October 21, 2020

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07/10 Links Pt2: The UN ignores antisemitism, de-Judaizes Holocaust; Students for Justice in Palestine Says Progress Impossible ‘So Long as Israel Exists’; Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing


From Ian:

Watchdog group: United Nations ignores antisemitism, de-Judaizes Holocaust
The United Nations has failed to seriously combat antisemitism and in some cases has de-Judaized the Holocaust, a Geneva watchdog group said on Monday.

UN Watch made the accusation in a report it presented at a special event at the Knesset.

Israel has long argued that the UN’s treatment of it is tantamount to antisemitism because of the body’s long record of excessively condemning Israeli actions above and beyond those of other nations.
Haley says UN could benefit from fresh set of eyes, calls out anti-Israeli bias at UN, January 19, 2017 (Reuters)

“When it comes to Jews, when it comes to Israelis, the UN has become a hostile and biased body,” said Yesh Atid head MK Yair Lapid, who chaired the Knesset event. “The organization that is meant to fight antisemitism, which is sworn to fight antisemitism, is guilty of antisemitism itself.”

The UN Watch report, presented by the group’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, said that in addition the UN has done little to tackle antisemitism even though it is tasked with combating worldwide racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

The report lauded some UN actions on antisemitism, including UNESCO’s Holocaust education program and the statements of some UN officials, including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

But the bulk of the report protested the failure of UN officials and relevant bodies, including outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, to properly address the problem of antisemitism.

Zeid did not make a “single standalone statement” in reaction to an antisemitic event during his four years in office, UN Watch said.

He also “trivialized and de-Judaized the Holocaust,” the group said.

At Jerusalem event, terror survivor recounts police capture of friend’s killers

Kay Wilson is intimately acquainted with evil. Eight years ago on a sunny December afternoon, Palestinian terrorists brutally stabbed Wilson and her friend as they hiked a trail in a picturesque forest outside Jerusalem.

As she helplessly watched her friend Kristine Luken be murdered with a machete, Wilson made the split-second decision to play dead — a move that would end up saving her life.

Bound, gagged and stabbed 13 times, Wilson was determined not to die deep in the woods alongside Luken where their bodies could be overlooked. Somehow, she mustered the strength to walk over a kilometer through the forest on what she calls her own personal “death march” to call for help.

Her eyewitness testimony and remnants of the killer’s DNA led to the capture of Luken’s killers. They later confessed to murdering another woman, Neta Sorek, earlier in 2010.

The extraordinary story of Wilson’s will to survive, and the subsequent police investigation was the subject of an 2018 Israeli TV documentary titled “Black Forest,” directed by Hadar Kleinman Zadok and Timna Goldstein Hattab.

The 50-minute film produced by public broadcaster Kan provided a therapeutic outlet for Wilson, who years later, is still healing from the physical and emotional trauma she suffered in the grisly attack.

As Literary Award Changes Its Name to Escape Allegations of Racism, Instances of Anti-Semitism Go Unnoticed

Children’s literature news does not ordinarily make it into lead stories in the New York Times. Last week’s announcement by the ALSC (Association for Library Services for Children, part of the American Library Association) that it had changed the name of one of its most prestigious awards was an exception. The award formerly known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award has now been renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. The ALSC reached this decision after months of debate about the psychological impact of racism in Wilder’s books on young readers. A broad-based movement to increase diverse and accurate representations of people of color and other marginalized groups has engulfed the world of children’s books. Wilder’s work, which undoubtedly includes insensitive and offensive material about Native Americans, had become a very visible target. Where do Jews come into this story?

Last year’s recipient of the Wilder Award was the distinguished African-American author and poet Nikki Grimes. Grimes is the author of many critically acclaimed works, including one which is distorted by the most blatant and lurid anti-Semitic tropes. At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter accuses the Jewish people of venality, corruption, and hatred in the events surrounding the death of Jesus. The book closely follows the Gospels’ interpretation of these events. The high priest Caiaphas is described as “a mongrel smelling blood.” The Pharisees and Sadducees are conflated as members of the same evil elite, and Pontius Pilate is a passive and blameless victim of the enraged Jews who force him to kill the Messiah. The book is composed of poems, each one prefaced by the author’s comments and suggestions for discussion. Grimes encourages children to think creatively about the motives for killing Jesus: “Why would false witnesses agree to provide a legitimate excuse to have an innocent person crucified? My guess is money. Perhaps there were other reasons. Any ideas?” The poems are accompanied by illustrator David Frampton’s dangerously beautiful woodcuts, giving the story intense visual impact. One picture shows the Jewish leadership holding coins and other treasures, which they would supposedly risk losing should Jesus and his followers triumph.

From ‘intersectionality’ to the exclusion of Jewish students: BDS makes a worrying turn on US campuses

During the fall semester, when little was happening on the anti-Israel Hard Left on American campuses, we could have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had slowed. But as the year continued, coinciding with Israel’s 70th anniversary, the pace of BDS efforts increased and included something relatively new: efforts to mark off, isolate, and ghettoise Jews supporting Israel on campuses, while characterising Jews in ways that are deeply worrying.
BDS on Campus

Overall, the BDS movement generated some 22 campaigns on American campuses in 2017-18, two more than it did in 2016-17. This number was down from the immediate post-Gaza incursion peak years when BDS forces mounted 44 campaigns in 2014-15 and 33 during 2016-17, 77 in all. The recent period saw BDS organising 42 campaigns in two years. BDS forces claimed victory this year in 9 of the 22 campaigns it sponsored, a 41 per cent rate of success.

Late in the year, the renewed intensity of the BDS campaigns contrasted notably with the year’s beginning. If anything, campuses were still reeling from the events at Charlottesville in August 2017 and the appearance by neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the University of Virginia with swastikas, torches and disturbing signs vowing ‘Jews will not replace us’. University leaders were also preoccupied with the growing conflict over free speech involving primarily alt-Right speakers and demands for access to public fora on campuses. Richard Spencer stirred concerns by threats to sue institutions infringing on his first amendment right to speak and by actively bringing radicals to campus, threatening real violence. At the University of Florida, the governor mobilised the Florida guard.

BDS forces scored successes in November, passing divestment resolutions in several student governments; surprisingly, first at the University of Michigan (UM), where BDS had repeatedly failed until then, at Ohio State University, the University of South Florida, the University of Minnesota, New York University (NYU), George Washington University, and recently, Barnard (in a campus referendum) and the University of Oregon. Such victories were symbolic only, as university presidents and boards of trustees quickly announced they opposed BDS and would not divest university financial holdings. On the other side of the ledger, BDS was solidly defeated at the University of Maryland, Northeastern University, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, the City University of New York, Earlham, Swarthmore, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Barry Shaw: The hypocrisy of intersectionality and the Jewish question

People with strategic antennae can detect a throwback to the Soviet inspired canard of “Zionism is Racism.” This radical left-wing anti-Israel trope raised its ugly head way back in 2001 at the UN World Conference Against Racism in South Africa where thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators and groups hijacked the event to target the Jewish state with phony propaganda including apartheid accusations.

Sadly, despite being beaten down in the United Nations, this same anti-Zionism has breathed new life and is active today on the campuses and streets of America and Britain, reaching out into support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

As it was then, it is dressed up as a universal human rights issue. The same tiresome aspersions are trotted out, and soft vacant minds of the impressionable young are hooked on a cause to which they are physically detached but to which they have been seduced to dedicate their energies. It fits their progressive upbringing. Sadly, a growing number of the newly deceived are Jewish.

In America, many have been raised by parents from the anti-war, hippie, flower power, era who, from a distance, frowned on Israel for not bringing peace to the Palestinians and, from their distant armchair, encourage their kids to become activists in an anti-Israel cause. And they do it, they claim, for the benefit of an Israel that is too dumb, and too aggressive, to see the error of our ways.

What they have yet to realize is that firstly, they are wrong, and secondly their kids have gone from being liberal to becoming the most illiberal, closed-minded, and intolerant people in the community. They exist, you see, on a higher moral plain than the rest of us. They know better

“Jihad Allowance”: Views of Work in the Middle East

After the ruling class, the highest respect and wealth is given to the jihadist class or military leadership class. Otherwise, the jihadist or military class might turn against the leadership and Islamic system itself. That is one reason why the highest pensions in most Muslim countries, as in Gaza and the West Bank, go to widows, parents and children of jihadists and military retirees.

“We [the Muslim world], don’t work and if we work, we don’t do it professionally. We do not produce . . . and we import everything from the needle to missiles… Muhammad ordered us to excel in everything ‘if you kill, do it properly, and if you slaughter, do it properly…’ How come the Zionist gang has managed to be superior to us? They have become superior through knowledge and technology and work ethics.” — Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

Today, as Muslims are escaping their vast, poverty-stricken Islamic territories in 54 Islamic nations for the greener lands of Europe and America, Westerners seem to think they are rescuing refugees. Many times they are, but other times this is just the latest version of a story that has been repeating itself for 1,400 years.

Can Labor stamp out antisemitism as long as Corbyn is chairman?

Recently the Deputy Chairman of the Labor Party, Tom Watson, admitted that the antisemitism problem within the party has deteriorated in the past year. In a message to the Jewish Labor Movement he said the problem was not “just with individual cases of antisemitism,” but with “wider patterns of association.” Watson mentioned that he was ashamed that antisemitism was “ignored or minimized or excused” by some Labor members.

Watson’s statement begs the question of whether the party can overcome antisemitism as long as Jeremy Corbyn is its chairman. This has been doubtful for a long time. There are many indications that Corbyn is highly uninterested in frontally facing this hatred. In addition, he has for years been close to various antisemites. He also promoted antisemites to party positions when he became chairman. A series of events in the last three months show even more clearly that Corbyn is far too much part of the problem to reasonably expect the party to handle antisemitism complaints.

Labor has said that it wants to deal with the majority of the complaints by the end of July. The party appointed Gordon Nandell, a leading left-wing lawyer who is Jewish, to oversee its disciplinary process. There have since been many revelations of his links to the party’s hard left and activists involved in antisemitism issues.

Upon these disclosures, the Jewish Labor MP, Luciana Berger, asked the party’s national executive committee to review Nandell’s appointment. She tweeted: “This individual had made worrying statements on social media and was identifiably connected to organizations and individuals that seek to deny the antisemitism problem. We were ignored.” She also said that she “had no faith in how the party was going to tackle antisemitism.

In March 2018, Corbyn said that since he had become party chairman, there have been 300 complaints of antisemitism. He added that 150 people have either been expelled or resigned. Corbyn stated the backlog of complaints to be 60 cases. The Daily Mail reported, however, a backlog of 74 cases. It added that MP John Mann said he knew of another 130 complaints. One source in Labor told the paper: “Many of these cases include the most shocking and blatant antisemitism that would make even a committed Nazi blush.”

The Labour Party’s rejection of the International Definition of Antisemitism was long-planned

Nearly two months ago, Campaign Against Antisemitism called out the Labour Party’s intention to reject the International Definition of Antisemitism. By analysing the seemingly positive letter and article published by Jeremy Corbyn in April, observing what was omitted, and noting Andrew Gwynne MP’s contemporaneous comments on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, we identified Labour’s disingenuous plans for all to see, calling it an “insult to the Jewish community”. Then, as now, the Labour Party had the gall to declare that they – not the world’s expert historians and academics nor the Jewish community – were best-placed to define antisemitism.

However, when this clearly telegraphed plan took a step further toward formal adoption, MPs lined up to decry it, with Labour frontbencher Sir Kier Starmer, on the same Andrew Marr Show, saying that Labour should implement the International Definition of Antisemitism “sharpish”. Other Labour MPs, including Chukka Umunna, Liz Kendall, Wes Streeting, Stella Creasey and Anna Turley all added their public declarations of outrage.

The junking of the definition was not done in secret: it was public. This begs the question: when the plan to carve convenient chunks out of the definition had been so clearly announced in advance, why are Labour politicians only now affecting surprise? One can applaud them registering opposition, but any politician with a significant commitment to opposing racism in their own party would surely have acted long ago: the facts, the individuals and teams working on it being easily accessible parliamentary and Party colleagues.

In only one respect was our expectation changed: in relation to so-called Holocaust inversion, the act of comparing the actions of Jews or the State of Israel to those of the Nazis, which is a part of the international definition which the Labour party has now seen fit to omit. Considering that Mr Corbyn himself publicly wrote on 26th March to a Jewish charity, saying: “Comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis…constitutes [an] aspect of contemporary antisemitism”, the brazenness of this latest move by the Labour Party is laid bare.

NGO Monitor: Take 2: Powerful NGOs, Antisemitism, and the Irish BDS Bill

In January 2018, a bill to criminalize trade in Israeli settlement goods was raised in the Irish Parliament. As previously noted by NGO Monitor, the bill was prepared in conjunction with Trocaire and Christian Aid – two powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the demonization of Israel. The bill was introduced by independent Senator Frances Black, who previously called for a boycott of all Israeli products.

The initial attempt to pass the bill ended after Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney noted that bill was legally problematic, appearing to contravene EU laws prohibiting “unilateral restrictions on trade.”

Furthermore, as noted by law professor Orde F. Kittrie, the bill may also breach US laws and could have consequences for American companies with Irish subsidiaries.

However, following intensive NGO lobbying and trips to Israel and the West Bank where Irish lawmakers met with radical political NGOs, the bill is being revived, and the Irish Seanad will vote on it this week (July 11, 2018).

Students for Justice in Palestine Says Progress Impossible ‘So Long as Israel Exists’

Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California, Davis, acknowledged on Friday that it did not believe progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was possible “so long as the state of Israel exists.”

“The goal of Palestinian resistance is not to establish ‘love’ with those who are responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people,” the group asserted in an essay published by the student-run California Aggie, “it is to completely dismantle those forces at play.”

SJP was responding to an op-ed by the Aggies for Israel club, which criticized a protest of its “Choose Love” campaign by anti-Zionist students.

“They held posters saying ‘Justice is our demand, Palestine is our Land,’ ‘Resistance is justified when people are occupied’ and one of the most personal ones, ‘Gofman has got to go’” — a reference to student government President Michael Gofman, a member of Aggies for Israel — the group wrote in June.

“As people shouted ‘f**k Israel,’ ‘f**k Michael Gofman’ and ‘you should have learned from Germany,’ in our faces, a question emerged: How could we have a ‘Choose Love’ campaign while people were choosing hate?” they asked. “These blatant anti-Semitic phrases go beyond any acceptable criticism of Israeli policies.”

Muslim Democrat Running for Congress Blames Israel for ‘Evil Doings’ in Gaza

A Somali American Muslim women running to replace Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has previously accused Israel of “evil doings” in the Gaza Strip and called it an “apartheid state.”

In a November 2012 tweet, Ilhan Omar, who is currently a Minnesota state representative, said, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Her 2012 tweet came after the Israel Defense Forces launched an operation in the Gaza Strip following the launching of 100 rockets at the Jewish state.

In May, Omar responded to criticism of the 2012 tweet by accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state.”

“Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness,” she wrote on Twitter on May 28, 2018.

Omar told ABC News on Sunday that she is not antisemitic and accused her critics of “bigotry.”

“These accusations are without merit. They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe,” she said, while not apologizing for her previous tweets.

Framing the topic in BBC Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions?

Presenter Jonathan Dimbleby is of course on record as saying that the BBC’s decision to uphold parts of complaints made concerning Israel-related reporting by Jeremy Bowen would “cause serious damage” to the corporation’s international standing, while describing those complaints as “lies and distortions”.

His interventions during discussion of that highlighted question are hence noteworthy.

The question from the audience member concerning the UK embassy in Israel – actually worded “why doesn’t the UK move its embassy to Jerusalem?” – came at 17:50 minutes into the programme (available here) and was immediately followed by a remark from Dimbleby:

Dimbleby: “As of course the US government has done – or Donald Trump has done…”

As was clearly stated at the beginning of the announcement concerning the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the decision was based on the ‘Jerusalem Embassy Act’ passed by the US Congress in 1995.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2018

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during June 2018 shows that throughout the month a total of 220 incidents took place: 88 in Judea & Samaria, 6 in Jerusalem, one within the ‘green line’ and 125 in the Gaza Strip/Sinai sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 77 attacks with petrol bombs, fourteen attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), two shooting attacks, and one vehicular attack. One stabbing attack took place in Afula.

Attacks recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included 78 attacks with petrol bombs, five shooting attacks, 8 attacks using IEDs and three grenade attacks. 29 separate incidents of rocket fire were recorded, with 76 launches.

Five people were wounded in attacks that took place throughout the month. A high-school student was stabbed in Afula on June 11th. The BBC did not produce any reporting on that attack. A member of the security forces was wounded by a petrol bomb on June 5th in Jerusalem and three members of the security forces were wounded in a vehicular attack on June 23rd near Bethlehem. Neither of those incidents was covered by the BBC News website.

UN roughs up, ejects, bans reporter from headquarters: Caught on tape

“United Nations security allegedly roughed up, tossed out and temporarily banned a reporter from its New York headquarters this week — the latest incident in what a watchdog has described as a ‘long history of harassment’ against him.

Matthew Lee, who runs the online Inner City Press blog, has long been a thorn in the side of many U.N. officials with his combative and relentless style of reporting. ‘ICP’ puts out several lengthy stories a day about U.N. proceedings, with a particular emphasis on corruption, incompetence and lack of accountability at the international body…

And so on Tuesday, Lee hovered outside a late-night, closed-door hearing on the U.N. peacekeeping budget. Other outlets had reported that the budget had been agreed on over the weekend, suggesting a looming stalemate had been broken. But Lee’s reporting suggested things might not be so clear cut.

Partial video of the incident taken on his phone shows Lee chatting with a committee member — but it then cuts to a few minutes later when a scuffle can be heard. He claims that his shirt was torn, his computer damaged and his arm twisted by a security guard as he was trying to write a story about his conversation.

A man he identified as an assistant secretary general can be heard telling him the committee hearing is closed, though Lee said he never tried to enter the room and was just reporting near the room.

‘I’m a journalist, I’m a journalist,’ he can be heard yelling in the footage. ‘You see what’s happening here?’

Teens in Germany fire anti-Semitic insults at passing rabbi

A Chabad emissary in Offenbach, Germany, was the victim of a verbal assault on his way to synagogue this past weekend by a group of teenagers.

“They shouted ‘shitty Jew’ and ‘Free Palestine’ and other things at me,” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gurevitch wrote in a post on his Facebook page.

The incident took place Friday afternoon, when Gurevitch was on his way to pray. Gurevitch said he does not hide his Jewish identity, despite increasingly frequent anti-Semitic attacks in Europe.

“Usually, I ignore things like this, but this time I couldn’t, so I decided to try and talk to them. But the more I talked, the more they shouted at me,” he wrote.

This was not the first time Gurevitch has come under attack. Five years ago, he was attacked by a group of teens who started screaming anti-Semitic slurs at him. After that incident, a group of local residents organized a meeting with the assailants, and they apologized.

Gurevitch mocked the apology, calling it “bla, bla, bla.”

French Jewish family told to remove mezuzah outside apartment

The company that manages an apartment complex in France has ordered a Jewish family to remove a mezuzah from the door frame.

The Foncière Bergé Corp. cited its regulations last week in a letter to the Saada family in Montpelier, in southern France, according to what appears to be a copy published on Twitter.

During a July 5 inspection of the company’s real estate, “a mezuzah was encountered on your doorframe,” Fabienne Nourigat of its rental department wrote to the family in a letter dated July 6. “We remind you that no personal object may be presented in public areas and request you move the mezuzah inside your accommodation. Thank you for your understanding.”

The Eretz news website pointed out that apartments in the same building have doormats on the external side of the door and the occupants have not been requested to remove them.

Letter by Martin Luther calling Jews ‘devils incarnate’ up for auction

A letter written by German theologian Martin Luther that is critical of the Jews is up for sale at an auction house in Boston.

RR Auction is selling the letter dated September 1, 1543, and written in German to fellow German theologian Georg Buchholzer.

“You have preached against the Jews and fought serious battles over that with the Margrave….And you were quite right to do so,” Luther wrote in the letter, according to the translation provided by the auction house. “Stand fast and persevere!…For these Jews are not Jews, but devils incarnate who curse our Lord, who abuse His mother as a whore and Him as Hebel Vorik and a bastard, this is known for certain… You may show this letter to whomever you wish.”

Luther, a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation, is referencing the Hebrew words “hevel varik,” found in the Jewish prayer Aleinu: “They [non-Jews] worship vanity and emptiness.”

World’s largest Hispanic Christian group joins FOZ to fight antisemitism

The Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) – the largest pro-Israel Hispanic Organization in the world – has joined forces with the President’s Task Force, a division of the Friends of Zion (FOZ) Heritage Center in Jerusalem, to help combat antisemitism and BDS.

The President’s Task Force is a non-political organization comprised of presidents of major Christian organizations. Its executive committee includes former governor Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Rev. Jentezen Franklin, Dr. Robert Jeffress, and Dr. Jack Graham.

“We are proud to partner with Friends of Zion’s President’s Task Force and with its tireless founder, Dr. Mike Evans,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Conference and HILC.

“The aim of our partnership is to leverage the unparalleled access and influence of FOZ within Israel, along with the formidable social media and content production capabilities to further promote pro-Israel values within the Hispanic Christian community around the world. Our message is clear: Israel, her people and her leaders have no truer friends than Hispanic Christians. Our partnership with FOZ will help ensure it stays that way for generations to come.”

German Jews call for crackdown on anti-Semitism, including among Muslims

Dozens of Jewish organizations in Germany have called on the government to crack down on anti-Semitism following a string of anti-Jewish attacks.

In an open letter signed by 38 groups, the country’s Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism (JFDA) on Monday outlined a policy statement, urging Berlin to condition funds for civil and religious organizations on them issuing public declarations distancing themselves from anti-Semitism in all its forms.

The statement called on authorities to take the experiences of attack victims more seriously and increase their investment in support projects and democracy promotion programs. It called for recognition that anti-Semitism is an “attack on the entire liberal democratic community.”

It urged the government and all state-funded groups to adopt the working definition for anti-Semitism devised by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which categorizes some criticism of Israel as well as support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as anti-Semitic.

Germany agrees to $88 million more for Holocaust survivors

The organization that handles claims on behalf of Jews who suffered under the Nazis says Germany has agreed to pay another 75 million euros ($88 million) to fund social welfare services for Holocaust survivors.

The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said Tuesday the additional money brings total funding next year to 480 million euros ($560 million), to help survivors as they grow older and more frail.

Claims Conference negotiator Greg Schneider said, “These elderly heroes deserve the recognition that increased payments and much-needed services will provide.”

Germany also agreed to increase pensions paid to 55,000 Holocaust survivors in Central and Eastern Europe, and expand eligibility for child survivors.

Earlier this year, the German government agreed to recognize some 25,000 Jewish Algerians as Holocaust survivors, making them eligible for compensation.

Israeli startup silences diseased genes of shrimp to boost their production

An Israeli biotechnology startup ViAqua Therapeutics Ltd. says it has developed a way to reduce disease and limit losses in the raising of shrimp and some fish.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, shrimp is the most valuable traded marine product in the world today, with the industry estimated a tens of billions of dollars a year. Shrimp production is growing at a rate of some 10 percent annually, one of the highest growth rates in aquaculture.

One of the major challenges facing the fast-growing aquaculture market is the prevention and treatment of viral diseases.

Disease in shrimp could have “devastating consequences,” the WWF says. When they become ill, they swim on the surface of the water rather than on the bottom of the production pond. The enables seagulls to swoop down, eat the diseased shrimp, and spread the illness by subsequently defecating on a pond a few miles away. There is a socioeconomic impact, including loss of employment, when shrimp farms — in China, and other developing countries like Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh — are shut down due to disease.

ViAqua says it has developed a new feeding solution that is based on a biological formulation developed by the company that uses RNA molecules to inhibit gene expression. The coated particles, administered to the shrimp orally, trigger a cell reaction that disables the viral infections that attack shrimp and other aquaculture species.

JPost Editorial: RBG’s message

Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s expected announcement today of a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Israel last week – and conveyed a wise message in her inimitable style. The 85-year-old Ginsburg, who is one of three Jews on the nine-member US Supreme Court (the others are justices Elana Kagan and Stephen Breyer), came to receive the inaugural Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony held in Tel Aviv’s Yitzhak Rabin Center.

Appointed by president Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is considered a liberal member of the Supreme Court, while the new justice touted by Trump will certainly be conservative, tipping the delicate balance in the body 5-4 in favor of the conservatives. In her acceptance speech, Ginsburg stressed that her Jewish identity had been central to her strong sense of justice. “I am a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew,” she declared. “The demand for justice, for peace, for enlightenment, runs through the entirety of Jewish history and tradition.”

A day later, before the screening of RBG – an acclaimed documentary about her life and career – at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Ginsburg was asked how her Judaism had influenced her approach to law. She responded that at the entrance to her Supreme Court office, there is a large poster with Hebrew letters reading, “Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof – justice, justice, thou shalt pursue.”

But it was only on Friday that Ginsburg, in conversation with former Israeli Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch at the American Center in Jerusalem Center, related directly to Trump’s nomination.

Middle East’s largest natural history museum opens in Israel

Upon entering the new natural history museum in Tel Aviv, visitors are greeted by a vivid re-enactment of the great avian migrations from Africa to Europe through northern Israel’s Hula Valley, complete with stuffed hawks, pelicans and vultures circling around the ceiling of the building’s entrance.

The 100,000-square-foot Noah’s Ark-shaped building, which houses more than 5.5 million specimens of species from around the globe, opened this week alongside the Tel Aviv University campus after more than two decades of planning.

As the biggest natural history museum in the Middle East and Israel’s national center for biodiversity studies, the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History highlights the country’s ecological diversity at the crossroads of the three continents, as well as the impact of urban development, climate change, and man-made devastation on the region’s ecosystems.

The main goal of the museum, according the curators, is to increase public awareness about the natural world and environment on a local and global scale.

Israel Sees Record Number of Tourists for First Half of 2018

Israel saw a record number of tourists in the first half of 2018, injecting billions of dollars of revenue into the Israeli economy.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, from January to June 2018 about 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded—an increase of 19 percent over the same period in 2017 (1.74 million) and 26 percent more than in 2016. Since the beginning of the year, tourism has injected more than NIS 12 billion ($3.3 billion) into the Israeli economy.

June also saw a continued rise in tourism with 310,200 entries—2 percent more than June 2017. Revenue from tourism in June reached about NIS 1.66 billion ($457 billion).

“The marketing efforts and activities that we are spearheading in the ministry are leading us to new records, as, for the first time, we have crossed the 2 million threshold for tourist entries over the course of half a year,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin in a statement. “I am pleased to see that the first half of the year has borne the fruit of our intensive marketing endeavors and activities around the world.”

Levin added that he predicts that the second half of the year leading into next winter will continue with record statistics as Israel sees an increase in the number of flights from Europe to the southern resort city of Eilat.

Israeli TV show getting Ron Howard-directed CBS remake

An Israeli TV show about IDF service is being adapted for US audiences – with renowned director Ron Howard at the helm.

The Yes TV show is called Ta’agad, which is an IDF acronym for a combat medic unit, and has been stylized overseas as Charlie Golf One. The US version of the show – being produced by Paramount for CBS – has been given the working title 68 Whiskey, which is the US military’s code name for the same type of unit.

Ta’agad, which stars Tomer Kapon (Fauda, When Heroes Fly) and Shira Naor (Shababnikim) premiered in 2016. The show, which was renewed for a second season slated to air next year, follows the exploits of an IDF combat battalion with the Paratroopers from the battlefield to the bedroom – and even the intrigue of an illegal medical experiment. The show was nominated for eight awards from the Israeli Academy for Film and Television, but lost out on all of them.

According to Deadline, which first reported the news, 68 Whiskey “follows a multicultural mix of men and women deployed as Army medics to a forward operating base in Afghanistan nicknamed ‘The Orphanage.’ Together, they endure a dangerous and Kafkaesque world that leads to self-destructive appetites, outrageous behavior, intense camaraderie and occasionally, a profound sense of purpose.”

The pilot will be directed by Howard, the famed Oscar-winning director behind A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and many more.

Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months

Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon, having blasted off from Earth two months earlier, project managers said at a news conference Tuesday.

If all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

The probe will be launched sometime in December from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, officials said during the media event, held at an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) space technology site in Yehud. It is scheduled to land on February 13, 2019.

The project, begun seven years ago as part of a Google technology contest to land a small probe on the moon, was conducted together with IAI.

“We will put the Israeli flag on the moon,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL.

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