August 4, 2020

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07/29 Links Pt2: Matti Friedman: Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion; Jonathan Tobin: On Tisha B’Av, it’s time for Americans to step back from apocalyptic rhetoric

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/07/0729-links-pt2-matti-friedman-israel.html

From Ian:


Matti Friedman: Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion
Western ideologies generally include a parable about villainous Jews. Because this is a set of ideas that sees itself as a political critique, the parable doesn’t come, as past versions have, from Scripture (in the case of Christianity), or from economic theory (as it did in Marxism), or pseudo-scientific racial doctrines (National Socialism). It comes from the news—specifically, from the mythology that I saw being constructed as a reporter a decade ago. A strange antagonism to something called “Israel” came up if you went to a Women’s March against Donald Trump in New York, or protested violence against African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri, or joined the Dyke March in Chicago, or presented an academic paper at the American Studies Association. It appears in the platform of Black Lives Matter from 2016, in left-wing politics in Britain and France, and in gender studies courses at California colleges.

These diverse applications are unique, if not entirely unprecedented, for a news story. But they make sense if we understand the Israel story as a kind of sacred template that can be used to explain many different situations. A good example became visible this spring in the wake of the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis: the myth that Israel trains American police officers in the same methods of brutality that killed Floyd, and which are deployed more generally against people of color. This conspiracy theory has been promoted as factual by (among many others) senior journalists, members of the British Labour Party, and, in early July, by the biggest Lutheran denomination in America.

That last detail supports the idea that new religions are never completely removed from the old ones. Indeed, the unique power of the Israel story is the way it takes the central preoccupation of the new thought system—the inequality of white Western power versus nonwhite Third World innocence—and projects it onto a setting already loaded with religious resonance. If you’re looking for a parable about human inequality, places called Jerusalem or Bethlehem are potent in ways that can’t be rivaled by Xinjiang or Laayoune, or Minneapolis.

A good illustration of this merger came in the form of a speech given to a convention of the Episcopal church in 2018 by a Massachusetts bishop who described atrocities she claimed to have personally witnessed in Israel. She described the murder of an innocent 15-year-old Palestinian by Jewish soldiers—“they shot him in the back four times, he fell on the ground and they shot him another six”—and the aggressive handcuffing by soldiers of a 3-year-old Palestinian boy whose ball rolled off the Temple Mount.

It later turned out that the bishop hadn’t seen any such thing, and she apologized profusely. But in a religious mindset, the question isn’t whether a story happened. The question is whether a story can mobilize believers to achieve good. If the answer is yes, the story is “true.”

This kind of thinking has now bled into newsrooms and university departments, precisely the bodies that are supposed to be engaged in observation and reasoned debate. If important parts of the press and the academy are beginning to sound like ministries, it’s happening at a time when religion and quasi-religion are on the rise everywhere—not just on the progressive left but also on the right, and not only in the West. Some of these trends are evident in Israel, too. As we speak, as if to symbolize the moment, the Hagia Sophia is being changed from a public museum back into a mosque—though in Istanbul, at least, the conversion is being done in the open.

Jonathan Tobin: On Tisha B’Av, it’s time for Americans to step back from apocalyptic rhetoric

Americans are experiencing a summer of discontent in a way that exceeds any in living memory. The nation is divided not just along political lines but seems increasingly immersed in something much more dangerous – a culture war in which both sides truly believe that not only will a triumph by their opponents bring ruin, but that the very existence of the republic and American democracy is at stake.

That’s why both Jews and non-Jews need to pause this week and consider the lessons that the observance of Tisha B’Av: the day on the Hebrew calendar that marks the destruction of both ancient holy temples in Jerusalem, as well as many other catastrophes of Jewish history. The day of fasting and reflection, which begins this year on the evening of July 29, is not observed by most non-Orthodox Jews and generally considered too depressing to have become part of secular American Jewish culture, which prefers holidays that follow a model that runs along the lines of “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”

But if there was ever a year when its lessons were needed by Americans of all faiths, it is 2020.

Tradition teaches us that the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE occurred because of “sinat hinam” – senseless or baseless hatred—that undermined Jewish resistance during the siege of Jerusalem and great revolt against the forces of the Roman Empire.

A war that pitted the forces of a small nation against the world’s only superpower wasn’t going to have a happy ending, no matter how united the defenders of Jerusalem had been. But the rabbis who subsequently reconstituted Jewish faith emphasized the way that the Jewish rebels were divided into competing factions within Jerusalem’s walls. In the civil war that raged inside the doomed city, a Zealot faction destroyed food supplies that could have prolonged resistance. Their self-destructive behavior made the task of Roman conquest that much easier and provided Jewish history with a lesson of what not to do to survive in a hostile world.

It’s an important lesson, but not one that most Jews – or non-Jews for that matter – find easy to follow.

The political lines dividing Americans are starker than at any moment in living memory. It’s not just that Republicans and Democrats disagree about the issues. Most of the supporters of President Donald Trump and most of those who support his opponents seem unprepared to credit each other with good intentions, period.

The deafening silence of liberal Jewish leadership in the face of BLM anitsemitism

For those of us that are children of Holocaust survivors, we know well the hell our parents went through to survive.
They hid, had no food, no clothes, no medical attention, and no help.
They were cramped in hiding places with no fresh air and couldn’ t make a sound or Nazis would kill them.
It lasted a lot longer than this will last, some for up to 4 or 5 years.
They lost their education, their souls, their youth.
There were no supermarkets,no cell phones, no radios and no outside interference.

What we can compare with deadly accuracy is 1933 Nazi Germany and the inaction of our Jewish leadership and the Stockholm Syndrome response of many liberal Jews in the face of rising, hateful antisemitism.

Just as then when the voices of the leadership might have made a difference, but was barely heard, today most liberal leaders and clergy prefer to be politically correct and support our enemies.

Had Hitler conquered America or the area that is now Israel but was then the British Mandate, no Jews would have been left alive. That means many of those reading this article would never have been born.

What is it that left liberal and progressive Jews do not understand? When I hear the rabid antisemitic lies on videos and social media, I sense that another Hitler is coming – while you are sleeping, not ‘woke,’ dreaming about meeting the demands of the antisemitic Black Lives Matter.

Cogwar 8 Years on: BLM BDS & the Wokeocracy

In 2012 Prof Richard Landes said “Its not every generation that gets to defend a civilisation” and he advised that silence is not an option. In view of the extraordinary events since January 2020 when he was last in London, Campaign4Truth asked him how we have done in these 8 years: Have we been silent?

Leo Frank’s Lynching, Tom Watson’s Statue, and White Supremacy in America

The current controversy about replacing the statues of Confederate generals and other racist and problematic figures is hardly new. In 2013, Georgia removed the 12-foot high statue of demagogue Tom Watson from its state capitol.

Early on in his political career, Watson was deemed “a tolerant Populist.” But by 1913-1915 — when he led the campaign to lynch Jewish factory owner Leo Frank for the molestation-murder of Atlanta factory girl Mary Phagan — he was an all-purpose bigot against Catholics, Jews, and African-Americans. Frank was innocent and Georgia’s governor had just commuted his sentence. But Watson made sure that Frank was murdered and swung from a tree.

Watson died in 1922, soon after his election to the US Senate. But Watson’s statue was not dedicated until 1932.

After an ineffectual, anti-Watson campaign lasting years, finally, in 2013, then-governor Nathan Deal decided to relocate the Watson statue to a nearby state-owned park. The move won applause from both Jews and African-Americans. There also followed legislation authorizing a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. to be erected.

Why was 2013 chosen for the uprooting of Watson’s monument? Because that was exactly 100 years since Leo Frank’s false conviction — an event seared in the collective memory of Atlanta’s Jewish community. The Frank case also had spillover effects straining Black-Jewish relations, because the only other suspect in Mary Phagan’s murder was an African-American janitor, Jim Conley, coached by the police to testify against Frank. According to a later deathbed confession by a witness (and echoing suspicions at the time), it was Conley who killed the girl.

To crack down on hate, Twitter will require governments to act – opinion

On Monday at 9 a.m., along with thousands of others, I joined a 48-hour boycott of Twitter following the actions of a rapper I must admit never having heard of.

Richard Cowie, aka Wiley, received the Music of Black Origin award for best male artist in 2013 and was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) medal in 2018. These career landmarks passed me by, but his antisemitism did not.

I don’t know why he would compare Jews to the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t pretend to understand what motivated him to suggest Jews were “at war” with Black people and “would do anything to ruin a black mans [sic] life.”

The tirade spoke volumes; it was a diatribe of Jew hatred. I don’t want to hear his explanation or his apology. But I do expect Twitter to keep him from using its platform to peddle these views to his almost half a million followers.

Instead, I was shocked to see that the tweets remained online for 12 hours. Then Twitter appeared to act, taking his account down for a few hours and removing some of the offending tweets, only for the account to spring back to life to spew forth more hate.

Now Twitter has imposed a seven-day ban. Wow! If that is what Twitter thinks makes a measured response to anti-Semitism or any kind of hate speech, then we are living in parallel universes.

Let’s be clear: Twitter’s 12-hour period of inaction is not a small matter. This company has algorithms that spot trends and red flags dangerous content. It has monitoring teams that should have spotted this and taken action. Given the company’s capabilities, the 12 hours of delay were unacceptable.

So why only a 48-hour boycott? The answer is simple. The #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate campaign has focused huge attention on the responsibility of social media platforms to get their houses in order. We use Twitter because we love it, sharing news, reaction, jokes and gifs with friends and followers, and expect the company to maintain a space free from the vilest forms of hate.

Twitter tells MKs: Khamenei’s ‘eliminate Israel’ posts don’t violate our rules

A Twitter official on Wednesday said that the tweets in which Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”

“We have an approach toward leaders that says that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military-economic issues are generally not in violation of our rules,” Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s head policy for the Nordic countries and Israel, told the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, via video-conference.

She was responding to a question by pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky, who had asked why Twitter attached a special label to a recent tweet by US President Donald Trump noting that it violated the company’s rules, while the Iranian leaders’ many tweets about his wish for Israel to be destroyed are left untouched.

On May 29, Twitter for the first time attached a warning label to Trump’s tweet about the riots that broke out in the US following the killing of George Floyd.

“I just want to fine-tune [Ostrovsky’s] question: Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on the political situation in certain countries is not okay?” asked MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who was leading the discussion.

In post-Corbyn UK, Jews unite against Twitter’s lax response to anti-Semitism

After years of internal divisions over anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, British Jews of all stripes and their supporters united this week in the face of an anti-Jewish tirade on Twitter and Instagram from an unexpected and challenging source: a Black rapper decorated by the Queen.

The tactic chosen to protest Twitter’s lax response to the stream of abuse unleashed last week on Friday and Saturday by the rapper Wiley was a 48-hour self-imposed Twitter silence from Monday to Wednesday under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate. While there was some disagreement over the particular campaign, the political fault lines that had divided communities and families appear to be fading.

The reappearance of reasoned dialogue between community groups previously at loggerheads over a similar matter — years of alleged systemic anti-Semitism in the Labour Party — was striking. British Jews have not found perfect harmony, but they are at least singing a similar tune.

While some questioned why the campaign seemed tougher than responses to anti-Semitic posts by white Jew-haters, the boycott drew support from major figures across a broad spectrum of British arts, music and politics. Local household names included former England football captain Gary Lineker — who has 7 million followers — actresses Dawn French and Kathy Burke, singer Billy Bragg, “Veep” and “The Thick of It” creator Armando Ianucci, and broadcasters Martin Lewis and James O’Brien.

“If there’s even the slightest chance that this gesture can influence the companies concerned to stem the tide of ignorant lies, conspiracy theories and violent hatred that they allow to flood social media and feed prejudice daily, then how could I not join in?” well-known actor Jason Isaacs told The Times of Israel.

“Anti-Semitism, like racism, sexism, homophobia and every other shade of hatred needs to be stamped out as early as possible before the weeds take over the garden,” said Isaacs, who has appeared in “Harry Potter,” “Star Trek,” “Dig” and “The OA.”

Wiley’s tirade, accompanied by the white supremacist hashtag #JewishPrivilege, came after the British Jewish community lent wide support for the UK’s Black Lives Matter movement. Many feared this might be undone by the outburst.

The boycott was started by Tracy-Ann Oberman, an actress and outspoken critic of anti-Jewish hate speech. It was directed at Twitter for failing to take quick, decisive action against Wiley, rather than a personal attack on the rapper himself that could be misinterpreted as Jews piling onto a Black celebrity. On Tuesday, Wiley’s personal accounts on Facebook and Instagram were deleted for violating the terms of service.

Survivors appeal to Facebook to remove Holocaust denial posts

Well-known survivors of the Holocaust from around the world began a new online campaign on Wednesday to urge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to remove Holocaust denial posts from the social media platform.

The campaign was organized by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), which advocates and secures compensation and social services funding for Holocaust survivors around the world. In the first-ever digital campaign driven by Holocaust survivors, the message to Zuckerberg will be “Holocaust denial posts on Facebook are hate speech and must be removed!”

Beginning July 29, each day – every day – a recorded message from the final generation of Holocaust survivors to Zuckerberg will be posted on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and other social media platforms, such as Twitter.

“They are calling us liars,” one survivor will say in a recorded message. “We aren’t liars. We are witnesses.”

While there have been many calls and efforts to remove hate speech from Facebook, Holocaust denial has not been removed because Zuckerberg refuses to classify it as hate speech. The Claims Conference has argued that Holocaust denial is intentional and therefore a violation of
Facebook’s own community standards.

Notable survivors include Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, Anne Frank’s stepsister Eve Schloss, Kristallnacht survivor Charlotte Knobloch and Auschwitz survivor Roman Kent, the head of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

“Most of my family was murdered, as well as many of my friends,” said Kent in his recorded message to Zuckerberg. “You must know that Holocaust denial is nothing short of hate dialogue. There is no denying it.”

Twitter permanently bars Wiley for anti-Semitism after taking heavy criticism

Twitter permanently suspended influential British rapper Wiley on Wednesday after he posted a slew of anti-Semitic comments on the platform, and other social media, in the past week.

The company had come under heavy fire, particularly from UK Jews, for not taking quick and decisive action against the musician.

Twitter said it had conducted an investigation and determined Wiley’s tweets violated its policy against hateful conduct.

In a statement, Twitter apologized for not acting sooner and vowed to take a stand against anti-Semitism in the future.

“Let us be clear: hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service and we strongly condemn anti-Semitism,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Times of Israel. “We are sorry we did not move faster and are continuing to assess the situation internally.

“We deeply respect the concerns shared by the Jewish community and online safety advocates, and we will continue to work closely with government, NGOs, civil society partners and our industry peers to tackle anti-Semitism on Twitter,” the statement said.

Twitter previously temporarily barred Wiley, whose name is Richard Kylea Cowie, and left his other tweets visible.

On Friday, Wiley posted a stream anti-Semitic tweets that included claims of connections between the Jewish community and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as repeated tropes about Jews and money.

As Twitter finally deletes Wiley’s account following talks with CAA, we shone a light on its racism — literally

Twitter has permanently deleted antisemitic performer Wiley’s account. They did so following discussions with Campaign Against Antisemitism under immense pressure amid a worldwide 48-hour boycott of Twitter under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.

Last night, Campaign Against Antisemitism went to Twitter’s London headquarters to shine a light on the company after it failed so spectacularly to address racist incitement on its platform.

Numerous examples of antisemitic tweets were projected onto Twitter’s building in an effort to embarrass Twitter into cleaning up the mess that it has enabled and allowed to fester online.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Following discussions with Campaign Against Antisemitism, during which we made clear that the beginning of their path to building faith would be the removal of Wiley’s account, this morning Twitter has finally listened. The closure of Wiley’s account is too little too late, but it is at least a start for this deeply irresponsible social network.

“After Twitter’s abysmal response to blatant anti-Jewish incitement on its platform, last night we decided to literally shine a light on the company and project onto its London headquarters some of the hateful tweets that Twitter permits on its platform.

“From their pitiful responses to the hate spewed daily on their platforms, it is evident that social media companies will stop at nothing to make a profit. It is time for these deeply damaging and irresponsible companies to be held accountable for the hatred they help to spread.”

Seth Rogen: Israel ‘Makes No Sense,’ Might as Well Put Jews ‘in a Blender’

In a broad-ranging interview on Judaism, actor Seth Rogen said the reason for Israel’s existence “makes no sense,” and the notion of a Jewish homeland to safeguard the Jewish people was comparable to putting them in a blender. Rogen also said antisemitism today was “pervasive and prevalent.”

Rogen, in conversation with Marc Maron on his hour-long “WTF” podcast on Monday, grew up in Jewish day schools in Vancouver.

Macron prefaced the show with the disclaimer, “If you don’t like Jews, you’re gonna get triggered” and said it was the “Jewiest talk” he had ever had on his show.

“If you meet a Jewish person in America, they’re probably here because someone tried to kill their grandparents not that long ago,” Rogan said.

The left-wing actor and comedian went on to denounce the idea of Jewish state in Israel and said a “better strategy” after the Holocaust would have been to ensure that Jews are spread out all over the world and not concentrated in one place. “You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket,” he said.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” he added.

“It would be nice to live somewhere which was not a part of Christian apocalyptic prophecy,” he said, “maybe settle somewhere the Christians don’t think you’ll have to die in order for the Apocalypse [to occur].”

Macron concurred, saying Christians had a “ridiculous vision” they needed Jews in order to fulfill but that in the long run they weren’t “gunning for us.”

The 38-year-old said there was no way he would ever live in Israel.

“To me it just seems an antiquated thought process,” Rogen said. “If it is for religious reasons, I don’t agree with it, because I think religion is silly. If it is for truly the preservation of Jewish people, it makes no sense, because again, you don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place — especially when that place is proven to be pretty volatile, you know? ‘I’m trying to keep all these things safe, I’m gonna put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place… that’ll do it.’”

Leaked email from Corbyn ally shows he recognised that controversial leaked Labour report was misleading and feared the consequences

A leaked email from a senior Corbyn ally in Labour Party headquarters shows that he recognised that a controversial leaked report about the Party’s handling of antisemitism was misleading and that there may be adverse consequences following its dissemination.

Thomas Gardiner, who resigned a few weeks ago as Labour’s Director of Governance and Legal, is reported to have sent an email on 11th April to the Party’s General-Secretary saying that the report on Labour’s handling of antisemitism ought not to be circulated because emails and WhatsApp messages from Party staffers had been “presented selectively and without their true context in order to give a misleading picture.”

An unredacted version of the 851-page report was nevertheless leaked, giving rise to potential date breach claims that may cost the Labour Party millions of pounds in legal costs.

In his email, Mr Gardiner expressed concern that the report would “lay false blame” on him, that searches of staffers’ email accounts, including his own, were “not authorised” and “improper” and that use of confidential WhatsApp messages represented “a clear and unacceptable breach of confidence,” adding: “Further, these messages are presented selectively and without their true context in order to give a misleading picture.”

Although the report had by then been leaked, Mr Gardiner said “I realise it will not be helpful not to further use the report, given that it has apparently been leaked in a previous version, but I must register this formal objection.”

The report, which Campaign Against Antisemitism described at the time as “a desperate last-ditch attempt to deflect and discredit allegations of antisemitism”, was originally compiled for submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). On advice from Labour’s lawyers, the Party has not submitted the report to the EHRC.

Chris Williamson Crowdfunding against EHRC and the ‘Israel Lobby’

Disgraced former Labour MP Chris Williamson has today launched a crowdfunding appeal to take on a fierce enemy of the left – the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Williamson, who stood as an Independent in the last election, losing the seat and his deposit, has resorted to appealing for donations after learning he has been named in the EHRC’s Draft Report into the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism. He wants to take legal action “about this and other matters”…

In a bizarre appeal video, Williamson promises to fight the EHRC which, he alleges, “appears determined to smear our movement”. Any leftover money from the fundraiser will be put into a ‘fighting fund’, with Williamson explaining in interesting language…

“The fighting fund’s already supported activists with legal costs and defended people who’ve been smeared by the Israel Lobby.”

He’s already raised over £5,000. Pales in comparison to Jeremy Corbyn’s £300,000…

Panorama’s John Ware Suing Jewish Voice for Labour

Panorama’s John Ware has today confirmed he will sue the pro-Corbyn lobby group Jewish Voice for Labour for libel over comments made in relation to last year’s programme “Is Labour Antisemitic”. Action will also be taken against founder member Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi, who said Ware had a “terrible record of Islamophobia, far-right politics” and falsely claimed the BBC had had to “apologise” for his journalism. Ware has said the question of whether he is to sue Corbyn personally for defamation is still with his lawyers. The bigger question, however, is whether Jeremy will share any of the £300,000 raised for his legal defence with JVL…

Jeremy Corbyn deletes Wiley tweet without condemning antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn has deleted a past tweet exchange with the grime artist Wiley, who has become embroiled in controversy over an extended antisemitic rant.

Wiley, whose real name is Richard Kylea Cowie Jr., appears to have shown support for the former Labour leader, who thanked him for his endorsement.

However, with Wiley now at the centre of his own antisemitism scandal, Mr Corbyn, whose tenure as Labour leader was marked by the Party’s institutional antisemitism, has apparently deleted the tweet, but has not issued any statement explaining why or condemning Wiley’s antisemitism.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Jeremy Corbyn has not found time to express a shred of solidarity with the Jewish community even as #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate became Twitter’s top trending hashtag, but he has found time to cover his own tracks. Mr Corbyn’s deletion of his positive Twitter exchange with Wiley without any statement condemning his antisemitism suggests that he is acting purely out of self-interest to try to protect the shards of his shattered reputation as a supposed ‘anti-racist’.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism recently called for Mr Corbyn to be suspended from Labour after he made a conspiratorial statement about a legal settlement reached between Labour and former staffers turned whistleblowers.

Mr Corbyn has a long history of antisemitism controversies implicating him directly, and over 57,000 people signed our petition denouncing him as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”

Guardian downplays antisemitism of British Muslim charity official

On July 24th, the Guardian published an article based on an exclusive by The Times that revealed antisemitic Facebook posts by a trustee of Britain’s largest Muslim charity, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). Though the Guardian piece, by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes, was largely unproblematic, the wording in the second paragraph caught our eye:
In Facebook posts published in 2014 and 2015, the trustee, Heshmat Khalifa, called Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a “pimp son of the Jews” and labelled Israeli authorities as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs”.

The Guardian claim that the Arabic Facebook post by Khalifa – who resigned from IRW after The Times’ revelations – merely referred to “Israeli authorities” as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs” differs from the translation by The Times, and nearly every media outlet which covered the story. These outlets reported that the IRW trustee labelled “Jews” as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs”, not merely “Israeli authorities”.

The only outlet other than the Guardian to translate it as “Israeli authorities” that we found was 5 Pillars – the Islamist news site whose editors have repeatedly legitimised extremism and engaged in antisemitism.

Professors Attack German Antisemitism Commissioner in Letter to Chancellor Merkel

More than 60 German and Israeli academics have signed a letter addressed to Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, complaining that criticism of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians was being “suppressed” by concerns over antisemitism and eviscerating the German government’s antisemitism commissioner for allegedly promoting “right-wing populist Israeli voices.”

The letter — whose signatories include former Knesset Deputy Speaker Prof. Naomi Chazan and the prominent historians Dr. Wolfgang Benz and Prof. Moshe Zimmermann — emphasized that the writers’ concern was “particularly great where this tendency is linked to political and financial support for the antisemitism commissioner.”

The commissioner, Felix Klein, was appointed as Germany’s first official tasked with combating antisemitism in 2018, in the midst of a dramatic escalation in outrages targeting the country’s Jewish community.

While Klein has focused primarily on the role of far-right agitators, he has occasionally clashed with adversaries of Israel on the left, who were angered by his support for legislation passed by the German parliament in May 2019 that designated as antisemitic the global campaign to subject Israel to boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

In May this year, Klein was similarly vilified after he commented that the comparison of the Jewish state with the former racist white-minority regime in South Africa was a familiar antisemitic trope.

The July 24 letter to Merkel made specific mention of Klein’s alleged backing for a publication by Arye Sharuz Shalicar — a German-born Israeli — in which a German academic, Reiner Bernstein, was referred to as a “Jew-hater.” A court action by Bernstein against Shalicar for slander collapsed last month when a Berlin court ruled that the Israeli had engaged in a “permissible expression of opinion.”

Reuters and the Case of the Missing Hezbollah ‘Terrorist’

Tensions remain high in the North after the IDF thwarted a possible attack by the Hezbollah terrorist militia on Monday along the border with Lebanon. A Hezbollah cell, which numbered between three and five operatives, crossed the border several meters into Israeli territory and was identified by the IDF, which opened fire with machine guns and tank shells. Hezbollah has denied launching an operation against Israel.

The above paragraph is an example of straight news, without opining or commentary. Contrast that with this:

Please note the missing ‘terrorist’ in this Reuters Facebook post. This isn’t merely an oversight. The complete article doesn’t include the term ‘terrorist’ or ‘militant.’ Omitting this basic fact about Hezbollah denies news readers access to crucial information about its history, modus operandi, and connection to one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism.

Hezbollah: part-military, part-political, all terrorist
This is the United Nations General Assembly’s definition of terrorism:
Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

Governments around the world have created lists of organizations they designate as terrorists. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization in eighteen countries, while its military wing is designated as such by the European Union. In late June, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the EU to designate both the political and military wings as a terrorist group.

Britain reaffirms position of Holocaust-era property restitution

The British government reaffirmed its support for Holocaust-era property restitution in Poland as well as other countries, the House of Lords stated during session on Tuesday.

“We are in regular conversation with the Polish Government on the restitution of property seized during the Nazi occupation,” said Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development. “The UK post-Holocaust issues envoy, my noble friend Lord Pickles, is working with the US and other parties to call on Poland to pass legislation to provide restitution to provide restitution of, or compensation for, private property.”

In April, Poland’s parliament sent draft legislation aimed at blocking restitution of property lost or stolen during the Holocaust to a committee, even as the country’s ruling party voiced opposition to it.

The draft states: “It is forbidden to take any actions aimed at satisfying claims regarding heirless property, including negotiations, entering into settlements, recognizing claims and actions relating to heirless property, consenting to mediation, directing parties to mediation or payment of cash benefits.”

It also states that Nazi Germany, not Poland, is responsible for what happened in Poland when it was occupied by Germany.

The ruling right-wing Law and Justice party said on Wednesday that it does not support the draft because it is “unnecessary,” but it was introduced to parliament because it garnered 200,000 signatures – well above the 100,000 needed to do so.

Poland is, according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the only major European nation without laws regulating the restitution of private property – or possessions that belonged to individuals but ended up in the hands of the Polish state or other parties after the Holocaust.

Lord Ahmad intends to raise this issue during his first meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister.

After Twitter storm, Met museum changes tefillin label from amulet to phylactery

Days after a small corner of the internet erupted with criticism of how the Metropolitan Museum of Art labeled a Jewish ritual object in its collection, the New York museum has quietly revised the description.

Where its website had previously called the tefillin — the leather boxes and straps used in prayer by observant Jews — an “amulet,” it now refers to them by the word “phylactery.”

A photo of the piece in the collection looks unmistakably like one piece of tefillin, the leather boxes and straps used in prayer by observant Jews. A shin, the Hebrew letter on the portion of tefillin that goes on the head, can be seen in the picture.

Twitter users had challenged the amulet label after an automated account that shares pictures of items in the museum’s holding posted one of the tefillin, which is part of the Islamic art collection. Some called the museum’s labeling anti-Semitic because it did not reflect the Jewish nature of the item.

The new label does not indicate that the item, which is not on display publicly, is used by Jews. The museum obtained the item in 1962 and says it likely originated in sixth century Egypt.

Bids by Israeli cities to honor Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum stir anger

She was one of the Arab world’s most revered singers, praised by Bob Dylan and sampled by Beyonce: the late Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum seems worthy of having a street named in her honor.

But when that street is in Israel, a country she condemned while championing the Palestinian cause, a decision to honor the vocalist branded “the Star of the East,” has triggered controversy.

Haifa — Israel’s third largest city, where roughly 10 percent of its 300,000 residents are Arab — decided earlier this month to honor the woman whose deep, resonant voice was also adored by many Jews.

The decision highlights the diversity of the city, “which represents a model of coexistence between Arabs and Jews,” Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem said.

Umm Kulthum, who died aged 76 in 1975, performed in Haifa in the 1930s when the city was in British-mandated Palestine before Israel’s creation in 1948.

Haifa councilor Raja Zaatreh said honoring Umm Kulthum is an appropriate way of recognizing the “presence and roots” of Israel’s Arab community, which regularly complains of discrimination.

Underwater bricks show skills of prehistoric inhabitants of Israel

About 9,000 years ago, the site of Atlit Yam was home to a vibrant village, where several houses, as well as a ritual place stood. A few centuries later, the area was submerged by the sea and today is located about 500 meters off the coast of northern Israel. Among the remains of buildings as well as of animals, plants and even several individuals, marine archaeologists identified a number of circular installations made of heated mud bricks. As a group of Israeli scholars from the Department of Maritime Civilizations and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority found out, those ancient artifacts offer a key to understand how prehistoric populations in Israel evolved in ancient times, becoming more and more skillful and proficient in using the environment surrounding them.

Atlit Yam heated mud brick installation (Credit: Ehud Galili)Atlit Yam heated mud brick installation (Credit: Ehud Galili)

“In the Neolithic period, we start seeing the first sedentary settlements and the appearance of bricks is deeply connected to this phenomenon,” Isaac Ogloblin Ramírez, a PhD student and the lead author of the paper recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, told The Jerusalem Post.

If at the beginning of the Neolithic era, bricks were simply dried out in the sun, as ancient populations developed pyro-technologies, the artifacts started to be fired, which increased their resistance to the point of allowing them to survive for millennia under the sea.

For the study, the researchers considered bricks found in sites from different periods, both submerged and not. Underwater survey and collection of samples for analysis was conducted with the assistance of the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer: Do not knock down the Arch of Titus, let it stand

Eighty percent of American Jews have absolutely no idea what Judaism is. You see them on TV. You read them in some publications. Sometimes they say that they are motivated by their “Jewish values.” In reality, the vast majority of them would not know real Judaism if it were placed on their laps, served on their plates, or sung to them on their iPods. Sadly, they do not know how to read a sentence in the Talmud. Sadly, they have no clue what happens in most of the Jewish calendar year. Indeed, a large chunk of those “Jews” who tell pollsters that they are Jewish in fact are not even Jewish altogether.

There is a world of difference between a Ben Shapiro, a Jeff Jacoby, and a Dennis Prager on the one hand, and a Bernie Sanders and a George Soros on the other. Bernie Sanders is a Communist who ran away from Black people in Brooklyn to live in lily-white Vermont, and who ran away from Judaism in Brooklyn to live in Vermont. George Soros had a greater connection to Jews, allegedly helping his adoptive Nazi father register property the Nazis seized from Jews. As Soros told Steve Kroft on CBS’s “Sixty Minutes,” if he had not kept the ledgers for the Nazi, then someone else would have.

These people embarrass me. And that embarrassment is amplified by the reality that such Leftists and Jewish no-nothings influence the news to determine which rabbis get quoted, which understanding of Judaism gets disseminated and transmitted in America. I am a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at Coalition of Jewish Values, which numbers more than 1,000 Orthodox rabbis. I recently concluded spending six years on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, which numbers 1,000 rabbis. Those two rabbinic bodies have some membership overlap, but not much.

There is yet another mainstream Orthodox rabbinic body to our right, Agudath Israel. We 2,000-plus Orthodox rabbis in America way-outnumber the rabbis of the “reform” and “conservative” movements, which basically have become branches of the ACLU, but the secular or non-Jewish reader never would know it.

We 2,000-plus Orthodox rabbis in America observe the laws, practices, and customs of Judaism — observing the Sabbath as prescribed, observing kosher laws, and much else. We are pro-life and rarely can allow an abortion under Torah law. We see a world of only two genders because that is what the Torah tells us, that G-d created Adam and Eve, male and female He created them. And so it goes with the marriages that we perform.

But the mainstream media black us out. We don’t exist. None of the 2,000-plus of us — not to mention the millions of American Orthodox Jewish laity whom we guide as our flocks. None suppress us more than the Leftists who identify as Jews — who sometimes are and sometimes are not even Jewish but say they are.

Honest Reporting: On Tisha B’Av, The Whole World Should Mourn – Not Just The Jews

Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 1871. He writes the following in his book, Travels Around the World:

For centuries (we do not know how many) the Turkish rulers have allowed the oppressed and exiled Jews the privilege of gathering at the foot of this wall one day in every week, and pouring out their lamentations over the fall of their beloved city, and praying for its restoration to the Lord, who promised, in giving its name, that he would ‘be there.’

The Jewish sabbath being on Saturday, and beginning at sunset on Friday, the weekly wail of the Jews under the wall takes place on Friday, and is a preparation for the rest and worship of the day which they are commanded to ‘keep holy.’ The small rectangular open plaza serves for the gathering of the whole remnant of the Jewish nation in Jerusalem. Here, whether it rains or shines, they come together at an early hour, old and young, men, women, and little children – the poor and the rich, in their best costumes, discordant as the diverse nations from which they come.

They are attended by their rabbis, each bringing the carefully-preserved and elaborately-bound text of the book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, either in their respective languages, or in the original Hebrew. For many hours they pour forth their complaints, reading and reciting the poetic language of the prophet, beating their hands against the wall, and bathing the stones with their kisses and tears. It is no mere formal ceremony.

Jews mourn for the destruction of the Temples year-round, as Seward witnessed at the Western Wall in 1871. But there is one day in the Jewish calendar – the ninth of the month of Av – in which mourning over the Temples is the exclusive focus of Jews worldwide.

In 586 BCE on this date, the First Temple in Jerusalem, built by King Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar. In 70 CE on the same date, the Second Temple, refurbished by Herod the Great, was destroyed by the Romans led by Titus. One can see the Arch of Titus in Rome today which shows images of Roman soldiers pillaging the Temple and looting its ritual vessels. Both Temples sat on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the exact spot where the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque currently sit.

During the 2,000 years of exile, no matter where they were around the world and not matter what horrific persecution they were experiencing, Jews have commemorated the destruction of the Temples on Tisha B’av in a uniquely Jewish way – fasting, introspecting, and reciting sad prayers while sitting on low chairs or on the floor. They also prayed for a return to Jerusalem and the restoration of the Temple on a daily basis and at their wedding ceremonies they broke a glass, declaring that their happiness cannot be complete as long as the Temple sits in ruins.

The international media often portrays Jews who seek to pray on the Temple Mount as radicals, trouble-makers, and even militants, seeking to create tension between Jews and Muslims. First and foremost, this is inaccurate. Jews simply seek the right to pray on the site where their Temples once stood. There is no reason for this to be seen as interference with Muslim worship which takes place in the same area. Second, the Jewish Temple itself was not a place for only Jews to worship.

The Western Wall and the Jews: More than a Thousand Years of Prayer

Against the background of the Jordanian condemnation of Israel for work carried out by Israel on the southern extension of the Western Wall and the Muslim denial of the Jewish connection to the Western Wall, Nadav Shragai, a researcher at the Jerusalem Center, published this collection of forgotten and lesser-known facts about the Western Wall, which Muslims are trying to deny.

– After the destruction of the Temple, Jews prayed on the Temple Mount, on the Mount of Olives, at the eastern and southern walls, and finally – when Jerusalem was reopened – Jews returned to the Western Wall, which is closest in proximity to the Holy of Holies.
– The current place of worship at the Western Wall was established after an earthquake in 1546, which collapsed a row of buildings leaning against the Western Wall and cleared a short prayer alley for Jews, used with the approval of the Ottoman authorities.
– The central synagogue of the Jews in Jerusalem, “The Cave,” was located inside the Western Wall tunnels for many years, until the city fell to the Crusaders in 1099.
– The Jewish scholar, Yitzhak Yehezkiel Yehuda, collected dozens of testimonies of Jewish prayers throughout many points in time, beginning in 950 CE. They were submitted to the 1930 British Western Wall Commission, testifying to the Jewish connection to the place.
– A valuable new study prepared by Dr. Aryeh Kimelman reveals that in parallel with the prayers at the Western Wall “alley,” which later expanded to become the Western Wall Plaza, Jews prayed at various points along the entire length of the wall, for example, near the Cotton Merchants’ Gate, Council Gate, and Iron Gate.
– Muslims today deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, as well as reject any Jewish connection to the Western Wall. They claim that the entire area of the Temple Mount is “part of al-Aqsa.”
– After 1967, the Muslims expanded the definition of “al-Aqsa” beyond just the southern mosque on the Mount and applied it to the entire compound and its walls.
– During the 19 years of occupying east Jerusalem, Jordan violated a commitment to allow Jews to pray at the Western Wall.



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