May 22, 2024

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12/09 Links Pt2: Amnesty International Attacks Democracies, Forgives Islamist Tyrannies; Planning the Holocaust in the Middle East: Nazi Designs to Bomb Jewish Cities

From Ian:

Amnesty International Attacks Democracies, Forgives Islamist Tyrannies
“Morally bankrupt.” — Salman Rushdie, author with a $600,000 bounty from Iran’s regime on his head, speaking of Amnesty International.
Amnesty sponsored a rally in Brussels, where Islamist speakers celebrated the 9/11 attacks, denied the Holocaust and demonized gays and Jews.
It seems that Amnesty turned its back on the battle of human rights in favor of a grotesque anti-Western bias. The Economist accused Amnesty of “reserving more pages to human rights abuses in Britain and the United States than in Belarus and Saudi Arabia.”
Amnesty’s secretary general compared Soviet forced-labor camps, where millions died of hunger, cold and executions, to a US military base where no prisoner has died, and which has prevented countless innocent civilians from being blown up.
“Canada is obliged to arrest and prosecute Bush for his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture”, said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s Americas programme director. Amnesty also charged Obama of “war crimes.”
Alan Dershowitz summarizes Amnesty’s definition of Israel’s “war crimes”: “Whatever Israel does to defend its citizens.”
A report by NGO Monitor detailed Amnesty’s “systematic flaws in the reporting of human rights abuses; limited understanding of armed conflict leading to erroneous claims and incorrect analysis; and violation of the universality of human rights, including a consistent institutionalized bias against Israel through double-standards.” There are even Amnesty’s officials who called the Jewish State “a scum state.”

What a Real Civil Rights Hero Thought of Jews, Zionism and Anti-Semitism

The real measure of a Civil Rights Leader is how he reacts to the persecution of others. On this crucial responsibility Bayard Rustin — the Civil Rights leader and strategist who worked as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s right hand man and organizer of the 1963 “March on Washington” — was always a step ahead.
A great test of Rustin’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism came during the 1968 School-Teachers’ Strike in New York City. As Paul Berman wrote in The New Republic:
“In that strike, a social democratic trade union was pitted against a wave of neighborhood black nationalists demanding community control over the schools (and over the teachers’ contracts). To support the teachers’ union was, for Rustin and [A. Philip] Randolph, too, the obvious choice to make. Rustin became a top aide to Albert Shanker, the teachers’ leader. … Unfortunately the strike broke down into tribal warfare — Jewish schoolteachers verses black neighborhood activists — and Rustin, as a result, found himself in the novel and horrible circumstance of opposing an aroused black citizenry. Leaders more timid than himself, and more crafty, looked for ways to avoid taking sides during those very nasty months.”
“But”, writes Berman, “Rustin was incapable of drawing back.” He had found “the Jewish rank and file” of the union “subjected by their opponents to all sorts of anti-Semitic vilification,” and “he made a point of standing up against anti-semitism” — and did so very publicly, railing against “these young Negroes spouting material directly from Mein Kampf” in a 1968 speech to the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League.
Rustin was not an unbiased observer of these events. Not long after the Yom Kippur War was brought to a close, Rustin wrote in the Chicago Defender that “Israel, as a progressive and democratic nation, is the ultimate reflection of traditions which run throughout Jewish history and culture. Wherever Jews are, they stand firm for the extension of human rights for all people.”

Holocaust survivor preaches forgiveness of Nazis as ‘ultimate revenge’

On an early November day, a parcel of pickup trucks cruise Terre Haute streets, flying large Trump campaign flags in their wake. In this Indiana college town, lined with cookie-cutter fast food outlets and a token Indian buffet, South Third Street looks like any other. Except here, between car mechanics and nail shops, stands an incongruous mom-and-pop Holocaust museum.
With its small stature, the unimposing gray CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center building is a modest monument. It memorializes the 1,500 pairs of twins used by Angel of Death Josef Mengele at Auschwitz and the story of its petite founder, Holocaust survivor and Mengele twin, Eva Mozes Kor.
In 2003, the CANDLES museum was razed in a firebomb attack. It rose again two years later, but the attacks against Kor herself have not ceased. Today, the museum and its robust online presence are the launchpads for Kor’s parallel messages of survival and — controversially — forgiveness.
The feisty octogenarian, who has lectured on her Holocaust experiences throughout the world since 1978, is heralded by many as a visionary peacemaker. Concurrently, in another vocal, mostly Jewish crowd, she is at times scathingly condemned as a scandalous traitor to her people.
There are other Holocaust survivors who speak against hatred — though not forgiveness — such as Judith Altmann, who was born in Jasina, Czechoslovakia, and whose family was murdered by the Nazis. “I certainly have all the reasons in the world to hate, but hate destroys you, not them. Use your energy for good things and for better things,” Altmann has said.

WJC releases video on N. African Holocaust

In order to complement its work for survivors of the Holocaust in Europe, the World Jewish Congress has launched this two-minute long video to reveal the little-known story of the Holocaust in North Africa. The video summarises the impact of the Nazi, Vichy and Fascist regimes on the Jews of North Africa. It does, however, exaggerate the numbers who were killed. They did not amount to thousands – 600 Jews died in the Libyan labour camp of Giado.

Planning the Holocaust in the Middle East: Nazi Designs to Bomb Jewish Cities in Palestine

During the spring of 2016, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone​,​ ​claimed ​that ​Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s. When this claim ​was discredited, he refused to apologize and claimed that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.” Supporting this assertion, Livingstone cited a book by the Trotskyite writer, Len​ni Brenner. ​ ​A review of the published scholarship and ​original German governmental​ documents ​show​​ the intensity of​ the Nazis​’​ hostility toward the establishment of a Jewish state. Archival evidence reveals that as a means of striking out against Zionism, the Luftwaffe even considered bombing Jerusalem on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
“Partial Truths Are More Dangerous than Outright Lies”
During the spring of 2016, former mayor of London Ken Livingstone claimed that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s. When confronted about this claim, he refused to recant and said that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”1 To back this assertion, Livingstone cited a book by the Trotskyite writer, Lenni Brenner.2 During a Q&A at the Oxford Union in the summer of the same year, Livingstone was asked about his comments on Hitler’s alleged backing of Zionism in the 1930s.3 He defended himself with a laundry-list of supposed collaborations between Nazis and Zionists, which he described as “just historical facts.”4 He then referred to a confrontation between himself and Labour MP John Mann. Mann had intercepted Livingstone as he entered the BBC’s headquarters and called him “a Nazi apologist,” who was attempting to “rewrite history.”5 The Oxford interviewer pressed Livingstone on this, asking whether he could be perceived as “lauding Hitler.”

Academics Unpack BDS, Antisemitism at Media Watchdog’s Annual Conference

Many colleges and universities “don’t govern in a consistent way when it comes to Israel” and apply a “double standard” to how they treat Jewish victims of prejudice, Lawrence Summers said at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’s (CAMERA) national conference on December 4.
Academics and campus professionals gathered for the media watchdog’s conference — held at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts — to discuss the complexion of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as rising campus antisemitism.
“The goal of the conference was to learn from professors, students and others on the ground who know campus realities firsthand,” CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin told “And we learned a lot. It was powerful to hear how politically correct attitudes often work against Jewish students at a time of rising antisemitism. It was also impressive to learn about the positive impact of outspoken faculty and students.”
Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard, said in his speech that campus officials are “respectful of the feelings and rights of every minority on campus but Jews.”
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of AMCHA — a non-profit that monitors and combats antisemitism on campus — said at the conference that “many Jewish students feel not only that the campus is against Israel, but against them….Students are threatened because of their Jewish identity.”

Cary Nelson and David Greenberg: Students are shouting down pro-Israel speakers — and silencing free speech

As anti-normalization spread as a tactic, it acquired a higher status. Advocates of BDS — the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — began to grant this “principle” a quasi-theological character, lending its application to campus events an air of moral urgency and ethical superiority. By last year, BDS supporters had a transcendent reason to voice their contempt for academic freedom when they refused to participate in “normalizing” dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to block campus access to speakers deemed sympathetic to Israel.
As a result, such incidents proliferated. In October 2015, former Israeli Supreme Court chief justice Aharon Barak, noted for his support of Palestinian rights, had his own UC-Irvine talk interrupted and curtailed. The following month the world-renowned Israeli philosopher and New York University faculty member Moshe Halbertal had a University of Minnesota lecture disrupted. In February, Israeli Arab Bassem Eid was relentlessly heckled by BDS activists at the University of Chicago; in April, they blocked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat from speaking at San Francisco State University.
In other cases, anti-normalization prompted people to prevent a speech simply because it was co-sponsored by a Jewish student group. At Brown University in March, the transgender activist Janet Mock canceled a speech after 160 anti-Israel students objected because the campus Hillel chapter was among the sponsors.
Anti-Israel speakers have also faced calls to have their invitations rescinded. In 2013, the University of Michigan withdrew an invitation to Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. In 2011, the City University of New York withdrew an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner, a fierce critic of Israel, only to quickly reinstate it. These incidents, too, are completely unacceptable, but — significantly — they were one-offs, not the result of a policy espoused by an international campaign.
The growing practice of silencing pro-Israel speakers — of denying them the right to be treated as equals in campus debates — constitutes a dire threat to academic freedom. In our deeply polarized times, it is more important than ever that universities create opportunities for students and faculty to hear and engage with ideas that they don’t share. Their leaders must defend more vocally than they have thus far the free-speech rights of all speakers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They must do so now, before the shouting down of unpopular views becomes, for lack of a better word, normalized.

The challenges faced by Jewish students at UK Universities

Today, the National Union of Students (NUS), the body representing seven million students in the UK, has its national conference. One Jewish delegate, Izzy Lenga, has written an article “Why I won`t be at tomorrow`s NUS NEC meeting”, in which she describes the hostile environment that Jewish students are facing on campus in general, and from student leadership in particular.
The current President of the National Union of Students is Malia Bouattia, who has said that British government policy is controlled by the Zionist lobby, and whose language is so extreme that a government committee said it “smacks of outright racism.” The current President of the Union of Jewish Students said that Malia Bouattia`s attempt to deal with concerns of Jewish students have been half-hearted.
This is part of a general climate where many British students are scared to openly mention their connections with Israel, and the atmosphere is so hostile that Israeli students at British universities sometimes do not even reveal their country of origin.

Merkel’s party praised for labeling BDS anti-Semitic

The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party for decrying the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel as “coarse anti-Semitism.”
“Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews,” the Christian Democratic Union party said, according to the ADL. “That is nothing other than coarse anti-Semitism.”
“It is highly significant that Germany’s largest party and the moral authority of modern Germany have made clear the fundamental linkage between BDS and anti-Semitism,” the ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a press release.
“At a time when efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel are on the rise, it’s critical for society’s leaders to take a stand and call it out,” he added.
Merkel, who faces increasing pressure to pursue more right-wing policies ahead of next year’s elections, ruffled feathers earlier this week when she set out a tough line on integration, including a ban on the Muslim veil.
“The full veil must be banned wherever it is legally possible,” she told the annual gathering of her center-right party on Tuesday.

Toronto Sun-Canada Editorial: BDS Movement Only Divides Us

Ontario’s legislature struck a real and meaningful blow against anti-Semitism Thursday by endorsing a motion to condemn the anti-Israel BDS movement.
BDS stands for “boycott, divestment and sanctions.” It’s a Palestinian-led movement that has attempted to persuade individuals, unions, universities, community groups and governments around the world to apply economic and political pressure against Israel – by targeting Israeli companies.
Its purported goal is to influence peace and stability in the region, but in reality the group demonizes Israel – for example, by comparing the democracy to 20th century Apartheid South Africa – and employs divisive tactics to isolate Israel internationally.
The motion adopted by Ontario MPPs Thursday, promoted by Thornhill Conservative MPP Gila Martow, recognizes BDS as a movement that encourages “hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance” and promotes “the differential treatment of Israel.”
Regrettably, the NDP chose to vote against the motion, which in our view is a vote for intolerance.

Ontario Lawmaker Sought to Counter Anti-Israel “Psychological Terrorism” on Campus

The Ontario legislature has endorsed a motion put forward by PC MPP Gila Martow celebrating its ties with Israel and standing against any movement promoting hatred or racism.
In particular, the motion centred on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which targets Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, although the group insists it is not motivated by anti-Semitism.
The motion, which passed Thursday in a 49-5 vote, says, “(MPPs) recognize the longstanding, vibrant and mutually beneficial political, economic and cultural ties between Ontario and Israel, built on a foundation of shared liberal democratic values; endorse the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism; and reject the differential treatment of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”
A similar bill, introduced by former PC leader Tim Hudak, was rejected by the legislature in a spring vote.
The Sun asked Martow why it was important to her to address the BDS movement in a new motion.

The silence about campus anti-Semitism

Interestingly, Ahmad told me he abstained from the vote, saying there were arguments on both sides. I put it to him that BDS was marginalising Jewish and Israeli students, and asked if he thought his abstention would make some think he was indifferent to this. ‘Universities are meant to be Safe Spaces for all students’, was his reply.
While Safe Spaces have become an insidious means of censorship – with safety coming to mean safety from ideas you dislike – Jewish and Israeli students often feel physically intimidated on campus. Just last week at King’s College London, students had to walk through airport-style security to attend an event where an Israeli writer was due to speak. Forget some students wanting to be protected from ‘uncomfortable’ ideas, pro-Israel student societies now need an entourage of university security in order to hold events.
City University management has refused to condemn the motion. And student journalists, such as myself, have been stonewalled. The only response I’ve managed to glean from the City press office was a shallow explanation of what the BDS motion really means (in their odd interpretation), and how it doesn’t necessarily mean Israeli goods or academics will be boycotted.
Even if they’re not actively campaigning for BDS on campus, students’ union and university officials are standing back and watching as a truly ugly climate develops.

Major US Jewish Group Calls on Qatar to Remove Antisemitic Titles From Doha Book Fair

A leading US-based Jewish human rights group has called on the Qatari government to remove antisemitic titles from an international book fair currently taking place in the Gulf state’s capital.
In a letter sent this week to Qatari Culture and Sports Minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, Dr. Shimon Samuels — the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations — said, “Just as our organization would express outrage at anti-Islamic material, we request you to take measures to proclaim that Qatar rejects incitement to hatred and violence against Jews.”
The contract signed by exhibitors at the 27th Doha International Book Fair, Samuels pointed out, forbids any publications that insult Islam. “We urge you to add Judaism, Christianity and other faiths to create a platform of solidarity among all believers,” he wrote. “Continued manifestations of hatred at the [book fair] cannot serve Qatar’s image or interests.”
Samuels also voiced “special indignation” over the presence of the embassies of the US and France, as well as UNESCO, “at their dedicated pavilions amidst the vilest antisemitic and conspiracy theory titles” at the book fair.

Facebook Struggles to Put Out Online Fires in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

When fires raged across Israel last month, Anas Abudaabes began to type on his laptop. What came out would land him behind bars and ignite a debate over whether he had tried to fan the flames of hatred, in this case literally.
On his Facebook page, Mr. Abudaabes wrote that “we should call our thugs to do what is necessary,” noting that “dry grass is faster to burn.” Arabs should pray for lightning and strong winds, he wrote, while those in Jerusalem and Haifa, where blazes were most intense, should “pour gas” on what was being called the “fire intifada.”
Mr. Abudaabes, 29, a businessman, insisted it was satire and was released after nearly four days. But he was hardly the first arrested in Israel for seeming to encourage mayhem on Facebook, nor will he be the last. Facebook has become the battleground in a global struggle between free speech and incitement, and in few places is that more pronounced than in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Facebook and other social media companies announced this week that they would team up to better track and reduce online terrorist propaganda. But European leaders were unsatisfied, arguing that the companies have been slow to review and take down hateful posts, and they pressed for more action.
In this part of the world, the debate is not just theoretical. Terrorism is an everyday reality, and the role that Facebook and other social media sites may play in inspiring it generates deep emotion. Israel has pushed to combat online provocation that it links to bloodshed. Palestinians consider a crackdown on Facebook posts just another tool of repression by an occupying power.

IsraellyCool: Latest #FakeNews: Palestinian As Guinness World Record Youngest Doctor Lie

Seems pretty clear: Google are placing that factoid (from the World Bulletin website) front and center: Palestinian Muslim woman Iqbal/Eqbal was set by the Guinness World Records as the youngest doctor in the world.
But here’s the deal. The Guinness Book of World Records has a site. To do proper searches you need an account. And when you do the search, this is what you see:
That’s right. Palestinian Muslim woman Iqbal El-Assad is most definitely not the youngest doctor in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Furthermore, she does not seem to be mentioned anywhere in the Guinness Book (under two different spelling variants).
In other words, this is completely made up. It is fake news, and it is being spread by Google, perhaps because they are being ‘gamed.’

BBC ignores latest Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza civilian district

On December 7th Hamas announced the deaths of two of its operatives working in a tunnel in Shuja’iya about half a kilometer from the border with Israel. Additional operatives are apparently missing since the tunnel’s collapse.
“Two Hamas terrorists were killed while working on an attack tunnel intended for an infiltration from Gaza into Israel collapsed in the territory near the border with Israel, according to a statement issued by the group.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said another Palestinian was injured in the incident. Hamas said they were working in a “resistance tunnel.””

This latest evidence of Hamas’ efforts to reconstruct its terror infrastructure in civilian neighbourhoods has once again gone unreported by the BBC and audiences continue to be deprived of the full range of background information necessary for proper understanding of past or future Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip.
On the other hand, BBC News did find the time and the column space this week to ensure that its audiences were made aware of some short-lived “guerrilla artwork” in Tel Aviv.

Western Media Confused After Discovering Israel Not Involved in Most Middle East Conflicts (satire)

Due to escalating tensions in Middle Eastern countries, arriving Western journalists were shocked to discover that the Middle East has a ton of conflicts, and very few are even remotely related to Israel.
“I always write about the ‘Middle Eastern’ conflict being Israelis vs. Palestinians, but it turns out, the Middle East is a huge, complex, messed up region,” a BBC journalist exclaimed. “Who knew?”
Despite heavy media attention on Israel, a deeper analysis has uncovered that the Middle East / Northern Africa geographic areas are, to use a technical term, ‘ridiculously fucked up’. Between ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a Syrian civil war that just won’t quit, a Yemeni civil war, a coalition fighting in Yemen, a failed Libyan government, two ousted Egyptian leaders, a FUBAR-Iraq, and Iran funding proxy terror organizations while marching toward nuclear arms, the Elders of Zion apparently had their hands quite full over the past several years.
“Let’s take what’s going on in Yemen for example,” a New York Times reporter said. “It gets super complicated when you have a predominantly Muslim country that’s fractured along sectarian lines, with Saudi Arabia and Iran, two other Muslim countries, arming the two opposite sides…… yada, yada, yada, my brain is starting to hurt. It’s a lot simpler to just reinforce the Judaism vs. Islam narrative, so historically, that’s what we’ve tried to do.”
Upon learning about the range of problems facing the Middle East, leaders of the BDS movements said, “Well, we can still blame it all on the Jews, right?”

IsraellyCool: Antisemite Josh Bonehill About To Bunk With Bubba

Remember Jew hater Joshua Bonehill, who once pledged to financially back Galloway’s re-election campaign?
Well, he’s been found guilty of harassing UK Labour MP Luciana Berger with antisemitic posts, and is set to go to jail.
A racist internet troll has been found guilty of harassing a Labour MP with a series of anti-Jewish rants sent after the jailing of a fellow far-right extremist.
Joshua Bonehill-Paine, who turned 24 on Wednesday, wrote five hate-filled blogs about Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, after Garron Helm was sent to prison for four weeks in October 2014.
The jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for just over one hour and 15 minutes before finding Bonehill-Paine guilty of racially aggravated harassment.

White supremacist, neo-Nazi posters hung at Boston school

Posters promoting a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization were discovered on the Emerson College campus in Boston.
At least seven posters from the American Vanguard organization were found Monday in a lecture hall and a student residence, the local media reported Wednesday.
“The racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric of American Vanguard has no place on our campus as a community that cherishes the diversity of ideas and people acting together in shared interests as a sustaining and core value,” Emerson President Lee Pelton said in an email Tuesday to students.
Pelton said the identity of who hung the posters is not known and the college’s Police Department is conducting an investigation.
“The posters were not put here to propagandize but rather to intimidate and silence,” his email said. “However, we will not be silenced. We will raise our strong voices of protest and our unassailable belief in the enduring power of our common humanity.”
American Vanguard says in the “Manifesto” section of its website that “White America is under attack … While millions of our countrymen languish in poverty and our infrastructure crumbles, our jobs are shipped overseas and billions sent to Israel.”

Son of ‘Sopranos’ Co-Star Arrested for Vandalizing SUNY Dorm With Swastika Graffiti

The son of actor Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti on HBO‘s mega-hit series “The Sopranos,” was arrested on Wednesday for spray-painting a swastika on a bulletin board of a State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase dorm, The Journal News reported.
Vadim Imperioli, 19, faces a charge of criminal mischief for the Nov. 20 vandalism, and his arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 17, according to Capt. Doug Larkin of the New York State Police.
This isn’t the first time Vadim, whose father is Sicilian-American and mother is Russian, has had trouble with the law, according to The Journal News. He was put on three years probation for vandalism in California and is currently facing a petty larceny charge. At a hearing on Tuesday related to the latter, Assistant District Attorney Catalina Blanco Buitrago told the judge that the teen has two open cases in court and “a disregard for the property of others.” She also said there is a possibility that the criminal mischief charge he is up against will be upgraded to a felony. In response, the judge raised Vadim’s $5,000 bail by $1,500 and rebuked him for getting into more trouble.

When neo-Nazis have doubts, there’s a number to call

Felix Benneckenstein was a rising star on Germany’s far-right scene, a young songwriter whose rousing guitar anthems made white nationalism sound romantic and rebellious.
But when fellow neo-Nazis attacked a friend, Benneckenstein found the doubts he’d ignored for years coming to the surface.
“It was a rude awakening,” he recalled. “You have an idea of what’s wrong with the world and believe you’ve discovered hidden truths… And to then realize that everything you’ve done to yourself and others in the past years was built on lies is a bitter moment.”
After almost a decade on the far-right fringes, the 30-year-old is now part of a small but effective network of former neo-Nazis helping people to leave the scene. Spread across Germany, they work closely with an organization called EXIT that provides quick, unbureaucratic advice to extremists who want out.
At a time when extreme nationalism is on the rise in Europe again, EXIT has helped hundreds of neo-Nazis start a new life, according to its founder Bernd Wagner, a former East German police detective. He says EXIT has an edge over government-run programs because those answering its hotline have dropped out of the far-right movement themselves.

US House passes bill to ease return of Nazi-looted art

A bill to ease the return of Nazi-looted artworks to their original owners or heirs passed the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, or HEAR Act, must now pass the Senate.
The bill aims to lengthen the statute of limitations for returning stolen artwork to six years from the date that the art in question is identified and located, and evidence of ownership has been presented.
In some past cases, current holders of stolen art were able to avoid restitution because states had statutes of limitations as short as three years.
“With the House’s approval of the HEAR Act, Holocaust victims and their families are one step closer to a clear legal path to recovering art stolen by the Nazis,” said Ronald Lauder, chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery and president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization.

Berlin rabbi welcomes next German president Steinmeier as ‘proud friend of Jewish people’

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s appointment as the country’s next president is a welcome move for the Jewish community, according to the rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin, Yehuda Teichtal.
“The fact that he will in February become the president of the Federal Republic of Germany is for the Jewish community a very positive sign,” Teichtal told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Describing Steinmeier as a “uniter,” he said the minister has always brought together people of different minorities.
“He has always expressed a warm, positive approach, not just of reconciliation to the Jewish community, but also of a present and future active Jewish life,” Teichtal stressed.
He recalled Steinmeier’s attendance as a guest of honor at the Jewish community center inauguration in Berlin nine years ago. Steinmeier did not just accept the invitation and pay lip service, but stayed all day, an example of how he goes “above and beyond the call of duty,” according to Teichtal.
“His warm approach is something he has carried throughout the years,” he said. “Numerous times he has participated in Jewish events across entire spectrum.”

Israel to ease citizenship process for same-sex couples

The naturalization process for foreign same-sex partners in Israel will be the same as that of their heterosexual counterparts, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reported Thursday to the High Court of Justice.
According to Mandelblit’s guidelines, couples of the same sex who present foreign marriage documents will be able to undergo the same procedure to receive citizenship for the foreign partner as do heterosexual couples.
The move by Mandelblit’s was made in response to a petition presented by the The Israeli Gay Fathers Association, which claimed gay couples have been discriminated against for years in the immigration process. The group complained that same sex couples were forced to go through a seven-year waiting period before the state would give its recognition.
For heterosexual couples, the transition period lasts four years, resulting in the foreign partner receiving full citizenship.

Top cop from Boston marathon bombing probe gets counter-terror training in Israel

Three years after the Boston Marathon bombing, the city’s police commissioner and a delegation of senior Massachusetts law enforcement officials traveled to Israel to train and learn from the country’s most elite counter-terrorism experts.
Sponsored by the ADL, the 14 officers, who arrived on Monday for one week, represent state, federal and local law enforcement, including campus police chiefs from MIT, Northeastern University and Suffolk University.
“We’ve been running local [delegation] trips to Israel for many years to provide American law enforcement with access to top Israeli police officials, so they can learn and share techniques in fighting terrorism,” said Robert Trestan, director of the ADL’s Boston office on Thursday.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who ran in the 2013 marathon, and then led the exhaustive eight-day ground operation after two terrorist siblings detonated two pressure-cooker bombs that killed three and wounded dozens, said the visit has been insightful.
“I always heard about how well Israel’s police deal with terrorism, and to come and see their system and learn about their techniques – how they train the officers – I was pretty impressed,” said Evans, who was the top uniformed Boston officer during the April 15 marathon attack.
“For me, with the Boston Marathon, and terrorism coming to America recently, I’m learning quite a lot.”

Junior Mr. Universe credits Orthodox upbringing for success

Kobi Ifrach stood on a stage in England wearing nothing but gold body paint, a Speedo and an Israeli flag. He had just become the first Israeli to win the Junior Mr. Universe bodybuilding competition.
Back home in this northern Israeli town, Ifrach’s haredi Orthodox parents were cheering him on. Days earlier they had lit Shabbat candles and prayed for his victory.
Ifrach, 20, left the path of strict Jewish observance during high school and now abides instead by the strictures of bodybuilding — working out for hours every day and following a carefully regimented diet. But he remains close with his family and credits much of his success to the discipline of his religious upbringing.
“Since you’re young, they teach you to have a strict order to your days. You have to wake up in the morning and pray and wrap tefillin, and you take this discipline with you wherever you are in life,” Ifrach told JTA. “I still have this order and this discipline of doing the things I need to do.”
Ifrach grew up in Zichron Yaakov, the youngest of eight brothers and sisters born to Moroccan immigrant parents. The children attended haredi Orthodox schools.

Mark his words: Justin Bieber to perform in Israel in 2017

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber will perform in Israel as part of his Purpose World Tour, it was announced Thursday. The singer is scheduled to perform on May 3, 2017, at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park.
Bieber, one of the world’s most famous pop stars, first performed in Israel in 2011, when he was just 17. Despite a successful concert before some 20,000 fans, the visit did not go smoothly, as the teen sensation clashed with the paparazzi while visiting Israel’s holy sites.
Israeli fans will have to shell out 350 shekels ($92) for tickets in the grass area, NIS 790 ($209) for Golden Ring tickets and NIS 1,190 ($314) for the VIP section. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale on Saturday, but members of Bieber’s Israeli fan club enjoyed an early sale on Thursday.
Bieber won popularity after posting songs on YouTube when he was just 13. His 2009 debut album, “My World,” sold millions of copies worldwide and made him one of the youngest success stories in contemporary pop music.

Greek Energy Company to Invest $1 Billion in Israeli Gas Fields

The Greek energy company expects to produce gas from the Tanin and Karish offshore fields by 2020.
Greek oil and gas exploration company Energean, which has acquired the Karish and Tanin offshore gas fields, says that within six months it will present Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources with its plan to develop the fields. On Tuesday, the Israeli government’s Petroleum Council recommended acceptance of the deal in which Energean will buy the fields from Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) for $148 million.
Karis and Tanin together contain an estimated 68 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Energian says that it estimates gas production could begin by 2020 and that the cost of developing the fields will be about $1 billion.
Energean chairman, CEO and founder Mathios Rigas said, “We are delighted to have received the approval of the Israeli Government on this transaction and for their swift consideration of the matter. The acquisition of Karish and Tanin and their development is a significant step for Energean, but it is also a big milestone for Israel in developing its gas strategy, by bringing competition in the local market. Energean is committed to delivering a mutually beneficial and successful development and gas sales program as partners with the Israeli government.”

Israel, Greece, Cyprus Agree on European Gas Pipeline

Ministers of the three countries met in Jerusalem today and agreed to push for a pipeline to Europe, which wants to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
At a meeting today in Jerusalem, government ministers from Israel, Greece, and Cyprus today agreed to continue their promotion of a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Europe. Senior ministry officials also attended the meeting, including Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources director general Shaul Meridor. Israel Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz and colleagues Greek Minister of Economy, Development, and Tourism Giorgos Stathakis and Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Georgios Lakkotrypis agreed to hold a joint meeting on the subject with European Union Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arais Canete.
The current working assumption is that the cost of a pipeline to northwestern Greece and from there to Italy and Bulgaria will be $5.7 billion, and will be economically worthwhile at prices of $7-9 per BTU. Energy sources believe that this estimate of the cost is at least $2 billion lower than the true cost, and that this per BTU price is likely to be non-competitive within a few years, and certainly at a time when Russia is selling 175 BCM a year to Europe, amounting to 43% of all the gas consumed there in 2015, at an average price of $4.40 per BTU.
On the other hand, the European Energy Commission today announced that it would consider Europe’s 124 bilateral energy contracts in order to create a unified regulated market that could reduce Europe’s great dependence on Russian gas. Another important point is that the greater the quantities of gas transported through the proposed pipeline, the more economically worthwhile it will be. If additional gas fields are discovered in Israel, and if a corresponding measure currently being promoted by Lakkotrypis succeeds, the pipeline will become more worthwhile.

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