January 25, 2022

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11/15 Links Pt2: Evelyn Gordon: Don’t Trust Middle East Experts to Predict the Future; Irish BDS lawyer arrested for drunk, racist rant; It’s Time for Natalie Portman to Take a Stand on the Women’s March


From Ian:

Evelyn Gordon: Don’t Trust Middle East Experts to Predict the Future
The Jewish state’s relations with Arab states continue to improve—evidenced most recently in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Oman and Minister of Culture Miri Regev’s visit to Abu Dhabi. Consequently, many experts on Israel and the Arab world, who long insisted that such reconciliation could not occur absent a resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, have been forced to change their tune. But even while admitting they were wrong, their response has been simply to move the goalposts and suggest that the Palestinian issue will serve as a “glass ceiling” preventing complete normalization. Evelyn Gordon comments:

The experts [claiming normalization is impossible] generally favor Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, so they don’t want Israel to be able to normalize relations with Arab states without such concessions. Similarly, the few experts who confidently predict that normalization is possible regardless of the Palestinians are generally people who oppose such concessions.

[But more importantly], predicting change is hard. For decades, with the notable exception of the peace with Egypt, Arab attitudes toward Israel were in stasis, making it easy to predict that the future would resemble the past. But now, with Arab attitudes in flux, nobody can really know how far Arab states are willing to go. . . . That’s precisely why experts are so often wrong on so many issues—not because they’re stupid or evil, but because they’re too arrogant to admit that even experts can’t predict the future. They can’t predict whether a complex policy will succeed or fail; they can’t predict when a seemingly stable country will suddenly implode; they can’t predict when long-held attitudes will suddenly shift.

That doesn’t make them useless; experts excel at concrete tasks that don’t require oracular powers. For instance, though Israel’s intelligence agencies failed to predict the second intifada, they became very good at the day-to-day task of thwarting terror attacks once they adjusted to the new situation. But unless experts acquire enough modesty and honesty to admit that they have no special expertise about the future, they will keep getting big issues wrong. And eventually, like the boy who cried “wolf,” people will stop listening to them altogether, even on issues where they do have something to contribute.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Renewed US Sanctions on Iran are Good News for Palestinians

What the Hamas official is actually saying is that thanks to Iran’s backing, Hamas continues to hold hostage the two million residents of the Gaza Strip, whose lives have been literally destroyed by the Hamas leaders’ policies.

The message that Hamas and PIJ are sounding is: How dare the US administration impose sanctions on Iran, the only country that is helping us in our effort to continue our terrorist attacks against Israel?

The renewed US sanctions on Iran are good news, however, for many Arabs and Muslims who feel threatened by Tehran’s actions and rhetoric. Iran has long been systematically working towards undermining moderate Arabs and Muslims in the region.

The Palestinian Authority and Abbas are actually attacking a US administration that is seeking to undermine the enemies of Abbas: Hamas and Iran. The Palestinian Authority is, thus, aligning itself with its own enemies.

Irish ‘lawyer for the Palestinian people’ arrested for drunk, racist rant

An inebriated woman who claimed to be an international lawyer and pro-Palestinian activist was arrested after a racist, abusive rant aboard an Air India flight.

The woman was identified in The Times as Simone O’Broin, 50, from Belfast in Northern Ireland. A video of the incident posted on Twitter by Tarun Shukla, an aviation reporter for Economic Times Prime.

In the video, O’Broin – also known as Burns – can be hear berating staff how they’re treating “business class passengers like that, who are international criminal lawyers for the Palestinian people… I’m working for all your people, the f***ing Rohingya… don’t get any money for it by the way, but you can’t give me a f***ing glass of wine, is that correct?”

According to several reports, O’Broin was irate that she was denied more alcohol and also told she cannot smoke on board the aircraft.

O’Broin also told the Air India crew member that she was the “leader of the f***ing boycott movement – if I say boycott Air India, done. Do you understand me?”

In the video, O’Broin continues to rant and rave, calling one staff member an “Indian money-grubbing bastard” and using other racial and misogynistic slurs. She then repeatedly proclaimed that she is a “human rights lawyer for the f***ing Palestinian people” as well as the “Irish Republic Army… you’ll be f***ing shot.” (h/t UR)


Virulently Anti-Israel Lawyer Arrested After Nasty, Racist Behavior On Plane

One passenger on the plane told The Daily Mail:
I’ve never known anyone go off like that for as long as she did. She was saying she was an international lawyer who’d worked in Gaza and the Palestinian strip. She was saying that she could put all of us in jail. She was scary and out of control. It was exhausting. We were too frightened to sleep, at one point I was worried about the plane crashing it got so out of hand. My wife and I were so terrified that we held hands and my wife told me not to look at her.

In October 2011, O’Broin wrote that Israel was guilty of genocide, quoting (of course) the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza (established by the League of Arab States).

She seemingly justified terrorism in 2012, when she wrote of the “legitimacy of the Palestinian reaction … All struggles to date – including that of the Native Americans, the Algerians under the French, the Vietnamese and the South Africans under apartheid – used both violent and non-violent methods in their struggles … While today the Palestinian people and their international supporters are adopting many innovative methods of non-violent struggle, it is important to emphasize that the Palestinians are indeed a group struggling for self-determination against a colonial, racist regime. The mainstream media’s presentation of information, especially its focus on Palestinian violence, is often manipulated to encourage viewers to associate ‘terrorism’ with the victims of oppressive regimes, who are legitimately resisting.”

IsraellyCool: Anti-Zionist-Not-Antisemite of the Day: Simone O’Broin

The unbelievable thing is she really is an international lawyer. She has worked for BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency, and has even co-authored a paper with Richard Falk. Yeah, this guy.

But what is not unbelievable is that besides being an Israel hater, she is a terror supporter and Jew hater.

Simone, thanks for playing Anti-Zionist-not-Antisemite. Unfortunately, you booze lose!

Update: O’Broin has now deleted the antisemitic post I exposed above, clearly not having heard of screenshots.

EU Plan to Enable Non-Dollar Iran Trade, Oil Sales Unraveling

The main European powers – Germany, France and Britain – will raise pressure on Luxembourg to host the so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) after Austria refused to manage the plan, threatening its viability.

The EU’s executive promised EU lawmakers on Wednesday to find a solution and said that technical work continued, adding that the bloc would not be cowed by U.S. sanctions.

“We Europeans cannot accept that a foreign power, not even our closest friend and ally, takes decisions over our legitimate trade with another country,” European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, referring to the United States.

The stakes are high, for Iran has warned it could scrap a 2015 accord on curbing its nuclear program reached with world powers, including the big EU trio, if the bloc fails to preserve the deal’s economic benefits against U.S. pressure.

The SPV is a kind of clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement circumventing U.S. sanctions, based on global use of the dollar for oil sales.

Pompeo accuses Newsweek of ‘helping’ Iran ‘spread lies’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took aim at Newsweek on Monday over a magazine article that he said suggested that the U.S. was preparing to sanction food being imported into Iran.

In a tweet, Pompeo accused the magazine of “helping” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spread “lies” about the U.S. after Zarif tweeted a screenshot of the article and accused Pompeo of threatening to starve Iranians.

“Shame on #FakeNewsweek for helping @JZarif spread lies,” Pompeo responded on Monday. “The truth is: the U.S. does not, and never did, sanction food and medicine. They are exempt from sanctions, as are financial transactions related to humanitarian needs.”

Trump’s pick for Saudi Ambassador is expert on Hezbollah and Iran

US President Donald Trump nominated retired general John Abizaid as ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He has opposed the Iranian nuclear program, but also urged Israeli restraint in confronting it. As an observer for the UN in 1985 Abizaid saw some of Hezbollah’s first terror attacks and has spoken about the threat of terrorism in the region. His nomination comes at a crucial juncture for US-Saudi relations and also Riyadh’s role in the region. Abizaid will fill a spot that has been open for several years. A former US Central Command, Abizaid has a long background in the Middle East and its wars.

Abizaid is of Lebanese descent and a fluent Arabic speaker. Retiring from the US military in 2007, he was the longest serving commander of CENTCOM at a time when the US was embroiled in a variety of wars in the region. This gives him an unprecedented view into the current US role, including in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, areas that Saudi Arabia also has an interest in. However, much has changed in the last ten years and Abizaid is coming to Riyadh at a unique time.

He has viewed Iran’s nuclear program as a danger to the region, but also said in 2007 that the US could learn to “live with a nuclear Iran.” In comments to the Center for Strategic and International Studies that year he noted that the US had learned to deal with a nuclear China and Russia. “The Israelis have the capability to make a lasting impression on the Iranian nuclear program with their military capabilities,” he told a US Marine Corps Conference in 2008.

Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty against 5 suspects in Khashoggi killing

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five out of 11 suspects charged in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a case that has strained the kingdom’s ties with key Western allies, his office said on Thursday.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policy, was killed in the country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2, after a struggle, by a lethal injection dose and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, deputy public prosecutor and spokesman Shaalan al-Shaalan told reporters.

He said the Washington Post columnist was murdered after “negotiations” for his return to the kingdom failed and that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiating team that was sent to repatriate Khashoggi.

The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remain unknown, he said.

Riyadh had offered numerous contradictory explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance before saying he was killed in a rogue operation, in a case that has sparked a global outcry, opened the kingdom to possible sanctions and tarnished the image of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

U.S. announces sanctions for 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing

The U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on 17 Saudis on Thursday for their role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the first concrete response from the Trump administration to his death last month.

Those to be sanctioned include Saud al-Qahtani, a former top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi.

The sanctions will be implemented under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption. The announcement was unusual for Washington, which rarely imposes sanctions on Riyadh.

“These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

He added that Washington was continuing to try to determine what happened and would hold accountable everyone found responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

“The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists,” Mnuchin said.

Media Gives Short Shrift to Anti-Semitic Comments Made by Newly Elected Congressional Representatives

There’s been much media fanfare about the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. It’s an important milestone, to be sure. Yet, much of the reporting has overlooked anti-Semitic comments made by both women.

Ilhan Omar has tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel.

This is a blatantly anti-Semitic comment, echoing tropes about Jews with superhuman powers, using those powers to commit or hide malfeasance. As John-Paul Pagano wrote in the Forward, “hatred of Jews stems from the belief that Jews are a cabal with supernatural powers; in other words, it stems from the models of thought that produce conspiracy theories.”

Congresswoman-elect Omar clearly subscribes to this view. While the tweet is from 2012, she’s neither deleted it nor apologized for it in the years since, despite the attention it has garnered from activists. On the contrary, this past May, when a Twitter user called attention to her 2012 tweet, she doubled down on it, writing, “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.”

It’s Time for Natalie Portman to Take a Stand on the Women’s March

Dear Natalie,

When you refused to accept the Genesis Prize (known commonly as the Jewish Noble Prize) in person because you believed attending the ceremony would appear as an endorsement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it created a sensation. You were elevated, in that moment, into an unofficial spokesperson, a leader, the Queen and conscience of progressive Jews.

“Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation,” you explained in an Instagram post. “Because I care about Israel I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”

But there is another event you have been attending for years with that has its own serious problems with leadership, inequality, and abuse of power: the Women’s March.

If you don’t know by now, the Women’s March Co-Presidents have been widely criticized for their connections to Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic, transphobic, homophobic, misogynist leader of Nation of Islam. Instead of apologizing to Jewish and LGBTQ communities, the March’s leaders have done everything possible to deflect accountability, blaming their actions on “right-wing plots” and accusing feminists who have criticized them of being divisive troublemakers.

With high profile feminists in Hollywood such as Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing speaking out against Women’s March leadership and refusing to attend the next event until the bigotry against Jewish and LGBTQ people is addressed, the time has come for you to take a stand as well. Boycott the next march until and unless the movement’s leaders truly show that they will not tolerate hatred in any form and that anti-Semites don’t get a pass. (h/t MtTB)

PreOccupiedTerritory: UK Labour Reassures Jews They Will Be Blamed Whether Brexit Works Or Fails (satire)

Opposition leaders in the United Kingdom sought to assuage Jewish concerns over anticipated antisemitic backlash over Britain’s imminent step away from the European Union, stating that whether or not the process succeeds, their members and allies will scapegoat the Jews for any resulting unpleasantness.

A spokeswoman for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement to various Jewish organizations today, containing a guarantee that Labour will maintain its reliable attitude toward the Jewish community no matter the outcome of the “Brexit” negotiations and implementation, specifically mentioning that Labour will characterize any resulting prosperity and sovereignty as occurring either despite Jewish perfidy or only because Jews manipulated the process for their own profit, whereas if Brexit brings economic or political misfortune, the party will attribute same to Jewish sabotage.

“We wish to affirm our commitment to the Jewish community,” the letter asserted. “No matter the immediate or longer-term effects of Britain’s departure from the Union, to whatever degree that takes place, Labour will remain consistent towards the Jews of Britain: we will seek a way to accuse the Jews either of undermining efforts to make the move a success, or of engineering the entire process to benefit themselves at the expense of British society at large. Our consistency in this matter will not waver.”

‘For the Many Not the Jew’ Graffiti Found at California State University, Fullerton

Graffiti reading “for the many not the jew” was found at the California State University, Fullerton, campus on Tuesday.

The message was written in black marker on an electric utility box outside the university’s College Park building, according to photos shared online. It was denounced as antisemitic by social media users as well as the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, an Israel-based monitoring organization.

A university spokesperson told The Algemeiner that the graffiti — which was removed Tuesday afternoon — “was immediately reported to the university police as well as senior leadership.” An investigation is ongoing.

CSUF President Fram Virjee condemned the vandalism in a statement, saying it “was not only offensive, hurtful, and abhorrent, it was an affront to everything that we, as an inclusive, welcoming, and diverse campus community, stand for.”

“[Our] stance is clear: we will not tolerate these kinds of hateful, criminal acts in or around our campus community,” he added.

The slogan appears to invoke the motto of the British Labour Party, “For the many, not the few.” Both the party and its far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn, have been accused of fostering antisemitism by leaders of the UK Jewish community.

University of Tennessee Rock Painted With Swastikas, ‘Kill Jews,’ ‘Free Palestine’

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said an iconic campus structure was repainted with “symbols and messages of hate” on Saturday, for the second time in as many weeks.

While officials did not specify what was painted on the Rock, photographs shared on Facebook by user Sandra Starr Marquis and her daughter, who attends the school, reveal a potpourri of offensive markings — among them swastikas, the white supremacist Celtic Cross, and the lightning bolt logo of Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel, which oversaw concentration and extermination camps during the Holocaust.

Various slogans were interspersed between the symbols, including, “Kill Jews,” “Hail rape,” “White man’s land,” and “Free Palestine.”

The Rock — a slab of dolomite stone often decorated with different messages by students — has since been repainted with the word “Love,” according to a photo shared by Student Body President Ovi Kabir on Saturday.

“Signs of hate & bigotry have no place on our Rock or our campus,” Kabir wrote on social media. “Attempts to divide our community have & will always fall short because as Vols, we stand undivided against injustice.”

Jewish students ‘take a knee’ during Hatikva in support of Palestinians

Two Grade 9 students at the United Herzlia Middle School in Cape Town, South Africa “took a knee” in solidarity with Palestinians while Hatikva was sung during an award ceremony last week, and were disciplined by the school for their protest.

“Taking a knee,” meaning to kneel on one knee during the playing of the national anthem, was adopted in 2016 by NFL football star Colin Kaepernick in protest against police brutality against African-Americans. Some Americans perceived the athlete’s protest during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner as being disrespectful to the national anthem, armed service personnel and veterans.

In a letter sent to parents of all pupils at the school, United Herzlia director of education Geoff Cohen said, “The boys’ inappropriate kneeling action demonstrated deliberate and flagrant disregard for the ethos of the school,” and publicly embarrassed United Herzlia and those who were present.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Cohen said that while the two students kneeled in protest against Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, the boys were “Zionist in essence,” but had concerns with the current government.

Asked if the school was punishing them for expressing their political stance, Cohen said that the pupils were “entitled to their opinions” and that the school “encourages debate and always encourages kids to question.”

“We encourage kids to protests and debate but not to publicly embarrass the school in front of their peers, teachers and dignitaries who were present,” said Cohen.

NGO threatens Facebook with lawsuit over Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV account

Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin has placed Facebook and its Israeli branch under formal legal notice for allowing Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV to maintain Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Israel General Manager Adi Soffer-Teeri, Shurat HaDin claims that Facebook’s continual support of Al-Aqsa TV violates US law. Shurat HaDin shared the letter with the media.

Because the state-owned TV channel in Gaza is run by Hamas, Facebook’s maintenance of its account is comparable to providing the organization with support and resources, the letter alleges.

“This conduct is particularly egregious in light of the barrages of deadly missile and mortar attacks the Hamas has launched against Israeli civilians and residential centres in the last 24 hours,” writes Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

This is not the NGO’s first run-in with Facebook. Shurat HaDin sued the social media network in 2015, claiming that it incited violent attacks against Israelis by allowing anti-Israel content on its platform. The NGO created two Facebook pages, one anti-Arab and one anti-Israel with similar content to test Facebook’s guidelines. At first, just the anti-Israel page was taken down.

House Antisemitism Task Force Praises Unanimous Passage of Condemnation of Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre

The House of Representatives Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism praised the passage on Wednesday of a bipartisan resolution denouncing the Oct. 27 massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a white supremacist gunman.

The resolution was initiated by Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), who represents the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place. It was written for the purpose of “condemning the anti-Semitic attack on the building housing three congregations, Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light, honoring the memory of the victims of the attack, and offering condolences to and expressing support for their families, friends, and community.”

On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the task force — Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) — said in a statement, “We are glad to see this resolution pass the House unanimously, which reaffirms the House’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms here at home and around the world. Just yesterday, the FBI released its 2017 hate crime statistics, showing a 37 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. from 2016. We will carry the memory of those lost in the Tree of Life synagogue building attack, the deadliest anti-Semitic incident in U.S. history, and work to ensure that all Americans are free to worship in peace and security.”

Man yells ‘Heil Hitler’ during ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Baltimore

The audience at a performance of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday evening was shaken when a man reportedly shouted “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” before being escorted out of the theater.

According to The Baltimore Sun, people started running in the theater, fearing that the outburst was the beginning of a shooting.

Rich Scheer, a writer in the Baltimore area, posted a video on social media showing audience members stunned after the incident.

“Sick, sad world, Scheer wrote on Twitter. “A man stands at intermission of tonight’s performance of Fiddler in Baltimore and yells, ‘Heil Hitler,’ along with pro-Trump references.”

According to the Sun, the man was escorted out of the theater several minutes later and the show continued.

WARMINGTON: Trudeau silent about attack on Jewish teens

The right to remain silent was likely never intended to apply to the prime minister after an alleged anti-Semitic hate attack in the heart of a Jewish neighbourhood in Toronto.

This silence from the very top is difficult to not notice.

Some are expressing concern about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lack of condemnation, or even comment, on the horrific alleged hate attack on four Hasidic teenage boys who were hit with fists, boots and racial slurs, which included being told “Hitler is coming back.”

The Nov. 11 attack, near Fairholme Ave. and Bathurst St., has upset some who have strongly spoken out against such an inhumanity against four young men — two of which are Americans visiting Canada from the United States to attend the special Yeshiva school to study Hebrew and the Torah.

Federal Conservative and Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted Tuesday: “Troubling to hear of the attack on Jewish teens in Toronto. Anti-Semitism will never be tolerated and I hope the culprits of this hate crime will be swiftly brought to justice.” (h/t MtTB)

Toronto Police don’t describe suspects in gang attack on Jewish teens

On last night’s episode of The Ezra Levant Show, I reported on a group of religious Jews being attacked by a pack of teenagers while they were walking down a street in Toronto.

Now the first thing I noticed when I read the Toronto Police Services press release was, they didn’t describe the suspects, even though they have one suspect in custody; and they said that there were four victims, who surely and obviously saw them.

And even if they couldn’t describe them precisely, they could surely know a few things — were they male or female? Were they also Jewish? Were they Muslim? White supremacists or something — that’s what the media tells us to be on the lookout for.

Photo of Hitler Embracing Child of Jewish Descent Auctioned for $11,520

Maryland auction house Alexander Historical Auctions on Wednesday sold for $11,520 a photo showing Nazi madman Adolf Hitler with his arm embracing a young, blonde girl named Bernile Nienau whose grandmother was Jewish.

The photograph shows Hitler and Nienau, then about five or six, at the Berghof, Adolf Hitler’s home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. The two were celebrating their common birthday – April 20th.

The photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, took a number of photos that day showing Hitler with the young girl, and they became favorites of Hitler, Hoffmann, and the German public. The signed photograph auctioned yesterday has been further embellished with the addition of nine edelweiss flowers and a four-leaf clover which were applied to the photo by little Bernile.

Rosa Bernile Nienau (1926–1943), called both “Bernile” and “Rosa” by Hitler, became known as “the Führer’s child” or “sweetheart” because of her close contact with the mass murderer. Soon after their introduction, it was discovered that the girl was one-quarter Jewish, but Hitler refused to sever his relationship with her until years later.

Tel Aviv, Northwestern universities set up joint nanotechnology program

Researchers and students in the field of nanotechnology will work together on projects and benefit from research grants as part of a new joint venture between Illinois, US-based Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University.

The new partnership will see two researchers from each university getting post-doctoral fellowships supporting two years of research at the partner institution. The fellowships, which cover approximately 75 percent of the total cost of the research, were paid for with funding provided by philanthropist and businessman Roman Abramovich. The respective hosting laboratories will provide for remaining expenses.

The new joint Northwestern-TAU venture also includes a student exchange program, which will allow three graduate students from each institution to study at the partner university.

The new nanotech collaboration will also offer up to two research grants a year to support pilot projects that have a commercial potential. TAU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology will together select the winning projects, which will get funding to cover the costs involved with completing the proof of concept of the project.

Defense contractor Elbit wins $167 million contract with an Asia-Pacific country

Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd. said Wednesday it has won a $167 million contract from an Asia-Pacific country to supply it with a comprehensive aerial intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) solution.

The contract will be fulfilled over a 20-month period, the company said in a statement.

Elbit is “witnessing a growing demand” for the comprehensive unmanned aerial system (UAS)-based ISTAR solutions it offers, “as customers increasingly seek wider capabilities in order to effectively and efficiently respond to a broadening range of operational needs,” said Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, Elbit Systems President & CEO in a statement.

He said Elbit’s range of products offered in this area is “is aligned with this developing trend.”

Elbit is a tech firm that develops a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial systems that are sold globally. The firm, whose shares are listed in Tel Aviv and on the Nasdaq, operates in the fields of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems, among others.

Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service to be Introduced in Israel by Volkswagen, Mobileye in 2019

Self-driving cars in the Holy Land may hit the roads as early as 2019, as three major players announced plans to develop Israel’s first ride-hailing service using Level 4 autonomous vehicles.

The proposal from Volkswagen Group, Intel subsidiary Mobileye and Champion Motors was accepted during the recent Smart Mobility Summit in Tel Aviv.

The New Mobility in Israel joint venture calls for Volkswagen to provide the electric cars, Mobileye to bring the self-driving smarts and Champion Motors (which represents Volkswagen in Israel) to run the fleet operations and control center.

The “Mobility-as-a-Service” (MaaS) initiative takes advantage of Israel’s relatively small geographic size and closed borders to make it a global test site.

Electric car startup Better Place had the same idea but went bankrupt in 2013 before its country-wide beta could demonstrate the viability of its battery swap business model.

Unlike Better Place, however, the new self-driving ride-hailing service has a commitment from the Israeli government for legal and regulatory support, the sharing of required infrastructure and traffic data, and access to infrastructure. These could be applied to other ventures that wish to operate a MaaS in Israel, the group says.

Criticism of Adelson Medal ‘Ridiculous,’ Supporters Say

Media outlets and liberal commentators have met President Donald Trump’s pick of Miriam Adelson, wife of Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson, to receive the White House Medal of Freedom with indignation, attacking the prominent philanthropic family as a poor choice for such a prominent honor.

But many of these same media outlets and political prognosticators remained silent as former President Barack Obama bestowed the same honor on a cadre of his liberal celebrity friends and donors, including Ellen DeGeneres, a television host known for dancing, actor Robert DeNiro, an actor who wants to punch President Trump in the face, and singer Barbra Streisand, among other notables.

The attacks on Miriam Adelson have waded into anti-Semitic waters as some criticize the wealthy Jewish family for its political donations to Republicans across the country. However, Adelson, a physician and active Jewish philanthropist, has spent decades working for charitable causes that have benefited the lives of many.

The attacks on Adelson, according to sources close to the White House and elsewhere, are politically motivated and highlight a concerning double standard in the media between the actions of Obama and those of Trump, these sources say.

In fact, nearly all of Miriam Adelson’s philanthropic work is non-partisan and focused on aiding the medically ill and pro-Israel organizations across America, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of the prominent family’s non-profit activity.

Jewish state appoints Christian envoy to Muslim country

The Foreign Ministry announced the appointment of George Deek as Israel’s next Ambassador to Azerbaijan on Thursday, making him Israel’s first ever Christian Arab ambassador.

Deek, a highly acclaimed diplomat, is currently a senior adviser to Director-General Yuval Rotem.

Deek joined the ministry in 2008, and served as deputy head of mission at Israel’s embassy in Norway from 2012 to 2015, and as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Nigeria from 2009-2012.

“We are proud of his appointment, which perfectly symbolizes the integration of Israelis from different backgrounds in the representation of the state,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country, is extremely important for Israel, as it sits on Iran’s border and supplies some 40% of Israel’s oil. It also is one of Israel’s largest arms markets.

Deek is not Israel’s first Arab ambassador – that distinction went to Ali Yahya, who was appointed Ambassador to Finland in 1995, and also served as Israel’s envoy to Greece.

London Jewish cab owners donate taxis to Holocaust rescuers in Poland

Three Jewish taxi operators from London have donated cabs to be used for chauffeuring around Poles who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust.

Farley Freedman, Asher Moses and Howard Kott provided two of their city’s characteristic black cabs to From the Depths, a Poland-based Holocaust-commemoration organization ahead of their transport to Poland next month.

“It’s our way of helping them,” Freedman told the The Jewish News of London, which on Wednesday published an article about the initiative. “These people were so good for us and this is us trying to be good for them. A lot of them are elderly now and struggle to get around, so we hope it helps.”

In Warsaw alone, dozens recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Israel live in the sprawling metropolis, where taxis can be unaffordable to elderly people with monthly state-issued pensions of no more than a few hundred dollars.

“These cabs are coming to the end of their life in London and can’t be used here anymore, but they’re perfectly good to use elsewhere,” said Freedman, who became involved after a chance encounter with Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, The Jewish News reported.

Daniels had offered to buy the taxis, but Freedman, Moses and Kott decided they wanted to donate them instead, the report said.

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