Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
President Trump Calls to Comfort Wounded Rabbi After Synagogue Attack
A Chabad rabbi who was shot during a deadly attack on his synagogue in the San Diego area on Saturday expressed gratitude for the call he received from President Donald Trump.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein told reporters on Sunday that the U.S. president called him to share his condolences on behalf of the American people.
Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed in the shooting, sacrificing her life to shield the rabbi from the gunfire. The rabbi was one of three people injured in the attack, which took place at the synagogue in Poway, California, during a service marking the Jewish Sabbath and the end of the Passover holiday.
Rabbi Goldstein says President Trump was comforting and spoke about his love of peace, Judaism, and Israel.
Authorities identified the gunman as John Earnest, a 19-year old white male from San Diego.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein after surgery to his hands
On Sunday night, hundreds of people gathered at a community park near the Chabad synagogue for a vigil to honor the victims of the attack.
People held candles and listened to prayers in Hebrew. Leaders asked community members to do acts of kindness to remember Gilbert-Kaye, who had been a longtime member of the synagogue.
Mayor Steve Vaus said he stands with the community.
Rabbi Goldstein said that seeing the crowd come together provided consolation.
“What happened to us, happened to all of us,” said the rabbi. (United with Israel) AP and Staff
Sydney’s Central Synagogue searched after ‘hoax’ threat
An online threat which caused police to close down a street and search a synagogue in Sydney’s east is believed to have been a hoax.
A police operation was underway at the Central Synagogue in Bondi Junction about 6.30pm on Sunday after officers were alerted to an online threat relating to the building, a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP.
Bon Accord Avenue was closed off as officers searched the building, which was empty at the time, and the operation finished about 9.15pm with the road re-opening by 10.30pm.
It’s believed the threat was a hoax and inquiries are continuing, the spokeswoman said.
The Central Synagogue has the largest Jewish congregation in Australia.
Rabbi Levi Wolff said the situation was under control and thanked police for their work.
“The situation is ongoing and under control, all is ok,” he wrote on Facebook on Sunday night.
Dave Sharma, the Liberal candidate for the federal electorate of Wentworth, said he was “alarmed” by the police operation.
“Riot squad, dog squad, helicopters monitoring the area. My thoughts are with the Jewish community through this time,” he posted on Twitter on Sunday night.
It follows a shooting in the United States where a teenage gunman on Saturday (local time) walked into the Congregation Chabad synagogue of Poway near San Diego and opened fire with an assault-style rifle.
One woman died and three others were wounded in the attack which is being described by the Poway mayor as a “hate crime”. (Nine News) AAP
The 21st Knesset will sworn in on Tuesday
The 21st Knesset will be inaugurated on Tuesday, welcoming 46 first-time lawmakers.
MKs are expected to attend the day full of ceremonies and events with their families, and they will receive their Knesset identification cards, and boutonnières to wear. And IDF band will be present to play a fanfare for President Reuven Rivlin, who will examine a Knesset Security honor guard with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, upon his arrival.
The culmination of the day will be in the afternoon when all 120 MKs are sworn in with Edelstein reading the declaration: “I commit to being faithful to the State of Israel and faithfully fulfill my duties in the Knesset.” The new MKs will respond: “I commit.”
After raising a celebratory glass of wine in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall, adorned with tapestries and mosaics designed by artist Marc Chagall, the MKs will be asked to return to partake in the 21st Knesset’s first votes. The topics will be on the identity of the Knesset Speaker – Edelstein is unopposed for a third consecutive term – and the members of the “arrangements committee” which will assign committee memberships and chairmanships.
The arrangements committee’s decisions will be finalized at the end of coalition negotiations, but the committee, with Likud MK Miki Zohar at the helm, plans on Tuesday evening to appoint temporary members of the Finance Committee and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in case there are urgent matters requiring a vote.
MKs also received their seating arrangements on Monday. Shas MK Michael Malkieli asked that his seat be moved in order to not sit with a woman, MK Osnat Mark of Likud, and will be seated next to Likud newcomer Ariel Kalner, instead.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich will not attend the inauguration, because the veteran MK decided not to return early from a vacation abroad. The Knesset legal department determined that she can be sworn in at another time.
On Monday, freshman MKs attended an orientation program hosted by the Knesset. Knesset Security guards and ushers were given photographs of the lawmakers so they would recognize them.
The vast majority of the 46 newcomers attended, though Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Labor leader Avi Gabbay – who was a minister, but never a legislator – were notably absent.
Blue and White MK Merav Cohen arrived on foot from her Jerusalem home, with a backpack in tow.
The orientation program, led by Knesset Secretary Yardena Maller-Horowitz, included explanations as to how the Knesset works, from passing laws to oversight of the executive and motions to the agenda, salaries and benefits and security issues.
Edelstein pointed out that, in the previous Knesset, 5977 bills were proposed but only 4% passed into law, and 77% were never even brought to a vote.
“I’m not saying don’t legislate. Legislate! But look at the full picture, at whether [the bill] is possible and if it justifies all the wasted resources and taxpayer money…Let’s only propose bills that have a chance to progress,” Edelstein said.
The Speaker suggested that MKs put more of an emphasis on oversight of the government, saying that it is a core job of the legislature, and encouraged them to take part in Knesset delegations to international parliamentary organizations.
Meanwhile, coalition talks were put on hold on Monday and no further negotiations are expected to take place on Tuesday.
Still, Yisrael Beytenu expressed concern about demands haredi parties are making, which they said they cannot accept.
“We’re concerned that they’re power-hungry and have a big appetite,” senior Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forrer told ynet. “There’s a possibility that we will sit in the opposition; we are full of surprises.”
Meanwhile, the Union of Right-Wing Parties plans to add the role of deputy defense minister, held by MK Eli Ben-Dahan in the last term, to its list of demands.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to ask coalition partners to accept a two-thirds cut to Kan’s budget, adding up to half a billion shekels, which would results in the sacking of hundreds of workers, Channel 13 reported. Netanyahu has long been for shuttering the public broadcaster.
Signifying readiness to accept the term from the party most likely to oppose it, Economy Minister Eli Cohen of Kulanu told Channel 13 that the money could go to improving health services, instead. (Jerusalem Post) Lahav Harkov
Rocket fired from Gaza lands in sea off Israel’s coast
A rocket fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip landed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel late Monday night.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed in a statement that it had identified a launch from the strip. Residents of the south reported hearing explosions, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.
A loud explosion was also heard earlier in the northern Gaza Strip, the Ynet news site reported.
Last week, a rocket fired from northern Gaza landed in an open field inside the Palestinian enclave, short of Israeli territory, without causing injuries or damage.
On Saturday, Israeli troops shot at three Palestinian men as they attempted to sabotage the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. A military spokeswoman said the IDF opened fire at the group in accordance with standard procedure. She could not say whether any of the men were hit.
Also Saturday, arson balloons launched from Gaza sparked a fire at HaBesor Stream Nature Reserve in southern Israel, firefighting services said.
On Friday, dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops at various locations along the Gaza-Israel border.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry 60 people were wounded on Friday, including 36 who were shot by live fire.
The IDF had no comment on Friday’s injuries, but a spokeswoman said that approximately 7,000 Palestinians were taking part in the Hamas-led protests along the border. She said demonstrators “hurled rocks and a number of explosive devices” toward troops, and the IDF responded in accordance with standard procedures.
The recent violence comes amid ongoing efforts to implement a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar recently brokered ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, which Hebrew media reports have said include an end to violence emanating from Gaza in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave. Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group, seeks to destroy Israel. (the Times of Israel) Staff
Israeli hikers come under fire in West Bank; soldiers shoot suspected gunman
Israeli troops opened fire at a pair of Palestinian men suspected of shooting at a group of hikers in the northern West Bank on Monday, the military said.
One of the suspects was wounded. No Israelis were injured in the exchange.
The second suspect fled the scene, and Israeli troops launched a manhunt to find him, according to a statement sent to residents of a nearby settlement.
The man later turned himself, the army said.
According to the message sent to residents of the Mevo Dotan settlement, the shots were fired at a group of hikers near the Tel Dotan archaeological site, west of the Palestinian village of Qabatiya.
The Israel Defense Forces said the troops, who were guarding the tour group, “saw two suspects shoot at them. They returned fire at the suspects. One of them was injured and taken to the hospital for medial treatment.”
The extent of the Palestinian’s injuries was not immediately known.
The second suspect fled the scene. Palestinian media reported that Israeli security forces established checkpoints and increased patrols throughout the northern West Bank following the exchange.
Several hours later, the man surrendered himself for arrest.
“Following searches by IDF troops in the region, the suspect turned himself in to security forces. He is now being handed over [to the Shin Bet security service] for interrogation,” the army said in a statement. (the Times of Israel) Judah Ari Gross
UN General Assembly to convene for a special session on antisemitism
The plenary session of the UN General Assembly will meet for a special session regarding the intensification of antisemitic events around the world, officials at the Israeli Mission in the UN told The Jerusalem Post.
Senior members of the United Nations are expected to participate in the event. The initiative was led by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who in recent months began a wide-ranging diplomatic effort in which he enlisted the United States, Canada, and European Union countries in support the Israeli effort.
The meeting is expected to take place at the end of May in coordination with the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly.
A few days before the debate, an exhibit will be presented at UN headquarters to review some of the hate events that have taken place in the past year around the world.
According to the Israeli Mission to the UN, for some time, Danon has been leading the United Nations in the fight against antisemitism. During last years’ General Assembly, Danon opened a pavilion that hosted world leaders and called to fight antisemitism.
The Israeli Ambassador also called a meeting with European Union ambassadors to discuss the dangers of antisemitism last month, and at his request, the Security Council started its meeting Monday with a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the San Diego synagogue shooting.
Ahead of the General Assembly’s special session, dozens of UN ambassadors will take part in the March of the Living in Poland in the coming days alongside a delegation of US government ambassadors.
“The struggle against antisemitism is a struggle for the future of the world. The United Nations must state, in a clear voice, opposition to this hatred that is sweeping the countries of the world, which threatens to return us to the days when the Jewish people lived in fear,” Danon told the Post. (Jerusalem Post) Omri Nahmias
Without fanfare, Australia opens trade and defense office in Jerusalem
Australia last month quietly opened a trade and defense office in Jerusalem.
The move was not announced on government websites, and no senior Australian or Israeli officials attended the opening ceremony of the new office, which Canberra insists does not have formal diplomatic status.
By contrast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year attended the opening of a Czech office in the capital — which does not have diplomatic status either — and took part in the dedication of a Hungarian trade office, which is also located in Jerusalem but is considered an extension of the country’s Tel Aviv embassy.
Australia’s “Trade and Defence Office,” located in the Migdal Ha’ir office tower in western Jerusalem, was opened in March without fanfare, fulfilling a promise the country’s prime minister made four months ago.
“It is a commercially focused office, established and managed by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission,” a spokesperson for the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv told The Times of Israel. It “will not have diplomatic status and is not an extension of the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv,” the spokesperson stressed.
“We are currently recruiting locally engaged staff to work in the [defense and trade office] on a permanent basis. The Australian government has been liaising closely with the Israeli government and other partners in the establishment of the [office], to ensure it is fully operational as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
“We have decided to start the work though now to identify a suitable site for an Australian embassy in West Jerusalem,” he declared.
Netanyahu never commented on the move, while other senior Israeli officials expressed their disappointment with Canberra’s distinction between the city’s eastern and western parts.
“Out of respect for the clearly communicated preference of the Israeli Government for countries to not establish consulates or honorary consular offices in West Jerusalem, the Australian Government will establish a Trade and Defence Office in West Jerusalem,” Morrison said at the time.
“With deepening defence industry ties and Australia-Israel trade now running at over $1.3 billion per year, this will help continue to build our strong bilateral relationship.”
In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy to from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, several other countries vowed to follow suit, though some have since backtracked or opted to open trade office in the city instead.
On November 27, 2018, Czech President Milos Zeman opened the so-called Czech House in Jerusalem, an office space at the city’s Cinematheque that was billed by Prague as the “first step” in relocating the country’s embassy to the city.
Israel said that the Czech House will “include Czech government representatives,” but officials in Prague stressed that the office will not have any diplomatic status.
On March 19, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó opened a trade office in Jerusalem’s Migdal Ha’ir tower that was billed as having official “diplomatic status” and is considered a “branch” of the Central European country’s embassy in Israel.
“I would like to stress… that our embassy is in Tel Aviv, and no plans for changing this are on the agenda,” Szijjártó clarified later in Jordan.
Still, the Palestinian Authority at the time said it was calling back its ambassador to Hungary for consultations in response to Budapest’s move.
On February 19, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, too, announced the opening of cultural and trade office in Jerusalem, though it was not immediately clear if it would have any diplomatic status.
On March 24, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez announced that his country will “immediately open an official diplomatic mission in Jerusalem and this will extend our embassy through the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.”
A week later, Brazil, during a visit to Israel by President Jair Bolsonaro, declared that it “decided to establish an office in Jerusalem for the promotion of trade, investment, technology and innovation.”
Slovakia, Honduras and Brazil have yet to fulfill their promises. (the Times of Israel) Raphael Ahren
Israeli Eurovision hero says there’s no place for boycott
Israel’s winner of last year’s Eurovision song contest said Monday there was no place for boycott calls of this year’s competition in Tel Aviv, saying that to snub such a popular world event celebrating diversity would be akin to “spreading darkness.”
Noting Israel’s upcoming annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, pop icon Netta Barzilai reminded a group of foreign journalists that the Eurovision was established in the wake of World War II to heal a torn continent.
“Being on the same stage, no matter what your religion or ethnicity or color, from all these countries, from all these cultures, this is a festival of light,” she said, at the annual meeting of the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem. “For people to boycott light is spreading darkness. It’s the exact opposite thing.”
The singer’s win last year with the catchy pop anthem “Toy” earned Israel the honor of hosting the 2019 Eurovision competition next month.
But supporters of the BDS movement, a Palestinian-led campaign advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, have been calling on artists to pull out of this year’s contest because of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Iceland’s representative has said it would be “absurd” to participate, and boycott activists recently renewed their call for the country to withdraw completely from the event.
Activists had targeted Barzilai even before last year’s win, launching a campaign calling on voters to award her zero points. She said over the past year she has encountered angry protests across Europe as well.
“I personally think it is bullying to artists. If you have a demonstration, go and make it where it should be. My business isn’t representing. My business is music, and my business is spreading light and love,” she said.
However, the charismatic Barzilai, sporting a black, frizzy skirt and a crop-top exposing her midriff, insisted she has no interest in politics.
“I’m not a political person and I represent Netta. Netta loves Israel. Netta loves her people but when I will say my political opinion, I will bring hearts apart instead of bringing them together,” she said. “Yes, I am Israeli, and I will let politicians do their work.”
Barzilai’s physical appearance has upended traditional notions of what it takes to be a female pop star, and she has become a model for plus-size women. She has been unapologetic about her weight, the loud colors she wears, and the funky chicken moves and sounds that have become her trademark.
She said the sounds evolved from a knack for imitating animals that she developed as a youth, when she was routinely mocked by other kids. Over the last year, she said she has been approached by so many children who say her success has helped them feel they are no longer alone.
“When you are in your element you accidently inspire,” she said. “Until I believed in myself and thought I am good enough, no one believed in me. No one believed in me. Until school was over, I believed in what they were telling me. This is what I have to tell kids.”
She said it was this she discussed with Prince William in his visit to Israel last year, just one of many high-profile events she has embarked upon since being crowned queen of European song.
“We talked about being a positive role model for your people, which was the first time that I actually realized that I am a positive role model for my people,” she said. “When Prince William tells you that you are probably doing a good job.”
Israel boasts one of the Eurovision’s most rabid fan bases. Fans flooded Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in front of City Hall, with some euphorically jumping into a public fountain, after Barzilai was announced the winner last year in Portugal. The City Hall building was lit up to spell “Toy” and electronic signs throughout the city congratulated her.
Tel Aviv is now set to host the event for the first time, expecting thousands of tourists to arrive for the campy, gay-friendly spectacle. The semifinals will be held on May 14 and 16 followed by the Grand Final on May 18.
The Eurovision has previously provided Israel with some cultural touchstones.
“Hallelujah” became the country’s unofficial national song after it won the contest for Israel when it hosted the event in the late 1970s, and Dana International became a national hero and global transgender icon when she won with “Diva” in 1998.
“I believe culture should be celebrated more and shared more, because it actually makes the world a better place. It actually makes people happier,” Barzilai said. (Ynet News) AP
Two synagogues linked by a trail of hate and blood
by Omri Nahmias The Jerusalem Post
Six months separate the shooting this weekend at the Chabad synagogue in San Diego and the shooting last year of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh – and so much binds them together. This was the main takeaway of the US Jewish community in the hours and days after the attack, which left one congregant dead and three injured.
It was 11:23 a.m. on Saturday, when 19-year-old John Earnest, a white nationalist, allegedly burst into the Poway synagogue in the middle of Shabbat service to carry out an attack. He fired more than 10 rounds of ammunition, law enforcement officers told local news.
Earnest then fled the scene after a border patrol officer who happened to be at the synagogue at the time managed to deter him, and the suspect was arrested shortly after when he pulled over and surrendered to police.
It was reported that the off-duty U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who fired at the fleeing suspect, an officer who has not yet been identified, had recently discovered his Jewish heritage and traveled more than 100 miles (160 km) each way to visit the Chabad synagogue from his home in El Centro, a city on the border with Mexico.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the rabbi of the synagogue, who was wounded in the attack told CNN, “I had spoken to him in the past about coming to the synagogue armed because he’s trained, and I want trained security as much as possible. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to have an armed security officer at every service, so whenever we had extra help, we were grateful for it.”
Earnest murdered Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, at close range. Goldstein was right behind her and lost his right index finger while trying to avoid Earnest’s bullets.
“I did not know what it was,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said in an interview. “I thought Mrs. Lori fell or a table fell. I turned around, and I was face-to-face with the murderer-terrorist, who was holding a weapon and looking straight at me.”
“I turned around and saw a group of children in the banquet hall, including my granddaughter, and I just ran, not even knowing that my fingers were blown off, and hurled all the kids together and got them outside… to safety,” the rabbi continued.
Two others were injured in the attack were two Israelis from the southern town of Sderot, Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 31. Dahan’s family moved from Israel to the United States to escape the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza on her southern Israeli town. She is the youngest victim of the attack.
Peretz was shot in the legs. Dahan suffered shrapnel injuries to her legs and face.
“The two moved from Sderot to San Diego a few years ago,” the ministry said in a statement. “They are in good condition. The Israeli Consul in Los Angeles Avner Saban spoke with the mother and offered all the assistance they may require.”
Earnest, a far-right activist, allegedly posted a manifesto shortly before the attack occurred and may have been involved in another hate crime.
About 20 minutes before the attack, a Twitter user reported that a manifesto had been published on a site popularly used by the far-right and was worried that a mass shooting was imminent. The manifesto has been attributed to Earnest, but this is still under investigation.
In the manifesto, he allegedly wrote, “Every Jew young and old has contributed to these. For these crimes, they deserve nothing but hell. I will send them there.”
He also stated that he hoped to inspire others to commit similar crimes and that he expected to be freed from prison and would “continue the fight.”
Minoo Anvari, whose husband witnessed the shooting, told Chabad.org News that the rabbi called for unity and prayed for peace even after getting shot. “The rabbi said, ‘We are united,’” said Anvari, a refugee from Iran.
“He prayed for peace,” said Anvari. “Even despite being injured, he refused to go to the hospital until he spoke. And he finished his speech, and he then left the synagogue.”
Goldstein, who is originally from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, is also a Jewish chaplain in the San Diego sheriff’s department. Goldstein has been described as “talkative, warm and kind” by members of the Southern California community.
In a press conference, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said the congregation was targeted by “someone with hate in their heart… towards our Jewish community, and that just will not stand.”
The congregation “took security very seriously,” he continued. “I also understand from folks on the scene that this shooter was engaged by people in the congregation and those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy.”
The Palestinians’ Own Goals
by Khaled Abu Toameh The Gatestone Institute
- “We reject normalization and adopt the approach of resistance until the liberation of the entire Palestinian territory.” — Statement rejecting job offers, issued by Progressive Democratic Student Pole, affiliated with the radical PLO group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
- “Resistance” is a term used by Palestinians to describe the “armed struggle” against Israel, which includes carrying out various forms of armed attacks against Israelis. When the students talk about the “liberation of the entire Palestinian territory,” they are actually saying that they want to destroy Israel because they do not believe in its right to exist.
- A video of the protest at Bir Zeit University posted on social media shows dozens of angry students surrounding the companies’ representatives, and chanting: “Normalization [with Israel] is Treason.”
- This is just another example of how the movement for boycotting Israel is causing damage to Palestinians. Perhaps the real motive of the people promoting these boycotts of Israel is not to help the Palestinians at all, but, like terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to destroy Israel.
On April 24, two Palestinian software development companies came to Bir Zeit University, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, to offer jobs to Palestinian students. The companies were invited to campus as part of the university’s Annual Hiring Day — an event aimed at helping students find jobs with major Palestinian firms.
The event, however, turned ugly when students protested against the presence of the representatives of the two companies on campus. The protesters expelled the company representatives from the university premises after accusing them of engaging in “normalization” with Israel. In other words, the students attacked, humiliated and expelled Palestinian companies that came to offer them jobs at a time when the Palestinian economy is facing a crisis and thousands of young Palestinians remain unemployed.
The first company is ASAL Technologies, a Ramallah-based software and IT services outsourcing firm founded in 2000. ASAL Technologies is the largest Palestinian information and communications technology company that supplies international companies with talented Palestinian professionals. The second company, also based in Ramallah, is EXALT, a software development center specialized in web services, backend/API development and mobile apps.
The students who expelled the companies’ representatives from campus said they were acting on instructions from the anti-Israel movement for boycotting Israel. According to the students, the two Palestinian companies are guilty of cooperating with Israelis, especially Mellanox Technologies, an Israeli multinational supplier of computer networking products.
One of the student groups responsible for the expulsion of the companies’ representatives is called Progressive Democratic Student Pole, which is affiliated with the radical PLO group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
In a statement explaining its opposition to the attempt of the two companies to hire students, the group accused the university administration of violating the instructions of the anti-Israel boycott campaign.
“Our comrades protested the participation of some technology companies involved in normalization, and which contribute to the ‘economic peace’ project during the Annual Hiring Day hosted by Bir Zeit University,” the statement said. It claimed that the Palestinian companies were doing business with “Zionist companies involved in crimes.”
“Our colleagues asked the delegates of these companies to leave the university campus, as part of a commitment from our comrades to resist normalization [with Israel] and our absolute rejection of the university’s involvement in any normalization activity that would harm the reputation of the university and the struggles of its students. We reject normalization and adopt the approach of resistance until the liberation of the entire Palestinian territory.”
This statement shows that for the Palestinian students, “resistance and the liberation of the entire Palestinian territory” is more important than providing badly needed jobs for unemployed university graduates. “Resistance” is a term used by Palestinians to describe the “armed struggle” against Israel, which includes carrying out various forms of armed attacks against Israelis. When the students talk about the “liberation of the entire Palestinian territory,” they are actually saying that they want to destroy Israel because they do not believe in its right to exist. This, by the way, is the same rhetoric used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two groups that also deny Israel’s right to exit.
Ahmed Atawneh, a representative of another student group called Student Unity Bloc, defended the decision to expel the company representative from campus. “The students of Bir Zeit University, which is also called University of the Martyrs, reject the presence of companies engaged in normalization with the occupation on our campus,” he said. University security personnel and officials escorted the representatives of the companies out of campus.”
The only student group that has come out against the expulsion of the companies from the university campus is the Shabiba Student Movement, which is affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction. The group’s students, however, failed to take any measures to stop their colleagues from offending and intimidating the company representatives who came to offer them jobs.
A statement published by the Fatah-affiliated student group called on the university administration to punish the students who “offended” and “assaulted” the company representatives. “The rules of student work require us to respect our guests and express opinions without insulting anyone,” the statement said. “We call on the administration of the University of Martyrs to clarify its position and punish all those who caused harm to our university and assaulted our guests.”
A video of the protest at Bir Zeit University posted on social media shows dozens of angry students surrounding the company representatives, and chanting: “Normalization [with Israel] is Treason.”
The incident at Bir Zeit University drew mixed reactions from Palestinians. While some seemed to oppose the expulsion of the company representatives, others expressed full support for the move.
This is just another example of how the movement for boycotting Israel is causing damage to Palestinians. Perhaps the real motive of the people promoting these boycotts of Israel is not to help the Palestinians at all, but, like terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to destroy Israel.
The biggest losers are the hundreds of students who could have been hired by two leading software companies in the context of efforts to find a solution to soaring unemployment in the West Bank. This incident shows that hatred for Israel remains the top priority for the anti-Israel boycott campaign. The organizers of such campaigns prefer to see university graduates join the fight against Israel than find jobs with software and technology companies. The Palestinians have once again scored an own goal.
The New York Times Needs to Reflect Deeply on How It Came to Publish Anti-Semitic Propaganda – Bret Stephens (New York Times)
On Thursday the opinion pages of the New York Times international edition provided a textbook illustration of anti-Semitism. Except that the Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism.
It was purveying it in the form of a cartoon in which a guide dog with the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. The dog-man wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.
Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Sturmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. What was this cartoon doing in the Times?
For some Times readers – or former readers – the Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. On the editorial pages, its overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.
The real story is a bit different. The international edition has a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.
The cartoon’s publication wasn’t a willful act of anti-Semitism but was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice. Imagine if the dog on a leash had been a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar?