August 15, 2022

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12/30 Links Pt2: Remembering the Heroes; The Passion of the Antisemites; Damning new evidence undermines BBC’s Oxford Street racist slur claim; Israel approaches 9.5 million residents on eve of 2022

https://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2021/12/1230-links-pt2-remembering-heroes.html

From Ian:

Keep calm and call someone, it’s urgent

When the BBC – one of the world’s most revered and esteemed news institutions – insists that something is so and stands by it so rigidly despite massive outcry, it can make anyone doubt themselves. There’s gaslighting and then there’s industrial-scale gaslighting of the kind that has a half a billion audience numbers, multi-billion-pound revenue and 22,000+ staff and the cultural cache of, well, being the BBC.

Despite this, members of our humble complement of staff and Honorary Officers who didn’t speak Hebrew, nevertheless put their trust in me. We published a video where I re-enact the utterance of the Hebrew phrase to make it clear to people what they are hearing and how well it fits precisely in line with the more distorted phrase from the viral footage. Many of those who had doubts said to us they were now more convinced that it was indeed Hebrew. Those who do speak Hebrew got it immediately. There was still nothing but the sound of crickets from the BBC.

We then published our open letter to the BBC top brass even copying in Department of Culture, Media and Sport Minister Nadine Dorries – not something we do lightly. The crickets were now chirping so loudly they should have a slot at The Proms. We eventually received a formal acknowledgement but then weeks went by before we received the same canned response that hundreds of other complainants will eventually have received as well. The Beeb was not backing down and the crickets were being booked for Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. While other communal organisations and leaders were raising their own complaints, we knew that we needed to escalate.

For the next step to be taken, we knew we would need something more authoritative than “trust us, we asked some Hebrews”. We also knew that it was imperative to get the absolute best quality source footage we could. Our friends at the Jewish Chronicle helped us get in contact with the person who took the footage on the bus. They were distraught by the way the BBC was reporting the story and were happy to help. After various technical and Covid hurdles we were able to secure direct access to the original file.

To verify the authenticity, we did so with the help of OSINT specialists at DigFind. We commissioned them to authenticate the file extraction, preserve the metadata, and verify that there was no tampering with the footage. The team at DigFind also brought in specialist support from D3 Forensics – experts in digital forensics who could clean up the audio, isolate the disputed segment, apply the necessary filters to make it as clear and audible as possible and together with DigFind analyse what they can hear in the audio. DigFind/D3 Forensics were commissioned with no prejudice as to any desired outcome other than to ascertain the truth. And they found it. The truth was that the BBC accused a Jewish man calling out for help in Hebrew of instead uttering a racist remark.

Damning new evidence undermines BBC’s Oxford Street racist slur claim

THE JC can reveal damning new evidence which appears to undermine the BBC’s claim that an anti-Muslim slur was uttered by a victim of the antisemitic Chanukah bus attack on Oxford Street.

The Charedi students whose panicked voices can be heard in a video clip of the attack have categorically rejected the BBC’s allegation that they used any racist phrase whatsoever.

And a dossier of exhaustive analysis by forensic audio experts and a distinguished, independent linguist, commissioned by the Board of Deputies, appears to confirm their testimony.

The revelations heap further pressure on the BBC to justify its claims to the Jewish youngsters. So far it has refused to apologise, causing outrage.

Rabbi Schneur Glitzenshtein, who organised the bus trip, told the JC that he had personally spoken to those whose voices are heard in the video. “All they were doing was trying to protect each other,” he said. “That insult did not happen.”

Separately, the Board of Deputies commissioned digital experts DigFind and D3 Forensics, who used audio technology to slow down and clean up the recording so that each syllable of the phrase in dispute could be heard.

Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann, Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages as the University of Adelaide inSouth Australia, one of the most senior experts in his field, then studied the tape.

The Professor, who is fluent in 13 languages, including Hebrew, and is a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary, established that the “slur” was actually a Hebrew phrase, “Tikrah lemishu,ze dachuf” meaning: “Call someone, it is urgent.”

Independent Reports commissioned by Board of Deputies conclusively prove BBC error in antisemitic incident story

In a piece for this week’s Jewish Chronicle, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has described the BBC’s “misreporting” as “a colossal error”, which “has added insult to injury in accusing victims of antisemitism of being guilty of bigotry themselves…But what takes this from an egregious failure to something far more sinister is the BBC’s behaviour when confronted with its mistake. Instead of admitting it was wrong, it has doubled and tripled down.” The President also states that the corporation’s behaviour “raises serious questions about deep-seated biases within the BBC towards Israelis, and indeed towards Jews in general.”

In her article, the President also notes that “it should not have been left to us, a Jewish communal organisation, to commission an independent report to prove this point. The BBC should have done this itself, rather than apparently conducting an internal investigation and finding no wrongdoing. To us, this apparent attempt to mark its own homework is reminiscent of the behavioural pattern the corporation has displayed amidst past scandals. Once again, instead of approaching a potential error with an open mind, its default response appears to be to circle the wagons and deny everything. This is clearly a calamitous approach to retaining the public’s trust.” She has called for the BBC at the very least to apologise publicly to the victims of the Oxford Street attack, and has referred to a meeting the Board of Deputies will be holding with the BBC Director General and other Senior Executives in January, which will include “a full and frank discussion of this issue.”

Further information on the Board of Deputies’ process for conclusively proving the BBC’s inaccuracy can be found in this article written by the Board of Deputies’ Digital Communications Officer, Adam Ma’anit.

Independent Reports commissioned by BoD conclusively prove BBC error in antisemitic incident story

Yisrael Medad: Thoughts on What Drives Anti-Zionists

The current situation is a potent mixture of the ignorance of the anti-Zionists and those non-Jews they play up to, and their presumption that they are not ignorant but are simply parroting inanities. As the poetess Louise Glück wrote in her 2006 volume Averno, “ignorance cannot will knowledge. Ignorance wills something imagined, which it believes exists.” Avi Shilon provided an example of this ignorance when he related that at New York University, when he discussed the place of the Holocaust in Israeli society, a student said that the very idea of being preoccupied with the Holocaust is white privilege.

The fact is that there are Jews who denude the essence not only of Jewish nationhood but of Judaism as well. They deny its history and its covenantal-community character. They seek to isolate its social and political values. They campaign to have Jews abandon genuine cultural frameworks, replacing them with external hostile paradigms. Their manipulation of the instrument of intersectionality has among other things, set Blacks against Jews, such as the JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign. It has contributed to the cowering of Jewish students in dorms. This is quite astounding, given the direct threat of Judeophobic violence.

They do not hate themselves but rather love themselves so much that they assume they can alter definitions and amend practices and modify beliefs. Thus, millennia-old Jewish ideas, concepts and customs are distorted by progressive anti-Zionist Jews and with the assistance of those non-Jews they view as allies. They seek to dismantle Judaism and resurrect a new form of Jewishness. They do not hate themselves, but they hate their Jewish brethren. As Isaac Babel wrote in Red Cavalry, “they are trying to live without enemies.” Perhaps anti-Zionism has evolved into a new proto-Christo-messianism: no more a Jewish nation, no more a unique religious community. But they bring no true good-will and, to echo Matthew 10:34, they are not intending peace but a sword.

Their alliance with the progressives, the Islamist Palestinianism and the radical Black forces has launched a new crusade on Jews and Israel. The infiltration over the past few decades of the media, diplomatic circles, academia, governmental institutions and bodies of political representation has resulted in a powerful force providing support and mediation for suppression of independent Jewish thought. Their acceptance of Pallywood presentations is pitiful. What has been described by the CUNY Alliance for Inclusion (CAFI) as their “ahistorical chant of ‘apartheid, genocide, war crimes’” is no longer a dispute over ideas and opinions. Rather, it is intended to physically harm Jews in the context of the Arab conflict with Israel, and to harm Zionism. To quote Shakespeare: “[We] are in great danger. The greater therefore should our courage be.” (Henry V, IV, 1).

Remembering the Heroes

Anatoly Sharansky, born in 1948, was a computer specialist in Moscow who grew up in a secular Jewish household but who, in response to the pervasive antisemitism of the Soviet Union and inspired by Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, became a Zionist. He joined those seeking to emigrate to Israel and, because he had taught himself English, served as a liaison with Western reporters and Western visitors to Moscow.

In 1977 he was arrested on false charges of espionage and treason—crimes punishable by death—and held for sixteen months in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison before being tried and receiving a predetermined verdict of guilty. He was not executed, but spent the next eight years in various prisons and labor camps around the Soviet Union. The KGB subjected him to extraordinary pressure in an effort to extract a confession from him that it could then use for propaganda purposes.

Sharansky refused to confess, indeed refused to have anything to do with KGB officials. For this he suffered long months of solitary confinement in oppressive “punishment cells.” He went on several hunger strikes, at one point weighing less than eighty pounds. As brutally as the Soviet authorities treated him, they refrained from killing him because his name and his case had become well known beyond the Soviet borders and his death would have damaged Soviet relations with the West. He owed his notoriety to his contacts with Western journalists and political figures and especially to the tireless efforts of his wife, Avital, who had been allowed to go to Israel and who devoted herself thereafter to publicizing his case.

Finally, in 1986, Sharansky was freed in exchange for Soviet spies the West had uncovered and imprisoned. He changed his first name to the Hebrew “Natan” and in the ensuing years he became prominent in Israel’s public life. He has served as a member of the national Parliament, a cabinet minister, and the head of the Jewish Agency, Israel’s major institutional link to world Jewry.

In his powerful and affecting memoir, Fear No Evil (1988), Sharansky several times mentions the name of Andrei Sakharov. In his excellent biography of Sakharov (2002), Richard Lourie reports that Sharansky keeps a portrait of Sakharov in his office, to remind himself of his fellow dissident’s “straight, clear, pure moral thought.” Sakharov was a scientist of great accomplishment, credited with innovations crucial to the development of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. For this the regime rewarded him: he was an honored member of the Academy of Sciences and the director of a research institute with the use of both an apartment in Moscow that was comfortable by Soviet standards and a dacha in the countryside.

He was also, however, a free thinker, and the development of his ideas led him to express publicly his opposition to the regime’s oppressive practices and to support, again publicly, those similarly opposed. He joined public demonstrations in Moscow and other cities and lent his name to petitions on behalf of resisters of all kinds.

The Passion of the Antisemites

As stated above, in the face of so much inaccuracy despite his pledge to “tell the truth”, it is fair to examine Mel Gibson’s belief system. And, while we do not like to taint a son with the beliefs of his father, it is fair game to see if the son has distanced himself from the father’s anti-Semitic diatribes.

In a radio interview on a syndicated radio program called Speak Your Piece, on the eve of the movie’s release, Hutton Gibson showed that he believed in just about every major anti-Semitic myth:
-On the “Jewish conspiracy” – “They’re after one world religion and one world government. That’s why they’ve attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine.”
-On the Jews as Communists – “The Jews weren’t in the army much in World War 1 because they were fomenting a revolt in Russia.”
-On the Jews as Antichrist – “They must have revenge. You know they caused the Roman persecutions too… The Jews were notable for getting the wood to burn the Christians… a labor of love you might say.
-On Holocaust denial – “It’s all – maybe not all fiction – but most of it is.”

The problem with Mel is that when given the opportunity to reject his father’s notions, he declined to do so. (When ABC’s Diane Sawyer gave him the opening, he sternly told her, “Don’t go there.”)

More revealing still is a careful reading of Mel’s own words on the Holocaust. When asked by Peggy Noonan of Reader’s Digest whether the Holocaust happened, Mel answered in the affirmative, but qualified his words with the following, “Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century 20 million people died in the Soviet Union.”

The obvious problem with Mel Gibson’s pronouncement on whether the Holocaust “happened”, is that he takes the common path of Holocaust deniers, by portraying the Holocaust as just one of several “atrocities” – as opposed to an intentional and ordered German policy of genocidal extermination – that was somehow just a by-product of “War” which is of course “horrible”.

Notice that he is happy to give the number of Ukrainians starved to death, but neatly avoids the question of how many Jews perished in the Holocaust, lest he give it the authority of fact. The reasons for Holocaust denial, minimization, or equivocation are all the same – beware of a people so corrupt, so conniving that they have manufactured facts about the Holocaust. As postulated by a seriously hateful (and Jewish!) academic named Norman Finkelstein, Jews have created a “Holocaust Industry” which allows this vengeful, money-grubbing people to extort money from Europeans – and use Holocaust memorials to prop up support for a Nazi-like Israel.

Of course, the background of both Hutton and Mel Gibson is that they are part of a break-away Roman Catholic sect, called Traditionalists. This sect broke off from mainstream Catholicism after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which did away with celebrating mass in Latin only and the abstention of eating meat on Fridays. Rejecting the authority of the Pope, they also implicitly deny the other important reform of the Second Vatican Council – the absolving of the Jews from the crime of deicide. Shlomo Svesnik has called the Traditionalists a “fascistic cult” in his website at http://ww3report.com.

To be sure, however, Mel Gibson, one of the Traditionalists, has used his considerable cinematic skill to create a plague on a culture which should no longer be subject to “traditionalist” anti-Semitic canards about the death of Jesus. The “traditional” first step in anti-Semitism is to brand the Jews as vengeful “Christ-killers”, and The Passion does the job very well.

The twin attempts to malign Jews and their state- from Mel Gibson on the right to Islamist-supporters on the Left – have made antisemitism acceptable again We should all be passionate in fighting those hate-filled canards.

Book Review: An Apology for the Elimination of Israel

The goal of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics by Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnick is to make a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel stance part of the agenda of “progressive” American politics. The authors automatically deny the fact that the sovereign State of Israel has some just claims and ascribe moral superiority to the Palestinian cause.

The authors advocate “justice” for Palestinians as if this expression has a commonly agreed-upon meaning. Former Israeli chief of military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi described the real meaning of terms such as “peace on the basis of justice” as “the opposite pole to a peace or solution founded on…the fact of Israel’s existence. The just solution, according to this view, is the annulment of the wrong involved in the very existence of Israel and the restoration of Israel to its legal owners. Justice is a denial of Israel’s existence.”

Upon hearing the term “just peace,” a native English speaker would probably think of a reasonable compromise, whereas the commonly accepted meaning on the “Arab Street” would be the destruction of Israel. Thus, the slogan “Justice for Palestine” becomes a truly outstanding example of “doublespeak.” Therefore, Hill and Plitnick’s manifesto really is not a plea for justice for the Palestinians, as it would normally be understood.

Arab Anti-Zionists Attack Prominent French Institute for Cooperating With Israel in Widely Praised ‘Jews of the Orient’ Exhibition

A Paris-based institute founded by Arab countries to disseminate information about the Arab world has come under attack by supporters of the anti-Zionist “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) campaign over an exhibition it is currently hosting dedicated to the Jewish communities of the Middle East.

Earlier this month, 52 Arab intellectuals signed a letter of protest addressed to the Institut du Monde Arabe (“Institute of the Arab World,” or IMA) concerning the “Jews of the Orient” exhibition that was opened at the end of November by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The focus of the letter’s ire was the participation of Israeli institutions, among them the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, in providing content for the exhibition at the IMA’s imposing headquarters on the Left Bank of the French capital. As well as Israel, museums and research centers in France, the UK, Morocco, Spain and the US have provided manuscripts, photographs, paintings and other materials illustrating the religious and cultural life of the Arab world’s Jewish communities.

The letter attacked the Israeli academic Denis Charbit, a member of the exhibition’s organizing committee, for reportedly hailing the participation of Israeli institutions as a fruit of the historic peace accords signed in 2020 between Israel and several Arab nations. Those nations were among the eighteen Arab countries that in 1987 established the IMA, which is home to a museum, a library, a restaurant and other attractions.

Asserting that the IMA “would betray its intellectual mission” by “normalizing” and “standardizing” cooperation with Israel, the letter denounced attempts “to present Israel and its regime of settler colonialism and apartheid as a normal state.”

Cricklewood Muslim Youth Trust appears to describe Jews and Christians as “enemies of Allah” and warns followers to stay away from them

Cricklewood Muslim Youth Trust has appeared in a social media post to describe Jews and Christians as “enemies of Allah” and warn its followers to stay away from them.

The organisation, which functions as a bookshop and is promoted by Brent Council, shared a post reading: “Keep away from the enemies of Allaah [sic] the Jews & Christians on their day of gathering during their festivities, for verily the anger (of Allaah) descends upon them and I fear that you will (also) be afflicted with it.”

The quotation is attributed to Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, the second Rashidun Caliph, and is featured in Al-Bayhaqi Fi Shu’ab Al-Emaan, a collection of Hadiths compiled by Imam Al-Bayhaqi.

The image in the tweet was captioned: “Be warned of having any sort of involvement in the celebrations of the unbelievers, let alone Christmas whereby it is claimed that Allaah has begotten a son! Lest you may be afflicted with the anger of Allaah along with them!”

Cricklewood Muslim Youth Trust describes itself as “a charitable trust based in North West London who work for the benefit and enlightenment of the local community.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism shall be writing to Brent Council and the Charity Commission.

Sheffield Hallam University investigating PhD student who defended the phrase “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust”

Sheffield Hallam University is reportedly investigating a PhD student who defended the phrase “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust”.

Shahd Abusalama, who is studying for a PhD in cinema at the University, reportedly shared tweets defending a first-year student who had made a poster that said “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust” and who was accused by a Jewish student of antisemitism.

According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, which Sheffield Hallam has adopted, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is an example of antisemitism.

On social media, Ms Abusalama defended the student by citing Jewish individuals who have made the same analogy, and also wrote: “I understand why a first-year university student used #Holocaust when thinking of Israel’s repeated bombardment of Gaza”, adding: “Maybe she thought she’d garner European sympathy for Palestine by evoking ‘Never Again’ slogan.”

She noted of the term “Holocaust” that she herself would not “use such a politicised word often used to justify the racist state of Israel” because it “distracts attention from the Zionist practices of settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.” However, she proceeded to use other inflammatory terms and claimed that the suggestion that the University’s Palestine Society should undertake antisemitism training in light of the incident was indicative of a “hierarchy of racisms” asking: “Are Islamophobia & Xenophobia insignificant? Prioritising one form of racism over others is itself racist and divisive.”

The University reportedly said that its student conduct team is investigating the PhD student’s social media posts.

This is not the first time that Ms Abusalama has courted controversy. She is active in the BDS movement to boycott Israel, the tactics of which an overwhelming majority of British Jews find intimidating, and in the past she reportedly urged people to watch a video on YouTube called “Truth About Zionist Jews Talmud”, which presented numerous antisemitic myths about the Talmud. The video’s description asked “Why the Zionist don’t want us to know what’s in Talmud? [sic],” adding: “Why they want the teaching of the Talmud to be known only to Jews.”

Rebuilding Trust in Media: HonestReporting’s Year in Review

Any constructive conversation about the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a fully informed public. When presented with all the facts, it becomes possible to have an exchange of ideas that brings Israelis and Palestinians together. Yet prominent media outlets around the world all too often fail in their basic duty to present the entire story, free of partisanship, to readers.

This phenomenon not only hurts Israel. The absence of truth, integrity and fairness in journalism hinders people’s ability to accurately comprehend the world around them.

That’s where HonestReporting comes in. Since 2000, we have made it our mission to analyze stories, articles, opinion pieces and images that appear in the media’s coverage of the Jewish state. Our Jerusalem-based editorial team constantly exposes and responds to inaccuracies and bias, all with a view towards combatting ideological prejudice in reporting.

You can read more about our mission here. Below, is a brief overview of our accomplishments in 2021 — and a sneak peek of what’s ahead in the coming year.

Over the last 12 months, we published some 200 news critiques and 60 educational articles on our completely revamped website, HonestReporting.com, with a combined reach of over 1.6 million unique visitors. In addition, we produced over 70 videos that were viewed millions of times across online platforms.

On social media, we reached new heights, with HonestReporting recently having hit the milestone of 40,000 followers on Twitter. This year, our tweets received no less than 11.8 million impressions. Meanwhile, our Facebook page sports 80,000 supporters. More than 12,500 people have subscribed to our YouTube channel.

And the media are taking note. Recently, a senior official in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confided in us by saying that one of the things journalists fear the most is being called out by HonestReporting. ​Our constructive criticism in 2021 prompted many corrections from outlets like The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, NBC News and others.

Muslim media analyst who advises BBC on coverage of Islam apologises for sharing extract from antisemite Gilad Atzmon’s book

A Muslim media analyst who advises the BBC on coverage of Islam has reportedly apologised for sharing an extract from a book by the antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Faisal Hanif, who words at the Centre for Media Monitoring, which is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain and has advised the BBC on its coverage of Islam, shared an extract from Mr Atzmon’s book, Being in Time, which has been described as “profoundly antisemitic”. The extract itself did not contain antisemitic passages.

Mr Hanif apologised for sharing the post, admitting that it was an error “both professionally and personally to fail to check Mr Atzmon’s wider views.”

He said: “I stand opposed to all forms of racism including antisemitism and Islamophobia. I came across a blog post by Gilad Atzmon which was clearly not antisemitic and was comparing right and left ideology when I was researching the corrosive impact of the far right. While I took the blog post at face value at the time, I was unaware that Gilad Atzmon himself was profoundly antisemitic.”

Mr Atzmon is an antisemite who has reportedly blamed the Grenfell Tower tragedy on “Jerusalemites” as well as reportedly telling university students that “the Jews were expelled from Germany for misbehaving.” He is not shy about his antisemitism, telling a Jewish Twitter user in 2014: “I am not a Jew any more. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left). I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”

AP, Los Angeles Times Obscure Hamas’ Cross-Border Aggression

For the second time in a month, The Los Angeles Times degraded an already problematic Associated Press headline. Yesterday’s imperfect Associated Press headline was “Israel strikes Gaza after gunfire wounds civilian near fence.”

The headline can use improvement. AP’s headline presents events in reverse chronological order, starting with Israel’s retaliatory strike on Hamas position, followed by the initial Hamas aggression which had prompted the Israeli response.

The AP’s inconsistency in adequately identifying the subjects is also objectionable. “Israel strikes” is clear: Israel is the actor. “Gunfire wounds” is less clear. Whose gunfire? It’s Hamas’ gunfire, but AP doesn’t say. Why the double standard? Nor does AP’s headline identify the wounded civilian as Israeli.

The accompanying article also buries the chronology of events and their causal relationship.

Ilan Ben Zion’s article begins:
An Israeli and three Palestinians were wounded on Wednesday in the first exchange of fire in months on the Gaza frontier. The violence came as Israel announced measures aimed at improving living conditions in the occupied West Bank after a rare meeting of top officials.

Not until the third paragraph does the article disclose that the unspecified “exchange of fire” began when Hamas fired on an Israeli civilian on Israel’s side of the border.

The Israeli military said a civilian near the security fence was lightly wounded by gunfire from Gaza, and that it responded with tank fire at multiple military positions manned by the Hamas militant group, which has ruled the territory since 2007. The Gaza Health Ministry said three Palestinians were wounded, without saying if they were civilians or fighters.

Editors of The Los Angeles Times’ print edition weren’t content with AP’s less than straightforward headline about Hamas’ violent attack. They further concealed Hamas culpability with the uninformative page-one headline today: “Exchange of fire on Gaza frontier leaves 4 injured.”

At the Guardian, anti-Israel narratives trump women’s rights

Whilst the question over whether or not the Israeli court decision is just is, of course, far outside the scope of this blog, the Guardian’s coverage of the story is noteworthy for two reasons.

First, as is so often the case with media criticism of Israel, the journalist evidently failed to explore a basic question: Are such laws unique to Israel? This is especially relevant in that, based on the quote by the US State Department cited in the paragraph above, readers would likely come away believing that such measures preventing fathers who owe child support from leaving a country are unheard of in other democratic states.

However, similar restrictions exists in the United States, where “if you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport”. This means that you’re not eligible to receive a first passport, or to renew an existing passport, if you owe $2,500 or more in support. In some situations, an existing US passport can even be revoked.

Here’s the relevant US bill, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, coined the ‘deadbeat parents’ law.

BBC radio framing of the Golan Heights development plan

Regular readers are no doubt familiar with the BBC’s penchant for erasing history prior to June 1967 in reports relating to Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria and the Golan Heights. That indulgent omission was once again on display in several radio reports aired over the slow news holiday period of December 26th and 27th. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Listeners to the December 26th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ were told (from 08:50 here) that:
Newsreader: “The Israeli government has approved a plan to double the population of the Golan Heights – territory captured from Syria more than 50 years ago and later annexed. In 2019 the United States became the first country to recognise the Golan as Israeli and most of the world still considers it occupied land. Speaking at a cabinet meeting there, Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett said more than £200 million would be allocated for the development of two new communities.”

Mr Bennett did not say that “more than £200 million would be allocated for the development of two new communities”. As reported by the Times of Israel:
“Some NIS 576 million ($183 million) [£136 million] will be allocated for housing planning — about 3,300 new housing units in Katzrin and another 4,000 in the Golan Regional Council — within five years.

Another NIS 160 million ($51 million) is to be invested in infrastructure and transportation, to improve the quality of life in the Golan Heights.”

Later the same day, listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ heard an item (which did include useful analysis by a guest, from 18:36 here) introduced by presenter Rob Young as follows:
Young: “Now to the Middle East where the Israeli government has approved a plan that aims to double the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied Golan Heights. Israel captured the territory from Syria in 1967 and annexed it in 1981. Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett announced a vast investment plan that, he said, would transform the area.”

No evidence was provided to support the BBC’s claim that the plan to increase the population of the Golan Heights is limited to “Jewish settlers” rather than all Israelis.

Vienna seeks to confront its past with exhibition of art created under Nazi regime

In a Vienna museum, Nazi-era art crams two small rooms, some still in storage boxes. A painting of Vienna’s opera features Nazi flags, a swastika is woven into a tapestry.

The pieces are part of an exhibit in the Austrian capital aiming to shed light on the politics of art under the Third Reich — one of the latest ways in which Vienna is seeking to address its complicated war-era past.

Austria, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, long cast itself as a victim after being annexed by Nazi Germany. Only in the past three decades has the country begun to examine seriously its role in the Holocaust.

The exhibit’s curators are hoping their research will help in that process — but they have been careful not to give the artworks too much of an “aura.”

Austria had a Jewish population of 200,000 before Nazi Germany annexed the country in 1938. More than 65,000 of them were killed in the Holocaust.

Instead of being displayed on the museum’s large walls, the works are packed into just two rooms, as if in a warehouse.

“This can’t be like other exhibitions in the classical sense… it had to be broken up,” curator Ingrid Holzschuh told AFP.

‘Racist vision’
The show came about after four years of research by Holzschuh and fellow curator Sabine Plakolm-Forsthuber, who combed through the membership files of 3,000 artists who officially belonged to the Reich’s artistic association after the Nazi annexation.

Two Years After Antisemitic Monsey Attack, Killer May Return to New York

Two years after a deadly antisemitic attack on a Hanukkah gathering in Monsey, New York, survivors and the Jewish community are still recovering, even as the assailant may be returned to New York for placement in a mental health facility.

Rabbi Josef Neumann, 72, was killed in the December 2019 machete attack, while five others were wounded.

Neumann, who lingered in an irreversible coma for several months before dying, was remembered by a survivor as “one of the most selfless people I know” and an “incredibly kind human being.”

“Since I knew him, he was a very poor man,” Yisroel Kraus said. “He never had a dime to his name and always goes around collecting money for other poor families. It was never about himself.”

The killer, Grafton Thomas, 39, has criminal charges pending, but has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial several times.

“The Orthodox Jewish community is still under the influence of that terrible winter night,” local legislator Aron Weider said on the second anniversary of the attack, The Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.

“It is on our minds and weighs heavy on our conscience,” he said. “It is of small comfort that the suspect is no longer on the streets.”

Belgian soccer fans filmed giving Nazi salutes, singing ‘Jews to the gas’

Dozens of soccer fans in Antwerp, Belgium, were filmed giving Nazi salutes while chanting about Hamas and gassing and burning Jews.

Police are investigating the videos, which appeared on social media earlier this week. The incident appeared to have taken place at or outside Café Stadion, a restaurant near a soccer stadium.

The men chanted: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews ’cause Jews burn the best,” as well as “Hamas, Jews to the gas” while making the Nazi salutes. They appear to be fans of the Beerschot soccer team of Antwerp, the Gazet van Antwerpen reported.

Such soccer chants occur regularly in Europe, and in the Netherlands and Belgium especially, ahead of matches between teams that fans of rival soccer clubs label as “Jewish.” Sometimes, as in the case of the Ajax team of Amsterdam, supporters of those teams call themselves and their teams Jewish.

But in recent years, these soccer chants increasingly have been occurring also outside the context of sports, including at a graduation party of high school students in the Netherlands in 2016.

Swastikas Graffitied at Borough Park Playground, as Antisemitic Hate Crimes Surge in NYC

New York City police are investigating the graffitiing of two swastikas at a playground in Borough Park, amid a surge in antisemitic hate crimes this year.

The offensive symbols were discovered Sunday afternoon on a structure at Gravesend Park and reported to the voluntary neighborhood patrol group Boro Park Shomrim, who contacted the NYPD, according to a local outlet.

The incident, occurring in one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States, prompted condemnations from New York City leaders.

“Despicable hateful symbols will not be tolerated in our neighborhoods, nor any other neighborhood for that matter,” New York City Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein told a local paper on Sunday. “Those responsible will be found and brought to justice. I want to thank Boro Park Shomrim for their swift response to this latest antisemitic incident.”

On Twitter, Assemblyman David Schwartz said swastikas represent “humanity’s darkest chapter in history. It’s outrageous that this is what we have to deal with in a neighborhood with so many Holocaust survivors.”

Antisemitic hate crimes in New York City are up by more than 50 percent compared to last year, with 183 incidents logged in 2021, the NYPD reported earlier this month. Overall, hate crimes in the city have doubled since 2020.

Woman arrested for throwing stones at Jewish school in London

A woman was arrested for throwing stones at a Jewish school in the neighborhood of Stamford Hill, London. The incident, which took place on December 26 and was recorded by CCTV footage, was brought to the attention of the Stamford Hill Shomrim.

According to the Shomrim, the woman had been throwing rocks into a Jewish school playground while it was filled with children. She was soon arrested by police.

Viral Photo Challenge Shows Solidarity With Jewish Man Assaulted For Wearing IDF Sweatshirt

Social media users are posting photos of themselves wearing shirts with the emblem of the Israel Defense Forces, in a show of solidarity with a Jewish man who was assaulted and called a “dirty Jew” for sporting an IDF sweatshirt in Brooklyn on Sunday.

As part of the “#IDFShirtChallenge,” Disturbed lead singer David Draiman posted a picture of himself wearing a shirt with the IDF logo on Instagram on Tuesday. “We will not be intimidated,” wrote Draiman, who expressed “solidarity” with the victims of Sunday’s attack, and added, “#amyisraelchai.”

“Our existence is resistance,” menswear influencer Moti Ankari wrote on Twitter, captioning a photo of himself wearing an IDF shirt. Others participating in the photo challenge sported IDF attire in a variety of styles.

The social media campaign, promoted by the advocacy group StandWithUs, also garnered the attention of Jewish Democratic state legislator Alma Hernández from the Arizona House of Representatives. On Tuesday, she tweeted a photo of herself wearing a green hoodie with the IDF insignia, writing, “I will very proudly wear my @IDF sweater in public out on the streets, just like I always have. Tribe don’t let these #antisemites win don’t be scared and don’t ever be ashamed. ENOUGH WEAR YOUR STARS WHERE [sic] YOUR SWEATERS AND F THEM. I’m sick & tired of this #amYisraelChai.” She posted a similar photo on Twitter the following day.

Romanian ceremony honors Chilean diplomat who saved over 1,200 Jews in Holocaust

A group of diplomats and local Jewish leaders honored a late Chilean diplomat whose story of saving over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust is not widely known.

Samuel del Campo, who as a diplomat stationed in Romania during World War II issued Chilean and Polish passports to Jews who would have been deported to Nazi camps, was given a tribute at the Great Synagogue in Bucharest last Tuesday.

The ceremony was attended by the Chilean, Polish and Israeli ambassadors to Romania.

“The story and actions of Samuel del Campo in Romania as the Republic of Chile’s chargé d’affaires represent a light of human dignity in a moment of history in which everything was surrounded by darkness,” said Silviu Vexler, president of the Federation of the Jewish Communities of Romania and a member of Romanian parliament, in a speech.

A plaque in del Campo’s honor was unveiled at the synagogue.

Del Campo served as Chile’s chargé d’affaires in Bucharest between 1941 and 1943.

Coronavirus in Israel: Nearly 4,000 new cases, highest since September

As health officials and researchers warn of a mass infections chaos in the coming month, the Health Ministry passed preventative measures such as mandatory masks outdoors and the approval to administer the fourth vaccine for those with an immunosuppressed immune system. Health Ministry Dir.-Gen. Nachman Ash decided to hold off approving the fourth vaccine for people over 60 and for medical staff, contrary to the Management Team of Epidemics (MTE) recommendation on December 21 to do so.

The vaccine rollout depends on Ash’s approval. This is his first official approval of a fourth vaccine.

Kan New reported on Thursday that Hebrew University researchers are predicting that in less than two weeks, the new corona daily cases will hit 15,000-20,000. According to the report, by the end of January there will be 1,000-2,500 serious cases throughout the country.

As part of efforts to prepare for the new wave of infections, Israel’s order of Pfizer’s COVID oral antiviral pills – the world’s first at-home treatment for the virus – arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday. The drug inhibits the activity of the protease enzyme, which is necessary for the virus’s replication process in the body.

COVID-19: Israel receives first Pfizer pill shipment

The first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment pill Paxlovid landed in Israel on Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport.

“The Pfizer drug that is arriving in Israel today, among the first countries in the world, is an important addition to the arsenal in the war against the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, adding that Israel is one of the first countries in the world to purchase the pill. The deal was brokered by Bennett, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.

The pill comes as Omicron hits new daily case highs worldwide. Nearly 4,000 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in Israel on Thursday.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Bennett said the pills would arrive on Wednesday. The Health Ministry gave emergency authorization for the use of the pill on Sunday.

The drug is to be taken by patients in mild to moderate condition within the first three days of symptoms onset. Treatment is once every 12 hours for five days.

Netflix Series Co-Produced by Israel About ISIS Kidnapping Makes List of Top 10 International Shows

Netflix premiered earlier this month a Norwegian, Hebrew and English language series that has already made the streaming giant’s list of the top 10 most watched television shows around the world.

The first season of “The Girl From Oslo,” which premiered on Netflix on Dec. 19, revolves around the kidnapping of Pia, the daughter of a Norwegian diplomat named Alex, and two Israeli siblings by ISIS terrorists in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. In exchange for their release, the terrorists demand the release of 12 Palestinian prisoners and one Norwegian prisoner.

In an effort to save her daughter, Alex travels to Israel and pleads with her old friend Arik to get involved. The two met during the Oslo Accord talks in 1993 and he now holds a high-ranking government position.

“When her daughter is kidnapped, a Norwegian diplomat travels to the Middle East and takes advantage of her relationship with old friends – and a great secret – to try to free her,” said the official Netflix synopsis of the 10-episode Norwegian and Israeli show, which was previously titled “What Happened in Oslo.” The series’ Norwegian title is “Bortført (“The Abducted”) and its Hebrew title is “Azharat Masa” (“Travel advisory”).

During its first week on Netflix, “The Girl From Oslo” ranked fourth place on the platform’s list of the most watched non-English television shows globally. The series is also in the top 10 in 36 countries, including the United States, Turkey, Australia, Italy and Spain.

Israel approaches 9.5 million residents on eve of 2022

Israel has close to 9.5 million residents, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said in data released Thursday to mark the end of 2021.

According to the statistics, 9.449 million people live in Israel at the end of 2021. Of those, 6.982 million (74 percent) are Jewish, 1.99 million (21%) are Arab and 472,000 (5%) are neither.

The population of Israel grew 1.7% throughout 2020, said the CBS — identical to the rate last year. CBS noted that 83% of the increase came from natural growth and 17% from international migration.

At the end of 2020, Israel counted 9.29 million residents, and at the start of the Jewish New Year in September, that figure stood at 9.39 million.

Throughout 2021, 184,000 babies were born in Israel, with 74% born to Jewish families and 23% to Arab families.

The past year also saw the arrival of 25,000 new immigrants to Israel, as well as 9,000 noncitizens. Throughout 2020, 176,000 babies were born, and 20,000 people immigrated to Israel.

Among those who immigrated to Israel in 2021, a plurality (30%) came from Russia, followed by France (15%), the United States (14%) and Ukraine (12%). During 2020, 34,000 people immigrated to Israel, with 38% coming from Russia and 11% from the US.




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