A pox on all their houses

The past week has seen events which were horrific, outrageous, perplexing and more. And besides the victims in Barcelona, there seem to be no “good guys” anywhere.

I have written countless times on this blog about the vicious anti-Semitism sometimes disguised (and sometimes not) as “merely” anti-Zionism. I have paid rare attention to the antisemitism from the Right for the simple reason that it is much less common and I think in the long run less of a threat that the Far Left.

For this reason the events in Charlottesville were so shocking. As someone who watches the Left’s antisemitism almost obsessively, I was shaken by the vicious racism and antisemitism that was on display.

The Neo-Nazis (or should we say, just plain old Nazis) marching with their Swastika flags, uniforms, weapons and hateful slogans were truly vile. However right (i.e. correct) they think their cause is, however much they feel they need to defend American or “white” culture, there is no excuse whatsoever for parading around in Nazi uniforms, threatening synagogues and churches, and generally rousing up the worst excesses of white supremacy that the US has seen in a long while.

Here is the Atlantic report about the obsessive antisemitism on display at the “Unite the Right” protest:

The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was ostensibly about protecting a statue of Robert E. Lee. It was about asserting the legitimacy of “white culture” and white supremacy, and defending the legacy of the Confederacy.

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee which the Left want to tear down and the Conservatives want to keep, which triggered the violent riot in Charlottesville

So why did the demonstrators chant anti-Semitic lines like “Jews will not replace us”?

The demonstration was suffused with anti-black racism, but also with anti-Semitism. Marchers displayed swastikas on banners and shouted slogans like “blood and soil,” a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology. “This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal niggers,” one demonstrator told Vice News’ Elspeth Reeve during their march. As Jews prayed at a local synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, men dressed in fatigues carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street, according to the temple’s president. Nazi websites posted a call to burn their building. As a precautionary measure, congregants had removed their Torah scrolls and exited through the back of the building when they were done praying.

“This is an agenda about celebrating the enslavement of Africans and their descendants, and celebrating those that then fought to preserve that terrible machine of white supremacy and human enslavement,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. “And yet, somehow, they’re all wearing shirts that talk about Adolf Hitler.”

For these demonstrators, though, the connection between African Americans and Jews is clear. In the minds of white supremacists like David Duke, there is a straight line from anti-blackness to anti-Judaism. That logic is powerful and important. The durability of anti-Semitic tropes, and the ease with which they slide into all displays of bigotry, is a chilling reminder that the hatreds of our time rhyme with history and are easily channeled through timeless anti-Semitic canards.

The white supremacist demonstration was countered by an “Antifa” (short for anti-fascist) protest, and the two groups quickly ended up attacking each other.  It didn’t take long for a white supremacist to drive a car into the crowd of leftists, where he killed Heather Heyer, one of the leftist protestors. This man, a terrorist by any measure, should be prosecuted and judged exactly as any other  Jihadist. He is not just a criminal. This hate crime has the potential to ignite a civil war and the punishment must be seen to fit the crime.

Insult was added to injury by a lame speech by President Trump who did not condemn the violence on the Right strongly enough. Rather, he condemned the violence “on both sides”, much to the anger of the Left.

For Israel and the Jews, our problems were compounded by the leader of the Alt Right declaring on Israeli TV (yes! He was given a platform on Israeli television!) that he is a White Zionist (!) because he too wants to preserve white culture, just like the Zionists want to preserve Jewish culture.

Israellycool gave Spencer very short shrift as he launched a blistering attack on Spencer’s hypocrisy:

Sure, there are those who think you have a point – even some fellow Jews. But I hate to break it to you – they don’t understand what Zionism – or even Judaism – is truly about.

As someone who does, allow me to educate you.

Zionism is nothing more than the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. You see, since we were exiled thousands of years ago, we never gave up hope of returning. This is expressed in our Jewish prayers and religious observance.

Zionism is not about racial superiority or making life hell for others – despite the claims of your fellow antisemites and ignoramuses (including some of my fellow Jews). It is about our history, our religion, our beliefs. We are taught not to “oppress a stranger” – we are to live in peace with our fellow non-Jewish citizens. Except those who try to kill us – the Torah also gives us the mandate to defend ourselves. After all, the 10 Commandments say “Do Not Murder”, not “Do Not Kill” – an acknowledgement of killing in self-defense.

Sure, your ilk love quoting the fact we believe we are the Chosen People. But this is nothing to do with feelings of superiority over other peoples. It is about spreading the light of morality throughout the world. It is actually a heavy burden, for which we have paid a huge price over the centuries. Given the idea of one G-d and judicial systems is prevalent across the world, I’d say we have achieved this to a large degree. Of course, given the current state of the world – which includes people like you spreading your filth – we still have so much work to do.

Our non-Jewish citizens in Israel have equal rights. Sure, given the issue that many of them also want us destroyed, it does complicate things. But we continue to seek peace, and do the best we can. Anyone but the Jew hater and intellectually dishonest can see this.

You, on the other hand, have contempt for those you do not define as White. You want the US exclusively for White people. This is racism, plain and simple. Zionism is nothing like this – it is the opposite – but I am sure you are pleased your statement connecting the two is being used against us.

Yair Rosenberg at the Tablet also addresses Richard Spencer’s malicious nonsense:

“As an Israeli citizen,” Spencer told his Israeli interviewer, “someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogous feelings about whites. I mean, you could say that I am a white Zionist in the sense that I care about my people. I want us to have a secure homeland that’s for us and ourselves just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”

Alt-Right White supremacist leader Richard Spencer

It’s an analogy with superficial plausibility. It’s also a malicious lie, and a deliberate one.

… Essentially, the alt-right maliciously appropriates the deeply held values of liberals and minorities in order to attack them. This is not because the alt-right shares those values, but because it wants to troll those who do. Thus, it wrenches causes like affirmative action, black pride, and Zionism from their historical and moral context—as defenses of minorities against long-standing majority oppression—and inverts them to serve white supremacist aims against minorities. In this manner, the return of Jews to their indigenous homeland is recast by white nationalists, who are not indigenous to America, to justify kicking Jews and other minorities out of the country.

Now, maliciously lying about Jews and their state is to be expected from Jew haters. Less explicable, however, are those far-left critics of Israel who uncritically accept and amplify these alt-right claims equating Zionism with white nationalism. Take, for example, anti-Zionist Omri Boehm in the New York Times (“an argument that does not embrace a double standard [on Zionism and white nationalism] is hard to come by”) and Jewish Voice for Peace’s Naomi Dann in The Forward (“what’s so chilling about Spencer’s comparison of white supremacy to Israel [is] not its anti-Semitism but the kernel of truth at its core”). These self-styled progressives, who otherwise rightly dismiss and deride everything Richard Spencer has to say, suddenly hold him up as a trustworthy authority when it comes to the Jewish state and its ideological underpinnings. They bend over backward to cast his demonstrably disingenuous fulminations about Israel as an exception to his hate, rather than an obvious example of it.

Such specious conduct raises the question: If you consider everything an anti-Semitic far-right leader says to be vile and hateful, yet nonetheless present him as an honest expositor on the home of half the world’s Jews for your own political purposes, are your moral scruples any less corrupted than his? When you find yourself suggesting that the Nazis are right about the Jews, perhaps it’s time to rethink your life choices.

Or as Honest Reporting put it:

“The American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.”
– David Duke, at a far-right rally in Charlottesville.

Whether it comes from the far-right, or the far-left.
Whether it’s a neo-Nazi car ramming in Charlottesville, or a Palestinian car ramming in Jerusalem.
Whether the hate is targeted at diaspora Jews or Israeli Jews, against Jewish people or the Jewish state:

Terror is terror, and anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism. Both must be exposed and fought – without double standards.

It is not ok only to protest against neo-Nazis and swastikas on the one hand, while advocating for the destruction of the Jewish state on the other – that’s still anti-Semitism. Likewise condemning terror attacks around the world except for Palestinian terror against Israelis, and instead blaming Israeli victims of it, as though their lives don’t matter – that’s also anti-Semitism.

And it has to stop, all of it.

The danger of the Alt Right, or White Supremacists “co-opting” Zionism for their own malign ends, can be seen in a Guardian article written by Giles Fraser which attacks Zionism for having admirers like Spencer – as if any movement or individual can prevent someone from admiring them. Fraser (who has a record of anti-Israel articles), deliberately misreads Spencer’s “admiration” as Yair Rosenberg warned. Read UK Media Watch’s report  which describes how Fraser compares white supremacism with Zionism:

But with all this condemnation of the American Alt Right and their White Supremacist cohorts, let us not be swept into thinking that the Antifa demonstrators were a bunch of saints. Far from it. The JTA gives us an overview of who or what Antifa are:

Like the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter, antifa has no institutional structure or unified plan of action. …

Antifa tends to align with the left — and some members are anti-Zionists.

Because antifa is so loosely constructed, it has no formal ideological agenda beyond opposing fascism. But the movement has roots in left-wing movements like socialism or anarchism. Bray said that members may be part of other left-wing activist groups, like the Occupy movement, and subscribe to ideas popular in progressive circles.

The Torch Network, a group of antifa chapters, includes in its “points of unity” opposition to “all forms of oppression and exploitation.” That includes fighting “against racism, sexism, nativism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people.” The group is also pro-choice. Unlike the Movement for Black Lives platform, it does not single out Israel or Zionism.

Bray said that while anti-Zionism is not a focus of antifa, many members tend to be anti-Zionist as part of their far-left activism. Anti-Racist Action groups, he said, had taken part in anti-Zionist events in the past. […]

… but has been criticized for its violent tactics.

… “They’re troubling tactically because conservatives use antifa’s violence to justify — or at least distract from — the violence of white supremacists, as Trump did in his press conference,” the liberal Jewish essayist Peter Beinart wrote Wednesday in The Atlantic. “They’re troubling strategically because they allow white supremacists to depict themselves as victims being denied the right to freely assemble. And they’re troubling morally because antifa activists really do infringe upon that right.”

The JTA is too generous in its description of Antifa. In their partnership with the far left, Black Lives Matter, the Occupy movement and others, they are at the very least enabling if not actively participating in vicious anti-Israel and therefore antisemitic activity. Thus we see the “no-platforming” of Israeli or Zionist speakers on campus, the banning of Jewish participants at the Dyke March, the ejection of Zionist feminist marchers at the Slut Walk last week, and many more.

This is what is commonly known as intersectionality –  a code word for antisemitism according to Adv. Alan Dershowitz.

Antifa cannot wrap themselves up in the flag of tolerance and diversity if they cannot tolerate Jews or Zionists, and consider diversity to stop at the door of the Jewish state.

Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection describes how anti-Israel pro-BDS professors are organizing the Antifa campus network:

In an extremely dangerous development, anti-Israel pro-BDS faculty are organizing a nationwide campus Antifa network.

Inside Higher Ed reports, Campus Antifascist Network (h/t Cam Edwards on Twitter): …

… Palumbo-Liu and Mullen, the organizers of the campus Antifa network, are two of the most aggressive anti-Israel pro-BDS faculty members in the country. They each have long histories of demonizing Israel and supporting the academic boycott of Israel.

Mullen also is one of the most aggressive BDS faculty activists, well known for his BDS activities at Purdue.

This fits a pattern of anti-Israel activists co-opting and hijacking other movements, something we explored in If you are surprised #BlackLivesMatter joined war on Israel, you haven’t been paying attention.

Under the leadership of anti-Israel, pro-BDS faculty, expect the campus Antifa network to be re-directed against Israel, Israelis and Jews. We’ve seen this in Chicago, where Jewish symbols were banned at an LGBT event, and Jewish LGBT groups have been attacked.

Melanie Phillips helps us understand this whole American madness, a symptom of this totalitarianism which is affecting the entire West. She starts – astonishingly – by paying tribute to the Atlantic (not always known for its pro-Israel stance) and Peter Beinart (a very harsh critic of Israel and right-wing Zionism):

Credit to the left-leaning Atlantic magazine for running a piece by Peter Beinart, who has actually looked at what is happening in American society and reached an uncomfortable conclusion which would be hard to find elsewhere in the media – and which is all-too pertinent in the wake of Charlottesville.

For Beinart warns that the left is lurching into totalitarianism and violence. “Antifa” purport to be anti-fascist. But they define as fascist anyone they disagree with including mainstream conservatives. Hence their violent suppression of commentators and scholars such as the conservative columnist Ann Coulter, the Breitbart controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos and the political scientist Charles Murray.

What Antifa most certainly do not do is defend democracy, freedom and liberal values. As Beinart observes:

“Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.”

If this was just a bunch of anarchists, the problem wouldn’t be so bad. What takes this onto a different level altogether is the fact that the mainstream left does not disavow Antifa but tolerates, sanitises and condones it.

“The violence is not directed only at avowed racists like Spencer: In June of last year, demonstrators – at least some of whom were associated with antifa – punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the ‘righteous beatings.’”

As I wrote in The Times (£) yesterday, this has produced an unholy alliance between the left and the far right:

“A white supremacist called Richard Spencer invented the blanket term ‘alt-right’ to associate his ilk with conservatives seeking merely to defend American identity and core values. Through this tactic, Spencer intended to boost the far right and simultaneously smear and thus destroy regular conservatives.

“The left has seized upon this smear with unbridled joy, routinely using the ‘alt-right’ term to try to destroy the national identity agenda by bracketing it with white supremacism. The result is a powerful boost for the far right. From deserved obscurity, they suddenly find the left are transmitting their every utterance to the world. The phrase “useful idiots” comes inescapably to mind.”

With this chaos swirling around the West’s greatest bastion of democracy one can be forgiven for feeling that we’re going to hell in a handbasket.

As to the extremists on all sides, “a pox on all their houses!” I say.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Incitement, International relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Shabbat Shalom

I’ve been away on holiday these past few days and had a wonderful time with all my family. We stayed in a villa (what the Israelis quaintly call a “tzimmer”) in Moshav Goren in Western Galilee, in a holiday compound called Haruach Haglilit (pictures at the link) – with its own private pool, snooker table (or was it billiards? I still can’t tell the difference!), fully equipped kitchen, 6 bedrooms, a small courtyard and a balcony. What more could a person ask for?

The view from our room at the villa

I do not think snooker is what you think snooker is!

We went on day trips around the north: to the Hai Park zoo in Kiryat Motzkin, where the children marvelled at the sight of giraffes and zebras, giggled at the antics of the monkeys, and petted fluffy rabbits;

Giraffe at the Hai Park

Penguins cool off in the Israeli summer

Petting fluffy white rabbits

Also to Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanon border where we went down by cable car to see the amazing grottoes carved out by the strong waves of the Mediterranean sea (followed by a barbecue back at our villa);

The shortest steepest cable car in the world at Rosh Hanikra

The grandchildren watching the waves in the grottoes in Rosh Hanikra

The view from above at Rosh Hanikra

And on the last day we stopped for lunch in Acco, and continued on to the Hof Dor Shell Beach (Hof Hatzedafim) near Haifa on our way home, where we paddled in the sea, got knocked over by strong waves, and the kids built shell towers as opposed to sandcastles.

At the Shell Beach in Hof Dor

Building a shell tower at Hof Dor

A beach literally made of shells at Hof Dor

It was a wonderful short break, and I cannot face addressing any of the horrible news that has been rampant this week. It will wait till after Shabbat.

Tomorrow we say Bircat Hachodesh, the blessing for the new month. This week the month of Elul begins, the month of repentance towards Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish Holidays. We have plenty to reflect upon this year.

So I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

Posted in Israel news, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s all about the facts (or is it?)

I’m sure you all feel the same frustration and anger at the hostile media and foreign do-gooders, as well as some foreign governments, who seem incapable or unwilling to understand Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinians or the Arab world in general.

Arlene Kushner introduces us to the following video which she helped create along with the brilliant Latma team (run by journalist Caroline Glick) and the Legal Grounds Campaign, which works to promote Israel’s rights to the Land of Israel. The video has been has been making successful rounds on social media and in the pro-Israel blogosphere, as it sums up perfectly the entire Israel-Arab conflict.

I proudly introduce here a one-of-a- kind video produced by the Legal Grounds Campaign, co-chaired by Jeff Daube and myself: “All About the Facts.”

The Latma team has created a song for the video: A biting parody that is laugh-out-loud funny. In English with Hebrew subtitles.

While we expect this to appeal to young people who are ignorant about Israel’s realities or have been misled by false information, we believe you, too, will be delighted by it.

Additionally, we have designed a short website that viewers will be able to connect to after seeing the video; it provides basic facts about Israel’s rights in the land.

It’s all about the facts“, dontcha know? Or rather – it’s not about the facts at all. It’s all about the narrative:

The video is also available on Legal Grounds’ Facebook page.

Watch, enjoy, and share widely.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, indigenous rights, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good News Friday

Thand goodness it’s Friday – time for another Good News Friday post.

I want to start this week’s installment with some heartening news for youngsters with special needs.

Alyn Hospital has opened an innovation center to create cutting edge devices for special needs children:

Israel’s ALYN Hospital has opened an innovation center for entrepreneurs and researchers to develop devices and technologies for children with special needs. The Jerusalem hospital, founded in 1932, is considered a world leader in pediatric rehabilitation for physical disabilities.

The lab has two arms: PELE (which in Hebrew means “wonder,” and is also a Hebrew acronym for Solutions for Children of ALYN), and ALYNnovation.

PELE seeks to help individual children solve a particular problem that does not have an off-the-shelf solution. For example, PELE recently helped a 13-year old boy without the full range ability to use his arms lay tefillin (Hebrew script worn by observant Jews for prayer) on his head for his Bar Mitzvah. “There aren’t that many kids around the world that want to lay tefillin and can’t reach their head,” Mann tells NoCamels. “There is no off-the-shelf solution for this.”

PELE constructed a contraption that enabled the boy to pull a string, bend his head down, and put the tefillin up on his head. “For a child like this, every inch of independence that is given to him is incredibly empowering,” Mann says. “It gives you the chills to see the expression on this kid’s face when he realizes that he just did this by himself.”

After children and parents present their challenge, ALYN’s PELE team will try to solve it for $55 or less. “These solutions are customized, personalized solutions at affordable prices,” Mann tells NoCamels.

While PELE provides solutions to specific problems, ALYNnovation works as a startup incubator, identifying innovations that can benefit a broader audience of children with special needs, and then commercializing the product to bring it to a global market.

ALYNnovation enables the hospital to reach a wider audience, but it will also help ALYN to become self sustainable. “We are designing a new model of philanthropy where the donations that we receive now are helping us to establish activity that will generate its own revenue,” Mann says. “This is the model we came up with, I think it gives donors the assurance that our motivations are aligned.”

What a brilliant idea is this innovation center. Kol hakavod to the Alyn Hospital and to all the doctors, researchers, therapists and philanthropists who support it.

On a related theme (via Reality), IDF soldiers have taken part in a unique collaboration to help children with autism:

Soldiers, parents of autistic children, high school students and random volunteers joined forces in Tel Aviv to make life easier for people with autism and their caregivers.

Participating groups in the hackathon

Some 85 people took part in a 24-hour hackathon last month organized by OFEK, the computing unit of the IAF. Held jointly with ALUT, the Israel Society for Autistic Children, people worked in groups to put innovation in the service of disability by creating an app or computer program for the benefit of the children.

“Until recently, the only treatment available for autistic children and adults in Israel was admission into psychiatric hospital,” said Arkady Gurevich, chairman of OFEK Alumni Association. “Even the necessary equipment or tools required to diagnose a patient as autistic are minimal or of poor quality due to costly-budget issues.”

The project also helped OFEK soldiers meet the three goals they abide by: “networking, working better together and contributing to society,” said Gurevich, who was in charge of ensuring the smooth running of the collaboration. “This is important for our soldiers as it allows us to put our knowledge into practice, all while continuing to learn at the same time, creating a lasting legacy of productive work.”

Gurevich explained that the hackathon’s 24-hour time frame “provides an indication of how quickly we can respond to a need through technology.”

This project with ALUT “is the first of many to come, as OFEK intends on using its soldiers’ powerful skills and knowledge to help one non-profit organization a year,” Gurevich said. “While the project took place in the form of a competition, the real prize was to bring attention to the autistic community of Israel and eventually develop what could be life changing technology for many.”

What a wonderful way to integrate autistic children into society while at the same time making the IDF an even stronger part of Israeli society. This is what differentiates the IDF from other armies, and we can be proud that the army views its contribution to the weaker sections of society as equal to its defense and security contribution. Kol hakavod to all those involved in this wonderful project.

Now let’s move underground to yet another incredible archaeological find, a rare 2,000 year-old stone vessel used in Jewish rituals:

A rare 2,000-year-old workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels, dating to the Roman Period, was recently unearthed by archeologists from the Antiquities Authority during excavations in Reina, in the Lower Galilee.

Stone vessels unearthed inside the ancient workshop | Photo: Israel Antiquities Press Office

The excavations took place in a small cave in which researchers found thousands of chalkstone cores and other production waste, including fragments of stone mugs and bowls in various stages of production, the authority said on Thursday.

The ancient site is the fourth workshop of its kind to ever have been discovered in Israel. It was uncovered during the course of construction work at a municipal sports center conducted by the Reina Local Council.

According to Dr. Yonatan Adler, senior lecturer at Ariel University and director of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, during the first century of the Common Era, Jews throughout Judea and the Galilee used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone.

“The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious, as according to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken,” Adler explained on Thursday.

“Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material which can never become ritually impure, and as a result, ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone.”

Although chalkstone vessels have been unearthed at many Jewish sites throughout the country, Adler said it is extremely unusual to uncover a site where such vessels were actually produced.

While similar finds have been recorded in other parts of the country, Yardenna Alexandre, an archeologist at the authority specializing in the study of the Galilee during the Roman Era, described the most recent discovery as an unprecedented opportunity.

“Throughout the years, we have been discovering fragments of these kinds of stone vessels alongside pottery in excavations of houses in both rural and urban Jewish sites from the Roman Period, such as Kafr Kana, Tzipori and Nazareth,” said Alexandre.

“Now, for the first time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to investigate a site where these vessels were actually produced in the Galilee.”

What a fascinating find! And yet another proof – if ever such proof were really necessary – that Jewish habitation of Israel goes back thousands of years. Kol hakavod to all the archaeologists who made this remarkable discovery.

And one more item before we go, from under ground, let fly up in the air, to a beautiful aerial video of the north of Israel:

 

Enjoy the view!

Shabbat shalom everyone!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | 4 Comments

Israel to the rescue! Iranian blogger given asylum in Israel

A story that could have come straight out of a spy thriller has just reached its final happy conclusion as the Iranian blogger Neda Amin, who had been living in Turkey for the last 3 years, arrived safely in Israel after being threatened by the Turkish authorities with deportation back to Iran and almost certain imprisonment, if not death.

Neda Amin, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for The Times of Israel’s Persian website, arrived safely in Israel on Thursday morning, and was met at Ben-Gurion Airport by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.

Neda Amin is welcomed by David Horovitz on her arrival in Israel

Amin was being threatened with imminent deportation by Turkey. She feared that if no other country took her in, she would be sent back to Iran, where she feared for her fate.

After The Times of Israel alerted the Israeli authorities to her plight, government officials immediately responded and paved the way for her safe arrival in Israel.

“Thank you,” said Amin, over and over when she arrived, embracing Horovitz. “You saved me.”

Horovitz thanked all of the Israeli officials who had worked to ensure her well-being. “I’m proud to live in a country that responded so instinctively to help somebody who was in danger.”

Amin has blogged regularly for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, and has done some freelance work. “She feared for her life, and her work for the Times of Israel was apparently a factor, so I felt we had an obligation to ensure her well-being, and I am very grateful to all the Israeli officials to whom I turned for assistance for providing it, immediately,” said Horovitz. The officials at the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, he stressed, were particularly helpful.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who issued the visa for her entry into the country, tweeted Thursday: “Welcome to Israel!”

Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her, noting that the UN previously designated her a refugee in 2015, and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.

The UN Watch NGO circulated a petition on Amin’s behalf, warning that she was “in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran.”

Amin, 32, left Iran for Turkey in 2014.

David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel takes well-deserved partial credit for Neda’s safe arrival, and also credits all the Israeli authorities:

She told us — in writing, and in a few very short phone conversations — that her life was in danger. She had been questioned repeatedly by Turkish police, and had now been told that she faced being kicked out of the country. Furthermore, if no country would take her in, she said she was told, she would be sent back to Iran — where the worst could happen

She said that she was supposed to have protection from the UN, but she did not believe that this would keep her safe. She had not written against the authorities in Turkey, but it had been made clear to her that her public criticism of the Iranian regime, and her writing for an Israeli site, were not tolerable.

After gathering more of her details, I contacted a few people — Israeli and others — who I thought might be able to advise me, and to help Neda.

And they did. The readiness to help was quite remarkable. Almost nobody told me there was nothing they could do or nothing to be done.

She said she has Jewish heritage — that her late father’s mother was Jewish. I don’t know if that was a factor in the Israeli response; I tend to think not.

I don’t know which of the people I turned to played the critical roles. (And I wasn’t the only one acting on her behalf: The NGO UN Watch started a petition for her, and the Jerusalem Journalists Association wrote directly to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.) What I do know is that very soon after I shared the details of Neda’s case, the Israeli authorities wheeled into action. Whatever checks needed to be made were evidently made. Whatever decisions needed to be taken were evidently taken.

She also contacted the Israeli authorities, and made a plea that she be allowed to come here.

Neda speaks a little English. It was enough for her to say to me, on the phone, “Mr. Horovitz, please save me.”

After gathering more of her details, I contacted a few people — Israeli and others — who I thought might be able to advise me, and to help Neda.

And they did.  The readiness to help was quite remarkable. Almost nobody told me there was nothing they could do or nothing to be done.

At the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Consul-General Shai Cohen and Yaffa Olivitski, who handles consular affairs, established contact with Neda, and went far out of their way to help. Paperwork was organized. And I was told that Neda was going to be allowed to fly to Israel, with an appropriate visa.

I had felt that since Israel in general, and The Times of Israel in particular, was a factor in her life being in danger, we had an obligation to try to ensure that no harm came to her. The State of Israel clearly felt the same.

Her departure was not entirely smooth. When she was first due to fly to Tel Aviv, and went to the airport, it turned out that she was missing a form that needed to be issued by Turkish police. She wasn’t allowed to fly without it. Unfortunately, her mobile phone was out of power at this point, and she wasn’t able to update us. She was off the radar for a few hours, and somebody somewhere put two and two together to make five, and leaked word to the Hebrew media that she had been arrested.

She hadn’t. And she wasn’t. And two days later — in the early hours of Thursday — she returned to the airport, form in hand, and was able to board her flight to Tel Aviv. With her dog, I might add — a 27-kilo German Shepherd named Chica who is the love of her life.

By her telling, the past year and a half has been difficult to terrifying. She says she was called in for questioning by Turkish security authorities no fewer than six times, accused of being a spy, offered large sums of money to work for them, threatened with deportation to Iran.

At one session, she asked them, “Is it illegal to write for Israeli media?” No, she was told. “So why all the investigations?” Because, came the answer, “We don’t like working with Israel, and we don’t like you working with Israel.”

Turkey’s behaviour is absolutely outrageous, though their record against journalists is dismal to put it mildly. This was an anti-Israel, even antisemitic, move from Turkey, and the matter should be taken up by Israel in the UN and other international agencies as a matter of urgency.

… She was told she would face deportation on or after August 5, and was fighting that order in the Turkish courts when Israel opened its doors to her.

David Horovitz expresses the feelings of all Israelis when he says:

But as a journalist who is frequently critical of much that is done here, who worries about many aspects of where this country is headed, I feel rather proud of the State of Israel today.

So do we all! Kol hakavod Mr. Horovitz for the part you played in Neda’s rescue, as well as to UN Watch  and all the Israeli ministries who pulled together and produced a near-miracle.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin

Now compare this brave lady, who risked her life and defied hostile authorities to tell the truth, with a Palestinian who lives in the lap of luxury yet slanders Israel day in and day out. I’m talking about chief Palestinian negotiator (though what he negotiates is anyone’s guess) Saeb Erekat, who is now in the queue for a lung transplant. This is the man who slanderously accused Israel of harvesting organs from Palestinians for transplants. Now, in an act of staggering hypocrisy, he wants an Israeli lung to be “harvested” for his own personal use.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the counter-terror NGO Shurat HaDin, has filed a request with the Israeli authorities asking that Erekat, who is not an Israeli citizen, be taken off the waiting list:

Nitzana Darshan Leitner, chair of Shurat Din, wrote: “It is inconceivable that anyone who calls for to boycott the State of Israel, initiates propaganda for sanctions against it, and leads the BDS movement to isolate and harm the State of Israel, now seeks the assistance of that same State of Israel when he needs it. Those who choose to boycott the State of Israel have enough self-respect to boycott all the services of the State of Israel.”

The letter brought further reassurances from heath authorities that Mr Erekat is not poised to receive a donor lung, but Avi Guez, lawyer for Shurat Hadin, still has “concerns” that Mr Erekat could end up getting special provisions.

As Darshan-Leitner wrote in her Times of Israel blog (ironically the same blogging platform as the couragous Neda Amin):

If israeli doctors are going to perform any procedures on Erekat, perhaps let them implant a sense of decency, honesty and self-respect as well.

Posted in Blogging, Incitement, Iran, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Note to Jackie Walker: What a lynching really looks like

As mentioned in my previous post, Labour’s Jackie Walker is trying to claim victimhood because she is being “lynched” by the Jewish community who are trying to silence her. She has a funny way of showing her fear. She seems triumphant in her victimhood. “See what a sad victim I am! See how they are silencing me!” – when of course nothing could be further from the truth. She has the full run of the airwaves and social media, and a platform (literally) at a world famous theater festival.

For her information, this is what a lynching really looks like. This lynching was committed by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli motorists:

 

On Saturday, Arabs in the Gush Etzion region held a funeral for an Arab terrorist who was eliminated while attempting to stab an IDF soldier.

Shortly after the funeral service, dozens of local Arabs set up a makeshift roadblock on Route 60, the primary north-south traffic artery in Judea and Samaria.

Holding cement blocks, bricks, and rocks, dozens of masked terrorists inspected passing Arab vehicles for any Jewish passengers, and attacked vehicles bearing Israeli license plates.

Even an armored police jeep came under assault, and was forced to call up the IDF for backup.

One Israeli driver who ran into the roadblock before the IDF deployed soldiers to take control of the situation came under a barrage of rocks and bricks, hurled by the masked Arab terrorists.

As can be seen in footage released by Channel 2 on Monday, the Arabs spotted the driver as he made his way towards the roadblock, and formed a lynch mob, hoping to block his escape and force him out of his car.

“They smelled me a kilometer away,” said the man, a resident of Tekoa. “They had made a roadblock there, and it was impossible to pass. Right away I drew my gun and cocked it, so they would see that I was armed – but that didn’t stop them at all.”

Luckily, however, the driver was able to pass through the roadblock when the assailants ran towards his car in an attempt to surround him.

This act of attempted murder plus the fact that the Arabs checked passing cars for Jewish passengers or drivers shows that this was pure antisemitism in action. They would have made the Nazis proud.

Another, not so scary but still serious, attempted lynching took place in Poland last week when the Hapoel Petach Tikva (yay PT!) soccer team was attacked by soccer hooligans after the match. But the gutsy Israeli footballers were too much for the hooligans who fled when the Israelis fought back:

Masked soccer hooligans attacked staff traveling with an Israeli soccer team following a friendly match in Poland, slightly injuring two men, officials said.

Polish media and police said that the attack happened on Wednesday evening in Suchocin, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) northwest of Warsaw, following a friendly between Hapoel Petah Tikva and a local Polish club.

A police spokeswoman, Kinga Drezek-Zmyslowska, said police were alerted after the match about an attack on two men who had traveled with the Israeli team.

She said the attack was apparently carried out by soccer hooligans and that police were trying to identify them. It was not immediately clear what caused the incident.

The Israeli team however, suspects the attack on its staffers was intentional and premeditated. A statement posted to the team’s official page said the game took place under police guard, and was incident-free. The team said that it wasn’t until after the officer left that the dozens of Polish fans descended on the Israelis.

Security camera footage shows the brawl unfolding near the stadium following the game.

The two Israelis staffers escaped the incident with minor injures.

“An Israeli group traveling abroad are always a target,” he added.

Indeed. Israelis and Jews travelling as a group – and singly too – form a tempting target for antisemites of the left and the right. But times have changed and we no longer take these attacks lying down. Even in soccer.

Hapel won the match 2-0.

Kol Hakavod Hapoel Petach Tikva! You did us proud when you fought back against the hooligans and you brought honour and fame to Petach Tikva. 🙂

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports, Defence and Military | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
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