Vivian Bercovici: Can Israelis See the Peace Through the Pandemic?
COVID will come and go, but the Abraham Accords have the potential to reshape the geopolitical reality of the Middle East and beyond. These accords further isolate Iran, Qatar, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Hezballah, and other extremist states and groups in the Middle East.
The UAE has embraced this new relationship with unbridled enthusiasm, engaging every sector of Israeli society. Their boldness is forging a path forward, and other nations are following.
In these Days of Awe, I hope that all Israelis take note and make or do a “cheshbon nefesh.” We must see through our collective rage at the government, which is obscuring what should be celebrated: a new, promising era of peace.
I understand the anger and share it. A second medieval lockdown is infuriating and will wreak havoc on the well-being of too many Israelis. But it will pass. Perhaps this peace is permanent.
Among the matters I will contemplate when taking my personal cheshbon nefesh will be gratitude to all who worked to bring about this peace and recognition. And I will work hard to manage my anger at the transient people and things.
Gamar Chatima Tova, we say when greeting one another in these Days of Awe. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year.
The arrests in December 2019 of 50 suspected members of the sizable terrorist infrastructure of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Ramallah, which was responsible for the terror attack in which teenager Rina Shnerb was murdered and her father and brother were injured last summer (Aug. 23, 2019), exposed the significant magnitude of PFLP terror networks and their capacity to strike within Israel. Perhaps more ominously, it also exposed the self-deception under which many left activists operate in Europe and the United States.
PFLP funders see or pretend to see the delegitimization activity performed by PFLP-affiliated organizations as peaceful/nonviolent actions that are unrelated to the terrorist operations of the PFLP. This hypocrisy reached a new peak in a letter sent recently by the European Union’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, who guaranteed the Palestinian NGOs, many of which are affiliated with the PFLP, that the EU will keep funding them in spite of their affiliation with organizations that have been formally designated by the EU as terror organizations—a promise that came after the NGOs refused to commit to avoid such affiliations.
The PFLP is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, EU, Australia, Canada, and Japan. Back when its terror unit was still called “The Red Eagles,” PFLP won world attention because of its involvement in plane hijackings (Leila Khaled, who took part in two such attacks, is a member of the PFLP politburo and of the Palestinian National Council), and the massacre it carried out in Israel’s Lod airport in 1972.
The PFLP’s current terror arm, the “Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades,” operates from a headquarters in Damascus, where it maintains operational cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah. The PFLP has active cells in many governorates of the Palestinian Authority with dozens of active members in Judea and Samaria. Through these terror arms, the PFLP perpetrated some of the most despicable terror attacks, including the murder of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi (October 2001); six suicide bombing attacks during the Second Intifada that left 13 people dead including the Nov. 1, 2004, suicide bombing attack in the crowded Carmel Market in Tel Aviv that left three dead; and the attempt to murder Israel’s former Chief Rabbi Ovadya Yosef in 2005 (Salah Hamouri, who played a key role in planning the attack is a prominent activist in the PFLP-affiliated, so-called “human rights” NGO Addameer).
In November 2014, the PFLP carried out the vicious murder with axes and guns of five Jewish worshippers while they were praying at the Har-Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, as well as a policeman who tried to stop the attack. The attack was carried out by two brothers who were related to a former PFLP terrorist and the PFLP took responsibility for and praised the attack, though some sources dispute this. The PFLP performed numerous rocket attacks from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and participates in the operation room that led the terror attacks from Gaza in the many rounds of conflict that have taken place since.
For many left-wing organizations in the West, cooperation with the PFLP comes naturally. It is a reminder of the “glorious” era when the Soviet Union was a superpower competing for global dominance against “the corrupt capitalist West” (this vocabulary is still often used by PFLP). When the Soviet bloc collapsed, these groups had to find a new cause célèbre around which to unite. The PFLP was among the first groups to understand the potential of recruiting softer anti-Israel elements into its networks and to leverage those elements in order to gain financial support from naïve international donors.
The most distressing and disheartening thing, 50 years after this horrible experience, is that the world has not eradicated this type of terrorism. As recently as January 2020, the PFLP (through Palestinian NGOs) receives financial support of millions of dollars from European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, UN-OCHA and UNICEF.
In theory, San Francisco State University President Lynn Mahoney is correct in stating that a university is a place where different ideas are presented, discussed and analyzed so that individual conclusions can be drawn. But does that justify giving an unrepentant terrorist a forum to address the students?
What will she teach them? The proper way to hijack an aircraft, based on her success in 1969, and what mistakes to avoid based on her failure in 1970?
When I was a student in university, I often faced new ideas that ran contrary to my beliefs. But these perspectives were presented by knowledgeable, respectable academics. Some were Nobel Prize winners. None were terrorists.
Neither Mahoney, in her published response, nor the university indicated that anyone will be presenting an opposing view, one that is against terrorism and radicalization. I cannot imagine how Mahoney, or any decent person, can claim Khaled’s presentation will be an educational experience.
SFSU is no stranger to anti-Semitism. They have prevented the presentation of pro-Israel and Jewish ideas. In fact, SFSU had been recently sued by Jewish students who claimed that they were victims of systemic anti-Semitism. Not long ago, SFSU prevented then-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from speaking at a public event, and San Francisco Hillel was excluded from a fair on campus.
Inviting Leila Khaled to speak is a dishonor to all those who suffered at her and the PFLP’s hands – and glorifies terrorism, which is unacceptable. (h/t Zvi)
Arab populations should learn about the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Islamic lands after 1948 and how these refugees ultimately worked hard and pulled themselves up from that great calamity. This may help moderate Arabs to encourage or educate their Palestinian brethren that after 72 years it is time to give up the “refugee” mentalities and leave their refugee camps to build better lives for themselves. Their argument will be “look at the Jews, they were refugees from the Arab lands but they moved beyond the victim mentality and built new lives for themselves. You too can now do the same!”
Much of the Arab and Islamic world today does not know of the glorious history and successes of the Jews living in Islamic countries in the past centuries. They are for the most part in the dark about how Jews and Muslims in many of the Arab and Islamic countries lived side by side in relative peace at various points in time. When Arab populations are exposed to this past history of co-existence and tolerance their ancestry had with the Jews, then they may be more willing to accept the Jews living in Israel as one of their peaceful neighbors in the region.
Creating peace and peace treaties may be a challenging first step between Israel and its Arab neighbors, but maintaining that peace by educating the Arabs about the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Islamic countries will be the key to a stable future in the Middle East. I call on American Ashkenazi leaders who have long had relationships with the leaders in the Arab countries to launch an educational campaign about Mizrahi Jews in the Arabic language media in these nations. Why not bring in Mizrahi speakers from Israel, America and Europe to share their histories and experiences? Why not build new blocks of commonality and friendship between Jews and Arab by sharing the Mizrahi Jews’ history in the Middle East? Why not give moderate Arabs who want to help bring the Palestinians to the peace table, valuable information about the experiences from the Mizrahi Jews who gave up the victim mentality of being refugees and built a thriving new state for themselves?
And interestingly enough, the American Jewish community does not have to look too far to create content about the Jewish refugees from the Islamic world, because the San Francisco-based non-profit “Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa” (JIMENA) has been gathering and sharing the hundreds of stories and the history of the Mizrahi Jewish community for nearly two decades. JIMENA’s hard work in sharing the Mizrahi experiences as refugees during the 20th century has even inspired the largest pro-Israel organization in America—“Christians United For Israel” (CUFI)—to create its own documentary film about the Mizrahi Jews.
CUFI’s film, titled the “Mizrahi Project,” offers personal stories from Mizrahi refugees which has not only helped educate Christians Zionists, but also opened the eyes to millions of individuals worldwide about the Jews from the Islamic nation after being posted on YouTube. I had the special honor of being one of the Mizrahi individuals featured in the film, and over the years I have personally received positive feedback from many Iranians and Arabs worldwide about the plight of the Mizrahi refugees. For too long American’s Mizrahi Jews have been ignored and sidelined by the larger Ashkenazi community. With this new peace in the Middle East it’s time to include the Mizrahi Jews and share the experiences of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Islamic countries in order to strengthen this new Middle East peace.
Maintaining its proud commitment to printing all the news that will divide Americans by race, sex, and creed, the New York Times published a list of what it claimed were the “922 of the most powerful people in America” while claiming that only 20% of them are people of color.
The term “people of color” is already ambiguous enough with white professors, grad students, and NAACP presidents claiming to be black. But the New York Times’ racial list, a thing reeking of Nuremberg and Goebbels, put the paper in charge of deciding who is a person of color by marking them with yellow. It’s a good thing no notorious racist ideology had the same idea.
(The Times had previously published a list of members of Congress who had voted against aiding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and terrorist regime by marking Jewish members in yellow.)
Like all racist Rohrsarch charts, the Times’ racial list says more about it than about America.
The Times claimed that only 112 of the 431 House of Representatives members are people of color. It lists Rep. Rashida Tlaib as a person of color, while listing Rep. Justin Amash as white.
Tlaib’s parents and Amash’s father came from Arab towns and neighborhoods in Israel. Amash’s mother came from Syria. They both have traditional Arab names.
How is Tlaib a person of color while Amash is white?
The Jewish community on the Indian subcontinent dates back many years, long before the Muslims in the former British colony sought independence. But only a small part of that relatively prosperous community lived in the five districts that in August 1947 became Pakistan. At the time, they numbered fewer than 3,000, and most of the community lived in Karachi, with a few dozen more in Peshawar.
When Israel was founded, many members of the Jewish community left Pakistan, the second-largest Muslim country in the world, leaving only 200-300 members who remain despite growing anti-Semitism. They live in Karachi and Lahore.
Some Jews in Pakistan converted to Islam, such as deputy head of Pakistan’s mission to the UN in the 1950s, Mohammad Assad. But the ones who adhered to their original faith were forced to make due without a functioning synagogue.
One of the remaining few Pakistani Jews is Fishel Khalid, 32, from Karachi.
In a special interview to Israel Hayom in honor of Rosh Hashanah, Khaled discusses personal challenges and challenges facing the community; local anti-Semitism; and his historic visit to Israel.
Khalid, a civil engineer by training and profession, says he also works as a kashruth supervisor for Pakistani food manufacturers and exporters.
Q: Are you scared to live in Pakistan? “I don’t disclose my identity to 99% of the people with whom I interact. And when I wear a kippa, I hide it under a baseball cap. But in general, I’m not that concerned, as long as I’m not open about being Jewish.”
“Pakistan has its share of varying degrees of anti-Semitism,” Khalid adds, noting that the synagogue in Karachi was burned down during riots that erupted after Israel was established in 1948.
Book Review: AN ARMY LIKE NO OTHER How the Israel Defence Forces made a nation by Haim Bresheeth-Zabner
Bresheeth-Zabner is one of those Israelis who are warmly welcomed in London by the academics and publicists who, for reasons on which we need not speculate here, studiously overlook every other conflict in the world (including Syria’s, amazingly enough, with its own Palestinian casualties numbering in the many thousands) to campaign relentlessly against Israel. That warm welcome is available in exchange for the acceptance of a simple axiom: Israel has no right to exist; hence everything about it is illegitimate, if not also atrocious, beginning with the Israeli army of course.
That is a bargain that Bresheeth-Zabner is very willing to fulfil. We thus read: “The Israelis are the greatest warmongers in the Middle East” – even though he must be aware that their Middle Eastern competitors in warmongering, from the Syrians to the Iraqis to the Iranians, have managed to kill many times more people, and continue, in some instances, to do so. Moreover, he insists on intellectualizing his consuming hatred, doing so with unintended comical effect when quoting Dalia Gavrieli-Nuri, who must be very famous because she is otherwise unintroduced, and who is presumably another member of the Israel-hating Israeli subtribe, whose innovation is the concept of WND, Israel’s “war- normalizing discourse”. I have lived in ignorance of WND until now, but I do wonder how much “normalization” is needed when war is a daily reality (a daily dose of rockets and fire balloons from Gaza persisted in recent months, Covid-19 and all, until the July ceasefire), and there remain voices calling for a war of extermination against Israel – very official voices in Iran’s case – which, let us not forget, is actually a unique locution in contemporary war-mongering discourse (WMD?), not even heard from the likes of Kim Jong-un.
Sometimes this author’s urge to blacken everything Israeli leads him to put both feet in it, deeply. One example that I will long cherish occurs when he writes that David Ben-Gurion’s model in establishing the Israeli army in 1948 was “the Prussian Das Volk in Waffen” – with all the implications of “Waffen you-know-what” that we are meant to make – which he further defines as “a centralized, authoritarian, ideological, and professional body – an instrument of occupation, expulsion and subjugation”. Well, he is totally right about the Prussian part, because the phrase was coined by the uber-Prussian Field Marshal Leopold Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz (1843–1916). But the army in question, which Ben-Gurion very greatly admired, was not the Prussian army, as might have been expected of a Prussian Junker, let alone the Waffen SS, but the French people’s army that emerged to resist the Germans after the defeat of Napoleon III’s professional army in 1870, volunteers all, raised by the radical Léon Gambetta, whose spirit would persist in the Paris Commune sacred to every gauchiste ever since – and not the Waffen SS therefore.
As for the assertion that the IDF was created ab initio as an instrument of “occupation, expulsion and subjugation”, it might pass with some, but for the date: on May 15, 1948, the matters at hand were not exactly glorious conquest and cruel occupation but rather survival – that day, that night and on the morrow – because the Egyptian army, the British- officered Arab Legion, the Syrian army and sundry other militias were at that stage converging to fulfil the Arab League’s promise of a swift bloodbath. True, these armies were poorly trained and poorly led, but they were armies nonetheless, and they did have armoured vehicles, machine guns, artillery, radios and other useful accoutrements, whereas Ben-Gurion’s Volk in Waffen was pathetically short on waffen, owing to very strict British policing until the day before independence, which made even a single rifle valuable, and a single machine gun precious, followed by a very strict arms embargo thereafter, jointly imposed by the British Empire and the US (people went to prison for smuggling a few pistols to the Jews). As a result, and in the total absence of anti-tank weaponry, even the Arab Legion’s 4×4 armoured cars (the lowest form of life among armoured fighting vehicles) were an unstoppable threat, while the Egyptian army’s twenty-five pounders could smash the frontier kibbutzim unimpeded. The British intent to strangle the unwanted state at birth, which the US Department of State fully shared, was only thwarted by the willingness of both pro-Zionist and profiteering Czechs to sell Israel weapons – a deal in which Stalin concurred – that boon being severely limited by the need to fly in everything with an assortment of battered aircraft. What arrived was enough, if only just, to repel the Arab invasions of a new sovereign nation, accorded its status by the UN, in a manner very much like that of Léon Gambetta. So the author was inadvertently right after all, in a way.
Original sin is key to so-called “critical” approaches, whether about the creation of Israel or the United States. The New York Times’ “1619 Project” advanced the theory that slavery is the foundation of the United States, which has shaped and corrupted America through racism ever since. Israel’s establishment and behavior are described similarly, situated not as a successful national liberation movement but within the “settler-colonial” narrative, advancing the notion that Jews and Israelis are “white” racist Europeans.
As with identity politics, facts and scholarship find no room in the world of BDS. Feelings and politics shape everything related to Israel; they are subjective, unassailable and cannot be challenged or invalidated. Israel is presented as the greatest evil not only in the Middle East but the world, and which must be treated uniquely. Turkey’s jailing of tens of thousands of academics does not register, much less China’s imprisonment of a million Muslims in re-education camps. Such comparative analysis, the basis for all social science, is dismissed as mere “what-about-ism.”
Faculty members are not, of course, required to support or even like Israel. But fulminating against it and punishing those who even take an interest in it, like a student who wants to study there, should be beyond the pale. Academics who want to re-establish balance about Israel, as well as those who have intellectual or emotional interests there, need help. The network Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) provides such assistance through shared best practices, mentoring and guidance to students and junior faculty. Further steps should be taken, such as enhancing the network with supportive Jewish, Christian and minority community members. Another is continuing to bring the problem out into the open with students, parents, trustees and faculty speaking to local and national media. Open protests on campuses, which will almost invariably elicit vocal hostility from BDS supporters, will prove the case. Lawsuits from or in support of faculty members, who, for example, find their academic organizations subject to hostile or covert takeovers by BDS supporters, or who find their promotions impeded because of their pro-Israel politics, are the final line of defense.
Students, parents and alumni should also be watching carefully and making decisions about which educational institutions to attend, what courses to choose and where to give their money. With new attitudes taking hold regarding the value of higher education, academia should be taking notice as well.
“I hate your shirt, Ima setting it on fire. I’m serious” she can be heard saying.
We demand this is immediately looked into and the Ms. Kiswani face disciplinary actions! pic.twitter.com/TL1J4JrI63
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) September 22, 2020
The student government of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is scheduled to vote on a resolution on Wednesday that in part calls on the university to divest from Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar Inc. and Elbit Systems Ltd. for what the resolution alleges is partaking in human rights violations in the Palestinian territories.
The resolution, obtained by JNS, alleges that Israel-based Elbit Systems is a “main supplier of surveillance technology for the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, a wall the International Court of Justice has called a violation of human rights.”
It also accuses Northrop Grumman for providing “weapons guidance system and missiles used in attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza … ”
Additionally, the resolution alleges that “Raytheon weaponry has been used against Palestinian and Yemeni civilians in incidents that have been condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations as war crimes …” and “co-developed with IMI Systems guided mortars that killed 20 civilians outside of an [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Jabaliya, Gaza, which was being used as a shelter during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014.”
It further points to Lockheed Martin of providing “the Israeli military with various weapons systems that targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medics, ambulances, UN shelters, on numerous occasions in Gaza and Southern Lebanon.”
Students at Columbia University in New York City are scheduled to vote this week on a referendum over whether the school should “divest its stocks, funds and endowment from companies that profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts towards Palestinians” that, according to the student group Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), “fall under the United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.”
In November, the Columbia College Student Council voted in favor of holding the referendum proposed by CUAD.
Ahead of the vote, the university’s weekly student newspaper, The Columbia Daily Spectator, issued a statement on Sunday over an advertisement placed in its ”Sunday Sports” newsletter on Sept. 20 by the school’s branch of Students Supporting Israel (SSI).
The statement was signed by the publication’s editor in chief, Karen Xia; managing editor Shubham Saharan; and Isabel Jauregui.
“The message, which referenced the Columbia University Apartheid Divest referendum, was clearly inappropriate and did not meet our standards for distribution,” they said. “We deeply apologize for giving this advertisement space on our platform and are immediately reviewing our internal processes to ensure that publication of such material will never happen again. Neither The Columbia Spectator nor Spectator Publishing Company endorses Students Supporting Israel and Columbia or its products, services or views.”
Ian Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been marinating for years in antipathy for Israel and its supporters. Lustick’s hostility towards the Jewish state was in ample evidence in a nearly 15,000-word essay in the August 2020 issue of Middle East Journal, which is published by the Middle East Institute of Washington D.C.
The essay, entitled “The Peace Process Carousel: The Israel Lobby and the Failure of American Diplomacy,” contains thirty-eight references to an “Israel Lobby” and seven references to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—but not a single mention of the “Arab Lobby,” or any other lobby linked to Middle Eastern politics. MEI’s Web page for the piece is topped off by the abstract:
More than 50 years of American diplomacy in the Arab-Israeli “peace process” have revealed it to be a carousel of constant activity with no forward movement. Despite chronic failure and embarrassment, it continues in great measure because of the cumulative effects of the influence of the Israel lobby in the United States, through cycles of opportunity, initiative, retreat, and compensation. Mathematician John Nash’s theory of an inefficient equilibrium is offered as an explanation for the still-sustained pretense of the possibility of a negotiated peace agreement and the conditions under which the peace process carousel could finally stop turning.
As the abstract indicates, the essay does indeed condemn, as well as exaggerate the power of, the “Israel lobby,” effectively blaming it, along with Israel, for the failure to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians. And he offers up the Nash “inefficient equilibrium” game theory from academia to help persuade readers that neither side is interested in deviating from its predicted strategy since neither side benefits from changing its strategy. In fact, this claim is false (more below).
Tomorrow Leila Khaled is speaking on a US campus.
If Khaled walked down a street and said something racist to a black person or Muslim – she’d never be allowed to step foot on campus.
Instead she is a PFLP terrorist and only hijacked plane loads of Jews.
So that’s okay then.
— David Collier (@mishtal) September 22, 2020
We complained to the Guardian, demonstrating, via a myriad of examples, that RBG (as she was known) maintained a strong Jewish identity throughout her life, and recently learned that our complaint was upheld.
Here are the revised sentences: Ruth was brought up in a Conservative Jewish tradition and learned Hebrew as a child, but moved away from strict religious observance after she was not allowed to join a minyan (a group of men) to mourn her mother’s death when she was 17. Indignant at that exclusion, she nevertheless remained deeply committed to her Jewish identity.
[In 1993, President] Clinton was anxious to make the supreme court more diverse, so Ginsburg’s Jewish identity may have counted for more than a lifetime of commitment to women’s equality before the law.
The following addendum was added, noting the correction:
The President of the United States made note of what he called the unfortunate fact that few, if any, qualified judges to replace a recently-deceased Supreme Court justice exist who meet all the identity-group criteria that he seeks in a nominee, specifically that the nominee be a transgender woman of color who was born in another country and practices Islam.
At a White House press conference Tuesday, Donald Trump called the lack of such candidates within the federal judicial system to succeed Ruth Bader-Ginsburg a glaring omission, and vowed to redouble his administration’s efforts to identify and nominate a trans woman immigrant Muslim of color. The president also expressed hope that Democrats in the Senate will refrain from obstructing approval of such an appointment before Election Day.
“I intend to continue my search for the proper candidate to replace Justice Ginsburg,” sated Trump. “Believe me, she was a tough act to follow. A strong woman. I like strong women. I’ve married several. But I guarantee, I’m going to keep looking for a Black trans immigrant Muslim to nominate. If anyone knows any qualified judges, let my administration know and we’ll vet them. We’ll vet like no one has vetted before. I have the best vetting personnel.”
“If possible I’d also like the trans immigrant Muslim woman of color to be Jewish, too,” he added, “just like Justice Ginsburg. Jews make good judges. I like Jews. Not a lot of people know this, but I like Jews. I’ve picked like a million of them for top jobs. Other presidents nominated Jews, too, but not as many as I did. I nominate the most Jews. I’m just the best at nominating Jews.”
Researchers say that as they viewed Holocaust-denying pages and posts on Facebook, the social media site’s algorithm promoted even more Holocaust denial content to them….
Facebook takes down such posts only in countries such as Germany, France and Poland where Holocaust denial is illegal.
As the Institute for Strategic Dialogue out in its report, however, Holocaust denial is not about people getting history “wrong”: “This speech seeks not only to minimise the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust, but to mitigate criticism of Nazism, and justify ongoing attacks against the Jewish people. Due to the intimate intersection between Holocaust denial and hate targeting Jews, such content should be regarded as inherently anti-Semitic”.
Given Facebook’s public commitment to fighting “hate speech” on its site, Facebook’s refusal to acknowledge international guidelines on anti-Semitic hate speech by reducing Holocaust denial to a mere instance of “getting things wrong” — while using its algorithms to promote Holocaust denial — is clearly unacceptable.
Holocaust survivors have now launched an online campaign, #NoDenyingIt, calling on Facebook to remove Holocaust denying material from its website. “How can somebody really doubt it?” asked Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor. “Where are the six million people? There are tens of thousands of photos taken by the Nazis themselves. They were proud of what they were doing.”
The analysis given by Jeremy Bowen bore close resemblance to his article published on the BBC News website on the same day, including his interpretation of Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ essay.
Bowen: “This is a victory for those Israelis like Prime Minister Netanyahu who believe in the Iron Wall. The idea, first expressed in the 1920s by a mentor of Mr Netanyahu’s father, is that unbending Jewish strength will make the Arabs realise that they have no choice other than to accept the existence of their state. […]
Saudi Arabia […] has signaled its approval of the deal by allowing Bahrain, which it dominates, to join in. But it’s unlikely that the Saudis will normalise relations with Israel, at least while King Salman is alive. His son and heir, crown prince Mohammed might feel differently. The reason is that King Salman still seems to believe in the Arab peace plan which was launched by his late brother two decades ago. It calls for independence for the Palestinians as the price for Arab recognition of Israel. The UAE says it has stopped Israel annexing Palestinian land. The accord though has broken the Arab consensus on Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians say they have been betrayed. Iran does not like the new cohesion in the alliance against them. But the Palestinians are the biggest losers; more isolated and weaker than ever.”
One of course presumes that the BBC’s Middle East editor is fully aware of the fact that the parts of Area C to which the proposal to apply Israeli civilian law related are, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, subject to final negotiations, were previously occupied by Jordan and were never the territory of a Palestinian state.
As we see, throughout the day’s coverage of the signing of the Abraham Accords BBC Radio 4 failed to bring its audiences voices representing any of the three parties to those agreements. Instead listeners heard repeated promotion of talking points concerning the upcoming US election (without any serious examination of the question of whether US voters will be influenced by the event) along with messaging (also promoted by the PLO) concerning a perceived breach of one aspect of the Saudi initiative and resulting Palestinian ‘isolation’. Interestingly, none of the BBC’s reporters or expert commentators bothered to raise the topic of what has happened since that 2002 initiative (including Palestinian rejection of a peace offer six years later and the Hamas-Fatah split) or why attitudes in some Arab states have changed.
On Thursday, we posted about a Guardian op-ed by Raja Shehadeh (“Occupying Palestine is rotting Israel from inside. No Gulf peace deal can hide that”, Sept. 17) that was riddled with egregious distortions and falsehoods, including the following:
It is all out in the open and the government and the courts are on the same page in supporting the settlers and working to achieve the goal of greater Israel. The Knesset has passed the regularisation bill, which “legalises” settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land via de facto expropriation.
As we wrote in our complaint to the Guardian’s Readers Editor: though the passage links to a 2016 Guardian article about the passage of the bill, in June 2020, the Israeli supreme court overturned that law, rendering it null and void.
Editors promptly upheld our complaint and deleted the erroneous claim from the article.
This @Guardian article is based on a @BBCArabic hatchet job. The program fails to note that the neighborhood only became ‘Palestinian’ after Jewish residents were driven out in the 1930s, or that the Sumarin family was evicted because it stopped paying rent.#InconvenientDetails pic.twitter.com/dCpBHlHcFE
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) September 22, 2020
It takes less than ten minutes to walk the length of the cobblestone street of Judenstasse (“Jew street”) in the sleepy East German town of Lutherstadt Wittenberg. On the street’s western end stands the Wittenberg Schlosskirche, or Castle Church, where, according to legend, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door on October 31, 1517. Nearby is an enormous 360-degree panorama installation by a Leipzig artist celebrating Luther for democratizing the church. A few blocks to the east, behind the old market square, is the Stadtkirche, also known as the Wittenberg Town Church of St. Mary’s. It was here that Luther delivered the majority of his sermons, and it’s also the site of the first celebration of Mass in German instead of Latin. Wittenberg in general—and the Stadtkirche in particular—is considered the heart of the Protestant Reformation.
Around the back of the Stadtkirche, in a carved sandstone sculpture set into the facade, a rabbi lifts the tail of a pig to look for his Talmud. As he stares, other Jews gather around the belly of the sow to suckle. Above this scene is written in flowery script: “Rabini Schem HaMphoras,” a mangled inscription intended to mock the Hebrew phrase for the holiest name of God.
The sandstone sculpture is a once-common form of medieval iconography called a “Judensau,” or “Jew’s pig.” Its existence predates the Nazi period by nearly 700 years. Sculptures of Jews and pigs started appearing in architecture in the 1300s, and the printing press carried on the motif in everything from books to playing cards well into the modern period. Today, more than 20 Judensau sculptures are still incorporated into German churches and cathedrals, with a few others in neighboring countries. At least one Judensau—on the wall of a medieval apothecary in Bavaria—was taken down for its offensive nature, but its removal in 1945 is thought to have been ordered by an American soldier. The Judensau in Wittenberg is one of the best preserved—and one of the most visible. The church is a Unesco World Heritage site.
Over the past few years, the debate over this anti-Jewish sculpture has become newly urgent. Far-right nationalism has been on the rise throughout the country, but especially in Saxony-Anhalt, the state where Wittenberg is located. In August 2018, after Iraqi and Syrian asylum seekers were arrested for stabbing a German man, thousands of neo-Nazis from around the country descended on the Saxony-Anhalt city of Chemnitz and rioted for a week. In one attack, a Jewish restaurant owner said dozens of assailants threw rocks, bottles and a metal pipe at his business and shouted, “Get out of Germany, you Judensau!”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday expressed “consternation” at a string of rap videos uploaded by a rapper named Issa Lorenzo Diakhate (more often known by his rap-name, ‘Freeze Corleone’), demanding the artist’s music be taken down due to the shockingly antisemitic nature of his lyrics, coupled with the rising popularity of his music.
In a letter to YouTube CEO for Europe and Middle East Cécile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Wiesenthal Center Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels said that “Freeze has used YouTube as a vehicle to incite hate between young African-Europeans and the Jewish community, which is already targeted by extremists and jihadists in France, across Europe and the Middle East – all regions, Madam CEO, under your mandate.”
The letter continued: “In contradistinction to YouTube in the United States, the French National Assembly passed, on 24 June, the ‘Avia Law’ which requires the removal of ‘manifestly illicit’ hate and pornographic content on the Internet within 24 hours. This legislation is based on the 1 September 2017 German Netz DG Law, where Freeze’s idolatry of Hitler and Goebbels should lead to immediate action.”
In one song, Corleone raps the lyrics “Too many Cohens, Jews in finance, Jews in politics, Jews plotting, Jewish school books… Against them is the courage and bravery of the 3rd Reich and its heroic mysticism.”
The Alfred Landecker Foundation announced Monday the launch of its new venture, “Decoding Anti-Semitism” – a €3 million ($3.5 million) project using artificial intelligence to combat the spread of anti-Semitism and hatred online.
The Foundation has joined forces with the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin, King’s College London and other renowned scientific institutions in Europe and Israel.
In order to be able to recognize and combat implicit hatred more quickly, the international team, comprised of discourse analysts, computational linguists and historians, will develop a highly complex, AI-driven approach to identifying online Anti-Semitism.
The combination of these research disciplines is unique to date in its setup as well as in the subject matter of the analysis itself. Computers will help run through vast amounts of data and images that humans wouldn’t be able to assess because of their sheer quantity. Studies have also shown that the majority of antisemitic defamation is expressed in implicit ways – for example through the use of codes (“juice” instead of “Jews”) and allusions to certain conspiracy narratives or the reproduction of stereotypes, especially through images. As implicit Anti-Semitism is much harder to detect, the combination of qualitative and AI-driven approaches will allow for a more comprehensive search.
When Israeli director Yuval Adler saw the script for “The Secrets We Keep,” a thriller about a woman who kidnaps a man she believes was her Nazi torturer during World War II, he knew he wanted to make some changes.
The story revolved around a Jewish woman who endured horrors at a German concentration camp — a plot Adler found a little stale. He started talking to the lead actress, Noomi Rapace, known for her starring role in the original Swedish “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” films, about her personal life to see if they could freshen it up with details from her own story.
To Adler’s surprise, Rapace told him that she believes she has Roma ancestry and she was emotionally connected to their story. So they changed the Jewish character into a Roma one.
The result is a film that grapples with Holocaust trauma from a perspective different from the Jewish experience — but one that in many ways was frighteningly similar.
“I think it’s great because this is a story that you usually don’t see,” Adler said.
The trauma concept looms large in the film, which has just debuted on On Demand platforms. Rapace stars as Maja, a Romani woman who lives with her American doctor husband in a small town in the US South in the 1950s. Maja sees a man who she is convinced is a former Nazi who was part of a group of German soldiers that raped and killed members of her family — including her sister — during a wartime incident that she relives constantly in traumatic flashbacks. She decides to kidnap him.
A Jewish woman from Poland who became a top British spy during the Second World War has been honoured with a Blue Plaque in Kensington.
Christine Granville, born Krystyna Skarbek to a Jewish mother and Christian father, was “Churchill’s favourite spy” for her incredible wartime exploits operating behind enemy lines. She survived the war only to be killed in 1952 by an obsessed stalker.
A law unto herself, Granville was first female special agent of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), conducting espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance missions in Nazi-occupied Europe. She was motivated to sign up in 1939 after the Nazis invaded her homeland, and was ultimately its longest serving agent.
Her recruiter called her “a flaming Polish patriot, expert skier and great adventuress”, a description she lived up to across the continent, albeit as many aliases.
Among her exploits she crossed the snow-bound Polish border on skis in temperatures of -30°C, smuggled microfilm across Europe to show Hitler’s USSR invasion plans and rescued French agents from the Gestapo.
In February 2014, more than 300 copies of Anne Frank’s diary and other books pertaining to the Holocaust were vandalized in Tokyo public libraries. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the antisemitic incident – a rarity in Japan – as “extremely regrettable and shameful.”
The following month, while in the Netherlands for a G7 summit, then-prime minister Shinzo Abe visited the Anne Frank House museum, making him one of the most prominent world leaders to have ever done so. Abe, who read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank during his childhood, remarked that he wished to “reiterate lasting and profound friendship between Japan and the Jewish people around the world.”
This is a sentiment that was reflected throughout his tenure as the longest serving prime minister in Japanese history, since 2012, and an earlier stint in 2006-2007.
Abe, who stepped down as prime minister on September 17 for health reasons, is a true friend of the Jewish people and Israel. His actions and his words have consistently demonstrated that he understands Jews, he respects Jews, and he sees great importance in the bond between the Jewish and Japanese peoples.
During his time in office Abe also visited Yad Vashem in Israel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the former home of Sugihara Chiune, “the Japanese Schindler,” in Kaunas, Lithuania.
A new made-in-Israel gargle test for coronavirus is being deployed in European airports, after a leading aviation security company threw its weight behind the tech.
A freshly inked agreement will lead to the tests being piloted in two European airports within days or weeks, and comes as pilot programs for the tests are already underway in 12 hospitals internationally, Eli Assoolin, who led the development team, told Times of Israel.
The SpectraLIT test, which eliminates the need for swabbing and lab processing, works on a self-service basis, with passengers simply asked to gargle with 10 milliliters of a special mouthwash, and then spit into a tube. “It will prove no more inconvenient than fingerprint checks,” said Assoolin.
In the initial pilot phase, a passenger who tests positive will be sent for a standard swab test.
The test, developed by Assoolin’s company Newsight together with Sheba Medical Center under the freshly formed Virusight Diagnostic, is being taken to airports by ICTS Europe, a security company that operates in more than 120 airports across 23 countries.
ICTS has just agreed to pilot the SpectraLIT, and signed a letter of intent declaring that it will roll it out internationally if it proves effective, once regulatory approval has been received.
Energy ministers of seven countries, including Israel’s Yuval Steinitz, attended an event launching the new East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in a virtual event hosted in Cairo on Tuesday morning.
“The blessing of gas brings regional cooperation with Arab and European countries, the first of its kind in history, including contracts to export $30 billion of blue-and-white gas to Jordan and Egypt, and that’s only the beginning,” Steinitz said.
The forum includes Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Italy, whose ambassadors, and Egyptian Energy Minister Tarek al-Mulla, signed the EMGF’s charter in Cairo. The ambassadors of countries interested in joining – France as a member and the US and EU as observers – were also in attendance.
Steinitz and al-Mulla initiated the EMGF’s establishment in 2017 following natural gas discoveries off the coasts of Israel and Egypt. It existed at first to facilitate talks between the different countries, but Tuesday’s ceremony established it as an intergovernmental organization.
The joint declaration on the EMGF’s launch said it “aims to serve as a platform that brings together gas producers, consumers and transit countries to create a shared vision and establish a structured systematic policy dialogue on natural gas, leading to the development of a sustainable regional gas market and unlocking the full gas resource potential in the region for the benefit and welfare of its people.” The forum also includes a Gas Industry Advisory Committee, an ongoing dialogue between governments and business partners, to help monetize the gas reserves.
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality announced Monday that it is on track to become the first city in the world to roll out smart roads that can charge electric vehicles as they drive along, with a pilot project set to trial an electric public transportation system.
Tel Aviv’s pilot, due to start in a couple of months, will see a 600 meter (just under 2,000 foot) recharging stretch built under the two-kilometer (1.25 mile) bus route between the Tel Aviv University Railway Station and the Klatzkin Terminal in Ramat Aviv. The vehicle to be charged will be an electric bus with a special battery, the city said.
The technology comes from an Israeli company, ElectReon, based in the northern moshav of Beit Yannai.
In Sweden, ElectReon has installed a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) electric stretch used by a bus and a truck on the 4.1 kilometer (2.5 mile) route between the airport and town center of Visby on Gotland Island.
At the end of this year, the company is set to install the first wireless electric road system in Germany, in Karlsruhe in the country’s southwest.
If the Tel Aviv pilot is successful, more roads will be equipped with the below-surface technology, making Tel Aviv-Jaffa the first city in the world to widely roll out the technology. The municipality said it plans to examine adding other forms of transportation to the electric roads, such as distribution trucks and private and autonomous vehicles.
Jewish-Indian MMA and Kickboxing champion Obed Hranchal will be making aliyah to Israel following the High Holy Days.
The seven silver and two bronze national medalist in Wushu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Karate announced that he will be making aliyah along with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister, Lucy in partnership with Shavei Israel- wishing to fulfill a life-long dream of moving to the Jewish state. His family is set to settle in the city of Nof HaGalil.
“I have always dreamed of making aliyah to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so. If possible, I would certainly like to join the IDF and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and Kickboxing competitions,” Hrangchal said.
Hranchal is a member of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community in northeastern India, purportedly descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. To date, more than 4,000 members of the community have made aliyah to Israel – some 6,500 still live in India.
In partnership with the Absorption Ministry and the Interior Ministry, around 722 Bnei Menashim, including Hrangchal and his family, will be making aliyah following the High Holy Days.
Florida will now be issuing specialty “Florida Stands with Israel” license plates for those who wish to support the Jewish state throughout the Sunshine State.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation (HB 1135) on Friday, before Rosh Hashanah, which authorized the creation of the special license plate.
The Israeli-American Council (IAC) lauded the “heartwarming expression of solidarity,” saying that it “affirms the strong bond between the State of Florida’s citizens and the Jewish State of Israel.”
“This kind of warmth is why Florida has always been a leading destination for Israeli-Americans,” said IAC Board Member and IAC for Action Board Chairman Shawn Evenhaim. “This gesture celebrates a long and close relationship. Florida and Israel share many ties, including bilateral trade, common values and leadership in cutting-edge fields that have a quality of life impact for all citizens,” he said.
“Florida has been a leader over the years in the fight against anti-Jewish hatred and discrimination – for example, its groundbreaking anti-BDS law and codification this past year of the IHRA definition of antisemitism,” Evenhaim said. “We applaud and sincerely appreciate this meaningful expression of solidarity and are pleased that the Israeli-American community can play a part in support of these efforts. Thank you, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature. Shana Tova U’Metuka [a good and sweet year].”
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