critics

In visiting Hungary, critics say, Netanyahu puts realpolitik ahead of ties with local Jews

Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Hungary since the fall of the Iron Curtain 26 years ago. But next week’s three-day trip, hailed by both sides as an opportunity to further advance growing bilateral ties, is marred by bitter division over a controversy that emerged just this week, focusing on the Israeli government’s response to a Hungarian government campaign deemed “anti-Semitic.”

Hungarian Jews, and Israeli politicians from the opposition, have taken issue with Netanyahu’s too-gentle admonishment of a billboard campaign targeting Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros, while maintaining that criticism of the liberal philanthropist was legitimate, and his apparent dismissal of the Hungarian prime minister’s praise for the country’s fascist wartime leader and Hitler ally Miklos Horthy.

The Soros posters show a large picture of the Jewish businessman laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community have said the campaign is provoking anti-Semitism. In going ahead with the visit, critics have accused Netanyahu of putting Israel’s political and economic goals ahead of the concerns of the Hungarian-Jewish community.

Bilateral trade between Hungary and Israel exceeds $500 million, and Budapest recently opened a $50 million euro credit line at Hungary’s Eximbank to facilitate cooperation between Hungarian and Israeli businesses. Budapest has also expressed interest in purchasing Israeli natural gas.

“Hungary and Israel are very important political, academic and economic allies”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said last month during a visit in Jerusalem, as Netanyahu’s office indicated that Budapest and Jerusalem were looking to advance bilateral economic cooperation mainly in automotive technologies, energy, water and academics.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival next week to discuss such matters and others, Hungarian authorities said the Soros posters will be removed, indicating that the campaign had achieved its goals and was no longer necessary.

But the damage appears to be done.

Soros released a statement in response to the campaign saying he was “distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

András Heisler, who heads the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities, known as Mazsihisz, wrote in an open letter last week that “the billboard campaign, while not openly anti-Semitic, can still very much unleash uncontrolled anti-Semitic and other feelings. This poisonous message hurts all of Hungary.”

Playing with fire

Whether consciously anti-Semitic or not, the posters clearly evoked dormant anti-Semitism, said Rabbi Zoltán Radnóti, a senior Mazsihisz leader. Several of the posters have been defaced with Stars of David or slogans such as ‘Dirty Jew’,” the Budapest-born rabbi told The Times of Israel this week. “This billboard campaign is unacceptable and dangerous,” he said.

Soros, a declared non-Zionist and harsh critique of successive Israeli governments, is seen in Hungary “primarily as a Jew,” Radnóti explained. “And this has been stressed recently many times, implicitly and explicitly, playing with imagery resembling the interwar stereotypical caricature of the wicked Jew pulling the strings and laughing. In the context of this campaign, one cannot differentiate between slamming Soros and playing with blatant anti-Semitism.”

Ira Forman, a former US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism (SEAS), concurred: “You don’t have to unequivocally call something out as anti-Semitic to point out it is wrong and dangerous,” he told The Times of Israel. “Given Hungary’s history and the levels of anti-Semitic sentiment inside the country, the [Victor] Orban government is once again playing with fire.”

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017, in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Even former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan attacked Budapest over the anti-Soros billboards. “Beyond stopping the campaign, it is essential to have an open debate on xenophobia, anti-Semitism and above all on the indispensable role of independent civil society organizations in a democratic state,” he said in a statement.

Jerusalem’s change of tone

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani, initially agreed, too, saying last week that the billboard campaign not only evokes “sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”

But the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday issued a “clarification,” reportedly at Netanyahu’s behest, which states that while Israel deplores anti-Semitism and supports Jewish communities in confronting this hatred, criticism of Soros was legitimate.

“In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” the Foreign Ministry stated.

For Hungary’s Jews, this clarification, or “retraction,” as some called it, came “as an utter shock,” Radnóti said. “We would expect the prime minister of Israel to stand up against all forms of explicit and implicit anti-Semitism — or even attacks that might trigger waves of anti-Semitism.”

For Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist researching European political extremism and populism, it is obvious that Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, put the interests of his government ahead of those of the Hungarian Jewish community. “It is also another example of how Netanyahu provides cover for radical-right politicians who at the very least use anti-Semitic dog-whistles,” he said.

Under Netanyahu, Israel’s realpolitik trumps the concerns of local Jewish communities, lamented Adi Kantor, a research associate at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“That’s a clear case of a double [standard],” she told the Times of Israel on Thursday. On the one hand, the prime minister recently disinvited German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel because he met with a leftist Israeli human rights group. But then he gladly visits Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Victor Orban, who backs problematic billboard campaigns and praised Miklos Horthy, the Hitler ally, as an ‘exceptional statesman,’” she argued.

“Israel’s reaction should have been a lot more severe. Where are the government’s moral red lines? Are we willing to speak to someone who praises a man on whose watch half a million Jews were sent to their deaths?” Kantor asked.

Praise for an anti-Semite

Orban’s praise for Horthy, made in a June 21 speech, has been widely denounced by Jewish groups. The Anti-Defamation League called Horthy a “notorious anti-Semite.”

The AJC noted that he was “responsible for the systematic discrimination and persecution of Hungarian Jews leading up to the Holocaust.” Horthy remained the head of state during the Nazi occupation, during which 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, according to the ADL.

Amrani, Jerusalem’s ambassador in Budapest, initially expressed his displeasure at Orban’s praise for Horthy and sought clarifications. But Israel’s Foreign Ministry later accepted the explanation provided by Foreign Minister Szijjártó. History must be respected, argued the Hungarian foreign minister, “and the historical facts indicate that the activities of Miklós Horthy as governor included both positive and extremely negative periods.”

Regent of Hungary Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya with Adolf Hitler, year unspecified (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Szijjártó’s statement adds insult to injury, fumed MK Yair Lapid, the son of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor. “The prime minister of Israel, son of a historian and a man with a keen sense of history, cannot ignore this attempt to whitewash Hungary’s past,” he stormed earlier this month in an op-ed in The Times of Israel. “If he has any national pride, the Prime Minister should demand a retraction from Viktor Orban. If this is not forthcoming, he must cancel his visit to Hungary in protest.”

Netanyahu is expected to see his Hungary trip through. After a short trip to Paris on Saturday night, the prime minister will on Monday head to Budapest for meetings with Orban and the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Normalizing ties with Europe’s radical right?

Once upon a time, Orban’s praise for Horthy would have caused outcry across party lines in Israel, assessed Mudde, the Dutch researcher, who was in Israel this week.

“The time has ended several years ago, when Likud and Netanyahu made the wrong assessment that Europe is anti-Israel and Israel should work with whoever is pro-Israel,” Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, said. “This has led to a formal and informal normalization of relations to the radical right in Europe and a bigger and bigger tolerance for anti-Semitic dog-whistles and historical revisionism by ‘pro-Israel’ forces.”

This policy will immediately backfire, he predicted, “as it will weaken Israel’s critique of anti-Semitism or historical revisionism of ‘anti-Israel’ forces.”

George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations arriving for a meeting in Brussels, April 27, 2017. (AFP/POOL/OLIVIER HOSLET)

And yet, the criticism is not universal. Rabbi Slomó Köves from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, for instance, defended the anti-Soros billboard campaign as “definitely not very elegant” but not necessarily anti-Semitic. In today’s Hungary, the billionaire is not seen as a “symbol of the Jew, but of the international financial speculator,” said Köves, who is scheduled to meet Netanyahu next week in Budapest.

In this context, Jerusalem was right in its reserved response to the controversy. “Israel has to be very careful [about] when to get involved in a local political dispute,” Köves told The Times of Israel.

The Budapest-born rabbi considers Orban’s comments about Horthy inaccurate. This episode was especially hurtful for him since his family was “almost totally extinguished” by the fascist leader’s actions, he noted.

“But this issue actually connects to a general question that is faced in almost every country,” he added. “How should we relate to symbolic historical figures that have a mixed record of unquestionable accomplishments and sinful actions,” such as Germany’s Hindenburg France’s Clemenceau.

What about anti-Semitism in Hungary?

Earlier this month, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau “expressed his pleasure at the fact that Jewish life in Hungary is flourishing,” and thanked Orbán for his assistance in this respect, according to a press release issued by the prime minister’s office.

During their meeting in Budapest, Orbán assured Lau that “Hungary’s Jewish community is under the unconditional protection of the Government.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets with a delegation of Jewish leaders on July 6, 2017. (European Jewish Association)

Köves, who attended the meeting, agrees. Last year, only 48 anti-Semitic incidents took place in his country, none of them violent, he said. In the UK, in the same period, 1,500 such incidents had taken place, he said.

The Orban government is “highly supportive of the cultural and religious life of the Jewish community,” he added. “There is not even a discussion about banning kosher shechita [slaughter] or brit mila [circumcision] in Hungary unlike in other European countries. I strongly believe that in today’s Europe we have to deeply appreciate these facts.”

An ADL poll from 2015, however, found that 40 percent of Hungarians harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. Six out of 10 respondents agreed with the statement, “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

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This Israeli ex-Salafist is one of Europe’s most outspoken critics of radical Islam

BERLIN — Once a fundamentalist Salafist, Ahmad Mansour has turned into one of Europe’s most outspoken critics of radical Islam.

Born and raised in the Israeli-Arab village of Tira (northeast of Kfar Saba), Mansour studied psychology at Tel Aviv University before moving to Berlin. In the German capital, he made it his mission to fight the radicalization of young Muslims in Germany.

“One of the reasons why the redemption offered by the Islamists is so attractive to people with a Muslim cultural background is that it rests on religious ideas and cultural motives they are familiar with,” Mansour told The Times of Israel in a recent Berlin interview.

“So the challenge to German society is not only to respond to the problems of these young people before the Salafists and Islamists catch them, but also to educate them in a Western attitude that will make them immune to Islamist incitement,” he said.

A frequent guest on German television talk shows and a regular newspaper contributor, Mansour argues that Europeans should not be overly tolerant of the outdated values prevalent in Muslim subcultures throughout the Continent. To do so, he says, would come at the expense of Western democratic ideals.

Mansour warns that these ghetto societies are breeding grounds from which jihadist organizations recruit terrorists that execute assaults inside and outside of Europe.

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Christoph Ena)

Indeed, many of the recent terror attacks on European targets were committed by locals — citizens of Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany — including the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the April 2016 stabbing of a German police officer in Hannover, and this week, Manchester.

British-born Salman Abedi was identified as the suicide bomber who killed 22 people, including several children, on Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, northwest England.

What’s more, a significant number of Europeans travel to the Middle East to fight alongside IS, Al Qaeda and other Islamist militias in countries like Afghanistan, Syria or Pakistan. Therefore, Mansour insists, jihadism is not only a foreign policy problem but a domestic one as well, given the amount of European homegrown terrorism.

As a program director, counselor and educator, Mansour educates young people growing up in insular Muslim communities and tries to immunize them against inciters seeking to recruit them for jihadism.

Ahmad Mansour lecturing at Campus Muengersdorf University. (Marc Neugroeschel/Times of Israel)

He works with organizations such as the European Foundation for Democracy, HAYAT, which offers counseling to those at risk of influence by violent radicals, and the HEROES educational initiative for immigrants.

He also counsels families and peers of mostly young radical Muslims with the goal of helping them influence their loved ones for the better.

His recent book “Generation Allah,” which is a bestseller in Germany, has been celebrated as a wake-up call to German society and a courageous critique — not only of radical Islam, but also of German attitudes towards it.

Mansour is the recipient of a number of awards, but he is also the target of hostility by radical Muslims and actors on the political left who accuse him of Islamophobia. He requires heavy protection by police and personal bodyguards when appearing in public, but remains undeterred in spreading his message. He expounds on this in the following interview with The Times of Israel.

'Generation Allah,' by Ahmad Mansour (published in German). (Courtesy)

In your book “Generation Allah” you describe how you fell for Salafism and how you eventually left this radical ideology behind. You grew up in the Arab-Israeli village of Tira. Are the reasons for the radicalization of Muslims in Israel different from reasons why young Muslims in Germany become Islamists?

Essentially, no. The pattern is always the same. Young people experience an upbringing that combines family problems with an authoritarian education. This, along with exposure from a young age to certain forms of Islam, causes fear and insecurities that make people susceptible to the redemption-promises of Salafist and Islamist preachers if they experience some kind of emotional, moral, psychological or social crisis.

I think that similar to what is happening in Germany, Israeli society is also increasingly ignoring radicalization among Muslim Israelis and isn’t doing anything about it. Israel is focused on the conflict with Hamas, with Gaza and with the Palestinians, and forgets about the problems of Muslim civil society in Israel. Also, Israeli society has to understand that Islamism cannot only be fought on the battlefield.

You write that your high school graduation marked a crossroad in your life at which you began to turn your back on radical Islam. Does this mean that something can be done by Israel’s education system to fight radicalization?

What was decisive for me was not so much the Bagrut [Israeli high school diploma], but rather the experience that I created during that time and afterwards. I moved to Tel Aviv, I met new people, I encountered new ideas. I studied psychology at Tel Aviv University and widened my horizon. All this encouraged me to question my old convictions and to change them eventually.

In particular you write that the interaction with Jews was helpful to overcome anti-Semitic stereotypes.

This is certainly true.

So could it be a good idea to promote more Jewish-Arab coeducation in Israeli high schools in order to fight Muslim radicalization among Israeli Arabs?

Well… I haven’t lived in Israel for 10 years and my expertise is more on German society… but possibly this might be a promising approach.

How many Europeans are currently fighting for Islamist militias in the Middle East?

‘There is a whole subculture of Salafists and of Muslims who are not radical yet, but who are highly susceptible to Islamist incitements’

Intelligence services registered 1,960 Islamist fighters, but suggest that the true estimate is likely two or three times that. Given the number of inquiries I get from desperate peers and parents who call me when they suspect that their friends or children have disappeared to some Middle Eastern war zone, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were even much higher than that.

However, those who leave Europe are just the tip of the iceberg. The much bigger problem is that there is a whole subculture of Salafists and of Muslims who are not radical yet, but who are highly susceptible to Islamist incitements and who could potentially be recruited for jihadist activities. I think that we are a looking at tens of thousands of people in Germany alone. This is what I call the “generation Allah.” And these are the people who should be the focus of political attention and educational initiatives.

What caused this Islamist ideology to become so influential in Europe?

I don’t think that we are talking about a particularly European problem here. Islamism and jihadism are global phenomena that have finally reached Europe as well. But while Europe didn’t do anything in particular to create the problem, it is exacerbating it by its inaction.

Ahmad Mansour advocates for better integration of first and second generation immigrants into European society. (Franziska Richter)

What exactly do you mean?

Islamism cannot be explained solely as a reaction to racism or discrimination against Muslim minorities, which certainly exists here in Germany, as it does elsewhere. Yet a lack of effort to integrate migrants and the children of migrant families who have lived in Germany for two or three generations means that we are missing the opportunity to spread Western values to people who were been born in this country but that we leave their socialization to Muslim subcultures, where they are often educated in a spirit contrary to German democratic ideals. That alone does not necessarily turn them into radicals. But it makes them more susceptible to Islamist propaganda once they experience a personal crisis.

You write that Salafists are better social workers?

People who subscribe to Islamism don’t explicitly look for a religious ideology from the beginning. Instead, they seek redemption from all kinds of social and psychological problems. The Salafists and Islamists approach these people, they listen to them, they invite them to their mosques and integrate them into communities, where they experience a sense of solidarity and belonging that they are desperate for. They also give them the feeling that they are part of an elite that understands a divine revelation others are ignorant of. In doing so, they give them a sense of superiority that compensates for experiences of marginality often encountered by members of the Muslim minority in Western societies.

Ahmad Mansour. (Heike Steinweg)

German society needs to integrate these young people and provide them a sense of identity based on Western values, rather than one based on an anti-Western counter-culture and patriarchal, archaic values that, regrettably, are often tolerated by Germans in the name of multiculturalism.

We just saw in the recent referendum on Turkey’s constitution, in which Turkish expats in Germany were allowed to vote, that 450,000 Turkish people living in Germany voted for the establishment of a dictatorship. Is that a sign of failed integration?

Most certainly. These voters displayed their disregard for the democratic values of the German constitution. Moreover, they were also attracted by Erdogan’s Islamist rhetoric that presents the West as an enemy of the Muslim world. This proves their susceptibility for Islamist world views.

What can be done to improve the integration of Muslims into German society?

First of all, the job starts with the Muslim community itself. Muslims have to accept the values of the society in which they chose to live. And that is what I am dedicating my all my efforts to. However, such endeavors are often undermined by the German government and by the dominant forces in Germany society who sideline liberal Muslims and cooperate with Islamists instead.

How so?

I’ll give you two examples: At the commemoration service for the victims of last December’s Berlin Christmas market terror attack, Islamist imam Ferid Heider preached, surrounded by German chancellor Angela Merkel, former German president Joachim Gauk, and other high ranking officials from the German government and Church.

Candles, flowers and individual messages are placed at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Christmas market attack near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin on December 24, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Heider disseminates anti-Western and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. On his Facebook page he recommends a book by the Egyptian-Qatari theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is one of the leading voices of Islamism worldwide and who condones Palestinian suicide bombing. Not only is this a slap in the face of the victims of the terror attack, it lends legitimacy to an Islamist who preaches anti-Western values. Think about what must be going on in the head of a young Muslim in Germany who sees on TV that this Islamist preacher is promoted by the German chancellor and the German president.

‘Think about what must be going on in the head of a young Muslim in Germany who sees on TV that this Islamist preacher is promoted by the German chancellor and the German president’

In another incident in 2015, today’s German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who back then served as the German government’s minister for economy, was joined by Aiman Mayzyek, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, on his trip to the Gulf states. Mayzyek’s association, like the other established Islamic organizations in Germany, promotes Islamism. Sadly, the German government prefers to speak with them rather than with representatives of Germany’s liberal Muslim community.

But how come that Salafists and Islamists in Germany are organized so well, while liberal Muslims aren’t?

First of all, liberal Muslims don’t have such a desire to congregate, because for them religion is a private matter and they don’t pursue a political agenda as the Islamists do. Second, we liberal Muslims lack funds, since we don’t get any money from Saudi Arabia or Turkey, who sponsor the established Muslim organizations in Germany to influence German policy and to promote their Islamist agenda.

Illustrative: A protest held by Muslim Salafi groups against the French military attack on Mali, in front of the French embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, January 18, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

What role does the Middle East conflict play in the radicalization of young Muslims?

‘People don’t subscribe to the ideology of Islamism because they grieve the experience of Palestinians in Gaza’

None at all. People don’t subscribe to the ideology of Islamism because they grieve the experience of Palestinians in Gaza.

Demonization of Israel and Jews is an expression of anti-Semitism deeply intertwined with Islamists ideas. It has very little to do with the actual Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You also criticize German society’s inaction in regard to Muslim anti-Semitism.

Muslim anti-Semitism is a real problem in German society. In many schoolyards the term “Jew” is used as a curse word. Just a few weeks ago a student at a Berlin high school was beaten by his classmates after he revealed that he was Jewish. But while there are strong efforts to fight anti-Semitism from the political right, many Germans are cynically inclined to accept Muslim anti-Semitism in the name of a problematic understanding of multicultural tolerance.

It is unacceptable that a German principal, when informed about anti-Semitic acts committed by Muslims students at his school, says something like, “Don’t be so upset. This is just normal among these folks.”

This is not just a slap in the face of the Jewish victims, but also of liberal Muslims who are equated with Islamists and radicals.

Wonder Woman: Critics First Reactions Say It’s The Best DC Film Yet

It’s no secret; DC Entertainment has had trouble wooing critics in the past. After Christopher Nolan’s work with Batman wrapped, the studio found itself floundering to nab love with critics. Films like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got lackluster attention – and Suicide Squad was torn to shred by the press. This year, both Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have hoped to change that reputation with its upcoming releases. In less than a month, Wonder Woman will finally hit theaters, and an embargo just lifted for critics.

Now, the Internet is buzzing with first reactions and partial reviews of Wonder Woman. So, DC diehards, you can breathe now. Critics are calling Wonder Woman the best DC film to date.

In the following slides, you can read up on the overwhelming positive reaction to Wonder Woman. Reporters all have their favorite parts, but the reactions all agree on one thing: Wonder Woman is the kind of film which will leave you inspired. Alisha Grauso calls the film “a truly heroic light [the] DCEU desperately needs.” Several have even gone so far as to liken the film’s impact to the kind Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy commanded.

Talk about pressure, huh?

Of course, the cast of Wonder Woman will be happy to hear critics are so far enamored with the film. Earlier today, one of the film’s actresses opened up about her take on the blockbuster. The star, who plays General Antiope, said Wonder Woman was about much more than female empowerment; It is about love and untempered justice.

“Yes, it’s a female superhero, and it’s never been done before. But the generation, the young girls and young boys that are going to be our future, they’re going to flock to the cinema. And the message of this movie is not just female empowerment. It’s about love and justice. That’s what the film’s about. And what a great message to spread to our little ones.”

After reading up on the reactions below, let us know if you are still hyped to see Wonder Woman! Hit us up at @ComicBook to let us know!

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

Joining Gadot in the international cast are Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui. Patty Jenkins directs the film from a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, story by Zack Snyder and Allan Heinberg, based on characters from DC Entertainment. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston.

MACRON UNVEILS DIVERSE CABINET FEATURING CRITICS, ADVOCATES OF ISRAEL

 

French President Emmanuel Macron presented a diverse cabinet of 22 ministers, including a Jew, a Muslim and both advocates and critics of Israel.

Macron, a centrist who had served in governments led both by Socialists and Republicans before his election on May 7 on an independent ticket, appointed on Wednesday as his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a former defense minister under the previous president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party.

 

In 2014, Le Drian wrote in a statement that France “condemns” the firing of rockets into Israel “but requests that Israel” minimize any harm to civilians in its attacks on Hamas.

Macron appointed Edouard Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of the main center-right The Republicans party, as prime minister.

Macron appointed to health minister Agnes Buzyn, a physician born to a Polish Jewish couple. Her father survived the Holocaust and her mother was born in France shortly after the war to Jewish immigrants from Poland. She is one of 11 women whom Macron made ministers – exactly half of his cabinet.

Francois Bayrou, a billionaire-turned-politician who has in the past criticized what he has called Israel’s “arbitrary and unjust arrests of Palestinians,” among other alleged actions by the Jewish state, was named minister of state – a position equivalent to minister without portfolio which nonetheless suggests seniority.

Bruno le Maire of The Republicans party was made minister of the economy. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.

Last year, le Maire criticized Hollande’s government for supporting a vote at the United Nations educational branch, UNESCO, which ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. He called it “a moral and political error.”

Marielle De Sarnez, a former lawmaker at the European Parliament who in 2010 visited Hamas-controlled Gaza and co-authored a letter urging Israel to lift its blockade of the area, was appointed as the minister in charge of European affairs. The letter she co-signed did not mention Hamas’ violations of human rights and terrorist activities. It also praised the work of UNRWA, a UN agency which Israel in those years accused of incitement, as “fantastic.”

Macron appointed Mounir Majhoubi, a 33-year-old entrepreneur whose family is Muslim and has Moroccan roots, to be France’s minister in charge of digitalization. Majhoubi in 2010 opened a successful high-tech firm together with his then business partner, the French-Jewish developer Marc-David Choukroun.

Taking a page from Trump, white nationalist mocks critics onstage during Texas speech

http://www.timesofisrael.com/taking-a-page-from-trump-white-nationalist-mocks-critics-onstage-during-texas-speech/

 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It’s remarkable the difference a few Nazi salutes can make.

White nationalist and self-styled leader of the so-called “alt-right” movement, Richard Spencer, only managed to bring a few supporters to the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University on Tuesday night, but outside the ripple effect of his movement was obvious.

Spencer was largely known only to his extremist supporters and some journalists until a video went viral last month of him giving a speech in DC, during which his shouts of “hail Trump, hail victory, hail our people” were greeted with cheers and a handful of attendees giving the Nazi salute.

If people thought this historically conservative campus in deep red East Central Texas would welcome the newly famous white nationalist, a diverse crowd of hundreds of students and supporters rallied in the heart of the university to prove them wrong.

News of Spencer’s planned address had riled up the university’s students, also known as “Aggies,” who together with A&M officials, organized a host of counter-events including a silent march, a free concert in the massive football stadium, Kyle Field, and an energetic protest right outside the building where Spencer was speaking and where state riot police eventually had to clear the boisterous crowd.

In a sense, the scene bore some of the hallmarks of similar spectacles in Israel — a rally or speech by an extremist and a handful of supporters, outnumbered exponentially by media, counter-protesters, and the police.

Protesters fill the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University, where so-called alt-right leader Richard Spencer gave a speech on December 6, 2016. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Chanting “no Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA,” the protesters held up a slew of posters and placards ranging from the direct — a depiction of Hitler with a gun in his mouth and the words “follow your leader” — to the mundane, such as a man dressed in a Santa suit holding up a sign that read: “Richard Spencer, you are on the naughty list.”

There were also American flags held aloft outside the student union, next to masked protesters carrying flags emblazoned with the anarchy symbol and one which bore the Communist hammer and sickle symbol, with a Kalashnikov in place of the hammer.

The chants were interrupted by a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” coming from an oversized boombox, while a student singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” could be heard drifting out of the protest rally at Kyle Field.

Inside the lobby of the student center — a living memorial to students who died serving in WWI and WWII — protesters faced off with a handful of alt-right supporters who cited freedom of speech as their reason for demanding to hear Spencer speak, as well as one who loudly espoused Holocaust denial to whoever would listen.

The largely peaceful confrontation was interrupted by a man who shouted “Heil Hitler! Fuck all of you people” and then made a beeline for the door, much to the astonishment of those present. A woman debating with students who referred to herself as “racist and proud of it,” said the man’s outburst was “inappropriate” and “totally wrong.”

A man performs the Nazi salute outside an event hall at Texas A&M University on December 6, 2016, where the leader of the so-called alt-right movement, Richard Spencer, was speaking. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Inside the event hall, there were no Nazi salutes, unlike at the gathering last month in Washington, but Spencer gave a similar speech about the importance of the white race, issuing a call for white people to embrace their identity and regain control of America.

Twice during his address, he interrupted himself to mock and bully his critics.

As one woman who had been walking silently around the hall in a clown suit with a sign that read “he’s the real Bozo,” came back near the stage, Spencer said “she’s dancing, perhaps she’ll lose some weight,” to jeers and some cheers from the audience.

Richard Spencer breaks down what “race” is & why it’s important for Europeans to start identifying as a group.

He was on fire tonight.

In another instance, Spencer taunted a man wearing a T-shirt that said #BTHO hate — a reference to a football saying that A&M fans commonly cheer, hoping to “beat the hell outta” the opposing team — telling him: “You are a white coward. You are not even willing to do that. That t-shirt is total bullshit. You are not even willing to go to the gym. Look at how fat you are.”

Richard Spencer destroys man wearing violent shirt calling him a “white coward” while black supremacists try to shout Spencer down

Spencer seemed to be borrowing a page from US President-elect Donald Trump, whom he’s called an “alt-right hero,” and who routinely mocked opponents and critics — often from the stage — during his controversial campaign for the presidency.

Trump and the alt-right, Spencer said at a press conference prior to the event, “have a deep connection.” Trump for his part had disavowed the group, telling the New York Times last month that it was not a movement he wanted to “energize.”

At that same conference Tuesday, A&M’s Hillel campus Rabbi Matt Rosenberg invited Spencer to read Torah with him, saying “my tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion of love, love embodied by Torah, will you sit down and study Torah with me?”

“Ok, I can’t promise to study with you which is kind of a biggie. But I will promise to talk with you,” Spencer responded, before adding: “Do you really want radical inclusion into the state of Israel, and by that I mean, radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East can go move into Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that? You’re not answering.

“The Jewish people, why are they a people? They are a people precisely because they did not engage in radical inclusion. Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate with the gentiles…,” he said. “That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history, and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves, I respect that. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.”

.@tamu rabbi @aggiehillel asks Spencer if he would study the Torah with him

The university, which once considered opening a satellite campus in the northern Israeli-Arab town of Nazareth, had been grappling with a response to Spencer’s invitation to speak by alumnus Preston Wiginton, a white nationalist with deep ties to former KKK leader and avowed anti-Semite, David Duke.

“[O]ur leadership finds his views as expressed to date in direct conflict with our core values,” the university’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Amy Smith, said prior to the event. “Private citizens are permitted to reserve space available to the public as we are a public university, as is the case here.”

Spencer said he was “a little surprised” by what he termed the university’s overreaction but boasted that it was in his favor.

“It ultimately strengthens the alt-right and strengthens me,” Spencer told the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday. “They are declaring that we are so powerful that they must have … diversity rituals at football stadiums. It’s a lot better than being ignored.”

Alexis Sutter, 21, who is getting her degree in Biomedical Studies at A&M, said students were worried by Spencer’s event but understood that the university’s couldn’t stop it. “That’s why they had all these counter-events.”

“It’s an effective way for people to deal with this situation,” said Sutter, who had just finished writing “love is love is love is love” on a standing wall made of chalkboard where students had been writing messages highlighting unity and diversity all day.

Spencer himself had participated, in true troll fashion, signing the “Aggies United” protest wall with the words “we triggered the world — Richard Spencer.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer wrote on the Aggies United wall, “We triggered the world.”

Pakistani-American A&M student Samir Taruqui, 27, said he came to show solidarity with the protesters at the Aggies United event, and didn’t seem particularly worried about Spencer’s talk or the election of Trump.

“Personally I’m not worried but most of my [Muslim] friends are. I believe that perhaps some racists have been emboldened by the election, but it was always there.”

Justin Newcomb, 25, disagreed, claiming that the “era of white supremacy is gone” and that it should be “allowed to die” if only the media would let it.

Newcomb, an Orthodox Jew who does not attend A&M, drove three hours from Dallas to see the protests. He said the media attention given to the so-called alt-right was “creating more support for the movement.”

“If we gave them no voice, then they’ll go away…with less attention, there will be less white supremacy,” he said.

Riot Police secure the hall at Texas A&M University on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, where so-called alt-right leader, Richard Spencer, gave a talk. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel)

Back outside, tensions ran high when riot police, bigger and better equipped than your average Magavnik (Border Police officer) or Yassamnik (riot police officer), started pushing protesters back to make way for the event’s attendees to leave, with the demonstration briefly turning against the police.

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “who do you protect, who do you serve,” — slogans from Black Lives Matter protests in recent years — were heard, as well as the more provocative “cops and klan go hand in hand”, and a few protesters who answered the call of “don’t shoot” with “shoot back,” apparently a call to shoot police.

Sentiment shifted again when a shoving match then broke out between alt-right supporters leaving the event and protesters, as some, including Newcomb and another young man wearing a kippa, tried to keep the warring sides apart. The police stood by as the pushing escalated and two young men gave the Nazi salute to counter-protesters while the air filled with profanities and insults flowing freely from both sides.

A&M police said two non-students were arrested in the protests but gave no details.

UC Berkeley (White Freemasons) suspends course labeled anti-Israel by critics

SAN FRANCISCO (J. Weekly via JTA) — The University of California, Berkeley, has suspended a student-led course, “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” following an outcry from Jewish community leaders who called it biased, anti-Zionist and in violation of the university’s academic standards.

The university made the decision Tuesday after determining that the student facilitator, Paul Hadweh, “did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the DeCal program” for student-led courses, said Dan Mogulof, the school’s assistant vice chancellor.

A day earlier, Berkeley Hillel and its international umbrella group had called on the university’s president, Janet Napolitano, and administrators to condemn the one-credit course in a strongly worded statement.

“Any perusal of the syllabus will show that this is a one-sided course which puts forth a political agenda,” Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut and Berkeley Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman said in the statement. “It does not tell the truth. It ignores history. It ignores facts, such as the inconvenient one that Jews have inhabited Israel for 3,000 years. This course seems to be a matter of political indoctrination in the classroom and is a violation of the newly adopted principles by the UC regents on intolerance.”

The course was to be offered as part of the university’s DeCal program in which students propose and teach one-credit courses under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. Other DeCal classes offered this academic year include “Cal Pokeman Academy,” “Art Anatomy” and “Science in Oakland Elementary Schools.”

The course syllabus said it would cover the history of Palestine from the 1880s to the present and “explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism.” Students were to be required to attend an event “relating to Palestine” during the semester and make a final presentation proposing a “decolonial alternative” to the region’s problems not restricted to the two-state solution.

Forty-three Jewish and educational organizations signed a letter by the Santa Cruz-based Amcha Initiative, a nonprofit that monitors anti-Semitism in higher education, addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks expressing deep concern about the course.

“A review of the syllabus … reveals that the course’s objectives, reading materials and guest speakers are politically motivated, meet our government’s criteria for anti-Semitism and are intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish State and take action to eliminate it,” the letter said.

The letter called the faculty sponsor, Hatem Bazian, “a well-known anti-Zionist activist who is also the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine.”

Here are the details — critics would say the devils — in Colombia’s peace deal with FARC

Like all treaties, Colombia’s peace accord represents a compromise. As chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said Wednesday night as before signing the final pact, “we got the best deal possible. Everyone would have liked to get a little more.”

The Marxist-Leninist FARC long ago gave up any pretense that it could use the talks to force major changes to the political and economic system it has been fighting for 52 years to overthrow. Now it says it will keep fighting to change Colombia — only with its leftist ideals, not AK-47s and grenade launchers.

What FARC has achieved at the bargaining table is more modest. Most of its leaders will probably be able to avoid prison. They got new guarantees the government will do more to protect them from assassination by their enemies. If the guerrillas can successfully transform into a political party, they will clearly pay a big role in the rural parts of Colombia where they have long projected influence, and where the government has promised to bring major new investments.

President Juan Manuel Santos’s goals in the peace process were simple: end the 52-year-old war without giving away too much and agreeing to a deal that would be politically indefensible. From the outset, and to the FARC’s chagrin, he insisted that the accord would ultimately face the judgement of Colombian voters. Therein lies the risk. Now everything is riding on the plebiscite he has scheduled for Oct 2, and his powerful political foe, former president Alvaro Uribe, will be campaigning against the accords.

Santos insists there’s no going back if voters reject the peace deal. The 52-year war with FARC will be back on.

Most of the major elements of the accords were worked out long ago, and versions of their contents have been released publicly. But here’s a quick rundown of what Colombia’s peace deal consists of — what Santos described in an televised address Wednesday night as the five main points.

1. The end of political violence. FARC ceases to be a rebel army and transforms into a political party. Once the accord is officially signed, as soon as late September, the rebels will begin moving into UN-monitored camps where they will disarm in phases over a period of 180 days. Colombia’s military — the lifelong enemies of the guerrillas — will be in charge of setting up security perimeters to protect the camps from potential attacks by drug trafficking groups, right-wing militias and other FARC rivals.

2. Justice for victims of the conflict. Colombia will establish special tribunals to adjudicate war crimes and other atrocities committed by the rebels as well as paramilitary groups and government security forces. It will be akin to a truth-and-reconciliation process. If combatants fully attest to their crimes, they will be eligible for alternative sentences and “restorative” justice aimed at making amends to victims. If they don’t tell the truth, they will be vulnerable to criminal prosecution and up to 20 years behind bars. This is one of the most controversial elements of the peace deal, because Uribe and other critics liken it to a slap on the wrist for FARC “terrorists” guilty of war crimes.

3. Rural development. This was the low-hanging fruit of the peace accords. The government has promised to invest heavily in infrastructure projects and state-building in the long-neglected areas where FARC has held sway. Naturally, once they’re in politics, FARC commanders could play a big role in directing — or administering — those projects. For a country with one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, rural Colombia has a shockingly deficient infrastructure, and the government is simply not present in wide swaths of the country. All that is supposed to change if the deal goes through, ostensibly to the benefit of small farmers.

It should be noted that it is not a land reform agreement: Santos insisted Wednesday that “private property won’t be affected,” in an obvious appeal to powerful landowners who remain skeptical of the deal.

4. FARC in politics. This one is another gamble for the government, and it was the last major sticking point to the final accord. FARC has always insisted it was forced to take up arms in self-defense because so many of its members and other leftists have been wiped out by right-wing assassins while trying to participate in democratic politics. Santos said Wednesday that the rebels will be granted a limited number of seats in Congress through 2018, where they will not have voting rights but can speak on matters pertaining to the implementation of the peace accords. They will be assured a number of seats for two electoral terms after that, but then they will have to win at the ballot box, Santos said. His opponents have already savaged this concession as an outrageous giveaway to the rebels.

5. Ending the drug trade. This is a big one, especially for the United States, the biggest consumer of Colombian cocaine. Colombia’s illegal coca crop is the gasoline that has kept the armed conflict running all these years, and the rebels owe their massive military expansion in the 1990s to an increasing dominance of the drug trade. Under the peace accords, FARC essentially agrees to go out of business as a narcotics trafficking organization, and to work with the government and others attempting to wean Colombia’s rural farmers off coca. It won’t be easy. This is one of the most fraught aspects of the peace deal, and many are bracing for a period of increased bloodshed as other illegal armed groups compete to take over FARC’s considerable share of the billion-dollar coca business.

Trump speech signals shift to Nixon-style coded race language, critics say

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — During the primaries, Donald Trump threw red-meat rhetoric to supporters, pledging to build a wall on the Mexico border and to ban Muslim immigrants. He even told at least one crowd that he wanted to punch a demonstrator who disrupted an event.

Now that he’s the GOP presidential nominee, who needs to appeal to the whole country, some observers say he’s turning to tried-and-true code words to gin up racial animosity and fear among America’s white voters.

Trump “didn’t get on stage and issue a bunch of racial epithets,” said Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie, who watched his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. “We didn’t hear the N-word, and we didn’t hear other words that may offend many people. But just because he didn’t use racial slurs doesn’t mean he didn’t frame issues in a way that people in racial and ethnic groups find problematic.”

Ian Haney Lopez, author of “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class,” went further, saying Trump’s speech surpassed even the coded racial language of Richard Nixon in 1968.

In addition to appealing to whites’ racial anxieties about crime, the celebrity businessman added immigrants to the mix and said refugee families with unknown backgrounds threaten to transform the nation unless drastic measures are taken, Lopez said.

“This was a speech that said essentially that the barbarians are at the gate,” he said.

Samuel LeDoux, a Republican delegate from New Mexico who is Hispanic, said he didn’t hear racial overtones in Trump’s speech.

“I think people are reading too much into it,” said LeDoux, 24, who agrees with Trump’s call to reduce illegal immigration because it is affecting wages. “He comes from New York, a very diverse city.”

When asked Friday for a comment, a Trump spokesman said the campaign was focused on a deadly shooting in Munich, Germany, and would respond later.

Trump has been criticized for his racial language since the beginning of his campaign, which started with his declaration that the Mexican government is “forcing their most unwanted people into the United States,” including drug dealers and rapists.

“In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says ‘we and us,’ he’s only talking about whites in the United States,” said Tomas Summers Sandoval, a history and Latino studies professor at Pomona College, in Claremont, California.

Some have pointed out that Trump’s slogan “America First” was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose primary goal was to keep the United States from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. The group opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

As he sewed up the nomination, Trump declared himself the “law-and-order” candidate. In Cleveland, he repeated the idea.

“I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police. When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country,” he said. “In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate!” Trump exclaimed.

When they hear that phrase, anxious white voters fill in any picture they want in their minds, imagining cutting crime or pushing back against social causes like the women’s movement, said Michael Flamm, Ohio Wesleyan University history professor and author of “In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime.”

But for some, there’s a clear racial element, he said.

“For some people, law and order was a way to express a racially coded message, and some white voters responded to law and order because they believe it supported their anti-civil rights, anti-racial justice beliefs,” Flamm said.

Politicians of both parties have long used coded language to stoke enthusiasm and fear among American voters.

The late political operative Lee Atwater, manager of George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign and a South Carolina native, was open about the evolution of racial code words in political campaigns.

In the early 1950s, racial slurs like the n-word were common. But by 1968, politicians had abandoned those terms, knowing they could backfire. So instead “you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff,” Atwater said in an interview for the book “Southern Politics in the 1990s.”

Faced with racial riots, anti-war protests and rising Vietnam War casualties, Nixon played off the nation’s deep divisions in 1968 by calling for law and order and promising to speak for the “silent majority.” He adopted a “Southern strategy” that emphasized appealing to whites’ disaffection with liberal Democratic civil rights policies but rejecting overtly racist stances.

Critics argued that Nixon’s “silent majority” was merely a coded way of saying middle-class whites. In television commercials, the campaign showed images of bloody protests, burning cities and police in riot gear. Each Nixon commercial ended with the words, “This time vote like your whole world depended on it.”

Much of the coded language remained during Nixon’s 1972 re-election bid.

“The subliminal appeal to the anti-black voter was always in Nixon’s statements and speeches on schools and housing,” Nixon’s top domestic aide, John Ehrlichman, wrote in his 1981 book “Witness to Power.”

President Ronald Reagan referred to “welfare queens,” a term many saw as coded language for black women. He also made an appearance calling for “states’ rights” at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three young civil rights workers were slain in 1964.

The 1988 contest between then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis included the infamous Willie Horton commercial, which featured a black murder suspect who raped a white woman during a weekend furlough program that Dukakis had at one time supported.

More recently, Hillary Clinton has been criticized for her use of the term “superpredator” in the 1990s to refer to a supposed wave of lawless teenagers that never emerged. Critics have complained that the word targeted black and Hispanic youth and led to overzealous prosecution and incarceration.

Critics say new Israeli civics textbook whitewashes and distorts reality

After five years in the works, the Education Ministry released its new high school civics textbook To Be Israeli Citizens on Monday.

The new 514-page textbook, which is set to replace the current version published in 2000, has been at the center of controversy since even before its release over what content to include in a civics book geared towards students in the state and state-religious school system.

Earlier this year, the book’s language editor, Yehuda Yaari penned a letter to the ministry, which was leaked to the media, noting several objections to the text.

Among the divisive excerpts included quotations implicating Arab Israelis in attacks in the wave of terrorism, and citations that it was never proven that the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was due to incitement.

The report also stated that the chapter on human dignity included dozens of quotations from Jewish sources, without including citations from secular thinkers, philosophers, poets, or writers, a reversal of the previous version of the textbook.

Due to the severe backlash, the textbook was revised and several of the problematic segments were removed; for example, the 2015 wave of terrorism was entirely omitted from the book.

The final version of the textbook includes four sections covering: What is a Jewish State?; What is a Democratic State?; Government and Politics in Israel; and Society and Politics in Israel.

Spanning 38 chapters, the book begins with the Declaration of Independence and touches upon the historic right to a state, the identity and makeup of Israel’s citizens, and ends with a chapter on the different views on the desired character of the State of Israel.

Critics of the book have charged that it does not adequately address shared citizenship in a Jewish and democratic state, downplaying key issues such as the divide between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and providing minimal coverage of Arab Israelis, but rather places an emphasis on Jewish nationalism above all, including “God’s promise” to the Jewish people as a justification for the establishment of the State.

Prof. Yossi Dahan, chair of the board of directors of the Adva Center, which provides information on equality and social justice in Israel said from his initial perusal of the book, it offered an unrealistic picture of Israeli society.

He wrote in a Facebook post: “The impression is that one of the goals of the book is to convince students of the existence of a parallel world to the world in which they live, an Israeli reality that almost perfectly fulfilled the vision of the Declaration of Independence.”

In the parallel world that the book creates, aside from three negligible lines on the ‘ethnic divide’ there are no Mizrachi or Ashkenazi [Jews] in Israel, no developing cities, no impoverished neighborhoods and no history of conflict over lands, resources or opportunities. For the writers of the book ‘we are all Jewish so why the conflict’,” he wrote.

Left wing MKs Zehava Galon and Dov Henin also criticized the book shortly after its release and also accused the writers and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of re-writing reality and omitting important aspects and sectors of Israeli society.

The Civics Teachers Council issued a statement criticizing the fact that the ministry withheld the book from them until the “last minute,” though it said it would nevertheless refrain from providing any commentary or criticism of the book within the first 24 hours of its release citing that it was devoted to pedagogy and would need much more time to thoroughly read the entire text.

The Education Ministry released a statement saying, “The book is designed to foster among students an attitude of respect and commitment toward human rights in Israel, toward democratic principles and values and toward the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state.”

“In addition, it is designed to strengthen the common denominator for all the students in the school system, who will be the future adult citizens of the State, and give them the tools that will assist each and every one of them in developing a personal stand as to the vision of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” the ministry said.

Chipotle’s E. coli outbreak threatens sales, emboldens critics

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc’s (CMG.N) food poisoning outbreak in Washington state and Oregon threatens to scare diners away from the popular burrito chain and has become fodder for one of its most vocal critics.

Health officials are scrambling to identify the cause of the E. coli food poisoning that has sickened 39 people, most of whom dined at eight Chipotle restaurants in the greater Seattle and Portland areas. Previously, 41 cases were reported but Oregon authorities have lowered the number in their state by two to 10.

All of Chipotle’s 43 outlets in those cities have been closed since Oct. 31. The company is deep cleaning the closed units, testing and replacing food and has hired consultants to tighten up its food safety.

Analysts expect the closures, and the negative publicity surrounding the outbreak, to depress sales at the roughly 1,900-unit chain that already was seeing its red-hot sales growth cool.

“Even after the company sounds the ‘all-clear,’ we believe that it will take some time for traffic to return,” Maxim Group restaurant analyst Stephen Anderson said in a research note. He estimated that the same-restaurant sales hit could be as much as 75 basis points this quarter and 25 basis points in the first quarter of next year.

Shares in Chipotle, which has had two other food safety lapses this year, closed 1.3 percent lower at $614.98 on Wednesday. The stock closed at just over $750 on Oct. 13.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a critic of Chipotle backed by the food and beverage industry, on Wednesday took a swipe at the chain with a full page ad in the New York Post reading: “You can’t spell ‘Chipotle’ without ‘E. coli’.” In September, that group ran “Chubby Chipotle” ads criticizing the high calorie counts in some Chipotle dishes.

Chipotle has won a loyal following and forced change in the restaurant business with its “food with integrity” policy that includes serving meat from animals that have never received antibiotics.

Health officials say the E. coli O26 strain implicated in this outbreak usually causes less severe illness than the E. coli O157:H7 that killed four children who ate contaminated and undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box (JACK.O) in the early 1990s. No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak.

They suspect that contaminated fresh produce caused the current outbreak, but have yet to pinpoint the source.
Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/05/us-chipotle-mexican-ecoli-idUSKCN0ST2JB20151105#ObZb0mZC61FMbzuq.99