September 25, 2020

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07/02 Links Pt2: Why is the ADL aligning itself with Al Sharpton?; U.S. Deputy Anti-Semitism Envoy: Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism; Appeals Court frees Molotov Cocktail Lawyers on bail and home confinement

From Ian:

Why is the ADL aligning itself with Al Sharpton?
My public relations agency has represented a myriad of interests promoting minority communities. In fact, over the years we have represented a number of individuals who are significant donors to the Anti-Defamation League, the latest organization working together with Sharpton. Civil rights issues in the African American community are indeed serious; and they should be taken seriously by leaders of the Jewish community. Indeed, it is important for there to be a united front among those in other minority communities in calling out racism in any way it may manifest itself. It’s incumbent upon us as Jews to call out racism – and I’ve been personally heartened by the participation of members of the Jewish community in some of the peaceful demonstrations that have taken place.

But that does not and should not ever take place at the expense of promoting anti-Semites or bigots of any stripe. Indeed we are doing a disservice to the African American community by propping up someone like Al Sharpton by doing so. There are many decent and impressive civil rights activists within the African American community who deserve our support, and certainly deserve a platform. Al Sharpton is not one of them.

For those that don’t know, Al Sharpton has a long and storied history of Jew hatred, that has been well documented over the years. Sharpton played a central role in provoking the rioters in Crown Heights back in the summer of 1991. Riots that led to the death of Yankel Rosenbaum. “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their Yarmulkas back and come over…,” said Sharpton, during that three day stretch of riots.

Sharpton never properly offered genuine remorse for this sort of rhetoric. And his actual participation and fomenting of violence in the form of these riots is something that the Jewish community can never forget. Sharpton’s list of anti-Jewish screeds go well beyond the rhetoric he employed during those riots. Sharpton has referred to Jews in the past as “diamond merchants,” “white interlopers,” and “Jew bastards.”

It is not therefore unreasonable to ask why the ADL and Jonathan Greenblatt are proudly collaborating with Sharpton in the #StopHateforProfit campaign. This isn’t about the merits of the campaign. It’s about a figure who no Jewish lay leader ought to be working with when it comes to issues of civil rights. It’s not only a disservice to the Jewish community; but a slap in the face to the African American community as well. The African American community deserves better.

U.S. Deputy Anti-Semitism Envoy: Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism

The “coronavirus conspiracy theory [is] a modern-day blood libel, where Jews or the State of Israel is blamed for the pandemic,” U.S. deputy anti-Semitism envoy Ellie Cohanim told Jewish leaders on Monday. “It is not being spread by the usual bad actors on the dark web or elsewhere, but by government officials spreading the lies – from Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Iran.”

Cohanim, who fled Iran with her family during the 1979 revolution, said she had learned two lessons from her family’s experience: that even societies welcoming or hospitable to Jews, like Iran was under the Shah, “can suddenly flip overnight”; and that Jews can “never underestimate the threat of anti-Semitism.”

Asked about the possibility that extension of sovereignty by Israel to parts of the West Bank may lead to increases in anti-Semitism, she said, “Just the fact that American Jewry is nervous about this shows that we have been conditioned to feel the anti-Semitism in our bones.” She noted that no other country is subjected to the same kind of scrutiny when they make decisions for their populace.

Asked about the notion that one can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, Cohanim said U.S. policy is that “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Full stop.” She added that when people criticize other countries for action they have taken, that doesn’t lead to a discussion about the country’s right to exist.

Ruthie Blum: The ‘right’ kind of gay pride

Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana – a proud member of the LGBTQ community and equally proud member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party – has said that “being attracted to men doesn’t mean you have to believe in creating a Palestinian state.”

Ohana made that statement during an interview with The New York Times a year ago in June, when Netanyahu appointed him interim justice minister.

Ohana – a lawyer, a major in the reserves and a veteran of the Shin Bet security agency – is hated by the Left for the policies that he promotes and the bills that he has drafted. Among the latter is the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.

But it is Ohana’s view of judiciary overreach that has earned him the greatest wrath among his detractors. When he was first appointed justice minister, he made a statement to the effect that not all Supreme Court decisions should be honored.

In the wake of the ensuing uproar from the disingenuous “defenders of democracy”– those who don’t believe in the separation of powers as long as the judges that they deem politically correct are occupying the bench –Channel 12’s Amit Segal asked Ohana if he really meant what he had said.

“Yes,” Ohana answered, quipping, “the ‘supreme’ consideration must be to safeguard the lives of [Israeli] citizens.”

Nor did Ohana falter when Segal challenged him to contradict himself in relation to the Supreme Court’s liberalism towards gays is concerned. Ohana – who lives in Tel Aviv with his partner, Alon Hadad, and their two children – smiled and shook his head.

The most important strides in LGBTQ rights, he replied, were made in the Knesset – the legislative body, not in the courts. The point he was trying to drive home is that the business of enacting laws is the job of elected parliamentarians, not judges appointed by committees comprising their cronies.

‘Intrinsically tied to Black Lives Matter’: Harvard student leads anti-Israel march on Capitol

Protesters on Wednesday marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building in a demonstration intended to tie the cause of Black Lives Matter to the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement against Israel.

The march, led by Harvard University rising senior Christian Tabash, attracted about 200 people who carried signs with messages either supporting the Palestinian Liberation Organization or Black Lives Matter. The event, although independently organized, was held in tandem with a series of “Day of Rage” demonstrations against Israel’s territorial claims on the West Bank.

As the march progressed, Tabash led his followers in alternating chants about Israel and racial justice.

“Israel, we know you, you murder children, too,” the crowd chanted at one point.

The crowd immediately followed that chant with alternating rallying cries of “Black lives matter!” and “Palestinian lives matter!” Many more shouted criticisms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A woman waved a sign that on one side bore the Palestinian flag and, on the other, the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”

Tabash also led the group in the reading of poetry detailing the crimes of Israel against Palestinian Muslims. One poem entitled “Mr. War” decried the Israeli government: “Curse thee, the corrupters of Zion. F— this occupation!” The poem later referred to the Jewish state as the “puppet master of continents,” a reference to a centuries-old conspiracy that Jewish people secretly rule the world.

Appeals Court frees Molotov Cocktail Lawyers on bail and home confinement

On June 5, 2020, we reported that Appeals Court Orders Molotov Cocktail Lawyers Back to Jail:

Two Brooklyn-based lawyers facing federal charges for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails into a NYPD cruiser during the riots are back in
federal custody after an appeals court reversed the bail decision.

That initial and temporary appeals court decision now has been reversed, with a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, ordering the defendants released on bail and home confinement pending trial.

The majority Opinion ruled:
In sum, Pretrial Services, Magistrate Judge Gold, and Judge Brodie all concluded, notwithstanding the acknowledged seriousness of the charged offense, that bail is appropriate for both Rahman and Mattis based on the absence of any criminal records and on their family obligations, their ties to the community and the number of suretors who support them.
There is no question that the evidence before the district court demonstrated that the crimes charged are serious and the defendants’ conduct on the night of their arrests could well have resulted in significantly more harm than it did. By affirming the district court’s order to release the defendants on the conditions imposed, we do not seek to minimize the severity of the offense. Rather, we recognize the constraints on our appellate review and the fact that the gravity of an offense is not the only factor to be considered by the district court in deciding whether the conditions of release are adequate to ensure the defendants will not flee and do not constitute a continuing threat to the community.
Judge Jon Newman wrote in Dissent:
On the night of May 29 in Brooklyn, Appellee Urooj Rahman got out of a car driven by Appellee Colinford Mattis, lit an explosive device known as a Molotov cocktail, and tossed it through the broken window of an unoccupied police car, setting the console on fire. Parked where people were nearby, she attempted to distribute bombs to a bystander and others for their use. She then left the scene in Mattis’s car, which contained one completed bomb and components for making more bombs. Their thinking was expressed by Rahman on a videotape, about an hour before the crime: “The only way they hear us is through violence.” The majority’s decision to affirm the release of these Appellees from pretrial detention subjects the community to an unacceptable risk of danger. I respectfully dissent.

As Israel records 905 cases in past day, ministers to mull new restrictions

The Health Ministry on Thursday recorded 905 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours and two more deaths since Wednesday evening, bringing the national toll from the pandemic to 324.

The new figures came after a lockdown was imposed on parts of Ashdod and Lod early Thursday to contain the spread of the virus, and ministers were set to meet again to discuss further restrictions to rein in the alarming rise in infections. Late Wednesday, the Knesset reinstated the Shin Bet agency’s surveillance program to track virus carriers, effective over the next three weeks.

According to Channel 12, during Thursday’s meeting, health officials will implore ministers to limit the number of patrons permitted to enter a bar, restaurant or event hall to 50. Health officials are also seeking to cap the number of worshipers at prayer gatherings to 20, the TV report said.

The ministry said Thursday there have been 26,452 cases since the start of the pandemic, of which 8,647 were active; 17,481 people have recovered. That marked an increase of over 6,000 new COVID-19 cases over the month of June.

Fifty-eight people are in serious condition, 24 of them on ventilators, while 71 more are in moderate condition. The rest are displaying mild or no symptoms.

The ministry said 20,798 tests were conducted on Wednesday, of which 4.6 percent had a positive result.

Gantz approves call-up of 500 reservists to help battle resurgent coronavirus

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday approved the call-up of 500 IDF reservists to help combat the renewed spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which many in Israel believe has entered a second wave.

The decision was made in light of fresh assessments about the pandemic. Most of the troops will be used as staff at 10 coronavirus hotels the Defense Ministry plans to reopen to house people with light symptoms or who require preventive quarantine, Gantz’s office said in a statement.

The IDF Home Front Command was also instructed to set up headquarters in a number of Israeli cities and towns to help distribute information to residents and to safely move coronavirus patients to hospitals and hotels.

The Health Ministry on Thursday morning recorded 905 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours and two more deaths since Wednesday evening, bringing the national toll from the pandemic to 324.

The ministry said Thursday there have been 26,452 cases since the start of the pandemic, of which 8,647 are active, while 17,481 people have recovered. The month of June saw over 6,000 new COVID-19 cases.

The new figures came after a lockdown was imposed on parts of Ashdod and Lod early Thursday to contain the spread of the virus, and ministers were set to meet again to discuss further restrictions to rein in the alarming rise in infections. Late Wednesday, the Knesset reinstated the Shin Bet agency’s surveillance program to track virus carriers, effective over the next three weeks.

Israeli researchers say they’ve developed more efficient, accurate antibody test

Israeli researchers have developed a highly accurate and efficient test for coronavirus antibodies that could greatly contribute to ongoing efforts to assess the extent of the virus spread among the population, Channel 13 news reported Wednesday.

Antibody tests are seen as a key component in finding out who already had the disease in order to better understand its spread and shape policy ahead of a possible second outbreak.

Professors Ariel Munitz and Mordechay Gerlic of Tel Aviv University say the serological test they have produced can, from one blood sample, identify all three of the key antibodies that counter the virus.

It is apparently the first time that anyone has produced a single serological test that can spot all three of the antibodies, the report said.

The test is very sensitive and accurate to around 98-99 percent, the researchers claim, better than the current method being used in the country, which is rated at between 95% and 98%.

During the course of research carried out in cooperation with Hasharon Hospital in Petah Tikva, the team also noticed a trend showing that patients who became seriously ill from the virus developed antibodies more rapidly at an early stage of their infection than did those who had light symptoms.

“We understand this as apparently the result of, in fact, a higher activation of the immune system,” Munitz said.

Plaid Cymru launches investigation after Senedd candidate accused of antisemitism

Plaid Cymru has launched an investigation after a leading Jewish organisation accused one of their candidates of antisemisitm.

Senior vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Sheila Gewolb, has called for prominent Plaid Cymru candidate Sahar Al-Faifi to be excluded from the party permanently following a tweet which appeared on her account and has since been deleted.

In a post on Twitter Ms Al-Faifi wrote: “If you wonder where did these American cops trained, look no further than Israel. Oppression is one and the struggle is transitional. We stand with Palestinians and with #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter.”

She has subsequently deleted posts she made on social media.

In a letter to Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, Sheila Gewolb wrote: “Some US police officers have received anti-terror training in Israel, as they have from many different countries – law enforcement agencies across the world co-operate with each other.

“There is not now, nor has there ever been, any evidence to suggest that Israel instructed US police officers in the techniques they have used against African Americans or that any of the officers involved in such attacks received Israeli training.

“The attempt to blame Israel for terrible situations in other countries is regarded by many in the Jewish community as antisemitic, stemming as it does from a long and ignominious history of blaming Jews for any and all misfortunes.”

She added: “We would urge you, as the leader of Plaid Cymru, to show that you are serious about antisemitism and Ms Al-Faifi in particular by permanently excluding her from the Party. She has had too many chances already and it is clear that she will not change. By allowing her to again get away with it, Plaid Cymru would be sending a very negative message to the UK’s Jewish community.”

Sahar Al-Faifi had previously been suspended from the Party after a number of antisemitic social media posts of hers from 2014 were found. However, she was later reinstated.

Student Instagram pages broadcast anti-Semitic beliefs

Last week, two new profiles appeared on Instagram, @BlackatCuse and @BIPOC.Syracuse. These pages, presumably created by Syracuse University students, invited students and faculty to post about incidents of discrimination and bias on campus to unite the student body against hatred.

Unfortunately, several posts from these profiles inspired the exact opposite.

A June 19 post on the @BIPOC.Syracuse page stated “There are professors at SU who are openly Zionist to the point that it hurts Palestinian students…This shit runs deep.” This set off an anti-Semitic witch hunt targeting Miriam Elman, a Jewish faculty member at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs who was also mentioned in a @BlackatCuse post on June 20.

Despite being on leave for the past year, Elman was singled out by a malicious and libelous smear campaign for her support of Jewish self-determination and prior service in the Israeli Defense Forces.

The heinous anti-Semitic insults directed at Elman send a clear message: shed your Zionist identity or get canceled. It reeks of pure McCarthyism.

Inexplicably, while the university administration has engaged in public relations calisthenics for months to show its sensitivity to campus discrimination, their silence regarding this particular issue is deafening.

North Jersey Paper Aims at Israel — and Misses

“Get your facts first,” Mark Twain once intoned, “and then you can distort them as you please.” Yet, when it comes to the Israel-Islamist conflict, the North Jersey Record isn’t even bothering with facts. The newspaper’s recent report, “‘We need to pursue systemic change’: Palestinian Americans in NJ brace for annexation,” offers a masterclass in both distortions and omissions.

Indeed, the report is so problematic and biased that it’s hard to know where to begin.

NJ Record correspondent Hannan Adely reported that on June 28, “about 200 people gathered outside Paterson City Hall” in New Jersey where they raised the Palestinian flag and protested “Israel’s plan to annex large swaths of the West Bank starting Wednesday, July 1 — a move they said would suffocate Palestinians and scuttle any remaining chance for peace.”

“Annexation,” the NJ Record claims, “happens when a country declares that land outside its borders is part of its own state.” The plan “would leave Palestinians with 15% of their historic homeland” and “allow Israel to encircle all Palestinian land and cut it off from the border with Jordan.”

Nearly every word in this paragraph is inaccurate. As international law scholar Eugene Kontorovich has noted: “Annexation in international law specifically means taking the territory of a foreign sovereign country.” And neither the Jordan Valley nor the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) belongs to a “foreign sovereign country.”

BBC ‘Focus on Africa’ interviewer uses ‘white Jews’ stereotype

While Israeli citizens of Ethiopian origin may well suffer from racism or discrimination, they do of course have exactly the same rights as citizens of any other origin and to suggest that they do not materially misleads BBC audiences.

No less inaccurate and misleading is Okwoche’s reference to “white Jews”. The majority of Jews living in Israel are of Mizrahi or Sephardi origin or descent – i.e. they or their families came from Middle Eastern countries such as Yemen or Iraq or North African countries such as Morocco, Libya and Algeria. But not only is Okwoche’s suggestion that Israeli Jews who are not of Ethiopian descent are “white” inaccurate: the use of the term “white Jews” is in itself problematic because it negates Jewish history.

One would of course expect the BBC to avoid such tone-deaf stereotypes – particularly in an item supposedly about “a common struggle against racism”.

BBC orders presenters not to wear Black Lives Matter badges on air after CAA confronts antisemitism in the movement and other extreme views emerge

The BBC has reportedly ordered its television presenters not to wear Black Lives Matter (BLM) badges on air after Campaign Against Antisemitism exposed worrying antisemitism in the movement and its other extreme views emerged.

Executives at the public broadcaster declared that “visual symbols of support” for BLM should not be worn on screen after leaders within BLM hijacked the killing of George Floyd to spread antisemitism and to promote an extreme agenda. “The BBC cannot be seen to support any kind of cause over another, and Black Lives Matter is certainly a campaign,” the BBC ruled.

The decision was part of a wider backlash against the BLM movement after Campaign Against Antisemitism called out antisemitic tweets over the weekend. Police forces and several celebrities have distanced themselves from the movement, as has the Premier League.

Among the first football clubs to break with BLM were Tottenham Hotspur, which said that “it is unacceptable that a value-based action is being hijacked by those with their own political agenda,” and Crystal Palace, which announced: “We would like to make clear that we do not endorse any pressure group or body that carries the same term in its name, and we strongly believe that organisations should not use this important force for change and positivity to push their own political agendas. We want to be part of a world that is fair, inclusive and open to all.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Newsroom Scare: Religion Reporter Almost Gets Something Right (satire)

Editorial and reporting staff at Haaretz breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday upon discovering that an article on Orthodox Jews did not, as feared, let facts go unvarnished by the bias, disdain, and arrogance of the secular journalists involved.

Israel’s “paper of record” dodged a journalistic bullet, editors reported this morning, following indications that an article covering the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s refusal to continue certifying a certain restaurant as kosher failed to disguise the writer’s dismissal of religious sensibilities, his presumption, and his axiomatic view of adherence to Jewish tradition as Neanderthal. In fact the writer did manage to convey a mangled, immature understanding of the religious precepts involved, and did succeed in painting those who take care to follow those precepts as barbaric, sheep-like reactionaries.

“That was a close one,” breathed publisher Amos Schocken. “I was this close to ordering a thorough review of our editorial process, but it turns out our reporters followed proper procedure and included all the necessary anti-religious – which is to say, anti-Jewish – elements to meet our exacting standards. I still might conduct a different review, though, to determine how we came under the wrong impression.”

Editors, reporters, and columnists expressed their sense of making a narrow escape from potentially unpleasant circumstances. “I’m trying not to think about what would have happened if anyone left an article about Jewish observance go without at least negative or condescending subtext,” admitted entertainment critic Rogel Alpher. “The public, especially our readers of the English-language edition, have come to expect from us a certain detached, which is to say animosity-laden, attitude toward anything that respects Jewish heritage, Jewish practice, or Jewish attachment to the ancestral Jewish homeland. Letting even a paragraph slip by without continuing to hammer this ethos home might convey the mistaken notion that our assumptions have shifted, but in that respect we remain, well, conservative.”

‘Middle-Class’ and ‘Everyday’: New Survey Exposes Alarming Nature of Antisemitism in Switzerland

Antisemitic behavior toward Jews is alarmingly common in Switzerland, a new academic study of victim experiences published on Thursday revealed.

The report — conducted by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) — surveyed 500 Swiss Jews about their experiences of antisemitism, discovering that 50 percent of the respondents had been personally targeted for antisemitic abuse during the last five years.

About 18,000 Jews live in Switzerland.

The survey’s director, Prof. Dirk Baier, told the Berner Oberlander newspaper that he was not surprised by the results, pointing to a recent Swiss government survey showing that one in ten citizens held negative views of Jews.

He pointed out that similar animosity existed toward other minorities.

“If you asked 500 black people in Switzerland about their experiences, you’d probably get responses similar to those of the Jewish community now,” Baier commented.

Antisemitic Acts in California Rose 12% in 2019 Amid Overall Hate Crime Decline, Official Statistics Show

Hate crimes targeting Jews rose sharply in California in 2019 despite an overall decline in hate crimes in the state, according to a report released on Thursday by the state’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center.

Antisemitic crimes — including the deadly gun attack on a Passover service on a Chabad synagogue in Poway — increased by 12 percent in 2019, the report said.

The one person to have been murdered in a hate crime was Lori Gilbert-Kaye, a 60-year-old woman who was in attendance at the Poway synagogue on April 27, the last day of the Passover holiday.

Three other worshipers, including the community’s rabbi and an 8-year-old girl, were wounded in the attack carried out by John Earnest, a white supremacist.

The rise in antisemitic acts came as overall hate crime declined in California by nearly 5 percent, the report noted. A total of 141 antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2019.

California state law defines hate crimes as those targeting victims because of their race or ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender or a disability.

German politicians part of ‘Anti-Israel International,’ says expert

Henryk Broder, Germany’s leading authority on contemporary antisemitism in the federal republic, wrote on Monday that scores of left-wing German politicians are anti-Israel because they signed a letter slamming Israel’s plan to exercise sovereignty over parts of the disputed West Bank territory.

Broder, who has testified in the Bundestag about new forms of Jew-hatred since the Holocaust, titled his article “The anti-Israel International” on the popular journalist website “The Axis of Good.”

The German Jewish author and journalist writes commentary for the Die Welt –a large broadsheet paper. Broder has a significant readership in the German-speaking world.

He mocked German politicians from the Left, Social Democratic and Green parties who signed the protest letter for not directing their letter to Turkey’s occupation of North Cyprus, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and China’s occupation of Tibet.

Critics have cited the European political preoccupation with the Jewish state as a form of double standard. Israel’s democracy is singled out while non-democratic nations who commit massive human rights crimes are not targeted.

Montreal unlikely to change metro station named after antisemite

Amid the push to remove statues and symbols with historical ties to racist concepts and ideas in the United States, Canada and Western Europe, the city of Montreal has faced growing criticism to remove the name of Lionel Groulx (1878-1967), a French Canadian Roman Catholic priest, historian and Quebec nationalist who harbored strong antisemitic views, according to a CBC news report early last week.

Revered by ardent Quebec nationalists and separatists, controversy surrounding Groulx’s antisemitic opinions first arose in 1990, in what became known as the Delisle–Richler affair, when famed Jewish-Canadian author Mordecai Richler and French-Canadian historian Esther Delisle accused several pre-World War II Quebec intellectuals, including Groulx, of virulent antisemitism and sympathies for Vichy France.

Richler and Delisle claimed that in 1933 Groulx, at the height of support for Fascism in Quebec, wrote under the pseudonym Jacques Brassier an article entitled “So That We May Live…”, which was published in the journal L’Action nationale [National Action], and encouraged Quebeckers, especially French-speaking Quebeckers, to boycott Jewish businesses in the city as a means for dispelling the “Jewish problem.”

A century on, Finland air force drops swastika symbol

Finland’s Air Force Command has quietly phased out its swastika emblem after over a century, a researcher said Wednesday.

Though Finland was allied with the Nazis against the Soviet Union during World War II, and though the Swedish count who introduced the symbol to the country in 1918 would become the brother-in-law of a prominent SS leader and friend to Adolf Hitler, the symbol’s use in the country preceded Nazism by several years and defenders say it has no links to the fascist movement.

University of Helsinki academic Teivo Teivainen noted the policy change in an interview with the BBC.

With Finland’s founding in 1918, Count Eric von Rosen of neighboring Sweden gifted the Finnish air force with a plane emblazoned with a blue swastika, which he saw as a good luck charm, according to the report.

The Nazi Party officially adopted the swastika two years later, in 1920.

In tribute to von Rosen, the emblem continued to be used on Finland’s Air Force planes through 1945.

Following World War II, the swastika was scrubbed from the planes but continued to appear on Air Force uniforms and other military items, such as flags.

Israel-founded online insurer Lemonade raises $319 million in New York IPO

New York-based online insurer Lemonade Inc., founded by Israeli entrepreneurs Shai Wininger and Daniel Schreiber, has raised $319 million on the New York Stock Exchange in an initial public offering of shares, at a market valuation of $1.6 billion.

The company sold 11 million shares at $29 per share. The market valuation of the IPO is less than the $2.1 billion the firm was valued at last year, after it raised $300 million in a private funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank, which owns a 27.3% stake in Lemonade, Reuters said on Thursday.

The firm’s shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LMND.

The firm, founded in 2015, is a licensed insurer in 40 US states and operates in 28 of those states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Lemonade also holds a pan-European license, a prospectus filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in June said.

The company says it seeks to revolutionize the way homes are insured. Its technology does away with agents and replaces them with artificial intelligence and bots, applications that perform an automated task.

Israeli researchers develop tomato strain for inhibiting degenerative diseases

Israeli researchers have developed a new tomato strain that can fight severe degenerative diseases, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) said Thursday.

This new cultivar is rich in a substance called zeaxanthin, which may inhibit many degenerative diseases through the protection of light receptors in the retina from damage caused by strong blue light.

Zeaxanthin is a natural yellow coloring matter (pigment) that helps plants in the photosynthesis process and can be found mainly in corn, orange peppers, pumpkins and citrus fruits, and at very low concentrations in melons, mangos, apricots and peaches.

The researchers said adding zeaxanthin to the daily diet helps to reduce the morbidity of degenerative diseases, especially macular degeneration (AMD) that causes blindness in adults.

The development of the new tomato was done by classical genetic cultivation, using hybridizations of different strains, resulting in a new tomato strain whose zeaxanthin make up more than half of the pigments in it.

This is added to vitamins and other essential ingredients found in regular tomatoes.

The new tomato has seven times more zeaxanthin than corn, which is the main source of this substance in today’s diets. (h/t Zvi)

Israeli invents self-healing artificial electronic skin

A doctoral student at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa has invented a soft polymer that could be used as a self-healing high-tech “skin.”

Muhammad Khatib’s polymer is elastic and waterproof. It can heal itself if scratched, cut or twisted, or in the event of a disruption to its electrical conductivity and chemical sensing capabilities.

This “e-skin” could be used in a range of applications in the fields of robotics, prosthetics and wearable devices.

Khatib, who conducts his research at the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion under the guidance of Prof. Hossam Haick, presented his innovative inventions in two papers in the journals Advanced Materials and Advanced Functional Materials.
Muhammad Khatib, inventor of e-skin, at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Photo: courtesy

“The e‐skin is empowered with a novel self‐repair capability that consists of an intrinsic mechanism for efficient self‐healing of small‐scale damages as well as an extrinsic mechanism for damage mapping and on‐demand self‐healing of big‐scale damages in designated locations,” writes Khatib.

“The electronic platform lays down the foundation for the development of a new subcategory of self‐healing devices in which electronic circuit design is used for self‐monitoring, healing, and restoring proper device function.” (h/t Zvi)

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