Burning money: the urgent need to rethink UNRWA
Bureaucratic, badly managed, constantly overspending, UNRWA is almost always in a state of crisis and in the need of a bail out. And not only does it get one every year, but it receives its yearly lifeline without being obligated to restructure or reform. This is not to say that UNRWA does not do good work. It does plenty. Shelter, healthcare and education benefit millions not only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. There’s also emergency relief, sanitation and psychological support for the 1948 Palestinian refugees (and to some extent 1967 refugees), and their descendants.
But here lies the problem. Instead of weaning refugees from dependency as was originally intended, over the course of decades Palestinians became reliant on UNRWA, whose operational definition of a ‘refugee’ includes the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the original refugees. In doing so, instead of encouraging the resettlement and rehabilitation of descendants of the original refugees, UNRWA, with the support of western nations, has perpetuated their misery.
And then there’s UNRWA’s less than savoury activities. During Israel’s 2014 war against Hamas in Gaza, for example, there were several cases of UNRWA facilities (schools or hospitals) being used by militants to hide missiles to be fired at civilians in Israeli towns. There have been cases of UNRWA summer camps being named after terrorists and numerous occasions of UNRWA teachers inciting anti-Semitic violence. This led the government of Canada’s then Prime Minister Stephen Harper to cease funding UNRWA, a policy reversed by his successor Justin Trudeau in 2016.
And here lies the dilemma. While UNRWA provides essential services to millions of Palestinians and the humanitarian consequences of ceasing such work would no doubt be dire, UNRWA is also an obstacle to peace as it perpetuates one of the most intractable aspects of the Arab-Israeli impasse, the Palestinian refugee problem. Not only is the institutional reform and restructuring of UNRWA essential, but so are its very aims and objectives. The international community should reappraise the role of UNRWA before other countries follow Trump and Harper and cut funding.
Michael Lumish: Democratic Party Anti-Jewish Trends
The Democratic Party and the progressive-left is becoming increasingly hostile toward the nation-state of the Jewish people.
This has been coming for decades.
If you look at this 2018 poll from the Pew Research Center you will see that currently, about 79 percent of Republicans favor Israel, while the great majority of Democrats do not. Only 27 percent of Democrats favor the Jews in the Middle East versus their racist, misogynistic, theocratic Islamist enemies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, if not the Palestinian Authority.
And we might keep in mind that many those same people are not just hostile toward Israel – for “social justice” reasons, no less – but toward the United States, as well.
In a recent Facebook comment, I referenced the fact that “it is definitely true that Republicans are more supportive of Israel than are Democrats. It’s not even close.” And I used the Pew Research Center image above as significant evidence of that fact.
Brendan O’Neill: No, Islamophobia is not the new anti‑Semitism
It is the definition of historical illiteracy to compare Islamophobia to anti-Semitism. And yet that is what is happening. People who feel put out by the discussion of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and possibly even envious of the attention that anti-Jewish prejudice is receiving in comparison with anti-Muslim prejudice, have taken to saying: ‘What about the cancer of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party? When are we talking about that?’ They fail to realise the fundamental difference between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: the former is one of the world’s oldest hatreds and has caused the deaths of millions of people; the latter is a word invented by the Runnymede Trust in 1997 to demonise criticism of Islam.
The speed with which public attention has been dragged from the serious problem of a new anti-Semitism in certain left-wing circles, and focused instead on what a Guardian writer describes as Britain’s ‘foundational corruption’ of Islamophobia, has been extraordinary. And telling. It speaks to a tendency among Muslim community leaders – not ordinary Muslims – to muscle in on Jewish suffering. Self-elected spokespeople for Britain’s Muslims have a tendency to bristle at any suggestion that hatred for Jews might be a specific, pronounced problem. So when Holocaust Memorial Day was set up in 2001, it was boycotted by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) on the basis that it wasn’t ‘inclusive’ – that is, it didn’t refer to Muslim suffering, such as at Srebrenica. And now the same MCB has responded to the public discussion of left anti-Semitism effectively by saying, ‘What about Islamophobia?’.
Any public focus on Jewish pain seems to invite from the MCB and other Muslim leaders the almost Pavlovian response of: ‘What about Muslim pain?’ It’s a creepy competitiveness, almost identitarian jealousy, that has the impact, intentional or not, of downplaying the problem of anti-Semitism. I mean, if you are going to balk even at the idea that the Holocaust was a uniquely horrific crime, the greatest crime of the 20th century, then you have signed up, whether wittingly or unwittingly, for an effort at least to relativise anti-Semitism.
Algerian Intellectual Rachid Benaïssa: The West Has No Alternative But Islam pic.twitter.com/8e0JuCcyHR
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) June 7, 2018
For decades, pro-Israel organizations have been teaching students how to argue on behalf of Israel; they equip students with talking points, facts and figures, data sheets and detailed pamphlets on the conflict, on the innovations of Israel and on the obstacles to peace in the region. In short, they’ve been teaching students how to litigate on behalf of Israel. But this approach fails to cultivate affinity and identification with Israel and Israeli society; by affinity and identification, I mean that warm feeling of relatability and empathy which is the foundation of a healthy relationship and which enables young Jews to construct their own role within Jewish peoplehood. Instead, litigation creates an unhealthy sense that Israel is merely a political abstraction and identifying with it simply means combating BDS resolutions or eating falafel on Yom Haatzmaut. This is a starting point, but it is not enough — and it is not Israel education.
Instead of teaching students how to litigate the conflict, we should be teaching students how to love Israelis and Israeli culture.
I work at Jerusalem U, an Israel educational organization that uses digital media to deliver educational content to young Jews, connecting them to the country and to the people of Israel through films, digital shorts, and the like. I speak at day schools, universities and community events across the country on topics like Jewish culture, Israel affinity and conflict resolution. Through my interactions with students in both high school and college, I have seen firsthand how the old paradigm doesn’t work. For example trying to combat BDS resolutions will not work on a campus that sees the stigmatization of Israelis as a virtue instead of a vice. What is needed then is to attack the act of stigmatizing any community in the first place.
As a result, I recently developed a framework that revolutionizes the way we talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s called the “Theory of Enchantment,” and its mission is to create discussions that promote empathy while ensuring that neither community is ostracized in the process.
For the most part, Israel supporters’ response on campus has remained reactive, studied and overly cerebral. They are rightfully jubilant when BDS resolutions are voted down. But, in reality, whether they pass or fail is irrelevant. This tactic fulfills its objective — exposing the student community to a constant barrage of anti-Israel invective which, over time, will alter public and political consciousness.
But things may be changing. A few pro-Israel groups are starting to take the fight to the haters, using opposition strategies against them.
Founded by two University of Minnesota Israeli undergraduates, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) connects with students by appealing to emotion, believing, as the opposition does, that feelings are more powerful than facts. They have selectively co-opted enemy tactics and use language and symbolism as assertive as that of SJP. Fighting back with verbal krav maga, to quote SSI.
Columbia University’s SSI launched “Hebrew Liberation Week” during Israel Apartheid Week. They wore blue and white kefiyahs symbolizing the indigenous Jewish connection to Israel, designed “liberation-style” graphics and displayed a logo of King David’s Star and Shield.
In Oliver Stone’s laughable JFK, the murder of the slain president’s brother Robert Kennedy is treated as further vindication for the director’s madcap thesis that JFK was killed by the military industrial complex for attempting to withdraw American military officials from Vietnam.
RFK, Stone asserted in the movie, was likewise murdered by sinister government forces for the same reason. Incredibly, it’s a theory that many still promote. But to those of us who prefer observable facts to madcap conspiracy theories, RFK’s assassination, 50 years ago today, offers far more satisfying lessons.
RFK’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, supplied everything that Lee Harvey Oswald did not: an admission of guilt, reasons why, and a murder committed at point blank range in front of numerous witnesses rather than from a sniper’s nest in the Texas School Book Depository.
Sirhan’s motives for pistol-shooting RFK three times—once in the head, twice in the back—had nothing to do with Kennedy’s growing opposition to the Vietnam War. Instead, it had to do with Kennedy’s hawkishness toward the Palestinians and his support of Israel in the 1967 war. By his own admission, Sirhan murdered Robert Kennedy because of the latter’s “sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those 50 [fighter jet] bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians.” He even calculated the assassination to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Six-Day War. The son of an Arabic-Christian family who emigrated to California from Jerusalem when Sirhan was 12, he went from religious denomination to denomination until settling on, ironically, an advertised “apolitical” and “humanistic” sect called the Ancient Mystical Branch of the Rose Cross, an occultist organization pledged to the study of “life and the universe.”But Sirhan’s true religion was a vitriolic hatred of Israel. He stated in court that he killed Kennedy because of “20 years of malice aforethought”; a reference to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. His courtroom testimony was so vicious toward Israel that his Jewish defense attorney, Emile Zola Berman, almost resigned from the defense team.
Somehow East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” by Philippe Sands became the book club selection for our next Book Club meeting. It differs from all the other books we’ve read, because it’s non-fiction, rather than fiction.
I don’t know who suggested it or how it was chosen. In all honesty I stay out of those discussions, except for trying to keep page numbers down. Yes, I’m the lazy member of the club and not very knowledgeable about the “better” books. I read lots of police detective mysteries like the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly or the Daniel Silva books. And I’ll read corny books, too.
“East West Street” is a different kind of mystery or detective story. Sands researched the real participants in the Nuremberg Trials and the development of the case against the Nazis.
East West Street looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity,” both of whom, not knowing the other, studied at the same university with the same professors, in a city little known today that was a major cultural center of Europe, “the little Paris of Ukraine,” a city variously called Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, or Lviv. It is also a spellbinding family memoir, as the author traces the mysterious story of his grandfather, as he maneuvered through Europe in the face of Nazi atrocities.
Those of us raised post-World War Two grew up with the concept of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” as major crimes, but apparently the terms are relatively new and were very controversial and questionable in the 1940s.
The friendly soccer match between Argentina’s and Israel’s national soccer teams scheduled in Jerusalem was cancelled, after Argentine players received greater threats than those previously made by ISIS, the Argentine Foreign Minister said during an interview with Radio Mitre, La Agencia Judia de Noticias reported Wednesday (Spanish link).
The foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, lamented the cancellation and said the players were uncomfortable about traveling to Israel due to a series of threats they received on themselves and their families from supporter of the boycott movement.
On Tuesday, protesters outside the Barcelona training facility—where the Argentine national soccer team has been practicing for the FIFA World Cup—held Argentinian soccer jerseys stained with red paint resembling blood.
Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev said on Wednesday that players had received threats from “terror groups.”
“Since they announced they would play against Israel, different terror groups have been sending messages and letters to players on the Argentina national team and their relatives, including clear threats to hurt them and on the lives of their families,” Regev said. “These included video clips showing dead children.”
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas senior officials welcomed the match cancellation
The European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public service broadcasters that organizes the annual Eurovision song contest, has asked Israel to find an alternative venue rather than Jerusalemfor the 2019 contest, citing the “politically charged” nature of the Israeli capital.
Israel won the right to host next year’s contest after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the 2018 Eurovision in Lisbon, Portugal, with her catchy techno-dance tune “Toy.” Every year, the contest is hosted by the country of the previous year’s winner, usually in the capital city.
A source at the Kan Public Broadcasting Corporation, which is scheduled to air next year’s contest, told Israel Hayom Wednesday that the EBU “has expressed serious reservations about holding the Eurovision in Jerusalem and has asked the local producers to try and find a venue that is less divisive and politically charged, so as not to cloud the competition.”
The request is especially jarring as it comes on the heels of the decision by Argentina’s national soccer team to cancel its final World Cup warm-up match against Israel following pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.
Israel Hayom has learned that at a meeting between EBU and Kan officials last week, the Europeans made it clear they would prefer Israel to consider a venue other than Jerusalem, so as to avoid political controversy.
Culture Minister Miri Regev proclaimed on Thursday that if Israel can’t host the Eurovision in Jerusalem next year, it should not host it at all.
Speaking to Kan’s Reshet Bet on Thursday morning, Regev said that “I will recommend to the government that the Eurovision – if it can’t be in Jerusalem – we shouldn’t host it.”
The culture minister added that “It costs Israel NIS 50 million. It is designed to market the country. It’s a beautiful music show that brings every country here… I think personally that if the Eurovision won’t be in Jerusalem, it would be wrong to invest NIS 50m. of public funds. The State of Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and we should not be ashamed of it.”
Regev was reacting in part to unconfirmed reports from Wednesday that the European Broadcasting Union requested that the Eurovision be held in a “non-divisive location.”
But Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Thursday that there is no question the Eurovision will be held in Israel.
Argentinean soccer great Lionel Messi might not be coming to Israel this weekend, but Argentinean President Mauricio Macri may be making a visit in the near future.
Kulanu MK Michael Oren, who is a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office dealing with diplomacy, will meet Argentina’s Ambassador to Israel Mariano Caucino on Thursday to discuss the fallout of the canceled visit of the Argentinean national team, and look for a date for a visit by Macri.
Ties between Israel and Argentina have significantly improved since Macri was elected in 2015, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the Argentinean president to visit when he was in Buenos Aires in September, the first-ever visit by a sitting prime minister to a Latin American country.
Oren said that there was discussion about the possibility of Macri making his first visit here as prime minister this month, but there are scheduling problems because, since he is both the head of state and head of government, both Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin need to be in the country at the same time to meet him.
Oren said that he wants to come out of the meeting with the Argentinean envoy with a statement that “the relationship is stronger than ever, and that the cancellation won’t affect the rapidly increasing friendship between us.” He said that dates for a meeting will be discussed.
A senior official in the Foreign Ministry said there is no concern in the ministry that this incident will negatively impact Israeli-Argentinean ties.
JCPA: Cry for Us, Argentina…
The cancellation of an event as well publicized in the media as the World Cup soccer warm-up match between Argentina and Israel requires an immediate PR counterattack from Israel and the Jewish world. What, unfortunately, succeeded in frightening superstar Lionel Messi and the other members of the Argentine soccer team is a mix of lies and death threats against the players. This is what the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is in its entirety: an arsenal of intimidation and lies disguised as justice, and supported mostly by Europeans.
The friendly game between Argentina and Israel was supposed to be about nothing more than friendship and sport.
However, words of condemnation were issued by Palestinian leaders, who tend to focus on destroying others rather than building up their own wretched people. If their objective had been sport and not causing damage to Israel, they could have used the visit to invite the Argentine team to appear in their own territory.
The person who stood behind the effort to cancel the game is no less than convicted terrorist Jibril Rajoub. This gangster, who has murdered people with his own hands, bragged about the torture and murder of the Israeli sportsmen at the Munich Olympics, and denounced any request to hold a memorial ceremony for them as “racist.”
Rajoub, who was released from an Israeli jail with another 1,150 terrorists in a prisoner exchange in 1985, threatened Messi with verbal violence worthy of a mafia leader rather than the head of a sports federation. By the way, Messi should not be criticized for his fear. To be able to withstand the bloodthirsty talk of the boycotters, you need to be Israeli.
Israeli sources believe an Arab nation, likely Qatar, is behind the cancellation of the Israel-Argentina friendly, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday in Jerusalem.
While the Argentine Football Association has been experiencing severe financial difficulties in recent years, it still committed to immediately pay $2.2 million in compensations to the production company organizing the game.
The Federation, which was initially concerned by having to pay the steep compensation, surprised representatives of Comtec Congress Management when it informed them it will pay the full sum.
Israeli soccer officials pointed to the close ties between Qatar and Jibril Rajoub, the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, who pushed for the match’s cancellation.
Thanks to these close ties, when FC Barcelona visited Israel two years, Qatar paid a high sum to have the team visit the Palestinian Authority as well—even though that eventually did not pan out.
Come to think of it, why are they happy to represent Argentina on the football field? I am not making a comment here on the country’s reputation for cheating on the field of play – though the country will forever be sullied by the fact it owes one of its two World Cup victories to a ball thumped in the back of the net with the fist of a supposed great player (I reckon even I could be a passable footballer if the ref granted me alone the right to handle the ball). I was thinking more of Argentina’s recent record on human rights.
According to Human Rights Watch ‘Argentina faces long-standing human rights problems that include police abuse, poor prison conditions, endemic violence against women’. It also criticises ‘vaguely defined criminal provisions that undermine free speech, and delays in appointing permanent judges are serious concerns.’ There are enough grounds there, surely, for Iceland’s footballers to refuse to turn out for their opening game against Argentina on 16 June.
There is an alternative explanation for the ethical inconsistency shown by Argentina’s footballers: that they are not so much motivated by morals or politics as by threats by the Palestinian Football Association to burn replica Argentinian shirts if the country’s football team dared to show up in Israel. In which case, their non-appearance in Israel is less a case of taking an ethical stance as moral cowardice.
Either way, they would have done themselves a favour by either turning up for the Israel match as planned – or by boycotting the World Cup altogether. It is the selective nature of their ethical stance – which is concentrated, like so many people’s moral stances, on Israel alone — that begins to look sinister and unpleasant.
Argentina star Lionel Messi has been quoted as refusing to play against “people who kill innocent Palestinian children” following the cancellation of a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Israel. There is no evidence he made this statement.
Messi is widely quoted as telling Argentina sports channel TyC Sports: “As a UNICEF ambassador, I cannot play against people who kill innocent Palestinian children. We had to cancel the game because we are humans before we are footballers.”
The quote was widely shared on social media following the decision by Argentina on Wednesday to cancel their World Cup warm-up match against Israel in Jerusalem on Saturday, following pressure and threats from the Palestinians and BDS activists.
However, TyC Sports reporter Martin Arevalo, who is in Barcelona where Argentina are preparing for the World Cup, said his channel had never spoken to Messi.
As we saw yesterday, a BBC News website report concerning the Argentinian Football Association’s cancellation of a friendly match with Israel framed the background to the decision as being about “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza” and/or the fact that “Palestinians […] were angered by a decision to relocate the game” to Jerusalem.
Although the article was later amended to include the full quote from Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain rather than the truncated version used in earlier editions, the BBC News website still avoided telling its audiences about the threats received by Argentinian players and their families which were – according to the head of the Argentinian Football Association and the Argentinian foreign minister – the real reason for the game’s cancellation.
In contrast, listeners to the evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ on June 6th heard a more accurate version of the story (from 45:05 here) than the one presented by the BBC News website.
#Breaking: Argentine Football Association head Chichi Tapia apologizes to Israelis & to the Jewish community for cancelling game. Said his players faced threats & will try to play in Israel at another time. https://t.co/u4SCzMtNr6
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) June 6, 2018
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) June 6, 2018
The government has defeated a legal challenge from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign after a court upheld its government’s right to restrict councils that boycott Israel.
The PSC claimed it was a “triumph” when a judicial review found the government was wrong to issue regulations that local councils could not boycott foreign countries when investing their pension funds a year ago.
But on Wednesday, three Court of Appeal judges unanimously upheld an appeal from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The government told local authorities it was inappropriate to use pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries, unless those countries were subject of a government embargo.
Appeal Court judge Sir Stephen Richards said he was satisfied that the government’s action “fell within the powers conferred by the legislation”.
Speaking on behalf of anti-boycott campaigners Jewish Human Rights Watch, Robert Festenstein said it was “a relief that the government’s appeal has been successful”.
“For too long the PSC has been fermenting antagonism through local authorities towards the Jews by claiming to be supporting the Palestinian people but in reality simply denying the Jews the right to nationhood,” he said.
A union representing seven million students in the United Kingdom reaffirmed its commitment to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel on Thursday, after failing to consider an emergency resolution on the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
The National Executive Council of the National Union of Students passed Motion 103, which decries “70 Years of Injustice” for Palestinians and calls for solidarity with the Palestinian people’s “right to return to their homes, as enshrined in international law.”
The language echoes the demand for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Independence War and their five million descendants into Israel, which critics say would effectively transform Israel into a Palestinian-majority state.
The resolution — proposed by Black Students’ Officer Ilyas Nagdee — also accused the Israeli military of murdering “over 60 Palestinian protesters, including women and children,” on May 14, when Hamas-led rioters congregated by the Israel-Gaza barrier in support of the “right of return.”
A union representing 16,000 student workers at the University of California urged administrators during ongoing contract negotiations to divest from companies accused of profiting from “the oppression of Palestinians.”
The UC Student-Workers Union (UAW Local 2865), whose 2014-2018 contract is set to expire at the end of June, shared its list of “Initial Sunshine Demands” for a new agreement in an email to members last week.
These include increased compensation, expanded healthcare coverage, and a housing stipend, as well as a commitment to “pursue UC Divestment and Socially Responsible Financial Practices.”
Administrators were specifically requested to “divest from corporations that profit from the prison industry, fossil fuels, and the oppression of Palestinians, including with funds invested in UC Safe Harbor.”
No other foreign conflict was invoked elsewhere in the list.
Earlier this month, an alarming video from a Gaza kindergarten graduation surfaced on Palestinian social media. The video, taken at the Al-Hoda school in Gaza on May 13 shows the kindergartners dressed in army uniforms, carrying automatic weapons, storming a building with an Israeli flag and “killing” an “Israeli soldier” and taking an “Orthodox Jew” hostage.
The mainstream media did not find this abhorrent display of child abuse noteworthy, instead only choosing to report on events that portray Israel in the worst of all possible light.
Sadly, the urban myth buster website, Snopes, appears to have jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon. Asked if the clip was authentic, they grudgingly admitted that it was, then took great pains to spin it, claiming it only appeared on “right wing” outlets, and quoting Khaled Elgindy who said, in effect occupation…conflict…Israel does it too…., and accused MEMRI of only broadcasting extreme and inflammatory material. Snopes ends their report with the same cliches about the conflict that dominate the mass media.
We thought better of you, Snopes.
The Lebanese civil war began in 1975 and lasted fifteen years. Listeners to the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness’ were however recently told that it began in June 1982 – and that Israel started it.
The June 5th edition of ‘Witness’ was titled “The Assassinaton [sic] Attempt that Sparked a Middle East War“.
“In June 1982, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, was shot and critically injured by a Palestinian gunman outside the Dorchester Hotel in London. The attack was the trigger for the start of the devastating war in Lebanon just days later. Simon Watts talks to Shlomo Argov’s son, Gideon Argov.”
Simon Watts introduced the programme as follows:
Watts: “Today I’m taking you back to the summer of 1982 and a gun attack on the Israeli ambassador to London which started a war in the Middle East.”
Listeners later heard the perpetrators of that attack described as a “Palestinian hit squad” but only six minutes and fourteen seconds into the nine-minute programme were they informed of the name of the faction responsible.
At 04:56 Watts asked Gideon Argov about the reaction in Israel to the attempted assassination of his father. Having mentioned the “outpouring of shock and sorrow and support” from the general public, Argov went on to say “and then the war broke out”.
A Jewish 14-year-old girl in Germany who had been missing since May was found dead.
The girl, identified as Susanna F., was found Wednesday outside Wiesbaden, a city in western Germany. On Thursday, police said that two male asylum seekers were suspected in her rape and murder.
The men, a 20-year-old Iraqi and 35-year-old Turkish citizen, are suspected of killing the girl on May 22, when she went missing. Police said they believe she had been strangled to death.
The 20-year-old suspect was dating the girl, the Wiesbadener Tagblatt daily reported. Police said Thursday that he had left the country and they arrested the other suspect. Both suspects had been living in refugee shelters.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany confirmed that the girl was a member of the Jewish community of Mainz, a city near Wiesbaden.
President Donald Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Poland has sparked ire among top officials in Warsaw after she sharply criticized recent Polish legislation on the commemoration of World War II at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing this week.
Asked by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) if she was familiar “with what’s going on with antisemitism in Eastern Europe,” Mosbacher highlighted Poland’s amended IPN Act — signed into law by President Andrzej Duda on Feb. 6 and currently awaiting final approval from the country’s Constitutional Tribunal — which deems public discussion of Polish collusion with the Nazi extermination of the Jews a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.
Antisemitism in the region had “unfortunately been sparked by a Holocaust law that Poland passed recently,” Mosbacher argued at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing.
“We cannot tolerate any kind of bigotry, this is fundamental to our values,” she continued. “I would work with Poland to make sure that before they put out any kind of legislation, that it did not incite bigotry. That’s unacceptable, intolerance in any form.”
A fire that raged for hours in the city of Voronezh in Russia consumed large parts of its 19th-century Jewish cemetery.
The fire appears to have started Friday in the immediate vicinity of the cemetery, in the northwest of the country, the Russian news website 36on reported Monday. Police are investigating whether it was the result of arson directed against the Jewish cemetery in an anti-Semitic attack, the report said. The Jewish cemetery in Voronezh has been targeted in such attacks in the past.
Some of the cemetery’s graves date back to the early 19th century.
Pictures of the cemetery showed charred vegetation covering substantial parts of the fence area, as well as several headstones with extensive damage from the fire. Some wooden monuments also were consumed by the fire, according to the report.
“We are very worried,” the local rabbi, Avigdor Nosikov, told the news website. “The state of the cemetery after the fire causes pain to everyone.”
A Dallas-area church has included Judaism among “dangerous isms” that includes liberalism, alcoholism and pessimism.
The items, defined in a flier as “a distinctive practice, system or ideology,” will be discussed as part of the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas summer lecture series. The lectures will “shed light on these topics and provide a proper response by the Christian,” the promotional material said.
“We’re not here to criticize or be antagonistic toward people and to beat them down,” he told the Dallas News. “There’s no threat. The people in the community should not feel a threat.”
The church has been attacked on social media for appearing to equate Judaism with some of the other items on the list. Islamism also appears on the list. One social media user said on Twitter he had filed a complaint with the IRS, in order to threaten its tax-exempt status.
Several Muslim and Jewish leaders in the Dallas area offered to meet with Gibbs and other members of the church’s leadership in an effort to jumpstart a dialogue.
As Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks have moved to clamp down on hateful content, neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers have increasingly migrated to alternate platforms that do not police their postings. That gab.ai, one of these top anti-Semitic hubs, happens to have the same name as a traditional position of Jewish authority is one of the universe’s more ironic coincidences.
Or is it? Some of its users are asking questions.
Gab was ostensibly founded in 2016 as an alternative to Twitter by CEO Andrew Torba, who vowed that it would defend “free speech.” In practice, that has meant making the platform a haven for anti-Jewish, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and other bigoted material, leading to its banning from places like the Google and Apple app stores. But as gab.ai’s own users have begun to realize, this may not be the whole story. After all, why else would the network share a name with the gabai, the Aramaic and Hebrew honorific of the person in charge of religious ritual in a Jewish synagogue?
As The Daily Beast reports,
The fringes who flocked to Gab became some of its earliest critics, with some questioning Torba’s motives in founding the site. Members of the Gab’s large anti-Semitic wing noted that its url (Gab.ai) loosely translates to a Hebrew word meaning an assistant in a synagogue, and speculated that the site was actually a ruse by shadowy Jewish forces who would one day crush Gab’s user base in some unspecified fashion.
Torba, predictably, denied the allegations:
Israel-based ride sharing app Gett said Thursday it raised more than $80 million from investors, according to a valuation of $1.4 billion.
Volkswagen Group, already an investor in the startup, took part in the latest funding round, which included private equity firm Baring Vostok Capital Partner and billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, the firm said in a statement.
The company has raised a total of $700 million to date, including the latest round. In 2016, the company raised $300 million from the Volkswagen Group.
The company, which operates as Juno in New York, has operations in 120 cities globally and sells rides for more than $1 billion, half of them in New York and London. Among the Gett markets, New York is growing at the fastest pace, with approximately 45,000 drivers – more than 50 percent of all taxi drivers – having joined Juno. In London, more than half the black taxis work with Gett.
When Heroes Fly, Israel’s latest hit drama and the winner of this year’s Canneseries top prize, is being adapted into English for US audiences.
According to an exclusive report in Variety, Keshet International, the global arm of Keshet, which produced the original show, will be developing the American version.
When Heroes Fly, which premiered in Israel last month, was awarded Best Series in April at the inaugural Canneseries TV festival in France. The show – based in part on the book by the same name by the late Amir Gutfreund – follows four friends who made it home from the Second Lebanon War with physical and emotional scars. Ten years after the war, they reunite to track down Yaeli – the sister of one and the ex-girlfriend of another – who they all believed had been killed in an accident in Colombia.
The show – created and directed by Omri Givon – has become a critical and ratings hit in Israel in the short month since it has hit the airwaves. The premiere garnered 16.9% of viewing households, close to half a million people, and it has peaked at 18.9%, a very high rating for a scripted series in Israel. The show has also gained praise from critics, many of whom applauded the show for its frank depiction of post-traumatic stress disorder among army veterans.
As academia increasingly disavowed Lewis, the allure of Washington grew stronger. For a man who could effortlessly quote the verse of the 10th-century Arab poet al-Mutanabbi, Lewis also revealed a remarkable talent for talking with policymakers. He was always well briefed on current affairs. For four months of every year, he traveled to the Middle East. When back at Princeton, part of his daily routine was listening to Arab political broadcasts over shortwave radio. Having spent countless hours during World War II eavesdropping on Arab leaders’ telephone conversations and briefing British commanders about them, he had a very keen sense of the day-to-day realities of regional politics and of how to distill the essence for non-experts.
Truth be told, however, he was more an analyst than an implementer, and he was not especially gifted at formulating policy. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of 9/11, he allowed himself to be drawn into the debate over the Iraq war, which he supported. Looking back on it now, I wish he had played the role of grand old man of Middle East analysis rather than becoming, as he did, an intellectual icon for policymakers. I even suggested to him once, over a late-night scotch, that he might remain aloof, issuing Delphic statements that kept him above the fray. “At my age,” he responded, “what difference does it make?” I had no response. He was playing a significant role in the world, in a way usually denied to people in the second half of their ninth decade. And he’d earned the right.
Bernard Lewis was a loyal friend and a scholarly legend. The sadness at his passing only grows as one is forced to acknowledge that the age of academic giants has now definitively come to an end. The professional study of Middle East history now belongs to the heirs of Edward Said—to, that is, intellectual pygmies.
Have I closed on a word, and an image, unpardonably “Orientalist” and “colonialist”? I certainly hope so.
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