Daily Briefing: Wednesday’s “News of the Week In Review”(August 14, 2019)

A missile from the Israeli Iron Dome, launched during the Operation Pillar of Defense to intercept a missile coming from the Gaza strip. (Source: Wikipedia)


“Mr. Obama … is barred by the U.S. Constitution from a third term. But the biggest surprise of the young 2020 presidential campaign is that the record and the legacy of the 44th president … increasingly is becoming an issue among his fellow party members. Suddenly, once-settled questions about Mr. Obama are unsettling the Democratic presidential field: Did he compromise too much on health care? Did he deport too many immigrants? Was the first black president too much of an insider? Was he too moderate, too much a captive of conventional politics, too reluctant to challenge the totems and taboos of establishment Washington? … With Joe Biden running as the natural legatee of the Obama years, criticism of the front-runner has taken the form of questioning his loyalty to Obama policies that, in the view of left-leaning contenders, didn’t go far enough.” – Columnist David Shribman observed after watching the Democratic Party’s candidates’ debate.  (Globe and Mail, Aug. 5, 2019)

“Mr. Will … insists that America’s Founders, following Locke and Hobbes, sidestepped God for the sake of political cohesion. He is broadly right about the founding —most, though not all, of America’s Founders, were deists, and all sought a way to avoid sectarian warring. But Mr. Will’s conclusion, that an outlook bereft of God lends itself easily to a conservative sensibility, leaves me unconvinced. No form of conservatism can thrive long without recourse to a morality stemming from outside the sphere of nature and experience. If a man came from the unknown mists and writes his own moral rules, he can be counted on to ignore whatever limits we may tell him to circumscribe his nature.” — Columnist Barton Swaim wrote in his review of Conservative commentator George F. Will’s book “The Conservative Sensibility.”  (WSJ Aug. 2, 2019)

“From the perspective of 1994, the crime bill was indisputably the right call. The country was experiencing an unparalleled and prolonged crime wave. The violent crime rate in 1990 was roughly four times the rate in 1960. To put this in human terms, more than 540,000 Americans were murdered between 1970 and 1995—more than died in World Wars I and II combined.” – columnist Harry Latzer writes.  He responded to an attack made on former VP Joe Biden by presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker during the Democratic Party debate.  Sen Booker accused VP Biden of having “destroyed communities like mine” because of his “tough on crime” rhetoric. “How do we judge policy decisions made in the past?” Latzer asks. (WSJ, Aug. 5, 2019)

“The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is deeply troubling—not only for its shocking omission of any mention of Jewish Americans or anti-Semitism or its blatant anti-Israel bias and praise of BDS, but for its clear attempt to politically indoctrinate students to adopt the view that Israel and its Jewish supporters are part of ‘interlocking systems of oppression and privilege’ that must be fought with ‘direct action’ and ‘resistance,’ ” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of the California-based AMCHA Initiative said.  She was commenting on a new ethnic-studies curriculum for high schools proposed by the California Department of Education that is widely condemned by pro-Israel and Jewish groups, California lawmakers and activists for its “blatant bias against Israel.” (JNS, Aug. 2, 2019)

“UNRWA’s expensive international cadre, including lobbyists in Washington and Geneva, should be disbanded. And Palestinian residents of Arab states—all of whom are considered refugees by UNRWA —should become citizens of those states, as they are in Jordan, or of the Palestinian Authority. … UNRWA is a broken model and as this WSJ op-ed states, the recent report of corruption “. . . represents a new low for UNRWA and an indictment of the idea of an international agency dedicated to a single interest.” — Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky, senior nonresident scholars at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, wrote in an op-ed titled “The U.N. Agency for Palestinians Is Even Worse Than You Imagine.” They responded to a leaked, UNWRA ethics report that alleged sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation against whistleblowers and lots of business-class travel taking place within the organization. (WSJ, Aug. 6, 2019)

“The clock is ticking,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter, together with an image of a clock counting down. “Time remaining before the UN arms embargo on Iran expires and [IRGC Quds Force commander] Qasem Soleimani’s travel ban ends. We urge our allies and partners to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime until it stops its destabilizing behavior.”  (Algemeiner, Aug. 13, 2019)

  SHORT TAKESALLEGED 9/11 MASTERMIND OPEN TO HELPING VICTIMS’ LAWSUIT IF U.S. SPARES HIM DEATH PENALTY (Guantanamo Bay) — Alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has opened the door to helping victims of the terrorist attacks in their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia if the U.S. government spares him the death penalty, according to court documents. Mohammed’s offer was disclosed in a Friday filing in the victims’ federal lawsuit in New York, which accuses the Saudi government of helping coordinate the 2001 suicide attacks. (WSJ, July 29, 2019)

J STREETERS DUPED ON ALTERNATIVE TOUR OF ISRAEL(Hebron) – As an alternative to the traditional Birthright tour, the non-profit Israel advocacy group J Street recently sponsored a trip to Israel for 28 participants who visited Palestinian sites in the West Bank and heard from spokesmen for the Palestinian cause.  A highlight of their tour was a visit to Shuhada Street in Hebron, which was once a thriving marketplace and is now a ghost town. This visit was designed to underscore alleged Israeli apartheid and the cruelty of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.  What the visitors weren’t shown was the new, thriving Arab commercial district that exists less than a mile away, and which is surrounded by almost 200,000 Palestinians (and no Jews, who are forbidden to enter this Palestinian-controlled area). (Algemeiner, Aug. 5, 2019)

NO VEGANWASHING ISRAELI CRIMES!:  A PANEL, HELD AT OISE, DISCUSSED “THE USE OF VEGANISM TO PROPAGANDIZE THE OCCUPATION (Toronto) – On Aug. 8, anti-Israel advocates gathered at the University of Toronto to respond to what they see as the weaponization of veganism and other progressive social movements established to whitewash “Israel’s occupation and violent expansionist agenda.”  The panel discussed “the recent history of “veganwashing” and the need for a comprehensive response from the animal liberation movement and BDS organizers.” (Centre for Social Justice, Aug. 8, 2019)

CANADIAN JOURNAL APOLOGIZES FOR PUBLISHING ANTISEMITIC CARTOON (Calgary) — The Edmonton Journal apologized for the printing of an antisemitic cartoon earlier this month. The cartoon, drawn by Malcolm Mayes, depicted a Jewish-looking man with a large nose seated beside a laptop with the words “data hacker” written on it while sitting within a Capital One credit card inside a wallet. It was drawn and published in connection with the recent Capital One bank hacking incident. However, the hacker is allegedly a non-Jewish young woman. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 12, 2019)
FLANDERS JEWISH GROUP TO FILE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AGAINST JOURNALIST FOR ‘RABID’ ANTI-SEMITIC COLUMN(Flanders) — The Forum of Jewish Organization says it will file a criminal crimes complaint with police against journalist Dimitri Verhulst after one of Belgium’s most important newspapers, De Morgen, published a column he wrote viciously attacking Jews. Condemning the column as “rabid antisemitism,” the FJO provided several examples of the writer’s rage against Jews. One such example was Verhulst’s contention that the State of Israel was guilty of “murdering” 10,000 Palestinians over the past 17 years.  He wrote, “The Jews act harshly against the Palestinians because they call themselves ‘chosen by God.”  (Jewish Press, Aug. 7, 2019)
ISRAEL PARTICIPATING IN US-LED MARITIME SECURITY MISSION IN GULF (Strait of Hormuz) — Speaking at a closed-door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel is assisting the mission with intelligence and in other, unspecified areas in which Israel has a relative advantage.  (Jewish Press, Aug. 6, 2019)

IRAN WARNS THAT AN ISRAELI PRESENCE IN THE PERSIAN GULF COULD RESULT IN WAR (Tehran) — Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Iran considers an Israeli presence in the Persian Gulf a blatant threat to Iran,  and that fighting Israel. under those circumstances, would be within Iran’s right.  He added that Tehran would view an Israeli role in a Western coalition in the Gulf as a threat to its Iran’s “security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”  (WIN, Aug. 12, 2019)

US SIGNS CONTRACT TO PURCHASE IRON DOME SYSTEM FROM ISRAEL (Washington) — The contract for two complete Iron Dome systems was signed in the last few weeks. Israel and the U.S. are currently in talks on transferring the systems to America. Iron Dome is meant as an interim missile defense solution for the U.S., but Defense News says it could turn into a permanent solution depending on its performance in the field. (WIN, Aug. 13, 2019)

LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY SHUTTERS VILNIUS’ ONLY SYNAGOGUE OVER ANTISEMITIC THREATS (Vilnius) — The Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) closed Vilnius’ only synagogue and shut down its administrative building in the face of antisemitic threats from right-wing nationalist elements. Tensions have been high in Lithuania in recent months over the removal of a plaque honoring Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika and the renaming of a street named after Kazys Škirpa, another Nazi ally. Both men are regarded as heroes by Lithuanian nationalists. (Algemeiner, Aug. 7, 2019)

THREE MEN ATTACKED ON THEIR WAY TO SYNAGOGUE, AS RENEWED SPATE OF ASSAULTS TARGETS ORTHODOX JEWS IN BROOKLYN (Brooklyn) –The three men were attacked early on Monday morning by unknown assailants while making their way to synagogue services. Several similar incidents have been reported in recent months, with assailants targeting the increasingly fearful orthodox Jewish communities in the borough. (Algemeiner, Aug. 12, 2019)

LARGE BATCH OF FRANZ KAFKA’S PAPERS UNVEILED IN ISRAEL AFTER 12-YEAR LEGAL STRUGGLE (Jerusalem) — According to Israeli news outlet Kan, the collection — unveiled by Israel’s National Library  — includes hundreds of items handwritten by the legendary Jewish writer Franz Kafka, such as essays, notes for his fictional works, letters, and drawings, as well as texts written in Hebrew. (Algemeiner, Aug. 7, 2019)

FRENCH JEWS DEMAND INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED ‘NON-AGGRESSION’ PACT WITH PALESTINIAN TERROR GROUP FOLLOWING 1982 MASSACRE AT PARIS KOSHER RESTAURANT(Paris) — The French Jewish organization CRIF demanded a parliamentary investigation into revelations by a former French intelligence chief that the country’s security services agreed on a secret non-aggression pact with a Palestinian terrorist group. According to Le Parisien, the pact was allegedly reached during a clandestine meeting shortly after the rue des Rosiers attack between Bonnet and representatives of the Abu Nidal group. (Algemeiner, Aug. 12, 2019)

FORMER MISS IRAQ BLASTS ‘ANTISEMITIC’ ILHAN OMAR, SAYS ‘SHE DOES NOT REPRESENT ME AS A MUSLIM’ (California) — Iraqi beauty queen Sarah Idan sharply criticized Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar in a radio interview, calling the controversial representative “antisemitic” and saying she should not be considered a spokesperson for the Muslim community.  She also blasted Omar for using her platform as a congresswoman to advocate for the freedom of Hoda Abdelmonem, a senior member of the Muslim brotherhood, rather than to help women “enslaved by mandatory sharia/in jail awaiting an imminent death for speaking out against dictatorial regimes.” Idan, who now lives in the US, called out antisemitism taught in Muslim countries and voiced support for Israel at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, last month. She was forced to flee Iraq with her family after receiving death threats in November 2017 for taking a selfie with Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman at the Miss Universe beauty pageant. (Algemeiner, Aug. 11, 2019)

COMMANDER OF ELITE BORDER POLICE UNIT DESCRIBES CAPTURE OF ISRAELI YOUTH DVIR SOREK’S KILLERS (West Bank) — Shortly after the weekend arrest of the terrorists responsible for last week’s killing of yeshiva student Dvir Sorek in the West Bank, Second Lieutenant S of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Unit (ICTU) described what happened in interviews with Israeli media. Speaking of Sorek’s killers, S. said, “When I understood the details of the incident, I knew how much they exploited the fact that he was alone, an innocent and helpless boy, when they attacked him by surprise, putting their scheme into action and fleeing.” (Algemeiner, Aug. 11, 2019)

COLORADO MAN ARRESTED ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES PREVIOUSLY ISSUED ‘HUNTING GUIDES’ FOR JEWS ONLINE, COURT DOCUMENTS REVEAL (Colorado) — According to Denver’s Channel 7, the official affidavit stated that Wesley David Gilreath circulated the guide, which contained information on the location of synagogues, because of his white supremacist convictions. The court documents note that despite Gilreath’s claim that he is not a white supremacist, he told FBI agents in January that he “wanted the white race to win at life … while not allowing others to take those resources.” Gilreath also said that “Jews are responsible for the refugee crisis.” (Algemeiner, Aug. 11, 2019)

                                     FURTHER READING:

Opinion: Is California’s Draft Ethnic Studies Curriculum Anti-Semitic? Karin Klein, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 9, 2019 — The number of hate crimes against Jews in California increased more than those against any other group in 2018, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.