August 5, 2020

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08/01 Links: Caroline Glick: Riots and protests from Portland to Jerusalem; After Tisha B’Av fast, Nick Cannon reviews Bari Weiss’ anti-Semitism book

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Riots and protests from Portland to Jerusalem
In Israel, in contrast, the left is post-religious and ideologically bankrupt. Its two gods – peace and surrender – came crashing down 20 and 15 years ago, respectively. The failure of the Camp David peace summit in July 2000 and the start of the Palestinian terror war in September 2000 killed the religion of peace. The left’s “unilateral withdrawal” god was shattered when months after Israel expelled its citizens from Gaza and handed the area over to the PLO in August 2005, Hamas seized power and embarked on a war against Israel that has yet to end.

Although bereft of an ideological message to sell the public, the Left in Israel has considerable power. Its control over Israel’s deep state – including the entire legal system – is far more comprehensive than the American Left’s control over its state apparatuses.

The Israeli Left controls most media organs, the universities, and cultural institutions. It has a limitless funding from foreign governments and private foundations in Europe and the US.

And the Israeli Left has demonstrators who are willing to cause mayhem to promote hatred of Netanyahu.

Like their American counterparts, the demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are happening in the context of the pandemic. The demonstrators have hitched a ride on the economic distress the pandemic has induced. They also benefit from the closure of the public sphere.

With the bars and nightclubs shut down – and all travel abroad blocked until further notice – young people looking for a way to get together have only one option. The anti-Netanyahu demonstrations are the only parties in the country.

No matter who wins in November, it’s hard to see how the situation in the US will stabilize and how order will be restored. The rise of progressive politicians at the expense of moderate Democrats indicates the radicalization of the American Left is not a flash in the pan. One electoral cycle won’t fix what has been broken incrementally over five decades.

In Israel, in the absence of an ideological Left, the main and most tangible danger posed by the demonstrations is that one of the incited protesters will try to kill Netanyahu and his family. Threats to assassinate the prime minister and his wife and children have proliferated on social media as the massively and sympathetically covered protests have grown more incendiary.

But as far as Israeli society as a whole in concerned, so long as Netanyahu and his family remain safe, the protests are not likely to gain much traction. The public on both the Right and the Left are more moderate than they were 25 years ago. Netanyahu’s public resilience – despite the Left’s 25-year campaign to destroy him – is proof of the limits of the Left’s power.

There are many conservative commentators on the right side of America’s unbridgeable political divide that believe the US public will respond at the ballot box to the violence in their streets by reelecting Trump. Author Victor Davis Hanson wrote this week about the coming “counter-revolution.”

In Israel’s case, elections, and counter-revolutions, while necessary to enact the reforms required to rein in the deep state and restore Israel’s democratic order, probably won’t be needed to end the demonstrations. How many people will choose to stand outside screaming once the pubs reopen?

Amnesty International vs. Morocco and Israel

Amnesty International is a human rights NGO lionized by the media that disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation. Even when occasionally denouncing human rights violations in other Middle Eastern countries, it endeavors to impute much of the responsibility directly or indirectly to the Jewish State.

Lately Amnesty has been targeting Israel through its fixation on Pegasus, a software that can be “injected” into smartphones to track the user’s location, calls, messages, etc. (a technique known as “spear phishing”). Pegasus was developed by NSO Group, an Israeli cybersecurity company founded in 2010 for combating the incessant terrorist attacks that target Israel’s civilian population. It was, and continues to be, instrumental in saving the lives and limbs of countless men, women and children.

It stood to reason that this important tool could be equally effective in preventing terrorist attacks all over the world, as well as disrupting drug and human trafficking and various other crimes. To minimize the possibility of it being misused, the company chose to sell this and other technologies only to “authorized governments,” more recently “in alignment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry licenses the export of Pegasus to foreign governments but not to private entities. To cite just one of numerous examples, the Mexican government reportedly recaptured the notorious drug lord El Chapo in 2014 by means of the Pegasus software.

It is common knowledge that even life-saving medications may cause undesirable and at times dangerous side-effects. Penicillin and acetaminophen can and have caused deaths. Practically no human inventions, including software programs, are totally and predictably risk-free or immune from misuse.

That was the case with Amnesty’s allegation that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus to spy on, and later murder, Jamal Khashoggi, according to analyses performed by Citizen Lab at the behest of Amnesty that indicated that certain “domain names point[ed] to websites that appear to be part of NSO’s Group’s Pegasus infrastructure.”

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the uncertainty provided by words such as “appear to be” is often absent in Amnesty’s reports, as are other Citizen Lab caveats like “apparently,” “believe” and “suspected.”

How the Mossad hunted the ‘Butcher of Riga,’ who murdered up to 30,000 Jews

In March 1965, the West German Bundestag overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to bring to an end the hunt for Nazi war criminals and introduce a statute of limitations for their crimes.

The months leading up to the debate had seen a wave of opposition to the plans across the world. Thousands took to the streets from Tel Aviv to Toronto and Los Angeles to London. Nobel Prize winners, politicians, playwrights and the future Pope Benedict XVI raised their voices in protest. And in Germany, a bitter and divisive national debate broke out about how the country should atone for its sins and how widespread the responsibility for them truly lay.

But in those months another effort had also been launched to derail the German proposals. Hatched in secret by Israel’s intelligence chiefs and approved by prime minister Levi Eshkol, it was one that was nonetheless designed to focus the world’s attention on the hundreds, if not thousands, of perpetrators who had never seen the inside of a courtroom or prison cell — and likely never would if the Bundestag approved the statute.

It was also an effort in which Israel itself would act as judge, jury and executioner. Israel’s foreign intelligence agency the Mossad, it was decided, would hunt down and kill Herberts Cukurs — the “Butcher of Riga” — who was accused of being personally responsible for the deaths of at least 30,000 Latvian Jews.

Cukurs’s assassination, for which Israel would claim no responsibility, would publicize and punish his terrible crimes. It would serve, too, as a warning of the kind of rough justice that would be meted out to others if Germany provided an amnesty to war criminals.

The story of the mission to kill Cukurs is told in journalist and author Stephan Talty’s new book, “The Good Assassin: Mossad’s Hunt for the Butcher of Latvia.” It is a brilliantly written, heart-stopping, and, at times, heartbreaking tale; one that crosses continents from the “bloodlands” of Eastern Europe to the jungles of South America.

At the center of Talty’s retelling lie two men: Cukurs and the undercover agent dispatched by Mossad to ensnare him, Yaakov “Mio” Meidad.

Known in the agency as “the man with the hundred identities,” Meidad was a German-born Jew whose parents had perished in the death camps. He had helped abduct Adolf Eichmann and bring him to Israel for trial.

Talty, who first encountered the story of the mission when reading Ronen Bergman’s “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” was fascinated by both Cukurs and Meidad, as well as the events that had brought them together.

“It was this idea that these two characters existed on either side of a terrible historical moment and now they had to meet, and Mio had to basically form a friendship with someone who was sort of the face of the ‘ordinary men’ of the Holocaust,” Talty told The Times of Israel.

After Tisha B’Av fast, Nick Cannon reviews Bari Weiss’ anti-Semitism book

Nick Cannon and Bari Weiss exploded into the news within a day of each other this month. So perhaps it is only fitting that the entertainer, who found himself in hot water after making anti-Semitic comments on his podcast, ended the month by reviewing the former New York Times writer’s 2019 book, “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.”

Cannon apologized after his remarks came to light and promised to educate himself about Judaism and anti-Semitism. In addition to meeting with a rabbi whose focus is on combating anti-Semitism, he also committed to reading Weiss’ book.

Today, he posted his review on Instagram “after a full day of fasting, meditation, study and prayer honoring for the first time Tisha B’av,” calling the book “an insightful and powerful read.”

In his post, he said he had learned about Weiss — who resigned from the New York Times in an open letter that accused the newspaper of fostering a hostile workplace — because she had retweeted a story that criticized him. He wrote:

“In this insightful read, the words that stood out to me were “Anti-Semitism is fueled by the malicious but often feeds on the ignorance of the well-intentioned.” Asking myself, is she talking about me? Knowing that my intentions have never been hateful but recently I had fallen into the same category that the author despises and writes about like Henry Ford, Charles Coughlin, and more recently the abhorrent American Terrorist Robert Bowers, who on Oct. 27, 2018 murdered 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the author’s home neighborhood in Pittsburgh, which ultimately inspired her to write this book. …

“In her solutions to fighting Anti-Semitism she suggests building community, loving your neighbor and praising those who do the right thing, along with not ‘worshiping the group over the dignity of the individual in fear of worshiping another false deity.’ … So TOGETHER let’s bring Light into this world and get rid of what is known as its oldest hatred.”

Black British paper pulls Wiley’s remarks on Jews, defends publishing them

The Voice, a British weekly aimed at the African-Caribbean community, pulled an interview with the rapper Wiley in which he repeated antisemitic tropes about Jews.

But in a statement Friday, the paper defended its decision to publish the interview.

“The Voice has not, and makes it clear again, supported or in any way condoned the outbursts by Wiley that the Jewish community finds offensive,” the statement said. “We do not support the stereotyping of any race or group.”

But the paper said that its role was to give voice to Black Britons and that should not be construed as an endorsement of every view it publishes.

“As a black media outlet, we are here to give our people a voice,” the statement said. “That doesn’t mean we will always agree with everything that is published.”

Wiley, who this week was banned from Twitter and Facebook over his views, said of British Jews: “They see us as slaves.”

Speaking about Jews, Wiley also wondered in the interview “why all of these families are rich, or all of these people have heritage, not just England, like, worldwide.” The interview followed Wiley’s apology for previous remarks about Jews.

In the article, the paper’s arts and entertainment editor, Joel Campbell, weighed Wiley’s claims that Black artists depend on Jewish lawyers to succeed.

Jews do not run the music business, says Mark Ronson

The pop star and producer Mark Ronson has hit back at claims made by the antisemitic rapper Wiley about Jewish domination of the music industry.

Reacting to the publication of the inflammatory interview with the Grime star published by black newspaper The Voice, Mr Ronson tweeted: “Jews do not run the music business in some secret cabal (and if they do it’s mad f**ked up i havent been invited yet). [sic]”

The musician – best known for his Uptown Funk hit and his work with Amy Winehouse – also took issue with comments made by the Voice journalist, who wrote of claims “you need to get a Jewish lawyer in order to progress in the music business”.

Mr Ronson, who has regularly discussed his pride over his Jewish background, responded by tweeting: “MY LAWYER IS ITALIAN. My label is run by a Gentile, & owned by a Japanese board.”

Addressing Wiley’s claims that Jewish music business executives were responsible for offering contracts that left artists being treated like slaves, Mr Ronson wrote: “Many of us know that record deals can often be some of the most god-awfully unfair contracts in business.

“But that shitty record contract Wiley’s talking about? I promise my own record contract contains ALL the same standard shitty terms.”

He then criticised The Voice for the tone of the article, published on Wednesday, saying: “Throwing fuel on the fire with poorly researched articles that perpetuate dangerous myths by pretending to pose questions is not the way forward.”

Mr Ronson added: “We must address systematic racism.”

Biden eyes major shifts in US foreign policy, including restored Palestinian aid

Biden and his surrogates say they intend to act quickly on the following:

– Middle East: Restore assistance to the Palestinian Authority that the Trump administration has eliminated, as well as to agencies that support Palestinian refugees. Biden hasn’t said he will reverse Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or return the embassy to Tel Aviv.

– United Nations: Restore US membership in UN agencies such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and possibly the UN Human Rights Commission.

– Europe: Tone down rhetoric Trump has used to berate and insult European allies. Biden can be expected to try to warm relations among NATO partners.

– Africa: Try to raise America’s profile on the continent, which has become a new battleground for competition with China.

– Asia: Revert to a traditional US stance supporting the presence of American troops in Japan and South Korea. Biden has also criticized Trump’s personal relationship with Kim.

– Latin America: Cancel Trump administration agreements that sent asylum-seeking immigrants to Mexico and other countries while they await court dates and halt all new construction of the southern border wall. Biden also wants to restart Obama-era engagement with Cuba.

15 European countries formally complain about E1 building

Fifteen European countries have issued a formal diplomatic complaint to the Foreign Ministry over construction in the E1 area and Givat Hamatos.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the EU issued the demarche in a video conference, reiterating their “grave concerns” about the construction in the areas in and around Jerusalem.

“Settlements are illegal under International Humanitarian Law,” the French Embassy in Israel tweeted. “Any further settlement construction in this strategically sensitive area will have a devastating impact on a contiguous Palestinian State, as well as severely undermining the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with internationally agreed parameters.”

Givat Hamatos is in Jerusalem’s municipal lines on the southern end of the capital, adjacent to Gilo, Beit Safafa and Ramat Rachel, while E1 is to the east, between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.

Israel recently authorized the construction of over 1,000 housing units in Givat Hamatos, while plans to build thousands more homes in the neighborhood are at various stages of the authorization process.

Earlier last week, Peace Now claimed that Israel plans to promote 3,412 new homes in E1; the organization plans to file an objection to the plan, together with NGO Ir Amim.

Past plans to build in the E1 area have been brought up several times since former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin first advanced it, but were always frozen due to international pressure.

US House passes missile-defense budget for Israel valued at $500 mil.

US House of Representatives passed on Friday an aid package to Israel valued at $500 million designated for assistance to Israel in missile-defense, JNS reported.

The financial aid will mostly go towards the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missile defense systems.

$500,000,000 shall be for the Israeli Cooperative Programs…for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats…for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program… for co-production activities of Arrow 3 Upper Tier systems in the United States and in Israel,” the bill specified.

The funds allocated are part of the 2016 MOU between the countries, worth $38 billion over a decade.

Apart from the missile defense systems, out of the total budget, $47.5 million will be allocated towards anti-tunnel technology cooperation, $4 million for new US-Israel collaboration on coronavirus research and $6 million for joint US-Israel cooperative programs in energy and water, according to JNS.

The bill will next head to the Senate, where it is expected to be ammended.

White House blasts ‘appalling’ Twitter policy on Khamenei’s anti-Israel posts

The White House on Friday blasted Twitter for allowing tweets by Iran’s supreme leader calling for Israel’s destruction to be posted without censorship, with Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying the social media company’s police was “appalling.”

A Twitter official on Wednesday told the Israeli Knesset that such tweets by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei do not violate the company’s rules against hate speech, and indicated that they are considered mere “foreign policy saber-rattling.”

Asked about Twitter’s statement on the matter, McEnany drew a comparison between the company’s stance toward Iran and the position it has taken toward controversial tweets by US President Donald Trump, some of which which have recently received warning labels and other restrictions from the company for violating its rules.

“I thought it was very eye opening and it tells you where these social media companies stand, where they’re not willing to assess the Ayatollah Khomeini’s tweets but they are willing to assess President Trump’s tweets,” McEnany said.

“It’s really appalling and it just speaks to their overwhelming, blinding bias against conservatives and against this president,” she added.

McEnany noted that the administration was seeking to take action, submitting a petition to the Federal Communications Commission “to hold social media companies accountable for their censorship” by making them liable to “civil lawsuits for their own speech, fact checks and de-platforming.”

Gamzu: Time to consider easing restrictions on stores, schools, skies

Stores could be open next weekend, the skies by mid-August and schools on September 1, as Israel’s new coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu – or as he likes to be known, “director of the Shield of Israel program” – leads a new coronavirus decision-making process.

The Health Ministry announced Friday that Israel will soon have a uniform procedure for determining when and how to establish restrictions at places of work, cultural events and even synagogues. The plan will begin to be formulated by Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy and Gamzu, along with the relevant parties from the various government ministries, at the start of this week.

According to the Health Ministry, “round tables” will be convened and relevant parties will meet as often as three times a week to make decisions effectively and coherently about restrictions.

Among the discussions expected to happen this coming week: Opening schools and the skies. In an interview with N12’s Dana Weiss, Gamzu said that opening schools is a “complicated question,” but one that he plans to deeply investigate in the coming week with hopes that “we will have a decision by the end of the week.”

Last week, Gamzu said in a separate interview that he believed schools could open by September 1.

Also, he said there will be discussions about opening the skies by mid-August, at least for visitors from green states and maybe to travelers from additional locations, as well.

Expect a ‘lengthy’ coronavirus pandemic, WHO warns

The World Health Organization on Saturday warned the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.

The committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic,” the WHO said in a statement, and warned of the risk of “response fatigue” given the socio-economic pressures on countries.

The panel gathered Friday for the fourth time over the coronavirus crisis, half a year on from its January 30 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) — the WHO’s highest level of alarm.

“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” said its latest statement.

“The committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 680,000 people and infected at least 17.6 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

Unsurprisingly, the panel, comprising 18 members and 12 advisers, unanimously agreed that the pandemic still constituted a PHEIC.

Elections inch closer after budget not presented

The 2020 state budget will not be presented on Sunday, rendering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans for passing two one-year budgets nearly impossible to carry out and increasing the likelihood of another general election.

“The prime minister will not bring the budget for a vote tomorrow,” Finance Minister Israel Katz told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. “We are ready to present the budget. The prime minister will make a decision in the upcoming days.”

Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz has insisted on passing one two-year budget and preventing Netanyahu from using the failure to pass a budget to enable the initiation of an election in which Netanyahu would serve as caretaker prime minister.

Sources close to Gantz said on Saturday night that they were not surprised that Katz backed down from his promise to present a budget on Sunday, but did not rule out reaching a compromise to end the political impasse.

“We hope a solution will be found but to say we are optimistic would be an exaggeration,” a source close to Gantz said.

The deadline for completing the process of passing a budget into law is August 25, 100 days after the formation of the government. If neither a budget, nor a bill to extend the deadline is passed by then, an election in November would be initiated automatically, which would be Israel’s fourth election in under 19 months.

Police: ‘Israel is in a state of social chaos’

An undercover police officer was reportedly injured by a rock thrown at the group by the anti-Netanyahu protesters. Speaking to Jaffa Precint Commander, Chief Superintendent Yitzhak Cohen on N12, Sekler accused police of collaborating with the attackers, allegedly affiliated with the far-right La Familia group.

“The officers did not understand who is who when looking at the group fleeing the scene,” Cohen told Sekler. “A rock was thrown, and had it hit [the officer’s] head, the damage would have been more significant,” he added.

“The reason why that officer was injured was that he was walking within the attackers group, with them,” Sekler said, responding to Cohen. “I came up to the officers asking for help, and they refused.”

Three members of the group were arrested by law enforcement after being identified on video footage from the incident. They were subsequently freed from police custody following a court hearing, as the judge said it was unclear who started the fight.

Following the violent incident, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said violence between conflicting factions could lead to a civil war. “Violence against protesters could lead to civil war,” Gantz said in an interview with Channel 13 last week. “We must stop this hatred and incitement.”

Gantz continued, saying neither Netanyahu’s supporters nor those rallying against him “can engage in this hatred of the other,” adding that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin “was not assassinated because of hate on the Left.”

President Reuven Rivlin also warned of an escalation of political violence in Israel, saying the “murder of a demonstrator protesting in Israel nor that of an Israeli prime minister are not imaginary scenarios.”

In West Bank, Eid Sacrifices Plummet as Palestinian Virus Cases Soar

Slaughterhouses typically crowded with Palestinian Muslims buying sheep for the annual Eid al-Adha “feast of sacrifice” were nearly empty this week as coronavirus curbs weigh on the economy in the disputed West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has imposed a partial lockdown over areas under its control to battle a surge in new cases, forcing many businesses to close and sending unemployment to an estimated 18 percent.

“Who exactly can afford (sheep) to sacrifice?” livestock merchant Daoud Ebayat asked at a hillside market in Bethlehem. “People are unable to cover expenses for their children, there’s no work.”

Around 115,000 sheep and ten thousand calves were sold during Eid al-Adha in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem last year, according to ministry data.

But with many out of work, and public servants on reduced pay as the PA attempts to weather a financial crisis, local officials say sheep sales have plummeted.

“There will be a decrease, some are saying, of about 20% or more,” said Tareq Abu Laban, an official at the Palestinian agriculture ministry, noting that final figures were not yet available.

Iran says it arrested head of US-based ‘terror group’ behind 2008 Shiraz blast

Iran on Saturday said it had detained a leader of a little-known California-based opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry also alleged Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran planned other attacks around the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US over its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

It remains unclear how Sharmahd, whom Iran accused of running the opposition group’s Tondar militant wing, ended up detained by intelligence officials. Requests for comment sent by email to the Glendora-based Kingdom Assembly of Iran were not immediately answered and a telephone number for the group no longer worked.

Iranian state television broadcast a report on Sharmahd’s arrest, linking him to the 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. It also said his group was behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.

The report also alleged without providing evidence that Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, also plotted attacks on a dam and planned to use cyanide bombs at Tehran’s annual book fair.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran, known in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and Tondar seek to restore Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before its Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.

Seth Frantzman: Who is Jamshid Sharmahd and what is the alleged US terror group ‘Thunder’?

Tasnim revealed the same details put out by France24, including that the group was founded by someone whose whereabouts are unknown and that Sharmahd is a more recent leader. It also accused the group of planning to bomb a hotel in 2009 and trying secure chemical or biological weapons.

The Tasnim report also claims the group may have wanted to target a Russian consulate in Rasht and targeted tanks and oil facilities. It may be that Iran is tying the group to all these sites to not only create better relations with Russia but also pin the blame for recent explosions in Iran on this group.

Reuters notes that Sharmahd’s detention was not confirmed by the group and that the Thunder group called the reports an “abduction.” An attempt to find references to this group prior to Sharmahd’s detention, reveals only a few results in Persian media. It is mentioned in 2012 at Mehr news as one of many opposition groups that have carried out assassinations and attacks in Iran.

A 2011 post claims that there is a photo that was obtained that shows Iran’s far-right politician Mohsen Razaee meeting with the Thunder group. This far-fetched claim appears to want to link Razaee, now a key member of the Expediency Discernment Council, to the group.

Many questions remain about this operation. Did Iran abduct Sharmahd from a third country? Some have suggested that country could be Turkey or Iraq. How would Iran have done that during the COVID-19 crisis when people are not traveling internationally often? Reports say that Sharmahd had connections in Germany.

Iran has carried out operations in Europe in recent years, including attempted assassinations, but illegally kidnapping someone in Europe seems a bridge too far for Iran. There was an attempted assassination of an Iranian-Kurdish dissident in June in the Netherlands.

It appears Iran’s timing is an attempt to send a message to the US. This message is that the US backs “terrorism.” Iran has concentrated on an obscure group to spread this message. It often targets relatively small and obscure groups in such operations.

For instance, in September 2018 Iran fired missiles at a Kurdish group near Koya to show off its abilities, and then did the same targeting ISIS after an attack in Ahwaz. It tends to focus also on dissident groups in Europe, even if the groups are not involved in major dissident activities. Iran has shown in the past it is willing to use forced confessions, kidnappings and also timed “detentions” of activists to showcase its abilities and try to embarrass enemies. It frequently claims, for instance, to have discovered some US or “Zionist” plots. Whether this latest plot is more of the real variety or more propaganda from Tehran, using a scapegoat, is not fully clear.

UAE announces successful start up of first nuclear plant in Arab world

The United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced the startup of its Barakah nuclear power plant, a first for the Arab world.

“UAE first nuclear reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has achieved first criticality and successfully started up,” tweeted Hamad Alkaabi, the country’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to deliver a new form of clean energy for the nation,” he tweeted in English.

The UAE has been constructing four nuclear reactors at its Barakah power plant, the Arab world’s first nuclear power station.

The UAE premier and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, tweeted that work at Barakah had “succeeded in loading nuclear fuel packages, carrying out comprehensive tests and successfully completing the operation.”

“Congratulations on realizing this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the roadmap for sustainable development,” Al-Maktoum said.

The UAE started loading fuel rods into the reactor at Barakah in February, after regulators gave the green light for the first of the plant’s four reactors, opening the way for commercial operations.

Trump Asks Iran to Dispose of Its Nuclear Stockpile by Dumping It on Portland (satire)

US President Donald Trump has requested that the Iranian government dumps their enriched uranium stockpile on Portland. The move comes after weeks of unrest led to federal law enforcement agents storming the Pacific Northwest city.

“I found a solution. A great solution. The best solution,” said Trump in a 6,000-person rally which included 5,950 people above state restrictions. “Iran has nuclear weapons; they can’t keep them so what do you do? You have to get rid of them. And where do you do that? Well you can either drop it on people who follow the law or people who don’t. ‘Outlaws’ is the term I came up with for them.”

Trump’s move prompted widespread anger from Democrats who claimed that they would not approve Trump’s decision unless it was more secretly hidden in the Pentagon budget. Attorney General Bill Barr assured Americans that the move would be constitutional. “The constitution clearly states that Americans have a right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ and this falls under the President’s happiness.” It is worth mentioning that Barr was in fact quoting the Declaration of Independence and not the constitution.

“We just want this all to end,” said Portland mayor Andy Wheeler. “Portlanders just want to go back to doing what Portlanders do best: telling people from other cities that Portland is better.”

Turkey’s Brain Drain: Why Youths See No Future There

SODEV, another pollster, found that 60.5% of youths supporting Erdogan said they would prefer to live in Christian Switzerland with half the salary they would have earned in Muslim Saudi Arabia.

“These kind of social engineering efforts targeting the younger mind almost always end up with opposite results, primarily because the new generation do not like to be told what’s good and what’s bad for them. Freedoms for most youth are more important than prayers. This is what conservative politicians often miss.” — Turkish university professor who asked not to be named.

In just the first 65 days of the COVID-19 pandemic, 510 Turks were arrested for “spreading baseless and provocative messages in social media.” Before that, by the end of 2019, Turkey had banned access to 408,494 web sites, 7,000 Twitter accounts, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook accounts.

Erdogan might sit down and ask himself: Why do the youths whom he wanted to make “devout” want to flee their Muslim country and live in “infidel” lands?

Turkish brig.-gen. executed for revealing Qatari funding of jihadists

A Turkish colonel, who worked for the country’s Special Forces Command intelligence division (OKK), testified in a court proceeding that the former head of the OKK issued an assassination order against one of the organizers of the 2016 coup because he reportedly had knowledge of illicit Qatari funding of jihadi groups in the Syrian civil war, according to a Friday report on the website of Nordic Monitor.
“[Brigadier General Semih Terzi] knew how much of the funding delivered [to Turkey] by Qatar for the purpose of purchasing weapons and ammunition for the opposition was actually used for that and how much of it was used by public officials, and how much was embezzled,” Col. Firat Alakus said.

Terzi was reported in 2016 to have been one of the organizers behind the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Nordic Monitor added that Alakus said the Qatari case was not the only example of how financial graft unfolded after monetary transfers to Turkey for use in the Syrian civial war.

According to the Sweden-based news outlet, Alakus testified at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court on March 20, 2019.

“Now, Semih Terzi was targeted because of his intimate knowledge of affairs relating to Syria, Your Honor. What is this information? If you want, I can expand on it, some of which is critical,” Alakus said at the court hearing.

Terzi “was aware of which public officials were assisting in arms smuggling to Syria and for what purpose,” noted Alakus.

“[Terzi’s murder] had to do with a trap devised by Zekai Aksakallı, who did not want such facts to come out into the open,” he continued.

Malaysians start to reject traditionally virulent anti-Semitism, scholar says

Malaysia is often seen as one of the world’s most anti-Semitic countries.

Up until recently, it had a prime minister who described himself as a proud anti-Semite. A survey by the Anti-Defamation League has found it harbors one of the highest rates of anti-Jewish sentiment in the region, if not the globe.

But a researcher who analyzed the Malaysian people’s sentiments towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel and has just written a book about the issue sees encouraging signs of change.

“We should not mistake loud noises for big noises. Anti-Semitism is part of a ‘backlash’ against the breakdown of social control — it is ugly and it is loud, but it is a backlash against wider social changes that are a force for good,” said Mary Ainslie, of the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China, in an interview last week.

“Perhaps these views are becoming stronger amongst those who hold them, but I do not believe they are increasing among the general population. Instead, the opposite is true.”

The Southeast Asian country, whose official religion is Islam though roughly 40 percent of the population belongs to other faiths, certainly hosts the most virulent forms of Jew-hatred outside the Middle East. According to the ADL, 61 percent of its inhabitants harbor anti-Semitic sentiments, which is significantly higher than neighboring Singapore (16%) and Thailand (13%) and even Muslim-majority Indonesia (48%).

Mahathir Mohamad, who served as the country’s prime minister until March — he still sits in parliament and is planning to return to power soon — notoriously said he was glad to be called anti-Semitic.

Cleveland Police Search for Antisemitic Vandal After Jewish-Owned Stores Targeted

Police in Cleveland, Ohio, have released a photo of a man they say is wanted in connection with spray‐painting of antisemitic slogans and grotesque images on several Jewish-owned businesses this week.

The photo shows a white man whose features are obscured by dark glasses, a baseball cap and a surgical mask. Police said the suspect was approximately 6 feet tall and in his early‐to‐mid 20s.

The man is wanted for two separate incidents, local media reported. On July 21, Heinen’s and CVS stores were targeted with offensive messaging. Then, on July 25 and the morning of the July 26, several Jewish-owned businesses were defaced with antisemitic language and symbols.

Lt. Todd Kinley of the police department in Cleveland’s University Heights neighborhood told reporters that the vandal could face hate crimes charges.

“That will be up to our prosecutors to ultimately decide what charges, if any, to file against somebody should we develop a good suspect. But it’s certainly on the table,” he said.

An eyewitness who reported the graffiti to the police described the words and images left by the vandal as deeply disturbing.

Michael Levine said that large phallic symbols, the number 666, curse words and other bizarre images and phrases were visible up and down the outer brick walls of two of the buildings targeted — Mika’s Wig Boutique and the Waxman Torah Center.

“There was some writing on the other side of the Torah Center and on Mika’s — it was a full wall,” said Levine. “It had to take them a while, at least a half hour.”

Virtual Tisha B’Av Service Hosted by Dallas Synagogues Disrupted by Antisemitic Messages

Synagogues in Dallas, Texas, had their joint virtual prayer service hijacked on Thursday morning by an antisemite who shared threatening messages targeting Jews and Israel.

A number of local Orthodox synagogues and rabbis gathered for morning prayers on Zoom with over 100 participants when at around 10:30 a.m. someone infiltrated the service and published messages on the screen that included “Kill all Jews,” “Bomb Israel,” “Free Palestine” and “Hail Hitler.” The swastika symbol was also displayed, as well as “F–k Judaism” and other remarks with expletives targeting Hinduism and African Americans, Rabbi Ariel Racovsky from Congregation Shaare Tefilla, one of the synagogues that participated in the prayer service, told The Algemeiner.

A video of the “Zoom-bombing” was posted on Instagram by one of Shaare Tefilla’s congregants, social media influencer and activist Elizabeth Savetsky. According to the clip, the messages were shared by a user who went by the name Andrew Rodriguez.

The incident took place on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which Jews fast to commemorate a number of disasters in history, primarily the historic destruction of both temples in ancient Jerusalem.

The hate messages appeared for just a few minutes before the account hosting the Zoom call managed to remove the hijacker and shut down the conference, Rabbi Racovsky explained. The congregations then began a second Zoom conference, which attracted more participants than the first call.

Rabbi Racovsky said the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were notified about the messages, which constituted a federal hate crime.

Uzbekistan Jews fight to save 124-year-old synagogue from demolition

A construction firm in Uzbekistan is attempting to have a 124-year-old synagogue demolished to make way for a luxury apartment complex, according to a Russian-Jewish publication.

Absolute Business Trade, a company based in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, earlier this year sued the Jewish Ashkenazi Community of Tashkent, claiming they are illegally occupying an “apartment” in a complex purchased by Golden House, the Russian-Jewish weekly L’Chaim reported on Wednesday.

According to L’Chaim, the apartment in question is home to the First Ashkenazi Synagogue of Tashkent, which is reportedly holding up a plan to build a luxury apartment block on the site.

Orient Group, the parent company of both ABI and Golden House, has offered to build the community another synagogue, but the community has turned that offer down. The next court hearing is scheduled for August 5.

Former Tashkent Mayor Rakhmonbek Usmanov promised that the synagogue would not be evicted. But he has since left that position to head the Uzbek Agency for Road Transport. A successor has not yet been appointed.

At least three fires have occurred outside the synagogue since 2018 in what local Jews say is an attempt at intimidation, the report said.

Five TV shows that got Holocaust humor just right

There is an old Yiddish folk saying, “If your heart aches, laugh it off.” For many, this pro-tip especially applies to the Holocaust.

When it comes to humor surrounding the topic of the Holocaust, it is critical to remind ourselves that we are not laughing at the severity and devastation of the Holocaust. Rather, as proposed by scholar Terence Des Pres, “[Holocaust] laughter is used to dispel and to embrace, a kind of comic ambiguity that diffuses hostility, on the one hand, and on the other prompts charity toward those who suffered, those who remember, and also those who might simply wish to know.”

Considering the intellectual, educational, creative, and cathartic facets of comedy, it is understandable, even inevitable, that Holocaust humor has become integrated into popular culture. Of course, joking about the Holocaust has the potential to go very, very wrong. But when such jokes are skillfully and mindfully crafted, they serve as a mode of memory transmission with the ability to challenge, enrich, and preserve history.

Don’t believe me? The Holocaust-centered skits, characterizations, and narrative arcs exhibited in these five TV shows explore new ways for Jews — and everyone in our entertainment-focused society — to understand, cope, and heal.

New ‘kosher’ streaming service lets viewers skip immodest bits

Israelis who don’t want to see racy content have a new streaming service that allows them to skip the immodest parts.

The Tov TV service, dubbed the “kosher Netflix” by the Israeli daily Haaretz, is geared toward observant Jews who follow the religious laws of modesty.

Women pre-screen films and television series to identify the problematic content, according to the newspaper report.

Viewers can choose their level of censorship, from a warning text that pops up during a scene, allowing the viewer to press a button and skip that part, to shows in which some content is previously erased. Some shows are taboo, including “Game of Thrones,” according to Haaretz.

The service, which has been two years in the making, is the brainchild of Israeli businessman Israel Zeira, who supports the national religious Jewish Home party. Zeira has already invested over $1 million in the project, according to Haaretz.

Tov TV believes its target audience includes about 400,000 Israeli households, according to the report.

Bedouin village tests new solar-powered wastewater treatment system

Up to 70 percent of the wastewater in the world is untreated. That’s a problem, both for the communities without sewer systems and for neighboring communities that suffer from contaminated groundwater leaking from cesspits.

Villagers in Umm Batin, a Bedouin village in Israel’s Negev desert, don’t want to dump their dirty water into the ground. But they’re lacking the millions of shekels it would cost to build a modern sewer system.

Clive Lipchin from Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies has developed a portable, cost-effective solution: a solar-powered, self-operating wastewater mini treatment plant that doesn’t need to be connected to the national sewer system.

In Lipchin’s system, the wastewater flows from household toilets, kitchens and sinks into a septic tank from where it is pumped into a series of treatment containers. Inside those containers, bacteria, fungi and algae remove the contaminants. The resulting treated water is not fit for drinking but can be used safely for agriculture.

Israel has long been a leader in processing wastewater for agricultural uses.

“It goes back to the 1970s and sends a strong message to the world that wastewater has value and should not be just disposed of,” Lipchin tells ISRAEL21c. “It can be treated and re-used as a way to offset water scarcity and to become less reliant on fresh water. That’s becoming even more important given the unpredictability of climate change.”

Raw sewage kills

Small Bedouin villages – as well as those in the Palestinian Authority territories – have not benefited from Israel’s wastewater expertise.

Lipchin hopes his invention will change that – first locally and then for the world. The need is great; raw sewage is estimated to kill 1.7 million people a year, almost half of them children.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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