Amb. Alan Baker: How to Dismantle the Distorted Western Discourse on Israel
Israel’s critics often follow misconceptions and flawed assumptions that indicate an inherent lack of seriousness and lack of intellectual honesty.
Claims that “Zionism is a settler-colonial, ethno-nationalist project” ignore the long-term historical evidence of Jewish presence in the land and Israel’s valid historical, legal, and political claims to its sovereign territory and land. To single out and condemn Zionism in such a manner is tantamount to singling out the Jewish People and denying them a fundamental right that is possessed by all other national peoples.
Israeli settlements that were established since 1967 were in full compliance with customary international norms, on land that was not privately owned by any local Palestinian. Residents of Israel’s settlements were neither forcibly nor illegally transferred into the area in violation of international conventions.
Israel is faced with ongoing aggression and terror, including periodic, massive rocket fire against its cities and villages, and offensive tunnels into its sovereign territory in order to enable infiltration by terrorists intent on committing attacks against its population. Israel’s actions in responding to aggression and acts of terror are fully compatible with its international rights to defend itself against such acts.
There exists no such thing as “internationally recognized Palestinian land” or “Palestinian territory,” either politically or legally. There exists no binding, authoritative international determination that recognizes Palestinian statehood or Palestinian land. There are only a plethora of non-binding, politically-generated resolutions initiated by the Arab states in the UN, expressing nothing more than the “wishful thinking” of those states.
The State of Israel was not established as a colonizing entity in place of an Arab state. Rather, it was established as a fruit of decolonization of the former Turkish Ottoman Empire together with other independence movements in the region in the 20th century. Israel always intended to exist together in peace with an Arab state in the area of Mandatory Palestine. This constitutes a founding principle of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
— Israel Advocacy Movement (@israel_advocacy) September 6, 2020
On Sep. 5, Justus Weiner, an international lawyer at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, passed away at the age of 70 after a long illness. Weiner was a human-rights lawyer who exposed the persecution of Christians in the territories under Palestinian jurisdiction.
He was most noted for an extremely courageous article he published in the September 1999 issue of Commentary, in which he exposed the Palestinian polemicist Edward Said, who had grown into being one of Israel’s most formidable intellectual adversaries. A Columbia professor, Said served as the main author of Yasser Arafat’s 1974 address to the UN General Assembly.
The article was entitled “‘My Beautiful Old House’ and Other Fabrications by Edward Said.” Weiner proved that in pursuit of the truth, he was prepared to defy conventional wisdom. That was a secret source of his strength.
A key part of Weiner’s story related to Said’s house in Jerusalem, including the legal title the Said family supposedly had to the house. By initiating a title search in Jerusalem, Weiner disclosed that the house that had been so pivotal in Said’s writings and speeches never had the name of the Said family on it, punching a huge hole in Said’s argument claiming rights to the land. Said sued Weiner in court after the article appeared – and lost.
The Jewish world in the age of coronavirus – A special Israel Hayom project
There is a fine line between anti-Semitism and legitimate anti-Israel criticism, but it appears that things are getting even more blurry because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dealing with this complex reality for many years, there is a growing fear that the global challenge of the novel coronavirus would make such hateful discourse mainstream.
“There are some things that even if they could not be classified as anti-Semitism are nonetheless in the gray area that creates fertile ground for anti-Semitic discourse,” the director of the ADL’s Israel office Carole Nuriel told Israel Hayom. “One of the most obvious manifestations is that people make sophisticated use of the terms Jewish, Israeli, Judaism and Israel and we also see people try to use anti-Zionism as if it was a legitimate form of hate, but in many cases, it centers on anti-Semitism because it negates Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” she said, noting how classic anti-Semitism has been repackaged in order to make it relevant for today’s age. In other words, just like the Jews were blamed for spreading the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages, so too are Jews, and Israel, being blamed by anti-Semites for the virus.
Such conspiracy theories have been part and parcel of the coronavirus pandemic early on. In Turkey, an outlet associated with the anti-Israel regime interviewed an “expert” who claimed that Israel had a vaccine and that “those who spread it are the ones who will provide the cure,” thus subliminally claiming the Jews were behind the new contagion. Even the son of the former Turkish prime minister said there was still no proof that “Zionism is not behind it.”
Similar views could be heard in Venezuelan media.
They won’t have a conservative but they welcome a hijacker. https://t.co/EDXWeeaQkK
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 7, 2020
Elizabeth Bruenig is an intelligent left-wing columnist for The New York Times. Yet this from her, in response to Friedersdorf’s tweet, knocked me flat, and made me wonder if there is something broader happening with the Left:
(Verdun? Huh? That’s the far right?)
But seriously: imagine believing that conservatives see the “major threat of the far left” as “higher taxes”! Is this really how left-wingers regard the right at the current moment, or is this just a Liz Bruenig thing?
I’m trying to think of any conservatives who have expressed fear of higher taxes as the greatest threat from a Democratic takeover of the White House. Maybe the libertarian gazillionaire Charles Koch thinks that, but I believe that is way, way down the list of concerns among most conservatives.
As I see it, the “major threat of the far left” to us on the right — the major threat, not the only threat — is that in power, they will go pedal to the medal on a soft totalitarian “social justice” regime that would punish dissenters by costing them their livelihoods, and ruining their churches and other institutions. The major threat is the empowerment of ideologues who believe that all white people are racist, by virtue of their being white, and that the state should intervene to arrange society to suppress those disfavored by the left (whites, non-feminists, religious traditionalists, social conservatives, etc). The major threat is that they wish to erase American history and foundational principles of our constitutional order. The major threat is that the state will use its power to force parents to allow their minor children to take cross-sex hormones, and will seize those children if they don’t. The major threat is that the left in power through professional associations (law, medical, and so forth) will make it impossible for dissenters from the social justice credo to earn a living. The major threat is that violent social justice mobs will overrun cities and even suburbs, demanding that everyone assent to their ideology, or be looted or burned out. The major threat is that the left is propagandizing the young to despise their religion, their family, their country, their history, and themselves.
In sum: The major threat is that the state, aligned with powerful US-based global corporations, an ideologized mass media, and universities — basically, all the elites in the ruling class, distributed throughout institutions — will accelerate its current evolutionary path towards a coordinated totalizing system that will seek to crush any dissent or opposition to it.
A crowd-funder to cover the legal costs for “Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of [its] disciplinary processes” has raised almost £30,000.
The crowd-funder is backed by the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
The crowd-funder was launched by a group called ‘Labour Activists 4 Justice’, which describes itself as “Labour Party members who have been caught up in the absurdities of Labour’s disciplinary processes who want to see them changed”. The campaign is hosted by the website www.crowdjustice.com.
“These processes,” the group claims, “are unjust and unfair, and we intend to use the law to get them changed. We have started the action, but we need your help to be able to complete it.”
In a statement earlier this month, JVL called on its supporters to back the appeal.
Although it is not clear precisely what disciplinary processes in the Labour Party are at issue or who is involved in the campaign, observers have reasonably assumed that it is connected to controversies over antisemitism in the Party.
Labour is reportedly investigating three candidates running for positions on the Party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) after complaints were submitted by activists from the Socialists of Colour group.
The group sent a series of questions to the candidates and, after receiving the responses, raised complaints about three of the respondents, including Brian Precious and Carol Taylor-Spedding, whose responses have been marked with a content warning.
Brian Precious responded to a question on ‘institutional racism’ in the Labour Party by saying that “Labour is not institutionally antisemitic” but rather “Israel is institutionally antisemitic via its ethnic cleansing of the (semitic) Palestinians since 1948.” He also lamented the “antisemitic smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn” and advised, in response to a different question, that “We can address Islamophobia best of all by not invading one Muslim country after another, and above all by showing solidarity with Palestine and by pointing out to the antisemitism merchants that the Palestinians are a Semitic people.” He added: “Regarding antisemitism against Jews, I would call on all Labour members to support Jewish Voice For Labour,” a reference to the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation.
When asked to name a black Socialist man who inspired her, Carol Taylor-Spedding named three black women, one of whom was the notorious antisemite Jackie Walker, whom she proceeded to defend for being “expelled unjustly” from the Labour Party.
The group complained about a third candidate as well for alleged racism.
In July-August 2020, Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston and the Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO) BADIL held a series of webinars on aimed at “raising awareness in the USA…on the current obstacles and challenges facing the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.” Topics included annexation, President Trump’s “peace plan,” “Segregation, Fragmentation and Isolation,” and conditional funding.
– One of the sessions focused on EU requirement in contracts with NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists (such as Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). During the webinar, BADIL’s Head of Administration & Financial Affairs Unit Lubnah Shomali justified BADIL’s decision not to sign on to the contract: “What the clause does is if a Palestinian organization were to sign on to the granting contract, it would be as if they agree with the classifications for these organizations as terrorist organizations. It would effectively mean that we agree with the criminalization of our resistance movement and the history of resistance and struggle of our people.” According to Shomali, “Our resistance cannot be classified as terrorism. We can be accused of implementing terrorist acts, but it’s not the same as being classified as being a terrorist organization and being denied funding” (emphasis added).
– One webinar, which discussed the prospects of annexation of parts of the West Bank, promoted BDS tactics. According to Shomali, the international community is obligated by international law to stand up to annexation by “cutting diplomatic ties, establishing arms embargo[s], ending trade relations, [and] prosecution of individuals or entities that implemented the annexation.” She also stated that BDS is a “legitimate form of nonarmed resistance sanctioned under international law…to pressure to adhere to international law. We’ve seen it in other instances of colonialism and apartheid.”
– During the webinars, BADIL also supported the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda to investigate alleged war crimes in the “State of Palestine.” Shomali referred to the decision as “a very good thing…a positive…a win within the legal avenue or the legal advocacy resistance form …legal advocacy is a mechanism. These legal frameworks are mechanisms of nonarmed resistance for Palestinians and we are using them” (emphasis added). While Shomali acknowledged she is a “firm believer in international legal frameworks,” she felt it was more important to use “the more powerful mechanisms” of Palestinian civil society.
Both Jewish Voice for Peace and BADIL are known proponents of BDS campaigns, and regularly utilize antisemitic rhetoric and promote demonization campaigns against Israel’s existence.
A student club in Australia is now the object of an official complaint after it engaged in a series of anti-Zionist and antisemitic social media posts, including the claim that Zionism is “inherently antisemitic.”
The bizarre claim was made by the Students for Humanity club at the University of Technology-Sydney (UTS) in a series of Instagram and Facebook posts, the Australian Jewish News reported.
The club also claimed “Zionist mercenaries” committed bombings against the Iraqi and Egyptian Jewish communities to induce them to move to Israel, and that Israel then oppressed them when they did so.
“Zionism=anti-Semitism” declared one of the posts.
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) filed the complaint against Students for Humanity with ActivateUTS, which oversees clubs at the university.
The campus AUJS chapter said Students for Humanity violated the Clubs Code of Conduct against harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity.
AUJS public affairs coordinator Daniel Elberg said, “The club’s post was filled with historical revisionism, hurtful accusations and antisemitic tropes. To accuse the Jewish community of antisemitism is an incredible example of mental gymnastics and [UTS] must take action.”
Elberg and AUJS UTS President Lir Adani said, “To accuse the vast majority of Jewish people of being antisemitic is profoundly offensive and defamatory.”
Oxford University will be awarding the Rhodes Scholarship to two outstanding Israeli students this year, according to a university statement.
One of the oldest and most well known educational award in the world, the Rhodes Scholarship funds two to three years of advanced study at the prestigious English university, including full tuition, a living stipend, housing and airfare, among other things.
The potential scholars must possess a 3.7 GPA, be between 19 and 27 years old, and have lived as a resident in Israel for the past 10 years.
This will be the fourth year that the university will offer Israeli students the opportunity to become Rhodes Scholars; six Israelis have so far received the award.
Notable previous Rhodes Scholars include former US president Bill Clinton; astronomer Edwin Hubble, whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named for; Nobel Prize winner Howard Florey; three Australian prime ministers, and American television host Rachel Maddow.
Previous Israeli winners include University of Haifa graduate Lian Najami, who went on to intern for the US Senate and is working towards a dual degree at Oxford in public policy and comparative social policy, and Nadav Lidor, who earned his CS undergraduate degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford, and then his MA in public policy at Oxford while working to advance AI within British government offices. Dr. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg, former deputy governor of the Bank of Israel received the scholarship around 30 years ago.
The “number of rockets” mentioned by the BBC included one on August 2nd, two on August 16th and one on August 18th which were not reported when those attacks took place. After the publication of that BBC report mentioning the twelve rockets launched in two incidents late on August 20th and early on August 21st, another rocket attack took place and on August 28th a further six rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Neither of those attacks received coverage on the BBC News website.
In other words, BBC audiences learned of less than half of the 25 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip during August that were recorded by the ISA.
Since the beginning of the year visitors to the BBC News website have seen coverage of 5.2% of the terror attacks against Israelis which actually took place and reporting of 50% of the resulting fatalities. BBC coverage of rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip in 2020 stands at 14.8% as of the end of August. Six of the first eight months of 2020 saw no BBC reporting on Palestinian terrorism at all.
School officials in Marin County say they believe they have identified the student behind antisemitic Instagram accounts claiming to represent Redwood High School students “organized in antisemitism.”
The accounts, which used crude antisemitic drawings as profile pictures and targeted at least one Jewish student this week with hateful messages, have since been taken down by Instagram. One was called “redwoodhs_soas” (“students organized against semitism”), with 10 followers and 123 accounts followed; another was called “Redwood SOAS.”
A description of the former read: “Redwood students organized in anti semitism. We Currently compiling a google doc of jews in the district. Hit us up if you want to help!”
The incident alarmed Jewish parents in the district, some of whom shared screenshots on a shared WhatsApp group. Others sent emails to the district superintendent. The Tamalpais Union High School District is a high-achieving public school district in a largely affluent area of the county.
On Thursday, David Sondheim, principal of Redwood High, which is in Larkspur, emailed a letter to members of the school community, alerting them to what he called a “very disappointing and disturbing act of social media use and hate speech,” and said the incident was under investigation by the school district and by local police.
“These Instagram accounts promote antisemitism, racism, sexism and homophobia and have requested to follow several current and former Tam District students,” Sondheim wrote. “Hate motivated behavior and prejudice that targets even one student on our campus or in our community wounds us all and is an affront to what we stand for and strive to demonstrate.”
I have created an online resource: Antisemitism on TikTokhttps://t.co/XMypHHEB5U
It contains evidence of antisemitism and inappropriate Holocaust-themed videos on TikTok, with an explanation on how we can bring about change to end antisemitism on the platform.
— Rosie (@Rosie_Mulhernx) September 6, 2020
Seth Frantzman: Pogrom against Greeks and Jews in Turkey in 1955 commemorated
Sixty five years after mobs in Istanbul killed dozens, destroyed thousands of stores and homes and sought to eradicate the Greek minority in Turkey, commemorations are taking place. This was the often forgotten 1955 pogrom, one that conjures up memories of attacks on Jews across Eastern Europe in previous eras.
The attacks targeted Greeks and other minorities, including Jews and Armenians. It was part of the nationalist extremism that underpinned what was then an ostensibly secular Turkey. Sixty years later, Ankara’s far-right extremist governing party has once again used history to fan flames of tension with Greece, even as Turkish-backed extremists in Syria ethnically cleanse Kurds and Yazidis.
Aykan Erdemir at Politico writes that the attacks on Greeks in Turkey were planned by the Turkish government “to cleanse Istanbul of the approximately 100,000 Polites [Greeks].” These were some of the remaining Greek minority in Turkey after the conflict of 1915-1924, which saw most Greek and Christian minority communities ethnically cleansed from the country. This mass expulsion was part of a wider series of ethnic cleansing of minorities across Eastern Europe and the world in the first half of the 20th century.
However, the 1955 pogrom has generally been lost to memory. This may be because Ankara was needed as a Western NATO ally against the Soviets, and mentioning the crimes against minorities would tarnish its image. This was a time when in the US there was segregation, so Ankara’s abuses were not out of step with similar abuses by France and Algeria and the UK in suppressing the Mau Mau uprising during those years.
US tech giant Intel Corp. has picked an Israeli, Daniel Benatar, to be the second in command at its global manufacturing operations.
Benatar, who is currently the manager of Fab 28, Intel’s production facility in Kiryat Gat, Israel, has been named assistant general manager of Intel’s manufacturing global group, in addition to his role as a company vice president. This is the highest-ranking position ever awarded to an Israeli in Intel’s Manufacturing and Operations Organization, Intel said in a statement.
Benatar will fulfill his new global responsibility from Israel, where he will also continue to head the Kiryat Gat facility.
The appointment comes at a time when the US tech firm is mulling the outsourcing of the manufacturing of its chips.
Intel’s production facility in Kiryat Gat has recently undergone several upgrades with the technological evolution of the chip industry, including physical expansions. Intel Kiryat Gat employs 4,900 people, mostly in a peripheral region of Israel, Intel said in the statement.
Benatar joined Intel in 1993 as a diffusion engineer at the first facility Intel opened in Israel, in Jerusalem. Since then, he has fulfilled numerous engineering and management roles in the Manufacturing and Operations organization, including in the development of process technologies and upgrading facilities to large-scale manufacturing.
A nonprofit organization that aims to increase the involvement of Arabs in the technology sector has teamed up with the heads of Arab local authorities in setting out an NIS 800 million ($237 million) five-year plan to boost the number of Arab engineers to 20,000 within five years.
The strategy, set out together with consultant company Deloitte, will be presented to the government in the coming weeks, said Sami Saadi, the CEO of the nonprofit Tsofen, by phone. “This is a national mission, which aims to boost the tech industry in Israel and create growth areas around Arab cities and joint Jewish-Arab workspaces.”
If the government agrees to fund the project, as hoped, the investment could boost Israel’s GDP by some NIS 5 billion, Tsofen said, as it would tap into Arab citizens, currently vastly under-represented in the Israeli tech sector, and make them participants in the innovation bonanza. The idea is for the government to cough up the money and the local authorities, together with the relevant ministries, schools and universities, to bring it to fruition.
Israel “must take this opportunity we are presenting it with and understand, that if implemented, it could awaken huge changes in the economy, fruits of which we will see years from now,” said Saadi. But this can be attained only if Arabs are presented with the same opportunities that their Jewish counterparts have, he said.
The aim of the program is to boost the number of engineers to 20,000 from 8,000 today, and raise the average salary per household in the Arab sector to NIS 17,000 in five years from NIS 10,912 today.
Dean Kremer, the first Israeli citizen in American Major League Baseball, marked his first game pitching for the Baltimore Orioles Sunday with a 5-1 victory against the New York Yankees.
The 24-year-old Stockton, California, native struck out seven in six innings pitched in his major league debut at Camden Yards Stadium in Baltimore and called his first major league game a “dream come true.”
Wearing the number 64, Kremer joined the Orioles in 2018 and is hailed as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.
Orioles coach Brandon Hyde applauded Kremer’s performance. “Only allowing one run shows a lot about his character and composure,” he told the Baltimore Sun.
Kremer was born to Israeli parents and had his bar mitzvah in Israel. He competed in Team USA during the 2013 Maccabiah games (the so-called Jewish Olympics) and helped the team take home the gold. He previously played for Israel’s national baseball team for three years and was also named the European baseball championship’s most valuable pitcher.
With Israeli soccer star Eran Zahavi said to be in talks to sign up with Turkey’s Fenerbahçe SK club, a popular Instagram account issued a personal invitation, which the Israeli said he would accept if it got half a million likes.
Within hours, the post beat the target while riding on a wave of supportive responses from Turkey.
Zahavi’s agent said Sunday that the outpouring of affection from Turkish soccer fans was encouraging, but stressed that the player had not agreed to transfer to anywhere — yet.
On Saturday, Zahavi, 33, celebrated his scoring of an equalizer goal in Israel’s Nations League game against Scotland the day before, posting to his Instagram account: “It’s always special feeling to score in the national team.
The Dutch soccer-orientated social media agency 433 commented on his post with a simple invitation “Come to Fenerbahçe.”
Zahavi, who currently plays for Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese super league, responded “If your comment achieve[s] 500k :)” referring to the number of likes the post needed for him to agree to the offer.
When 433 wrote it would take up the challenge, Zahavi again responded, “Let’s try.”
By Sunday, the triumphant 433 posted on Instagram “We did it!” along with an image showing that the original post had received over 500,000 likes. The number kept growing, surpassing one million later in the day.
It is widely known that we are experiencing a climate crisis due to human-induced climate change. While climate change is a natural process, man-made choices and actions are accelerating this process and damaging our planet in different aspects.
Fortunately, pioneers in clean energy and sustainability are committed to improving methods of production to tackle many issues such as minimizing water use in agriculture, developing clean energy sources and producing ethical clothing.
Following are some of the many Israeli companies working hard to fight human-induced climate change and to implement more sustainable methods of consumption and production.
Tal-Ya Agriculture Solutions, founded in 2008, aims to tackle crop issues, such as water shortages and extreme weather conditions, with a patented polypropylene tray that enables farmers to harvest significantly more from each tree, faster.
The tray allows water to condense on its inner ceiling as it evaporates from the soil beneath it. As water is constantly circulating, this system makes water utilization highly efficient. This M-shaped tray collects irrigation water, rainwater and even dew, allowing it to run down the tray’s ridges directly to the center and into the soil and roots. This further enhances water utilization.
Back in March, Hadassah University Medical Center intensive care physician Dr. Akiva Nachshon saw that some European countries lacked enough ventilators for seriously ill Covid-19 patients. Proper breathing support for mild and moderate patients could prevent Israel from facing a similar situation, he reasoned.
However, the slow-oxygen nasal inhalation therapy devices that do the job best are in short supply because they cost about $15,000 (excluding consumables).
Nachshon’s biomedical engineer friend Shlomo Friedman suggested enlisting the help of Israeli carbonated drink machine maker SodaStream.
“They understand thermodynamics, gases and physics, and they have the necessary R&D infrastructure,” Friedman told Nachshon.
That’s what led to Stream02, an inexpensive alternative recently tested successfully at Hadassah’s Ein Kerem campus in Jerusalem. The inventors hope it will soon be approved for all Covid patients.
Nachshon explained that oxygen makes up 21 percent of the air we breathe. “Stream02 can give up to 100%. You can get 100% oxygen through regular nasal prongs, but the flow is extremely high and Covid-19 patients can’t tolerate it.”
The challenge was to make an affordable device that matches the efficiency of the expensive slow-oxygen system.
“The thermodynamics are complicated, but the concept is pretty simple,” he says.
The 36th Haifa International Film Festival will take place this year from October 3-10, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be just two days shorter than originally planned and will be held, as it always is, during the Sukkot holiday, its management announced Monday morning.
The mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, the Haifa Municipality and the managers of the film festival said they had made a joint decision to hold the festival this year and that all events and screenings would take place in accordance with the Health Ministry and Culture Ministry’s “purple tag” regulations for public gatherings.
In addition to screenings in the three halls in the Haifa Cinematheque complex, the festival films will be screened both online and outdoors in the festival garden at the Cinematheque complex. The festive opening night program will take place in the new Safe & Sound complex in the Ethos fields at the entrance to Haifa. The complex, which was built especially in accordance with the coronavirus restrictions, operates in capsules of up to 8 places in a row, with these places marked on about five dunams of grass-covered space in the open air. Advanced projection, amplification and lighting systems have been installed in this complex.
Some directors, actors and other film professionals will take part in the festival, both in person and via ZOOM meetings.
The plump, golden-brown dates, sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed retrieved from an archaeological site, had been slowly ripening for months at Kibbutz Ketura and were finally ready to pick.
They were tasty, with a fresh flavor that gave no hint of their two-millennium incubation.
Dr. Sarah Sallon, who researches natural medicine, had joined up with Elaine Solowey, an expert on arid agriculture, to germinate ancient seeds from archaeological sites in the Judean desert.
In antiquity, Judean date palms, prized for their quality, appeared as motifs in synagogues.
For the first time, an Israeli scholar has been recognized for promoting Catalan presence and culture around the world.
National Library of Israel director of rare books Dr. Idan Perez was awarded the Josep Maria Batista i Roca – Enric Garriga Trullols Memorial Prize for 2020 for his publication of the “Sidur Catalunya,” the first complete recreation of a prayer book used by the Jews of Catalonia, Valencia and Majorca before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
The choice of Perez and his siddur, or prayer book, also marks the first time in the prize’s 32-year history that the Institute for the External Projection of Catalan Culture (IPECC) has chosen to honor work related to the rich contributions of Jews to Catalonian culture over the centuries. IPECC is a founding member of The International Federation of Catalan Entities (FIEC), an umbrella organization for Catalan associations around the world.
“I feel that with this project I have helped bring about some historical justice. The Jewish community of Catalonia had first-rate scholars, and it is a pity that so few people know about this, and that the community has disappeared and been forgotten,” Perez told The Times of Israel in a recent interview.
Perez himself knew nothing of Catalonian Jews’ customs and traditions despite having been born, raised and educated in Barcelona.
“I thought all Sephardic Jews [Jews from Spain] were the same,” he said.
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