people. No Arabs ever considered themselves to be Palestinians. They thought of themselves as part of an Arab nation. There was no identification with the land known as Palestine. After all, the name itself was entirely artificial. Judea, the land of the Jews, was only called Palestine by the conquering Romans who wanted to erase its Jewish identity.
When in the 1920s the League of Nations decided to resettle the Jews in the land, the Arabs living there at the time considered themselves pan-Arab or southern Syrian. There was NO distinctive culture, language, literature, history or tradition based on the area known as Palestine, other than that of the Jews.
Many people who lived there then weren’t even Arabs at all. A 1920 British government handbook noted: ‘The people west of the Jordan are not Arabs but only Arabic-speaking. The bulk of the population are fellahin… [agricultural labourers of diverse backgrounds]. In the Gaza district they are mostly of Egyptian origin; elsewhere they are of the most mixed race.”
Many of those who now claim Palestinian ancestry going back through the centuries are instead the descendants of those who poured into Mandate Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, many of them illegally, on the backs of the returning Jews who were seen as bringing work and prosperity with them.
There’s no such thing as Palestinian national identity, and the Arabs have always admitted this. In 1937, the Syrian leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi said: “There is no such country as Palestine. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. ‘Palestine’ is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it.”
In 1946 the Arab historian Professor Philip Hitti observed: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not”.
In 1977 Zahir Muhsein, a member of the PLO executive committee, said: ”The Palestinian people does not exist…Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”
The so-called Palestinian agenda always been to destroy the Jewish homeland. Which is why Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. Which is why their maps and insignia depict Palestine as incorporating the whole of Israel. Which is why they teach their children to hate Jews, steal their land and destroy the Jewish homeland. To understand the present, we have to understand the past.
Mottle Wolfe: Mr. Terrorist Goes to Washington (and weekly re-cap)
Mottle and Brian John Thomas (Brian of London) catch you up on the news from Israel and around the world.
In this episode: Mahmoud Abbas visits Trump at the Whitehouse, Hamas releases their new and improved ‘moderate’ genocidal new platform, UNESCO show once again just how irrelevant they are, and Israel gets a dose of Bieber fever!
The interviewer, Dena Takruri, challenged Sanders for joining every other U.S. senator last month in signing a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging him to remedy the body’s “anti-Israel agenda.”
Takruri asked why Sanders was “effectively trying to shield [Israel] from criticism.” Sanders interrupted, “No, no, no, no, no, I don’t accept that,” saying “there are many problems with Israel” and he would continue to “be critical of a lot of what Israel does.”
“On the other hand, to see Israel attacked over and over again for human rights violations which may be true, when you have countries like Saudi Arabia or Syria, Saudi Arabia – I’m not quite sure if a woman can even drive a car today,” Sanders said.
“So I think the thrust of that letter is not to say that Israel does not have human rights issues — it does — but to say how come it’s only Israel when you have other countries where women are treated as third-class citizens, where in Egypt, I don’t know how many thousands of people now lingering in jail, so that’s the point of that, not to defend Israel but to say why only Israel, you want to talk about human rights, let’s talk about human rights,” he said.
Asked by Takruri whether he “respected” BDS as a legitimate nonviolent protest movement, Sanders said, “No, I don’t.” The senator suggested in his reply that the tactic was counterproductive as a means of bringing the sides to peace talks.
“People will do what they want to do, but I think our job as a nation is to do everything humanly possible to bring Israel and the Palestinians and the entire Middle East to the degree that we can together, but no, I’m not a supporter of that,” he said.
“What must be done is that the United States of America is to have a Middle East policy which is even-handed, which does not simply supply endless amounts of money, of military support to Israel, but which treats both sides with respect and dignity and does our best to bring them to the table.”
Sanders also rejected Takruri’s assertion that the two-state solution is almost dead and said he would not embrace a one-state solution.
I asked @SenSanders about Palestine, the BDS movement targeting Israel, and whether he supports a one state solution pic.twitter.com/xOQmxMelFp
— Dena Takruri (@Dena) May 3, 2017
The March 19, 1947 edition of the New York Times contains a report by Clifton Daniel (who would later be the paper’s managing editor, and who was married to Margaret Truman, daughter of former US President Harry Truman). In it, Daniel interviews Arabs in then Palestine about the idea of living with Jews in the land. Needless to say, they are not happy about it.
But besides their opposition to admitting more Jews on humanitarian grounds, note:
- Yet another mention of how the Jews had legally bought Arab land – something that has come up in previous reports from the time, which I have posted on the blog
- Mention of Kfar Yasif, where Spanish Jews had lived after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition (1492), before being displaced by the Arabs around 200 years later
- Widespread interest in a “Greater Syria” plan, whereby the Arabs of Palestine, Syria and Jordan would form one state (because the Arabs in Palestine did not consider themselves as having a distinct identity as they claim to in more recent times)
The way The New York Times dealt with two maritime tragedies during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine might be an enlightening introduction to its editorial position on Zionism, the Jewish National Home, and the plight of European Jewish refugees during WWII.
In November 1940, the Patria ship was moored in the port of Haifa with more than 1,900 Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. The British did not allow their disembarkation in Palestine and planned to send them to Mauritius, then an English island colony. The Hagana, the official Zionist militia, tried to sabotage the expulsion of these illegal immigrants by putting a bomb in the boat. An error in the calculation of the explosives sank the ship and more than 250 refugees. That left the Zionists looking bad. The Times published the news on the front page. Fifteen months later, in February 1942, the Struma ship sank in the Black Sea with its 768 Jewish refugees inside; only one survived. It was the greatest civilian tragedy on the high seas during World War II. Due to technical malfunctions, the ship had to divert its route from Rumania to Palestine towards Istanbul. The British refused to accept the human cargo in Palestine, the Turks did not want it in their country and they decided to tow the battered ship and leave it abandoned adrift. A few hours later it sank. That left the British looking bad. The Times devoted just four paragraphs to the news of a “Black Sea ship” on the second page of the newspaper. In contrast, the Washington Post published an editorial on the subject.
The Times was not exactly a fan of the Zionist cause and gave ample coverage to news that hurt it. In the summer of 1943, the trial of two Jews and two British soldiers accused of smuggling weapons to Palestine began in Jerusalem. The newspaper special envoy to cover the event was Alexander Sedgwick, a pro-British American who believed that the Zionists wanted a state “based upon a philosophy not unlike that of the Nazis,” as he wrote in a letter sent to the publisher of the NYT. One of several articles dedicated to the subject run “Vast Ring with Huge Resources Linked with the Jewish Agency at Smugglers´ Trial.” The American Jewish community was amazed. The same newspaper that was burying the news about the Jewish genocide in Europe deep down in the inside pages was focusing on a case of arms-smuggling in Palestine. To put this in perspective: a few months before, the Warsaw ghetto uprising had occurred, in which members of the poorly armed Jewish resistance fought for more than three weeks against Nazi troops until they were annihilated. It was an extraordinary epic –except for the Times. It took six months until the newspaper finally dedicated an editorial to this dramatic event, and when it did, it did not even mention that Jews had been involved, referring to them simply as “people.”
IsraellyCool: The Wandering Jew Has Arrived: Book Review
Book Title: The Wandering Jew Has Arrived
Author: Albert Londres (translated by Helga Abraham)
Publisher: Gefen Publishing House
Year Published: 2016
In 1929, renowned French investigative journalist Albert Londres set out to document the lives of Jews, an odyssey that began after meeting a rabbi who arrived in England from Galicia to raise funds to help his community survive. He would later journey to eastern Europe and Palestine, where he observed Jews of different stripes up close and personal. What emerged is a fascinating portrait of Jews at the time, which has now finally been translated in to English almost 90 years later.
The Wandering Jew Has Arrived is based on the series of articles Londres wrote for the French newspaper Le Parisien. His descriptions of the Jews he encounters are equal parts vivid and fawning; Londres is clearly a philosemite, and his admiration for the Jewish people is a welcome relief to one so accustomed to reading the current mainstream media.
This book gives great insight into the harsh living conditions of many of the Jews of eastern Europe, who were afflicted by poverty and antisemitism. Despite this, many are opposed to moving to Palestine. It is unfortunately a familar theme.
In Palestine, Londres sees a different type of Jew – one who stands erect and proudly. Yet even there, they cannot escape the pogroms, with the 1929 massacres of Hebron and Safed covered also by Londres.
But Londres ends off on an optimistic note. Referring to the Jews in Palestine, Londres asks “Is this a prophecy? Has the Wandering Jew arrived? To which he answers “Why not?”
My investigation into Gorka taught me that he is (at least) the third generation of his family to take personal risks on behalf of freedom and on behalf of Jews.
Gorka’s chief critic has been Jane Eisner, the editor-in-chief of The Forward, which has published many articles making a case against him. The time and effort the paper put into this work is impressive. I have to believe if there was anything — even a single anecdote — in Gorka’s past that was remotely antisemitic, The Forward would have found it. Yet in all the articles, there was not a single report of anything Gorka ever said, did or wrote that might paint Jews in a negative light. The closest thing to validation of his naysayers was a video of an interview he gave that was deceptively edited to make it look as if he supported something he clearly opposed — as anyone who read a complete transcript of the interview could discern.
As far as I can tell, The Forward’s entire case against Gorka seems to be that he is proud of his Hungarian heritage and has worked with the Hungarian Right. While we all know that Hungary — like many counties in the world — has produced antisemitic figures, including some active in its political Right today, the efforts to tar him with that brush are not based on any evidence at all. To smear an innocent man is immoral and politically dishonest.
So during this week when we mourned and celebrated with Israel, we continued to face anti-Zionism and antisemitism in America. Sarsour has tried to obfuscate her anti-Zionism with a show of philosemitism (she raised money to repair a desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis). Also, many Jewish women worked with her on the Washington march. But as we know from the UN — the parent body of UNESCO — anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Unfortunately, too many Jews are in the ranks of the anti-Zionist camp. And too many Jews have joined with the allies of Sarsour in libeling Gorka.
As a Jew who has children living in Gush Etzion and members of my family who have served in or are set to enlist in the IDF, I am very proud. I did not vote for Trump in November. But he is our elected president and all Americans are invested in his success.
I support freedom of the press and I think the president should spend less time attacking the media and more time doing the work of all of the people of America who he was elected to serve. I believe he will find a more balanced press when he does. But he must know that there will always be media criticism. All of America, including the president, are the beneficiaries of a free press.
In fairness to the president, Gorka was a great appointment and he should be commended for it. The Gorka calumny should be buried once and for all.
The executive board of the UN’s cultural agency ratified on Friday a resolution that calls Israel “the occupying power” in Jerusalem and disputes its ties to the capital.
The resolution was passed by a UNESCO commission on Tuesday, sparking Israel’s anger. A day after the text was adopted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Israel would cut another $1 million from its payments to the UN, bringing the total cuts since December 2016 to $9 million.
Submitted to UNESCO’s Executive Board by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan on Israel’s Independence Day, the resolution on “Occupied Palestine” referred to Israel as the “occupying power” in its capital, indicating that it has no legal or historical ties to any part of the city.
The resolution passed with 22 votes in favor, 23 abstentions, 10 opposed, and representatives of three countries absent.
Members of more than 30 Israeli families who lost relatives in Palestinian terrorist attacks have signed a letter to FIFA — the governing body of international soccer — charging the Palestine Football Association (PFA) with four severe violations of the organization’s rules — including incitement to terrorism and violence.
Specifically, the letter asserts that the PFA and its president, Jibril Rajoub, have breached two provisions of FIFA’s Statutes and two provisions of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code.
The letter points to the soccer competitions held under PFA auspices that were named in honor of Palestinian terrorists, such as Khalil al-Wazir — a founder of the PLO who was responsible for the deaths of more than 100 Israelis. Rajoub himself, the letter says, has glorified violence and incited Palestinians. His February 2014 call for the abduction of Israelis was followed several months later by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach.
Rajoub’s use of antisemitic language — comparing Israelis to “Satan” and claiming that, if Adolf Hitler was alive today, he would learn from the Jewish state “how to oppress humans” — represents another example of falling foul of FIFA’s rules, which strictly prohibit expressions of racism.
Ever since it hosted the Olympic Games 25 years ago, Barcelona has been so much more than the proud capital of Catalonia and a beacon of culture, economy sport and fashion. Anyone who spends five minutes on La Rambla, the main street, is immediately taken by Barcelona’s tourist power.
Last year alone, 10 million tourists visited the city. These included many Israelis who came to see the best soccer player in history, Lionel Messi, at Camp Nou. They visited the parks, admired the unique architecture of buildings designed by the genius Antoni Gaudi, enjoyed the food, basked in the sea breeze and visited historical sites, some of them boasting a rich Jewish past (such as the famous Montjuic, “Jewish Mountain”).
But there is something that the many Israelis who visit Barcelona do not know: For weeks, the city’s 7,000-member Jewish community has been clashing with the city council and militantly left-wing Mayor Ada Colau.
On the one hand, Colau supports her city’s Jews and demonstrates admirable sensitivity toward the city’s Jewish history, particularly the memory of the Holocaust. On the other hand, she does little to hide her absolute support for the Palestinians. For many Barcelona Jews, the problem is not her support of the Palestinians but the consequent anti-Israel sentiment guiding many of the parties in the city council. The Jewish community feels that these parties focus unfairly on Israel, as though there is no one else to condemn.
Tensions were further fueled when one of the municipal committees voted to condemn Israel about a month ago, and relations appear to be on a collision course ahead of the May 14 arrival of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member Leila Khaled. The Israeli Embassy in Madrid, which has been closely monitoring the situation, has already registered a complaint with city hall.
A University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) student group was caught on Wednesday falsely claiming that Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion backed the expulsion of Arabs from areas that would become part of the Jewish state.
The school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, which functions under the name UCSB Divest, was found having written on its “apartheid wall” on campus that Ben-Gurion — the pre-state Jewish leader who would go on to become Israel’s first prime minister — once said, “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.”
In fact, the correct quote, from a 1937 handwritten letter, made the exact opposite assertion: “We do not want to and we do not have to expel Arabs and take their place.”
The quote was written on one of the wall’s panels titled “In their own words,” which was meant to reveal Israel’s supposed real intentions regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. However, other quotes used on the UCSB wall were also misconstrued, including one attributed to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in which he said, “If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, then we would use much more force.”
The anti-Israel students failed to provide the second half of Barak’s comment — made in a 2000 interview with Israel Radio — in which he added, “But in our opinion the opposite is true, and the State of Israel would then be in a much more complicated situation” (as quoted by the LA Times).
The truncated and distorted Ben-Gurion quote has been used on multiple other occasions, including on a website that offers information about why one should support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. That site was created and maintained by University of Manchester Professor Mona Baker, who is a translation expert serving as the school’s director of the Center for Translation and Intercultural Studies.
At Cornell we mostly have great students. This is a story about some of those great students at an Israel Independence Day event who reacted in a powerful way when a small group of students from the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine disrupted the event.
You may recall that there have been problems with anti-Israel activists on campus disrupting any positive event about Israel. Anti-Israel activists were the vanguard of the campus anti-free speech movement, as I documented in With campus shout downs, first they came for the Jews and Israel. At places like Berkeley, Jewish students have to find non-disclosed locations for pro-Israel events.
Intimidation tactics by anti-Israel students have not been as big a problem at Cornell as on some other campuses, but a dozen or twenty people can cause a lot of trouble. In November 2014, anti-Israel students, assisted by Ithaca activists, tried to physically intimidate pro-Israel students. I covered the story, Cornell Pro-Israel students taunted: “F**k You Zionist scums” (Video at the link).
In the latest attempt at intimidation, Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine organized a disruption and takeover of an Israel Independence Day event organized by Hillel and various pro-Israel student groups.
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, has addressed a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressing his “shock and horror” that leftist sharia advocate and alleged terrorist supporter Linda Sarsour was tapped by CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Public Policy as their commencement speaker, urging him to cancel her appearance at the taxpayer-funded university.
“Sarsour is a bigot and a divider,” Klein wrote. “It disgraces the state and city of New York for a taxpayer-funded university to confer this honor on her.” He noted that “CUNY of all places should not be elevating and honoring Linda Sarsour, given the recent appalling revelations of anti-Semitism on several CUNY campuses,” and he pointed out that “Sarsour’s values conflict with American values.”
Barbara Aaron, chief of staff to CUNY Graduate School of Public Health dean Ayman El-Mohandes, told The Daily Caller, “I am delighted to confirm that Linda Sarsour will indeed speak at our June 1 commencement at the Apollo Theater.”
In his letter, Klein went on to list several reasons that should disqualify Sarsour from delivering the keynote speak at CUNY. He explained:
Sarsour openly supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. She also opposes the right of the Jewish State of Israel to exist, expressing her unbridled hatred on Twitter with statements such as “Nothing is creepier than Zionism” and “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is a waste of a human being.”
He’s been called “a pimp for the Prophet” and the “Arab Malcolm X.” He has celebrated the 9/11 attacks, been banned from entering the United Kingdom, and rejects Israel’s legitimacy. He is pro-Hamas and outspokenly anti-Semitic. Yet his many followers see him as something of a savior, a voice of emancipation for Muslims in the West.
Now, the Lebanese-Belgian activist Dyab Abou Jahjah is starting his own political party in Brussels, aiming to represent minority groups and his vision for a “society of radical equality.” The initiative follows yet another of his many efforts, the October 2014 founding of Movement X, “a civil rights movement that embraces [the] new demographic reality” of Europe and “stands for a radical interpretation of democracy,” according to its mission statement.
Jahjah’s fledgling party is likely to wield some influence in Belgian and European politics. The controversial 45-year-old has developed a strong following over the years, expanding his influence from Belgium to the Netherlands and France. In 2000, he founded the Antwerp-based Arab European League (AEL), which aimed to create what Jahjah called a pan-European “sharocracy,” combining Sharia law with principles of democracy. And it was willing to go to extremes to create it: “You do not receive rights,” declared the AEL on its web site at the time. “You take them.” And for the AEL’s slogan, Jahjah, a long-time fan of Malcolm X, adopted X’s motto, “by any means necessary.”
The Washington Post’s chief correspondent in Israel has discarded all pretense of objectivity and is now openly lobbying for a political cause — and it’s one of the most distasteful causes imaginable: justifying the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) policy of paying imprisoned terrorists and their families.
William Booth, the Post’s longtime Jerusalem bureau chief, has never been very careful about keeping his personal opinions out of his news articles. But his May 3 report on PA payments to terrorists crossed the line from journalism to outright advocacy.
“Israel and its congressional supporters,” Booth reported, are urging President Donald Trump to press PA President Mahmoud Abbas “to stop social welfare payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and assailants either wounded or killed by Israeli forces during terrorist attacks.”
Let’s dissect that remarkable sentence.
Start with Booth’s phrase “social welfare payments.” The obvious purpose of the phrase “social welfare” is to make the payments seem more palatable. The dictionary definition of “social welfare” is: “organized public or private social services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups.”
Booth apparently wants Washington Post readers to think the recipients of the funds are innocent widows and orphans — who, after all, should not be blamed for the acts of their terrorist relatives, and therefore deserve government support.
After 9/11, Republican Sen. Bob Graham warned that Hezbollah is “believed to have the largest embedded terrorist network inside the U.S.” As potential conflict looms with Iran as it pursues nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, the Islamic terrorism-supporting nation is exporting another form of stealth warfare via Hezbollah in America.
Shia Association Bay Area (SABA) in San Jose, California is one such pro-Hezbollah Islamic center that is under the mainstream media’s and public’s radar despite its close ties to Iran. SABA’s leadership works with Shiite imams all over the Bay Area and has under its influence the imam in charge of a satellite television station that reaches around the world.
Al-Manar TV is a terrorism-promoting entity serving to indoctrinate Muslims throughout the world to the course of violent jihad. Al Manar TV is not allowed to broadcast in the U.S. and many other countries.
But nearby,Dublin, California, hosts Velayat TV USA which plays a big part in pro-Hezbollah actvities in Northern California to promote the goals of the Ayatollahs in Iran. Velayat TV USA promotes jihad against the Shiites’ perceived enemies, the United States — the Great Satan — and Israel and the Jews, the Little Satan. In the event of war with Iran, Velayat TV can reach millions of viewers who might be sympathetic to the Mullahs back in Iran.
For now, Velayat TV tries to keep up the appearance of an innocent local TV station for Shiite Muslims who only want to fit in and “dialog” with the non-Muslim community.
The BBC’s funding public never did find out why in the first place ‘Newsnight’ editors considered the airing of Soral’s antisemitic conspiracy theories and whitewashing of the racism of his ‘close friend’ to be of any contribution to the public’s understanding of the issue under discussion.
Nearly two years after his ‘Newsnight’ interview, Soral was convicted by a French criminal court in a case relating to antisemitism and Dieudonné also since been convicted on similar charges. Nevertheless, in a 2015 report on one case , BBC News found it appropriate to inform audiences that the latter “insists he is not anti-Semitic” and as recently as April 2017 visitors to the BBC News website were informed that:
“…on one issue Alain Soral undoubtedly has a point: speech is being policed with increasing zeal in France.”
It of course comes as no surprise whatsoever to find Soral – together with his associate – on a list of antisemitic Holocaust denying social media accounts. What is still chilling, however, is that the BBC even considered inviting him to appear as a commentator on antisemitism.
Family members of three victims of the December 2015 shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, have sued Facebook, Google and Twitter, claiming that the tech giants permitted the Islamic State group to flourish on social media.
The plaintiffs assert that by allowing Islamic State militants to spread propaganda freely on social media, the three companies provided “material support” to the group and enabled attacks such as the one in San Bernardino.
“For years, defendants have knowingly and recklessly provided the terrorist group ISIS [Islamic State] with accounts to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds and attracting new recruits,” relatives of Sierra Clayborn, Tin Nguyen and Nicholas Thalasinos charged in the 32-page complaint, which was filed in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“Without defendants Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible,” the plaintiffs said.
There are entire books — good ones — published that don’t get a single mention in the Times, let alone five different articles by five different Times journalists.
Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, in response to similar Times “overkill machine” coverage of a different book a few years ago, suggested what she called an “editor’s bonus.” She wrote:
It would be awarded to the brave soul who notices early signs of excess, especially the celebration of the inane, and who stands up in the newsroom to demand a moratorium — or at least a timeout.
Maybe the Rabinyan book merits all the attention on the basis of literary quality. It’s hard to know for sure, since the Times hasn’t yet published an actual review of it. When and if the paper does, it will be the paper’s sixth piece about the book.
The next time that the newspaper explains it doesn’t have the staff or space to cover some news story, remember it somehow found the resources to generate and publish five articles about a single book. What is it, one wonders, about a romance between an Israeli Jewish woman and a Palestinian Arab man that so arouses the the imagination of Times journalists and their editors?
This week The Guardian reported that the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general has opened a new murder investigation against a 94-year-old Jewish Red Army veteran and former KGB colonel for his role in the 1952 killing of a nationalist insurgent. The prosecution of former Colonel Boris Steckler is the latest salvo in the historical memory wars of the Ukrainian government’s “decommunisation” campaign, a process that commenced with the Ukrainian parliament hastily passing a package of controversial decommunization laws in May of 2015. The most controversial parts of the new law, which also opened up the KGB archives and outlawed the communist party, enshrined the celebration of controversial nationalist groups who fought the Soviets. Insurgent groups who were bitterly opposed to the Soviet state are now being valorized, and criticism of them is now technically against the law.
The Ukrainian government has launched an investigation into killings in the Rivne region in March of 1952. (The Soviet Union did not put down the last of the guerrilla warfare against Ukrainian nationalists until the early ’50s, in-fighting that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.) The Steckler case centers on the death of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) operative Nil Khasevych, who was either killed along with two other men by Soviet forces in a standoff, or who in alternative versions of the story turned his weapon on his comrades and himself. Khasevych was an artist-propagandist and was accused of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II by creating jingoistic posters for the UAI. According to the accused Jewish Red Army veteran, Khasevych was appointed to a judgeship by the German occupation forces and sentenced Ukrainians resisting the Nazis to summary executions. Depending on one’s viewpoint, the UAI was either a group of nationalist heroes fighting for the Ukrainian nation in a dark time, or a group of genocidal fascist collaborators who took part in ethnic cleansing of Jews and Poles in the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands.
The accusations were officially registered by the Prosecutor’s office on April 25 and portend a prison sentence for a decorated WWII veteran, as well as another international level scandal in the ongoing weaponization of world war 2 memory by both sides of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
A mural urging respect for people’s differences, including religion, will be erected next to a suburban Philadelphia Jewish cemetery that was vandalized.
About 175 headstones at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wissinoming were toppled and damaged in February. Two Philadelphia labor unions offered to provide free repairs and added security, including setting and gluing the stones, fixing the cemetery fence and increasing the lighting.
Now Mural Arts Philadelphia is launching the mural in partnership with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, Friends of Wissinoming Park and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported Wednesday.
The mural, which will be titled “Cultivate Respect,” will be erected in Wissinoming Park adjacent to the cemetery. The project will be unveiled later this month and is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to the Exponent.
As a relatively young country, Israel has had its story told in photographs from its very beginning.
In honor of its 69th Independence Day, Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday published a series of iconic photos from that history re-created by Israeli celebrities. Artists and athletes bring new life to images of the warriors and politicians who helped build the Jewish state.
Rocker Aviv Geffen channels then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion doing a handstand on the beach in 1949. Comedian Guri Alfi is a cross-dressing Golda Meir, photographed washing dishes in 1956. And boy band frontmen Static and Ben-El Tavori are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, respectively, strutting across the Tel Aviv tarmac with jackets over their shoulders in 2013.
Cultural figures — like Israel’s first Olympic medalist Yael Arad and beauty queen Rita Mor — get similar star treatment.
“There’s a part of Israel in every F-35 that’s ever been built,” a Lockheed Martin senior executive told a gathering of air power professionals here Thursday.
Speaking at an annual event of Israel Defense and the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Gary North, vice president for customer requirements at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said the firm has already contracted more than $1 billion worth of structures, subsystems and components with Israeli industry.
And over the lifetime of the program, assuming Israel concludes follow-on buys for the full 75 planes authorized by the U.S. government, Israeli content in the multinational program is expected to exceed $4 billion, he said.
“We’re very excited about our partnership with the Israeli industry,” said North.
Israeli model-turned-actress Gal Gadot extended a warm personal invitation to her hometown fans to see her new movie, Wonder Woman.
In a Hebrew language Facebook and Instagram video posted on Thursday, Gal remarked “My home. My friends. My Israel. The thing that excites me the most is that you are about to see the movie. I’ve waited so long in order share this with you, and I am so happy that this day is closer than ever.”
She opened the message in English, with “Hello, Israel!” but quickly transitioned into Hebrew, saying, “You really think I’d talk to you in English?! I am so excited to invite you to watch my new movie Wonder Woman. We were really all over the world, but there is nothing that excites me more than to know that you at home will be watching the movie.”
She closed with, “So big kisses Israel, I’m crazy about you.”
Two ancient Torah scrolls, along with numerous other artifacts, have been seized from smugglers by Turkish authorities during the past several weeks.
One of the ancient Torah scrolls, recovered with other artifacts in mid-April, is inscribed on gazelle leather and believed to be about 1,500 years old.
According to Turkish police sources, the suspects apprehended with the artifacts smuggled the relics from Istanbul and the eastern Turkish province of Bingol. The leather Torah and the artifacts were handed over to the Balikesir Museum Directorship.
Among the other artifacts were “metal statues, stone rubbings, name bracelets, and earrings from the Hellenistic period, as well as 200 ancient silver and bronze coins indicated to be minted during the reign of the Anatolian Seljuk state,” the Turkish media outlet Anadolu reported.
The second recovered Torah scroll, seized by Turkish police, is gold-plated and was recovered by authorities in the Çukurova district of the Adana province Monday. According to Turkey’s Interior Ministry, the gold-plated Torah is valued at around $3 million.
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