April 4, 2020

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12/05 Link Pt2: Bari Weiss: Inconvenient Murders; Corbyn fans accidentally admit he’s racist; The Tikvah Podcast: Why No One Cares about Violence Directed at the Orthodox


From Ian:

Bari Weiss (published in the NYTs): Inconvenient Murders (free link)
Two years ago, a 27-year-old man named Kobili Traoré walked into the Paris apartment of a 65-year-old kindergarten teacher named Sarah Halimi. Mr. Traoré beat Ms. Halimi and stabbed her. According to witnesses, he called her a demon and a dirty Jew. He shouted, “Allahu akbar,” then threw Ms. Halimi’s battered body out of her third-story apartment window.

This is what Mr. Traoré told prosecutors: “I felt persecuted. When I saw the Torah and a chandelier in her home I felt oppressed. I saw her face transforming.”

One would think that this would be an open-and-shut hate crime. It was the coldblooded murder of a woman in her own home for the sin of being a Jew. But French prosecutors decided to drop murder charges against Mr. Traoré because he … had smoked cannabis.

If France’s betrayal of Sarah Halimi is shocking to you, perhaps you haven’t being paying much attention to what by now can be described as a moral calamity sweeping the West of which her story is only the clearest example. A crisis, I hasten to add, that’s perhaps less known because it has been largely overlooked by the mainstream press.

The most generous read of this enormous blind spot is that the story is not always straightforward; there have been some laudable steps to fight back. On Tuesday, for example, the French Parliament formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism when it passed a motion declaring anti-Zionism a form of Jew-hatred. Yet on the same day, more than 100 Jewish gravestones were found spray-painted with swastikas in a cemetery near Strasbourg — a potent reminder that governments are only as good as the culture and the people upholding them.

So allow me to put it plainly: We are suffering from a widespread social health epidemic and it is rooted in the cheapening of Jewish blood. If hatred of Jews can be justified as a misunderstanding or ignored as a mistake or played down as a slip of the tongue or waved away as “just anti-Zionism,” you can all but guarantee it will be.

The Tikvah Podcast: Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt & Batya Ungar-Sargon on Why No One Cares about Violence Directed at the Orthodox

A Jewish man hit in the face with a brick. An observant woman’s wig pulled off her head. An Orthodox mother and her baby assaulted in the street.

These incidents took place not in 19th-century Russia or pre-war Germany, but in Brooklyn—which has one of the densest Jewish populations in America—in 2019. The recent spike in anti-Semitic attacks in New York against the most visibly Jewish members of our community, the ultra-Orthodox, is a worrying sign in a nation experiencing rising levels of Jew-hatred. Yet the mainstream press and many on the political Left, groups otherwise worried about the supposed rise of racism and bigotry in America, seem blithely unconcerned.

In this podcast, Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver is joined by two Jewish journalists who have given these attacks the attention they deserve. Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt is the life/features editor at the Forward and Batya Ungar-Sargon is the Forward’s opinion editor. Founded in 1897, the Forward has long been a voice of the Jewish Left. Yet among progressives, few have been as honest and clear-eyed as our guests about the ideology that blinds the many on the Left to anti-Semitism directed at the ?aredi community. In this conversation, Chizik-Goldschmidt and Ungar-Sargon discuss the nature of the recent violence in Brooklyn and Monsey, what might be causing it, and why so many in the media have ignored this slow-moving pogrom.

Losing the Semantic War on ‘Palestine’

Referring to the Israel-Palestine conflict also reinforces the idea that the dispute is over land. Often misleadingly described as a fight by two peoples over one land, the reality is more complex, as it involves politics, psychology, history, and religion. In recent years, the Islamization of the conflict has eclipsed other factors, as many Palestinians reject the historical Jewish connection to the land and will not contemplate Jews living on Islamic territory or ruling over Muslims.

The most pernicious aspect of the reference to “Palestine” is to create a false equivalency with the sovereign nation of Israel. Israel is a democracy that shares the values and interests of the West. Palestine does not exist; it may one day in the future, but for now, there is only the Palestinian Authority, which is autocratic, denies its people their basic rights, and does not share the values or interests of the West.

The equation is also a political statement that accepts the position that a Palestinian state already exists. One could argue this is reasonable given that “Palestine” is recognized, according to Wikipedia, by 138 of the 193 member states of the United Nations. That legitimacy is undermined, however, by the fact that the European Union, the United States, and other democracies such as Australia, Japan, Canada, and Mexico do not recognize a Palestinian state.

This usage is another reason for concern about the campus situation. Professors are knowingly presenting their students with this specious formulation, with all the aforementioned implications. Students are ill-equipped to challenge this narrative on the merits and will likely be castigated as anti-Palestinian if they try.

It is unlikely anything could have been done to preempt the shift in language, and now it is yet another genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. The usage is widespread. Still, it is important to point out the bias, inaccuracy, and misleading nature of the word “Palestine” when used in the context of the conflict with Israel.

Corbyn fans accidentally admit he’s racist

How would Labour supporters react if Boris Johnson was responsible for Corbyn’s antisemitism? We went to a left-wing anti-racist protest to find out.

UK’s Corbyn is the ‘politician of choice for anti-Semites,’ new report claims

Jeremy Corbyn is the most popular political leader among Britons who hold anti-Semitic views, a report released this week indicated.

Sixty-seven percent of British adults who say they strongly support the hard-left opposition leader hold at least one anti-Semitic view and 33% hold four or more anti-Semitic views, according to the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) report.

“Jeremy Corbyn is now the politician of choice for anti-Semites,” Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of CAA, said in a press statement.

The CAA study was published as polls appeared to suggest Corbyn’s Labour Party is starting to close the gap on Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Britain’s general election campaign enters its final week.

Corbyn apologized for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party on Tuesday, having repeatedly refused to do so in a BBC interview last week.

New polling released Thursday by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), meanwhile, shows that only 14% of Britons support boycotts of Israel. The Jewish state is also rated the UK’s most important Middle Eastern ally in the fight against terrorism.

BICOM’s poll finds that 45% of British adults believe that it is anti-Semitic to hate Israel and question its right to exist. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know, and 18% disagreed.

Around 5% of UK Labour Party Election Candidates Tainted by Antisemitism, Campaigning Group Says

An organization set up to combat antisemitism in the ranks of the British Labour party said on Wednesday that five percent of the candidates being fielded by the party in next week’s general elections were tainted by allegations of antisemitism.

The group, Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS), published a list of 32 candidates whom, it asserted, “in any normal circumstances arguably would not be standing because of allegations regarding antisemitism.”

Labour’s far-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was among the names listed.

A spokesperson for LAAS said the group had released the list — which it said amounted to “around 5% of all Labour candidates” — in response to Corbyn’s statement about the antisemitism scandals that have plagued Labour since 2015 during a national television interview on Wednesday.

“Obviously I’m very sorry for what has happened,” said the Labour leader, in a comment that UK Jewish groups dismissed as wholly unsatisfactory.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s grudging apology, when it finally arrived, was an inadequate response to widespread concerns that the Labour party he is leading is institutionally antisemitic,” LAAS’s Fiona Sharpe said in a statement listing the names of the contentious Labour candidates.

Read in Full Jewish Labour Movement’s Submission to the Human Rights Commission on Antisemitism in Labour

The Jewish Labour Movement’s closing submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has been leaked in full.

The conclusion – based on testimonies of 70 serving and former Labour party officials – damningly says “The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people”.

100 additional testimonies from party members say they have suffered or witnessed antisemitism at party events. Labour were desperate to change the final election week’s narrative – this might make that difficult…

New York Times Fabricates ‘Fierce Debate’ Among British Jews

While British Jewry is overwhelmingly united around the belief that Jeremy Corbyn has grossly mishandled antisemitism in the Labour Party, The New York Times falsely alleged last week that an unprecedented column by British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis slamming the party leader as “unfit for high office” has “generated fierce debate among British Jews.”
Benjamin Mueller, a Britain correspondent for The Times, reported Nov. 26:
The chief rabbi’s rebuke instantly generated fierce debate among British Jews, with some seeing it as reflecting their fears of Labour and others saying that he did not speak for them. (“U.K. Chief Rabbi Denounces Labour Party on Anti-Semitism“)

The notion that the British Jewry is somehow deeply divided over Rabbi Mirvis’ column is totally unfounded. That Jeremy Corbyn has miserably failed to counter antisemitism in his party is a consensus sentiment among Britain’s Jews. A 2019 Survation poll carried out for the Jewish Leadership Council found that 87 percent view Corbyn himself as antisemitc.

Indeed, Mueller failed to cite any evidence of “fierce debate” because there is none. The only British Jewish source (besides Mirvis) that Mueller actually quoted in his story – on either side of the so-called “debate” – is a statement from an extremely marginal organization founded within the last couple of months in response to the snap elections. Mueller cited Jews Against Boris, a tiny, new fringe group that besides this The New York Times story appears just once in a major world paper in the last five years, according to Lexis-Nexis news database searches. (On Nov. 26, The Guardian mentioned a tweet by this new group, which opened its Twitter account only in October 2019, and which boasts just 1,200 followers).

David Collier: Labour Party Councillor was on Homeland Security watchlist

Corvid announces her arrival
Corvid’s Labour party membership came as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory. My research has exposed many antisemitic extremists, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and other disenfranchised elements of society who jumped into the Labour Party for Jeremy Corbyn. Corvid is another one of those. Corvid openly describes herself as ‘hard-left’ and says she has been a ‘Trotskyist’ since she was sixteen years old, In an early Stateside interview with Galloway she spoke up the value of the ‘red-green alliance’, seeking advice from Galloway about how to create a prosperous alliance in the United States, similar to the one Galloway had created in his far-left Respect Party.

In that interview Corvid openly praised ‘symbolic gestures’ and the ‘cultural currency’ of radical Islamist Iranians handing over the Israeli embassy to the PLO – and their renaming the street of the British Embassy after an IRA terrorist. When she arrived in Scotland, she naturally gravitated towards the Socialist Workers Party.

A councillor On the Homeland Security watchlist
So it is no surprise to learn that authorities in the United States knew of her before she came. In fact Corvid herself, in an on air interview, admits to having been on the ‘Homeland Security‘ watchlist, who in her words, considered her to be a ‘terrorist’. See this clip for evidence of that exchange:

The Plymouth Councillor was on the US watchlist from a department set up ‘to secure the nation from threats’. In Corbyn’s Labour she became a representative of the people. These are the type of people Corbyn has attracted to his Labour Party. This is not a one-off. Yesterday, Investigative Journalist Iggy Ostanin published footage of Jeremy Corbyn advisor Andrew Murray expressing sympathy and solidarity with forces fighting against NATO. Later the same day, footage emerged of Corbyn himself, calling NATO ‘a danger to world peace and a danger to world security’. This is a dangerous anti-western mindset that poses a danger to all of us.

SNP official tasked with investigating candidate who was suspended over antisemitism now resigns herself after calling Israel a “Nazi state”

An SNP official tasked with investigating an SNP candidate recently suspended by the Party over antisemitism has herself been forced to resign after she described israel as a “Nazi state”.

Denise Findlay has resigned from the SNP’s Conduct Committee after it was revealed that she had written on social media: “Israel with its treatment of Palestinians and latest apartheid laws is Nazi. It is not anti-Semitic to call Israel a Nazi state.”

Her tweets date from the summer of 2018, when the Labour Party was debating whether to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, which includes “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” as an example of antisemitism. She tweeted at least five times describing Israel as a Nazi state, sometimes in explicit criticism of the International Definition.

The Conduct Committee is due to investigate candidate Neale Hanvey, who also fell afoul of the International Definition of Antisemitism by comparing Israel to Nazis and was recently dropped by the SNP, although he will still appear on the ballot in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Says He Hopes Corbyn Loses British Elections

Israel‘s foreign minister said on Thursday that he hopes Jeremy Corbyn loses next week’s British elections, citing allegations of antisemitism buffeting the Labour Party leader.

With Israel in political disarray of its own after two inconclusive elections, the British contest has elicited few comments from Israeli leaders despite deep concern among British Jews over Corbyn and media reports that some might opt to emigrate if he wins.

Last week, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said the Israeli government had not discussed the prospect of Corbyn’s election or the future of intelligence and security ties with Britain should the veteran pro-Palestinian campaigner become its leader.

But pressed on the issue in an Army Radio interview on Thursday, Katz was more forthcoming as the Dec. 12 ballot approaches.

“I won’t meddle in internal elections but I personally hope that he won’t be elected, with this whole wave of antisemitism…I hope the other side wins,” he said.

Labour Party spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Few Britons Feel Warmly toward Israel, But See It as an Ally Against Terrorism

19% of Britons feel warmly towards Israel, compared with 21% for the Palestinians, according to the 2019 annual survey of UK public attitudes carried out in November for the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).

46% oppose and 14% support boycotts of Israel.

Israel is considered to be Britain’s most important ally in the fight against terrorism compared to other Middle Eastern countries, named by 44%.

45% agreed that it is anti-Semitic to hate Israel and question its right to exist, 18% disagreed, and 36% did not know.

BBC radio coverage of the Chief Rabbi’s article – part one

BBC radio audiences however heard nothing about JVL’s background and agenda. On ‘The World Tonight’ Ms Manson was introduced (from 13:11 here) as “the co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour” and on ‘Newshour’ – appearing after Mr Katz – she was described (from 34:59 here) as “co-chair of another Jewish Labour group – Jewish Voice for Labour – ahm…which supports Jeremy Corbyn”. [emphasis added]

In other words, listeners to two different BBC radio stations were given the erroneous impression that those interviewees represented two comparable Jewish groups linked to the Labour party and – in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – they were told practically nothing of the obviously relevant issue of the “particular viewpoint” of the fringe group Jewish Voice for Labour.

During the ‘Newshour’ interview with Mike Katz, (from 30:07 here) listeners heard Razia Iqbal twice ask him whether he thought that the Chief Rabbi’s article was the “right thing to do” and when her interviewee pointed out that antisemitism in the Labour party “is not an issue that has suddenly come out of nowhere” Iqbal interrupted him and the following exchange was heard: [emphasis in italics in the original]

BBC radio coverage of the Chief Rabbi’s article – part two

Iqbal made no effort whatsoever to explain to listeners around the world what Manson was referring to with that story or to challenge her inaccurate account. Even Corbyn himself does not deny that he called members of Hamas and Hizballah friends – rather than “everybody there” as claimed by Manson. Iqbal could and should have informed listeners that in the same speech Corbyn spoke about Hamas – an organisation committed to the destruction of Israel under its overtly antisemitic founding charter – as follows:
“The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake…”

Corbyn also clearly expressed his opposition to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their own state: a stance categorised as antisemitism under the IHRA working definition.
“We are opposed to Zionism and what Israel is doing towards the Palestinian people. […] Our argument – and I refuse to be dragged into this stuff that somehow or other because we’re pro-Palestinian we’re anti-Semitic: it’s nonsense. What we’re in favour of is a Palestine where everybody can live. They can’t live if you’ve got Zionism dominating it all.”

Dov Hikind: Can a Jew be an antisemite?

Calling a Jew an antisemite is one of the most difficult things a person who fights antisemitism has to do. Judaism tolerates dissent to a great degree, but arming antisemites with one’s Jewishness is perhaps the greatest and most vile of sins one Jew can commit against another. That’s why Bernie Sanders rightfully deserves to be called an antisemite.

There’s no other way to explain his absolute lovefest with now notorious antisemites like Ilhan “Israel hypnotized the world” Omar and Rashida “the Holocaust gives me a comforting feeling” Tlaib, both of whom have endorsed his candidacy for president. We know he agrees with his socialist comrade Jeremy Corbyn, incidentally also a notorious antisemite, when it comes to being friends with Hamas and funneling them millions of dollars, even though those millions go to rockets that are aimed and fired with the open intention to kill and terrorize millions of Jews.

But what absolutely confirms that Bernie is a self-hating Jew who uses his identity to provide cover to the worst kind of Jew-haters like Linda “don’t humanize Israelis” Sarsour, his proud presidential campaign surrogate, is his lack of reaction to her latest antisemitic tirade.

Washington Post ignores Valerie Plame’s weird anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — but doesn’t she look fabulous?

No one in American politics has it better than the Democrat who is in good standing with the press. You can literally commit manslaughter, and national newsrooms will still lionize you as a hero of the republic.

The latest example of this sort of thing comes from the Washington Post, which published a profile this week of media darling and former CIA operative Valerie Plame. The article, titled “Valerie Plame, America’s most famous ex-spy, finds her new identity,” is big on the glossy details. For example, it notes that the former agent, who is running to replace Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, looks absolutely fabulous for her age.

Yet amazingly, the profile makes no mention of Plame’s repeated promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes on social media. Weird how stuff like that gets lost in the shuffle, isn’t it?

In 2017, Plame, who hopes one day to hold a seat in Congress, shared an article on Twitter titled, “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” Her tweet was met with fierce backlash, to which she responded with defiance and indignation.

Liberals Must Stand Up to College Antisemitism

Five Jewish members of the SFP sent a letter to the college newspaper, declaring the criticism of Karega to be not only racist, but Zionist apologetics. To them, antisemitism was swastikas and explicitly Rothschild conspiracies, and objections to anything short of that were just Zionist deflections. Oberlin alumni denounced Karega, but the Student Senate as well as multiple pro-Palestine student organizations declared that the alumni didn’t understand that students didn’t believe Oberlin had a problem with antisemitism. Students like me, who felt like antisemitism had become a fact of my life on campus, didn’t speak out.

Because of the anti-Israel crowd’s non-engagement policy with Zionist Jews, I met people who called themselves anti-Zionists but couldn’t tell me what anti-Zionism was. They did not know what the blood libel was, how conspiracy theories historically led to antisemitic violence, or even how Israel was founded. They never had to defend their views in a structured setting, so they were never forced to learn about the issues beyond shallow talking points, and the college did not care enough to push them to learn.

Karega and liberal apathy are not unique to college campuses. DC Council member Trayon White, a Democrat, espoused similar conspiracy theories twice in 2018, and no one in the room spoke up when he claimed Jews control the Federal government. These ongoing “shoulder shrugs” at antisemitism have allowed discrimination to flourish on the left and facilitated the rise of antisemitism in our country. If we are to fight it, we have to start by holding our friends, communities, and politicians accountable. We have to push our colleges to educate people about antisemitism, and we cannot tolerate non-engagement policies from any advocacy campaign.

I am tired of crying impotently at the news. I am tired of feeling powerless. The best way to fight antisemitism is to fight it in our communities. Liberals have to try just as hard to educate ourselves and others about antisemitism as we do other forms of discrimination. Most of all, we can no longer excuse or ignore discrimination, no matter how it manifests itself. The only way we will fight the tiki torches is if we choke them at their source, and their source is ignorance and apathy.

88 groups call on DeVos to prevent federal funding of anti-Israel Mideast programs

Some 88 education, civil-rights and religious organizations called on U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday to prevent federal funds from being used by higher-education Middle East Studies programs that support an academic boycott of Israel.

The groups, led by the AMCHA Initiative, cited examples, including a University of Michigan professor who supports boycotting Israel denying to write a letter of recommendation for a student wanting to study at Tel Aviv University; the Pitzer College entire faculty body voting in November to suspend the school’s study-abroad program at the University of Haifa; and New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis passing a resolution of non-cooperation in May with the university’s school in Israel.

“It is of particular concern that more than half the directors of currently Title VI-funded Middle East Studies National Resource Centers (NRCs) have pledged support for an academic boycott of Israel or engaged in boycott-compliant behavior, including attempts to shut down their universities’ study abroad programs in Israel, as have these centers’ affiliated faculty,” stated the letter.

Title VI under the Higher Education Act of 1965 provides federal funds for international-studies and foreign-language centers at U.S. universities.

Arizona State U student government passes resolution to support Jewish students

The undergraduate student government of Arizona State University passed a resolution in support of the Tempe school’s Jewish students.

The resolution, which passed Tuesday by acclimation, comes amid public discussion among campus student organizations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the wake of fliers bearing swastikas and Stars of David circulated on campus, The State Press student newspaper reported.

Last month, four pieces of legislation were submitted to the Undergraduate Student Government Tempe on the topic of the conflict. One called for divestment from companies involved in “human rights abuses,” including a number in Israel.

The resolutions have been postponed over what the student government said were errors in the documents.

The Resolution to Stand With Jewish Students at ASU notes the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes as reported in the FBI’s annual Report on Hate Crimes, as well as the October 2018 attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

BBC News misrepresents French parliament resolution

The resolution passed by the French National Assembly on December 3rd includes the following:
“Considering that it would constitute an effective instrument for combating antisemitism in its modern and renewed form, encompassing manifestations of hatred of the State of Israel justified solely by the perception of Israel as a Jewish community.”

The preceding explanatory statement clarifies:
“…anti-Zionist acts can sometimes obscure antisemitic realities. Criticizing the very existence of Israel as a community of Jewish citizens is tantamount to hatred of the Jewish community as a whole, as holding Jews collectively responsible for the policies of the Israeli political authorities is a manifestation of antisemitism. Such drifts are increasingly making anti-Zionism “one of the contemporary forms of antisemitism,” to use the words of the President of the Republic. To point to such drifts does not prevent any free criticism of the policies and positions taken by Israeli governments.”

The BBC, however, chose to promote a dumbed-down portrayal of the resolution adopted by the lower house of the French parliament that is both inaccurate and misleading. Coming as it does after a series of failed BBC attempts to explain anti-Zionism and antisemitism to its audiences (see some examples in ‘related articles’ below), that lazy and inaccurate portrayal is not particularly surprising.

Auschwitz survivor says he has ‘duty to the dead’ to share horrors of Holocaust

Leon Schwarzbaum is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz — the Nazi death camp that Chancellor Angela Merkel will be visiting for the first time on Friday.

At 98, he says his “duty to the dead” is to bear witness about what happened to him.

“I had the good fortune to survive. My family did not,” Schwarzbaum told AFP in an interview in his elegant apartment on the outskirts of Berlin.

Schwarzbaum was sent to Auschwitz in occupied Poland at the age of 22. His parents were gassed to death on the day they arrived at the camp in July 1943.

In total, 35 members of his family were killed.

Schwarzbaum survived two years in Auschwitz, working as a forced laborer for Siemens, until he was taken away by fleeing Nazi troops as the Allies advanced.

Of the terrifying things he saw, one image of prisoners being driven to the gas chambers has haunted him his whole life.

Descendants of first death march in Chelm retrace families footsteps

Death march. A term many associate with the end of the Holocaust. But, a quite unknown fact is that the first death march happened in December 1939 just months after the Nazi’s had invaded Poland.

On December 1, 1939, the Jews of Chelm were marched 53 km. to Hrubieszów, a town that today sits close to the Ukrainian border.

This week, to commemorate the first death march of the Holocaust, 100 descendants of those who survived this hellish ordeal traced their family’s footsteps.

The five-day trip, which commenced from November 29 to December 3, was organized by the Chelm Veterans Organization.

According to the group’s chairman Benzie Levkovich, the trip was organized because this part of Holocaust history has “simply ‘disappeared’ between history pages.”

Leave the Holocaust out of your self-promotion, political agenda and profit-seeking

Here we go again: Just this week, two more cases of the abuse of Holocaust imagery have surfaced and created an international stir.

In November, Russian figure skater Anton Shulepov wore an Auschwitz-themed costume during his free skating performance at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating event. To compound the offense, the International Skating Union listed it on Sunday as a contender in the best costume category, which is open to voting from the public. After protests, the skating union quickly removed the Shulepov costume from its top list.

That same day, Amazon announced it was removing holiday ornaments that displayed an image of the same Nazi concentration camp on the products from its marketplace.

Unfortunately, Nazi analogies and imagery have been proliferating for some time. For more than a decade, inappropriate and offensive comparisons to the Holocaust have increasingly cropped up in popular culture in the United States. Sports and other celebrities have compared their personal struggles to those of Anne Frank or, at a traumatic time in their lives, make inappropriate comparisons to Hitler or the Holocaust to make a point.

Then there is the use of Nazi analogies to make a political point. Sometimes it’s by pro-life individuals who refer to abortion as worse than the Holocaust. Sometimes it’s by folks on the left who are troubled by Donald Trump’s behavior and refer to him as a second Hitler.

And some, like Shulepov, are simply looking for attention. The use of concentration camp designs, the pinning of the Jewish yellow star and the very word Auschwitz definitely cause people to sit up.

German activists apologize for using ‘ashes of Auschwitz victims’ in protest

An activist group apologized Wednesday to outraged Jewish organizations over an urn placed outside the German parliament that the activists claim holds the remains of Holocaust victims.

The Center for Political Beauty said it hadn’t intended to hurt the feelings of Holocaust survivors and their descendants when it placed the urn in front of the Reichstag building Monday. It said its intention was to highlight the dangers of far-right extremism by showcasing the remains it claims it found near former Nazi death camps.

On Thursday morning, the transparent urn, about the size of an oil drum, was covered with black plastic wrap.

Jewish groups such as the International Auschwitz Committee and Germany’s Central Council of Jews expressed outrage, saying the installation disturbed the peace of the dead.

“Auschwitz survivors are aghast at this installation, which hurts their feelings and the eternal peace of the dead of their murdered relatives,” the International Auschwitz Committee said.

‘You Will Not Erase Our Memory or Our Identity,’ French Rabbi Declares Following Antisemitic Cemetery Desecration

A leading French rabbi declared on Wednesday that the Jewish community would not be intimidated by the desecration with swastikas and other Nazi symbols of 107 graves in a Jewish cemetery in the Alsace region of the country.

“You will not erase our memory or our identity, not with vandalism nor with anything else,” the chief rabbi of the city of Strasbourg, Harold Abraham Weill, stated. “We are here and we will stay here for a very long time.”

Rabbi Weill was speaking as he and other Jewish leaders inspected the damage to the cemetery in Westhoffen — about 25 miles of west of Strasbourg — alongside the visiting French interior minister, Christophe Castaner.

The gravestones were found on Tuesday morning defaced with swastikas. Some were also marked with the number “14” — a tribute to the “14 words,” a racist pledge originally crafted by American white supremacists that has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups around the world. Antisemitic inscriptions were also discovered in the village of Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn, which lies near the cemetery.

Israeli artificial pollination start-up targets California almond market

Israeli agritech start-up Edete Precision Technologies for Agriculture, the developer of an innovative artificial pollination solution, will target the lucrative Californian almond market after announcing the successful completion of local field trials.

Founded in 2016, the Basmat Tivon-based company is behind a unique pollen harvesting and mechanical pollination system, which promises high-quality viable pollen and aims to solve severe agricultural challenges posed by the recent decline in insects and honeybees.

Field trials in Israeli almond orchards were completed successfully, Edete said on Tuesday, substantially increasing crop yields. The company, which has also recently tested its technology in Australian orchards, now aims to commence a pilot program in 2022 in California – the world’s largest almond-producing region.

“We are initially focusing our efforts on almonds, but our game-changing technology has huge potential for a wide range of other crops as well,” said Edete CEO and co-founder Eylam Ran, citing the cultivation of crops including apples, cherries, pears, cotton, rapeseed and sunflowers.

“We will be targeting top tier producers in California, where 7% out of 7,400 growers account for more than half of the cultivated area,” Ran said, adding that the Australian market bears similar characteristics.

Unlike Theranos, startup’s blood test device ‘delivers on promise’ with FDA nod

Israeli startup Sight Diagnostics has received US Food and Drug Administration clearance to market a blood test device that can extract the results of a standard complete blood count test from just a drop of blood in minutes.

The FDA approval was given following clinical trials held at Boston Children’s Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center and TriCore Labs. The nod will allow hospital labs, diagnostic providers and outpatient clinics to use its OLO blood analyzer, Sight said in a statement.

Today, blood samples are taken from patients in medical centers and sent to centralized labs for analysis, in which — depending on the nature of the test requested – they are handled by either automated machines or professional lab technicians. Eventually, results are sent back to the referring physician.

These automated machines are expensive, and the processing of samples in labs is slow, said Yossi Pollack, the co-founder and CEO of Sight Diagnostics, which seeks to improve blood testing methods, earlier this year.

Why Israelis feel at home on this remote Brazilian island

Summer is just around the corner here and the breathtaking beaches of Brazil’s northeastern coast will be packed soon with tourists from around the world. Many of them will be sababas.

A derivative of an Israeli slang word that roughly means “cool,” sababas is how many locals in this picturesque car-free village refer to Israeli backpackers.

“There’s an invasion of Israelis in the summer,” said Miguel Kertzman, president of the Jewish federation in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

Kertzman estimates that some 5,000 Israeli tourists will disembark in Bahia’s capital city of Salvador between December and the Carnival holidays in late February.

“The large majority are youths who have just finished the army and need to have a good rest and just relax,” Kertzman said. “There is no better place than Morro.”

Settled in 1535, Morro de Sao Paulo – or St. Paul’s Hill – is one of five villages on Tinhare, one of 26 islands in an archipelago just off Brazil’s Atlantic coast. The once sleepy fishing village first drew hippies and backpackers in the 1970s and became a trendy destination in the 1980s, but even today Morro’s population is less than 4,000.

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