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US takes on anti-Israel BDS activities on university campuses

U.S. Education Department decides to adopt international definition of anti-Semitism - Decision praised by Zionist Organization of America - Definition recognizes that Jew-hatred can be camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism, says ZOA. Israel Hayom Staff

In a blow to BDS, the U.S. Education Department has adopted the international definition anti-Semitism | Photo: Getty Images

The U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights has decided to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism, which defines Judaism not only as a religion but also an ethnicity and includes holding Jews responsible for Israel's actions as a form of anti-Semitism, Israel Hayom learned Wednesday.

According to a letter written by Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus to the Zionist Organization of America, anyone who acts "to deny the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, on the grounds that the State of Israel's existence is a racist endeavor" or applies double standards to Israel that it does not apply to any other democratic country will be deemed an anti-Semite.

The ZOA lauded what it called the "groundbreaking decision," saying, "This definition accurately addresses how anti-Semitism is expressed today; it recognizes that Jew-hatred can be camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism. The OCR is not only reassessing the evidence already in the record; the agency is also going to determine whether a hostile environment for Jewish students currently exists at Rutgers [University]."

Pro-Palestinian activists in the United States have warned the move will hinder pro-Palestinian efforts as any such activity will be deemed anti-Semitic.

In 2011, the ZOA filed a complaint against Rutgers alleging that at an anti-Israel event that organizers had said would be free and open to the public, the Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action group discriminated against Jewish and pro-Israel students by charging them admission.

As evidence, the ZOA cited an email in which one of the event's organizers wrote, "We need to start charging because 150 Zionists just showed up! ... If someone looks like a supporter, they can get in for free."

While the OCR looked into the matter, it ultimately closed the investigation, citing insufficient evidence of anti-Semitism. At the time, the U.S. definition of anti-Semitism referred to Judaism as a religion only.

The ZOA appealed the decision.

In a letter to the ZOA, Marcus said he was vacating the 2014 decision by the Obama administration and re-examining the case as possible discrimination against an ethnic group.

"The visual perception of the presence of '150 Zionists' referenced in the email could have been rooted in a perception of Jewish ancestry or ethnic characteristics common to the group," Marcus wrote.

"In cases such as this, it is important to determine whether terms such as 'Zionist' are actually code for 'Jewish.'"

The ZOA issued a statement saying, "It took a leader like Kenneth Marcus to finally decide the ZOA's appeal and to also make it clear that OCR will finally be using a definition of anti-Semitism that makes sense and that reflects how anti-Semitism is so frequently expressed today, particularly on our college campuses.

"Hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine try to convince others that their attacks on Zionism and Israel are legitimate political discourse. But as the State Department definition of anti-Semitism recognizes, these attacks are often a mask for Jew-hatred, plain and simple."

The move is the latest in a series of pro-Israel steps taken by the Trump administration. It follows the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. Embassy to the city; cut funding to UNRWA, the U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees; and close the PLO mission in Washington.

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Who is pushing Jews out of academia in the US?

Expert on struggle against BDS says steps taken by Trump administration against anti-Israel groups on campuses are the critical response. Arutz Sheva Staff, 12/09/18 20:19

BDS operatives
BDS operatives

Dr. Sharona Aharoni-Goldenberg, an expert on the struggle against BDS, says that the Trump administration's decision, according to which anti-Israel activity on college campuses will be defined as anti-Semitism, is a turning point in the fight against anti-Semitic activity on campuses.

"This is a very important decision. The BDS movement today, which really appears to be activated by an invisible hand - and the feeling is that it is funded by totalitarian elements - works to remove Jews from academia. There is real activity against Israeli lecturers, regardless of their position or opinion, but rather because they are Israelis," Aharoni-Goldenberg said in an interview with Israel Hayom.

"The activity is not just against Israeli lecturers. If you are a Jewish professor who uploads a post for Israel, you will be fired," she says. "It's not a parable, US lecturers who worked against `Apartheid Week' were fired from the institutions at which they taught. The same applies to many Jewish students who simply feel uncomfortable on campus."

She adds that a recent study revealed a close connection between the activities of lecturers who support boycotts against Israel in a certain institution and a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in the same institution.

"There is a phenomenon of pushing the Jews out of academia in the United States, Britain and Europe. We have no clear data, but from background conversations with activists in the Jewish communities, there is a feeling that there is an invisible hand that works to keep Israeli lecturers, Jewish lecturers and Jewish students out of academia. Once the academy begins to be selective on the basis of race, religion and nationality, it means that the situation is very tough. The academy represents the future intelligence of the future leaders, and if there is an infiltration of anti-Semitism then we must wake up," says Dr. Aharoni-Goldenberg.

"This anti-Semitism is against Israelis and against Jews, regardless of their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The boycott is also against people on the left," she said. "The BDS position is that we have to bring 5 million Palestinians back into the Green Line and destroy Israel."

"There is discrimination here, which appears to be managed from afar, and there is a feeling that thugs are being sent out from totalitarian states and that they are being funded. They are talk about human rights, as it were, but these are catchwords, and when you dig a little deeper, you see that there is a violation of the human rights of Jews and Israelis everywhere. This is on the way to achieving their goal, which is to destroy Israel," she concluded.

BDS, campuses


Cynthia Nixon's unusual bagel order grosses out New Yorkers

By Gabe FriedmanSeptember 12, 2018 2:19pm Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon at a debate with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2018. (Craig Ruttle-Pool/Getty Images)

(JTA) — As Cynthia Nixon's gubernatorial campaign winds down before Thursday's New York primary, her policy priorities are not the only things showing up in headlines: Her bagel preferences are too.

Nixon was caught placing what seemed like a normal order at Zabar's on Sunday — one with a lot of lox, cream cheese and capers. But she had it all put on a cinnamon raisin bagel, Gothamist reported.

Nixon, who is hoping to pull off a huge upset and defeat incumbent Andrew Cuomo, was mocked across social media for the unusual marriage of sweet and salty breakfast fare (even by some of her supporters).

look, i'm still voting for her, but we need to talk about how cynthia nixon apparently puts LOX on CINNAMON RAISIN BAGELS, which seems basically criminal to me

— ???????????????? '??' ?????????? ?(?????)? (@meg__clark) September 10, 2018

In case you think people are overreacting to Cynthia Nixon's bagel order, we aren't. It's shocking. And I'm still voting for her.

— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) September 11, 2018

Putting lox and capers on a cinnamon raisin bagel should constitute a felony in New York.

— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) September 10, 2018

Lox her up?

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) September 10, 2018

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Nixon sounded confused about the uproar.

"I'm stunned. This is my bagel of choice for a few decades now. It's never been public knowledge, and I really am fascinated that people are so emotional about it," Nixon said.

Over the weekend, the Democratic Party of New York sent a mailer to Jewish households that accuses Nixon of being a supporter of the Boycott Israel movement and for being silent on rising anti-Semitism. Nixon called the move "disgusting" and responded by stating that she does not support BDS . ADVERTISEMENT: This holiday season, meet Jews who have made the world a better place. Visit JEWISH LIVES, and explore the extraordinary biography series by Yale University Press. Get 30% off + free shipping. Gabe Friedman is JTA's Associate Editor for Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @GabeFriedman563 Get JTA's Daily Briefing in your inbox
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Gillum Aligns With Groups That Support Boycotts of Israel Associations fueling questions from Florida's large pro-Israel community Share
Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum / Getty Images

BY: Adam Kredo Follow @Kredo0
September 12, 2018 5:00 am

Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has aligned himself with several prominent anti-Semitic organizations known for promoting boycotts of Jewish goods and individuals, fueling questions about how the Democratic candidate would handle issues of import to the state's large pro-Israel community.

Gillum, who is riding a progressive a wave of young Democrats highly critical of Israel, is running against Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a prominent Israel supporter. The Democrat has a history of working with several organizations promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, an anti-Semitic movement that seeks to wage economic and political warfare on the Jewish state.

Gillum's open association with these organizations is raising questions in the pro-Israel community, particularly as U.S. states seek to slash ties with BDS organizations and prevent taxpayer funds from supporting these movements. While Gillum has committed to "push back against anti-Israel efforts, like BDS," he has not distanced himself from several organizations leading the charge.

DeSantis, meanwhile, has positioned himself firmly against the BDS movement and is the co-author of legislation that will protect American businesses from being pressured into backing Israel boycotts. The issue is likely to be raised with both candidates as the gubernatorial contest heats up in a state with many Jewish voters.

DeSantis said he is concerned and dismayed by Gillum's ties to radical anti-Israel groups.

"In all my years in Florida, I've never seen a candidate for state office who has been as anti-Israel as Andrew Gillum," DeSantis told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. "He opposes our embassy in Jerusalem, he does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's eternal and indivisible capital, and he even criticizes Israel's response against Hamas [militants] in May of 2018. His anti-Israel views are part and parcel of his overall far left wing, Democrat socialist agenda. He doesn't share the values of the vast majority of people in Florida with his position."

Gillum could face tough questions about his associations with several anti-Israel groups that support boycotts and have ties to individuals convicted of committing terror acts against Israel.

On such group, Dream Defenders, has publicly endorsed Gillum, describing him as one of the "most progressive" candidates in the country.

Gillum has touted the organization in public remarks, saying he is "pleased and proud" to be endorsed by it.

Dream Defenders, a Florida-based advocacy group that has emerged as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, supports efforts to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and is intertwined with backers of the BDS movement, which has made common cause with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dream Defenders routinely criticizes Israel for perpetuating what it describes as a "genocide" of the Palestinians and has led at least "two delegations to Palestine" in recent years, according to the organization's website.

"Palestine is the site of a continued settler colonial project, the state of Israel," Dream Defenders writes on its website, employing language used by many anti-Israel groups to delegitimize Israel. "The colonial project was born out of a political ideology called Zionism, established in the late 19th century."

On one of its 2016 trips to the region, Dream Defenders employed convicted terrorist Mahmoud Jeddah as a tour guide. Jeddah, a onetime member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, spent 17 years in an Israeli prison for planting four hand grenades on a Jerusalem street, wounding nine civilians. He was later released in a prisoner swap.

One of the group's co-founders and former members, Ahmad Abuznaid, has a long history of anti-Israel activism and of promoting the BDS movement, according to the watchdog Canary Mission, which tracks anti-Semitic activism online.

As with numerous organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, Dream Defenders has adopted Palestine as one of its pet issues and regularly promotes anti-Israel materials, according to an investigation by Legal Insurrection, which has documented the organization's evolution.

Gillum has also supported and attended the Rockwood Leadership Institute, an organization financed by the New Israel Fund, a chief promoter of Israel boycotts and materials maligning the Jewish state.

One alum of the institute is Linda Sarsour, a prominent anti-Israel activist who has disseminated anti-Semitic materials and has been labeled by pro-Israel organizations as a chief promoter of the BDS movement.

On Aug. 29, Gillum appeared on a podcast called GHOGH, hosted by Jamarlin Martin, where he was asked about the recent campaign by Hamas to infiltrate terrorist cells across the Israel-Gaza border under cover of civilian rioting.

Martin referred to some "60 Palestinians who were throwing rocks and protesting what I view as apartheid, they don't deserve to be shot. Can you speak to the 60 Palestinians that were murdered and the lack of a Democratic [Party] condemnation of that human rights violation?"

Gillum responded to the claim Palestinians were murdered while protesting apartheid by saying, "None of us can look at those images and be okay with it … at the hands of this [Trump] administration, we now have even cited more violence by recognizing Jerusalem to be the capital [of Israel] and also to locate the United States embassy there, again just adding more fuel to the fire. I think it was a provocation by the president that was unnecessary and it has been costly from a human toll."

Later in the interview, Gillum characterized Israel's response to rocket attacks on its citizens as "in my opinion, an outsized response that has created a humanitarian crisis." This entry was posted in National Security and tagged 2018 Election, Israel, Ron DeSantis. Bookmark the permalink. Share

Adam Kredo Email Adam | Full Bio | RSS Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo's work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is Follow @Kredo0

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Iran's foreign minister sends Jewish new year greetings on Twitter So where is Assad's Greeting?

"As the sun gives way to the moon, I wish all my Jewish compatriots and Jews worldwide a Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony. Happy Rosh Hashanah," Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets - He also tweets photos of ceremonies held by Iranian Jews. Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif | Photo: Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted Jewish new year greetings to Jews in Iran and around the world on Sunday, as tensions mount between the Islamic republic and Israel over Tehran's regional role.

"As the sun gives way to the moon, I wish all my Jewish compatriots and Jews worldwide a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony. Happy Rosh Hashanah," Zarif said in his tweet.

Iran does not recognize Israel and warned last month it would hit U.S. and Israeli targets if it were attacked by the United States after President Donald Trump's security adviser said Washington would exert maximum pressure on Tehran going beyond economic sanctions.

Zarif, who has sent similar greetings in the past along with President Hassan Rouhani, also tweeted pictures of ceremonies held among Iran's Jewish minority.

Iran's ancient Jewish community has slumped to an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 from 85,000 at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution but is believed to be the biggest in the Middle East outside Israel.

Israelis bewildered by Iranian president's Rosh Hashanah greeting

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister tweeted new year salutations to Iran's Jewish community.

September 7, 2013 01:31
3 minute read.


United at Rosh Hashana, Obama and Rouhani wish Jews a Happy New Year >
Iranian FM: Tehran never denied the Holocaust, the man who did is gone

Hassan Rouhani.

Hassan Rouhani Iran flag in background 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)

Israelis reacted with a mixture of pleasant surprise and wary skepticism on Friday to reports that the new Iranian president and his foreign minister had both issued greetings to mark the Jewish New Year.

Relations between the two countries have been dire for years, with Israel threatening to attack the Islamic Republic over fears it is planning to build nuclear weapons that could one day jeopardize the survival of the Jewish state.

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Iran denies it wants an atomic bomb, but former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who left office last month, regularly riled Israel by calling for the destruction of the "Zionist entity."

In a change of tone, his successor Hassan Rouhani and the new foreign minister, Javad Zarif, appeared to issue tweets in English wishing Jews a good Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish new year that is being celebrated this week. Iran has long declared an official respect for the Jewish faith while condemning Israel.

"Happy Rosh Hashanah," tweeted Zarif on a profile that notes his career as a diplomat, academic and "Uni of Denver alum."

The reported greetings came just as Israel was settling into a long holiday weekend and there was no official reaction.


Ordinary Israelis were torn about their meaning.

"Gosh I hadn't heard about that, but I think it's very nice of him," said Julia Blus, 25, who works at an amusement park at Manara Cliffs. Next to the Lebanese border, it overlooks hostile territory controlled by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.

By contrast, Roni Benjamin, 66, a bank executive from Kfar Saba in central Israel, said: "It doesn't mean anything; I don't see any real change there ... What (Rouhani) really needs to do is to understand that we are not his enemies."

Rouhani's election in June has encouraged speculation of a more conciliatory approach to foreign affairs from Tehran, though the president's power is heavily circumscribed by the clerical hierarchy and Israel's government remains very wary.

Confusing matters, Israeli news websites quoted an official in the Iranian president's office denying any New Year greetings had been sent and saying Rouhani's English-language Twitter account, used during his election campaign, was not active.

There was no denial from Zarif and the minister went further to push back on a comment that Iran denies the Nazi Holocaust: "Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone," he tweeted, apparently meaning Ahmadinejad.

On Facebook, he wrote: "We condemn the massacre of Jews by the Nazis and we condemn the massacre of Palestinians by the Zionists."

Iran is home to the second largest Jewish community in the Middle East - albeit only a few thousand people following mass emigration last century. It denies Israel's right to exist but even Ahmadinejad embraced some Jews - as long as they rejected the Zionist movement that established the Israeli state.

Neither Rouhani or Zarif mentioned the word "Israel."

"It's hard to feel flattered about this form of anti-Semitism that says Jews are OK as long as they don't dare have their own sovereign state," said Michal Bachar, a 36-year-old from Jerusalem.

Arieh Rosen, 33, a cultural representative at the Polish Institute, said the New Year greetings were "cute" but did not generate much talk among his family and friends at holiday gatherings. "I suppose it is a calculated PR stunt," he said.

Naama Shilony, 33, a mother of two from Jerusalem, said her family did discuss the tweets. And while her relatives thought it was "bullshit", she said it had made her happy.

"It was a positive encouraging sign," she said. "I just regret it was made on Twitter, which is an informal platform."

Iran has been at the forefront of Israeli policy-making for years. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has urged his Western allies not to be lulled by conciliatory words from Rouhani.

In his own New Year address, Netanyahu again stressed that tackling Iran's nuclear program was "of paramount importance."

He said: "We simply cannot allow the world's most dangerous regime to obtain the world's most dangerous weapon."

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Netanyahu dismisses Iran's Rosh Hashanah greetings

Prime minister says Tehran trying to divert world's attention from nuclear program, will be judged on actions, not words

By TOI staff 7 September 2013, 9:26 pm 9


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening shrugged off Rosh Hashanah wishes conveyed by Iranian officials on social media earlier in the week, saying Tehran would be judged on actions, not words.

"I am not impressed by [holiday] greetings coming from a regime that only last week threatened to destroy Israel," the prime minister said, referring to threats by Iran to retaliate against Israel for an American military strike against the Assad regime following its alleged chemical weapons use.

Both President Hasan Rouhani's staff and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted "Happy Rosh Hashanah" in English to their followers, to the surprise of Western onlookers. Zarif also condemned the Holocaust, denouncing "the massacre of Jews by the Nazis."

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Happy Rosh Hashanah

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 5, 2013

Netanyahu said the aim of Iran's latest Twitter campaign is only to divert the world's attention from the fact that, even after Rouhani's election, Tehran continues to develop nuclear weapons which would threaten Israel and the world at large.

"The Iranian regime will be examined only by its actions, and not by salutations," Netanyahu said.

Zarif, in a follow-up conversation with California Senator Nancy Pelosi's daughter, clarified that any Holocaust denial was done by a man who is "now gone" — a reference to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

@sfpelosi Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 5, 2013

Despite the hubbub over Iran's seeming New Year outreach to the Jewish world, Netanyahu issued a stolid warning to the international community, saying it "should not be caught up in illusions, but require actions and not words."

On Wednesday, Jews around the world received an unexpected holiday greeting from someone claiming to be Rouhani, who took to his Twitter account to say, "As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah." But Iranian officials said the president was not responsible, and that the account was presumably that of a fan. read more:

Israel & the Region Mohammad Javad Zarif Iran Benjamin Netanyahu Rosh Hashanah Hassan Rouhani


Where Twin Towers stood, a cavernous museum nears completion

Hallowed artifacts at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum tell individual stories of the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people

By Meghan Barr 7 September 2013, 7:49 pm 1


    A visitor to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum takes in the sight as he walks past the museum, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in New York. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    A visitor to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum takes in the sight as he walks past the museum, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 in New York. (photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK (AP) — Far below the earth where the twin towers once stood, a cavernous museum on hallowed ground is finally nearing completion. Amid the construction machinery and the dust, powerful artifacts of death and destruction have assumed their final resting places inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. A vast space that travels down to the bedrock upon which the towers were built, the museum winds its way deeper and deeper underground, taking visitors on a journey to the very bottom. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up Already on display are several pieces of mangled steel and metal recovered from the World Trade Center towers, each one telling a different story of the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The first relics that visitors will see are two massive pieces of structural steel that rose from the base of the North Tower. Now the rusty red columns soar above ground into the sunlit glass atrium that encloses the entrance to the museum. "They're so large — about 70 feet tall — that we built the museum around them," explained Joseph Daniels, president of the memorial and museum. Down a long ramp, visitors will peer down to glimpse the last piece of steel removed from ground zero in 2002, which sits inside a gaping silvery chamber that drops to the lowest level of the museum. Further down the ramp, visitors will discover a mangled and twisted piece of steel that Daniels calls "impact steel." That's because this piece of the building was actually destroyed by the impact of Flight 11 slamming into the North Tower. "You can see how, at the bottom, the columns are bent back," Daniels said. "That's because Flight 11's nose, when it pierced the building, it bent steel like that." Perhaps the most chilling part of the museum, in its current form, is a battered staircase that leads down to bedrock, where the exhibits will be displayed. Sandwiched between an escalator and a staircase that will be used by museum visitors, the "survivor's stairs" provided an escape route for hundreds of people who fled from the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. "You're literally following the same pathway that hundreds followed on 9/11 to survival, to safety," said museum director Alice Greenwald. "In some respects, what we're saying to our visitors is, we all live in a world now that was defined by this event. And in that sense, we're all survivors of 9/11." There are more relics, some of them shrouded in plastic or white drapery, awaiting their public debut: The "flag steel" shaped like a ribbon that resembled a flag blowing in the breeze. The T-shaped steel column and crossbeam that became known as the "World Trade Center cross," a piece of the rubble that became a symbol of hope to hundreds of recovery workers. The fire truck from Engine Company 21, whose cab was destroyed while the rest of the truck remained intact. When completed in the spring, the museum will transport people through time from events leading to the 9/11 attacks all the way to the current events of today. And even when its doors open, the museum will always remain a work in progress. "This is a museum, I like to say, that's not about answers," Greenwald said. "It's a museum about questions. And we end with questions, and we then invite the public to participate in that dialogue." Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. read more:
Israel & the Region Jewish Times 9/11 attacks New York 18 shares


Erdogan wishes Jews a Happy New Year

Turkish President extends warm wishes to the Jewish community celebrating Rosh Hashanah in Turkey and around the world. Elad Benari, Canada, 09/09/18 22:45

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday extended his warm wishes to the Jewish community celebrating Rosh Hashanah in Turkey and around the world.

"We are members of a deep civilization, who give great importance to freedom of religion and belief, and consider social, cultural, religious and human diversity as wealth," said Erdogan, according to the Anadolu news agency.

He added that Turkey protects the rights of its citizens to live their culture, religion and traditions freely without facing any discrimination.

"I wish all Jewish people, especially our citizens a happy Rosh Hashanah festival, which is one of the important religious festivals of Judaism," said Erdogan.

While the Turkish President is known for his criticism of Israel, he usually extends holiday greetings to Turkey's Jewish citizens, most notably before Hanukkah.

American officials several years ago expressed deep concern over the rising levels of anti-Semitism in Turkey, after a report revealed that young Turkish Jews were leaving the country in droves as a result of the anti-Semitism.

Turkey has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes since the rise of Erdogan's Islamist AKP party. Although violent attacks are still relatively rare, anti-Jewish incitement has become commonplace.

(Arutz Sheva's North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Rosh Hashanah in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

Turkey, Rosh Hashana, Recep Tayyip Erdogan


Netflix film `The Angel' spotlights Egyptian spy who helped Israel

By Naomi PfeffermanSeptember 12, 2018 4:55pm

Marwan Kenzari, left, and Hannah Ware in "The Angel." Kenzari plays Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan. (Nick Briggs/Netflix)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — In 1993, filmmaker Ariel Vromen was part of an Israeli air force rescue unit sent in to Lebanon to evacuate both Jewish and Arab soldiers wounded during a battle. During the fighting, two of Vromen's closest friends died in front of his eyes.

For several months afterward, he suffered debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder. But Vromen, now 45, took solace knowing that he and his fellow troops were "under a certain oath to take care of soldiers from Lebanon or Syria as much as we would give attention to Jews and Israelis," he said in a telephone interview.

Vromen also recalled the disconnect of fighting just beyond Israel's northern border, when he would be "laughing and playing backgammon, and then in less than 30 minutes we'd find ourselves in a battle zone or a disaster area," he recalled.

The contradictory nature of his military service is one reason Vromen (best known for directing the American thriller "The Iceman") was drawn to direct the spy thriller "The Angel," which premiers on Netflix Sept. 14. The film spotlights the enigmatic Egyptian Ashraf Marwan, a confidant of President Anwar Sadat who eventually turned into a spy for Israel. He famously warned the Mossad about the planned Arab surprise attack that started the Yom Kippur War in 1973, preventing what could have been even greater Israeli casualties.

Ashraf Marwan (played in the film by Marwan Kenzari) was the son-in-law of Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser and later became close with Nasser's successor, Sadat. Yet one day in the 1960s, he called the Israeli embassy from a telephone booth in London and offered his services as a spy. The Mossad enlisted his efforts, and Marwan passed valuable information to the Israelis, putting his life in serious danger along the way.

In 2007, several years after he was publicly outed as a spy, Marwan fell to his death from a balcony in London at the age of 63 — which may or may not have been suicide. Vromen, for his part, said he believes Marwan's death was a murder, given that the suspicious guests various Egyptian diplomats, arms dealers and dissidents over the years have been chalked up as "death by balcony."

The filmmaker — who was raised near Tel Aviv but now lives in Los Angeles — came to the project two years ago, when an Israeli producer gave him an early draft of the screenplay, based on Uri Bar-Joseph's popular book, "The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel." (Marwan's code name was The Angel.) But after reading the book, Vromen was at first reluctant to direct the movie.

"I felt it was very one-sided … a very coherent story but told from the Israeli point of view," he said. "So I started to use a lot of my relationships in the Arab world to get into the Egyptian side of the story."

Ashraf Marwan supplied the Mossad with valuable information in the 70s. (Nick Briggs/Netflix)

One of Marwan's best friends eventually served as a valuable source of information for the film.

Vromen regards Marwan as a hero for Israel who had more complex motivations beyond the notion of helping to create peace in the Middle East.

"His motivation early on was as a young man who was poor, lost and humiliated by his father-in-law," the filmmaker said. Nasser apparently viewed Marwan with disdain, due in part to his dearth of funds at the time and his family's lack of status, Vromen said.

"I'm very confident that when he first approached the Mossad it was an avenging emotional path," the filmmaker added.

It was also partly a mercenary decision.

"I don't know of any spy who didn't want to be paid," Vromen said.

In fact, the filmmaker continued, Marwan used his Mossad fees to create the seeds of what would become a $3 billion business empire by the time of his death.

Marwan's fortunes began to shift after Nasser died and he became a close aide to Sadat, with access to state secrets. As he became more successful, his motivation to spy shifted towards creating "a path to make peace between the countries," Vromen theorized.

"I really think he was also putting all his efforts to serve Sadat," the director added. "He knew the only way for the president to sustain power would be if he could [persuade] the Israelis to give the Sinai back to the Egyptians."

Even so, a number of Egyptians so far have criticized Vromen's movie on social and other media platforms.

The Egyptians have long claimed that Marwan was a cunning double agent who actually duped the Israelis into funding expensive war mobilization efforts in two false alarms prior to the 1973 war.

Many Egyptians have dismissed the film as Israeli propaganda and denounced Vromen's casting of an Israeli actor to portray Sadat. Vromen counters that he at first approached a number of Egyptian actors who refused to participate in the film.

"Egyptians have cold feet about the movie," he said. "The assumption is that because I'm an Israeli, I am biased."

But Vromen insists he attempted to show both countries' side of the story.

"When I analyzed the character, money was a huge part of his persona," he said. "But I don't believe he could have risked what he risked, eventually, if he didn't have a bigger cause." ADVERTISEMENT: This holiday season, meet Jews who have made the world a better place. Visit JEWISH LIVES, and explore the extraordinary biography series by Yale University Press. Get 30% off + free shipping. Get JTA's Daily Briefing in your inbox
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