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Why France Banned Anti-Israel Demonstrations

Different countries use different approaches to curb hate speech

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Burning detritus are seen along the tramway line in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20, 2014, after clashes following a demonstration denouncing Israel's military campaign in Gaza and showing support to the Palestinian people. (PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images)

Fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas sparked a wave of anti-Israel demonstrations across the world last week that continued over the weekend. Large rallies were held in Paris, London, New York, and dozens of other cities around the world. Many of the protests served as platforms for virulent anti-Semitism and resulted in violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police.

A major demonstration in London attracted 15,000 pro-Palestinian participants. Speakers called for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea,” which many critics interpret as code for the elimination of Israel. Demonstrators waved flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both political parties and also internationally recognized terrorist entities that call for the destruction of the State of Israel and a holy war against Jews. After the rally, groups of Muslim youth committed acts of vandalism and attacked Jews in a series of incidents that London police are treating as hate crimes.

The violence in France was most extreme with protestors lobbing firebombs at synagogues and laying siege to Jews gathered inside. (more…)

SodaStream Sacks 60 West Bank Workers

After employees said they didn’t get enough food after Ramadan fast ended

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View of the Israeli SodaStream factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, next to the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

As fighting rages in Gaza, a controversy of a different sort is brewing in the West Bank. SodaStream, the at-home carbonation system manufacturer that has been both condemned for operating a factory in the West Bank and lauded for its treatment of Palestinian employees, has reportedly fired 60 of them over a dispute concerning the food that workers received to break their Ramadan fast.

Haaretz reports that after night-shift workers informed management that they weren’t being provided with enough food to eat after their 16-hour fast ended—the factory observes Jewish dietary laws and workers are prohibited from bringing their own food—they were, according to their union’s representative, summarily fired. (more…)

Two American IDF Soldiers Killed in Gaza

Max Steinberg, 24, and Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, died during combat Sunday

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Israeli soldiers from the Golani Infantry Brigade prepare their equipment and weapons at an army deployment near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 19, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of the 18 IDF soldiers killed during the weekend’s heavy fighting in Gaza were Americans who had recently immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the army.

Max Steinberg, 24, was one of 13 Israeli soldiers and 65 Palestinians killed in Sunday’s major ground battle in Shejaiya. Steinberg, a sharpshooter for the Golani Brigade, was originally from Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. His father told the Associated Press that after visiting Israel on a Birthright trip in the summer of 2012, Steinberg announced that he planned to join the IDF. He moved to Beersheba six months later.

“He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel. He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing,” Steinberg’s father said. (more…)

U.N. Refugee Agency Gives Rockets to Hamas

Weapons found in a Gaza school last week were turned over to authorities: Hamas

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A Palestinian child takes refuge at a U.N. school in Gaza City on July 19, 2014. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Why is Israel so distrustful of international institutions, even those that claim to have the good of children and refugees at heart? While the “global community” may be a fiction, it is nothing if not a well-meaning one. Greeting global concerns about the loss of innocent life, or the legitimate hardships of military occupation, with anger and contempt makes Israel seem churlish—and confirms depressingly widespread caricatures of a bloodthirsty entity driven by Old Testament passions to upset the peace of the entire planet.

So, when UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, announced that it had found a cache of 20 missiles beneath a U.N.-sponsored school in Gaza last week, it was hard to credit the usual pro-Israeli line that depicts the U.N. agency as working hand-in-glove with Hamas. Yes, some U.N schools and other facilities have been used to teach hatred for the Jewish state, and for Hamas summer camps and the like. And yes, U.N. officials like Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk had a long history of making statements that left little doubt about where his sympathies lay. But Falk’s term as Special Rapporteur ended earlier this year, so it made sense that UNRWA might be turning over a new leaf. (more…)

A Bloody Weekend in Gaza

18 IDF soldiers and hundreds of Palestinians killed during ground operation

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Honour Guard during the funeral of Major Tsafrir Bar-Or on July 21, 2014 in Holon, Israel.(Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

The death toll on both sides of the Gaza fighting continued to mount over the weekend, with 18 Israeli soldiers and hundreds of Palestinians killed since IDF ground forces entered the Gaza Strip late Thursday night, ushering in a new and far bloodier phase of the fighting. As of Monday the fighting had officially taken the lives of 20 Israelis—including two civilians killed by rockets—and more than 500 Palestinians, according to Palestinian sources.

In the early hours of Friday morning Sergeant Eitan Barak, a 20-year-old infantryman from Herzliya, was killed in clashes with Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip, becoming the first Israeli soldier to die in the 14-day operation. On Friday and Saturday four more soldiers were killed in the Strip. On Sunday evening, the Israeli public was floored by news that 13 soldiers, all from the Golani Brigade, had been killed in heavy combat against Hamas gunmen in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya that morning. (more…)

Saying Goodbye to Elaine Stritch

The late actress and singer left her bold and brassy mark on show business

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Elaine Stritch performs during a White House music series concert at the White House July 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Elaine Stritch would probably have been pleased to know that news of her death on Thursday at 89 pushed world events like the conflict in Gaza or the downed Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 off the front pages, at least for a couple of hours. Stritch made her name not only with her great, idiosyncratic style, but as a monster; her unbridled rage as much a part of her persona as her rakish hats and perpetual pantlessness (after all, the legs are the last to go).

Watch her implode while recording her signature number, “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the documentary of the making of the original cast recording of Company. Recall her many cantankerous and profanity-laden talk show appearances. Consider the unbridled, take-no-prisoners anecdotes sprinkled throughout her award-winning one-woman show, At Liberty, which of course she always was.

She may have been an angry woman (a close friend, in a profile for the New York Times, described one of her explosions as “Medea-like”), but she was an interestingly angry one. Stritch’s aggression never stemmed from diva-tude or entitlement. She was angry not because she wanted things to be right, but because she needed them to be. Her rage didn’t mask insecurity; it was her insecurity, or rather, her vulnerability. It was the way she showed her deepest self. (more…)

Israel Pulls Embassy Staff out of Turkey

After violent protests against Israeli military action in Gaza target embassies

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Turkish protestors kick police barriers during a demonstration to denounce the Israeli military operations in Gaza on July 18, 2014 in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

After violent protests against Israel’s military operation in Gaza erupted outside the Israeli embassy in Istanbul and the Israeli ambassador’s home in Ankara on Thursday, Israel announced that it would be removing most of its diplomatic staff from the country, the Times of Israel reports.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, accused Israel of state terrorism and genocide. “Israel threatens world peace. Israel threatens peace in the Middle East. Therefore, I personally, can never contemplate anything positive with Israel as long as I remain on duty,” he told reporters. (more…)

What a Trip

An excerpt from Planetary Science, by Emily Adelsohn Corngold

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(Derek Shapton/Gallery Stock)

Each Friday, Tablet publishes a work of original fiction. The following is an excerpt from Planetary Science, by Emily Adelsohn Corngold, which was published today on Tablet.

“I wonder what Rob’s going to make of that meteor,” Mitch’s wife said to him at home, as he sat at his computer anxiously pecking out an email to his group’s secretary regarding the validity of the multiple-entry Russian visa he and Conrad had obtained some 14 months earlier, when they had attended a scientific meeting at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow. “Remember that time—when was that? When Rob asked your mom to check out that crate of rocks he brought back from Israel?” (more…)

In Defense of Chelsea Handler’s Hitler Parody

There may have been more going on here than an attempt at a cheap laugh

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Chelsea Handler on December 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Mike Windle/Getty Images for amfAR)

It’s pretty hard to get through the World Cup without referencing World War II (honestly, it’s pretty hard to get through anything without referencing World War II), but in a year when Germany takes the championship, it’s next to impossible. The latest comedian/sudden sports fan to jump on the Germany = Nazis bandwagon is comedian Chelsea Handler, who featured a segment on her late night show, Chelsea Lately, in which her diminutive sidekick, Chuy, appeared in a Hitler costume, ostensibly in honor of the German victory. One of her panelists quipped: “I’m a Jew, and I’m glad the Germans won. It’s nice for them to have something gold they didn’t pry out of my grandfather’s mouth.”

The ADL cried foul (perhaps the only thing more predictable than Nazi jokes at an international soccer tournament) because of the trivialization of genocide, the appearance of a Hitler moustache on television, yada yada yada. Fair enough. That’s their job, to be offended, just like Handler’s job, in a nutshell, is to give offense, and hey, we all got rent to pay. But to disavow Handler’s act in its totality (whether you think it’s funny or not) is to ignore some of the deeper identity issues at play. (more…)

Pope Francis Marks Anniversary of JCC Bombing

Deadly 1994 attack on Buenos Aires Jewish center killed 85 and injured 300

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Relatives hold portrait of victims of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, in which 85 people were killed and 300 were injured, during the commemoration of its 20th anniversary in Buenos Aires on July 18, 2014.(DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Today is the 20th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and 300 more were injured. It was the deadliest attack on Latin American soil, though no arrests have been made in the intervening two decades.

The investigation, meanwhile, has been marred by decades of incompetence and corruption—last year Argentina appointed Iran to help investigate the crime, which is largely believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah. At the time, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon likened the development to “inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.”

Pope Francis, who was formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, has released a video commemorating the somber anniversary. (more…)

Bulgaria Bus Bomber Identified Two Years Later

Suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and their bus driver in 2012 attack

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Members of the Israeli rescue and recovery squad collect evidence during investigations at the Airport in Burgas on July 19, 2012, site of a suicide blast targeting Israelis the day earlier. (STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Bulgaria has identified the suicide bomber who blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists on July 18, 2012, killing five Israelis and the bus driver and wounding 35 others, the AP reports. Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, 23, was a dual Lebanese-French citizen who was born in Lebanon. The announcement, which comes exactly two years after the attack, followed a slow and at times meandering investigation. (more…)

In Jerusalem, The Show Must Go On

New Israeli films and the occasional siren at the Jerusalem Film Festival

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The entrance to Jerusalem's old city, near the Tower of David and Jaffa Gate(Shutterstock)

This year’s Jerusalem Film Festival, which ends Sunday, will surely go down as one of the annual event’s most memorable editions—and mainly for the right reasons. The festival opened last week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, which from its breathtaking perch above the Valley of Hinnom, across from the Old City walls, regularly serves as this complicated city’s greatest cultural refuge. Festival and Cinematheque alike have weathered worse storms than Operation Protective Edge—two Intifadas, for example—and the festival, which prides itself on hosting an impressive contingent of international guests, has faced this latest uphill battle with aplomb.

That said, there were still some hiccups. Korean director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) was on hand to give a master class, but Spike Jonze, the festival’s other major headliner, despite having already arrived in Israel, decided to opt out of the festival at the last moment, writing:

It felt like the wrong time for me to be talking about movies with everything going on. I hope you understand. I will come back again and screen movies and talk film with you when the time is right.

(more…)

Looking Beyond the Numbers in Gaza

Is Israel targeting civilians in Gaza? It’s more complicated than it may appear

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Smoke billows from a building hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on July 17, 2014(THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

The charge of intentionality—that Israel is intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians—has resurfaced in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, along with the familiar charge of disproportionality—that omnipresent word that is easier typed than understood.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has provided the most fodder for these charges when it recently declared that 77 percent of the Palestinian casualties since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge have been civilians. From this statistic alone, it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that Israel deliberately targets civilians.

Or is it? As an ignored footnote at the bottom of the OCHA report stated, “Data on fatalities and destruction of property is . . . based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications.” (more…)

Israel Orders Ground Operation in Gaza

IDF forces to deal ‘significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure’

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Israeli Merkava tanks, a D9 bulldozer and armoured personnel carriers (APC) roll near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, escalating Operation Protective Edge, which has far the past 10 days been an air campaign, into a full scale military operation.

According to the AP, the IDF said in a statement their objective is to deal a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.” (more…)

Watch Hillary Clinton vs. Jon Stewart on Gaza

The former Secretary of State places blame for conflict squarely on Hamas

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(The Daily Show)

This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to tackling the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The segment was seen as so one-sided in its excoriation of the Jewish state that it went viral among the country’s opponents, and provoked a full rebuttal from David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel. Online columns, however, are no match for viral video—while Horovitz’s column racked up an impressive 10,000 Facebook shares, the clip of Stewart’s segment has been viewed over 700,000 times. But the next night, a guest on Stewart’s own show challenged his assumptions about who is to blame for the current violence: Hillary Clinton.

The widely presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner joined the show for a far-ranging interview about her life and political aspirations. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the war in Gaza. “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming,” Stewart asked, “and that the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?” Clinton agreed with the premise–and then turned it on Hamas. (more…)

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