Clifford D. May: From prison to politics to an exodus from Africa
In the Soviet Union of the 1970s, it wasn’t hard to meet Russians who knew the Communist system was incorrigibly corrupt, dysfunctional and oppressive. But it was one thing to whisper such truths to trusted friends, quite another to speak openly, to make oneself a target of the police state.
A member of the intelligentsia who kept his head down asked me this question: “What do you call a man of integrity in the Soviet Union?” When I shook my head, he dolefully provided the answer: “An inmate.”
Natan Sharansky was born Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky in 1948 in Stalino, a grimy Ukrainian coal town renamed Donetsk following the death of the second Soviet dictator in 1953. He showed enormous aptitude for mathematics and chess—useful pursuits for those who did not want to risk being “cancelled” (to borrow a contemporary expression) by the KGB. But he was not such a person.
In his 20s, he became a vocal Zionist (i.e. a believer in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in part of their ancient homeland), refusenik (a Soviet citizen denied the right to emigrate) and human rights activist (not just for Soviet Jews but also for dispossessed Tartars, oppressed Pentecostalists, Armenian nationalists and others).
Before long, he was arrested, tried by a kangaroo court and, in 1978, sentenced to the Gulag. Released nine years later, he went to Israel where he spent nine years in politics, followed by nine years as head of the Jewish Agency, an organization that links Israelis with the remaining (or surviving) Jewish communities abroad.
He tells the stories of his life—along with large sprinklings of history, philosophy and polemics—in “Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People,” written in tandem with Gil Troy, the eminent historian.
I had the opportunity to speak with Sharansky last week. I mentioned that I had attempted to report on his trial but, because it was closed to the press and public, the best I could do was hang around outside the courthouse with his supporters.
One day, a van arrived and backed up to the building’s exit. The van’s rear doors opened and then closed. The van drove away. We knew he was in it and where he was being taken.
Plaintively, his supporters called out what was then his nickname: “Tolya! Tolya! Tolya!” For more than 40 years, I’ve wondered: Had he heard them?
A year before the coronavirus hit, the Times was blaming Jews for the spread of measles. But it goes back even further than that.
A 1921 Times editorial headlined “Typhus Still a Menace” declared, “the immigration danger has been obvious for decades,” complaining about “the problems of infectious disease brought here by immigrants.” What was that a reference to? A Times editorial from 1892, headlined “Typhus and Immigration,” holds an answer: “Two weeks ago the steamship Massilia brought to this city 248 Russian Hebrews, and within the last two days it has been discovered that about one-third of these immigrants are suffering from typhus fever, one of the most virulent and menacing of the diseases which test the powers of sanitary officers. …Typhus fever is a disease caused by filth, overcrowding, destitution, and neglect of the fundamental laws of sanitation… This outbreak of dreaded disease must bring forcibly to the attention of all intelligent citizens the evils of unrestricted immigration. The Times has made the sufferings of the persecuted Hebrews in Russia the subject of a notable investigation, the results of which our readers are familiar. No one will accuse this journal of having failed to appreciate the hardships of these unfortunate persons… But it is the duty of the people of this country to protect themselves against the importation of such persons as these whom the Massilia brought to this port. Especially it is the duty of the people of New-York to protest against the admission of those whose habits and condition invite deadly infectious diseases and who carry with them the seeds of a plague that can be stamped out only by the most energetic measures of a large body of sanitary officers. Such immigrants are not wanted either in this city or in any other part of the United States. They should excluded. The doors should be shut against them.”
The 1892 editorial is still available on the Times website with no correction, apology, or retraction appended, not even a trigger warning.
What’s remarkable here is the continuity. The New York Times has been blaming Jews for the spread of deadly diseases in New York City for 128 years. The newspaper did not want us here in America to begin with. It would have preferred that we perished in Europe. Shmuel Rosner writing on the Times op-ed page in 2020 with the absurd claim that “Ultra-Orthodox Jews tend to be poor by design” and the assertion that they “live in densely populated areas” sounds like an echo of the 1892 Times editorial about “destitution” and “overcrowding.”
If the New York Times had been publishing in Europe between 1348 and 1350, it would be blaming the Jews for the Black Death.
But enough looking backward. What about the future?
With any luck, the Jews will be around in another 100 years. As to whether the Times will be around then to blame us for the latest pandemic—well, that’s a different question. One hopes that the market for this sort of scapegoating is diminishing over time.
Jonathan Tobin: A Conformist Media Is No Friend to Freedom
He’s exactly the sort of person conservatives and some of Israel’s most ardent supporters despised. Yet today he’s being lionized by supporters of the most pro-Israel president in history and attacked by left-wingers who once idolized him. Perhaps more than anyone else, Glenn Greenwald embodies the contradictions and the ironies that abound in politics and the press in 2020. As such, the sympathy or scorn that he is now generating for his refusal to play by the contemporary rules of a tribal media culture has broad implications not just for the future of journalism but for democracy.
Greenwald led the team at The Guardian that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for writing about the massive leak of US intelligence information by Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency contractor. Snowden had provided the material directly to Greenwald, who had already made a name for himself writing scathing critiques of the tactics used by the Bush administration’s war on Islamist terror, as well as for vitriolic attacks on Israel in its efforts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists.
Born to Jewish parents in New York, Greenwald is the sort of polemicist that defended the use of antisemitic slurs like “Israel-firster” to denigrate Jews who support Israel as disloyal to the United States. That demonstrated his antipathy for the right of the one Jewish state on the planet to exist or to defend itself against Hamas terrorists whose actions he justified. But it was also rich since, as his aiding and abetting of Snowden indicated, he didn’t seem to have much loyalty to the United States in its struggles against foreign enemies like Al-Qaeda and Iran.
Nevertheless, Greenwald’s undeniably intrepid reporting on US security issues, including his documenting the way Americans were being spied on by the agencies that were tasked with defending their freedoms, earned him a lot of respect among journalists as well as political liberals who shared his distrust of the intelligence establishment.
Aaron David Miller had a long and distinguished career in the US State Department — distinguished that is by failure to achieve the objective of Israeli-Arab peace. Nevertheless, he has continued to advocate the wrongheaded policies he pursued, and to criticize President Trump’s Middle East policy. It was a shock, therefore, to read his mea culpa in The Washington Post. Even while admitting his errors, however, he could not abandon ideas that are equally mendacious.
He starts by confessing that he and other “peace process veterans” were wrong in their insistence the Arab states would not normalize relations with Israel before the Palestinian issue was resolved. Miller concedes that, in May, he had expressed skepticism about Arab countries establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
What Miller does not acknowledge is that he and other Arabists turned their views into a self-fulfilling prophecy by refusing to make much of an effort to either help pressure or entice Arab states to make peace with Israel. Instead, their obsession with the Palestinian issue, and misguided ideas of how to resolve it, led them to advocate pressure on Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands. By doing so, they reinforced Palestinian intransigence. By lauding the Arab Peace Initiative, they endorsed giving the Palestinians a veto over Arab states’ normalization of ties with Israel. Due to a lack of imagination, rather than jettison an approach to peacemaking that failed for decades, they insisted there was no alternative.
The misreading of Arab sentiment dates to before and after partition, when the Saudis made no secret of the fact that they cared less about Palestine than the survival of the monarchy. Had the State Department exploited their weakness and pressured them to accept Israel rather than behaving as if Saudi Arabia was the superpower and fearing their reaction, history might have been much different. Perhaps unconsciously, Trump’s advisers understood this and used the Gulf Arabs’ fear of Iran — combined with their rapacious desire for US weapons — to their advantage and helped nudge the UAE and Bahrain to expand their quiet ties with Israel to open and full diplomatic relations. The Saudis are still holding out, but cooperation with Israel is an open secret and normalization may follow.
Dehrar Belhoul Al Falasi, a member of the Federal Council of the United Arab Emirates, told i24News in an interview that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are “corrupt” and “murderer[s].”
“The UAE is committed to the cause, to the Palestinian people … Hamas and the [PA] Authority—both of them are corrupt, both of them are murderer[s],” he said. “Now the anger … on the UAE from both of them [is] because the UAE stopped paying anything. If we want to pay, we pay the people,” not the leaders.
Falasi went to call Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “a common traitor,” and that when he visited the UAE, his son came with and tried to do business deals.
“Now you came to help the Palestinians or you came to sell yourself or your companies,” accused Falasi. “So now, the UAE had enough and Saudi Arabia had enough. Every time, they miss a chance by refusing to negotiate and they lose more.”
Falasi added that to stop terrorism, it is necessary to cut off the financing coming from Qatar.
“We know Hamas is a terrorist, but if you cut the money from it, it cannot continue,” he said. “They will start fighting and will kill each other.”
“It feels like we are dating” – those are the words that Fleur Hassan Nahoum, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor uses when describing the new relationship between the UAE and Israel.
“In all our conversations and the new friends we’ve made, what is really clear is that both sides have a real thirst for a warm peace. And I’ve never experienced that. I think we are living in historic times, we are curious about each other and we want to get to know each other. It’s so interesting and exciting – we are really making history here,” Nahoum, who is also co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, tells Gulf Business.
There has been a strong momentum following the signing of the historic Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel in the US in September. Last month, the first-ever official delegation of UAE ministers visited Israel, where a number of landmark agreements were signed across sectors including investment, tourism, financial services and technology.
The UAE, US and Israel have also jointly established a $3bn Abraham Fund to help stimulate private sector-led investments across the region. The fund will bolster regional trade, enable strategic infrastructure projects and increase energy security. From a business perspective, it is almost as if the floodgates have been opened in terms of potential collaborations between the UAE and Israel, opines Dorian Barak, also a co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council.
The council, which was established in June of this year – prior to the peace treaty being signed between the countries – aims to foster economic cooperation and business partnerships between the two sides.
“I think there are three specific areas where you are really going to see the floodgates open. The first is employing the UAE – and Dubai in particular – as a hub [by Israeli companies]. It is an unparalleled hub for Israeli companies to tap the greater Middle East, South Asia, East Africa and in fact the entire Indian Ocean base. I think you are going to see a lot of Israeli companies establishing themselves in this remarkable business hub,” he states.
“The second is the direct export of technologies here in a much more organised and open way in areas where Israel is traditionally strong such as agricultural technologies, clean technologies, solar and other renewables.
United Arab Emirates airline Flydubai on Wednesday said it would start direct fights to Israel this month with twice daily services between Dubai and Tel Aviv.
The announcement comes after the Middle East states in August agreed to establish formal ties, including launching direct flights between the two countries.
Dubai state-owned Flydubai will operate 14 weekly services between the UAE’s and Israel’s financial capitals from Nov. 26, it said on its website.
Tickets for those flights were now on sale.
Dubai’s Emirates, the UAE’s biggest airline, will sell tickets on the Flydubai service through a codeshare agreement between the carriers, an Emirates spokeswoman said.
UAE and Israeli citizens are able to visit each others’ country without applying for a visa before traveling as part of agreements recently signed between the two states.
Israeli airlines Israir and Arkia have advertised packages to Dubai for flights starting on Dec. 9, but say they are yet to receive final approval for the flights.
El Al Israel Airlines, the country’s biggest airline, has not advertised flights.
Israel and India share a close bond of friendship and complement each other, Israel’s Ambassador to India Ron Malka said, the Press Trust of India reported.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Indo-Israeli Centre of Excellence for Vegetables Protected Cultivation in the outskirts of Guwahati, the ambassador praised the close collaboration the two countries have had in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
This followed a meeting between a Malka-led delegation and Sarbananda Sonowal, chief minister of the Indian state of Assam, where they discussed a number of issues benefiting both India and Israel. This includes the Centre of Excellence, which Sonowal has said will be a valuable addition to government efforts at boosting farmer income through the infusion of new technological innovations in agriculture and food processing, the Press Trust of India reported.
The project is valued at Rs 10.33 crore, and will see Israeli technologies used by Assam’s farmers to help them maximize production and income, Sonowal explained.
He further asked for Israeli help and cooperation in aiding the state’s growth in other sectors, such as industry.
On Oct. 6, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued the now-notorious Executive Order 202.68. Citing rising positive COVID-19 rates in parts of New York state, the order designated certain areas into red, orange, and yellow zones based on their case load. Notably, these regions included significant Orthodox Jewish populations and the order imposed sharp restrictions on their communal religious practice. In red zones, houses of worship were ordered to limit their attendance to 25% capacity or 10 people, “whichever is fewer.” In orange zones, attendance was similarly capped at 33% capacity or 25 people, whichever was fewer. This held true no matter how large the congregation, its building, or its outdoor property.
With these restrictions coming during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, it was unsurprising that Orthodox Jewish groups soon filed lawsuits against the order and its impositions on their schools and houses of worship. What’s more surprising is that their case has since been joined by an array of Muslim advocacy groups.
On Oct. 16, the Muslim Public Action Council, the Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, and religious liberty lawyer Asma Uddin filed an amicus brief in support of one of these lawsuits, petitioning the state to allow the Oct. 27 reopening of Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam (BYAM) school.
In the popular imagination, Muslims and Jews might seem like an odd pairing to prosecute this case. But to those involved, the partnership is intuitive, based on an understanding that threats to traditional religious practice do not stay confined to one community.
The current reaction by UConn President Tom Katsouleas and his administration has been wholly inadequate. To date, the South Campus incidents have been addressed through a town hall for students of these residence halls, and a public statement released on October 30. Most of the individuals who attended the town hall were either staff, members of the Jewish community, or resident assistants on South Campus. While this virtual gathering provided a productive outlet to discuss hatred and antisemitism, it was not enough. Not to mention that the university has not responded to the allegations of the @JewishOnCampus post. The tacit acceptance of such ignorance at the faculty level represents an affront to the Jewish community. To compare the systematic, targeted murder of millions of European Jews with the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a false equivalency.
Although the university administration denounced these antisemitic actions, they did too little too late. Unfortunately, this delayed reaction follows a striking pattern of hesitation in responding to acts of hate on our campus. Simply put, our administration needs to respond to these incidences sooner. In order to do so, the university should bolster its existing response protocol to hate incidents that target other minority communities. Furthermore, the university should make public the outcome of their ongoing investigation into the South Campus incidents. Lastly, the university should muster its power as an institution of higher education, and address the dangerous misconceptions that produce hate and antisemitism. Put plainly, UConn needs to be much more transparent in its response to incidents of hate across campus.
UConn’s mission statement claims that the university seeks for each student to “grow intellectually and become a contributing member of the state, national, and world communities.” If this is to be accomplished, UConn must be outspoken in denouncing hate in all forms including antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. It must educate its student body to understand and appreciate the stories of historically oppressed communities. Most importantly, UConn must ensure that course material is taught in a factually nuanced way, which addresses the full scope of perspectives.
In a July 23 message addressing UConn’s response to anti-Black racism, President Katsouleas and Chief Diversity Officer Tuitt eloquently stated that teaching and learning are what we do best as a university: “Through education and scholarship, we address the needs of our students to understand and contextualize the world around us, empower them with that knowledge, and address the misperceptions that underlie bias and bigotry.” As a member of the Jewish community, I agree; and I intend to hold the UConn administration responsible for the values it espouses. An act of hate against one faith, culture, or identity is an affront to us all. It is time for our university to be an outspoken voice for change: to educate, speak up, and speak out against antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and all forms of hate on our campus.
The University of Connecticut has been investigating multiple reports of antisemitic incidents on its main campus in Storrs, including swastika vandalism and other kinds of property damage.
“These recent reports were all acts of physical damage to property, including swastika graffiti. These are undeniable symbols of antisemitism that elicit painful reminders of the Holocaust among our Jewish students, faculty, and staff,” said school administrators in an email to students.
“These acts and other discriminatory acts this semester are deeply upsetting and leave a scar on members of our community whose beliefs or identities are targeted,” they added.
Following each incident, the Residential Life staff reached out to impacted parties to offer support, according to school officials.
The university said it’s working with members of the Hillel on campus to organize an event regarding concerns and working towards healing.
The City of Toronto is reportedly bringing charges against a Bloordale food services business that made headlines over the summer with pro-Palestinian signage indicating “Zionists” were not permitted inside.
In a news release, Jewish service organization B’Nai Brith Canada said city bylaw inspectors told a complainant they’ve concluded an investigation into Foodbenders (at 1162 Bloor St. W.) and will be proceeding “administratively” at the Toronto Licensing Tribunal.
In a partially-redacted email provided by B’Nai Brith, from a staff person in Toronto’s Licensing and Standards Division to an anonymized complainant, it stated that the city has also filed charges against Foodbenders for “contravention of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 545, for discriminate (sic) against any member of the public in the carrying on of a licenced business.”
B’Nai Brith said the names were struck out from the email as a matter of organizational policy.
A spokesperson from the City of Toronto’s Strategic Communications department would not comment on the email because the matter is “an open investigation,” but in an emailed statement advised toronto.com to check back in two weeks’ time.
We reached out to Foodbenders owner Kimberly Hawkins for comment, but did not hear back from her before our publication deadline.
B’Nai Brith Canada Chairman Michael Mostyn said in an interview that the news from the individual complainant that charges were being laid was “very important.”
The Swiss city of Basel, where Theodore Herzl ushered political Zionism into the world in 1897, is engulfed in an anti-Israel row over a Green Party candidate’s longstanding support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish State.
The Green Party candidate for Basel’s city government, Heidi Mück, launched a parliamentary initiative in 2008 against Israel. She sought to stop the work of the Basel city building department with the French company Veolia because it had helped construct Jerusalem’s light rail system.
For the last 14 years, a picture of Mück has been on a BDS website that calls for the boycott of Israeli goods. In 2010, Mück signed a document in support of BDS.
The prominent Swiss-German daily Basler Zeitung reported critically over the past week about Mück’s pro-BDS activities, ostensibly leading her to walk back her support for BDS.
When asked about her BDS activities, Mück told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “I signed at the time the BDS call for a boycott of Israeli products on humanitarian grounds. As early as 2016, I made it clear in a reply in the Basler Zeitung that I am neither a member nor a supporter of BDS, but only supported this one appeal.”
Mück would continue to meet with BDS activists in 2017 in connection with the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist congress in Basel – appearing to suggest a way to strip Israel of its legitimacy, according to critics.
Success ! Thank you to @GoFundMeUK me for stopping Palestine Action raising money as their supporters and members were arrested for assaults recently on innocent supporters of Israel Elbit london. Thank tou to all who complained #eyeonantisemitism #elbit @Campaign4T
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) November 4, 2020
First, he wasn’t merely ‘critical of Israel’.
As our posts have demonstrated, he possessed what can more accurately be described as a malign obsession with Israel. However, even being obsessively critical of Israel isn’t necessarily evidence of antisemitism. The only evidence in our view worthy of examination is the question of whether journalists or commentators have actually employed antisemitic tropes – “antisemitic” as defined by the IHRA Working Definition.
In this regard, the evidence is clear.
In 2019, we posted about an Indy piece by Fisk which unleashed the kind of unfiltered venom fancied by unabashed bigots in charging the media with “grovelling, cowardly, craven obeisance” to Israel”, accused the US Congress of being “in thrall” to Jerusalem, and concluded that the Jewish state has “annexed America”. (The original headline charged that “Israel controls America”.)
Indeed, Fisk’s use of the ‘Jewish control’ narrative goes back many years.
In April 2006, the Independent carried a four-page piece by Fisk – mirroring his more recent charge that Israel “annexed” America – titled ‘The United States of Israel”, profiling professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book on the Israel lobby.
Robert Fisk’s Arabic language skills and factual inaccuracies were the topic of a blogpost by former Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker in 2013.
“Fisk is at his most comical when he gets on his high horse and immediately falls off. Writing with (justified) indignation about the killings in Baba Amr last year, he began:
“So it’s the ‘cleaning’ of Baba Amr now, is it? ‘Tingheef’ in Arabic. Did that anonymous Syrian government official really use that word to the AP yesterday?”
Well, no. Obviously a Syrian official wouldn’t use the word ‘tingheef’, since it doesn’t exist in Arabic.
Fisk likes to drop the occasional Arabic word into his articles – they add local flavour and possibly impress readers who are unfamiliar with the language. For those who are familiar with Arabic, on the other hand, it only draws attention to his carelessness.
Fiskian Arabic is often based on mis-hearings or rough approximations of real words. […]
First, contrary to the assertion that the Balfour Declaration failed to protect Palestinian Arabs, the letter in fact says that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
But, the more important distortion is the claim that the Balfour Declaration is “one of the main causes of the Israel/Palestine conflict”, absurd reasoning which conflates cause and effect. It wasn’t the Balfour Declaration, which set in motion international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland, that caused the Israel/Palestine conflict. It was the Arabs’ and Palestinians’ consistent rejection of the morally intuitive idea endorsed in Lord Balfour’s letter – that “Jewish people constitute a nation and deserve an equal place among the family of nations in its own homeland” – that caused the conflict.
If Arabs and Palestinians had accepted the idea behind the Balfour Declaration, and tolerated but one Jewish state in a tiny sliver of land between the Mediterranean and Jordan, there wouldn’t have been the calamitous wars of 1948 and 1967, and Palestinians might have recently celebrated their 72nd year of independence.
Ofcom has fined the Islam Channel £20,000 for broadcasting a programme that contained “antisemitic hate speech.”
The watchdog ruled that an episode of The Rightly Guided Khalifas, a religious education series broadcast in November 2018, contained three breaches of the Broadcasting Code.
Confirming that a hefty fine had been imposed on Islam Channel Limited, Ofcom referred to a decision it had made last October over the programme’s contents, which it said contained “uncontextualised hate speech” and breached Rules 2.3, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Code.
Explaining the decision, it said: “Ofcom’s Breach Decision found an episode of the programme The Rightly Guided Khalifas contained uncontextualized antisemitic hate speech which amounted to the abuse or derogatory treatment of Jewish people.
“The Breach Decision found this episode of The Rightly Guided Khalifas ascribed a perpetually negative characteristic to Jewish people; namely corrupting Holy Books and seeking the destruction of Islam in both ancient and more recent times.
“In addition, through the conflation of Israel and Jewish people the content characterised Jewish people as ‘tyrannical’ and having an ‘evil mind’. It was our decision that this content met Ofcom’s definition of hate speech and that Rule 3.2 was breached.
Google Play banned the third-party app BitChute this week, which was promoted as a “free speech” alternative to YouTube that has become a safe haven for neo-Nazis, hosting racist, violent and antisemitic videos that are later posted on social media.
Google suspended the app, stating that it is in violation of its affiliate spam policy, although BitChute denies this claim, tweeting a photo of Google’s notification.
The UK-based video platform was set up in January 2017 by tech entrepreneur Ray Vahey and Richard Anthony Jones. It has become a platform used by alt-right groups, with UK-based Community Security Trust (CST) finding it to be one of the four most dangerous outlets of extreme anti-Semitic content on the Internet.
According to pro-Israel lawyers and activists, in the context of rising antisemitism, public access to this platform and the site’s active promotion of antisemitism are cause for major alarm. Recently, social media companies are being pressured to clean their platforms of hate speech and adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, but this has led antisemites and white supremacists to look for other places to share their content.
Despite the site’s community guidelines that say “incitement to violence” and “malicious use of the platform” will not be tolerated, on the site are pro-ISIS content, calls for the killing of Jews, Holocaust denial, classic antisemitic characterizations of Israel and Israelis, and drawing comparisons to a contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis—each with tens of thousands of views.
Twitter has banned the account of British conspiracy theorist David Icke.
“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating Twitter’s rules regarding Covid misinformation,” a spokesman told the BBC.
The action comes six months after Facebook and YouTube took similar action, saying Mr Icke had posted misleading claims about the pandemic.
The 68-year-old had about 382,000 followers on Twitter.
His recent posts had included attacks on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci and the philanthropist Bill Gates.
In a blog, Mr Icke said was banned for a tweet he had made about plans to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing in Liverpool.
But over recent months he has made false claims such as suggesting that 5G mobile phone networks were linked to the spread of the virus, and that a Jewish group had also been involved.
Mr Icke has promoted fringe theories since the 1990s, but his recent return to prominence was propelled by the spread of Covid-19.
Holocaust denial and distortion is one of the most insidious forms of antisemitism
While the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by the Nazis is the most documented genocide in history, far too often, its factual basis is denied, its scope mitigated, and the deliberate intentions of the Nazis and their collaborators are dismissed. According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism, which Canada is a member, Holocaust denial is a modern-day example of Jew hatred.
While Holocaust denial is not explicitly banned in the Canadian Criminal Code, these deniers seek to erase Jewish victimhood from the history books and to wilfully incite hatred. They accuse the Jewish people of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust, claiming it’s just a hoax perpetrated by manipulative and sinister Jews.
With antisemitism on the rise domestically and surging worldwide, fueled by the proliferation of online hate, the concern is that digital bigotry may descend into real-world violence. As Voltaire forewarned: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
In recent days, Facebook announced it will now ban content which, according to its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, “denies or distorts” the Holocaust. Only two years earlier, Zuckerberg was publicly opposed to this ban noting that while he found such antisemitism offensive, he didn’t want to intervene. He had argued that “… at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that (Holocaust denial content) down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.” But as Edward R. Murrow once said: “I simply cannot accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument.”
There is an important debate to be had on the limits of free expression in Canada, which is a protected privilege under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but it’s undeniable that antisemitic actions are often spurred on by incitement. The Holocaust, after all, didn’t start with the gassing of the Jews, it started with words. Nazi propaganda in newspapers and radio helped characterize the Jew as sub-human and paved the way for the slaughter of European Jewry. Once Jews are no longer seen as human, committing a massacre against them becomes significantly easier and, to its proponents, justified.
The new governor of a Brazilian state was forced to condemn her father, who has praised Hitler and other Nazis, but Jewish groups say her repudiation was not forceful enough.
At a press conference last Tuesday, Daniela Reinehr, the new governor of the Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil, was asked about her father Altair, who has written texts that relativize Nazi atrocities during World War II and once said “it is not even allowed to remember Hitler’s positive works” in the caption to a photograph of himself in front of the house where Hitler was born in Austria.
“Your father, as a history teacher, preached in the classroom Holocaust denial, including using books by a publishing house that was condemned for telling lies about World War II,” Intercept Brasil’s Fabio Bispo said. “We want to know if you corroborate these neo-Nazi and denialist ideas about the Holocaust.”
Reinehr gave a long answer without taking a position on Nazism.
“I cannot be judged by what anyone else thinks. I respect individual rights and freedoms. I repudiate any regime that goes against what I believe,” she said.
An Icelandic company has plunged the country’s publishing industry into a debate about censorship with its plan to publish a 1976 book that argues the Holocaust is a hoax.
The book, an Icelandic-language translation of “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry” by Arthur Butz, is being advertised online ahead of its launch in the coming weeks, in time for the Christmas shopping period, the news site Visir reported Wednesday.
Separately, the city of Malmo in Sweden last week suspended its ties to an association called the Arab Book Fair, which puts on events across Europe. The suspension follows the flagging of anti-Semitic literature at previous fairs and on the fair’s website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote in a statement.
Denying the Holocaust is not illegal in Iceland, but the Association of Icelandic Book Publishers has the means to intervene to stop the book’s sales, Visir reported. However, the head of that organization told the news site he is not inclined to do so.
“One of the cornerstones on which book publishing here and elsewhere is based is freedom of the press and expression,” Heiðar Ingi Svansson said. He called this “a basic premise.”
Jewish organizations in Long Island have demanded the immediate resignation of the sanitation commissioner in the town of Oceanside because of a series of racist and antisemitic posts on social media.
A statement on Monday issued by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Long Island, American Jewish Committee Long Island, Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County, Simon Wiesenthal Center and StandWithUs called on Oceanside Sanitation Commissioner Ryan Hemsley to step down from his position because of “hateful social media posts…which include the denigration of victims of the Nazi Holocaust, antisemitism, white supremacy, ableism, and anti-black, anti-Muslim, misogynistic, and homophobic sentiments.”
When the offensive posts were revealed last month, Helmsley initially said that the entries on Facebook had been “doctored or completely made up.” He subsequently admitted to the Long Island Herald that he had been aware of the posts for many months, but that other people had posted them on his page, and that he was asked to remove them before commencing his role.
“These posts that were released are not who I am as a person,” Hemsley said on Oct. 15. “It is absolutely disgusting, and I did not post them. I am a veteran, family man and a member of an Oceanside volunteer group” — the Oceanside Community Warriors.
The controversial posts, which included the n-word and jokes about the Ku Klux Klan and the Holocaust, among other things, were sent to the Herald by a group called Oceanside Against Racism. They were posted between 2014 and 2017, and featured racist jokes against African Americans and jabs at Jewish people that made light of the Holocaust. They also took aim at homosexuals and people with disabilities. The posts are no longer visible.
The statement put out by Jewish groups accused Hemsley of having “issued what can only be regarded as a disingenuous apology after he was caught in a lie, having originally denied responsibility for the hateful posts.”
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) studied the movements of cockroaches and lizards to create a new palm-sized high-speed amphibious robot that is able to swim, run on water, and crawl on challenging terrain.
The robot is intended to be used for agricultural, search and rescue, and excavation purposes, where both crawling and swimming are required, David Zarrouk, the director of the Bioinspired and Medical Robotics Laboratory in BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said in a statement. The lab studies animal movements for inspiration for the robots it develops.
The mechanical design of the robot, called the AmphiSTAR, and its control system were presented virtually last week at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) by Zarrouk and graduate student Avi Cohen.
The movement of the robot very much resembles that of cockroaches as they scurry across terrain — managing to continue to run even in a puddle of water 20 centimeters (eight inches) deep, a video presented by the researchers shows. It can also swim at a slow speed and run over water.
Excavation works will start within two weeks to prepare for construction of the controversial cable car planned to connect West Jerusalem with the Old City, even though the High Court has not yet ruled on a petition to scrap the project.
On Thursday, project director Shmulik Tzabari met with stakeholders on Mount Zion to explain that works to move infrastructure would soon commence at the parking lot adjacent to the Shulhan David event hall, which is currently undergoing renovation.
Existing infrastructure such as water, sewage and telecommunications systems will need to be removed.
Also last week, the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), which is responsible for implementing the cable car project, won approval from the Agriculture Ministry’s Forest Commissioner’s Unit to remove trees along the cable car’s route.
Emek Shaveh, a not-for-profit organization that strives to prevent politicization of archaeology in Israel and has been leading the campaign against the project, appealed through its lawyer to the forest commissioner to freeze any tree-related action until the High Court has ruled.
A survivor of the Auschwitz death camp who assisted a German court in convicting an SS war criminal passed away on Tuesday in Chemnitz — the eastern German city of his birth.
Justin Sonder, who died at the age of 95, was deported by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1943 — when he was 17.
While Sonder and his father Leo survived, his mother Zita and eleven other members of their family were exterminated in the gas chambers.
In 2016, Sonder gave crucial evidence at the trial in Germany of Reinhold Hanning — a former SS guard who was convicted as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 Jews.
In his testimony, Sonder recalled that he had been lined up for the notorious “selektion” process — when Nazi officers decided which prisoners to send to the gas chambers and which to retain as slave labor — no less than 17 times.
“I don’t have the words to describe how it was, when you know that you could be dead in one or two hours, it made you sick, made you crazy,” Sonder told the court in a voice quivering with emotion.
In an interview with the German newspaper Bild prior to his passing, Sonder — who lived in communist-ruled East Germany after the war — said he hadn’t spoken about his experience in Auschwitz following the Holocaust. In 1990, in the wake of the collapse of the GDR, he began speaking at schools, giving lectures several times a week.
Do you know an outstanding English-speaking Oleh who has made a meaningful and lasting contribution to the State of Israel? https://t.co/lrQ0toKtyB
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) November 4, 2020
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