July 13, 2020

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05/26 Links Pt2: If You Want to Criticize Israel, First Support Its Right to Exist; Chinese Embassy In France Tweets and Deletes Anti-Semitic Imagery

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/05/0526-links-pt2-if-you-want-to-criticize.html

From Ian:


If You Want to Criticize Israel, First Support Its Right to Exist
Members of these anti-Israel groups do not want to have a conversation, because they realize they do not have facts to support their arguments.

For example, they ignore that the Jewish people are indigenous to Israel by overlooking the reality that there has been a continual Jewish presence in Israel for the past 3,000 years. They also ignore that the name “Palestine” was actually given to the territory by Roman conquerors who overtook the land in 70 CE.

Anti-Israel campus groups attempt to economically strangle Israel through BDS campaigns by stating that Israel is a racist nation. Evidence, however, shows that half of Israel’s Jews are not white, and that one out of every five Israelis is not a Jew. This minority group consists mostly of Israeli Arabs, who are provided with the same rights as Jews and serve in its government at all levels.

Further adding to this list of factually incorrect arguments, anti-Zionists claim that Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, is standing in the way of peace in the Middle East. This misconception completely disregards the five times Israel has officially offered land in exchange for peace, which were all summarily rejected.

These facts are not presented as proof that Israel is a perfect nation. Like any country in the world, Israel faces its own difficulties and deserves to be criticized for its faults.

However, instead of being evaluated equally, Israel is constantly singled out by those who seek to harm its existence. As a result of this injustice, antisemitism continues to rise as Jews face increased attacks against both them and the Jewish state.

For those who seek to criticize Israel, all that I ask is for you to hold it to the same standard you choose to apply to all countries. I ask that you support its right to exist to allow it to make improvements, instead of advocating for the destruction that erases its ability to do so.

The myth of the Good Dutchman

Sometimes a remark of a person in a minor publication sheds major light on an important national characteristic. Twenty years ago, Dutch-Israeli author, Miriam Dubi Gazan, interviewed the Dutch Ambassador in Israel, Como van Hellenberg-Hubar for the Dutch-Jewish “Joods Journaal”. The article focused on the behavior of the Dutch during the Second World War.

By the time that article was published, historians had already proven that in the occupied Netherlands those who resisted or opposed the Germans had been a small minority of the population. Most people were indifferent. Many had collaborated in one way or another. Those included high ranking government officials, the police, municipalities, the majority of the supreme court, railroad leaders, and a multitude of others.

Nevertheless, the myth of the ‘good Dutchman’ during the war spread internationally. The diary of Anne Frank played an important role in this misrepresentation. She had been hidden with her family and others by good Dutch people in Amsterdam. Much less emphasis was given to their betrayal, probably by another Dutchman which led to her death.

Van Hellenberg-Hubar stated in the interview: “I am of the opinion that the myth of the ‘good Dutchman’ can have a positive effect. A myth can serve as an ideal picture. A picture which one has to meet. The positive norm, which the myth contains, is part of the norms and values in the Netherlands. If one effects the myth, the danger that the norm in this case, tolerance, also is effected. Tolerance is in essence not self-understood but a consequence of a conscious choice to give space to another. On that one has to work. Starting to deconstruct the myth can in this context be problematic.”

What he said can be summarized as: “I am in favor of lying to embellish the Dutch past. We should lie or at least remain silent about its ugly sides.” Once one applies this view as a prism on Dutch society many of the attitudes of the country’s leaders during the past decades become much clearer.

‘Call of Duty’: Modern warfare’s Middle Eastern politics of ignorance

WHEN IT COMES to the countries in the Middle East, however, “It becomes much more politically fraught, politically complex…. When you talk about spending a whole bunch of time in this Middle Eastern country, where we’re going to be tracking down the terrorist leader and working alongside freedom fighters in that country, we just didn’t want to get wrapped up in the politics of any specific real world country.

“That’s because, number one, we don’t know enough about the politics of any given country to be able to do it respectfully. And number two, it would tie our hands as developers where we have these ideas of emotionally impactful narrative moments, exciting game-play moments, and we want to be able to bring those to the screen without having to worry about, ‘Well, that’s not accurate to this conflict. That thing didn’t really happen.’” This answer amounts to nothing more than complete nonsense. Infinity Ward brought in consultants from the US military and others to get every aspect of the weaponry in the game just right, but they couldn’t bring in a single political scientist, historian or sociologist familiar with the Middle East? The company has other games set in real political contexts with fictional details, such as when Russia invades America in a prior Call of Duty game. That didn’t really happen in real life now, did it? Using Jacob Minkoff’s logic, why didn’t Infinity War ever have a fictional stand-in for America? Just like they fused elements of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Chechnya in the 1990s and Syria today to create “Uzrikstan,” the fictional America in earlier Call of Duty games could have looked like America, but with a population that speaks German and dresses like they do in France – “Gerfransica” perhaps.

But that sounds ridiculous, right? Does it sound more ridiculous than “Uzrikstan,” the mountainous Arab “Middle Eastern” state on the northeastern Black Sea coast that grows poppies and has no religion? It gets worse, unfortunately. The game developers told The Guardian newspaper last year that one of the protagonists for their single player campaign, “Farah Karim,” was inspired by the female Kurdish fighters in Syria today. Yet in the game, she’s suddenly Arab (because everyone in the Middle East is Arab and lives in a desert, apparently).

The Kurds in Syria have been badly oppressed by Arab nationalist regimes since the 1950s, and today most are proud that in contrast to Arab political groups across the region, women in many of their movements take on real leadership roles.

For Infinity Ward to take this example and flip it on its head seems plain wrong.

StandWithUs: Israel, Africa, and Beyond

South Africa is known to be ground zero for the BDS movement, home to some of the most aggressive anti-Israel activity and host to infamous international conferences solely aimed at bashing Israel. Join us as we chat with Olga Meshoe-Washington, a proud pro-Israel advocate and head of Defend Embrace Invest(in) Support Israel (DEISI) International. She has long been a steadfast ally in standing up for Israel and supporting StandWithUs delegations and educational activity to counter anti-Israel campaigns in her country of birth. A well-known international speaker on the subject, Olga will discuss her unique perspective on the Christian mandate to stand with Israel, her personal experience countering delegitimization of Israel, and what others can do to support Israel in their communities.

The Problem with Trump and Henry Ford’s ‘Good Bloodlines’

One wishes the president of the United States would have more than a passing familiarity with American history. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect Trump to know that Henry Ford was America’s worst promulgator of antisemitism in the 1920s — for which Adolf Hitler praised him, by name, in the pages of Mein Kampf. Or that Ford accepted Nazi Germany’s highest award for foreigners, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, in 1938. Still, Trump’s advisers and speechwriters have an obligation to keep him fully informed.

The more disturbing question, however, pertains to President Trump’s references to “good blood.” Granted, he inserted the caveat, “if you believe in that stuff.” But the very fact that he brought it up unprovoked — and the fact that he has made similar remarks in the past — suggests that he does “believe in that stuff.”

In 2016, Mr. Trump told British business leaders that they have “good bloodlines” and “amazing DNA.” At a rally in Mississippi that year, he said, “I have great genes and all that stuff, which I’m a believer in.” In a 2014 documentary, he said, “I’m proud to have that German blood, there’s no question about it. Great stuff.”

Some of his statements regarding genes and blood concern his uncle, the late Dr. John Trump. As a presidential candidate in 2015, he asserted at one rally that he has “good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart,” as supposedly proven by the fact that his uncle was a professor at MIT. Earlier this year, President Trump said he believes he has “a natural ability” in the field of medicine because his uncle “was a great super genius.”

The idea that a person’s abilities and behavior are determined chiefly by their “blood” or genes was widespread in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It went hand in glove with the notion that whites from northern Europe were a superior race that was under siege by inferior races from Africa, Asia, and southern and eastern Europe.

Such attitudes extended even to the White House. Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1897 — just a few years before he became president — that it was important to “keep for the white race the best portion of the new world’s surface.” He insisted it was the responsibility of “Anglo-Saxon women” to bear children “numerous enough so that the race shall increase and not decrease.”

Turning Babi Yar Into Holocaust Disneyland

The process for entering the Babyn Yar memorial—a veritable labyrinth—would be the same as that for entering DAU. Visitors would first submit to an invasive and humiliating questionnaire, based on the answers to which, one’s experiences would be assembled by a computer program—merely be the first of a series of power moves and minor cruelties to be inflicted in the course of providing a bespoke Holocaust reenactment experience. Just as in the Stanford experiment, visitors would be assigned either the role of “guards” or “prisoners”: Some would play act at being Nazis, others taking on the role of Jews or local (collaborationist) auxiliary police. Cutting-edge technology would be used to create the innovative experience, as visitors would wear reality glasses and would move through the exhibition making decisions that would open up new storytelling arcs. One’s own face might be projected by “deep fake” or hologram technology onto a Nazi camp guard as he committed acts of torture. Depending on one’s choices, one might arrive at a cafeteria that fed one the luxurious food reserved for Nazi officials, or the rotten gruel ladled out to prisoners. It was as if Alice had fallen down the rabbit hole and arrived in Sobibor.

Yet for all of Khrzhanovsky’s eccentricity, and the self-consciously amoral bravado of his approach, the technological innovations underlying his proposal were merely taking recent contemporary innovations in Holocaust memorialization to their grotesque logical conclusion. Khrzhanovsky’s approach may have been consciously brutal, but it underlined the core tension that has always underpinned all Holocaust education programs: The actual experiences are so unimaginable and lay so far outside of our own everyday lived experience, that to impart what really took place requires bringing an individual as near to total annihilation and metaphysical evil as is possible—without actually killing them, or having them kill someone else.

Done “right,” the mimetic replication of the Holocaust experience would cause universal post-traumatic stress and intergenerational trauma, which is generally why we don’t do it. In January a Jewish Ukrainian acquaintance with whom I was discussing the project half-jokingly theorized that every 10th visitor to Khrzhanovsky’s Babyn Yar center would be buried alive.

So how did a trickster provocateur known for blurring the line between life and sadomasochistic-film movie sets ever get appointed to oversee the presentation of a Holocaust memorial? The initiative to create the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center was announced during the state-sponsored 75th anniversary commemorations in September of 2016 (Tablet attended the event). The majority of the budget for the projected center, estimated at at least $100 million, would be provided by four Ukrainian Jewish businessman: German Khan, Mikhail Fridman, Victor Pinchuk, and Pavel Fuks. Though at least two of these men had numerous family members who were shot at Babyn Yar, the Russian provenance of at least some of their capital—all except Pinchuk have lived in Moscow, and made the lion’s share of their fortunes there—would become a source of popular controversy and criticism in Kyiv.

Israel’s Coronavirus Death Toll Is 281

The Health Ministry on Monday evening confirmed a second Israeli death from COVID-19 in 24 hours, the first fatalities in five days, bringing the total death toll to 281.

There were no details given on the identities of the deceased.

The total number of infections recorded in Israel since the start of the pandemic was 16,734, an increase of 17 since Sunday, with 14,307 people having recovered.

According to the Health Ministry, 41 people were in serious condition, 29 of whom were on ventilators.

Another 30 people were in moderate condition and the rest of the 2,146 active cases had mild symptoms.

The ministry said 3,613 tests were carried out the previous day, far below Israel’s testing capabilities.

Recent weeks have seen a sharp drop-off in the number of new virus cases, with the country lifting restrictions on movement, businesses and educational institutions.

Phone Surveillance Detected a Third of Israel’s Covid-19 Cases

The new report revealed by Calcalist provides a peek into the ISA’s capabilities and the number of Israelis that were exposed to tracking by the secretive agency. Up until now, the only number that had been published was revealed two months ago, two weeks after the start of the program, with the ISA saying at the time that it identified around 500 coronavirus cases.

According to the report, since the start of the ISA’s involvement, the health ministry asked it for information on 16,587 Israelis who tested positive for Covid-19, 322 of them in the week that ended on May 10. In all, the ISA provided information on 11,889 cases, 156 in the week that ended on May 10.

Some 80,072 text messages informing people that they had been in contact with a carrier were sent out, including 1,217 in the week between May 3-10. “The process of sending out text messages and making calls to people who may have been exposed to coronavirus and didn’t report that they had gone into quarantine on the health ministry’s website was fully operational from May 3. So far (as of May 10), 5,592 texts were sent out, with calls by a human operator being made from May 7 to those who still hadn’t responded after two text reminders. On May 7 there were 93 calls made in all and as a result 34%, or 32 people, filled out a quarantine form as required.”

Another section of the report attempts to analyze the effectiveness of the ISA’s spying tools. “The ISA’s system has justified itself with the early detection of a third of all verified cases…the ISA has the capability to reach many more people who may have been in contact with a verified case (at least twice as many as human investigations), and therefore has significantly better capabilities to stop the infection rate. Of all verified cases, at least 4,089 were identified exclusively by the ISA. A similar number (4,688) was identified through human investigations, but most of those were cases of close family members. We are continuing to track the advantages of this system in light of the gradual opening of the economy and the easing of restrictions on most of the population, which is expected to result in a rising number of people who were in contact with any new verified case.”

2 drugs for Gaucher’s disease also fight COVID-19, Israeli defense lab finds

The Defense Ministry-run Institute for Biological Research has found two drugs used to treat a genetic disorder known as Gaucher’s disease are also effective against the coronavirus and potentially other viruses as well, the laboratory announced Tuesday.

As one of these drugs — Cerdelga — has already been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration and the second — Venglustat — has almost completed the approval process, they may be fast-tracked for use with COVID-19 patients, the Defense Ministry said.

In the proposed antiviral treatment, the two drugs would be taken together.

“The two drugs under development are currently being tested for their effectiveness in treating animals infected with the coronavirus,” the ministry said.

The defense laboratory, which is based in Ness Ziona, has already published the results of a study of the treatment on mice, though the article has yet to be peer-reviewed.

The study on mice found that the medications inhibited the replication of the viruses in the bodies of the infected animals.

In addition to being effective against the coronavirus, the treatment was also found to work against three other viruses, Neuroinvasive Sindbis virus, West Nile virus and Influenza A virus, the researchers wrote.

“This indicates their potential in treating various viral diseases effectively — including future outbreaks of new viruses — once they are clinically approved,” the ministry wrote.

Chinese Embassy In France Tweets and Deletes Anti-Semitic Imagery

The Chinese embassy in France on Sunday tweeted, and then quickly deleted, an anti-Semitic image portraying the United States and Israel as the grim reaper knocking on Hong Kong’s door.

The image, which has been circulating online among anti-Semites for some time, depicts the United States as the grim reaper holding a scythe with Israel’s flag. Countries such as Syria, Venezuela, Libya, and Iraq are portrayed as places where America and Israel have caused death and destruction. The picture reads, “Who’s next?” in French, with the grim reaper approaching a door with Hong Kong written on it.

China has been ramping up its anti-U.S. rhetoric as it cracks down on democratic protesters in Hong Kong. A new national security law forwarded by Beijing would significantly expand the country’s spy apparatus and specifically target protesters who have taken to the streets.

China’s embassy in France released a statement on its website claiming its Twitter feed was hacked. The country said it is a victim of “fake news.” The statement did not identify anyone or group the country suspects of posting the tweet.

The distribution of anti-Semitic images, like those posted by China’s embassy, runs afoul of French laws.

“The Chinese Embassy in France has found that yesterday, someone used the Embassy’s official Twitter account to post a picture captioned ‘Qui est le prochain?’ [who is next?],” read the Chinese-language statement.

“We hereby solemnly declare: That picture violates French law and we strongly condemn such activity that damages the reputation of the Chinese embassy,” according to the Chinese embassy. “Our embassy’s duty is to comprehensively, accurately, and objectively introduce China and promote friendship between the China and France.”

Emily Bruyere, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Free Beacon that China’s anti-Semitic rhetoric has become increasingly frequent. (h/t MtTB)

Israeli innovation in the face of COVID-19 conspiracy theories and antisemitism

One story that grabbed a little international attention this past week was about a study on conspiracy theories out of Oxford University. While NPR reported how three in five believe their government is misleading them and one in five think the virus is a hoax, Newsweek and Daily Express (and the Jewish press) dug in a bit more, reported that one in five Brits believe that Jews created COVID-19. Even without quantifying what is going on in England, we know antisemitism in the U.S. is the highest ever on record and is growing everywhere, as are conspiracy theories. On Tuesday, PBS will be airing a new documentary, Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations, which likens the spread of antisemitism to that of an illness. All I know is that the intersection between antisemitism and the growth of COVID-19 conspiracy theories is worrisome. As The Oxford study showed, people who believe in these theories tend not to observe social distancing or wear masks. As the virus spreads, so will their antipathy towards whomever they blame.

I read some other headlines in The Times of Israel and elsewhere – stories of good news, of innovation, of trying to invest energy not in blaming others using cries of liberty while endangering fellow members of society but in trying to find multi-pronged ways to lessen the damage of this insidious virus. Thought I’d share some with you.

An Israeli filed for a US patent for his innovative USB-powered technology for turning disposable masks into self-cleaning masks. This could be a boon to hospitals and to the environment.

And then there is the Israeli polymer disinfectant which could keep surfaces virus-free for months at a time. Scientists are at an advanced stage in its development, has not yet been peer-reviewed but hopes to be in manufacturing by year end. This could be a game changer for public spaces, like mass transit and schools.

Among the multiplicity of COVID-19 test kits, antibody test kits and antigen test kits, there are a few Israeli products in the works. The Technion’s rapid home test for the virus should be rolled out shortly. Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s device can innovatively test one’s breath or nasal or throat swaps and return results in under a minute. It is undergoing validation now and should be in production in the fall. Elsewhere an Israeli team found an antibody which can attack the virus; once they are done patenting it, they will seek an international company to partner with.

Another way to combat spread is to identify where it is going or who is more likely to be harder hit. Israel’s largest health fund (like an insurance company) partnered with a company whose algorithm can analyze anonymized patient data to help detect higher risk for complications. If one of those patients contacts a doctor with any related symptom, he or she will be immediately tested. The company is talking to interested American providers now too. As well, health officials are monitoring the country’s sewage; wastewater can serve as a flag for a possible second wave.

Meet Stephen Reicher: The ‘independent scientist’ on the Government SAGE committee

Stephen Reicher is the so-called “independent scientist” on the Government’s SAGE committee who has been the most prominent in the campaign against Cummings and Boris Johnson. In fact, he is not a scientist at all. He is a social psychology professor. And, as for his ‘independence’, here he is in his own words on Twitter (screenshot in case he takes it all down). First, regarding Boris and Cummings:

When he uses his credentials “as a Jew” to spread anti-Israel propaganda and demand it should be boycotted, he seems to rely on antisemites for his material:

As you would expect he is a big fan of Corbyn

And of course he has an obsessive hatred of Donald Trump

There’s plenty more on his twitter feed @ReicherStephen.
Reicher is by no means unusual of the Government’s ‘scientific/academic’ advisors. SAGE is completely dominated by people with exactly the same worldview.

Norwegian Parliament Rejects Move to Label Israeli Products Made in West Bank

The Norwegian Parliament rejected a motion to label imported Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria, Israel Hayom learned Monday. The bill was presented two weeks ago by left-wing parties, including the Norwegian Labor Party, but was voted down by the coalition parties and other non-affiliated parties in the Oslo legislator.

The European Union’s top court ruled in November 2019 that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels. However, as Norway is not a member of the European Union, it is not obligated by the decrees rendered by the European Court of Justice.

The EU rejects Israel’s settlement enterprise, saying it undermines the hopes for a two-state solution. Israel maintains that labeling goods produced beyond the Green Line is discriminatory and says other countries involved in disputes over land are not similarly sanctioned.

During the bill’s reading Israel’s friends in the Norwegian Parliament spoke clearly of the need for cooperation over economic boycotts, and underscored Norway’s long-standing contribution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The MPs opposing the bill stressed that any boycott of Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria would actually harm the Palestinian workers, whom Norway wants to help.

Sunday’s vote was the culmination of an ongoing campaign in which Norwegian NGOs attempted to bring about a decision to boycott goods produced in Judea and Samaria across Norway. These efforts were an attempt to follow up on a decision made a few years ago by the country’s largest workers union to boycott settlement goods.

The latter is still trying to get other unions in Norway and across Europe to boycott products manufactured in Judea and Samaria.

The Times of London Presents Palestinian Propaganda as “History”

An article in The Times on May 26 criticized comments by Richard Lyle, a member of the Scottish Parliament, who called the Palestinian “Nakba” a “self-inflicted tragedy, which must, after all these years, be finally resolved by peaceful means and discussions between the parties involved.”

After quoting pro-Palestinian activists who labeled Lyle’s comments as “racist,” The Times political editor Kieran Andrews claims: “Historians argue that [the 1948 war] was largely driven by Israeli aggression, including rape and torture, and to a much lesser degree by local Palestinian authorities urging people to flee.” However, The Times editor doesn’t provide the names of historians who made such a risible claim.

Let’s remember that the 1948 war was fought by Israel to fend off Arab campaigns to annihilate the Jewish state immediately after its birth – a mere three years after one out of every three Jews on the planet were murdered in the Holocaust. Their objective wasn’t to adjust the borders, but another genocide.

As the Arab League’s secretary-general warned, the war against the Jews would be “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.” To refer to Jews’ efforts to defend themselves from annihilation as Jewish aggression represents a moral and historical inversion of the highest order.

Historian Benny Morris has demonstrated that there was no Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinian Arabs, and that most Palestinians who fled did so to escape the fighting or because Arab leaders ordered them to do so. “Had the Israelis committed systematic ethnic cleansing,” he argued, “there would not be 1.4 million Arabs in Israel today.”

The ugly caricature of Israeli Jews and egregious distortion of the Arab-Israeli War presented to The Times’ readers represents another example of crude Palestinian propaganda being disguised as serious journalism.

BBC News reports from the Israeli courts it claimed are closed

In late March we noted that viewers of the BBC News channel had been wrongly informed that Israel’s prime minister had “shut down the courts”:

BBC NEWS CHANNEL GROSSLY MISLEADS ON ISRAELI COURTS

The BBC initially responded to our complaint concerning that inaccurate information by claiming that the programme was not BBC content. A second complaint was submitted but we have not heard from BBC Complaints on that topic since April 1st.

BBC COMPLAINTS: BBC PROGRAMME IS NOT BBC OUTPUT

A similar inaccurate claim concerning “closure of the courts” appeared in an article published on the BBC News website on March 31st:

THE BBC, CORONAVIRUS AND POPULATION DENSITY

A complaint was also submitted concerning that article and on May 11th BBC Complaints informed us that they had “not been able to reply to your complaint within the time period we aim for”.

Meanwhile, the BBC has managed in the past week to produce several reports concerning cases heard in the very courts it claimed are ‘closed’:

May 18th BBC News website: ‘Israeli convicted of West Bank arson attack that killed three Palestinians’

May 24th BBC News website: ‘Netanyahu trial: Israeli prime minister faces Jerusalem court’

AP Corrects After Calling Gaza ‘World’s Largest Muslim Nation’

There are some 2 million people in the Gaza Strip, all but approximately 1000 of them Muslims. According to Pew Research, there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, with the largest population in Indonesia, with close to 220 million Muslims. Pew reports that there are 195 million in India, 184 million in Pakistan, and 144 million in Bangladesh. Even if West Bank and Jerusalem Muslims are included together with the Gaza Strip, there are approximately Palestinian Muslims in these three locations combined, which amounts to some 29 million Muslims less than Iraq’s population, which is the 10th largest Muslim population in the world. Gaza’s Muslim population constitutes approximately a tenth of a percent of the global Muslim population.

In response to communication from CAMERA, AP quickly and commendably corrected the captions in the news agency’s photo archive. The amended captions now refers to “[m]illions of Muslims worldwide” marking Eid al-Fitr, as opposed to millions of Muslims in the “world’s largest nation,” misidentified as the Gaza Strip. The new captions, which carry a prominent “Correction” heading, read, for example:
CORRECTS TO CLARIFY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN MUSLIM NATIONS NOT GAZA – Muslims wearing face masks attend the Eid al-Fitr prayers outside a mosque in Gaza City, Sunday, May 24, 2020. Millions of Muslims worldwide are marking a muted and gloomy religious festival of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan — a usually joyous three-day celebration that has been significantly toned down as coronavirus cases soar.

Unfortunately, despite the correction, the photo agency’s error still appears on some news sites, such as US News & World Report, The Daily Herald (Chicago), and The Charlotte Observer, among others. CAMERA is reaching out to these media outlets to alert them to AP’s correction and to urge them to likewise correct, and will update this post as more corrections appear.

The absurdly inaccurate assertion that the Gaza Strip is the “world’s largest Muslim nation” is no more credible than the AP’s entirely baseless claim last week that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “has always been opposed to violence.” The news agency has taken no steps to set the record straight on the latter fabrication.

Antisemitic banner hung on home facing London Sephardi Jewish cemetery

An antisemitic banner reading “Welcome to the Zionist Police State” was taken down after it was hung outside a house overlooking a Jewish cemetery in Mile End, a neighborhood in East London.

A picture of the banner was originally published by Gabriel Pogrund, a reporter for The Sunday Times. Labour MP Wes Streeting later tweeted that the banner had been taken down thanks to the Metropolitan Police and Tower Hamlets Council.

Local Councillor Kevin Brady called the incident “utterly disgusting” and Councillor Eve McQuillan tweeted that she had raised the issue with the police, the council and Tower Hamlets Homes, assuring that it would be “removed ASAP.”

McQuillan later updated that the banner had been removed and that police were investigating the incident.

Streeting, McQuillan and Brady are all members of the Labour Party, which has been the subject of scrutiny itself concerning allegations of antisemitism.

The banner was hung on a home facing the Novo Beth Chaim Cemetery, one of only two exclusively Sephardic Jewish cemeteries remaining in London.
Benjamin D’Israeli, grandfather of the prime minister with the same name, and Daniel Mendoza, a famous English-Sephardi Jewish prizefighter in the 18th century, are buried at the cemetery.

In absence of The Canadian Jewish News, writers unite to forge new voice

After the loss of The Canadian Jewish News, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress Bernie Farber, along with author and reporter Ron Csillag, founded the Canadian Jewish Record – assembling a team to fill the “void in the absence of a Canadian Jewish voice.”

“Like so many others, we were hit hard by the loss of The Canadian Jewish News. The coronavirus collided with greatly diminished advertising revenue and ever fewer subscribers to kill off Canada’s only national Jewish voice,” the founders wrote on their website.

“Journalists, academics, pundits, communal personalities and others have come together and donated their time to develop this online presence. It is a modest effort (for now) but one needed in a time when so many hunger for Jewish information,” they said.

Canada’s flagship national Jewish newspaper of record, The Canadian Jewish News became a coronavirus casualty after it announced that its April 9 issue would be its last after 60 years of publication.

“Unfortunately, we too have become a victim of COVID-19,” president Elizabeth Wolfe said in an official statement Thursday on the CJN website. “Already struggling, we are not able to sustain the enterprise in an environment of almost complete economic shutdown.”

“There is no other paper. This was it,” Farber told the National Post.

“So, along with everything else that’s going on right now, this just adds another layer of sadness.”

Israel’s northernmost start-up hub opens in Upper Galilee

Israel’s northernmost hub for promising hi-tech start-ups opened its doors yesterday in Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border.

Located in a once-abandoned office space in the peripheral city, the launch of the city’s first space for start-ups follows a collaboration between the local municipality, the Economy Ministry’s Small and Medium Business Agency, Jerusalem Venture Partners founder and chairman Erel Margalit and Maof Tech.

The hub will welcome start-ups participating in the XLR8 start-up program, an acceleration program operated by National Initiative (ii2020) – also led by Margalit – in collaboration with technology giants including Cisco, Amazon and Facebook.

In addition to welcoming start-ups, the center will also represent a facility for hi-tech companies based in central Israel but which are interested in expanding operations to northern Israel, based on the success of remote work operations during the coronavirus outbreak. Resident entrepreneurs will gain access to workspaces, advanced video conferencing technologies, workshops and connections to potential investors and customers.

“I welcome the opening of the first start-up hub in Kiryat Shmona,” said Ran Kaviti, director of the Economy Ministry’s Small and Medium Business Agency. “It is an important project that, over the years, will become a greenhouse for start-ups and local entrepreneurs. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of a strong local economy, making the opening of the hub at this time highly significant.”

Can Israeli Company SafeMode’s Focus on Professional Drivers Make Roads Safer?

It was a tragedy that hit close to the heart that put Ido Levy on his current path. After the mother of a good friend was crushed to death by a truck operated by a driver distracted by his cellphone, Levy felt the urge to do whatever he could to prevent similar accidents in the future. Levy was an officer at the IDF’s Counter-Terrorism school at the time, but after seven years of army service, he shifted course, setting up SafeMode, incorporated as Rehapp, with the goal of changing the behavior of drivers, particularly those behind the wheel of large vehicles for long hours like truck and bus drivers.

SafeMode’s behavior-based software provides actionable insights into fleet and driver behavior by accessing driving data, coaching features, and monetary incentive programs to follow safety and efficiency improvements. The platform has already been successfully implemented in several truck and bus fleets in Israel, achieving a reduction in incidents and road accidents, and savings in fuel consumption, as well as an increase in user satisfaction and retention.

Earlier this month, SafeMode, which was founded in 2017, received a $100,000 grant to pilot its platform in the US state of Michigan. SafeMode was one of four companies picked by PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Together with the Volvo Group and Transdev, SafeMode will pilot its driver-centric platform in Lansing, Mich. SafeMode was connected to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem through the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA).

“We put the focus on the driver. There are many companies out there that track drivers with sensors or provide fleet management software and know everything that is happening in the vehicle. But it is very difficult to take that info and convert it into action and a behavioral change. That is what is missing in the market right now,” Ido Levy told CTech last week. “There is plenty of information and diagnostics, and vehicles are better maintained than ever, but the driver isn’t part of this process. We developed an engagement platform that connects the drivers to the process and makes them want to drive in a safer and more efficient manner because they will also benefit from it. We built a monetary incentive program that gives the drivers bonuses based on their performance. The less you use your phone, the less the engine is running, the bigger distance you keep on the road — the bigger the bonus you will receive. Our goal is to ultimately create a driver-centric platform that drivers will love.”



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