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Cyber Attacks against Israeli Attempts to Produce COVID-19 Vaccine

Israel Channel 12 News military and security correspondent Nir Dvori reported Monday that attempts have been made to sabotage Israel's ability to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. These took the form of a cyber attack against the Israeli research institutes that are attempting to produce drugs to treat the disease as well as to find a protective vaccine. This is not an attempt to steal information or intelligence, but to attack and sabotage efforts to combat the coronavirus. No damage was done to the research institutes as a result of the attacks. Initial speculation has blamed Iran for the cyber-attack. Israel and Iran have engaged in a cyber-war recently Last month, Iran was reportedly behind a cyber-attack on Israel's water infrastructure. Israel reportedly retaliated by launching a cyber-attack against on the Shahid Rajee terminal at the Bandar Abbas port in Iran.

Survey: 20% of British People Believe COVID is a Jewish Conspiracy

By the Jerusalem Post
One in five English people believe that Jews created COVID-19 to collapse the economy for financial gain, a newly-released study by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford has revealed. The finding came as part of a wider survey in attitudes toward the virus and the measures taken to prevent its spread, which found that there was a strong undercurrent of mistrust over official advice on the virus within the public. "Increasingly as the lockdown has gone on the signs of conspiracy beliefs forming has become greater," study leader Daniel Freeman told The Jerusalem Post. "In the UK there has even been the setting fire of mobile phone masks linked to a particular coronavirus conspiracy belief. We were most interested to see if the conspiracy beliefs led to people disregarding the important public health measures to reduce the epidemic." A professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford, Freeman is also a consultant clinical psychologist at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. The Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives Survey (OCEANS), was published in the journal Psychological Medicine on Friday. It surveyed 2,500 adults who were representative of the English population according to age, gender, region and income, on their attitudes toward the government narrative on coronavirus and related conspiracy theories between May 4 and May 11. As explained in the paper, the respondents were asked to what extent they agreed with 48 conspiracy statements. Covering topics such as general conspiracy theories about the origin and the spread of the virus and the government's response, the statements were crafted looking at both mainstream and alternative sites. Presented with the statement "Jews have created the virus to collapse the economy for financial gain," 5.3% of the interviewees "agreed a little," 6.8% "agreed moderately," 4.6% "agreed a lot," and 2.4% "agreed completely," while some 80.8% did not agree with it at all. Similar figures were recorded for conspiracy theories involving other groups: while 80.1% of respondents did not agree with the statement "Muslims are spreading the virus as an attack on Western values," 19.9% did to some extent, including 2.4% who agreed completely. More than a quarter of respondents thought that "celebrities are being paid to say that they have coronavirus," and that politicians, for example the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, "have faked having coronavirus." Nearly half (45.4%) believed to some extent that "coronavirus is a bio-weapon developed by China to destroy the West." "The conspiracy beliefs varied hugely in content, often contradicting each other, but if a person believed one idea they were more likely to endorse others," Freeman highlighted. "If a person blamed Jews, they were also more likely to blame Muslims, Bill Gates and pharmaceutical companies too. What we are observing is most likely a conspiracy mentality: a way of seeing the world that is marked by antipathy to official or mainstream accounts or to those in higher status positions." The researchers also found that those who endorse conspiracy theories also reported a lower adherence to the authorities' guidelines to contain the virus outbreak. Regarding their demographic features, they tended to be associated with "higher levels of religiosity" and a "slightly more right wing political orientation," as explained in the paper. "Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs are more likely to be held in the young, those who feel marginalized, and those at the extremes of political belief," the professor said. "Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs were also more likely in those who already believed other conspiracy theories such as that climate change is a hoax or that vaccination data are fabricated. "Individuals who obtained most of their information about coronavirus from the BBC had lower levels of coronavirus conspiracy thinking. Conspiracy beliefs were more likely in those who obtained their coronavirus information from friends, social media and YouTube," he added. The survey comes shortly after NGO Hope Not Hate published a similar survey of their own, conducted between February and April 2020, which found that 13% of Britons believe that Jews have "undue control of banks," while a substantial 38% said they "couldn't say for sure" or "didn't know." Moreover, at the beginning of April, the Community Security Trust, an organization that works to ensure the physical protection of British Jews and monitors anti-Semitic episodes and discourse, produced a report dedicated to "Coronavirus and the plague of anti-Semitism," featuring several examples of threats or accusations against Jews related to the pandemic that have appeared online. "The findings [of our study] are truly concerning. Rates of coronavirus conspiracy beliefs were higher than we anticipated. Only half of the population appear completely unaffected by such ideas. Highly disturbing ideas were endorsed by a significant minority," Freeman told the Post. "It looks like a fracture in society is exposed, just as we need a collective response to combat the virus. The coronavirus conspiracy theories appear to have built on long-standing prejudices and distorted ideas. Mistrust appears to have gone mainstream," the professor added, highlighting that the fact that conspiracy ideas, including those about Jews, were most likely to be held by young people, which is also a worrisome element. The scientists will conduct further research on the topic. "We are planning to take this work forward, in particular finding out the best ways to reduce the coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and make accurate information more effective," Freeman concluded. "That needs to be against a wider backdrop of building up trust again in our important institutions and reducing the sense for too many people that they are in the margins. In this way, when an individual sees a conspiracy theory they may be more likely to step back and evaluate it correctly." "Anti-Semitism is not about to disappear from the world, especially from Europe," the JNF-UK Chairman Samuel Hayek commented in a statement to the Post. "Anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in Britain and England. Every situation like the corona pandemic reinforces anti-Semites in their basic view that Jews are guilty of all the troubles in the world. Therefore, I'm not surprised that with the outbreak, anti-Semitism is growing. "The Jewish community in Britain, and in all Europe, needs to understand that antisemitism will only intensify as a result of the deep demographic change that the continent is undergoing. Therefore, they must realize that the only viable and safe alternative is to immigrate to Israel," he added.

Palestinians: Eating with a Jew is a Crime

By Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute (Commentary) It is no secret that many Palestinians are opposed to any form of normalization with Israel. For the past several years, these Palestinians have been waging smear campaigns against any Palestinians and Arabs who have allegedly engaged in normalization activities with Israel, particularly meetings between the two sides. It appears, however, that the bar has just been lowered. Recently, eating with an Israeli or even watching a television series that sheds a positive light on Jews has come to constitute the despised "normalization" and is considered a crime and an act of treason. Last week, several Palestinians were invited by Jewish settler leaders to a Ramadan iftar meal, with which Muslims end their daily fast at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. Scenes of Muslims and Jews sitting to eat together are a fine example of coexistence and peace between the two sides. These are the kind of heart-warming events that promote tolerance and lay the foundations for real peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead of welcoming the iftar meal, many Palestinians are now expressing outrage over the encounter and condemning it as a treacherous act. They are also denouncing the Palestinian participants, dubbing them as "traitors." Some of the Palestinians who attended the iftar meal predicted the outrage, and requested in advance that their names and photos not be made public. Palestinians, in other words, are afraid for their lives because they committed the "crime" of eating with Israelis.

Referring to the event as the "normalization iftar," several Palestinian websites claimed that the Israelis and Palestinians who ate together had "discussed ways of ending the Palestinian resistance and promoting economic cooperation between the two sides." "The resistance" is the term Palestinians use to describe terrorist attacks against Israel. Those who are angry with the "normalization iftar" are actually saying: "How dare any Palestinian talk about halting terrorist attacks against Israel." In addition, they are angry because Israelis and Palestinians had the audacity to talk about "economic cooperation" between the two sides. Economic cooperation does not serve the agenda of the terrorists. Terrorists want Palestinians to continue living in abject poverty so that they can go on blaming Israel for Palestinian misery. Unemployed Palestinians are much easier to target for recruitment as terrorists than Palestinians who are able to feed their families. Last year, Palestinians waged a similar campaign against another iftar meal that brought Jews and Muslims together in the city of Hebron. That event too sparked a massive wave of condemnations among Palestinians, with many calling for punishing the Palestinian "traitors" who dared to accept an invitation from Jews to share the event. The Palestine Information Center, a website affiliated with Hamas, ran a cartoon condemning meals with Jews in which a Palestinian infant, soaked in blood, is lying on a plate decorated with the Israeli flag. In the past few weeks, Palestinian anti-normalization activists have also been waging a campaign against a drama series on Saudi Arabian television that depicts the life of Jews in the Gulf before 1948. The Palestinians are enraged because the drama, called "Umm Haroun" ("Mother of Aaron"), depicts good relations between Jews and Arabs in some Gulf States. The Palestinians claim that by humanizing Jews, the drama aims to pave the way for normalization between some Gulf states and Israel. The latest campaign against the iftar meal and the television drama came as Palestinians marked the 72nd anniversary of "Nakba Day" ("Day of Catastrophe"), a reference to Israel's independence in 1948. On this anniversary, various Palestinian factions renewed their fierce opposition to any form of normalization with Israel and again vowed to thwart President Donald Trump's plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the "Deal of the Century." Addressing Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Hamas, the Iranian-backed Palestinian group ruling the Gaza Strip, said: "We categorically reject all forms of normalization with the occupation. Normalization is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and a violation of their rights." In another warning to the Arab countries, a representative of various Palestinian factions said: "It is not permissible for a party or group to engage in it [normalization]. Those who support normalization must realize that America will not protect them, and that is why they should reconsider their shameful positions."

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who in recent months has been shuttling between Qatar and Turkey, also sent a threatening message not only to Palestinians, but also to all Arabs. Last week, Haniyeh announced that "normalization with the Zionist enemy is considered a big crime and sin that can't be forgiven." He added that normalization with Israel is also considered a "stab" and "betrayal" of the Palestinians and all Arabs and Muslims. He called for "practical steps to criminalize and ban all forms of normalization and prevent the enemy from infiltrating Arab and Islamic capitals." The Palestinian anti-normalization campaign is now aimed at intimidating Arabs and Muslims, and not only Palestinians. It is no wonder, then, that relations between the Palestinians and some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, have recently been strained. Many Saudis who are furious with the Palestinian threats and smear campaign against their country for its alleged rapprochement with Israel have responded through social media platforms by strongly condemning the Palestinians. Saudi pundits are now believed to be behind a trending hashtag on Twitter, entitled, "#The_Palestinian_cause_is_not_my_cause." The Palestinian smear campaign is taking place amid silence from the international community and media. They seem indifferent to a rather crucial question: if a Palestinian or Muslim cannot share a meal with an Israeli or watch a TV drama about the life of Jews in Arab countries without being labelled a criminal, how would any Palestinian leader dare to sign a peace agreement with Israel? (Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.)

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