October 22, 2020

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10/15 Links Pt2: Bari Weiss: American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology—one with dangerous implications for Jews; Was the French Enlightenment Anti-Semitic?; Twitter follows Facebook, bans posts denying Holocaust

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/10/1015-links-pt2-bari-weiss-american.html

From Ian:

Bari Weiss: Stop Being Shocked

American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology—one with dangerous implications for Jews

The dominoes are falling hard and fast. That’s how you get pulpit rabbis who argue that Jews should not claim ourselves to be indigenous to the land of Israel. Or an organization meant to fight anti-Semitism that aligns itself with Al Sharpton. Or a tinderbox in the city with the largest Jewish population in the country, whose communal outfits seem to care more about lending cover to politicians than ensuring the physical safety of Jews.

Last month, I participated in a Zoom event attended by several major Jewish philanthropists. After briefly talking about my experience at The New York Times, I noted that if they wanted to understand what happened to me, they needed to appreciate the power of that new, still-nameless creed that has hijacked the paper and so many other institutions essential to American life. I’ve been thinking about what happened next ever since.

One of the funders on the call launched into me, explaining that Ibram X. Kendi’s work was vital, and portrayed me as retrograde and uncool for opposing the ideology du jour. Because this person is prominent and powerful enough to send signals that others in the Jewish world follow, the comments managed to both sideline me and stun almost everyone else into silence.

These people may be the most enraging: those with the financial security to oppose this ideology and demur, so desperate to be seen as hip; for their children to keep their spots at the right prep schools; so that they can be seated at the right tables at the right benefits; so that they are honored at Brown or Harvard; so that business does well enough that they can renovate their house in Aspen or East Hampton. Desperate to remain in good odor with the right people, they are willing to close their eyes to what is coming for the rest of us.

Young Jews who grasp the scope of this problem and want to fight it thus find themselves up against two fronts: their ideological enemies and their own communal leadership. But it is among this group—people with no social or political capital to hoard, some of them not even out of college—that I find our community’s seers. The dynamic reminds me of the one Theodor Herzl faced: The communal establishment of his time was deeply opposed to his Zionist project. It was the poorer, younger Jews—especially those from Russia—who first saw the necessity of Zionism’s lifesaving vision.

Funders and communal leaders who are falling over themselves to make alliances with fashionable activists and ideas enjoy a decadent indulgence that these young proud Jews cannot afford. They live far from the violence that affects Jews in places like Crown Heights and Borough Park. If things go south in one city, they can take refuge in a second home. It may be cost-free for the wealthy to flirt with an ideology that suggests abolishing the police or the nuclear family or capitalism. But for most Jews and most Americans, losing those ideas comes with a heavy price. (h/t jzaik)

Was the French Enlightenment Anti-Semitic? Revisiting the Great Debate

Conclusion: Why the Jews are still being cast as getting in the way of universal redemption

Hertzberg’s argument also suggests, as we have already noted, reasons why we should expect antisemitism to recur as a disease of the radical, or fundamentalist versions of political or religious movements, including ones consciously ‘anti-racist’ in their own estimation. Hertzberg makes the point that Montesquieu was less hostile to Jewish demands for emancipation than Voltaire because he represented ‘a tradition of enlightened thinking that ran counter to all this intellectual absolutism in the name of an appreciation of the Jew and Judaism as one of the many valid forms of culture and religion.’ Trevor-Roper, in his review, fully grants this difference between the two. ‘Now that there is a profound difference between the philosophy of Montesquieu and the philosophy of Voltaire no one would deny; and it is equally undeniable that Montesquieu was the more liberal of the two. Montesquieu was a relativist: he believed that societies were formed by a plurality of forces, and that they differed from one another, and differed legitimately, in accordance with the differences of those forces. His attitude to minorities was logically the result of his general philosophy . . . On the other hand Voltaire, a far less subtle or consistent thinker, believed in the linear progress of mankind toward a unitary truth of ‘philosophy’, and tended to judge men by their willingness to move in that direction. He had little of Montesquieu’s respect for the non-intellectual pressures of tradition, custom, or social force. It was for this reason that Gibbon, a disciple of Montesquieu, ended by repudiating Voltaire as in some respects ‘a bigot, an intolerant bigot.’[19]

The fundamentalist wing, not only of the Enlightenment but of any radically reforming movement, political or religious, left or right, tends to be defined by its determination both to simplify the goals of the movement and to treat them as ‘unitary truths of ‘philosophy’‘ to which, if the movement is to succeed, everyone without exception must be brought to accord an equally unitary and comprehensive submission. It is the fundamentalist wing of any such movement, therefore, that has the most to fear from the obstinate facts of human diversity, not only in the shape of what Trevor-Roper terms ‘the non-intellectual pressures of tradition, custom, or social force,’ but in that of competing intellectual systems. Hence it is that wing of any such movement that will always stand in most need of a story that will somehow make it plausible to regard all such pressures and constructs as the work of alien forces endlessly striving to corrupt a social order otherwise ready and waiting to respond positively and without serious dissent to the proffered opportunity of universal redemption. That, it seems to me, is ultimately what Hertzberg’s book has to teach us concerning the enduring tendency to antisemitic delusion on the part of the more radical elements, not only of the French Enlightenment, but of more recent versions both of progressive and anti-progressive thought.

How we can create a new conflict-free Middle East

THE COMMON interests of the new allies will enable the creation of a new conflict-free Middle East.

Israel’s isolation is ending but its commitment toward its new allies has also become stronger. Israel today proves to the world that it has genuinely wanted peace; peace that will stabilize the region, create opportunities for Israeli youth, end its demonization by its neighbors, and allow it instead to be embraced. The opportunities that will be created will give the Palestinian youth political and economic stability, too, by enhancing cooperation between our countries on all levels.

In this process, we hope to also see a drastic change in the Palestinian leadership, and see leaders who can genuinely negotiate that which serves their people in an ethical manner.

Looking into the history of the Palestinian leaders, one cannot deny the lost opportunities to bring an end to the conflict with, Israel. February 2007, Palestinian leaders, representing Hamas and Fatah met King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who wanted to resolve the differences between them.

After two days of negotiations, they presented Abdullah with a document that contained the agreements of all the assembled leaders. Everyone believed that this time the Palestinian leaders were serious. Abdullah asked them to honor their promise and had them swear on the Koran that the document was their final deal. Within 48 hours after their return, the Palestinian leaders broke their word.

Today, major players in the region will have a more crucial political role that will achieve peace and stability and enable the economies of all the countries involved to grow.

Today, a door has been opened to negotiations and alliances with new players in the region. The new players were always supportive of the Palestinian people and the UAE’s and Bahrain’s stance. Ethics and principles can never change.

Israel is officially a friend today, a friend we trust. And I truly believe that the moment those agreements were signed, all the parties involved had great intentions and will work closely together to make sure no one’s rights are violated and that the people of the region will eventually live in peace. A new dawn has finally begun.

With one post, Mark Zuckerberg changed Holocaust education forever

With the tap of a smartphone, Mark Zuckerberg just had an unfathomable impact on the future of Holocaust education.

He decreed that denying or distorting the Holocaust just won’t fly on his 2.4 billion-user platform. People can no longer hide behind the excuse of “free speech.” It is, declared Zuckerberg, “hate speech.”

The impact this will have on the news feeds of so many people is huge. What is more, Facebook, the gold standard in social media, has set a precedent which other social media platforms will ultimately be expected to follow.

Himmler himself started the work that Holocaust deniers have been doing. Already from May 1942 in the midst of the Final Solution, the Sonderaktion 1005 Unit were assigned to destroy evidence of the crime by exhuming mass graves and cremating the bodies. Himmler spoke in 1943 of the crime and the need to deny it, telling members of the SS in Posen, “The Jewish people are going to be exterminated… this is an unwritten and never to be written page of glory in our history.” With a simple policy change, Zuckerberg has affirmed the connection between denial of the Holocaust and the crimes of the Holocaust themselves. Most importantly, he charts the straight line to anti-Semitic violence today.

Hatred needs a place to germinate and grow, and it has found fertile soil in cyberspace. While driven anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers will find alternative spaces to peddle their hatred, they have just suffered an unimaginable blow.

Almost half of the American 18-39-year-olds surveyed by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) have seen Holocaust denial or distortion online. Removing Holocaust denial from Facebook will not be the end of Holocaust denial, but it will prevent it becoming a visible and acceptable alternative narrative.

If the current trajectory is not stopped, “informed” by social media, university students of 2050 will end up sitting respectfully at the bar, discussing whether it really happened.

Zuckerberg’s decision doesn’t just cut off the Holocaust deniers; it weaponizes what they fear most: historical truth.

Facebook’s new algorithm could target Holocaust education posts

Facebook’s new policy to suppress and remove Holocaust denial content from the social media platform was celebrated by Jewish organizations worldwide when it went into effect this week. However, shortly thereafter, it was discovered that Holocaust education posts were also being removed in some instances.

The new hate speech policy bans any content that either denies or distorts the Holocaust from appearing on the social media platform. Facebook has tailored its content management algorithm to remove posts that contravene the rule.

While the algorithm seems to be successfully selecting and removing posts that breach the revised hate speech code of conduct, some posts on the topic of the Holocaust that are not distorting or denying it are also being consequently removed.

This was the case with a post by Izabella Tabarovsky, who wrote an article for the Forward discussing the atrocities that occurred in the Soviet Union during the Holocaust.

“I guess this is the result of Facebook’s ban against Holocaust denial? It just made invisible my article about the Holocaust in Soviet territories. Unimpressed with this effort to fight Holocaust denial so far,” said Tabarovsky.

The title for Tabarovsky’s article was, “Most Jews Weren’t Murdered In Death Camps. It’s Time To Talk About The Other Holocaust.”

The article she shared was meant to be educational and neither denied or distorted the Holocaust. Facebook’s algorithm scanned the headline and the first paragraph of the article, which was shared on the social media platform, and hid it.

Twitter follows Facebook, bans posts denying Holocaust

Social media giant Twitter announced Wednesday that it would remove posts denying the Holocaust, in line with its rules on violating hateful conduct policy.

“Twitter’s policy doesn’t explicitly state that denying violent events is against the rules, but a spokeswoman confirmed that ‘attempts to deny or diminish’ violent events, including the Holocaust, would be removed based on the company’s interpretation of the policy,” the company said, according to financial news agency Bloomberg.

Twitter’s move follows that of social media competitor Facebook, which announced Monday that it would remove posts “denying or distorting” the Holocaust.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg reversed the company’s previous position, in which he said that although he vehemently disagreed with the content of such posts, he supported leaving them untouched to protect free speech.

A combination of a Holocaust survivors’ campaign during the summer to pressure Facebook to change its stance, as well as a shocking study that showed a serious lack of knowledge among the so-called Generation Z, 48% of whom nationally, could not name a single concentration camp.

Citing ‘trauma porn,’ MK raps TikTok for failing to halt spread of anti-Semitism

Representatives of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok came under fire in the Knesset on Wednesday for allegedly failing to combat the spread of anti-Semitism on their network.

At a hearing of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Wednesday morning on the topic of anti-Semitism on social media platforms, Knesset members accused the controversial social media giant of failing to stop the spread of viral videos that the MKs said denied, made fun of, or cheapened the memory of the Holocaust.

TikTok had refused to participate in two earlier Knesset panels on the subject of online anti-Semitism but on Wednesday two representatives joined the session via Zoom — Elizabeth Kantor, director of government relations and public policy UK, Ireland and Israel, and Erik Shadowens, TikTok’s policy manager.

While representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter were also in attendance, Knesset members’ opprobrium was directed most pointedly at TikTok.

“We see evidence that [Holocaust-denial] hasn’t been removed,” MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh told a representative of TikTok.

“I am pleased that after their notable absence at our past two hearings, that TikTok has now chosen to take this first step in accepting responsibility for the virulent anti-Semitism on its platform,” she said.

Jews Cannot Ignore the Hatred and Threat of QAnon

The most glaring current example of American politics’ invasion by dangerous conspiracy theories is QAnon, the “Q Clearance Patriot.”

Did you follow the sagas of troubled mothers involved in child custody disputes who have kidnapped their own children because they believe — because QAnon tells them — that pedophile rings are preying on America’s youngsters? QAnon also claims that anti-virus lockdowns are part of a plot by global elites for world domination.

What about South Carolina voters nominating a Republican QAnon supporter for Congress — or that almost 20 Republican members of the current Congress are refusing to vote for a resolution disavowing QAnon?

A Simon Wiesenthal Center report exposes QAnon’s use of 4chan and 8kun platforms to promote antisemitic libels about the Rothschild family controlling the world’s banks, and — in a newer vein — the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and financier George Soros as a satanic puppet master conspiring to buy the 2020 election and steal it from Donald Trump.

This is straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and many Republicans are happy to embrace it — along with QAnon’s political support.

A reading of QAnon Internet blogs and e-books shows how their obsession with pedophile rings are updates for 21st century consumption of medieval fantasies that Jews kidnapped and murdered Christian children to use innocent blood in religious rituals.

British politician gets death threats over support for London Holocaust memorial

A British state secretary and his family received death threats over his support for erecting a Holocaust memorial in London.

Robert Jenrick, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, has been given protection by counter-terrorism police after threats to burn down his home and kill his family, the Jewish Chronicle reported last week. Jenrick’s wife Michael was born in Israel and his children are Jewish.

The threats were reportedly motivated by Jenrick’s support for a plan to erect a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust near the British Parliament in London.

Opponents of the plan have made multiple arguments against it, ranging from landscaping objections to fears it would be targeted by terrorists and even that it would eclipse a nearby monument marking the abolition of slavery. A legal challenge also claimed that there was a conflict of interest in the government’s handling of the memorial application, but the High Court cleared Jenrick of those charges.

“The behavior of some of the opponents to the memorial has been shocking and disgraceful,” Jenrick told the Chronicle. “The fact that I have been subjected to these smears, and my family to antisemitic abuse and death threats only shows the paramount importance of the memorial.”

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher is to deliver a final decision on the plan sometime this year.

Coronavirus cabinet approves stage 1 of exit strategy – full details

Less than a month after Israeli citizens were put under lockdown, the coronavirus cabinet ruled Thursday to begin lifting restrictions.

Beginning on Sunday, businesses that don’t serve customers, preschools for children ages newborn to six, nature reserves, national parks, beaches, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple Mount will open. At the same time, restaurants will be able to serve takeaway, the ban on traveling more than one kilometer from home will be lifted and people will be allowed to visit the homes of their extended family and friends.

Finally, people will be able to gather in groups of 10 inside and 20 outside.

The decision came against the backdrop of data from the Health Ministry showing that Israel had nearly met the goals set by the Health Ministry to open up the economy. Some 2,009 people were infected with coronavirus on Wednesday, the ministry reported, with a total of 720 people in serious condition, including 248 who were ventilated. The death toll rose to 2,121.

“As of now, the lockdown has been a major success. We are seeing a decline in all data, a clear and consistent decline,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting. Nonetheless, he added, “the exit needs to be gradual, responsible, careful and controlled.”

But he also warned ministers during the meeting that “there will not be any change to the outline, no loosening and no tightening. If we discover suddenly that the numbers are going up, we will stop. And, if we need to, we will take a step back. If there is opposition, speak now.”

Coronavirus in Israel: 38% of patients who died lived in retirement homes

Some 38% of those who have died due to the coronavirus in Israel were residents of retirement homes, according to KAN Reshet Bet radio.

In the first wave of infections, almost half of those who died lived in these old age homes, while about 30% of those who have died in the second wave were residents of retirement homes. Some 313 residents of old age homes died between the beginning of September and October 10.

Outbreaks in old age homes are dropping in numbers, an official in the Magen Avot v’Imahot (Parent Guard) program told KAN. About three to four incidents of at least one case per day were reported in old age homes two weeks ago, while last week only two incidents were reported.

About 800 elderly patients were being treated in geriatric coronavirus wards as of Thursday. Some 1,000 beds have been set for coronavirus patients in geriatric wards.

The head of the Geriatrics Division of the Health Ministry, Dr. Irit Lakser, told KAN that “elderly people in nursing homes are people who suffer from complex infection, and the overall infection rate of the elderly in institutions is higher than in the elderly who are in their homes.

Nasal Spray to Stop Spread of Covid-19? Israeli Pharma Company Puts Its Product to the Test

Images of synagogues crowded with worshippers during last month’s Jewish High Holidays had health professionals and public officials warning of the catastrophic results from the potential super-spreader events. But for one Israeli pharmaceutical company, the close-contact indoor gatherings provided an opportunity to test out its coronavirus-battling treatment.

While the route toward producing a vaccine to the coronavirus (Covid-19) is still unclear, Israel-based Nasus Pharma is working on a nasal spray device to halt the spread of the disease. Currently, the company is still testing the treatment, most recently on a group of worshippers in the central city of Bnei Brak, over the Rosh Hashanah holiday last month

Taffix is a powder-based nasal spray (PBI) that is administered to the nose and blocks viruses from entering the nasal passages, preventing an infection. It isn’t a cure, however, merely a precaution offered to those in close-knit communities with high rates of infection, or to people at risk, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes or chronic lung diseases like asthma.

“We know that most diseases affect people by entering the nasal passages,” Dr. Dalia Megiddo, CEO of Nasus Pharma, said during an interview with CTech. She explained that upon the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, Chinese doctors began taking samples from patients’ blood, nasal passages, and mucous, and found that the highest concentration of viruses was found in the nasal passages. Scientific journals published articles based on research that detailed the easiest way for the virus to enter and connect to cell receptors was in the nose, where they have the highest amount of concentration.

For the past three years, Nasus Pharma has been concentrating on treating outbreaks during emergency situations that require a fast response, such as in the case of patients who go into anaphylactic shock or opioid overdose, by developing other nasal spray devices that are released into the body as soon as possible. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, Megiddo said that the company began looking for new ways to protect those fragile cells from the invading virus, and created Taffix.

Academics reject government calls to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism

A demand by the government for British universities to adopt the international definition of antisemitism has been met with an angry backlash from many academics.

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, wrote to vice-chancellors last week warning them he would act if “the overwhelming majority” of universities had not adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism by the end of the year.

The Secretary of State said the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England, could be asked to take action including suspending “funding streams” if universities failed to adopt the definition of anti-Jewish racism by the end of December.

He added it was “frankly disturbing” that a recent survey by the Union of Jewish Students had shown that only 29 out of 133 universities had adopted the IHRA definition, and 80 said they had no current plans to do so.

Mr Williamson said: “The repugnant belief that antisemitism is somehow a less serious or more acceptable form of racism has taken insidious hold in some parts of British society, and I am quite clear that universities must play their part in rooting out this attitude and demonstrating that antisemitism is abhorrent.”

But this week the JC learned of the angry response from many in academia to the government’s intervention — with those who support the adoption of IHRA being attacked.

Oxford University — one of the institutions that has refused to adopt IHRA — ignored the government’s warning over the definition.

When teachers harbor anti-Israel biases, students also suffer

The beginning of the school year has brought many changes and uncertainties for students in the new, post-COVID world in which we find ourselves.

As a Jewish student at the University of Toronto, with antisemitic sentiment rising across Canada and the US, it has been particularly taxing, as my campus is no stranger to such controversy. I have personally faced instances of discrimination, ranging from individual acts to more organized incidents, such as the recent refusal to endorse kosher food options by the U of T Graduate Students’ Union.

Many of the cases involving the harassment of Jewish students (including the example above) on campus involve Israel, due to the rancorous nature in which some student groups target the Jewish state.

It’s not just students. Professors who are known to be staunchly anti-Israel also contribute to this culture of toxicity. You might recall a few years ago when a student named Ari Blaff was scornfully referred to as a “Zionist agent” by his U of T professor over his involvement in Hasbara Fellowships Canada, an organization that helps dispel anti-Israel propaganda on campus through the use of public diplomacy. I am a proud fellow myself.

There are other all-too-familiar stories I’ve heard from my peers who challenge their professors over their bias and omission of key details vis-à-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict. These students are often told that their narrative is invalid, and that Jews are colonizers in their native land. In some cases, the students are even ostracized.

US government slams German MPs for role in antisemitic BDS movement

The Jerusalem Post can report the first US government criticism of three German MPs who are involved in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activities targeting Israel and are on the advisory board of a group urging the destruction of Israel.

David Peyman, the deputy special envoy to combat antisemitism for BDS, Eurasia and special projects in the US State Department, told the Post by email on Thursday: “The United States strongly opposes boycott campaigns targeting the State of Israel, and regularly engages with governments and other entities to oppose such activities. The United States will closely watch companies that engage in BDS and are targeted by the BDS movement, and use all available legal and policy tools to counter such efforts.”

He noted that “ In submitting a resolution to condemn the BDS movement, German Chancellor Merkel and her coalition partners could not be clearer: ‘The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are antisemitic.’  President [Donald] Trump is the first US president to call BDS an antisemitic movement, leading the way for a number of European countries to do the same.”

The Post sent Peyman a press query about the media coverage in Germany and Israel and about the three members of the German parliament who are on the advisory board of the pro-BDS group, German-Palestinian Society. The three allegedly pro-BDS supporters are Omid Nouripour (The Green Party), Aydan Özoguz (Social Democratic Party) and Christine Buchholz (The Left Party).

BDS Fails (Oct. 2020) Arab-Israeli Peace edition

Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing series of posts documenting BDS fails.

Political BDS Fails

September 15, 2020: UAE, Bahrain and Israel sign historic accords at White House even

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have signed a historic deal with Israel, becoming the first Gulf states to formally normalise relations, in a move which dramatically re-shapes political dynamics in the region.

US President Donald Trump hosted the ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, capping several fraught few weeks since UAE and Bahrain first agreed to forge diplomatic relations with Israel despite no formal resolution to the 70-year-old Israel-Palestinian conflict.

At the US-brokered event, attended by some 700 attendees, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the “Abraham Accords” alongside Emirati foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahraini foreign minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.

Here is a timeline of the rapid developments that occurred before the signing:

Another BDS Fail Chemistry Journal Upholds Its Neutrality

The aim of the journal Molecules, which describes itself as “the leading international peer-reviewed open access journal of chemistry” is to “provide rigorous peer review and enable rapid publication of cutting-edge research to educate and inspire the scientific community worldwide.” To that end, Dr. Mindy Levine, an accomplished chemist who is currently an associate professor at Ariel University in Israel, was invited to guest-edit the January 2021 edition of Molecules devoted to the topic of her research, under the title, “Advances in Organic Fluorophores: Design, Synthesis, and Applications” and posted a request for submissions.

BDS activists, however, objected to the geographical location of Dr. Levine’s university in Ariel, Israel (highlighted in yellow), which they designated as “an illegal Israeli settlement… deep within occupied Palestinian territory.” They wrote a letter to the journal, expressing how “deeply disturbed” they were “by the choice of someone from an illegal institution as a guest editor of a Molecules Special Issue.” They demanded that “at the very least, the professor’s affiliation” should be changed to “Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory” and that “all potential contributors should be explicitly made aware of Ariel University’s status as an illegal institution and of its role in perpetuating a war crime, given that the editor, not merely a contributor, is from that institution.” They expressed confidence “that a considerable number” of contributors would be “equally disturbed” by the choice of someone from Ariel University as guest editor.

The BDS activists at the forefront of the campaign to cancel Dr. Levine’s edition of Molecules are George Smith, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri who was the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Malcolm Levitt, a professor of physical chemistry at University of Southampton.

Resisting the Normalization of Antisemitism in High Schools

Lastly, there is the danger of an insidious type of antisemitism arising as schools revamp their curricula and priorities in response to recent political trends. Where political activism is framed in terms of oppressed and oppressor, exploited and exploiter, some opportunists insert their hate into the broader agenda. A recent example was the first draft of California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which included blatant promotion of antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.

There are several risks here: as antisemites within political movements see their hatred going unchallenged, it becomes more ingrained in their activism. Such societal indifference to antisemitism within political movements will engender a broader acceptance of it. Finally, political activists tend to overlook or excuse the misdeeds of allies because they believe the overall cause is too important to undermine with infighting. Thus, at a recent assembly at an elite private high school, as part of a presentation on racism, the speaker encouraged students to emulate Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory. Jewish students were shocked to hear figures with very public records of antisemitism promoted as role models.

As students report such incidents of antisemitism, we must step up our efforts to fight back every time. For instance, we recently learned that certain high school students were posting antisemitic content online — calling Jews apes and posting Tiktok videos extolling violence against Zionists. Other students then began sharing and reposting the antisemitic content. Jewish students from the school contacted us, wanting to fight back but unclear of how to proceed. We helped Jewish students express concern to their administration about the growing antisemitism in the school community, citing relevant codes of conduct being violated. We are grateful that this school responded commendably with swift action against those students spewing hatred, and by instituting education about antisemitism for the student body. Whether responding to “casual antisemitism” online or illegal antisemitic crimes, Jewish students are increasingly on the front line. Our partnership with these students empowers them to be courageous and fight back.

Elie Wiesel once said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” As we see antisemitism rising and attempting to normalize itself in high schools and beyond, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of silence.

Peter Beinart’s Grotesque Utopia (Part Three)

There is also a curious ethical sense of national responsibility. Remember, Beinart believes that the blame for the eclipsing of the two-state option is entirely Israel’s to bear — never mind that he is, as demonstrated above, both wrong about two states not being an option and wrong about Israel bearing responsibility for the failure to realize that option. Jews were entitled to an independent state in part of their historic homeland, in Beinart’s telling, but by their own misguided actions they forfeited that right, now and for future generations (and American Jews — but not Beinart! — are “complicit”).

Interestingly, this ethical sensibility simply doesn’t apply to the Palestinians. Support for Hitler, which Beinart dismisses as “tragic,” may have had consequences for other nations (with much more difficult circumstances and dilemmas, such as Finland among others), but it is impolite to even mention it in this case. The rejection of the Partition in 1947 shouldn’t have consequences. The Arab defeat in 1967 shouldn’t have consequences (22% is the last concession, recall). And the abuse of the Oslo process for a campaign of suicide bombing which only accelerated after the rejection of serious peace offerings from Israeli and American leaders should absolutely not have any consequences for Palestinian claims for territory or anything else from Israel. Israel’s guilt is (excuse the obvious theological precedents) passed on down the generations; but the Palestinians operate on a moral tabula rasa where only eternal victimhood is preserved. This is an ethical program without parallel or precedent anywhere in international relations.

There is so much more dishonest revision and pious posturing in Beinart’s article that one doesn’t know what to leave out: the ahistorical claims about Arab political goals in pre-1948 Palestine, the shallow psychoanalysis that projects Jewish Holocaust trauma onto Palestinians rather than taking seriously the violent Arab rejection of Israel, the selective and dishonest retelling of the PLO’s “recognition” of Israel and the even more dishonest claim about Hamas’ “repeated embrace” of a state next to rather than instead of Israel, the cloying quotes from Arab leaders that they would “safeguard the rights of vulnerable Jews” under the utopian future Beinart dreams of (thanks but no thanks). Most nauseating of all is the passage at the end where Beinart conjures a rabbi reciting El Maleh Rachamim at a Nakba memorial as a complement to a Holocaust memorial service. I know this is supposed to be utopian, but I had no idea utopia could be so grotesque.

And Beinart is supposed to be a serious Jewish intellectual, or even a modern-day Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai only asking for Yavneh and its sages. But no one who wallows in such moralizing cosplay while intimating such an appalling analogy between, on the one hand, the Arab experience of defeat in an attempt to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide of Jews and, on the other hand, the Jewish experience of actual genocide which had only just finished three years prior, deserves to be taken seriously.

Estate of Late Holocaust Survivor Sues ‘Borat’ Creators Over Appearance in Sequel

The estate of a recently-deceased Holocaust survivor has filed a lawsuit against the creator and distributor of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new “Borat” movie in an attempt to keep her appearance out of the film, which will be released next week.

Judith Dim Evans, who lived in Aiken, South Carolina, passed away over the summer. The lawsuit, filed this week in the Superior Court of Fulton in Atlanta, Georgia, said Evans was approached to talk about the Holocaust for what she believed to be a legitimate documentary. The interview took place at a synagogue in Atlanta on January 29.

The interview was conducted for Baron Cohen’s new movie that is fully titled “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” which is set to become available on Amazon Prime on October 23. It’s a follow-up to the 2006 mockumentary “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

Baron Cohen, a British Jew, was in character as Borat Sagdiyev when he interviewed Evans “under false pretenses with the intent of appropriating her likeness,” the lawsuit stated, as reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The lawsuit said, “Ms. Evans did not consent to the commercial use of her likeness in ‘Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,’ or in a comedy ‘mockumentary.’”

“Upon learning after giving the interview that the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture, Ms. Evans was horrified and upset,” the lawsuit added. “Had Ms. Evans been informed about the true nature of the film and purpose for the interview, she would not have agreed to participate in the interview.”

COVID-19 in Gaza The Guardian Parrots UNRWA Chief While Ignoring Hamas

UNRWA and Gaza’s Invisible Rulers

Perhaps the most overt example of Holmes’ bias is that his article at no point notes that Gaza is ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, a terror organization that routinely arrests and tortures critics. Gazans have been rounded up and detained without trial for demonstrating against a lack of job opportunities and corruption.

Related Reading: Coronavirus Exposes Hamas Disregard for Gaza Human Rights

The omission is especially egregious since Holmes focuses specifically on UNRWA, which employs Hamas members who have used the organization’s buildings as weapons storage facilities. UNRWA has also been accused by Israel and independent researchers of using antisemitic textbooks, while Hamas terror tunnels were previously discovered under UNRWA-run schools.

But Holmes makes no mention of the problematic ties with Hamas, focusing only briefly on the fact that UNRWA has recently been embroiled in controversy:

Finally, comes the scandal. The former head of UNRWA resigned last year after an investigation involving accusations of widespread nepotism in the organization, including allegations he hired a lover.

Overall, The Guardian article ignores inconvenient facts in order to accord with, if not promote, the longstanding false narrative that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s hardships.

Beyond this agenda-driven piece there is the truth. Case in point: Jerusalem has reportedly agreed to a six-month cease-fire with Hamas that will see $100 million in Qatari funds transferred into the terrorist group’s coffers. Why didn’t Holmes include this development?

By twisting reality, readers are kept in the dark about the true nature of life in the enclave, which does no justice to Gazans and simply serves to perpetuate the faulty notion of Palestinian victimhood.

Guardian blasts Israeli actress for playing someone from the Middle East

A few days ago, woke Twitter unleashed its fury over the decision to cast Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the role of Cleopatra in an upcoming film, suggesting it was a form of “whitewashing”.

However, the tables quickly turned, and it was even blue check-marked wokesters being mocked for their cluelessness about the ethnic background of the Egyptian queen. As many, including the screenplay author, pointed out, Cleopatra was neither Arab nor Black, but rather a Macedonian Greek.

Enter the Guardian, which yesterday published an op-ed by British writer and critic Hanna Flint (“Gal Gadot as Cleopatra is a backwards step for Hollywood representation”, Oct. 14). Flint agrees that Cleopatra was Macedonian-Greek on her father Ptolemy XII’s side, but centers her argument on her claim that “the ethnic origin of her mother remains unverified”, and that “the Egyptian ruler may have been of “mixed heritage”.

Flint does acknowledge that Gadot “ticks the box for Middle Eastern and north African (MENA) representation” and that “she’s not as western a choice as either Angelina Jolie or Lady Gaga would have been – who had both previously been linked to the role”. Nonetheless, she argues, her casting “perpetuates a white standard of foreignness”.

It would be tempting of course to play their game, and argue, on their own woke terms, why it’s justified for Gadot to play Cleopatra. We would note, in response to Flint’s charge that Gadot’s role is an example of how cinema “colonises foreign regions”, that Gadot’s father is a sixth generation Israeli, and thus is firmly rooted in the Middle East.

Ex neo-Nazi calls for solidarity with Jewish, Muslim women

A former Blood & Honour white supremacist Neo-Nazi female has called for greater solidarity with Jewish and Muslim women in the UK, as hate crimes hit a record high, as well as white supremacist activity and conspiracy theories.

Lauren Manning, 30, was for over five years a member of the Canadian division of Blood & Honour, a notorious Neo-Nazi and white supremacist group founded in 1987 in the UK.

While beginning her first UK engagement with Nisa-Nashim, the UK’s Jewish-Muslim women’s network, Manning said that “the best thing [Jewish and Muslim women] can do during these times is to try and stand together as much as possible, and help each other where possible.”

“As Muslim and Jewish women, we commend Lauren for her incredible bravery and work in educating and raising awareness around the dangers of far-right extremism,” interfaith consultant and Nisa-Nashim co-founder Laura Marks OBE said. The group’s name means “women” in Arabic and Hebrew.

According to her, both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump administration are the origin of hate crimes reaching a record high.

Following Brutal Attack on Heidelberg Jewish Student, German Investigation Reveals Deepgrained Antisemitism Inside Elite University Fraternities

A German politician has urged the country’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution — which guards against neo-Nazi and extremist threats — to investigate a group of elite German university fraternities following a brutal antisemitic attack in August upon a Jewish student who was attending a fraternity party at Heidelberg University.

Boris Weirauch — a representative of the center-left SPD Party in the state parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg — charged that the Normannia fraternity, where the attack took place, had long been a haven for antisemites and Nazi sympathizers.

“The Normannia fraternity has been giving antisemites and right-wing extremists a home for years,” Weirauch told the regional news outlet RNZ on Tuesday. “This was obviously tolerated, if not supported, by the leaders there.”

Weirauch dismissed the fraternity’s subsequent apology for the incident as “obligatory distancing by the old men of Normannia that is not very credible.”

He was speaking as investigators from the state’s Interior Ministry revealed that one of the 10 students involved in the attack was connected to the far-right “identitarian” movement.

They also confirmed that the Aug. 29 attack on the 25-year-old Jewish student — who was whipped with belts, pelted with coins and subjected to antisemitic abuse — was motivated by the “antisemitic sentiments of at least some of the accused.”

Antisemites ‘Zoom-Bomb’ Memorial Service at Connecticut Synagogue With Nazi Imagery

A virtual service held by a synagogue in Connecticut on Monday night was “Zoom-bombed” with antisemitic and Nazi imagery.

About 80 people were taking part in a memorial service held by the Emmanuel Synagogue in West Hartford for a recently-deceased congregant when the attack took place. Shocked worshipers, including the grieving family, were assailed by two online intruders who interrupted prayers with pornographic videos and Nazi imagery while shouting antisemitic comments.

The incident was reported to the West Hartford Police Department and the regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Alan Simon, the synagogue’s president, told local news outlet News 8 that despite the incident, he was still encouraging congregants to participate in virtual services on the Zoom platform.

“It’s concerning, it makes me feel sad that there are people in this world whose purpose is to hurt others,” Simon said. “We understand that there are both good and bad things that happen and this is a bad thing.”

Simon added that an “expert from Zoom” had been brought in to assist the synagogue with securing its online services.

US firm Nvidia to employ 100 West Bank engineers as salaried workers

Nvidia Corp., the US gaming and computer graphics giant that acquired Israel’s Mellanox Technologies Ltd. for $7 billion, will employ 100 Palestinian engineers who are working as subcontractors at Mellanox as salaried workers.

The engineers, working in the Palestinian cities of Hebron, Rawabi and Nablus, were formerly employed as outsourced contractors, Eyal Waldman, Mellanox co-founder, said in a Facebook post published in Hebrew, English and Arabic on Wednesday. The workers from Gaza will remain subcontractors, for the time being, he wrote.

“First and foremost, this is a historic moment and an unprecedented achievement for the Palestinian workers,” he wrote. “It is their commitment, their professionalism and their excellence, that has led to the completion of this historic moment, in which a leading international high-tech company directly employs personnel in the Palestinian Authority.”

“We set out 10 years ago with a small team of only five people, we’ve weathered through criticism, we went through military conflicts and operations, and along the way it was clear to us that the joint professional work comes first. The daily positive interactions between Palestinian and Israeli teams have repeatedly demonstrated the immense potential inherent in a respectful discourse between people and the ability to put aside opinions and perceptions and unite together in one common goal,” Waldman wrote.

The astonishing revival of Israel’s Persian fallow deer

Once upon a time, Persian fallow deer roamed freely across the Land of Israel. But by the end of the 19th century, rampant poaching led them to disappear from the local landscape. A few decades later they also vanished from their habitat in Iran, leading experts to believe they were extinct.

Then, in the 1950s, a small herd was discovered in southwestern Iran, and a few deer were transported to a zoo in Germany to be bred. A couple of decades later, two deer couples were brought to Israel, together with six female deer on the last flight from Tehran to Tel Aviv at the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution.

One of the males from Germany didn’t survive, but the rest did, laying the foundation to what is today a population of between 200 and 250 Persian fallow deer that can once again call Israel home.

The deer were bred in the Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, and in 1996 the Israel Nature and Parks Authority began reintroducing some of them to their natural surroundings.

En route to Africa, flamingos make stop near Haifa

Flamingos heading to Africa for the winter have made a migration stop in Atlit, south of Haifa.

The birds, returning from Europe, have been spotted in the reservoir.

With a location at the nexus of three continents, and a climatic diversity that ranges from arid desert in the south to a cooler mountainous region in the north, Israel draws about 500 million birds annually from 550 species.

The entire continent of North America, which is 1,000 times Israel’s size, sees barely twice as many species.

Yad Vashem Honors German Pastor for Standing Up for Jews

Pastor Julius von Jan, 41, chose not to look away in silence when a wave of pogroms across Germany left hundreds of Jews dead on November 9, 1938 – Kristallnacht. The first concentration camps were in operation and the persecution of the Jews was systematic.

Eight days after the pogroms, the Protestant pastor in Oberlenningen delivered a sermon saying that “temples that were holy have been burned down with impunity, strangers’ property robbed or destroyed, men who loyally served our German nation and faithfully did their duty have been thrown into concentration camps just because they were members of another race!”

Now, 82 years on from those words, Israel is honoring Julius von Jan as “Righteous Among the Nations” – one of the few non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution. His son, Richard von Jan, 86, accepted the honor on behalf of his father.

The Protestant Church, which did not stand behind him in his resistance to persecution, did prevent him from being sent to a concentration camp. But von Jan was removed from his post as a pastor and was no longer allowed to show his face in Oberlenningen. He was beaten up and thrown into prison before later being sent to the Eastern Front, but survived the war and returned to again serve as pastor in the town.



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