International Court prosecutor reaffirms she won’t open Gaza flotilla probe
The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Thursday she is standing by her previous decision not to open a full-scale investigation into the storming by Israeli forces of a blockade-busting flotilla heading to the Gaza Strip in 2010.
Fatou Bensouda in November 2014 declined a request by the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros to investigate the May 31, 2010, storming of a vessel in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag.
She said war crimes may have been committed on the Mavi Marmara ship, where eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded in a melee after they attacked Israeli commandos who boarded the ship, but the case wasn’t serious enough to merit an ICC probe. A ninth Turkish man who was seriously injured died four years later.
The ICC was set up as a court of last resort intended to prosecute senior leaders allegedly responsible for grave crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when national courts prove unable or unwilling to take on such cases.
ICC judges told her to reconsider, but Bensouda said Thursday that after carefully reviewing more than 5,000 pages of documents and statements from more than 300 passengers on the Mavi Marmara she has reaffirmed her decision to close her preliminary investigation.
Bensouda said in a statement that her decision was a purely legal one, applying standards laid down in the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute.
Zionism is not a monolith. It doesn’t mean you have to support a particular political party. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the Israeli government does. It doesn’t mean you have to hate Muslims or convert to Judaism. It doesn’t mean you cannot support a two-state solution, or the Palestinian right to self-determination. It just means that you support an indigenous people’s right to self-determination in their historical homeland. And that is an inherently progressive belief.
Progressivism has a rich history of Zionism. Many civil rights and gay rights activists of the past have been Zionists. A few you may recognize are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and black, gay advocate Bayard Rustin. None of them were Jewish, but they recognized the importance of standing with other people in support of their liberation. The NAACP and the Zionist Organization of America used to have representatives sit on each other’s boards. And contrary to recent claims, feminism and Zionism are not mutually exclusive; feminist giants like Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” and Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who won Roe v. Wade, were ardent Zionists.
At the heart of progressivism is the concept of intersectionality, that our many identities intersect and affect our treatment by society. Increasingly, the progressive movement can exclude Jews from that conversation in the name of anti-Zionism. For example, my friend Laurie was kicked out of the Chicago Dyke March this summer for carrying a rainbow flag bearing the Star of David. According to what she was told, the flag was considered “a symbol of oppression.” Zionist feminists were deliberately obstructed when they tried to march in SlutWalk this year. It seems that Jews are only welcome in progressive circles if they disavow their homeland. In the words of Friedan, “All human rights are indivisible,” and therefore, applying a double standard “solely to the self-determination of the Jewish people” is wrong.
Zionism is not a dirty word. Supporting the liberation of one group does not mean supporting the oppression of others. Progressivism is not a zero-sum game. It is about raising up all peoples and creating a world that respects diversity and human rights. Zionism is and always has been essential to that goal.
Much has been written about the historical marginalization of the 900,000 Jews expelled from Arab states in the wake of the 1948 War. Few know that the June 1967 War played a similar role in accelerating the final demise of these historic communities. It is high time the international community rectified this longstanding injustice by ensuring that these refugees are fully compensated for their suffering and stolen property.
Fifty years after the June 1967 War, the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem released scores of classified files related to this historic event. While most deal with the war and the events that led to its outbreak, some address the predicament of the Jewish communities in the Arab states during and after the war. The picture that emerges is one of pogroms and persecution, at times orchestrated by the government, at times through spontaneous eruptions that occurred with the tacit support of the authorities.
This maltreatment occurred in almost all Arab states, though the level of violence differed. In Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon, for example, the authorities protected the Jews from the rampaging mobs, while in Syria and Yemen, there were isolated attacks on Jews. The most severe persecutions occurred in Libya, Egypt, and Iraq. Israel refrained from any direct public action so as not to give credence to the depiction of these Jewish communities as fifth columns serving the Jewish state’s interests. Covertly, however, through its Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Brussels, Ankara, and Lisbon embassies, the Israeli Foreign Ministry acted on behalf of these communities.
Sometimes, when considering the past, it is tempting to indulge in a “what if” thought experiment. 2017 is a year of milestones in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is 50 years since the 6-Day War, 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, which was the British Government’s statement of support for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland, and, on 29 November, 70 years since the UN General Assembly, New Zealand included, passed the Partition Plan.
This anniversary, off the back of those other anniversaries, is a timely prompt to think about what might have been, had things turned out differently.
Resolution 181 (II), better known as the Partition Plan, was the UN’s proposal to divide British Mandate Palestine, a remnant of the Ottoman Empire, into a Jewish national homeland and a state for the local Arab population.
The Jews accepted the Partition Plan, although it was far short of what they hoped for, declaring independence the next year. Had the Arabs accepted, they would have had yet another state in the land of the fallen Empire, alongside the newly created states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. But they rejected it, choosing instead to attack the nascent Jewish state in the hope of wiping her off the map, before cartographers even had a chance to draw her on.
29 November 1947 was not the first time that the Arabs had rejected a two state solution, nor would it be the last. But it was that day that led to the rebirth of the Jewish homeland, with the imprimatur of the UN. It was, without doubt, a momentous milestone, a miracle for the Jewish people, and a miserable mistake for the Arabs.
But what might have been had the Arabs accepted the offer? What if the Palestinian Arabs, had, over the last 70 years, invested all their time, money, energy and emotion, into building a flourishing state, rather than destroying one?
What if, rather than pioneering and exporting suicide bombings and vehicular rammings, they pioneered and exported life-saving medical treatments and advances?
In a remarkable open letter, Ethiopian-Jewish Knesset Member Dr. Avraham Neguise eloquently refuted anti-Israel claims made by Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla during his recent visit to the Palestinian territories.
Mandla Mandela used strong rhetoric against Israel during his trip, calling it the “worst apartheid regime.”
In response, MK Neguise, who is Chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, and the Knesset Caucus for Relations Between Israel and African Countries, penned an open letter to Mandela published in the Times of Israel, saying that Mandela’s grandfather “was a man who always listened, even to his opponents, and fought hard for dialogue and understanding. It appears that you have not inherited these vital qualities.”
During his trip, Neguise said, Mandela “became a tool in a hate campaign, a campaign that seeks to suppress the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in our historic, ancestral and indigenous homeland.” (h/t Cliff)
Dear Mandla Mandela, your grandfather Nelson Mandela was a man who always listened, even to his opponents, and fought hard for dialogue and understanding. It appears that you have not inherited these vital qualities. In recent comments during your visit to the Palestinian Authority, you claimed that Israel is the “worst version of Apartheid.”
You made no attempt on this visit to meet with any Israeli official, organization or individual. If you had, you would have found that Israel is actually the opposite of Apartheid, it is a story of liberation, emancipation and anti-colonization.
Unfortunately, even while continually extending our hand in peace and friendship to those whose ancestors came to our region as an occupying and colonizing force, our opponents and enemies continue to seek our destruction.
The Jewish people were the colonized, not the colonizers; the indigenous, not the occupiers; and the liberators and not the conquerors of this land.
Comparing Israel – a nation that took in more refugees per capita than any nation in history, and where people of any religion, ethnicity and background can reach every level of office – to Apartheid dishonors your grandfather’s legacy.
I invite you personally to visit Israel, to see for yourself how hopelessly far from reality is the image you are perpetrating, and hear, perhaps for the first time, the story of a people, who, like yours, successfully threw off oppressive foreign colonialism and strove towards national liberation in their historic, ancestral and indigenous homeland.
The New School in New York City hosted a panel on antisemitism on Tuesday featuring an assortment of anti-Zionist speakers, despite intense backlash from antisemitism watchdogs and advocacy groups.
Titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice,” the forum featured a variety of speakers who have been highly critical of Jewish rights to self-determination — including activists from the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace and, most controversially, Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour, who has claimed that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.”
Speaking before a sold-out audience about the backlash she received for her participation on a panel about antisemitism — including from the Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center, the editorial boards of the New York Post and Jerusalem Post, and a petition signed by over 20,000 people — Sarsour dryly remarked, “Apparently I am the biggest problem for the Jewish community. I am the existential threat, apparently. I am confused, literally, every day.”
Sarsour claimed that she has “always been an ally to Jewish communities” and urged audience members to recognize the importance of intersectionality in confronting antisemitism, saying, “we cannot dismantle anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, every phobia and -ism without also dismantling antisemitism.”
She then took the opportunity to emphasize her “unapologetically Palestinian-American” and “unapologetically Muslim-American” identity, and described herself as “a very staunch supporter of the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement” — whose top leaders have repeatedly asserted that Israel has no right to exist.
Audience members greeted Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour with loud applause at an event here that in recent weeks became a rallying cry for both critics and defenders of Israel.
Sarsour, a leading feminist as well as pro-Palestinian advocate, was the best-known speaker on a panel on anti-Semitism held Tuesday at the New School. Billed as a discussion of anti-Semitism on the right and left, the panel was denounced by pro-Israel critics who have accused Sarsour and other panelists of anti-Semitism and charged that the event was meant to obscure the anti-Semitism they see lurking among far-left critics of Israel.
A crowd of 400 attended the panel, whose organizers included the New School’s journalism program, Jewish Voice for Peace, Haymarket Books, Jacobin Magazine and Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, or JFREJ.
Outside the auditorium in Lower Manhattan, 50 protesters gathered behind metal barricades waving Israeli flags. Among them were members of the far-right Jewish Defense League, once deemed a terrorist organization by the FBI.
Larger Jewish groups also weighed in as the event neared.
“These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from the perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it,” the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, wrote earlier this month.
The Zionist Organization of America called Sarsour an “Israel-bashing, Jew-hater” in a statement denouncing the event.
Islamic activist Linda Sarsour spoke at an event on anti-Semitism on Tuesday night and blamed the “Jewish media” for painting her as the “existential threat” to the Jewish community.
The event, hosted by the New School in New York City, came under intense criticism for its organizers’ decision to invite speakers that had strong ties to anti-Semitic figures, Fox News reported.
Jonathan Greenblatt, who serves as the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, expressed his shock over the school’s decision before the event.
“Having Linda Sarsour & head of (Jewish Voice for Peace) leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism,” Greenblatt tweeted. “These panelists know the issue — but unfortunately from perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it.”
During the event, Sarsour blamed the “Jewish media” for portraying her and Louis Farrakhan as threats to the Jewish community.
According to The New York Times, who called Farrakhan an unapologetic racist, Farrakhan warned the Jews that “When it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!” The Times also noted that Farrakhan praised Hitler as “a very great man” on national television.
Linda Sarsour attacks the “Jewish media” at an event on anti-Semitism. pic.twitter.com/zjumYIXwKW
— Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) November 29, 2017
The offensive panel discussion on antisemitism featurig some well-known haters I posted about a few weeks ago took place yesterday.
And it was what you would expect, given the rogue’s galley of speakers.
“Rabbi” Alissa Wise went on at length about critics of this ridiculous and offensive panel, not only demonizing them as “pro-occupation” and “deeply Islamophobic”, but suggesting they may disrupt proceedings (conveniently ignoring fact that it are people on her side of the aisle who specialize in such disruptions)
Linda Sarsour was true to form, boasting she is considered the “biggest problem for the Jewish community.” She spoke proudly of being pro BDS, and repeated the exact lies I pointed out here – that Zionists are not involved in social justice movements, and that she does not turn up stating she is a palestinian, but rather only mentions it after she is asked.
But in perhaps her worst gaffe, she lets her own inner antisemite out by referring to the “Jewish media” (while minimizing the antisemitism of Louis Farrakhan)
Last year, Lebanon banned the Wonder Woman movie because its star, Gal Gadot, had served in the Israeli forces under the country’s national service. Gadot’s two years of service coincided with the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, one of many wars and conflicts the bitter rivals have been involved in over the decades.
The campaign by BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists was based around the statement that the presence of an Israeli lead amounts to normalisation of an enemy state. And they didn’t mean Themyscira. The campaign in 2016 was successful against Wonder Woman in a way that it wasn’t when fought against Batman V Superman in 2014, due to the more prominent presence of Gal Gadot in the second film.
The campaign began again against Justice League, planned to open this week in Lebanon.
With Justice League, also starring Gal Gadot in the same role, opening in local cinemas on Thursday, the activists want the government to do the same. Activist Pierre Abi Saab has accused the promoters of the film of ignoring Lebanese laws that he said outlaw all forms of normalisation of ties with Israel, saying “We thought the debate had been settled five months ago but we are now back to square one,” he wrote, in reference to the controversy at the time surrounding Wonder Woman and called on the country’s interior minister to pull the movie from cinema screens. While a local Lebanese newspaper has run a conspiracy therory that Gadot was a Mossad spy who seduced Ziad Itani, a local actor arrested for collaborating with Israel.
It has now been reported that this campaign has been successful and that, yes, Justice League has been banned in Lebanon. For Warner Bros, this would have been a small blip on the worldwide box-office figures, but on a local level, this has a major impact.
Yet another Labour Party member accused of anti-Semitism has been suspended, Guido can report. Last night a Labour councillor posted an alarming thread detailing anti-Semitic posts by an unnamed party member. In response to the revelations, Guido can reveal Labour has tonight suspended a Hendon CLP member called Laura Stuart, who also uses the alias Laura McDonald. Labour is investigating these grim anti-Semitic posts apparently made on her Facebook page:
Stuart has been identified by multiple sources as having a hand in the @gazaboatconvoy twitter account. The notorious account, which some say is run by more than one individual, has posted a string of anti-Semitic tweets:
A 2010 tweet associates Stuart with the account:
This article under Stuart’s byline on the website ‘5PillarsUK’ also links to the account and describes it as hers.
Stuart was arrested in a dawn raid by police and quizzed over her social media posts:
“My arrest took place on the 5th November 2015… The accusation on the bail form was that I shared media that could promote terrorism.”
Stand With Us: Hatem Bazian’s Antisemitism
The Marxist-Leninist Party in Germany filed a lawsuit against the Deutsche Bank and the Postbank on Wednesday in the West German city of Essen, claiming the closure of the party’s bank accounts is an illegal political boycott.
According to a statement on the Marxist party’s website, the termination of its accounts violates both the “law’s protected economic freedom of activity” and “constitutional guaranteed rights as a political party.”
The Marxist-Leninists believe that the banks shut down their accounts due to The Jerusalem Post’s media coverage of the party’s finances in connnection to BDS activity and alleged Palestinian terror finance.
“These [closures] apparently originate from ultra-right defenders of the imperialistic policies of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu as well as reactionary US government authorities and investments funds. And was implemented by Deutsche Bank, ” said the Marxist party in a statement.
The Post reported in late September that the office of the New York state comptroller launched a probe into the Deutsche Bank’s financial business with the Marxist party. New York state has a robust anti-boycott law shielding Israel from economic assaults and boycotts. Deutsche Bank is an investor in the $200 million New York Credit Small Business Investment Company that is part of “New York’s $184.5 billion state pension fund, the third-largest public pension fund in the country,” the Comptroller’s Office said in 2015.
Deutsche Bank’s operation of the Marxist Leninist Party’s accounts raises questions about whether the bank violated the state of New York’s anti-BDS executive order that bars pension business with companies that are engaged in BDS activity.
One of the PFLP’s key members, the Palestinian hijacker and terrorist Leila Khaled, delivered pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) speeches across Europe in 2016 targeting Israel.
Daniel Pipes to student: “criticism is free speech” (h/t Max Mendelbaum)
I blurred the student’s face because I don’t wish to target a private individual for something legitimate they’ve done 12 years ago (read the comment section if you’re interested to understand). Capitalists, individualists, free-thinkers, you who are sick of both the left and the right and are looking for something different – support Yaron Brook on YouTube and Patreon.
What makes an editor leave in a comment such as “Jewish people are good with money”? And what makes the main presenter not pick up such a comment?
This was the scenario in Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways shown on Channel 5 on Monday night when Tarrant visited Jordan and Israel. In Jordan he travelled the route of the now defunct Hejaz Railway and visited Petra.
As he entered Israel Tarrant’s mood became inexplicably darker. This was his first visit and in response to a sign stating “Welcome to Israel” he asked “Am I welcome?”
He said there’s more money in Israel and, thus, better railways than Jordan and explained Zionism in terms of the spiritual home of Jews for thousands of years. But he described the railways as helping to bring thousands of “settlers” into Israel when referring to those Jews.
Tarrant described railways as the centre of tensions between Arabs and Jews dating back to the “second Arab revolt” (1936 to 1939). He described that revolt being due to Arab frustration at the influx of Jews.
The US Jewish community is more secure than it was a decade ago but must brace for new challenges, according to the officials who oversee communal security.
These include lone wolves weaponizing easy-to-access items like cars; increasingly disruptive protests on campuses; the persistence of attackers inspired by radical Islamism; and the boldness of the extreme right wing in the wake of the electoral successes of its perceived allies.
Next week, a new person will be in charge of running the network that oversees the community’s security needs.
Michael Masters takes over as head of the Secure Community Network, which is affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“Events such as those in Charlottesville – with people carrying tiki torches and shouting ‘Jews will not replace us,’ conjuring images reminiscent of both Nazi torchlight parades and Ku Klux Klan ceremonies – to the use of social media to spread anti-Semitic theories and harass Jewish individuals and organizations, do present new challenges with respect to the security of the Jewish community,” Masters said.
Jews were the most targeted minority group for hate crimes in Canada in 2016, according to data released by Statistics Canada, the country’s main numbers-keeper.
According to “Police-Reported Hate Crime, 2016,” released Tuesday, Jews were victimized 221 times, up from 178 the previous year, a rise of more than 20 percent. Blacks were next at 214 incidents and those victimized due to sexual orientation, 176.
Jews also were the most targeted religious group, followed by Catholics and Muslims, despite perceptions of a rise in Islamophobia. Hate crimes against Muslims and Catholics declined in 2016 compared to the previous year.
Police reported a total of 1,409 hate crimes in Canada in 2016, 47 more than in 2015.
“While Canada remains one of the best countries in the world to be a minority, anti-Semitism and hate in all forms persist in the margins of society,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
“We are alarmed by the overall increase in hate crime, the increasingly violent nature of these crimes, and the spike in incidents targeting the Jewish community,” he said.
Toronto police are investigating a video that shows music being played at this summer’s Al Quds Day rally at Queen’s Park that calls for Jews to be stabbed, attacked and beheaded.
The video shows signs scattered on ground, men in reflective vests standing and walking around the grounds and, in the background, a song plays glorifying violence against Jews.
The translated lyrics to the song, Declare It A Popular Revolution, in part say “With a Palestinian woman (armed with a knife) we defeated them”… “fill (the bottle) to the top with gasoline, and snatch from him the M-16”…“stab whoever you see, five, six, ten, twelve.”
“Declare a popular revolution,” the lyrics continue… “Make us happy with bombing the bus” and then “cut off (their heads), stab (them), run over (them), launch an attack on them.”
Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash confirmed “officers met with the complainants yesterday (Tuesday) and now the matter will be investigated.”
Yousef al-Kuwari, the Chairman of the registered charity, Qatar Charity UK, now renamed the Nectar Trust, reportedly founded a website, Islamweb, which allegedly called on readers to “hate [Jews and Christians] for the sake of Allah.”
According to The Telegraph, Islamweb issued edicts stating that it is “forbidden” to swear an oath to gain British citizenship. In June, it reportedly warned of Jews and Christians: “It is incumbent to hate them for the sake of Allah.”
Between 1998 and 2010, fatwas were reportedly posted on the website including calls on all citizens to “wage jihad by every means against the Zionist occupation and aggression” and stating that “living in non-Muslim countries is forbidden except for a dire need”.
The Mayfair-based Qatar Charity UK, which claims “To relieve poverty and provide assistance to the needy in all parts of the world affected by war, natural disasters or catastrophes,” is the British arm of Qatar Charity, a Doha charity which has reportedly been designated a proscribed organisation by neighbouring Gulf states. According to the Companies House database, the UK’s registrar of companies, on 23rd October, Qatar Charity UK changed its company name to become the Nectar Trust. Mr al-Kuwari is one of only four trustees. The charity’s website is no longer active.
A Florida man will be hospitalized in federal custody for psychiatric treatment and likely serve 25 years in prison for plotting to bomb a synagogue and Jewish school center during Passover last year, a judge ruled Tuesday.
James Medina, 41, pleaded guilty this year to a religious hate crime and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which was actually a fake bomb provided by an FBI informant. He could have received life in prison – 40 years – but prosecutors and Medina’s attorney worked out an agreement that was accepted by U.S. District Judge Robert Scola.
Defense lawyer Hector Dopico said at a hearing that serious mental illness, in addition to brain damage from a 2007 car accident, were the main factors behind Medina’s plot to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. FBI recordings showed that Medina, a Muslim convert, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group and said he had an obligation to attack Jews in the U.S.
“This is one of those heartbreaking cases where there was an organic cause for the criminality,” Dopico said.
In brief remarks to the judge, Medina said he needed help for his illnesses and that he made a huge mistake by going forward with the Jewish center plot.
Groups representing Holocaust survivors have asked Poland’s president to explain why artists were allowed to film a naked game of tag (warning: graphic images) inside a gas chamber in the former Nazi death camp of Stutthof.
On Wednesday, the Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and several other groups sent the request for clarification to President Andrzej Duda in connection with a video that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow displayed in 2015 without divulging any details on where it was filmed. The letter was sent after research revealed the location was Stutthof, near Gdansk, Poland.
“At the time, no comment or word of critique was heard from Polish official sources regarding the video, neither from the Prime Minister’s office, nor from any official/ government representative- not Poland’s Ministry of Culture or Foreign Ministry, or from Krakow’s city mayor,” the statement said.
“Extensive research recently revealed that the site where the video was filmed is the gas chamber at the Stutthof concentration camp, and it is this discovery which prompted the demand for clarifications from the Polish leaders and the administration of the Stutthof concentration camp site (and museum),” it said.
The Metropolitan Police Service is seeking help from members of the public to determine when a shocking trail of antisemitic graffiti was daubed along 400 metres of the canal towpath between Kensal Green and Wormwood Scrubs in London.
The graffiti included swastikas, calls for non-Jews to “wake up”, and claims that the Holocaust was a “hoax” and that six million Jews were not murdered.
A local resident, Ben Riddle, came across the graffiti whilst jogging and told Campaign Against Antisemitism that he was shocked at how “brazen” it was, and “how much graffiti had been written”.
Shortly after Mr Riddle found the graffiti, it was discovered by a police patrol which called the local council to remove it. A police investigation has now been opened and police officers would like to hear from anybody who saw the graffiti so that they can narrow down when the vandalism occurred.
The graffiti is along the west side of the Car Giant complex along the canal towpath between Old Oak Lane and Scrubs Lane.
Letters thrown from death trains, tiny children’s shoes, a Nazi gas mask and hundreds of other objects from Auschwitz are going on display in Madrid as a roving exhibition on the Nazi extermination camp opens.
Some will leave the memorial site of the German death camp in Poland for the first time for an exhibition that starts in the Spanish capital on December 1 before heading on a tour that will take in a dozen cities in Europe, America, Asia and Oceania.
Items include inmates’ drawings found in a bottle hidden in the camp, a piece of electrified fence and an original carriage like those used to take Jews, Poles, prisoners of war, gypsies and others to the camp where over 1.1 million people died during World War II.
More than 600 objects will be on display for those who can’t travel to see Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazis’ biggest concentration and extermination camp where hundreds of thousands were killed in the gas chambers or died from starvation, disease and exhaustion before it was liberated 72 years ago.
Chris Watson played four standout years of basketball at Niagara University, where he became one of the upstate New York school’s all-time leading scorers. So when the 6-7 forward-center went undrafted by an NBA team in 1997, he set out to play on a professional level internationally.
He played two years in Uruguay, then his agent called and said, “You’re going to Israel.”
Watson, an African-American from suburban White Plains — who in his own words did not grow up “watching the news” — said at the time he knew “nothing at all” about the Jewish state.
That quickly changed, and Watson stayed in Israel for more than 15 years, playing for several teams. He also married an Israeli woman, became an Israeli citizen and converted to Judaism.
As David A. Goldstein details in his recent book “Alley-Oop to Aliyah: African-American Hoopsters in the Holy Land,” Watson is far from the only black basketball player to do these things.
Since the 1976 arrival of Aulcie Perry — a 6-10 native of Newark, New Jersey, who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to two unexpected EuroLeague championships — more than 800 African-American players have competed in the Israeli Premier League, which formed in 1954 and is composed of the country’s 12 best teams.
It didn’t come easy, but Ringo Starr is finally going to make it to Israel.
Fifty-two years after a proposed concert by The Beatles fell by the wayside in 1966, the one-time lovable mop-top drummer for the Fab Four is finally going to make his debut in the Jewish state, on June 23 and 24 at the Menorah Mivtahim Arena in Tel Aviv.
He will become the second – and final – former Beatle to perform in Israel, after Paul McCartney took the honors with a monumental show at Park Hayarkon in 2008. Ex-bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison died in 1980 and 2001, respectively.
The Israel dates will be part of a 21-date European tour that will include shows in France, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Monaco, Netherlands and Italy, according to Starr’s official website. The last time the All-Starrs toured Europe was in 2011.
Starr’s 13th iteration of his All-Starr Band will feature Men At Work’s Colin Hay, Graham Gouldman of 10cc and longtime members, Toto’s Steve Lukather and Journey’s Gregg Rolie, along with Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette.
Christian support for Israel in South Korea is stronger than ever according to the founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
“I was humbled and grateful to see our friends in South Korea and deeply encouraged to know that their support for Israel and the Jewish people has never been stronger,” Eckstein stated last week after completing his fifth trip to South Korea since 2012.
During Eckstein’s latest “bridge-building trip” to the Korean Peninsula, he met with Christian leaders and church members in the South Korean capital of Seoul, and also visited The Fellowship’s locally based office.
Eckstein met with Christians from Joyous Church, the Sungrak Church, Yeshua Church and Eagle Christian School, who are all strong advocates for Israel and have a combined congregation numbering in the tens of thousands.
According to The Fellowship, around 20 percent of South Korea’s 50 million people are Protestant, and these figures include thousands of Christians who are strong supporters of the Jewish state.
The birds now prefer to stay longer in cooler areas rather than cross into Africa, where encroaching deserts and frequent droughts have made food more scarce.
“In the last few decades Israel has become more than just a short stopover because many more birds and a greater number of species can no longer cross the desert,” said ornithologist Shay Agmon, avian coordinator for the wetlands park of Agamon Hula in northern Israel.
“They will stay here for longer and eventually the whole pattern of migration will change,” he said.
Cranes are one of the most abundant species to visit the Hula wetlands and Agmon said that the number that prefer to stay in Israel until the end of March has risen from less than 1,000 in the 1950s to some 45,000 currently.
Although migrating birds are a welcome attraction for ornithologists and tourists, their hunger for food from crop fields makes them a menace to farmers.
Migrating cranes rest at the Hula Nature Park in northern Israel November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Workers at the lush Hula reserve, which lies in the Syrian-African Rift Valley, have lured the birds from surrounding fields by feeding them at the wetlands site and offering them a far more comfortable existence.
“It’s harder for the birds to cross a much larger desert and they just cannot do it. There is not enough fuel, there are not enough ‘gas stations’ on the way, so Israel has became their biggest ‘gas station,’ their biggest restaurant,” Agmon said. (h/t Zvi)
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