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El Al Not Returning Flights to Ireland, Morocco Due to War

Illustrative: The Israeli flag carrier El Al’s airliner lands at Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. WAM/Handout via REUTERS

Israel’s national airline El Al has decided not to restart nonstop routes from Tel Aviv to Dublin and Marrakesh. The move comes as relations between Israel and Ireland and Morocco have soured since the war.

“Since the outbreak of the war, El Al has made sure to strengthen the network of routes to the desired destinations in order to continue to preserve air bridge,” said VP of commercial and aviation relations Shlomi Zafarani. “In view of the situation, we frequently monitor the changes in customer preferences and the intensity of demand, and as part of adjusting our mix of destinations, we have decided not to renew the routes to Ireland and Morocco for the upcoming summer season. The improvement of the flight schedule allows us to add during the summer season about 500 flights on popular routes others in Europe, and to connect Israel to a wide variety of destinations around the world, while exploring new possibilities,” he continued.

The Dublin route was relatively new, having only launched in March 2023 and slated for summer flights only. Among many flight routes operating at the onset of the war, the Dublin flight was postponed until the situation became more clear. Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has been vocal about calling for a ceasefire to the current war, saying “I think the European Union has lost credibility because of our inability to take a stronger and more united position on Israel and Palestine… to a new peace process and Palestinian statehood, which is the only way to secure justice and security for everyone living in the region.” Their President Michael D. Higgins has called the European Union’s approach to the war “thoughtless and reckless.”

There is widespread popular support within Ireland for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), that calls for boycott goods and services originating from Israel. The movement is widely seen as a delegitimizing tactic against the Jewish state and according to the ADL, it “believes that many of the founding goals of the BDS movement, which effectively reject or ignore the Jewish people’s right of self-determination, or that, if implemented, would result in the eradication of the world’s only Jewish state, are antisemitic

The Morocco route was more historic, as it was opening between the Jewish state and an Arab country. The first flights, launched in July of 2021, caused much fanfare as a tangible result of the 2020 Abraham Accords, a landmark peace deal brokered by the United States between Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. It also allowed the estimated 900,000 Israeli Jews with Moroccan descent to visit a country that was otherwise a relic of the past to those who immigrated to Israel after the state’s establishment in 1948.

Since the war began, hundreds of thousands Moroccans have protested in support of the Palestinians, and have called on their government to cut ties with Israel. The government has taken an anti-Israel stance, though not as forceful as other Arab states. The government has called Israel’s war: “Israel’s persistence in its blatant aggression against unarmed civilians.” It further has not condemned Hamas’s attack, with claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Israelis and resulted in over 240 taken hostage.

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Anti-Zionists at Brown University Threaten to Starve Themselves Unless School Considers Anti-Israel Resolution

More than 200 Brown University students gathered outside University Hall where roughly 40 students sat inside demanding the school divest from weapons manufacturers amid the Israel-Hamas war. Photo: Amy Russo / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Brown University President Christina H. Paxson has rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who are threatening to go on hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions, according to a report first published by The Brown Daily Herald.

Paxson, who has continuously refused to adopt proposals endorsing the BDS movement, notified the campus community of her decision just hours after members of the Brown Divest Coalition (BDC) amassed on Friday inside an administrative building and proclaimed that they will continue their demonstration until the school accedes to three demands: putting their BDS resolution on the agenda of the Brown Corporation’s annual meeting on Feb. 8, allowing them to lecture the Corporation about it, and announcing publicly that a vote on the measure will take place in their presence.

BDC’s resolution falsely accuses Israel of committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel is currently undertaking military operations to eradicate Hamas, an anti-Zionist terrorist organization which deliberately wages war in and attracts retaliatory responses to areas comprising large populations of noncombatants, from the territory.

“We consistently reject calls to use the endowment as a tool for political advocacy on contested issues,” Paxson said, in a letter to the students. “Our campus is a place where difficult issues should be freely discussed and debated. It is not appropriate for the university to use its financial assets — which are there to support our entire community  — to ‘take a side’ on issues on which thoughtful people vehemently disagree.”

Paxson added that the students’ method of protest is possibly contravenes school rules proscribing demonstrations that endanger “personal safety” and that they are making their “own choices.” Additionally, she has directed directed the school’s Campus Life office to monitor their well-being and a school doctor has already assessed their fitness to endure prolonged periods of self-deprivation.

“I will not commit to bring a resolution to the February 2024 Corporation meeting or any future meeting of the Corporation,” she concluded.

According to The Brown Daily Herald, Brown Divestment Coalition buttressed their case for BDS by citing a 2020 report University’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices — now renamed the Advisory Committee on University Resource Management — which recommended “divesting [Brown’s] endowment from companies that enable and profit from the genocide in Gaza and the broader Israeli occupation.”

Paxson rejected the report for breaching the body’s mission statement.

Last February, Paxson denounced antisemitism and “boycotts against any country,” an implicit reference to the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement, during a speech delivered at the 2023 Hillel International Israel Summit.

Explaining that she often experiences “pressure to choose sides,” with both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian advocates voicing concern when speakers from either camp speak on campus, she said she cannot choose between them and is obligated to promote free expression so long as it does not promote hate.

Addressing the exclusion of Jewish students from progressive clubs and movements, which notably happened in Feb. 2022, when SUNY New Paltz student Cassie Blotner was expelled from a sexual assault awareness group for supporting Israel, Paxson also affirmed the right of Jewish students participate in fighting discrimination and inequality and called for “defining the gray zone between criticism of Israeli policies that are not antisemitic, and anti-Israel expressions that reflect and normalize anti-Jewish behavior.”

Anti-Zionist protests at Brown have been a source of disruption since Hamas massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In Dec., campus police arrested dozens of protesters were arrested for staging an unauthorized protest in the University Hall administrative building. According to The Brown Daily Herald, the protesters, members of Brown Divest Coalition, were taken into custody while spectators chanted “shame on Brown, shame on Brown.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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NPR Whitewashes Palestinian Terrorists in Coverage of Israel-Hamas War

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’ armed wing The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza City on May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

If National Public Radio (NPR) were the sole source of news on the Israel-Hamas war, listeners would unlikely be able to accurately describe the Jewish state’s enemy in Gaza or the West Bank. Instead, they would be under the impression that Israeli troops are fighting against innocent Palestinian civilians, not barbaric terrorists.

NPR has managed to create such a skewed picture of reality by using three tactics: omission, distortion, and equivalence.

The omission was blatant, for example, in NPR’s recent coverage of an Israeli army raid that killed three terrorists in a West Bank hospital.

Despite the fact that all three had been claimed as members of terrorist organizations (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), NPR’s headline simply referred to them as “Palestinians:”

Hey, @NPR, you missed a vital word from your headline.

The three Palestinians were terrorists planning an attack while hiding in the hospital.

We’ve fixed it for you.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) January 30, 2024

The story was later updated, but the headline remained the same.

And the distortion is clear from the first paragraph, which still reads as if the terrorists’ affiliation was merely an Israeli accusation (emphasis added):

Israeli military and security forces disguised as civilians and hospital staff raided a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin early Tuesday morning, killing three Palestinians who they say were militants.

NPR also embedded a video from the outlet’s Instagram account showing CCTV footage of the raid. Sadly, it carries a caption that’s as bad as the headline:

The piece also omits what the IDF Chief of Staff had to say about not letting terrorists hide inside hospitals. His comments were quoted by the wire services, but NPR preferred giving a platform only to Palestinian hospital officials.

Another example of omitting terrorism from the narrative is NPR’s weekly collection of “Photos of life in war.”

True to its headline — “Palestinians flee south in Gaza, Israel mourns dead soldiers” — the gallery only displays pictures of Israeli soldiers and displaced Palestinians.

The soldiers’ photos show troops in combat or at funerals. The Palestinians’ photos display them in damaged houses, refugee tents, or body bags.

Where are the Hamas terrorists? Like a tragic version of “Where’s Waldo?”, they are nowhere to be found. And that’s exactly the lie that Hamas wants media to spread — that Israeli soldiers are waging a war against unarmed Gazan civilians.

At the very least, media outlets should add a disclaimer to such pieces, saying that Hamas terrorists wear civilian clothes and attack Israeli troops from within civilian neighborhoods — as is apparent from a glance at the videos posted on the terror group’s Telegram channel.

NPR has also used the tactic of equivalence to whitewash Israel’s foes, by creating symmetry and erasing differences between the two sides.

A recent piece titled “Israeli and Palestinian radio stations broadcast messages for locked up loved ones,” put Palestinians held on suspicion of terrorism on the same moral level as innocent Israeli civilians:

One of the biggest sources of anguish for Israeli and Palestinian families in nearly four months of the Gaza war is the large number of hostages and prisoners taken by each side.

According to @NPR, “One of the biggest sources of anguish for Israeli & Palestinian families… is the large number of hostages & prisoners taken by each side.”

No, NPR, there is no moral equivalence between Israelis kidnapped by Hamas & Palestinians detained by Israel on…

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) January 30, 2024

In the same piece, NPR also subtly compared the Jewish state to Hamas:

For Palestinian and Israeli families, the concern is not knowing about their loved ones in extreme and difficult conditions. Some Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees have died while being held. There are growing allegations of physical abuse against Palestinians in Israeli jails and even sexual abuse against Israelis in Hamas captivity.

When Israeli hostages in Gaza are equated to prisoners charged by a democratic country, it downplays the unparalleled atrocities that have been inflicted on them by Hamas since their abduction on October 7, when the group’s terrorists butchered 1,200 people in southern Israel.

And when the Jewish state is compared to a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction, the boundaries between good and evil are shattered. Why does NPR try so hard to do that? Why does it find such elaborate ways to erase the taint of Palestinian terrorism?

Is it so unimaginable that Israelis have a right to defend themselves against such evil?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Sustaining a Jewish Revival Rests on Visiting Israel

Debra Messing speaking at the “March for Israel” rally in Washington, DC on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo: Screenshot

In the months following the October 7 terrorist massacre in Israel, the polarizing void once felt across ideological Jewish lines has slowly dissolved, as Americans hailing from various religious and political streams unite in support of Israel.

Last year, as the Jewish State was consumed with a societal schism revolving around protests against the government’s proposed judicial reforms, the American media tried to showcase the divisions in US Jewish attitudes towards Israel. For instance, a 2021 poll of Jewish voters conducted by The Jewish Electoral Institute found that 38 percent of younger respondents under 40 agreed with the falsehood that Israel is an apartheid state. Sadly, the study confirmed the trend of an emergent generation of Jews harboring disturbing positions on Israel.

While the tragic events unfolding last fall may do little to sway this cadre of anti-Zionist Jews, the October 7 massacre did ignite an untapped appreciation felt for Israel by Jewish Americans, many of whom seemed to have little interest in it before. Those whose Jewish identity was reawakened on that horrific October day can harness that spirit and emphasize this moment by visiting Israel. Indeed, engaging with the land of Israel and its citizens will preserve a fresh reverence for peoplehood, while also helping strengthen the morale and economies of Israel and its citizens.

In November, approximately 300,000 people converged in Washington, D.C., in what was described as “both the largest ever pro-Israel gathering and the largest Jewish gathering in US history.” Apart from setting an attendance record, the March for Israel broke down religious barriers, with multiple encounters depicting observant Jews putting tefillin on young secular attendees, and with different groups coalescing around an inspiring moment and shared mission.

A Chabad survey  of rabbis in America taken in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks reveals a significant increase in Jewish pride across communities, with 88.2 percent of respondents reporting that community members are feeling “a stronger connection to Israel and her people.” As Israelis grapple with security threats and the war’s looming impact on the country’s economy, Jewish Americans must seize on this devotional revival, whose sustenance relies on prioritizing travel to Israel.

According to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), foreign tourism in Israel peaked in 2019, with direct tourism employment accounting for roughly 149,000 jobs, representing almost four percent of total employment in Israel. Prior to the outbreak of the Hamas war, Israel welcomed nearly three million tourists in 2023, with tourism revenue pouring a hefty $4.85 billion into the country’s economy. Interestingly, while tourism from the US was on track to surpass 2019 numbers, only a quarter of foreigners visiting Israel were Jewish, mirroring numbers recorded in previous years. Last year, Christian travelers comprised around half of all tourists and represented the largest denomination visiting the Jewish country.

While Israel’s reliance on its tech sector has shielded its financial industry from the catastrophic consequences that plague other economies during wartime, obligations surrounding reserve duty have contributed to a labor shortage, with some businesses forced to shut down temporarily when faced with an absence of workers. Israel’s Finance Ministry has stated that its budget deficit will likely reach six percent of its GDP, and that the war effort will cost at least another 50 billion NIS ($13.5 billion) in 2024.

Aside from the economic ramifications, October’s terror exposed a vulnerability that was exacerbated by the realities underscoring Israel’s enemies’ indiscriminate targeting of Jewish civilians. Among those murdered, tortured, raped, and taken hostage that day were activists committed to coexistence, with some survivors recounting stories of betrayal by Palestinians whom they once considered partners for peace. This depth of hatred demands a Jewish approach that upholds backing Israel regardless of which government holds power. Since October, several celebrities, including actors Jerry Seinfeld, Debra Messing, and Michael Rapaport, have displayed their solidarity by traveling to Israel, and visiting the sites impacted by the war.

But many of these celebrities also engaged in ordinary pursuits, highlighting Israel’s resilience. Soon after arriving in Israel, Jerry Seinfeld was pictured in Tel Aviv eating falafel, while Jewish influencer Montana Tucker led a flash mob on a picturesque beach boardwalk. The famous Israeli comedy show Eretz Nehederet also featured Rapaport, who participated in a parody about campus antisemitism. Their presence illustrates the value of sharing in food, dance, and laughter, even amidst the grief and trauma.

Over time, the enormity of the October 7 terrorist slaughter will dissipate, with some US Jews reverting to past tendencies and disassociating from the Jewish particularism that was rekindled this past fall. The statistics showing that only a quarter of all tourists in Israel are Jewish is a troubling indication that a lack of exposure to the land of Israel may be one justification behind a decade of Jewish disinterest in advocating on its behalf. Visiting Israel and engaging with its citizens is integral to nurturing the affection and enhancing relations between the two cultures.

While tourists inevitably assist in Israel’s economic recovery, absorbing the principles and learning the history tied to Jewish peoplehood is a far more valuable metric to measure one’s travel plans, with its benefits outlasting the short-term pleasures garnered by other foreign experiences.

Irit Tratt is an independent writer residing in New York. Follow her on X @Irit_Tratt

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