August 14, 2020

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08/06 Links Pt2: Did PayPal shut BDS South Africa account after PFLP terrorist meeting?; UN Workers Under Investigation For Allegedly Stealing Humanitarian Aid

From Ian:

Did PayPal shut BDS South Africa account after PFLP terrorist meeting?
Muhammed Desai, the director of one the world’s leading Boycott, Divest and Sanctions organizations, has found his group embroiled in a new Palestinian terrorism scandal after BDS South Africa last week tweeted a picture of Desai shaking hands with member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The US and the EU have both classified the PFLP a terrorist entity.

At the same time, The Jerusalem Post learned on Monday that BDS South Africa’s PayPal account is now not accepting donations. It is unclear if the online payment service PayPal closed the account due to BDS South Africa’s support and financing of a terrorist organization.

When the Post clicked on the electronic donation section of BDS South Africa, the entry by PayPal stated: “Things don’t appear to be working at the moment. Please try again later.” Post media queries to PayPal on Monday were not returned.

The now-deleted BDS South Africa tweet read: “A representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) with BDS South Africa’s Muhammed Desai. The PFLP works closely with BDS SA in the global campaign against Apartheid Israel.”

The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor retained a screenshot of the tweet.

UN Workers Under Investigation For Allegedly Lining Their Own Pockets With Humanitarian Aid

More than a dozen United Nations workers in Yemen are under investigation for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars of humanitarian aid in the war-torn nation, according to a Monday Associated Press report.

The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an internal investigation, drawing attention to unqualified people being paid excessively, the use of personal bank accounts for donated funds, suspicious contracts and the disappearance of essentials like food and medicine. UNICEF, another U.N. organization, is alleging one of their own may have protected a rebel leader, according to the AP report citing information from eight anonymous aid workers.

Houthi rebels from northern Yemen allegedly seized laptops and evidence from U.N. officials in 2018 as they were about to depart the country from an airport, according to six former and current aid officials.

Yemen is currently the poorest nation in the Middle East with one of the worst humanitarian conflicts in the world, a World Bank report details.

Chief of the U.N.’s Sanaa Office, Italian Nevio Zagaria, was alleged to have misappropriated U.N. finances, jumpstarting a reported probe in November. Six U.N. current and former employees. who requested anonymity, affirmed his tenure was “riddled with corruption and nepotism,” according to AP.

Zagaria reportedly brought in junior staffers and promoted them to extremely lucrative roles for which they were not qualified. It’s also alleged that two highly paid senior staffers were tasked with the sole responsibility of taking care of Zagaria’s dog.

Who Owns Israel’s History?

In May of this year the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the first draft of Israel’s declaration of independence belonged to the nation and not to the family of the man who wrote it. (The family was trying to sell the draft, having fallen on hard times.) That would perhaps seem obvious, but less obvious—indeed, mostly forgotten—is the story of that man, Mordechai Beham, and his work.

In April 1948, Beham, a lawyer then just thirty-one years old, was given the task of drafting a declaration of independence for the state not yet born. (Under the massive weight of the job, he at one point burst into tears at the dining table.) Yaacov Lozowick, formerly Israel’s state archivist, has the tale:

At some point, the young attorney started jotting down notes. First, a page of quotations from famous documents, such as, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. . . . ” And also, “Behold, I have set the land before you, go in and possess the land the Lord swore unto your fathers” (Deuteronomy 1:8). Having written down four or five quotations, all in English, he then took another sheet of paper and wrote a first outline of a “Declaration of a Jewish State,” still in English. On a third sheet of paper, he then translated what he had written into Hebrew.

On Sunday, April 25, Beham showed his draft to [his boss]. They made numerous editorial corrections. Two days later there was a typed version, thanks to Mrs. Levy, the office secretary. Beham then wrote out a one-page description of what they were trying to do. By the time the draft moved on to other potential authors, he had authored a total of five sheets of paper.

Over the next three weeks, Beham’s draft was reworked over and over by dozens of people; the task was brought to an end about an hour before the final version was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion on May 14.

Beham’s involvement went unremembered until the late 1990s, when a law professor named Yoram Schachar went looking for the roots of the declaration. He “uncovered Beham’s role and went to visit his widow; it turned out that she still had the papers in a box.” Schachar then compared the final draft with the first:

Although next to none of Beham’s original words made their way all the way through the process into the final text, its structure did. Beham had decided the declaration should have two segments, one presenting the history of the Jews, the second building upon it to proclaim future intents. Everyone who came after him worked within that structure. (h/t IsaacStorm)

Post-Mass Shootings, Tlaib Labels Palestinians ‘Activists’ and Israel ‘White Nationalist’

In the aftermath of the Saturday shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) took issue on Monday with CNN host Jake Tapper in that Palestinian rhetoric is similar to US President Donald Trump’s when it comes to intolerance of the other.

Tlaib argued that Palestinians are not responsible for terrorism or vitriol, even as she has lambasted the president’s use of words and called Israel a white-supremacist nation.

“Comparing Palestinian human rights advocates to terrorist white nationalists is fundamentally a lie. Palestinians want equality, human dignity & to stop the imprisonment of children,” she tweeted. “White supremacy is calling for the *domination* of one race w/ the use of violence.”

Tlaib’s comments were in response to Tapper saying on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday program that “either tone matters or it doesn’t.”

“You hear conservatives all the time rightly so, in my opinion, talk about the tone set by people in the Arab world. Palestinian leaders talking about … and the way they talk about Israelis, justifying in the same way you’re doing,” he said. “No direct link necessarily between what the leader says and the violence against some poor Israeli girl in a pizzeria,” apparently a reference to the 2001 bombing at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, where 15 civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed.

“But the idea that you’re validating this hatred and yet … you can’t compare the ideology of Hamas with anything else,” continued Tapper. “But at the same time, either tone matters or it doesn’t.”

Toni Morrison, who accused Israel of ‘liquidation of the Palestinian nation,’ dies at 88

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison died on Monday at the age of 88, announced the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, adding that the cause was complications from pneumonia.

One of America’s greatest novelists, her 1987 book Beloved won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, five years before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—the first black female to win the honor.

She was awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by U.S. President Barack Obama.

However, Morrison infamously was one of 18 writers to sign on to a 2006 letter denouncing both Israel’s right to self-defense and the outrage over Hamas having kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released five years later as part of a prisoner exchange.

The letter stated that Shalit’s “ ‘kidnapping’ was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources—most particularly, that of water—by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.”

Many consider all of Israel to be occupied, while Israel’s defenders note that the West Bank is disputed territory, and that the Palestinian areas are under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, led by its leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has been known for his flagrant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, and the P.A. itself has been documented for incitement against Jews and ongoing corruption.

“Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over,” added the letter. “But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.”

Corbyn turns Labour members against Israel and Jews

Researcher David Collier has published a 200-page report which has been passed on to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) presenting the case that Jeremy Corbyn “radicalized” Labour Party members into becoming “obsessed” with Israel and the Jewish people, it was reported in the Jewish Chronicle.

Collier’s research is part of the EHRC’s investigation into whether the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic. In the past, he has investigated other suspected cases of antisemitism, particularly online. For instance, the Palestine Live Facebook group, which Corbyn was a member of, was found by him to be antisemitic.

Before Corbyn came into office, members said little or were indifferent. But after he become leader, members chose to “dip their toes in anti-Israel ideology,” which continued into them bashing Israel – especially online.

Collier showed through 14 studies how Labour members have been attacked Israel and the Jewish people.

The research demonstrated that after Corbyn took power in September 2015, members joined pro-Corbyn Facebook groups.

They also started posting on social media inaccurate and unfair claims against Israel – clearly becoming “obsessed” with the Jewish state. He found that members criticized the media for being “pro-Zionist”; posted antisemitic conspiracy theories, articles and images; supported Corbyn’s anti-Zionist and anti-Israel views; and voiced “outright hostility toward mainstream British Jewry.”

One example used by Collier was of a woman who had become far more aggressive in her social media activity against Israel. She posted a link of a video by David Icke on “Rothschild Zionism,” with the teaser on Facebook: “Bloody hell I agree with David Icke.” She also shared a link predicting “Israel’s next false flag.”

Labour branch secretary suspended over Hezbollah ‘love’ poem

The former secretary of Stroud Green Labour has been suspended within weeks of being elected after a poem expressing “love” for Hezbollah was exposed.

Huseyin Abudharr Ali, who was elected by 36 votes to 7 last month, has been suspended from the party and his role after online posts were uncovered, it is understood.

A review of Ali’s blog found a number of antisemitic references and a photograph of Ali standing next to a man holding up an Hezbollah flag.

It is believed the photograph was taken before Hezbollah was proscribed in its entirety earlier this year.

Ali, who described Jeremy Corbyn as an “anti-Imperialist and anti-racist” in 2017, is the secretary of the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Haringey Justice for Palestinians.

Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust, described the material as “highly offensive”, adding that “it should have no place in Labour Party politics.”

A poem titled “I’m a Muslim” published on his website in 2014 states: “I’m not a Sunni although I love Abu Bakr & Umar / And I’m not a Shia although I love Hezbollah.”

JPost Editorial: Thank you

Sometimes, a photo really is worth a thousand words… especially if it’s an Instagram post of Jennifer Lopez looking fabulous against the backdrop of the Tel Aviv coastline.

The global icon, known universally as J.Lo, and her almost equally well-known and similarly nicknamed beau, future baseball hall of famer Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) made the most of their few days in Israel last week.

Before and after her much-heralded Las Vegas-style performance for 57,000 fans at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, J.Lo was spotted and captured on camera enjoying Tel Aviv nightspots, Jerusalem eateries, the bustling beach scene and the holy sites of the capital.

After the concert, she posted a video and wrote: “Amazing energy in Tel Aviv last night!! Over 50,000 strong!!! I love you so much.”

Like an Israel PR wild dream, the power couple posted photos of themselves with their children riding camels, praying at the Kotel and visiting the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Daniel Shapiro: The House gets it right on BDS

It’s August, which means bipartisan delegations of US congressmen are descending on Israel.

This year, they do so with the House of Representatives having just passed an important resolution, H.Res. 246, declaring opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to target Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. The measure passed by an overwhelming vote of 398-17.

That’s good news. It provides clarity about congressional views on BDS, with a clear bipartisan consensus in opposition to a movement that the resolution accurately states is “not about promoting coexistence, civil rights and political reconciliation but about questioning and undermining the very legitimacy of [Israel] and its people.”

Nevertheless, an odd debate ensued following passage of the resolution. Some called it weak, preliminary or meaningless. Others said it was unnecessary, overly harsh and even unconstitutional.

In fact, it was just right.

On the Right, there are those who favor outlawing BDS altogether and argued the House did not go far enough. But H.Res. 246 was a welcome contrast to other proposals, including the one the Senate advanced earlier this year. In February, the Senate passed S.1, which would encourage States to use their own purchasing power to punish those who engage in boycotts of Israel. It passed by a vote of 77-23, splitting the Democratic caucus down the middle.

‘Anti-Jewish bias’ in proposed California school curriculum, legislators charge

The Jewish Caucus offered similar criticism, saying the section on BDS presents “a single viewpoint on an extraordinarily complex international political dispute” and “singles out Israel — the world’s only Jewish state — for special critique and condemnation that is both out of context and factually inaccurate.”

“It would be a cruel irony if a curriculum meant to help alleviate prejudice and bigotry were to instead marginalize Jewish students and fuel hatred and discrimination against the Jewish community,” the letter concludes.

The caucus also said the curriculum ignores the Jewish contributions to California and anti-Semitism, saying it “effectively erases the American Jewish experience.” The omission, they note, is “indicative of an anti-Jewish bias.”

The letter also noted that when the curriculum does acknowledge Jews it does so in a “derogatory and discriminatory manner.” The curriculum’s Arab American Studies Course, for example, quotes a lyric by a British Palestinian rapper named Shadia Mansour, reading “For every free political prisoner, an Israeli colony is expanded / For each greeting, a thousand houses were demolished / They use the press so they can manufacture, but when my sentence is judged, reality presents itself.”

The curriculum does not offer an Israeli Jewish perspective on the Middle East conflict, the caucus notes, and the rapper’s phrase “use the press so they can manufacture” is “a classic antisemitic trope abut Jewish control and the media.”

The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, a coalition of community relations councils, has also communicated its concerns to the education department, the Jewish News Syndicate reported.

“We have concerns that include the curriculum’s omission both of Jews as an ethnic group and of anti-Semitism as a concept. The curriculum should reflect the true diversity of California’s population,” Jeremy Russell, spokesman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, told JNS.

Other Jewish groups both in and outside of California expressing concerns about the proposed curriculum include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee and Camera, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis. (h/t IsaacStorm)

The Israel Project Shutters Its Offices After Nearly Two Decades

The non-partisan educational group The Israel Project (TIP) closed its office in Israel last week and is expected to do the same in Washington.

Started in 2002, the pro-Israel organization saw a massive decline in donations in recent years—from $8,696,052 in 2015 to $4,922,854 in 2016. Last month, its CEO and President, Josh Block, resigned.

In a Facebook post, Lior Weintraub, former head of the project’s Israel office, said the reason for declining support for the organization is its non-partisan stance.

He wrote, “In the last two-and-a-half years when the polarization in America reached new highs, we safeguarded our apolitical bipartisan middle line with all the strength possible and no compromises because we knew it was the right way to serve Israel and it was the way to serve Israel-US relations.”

“There were no buyers for anything in the middle in 2019, and TIP as a middle organization was the first victim of polarization in the pro-Israeli system in America, and to a large extent this is fine; there are goals for which is worth getting hurt in the long run.”

Hamas Just Violated Twitter’s Rules. Now What?

I recently received an intriguing notification from Twitter about a number of accounts that I had reported to the platform for antisemitic hate speech and other wrongdoings.

The message listed the handles that Twitter found in violation of its policies. Among them was @HamasInfoEn, which carried the name “Hamas Movement.”

That’s right. Hamas Movement — aka Hamas. The terrorist group that threatens Israel on a regular basis. The account calls itself an “official account.”

The Twitter notification sent to me points out that the group violated its “rules against hateful conduct.” Given that Hamas has directed thousands of Palestinians to riot on the Israeli border, murdered many innocent Israeli civilians, and launched innumerable rockets toward the Jewish state, “hateful conduct” may be the least of its offenses.

But Twitter’s finding brings up some major questions: Does this mean the platform will suspend and/or deactivate the @HamasInfoEn account — and why, for that matter, is Hamas allowed to have a Twitter account in the first place?

BBC WS food programme: inaccurate, lacks context and promotes Hamas propaganda

She later went on to claim that “food is limited” in the Gaza Strip.

Thomas: “Do you think that food and enjoyment of food and the sharing of food become more important when you’re living in the middle of a political situation like this and when food is limited?”

In her closing remarks (25:42) Thomas referred to “inhumane situations” despite the fact that no context to the measures imposed on the Gaza Strip in order to combat inhumane terrorism had been provided.

Thomas: “To me their story of food behind siege lines, like the others we’ve heard, shows not just people’s resilience but also the power of food to comfort and prove our humanity when we’re placed in the most inhumane situations.”

So why did the BBC World Service mislead its audiences by inaccurately framing the Gaza Strip as being ‘under siege’ in accordance with Hamas talking points and misinform them with regard to the background to the chronic problems with water and electricity supplies?

At the end of the interview with Wada Younis, listeners heard that it was set up by the BBC’s Gaza Strip office.

Thomas: “Many thanks to our colleague in Gaza Jihad Masharawi for arranging that interview.”

This is of course far from the first time the employees at the BBC’s Gaza office have amplified Hamas propaganda and neither is it the first time that Masharawi has been involved in producing BBC content that promotes the false notion that the Gaza Strip is ‘under siege’ by Israel.

How the BBC can possibly claim that this item meets editorial guidelines on either accuracy or impartiality is unclear.

UKMW prompts ITV News correction to article on Israeli security fence

On July 18th, we posted about a lengthy backgrounder on Israel’s security barrier published on the ITV News website, titled “It’s been 15 years since Israel’s West Bank wall was declared illegal, so here are 15 key moments since 2004”, which failed to include any information on Israel’s motivation for building the barrier.

As we argued at the time, their failure to even allude to the fact that it was built in response to waves of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings in the early 2000s represented an egregious example of anti-Israel bias, even by British media standards.

We complained about the omission to ITV News, encouraged our followers to do the same, and directly tweeted their international editor – all of which eventually resulted in the addition of the following new sentence to the article.

The Israeli government said the barrier was a defensive measure and needed to stop potential suicide bombers from reaching Israel.

Two Antisemitic Assaults Occur in Canada in Less Than a Week, This One on Shabbat

Two unidentified kipah-wearing Jewish boys were assaulted in Toronto on Saturday (Shabbat) in what appeared to be an antisemitic attack.

The minors were walking in the suburb of Thornhill, Ontario, as they were approached by an unidentified young person who verbally harassed them, followed by punching one of them in the face. The suspect followed them as they sought to leave the scene.

“This is an extremely serious incident, and we trust that law enforcement will give it the attention that it deserves,” said B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn in a statement. “It is inconceivable that Jewish families will be afraid to send their children to the park, in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, on the Jewish Sabbath.”

Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

The incident occurred less than a week after a similar one in Montreal, where a taxi driver assaulted a kipah-wearing Jewish male who was waiting for the taxi to move from blocking the entrance of a building’s underground garage. The driver yelled, “I won’t move for any f***ing Jews.”

Man shoves baby’s stroller in England, calls parents ‘dirty Jews’

A Jewish family from the United Kingdom complained to police about a young man who was filmed hurling an object in their direction and calling them “dirty Jews” in a city near London after shoving their baby stroller.

The incident Sunday, which police are treating as a hate crime, escalated after the man pushed aside the family’s baby stroller while an infant was inside it, The Independent reported Monday. The parents, who were sitting at a café in St Albans, protested, prompting the man to call them “dirty Jews.”

When the man saw a passerby filming the exchange with a cellular phone, he tried knocking the device from that person’s hand. Then he kicked an advertising board in the family’s direction and walked away.

Last month, a British Jewish community watchdog said that a record number of nearly 900 anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in the United Kingdom for the first six months of 2019.

Dutch paper slammed for interview with author who suggested Jews have ugly noses

Belgian Jews accused a Dutch daily of “whitewashing anti-Semitism” after it published an interview with an author who last week said Jews steal land and have ugly noses.

On Friday the NRC Handelsblad daily published a 3,500-word interview with author Dimitri Verhulst that did not address Verhulst’s statements about Jews in a July 27 op-ed in another paper. Belgian and Dutch Jews called the op-ed anti-Semitic.

Hans Knoop, a spokesperson for the Forum of Jewish Organizations of the Belgium’s Flemish Region, asked NRC Monday to take down the interview or address the controversy.

But NRC sees “no reason” to delete the interview, deputy editor Marcella Breedeveld to Skoops in an email.

Knoops’ group last week complained to police that Verhulst had committed incitement in his July 27 op-ed in the Belgian De Morgen paper.

In the op-ed titled “There is no promised land, only stolen land,” Verhulst misquotes a self-deprecating joke by the late French Jewish singer Serge Gainsbourg. Verhulst quotes the singer as saying: “Being Jewish is not a religion, no God would give creatures such an ugly nose.” The quote attributed to Gainsbourg speaks neither of God nor ugliness, reading: “Being Jewish is not a religion. No religion makes you grow such a nose.”

74 years since liberation, a visit to Theresienstadt finds an eerie ghost town

Brandeis University senior Elan Kawesch had the oddest feeling while leading a group of college students around the former ghetto-concentration camp Theresienstadt, where 140,000 Jews were imprisoned during the Holocaust. “It felt like we were walking around some random Czech town, rather than a site of Nazi persecution,” said 23-year-old Kawesch.

Although most of the victims were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps, some 33,000 Jews perished on-site from starvation, exhaustion, and epidemics.

Better known than these statistics, the SS used scenic Terezin — which they renamed Theresienstadt — to deceive International Red Cross officials during an “inspection” of the ghetto 75 years ago. The deception was so successful that similar propaganda tours were staged until the last month of the war.

Through my day job at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, this reporter joined Kawesch and the students in Prague for five days of what we call Holocaust memory service-learning. Whether in Berlin, Warsaw, or Amsterdam, students explore prewar Jewish life and examine what took place during the war. Back home, they volunteer with local survivors.

Kawesch’s interest in the Holocaust intensified two years ago, when he learned some of his relatives were murdered at the Nazi death camp Belzec. Since then, we have taken students to sites of Nazi persecution in four countries, including former death camps, transit camps, and ghettos.

Austrian authorities invite submissions by architects over future of Hitler birth house

Austrian authorities got the green light and have asked architects to submit plans for a building that would replace the former home where Adolf Hitler was born, Austrian media reported on Tuesday.

On Monday, Austria’s highest court put an end to a row over the house where Adolf Hitler was born, rejecting the amount the former owner had demanded to be compensated in return.

The government took control of the dilapidated building in December 2016 after years of legal wrangling with the family who owned the yellow corner house in the northern town of Braunau am Inn, not far from the border with Germany, for nearly a century.

Austrian authorities have been keen to prevent the premises, where Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

Although he spent only a short time at the property, it continues to draw Nazi sympathizers from around the world.

Israeli NGO to advise UN on integrating people with disabilities

The United Nations Economic and Social Council has announced that ILAN – The Israel Association for Children With Disabilities will serve as a special adviser to the UN on the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and their integration into society.

Noting the “important and extraordinary international recognition” in the organization’s selection for the role, ILAN Chairman Ehud Rassabi said, “This is an opportunity to improve and promote the rights of people with disabilities around the world.”

Founded in 1952 by a group of parents to children with polio, the ILAN organization works to improve the quality of life of children and adults with physical disabilities by providing them with the necessary services and treatments from birth, while also promoting their integration into society and the realization of their full potential, with the goal of their achieving maximum independence.

ILAN has 38 branches around Israel, some 30 of which include day centers, rehabilitation centers, sports centers, as well as residential programs for both children and adults with physical disabilities. In 2010, the organization was honored with the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the state for its work.

Crashed Israeli lander may have seeded moon with ‘water bears’

When the Beresheet lunar lander crashed on the moon in April, Israel may have become the first country to successfully colonize an extraterrestrial body… sort of.

According to a Monday report in Wired, the spacecraft was carrying a micro-archive the size of an optical disc containing DNA samples, millions of pages of data and thousands of dehydrated tardigrades — microscopic animals known popularly as water bears.

The archive was the brainchild of American venture capitalist Nova Spivack’s Arch Mission Foundation, whose mission is to create what it calls “a backup of planet Earth.” The tardigrades, which were added at the last minute, are incredibly hardy creatures and have been known to survive being dehydrated for years. They can be found all over Earth and have even survived the vacuum of space.

Beresheet crashed into the moon’s surface during its attempt to land there earlier this year, dashing the hopes of hundreds of engineers who had worked on the project for years.

Morocco puts Jewish heritage on tourism map

Morocco appears to be following Poland in making itself a magnet for Jewish tourism. But its bold efforts to restore and preserve Jewish heritage is creating pride among Moroccans themselves. Jacob Judah reports in Haaretz (with thanks: Imre):

In 2011, Morocco’s new constitution recognized “Hebraic influences” as having enriched and nourished Moroccan identity.

“What the state did is take the conservation of Jewish heritage, and make it more visible,” says anthropologist Boum. In this respect, Morocco is an exception in the Arab world, he notes, calling the decision, “a courageous act.”

Some suggest that the government’s support of Jewish projects is part of an attempt to project an international image of Morocco and its monarchy as open, tolerant and modern.

The preservation projects figure prominently in documents produced and disseminated by Moroccan lobby groups in the United States.

In private, some in the tiny Jewish community express concern about these developments. Most of the country’s approximately 2,500 Jews are concentrated in Casablanca. In 2003, terrorists targeted Jewish sites in the city. Some Moroccan Jews worry that the increasingly high profile of the community will attract unwanted attention.

Israeli robotics team wins first place in China

The robotics team of the Tichonet high school of Tel Aviv returned to Israel on Monday from China after winning first place in an international robotics competition, beating teams from countries around the world.

Arutz Sheva spoke with the team’s mentor, Raanan De Haas who said the structure of the competition in China dictated that after the preliminary stage, every four teams converged into one team that competed from the quarter-finals to the final itself. The Israeli team joined the New York, China and Hawaii teams and achieved first place.

“Every year there is a new mission, a new challenge to build a robot. This year, the goal was to target discs in different places on the field,” De Haas said, adding that each robot had to protect its own discs as well as attack the discs of the other robots. “For us, the defense was better than the attack,” De Haas admitted.

“We learned a lot from the Chinese groups and part of our job was to teach,” De Haas said. “Three days before the competition we adopted a new group from China and passed on our knowledge to them,” he said, adding that they spoke together in English with the help of hand gestures.

The musical theater adaptation of the movie, ‘Zero Motivation’

Zero Motivation may be the next Israeli film that ends up as the basis for a Broadway show – like The Band’s Visit – since a musical version of it will be opening at the Beit Lessin Theater in Tel Aviv in October.

Oren Yaacobi wrote the play and Eli Butner wrote the songs. The show will be directed by Ido Rosenberg.

The original film, the debut feature by Talya Lavie, was the surprise winner of the top prize in the world cinema category at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in 2014, and has become one of the most acclaimed and popular Israeli films of all time.

The movie tells the story of two miserable female soldiers, played by Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy (who won an Ophir Award for her performance), in a base in the Negev, who spend their days making coffee, shredding documents and dreaming of a transfer to army headquarters in Tel Aviv. The shrewd blend of black comedy and social criticism drew favorable comparisons to Robert Altman’s antiwar classic, MASH.

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