October 21, 2019

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09/25 Links Pt2: Israel, US urge EU to take action against anti-Semitic boycott movement; British Labour Party Adopts Anti-Israel Policies, First One on BDS; Berlin cancels Palestinian terror concert

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2019/09/0925-links-pt2-israel-us-urge-eu-to.html

From Ian:


Israel, US urge EU to take action against anti-Semitic boycott movement
Israeli and US officials warned Wednesday of a rise in attacks on Jews in western Europe and urged European Union leaders to stop funding organizations that support an international boycott of Israel, claiming they are encouraging anti-Semitism.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said before meeting with a group of European lawmakers that the EU should make sure its money does not go to groups that support the Palestinian-led boycott movement.

In Brussels, Erdan also released a report cataloging alleged examples of BDS branches or activists using anti-Semitic content in their campaigns.

He accused movement activists of hiding their true agenda behind liberal values such as protecting human rights and freedom of expression.

“BDS leaders who use anti-Semitic language and images that also prove their principles, of boycotting the Jew among the nations, Israel, are anti-Semitic,” Erdan said.

The report included 80 examples of what Erdan called anti-Semitism by key European promoters of the BDS movement against Israel.

Behind the Mask: Denying the Jewish People Their Right to Self Determination is Antisemitism

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) defines the denial of the Jewish right to self-determination as antisemitism. IHRA is accepted in over 18 Western countries and over 30 US states. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs exposes the antisemitism of BDS leaders in a new report called “Behind the Mask”.

France Welcomes the Saudis, Condemns Critics of Islam

“Mohammed Al-Issa, who heads the World Islamic League, is credited for more than 500 executions when he was Minister of Justice of Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2015, and countless orders of torture including the conviction of the famous Raif Badawi with 1.000 lashes.” — Michel Taube, Le Figaro, September 16, 2019.

Raif Badawi has just launched a hunger strike over mistreatment by the Saudi prison officials. “As part of their cruel crackdown, they’ve just confiscated his books & crucial medication.” — Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Justice Minister and head of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, in a tweet.

How can France, the country of “liberty, equality, fraternity,” welcome the former Saudi minister who was in charge of Badawi’s torture and imprisonment… who condemns apostates to death and inflicts public flagellation on dissidents such as Badawi?

Right after the extremist massacre at the weekly Charlie Hebdo, then-French President François Hollande invited the Saudis to join the march of solidarity in Paris. When the Saudis returned home, they started flogging Badawi.

Among the French Muslims, political Islam is rapidly increasing. Instead of embracing the West where they were born, the youngest generations are rejecting it.

Éric Zemmour, apparently, was found “guilty” by a French court of saying that Muslims should be given “the choice between Islam and France” and that “in innumerable French suburbs there is a struggle to Islamize territory”. Freedom of expression… [is] under threat in France.

Berlin cancels Palestinian terror concert

After Israel’s ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff and his counterpart US ambassador Richard Grenell urged Berlin authorities to ban a slated Wednesday event with two Palestinian rappers who glorify terrorism against the Jewish state, the government of the German capital city relented at the 11th hour on Wednesday.

Martin Pallgen, a spokesman for the city’s interior ministry senator, wrote on Twitter: ”A decision with a ban on political activity is ready and will be sent to the musicians.” However, the pro-Palestinian rally was not banned.

Issacharoff tweeted on Tuesday: “I appeal to the #Berlin authorities to prevent this disturbing event at the Brandenburg Gate featuring antisemitic rhetoric and glorification of violence against Israel. Berlin should unite, not divide!”

Grenell said that he agrees with Issacharoff’s appeal and that the “rappers sing about the annihilation of Jews.”

Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller, who is reeling from hosting an antisemitic Iranian mayor of Tehran just weeks ago, faced another crisis moment. Müller has been accused over the years of being soft toward rising Jew-hatred in Germany’s capital.

The Palestinian rappers, Shadi Al-Bourini and Qassem Al-Najjar, have sung for military action against Tel Aviv and urged the destruction of Israel.

In 2012, a video featuring a song by the duo circulated Palestinian websites threatened Israel and promised to attack Tel Aviv, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Their music was “accompanied by still images of rockets being fired, a plane being shot out of the sky, and Israelis injured and bracing for imminent landing of rockets, among others,” MEMRI said.

The rappers sung: “Strike a blow at Tel Aviv. Strike a blow at Tel Aviv. Strike a blow at Tel Aviv and frighten the Zionists. The more you build it the more we will destroy it.”

Supreme Court Delays Decision on Deportation of Human Rights Watch Director

Israel’s Supreme Court decided Tuesday to push off making a decision regarding the deportation of Human Rights Watch’s Israel/Palestine Director Omar Shakir until after Rosh Hashanah, extending a 14-month legal battle centering on whether Shakir is engaged in illegal boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities in Israel.

In a hearing Tuesday, the court appeared to agree with Shakir’s lawyer, who argued that the decision should be postponed until the new government is formed, because new officials could have a different perspective on his client’s case.

Shakir was initially denied a work visa to enter Israel in 2017, due to Israeli concerns that he was engaged in “Palestinian propaganda.” He ultimately received a temporary, one-year permit in April 2017, the same year that Israel passed a law allowing it to deport or bar entry to any foreign national publicly backing or promoting the BDS movement.

The United States, of which Shakir is a citizen, criticized Israel’s visa denial.

In 2018, Israel’s Interior Ministry rejected Shakir for a work and residency permit, citing his alleged support of a boycott of Israel on social media.

Shakir and Human Rights Watch said Shakir has not promoted a boycott of Israel, and accused Israel of attempting to thwart criticism of its policies through the use of the 2017 law.

HRW criticized an April court decision to uphold the deportation of Shakir as a “new and dangerous interpretation of the law,” due to its equating of Shakir’s promotion of boycotting Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria with promotion of boycotting Israel.

British Labour Party Adopts Anti-Israel Policies, Including First Formal One on BDS

The British Labour Party voted in on Tuesday several anti-Israel policies, including what is believed to be its first formal policy regarding BDS.

During the Labour Party conference in Brighton, delegates voted to support a boycott of Israeli settlement goods and called for the rejection of trade agreements with Israel. Reports noted that the nearly unanimous vote came after attendees shouted “Free Palestine.” The party also reaffirmed its opposition to British arms sales to Israel and endorsed the Palestinian “right to return.”

Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber condemned the vote, calling the party a “home for anti-Jewish racists and Israel-haters.”

“It’s depressing but thoroughly unsurprising that Labour has today ended its decades old opposition to the extremist Israel boycott movement. Boycotts do nothing to bring about peace and are designed entirely to demonize Israel,” said Gerber. “With [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn now uniquely singling out the world’s only Jewish state for boycotts, it’s no wonder the Jewish community fears the prospect of him becoming prime minister. This is another dark day in the history of the Labour Party.”

The conference has been stirring controversy since it began this weekend.

One pamphlet distributed at the conference revealed Corbyn’s support for the 2002 Cairo Declaration, which accuses Israel of apartheid, while another pamphlet compared Israel to Nazis. Other materials at the conference include an anti-Semitic banner, later removed by police, and fliers that accused the Jewish Labour Movement of defending the “racist apartheid State of Israel.”

Rachel Riley cites Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Corbyn petition on Peston

The TV personality and activist, Rachel Riley, appeared on ITV’s Peston on Thursday and observed that over 55,000 people have signed Campaign Against Antisemitism’s petition denouncing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”

Ms Riley was discussing her campaign to encourage users of social media not to engage with trolls, noting that when she began speaking out about antisemitism she became “subject to racist abuse”. Challenged by host Robert Peston when she labelled Mr Corbyn an “antisemite”, Ms Riley cited the petition, as well as a 2018 poll that showed that over 85% of British Jews regard the Labour leader as antisemitic.

On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.

In recent months, twelve MPs and three peers have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with a large number of MEPs, councillors and members.

London Mayor Accosted by Labour Activists for Speaking to Jewish Group

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was accosted on the street on Monday by Labour party activists outraged by his speech before a Jewish organization that has been critical of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is widely seen as antisemitic.

The Daily Mail reported that journalist Jonathan Freedland stated he was speaking to Khan outside the party’s annual conference in Brighton after Khan spoke to the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), a century-old organization of Jewish party activists.

Two Labour members approached Khan and demanded to know why he had given the speech.

Khan replied, “To show solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

One of the activists then said, “But they’re Zionists. Why would you show support to Israeli Zionists?”

JLM is not an Israeli organization.

Khan asked, “Why do you assume that members of the British Jewish community support every action of the Israeli government?”

Freedland recounted, “They answered that ‘these Israeli Zionists’ were trying to destabilize Labour and undermine Jeremy Corbyn: JLM should be expelled. Why hadn’t Khan gone to the Jewish Voice for Labour event, rather than supporting a group they again referred to as ‘Israeli Zionists.’”

Jewish Voice for Labour is a far-left organization founded in 2017 to deflect accusations of antisemitism against Corbyn. It is viewed by British Jews as out of the mainstream, as polls show the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider Corbyn personally antisemitic.

Libel claims to be brought against Labour by former staffers over Party’s response to BBC Panorama investigation

Five of the whistleblowers who appeared on the BBC’s Panorama investigation into the handling of antisemitism complaints by the Labour Party are intending to bring libel cases against the Party, it is understood.

The claims relate to an episode of Panorama, the BBC’s flagship investigative documentary programme, titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”, which was televised in July. Over the course of the programme, former Labour Party employees spoke out publicly to reveal Jeremy Corbyn’s personal meddling in disciplinary cases relating to antisemitism. The programme explained how senior Labour Party staffers, some of whom Campaign Against Antisemitism has known for years, used to run Labour’s disciplinary process independently, but soon after Mr Corbyn’s election as Party leader found themselves contending with his most senior aides, who were brazen in their efforts to subvert due process.

The programme was peppered with unconvincing denials from Labour’s press team, including claims that the staffers had political axes to grind and lacked credibility — assertions that apparently may now be challenged in court.

The libel cases are being brought by Mark Lewis, a highly esteemed media lawyer who is also an honorary patron of Campaign Against Antisemitism.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the annual report prepared by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee that usually contains the names of individuals being investigated, their constituency party, the rule alleged to have been breached and the result of the investigation, has now been anonymised, making it harder to identify antisemitism cases and track their progress. The Party blames data protection rules for the change.

UCL defends hosting Jackie Walker book launch about the “price paid” for speaking out about Jews

Jackie Walker is scheduled to appear on a panel at University College London (UCL) marking the launch of a volume of essays titled The Responsibility of Intellectuals – reflections by Noam Chomsky and others after 50 years.

The event is being organised by the Institute of Advanced Studies, which in the billing anticipates that Ms Walker and others will “describe the personal price they have paid for speaking out”. Ms Walker has a chapter in the book titled “I Don’t Want No Peace — a Black, Jewish activist’s take on the responsibility of intellectuals”.

Ms Walker is a former vice-chair of Momentum who was repeatedly suspended by Labour and finally expelled earlier this year. She 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.

The book’s release and the event marks fifty years since the publication of The Responsibility of Intellectuals by the controversial American professor, Noam Chomsky.

UCL has defended the invitation to Ms Walker, despite her record, citing “freedom of expression”.

Rashida Tlaib’s Grandmother: I Wouldn’t Visit U.S. Even if My Dead Husband Asked

Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother is not a fan of America. The 90-year-old Muftia Tlaib made that much clear in an interview with USA Today.

She was quoted telling the newspaper:
“Even if I get an invitation from Trump to travel to the U.S., I won’t go,” she said. “Even if my husband returns from the grave and tells me to go, I refuse,” she said.

“I don’t like it there,” she added.

She said that she spent about 18 months in the U.S. when her granddaughter was in high school. “I decided not to ever go back after I made ‘Hadj’” – pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, prescribed as a religious duty for Muslims.

Tlaib along with fellow extremist Congresswoman Ilhan Omar were barred last by the Israeli government from entry into the country in keeping with a law that allows Israel from denying passage to supporters of the BDS movement seeking to destroy the Jewish state.

“We had planned to slaughter a sheep to celebrate her coming back to visit with us,” Tlaib’s uncle Bassam Tlaib told USA Today. “But we supported her decision. And we know why the Israelis didn’t want her here: Her visit would have shown how we Palestinians are suffering under their occupation,” he claimed.

Omar and Tlaib are both prominent BDS supporters who in July introduced a resolution in Congress aimed at supporting the BDS Movement, which targets the Middle East’s only democracy, seeks the end of Israel and is engaged in economic warfare against the Jewish state.

US Jewish Leader Calls for Halt to Columbia Donations Over School’s Hosting of Antisemitic Malaysian PM

A prominent US Jewish leader is calling for a halt of donations to Columbia University over a scheduled appearance there on Wednesday of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who has a long record of antisemitic statements.

In a letter sent to Columbia President Lee Bollinger on Tuesday, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder wrote that the school’s decision to host Mahathir was “consistent with the double standard against Jewish people, which would never be tolerated with someone who spoke similarly against people of color, gay people or other minorities.”

Lauder went on tell Bollinger he would be encouraging his friends to “immediately cease any of their contributions to your institution until such a time anti-Semitic despots are no longer welcome on your campus.”

A Change.org petition protesting Mahathir’s Columbia speech had received nearly 3,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

‘If You Can’t Be Antisemitic, There’s No Free Speech,’ Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad Tells Appreciative Crowd at Columbia University

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad defended his right to express antisemitic views in the name of free speech in remarks to Columbia University students on Wednesday.

Speaking to a packed audience at the university’s Global Leaders Forum, the 94-year-old leader — whose decades-old conviction that “the Jews rule the world by proxy” has never wavered — also refused to say whether he accepted the fact that six million Jews were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust.

“Why can’t I say something about the Jews, when people say nasty things about me and about Malaysia?” Mahathir complained, as he responded to a powerfully-worded challenge posed by a member of the Columbia chapter of Students Supporting Israel.

The Malaysian leader went on to argue, “When you say ‘you cannot be antisemitic,’ there is no free speech.”

Pressed by the questioner to state his views on the Holocaust, Mahathir said he accepted that “there was a Holocaust,” but pointedly refused to discuss the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Conceding only that there were “many Jews killed,” Mahathir attempted to turn the tables on his questioner. “I was very sympathetic to them during the war, that was when you were not around,” he said.

Israel-Advocacy Groups Urge Cancellation of ‘Antisemitic,’ Pro-Palestinian Conference at University of Minnesota

Amid increasing concerns over Israel-related antisemitism found on college campuses, the anti-Israel group National Students for Justice in Palestine announced its upcoming national conference at the University of Minnesota from Nov. 1-3.

The NSJP said that the conference is titled “Beyond Struggle: From Roots to Branches Towards Liberation,” and recognizes the “support for the Palestinian cause is increasing within mainstream politics,” noting the inflammatory words and actions of Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The University of Minnesota is in Omar’s district.

According to NSJP, their national conference will attempt to achieve the following goals: recognize the current political climate and build on the visibility of Palestine; bridge the grassroots and grasstops; articulate the full history of Palestine as intertwined with the future of liberation; and reaffirm the fullness of Palestinian liberation.

Last year, the SJP chapter at the University of Minnesota sponsored a pro-BDS resolution that passed a student-wide referendum. That resolution was condemned by university’s president, Benjie Kaplan, who said that the resolution could have a “harmful impact to our campus climate,” and that the BDS movement fails to delineate “between opposition to the policies of the government of Israel and opposition to the existence of Israel.”

Luther College Prof Todd Green Inflates ‘Islamophobia,’ Blames ‘White Christian Americans,’ Ignores Anti-Semitism

Luther College professor and “Islamophobia expert” Todd Green, speaking on an interfaith panel organized by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Islam scholar Jaclyn Michael, insisted, against all evidence, that “by almost every metric, Islamophobia is getting worse in America.” Not only is the US “a nation where Islamophobia” is embedded in “our foreign policy and . . . our domestic policy,” he declared, but, in the post-9/11 era, the “marginalization of Muslims” has become “systemic.”

Exhibiting his own brand of bigotry, Green put the onus on “white Christian Americans” and the country’s entire “non-Muslim majority . . . to fight Islamophobia” due to its alleged “moral responsibility.”

Of the demonstrable (see FBI religion-based hate crimes statistics) rise of anti-Semitism since 9/11 in the US, and worldwide—likely fueled, in part, by the increasing prevalence of Islamic anti-Semitism—Green had nothing to say. His co-panelist, Rabbi Susan Tendler, inadvertently alluded to the irony of the situation when she noted that Jews are often falsely blamed for the 9/11 attacks—attacks that were, in fact, perpetrated by Islamist terrorists. No doubt, they, too, according to Green, were merely victims of “the social and political conditions that lead to terrorism.”

Indy hypocrisy in calling out antisemitic dog whistle

An article in the Independent (“Trump accused of using antisemitic trope during UN speech”) centered on the US President’s use of the term “globalists”.
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to strong, independent nations,” the president said, while discussing international trade.

The Indy contextualized it thusly:
While it has been suggested the term ‘globalist’ is not necessarily antisemitic when juxtaposed with ‘nationalist’ – or ‘patriot’ – many on social media interpreted the president’s deployment as offensive.

Though the term can be problematic depending on the context, what really strike us is the Indy’s double standards in their putative concern for the use of antisemitic tropes.

Readers may recall our post earlier in the year about an article by their long-time Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk that used explicitly antisemitic language. The original headline for the March 26th piece, for US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was something out of Strormfront:

Though, following complaints, the Indy toned down the headline to something slightly less offensive, they refused, after repeated communications with our office, to revise equally offensive sentences from the article, such as Fisk’s characterisation of what he called the media’s “grovelling, cowardly, craven obeisance to Israel”.

The Independent Refuses to Budge on ‘Arab Jaffa’

On September 17, The Independent published a story on the Israeli elections where members of the voting public were asked for their opinions on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It included the following:
In the Arab neighbourhood of Jaffa, Eliran Ben Iolo, 32, another Blue and White supporter, agreed: “It feels like it’ll work, because Bibi’s already lost it. Now you see he’s throwing all kinds of punches, not smartly and not with any kind of understanding.”

We contacted The Independent to point out that Jaffa’s Arab population is approximately 31% i.e. it has a Jewish majority and is not an ‘Arab neighborhood.’

An easily corrected error. Or so we thought.

In an email to HonestReporting, The Independent responded:
The article was not making a claim that Jaffa is a predominantly Arab neighbourhood. It simply sought to explain that the individual being interviewed was in a neighbourhood within Jaffa, which is predominantly Arab.

We followed up pointing out that the article text refers to the neighborhood, not a neighborhood, implying Jaffa to be one geographical entity. If it is one geographical entity then it is demographically around 70% Jewish. The Independent’s ‘clarification’ may have been understandable if the article text matched its explanation. But it does not.

Media Confounds, Calling Israel’s Voting Arab Citizens ‘Palestinian’

The impressive turnout on the part of Arab citizens of Israel in last week’s elections — making the Joint List of Arab parties the country’s third largest party and placing it in position to lead the opposition — garnered significant media coverage. Some media outlets, unfortunately, provided confusing coverage by insisting on referring to Israel’s Arab voting population as “Palestinians,” despite the fact that they are Israeli citizens, they do not reside in Palestinian controlled areas, and the overwhelming majority of them do not identify as Palestinian.

Particularly in the context of Arab citizens exercising their right to vote in Israeli elections, the “Palestinian” label is unjustified and misleading.

In The New York Times, for example, bureau chief David Halbfinger confounded:
Mr. [Ayman] Odeh’s ads practically beg Palestinian citizens to vote on Tuesday, saying that one million citizens, if they all voted, would translate into 28 seats in the Knesset. . . .

Indeed, such misleading nomenclature for Arab citizens of Israel confuses them with Palestinians — Arabs who live in Palestinian-controlled territories and who do not hold Israeli citizenship. For example, in the same article, Halbfinger refers to “Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians living under the occupation” and also to an Instagram photo of an “iconic Tel Aviv skyscraper with its facade displaying the Palestinian national flag.” How are all but the already well-informed readers meant to unpack this terminology, and distinguish between the voting “Palestinians” versus Arabs in the West Bank or Gaza who are not Israeli citizens?

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of Israel’s election

In contrast to previous election campaigns in 2013, 2015 and April 2019, BBC News website coverage of the September 17th election was relatively limited with just seven written reports appearing between September 16th and September 22nd.

Nevertheless, some familiar themes were evident in that coverage along with some new ones.

September 16th: Israel election a referendum on Netanyahu, Jeremy Bowen

In that article the BBC’s Middle East editor – whose job it is to provide “analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience” and “to add an extra layer of analysis to our reporting” – employed the standard BBC tactic of presenting history as having begun in June 1967 while erasing the Jordanian occupation of Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem from audience view.

“The southern end of the [Jordan] valley, where I am, has been occupied by Israel since 1967, a big part of the land it captured in that year’s Middle East War.”

As has been the case in BBC coverage of all Israeli elections throughout the past six years, this time too the topic of the ‘peace process’ was framed as being exclusively dependent on Israeli actions.

“Usually the valley is a sleepy place. But Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed it into his country’s general election, which is coming up this Tuesday. He declared that if he was returned as prime minister, he would annex the Jordan Valley, and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The suggestion has been condemned by many of Israel’s friends, including Britain, on the grounds that it would be yet another nail in the coffin containing hopes for peace. Israel would have absorbed land Palestinians want for a state.”

New European Parliament President Tells Rabbis He Will Protect Jewish Practices and Fight Antisemitism

The new president of the European Parliament told a delegation of European rabbis and community leaders on Monday that he would protect Jewish practices and fight antisemitism.

Certain Jewish customs have been under considerable pressure in Europe, especially kosher slaughter and circumcision. Many outspoken activists consider kosher slaughter a form of animal abuse and circumcision a form of mutilation. There have been attempts to ban both practices in several European countries.

The delegation, led by Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, was told by European Parliament President David Sassoli that he would continue to protect Jewish practices, as well as combat the rise of antisemitism on the continent.

Goldschmidt stated, “Our institutions are hundreds of years old. Our food preparation and circumcision practices are governed by our communities in accordance with EU regulation.”

“These practices are for the sole benefit of our own communities and we are proud of our high standards,” he added.

Shmuley Boteach: A dancing Hitler just shouldn’t be in the run up for an Oscar.

It can be a heady thing murdering six million Jews and then becoming a comedy sensation. Hurray – Hitler has done it.

With the looming threat of war with Iran and the ongoing deadlock in Israeli elections, few in the Jewish community can be blamed for not having their fingers on the pulse of all the goings-on of American popular culture. However, as antisemitism awareness becomes the brightest star in the constellation of American Jewish objectives, we’d be smart to bear down and focus. If we did we, might raise an eyebrow or two at the noticeable rise of the Hitler comedy.

Last week, the comedy film Jojo Rabbit won the people’s choice award at the Toronto Film Festival, a prize that’s seen by many as a major predictor of Oscar success. Directed by Taika Waititi of Thor: Ragnarok fame, the film tells the story of a lonely boy in Nazi Youth camp who finds an imaginary friend in a laughing, dancing Adolph Hitler. Waititi, a New-Zealand native who describes himself as a “Polynesian Jew,” plays the lovable Führer.

Having the man responsible for the murder of six million Jews hop around with children in a forest was sure to be alarming. So the director defended his film by claiming that it didn’t depict Hitler but a ten-year old’s imagining of him, which “doesn’t have to share anything with [the] actual Hitler.” His depiction of the Nazi leader was essentially “a version of myself that happened to have a bad haircut and a [expletive] little mustache.” In other words, this character didn’t even depict Hitler but was arbitrarily chosen as a sort of comic vehicle. It’s as if the writers ran out of jokes but found that Hitler was available.

Dutch broadcaster sorry for airing anti-Semitic rant
Europe

A Dutch broadcaster that receives public funding apologized for allowing a caller to rant for several minutes about Jewish greed and the need to “annihilate” it.

The caller, who identified himself as Mario, said at around 5 a.m. Tuesday on the radio talk show Gaan! on NPO Radio 1 that the world is being led by “Money grubbing Jewry” who “must be annihilated.”

The broadcaster responsible for producing the show, BNNVara, said in a statement: “This listener should absolutely not have received the opportunity to express anti-Semitic sentiments” on air.

Mario’s musings veered toward anti-Semitic conspiracy theories four minutes into the interview. The show’s host, Morad El Ouakili, encouraged Mario to elaborate on the theories.

Throughout the Dutch-language interviews, Mario began calling Jews by the English-language word kikes. Al Ouaskili asked him: “I don’t quite understand what you’re saying,” and “What do you mean by ‘Jewry’?”

After eight minutes, Al Ouaskili thanked Mario for the call and ended the interview.

BNNVara has faced allegations of anti-Semitism recently.

Homeless man pleads guilty to starting Minnesota synagogue fire

A homeless man who admitted starting a fire that destroyed a 117-year-old synagogue in Minnesota, then walking away from the growing blaze because he couldn’t douse it by spitting on it, is expected to get probation after pleading guilty.

Matthew Amiot, 36, entered his guilty pleas on negligent fire charges Tuesday in St. Louis County District Court.

The fire destroyed the Adas Israel Synagogue on September 9 in Duluth. Authorities say Amiot used a lighter to ignite a pile of combustible materials outside the main building, near a separate religious structure called a sukkah.

The complaint says Amiot admitted starting the fire and told police he tried to spit on it to put it out, but walked away when that didn’t work. Police say they don’t believe the fire, which came just weeks ahead of the Jewish high holy days, was a hate crime.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 25. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that prosecutors are recommending probation. As a condition of his release from jail, he was ordered to remain at a homeless shelter until his next hearing.

Louis C.K. to perform in Tel Aviv in November

Comedian Louis C.K. has scheduled a performance in Tel Aviv, his first in Israel since he admitted to sexual misconduct in 2017.

He will perform in Tel Aviv’s Hangar 11 venue on November 23. Tickets will go on sale at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday and will cost between NIS 194-344 ($55-$100).

Attendees will be required to leave their cellphones at the door and will not be allowed to bring in cameras or recording equipment.

C.K. performed twice in Israel in the summer of 2016.

Actors Paul Rudd, Zack Galifianakis Talk Judaism in New Comedic Netflix Movie ‘Between Two Ferns’

Jewish actor Paul Rudd makes a guest appearance on Zack Galifianakis’ new Netflix film, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” and the two talk about Rudd’s Jewish background.

Galifianakis’ movie, based on his web series of the same name, centers on him interviewing celebrity guests as they sit between two ferns and discuss hilarious but also awkward and personal topics, while the guests try to dodge Galifianakis’ rude, insulting remarks.

Galifianakis asks Rudd questions such as, “Some people have it all: looks, talent. How does it feel to only have looks?” The questions then turn to Judaism and Galifanakis asks, “What advice would you give to a young actor who wants to hide his Jewishness as well as you have?”

“I’ve never really tried to hide my Jewishness,” Rudd replies, to which Galifianakis says, “Jesus was Jewish and he didn’t hide it.”

Rudd tells him “No, he put it out there for everybody to see. He’s one of our best.” Then, when Galifianakis asks, “Are you practicing?” Rudd replies with a smirk, “No, I’m not a practicing Jew… I perfected it.”

Air Force’s first ever female flight squadron leader takes command

The Israel Air Force’s first female leader of a flight squadron took command on Tuesday, the army said.

The pilot — who for security reasons can only be referred to by her rank and first initial of her Hebrew name, Lt. Col. “Gimel” — will command the Nachshon Squadron, which operates surveillance aircraft.

“Lt. Col. ‘Gimel,’ the mother of two boys, you are a role model and an inspiration for thousands of women in the State of Israel,” IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said at the ceremony.

“Congratulations to our first female commander of an operational squadron in the air force, we’ve been waiting for you for 71 years,” he said.

Gimel, 35, joined the Israel Defense Forces in 2003 and completed the air force’s grueling pilots training course three years later, having specialized in flying transport planes.

Jewish, Arab astronauts blast off for International Space Station

A multinational crew made up of an American, a Russian and the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates blasted off successfully on Wednesday for a mission on the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 6:57 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and entered a designated orbit en route to the station.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir — a Swedish-American Jew whose father is Israeli — Oleg Skripochka of Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the UAE are set to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later.

The mission is the third spaceflight for Skripochka and the first for both Meir and Almansoori, who is on an eight-day mission under a contract between the UAE and Roscosmos.

Cousins separated during Holocaust tearfully reunited after 75 years

Thinking each other had perished in the Holocaust during World War II, two cousins were miraculously reunited after 75 years apart.

Morris Sana, 87, and Simon Mairowitz, 85, were cousins and best friends growing up in Romania until they were ripped apart by the Nazi invasion of Romania in 1940. Their families fled the country separately and the cousins grew up assuming each other had died in the Holocaust along with six million other Jewish men, women, and children.

More than half a century later, Sana’s niece and daughter connected with Mairowitz’s family on Facebook and, after discovering that the long lost friends were both living, set up a meeting in Tel Aviv.

The men joyfully embraced in a heartwarming encounter this Saturday, both overcome with emotion. “Good to see you,” Sana said to his long lost friend. Mairowitz responded through tears of joy, “Good to see you too after all these years … Seventy-five years you waited.”

“I imagine you when you were a little boy,” Sana said to Mairowitz, through his own tears. “I’m glad to see you.”

“So am I,” Mairowitz said. “Very, very glad.”



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