October 22, 2020

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07/05 Links Pt2: Claude Lanzmann, acclaimed director of documentary ‘Shoah,’ dies at 92; I’m Jewish and Pakistani… let me go to Israel; Debunking claims about Israel’s “apartheid” wall


From Ian:

Claude Lanzmann, acclaimed director of documentary ‘Shoah,’ dies at 92
French Director Claude Lanzmann, whose 9½-hour masterpiece “Shoah” bore unflinching witness to the Holocaust through the testimonies of Jewish victims, German executioners and Polish bystanders, has died at the age of 92.

Gallimard, the publishing house for Lanzmann’s autobiography, said he died Thursday morning at a hospital in Paris. It gave no further details.

The power of “Shoah,” filmed in the 1970s during Lanzmann’s trips to the barren Polish landscapes where the slaughter of Jews was planned and executed, was in viewing the Holocaust as an event in the present, rather than as history. It contained no archival footage, no musical score — just the landscape, trains and recounted memories.

Lanzmann was 59 when the movie, his second, came out in 1985. It defined the Holocaust for those who saw it, and defined him as a filmmaker.

“I knew that the subject of the film would be death itself. Death rather than survival,” Lanzmann wrote in his autobiography. “For 12 years I tried to stare relentlessly into the black sun of the Shoah.”

“Shoah” was nearly universally praised. Roger Ebert called it “one of the noblest films ever made” and Time Out and The Guardian were among those ranking it the greatest documentary of all time. The Polish government was a notable dissenter, which dismissed the film as “anti-Polish propaganda” (but later allowed “Shoah” to be aired in Poland).

Long before Israel, Claude Lanzmann stirred Poland’s wrath

Claude Lanzmann was mostly amused by the “truckloads of calumny” unloaded across the front pages of the livid Polish press after the 1985 release of his nine-and-a-half hour landmark “Shoah” documentary.

Preoccupied with raising money for further copies of his pioneering cinematic masterpiece on the genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust — and pressed with a sense of urgency to disseminate the accounts of the survivors — the French Jewish journalist and filmmaker had casually shrugged off the torrential, raging criticism emerging from then-Communist Warsaw.

“And yet, while I may have been amused, I did not realize that the Polish lobby disposed of some heavy artillery. Compared to their firepower, the Jewish lobby was barely capable of a skirmish,” Lanzmann wrote in his 2012 memoir, “The Patagonian Hare.”

Lanzmann died on Thursday at the age of 92, some 33 years after he first cast his lens on many ordinary Poles, offering up some piercing accounts of horrific wartime actions and deeply rooted anti-Semitism, and violently upending narratives of untarnished Polish victimhood.

Yad Vashem slams ‘highly problematic’ Israeli-Polish Holocaust statement

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center on Thursday slammed an agreement between the governments of Israel and Poland regarding the latter’s record during the Holocaust, saying it would stifle free research on the subject.

A joint declaration issued by Warsaw and Jerusalem “contains highly problematic wording that contradicts existing and accepted historical knowledge in this field,” the institution said in a press release.

The statement is an embarrassing blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last week hailed the agreement and the joint statement that was issued on the occasion as safeguarding “the historic truth about the Holocaust.”
On Thursday, Yad Vashem released a long press release in which its historians detail why they not only contest the joint statement’s historical veracity, but are also dissatisfied with the Polish amendment to the controversial law.

“A thorough review by Yad Vashem historians shows that the historical assertions, presented as unchallenged facts, in the joint statement contain grave errors and deceptions, and that the essence of the statute remains unchanged even after the repeal of the aforementioned sections, including the possibility of real harm to researchers, unimpeded research, and the historical memory of the Holocaust,” the statement read.

Indeed, the statement “contains highly problematic wording that contradicts existing and accepted historical knowledge in this field,” the statement continued.

The joint Israeli-Polish declaration “effectively supports a narrative that research has long since disproved, namely, that the Polish Government-in-Exile and its underground arms strove indefatigably — in occupied Poland and elsewhere — to thwart the extermination of Polish Jewry.”

Bennett: Israel-Poland Holocaust declaration ‘a disgrace, saturated with lies’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday led a chorus of widespread condemnation for a joint Israeli-Polish declaration signed by the two nations’ prime ministers that appears to accept Poland’s official position that it is not responsible for the crimes of the Holocaust.

The outrage from across the political spectrum came following a statement from the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center saying it would stifle free research on the subject.

“The joint declaration of Israel and the government of Poland is a disgrace, saturated with lies, that betrays the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust,” Bennett said in statement put out on Twitter. “As minister of education, entrusted with passing on the memory of the Holocaust, I reject it completely. It has no factual basis and won’t be studied in the education system,”

The Jewish Home leader added that he would be demanding”the prime minister cancel the declaration or bring it to the government for approval.”

I’m Jewish and Pakistani… let me go to Israel

I am stuck in a real life conundrum. Being a practicing Jewish man, I want the freedom to perform my religious duties, a right granted to me and other minorities in the country by the constitution. However, the reality is that my Pakistani passport states that ‘this passport is valid for all countries of the world, except Israel’. As per the constitution, every citizen has the right to practice their religion, including religious pilgrimages. How then, can the state be justified in prohibiting not only Jews, but Pakistani Christians, Messianic Jews, and even Muslims from travelling to Jerusalem? This self-conflicting sentence on our passports is flawed and inconsistent with our constitution, and it is time to challenge this archaic law.

All I simply want is to invoke my given constitutional right to perform a religious pilgrimage without having the threat of criminal persecution from the state of Pakistan hanging over my head. This is a flaw in the laws that govern the state of minorities in the country and it specifically discriminates against the small community of Jews, Christians and Muslims that want to observe their rights.

I want to observe the Passover (Pesach) Seder in Jerusalem next year in April, and as the situation stands at the moment, I am unable to do so. But we need to realize that even though laws are not meant to be broken, they are supposed to evolve, so that any flaws can be ironed out over time. If the lawmakers today realize how the law banning Pakistanis from travelling to Israel, despite their desire to just perform a religious pilgrimage, is contradictory to the rights highlighted in the constitution, then I implore them to amend the laws accordingly.

How to Combat the Left’s ‘Alternative’ Israel Brainwashing

The “alternative” weekend in Efrat challenges some of the opinions about Israel to which these students had previously been exposed. Following this weekend, one student wrote: “No one can be dehumanized—IDF, settlers, right-wing Zionists—they’re all people like me trying to do what’s right.” Another wrote: “Settlers are people too.”

What accounts for the dissimilarity in the responses of students whose itinerary brings them to Efrat for only a lecture, the Boston College group being only an extreme example, and those who remain for a Shabbat weekend? Both are familiar with Israel being publicly censured in mainstream and social media. Both have been exposed to readings in which Israel is accused of practicing apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Both arrive in Efrat influenced by previous meetings with Arab and Israeli speakers on the far political left.

Student groups making only a short call at what is, in their eyes, a “settlement” such as Efrat are virtually fated to leave with the same opinions they had when they arrived. Their visits are too circumscribed to facilitate the type of social interaction with residents that with sufficient time can engender trust and credibility. Without developing trust and credibility in the people they meet, the students remain resistant to allowing any contradictory information to alter their world view.

By contrast, students whose visit lasts a few days, irrespective of their experiences until then, develop a sense of Efrat as a community of people—people with names and faces, with family roles, with personal aspirations and personal problems, with favorite sports teams and musical groups, and with dental appointments just like them. These people have opinions, many opinions. And they express a desire for peace. Upon their departure, most of these students acknowledge a newly acquired appreciation for the complexity of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Without losing sympathy for the Palestinians, they are willing for the first time to take Israeli arguments under consideration, and they recognize some of themselves in these “settlers.”

Both types of visits point to the importance of emotions in shaping people’s political views, a fundamental principle for those engaged in Israel advocacy. The pathos engendered in visitors taken to witness the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp or the overshadowing presence of “The Wall” is calculated to elicit strong sympathy for the condition of the Palestinians, especially when these experiences are presented from the Palestinian perspective of victimhood. It is easy to understand how, following these experiences, a frontal lecture by an anonymous settler who insists on the ancient historical and modern legal rights of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria or, even less relevant, being shown a PowerPoint presentation that boasts of Israel’s high-tech achievements, might fall on deaf ears and even rankle a group of compassionate foreign visitors. Pro-Palestinian ideologues and the Palestinian Authority long ago learned that the mind follows the heart and not the other way around. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, take note.

Debunking claims about Israel’s “apartheid” wall

On our seventh full day in Israel, we’re touring the border wall and security fence in Israel.

Contrary to what you may have heard about this wall and the checkpoint that was designed to maintain the dignity of the thousands of people that pass through it every day while keeping every one safe, the only ones suffering from apartheid are the IDF soldiers.

EU against PA ‘terror salaries’

For the first time, the European Union is coming out against the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying terrorists who attacked Israelis, known as “pay to slay,” Israel Hayom reported.

Following the Knesset’s passage this week of the “Pay to Slay Law,” which withholds tax revenues from the PA as long as it continues its “pay to slay” policy, European officials told Israel Hayom, “We do not believe that violence is worthy of any encouragement or reward, but on the contrary, it must be prevented and condemned.”

The European Union has reportedly said that it will begin discussions with the Palestinian Authority on the issue. “The payment system for Palestinian prisoners, former prisoners and their families is part of the EU’s political dialogue with the Palestinian Authority being carried out at the highest levels,” the European statement said, according to Israel Hayom.

This week, a delegation of senior EU officials is touring Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The delegation includes, among others, the Director-General for EU Neighborhood and Enlargement program at the European Commission, Christian Danielsson. Within the framework of the program, the Europeans give the PA billions of euros every year. The delegation will meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority and senior Israeli officials.

The European officials will reportedly check with the PA whether the European money is being used properly. The EU stresses that it will not reduce the large-scale economic aid granted to the PA, but would like to examine “whether the financial support is as effective and efficient as possible in order to advance the two-state solution.”

Stephen Crabb, Eric Pickles: Conservative Friends of Israel and taking Israel-UK relations forward

Israel receives strong support from the Conservative benches in the Houses of Parliament. Most of the Conservative Party’s 313 MPs have visited Israel with CFI during their political careers, and a growing number of members of the House of Lords are now visiting. Each year, CFI’s big annual lunch will see as many as 200 Conservative parliamentarians in attendance. And recent Conservative Governments have done more to support Israel than perhaps any in British history – including its continuous and resolute opposition to the so-called Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Conservatives in the UK tend to instinctively support the Jewish state; it is, after all, the only true democracy in the Middle East and shares the same values as we do in the UK. But it is only by going on one of CFI’s highly-regarded fact-finding missions to Israel and the West Bank that any parliamentarian can start to understand the complexities of the situation, and the thriving country that Israel is.

This support is perhaps more important now than it has been in many decades.

The Labour Party in the UK, which has been gripped by a depressing number of antisemitic scandals, is becoming ever more strident in its views against Israel.

In the wake of recent violence on the Gaza border, the Labour Party’s shadow foreign secretary spoke of a “massacre” and Israel “slaughtering peaceful protesters.” It was left to more than 20 Conservative parliamentarians to bring balance to the debate by expressing concerns at the events but highlighting the central role of Hamas in the violence.

It is an unavoidable fact that Israel is one of the most oft-discussed foreign affairs issues in the Houses of Parliament.

Labour attempts to redefine antisemitism to permit Nazi comparisons and denying Jewish right to self-determination

This morning it has been revealed that the Labour Party has adopted a code of conduct on antisemitism that appears to be designed to permit certain forms of antisemitic hate speech within the Party.

While claiming to have adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism, Labour has in fact butchered it by removing four of the manifestations of antisemitism that it cites, namely:
– Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
– Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour).
– Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
– Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. The four examples that have been removed by the Labour Party are central to the understanding of post-Holocaust antisemitism and the antisemitism of the far-left that now has the Labour Party in its grip. It is driven by the pro-Corbyn faction’s obsessive hatred of the Jewish state, and seems to be designed to give free rein to certain forms of antisemitic discourse that have no place in a liberal democratic society.

This distorted code of conduct has dire ramifications for antisemitic discourse in British politics. In giving the green light to its members and supporters to express antisemitism disguised as discourse about Israel, Labour also gives them licence to compare Jews who refuse to give up their support for the Jewish state to Nazis, and to accuse them of operating as a treacherous fifth column within the United Kingdom.

A letter signed by Luciana Berger MP and Ivor Caplin, the Parliamentary and National Chairs of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and addressed to Jennie Formby, the current General Secretary of the Labour Party, reveals the extent of Labour’s duplicity. The letter alleges that the meeting at which the code of conduct was adopted took place without the JLM having sight of any of the documents discussed, that the JLM’s offers to participate in order to ensure transparency were repeatedly rejected, and that JLM representatives were left waiting in Ms Formby’s office lobby, only being allowed in to give evidence.

Labour picks Ken Livingstone defender Claudia Webbe as head of disputes panel

A left wing activist who defended Ken Livingstone after he likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard will now oversee Labour’s disciplinary cases, including ones relating to antisemitism.

Claudia Webbe, an Islington councillor and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was elected chair of the party’s disputes panel on Tuesday during a meeting of its national executive committee (NEC) equalities group.

The previous disputes panel chair, Christine Shawcroft, stood down from the NEC after a leaked email revealed she backed a party member who was suspended over alleged Holocaust denial.

Ms Webbe’s own past record on issues involving the Jewish community has already caused concern.

Richard Angell, director of the centrist Labour group Progress said: “Claudia’s chairing of Labour party conference allowed antisemitic tropes to be uttered unchallenged at last year’s event in Brighton.

“Her chairing of the disputes committee will need to be remarkably different for this appointment to give the Jewish community the confidence it needs in Labour. This feels like a step backwards.”

CAA taking advice on legal action against CPS over move to block private prosecution of Nazim Ali, leader of pro-Hizballah parade through London

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has moved to block Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) from privately prosecuting Nazim Ali, the leader of the annual “Al Quds Day” pro-Hizballah parade through central London. The parade is notorious for the crowds of demonstrators who march through London in support of the terrorist organisation, which seeks the murder of all Jews worldwide, carrying out bombings worldwide, including two in London.

Our private prosecution centred on Mr Ali’s statements over a portable public address system at last year’s parade, including:

– “Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party. Free, Free, Palestine…It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks. Free, Free, Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
– “Careful of those Rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands, who agree with the killing of British soldiers. Do not allow them in your centres.”

The CPS declined to prosecute Mr Ali last year and that is why CAA had to launch our private prosecution. Not only did the CPS refuse to do its job and uphold the law by prosecuting Mr Ali, now it is blocking CAA from doing so privately. The CPS has done this by using its statutory power to take over our private prosecution and then discontinue it just days before Mr Ali was due to face CAA’s lawyers at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Despite prosecuting many thousands of hate crimes each year, the CPS has not yet been known to conduct more than two dozen prosecutions of antisemitic hate crimes in any year.

How UC Berkeley Went from Anti-Israel Bastion to Israel Studies Powerhouse

Last month, the University of California at Berkeley hosted the annual conference of the Association of Israel Studies. The fact that the professional meeting of Israel scholars was held there is a testament to the Berkeley faculty, who have built one of the premier Israel Studies programs in the country. What they have done demonstrates that campuses can and do change with the proper motivation and funding, and that analyses of the campus climate toward Israel that ignore these positive developments are misleading the Jewish community.

Many people who talk about the BDS movement and antisemitism, and claim the situation today is worse than ever have no historical memory. The battles on campus did not begin with Students for Justice in Palestine or the divestment movement. In fact, they have been going on since the 1960s, and Berkeley has long been considered ground zero for Israel’s detractors.

I can speak from my personal experience at Berkeley in the early 1980s, when I was a graduate student. An undergraduate friend and I restarted a moribund Israel Action Committee. We had the support and encouragement of our Hillel director, but only a handful of Jewish students participated in our activities. Usually, I sat in Sproul Plaza by myself with a card table draped with an Israeli flag and some material from the Israeli consulate highlighting positive aspects of Israel, as well as the PLO’s role in terrorism.

The Muslim Students Association set up its table next to me. They had a placard that said “Zionism = Racism” and handed out highlights of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was also the time of the first Lebanon War, so anti-Israel protestors marched in front of me.

Jewish-American BDS activist barred from Israel considering aliyah

Ariel Gold, a Jewish-American supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement who was denied entry to Israel this week, is considering making aliya to Israel to bypass the travel ban.

Gold revealed her plans in an interview with i24 News. “That might be my next step. It’s a possibility,” she told the station.

If Gold immigrates to Israel it is possible that the ban on BDS activists would no longer apply to her since she would become an Israeli citizen. She would have to first apply for citizenship and her application would be evaluated by the Jewish Agency and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

Gold, is a known member of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and specifically active in the Code Pink group, a far-Left peace and social justice NGO.

She landed in Israel late Sunday night but was refused entry by the Population and Immigration Authority at Ben-Gurion Airport which said it was acting under the instruction of Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan.

Gold had visited Israel before, and when it became clear that she was a BDS activist, she was informed upon her departure that future visits to Israel would only be possible if she acquired a visa in advance.

On Sunday, Gold said she came to Israel to study Judaism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

IsraellyCool: Why Ariel Gold Stinks At BDS

Code Pinker Ariel Gold – recently deported from Israel – stinks at being a good person – promoting the boycott of the Jewish state, emboldening terrorists, and dragging her own children into it among the reasons why I say this.

But did you know she also stinks at BDS? Here are some reasons why.

She has a really hard time boycotting Israeli educational institutions
From her recent article in The Forward:

For my trip there this summer, I applied to take a course, called Collective Memory and Cultural Myths in Contemporary Israel, at Hebrew University.

Last summer, at the age of 16, my son traveled to Israel with the American Jewish youth group North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY). My daughter hopes to do so next year.

She has a really hard time boycotting Israeli products
‘Nuff said

She likes to play up her family’s long history in the land of Israel
From the Code Pink press release in response to her recent deportation from Israel (information Gold clearly provided to them herself)

NYC Primary winner defends ‘massacre’ tweet by calling situation ‘tragic’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner of a surprise upset in the primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District, asserted in an interview with Al Jazeera that her tweet characterizing the IDF’s response to Gaza protests as a “massacre” was “not about nationality” but just about a “tragic” event.

In the interview, which aired on the Qatari-owned network’s social media channel AJ+, she said the tweet was “not just about nationality.”

It’s about people who are unarmed who are killed. If 60 people were shot and killed in Ferguson, if 60 people were shot and killed in Puerto Rico, if 60 people were shot and killed in the South Bronx. It’s tragic. It’s tragic,” she said, referring to a racial unrest outside of St. Louis, Missouri, a hurricane in the Caribbean and her place of birth, respectively.

She drew attention from foreign policy circles upon her upset victory for a single tweet on Israel she published during her campaign, in which she characterized the killing of over 60 Palestinians on the Gazan border last month as a “massacre” and demanded congressional attention.

The interview overlaid videos of protesters near the Gaza border fence with tear gas canisters raining down, Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances and injured Gazans.

Daphne Anson: “We Reject Extremists who work with the New Israel Fund and Boycotts of Israel”

Earlier this week, David N. Myers announced that he will shortly be stepping down from his position as head of the New York-based Center for Jewish History, which comprises the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

His resignation, coming hot on the heels of that of American Historical Society executive director Rachel Lithgow, who resigned from the Center after she scheduled a play under the auspices of the heinous, pro-boycott Jewish Voice for Peace organisation (see also here and here), is being hailed a victory for critics who deplore his support for the New Israel Fund:

“In a victory for the Jewish people, it was announced today that David Myers has resigned from his position as leader of the Center for Jewish History. We called for Myers’ resignation from the day he commenced work at the institution, as he is a leader of the New Israel Fund which openly supports a boycott of the State of Israel, and as such does not belong in a position of Jewish communal leadership.

Let us say it again today, loud and clear: if you stand with the New Israel Fund who supports a boycott of Israel we will raise a voice of moral conscience and ensure we do all we can that you will not sit in Jewish establishments in the United States, or anywhere else in the world. There is no room in Jewish communal life for any form of a boycott of Israel….
Myers denies that they have been instrumental in his decision.
But one thing is certain. The New Israel Fund is a dangerous, duplicitous organisation that has been making inroads here in Australia of late, and must be checked:

‘There is no room in communal Jewish leadership for those who support New Israel Fund’s boycott of the State of Israel…. Harvard professor Ruth Wisse rightfully has noted that, “the rapid demoralization of Jews in the face of anti-Zionism… shows the depth of the influence of the past, for many have yet to achieve the simple self-respect that has been eluding the Jews collectively since the dawn of modernity.”

We reject extremists who work with the New Israel Fund and boycotts of Israel. Those who fund a boycott that harms the Jewish State will be held accountable. Those Jewish organizations that partner with New Israel Fund leaders will be targeted…’

Michael Lumish: This Week on Nothing Left

4 min Editorial: non-reporting of Gaza violence

11 min Matthew M Hausman, attorney and writer

33 min Benjamin Weinthal, Washington correspondent for J Post

Eleven years online for a BBC promoted conspiracy theory

This week marked the 42nd anniversary of the operation in which 103 hostages were rescued from Entebbe airport by the IDF – Operation Yonatan.

Over the years the BBC has produced numerous reports relating to that event but one in particular – which is still available online – stands out.

On June 6th 2007 the BBC News website found fit to publish a report by Dan Parkinson titled “Israel hijack role ‘was queried’” in which BBC audiences were told that:

“It has been seen as a daring raid by crack Israeli troops to rescue dozens of their countrymen held at the mercy of hijackers.

But newly released documents contain a claim that the 1976 rescue of hostages, kidnapped on an Air France flight and held in Entebbe in Uganda, was not all it seemed.

A UK government file on the crisis, released from the National Archives, contains a claim that Israel itself was behind the hijacking.

Illinois governor urges neo-Nazi candidate to drop out of race

The governor of Illinois has called on a neo-Nazi candidate for a Chicago-area congressional seat to drop out of the race.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, denounced Arthur Jones, also a Republican and a former leader of the American Nazi Party, but declined to endorse the opposing Democratic candidate.

His response differed from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a former presidential candidate, who in a tweet Friday called on Illinois voters to “write in another candidate, or vote for the Democrat” running against Jones.

Rauner said Tuesday that the Illinois GOP and the national Republican Party did everything they could to get Jones off the ballot, for which he ran uncontested.

“I called [on] him to get out and he should be out, and we should have somebody run against him,” Rauner said during a stop in central Illinois, according to Politico. “There is no room, as I said right immediately when he snuck on there, there is no room in our politics for a person like that.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg receives Genesis Prize lifetime award in Israel

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received a lifetime achievement award Wednesday from The Genesis Prize Foundation at a special ceremony held in Tel Aviv.

Ginsburg cited Holocaust diarist Anne Frank among others in a speech at a ceremony in Tel Aviv that touched on her fight for women’s rights and drew heavy references from Jewish traditions and history.

Ginsburg, 85, has served on the Supreme Court since 1993. She was the second female justice and often cites her Jewish heritage as a source for her love of learning and sensitivity to the plight of oppressed minorities.

“When I became active in the movement to open doors to women, enabling them to enter occupations once closed to them — lawyering and judging, bartending, policing, and firefighting, for example — I was heartened by the words of a girl of my generation,” Ginsburg said, referring to Anne Frank, who questioned gender inequality in her writings.

Israel has highest fertility rate in OECD, report finds

Israel is the most fertile country in the OECD, according to a report.

The latest Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report surveys data from 2016, during which the average number of births per woman was 3.1, surpassing the two second most fertile countries, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Both of those countries had 2.5 births per woman, leaving a much larger gap than between those two countries, and the next two, Indonesia and Peru which both had 2.4 births per woman.

The average among OECD countries in 2016 was 1.7.

Israel also had among the lowest suicide rates, with 5.5 suicides per 100,000 residents in 2014, the latest available data.

Life expectancy at birth is an average 82.1 years – 80.1 years for men and 84.1 years for women, which is the ninth-highest life expectancy of the countries surveyed.

The report also forecasted good economic growth for Israel, which tied for ninth highest economic growth with Latvia, with a 3.6% projected annual growth rate in 2019. Comparatively, the worldwide international growth rate in 2019 is predicted to be 3.9% while the OECD growth rate is predicted to be 2.5%.

Israel has 3.1 physicians per 1,000 people, a fairly average rate, compared to the OECD average of 3.3 per 1,000 residents, but just 4.9 nurses per 1,000 people, compared to an OECD average of 9.3 nurses.

Einstein letter on rise of Nazis sold at auction

A letter written by Albert Einstein on the day he renounced his German citizenship, after realizing he could not return due to the rise of the Nazis, was sold.

The letter, written on board the S.S. Belgenland and dated March 28, 1933, sold for $30,250 at the Nate D. Sanders Auction House in Los Angeles. Bidding for Thursday night’s auction started at $25,000.

A second letter from Einstein written in 1938, in which he discusses helping Jewish refugees escape Nazi Germany, sold for $31,250.

The 1933 letter was written with his wife, Elsa, to his sister Maja Winteler-Einstein about the dire situation in Germany, just minutes before they docked in Antwerp, Belgium, where Einstein renounced his German citizenship. Later that day, Einstein handed in his passport at the German consulate in Antwerp.

Dead Sea Scrolls decoder remembered as grande dame of Semitic paleography

The woman who intimately knew the scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls, foremost paleographer Dr. Ada Yardeni, died in Jerusalem on June 29, 2018, following a brief battle against pancreatic cancer.

“Dr. Ada Yardeni was one of the greatest researchers in Semitic paleography and epigraphy, and her decipherment and illumination of the Dead Sea scrolls (as well as of many other texts) are fundamental and enduring,” wrote Hebrew University Bible and Talmud Prof. Menahem Kister in announcing Yardeni’s death to faculty this week.

Widowed young, Yardeni is survived by two daughters and an impressively vast corpus of popular and academic work. Yardeni has author credit for 59 articles and nine books, and calligraphed several children’s books in the 1960s. Among her numerous publications, the best known is 1991’s “The Book of Hebrew Script,” a definitive introduction to the origin and evolution of the Hebrew Script.

A new book on the history and development of the Hebrew alphabet will be published posthumously in the coming months by Israeli publishing house Carta, said a colleague, Hebrew University Classics Prof. Hannah M. Cotton-Paltiel.

Trained at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, early in her career she worked as a graphic designer. This foundation in the arts paved the way for her later scholarly work as a paleographer of ancient Semitic scripts. She deciphered some of the most important ancient primary sources found in Israel. Among her most well-known texts are the Ketef Hinnom Priestly Benediction (the earliest material evidence for any part of the Hebrew Bible), as well as extensive work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Mossad brings home wristwatch belonging to legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen

The Mossad agency has recovered a wristwatch belonging to legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen who executed in Syria, and brought it back to Israel after a recent special operation, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Thursday.

Cohen infiltrated the top levels of Syria’s political leadership in the years before the 1967 Six Day War, and information he obtained is credited with playing a key role in Israel’s stunning success in that war.

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen presented the watch to Eli Cohen’s family a few weeks ago at a ceremony marking the anniversary of his death. It will be displayed at the Mossad headquarters for the next few weeks “in memory of the legendary warrior,” and on Rosh Hashana it will be returned to the family, the statement said.

Cohen was executed by Syria in 1965, and his watch was held “by an enemy state” ever since, the PMO said, without giving details.

Once the watch was brought back to Israel, special research and intelligence operations determined unequivocally that it was the watch that had belonged to the spy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the intelligence service for the operation.

“I commend the fighters of the Mossad for the determined and courageous operation, the sole objective of which was to return to Israel a memento from a great fighter who greatly contributed to the security of the state,” he said.

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