Sarah Silverman Slams Occupation in Passover Haggadah: ‘Jews Know Bitterness of Oppression’

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HAARETZ:

From Trump to refugees to police brutality – how are this year’s new Haggadahs different from others? In a word: politics.
As millions of Jews gather around their Passover seder tables next week to commemorate the liberation of their forbearers from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, many will be pondering the relevance of this story for modern times.

They need not rack their brains too hard.

From the recent U.S. crackdown on immigrants and refugees, to the soon-to-be-marked 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians, the daily news cycle offers a plethora of oppression-themed topics to draw from at the holiday meal.

To help those seeking to incorporate contemporary political and social issues into their seder-table conversations, several progressive Jewish organizations have recently published updated versions of the Passover Haggadah – the book read at the meal, which relates the story of the ancient Israelite Exodus from Egypt – as well as special supplements and inserts.
Some address big global themes, like refugee rights and hunger, while others make do with purely local matters – police brutality in Chicago being a case in point.
Here are some of the new offerings worthy of mention:
• To mark the 50th year of the Israeli occupation, a new Israel-Diaspora initiative called Save Israel, Stop Occupation has just released “The Jubilee Haggadah,” which features contributions from 30 prominent artists, activists, rabbis and scholars. Among them are Jewish-American comedian Sarah Silverman, Israeli author Amos Oz and Israeli singer Achinoam (“Noa”) Nini. Jessica Montell, who spearheaded the new initiative, says her inspiration was the biblical commandment to return all land to its original owners in the jubilee year.

“It seems natural to link the jubilee mitzvah with the festival of freedom and to use the story told in the Haggadah to help explain why the occupation must end,” she says.

The printing of the English version of “The Jubilee Haggadah” was made possible by the New Israel Fund (known anti-semitic group).
In her comments in the book, Silverman writes: “Of all people, Jews know the bitterness of being oppressed – and not being in our own country. That’s what makes the occupation all so ironic.”
The excerpt from Oz is culled from a column he penned (for the now-defunct Davar newspaper) in August 1967 – two months after the Six-Day War, which marked the beginning of Israel’s occupation, in which he warned: “I have fears about the kinds of seeds we will sow in the near future in the hearts of the occupied. Even more, I have fears about the seeds that will be implanted in the hearts of the occupiers.” Oz was one of the first prominent Israelis to speak out against the occupation.

The introduction to “The Jubilee Haggadah” calls for an immediate end to Israel’s oppressive control over the lives of Palestinians. “Our world was sustained with the justified establishment of the State of Israel, yet this very event compels us to pursue justice for our neighbors as well,” it reads. “The Palestinian people yearn for their own escape from bondage. In the 50th year of Israel’s rule over them we must raise our voices and cry out for freedom.”
• HIAS, the Jewish-American organization that has helped refugees from all over the world for 130 years, has produced a new Haggadah supplement that incorporates the personal stories of some of the thousands of newcomers it has helped resettle in the United States in recent years. The supplement includes a special new introduction to the seder that is meant to be read out loud by the person leading the ceremony.
“As we step into this historical experience, we cannot help but draw to mind the 65 million displaced people and refugees around the world today fleeing violence and persecution, searching for protection,” the suggested text reads. “Like our ancestors, today’s refugees experience displacement, uncertainty, lack of resources, and the complete disruption of their lives.”
HIAS’ new introduction to the Haggadah points a finger at the new Trump administration. “In the United States, in particular, we have experienced a devastating closing of doors to refugees,” it says. Aside from readings, the HIAS supplement also suggests interactive activities and offers a guide for those interested in advocating for refugees.

• Every year, Mazon (the Hebrew word for “food”), a Jewish organization that fights world hunger, proposes a fifth question to add to the traditional Four Questions (“Ma Nishtana”) that appear in the Haggadah and are typically recited by the youngest participant at the seder meal. This fifth question addresses concerns about the new U.S. administration’s proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It reads as follows: “On all other nights we ask, ‘How can I help feed the hungry?’ Tonight we ask, ‘How can we protect the precious safety net that supports those who are hungry?’”
• Bina, a Tel Aviv-based institution that promotes social change and operates several secular yeshivas, has created new downloadable and printable Hebrew Haggadah bookmarks that provide a modern twist on key themes in the traditional seder readings. Each bookmark includes new texts that can be added and interactive activities designed to engage children. One of the bookmarks, which addresses the theme of “For you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” urges Israelis to treat the strangers among them kindly – whether they be migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, converts or immigrants.
“Our sages claimed that feeling alien is part of our DNA as a nation,” it says. “This can be interpreted as an expression of our obligation to always keep an eye on the strangers and the weak in our midst and to come to their assistance.”
• The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a Chicago-based nonprofit that fights anti-Semitism and poverty, this year created an updated version of the classic Haggadah song,“Dayeinu” (“It would have sufficed for us”) that addresses police brutality, a well-known problem in this large Midwestern city. Here’s how it begins: “If Chicago Police officers did not use force 10 times as often against black people as compared to white people – Dayeinu!
“If more than one in six officers was able to articulate the Chicago Police Department’s use of force policy properly – Dayeinu!
“If more than $500 million in Chicago taxpayer money had not had to be spent on lawsuit settlements for police misconduct since 2004 – Dayeinu!”
And here’s how it ends: “All the more so will our cause for gratitude, celebration, praise, relief, and song be manifold when all police protocols are structures to maximize accountability to the public it serves. Helleluyah!”

Is Jewish students’ safe space on Israel threatened by a ‘pro-Israel’ lobby?

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By Paul Miller/JNS.org:

For Molly Horwitz, it’s not the anti-Semitism itself that stings the most. The feeling that some Stanford University Jewish leaders abandoned her in her fight against discrimination is what still brings tears to her eyes.

As Horwitz and a fellow Stanford alum see it, those Jewish leaders were borderline hostile toward mainstream pro-Israel students while fostering warmer relations with the campus arm of J Street, the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby.

If true, the former students’ allegations are not isolated, but indicative of the extent to which J Street’s agenda permeates campus discourse on Israel—including within Hillel, the international organization fostering Jewish life at more than 550 colleges and universities.

The question that started it all

In the spring of 2015, Molly Horwitz, then a junior at Stanford and a candidate for student senate, was publicly questioned by the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) about how her “strong Jewish identity” would affect her vote on an anti-Israel resolution. She was offended and outraged.

Horwitz, who graduated in 2016, claims Stanford Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Serena Eisenberg and then-Director of Jewish Life and Learning Rabbi Daniel Silverstein attempted to thwart efforts to expose campus anti-Semitism, fearing it would drive Jewish students away from the prestigious university. Eisenberg and Silverstein allegedly labeled Horwitz and Miriam Pollock, then president of the pro-Israel student group Cardinal for Israel, as “radicals” and unfit to lead. (Eisenberg said on Facebook March 31 that she will step down from her position at the end of June. She did not disclose why she is leaving Hillel, but noted she is “excited to take a break.”)

After she first became acquainted with Stanford Hillel following the SOCC incident, Horwitz told the Haym Salomon Center that a friend recommended she speak to Eisenberg, who subsequently “advised that we should not talk about what happened because…it would discourage Jewish students from enrolling at Stanford.”

Pollock, who joined Horwitz for that conversation with Eisenberg, echoed that the Hillel director “wanted the controversy to blow over, quietly.”

The climate for Jews at Stanford

According to the campus anti-Semitism watchdog AMCHA Initiative, 22 anti-Semitic incidents have occurred at Stanford since January 2015. This year alone, six incidents involving swastikas appearing on campus have been reported.

Horwitz won the student senate seat. The following spring, she offered a resolution calling on the senate to support Jews against anti-Semitism. Horwitz said a Stanford Hillel staffer told her that “only if J Street got on board with the bill, would [Hillel] support the measure.”

It was not until an uproar over controversial comments by student senator Gabriel Knight that Hillel changed its approach, Horwitz said. Knight opposed the resolution’s language, arguing that the anti-Semitic canard of Jewish control over government, media and finance “theoretically” should not be regarded as anti-Semitism.

After Knight’s remarks, Horwitz said Hillel sent out emails praising the bill. “I was very uncomfortable being manipulated and used by someone who didn’t want to even be associated with the bill in the first place,” she said.

Hillel International provided the Haym Salomon Center with a copy of a letter Hillel distributed in support of the bill. Horwitz stands by her remarks, saying, “Only after me pressuring them and stating that there is a precedent of Hillel’s sponsoring similar bills, did they write the letter.”

J Street’s refusal of pro-Israel collaboration

J Street did sponsor the resolution against anti-Semitism. But Horwitz and Pollock claim the progressive group’s perspective was forced upon Israel advocates on campus.

At the start of the 2015-16 school year, Silverstein “informed me I would not be a good leader because I didn’t have ‘liberal values’” and told all prospective members of Cardinal for Israel that they “would be working with J Street,” Pollock said.

Although she considers J Street “anti-Israel,” Pollock said she “attempted to work with J Street on those few issues where we saw eye to eye.” Yet J Street “was unwilling to work with Cardinal for Israel when given certain reasonable conditions,” she said.

Pollock is referring to a vigil organized by pro-Israel students to remember those killed and injured during the Palestinian “stabbing intifada” against Israelis from September 2015 through the first half of 2016.

Horwitz said Eisenberg declined her invitation to lead the memorial prayer, “telling me that it was not okay for us to leave out the Palestinians who died in those attacks, and it was too right-wing because we hadn’t talked to J Street about co-sponsoring with us.”

When Pollock approached J Street about participating, she said they refused to meet conditions such as “not bringing up or criticizing ‘the occupation’ during the vigil for Israeli victims of terror.”

According to Horwitz, Hillel ultimately funded a vigil paying homage to Palestinians, promoted by students involved with the anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace. Eisenberg made herself available to attend the Cardinal for Israel vigil, but only after another rabbi agreed to lead the service, Horwitz said.

Hillel’s response

The current and former Hillel staffers both dispute the alums’ claims.

“Their allegations are false…the experiences of two individuals are not reflective of the experiences of the majority Jewish community on campus,” said Eisenberg. “Thousands of students of diverse backgrounds and political perspectives have been touched and inspired by Stanford Hillel to strengthen their Jewish identities and connect to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

“If you interview a representative cross-section of Jewish students who were present at Stanford during my time there, they will confirm that the allegations against me are untrue, and that I served the interests of the entire Stanford Jewish student community with diligence and love,” Silverstein said.

Yisroel Quint, an undergraduate senior at Stanford, said that while he “can’t directly dispute” the alums’ claims, Eisenberg “is an excellent, attentive leader. She has always offered and provided any support that I could possibly need at Stanford to be a strong supporter of Israel…I have worked closely with the rabbi against the BDS movement on campus.”

Stanford graduate school student Fabian Schvartzman described Eisenberg as “super helpful,” and expressed gratitude for bringing him and nearly 20 other students to the recent AIPAC policy conference.

J Street on campus: the bigger picture

The challenge J Street poses to mainstream pro-Israel students is not unique to Stanford. The progressive advocacy group and its campus arm tout their participation in the fight against BDS, yet partner on programming with pro-BDS groups.

Hillel, by contrast, states in its Israel guidelines that it will not partner with organizations that “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel.” But when Hillel partners with J Street, what sounds like a firm policy can become a slippery slope.

J Street has hosted Breaking the Silence—an NGO claiming the Israeli military engages in “crimes against humanity” and accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing”—at the Hillel facilities of Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.

“J Street, in our observation—and we’re working on 70 campuses—damages healthy, normal pro-Israel work, especially when the group is closely involved with the Hillel, as it is in some places,” said Andrea Levin, executive director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. “It often obstructs the wider effort to speak out for Israel on the facts and can demoralize pro-Zionist students.”

Looking back and ahead

Horwitz does not consider her experience at Stanford an indictment of Hillel International, the student movement’s parent group, and still holds the organization in high regard. She acknowledges that “each [Hillel] chapter is a reflection of the staff on [that] campus.” Horwitz even applied for multiple post-graduation jobs with Hillel, including one at Stanford, with the hope of changing the climate.

Pollock, however, does not hold back in her criticism.

“I find it very unfortunate that Hillel rabbis and staff behaved in such an unprofessional, unsupportive, anti-Israel fashion,” she said of her time on campus. “I find it extremely unfortunate that I have zero positive experiences at Stanford Hillel to speak of.”

MIDA: Mainstream Media Distorts Reality On Israeli Settlements

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From The Daily Wire:

Even a simple announcement by the Israeli government is used as a platform to bash Israel.

Last week, Israel’s government approved construction of a new settlement in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank). Media outlets CNN, BBC and The New York Times wasted no time publishing stories that distorted the truth, if not outright lying. These mistakes range from offering a false impression of reality to actually getting facts wrong. Such elementary mistakes expose the disconnect between mainstream media outlets and basic truths of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

For example, CNN wrote that this is Israel’s “first new settlement in Palestinian territory in more than 20 years.” The first part of the sentence is misleading and the second part is false. Israel has not built new communities in Judea and Samaria because it has given numerous chances to the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and reach an agreement. The Palestinians continually refused. Instead, the article leads the reader to believe that this is a new policy meant to stifle any chance for a peace agreement.

The second part of the statement asserts that Israel is building in Palestinian territory. This is because CNN incorrectly believes that Israel has no legal rights to the Judea and Samaria. Israel’s legal right to control the Judea and Samaria and build communities there under international law have been affirmed time and again by respected authorities on the subject, including: Professor Eugene Rostow, Professor Julius Stone , Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Professor Avi Bell and more.

BBC wrote that this new settlement is being built after “the largest settlement, Amona, was evacuated by police last month.” Amona, far from being the largest settlement, was probably one of the smallest settlements existing in the Judea and Samaria, comprised of approximately 40 families. Yet the report gave the impression that even the largest settlement in the Judea and Samaria was evacuated, so why not evacuate the entire Judea and Samaria?

The New York Times topped it off by cherry-picking statements to make it look as if Israel was disrespectful of the Trump Administration. The author of the article, Isabel Kershner, who has been accused of anti-Israel bias in the past, wrote that Israel is building settlements despite President Trump’s request “to hold off on settlement activity.” Then she added, “the United States has long considered the settlements an obstacle to peace.” Those two statements are mixing apples with oranges.

The Trump Administration, while suggesting that Israel hold off on settlements for a bit, explicitly said in a press release that they “don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace.” This was a clear departure from past U.S. policy, especially under the Obama Administration, yet Kershner ignored that and preferred to think that Barack Obama is still president.

Kershner also pondered whether Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement was potentially a “provocative move to scuttle any prospect of a revival of peace talks.” She blatantly disregarded the past eight years when Mahmoud Abbas refused to negotiate with the Israelis, and the past 25 years when Palestinian leaders continually refused all peace deals offered to them. More importantly, Kershner ignored the fact that building a new settlement was promised to the residents of Amona before the settlement was evacuated. She should know this; she lives in Israel.

Since the mainstream media continues its anti-Israel bias, here are some important facts to know about the settlements:

• Jordan illegally occupied the Judea and Samaria in 1948, a move strongly condemned by both the Russian and U.S. Ambassadors to the U.N at the time. Except for Great Britain and India, no other country recognized Jordan’s rights to the territory. When Israel conquered the Judea and Samaria in 1967 after Jordan decided to attack Israel at the behest of other Arab leaders, Israel was merely reclaiming the territory that had been granted to them under the British Mandate prior to 1948.
• Under the Mandate for Palestine, Article 25, it is clear that the eastern border of the future Jewish state would be the Jordan River, many years prior to the imaginary “green line,” which has no legal status.
• The majority of the communities in the Judea and Samaria were built on government property, and in the few cases where a mistake was made and a settlement was established on private property, the Israeli government worked to ameliorate the situation by either offering compensation to the owner of the land, or in the extreme case of Amona, the settlement was dismantled.
• According to statistics from January, there are approximately 421,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. While many envision the makeup of the population as religious extremists, in reality the population is comprised of one-third religious Zionists, one-third secular Israelis, and one-third ultra-orthodox Jews.
• Israel has approximately 150 “settlements” in the Judea and Samaria ranging from approximately 100 to 70,000 people. The term “settlements” actually distorts reality, as one imagines three tents on a hilltop. In reality, like any other country in the world, Israeli citizens residing in Judea and Samaria live in areas that could be defined as villages, towns, boroughs and cities. For example, Maale Adumim, called a “settlement” by the media and Arab countries, has a population of approximately 42,000, comparable to the populations of Atlantic City and Fort Lee, New Jersey, and neither of those cities would be mistaken for a “settlement.” Modiin Illit, with a population exceeding 65,000, is comparable to the population of Palo Alto, California. Givaat Zeev, with a population exceeding 25,000, is slightly less than the population of Monterey, California, which would never be mistaken for a “settlement” or an “outpost.”
• The reasons for living in Judea and Samaria are varied. Some people live there because of ideological reasons, others live there for the countryside atmosphere, and some live there because housing is inexpensive and in close proximity to major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For example, more than 150,000 residents living in Judea are within a 15-minute drive of Jerusalem; just as some people choose to live in Hoboken, New Jersey, so they can be close to New York City without paying Manhattan prices.
• Judea and Samaria is home to one of Israel’s eight universities – Ariel University. There are approximately 15,000 students (Jewish and Arab) that attend the University, comparable to the size of Duke University in North Carolina.
• There are approximately 11,000 Arabs who work in over 800 factories spanning 14 industrial parks in industry and agriculture throughout Israeli-controlled parts of the Judea and Samaria. Salaries of Arabs working in these factories are more than double the average salary of Palestinians working in the Palestinian-controlled areas, and according to a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court, they are entitled to pension benefits just as Israelis are.
• The Palestinians have benefited tremendously since Israel took over the Judea and Samaria in 1967. From 1967 until the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinian life expectancy increased from 56 to 68 years and infant mortality dropped from 13 to five deaths for every 1000 infants. Israel’s presence in the Judea and Samaria led to a massive overhaul of the infrastructure bringing electricity, sewage and increased water supply to Arab towns.
• Israeli companies with factories in the Judea and Samaria have been targeted by the BDS movement, even though Arab workers are the ones who suffer most from these boycotts. Sodastream was targeted by the BDS because of their Judea and Samaria factory, and eventually it moved its factory outside the Judea and Samaria. As a result, almost 600 Palestinian workers were laid off.
• Judea and Samaria attract approximately one million visitors each year, and over than 80 percent of the events in the Bible happened in these areas.

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“Anti-Semitism on the rise” says The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)

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From Red Alert Politics:

For too long, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel spread like cancer on college campuses across the country without much resistance from those in the academic community — until now.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a national higher education reform group, released a new report on Thursday that exposes how the international political movement to pressure universities to end economic and cultural exchange with the state of Israel is eroding free speech and academic freedom on campus.

The report, entitled “Campus Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the Problem of the BDS Movement,” examines “the threat to academic freedom, civic discourse, and free speech posed by the BDS movement and other related initiatives that seek to squelch free expression,” while remaining “firmly neutral on such questions as the two-state solution or the settlements.”

It also outlines the steps trustees can take “to protect academic freedom and individual rights, safeguard their institutional neutrality and create a strong campus culture with diverse viewpoints.”

ACTA condemns the BDS movement as overtly anti-Semitic, using the definition provided by the U.S. State Department. The report sheds light on the all-too-familiar instance of Jewish students being accused of bias in the face of BDS, and details several instances of violence and racism that Jewish students have endured on affected campuses:

At Temple University, individuals at a SJP information table punched and knocked down a Jewish student, calling him a “baby-killer,” “racist,” and “Zionist pig”
Graffiti at UC−Berkeley stating “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber”
Graffiti at San Diego State University with the message, “SDSU Divest so we can get rid of the Jews”

BDS creates a toxic environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students on the same campuses that pride themselves on the principles of tolerance, diversity and mutual respect. The BDS debate fuels Jew-hate and offers a powerful outlet for anti-Semitism. It provides an opportunity for anti-Semitic student groups to “play the victim” and silence their Jewish peers.

Moreover, as the report explains, the entire movement is counterproductive to the academic interests of a university. BDS is depriving students of the incredible exchange opportunities that Israeli universities provide — opportunities that could pave the way for new discoveries in the fields of science, engineering and medicine and ultimately make the world a better place.

Most importantly, the report urges university decision-makers to be proactive in combatting BDS, and reminds them that their institution depends on them to “ensure that robust policies are in place to protect the core values of [their] school.”

University leaders face incredible pressure from a small, but loud group of faculty and students every time BDS becomes an issue, and many cower under the pressure to appease this small minority. ACTA found that, in the 2014–2015 academic year, “at least 19 resolutions or referendums were considered on college campuses,” and “a majority voted in favor of BDS in 12 of these instances.”
Unsurprisingly, hearings are frequently scheduled to prevent Orthodox Jewish students from attending. At the University of Indianapolis, for instance, a BDS resolution was presented to the student senate at two separate meetings, both on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath). When Jewish students objected, university officials suggested that they participate by video conference. This would of course require electricity, which many observers don’t use on the Sabbath. Portland State University likewise took up the issue the day before Yom Kippur and passed it on the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret. BDS supporters have become increasingly savvy at silencing the opposition through these devious tactics.

Too many university leaders have lost the argument and surrendered their campus to a small, anti-Israel minority in the name of political correctness. This report is a booming wake-up call for those campuses who have turned their backs on Israel, and an important tool for university presidents and trustees who still want to stand against the anti-Semitic vitriol on their campus.

 

Revealed: Head of Catholic University’s Student Government Tweeted That Jews Will ‘Get What’s Coming’ to Them

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From Algemeiner:

The president of a Minnesota school’s undergraduate student government (USG) once tweeted, “yahood [Jews] will get what coming for them [sic],” a covert campus watchdog group revealed.

Mayzer Muhammad of St. Paul’s University of St. Thomas has a history of antisemitic rhetoric on social media stretching back to 2014, Canary Mission found, including calling supporters of Israel “the scum of the earth,” referring to Israel as a “racist apartheid state” and claiming the country is “murdering innocent people every day.”

Muhammad was previously the president of the campus chapter of the Muslim Student Association.

Muhammad’s last public comments about Israel, identified by The Algemeiner, date back to the month before he won his uncontested bid for USG in April 2016. At the time, he reposted a video from AJ+ — an online media channel run by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network — in which a voice alleged to be that of an “Israeli border officer” is heard yelling in Arabic, “We are the occupation army” and threatening to kill “the children, the youth, the old people.” Muhammad said the video depicted “[t]he reality of what goes on in Palestine.”

“People and their families getting threatened by getting gassed to death to leave their homes,” he added. “The US needs to stop supporting a country that allows this to happen with no real repercussions to the offenders.”

Neither Muhammad nor representatives at St. Thomas immediately responded to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.

 

IVANKA TRUMP, WHITE HOUSE CONDEMN BOMB THREATS TARGETING JEWISH CENTERS

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On Monday, the JCC Association of North America said that since Jan. 9 there have been 69 bomb threat incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province. All were hoaxes.

The White House responded to a reporter’s query about the latest string of bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers by saying “these actions are unacceptable.”

“Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom,” reads a statement, attributed to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, that was shared Monday afternoon by NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander. “The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”

The statement did not specify that the threats targeted Jewish institutions, although it came in reply to a query about threats to JCCs.

Alexander posted Spicer’s response on Twitter, adding, “@PressSec responds to my request for comment about wave of threats to Jewish community centers.”

Separately, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who is Jewish, condemned the threats in a Tweet that pointed to the fact that the targets were Jewish.

“America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance,” she said. “We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers.” She ended the tweet with the hashtagged acronym for Jewish community center, “#JCC”.

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Earlier in the day, 11 Jewish community centers across the United States were targeted with false bomb threats, the fourth such wave of harassing phone calls in five weeks.

Last week, President Donald Trump was asked during a news conference about the prior JCC bomb threats and what the government’s response would be to “an uptick in anti-Semitism.” Although the reporter did not suggest Trump was anti-Semitic, the president answered by denying he is an anti-Semite and called the question “insulting.”

Shortly after, various Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, urged the White House to issue an unequivocal denunciation of the bomb threats and other anti-Semitic acts.

Earlier Monday, in a statement saying the latest bomb threats are “alarming, disruptive, and must always been taken seriously,” the ADL called on unnamed “political leaders” to condemn them.

“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,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said in the statement.

Also on Monday, the JCC Association of North America said that since Jan. 9 there have been 69 bomb threat incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province. All were hoaxes.

“Our centers have in place security protocols to ensure the safety of the program participants and facility visitors,” said David Posner, director of strategic performance at the JCC Association, in a statement. “All JCCs have now received the all-clear from local law enforcement and resumed regular operations, with a heightened level of security.”

Original Article: The Jerusalem Post

Marco Rubio DESTROYS J Street

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Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held confirmation hearings for David Friedman, President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Israel. Friedman received considerable opposition from liberal Jewish organizations for his comments on the “two-state solution” and organizations like J Street. These organizations started a vicious campaign calling on US Senators to reject his confirmation, claiming that he is unfit for the role.

Enter Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio opened his first round of questions to Friedman by referring to the confirmation process as “unreal” due to the amount of scrutiny Friedman is facing for prior statements. He then directed his attention to J Street.

Let me begin by saying I find this whole process to be unreal. This sort of ordeal you’re being put through to account for all the words, in particular given some of the groups that have been ratcheting all this up. This group J Street, that, for example, a few years ago invited the chief Palestinian negotiator Erekat to address their conference, a person who has justified the murder of Jews as self-defense, as a person as they invited to speak at the conference.

Rubio is absolutely correct. J Street, a Soros-funded anti-Israel group masquerading as the home for “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” invited Erekat to their 2015 conference. Not long after attending their conference, Erekat called on the Palestinian Authority to support lone-wolf Palestinian-Arab terrorist attacks against Jews, called for rejecting a future Jewish state, and called for cooperating with genocidal terrorist organizations like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Rubio continued to target J Street:

This is a group who has routinely attacked people who hold my views, with content that I find to be a smear and a mischaracterization of our views.

This is also correct. J Street’s Alan Elsner attacked Rubio during his candidacy for the Republican nomination last year, saying that Rubio could not be taken seriously as a potential Commander-in-Chief for wanting to “casually erode and eventually overthrow almost five decades of US bipartisan policy opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.” In the same article, Elsner justified a comparison between Rubio and the BDS movement, claiming that Rubio’s policy positions “leave no room for a political stance of supporting Israel while opposing settlement and occupation.”

J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami once referred to the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish Federations, and the Jewish Community Relations Council as a “multi-headed hydra” that needed to be cut down to make room for J Street’s radical, anti-Israel views.

J Street has a long history of anti-Israel polemics. Following the savage murder of two Israeli parents nearly two years ago, J Street wrote a statement insinuating that Jews living in Judea and Samaria were the reason for Palestinian-Arabs murdering them in cold blood. The organization was also an outspoken supporter of the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, which gave the world’s leading sponsor of terror $150 billion dollars as a reward for not continuing their nuclear proliferation for ten years.

Original Article: The Daily Wire

U.K. and Ireland: Israel boycotts blocked at two universities

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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns were blocked at London’s City University and in Ulster, Northern Ireland

Jewish students seeking to defend Israel against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign had reason to cheer this week, after BDS motions were defeated in two universities.

In the capital, a BDS bid was pulled at City University Student Union, after the Board of Trustees rejected it. A motion had initially passed in November, but Trustees over-rode it last month, arguing that it ran counter to the Student Union’s constitution. The proposer’s subsequent amendments – only made public on Sunday – were again rejected, and the motion was withdrawn with no debate.

“I’m proud that Jewish students and our allies came together to vote against the motion, ensuring by their sheer number that the vote did not go ahead,” said Michali Belovski, president of City’s Jewish Society.

“We also very much appreciate certain other [non-Jewish] students at City who have showed their support in various ways, including taking time out of their busy schedules to vote and spend time understanding our perspective.

“We are delighted that City students are not interested in this divisive campaign. The message is clear: all students are welcome at City.”

Separately, a BDS motion tabled at Ulster University Students Union last Thursday was defeated, with new policies on anti-Semitism and Holocaust memorial passing instead.

Original Article: Jewish News

PJTN IN THE NEWS: Evangelicals are ready to speak for Israel in Trump’s Washington

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TEL AVIV (JTA) – Evangelicals, who have been advocating for Israel for years, have historically let the Jews take the lead.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, for one, is excited that they are poised to take on a prominent role. An evangelical TV host and activist, Cardoza-Moore backs President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a supporter of the settlement movement who is deeply skeptical of the two-state solution.

And she is confident Trump will make good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

“I am excited to see this development. It further illustrates the commitment of this [incoming] administration,” she recently told a Christian news service. “And God willing, Friedman will be the one who helps orchestrate that transition.”

Cardoza-Moore was in Israel last week filming a new episode of “Focus on Israel,” which is widely syndicated on Christian television. In an interview at a Tel Aviv café last week, she said in over 15 years of pro-Israel work as the president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, she has seen evangelicals rally to the cause.

“After the 9/11 attacks, a lot of Christians were ready to hear our message,” she said. “Having read the Bible, they felt we were under a curse and the way to change that curse was to make sure we supported Israel. I always knew if we could get the information to the Christians, they would respond and they would stand up.”

But while that support is undeniable and certainly welcomed by a Jewish state that could use all the friends it can get, it still discomfits many in the pro-Israel camp, especially liberals. They worry evangelicals’ Bible-based views are too right wing, both on social issues as well as Israel affairs.

“There’s a real danger because most evangelicals are very hawkish and hard-line on Israel,” said Dov Waxman, a political scientist at Northeastern University who studies American Jews and Israel. “The more they get involved, that risks alienating more liberal Jews from pro-Israel advocacy and from Israel.”

Cardoza-Moore’s commitment to Israel is unquestioned, and often indistinguishable from what mainstream Jewish groups might take on. In 2013, she gained national attention with a campaign against a geography textbook being used in her Tennessee school district that asked students to consider whether a Palestinian suicide bomber who kills “several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant” is acting as a terrorist or as a soldier fighting a war.

Cardoza-Moore spoke at school board meetings, gathered hundreds of signatures and appeared on Fox News to advocate against using the book. The local Jewish federation took her side. In the end, the school board concluded the book was not biased, but the publisher removed the offending line from electronic and future print editions.

Perhaps Cardoza-Moore’s biggest victory came in 2015, when at her urging, the Tennessee legislature passed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, the first of its kind in the nation. Although the resolution took no action against BDS, it labeled the movement “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state.”

Since then, Cardoza-Moore has pushed for similar resolutions in other states. Ten states have now passed them, and three more are considering doing so. Governors in 15 states have signed laws that prevent the boycott of Israel.

It likely helps that the Republican Party in recent years has been dominant in state politics. The GOP has increasingly become the pro-Israel party. Evangelicals, who make up more than a quarter of the American population and overwhelmingly vote Republican, have shaped the party’s identity on Israel in many ways.

“If we look at why the Republicans tend to take pro-Israel positions, I think a major reason for that is evangelical Christians,” Waxman said. “In red-state America, it’s the views of evangelicals that really matter when it comes to Israel.”

And with Trump’s victory, red-state America is in control of the executive branch. Christians United for Israel, or CUFI, has been ramping up its activities in Washington, D.C. The Israel lobby claims 3.3 million mostly evangelical members. By contrast, the mostly Jewish AIPAC has approximately 100,000, though it is more experienced and better funded.

After long deferring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, CUFI founder and board member David Brog said his group planned to get “a little more aggressive” in pushing its policies in the Trump era, when it has clout and connections, including to evangelical Vice President Mike Pence.

“At a time when we have a Republican in the White House and Republicans control the House and Senate, we see CUFI as able to play a leading role in speaking to governing majorities that know they owe their election in large part to our base,” he said.

Brog described CUFI as “within the mainstream” and respectful of AIPAC’s history of bipartisanship. But he acknowledged that CUFI’s members tend to be “right of center” and “skeptical of the two-state solution.” The group, he said, would not necessarily sit out debates or avoid criticizing ideological opponents in an effort to keep them in the pro-Israel camp.

“We need to draw clear lines and be clear about where we stand,” he said. “That does not necessarily damage bipartisanship. Drawing clear lines may help define what it means to be pro-Israel.”

As Bloomberg’s Eli Lake pointed out, CUFI has not taken a position on the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which AIPAC officially supports, and has backed legislation to defund the Palestinian Authority, which AIPAC has not. CUFI has also thrown its weight behind Trump’s pro-settlement pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Some Jewish observers have suggested that growing evangelical involvement in Israel advocacy could turn Israel into a right-wing Republican issue. Aside from concerns about the implications for Israel, they say, that could make it less attractive to more liberal Jews, who already are drifting away from the community and are increasingly critical of Israel’s policies.

“It’s like a brand. If Israel is associated with right wing and ‘reactionary’ forces, then it’s going to be a turnoff to younger American Jews,” Waxman said. “It may be superficial, but we’re talking about public perceptions.”

Brog, who is Jewish, argued Israel and its supporters could not afford to apply a “religious test” on the issue.

“I got involved in Christian advocacy because I can count,” he said. “If the pro-Israel community is limited to the Jewish community, it’s too small. The reason the American government is pro-Israel is because the American people are profoundly and overwhelmingly pro-Israel. But we can’t take that for granted.”

A senior official at a dovish Israel advocacy group said he thought American Jews and Israel would ultimately define their own relationship, regardless of who else was in the picture.

“I’d be foolish to say evangelical Christians don’t have an effect. But I don’t really care what they say,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. “At the end of the day, it’s a homeland for the Jewish people. So it’s how we choose to express our love for Israel that really matters.”

Original Article: Jewish Telegraph Service

J Street seeks to block Friedman’s appointment as ambassador

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Left-wing org lobbies Senate to reject Friedman’s nomination as Ambassador to Israel, ‘accuses’ him of being friend of settlement movement.

J Street has begun a campaign to have the US Senate reject the nomination of David Friedman as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on Friedman’s appointment by U.S. President Donald Trump this coming Thursday. As J Street says in its anti-Friedman campaign, “Friedman is a friend of the settlement movement who backs unlimited settlement expansion” in Judea and Samaria.

J Street, which states that it is a pro-Israel organization, has circulated a sample letter among its members that it recommends be sent to their Senators. The members are asked to “strongly urge” their Senators to “reject Donald Trump’s choice to be the next US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.”

J Street states that Mr. Friedman is “hostile” to the two-state solution, which it terms the “only way to ensure Israel’s future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.”

In fact, however, many politicians and thinkers on both sides of the Israeli spectrum have declared the two-state plan unworkable. Author A. B. Yehoshua, considered an “intellectual giant” of Israel’s left-wing, recently said, “I have believed in dividing the land for 50 years, and now I see that it cannot happen. 450,000 Jews in Area A [Judea and Samaria] can simply not be uprooted. Can Jerusalem ever be divided, realistically? We have to start thinking differently.”

J Street further accused Friedman of being a “friend of the settlement movement,” and even of having “made the case for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.” Being a “friend of the settlement movement” is apparently a crime in J Street’s book.

Friedman supports the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, and has said that he looks forward to working for peace in the Middle East “from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem” – even before an official relocation of the embassy takes place.

J Street explains that it does not support BDS unconditionally, but does not oppose initiatives to boycott, divest from, or impose sanctions on Israel if these aid the progress towards a two-state solution, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and focus only on “occupied territory” beyond the Green Line.

Original Article: Arutz Sheva

Israel permanently downgrades its ties to New Zealand, Senegal

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Punishing countries that co-sponsored UN’s anti-settlements resolution, PM decides not to return ambassadors to Wellington and Dakar.

Israel is permanently downgrading its diplomatic ties with New Zealand and Senegal, punishing these countries for co-sponsoring an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations Security Council last year, The Times of Israel has learned.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided this week not to return Israel’s ambassadors to Wellington and Dakar, who had been recalled after Resolution 2334 passed on December 23, according to a senior source intimately familiar with the issue.

Until the resolution passed, Israel had resident ambassadors in both countries. Netanyahu’s decision not to send the envoys back to Senegal and Wellington is not a formal demoting of ties, but with only a charge d’affaires remaining in these capitals from now on, and no resident ambassador, bilateral relations will effectively have been downgraded.

Israel has already cancelled its foreign aid programs in Senegal.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a query on the matter. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said in a statement there is “no decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with Senegal and New Zealand.”

New Zealand and Senegal were two of four co-sponsors of the contentious resolution, which declared that Israel’s policy to build settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Jerusalem has no diplomatic ties with the resolution’s other two co-sponsors, Malaysia and Venezuela.

Egypt originally proposed the resolution in late December, but withdrew the draft after Israel asked incoming US president Donald Trump to exert pressure on Cairo. New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia, however, picked up the gauntlet and proposed the resolution the next day. It was passed with 14 yes votes and an American abstention.

Israel reacted furiously, denouncing the text as “shameful” and vowing to punish the states that backed it.

In the immediate aftermath of the resolution’s passing, Netanyahu summoned a dozen ambassadors for dressing-downs, canceled foreign aid to Senegal and Angola, disinvited the Ukrainian prime minister, and declined meetings with the leaders of China and Great Britain. He also instructed his ministers to curtail travel to the countries that voted in favor of the resolution, announced a “reassessment of all of our contacts with the UN,” ordered funding cuts to various UN agencies, and vowed that “there’s more to come.”

But in the following days, Netanyahu’s wrath seemed to calm, as he took steps to restore ties with those countries that voted in favor but did not volunteer to co-sponsor the resolution.

Last week, for instance, he had a friendly telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and promised to resume efforts “to further strengthen the friendship between Israel and Ukraine,” a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office read.

Among other things, Netanyahu and Poroshenko discussed rescheduling the cancelled visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Israel, who had been disinvited unceremoniously in late December because of the Ukrainian support for the UN resolution.

Earlier this week, furthermore, Netanyahu met UK Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. Britain also voted in favor of Resolution 2334, though May subsequently went out of her way to say the settlements were not the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Britain defied international efforts to further pressure Israel.

In London, Netanyahu said the UK’s change in attitude was the result of a letter he sent to the leaders of all 14 countries that backed the Security Council resolution.

Original Article: Times Of Israel

Holocaust denial leaflets distributed on UK campuses

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Students “shocked” after Holocaust denial leaflets are found at British campuses including UCL and Cambridge University.

Students have expressed shock at “deeply concerning” Holocaust denial leaflets that have appeared at British university campuses.

Literature denying and belittling the Nazi genocide has been found at University College London, Cambridge University, Edinburgh University and Glasgow University, according to the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

The leaflets deny the existence of gas chambers. One, entitled ‘Who’s telling us our story?’, cites the film ‘Denial’, which dramatises the trial from 2000 in which Holocaust denier David Irving took historian Deborah Lipstadt to court for libel.

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The poster says: “A Hollywood film, just released in UK cinemas, would have us believe that a court case in 2000 proved the official version of the Holocaust. One of the litigants of that trial, British historian David Irving, had claimed that key elements of the official version are demonstrably false and want revision.”

Another leaflet was found at Glasgow University, which entitled ‘The greatest swindle of all time.’ It quotes anti-Zionist professor Norman Finkelstein, author of ‘the Holocaust Industry’, whose parents both survived the Shoah. It refers to his work, before stating: “For the facts, gentlemen, not the Hollywood production…” and is followed by a website address and the hashtag #Holohoax.

UJS said: “The safety of Jewish students remains our highest priority; these incidents are deeply concerning and we continue to work closely with the CST (Community Security Trust) and the respective Jewish Societies to ensure the welfare and safety of all Jewish students.)

According to UJS, there have been variants of similar literature, some of which have been distributed “quite widely”.

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:“That in 2017, anyone would deliberately deny, denigrate or belittle the historical facts of the Holocaust, particularly on a university campus, is absolutely disgusting. This literature is highly offensive and the intent is clear – to belittle and undermine the tragic murder of 6 million people, just because they were Jews – antisemitism pure and simple. I hope the Universities in question realise how serious this is and find out who is behind this as an urgent priority.”

Original Article: Jewish News