May 30, 2020

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10/09 Links: 2 shot dead, several injured as German synagogue targeted in Yom Kippur attack; Mossad’s moment; Do Jews think differently?

From Ian:

2 killed, several injured in shooting at German synagogue on Yom Kippur
At least two people were shot dead on a street in the German city of Halle on Wednesday, police said, with witnesses saying that the gunmen tried to enter a synagogue as dozens of Jews marked Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

A woman was said to have been killed near the synagogue, and a man was killed in a Turkish kebab shop, Halle police spokesperson told the BBC.

Several people were injured in the attack, with two people hospitalized in serious condition.

“We have two seriously injured people with gun wounds,” Jens Mueller, spokesman for the Halle university clinic, told AFP. “They are in surgery.”

Max Privorotzki, who heads the Jewish community in Halle, told Spiegel Online that the perpetrators had apparently sought to enter the synagogue in the Paulus district but security measures in place helped to “withstand the attack.”

He added that between 70 and 80 people were in the synagogue at the time.

One suspect was captured but with a manhunt ongoing for other perpetrators, security has been tightened in synagogues in other eastern German cities while Halle itself was in lockdown.

“Early indications show that two people were killed in Halle. Several shots were fired,” police said on Twitter, urging residents in the area to stay indoors.

Police said the “perpetrators fled in a car,” adding later that one suspect had been caught.

Policemen stand armed behind the monument commemorating the November 1938 pogrom night as they secure the area around the synagogue in Dresden on October 9, 2019

German synagogue shooter livestreamed deadly attack, including anti-Semitic rant

Livestreaming site Twitch said Wednesday that video of the deadly shooting attack in Germany targeting a synagogue on Yom Kippur was broadcast live on its platform by the suspected killer.

Twitch said in a statement it had “worked with urgency” to remove the content after the attack in which two people were killed in the eastern German town of Halle.

The company added that any account found to be posting or reposting “content of this abhorrent act” would be permanently suspended.

The SITE monitoring group said an attacker appeared to have posted a 35-minute long video showing his ammunition and saying in English that the “root of all problems are the Jews.”

In the video, the gunman is heard making far-right talking points and can be seen driving to the synagogue. He identified himself in the video as “Anon,” was alone, and driving a car loaded with weapons, a laptop and a camera, SITE’s director Rita Katz wrote on Twitter.

Silent streets, Jews on edge in German city after shooting

Silence gripped the abandoned streets of the eastern German city of Halle Wednesday as elite anti-terror forces carried out a manhunt after a deadly shooting at a synagogue and a Turkish restaurant.

Police ordered residents to stay inside and close all doors and windows after they apprehended one suspect and chased possible accomplices in the attack that killed two people and seriously wounded two others.

Officers in riot gear patrolled police lines near the scene of the crime where a woman was shot dead outside the Jewish house of worship and a man gunned down at a nearby kebab shop.

“We are carrying out an intensive search and ask the public to stay at home,” the Halle police force tweeted.

Normally busy city streets were closed to traffic, with the only vehicles circulating police cruisers and ambulances with flashing lights.

Dozens of German Jews had gathered in prayer at their synagogue in Halle on the high holiday of Yom Kippur when the gunfire outside began.

Max Privorozki, head of the Jewish community in the city, which traces its roots to the 10th century, said the temple’s security system had stopped what could have been a bloodbath.

“We saw through the camera of our synagogue that a heavily armed perpetrator wearing a steel helmet and rifle was trying to shoot open our door,” Privorozki told the daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.

“The man looked like he was from the special forces. But our doors held firm.”

PM: German synagogue attack is expression of rising anti-Semitism in Europe

Moments after the end of Yom Kippur, Israeli leaders expressed shock and outrage over the deadly attack Wednesday targeting a synagogue in the German city of Halle.

“The terror attack against the community in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day for our people, is another expression of the rising anti-Semitism in Europe,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, moments after the holy day ended in Israel (while it was still ongoing in Germany).

“In the name of the Israeli people I send condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured,” he went on. “I call on the German authorities to continue to act determinedly against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.”

President Reuven Rivlin said he was “stunned and pained by the terrible anti-Semitic murders in Germany” that were committed during the holiest and most important day of the year for all Jews around the world. He called on German leaders and the entire free world to bring the full force of law against anti-Semitism and its results.

“We will continue to campaign for education and remembrance in the fight against anti-Semitism which raises its head again and again in Europe and across the world, based on the clear understanding that it is not a problem of the Jews alone, but threatens to destroy us all,” the president said.

Leaders condemn Yom Kippur terrorist attack near German synagogue

Jewish groups and world leaders have reacted with shock following a shooting attack near a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Wednesday afternoon in which two people were reportedly killed.

The attack came as Jews were gathering in the city’s synagogue to celebrate and commemorate Yom Kippur. Bild newspaper reported that a hand grenade was also thrown into a Jewish cemetery following the shooting.

Max Privorozki, Halle’s Jewish community chairman, described how a gunman tried to shoot his way into the city’s synagogue.
“We saw via the camera system at our synagogue that a heavily-armed perpetrator with a steel helmet and a gun tried to shoot open our doors,” he told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper. “The man looked like he was from the special forces…But our doors held.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his “thoughts are with the victims of the shooting in #Halle.

“Let’s stop the hate,” he tweeted. “Let’s fight antisemitism. Let’s build an open and tolerant Europe.”

Germany’s ambassador to the US said the news of the attack was “shocking” and “heartbreaking.

“An attack on a synagogue,” she tweeted. “On Yom Kippur. Germans mourn the victims of this infamous crime.”

Pittsburgh Rabbi Writes Yom Kippur Poem in Honor of Those Killed in Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who survived the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, has penned a poem for Yom Kippur in honor of those murdered.

Eleven worshipers were killed in the massacre on October 27, 2018, an act of violence that horrified both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in the US. The killer was revealed to have been motivated by an antisemitic, white supremacist ideology.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Rabbi Perlman wrote the poem as a form of “American martyrology” in the tradition of Jewish hymns to those who have died for “kiddush Hashem,” the “sanctification of the name” of God.

Perlman, leader of the New Light Congregation, entitled the poem “Eileh Ezkarah for Pittsburgh,” and wrote it with the help of other rabbis and Hebrew experts. It has both Hebrew and English versions.

It was written especially for Yom Kippur, with its observance of Yizkor, or memorial prayers.

The poem refers to the “the enemy came to tread upon our holy space” and says of those killed, “To the eleven, God spoke in a whisper, ‘The time has arrived to sanctify My Name in public.’”

“We buried our bodies and upon them we wept. And even so, this did not break us,” says a defiant refrain.

The poem ends with a pledge to collectively recite the “Shema” prayer, the holiest in Judaism:
As long as this breath is within us
We ponder the world you created for us
And evening and morning, each and every day,
We gather and we cry out as one:
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

How Pittsburgh changed the way US Jews think about security

Here’s the sad paradox of the shooting nearly one year ago at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue: The killing of 11 worshippers, the worst attack on Jews in US history, hit a community that was one of the best prepared to handle such an assault.

In the year or so prior to the attack, Jewish community security officials had run dozens of training sessions that reached as many as 5,000 Pittsburgh Jewish residents. Many of the Tree of Life congregants knew not to stay in place during an attack, where to find the exits and to have a cellphone on hand to call 911 — despite the compromise to traditional Shabbat observance that requires avoiding the use of electronic devices.

“It was an incredible model that needs to be replicated,” Michael Masters, the CEO of the Secure Community Network, the security agency for the national Jewish community, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The loss of life would have been much more significant.”

The horror that was the Pittsburgh attack, and the fact that it might have been much worse, has served as a wake-up call for Jewish Americans. Here’s what’s changed in the last year as the attack’s Oct. 27 anniversary approaches.

Seth Frantzman: Smoke Signals in the Next Middle East War

A bit over two weeks before the cruise missiles and drones detonated in Saudi Arabia’s strategic oil fields, igniting massive explosions that would take out more than half of the country’s daily oil exports, a group of Hezbollah activists emerged on Aug. 22 from a hill overlooking the Golan Heights. They carried with them drones, which malfunctioned when they tried to use them, apparently as a result of Israeli military actions. They were being watched by Israeli surveillance, which caught them trudging through a field. Two nights later the men, whom Israeli officials labeled a “killer drone” team, were killed in an airstrike. Israel warned at the time that Iran’s drones and precision guided missiles were a significant threat.

On Sept. 14, the attack on Saudi Arabia proved how significant the threat was when 18 drones and seven cruise missiles struck the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities setting fire to facilities responsible for more than 5% of the global daily crude oil production. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attacks while Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken responsibility. Ultimately, the exact details of the attack, including how it was planned and who ultimately carried it out, remains a matter of some dispute. But what has become very clear is that the attack on the Saudis was also meant as a warning to Israel. Beyond the oil fields, the cruise missiles and drones were targeting a larger audience for whom they were meant to signal the weakness and vulnerability of Iran’s enemies in the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli axis.

The complex attack on Sept. 14 was followed by a crescendo of statements threatening Israel and the U.S. Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, said that the attack on Saudi Arabia “changed the equation” in the region. “The U.S. axis in the region is retreating.” For Iran and its allies, Israel is a key player in the enemy “axis” that is locked in conflict with what Tehran defines as its own “axis of resistance.”

In the aftermath of the Abqaiq attack, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has rapidly increased its verbal threats against Israel. Like Hezbollah, the IRGC’s message is that the attack has weakened the U.S. commitment to an ongoing role in the Middle East thus eroding a critical source of support for Israel. IRGC head Hossein Salami said on Sept. 30 that “the sinister regime [Israel] must be wiped off the map…this is no longer an aspiration or a dream anymore, but an achievable goal.”

David Horovitz: Trump’s new actions, inactions on Kurds, Syria, Iran have Israel deeply worried

Israel has missile defense systems and other capabilities that the Saudis do not, and the Israeli defense establishment is far less bleak than Even. A senior officer in the IDF’s Military Intelligence unit told Channel 13 TV on Monday that the Iranians “get a high mark, too high,” for the Abqaiq attack, but stressed that Tehran would “absolutely” not succeed if it attempted to launch a similar assault on Israel.

Still, the IDF’s chief of staff, Aviv Kohavi, felt moved to issue a warning Monday that any attack on Israel would be met with a “forceful” response. “We are keeping our eyes open, having daily situation assessments, and taking professional decisions that lead to attacks and the thwarting of threats.”

Finally, however, in terms of the dependability, or otherwise, of the Trump administration in an Israeli hour of need, the president’s latest policies — notably regarding what had been the US alliance with the Kurds — are causing overt dismay in some Israeli circles. Netanyahu has closely allied himself with Trump, hailing their friendship at the risk of alienating the president’s Democratic opponents, and being rewarded with presidential recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, and of the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory this past March.

Writing in Israel’s biggest-selling Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on the eve of Yom Kippur, veteran diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer warned that Trump’s decision on the Syrian withdrawal, and his “abandoning of the Kurdish allies, who believed that the US would stand with them… must set all our red lights flashing.” And the conclusion for Israel, Shiffer charged, “needs to be unequivocal: Trump has become unreliable for Israel. He can no longer be trusted.”

Shiffer, whose column was headlined “A knife in our backs,” noted that the president didn’t even tell Israel in advance of his Syrian withdrawal plans. He also noted pointedly, given the timing of his column, that the US strategic airlift of weapons and supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel was facing defeat, was nothing short of decisive.

How Obama’s team set up Trump’s Syrian dilemma

‘It’s bats- -t crazy,” Susan Rice said Monday on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The former national security adviser, who served under President Barack Obama, was referring to President Trump’s decision to pull US troops from northern Syria. She was particularly dismayed by what she depicted as a dangerous betrayal of The People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG, the Kurdish force that helped the US-led coalition ­defeat Islamic State.

“These are the people who for the last four years have been fighting on our behalf, with our equipment, to defeat ISIS,” she said. “And they have done it with enormous efficacy, and they have sacrificed immensely, and we basically just said to them, ‘See ya,’ and let the Turks, who are like the hungry wolf trying to kill the lamb, go for it.”

Over the last few days, a host of former Obama officials have been repeating this story, which is highly misleading, to say the least. Rice and her colleagues would have us believe that Team Obama created a highly effective plan for stabilizing the Middle East by working through groups like the YPG, and Trump, mercurial and impulsive, is throwing it all away by seeking a rapprochement with Ankara. That’s nonsense.

In fact, the close relationship with the YPG was a quick fix that bequeathed to Trump profound strategic dilemmas. Trump inherited from Obama a dysfunctional strategy for countering ISIS, one that ensured ever-greater turmoil in the region and placed American forces in an impossible position.

To be sure, the YPG are good fighters, and the American soldiers who have fought alongside them hold them in very high esteem. But the decision to make them the primary ally for defeating ISIS came at a hidden cost: the alienation of one of America’s closest allies. The YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group in Turkey.

Designated as a terrorist group by the State Department, the PKK has prosecuted a long war against the Turkish Republic, resulting in the death of some 40,000 people.

Graham Congress Won’t Abandon the Kurds

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Congress won’t abandon the Kurds in Northern Syria, as Turkey launched military operations into the region on Wednesday.

Graham criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which will occur in advance of a planned invasion of the region by Turkey. The South Carolina Republican said the decision could give ISIS the opportunity to regroup after Kurdish forces played a decisive role in defeating the terrorist group.

“It’s a lie that ISIS has been defeated. The caliphate has been destroyed, but it will reemerge. The Kurds can’t fight Turkey and control ISIS at the same time,” Graham told Fox & Friends on Wednesday. “Congress will push back. We’re not giving Turkey a green light in Congress, and we’re not going to abandon the Kurds. If the president does so, we won’t.”

Graham, who is a prominent defender of Trump, characterized his withdrawal strategy as a “pre-9/11 mentality.”

“I know every military person told him, ‘don’t do this,'” Graham said. “This is the pre-9/11 mentality that paved the way for 9/11: ‘What is happening in Afghanistan is no concern to us.’ If he follows through with this, it would be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

Turkey launches assault on Kurdish fighters in Syria, after US forces step aside

Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after US forces withdrew from the area, with activists reporting airstrikes on a town on Syria’s northern border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the campaign, which followed an announcement Sunday by US President Donald Trump that American troops would step aside in a shift in US policy that essentially abandoned the Syrian Kurds.

They were longtime US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group.

“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” Erdogan said in a tweet.

He added that Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, had launched what they called “Operation Peace Spring” against Kurdish fighters to eradicate what Erdogan called “the threat of terror” against Turkey.

TV reports in Turkey said its warplanes had bombed Syrian Kurdish positions across the border.

Turkish airstrikes hit the town of Ras al-Ayn on the Syrian side of the border, activists in Syria said.

ZOA slams Merkel for “absurdly claiming Iran is only Anti-Israel”

The Zionist Organization of America’s national president Morton A. Klein savaged German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration on Monday for failing to confront the Iranian regime’s antisemitism.

“It seems that, come what may, foreign leaders like Chancellor Merkel this past week, would rather say or do anything else other than state and condemn the obvious fact that, in this case, the Iranian regime, has been and is still seeking to eliminate the Jewish State of Israel,” Klein said.

Klein’s criticism came in response to a Jerusalem Post article stating that Merkel’s government and her foreign ministry labeled the call to destroy Israel by commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Hossein Salami as merely “anti-Israel rhetoric” and not antisemitic.

“We live in a surreal age in which the most blatant, the most obvious, the most frightening expressions of hatred against the Jewish people and its collective existence is doggedly ignored, whitewashed or watered down by foreign governments,” Klein said. “The German government has been trying to bust the new US sanctions imposed by President Trump and is far more interested in revenues from trade with Iran than with keeping the peace or taking steps against those who threaten genocide – as Iran clearly does.”

The ZOA statement said Merkel ignores “Iranian genocidal ambitions to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.”

“Merkel and the German government more generally have avoided mentioning antisemitism in the context of statements relating to Iranian actions,” Klein added.

New EU foreign envoy: It’s not antisemitic to favor a two-state solution

The European Union supports a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has kept that option alive, the incoming European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament.

Support for a Palestinian state that lives side-by-side in peace with an Israeli state “is not anti-Israeli or antisemitic,” Borrell said at a pre-confirmation hearing at the parliament in Brussels on Monday, in which he laid out some of his thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The European position is to defend the two-state solution,” he said. “I hope this continues to be the EU position.”
Borrell, who is the Spanish Foreign Minister, is slated to replace outgoing EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, whose five-year term in office ends on October 31.

The EU has long held that it supports a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines. The Palestinians have increasingly turned to the EU, and to the UN, to help lead a multilateral process to resolve the conflict.

Mogherini has been very vocal regarding her support for a two-state solution. She met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in New York last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. On Monday, Mogherini was in Jordan to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

In his role as Spanish foreign minister, Borrell has in the past indicated support for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, but he made no mention of this position in Brussels on Monday.

The EU supports Palestinian rights and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one, according to Borrell.
“We are doing a lot for the Palestinians. You will say it is not enough, but let me remind you that at the moment the EU is providing around a million euros a day to help the PA,” Borrell said.

Two children killed in Yom Kippur road accidents

Two children were killed on Yom Kippur Wednesday when they were hit by a car and motorcycle while riding bicycles, Channel 12 reported.

“On the highway, the boy lay unconscious, without a pulse and out of breath when suffering from a severe head injury. Citizens who were on site provided him with medical treatment and performed basic CPR training under the guidance of the MDA hotline, we continued medical care and while performing advanced CPR operations we evacuated him in critical condition to the hospital where they determined he was deceased,” a Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic said.

The 10-year-old boy was riding on Route 443, just outside of the Ben Shemen Youth Village in central Israel, according to Channel 12.

Additionally, an 8-year-old boy was hit on Namir road in Tel Aviv. He was transported to Ichilov hospital where he was pronounced dead.

In Israel the roads are famously kept empty during Yom Kippur, when Jews traditionally fast and pray to atone for their sins. While it is not illegal to drive on Yom Kippur, many Israelis avoid doing so as part of this tradition. As a result, people often ride bikes or walk in streets that on normal days are filled with cars.

Palestinian-Saudi soccer match “normalization” with Israel – activists

Palestinian activists on Wednesday launched a campaign to voice their opposition to a soccer game between the Palestinians and Saudi Arabia, scheduled to take place at the Faisal Husseini Stadium in the town of a-Ram, south of Ramallah, on October 15.

The activists said that the visit of the Saudi national soccer team to the West Bank is a form of “normalization” with Israel.
The Saudi team is expected to arrive in the West Bank on October 13.

Last week the Saudi Arabian Football Federation announced that the Saudi national team will play against the Palestinian team as part of the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the Saudi General Sport Authority, was quoted as saying the decision was in response to the request of the Palestinian Football Association. Some Arab clubs and national teams have traditionally refused to play in the West Bank because it required them to apply for entry permits from Israel.

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, said the decision to allow the Saudi team to play in the West Bank is of “historic importance.” Rajoub thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and said the decision to play in the West Bank “reflects the effort [by Saudi Arabia] in favor of Palestine and constitutes a message to the occupation that the Palestinians are not alone.”

A group called The Palestinian Popular Campaign Against Normalization said in a statement on Wednesday that the participation of the Saudi team “constitutes a direct recognition of the sovereignty of the Zionist entity.”

The group accused the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia of violating the Arab boycott of Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Calls for EU to Condemn Iran Over Tanker

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on the European Union to condemn Iran and hold Tehran accountable after he said oil from Iranian tanker Adrian Darya had been offloaded in Syria.

“Oil from the #AdrianDarya1 has been offloaded in Syria, proving that Iran lied to the UK and Gibraltar … EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law, and hold Iran accountable,” Pompeo wrote in a post on Twitter.

The United Kingdom seized the tanker in July off the coast of Gibraltar in July. After authorities received formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge 2.1 million barrels of oil from Syria, the vessel was released.

But in September, Britain’s foreign minister said the tanker had sold its crude oil to the Assad regime in Syria, breaking those assurances.

September 2000: How the fake “Israeli Policeman and Palestinian” image launched the pro-Israel blogosphere

Currently, I am a professional blogger. (Blogging is part of my job description, though it is by no means my only task.)

Every once in a while I reflect on how I got here. I certainly didn’t start out in the field in the 1980s.

A tweet last week from the media monitoring organization HonestReporting, reminded me why I got into blogging back in 2003.

The organization launched 19 years ago in reaction to the publication of a news photo that falsely described a Jewish student as a Palestinian and suggested that he had been beaten by an Israeli policeman.

No, I didn’t start blogging in 2000, when the Yasser Arafat and Fatah launched the so-called Aqsa intifada, but the awful reporting of the violence and Israel’s response to it was one of the spurs

The photo that started it all, as the organization calls it, captures an Israel policeman, his face showing anger, holding a baton threateningly toward a bloodied young man. The New York Times and other media outlets captioned the photo, “An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount.”

Why Did Duke Professors Bring Up Israel When the Dept. of Education Didn’t?

The Department of Education’s (DoE) letter to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies alleging that it’s not meeting the requirements for federal Title VI funding didn’t sit well with faculty at Duke University. Sixty-two of them signed a letter that was published at the student newspaper, The Duke Chronicle, objecting to the Trump administration’s scrutiny.

Among the signatories are anti-Israel professors Miriam Cooke and Shai Ginsburg. Cooke signed a 2014 call to boycott Israeli academic institutions, while Ginsburg conducted a fawning 2015 interview with Columbia University Professor and former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, who, unsurprisingly, labeled Zionism a colonial enterprise.

This may explain why the Duke faculty letter makes the following gratuitous assertion: “The Federal investigation is the culmination of a decades-long campaign by anti-Palestinian organizations against academic programing and curricular offerings that are deemed insufficiently ‘pro-Israel.'”

While it’s true that public outcry over an anti-Israel conference sponsored by the Consortium in March prompted the DoE’s investigation, the DoE made no mention of Israel in its August letter. It also omitted the fact that both UNC’s chancellor and the Consortium apologized for the blatantly anti-Semitic performance of a Palestinian rapper at the conference, calling it “inexcusable,” after several UNC departments withdrew their co-sponsorship.

NY Times, B’Tselem Misinforms on Palestinians in Jordan Valley

The New York Times misinformed readers in two recent stories about Palestinians in the Jordan Valley — and although the newspaper promises to correct mistakes big and small, it has yet to correct its errors.
Access to Jordan Valley Land

In the first story, a Sept. 10 piece by Ben Hubbard, the paper erred about Palestinian access to the Jordan Valley, a stretch of land parallel to the Jordan River that runs along the West Bank’s eastern border. Citing the Israeli advocacy group B’Tselem, Hubbard told readers Palestinians are “barred from entering or using about 85 percent” of the Jordan Valley where it passes through the West Bank.

The claim that Palestinians are only able to enter 15 percent of the territory, though, is false.

Depending on where exactly one draws the boundaries of the Jordan Valley — there’s no single, official delineation of the territory — between seven and thirteen percent of the region is designated as Area A or Area B — the names given to West Bank territory in which civilian matters are administered by the Palestinian Authority, in line with peace agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli communities and their lands, which sit within Area C, the third and largest portion of the West Bank, take up another roughly eight to fifteen percent of the Jordan Valley. The New York Times itself has frequently documented that Palestinians can enter these settlements. Indeed, on the very day Ben Hubbard’s piece was published, a separate Times story noted that that nearly all the male population of Fasayil, a Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley, are employed in the neighboring settlement of Tomer. Even if these agricultural workers needed to obtain security clearances from Israeli authorities, their daily presence in Tomer — along with the tens of thousands of Palestinians who enter settlements across the West Bank every day for work or health care — shows that Palestinians are not “barred from entering” settlement lands.

Between Area A, Area B, and the settlements, then, roughly 15 to 28 percent of Jordan Valley land is accessible to, and accessed by, Palestinians.

GroundTruth Project and WGBH Respond Evasively to CAMERA Letter

The controversy began in April and May 2019, when WGBH posted the three-part GTP-produced podcast series “End of Days” on its website. The three-part hit piece, which is replete with distortions and material omissions documented here and here, was reported by Sennott, GTP’s executive producer, and Micah Danney, a GTP fellow. GTP’s Mitch Hanley was also involved with the production of the series.

After publishing two articles about the series, CAMERA sent a letter dated July 17, 2019 to GroundTruth Project, a number of staffers at WGBH (including news director Phil Redo), and to the Board of Directors of WGBH. The letter outlines and reiterates many of the concerns raised in the article on CAMERA’s website about the article. (The full text of the letter can be seen below in Appendix One.)

In summary, the letter sent to GTP and WGBH officials highlighted the problems with the End of Days Series and asked that “WGBH and GTP correct the record regarding these misrepresentations.” In summary, CAMERA asked that WGBH:
1. Prevail upon the GroundTruth Project to do a follow up story on anti-Jewish incitement promoted by Muslim clerics in the Holy Land.
2. Assess GTP’s use of melodramatic and sinister sound in the podcast and issue guidelines for the use of “ambi-beds” [ambience beds] in future reports.
3. Prevail upon GTP to do a follow-up story on Evangelicalism and Christian Zionism that challenges some of the pre-conceived notions that viewers might have about these communities.
4. Insist that GTP inform its listeners about the increase of the Christian population in Israel (a reality that was completely obscured in the three-part series).

The letter closed with the following two paragraphs:
– WGBH’s Twitter bio declares that the organization is a “trusted source of public media content for Boston and beyond, creating, experiences that educate, inspire and entertain.”

– In light of this, we look forward to redress of the severe distortions and errors in the GTP podcast.

Top Saudi Muslim Leader Denounces Humiliation of Australian Jewish Boy as ‘Barbaric’ Violation of Islamic Values

The head of a global Islamic organization backed by the government of Saudi Arabia has issued a forthright condemnation of an antisemitic incident reported in Australia last week, in which a Jewish boy was bullied into kissing the shoes of a Muslim boy for a photograph that was subsequently posted on Instagram.

In a statement published in the Muslim holy city of Mecca on Tuesday, Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa — the secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), an international body focused on religious education — denounced the Jewish boy’s ordeal as a violation of Islamic values.

“This shameful behavior is contrary to the doctrine of Islam and they are barbaric acts,” Al-Issa said.

Al-Issa — who has advocated for interfaith dialogue, Holocaust education and religious tolerance in his capacity as the MWL’s head — argued that the Charter of Medina, drawn up on behalf of Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, “firmly established the respect for human dignity in the principles of the faith.”

Continued Al-Issa: “Examples from the Holy Scriptures abound of the importance of respecting Jews. The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him, stood solemnly at the funeral of a Jew.”

Al-Issa recalled a passage from the Qu’ran, the holy book of Islam, in which Muhammad honored the Jewish origin of one of his wives. “The Prophet one day came to the chamber of his wife Safiyyah, who was the daughter of Jews,” Al-Issa explained. “The Prophet found Safiyyah crying and asked her why she was upset. Safiyyah said she heard an abuse leveled against her. The Prophet responded by saying, ‘You are indeed the daughter of a Prophet, your uncle is a Prophet, and you are married to a Prophet.’ What he meant was that Safiyya was the daughter of Moses and the niece of Aaron, and worthy of the highest respect.”

Romania approves Holocaust museum aimed at shedding light on its WWII role

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday gave his green light to the creation of a Holocaust museum in Bucharest aimed at shedding light on the country’s controversial role during WWII.

The capital’s city council had initially rejected the plan in March, drawing accusations of anti-Semitism.

“The history of Jewish Romanians, their contribution to the country’s development and the tragedy experienced during the war… represent a legacy which was hidden from us for decades,” Iohannis said Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Shoa survivors.

“This museum will not so much bring answers as raise more questions,” he added.

The country had long denied in any responsibility in the Nazi atrocities, but in 2003 accepted to put in a place a panel of experts to investigate its role in the Holocaust.

The panel, headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, found that 280,000 Romanian Jews and 380,000 Ukrainian Jews died in Romania and territories under its control during the war, along with 11,000 Roma.

Aging Holocaust survivors hope to sue in US courts over Nazi-era insurance

When David Schaecter was a child in Slovakia in the 1930s, he counted more than 100 people in his extended family. By the end of World War II, he alone survived. The rest had been killed in Nazi concentration camps or by roving SS death squads.

Schaecter lost not only his family, but all they owned, including life insurance covering his murdered relatives. And as time runs out on aging Holocaust survivors, some are trying to recover insurance policies that were not honored by Nazi-era companies, which could be worth at least $25 billion altogether in today’s dollars, according to the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation USA.

The survivors want to take insurance companies to court in the US to recover the money, but it would take an act of Congress to allow it.

For nearly two decades, the foundation members have tried and failed to gain access to US courts.

“This is an insult to humanity,” said Schaecter, 90, president of the organization and a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. “I think they are trying to sweep it under the carpet. The fact is, we are a dying breed. There are so few of us left.”

As another season of high holy days concludes for Jews with Yom Kippur on Wednesday, the Holocaust survivors group is optimistic that a recent hearing before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on the stolen insurance issue may lead to change.

Jewish Actor Jesse Eisenberg Talks About ‘Revelation’ Following Poland Trip, Visit With Relative Who Survived Holocaust

A trip Jewish actor and playwright Jesse Eisenberg took to Poland years ago changed this perspective on the Holocaust and revealed a sense of guilt in him that inspired his second play, he told the the daily podcast “The Open Ears Project” on Sunday.

Eisenberg, 36, said he traveled to Poland 12 years ago with his wife to meet a second cousin who survived World War II and still lives in the country.

“I visited my second cousin and just had this revelation juxtaposing my own kind of privilege in America and the lucky life I had compared to what she had gone through,” he said. “That’s probably very similar to a lot of American Jews in my generation, which is that you’re kind of too far removed to have some kind of like survivor’s guilt from the war, but it’s such a part of your history and if you choose to engage with it you’ll realize that you have a lot more engagement with it than you expected.”

Eisenberg explained that his meeting with his relative, and seeing “what she had lived through,” led him to write his second play, “The Revisionist.”

The play is about a young writer named David who arrives in Poland with writer’s block and a desire to be left alone while his 75-year-old second cousin welcomes him with open arms and hopes to connect with her distant American family. “As their relationship develops, she reveals details about her postwar past that test their ideas of what it means to be a family,” according to the play’s website.

Mossad’s moment

The Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, is in foreign territory in more ways than one. One of the world’s most secretive organizations is a genuine pop culture phenomenon. In recent years, Israel’s intelligence operatives have been the subject of bestselling books, movies, and shows, receiving precisely what spies seek to avoid: attention.

As the journalists Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman note in their 2014 book, Spies Against Armageddon: “Just as the Statue of Liberty and McDonald’s became snappy synonyms for America, ‘Mossad’ has become an internationally recognized Israeli brand name.” And so it has.

At the moment, Netflix alone has more than a half-dozen shows and movies on Israeli spies, some of them — namely The Red Sea Diving Resort starring Chris Evans and The Spy with Sacha Baron Cohen — attracting big names from Hollywood. Author Daniel Silva has written more than a dozen bestselling novels centered on a fictional Mossad agent and art restorer, Gabriel Allon. And on Twitter, the Mossad Elite Parody Division account has, at last count, attracted nearly 120,000 followers for its ability to mock those “who blamed Israel’s intelligence agency for all sorts of bizarre things,” the Jerusalem Post reported in 2018.

All this publicity would come as a surprise to those who founded Israel’s intelligence agencies. Indeed, the Mossad’s origins were nothing if not humble. And the history of the spy agency offers the first clue as to its current pop culture success.

As the Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman recounted in his 2018 book, Rise and Kill First, the Mossad’s precursor was launched on Sept. 29, 1907, in a “stifling one-room apartment overlooking an orange grove” in the town of Jaffa, then part of the Ottoman Empire. That group, initially called Bar-Giora and later renamed Hashomer, was formed “as the nucleus for a future Jewish army and intelligence service,” which its founders saw as defending a future Jewish state. Among its early actions, Hashomer assassinated a Bedouin policeman named Aref al-Arsan, who had helped Ottoman Turks torture Jewish prisoners seized by the empire during World War I.

Do Jews think differently?

While the film was shooting last year in London, Budapest and Treblinka, I was writing a book, Genius and Anxiety, against a rising tide of anti-Semitism. In Paris, a Holocaust survivor was found tortured to death. Jewish men were beaten up on the streets of Berlin and Warsaw. A synagogue was machine-gunned in Pittsburgh. Attacks against Jews rose 74 per cent in France, 57 per cent in the US and 37 per cent in the UK. The British Labour party became a haven for Jew-baiters. Some friends talked of emigration. The oldest hatred was back in our faces.

My book deals with a mystery that greater minds than mine had failed to crack. It’s a simple proposition: between the middle of the 19th and 20th centuries some three dozen men and women changed the way we see the world. For no obvious reason, half of them were Jews. Why is that?

Some of these remakers of our minds are so famous they are known by surnames alone — Marx, Freud, Einstein, Kafka, Trotsky, Disraeli, Gershwin. Others were so anxious they went to great efforts to erase themselves from history; one actually went to court to have his name removed from an American Jewish directory.

Karl Landsteiner, his name was, and you may owe him your life, as I do mine. Landsteiner is the man who made surgical operations safe. An immunologist at the University of Vienna, he strayed outside his field in 1900 to ask why, after successful surgery, many patients died of shock. Might it have to do with blood transfusions? Scientific wisdom at this point held that blood was red and the same in all of us. Landsteiner took a needle to everyone in his lab and stuck the smears under a microscope. In no time at all he identified three types of blood, A, B and O. His discovery was howled down at a national convention of German scientists, but a twenty-something Jewish surgeon at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital decided to apply a Landsteiner test before operating on a valued patient in November 1907 and, ever since, all of us can face surgery with reasonable confidence.

The mystery is how Landsteiner saw what others could not. The little we know of his thinking is confined to a tiny German monograph and a 1930 Nobel prize citation. Landsteiner went on to isolate the polio virus and to patent an early blood method of identifying paternity. Although he was rigorously wedded to western scientific method, I wondered whether his brilliant shafts of insight might not derive from a very different school of thought. (h/t jzaik)

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