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Israeli envoy warns of growing trend as Ukraine unveils statue of anti-Semite

ODESSA, Ukraine — Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine warned Friday of rising nationalism in the country after the erection of a new statue of a Ukrainian nationalist who is blamed for the murder of tens of thousands of Jews during the Russian Revolution.

On Saturday, officials unveiled the monument to Symon Petliura in Vinnitsa, in an area of the city once known as Yerusalimka (Jerusalem), just some 200 meters (600 feet) from a small, functioning synagogue.

Vinnitsa, located 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, already has a street named for Petliura.“What really matters is not this specific statue in Vinnitsa, but the trends. There is a trend, nationalism is on the rise,” said Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotzercovsky, speaking at a conference organized by Limmud FSU, a Jewish educational outreach group, at the Black Sea port of Odessa.

Soldiers of Petliura’s Ukrainian People’s Republic were responsible for 493 out of the recorded 1,236 pogroms and other violent incidents against Jews in 524 Ukrainian towns during the Russian Revolution, from 1918 to 1921. Between 35,000 and 50,000 Jews were killed in the violence, although Petliura’s actual role remains unclear.

The erection of the statue is part of an ongoing move by Ukrainian authorities to replace Russian street names and monuments with Ukrainian ones as a reaction to the ongoing war against Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Israel has remained largely silent on this issue in accordance with her policy of neutrality on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Belotzercovsky said Israel has excellent ties with Ukraine and was working to try and end the glorification of anti-Semites.

“This trend is something that Israel’s representatives are dealing with, and we are trying to see how we can deal with this phenomenon with the best means we have,” he said.

“Nevertheless, the authorities here have their own interests, and they are not always in line with ours, not only in Vinnitsa. This is also the issue with several streets of Kiev, as well as all kinds of other nationalist trends that are on the rise in the country,” he said.

Last year, Ukraine observed a minute of silence for Petliura on the 90th anniversary of his assassination in Paris.

A French court acquitted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Russia-born Jew, of the murder, even though he confessed to the crime, after the court found that Petliura had been involved in or knew of pogroms by members of his militia. Fifteen of Schwartzbard’s relatives perished in the pogroms.

Earlier this year, the western municipality of Kalush near Lviv was sued for deciding to name a street for Dmytro Paliiv, a commander of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician.

In the city of Uman — a major pilgrimage site for Breslov Hasidic Jews —  a new monument recently appeared to commemorate Ivan Gonta, an 18th-century Cossack involved in a massacre of Jews, Poles, and Eastern Catholics.

Also before the revolution, Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych and other nationalists accused of complicity in the murder of Ukrainian Jews have received honors from state authorities for their fight against Russia.

Vinnitsa’s pre-war Jewish population estimated at 28,000 was murdered by the Nazis and was immortalized in the iconic photograph “The Last Jew of Vinnitsa.” The photograph, found in an album belonging to a German soldier, shows a member of Einsatzgruppe D about to execute a Jewish man who kneels before a mass grave.

Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, is Jewish on his father’s side.


Austria’s Kurz tapped to form government, expected to include far right

VIENNA, Austria (AFP) — Austria’s president on Friday tasked election winner Sebastian Kurz with forming a government, putting the 31-year-old conservative on course to become the world’s youngest leader.

Kurz, nicknamed “wunderwuzzi” (“whizz-kid”), is to form a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), potentially giving the European Union a fresh headache.

“I want a new political culture, a new political style,” Kurz said after being mandated by President Alexander Van der Bellen to form a government.

“I want a government that has the courage and the determination to bring about real change in Austria,” he said.

Kurz’s People’s Party (OeVP) came first in Sunday’s election with 31.5 percent followed by the center-left Social Democrats on 26.9%, final results showed late Thursday.

The populist Freedom Party, highly critical of the EU, came a close third with 26.0%, just short of its 1999 record of 26.9 % under controversial former chief Joerg Haider.

Kurz said he will now “sound out” all the other parties in the coming days before entering formal coalition negotiations.

But after an election that saw a shift to the right, Kurz and FPOe chief Heinz-Christian Strache see eye to eye on a host of issues including immigration and cutting taxes.

Strache hosted Kurz for dinner at his home on Wednesday and a meeting of the OeVP’s top brass saw all participants except one back a tie-up with the FPOe, the Kurier daily reported.

Kurz could instead try for another “grand coalition” with the SPOe of incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern, 51, but the outgoing tie-up was so acrimonious this is seen unlikely.

An even more remote possibility is an alliance between the SPOe and the FPOe.

On Wednesday Strache said that one condition for forming a coalition was the FPOe getting the interior ministry.

He said he wants Austria’s borders secured, more Swiss-style “direct democracy” and a “stop to Islamisation”.

‘Europe of fatherlands’

When the FPOe last entered government, in 2000 under Haider, there was outcry in Israel and Austria was ostracized within Europe but this time no such backlash is expected.

However the FPOe remains ambivalent about Europe, with its manifesto saying the “ideal of a Europe of fatherlands” is “increasingly under threat.”

The party wants EU sanctions on Russia lifted and for Austria potentially to join the Visegrad group of eastern and central European countries that has become a thorn in Brussels’ side.

Strache, who flirted with neo-Nazism in his youth and could now become deputy chancellor, has also said Britain “will probably end up better off” after leaving the bloc.It is also allied in the European Parliament to far-right groups such as France’s National Front, which called the FPOe’s election result “another welcome defeat” for the EU.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday made a point of wishing Kurz success in forming a “pro-European government” ahead of Austria’s turn as EU president next year.

Kurz said on Tuesday that Vienna would continue to play an “active” role in the bloc.

Van der Bellen, who last year narrowly beat the FPOe’s Norbert Hofer to be elected president, reiterated Friday that he wanted a pro-EU government and that he reserved the right to refuse to approve the appointment of ministers.

Heartbroken Raqqa residents return to city in ruins

RAQQA, Syria (AFP) — Tears streaming down her freckled face, 35-year-old Asya took in the shattered glass, gutted storefronts and crumbling cafes — all that remain of her favorite shopping street in Syria’s Raqqa.

“This was once the most beautiful city, my God,” said the woman in a mustard-colored headscarf, gesturing out of the back seat of a car moving slowly down Raqqa’s once-bustling Tal Abyad boulevard.

“Now look around you. Look at our homes,” she wailed.

Asya was one of the only civilians to access central Raqa since the city was seized from the Islamic State terror group this week by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The SDF officially announced Raqqa’s capture at a ceremony in the city’s stadium on Friday but said mines left behind by IS made it too dangerous for residents to return home.

A handful of civilians — relatives of SDF fighters and displaced local officials — had been granted a one-day pass to access Raqqa for the ceremony and seized the chance to see what was left of their homes.

Asya’s husband, an SDF fighter, took his wife and four children in their rented car after the ceremony and drove to find their home in Raqqa’s eastern Al-Rumeilah district.

“I saw my house but wish I hadn’t. It’s been bombed — I only knew it from our personal items scattered outside,” Asya said.

“I would have rather had my things stolen but the walls still standing.”

‘Destruction, pain, sadness’

Asya and her family had considered moving back to their native Raqqa from the town of Tabqa, 70 kilometers (43 miles) west and also recaptured from IS earlier this year.

“But now I don’t even want to come back to Raqqa, because all our beautiful memories have been turned into tragedies,” Asya said, adding that she had fond recollections of the now-ravaged street around her.

Some storefronts are still identifiable: a tattered sign outside a children’s clinic, bare glass displays at a jewelry shop, and a tailor’s fabric and sewing machines.

But most of Raqqa has been left in unrecognizable ruin after the SDF’s nearly five-month offensive, backed by heavy US-led coalition air strikes.

For members of the Raqqa Civil Council — a provisional local administration set up by the SDF — Friday’s trip into Raqqa was bittersweet.

“Yes, we’re happy to be back, but there’s destruction, pain, and sadness,” said lawyer and RCC member Fadila Hamad al-Khalil, who fled IS-ruled Raqqa in April, before the SDF broke into the city.

“I wasn’t expecting the destruction to be this bad. It’s unreal — there are no buildings left, no infrastructure, no signs of life whatsoever.”

Khalil, too, was only able to catch a brief glimpse of her home from the outside before the SDF’s ceremony to hand over governance of Raqqa to the RCC.

She said she barely recognized her native city: “Everything is mashed together from the destruction.”

Her siblings and childhood friends would not be allowed to enter for days — perhaps even weeks or months — as de-mining teams worked to clear explosives.

“I wish we could have all come back to Raqqa together.”

‘Beyond what we imagined’

Even those with a one-day pass could only see their homes from the outside, afraid of the explosives that could lie in wait inside.

Mahmud Mohammed, an engineer and member of the RCC’s reconstruction committee, said the brief glimpse into Raqqa provided a rude wake-up call for rebuilding efforts.

Just weeks ago, he and fellow engineers were enthusiastically laying plans to clear the rubble out of Raqqa’s streets ahead of rehabilitating the city’s water and electricity networks.

But after seeing the devastation on Friday, they admitted they had been too optimistic.

“When we came into the city, the (reconstruction) plan changed completely,” said Mohammed, 27, as he half-heartedly took pictures of the damaged Tal Abyad street on his cell phone.

“We would see pictures, but we didn’t know and couldn’t expect that we would see Raqqa like this.”

Mohammed pointed out a row of damaged storefronts and said his family had once owned them all, operating a relief center and a lingerie shop — even under IS.

“Massive destruction, above and beyond what we had imagined,” he muttered, shaking his head.

As he spoke, a white pickup truck barrelled past, playing a lively and trumpet-heavy tune while SDF fighters danced and flashed victory signs.

One elated militiaman held up his rifle and called out to a sombre Mohammed: “Raqqa has been liberated, my brother!”

3 arrested after shooting at Florida white nationalist speech (White Idiots)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man who fired a shot at anti-Nazi protesters following a speech at the University of Florida by a white nationalist has been charged with attempted murder, police in Gainesville said Friday. Two men who allegedly urged him to shoot face the same charge.

A Gainesville Police Department report released on Friday said that Tyler Tenbrink, 28; William Fears, 30; and his brother, 28-year-old Colton Fears, all from Texas, were arrested on attempted homicide charges following an appearance on campus by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Hours before the shooting, all three men had spoken with the media in support of Spencer’s speech and white nationalism.

The three were in a vehicle Thursday immediately after Spencer’s speech and began making Nazi salutes and shouting Hitler chants at a group of people holding anti-Nazi signs near a bus stop, Gainesville Police Officer Ben Tobias said.

One person in the group of about six people struck the back window of the men’s vehicle with a baton, police said.

Tenbrink, a convicted felon, showed a handgun after exiting the car while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot, police said.

“Colton Fears and William Fears were also yelling, ‘Kill them’ and ‘Shoot them,’” the police report stated.

Tenbrink fired a single shot, police said, missing the group and striking a nearby building. He is also being charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, police said.

The men fled the scene and headed north on Highway 75, police said.

Just before 9 p.m. an off-duty Alachua County Sheriff’s deputy who had worked the Spencer event earlier saw the men’s vehicle. A group of officers called in stopped the vehicle and took the men into custody.

Tenbrink admitted that he was the shooter, according to the police report.

Police say two of the three have connections to “extremist groups.”

Leader of American-Israeli group tweets anti-Semitic image of Soros



WASHINGTON (JTA) — The chairman of the board of the Israeli American Council tweeted and then deleted an anti-Semitic image of George Soros as a multi-tentacled monster.

“Yesterday, the origins of an old anti-Semitic cartoon that has some similarity to the image I used, was brought to my attention and I removed the Soros tweet,” Adam Milstein said in an email to JTA. “I’ll try to be more careful in the future.”

On Thursday, pro-Palestinian activists had pointed out the use of the picture — a head shot of Soros atop a multi-tentacled creature strangling the globe. It referred to the recent decision by Soros, a Jewish hedge fund billionaire, to donate much of his fortune to Open Society, the institution he founded several decades ago to promote democracy.

Soros, who in recent years has backed groups critical of Israeli government policy, has become a bugbear for the pro-Israel right. In his deleted tweet, Milstein said the $18 billion that Soros’ gift would be “used for civil unrest, dividing Americans and suppressing free speech.” An attached link, to a Wall Street Journal story on the Soros gift, did not provide examples to back up Milstein’s allegations.

Anti-Semites also regularly attack Soros, who they see as part of a Jewish conspiracy to manipulate foreign markets and governments. The image Milstein shared has been appearing on dozens of anti-Semitic and pro-Russian websites since at least 2015.

The image of Jews as tentacled creatures controlling the globe is a classic anti-Semitic trope, and has appeared in Nazi literature and in the postwar era in cartoons published in the then-Soviet Union and the Arab world.

Milstein told JTA he was focused on the IAC conference taking place next month in Washington, DC.

“I didn’t personally select that image,” he said of the tweet. Milstein regularly writes about anti-Semitism on the right and the left.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair last month removed a similar cartoon of Soros following complaints that it was anti-Semitic.

In a follow-up tweet, Milstein thanked two of the anti-Israel activists who highlighted his original tweet.

“My Thanks to 2 fierce anti-Israel activists who advised me an image I used is similar to this old #Antisemitic cartoon,” said Milstein, tagging Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah. “I deleted my tweet.”

Draft GOP bill (White Freemasons) seeks more constraints on Iran’s nuke program

WASHINGTON (AP) — US sanctions against Iran automatically would kick in if Tehran violates new constraints, according to a draft Republican bill sought by President Donald Trump as he tries to unravel the landmark 2015 international accord to prevent Iran from assembling an arsenal of atomic weapons.

The draft bill, crafted by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas with input from the Trump administration, wouldn’t necessarily violate the Iran nuclear deal if passed into law. But the measure, obtained by The Associated Press, could still end up derailing the agreement by holding Iran to a series of requirements not previously agreed to when the deal was forged by the US and other world powers two years ago.

Among the expanded criteria Iran would be punished for breaching, according to the legislation: flight testing, manufacture or deployment of warhead-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, including any attempts to convert space-launched vehicles into ICBMs; and “any work to clandestinely acquire nuclear material, or equipment intended to produce nuclear material, from outside of Iran.”

The legislation aims to meet Trump’s demands that Congress act quickly to toughen the existing law that governs US participation in the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also is insisting that other countries party to the accord repair a series of deficiencies and he threatened last week to pull the US out of the agreement if the changes aren’t made.

Trump alone cannot actually terminate the accord, which lifted sanctions that had choked Iran’s economy in exchange for Tehran rolling back its nuclear program. But withdrawing the US would render the deal virtually meaningless.

Trump, along with many Republicans, has long been hostile to the nuclear agreement that was agreed to during former President Barack Obama’s second term and endorsed by the UN Security Council. France, Germany and the United Kingdom are parties to the accord. But Trump late last week refused to certify that Iran is complying with the accord and blamed Tehran for malign and destructive behavior that’s destabilized the Middle East.

Critics of unilaterally legislating new terms outside of the so-called “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” have argued such an approach may isolate the US and force key European allies to side with Iran in defense of the deal.

While the bill has yet to circulate among many lawmakers, Senate Democrats said they are opposed to any measures that may rewrite or nullify the criteria for Iran to receive US sanctions relief under the terms of the 2015 pact. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Senate and Democrats may be able to use the filibuster to block the measure from being brought to a vote.

“I think there always is the potential to work on policy that cracks down on Iran’s nefarious behavior in the region,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “But my impression is there’s not a lot of Democratic support, if any, to rewrite terms of the deal.”

The draft proposal reflects the deep misgivings among many Republicans over what they consider to be fatal flaws in the nuclear deal. Chief among them are key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that will begin to expire in year 10 of the accord, heightening concerns Iran may be able to build an atomic bomb even before the end of the pact.

The measure, which has not yet been introduced in Congress, spells out in technical detail how the United States would freeze at one year Iran’s “breakout timeline” for being able to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. The draft bill would effectively make permanent provisions in the nuclear deal with Iran that relate to uranium enrichment and stockpiles and the operation of specific centrifuges.

Iran also would be in violation of the seven-nation nuclear accord if it failed to give the International Atomic Energy Agency “sufficient access to any site, including military sites,” requested by the UN watchdog, according to the legislation.

Despite Trump’s objections, the IAEA has said Iran’s is honoring its commitments and US military leaders echo that assessment, saying the deal is in the nation’s national security interest.

European Union foreign ministers backed the Iran nuclear agreement in a statement earlier this week, saying the accord is working and is a key part of non-proliferation efforts.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Trump’s refusal to certify Iran’s compliance is raising unnecessary risks at a time when tensions over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal haven’t subsided.

“By stepping back from a diplomatic deal that the US made with the global community that is clearly working, the president is publicly undercutting diplomatic negotiations and he’s setting us on a road where military options become increasingly more likely,” Kaine said.

To remedy the so-called “sunset” provisions and ensure Iran never gets within a year of obtaining atomic weapons, the legislation effectively disposes of them altogether. For example, Tehran would be indefinitely barred from operating more than 5,060 uranium-producing centrifuges — the number it is now restricted to using under the agreement.

Iran also would be prohibited until further notice from producing uranium enriched above 3.67 percent and couldn’t stockpile any more than 300 kilograms of the materials. Uranium enriched at that level is sufficient for civilian power plant use but too low for nuclear weapons.

The bill requires a semi-annual report on Iran’s compliance. The reporting would be expanded significantly to include additional examples of objectionable Iranian behavior that could be used to further build the case Tehran is not complying with the deal. Congress would be told, for example, if Iran’s “violations of internationally recognized human rights” have increased or decreased, and any military use by Iran of commercial aircraft, parts or services licensed by the United States.

Poll: Two thirds of Americans favor keeping Iran nuke deal

A large majority of Americans do not believe the United States should pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, according to a CNN poll published Friday.

The survey — whose publication comes after US President Donald Trump announced earlier this month he would not recertify the nuclear accord and would be open to scrapping it if Congress does not sufficiently address the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile activity and support for subversive actors in the region — revealed major partisan disagreement on whether the US should remain committed to the agreement.

While 67 percent of Americans overall said the US should not withdraw from the nuclear deal, with 27% in favor of leaving the accord, 80% percent of Democrats said the US should remain in the agreement, with only 13% supporting abandoning the deal.

Among Republicans, meanwhile, opinion was evenly split on whether the US should stay in the nuclear pact, with 48% of Republicans saying the US should remain in the agreement and 47% saying the US should leave.

“As you may know, the United States and five other countries entered an agreement with Iran aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” said the question posed to 1,010 respondents by SSRS, a research company. “Do you think the US should or should not withdraw from that agreement?” The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.

The feelings of Independents on whether the US should stay in the deal mirrored that of the general population, with 67% saying the US should remain in the agreement and 27% saying it should leave.

While 69% said Iran poses a serious threat to the US, only three out of every 10 respondents said the Islamic Republic is a “very serious” threat to America, which was down from 49% in September 2015, shortly after the deal was reached.

Republicans and Democrats were also split on their feelings toward the threat level Iran constitutes towards the US, with 45% of Republicans saying Iran is a very serious threat, as opposed to only 26% of Democrats.

While Republican lawmakers have largely expressed support for Trump’s stance towards the nuclear deal and are working on legislation to further limit Iran’s nuclear program, namely by cracking down on its ballistic missile development, Democratic politicians have by and large spoken out in favor of keeping the deal reached under former Democratic president Barack Obama, including many who criticized the accord after it was finalized.

Iran has strongly spoke out against the US president’s decision, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying on Wednesday his country would continue to adhere to the accord and calling Trump’s criticism of the deal “rants and whoppers.”With the notable exception of Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for Trump’s decision and called for altering the deal or abandoning it, American allies in Europe have voiced their continued support for the agreement.

The attitudes in the poll represent a marked shift from public skepticism of the deal when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, presented it to the public two years ago. Support in those days scored as low as in the 20s.

SSRS over eight years has asked respondents to rate four countries — Iran, Russia, Cuba and North Korea — as threats to the United States. The perception of Iran as a threat has diminished in recent years: The high of 49 percent who viewed the country as a “very serious” threat was in September 2015, when the Obama administration was rolling out the deal.

The most serious threat perceived in the current poll is North Korea, which 62 percent of respondents rated a “very serious” threat. The Trump administration and the North Korean government have exchanged threats of a nuclear attack in recent months.

Acclaimed Canadian author explores dark side of pioneers’ Zionist utopia

In 2015, Canadian author Alison Pick decided it was time to visit Israel for the first time. While promoting her memoir, “Between Gods,” about her decision to convert to Judaism, she was told that experiencing the Jewish state first-hand was a necessary next step in solidifying her Jewish identity.

Pick grew up in southern Ontario believing that her family was Christian and began a personal journey upon discovering as a teenager that her paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. They and her father had hidden the family’s Jewish roots from her.

Pick based her Man Booker Prize-nominated 2010 novel “Far To Go” on her great-grandparents’ escape to Canada from Czechoslovakia on the eve of Nazi occupation in 1939. She followed that up with the acclaimed “Between Gods,” in which she dealt with her coming to terms with her family’s long-held secret and her decision to formally convert to Judaism.

The excellently crafted and psychologically complex “Strangers with the Same Dream” begins with the voice of a dead person, a ghost:As with the other stages in her Jewish journey, the Toronto-based Pick’s visit to Israel gave rise to a book, this time a historical novel set during the Third Aliya, the post-World War I wave of immigration to pre-state Israel. The newly published“Strangers with the Same Dream”focuses on the clash between the utopian socialist ideals and the harsh daily struggles of young European pioneers draining the swamps and establishing the first large kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley.

“This story begins with a lie. I killed myself. That’s what they said. They made me pay with that particular shame. When our descendants spoke of me, I was not named but instead called ‘the suicide,’ or sometimes ‘the first suicide.’ A cautionary tale.”

The truth about this supposed suicide is eventually revealed, but only after the events of several months in 1921 are recounted from the perspectives of three different characters — two female and one male — each struggling with their own personal demons.

Pick said the strong feminist voice of this novel was deliberate.

“I did want it to be a feminist book. I don’t think I would have articulated that to myself in a conscious, upfront way, but it was the first book I had written being a mom and having a daughter, and I knew I wanted the gender politics to come into it, and it would be interesting to have different points of view and voices from that perspective,” Pick told The Times of Israel.

The first character is Ida, a Zionist teenager who flees to Palestine after her father is murdered and mother raped in a pogrom. Ida, on the cusp of womanhood, falls in love with earnest and staunchly idealistic fellow pioneer Levi. Insecure and not totally committed to the ideals of the collective, Ida hides her mother’s valuable candlesticks with an Arab woman in a neighboring village, opening her up to blackmail and leading to unforeseen unfortunate consequences that spiral out of control.

The second section presents the perspective of David, the charismatic leader sent from the established, smaller Kvutzat Kinneret to oversee the creation of this new, large kibbutz further south in the Galilee. David, 28, is a decade older than the newly arrived pioneers. He is with his wife Hannah and young daughter Ruth, but his attention is more on Sarah, one of the new pioneers with whom he steals away to have sex at every opportunity. Although regarded as a leader, David’s lack of empathy, and his impulsivity lead to dangerous situations, especially when it comes to relations with neighboring Arabs.

The final part of the book is told from Hannah’s perspective, and it is a strong feminist antidote to her husband’s point of view. While David, lost in books and philosophy, is a slave to his sexual drives, Hannah is grounded, emotionally and physically connected to both her family and the Land of Israel. The bond Pick evokes between Hannah and Ruth, especially as the girl tragically dies of sepsis from a cut to her leg, is visceral and exceptionally moving.

The kibbutz in the novel is modeled on Ein Harod, founded in 1921 at the foot of Mount Gilboa. Pick read about the kibbutz in Ari Shavit’s hugely popular 2013 book, “My Promised Land.” She was inspired to research the early kibbutzim movement and visit Ein Harod, delving into its archives for a significant portion of the six weeks she spent over three visits to Israel in 2015-2016 on an Ontario Arts Council grant.

“Shavit’s chapter on Ein Harod and the early days of the kibbutzim struck me as very novelistic. There was drama and intensity and difficult conditions and everything you can use as a backdrop for a novel,” Pick told The Times of Israel.

Upon arriving at Ein Harod, Pick was amazed to find an extensive archive stored in cardboard boxes.

“None of it was digitized, at least not when I was there,” she said.

Ein Harod archivist Ilana Bernstein showed Pick helpful primary sources, including early diaries and letters.

By combing through the archives and listening to oral histories of older members of the kibbutz, Pick discovered key nuggets that would eventually make their way into “Strangers with the Same Dream.”

“I sort of used little bits of things. People would tell me different versions of the same story, like there was a charismatic leader who was known for sleeping with lots of the women, there was a suicide, or two suicides maybe, a hint of a murder — but none of the plot points were transposed. I just used them to inform the feeling,” Pick said.

Pick’s research on the kibbutzim’s baby houses and collective child rearing practices, as well as her viewing a documentary film on the early kibbutz movement with a strong feminist perspective helped shape the novel, especially the section told from Hannah’s point of view.

Pick was interested not only in the Jewish Zionist experience, but also in that of the Arabs living in the areas being settled by the pioneers. She did extensive reading (in English translation) of available materials on the subject.

“I was interested in the early psychology of two groups of people that were there and what that must have been like,” she said.

“Strangers with the Same Dream” is a work of historical fiction, and not documentary history. But as often happens with any book about Israelis and Palestinians, it has been criticized for being unbalanced.

A review by Bill Gladstone in the Canadian Jewish News accused Pick of political revisionism and a left-wing (pro-Palestinian) bias.

“‘Strangers with the Same Dream’ seems to reflect a level of political insight and consciousness that has more to do with the present moment than with the period it is supposed to be describing,” he wrote.

“Political revisionism is the filter through which too many people view events in the Middle East these days. Among the left-leaning crowd, it’s fashionable to cast the Jews as colonizers and Arabs as victims. These attitudes seem embedded in many passages of the novel,” Gladstone wrote.

From the outset, Pick was willing to risk critique of her portrayal of a place and time so central to the national narratives of two peoples living in conflict for more than a century. She remained undeterred in tackling a subject that captivated her.

“I felt acutely aware that it was a challenging topic, that I would have to work really hard to get it right… By choosing a short period of time and going deeply into it, I felt I could do it. It would be hard, but I could do it,” Pick said.

“The book is what it is. It’s a piece of art first and foremost,” she said.

Marc Faber Resigns After Saying ‘Thank God White People Populated America’

By Chris Menahan

Famed Swiss investor Marc Faber was booted off the board of Sprott on Tuesday for saying America is better off because it was settled by whites and not blacks.

“The recent comments by Dr. Faber are deeply disappointing and are completely contradictory with the views of Sprott and its employees,” said Peter Grosskopf, CEO of Sprott. “We pride ourselves on being a diverse organization and comments of this sort will not be tolerated. We are committed to providing an inclusive workplace for all of our employees and we extend the same respect to our clients and investors.”

From The Daily Caller:

Faber made a series of racially charged remarks in his 15-page newsletter The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report for October. Faber defended Confederate statues, arguing against taking them down because the men they honored were only trying to defend slavery. Faber also said that it was good that white people, instead of black people, settled in America.

“And thank God white people populated America and not the blacks. Otherwise, the US would look like Zimbabwe, which it might look like one day anyway, but at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority. I am not a racist, but the reality — no matter how politically incorrect — needs to be spelled out as well. (And let’s not forget that the African tribal heads were more than happy to sell their own slaves to white, black and Arab slave dealers.),” Faber wrote in the newsletter.

Faber defended his comments, saying that he was only stating facts on the matter. “If stating some historical facts makes me a racist, then I suppose that I am a racist. For years, Japanese were condemned because they denied the Nanking massacre,” Faber said.

Faber is also being banned from television, as Business Insider reports:

“We do not intend to book him in the future,” a CNBC representative told Business Insider on Tuesday.

“Faber does not appear on the network often and will not be on in the future,” a representative for Fox Business Network said.

A person familiar with the situation at Bloomberg TV gave a similar statement, noting that the network had not booked Faber since June 2016. “He hasn’t appeared on Bloomberg TV since last summer, and there are no plans to book Mr. Faber,” the person said.

In an email to Business Insider, Faber said the networks’ decision wasn’t consequential to him. “Not sure this is a huge loss,” Faber said.

Paul Krugman reacted to the news with glee, saying Faber came out as a “pro-slavery (!) white supremacist.”

But maybe something deeper. Consider Marc Faber, who warned incessantly about hyperinflation back in 2009-10 http://www.businessinsider.com/marc-faber-hyperinflation-2010-9  4/

And now comes out as a pro-slavery (!) white supremacist http://www.businessinsider.com/marc-faber-investment-letter-white-people-blacks-confederate-statues-2017-10  5/

Photo published for Marc Faber, author of influential 'Gloom, Doom, and Boom,' report, says 'thank God white people...

Marc Faber, author of influential ‘Gloom, Doom, and Boom,’ report, says ‘thank God white people…

“Otherwise, the US would look like Zimbabwe… but at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority,” Faber wrote…


Krugman did not explain how pointing out the fact African tribal leaders sold slaves to Americans and others makes one “pro-slavery.”

This article originally appeared on Information Liberation.

Neil Gorsuch (White Freemason) Is Reportedly Alienating His Colleagues in the Supreme Court Left and Right

Long after his presidency is over and Trump has finally shuffled off this mortal coil, Neil Gorsuch will likely still be sitting on the Supreme Court, much to the delight of American conservatives. Gorsuch’s fellow Supreme Court justices do not appear to share their glee. Multiple reports indicate that almost from the moment he was confirmed, the dyed-in-the-wool constructionist has rubbed members of the court the wrong way—and not just the liberals on the bench.

Last month, Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker cataloged all of the judicial norms and practices the Trump appointee has violated during his brief tenure. He has dominated oral arguments where new associates are expected to defer to their seniors, penned condescending dissents challenging the wisdom of a court whose justices claim more than 140 years of experience between them, and barely concealed his contempt for Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Gorsuch has also broken SCOTUS’ unwritten rule that no justice embarrass the high court with any kind of overt political advocacy. In less than a year of service, he has delivered speeches at the conservative Fund for American Studies (at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, no less), as well as at the University of Louisville, where he was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (McConnell was instrumental in blocking the appointment of Merrick Garland, whom Gorsuch ultimately supplanted.)

“There is nothing unlawful about Gorsuch’s speeches, though it’s hard to say just what the ethical rules are for Supreme Court Justices,” Toobin writes. “They are exempt from the code that governs the conduct of other federal judges, so the Court has traditionally relied on informal self-policing.”

John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, has reportedly taken exception with Antonin Scalia’s successor. According to CNN, a “rivalry” has emerged between the two conservatives, with the chief justice refusing to join Gorsuch’s dissent in a case overturning an Arkansas law that prohibited same-sex partners from being listed on a child’s birth certificate. (Roberts previously dissented in Obergefell.) And while he’s been fairly consistent throughout his judicial career, the piece notes, “Roberts may be more open to negotiating with liberals if Gorsuch continues to bolster the hard right.”

Gorsuch’s relationships with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan appear markedly more contentious. During oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case that could determine the future of partisan gerrymandering in U.S. congressional districts, Ginsburg appeared to bristle at the associate justice’s originalist line of questioning, asking him curtly, “Where did one person/one vote come from?”—a reference to Chief Justice Earl Warren’s ruling in 1964’s Reynolds v. Sims.

Earlier this week, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who has covered the court for decades, told the Supreme Court podcast First Mondays that Kagan has “really taken him on” in conference. “It’s [been] a pretty tough battle,” she said, “and it’s going to get tougher.”

“Why is Totenberg’s reporting here so extraordinary?” asks Mark Joseph Stern of Slate. “Because it’s astonishing that any reporter would hear details from conference, let alone score some genuinely juicy scuttlebutt…If rumors leak about a justice’s behavior in conference—and they basically never do—it is almost certainly a justice who leaked them. And when justices leak—which again, happens very rarely—they do so on purpose.”

Gorsuch is an illegitimate justice occupying a stolen Supreme Court seat. If he leaves behind a legacy of corporate plunder and institutional rot, he will have honored the man who nominated him.

H/T Slate

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.