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After backlash over silence, UN Women tweets, then deletes, statement condemning Hamas attack in Israel

(JTA) — Nearly 50 days after Hamas’ attack on Israel left 1,200 dead, and after weeks of criticism over its silence about allegations of sexual violence during the attack, the  women’s rights group UN Women issued a statement condemning the terror group on Friday.

Then it deleted the post.

“We condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7 and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” read the initial statement, posted on UN Women’s instagram page. It was soon replaced with a statement that dropped the condemnation of Hamas and only called for the release of the hostages.

Word spread quickly among Jewish women activists and Israelis, reigniting their contention that UN Women — an official arm of the United Nations focused on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment — holds a double standard when it comes to gender-based violence against Israeli women. Some of the critics — including Sheryl Sandberg, a former top Meta executive — have lobbied openly on the topic. Many have used the hashtag “#MeToo_UNless_UR_A_Jew.”

Reached for comment, UN Women told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Instagram post had been scheduled in advance and was deleted because the message in it no longer reflected where the organization wanted to put its main focus.

“In any social media team managing multiple campaigns and during a very busy time like the one we are now with 16 Days of Activism, mistakes can occur,” a representative for UN Women said in a statement sent to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

In particular, said the spokeswoman, Inés Esteban González, the release of some hostages over the weekend as part of a temporary truce changed the organization’s priorities.

“UN Women social media team had pre-planned days in advance [of] this particular post, but then the news broke on the release of hostages and we really wanted to focus on that,” she said. “UN Women has condemned the attacks by Hamas and the deaths of Israeli civilians from the beginning as well as called for the release of hostages, and we will continue doing so until the conflict ends. We have also called for all allegations of gender-based violence to be rigorously investigated, prioritizing the rights, needs, and safety of those affected.”

In late October, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza but voted down a provision condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. On Monday, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, held a session on crimes against humanity committed against women during the Oct. 7 massacre.

After an initial statement on Oct. 13 condemning the attacks on civilians in Israel, all of UN Women’s public comments about the war and its impact on women had centered only on Palestinians. Last week, Sima Bahous, the group’s executive director, called for an extension of the current temporary truce into a permanent ceasefire and for the release of all hostages.

The National Council for Jewish Women, which had previously criticized UN Women’s silence on sexual violence against Israeli women, said the group’s second statement last week was inadequate.

“The delayed issuance of a statement that fails to explicitly address the severity of Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel — such as the brutal murder of over 1,200 people in Israel, torture, and rape of women, as well as the targeting of civilians and families — is equally reprehensible,” the statement said. “Immediate and unequivocal acknowledgment of these atrocities is imperative, given the blatant violation of international law.”


The post After backlash over silence, UN Women tweets, then deletes, statement condemning Hamas attack in Israel appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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US Announces New Sanctions Against Iran-Backed Entities Including Hamas

ILLUSTRATIVE Hamas leader and Oct. 7 pogrom mastermind Yahya Sinwar addressing a rally in Gaza. Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The United States on Monday announced new sanctions against a range of individuals and entities associated with Hamas, Iran and other Iran-backed terrorist groups around the region.

The sanctioned entities include an Iraqi airline and Hamas fundraising and financial networks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“Hamas has sought to leverage a variety of financial transfer mechanisms, including the exploitation of cryptocurrency, to channel funds to support the group’s terrorist activities,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, in a statement announcing the fifth round of sanctions imposed by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since the Hamas pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year.

“Treasury, in close coordination with our allies and partners, will continue to leverage our authorities to target Hamas, its financiers, and its international financial infrastructure,” Nelson added.

One of the sanctioned networks is known as the Shamlakh Network, run by the Gaza-based Shamlakh family.

According to OFAC, “members of the Shamlakh family have become the main end point for funds transferred from [Iran’s] Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza.” It explained that “Gaza-based financial facilitator Zuhair Shamlakh is a Gaza-based moneychanger who facilitates funds transfers in the tens of millions of dollars from Iran to Hamas. Zuhair has used his companies Al-Markaziya Li-Siarafa (Al-Markaziya) and Arab China Trading Company to channel funds for the Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades (al-Qassam Brigades), the military wing of Hamas.”

The second network is known as the Herzallah Network, which has been engaged in the illicit transfer of Hamas funds from Gaza to the West Bank through the Gaza-based Herzallah Exchange and General Trading Company LLC. The network was being targeted “for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to Hamas,” OFAC noted.

Separately, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller announced sanctions against the Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO for supporting the IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

“The IRGC-QF and Iran-aligned militia groups pose a significant threat to the Middle East region,” Miller said. “Kata’ib Hezbollah has been responsible for a series of drone and missile attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria since Hamas’s horrific attack on Israel on October 7.”

 

The post US Announces New Sanctions Against Iran-Backed Entities Including Hamas first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Norman Jewison, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ director and lifelong friend of the Jews, dies at 97

(JTA) – In a 2022 documentary on the making of the 1971 film “Fiddler on the Roof,” Norman Jewison relayed a by-now familiar anecdote: When producers of the Broadway musical approached him for the directing job, he had to sheepishly inform them that he wasn’t actually Jewish.

He got the job anyway, leading generations of Jewish families watching “Fiddler” to associate that big title card displaying the “Jewison” name with a fellow member of the tribe.

Bringing Anatevka to vivid, pulsating life was one of many career highlights for the Canadian filmmaker, who died Saturday at age 97. Jewison, a Toronto native, helmed several other iconic films in his long, distinguished career, including “Moonstruck,” “In The Heat of the Night,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “The Hurricane” — many of them shining light on pressing social matters like racism and other forms of bigotry. He was nominated for seven Oscars, two of them for “Fiddler” (best picture and best director). He directed a lot of musicals, including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and returned to Jewish concerns for his swan song, the 2003 thriller “The Statement,” which takes place during the Holocaust.

But his work on “Fiddler” sealed Jewison’s reputation among Jewish viewers. He earned the job on the basis of his work on the Cold War satire “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” starring Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin, with producers reasoning that the director had what it took to convincingly depict Russian life to Westerners. 

Holding the reins to Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein’s Broadway smash adaptation of Sholem Aleichem’s classic folktales, Jewison went all-in on verisimilitude. He filmed “Fiddler” in the former Yugoslavia and got Israeli actor Chaim Topol, who starred as Tevye in the West End production, to reprise his role on screen (not without some controversy over bypassing better-known Broadway star Zero Mostel).

At three hours in length, with elaborate musical set pieces and additional scoring by John Williams, “Fiddler” was a classic Hollywood roadshow production that also was be a bittersweet depiction of a Jewish world wiped out by pogroms and the Holocaust — a formula not necessarily guaranteed to hook a general audience. But the gambit paid off, and “Fiddler” became the highest-grossing film of the year and a perennial staple in the homes of Ashkenazi Jews and others.

Jewison joins other beloved figures from “Fiddler” who have recently taken their final bows. Topol died last year, as did the lyricist Harnick

Over the years Jewison would deny rumors that he had considered converting to Judaism. But he took his connection to the Jewish story seriously. In that same 2022 documentary, he also shared that he had a Jewish wedding in 2010, to his second wife Lynne St. David Jewison. The wedding included a rabbi and a chuppah.


The post Norman Jewison, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ director and lifelong friend of the Jews, dies at 97 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Only One University Adopts Leading Antisemitism Definition 2023, New Report Says

Anti-Israel students protest at Columbia University in New York City. Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon

Only one American higher education institution adopted the world’s leading definition of antisemitism in 2023, according to a new report by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), a US antisemitism watchdog.

“Only Boston University’s student government has adopted the IHRA working definition in 2023,” CAM said on Monday in a statement. “These figures help put into context the atmosphere on college campuses that led to high-profile incidents of antisemitism on the campuses of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the George Washington University, Cooper Union College, and Cornell University, just to name a few.”

First adopted in 2005 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes a list of illustrative examples ranging from Holocaust denial to the rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The definition is used by hundreds of governing institutions, including the US State Department, European Union, and the United Nations and is supported by lawmakers across the political spectrum.

As previously reported by The Algemeiner, antisemitism on college campuses surged to record levels after Hamas massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students. Elite universities have been among the biggest hubs of such activity, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities. Incidents of harassment and even violence against Jewish students also increased. As a result, Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe and unprotected on campuses. In some cases, Jewish communities on campuses have been forced to endure threats of rape and mass slaughter.

At Harvard University, anti-Zionism escalated to antisemitic harassment when a mob of anti-Israel activists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review whose alumni includes former US President Barack Obama — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student on campus, according to videos that went viral across social media. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

At Cornell University, an individual posted on a social media forum that is popular with students messages calling for the murder and rape of Jews. In addition to threatening the lives of Cornell’s 3,500 Jewish students, who are around 22 percent of the school’s student population, the posts called for an attack on a campus kosher dining hall, which forced campus officials to shutter the property.

“American colleges need to be proactive in helping Jewish students feel safe and accepted on campus, when nearly three quarters of Jewish college students have experience antisemitism since the beginning of the school year. We must take action,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman said. “The best path forward includes robust educational programs that raise awareness about antisemitism, including the incorporation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, so schools as well as local, state, and federal governments can properly identify, monitor, and act on antisemitic incidents.”

US higher education institutions are not the only ones declining to adopt the IHRA definition. Last August, UK based nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) reported that it has yet to be embraced by 43 of Britain’s leading universities, including University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which has for years been the site of numerous antisemitic incidents. In 2016, for example, its Palestine Society hosted a lecture in which the featured speaker compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Only One University Adopts Leading Antisemitism Definition 2023, New Report Says first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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