Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Israel’s Far Right Hits Ground Running, and Ripple Effects Are Already Being Felt Oliver Holmes, The Guardian, Jan. 7, 2023
“ In little more than a week, the administration has made moves towards the largest expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank since the occupation began. It has allowed the hardline minister Ben-Gvir to stage a provocative visit to a sacred mosque compound – an act that has previously led to an intifada. It has announced a plan to gut the judiciary, which, despite already leaning to the hard right, is still seen as a thorn in the side of Israeli politicians who want direct control of Palestinian and Israeli life, with no checks. … “Previous Israeli governments had the same plans as this current government, which is to take as much Palestinian land as possible, blockade the Gaza Strip, build and expand settlements, and kill Palestinians with impunity,” said [previous Palestinian peace negotiator Diana] Buttu. “The difference is that with this government, their sole political platform is against Palestinians,” she said. “There is no longer a veneer.” – [Not a mention that Palestinians, with EU help, disregarded the Oslo Accords and established Palestinian settlements in areas not designated Palestinian, that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest sight and Jews are not prohibited from walking there, or that Yasser Arafat planned the intifada before PM Sharon ascended the Temple Mount and right after rejecting Ehud Barak’s peace offer at Camp David.  The author, without proof, also asserts that Israel’s judiciary leans to the “hard right” and reduces Israeli concerns re: Supreme Court overreach to wanting to deprive Palestinians of their land. – Ed.]

Weekly Quotes:

“In Ontario, we are constantly facing an uphill battle that hate against the Jewish community must be taken more seriously. There needs to be more accountability when it happens, which hasn’t been happening.” — Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce to Bnai Brith Canada’s online forum.  (Bnai Brith Canada, Jan. 16, 2023)
“My Corvette was in a locked garage, OK? So, it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.” — U.S. President Joe Biden, testily replying to reporters’ questions about the discovery of classified government documents stored with his car at his Delaware home. This followed an initial set of documents found at the U. of Pennsylvania-Biden Institute in D.C., and a second in the Delaware house itself. (Washington Times, Jan. 12, 2023)
“Strangely, the law does not carve out an exception for classified documents held near a 1967 Corvette Stingray.” – Conservative columnist Jim Geraghty on Biden belittling his storing classified documents in his garage.  (National Review, Jan. 13, 2023)
“Where are the photos of President Biden’s documents? … He knew this going into an election, going into interviews. This is what makes America not trust their government. You can’t have one form of law because somebody philosophically has a different opinion than you and you can’t use the Justice Department to go after people that are politically different as well. It has to be equal across, and what I’m finding what’s happened with President Biden, time and again, you go from a laptop saying not only that it wasn’t true but utilizing your own friends to go into companies to tell them to say the same thing, to try to knock down information. To try to make sure the New York Post story couldn’t be printed. You should be offended by that. You are of the press. You should be allowed to write even when you knew it was true.” – Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at a press conference.  (Real Clear Politics, Jan. 12, 2023)
“A special counsel is a tool that the Department of Justice has. In the hands of a very politicized Department of Justice, like the one we have now, it can be a weapon. It can be used offensively to go after political opponents such as the way the Department of Justice is going after their primary political opponent, former President Trump. It can also be used defensively to protect … They can say, ‘Oh we can’t answer any questions because there is a special counsel.’ And when you have one side of things that’s, again, leaking like a sieve and the other one that just protects and hides the ball. … That’s why so many Americans don’t trust this department.” – Federalist editor Mollie Hemmingway  (Real Clear Politics, Jan. 12, 2023)
“… can you explain … why a White House attorney, someone who’s paid by US taxpayers was the one with the security clearance who got in the car and drove down to Delaware to then pick up where those lawyers who didn’t have security clearance left off, and then found the five classified documents? Why is it appropriate for a White House lawyer to be involved in this personal matter?”CBS’s Margaret Brennan to Rep. Daniel Goldman on Face the Nation.  (CBS News, Jan. 15, 2023)
“. . . it looks like someone is trying to take Biden out with this drip of allegations. Certainly, it helps neuter his case against his predecessor. But if you look at the media this story was leaked to; I see dirty Democrat fingerprints everywhere. . .they know they’ve got a short time to stop him. But what the heck is their plan after that? Who is their great savior: Mayor Pete? Governor Newsom? Good luck with that.” – Conservative columnist Douglas Murray.  (NY Post, Jan. 12, 2023)
@SpeakerMcCarthy: I don’t know what’s in the January 6 tapes, but I think they need to be released so the people can see for themselves what transpired.” – Republican House Speaker Ken McCarthy.  (Twitter, Jan. 15, 2023)
“The Russiagate scandal was built on the craven dishonesty of politicians and reporters, who for years ignored the absence of data to fictional scare headlines.”  — independent journalist Matt Taibbi (Tread Reader, Jan. 12, 2023)
 “…. in March 2017, [Rep. Adam] Schiff [D-Ca] declared that he had seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that then-President Trump had colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. There was no such evidence, but Schiff repeated the lie for years. The congressman, who was chair of the Intelligence Committee at the time, intentionally misled the press and the public.” —  Susan Shelley on why Speaker McCarthy removed Schiff from the Intelligence Committee and on Matt Taibbi’s expose of his role in intentionally disseminating disinformation on Twitter regarding the Russia hoax.  (Orange County Register, Jan. 10, 2023)
“… amid the dysfunction of the U.S.- Saudi relationship, the domestic transformation currently underway in the country is one of the most important but underappreciated developments of the past decade, with profound implications for the Middle East and beyond. Most Americans at every level—in the Biden administration, the U.S. Congress, the media, and certainly the public—are strikingly unaware of the vast scope and scale of Saudi reforms and the tremendous stake the United States has in the country’s success.– Jewish Institute for National Security of America and a former national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney John Hannah. (Foreign Policy, Jan. 16, 2023)
“. . .to ensure our use of inclusive language and practice. . .we have decided to remove the term “field” from our curriculum and practice and replace it with ‘practicum’. This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language and immigrant workers that are not benign. . . [P]hrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may have connotations for descendants of immigrants. . .our goal. . .is to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies. . . .” — University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Jan.9 email to faculty, staff, and students. (WSJ, Jan. 12, 2023)

                                       SHORT TAKES

ISRAEL’S HIGH COURT BLOCKS ARYE DERI FROM SERVING AS MINISTER(Jerusalem) — Shas chairman Arye Deri cannot retain his position as interior and health minister, the High Court ruled on Wednesday in response to petitions challenging Deri’s appointment and the Basic Law amendment that allowed his rise to the post despite his criminal sentencing. Ten to one, the High Court ruled that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should remove Deri from his positions, due to the appointment’s unreasonableness and the Shas Chairman’s plea bargain in which he promised that he would not return to public life. The court declined to rule on the Basic Law amendment’s procedure, the third item petitioned on by critics. Shas would still retain the interior and health ministries, and Deri is still a member of Knesset. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2023)

80,000 ISRAELIS PROTEST NETANYAHU GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO WEAKEN SUPREME COURT (Tel Aviv) — Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square to protest their new government’s plans to decrease the power of the country’s Supreme Court significantly. In their first weeks in the Knesset, members of Israel’s far-right governing coalition have already advanced pieces of legislation that would allow a majority of lawmakers to override Supreme Court decisions. (JTA, Jan. 14, 2023)

IRANIAN RELIGIOUS LEADER SECRETLY VISITS ISRAEL, MEETS WITH NETANYAHU GOV’T OFFICIAL: REPORT (Tehran) — An Iranian Shiite imam recently made a secret visit to Israel and met with officials close to PM Benjamin Netanyahu.  A prominent critic of the Islamic regime, the imam – whose name was not divulged for fear of persecution – is reportedly a frequent guest among American right-wing circles. He is also a former student of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. (WIN, Jan. 15, 2023)
90 COUNTRIES DEMAND ISRAEL LIFT PA SANCTIONS, RESTORE TERROR FUNDING (NYC) — A group of more than 90 countries — most of them Arab, but also including European, Asian, and South American nations — signed an open letter demanding that Israel lift sanctions recently introduced against the Palestinian Authority. In late December 2022, the UN passed a resolution sponsored by the PA that urged the International Court of Justice to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.” In response, the Israeli government launched punitive sanctions targeting the PA, including revoking special travel permits held by PA officials, withholding some $39 million in tax money that Jerusalem collects on behalf of the entity and distributing those funds to victims of terror and their families, deducting pay-for-slay money from PA tax money, and more. (WIN, Jan. 17, 2023)
POLL: ISRAELIS REMAIN PROUD OF IDENTITY, YOUTH IDENTIFY MORE AS RIGHT-WING (Jerusalem) — Israelis’ national pride remained stable in 2022, and a higher percentage of young Israelis identified as right-wing, according to the 2022 Israeli Democracy Index, whose findings were released by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).  However, the poll also found that since 2019 and until June 2022, there was a decline in the percentage of those surveyed who saw Israel’s situation as “good or very good,” and a rise in the percentage who said the situation was “bad or very bad.” (JNS, Jan. 16, 2023)
ISRAEL’S LAW ENFORCEMENT USES SPYWARE, AI TO ACCESS PRIVATE DATA – REPORT (Jerusalem) — For the past decade or so in Israel, law enforcement authorities have utilized advanced digital forensics tools including spyware and AI to breach and search personal computers and mobile phones as part of an investigation. These authorities include the IDF, the Securities Authority, the Tax Authority and — ironically — the Privacy Protection Authority, according to a new research report from the Israel Internet Association. (Jerusalem Report, Jan. 17, 2023)
A ROBOT THAT CAN SMELL: NEW ISRAELI TECH COULD BE A GAME-CHANGER (Tel Aviv) — A new technological development by Tel Aviv University has made it possible for a robot to smell using a biological sensor. The sensor sends electrical signals as a response to the presence of a nearby odor, which the robot can detect and interpret. Using a machine-learning algorithm, they were able to identify odors with a level of sensitivity 10,000 times higher than that of a commonly used electronic device. The researchers believe this technology could also be used to identify explosives, drugs, disease and more. (WIN, Jan. 17, 2023)

OXFORD STUDENT UNION PROPOSES DISAFFILIATION FROM UK NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS DUE TO ANTISEMITISM CONCERNS (London)— The Student Union of Oxford University (SU) will vote on a resolution proposing a referendum that would ask students to determine whether the organization disaffiliates from the National Union of Students (NUS) due to concerns about antisemitism. A recent report by independent lawyer Rebecca Tuck describing NUS’ culture as causing “considerable alienation of Jewish students” and fostering antisemitism prompted the resolution.  (Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2023)

 MANHATTAN DA ALVIN BRAGG OFFERS SWEETHEART PLEA DEAL TO SUSPECT IN BRUTAL ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACK (NYC) — A “Jew- beater” who’d “do it again” gets sweetheart plea deal from office of “soft on crime” Soros-backed New York City DA Alvin Bragg. Waseen Awawdeh, 24, along with three other men, assaulted yarmulka-wearing Joseph Borgne with Mace near Broadway and 49th St.. calling him a “dirty Jew” and yelling “F–k Israel, Hamas is going to kill all of you”. At his arraignment Awawdeh–who was freed on $10,000. bail–said “I would do it again. I have no problem doing it again.” (Former NY Assemblyman Dov Hilkind said “It really is outrageous. What do you have to do? Kill a Jew to get justice? It seems like Jewish blood is cheap, especially with the Manhattan D.A.”). (NY Post, Jan. 12, 2023)
A NEW TRANSLATION OF FRANZ KAFKA’S DIARIES RESTORES MUCH OF HIS JEWISH MUSINGS (NYC) –The broad strokes of Franz Kafka’s biography have long been known to historians, but a new English translation of the Czech author’s complete and unabridged diaries gives readers the fullest possible picture of his complex, contradictory relationship with Judaism. “The Diaries of Franz Kafka,” translated by Ross Benjamin and out this week from Penguin Random House, collects every entry of the writer’s personal diaries covering the period from 1908 until 1923, the year before his death from tuberculosis at the age of 41. (JTA, Jan. 12, 2023)
SAN FRANCISCO REPARATIONS PANEL PITCHES $5M — EACH — TO BLACK RESIDENTS (San Francisco) — ​A San Francisco panel studying reparations has proposed a one-time payment of $5 million to each black resident of the city deemed eligible as recompense for the “decades of harm they have experienced.” The proposal could cost the city, which has a 2022-2023 budget of $14 billion, roughly $50 billion. The committee also proposed wiping out all debts associated with educational, personal, credit card and payday loans for black households. The 15-member pan​el was established by San Francisco supervisors in May 2021. (NY Post, Jan. 16, 2023)
IRAN TO RECEIVE RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS BY MARCH IN LATEST SIGN OF GROWING MILITARY TIES: IRANIAN MEDIA (Tehran) — Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported that Iran expects to take delivery of 24 Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets by the end of March, as the burgeoning military alliance between the two countries continues to gather pace. The delivery will also include “air defense systems, missile systems and helicopters.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 16, 2023)
IRAN WILL SEND SHIPS TO PANAMA CANAL IN MILITARY MISSION (Tehran)-Iran has dispatched two warships to the Atlantic Ocean, a rare mission to demonstrate the country’s maritime power. (Washington Times, Jan. 12, 2023)

STUDENTS FIND NEW WAY TO CHEAT THROUGH AI, AND TEACHERS HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO STOP IT (Florida)CHATGPT, a new artificial intelligence system that can, in a few minutes and without clear signs of plagiarism, write coherent term papers for students based on keywords, is alarming educators across the U.S. (Washington Times, Jan. 12, 2023)

                         FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

Hamas Releases First Video of Israeli Captive Avera Mengistu: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 16, 2023 — Hamas released its first video of Israeli Avera Mengistu, held hostage in Gaza for close to eight years, on the same day new IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi was sworn into office.
How to Find Newly Released Israeli Immigration Records From 1919 Onward: Asaf Elia-Shalev, JTA, Jan. 11, 2023) — The genealogy website MyHeritage posted 1.7 million Israeli immigration records online this week, making accessible a trove of ship and plane passenger lists stored in bound tomes at the Israel State Archives. 

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