June 23, 2021

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07/14 Links Pt2: Canada backtracks on banning Israeli wines; Phillips: Fighters and fainthearts in the free world


From Ian:

Canada backtracks on banning ‘Product of Israel’ labels for West Bank wines
Hours after Canadian food inspectors ordered liquor stores to stop selling wines made in the West Bank, saying their label identifying them as Israeli contravenes Ottawa’s policy on the territory, Canada’s federal food inspection agency backtracked on the decision.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a Thursday statement that it had not “fully considered” the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in reaching its ruling. The agency said the wines do in fact adhere to the agreement and can be sold as currently labeled.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario said earlier that the inspection agency had notified wine sellers last week that it would be unacceptable to declare Israel as the country of origin for wine products that aren’t produced within Israel’s formal borders. The board issued a letter to its vendors informing them of the decision.
The letter indicated “that ‘Product of Israel’ would not be an acceptable country of origin declaration for wine products that have been made from grapes that are grown, fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory.”
The ruling would have extended to wines from “any other territory occupied by Israel in 1967” that carried such a label, which would be “considered misleading,” specifically mentioning the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as the West Bank.
The initial announcement singled out the Psagot and Shiloh wineries, made in settlements outside Ramallah. (h/t zee)

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Blames Powerless, “Low-Level” (and Anonymous) Employee For Israeli Wine Boycott “Mistake”? Call Me Dubious

After an outcry from Israel and Jewish organizations at the local level, the boycott has now been rescinded.
Fine and dandy. But had there been no protest, the boycott would still be in place.
And, sorry, I’m just not buying the story that this was some “low-level mistake.” I see something far more purposeful–and insidious–here: Zion-hate infesting Canadian government agencies at the highest levels. (In a way, this is like the sharia-compliant bathing suit story I posted yesterday–some anonymous schlub is blamed for something that advances a particular agenda while higher ups insist that it’s all a big “mistake.”)

Melanie Phillips: Fighters and fainthearts in the free world

Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the significance of Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel, President Trump’s speech in Poland and Britain’s bruising Brexit blowback. (noisy fan for the first 20 sec)

NYTs: Israel and U.S. Jews: The View From Jerusalem

To the Editor:
Re “Israel to U.S. Jews: You Just Don’t Matter” (column, July 12):
Thomas L. Friedman claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has burned bridges with American Jews. Never mind that he just ordered the accelerated expansion of a pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall and has consistently demonstrated his passionate commitment to strengthening Israel’s relations with Jewish communities around the world.
Mr. Friedman claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu “is setting himself up to be a pivotal figure in Jewish history — the leader who burned the bridges to a two-state solution.” Never mind that the Palestinian leadership turned down repeated offers for statehood, has refused to meet for direct negotiations for nearly a decade, pays terrorists hundreds of millions of dollars each year and continues to call for the disappearance of Israel.
Mr. Friedman claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu used “manipulation” in showing President Trump a video of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. Never mind that the video shows Mr. Abbas himself encouraging violence saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem.”
Lastly, Mr. Friedman claims that “runaway Jewish nationalism threatens to meld Israel with the Palestinians in the West Bank.” Never mind that the Palestinians could have had a state of their own in 1937, 1947, 2000 or 2008; instead, they continue to prefer trying to destroy our state rather than build their own.
The writer is a spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Fourteen Flaws in Tom Friedman’s ‘Israel to American Jews’ New York Times Column

The New York Times devotes three columns on the top half of its op-ed page to an article by Thomas Friedman that appears under the headline, “Israel to American Jews: You Just Don’t Matter.”
By my count there are at least 14 different problems with the article, starting with the headline.
[Problem No. 1] “Israel to American Jews: You Just Don’t Matter” mischaracterizes the message sent. “Netanyahu to American Jews: You Just Don’t Matter,” or “Israeli Prime Minister to American Jews: You Just Don’t Matter,” would be a more accurate headline for Friedman’s column, because it quotes at least two Israelis, Michael Oren and Gidi Grinstein, who disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s moves. Friedman could have also pointed out that Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, who are both Israeli, have also differed with the moves Friedman criticizes. Since Lieberman and Sharansky are both Israelis who came from the former Soviet Union, that underscores a second problem with the headline

NYTs: A Good Story About Israelis and Palestinians

The Trump administration has yet to broker the “toughest deal of all” — that between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Chances seem slim. But Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Middle East envoy, did announce some welcome news at a press conference Thursday in Jerusalem: The Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will be cooperating on a large water infrastructure project, which will provide billions of gallons of new water supplies for each of the three parties.
That project — first announced in December 2013 — will take water from the Red Sea, near Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat, and use gravity to carrythe water 137 miles via the kingdom of Jordan to the southern part of the Dead Sea, adjacent to Israel’s Arava desert. There it will be desalinated, with the brine deposited in the shrinking Dead Sea and the fresh water transferred into Israel for still-to-be-built desert farms. In exchange, a water pipeline will be built from Israel into Jordan’s capital, Amman, and Israel will augment the already significant amount of water it provides to the Palestinians in the West Bank, particularly in the Hebron area.
The strategic genius of the plan is that it weaves vital economic interests of these sometimes-antagonists together. Even should Jordan or the West Bank someday fall to radical rejectionists, it would be nearly impossible for those leaders to entirely break the water ties established here without creating substantial hardship for their populations.
But the biggest news out of the press conference isn’t what amounts to an update on the Red Sea-Dead Sea project. It is that senior water officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority shared a stage and warmly engaged with each other. It is, so to speak, a high-water mark in Israeli-Palestinian history regarding this precious resource.

The Anti-Defamation League Seems Unable to Come to Terms with Left-Wing Anti-Semitism

In a recent essay, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), warned that “anti-Semitism is creeping into progressivism,” as if left-wing anti-Semitism were a brand-new phenomenon. Worse, writes Ran Baratz, Greenblatt’s ADL seems to impose a political double standard, issuing “sober and appropriately harsh” evaluations of anti-Semitism on the right while taking an “apologetic tone” when it emanates from the left. And that’s not all:
[D]uring Barack Obama’s second term, physical assaults against Jews [in the U.S.], certainly the worst form of anti-Semitism, rose sharply from seventeen incidents in 2012 to 31 in 2013, 36 in 2014, and 56 in 2015, according to the ADL’s own reports. This staggering rise of 330 percent in four years was not met with a proper response by the ADL. To a lesser extent, a rise was evident in all other forms of anti-Semitism throughout this period. However, only now do we find the ADL campaigning against the growth in anti-Semitism, with Greenblatt comparing the [anti-Semitism in the period since Donald Trump declared his candidacy] to that of the 1930s. . . .
[Moreover], the ADL, according to Greenblatt, . . . wants to stop “the use of excessive force and the killing of unarmed African-Americans by some in law enforcement,” “to combat discriminatory laws such as the [so-called] Muslim ban,” “to champion marriage equality,” and “to resist efforts to turn back the clock under the guise of religious freedom.” And [therefore] the ADL and Greenblatt want to partner with those radical organizations [that share this agenda].
But what does one do, as an organization sworn to fight anti-Semitism, when one’s partners turn out to be anti-Semitic? Greenblatt’s solution [is to] denounce forcefully those who would slander the Jewish community. . . . This is utterly ridiculous. This notion of “we support and collaborate with anti-Semites when they do not specifically engage in anti-Semitic activities, and we reserve the right to denounce their anti-Semitism when they do,” is not only completely detrimental to the cause of battling anti-Semitism, it is in fact helping anti-Semites to whitewash their hatred. . . .

Wondering Who’s an Anti-Semite? The ADL Can Help!

Who’s an anti-Semite? It’s so hard to tell these days! Folks are just so touchy!
Luckily for us, we have the Anti-Defamation League, an organization devoted to helping us avoid needless hysteria and perceive real danger. Here as a public service, then, is a handy guide to contemporary anti-Semitism, courtesy of the ADL:
A person expressing admiration for an unindicted conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, arguing that a woman can’t be both a Zionist and a feminist, and that antisemitism isn’t a “systemic” problem?
Totally fine! In fact, maybe even a First Amendment heroine. The ADL believes being balanced is very important, and suggesting that people who say hateful things about Jews are hateful is not very woke.
A person who appeared in a PSA to speak out against anti-Semitism and then dropped a few lines on a rap album about how Jews were good in business and savvy with real estate?
Bad! The ADL is very troubled by the way hip hop bravado, a category anyone with ears and a brain knows to read as anything but a literal description of reality, plays into “deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.”
That’s your lessons for today, kids.
And to think, people wonder why Jewish organizations are dying.

Linda Sarsour, defending cemetery allocations, lashes out at ‘right-wing Zionists’

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour said she was the target of a campaign by the “right wing, alt-right” and “right wing Zionists” to defame her amid accusations that she was withholding some $100,000 — raised through a fund she helped launch — from a neglected Jewish cemetery in Colorado.
The fund was initially set up to solicit donations intended to help rebuild and refurbish vandalized Jewish cemeteries in the US.
The money would be disbursed, she said, after the organization handling the fund received a detailed plan from the Colorado cemetery.
Sarsour was responding Tuesday to an article by the Jewish news website The Algemeiner alleging that a campaign she set up in February to raise funds for vandalized Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia failed to deliver funds promised to the Colorado cemetery.

Pro-LGBT Muslim Group Kicked Out of Muslim Conference Where Linda Sarsour Spoke

A pro-LGBT and feminist Muslim organization says it was expelled from tabling at the annual Islamic Society of North America convention earlier this month where self-proclaimed LGBT ally Linda Sarsour headlined as a keynote speaker.
“We’re really sick and tired of the hypocrisy of them (ISNA) claiming to be LGBT allies,” said Ani Zonneveld, founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values, a faith-based human rights organization founded in 2007. “They’re only an ally when the camera is on.”
ISNA is the largest Muslim organization in North America and acts as an umbrella organization for numerous other Islamic groups and affiliated mosques. The organization was established in 1981 by the Muslim Student Association, and its founding members had connections with Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-i Islami, according to academic scholars on Islamism in America.
In 2015, President Barack Obama recorded a video message for the group’s convention, which annually draws tens of thousands of attendees. Women’s March board member Linda Sarsour spoke at the 54th ISNA convention held on June 30–July 3 in Chicago this year.
MPV partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to operate a tabling booth. There, MPV says their pamphlets advocating LGBT and women’s equality within Islam first drew the ire of an ultra-orthodox attendee. Soon after, they were asked to close shop and leave the venue by ISNA staff.

Anti-Semitism and the ‘moral’ disguise

Zionism sought to provide a safe haven for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. And indeed, Israel aims to defend all Jews, not just Israelis. In addition, under the Law of Return, every Jew can receive Israeli citizenship upon arrival in Israel. However, the fact that Hungarian billionaire George Soros is Jewish, doesn’t mean that we have to defend him whatever he does. And what does he do? He funds organizations that seek to strangle Israel financially, diplomatically, scientifically and militarily. Missiles and terrorism are not the only methods used to try to annihilate us.
The battlefield is changing. It is shifting into cyberspace, among other things. But one thing hasn’t changed: anti-Semitic libel. These days, it is disguised as anti-Israel criticism. But it is not just Palestinian organizations that vilify Israel; Israeli groups are also actively slandering their own country and their military around the world, spreading all sorts of blood libels. These libels, in turn, are used by terrorist organization as a “moral” excuse to wage war against us.
Soros and his friends are promoting the Durban strategy — adopted in 2001 by a forum of NGOs at the U.N. World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in the South African city of Durban.
The Durban Conference was preceded by a preliminary meeting in Tehran, which served as the basis for the declaration that was ultimately adopted. The declaration focused on Israel, of all countries, characterizing it as an “apartheid state.” The declaration called for “the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel”

Artists Boycotting Other Artists Will Not Lead to Peace

An open letter published by the anti-Israel group Adalah-NY and signed by more than 60 artists recently asked the Lincoln Center theater to cancel scheduled performances of David Grossman’s play, To the End of the Land.
The signatories included, among others, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Tracy Letts, Lynn Nottage and Annie Baker; the acclaimed director Sam Gold; actress Greta Gerwig; musician Roger Waters; and the playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and his My Dinner with Andre co-star Andre Gregory.
Their call for a boycott was not based on the content of the play — which, in fact, has an anti-war message. Instead, they called for cancelling the show because they do not agree with the policies of the Israeli government.
Lincoln Center has wisely, and firmly, denied their request.
This growing support among artists for a cultural boycott of Israel creates a clear and present danger not just to Israel, but to the creative community itself.
Why? Because cultural boycotts beget cultural boycotts, and artists who support cultural boycotts may soon be targeted themselves.
For example, there is now a petition to boycott Roger Waters because of his anti-Israel activities; at the time of this writing, the petition has more than 5,500 signatures. In addition, the Israel Group has initiated a campaign to boycott the signatories to the Lincoln Center letter, as well as other BDS supporters such as Emma Thompson and Stephen Hawking.

Roger Waters Accused of Peddling ‘Anti-Semitism’, Anti-Israel ‘Hatred’ Ahead of U.S. Concert

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters was accused of pushing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred ahead of his concert in Miami on Thursday night.
Waters, 73, has long been a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that targets Israel for economic sanctions. The bass player was to perform at the American Airlines Arena as part of a tour of the U.S. and Canada to promote a solo album.
“Your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in our community,” said a statement from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation issued before the show.
“Mr. Waters, stop openly calling for support of a cultural boycott of Israel,” it added.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, Waters has been a frequent target of pro-Israel groups who have worked together to call out his anti-Israel rhetoric.

Radical Islam in UK Funded by Public Donations, Finds Government Report

A classified report found that radical Islamic groups in Britain are raising huge sums of money through public donations, the Government has revealed.
“In some cases these organisations receive hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. This is the main source of their income. Those giving may not know or support the organisations’ full agenda,” said Home Secretary Amber Rudd, in a statement seen by The Times.
Rudd suggested some of the British Muslim donors may have been duped by extremist outfits posing as charitable organisations, and said the Government would work “to encourage people to understand the full aims of the organisations that they give to”.
The report has generated significant interest, with much speculation that the Government is refusing to publish the report in case it implicates Saudi Arabia as a key exporter of extremism.
An independent report released the Henry Jackson Society branded the Wahhabi theocracy as “undoubtedly at the top of the list” among sources of foreign funding for Islamic extremism in Britain, with author Tom Wilson claiming his research “indicates that some Saudi individuals and foundations have been apparently heavily involved in exporting an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology”.

UK Hasidic school faced with closure for not teaching LGBT

An ultra-Orthodox girls’ elementary school in London may be forced to close after failing to meet government standards because it does not teach about homosexuality and transgender issues.
The Vishnitz Girls School, a private elementary school in the London suburb of Stamford Hill, failed three consecutive inspections from UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) according to a report released last month. Although the school received a positive review in almost every area, it failed the inspection because “they do not teach pupils about all the protected characteristics, particularly those relating to gender re-assignment and sexual orientation.”
The school, which has 212 pupils aged between three and eight years old, was rated as “good” by inspectors four years ago. But now the government may force it to close down.
According to the Ofsted report the religious values of the school mean it cannot comply with government requirements. “The proprietor and leaders agreed that the school’s policy on the protected characteristics meant that the school could not meet these standards,” the report stated.
“The school’s approach means that pupils are shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation,” inspectors wrote. “This means that pupils have a limited understanding of the different lifestyles and partnerships that individuals may choose in present-day society.”

IsraellyCool: Reems Bakery Shamelessly Lies About Non-Violent Protest To Cash In On It

Last week I blogged how some supporters and clientele of Reems bakery in Oakland attacked non-violent protesters who demonstrated outside against the mural of terrorist Rasmea Odeh hanging inside.
I called on Reems to condemn the violence. Not only didn’t they, but they have lied about the incident to drum up support and actually benefit from the incident financially, judging by this advertisement sent to me by a reader.

Note Reems’ accusations that they were holding racist signs and were violent. Now let’s look back at some photos of the protest from my previous post:

Today’s NYTimes English Instruction Lesson

New York Times’ Isabel Kershner reports:
three men armed with guns and knives attacked Israeli police officers early Friday in the vicinity of what Jews call the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, Jerusalem’s holiest site for both faiths and an emotional and volatile focal point of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Well, actually Christians know the site as the Temple Mount as well. There was no mosque there or any Islamic structure until over 600 years after the Second Temple was destroyed. Jesus visited the Temple, not some Muslim Sanctuary.
Why not simply write – instead of injecting in a straightforward news item a NYT’s semantic bias – this:
“in the vicinity of the Temple Mount also called the Haram A-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary)”?
Or this
“in the vicinity of the Temple Mount also known to the Muslims as Bayt Al-Maqdas [House of the Temple], which they call the Haram A-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary)”?

BBC Music again covers a BDS story without explaining that campaign’s agenda

As usual in BBC content relating to this topic, that ‘background’ does not however include an explanation of the BDS campaign’s aims and agenda and Mark Savage does not provide any factual information that would enable audiences to put the unchallenged allegations – such as “human rights violations”, “oppression” and “apartheid” – made by the showcased BDS supporters into their correct context.
“The band have [sic] repeatedly been urged to call off the show as part of a cultural boycott over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. […]
Radiohead have performed in Israel eight times – most recently in 2000 – but next week’s show is the first time they’ve visited since the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement began in 2005.”

As readers may recall, two years ago the BBC claimed that it is not its job to inform audiences what the BDS campaign is actually all about when reporting on related stories. More recently, the BBC has taken to bizarrely describing that campaign to eradicate Jewish self-determination as a “human rights group”.
Clearly though, BBC audiences cannot make up their own minds about Radiohead’s response to calls to join the boycott against Israel if they are not given the full information concerning that boycott campaign’s ultimate aim.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2017

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during June 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 94 incidents took place: 72 in Judea & Samaria, twenty-one in Jerusalem and one originating from the Gaza Strip.
The agency recorded 80 attacks with petrol bombs, six attacks using explosive devices, three stabbing attacks and four shooting attacks in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Also recorded was one missile attack from the Gaza Strip.
One member of the security forces was murdered and three were wounded in attacks during June.
The BBC covered the stabbing attack in Jerusalem on June 16th in which Border Police officer Hadas Malka was murdered and two other members of the security forces wounded in a report that generated considerable criticism.

Zionism and Antisemitism: Pears conference, May 2017. Alan Johnson on ‘Leon Trotsky vs Antisemitism’

At a recent conference organised by The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London , I gave a 20 minute talk on ‘Leon Trotsky and Antisemitism’. The (high-quality) podcast can be found here, along with 30 other presentations (scroll).
Play: Alan Johnson – ‘A Global Revision’? Late Trotsky on Antisemitism and the Necessity of a Territorial Solution to ‘the Jewish Question’

Study shows higher cancer rate among Holocaust survivors

The extreme trauma experienced by Holocaust survivors has severe implications on their health even tens of years later, with an Israeli study finding that they were far more likely to get certain forms of cancer.
The study, which was published earlier this month by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer journal, examined 152,622 Holocaust survivors over the course of 45 years in Israel. It compared cancer rates among those who were entitled to compensation for their experiences versus those who were not, as well as those who were from countries ruled by the Nazis and those who were not.
Generally those who were entitled to compensation suffered the worst persecution under the Nazis, surviving death camps, concentration camps and ghettos.
The Ramat Gan Sheba Medical Center’s Siegal Sadetzki, who led the the research team, said she carried out the study in order to determine if conditions experienced by Holocaust survivors — such as lack of food, overcrowding, disease and immense stress — impacted their chances of developing cancer.

Confronting Memories of Nazi-Occupied France

Early last year, France opened its WWII police archives for the first time. More than 200,000 documents, formerly available only to select scholars and officials, became open to the public after 76 years of secrecy.
Reports soon surfaced of people leaving the archives in tears, distraught with the newfound counternarrative to what their parents and grandparents had told them about the war. With this documentation, memories, on both an individual and collective level, could be confirmed, or confronted.
For me, the opportunity was personal. My grandmother lived just outside Paris during the war, in the town of La Varenne St.-Hilaire. The opening of the archives offered a chance for me to complete the portrait I’d begun to paint in my imagination of her family, her town, and its part in the glorious Resistance against the Nazis. And so, last summer, I traveled to France to do just this. And when I asked my grandmother to accompany me, with an infectious joy, she agreed.
La Varenne St.-Hilaire is only 10 miles from Paris. Born in a Catholic family in 1936, my grandmother—I call her Mémé— was only 4 years old when Nazi soldiers entered the area. Her town, she stated, had been relatively untouched by the atrocities of WWII. When I visited her in her home in London, Ontario, in the spring of 2016, before our trip, she said of the French police and Nazi occupiers: “They wouldn’t have done anything at all.” In fact, she continued, “They were probably instructed not to create problems.”
When I asked her to expand, Mémé warmly recalled a German officer who had approached her on the way home from primary school. “This German asked if he could hug me,” she recollected. “He explained that he had a daughter in Germany that looked just like me.” When I asked whether she hugged the officer in the end, Mémé replied that she couldn’t be sure.

Israel and Europe: Why Economic and Strategic Cooperation Have Never Been Better

The economic, security, and identity crisis in Europe is creating new incentives for cooperation with Israel. Israel’s economic and security ties with European states are strong. Meanwhile, a heightened fear of Islamist extremism strengthens the argument of those European leaders who believe they share common enemies with Israel because they share common values.
Imports from Israel to the EU hovered steady between 2011 and 2016 at around $14.8 billion – a historic high – and last year, European governments bought record levels of defense equipment from Israel. Israel’s reputation as the “start-up nation” is much admired on the Continent, as are its energetic academic and creative exports.
More important for EU members’ trade balances, Israel is an increasingly important market, with imports from the EU growing from 14 billion euros in 2006 to more than 21 billion in 2016.
Even in countries where there has been a decline in affection for Israel, this sentiment has not been accompanied by a broad embrace of the Palestinian cause. For many political leaders and much of the neutral public, the Palestinian national movement is associated with chaos, corruption, and violent extremism, underlined by the consequences of Israel’s pullout from Gaza, which led to Hamas rule and thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians.
Terror attacks in European cites, searing images of Islamic State butchery, and waves of Syrian refugees pouring into Europe have made it harder to sustain the idea that Israel is the source of Middle East instability. European states especially value Israeli intelligence on the threats posed by Sunni jihadist groups.
Moreover, when jihadists target European cities, it bolsters the Israeli narrative that frames Palestinian violence as driven by ideological extremism.

How a 650-year-old synagogue survived centuries of anti-Semitism

The synagogue in this Provence town is Europe’s oldest functioning Jewish house of worship — and one of the prettiest on the continent.
The Synagogue of Carpentras, which this year is celebrating its 650th anniversary, has a Baroque-style interior and a gold-ornamented hall with a blue domed ceiling. The rabbi’s pulpit is, unusually, on a balcony that overlooks the pews and the Torah ark — the work of the non-Jews who built the synagogue in a Christian style in the 16th century atop its earlier structure, which was first established in 1367.
Most impressive of all is that the synagogue is housed within a larger building that once functioned as an ancient Jewish community center of sorts. The space boasts spectacular facilities, including a 30-foot-deep ritual bath, or mikvah, fed by turquoise waters from a natural spring, another heated bath, a kosher abattoir and a bakery with large ovens that burned year round.
Yet the architects did their best to conceal the building’s splendor. The small, wooden front door is but a drab opening in a simple facade that unlike Europe’s other majestic synagogues does not even hint at the bling inside.
The juxtaposition between the majestic interior and basic exterior is the result of French Jewry’s long-held desire to celebrate its greatness without attracting too much attention.

Israeli Wheelchairs of Hope donated in Vietnam

The Israeli Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, decided to take the budget allocated for a party celebrating Israel’s 69th Independence Day in May and use it to purchase 100 innovative lightweight wheelchairs from Israeli company Wheelchairs of Hope to donate to needy local children.
In a ceremony held at the Orthopedic and Functional Rehabilitation Center in Hanoi on June 22, Israeli Ambassador to Vietnam Meirav Eilon Shaha presented 20 colorful Wheelchairs of Hope to a festive crowd, sending a message of solidarity and friendship.
The remaining 80 wheelchairs will be delivered to additional rehabilitation centers in four provinces in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho, Ben Tre and Ha Giang.
On Israel Independence Day, 250 Wheelchairs of Hope were donated to mobility-challenged children under the age of nine in Israel and PA territories, some of them earmarked for Syrian refugee children.
In addition, more than 600 Wheelchairs of Hope have been delivered to disabled children in Peru and Tajikistan through a philanthropic foundation and the World Health Organization.

Israeli App Protects Users’ Data From Snoopers Prowling Public Hot Spots

You always need to assume someone’s looking over your shoulder when you’re using public Wi-Fi: a hacker, or the government, or a plain old snoop.
Virtual private networks were invented to remedy this problem for businesses. An Israeli app called SaferVPN is being used by individuals and companies (even cybersecurity telecom enterprises) for greater security and privacy on unsecured public Wi-Fi.
The app automatically detects public Wi-Fi and alerts users, providing them with immediate access to a remote server that directs data through an encrypted “tunnel.” That remote server’s IP address can be somewhere other than where you’re actually located.
All these steps prevent outsiders from accessing your data and from knowing your identity online.
Founded in 2013 in Tel Aviv, SaferVPN boasts more than a million users in more than 240 countries, with the largest number of customers from the United States, Russia, China, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Turkey (in that order). SaferVPN was ranked #1 for top free iPhone apps and free iPhone productivity apps in the UAE Apple Store for five straight days in 2016.
SaferVPN is now partnering with human-rights crowdsourcing platform Movements.org to provide activists and dissidents in closed societies with free VPN access so they can browse the Internet safely and free of censorship.

10 ancient jugs that predate First Temple unearthed at Shiloh

An exciting find of 10 ancient jugs at Shiloh in southern Samaria could lead researchers to the Jewish tabernacle that existed there in the time of Eli the High Priest of Shiloh and the Prophet Samuel, before the First Temple was built in Jerusalem.
The jugs, only some of which were broken, date to the time when the Jewish people first entered the land of Israel. The vessels were unearthed approximately half a meter (20 inches) underground in a large room that is part of an ongoing archaeological excavation.
The jugs indicate that the place was vacated suddenly, with residents not having enough time to collect and pack up their belongings. Among the jugs, the archaeologists also found a goblet known as a kobaat, a type of ritual chalice. The discovery of the kobaat ties in with the stone altar that was unearthed in the vicinity a few years ago, and could indicate that researchers are closing in on the ancient temple.
Hanina Hizami, coordination officer for archaeology for the Civil Administration, said, “This is a very exciting find. The destruction could have been caused by the Philistine invasion and the fire that raged [at Shiloh].”

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