Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Saddest Day in the Jewish Calendar

July 31, 2017

Israel is preparing for Tisha B’Av, which begins tonight, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar where Jews in Israel and around the world take time to reflect on the Jews who have been killed in the tragedies of the Jewish people. Tisha B’Av, which translates to the Ninth of Av in English, is considered by many to be a day destined for tragedy, due to the large number of Jewish tragedies which have occurred on the date.

The first tragedy to befall the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av was the destruction of the Jewish First Temple in Jerusalem which was destroyed by the invading Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE. The Temple’s destruction by the Babylonians also killed over 100,000 Jews.

The Western Wall on Tisha B’Av (Matzav)

On the very same date, the Second Jewish Temple which was built 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem.

Other tragedies which occurred on Tisha B’Av include the expulsion of all Jews from England in 1290, and then Spain in 1492, and the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp in 1942.

Illustration of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Jewish Boston)

The Jewish people mark Tisha B’Av with prayers and by fasting for 25 hours. There are other customs including not sitting on chairs, not wearing cosmetics, not wearing leather shoes, not shaving, not playing music, and not smiling or laughing on the date.

In Israel, Tisha B’Av draws thousands of people to the Western Wall, one of the remnants from the Second Temple. Laments for the dead are recited and The Book of Lamentations, which is said to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah after the First Temple was destroyed, is often read.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

Incredible Story of IDF Soldier Yonatan Handelsman

July 28, 2017

Imagine this, you are a young Israeli man serving in the IDF as a combat soldier. You are Jewish, your parents are Jewish, and you are a proud Zionist. Imagine then being told your great grandfather was a Nazi during World War II. Would you believe it? This is exactly the scenario Yonatan Handelsman faced.

Handelsman was working on a family tree project for school when he noticed there was next to no information about his maternal great-grandfather. Intrigued by the lack of a name or even a picture, the boy asked his mother for answers.

Sergeant Yonatan Handelsman (Avi Chai)

His mother tried to avoid the subject at first, but eventually told Yonatan that his great-grandfather was a Nazi officer. Naturally, Handelsman didn’t believe it, but then his mother explained to him the story. Yonatan’s mother grew up in Germany and was not Jewish. One day, whilst she was 14, there was a neo-Nazi demonstration in Munich conducted by former Nazi officers. Yonatan’s mother went to protest the demonstration, along with her brother. Suddenly, they saw their grandfather participating in the march, which was a huge shock to them. After further investigation, they found out their grandfather was a former Nazi officer.

Following the discovery, Yonatan’s mother was horrified. So much so that it motivated her to convert to Judaism and then to eventually move to Israel. After her move to the Jewish state, she got married and started a family.

This puts Yonatan in an incredibly unique situation. On his father’s side, his grand-parents are Holocaust survivors, and on his mother’s side, his great-grandfather was a Nazi officer.

Handelsman’s great-grandfather (Avi Chai)

Yonatan said it took him time to take it all in and accept his newly discovered family history. Speaking to i24 News, Yonatan said, “I had to deal with this part of my past, I was at war against it, I didn’t know what to think but today I only think about my relatives who went through the Holocaust”.

Yonatan Handelsman’s story is truly remarkable and shows the diversity and incredible family history of many who serve in the IDF and live in Israel.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

British Policeman Honored For Thwarting Attack in Israel

July 27, 2017

A British policeman is being honored by the UK Police Federation with a bravery award for putting his life at risk to intervene in an attack in Jerusalem.

British policeman Richard Burgess was on a pilgrimage to Israel in Feburary 2016. During his time in Jerusalem, he was visiting the grave of Oskar Schindler on Mount Zion, who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. Just before leaving, a woman came up to Burgess and asked him to “please help them, please help them”. He followed the alarmed woman to a nearby alley, where he saw three Arab men beating and dragging what he believed to be a Jewish man.

Hero: Detective Sergeant Richard Burgess (Police Oracle)

According to the UK Police Federation, Burgess “ran at the group, ‘clotheslining’ one of the men, and holding him in a headlock under his right arm. This despite a recent injury, meaning his right hand was not fully functional. With his left hand, he pulled at the Jewish man, freeing him and yelling at him to run. Two other members of the tour [who happened to be off-duty Metropolitan Police officers] arrived to help the man to safety.”

After freeing the Jewish man, the three Arab men started attacking Burgess, who was hit with a claw hammer in the head. Despite being heavily dazed, Burgess managed to get away. Israeli Police have since arrested two suspects they believe to have been involved in the attack, and were convicted of assault.

Richard Burgess showed incredible courage and bravery to intervene and potentially save the life of the Jewish man being attacked. He put his own life at risk to save the life of another in a foreign country, when many would simply run away. As Steve Taylor, chairman of Essex Police Federation said, “he is truly deserving of this nomination.”

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

2700-Year-Old Reservoir Discovered in Israel

July 26, 2017

During an archaeological dig near Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved 2,700-year-old reservoir from the Assyrian period.

View from inside the reservoir (IAA)

It is believed the reservoir was built by the Assyrians, following the destruction of the First Temple and the Kingdom of Israel. Incredibly, despite being so long ago, human engravings carved into the rock are still visible.

Director of excavations at the Israel Antiquities Authority Gilad Itach said, “On its walls, near the entrance, we identified engravings of human figures, crosses and a vegetal motif that were probably carved by passers-by in a later period. Overall, we identified seven figures measuring 15-30 cm. Most have outstretched arms, and a few appear to be holding some kind of object.”

Engravings on the walls of the water system (IAA)

The IAA has plans, in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and Housing, to create an open archaeological site that will be accessible to the public.

Yet, this was not the only ancient discovery found in Israel in the last few months. Around Hanukkah, Israeli spelunkers discovered an ancient menorah etched into the limestone walls of an ancient cistern.

Ancient menorah discovery (IAA)

After being studied by the Israel Antiquities Authority, it was determined that the menorah was likely carved sometime during the Second Temple period, about 530 BCE to 70 CE. The engraving is just one of many examples showing the strong Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Israel Sends Firefighters to help Montenegro

July 25, 2017

Israel sent a firefighting delegation to Montenegro to help the country fight raging wildfires which are ravaging the country.

Over 100 tourists have been forced to evacuate Montenegro’s much desired Adriatic coastline as the fire, fueled by strong winds and dry weather, spread near homes and campsites.

The Montenegrin government pledged for international help to fight the fire, and Israel was on hand help. The Jewish state sent an elite firefighting team, backed up by the Israeli Air Force’s Fire Squadron. Israel also sent two firefighting airplanes to help tackle the blaze.

Israeli Firefighting delegation in Montenegro (Israel Police)

The Israeli operation was given the name “Black Mountain” and was a major help to the Montenegrin authorities. The Israeli team dropped a staggering 78,000 liters of fire retardant while carrying out 36 sorties that lasted more than 42 hours.

Israel’s help to Montenegro is not surprising however. Israel often sends firefighting teams to help other countries deal with huge forest fires, with Israel helping countries such as Cyprus in 2016. Israel also received aid from numerous countries last year to help deal with the huge wildfires which spread across the country.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.

How Does Colombia Feel About Israel?

July 24, 2017

I was born and raised a proud Zionist. My parents, who grew up in Colombia, instilled in me a love for the Jewish state. I always believed in Israel’s right to exist, but it wasn’t until I started school at the University of Florida that I realized how much of an impact advocating for Israel would have on my college experience and my life in general.

I was excited to learn that Colombia and Israel have had 60 years of diplomatic relations, considering many other Latin American countries don’t have reputations as friends of Israel.

Luis Szapiro, the President of the Colombia-Israel Chamber of Commerce told me that the free trade agreement between Israel and Colombia presents big opportunities for both countries. Colombia is now able to export to Israel, and in return gain investment from technology companies. It will especially benefit the agricultural sector.

Picture from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry

Relations between Colombia and Israel have been consistently good for many years no matter the politics of the leadership of each country. According to Szapiro, Israel is a friend to Colombia and supported the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). A Colombian delegation was sent to Israel to be trained to clear landmines following the peace pact, which ends sixty years of conflict. Israel has also invested in improving infrastructure. A global Israeli construction company will be building a toll road near Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

Israel has also helped farmers replace cocaine-producing plants with food crops. A year ago, a DEA operation revealed that Hezbollah was tied to a Colombian cartel in a money laundering ring. This was the only negative news I found while researching.

Another area that has improved due to positive relations is education. A delegation of school principals and teachers traveled to Israel in February to learn strategies that will strengthen local schools through a program called Education towards Sustainable Development.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely traveled to Colombia last month to participate in the Summit of the Pacific Alliance and help with counter terrorism. One of the objectives of Hotovely’s visit was to expand the export of Israeli technology, especially water solutions.

The mission of the Pacific Alliance, which is an initiative of regional integration between Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, is to become a platform for economic and commercial integration with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

After moving from Colombia to the United States and making such a deep connection with Israel, I am proud that all the countries I consider home have such positive relationships with each other.

By CAMERA Intern Ilana Sperling 

The First (and Last) Time El Al’s Security was Breached

July 21, 2017

El Al is known for being one of the safest airlines in the world. As a result of the terrorism Israel faces, Israel’s national carrier has no choice but to be extremely vigilant when it comes to security. Yet one day in El Al history stands out, the first and last time an El Al flight has been hijacked, 49 years ago this week.

El Al flight 426 had just taken off from Rome on route to Tel Aviv when 3 terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine burst into the cockpit, clubbed the co-pilot with the butt of his pistol, and ordered the plane to fly to Algiers, the Algerian capital.

Once the plane had landed in Algeria, the Algerian authorities took control of the operation. They separated all Israelis from the rest of the passengers, allowing non-Israelis to go free. The action of separating Jews from non-Jews brought back terrible memories for the Jewish people and their state, just over 20 years after the end of the Holocaust.

El Al Boeing 707 Plane (Wikipedia)

The Algerians demanded of Israel the release of all Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted terrorists, in exchange for the Israeli passengers and crew. At the same time, a variety of international efforts by the UN, Italy and the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations were underway to secure the release of the Israelis.

International pressure on Algeria, including through boycotts and other measures, led to the Algerians decreasing the significance of their demands. By this point, the Israelis had been held hostage for 5 weeks. After negotiations between the Israeli and Algerian governments, an agreement was reached where Israel would release 16 Palestinian prisoners in return for the Israeli passengers and crew. Lasting 40 days, it was the longest hijacking of a commercial plane, and that record still stands today.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern. 

Teen Magazine Promotes Conspiracy Theory from Protocols of the Elders of Zion

July 19, 2017

Affinity Magazine is a publication written by and for teenagers. Its Editor-in-Chief, Evelyn Woodsen, is nineteen, and its Senior Editor Alex Brown is in high school.

Its website gets between 200,000 and 600,000 views per month, and it claims that it “serves a purpose of showcasing the voices of aspiring teen journalists.” The publication aims to “mix pop culture with social justice and politics….”

Affinity Magazine (Affinity Magazine)

The young age of its writers and editors, however, does not excuse its promotion of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. In January, the magazine published an article titled, “Money and Israel Control the Media: Who Cares?” (January 8, 2017) Seventeen year-old author Zoya Wazir, relying on the antisemitic Rense website, wrote that:

Israel has political and economic ties to America of such necessity that they control the majority of the media. In fact, the big six corporations mentioned earlier all have Israeli ties and are headed by powerful Jewish families within the United States.

Given the publication’s left-wing bent, Affinity‘s editors might be dismayed to learn that in promoting this myth, they are joining former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who made the same claim last fall. One can also find similar content on the neo-nazi sites Stormfront and Daily Stormer, and in the /pol/, or “politically incorrect,” section of 4chan. (Ironically, a June 15 4chan thread asked, “If the Jews control the media (which they do), then why do they take such an anti-Israeli stance?”)

According to the ADL, the origin of the myth of Jewish control of the media can be traced back to the antisemitic forgery, the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”

The document known as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, said to be the secret plans of Jewish leaders for the attainment of world domination, is, in fact, the most famous and vicious forgery of modern times. Though thoroughly discredited, the Protocols have succeeded time and time again in stirring up hatred and racism in the twentieth century. …

The seventh Protocol tells of Jewish control of the press: ‘It is in the Press that the triumph of freedom of speech finds its incarnation. But the goyim States have not known how to make use of the force; and it has fallen into our hands. Through the Press we have gained the power to influence while remaining ourselves in the shade.’

The ADL’s booklet about the Protocols cites many authorities that have concluded that the document is a forgery, including, in 1964, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is not only a forgery, but a plagiarized forgery, with large portions copied from the 1865 work “Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.” Other claims made in the Protocols are that Jews control the world’s economy, and that Jews are planning to put in place a “world government,” controlled by a despotic Jewish king.

Jewish control of the media, Ms. Wazir continues, “is evidenced in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a conflict that most seem to know of, but know little to no accurate information about. … While there is suffering occurring on both sides of the conflict, the Palestinian side is highly underreported because of the United States’ ties to Israel.” She then – unbelievably to many CAMERA members (and notwithstanding the commentary on 4chan) – cites an article from the New York Times as an example of pro-Israel bias.

Members and regular readers of CAMERA’s website and blogs might be scratching their heads at such a claim. CAMERA has documented countless instances of media bias against Israel, including at the New York Times.

The article was widely condemned in the comments section, though one man seemed to praise it (Screenshot)

Of course, individual Jews have been extremely successful in media as well as other businesses, and there is nothing antisemitic about acknowledging that fact. The implicit or explicit assertion, with no evidence, of collusion among them, or of a shared nefarious purpose, is the touchtone of an antisemitic conspiracy. As (Jewish) lawyer and commentator Alan Dershowitz has written,

Yes, there are many individual Jews in positions of influence in Hollywood, in network television, in sports and entertainment, and in many other areas of American public life. These individuals, who happen to be Jewish, do not act together in any kind of conspiratorial manner. There is no “Jewish control” of any of these areas — or of the many other areas, such as medicine, law, academia, finance — where there are large numbers of individual Jews in high positions. Many of these individuals are Jewish only in the sense that their parents or grandparents happen to be Jews. They do not live Jewish lives or support Jewish causes. They certainly do not conspire to exercise any sort of “Jewish control” over the areas in which they work.

It’s wonderful that Affinity‘s editors want to give young writers experience and exposure. As a magazine that serves to inform the teen community, however, the publication needs to do a better job at setting and enforcing standards that will weed out such falsehoods.

Contributed by CAMERA’s Karen Bekker

This article was originally published at camera.org.

Israel Hosts A Record Breaking 20th Maccabiah Games

July 18, 2017

Israel is playing host to the 20th Maccabiah Games this month. The Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish multi-sport event often dubbed ‘the Jewish Olympics’. The event brings together thousands of athletes representing many different countries. The event, first started in 1932, takes place every four years, one year after the Olympic Games.

The 2017 Maccabiah Games is special, with a record 85 countries competing and 45 sports on offer. Countries competing for the first time include the Bahamas, the Philippines, South Korea, Malta and Morocco. The number of athletes exceed 10,000, making it the third largest sporting competition in the world behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

The Opening Ceremony was hosted at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and it was far from dull. It was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin, who both gave speeches. There were even surprise addresses via the big screen from both British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin at the Opening Ceremony (Flash 90)

The Opening Ceremony also featured an impromptu proposal by Canadian athlete Avi Steinberg to his girlfriend Rachel. After she accepted, hosts of the opening ceremony pulled out a wedding gown and chuppah, and the couple’s rabbi, Avi Poupko, officiated a wedding ceremony in front of the entire stadium!

The first Maccabiah Games took place around the time of Adolf Hitler coming to power in Germany, and was played against the wish of the British rulers in pre-state Israel. In contrast, the 20th Maccabiah is the third largest sporting event in the world, and it is taking place in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state. The Maccabiah Games can be seen as a showcase of the remarkable rise in the fate of the Jewish people.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Arab World Ignores Terror Attack, Chooses to Victim Blame Israel

July 17, 2017

On Friday, two Israeli Border Police were murdered in a terror attack by an entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. After committing their attack, the terrorists then fled to the Temple Mount, and were eventually shot and killed after being chased by Police.

The attack received widespread condemnation from the West and within Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the attack.

But within a large segment of the Arab world, instead of focusing on the attack, politicians focused on Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount for security reasons.

Jordan’s Minister of Waqf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat warned of “continued unprecedented harm to the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” as a result of the closure. The Arab League issued a statement condemning Israel for its closure of the Temple Mount, but did not mention the attack which caused it. And the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, also criticized the closure, calling it “a serious crime and a dangerous precedent.”

Yet it wasn’t just politicians who ignored the attack, deciding to focus on the closure instead. The Arab media excessively focused on the closure, spouting aggressive and hateful language against Israel. A significant number of Arab media outlets even used cartoons to express their hateful message.

Saudi newspaper Al Watan printed a caricature of a Star of David with Satan’s horns, which is eating the Dome of the Rock (Ynet)

Newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi based in London, criticized what they deemed as a weak response by the Muslim world, which is portrayed as an ostrich burying its head in the sand while the Al-Aqsa Mosque bleeds. (Ynet)

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, based in Qatar, showed the mosques on the Temple Mount closed off with yellow crime scene tape marked with the Star of David and a sign that says “No entry.” (Ynet)

The Arab world have stated that Israel’s temporary closure of the Temple Mount would spark violence and terrorism. Yet it isn’t Israel which is causing tensions to rise, it is the Arab politicians and media themselves. The fiery statements and cartoons featured above, only increase the divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, and undoubtedly have an effect in radicalizing Palestinians to commit terror attacks. Imagine how a young Palestinian would feel seeing those cartoons. It would of course spark emotions of anger and hate.

If the Arab world, like the West, acknowledged some of the necessary actions Israel must take in the fight against terrorism, and unwaveringly condemned terror attacks against Israelis, then violence would eventually subside. Maybe if the Arab media stopped with their lies about Israel planning on changing the status-quo at the Temple Mount, tempers would die down.

But the more the Arab world ignores terror, and continues its fiery rhetoric and lies about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, the more violence will occur.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.