September 25, 2022

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06/29 Links: Cory Booker’s Hypocrisy on Louis Farrakhan; PA arrests Hebron businessman who attended Bahrain conference; Iran sought in 2018 weapons proliferation technology for its nuclear program

From Ian:

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Cory Booker’s Hypocrisy on Louis Farrakhan
When former vice preisident Joe Biden spoke of the civility he practiced in the Senate with segregationist Democrat senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, my friend Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), among others, saw an opportunity, and jumped all over him.

He condemned Biden’s remarks and demanded he apologize.

“Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people and for everyone,” Cory said in a statement. He followed up with a tweet of a photo of black marchers in the Memphis sanitation workers strike of 1968 holding signs that said, “I am a man.”

Cory is right. Biden should not be praising segregationist senators. Segregation is affront to the Biblical insistence that all humans are equally God’s children and that we are all one human family. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the greatest American of the twentieth century by dismantling segregation, a movement for which he paid with his life.

But how does this square with Cory’s bizarre comments about being open to meeting with the foremost antisemite in America, Louis Farrakhan?

Asked whether he would meet the Nation of Islam leader at a campaign event in Nevada, Cory said, “I don’t feel the need to do that, but I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say.” He then added that he is very acquainted with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam from his time as mayor of Newark, N.J., stating, “I am very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and values.”


What Cory should, of course, have said, is this:

“I just condemned a former vice president of the United States for saying he hung out with segregationist senators. So of course I would not meet with Louis Farrakhan, who has called Jews ‘termites,’ ‘satanic,’ and referred to Hitler, who murdered six million Jews, as ‘a very great man.’ I have enjoyed wide moral and financial support from the Jewish community throughout my political career. In addition, I served as President of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s L’Chaim Society at the University of Oxford and I’ve spoken at synagogues throughout the United States who treated me with love and respect. I would never insult the my Jewish friends and supporters by meeting with a man who demonizes Jews and incites violence against them, especially a time of rising global antisemitism.”

But Cory did not say any of that. Instead, he left the door open to meeting a man who employs Nazi terminology about Jews. (Everyone knows the one thing you do with termites is exterminate them.)

Putin’s War

In late 2013, hundreds of thousands of angry Ukrainians took to the streets to demand the resignation of Viktor Yanukovych, their country’s corrupt, pro-Russian president. Following months of violent clashes in which dozens of people were killed, Yanukovych fled to Moscow and by March 2014, Russian forces had occupied the Crimean Peninsula and began fomenting separatist uprisings in the Ukrainian east.

During the revolution, the Jewish community of Kiev had been subjected to a series of anti-Semitic attacks and in the aftermath of the revolution, many worried that their situation would deteriorate further. However, despite a Russian propaganda campaign warning about the rise of Ukrainian fascism, the real threat to the country’s Jews came not from domestic ultranationalists or anti-Semites but rather from Russia itself. In April 2014, Russian-backed separatist fighters declared a People’s Republic in the city of Donetsk near the Russian border, setting off a war that still rages to this day.

Over the course of the conflict, more than a million and a half people were displaced, including many Jews living under separatist occupation. Among those who fled the war zone were the overwhelming majority of Donetsk’s estimated prewar population of 11,000.

One of them was Pinchas Vishedski, a diminutive Israeli Chabad Hasid who had arrived in Donetsk soon after the fall of the Soviet Union and had worked for decades to rebuild Jewish life in the city.

Two days after reinstatement, Labour MP again suspended amid anti-Semitism row

The UK Labour Party on Friday reportedly reimposed the suspension of an MP two days after it was lifted, amid an ongoing furore over the party’s handling of complaints of anti-Semitism.

Chris Williamson, a Corbyn ally, was filmed in February telling a meeting that the party was “too apologetic” and had “given too much ground” in its response to anti-Semitism allegations.

He was reinstated Wednesday after being suspended pending an ethics review.

However a member of the panel which allowed Williamson’s return to the party, Keith Vaz MP, said he felt the decision should be reconsidered.

Following Vaz’s comments, the Labour general secretary, Jennie Formby, told the party’s national executive that Williamson’s case would be on the agenda for the next meeting of its disputes committee, the Guardian reported.

“Subsequently, the whip is not restored as the decision is still pending,” a source told the BBC.

Williamson, an MP from Derby North, tweeted on Friday that he is “naturally concerned by the lack of due process and consistency in how my case is being handled.”

Behind the scenes of the first morning minyan in Manama in over 70 years

“They may not make peace in Bahrain, but they made a minyan in Bahrain,” David Makovsky, a DC-based think tanker specializing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Wednesday, as he was taking off his prayer shawl and phylacteries.

We had just concluded the first morning service held in this Gulf nation’s only Jewish house of worship in more than 70 years. Makovsky was sitting in the row in front of Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, who had come to Bahrain to present the first part of the administration’s peace proposal.

“Participating in shacharit, the morning prayer service, today in a synagogue in Bahrain was very special to me,” Greenblatt told me later on Wednesday. “It was a great example of what can be and should be in this region.”

Just 24 hours earlier, nobody would have dreamed of organizing a minyan — the quorum of 10 men required for a full Orthodox Jewish service — in this Muslim-Arab nation, least of all myself.

It was only when I spotted at least five rabbis as I strolled around the site of the US-led economic peace workshop in Manama this week that I thought it might just be possible.

But first let’s take a step back.

I had tried to arrange a visit to the city’s synagogue for weeks ahead of my trip to Manama for the US-led economic workshop, but the local Jewish community was initially hesitant to open its doors to Israeli journalists. Aware of the acute sensitivity of being a Jew in a Muslim country that does not have formal relations with Israel, I sent several messages, through different channels, to community leaders asking for a private visit, to no avail.

On Tuesday afternoon, my colleague Barak Ravid from Channel 13 suddenly announced to the small contingent of Israeli reporters in Manama that the community had apparently received the green light from the Bahraini authorities, and that we would be given a tour of the synagogue.

We were told to come to an unmarked building on the city’s small Sasaah Avenue at 4 p.m., where Bahraini-Jewish diplomat Houda Nonoo would take us inside and show us around.

Trump: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will be reached only when I am president

US President Donald Trump, during the conclusion of the G20 summit in Japan, said that if a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not reached during his presidency, then it will never happen.

“With me being president, if you don’t get that deal done, it will never happen,” Trump said.

This comes exactly one week after the “Peace to Prosperity” economic plan for the “Deal of the Century” was released to the public. The plan was released ahead of the Bahrain summit hosted throughout the past week by Jared Kushner, which focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During the Bahrain summit, Kushner said that he will reveal the political portion of the peace plan “soon.” He also said that the plan will go forth when “both sides will be ready to say yes,” but admitted that such an occurrence may never happen.

Kushner placed some blame on the Palestinian Authority, saying that “the Palestinians do not have a particularly good record when it comes to closing deals.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as well, said that “the missing element is the Palestinian presence, which is a pity.”

“It is unclear what their purpose is in boycotting the meeting,” he continued. “It is intended for them. No one asked them to give up their ambitions. We do not understand it, but that does not mean we will wait for them because that can take time.”

PA arrests Hebron businessman who attended Bahrain conference

The Palestinian Authority arrested a Palestinian businessman who attended the US-led economic conference in Bahrain this past week where the Trump administration unveiled the economic aspects of its proposed peace plan, a senior PA official said on Saturday.

Saleh Abu Mayala was arrested in Hebron by Palestinian intelligence forces in an area under Palestinian Authority security control, the Hebron-based senior PA official told The Times of Israel.

The official said he wasn’t aware of the reason for the arrest, but said that Ramallah might be seeking intelligence on the Bahrain conference.

Palestinian officials refused to attend the summit and urged Arab states not to participate. But some Palestinian entrepreneurs were present.

PA security forces also attempted to arrest Ashraf Ghanam, a Palestinian businessman who attended the conference, in Hebron, but he successfully fled to an Israeli-controlled part of the city, another Palestinian businessman who participated in the confab said in a phone call.

PA calls Bahrain conference a ‘stunning failure’ for Trump administration

The Palestinian Authority hit back at US President Donald Trump on Saturday, accusing him and his administration of pursuing a policy of “punishment and intimidation” surrounding the much-vaunted Bahrain conference this past week.

In a statement to the press, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the conference a “stunning failure,” despite the “policy of punishment and intimidation used by the Trump administration against everyone.”

The charge came days after Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner unveiled the economic aspects of a proposed US peace plan at the two-day summit in the Gulf state and was in response to Trump’s remark earlier Saturday that there will never be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement if one isn’t negotiated during his presidency.

Palestinian officials refused to attend the summit in Manama, and called on Arab states not to participate. Though there were brief tensions surrounding immediate confirmations to attend, officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco were all present in Manama.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017 when the US president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinian’s refusal to attend the Bahrain conference should “constitute a clear message to Mr. Trump and his administration that the policy of dictates, threats and coercion is no longer effective with our steadfast people and its legitimate leadership headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, which rejected all suspicious deals aimed at the liquidation of our national cause.”

In a statement Thursday, Abbas argued that a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must precede projects to develop the Palestinian economy.

“We say that national rights are not pieces of real estate that are purchased and sold and that arriving at a political solution that guarantees freedom, dignity, independence and justice for our people must precede any economic programs or projects because that will create stability and security for everyone,” Abbas charged.

After US-Russia summit, Netanyahu says Israel won’t stop hitting Iran in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday vowed to continue to act against Iranian entrenchment in Syria, days after a high-level trilateral meeting with the US and Russia.

Netanyahu also warned that an Israeli retreat from the Jordan Valley in the West Bank would lead to war, speaking at a ceremony for pilots graduating from the Israeli Air Force’s 178th flight school training program.

“We will continue to act against Iran’s attempt to establish itself in Syria, with the air force having a central role,” Netanyahu told the new pilots.

“We always remember that we must be ready to protect ourselves with our own strength against every threat, that is the basic principle which assures our future.”

The comments came two days after Jerusalem hosted US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Russia’s security adviser Nikolai Patrushev, with National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, for talks revolving around Syria and Iran.

GPS jamming affecting Israel comes from Russian base in Syria: US researcher

The signal that has been disrupting satellite navigation for planes flying through Israeli airspace in recent weeks originates inside a Russian air base inside Syria, according to data collected by a US-based researcher.

This interference to the Global Positioning System (GPS) reception does not appear to be specifically directed at Israel, but rather the Jewish state is likely collateral damage in an effort by Moscow both to protect its troops from drone attacks and to assert its dominance in the field of electronic warfare, Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas, told The Times of Israel this week.

Since last spring, pilots flying through the Middle East, specifically around Syria, have noted that their GPS systems have displayed the wrong location or stopped working entirely. This came shortly after a large suicide drone attack on Russian forces in Syria.

Using a series of sensors onboard the International Space Station, Humphreys and his team have been tracking the phenomenon for several months. They were able to identify the geographic source of the signal: the Khmeimim Air Base, which was built by Russia in 2015 along Syria’s western coast as one of Moscow’s permanent facilities as part of its support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.

“[The signal] is so strong that I can see it from space,” said Humphreys, an aerospace engineer, specializing in satellite-based navigation.

Similar GPS disruptions have been reported in recent years around the Black Sea, along Russia’s borders with Norway and Finland, and near the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s palace.

Yisrael Medad: Another Unpublished Letter-to-the-Editor

Sent to the New York Review of Books:

Rashid Khalidi quotes Lord Balfour, writing in 1919 to the anti-Zionist Lord Curzon, as an example and proof that “the Palestinians…do not warrant being consulted about their national future” (‘The Neocolonial Arrogance of the Kushner Plan’, June 12). Further, Khalidi points out, in contrast, that Balfour was of the opinion that “Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

Khalidi is being a bit anachronistic. In 1919, there were no “Palestinians” per se. And if they were, they were not solely Arabs but all persons who lived in the area, of all religion and ethnicity. Formally, Palestinian nationality came about through the 1925 Palestinian Citizenship Order in Council of the British Mandate, a requirement of Article 7 of the 1922 League of Nations decision to reconstitute the Jewish people’s national home through their “historical connection” to the country. In 1919, the Arabs residing in the territory referred to themselves as “Southern Syrians” and throughout the 1920s, petitioned the Mandate Commission in Geneva to have the country reunited with Syria.

Ironically, if it were not for the Jews and Zionism, there would be no “Palestine” in a geo-political sense, nor a specific Arab “Palestinian people”.

To clarifty my last point: the first time “Palestine” was provided borders was under the Mandate. Previously, the Ottoman Empire had divided it up multiple ways multiple times. Districts altered and reshaped.

The first time a “Palestinian Nationality” was declared and a passport crated was under the Mandate.

And the Mandate was created for the Jews to reconstitute their historic national home in Palestine.

Pennsylvania officials attend events with anti-Israel CAIR representatives

Several state and local officials in Pennsylvania participated in recent days in events hosted by members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is known for spreading antisemitic messages.

US Senator Bob Casey organized a town hall meeting at Dickinson College, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), and invited CAIR local board member Aaysha Noor to moderate.

CAIR-PA (CAIR-Pennsylvania) later also co-hosted a town hall meeting in Carlisle, PA which included state representatives Movita Johnson-Harrell and Patty Kim.

CAIR-PA’s Executive Director Jacob Bender has been quoted calling Israeli treatment of Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border a “massacre.” He additionally claimed that “Israelis and their supporters in the US are almost euphoric at the number of Arabs dead.”

Bender also equated Israel to jihadists groups in a letter he wrote in 2014 in which he stated that CAIR denounces injustice and violence, “whether it is ISIS beheading American journalists in Iraq, or Israeli troops killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, or the Taliban murdering over 150 school children in Pakistan.”

CAIR has been involved in the past in attempts to devalue the problem of antisemitism, such as when the organization tried to stifle an “Antisemitism Awareness” bill that would have directed the US Department of Education to adopt a widely-accepted working definition of antisemitism.

Gazan arson balloon sparks fire in southern Israel

An arson balloon launched from the Gaza Strip ignited a fire Saturday near Kibbutz Nir Am in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, marking a breach in an unofficial truce renewed on Friday between Israel and Hamas.

Israel’s firefighting teams arrived on the scene and extinguished the blaze.

The latest incident came after incendiary balloons from Gaza sparked 14 fires Friday in southern Israel, hours after Israel granted a number of economic concessions to the Strip in exchange for an end to arson attacks and other violence along the border.

This week approximately 100 fires were started by balloon-borne arson devices launched from Gaza, according to figures from the local fire departments.

In response to the ongoing attacks — a breach of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza terror groups — Israel halted the flow of gasoline and diesel fuel into the Strip on Tuesday, a move that drew criticism from human rights advocates who condemned it as collective punishment.

On Friday, as part of a renewed truce agreement, an unnamed Israeli official confirmed that Israel had resumed fuel deliveries that were cut off earlier in the week and extended the fishing zone up to 15 nautical miles from 10.

80 Palestinians injured in East Jerusalem clashes after police shooting

Dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Friday, after police killed a man who launched fireworks at them in the area on Thursday.

At least 80 protesters suffered light injuries in the Friday night violence, the Ynet news site reported.

Earlier in the day, around 30 rioters threw stones at police, who responded with stun grenades. Later, demonstrators were again launching fireworks at officers in the restive neighborhood.

Security forces killed 20-year-old Mohammad Samir Obeid on Thursday during a skirmish between police and Palestinians in the neighborhood. Police said Obeid launched fireworks at them from a close range, “endangering the lives” of officers.

Issawiya residents have been clashing with security forces since the shooting. Overnight, a community center in the neighborhood that often coordinates with Israeli authorities was burned down in an apparent protest.

A Jerusalem court on Friday reportedly rejected a request to release Obeid’s body to his family for burial.

UN Clash: Miss Iraq Sarah Idan Calls Out Abuses By Iraqi Government

Iran sought in 2018 weapons proliferation technology for its nuclear program

Germany’s federal intelligence said on Thursday in its new report on security threats that Iran’s regime worked to obtain equipment for its nuclear program that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.

According to the 388 report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, which covers a range of security threats to Germany’s democracy, the intelligence document said the agency “was only able to identify isolated indications of Iran’s proliferation-related procurement attempts for its nuclear program compared with the previous year.

“Such indications emerge when the methodological approach to the procurement of goods, their possible use also in a nuclear program and / or existing findings on the final recipient or the requesting body point to a potential proliferation-relevant procurement background.”

The intelligence report covers 2018 and said, “The spreading of atomic, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction or the use for their manufacture and corresponding products, as well as weapons carrier systems such as rockets and drones, including this Know-how, is called proliferation.” According to the definition of proliferation contained in the new federal intelligence report and other German intelligence documents examined by the Post, the Iranian regime’s activities meet the criteria of seeking to purchase technology that can be used for weapons of mass destruction.

The intelligence report added, “To the extent that verification of these indications [of Iran’s proliferation-related procurement attempts] was possible, it did not provide evidence of a breach of the JCPOA.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal reached between the world powers and the clerical regime in Tehran.

Iran says it will soon exceed enriched uranium limit under nuclear deal

Iran said on Saturday that it will soon exceed the limit for enriched uranium reached under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, after talks in Vienna with the remaining signatories to the deal “could not satisfy Iran’s just demands,” an Iranian official said according to the Fars news agency.

“As the commission meeting in Vienna could not satisfy Iran’s just demands … Iran is determined to cut it commitments to the deal and the 300 kilograms enriched uranium limit will be soon breached,” an unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Tehran has been pushing for Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and the European Union – which signed onto the deal negotiated under the Obama administration – to save the controversial agreement after the US under Donald Trump withdrew last year, and to stem Washington’s increasing sanctions.

Iran has asked European partners to advance the EU-proposed Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) which would help ensure trade between Iran and Europe by allowing buyers and sellers to exchange money without relying on the usual cross-border financial transactions.

After a meeting on Friday in Vienna, Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said that for the INSTEX system to be useful, “Europeans need to buy oil from Iran, or to consider credit lines for this mechanism.”

Iran recently quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. It previously said it would surpass a 300-kg stockpile limit set by the accord by Thursday, but then said it was below the limit Wednesday and there would be no new assessment until “after the weekend.” It is currently a holiday weekend in Iran.

Iran says progress made at nuclear meeting but ‘still not enough’

A meeting of the remaining partners in the Iranian nuclear deal produced some progress but not enough to satisfy Tehran’s demands, a senior Iranian official said Friday, offering little prospect for now of the country backing away from a move to surpass a uranium stockpile threshold that could doom the agreement.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said after meeting with senior officials from Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia and the European Union that a complex barter-type system set up to keep trade with Iran afloat is now active. But he insisted that for the so-called INSTEX system to be useful, “Europeans need to buy oil from Iran, or to consider credit lines for this mechanism.”

Araghchi described the meeting in Vienna, a regular quarterly gathering of signatories to the 2015 accord, as positive and constructive. He said it was “one step forward” compared with previous sessions, “but it is still not enough, and it is still not meeting Iran’s expectations.”

The 2015 agreement was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord last year and he has imposed new sanctions on Iran in hopes of forcing Tehran into negotiating a wider-ranging deal.

Iran recently quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. It previously said it would surpass a 300-kilogram stockpile limit set by the accord by Thursday, but then said it was below the limit Wednesday and there would be no new assessment until “after the weekend.” It is currently a holiday weekend in Iran.

Iran ‘Unlikely to Comply with US Demands’

i24NEWS’ senior diplomatic correspondent Christian Malard offers his analysis of the rising tensions between the Iranian regime and the administration of Donald Trump.

Iran-backed militia says it took part in assault on Bahrain embassy in Iraq

An official with an Iran-backed militia said members of his group comprised the majority of protesters outside the Bahraini embassy in the Iraqi capital that was attacked this week. But he said he doesn’t know who stormed the mission.

Jaafar al-Husseini, spokesman for the Kataeb Hezbollah, said that storming the embassy was a “natural right for the protesters” to express their anger over Bahrain’s hosting of a US-led economic conference to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

He told the Associated Press that the group’s supporters did not storm the embassy in Baghdad.

Iraq is home to Iran-backed militias and the embassy attack comes amid tensions between the United States and Iran in the Middle East. Iraq has close relations with both Washington and Tehran and has been trying to ease tensions between them.

Protesters stormed the embassy compound in Baghdad Thursday night, removing the flag from above the building and replacing it with a Palestinian banner to protest the economic conference held in the Gulf nation to push Washington’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

No one was hurt in the standoff that lasted more than an hour and later in the night, Iraqi security forces were in control of the area.

Why is Turkey So Determined to Buy Russia’s S-400 System?

Turkey remains insistent on purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, despite warnings from the U.S. against it and concerns among European NATO allies. Why is it so insistent on doing so? TRT World analyst Yusuf Erim analyzes.

“When You Make Generalizations about Muslims, All 1.6 Billion Muslims Are Offended,” Says Apologist with Tenuous Grasp on Concept of Irony (satire)

The question of what constitutes an offensive remark about minority groups continues to plague us in somewhat the same way Miley Cyrus’ twerking most often results in involuntary vomiting. Muslims are often cited as being among the most easily offended people, in what has become a close race with hipsters, old-timey Southern women who say, “well, I never!” and Donald Trump who has skin as thick as Kanye. And while it remains obvious to most people that not all Muslims can be offended by any single remark or action, this fact ironically flees from apologists trying to make that exact point.

In an interview earlier this week, Yousef Mohamed, a young, hotshot journalist and political pundit was being interviewed about the alleged oversensitivity of his coreligionists. Mohamed was incensed by the implication that all “1.6 billion Muslims could be grouped together and generalized about.” Ironically however, he then proceeded to make a sweeping generalization of his own, asserting that such accusations serve only to insult all those Muslims about which no generalizations can be made. So, what can we learn from this odd tactic? Well, we’d really rather not say, lest we make a generalization about which people should or should not learn lessons based on points we may or may not be making.

Bestselling Jewish novelist removed from two UK literary events

Bestselling novelist Richard Zimler, has been dropped from two “literary events” in the United Kingdom due to two cultural event coordinators terminating publicizing his novel due to feared outrage from anti-Israel activists, according to the Guardian.

Zimler was “deeply shocked and upset,” saying that he had no words to be said initially after being told, and now worries that an “atmosphere of fear” and antisemitism means that Jewish professionals will now be denied work.

“I never expected my career in the UK would be prejudiced by my being Jewish. It made Britain seem like a place I didn’t know and maybe never knew. Even just asking about my religious affiliation struck me as outrageous,” Zimler wrote in the Observer.

While his publicist added, “I was very shocked and surprised. People in the literary world are not usually narrow-minded. Everyone who knows Richard knows he is his own person.”

Zimler has won many awards for his works, publishing 11 novels translated into 23 languages. Now living in Portugal, the irony is within the fact that Zimler has no connection to the State of Israel nor does he have family in the country.

“If cultural organizations are afraid of hosting events for Jewish writers, then Britain has taken a big step backwards,” Zimler said in his Observer op-ed, stating further that he has been “long endeavored in [his] novels to give voice to people who have been systematically silenced by prejudice and bigotry.”

More monochrome BBC WS radio reporting on the Bahrain workshop

That of course would have been the ideal opportunity for Yolande Knell to point out that some 7% of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget – around $330 million a year according to a BBC report from a year ago and more according to other sources – is spent on payments to terrorists and their families. Knell however refrained from providing listeners with that relevant information.

Knell: “Can President Trump fix the Palestinian economy?”

Issam: “No. From what we saw when he became the president, he has done nothing to help the Palestinian economy unfortunately.”

Knell: “With financial woes at the heart of so much suffering here, it’s easy to see why White House aides view the economy as a way to exert influence. But so far, few Palestinians are buying their argument that the ‘deal of the century’ could be their opportunity of the century.”

The rest of that nearly twelve minute-long item was given over to a conversation between Tim Franks and David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank who attended the workshop in Bahrain. During that conversation Mr Makovsky observed that “solving the whole conflict” is “easier said than done”, noting – as a former Obama administration official – that:

“We had a president who was very engaged on the Palestinian issue and we couldn’t get even an answer from the Palestinian Authority…”

Tim Franks chose not to follow up on that statement and once again BBC audiences heard a long yet monochrome report on the Bahrain economic workshop which avoided the key issue of the Hamas-Fatah split and sidestepped the topic of Palestinian terrorism.

BBC R4 Bahrain conference coverage continues – part one

In other words, not only does the BBC appear to have failed to fact check Shah’s claim that the phrase ‘the deal of the century’ was coined by Mr Trump, it has adopted the language used by Palestinian officials who opposed the US initiative before it was even made public.

Ritula Shah went on:

Shah: “Well Palestinian leaders have rejected the plan and won’t be in Bahrain. Israeli officials haven’t been invited because of the Palestinians’ absence. Several Arab countries agreed to attend but, out of solidarity with the Palestinians, have sent more junior ministers.”

While that may be the case as far as Egypt and Morocco are concerned, Shah’s portrayal obviously does not give listeners an accurate portrayal of the event because it fails to clarify that the finance ministers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain participated in the workshop along with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the head of the IMF, the president of the World Bank and ten Palestinian businessmen.

Shah: “But the White House says they’re interested instead in appealing to ordinary Palestinians keen to improve their parlous economic prospects. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell has been speaking to some of them.”

Listeners then heard the same report from Knell that was aired on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on the same day – a report was similar to both a televised report billed Palestinian poverty which she produced for BBC One’s ‘News at Ten’ on June 20th and an article she wrote which was published on the BBC News website on June 25th under the headline “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ falls flat in West Bank”.

BBC R4 Bahrain conference coverage continues – part two

An audibly irritated Shah once again interrupted her interviewee.

Shah [interrupts]: “Well is it a distraction if you…but is it a distraction if the ultimate goal is a two-state solution?”

Lerner: “The ultimate goal is peace. Whether it’s two states or one state or any number, any other formulation is to be determined. But by making the issue of settlements the dominant one in the discussion of the challenges facing the Middle East and facing the Palestinians, you actually take attention away from the more critical issues.”

Shah: “So just finally; we have yet to see this political road map or political plan that you talk about but should Palestinians in a sense still keep their hopes up that there could be a two-state solution under the Trump administration’s proposals?”

Lerner: “Absolutely. They should engage in it. They should continue to keep their hopes up because the goal of the Trump administration’s plans is to settle all of the disputes, have a peace agreement and improve the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Remarkably, Shah’s line of questioning throughout this whole interview mirrored the Palestinian Authority and PLO talking points complaining that the economic section of the plan does not include the political issues which – as had already been clarified – will be in its second part. Predictably, the only ‘political issue’ promoted twice by Shah was “illegal settlements” but she had nothing to say on relevant issues such as the Hamas-Fatah split or the fact that Hamas is not interested in a two-state solution or any other type of resolution of the conflict.

So while Radio 4 listeners did finally get to hear a different view of the Bahrain economic workshop in this interview, Shah nevertheless ensured that it avoided subjects far more relevant to the issue of the chances of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than ‘settlements’.

California Jews uneasy as man who threatened synagogue shooting allowed bail

A 23-year-old East Bay man who threatened on a gaming website to murder “over 30” Jews and police officers wants his gun back.

Ross Farca of Concord, California returned to court this week to contest a restraining order that would extend a prohibition on his possession of firearms.

Farca was released on bail days after his arrest on June 10. The move shocked the local Jewish community: According to a police investigation, Farca professed admiration for the Poway and Christchurch shooters, assembled his own AR-15-style assault weapon, and on a gaming website detailed a plan to mow down “clusterf***s of Kikes.”

Jewish Vocational Service, based in downtown San Francisco, circulated an email with Farca’s mugshot, warning recipients to contact police if they saw him. One congregation hired a professional guard for Shabbat services on June 21 and requested an increased police presence, according to a community-wide email.

A group of anxious parents and grandparents from the East Bay Jewish community who attended a preliminary hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez on Tuesday wanted to know why Farca was released on bail in the first place.

One father in the group described Farca as looking “creepy” and “disturbed.”

“I sat behind him in the courtroom while he was talking quietly with his lawyer,” said the individual, who wished to be identified only as a “concerned East Bay Jewish parent” out of fear of being targeted. “Reading about his boasts of body counts, I thought — this man wants to kill my son.”

Salesforce to turn Israel into second-largest global innovation hub

San Francisco-headquartered cloud technology giant Salesforce will significantly expand its Israel-based operations in the coming years, a company executive said on Thursday, making Israel the company’s second-largest research and development hub worldwide.

Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff and Parker Harris, Salesforce is recognized as a global leader in the field of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) applications. More than 150,000 companies use the company’s platform today.

The company’s R&D facilities in Israel, built on acquisitions made in recent years, already play an important role in building strategic technologies and products for the company. The centers focus primarily on developing solutions in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity.

Salesforce, which first entered into the Israeli market in 2011, now intends to recruit dozens of new employees, both this year and next, to turn Israel into the company’s second-largest research and development center worldwide, after the United States.

“For our customers, it is a statement that we are here to stay, and reassures the Israeli market that we are here to deliver a better service and with much more manpower,” Olivier Elbaz, Salesforce senior regional vice president, told The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the company’s Basecamp Tel Aviv 2019 event. “Combining the three pillars of artificial intelligence, marketing and analytics through data, and security will deliver innovation for our hundreds of thousands of customers around the world.”

Salesforce has made five acquisitions in Israel to date, including the purchase of AI-powered marketing intelligence platform Datorama for approximately $850 million in July 2018 and, most recently, conversational intelligence platform Bonobo for an reported $40m.-$50m in May.

The company has also invested in 12 Israeli companies to date and is expected to further widen its investment portfolio in Israel after Salesforce Ventures, the company’s venture arm, launched a $125m. fund to back enterprise cloud start-ups in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Comedian, actor, film director Mel Brooks celebrates 93

Iconic Jewish-American comedian, actor, and film director Mel Brooks marked his 93’d birthday on Friday, and was congratulated by peers and fans for his outstanding life-long career.

Brooks, who was born as Melvin Kaminsky in 1926, is one of the few people to ever win all meaningful awards in American entertainment, including the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy and the Tony awards.

Brooks rose to fame in 1968 with his first movie The Producers, leading to two cult movies in 1974, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles.

Brooks is famous for creating brilliant parodies such as the 1993 film Robin Hood: Men in Tights and the 1987 Spaceballs.

His 1981 film History of the World included a song called Jews in Space.

Film director David Lynch congratulated “the great Mel Brooks.”

Matt Oswalt confessed to watching outtakes from Young Frankenstein “at least once a month when I need cheering up.”

Natan Sharansky’s lifetime award for lifelong zionism promotion

Natan Sharansky was a childhood hero of mine. Though his struggle was not in my generation, I grew up on the stories my US-born father told of the activism and demonstrations for Soviet Jewry. In 1977, when the campaign to free Soviet Jewry was gaining momentum, my father was sent to Russia to make contact with Soviet Jews and offer them both material and emotional help.
As new immigrants to Israel, my parents traveled by bus from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport to stand in the crowd to welcome Sharansky just hours after he was released from prison, on the historic February 11, 1986, night he landed in Israel – the place he had fought so hard to reach.

Thirty-three years later, I found myself sitting in a classroom at Shalem College in Jerusalem, listening to Sharansky deliver a riveting course of lectures.

The former prisoner of Zion presented his unbelievable personal history, highlighting the important moments. Very quickly, my fellow students and I realized that he was not just telling his story, but a doctrine born of the Russian prison cells where he sat in solitary confinement, as an inspirational struggle for the freedom of the Jewish people and all of humanity.

It is a deeply philosophical and well-thought out doctrine whose main premise is based on two concepts: freedom and identity. Sharansky believes these two ideas are the most essential and important values to which human beings should strive. He showed us how he applied them in a variety of scenarios, from the fight of dissidents in the former Soviet Union to his work as a minister in the Israeli government.

Sharansky is convinced that these concepts apply to people around the world, particularly those who have no freedom. Most importantly is how they apply to democracy, the form of government Sharansky passionately supports and advocates. Sharansky challenged us to see how European and Western civilization are giving up their identity, while other civilizations in the Middle East, which surround the State of Israel, have given up on freedom. He argues that it is a universal struggle to achieve both of these values, and he thinks that the miracle of Israel brings both these concepts together in one nation state.

On June 11, the prisoner of Zion became a Guardian of Zion, the 23rd annual recipient of the prestigious prize from Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Jewish Studies and the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies.

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