23 September 2014

Over 600 scholars sign letter against BDS

From The Washington Post, 22 September 2014, by Eugene Kontorovich*:

Over 600 academics thus far have signed a new letter opposing an academic boycott of Israel. The signatories include at least one Nobel Prize winner, law school deans, and leading scholars in several fields (that is just based on the some of the signatories I personally know; I have not looked over the whole list). 

The statement takes no position on the Israeli-Arab conflict, and tries to be as neutral as possible about everything other than BDS itself. The key parts of the letter are below; it is open for signature by any college or university faculty or academic staff, including librarians, researchers, post doctorates, etc.
We, the undersigned … oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students.
Our opposition is rooted in the following core principles.
1. Academic freedom: The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement discriminates against Israeli institutions, professors, and students for no other reason than their nationality and the policies of their government. Thus BDS violates the very principle of academic freedom. Academic boycotts such as those promoted by BDS activists “are antithetical to the fundamental principles of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment,” according to a statement signed by 300 university presidents in 2007, and additional statements written by over 250 university presidents last year in response to the ASA boycott of Israel. The American Association of University Professors, other academic organizations, and more than forty Nobel Laureates have opposed all academic boycotts for this reason.

2. Truth: The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data.

3. Peace: The two-state solution – which guarantees to both parties mutual recognition – enjoys the endorsement of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and the Arab League. By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace.
I have signed the letter, and would do so for any such statement about academic boycotts of any country, including those whose policies I particularly detest. I would not want an Iranian leader speaking at my campus, but cannot imagine extending that objection to an Iranian professor. While government control and intimidation in authoritarian countries may make scholarship less reliable or interesting, I cannot see a justification for any non-merit-based boycott. Indeed, I have had some useful correspondence on maritime piracy with Iranian academics.

*Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and an expert on constitutional and international law. He also writes and lectures frequently about the Arab-Israel conflict.

22 September 2014

Medical Journal, Lancet, hijacked in anti-Israel campaign

From The telegraph,22 Sep 2014, by Jake Wallis Simons:

For almost 200 years, it has been regarded as a well-respected medical journal.

But according to senior British medical figures, the Lancet is being hijacked to campaign indefatigably against Israel, and used as a platform by alleged conspiracy theorists.

In August, it published a controversial “open letter for the people of Gaza” that condemned Israel in the strongest possible terms, but strikingly made no mention of Hamas’ atrocities.

The five principal authors of the letter made it clear that they had “no competing interests”. However, all of them have campaigned vociferously for the Palestinian cause over many years.
In addition, a cache of emails openly available in Google groups show that two of the authors, Dr Paola Manduca and Dr Swee Ang, have sympathies with the views of David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard.

Dr Swee Ang, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Manduca, a professor of genetics at the University of Genoa in Italy – who are both members of pro-Palestine NGOs – sent round-robin emails to their contacts promoting a video entitled “CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix”.

The video features an extended anti-Semitic rant by Duke, in which he claims that “the Zionist Matrix of Power controls Media, Politics and Banking” and that “some of the Jewish elite practices racism and tribalism to advance their supremacist agenda”.

Dr Ang wrote: “This is a shocking video please watch. This is not about Palestine – it is about all of us!”

In another email, Dr Manduca forwarded a message alleging that the Boston marathon bombings were in fact carried out by Jews. “Let us hope that someone in the FBI us smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin”, it said.

Elsewhere, she shared an article comparing the Jewish state to a “strangler fig”, which grows around other trees and takes their sunlight, often resulting in the death of the original trees.

David Duke has been delighted by the apparent support of these respected doctors. “The latest group of people to join the ranks of those who have broken the chains of Zionist censorship have been a brave group of medical professionals,” he wrote on his blog.

In response to questions by the Daily Telegraph, Dr Manduca issued a statement in which she denied being anti-Semitic. “[But] I legitimately use my right of freedom of opinion,” she said, “and do not agree or value the politics of the government of Israel, nor of many others, including Jews in and out of Israel.”

For her part, Dr Ang said: “I didn’t know who David Duke was, or that he was connected to the Ku Klux Klan. I am concerned that if there is any truth in the video, that Jews control the media, politics and banking, what on earth is going on? I was worried.”

She said that she was made aware of the video by a friend, Dr Kamal Alubaid, who appears to have been active on 9/11 "truth" websites. In one post, he referred to the Jewish State as "Racist Apparthide (sic) Israel".

Moreover, Dr Mads Gilbert, a third author of the letter, gave an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 2001 in which he said that the 9/11 atrocities were as a result of Western foreign policy, and that he supported terror attacks in that “context”.

Israeli campaigners brought this information to the attention of the Lancet in a letter sent on 1 September. However, the journal has refused to issue a response and has not removed the open letter from its website – through which it collected 20,000 signatures in support of the letter.

“It's utterly irrelevant. It's a smear campaign,” the editor of the Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, told the Daily Telegraph. “I don’t honestly see what all this has to do with the Gaza letter. I have no plans to retract the letter, and I would not retract the letter even if it was found to be substantiated.”

Dr Horton, who has in the past spoken at rallies organised by Stop The War Coalition, denied that the journal's reputation would be damaged by giving a platform to people who appear to hold such views, and said that the Lancet is not intending to investigate the allegations.

According to its critics, the current episode is just the latest example of anti-Israel prejudice that the Lancet’s editors have encouraged.

“For many years, the Lancet has been consistently using its reputation to attack Israel,” says Professor David Katz, an expert in infection and immunity at University College London.

“The Lancet is supposed to be a politically neutral medical journal. The fact that they have given proven anti-Semites a platform and not rescinded it, even when confronted with the evidence, is appalling.
“They have allowed their hatred of Israel to blind them to the norms of medical science and the pursuit of reason.”

NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog, points out that over the past 15 years, the journal has formed a number of partnerships with Palestinian groups, including the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance, Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

By contrast, there have been no comparable collaborations with Israeli groups.

Professor Katz and a number of other senior medical figures have written to the medical ombudsman to register their complaints.

On 29 August, Professor Sir Mark Pepys, director of the Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit at UCL, wrote: “The failure of the Menduca et al authors to disclose their extraordinary conflicts of interest… are the most serious, unprofessional and unethical errors.

“The transparent effort to conceal this vicious and substantially mendacious partisan political diatribe as an innocent humanitarian appeal has no place in any serious publication, let alone a professional medical journal, and would disgrace even the lowest of the gutter press.”

He accuses Dr Horton, the Lancet editor, personally: “Horton’s behaviour in this case is consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views,” he says. “It has greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.”

In response, Dr Horton said: “How can you separate politics and health? The two go hand-in-hand.”

20 September 2014

Shana Tova

To all our readers: Shana Tova ....a GOOD Jewish New Year...

17 September 2014

Fears company’s ‘missing $9m’ used to finance terror

The entry to the Bisotel Rieh office in Lakemba, which incorporates a money-remittance co
The entry to the Bisotel Rieh office in Lakemba, which incorporates a money-remittance company, travel company and barber shop. Source: News Corp Australia

A MONEY-REMITTANCE company linked to the family of convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police over $9 million in missing funds, some of which authorities fear may have been used to finance Australians fighting with Islamic State.

Authorities are also concerned the company, Bisotel Rieh Global Money Transfer, may have transferred funds to Mohamed Elomar, Khaled Sharrouf’s companion in Syria and a fellow fighter with the terrrorist organisation.

Financial intelligence and compliance agency AUSTRAC announced it had suspended Bisotel Rieh, which trades in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba, after it failed to declare the $9m in funds transferred out of Australia.

The company is being investigated over suspicious transfers of funds to individuals in Malaysia, amid admissions from staff that it “actively smuggles” money from Turkey into Lebanon.
One of the directors of the company, Damour Sharrouf, is understood to be the sister of Khaled Sharrouf, one of dozens of Australians fighting with Islamic State.

The other company director is Ahmed Alwash, believed to be Ms Sharrouf’s husband.
Khaled Sharrouf gained infamy when The Australian published photos of his nine-year-old son posing with the severed head of a slain Syrian army soldier.

AUSTRAC chief executive John Schmidt said Bisotel Rieh, which specialises in money transfers to the Middle East, failed to declare $9m between January and August. “The figures don’t appear to match,’’ Mr Schmidt said. “It’s a fairly big difference in a short space of time.
“We are satisfied that the continued registration ... may involve a significant financing-of-terrorism risk.’’
Documents released by AUSTRAC revealed that the agency’s officers had visited the business in May and established that Bisotel Rieh had “arranged for bulk cash to be smuggled from Turkey into Lebanon”, apparently because it had been unable to access bank accounts in Lebanon.
That revelation prompted a larger investigation, leading to revelations the company had transferred three sums of money totalling about $38,000 to an unnamed individual in Malaysia.
During the same period, Bisotel Rieh sent another transfer to Malaysia “seemingly coincidentally’’, according to AUSTRAC.

Khaled Sharrouf and Elomar, who fled Australia late last year, travelled together to Syria and transited through Malaysia. It was not clear if they were the recipients of the cash.
An employee who answered the phone yesterday at Bisotel Rieh declined to comment then hung up abruptly.

...The Australian understands the AFP is also investigating Bisotel Rieh.

The company has until tomorrow to explain itself, after which it faces a suspension of 40 days followed by possible deregistration.

Bisotel Rieh specialises in transfers to the Middle East and also offers a travel service, advertising numerous services including holidays, cargo and visas.

The company’s website boasts clients receive money anywhere in the world within minutes of it being sent.

Bisotel Rieh has branches in Lakemba and Liverpool in southwestern Sydney, as well as a branch in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Mr Alwash, the company’s Syrian-born founder and managing director, also heads a brick company that provides brick manufacture and design services for the Middle East.

Mr Alwash is also the founder of a food-importing business.

In February of this year Ms Sharrouf was made a director of Bisotel Rieh, but does not serve as a director of any other of Mr Alwash’s companies.

Ms Sharrouf, along with Mr Alwash, is also shareholder in Bisotel Rieh’s travel company.

07 September 2014

Socialist Alternative student club deregistered after bullying Jewish student

From The Age, Victoria,September 5, 2014:

...Socialist Alternative was deregistered as a club by the Monash University Student Association on Tuesday, the same day a student from the same group at La Trobe University was threatened with expulsion following allegations of harassment of a Jewish student on campus.

The Monash association has simply said the Socialist Alternative is "prejudicial to the interests of clubs and  societies"...The deregistration would mean the group can no longer hold political meetings or information stalls at Monash University's Clayton campus.

The events at Monash University follow investigations by La Trobe University into allegations of harassment and intimidation of a Jewish student on campus.

[Ryan Higginson] Socialist Alternative member at La Trobe University said he received a letter from the university threatening expulsion for intimidating the student...

The student making the complaints at La Trobe, Jessica Cornish, 25, is now represented by Arnold Bloch Leibler in her complaints of harassment and intimidation against the Socialist Alternative and Students for Palestine.

She said that after she voted down a motion condemning Israeli's "ethnic  cleansing" and "genocide" in Gaza, posters were pasted on campus walls accusing her of supporting genocide. She also faced taunts by the students who called her a "Zionist piece of shit" and "genocidal pig".  at the end of July, believing it to be "inciting violence" she faced hundreds of posters pasted on campus naming her and accusing her of supporting genocide. She also faced taunts by the students who called her a "Zionist piece of shit" and "genocidal pig".

"It's been the worst semester I've ever had," Ms Cornish said.

"I've missed so much class. I haven't been able to concentrate. I'm very stressed," the speech pathology student said.

...in a document leaked to The Age, a former member of the Socialist Alternative, who chose not to be named, said the Socialist Alternative  was "known to shut down and intimidate students with opposing views", to "bully other students" and to engage in "cultish behaviour".

"They are known to surround students from opposing factions and shout them down and reportedly physically assault them," he wrote.

He noted a recent student conference "in which 60-80 members of the SA [Socialist Alternative] surround three or four members of the Student Unity in a corner and went ballistic. Many prominent members of the Monash SA were involved in orchestrating this."

He also said the group would interrupt lectures to advertise an event  and members have "at times physically resisted" when removed from lectures.

Tony Burke backs the Arab narrative on Israel

From The Australian, 8 September 2014, by Ean Higgins:

Tony Burke

Tony Burke said anyone who supported Israel’s bombing UN compounds in Gaza was ‘on the wrong side of that argument’. Source: News Corp Australia

TONY Burke has ...[said that] Jewish settlements in the West Bank are a ploy to block a two-state solution, and are “trashing” the drinking water of Palestinians.

So trenchant was Mr Burke in his criticism of Israel that he won the praise of Sydney academic Jake Lynch and the acknowledgment of Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, known for their vocal s-upport of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

In a blistering attack on Israel during a keynote address to a pro-Palestinian fundraiser, the senior Labor frontbencher said he, Senator Rhiannon, diplomats from Arab nations and others at the event were “here representing the view of the majority of the world”.

Mr Burke said anyone who supported Israel’s bombing UN compounds in Gaza was “on the wrong side of that argument”.

Mr Burke’s speech in Sydney late last month to the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, unreported until now, went far beyond his previous comments in support of the Palestinian cause.

Labor’s finance spokesman and manager of opposition business is one of the more outspoken in a group of ALP frontbenchers, including foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek, who lean towards the Palestinian side of the debate, in contrast to Bill Shorten who is robustly pro-Israel.

...Mr Burke’s remarks drew a sharp response from Victorian Labor MP Michael Danby, a supporter of Israel, when The Australian advised him of the speech.

Mr Danby said Mr Burke and former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr, who championed a more pro-Palestinian Australian policy in the UN, “seek to impose ­Munich-style settlements on Israel like the great powers handed down on the Czechs in 1938”.

Mr Danby said Mr Burke and other pro-Palestinian Labor MPs needed to “get a more balanced perspective, especially on the missile attacks (from Gaza’s Hamas organisation) that forced five million Israelis to the air-raid shelters”.

A spokesman for the Opposition Leader reiterated ALP policy on the Middle East but said he declined to endorse Mr Burke’s speech....

03 September 2014

Australian Universities hit by antisemitism

THE growth of antisemitism in our universities is deeply worrying. In the past month students at least six universities have reported anti-Semitic bullying. Outside campuses we are seeing growing anti-Semitic behaviour.

While the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians may invoke emotive responses, there is no place for anti-Semitism. Students have been targeted physically and verbally just because they are Jewish.

Ironically, this anti-Semitism is being led by the radical Left Socialist Alternative, which supposedly champions women’s rights but recently made headlines assaulting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over the government’s higher education reforms.

Now Socialist Alternative, an advocate of marriage equality, has sided with Hamas, a recognised terrorist organisation whose goal is the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state.

Recently five Jewish students were refused entry to a Socialist Alternative discussion on Israel because they were Jewish and were told “only progressive-thinking people are allowed”.

In our universities, free speech is to be encouraged, but it does not extend to threats and physical harassment. I am not surprised that the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Australia last year was the second highest on record. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has made anti-Semitism fashionable on the far Left.

Last week some University of Sydney students ‘‘occupied’’ a nearby Max Brenner chocolate shop. Chanting phrases such as “Max Brenner, come off it! There’s blood in your hot chocolate!” at customers in Australia is disgusting and targeting a shop because the owners are Jewish is racist. Students at the University of NSW spread false news about a similar protest at Max Brenner UNSW. This month, the student association at the University of Western Australia sought to bring Uthman Badar, spokesman for Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which claims “honour killings are morally justified”, to the university to discuss the Gaza conflict. Hizb-ut-Tahrir calls for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a global caliphate, so one suspects the purpose is not to provide a balanced discussion — but it will fuel anti-Israel hate on campus. I applaud the university for condemning the speaker as inconsistent with university values, which led the association to cancel it.

Anti-Semitism has no place in Australia and our universities must act quickly to condemn it. University administrations should be very careful not to invoke freedom of speech to allow speech that vilifies students.

Most Australians are horrified at the wave of anti-Semitism that has washed anew over Europe recently. Riots outside synagogues, chants of “gas the Jews” and the smashing of windows in Jewish restaurants evoke terrible memories of pre-war Europe. Political leaders across the continent have condemned these actions, rightly. 

We must not let that old hatred grip us in Australia. It is our obligation to each other in a multicultural and diverse society to call out extremism.

02 September 2014

Please accept our apology

From Arutz Sheva, 18 Aug 2014, by Kevin O'Neill:

The writer was born in 1951 and is married with 2 sons. He was the pastor of a church for twenty-years and lives in England, attends an Evangelical church and visits, fortnightly, an Orthodox Synagogue.

The stone monument and viewpoint on the beautiful hill 23 miles south of London Bridge says:  In Grateful Remembrance of Leopold Salomons of Norbury Park Who Gave Box Hill To The Nation 1914.  It was in danger of being developed and a Jew, Salomons, stepped in. The view is captivating.

This little undramatic action is typical of the Jewish people. Their names appear with predictable regularity with regard to charities and matters of social concern.

To my Jewish friends, for nearly two thousand years you were dispersed amongst us and yet in all that time there is not one record of State insurrection. Wherever you have set up home you have sought to become part of the host society insofar as that society permitted you.

There are remarkably few Jewish names in the annals of criminality.
You have served your home countries in all wars, serving with honour and loyalty.
Wherever you have been accepted, prosperity has followed.
You have enriched us in the Arts, particularly Music. Likewise, in the area of Science and Medicine.

It may not please you but without you Christianity would be Saviourless.

The story which I related above about Leopold Salomons was hardly earth-shattering but multiply it many times and your influence on our society is insistent and undeniable. True, this influence has occasionally been negative, but that is the exception, not the rule.

When we forbade you from owning land, you became doctors and lawyers, when we barred you from the professions, you excelled at trade. You have been attacked, seasonally robbed of your hard-earned life-savings, your books destroyed, your holidays banned, and your response was to pack your few sticks and to gather what could be salvaged from the ruin and start again elsewhere, from scratch.  Occasionally we didn't allow you to take the sticks, they too were ours.  It was the unnameable Nazi who said that you were to be left only your eyes, with which to weep.

We curse you to "Go home to Israel!" And, when you are there, we cry, "Get out of Israel!"  In Israel you have had to hermetically seal yourselves in, a barrier to the side, a dome above, and sonar below, away from the bullies and the haters. The situation is a crying shame.

And you endure.  For you are the people that cannot die. All others pass away, except the eternal Jew. We may despise you, be jealous of you, misunderstand you and narrow our eyes at you, or we may love you and admire you, we may care about your happiness and your future. But, ultimately, it will make no difference to your destiny, you march to an unheard tune, a sad and merry tune that the wind catches and is gone, perplexing to us Gentiles.

You are more than us and less than us. 'More' because you are dreamers on your way from the fiery Mount where none of us have been, and a noble dream is priceless. 'Less' because your high calling is not yet realised, in fact, it seems farther off today than it ever did. It eludes your grasp. Hence you are more incomplete than the rest of us, there's something unfinished about you, but that too is your glory and will not be taken from you.

You will never rest until we all rest. And we will not find rest until you do.  We pass you on the road with a nod and secret smile and then turn to watch you go. The wandering Jew, clutching an unforgettable vision.

I have a request for you, you who have been hounded and torn through all time and every place and have made it miraculously, into the 21st century free of self pity and possessing a loving concern for others, even your tormentors.

My request is, will you accept our apology

Before God, our God, comes to us and asks "How did you treat my people?"