Dr. Mordechai Kedar: The Hajj and the struggle for Islamic leadership
What can we look forward to this year when the Hajj to Mecca approaches? I do not know, but I will not be surprised if the political tension between the Saudis and Iran, particularly after the Sunni ISIS defeats, Shiite Hezbollah victories and Iran’s moving into Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, finds an outlet during the Hajj. It could be in the form of a Shiite boycott of Mecca or Saudi violence against any Shiites who attempt the pilgrimage to Mecca.
In June, Jerusalem became the site of the struggle (“Ribat”) between Islam, the religion that expects to take the place of Judaism and Christianity, and Judaism, which is in the midst of a return to its former status as a living, worthy religion. The background of the struggle is the renewal of Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount. During the short period of Muslim demonstrations for the right to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque without “Jewish” security checks, Saudi Arabia’s voice was conspicuously absent.
The reason for the Saudi silence was the fear that the Muslim Brotherhood and those over whom they hold sway would raise the Al Aqsa Mosque to a level of importance that could contest the centrality of Mecca in Islam.
This plan was heard in Muslim Brotherhood media pronouncements. In 2012, for example, Safwat Higazi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief spokesman in Egypt, said that the capital of the Islamic Caliphate that can unite all the Arab nations “is not Mecca, not Medina, not Cairo, but Jerusalem. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Why Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism
In interviews with thousands of British Jews, almost a third of them said they have considered leaving the United Kingdom over the past two years due to antisemitism.
The findings are part of a report published Sunday by the Campaign Against Antisemitism watchdog group, which conducted since 2015 interviews with more than 10,000 British Jews together with the YouGov market research company.
In interviews conducted in 2016 and 2017 with a combined sample population of 7,156 respondents, 37 percent of them said they have been concealing in public signs that would indicate that they are Jewish.
Only 59 percent of the respondents since 2015 said they feel welcome in the United Kingdom and 17 percent said they feel unwelcome.
Only 39 percent of respondents from 2015 onward said they trust justice authorities to prosecute perpetrators of antisemitic hate crimes.
Three-quarters of the people interviewed said they feel that recent political events have resulted in increased hostility towards Jews. Since 2015, 80 percent of respondents said they believe that the Labour Party is harboring antisemites in its ranks.
In 2015, Jeremy Corbyn, a far-left politician who in 2009 called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends,” was elected to lead Labour. Corbyn said last year that he regrets calling the terrorists his friends but Jewish groups in the United Kingdom and beyond have accused him of whitewashing antisemitism and allowing it to grow among the many thousands of supporters who joined Labour in support of his policies.
The vast majority of Britain’s Jews have no intention of packing their bags despite rising concern about safety after the Paris attacks, according to an authoritative new poll for the JC.
Almost nine out of 10 – 88 per cent – say that they have not considered quitting the UK since last week’s atrocities, compared to just 11 per cent who have thought of leaving.
Among 18-34 year olds, however, the percentage of those who say they have considered leaving jumps to over 17 per cent.
Considering overall safety in the wake of the murders in Paris, nearly a third report feeling “much more concerned”.
When asked about their personal safety, three-quarters still feel secure – over three times more than those who do not.
Seventeen per cent feel “very safe and 58 per cent “quite safe”, compared to 19 per cent who feel “quite unsafe” and only three per cent “very unsafe”. The remaining three per cent are undecided.
The fact is that these supposed feminists not only turn a blind eye to those atrocities, but their presence at these events actively endorses and legitimizes the rule of these dictators.
When the subject turns to the specific cases of millions of oppressed women around the world — such as Asia Bibi, a Christian mother on death row in Pakistan for seven years for taking a drink of water; or the 19-year-old who, this year, was raped by her cousin at gunpoint and then sentenced to death by stoning for “adultery”; or women who were forced to marry their rapists; or child marriages at 12,000 a day; or women who are beaten by their husbands or who have acid thrown in their faces; or women used as suicide bombers.
When Mogherini smiles in her hijab in Iran, she is delivering a strong blow to women rights movements that attempt to remove the compulsion of the obligatory hijab and grant women equal autonomy, education and freedom. She is empowering suppression.
Catalonia’s branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel suggested that European governments are “responsible” for a terrorist attack in the Barcelona area.
BDS Catalonia made the accusation on Friday, a day after the Islamic State terrorist group said its militants killed in the Spanish region 14 people and wounded another 100 in two incidents in and near its capital, Barcelona.
Following a paragraph that states that BDS Catalonia “wishes to condemn the attacks committed” and to “express solidarity with the victims and their relatives,” the statement asserts that “we also condemn the responsibility of European governments in what they are doing with their foreign and domestic policies, and their complicity in human rights violations worldwide.”
In the only reference to terrorism in the statement, the authors wrote: “We also do not forget the victims of military occupations, of wars and terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestina, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and many other places where what happened yesterday in Barcelona is a daily occurrence.”
Finally, the authors added, “we emphasize our opposition to Islamophobia, Xenophobia and all forms of discrimination.” Solidarity, the authors added, “is our most powerful weapon. #Barcelona.”
As readers are no doubt aware, attacks on Israelis using the same or other methods are never described by the BBC as terror in its own words. The reason for that glaring double standard lies in the BBC’s failure to distinguish between method and aims, with the result being that when somebody deliberately drives a vehicle into a group of people, the corporation’s description of the attack as terror – or not – depends on the perceived aims and affiliations of the perpetrator.
Earlier this year the BBC came up with a new ‘explanation’ for the egregious double standard repeatedly seen in its reporting of terror in Israel and elsewhere – particularly Europe.
Like the UK, Spain is also a member of the international coalition “united in defeating Daesh” and the word terrorist has also been seen in a BBC report concerning another country involved in “direct physical combat” with ISIS.
The fact that the BBC does manage to report terror attacks in other parts of the world using appropriate language means that its long-standing editorial policy of eschewing accurate terminology in coverage of Palestinian attacks on Israelis becomes even more glaring and the redundancy of its inconsistently applied guidelines and guidance is highlighted all the more. Absurdly, the BBC will no doubt still claim that it produces ‘impartial’ and ‘unbiased’ reporting from Israel.
“We were in the market next to Las Ramblas, on the way to eat at Maccabi Restaurant before flying home, when we heard terrified screams from hundreds of people who had been enjoying themselves when the van sped toward them, trying to murder as many as possible,” recalls Edna Hajaj, 57, of Beersheba, who was injured fleeing the terrorist ramming attack in Barcelona Thursday night.
“All of a sudden, there was this wave of hundreds of people who were running away from the street, through the market, to get away from the pandemonium. In my life, I’ve never seen a frightened crowd flee like that. Some of them were holding children and babies,” Hajaj said.
When the attack occurred, Hajaj and her husband were on their way to enjoy a last meal in Spain before returning to Israel. She was lightly injured running away from the “battlefield” on the street, as she describes it. She rushed back to her hotel, collected her suitcases, and sped to the airport with her husband.
After landing in Israel, Hajaj was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where she was treated and released. Dr. Hosni Alkrinawi, head of emergency surgery at Soroka, said, “Edna was suffering from a few contusions over her body. She is in stable condition.”
Ruthie Blum: Barcelona is not Charlottesville
It is interesting to note that more recently, in February this year, a British government report revealed that last summer ISIS began recruiting Spanish-speakers and translators to spread the jihadist message and issue “direct threats” on tourist hot spots in Spain. The Barcelona massacre, then, could have been predicted. At the very least, it should have been anticipated.
Indeed, with ISIS openly using the web — promoting jihad through its online magazine in several languages, and through Telegram, a network with more than 100 million active users — it is unbelievable that European security forces are caught off guard with each new Islamist bloodbath.
It is not surprising at all, however, that Trump’s statement of solidarity with Barcelona and condemnation of the terrorists would be ridiculed, and not only by the liberal media. French President Emmanuel Macron took the opportunity of the van-ramming to tweet: “We stand beside those who fight racism and xenophobia. It is our common fight, in past and present. #Charlottesville.”
Even in the midst of defeat on the battlefield, ISIS fighters paused to have a good laugh.
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, complained of a double standard employed by the U.N. experts.
“The trouble with so-called U.N. human rights experts is that their notorious selectivity makes it hard to take them seriously,” she told Fox News.
Bayefsky, an NGO delegate at the Human Rights Council, warned of its long history of anti-U.S. bias.
“Those who welcome this U.N. intervention should be aware that their comments … can be added to a long list of anti-American outbursts, like the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights questioning the legality of killing of Usama bin Laden,” she said.
The statement mentioned anti-Semitism once, in reference to the demonstrators in Charlottesville shouting “anti-Semitic” chants, but Bayefsky questioned their professed concern on the issue.
“These same authorities on racism champion the U.N.’s racist Durban Declaration, support the U.N.’s rampant discriminatory treatment of the Jewish state, and turn a blind eye to modern forms of anti-Semitism. So their sudden concern with anti-Semitism in the United States appears disingenuous, to say the least,” she said.
Fraser, in his Aug. 17th column, faults Israel’s prime minister for his three-day delay in condemning the antisemitism in Charlottesville, which he contextualises by citing a recent interview on Israeli TV with Richard Spencer, a Charlottesville hate rally leader. During the interview, Spencer compared his white supremacist ideology to Jewish nationalism.
Fraser comments on it thusly:
Speaking on Israel’s Channel 2 News on Wednesday, the alt-right’s Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the Charlottesville rally, gave an astonishing example of this “antisemites for Israel” philosophy. “Jews are vastly over-represented in what you would call ‘the establishment’ and white people are being dispossessed from this country,” he said of the US. Yet he continued: “An Israeli citizen, someone who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogue feelings about whites. You could say I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. Just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”
Fraser then insinuates that Spencer may have a point:
This is staggering stuff. Richard Spencer is the man who chanted “Heil Trump” during a Washington rally. His followers responded with the Nazi salute. Praise from a man mired in the worst sort of antisemitism should prompt soul-searching on the right of Israel’s political establishment. These are not admirers that they should want.
This is beyond disingenuous.
In the wake of Charlottesville and the literal Nazis chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us,” there’s been an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from non-Jews in the wake of Charlottesville.
Along with the (very welcome) renewed discussion about anti-Semitism on the right, some of us are also taking this opportunity to push forward conversations about anti-Semitism on the left. It’s real, and it’s a problem, and we need to do something about it.
Friends on the left, this is your reminder that denouncing literal Nazis is the easy part. Being an ally to your Jewish friends also requires the uncomfortable work of fighting anti-Semitism in progressive spaces and recognizing how rhetoric and attitudes on the left contribute to hatred and violence against Jews.
And as we all know, anti-Semitism on the left usually takes the form of indiscriminate anti-Zionism that attacks all Jews under the pretense of opposition to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. #NotAllAntiZionists are anti-Semites, but some certainly are. This thinly-veiled anti-Semitism dehumanizes Jews and plays into centuries-old blood libel being justified as “anti-Zionism.” From kicking Jews out of events for displaying the star of David to literally telling us we deserve to be attacked by Nazis because of the Israeli occupation, “anti-Zionism” is being used as an excuse for the kind of overt hate speech that is completely intolerable anywhere, and especially within progressive movements.
But using “Zionists” as code for “Jews” is actually a tactic the right invented.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leading think tank and lobby for civil liberties in the digital world, denounced what it called “dangerous” censorship by GoDaddy, Google and Cloudflare.
“We must also recognize that on the internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with,” they said.
“Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one — not the government and not private commercial enterprises — should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.”
The action of Cloudflare was even more significant because of the centrality of its position on the web. When Cloudflare shut down Daily Stormer, Anglin was essentially forced to reopen Daily Stormer on the less easily accessed “dark web.”
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince admitted the capricious nature of his decision in an email to staff, and the broader questions it raised.
“My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough,” he said. “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.”
“No one should have that power,” he continued. “We need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled.” (h/t Jo Shmo)
Attached is a link to the Hamas Media Office Facebook page. Hamas is a terrorist organization and is officially recognized as such by the United States government. Hamas has murdered more Americans, and more Jews, over the past twenty years, than all of the neo-Nazis on the planet together have since World War II. Significantly more.
After my father, Richard Lakin, was brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists almost two years ago, I began a campaign to pressure Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and the other social media giants to proactively remove materials that incite to hatred, violence and terror. I have written to Zuckerberg directly, published opinion pieces, spoken at conferences, appeared in the media, participated in movies, initiated legislation and filed law suits.
Over the past year, Facebook and Zuckerberg have issued numerous corporate statements talking about how seriously they are taking the issue of terrorism. Unfortunately, those statements are fake news. Facebook has yet to take any significant action. The facts speak for themselves: the Hamas Media Office Facebook page attached to this post is just one of many examples which include the Hamas TV Facebook Page, and numerous private Facebook groups used by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the Hamas military branch) to communicate. Just type their name into Facebook in Arabic to see the long list:
It was offensive enough when, in the aftermath of the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, the white supremacist leader Richard Spencer called himself a “white Zionist,” comparing his form of Nazism to the belief in a homeland for the Jews.
It was even more distressing to read on these pages a supportive rendering of that assertion by Naomi Dann of the radical group Jewish Voice for Peace.
We work hard to reflect a range of American Jewish opinion, which is why the piece and reaction to it was published. The free flow of ideas is to be cherished. But when a Jew even hints at comparing Israel to Nazis, it must be denounced.
The argument that Zionism is akin to Nazism is not new, and it’s never been correct. Its related equation – that Zionism is racism – was codified by the United Nations when it passed Resolution 3379 in 1975. Though hardly Israel’s best friend, the international body later came to its senses and overwhelmingly rescinded the resolution in 1991.
But, like the anti-Semitism at its core, this ugly syllogism will not die, resurging at times of anxiety and anger, and fueled by a willful disregard for what Zionism and Nazism actually represent.
Read more: http://forward.com/opinion/380526/zionism-nazism-richard-spencer-jvp/
It amazes me that just as the dust settles from Nazi jackboots marching through Charlottesville Virginia articles about Israel keep popping up. From New York’s Jewish Daily Forward to the UK’s Guardian articles have appeared that start off talking about the Far Right going after the Jews of American and then veer off course to talk about Israel.
Well not especially, everything seems to be about Israel, whether you’re on the extreme right wing fringe of the United States or on the centre left website The Guardian. Over in the USA I would have expected Naomi Dann who works for Jewish Voice for Peace to be writing about the need for her fellow Americans to band together with the Jewish community to fight the threat posed to all of them by domestic fascism. Instead she looks at the situation and decides to write a scathing article about Israel. She writes that;
The most promising solution to anti-Semitism lies in building relationships and coalitions, recognizing how our freedoms are bound up together with those of people who have fewer rights than us, and having those difficult conversations when conflicts arise.
The ignorance as to the challenges Nazism posed to Jews in Germany in the 1930s is staggering. According to a study published in the American Economic Review in 2013 intermarriage between Jews and non Jews in Germany in 1932 stood at 65.1%. German Jews were certainly “building relationships”. It didn’t help much when the time came. What did help stamp out fascism, at least in the USA at the time, were Jewish criminals armed with baseball bats attending rallies of the German American Bund.
Most bizarrely Dann’s comment about unity comes at the end of an article she must know will cause fissures among the very Jews currently reeling from the attack on them. Way to go.
Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen (Kulanu) came out in support of U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend, after the embattled president faced accusations of being racist and anti-Semitic in the aftermath of violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Efforts to portray Trump as anti-Semitic are pathetic,” Cohen said, adding that of all the U.S. presidents, Trump is “one of the most sympathetic toward Israel.”
“Ever since Trump entered the White House, efforts to boycott Israel in the economic arena have suffered a critical blow,” he said.
“The shift in the discourse toward Israel is apparent has been apparent in the diplomatic arena in general and in the U.N. in particular,” he added. “U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been clearly implementing Trump’s policies.”
Furthermore, on the economic plane, the efforts to target Israel economically, which were prevalent in the past, have waned dramatically since Trump took office,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Russia this week to meet with President Vladimir Putin for continued talks aimed at preventing the Israeli and Russian air forces from clashing in the skies of Syria, his office said Saturday.
Netanyahu will meet Putin in the Black Sea Resort of Sochi on Wednesday, the statement said. Netanyahu last met with Putin in Moscow in March, but they have spoken by phone frequently since then.
“The two set the meeting to discuss the latest developments in the region,” the statement said, adding that “it must be noted that in the last two years Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with President Putin every few months to discuss bilateral and regional issues with the intention of preventing any clashes between Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria, with success until now.”
Days before US President Donald Trump’s administration plans to dispatch a high-level delegation to the Middle East, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri on Saturday jointly called on the international community to intensify its efforts “to create the appropriate climate to reach a peace deal based on the two-state solution.”
The three Arab foreign ministers also urged the international community and other parties involved to work on relaunching peace talks in accordance UN resolutions, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and a limit time-frame to end Israel’s military rule, a joint statement read by Shukri at the conclusion of the trilateral meeting stated.
The Trump administration delegation, which is expected to travel to a number of Middle Eastern countries including Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in the coming days, is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other Middle Eastern leaders. The American delegation will comprise senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, US special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt and US deputy national security advisor Dina Powell.
According to a White House official, Trump believes the relative clam in Israel and the Palestinian territories at the current moment presents an “opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that the entire administration of US President Donald Trump is in “chaos,” intimating that the White House is in disarray regarding peace efforts.
“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas told a delegation of dovish Israeli lawmakers visiting Ramallah.
Abbas told parliamentarians from the Meretz party that he had met with US officials more than 20 times since Trump’s election in November 2016, yet still had little idea what their plans for peace negotiations were.
“Each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and the stop to settlement building,” he said, according to Hebrew media reports. “I urge them to tell Netanyahu that, but they refrain.”
He added that it is impossible to know what Trump and his team are planning.
Counterintuitively, although all three areas of the West Bank face Israeli repression, political mobilization today is actually less prevalent in areas where the PA operates. This finding suggests that the PA does, in fact, play a role in the decline of political mobilization and engagement.
During the July protests in Jerusalem, the PA and its leadership were always a step behind. They had nothing to do with the coordination of the protests and could do little to stop them. Local religious figures, particularly the Islamic Waqf, took the lead on calls for protest and formulating the Palestinian position. Christian leadership followed suit. Jerusalemites responded with high levels of participation, developing their repertoires of protest by relying on preexisting norms, like prayer times.
My findings also help explain why the Jerusalem protests were effective: East Jerusalem, despite having been occupied in 1967 like the rest of the Palestinian territories, is unique in its lack of PA institutions. Palestinians there do not face an added layer of repression from an indigenous regime.
And although the occupation is repressive, how people react to an externally imposed force differs from how they react to their own leadership. While the occupation can spur rebellion, the PA’s direct repression in the areas it governs exacerbates polarization and affects the ability of different groups to coordinate. This is precisely why today we see increased mobilization in places we wouldn’t expect: rural farming communities and East Jerusalem suburbs. Until we see a change in the Palestinian Authority’s role, the locus of mobilization will continue to shift in unexpected ways.
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday sent three truckloads of medicine to “the Venezuelan people,” Ma’an reported, noting this donation from the Palestinian Authority was based on “a decision by President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Foreign Minister Dr. Riyad al-Malki told Ma’an while attending to the traffic of medicine-laden trucks from the warehouses of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Shechem: “The decision of President Mahmoud Abbas to donate to Venezuela came in response to an appeal by the Venezuelan government because of the difficult circumstances experienced by the country, and attempts by the extreme right to overthrow the regime Judgment.”
Here’s the rub, though: the Gaza Strip, that other enclave of local Arabs, has been suffering from a severe shortage of medicine and medical supplies which threatens the health of one-third of patients in Gaza, according to Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health “The shortage is at 32% for medicines and 38% for medical supplies, which is equivalent to 154 different types of medicines and 342 types of medical disposables,” she told Al Monitor, warning of potential negative repercussions for Gazans’ health should these shortages persist.
Michael Lumish: Possible Restraining Order (Updated)
Reem Assil has filed a request for a restraining order against me.
The initial request was denied but it’s going before a judge in about a week, or so.
Also, you guys should know that her lawyers and others are monitoring this site.
The form that I received reads CH-109, TRO DENIED – HEARING ON ORDER PENDING.
This hearing will be on 8/28/17.
But the vast majority of the paperwork that I received is comprised of blog posts from here… including your comments.
So, the thing of it is, Assil’s lawyers are going thru this material.
Good for them.
The coppers got nothin’ on me, man.
Humboldt University in the German capital lodged a criminal complaint against activists who disrupted a talk by MK Aliza Lavie and an Israeli survivor of the Holocaust in June, a spokesman for the university told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
“Humboldt University in Berlin filed a written criminal complaint on June 27, 2017, in connection with the Internet complaint filed [via the police website] by the DIG [German-Israel Friendship Society] Berlin on June 26, 2017,” university spokesman Hans-Christoph Keller said.
The university’s criminal complaint, which appears to mirror that of the Friendship Society, involves allegations against BDS activists Ronnie Barkan, Majed Abusalama and Stavit Sinai, who face charges of trespassing for their activity at the Humboldt University event with Lavie.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign action by the three activists targeting the MK received widespread media coverage in Berlin because of the alleged antisemitic nature of the verbal tirades launched at the Israeli participants at the June 20 talk about “Life in Israel – Terror, Bias and the Chances for Peace.”
A spokesman for Yesh Atid’s Lavie told the Post on August 6 that the lawmaker “expects there will be some sanction against them, not only because of the offending behavior in this case, but mainly as a message against this type of violent discourse, whose consequences may be dangerous.”
It is unclear when the Berlin state police authority will conclude its investigation.
Musicians from Egypt, Syria and Tunisia pulled the plug on their participation in next week’s Berlin Pop-Kultur music festival because of Israel‘s role in sponsoring its artists to appear.
Klaus Lederer, who oversees the city’s cultural agency, said on Tuesday that the “call to boycott the festival with fake news about an alleged co-financing of the festival by the State of Israel is disgusting and appalls me.”
The festival organizers denied that Israel is either a co-organizer or a co-financier of the three-day event.
The bands that pulled out of the festival are: Mazzaj Rap Band-Syria, Hello Psychaleppo from Syria, and EEK featuring Islam Chipsy from Egypt, as well as Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi.
According to the festival’s organizers, “The BDS campaign imposed immense pressure on all Arab artists in our line-up.” The German branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state had been in contact with the Arab bands.
Last year, the Munich-based bank DAB closed the account of the Berlin-based BDS Campaign because the account violated France’s anti-discrimination law. French banking giant BNP Paribas owns DAB.
Donations to the controversial New Israel Fund (NIF), which has been accused of supporting anti-Israel groups, have dropped nearly 20 percent in 2016, according to recent financial statements.
One of the statements reveals that donations to NIF have plummeted $6 million, from $33 million in 2015 to $27 million in 2016, marking a six-year low in incoming philanthropy for the US-based organization.
As a result of this cash flow issue, NIF has cut its overall funding of Israeli groups by about 35 percent in recent years, providing $20 million in 2008 but only $13.5 million in 2016.
NIF, whose stated mission is to advance liberal democracy and fight injustice in Israel, has distributed more than $300 million to 900 organizations since 1979.
Watchdog groups have noted that prominent recipients of NIF funding include Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, groups that promote international pressure on Israel and have accused the IDF of perpetrating war crimes.
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, welcomed the drop in donations to NIF.
“The New Israel Fund has lost its legitimacy among the vast majority of Israeli citizens long ago,” said Peleg, “and it is good to see that its US donors are beginning to comprehend that the sole purpose of this organization is to harm the state of Israel and its sovereignty.”
A chuckle tickled my throat as Ruth Thomann, a Swiss hotelier who posted signs urging her “Jewish guests” to shower before entering the pool, assured me that she has “nothing against Jews.”
To be clear, I don’t find racism particularly amusing, especially not these days.
But there was something comical about how her earnest voice – she was speaking in broken English with a thick Swiss-German accent – contrasted with the glaringly discriminatory character of the laminated signs that she posted last week in her Paradise Apartments hotel in Arosa, near Zurich, provoking outrage in Israel and beyond.
Besides, in over a decade of reporting about Europe, I have heard more variations of this weak defense than I can remember — including by people who immediately contradicted themselves. Last year alone I heard it from the professional anti-Semite Dieudonne M’bala M’bala and from a Belgian cartoonist who proudly accepted an award at Iran’s Holocaust denial and mockery festival.
The shower signs, which Israel’s Foreign Ministry escalated into a diplomatic incident with Switzerland, seemed to me an open-and-shut case.
But as I listened earlier this week to Thomann’s passionate explanations and apology — “the signs should have been addressed to all the guests instead of Jewish ones,” she said, near tears – I realized that despite the damning evidence and anger against her, she was probably a tolerant person who, for lack of tact, was being pilloried internationally with devastating consequences for her business.
It was a starry, balmy Saturday night at Ra’anana’s Amphi-Park as singer-songwriter Regina Spektor took the stage.
“Shalom Eretz Israel!” she greeted the eager crowd, then straightaway sung several verses of “Shalom Aleichem,” the traditional Shabbat melody, adding “Shavua Tov,” a timely greeting for the beginning of the new week.
Her third appearance in Israel (following two shows at Tel Aviv’s Barby Club in 2007 and a sold out Cesarea’s Amphitheater in 2013), Spektor and her Steinway were joined on stage by Mathias Künzli on drums, Brad Whiteley on keyboards and Israel’s own Yoed Nir on cello.
Opening with “Folding Chair,” Spektor proceeded to serenade the audience with two hours of perfectly enunciated musical storytelling. Rare in Israel, and in live music in general, each word of each of Spektor’s carefully composed songs was perfectly audible, meaning listeners could really get lost in the palpable nostalgia of tunes like “No me quitte pas,” drawing audiences into the details of familiar New York and the romance of Paris, or get wrapped up in the intriguing idea of a hidden and eerily charming gateway to hell in “The Grand Hotel.”
It also meant that Spektor’s more pointedly critical songs were also perfectly clear, and they certainly struck a strong chord. She remarked that she’d been having the hardest time on tour reading news about the “Divided States of America.” Regarding the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virgnia, she said, “Just… f*cking nazis. They’re back. Who knew? So soon?”
Israeli non-governmental humanitarian aid organization IsraAID sent a first-response team of 16 volunteers to southern Nepal on August 17 to bring medical, psychosocial and sanitation assistance in the wake of floods and landslides affecting six million people in 18 districts.
The surging waters have washed away thousands of houses and permanently damaged farmland, food stocks and water infrastructure only two years after an earthquake wreaked devastation in the Asian country. More than 120 people have lost their lives, and many more are still missing.
IsraAID brought medical supplies from Israel to help in Southern Nepal after mudslides and flooding, August 2017. Photo via Facebook
Dangerous flooding in southern Nepal poses a high risk of waterborne disease, according to IsraAID, whose team was one of the first on the ground. More than 400 flood victims benefited from IsraAID’s services and activities on the first day alone.
“Our medical team saw a high number of cases of skin diseases, ear problems and malnutrition. Fears of outbreaks of waterborne and mosquito-borne epidemics are growing. We are working in close coordination with local authorities and the Ministry of Health to monitor and respond as needed,” the organization reports.
Meanwhile, in Africa, IsraAID continues to provide emergency relief in Sierra Leone following disastrous flooding and mudslides there that began on August 14.
The IDF values human life and helps those in need, regardless of their location. No matter the disaster, time and time again these humanitarian missions have been carried out quickly and effectively, saving thousands of lives.
Last month, Operation Good Neighbor, which provides aid to Syrians in need, was unveiled. This isn’t the IDF’s first humanitarian operation; the IDF began performing humanitarian operations like these in its early years and has done so all over the world.
1953: Ionian Islands, Greece
The first humanitarian operation that the IDF carried out was in 1953, when Israel was just five years old. That August, an earthquake hit Greece, taking over 1,000 lives. Israeli Navy ships, which were doing an exercise in the area, helped the survivors and gave them necessary medical treatment. These sailors paved the way for future IDF humanitarian aid missions.
In 1975, the war between Vietnam and Cambodia created many refugees. An IDF team was sent to the scene, where they stayed for over a month and provided medical care to the displaced persons living in temporary refugee camps on the Cambodian-Thai border.
1985: Mexico City, Mexico
In September 1985, four earthquakes hit Mexico City, the most severe measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale, and took more than 10,000 lives. The IDF sent a delegation of medical and search and rescue teams, consisting of 350 reservists who were called up within three days of the disaster.
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