September 26, 2018

Saudi Minister Applauds Israel for Allowing Muslims to Perform Hajj

Screenshot from Twitter.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh praised Israel on August 23 for allowing Muslims to go on their Hajj pilgrimage, stating that it makes the Jewish state better than other Muslim countries.

In a Saudi television clip, Al-Sheikh says, “What has surprised us is that the state of Israel has, from what we know of it, has not banned Muslim pilgrims from coming to the [Saudi] Kingdom to take part in their religious obligation, however, one of the countries, as we know or have been told, has banned pilgrims from visiting the House of Allah.”

“This is a catastrophic fail for anyone who has done this, for no one can be banned from Hajj and no one can be banned for worshipping Allah,” Al-Sheikh continued.

In July 2017, Israel sought to establish direct flights for Israeli Muslims to take from Israel to Saudi Arabia in order to help them with their Hajj pilgrimage, as otherwise they would have had to take a bus for 1,000 miles to make the pilgrimage.

Iran, an enemy of both Saudi Arabia and Israel, is one Muslim country that bans its Muslim citizens of making Hajj. Qatar has reportedly banned Muslims from making Hajj recently, however Qatar disputes that report, claiming that Saudi Arabia is preventing Qataris from the making the pilgrimage. The Saudis responded by accusing Qatar of politicizing the Hajj.

The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca, a religious obligation for Muslims to make at least once in their lives.

New York Times Publishes a Rejection of Yossi Klein Halevi’s Plea for Reconciliation

If you want to better understand why peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a hopeless illusion, read Raja Shehadeh’s response in The New York Times this week to Yossi Klein Halevi’s soulful and conciliatory “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.”

Instead of responding in kind, Shehadeh falls back on the tired trope of chronic victimhood that has served only to perpetuate Palestinian misery. In this narrow view, every Palestinian woe is Israel’s fault; and Palestinians are a weak people with no agency just waiting for big, bad Israel to “withdraw from the territories it has occupied and leave us to go on with our lives.”

Shehadeh, who’s an author and an intellectual, knows better than to simplify such a bedeviling conflict whose complexity Halevi tried to honor. He knows, for example, that on the very day the IDF would abandon the territories, terror groups like Hamas and ISIS would jump to try to fill the vacuum and massacre Palestinians, just like Hamas did in Gaza.

But such complexity plays no role in Shehadeh’s takedown of Halevi’s offer to embark “on a journey of listening to each other.”

Shehadeh acknowledges that Halevi recognizes the importance of a Palestinian “counterstory,” one of “invasion, occupation and expulsion,” a history of “dislocation” and “humiliating defeats.” But how does he respond to such humility and contrition? By blasting Halevi for being “condescending” and for focusing so much of his book on trying to help Palestinians understand the Zionist story that is ingrained in Halevi’s soul.

Shehadeh also knows better than to casually dismiss Israeli offers of peace rejected by Palestinians as “old and discredited narratives.” He can’t even bring himself to admit that Palestinians are partly responsible for the absence of peace. The furthest he will go is to say, “I was involved in the Oslo negotiations and I can tell you that Israel shares plenty of responsibility for their failure.”

Everything else in his piece is a hodgepodge of polite aggression disguised as sophisticated lamentations. He claims that, “To make peace possible the Palestinians are not required to become Zionists,” as if Halevi ever asked for that. Betraying his intent to undermine Halevi’s book, he twists a plea to “understand us” into a demand to “become Zionist.”

Perhaps the deepest sign of his bad faith is when he admits to having zero interest in Israelis understanding his narrative: “Unlike you,” he writes triumphantly, “I will not demand that you see the Nakba, the catastrophe that Israel’s founding caused for my people, in the same way as I see it.”

Why? Because “You couldn’t.” Shehadeh is so drenched in smug victimhood that he can’t possibly imagine a Jewish neighbor being able to understand his narrative—not even a neighbor who has already made a genuine effort to do precisely that.

What he wants is that Israel recognizes its responsibility and “put a recognition of that culpability on the agenda for negotiations when the time comes for arriving at a settlement between us.”

But that time will never come if the Shehadehs of the Palestinian world continue to treat Palestinians as hopeless victims who are too weak to ever understand the authentic longings of their Jewish neighbors.

Palestinian Gunman Targeting Israeli Soldiers May Have Worked for Doctors Without Borders

Photo from Flickr.

After conducting an investigation into a Palestinian gunman who was shot and killed at the Gaza border after he was targeting Israeli soldiers, Israel is saying that the gunman worked for Doctors Without Borders.

Reuters reports that the gunman, identified as 28-year-old Hani Majdalawi, shot at Israeli soldiers and tossed a grenade at them. A spokesman for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Reuters that they would be reaching out to Doctors Without Borders for an explanation.

No Palestinian terror groups have claimed that Majdalawi was one of their members. Majdalawi’s brother said on Facebook that Majdalwai was acting on his own and praised him as a “martyr.”

NGO Monitor researcher Yona Schiffmiller has argued that Doctors Without Borders is biased against Israel, citing their past support for Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who has thrown rocks at Israeli soldiers and even slapped one of them. Tamimi was recently praised by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah; she praised him in return.

Palestinian Girl Who Slapped Israeli Soldier ‘Proud’ of Hezbollah Leader’s Praise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who has made headlines after being imprisoned for eight months for slapping an Israeli soldier, said she is “proud” of being praised by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A clip from Lebanese television and translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) begins with Nasrallah saying that Tamimi was “brave and courageous.”

“This is a girl that confronts Israeli soldiers and slaps them,” Nasrallah said before a crowd.

The clip then turns to Tamimi, who called Nasrallah “honorable” and thanked him for his support.

“His words boosted our morale – not just my morale but the morale of many people, because I represent the people,” Tamimi said, adding that Nasrallah’s words provided “support of the entire Palestinian people.”

Tamimi then said she “salutes” Nasrallah.

“We all support him and are proud of him,” Tamimi said.

Nasrallah has a record of anti-Semitic invectives, which includes him saying, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew.” He has also said, “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Nasrallah has taken Hezbollah into “a more extremist line against Israel and the US” since he took over the terror group in 1991, pointing to his decision to have Hezbollah kidnap Israeli soldiers and then launch rockets into Israel in 2006, which resulted in the Second Israel-Lebanon War.

H/T: Times of Israel

UCLA Unsure About Hosting Anti-Zionist Conference in November

Photo from Public Domain Pictures.

National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on their website that UCLA’s SJP chapter will be hosting the national SJP conference in November. However, when the Jewish Journal contacted UCLA, they had not yet confirmed that the conference would be happening on campus.

Algemeiner first reported that UCLA would be hosting the conference, linking to National SJP’s announcement, which states: “Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA will be hosting the 8th annual National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference on November 16-18, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA.”

 But Ricardo Vazquez, UCLA’s associate director of media relations, told the Journal in an email that UCLA had first learned about the conference in a Facebook post on August 21.

“We [are] working to verify the information in the Facebook post,” Vazquez wrote. “SJP is a student group, and most students are still away from campus until we start the fall quarter in late September. To clarify again: This would be an SJP-sponsored event that the organization plans to host on campus.”

UCLA’s SJP and National SJP decried Zionism in the announcement as “perverse in all aspects of Palestinian life and aims to destroy Palestinian existence and culture.”

“With the Nakba and the Naksa, relentless attacks on Gaza, cementing apartheid into law, and the everyday oppression of Palestinians at all levels of life, it may seem at times like all hope of seeing a free Palestine has been diminished,” SJP UCLA and National SJP wrote on the National SJP website. “And yet, Palestinians have persevered through the generations by means of their resistance and resilience.”

They also referred to Zionism as “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death” and that it “can be destroyed” and said that they would discuss divestment campaigns as one of the ways they can be active on college campuses.

UCLA’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter called on UCLA to deny SJP from being allowed to host their conference on campus in light of the May 17 disruption of an SSI event.

“SJP clearly aimed for the destruction of our event, the denial of our free speech, and the negation of the academic freedoms which our university stands for, a similar pattern of action used by them on US campuses time after time,” UCLA SSI wrote on Facebook. “While for some the events of May 17th are well in the past or act as merely a reminder of the growing prevalence of anti-Semitism Zionophobia across university campuses, for us, SJP across the country serves as an organization that denies freedom of speech and uses violent methods to silence their opponents, methods that lead to bullying and violence.”

They added that the SJP conference aims “to further subject our university to their racist, hateful, and Zionophobic tactics and messages.”

“Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that called for Jewish sovereignty and led to the establishment of the state of Israel,” UCLA’s SSI wrote. “Zionists believe in the return of an ancient and indigenous people into their homeland after a millennia, and the right of the Jewish people to finally become masters of their own destiny. Today, decades after the Jewish people have returned to their homeland to established a Jewish, indigenous, and democratic state, those who support the existence of Israel face anti-Semitism and Zionophobic attacks and disruptions against them on college campuses, and those efforts are greatly led by SJP.”

The post concluded with the call for the UCLA administration to “take the appropriate actions in not allowing a well-known hate group like SJP to host their national conference on our campus.”

“In doing so, the administration will set a national example that denial of free speech, disruption, intimidation of students, and violence will not be tolerated in the academic community,” UCLA’s SSI wrote.

UCLA professor Judea Pearl had a similar reaction.

“My students and colleagues at UCLA express revulsion and indignation at the idea that our campus will be hosting a racist Zionophobic conference aimed at the destruction of the Jewish homeland,” Pearl said in a statement sent to the Journal. “Israel is a cherished symbol of identity to thousands of students on this campus, and sponsoring a blunt Zionophobic conference at their face is telling them they are not welcome at the University of California. Zionophobic racism is still racism.”

“We plead with the Chancellor to react to this proposed conference the same way he would react to any racist conference, be it Islamophobic or white-supremacist.”

When asked about how UCLA would address concerns of pro-Israel students about the SJP conference, Vazquez responded:

UCLA is bound by the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their ideas, even those that are controversial or unpopular. UCLA officials condemned the disruption of the ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite’ event on May 17, activating UCLA’s student conduct process and forwarding complaints filed by students to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which is now reviewing the matter. UCLA remains committed to protecting all of our students, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs. We will hold everyone to the same standards and continue to work to foster an environment where everyone’s rights are protected. Today we are proud that UCLA has many intellectual and cultural links to Jewish and Israeli institutions. Many UCLA schools, departments, and institutes have active student and faculty exchange programs with Israel and we have study abroad programs at the Hebrew University, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion.”

As of publication time, neither UCLA’s SJP nor National SJP had responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Massachusetts School Board Avoids Lawsuit Over Anti-Israel Curriculum Info — For Now

Photo from Public Domain Pictures.

A school board in Newton, Mass. has temporarily avoided a lawsuit over obstructing matters related to the anti-Israel material being disseminated in Newton school classrooms.

The August 9 lawsuit, filed by Education Without Indoctrination (EWI) alleges that students in Newton Public Schools (NPS) are being taught “materials that slander Israel and the Jewish people, and that falsify history to promote the Islamic religion.” The lawsuit alleged that the Newton School Committee and NPS Superintendent David Fleishman have allegedly been “stonewalling” parent efforts to learn more about what is being taught about Israel and Islam in Newton classrooms as well as written evaluations of Fleishman’s performance as superintendent.

As part of the alleged stonewalling, the lawsuit argued that the committee would remove comments from parents criticizing the curriculum as being biased against Israel from their meetings minutes, which EWI argued is in violation of Massachusetts’ Open Meeting law.

“There was not one mention of any person who had spoken in opposition…which was astounding,” EWI member and counsel Karen Hurvitz told the Newton TAB.

Hurvitz also told The Jewish Advocate that the committee showed “no concern” over the parents’ criticisms of the curriculum.

On August 21, the school committee agreed to put those comments into the meeting minutes as well as made the evaluations of Fleischman publicly available. Committee chair Ruth Goldman told the TAB that the committee is still “very new” and that all meetings have been televised, which is why they didn’t have any complaints about the meeting minutes until the EWI lawsuit.

EWI will be reviewing the documents. Hurvitz told The Jewish Advocate that they’re going to ask for a court hearing on Sept. 12 to decide if what the committee has released fully meets the requirements of the Open Meeting law.

“They can’t whitewash the record, which is what they’ve been doing,” Hurvitz told the TAB. “It’s like cooking the books. They can’t cook the books any more. They have to be honest.”

Assistant City Solicitor Jill Murray, who is representing the committee, told the Journal in a phone interview that the lawsuit will have no impact on the curriculum itself. When asked by the Journal why the documents in question were not released to the public prior to the lawsuit, Murray responded that she was not interested in a “back-and-forth.”

According to a book by Steven Stotsky of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) titled “Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam,” in 2011 it was revealed that Newton was teaching students material from a book titled “Arab World Studies Notebook” alleging that hundreds of Palestinian women “have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed by Israeli occupation forces.” The book also stated that there is a “Hollywood Jewish conspiracy” to portray Arabs unfavorably in movies.

Despite criticism from parents over the book, the school district refused to pull it from their curriculum for more than a year; when they did revoke it they claimed it was because the book was “outdated.” However, one Newton high school is still using the book in lesson plans.

Stotsky also notes that Newton’s curriculum teaches that Jerusalem is “Palestine’s capital” and that Israel refused Arab offers of land-for-peace following the Six Day War – all part of a pattern of false anti-Israel bias being promulgated by the district’s curriculum, Strotsky argues.

The books are also reportedly funded by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s major oil company that has defended the Arabs’ desire to attack Israel in the Six-Day-War, as well as the Qatari government, which has warm ties with the Iranian regime and funds Islamic terror groups like Hamas and al-Qaeda.

Israel Is a Country, Not a Cause

If you’re like a lot of American Jews, you’ve gotten pretty worked up lately about the Nation- State Law, the questioning of Peter Beinart at Ben Gurion Airport or the LGBT protests about surrogacy. Before that, there was the Kotel controversy, and the Jerusalem embassy, and before that the Iran deal—and so on.

There is no country on earth whose domestic and foreign policy grips American Jewish attention like Israel. Because it’s the “Jewish state,” and American Jews care.

But there’s something wrong with all this caring.

In America, where many Jews don’t know Hebrew, arguments about Israel tend to be shallow and shrill mirrors of debates in Israel—after all, what do people use to interpret the news other than what Israeli right-wingers and left-wingers are telling them?

This kind of second-level arguing, however, is usually a waste of breath.

Why? In part, because it’s stripped of context. Israelis shout when they argue, even when they write. A writer from Haaretz can declare the rise of Israeli fascism, and another one from Israel Hayom can scream about treason against the nation, yet it’s a small Middle-Eastern country—when they’re done shouting, they still go to the same bars, the same family meals, listen to the same radio news, or run into each other at the gym or the boardroom.

A columnist for Haaretz once told me: “Of course I overstate the threats to Israeli democracy. If I don’t scream, nobody will hear me.”

Another reason American Jews are so breathless is that they feel powerless to affect the country they care about. They don’t vote in Israel, they don’t participate in the Hebrew-language policy debates, and no matter how much they feel Israeli decisions might affect them, they really don’t, at least not in the way they affect Israeli voters and taxpayers.

In fact, the disconnect between American-Jewish adrenaline about Israel and the actual, objective success and stability of the country is so enormous that it forces us to ask: What are you really worried about, American Jews?

The short answer, the only one that makes any sense, is this: It’s about you.

American Jews want desperately to care about something Jewish, but don’t really want to face the fact that their kids aren’t continuing the identity, that they have lost a sense of belonging, that their synagogue-based communities are dissolving into infinite WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups and political action committees, that their kids are, in some cases, getting blamed on campus for things that Israel is accused of doing.

Meanwhile, over here in Israel, something totally different is happening. Under the radar, Israel has turned itself from a cultural backwater into something vibrant, edgy, and increasingly influential. Remember Start-Up Nation? Now it’s happening with culture: Israelis are changing the face not just of hi-tech but of music, architecture, film and TV, of design and art and dance.

When will American Jews notice? When will they tell their kids: Go to Israel because something amazing is happening there. Forget Left and Right—it’s not important. Forget BDS—it doesn’t matter. A nation’s creative spirit, its deep Jewish soul, its language and culture—all these are much bigger and more important for you than anything you read in the news.

This is not about Whataboutism or going “Beyond the Conflict.” Israelis don’t live in the conflict and don’t need to go beyond it. Israeli reality is mainly about what everybody else’s reality is about: Work, family, vacation, entertainment. In short, life.

But it’s also a different reality—an incredible life, full of creative energy, new thoughts, big gambles and brass tacks. This can be a lot more interesting to young American Jews looking for something to anchor their identity in than all the endless political sword-fighting.

The point is: A government is not its people. For Americans to get worked up about Israel based on who is in power makes no more sense than for Israelis to decide whether to visit or do business with the United States based on the latest tweets coming out of the White House.

Instead of showing your caring by reacting to headlines, there’s a different way to care—a much healthier way, one that will take you farther and bring your kids closer: Find the Israel that adds value to your life.

Visit. Learn the language. Meet the people. Listen to the music. Drink the wine. Enjoy the country. Treat it like an exotic foreign land, not a rotting shack in your backyard that used to be pretty but now is full of dung. Israel is not rotting, it has only gotten more beautiful, and it’s frankly not your backyard.

In an important essay last year, David Hazony made this point about “Israeliness” as a key to the Jewish future in America. He ended by saying that the path to Israel means “rediscovering Israel as a country, not just a cause, and yourself as someone searching rather than acting out of certainty…  to see the Israeli other not as a threat but as a resource for your own journey.”

Bring to Israel your sense of exploration and wonder rather than anxiety and anger, and you’ll be shocked how much more it has to offer. Your kids will be grateful, too.


Adam Bellos is the founder of The Israel Innovation Fund, whose goal is to create culturally relevant initiatives that showcase Israel’s diverse culture. Its flagship program, Wine on the Vine, enables people to support Israel’s wine industry by planting grapevines and supporting charities. 

Tufts University to Offer Course Taught by Pro-BDS Professor

Photo from Wikipedia.

Tufts University is going to be offering a course this fall called “Colonizing Palestine” that will be taught by a pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) professor and teaches that Israel “illegally occupies Palestine.”

Under Tufts’ Colonial Studies program, the course description for “Colonizing Palestine” states that the class “will explore the history and culture of modern Palestine and the centrality of colonialism in the making of this contested and symbolically potent territory” and will familiarize themselves with the likes of the late professor Edward Said, who once referred to Yasser Arafat as “a much misunderstood and maligned political personality” and poet Suheir Hammad, who wrote in a poem following the 9/11 terror attacks, “if there are any people on earth who understand how new york is feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the gaza strip.”

“Students will address crucial questions relating to this embattled nation, the Israeli state which illegally occupies Palestine, and the broader global forces that impinge on Palestinians and Israelis,” the course description states. “Themes covered include notions of nationalism and national identity, settler-colonialism, gender and sexuality, refugee politics, cultural hybridity, class politics, violence, and memory.”

The professor teaching the course, Thomas Abowd, is an avid supporter of the BDS movement and has accused Israel of implementing “apartheid-like” policies against Palestinians and that Israel supporters use the Old Testament as a “real estate guide.”

Additionally, in a 2015 thread on Tufts’ Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Facebook page, Abowd wrote, “I missed all the ‘so much anti-Semitic hate here’ – sounds quite delusional to me.” The thread he commented on featured comments that accused Israel being “a state built by White Jewish men for White Jewish men” and that Israel engages in “ethno-religious oppression.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the course in a statement sent to the Journal.

“We support academic freedom but Tufts University must ensure that classes examining the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not one-sided platforms for propaganda that demonize Israel and empower anti-Israel activists,” Greenblatt said. “Political bias is best left out of the classroom.”

In a phone interview with the Journal, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called the course “indoctrination” said the fact that “a leading American university” is offering such a course is “shocking” and “deeply disturbing.”

“If this is the trend of where this school is going, I wouldn’t give them five cents,” Cooper said.

Tufts Hillel called the “Colonizing Palestine” course “prejudicial and unnecessarily provocative” in a statement sent to the Journal.

“We continue to work actively with university leaders and colleagues across Tufts to create a setting where opposing views on contentious issues can be shared in dignified and constructive dialogue,” Tufts Hillel said.

Patrick Collins, Tufts’ executive director of public relations, said in a statement to The College Fix, “As an institution of higher education, Tufts is committed to the free exchange of ideas. The university’s courses represent a broad spectrum of ideas and topics that enable students to become familiar with a variety of perspectives on important and complex issues facing our global society.”

Collins also pointed to a class called “Negotiation and Mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Past Lessons and Future Opportunities” as an example of a differing perspective of the Israel-Palestinian conflict provided by the university.

When the Fix confronted Abowd on if he would ensure that his class wouldn’t turn into “a one-sided, anti-Israel screed,” Abowd replied, “Do not contact me again or I will call the police.”

Other instances of hostility to Israel on Tufts includes a September 2017 “disorientation” guide created by students that called Israel a “white supremacy state”; in April 2017 the university’s student senate passed a resolution on the day before Passover calling for Tufts to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel.

H/T: Campus Reform

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.”

Richard Greene: How One or Two Words Can Change Your Life

One of the world’s leading experts on public speaking, Richard Greene, explains why people fear public speaking more than death, and discusses the abuse of language in the era of Trump. Visit his website.

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Check out this episode!

Israel Defense Minister Calls on Gazans to Overthrow Hamas

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is using the recent calm between Israel and Hamas to urge Gazans to overthrow the terror group, arguing that the “peace and quiet” is preferable to Hamas’ constant state of warfare.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Lieberman announced that the Kerem Shalom crossing and a fishing area near the Gaza coast were going to be re-opened, saying that it shows Gazans that “peace and quiet are worth it.”

“The residents of Gaza have much to gain when the citizens of Israel enjoy peace and security, and much to lose when quiet is disturbed,” Lieberman wrote.

Lieberman added that he hopes Gazans realize “that Israel is not the problem, but rather the solution.”

“The problem is the Hamas leadership, which uses civilians as live ammunition and as human shields,” Lieberman wrote.  “We hope for you, the residents of Gaza, that all of the budgets of Hamas and the international community will be channeled towards your welfare and to the development of the Gaza Strip, instead of to terrorism.”

After a recent escalation between Israel and Hamas, there has been relative calm on the border of Israel and Gaza Strip, although a long-term ceasefire agreement has yet to be reached.

The Times of Israel reports that the re-opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing and the fishing was part of a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas negotiated by Egypt and the United Nations.

However, Israel maintains that no long-term ceasefire agreement can be reached until Hamas agrees to releasing the four Israeli soldiers they have held captive since 2014, two of whom are dead.

University of Arizona Hires Hezbollah Supporter to Teach Course on Politics

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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.

The Secrets of Artisanal Israeli Ice Cream


Sure you can walk into an ice cream shoppe and finagle mini-tastes on a psychedelic plastic spoon. And yes, Ben and Jerry’s offers a factory tour and also hosts an annual free ice cream day in the US. Certainly, wine, beer, and chocolate tastings flood food blogs and calendars.

However, the Leichman home at Kibbutz Gezer — surrounded by corn fields and grape vines — may be one of the few places in the world where you can sample the intricacies of ice cream flavors, textures, ingredients, and processing. Led by David Leichman, artisanal ice cream maker since the early ‘70’s, these demonstrations are drawing several visitor groups a week to the kibbutz, Israelis and tourists alike eager to spoon up Leichman’s latest treats at the dining room table.

Tantalizing Tasting
Organized like a feast, seven main course flavors preceded a chocolate (ice cream) “dessert,” followed by coffee-flavored ice cream, topped by an after dinner mint-flavored ice cream. Madagascar vanilla mixed with Harvey Bristol Cream Sherry kicked off the series, followed by two fruit flavors, banana and seasonal Santa Rosa plum. Then we indulged in two offerings based on ground butters, first pistachio, then sesame. What Leichman calls his signature flavor, Oakland 1905, captures the creamsicle flavor of orange, first concocted in Oakland, California in 1905. He adds some chocolate slivers. Salted caramel finished off the mains, each one delivered with a flourish from the kitchen by Rabbi Gold.

Each flavor consists of natural ingredients, home made by Leichman without chemicals or purchased syrups, using recipes/formulations he himself developed. “The secret of my ice cream is that I have no secrets,” Leichman says. So he teaches his theory of ice cream making but not recipes because everyone’s palate for sweetness and flavor differ. He admits to using “MESS” in each batch: milk, egg, sugar, salt, plus often a liqueur. While he has hosted tastings for commercial and industrial chocolate makers in Israel, he recognizes that they can not replicate his process in a business setting. That includes attention to the consistency of the ice cream. Transferring it from a hard freezer to a slightly softer freezer the day prior to our visit makes the firmness just right.

Chocolate Mini-Chips Only
Leichman attends to the chocolate as he does to every other element in the ice cream preparation. He prefers a French chocolate, which he sources through Tishbi in northern Israel. He chops the chocolate into small pieces because he wants it to be part of the ice cream, and not a leftover chunk after the ice cream has melted in your mouth. “If you want chocolate after you eat ice cream, I’ll give you a piece of quality chocolate,” he admonishes with a smile. “Add-ins don’t really make a better ice cream. Maybe they make a better dessert.”

Leich Cream
Leichman trained as a chef with other prospective olim at Laney College in Northern California in order to have practical skills when they made aliyah, and once settled in the kibbutz, he ran the communal kitchen for many years. But ice cream was always his passion, since childhood. His lunch money bought ice cream sandwiches instead of food, and he dressed as an ice cream man distributing frozen treats at his Bar Mitzvah celebration. For him, a good week means he eats ice cream at least 3 times a day, in a bad week only once a day. When I pressed him about his favorite flavor, he demurred, unable to choose one over the others.

Explaining the revolutions in Israeli food, Leichman recalled the limited options of the pioneering days. “There used to be only two types of cheese in Israel, white or yellow; only white or black bread; only white or red wine.” Now, there is also more than vanilla or chocolate ice cream, thanks in no small measure to David Leichman and his Leich Creams.

This article was cross posted from the Forward.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and Judaism around the world based on stories from her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao” (second edition, Jewish Lights). She co-curated the exhibit “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” for Temple Emanu-El’s Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum, New York City, now available to travel to your community.

Corbyn Ties Ceremony Honoring Terrorists to ‘Peace Process’

Photo from Flickr.

Photos recently unearthed by the UK Daily Mail showed UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn laying a wreath at a 2014 Tunisia ceremony commemorating the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics. Corbyn told Channel 4 News that he did so to “have a peace process.”

Channel 4’s Clare Fallon asked if he laid a wreath on or nearby the graves of the terrorists, prompting Corbyn to respond that the terrorists were killed in Israeli operations in Paris and Beirut that resulted in others dying “who were not involved in” the 1972 massacre, such as Yasser Arafat’s deputy, Abu Yusuf.

“I, along with other colleagues who were delegates at the conference, laid a wreath in memory of all those that have died in the hope that we have a peace process and peace in the future,” Corbyn said, “so those raids are never repeated.”

Corbyn added that “the way forward is of peace” and “dialogue” instead of “bombing” or “shooting civilians in Gaza.”

The Labour Party leader was asked again if he laid down a wreath; he responded that the wreath was in honor of those that died in the 1985 Israeli strike on Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters. Fallon pressed again on if the wreath was laid nearby the Munich terrorists and Corbyn said it was laid for “all those that had died.”

Corbyn was then asked if he took part in laying that wreath, and he replied by saying he “totally condemned” the 1972 Munich massacre.

Fallon eventually asked Corbyn if he ever “laid a wreath at the graves of Israelis who were killed in Palestinian attacks.”

“I’ve met many people from the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, over the years,” Corbyn responded. “I’ve indeed visited the Knesset and I met visiting Israeli delegations into Britain and, of course, anybody killed in this awful conflict has to be mourned.”

However, The Israel Project’s Julie Lenarz noted in National Review, “Corbyn time and again has missed opportunities to meet with Israeli delegates and boycotted events with Israeli officials in attendance.”

In response to Corbyn, The UK Daily Mail showed a layout of the graves to argue that the photos do indeed show that Corbyn was at the graves of the Munich terrorists, not those that died in the 1985 strike against PLO headquarters.

The controversy appears to be taking a toll on Corbyn, as in another recent interview he is seen rolling his eyes in response to a question about the wreath. He has refused to apologize for attending the ceremony.

Corbyn is also under fire over an unearthed image of him giving the Muslim Brotherhood salute at a mosque in February.

 

Minnesota Congressional Democratic Candidate: ‘Israel Has Hypnotized the World’

Screenshot from Twitter.

One of the Democratic candidates in a Minnesota congressional race has a history of anti-Israel statements, most notably that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”

Ilhan Omar is a Somalian woman who came to the United States through a Kenyan refugee camp at the age of 12 and was elected to the Minnesota House in 2016; she is currently running for Congress in the district vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is running for Minnesota attorney general and has past associations with Louis Farrakhan. As she is gaining notoriety, some of her past tweets on Israel are coming under scrutiny.

In 2012, Omar tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evils of Israel.” When someone on Twitter accused Omar of being “a proud Jew hater” over the tweeted, Omar responded:

Additionally, in 2017, Omar voted against a bill in the Minnesota House that outlawed state vendors and contractors from engaging in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“As many of you know I come from Africa and I wasn’t old enough to know all that was happening in South Africa when the apartheid was prevalent there, when South Africa was apartheid state,” Omar said on the floor of the House. “But I remember my grandfather talking to me about the stories of apartheid South Africa and telling me how that conversation shifted because so many people of conscience, so many people who understood that it was obviously for countries to continue to support South Africa have decided that they were going to engage in boycotts of that government so that that system would go down.”

Omar added that while she is “certainly saddened by the rise of anti-Semitism,” she had to vote against the bill because “what governments do and what is based in systems are very different.”

“I would love to have voted for a bill that would have expanded our ideals of fighting against discrimination and being a body that actually stood up against all discrimination,” Omar said. “I don’t want to be part of a vote that limits the ability of people to fight toward that justice and peace.”

In the foreign policy issues section of her website, Omar expresses her support of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and states that she wants to “uplift the voices of Palestinians demanding an end to the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and end the siege of Gaza” and is against “the killing of civilians in Gaza and the expansion of settlements into the West Bank.”

Omar has been endorsed by Democratic congressional candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.

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

MP Corbyn Attended 2014 Ceremony Honoring Munich Terrorists

Screenshot from Twitter.

After pictures emerged over the weekend of Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn attending a wreath-laying ceremony honoring the Palestinian terrorists behind the 1972 Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics, Corbyn admitted on August 13 that he attended due to his desire to end terrorism.

Here are the pictures from the 2014 ceremony in Tunisia that were unearthed by the UK Daily Mail:

Initially, the Labour Party denied that Corbyn had taken part in the ceremony, claiming instead that he was at a memorial honoring 47 Palestinians that died in a 1985 airstrike in Tunisia. However:

But Corbyn is now admitting he attended the memorial for the 1972 Munich terrorists, although he’s claiming that he “was actually involved in” in the laying of the wreath.

“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere, because we have to end it,” Corbyn told Sky News. “You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. The only way you pursue peace is by a cycle of dialogue.”

Corbyn’s explanation was not enough for Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, whose husbands died in the massacre, as they pointed out to Jewish News that Corbyn has yet to visit “the graves of our murdered fathers, sons and husbands.”

“For Mr Corbyn to honour these terrorists is the ultimate act of maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity,” Spitzer and Romano said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against Corbyn for attending the 2014 ceremony:

Corbyn responded:

Netanyahu’s reference of Corbyn’s Israel-Nazi comparison appears to be in regards to a clip of Corbyn in 2013 stating at the Palestinian Return Centre that the Israeli “occupation” in the West Bank is equivalent to the “many people in Europe who suffered occupation during the Second World War, with the endless road blocks, imprisonment, irrational behavior by the military and the police.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, 11 Palestinian terrorists who were part of the “Black September” faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) committed the 1972 massacre. Five of the terrorists initially took nine of the Israeli Olympic athletes hostage, demanding that Israel release 200 Arab prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

The plan was for the Germans to have hidden gunmen to kill the Palestinian terrorists when they came to release the Israelis at a NATO airbase, but there was just one problem – the Germans had been anticipating five Palestinian terrorists, but eight had shown up. The Germans still attempted to kill the Palestinian terrorists, but in the midst of the fight the terrorists murdered all nine of the Israeli hostages.

H/T: UK Independent

Episode 102 – Bannon’s Canons and the Nation-State Bill

Photo by Raheem Kassam.

Behind every great man stands a great political strategist. As far as political earthquakes go, Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 was at least an 8 on the Richter scale. Right up until the last second, no one saw it coming. But a few people were probably less surprised than most of us and one of them is surely Steve Bannon.

Considered by many to be the architect of Trump’s rise to the White House, Bannon is certainly a controversial figure. To most, he’s a either the despicable leader of the Alt-right or the savior of American pride and nationalism. And to the rest, he’s an enigma. Luckily, we’ve got Gadi Taub.

About a month ago, Dr. Taub, a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was able to sit down for about 2 hours with the man himself. You can find his in-depth analysis piece on the Haaretz website.

Although Bannon’s been dismissed from the administration, it seems that he might be the key to understanding the currents of change that took place and that are continuing to take place in America, as well as the Jews’ place in all this mess.

We’re thrilled to welcome back Gadi to the podcast to disambiguate Bannonism for us once and for all.

AMCHA Report: Anti-Israel Harassment ‘More Likely’ to Create Hate Toward Jews on Campus Than ‘Classic Anti-Semitism’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from the AMCHA Initiative has determined that anti-Israel harassment on college campuses in 2017 were more likely to create an antagonistic environment against Jewish students on campus than “classic” anti-Semitic incidents.

AMCHA concluded that while “classic anti-Semitic incidents” such as two swastikas drawn on a library desk at Macalester College vastly outnumbered the anti-Israel incidents (205 to 71), only 23% showed “intent to harm” while 94% of anti-Israel incidents showed such intent.

Of that 94% of anti-Israel acts, 76% involved the “personal targeting” of pro-Israel students, with some examples being Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) targeting the Claremont Progressive Jewish Alliance president at Pomona College as “a proud racist” on social media based on her support of Israel and a handbook created by anti-Israel activists on Tufts University campus claiming that by supporting Israel, Hillel is endorsing “a white supremacist state.”

Forty-four percent of the anti-Israel acts with intent to harm involved attempts to censor pro-Israel speech, such as when anti-Israel students attempted to prevent people from entering a speech by Israeli United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon at Columbia University; the anti-Israel students also heckled Danon several times throughout the speech.

“When Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Mr. Danny Danon, came to speak at an SSI event, BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activists blocked the entrance to the auditorium, physically preventing people from entering and intimidating those who managed to get in,” a Columbia student told AMCHA. “During the ambassador’s 25-minutes speech, the BDS activists disrupted him seven times with calls to Boycott Israel…the BDS activists’ message was clear: The only freedom of speech worthy of protection is their own. Those who disagree, or dispute their view of the world, would be violently disrupted.”

AMCHA also determined that anti-Israel incidents with intent to harm were “6.5 times more likely to have multiple perpetrators than classic anti-Semitic incidents with harmful intent, and 7 times more likely to have perpetrators with affiliations to on-campus or outside groups.”

“Taken together these data suggest that in 2017, Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents were considerably more likely to 16 contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students than incidents involving classic anti-Semitism,” the report concludes.

The AMCHA report included some student testimonials as well.

“For every swastika, there’s a million little conversations that go on that are much more harmful than that,” a William and Mary College student said. “Everyone can get behind, ‘Alright, there’s a swastika. That’s ridiculous, that’s not OK. But for the little conversations that are more political in nature people just assume that it’s OK to say, ‘Well, you’re a Zionist, so I don’t like you,’ and that’s part of our culture.”

A UC Davis student told AMCHA, “I’ve had foul and intolerable words yelled at me while I’m studying because I had a sticker of Israel on my laptop. When Arab-Israeli Diplomat George Deek came to speak on campus, anti-Semitic students shouted, ‘Death to Jews’ at my friends and me. I’ve known Jewish students who are afraid to speak up in class against anti-Semitic professors because they’re afraid of what might happen to their academic reputations.”

Additionally, a University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana student told AMCHA that anti-Israel students have compared Zionists “to the KKK, to violent fascists and accused of perpetuating white supremacy all because we believe that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination.”

The report argues that such anti-Israel sentiments are often allowed to grow on college campuses due to many administrators looking the other way.

“University administrators rarely recognize anti-Zionist harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination, because they see it as motivated by political considerations rather than ethnic or religious ones,” the report states. “In addition, when acts of classic antisemitism occur on campus, many in the campus community are sympathetic with Jewish students and stand in solidarity with them, but this is not the case when acts of anti-Zionist harassment occur. Few in the campus community are sympathetic to the plight of pro-Israel students, and many are even complicit in creating a hostile environment for them.”

Read the full report here.

Critics of Nation-State Law Misunderstand Israel’s Constitutional System

Israel’s new nation-state law has elicited a storm of criticism since it passed on July 19. Some of this criticism is justified; a law that manages to unite virtually the entire Druze community against it, despite this community’s longstanding support for Israel as a Jewish state in principle, clearly wasn’t drafted with sufficient care, as even the heads of two parties that backed the law (Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett and Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon) now admit. Nevertheless, much of the criticism stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of Israel’s constitutional system.

Israel doesn’t have a constitution. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court unilaterally accorded constitutional status. Many people, myself included, disagree with that decision, inter alia, because constitutional legislation should reflect a broad consensus, whereas many Basic Laws were approved by only narrow majorities or even minorities of the Knesset. Nevertheless, both sides in this dispute agree on one thing: Each Basic Law is merely one article in Israel’s constitution or constitution-to-be. They cannot be read in isolation, but only as part of a greater whole.

Consequently, it’s ridiculous to claim that the nation-state law undermines democracy, equality or minority rights merely because those terms don’t appear in it, given that several other Basic Laws already address these issues. The new law doesn’t supersede the earlier ones; it’s meant to be read in concert with them.

Several Basic Laws, including those on the Knesset, the government and the judiciary, detail the mechanisms of Israeli democracy and enshrine fundamental democratic principles like free elections and judicial independence. There are also two Basic Laws on human rights, both of which explicitly define Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”

Of these human rights laws, the more important is the 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. It includes general protections like, “There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such” and “All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity,” as well as specific protections for liberty, property and privacy. Though the law doesn’t mention “equality” or “minority rights,” the courts have consistently interpreted it as barring discrimination on the eminently reasonable grounds that discrimination fundamentally violates a person’s dignity (the one exception, which all legal systems make, is if discrimination has pertinent cause, like barring pedophiles from teaching).

It’s ridiculous to claim that the nation-state law undermines democracy, equality or minority rights merely because those terms don’t appear in it, given that several other Basic Laws already address these issues.

Granted, there are things this law can’t do, such as breaking the rabbinate’s monopoly on marriage and divorce, because it explicitly grandfathers all pre-existing legislation. But it applies to all legislation passed after 1992.

Thus to argue that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn’t mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Everyone understands that the Constitution’s provisions on governmental power aren’t supposed to be read in isolation, but in concert with the first 10 amendments, so there’s no need to reiterate those rights in every other article. Similarly, the nation-state law isn’t meant to be read in isolation, but only in concert with other Basic Laws enshrining Israel’s democratic system and basic human rights. Thus there’s no reason for it to reiterate protections already found in those other laws.

Nor are any of the law’s specific provisions undemocratic. For instance, the provision stating, “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” doesn’t deprive Arabs of individual rights within Israel, nor does it bar the possibility of Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza, which aren’t part of the State of Israel. The only thing it prohibits is an Arab state within Israel’s borders, which is problematic only if you favor replacing Israel with another Arab state.

As for the provision making Hebrew the state’s only official language, many other democracies also have a single official language despite having large minorities with different mother tongues. For instance, 17 percent of the United States’ population is Hispanic, only slightly less than the 21 percent of Israel’s population that’s Arab, yet Spanish isn’t an official language in the U.S., and few people would argue that this makes it undemocratic.

Indeed, Israel’s new law goes much further than many other democracies in guaranteeing minority language rights, thanks to one provision according Arabic “special status” and another stating that nothing in the law “undermines the status enjoyed by the Arabic language in practice before this Basic Law came into effect.” The latter provision actually preserves Arabic’s status as an official language de facto. It may have been stupid not to preserve it de jure, as well, but “stupid” isn’t the same as “undemocratic.”

All of the above explains why even the heads of the Israel Democracy Institute — a left-leaning organization usually harshly critical of the current government — said at a recent media briefing  that the law “doesn’t change anything practically,” “won’t change how the country is run” and is merely “symbolic and educational.”

The law was meant to solve a specific constitutional problem: The courts have frequently interpreted the Jewish half of “Jewish and democratic” at a “level of abstraction so high that it becomes identical to the state’s democratic nature,” as former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak famously said. Yet no definition of “Jewish” can be complete without recognizing that Judaism has particularist, as well as universal, aspects because it’s the religion of a particular people with a particular history, culture and traditions. By emphasizing some of those particularist aspects, the law is supposed to restore the intended balance between the Jewish and democratic components of Israel’s identity. But it doesn’t eliminate those democratic components, which are enshrined in numerous other Basic Laws, nor was it intended to do so.

I’m skeptical that the law will achieve its intended purpose, but I see no good reason why it shouldn’t exist in principle. Israel isn’t just a generic Western democracy; it’s also the world’s only Jewish state. And its constitution-in-the-making should reflect both halves of its complex identity.


Evelyn Gordon is a journalist and commentator living in Israel.

Two Palestinians Dead in Gaza Riots

Screenshot from Twitter.

August 10 marks the 20th week of the weekly Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border, prompting a riot that has so far resulted in two Palestinians dead and more than 300 are injured, according to Palestinian media.

According to the Israel Defense Force (IDF), there were 9,000 Palestinians rioting and hurling projectiles at IDF soldiers, as well as attempting to breach the Israel-Gaza fence:

Per usual, the riots featured Palestinians launching fiery kites into Israel, according to the Times of Israel (TOI).

The Jerusalem Post reports that the rioter who attempted to breach the fence “immediately backtracked into the Gaza Strip. According to TOI, Hamas’ Gaza Health Ministry is claiming that one of the dead Palestinians was a 25-year-old journalist.

The riots began in March and was dubbed by Hamas as a “March of Return” to protest Israel and to bring attention to the Palestinian cause. But Hamas’ intentions seem to be more sinister than that.

“The march has two distinct strategies,” the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) website states. “The first, through the outwardly peaceful, civilian elements of the demonstration, is to raise international awareness of the plight of Gazans and Palestinians. The second, through the militants who are attempting to approach and attack the border line, is to use the demonstrators as human shields for the group’s terrorist ambitions, as well as to provoke a strong Israeli response that will garner headlines and support for their efforts.”

Iran, a Hamas ally, is also reportedly funding the riots.

Hamas has vowed to continue to incite such riots, even as they are claiming there is a ceasefire between them and Israel.

Video: Israeli Child Recalls When Hamas Rockets Hit His Home

Screenshot from Twitter.

StandWithUs posted a video of an Israeli boy sharing the details of a Hamas rocket striking his home while he’s in a room with his dad, who was hospitalized in the strike.

The boy, identified in the video as Shalev Levy, said that when the first rocket alarm went off, he and his dad, Avi, stayed in a bomb shelter; when it ended Avi went outside.

Suddenly, another rocket alarm sounded and then Shalev heard a “boom.”

“When I went out to see what was happening, I saw that in my sister’s room there was a smoke and fire and I went to the living room and dad shouted and told me to leave the house quickly,” Shalev said. “When he said that I saw that his arm was bleeding.”

The video ends with Shalev saying that he used a cloth to bandage his father’s arm and then asked his neighbors for help.

According to the UK Guardian, Hamas and other Gaza terror group launched more than 180 projectiles into Israel; Israel has responded with 150 airstrikes into Gaza. Three Palestinians have died and numerous Israelis have been injured.

Hamas is claiming that there is a ceasefire agreement between them and Israel; Israel is denying this but acknowledged “that quiet would be met with quiet,” per the Times of Israel.

To get an idea of the constant barrage of threats those in southern Israel have to had to deal with lately:

Oshrit Sabag, who resides in Nahal Oz, told the Guardian, “We’re mostly scared that there will be another war. We’ve had tens of fires. Houses were burnt. Now rockets and mortar bombs. It’s chaos.”

Gaza Judge Says That ‘Jihad’ Against Israel Is an ‘Individual Duty’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Gaza Judge Omar Nofal, who serves on Gaza’s Sharia court, said on Hamas TV on August 8 that “jihad” against Israel is an individual duty.

Nofal’s interview on Hamas TV, translated by MEMRI, begins with Nofal hyping the “72 Virgins of Paradise” as well as “the crown of honor” that martyrs earn in the afterlife.

“How can anyone cling to this world after hearing all of these great rewards?” Nofal said. “You can see that our young people have renounced life in this world, and hastened (to become martyrs).”

Nofal claimed that this is one of the reasons why “the Palestinian people have emerged victorious in all battles.”

“You can see that when the rockets are raining down, our young people march toward martyrdom,” Nofal said. “On the other hand, as soon as our enemies hear the siren – I’m talking about sirens and balloons, not rockets – when they hear the sirens, all of them – the police, the civil defense and, the soldiers – throw themselves to the ground and have a panic attack.”

Toward the end of the clip, Nofal states, “Regarding the situation in Palestine, I say that jihad is an individual duty incumbent upon the entire nation. Nobody is allowed to forsake this jihad.”

Nofal’s comments come amidst Hamas shooting rockets and fiery kites and balloons into Israel. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon is calling on the U.N. to put the full responsibility on the escalation in violence on Hamas.

“Alarms have once again shattered the hope of the children of southern Israel for a quiet summer vacation – no country would tolerate such a situation,” Danon said. “The international community must condemn Hamas and place the responsibility for this unacceptable onslaught on the terrorist organization”

Latest from Gaza: Hanging by a Thread

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

On Thursday afternoon, a rocket from Gaza hit the city of Beer Sheeba for the first time since the Gaza war of 2014. This was an escalation of an already tense situation, after a long day and night of fire — an escalation of potentially grave consequences. Israel was forced to make two quick decisions. The first one: How to respond to this provocation? The second: Should an international soccer match, scheduled for this evening in Beer Sheeba, be canceled?

The decisions Israel made could seem contradictory. The match was to be played; the military response was to be immediate and high profile. So, as Israel was taking the risk of having thousands of people under the threat of rockets during a soccer match, it also sent the Israeli Air Force to take down a building in the center of Gaza.

In the last war, taking down two high rises in Gaza was the last straw that led to a ceasefire. It was a message: From now on, if the war doesn’t stop, all hell will break loose.

Today, taking down a building was meant to prevent a war that hasn’t yet started, but could start very soon. Israel does not want this war, but cannot tolerate for much longer the drip drop of fire from Gaza. Thus, it is now in Hamas’ hands.

The building went down in flames. Hamas surely got the message. If this message doesn’t sink in, there could be only one reason for it: Hamas wants war.

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

Screenshot from Facebook.

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.

This Video Captures the Terror of Hamas Rockets

Screenshot from Twitter.

A video has been circulating on social media that captures the terror that Israelis endure when Hamas launches rockets at them.

The video shows a Hamas rocket in the air that explodes, and then proceeds to show the chaos of Israeli children screaming and attempting to be herded into a bomb shelter:

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the Times of Israel, Hamas launched eight rockets at Israel; two of them struck the town of Sderot – where the video was taken – causing severe damages to numerous vehicles, a home and an apartment building.

Three Israelis were also injured from the strikes, none of which are believed to be serious. Two pregnant women went into premature labor as a result of the rockets and eight other Israelis were taken to the hospital to be treated for anxiety attacks.

There was more:

Additionally, terrorists from the Gaza Strip ignited at least 11 fires throughout southern Israel that had to be extinguished by Israeli firefighters.

The rockets and arson attacks came a day after Hamas announced they would seek revenge for the Israeli military reportedly killing two Hamas snipers.

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.

Howard Rosenman: Award-Winning Producer Opens Up

What’s it like to be a gay Israel lover in Hollywood? To act with Sean Penn? To be on top of your game at 74? Hollywood wunderkind Howard Rosenman shares his life’s scoops.

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Kuwait Airways Agrees to Pay for Israeli Blocked From Buying Ticket

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay an Israeli woman a “substantial” amount in damages after the airline prevented her from buying a plane ticket because she’s Israeli.

According to a press release from The Lawfare Project, the Kuwait Airways can be seen on video telling the woman, Mandy Blumenthal, “Israeli passport holders are not permitted to travel on Kuwait Airways.” Blumenthal responded by filing a lawsuit against Kuwait Airways under claims of racial discrimination and harassment.

“It is horrible to be singled out, to be told you are not allowed to do something because of who you are,” Blumenthal said in the press release. “Having someone telling me that he is following instructions, that it is a rule, a policy gave me a sinking feeling inside. In my mind, it is an anti-Semitic policy to single out the only Jewish State to boycott.”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said, “It’s hard to believe that in 2018, an airline operating at Heathrow can ban passengers on no other basis than their nationality. Kuwait Airways should be made to choose: either give up your racist, anti-Semitic policy or cease operating out of Heathrow. The airline’s discriminatory policy should have no place in a free society.”

Even though Kuwait Airways is refusing to accept liability with this agreement, one of Blumenthal’s attorneys, David Berens, argued that the precedent has been set to abolish Kuwait Airways policy against providing flights to Israelis altogether.

“The law is clear: direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal,” Berens said. “Ms. Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways’ illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether.’”

As the Journal has previously reported, Kuwait’s government prohibits Kuwait Airways from providing flights to Israelis as part of the 1945 Arab League boycott. The United States concluded in 2015 that the airline was in violation of U.S. law with its policy against Israelis.

Hamas Leadership Reportedly Agrees to Possible Ceasefire With Israel – With Conditions

Sebastian Scheiner /Pool via Reuters

Hamas leadership has reportedly agreed to a possible five-to-10-year ceasefire agreement with Israel. However, Israel has signaled that they will only sign onto an agreement in which Hamas releases Israeli soldiers they have held captive since 2014.

According to the Times of Israel, Egypt hammered out a ceasefire agreement that will re-open the Refah border crossing with Egypt as well as loosen restrictions on the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel. The agreement would also hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority and hold elections in six months, which would be the first time they would be held in Gaza since 2006.

The agreement would also set forth humanitarian efforts for Gaza and begin negotiations with Israel over the Israeli soldiers that have been held captive in Gaza.

Hamas’ leadership agreed to the deal, and an Israeli official is reportedly going to Qatar to talk about enforcement of the deal, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the family of Oron Shaul, one of the deceased Israeli soldiers held captive by Hamas, in a letter, “For the deal to have practical and moral validity, its first stipulation must be the release of our sons…. A deal without the return of our sons is a surrender that only serves as evidence of our country’s weakness.”

Most recently, Hamas has been terrorizing Israel by launching rockets and incendiary kites and balloons into Israel and organizing riots at the Israel-Gaza border to breach the fence.

Egypt had previously brokered a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas on July 14, but the ceasefire was ignored by Hamas, prompting Israel to retaliate.