February 21, 2020

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09/03 Links Pt2: Daily Mail distributes a million maps listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital; Paul Robeson’s Unapologetic Stalinism and the Fate of Soviet Jewry; AOC pans Israel’s ‘inhumane policies,’ insists she isn’t anti-Semitic


From Ian:

Daily Mail distributes a million maps listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital
The 975,000 thousand or so British news consumers who purchased the Sunday, Sept. 1st print edition of the Daily Mail (The Mail on Sunday) gotta nice freebie: a “giant, glossy” map of the world featuring “essential geographical facts“.

Here’s a promotion of their special offer on Twitter, noting that the map is “just in time for going back to school”.

However, they got one “essential geographical fact” wrong, as you can see here in this close-up of the Middle East section of the map.

Elsewhere on the map, it makes clear that the square icons (which you see next to Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Amman) represent the capitals. So, the maps from the Daily Mail delivered “just in time for school” contain a blatant factual inaccuracy about Israel.

Despite the fact that we’ve posted countless times on this issue, and contacted editors to remind them that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, usually resulting in corrections, this mistake continues to crop up periodically. Though we contacted Daily Mail editors to ask for a prominent editor’s note acknowledging the error, in light of the fact that the claim was made in an actual paper map that nearly one million Britons received (and not merely online), the damage can’t really be undone.

Paul Robeson’s Unapologetic Stalinism and the Fate of Soviet Jewry

Besides being a gifted singer and actor and a tireless and eloquent advocate for the civil rights of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, Paul Robeson was also a committed Communist of the Stalinist variety. Even after the Soviet purges began in the 1930s, and as he became aware that all was not well in the workers’ paradise, Robeson continued to defend the regime in public and to toe the party line. His interactions with leading Soviet Jewish figures—he was deeply connected with Jewish circles and often performed Hebrew and Yiddish songs—illustrate much about his attitudes. Describing these relationships in a longer discussion of Robeson’s Communism, Ron Radosh writes:

Despite Robeson’s constant cheerleading [for the USSR], he was privately dismayed by Soviet repression of the Jews. During his 1949 Soviet concert tour, Robeson asked to meet his friends [the Yiddish poet] Itzik Feffer and [the great Yiddish actor] Solomon Mikhoels, . . . whom he had first met in 1943 when Stalin sent them to tour the United States on behalf of the “Jewish Anti-Fascist League.” Little did Robeson know that Mikhoels had since been murdered on Stalin’s orders, on January 13, 1948, in what was disguised as a hit-and-run car crash. Feffer, meanwhile, was being held at the infamous Lubyanka prison in Moscow, having been arrested by the NKVD in December 1948.

The authorities made [Feffer] presentable for the occasion and brought him to meet Robeson in his hotel room. Feffer signaled that the room was bugged, and that they should only make pleasantries but communicate with hand gestures and written notes. Feffer told Robeson about the growing anti-Semitism, and the prominent Jewish cultural figures who were under arrest. Then Feffer put his hand across his throat, indicating that he expected that his days would be short. He was shot to death a few years later.

Robeson was shaken, and to his credit told the audience at his concert in Moscow that night that he was friends with Feffer and Mikhoels and had just met with Feffer. He then sang in Yiddish the Warsaw Ghetto resistance song written by Hersh Glick, a Jewish poet and fighter, Zog Nit Keynmol. It was indeed a bold gesture. By singing this song and mentioning his friendship with Feffer, he signaled his disapproval without having to say anything publicly against Stalin.

Yet when Robeson returned to the United States, he told the waiting press that he had seen Feffer in Russia and saw no traces of anti-Semitism there. . . . Robeson’s denial of Soviet anti-Semitism was the one always [cited] by American defenders of the Stalinist regime.

BBC must apologise for featuring Ash Sarkar, defender of Warsaw Ghetto vandal, as “expert” in programme on “Rise of the Nazis”

The BBC has included a pro-Corbyn political activist who has made deeply problematic comments on antisemitism as a “historian and expert” on Nazism as part of a new multi-part documentary.

Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor of Novara Media, did not substantially contribute to the first episode of BBC Two’s Rise of the Nazis, produced by production company 72 Films, however the introduction to the programme signalled that she will feature in later episodes.

Ms Sarkar has defended the vandalism of the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto and claimed that the International Definition of Antisemitism is merely a front to silence criticism of Israel.

In 2010, activist Ewa Jasiewicz sprayed political “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest and most well-known of the ghettos designated by the Nazis in German-controlled territory, from which hundreds of thousands of Jews were sent to death camps or killed by shooting and another hundred thousand died of starvation and courageous revolt. Essentially a mass grave, the Warsaw Ghetto serves as a salient symbol of the Holocaust for all and evokes sensitivity and strong emotion on the part of Jews in particular.

Ocasio-Cortez pans Israel’s ‘inhumane policies,’ insists she isn’t anti-Semitic

US Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her past criticism of Israel to Israeli television, saying it is directed at the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not the entire country.

In comments aired by Channel 12 Tuesday evening, Ocasio-Cortetz also rejected accusations by US President Donald Trump that she discriminates against the Jewish state, saying the “cudgel of anti-Semitism” cannot be used to ward off censure of Israel, which, she said, employs “unjust and inhumane policies.”

Ocasio-Cortetz is one of four Democrat congresswomen that Trump has repeatedly cast as “anti-Israel” and “anti-Semitic.”

The four — Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — have diverse opinions about the Jewish state.

“I think that the Netanyahu administration has been pursuing a lot of extraordinarily concerning policies,” Ocasio-Cortetz told Channel 12, which questioned her about her attitudes toward Israel while the congresswoman was on the campaign trail in the Bronx over the weekend.

“To conflate an individual leader or ego with being against the entire country, I think, is a hallmark behavior of folks like our president,” Ocasio-Cortetz said. “Just like we have the ability to criticize our president without being anti-American, I believe we can criticize the policies and decisions that the administration over there is pursing without being against a country overall.”

Nearly 50% of Jewish Israelis approve ban of Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar – poll

Nearly half of Israelis believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the right decision in barring entry to far-Left Democratic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last month, according to a monthly survey conducted by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute.

The poll released found on Tuesday asked respondents whether they thought the decision was unwise because it will seriously damage Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party – for which most American Jews vote – or whether it was the right decision, because the congresswomen have antisemitic views and support a boycott of Israel, and their visit would have caused Israel great harm.

Jews agreed more with the second choice, 47.3% compared with 25% for the first choice. Among Israeli Arabs, 41.1% agreed with the first choice and 12.3% with the second. The rest did not know or declined to answer.

The poll also found that the September 17 election has failed to generate as much interest among voters as the last election in April.

The poll found that 39% of respondents are following the September election to a lesser extent than they followed those held in April, 36% reported following both election campaigns to the same extent, while only 17% replied that they are following the upcoming election to a greater extent than the previous campaign.

Looking ahead to the formation of the next coalition, 27.3% of the general public prefers a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 15.5% a unity government led by Netanyahu, 19.9% a unity government led by Gantz, 19% a Center-Left government headed by Gantz, 8.4% none of the above, and 9.8% did not know or declined to answer.

‘Make Israel Palestine Again’ hat trends on Etsy

A red baseball cap with the phrase “Make Israel Palestine Again” in the style of US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat was trending on Monday for a short time on online retailer Etsy.

Marketed as a protest cap, the hat, created and sold by Jordanian designer Mjcodez but ostensibly manufactured in the United States, was favorited by over 60 people.

The page for the hat contains the following description: “Seriously though, time to take back what’s rightfully ours… If you’re headed to a protest or demonstration for Palestine, civil rights or any of the sort – this will be definitely catch people’s eyes.”

Mjcodez’s store contains several other items, mostly clothes, bearing English and Arabic text, while his page on e-commerce site Teespring contains a wider variety of clothes, posters, cell phone cases and more, each featuring Arabic text. A prominent motif on merchandise sold on the Teespring page depicts an Uzi submachine gun over lines of text, which read “VIOLENCE” in English and Arabic.

BBC Sport reports the outcome of a story it ignored last month

BBC Sport did not show much interest in the Judo World Championships which took place in Tokyo between August 25th and 31st. During that period of time visitors to the BBC Sport website’s Judo page saw just two reports (see here and here), both of which concerned a Scottish Judoka.

However, on September 2nd a report on a five day-old story titled “Saeid Mollaei: Iranian judoka fears for safety after refusing to quit World Championships” was published on that page as well as on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page. Readers were told that:
“Iran’s Saeid Mollaei says he fears for his and his family’s safety after ignoring calls from Iranian authorities to pull out of the World Judo Championships in Japan.

Mollaei said he was told to withdraw from his match against Russia’s Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev to avoid the prospect of facing Israel’s Sagi Muki later in the tournament.”

Only in the tenth paragraph were readers informed that “Muki later beat Casse to win the gold medal” but they heard nothing of an earlier incident involving an Egyptian competitor.

The BBC’s report gave a distinctly tepid portrayal of the pressures put on Mollaei. In addition to citing “calls from Iranian authorities to pull out”, the report told readers that Mollaei said:
“But the National Olympic Committee of Iran and the Sport Minister told me to not compete, that I had to comply with the law.”

Trump Labor Aide Quits After Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts Surface

Facebook Exchange

Olson’s initial post about Ryan prompted another Facebook user to reply, “He’s a neo-con, too, you know.”

Olson replied, “No he’s not. Neo-cons are all Upper East Side Zionists who don’t golf on Saturday if you know what I mean.”

The same commenter then replied, “That’s what I meant. He’s a Jew. Everyone knows that.”

Olson at 12:46 a.m. Houston time wrote the following about the apparent Jewish faith of Ryan, an observant Catholic: “It must be true because I’ve never seen the Lamestream Media report it, and you know they protect their own.”

A review of a decade of Olson’s Facebook posts shows that he usually promotes his Christian faith and conservative views. The Paul Ryan exchange appears to be the only appeal to Jewish stereotypes. A few weeks later, he took to Facebook again on the eve of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah: “My Jewish friends, I wish you a happy new year. My non-Jewish friends, I wish you a happy Jewish new year.”

As of last week, Olson’s Facebook settings allowed users who aren’t his “friends” to peruse his account history, although a Twitter page associated with his name has been scrubbed of all tweets.

Top French novelist published Holocaust denials, caricatures 30 years ago

One of France’s most celebrated novelists published caricatures 30 years ago mocking the Holocaust as well as texts denying that the Holocaust happened.

Yann Moix, whose first novel won a prestigious Goncourt Prize in 1996, apologized this week for his actions and suspended the promotion of his latest novel, “Orleans,” over the discovery.

The weekly L’Express published an exposé last week detailing Moix’s contributions in 1989-90 to a self-published periodical he called Ushoahia — a mashup of the Hebrew word for Holocaust and the name of a French television travel program.

Moix drew one caricature of a man wearing a striped prisoner uniform while holding up a can emblazoned with the words “Coca-Crema,” short for crematorium. He wrote: “You can beat the Jew!” and drew Stars of David around the caricature.

Another drawing featured similar figures performing like a rock band outside a Nazi-like camp encircled with barbed wire.

“Everybody knows the camps never existed,” a caption alongside that caricature read.

NY beach club vandalized with antisemitic graffiti

The members of the Silver Gull Beach Club in Queens, New York were shocked when the club notified them that the playground would be closed. The New York Times reported that club management said the closure was “due to the recent and increasing incidence of vandalism from within the club.”

Members quickly heard that the playground was covered in antisemitic and racist graffiti including racial slurs against black people, a red swastika, the words “Heil Hitler,” The Times reported. Additionally, The Times published a photo of a door with the words “gas chamber” smeared on it in red paint.

New York has seen an increase in hate crimes, and according to the NYPD, as of June 2, 2019, the number of reported antisemitic crimes rose from 58 in 2018 to 110 in 2019.

Some Silver Gull members spoke with The Times, including Harold Bretstein, who is the son of Holocaust survivors.

“You can gloss it over. You can talk about it being a prank, but it’s much more than a prank, especially in terms of the times we’re living in when you’re seeing a rise in antisemitism everywhere,” Bretstein told The Times.

Michelle Freedman, whose mother survived the Holocaust told The Times, “We cannot sweep this under the rug, we have to acknowledge when these things happen and all the members of the club need to know the club doesn’t tolerate racism or antisemitism.”

Swedish Court Fines Imam $305 for Saying Jews Are Offspring of Monkeys and Pigs

A district court in Helsingborg, Sweden, has fined Imam Samir el Rifai 3,000 kronor ($305) for hate speech during a July 2017 demonstration, Expressen.se reported Monday.

The speech was sponsored by the Swedish-Palestinian Center in Helsingborg, and was carried out in Arabic at the city’s Gustav Adolf Square. The anti-Semitic content was reported to police by the Jewish Assembly in Helsingborg.

In his speech, el Rifai said the Jews had conspired against both Jesua and Mohammed, and, in fact, “there is no prophet against whom those who are the progeny of monkeys and pigs have not made evil plans. They did it to all the prophets and to all nations, and this has also affected our prophet, peace be upon him.”

In court, the defendant argued that he had only attacked the State of Israel, over its restriction of access to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, but plaintiffs’ attorney Ylva Norling Jönsson told Expressen: “We believe it is clear from the speech in its entirety that the statement was aimed at Jews in relation to their religion, not the [Israeli] regime or its military force.”

German Soccer Fans Who Abused Israeli Referee With Medieval ‘Jewish Pig’ Insult Should Face Legal Action, Green Party MP Urges

A German parliamentarian is calling on one of the country’s top soccer teams to take firm action against fans who abused an Israeli referee with a medieval antisemitic epithet during a major European contest last week.

Green Party MP Omid Nouripour said on Sunday that the management of Bundesliga soccer club Eintracht Frankfurt needed to work with police to identify the fans who called Orel Grinfeld — the Israeli referee who officiated at Eintracht’s 3-0 victory over French club Racing Strasbourg in their Europa League qualifying match last Thursday — a “Judensau,” or “Jewish pig.”

Nouripour, who is also the chair of Eintracht’s supporters club in the German Parliament, explained that while he had not been in attendance at the match, several of his contacts who were present confirmed hearing the offensive chant. Nouripour urged the Eintracht management to issue permanent bans and launch legal proceedings against the offenders.

A local politician who attended the match told the Jüdische Allgemeine Jewish news outlet that he had personally remonstrated with the fans who showered Grinfeld with antisemitic abuse after he issued a red card to Eintracht forward Ante Rebić on the cusp of half-time.

Serbia to block construction at former concentration camps

Serbia’s parliament will block plans for construction, including those for a shopping mall, on the grounds of former concentration camps, the country’s president said.

President Aleksandar Vucic told Efraim Zuroff, the Eastern Europe director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Thursday in Belgrade that a bill that would make the plans impossible would be passed this year, Zuroff told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The law would also create a memorial center in Belgrade for tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Roma killed by Nazis in World War II.

Originally a 1937 trade fair complex built in the then capital of Yugoslavia, one of the former camps, Staro Sajmiste, became a death camp when Nazis invaded the country in 1941. Some 30,000 died there, including 7,000 Jews.

After the fall of Communism, Staro Sajmiste and another site of a Nazi-era camp in Belgrade, Topovske Supe, were partly sold off by the state, but have been spared large-scale redevelopment, Bloomberg noted in a report Thursday.

Israeli-made innovative cancer treatment gets FDA stamp of approval

The world’s first drug to prevent proliferation of cancerous cells, established by Israeli scientist Dr. Sharon Shacham, just received FDA approval, kicking off Leukemia Awareness Month.

XPOVIO was developed by Karyopharm Therapeutics, a Newton, Massachusetts company established by Israel’s Dr. Sharon Shacham.

“We believe that our activity at Karyopharm constitutes an important milestone in the war on cancer,” she said.

The FDA first approved the drug for sale in July after 10 years of development. Karyopharm wrote in a press release that within six days of the FDA’s approval, cancer patients in the USA began receiving XPOVIO.

During a pivotal trial that led to the drug’s approval, approximately 40% of patients saw their tumors shrink. Karyopharm also reported that patient life expectancy increased by three to five times thanks to the treatment.

XPOVIO has been mainly used to treat myeloma, the second most common type of blood cancer, which affects 400 to 500 people in Israel annually, according to a Karyopharm Therapeutics press release.

Fauda’s Lior Raz needed bodyguard in UAE to escape selfie-taking fans

Fauda star and creator Lior Raz said that when he was shooting the Michael Bay film, 6 Underground, in Abu Dhabi, he had to have a body guard, “Not because I’m Israeli, because all of the Arab people from all of the countries just wanted to take a selfie with me all the time,” the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

Raz, who was speaking at an event at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood, Ohio, in late August, reminisced about the wonderful reception he got from fans in the United Arab Emirates: “Everyone watched that show. Why? I asked a lot of them: Because we honored their language, because we are not trying to show anyone as the good guy, anyone as the bad guy. It’s an Israeli narrative, I’m an Israeli, I’m a warrior, I’m a Zionist … And people love it.”

He said that a key to the show’s success was that much of it is in Arabic, including the credits (which are in both Arabic and Hebrew). “For me the Arab language, Arabic, is super important, super, super important. I think that in order to understand our enemies, we have to know them much better. In order not to fight with them, we have to honor them. In order to honor them, we have to learn their language because Arab people in Israel know Hebrew. Everyone. But in Israel, if you ask someone in school what you prefer, French or Arabic, most of the Israelis will go and (study) French. Why?” Answering his own question, he became sarcastic: “Because our border with Switzerland is very close and… they need to know French.”

He recalled learning Arabic as a child, while spending time with the Arab workers at his father’s plant nursery, so he could feel that he was part of their group. “I didn’t know what was going on, but I became an undercover soldier when I was 10 years old.”

A couple of years later, he said, he killed some porcupines that been destroying plants at his father’s nursery. “We ate them later. It’s not kosher. I’m sorry.”

Earlier at the event, while talking about how therapy helped him cope with PTSD from his army service – in an undercover unit that was the inspiration for Fauda – he showed that he was could still be a tough guy. Seeing someone videotaping him on their cellphone, he said, “Please don’t videotape it, OK? I’ll kill you. I’m talking about very personal stuff, so please don’t record anything. We know that I can.” The person stopped and Raz calmed down.

Knit pickCrowd-sewn embroidery honors memory of terror victim Ori Ansbacher

Hundreds of colorful, embroidered tapestries, woven and sewn by thousands of people worldwide in memory of Ori Ansbacher, a 19-year-old who was murdered in a Jerusalem forest last year, were stitched together to form a massive, three-meter-long Israeli flag, and hung prominently outside the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The project, which brought together 5,200 embroidered works made by a wide range of people from around the world, though mostly women, was a project created by Bat Sheva Sadan, whose own parents were killed 16 years ago in a terrorist attack.

Sadan was tremendously saddened and pained by Ansbacher’s murder, and called upon women to embroider their feelings on fabrics. She reached out via Facebook, and ended up collecting more than 5,000 embroidered squares from 11 countries.

“Embroidery has been women’s work through the ages,” said Sadan, who is still seeking funds to complete the project and move it to be displayed in other locations in Israel.

The embroiderers included a child with special needs, who held the hand of her teacher who did the embroidery, a group of older women with dementia, a Belz Hasidic woman and a mother sitting next to her son’s hospital bed.

One woman worked on a piece of fabric taken from material she brought from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, while another used a piece of her dead brother’s Israel Defense Forces uniform.

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