February 29, 2024

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05/20 Links Pt2: Hen Mazzig: No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans; 75 Years Since Elie Wiesel Was Sent to Auschwitz; Why is Al Sharpton speaking at a Jewish conference in Washington?


From Ian:

Hen Mazzig (L.A. Times): No, Israel isn’t a country of privileged and powerful white Europeans
Along with resurgent identity politics in the United States and Europe, there is a growing inclination to frame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of race. According to this narrative, Israel was established as a refuge for oppressed white European Jews who in turn became oppressors of people of color, the Palestinians.

As an Israeli, and the son of an Iraqi Jewish mother and North African Jewish father, it’s gut-wrenching to witness this shift.

I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews. I am baffled as to why mainstream media and politicians around the world ignore or misrepresent these facts and the Mizrahi story. Perhaps it’s because our history shatters a stereotype about the identity of my country and my people.

Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, was not established for just one type of Jew but for all Jews, from every part of the world — the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, Asia and, yes, Europe. No matter where Jews physically reside, they maintain a connection to the land of Israel, where our story started and where today we continue to craft it.

The likes of Women’s March activist Tamika Mallory, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill and, more recently, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) falsify reality in their discussions of Palestinians’ “intersectional” struggle, their use of the term “apartheid” to characterize Israeli policy, and their tendency to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews alone.

I believe their misrepresentations are part of a strategic campaign to taint Israel as an extension of privileged and powerful white Europe, thereby justifying any and all attacks on it. This way of thinking signals a dangerous trend that positions Israel as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for those fleeing oppression. Worse, it all but erases the story of my family, which came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia.

What Israel Can Teach the U.S. about Religious Pluralism and Tolerance

To many Americans, the fact that Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, like its maintenance of a separate school system for its Arab citizens, seems foreign, if not downright unsettling. But, argues Megan McArdle after a recent visit, it gives the country’s minorities something hard to find in other Western countries:

I spoke to Shadi Khalloul, a Maronite Christian activist in the Galilee who is working to revive Aramaic as the daily language of his community. He doesn’t want his community’s children to attend a separate school system for Arabs, true, but that’s because he wants a separate school system for their own identity.

Many governments that constitute themselves along ethno-religious lines oppress minorities, of course. But if a country protects the civil rights of minority citizens, as Israel generally does, it can offer the one thing that an aggressively secular liberal state can’t: easy preservation of the minorities’ own particularist identities, which tend to be lost in aggressively secular liberal nations as the minorities are more or less forcibly assimilated. . . . Israel is able to accommodate [such minorities] more tolerantly not despite its particularist self-definition but because of it. . . .

[T]he United States, a country that espouses tolerance as a prime virtue, has recently been struggling with how far to accommodate ancient and obdurately illiberal faiths—as when we catapulted almost immediately from “legalize gay weddings” to “force Christian bakers to make [gay couples’] wedding cakes.”

Thinking about the unrepentant ethno-religious identity of Israel, and of many Israeli minorities, and indeed of our own traditionalists, forces us to explore the limits of our self-proclaimed tolerance for dissenters. Which is why we need to grapple with that very different way of looking at faith.

Shmuley Boteach: 75 Years Since Elie Wiesel Was Sent to Auschwitz

Seventy-five years ago this week, Elie Wiesel was deported from Sighet, Romania — a small town in the Carpathian mountains — at the age of 15. Within three days, he would arrive at Auschwitz, where his mother Sarah and baby sister Tziporah were instantly murdered. Elie’s story of survival in the hell of Auschwitz, along with his father Shlomo — who would later die at Buchenwald just before the war’s end — would become one of the most famous Holocaust memoirs of all time, equaled only by the diary of Anne Frank.

Visiting Sighet and seeing Elie’s childhood home — today a museum — is a sobering experience. I was there to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deportations and subsequent slaughter of the local Jewish community, which also saw 90 percent of Romanian Jewry annihilated.

In 1944, Sighet had about 27,000 inhabitants. A staggering 12,000 were Jewish. Then, in the space of just four transports taking place between May 16 to 22, 1944 (Elie Wiesel was on the final transport), the entire Jewish community was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. A few days later, upon arriving at Auschwitz, the vast majority went up in smoke, literally.

Over the past few years, I have visited many of Europe’s Holocaust death camps and killing fields with my family. I have done so for my children to know what happened to our people. I have come because I am certain that the six million want us to come — and they demand to be remembered. I have come because I am a Jew, and part of my identity is understanding the great triumphs and unspeakable tragedy of my people. And I have come despite how it is has made me feel toward God.

Elie Wiesel believed that the victims had the right to spar with God, show defiance at His seeming indifference, and express righteous indignation at His apparent abandonment of the Jews of Europe. Others misguidedly tried to find a reason, a purpose, or a meaning behind something so utterly senseless.

Abraham Foxman Talks Antisemitism, BDS, and Mel Gibson

Abraham Foxman is the National Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor. He is the author of several books, including Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. He recently spoke with me about a number of topics related to antisemitism.

Alan Zeitlin (AZ): What is the greatest threat to Jews in America?
Abraham Foxman (AF): The greatest threat to Jews in America continues to be assimilation, but right next … is antisemitism. Antisemitism has always been a serious element is the American fabric. Until we find a vaccine or an antidote against antisemitism, it will continue to be a serious element of our environment. When I started, the virus infected 33 percent. Now we are talking about 12 to 15 percent. We have managed to build a firewall to keep it in the sewers with the covers on. [But] the firewall [is] … falling apart.

AZ: What do you make of those who say they are anti-Zionist and not antisemitic? Do you believe them?
AF: There are a few people in the world who are anti-nationalist, who don’t accept any nationalism — Jewish, Palestinian, or French. [But] overwhelmingly today, to be anti-Zionist — which means to be anti-Jewish sovereignty — is antisemitism. Even the Pope wrote that to challenge the legitimacy of the Jewish state is antisemitism.

AZ: Were you surprised by the recent New York Times cartoon?
AF: Nothing surprises me anymore. If you have a newspaper that historically neglected to talk about the Holocaust … unwilling to support the establishment of the Jewish state … that’s not surprising. Some of the people working there feel that this is okay. At the same time, I’m glad they finally [are coming] to grips with the issue, and we’ll see what happens down the road.

Australian, Austrian politics and the Israel question – analysis

There were two major political developments in pro-Israel countries on Saturday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefly addressing one – the surprise victory of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Australia – while avoiding the other: the snap elections called in Austria.

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu sent “congratulations to another friend of mine, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who won the elections after the polls consistently predicted that he would lose. At the last minute, in the final hours, he won. He defined this as a miracle.”

Had Morrison lost to the Labor challenger, Bill Shorten, chances are that Netanyahu would have sent him congratulations because the prime minister has developed a good relationship with him as well, having met with him both in Israel and Australia.

This election, according to one source in Jerusalem, was between one party friendly to Israel, and another party even friendlier to Israel. Morrison represented the “even friendlier party” the Liberals; Shorten, the friendly party, Labor.

Israel’s relations with Australia are strong, among the strongest in the world, just after the US and then Germany, and right up there with Canada. That would not have changed significantly even had Shorten defeated Morrison.

But still, with Morrison Israel has a strong friend who took the half-step of recognizing west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, and opened a Trade and Defense Office there. The Labor Party said it would have reversed those moves.

Dave Sharma, Former Aussie ambassador, wins seat in parliament

Seven months after losing an election in his first foray into national politics, former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma – now a Liberal party politician – bounced back Sunday and won the seat in the heavily-Jewish Wentworth district in eastern Sydney once held by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

By only some 2,500 votes, Sharma defeated Independent incumbent Kerryn Phelps, a convert to Judaism. Phelps beat her in a critical by-election in October that robbed Prime Minister Scott Morrison of his parliamentary majority. On Sunday the Liberal’s Morrison stunned the pollsters and defeated Labor’s Bill Shorten to retain his seat as prime minister.

Sharma was a highly-regarded, active and high-profile ambassador during his four years in Israel from 2013 to 2017, and developed close contacts with senior government officials. One of those officials described Sharma as a “true friend” of Israel “with all his heart and soul.”

Though a new parliamentarian, Sharma’s name has already been bandied about as a possible minister. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday that Sharma “brushed aside questions about whether he would be given a cabinet position.”

The paper quoted Sharma as saying, “I’ll be concentrating my time over the next weeks, months and years to being a good local representative.”

200 Million Viewers Celebrate Diversity, Tolerance and Openness in Israel!

The Eurovision Song Contest, held this week in Tel Aviv was a breathtaking production and a spectacular success, culminating in last night’s Grand Final. Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence scooped the prize with 492 points, just ahead of Italy’s 465. It was also a spectacular failure for the boycott movement, and not just in terms of the event taking place in Israel, with not one of the 41 countries, artists or participants boycotting the contest.

In what is a nightmare scenario for the boycott movement, 200 million viewers from around the world watched as Israel brilliantly celebrated diversity, tolerance and openness, for all the world to see. The boycott movement unsuccessfully tried to paint Israel’s participation as a propaganda exercise, whereas Israel was simply fulfilling its contractual obligation to host the contest. 

Israel did so spectacularly, and that is exactly what the boycott movement were afraid of. Bullies never win. They are a thorn in our side, but they never win. The boycott movement’s well-known and well-documented bullying and intimidatory tactics didn’t work on the Irish public and they didn’t work for the international audience either.

Your Emails Work! ‘Hugely embarrassing’: Emails to RTÉ show pushback against calls for Eurovision boycott
Please be encouraged. Your emails work!

The boycott movement in Ireland is a minority, but they shout loud and make a lot of noise. They try to convince the Irish media, Irish politicians and the general public that the call to boycott Israel is a majority voice, but nothing could be further from the truth, as evidenced by the huge success of Eurovision and by the fact that RTÉ received almost three times as many emails objecting to a boycott as emails calling for one.

Cops on Tel Aviv roofs for Eurovision forced down 80 drones; none were attacking

Israeli police, fearful of a terror attack on the Eurovision Song Contest, deployed a new new anti-drone unit to protect the participants, fans and Tel Aviv residents during last week’s music extravaganza, Israeli TV reported Sunday.

Channel 12 detailed some of the many security precautions taken for the glitzy international song fest, which concluded with the final on Saturday and was held in Israel days after a massive flare-up in violence in and around the Gaza Strip.

Israel had already announced that it was deploying its Iron Dome System to protect against rocket attacks, but authorities also feared that drones could be used to target the international event.

Eran Salomon, the head of police’s Bomb Disposal Division, told the TV news channel that sappers from the unit brought down — but did not shoot — 80 UAVs that approached the Eurovision Village or the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds last week despite police instructions not to fly drones near the competition venues.

BBC News claims BDS is solely about ‘a cultural boycott’

There is of course nothing new about the BBC framing the BDS campaign’s ‘one-state’ opposition to the existence of the only Jewish state in the world as a claim that is made solely by Israeli government officials.

The meaning of the BDS campaign’s stance concerning the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel – described by campaign leader Omar Barghouti as the “most important” of its demands – has never been adequately clarified to BBC audiences and neither has the fact that the campaign is viewed as antisemitic because it singles out the Jewish state alone and because it negates the right of Jews to self-determination.

Instead of BBC audiences being provided with information which would help them understand the full background to this story, readers of this report were fed uncritical amplification of the cynical BDS campaign lie that it is concerned about “real anti-Jewish racism”.

The Intrepid Duo: Pipes, Father and Son

“My main contribution was revealing the flaws in the détente policy and urging a policy designed to reform the Soviet Union through a strategy of economic denial.” In other words, the USSR could be changed from within by raising the costs of its aggression. — Richard Pipes.

Daniel Pipes argues that, ironically, the Palestinians would actually fare far better if they were defeated: they could end their fantasies of genocide and, like post-WWII Germany, finally start to build a constructive and flourishing civil society.

“The hardest thing for Westerners to understand is… the nature of the enemy’s ultimate goal… to apply the Islamic law (Sharia) globally. In U.S. terms, it intends to replace the Constitution with the Qur’an…. Now, it has become widely accepted that, in Bernard Lewis’s words, “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century.” — Daniel Pipes, “The Islamic States of America?”, FrontPageMagazine.com, September 23, 2004.

“Although the moderate Muslims appear — and in fact are — weak, they have a crucial role to play, for they alone can reconcile Islam with modernity…” — Daniel Pipes, Introduction, Militant Islam Reaches America.

Is There a Way to Change the Minds of Militant Muslim Extremists?

Born and raised in eastern London to Indian Muslim parents, Ed Husain, is the co-founder of the counter extremism organization Quilliam. He is also a former senior adviser to Tony Blair on religious affairs. Our Daniel Campos has his story.

Why is Al Sharpton, inciter of Crown Heights, speaking at a Jewish conference in Washington?

The disgraceful decision by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to have Al Sharpton speak this morning at a plenary session of its conference in Washington, D.C., (titled “Consultation on Conscience”) sends a very dangerous and intolerable message to the anti-Semites among us.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise, not just in the form of shouts or graffiti but also the murder of Jews. It is thus incomprehensible how the Religious Action Center could have ever made this decision.

The advertising material promoting this event describes Sharpton as “founder and President of the National Action Network … a not-for-profit civil rights organization that was formed in 1991 … one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders.”

We remember Al Sharpton for what he did in 1991. It was in August of that year that he led violent, murderous anti-Semitic rioters on a pogrom in Crown Heights. They terrorized that Jewish community for nearly four days, during which 183 people were injured and the innocent visiting Australian University academic Yankel Rosenbaum — brother to one of us — was murdered in cold blood amid cries of “Kill the Jew! Kill the Jew!”

It was Sharpton who rallied those rioters with calls of “No Justice, No Peace!” He disparagingly referred to Jews as “diamond dealers.” In an exercise of immense intellectual dishonesty, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism failed to mention any of this in its conference promotional materials. Nor is Sharpton’s reprehensible support of Tawana Brawley’s false rape accusations, nor his boycotting of Korean grocers in Brooklyn, nor his actions culminating in the arson of Freddie’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street. That is the Al Sharpton we know – then, now, and forever.

Sharpton has never apologized or shown any remorse for his actions during the 1991 Crown Heights Pogrom. Indeed, he has never apologized for any of his other reprehensible deeds.

Omar Suleiman and the vile propaganda and incitement from American Muslims for Palestine

Almost two years ago, I noticed the group “American Muslims for Palestine” (AMP) thanks to their ardent support for convicted Palestinian terrorist and US immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh. I didn’t cross-post the piece I wrote back then, but will do so now (see below) because the group has once again come to my attention, this time due to the support it has been getting from Omar Suleiman, a prominent American-Palestinian imam about whom I’ve written before (here and here and here).

Suleiman has recently been again in the news after he was invited to give a prayer in Congress; soon afterwards, the information I documented about his intense hatred for Israel was apparently unearthed and led to a controversy. Needless to say, Suleiman rejected the criticism as unfair and even claimed to fiercely oppose antisemitism.

I plan to explain why I don’t think Suleiman’s claims and perfunctory expressions of vague remorse are all that trustworthy. While I have a hopefully soon to be published op-ed pending (to be updated here), I have much more material than I could present in the op-ed; therefore, I will also post some updates like this one, which focuses on Suleiman’s recent collaboration with AMP.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) profiled AMP in a report that includes activities up to 2014/15 and describes the group as “the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country. Founded in 2005, AMP promotes extreme anti-Israel views and has at times provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about ‘the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination.’”

Pelosi’s misplaced tolerance empowers Antismitism

The daily reports of antisemitic rhetoric and actual physical attacks on American Jews have become a common occurrence in many American Jewish communities throughout the United States, this despite the denial of most American Jews that I run into during my visits to the tri-state area including my current visit;

Antisemitic rhetoric and physical violence are shamelessly condoned and publicly tolerated not only by a small select group of political representatives who have become media darlings and celebrities, but more importantly by mainstream Democratic Party and Progressive political organizational leaders, many of whom are Jewish themselves.

This relatively minor and small group of highly visible media personalities is becoming disproportionally tolerant of expressing antisemitic rhetoric empowering Jew haters to act uninhibitedly against Jews anywhere and everywhere. These select and vocal groups of Jew haters have become more brazen, creating a climate that has made antisemitism far more permissible and lowers the threshold for Jew haters who take the rhetoric one step further.

Polls show that Americans have a very positive views toward Israel, ranking it among the 10 countries they most favor, above many longtime allies. The greater majority of Americans do not hold antisemitic beliefs and do not condone acts of antisemitism. Antisemitism just doesn’t turn on most Americans. Polls over the years have shown consistently that only a relatively small minority of Americans held antisemitic attitudes and that the scope of the problem has remained just that, a marginal challenge.

Brandeis president condemns vandalism of Israel Week art installation

Vandalism against a temporary art installation erected for Brandeis Hillel’s Israel Week celebration violate the university’s recently adopted principles of free expression, the university’s president said.

The celebration took place earlier this month. The art installation was erected on the university’s Great Lawn. In one incident, graffiti that read “Free Palestine” was written on the installation. In a second, a sign that read “Stop lying to young Jews #FreePalestine” was affixed to its side.

“The targeting of Hillel, a Jewish organization, could easily lead one to interpret the acts as anti-Semitic, and the university strongly condemns anti-Semitism,” Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz said in a statement published on the university’s website on Wednesday.

“These acts of vandalism violate the university’s recently adopted principles of free expression. If the messages left on the installation had been conveyed without vandalizing property and in accordance with university policy, the speech would have been protected. But this case involved vandalism targeted at a specific group,” he also wrote. “Free speech does not allow one to destroy, deface, or disrupt the free speech or activities of others, including those with whom one disagrees.”

Is There Room in Academia for Honest Scholarship on Israel?

A special issue of the Israel Studies journal (Summer 2019), published by the Association for Israel Studies, was titled “Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict.”

Its focus is how language is used to delegitimize Zionism and the State of Israel. It was a long overdue attempt to begin a discussion about the way academia has become a hostile environment for anyone other than those who believe Israel’s creation was a crime.

There has been an exponential growth of tenured positions and well-funded Middle East Studies departments. But this trend has fostered a new orthodoxy of opinion about the subject.

These departments became a preserve of those devoted to whitewashing radical Islam, bashing Israeli policies, critiquing and undermining support for Zionism, and supporting the Palestinian Arab war to destroy the Jewish state. In Mideast studies, only one point of view about Israel is welcome. Scholars sympathetic to Israel and critical of radical Islam are often treated as pariahs and driven from the field.

The journal offers a deep dive into the way biased scholarship has distorted our understanding of the issues and produced a climate in which slander of the Jews and their rights isn’t merely treated as acceptable, but normative in higher education.

It is a breath of fresh air when compared to the unhinged polemics against Israel that passes for scholarship in most of academia.

Report: Israeli Academics Tried to Kill German Anti-BDS Law

A group of 56 Jewish and Israeli academics last week tried to persuade Germany not to pass a motion defining BDS as anti-Semitic.

The motion, “Resist the BDS Movement – Fighting Anti-Semitism,” was sponsored by the Bundestag’s two largest parties – the Christian-Democratic Union and the Social Democrat party – as well as the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party.

The motion stated that “the German Bundestag is unwavering in its commitment to condemn and combat anti-Semitism in all its forms,” and will oppose “anyone who defames people because of their Jewish identity […] questions the right of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel to exist or Israel’s right to defend itself.”

The “Call to German Parties Not to Equate BDS With Anti-Semitism” was issued by Jewish and Israeli scholars, many of whom research Jewish history and anti-Semitism, who expressed their “concern about the rise in anti-Semitism around the world, including in Germany.”

Nevertheless, the same group of Jews and Israelis said they “wish to sound alarm about a parallel trend: the growing tendency of labeling supporters of Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic.”

Hebrew University’s International Graduate Professor Spouts Anti-Israel Rhetoric

Newly released recordings from Hebrew University’s international graduate program in human rights reveal how international students are subjected to extreme anti-Israel content, Im Tirtzu revealed on Monday.

In recordings obtained from a course given by senior professor Daphna Golan, co-founder of B’Tselem, she can be heard introducing an array of anti-Israel guest speakers to the students. Among those guest speakers was a representative of the NGO Zochrot—promoting the return of the decedants of 1948 Arab refugees to Israel—who told the class that “most of Israeli society is going more and more in the fascist direction.”

Another speaker, who spoke to the class during a tour of eastern Jerusalem that was arranged by Golan with the anti-Israel NGO Emek Shaveh, said that Israel is arresting and “torturing” Arab children on a “daily basis.”

During another class in which Golan brought the students to the abandoned Arab village of Lifta, the tour guide advocated for the BDS movement.

Lara Alqasem, a former member of the pro-BDS group “Students for Justice in Palestine,” was a student in Hebrew U’s international graduate program. Alqasem was slated for deportation over her anti-Israel advocacy, but was finally permitted to stay by Israel’s high court.

Prof. Golan is known for penalizing students who disagree with her viewpoint, according to Im Tirtzu. In a reflection paper written by a student in response to the class’ tour to Lifta, in which the student disagreed with the guide’s support for BDS, Golan gave the student a zero mark and called his paper “disgraceful” and “unintelligent.”

Reuters Casts Tel Aviv as Palestinian Arab City of Tel ar-Rabeea’ Pre-1948

In an article last week about refugees in the Gaza Strip yearning to return to their family homes which are located now in Israel, Reuters misrepresented Tel Aviv as an Arab city prior to 1948 (“Gaza fisherman clings to dream of return to Jaffa home“). Nidal al-Mughrabi wrote:

Mahmoud Al-Assi comes often to this blue bench. It is one of more than 120 such brightly-coloured concrete seats that line the Gaza seafront, each marked with the name of a town or village in Palestine, before Israel’s creation in 1948.

They bear the Arabic names for Beersheba (Bir as-Saba’), Acre (Akka), and Tel Aviv (Tal ar-Rabeea’) – all towns that now lie in Israel.

Like many of Gaza’s 1.3 million refugees, Assi, 73, visits the coastal benches regularly, as an emotional link to the towns their families left behind or were forced to leave.

There was never a place called Tel ar-Rabeea’ before 1948; that term is merely the literal Arabic translation of the Hebrew name Tel Aviv. The city adopted its Hebrew name as early as 1910 after Nahum Sokolov’s Hebrew translation of Theodor Herzl’s “Altneuland” (old new state in German), and “Tel Aviv” originally appeared in Ezekiel 3:15. The use of Tel al-Rabeea’ as a means to bolster the false claim that there was a Palestinian town by that name emerged in 2010 in both the West Bank and Gaza, and by 2017 it made its way into Palestinian schoolbooks.

BBC News website showcases Paul Danahar’s Middle East narrative

Former BBC Jerusalem bureau chief Paul Danahar however has no such doubts and on May 14th he published an article on the BBC News website’s ‘US & Canada’ and ‘Middle East’ pages titled “Why the WhatsApp spies may have eyes on Iran”.

Readers got some early signposting in the form of the main photograph used to illustrate the article. The image – which has no connection whatsoever to the story itself – was captioned “Young Israeli soldiers take a selfie”.

Danahar opened his article as follows:
“Time to join some dots.

The WhatsApp hack, “sabotaged” oil tankers, the push in the US to proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood and “plans” to deploy American troops to the Gulf are all strands of the same story. At its heart is the struggle between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

Danahar then spent the next seven paragraphs establishing linkage between the Israeli army and tech companies while promoting an unsupported claim regarding the function of intelligence units.

Chicago-area Jewish institutions boost security after arson attempts

Security has been increased around Chicago Jewish institutions after two separate incidents of attempted arson and vandalism targeting local synagogues over the weekend.

Police confirmed that an unknown assailant twice attempted to set fire to Congregation Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood overnight Saturday. Worshipers who arrived Sunday morning reported broken glass and charred black rags outside the building.

No one was injured and no damage was caused to the synagogue.

Chicago police later said they were also investigating vandalism outside a number of synagogues in the city’s West Rogers Park neighborhood after windows of cars parked on the street were smashed.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that Jewish institutions in the city would receive “special attention” while the string of suspected hate crimes were investigated.

The incidents in Chicago come on the heels of three arson attacks targeting Jewish centers in the greater Boston area.

Jewish student union vandalized with swastika at Boston-area high school

The Jewish Student Union sign at a Boston-area high school was vandalized with a swastika.

The swastika was discovered Friday at Brookline High School, a public high school in a near Boston suburb, the CBS affiliate in Boston reported.

“Anti-Semitic vandalism like this is a scary reminder that our work on fostering an inclusive, caring school community where all feel welcome is both ongoing and challenging,” school headmaster Anthony Meyer wrote in a letter to the Brookline community, according to WHDH News 7. “I feel especially for the leaders of our Jewish Student Union who meet weekly with many students to teach and learn about Judaism, discuss Israel advocacy, create new friendships, and share food. Theirs is important work – not to be marred by a symbol with such a long history of hatred, violence, and terror.”

The swastika was discovered after three suspicious fires were set in two different Boston-area Chabad Jewish centers.

US senators introduce bill to boost security funds for synagogues

Two senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to give funds to synagogues and other religious and cultural institutions to help provide additional security against potential terrorist attacks.

US Senators Rob Portman (Republican-Ohio) and Gary Peters (Democrat-Michigan) on Friday introduced Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act, or S. 1539, to authorize $75 million annually for fiscal years 2020-2024, for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

Of the $75 million total, $50 million would be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $25 million will be available for organizations that fall outside of those areas. Under the legislation, funding may be used for making the institution’s building more secure, training for personnel, and any other appropriate activity to increase security.

A letter initiated by Portman was sent earlier this month to the top Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee, seeking a raise to $75 million from $60 million in security funding for religious institutions.

“Ensuring that synagogues, religious and cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations have the resources and training they need to secure their facilities is one way Congress can help address this unnecessary violence that has tragically become more and more common,” Portman said in a statement.

“As I’ve said many times, there is no place for hatred or bigotry of any kind toward our fellow citizens. The threats and attacks we’ve seen across our country are attacks on our values and this bipartisan bill will help protect faith- and cultural-based institutions in Ohio and across our country.”

Jewish reggae sensation Matisyahu celebrates his wedding in New York

Former Chabad Hassid and Jewish reggae sensation Matisyahu married his fiancée Talia Dressler in late-May.

The private backyard wedding was made public by Daniel Zamir, a close friend of Matisyahu, born as Matthew Paul Miller.

“I have traveled to many concerts and many places but it is rarely as exciting as playing at the wedding of a best friend …” Zamir wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I got to play Matisyahu’s first wedding 16 years ago and today I’ve come to New York, New York to play again at, God willing, his last wedding! Good luck to the young couple and to all of the people of Israel with them!”

Zamir posted a video of him playing Od Yishama, a tune often sang during Jewish wedding ceremonies, specifically after the new couple descends from the chuppah. Zamir, an Israeli-born saxophonist has preformed with Matisyahu, and played at his first wedding.

Matisyahu, divorced in 2014, was first married in 2004 to a different woman named Talia. They have two sons, Shalom and Menachem Mendel.

Around the same time as his divorce, Matisyahu shaved off his locks and beard, shocking many of his fans.

“I was affected by all the things people were saying about me – by my own fans and certainly by my own people and the religious community that had seemingly supported me for such a long time,” Matisyahu told the JC in an interview in 2014.

New Documentary Sheds Light on ‘True Renaissance Man,’ Jewish MLB Player Turned WWII Spy Moe Berg

A new documentary set for a nationwide release this week tells the story of Moses “Moe” Berg, a Jewish Major League baseball player who later spied for the US during World War II.

In “The Spy Behind Home Plate,” viewers learn about Berg’s upbringing in Newark, NJ, as the son of Jewish immigrants, his time playing for five teams during baseball’s Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s and his best work — being a wartime spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was the forerunner of the CIA.

Born in 1902, Berg spoke eight languages, was an avid reader of newspapers, earned degrees from Princeton University, Columbia Law School and attended the Sorbonne. He was called the brainiest man in baseball. During his 15-season baseball career, he was part of the last Washington team to play in a World Series, in 1933, and the following year he joined the All-American Baseball Team for an All-Star exhibition tour in Japan with several future Hall of Famers, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Berg spied for the US government in Europe and playing a large role in America’s efforts to undermine the German atomic bomb program during WWII. He took secret pictures of Tokyo during his baseball trip there in 1934 and later covertly traveled to Switzerland to investigate how close German physicist Werner Heisenberg was to developing an atomic bomb for the Nazis. In later OSS projects, he helped sabotage Nazi efforts to make a workable bomb.

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