March 9, 2021

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09/08 Links Pt2: Israel, UAE to sign deal at White House ceremony next Tuesday; Where do you draw the line with anti-Semites?; Unpleasant news for Thomas Friedman

From Ian:

Israel, UAE to sign deal at White House ceremony next Tuesday
Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on September 15, a senior White House official confirmed to The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

US officials said senior delegations from both countries would likely be led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayad, the brother of the Abu Dhabi crown prince.

The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ceremony would either be held on the South Lawn, the Rose Garden or inside, depending on weather.

Netanyahu’s office issued a statement in the premier’s name on Tuesday evening confirming his attendance. “I am proud to travel to Washington next week, at the invitation of President Trump, and to attend the historic White House ceremony establishing the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” the prime minister said.

Numerous Arab diplomats, including from countries that don’t have formal ties with Israel, are expected to attend the ceremony, in a bid to show that the agreement enjoys widespread support, the Walla news site reported.

The ceremony will come just a month after the agreement to establish full diplomatic relations was announced on August 13. The deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to US President Donald Trump as he seeks reelection, and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

According to Walla, Israel and the US are still working toward a diplomatic breakthrough with another Arab state before the signing ceremony, though it is unclear if this will be possible.

Jonathan S. Tobin: Where do you draw the line with anti-Semites?

What do you think would happen if President Donald Trump decided to meet with the family of a shooting victim, and it turned out his father was a neo-Nazi? It would be front-page news in the country’s leading newspapers and be discussed pretty much continuously on CNN and MSNBC. Whatever the other circumstances surrounding the incident, such a meeting would be rightly seen as showing Trump’s indifference to hate.

What do you think would happen if his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, did something just like that? The mainstream media would ignore it. Those who brought up the issue or even asked questions about it would be branded as “right-wing” provocateurs or denounced as trying to divide the country on race.

That was what happened when Biden met last week with the family of Jacob Blake, an African-American man who was left paralyzed when he was shot by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., after resisting arrest.

Since the death of George Floyd, all incidents involving police shooting African-Americans have become the focus of intense scrutiny as the nation debates the questions of racism and alleged police brutality. Outrage about these shootings has propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to the center of public attention, as well as leading to protests, riots and violence.

In the days since the shooting of their son, both of Blake’s parents had made many public appearances. His father, Jacob Blake Sr., spoke at the March on Washington on Aug. 28 at which Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 event was commemorated. In his remarks, he pronounced America “guilty” of racism and other crimes in a speech that was widely broadcast and published in leading newspapers. Indeed, as The Washington Post put it, the Blake family represented the feelings of all African-Americans.

But a few days later, when the elder Blake’s views became known to the public, the same news media that was transfixed by his angry speech in Washington lost interest in him.

Unpleasant news for Thomas Friedman

Does the level of the Kinneret have anything to do with the prospects for peace in the Middle East? Thomas Friedman would like you to think that it does.

Friedman has been the foreign affairs op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 1995. That means that for the past 25 years, he has enjoyed one of the most prominent and influential platforms in public discourse. Not only are his columns read by movers and shakers around the world, but he is also frequently interviewed on national television and radio shows, and invited to speak at major public forums and events hosted by Jewish organizations that should know better.

I say “that should know better” because in his writings about Israel, Friedman sometimes crosses the line in ways that would earn other pundits pariah status in the Jewish world. In 2004, he wrote that Israel “had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office.” In 2011, Friedman claimed that the standing ovations Israel’s prime minister received in Congress were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” In 2013, he asserted that “many American lawmakers [will] do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.”

Despite those Pat Buchanan-like sentiments, Friedman has managed to maintain his status as a prominent opinion-shaper. Partly that’s because as long as he has the imprimatur of The New York Times, he is considered legitimate. Partly it’s because every once in a while, Friedman writes something mildly critical of the Palestinian Arab leadership; that gives him a fig leaf to pretend that he is “even-handed” and not an Israel-basher.

So, Friedman is taken seriously in many quarters when he periodically proffers some new Arab-Israeli “peace plan.” Since all of his plans involve Israel retreating to its nine-miles-wide pre-1967 borders—what diplomat Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders”—the only way Friedman can pitch his latest version as “new” is to come up with some new reason why the plan is (supposedly) so urgent.

Earlier this year, Friedman wrote that climate change should be the urgent new factor in Mideast diplomacy. Mother Nature will overwhelm the various political and military conflicts, he declared. His proof? “In the summer of 2018, the Sea of Galilee was so low from droughts and water withdrawals for rising populations that it was threatening to become another saline lake, like the Dead Sea.”

The solution, according to Friedman, is to pressure Israel to permit the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state—and then Israel, Jordan and “Palestine” can form “a confederation of their sovereign entities based on sea and sun.”

Ironically, less than a year before Friedman unveiled his sea-and-sun plan, a headline in Ha’aretz (no doubt Friedman’s favorite Israeli newspaper, given its slant) announced: “Lake Kinneret Is the Fullest It’s Been in Five Years, and There’s More to Come.”

What can Israel teach the world? – opinion

The following is an abridged, edited excerpt from the introduction of the new book ISResilience: What Israelis Can Teach the World by Michael Dickson and Dr. Naomi L. Baum, now available to pre-order at

National symbols can provide a shortcut for understanding national character. The English are identified with the rose. The French are represented by the fleur-de-lis. Holland is associated with the tulip. Israelis have the cactus.

To be more precise, Israelis are often referred to as Sabras. A sabra is a cactus plant, and like the prickly pear, Sabras are known for their thorny exterior and their soft, sweet interior. Israelis are, by and large, proud of this description.

In his book The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew, sociologist Oz Almog explores the idea that the generation of Israelis born to the pioneers of the nascent, reborn State of Israel were both tough and self-assured, a product of nurture rather than nature.

Presumably, the DNA of the inhabitants of the modern state was not so different from that of their immigrant parents or their Israeli forebears who remained in the land for millennia, even as so many were dispersed abroad. Yet the net result was a sea change.

Israelis have had to be tough. Located in the most dangerous of regions, Israel is a tiny country, just nine miles wide at its narrowest point. The world’s only Jewish country, Israel has historically been surrounded by hostile states, with some bent on its destruction. More than 3,000 years old and just several decades young, Israel is an amalgam of the ancient and the modern.

The challenges that the reborn State of Israel has faced since its inception in 1948 are enormous. These include conventional war, terrorism, the absorption of millions of immigrants from different parts of the globe, and a concerted effort by regional enemies and their global allies to malign, sideline, and isolate the only truly free, democratic nation-state in the region.

Despite constant polls ranking Israelis among the “happiest” of world populations, life in Israel is insecure. Centuries of persecution have taught Israelis not to rely on others to rush to their defense. The modern State of Israel has held an outstretched arm of peace to enemies since its rebirth, and yet Israel is unable to fully trust the peace treaties it has already signed and the others that it so desperately seeks.

In a region where one Middle Eastern dictator in the morning might be replaced by another in the afternoon, life is uncertain at best. It is a biting, yet achingly true characterization of the very real threats continually faced by the Jewish state that the only people Israelis can truly depend on are themselves, something they have learned from experience.

Leila Khaled, the Terrorist who Hijacked the Heart of the Left

Leila Khaled became involved in the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) and a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC). Her image as a feminist, is puzzling at best. It is an invention and wishful thinking on the side of western feminists. Khaled rejected her feminist image in an interview to Ibrahim Alloush of the Free Arab Voice: “Other women from some parts of the world tell us that we can unite on the issue of our sexual oppression. Everywhere you look in the text, or the program of action, you’ll find the word ‘sex.’ You’ll find sex here, and you’ll find it there. It’s there to discuss sexual abuse one time, then again to discuss sexual tourism. The point is to de-politicize the question of women, and affirm that women can unite just as women.”

She also told The Guardian that “sexual abuse is the problem of individuals, regardless of how rampant, whereas occupation is the problem of whole peoples.” Khaled sees women’s emancipation through the lens of a Marxist revolution. When society changes, women’s issues will be no more.

Perhaps the most telling comment made by Khaled is when a civil war broke out in Syria, and her allegiance was to the regime and it’s army. In 2011, the PFLP-GC was based in Yarmouk and supported Syria’s Ba’ath Party and Assad. In a demonstration by anti-Assad Palestinian residents, PFLP-GC members opened-fire on the crowd, killing 14 Palestinians and wounding 43, after some demonstrators burned offices of the Front. On August 3rd, 2012, over 21 civilians were killed when the Syrian Army shelled Yarmouk. On December 16th, 2012, Syrian Army jets bombed Yarmouk. Activists reported that a school and mosque sheltering refugees were hit, killing 23 civillians. On January 17th, 2013, 12 people were killed and 20 wounded during fighting in Yarmouk.

When asked directly about Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp, in 2013, she said: “FSA with Al Qaeda and gangs attacked the camp, loot the houses of Palestininans and the offices of the Palestinian political groups. The raids were forcing them to retreat from the camp, and when we demanded Syrian government to stop the raids, they did. But we also called FSA to retreat from the camp but they break their promises. And killed Palestinians who want to return their home”.

Yarmouk remained besieged and sporadic clashes continued. As a result of the Syrian forces siege, approximately 200 people were believed to have died of hunger in 2014. In 2002, there were 112,550 registered refugees living in Yarmouk, today, only 100–200 Palestinians are left.

Leila Khaled sets herself as a revolutionary fighter for Palestinians, but not against the Syrian army or even the PFLP-GC bombing and killing of her people. Leila Khaled is hailed as the woman who never hurt anyone, yet the death of thousands through two intifadas were not successful in her mind due to not enough violence. Leila Khaled is a feminist icon who has nothing to say of Muslim women under Islamic law apart from believing a marxist revolution will solve all of our problems, and Israeli occupation is more oppressive to women than the ruling powers dictating these women’s lives daily. Leila Khaled is a secular marxist who has no issue talking openly and publicly about uniting the PLO, which includes extremist religious forces who are responsible to thousands of civilians deaths on both the Israeli and Palestinian side. It is time for the left to find better heroes.

Haringey councillor suspended from Labour Party after alleged antisemitic Facebook posts

The Ham&High received screenshots of comments made and articles shared by the former Haringey cabinet member Cllr Noah Tucker on his private Facebook account.

Cllr Tucker said he is an “opponent of racism in all its forms including antisemitism” and that his social media posts have been “selectively edited” in the screenshots sent to this newspaper.

One includes a Morning Star article which claimed US police officers “responsible for the killing of George Floyd received training in restraint techniques and anti-terror tactics from Israeli law enforcement officers” when it was initially published on June 1.

Weeks later, once already shared by Cllr Tucker, the article was amended to remove reference to “restraint techniques”.

In a separate Facebook comment, the St Ann’s councillor called the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ ten recommendations to tackle antisemitism in the Labour Party “beyond ridiculous”.

After anti-Semitic content, GOP candidate has post removed for inciting violence

Facebook removed a photo illustration showing a Republican congressional candidate in Georgia posing with a rifle next to three Democratic House members, saying Friday that it violated the social media platform’s policy against inciting violence.

The illustration, a montage of four photos, was posted Thursday by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a candidate who has previously courted controversy with her support of a baseless conspiracy theory involving US President Donald Trump and her inflammatory remarks about two Muslim congresswomen.

Greene is favored to win election in a deeply conservative district northwest of Atlanta. She faces Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal in the general election.

Greene’s post featured four separate photos that had been combined to show her posing with a rifle next to Democratic US Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. The three left-wing congresswomen, known as part of “the Squad,” are often targeted by Republicans. Omar and Tlaib are two of only three Muslim members of Congress. Ocasio-Cortez is Hispanic.

“Hate America leftists want to take this country down,” Greene wrote, later adding, “We need strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart.”

Facebook said the post violated its policy against calling for violence. Omar said the post was generating death threats.

“Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of color is not advertising,” she said in a statement. “It’s incitement.”

New Israeli film projects AIPAC’s steady drift from idealistic bipartisan roots

It is fair to call director Mor Loushy’s films critical of Israel. The documentarian’s first feature, “Israel Ltd.,” took a skeptical look at the Israel Experience tour program aimed at Diaspora youth. “Censored Voices” dug up audio recordings made by IDF soldiers immediately after the Six Day War that do not exactly jibe with the greater narrative of that military triumph. She next co-directed “The Oslo Diaries,” which also revealed never-before-seen footage of harried peace negotiators.

“I am a Zionist. I love this place,” Loushy tells The Times of Israel via Zoom from Israel. “My work,” she continues, “comes out of love, dedication, and from being worried about what kind of future we are leaving for my children.”

Her newest, “The Kings of Capitol Hill,” is less about unearthed imagery and more about looking at facts that are hiding in plain sight. Her subject is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and it is basically a biopic of the powerful, and increasingly controversial lobbying group.

The film traces AIPAC’s arc and just had its premiere at the virtual DocAviv Festival where is still available for viewing through September 15. It will then be broadcast by YesDocu in Israel before traveling worldwide.

The lobbying group began, the film argues, as an existential necessity during Israel’s early years and became a peace-minded force of goodwill in the 1970s and early 1980s. But according to the film, it has since evolved into an arm of the right wing.

This, Loushy shows, is a contradiction of AIPAC’s initial goal of bipartisanship. Additionally, the film contends, this is a failure of representation: AIPAC’s aims do not mirror those of the bulk of American Jewry. There’s also way too much money involved.

Fighting words! And Loushy knows it. But the film, which I have seen, threads the needle effectively.

Why does HBO’s anti-racist ‘Lovecraft Country’ stumble into anti-Semitic tropes?

Like more than 1 million Americans in each of the last three weeks, I’ve been appreciating “Lovecraft Country,” the new HBO series that adds monsters and other fantasy elements to the real-life horror stories faced by Black Americans.

The show’s main characters are all Black, and the white characters are either members of a secret society or racist sheriffs and cross-burning neighbors.

So I was surprised Sunday night to hear a typically Jewish last name applied to a character whose only appearance was as a ghost — and whose story instantly evoked one of history’s most durable anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Hiram Epstein, the episode reveals, was a University of Chicago scientist who conducted gruesome experiments on Black children and adults in the basement of the Winthrop House, a decrepit mansion in a white neighborhood that a main character, Leti Lewis, purchases and renovates. His spirit haunts the home, making it unsafe for Leti and her tenants and friends, until an exorcism summons the mutilated bodies of his victims and restores psychic order.

Epstein’s story calls to mind the way that Jews have been accused for centuries of stealing the blood of non-Jewish children to use in religious rituals, often to make matzah for Passover, in what is known as a “blood libel.” The blood libel charge was leveled routinely at Jews beginning in the Middle Ages, and it was used to justify countless deadly pogroms and vigilante actions. A blood libel charge tore apart an upstate New York town in 1928, and the trope featured prominently in Nazi propaganda.

Senior BBC producer admits sharing ‘inaccurate’ pro-Palestinian propaganda on Twitter

A senior BBC producer, currently working on a new documentary critical of Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, has admitted sharing “inaccurate” pro-Palestinian propaganda on social media.

Rosie Garthwaite confirmed to the JC she had “un-retweeted” a false map illustration from her personal Twitter page that dramatically over-stated alleged Palestinian land loss to Israel.

The JC also discovered that the 40 year-old journalist and author has shared several other false or controversial claims about Israel on social media – including attacking “British duplicity” over the signing of the Balfour Declaration, wrongly suggesting Gaza’s “one” border is controlled by Israel and retweeting an article from the notorious Middle East Eye publication describing controversial activist Ahed Tamimi as an “icon for Palestinian resistance”.

Last week new BBC Director General Tim Davie warned journalists at the corporation of the introduction of strict new laws on their use of Twitter and other social media in order to stop rows over impartiality.

Oxford educated Ms Garthwaite – who has worked for BBC2’s Newsnight, Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live in the past – is currently producing a new BBC documentary looking into the activities of Israel’s Elad and City of David organisations in East Jerusalem.

Last Friday, the JC contacted the Oxford University educated TV producer over a January post on her Twitter page featuring an image of four different maps, under the headline ‘The Palestinian Historic Compromise.’

BBC producer admits documentary examines ‘settling Jews in occupied land’

A senior BBC producer who is currently working on a documentary focused on Israeli activities within east Jerusalem has been accused of not being impartial in her research. She is also found to have posted anti-Israel content to her social media accounts.

Rosie Garthwaite, who has in the past worked on the BBC’s flagship news program Newsnight and for BBC Radio 4, as well as Al Jazeera, has made a number of posts accusing Israel of appropriating land from the Palestinians, and for keeping Palestinians confined in Gaza, The Jewish Chronicle has revealed.

In January, Garthwaite retweeted a tweet which contained an image of four maps claiming to show how Palestinian territory had diminished over the last century. The maps had previously been held up at a press conference by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in response to America’s unveiling of a peace plan for the region, which would see Israel be given some areas within the West Bank in exchange for land within Israel.

However, the maps were erroneous – the first claimed that all of what is currently Israel, Gaza and the West Bank was formerly “Palestine,” even though no such territory has ever existed. The last showed the map as it currently stands, but with about a third of the West Bank within Israel’s purview, with no mention of the reciprocity contained within of the plan.

Garthwaite was approached by the JC and asked why she chose to share the maps on her page. A BBC spokesman replied on her behalf: “Rosie has actually un-retweeted that map you refer to, she realized it was inaccurate.”

Travel Website Expedia Corrects Error Claiming Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport Is ‘Near Israeli Settlement, Palestinian Territories’

The online travel booking company Expedia updated its website last week to correctly identify Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport as being located in Israel after a mistake on the site resulted in the company being accused of “anti-Israel propaganda.”

A screenshot shared on Twitter by the Jewish organization StandWithUs on Sept. 2 showed that when the first three letters of “Israel” were typed into the search bar on Expedia’s website, the results include Tel Aviv — meaning Ben-Gurion International Airport, the city’s only airport. However the airport’s location is listed as “Near Israeli Settlement, Palestinian Territories,” not Israel.

StandWithUs claimed that the inaccuracy promoted “anti-Israel propaganda,” while StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein wrote on Twitter, “@Expedia please fix this. It was probably written and posted by a disgruntled employee using their position to post their ideology. Our members are contacting us and would like to know why this is still up.”

Expedia replied to StandWithUs’ tweet the following day, saying, “Thank you for raising this issue. Expedia is committed to providing accurate information to travelers globally, and the team has updated the location information for this airport.”

Reviewing BBC amplification of the notion of ‘betrayed’ Palestinians

As we see, for over two and a half weeks BBC audiences repeatedly heard that the Palestinians had been ‘stabbed in the back’, ‘betrayed’ and ‘sidelined’ by an agreement portrayed as ‘treason’ and described as breaching ‘Arab solidarity’ and ‘promises’ supposedly made in ‘previous peace plans’.

Interestingly, in all that time BBC audiences were not provided with a realistic portrait of the unilateral 2002 Saudi initiative which, as the corporation itself reported at the time, was deemed a ‘non-starter’ by Israel from the outset, not least because its various ‘take it or leave it’ conditions included the ‘return’ of Palestinians to Israel.

Neither did the BBC make any effort to remind its audiences of the opportunities for resolution of the conflict which were serially rejected by the Palestinians over the years, including the Olmert offer and the earlier Clinton proposal.

In the absence of that relevant context, the BBC’s repetitive but unquestioning amplification of Palestinian framing of this story does not contribute to audience understanding of the reasons why – as one leading Israeli analyst put it soon after the agreement was announced – “the Arab world has changed, the Palestinian narrative has not”.

“Palestinians lost a great deal last week. They weren’t “betrayed,” as some PA leaders have complained, but simply left behind. They didn’t lose vital allies who cared deeply for their cause, but one-time supporters who still vaguely support them but are tired of the intractability of their cause.”

Unfortunately for BBC audiences, those bringing them Middle East news appear to be quite content to amplify by rote trite PLO talking points rather than providing the “range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers” that the BBC’s public purposes pledge.

Daily Mail refers to antisemitic BLM UK tweet as merely ‘anti-Israel’

A Daily Mail article in the Sept. 6th print edition (“Players Split Over BLM”) included the following:
…a series of tweets from a Black Lives Matter UK’ account included anti-Israel messages

However, the tweet in question wasn’t merely “anti-Israel”, but, as Campaign Against Antisemitism and other UK Jewish groups correctly observed, was antisemitic.

Here’s the tweet:

The tweet promotes the antisemitic trope that Jews exercise a dangerous degree of control over their country’s political system, such that the right to criticise Israel is stifled. The IHRA working definition defines as antisemitic conspiratorial accusations about “Jewish power”, including the charge that “Jews control the media, economy, government or other societal institutions”.

Finally, it’s telling that BLM UK responded to widespread criticism over their tweet by complaining, in an article on their website, that they were victims of right-wing “media antisemitism slurs” – evoking a variation of defence often used by Corbyn’s apologists during the Labour antisemitism crisis. The group also used the article to insist that it was still “not known” whether George Floyd died because of restraint methods taught by Israeli police, when, in fact, that conspiratorial accusation has been thoroughly debunked and discredited.

We complained to Daily Mail editors over their misleading characterisation of the BLM UK tweet.

Lost in Translation AFP Misleads That Gaza Crossing Closed, Fuel Deliveries Halted

An Agence France Presse article yesterday, “Virus cases spike in Israel-blockaded Gaza: ministry,” misleadingly stated that Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip was closed last month, preventing fuel deliveries to the coastal territory, but neglected to note that the crossing has since been reopened and fuel deliveries have resumed.

Thus, the article misled: “Amid the fighting, Israel tightened its Gaza blockade by closing the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and stopping fuel deliveries, exacerbating Gaza’s daily power outages.”

However, as the French version of the same article noted, the crossing opened again just over a week ago. AFP’s French article reported (translation by InfoEquitable):
The Hebrew state had then decided to tighten its blockade by stopping fuel deliveries, resulting in the closure of the only power plant in Gaza for two weeks. The enclave was then deprived of electricity for most of the day, as were its hospitals, until an agreement was reached with Hamas at the end of August. Schools, mosques and markets are still closed to fight against the spread of the virus.

Similarly, AFP’s Arabic article yesterday also rightly noted that on Sept. 1 Israel “Israel announced the opening of the commercial Karm Abu Salem Crossing.” (Translation by CAMERA Arabic.)

In a separate article, AFP had rightly reported in English on Aug. 31:
COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said in a statement that after “efforts to calm the situation”, it would “resume the routine activity of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, including the entry of fuel products”, starting Tuesday.

Journalist Mike Carlton won’t be stripped of award despite comments about Jews

Journalist Mike Carlton will not be stripped of the Order of Australia award, organisers have said, despite criticism of his past derogatory remarks about Jews.

The controversial commentator was the subject of a complaint alleging racial vilification of Jews six years ago after his column about Israel in the Sydney Morning Herald led Jewish leaders to deride it as racist.

Carlton has also made derogatory past comments about women but Shane Stone, who chairs the awards committee, said the decisions had been reviewed and that “no further recommendation” would be made to the governor-general.

After his column criticising Israeli action in Gaza in 2014, Carlton said he was “subjected to a fortnight of abuse from people calling me a Nazi sympathiser to a slimy Jew hater, with some threats of violence”. In response, he told them to “f*** off”, which earned him a reprimand from bosses.

French Court Convicts Man for Antisemitic Assault on Young Muslim in Process of Converting to Judaism

A court in France passed sentence on Monday on one of the men involved in a violent antisemitic assault last week on a young Algerian Muslim who was in the process of converting to Judaism.

The assailant — a 21-year-old homeless man — will serve a one-year prison sentence for his part in the attack on the victim, a 26-year-old named Younes who gave an extensive interview about his ordeal to the news outlet Le Parisien.

The attack occurred on the evening of Sept 2. as Younes was walking to his home in the Aubervilliers suburb of Paris. Spotting the Star of David necklace Younes was wearing, three men approached him, and one of them yelled in Arabic, “Dirty Jew, give us your money!”

Younes was then robbed of his necklace, his wallet and his phone. As they rounded on him, one of the men poked Younes in the chest with the tip of a knife, drawing blood.

As the three assailants left the scene, Younes decided to pursue them. Seeing one of the assailants entering a fast food restaurant, Younes followed him inside, where he explained that the man had robbed him and asked other customers to call the police. None of those present responded to his appeal, leading Younes to reflect in his interview, “I think they were afraid of reprisals.”

Moments later, a passing police patrol arrested one of the attackers, named as Mohammed. Prior to his sentencing on Monday, Mohammed reportedly apologized to his victim in court.

Wisconsin Man Facing Hate Crime Charge After Calling Neighbor ‘Dirty Jew’ Over Biden Election Sign

A Wisconsin man has been charged with a hate crime after he bellowed antisemitic slurs at his neighbors because of a sign in their yard supporting Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden.

According to a criminal complaint published on Sept. 3, 49-year-old Gregory Kirst was charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with disorderly conduct with a hate crime enhancer, which increases the maximum penalty to a $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to one year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported over the weekend.

Kirst — a resident of the city of Mequon, northwest of Milwaukee — clashed with his neighbors over the sign on Aug. 30. During the middle of the evening, he walked across the street with his daughter and removed the sign. He then yelled at the female inhabitant of the house through a screen door, proffering his middle finger when she ordered him to leave her property.

When the woman’s husband confronted him outside, Kirst called him a “dirty Jew” and blamed Jews for causing the riots in Portland, Oregon.

Kirst eventually left the neighbor’s property and returned to his house, where he used a large piece of white cloth to create a sign that said “Jews for Trump,” which he then displayed on his front lawn.

Kirst repeatedly refused to leave his home when Mequon police arrived. He denied removing the neighbor’s sign or engaging in any kind of altercation.

Another neighbor eventually convinced Kirst to come out of his house to be arrested.

Kirst is next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 17.

UK pro-Israel lawyer faked graffiti attack to frame pro-Palestinian group

British pro-Israel attorney Matthew Berlow is facing fines and criticism for faking a graffiti attack on his home in order to discredit a Scottish pro-Palestinian organization, the Daily Record reported on Monday.

Berlow had originally faked an attack on his home in order to frame the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC).

This was done when pro-Palestinian activist Stevie Harrison wrote a post on social media to highlight the graffiti attack.

“A certain Jewish lawyer woke up this morning to find ‘Free Palestine’ spray-painted rather ­prominently – no idea who was responsible,” the post read, followed by multiple winking emojis.

In response, Berlow commented: “Idiocy. Typical SPSC behaviour criminal.”

Harrison, however, doesn’t exist. He was a fake Facebook profile created by pro-Israel activist Ed Sutherland in January 2019 in order to infiltrate the SPSC, the newspaper reported.

Sutherland, like Berlow, is a member of the pro-Israel advocacy group Friends of Israel.

When questioned as part of a probe by the Law Society of Scotland (LSS), Berlow confessed the incident was faked. However, he went along with it as part of an attempt “to monitor various ­disruptive activities of the SPSC” through the use of Harrison.

In response, a court fined Berlow £500, ruling that he did not maintain behavioral standards expected from an attorney, the Daily Record reported.

Outrage Over Nazi Image on Display at Volkswagen Dealership in Mexico

German car giant Volkswagen apologized on Monday after a customer at one of its showrooms in Mexico tweeted a photograph of Nazi imagery on the walls that quickly went viral.

Fernanda Martinez, a writer based in Mexico City, photographed the offending image during a visit to the Volkswagen showroom in Coyoacán on Saturday. A stylized photograph of a Nazi rally being addressed by Adolf Hitler was hanging from the wall.

Martinez tweeted the photo with an appeal to Volkswagen to act.

“The fact that their historical memory is an apology for racism causes sadness and deep concern,” she wrote.

In a response posted the following day, the car manufacturer said that the image did not correspond to its “corporate image” and action would be taken.

“We have a history that we have learned from,” the company said on its Mexican Twitter feed. “We value respect, fairness, inclusion and freedom. We do not tolerate manifestations of hatred and discrimination. The images do not correspond to our corporate image or that of the distributors. We will take action.”

In a letter to Steffen Reiche — president of Volkswagen’s operation in Mexico — the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) urged the company to cut ties with the dealership where the Nazi imagery was spotted.

In face of ongoing pandemic, New England March of the Living holds online event

Chair of New England Friends of the March of the Living Irv Kempner has led dozens of delegations to Poland and Israel, and believes the trips are a key factor in conveying the span of the Holocaust’s reach. After this year’s gathering was cancelled due to COVID-19, Kempner’s organization decided to hold a virtual tribute set for this Wednesday evening, September 9.

“We bring students to Poland and Israel so they can understand the scope of what it means to lose such a large part of our family in the Holocaust,” said Kempner, a retired vice president at Gillette. In 2018, he co-authored a book about his father, David Kempner, and the destroyed Jewish community of Kalisz, Poland.

When Kempner is with thousands of young adults at Auschwitz-Birkenau each spring, he makes a comparison so participants can grasp the scope of the Holocaust. Kempner tells students that a crowd of their size — some 14,000 people — was “processed” in a single day of operations at Auschwitz-Birkenau. During the Holocaust, a million Jews were murdered in several gas chamber-crematoria complexes built for the largest German Nazi death camp in occupied Poland.

In 32 years, 260,000 participants from 52 countries have participated in the two-week March of the Living journey through Poland and Israel. But this spring, the familiar sight of thousands of young Jews with Israeli flags marching between Auschwitz and Birkenau did not take place, nor did participants fly to Israel from Krakow and Warsaw.

Israel to Establish a National Laboratory to Study Covid-19 and Future Life-Threatening Viruses

Due to the urgent need for research on the coronavirus (Covid-19) and the obstacles preventing civilian researchers from accessing the advanced laboratories of the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona, the government has decided to set up a new national laboratory for the study of viruses.

The lab is expected to start operations later this year out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at a cost of NIS 4 million ($1.2 million). The lab will be funded by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance, and the university itself.

“We believe that we will have to cope with other pathogens after the coronavirus and we haven’t got that beat yet either,” Nadav Cohen, head of the defense ministry’s research and technological development unit of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (Mafat) said. “It will be an especially well-guarded facility that will enable researchers to conduct tests on live coronavirus samples and study the virus’ behavior. The lab will serve Israel’s scientific and defense community.”

The new lab will be built according to the strict BSL-3 standard, equipped with a special air conditioning system that operates at lower air pressure than the surrounding environment so that nothing can spread outwards. It will also be equipped with advanced testing and experimentation tools and scientists using it will be provided with high-level protective gear.

Around the world, there exists only one standard of labs that is higher, BSL-4, which is mainly in use in the US and Russia, where scientists work on the types of viruses that pose a risk to public safety, such as the Ebola virus.

Israel ranks 3rd on list of 2020’s most popular countries for vegans

Israel was third on Chef’s Pencil’s top countries for vegans in 2020, ranking behind the UK and Australia.

Over 5% of Israelis say they are vegan, and the country’s vegan-friendly culture and its plethora of plant-based cuisine options have brought Israel to the forefront of discussions surrounding its vegan dominance.

However, the Mediterranean diet provides most of the allure of the vegan cuisine offered in Israel, not the disposition of its citizens toward meat products.

“Unique to this newly formed country is the mix of the traditional Mediterranean diet of the area and the strict dietary laws of kosher food – the separation of meat, dairy, and parve, which is pretty much vegan apart from the fish gelatin and honey, which means it has been easy to embrace veganism,” Chef’s Pencil said.

Additionally, the constant influx and mix of immigrant cultures adds a different flavor to street vegan food, and adds a distinguishing factor to the surrounding culture while adding to its popularity.

“With less than half the population being native to the region, the immigrant mindset of looking for something new has to be a big reason veganism has become so popular,” the website said.

84-year-old Israeli the first Jew to reclaim Austrian citizenship

A Vienna-born Israeli man who left Austria 76 years ago at the age of 8 became the first Jew to receive Austrian citizenship under a new law that allows those who were persecuted by the Nazi regime and their direct descendants to obtain Austrian citizenship without giving up their current passports.

Ben Zion Lapid, 84, received his official passport at the Austrian embassy in Israel September 4, days after the new law went into effect. Thousands of Jews around the world are expected to apply for Austrian citizenship under the new law.

Lapid told the Austrian newspaper Der Standard that his grandchildren urged him to reclaim his Austrian citizenship.

“I’m in the autumn of my life, I don’t care who or how I am, but I want to leave something to my four children and eight grandchildren. You can now also become Austrians, and if you ever have to leave here and need refuge, then you have a place,” Lapid said he told his family.

“For me it comes full circle. … I didn’t go of my own will; I was a child. Israel is my home, of course, but it’s also something like coming home. Because I still speak German and I’m interested in what’s happening in Austria. And because my brother lives in Austria,” he told the newspaper. “Now I’m coming back as Ben Zion Lapid after 76 years.”

Lapid fled Austria with his mother in 1946, residing in Slovenia and Italy before boarding a crowded boat for Mandatory Palestine. The British intercepted the boat and he spent nine months in a refugee camp in Cyprus, separated from his mother, before being smuggled into Israel. He was later reunited with his mother.

Amar’e Stoudemire: A Role Model for the Jewish People

Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire’s very public conversion to Judaism, and his life as an Orthodox Jew, is extraordinary.

Stoudemire began his Jewish journey many years ago, when he was playing for the New York Knicks. It was then that he began wearing tzitzit (ritual fringe), studying Jewish books, and fasting on Yom Kippur. He eventually joined a yeshiva, Ohr Somayach, where he engaged in intensive study that led to his recent conversion.

What makes his conversion, which he announced on Twitter, so remarkable is the great lengths that he has gone to since his challenging childhood. His mother was in and out of prison during his early years; from the age of 12, he grew up without a father around as well.

He attended five different high schools. And though he only started playing organized basketball at the age of 14, he was considered the number one high-school player when he was 18. Forfeiting college, he was recruited straight out of high school by the Phoenix Suns as the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. I lived in Phoenix at the time, and Stoudemire immediately became my favorite player on the Suns.

Stoudemire endured many misfortunes. His older brother tragically died in a car accident. He himself suffered a serious eye injury that required him to lie face down on a bed for 22 hours a day for two weeks, and he wore goggles after that every time he played. Both his knees also were injured, requiring microfracture surgery. This hindered his playing ability and shortened his NBA career, which ended in 2016. Yet he still managed to make six NBA All-Star games, as well as earn All-NBA selections and one first-team All-NBA, which means he was considered one of the five best players in the NBA.

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