Bob Dylan on Feb. 6, 2015. Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Bob Dylan to accept his Nobel Prize in Stockholm


American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan will accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm.

The Swedish Academy will hand over the Nobel diploma and Nobel medal in a “small and intimate” setting with no media present, Sara Danius, secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Wednesday in a blog post.

Dylan is scheduled to give two concerts in Stockholm over the weekend, and the academy “will show up at one of the performances,” Danius wrote. She added that no Nobel lecture will be delivered.

“The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point,” she wrote, adding: “At this point no further details are known.”

If Dylan does not deliver a lecture by June, he will forfeit the $927,740 prize, though he will still be considered the laureate.

After the announcement in October that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Dylan, who is publicity-shy, told the Swedish Academy that he would be unable to travel to Stockholm for the December ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize, citing “pre-existing commitments.”

Dylan’s prize was announced on Oct. 13 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The academy said later that after five days of trying to contact Dylan to inform him of the award, it had given up. Dylan acknowledged the prize two weeks later.

On Tuesday, the Helmerich Center for American Research at the Gilcrease Museum announced that the Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa has officially opened to qualified researchers. The archive includes documents and other items that chronicle 60 years of the musician’s career.

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman and raised Jewish in Minnesota, Dylan wrote some of the most influential and well-known songs of the 1960s. His hits include “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Dylan, 75, was the first artist seen primarily as a songwriter to win the literature award, a fact that has stirred debate in literary circles.

Ami Horowitz signing New Yorkers to a fake petition in support of police officers in 2016. Photo courtesy of Horowitz.

Meet the gonzo Jewish filmmaker behind Trump’s fake news on Sweden


Pressed to explain his false claim that something terrible had happened in Sweden last week, President Donald Trump traced the canard back to the reporting of Ami Horowitz, a gonzo Jewish-American filmmaker who spoke about Sweden’s problem with Muslim immigrants on Fox News.

On Saturday, during a campaign-style speech in Florida on border security and immigrants, Trump urged listeners to “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” leading to widespread puzzlement and mockery from Swedes who said no terrorist attack had taken place there the previous day or even recently.

Karl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, wondered on Twitter what Trump “is smoking,” and the Aftonbladet paper ran a daily roundup from Friday featuring nothing more sinister than a small northern avalanche.

Later Saturday afternoon, Trump indicated that the only thing that happened Friday is that he caught Horowitz talking about Sweden on Fox News.

The president’s reference was arguably a breakthrough for Horowitz, focusing rare international attention on Sweden’s immigrant crime debate, which Horowitz has spent considerable — and controversial — efforts investigating.

In his Fox News interview Horowitz, a former investment banker turned activist with a camera, claimed violent crime by refugees was out of control in Sweden and that the government there is covering up reports of rape to protect “vulnerable” migrants.

Coming amid a polarizing debate about the millions of immigrants arriving in Europe from the war-torn Middle East and Africa, the comments by Trump touched off a discussion about the president’s shaky handle on the facts.

But, Horowitz told JTA, it also “put a spotlight on the main issue: Sweden’s problems with immigration and crime. Which is positive.”

Horowitz has also reported on what he and others call Sweden’s “no-go zones” – areas that are densely populated by mostly Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East that many native Swedes, and Jews especially, avoid for fear of harassment and robbery.

A 43-year-old father of two, Horowitz last year went filming in a no-go zone in the Stockholm neighborhood of Husby, where he recorded an alleged assault on himself by several Arab speakers who objected to his filming on the street.

“My crew ran off when they approached, but since I was miked we have the first few seconds of the attack,” Horowitz, a Los Angeles native who lives in New York, told the Daily Mail. “They repeatedly punched, kicked and choked me as a number of bystanders watched. Eventually they dragged me into a building, which at the time I assumed was to finish me off.” Horowitz ultimately was released.

On Monday, violence erupted in another no-go zone, Rinkeby, where locals torched several cars after police arrested a man there, the Dagens Nyheter daily reported.

Horowitz, a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign, describes himself as “at times conservative, at other times liberal.” He said the incident in Husby was not his first close call while making films that offer a hard look at liberal causes or defend Israel.

In 2016, he took an 11-hour road trip in the West Bank to counter claims that Israeli security forces restrict movement there. At a crossing point into Israel, an adrenaline-filled Horowitz was filmed throwing rocks back at Palestinians who hurled them at him and others waiting to enter.

In 2009, while filming a prickly documentary about the U.N. double standard on Israel and other issues, he traveled to war-torn Cote D’Ivoire to investigate incidents in which U.N. soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators. In the same film, Horowitz seized the microphone at the controversial 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, telling attendees that they should be “embarrassed and ashamed” by their anti-Israel bias. The incident was also captured on tape by JTA.

And in 2015, he sailed with Syrian immigrants infiltrating Europe across the Aegean Sea, reporting that he saw an ISIS recruiter attempting to recruit some of the would-be newcomers.

In 2014, he filmed the reactions of students at the University of California, Berkeley, as he variously waved Israeli and ISIS flags on campus; students are shown ignoring the ISIS flag but reacting angrily to Israel’s. In another film he asked New Yorkers to sign a petition titled “Cops’ Lives Matter.”

Initially, Horowitz’s no-go experience in Sweden generated little attention in the country, where “mainstream media tend to not report the ethnicity of perpetrators of crimes,” according to an employee of the Swedish Migration Board who spoke to JTA on Tuesday on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired.

But Trump’s remarks focused intense attention in Sweden to the link between crime rates in the country of 9 million and its admittance since 2013 of more than 300,000 asylum seekers mainly from Muslim countries.

Sweden had been one of the most welcoming nations in Europe to refugees, but in 2016 drastically cut back on asylum quotas. The government said it was over housing issues.

Some have cited Sweden to defend Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Some regard Sweden as an inspiring role model for its efforts to resettle asylum seekers. But others see it as a failed experiment, and say it has contributed to an unprecedented rise in the popularity of far-right anti-Islam parties that are riding a wave of discontent over the arrival of unskilled immigrants at a time of economic stagnation.

As for Sweden’s 20,000 Swedish Jews, they have seen an explosion of hate crimes against members of their community in recent years. Dozens of incidents are documented annually in Malmo alone, a southern city with only 1,000 Jews where a third of the population of 300,000 are Muslims.

Trump’s remark also exposed Horowitz to criticism for his gonzo style of journalism, which owes more to Michael Moore and “The Daily Show” than CNN. In the past he has filmed interviews without permission, provoked onlookers’ reactions with outrageous stunts  and edited footage to ridicule interviewees. Horowitz defends his methodology as accurate, though he admits it is “confrontational and provocative.”

On Monday, two police officers he interviewed for his Sweden documentary, in which Horowitz claimed Muslims are overrepresented among perpetrators of criminal activity, said he edited their answers manipulatively. Horowitz denied the charge and attributed their reactions to pressure from their superiors.

In an op-ed published Tuesday by the Svenska Dagbladet, Linda Nordlund, a former chairwoman of the Liberal Youth of Sweden, criticized Horowitz for relying on anonymous sources in asserting that a majority of women waiting at a police station were there to report rape. She said Horowitz “is known for his xenophobic views” and that his report is “full of inaccurate statistics and innuendo.”

But in that same op-ed, Lund also said that Trump’s “false claims” and Horowitz’s “fake news” eclipse a necessary discussion on real problems – including the undisputed overrepresentation of foreigners in criminal activity. Authorities in Sweden do not publish precise data on the nationality or ethnicity of perpetrators, which the media also squelch.

Lund also noted an increase in sexual harassment in public swimming pools, though she wrote that Horowitz’s claims that rape is increasing are false.

Still, while there was a dip in the number of reported rapes in 2015, the average has risen in Sweden by 18 percent in the years 2011-2016 to an average of 6,341 cases annually, compared to 5,260 cases in the years 2006-2010, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. (Some attribute that to a change in the types of acts that can be classified as rape.)

“There’s been a lot of discussions about statistics, a lot of back and forth,” Horowitz said of the effects of his reporting in Sweden. “There’s a lot of disinformation but on the whole, this overdue discussion is a good thing for Sweden and Europe.”

Jewish doctor from New York co-recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Jewish physician and path-breaking biochemist from New York, has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Brian K. Kobilka, a researcher at California’s Stanford University.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 went to the scientists for “groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family … of receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors,” an Oct. 10 posting on the website of the Nobel Prize stated. Understanding how these receptors function helped further explain how cells could sense their environment, according to the text.

Lefkowitz –- who works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina — and Kobilka worked together to isolate and analyze a gene which led them to discover that “the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner,” the Nobel Prize website said.

Lefkowitz, 61, and Kobilka, 57, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee.

On Oct. 9. The Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm announced that Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, had won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 went to Dan Shechtman of Israel’s Technion.

In 2008, Lefkowitz received the US National Medal of Science. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported at the time that he was one of three American-Jewish recipients that year of the nation's highest honor in science and technology.

In an interview with Emily Harris which appeared this summer on the website of Duke University, Lefkowitz is quoted as saying: “I was clearly destined to be a physician, I dreamed about it from the third grade on. Wouldn’t trade that part of my experience in for anything. I LOVED medical school.” He also said: “I do regret that my dad died thinking I would be a practicing cardiologist, never dreaming what the future held for me.”

Lefkowitz's father, who died at the age of 63, “never got to see any of this play out,” Lefkowitz said.

Malmo police see no reason to call JCC attack a hate crime


Police in Malmo, Sweden, said they had “no indication” that a recent attack on the offices of the local Jewish community was a hate crime.

The police arrested and later released two 18-year-old men suspected of hurling a brick and a large firecracker at the entrance of the community’s offices on Sept. 28. The building sustained some damage but no one was hurt.

“The suspects never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime,” Anders Lindell, a Malmo police officer and spokesman, told JTA. He added that the suspects denied any involvement in the attack. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

Willy Silberstein of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, a Stockholm-based NGO, told JTA that he found the decision “very strange.”

“When such incidents are not classified as hate crimes, it does not add to the credibility of government figures on anti-Semitism,” he said.

Sweden has approximately 20,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress. Several hundred of them live in Malmo, according to Fredrik Sieradski, a spokesman for the Malmo Jewish congregation.

In 2011, The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported 190 anti-Semitic crimes in all of Sweden.

Nobel winner Shechtman stresses education, entrepreneurship


Accepting his Nobel Prize, Israel’s Dan Shechtman encouraged entrepreneurship among the young.

Shechtman, of the Haifa Technion, became the 10th Israeli to win the world’s most prestigious prize at Saturday’s annual Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Shechtman’s discovery of quasicrystals, long ridiculed by colleagues, “has created a new cross-disciplinary branch of science, drawing from, and enriching, chemistry, physics and mathematics. This is in itself of the greatest importance.”

“It has also given us a reminder of how little we really know and perhaps even taught us some humility,” said academy professor Sven Lidin.

Addressing the Nobel banquet, Shechtman said scientists have a duty “to promote education, rational thinking and tolerance.”

“We should also encourage our educated youth to become technological entrepreneurs. Those countries that nurture this knowhow will survive future financial and social crises. Let us advance science to create a better world for all,” he said.

Interviewed Sunday, Shechtman, 70, made clear he worried about education in Israel—specifically that of the haredi Orthodox sector, which sometimes places more a premium on religious studies than on core secular subjects.

“You can pray to the heavens, but it doesn’t put bread on the table or provide defense for the country,” he told Israel Radio.

Shechtman called for state funds to be denied to schools that neglect the core curriculum and for parents who deprive their children of a rounded education to be “punished under law.”

Swedish academics call for boycott of Israeli institutions


More than 200 professors and students from Sweden have signed on to a call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

The boycott petition was initiated by the Action Group for the Boycott of Israel at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

According to the petition, “Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. They cooperate closely with the security-military establishment. They offer advice to military intelligence and assist in developing weapon technologies for the Occupation forces. So far, none of the Israeli academic institutions have dissociated themselves from the occupation regime, or condemned the entrenched system of discrimination of Palestinians.”

The petition adds that the boycott is not aimed at individuals but against institutions. It calls on the Swedish academics to refuse to participate in collaborations with Israel universities; to refrain from attending academic activities at Israeli universities; to suspend all funding to Israeli universities; to promote divestment from Israel by academic institutions; and to foster initiatives that support Palestinian educational institutions.

The Royal Institute of Technology has an ongoing relationship with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, home to Israel’s latest Nobel Prize winner.

European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor slammed the boycott call.

“It is incongruous that in the week that an Israeli scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a group of Swedish academics are calling for a boycott of Israeli educational institutions,” Kantor said.

“This merely demonstrates that those who are involved with calling for boycotts against Israel are uninterested in the free transmission of values, education and progress.”