May 23, 2019

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10/04 Links Pt2: Landes: Netzarim Junction and the Birth of Fake News; Murdered American-Israeli Reminds Us That Jews No Longer Go Quietly Away; Merkel says Palestinians must accept Israel as Jewish state

From Ian:

Richard Landes: Netzarim Junction and the Birth of Fake News
One of the most shocking and transformative experiences occurred to me in late October 2003, when I got to see the original raw footage that a Palestinian cameraman had shot three years earlier at Netzarim Junction on Sept. 30, 2000. It was a peek through the lens of Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian cameraman who had filmed what journalists later depicted as a day of riots that killed many in the Gaza Strip, including the 12-year-old boy, Muhammad al Durah.

Charles Enderlin, chief correspondent of France2, aired the footage as news with his cameraman’s narrative: an innocent Palestinian boy, targeted by the IDF, gunned down while his father pleaded with the Israelis to stop shooting. It became an instant global sensation, enraging the Muslim world and provoking angry protests where Western progressives and militant Muslims joined to equate Israel to the Nazis. Ironically, for the first time since the Holocaust, “Death to Jews” was heard in the capitals of Europe. From that point on, for many, Israel was to blame for all violence, a pariah state.

Even had the child died in a crossfire, blaming his death on deliberate Israeli action made it a classic blood libel: A gentile boy dies; the Jews are accused of plotting the murder; violent mobs, invoking the dead martyr, attack the Jews. In Europe, the attacks the al Durah libel incited were mostly on Jewish property. In the Middle East, a new round of suicide bombers, “revenging the blood of Muhammad al Durah” targeted Israeli children to the approval of 80% of the Palestinian public. It was, in fact, the first postmodern blood libel. The first blood libel announced by a Jew (Enderlin), spread by the modern mainstream news media (MSNM), and carried in cyberspace to a global audience. It was the first wildly successful piece of “fake news” of the 21st century, and, as an icon of hatred, it did untold damage.

But it gets worse. Not only did the evidence show that the Israelis could not have fired the shots that hit the boy and his father, but everything about the footage suggests the scene was staged. There was no blood on the wall or ground and footage never shown to the public appeared to show the boy moving after being declared dead. I set out to explore this staged hypothesis, first raised by Nahum Shahaf, and exposed to the Anglophone public by James Fallows in 2003.

Fathom 21 | ‘Understanding the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa is the key to understanding the whole Middle East conflict’: an interview with Lyn Julius

Earlier this year Fathom’s Grant Goldberg interviewed Lyn Julius about her new book, Uprooted, which documents 3,000 years of Jewish civilisation in the Arab world and explains how and why that civilisation vanished in a single generation in the middle of the 20th century. Julius describes what brought Nazi Germany, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem into an alliance and how this impacted Jews in the Middle East and the formation of the State of Israel. Download a PDF version here.

Grant Goldberg: What prompted you to write the book?

Lyn Julius: I have a strong connection to the region. My parents arrived in Britain in 1950 as Iraqi-Jewish refugees, and throughout my childhood I was very conscious of the connection with Iraq, mainly because I still had family there. Conditions deteriorated for the remaining 3,000 Jews of Iraq after the 1967 Six-Day War and Israel’s defeat of the Arab countries. Saddam Hussein embarked on a reign of terror, executing nine Jews in Liberation Square in Baghdad. My grandparents were still in Iraq as well as various aunts and cousins and all were desperate to leave. The community’s telephones were cut off, their jobs were lost and their university entry blocked. Their very lives were in danger – some 50 Jews were arrested and never seen again.

I honestly think that understanding the Jews of the Middle East is the key to understanding the whole Middle East conflict. The way the Jews have been treated in Arab countries points to a major dysfunction in Arab society: the inability to tolerate anyone who is different from the mainstream, whether non-Sunni Muslims or minority non-Muslims.

I’ve been very involved in Harif, the UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, which I founded 13 years ago. As well as organising events to raise awareness of the history and culture of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, I’ve been blogging and writing. Eventually, I realised I had accumulated enough material for a book.

Also, there has not been much written about Mizrahi Jews, certainly not in English.[i] The most mainstream work was In Ishmael’s House by Sir Martin Gilbert, published in 2010. Most of the research on the subject has been done by historians writing in French, such as Georges Bensoussan, Nathan Weinstock, Shmuel Trigano, Bat Y’eor and Paul Fenton, who, despite his English origins, is a professor at the Sorbonne. David Litman also wrote about Jews from Morocco. I hoped my book would make the essence of their work accessible to English readers.

Widow of legendary spy Eli Cohen begs Syria to return his remains

The widow of famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Syria 53 years ago, issued a public plea to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday to return her husband’s remains to Israel for burial.

Nadia Cohen was speaking at the first International Multidisciplinary Conference on the Treatment of War Injuries at the Galilee Medical Center in northern Israel.

“Release Eli, release his bones,” Cohen said, addressing her plea to Assad.

“When my mother-in-law died, I wept and said she had not been able to see her son laid to rest.

“Forgive, extend your hand, and give us the grave … so we can be at peace, and he [Eli] will feel that he is in his own land,” she said.

Cohen thanked the conference organizers for giving her a platform, saying that some 18 years ago she had tried to persuade the Assad regime to release her husband’s remains.

“I corresponded with Bashar … and we sent pictures of my children, my grandchildren, so he would take pity and soften his heart about releasing the body. I was happy when he wrote that it would happen ‘when the time was right.’ Even those two words were a comfort,” Cohen said.

Warrior for the Jewish People

Ari Fuld had an inner truth that he stuck to — not just telling the truth but living the truth

He never backed down from a fight.

In online videos, in speeches across the United States, on the streets of Jerusalem, Ari Fuld, 45, was a verbal warrior, loudly proclaiming his truth: Hashem gave Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People, there was never a Palestinian state, the lies spread about Jews and Israel are a blood libel that should be vigorously fought at each and every moment, and whenever the opportunity arises.

In his final days, before he was brutally stabbed in the back by a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist at an Efrat mall, Fuld, married and the father of four, was living his truth. On the day of his murder, he had visited the Western Wall and taken a video of thousands of Jews chanting Selichos. On the Shabbos before his murder, in an online parshah video on parshas Vayelech, Fuld explained Moshe Rabbeinu’s parting words to Klal Yisrael. Moshe could no longer “go and come” and he could not enter the land, he explained, not because he was old and enfeebled and not because he was no longer capable, but because HaKadosh Baruch Hu had proclaimed it as such; he had fulfilled his mission. Moshe’s time was over. And sadly, so was Ari’s.

Fuld’s murder touched the Anglo community in Israel deeply, as evidenced by the thousands of people who stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to pay their last respects in Kfar Etzion. As the family made its way to the cemetery, winding their way through the huge crowds of well-wishers from every stripe of Israeli society, mourners sang songs of comfort — “Avinu Malkeinu,” “Acheinu,” “Chamol al Maasecha.” At the shivah house, a stream of well-wishers visited a stricken family as rabbanim and friends offered words of sympathy and support.

As Ari lived, he died. Fuld, who was a third-degree black belt in karate and had taught others how to defend themselves against knife attacks, furiously attacked his stabber, landing a right cross and then running after his killer and shooting him before collapsing in a pool of blood.

In the two weeks since his murder, there has been an outpouring of grief and sadness for a man who many describe as a warrior for the Jewish People.

Murdered American-Israeli Reminds Us That Jews No Longer Go Quietly Away

The moment that Ari Fuld was stabbed in the back at an Israeli mall, the 45-year-old father of four could have fallen to the ground and waited for medical help to arrive. Indeed, nobody would have accused him of cowardice if he had saved his strength to maximize his chance for survival. But Fuld wasn’t thinking of himself. And he certainly wasn’t thinking of himself as a victim.

Fuld stayed on his feet and gave chase to the knife-wielding terrorist. As video shows, he struggled to keep his balance, but he climbed over obstacles and was eventually able to shoot and injure his attacker. Another individual witnessed Fuld’s heroics which, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, “prevented a graver tragedy.”

As the dust settled, Fuld and Jabarin lay on the ground. The Israeli was rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, while the Palestinian was transported to Hadassah Medical Center. Fuld would succumb to his wounds, while Jabarin survived.

Fuld’s death is a tragedy. His wife is a widow and his four children have lost their dad. The fact that he died while his assailant survived cries out injustice. On that Sunday morning, Jabarin set out to murder Jews, only to have his life saved, treated for his injuries by the very people he wanted to kill. Ironic? Yes. But it exemplifies the Israeli ethos of respect for all human life — in stark contrast to Israel’s enemies, who celebrate the murder of innocents. It’s a reminder of how and why there is no moral equivalency in the endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Fuld’s life and death illustrate how far as a people the Jews have come.

Anti-Israel group calls on E.U. to cancel Israeli-Palestinian gathering

The anti-Israel Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has called on the EU to cancel a program to bring together young Israelis and Palestinians in December under the pretext that the event promotes normalization between the two people.

The group said that it sent a letter last month to Ralph Tarraf, Head of the EU delegation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, protesting the planned event, which is scheduled to be held in the context of a program called “Israeli and Palestinian Young Leaders at the European Parliament.”

The campaign targeting the EU program is likely to prompt some of the Palestinian participants to withdraw from the events out of fear of facing a shame campaign on social media.

Palestinian activists regularly target meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, claiming that such encounters promote normalization between the two sides.

Last month, Palestinian activists, some of them affiliated with the ruling Fatah faction, disrupted a meeting at east Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords. Israeli and Palestinian participants were forced to call off the meeting.

The PABCI letter claimed that the EU program “violates the relevant BDS guidelines agreed upon by the vast majority of Palestinian civil society.” The letter also accused the EU of being “highly complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and international law.” It urged the EU to “end all forms of complicity and to halt all its normalization programs.”

In Jerusalem, Merkel says Palestinians must accept Israel as Jewish state

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday underlined her recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, indicating that she supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view that the Palestinians, too, should accept this definition in an eventual peace agreement.

At a joint press conference in Jerusalem, Merkel said she plans to call Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and ask him several questions about the peace process, including about his policies vis-a-vis Gaza. She endorsed the two-state solution, but also acknowledged that there are “many other” possible ways to solve the conflict.

Merkel stressed her absolute commitment to Israel’s security, saying that she agrees with Netanyahu about the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities. At the same time, she said Jerusalem and Berlin disagree on the best way to achieve their common goal.

Responding to a question by The Times of Israel, Merkel said that she discussed with Netanyahu Israel’s recently passed Jewish nation-state law because she remains “somewhat worried” about the democratic rights of the country’s non-Jewish minority.

Hosting Merkel, Netanyahu accuses Abbas of ‘choking’ flow of funds to Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of “choking” the Gaza Strip by withholding funds to the coastal enclave and warned of “very difficult consequences” as a result of the PA policy.

“In the last year, Abbas has made the situation in Gaza more difficult by choking off the flow of funds from the Palestinian Authority to Gaza,” Netanyahu said at a joint press conference in Jerusalem, after holding talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Abbas has imposed a series of crippling sanctions on the Strip in a bid to force Hamas to give up control. The terror group has ruled Gaza since it ousted Abbas’s rival Fatah faction in 2007.

Netanyahu’s comments came after Abbas’s speech to the UN General Assembly last week in which he threatened to “give up responsibility” for Gaza if Hamas refused to respond positively to Egyptian efforts to broker a reconciliation deal between the rival Palestinian factions.

Standing alongside the German leader, the prime minister said the financial pressure “could lead to very difficult consequences.”

“As a result of this choke-hold, pressures have been created there and as a result of the pressures, from time to time Hamas attacks Israel at a relatively low intensity but the choke-hold is tightening,” said the prime minister.

He also accused the PA leader of obstructing UN efforts to aid the Gaza Strip.

Once Again, the Media Whitewashes Antisemitism Around the World

The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor has previously warned about a “a rising tide of anti-Semitism.” Yet when the journalist sat down to interview one of the world’s leading antisemites, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, such concerns seemed to dissipate. The Post’s September 28, 2018 interview of Mahathir failed to inform readers — much less confront the Malaysian politician — about his blatant antisemitism.

Malaysia itself is a hotbed of antisemitism, as the journalist Jon Emont detailed in a 2016 Tablet article entitled “How Malaysia Became One of the Most Anti-Semitic Countries on Earth.” He noted that in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian nation “blaming Jews for all manner of machinations, crimes, and failures is a normal part of Malaysian politics, even though very few of the country’s citizens have ever laid eyes on a Jew.” A 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that more than 60 percent of Malaysians hold antisemitic beliefs.

Mahathir, who previously served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, is far from the only Malaysian politician to traffic in hatred. But he is among its most infamous purveyors.

In a 2003 speech before the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mahathir said that, “Jews rule the world by proxy. They got others to fight and die for them.”

He then added:
We are up against a people who think. They survived 2,000 years of pogroms, not by hitting back but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others.

With these, they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

In 2012, the Malaysian politician wrote, “I am proud to be labeled anti-Semitic.” Indeed, his policies — and those of Malaysia itself — prove it.

Antisemitism Is Still a Serious Problem in Churches

So what did Jesus — a Jewish man born under Roman occupation in Judea — think of this doctrine of Balaam and whether it had any place among his Jewish disciples and in his Christian churches?

One does not have to guess, because the answer is clearly laid out in the New Testament book Revelation.

Revelation 2:14 addressed the issue head-on as it festered in one of the churches: “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:16 contains this profoundly serious and sobering warning: “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

This passage clearly demonstrates that Christianity offers no cover for those who embrace the doctrine of Balaam. Jesus was not fooled by their behavior and instructed in very serious terms that these individuals must not be tolerated within his churches.

So what is the answer to antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments in Christian churches? It is rooting-out adherents of the doctrine of Balaam.

Why have antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments flourished and grown in many churches? Because Christians have either been ignorant of or refused to address the issue as instructed by their scriptures.

Fall 2018: BDS Returns to Campus and Politics

As the academic year begins, controversy over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism — which includes demonization of Israel — has now spread to the United States.

Following the lead of the Department of State, the US Department of Education has adopted the IHRA guidelines, leading to accusations that it is “censoring” free speech on Israel. One result of the new policy is that a 2014 case from Rutgers University, where Jewish students were charged a different admission fee to an event, is being re-investigated.

Protests that the IHRA definition is “dangerously broad” quickly emerged from hostile media outlets and pro-BDS sources.

The IHRA controversy goes beyond semantics: BDS supporters and others now claim that demonizing language, such as calling Israel a “Nazi state,” allegations of dual loyalties, and other accusations are not antisemitic hate speech, but merely exercises of free speech. Overall, the right of Jews to define antisemitism is being removed.

The clash between free speech and protections for Jewish students was also highlighted by reports that a faculty member at the University of Michigan rescinded his offer to write a letter of recommendation for a student after learning that she planned to study in Israel. In his email to the student, the faculty member stated his decision was in conformity with BDS guidelines.

The university quickly expressed disapproval and reiterated its policy of no boycott, but refused to sanction the faculty member, as was called for by a coalition of groups. The BDS movement expressed support for the faculty member, while other academics questioned whether providing a letter of recommendation was a professional requirement or open to individual decisions.

Protest Planned at Columbia University as ‘Pro-Israel Students Harassed, Systematically Silenced on Campus’

Students at Columbia University in New York and their allies are planning to protest the administration’s response to what they describe as a culture of hostility towards Zionists.

The demonstration — planned to take place on Thursday afternoon outside the school’s main gates — is organized by Columbia’s Students Supporting Israel club. The group claimed while promoting the event that “pro-Israel students are harassed and systematically silenced on our own campus.”

The charge echoes an SSI complaint filed in January with Columbia’s Student Governing Board, which accused anti-Zionist groups including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) of fostering “an unacceptably hostile environment for those who wish to exercise their constitutionally protected rights in ways that differ from the narratives of these groups.”

The complaint was later raised with the administration in March, though an official said it did not warrant any action.

SSI said it has since filed several complaints about subsequent incidents involving anti-Zionist students. These include a direct Facebook message one of their board members received in September from the official Columbia/Barnard JVP account, asking, “Why do you enjoy being such a hateful person genuinely curious.”

Another complaint objected to a “Gaza solidarity rally” held by JVP and SJP in April, a couple of hundred feet away from where SSI was hosting a candle lighting in commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

SJP Promotes Terrorism On North American Campuses

BBC News website amends delayed post article headline following complaint

Readers may recall that on August 15th the BBC News website published an article headlined “Palestinian mail blocked by Israel arrives eight years late” which – as noted here at the time – failed to provide readers with the full story.

“As we see, readers were by no means provided with the full background to this story (not least the relevant issue of the refusal by Arab countries to use the existing system) and the BBC’s report amplified inaccurate claims from Palestinian Authority Communications Minister regarding the 2016 memorandum of understanding which mistakenly led audiences to believe that Israel is exclusively to blame for the fact that the delivery of items including “even a wheelchair” was delayed.”

Five days after the report’s initial appearance, the BBC News website added a paragraph and a footnote:

“Update 20 August 2018: The article has been updated to make reference to the 2008 postal agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Meanwhile, Mr Stephen Franklin had submitted a complaint concerning the inaccurate claim in the report’s headline that Israel had “blocked” Palestinian mail.

BBC amends inaccurate photo caption two months on

As documented here in July, the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel suspends fuel deliveries to Gaza over arson attacks” on the 17th of that month in which readers were initially given an accurate portrayal of the story.

“Israel has tightened restrictions on its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip, after Palestinians carried out fresh attacks with incendiary balloons.

However in contrast, the caption to a photograph featured later on in the report and a quote from a political NGO informed BBC audiences of “the closure of Kerem Shalom” and the “shutting down of Gaza’s main lifeline”.

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning those inaccurate representations of the situation, pointing out that – as the BBC obviously was aware – the Kerem Shalom crossing had not been closed or shut down.

Morocco to introduce Holocaust studies into education system

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has ordered to ‎incorporate Holocaust studies into the country’s ‎‎education system, Moroccan news website Le Desk ‎reported Wednesday.‎

The reports, which quickly went viral, said that the ‎decision was made while the monarch was attending ‎the 73rd U.N. General Assembly in New York last ‎week, adding that Mohammed sent word to Education ‎Minister Said Amzazi, saying Holocaust studies must ‎be included in the country’s high school curriculum. ‎

‎”The history we teach our children must include a ‎pluralistic variety of opinions and stories. It must ‎present humanity’s greatest moments as well as its ‎darkest moments,” the report quoted a statement by ‎the king.‎

‎”Education has the power to fight against ‎‎discrimination and racism, as well as the ugly ‎phenomenon ‎of anti-Semitism,” he said. ‎

UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay, the daughter of one ‎of Mohammed’s chief advisers, Andre Azoulay, ‎welcomed the move.‎

‎”To address anti-Semitism, it is to defend the equal ‎dignity for all human beings,” Azoulay tweeted. ‎‎”Education is the best tool to prevent all forms of ‎discrimination.”‎

County Police Arrest Vandal Who Left Anti-Israel Message at Maryland Synagogue

A vandal who left an anti-Israel message last month at an Olney, Md., synagogue has been arrested.

A banner with the words “Justice for Palestinian people NOW!! Israel is a fascist apartheid state! … What will your legacy be? … Genocide?” hung outside the B’nai Shalom synagogue on Sept. 7, according to Montgomery County Police.

County police released digital images of the suspect through an internal department server. A patrol officer spotted a man five days later at an Olney bus stop who looked like the suspect. A search of that man’s backpack uncovered plastic lettering used on signboards.

Officers arrested the man, identified as 30-year-old Eric Sponaugle. Police said his home address is within a three-block radius of the synagogue.

It turns out that Sponaugle has also vandalized a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant with messages such as “Can’t pray the gay away,” “Homophobic scum,” and “Blood is on Your Hands.”

NAZI PIECE OF WORK Thai sex hotel sparks outrage with bizarre Nazi-themed room decorated with swastikas and huge murals of HITLER overlooking bed

A SEX hotel has today been blasted “horrendous” and “disgusting” for its new Nazi-themed room – complete with murals of Adolf Hitler.

The “Communist” room is one of the largest at Villa Love Hotel near Bangkok, Thailand, and is said to be extremely popular with swingers and randy groups looking for sordid orgies.

But Rabbis and the Jewish communities in the area blasted the room and urged authorities to intervene.

Two giant images of Hitler hang above the King size bed, a giant swastika is painted behind a TV playing hardcore Japanese porn and the Communist hammer and sickle has been mounted on another wall.

Efraim Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Center – a leading international campaign group in Los Angeles – said: “This is truly awful. It’s horrendous, absolutely disgusting.

“It shows a complete lack of knowledge and education about Hitler, the harm he cause and the horrifying crimes that he committed in World War Two.

“This is a problem throughout Asia and unfortunately I’m not at all surprised by it. Frankly, the Thai government needs to be a lot more active in preventing this kind of thing and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.”

Study ranks Israel high among world’s most democratic countries

A new comparative study, issued Wednesday, challenged the assertion that Israel’s democracy is eroding, saying that in terms ‎of balancing between granting state rights and ‎imposing civil obligations, Israel is in line with ‎the world’s leading ‎democracies and sometimes even ‎takes a more liberal ‎approach.‎

The study, conducted by the Institute for Zionist ‎Strategies, a Jerusalem-based policy and research ‎‎think tank, focused on three issues that have been attacked as undemocratic: the demand for ‎a pledge of loyalty as a condition for ‎citizenship; asking minorities to perform military ‎or national service; and restricting ‎prisoners’ right to vote.

The study compared Israel and 15 of the world’s ‎leading democracies – as ranked by the prestigious ‎Freedom House Index – including the Scandinavian ‎countries, Canada, Austria and others – and found ‎that Israel demands fewer obligations of its ‎citizens than the rights it grants them.‎

In terms of a pledge of loyalty as a prerequisite ‎for citizenship, the study found that only five of ‎the 15 democracies reviewed ‎require no such pledge at all, while the other 10 ‎did. ‎

Israel does not demand those seeking citizenship ‎under the Law of Return to pledge loyalty to ‎the state, but does demand it from individuals who ‎apply for citizenship through other avenues.

As for the minorities performing military or ‎national service, the study found that seven other ‎democracies that enact conscription offer minorities ‎exemption from service, but six of them condition ‎said exemption on the performance of national ‎service, which is usually longer than the mandatory ‎military service. ‎

Einstein’s ‘God letter’ to be auctioned in New York

A letter by Albert Einstein mocking God and religion will be auctioned off later this year in New York.

The letter, written in German in 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind, offers a window into the religious views of the acclaimed physicist.

“The word God for me is nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish,” wrote the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning scientist. “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this.”

Einstein wrote to Gutkind after reading his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.

“For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition,” Einstein continued in his letter. “And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and whose thinking I have a deep affinity for, have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

Einstein died the following year, in 1955. The letter is slated to be auctioned off at Christie’s in New York on December 4, after being available for viewing for five days. The auction house estimates it could be sold for at least $1 million.

In 2012, the letter was put up for auction on eBay with a starting bid of $3 million but never sold. The anonymous owner purchased the letter in 2008 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London for $404,000.

During September, Companies from Ireland, China, India and U.S. Bought Six Israeli Startups

Despite the High Holiday season during September, which normally slows Israeli activity to a crawl, it was an active month for acquisitions as evidenced by the six deals below, all of which involved foreign companies.

1. The headliner was Ireland-based medical equipment giant Medtronic’s buyout of Mazor Robotics. Based in Caesarea and founded in 2001 as a spinoff from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Mazor pioneered robotic guidance systems for spine and brain surgeries.

2. Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace, acquired Israel-based Upstream Commerce, maker of cloud-based, real-time automated pricing and product assortment optimization solutions. The Upstream Commerce team will remain in Tel Aviv as one of Flipkart’s global centers for future data-science work.

3. Chicago-based Grubhub online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace will pay approximately $150 million to acquire Tapingo, the Israeli-built platform for campus food ordering used by students at 150 American college, university and professional campuses.

“By joining forces with Grubhub’s network of over 85,000 restaurant partners that offer online delivery and pickup, we’ll continue to serve our loyal diners long after they graduate from college, which has always been our aspiration,” said Daniel Almog, Tapingo’s cofounder and chief executive officer. The company has offices in Tel Aviv, San Francisco and Denver.

Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months

Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon, having blasted off from Earth two months earlier, project managers said at a news conference Tuesday.

If all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

The probe will be launched sometime in December from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, officials said during the media event, held at an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) space technology site in Yehud. It is scheduled to land on February 13, 2019.

The project, begun seven years ago as part of a Google technology contest to land a small probe on the moon, was conducted together with IAI.

“We will put the Israeli flag on the moon,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL.

“As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous,” Anteby said. “The motor will brake the craft and it will reach the ground at zero speed for a soft landing.”

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