Israel in the News May/Jun 2018
Situation in Poland Deteriorating for Jewish People
A wave of anti-Semitism has been washing over Poland after the country banned all speech that suggests Polish complicity in the Holocaust, and the nation’s Jewish community is worried, The Algemeiner has reported.
At a conference in Munich, Germany, recently, the Polish prime minister claimed the Jews themselves were partly to blame for the Holocaust, where more than 6 million Jewish people perished. More than 3 million were murdered in German death camps in Poland alone during World War II.
To make matters worse, Polish legislators have now introduced a new bill calling for the criminalization of kosher meat slaughter. If the law passes, anyone slaughtering animals in accordance with traditional Jewish practice will face a prison sentence of up to four years.
The proposed bill also bans exporting kosher meat, which will impact Israel since some of Israel’s kosher meat comes from Poland. The bill was introduced a mere week after Poland criminalized speech indicating Polish complicity in Holocaust crimes.
Anti-Semitic activity is also increasing in the form of “threatening phone calls and emails to the Jewish community, urination in front of a historic synagogue, and racist graffiti,” The Algemeiner reported.
The newspaper also said many more Jewish people are inquiring about moving to Israel. “Hanna, who asked that her last name be concealed, expressed her new understanding of her mother’s fear of antisemitism. ‘I always thought she was crazy,’ she said. ‘Now I see that maybe my mom isn’t crazy. Maybe this is the circle of life and history is repeating.’”
From news reports
Cards Against Humanity Sells New anti-Semitic ‘Jew Pack’
In response to public pressure, Amazon, Walmart, and Target all have pulled Cards Against Humanity’s new anti-Semitic extension pack, “Jew Pack,” which mocks Anne Frank and the Holocaust and includes jokes about torturing Jewish people. “Torturing Jews until they say they’re not Jews anymore” and “Can’t you see? The Jews are behind everything—the banks, the media, even _____!” are just two of the many anti-Semitic cards included in the pack.
Cards Against Humanity, a popular card game known for its off-color humor and offensive nature, began receiving criticism after a Twitter user posted a picture of the new extension pack he had found in Target, commenting “Available at your local @Target. Despicable beyond.”
Target’s guest service Twitter account responded, “We are aware of this extended card pack of the game Cards Against Humanity and are in the process of removing it from our stores. We apologize for any disappointment as it is never our intention to offend our guests with the products we carry. Thank you!” Target promptly removed the item from its stores, with Walmart soon following. Amazon reluctantly removed the product after further backlash.
Cards Against Humanity, however, continues to sell the anti-Semitic card pack on its website. Its description of the product reads, “Fun fact: 100% of the Cards Against Humanity writers are Jewish. Can you believe it? A Jewish comedy writer! Anything is possible in 2017. 30 cards from our big brains full of facts and sadness.”
From news reports
Danon Slams New UNHRC Report as ‘Disgraceful’
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed the recent United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decision to publish a controversial, anti-Israel interim report hours before the UN marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at its headquarters in New York.
Both Israel and the United States have claimed the document is a “blacklist” that will encourage boycotts of the Jewish state. It accuses but does not name 206 companies of doing business within the disputed territories.
Danon said, “We will continue to act with our allies and use all the means at our disposal to stop the publication of this disgraceful blacklist.”
From news reports
Egypt to Buy $15 Billion in Natural Gas from Israel
In a deal that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “historic,” the partners in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields have signed two accords with Egypt’s Dolphinius Holdings Ltd. for $7.5 billion each for the sale of natural gas over 10 years. The partners include Delek Drilling LP and a unit of Noble Energy Inc., according to the Times of Israel.
“The deals with Egypt are the first for the fields, and come on the heels of two other accords the partners signed with neighboring countries: Natural gas from Tamar has been exported since the start of 2017 to a Jordanian chemicals manufacturing plant on the Dead Sea, while the Leviathan partners have also signed a deal for the sale of gas to the Jordanian electric company NEPCO,” the Times reported.
Netanyahu said the landmark deal will provide billions of dollars for health, education, and welfare. Noble Energy is an American company headquartered in Houston, Texas.
From news reports
Israel Reopens Embassy in Jordan
Israel has recently begun implementing the reopening of its embassy in Amman, Jordan. The embassy has been closed since July 2017, when an Israeli security guard fatally shot two Jordanians in self-defense. The guard, Ziv Moyal, shot a Jordanian who attacked him with a screwdriver, while a second Jordanian was killed by a stray bullet.
Israel apologized for the incident and offered financial compensation to the families of those killed as part of a compromise to restart full diplomatic relations with Jordan. Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994 and maintain significant security and economic cooperation, despite Jordan’s large Palestinian population that largely disdains Israel.
New Israeli Drug Might Treat Inflammatory Diseases
Israeli research scientist Prof. David Naor may have discovered a new drug to treat incurable inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative maladies such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. “It will take several million dollars to start clinical trials of Naor’s novel, IP-protected peptide—a synthetic protein snippet that significantly reverses the damaging effects of inflammatory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models and restores the learning capacity of Alzheimer’s mice,” Israel21c.org reported.
Naor has spent the last 10 years researching and developing the drug at the Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem. “I believe that within two years we would know for certain if our academic product can translate into a therapeutic drug to combat inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases,” Naor said. “Once you control the inflammation, you can control the disease.”
From news reports
Terror Group Establishes New Base in Gaza
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank, has announced its plans to establish its first-ever military base, called the Yasser Arafat Military Base, in the Gaza Strip. The brigade plans to use the base to train Arab-Palestinian fighters to make war against Israel and against Palestinians who don’t agree with its cause.
“This [the base] is in order to complete the project of expelling the occupation [Israel] from all the lands of occupied Palestine. Today we pledge to our people [that we will] continue [the struggle] until the complete liberation of our holy places,” the terror group posted on Facebook.
Although the group claims links to Fatah, it doesn’t accept Fatah’s current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and instead supports Abbas’s political rival Mohammad Dahlan.
From news reports
Jewish Groups Continue Hurricane Relief Efforts
A new coalition of Jewish organizations has issued a call to Jewish communal groups throughout the United States to continue sending volunteers to help relieve the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Israeli aid workers were among the first to lend humanitarian support in the hurricane’s aftermath last August, and in January the Israeli government finalized a $1 million donation to Houston’s Jewish community.
The Leadership Coalition for Jewish Service, which includes BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization), Hillel International, and other Jewish groups, has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston on #ActNowHouston to recruit thousands of mobilized volunteers from national and local agencies to continue the relief work. “We know young Jews across the country are passionate about taking into their own hands the challenge of meeting important needs in our society,” CEO of BBYO Matt Grossman said.
Hurricane Harvey resulted in the flooding of nearly 200,000 homes, including more than 2,000 Jewish households; and thousands of residents remain in temporary housing. The volunteers will help to remove damaged household items, sanitize homes, package food and deliver essentials to the elderly, and help families get back on their feet through the rebuilding process.