Isi Leibler: Jews and Israel in a threatened, leaderless and delusional world
The painful lesson of the Orlando massacre is that no place in the world is immune to fanatical religious extremists willing to kill themselves to achieve heavenly salvation.
The Western world is floundering in its pathetic efforts to confront the demonic global forces threatening to plunge it back into the Dark Ages.
Its failure is largely due to the inability of democratic countries to face reality and devise a united strategy to vanquish these Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. Instead, Western leaders bury their heads in the sand and cravenly resort to policies of appeasement, even though there is not a single recorded historical instance in which a millennial terrorist force has modified its behavior in response to such an approach.
Europe, where major cities are suffering suicide attacks from crazed imported and home-grown Muslim terrorists, is now perversely absorbing millions of additional migrants from the Middle East killing fields – migrants ironically rejected by Islamic countries as security risks. The demography of Europe is being permanently altered but any rational discussion of the subject is immediately condemned as Islamophobic.
An Israeli pro-settlement group is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, to punish Europe for what it says is the continent’s pro-Palestinian stance, one of its officials said on Sunday.
Regavim is a right-wing NGO that supports Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Its campaign includes a mock video of a masked Palestinian terrorist purportedly from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip urging UK citizens to remain in the European Union because it supports the Palestinians.
Meir Deutsch, director of policy and government relations for Regavim, said the NGO wanted to harm the EU over its “intervention in the internal conflict here between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The EU has helped finance various projects in the West Bank and Israel has regularly demolished those it considers illegal. The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority also receives financial assistance from the EU.
The mock video posted by Regavim on its campaign website shows masked terrorists with the logo of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and in the background a line in English that reads: “Hamas wants UK to stay in the EU.”
Hamas wants UK to stay in the EU (satire)
Jeffery Herf is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His books include Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust, Divided Memory: the Nazi Past and the Two Germanys, and Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich. He spoke to Fathom editor Alan Johnson about his new book Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left 1967-81.
Alan Johnson: What have been the most important influences upon your work?
Jeffrey Herf: The personal influences began in my family. My father was fortunate to be able to get out of Nazi Germany in 1937 and come to the United States so Nazi Germany and the Holocaust something I heard a lot about when I was young. My mother was a teacher in the Milwaukee public schools who cared a lot about issues of racial equality. My reform Jewish family with a deep appreciation for intellectual work and so since I was young I’ve thought of myself as a Jewish intellectual. Second, two historians left a deep impression long ago. George Mosse awakened my scholarly interest in modern German intellectual and political history. Reading Karl Bracher’s work on Nazi Germany was also key. Both took the causal impact of ideas more seriously than was fashionable in the historical profession at the time. For many years, as a historian, I have felt a particular responsibility to address ‘the Jewish question’ and anti-Semitism in the German questions. As a historian I am influenced by the norms of the historical profession to seek the truth about the past. Both of those facts have had a clear impact on what I have chosen to examine as a historian of Germany, in particular, ‘the Jewish question’ and anti-Semitism in the context of German history. Third, I was shaped by my engagement with the New Left in the US in the 1960s. I saw the left turn to dogmatism, even fanaticism, and that included a turn against Israel, at times with no small amount of anti-Semitic arguments. Seeing the impact of that ideological fanaticism left an enduring impression. Dismissing the role of ideas in politics has struck me as naïve. Mosse and Bracher understood that. I have written extensively about Nazi Germany and the anti-Semitism that fuelled the Holocaust. But when I saw the Communists and the radical left turn against Israel, I thought that too was of great historical significance For any German government to do what the East German government did towards Israel was one of the very most important, and in my view, most disgraceful, chapters of post-1945 European and German history. So it was this mix of the personal and the scholarly that led me to do the work I’ve done. My wife, Sonya Michel also cares very much about the Jewish questions. She is also a fine writer. I think my writing has gotten better over the years because of her.
Tolerance only works if it goes both ways.
At Muhammad Ali’s funeral, Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun Magazine and the Network of Spiritual Progressives, gave a stirring speech that was roundly applauded. I agree with almost everything he said. We must stop victimizing, generalizing and hating people who are different in color, creed and practice. We live in a world where power corrupts. Inequality and exploitation are everywhere and infiltrate every ideology, religion and creed. Racism, victimization, greed and violence pervade every society. Obviously, some more than others. Otherwise, no one would ever want to move to a different country for a better quality of life and greater freedom.
The message that Rabbi Lerner advocated was the message of every idealist. We must love our neighbors. Do unto others as we would be done by. Yet for some reason, despite technological, scientific and humanitarian progress, despite a reduction in poverty, an increase in food production, welfare systems, huge charitable enterprises and benevolence, we are still way, way off from achieving what we have been preaching. We still live in a world of either imperfect or evil regimes. But we still yearn for freedom, equality, friendship and benevolence. We like the good. But we are not all capable of pursuing it.
Muhammad Ali was a remarkable character, as well as a brilliant athlete. No one is perfect. Not even he. He picked up too many anti-white and anti-Zionist hate tropes from mentors Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. But he fought for his people and for freedom. How ironic that he had a Jewish grandson and went to his bar mitzvah. But still, it is so important, and after Orlando even more so, to use every opportunity to speak out against racism and prejudice, and that was what Rabbi Lerner rightly did.
Lebanon has had no shortage of massacres in its brief modern history. Sabra and Shatilla was only one of them but the Jews were involved, however indirectly, so it is no surprise that France 24 focusses on it. They revisit – Five Minutes for Israel visits their revisit.
‘Building a future for refugee camp children in Lebanon’???
Thirty-four-years after men of the Phalangist militia staged a massacre at the Sabra and Shatilla Palestinian refugee Camps France 24 visits the camps, which now host a third generation of refugee children. Stuart Norval whose journalistic experience comes from the BBC, (never a good omen), presents a report by Antoine Laurent.
Why present now and not September is unclear. Perhaps that is just as well.
So how did they do?
Lebanon is not the only Arab country that openly enforces Apartheid laws against Palestinians. What is disturbing about the Apartheid laws in Lebanon and the mistreatment of Palestinians by Arab countries is the silence of the media, the international community and human rights groups — even UNRWA, which is supposed to look after the well-being of Palestinian refugees. — Khaled Abu Toameh
Surprisingly, the report, in most parts a feel-good exercise, is not too terrible. France 24 gains major points for noting what so much of the media and Israel Haters tend to avoid, that it was local Christian not Israeli forces responsible for the massacre. However an uninformed viewer might conclude that there was a united Christian force not uncoordinated and often mutually hostile militias, who bore responsibility. The report, to its credit, also acknowledges that there is a great discrepancy over the number of victims instead of just blindly quoting dubious Palestinian figures.
Yoram Cohen’s statements indicated that the Shin Bet’s abilities to decipher who cyber attacks Israel are more advanced than has been previously known
In his first big speech since stepping down as head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) last month, Yoram Cohen on Tuesday said he wanted to “burst the myth of retribution,” explaining that Israel always eventually learns who to hold responsible for trying to cyber-hack it.
Conventionally, most government and private sector officials say that one of the puzzles of cyber warfare is identifying who initiated a cyber attack.
Cohen’s statements, made at Tel Aviv University’s International Cybersecurity Conference, indicated that the Shin Bet’s abilities to decipher who cyber-attacks Israel are more advanced than has been previously known.
He also gave the agency credit for blocking all major cyber attacks the country has faced during his tenure (May 2011 to May 2016).
The former Shin Bet director explained that a major challenge in the field is that one small oversight could help Israeli adversaries inflict substantial harm.
At the same time, he said that Israeli intelligence had been empowered, realizing that the same was true for cyber-attacking adversaries – meaning Israel has many opportunities to inflict substantial cyber attacks from their mistakes.
Israel and the US are scheduled to sign an agreement to share information on cyber security threats in almost real time, Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, said at a Tel Aviv conference on cybersecurity.
“One of the lessons we learned is to go it alone is precarious; working together makes us stronger,” Mayorkas said at the conference on Monday. “The cybersecurity threat is borderless. Information must be shared.”
There is a critical need for countries across the world to share research and development and innovations, and the US and Israel can both be leaders in cybersecurity across the world, he said.
Increasing mobile and web usage and social media are among the key factors contributing to the “explosive increase” in cyber threats, MarketsandMarkets, a Dallas, Texas-based market research firm said in a report. The global cybersecurity market will be worth more than $170 billion by 2020, according to an estimate by MarketsandMarkets, with companies globally focusing on security solutions but also services.
Mohammed A. Malik says Donald Trump is wrong that Muslims won’t turn in other Muslims who are acting suspicious. His proof? Malik alerted the FBI to his friend, Orlando jihadist Omar Mateen, after he discovered he was watching jihadi propaganda videos online.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Malik describes knowing Mateen and his family since 2006 when they met at an iftar meal at a family member’s home. They all attended the same mosque in Florida and became quite close, often calling and texting, even playing jokes on each other.
At first, Malik, a Pakistani immigrant, said, “There was nothing to indicate that [Mateen] had a dark side, even when he and his first wife divorced” and recalled his friend complaining about discrimination against Muslims and saying he often heard “bigoted remarks about Islam” while working security at the St. Lucie County Courthouse.
Though Malik tried to paint Islam as a charitable and overtly peaceful religion throughout his piece, he wasn’t able to avoid the inevitable connection to his mosque where the first American-born suicide bomber emerged: Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, the 22-year-old Floridian who drove a truck full of explosives into a government office in Syria. Nor could he avoid the fact that Mateen also attended the same mosque where he assured the “imam never taught hate or radicalism.”
Malik had called the FBI after Abu-Salha’s attack to tell them what he could.
Three suspected Islamic State militants were arrested in Istanbul late on Tuesday after a tip-off they had planned an attack on a transgender march, Dogan News Agency said.
The suspects – one Turkish national and two from Russia’s volatile Dagestan – were ordered held in custody pending formal charges by an Istanbul court, the agency added. There was no immediate comment from authorities.
The reported arrests came after police late last week confiscated suicide vests during raids in two Istanbul suburbs. Officers said they had acted on intelligence reports the Sunni hardline group was plotting to attack the “Trans Pride” rally on June 19.
Authorities banned that march, citing security concerns and riot police fired tear gas and rubber pellets to disperse around 50 people who turned up.
Istanbul’s governor has also banned a gay pride march scheduled for this coming Sunday, but campaigners say they will press on with the parade.
There is entirely too much emotive language being used in our society’s rhetoric, especially in the aftermath of the Orlando shootings. If we are to face the myriad cultural, legal, security, and bigotry challenges with any degree of seriousness, we cannot allow ourselves to indulge in flinging around epithets whose effect is to distract from the sober reality and to trigger an emotional, rather than logical, reaction. That is why I am so shocked that people keep calling Adolph Hitler a “Nazi.” That is an emotive term, and we must avoid it.
Emotional reactivity is what the enemy wants. You will notice that I did not identify the enemy by name. That would grant the enemy a moral victory, of acknowledging that we even have that entity as an enemy. No, identifying that enemy by its name, or anything approximating its name, would also trigger an emotional reaction, and we cannot allow ourselves to use our hearts. We are best off avoiding mention of such things. So please, stop referring to the leader of the Third German Reich as a Nazi.
Not only does it generate a negative emotional reaction in people, it triggers. There are still those walking among us who fought Hitler, who suffered under Hitler and his followers. Have you no conscience, sparking such trauma again the souls of those heroes? Call him a fascist, a racist, a demagogue – those terms are fine. They are not nearly as emotionally laden. But by no means may we call him a Nazi. It might be factually true, but it alienates and sets on edge a whole group of people by implying that Nazis are just assumed to be like Hitler, and we need to be inclusive at a time such as this, not divisive.
The Republican Jewish Coalition announced on Tuesday that it was launching a new series of web-based advertisements pummeling the Democratic Party for the influence of what it characterized as “progressive anti-Israel Democrats.”
Three short video spots that premiered Tuesday each feature a prominent member of the Democratic Platform Committee, all of whom have been critical of Israel.
The spots highlight statements by Professor Cornel West and Arab- American Institute President James Zogby, as well as Congressman Keith Ellison.
The West video features a speech in which the outspoken professor proclaimed that “Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal because he has chosen to promote occupation and annihilation.”
“Radical Democrat, stridently anti-Israel, hand-selected member of the Democratic Platform Committee,” a voice intones. “Sadly this isn’t the old Democratic Party. It’s today’s Democratic Party,” the 30-second advertisements conclude, transitioning from a black-and-white picture of John F. Kennedy to a color picture of a smiling Hillary Clinton.
Ellison, Zogby and West were all appointed to the platform committee by Democratic contender Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders received five nominations to the committee, while front-runner Clinton received six and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appointed four.
The group will be tasked with drafting the party’s platform for approval at the annual convention in Philadelphia in late July.
Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said Tuesday that “as the presumptive Democratic nominee, it is up to secretary Clinton to maintain the bipartisan consensus on Israel and to do so she must denounce anti-Israel voices in her party like James Zogby, Cornel West, and Congressman Ellison.”
According to a new book by an ex-lover of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, as well as her husband, were equal-opportunity racists as well as people who disparaged mentally challenged children.
The Daily Mail reports that Hillary: The Other Woman, authored by Dolly Kyle, who claims she knew Bill Clinton since she was eleven years old, later dating him in high school and becoming his lover after they graduated, relates various instances in which Hillary and Bill Clinton’s verbiage was extremely offensive. Some of her anecdotes include:
3. Kyle says Hillary used the epithets “stupid k**e” and “f***ing Jew b*****d.” The anti-Semitic charges are also old news; The Guardian reported in 2000 of Hillary, “A book out today claims that 26 years ago she called Paul Fray, her husband’s campaign manager at the time, a “f***ing Jew bastard.”
The claims above from Kyle’s books are generally not new, but it certainly won’t help the Clintons that they are being brought before the public again.
With the Republican National Convention less than a month away, Donald Trump will soon make the critical move of selecting his running mate. Political pundits have often said the choice of a vice presidential candidate is the first important decision a party’s nominee makes and the first indication of how he or she will make decisions in the White House.
As Trump prepares to make his announcement, those on his current shortlist all share a history of expressing generic support for Israel — though two have generated controversy over how they’ve expressed that support.
On the issues, they all support Israel’s right to defend itself from regional threats, are critical of the Iran nuclear deal forged last summer, and have said the US must not allow Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon. None of them has articulated anything close to Trump’s call for the US to remain “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But in a presidential election year that has turned all conventions on their head, some policy differences between Trump and any potential running mate are becoming increasingly inevitable. The real-estate-mogul-turned-politician has had a difficult month — including controversies that are rendering his already tense relationship with the Republican establishment even more fraught — and reports have emerged that the list of those willing to join his ticket is rapidly dwindling.
Australia – Britain’s going to the polls to (hopefully) vote in favour of leaving the monstrous European Union, fount of so much mischief, but here in Australia we have our minds mainly on our forthcoming general election.
Here’s sitting member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby telling The Shtick’s Henry Greener why it’s folly to vote for the anti-Israel “irresponsible Greens,” party of Steph Hodgins-May with her “terrible insult” to a sizeable segment of the electorate, namely the local Jews, and of member for Melbourne Adam Bandt, of whom footage is shown at the end of the video addressing APAN (the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network) a few days ago.
Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren says she is a “believer” in Israel and rejects efforts to boycott it.
Mirren showered Israeli artists with praise Wednesday and said she opposed efforts by pro-Palestinian groups to boycott them.
Mirren is in Israel to host the Genesis Prize, an award known as “the Jewish Nobel.” The $1 million prize is being awarded to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for the disabled.
Mirren, who first visited as a volunteer in the 1960s, says she has a strong connection to Israel.
The recent attack against Lebanese and French author Amin Maalouf by the Lebanese BDS was not surprising or unexpected. These self-proclaimed intellectuals/resistance activists do not miss a single opportunity to launch vicious attacks against anyone who communicates directly or indirectly with an Israeli entity or individual. For this angry bunch, it doesn’t matter who committed this “felony” or what the subject of this communication was about. According to their ruling, any kind of interaction with an Israeli is a sin beyond all sins—a crime that should be severely punished by law.
But the disturbing outcome of the debate that started in Lebanese and regional media – and social media – was that the defenders of Amin Maalouf were too cautious to address the real issue at hand: that freedom of expression also entails freedom of communication and interaction. Most of the articles and posts aimed at defending Maalouf and criticizing the BDS initiative failed at their defense, and did more harm than good to Maalouf and anyone that does not enjoy certain privileges like Maalouf.
This debate – aimed at defending freedom of speech– gave Maalouf justifications and blamed him for making a mistake that should be forgiven. Also, it gave Maalouf an exclusive right to interact with an “enemy,” leaving the main question on the margins of the debate.
What the Lebanese BDS movement and their allies want is to keep us all isolated from and incapable of understanding our surroundings and the nuances beyond the sacredness of the “cause” and the “resistance.” This keeps them powerful and capable of controlling our instincts and reactions. However, the defenders of freedom and of Maalouf’s right to give an interview to an Israeli TV failed at attempting to break our isolation. They denied themselves and all of us this same right.
But isolation and ignorance are no longer acceptable in a world moving from the right to knowledge to the right and means of communicating this knowledge. We – in this part of the world – still deny ourselves the right to knowledge and understanding, and we only allow communication violence and cheap propaganda. And this exactly why we will always fail as people, individuals and states.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is not widespread and is only a major issue on some campuses in the US, according to prof. Theodore Sasson and prof. Leonard Saxe from Brandeis University.
Speaking about the changing demographics and politics of American Jewry during a session at the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, the two professors aimed to dispel common perceptions about US Jews and their relationship with Israel.
Contrary to widespread views in Israel, BDS is only present on certain campuses and is not deterring Jewish students from forging a stronger connection to Israel, the professors asserted.
“BDS is only a problem on certain campuses and on these campuses Jewish students perceive substantial hostility toward Israel,” Saxe said.
“What is interesting is that there are certain campuses where there is very little anti-Israel sentiment,” he added, saying that Brandeis, a Jewish university, was one such place.
Still, he said: “even on Brandeis’s campus Israel is the most difficult issue for students to discuss, more difficult than sexual assault and serious problems.”
Anti-Semitic incidents on US college and university campuses doubled in 2015, though the total number of anti-Jewish hate crimes remained historically low, the Anti-Defamation League watchdog said on Wednesday.
A new audit released by the ADL showed 90 anti-Semitic incidents were reported at 60 American campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents reported at 43 campuses in 2014.
The bulk of the incidents reported on campus were vandalism, and accounted for 10 percent of the total incidents reported in the US in 2015.
“Despite the increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus, such incidents are still relatively rare and the vast majority of Jewish students report feeling safe on their campuses,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “When such incidents do occur, they are generally condemned by administrators and the wider campus communities at their respective colleges.”
Last year, a total of 941 anti-Jewish incidents were reported, an increase of about 3% from the 912 incidents recorded the year prior. The bulk of the attacks were harassment and threats (508), followed by vandalism (377) and assault (56).
Most of the incidents took place in New York (198), followed by California (175), New Jersey (137), Florida (91), Pennsylvania (48) and Massachusetts (50). All of the states mentioned above are home to a sizable Jewish community.
In a move described as “bold”, “courageous”, and “defiant”, the jellyfish have returned to Israel despite intense pressure from the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Everybody’s favorite jellyfish, Ethan and Shoshanna, spoke to the Daily Freier about their personal journey.
“When the summer currents began pushing us northward from the Coast of Egypt, we just got bombarded with tweets from BDS.” explained Ethan. “Roger Waters wrote us an open letter. Max Blumenthal told us that his dad would NOT be happy if we went to Israel. Omar Barghouti told us that we would be collaborators if we arrived, but we checked his IP address and he was tweeting from the Tel Aviv University Library….”
The Daily Freier asked Ethan if he identified as a Zionist, and he explained his stance. “Of course, but I also identify as a citizen of the world. Jew, Muslim, Christian….in the end it really doesn’t matter. I will sting the living shit out of you regardless.”
At this point Shoshanna interjected with her views. “I’m just so happy to be back. I missed this place SO. MUCH. But to tell you the truth, I expected a bit of a warmer welcome from everyone. But that might just be Israel. Sometimes it takes a while to break into social groups.” Shoshanna spotted a family in shallow water 5 meters away. “They seem nice, maybe I will float toward them and introduce myself. Sometimes you just have to extend a tentacle of friendship.”
Geopolitics has come to Hollywood in an unusual way, the subject of a new lawsuit from Universal Cable Productions after its insurer refused to cover expenses after rocket attacks were hurled into Israel.
USA Network’s Dig, a mystery-thriller miniseries set in Jerusalem about an American FBI agent investigating a death, began filming in Israel before halting and then moving production to New Mexico as a result of security tensions in the region.
According to a complaint filed by Universal Cable Productions in California federal court on Monday, the U.S. State Department attributed the attacks to Hamas. When that happened, Universal says it submitted a claim to Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company, which denied coverage due to an exclusion for war or warlike action. Universal contends that coverage should have been provided because acts of terrorism are not excluded.
Thus, the very hot question this case poses is whether Hamas’ acts were symptomatic of war between sovereign nations or should be classified as an act of terrorism.
“The United States government does not recognize the Gaza Strip as a sovereign territorial nation, and does not recognize Hamas as a sovereign government,” states Universal in its complaint. “Rather, the United States government has officially designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. Nevertheless, Atlantic has ignored the United States government position and applicable law. It claims Hamas is a sovereign or quasi-sovereign government over the Gaza Strip territory (even though Atlantic admits the Gaza Strip is not a recognized sovereign nation), in a self-serving attempt to invoke the war exclusion and avoid its coverage obligations.”
According to the complaint, a representative of Atlantic told NBCUniversal in a letter dated July 28, 2014, that “the terrorism coverage should not apply” because the focus of the acts “is not the United States or its policy” and “the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury has not certified the [Hamas/Israel] events as acts of terrorism.”
Hamas’ policy has of course resulted in the misappropriation of thousands of tons of building materials intended for the repair and reconstruction of civilian homes damaged during the 2014 conflict (a topic severely under-reported by the BBC). It has also meant the spending of millions of dollars on tunnel construction rather than on public services for the impoverished residents of the Gaza Strip. In 2015 Israeli intelligence estimated that:
“Today, due to rising prices, the annual cost [of tunnel building] is estimated to be at least 18-20 million USD — or approximately 50% of the budget of Hamas’s military wing. Indeed, the total annual cost is likely even higher, as IDF intelligence confirms that there are additional expenditures that cannot currently be quantified.”
However, Rushdi Abu Alouf ignores that core issue of Hamas’ financial mismanagement, preferring to focus audience attentions elsewhere.
“It [Hamas] has also faced a crippling blockade by Israel and Egypt and financial sanctions from other countries since it won Palestinian elections in 2006.”
“And Hamas’s financial crisis is unlikely to be solved soon with Israel and Egypt continuing their border closures amid fear of attack by militants from Gaza.”
Any objective portrayal of Hamas’ “financial crisis” could not ignore the fact that the terror organisation’s prioritisation of rearmament and tunnel building plays a key role in the creation of economic and social pressures on ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip. The Gaza representative of the media organisation committed to enhancing “awareness and understanding of international issues” has however managed to completely conceal that decidedly large elephant in the room.
Dr. Tal Azran, head of the International Communication Program at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, gave his master’s degree class on “State Branding” a patriotic assignment: Find some way to give Israel a good name around the world.
Most students in the class came up with what one described as “the usual stuff hasbara (positive image-building) officials do in Israel: videos that show how beautiful the country is or how beautiful the girls are. ‘Start-Up Nation’ stuff.”
But one pod of four students decided to take things in a different direction.
Aviv Sarel, 31, herself a beautiful Israeli from Tel Aviv who is getting a degree in communications and new media, and three partners, one of whom is Sharon Hess, a Canadian in her 60s who immigrated to Israel more than 40 years ago and recently decided to go back to school, thought, “People aren’t really looking for ‘Beautiful Israel’ when they’re doing an online search.”
Speaking with The Media Line, she said, “We found out that there about 160,000 Google searches for the term ‘BDS’ [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and about 8,500 more for the term ‘boycott Israel.’ It’s a crazy amount of searches. Yet, when you type in ‘BDS’ there is zero pro-Israeli or even knowledgeable presence.”
At Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University, students expressed a range of reactions to the notion of an online battleground.
Once you start thinking about the war Israel and its supporters find themselves in as a drawn-out siege (as I’ve argued before), rather than a series of pitched engagements, a number of seemingly inexplicable phenomena become understandable.
Why didn’t the Arab states (with a few important exceptions) make their peace with Israel after losing one war after another? How can Palestinians pass their misery onto their grandchildren and great-grandchildren when options for a peaceful future (including a state of their own) have been at hand for decades? Why would anti-Israel propagandists bring their BDS proposals to the same organizations year after year after year, regardless of how many times they are told “no?”
Such choices only make sense once you see them not as discrete conflicts but as individual battles in a single war – a siege war – waged by an enemy sure that time is on its side.
At a certain level, behaving in such a way is rational. After all, Israel is a small country surrounded by dozens of large, powerful and wealthy rival states. Those that support the Jewish state (notably the Jewish people) are not without resources and alliances, but nothing like the resources and alliance network of her foes. There are not, for example, 50 Jewish states taking control of the UN and other bodies in order to turn them into weapons of aggression against their enemies.
With those kinds of resources to draw upon, a siege can go on indefinitely, especially since Israel’s disinterest in completely destroying foes with whom they ultimately want to live in peace means those foes do not risk destruction if they lose one or more battles.
American Jews feel “great concern at a resurgence of antisemitism” in the UK and across Europe, according to World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.
Mr Lauder, who was guest speaker at the Board of Deputies plenary session in London on Sunday, re-affirmed his organisations commitment to supporting Jews around the world.
He said: “Without question, there has been a resurgence of hate that we have not seen since the Second World War.
“We will support every Jewish community in the world, because of the upsurge of violence against us on this continent.”
The WJC president expressed his horror that “70 years and three generations after the end of the Second World War, antisemitism is back.
“People who should know better say the same old, outrageous things about Jews. Things they would never say out loud about other groups. This doesn’t just come from the far-right, but increasingly also from the left.”
A right-wing lawmaker in Germany accused of anti-Semitism in his writings has avoided being expelled from his party, at least for now.
Wolfgang Gedeon will remain a voting member of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament with no party affiliation after temporarily waiving his rights on Tuesday to represent the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) following a lengthy meeting with party leaders.
The leaders decided to postpone a decision on removing the lawmaker until after Gedeon produces an expert opinion on writings over the years in which he referred to the Holocaust as a “civil religion of the West,” called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin “a memorial to certain crimes,” and referred to Holocaust deniers as “dissidents.”
The party reportedly will reconsider the matter in September.
Gedeon, a medical doctor by profession and member of the state parliament since March, also has admired “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” calling the 19th-century anti-Semitic hoax a “brilliant concept of domination,” according to the Die Welt newspaper.
Minimizing or denying the Holocaust is illegal in Germany.
Israeli startups swept the board at the Asia Smartphone Apps Competition in Hong Kong late last week, winning three of the four top prizes.
Israel’s Tekoia, which has developed a universal remote, won the grand prize for the event, and came first in the advertising and marketing category. Castle Builders came first in the Games and Edutainment category, and Bazz, came in second in the creative lifestyle category. The other first place winner in creative lifestyle was a Hong Kong company Ticker International.
“We have conquered the competition, to put it bluntly,” Sagi Karni, Consul General Hong Kong and Macau, told ISRAEL21c. “This is our third year of participating in the Asia app competition, and this year has been the best one for us.”
“The growing success of the Israeli companies at this event shows the increasing strength of the app industry in Israel, and the growing interest of the Asian industry in Israeli apps,” added Elad Goz, the head of the Economic and Trade Mission at the Consulate General of Israel in Hong Kong.
“Out of nine qualifying apps, three are from Israel. It’s a clear sign of the interest from this part of the world. We look forward to next year’s event,” he said.
The Times Higher Education (THE) published on Monday the top 200 universities in Asia, with six Israeli institutions appearing in the top half of the ranking this year.
Two Israeli universities made the top 20 list – Hebrew University of Jerusalem tied at 17th with Korea University, and Tel Aviv University ranked 20th.
Technion Israel Institute of Technology ranked in 36th place, followed by Bar-Ilan University at 67th, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at 79th and the University of Haifa at 87th.
Singapore achieved unprecedented success by taking the top two places, with The National University of Singapore in the top spot and Nanyang Technological University in joint second place with the highest-ranked Chinese institution, Peking University.
“It is great news that six Israeli institutions make our ranking of the best universities in Asia, and that two of these make the elite top 20,” said Phil Baty, ranking editor for THE.
“This marks a significant improvement to last year’s ranking, in which Israel claimed only four places in the top 100. Israel is one of the stand-out university nations outside the dominant East Asian region.”
Israel’s Mobileye technology company was ranked sixth on a list of the world’s 50 “smartest” companies published on Tuesday by MIT Technology Review.
The first five spots were taken by Amazon, Baidu, Illumina, Tesla Motors, and Aquion Energy.
Describing Mobileye, MIT Technology Review wrote: “How can automakers compete with companies developing self-driving vehicles, such as Google parent Alphabet? One increasingly popular option is to partner with Mobileye, which makes machine vision systems and motion detection algorithms that warn drivers when they are deviating from driving lanes or about to collide with cars in front of them.
“Mobileye is already working on autopilot and collision avoidance technology for Audi, BMW, General Motors, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo, and recently inked an agreement with two undisclosed automakers to provide systems for fully autonomous cars.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon this week invited a delegation from the Special in Uniform (SIU) initiative to the UN to share their stories about how people with disabilities can contribute to society and to a nation.
Israel passed the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law in 1999 to protect the dignity and freedom of people with disabilities. In 2008, the UN followed in Israel’s footsteps by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international human rights treaty, to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. With SIU and other Israeli organizations continuing to draw global attention for their efforts, Israel is at the forefront of creating a society in which no one is left behind because of their abilities.
An Israeli organization, SIU now operates in partnership with Jewish National Fund (JNF) to integrate young people with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into society. SIU’s core belief is that everyone, no matter their physical or mental abilities, belongs and has the basic right to reach his or her full potential. SIU focuses on the unique talents of each individual participant and helps find a job within the IDF that matches their skill set. The program also mentors and guides SIU participants after army service, pairing them up with companies to obtain meaningful jobs and careers.
When Shachar was 2 years old, she asked her parents to keep her hair short. When she was 5, she asked them to throw out every skirt in her closet.
When Shachar was 16, he realized he was a boy, and when he was 19 he got the army, Israel’s most daunting bureaucracy, to add a pocket to his uniform shirt — a small but significant difference signifying maleness.
Shachar, now a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke Monday night at a gay pride month event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., explaining in hesitant and nervous tones how he became its first transgender officer. (Active duty personnel in the IDF do not reveal last names.)
“This is the right of the whole world, to be free and to be whoever we want to be,” Shachar said, with an unmistakable nod to last week’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando carried out by a man who pledged fealty to the Islamic State.
Israeli native son Itzhak Perlman was both king and jester while holding court at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on Tuesday, ahead of a June 23 ceremony for his most recent award, the Genesis Prize, called by some the “Jewish Nobel.”
Inaugurated in 2014, the prize is funded by a $100 million endowment and run in partnership by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, the private Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jewish Agency. Previous winners were former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Michael Douglas.
The jocular 70-year-old virtuoso violinist was awarded this year’s $1 million prize for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for the disabled. It comes on top of last year’s accolade, when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from a laughing US President Barack Obama, who dubbed Perlman “the most beloved violinist of our time.”
And while he’s a proud grandfather of 11, Perlman, who contracted polio at age four and has since conquered the world’s stages on an electric scooter or crutches, shows no signs of slowing down.
Perlman is an international household name, a rare personable classical music celebrity who is equally at home on late night talk shows as on PBS’ “Sesame Street” and “Great Performances.” His career has spanned decades and included genres untouched by most of his contemporaries.
Israel has a new national holiday: On Tuesday evening, the Knesset plenum voted to make “Aliyah Day,” a day recognizing the contribution of aliyah (immigration to Israel) and olim (new immigrants) to the state, an official holiday.
The bill to recognize “Aliyah Day” was the initiative of Likud MK Miki Zohar. The bill sets the Hebrew date for “Aliyah Day” as the 10th of Nisan, which falls in the spring shortly before Passover and is believed to be the date when Joshua crossed the Jordan River with the Israelites, an event considered the first aliyah to the Land of Israel.
However, because the date conflicts with the Knesset’s Passover recess, “Aliyah Day” will be marked on the seventh of Heshvan, in the fall, a few weeks after Sukkot.
“Aliyah to Israel is the basis of our existence here. There is no other country in the world whose residents returned to it after 2,000 years of exile and proved to the world that a people cannot be an occupier in their own land,” Zohar said.
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