September 23, 2019

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09/11 Links Pt2: Danny Lewin H’yd: The very first victim of 9/11; In Her New Book on Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss Bravely States the Obvious; Why Israeli TV is irresistible to American producers

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2019/09/0911-links-pt2-danny-lewin-hyd-very.html

From Ian:


Awakening feelings about 9/11
As we began Kabbalat Shabbat, I asked everyone to rise and the Cantor led us in the “Star Spangled Banner.” Since our synagogue, like most in the US has an American flag proudly displayed, we all turned and looked at it. Some saluted. Some put their hands over their hearts. Some war veterans wore their caps for the service, and some people cried – both women and men. Those moments were parallel to what was going on the city where almost every block had an American flag flying.

When I took the pulpit, I first asked everyone to rise and recite the Kaddish mourner’s prayer for the nephew of a doctor in our congregation. The young man in his 30s had been killed in the Pentagon where he worked. Most people have forgotten that Washington, DC, was a major target. The only place the first plane was able to hit was the Pentagon. The plane, which the assailants took over before the passengers overpowered them, was headed for the White House. The passengers triumphed over these terrorists.

Sadly, the plane went down and everyone aboard was killed.

I read from President Bush’s address to the nation the night of 9/11. Then I added a few of my own thoughts.

“I feel today that we are one nation – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, black and white and brown. We are one nation, indivisible, united in our fear and outrage. Our compassion and resolve from now on September 11 will be a second Memorial Day in honor of our civilian casualties of war.

“Each of us is a reservoir of hope and strength. Surely we all saw hope in the firefighters who stood in burning debris, with boots melting, trying so hard to find more survivors. That hope should be a part of all our lives. We must do what we can to help. Ve’im lo achshav, aymatai? If not now, when?”

Then I asked everyone present to rise, and we offered a prayer for America and for all of us. As we stood, we sang “Hatikvah” as we looked proudly at the Israeli flag. On this 9/11 eighteen years later, let us pray that terrorism will be combated and peace will reign.

StandWithUs: Remember their names

2,977 men, women and children lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. We remember their names. We mourn the lives that could have been.

Danny Lewin H’yd: The very first victim of 9/11

Danny Lewin, veteran of the IDF’s elite commando team, outstanding graduate of Israel’s Technion and MIT PhD student at MIT will be forever remembered for his attempt to prevent the hijacking of Flight 11, becoming the very first victim of 9/11.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Danny Lewin boarded American Airlines Flight No. 11 in Boston, expecting to reach Los Angeles. Instead, the flight was hijacked and commandeered by Arab terrorists, crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On that fateful flight, Danny Lewin became the very first victim of the largest terrorist attack in history in which almost 3,000 Americans died. An internal memorandum of the Federal Aviation Administration says “that in the course of a struggle that took place between Lewin, a graduate of Israel’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, and the four hijackers who were assaulting that cockpit, Lewin was murdered by Satam Al Suqami, a 25-year-old Saudi.”

Sometime after the attack, the Lewin family in Jerusalem received a telephone call from the FBI offices in New York. On the line was the agent responsible for the investigation of the attack on Flight 11. He told Danny’s parents that there is a high degree of certainty that Danny tried to prevent the hijacking. The FBI relied, among other things, on the testimony of the stewardess Amy Sweeney.

Sweeney succeeded in clandestinely getting a call out during the flight to a flight services supervisor in Boston, from the rear of the plane: “A hijacker slit the throat of a passenger in business class and the passenger appears to me to be dead.” To this day the American investigators are not convinced that Danny Lewin was murdered on the spot. An additional stewardess, Betty Ong, who succeeded in calling from a telephone by one of the passenger seats, said that the passenger who was attacked from business class seat 10B was seriously wounded. It turned out that 10B was the seat of Danny Lewin.

The Lewin family, Danny’s parents and brothers, have no doubt that Danny battled the hijackers. And it is for them a tremendous consolation. “I wasn’t surprised to hear from the FBI that Danny fought. I was sure that this is what he would do,” Yonatan, his younger brother, said. “Danny didn’t sit quietly. From what we heard from the Americans, the hijackers attacked one of the stewardesses and Danny rose to protect her and prevent them from entering the cockpit. It is a consolation to us that Danny fought. We see it as an act of heroism that a person sacrifices his life in order to save others. That battle in the business section ended quickly. Lewin was overcome and bled to death on the floor. Two additional flight attendants were knifed and the captain was murdered. The hijackers were already inside the cockpit. They announced to the passengers to remain quiet in their seats.

Clifford D. May: Another unhappy 9/11 anniversary

Eighteen years is a long time. If you were born 18 years ago, you are today a young adult, old enough to find a job, begin college, enlist in the military, and vote for the first time. You also should know what happened in 2001, the year you were born. But, given the state of America’s educational system, I’m not confident you do. So let me briefly fill you in.

Back then, the Soviet socialist experiment had collapsed ending the Cold War which had followed World War II which had followed a decade of economic depression which came 11 years after the end of World War I.

That led to the belief – naïve but widely held – that there was a “new normal,” that Americans could cash a “peace dividend,” that whatever differences remained among the world’s peoples could now be resolved through diplomacy, commercial relations, and the intercession of transnational bureaucrats.

Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, a sparkling late summer morning, enemies of America hijacked four passenger jets and turned them into guided missiles.

Two planes brought down the World Trade Center, symbol of America’s economic might. One struck the Pentagon, headquarters of America’s military strength. A fourth was headed for the White House, where America’s top elected leader resides. That fourth jet failed to reach its target thanks to the heroic resistance of the passengers onboard.

Nearly 3,000 people, ranging in age from 2 to 85, were killed, a higher death toll than Pearl Harbor in 1941. Al-Qaida, the organization responsible, spent about a half million dollars to plan and execute the attacks. The cost to the U.S. has been estimated at over $3 trillion.

In 9/11 speech, al-Qaeda chief calls for attacks on Israel, West

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack US, European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported that in a video released by the militant group, the 68-year-old al-Zawahri also criticizes “backtrackers” from jihad, referring to former jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed.

“If you want Jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West,” he said. “Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread.”

The coordinated al-Qaeda hijackings on September 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Al-Zawahri’s speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group’s as-Sahab Media Foundation.

As an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahri references US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced on March 25. He calls on Palestinians to seek “martyrdom” by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest in response.

On 9/11, Recalling the Ties between Iran and Al-Qaeda

The 9/11 Commission report in 2004 found that “senior managers in al-Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hizbullah….Al-Qaeda members received advice and training from Hizbullah.” A large percentage of the 14 Saudi “muscle” operatives “traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.”

In his 2011 book, The Secret War with Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle against the World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Power, journalist Ronen Bergman exposed the ties between the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorists and the government of Iran.

“Starting in the 1990s, Iran and Hizbullah helped Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri create a new terror organization from scratch. Iran trained group members, equipped them with advanced technological means, enabled them to move freely and provided them with plenty of terror-related expertise and experience accumulated by Hizbullah in its operations against Israel and the United States.”

“Many of the terrorists headed from Afghanistan to Iran, with Iranian officials ordering border control officers not to stamp these passports. Following the attacks, many senior al-Qaeda men found shelter in Iran. Tehran denied their presence for some time and later admitted that hundreds of al-Qaeda members are in the country and are under ‘house arrest.'”

In December 2011, Federal Judge George Daniels signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda liable for the 9/11 attacks. He found that the 2001 attacks were caused by the support provided to al-Qaeda by the defendants. The judge also found that “Iran continues to provide material support and resources to al-Qaeda by providing a safe haven for al-Qaeda leadership and rank-and-file al-Qaeda members.”

In 2017, the CIA released a 19-page al-Qaeda report written in Arabic on the history of al-Qaeda relations with Iran, seized in the U.S. Special Forces raid in 2011 that killed Bin Laden. The report, written in 2007, revealed that Iran offered al-Qaeda fighters “money and arms and everything they need, and offered them training in Hizbullah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia.”

Rocket explodes at US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary

A rocket exploded at the US Embassy in Afghanistan just minutes into Wednesday, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States, but officials at the compound declared an all-clear about an hour later and reported no injuries.

A plume of smoke rose over central Kabul shortly after midnight and sirens could be heard. Inside the embassy, employees heard the message over the loudspeaker: “An explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on the compound.”

There was no immediate comment from Afghan officials. The NATO mission, which is nearby, also said that no personnel had been injured.

It was the first major attack in the Afghan capital since President Donald Trump abruptly called off US-Taliban talks over the weekend, on the brink of an apparent deal to end America’s longest war.

Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. Trump has cited the death of a US service member in one of those blasts as the reason why he now calls the US-Taliban talks “dead.”

The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan’s capital and one on which attacks have occurred. A US-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and attacks mastermind.

Hong Kong protesters hit pause to mark 9/11 attacks

Hong Kong activists called off protests on Wednesday in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and denounced a Chinese state newspaper report that they were planning “massive terror” in the Chinese-ruled city.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of sometimes violent unrest, prompted by anger over planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions to China but broadening into calls for democracy and for Communist Party rulers in Beijing to leave the city alone.

“Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily said on its Facebook page on Tuesday alongside a picture of the attacks on the twin towers in New York.

“The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires,” it said. The Facebook post said “leaked information was part of the strategy being schemed by radical protesters in their online chat rooms.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: IDF Blockade Renders Gaza Mosque Unable To Import Candy To Celebrate 9/11 Anniversary (satire)

Worshipers hoping to have sweets on hand to mark eighteen years since nineteen Al-Qaeda hijackers killed nearly three thousand people in a group of coordinated attacks in the US faced disappointment this morning upon learning that Israel’s restrictions on imports had delayed the arrival of the special treats. The attendees had to make do with local candies and pastries.

Imam Awil Qildemal told reporters his flock voiced anger and frustration at the incident, since they had anticipated receiving several crates of imported delicacies from Turkey to celebrate 9/11, but bureaucratic and technical issues at the Kerem Shalom crossing prevented timely arrival of the packages. To prevent the smuggling of weapons, Israel has maintained a naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip since Hamas took it over from rival Palestinian faction Fatah in 2007 and launched several wars against the Jewish state. Consumer goods may enter the coastal territory, but only through Israel via the Kerem Shalom facility or through Egypt via the Rafah crossing. Egypt keeps Rafah closed much of the time.

“We’re all disappointed, of course, but this is hardly the first time we have suffered oppressive deprivation,” stated Qildemal. “Many of us have learned to take such setbacks in stride, but for most of us, this serves at one more piece of motivation to drive the pigs off of our land.” No members of Qildemal’s mosque have ever lived in what is now Israel, though most have ancestors who fled from there at the urging of Arab leaders who promised they could return following the quick victory over the Jews that Arabs anticipated in 1948. Instead the Jews prevailed and established Israel, leaving those who left under Egyptian rule until 1967, when Israel again foiled Arab plans to wipe her out, and took control of territories held by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, including the Gaza Strip. Israel dismantled Jewish settlements and removed its military presence from the territory in 2005.

Palestinians Celebrate 9/11 Attacks on US

In Her New Book on Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss Bravely States the Obvious

In How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss points out that anti-Semitism is as much a creature of the left as of the right, and that the anti-Zionism that has overtaken progressive circles and college campuses is indistinguishable from other forms of hatred of Jews. That the book must be judged brave for saying so, and that Weiss has attracted so much vitriol for holding these opinions, writes Hillel Halkin in his review, is “a badge of shame for the ‘progressive’ America” of which Weiss considers herself a part. Halkin praises the book for its “careful organization and articulate prose,” and the force with which it makes its main arguments. But he also finds certain aspects “disappointing”:

[N]owhere in her book does Weiss indicate that—apart from its anti-Zionism—she has any problem with the deadening mental conformity of contemporary American liberalism. The question she never raises is why someone of her intelligence should want to belong to such a world. “Maintain your liberalism,” a section of her book’s last (and least convincing) chapter exhorts the reader as one of its prescriptions for fighting anti-Semitism. To what end? At what intellectual and moral price?

Weiss fails to realize that she herself is an example of the wishful thinking about Judaism that is ubiquitous among American Jewish liberals. One might call this the Judaism of the Sunday school, a religion of love, tolerance, respect for the other, democratic values, and all the other virtues to which American Jews pay homage. This is a wondrous Judaism indeed—and one that has little to do with anything that Jewish thought or observance has historically stood for.

Judaism as liberalism with a prayer shawl is a distinctly modern development. It started with the 19th-century Reform movement in Germany, from which it spread to America with the reinforcement of the left-wing ideals of the Russian Jewish labor movement. As much as such a conception of their ancestors’ faith has captured the imagination of most American Jews, it is hard to square it with 3,000 years of Jewish tradition.

With Congress Back in Session, Action Against Israel for Barring Entry to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib ‘Not Happening’

House Democrats are unlikely to move forward on any declarative action against the Israeli government over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision last month to prevent two sitting congresswomen from entering the country over their support for the BDS movement.

While senior House Democrats and stalwart Israel supporters were quick to condemn and criticize the decision by to bar Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), discussions of a more formal response have floundered as Congress returns from its summer recess.

“I don’t believe at this moment any further action is required,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), told The Algemeiner on Tuesday, Congress’s first full day back in session. Rep. Phillips was one of the members to issue a statement saying he was “appalled” by the decision of the Israeli government, and said he “voiced extreme disappointment” in a meeting with the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.

Another Democratic member of Congress, who asked to speak on background to speak more freely, bluntly stated that any action is “not happening.”

American Jewish Committee Files Amicus Brief Backing Texas Anti-BDS Law

The American Jewish Committee is pushing for the US Court of Appeals to uphold a Texas anti-BDS law.

Texas Government Code Chapter 2270 prevents the state government from doing business with companies or contractors that support or practice a boycott of Israel.

The law has been challenged in the case of Bahia Amawi v. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in which it was found to be unconstitutional by a district court. The case is on appeal.

The AJC’s amicus brief states that the law does not infringe constitutional rights to free speech, saying, “It does not compel State contractors to endorse or engage in speech opposing the BDS movement or BDS activities, does not prevent individuals affiliated with State contractors from participating in boycotts in their personal capacities, and does not prevent contractors from expressing their personal views regarding boycotts or associating with others who share their views.”

“Plaintiffs have identified no contractor and no set of circumstances in which application of the verification requirement would be unconstitutional,” the brief adds.

“The US Supreme Court has long recognized that the government is not obliged to expend public funds in a manner contrary to its own express interests in deference to a contractor’s preferred use of public resources to a different end,” it says, “regardless of whether that preference is couched as an exercise of personal or political expression.”

Herzog Calls Belgian Ritual-Slaughter Ban ‘Infringement’ of Religious Freedom

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog sent a letter on Monday to the president of the Belgian regional parliament of Wallonia in an appeal to lift the ban on kosher ritual slaughter without stunning in the region.

The ban, initially legislated in 2017 in relation to Jewish and Muslim slaughter, had been in effect since Sept. 1, 2019. It is currently being enforced in the region of Wallonia, although a court ruling is pending on an appeal. A similar law was previously passed by the Flanders regional parliament in Belgium.

The bill passed by the Wallonia Parliament states that animals must be stunned before being killed—a technique that is not acceptable in accordance with Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter, which requires animals to be conscious when their throats are slit.

Animal slaughter without prior stunning is already banned in several EU countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, and other nations in Europe, including Switzerland and Norway.

“This is not only an issue of freedom of practice for traditional kosher butcheries. … This is an unacceptable infringement of general freedom of religion,” Herzog said about the ban in his letter. “We thought that restrictions on the practice of religion belonged to Europe’s history, not to its present and even less so to its future. I call on you to do your utmost in order to attempt to roll back this legislation so as to find the right balance between animal rights … and freedom of religion.”

Israeli watchdog accuses Facebook of promoting Palestinian terrorism

An Jerusalem-based watchdog group has accused Facebook of being an accomplice to terrorism for its continued refusal to shut down the official Fatah Facebook page.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on Tuesday released a report documenting dozens of incidents in which Fatah used its page to promote violence and glorify murderers of Israelis.

The 42-page report is the second of its kind. The previous report, published in February 2019, tracked Fatah’s Facebook activity the year before. Both reports were sent to Facebook.

According to PMW’s CEO Itamar Marcus, the first report was not only reviewed by the social networking site, but Marcus had a 45-minute conversation with the director of Facebook’s global counterterrorism policy team, Brian Fishman, about its findings.

“During our conversation, I emphasized that every time Fatah posts a new terror message on Facebook encouraging violence or presenting murderers as role models, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are given more motivation to kill Israelis,” Marcus told The Jerusalem Post. “Facebook still chooses to do nothing to stop it.

“Their willingness to ignore the role they are playing in Fatah’s terror promotion is incomprehensible,” he said. “Whereas in 2018 Facebook was an unwitting accomplice in Fatah’s terror promotion, Facebook is Fatah’s partner by choice in 2019.”

New App alerts you whenever Ariel Gold says something stupid (Satire)

Startup Nation has done it again, releasing an exciting App this week to great fanfare. ‘That’s Gold!’ is an application for Iphone and Android users that alerts you whenever noted BDS supporter/Deep Thinker Ariel Gold says or does something ridiculous. The Daily Freier wandered down to that WeWork office near Rothschild (no not that one, the other one) in order to meet the creators of this amazing application.

“With our ‘That’s Gold!‘ app, we provide our customer with a one-stop shop to stay up to date on the latest dumb shit that Ariel came up with.” explained lead engineer Pinchas G. “Our state of the art algorithm pulls data from Ariel’s Twitter feed, Code Pink press releases, and the comments section for Hen Mazzig’s pet rabbit’s Instagram page.” Pinchas feverishly typed a line of code on his Macintosh and continued. “The 2.0 version even has a feature that notifies you whenever she uses a Yiddish phrase incorrectly.”

Well if you think this App is selling like latkes in December, you are correct. The Daily Freier ran into a number of happy customers on Rothschild Boulevard.

“OMG This is A-Ma-Zing!” extolled Arielle (NOT Ariel) C. “This gives me something to do whenever the Daily Freier is going through Writer’s Block.”

“Changed my life!” enthused David S. “I really like the feature that alerts me whenever she takes a selfie with Neteurei Karta.”

UKMW prompts Financial Times correction to false Oslo claim

A recent article in the Financial Times (Netanyahu vows to extend Israeli sovereignty in West Bank, Sept. 10) includes the following claim about the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
Extending Israeli sovereignty to the sprawling settlements that divide up the occupied West Bank would make it extremely difficult for future prime ministers to live up to pledges made in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords to negotiate a possible withdrawal of Israeli forces in order to facilitate the birth of a Palestinian state.

However, the agreement did not pledge Israel to facilitate the birth of a Palestinian state.

As our CAMERA colleagues have noted previously, this fact was made clear by by Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, in a piece for the Atlantic marking the 25th anniversary of the agreements. The Oslo Accords, he wrote, “did not provide for a Palestinian state.” He also re-emphasized that the two-state solution is “a concept that is nowhere mentioned in the Oslo Accords.”

Moreover, the New York Times, responding to a complaint from CAMERA in April, corrected an article which similarly claimed that the Oslo Accords committed both sides to a two state solution.

UKMW prompts Times of London improvement to wild Lebanon War claim

A Sept. 5th obituary at The Times for Princess Dina bint Abdel Hamid, the first wife of Jordan’s King Hussein, included the following sentence, in the context of noting Princess Dina’s role in prisoner-exchange negotiations between Lebanon and Israel:

It had all started in June 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon and rounded up all males aged between 9 and 75…

This staggering claim, that, upon invading Lebanon in 1982 to stop PLO rocket attacks on northern Israel, the IDF rounded up “all males” as young as 9 years old, was not supported with a source, and we hadn’t previously come across this allegation, even from anti-Israel activists. The closest thing we could find online or in books we reviewed on the war was a claim by radical academic Noam Chomsky in his book ‘The Fateful Triangle’ that Israel had rounded up males as young as 16.

So, we contacted editors at The Times to ask for a source. However, instead of providing one, they instead slightly toned down the sentence to claim that the IDF had rounded up not “all”, but only “thousands of males aged between 9 and 75“.

Again, we asked editors for the source of this revised, but still wild and unsubstantiated accusation.

Shul In Los Angeles Defaced On Wednesday

The “Baba Sale Congregation” in Los Angeles was the latest attack against Jews in the United States. This hate crime was committed early on 9/11.

According to reports on Twitter, the perpetrators waited for congregants to enter and begin Davening, and then sprayed the graffiti, so that when they come out they should see it.

“Free Palestine” was scrawled in large lettering on the building.

A video posted to social media (embedded below) shows the Shul painting over the words later on Wednesday morning.

The Baba Sale Congregation is located at N. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.

Police are investigating the incident.

Street artists fight back against neo-Nazi propaganda in Germany

Street artists all across Germany are fighting far-Right neo-Nazi views with street art, turning hateful graffiti into artistic works of inclusiveness.

The neo-Nazi graffiti, which is aimed at spreading anti-migrant propaganda as well as intimidating passersby who don’t share the same views as these groups, have been showing up in neighborhoods all over Germany – as the far-Right movement has conquered some of these areas into becoming safe havens for neo-Nazi groups.

In the Dortsfeld District of Dortmund, or the so-called “Nazi Neighborhood,” police are supervising street artists to cover up hateful slogans, after city authorities approved an initiative by a group called Association for Diversity, Tolerance and Democracy to commission street artists with the task of brightening up the streets with colorful works of art – in order to protect the artists and keep the initiative moving forward.

“We will also in the future thwart any plans to create a space of threat and intimidation in Dorstfeld or elsewhere,” said Dortmund police chief Gregory Lange.

One of the neo-Nazi slogans was covered up with a beautiful landscape of a lush, green, flower-filled meadow and the words: “Our Colors are beautiful.”

“You cannot let neo-Nazis take a millimeter of room,” said Interior Minister Herbert Reul. “That’s why it’s a great thing for the citizens, the city and the police to stand up against the racist hurlers and remove their disgusting smear.”

McDonald’s to buy Israeli-founded startup to bring voice tech to drive-thrus

McDonald’s Corporation has entered an agreement to buy Israeli-founded, Silicon Valley based startup Apprente, “a leader in the field of conversational voice-based technology,” the fast food giant said in a statement Tuesday.

The technology will allow for “faster and simpler and more accurate ordering” through speech at McDonald’s drive-thru stations, the statement said. According to the deal, Apprente’s employees will become part of the US firm’s global technology team. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Apprente team – made up of workers with PhDs in machine learning and computational linguistics – will also form the base of a new, internal team at McDonald’s called McD Tech Labs, that will work closely with the firm’s Innovation Center just outside Chicago. The skills of both teams will help McDonald’s meet the changing needs of customers, the statement said.

The Israeli startup has developed a technology that enables the automation of voice ordering, supporting a variety of languages and accents and complicated orders.

Apprente was set up in 2017 by CEO Itamar Ariel, an AI researcher and a former professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee. He has degrees, BA, MS, MBA and PhD, from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, Israel. Moshe Looks, co-founder and CTO, is a former AI and software engineer team leader at Google’s Machine Intelligence Group. He has a degree in computer science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in machine learning from Washington University, according to the Apprente website.

Medical Device Company Baxter Acquires Tel Aviv-Headquartered Cheetah Medical for $190 Million

New York-listed medical device company Baxter International has entered an agreement to acquire Boston and Tel Aviv-headquartered Cheetah Medical for $190 million in cash, with potential for an additional $40 million based on certain milestones, the former announced Tuesday.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions.

Founded in 2000, Cheetah Medical develops and provides non-invasive fluid management monitoring systems for use in critical care, operating rooms, and emergency rooms. Cheetah Medical’s fluid management systems are currently in use in 400 hospitals throughout the US and in 30 countries worldwide, according to company statements.

The company employs a team of approximately 120 employees, according to LinkedIn, in its Tel Aviv research and development center, and in offices in Boston, Vancouver, Washington, and the UK. Prior to the acquisition, Cheetah Medical had raised $117 million, according to Pitchbook data.

4,500-year-old burial artifacts chanced upon by electrician on his way to work

A previously unknown center of Canaanite-era settlement was recently stumbled upon by a curious electrician on his way to work. A 4,500-year-old copper dagger blade and a collection of intact pottery containers were discovered by Ahmad Nassar Yassin, a resident of the northern Israel village of Araba, who noted something out of the ordinary while he was driving to service a local customer.

“When I identified something unusual on the mountain ridge close to the dirt road, I stopped to check it out. The minute I touch the boulder it crumbled and, in front of my eyes, ancient-looking containers appeared,” said Yassin.

Concerned about damage to the artifacts due to their unplanned exposure, Yassin moved the items to his home and immediately reported his finds to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Shortly thereafter Nir Distelfeld, an IAA Theft Prevention Unit inspector, retrieved them from Yassin and realized they came from a burial cave. Yassin was awarded a certificate of good citizenship.

According to an IAA press release, the items include northern-style 4,500-year-old storage jars and pouring vessels, as well as the bronze dagger blade, which would have been attached to a wooden handle. As was typical of the era, the artifacts, most likely including foodstuffs, were meant to accompany the occupant of the burial cave on his way to the afterlife.
4,500-year-old artifacts discovered in a burial cave near Araba in northern Israel. (Nir Distelfeld/Israel Antiquities Authority)

In conversation with The Times of Israel on Wednesday, Distelfeld commended Yassin’s reporting of the ancient artifacts to the IAA and said he hoped it would spur more cooperation with Arab communities, which are not aware enough of IAA’s work in preserving the heritage of all cultures and civilizations who settled in the Levant.

Vanity Fair: Why Israeli TV is irresistible to American producers

Americans like to think of ourselves as being at the center of the universe, with Hollywood serving as a giant air freshener spraying our pop-cultural essence all over a grateful globe. But the transmission has long worked in the other direction too, with the U.S. entertainment industry adapting work from other countries, particularly the U.K. (The Office, American Idol, All in the Family, House of Cards, and Veep all started out as Brit hits). Over the last decade, Israel has emerged as an increasingly rich supplier for American TV executives ravenous for shows that stand out amid the programming glut of peak TV.

Homeland and In Treatment are two critically lauded examples from the recent past; following in their footsteps is a slew of new Israeli-derived TV series appearing on our screens or entering the development process. Netflix will soon unveil The Spy, a limited series created by Israeli Gideon Raff and starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a real-life 1960s Mossad agent, while HBO has aired Euphoria, the edgy teen drama based on an Israeli program of the same name and starring Zendaya, and Our Boys, a co-production with Israeli studio Keshet that dramatizes a string of political murders that spiraled into a war in Gaza.

Euphoria and Our Boys are the latest sections of an Israeli-American TV pipeline that HBO has been laying since 2008. That’s when the prestige cable network adapted Hagai Levi’s half-hour psychotherapy drama, Be’Tipul, into the Emmy-winning series In Treatment. Many of the early episodes were almost word-for-word translations of the original. In contrast, Showtime’s 2011 hit Homeland was substantially adapted and altered from its source, the Gideon Raff series Hatufim. The original Israeli series focused on former prisoners of war during its two-season run, whereas Homeland revolved around Claire Danes’s magnetic, dysfunctional CIA agent, Carrie Mathison.

Israel—which had only one television channel until 1993—is so flooded with programming from America and from other countries around the world that native writers and producers are forced to take creative risks in order to grab viewers’ attention. “We have such small budgets that we really have to be unique in how we tell a story,” says Raff. “If I want to convince the audience to watch [Hatufim] and not Breaking Bad, I really have to be special.” To “be disruptive” in the current crowded media environment, Raff continues, “what the most successful Israeli shows have done is be extremely Israeli. Be very, very local and in making it as personal as possible, somehow there you find the universal themes that an international audience can enjoy.”

Among the Israeli adaptations currently in the works are Your Honor, a Showtime legal drama starring Bryan Cranston and adapted from the Israeli series Kvodo, and ABC’s culture-clash comedy The Baker & the Beauty, about a working-class baker who falls in love with a glamorous superstar. The original, Lehiyot Ita (which translates to Being With Her), played in part on class tensions between Jews of European and Middle Eastern origin; the American version, set in Miami, throws a Cuban American (Victor Rasuk) into the mix instead.

Sasha Baron Cohen Acknowledges Past Reluctance to Play Jewish Characters: ‘I Didn’t Want to Be Typecast’

British comedian and actor Sasha Baron Cohen said in a recent interview that he used to pass up offers that he feared would “typecast” him as a Jewish actor.

Cohen, who currently stars as Mossad agent Eli Cohen in the Netflix miniseries “The Spy,” told The New York Times, “I used to be reluctant to play anyone Jewish, because I didn’t want to be typecast as the Jewish actor. There are other Jews in Hollywood besides me. But somehow, people thought of me as ‘a Jewish actor’ even after I played Borat, the most outwardly antisemitic character probably since Leni Riefenstahl directed movies.”

“Finally, a number of years ago, I read Gideon [Raff]’s script, and I couldn’t put it down. So I gave up this position of avoiding Jewish or Israeli roles,” he added, referring to the Israeli director’s project, “The Spy.”

The Netflix show is based on the true story of Eli Cohen, who was selected by the Mossad to infiltrate the Syrian government in the 1960s and given a fake identity as a wealthy Syrian businessman named Kamel Amin Thaabet. The Syrian government discovered his double-agent status and he was publicly hanged in Damascus in May 1965.

‘As a Sephardi woman, I felt seen by the world’

TV critic of Syrian extraction Linda Maleh was ready to be disappointed by Netflix’s news series ‘The Spy’. But she needn’t have worried – the show, which focused on the Egyptian-born Israeli spy Eli Cohen, introduced the mainstream viewing public to ‘Sephardi culture’, she writes in Alma.

What bothers me is that most of the world doesn’t even know that Sephardi Jews exist. They think all Jews are European. They have no idea that hundreds of thousands of Jews used to live in countries across the Middle East, and were forced to flee due to intense persecution by these countries following the establishment of the State of Israel. They don’t know we exist, and so they are certainly not making movies and TV shows about us.

Except for The Spy. One of the first things we learn about Eli when the Mossad agents are reading his file is that he had to smuggle his family out of Egypt because things had gotten so bad for Jews there, and after he did, he stayed for years to help smuggle other Jews out, too. This is a familiar story for Middle Eastern Jews. My own community in Brooklyn worked very hard to help get Jews out of Syria when it all became unbearable. (My family in particular was spared this, having immigrated to America much earlier, for the same reason Eli’s family left Syria for Egypt, which was economic hardship.) Right there from the jump, Sephardi heritage is recognized.

The first time the word “Sephardic” is used in the show is in episode 2, when Eli’s handler, Dan Peleg (Noah Emmerich in a familiar role) visits Eli’s wife, Nadia (Homeland’s Hadar Ratzon Rotem), because he feels guilty about what he’s putting them through. While he’s there, she insists that he stay and eat. “I’m a Sephardic woman,” she says. “I’m not going to let you go home unfed.” My first instinct at this was to laugh. I was raised by Sephardi women, none of whom would ever let a guest leave without trying to feed them either.



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