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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Call to Action – Help Us Delete Anti-Semitic Content and Holocaust Denial Posts from Social Media Platforms

In January 2018, the WJC conducted comprehensive research about online anti-Semitism in January 2018 compared to January 2016. Our research found that the use of anti-Semitic symbols and posts denying the Holocaust increased dramatically in January 2018 compared to that same period in 2016.
Some anti-Semitic content has already been deleted by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Yet, there are still many more posts out there!
Today, we are calling on you to report any anti-Semitic posts to these companies to make sure they will be deleted. With your help we can make it happen. So please click on posts and report them to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Report these posts on Facebook:
Report these posts on Twitter:
Report these posts on Instagram:
A Quick Guide for Reporting Anti-Semitic Posts on Social Media 
On Facebook, at the bottom of the image click on the option button then report the post, select “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook” and then “This is inappropriate, annoying or not funny.” And then submit it.
On Twitter, find right corner of a tweet and click the down-facing arrow. When the list appears, scroll down and click on the “Report Tweet” button. Then when a new screen comes up choose the “It's abusive or harmful” option and click next to send the report.
Instagram, on the bottom of the post click on the “three dots” button. Then click the “Report inappropriate” tab followed by the “This photo shouldn’t be on Instagram” tab and then finally the “Hate Speech or symbol.”


In early March, János Lázár, a senior Hungarian minister, posted a video on Facebook complaining about the lack of “white Christians” in Vienna. Muslim migrants, he warned, were destroying the city—and if someone didn’t do something, they would transform Budapest, Hungary’s capital, in a similar way. “If we let them in...our cities,” Lazar told his followers, “the consequences will be crime, impoverishment, dirt, filth and impossible urban conditions.”
Lázár is chief of staff to Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, and his post came about a month before the country goes to the polls in April. It was a classic move from Orbán, something his Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz) had done many times before: play to voters’ fears over Islam and immigration. Facebook removed the video, but it became the latest salvo in a political battle that has made Orbán beloved by the far right in Europe—and loathed by anyone left of France’s Marine Le Pen.
That battle began in 2015, when hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees crossed the Mediterranean and began their journey across Europe, often by foot. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an open-door policy to refugees fleeing Syria, Orbán had a razor-wire fence erected on his country’s border. Across the continent, he was vilified. “The refugees won't be stopped if we just build fences,” Merkel, who grew up behind the Berlin Wall, said of Orbán at the time. “And I've lived behind a fence for long enough.” At a summit in Riga, Latvia, that same year, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker greeted Orbán, saying: “Hello, dictator.”  Hungarians were initially sympathetic to desperate refugees sleeping in parks and train stations before trying to reach France and Germany. But their attitudes quickly hardened. A spate of Islamic State militant group (ISIS) attacks in European cities only increased fear and anger toward migrants, most of whom were Muslim. It was a shift, analysts say, that Orbán and Fidesz deftly exploited.
Over the past three years, the prime minister and his party have maintained a narrow focus on refugees, positioning their re-election campaign in opposition to Merkel’s efforts to require all EU member states to resettle a quota of migrants. In response, Hungarian billionaire financier George Soros, who has called for Europe to accept refugees, has also become one of the Orbán’s primary targets. (Soros, who is Jewish, has claimed the campaign against him is anti-Semitic.)
So far, Orbán’s three-pronged attack—against Muslim migrants, Soros and the EU—appears to have worked, although some say the prime minister’s support is waning. Still, most critics say it is not a question of whether his Fidesz party will win in April, but by how much. Which other far-right groups in Europe see as a hopeful sign for what they can achieve.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's prime minister, and supporters attend a rally in Budapest, Hungary, on March 15, 2012. "Hungary won't be a colony," Orbán told a crowd of tens of thousands of Hungarians on a national holiday commemorating the 1848 revolution. AKOS STILLER/BLOOMBERG/GETTY 

Orbán had an auspicious start in politics during the dying days of the Soviet occupation of Hungary. In 1989, at a ceremony honoring the Communist leader Imre Nagy—whom Moscow executed decades prior—he called for Soviet troops to leave Hungary. A year later, after the Soviets departed, Orbán won a seat in parliament, where he and his Fidesz contemporaries became known for their fiery speeches and anti-establishment politics.
By the mid-1990s, however, Orbán had persuaded his party, Fidesz, to move far to the right. In a nation invaded and conquered first by the Mongols, then the Ottomans, then the Nazis and finally the Soviets, he realized that playing to nationalism could help them win. At the forefront of his rhetoric: the legacy of the Treaty of Trianon, which in 1920 saw 75 percent of Hungary confiscated and given to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia following World War I. Orbán exploited this sense of grievance and betrayal in the run-up to the 1998 elections, when, at 35, he became the country’s youngest prime minister. Defeated four years later, he then became opposition leader when Hungary joined the European Union in 2004.
After the global financial crisis, which battered Hungary’s economy, Orbán returned to power in 2010, winning a landslide election. One of his first acts in office was to restore voting rights and citizenship to the descendants of Hungarians displaced by Trianon. A two-thirds majority in parliament gave Orbán the power to introduce a new constitution, bring on allies to head both the state audit and prosecutor’s office and pack Hungary’s constitutional court with Fidesz appointees. The prime minister lowered the retirement age for judges, forcing hundreds from office, and had Hungary’s election law rewritten to favor Fidesz.
Meanwhile, Orbán’s coterie of wealthy businessmen and tycoons steadily bought up the country’s dwindling independent media outlets. By 2017, all of Hungary’s 18 regional newspapers were owned by pro-government oligarchs. “That is the great difference between Hungary and the United States,” says Paul Lendvai, the Hungarian journalist and author of Orbán: Europe’s New Strongman. “There is no New York Times or CNN. There are no free newspapers or television. They eliminated them.”
But it’s not just the lack of dissenting voices. In 2017, Transparency International warned that the erosion of institutions in Hungary was among the worst in Eastern Europe, and corruption allegations have dogged Orbán during his eight years in power. According to the Hungarian edition of Forbes, the Orbán family, which once lived in a one-room house in rural Hungary, now has a net worth of 23 million euros ($28.3 million), most of it earned since 2010. In March, the EU’s anti-fraud office began investigating Orbán’s son-in-law, István Tiborcz, over a series of public lighting projects. And the far-right Jobbik party, which would appear to be a natural ally of the prime minister given his anti-immigration rhetoric, has called on him to resign and campaigned with the slogan “You work! They steal.”
Orbán’s spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, says Hungary has no greater issue with graft than the rest of Europe. “We are aware of our own rankings. We are not proud of it. We know that corruption we have to cope with, and the agencies responsible for dealing with it are doing their best.”
In response, Orbán’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has only hardened, with the prime minister portraying himself as his country’s savior, protecting Christian Europe against the Muslim hordes. “Orbán’s rhetoric uses migrant as a negative term,” says András Kováts, president of Menedék, which provides legal aid to refugees in Hungary. “Over the past few years, it is been transformed into something like a swear word.”
PER_Orban_03_612815158Refugees are seen at a gas station as they make their way to Hungarian border with Serbia in Belgrade, Serbia, on October 5, 2016. TALHA OZTURK/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY
The migrant crisis was a turning point for the Hungarian prime minister, both ideologically and strategically, says Lendvai, enabling him to divert attention away from concerns over graft and towards immigration. “The migration issue was...the deciding factor, which helped to turn the tide after Orbán won the second elections. At the beginning of 2015, he was very much down, but he managed to turn it around completely.”
By most accounts, the party’s momentum continued into this year. But on February 25, Fidesz faced a crucial election in Hódmezővásárhely, a southern city near the Romanian and Serbian borders. Ahead of the poll, Fidesz was confident that its anti-migrant, anti-Soros message would resonate in a region once overwhelmed by refugees. So it came as a shock to many across the country when an independent, Péter Márki-Zay, won with 57 percent of the vote. Turnout, which was less than 40 percent during the last election in 2014, was a record high.
Critics began wondering if voters had grown tired of Orbán’s message. The day after the result, Daniel Makonnen, who works at Soros’s Open Society Foundation, says dozens of anti-migrant posters that lined the main road between the Budapest airport and the city center “were taken down overnight.”
Within Hungary, some suggested that economic concerns and corruption were of more concern to voters than fear-mongering over migrants. “On education, on health care, money is really not going…[into] these sectors that are underperforming,” says Zsuzsanna Végh, Budapest-based associate researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Whereas a lot of money is going to building stadiums. People are fed up with that.”
Others are less sure about the public’s frustration. Mariann Őry, who runs foreign news at the conservative Hungarian daily Magyar Hírlap, points out that Fidesz lost in Hódmezővásárhely only because every other party backed Márki-Zay in an unprecedented show of political unity. Nationally, Fidesz is still polling at over 40 percent, with its closest rival, the extreme-right Jobbik, at 19 percent. “There is no consensus among opposition politicians...when it comes to coordination,” says Őry. “It seems to be a theoretical idea only.”
Kovacs, Orbán’s spokesman, also says the party’s loss in Hódmezővásárhely was an anomaly, and that the anti-migrant and anti-Soros rhetoric continues to serve the purpose it always had for Fidesz. “This is how you can get your message understood.”
PER_Orban_04_462657282German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán arrive to attend a joint press conference in Budapest, Hungary, on February 2, 2015. ARPAD KURUCZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY 
That message, according to Kovács, still resonates in Hungary—and across Europe. While many on the continent balk when Orbán refers to migrants as a poison, Kovács says, “We maintain that it is only through...outspoken language—and sometimes a little bit of overdose of that—you can point out the reality on the ground.”
Today, Orbán is a figurehead for the far right across Europe—and even among some in the U.S. On March 9, before a speech at a rally in France, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told The New York Times that Orbán was a “hero” and “the most significant guy on the scene right now.” The prime minister was the only European leader to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, and the American president has since referred to Hungarian leader as “strong and brave.”
Within Europe, some of Orbán’s early allies have faded. France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders both lost elections in 2017. But his ideology remains potent. In March 2018, Italy’s far-right Five Star Movement became the biggest political party in the country. And the leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, is now vice chancellor.
Őry, the Hungarian journalist, says that while it is not exactly fashionable to praise Orbán in liberal, European circles, that does not mean his support isn’t there. “I know it's a non-PC opinion in the West to like Orbán,” she says, “but if you look at the articles about him and jump to the comment section, the readers usually like him a lot more than the journalists.”
Since 2014, when the prime minister infamously outlined his vision of “illiberal democracy” during a speech to ethnic Hungarians in Romania, strongmen—and, with the exception of Le Pen, it does tend to be men—have idealized Orbán. In 2011, Poland’s far-right doyen Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Orbán “gave us an example of how we can win”—and four years later, his Law and Justice Party took power. Other allies include Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and China’s Xi Jinping, who recently abolished China’s two-term limit, effectively meaning he can govern for life.
For a global retinue of leaders and keyboard cheerleaders, Orbán has served as a paragon of what can be done with the right cocktail of rhetoric, circumstance and an unfettered will to power. But for Lendvai, a Jewish Hungarian who lived through both fascism and communism, Orbán’s apparent impenetrability raises the specter of that most typical of the afflictions of power: hubris.
“Power can blind you,” says Lendvai. “The odds are still in favor of a Fidesz victory, but it is unlikely to be a triumph, and everything that weakens Orbán and his regime is a victory for democratic forces.”

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Twitter stock dives after Israel threatens legal action over tweets seen as pro-terrorism

Twitter stock dives after Israel threatens legal action over tweets seen as pro-terrorism
Israel’s justice minister accused Twitter of failing to contribute to Israel’s fight against online incitement, (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
The Israeli government is considering taking legal action against Twitter Inc. for ignoring repeated requests to remove online content that was inciting or supportive of terrorism, Israel's justice minister warned Tuesday. Twitter shares tumbled 10%, their biggest drop in eight months.
At a Jerusalem conference, Ayelet Shaked accused San Francisco-based Twitter of failing to contribute to Israel's fight against online incitement, according to an emailed statement Tuesday from her office.
"Terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah have moved to Twitter instead of Facebook," Shaked said. "Through Twitter, the terrorist organizations promote terror and incite to violence, including public activity that they carry out without fear."
The ministry didn't have immediate comment when asked for more details about Shaked's remarks.
The Israeli government has ramped up efforts to mitigate the effect of new technologies on its longstanding conflict with the Palestinians. Social media was used to stoke a wave of stabbing attacks in Israel in late 2014, politicians said. Since then, the government has tried to pass a law that would give Israel the tools to have content "liable to lead to murder and terror" removed immediately, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in December 2016.
The Israeli government submitted 12,351 requests to take down posts in 2017, nearly six times more than the previous year.
Although it wasn't clear what steps Israel was contemplating against Twitter, "such action, if taken, would clearly be unusual," said Eran Peleg, Clarity Capital KCPS Ltd.'s chief investment officer. The chances are low that Israel will follow through, he said, but added: "The current government is nationalistic and, perhaps similar to the Trump administration in the U.S., is increasingly taking actions that would be seen as unconventional or extreme by historic standards."
At one point Tuesday, Twitter shares were were down nearly 11%, the most in eight months, part of a broad selloff of social media stocks. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing whether Facebook Inc. violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of user data. That follows the revelation that a firm mined information on 50 million Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump's campaign for president. Facebook shares fell as much as 6.2% on Tuesday after dropping 6.8% on Monday.
"This would be an overreaction in a different time, but with the hypersensitivity in the market right now, any news is bad news," said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. "It's relevant in underscoring the risk that governments are willing to act."

Israel cancer research fund finds its man

Oren PelegJNS
In January, the New York-based Israel Cancer Research Fund appointed a new national executive director: Dr. Mark Israel. A renowned pediatric oncologist and leading national figure in cancer research, he previously served as the director of Dartmouth College 's National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center — the Norris Cotton Cancer Center — from 2001 until 2016.
For the last 12 years, Israel (yes, his name goes hand in hand with his position) has worked with ICRF — the largest nonprofit organization dedicated solely to funding cancer research in Israel — on a volunteer basis, evaluating research proposals for Israeli cancer scientists.

JNS recently caught up with him to find out how he's adjusting in the new role, what separates Israel's researchers from the pack, and where he escapes for peace and quiet when he's not working to rid the world of cancer.
Q: What are some of the most exciting developments in the world of contemporary cancer research?

A: I think the major thrusts in which we're looking for leapfrog advances are in the areas of targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Targeted therapy really has to do with developing drugs that specifically inhibit molecules altered in the process of the cell becoming malignant. Immunotherapy really has to do with understanding the ways in which tumor cells have been able to hide themselves from the normal immune system that recognizes things as foreign — things like bacteria viruses but also tumor cells. Recent advances have allowed for drugs to be developed that are helping us understand how tumor cells manage to evade the immune system's ability to recognize and destroy foreign entities.
Q: Why take on this new challenge heading up the ICRF at this point in your career?
A: I think we are living in a time when a good deal of cancer can be effectively addressed as we continue to develop technology that allows us to approach things on a molecular basis. Israeli cancer-research activity is innovative, intensive and focused, but also very much resource-deprived. I think there's an opportunity for ICRF to enhance it and provide the tools by which Israeli cancer science can really take off, which I believe will have a huge impact worldwide. That's why this opportunity attracted me.
Q: How's it going so far?

A: I'm still getting oriented. I'm excited by the quality of the people who are engaged with [the organization] and excited by the enthusiasm people in the greater, outside community have for supporting [it]. I feel very good about it all.
Q: You've worked extensively with cancer researchers in the United States, but you also spent 12 years on ICRF's volunteer scientific review panel evaluating research grant proposals. What are some of the singular opportunities you see in the scientific community in Israel?
A: The really exciting strength of cancer science in Israel is the work being done to understand fundamental drivers of cancer. That focus on understanding cellular alterations will create many opportunities for developments in targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Further developments on small molecule drugs and a variety of other therapeutic strategies depend almost completely on making sense of how cancer cells differ from normal cells.
Q: In your opinion, what sets Israeli researchers apart?
A: I think what sets Israeli researchers apart is their ability to deliver results. Think of channeling the spirit of innovation and drive that helped establish the State of Israel. Why not make cancer a conquerable foe?
Q: ICRF has partnered with organizations like City of Hope to encourage collaboration between Israeli cancer researchers and their international counterparts. Is that something you'd like to continue to push? Why is that important?
A: I want to see a change in emphasis of ICRF's historical form of financial support, providing grants to Israeli researchers. They are resource-inhibited. We want to directly address that. But we want to do a dozen other things that will enhance Israeli cancer science. That will take the form of enhanced collaboration, more symposia, more communication with international counterparts, and we're hoping to move towards equipment grants to get Israeli researchers the latest equipment. Nowadays, instrumentation is changing on a yearly, even monthly basis. We think there are many ways we can advance Israeli science and increase the value of their efforts for everyone in the world.
Q: When you're not trying to rid the world of cancer, what do you do for fun?
A: I like to spend time with my four grandchildren. I like to play golf. I like to sail. I like to spend time on the ocean. I also travel a lot for work internationally, which is fun.
Q: Got a favorite travel destination?
A: I like hiding away in Kennebunkport, Maine, where we have a house. I find it very relaxing.

Tech Billionaire Elon Musk Salutes Israel as ‘Technological Power,’ Netanyahu Tells Audience in Negev

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla. Photo: Reuters / Aaron P. Bernstein.
Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk believes that Israel is a “technological power” with a bright future, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Tuesday.
“This morning, before coming here, I met with Elon Musk, a man of vision, perhaps the greatest technological visionary of our time — he is a genius,” Netanyahu told the audience at the 8th Negev Conference in Dimona.
Netanyahu explained that Musk had told him, “Israel is a technological power.”
“He said that he appreciates what we are doing here,” Netanyahu said.
Musk had pointed to the Negev region as the source of Israel’s future energy wealth during their conversation, a delighted Netanyahu continued. “He said, and he did not know I was coming here, ‘The Negev could provide you with all your energy needs. The Negev is the energy future of the State of Israel. You could spread solar systems here that would give you more energy than you need or could need. Clean energy,'” Netanyahu recalled.
The prime minister went on:  “I tell you what he told me: ‘If you only want it.’ And I tell you that I want it.”
“I want a vibrant, flourishing and developing Negev,” Netanyahu declared. “And we will continue to do this, to develop it as has never been done in the history of Israel.”
In the same speech, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s abiding national security concerns.
“Israel is surrounded by outposts of radical Islam; therefore, we need to safeguard our borders,” he said. “We have completed a major endeavor: Building a fence along more than 200 kilometers of border with Sinai.”
Netanyahu said the fence had staved off the nightmare scenario for Israel of “a flood of illegal migrants from Africa.”
“We are talking about a Jewish and democratic state, but how could we assure a Jewish and democratic state with 50,000 and then 100,000 and 150,000 migrants a year?” he remarked.
“After a million, 1.5 million, one could close up shop,” Netanyahu observed. “But we have not closed down. We built a fence and at the same time, with concern for security needs, we are making a major investment in infrastructures.”


"We have to choose values - our interests are where our values are."
Just as those who claim to love Jews but hate Israel cannot be considered friends of the Jewish people, so too those who say they love Israel but are opponents of the local Jewish community are equally enemies, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said on Tuesday.

Sharansky made his comments at a panel at the Foreign Ministry-sponsored sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism dealing with the rise of far-right parties in Europe, and the dilemmas this poses for the Israeli government. The government is currently struggling with whether it should alter its policy and begin engaging with the far-right Freedom Party of Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache.

When it comes to having to choose between realpolitik interests and values, Sharansky said, “we have to choose values – our interests are where our values are.”
Sharansky said that there is a continuous fight every day on campuses in the US against those who say that because they love human rights and liberal values, they hate Israel. In the same vein, he said, Israel has to fight those nationalists in Europe who cross redlines in their opposition to human rights, yet say they are supportive of Israel.

“This seems simple, but in realpolitik it becomes more complicated,” Sharansky said.

Just as there are Jews on the Left who feel the need to work with people or organizations that are tainted by antisemitism, such as Black Lives Matter and US activist Linda Sarsour, there are those who would want to make common cause with far-right, racist parties in Europe because they now profess support for Israel. Both those trends should be rejected, he asserted.

“There are forces that at the moment look very important to us, but they are hostile to the [local] Jewish communities and cannot be our friends,” Sharansky said. He stressed the importance of the Israeli government working in concert with the Diaspora Jewish communities regarding how to engage with these parties.

“It is important that Israel and the local Jewish community speak in one voice, that is our obligation as a Jewish state,” Sharansky said.

One of the loudest voices against Israel engaging with Austria’s Freedom Party, which is now a member of the Austrian government, is Ariel Muzicant, who used to be the head of the Viennese Jewish Community and is now vice president of the European Jewish Congress.

Muzicant said that the 1.5 million Jews living in Europe, many whose parents survived the Holocaust, “can’t be quiet when people start to talk about the supremacy of the Aryans and the white race.” He said many of the Jews in Europe justify living there by fighting against this type of racism.

“If we lose this battle, we have no raison d’etre to live in Europe,” he said.

In a reference to right-wing politicians like the Likud’s MK Yehudah Glick who meet openly with leaders of the Freedom Party such as Strache, which the organized Jewish community views as beyond the pale, Muzicant said these politicians “are pulling the carpet out from under our feet.” They don’t understand, he said, that the local Jewish communities have “risked a lot by condemning certain positions of these extreme-right-wing parties.

“If Israel starts to be friends with these people, while we say there is a redline, our position of keeping up Jewish values is gone,” he said.

Shlomo Avineri, a Hebrew University professor emeritus of political science, said that the support for Israel among many of these far-right parties is not because of a genuine support for Israel, but rather because they view Israel as fighting Islam, which is now their primary enemy.

Citing the important political support Israel took from the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin in 1947 and 1948, Avineri said that “we have to take support where we can get it.” But, he added, “no one said that he [Stalin] was the greatest friend of the Jewish people, because we knew otherwise. We have to make those distinctions.”



A new exhibition sheds light on the life of Shlomo Cohen-Abravanel, who was renowned in Cairo as the painter Charduval. But just how much of it is true?