Ice Cream becomes controversial

Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott

The Ben & Jerry’s controversy isn’t about ice cream. It’s about terrorism and bigotry and the worst type of double standards that demonize the Jewish homeland and the people who live there.

Reprinted from Daily Alert, July 29, 2021

    • Ben and Jerry’s Rejected Pro-Peace Alternatives to Israel Boycott – Shiryn Ghermezian
      Susannah Levin, a graphic designer for Ben & Jerry’s for 21 years, told StandWithUs on Sunday that when she learned that the company was considering divesting from the West Bank, she proposed an alternate plan to a company executive. Levin suggested supporting a grassroots organization that promotes peace and coexistence, or backing Israeli and Palestinian educational organizations fighting hatred and incitement. She also proposed opening a partner shop in Ramallah and Jewish West Bank areas for both Palestinians and Israelis.
      Levin quit after the company moved forward with boycotting Israel. Since then, she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received. “People are calling me a hero. I’m just a Jew. I’m a person with some integrity. I decided to start speaking up because…I want people to know that other Jews or other people who care deeply for the Jewish people, you can speak up….Maybe I had an effect. At least I know that they heard something from the other side.”  (Algemeiner)
    • The Ben and Jerry’s Dispute Isn’t about Ice Cream – Dan Schnur
      The Ben & Jerry’s controversy isn’t about ice cream. It’s about terrorism and bigotry and the worst type of double standards that demonize the Jewish homeland and the people who live there. It’s the latest front in the ongoing battle that uses the threat of economic boycott and sanctions to pressure Israel into agreeing to empower its enemies and expose its citizens to an even greater threat of danger and death. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
    • BDS and Jerry’s – Editorial
      We’re not clear how exactly removing Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from grocery stores in the West Bank will benefit the Palestinians. The move appears to be primarily an act of guerrilla theater and a demonstration of base prejudice. The most common expression of anti-Semitism is the application of double standards to Jews and the Jewish state.
      There is no comparison between Israeli policy in the West Bank and the practices of the world’s greatest human rights abusers. Unilever happily does business in Northern Cyprus, occupied Tibet, and Xinjiang, home to Uyghur concentration camps. We won’t hold our breath for the ice cream boycott of China. But hey, there are no Jews in Xinjiang. We urge friends of Israel and the Jewish people to vote with their spoons. (Washington Free Beacon)
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Haredim don’t represent Judaism

blogs.timesofisrael.com

God doesn’t wear a Borsolino

Let’s not allow the Haredi community to kidnap the Judaism, which belongs to the entire Jewish people. That would be a tragic theft. The idea that haredi’ut defines Judaism is historically false and religiously wrong — and it does violence to our Jewish identity. The truth is that many of the central practices of the Haredi community run squarely against what God, the Torah, and the talmudic rabbis demand of Jews, and what will sustain Israel going forward.

Eugene Korn
Eugene Korn
Times of Israel, July 14, 20121

God may be in Bnei Brak, but He is also in Israel’s policy-making government offices, pushing justice, fairness, and well-being for the entire Jewish people

In her July 9 blog post, Shulamit Magnus pronounced that the staunch secularist, Avigdor Liberman, is “doing God’s work.” The finance minister has decreed that Israel will no longer give child care subsidies to families in which one parent does not hold paid employment of at least 24 hours a week. The measure targets the Haredi sector — specifically married men who claim to study Torah all day. If Liberman’s plan holds, the families of such kollelniks will be denied these subsidies.

Magnus’ formulation accomplishes a quiet, but highly significant, linguistic and conceptual shift. Note that she did not argue on nationalist grounds that extending state subsidies to kollel families is unfair and wrong, she did so on religious grounds. God may be present in the study halls of Bnei Brak, but God is also present in the Knesset and government offices that make policy for the Jewish state. God is at work in these “secular” ministries because of the Torah’s commitment to justice, fairness and the welfare of the entire Jewish people. Tsedek, tsedek tirdof! (“Justice, justice you shall pursue”) commands the God of Israel.

In other words, Haredim and their politicians should not define Judaism for us. There is a widespread dangerous illusion, particularly among secular Israelis, that even if you do not agree with Haredim, they ”keep Israel Jewish,” and so the Jewish state should accede to some of their demands. This is a bit like Golda’s myopic statement, “I don’t go to shul, but the shul I don’t go to is Orthodox.”

Let’s not allow the Haredi community to kidnap the Judaism, which belongs to the entire Jewish people. That would be a tragic theft. The idea that haredi’ut defines Judaism is historically false and religiously wrong — and it does violence to our Jewish identity. The truth is that many of the central practices of the Haredi community run squarely against what God, the Torah, and the talmudic rabbis demand of Jews, and what will sustain Israel going forward.

The Mishna (Avot 2:2) cites R. Gamliel, who counsels Jews to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, warning us that not having an occupation brings about sin. Elsewhere, the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) quotes Rabbi Yehuda: A father who does not teach his son a trade in effect teaches him thievery because when a person has no profession he is likely to turn to stealing. Maimonides concurs, adding that one who studies Torah exclusively and lives on handouts “profanes God’s Name” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Talmud Torah 3:1). It is important to recognize that the talmudic rabbis and those thereafter worked for a living. For example, Shimon ben Shetach was in the flax tradeR. Yehoshua was a tailor, Rashi was a vintner, Rambam and Ramban were physicians, and the Chofetz Chaim ran a store. So working Israelis who contribute to Israel’s social and financial structure are the ones following Jewish tradition and doing a religious deed, while Jews who refuse to work are bringing sin to Israel. The Talmud (Yoma 86a) condemns the Torah scholar who buys merchandise and pays later, because it appears to others that he is taking without paying. That scholar, says the Talmud, cannot repent for his sins because, through his behavior, he has caused people to despise the Torah. If so, what are we to say of the current practice of some Jews who benefit from government defense and subsidies, but pay no taxes and do not contribute to larger Israeli society? Judaism demands that those who take also give, that those who benefit also contribute.

Last week’s Torah reading provides another essential criterion of correct Judaism: “Will your brothers go out to war while you remain here?” asks Moses rhetorically (Bamidbar 32:6). He was stunned by such an irresponsible request by the two tribes that asked to settle on the other side of the Jordan River, and would not countenance some Jews risking their lives, while others remained comfortably ensconced in their safe homes, far from the battlefield.

Judaism demands that all of us defend our people. It is more than a civic duty; it is a religious obligation. Jewish religious law is clear: when the people of Israel fight an existential defensive war (“milkehemet mitsvah”) everyone—without exception—must fight. Even a bride is required to leave her chuppah to contribute to the national defense. So when Israelis serve in the IDF, they should understand their service not only in nationalist terms, but also as a truly Jewish religious act, a mitzvah.

The Mishna also demands that Jews not separate themselves from society (Avot 2:4). Being a responsible and integral part of the Jewish collective is a religious and moral imperative. Maimonides even rules that someone who separates himself from the community has no share in the world to come. Ultimately, the Talmud and the traditional rabbis categorically rejected Shimon bar Yochai’s model of leaving the community to live a solitary life in a cave and learning Torah to the exclusion of any practical knowledge. They knew that such monastic isolation serves only yourself, not God. Separatism is a selfish sin.

This is not a new insight. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook understood it 100 years ago when he claimed that the early secular halutzim were doing holy work by returning to the land God promised them, and that religious quietists who stayed in the study halls of the diaspora were actually contravening God’s plan for His people.

Similarly, all Israelis today — religious and non-religious alike — should appreciate the dedication and toil of those who serve in the IDF and those in government who demand fairness and justice in Israeli society. They are “doing God’s work,” whether or not they wear kippot. And as the prophet Micha tells us, following God’s demands does not mean growing payot, wearing long coats, or voting for religious parties. God’s work means doing justice, being compassionate, and acting humbly before God.

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the former Academic Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding in Jerusalem, and senior research fellow at Bet Morasha of Jerusalem’s Institute for Religion and Society. His forthcoming book, “To Be a Holy People: Jewish Tradition and Ethical Values” will appear in 2021.

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who is getting sick from COVID

jpost.com

Who is most likely to develop severe COVID-19 even after a second jab

“Overall, we can say that the main thing is that these are not healthy people,” Brosh told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. “Almost all of them (96%) had comorbidities: heart disease, lung disease, renal disease, dementia, cancer, or other common ailments. So, people who get breakthrough infections and are admitted are sicker than a usual person.”

.By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN   JULY 14, 2021
Reprinted from Jerusalem Post

Older individuals with many underlying medical conditions and immunosuppression are more likely to contract coronavirus and would develop a severe case of COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated, according to a world-first study conducted in Israel.

A minority of vaccinated individuals will contract coronavirus and a small percentage of those will end up hospitalized because of the virus. This is called a breakthrough infection.

But who are these people?

A team of Israeli doctors led by Prof. Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, studied 152 fully vaccinated patients from 17 hospitals who developed COVID-19 more than seven days after they received their second vaccine dose and required hospitalization before the end of April.

The cohort was small because not many vaccinated people who contract coronavirus develop a severe infection, as the vaccine is 97% to 98% effective against the standard variant – and is proving to be almost as effective against the Delta variant. So far, despite a rapid spike in coronavirus cases in Israel, the number of serious cases seems to be climbing slowly.

“Overall, we can say that the main thing is that these are not healthy people,” Brosh told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. “Almost all of them (96%) had comorbidities: heart disease, lung disease, renal disease, dementia, cancer, or other common ailments. So, people who get breakthrough infections and are admitted are sicker than a usual person.”

Of those who ended up in hospital, 38 had what were defined as “poor outcomes,” meaning they were mechanically ventilated or had died.

Specifically, 71% had hypertension; 48% diabetes; 27% congestive heart failure; 24% chronic kidney disease; 24% chronic lung disease; 19% dementia; and 24% cancer. Only 6% did not have any underlying medical condition.

Moreover, the study showed that 40% of patients were immunocompromised.

“If your immune system does not function well, you are at higher risk for not developing protection from vaccination,” Brosh said, adding that some 35% of patients had no detectable antibodies – meaning they had failed to mount an immune response to the vaccine.

The median time that elapsed from the second dose to hospitalization was 40 days. The median age of the patients was 71. In most cases the source of the patient’s infection was unknown.

Brosh said that although this study was conducted when the Alpha variant was active in Israel and the majority of cases had that virus strain, he said it is likely that the characteristics still apply currently – to those who are infected with the Delta variant that now accounts for more than 90% of infections in Israel.

He said that the Delta variant seems to break through the vaccine more than its Alpha predecessor, but it is still unclear if the variant causes more severe infections – despite some suggestions of this by the Health Ministry.

Still, he said there is an important message that the public should heed:

“If you are older and have comorbidities – and definitely, if you have a lot of comorbidities – or are immunocompromised, you cannot assume you will be well protected by the vaccine,” Brosh said. “When there is a lot of transmission in the community, you should take care of yourself.”

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End pandemic now

studyfinds.org

COVID-19 cure already discovered? Ivermectin ‘can end this pandemic’

“We did the work that the medical authorities failed to do, we conducted the most comprehensive review of the available data on ivermectin,” says Pierre Kory, M.P.A., MD, president and chief medical officer of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), in a media release. “We applied the gold standard to qualify the data reviewed before concluding that ivermectin can end this pandemic.”

 

Reprinted from Study Finds, July 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — A COVID-19 treatment capable of ending the pandemic once and for all may already be available for use. A team of researchers, including three U.S. government senior scientists, are calling for governments around the world to start treating coronavirus patients with ivermectin. Their findings reveal the drug not only prevents people from contracting COVID, but also defeats the virus and saves lives.

“We did the work that the medical authorities failed to do, we conducted the most comprehensive review of the available data on ivermectin,” says Pierre Kory, M.P.A., MD, president and chief medical officer of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), in a media release. “We applied the gold standard to qualify the data reviewed before concluding that ivermectin can end this pandemic.”

Researchers conducted a comprehensive review of 27 reports from clinical, in vitro, animal, and real-world studies. These include 15 randomized controlled trials, which are the preferred scientific method of the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Medicines Agency.

Those findings reveal treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin resulted in large drops in coronavirus deaths. The recovery time from an infection and the time it takes to clear COVID from someone’s system also saw significant reductions among patients on ivermectin.

Additionally, three randomized controlled trials and five observational controlled trials which included nearly 2,500 healthy participants discovered using ivermectin noticeably reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Many countries are already using ivermectin, but why not everywhere?

Study authors note that several regions globally now recognize this drug as both a powerful vaccine and treatment for COVID-19. The countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, and India have all approved ivermectin’s use during the pandemic, according to the team. Researchers add their findings show that immediate global distribution of ivermectin will likely lead to “rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality.”

So the question is, why aren’t doctors in the United States and elsewhere using ivermectin to treat COVID patients in 2021? Study authors don’t have an answer for that, but are urging doctors everywhere to demand that local and national health officials add ivermectin to the list of approved coronavirus treatments right away.

“Our latest research shows, once again, that when the totality of the evidence is examined, there is no doubt that ivermectin is highly effective as a safe prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19,” adds Paul E. Marik, M.D., FCCM, FCCP, founding member of the FLCCC and chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“We can no longer rely on many of the larger health authorities to make an honest examination of the medical and scientific evidence. So, we are calling on regional public health authorities and medical professionals around the world to demand that ivermectin be included in their standard of care right away so we can end this pandemic once and for all.”

The findings appear in the American Journal of Therapeutics.

About the Author, Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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Israel threatened by Arab citizens

mailchi.mp

Efraim Karsh: Israel’s Arab Citizens Are the “Main Danger” to Its Future

Comprising roughly one fifth of the population, over the past quarter century Israeli Arabs have increasingly come to adopt a Palestinian identity, “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state,” and employ “both violent and … sophisticated means to achieve this goal.”

by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar,  July 6, 2021

https://www.meforum.org/62483/karsh-israels-arab-citizens-are-the-main-danger

Efraim Karsh, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, spoke to a June 7 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about the growing radicalization of the Israeli Arab community.

According to Karsh, the “main danger to Israel’s continued success, or even existence over the long run,” is posed not by Iran or the myriad armed Islamist proxies operating along its frontiers, but by Arab citizens of Israel. Comprising roughly one fifth of the population, over the past quarter century Israeli Arabs have increasingly come to adopt a Palestinian identity, “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state,” and employ “both violent and … sophisticated means to achieve this goal.”

Israeli Arabs increasingly “reject Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.”

Israeli Arab radicalization is not based on economic grievances. Then-outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “improved the lot of the … Israeli Arabs over the last decade by a huge margin,” with Israeli Arabs becoming more “[integrated] in Israeli society” and enjoying improved “economic and social wellbeing.”

Although the “historic roots” of Israeli Arab radicalization can be traced back to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the emergence of the PLO in the 1960s, what really jumpstarted the process was the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Oslo process “brought the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] into Israel’s politics.”

Ahmad Tibi (right) with Yasser Arafat

PLO chairman Yasser Arafat addressed Israel’s Arab population, which he called the “the 1948 Arabs,” by citing Quranic verses to incite them against the Jews and promising to put them “on top” of their oppressors. A new generation of Arab Israeli leaders and newly formed Arab Israeli political parties (e.g. Balad and Ta’al) openly embraced Arafat and mirrored PLO talking points by calling for Israel to become a state of “all its citizens” – code for “the end of the Jewish state.” Ta’al leader Ahmad Tibi even served formally as Arafat’s advisor. A 2006 “Future Vision” paper published by a committee of the heads of Israeli Arab municipalities referred to the state of Israel as “colonial” implant and demanded state recognition of “Palestinian Arabs” in Israel as “an indigenous national group” with a formal “right to veto” laws. A recent anti-Netanyahu demonstration In Tel Aviv’s Habima Square had “PLO flags there by the dozens, [but] not a single Israel flag.”

The escalating demands of Israeli Arabs have gone hand-in-hand with “growing violence” by Israeli Arabs “every time” Israel has come to blows with its adversaries. The 11-day Israel-Hamas war in May witnessed Israeli Arab violence on an unprecedented scale. As Hamas was firing thousands of missiles into Israel, Jews were attacked in the streets of demographically mixed Israeli cities that were “supposed to be showcases of coexistence,” said Karsh. “Synagogues were torched, about a dozen,” and ” hundreds of shops [and] private houses were ransacked.”

The violence underscored not only that Israeli Arabs are growing “more nationalized, more radicalized, [and] more Islamized,” but also that Hamas has supplanted the PLO as the lead influencer inside Israel.

Mansour Abbas

Karsh was scathing of the inclusion of Israel’s Islamic party, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Israel’s new governing coalition. Even if the pledges of its leader, Mansour Abbas, to “use the Israeli system” to advance Israeli Arab interests are genuine, “pragmatism is not to be confused with moderation,” he said. “Pragmatist means ‘I’m not going to achieve my goal by beating my head against the wall time and again’,” and plenty of “pragmatists” went on to become some of history’s worst offenders. “Hitler was a pragmatist up to a point – he got Czechoslovakia without firing a single shot.”

Going forward, the IDF must “prepare for a multi-front war” in which Israeli Arabs join Hamas and Hezbollah in attacking Israel. There are “half-a-million illegal weapons in Arab neighborhoods” by Karsh’s estimation, and collecting them will entail a major IDF operation involving “house-by-house” searches.

Meanwhile, Jewish Israelis must set clear “red lines and rules of the game” regarding Arab Israelis, welcoming their integration into society with full rights but steadfastly emphasizing that “Israel is a Jewish state … [and] there is nothing you can do about it.”

Marilyn Stern is communications coordinator at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics:  Israel & Zionism This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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COVID-19 has serious consequences

healthline.com

Vaccine Side Effects vs. COVID-19 Damage? There’s No Comparison

While the vaccines’ side effects are mild and short, the damage caused by COVID-19 can be long lasting and even fatal.


Experts say that even the rare cases of heart inflammation from COVID-19 vaccines pale in comparison to the damage the actual disease can cause. Morsa Images/Getty Images
  • Experts say that the mild and rare side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are nowhere near as serious as the potential damage the disease itself can cause.
  • They say that the long-term consequences of COVID-19 can include increased risk of stroke, lung damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • They add that there have been reports of rare cases of Bell’s palsy developing from COVID-19 vaccines but that the rate appears to be lower than that of the general population.

Which would you rather have: muscle fatigue or permanent lung damage?

Would you prefer mild, short-term inflammation around the heart or severe damage to that organ that could lead to heart failure?

Would you rather have moderate pain in your upper arm for a few days or increase the possibility of developing Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease?

These are just a few examples of the stark contrast between the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and developing the disease itself.

While the vaccines’ side effects are mild and short, the damage caused by COVID-19 can be long lasting and even fatal.

As of this week, more than 330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States, and nearly 158 million people here are now fully vaccinated.

So far, the most common physical reactionsTrusted Source to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There have been some reports of rare but more serious side effects from the vaccines.

In late June, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcedTrusted Source that there’s a rare but “likely association” between the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines and a higher risk of heart inflammation, particularly in adolescents and young adults.

These include cases of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, which is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.

In both, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.

Through follow-up, including medical record reviews, CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have confirmed 518 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis.

But these conditions have produced mild cases, with no deaths or lingering issues reported.

The people who develop these conditions usually return to normal daily activities in just a few days when their symptoms improve, but they’re advised by CDC officials to speak with their doctor about returning to exercise or sports.

The CDC continues to recommend Trusted Source COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone 12 years old and older, given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications.

Dr. Stuart Berger, a pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the pediatric Heart Center at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, told Healthline that the vaccines are quite safe.

The heart inflammation tends to occur in men ages 16 to 24. Berger noted that the CDC is looking at some 500 cases out of more than 170 million vaccinated people in that adolescent and young adult demographic.

“That puts it at .00025 percent. That is very rare,” he said. “From what we know, it is actually less common than myocarditis in the general population.”

On the other hand, even if you survive COVID-19, the disease can do permanent damage to the heart.

Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms.

This may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.

The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19 can also cause long-lasting damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.

Even in young people, COVID-19 can causeTrusted Source strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barré syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis.

COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other potential long-term effects of the virus include blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and psychological issues from being on a ventilator that include post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.

Some early reports suggested that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could increase the chance of getting facial nerve palsy, also known as Bell’s palsy.

But the FDA doesn’t consider these reports to be more than the rate expected in the general population.

In Israel, where all residents are automatically a part of the national digital health registry system, some conclusions about the virus and the vaccines can be reached with early data.

In a recent studyTrusted Source, scientists in Israel looked at whether the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is associated with an increased risk of acute-onset Bell’s palsy.

In this case-control analysis, investigators concluded that there was no association between recent vaccination and risk of facial nerve palsy.

While science has shown these vaccines to be safe with few side effects, the rumors still fly, especially online.

You can read everything from “the vaccine can give you COVID” to “there are microchips in the vaccines” to “there are fetal cells in the vaccines.”

There’s no validity to any of these claims.

Neal Reddy, 19, a sophomore at Princeton University in New Jersey and survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is an intern at Teen Cancer America, which supports teens and young adults with cancer.

He said that he’s heard a variety of wild, unfounded rumors about the vaccines’ side effects.

“I see a lot of it on social media from people my age, the rumors about this and that,” said Neal, who wants to study medicine.

“There’s this idea among some in my age group that your own research on social media will enlighten you more than a scientific clinical trial,” he told Healthline.

Reddy added that some people in his age group even made a big deal out of the fact that one of the effects of the vaccine is a sore arm.

“Like that is a bad sign,” he said. “When I heard that mRNA vaccines were coming out, I was confident that this would be effective and with limited side effects.”

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Common lies about Israel and Arabs

blogs.timesofisrael.com

12 falsehoods about the Israeli-Arab conflict

Those groups that criticize Israel without ever praising it, criticizing the Palestinians, or putting Israel’s actions in context, add fuel to a corrupt fire.  This point applies to groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, and T’ruah and to individuals such as Peter Beinart and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.  Their incessant criticism of Israel is not the stuff of moral greatness; quite the contrary, it reflects profound moral failure.

Yitzchak Blau
Yitzchak Blau

Reprinted from Times of Israel, July 7, 2021


Militaristic trends in the Religious Zionist world trouble me enough to have written multiple articles both in Hebrew and English attempting to counter them. I have critiqued RZ attitudes to war and peace, to civilian casualties, to the religious thought of R. Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and to desecration of God’s name. Moving from religion to politics, my wife and I made aliyah in 1997 and voted in many subsequent Israeli elections. My voting record includes no parties to the right of Likud, but does incorporate Labor and Yesh Atid. Thus, it can hardly be said that I am a card-carrying right-winger.

Nevertheless, I find prevalent attitudes to Israel on the Jewish left profoundly troubling.  To convey the problem, I will list 12 sentiments popular in liberal circles and explain their falsity.

  • The settlements are the major obstacle to peace. A cursory glance at the history of the Arab Israeli conflict reveals the foolishness of such an assertion.  The Arab world rejected the partition plan in 1947.  The three Nos of Khartoum meant that the Arab world turned down a full return of the land Israel conquered in 1967 in exchange for peace.  Since then, the Palestinians have rejected various peace offers that give them sovereignty over more than 90 percent of the territories.   Whether or not the settlements are a good idea, the main obstacle to peace is that the Palestinians will not accept a Jewish state on any part of the land of Israel.
  • Israel must withdraw from the territories immediately. It would certainly be better if we did not have to exert control over another population but withdrawals, whether of the negotiated or unilateral variety, lead directly to more Israeli deaths. In the two and a half years after the Oslo accords in 1993, close to 150 Israelis died in a series of suicide bombings.  The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 led to Hamas taking over in Gaza and their ability to shoot rockets in to Israel from a much closer distance.  It is easy to say Israel must withdraw when one ignores the ensuing Israeli death toll.
  • Israel resembles 20th-century colonialism.  France could withdraw from Algeria and England could leave India without endangering themselves in the slightest. The Algerians were not threatening Paris or Strasbourg.   In the case of Israel, ceding territory means more lethal attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
  • We can rely on the international community regarding security concernsIn 1967, Egypt’s Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and simply kicked out the United Nations force meant to ensure that the Straits remained open.  Many anticipated that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which involved removing more than 9,000 Israelis from their homes, would generate ongoing international good will but it completely failed to do so.  Given the track record, Israel has little reason to rely on other countries or the UN.       
  • The blockade of Gaza is immoral. If Hamas would dedicate their resources into schools, businesses, and hospitals rather than military goals (note their expensive and extensive network of tunnels intended to enable infiltrating Israel), the blockade would immediately be eased. Furthermore, critics usually leave out Egypt’s involvement in the blockade.
  • The international community can be trusted as impartial evaluators of the conflict. The United Nations Human Rights Council was founded in 2006.  Since then, it has passed 45 resolutions condemning Israel which is almost half of the country specific resolutions passed altogether.  The 2001 conference against racism in Durban singled out Israel for intensive censure.  Reasonable people would have to conclude that the world has some obsession with criticizing Israel.
  • Pointing to Israel’s relatively good track record on gay rights is a form of pinkwashing covering up Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Evaluation of a country should incorporate many aspects of behavior.  Tel Aviv is a haven for LGBT people whereas homosexuals in Iran are subject to imprisonment and even execution.  In Israel, women have been Prime Minister, President of the Supreme Court, Minister of Education, Minister of Justice, and Mister of the Interior while Saudi Arabia just granted women permission to drive in 2018.  Gideon Levy and Amira Hass have castigated Israel for years in Ha’aretz, the country’s most respected paper.  Contrast this with the Palestinian authority which recently beat critic Nizar BInat to death.  Even if we think Israel mistreats the Palestinians, how could it be that these other differences play no role in progressive discourse?
  • Israel has no right to complain that other countries do far worse because that is morally irrelevant. What would happen if your child went to a school where everyone else was allowed to break the rules but your child was consistently punished for doing so?  Would you be sanguine with the principal saying that other’s wrongdoing does not excuse your child?  Moreover, this mode of functioning should influence us to question the validity of the criticism.  Those exclusively focused on expressing negativity towards one country are likely not evaluating from an objective ethical standpoint.  For example, where are the university groups calling for divestment from China for persecuting the Uyghurs or from Venezuela for its abysmal human rights record?
  • The only viable option now is the one-state solution. Many of us care passionately about Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state and the one state solution will erase both essential aspects of the state.  A growing Arab majority will erode the Jewish aspect and no Arab country has yet succeeded in establishing a democracy.  This is not due to anything inherent in Arab character, but simply the current cultural reality.
  • The Palestinian Authority is ready to make real concessions for peace. Let us first note that Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Authority, wrote a doctoral thesis which is a form of Holocaust denial, a fact that does not fill one with confidence about his ability to come to terms with a Jewish state. Furthermore, no Palestinian leader has ever spoken about relinquishing the right of return. Keep in mind that in no other international conflict have refuges been kept in camps for decades instead of being resettled. Nor is there another conflict where the great-grandchildren of refuges receive refugee status. Since the entry of so many Palestinians to Israel would mean the end of the Jewish state, no Israeli government will ever agree to such an arrangement.  If so, there is little basis for dreaming of a final status agreement right now.
  • Israeli intransigence on the Temple Mount is a major source of tension. After Israel conquered the Mount in 1967, it allowed the Waqf, Islamic religious authorities, to remain in charge of the site and Islamic prayer continues unimpeded.  Israeli law actually prohibits Jews from praying on the Mount.  Contrast this with the period of time between 1948 and 1967 when the Jordanians did not allow Jews to pray at the Wailing Wall.
  • Israel is guilty of genocide. The term genocide applies to the Nazis attempting to wipe out the entirety of the Jewish people and the Turks annihilating millions of Armenians.  Comparison to the actions of Israel does not begin on any level.  The Israeli military warns Palestinian civilians before striking but, due to Hamas situating itself among civilians, ends up killing some civilians as a form of collateral damage when retaliating against Hamas forces.  To refer to this as genocide is obscene, yet the Yale student council, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, actor Mark Ruffalo, and the Movement for Black Lives have all done so.

All of the above does not mean that Israel is flawless; indeed, there are deeply troubling trends in Israeli society.  If some fans at one soccer stadium chant “Death to Arabs,” that is certainly one stadium too many.  Israelis must acknowledge that Israeli Arabs and Palestinians have legitimate complaints against the Jewish state.  At the same time, the Arab world should admit its role in generating and perpetuating the conflict.

Where does this leave an ethically sensitive Jewish group?  On the one hand, every society needs to engage in self-criticism and Israel is no different.  On the other hand, the incredibly one-sided criticism of Israel in segments of the Western world should make a critic hesitant to contribute to that distortion.  For a Jewish group engaged in internal conversations, criticism of Israel is crucial.  Sadly, there are Jewish voices incapable of acknowledging any Palestinian claims and they need to encounter another view. However, those playing on a more universal stage must temper their criticism with an approach that restores balance to the discourse.  Someone attending a university whose faculty or students portray Israel as the Satan should grow somewhat more circumspect about enumerating flaws of the Jewish state,   Those groups that criticize Israel without ever praising it, criticizing the Palestinians, or putting Israel’s actions in context, add fuel to a corrupt fire.  This point applies to groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, and T’ruah and to individuals such as Peter Beinart and Rabbi Jill Jacobs.  Their incessant criticism of Israel is not the stuff of moral greatness; quite the contrary, it reflects profound moral failure.

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is a rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is an associate editor of the journal Tradition and the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada.

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Squad is wrong about Israel

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Bassem Eid: It’s Time Ilhan Omar and “the Squad” Learned the Truth About Israel and Hamas

Politicians like Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spend a considerable amount of time attacking Israel for the supposed harm it inflicts on Palestinians. If they truly care about the well being of Palestinians, they ought to focus their attention elsewhere. These days, the vast majority of suffering Palestinians experience is the direct result of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the influence of the terrorist group Hamas.

by Bassem Eid
Special to IPT News
June 30, 2021


U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” Tuesday, and was asked by host Jake Tapper about her long record of virulently anti-Israel comments (which included her comparison earlier this month of Israel to Hamas) and why some of her Jewish congressional colleagues had called her out for again issuing anti-Semitic tropes.

As Omar has done so many times in the past, she blamed her critics rather than take responsibility. “I’ve welcomed any time my colleagues asked to have a conversation to learn from them [and] for them to learn from me,” said Omar, D-Minn. “I think it’s really important for these members to realize that they haven’t been partners in justice.”

I’m a Palestinian who grew up in a UNWRA refugee camp outside of Jerusalem, and been a human rights activist all my life. Let me say this as directly as I can: Rep. Omar does not know what she is talking about. Worse, for years, Rep. Omar has been engaged in not arguing any facts, but simply throwing out dirty anti-Semitic epithets, a mirror image of the anti-Semitism by “white supremacists” she claims to decry.

Politicians like Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spend a considerable amount of time attacking Israel for the supposed harm it inflicts on Palestinians. If they truly care about the well being of Palestinians, they ought to focus their attention elsewhere. These days, the vast majority of suffering Palestinians experience is the direct result of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the influence of the terrorist group Hamas.

Corruption affects every aspect of life for Palestinians. It cripples our economy, which in turn makes government jobs among the most highly prized. However, those jobs are awarded based on connections rather than qualifications, which perpetuates the cycle of corruption. No announcements are posted for new government jobs. This lack of transparency is pervasive throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

The vaccine distribution process is one recent example of this corruption. A number of Palestinian human rights and civil society groups recently alleged that wealthy government officials were taking vaccines intended for medical workers. The Palestinian Health Ministry eventually admitted that many of the doses it received were administered to government ministers. Until this corruption is addressed, Palestinians will continue to suffer.

Hamas has been designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and many other countries. Hamas originated with the goal of destroying Israel and killing all the Jews. It continues on this mission today. Hamas also rules Gaza and has a tremendous following among West Bank residents, especially after instigating the recent bloody conflict with Israel and showing off its relative competence compared to the pathetically inept Palestinian Authority.

Hamas continues to recruit and use child soldiers. According to The Jerusalem Post, more than 30 Palestinian children and teens were enlisted in stabbing attacks against Israelis from 2015-2016, another 30 Palestinian children have been successfully used as suicide bombers (many more unsuccessfully attempted), and more than 17,000 Palestinian children were recruited into Hamas child militia programs in 2019. At least one of the children that authorities claimed had been killed during the recent war in Gaza was a Hamas member. The use of child soldiers is always abhorrent and unethical. Hamas will continue to make life worse for Palestinians as U.S. media and politicians continue to focus on criticizing Israel.

Calling for boycotts, sanctions, and the destruction of Israel does not create real positive change for Palestinians. There are some brave leaders, like Mansour Abbas, who are working for real positive change. Abbas is Palestinian Arab by culture and heritage and an Israeli by citizenship. He is a devout Muslim. He also recently joined the new Israeli government as a deputy minister and secured an impressive list of benefits for his constituents.

Abbas’s Ra’am Party is the first exclusively Arab political party to fully join an Israeli government. He has said he will work to negotiate large increases in government spending and improve social services in Arab communities. The coalition agreement already included the allocation of over 53 billion shekels ($16 billion) to combat violent crime and improve infrastructure in Arab towns. This is how you improve the lives of the Palestinian people – not through violence, corruption, and terrorism.

In this same spirit of willingness to come together, I invite Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to meet with me, a Palestinian living in the West Bank, to discuss the problems of the Palestinians and the best solutions to address them. These congresswomen say they are willing to listen and learn, Well, if they really are, here’s their chance.

Bassem Eid is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian political analyst, human rights pioneer and expert commentator on Arab and Palestinian affairs. He grew up in an UNRWA refugee camp. Follow him on Twitter @eid_bassem

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