July 23, 2024

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11/02 Links Pt2: UCL Riot Leader’s History of Antisemitic Tweets; BDS spurs anti-Semitism on campuses


From Ian:

UK Watchdog: Police Investigating Antisemitic Tweets Posted by Ringleader of Violent Anti-Israel Protest at London University
British police are actively investigating antisemitic social media postings of a student believed to be the ringleader of last week’s violent anti-Israel protest at University College London (UCL), a spokesman from a watchdog group told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), the Metropolitan Police Service is “currently reviewing evidence” it provided on tweets written by Yahya Abu Seido, president of the UCLU Friends of Palestine Society.
Though Abu Seido’s Twitter account is set to “private,” the CAA said in a statement that it obtained numerous tweets that violate the International Definition of Antisemitism.
In one instance, the CAA said, Abu Seido invoked the classical trope of Jewish control, writing: “Zionists own the economy,” and the media is “Zionist.”
In a tweet from July 2015, Abu Seido compared Israel to the Nazi regime.
That same month, he wrote that “ISIS serves Israel.”
The CAA said it also found video footage of Abu Seido at the UCL protest telling pro-Israel attendees, “I hope you guys will think twice now next time you think about coming here.”
As reported by The Algemeiner, police were called in to intervene at the UCL gathering — hosted by CAMERA on Campus and the Friends of Israel student group — after protesters stormed the premises.

‘Kill a Jew’ Spray-Painted on Wall of South African University Building Two Weeks After Kippah-Wearing Student Verbally Assaulted on Campus

Violent antisemitic graffiti was found on Monday at the campus of South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), a mere two weeks after a Jewish student was verbally assaulted by an angry mob of protesters.
According to a statement by the South African Union of Jewish Students Countrywide (SAUJS), “Kill a Jew” and “F**k the Jews” — were spray-painted on a wall of a school building.
The SAUJS “unequivocally” condemned the “hateful, ignorant and offensive” expression of antisemitism.
“SAUJS maintains that every student on campus should be free from intimidation, regardless of their race, religion, gender of self-identification. Jewish students are no exception,” the group said.
The national Jewish union called on the Wits administration “to condemn this blatant antisemitism in the strongest possible terms.”
The appearance of the graffiti at Wits comes on the heels of an incident last month, in which a kippah-wearing student was called, among other epithets, a “Motherf**king Jew” by fellow students during a campus protest.
SAUJS said, “This kind of hate speech…unfortunately is not new to Wits University.”

Combating Israel-bashing at the 2016 Göteborg Book Fair

Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden. The city’s largest cultural event of the year is held each September in one of the largest exhibition spaces in town. This year the theme was “Freedom of Speech.” Over a period of four days, close to 100,000 people from across Sweden paid a visit to the fair.
A special part of the Göteborg Book Fair is “The International Square” – “a network of NGOs, publishers, trade unions, businesses and agencies working with international issues and development and co-operation.” The goal is “to spread qualified information about global development issues to the many visitors – from Sweden and elsewhere.” The Swedish international aid and development agency (SIDA) supports the International Square, among other things by paying the salary of an organizer from a private adult-education agency.
As the director of the Sderot Media Center and the Jerusalem Discovery photography and multimedia show, I was invited by the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association (SIFA) to share my personal audio-visual narrative: From Rockets to Rainbows. This was the second year that SIFA set up a booth to counterbalance the well-funded anti-Israel booths in the International Square.
Upon arrival, I set up our books of photography for display in the booth and hung up colorful posters from my photo exhibits to draw attention to the booth.
On my first break, I walked around the complex to get a feel for the atmosphere of the International Square – and for what and who are we up against here.
There were at least seven anti-Israel booths and assemblies.

The Other U.K. Anti-Semitism Scandal

While her party couldn’t ignore this and issued a suspension, Baroness Tonge almost beat them to it and announced her resignation. A resignation that came with her usual trademark denial of anti-Semitism, accompanied by yet further anti-Semitism.
Tonge stated “I have never been anti-Semitic, and never will be. I am anti-Injustice”. But she also welcomed her exit from the Liberal Democrats explaining, “I am at last free of being told what I must and must not say on the issue of Palestine, lest it offends the Israel Lobby here, who like to control us, as they do in the USA. They are trying to destroy the Labour Party with spurious accusations of anti-Semitism, and now they have set their sights on the LibDems.”
On the same evening that Jenny Tonge issued her anti-Semitic resignation statement, havoc was unfolding at the UCL campus where Jewish students had been attempting to hold an event with a former member of the IDF. Around a hundred anti-Israel demonstrators were trying to force their way into the event, while also trapping the Jewish students in the room. The police were called and, eventually, Jewish students were escorted out in groups by security while a mob screamed abuse at them. During the scuffles that broke out, two female Jewish students reported being physically assaulted.
One of the student protestors explained the logic of the demonstration when she said, “we are in the 21st century, and we do not need no Jewish majority state.” Everyone knows that she and her fellow protesters have never once demonstrated against a speaker simply because they were visiting from one of the world’s many Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist-majority states. It’s quite obvious which kind of bigotry it is that she and her movement represent.
The question we are left with is what is to be done about any of this. We can ask whether campus security should have a better way of dealing with demonstrators seeking to hound Israelis off campus, or if Britain’s political system should leave someone like Tonge in the Lords, unelected and unaccountable. But challenging the popularization of the underlying ideas is far less straightforward. Indeed, it remains unclear whether Britain’s opinion formers are either willing or able to undertake the necessary work to reverse the revival of contemporary anti-Semitism.

NGO Monitor: [Opinion] World Vision and Gaza: Failure of Due Diligence and Worse

The arrest of Mohammed El Halabi, the head of World Vision’s Gaza branch, unsettled not only World Vision International, with its annual budget of $US2.7 billion (including substantial Canadian donations) but also the many political activists that have made entire careers in mixing aid for Palestinians with harsh anti-Israel advocacy.
The issue is not where and how humanitarian agencies work, but rather the due diligence that should accompany this work when the aid involves terrorism, warlords, and tyrants. World Vision has rejected the allegations about El Halabi by citing audits allegedly performed on their financial records. But standard financial audits in terror-run areas such as Gaza, are useless, particularly when aid includes cash for projects, equipment and shipments of food. Realistically, no auditing firm can possibly track diversions in a closed area governed by corruption, violence and fear.
The absence of due diligence in World Vision’s financial accounting for activities in Gaza should also be of serious concern to Canadians, which are among the major supporters of the worldwide operations of this organisation. The government-funded Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is listed as a major donor to World Vision.

NGO Monitor: Questions for World Vision

On August 4, 2016, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced that Mohammed El-Halabi, the manager of operations in Gaza of the international humanitarian NGO World Vision, funneled 60% of World Vision’s Gaza budget to the terrorist group Hamas.
This announcement highlights the inherent danger of humanitarian groups operating in warzones, risking the diversion of aid by violent actors, including terrorist organizations. Since the arrest, World Vision has released limited information regarding El-Halabi, the organization’s finances, and allegations of anti-Israel biases in World Vision staff.
A number of important questions still remain for World Vision to answer. The issues of concern can be categorized into two areas: political/ideological agendas, and financial managements and due diligence, although the former can lead to failures in the latter.

NGO Monitor: World Vision Finances in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza

On August 4, 2016, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced that Mohammed El-Halabi, the manager of operations in Gaza, of the international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vision, funneled 60% of World Vision’s Gaza budget to the terrorist group Hamas. The Israeli indictment and media reported that these funds were used in the construction of Hamas tunnels, military installations, and other terrorist activities.
World Vision International (WVI) disputes these allegations, arguing that the budget for Gaza operations was smaller than the amount of funds the Shin Bet states were diverted. In a press release, WVI claimed that, “World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile.”
NGO Monitor research demonstrates the obstacles to independent verification of World Vision’s financial claims regarding operations in Gaza. World Vision has five offices operating under the “country” Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza (JWG); JWG does not exist as a separate financial and legal entity. According to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, there is an Israeli World Vision entity, with offices in Jerusalem. Although the relationship between the entity registered in Israel and the JWG office is entirely unclear, they do apparently overlap to some degree.

PM calls on Jewish Agency to join fight against BDS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday called on the Jewish Agency to assist Israel in its fight to undermine the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Speaking to members of the agency’s Board of Governors during a gala event in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall, Netanyahu urged them to “delegitimize anyone who delegitimizes us. I want to enlist you [in the fight] for the truth and for Israel’s influence in every one of your countries.
“Israel is home for all Jews, and every Jew should say, ‘I would like to see more Hebrew speakers in the Jewish communities and more immigrants to Israel.’ Your actions are of the utmost importance, but an emphasis must be placed on results achieved. And we have an excellent opportunity to do just that because Israel has never been stronger.”

BDS is a blow to academic freedom

Academic freedom — the freedom to explore any subject wherever it leads and to exchange ideas with colleagues of one’s choosing — lies at the heart of the academic enterprise. Without this freedom, our universities would be servants of special interests and political ideologies. This would create the safe space some students seek in which students would be spared exposure to vigorous give-and-take on contentious issues. But this would be an education stripped of intellectual diversity.
These are the demands of the academic BDS (the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement — to cut off debate, stop the exchange of ideas with Israeli academics, and coerce faculty around the country to follow the dictates of a narrow political movement.
Boycotts deprive American academics and their students of valuable cross-cultural interactions. However, it is Israelis, and to even greater extent, Palestinians, who pay the greatest price. Boycotts reinforce prejudices and harden positions so that developing a rich Palestinian civil society, in which divergent views can be aired, is made more difficult, and Palestinians who openly engage with Israelis are placed at greater risk. Highly qualified academics on both sides who might contribute to the resolution of this complex conflict are moved further apart, since it is only through dialogue that the groundwork for resolving this conflict can be laid.
Last spring, in a hastily called meeting, with little time allowed for discussion, the Doctoral Student’s Council (DSC) of the City University of New York (CUNY) passed a resolution endorsing the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Shortly thereafter, the students were praised for their courage in an open letter from CUNY faculty ready to man the barricades to protect embattled students. The faculty letter includes the passage:
“And we wish to make it absolutely clear that we will be vigilant against, and will not tolerate, any attempts to intimidate, threaten, harass, or enact reprisals of any sort against any of the students who have been involved with the DSC, whether such intimidation comes from members of the CUNY community or from groups or individuals outside the college.”

Pro-Israel students plan counter-programming and protest at SJP annual conf

So this is interesting.
Students for Justice in Palestine and its related groups are responsible for much if not most of the anti-Israel activity on campuses. We have documented dozens of incidents of intimidation and violence, scroll through our SJP Tag.
For additional background, see reports by The Tower Magazine, The ADL, NGO Monitor and AMCHA Initiative.
This is one of the milder shout-downs and stage takeovers by SJP:
The umbrella organization for SJP, National Students for Justice in Palestine, is holding its annual conference this weekend on the campus of George Mason University to train anti-Israel activists to carry out the mission on campuses of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
In an interesting development, GMU Christians United for Israel chapter is organizing counter-programming on the GMU campus, Confronting Hate and Extremism: A Discussion on the BDS Movement:
You are invited to a GMU Christians United for Israel panel discussion featuring leading experts on the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks the destruction of Israel and has brought violent, confrontational tactics to U.S. campuses.
An extremist BDS organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, is holding its annual conference at GMU on the same weekend. SJP rejects peace and compromise between Israelis and Palestinians, promotes hatred of Israel and Jews to students, and employs tactics — such as disrupting events and shouting down speakers — designed to deny students their free speech rights.
Please join us for an engaging discussion and Q&A on the beliefs, tactics, and goals of SJP and the BDS movement — and how to combat hate and extremism on campus. The event is free and lunch will be provided.

BDS is failing – a continuing series (Nov. 2016)

Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing series of posts detailing BDS fails:
Political BDS Fails
British Jewish Groups Welcome Suspension of UK Funding to Palestinian Authority as International Concerns Over Terror Payments Grow
According to The Sun’s report, International Development Secretary Priti Patel has ordered a freeze in millions of pounds worth of aid pending an investigation into how it is used by the PA.
The report said the British government was aware that many Palestinian civil servants “were doing other jobs while pocketing UK taxpayers’ cash.”
A British government source told The Sun, “We are not stopping for the Palestinian Authority overall, just delaying it to a date when we know our money won’t be going to people who do nothing in return for it.”
As a result of the funding suspension, £25 million in British government funding will be withheld from the PA this year, the report said.
The UK is not the only nation where attention has been raised recently about the PA’s misuse of foreign funding. A German lawmaker brought up questions in the Bundestag about the issue this summer and last week three Republican senators in the US introduced the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off American funding to the PA if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families.

Pro-BDS Roger Waters urges Chemical Brothers to nix Israel show

The prolonged campaign by pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestement and Scanctions (BDS) movement to deter cultural guests from performing in Israel has targeted its latest subject: the British electronica duo the Chemical Brothers.
Pink Floyd co-founder and vocal BDS supporter Roger Waters is among a contingent of anti-Israel artists who have urged the multi Grammy Award-winning band to cancel its November 12 concert in Tel Aviv.
Waters along with 10 other artists signed a letter under the banner of the Artists for Palestine UK group that pleads for the popular musical pair – Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands – to nix their show in Israel.
“But Tel Aviv’s hipster vibe is a bubble on the surface of a very deep security state that drove out half the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948 and has no intention of letting their descendants back in,” reads the October 18 letter addressed to the Chemical Brothers.
Meanwhile, the BDS movement claimed a victory with the signatures of over 7,000 people on an online petition calling for the artists to pull out of their gig at the Tel Aviv Convention Center.

BDS spurs anti-Semitism on campuses, says Brandeis study

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents on US college campuses have increased, much of it attributed to the rise of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a new report has found.
Researchers at the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University conducted the study, which was released in late October. It was based on a survey taken in the spring among Jewish undergraduate students at 50 US campuses who applied to go on the Birthright Israel trip.
The study found that Brooklyn College, Northwestern University and many of the schools in the University of California system are “hotspots,” where the majority of Jewish students perceive a hostile environment toward Israel and over one-quarter sense a general environment of hostility toward Jews on their campus. On these campuses, it appears that the high rates of anti-Semitic harassment and hostility are largely driven by malice toward Israel.
The study also found that at the University of Wisconsin, Rutgers University and the University of Illinois, hostility toward Jews and anti-Semitic harassment are relatively high but do not seem to be highly connected to criticism of Israel. At these schools, more traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes seem to be driving the perceived hostility toward Jews.

London University Rugby Team Supporting Anti-Israel BDS Movement

A Goldsmiths, University of London, rugby side has announced its backing for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement by adding a Palestinian flag to the sleeve of players’ shirts.
The flag can be seen in an image posted to the team’s Facebook page. It came with this explanation:
“We’re excited to reveal our new kit which features the Palestinian flag, as part of our SU’s continued commitment to supporting BDS. We’re hoping through our work with Goldsmiths Palestine Society this year we can encourage more societies and clubs to endorse and raise awareness about BDS.”
According to the Jewish News, a Union of Jewish Students representative said the move showed the team was showing an “unfair” and “unsporting” attitude. He said:
“Whereas the Goldsmiths Israel Society have recently been promoting ‘Bridges Not Boycotts’, the Goldsmiths RFC seem to only be interested in creating further divisions between students on campus. Sport is not an area where political acts should be welcomed and this inherently political act is likely to alienate many Jewish students. It is an unfair and unsporting tactic that is being used to push the students’ unions divisive political agenda.
“It is concerning that Goldsmiths SU continues to promote and encourage such acts, and we will be working with the Israel and Jewish Societies to ensure that relevant action is taken to address this.”

IsraellyCool: Richard Silverstein Libels Israel Advocate Hen Mazzig

Neither Hen or StandWithUs have ever defended the murder of anyone. One can assume Silverstein sees the liquidation of actual terrorists trying to murder Israelis as constituting murder.
Nor is Hen’s mission to demonize palestinians. His IDF service was with Cogat, whose mission includes facilitating humanitarian issues and economic and infrastructure projects. In the IDF, Hen actually helped make life easier for palestinians.
Silverstein is constantly complaining he gets no respect, with the media refusing to cite his “scoops.” Besides most of these “scoops” being false, he has no credibility with any serious media outlets due to his reputation for lying, bullying and racism.
It truly sucks to be him.

UK car garage quotes auto parts to Israeli at 25-times listed price

A car garage in Oldham, northern England refused to sell a customer a new mirror for his car because the customer was Israeli, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitsm (CFCA).
The potential customer, Jack de Lowe, had planned to travel to Oldham to retrieve the used mirror for his Ford Focus, which he expected to cost 40 British Pounds.
However, Lowe was allegedly quoted 1,025 British Pounds for the car part.
When he emailed the garage that associates itself with the American Ford Motor Company brand, he received a spelling mistake-laden response stating that the garage does not recognize Israel and will not ship there.
“As we do not recognise the state of israel we do not ship to such non exitent ountries hwoever delivery to palestin can be arranged at a sensible price [sic],” stated the email.

Legal Analysis: Rasmea Odeh’s “expert” PTSD testimony inadmissible under clear court standards

Rasmea Odeh is the terrorist member of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted in Israel in 1970 of the 1969 bombing of the SuperSol supermarket in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. Rasmea also was convicted of the attempted bombing of the British Consulate.
Rasmea was released in 1979 in a prisoner exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
Rasmea made her way to the U.S. in the mid-1990s, where she lied on her visa application by denying any prior convictions or imprisonment, and again in her 2003 naturalization application when she repeated the same false answer. For more background, and how Rasmea’s supporters have distorted history, see Rasmea Odeh rightly convicted of Israeli supermarket bombing and U.S. immigration fraud and Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now.
Rasmea was convicted of immigration fraud in federal court in Detroit in November 2014, sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered deported after release from prison.
Rasmea has become a hero to the anti-Israel movement in the U.S., which falsely claims she confessed to the supermarket bombing only after 25 days of horrific sexual torture. In fact, the records show she confessed the day after arrest, there was substantial corroborating evidence, and she received a trial that an observer from the International Red Cross termed fair. Rasmea’s main co-conspirator has said in a video interview decades later that Rasmea was the mastermind.

Why has the Guardian ignored the violent intimidation of Jewish students at UCL?

An Oct. 31st Guardian article published on their Education page titled “Does your university produce racism?” explored the views of students and academics on the issue of racism on British campuses. Most of those interviewed for the piece on racism within academia focused on alleged institutional discrimination against ‘people of color’ (whilst also touching upon religious minorities and sexual minorities). Yet, it curiously omitted any reference to racism directed towards Jews, or Jews of color.
Interestingly, this omission occurred a few days after a very well publicized incident of racist intimidation at a British university directed towards Hen Mazzig, a gay Israeli Jewish peace activist whose parents hail from Iraq and Tunisia.
As videos circulated on social media make clear, the talk by Mazzig at University College London (UCL) last Thursday (organised by CAMERA on Campus together with student groups from UCL and King’s College London) was disrupted by a mob of anti-Israel activists.

IsraellyCool: NY Times Article On “Palestinian Cuisine” Serves Up Food For Thought

A New York Times article entitled In Israel, a New Passion for Palestinian Cuisine is actually a great reminder that the issue of a distinct palestinian identity is 1) not clear and 2) a relatively modern thing.
For instance, in the article, the words “Arab” and “Palestinian” are used interchangeably.
An Arabic dessert had been crowned the best in Israel? We could make room. After a few bites of the sweet, which consists of kadaif cheese rolled into tangy semolina pancakes and dressed with pistachios and honey, it was abundantly clear: Palestinian cuisine in Israel, which for decades has been relegated to tourist traps and quick-fare family restaurants, is having its moment.

Halloween Firework Attack in London Leaves 8-Year-Old Jewish Girl Injured, Shaken

Firework-throwing thugs have been wreaking Halloween havoc – with one young Jewish girl left injured when she and her friends were attacked on a London street.
The eight year old suffered minor burns to her leg and was left shaken, with holes in her clothes following the attack in Stamford Hill, north London.
One of a gang of five hooded teenagers shot the firework down the street, in the same direction as the girl who was walking past with other children.
In the moments afterwards, an orthodox Jewish boy chased the yob as he tried to flee on a bike.
Police confirmed that the parents of the girl reported her clothing had been marked by the firework and that they are investigating, but no arrests have yet been made.
Shomrim, a Jewish community group, has film footage of the incident, which took place around 7.45pm on October 21. They posted it online today.
Shulem Stern from Shomrim said: ‘The firework burnt some of her clothes and she suffered minor burns on her leg.

Traumatized US vets find psychic healing in the Holy Land

As Bibiana Narcissa walked around Israel’s national military cemetery at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem last August, she noticed the many stones placed on the graves of fallen soldiers. Until then, she had been unfamiliar with the Jewish custom of leaving small rocks on tombstones, instead of flowers.
She was also moved to see a group of active-duty soldiers visiting the cemetery with an IDF educator-guide. In Israel, it is common for soldiers and members of the public to come pay their respects to fallen they may never have met.
“I would like to see that back in the United States. People there don’t have the same understanding of the military experience as they do here in Israel,” Narcissa told The Times of Israel.
As a US military veteran, Narcissa, 45, has struggled since her discharge from the United States Air Force in 2003 with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and with finding a sense of purpose in life. Back at home in Detroit, she found few people who could understand what she was going through. But it was different in Israel, where she learned that that because of mandatory military service for most citizens, everyone here can relate to her experience.
“There is not that disconnect between military vets and the public like there is in the US,” she said.

Google taps Israeli exec as new VP

An Israeli Google executive has been named as the new vice president of the technological giant.
Meir Brand, who has been CEO of Google Israel since 2005, was promoted last week to VP of the company, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.
Google, which last year was reorganized as the holding company Alphabet Inc. by Jewish co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, is one of the world’s largest technology companies and specializes in online advertising, search, and cloud computing, among other fields.
Google has been an active investor in Israel in recent years, most notably through its purchase of the popular Israeli-made GPS app Waze, which it purchased in 2013. Google also has a large research and development center in Israel.
Brand will remain CEO of Google Israel, and will also continue to serve as a board member and director of Google’s EMEA Emerging Markets (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa).

Air Canada Magazine: Inside Tel Aviv’s Booming Tech Scene

I found Aviya, Loran, their home and their little dog, too, on EatWith, a website (and app in the making) that was developed locally and connects diners with host-chefs; over 100 such events are held in Tel Aviv each month. It’s kind of like Tinder for food lovers, and it’s not by chance that I swiped right on Aviya and Loran: The animated duo learned their cooking skills while working with some of Tel Aviv’s top chefs, like Yonatan Roshfeld, Roy Sofer and Osnat Hoffman. The smell of shrimp grilling on the coal barbecue surrounds me as Loran sweeps through, circulating a platter of enormous spoons of watermelon gazpacho topped with salted cheese, and grilled calamari swimming in tomato-spiked yogurt.
As a group of 12 casually dressed thirtysomething Israelis and I take our seats around a candlelit, linen-draped table, Daya Tolkatzir, the website’s community manager in Israel, tells me that “people compete to see how many EatWith dinners they’ve been to.” The menu is clipped to our plates with clothes pegs, and we eat family-style, the meal punctuated with glasses of retsina and a “L’chaim!” here and there.
Cool Cousin founders Nadav Saadia and Itamar Weizman in Casino San Remo Cafe.
By the time the desserts roll out (my favourite is a chocolate mousse latticed with kadaif, a regional pastry made from butter-fried threads of dough), I’m laughing and chatting with all the other guests. Each one of them is anxious to share what their start-ups are working on, or to tell me which Tel Aviv apps and websites are essential to the essence of the city. It’s a sweet finale to my trip. In a place where I don’t recognize the characters of the alphabet or understand a fraction of the language, technology has made me feel at home.

Infinity Augmented Reality raises $15m from Alibaba

The Chinese technology giant has taken a 25% stake in the Israeli tech firm, while a $3 million investment from Sun Corp. brings the funds raised to $18 million.
Israeli company Infinity Augmented Reality (Infinity AR), which is developing augmented reality systems for medicine, training, and games, is raising $15 million from Chinese retail and Internet giant Alibaba in exchange for a 25% stake, sources inform “Globes”. Infinity AR is listed on the pink sheet exchange in the US at a negligible market cap of $4.9 million. Alibaba’s investment reflects a value of $60 million for the company, after money – a tremendous premium on the market value. The investment is expected to result in Infinity AR being delisted from trading. Trading in the share was halted in September, and it has published no reports to the stock exchange since the end of 2015.
SUN Corporation of Japan, which led a $5 million financing round in Infinity AR 18 months ago, is investing $3 million in the current round, in addition to Alibaba’s investment. Other important investors in the Petah Tikva-based company include Singulariteam and Platinum Partners. A total of $7.2 million has been invested in Infinity AR to date.

Launching a new chapter in Australia–Israel relations

In conjunction with the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies [BESA], the Australian Strategic Policy Institute [ASPI] has released a new report,
The Wattle and the Olive: A new chapter in Australia and Israel working together.
The cover photo of the report (and above) by official Australian war photographer in both world wars, Frank Hurley, was carefully chosen: it’s an iconic picture of an Australian Light Horse regiment marching up to the old city of Jerusalem, in the wake of the surrender of the Ottoman forces in December 1917.
The Australian Light Horse’s battlefield prowess in Palestine during WW1 helped lay the groundwork for the eventual creation of the modern Jewish state. Jerusalem symbolises the modern Jewish state. The cover picture brings both together.
The study looks at what strategic interests Australia and Israel have in common and what each side can bring to the relationship across traditional and non-traditional security realms. It examines the strategic rationale for a stronger working relationship, rather than just relying on the common values both states share.
There’s really no country in Middle East whose interests are more closely aligned to Australia than Israel. In particular it’s a bulwark against violent extremism in the region. Unfortunately in Australia there’s a tendency to see Israel purely through the lens of Palestinian issue and the peace process. The ASPI-BESA study wanted to get away from that prism.
The report highlights areas cooperation where interests are aligned, like countering terrorism and counter proliferation. Cyber security is another obvious area. Israel is very advanced in cyber deterrence. It’s probably subject to more cyberattacks than any other country.
The report’s key message is that Australia and Israel can cooperate in strategic affairs to the benefit of both countries. Israel should be seen as strong middle income country: it qualified to join the OECD, the top industrial countries group, six years ago, so the idea of ‘tiny’ Israel is rather out of date.

John Hagee Ministries Program Holds 35th Annual ‘Night to Honor Israel’

A Christian ministries media network held its 35th annual “Night to Honor Israel” event Sunday, where it distributed $2 million to Israeli and Jewish charities.
The John Hagee Ministries (JHM) program included keynote speeches from former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and JHM’s CEO, Pastor John Hagee, who is also the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Bolton spoke about the importance of a strong US-Israel relationship, saying “If Israel is not secure, the United States is not secure.”
In Hagee’s remarks, the pastor touted the continuing growth of Christian Zionism and the threats Israel faces today.
He also called for Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act, a bill that seeks to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues its policy of paying monetary rewards for terrorism. The legislation is named in memory of American veteran Taylor Force, who was killed in March by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel in March.
“We must not give one dime to the Palestinian Authority so long as they continue to support terrorism in both word and deed,” Hagee said.

WATCH: Holocaust Survivors Celebrate Life in Haifa Beauty Pageant

In an unconventional beauty pageant in Israel on Sunday, fourteen participants posed for pictures with elegant hairdos, waved their hands at adoring crowds, and spoke of their experience in surviving the atrocities of World War II.
The event was the fourth such pageant dedicated to celebrating the life and resilience of Holocaust survivors in Israel, Reuters reported.
“Tonight we’re letting some women who survived the Holocaust have something that was robbed from them in their youth,” said David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, which helped organize the event. “We want to give something back to them tonight it’s for them to enjoy.”
Among the participants were German-born Malka Gorka, 73, who was brought to Israel by her parents in 1948, and Auschwitz survivor Carmela Ben Yehuda, 89, who came to Mandatory Palestine in 1945.
Russian-born Anna Grinis, 75, who was an infant when the war began, was crowned the winner by the wife of Israel’s prime minister, Sara Netanyahu. “When my mother was alive, she always used to tell me about this period (when) we ran way from Moscow … and there was nothing to eat there,” Grinis recalled. “We barely survived.”

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