December 7, 2022

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09/24 Links Pt2: David Collier: The ‘Palestine’ obsession at the Labour Party conference; John Hagee: Why Israel’s Enemies Will Not Triumph; Ireland Ignores Palestinian Textbooks that Encourage Hatred of Israelis

From Ian:

John Hagee: Why Israel’s Enemies Will Not Triumph
Given recent events in the Middle East, our leaders would benefit from the wisdom shared in the Book of Esther. Despite the name of God never appearing in the book, Esther’s story shows us that He will always preserve the nation of Israel, no matter how grave the danger. And vitally, this history also reminds us that God calls ordinary people to help in this righteous calling.

In fact, the word of God is replete with examples of common and flawed individuals who are now immortalized as heroes of faith — all because of their willingness to be used by God for the benefit of His people. Abraham was disobedient, Moses was a murderer who stuttered, David was the youngest and the runt of the family, Esther was an orphan. All of these people changed the trajectory of the world not because they were perfect, but because they were brave and willing to go forward.

Unfortunately, the enemies of Israel did not disappear with Haman and his sons, or the Nazi cowards of World War II. The modern enemies of Israel take on more insidious forms than their predecessors, and some of them were recently granted visas to the United States in order to attend the UN General Assembly this week.

While the Book of Esther is set in ancient history, its principles remain true today. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are modern-day Hamans. Like Haman the Agagite, they have not been discreet about their plans for Israel and the Jewish people. In fact, Iran’s weapons are emblazoned with the words “death to Israel.” So, what are we willing to do about it?

Between Two Promised Lands

In his new book, ‘We Stand Divided,’ Daniel Gordis examines the deep roots of the growing rift between American and Israeli Jews

In the book’s most stimulating and provocative chapter, Gordis presents American and Israeli conceptions of democracy as being fundamentally at odds. In the U.S., politics have been organized around the right to free and equal exchange in the public square, Gordis argues, and American Jews acculturated into this system have come to idealize a form of “naked” democracy, utterly stripped of all cultural symbols. Such “hypercivility,” as Gordis describes it, is incompatible with the Jewish particularism that is a founding mission of Israel, a nation created, after all, not to enshrine universal values but to ensure the survival of a single people. “For long before there was a Jewish state, there was an implicit understanding in the yishuv that Jewish substance should pervade Israel’s ether,” Gordis writes. Accordingly, Shabbat sirens in Jerusalem, temporary halting of bus services, strict religious conversion standards, and even forbidding the public display of hametz during Passover are seen as legitimate, and necessary, infringements on individual rights to preserve Judaism’s national identity.

To uphold the divide between Israeli and American Jews as the result of incompatible visions of Judaism and democratic politics rather than a temporary, contingent rift, Gordis can, at times, reduce the internal complexity in both of these communities to a simple binary contrast. We Stand Divided sometimes skirts around the deep divisions emerging within the American and Israeli camps by granting the two groups singular voices where they are more often characterized by a cacophonous bickering that may be unhelpful for illustrating stark themes, but are instinctively recognizable background noise to Jews all over the world. For instance, Gordis’ suggestion of consensus among Israelis regarding their nation’s ethnic democracy threatens to suffocate the great national divisions within Israel over religion’s growing political prominence and the treatment of minority groups—divisions that have animated the last several Israeli elections and contributed to the country’s political gridlock.

We Stand Divided is a natural progression from Gordis’ previous work, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, offering a broad spectrum of readers, from the unacquainted to the well informed, a constructive, digestible framework for interpreting recent developments in the American-Israeli relationship. Gordis succeeds in demonstrating the essential point of We Stand Divided in that today’s strained ties are neither new nor novel. “I argue that although most observers believe that the fraught relationship is due to what Israel does, a closer look at Jewish communities in Israel and the United States suggests that the real reason has to do with what Israel is,” Gordis writes. Locating the divisions over Israel as a matter of essence rather than particular actions, Gordis suggests that Israeli and American Jews are prone to misunderstand each other—but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to inevitably drift further apart. That remains to be seen and depends partly on whether they can look honestly at what divides them.

Ireland Ignores Palestinian Textbooks that Encourage Hatred of Israelis

I was surprised and genuinely shocked to learn that the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has turned a blind eye to the toxic indoctrination of Palestinian children who are being fed a hate-filled version of their history. In 2010 a new initiative was launched between the Palestinian Authority and five European states to support the education sector. Ireland was to focus on curriculum development and basic education as the lead nation on textbook development. The result is that the bad old PA curriculum is now much worse.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) monitors school textbooks to see how they measure up to UNESCO and UN standards for peace and tolerance. What emerged from the Palestinian Ministry of Education was filled with violent wording and is openly anti-Semitic: Jews control the world and are corrupt, there is no possibility of peace with Israel, martyrdom and jihad are the most important things in life, and “dying is better than living.” Killers classified by the UN as terrorists are glorified as role models and heroes to be emulated.

Marcus Sheff, chief executive officer of IMPACT-SE, has been astounded by the silence of Ireland. “The Irish Government is involved in these textbooks to a greater extent than any other donor government,” he noted.

David Collier: The ‘Palestine’ obsession at the Labour Party conference

Speaker after speaker spoke of the horrors of Palestine. It really is an amazing thing to hear. I am standing inside an event deeply connected with a mainstream political party in the UK, but I may as well be at a Hamas propaganda rally.

The speakers have all been to ‘Palestine’. They’ve been because it is safe to go. They get met by delightful hosts who are all too willing to take them everywhere they have been told they want to go. These delegations get showered with love and talk of justice. When they return – they are activated.

The crowd is white. Just as the audience in the hall was. A mix of nasties. The toxic Miko Peled, the ex -Irish Republicans, the ageing Marxists and the antisemites. Mixed in with them are a few yet to be fully converted. Hanging around the back of the room where the Arabs. They weren’t participants – but just there to make sure all these naive puppets play their roles as expected.

The nation state law becomes something it is not. The Gaza blockade ‘doesn’t let anything in or out’. Lie after lie. This isn’t political opinion, but rather a twisted bubble of hate-filled balderdash. The audience get told that Israel demolished 10 – yes, that is 10 – houses. Excuse me for interrupting but have you seen the 500,000 people who have just been slaughtered in Syria? 10 houses. I am willing to wager that there is barely a council in the UK that hasn’t forcibly purchased and destroyed more than 10 houses recently.

UK Labour overwhelmingly backs anti-Israel agenda should Corbyn take power

Britain’s Labour party on Monday called for a future government led by Jeremy Corbyn to adopt a raft of anti-Israel policies.

With a general election expected before the end of the year, Labour delegates, at the party’s annual conference in Brighton, overwhelmingly backed a boycott of Israeli settlement goods for the first time and vowed to reject trade agreements with the Jewish state which “fail to recognize the rights of the Palestinians.”

The party also appeared to endorse a Palestinian “right to return” and reaffirmed Labour’s opposition to British arms sales to Israel.

The debate was part of a wider session on foreign policy, which was dominated by discussion on Labour’s stance on Brexit.

The anti-Israel motion was passed nearly unanimously in Brighton after a debate in which Palestinian flags were unfurled and chants of “Free Palestine” were shouted.

The move followed the release of polling on Sunday which showed that two-thirds of Labour members do not believe the party has a “serious” problem with anti-Semitism, and more than half oppose the UK signing a trade agreement with Israel after Britain leaves the European Union.

Jewish Pro-Palestinian Activist at UK Labour Conference Hails Corbyn, Claims No Antisemitism in Party

A Jewish pro-Palestinian activist and member of the UK Labour party hailed leader Jeremy Corbyn at the party’s annual conference on Monday, claiming there is no antisemitism in the party.

Polls have shown that the overwhelming majority of British Jews view the far-left Corbyn as personally antisemitic. Since he took charge of the party in 2015, Labour has been beset by antisemitism scandals that have seen multiple members and officials suspended or expelled, and prompted an investigation by the country’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Daily Mail reported that Vanessa Stilwell, a Jewish member of the party, did not see it this way, however.

A member of Jewish Voice for Labour, a fringe group that seeks to deflect accusations of antisemitism, she declared that she was “one of thousands of Jews in this party who have never experienced any antisemitism and who support Jeremy Corbyn as the most anti-racist leader this party has ever had.”

“I want to speak in support of our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” she said. “There are far too few in this party.”

Labour has an antisemitism problem – Labour Conference 2019

We challenged Labour journalist Lizzie Fletcher from The Canary and Skwawkbox at the #LabourConference2019 on whether Labour has an antisemitism problem. To all the non-Jewish Labour members who approached us expressing solidarity with us against antisemitism in their party, thank you ????

Labour invited congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as BDS chief Omar Barghouti to address Party Conference

The Labour Party reportedly invited Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Party congresswoman from the United States who has repeatedly courted controversy over antisemitic tweets and statements for which she has not fully apologised, to speak at their Party Conference.

Ms Omar has tweeted that Israel “hypnotises” the world and suggested that American lawmakers’ support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins”, a reference to the $100 bill, which is adorned with the picture of Benjamin Franklin, and an allusion to supposed Jewish financial clout. She has also spoken of people “push[ing] for allegiance to a foreign country,” a statement redolent of dual loyalty charges made against Jews.

Ms Omar reportedly declined the invitation to attend the Party Conference.

Also invited was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another controversial US congresswoman, who back in February spoke to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the telephone, for which she subsequently apologised after being made aware of his and Labour’s antisemitism. Ms Ocasio-Cortez also declined the invitation, citing commitments in the United States. The Labour Party noted that Congress is currently in session, which may make travel difficult for legislators.

Another controversial speaker, Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, who rejects Israel as a Jewish State, was invited to speak, but reportedly has been unable to obtain an entry visa to the UK.

In Indy op-ed, Omar Barghouti blames Israel for his UK visa delay

In a Sept. 23rd Independent op-ed, BDS leader Omar Barghouti, who rejects Israel’s right to exist, responded to the fact that he was unable to speak at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (due to his visa request being delayed) by peddling a conspiracy theory.

I was set to take part in a Labour Party conference fringe event this weekend talking about my work advocating for Palestinian rights – but was unable to travel to Brighton because of a peculiar delay in the processing of my UK visa application. I suspect that Israel’s far-right government has once again outsourced its desperate war of repression against those supporting Palestinian rights to another western government.

Barghouti’s suggestion is clear: that his visa application delay was not the fault of the UK Home Office, or even Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but, rather, the government in Jerusalem – an allegation of Israeli control over foreign governments for which he naturally provides no evidence.

Further in his op-ed, Barghouti – who addressed the Labour conference via a video link – also frames his visa delay as part of what he characterises as a “shrinking space” for pro-Palestinian activism in the UK. Of course, this charge would come as a huge surprise to the those attending the Labour conference, which some likened to a big Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally.

McDonnell’s LRC Raffling Steve Bell Cartoons Deemed Anti-Semitic by Guardian

A group John McDonnell is president of has been offering cartoons deemed too anti-Semitic to be published by the Guardian as raffle prizes. At the Labour Representation Committee event, the panel included suspended Labour Party figures Chris Williamson and Jackie Walker. The Independent’s Benjamin Kentish is reporting that Jeremy Corbyn’s wife attended too…

The cartoons by Steve Bell involve Netanyahu holding puppets of Boris and Trump as Tom Watson, dressed as a 17th century witchfinder general, rides behind him on a horse of the apocalypse he calls ‘auto-excluder’. The group decided to auction the cartoons because of the Guardian’s decision to refuse to publish them, not despite it…

Former Labour MP and Government Anti-Semitism Tsar John Mann told Guido the organisers of the event should lose their roles in the LRC. “I’m sure that McDonnell will want to have the people who organised this event removed from his organisation. I am sure he will want them replaced and removed as swiftly as possible and I am sure that Corbyn will back him in that.”

A spokesman from the Jewish Leadership Council has questioned the shadow chancellor’s role in the organisation “John McDonnell has been made aware of the issues with LRC on multiple occasions.” McDonnell’s people tell Guido that he has “no day to day involvement in the operation of the LRC and is not responsible for its activities”. But he remains president of the organisation…

Holocaust denier Alison Chabloz jailed for continuing to blog despite social media ban

A singer and Holocaust denier who was convicted of broadcasting “grossly offensive” songs about Jews has been jailed after violating her sentence by posting on her blog.

Alison Chabloz, 55, made “at least 50” separate posts on her website, which was deemed to be in breach of the terms of her suspended sentence she receied in May 2018 for her songs.

Chabloz, from Charlesworth in Derbyshire, was convicted last year for writing, performing and publishing songs which mocked Jews and the Holocaust.

The charges related to songs titled Nemo’s Antisemitic Universe, I Like It How It Is, performed at the right-wing London Forum in 2016, and a third, titled (((survivors))).

In the latter, Chabloz mocked Jewish figures, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, as well as Anne and Otto Frank, to the tune of Hava Nagila.

She was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, which was suspended for two years, and ordered to abstain from posting on social media for 12 months.

CAA commends Waterstones for cancelling book launch featuring Ken Loach and conspiracy theorist David Miller

Waterstones in Brighton has cancelled a Monday evening event on the fringes of Labour Party Conference to mark the launch of Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief.

The event was to feature the author of the book, Prof. David Miller of the University of Bristol. Prof Miller is a conspiracy theorist who has been the subject of complaints by students and Jewish communal bodies. In the past, Prof. Miller has belittled antisemitism in the Labour Party as “mostly false”, condemned Ken Livingstone’s treatment by the Party as a “disgrace” and dismissed concerns about the safety of Jewish students on campus.

The controversial filmmaker, Ken Loach, was also expected to feature at the book launch. Mr Loach caused outrage in 2017 when, during an interview with the BBC, he refused to denounce Holocaust denial.

The event was part of a schedule also featuring Jackie Walker and Chris Williamson MP. Ms Walker is a former vice-chair of Momentum who was repeatedly suspended by Labour and finally expelled earlier this year and who has persistently claimed that complaints of antisemitism are part of a plot to destabilise the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and has rejected the International Definition of Antisemitism. Mr Williamson was suspended from Labour and then readmitted, only to be resuspended following a public outcry after claiming that Labour has been “too apologetic” over antisemitism.

Police foil attempt to smuggle British Flag into Labour Party Conference (satire)

A crisis was narrowly averted today by quick-thinking security personnel at Britain’s annual Labour Conference. A man carrying the Union Jack attempted to gain access to the Conference this morning but was stopped before he reached the auditorium. The Daily Freier was on the scene to get all of the facts.

“I knew something was amiss when the individual did not quickly provide a list of preferred pronouns.” explained a Momentum activist named Stephanie at the Credentialing Booth. “Then I noticed that he had a bizarre handkerchief in his pocket with red and white crosses on a blue background. He said it was a keffiyeh, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. I remembered seeing that thing on a Spice Girls album a long time ago. That’s when I called the Police.”

As the man was led away in handcuffs, frightened attendees shared their feelings with the Daily Freier. “This is absolutely terrifying.” stated a volunteer wearing a “Free Gaza” smock. “Yet the fear I felt is the same that the people of Jenin have felt since 1967. Today’s events have placed me in greater in Solidarity with Palestine. Yalla.”

UN releases ‘unprecedented’ report linking anti-Semitism to BDS movement

Israeli, Jewish and pro-Israel groups all applauded the publication of an ‘unprecedented’ United Nations report on anti-Semitism, that, among other issues, links anti-Semitism to criticism of Israel and the BDS movement.

“This report marks one of the first times the U.N. has addressed the issue of anti-Semitism in any detail,” said Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor and U.N. Liaison at NGO Monitor. “The Special Rapporteur condemned the use of anti-Semitic tropes and denial of Israel’s right to exist by BDS activists. Importantly, the Rapporteur also recommends the IHRA definition as a useful tool in combating anti-Semitism. Hopefully, U.N. bodies, particularly the Human Rights Council, will follow the Rapporteur’s lead by adopting IHRA and ending their promotion of anti-Semitic tropes and attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.”

The report, “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” that was released by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, defines anti-Semitism as a global phenomenon—not one largely confined to the United States and Europe—as has been the case in many previous U.N. reports. The Special Rapporteur recognizes that the sources of anti-Semitism are varied, coming from the far right, from members of radical Islamist groups and from the political left.

The report identifies violence, discrimination and expressions of hostility motivated by Jew-hatred as a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It expresses “serious concern that the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude and that the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the risk of violence against Jewish individuals and sites appears to be significant, including in countries with little or no Jewish population.”

UNC denies claims of ‘pro-Islam’ bias in Mideast studies program

The University of North Carolina is disputing the Trump administration’s accusations of bias in a Middle East studies program that the school operates with Duke University.

In a letter sent to the department Friday and obtained by The Associated Press through a records request on Monday, UNC’s research chief defends the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, saying it has been a leader in Middle Eastern language studies for years.

UNC, which houses the consortium, was responding to an Aug. 29 letter from the department. Threatening to cut federal grant money, the department said the program focused too much on cultural offerings and not on language or national security and that it also placed too much emphasis on “the positive aspects of Islam” and not other religions.

Terry Magnuson, the school’s vice chancellor for research, said UNC and Duke were the first universities in the Southeast to teach Middle Eastern languages on a regular basis. He said that UNC started offering Arabic classes in 1959 and that it now has the nation’s highest enrollment in the Urdu language and the eighth highest in both Arabic and Turkish.

He rebuffed the argument that the consortium fails to provide adequate instruction on national security and economic issues, saying it hosts dozens of programs a year on the topics, sometimes featuring former national security officials from the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations.

Writers back UK author stripped of tolerance prize for support of Israel boycott

More than 250 writers have come to the defense of British author Kamila Shamsie, after a German literary prize withdrew its award due to her support for the anti-Israel boycott movement.

They signed an open letter published on Monday in the London Review of Books that said that the Nelly Sachs prize has chosen to “punish an author for her human rights advocacy.”

The prize, named for the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning German-born poet and playwright Nelly Sachs (1891-1970), recognizes authors who champion “tolerance, respect and reconciliation.” The 15,000-euro prize, or about $16.5 thousand, is presented every two years. The German city of Dortmund runs the award.

Shamsie has refused to allow her works to be published in Israel.

The eight-member jury awarded Pakistan-born Shamsie the prize on September 6, but after learning of her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel announced on September 20 that it would withdraw the award.

BBC’s ‘Dateline London’ misleads viewers on IHRA definition

Interrupting another panellist, she went on:
Alibhai Brown: “And one must not forget…it becomes so normative but what’s been happening in Gaza in the last three or four years is unspeakable.”

Sacerdoti interjected to point out that “what’s been happening in Gaza” includes the launching of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, to which Alibhai Brown retorted with a dog whistle reference to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
Alibhai Brown: “It’s horrible and we are not talking about it here, partly because of this ridiculous definition that was forced upon us that we may not discuss some issues.”

The IHRA definition of course says nothing of the sort but Ley made no effort to intervene and clarify the matter to audiences. As Sacerdoti pointed out that the Gaza Strip is controlled by a terrorist organisation, Alibhai Brown interrupted:
Alibhai Brown: “But you don’t punish the people. You don’t shoot twelve-year-olds.”

That context-free allegation also failed to prompt a reaction from Ley.

US Jewish men attacked in 2 fresh Brooklyn incidents

US Jewish men were attacked in two incidents in Brooklyn neighborhoods in recent days.

The New York borough has seen a number of assaults against identifiable Jews in the past several months.

On Monday, a man walking to morning prayers in the Gravesend neighborhood was verbally assaulted before the assailant attempted to punch him several times. The attack was first reported by New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch in a tweet. He said the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating the incident.

On Friday, a group of seven youths knocked the shtreimels — the fur hats often worn by some married ultra-Orthodox men on Shabbat and Jewish festivals — off the heads of two Hasidic Jews in the Williamsburg neighborhood in an incident caught on surveillance video.

On Sunday, dozens of people gathered in City Hall Park for a rally condemning the increasing number of anti-Semitic attacks taking place throughout the city. They condemned city officials for not taking more action to stop the attacks from happening.

There have been 152 anti-Semitic hate crimes so far this year in the city, according to the NYPD, compared with 93 in 2018.

Jewish atty. for Trenton, NJ resigns over anti-Semitic comments

An attorney under contract with the city of Trenton, New Jersey, resigned after the City Council president used the term “Jew her down” during an executive session earlier this month.

Stuart Platt sent a letter of resignation to the city clerk on Thursday, giving up a $25,000 contract to serve as the city’s redevelopment attorney, the Trentonian reported.

“I am an American and I am a Jew. I am resigning because of the disgraceful and shameful anti-Semitic remarks that were in fact made by the council president of the city of Trenton, Kathy McBride,” Platt wrote. “The vitriolic and hateful anti-Semitic comments were exacerbated by councilwoman Robin Vaughn, who defended McBride by saying that the word ‘Jew’ is a verb and then claiming not to know this is an anti-Semitic slur.”

Platt also criticized Councilman George Muschal, who defended the use of the phrase, saying it is “used all the time.”

McBride was criticizing a personal injury settlement.

“I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down,” she said at the Sept. 5 meeting. The city attorney who handled the settlement is Jewish.

The three council members, amid calls for their resignations, have apologized for their use and defense of the term.

But Platt remains steadfast.

Swastika graffiti found on Michigan synagogue

Officials said graffiti that included Nazi symbols was found spraypainted on a synagogue in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

David Holden, president of Temple Jacob in Hancock, said the graffiti was discovered Saturday by someone who noticed the vandalism and called police.

The Daily Mining Gazette reported swastikas were spraypainted on the synagogue, as well as the symbol of the SS, a Nazi paramilitary organization.

Holden said nothing was damaged inside the synagogue. Police are investigating.

The newspaper reported people came by the same day the damage was reported to help clean off the graffiti. Holden said that response was “really remarkable.”

Convicted Nazi who escaped justice dies in Germany at 96

Karl Muenter, a former SS soldier who was convicted in France of a wartime massacre but who never served any time for his crimes, has died in northwestern Germany. He was 96.

Marcus Tischbier, a representative of the district mayor’s office in Nordstemmen, the village where Muenter lived, confirmed Monday that the man had died on Friday. He had no further details.

Muenter was a sergeant with the 12th SS Panzer Division “Hitler Youth,” which was responsible for the massacre of 86 men in Ascq, France in April 1944, about two months before the Allied D-Day landings.

After partisans blew up a railroad line being used to shuttle German troops to Normandy, Muenter and other members of the division were ordered to arrest all males in the town. The victims, ranging from teenagers to the elderly, were lined up and shot.

The sergeant was convicted in absentia of war crimes and sentenced to death by a French court after the war, along with other participants in the massacre.

But by the time he was tracked down in 2013 in the Lower Saxony village where he lived at the home of one of the great-grandson of one of the Ascq victims, the statute of limitations had passed.

1000 join March of The Living in Lithuania

On Lithuanian Holocaust Memorial Day, 1000 participants and graduates of “March of the Living” from across Europe marched through the Ponary Forest where 70,000 Jews were murdered in World War II.

National Memorial Day for the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews is observed on September 23, the day that the Vilna Ghetto was liquidated in 1943, sealing the fate of the Jews living there, most of whom were either murdered in Ponary or sent to extermination camps.

The march through Ponary Forest serves as a response to the death marches from the Ponary Railway Station to the mass graves where many were murdered.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, and Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, Viktoras Prankietis, joined the march.

Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the International March of the Living said “This march exists, in tandem with two days of educational seminars and the attendance of so many young people who came here on Lithuanian Holocaust Memorial Day is an essential response which faces the rising waves of hatred around us.”

DustPhotonics, maker of optical connectivity devices, nabs Intel Capital funds

DustPhotonics, a maker of pluggable high-speed optical transceivers and cables for data centers and high-performance computing connectivity, said it has raised a Series B investment of $25 million led by Intel Capital, the VC arm of tech giant Intel Corp.

The investor is joined by VC firm WRVI Capital, and the round also includes continued investment from semiconductor entrepreneur Avigdor Willenz, who in 2000 sold chip maker Galileo to Marvell Technologies for $2.7 billion.

The money raised will help DustPhotonics further develop its the next generation products and expand its operations and global market presence, the Modiin-Maccabim-Re’ut-based startup said in a statement.

“Our optical transceiver products address the key and challenging requirements for hyperscale applications, and we will also leverage our electro-optic technology in high-density, future architectures,” said Ben Rubovitch, CEO and co-founder of DustPhotonics, in the statement.

As data rates double with every successive generation, so does the complexity for meeting demands for lower cost, lower power and higher reliability technologies that allow better performance, the statement said.

Israeli start-up Fundbox raises $326m. for hi-tech credit platform

Israeli fintech start-up Fundbox has raised $176 million in a Series C funding round and secured a $150 million credit facility to expand its business-to-business (B2B) payment and credit network service, the company announced Monday.

Fundbox said the investments totaling $326m. will enable more companies to use its machine learning and big data-driven online lending platform, boosting the start-up’s stated goal of “democratizing access to credit and credit services.”

Co-founded by Israeli entrepreneurs Eyal Shinar, Tomer Michaeli and Yuval Ariav in 2012, the San Francisco-headquartered firm aims to eliminate cash flow unpredictability by quickly providing short-term cash loans and credit for small and medium-sized businesses through its platform.

Fundbox employs approximately 250 workers at its Israeli development center and San Francisco and Dallas offices.

The Series C round was oversubscribed, the company said, and secured backing from a long list of major institutional investors, including Allianz X, Cathay Innovation, Arbor Ventures and Hamilton Lane. Existing investors also participated in the round, including Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst and Spark Capital Growth.

“The status quo for B2B transactions is uncertain cash flow and antiquated payment systems, which stifles business growth,” Shinar said. “The remedy to this uncertainty is the ability to facilitate quick risk decisions, faster payments, and more flexible terms so our customers have greater predictability related to their revenue and cash flow. This new investment round validates the market opportunity and that our team is on the right path as we continue to focus on transforming B2B commerce for the better.”
Fundbox has recruited about 100 employees over the last year, and now plans to hire a further 80 employees to expand its development and data departments.

Facebook buys Israeli startup to give better bot service to digital wallet users

Social media giant Facebook has acquired Israeli startup Servicefriend for an undisclosed amount of money, TheMarker financial paper reported Sunday, citing one of the investors in the company.

The startup, founded in 2015 by Shahar Ben Ami and Ido Arad, builds bots that chat and interact with clients via messaging or text apps, using artificial intelligence. The hybrid technology developed by the firm enables humans to step in and take over when the bots don’t know how to handle a situation, and clients never find out if the messages were generated completely, partly or not at all by humans. The result is a “natural and conversational experience.” the startup’s website says.

In some cases, the startup says, the bots outperform human agents in terms of customer satisfaction by over 20 percent.

Facebook has confirmed the acquisition, saying in a text message: “We acquire smaller tech companies from time to time. We don’t always discuss our plans.”

Hyundai to Test Hydrogen-Fuelled Trucks in Israel

The Hyundai Motor Company is set to conduct an extensive pilot of hydrogen-fueled trucks in Israel in 2020, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke with Calcalist on condition of anonymity. A Hyundai delegation visited Israel last month to advance the venture and met with executives at the Prime Minister’s offices, the people said.

The test will be executed by Israeli automotive retailer Colmobil and transportation and logistics company Taavura Holdings, which owns the largest local fleet of trucks, the sources added.

Hydrogen vehicles have existed since the 1960s but have never been widely adopted due to the high availability and low costs of petrol and diesel. Unlike petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles, which operate by burning fuel and creating pollutants, hydrogen vehicles utilize an electrochemical process that converts hydrogen and creates electricity and water as byproducts. The electricity is stored in the vehicle’s battery.

Increasingly stringent environmental regulations implemented in recent years have caused some global manufacturers to turn back to hydrogen vehicles, among them Hyundai and Toyota. Truck manufacturers are also affected by the new regulations, as they are considered highly polluting vehicles. Hyundai has already presented a hydrogen truck that started operating in Europe earlier this year, with a stated driving range of 400 kilometers between fueling. The company said it intends to start using hydrogen trucks in Switzerland and New Zealand in 2020.

Art and ethics mingle, as controversial Nazi-era Gurlitt Trove comes to Israel

A much-anticipated exhibition at the Israel Museum, showcasing works once held by an art dealer with extensive ties to the Nazis, provides for a potent mix of art, history, and ethical debate.

“Fateful Choices: Art from the Gurlitt Trove” features some 100 works of art from a 1,500-strong collection, discovered in 2012, which had been gathered by Hildebrand Gurlitt, a museum director, art dealer — and questionable agent for the Hitler regime.

The trove was celebrated when it was first publicized, but tainted by the realization that it surely included pieces that were looted or taken from families who suffered and died during the Holocaust. Several works from the collection have indeed since been restituted.

The exhibit, which officially opens Tuesday, September 24 and closes January 15, 2020, was marked and celebrated Monday night, as curator Shlomit Steinberg, museum director Ido Bruno, German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer, and other visiting dignitaries from Germany and Switzerland gathered to view the exhibit and reflect on its development.

The three galleries used in “Fateful Choices” explore works from the trove and expose the range of the kind of artworks that Gurlitt amassed throughout his career.

Bulgaria opens first Jewish school in over 20 years

Bulgaria’s Jewish community opened its first Jewish school in over 20 years.

The opening last week of the Ronald S. Lauder Day School in Sofia is a significant development for the some 6,000 members of the Jewish minority in Bulgaria.

Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress and a major donor to Jewish communities and organizations, attended the school’s opening in Sofia, the capital, on September 15, WJC said in a statement.

Prior to the opening of the school, whose 88 students are all under 12, Bulgarian Jewry had a Jewish school in the Lauder-ORT No. 134 “Dimcho Debelianov” Jewish School in Sofia. However, No. 134 is a public school that in 1998 received, with support from the Lauder Foundation, some Jewish-oriented content, including Hebrew language classes, in addition to its regular curriculum.

Vilnius, a hub of Torah study destroyed by Nazis, to get new yeshiva

A rabbi in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is opening there what he says is the city’s first yeshiva, or Jewish religious seminary, since World War II.

The Vilna Yeshiva will have about a dozen students when it opens this fall, Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s emissary to Vilnius, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Vilnius used to have many dozens of yeshivas and synagogues before the Holocaust, when it was a major hub of Jewish religious and cultural life. The Nazis and local collaborators, however, killed more than 90 percent of Lithuanian Jewry. Today, about 3,000 Jews live in Lithuania and Vilnius has one functioning synagogue, the Choral Synagogue, where Krinsky officiates.

“The Vilna Yeshiva will restore a semblance of that intensive Torah study, back to its roots,” Krinsky said.

Krinsky and other teachers will teach the teenagers attending the yeshiva, he said. They hail from Jewish religious Orthodox families from several countries and will study at the yeshiva on a full-time basis, he said.

Gandhi wished Jews ‘era of peace’ on day WWII began, newly released letter shows

On the same day World War II broke out in Europe, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a short Jewish New Year greeting to a local Indian Jewish official, offering ominous good wishes to his “afflicted people.”

The National Library of Israel recently unearthed the 80-year-old handwritten letter during a massive review of millions of its archival documents. It was publishing it online Tuesday for the first time, offering a glimpse into the father of modern India’s complex relationship with the Holocaust.

“You have my good wishes for your new year,” Gandhi wrote to Avraham Shohet, the head of the Bombay Zionist Association, on September 1, 1939. “How I wish the new year may mean an era of peace for your afflicted people.”

The famed pacifist who would ultimately lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British Rule, inspiring future civil rights movements, expressed deep compassion for the plight of European Jews. But he also faced criticism for not speaking up forcefully enough against their persecution. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

Gandhi advocated only for non-violent resistance to the Nazis and sent a conciliatory letter to Adolf Hitler in which he addressed the Fuhrer as a “friend” and wrote that he did not believe the German dictator was the “monster” his opponents described.

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