Online Talmud the next great technological innovation –

When the history of Jewish texts comes to be written, Feb. 7, 2017, will likely be regarded as an important turning point.

Why? Heres what happened.

For the first time, the extraordinary Steinsaltz English translation and its interpretation of the Talmud was made available to all. Online. Free. In print, it costs hundreds to buy the Steinsaltz volumes. The Steinsaltz English translation is an up-to-date (some volumes are still to be released) and easily understood aid to Talmud study for English speakers.

But wait, theres more: Multiple commentaries are now just a click or a touch away and the ability to see where biblical texts appear in the Talmud has been added, and so much more. Effectively, the linked, interconnected nature of Jewish texts has now been brought to life online with a dynamism and an immediacy that will change the frame of Jewish learning. The implications for Jewish life going forward will likely be substantial.

To understand the significance of the moment, a little history is in order. Human communications technology began with the invention of pictorial writing, 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. It was the genesis of civilization.

Later, the creation of alphabets around 4,000 years ago gave rise to the potential for literacy, knowledge and citizenship. Hebrew was one of the earliest alphabets, and Jews were the first to insist that the education that alphabets made possible had to permeate every household in society. Over time, the written word became so central to Jews that even our oral transmissions were enshrined on clay or parchment. Texts became our hallmark. What other people insists that a piece of learned writing must be attached to every significant doorpost?

But writing had its limits: Scribal work was laborious and time-consuming. Scrolls were expensive treasures. Hand-written texts were hard to produce, hard to obtain, hard to replicate with precision and hard to preserve.

Only in the middle of the 15th century, with the arrival of the printing press, did texts and books and newspapers truly become available to all. It was a revolution that changed the world. Indeed, the printing press led directly to what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes as the collapse of strictly hierarchical societies in which only a few were literate and had access to texts.

The printing press, in short, changed the human landscape not only externally but internally, he wrote. More than any other invention it paved the way for the transition from the medieval to the modern age.

For Jews, the printing press made prayer books and commentaries widely available. It also gave rise to the arrangement of the classic Talmudic page, a unique compilation of texts spanning two millennia that has come to be the core focal point of Jewish learning.

Given this history, it is remarkable to realize that we are now living through the rise of the fourth great transformation in communication technology. The advent of the Internet represents a transition that will have even more profound implications than those initiated by the printing press.

Already in the 1990s, Jewish texts quickly migrated online and static versions of many sources were to be found on multiple websites. But that just mimicked the printed page in a virtual environment.

The game-changer came with the launch of the Sefaria website (and app) in 2013. Sefaria (from the Hebrew root sefer, book) began to collect all the significant Jewish texts in a common format in one searchable location. They started to link the texts, and they opened the site for Jewish educators to create and share instructional worksheets.

As the founders of Sefaria explained it, Judaisms core texts grew out of millennia-long conversations and arguments across generations. More than a collection of books on a shelf, the Jewish canon is a giant corpus of interconnected texts that speak to each other. Sefaria is making it easier than ever to explore the conversations of the past, while also creating a space for ancient conversations to continue in new ways, with new participants, new questions and new layers of dialogue.

This month, Sefaria became richer and deeper and more significant than ever before. It took Jewish texts to the next level the moment when they began to utilize fully the features of the online environment. Our texts have always operated in a cross-referenced fashion. Now, the hyperlinked technology allows that reality to become apparent and useful in an unprecedented way. Now, textual sharing, collaboration, mobility and availability are becoming universal.

Our scribes and scrolls will always be precious to us. But making the Talmud and the great Jewish sources accessible and translated everywhere at all time, with a facility for instantly searching across sources, is an invaluable leap. There can be little doubt that this is an important turning point indeed.

All Jews should have the Sefaria app on their phone or tablet. Even if consulted infrequently, it should be part of a learned Jewish identity to have all the core Jewish sources at ones fingertips. And together, we can now hold all the centuries of Jewish learning literally in our collective hands.

Rabbi Danny Schiff is the Jewish Community Foundation Scholar at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

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Online Talmud the next great technological innovation –

Lectures and classes Feb. 27-March 5 – Arizona Daily Star

When the Nightingales Sing: The Joy of Sephardic Song Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road. Learn about the history of Jews in Spain, listen to Sephardic music and sing some popular Ladino songs. 12:15-1:15 p.m. Feb. 27. $70. 327-4501.

Learn To Read Music Tucson Boys Chorus Center, 5770 E. Pima St. Topics will include notes, rhythm, clefts, key signatures and musical notation. 7-8:15 p.m. Feb. 27. Free. 235-4303.

Painting Party: Sandhill Cranes Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Karen Workman will lead through the painting process step-by-step. Bring an apron or smock. 1-4 p.m. Feb. 28. $35. 326-9686, Ext. 18.

Here Come the Hummers Saguaro National Park East, 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail. Join a park naturalist in the visitor center theater to discover the fascinating world of hummingbirds. 2-2:45 p.m. Feb. 28. Free. 733-5153.

Javelinas: Our Desert Neighbors Saguaro National Park West, 2700 N. Kinney Road. Learn about this intriguing creature and how it survives in this arid environment. 2:15-2:45 p.m. Feb. 28. Free. 733-5158.

Meet the Cuckoo of the Desert: The Roadrunner Saguaro National Park West. Presentation about the natural history, behaviors, traits and facts. 3:15-3:45 p.m. Feb. 28. Free. 733-5158.

Get Smart About Your Vision SaddleBrooke TWO, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd. Discussion on eye care for those who suffer from or at risk for cataracts. Call to RSVP. 4-6 p.m. Feb. 28. Free. 1-646-946-6682.

Pancake Supper Church of the Painted Hills, 3295 W. Speedway. Pancakes with butter and syrup, sausage, applesauce and drink. 5-7 p.m. Feb. 28. $6. 624-5715.

Amazing Ants in the Sonoran Desert Lutheran Church of the Foothills, 5102 N. Craycroft Road. Kim Franklin. 7-9 p.m. Feb. 28. Free. 604-6897.

Mountain Lions: Beyond the Myth Saguaro National Park West. Uncover the true nature of this predator. 10:15-11 a.m. March 1. Free. 733-5158.

Creepy Crawlers: The Silent Majority Saguaro National Park West. Learn about some of the most feared and misunderstood arthropods who call the park home. 2:15-2:45 p.m. March 1. Free. 733-5158.

Living with the Desert Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. Jo Falls teaches about a different aspect of desert home. 10 a.m.-noon. March 2. $89. 742-6455.

Play Sonoran Desert Bingo Saguaro National Park West. Learn about the plants and animals while playing bingo. 10:15-10:45 a.m. March 2. Free. 733-5158.

Living With Giants Saguaro National Park West. Learn how it provides shelter/substance for wildlife, when it flowers, growth patterns and its fight for survival. 11:15-noon. March 2. Free. 733-5158.

Beginning Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention Ellit Towne Flowingn Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road. Gentle enough for seniors and those needing to improve balance. 11 a.m. March 3. $45. 742-4600.

Lizards are Hot, Lizards are Cool Saguaro National Park West. Find out what it means when they do push ups or exhibit other odd behaviors. 3:15-3:45 p.m. March 3. Free. 733-5158.

Rainwater Harvesting Class: Tucson Water Rebate Watershed Management Group, 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. Class will reimburse up to $2,000 for residential rainwater-harvesting systems. 9 a.m.-noon. March 4. Free. 396-3266.

Tucson Lifestyle Cover Dog Search La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive. Dogs get a chance to be on the cover of Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. Benefiting the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. March 4. $30. 321-3704.

Cooking With Prickly Pear Saguaro National Park West. A live cooking demonstration to learn how to incorporate it into a diet. 3:15-3:45 p.m. March 5. Free. 733-5158.

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Lectures and classes Feb. 27-March 5 – Arizona Daily Star

Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Israeli virtuoso saxophone player and composer Daniel Zamir is headed to Atlanta for a Feb. 19 performance at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. The Hasidic jazz musician, who has toured with Matisyahu, is one of the most in-demand artists in Israel.

He spoke to the AJT by phone from Israel.

AJT: Will this be your first time performing in Atlanta?

Zamir: Well, I played a few years ago with Matisyahu at the University of Georgia. We were on a college tour, and, every campus we visited, I bought a baseball hat and would play the show wearing it. I remember I shouted, Go, Bulldogs! into the mic at UGA, and the crowd went crazy for it.

AJT: Youve actually been on a few tours with Matisyahu. What was it like touring as two observant Jews?

Zamir: Its an amazing experience to be able to express such a unique message on a big stage in front of so many people. To be able to bridge so many gaps and overcome so many prejudices and stigmas, its really unique and a privilege. AJT: You also have the top-selling jazz album of all time in Israel. How does that feel?

Zamir: Its amazing. I never thought that something like that could happen. Ive loved jazz since I started playing the saxophone, but I never thought I could be this successful in it. Also, to be able to connect jazz and Judaism is something I never thought I could do. From what I can tell, I think Im the only ultra-Orthodox jazz musician in the world.

AJT: How much Jewish or Hasidic influence would you say your music has?

Zamir: When I write my music, I have no concept in mind. In other words, I never planned to be a Jewish musician; its something that happened organically. It actually started before I was religious, and I was calling it world music or ethnic music. Only after (American Jewish composer-saxophonist) John Zorn heard my demo in 1999 and called it Jewish music did I finally accept it.

AJT: Why are there so many top-notch Israeli jazz musicians?

Zamir: I remember people were asking me in New York, What are they putting in your falafel over there? But the truth is jazz is music of the people, and after the 1950s people in Israel were trying to imitate American jazz. But what my generation did Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, myself and others we took our personalities and tradition and infused that into high-quality jazz. The result of that product is so unique and original and alive. I think thats why people love it so much.

Who:Daniel Zamir

Where:Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

When:7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19


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Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Palestine: On eve of Netanyahu visit, illegal settlements at tipping point – Green Left Weekly

In the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in Australia this month as part of an international tour aimed at shoring up Israels reputation abroad.

The visit has actually attracted attention but not the kind Netanyahu would like.

In the wake of a growing corruption scandal around the PM and the recent passage of the so-called regularisation law that retrospectively legalises illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the situation of Palestinian communities across the occupied territories is becoming increasingly desperate.

With increasing rates of demolitions of Palestinian houses, Netanyahus whirlwind international tour seems to be about shoring up both his and Israels reputations in the face of criticism over the contentious law.

Last year featured a record number of housing demolitions across the West Bank, which led to a record number of displaced people of which more than half are minors. In what amounts to a policy of de-Palestinianising previously Palestinian territories, the numbers of demolitions and displacements last year outstripped 2014 and 2015 combined.

The destruction of Palestinian homes and the displacement of Palestinian families across the West Bank have combined with the ever-growing numbers of illegal Israeli settlements to set the stage to complete the de facto annexation of the whole West Bank.

The West Bank is divided into three areas. Area C, for example, is under direct Israeli administrative control and makes up 60% of the West Bank. The practical consequences of Israeli administration of security and land management includes almost total refusal of any Palestinian application for building permits.

Palestinians are effectively prevented from building on about 70% of Area C.

Palestinians in the area also face outright seizures of property for live firing exercises (declaring a closed military zone), encroachment onto their land by the notorious separation barrier (as Israel calls the Apartheid Wall), the declaration of areas as state lands that can only be used by Israelis, and even nature reserves from which Palestinians are forbidden.

Responses around the world to the regularisation bill, passed on February 6, have been muted. No leader or foreign minister has really challenged the tired orthodoxy of the two-state solution.

However, a dramatic exception came on February 15 when Donald Trump used a joint press conference with Netanyahu on February 15 to seemingly imply support for a one-state solution in which Israel would exercise total control over historic Palestine.

Of course, being Trump, the actual meaning of his statement was unclear. One interpretation of Trumps garbled comments was support for officially establishing what increasingly exists on the ground: one state with two very different systems or apartheid, as many observers label it.

For their part, Germany, France and Britain have issued cautious statements about the dangers posed to the two-state solution by the new law and growth of Israeli settlements. European Union representatives came closest to outright condemnation by warning that the law would entrench a single state, but with very different rights and consequences for Israeli versus Palestinian citizens.

Israels own attorney-general has said that he will not defend the bill should it be brought before Israels high court.

Former Australian politicians have queued up to offer modest support to the idea of Palestinian statehood, while neatly sidestepping the issues brought to a head by the regularisation law and growing demolitions and evictions.

Former Labor PM Bob Hawke and Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans have joined calls to recognise the state of Palestine albeit with a view to continuing negotiations for a peaceful, two-state solution.

Another former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr has been the most critical. Carr dared suggest the slew of additional settlements on the West Bank might indicate Israels desire to annex the West Bank and finally torpedo any remaining chance of a negotiated settlement.

Naming settlements as an obstacle to peace between Israel and Palestine is a bold move and will most likely be ignored by Israel.

What almost no one outside progressive media is saying even the EU is that the never-ending expansion of settlements are an insurmountable stumbling block to any negotiated solution. Nor is it noted that this is actually what Israel intended all along.

The more Israeli settlements and Palestinian housing demolitions frustrate peace talks, the more time Israel creates for itself to consolidate its hold on stolen Palestinian territories.

While mainstream media is distracted by Netanyahus PR tour, the expansion of Israeli settlements continues unchecked and towns throughout the West Bank are rapidly becoming de-Palestinianised.

[Protests have been called against Netanyahus visit for Melbourne on February 19 and Sydney on February 23. Visit the Australian Friends of Palestine Association website for details.]

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Palestine: On eve of Netanyahu visit, illegal settlements at tipping point – Green Left Weekly

Palestine PD to host community policing class | Community … – Palestine Herald Press

Lt. Gabriel Green, communications officer for the Palestine Police Department, informed the Palestine Rotary that the police department will host a community-oriented policing class March 8-9.

The community policing is about working to identify those problems in our community and getting with the right people to fix them, Green said.

This class is being offered to help empower citizens to be able to retake and maintain their neighborhoods and communities, according to Green.

This event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Palestine Civic Center.

On the first day, the class will teach residents how they can work with the police department to solve issues in their neighborhoods and in the community.

They will go over the history of policing in America, roles and responsibilities in community-oriented policing and tools of community-oriented policing that help reduce crime and fear of it.

The class will also discuss the concepts of how to establish better relations, solve crimes and get dangerous people off the streets.

On the second day, participants will go out into the city to try to identify problem areas and formulate solutions.

‘We are asking that our citizenry join us in this two-day event, as we go behind the scene together and explore how to rid our streets of crimes that are systemic in nature, said Mike Alexander, Palestine city manager.

Community is where the robber meets the road, because it is riddled with mutual trust and cooperation, which are two key elements of community policing and are vital to protecting residents of these communities from the crime that plagues them, said Alexander. Community policing combines a focus on intervention and prevention through problem solving with building collaborative partnerships between law enforcement agencies and schools, social services and other stakeholders.

Community policing not only improves public safety, but it also enhances social connectivity and economic strength, which increases community resilience to crime, Alexander said.

One of my phases I often use when discussing this topic, taken from Sir Robert Peel, who was called the father of modern policing the police are the community and the community are the police; the only difference between the two is that the police is paid to give 24-hour service to what is incumbent of every citizen, said Alexander.

The class will be attended by both police and city employees, who will be assisting and learning how they can further help the community.

The class is free and open to all residents.

The Palestine Civic Center is located at 1819 W. Spring St.

For more information on the community policing class, contact Lt. Green at 903-729-2254 or

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Palestine PD to host community policing class | Community … – Palestine Herald Press

Rouhani: We’ll continue to support ‘Palestine’ – Arutz Sheva

Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday promised to continue to support Palestinian Arabs, calling on other Muslim nations to do so as well.

“The Iranian nation has paid a heavy price for supporting the Palestinian nation and opposition to the Zionist regime’s actions but it will continue its support with resolve and determination,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) politician Salim al-Zanoun in Tehran on Wednesday, according to the Fars news agency.

“We believe that the Muslim world should resist to restore the rights of the Palestinian nation and it should pay the needed price,” added Rouhani, who expressed confidence that the PA would succeed in fighting to defend its rights.

The meeting between the two came on the sidelines of an annual Iranian conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada.

The Hamas terrorist group has sent a delegation to participate in the conference. According to Iranian, delegations from over 80 countries are in attendance as well.

Rouhanis comments come as Iranian officials have upped their anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rhetoric in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Irans spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the complete liberation of Palestine and slammed the Jewish state as a cancerous tumor.

“This cancerous tumor, since its start, has grown incrementally and its treatment must be incremental too,” he said, while praising violent attacks against Israelis and arguing that they have brought Israels enemies closer to their goal of destroying the Jewish state.

“Multiple intifadas and continuous resistance have succeeded in achieving very important incremental goals, said Khamenei.

A senior Iranian official recently threatened his country would immediately strike Israel if the United States “makes a mistake”, noting that “only 7 minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv.”

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Rouhani: We’ll continue to support ‘Palestine’ – Arutz Sheva

Trump Is Right On Palestine: A Two-State Solution Is No Longer Viable – Huffington Post

Just because Trump said it doesnt mean it has to be wrong.

During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus recent visit to Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump publicly stated that he could support a divergence from a two-state solution in Palestine. He is the first United States president in recent memory to question that sacred article of U.S.-Middle East policy. But while the announcement came as a shock to many, indeed, a serious rethink is long overdue in recognizing the defunct two-state scheme.

Many honorable people have dedicated the bulk of their professional lives to the tedious minutiae and sad diplomatic history of the Palestinian-Israeli morass. Sadly, none of those efforts have brought any resolution whatsoever to a gangrenous issue in many respects one of the major roots of so many of the Middle Easts contemporary ills.

The trouble is that, apart from a few dedicated diplomats and scholars who had hopes of one day truly accomplishing something, the two-state solution in practice is essentially a fraud. Yes, a few wiser Israeli leadersin the past just possibly might have believed in that ideal, but for decades now the two-state scheme has simply been cynically exploited by newer Israeli leaders, especially by Bibi Netanyahu one of the longer-serving and most right-wing prime ministers in Israels history.

Netanyahu has been backed by a formidable and wealthy pro-Zionist cheering section in the U.S. The goal is to conceal their true agenda the ultimate Israeli annexation of all of Palestine. They themselves as hard-line Zionistshave been subtly but systematically torpedoing the two-state solutionbehind the scenes to that end.

None of my observations here on the hoax of the two-state solution are new or original. Many liberal Israeli observers I met while working in the region have been stating the self-evident for years now. But those voices never get heard in the U.S. where it constitutes an unmentionable. But there should be no doubt: the concept of a two-state solution a Palestinian and an Israeli state sharing historical Palestine and living side by side in sovereignty and dignity is dead. It is almost inconceivable that it can now ever be resuscitated: nearly all the operative forces within Israel are systematically working to prevent it from ever coming about.

The harsh reality is that Israel, through a relentless process of creating facts on the ground, is now decades deep into the process of taking over illegally, step-by-step, the totality of Palestine. Israel has scant regard for any international law in this respect, and never has had any. Washington, apart from a few periodic pathetic bleats, has ended up functionally supporting this cynical scheme all the way, perhaps unwilling to confront the painful reality of what is really taking place, along with its dangerous political repercussions at home.

Baz Ratner / Reuters

Israel is extending day by day its control indeed ownership of Palestinian lands through expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and the dispossession of the rightful owners of these Palestinian lands. Put simply, there is little left of Palestinian land out of which ever to fashion a two-state solution.

That leaves us with only one alternative: the one-state solution. Indeed, Israels actions have already created the preconditions that make the one-state solution an unacknowledged but virtual fait accompli.

Honest observers know full well that the mantra of preserving the peace process for the two-state solution is now little more than a cover by hard-line Zionists for full Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands. The sooner we all acknowledge this ugly reality, the better. That will then require Israel, the Palestinians and the world to get on with dealing with the complex challenge of crafting the binational state the one-state solution.

The calculations of some hard-line Zionists who are now largely in control of Israeli state mechanisms are often unyielding.After years on the ground, Ive found that the rationale is more evident with each passing year. It goes something like this:

1) Israel should functionally take over all of Palestinian territory and permit full Jewish settlement therein.

2) Israel should still play the two-state solution game with visiting foreign diplomats to reduce pressure on Israel, to play for time while it quietly establishes the irreversible facts on the ground that shut out any possible viable Palestinian state.

3) Make life harsh enough for Palestinians that, bit by bit, they will grow bitter and weary, give up and go elsewhere, leaving all the land for Zionist settlers.

4) If Palestinians stubbornly resist, predictable periodic military and security crises in Palestine over the longer run will enable Israel to rid Palestine of all Palestinians a gradual process of ethnic cleansing (or restoration of the situation that God wills as they would refer to it) that returns all the land promised by God to the Jews.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Some liberal Israelis actually do accept the idea of a one-state solution in their own liberal vision of a future Israel one in which Israelis and Palestinians live as equal citizens in a secular, democratic, binational, multicultural state enjoying equal rights, rather than the increasingly religiously dominated state that it is. And the liberal ideal makes sense: the country is already well on the way to becoming bilingual and Hebrew and Arabic are closely-related languages. Both are Semitic peoples with ancient ties to the same land.

The problem is, ardent Zionists dont want a binational Palestinian-Jewish state. They want a Jewish state and demand that the world accept that term. Yet, in todays world isnt the term Jewish state strikingly discordant? Who speaks of an English or French state? The world would freak out if tomorrow Berlin started calling itself the German State. Or Spain a Christian state.So what do we make of a state that is dedicated solely to Jews and Judaism? Such concepts are remnants of 19th century movements that promoted the creation of ethnically and/or religiously pure states. Modern states no longer define themselves on either an ethnic or religious basis.Indeed it was precisely that kind of ugly religious and ethnic nationalism that caused Jews to flee from Eastern Europe in the first place to find their own homeland.

The true historical task of Israel, with the support of the world, is now to begin the challenging work of introducing the range of major reforms that will transform Israel into just such a multi-ethnic and bilingual state of equal citizens enjoying equal rights under secular law. It is not a question of allowing Palestinians into Israel, they are already there and have been for millennia, initially in far greater numbers than Jews. Palestinians now seek full legal equality of treatment under secular law in Israel.

So lets acknowledge the useful truth that Trump has blundered onto. Lets abandon the naive and cynical rhetoric about the two-state solution that will never come about in any just and acceptable form. Half of Israel never believed in it in the first place. It has served only as a facade for building an apartheid Jewish state a term used frequently by some liberal Israeli commentators I have encountered.

Netanyahu and the right-wing Zionists clearly want all of Palestine. But theyre not ready yet to admit it. They want all the land, but without any of its people. But despite Zionist hopes, the Palestinians arent going to abandon their lands. And so the logical outcome of Israels takeover of all of Palestine leads by definition to an ultimate single, binational state.

The challenge to Israelis and Palestinians is huge. It entails a deep Palestinian rethink of their options and their future destiny in a new order, and the need to fight for those democratic rights in a binational state. It involves Israeli evolution away from God-given rights in a state solely for Jews and Judaism that can only be forever oppressive and undemocratic as it now stands. The process will be a slow and difficult one. But it also represents an evolution consonant with emerging contemporary global values.

We expect a democratic multicultural state from Germany and France, or from Britain, Canada and the United States why not from Israel?

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official and author of numerous books on the Muslim world. His latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an Americans crisis of conscience in Pakistan.A version of this piece first appeared on

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Trump Is Right On Palestine: A Two-State Solution Is No Longer Viable – Huffington Post

How comics are tackling the last taboo: Holocaust humor – New York Post

Sex, death, race, religion seemingly nothings off-limits to comedians. Only one subject seems taboo, even for the likes of Louis C.K. and Chris Rock: the Holocaust.

Ferne Pearlstein, director of the documentary The Last Laugh, found this out the hard way when she had difficulty raising money for her movie. People told me I had a great idea and I should let them know when [other] people invested, she says of her film, which premieres March 3 and focuses on humor in and out of the Nazi concentration camps.

It took her 18 years, but she raised the money for her modestly budgeted independent film, for which she corralled a Whos Who of comics Sarah Silverman, Carl and Rob Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried and Larry Charles among them to speak about the unspeakable.

Mel Brooks, the man who wrote The Producers and its show-stopping song Springtime for Hitler, explained where he draws the line: He mocks the Nazis, but considers the Holocaust itself off-limits.

Joan Rivers had no such boundaries: During 2013s Fashion Police Oscars wrap-up, she focused on Heidi Klum, quipping, The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into ovens.

Contemporary jokes about Hitler and his henchmen are put into perspective by the films most interesting revelation: Humor, however dark, helped some endure the misery of the camps.

I went to a survivor who was the emcee of a comedy show at Auschwitz, says Pearlstein, whose family came to America ahead of World War II. These shows took place behind the barracks and prisoners told jokes that could have cost them their lives. Pearlstein recalls the daughter of a survivor whose father told her, If you were funny before the camps, you were funny in the camps.

One of those she interviewed was Robert Clary, who played the French POW Corporal Louis LeBeau on the 60s TV show Hogans Heroes. A survivor of Buchenwald himself, Clary (born Robert Max Widerman) was criticized for appearing in a sitcom about a German prisoner of war camp (the concentration part went unmentioned).

Clary, who recently turned 90, told Pearlstein that entertaining under duress kept him alive. He lost his entire family [to the Nazis] and would not have survived if he couldnt sing, Pearlstein says about the actor, who kept his captors at Buchenwald amused. He was spunky and funny, and being able to make people laugh … saved his life.

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How comics are tackling the last taboo: Holocaust humor – New York Post

US Holocaust Museum Official: Digitizing the Records a Bulwark … – The Jewish Press –

Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot

United States Holocaust Memorial Museums Director of International Affairs Paul A. Shapiro spoke passionately about the struggle to open the archives and subsequent digitization of the nearly 200 million historical documents from the Holocaust by the International Tracing Service, and its importance at a symposium in Jerusalem last night.

These archives and their growing accessibility are a potent weapon against rising Holocaust denial, Shapiro said. It is also an important lesson for today about resurgent Antisemitism. In the Holocaust, when hatred was unleashed it wasnt limited to Jews. Just as today when Antisemitism is on the rise, its dangers extend beyond the Jewish community.

Shapiro gave a historical overview of the Holocaust archives at the International Tracing Service based in Bad Arolsen, Germany. For decades, the International Red Cross and governments around the world, including the US and Israel, did not allow the archives to be opened for public use.

One cant celebrate because far too many passed away before finding truth and justice, Shapiro continued, speaking about how difficult it was to see information about the fate and whereabouts of families caught up in the Holocaust suppressed for so many decades. We had a moral obligation to Holocaust survivors and families to provide assurances that what happened was not being swept under the rug.

Elizabeth Anthony, International Tracing Service and Partnerships Program Manager, Visiting Scholar Programs, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, spoke about the academic potential of the digitization of the archives and how our understanding of central parts of the Holocaust is being expanded as a result.

Anthony also spoke about how the primary sources found in the archives are now being published and taught in educational resources in the US and the UK, and other English-speaking countries, showing examples of handwritten letters from a search of a mother for her daughter.

Elana Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, and Holocaust scholar, moderated the event. It is our hope that this digitization process will revive interest in the Holocaust, especially among the descendants of Holocaust victims, Heideman said. This process will make the facts and reality of the Holocaust accessible for future generations, especially as survivors are dwindling in number.

The symposium was titled Seeking Justice: Holocaust History and the Archives of the International Tracing Service, held at the Van Leer Institute and made possible by Phyllis Greenberg Heideman and Richard D. Heideman. The Bnai Brith World Center Jerusalem and the Israel Forever Foundation have co-sponsored this event.

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US Holocaust Museum Official: Digitizing the Records a Bulwark … – The Jewish Press –

Warsaw starts the clock on applications for Holocaust-era property … – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A general view of the cityscape, with the Palace of Culture and Science (2nd R), is pictured from the construction site of a new skyscraper in Warsaw, Poland October 2, 2015. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

Holocaust survivors and their families have six months to reclaim property unjustly taken from them, after the city of Warsaw released an initial list of 48 properties on Wednesday.

According to a controversial property restitution law passed in 2016, rightful claimants have half a year to pursue their property claim, and then three months to prove their right to the property. Any property which is not claimed before that deadline will be permanently transferred to the city of Warsaw.

Critics of the law have argued that six months is not enough time for the process. The World Jewish Restitution Organization called on Polish authorities to extend the deadline, release a complete list of properties and claimants and to actively work to identify and notify potential claimants.

It is unfair for claimants particularly those who now live outside of Poland to lose this last opportunity to reconnect with their past because of the administrative complexity of this law, Gideon Taylor, the organizations chairman of operations, said in a statement.

The problems with this legislation highlight the urgent need for comprehensive national property restitution legislation in Poland, Taylor added. Poland remains the only country in Europe that does not have a national law to address private property restitution from the Holocaust era. We urge the government of Poland to address this issue promptly so that Holocaust survivors and their heirs, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, can receive a small measure of justice.

The law, which took effect in September 2016, applies only to people who filed property claims in the city of Warsaw after 1945, when the Communist authorities in Poland issued the Decree on Ownership and Usufruct of Land in Warsaw, known as the Warsaw Decree.

The decree allowed former owners of the nationalized property to apply for temporary ownership rights, but according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the Communist authorities rejected or did not review most of the applications.

The organization asserts that many claimants, or their heirs, are unaware that they now have an opportunity to pursue their claims, some 70 years after they originally filed them.

The organization launched its own database in December to assist Holocaust survivors and their families in identifying their property. The database matches different historical Warsaw city records, allowing users to look for the names of family members or Warsaw building addresses to help determine if they, or someone else, filed a claim that may remain open for the property.

The law does not address people who did not file claims right after World War II, or people with property outside of Warsaw.

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Warsaw starts the clock on applications for Holocaust-era property … – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Students denounce posters questioning Holocaust at University of Calgary –

Some students at the University of Calgary are speaking out after posters questioning whether six million Jews were really killed in the Holocaust were put up around the campus.

The dozen or so posters were taken down immediately last week.

Jordan Waldman, head of Hillel Calgary, a students’ group affiliated with the Calgary Jewish Federation, says the messages were blatantly anti-Semitic.

“The six million who died in the Holocaust, that is a number that’s been proven. It’s not up for academic debate,” he said.

“So this question in itself, it’s a poster promoting Holocaust denial.”

It’s the second troubling incident of its kind so far this academic year, said Students’ Union president Stephen Guscott. Last fall, dozens of anti-Muslim posters showed up on campus.

Students Union president Stephen Guscott says it’s disappointing to see such shocking messages posted on campus. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

“I think it’s really disappointing and shocking that inflammatory posters like this were put up around campus,” he said.

“I think it’s really important for our campus to have a focus on diversity and inclusivity, and I think posters like this stand in the way of that.”

According to B’Nai Brith Canada, the”Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust” (CODOH) has taken credit for putting up the posters.

“Prominent CODOH figuresinclude German-Canadian Holocaust deniers Alfred and Monika Schaefer, and suspended University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall,” B’Nai Brithsaid in a press release.

U of C student Nolan Hill, who sawone of the posters taped to a door at MacEwan Hall, the main student centre, later looked up some of thenames and organizations mentioned on it.

“They were all coming up as very prominent Holocaust deniers,” he said.

Among the names listed on one of the posters was infamous neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel, who was convicted in Canada for “spreading false news” before the Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying that the charge violated his Charter right to freedom of expression. Zundel was then deported to his native Germany, where he served five years for inciting racial hatred.

“So it’s just really concerning that someone would think to put those up here, because I think we are quite a welcoming and diverse campus,” Hill said.

In a written statement, the university says it is committed to open debate and a diversity of opinion while sustaining an inclusive and respectful environment.

About a dozen posters, like this one, questioning whether six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, were put up on doors and walls around the U of C recently. (The Gauntlet)

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Students denounce posters questioning Holocaust at University of Calgary –

Ten finalist teams named for UK National Holocaust Memorial competition – The Architect’s Newspaper

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has announced its shortlist of ten teams to design the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent the Palace of Westminster and in the heart of London. Whittled down from almost one hundred international entries, the finalists proposals are currently traveling on display throughout the U.K. while the foundation proceeds with the interview phase.

The competition, announced in September of 2016, seeks a team to create a sensitively-designed Memorial and Learning Centre that is emotionally powerful while offering visitors an opportunity to deepen their understanding of humanitys darkest hour. The brief calls for a distinct memorial adjacent to the River Thames with a subterranean education center.

The buildings construction is estimated to cost 40 million with the British government allocating 50 million in public funds to see the project through to completion (the 50 million figure also includes the creation and operation of the Centre, as well as other related education efforts). The education facility is said to not be a conventional exhibition or teaching [center] and will extend 2,650 square meters under the parks lawn. The chosen architect will have to contend with a complex program that must balance with the historic nature of the site. Furthermore, one memberof the House of Commons hascited concerns that constructionin Londons public parkland might set a dangerous precedent for future development of the citys open space, among other potential issues.

Rendering of submission by artist Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects. (Courtesy of Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid Architects with artist Anish KapoorA bronze monolith sculpted by Anish Kapoor and a Zaha Hadid Architectsdesigned structure would extend from a sunken courtyard and designate the National Holocaust Memorial as striking new landmark in London.

Rendering of submission by John McAslan + Partners with MASS Design Group. (Courtesy of John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group)

John McAslan + Partners with MASS Design GroupDrawing from Jewish traditions, this team has developed a sensitive design approach for the engagement of visitors to the site.

Rendering of submission by Studio Libeskind with Haptic Architects. (Courtesy of Studio Libeskind and Haptic Architects)

Studio Libeskind with Haptic ArchitectsStudio Libeskind is familiar with crafting sites to memorialize the Holocaust, having designed several such buildings across Europe. This effort recalls the similar abstraction of form and space characteristic of those earlier works.

Rendering of submission byheneghan peng architects with Bruce Mau Design. (Courtesy of heneghan peng)

heneghan peng architects with design agency Bruce Mau DesignProposing a structure that obscures the senses at some junctures and heightens them at others, this design focuses on the phenomenological experiences of its visitors.

Rendering of submission by Foster + Partners with artist Michal Rovner. (Courtesy of Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner)

Foster + Partners with artist Michal RovnerThis proposal is arranged as a long axial path for contemplation and sensory stimulation; visitors would descend a ramp underground beforereemerging up a long flight of stairsinto the park.

Rendering of submission by Diamond Schmitt Architects with landscape architect Martha Schwartz Partners. (Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects)

Diamond Schmitt Architects with landscape architect Martha Schwartz PartnersUsing a simple ovular shape, this design integrates both the memorial and learning center into one sweeping gesture.

Rendering of submission by Allied Works with artist Robert Montgomery. (Courtesy of Allied Works)

Allied Works with artist Robert MontgomeryFocusing acutely on building a powerful narrative for the site, this heterogenous team led by Allied Works includes sculptor and poet Robert Montgomery, who adds his incisive urban art-form to the proposal.

Rendering of submission by Caruso St John with artist Rachel Whiteread. (Courtesy of Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread)

Caruso St John with artist Rachel WhitereadThis design focuses on the contextual elements of the site and the dramatic unfolding of space through sculptural cast glass and filtered light.

Rendering of submission by Lahdelma & Mahlamki Architects with David Morley Architects. (Courtesy of Lahdelma & Mahlamki Architects and David Morley Architects)

Lahdelma & Mahlamki Architects with David Morley ArchitectsLocated in a highly stylized landscape, the team lead by Finnish firm Lahdelma & Mahlamki Architects has designed a distinct procession for visitors to experience.

Rendering of submission by Adjaye Associates with Ron Arad Architects. (Courtesy of Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects)

Adjaye Associates with Ron Arad ArchitectsUsing repeating geometric shapes to draw the visitor to the entrance of the center, the designers aim to emphasizethe many layers of the British experience of the Holocaust.

The jury is composed of many experts in Jewish Studies, architecture, public land use, and public works, and will select a winner later this summer to develop a final design.


Sir Peter Bazalgette (Jury Chair) Chair United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Chair, ITV Board

The Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE JournalistAlice M. Greenwald President and CEO of National September 11 Memorial and MuseumLoyd Grossman CBE Chair, Royal ParksBen Helfgott MBE Holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, 45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day TrustRt Hon Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State for Communities and Local GovernmentNatasha Kaplinsky BroadcasterRt Hon Sadiq Khan Mayor of LondonChief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Chief Rabbi of the United KingdomSally Osman Director of Royal CommunicationsDame Julia Peyton-Jones DBE Former Director of the Serpentine GalleriesPaul Williams OBE Director, Stanton Williams ArchitectsMalcolm Reading Competition Director and Advisor to the Jury

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Ten finalist teams named for UK National Holocaust Memorial competition – The Architect’s Newspaper

Near San Francisco, Karaite Jews keep an ancient movement alive … – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

It is a custom among Karaite Jews to pray kneeling on the ground, as seen here in the sanctuary of Congregation Bnai Israel in Daly City, Calif. (Courtesy of Karaite Jews of America)

DALY CITY, Calif. (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) Show up on a Shabbat morning at Congregation Bnai Israel in this Northern California suburb and, if youre a typical American Jew, you will see plenty thats familiar.

At the front of the sanctuary is an ark, and inside the ark are several Torah scrolls. There is a memorial wall at the back listing the names of the communitys lost loved ones. Near the entrance is a rack of tallitot, or prayer shawls.

But before you come in, you must remove your shoes, as Moses did when he approached the Burning Bush. Examine the rack of tallitot and you will find that the fringes are dyed, knotted and wrapped in an unusual way. In front of the pews is an open space covered in rugs. Some worshippers sit or kneel on the floor; when they bow, they touch their heads to the ground. The prayers follow a unique structure, and the sound is very Middle Eastern.

Bnai Israel is the only Karaite synagogue in North America, serving the Diasporas largest community of Jews carrying on the traditions of a movement that diverged from the rabbinic mainstream as far back as the eighth century C.E. About 800 members live within driving distance of the synagogue.

Karaite Jews differ from Rabbanite Jews, as Karaites call Jews who follow rabbinic tradition, in that they rely on what is written in the Torah and reject practices and interpretations derived from the oral law the Talmud and other rabbinic literature. The two communities coexisted until the 10th century, when the (Rabbanite) sage Saadia Gaon denounced Karaites as apostates and sought to exclude them from the Jewish community. Relationships between the two Jewish communities have varied across time and place, but the initial antagonism has long colored the relationship.

In the Bay Area, where few Rabbanite Jews are aware of Karaite Judaism, the relationship is cordial, though not always close on an institutional level. But on a personal level, many Karaite Jews are involved with the wider Bay Area Jewish community. Many have had bar and bat mitzvahs in Rabbanite synagogues.

Still, Bnai Israels is a small, closely knit community drawn together by the Egyptian ancestry of many of its members as well as their Karaite practice. Like many other small Jewish communities, they are concerned about the future. Who will induct their children and other interested Jews into Karaite traditions?

To ensure that future, the congregation has embarked on a relatively small construction project that will have a large and visible impact on their community: They are renovating their existing 3,500-square-foot prefab building and creating a 1,000-square-foot Karaite Jewish Cultural Center,attached to the synagogue, which will serve as a combination education program, museum and social center.

There is a Karaite Heritage Center in Israel, but this will be the only similar institution in the Diaspora.

For a community this small, a lot is riding on the project.

If this current generation of Karaite Jews in the United States fails, itll be very difficult to kick-start the movement in any organized fashion, said Shawn Lichaa, a pillar of the local Karaite community.

Karaite practice is usually defined byits differences with rabbinic Judaism, whose acceptance ofthe orallaw is considered foundational by Orthodox, Conservativeand Reform Jews, even if Reform Judaism does not consider its rules binding.

Karaite Torah scrolls are stored in the Eastern style, with the scroll enclosed in a hard case. (David A.M. Wilensky)

The rabbinic kosherpractice of not mixing milk and meat, for example, is derived from fairly limited verses in the Bible that one should not cook a young goat in its mothers milk. The rabbinic traditionexpanded the prohibition to prevent the mixing and consumption of any kind of dairy with any kind of meat, including chicken, and created an array of laws about separating cooking utensilsandwaiting between eating meatand dairy.

In the Karaite view of kashrut, one may mix meat and dairy products that come from different animals, and each community and individual has autonomy to decide how strict or lax to be. Karaites also do not accept rabbinic loopholes that ease various Shabbat restrictions. Karaite Jews have embraced some Rabbanite traditions, such as bnai mitzvah, while rejecting others, such as celebrating Hanukkah (which marks events that occurred 1,000 years after those described in the Torah).

Karaites also include a blue strand in their tzitzit, giving their tallitot a distinctive look and informing the name ofA Blue Thread, Lichaas long-running blog on Karaite Judaism.

In the Bnai Israel sanctuary, most women sit off to one side, though there is no mechitza to separate them formally from the men. As each Karaite community is empowered to set its own standards, American mores rubbed off on the community, and some women now prefer to sit in the main area.

Today there are an estimated 30,000 Karaite Jews in Israel, 1,500 in the United States and small communities in places like France, England, Turkey and Russia. But until the mid-20th century, many lived in Arab lands. For centuries, one of the most prominent Karaite communities in the world was in Cairo, where the first Bay Area Karaites came from. Cairo once had a Karaite quarter of about 5,000 people adjacent to the mainstream Jewish quarter. Relations between Karaite and Rabbanite Jews in Cairo were close; the Cairo Genizah, a vast store of Jewish writings discovered in a Rabbanite synagogue in Cairo in the 19th century, included a number of Karaite documents.

In what Karaites sometimes call the second exodus, they left Egypt en masse during the last century afterIsrael became a state in 1948. More left after the 1956 Sinai War. During the 1967 Six-Day War, the remaining Jewish men in Egypt were put in camps, where they were held for over two years; they were the last to leave. Over the years mostly because of relatives already in the Bay Area many of the Egyptian Karaite Jews wound up here.

A rack of prayer shawls at Congregation Bnai Israel shows the unique style of tzitzit used by Karaite Jews. (David A.M. Wilensky)

In 1994, the Bay Area Karaite community bought the Daly City building from an existing Congregation Bnai Israel that was closing. The Karaite congregation adopted the name Bnai Israel because it was already painted on the side of the building.

The cultural center would have been no more than a dream were it not for the fortuitous union, in their 60s, of David Ovadia and Maryellen Himell-Ovadia, who are leading the fundraising and renovation efforts. Ovadia is a Karaite Jew by heritage and a structural engineer by training; Himell-Ovadia is a former member of San Franciscos Congregation Emanu-El and an experienced fundraiser.

Ovadia came to the Bay Area from Egypt at age 13 in 1963.

During that time, a lot of my other uncles and everybody else was feeling the pressure and everything that was going on in Egypt, he said.

While others in his community have feared for its future, Ovadias faith never wavered.

I never doubted that this is going to continue, he said. This is making sure that there is going to be a tradition kept alive. We will live for a thousand years and more.

Himell-Ovadia sees herself as part of a bridge between the Karaite and mainstream Jewish communities of the Bay Area a bridge that she hopes will grow.

This is not just about improving or facilitating things within the Karaite community, but to build bridges to the larger world and to make this a welcoming place for others who want to come and learn about this unique culture within the branches of the Jewish family tree, she said.

With groundbreaking set for the end of this month, the Bnai Israel community has already raised $1.1 million of its $1.2 million goal. The cultural center campaign is an approved grantee of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federations donor-advised funds, though it only accounts for a small percentage of the money raised. In about six weeks, the congregation will move out of its building and be hosted by other congregations until the High Holidays, when it expects to be back home again.

A Blue Thread blogger Lichaa, 37, is also the creator of the Karaite Press. Launched in February 2016 with the publication of a 12th-century Karaite commentary on the Book of Esther, the Karaite Press aims to make great historical Karaite writings many of them written in Arabic and until now locked up in manuscript form available to the global Karaite community and the public at large.

Lichaa, a San Francisco native and the son of Karaite parents from Cairo, grew up in Foster City, where he attended Hebrew school at Peninsula Sinai Congregation.

In Cairo, members of the Karaite community lived close together. But, Lichaa said, When we came to the U.S. we didnt have proximity, a central place where a critical mass lived where we could do education with our own teachers. The easiest thing to do was join local synagogues.

Today, the Daly City congregation offers some education programs, but none specifically for kids.

We do train them in prayers, one on one. I do some of that, Lichaa said.

A recent bar mitzvah at Bnai Israel was a major affair, drawing a crowd of 150 to the small sanctuary.

The new center will offer a range of programs, everything from cooking classes, history classes, to arts, he said. I see a Tuesday night open house where were open to the community. People can drop by, there will be food and beverages. And maybe Thursday nights well have a specific learning opportunity.

Lichaa is working to make sure all of the classes will be live-streamed, making the learning available to a wide audience.

The center also will include a rotating exhibit of Karaite Torah scrolls, art, manuscripts and the like.

Lichaa views himself as Jewish first and Karaite second.

I made an active decision that my preferred form of Judaism is Karaite Judaism, he said. If youre an Orthodox Jew, I understand why you follow the rabbinic tradition. But for everyone else, I wonder why Karaite Judaism cant be one of the menu options.

Read more here:
Near San Francisco, Karaite Jews keep an ancient movement alive … – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: February 23, 2017 – Haaretz

David Magerman confronts boss over Trump support | Ellison clarifies past comments | NORPAC defends Menendez | Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish?

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WOW — Incredible Read: “‘You Have to Stop, Renaissance Executive David Magerman Tells Boss About Trump Support” by Gregory Zuckerman: “David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line.I hear youre going around saying Im a white supremacist, Mr. Mercer said. Thats ridiculous. …Those werent my exact words, Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trumps policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices. If what youre doing is harming the country then you have to stop.

“Until now, however, nobody within the tight-lipped hedge fund has gone public with a grievance.His views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesnt need, but many Americans do, said Mr. Magerman, 48 years old, during an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the Dairy Caf, a kosher restaurant he owns in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Now hes using the money I helped him make to implement his worldview by supporting Mr. Trump and encouraging that government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.Mr. Magerman, a 20-year Renaissance veteran who helped design the funds trading systems, says he is speaking only for himself, and that there is no sign of a broad insurrection at the firm.”

“Mr. Magerman makes millions of dollars a year, drives a Tesla and says he gives more than $10 million in charity annually. A research scientist, he is one of 100 partners at the firm, but he isnt one of Renaissances most senior executives.Id like to think Im speaking out in a way that wont risk my job, but its very possible they could fire me, he said. My wife isnt comfortable with me jeopardizing my job, but she realizes its my prerogative and agrees with my sentiments.Mr. Magerman has one idea that would reduce the power of people like Mr. Mercer. He said he was thinking about reaching out to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to craft proposals to reduce speculative trading, which presumably would curtail Renaissances profits.This is my lifes workI ran a group that wrote the trading system they still use, he said. But I feel relieved Im now doing something, and if they fire me, maybe its for the best.” [WSJ]

–Flashback: “The Controversial David Magerman” by Simon Van Zuylen-Wood in September 2013:”Wealthy Main Liner David Magerman has given millions to Philadelphias Jewish community. The Jewish community is thankful. Sort of.” [PhillyMag]

DNC WATCH — Yesterday, at the final debate ahead of the election for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee taking place on Saturday, Rep. Keith Ellison addressed past comments, including praise forLouis Farrakhan, controversialviews towards the Jewish community and his position on the U.S.- Israel relationship, that havecaused many establishment Jewish Democrats to oppose his candidacy.

These are false allegations, Ellison said when asked about his past comments thirteenminutes into the live TV debate in Atlanta, and that’s why I have 300 rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have signed a letter supporting me I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication, and that’s why in my own community, I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we’re fighting back every day, but we’re fighting back with people who know us. I just want to say, it is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated. Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now, four square, and that’s what the Democratic Party is all about.

Ellison on Democratic concerns of his Israel record: Here’s what I say, I voted for $27 billion in bilateral aid to Israel over the course of about six or seven votes. I have been to the region many times and sat down with members of the Knesset and worked with them. I’ve been a stalwart champion of the two-state solution, which means that we’ve got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security. And I have made that a very key cornerstone of my advocacy I believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special and important. I’ve stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career. And you can trust when I’m the DNC chair that that relationship will continue. We will maintain the bipartisan consensus of U.S. support for Israel if I’m the DNC chair. [YouTube]

INTERVIEW — JI’s Aaron Magid spoke withNORPACNational President Ben Chouakewho spoke out againstattacks on Sen. Bob Menendez for questioningDavid Friedman, while implying concerns around dual loyalty,during theSenate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week.

“Out of all the Democratic Senators, by far, Senator Menendez posed the most generous and friendly questions to Mr. Friedman,” Chouake told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Wednesday. “He was trying to help Mr. Friedman explain himself and give him a lay-up so that he could bat it out of the park. The intention of Senator Menendez was to get reassurance from Mr. Friedman that he could do his job given his passion…Its horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic. I am working with this guy for 20 years. He is the go to person in the Senate. He is the person who spends day and night fighting for us. How do you accuse someone like that of anti-Semitism? The guy took a bullet for us on Iran.”

Chouake on ADL’s deleted tweet criticizing Menendez: “Why did they delete it unless they thought they were wrong. You dont delete stuff that you think is right. The guy asked a question. I dont know if it was perfectly posed or not. His questioning to Mr. Friedman was very friendly. By far the most friendly Democrat on the panel. I think he was trying to help him. You have to look at everything in the context of what it is and the person who was asking. If I asked the same question, would you call me an anti-Semite? So, why are you calling him an anti-Semite?”

OnFriedman as Ambassador to Israel: “I support him because he is committed to the issue and will do a good job. He is also a member of NORPAC. The problem was that he speaks awfully harshly about certain things. He apologized for it and thats good. His heart is great. I like him and know the guy.” Read the entire interview here [Jewish Insider]

DRIVING THIS WEEKEND: Pence, Adelson to meet privately by Theodore Schleifer: …a meeting that cements the Republican billionaire’s place as a key adviser to the new administration. Pence, who is speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition that meets at Adelson’s hotel and casino in Las Vegas, The Venetian, will chat formally with Adelson just before he addresses the entire RJC on Friday evening, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. [CNN]

–We’re told prior to Pence’s remarks at Shabbat dinner, the RJC will be hosting Friday evening prayer services with expected participation from over 150 attendees.

Pence makes stop at Jewish cemetery in Missouri where gravestones were toppled by John Wagner: From the heart, theres no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism, Pence said from the bed of a pickup truck, speaking through a bullhorn at an event organized to clean up the damage. I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri Pence made his unadvertised visit to the cemetery shortly after delivering a speech… on the economy…We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms, he said While at the cemetery on Wednesday, Pence also heard a prayer from a rabbi and joined Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in clearing brush. [WashPost]

— From WH pool report: Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Karen Aroesty spoke to Pence briefly just before he hopped onto the bed of the pickup. She said. “I want to thank you for being here and thank the president for his words. We look forward to doing whatever we can to help. We’re a resource for you if you want. Being here today is important for a lot of people.” “I didn’t want to miss coming,” Pence said As Pence walked away from delivering remarks he greeted people who had come to the cemetery to volunteer. Many thanked him for being there and the message that sent. One woman asked him how the travel ban was any different than the desecration of the cemetery.

WATCH: Marc Daniels, the Kippah Guy, gives Pence a red Trump/Pence yarmulke (minute 03:26) and gets a hug in return [YouTube; Pic]

A bipartisan letter signed by 150 Democratic and Republican House Members, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is running for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, calls on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to take swift action against the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country. We urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken, or will be taken, to deter such threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards, in the event that an individual seeks to act upon these threats, the letter states. This is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades. This is a national problem and, as such, it requires a national solution. the letter notes. [JewishInsider]

“Clearly, the Trump administration has a problem with Jews” by Bernard-Henri Levy: “I had no idea how right I was, a month ago, when I wrote in The New York Times that American Jews should be wary of their new President…At best, Mr. Netanyahu will go down as a very distant relative of Joseph making an alliance with Pharaoh to protect his people.But we know how that story ends: just as a new pharaoh “arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph” and reduced his descendants to slavery, so, sooner or later, a new president will arise over America.Leading, according to the Talmud, to two equally tragic scenarios.Either the newcomer is indeed a new pharaoh and will associate the Jews with the predecessor whose cause and destiny they so recklessly embraced.Or, as the sages say, he is the same pharaoh but has changed sides. Translating this into present-day terms, the unpredictable Mr. Trump becomes another Mr. Trump; he makes a 180-degree perspective shift in his vision of the Jewish world; and he turns against an Israel about which, at bottom, he cares not a whit and which, therefore, has everything to fear, beginning right here and now, from his cynical “pragmatism.”" [CNN] A CNN panel debates the presidents anti-Semitism trump card: His daughter Ivanka [WashPost]

In Israel, Some Wonder Where The Outrage Is Over U.S. Anti-Semitic Acts by Daniel Estrin: Netanyahu’s muted response has drawn criticism, including from Yehuda Bauer, the academic advisor of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum. “He follows President Trump,” Bauer says. “He did not react immediately.” A former adviser to Netanyahu, Dore Gold, says he doesn’t see anything wrong with Netanyahu’s response. “There has been a tendency to politicize this whole issue of anti-Semitism in America,” he says. “Opponents of the Trump administration want to blame it for anti-Semites coming out of the woodwork and attacking Jewish institutions. I think we should all be united in our struggle against anti-Semitism, and not look for a fall guy for what is happening.” [NPR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National Headquarters in New York by Roseanne Colletti: The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible. “It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation. “We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement. [NBC4]

HAPPENING TODAY: Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a roundtable with Jewish Community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 2:00 pm EST followed by a press statement.

“Bill Kristol: Hill Republicans asking if they can survive four years of Trump” by Tim Skoczek:”I think if you talk privately to Republicans on the Hill, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on? Can we survive this for four years?’” Kristol told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” …A well-known proponent of a muscular US foreign policy, Kristol also expressed a deep concern with Trump’s “America first” philosophy, which Kristol said signals America’s withdrawal from an unstable world in need of its leadership. The reassurance Kristol found in some of Trump’s Cabinet appointments, he said, has dissipated as Trump navigates the complexities of foreign diplomacy with a worrying degree of impulsiveness and bombast. “I’ve got to say, this first month has been very unnerving to me and to many, many others,” Kristol said.” [CNN]

TRUMP TEAM: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sees Tax Overhaul by August by Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos: In his first week on the job, Mr. Mnuchin has spoken with around 10 foreign counterparts and other leaders The secretary has been in close contact with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, his former colleague at Goldman Sachs Group Inc… The two men have a close relationship, a Treasury official said. [WSJ]

McMaster May Reorganize Trumps Foreign Policy Team Once Again by Peter Baker: Left uncertain is what, if anything, will happen regarding Stephen K. Bannon, the presidents chief strategist, who has played a major role in shaping foreign policy Since arriving this week, Mr. McMaster has made a point of going door to door through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where most national security aides work, to introduce himself and build relations, current and former officials said. [NYTimes]

Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile by Nahal Toosi: Tillerson is clearly a very talented and able guy, said Eliot Cohen, a former State official… The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days. Meanwhile, several dozen Trump-appointed political staffers have arrived in Foggy Bottom Its like high school, said the State official familiar with Tillersons media request. The Trump people all sit together at the tables at lunch. The State Departments ego has been bruised by how rarely Tillerson has appeared alongside Trump. Sources have told POLITICO that the secretary of state was never consulted when Trump, in an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Tillerson also was on a trip to Europe when Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C., missing an opportunity for an important visual. [Politico] Rex Tillerson: The silent man at the State Department [CBSNews]

Rex Tillerson Is Already Underwater by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: At the moment, however, neither the headlines nor the trend lines look all that good for Tillerson. The secretary of state has options to play a more influential role under these unhappy circumstances, but, frankly, none of them are all that good. Unless his boss empowers him, Tillerson wont have the street cred he needs at home and abroad to emerge as a truly consequential secretary of state. [PoliticoMag]

How Ivanka Trump is rebranding herself as the grown up First Daughter of America” byAnne McElvoy:”An Arabic speaker Egyptian by birth, with a network of top contacts in the Middle East from her days working for the Bush administration [Dina] Powell is, in effect, chief adviser to Ivanka, with a powerful Rolodex of her own across the main parties in Washington. There is speculation that Ivanka is assembling a squad to balance the shoot-from-the-hip ideologists close to her father, to appeal to women who may not be Trump fans but are quietly unconvinced by the liberal feminist arguments against him.” [EveningStandard]Inside Ivanka Trumps Campaign for a $500 Billion Child-Care Plan [Bloomberg]

TRUMP ECHO CHAMBER: How Trumps campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter by Tara Palmeri: “If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” said former communications director Sam Nunberg I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.” A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, Infowars and the Daily Caller to show Trump positive coverage. [Politico]

“Is Trump Worse Than a Liar?” by David Suissa: It’s still possible, of course, that despite all the bullshit, some good can come out. Trump may deter evil regimes, support key allies, negotiate better deals, destroy ISIS and add millions of jobs. If he gets out of the way, some members of his team may score a few policy victories. But let’s be frank — for any initiative that will demand deep and grounded thinking from the man on top, it will be touch and go Trump has brought his bullshit ways into the White House, creating a chaotic reality show that chronicles his alternate reality. As long as he keeps believing in this reality, and getting away with it, all we can expect is that, for better or for worse, the show will go on. [JewishJournal]

KAFE KNESSET –Netanyahu adds another stop to his busy itinerary — by Tal Shalev:Far away from the troubling reality of criminal probes and political hazards, Netanyahu appears to be enjoying the Grand World BB tour. Currently enjoying the summer sun in Sydney, Australia, the PM announced he will be flying to Moscow in two weeks time. He will meet with President Putin to discuss Israel’sconcerns about Syria and Iran. The Russian trip will be the sixth that Netanyahu is taking during February and March. After London, DC, Singapore and Sydney this month, Netanyahu will be spending most of March abroad as well, traveling to Beijing and then back to DC for AIPAC after visiting Moscow. All of the trips have huge strategic and economic significance, but as a senior political figure told Kafe Knesset today, it looks like Netanyahu is really trying not to be here. In the wake of the ongoing criminal investigations and political rivals who are waiting to attack, Netanyahu appears to prefer the smiling photo ops with world leaders. He is diverting the public agenda towards statesmanship, an arena in which he has no visible competition to date. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Trumps settlements policy: “The people working on it are Jason Greenblatt on behalf of Trump and our US ambassador, Ron Dermer. They are both religious Jews. It is impossible to describe either of them as some leftist enemy of Israel We have to reach an understanding and arrangement with the Americans. What people dont realize is that we dont have the option of getting into a quarrel with the Trump administration. We already had eight years of quarrels and conflicts with the Obama administration. That is enough. [Al-Monitor]

Parents of slain Israeli soldier meet US envoy at UN by Danielle Ziri: During their meeting, the Goldin family requested that Ambassador [Nikki] Haley assist in their efforts for the return of the bodies of their son [Hadar] and Sgt. Oron Shaul, also held in Gaza, for burial in Israel A spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said that during the meeting, Ambassador Haley pledged to advocate on behalf of Hadar Goldin and work with Leah and Simcha as well as the Israeli Mission, and other US partners at the UN for the return of Hadar to his family. [JPost]

ON THE HILL: Graham to Introduce Bill Cutting Palestinian Aid by Aaron Magid: The office of Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday that the South Carolina Republican lawmaker would introduce legislation next week to cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority This legislation would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members, according to the Graham press release. [JewishInsider]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff?Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? Wed love to hear from you.Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email**

BUSINESS BRIEFS:Starbucks’ brand perception has plummeted since it announced plan to hire refugees [BI] Wells Fargos independent directors hire Norman Brownstein’s lobbying firm [FT] British Startup Bank Turns to Ivanka Trumps Brother-in-Law [WSJ] Paul Singer is taking the attack on his latest target to the next level [Yahoo]

A legendary deal-maker was asked about the one mistake he made again and again, and his answer was brutal by Frank Chaparro: Henry Kravis is a Wall Street legend. The firm he founded with his cousin George Roberts in 1976, KKR, now manages $130 billion In an interview with Kip McDaniel at Institutional Investor, Kravis was asked to identify a mistake he repeated during his 40 years at KKR. His answer was pretty brutal Here’s what Kravis had to say “We might have been too slow in changing out some CEOs of companies we had, keep thinking that he or she will get a lot better Waiting is a lost opportunity, and we used to wait I think today we move much faster than we ever did.” [BI]

Hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn heading for divorce by Emily Smith: The Greenlight Capital founder, whose stock picks move markets, has separated from Cheryl [Strauss Einhorn], whom he married in 1993 before he made his fortune, now estimated at an impressive $1.55 billion. At stake in the upcoming divorce is their nearly 10,000-square-foot home in Rye, NY, and possibly his rumored vault of gold stashed at a secret location in New York City. The couple is well-known in New York for their philanthropic work. In 2002, they established the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, with the vision of building a more peaceful and harmonious society, according to its Web site. [NYPost]

Robert Kraft talks about his friendship with Donald Trump by Jesse Reed: Speaking about all this with Andrea Kramer on HBOs Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Kraft explained his relationship with Donald Trump. Do I agree with everything he says or espouses? No. But hes a friend, Kraft said. This country is awesome, and whomever is president of the United States, I will try to support. Ive done that since the 1960s. Kraft also talked about how loyal President Trump has been to him, noting the support he was given in 2011 when his wife Myra passed away. He said Trump called him multiple times per week to console him and see how he was doing. [MSN] Robert Kraft to Patriots critics: The haters still hate [FoxSports]

DESSERT: Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish? A Chefs Argentine-Jewish Cuisine by Tejal Rao: Mishiguene (crazy in Yiddish), which sits by a sprawling park in Buenos Aires, was the citys first restaurant to serve traditional Jewish foods in a tasting menu. [Toms] Kalika called it immigrant cuisine In March, he plans to open Fayer, his second restaurant in Buenos Aires. Argentina, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, is his inspiration. At Fayer, he will cook more of what he sees as an emerging Argentine-Jewish cuisine multicultural Jewish influences from across the diaspora, unified by the open-fire grilling and wood smoke that define Argentine cooking Though the restaurant does not serve kosher food, the whirling, joyful mood during Friday dinners is that of an unconventional Shabbat. There is often drinking and dancing and roars of applause. [NYTimes]

Eighteen Caf, in Squirrel Hill, offers a unique menu of memorable kosher food by Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth: Eighteen, a kosher wine bar and sit-down restaurant offers a variety of dishes not traditionally associated with Jewish culture, such as butternut-squash ravioli, pomegranate-glazed salmon and sushi, alongside classic Jewish-deli fare like bagels with lox and Israeli favorites such as hummus and shakshuka. The common thread, aside from being prepared under the supervision of a rabbi, is fish. Aside from eggs, it is the only animal protein on the menu. Eighteens pastrami is made from cured salmon, its reuben is made with smoked beets, and theres even a cheeseburger with a house-made veggie patty. [PittsburghCityPaper]

BIRTHDAYS:Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 67…Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz turns 55…Billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, investor, philanthropist and author, Michael Dell turns 52…Movie, stage and television actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 36…Former director of women’s media at Hillary for America, former deputy press secretary at the Democratic National Committee, Rebecca Chalif turns 31…Bloomberg political reporter (with two years of daily travel covering Hillary Clinton), previously a White House reporter for Politico, was once managing editor of the Daily Princetonian, Jennifer Epstein (h/ts Playbook)…Former intern at the White House Office of Public Engagement, former Hillary Iowa Fellow and Hillary Florida Fellow, now with the Podesta Group in the office of the chairman, Gidon Feen turns 22…CEO at NYC-based Puder PR, after 10 years as director of communications and PR for the Jewish Federations of North America, Joe Berkofsky…Reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin covering state politics and the Texas Legislature, Patrick Svitek…AIPAC alum Reuben A. Engber…Financial consultant and organizer for non-profit organizations, archives and artists, Johnathan Morpurgo…Barak Daon…Lois Copeland…Mark Jacobs…

Gratuity not included. Welovereceivingnews tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips.100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

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Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: February 23, 2017 – Haaretz

Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National …

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The Anti-Defamation League’s national headquarters in New York received a bomb threat Wednesday, and the group says it is working with authorities to determine if it is connected to the rash of threats targeting Jewish community centers across the country in recent months.

The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Greenblatt said while there is nothing to indicate the threat is anything more than that, the group is taking it “very seriously.”

The specific nature of the threat wasn’t immediately clear. Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible.

“It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday. “We will not be deterred and we will not be daunted.”

The threat comes two days after 10 Jewish community centers across the country were evacuated in response to bomb threats.In January, another round of bomb threats targeted 53 Jewish community centers across 26 U.S. states and one Canadian province over a period of three days.

The FBI is involved in the investigation, and the ADL has called on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a coordinated multi-agency probe.

In the wake of the threat to the ADL, Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation.

“We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Make no mistake, we will find these perpetrators and hold them fully accountable.”

President Donald Trump addressed the series of JCC bomb threats for the first time Tuesday, calling them “horrible and painful.” The remarks came amid mounting criticism about his silence.Earlier Tuesday, Hillary Clinton called the series of threats and attacks against Jews and Jewish groups “so troubling” in a tweet that urged Trump to speak out against them.

Trump added that the threats were a”very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Published at 12:27 PM EST on Feb 22, 2017 | Updated at 7:00 PM EST on Feb 22, 2017

Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National …

Anti-Defamation League Responds After Bomb Threat –
Anti-Defamation League Responds After Bomb Threat
MURRAY HILL, NY An official with the Anti-Defamation League joined Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday to announce new steps to combat the uptick in reports of anti-Semitic incidents, just one day after the Jewish nonprofit was itself targeted with an …
Anti-Defamation League Headquarters Receives Bomb
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Anti-Defamation League's New York Headquarters Receives Bomb ThreatHuffington Post
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Anti-Defamation League Responds After Bomb Threat –

Anti-Defamation League Deeply Disturbed Over Additional Bomb Threats Directed at Jewish Community Centers … – eNews Park Forest

New York, NY(ENEWSPF)February 20, 2017 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply disturbed by additional bomb threats directed against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in multiple states across the United States today the fourth series of such threats since the start of the year.

While ADL does not have any information at this time to indicate the presence of any actual bombs at any of the institutions threatened, the threats themselves are alarming, disruptive, and must always been taken seriously.

We are confident that JCCs around the country are taking the necessary security protections, and that law enforcement officials are making their investigation of these threats a high priority, said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law.

In response to the threats, ADL issued a Security Advisory for all Jewish institutions nationwide with action steps including:

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the worlds leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.


Hate Groups Increase for Second Consecutive Year as Trump Electrifies Radical Right

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Anti-Defamation League Deeply Disturbed Over Additional Bomb Threats Directed at Jewish Community Centers … – eNews Park Forest

Undercover investigation: Embracing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial – Arutz Sheva

I have just concluded an in-depth investigation into anti-Semitism inside The Palestine Solidarity Campaign that has spanned months but drew on several years of underlying research. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign(PSC)claims to be the biggest organisation in the UK dedicated to securing Palestinian human rights. The PSCpatronsinclude: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Pat Gaffney, Rev Garth, Ken Loach, Dr Ilan Pappe, Hilary & Steven Rose, Alexi Sayle, Baroness Tonge of Kew, and Betty Hunter. It partners with many of the largest unions in the UK.

The result of this research is an eighty-page report, that focuses on seventeen separate PSC branches across England and Wales, and culminated with an in-depth case study of a mass demonstration in London. The full report can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

In truth, I stopped the detailed analysis at seventeen branches simply because I was inundated with material. Although not mentioned in the report, I also found qualifying material at the PSC branches in Brighton, Faversham, Camden, Haringey, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth & Portsmouth. As the researched progressed, finding more of the anti-Semitism at every branch became an exercise in pointing out the obvious. The question became to how to find a way to measure and quantify it.

If the worst I found was an activist suggesting Israel should be destroyed, is committing genocide and Zionists are all Nazis, that activist *would not* have made the grade for this research. Let that fact sink in. When I refer to anti-Semitism within this study, I avoided *all references to the conflict*. We all know the trick is to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism with a false cry about criticism of Israeli policy. I set out to avoid this. I was only interested in those pushing conspiracy theory, holocaust denial or classic anti-Semitic tropes. The argument that anti-Semitism is about gitimate criticism of Israel simply has no weight against this research. The bar for anti-Semitism that was used is unnaturally high. As an example, if the worst I found was an activist suggesting Israel should be destroyed, is committing genocide and Zionists are all Nazis, that activist *would not*have made the grade for this research. Let that fact sink in.

The anti-Semitism referred to here is *ONLY* hard core anti-Semitism. Examples include: USA controlled by Zionists; Jews responsible for 9/11; the Paris Bataclan massacre was a false flag to increase support for Israel; Ashkenazi Jews are fake; Zionist Jews support ISIS; Jewish Zionists stir up fake anti-Semitism; many varieties of Holocaust Denial; Israel harvests organs from the dead; Israel harvests organs from the living; Mossad wanted to assassinate Obama; the BBC is the Zionist Broadcasting Corporation, Zionist tentacles controlling Parliament; Mossad did 7/7/2005 in London; Kristallnacht instigated by Communist and Freemason Jews to promote War against Germany; Babylonian Talmud advocates sex with child age three; Goyim bloodshed ritual by the Talmudic worshipers [sic] of Moloch, the children holocaust bloodthirsty monster..

It is not hard to find pictures of the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, next to a PSC activist. They metnot once, but at least twice. Once inside a PSC event, the other at a Palestine Return Centre gathering. The man seen in photos standing next to Corbyn posts a constant stream of 9/11 truth, holocaust revisionism and other such vile messages. In UK anti-Israel activism he is a star, he was the central figure (if he is not still running) PSC Reading, is an admin for a major secret online anti-Israel group and just last month, attended the PSC AGM. The thing is, everyone knows about him, including the PSC. PSC have known about him for years. When the PSC permit those like Tony to continue to associate with the organisation, the PSC spit in the face of all Jews and insult all those who seek to fight anti-Semitism.

This a quote from an article Tony Gratrex posted, one of the scores of suchposts:

“The Zionists militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Jewish victimhood. World-conquering Neocon-Zionist belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the victors of World War II. Elite Jews played an important role in bringing about the Second World War as the final phase of their plan to establish the state of Israel. The First World War accomplished several things for the Zionists: it freed up Palestine from Ottoman control (the Ottomans previously rejected Zionist offers to purchase Palestine), it fractured the big empires of Europe who could then be manipulated into future conflicts, and lastly it delivered Russia to the Bolsheviks, a majority of whom were Jewish chauvinists hell-bent on the subjugation of that Christian Empire. With Russia now in the hands of Jewish communist extremists and Palestine falling under British dominion, the Zionist plan for Israel was well on its way.”

But the research is full of such articles. Having successfully found anti-Semitic posts in abundance, I attempted to quantify anti-Semitism (how much of the activity is driven by anti-Semitism). I focused on a single mass demonstration in London, the anti-Netanyahu demo on 6th February. I was honestly shocked by the findings. Fifteen out of the thirty six accessible social media accounts identified, carried Jewish conspiracy style posts. They suggest that the more likely someone is to pick up a Palestinian flag and call for people to boycott the Jewish state, the more likely it is that anti-Semitism is involved. By the time someone is engaged with publicly protesting against Israel outside Downing Street, there is a good chance he is anti-Semitic.

There were many sickening moments during the research and it was emotionally draining to continue with this task day after day, week after week. To clarify, the correlation between activity and Jewish conspiracy was evident throughout the research, it was only at the demo was I able to quantify it. I had already seen numerous examples of people on the street, calling for the boycott of Israel, who believed in global conspiracy theory.

Watch this video post by a BDS action group:

That is Kajsa Anckarstrm. These are some of her posts:

Another of her posts called Charlie Hebdo a Zionist false flag, and the top left post came immediately after the Paris terror attacks onNovember 13th. Now look at the video again. We have someone displaying deeply anti-Semitic attitudes, entering a shop and trying to persuade people to boycott products from the Jewish state. It looks and is horrific.

PSC will no doubt try to distance themselves from the activists in the report. But in some cases it is the Chair of the branch, in others it is someone on the stall in the high street. On too many occasions it is someone clearly connected to the PSC. What they should do is apologise. Apologise to Jews, apologise to their partners, and apologise to some members who have innocently aligned themselves to an organisation riddled with such anti-Semitic hatred.

Tabash Abu Shaimis on the street (far left) here protesting against Israel.

He made many unacceptable posts, but this is a quote from one of the articles he linked to:

It does a disservice to the Palestinians and non-Palestinian victims of Israeli foreign policy to try to divorce the Palestine Question from the broader manifestations of the locus of power which James Petras has referred to as the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC). This ZPC operates at both a global and local level as was indicated on 9/11. As Naomi Klein accurately wrote in the Guardian [the] Likudisation of the world [is] the real legacy of 9/11.

Tapash appears to have been on the PSC stall at the Labour party conference. One inevitably has to conclude thatanti-Semitic conspiracy theory is welcome at the top table of the movement.

Given the research found rabid antisemites, with a long history of Jew hatred, welcomed wherever they go within the PSC family, including into the HQ at the AGM, the PSC clearly only pay lip service to fighting racism within their ranks. They play a game which visibly laughs in the face of anti-Semitism, relying on a tiny minority of Jewish supporters to provide cover for blatant and rabid global conspiracy theory, holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic ideologies.

These findings should have repercussions as it brings into question all support that this group receives. The NUT alliance, the War on Want alliance, the other trade union alliances, the cooperation with elements of the Labour party, all these groups should rethink their policy towards activism that is clearly connected to rabid Jew hatred. The TUC is allied with the PSC, how is this acceptable?

All venues that host these groups and all Patrons of the PSC should surely sever their links. Jeremy Corbyn is a Patron. How is an association with a group that accommodates Holocaust revisionists and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists acceptable to The Leader of the Opposition?

What does this message say about BDS activists? The report shines light on people who apparently subscribe to dark anti-Semitic ideology shouting out in public about boycotting Jewish goods. This is not 1930s Germany; there is no reason to accept such behaviour, regardless of the cause it attempts to hide behind. Download the report. Read it. Digest it. Act on it.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT AT170222_palestine_solidarity_campaign_report

David Collier blogs at Beyond the Great Divide: The Truth Matters.Born in the UK, he spent19 years in Israel between 1987 and 2006, that is between the first Intifada and the 2006 Lebanon war. While in Israel, he started his own business, working on tourism related projects with both Israelis and Palestinians as well as providing services to NGOs. He writes: “As someone who fought Pan- Arabists, pro-Palestinians, staunch Zionists, antisemites and anti-Zionists alike, I found myself a man without many friends.”

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Undercover investigation: Embracing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial – Arutz Sheva

Donald Frey: Truth with a capital T – Winston-Salem Journal

For Christmas, I received a gift of DVD copies of my familys old home movies and video recordings. Thus, I have recently indulged on half-forgotten family memories. Among them was my sons Wake Forest University graduation back on May 15, 2000.

My video captured parts of the Charge to Graduates of 2000, given by the late president of Wake Forest, Thomas K. Hearn. His talk was titled Truth with a Capital T. Hearns words inspired me to find the full text on the internet.

Hearn told of his life-long fascination with the ancient philosophical debate on relativism. Specifically, the debate was whether fundamental truth could ever be known (Socrates side), or whether the way things appear to each person, so they are (the relativists side). Hearn also noted more recent relativists, who argued that truth is culturally and historically conditioned.

Hearn bravely took sides, critiquing relativism and affirming the human minds progressive grasp of truth. He professed unhappiness with contemporary academic relativism, such as Post-modernism, which holds that we cannot know what is, only what appears to be.

Hearns words from years ago seemed to me a way to make sense of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Like relativists, the major candidates reiterated only what appeared to be true to their core supporters. Our politics offered no agreed-upon truth, but only highly divergent and contradictory apparent truths, which appealed to different segments of voters.

And this continues: the new president proclaims any reality he prefers, even when available evidence points the other way. Take a simple example, which does not have any policy implications: our new leader insists that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever, even if overhead photos show otherwise. Somewhere, he suggests, there must be evidence to validate his wish as truth.

Such examples, including ones with ominous policy implications, could be multiplied, but thats not my purpose here.

This new, political relativism differs from the old relativism that Hearn described. The old relativists at least were tolerant. After all, if we are aware that we merely choose our own truth (as were the relativists Hearn cited), then we should be tolerant if others invent their own preferred truths as well. In fact, Hearn faulted the old relativists for being too tolerant of some things.

Unhappily, the new political relativism lacks any tolerance at all. Perhaps that is because our politicians are not like Hearns philosophers and so are unaware of their own relativism. Hearns old relativists admitted that their truth was simply what they preferred to believe. But, to the contrary, todays politicians confuse their preferred believes with objective truths. And the worst combination may be relativists who deny their relativism, fooling themselves they hold real truth but making no effort to discern real truth.

To this end, weve seen political agents promise alternative facts to support what no known facts support. And weve learned (who knew?) of a fake news industry, tolerated or even quoted by politicians to boost their credibility. Meanwhile, opponents views are dismissed as political correctness, or comparable errors.

In power, such leaders will surely misinterpret much of what happens in the real world.

To counteract this troubling thought, let us give Thomas Hearn the final word he ended his talk with optimism. In his address, he recalled the then-recent campus uproar over a local outbreak of Holocaust Revisionism, the denial of the Nazis murderous treatment of Europes Jews. Hearn stated that the campus rose up to demand that truth be honored, and no one stood up for a revisionist rewrite of the Holocaust.

In short, sometimes truth is too clear, or too important, to be dismissed or minimized as someones mere opinion. Hearn concluded that in the face of lived experience, no one is a relativist.

He went on to speak of moral truth affirming that universal human rights are not social inventions, but are divinely given. The upshot of this is that true tolerance and more, positive goodwill toward others is a universal mandate.

I hope that Hearn was correct. He wished that the lesson was learned not for this day only, back in May 2000, but also for other days.

Donald E. Frey is a retired economics professor from Wake Forest University.

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Donald Frey: Truth with a capital T – Winston-Salem Journal

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Hatred of Jews, like hatred of Muslims, is embedded more deeply in the Western consciousness than President Trump seems to understand.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY OLIVIER DOULIERY / GETTY

The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil, President Trump said Tuesday at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C. He was referring, rather obliquely, to a spate of recent bomb scares and acts of vandalism, part of an uptick in hate crimes that has occurred since his arrival on the political scene. Trumps sentiment, however forced, was welcome, given the obtuseness, ambivalence, and even denial that have characterized his past responses to the problem. As a candidate and a President, he has seemed oddly untroubled by the license that anti-Semites derive from the us-against-them motif of his rants. But now, Trump says, the bigotry has to stop, and its going to stop.

Would that it were that simple. Anti-Semitism is not a run-of-the-mill example of hate and prejudice and evil, which is why contempt for Jews keeps showing up as a symptom of social stresseven now, and even in the United States. One neednt posit an eternal anti-Semitism, in Hannah Arendts warning phrase, to know that the imagination of the West has always defined itself positively against the negative other of Jewishness. That was blatantly the case in Germany in the sixteenth century, when Martin Luther characterized Jews as vermin within the German body politic, a pest in the midst of our lands. That belief ultimately came to flower, of course, in the exterminating anti-Semitism of Hitler, who saw the very existence of Jews as a mortal threat to the Thousand-Year Reich. But, as the Holocaust revealed, this fear infected both Nazi ideology and the broader Western consciousness. The crime of genocide may have been enacted by the Nazis, but Jews died as they did because the rest of Europeand America, tooexcluded them from moral concern.

Religious anti-Judaism, which became racial anti-Semitism, began long before Luther, stretching all the way back to the Gospels themselves. It is not just that Jews are labelled as Christs killers in the Passion narratives, but that Jesus is fully portrayed throughout the texts as fiercely opposed to his own Jewish people. (He came unto His own and His own received him not, John 1:11 says.) If Jesus was merciful, Jews were condemning; if Jesus was egalitarian, Jews were hierarchical; if Jesus was generous, Jews were greedy. Soon enough, Christians imagined that Jesus had never really been Jewish to begin with. Never mind that this was a terrible mistake of memory, that he was a faithful, law-observing, Shema-proclaiming Jew to the end, and that, Johns words notwithstanding, the only ones to receive Jesus in his lifetime were Jews. The imagined conflict persisted, and it informed the structure of Christian theologychurch against synagogue, New Testament against Old, Christian god of mercy against Jewish god of judgment. Down through the centuries, this positive-negative bipolarity formed the twin pillars of European consciousness, and, whenever the social equilibrium shook, Jews were targeted. When the targeting reached its genocidal peak, in the twentieth century, the old hatred was exposed once and for all.

Well, not quite for all. The Holocaust was a world-historic epiphany, but not to the Trump Administration, which last month erased the Holocausts most salient feature by deliberately omitting any reference to Jews from the White Houses official statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trumps generalizing in that statementthe victims, survivors, heroeswholly ignored the fact that Hitlers industrialized death machine was created expressly to eliminate one particular people. To neglect that purpose is to restrict responsibility for the broad civilizational crime, with roots in the religious anti-Judaism of the Christian Church, to a small gang of Nazi thugs, as if no one else were guilty. Both the neglecting and the restricting are forms of Holocaust denial.

If it is too much for Trump to grasp anti-Semitism as the bug in the software of the West, it is not likely that he will see how his own Islamophobia comes from the same malicious code. When Christendom launched the Crusades, the holy wars that shaped Europe, in the eleventh century, Jews were the paradigmatic enemy inside (the infidel near at hand), and Muslims became the defining enemy outside (the infidel far away). Little wonder, then, that the First Crusade coincided with some of the earliest German pogroms, known as the Rhineland massacres. Within a few hundred years, the Spanish Inquisition had instituted its blood-purity laws, which lumped Muslims and Jews together in a new category of biological inferiority. In 1492 and 1502, first Jews and then Muslims were declared personae non gratae in Spain, facing forced conversion, expulsion, or death. The invention of racism in Europe, in other words, aligned neatly with the discovery of the New World and the advent of colonialism. Genocide and slavery followed.

Islamophobia is thus, to use the phrase that Edward Said applied to Orientalism, a strange secret sharer of Western anti-Semitism. This hidden alignment was particularly discernible in the ease with which the Cold War, with its ubiquitous, if subliminal, anti-Semitism, morphed into the clash of civilizations, with jihadists replacing Reds as figments of the American nightmare. Trump no doubt regards himself as an American original, but he is only the latest ringmaster of this binary circus. In fact, our temperamental President is bigotrys clich. Even the cult of white supremacy on which his movement depends has its origins, too, in the positive-negative structure of the Western imagination, a structure erected in the first place to keep Jews in their place. It may offend Donald Trump to be linked to an ancient current, but while his arrival, with all its mayhem, is an unprecedented crime against democratic values, it is also evidence of the deeper disorder from which our culture has yet to recover.

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What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker