Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Survivors return to Auschwitz amid warnings of resurgent anti-Semitism

World leaders and Shoah survivors gather at site of former death camp to mark 70 years since liberation; EJC chief warns Europe is ‘close’ to a new exodus of Jews

By AFP in The Times of Israel

OSWIECIM, Poland — Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, ageing survivors gathered at the site synonymous with the Holocaust on Tuesday as world leaders sounded the alarm over a fresh wave of anti-Semitism.

French President Francois Hollande and his Czech counterpart echoed warnings by a leading Jewish organization, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg over violence against Jews in modern-day Europe.

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How did we end up cheering for Israel?

by Abdulrahman al-Rashed for AlArabiya.net

Many have cheered for the sudden Israeli strike which on Sunday killed six Hezbollah members and a general in the Iranian revolutionary guards who, for some reason, were secretly present in Syria's Quneitra.

The cheering expresses anger and indignation and many expressed frankly those feelings via social networking websites and we've even sensed those emotions even from sympathizers with Islamic groups.

This huge transformation of feelings against Hezbollah is due to the latter's heinous actions of targeting its rivals in Lebanon and its involvement in the killing of thousands in Syria. Those who shifted from admiring Hezbollah to hating the group did so in less than one decade.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

The New York Times and its Israel Bias

The Gray Lady's Blind Spot

by Richard A Block in The Jewish Daily Forward

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not confined to the battlefield. It is also waged in the media, nowhere more prominently than in The New York Times. In “The Conflict and the Coverage,” a November column she “never wanted to write,” Margaret Sullivan, Times Public Editor, addressed “hundreds of emails from readers on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, complaining about Times coverage.” Her verdict: a “strong impression” “that The Times does everything it can to be fair in its coverage and generally succeeds.” She was wrong.

A prime reason is the limited evidence Sullivan considered. “This column,” she wrote, “is restricted to news coverage and does not consider the opinion side offerings.” This ill-advised, self-imposed constraint doomed her effort from the outset. The Times’ “worldview” of the conflict is also revealed in its editorial page, headlines and storylines, and the Op-Ed columns it chooses to run.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who will obtain justice for Alberto Nisman?

Subject to relentless death threats, the brave investigator who proved Iran and Hezbollah orchestrated the 1994 AMIA bombing, the worst act of terrorism ever carried out in Argentina, has been found dead in his home in Buenos Aires. Decent people should be appalled

BY DAVID HOROVITZ for The Times of Israel
On August 14, 1993, in Mashad, Iran’s second-largest city, the Iranian leadership’s “Committee for Special Operations” or “Omure Vijeh Committee,” convened to discuss its ongoing problems with Argentina — and specifically the flamboyant president, Carlos Menem

Reorienting Argentina’s policy, moving his country closer to the West and to Israel, the Syrian-born Menem had severed the hitherto fruitful partnership between Buenos Aires and Tehran on all matters nuclear, first suspending and then terminating the training of Iranian nuclear technicians in Argentina and the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran.

Iran had brutally shown its fury at Menem’s betrayal in 1992, when it organized the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people were killed. The August 1993 meeting determined that a further terrorist assault on Menem’s country was necessary. A Buenos Aires-based Iranian “diplomat,” Mohsen Rabbani, had flown in for the meeting with a list of three potential targets. AMIA, the multi-story Jewish community center office building, was the first of the three to be discussed, and it was approved.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Why my grandfather – and my dad – marched in Selma

Rabbi Leon Jick heeded Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to action and set an example for future generations.

By Zoe Jick in Haaretz

My late grandfather, Leon Jick, a Reform rabbi and a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, was among the cohort of clergy who took an active role in the civil rights activism alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On June 18, 1964, my grandfather and several other rabbis were arrested in Saint Augustine, Florida for their participation in integrated prayer at a local restaurant. The group then penned a letter from jail titled "Why We Went."

Later, when Dr. King sounded the call for clergy to participate in the march in Selma, my grandfather not only made immediate travel arrangements, but also invited my 15-year-old father to join him. In doing so, my grandfather demonstrated that his own involvement was not enough: He wanted to set a dugma ishit, a personal example, to ensure that the allegiance he felt to the civil rights movement would be passed as a value to future generations.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

No more apologies for Israel

By Steve Frank for The Jerusalem Post

I have recently returned from a visit to Israel and can report that the state of the State of Israel is excellent.  How, one might ask, can this be when Israel fought another deadly round of war in Gaza just this past summer and random acts of terrorism in Jerusalem suggest another intifada may be imminent?  When the President of the United States inexplicably, but consistently, singles out Israel as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East?  The answer lies in my confidence that the people of Israel have the courage and wisdom to do what is necessary to ensure their own security - - regardless of what others may say or do.

Israel is the subject of severe criticism on many fronts.  It is attacked for its “occupation” of the West Bank, for its building of Jewish “settlements” in that territory, for its construction of a security wall to thwart terrorist attacks, and for its “disproportional” response to rockets fired from Gaza at its citizens - - just a few of the common charges directed at Israel.  It is characterized as a racist, apartheid society.

Of course, these, and other similar slanders against Israel are simply wrong as a matter of fact.  But I won’t go into a rebuttal of these baseless claims here or anywhere else for that matter.  I have come to believe that the time for an apologetic defense of the State of Israel is over.  Indeed, Naftali Bennett, a popular Israeli leader, recently launched a  pro-Israel “no apologies” media campaign.  I’m on board. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

65 Percent of Israeli Arabs Say They’re Proud to Be Israeli

By Evelyn Gordon, from evelyncgordon.com

It feels almost tasteless to be writing about good news while France is mourning a horrific terror attack. Yet there’s been so much good news from Israel over the last week that my biggest dilemma has been which item to pick. Having discussed immigration yesterday, it’s time to move onto Israel’s Arab minority–specifically, the stunning new Israel Democracy Institute survey in which 65 percent of Arab citizens said they were either “quite” or “very” proud to be Israeli in 2014, up from 50 percent the previous year.

To be fair, the poll was conducted between April 28 and May 29–meaning after the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian talks broke down, but before the summer’s war in Gaza, the shocking murder of an East Jerusalem teen by Jews, and other difficult events of the past several months. Thus had it been taken today, the number might well be lower.

Nevertheless, given the torrent of accusations of “racism” and “apartheid” that have been hurled at Israel for years now from both inside and outside the country, it’s quite remarkable to discover that as of eight months ago, 65 percent of Israeli Arabs were “proud” to be citizens of that “racist,” “apartheid” Jewish state, and 64 percent said they usually felt their “dignity as a human being is respected” in Israel. This raises the obvious question of whether perhaps Israeli Arabs know something about Israel that its detractors don’t.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kerry Links Rise of ISIS With Failed Peace Talks

Secretary of State: ‘I see a lot of heads nodding’

By Lee Smith for Tablet Magazine

Last week John Kerry’s peace process moved from its mannerist phase to something else—something very dangerous and destructive. At a State Department reception celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, Kerry said Israel was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State.

“As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition,” said Kerry, “there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt–and I see a lot of heads nodding–they had to respond to.”

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

No Jews Marry, But Jewish Customs Abound

At Cameron Diaz' wedding, breaking the glass, 7 blessings, Yichud -- will Jewish weddings be Hollywood's new fad?

Hannah Dreyfus, Staff Writer, The Jewish Week

Wondering what the choopla’s all about?

On Jan. 5 film star Cameron Diaz married Benji Madden, the guitarist for the popular punk rock band Good Charlotte, at her Beverly Hills home. Though neither Diaz or Madden appears to be a member of the Tribe (even though Madden’s middle name is Levi), the star-studded ceremony was unequivocally Jewish, according to US Weekly. Guess it was an easy job for wedding planner Yifat Oren.

1. Seven blessings under the chuppah. Can you get more textbook Jewish? The seven traditional blessings recited during every Jewish union were an integral part of the ceremony.

2. The breaking of the glass. As is custom in a Jewish ceremony, Madden stepped on and broke a glass to seal the deal as the crowd shouted, “Mazel Tov!” The ritual is performed to commemorate the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
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Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass

By Dennis B. Ross for the New York Times

WASHINGTON — The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, insists on using international institutions to pressure Israel, even after he was rebuffed in the United Nations Security Council, where he sought a resolution mandating Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr. Abbas has now announced that he will turn to the International Criminal Court — a move that will produce Palestinian charges and Israeli countercharges but not alter the reality on the ground.

A European official I met recently expressed sympathy for the Palestinians’ pursuit of a Security Council resolution. I responded by saying that if he favors Palestinian statehood, it’s time to stop giving the Palestinians a pass. It is time to make it costly for them to focus on symbols rather than substance.

Since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year. In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either “no” or no response. They determined that the cost of saying “yes,” or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.

Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations — which are by definition about mutual concessions — will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

10 Israeli tech ideas that changed the world in 2014

From cyber-security to environmental technology to web design, start-ups and veteran firms made quite an impact

By David Shamah, The Times of Israel

This is the time of year that tech sites and tech pros come out with their “top 10 of 2014” lists, and Israeli tech pundits are no different. But what does “best” mean? The company that got the most investments? The firms with the best exits? The ones that won the most international awards?

A list could be drawn up of Israeli tech companies for each of those categories, and most of those lists would find it challenging to limit themselves to just 10. But in the final analysis, the purpose of tech is not development for its own sake, but to solve problems – to help people live healthier, more productive, more prosperous, and easier lives.

Many Israeli tech firms have done just that, essentially transforming the way the world works today – and here, too, there are a lot more than 10. While what follows is by no means a comprehensive list, it is a good place to start. Some of these technologies you may be familiar with, and perhaps even use, while others may be less well-known – but all of them are having a major impact on the way the world does business, treats health problems, deals with environmental issues, or keeps its data safe.

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Monday, January 5, 2015

How Mario Cuomo Won Over Both Orthodox and Secular Jews

Teenage 'Shabbos Goy' Learned Vulnerability of the Faithful

By Ron Kampeas, The Jewish Daily Forward

Mario Cuomo, the three-term New York governor who died Thursday, was the rare politician who appealed to the Jewish tent’s opposite poles.

A strident liberal with a nuanced understanding of the sense of vulnerability among the deeply religious in a secular society, Cuomo died of heart failure just hours after his son Andrew was sworn in for his second term as governor. He was 82.

Lopsided Jewish support helped propel Cuomo into the governor’s office three times, in 1982, 1986 and 1990. The state’s large Jewish community joined other liberal constituencies in celebrating the man who emerged in the 1980s as the most prominent vanguard against President Ronald Reagan.

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Arabrew: Can new typeface create Arab-Jewish equality in Israel?

A new exhibition featuring typefaces that mix Hebrew 
and Arabic letters couldn't have come at a better time.

By Esther Zandberg for Haaretz

 As can be seen in the road signs for Arab communities, to mention just one example, in Israel the Arabic language has been marginalized at the expense of Hebrew. This is further emphasized by the contrast between the square and aggressive Hebrew typefaces of official Israel and the softer and more rounded letters of typical Arabic typefaces, a difference that in fact reflects the balance of powers between the country’s Jewish and Arab communities.

Type designers Liron Lavi Turkenich and Daniel Grumer each designed a new Hebrew-Arabic typeface, and while their solutions are different the objective was the same: to achieve visual coordination, equal visibility and presence and peaceful coexistence between these two languages that share a same space while taking a small step for peace. Grumer created Avraham-Ibrahim as his final project as a visual communications major at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in 2014. Lavi Turkenich created Aravrit (“Arabrew,” if you will) as her final project in the same program at Ramat Gan’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in 2012. Both are showing their work in “Davar Hamelekh” (“the king’s order”), an exhibition that is part of “Lashon Rishon,” the eighth annual conference on the Hebrew language. The exhibition runs from December 27 through February 25, at Rishon Letzion city hall.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tenth of Tevet

While today is (Gregorian) New Year's Day, on the Jewish calendar it is a fast day.


This fast commemorates the beginning of the end of the First Temple.

By Dr. Guy Miron for MyJewishLearning.com

The fast day of the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tevet symbolizes the first of a series of events which led to the destruction of the First Temple: the beginning of the siege of the Babylonians on Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, as the Book of Kings relates:

"Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

 And in the ninth year of his reign, on the 10th day of the 10th month Nebuchadnezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army. He besieged it; and they built towers against it all around. The city continued in a state of siege until the 11th year of King Zedekiah"  (Kings II, 25 verse 1-2).

The prophet Yeheskel [Ezekiel] was instructed by God to turn this day into a day of memory:

"O mortal, record this date, this exact day; for this very day the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem"  (Yeheskel 24, verse 2).

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