January 25, 2022

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09/01 Links Pt2: Why the origins of the BDS movement matter; Burkini Bans and Jewish Democracy


From Ian:

Why the origins of the BDS movement matter
A recent film clip showing ex-Israeli academic Ilan Pappé has raised eyebrows. Asked whether it was Palestinians who launched the BDS campaign in 2005 Pappé conceded, “Not really, but yes. OK. For historical records, yes.” Both Israel supporters and Israel haters have been taken aback by this forthright statement, from a leading Israel hater, that Palestinians did not create this now iconic movement.
What are the BDS movement’s origins? The question is, at one level, an historical curiosity. The movement exists, it is forging ever-deeper links with the far left and the ‘progressive’ movement, and is a force to be reckoned with. At another level, however, the history of the BDS movement is emblematic of Palestinian political history, and the recent development global antisemitism, as a whole.
Two trends are immediately evident in the history of BDS, the role of Palestinian political factions and professional Palestinians from the diaspora, which have led Palestinians toward rejectionism.
It is easy to dismiss the movement’s own origins story, the 2005 call from Palestinian ‘civil society’ organizations. The call for boycotting Israel was in explicit opposition to the Palestinian Authority (which, indeed, rejected it) and may well have originated with a rejectionist PLO faction. Indeed, many of the ‘grassroots’ organizations that signed the document cannot be traced. They were likely organs of political factions or just fabrications.
The message was simple: the “representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”

Norway, stick to polar bears

It was during the perusal of this usually apolitical source of news — it is not uncommon for nine out of 10 headlines to include polar bears in some form or other — that my husband jumped from his chair, pointing to the computer screen in horror. I looked at the headline, which said, “Boycott Israel!”
So there it was: the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement had made its way to the northernmost inhabited place on earth. The text was a letter to the editor, written last summer by a local priest, Leif Magne Helgesen, in which he was peddling the most outlandish claims, including that Israel is “a military regime” and encouraging his fellow Longyearbyen residents to boycott Israel. The priest had spent his summer vacation in a Palestinian Arab village and had returned a full-fledged BDS warrior, ready to go against Israel, which he continued throughout his lengthy diatribe to describe as a “regime.”
There is something deeply ironic, tragicomically so, about a priest who does his business in the northernmost spot on earth, surrounded only by the Creator’s beauty and the occasional scare from a polar bear, isolated from the rest of the world and certainly from the issues of the Middle East, venting his anti-Semitic fury and rage at a country that could not possibly be further removed from him than Israel. It is also telling that this man is, of all things, a priest.
Unfortunately, it should not surprise us. Svalbard belongs to Norway, which according to a recent report by watchdog group NGO Monitor, has recently joined Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands in contributing funds to an organization funding NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s website, 5 million Norwegian kroner (over $600,000) was allocated to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (HR/IHL) Secretariat in the second half of 2016. According to the NGO Monitor report, the “HR/IHL Secretariat is an intermediary that distributes funds to nongovernmental organizations … active in BDS … campaigns and other forms of demonization against Israel. It is managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm, based in Sweden.”

Evelyn Gordon: Burkini Bans and Jewish Democracy

Clearly, Israel’s religious tolerance can’t be attributed solely to its democratic norms. After all, France and Switzerland have impeccable democratic credentials, but that hasn’t stopped either from passing anti-Muslim laws. Nor is it because Israeli Arabs are a powerful enough minority to prevent such legislation: Arab Knesset members’ anti-Israel positions make them unacceptable as coalition partners in any government, and they would actually have no power to block anything the coalition majority wanted to pass. And it certainly isn’t because Israelis are saints who remain serenely forgiving of Arab terror and anti-Israel incitement; there’s plenty of anti-Arab sentiment in Israel.
Rather, the main reason why Israel never has and never would consider legislation like France’s bans on burkinis and headscarves is precisely because it is a Jewish state. In other words, it was created to take Jewish interests into account, and those interests include the freedom to observe traditional Jewish praxis. But the moment a democratic country starts making allowances for one religion’s traditions, those allowances inevitably spill over to other religions as well.
For instance, Israel could never ban headscarves in the civil service, because religious Jewish women also wear head coverings. It could never ban modest swimwear because religious Jews also insist on modest clothing. It could never ban minarets because the analogy to banning synagogues would be all too apparent. In contrast, France and Switzerland can do all those things, because they have no interest in accommodating any religion in the public square.
In short, Israel’s identity as both a Jewish and a democratic state is the main reason why Islamist terror has never prompted the kind of anti-Muslim legislation that it has in secular democratic France. So the next time someone tells you Israel’s Jewish identity is inherently at odds with its democratic identity, remember the burkini. And remember that sometimes, Israel’s Jewish identity is precisely what protects its democratic one.

Israeli Jews, Muslims puzzled by French ‘burkini’ brouhaha

In Israel, where it is fair to say Muslims and Jews do not always agree, there is shared confusion and surprise at events across the Mediterranean: the push by French mayors to ban full-body swimsuits, or “burkinis”, on beaches.
France’s highest administrative court ruled against the ban on Friday, but mayors in several beachfront towns have said they will defy the edict, determined to stop swimwear designed to be Islam-compliant appearing in public.
It is a policy that has drawn some popular support while provoking outrage and ridicule, with editorialists playing up the irony of a liberal country challenging the strictures of Islam by telling women what they cannot wear.
In Israel, there may be profound ideological and political differences between the Jewish population and the near 20-percent Muslim minority, but it has never come down to banning someone’s dress on the basis of religion.

Michael Lumish: Universality and Politics in the Religions of the Levant

Islam is universal and via al-Sharia it is also highly political. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam never went through a reformation. There was no Islamic Enlightenment that drew a division between the secular world and the world of faith. In the world of Islam it is all about the faith and the faith is all about al-Sharia, Islamic law.
When jihadis shot up the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris it was not out of irrational malice. It was in order to enforce al-Sharia. It was in order to make it very clear to the infidel that Muslims would simply not put up with non-Muslims breaking Muslim law by depicting Muhammad in any manner and particularly not a disrespectful one.
This is also why they shot-up Pamela Geller’s “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest.
And the thing of it is, these bully-boy tactics are working brilliantly. The jihadis now have western publications and news outlets, and other forms of media, exceedingly reluctant to anger Muslims by doing anything that Muslims do not like because it violates al-Sharia.
This is why some young women in Europe are becoming more and more reluctant to even leave their homes, depending upon the neighborhood. Western styles of female dress are immodest by the standards of al-Sharia and therefore marks them as sluts or whores in the minds of these North African and Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants. Because they are disregarding Allah’s Law they are fair game and deserve whatever beatings or rapes that they get.
This is also why Muslims tend to despise Israel with a white-hot passion. The very existence of the Jewish state is an abomination in the eyes of Allah. According to Islamic law any bit of land, however large or small, that was ever part of Dar al Islam must always and forever remain a part of Dar al Islam.
One thing is certain, if Israel were a 23rd Arab-Muslim state, the world would look upon it as a miracle and the rest of the Arab world would probably admire it.
Instead, they hate it because Israel is the Dhimmi that Got Away.

Corbyn Defends Iran State TV Appearances: Says Payment ‘Wasn’t Enormous’

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended receiving £20,000 for appearances on the Iranian state broadcaster on the basis that the payment “wasn’t an enormous amount”.
Mr. Corbyn was challenged over his willingness to appear on Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language television arm, despite concerns about Iran’s record on the treatment of LGBT people. Press TV’s director is appointed by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, meaning its output usually reflects the religious establishment’s strict Sharia ideology.
The channel was banned in the UK for its role in filming the torture of an Iranian journalist.
The Labour leader told a Pink News Q&A that the payment for five appearances between 2009 and 2012 was detailed in the UK parliament’s register of members’ financial interests.
“I presented other programmes in which I was able to raise a number of human rights issues, not just in Iran but other countries as well – and the money I was paid, which wasn’t an enormous amount actually, went on my constituency office,” Mr. Corbyn said.
Explaining why he stopped appearing on the channel, he said: “I did some programmes for Press TV quite a long time ago.

Hamdi Alqudsi sentenced to six years for sending Aussies to Syria

At his sentencing hearing Alqudsi denied he knew what Islamic State was in 2013 or that helping the men travel to a war zone was a crime.
He told the court he loved Australia and taught his step grandchildren to sing “Waltzing Matilda”.
Justice Adamson concluded his evidence was, “false and misleading” and that he had a “moderately high” chance of reoffending.
The court heard Alqudsi came to Australia from Palestine with his parents and siblings when he was 11.
He worked as a security guard and then as a packer at Woolworths where, in 2010, he injured his back and neck for which he received workers’ compensation.
He will be eligible for parole on July 11, 2022.

Israeli filmmaker disinvited at Syracuse U: “BDS faction on campus will make matters very unpleasant”

I was aware of this situation of faculty supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement getting an Israeli filmmaker removed from a campus conference at Syracuse University, but had to wait for The Atlantic to report on it.
It’s one of the most outrageous examples I have seen of how the BDS movement has poisoned academia. It also proves that BDS is lying when it says it only boycotts institutions not individuals. It also reflects the so-called “silent boycott” where Israelis face discrimination below the radar even when contrary to university policy.
It involved Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan, who was going to screen his film “The Settlers,” which had been shown at the Sundance Festival, at a joint U. Nebraska – Syracuse University conference next March, “The Place of Religion in Film” Dotan also teaches at NY University.
The film itself is critical of Israeli “settlers.” So this is not even a case where there was a problem with the filmmaker himself or his viewpoint which would fit in nicely on most campuses. A review at The Forward notes, Documentary About ‘The Settlers’ Shows Them as Israeli Left Wants To See Them.
Unfortunately, The Atlantic article by Conor Freidersdorf turns this into a moral equivalence play, in which some vague notion of campus politics is to blame. In fact, this is pure anti-Israel hatred playing itself out under the radar as another sign of the “silent boycott” of Israelis, from which even leftist Israelis are not safe.

This Australian University Just Compared Conservatives With Nazis

Australia’s Sydney University was accused of “serious academic bias” last week after it was reported lecturers were comparing conservative politicians to Nazis, and Australia’s policies on refugee migration to the Nazis’ treatment of mentally ill people in Germany during the Holocaust.
A lecturer told students the way homosexuals were treated in Nazi Germany was “something out of (Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi’s) handbook.”
One second-year student said he was prevented from presenting his class assignment on modern anti-Semitism, and was told by his tutor to avoid conflating anti-Semitism with the anti-Israel movement.
“I was halfway through my slides when the tutor told me to skip the rest of the presentation, saying ‘We don’t want people to get the wrong idea about you’,” the 22-year-old student said, adding, “It was clear I was not allowed to discuss this. It was quite dogmatic.”
He subsequently decided to drop the study subject, titled, “The Holocaust, History and Aftermath.”
The University of Sydney was involved in a similar incident suppressing pro-Israel speech in 2015, when approximately 13 anti-Israel administrators, professors and activists disrupted a lecture by British colonel Richard Kemp because he defended the Israeli Defense Forces. The protest ended in an outright physical confrontation between security and protesters, some of whom had to be dragged out of the lecture hall.

UCLA Student President Leaves Due to Anti-Israel Harassment

After a long, tedious struggle with anti-Israel harassment from administrators and student members of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), a former graduate student body president has decided to leave his UCLA education behind, in his quest for a less hostile learning environment.
Former UCLA law student and Graduate Student Association (GSA) president Milan Chatterjee has been the object of bullying and framing ever since he refused to allocate campus funding to an event that either promoted or rejected support for the State of Israel. Chatterjee’s “viewpoint neutrality” policy stated that topics surrounding Israel were irrelevant to the nature of campus politics and thus, campus funding should not be directed to taking sides on such measures.
The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an anti-Israel hate group responsible for leading the smear campaign against Chatterjee, responded with a plethora of threatening legal documents, administrative pushes, and media allegations painting Chatterjee as a biased student body president and calling for his apology and resignation. SJP leaders Rahim Kurwah and Yacoub Kureh, two UCLA grad students, enlisted the help of Palestine Legal (PL) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to send lawyers after Chatterjee to intimidate him, as well as push UCLA’s figurehead administration to launch a detailed investigation into his actions.
These allegations were easily debunked time after time, but that did not stop hateful anti-Israel activists from attempting to publish falsehoods and make them a supposed reality. Worse, the UCLA administration did nothing to stand by the GSA neutral policy and defend Chatterjee for doing his job. Instead, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang aided the SJP by taking part in the investigations and harassment directed at the student president.
Finally, Chatterjee has had enough. Not only was his reputation being constantly tarnished with cruddy lies and hateful spews; he was fighting to not fall behind in his schoolwork, his health, and his sanity. In a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Chatterjee revealed his decision to complete his final year of law school at New York University (NYU) in Manhattan.

Jewish college freshmen prepared to defend Israel on campus

Rosenfeld explained that he is aiming to start a few pro-Israel groups on his campus.
“We’ll see how much controversy that is met with in the beginning,” he added. “Personally I know that I’ll get involved, I do wanna be a leader in the community.”
“I’m not gonna lose my Israel beliefs and my Zionistic tendencies just because I came back to America,” he told the Post. “It’s really important to me to stay true to it, and continue to advocate for Israel whether it is on my college campus or at congress or somewhere on the hill.”
Like Rosenfeld, Uri Schwartz from Maryland, has been prepared for confronting BDS on campus. He went to a Jewish high school where the subject came up more than once.
“I took a lot of classes about Israel, Israeli politics,” he told the Post on the phone as he is preparing his move to Princeton University. “Not only did we learn about everything that is going on but a big part of that was when we go into college, how to approach other people about these topics and have a conversation with people who have different opinions.”
“It does make me a little nervous but I feel like I’m prepared to talk rationally,” Schwartz added.
He admitted that while in high school, he engaged in several debates about Israeli policies, his classmates and him always had an underlying common belief that Israel has a right to exist.
“I’ve never encountered someone who really disagrees with me on that fundamental level,” he explained, “So I don’t know how those conversations will go.”
Schwartz knows getting involved with Israel on campus is important to him. He has already made contact with student advocacy groups at Princeton such as “Tigers for Israel”.

In Australia, Allegations of Offensive Cartoons on a Professor’s Door

“One speaks about the Holocaust at one’s own personal peril. Institutions, in my view, are scared to death of being associated with me because I guess they are afraid of being accused of having some sort of Holocaust-denier in their faculty”
That’s what Canadian-born Aussie academic Thomas A. Fudge reportedly told the vile (see its Holocaust-denying thrust here) Adelaide Institute back in 2005, referring back to the notorious 1993 Joel Hayward Affair.
For New Zealand-born Hayward (who had a Jewish granny, it seems), now a Sunni Muslim and a professor in the Arab world (his career prospered in Britain despite his thesis, the furore it provoked, and Fudhe’s pessimism) see here
Hayward’s “career highlights,” we read, “include having been Dean of the [UK] Royal Air Force College, Cranwell for five years (2007-2011)”.
Now Fudge, a full professor who has taught at the University of New England (in New South Wales) since 2012, has hit the headlines again. The Australian Jewish News (AJN) reports today that on his office door cartoons by Carlos Latuff, runner-up in the 2006 Iranian Holocaust cartoon competition, have allegedly been displayed.

Court orders Rasmea Odeh to undergo mental exam in immigration fraud case

This case is on track now for the November 29 hearing on whether Rasmea gets to present PTSD expert testimony relating to the questionnaire answers. If the court rejects the proposed expert testimony as not meeting the legal standards, Rasema’s conviction stands; if the court allows the expert testimony, there will be a new trial in January.
The expert testimony should not be allowed regardless of the mental examination. I’ve read the expert’s pretrial testimony, and even at face value it doesn’t meet the standard required. The expert does not say that PTSD caused Rasmea not to understand the questions on the immigration forms, or that Rasmea blocked out the memory. All the expert says is that it may have contributed — such speculation is not of sufficient scientific reliability. I’ll have more on this as we approach the November 29 hearing on whether the expert can testify.

University Hires Guy Who Recruited For Al-Qaeda

George Washington University (GWU) hired a former al-Qaeda recruiter to bring a “unique perspective” to the university’s center on homeland security.
Jesse Morton, formerly known as Younus Abdullah Muhammad, was charged and taken into custody in November 2011 for making threats against the creators of the television series, “South Park,” because of an episode that depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit. Morton had worked with a colleague to make online threats and justification of death under Islamic law for individuals who insult Islam or the prophet Mohammed.
He and his colleagues were also investigated in 2010 by police for ties to a failed car bombing operation in Times Square, New York City. His past recruits were responsible for a plethora of global crimes, including plots of flying a remote-controlled plane with explosives into the Pentagon and attempting to murder a Swedish cartoonist for drawing the prophet Mohammed.
Several of Morton’s recruits are currently still working for ISIS.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at GWU’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, said he fully “trusts” his newest employee, who he believes has “reformed” since serving time in federal prison after committing several crimes such as working for a global terrorist organization and encouraging people to join.

New York Times Columnist Doubles Down on Controversial Anne Frank-Syrian Refugee Analogy

European Jews were exterminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust partly because of the prejudice of the US public, a prominent liberal pundit asserted on Tuesday, reiterating comments he made last week in an op-ed.
In an MSNBC interview with Andrea Mitchell, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof again compared the plight of current-day Syrian refugees to that of Jews in Europe during the World War II-era.
“I think we all think that, you know, Anne Frank and European Jews were simply murdered because the Nazis regarded them as inferior, and in some sense, that’s true, but it’s also true that they died because mainstream America in some sense regarded them as inferior as well, and as unworthy of helping,” Kristof stated.
Arguments made during the Holocaust that “Europeans should look after their own first, this isn’t our responsibility” now appear “not only silly, but just morally myopic,” Kristof said.
Kristof went on to caution, “I’m afraid that we will some day look back at the kind of arguments we are making to explain our unwillingness to help Syrians in the same way. What we have is not a lack of policy responses; it’s fundamentally a lack of empathy for those in need.”
In his New York Times column, titled “Anne Frank Today is a Syrian Girl,” which ran last week, Kristof criticized America’s handling of the Syrian refugee crisis.

AFP Pits ‘Analysts’ Vs. ‘Israel,’ Ignores Analysts Critical of Palestinian Incitement

According to Agence France Presse, a major global wire service, there is a neat divide between what analysts think of Palestinian incitement and what Israel thinks.
Analysts as a whole, AFP suggests in a story published this morning, don’t accept the view that Palestinian incitement has contributed to the recent spate of violent attacks on Israelis. This, readers are told, is nothing more than a claim by the Israeli government:
Analysts say Palestinian frustration with Israeli occupation and settlement-building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the unrest.
Israel says incitement by Palestinian leaders and media is a leading cause of the violence.

But, of course, it isn’t only Israel that describes Palestinian incitement as a problem. Plenty of analysts do, too.
Alon Ben Meir, a senior fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, has described Palestinian incitement as “verbal and written onslaughts that support the use of violence and perpetuate radical political narratives.” This incitement, he continued, is causally linked to anti-Israel attacks: “A renewed focus has been placed on the issue of Palestinian incitement, as the indiscriminate violence that it helps to create has returned.”
Journalist Shlomi Eldar, former fellow at the Wilson Center and currently with NYU’s Taub Center for Israel Studies, has documented what he called “empirical evidence of the impact of the Palestinian media and the way that it encourages young Palestinians to follow in the footsteps of other ‘martyrs.'”

Odd claim from BBC Technology appears – and disappears – on Wikipedia

On August 26th an article by the BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Who are the hackers who cracked the iPhone?“.
In that article readers find a decidedly bizarre description of the purpose of Unit 8200 of the Israeli army’s Intelligence Corps together with an unsupported assertion. [emphasis added]
“According to the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), the NSO Group was founded in 2010 and is based in Herzliya, an attractive city north of Tel Aviv that is known as being a cluster of tech start-ups. The group was likely funded by the elite 8200 Intelligence Unit, an Israeli military-funded scheme for start-ups.”
Lee does not provide any evidence to back up his odd claim that the NSO group – or indeed any other start-up – was “likely funded” by the IDF. Numerous local media reports refer to the company having recruited private investors when it was launched in 2009.
Nevertheless, Dave Lee’s unsupported claim quickly found its way into Wikipedia’s entry on NSO Group.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Media Demand Triple Wages For Serving As Judge, Jury, Executioner (satire)

Israeli and foreign journalists issued coordinated statements today asserting that their constant performance of the duties of judge, jury, and executioner regarding political and military figures requires that they be compensated commensurate with their fulfillment of those three arduous roles.
The Israel Press Club, the Foreign Press Association, and the Foreign Press Club all put out releases this morning calling for greater remuneration of media personalities working hard to take reports of crimes or violations and to use their industry’s influence to ensure that the public remains predisposed to assume the worst about the suspects and therefore treats them with the disdain, hate, and abuse they have been led to believe the accused deserves.
“We are performing three valuable roles, and should therefore receive three times the payment,” read the statements. “Our training, experience, and attitudes must be recognized in monetary terms, not only in terms of preordaining that our prejudices are manifest in society through our reporting and commentary.”
The statements highlighted the valuable threefold role the press fills by citing the recent case of a soldier accused of killing a wounded, prone terrorist. Elor Azaria, a soldier in Hebron, stands accused of killing a wounded terrorist who had already been shot and lay on the ground after attempting to stab them. In the initial coverage of the episode, the media at large gave air time and attention only to the partial and tendentious clips that support the accusation that Azaria’s actions were unnecessary and murderous, while all but ignoring testimony and video evidence of ongoing concern that the wounded terrorist was wearing an explosive vest and thus continued to pose a danger to the assembled personnel.

Hungarian court blocks Holocaust denial websites

A court in Budapest has ordered the temporary blocking of about 20 websites that carry Holocaust denial material.
The sites sell the Hungarian edition of a book by a Swedish author that denies that the Nazis committed genocide and makes excerpts available to read online, Budapest chief prosecutor Tibor Ibolya said Tuesday, Hungary Today reported.
An investigation of the Hungarian publisher was suspended while the head of the company is out of the country, according to Hungary Today.
Public Holocaust denial is a crime under a law passed in Hungary in 2010, and is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Last year a Hungarian prosecutor ordered a man to read up on the Holocaust after he shared a picture on social media depicting Auschwitz as an imaginary fun camp.

Israel to begin exporting marijuana soon — minister

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday announced that Israel would begin exporting medical marijuana abroad, weeks after the government approved measures to make medical cannabis more easily accessible to patients in Israel.
“In two years we will have protocols in place that will allow farmers to grow cannabis,” Ariel told Israel Radio over the weekend, according to Israel’s online Hebrew-language magazine Cannabis.
“The Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis, a plant whose foremost use is the medical treatment of patients around the world,” he said.
Ariel said he intends to approve the request for exporting Israeli-grown medical marijuana abroad.
In June, the government approved a plan to ease restrictions on growing medical marijuana and make it more readily available to over 23,000 patients in Israel.

Hipster label hawks high-end ‘poncho’-tallit

Apparently, everything old is new again — again. In recent months, fast fashion retailers Old Navy and H&M both made waves on social media by selling items that looked remarkably like a tallit, or traditional Jewish prayer shawl.
And now, high-end hipster label rag & bone is hawking its “Ines Poncho,” a wool-blend garment adorned with fringe and banded stripes that recall the prayer garments of observant Jews.
Nordstrom’s, the department store, describes rag & bone’s “oversized” and “bohemian” poncho as something “that offers effortless layering in transitioning seasons.”
It retails for the very un-boho price of $375.
Last summer, Old Navy sold a women’s cardigan ($34) that strongly resembled the religious garment.
Then, in January, H&M sold a seemingly tallit-inspired beige scarf with black stripes ($17.99), along with a matching fringed poncho ($34.99). It wasn’t even the Swedish retailer’s first foray into synagogue-friendly garb; they sold a similarly striped poncho back in 2011.
H&M quickly apologized for marketing the Jewish-inspired garb and pulled the garment from stores in Israel.

Report: India Looking to ‘Startup Nation’ for Israeli Security, Defense Know-How

As Israel and India engage in trade talks, the latter is looking to the former’s defense-and-security startups to boost the country’s know-how, an Indian commerce department official told the country’s Economic Times on Monday.
“Israel is very keen to have a trading arrangement with us,” the official said. “Startups are Israel’s strength. They’ve advanced technology in defense. If some kind of transfer happens, it can be seeding input for our startups.”
According to the official, since India is already a major customer of Israel’s defense technologies — Israel is the second-largest supplier of weapons systems to India — and the two militaries share high levels of cooperation, the startup arrangement would be more strategic in nature.
Next month, Israel and India will hold their first joint military exercise, when an Israel Air Force squadron visits the country.
Amid a renewed bolstering of relations between the two nations, India and Israel enjoy bilateral ties in a number of fields, including health, education, research, agriculture and technology.
As reported by The Algemeiner, earlier this month, the Indian military said it plans to purchase Israeli radar systems to detect terrorists hiding in the dense forests along the country’s disputed border with Pakistan.
In addition, Israel launched its first-ever television tourism advertisement in India last week, with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism allocating $1.62 million toward the campaign, as The Algemeiner reported.

Tel Aviv R&D helps Paralympian cyclist in quest for gold

When German cyclist Denise Schindler competes in the Paralympics later this month, she will be showcasing technological innovation as well as her sporting prowess.
The 30-year-old will be competing with a new prosthesis, one that was produced through 3D printing. Schindler has been working with Autodesk, a San Francisco-based software company, for about 18 months to design the new high-performance prosthesis.
While the artificial limb was printed in San Francisco, Autodesk’s Israel R&D center played a major role in its creation.
“This is an excellent example to the way in which technology and innovative tools change the way in which we make things,” said Eitan Tzarfati, the head of Autodesk’s Israel R&D center in Tel Aviv. “In using generative design powered by algorithms we are at the beginning of a revolution in design and manufacturing. Human designers cooperate with powerful computers and advanced software in dealing with design limits.”

Artist Spencer Tunick to visit Israel in effort to save Dead Sea

Artist-photographer Spencer Tunick will hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sept. 12, five years after his celebrated Dead Sea art installation. Tunick, who stands out as one of the most prominent voices in art over the past 25 years, is calling once again to raise awareness among the Israeli and international publics about the dangers of sinkholes that threaten the existence of the Dead Sea.
Tunick will visit Mineral Beach, the site of his previous installation at the Dead Sea, on Sept. 11, the day he arrives in Israel. Tunick is also scheduled to debut a selection of his international works at the Reviat Florentin gallery in Tel Aviv on Sept. 13.
“Since 1991, I have travelled the world making immersive art with people of all races, religions and nationalities,” Tunick said, “but Israel is a unique place that I hold close to my heart and is the only country in the Middle East where I can be allowed to have proper freedom of expression. I care deeply about the future of the Dead Sea and hope that my presence and involvement here can propel the Israeli government and local activists to take real measurable action to save the Dead Sea. I am not sure if we will have this same opportunity again.”
Clive Lipchin, director of the Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, said that “the threat to the Dead Sea’s existence is more tangible than ever.”

In ‘Blazing Saddles,’ Gene Wilder helped recall a fading black-Jewish alliance

The amity between his black and white protagonists grew out of the writing room itself, Brooks recalled after the Newark screening, explaining that “Pryor wrote the Jewish jokes, the Jews wrote the black jokes.”
In an essay for NPR, Nadya Faulx once noted that the interracial relationship between Bart and Jim wasn’t unprecedented in film, but “it was one of the first in which race wasn’t treated as an obstacle.” “Blazing Saddles” came after “The Defiant Ones,” in which Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are literally shackled together as a white and black (and Jewish and black) odd couple. “Blazing Saddles” also anticipated a string of black-white buddy movies to come, include Wilder’s own collaborations with Pryor on “Stir Crazy” and other comedies, as well as “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Lethal Weapon” and “48 Hours.”
The black-Jewish alliance was never as solid as some survivors of the ’60s like to claim. Philip Roth, the bard of lost Jewish Newark, once recalled that when he was growing up in the city in the ’30s and ’40s, “we were all — Irish, Italians, Slavs, blacks, Jews — settled and secure in different neighborhoods. There was barely any social overlap.”
“Blazing Saddles” is, perhaps, a movie about what could have been and what might still be: a better world in which Jews and African-Americans win out over racism, xenophobia, ignorance and a rapacious tycoon through the power of friendship, cunning, some bloodless gun play — and an epic fart joke.

Mel Brooks shares his best memories of Gene Wilder

Mel Brooks and the late Gene Wilder — who collaborated in films such as “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein” — had a famously decades-long friendship.
When Wilder passed away on Monday, Brooks was one of the first celebrities to offer a Twitter eulogy, calling him “one of the truly great talents of our time.”
Brooks got more specific on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night, dishing to Jimmy Fallon about everything from how he met the fellow Jewish comedy legend to how Wilder cried when he saw the script for “The Producers.”
“I’m still reeling for that ‘no more Gene,’ I can’t call him…He was such a wonderful part of my life,” said Brooks.
Brooks, who is 90 but still oozes energy and a manic sense of humor — for example, he interrupted the interview at one point to stand up and mock Hitler’s mustache using a hair comb — said he told Wilder about the idea for “The Producers” before he had the financial backing to follow through with it.

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