Honest Reporting: How Reporting From Israel Changed My Worldview Forever
I was content to tell this story for my first few months in Israel, because I, too, believed it. As I wrote recently in The Jerusalem Report magazine, I had a deeply negative view of the Jewish state until I moved there. I grew up in a WASPy New England town where everyone is a liberal Democrat. For some reason, hostility towards Israel is a knee-jerk liberal opinion in the U.S. (and in much of Europe). As a product of my environment, I believed that Israel was a bully and the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
But foreign affairs always look different when they become local, and nowhere is that more true than in Israel. I began to see that one sunny afternoon not long after I moved to Jerusalem. On that day, I went to cover a Palestinian protest at an Israeli-run prison near Ramallah. A reporter for The Independent and I drove out there and fell in with a group of about 100 Palestinian demonstrators as they marched towards the prison.
When they arrived, about a half dozen Israeli soldiers came out to meet them. The Palestinians quickly set up a roadblock of burning tires to prevent the Israelis from escaping. More and more protesters arrived – I don’t know from where – but I soon saw them swarming over the hills above the prison, clad in face masks and keffiyehs. It was like a scene from Game of Thrones. Some had knives in their belts. Others had brought ingredients for Molotov cocktails. They took up positions on the hills above the prison and began using powerful slingshots to hurl rocks and chunks of concrete at the six or so Israeli soldiers down below. The Israelis were so outnumbered that I couldn’t help but question the narrative that Israel was Goliath and the Palestinians were David, because here in front of me it looked like the exact opposite.
When I visited the Gaza Strip a few months later, I again saw the difference between how journalists portray a place and reality. Reading about Gaza in the news, you’d think the whole place was rubble, that it looks more or less like Homs or Aleppo. In fact Gaza is no different in appearance from anywhere else in the Arab World. During eight days in the Strip, I didn’t see a single war-damaged building until I specifically asked my fixer to show me one. In response, she drove me to Shujaya, a neighborhood of Gaza City that’s a known Hamas stronghold and is still visibly damaged from the 2014 war.
Was the destruction in Shujaya shocking? Yes. But it was very localized, and not at all indicative of the rest of Gaza. The rest of Gaza is not so different from many developing countries: people are poor but they manage to provide for themselves, and even to dress well and be happy most of the time. Actually, there are parts of the Strip that are quite nice. I went out to eat at restaurants where the tables are made from marble and the waiters wear vests and ties. I saw huge villas on the beach that wouldn’t be out of place in Malibu, and – right across the street from those villas – I visited a new, $4 million mosque.
Richard Westin, a BBC reporter and historical archivist from West Hampstead recently discovered a slew of old headlines from WWII and onwards. What was thought to have been lost when the company began switching many of its historical news pieces to a digital format, Westin felt lucky to have stumbled onto the prized pieces of history.
“I was doing some research on how Israel withholds air from Palestinian areas and was lucky enough to stumble onto a great historical find.” Many of the headlines included classics like, “German Officer Catches Cold at Auschwitz” and “Twenty Year Old German Boy Killed By Jews In Warsaw Uprising.”
Speaking from West Hampstead, Mr. Westin also said he was fascinated how the BBC has historically been credible with its news and always concentrated just on the facts. “Upon further investigation, it was concluded that not only one, but many German officers caught colds at Auschwitz, as did many Ukrainian Guard. The BBC definitely had it right. Also, we contacted the family of the twenty-year-old boy who was killed in Warsaw, Hanz Baur, and the now elderly family speaking from Germany said Hanz’s death has left a huge hole difficult to fill for them. From photos, we can clearly see how Hanz was a strapping good looking blonde bo,y and who knows what he would have become had he not been killed?”
Other headlines dating back some years were also discovered. From 1973 a headline of “Secular Jews In Israel forego Services On Yom Kippur To Fire Guns” as well as a 1948 Headline, “Jews Abandon Western Wall”. While most of the authors who penned the headlines are no longer living, Mr. Westin feels that through this rare archival document find, he can remain connected to those BBC reporters who came before him.
HR’s Daniel Pomerantz, BBC Headlines on i24
Members of an anti-Israel group demonstrated outside the London office of Radiohead’s accounting firm earlier this week to protest the British rock band’s upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, the online music magazine Pitchfork reported.
Activists from London Palestine Action (LPA) on Monday held Palestinian flags and donned cut-out masks of both Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the gathering in front of the Hardwick & Morris office. The protesters held signs that read “Radiohead: Don’t leave Palestinians high and dry” and “Karma police, arrest this man for his crimes against solidarity,” and sang some Radiohead songs with edited lyrics that accused the band of “entertaining apartheid while Palestine’s occupied.”
Radiohead has not yet responded to the protest.
The band is scheduled to play in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park on July 19 as it wraps up its 2017 A Moon Shaped Pool tour.
After Radiohead first announced the concert in April, BDS supporters — including Desmond Tutu and Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters — signed an open letter urging the rockers to cancel their show to “help pressure Israel to end its violation of basic rights and international law [against Palestinians].”
According to an article in the J Weekly, the Jewish News of Northern California, written by Max.Cherney:
The San Francisco-based Koret Foundation last year held back a $1.7 million grant to San Francisco State University, according to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week.
Among other accusations in the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyers laid out a squabble over the sizable grant between SFSU and the San Francisco-based Koret Foundation, a well-fundedphilanthropic organization that works on a range of causes.
Koret’s reason for withholding the grant was due to concerns about “anti-Jewish animus” at SFSU, the lawsuit claims, and because of a 2016 incident where protesters prevented Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from giving a scheduled talk at the school.
Especially in light of Daheley’s introduction to the item, the fact that Lebanon’s law mandating a boycott of Israel was passed twelve years before the Six Day War took place should of course have been clarified, as should the fact that the law applies to more than “Israeli products and exports” and even forbids contact with individuals.
Listeners then heard four anonymous ‘man in the street’ interviews that were also promoted separately by the BBC on social media.
Daheley next introduced her first interviewee – “Halim Shebaya; a political analyst at the School of Arts and Sciences at the Lebanese American University”.
Shebaya took pains to clarify that he is “not part of the group here that’s calling for the boycott of the movie” but did not clarify what group that is or that its founders include a Hizballah sympathiser. He continued:
“I think given that some pro-Palestinian voices have been calling for a boycott of the movie because of the lead actress’ positions on some issues. Israel has conducted many wars and there have been many civilian casualties in Lebanon and Gal Gadot was reported to have even been serving in the IDF – the Israeli army – during that period. You know, all Israelis have to serve in the army but she’s voiced some explicit public support for the Israeli army’s wars in Palestine [sic] and, I would assume, in Lebanon.”
Listeners were not informed that the 2006 conflict in Lebanon in fact began because the Lebanese terror group Hizballah conducted a cross-border raid and attacked civilian Israeli communities with missiles or that the 2014 conflict in Gaza was sparked by the terror group Hamas’ missile fire on Israeli civilians and construction of cross-border attack tunnels.
A Trinity College professor with a track record of involvement in anti-Israel activities has written on social media that white people are “inhuman a-holes” and need to “die,” days after the shooting of a top Republican congressman last week.
Johnny Eric Williams — an associate professor of sociology at the Connecticut school — called on minorities to “confront” and “end [white supremacy] now,” following the June 14 attack at a baseball field near Washington, DC in which Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four other people were wounded, the Washington Times reported on Wednesday.
“It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF–ingDie,” Williams reportedly wrote on Facebook on June 18.
Williams has a long history of anti-Israel activity, including authoring an article in 2014 on “Academics and Israel,” in which he wrote: “Unlike Judaism, which is inclusive and compassionate to people, Zionism lacks a moral and ethical center given it propagates the belief Palestine belongs to Jews not Palestinians.”
That same year, he signed onto an open letter to the Trinity College president and dean slamming the administrators for publicly denouncing the American Studies Association’s vote to adopt an academic boycott of Israel (a decision currently being challenged in court by members of the ASA).
Referring to the terrorism seen in Israel since October 2015, that same report also informed BBC audiences that:
“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”
As has been frequently noted on these pages during that time, the BBC has consistently avoided providing its audiences with the relevant information relating to incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials which would enable them to understand why “Israel says” that.
Shortly after news of the June 16th attack had broken, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Education, Sabri Saidam (Saydam) – who is also a member of the Fatah Central Committee and has for years been quoted in BBC content – took to Facebook, describing the terrorists as ‘martyrs of Jerusalem’.
The BBC will not of course produce any follow-up reporting on that or any other Palestinian Authority or Fatah glorification of terrorism. That means that when the next attack comes around, the corporation can once again tell its funding public that “Israel says” that incitement fuels terrorism while continuing to sidestep any real accurate and impartial journalism on the issue.
On Wednesday, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies Senior Associate and Co-Founder of the Netanyahu Terror Victims Organization Barry Shaw sent a letter to Chairperson of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee Justice Anin Yeboah about FIFA’s failure to appropriately address the issue of terrorism in football.
Last month, The Palestinian Football Association, a member of FIFA, glorified terrorism by naming its annual soccer tournament after terrorist Abu Jihad – Khalil Al-Wazir, who killed 125 Israelis.
Several other tournaments have been named after terrorists over the years – while FIFA says nothing.
In his letter, Shaw wrote, “It is with dismay that you, and your predecessor, Mr. J. Cambrelang, have so far failed to address our complaints about the exploitation of football for the encouragement and glorification of terrorism.”
“I read of your quick action in warning the Mexican Football Federation about ‘insulting and discriminatory chants’ of some of their fans. We have yet to hear that you are taking the same urgent action against the promotion of terror that leave people not insulted but dead and injured.
A new study from the Iranian Institute for the Advancement of anti-Semitism revealed that it’s the worst time in history to be an anti-Semite. The study showed that, since the inception of the Jewish state, it has become increasingly more difficult to persecute the Jews.
When they started, the researchers said they hoped to show that persecuting Jews was as easy as “old times”, noting that “they are the only people on the planet running away from Europe towards the Middle East”, and that the concentration of Jews in once place would be easier to wipe them out, but they discovered that’s not the case.
A participant in the study responded that he felt “now that they had somewhere to go, it was a lot harder to kick them from country to country like we used to. They also discovered that the creation of the Israeli Defense Forces posed serious obstacles to “sending them back to the ovens”.
Haaretz tells us that
According to the report, 9,542 cases were wrapped up in 2010, of which 2,016 involved hostile terror activity, 763 disorderly conduct and the rest Palestinians staying illegally in Israel, traffic offenses and criminal activity.
The report states that 25 cases ended in full acquittal, meaning that the conviction rate is 99.74 percent.
The implication of those who repeat the statistic in the context of anti-Israel articles is that the high conviction rate is evidence that the Israeli military courts are lacking in due process, and that the Palestinian defendants who are tried in them are not being treated fairly. A closer look at the facts, however, reveals that this is not so.
The statistic is based on a single year of data, which is now seven years old. There is no indication of whether this would be true for 2016 or for any other year. Beyond that, however, the numbers alone, devoid of context, don’t give the full picture of the process in the Israeli military courts in the territories. The statistic, therefore, is highly misleading.
Criminal prosecutions differ from civil (that is, non-criminal) cases in one very important respect: unlike civil plaintiffs, a criminal prosecutor has an obligation to bring only those cases in which there is substantial evidence to support a conviction. As a comparison, the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct provide, in Rule 3.8, Special Responsibilities Of A Prosecutor:
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause….
If prosecutors are living up to this obligation, one would expect a high conviction rate. Indeed, according to a 2011 report discussing conviction rates in 2010 (the same year as the Haaretz data) the US military’s “conviction rate for all crimes is more than 90 percent.” This rate includes conviction for all crimes including sexual assaults; the sexual assault conviction rate was only 27%, bringing the total conviction rate down.
A headline on the Newsweek website today asks why Israel is corrupt. Just how corrupt? “So corrupt,” the headline states, followed in the article by anecdotes about abuse of power by Israelis in politics and business.
“So corrupt” sounds pretty bad. But there are more thorough measures out there — for example Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, in which Israel ranks as 28th least corrupt of 176 ranked countries, which is tops in the Middle East and above a number of European countries. The index went unmentioned in the Newsweek article, as did other reports.
The author — who, it should be noted, isn’t responsible for the headline’s strange wording — said on Twitter that the corruption he perceives isn’t in “the day to day doing business,” but rather at “the highest levels of business & government.”
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals — including one involving arms sales to foreign governments — with an international businessman who was one of his key sources.
The reporter, Jay Solomon, was offered a 10 percent stake in a fledgling company, Denx LLC, by Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA. It was not clear whether Solomon ever received money or formally accepted a stake in the company.
“We are dismayed by the actions and poor judgment of Jay Solomon,” Wall Street Journal spokesman Steve Severinghaus wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. “While our own investigation continues, we have concluded that Mr. Solomon violated his ethical obligations as a reporter, as well as our standards.”
Azima was the subject of an AP investigative article published Tuesday. During the course of its investigation, the AP obtained emails and text messages between Azima and Solomon, as well as an operating agreement for Denx dated March 2015, which listed an apparent stake for Solomon.
Strangely enough, in the transition from the first correction to the second, the Times inserted two new errors. The second correction erroneously describes the article as “about knife attacks.” The original story correctly described the Palestinian Arabs as “armed with knives and a improvised submachine gun.” The second correction also erroneously describes the attacks as having been “in the Old City.” The original story had correctly described the attacks as having been “outside the walls of the Old City.”
This is just the latest example among many of Times deep confusion verging on incompetence when it comes to the basic geography of Jerusalem. For a selection of earlier examples, please see the earlier Algemeiner articles “The New York Times Gets Lost in Jerusalem” (May 15, 2016) and “Temple Mount Geography Confounds New York Times” (May 16, 2017).
There’s a substantive point here beyond mere Times incompetence or ignorance or clumsiness. The correction highlights a double standard. When it comes to demographic counting, or blaming Israel for what happens in the “occupied territories,” the Times is all too happy to impute Israeli control over land. So it is, for example, in the recent and as-yet-uncorrected Times article claiming, falsely, that “official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now.” Yet when Jews are getting attacked by terrorists in Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, the Times goes falling all over itself rushing to remind people with a correction that “the status of East Jerusalem is disputed” so somehow therefore it doesn’t really count as an attack in Israel.
Whatever else can be said for this episode, it’s not an example of Times journalism at its best. And if you think you might file a complaint with the newspaper’s public editor about it, forget it; the Times has eliminated the job.
HonestReporting’s study on The Independent’s bias against Israel in March 2017 broke new ground in exposing the systemic bias against Israel in one publication. We now present a broader comparison of the Israel-related media cultures in Britain and the United States.
Many observers identify Britain – from the House of Commons to academia – as home to more prejudiced anti-Israel activity than the United States. But what causes this discrepancy? According to a new HonestReporting analysis, the heavily negative reporting of Israel in British newspapers may play a large role in determining the disturbingly frequent anti-Israel stance of British public institutions.
The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during May 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 144 incidents took place: 113 in Judea & Samaria, twenty-nine in Jerusalem, one inside the ‘green line’ and one attack from the Sinai Peninsula.
The agency recorded 121 attacks with petrol bombs, 11 attacks using explosive devices, one stabbing, three shooting attacks and six arson attacks in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Also recorded were one stabbing attack in Netanya and one missile attack from Sinai.
Two people – both members of the security forces – were wounded in attacks during May.
The BBC News website did not cover any of the terror attacks that took place during that month.
The attacks ignored by the BBC include an attempted IED attack on May 10th, a stabbing in Jerusalem on May 13th, a stabbing in Netanya on May 23rd and a missile attack from Sinai on the Eshkol district on the same day.
Since the beginning of 2017 the BBC’s English language services have not reported any of the nine incidents of missile attacks that have taken place.
A US federal court has ruled that the heirs to one of the largest art collections in Hungary prior to World War II may sue for the recovery of some of the works from Hungarian institutions in the US court system.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday ruled that the heirs of Baron Mór Lipót Herzog can sue Hungarian state-owned museums and a university to recover the more than 40 pieces of art with an estimated value exceeding $100 million.
The collection includes works from artists El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, Lucas Cranach the Elder, van Dyck, Velázquez and Monet.
The court found that the Hungarian institutions’ claims that they are immune from jurisdiction under the United States Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, in which foreign countries are exempt from being sued by US citizens, were to be rejected and agreed with the Herzog heirs that the seizure of the collection during the Holocaust constituted genocidal takings in violation of international law. The court also agreed that a 1947 peace treaty between Hungary and the United States does not bar the claims.
The court dismissed the Republic of Hungary as a defendant under the act, however.
Actress Marlee Matlin lifted her hand beside her face in the shape of an “L” and tapped her fingers together a couple of times.
“That’s it?” a shocked reporter asked. “That’s so short.”
Matlin was giving the Israeli press a lesson in the Hebrew sign for Tel Aviv just days after arriving on her first trip ever to the Jewish state. The irony of the American teaching the Israelis wasn’t lost in translation, so to speak, but the lesson was also an example of just the kind of work the actress was in Israel to do.
Gliding around Sunday night’s venue in the Tel Aviv port where she received the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, Matlin stopped to snap photographs with fans, some of whom were in wheelchairs or held white canes. Sign language was as common among the hundreds of guests in attendance as spoken language.
The $100,000 prize, presented by the Ruderman Family Foundation, recognized her achievements in activism for people with disabilities — a cause she champions with distinction as the world’s only deaf Academy Award winning actor.
Israel continues to cement its status as a leader of global innovation, the U.N.’s Global Innovation Index for 2017 has found.
The Global Innovation Index surveys 130 economies, gauging standards from patent filings to education spending, with aim of providing policy makers with a comprehensive view of innovative activity that increasingly drives economic and social growth.
The GII’s 10th edition, titled “Innovation Feeding the World,” was released Wednesday. The findings, co-authored by the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University and INSEAD, the European Institute of Business Administration, noted a continued gap in innovative capacity between developed and developing nations, as well as “lackluster growth rates” for research and development activities on the government and corporate levels.
For the seventh consecutive year, Israel topped the North Africa and Western Asia category, and ranked 17th overall in the group of high-income countries, improving its standing by four places from 2016.
Israel’s innovation rating reflects results in four areas: human capital and research, market sophistication, business sophistication and knowledge and technology production.
Multiple sclerosis, one of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases, affects some 2.5 million people worldwide and has no known cure.
Researchers have long speculated that MS is triggered by the body’s own immune system unleashing an uncontrolled attack on myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells (neurons).
A study published by Israeli scientists in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) pinpoints a structural instability in the myelin membranes, the “insulating tape” surrounding neurons.
This vulnerability seems to be what gives the immune system access to otherwise protected regions.
“We found that small modifications in the myelin sheaths create structural instabilities that may help the immune system to enter and attack neurons,” said principal investigator Prof. Roy Beck of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and Sagol School of Neurosciences.
Hod Hasharon-based startup Karamba Security will team up with French self-driving car company Vedecom Tech, to launch the world’s first “cyberhack-protected” autonomous vehicles, the companies announced on Monday.
Vedecom Tech is in the process of launching a line of completely autonomous, self-driving vehicles, which are expected to be ready for commercial use as early as 2017 in select French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch cities, a joint statement from the companies said. By making use of Karamba Security’s Carwall and Autonomous Security software, the French firm intends to protect the electronic control units of its vehicles against the potential risks of cyber attacks.
“As we bring our first self-driving cars into production, we planned for cybersecurity technology to be part of the car’s design,” said Frederic Mathis, CEO and president of Vedecom Tech. “We evaluated the market extensively and after serious consideration concluded that Karamba Security’s technology is the best way to prevent, not just detect, cyber threats and keep passengers and cars safe.”
Vedecom Tech is a commercial subsidiary of the Vedecom Public Foundation, an organization dedicated to innovation in autonomous transportation.
US giant Intel Corp. is teaming up with two Israeli cybersecurity firms and expanding its cybersecurity operations in Israel to locate cutting edge technologies that will help the firm and its customers fend off increasingly daring cyber attacks.
Intel said it will collaborate with Team8, a cybersecurity think tank and venture fund, to exchange information and develop solutions for current and future threats. It also announced the opening of a new cybersecurity center that will operate in Jerusalem and Haifa, led by cybersecurity entrepreneur Jacob Mendel.
The collaboration with Team8 “is meant to help Intel develop cutting edge cyber technologies and products,” said Rick Echevarria, vice president, Software and Services Group and General Manager, Platform Security Division at Intel Corporation, in a statement. “Team8 will be instrumental in helping us pinpoint the opportunities for Intel innovation to address the challenges in the cyber security segment.”
Additionally, Intel and Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm Illusive Networks said Wednesday they have entered a collaboration agreement to develop deceptive technologies to fight advanced persistent threats (APTs) by using both hardware and software. Illusive produces software that deceives cyber attackers by planting false information on the networks it protects.
One of Israel’s oldest schools, the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, is set to establish new and innovative learning spaces in the fields of science, cooking, carpentry and sewing.
Construction work will soon commence on these “Makers’ Spaces,” sites for practical training in the sciences, and some are set to operate in the coming school year.
“Makers’ Spaces” allow experiential learning and encourage students to invent and plan creative and innovative science and engineering projects, as well as projects in other disciplines. In the “Makers’ Spaces,” students will build objects such as miniature boats, through which they will learn the laws of physics.
In addition, these sites will allow students to experiment with a wide range of projects. The school will hold carpentry, sewing and cooking workshops, as well as workshops on innovative technologies such as 3-D printing. Six such centers are set to be established in each of the school’s six branches throughout Haifa, where thousands study.
The establishment of the innovative learning centers was made possible through a $5 million grant from the Adelson Family Foundation.
Large parts of Florida are suffering from severe drought, and hurricane season threatens to make things worse.
Enter Water-Gen, an Israeli company, whose technology captures humidity to extract drinking water from the air.
On Monday, the South Florida city of Miami Gardens announced it was launching a pilot program with the company to address its water problems — the first US city to do so.
“As representatives responsible for the quality of life and safety of our communities, preparedness and readiness to counter crises is mandatory,” Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said at a City Hall news conference. “Water-Gen’s pilot will enable us to measure its use for clean drinking water if needed for hurricane relief and any other emergency water situation that may arise.”
Over the next two weeks, Miami Gardens will use a mid-sized Water-Gen generator to produce drinking water for its residents. Water-Gen officials said they hope the pilot leads to contracts with Miami Gardens and other parts of Florida. The company’s largest generator yields as much as 825 gallons (3,100 liters) of water per day for only 10 cents a gallon, mostly in energy costs, according to the company.
Frank Lowy, a Holocaust survivor who fought in Israel’s War of Independence and went on to become a billionaire shopping magnate in Australia, was knighted in the United Kingdom as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors.
Lowy’s knighthood was announced Friday night. He is chairman of the Westfield Corp., a global shopping center company he co-founded in 1960, as well as a philanthropist.
A Slovakia native, Lowy settled in Australia in 1952 after evading the Nazis in Budapest and fighting in Israel’s 1948 war for independence.
“Frank Lowy is recommended for his contribution to the UK economy through the company he founded, Westfield, and its major investments in the UK,” his knighthood citation says.
Lowy said the genesis of his regard for the UK was listening to the BBC World Service as a young boy in war-torn Eastern Europe. He recalled that as a child he would huddle around a radio in a bunker, listening to the chimes of Big Ben in London introduce the latest war news.
What if Adolf Hitler had been assassinated shortly after his armies invaded Poland to start World War II? How would global — and Jewish — history have played out?
The question is not answered directly in the German film “13 Minutes.” But the movie, based on an actual, lone-wolf plot to kill the fuehrer that nearly succeeded, is both a classical thriller, pitting one man against the system, and an exploration of how minute circumstance can affect the fates of millions.
“13 Minutes” is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who is perhaps best known for his remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, as well as “The Downfall,” which re-created Hitler’s last days in a Berlin bunker.
At the heart of the film’s plot is Georg Elsner (played by Christian Friedel), a 35-year-old carpenter and tinkerer in a small Swabian village who played in the town band and was popular with the local girls. He’s a Communist sympathizer — but not a party member — who observes with growing concern how his village gradually transformed during the early years of Nazi rule.
Elser sees an acquaintance who is forced to sit on the street — surrounded by Brown-shirts and townspeople — with a sign around her neck reading, “In the village I am the greatest swine and consort only with Jews” (it rhymes in German). He attends a propaganda film in which Hitler proclaims that under his rule every German will have a radio, then a luxury, and the rutted village roads will be paved and lighted.
At a time when “expert” statesmen and pundits maintained that Hitler represented a temporary aberration or could be appeased, Elser becomes convinced that the fuehrer will plunge Germany into war — and that if nobody else will stop the Nazi dictator, he must do the job himself.
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