September 20, 2018

German Festival Rescinds Invitation of Singer Musician Who Advocated for BDS

Screenshot from Facebook.

A German music festival has disinvited musician Brian Eno from performing at its upcoming event because he signed a Sept. 7 letter calling for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest to be boycotted because it will be held in Israel.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer had been scheduled to appear at October’s Electricity Conference in Düsseldorf and provide an exhibition of his video paintings as well as lead a workshop, but a key sponsor rescinded support for Eno’s appearance because of his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“We don’t want to invite anyone who supports activities against the State of Israel, even if you cannot agree with the current settlement policy,” Rüdiger Esch, an organizer for the Electricity Conference, told German newspaper Westdeutsche Zeitung.

Eno, as well as former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, were among the 140 artists who signed the letter, which was published in The Guardian. The letter stated, “Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights.”

Complaint Filed Against UK Charity Over Ties to Terrorism

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Lawfare Project and UK Lawyers for Israel filed a complaint on Wednesday against a British charity over its ties to terrorism and its anti-Israel activism.

The complaint states that the charity, War on Want, bills itself as a social justice organization that works to ameliorate poverty and inequality and fight for human rights, yet it has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been designated as a terror group by various Western countries.

The War on Want partners with various NGOs that have ties to the PFLP, such as Addameer, which has many various PFLP members. The War on Want has worked with Addameer in boycotting G4S, which has provided goods and services to Israeli prisons; they have also promoted a campaign advocated for the release of terrorists from Israeli prisons.

Additionally, the War on Want names Al Haq, which says it has been “Defending Human rights in Palestine since 1979,” as a partner of the organization in a booklet; Al Haq’s general director, Shawan Jabarin, is a part of PFLP leadership. Al Haq also champions the Palestinian Authority’s “pay-to-slay” policy of paying terrorists and their families to murder Israelis.

The War on Want also partners with the Palestinian BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] Committee, an umbrella organization for various entities with ties to a myriad of a Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad.

The complaint also argues that War on Want’s frequent activism against Israel through its promotion of the BDS movement – such as its campaign for Israeli Apartheid Week at British universities – is political activism with no connection to its stated charitable goals, noting that poverty in Gaza and the West Bank has improved “since Israel imposed various controls following Gaza’s takeover by the Hamas terrorist organization.”

The last point mentioned in the complaint is that the War on Want disseminates “misleading” information on the Israel/Palestinian complaint, including false statements about Israeli prisons being mired in “poor conditions” and referring to Palestinian terrorists as “political prisoners.”

“War on Want produces and disseminates false propaganda against Israel that misleads donors and other members of the public, stokes hatred of Israel and Jews, and encourages anti-Semitism, contrary to the public benefit,” the complaint concludes.

According to NGO Monitor, the War on Want faced a complaint from Jewish Human Rights Watch in 2016 due to its ties to terror and anti-Israel activism “that has no bearings on the object of charity.” The War on Want has frequently accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes” and advocates for Britain to cease arm sales to Israel.

N.Y. State Senate Candidate Faces Questions Over Claims of Jewish Ancestry

Photo from Twitter.

Julia Salazar, a member of Democratic Socialists of America who is running for the New York state senate and supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, faces questions over her claims that she is Jewish.

According to Tablet, Salazar has claimed that her father is of Sephardic Jewish descent and has frequently invoked her claim of Jewish heritage in her comments about Israel, such as stating in Mondoweiss in 2014: “Like most American Jews, I was raised with the delusion that Israel was a safe haven for me, perhaps even the only safe place for Jews.”

Salazar has also argued that the BDS movement is not inherently anti-Semitic, telling Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA): “The goal of BDS is to have some measurable effect in order to force the more powerful actor — the state [Israel] — to change course.”

Additionally, Salazar, under the name Julia Carmel, wrote in Mondoweiss that she was blocked from the Allendy border in Israel in 2014; she was also among the nine IfNotNow activists arrested in 2014 for engaging in civil disobedience protests against what Salazar deemed as the “assault on Gaza,” Operation Protective Edge.

However, the Tablet piece produced evidence calling Salazar’s Jewish ancestry into question, citing quotes from family members stating that no one in their family was Jewish:

“A 2009 funeral notice for her father, a former commercial airline pilot named Luis Hernan Salazar, indicates that the service was held at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. When reached by phone, Alex Salazar, the candidate’s older brother and the operator of a number of Florida mango farms, said that one of their father’s brothers was a Jesuit priest. (He also seemed to know very little about her campaign and seemed surprised when I told him she stood a good chance of winning.) ‘There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish … my father was not Jewish, we were not raised Jewish,’ he said. Their mother, Christine Salazar, indicated in a public September 2012 Facebook post that she planned on attending services at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a nondenominational evangelical church in downtown Brooklyn.”

The Tablet article also notes that in college Salazar was active in Christians United for Israel and has past tweets referencing Christianity, such as a 2012 tweet stating, “Follow #Christ for his own sake, if you plan to follow Him at all.”

Salazar lashed out at Tablet in response, tweeting, “I virtually never speak publicly about my religion unless media explicitly ask me about it. And that’s largely because I don’t enjoy subjecting myself to Tablet-esque race science, as a person from a mixed background.”

Salazar also told JTA she took a conversion class at Columbia-Barnard Hillel in 2012, where she “learned how to read Torah and had the option of going through a b’nai mitzvah ceremony (along with two other women who studied with me) but declined to do it.”

However, JTA noted that “Halachah, or Jewish law, however, considers someone Jewish if their mother was Jewish, if they converted under rabbinical authority or, in the Reform movement, if their only Jewish parent was their father.”

Salazar has also come under scrutiny for claiming on the campaign trail that she is a Colombian immigrant, however she has since admitted that she was born in Miami.

Salazar has been endorsed by New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Linda Sarsour.

Britain’s Corbyn Reportedly Met With Hamas Leaders in 2010

Photo from Wikipedia.

A recent report from i24 News states that UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Hamas leaders in 2010, back when he was a largely unknown member of parliament.

According to i24, Corbyn visited Hamas leaders Aziz Dweik, Mahmoud al Ramahi, Muna Saleem Mansour, Naser Abd El-Jawad and Omar Abdel Razeq in Ramallah, as well as Hamas leaders Ahmed Attoun, Khaled Abu-Arafah and Muhammad Totah in East Jerusalem. Corbyn did not meet with a single Jewish Israeli on his trip.

After the trip, Corbyn wrote in The Morning Star, “It is time to bring those Israelis who committed crimes against humanity to account and to end the EU [European Union] Israel Trade Agreement while the occupation and settlement policy continues.”

The trip was funded by Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and Friends of Al-Aqsa. The aforementioned groups provided Corbyn with £927 ($1,500), well above the £660 ($840) gift threshold in which MPs have to report to parliament. But Corbyn never reported the trip to parliament.

The i24 report is the latest in a series of Palestinian terror-related controversies for Corbyn. Photos unearthed by the UK Daily Mail showed Corbyn laying a wreath at a Tunisia ceremony commemorating the 1972 Munich terrorists. An August 21 Daily Mail report showed photos of Corbyn in 2015 speaking to Hamas supporters in Parliament, including one Hamas supporter who said he wished he could conduct a suicide bombing for “Palestine.”

Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian praised Corbyn and the Labour Party for being “principled” on their watered-down anti-Semitism rules. Hamas said they “Salute Jeremy Corbyn’s supportive positions to the Palestinians.”

University of Arizona Hires Hezbollah Supporter to Teach Course on Politics

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New documents obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the University of Arizona is paying Noam Chomsky, a long-time critic of Israel who has praised Hezbollah, at least $62,500 a year to teach a political course for the university.

According to Judicial Watch, Chomsky was initially brought on as a guest lecturer, and then became a part-time “consultant” for the university, where he was paid $10,000 per lecture and was only required to show up for six lectures. The university then signed Chomsky to a three-year deal from 2017-2020 with annual salary of $250,000; the average yearly salary for a full-time engineering professor at UA is $80,000. The university disputes the $250,000 figure, claiming that Chomsky will only receive 25 percent ($62,500) of that salary.

Chomsky is teaching a general education course at the university called “What Is Politics?”, a general education course that discusses “political analysis” and “how governments differ” as well as giving seminars on linguistics.

Chomsky has long been a critic of Israel. In 2014, he told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman in 2014, “In the Occupied Territories, what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel.” Chomsky also said that interview that he is “strongly supportive” of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

His criticism for Israel goes as far as expressing support for the Hezbollah terror group; in 2006, Chomsky said that “Hezbollah’s insistence on keeping its arms is justified” after he met with the terror group in Lebanon.

“I think [Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan] Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and [a] persuasive argument that they [the arms] should be in the hands of Hezbollah as a deterrent to potential aggression, and there is plenty of background reasons for that,” Chomsky said.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) points out, shortly after Chomsky’s comments Hezbollah launched “an unprovoked attack on Israel.”

Additionally, UK Media Watch’s Adam Levick noted in an Algemeiner column that Chomsky recently told the UK Independent, “Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done.” Levick also cited past statements from Chomsky in which he claimed that anti-Semitism is only an issue because “Jews in the US are the most privileged and influential part of the population” and that “Hitler’s conceptions have struck a responsive chord in current Zionist commentary.”

Chris Sigurdson, The UA’s vice president of communications, has defended the decision to have Chomsky teach a class by arguing that the campus has frequently hosted conservative speakers, such as filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza.

Palestinian Congressional Candidate Has Made A Litany of Anti-Israel Statements

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A Palestinian congressional candidate is being celebrated as the presumptive first Muslim woman to be elected to Congress. She also has a lengthy list of anti-Israel comments, as first reported by Algemeiner and The Daily Wire.

Rashida Tlaib, whose parents are from the West Bank, served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives before winning the Democratic primary on August 7 for the seat vacated by former Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). No Republicans are challenging Tlaib for the seat, meaning Tlaib will be Conyers’ successor.

Tlaib’s history of anti-Israel statements include the following:

· Linking to an article on Twitter with the headline “How Israel Is Inciting Palestinian Violence” and writing, “This article is on point. I have witnessed it myself.”

· Tweeting support for Rasmea Odeh, who faces a life sentence in Israeli for murdering two American students in a 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem.

· Tweeting that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meant that Harris is no longer “part of the resistance to racism against ALL people.”

· Telling The New York Times that her Palestinian roots give her “strength” and that she “will fight back against racist and oppressive structure that needs to be dismantled” as she adorned a Palestinian flag.

Additionally, a key donor of Tlaib’s, Maher Abdelqader, once called for former President Obama to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and celebrated a former Syrian Catholic bishop who funneled weapons to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as a “freedom fighter,” according to the Algemeiner.

In addition to her anti-Israel statements, Tlaib is an avowed socialist and has been endorsed by J Street.

Pro-Palestinian Group Disputes Booker’s Claim He Didn’t Know About Anti-Israel Sign

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has faced some heat for posing with a sign that read “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go.” Booker’s spokesperson has said that Booker didn’t read the sign; now the pro-Palestinian group associated with the sign is disputing that claim.

Here is the picture of Booker with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) sign at the recent Netroots Nation conference:

Booker’s spokesperson, Jeff Giertz, told Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Booker “didn’t have time to read the sign.”

“From his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel,” Giertz said.

However, the USCPR told The Intercept that Booker had to have known what the sign said because they spoke to him prior to taking the photo.

“It was in this overwhelmingly supportive environment at Netroots Nation that our contingent had the opportunity to meet Sen. Cory Booker briefly and discuss our work for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people before posing for a photo with him,” a representative for the pro-Palestinian group said.

The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani also pointed out that one of the USCPR members was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the line, “Palestine is a queer, feminist, refugee, racial justice issue.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to Booker’s photo by touting the Israeli security fence for having “successfully halted suicide bombers” and asking the senator to clarify his stance on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“We understand that the senator does not fully grasp what the sign said, but he is a leading American political figure who has been touted as a future President of our nation,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement. “Therefore, The Simon Wiesenthal Center respectfully asks Senator Booker to clarify his stance on the anti-Israel BDS campaigns and on the anti-terrorist barriers that Israel has constructed.”

Booker has previously spoken in front of and taken money from pro-Israel groups, but has differed from them lately with his support of the Iran nuclear deal and vote against the Taylor Force Act, as well as a bill that prevents United States companies from engaging in the BDS movement.

Faculty Initiatives on Israel Help to Shift the Campus Climate

On-campus BDS campaigns in 2017-18 were notable for their extremist rhetoric and isolating actions. Everything from a coalition of pro-boycott groups refusing to collaborate with Jewish and pro-Israel organizations at NYU, to a demand from pro-BDS students at SUNY Stony Brook that the campus Hillel be removed and replaced by a “proper Jewish organization…that doesn’t support Israel,” to a mob of pro-BDS protesters shutting down a student government meeting at UCSB. There is little indication that this upcoming year will see any downturn in this poisonous discourse – indeed, a Stanford University student recently stepped down as a resident assistant after threatening to “physically fight [Z]ionists” on campus.

Organizations combating BDS have a difficult road ahead in responding to these campaigns. “Fighting fire with fire” is often a divisive, exhausting and even traumatic process for many students, and might also lead to the perception among the vast majority of students who are indifferent to these issues on campus that the pro-Israel side is morally equivalent to its opponents. On the other hand, allowing campaigns filled with ugly rhetoric, double standards, and unsubstantiated claims about Israel to go unanswered would be to give pro-BDS activists an undeserved victory.

One way of transcending this dilemma is to leverage the role of supportive faculty. Unlike undergraduate students, who generally experience campus life for only four or five years, faculty have institutional knowledge, ties to administrators and other stakeholders, and, in many cases, academic expertise in relevant fields. Faculty can mentor pro-Israel students, advise on strategy and tactics and develop innovative educational programming. They can help students become more effective advocates, and shift perceptions of Israel through education, research, and dialogue. The knowledge, experience, and general role of faculty give them the unique ability to positively impact the campus climate in the longer term, beyond the momentary drama created by a divestment vote in student government or a hostile speaker invited by a pro-BDS group.

Indeed, faculty members affiliated with the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) have been doing exactly this for the last few years. With the assistance of AEN’s resources, they developed coursework on various aspects of Israeli history, politics, and society. They hosted speakers on topics ranging from the history of the BDS movement to contemporary Israeli film, leading to increased engagement and interest among students and faculty. They wrote op-eds in response to student BDS campaigns, highlighting the factual inaccuracies in the claims made by BDS supporters and emphasizing the pernicious impact of BDS on the campus climate.

They are also using the occasion of Israel’s 70th year of statehood to develop innovative programs showcasing Israel’s achievements, diversity, and complexity. In Spring 2018, AEN members hosted a talk on Israeli politics and the U.S.-Israel relationship by a former editor of AIPAC’s Near East Report at Ball State University; a lecture on national identity in Israeli art from the pre-Statehood period at USC by Dalia Manor, director and chief curator of the Negev Museum of Art and Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures; and a dialogue between two thought leaders, liberal and conservative, on current events in Israel at Ursinus College. More ambitious events are planned for the upcoming academic year, including a convening of over 30 Israel Studies scholars in a two-day-long program on modern Israel at Michigan State University, an exhibit featuring original historical artifacts from the era of the founding of Israel at UCLA, and a one-day symposium on Israel-India relations at Northeastern Illinois University.

All of these programs give students, faculty, and the broader community the opportunity to engage with Israel in innovative and academically rigorous ways. Particularly in a time of ugly, polarized discourse, there could be no greater rebuke to the BDS movement and its goals.


Raeefa Shams is Senior Communications Associate at the Academic Engagement Network, an organization of over 600 faculty members who oppose the BDS movement, support freedom of speech, and promote robust discussion of Israel on campus. She is based in Washington, DC.

Sen. Cory Booker Takes Picture With Anti-Israel Group’s Sign, Claims He Didn’t Read the Sign

Screenshot from Twitter.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is widely seen as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, took a picture with an anti-Israel organization’s sign. He later claimed he didn’t read the sign.

Booker took the picture at the yearly progressive Netroots Nation conference and held a sign that read, “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go”:

 

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights invented the aforementioned pro-Palestinian slogan; standing next to Booker on his left is Leah Muskin-Pirret, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ government associate.

Jeff Giertz, a spokesperson for Booker, told Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that Booker didn’t know the sign was anti-Israel in nature.

“He didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel,” Giertz said. “He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Booker has previously spoken at pro-Israel groups, however his support for the Iran nuclear deal and his vote against the Taylor Force Act in 2017 have put him at odds with some in the pro-Israel community.

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, according to a Tablet exposé, is the “American umbrella group of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement” and has funneled its money toward Islamic terror groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights has also celebrated convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh:

Lawfare Project Threatens to File Lawsuit Against Irish BDS Bill If It Becomes Law

Photo from Flickr.

The Lawfare Project has threatened to file lawsuit against the Irish government if they a recently passed Senate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) bill becomes law.

On July 11, the Irish Senate passed a bill that would criminalize the importation and sale of goods from Israeli settlements by a margin of 25 lawmakers in favor, 20 against and 14 abstaining. Those in violation would have to pay a fine or serve up to five years in prison.

The Lawfare Project explained in a press release that such a law would have detrimental ramifications on several American businesses in Ireland – Apple being among them – and would therefore violate American boycott laws.

“We are determined to expose the illegality of the Irish boycott bill under European law, as well as the unnecessary damage that it will inflict on U.S. companies operating in Ireland,” Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said. “Commercial discrimination on the basis of nationality is shameful in any form, but it is particularly frightening when it emanates from the halls of government—from the same lawmakers who were elected to protect the legal rights of their constituents. We will do everything in our power to prevent this unprecedented state-sanctioned discrimination from becoming law in Ireland.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has also issued a statement slamming the bill.

“The absurdity in the course of the Irish Senate is that the boycott will harm the livelihood of many Palestinians working in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott, and Israel will consider its steps in accordance with the developments in this legislation,” the statement read.

Jewish BDS Activist Barred from Israel

Screenshot from Facebook.

In a twist of irony, a prominent Jewish Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist has been barred from Israel and she is now whining about it.

The activist, Code Pink co-director Ariel Gold, stated on Facebook that she was turned away from Ben-Gurion Airport and sent back to New York. She claimed that she was hoping to immerse herself into Judaic studies, however, according to the Times of Israel, Israeli officials believe that she was only coming to the country to further the BDS cause.

“Whoever acts for a boycott of Israel and comes here to cause damage, will not enter the country,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted.

In an op-ed for The Forward, Gold stood behind her support for BDS “as a nonviolent means to achieve a just and peaceful end to the 70-year-long oppression of Palestinians.”

“At no point during my interrogation in the Ben Gurion airport was I even asked about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,” Gold wrote. “I was asked about the organization CODEPINK, of which I am the national co-director, and which endorses BDS, but this was only after they interrogated me about filming soldiers and knowing Palestinians.”

She also accused Israel of only welcoming Jews “who either support occupation and the right-wing settler agenda, or are willing to be quiet.”

According to Canary Mission, Gold has been arrested for participating in violent Palestinian riots and preventing people from entering American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC)’s conference. Gold also took a photo of herself and another Code Pink member with a #BoycottIsrael banner at the Western Wall.

Gold has also said that she is teaching her children that Zionism is “a racist ideology rooted in ethnic cleansing.”

Back in January, Israel issued a list of 20 BDS organization that were blacklisted from entering Israel. Among those is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Gold is an organizer for them.

Spanish Court Bars City Councils from Boycotting Israel

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A Spanish court struck a blow against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with a recent ruling declaring that it is illegal for city councils in the country to boycott Israel.

According to a press release from The Lawfare Project, which spearheaded legal action against BDS in this case, The High Court of Justice in Astrurias, located in the northwest region of Spain, nullified a resolution passed by the City Council of Catrillion that boycotted “Israel, Israeli businesses and companies doing business with Israel in August last year.”

“The successes we’re achieving are setting legal precedents that not only offer protection to Jewish communities but to every other minority,” Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement. “We’ve been working in Spain for almost two years. We’ve seen that however the vicious, anti-Israel BDS campaign disguises itself, time and again it is hitting the rocks of the rock solid constitutional guarantees and legal standards of the Spanish courts.”

Lawfare Project Spanish Counsel Ignacio Wenley Palacios said in a statement, “After our string of court victories, the boycott campaign doesn’t dare use its name in Spain but hides behind motions passed in city, provincial, and regional councils that use loaded, discriminatory language. Or they run new sub-campaigns such as the ‘Space Free of Israeli Apartheid,’ or petitions for an arms embargo of Israel. In due course, these, too, will be rejected by the courts, which uphold solid legal traditions of fair play, individual freedoms, and strict accountability of government offices.”

This is the latest in a string of recent victories for The Lawfare Project against BDS in Spain, as there have been 28 BDS resolutions nullified by the courts in Spain since June 2017.

German Festival Cancels Scottish Band Over Anti-Israel Rhetoric

Screenshot from Facebook.

The German music festival Ruhrtriennale has canceled the band Young Fathers from performing on August 18 due to its anti-Israel rhetoric.

The band, Young Fathers, has been an active supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, as in 2017 they refused to play in a German festival because one of the performing bands received a donation from the Israeli embassy. They also pressured Radiohead to not perform in Israel.

The Ruhrtriennale website published a press release stating that they asked Young Fathers to back away from BDS, but they refused to do so, leading to the festival canceling the band’s performance.

“The Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign,” Stefanie Carp, the artistic director of Ruhrtriennale, said in the press release. “We have therefore decided to cancel the concert. We regret this immensely, because the Young Fathers would have set an important tone in the program of the Ruhrtriennale.”

Young Fathers told Artists for Palestine UK that the cancelation did indeed happen and stood behind the BDS movement as being “nonviolent and non-racist” and claimed that Israel has committed “grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

Recent reports have linked the BDS movement to terror groups and studies have shown that violence has increased on college campuses following the growth of BDS.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry Identifies 42 Anti-Israel Organizations With Terror Ties

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The Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry has identified 42 anti-Israel organizations that have ties to Islamic terror groups.

Israel Hayom reports that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has spent two years determining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) “network of hatred” that features operatives from Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) taking active roles in BDS organizations.

For instance, Al Haq, which bills itself as a human rights organization, is run by Shawan Jabarin, who was imprisoned in Israel for serving as a PFLP terrorist. The Palestinian Return Center, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al-Aqsa all have members that participated in the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

The 42 organizations are all under the umbrella of the BDS National Committee.

This comes on the heels of an exposé from Tablet explaining that The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, the umbrella of the American BDS movement, donates money to the BDS National Committee, which has financial ties to Hamas, PFLP and Islamic Jihad.

“Terrorist organizations and the BDS movement have never been ‎closer, ideologically and operationally,” Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said at a recent conference. “I will continue to lead a ‎counterattack against the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic hate ‎campaign emanating from Gaza and Ramallah.”

Jewish Groups Praise Bill Protecting Businesses from BDS

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A coalition of Jewish organizations has praised a bill put forward by a couple of Republican congressman that would protect businesses from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The bill, titled The Export Administration Anti-Discrimination Act (EAADA), updates the 1979 Export Administration Act, which outlaws boycotts of countries and businesses “friendly” to the U.S. The EAADA amends the EAA so boycotts that affect a country that is not subjected to United States sanctions are outlawed. The EAADA also allows private organizations harmed by such boycotts to take legal action.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who introduced the EAADA, said in a statement: “The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement has weaponized economic activity to purposefully inflict financial harm on Israel. Americans and our allies alike deserve the freedom to conduct business without the perpetual threat of discriminatory boycotts.”

“U.S. policy should reflect strong opposition to those who seek to isolate our allies and cause economic damage to countries such as Israel. The Export Administration Anti-Discrimination Act will strengthen current law and modernize important anti-boycott protections.”

Supporters of the EAADA include the World Jewish Congress (WJC), The Lawfare Project, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action and the Rabbinical Council of America.

“I would like to thank Congressmen Ron DeSantis and Chairman Bob Goodlatte for putting forward this important legislation that will combat the BDS movement, which is rearing its ugly head all over the world,” WJC President Ronald Lauder said in a statement. “The legislation being advanced does not in any way infringe one’s right to free speech, but it does ensure that those who engage in commercial discrimination on the basis of someone’s national origin will face consequences for that repugnant behavior. I urge members of both parties to sign onto this bill to assure its passage and enactment into law.”

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project, said in a statement that the bill was “a commonsense way of improving and better enforcing current laws.”

“The EAA was passed nearly 40 years ago,” Goldstein said. “This bill updates that important legislation to provide clarity and close loopholes that prevent discriminatory boycotts targeting American allies like Israel.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council is considering an expansion of its blacklist of companies that do business with Israel.

Signs of Anti-Semitism In University of Michigan Divestment Resolution

Screenshot from Facebook.

In November 2017, University of Michigan’s student government passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies that conduct business in Israel. A new report now highlights the anti-Semitism that permeates the organizations and individuals responsible for its passage.

The pro-Israel watchdog Canary Mission explained in their report that the resolution was mainly pushed by an organization called Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), which describes itself as a “Palestinian solidarity group” through their #UMDivest campaign.

Throughout their campaign, SAFE repeatedly denied that the resolution had anything to do with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, even though they used four BDS activists to help push through the resolution. One of the activists that spoke at a hearing about the resolution, Sabry Wazwaz, “has a history of tweeting anti-Jewish imagery, conspiracy theories and imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany,” per the report.

“At the meeting, Wazwaz compared Palestinians in Israel to Jews killed by the Nazi regime,” the report states. “He had just three months earlier tweeted: ‘#ZionismIsNazism.’”

The report also noted that SAFE frequently denied charges of anti-Semitism, citing their condemnation of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. However, a Jewish student said at the hearing that she had “heard SAFE supporters laughing behind me as my peer talked about his fear of wearing a kippa around campus.”

The report concludes by highlight SAFE activists who have engaged in the demonization of Israel, such as activist Arwa Gayar accusing Israel of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”

SAFE has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

The full report can be read here.

Report: BDS Has Ties to Terror Groups

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) ties to terrorism have officially been exposed in a June 1 report from Tablet.

The report explains that The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, which is “the American umbrella group of the BDS movement,” funneled tax-exempt donations to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which has funded and worked with terror groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Under the legal name of the Education for Just Peace in the Middle East, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights used its “fiscal sponsorship” of BNC “to temporarily extend their privileges as a nonprofit” to that organization.

“The BNC is located far from U.S. soil, and it is unclear that the US Campaign has much say on how the money collected on behalf of its Palestinian sponsoree will be spent,” the report states. “There is no indication that any of the money raised through the fiscal sponsorship is going to terror groups, nor is there any clear way of ascertaining how the money collected is spent. All that is clear is that there’s a financial relationship between these two separate groups.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper issued a statement on the June 1 report that read, “Any person of faith who endorses the anti-Semitic BDS movement should now realize that they are also supporting the goals of its sponsors, among them people with the blood of more than 1,000 Israelis and tourists on their hands,” Hier and Cooper said. “The hypocrisy of BDS has always been obvious, but now it’s official.”

StandWithUs also issued a statement on June 1 noting that one of the key members for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ is American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), an organization that is connected to Hamas.

“USCPR has always deceptively marketed itself as a human rights group, while relentlessly promoting campaigns of hate across the United States,” Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in the statement. “Lawmakers, community leaders, and the general public need to be aware of how toxic this organization truly is.”

Anti-Israel Protesters Disrupt UCSB Meeting

Screenshot from Facebook.

The swearing in of UC Santa Barbara’s new student senate board on May 23 was derailed when a group of around 60 anti-Israel protesters stormed the stage.

According to UCSB’s student newspaper, the Daily Nexus, the protesters were angry that the student senate’s Israel divestment resolution had been changed the week before from requiring a 50 percent majority plus one vote to pass, to requiring a two-thirds majority.

Shortly before the motion to swear in the new board, the protesters wrestled the microphones from the student senators with chants of “Shut it down! Shut it down!”

One of the students, identified by the Daily Nexus as Justice Dumlao, declared they were engaging in “an act of civil disobedience” because they felt the change in the resolution’s technical status was “illegitimate and unfair.”

In a video posted to Facebook by UCSB’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a student asked Dumlao if there was some way for the student body to “come together” and have a discussion about the resolution.

“The disruption was offensive and disrespectful, and demonstrates how divisive BDS is to the campus climate.” — Rabbi Evan Goodman

Dumlao responded, “When people are changing a resolution based on their own personal opinions that come out of nowhere in Week 7 of a senate meeting, how am I supposed to have a constructive conversation about it?”

A female student involved in the disruption added, “How can you ask for a dialogue when we can’t even say anything?” She later added that the disruption sprang from desperation.

Toward the end of the video, a female wearing a bandana over her face shouts, “I am a Palestinian and I have to hide my f—ing face for the sake of my family, for the sake of my people who are dying –– dying! –– because of our money funding companies that are profiting off our deaths.”

The student senate was forced to adjourn the meeting and multiple senators left the room. Michelle May, president of Gauchos United for Israel, told the Journal that she saw the protesters banging on tables and holding their phones in the faces of the student government members, which likely contributed to them leaving the meeting.

“I think it was partially because they felt it was impossible for the meeting to continue properly and because it was a little bit scary,” May said.

UCSB’s SSI condemned the disruption as an “abominable display of aggression and intimidation, which caused many to feel targeted and unsafe as pro-Israel and Jewish students.”

“Associated Students UCSB should represent all students on this campus, acknowledging and actively listening to all of their constituents,” the group said in a statement. “It is not a place that should allow for any one group of students, regardless of political affiliation or opinion, to take control of its meetings and silence the voices of other students.”

SSI accused members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) of taking part in the protest. May told the Journal that she saw SJP members participate in the disruption but didn’t know if they had organized it. As of press time, neither UCSB’s SJP nor the Associated Student Senate had responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Rabbi Evan Goodman, executive director of Santa Barbara’s Hillel, told the Journal in a Facebook message, “The disruption of the opening meeting of the newly elected senate was offensive and disrespectful, and demonstrates how divisive BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is to the campus climate. We urge student leaders to work for the good of the entire student body.”

University of Oregon Student Government Passes BDS Resolution

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

University of Oregon’s student government passed a resolution on May 23 calling on the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The resolution, which was authored by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) and endorsed by the campus Multicultural Center and Young Democratic Socialists, among others, called for the University of Oregon to stop “funding the business of state-sanctioned violence.”

“This resolution would set a precedent to call on the rest of the UO community to divest from companies and funds that are complicit in Israeli settler colonialism and the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” the resolution states.

Debate on the bill lasted for three hours before it passed by a margin of 12 to 6 votes.

SUPER celebrated the resolution’s passage in a statement on Facebook.

“The resolution will ensure that ASUO [Associated Students of the University of Oregon] funds do not go to corporations which are complicit in and actively promoting the human rights abuses and breaches of international law inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli state,” the organization said. “As a university, it is time that we take a stand to reject colonialist oppression in all forms – and today UO students showed that this is possible.”

Ducks for Israel condemned the resolution on Facebook.

“We are saddened by the lack of research done by the ASUO to understand that this resolution is one-sided and hurtful to many students on this campus,” the organization said.

Ducks for Israel later added that they will be working to educate people about the Israel/Palestine conflict and sent an ultimatum to the student government.

“We will hold you accountable for the many concerns we had that you said would not occur following the BDS resolution,” the organization stated. “We will not stand idly by when it comes to the safety and inclusion of our students on this campus and we hope you will not either.”

University of Oregon President Michael Shill said in a statement that while the resolution did not fully embrace the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) tactics, it is still against the student government’s “mission to support the interests of all students in a diverse community.”

“The University of Oregon is committed to the principle of inclusion, and over the last three years each school, college and administrative unit on our campus has focused – through the IDEAL framework and Diversity Actions Plans — on efforts to enhance and strengthen policies and practices that make this campus welcoming and inclusive to all,” Shill said. “I believe the ASUO resolution is inconsistent with these values.”

There is a chance that the resolution could be struck down by the ASUO Constitutional Court, as student government resolutions have to be viewpoint neutral and it could be argued that this one wasn’t.

The full results of BDS resolution votes on college campuses from 2005-2018 can be seen on the Jewish Virtual Library’s website.

This Girl Is On Fire

Israel's Netta poses during the news conference after winning the Grand Final of Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena hall in Lisbon, Portugal, May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The evening that Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won Eurovision 2018, my son and I began to watch the biopic “Pelé: Birth of a Legend,” the early life of the renowned African-Brazilian soccer player.

Pelé grew up poor in 1950s Brazil and faced continual racism from Europeans and lighter-skinned Brazilians. But from an early age, his parents taught him to face life with dignity: “Don’t feel doubt or shame,” his father tells him in the film. “Have the courage to embrace who you really are.”

Pelé revolutionized soccer for Brazilians — inspiring a pride in the country’s uniqueness. “We don’t all play the same,” says a coach in the film, “but that’s what makes us who we are.”

A similar message of embracing both excellence and difference can be felt in a video that my son, Alexander, and I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. Angelica Hale, 9, won the “Golden Buzzer” on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” last year for her magnificent rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.”

I must confess: I’m not a watcher of talent shows. But I have personally found this video deeply inspiring, even more so after reading that Angelica, who is part Filipino, had to undergo a life-saving kidney transplant at age 4. Fearless and resolute, she both belted out and personified the lyrics:

“She’s got both feet on the ground;

And she’s burning it down.”

This is feminism, I told Alexander. A young girl can get up on stage and make a song even more layered and soulful than the original recording (sorry, Alicia). Moreover, achieving something great is far more empowering than playing the victim. Angelica, like Pelé, has no interest in being a victim. Both don’t want the world to feel sorry for them: They want the world to love them for their unique, outstanding gifts.

“I love my country,” she told an audience that has been taught to hate her country.

Somehow, 25-year-old Netta was able to combine all of these sentiments into a magical song, “Toy,” and performance that, despite itself, took Europe’s breath away.

“Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature;

I don’t care about your modern-day preachers.”

“Toy” is also a song about female empowerment, but perhaps even more, it’s about owning your individuality. “Thank you for choosing different, for accepting differences between us, for celebrating diversity,” Netta told the massive Eurovision audience in her acceptance speech.

But Netta clearly has no patience for the victimhood part of today’s #MeToo politics: “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy.” Nor does she have time for an identity politics that has no space for Jews. “I love my country,” she told an audience that has been taught to hate her country. “Next time, in Jerusalem.”

Whether the Europeans who voted for her got the deeper message is less important than the fact that they voted for Israel, despite every effort made by BDSers to prevent this. And Israel won by doing what Israel does best: bringing light into the world. Teaching the politically correct that individuality, creativity — inspiration — is not politically incorrect. That in fact, not becoming what others want us to be is our greatest strength.

Netta, like Pelé and Angelica, doesn’t want the world’s pity — or the world’s harassment. In fact, she included what could be construed as a word of warning for haters: “Wonder woman, don’t you ever forget; You’re divine and he’s about to regret.”

In the Pelé film, a Swedish coach calls the darker-skinned Brazilians “abnormal.” Israelis — Jews — have been called that and much worse. We don’t need to fabricate victimhood — but we also have no desire to wallow in it.

The Jewish people are not the world’s toy, to be taken out and abused when it’s having a bad day. “Have the courage to embrace who you really are,” Pelé’s father tells him in the film. It’s well past time that Jews did precisely that. Enough begging the left’s “social justice warriors” to include us.

Not surprisingly, these tolerant, compassionate folks were quick to try to shame Netta after she won, bizarrely calling her performance “cultural appropriation.” And some of Europe’s leftist pols saw Netta’s victory as a great opportunity to call for renewed boycotts against Israel. (So is “justice” their motivation — or jealousy? I get so confused with these compassionate types.)

Netta is not responding to the haters.  And why should she? She’s too busy “lighting up the night.” World, get used to it.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic.

Could The Iran Deal And BDS Hamper Israel’s Chances At Eurovision Competition?

Screenshot from Facebook.

Each year, hundreds of millions of people tune in to one of television’s most-watched non-sporting events: the Eurovision Song Contest.

Dozens of countries participating in the event submit an original song that is then performed on live television, with an expert jury and viewers voting for their favorite artist.

Though less well-known in the United States, the competition has come to represent European unity (or division, depending on who you ask) and also a symbol of the LGBT movement.

“Eurovision is one of the most popular television shows in Europe,” said Dr. Dean Vuletic, who first saw the song contest while he was studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1999.

Dr. Vuletic is the author of “Postwar Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest” (London: Bloomsbury, 2018) and a professor of history at the University of Vienna, Austria. The book, which was published earlier this year, provides an extensive look at the origins of Eurovision and how it evolved in parallel to developments in international relations.

“[Eurovision] has been very popular since its inception in 1956, and since then it has been held every year without fail,” he explained to The Media Line. “It has also reflected social and political changes in Europe.”

This year, the massively popular music contest being held in Lisbon Portugal, is taking place during a political climate marked by heightened tensions in the Middle East following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw Washington from the Iran nuclear deal. When President Trump announced the move, he specifically cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation last week which proved that Tehran had not come clean about its atomic activities.

Concurrently, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement was ramping up efforts to influence Europeans to vote against Israel’s entry, Netta Barzilai. With her highly creative song “Toy” already a hit across Europe, the Israeli pop star has risen to the top of the contest rankings (in third place as of this writing).

However, many are concerned the tense political climate following the U.S.’ pull-out from the Iran deal, coupled with a growing push by BDS proponents, could hamper her chances at winning.

“Many people watching are not interested in the music,” said Moshe Morad, an ethnomusicologist and the director of Israel’s public service music radio station 88FM. Morad previously served as the head of the Israeli delegation to the Eurovision.

“Last year I went as a guest of the Israeli delegation to Kiev,” he recalled to The Media Line. Just after [then-Israeli contender Imri Ziv] made it through to the semi-finals, many people in Europe were bombarded by messages from the BDS…and it’s happening again this year as well.”

Whereas some fear that BDS campaigners will influence voting, others are downplaying the role of politics in what many consider to be the highlight of the European cultural calendar.

“The BDS was here, is here and it will always be here,” said Amnon Szpektor, the Head of Press for the Israeli delegation at this year’s Eurovision. “If it were not Netta, [they would be going after] someone else,” he contended to The Media Line. “Netta Barzilai has a chance to win, we’re still in second or third place in the rankings.”

When asked whether he believed politics could influence the final outcome, Szpektor was adamant it would not. “Positive politics are involved [in the Eurovision]. People do vote for the countries they feel closest to, culturally speaking. It’s not surprising that countries with a similar language, and who have existed side by side for hundreds of years, would vote for each other.

“But there is no hate,” he concluded, noting that those in Israel convinced that people would vote against the Jewish State for political reasons were “mistaken.”

“People really like her message and her song.”

Dr. Vuletic agrees, telling The Media Line that while “nationalism is still essential to the contest,” the political aspects have been exaggerated and the impact of the voting blocs “has been minimized since 2009 with the reforms and the introduction of an expert jury.

“The situation [with the Iran deal and Israel] is still not severe enough for it to have an impact,” he added, going so far to suggest that “if Israel were to be attacked, that could [even] influence a sympathy vote for Israel.”

Historically, Dr. Vuletic conveyed, Israeli entries have won “in a climate of peace,” pointing to past winners Dana International and Izhar Cohen, both of whom won the contest in times of relative quiet.

Still, in recent days Barzilai has been surpassed by a new fan favorite: namely, Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira, who stole the show during the first round of semi-finals Tuesday night.

Szpektor seemed unsurprised that the representative from Cyprus had surpassed Barzilai in the rankings, as her appearance and performance were more in line with conventional standards of beauty.

“Netta doesn’t sound like anybody else and loves herself,” the public relations manager affirmed.

“It’s 2018, we deserve someone like her.”

The finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will crown the competition’s winner, will take place Saturday night.

This article originally appeared on The Media Line.

Giro D’Italia in Israel: People of the Bike?

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev poses with Israeli cyclists from the Giro d’Italia. Photo courtesy of Yad Vashem.

More than 600 foreign journalists from every corner of the globe flew to Israel last week, but unlike other mass invasions of the international press, it had nothing to do with war or diplomacy.

They were in Jerusalem to cover the first leg of the Giro d’Italia, one of the cycling world’s top three Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. It was the first time that any segment of the three Grand Tours has taken place outside Europe, and the first time an Israeli team has taken part in the Giro.

Known as the “Big Start,” the Israeli segment, from May 4-6, was by far the most prestigious sporting event in the country’s history.

The timing, just days prior to the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding according to the secular calendar, amounted to a public relations coup at a time when many around the world are trying to vilify and delegitimize Israel. In fact, pro-Palestinian activists accused the Israeli government of “sports-washing” — attempting to deflect the world’s attention away from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and weekly Palestinian “March of Return” demonstrations along the Gaza border.

Late last year, 120 pro-Palestinian nongovernmental organizations, sports clubs and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists pleaded with the Giro’s administrators not to hold the event in Israel. Doing so “will both cover up Israel’s military occupation and discrimination against Palestinians and increase Israel’s sense of impunity, encouraging continued denial of Palestinians’ U.N.-stipulated rights,” the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) wrote in a statement.

Israeli government officials and the Giro’s Israeli organizers rejected these accusations and expressed hope that the race would spur a wave of tourism and goodwill toward Israel.

The officials readily acknowledged that Israel, a small arid country with a fledgling bike culture, was an unlikely place to host a cycling Grand Tour.

“This project has been created against all odds,” Ran Margaliot, co-founder of Israel’s professional team, the Israel Cycling Academy (ICA), told reporters at a press briefing. “It’s not normal to have pro-cycling in Israel. Not even regular cycling.”

Despite the presence of many recreational bicycle riders, cycling has long been considered an amateur sport in Israel. That changed in 2015 when Margaliot and businessman Ron Baron launched the ICA, Israel’s first-ever professional cycling team. Its goal was to enable the country’s best cyclists to compete in the international arena. Less than three years later, Israel was invited to compete in the Giro.

The team could not have achieved its goals without the financial backing and moral support of Sylvan Adams, a Canadian billionaire and competitive cyclist who made aliyah in 2016. The Big Start cost $33 million, most of it paid for by Adams. It was Adams who lobbied Mauro Vegni, the Giro’s director, to bring a segment of the race to Israel.

“I don’t think he thought I was being serious,” Adams said of their meeting in Italy two years ago. “I asked him to come to Israel, and he saw a beautiful country with good roads, with a cycling culture. He saw that Israel is democratic, open, tolerant, free and safe.”

Adams, 58, a physically fit man with white hair whose eyes sparkle with enthusiasm when he talks about Israel and cycling, recalled that Vegni began to mull the idea of expanding the “Giro brand” outside Europe.

“I asked the Giro director to come to Israel, and he saw a beautiful country with good roads, with a cycling culture. He saw that Israel is democratic, open, tolerant, free and safe.” — Sylvan Adams 

“It took a whole year of negotiations,” Adams said of the deal, which the two men sealed a year ago.

The businessman said nearly 1 billion people watched the Giro last year, so hosting its first leg in Israel “is like inviting 1 billion visitors to Israel. We’re inviting them to know us better. To see our beautiful country and our warmth. They will almost certainly be surprised and impressed. This is not what they were expecting.”

Adams said few people outside Israel realize that nearly 21 percent of Israeli citizens are Arab. “There are Arabs in the [Israel Defense Forces], Arab judges, including one serving on the Supreme Court. There are Arab policemen and Arab ambassadors,” he said.

Adams, who has a daughter living in Los Angeles and a second about to move to L.A., said he lobbied to start the Giro in Israel for three reasons: to get Israelis excited about cycling, to showcase Israel as a tourist destination and to bring top Israeli athletes to the Grand Tour.

“This is the first time we have two horses in the race,” he said, referring to the two Israeli cyclists, Guy Sagiv and Guy Niv, who earned a place on the team’s international roster of Giro cyclists.

Prior to the race, Israeli Tourism Minister Director-General Amir Halevi predicted that it would immediately inject “tens of millions” of shekels into the local economy and that the media exposure would lead to record levels of incoming tourism in the future.

Some 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, a 25 percent increase over 2016. Every 100,000 additional tourists leads to the creation of 4,000 direct jobs and 3,700 indirect jobs, according to the tourism ministry.

The Giro provided the ministry with the impetus to promote Israel as a sports tourism destination, a new marketing angle for a country known for its history, holy sites and culture.

“Given that Israel is a relatively small country, hikers and bikers can enjoy the experience of desert, mountains, valleys, urban terrain and more, all within a few hours’ distance from each other covering the entire country,” the ministry said in a press release.

For members of the ICA, the Giro was less about promoting tourism than about drawing Israelis to recreational and competitive cycling.

Days before the Big Start, the Tel Aviv municipality announced that it is building the Sylvan Adams Velodrome, the Middle East’s most state-of-the-art indoor cycling center, according to the city. Once completed, it will meet Olympic standards. Adams hopes the 2021 World Junior Championships for track cycling will take place at the velodrome.

Although there were many memorable moments just prior and during the race, the sight of cyclists from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates riding through the streets of Israel filled Israelis with pride and the hope that peace with its neighbors might just be possible. Many shared photos of the teams on social media.

The day before the start of the race, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Center, hosted participants of the Israel Cycling Academy and leadership of the Giro d’Italia at an event posthumously bestowing Commemorative Citizenship of the State of Israel on the late Gino Bartali, a three-time Giro d’Italia champion who helped save hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust.

In 2013, Yad Vashem recognized Bartali as a Righteous Among the Nations. His name is engraved on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations on the Mount of Remembrance. A devout Catholic, Bartali acted as a courier for the Italian resistance against the Nazis and distributed forged documents. A modest man, he refused to speak about his deeds.

Looking back on the week, Baron called the Giro Big Start “the biggest present we can give Israel for its 70th birthday. It is a miracle, and so is this team.”

Michele Chabin is an award-winning journalist who reports from Jerusalem.

Pro-Israel Organizations Call On NYU President to Investigate Student Organizations Who Signed Anti-Israel Statement

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

StandWithUs and The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law issued a letter to New York University President Andrew Hamilton calling on him to investigate the over 50 clubs on campus who signed a statement calling for boycotts against Israel.

The anti-Israel statement, which was signed by the likes of NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) not only called for boycotts of Israeli goods, but also boycotts of pro-Israel clubs on campus due to supposed Israeli “occupation.”

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), during which more than 700,000 Palestinians were violently expelled from their homes by Zionist militias, and of the establishment of the State of Israel, which continues its campaign of ethnic cleansing of Palestine to this day in the form of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights and brutal siege of Gaza,” the statement reads. “We support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights as it is a non-violent method of resisting Israeli apartheid from abroad. We call on NYU to divest its holdings from companies and funds that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

The letter from StandWithUs and the Brandeis Center denounced the statement for how it targets Jews.

“There are violations of NYU policy here, and conduct foreseeably undertaken in support of this statement could potentially violate state and federal law,” the letter states. “Moreover, it indicates a reprehensible joint effort to marginalize and stigmatize the Jewish student community at your university. We urge your administration to investigate this matter, and if violations of student conduct rules or applicable laws are found, discipline responsible organizations accordingly.”

The letter pointed out that the statement violates NYU policy, which prohibits discrimination of any kinds, and could violate state law, which prevents boycotts of people of “national origin.” There could also be a federal law violation, as the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stated in 2004 that Jewish students were protected from discrimination.

“This anti-Zionist statement, if not properly addressed by NYU’s administration, could create a hostile environment for students of Jewish and/or Israeli backgrounds on campus,” the letter states.

The letter concluded by calling for Hamilton to investigate the statement, denounce it and then provide training on how such anti-Zionism could lead to virulent anti-Semitism.

In an April 19 town hall, Hamilton condemned the BDS movement.

“The university will not participate in boycotting of academics based in Israel. We believe in academic freedom and the free flow of ideas,” Hamilton said. “Boycotting is antithetical to that vision.”

Hamilton has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Don’t shoot the messenger: On Natalie Portman

When the Genesis Prize Foundation announced last November that the Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman would be the recipient of this year’s prize — often described as the “Jewish Nobel” — it offered Portman the highest praise:

“Without a doubt, she is a role model for millions of young Jews around the world.”

That compliment now seems both prescient and alarming.

Since Portman has decided to reject the prize and boycott the ceremony in protest of Israel government policies and practices — saying she did not wish to attend an event at which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be present — what must those millions of young Jews think now? And what does it mean that the most high-profile cultural censure of Israel to date has not come from the invidious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but from one of our own?

It is worse than a pity that Portman chose to rebuke Israel with her boycott. As Jane Eisner wrote in The Forward, couldn’t she have gone to the ceremony and given a killer human rights speech in Netanyahu’s face? If she wishes to protest Israeli policies, I wish she would say which ones. Or does she want us and the world to think the entire Israeli government, despite a robust democratic opposition, is a total disgrace?

But OK, I get it. Portman didn’t want her acceptance of the prize or her presence at the event to be seen as an endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. As a citizen of Israel, she’s entitled to her dissent. That’s what Israeli democracy is about. We can be proud that one of Israel’s democratic strengths is that it can tolerate criticism.

That problem is the collapse of peace talks and the idea and promise of a two-state solution.

At this point, I’m far less interested in whether Portman’s decision to refuse the Genesis Prize makes her a hero or a traitor. Scores of outspoken Jews in the opposing camps have issued their views over the past week, exacerbating an already painful situation. I don’t really care what your personal politics are, when an Israeli Jew rejects an Israeli honor, it should hurt. It signifies that the Jewish world has a big problem on its hands, far more disruptive than Jewish disunity. Portman isn’t the problem, she is a reflection of that problem and a harbinger of how much worse it could get.

That problem is the collapse of peace talks and the idea and promise of a two-state solution.

Yes, the two-state solution. Remember that old thing? You should, because it’s the only thing that could end the terrible occupation that has been a stain on Israeli and Jewish consciences for more than five decades. And, because the alternative to a two-state solution spells political and moral catastrophe for the Israel we love.

Maintaining the status quo — the current one-state solution — means more and more boycotts. It means international isolation. It means more and more Jews turning away from the Jewish homeland because they can’t conscience a triumphalist Israel over a virtuous one. The alternative to a two-state solution is personified by Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement and an enemy to the idea of a Jewish state, who said: “I can sense our South Africa moment coming closer.”

I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that South African apartheid didn’t end with a two-state solution. (Never mind that the comparison between Israel and South Africa is intellectually unsound; most people aren’t educated enough about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to know the difference, and as we all know, even fake news gets traction.)

Portman may not be the tipping point, but the tipping point may come if “millions of young Jews around the world” choose to follow in her footsteps and alienate the Jewish state when there are millions of reasons to love it. The tipping point is coming when the actions of those young Jews will be hard to distinguish from the actions of the BDS movement. Be angry about that outcome, but don’t dismiss it.

Whatever one feels about Portman’s decision or the “liberal American Jews” who might disappear in a generation, we should care about the reasons why they would want to distance themselves from Israel in the first place.

We should also want to find a way to get them back.

Entertainment Executives Sign Letter Denouncing BDS Threat to Sue Netflix

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is threatening to sue Netflix if they don’t drop the Israeli television show Fauda. In response, over 50 entertainment executives have signed a letter saying that they stand with Netflix.

The letter, issued by the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an organization that is aimed at countering BDS, denounced BDS’ targeting of Netflix as a “blatant attempt at artistic censorship.”

“The BDS movement seeks to isolate Israel in the cultural, academic, economic, and diplomatic arenas. Its myopic and simplistic anti-Israel worldview is threatened by the worldwide exposure Netflix has generated for Fauda’s nuanced portrayal of issues related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict,” the letter states. “This worldview was evident in the letter BDS wrote to Netflix, in which they continued their habit of using inaccurate and inflammatory language, such as ‘colonialist’ and ‘apartheid,’ to describe Israel. As always, they assign every evil imaginable to Israel, while absolving the Palestinians of any and all responsibility or agency.”

The letter added that the show provides a balanced portrayal of all sides of the Israel-Palestine issue to help foster dialogue on the issue, but BDS is attempting to shut down that dialogue.

“Attempts to block true understanding and instead force a black and white, good versus evil view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict upon the world are nothing new for BDS. “In threatening to sue Netflix for distributing a television series with which they disagree, they have simply taken those attempts to the next level of absurdity.”

Among the executives to sign the letter included Chairman and CEO of Downtown Records Josh Deutsch and Orly Adelson, president of Orly Adelson Productions.

The BDS letter attacking the show called it “racist propaganda for the Israeli occupying army and displays aggression towards the Palestinian people, and the process it is leading for freedom and independence.”

Fauda, which is Arabic for “chaos”, centers on the undercover Israeli Special Forces operating in Judea and Samaria to track down a Hamas terrorist. The second season is set to premiere on Netflix on May 24, although it has already premiered in Israel. The characters in Fauda have become hot topics in Israeli culture and the show is starting to catch on in the United States as well.

Lior Raz, the main actor and co-creator of the show, told The Washington Post, “It allows people to see the complexity of the conflict and to understand that everyone has a backstory, on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians.”

Raz added that he and his co-creator, journalist Avi Issachoroff, will change scenes if the Arab actors think their characters are being wrongly depicted.

Report: State Department Succeeds In Killing BDS Bill

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gestures during a news conference in Lima, Peru, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

The State Department was successful in its effort to kill a bill in the Irish parliament that would have criminalized trade with Israelis, according to a report from the Washington Free Beacon.

Under the proposed law, Irish citizens would have faced a $310,000 fine and a maximum sentence of five years in prison if they bought a souvenir from Israelis in settlement areas, including Jerusalem’s Old City and the Western Wall, meaning that even Irish citizens who toured those areas could be penalized if the bill became law.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office slammed the proposal in a statement that read, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemns the Irish legislative initiative, the entire goal of which is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu also scheduled a meeting with Ireland’s ambassador to the Jewish state; shortly after his announcement the Irish Parliament agreed to table the bill until July.

However, a “senior official at a major pro-Israel organization” told the Free Beacon the “law was a done deal” until State Department officials persuaded Irish lawmakers to nix the law.

“The State Department found out what was happening, and they scrambled to alert the Irish to the nature and risks of their own law, and Irish lawmakers came to their senses,” the official said. “Crisis averted, at least for now.”

Orden Kittrie, Arizona State University law professor and Foundation for Defense Democracies senior fellow, wrote an op-ed in The Hill explaining that the proposed law would have violated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, an international law that states that countries can’t boycott companies simply because they’re located in “areas of conflict.” Kittrie also notes that the law would have violated European Union (EU) policy stating that countries who are part of the EU cannot “adopt unilateral restrictions on imports into the EU.”

Additionally, U.S. federal law prevents businesses from engaging in “foreign boycotts” and a myriad of state laws specifically outlaw businesses from boycotting Israel, which would have put 700 U.S. businesses in Ireland in a complicated position.

“The Irish bill would be a reckless stomp that could squash Palestinian incentives to compromise with Israel, run afoul of U.S. federal and state laws, break EU and international law, and trample Ireland’s vital economic links to the United States,” wrote Kittrie.

According to NGO Monitor, the author of the bill, independent Senator Frances Black, had “previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products” and the bill was supported by various pro-BDS Irish NGOs.

For the time being, it appears that Black’s bill won’t be going anywhere.

“Our strong opposition to boycotts and sanctions of the State of Israel is well known,” a State Department official told the Free Beacon. “We look to other countries to join us in bringing an end to anti-Israel bias.”

Episode 74 – Calling BS on BDS

Soda water or still water? The big question. Here in Israel, we love our soda water. Maybe we relate to the pressure that builds up from those little bubbles of carbonation, or maybe we just like the fizz. Whatever the reason, in most Israeli homes you’ll probably find a carbonation device called SodaStream.

Until 2015, this Israeli company held it’s main manufacturing branch in the settlement of Maale Adumim. This, to say the least, bothered some people. You see, Maale Adumim lies across the green line in the West Bank and is considered by most of the international community to be an illegal settlement.

Starting in 2010, a series of organizations and courts, including the European Union’s highest court, came to decisions and rulings that put pressure on SodaStream for residing in the West Bank. It was easy to trace the source of this pressure. Better known for its initialization BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement sprung up in 2005 and set as its goal to end Israel’s violation of international law for the sake of the Palestinian people. Since then it has swept across platforms from university campuses to International courts.

In 2015, SodaStream announced that it would be shutting down its plant in the West Bank and laying off 500 Palestinian workers. A movement that claimed to be protecting the rights and privileges of the Palestinians was suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that they had just cost 500 of these people their jobs.

Bassem Eid was born in Jerusalem but today he’s a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Bassem is an ardent Palestinian human rights activist and he joins us today to talk about BDS and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Bassem Eid on Facebook and Twitter

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National Lawyers Guild Sued for Allegedly Discriminating Against an Israeli Organization

Screenshot from Facebook.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is being hit with a lawsuit over allegations of discriminating against an Israeli organization.

According to a press release from the Lawfare Project, which working in collaboration with attorney David Abrams of the Zionist Advocacy Center on the lawsuit, the NLG refused a $200 offer from the Bibliotechnical Athenaeum to place an advertisement in their Annual Banquet dinner journal on the grounds that they “have a resolution barring us from accepting funds from Israeli organizations.”

“If the NLG had similarly said, ‘Unfortunately, it is our policy not to do business with Chinese organizations,’ or ‘We have a resolution against accepting funds from African organizations,’ we would rightly be outraged,” Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, said in the press release. “Where is the same outrage when it comes to unlawful commercial discrimination against Israelis and Jews?”

The lawsuit is headed toward the New York Supreme Court, and the Lawfare Project is confident that the court will rule in their favor under New York’s Human Rights Law.

“The Lawfare Project believes that this is a strong case, and that NLG’s prejudicial conduct overtly violates the applicable laws on which our claims are based,” Benjamin Ryberg, who is representing the Israeli organization from the Lawfare Project, told the Journal in an email. “We are confident that the court will remedy the harm our client has suffered due to NLG’s discriminatory act.”

Ryberg also pointed out that the NLG “has a history of relentlessly attacking the Jewish state.”

“It is a fervent proponent of the bigoted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the goal of which is to bankrupt the State of Israel via discriminatory business practices,” wrote Ryberg. “It has urged state governments to divest from Israel Bonds and the U.S. to cut all aid to Israel. Recently, it even actively raised funds in support of a notoriously anti-Semitic professor at a California university, who has consistently used her platform to malign, intimidate, and alienate the school’s Jewish student population.”

In 2014, the NLG called for the Obama administration to face charges of war crimes for funding Israel’s Iron Dome. Alan Dershowitz criticized the NLG in a Jerusalem Post column as being “the sworn enemy of Israel and the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the early 1970s following the Soviet Union’s switch from supporting Israel to opposing it.”

“The National Lawyers Guild has lost most of its lawyers since that time and has instead filled its membership roles with paralegals, amateur investigators and other assorted ‘legal workers,’” wrote Dershowitz.  “It has no credibility in the legal profession and even some of its anti-Zionist members have recently quit, calling its policies regarding Israel ‘crazy,’ ‘irresponsible,’ and ‘bigoted.’”

The NLG has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

The App That BDS Fears

Photo from Pixabay.

Pro-Israel advocates who are fed up with the rhetoric from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement now have a tool they can use to fight BDS: the Act.IL app.

The app, a joint project by the Israeli-American Council (IAC), Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) and Maccabee Task Force, notifies users when Israel is being criticized online and provides them with the opportunity to fight back against it. For instance, the app notified the pro-Israel community of an image posted in a pro-BDS Facebook group that compared Zionists to insects that Facebook initially refused to remove when someone reported it.

“Within a few hours, hundreds of people sent this report to Facebook and by the morning, they said this post was removed,” IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet told the Journal. “This is an example where you have an individual trying to act, the power of individual is very limited. When you have crowds and audiences walking together, a community suddenly becomes a lot more effective.”

Another example of the app’s usage was when it suggested that people criticize a business that wouldn’t serve Israelis on Facebook, causing the business’s rating to decline from a 4.6 star rating to a 1.4 rating out of 5.

“The cutting edge idea is really to have a connected community that is all across the U.S. and in Israel that is fighting for Israel,” said Nicolet.

The app has already made enough waves to cause BDS to mention in a recent fundraising post on Facebook how the app’s “Situation Room” disrupted a pro-BDS webinar.

“This ‘Situation Room’ was funded by right-wing mogul and avid Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson, a man who has pledged $50 million to fight BDS on US campuses alone,” the post read. “Paid trolls littered our accounts with vile racism, racial incitement, Islamophobic and baseless anti-Palestinian propaganda.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan also gave the app a shout-out back in February.

“I am initiating an international effort to unite Israel’s supporters around the globe and provide them with a platform that strengthens their activities, with tools that will help all of us fight hatred together, and with resources to spread the truth,” said Erdan. “As part of the campaign, we will provide Israel’s supporters with videos, graphics, articles and content. Along with civil society initiatives such as the Act.il application developed by Israeli-American Council (IAC) and IDC students, we believe that this will be a game-changer in defending Israel online and around the world.”

The current version of the app has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating in iTunes.

Nicolet credited the app’s success to the fact there is such a robust, organic grassroots activism in Israel and the U.S. dedicated to defending the Jewish state.

“This is exactly where online technologies can really build bridges and really close the gap between Israel and the U.S. and the Jewish people in both sides of the ocean,” said Nicolet.

Israel Bans 20 BDS Groups from the Country

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Israel is fighting back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by banning 20 groups that are involved with the movement.

Among the groups that are banned include Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Code Pink and Friends of al-Aqsa (FOA). The full list can be seen below:

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan declared in a statement that the move reflected how Israel has “moved from defense to attack” and called out the BDS movement for spreading “false propaganda.”

“No country would allow visitors who arrive to harm the country to enter it and certainly not when their goal is to wipe out Israel as a Jewish country,” said Erdan.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri denounced BDS for “trying to exploit the law and our hospitality in order to act against Israel and to defame the country.”

“I will act against this in every way,” said Deri.

The groups that are banned from the country are not pleased about it.

“By waging an all-out intelligence, propaganda and legal war on the peaceful BDS movement for Palestinian rights and by now banning international human rights organizations and advocates from entry, Israel’s desperate and brutal attempts to weaken support for BDS are already backfiring,” Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of BDS, told the Washington Post.

“Clearly, the Israeli government is very aware that increasing numbers of Jews and all people worldwide support the BDS movement, and are seeking to intimidate and coerce us into silence,” JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson wrote in a Haaretz op-ed. “It will not work. JVP members have no doubt about the justice of fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine, and the legitimacy and efficacy of BDS to bring that day closer.”

The irony of such complaints from pro-BDS groups was not lost on some: