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Ishay Ribo, Orthodox Israeli pop star, delivers rock concert-religious revival mashup at Madison Square Garden

(New York Jewish Week) — The 15,000 people who gathered in Madison Square Garden for Israeli pop star Ishay Ribo’s concert on Sunday night were treated to an unofficial kickoff of the High Holiday season, less than two weeks before Rosh Hashanah.

Ribo, an Orthodox musician who became the first Israeli to headline the New York City venue, delivered a show that was equal parts rock concert and religious revival.

He opened his set with lines from the Amidah, recited three times a day in Jewish prayer: “God, open my lips so that my mouth may declare Your praise.” Later, the Hasidic star Avraham Fried joined him onstage for a spontaneous joint rendition of “Avinu Malkeinu,” the plaintive poem sung on Yom Kippur.

Ribo’s chart-topping “Seder HaAvodah” had the crowd singing aloud the Yom Kippur liturgy that reenacts the ancient Temple rites. And the encore kicked off with Ribo leading a niggun, or wordless melody, in honor of the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, the 17th-century founder of Hasidism. For that number, Ribo changed from black clothing into the white traditionally worn on the Day of Atonement.

The two-hour performance, with its lush light show and string of special guests, was a fitting encapsulation of Ribo’s particular brand of Jewish music. Ribo has become a megastar in Israel and a favorite in Orthodox communities around the world due to his blend of pop sensibilities and liturgical lyrics, a rarity in the Orthodox music scene.

“A lot of Jewish singers will try to not sound current for specific reasons,” said Reva, an Upper West Sider who attended with friends after her parents passed along their tickets because they were in Israel. (Like most of the attendees interviewed, she declined to share her full name out of privacy concerns.)

“It feels like this is actually good music,” she said about Ribo. “And it’s beautiful to be in the room singing along to songs about what it means to be a Jew.”

The concert showcased the ways in which Ribo has broken the mold at a time of increasing religious stringency in Orthodox communities. All of Ribo’s songs exalt God, with many featuring lyrics ripped straight from Jewish prayers, but the music is decidedly rock and roll; Ribo has cited Coldplay, a band he heard while riding the bus to his haredi yeshiva in Israel, as an inspiration.

In addition to Fried, his musical guests included another religious pop singer, Akiva Turgeman, and a secular Israeli musician, Amir Dadon. The audience was largely Orthodox, but unlike at other Orthodox mass prayer gatherings — such as the ceremony to mark the end of a cycle of studying Talmud, or rallies to warn of the dangers of internet use — men and women sat together.

Many attendees said they had seen Ribo live at least once before, including in Israel; in May 2022 when he played Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens; and two years ago when he played a similar High Holidays-themed show at Kings Theater in Brooklyn.

“It’s a great way to go into the new year,” said one Long Island woman who saw him perform at Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem shortly before Rosh Hashanah last year. “He does a really good job of making you feel connected.”

Not everyone in attendance was Orthodox, or even Jewish. Ke Chen, a recent immigrant from China, said he had become a Ribo fan while getting a master’s degree in data analytics and visualization at Yeshiva University, the uptown Orthodox flagship, and had attended the Flushing show last year.

“I felt that this music was very good and amazing,” Chen said. “I thought if he comes back here this year, I will go again.”

Rabbi Ethan Tucker, the president of Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva based in New York, spent the beginning of the evening trying to gather an egalitarian prayer service to rival the all-male prayer that took place in the hallways of the Garden, alongside robust lines at the venue’s multiple kosher vendors.

After the show, he wrote on Facebook that he had been moved by seeing about the same number of Jews gathered in the arena as would have fit within the ancient Temple, according to measurements sketched out in Jewish texts. The Midtown stadium — home of the Knicks and Rangers sports teams along with being an iconic concert venue — isn’t exactly the Temple, he wrote, but there were similarities to the experience.

“When Ribo was up on the stage, singing his song about the Temple service on Yom Kippur, and when 10,000-15,000 people screamed out [blessed is God’s royal name forever] as the religious chorus of his song, and they then ecstatically break out into chants of … fortunate is the people for whom this is their lot — it may not be as wildly different an experience as we might think,” Tucker wrote.

The concert, which Madison Square Garden touted as sold-out, was sponsored by Bnei Akiva, a religious Zionist youth movement that aims to spur immigration to Israel. A video shown before the show promised an array of benefits special for anyone in the audience who makes the move in the coming year — including a private concert by Ribo.

Ribo also performed “Ani Shayach Le’am” (“I Belong To a Nation”), which he released in April in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday. The song borrows from Passover to ask “Mah Nishtana” – or what is different – between the people of Israel and other nations. (In a sign of religion’s evolving place in Israeli culture, Ribo is not the only Israeli pop star to quote the Haggadah in his tunes: Omer Adam, another Israeli chart-topper, also quotes “Mah Nishtana” in his recent song “Floor 58.”)

The song has drawn criticism since its premiere for seeming to suggest that Jews uniquely know God, while others worship false idols. For some in attendance, the song was a blemish on an otherwise uplifting night.

“In regular times this may not have stood out to me: There are a lot of Jewish texts that speak to why we love being Jewish,” Esther Sperber, a New York City architect who has been active in local protests against Israel’s current right-wing government, said by email on Monday. “However, given the current government’s racist and nationalistic rhetoric and the recent horrible violence of settlers against Palestinians, I am wearier of these expressions of Jewish supremacy and their effects on extremists.”

Still, Sperber said, referring to the Jewish month that precedes the High Holidays, “I was deeply moved by the spiritual, Elul atmosphere of the concert.”

Another concert attendee named Moshe, a follower of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who lives in Switzerland, came after his children invited him. He said he had hoped to bring Ribo to Zurich but had been priced out after Ribo’s star rose during the pandemic.

“He’s unique in that he crosses all borders. You can see here the right to the left, everyone is coming together,” he said.

So would Ribo make a good prime minister? Moshe’s answer at first was unequivocal: “No. A prime minister has to be a political animal. He is a heart person.” But a few minutes later, he reconsidered: “You know, we’ve already had a leader who was a musician — King David. So it can work!”

For his part, Ribo appeared to relish in his pathbreaking New York City performance. Almost all of his stage banter was in Hebrew, although Ribo, who moved to Israel as a child with his family from France, said he was working on learning English.

On Monday, he posted — in Hebrew — on Instagram that he still felt like he was floating after the experience. He wrote, “We got to laugh, rejoice, get excited, cry and dance together, and all in Madison Square Garden!”


The post Ishay Ribo, Orthodox Israeli pop star, delivers rock concert-religious revival mashup at Madison Square Garden appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Iran Attacks Israel: CNN Host Minimizes Barrage & Fake News Goes Viral

An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, April 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Iran launched an unprecedented direct attack on Israel on Saturday, sending at least 300 drones and missiles towards the Jewish state.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) coordinated with other militaries, including the US and UK, to intercept most of the projectiles, which were also supplemented by further rockets fired from Iranian terror proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah also joined the assault, and announced that it had fired two barrages of rockets at an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights.

Hamas gained support for Oct 7 by inciting fear among Palestinians about Israel’s intentions for the Temple Mount.

Tonight, Israel protected their holy sites from missiles fired by Hamas’s patron Iran. pic.twitter.com/sluuiXgbzb

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

Fake News Goes Viral Overnight

As the skies above and surrounding Israel were lit up with rockets overnight, social media was also alight with fake news, videos, and photos purporting to be of the extraordinary attack.

While the majority of outright false information came from users on the platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera was also caught publishing a video that it falsely claimed showed rockets hitting Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, infamous pro-Hamas influencer Jackson Hinkle was among the X platform users to share fake footage that he said showed “Israelis panicking” as the Iranian barrages hit Israel. BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh confirmed the video was actually of crowds in Argentina waiting to meet a musician. 

This video, posted by Jackson Hinkle and others and viewed nearly 5 million times, claims to show “Israelis panicking” as Iran’s missiles and drones reach Israel.

in fact, it shows Louis Tomlinson fans near Four Seasons Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week; verified by… pic.twitter.com/11tX9bL0sh

— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) April 14, 2024

Hinkle, who was recently banned from Instagram, posted numerous messages of support for Iran throughout the attack, including several posts praising Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and AI-generated images of planes dropping bombs.

Unsurprisingly, Iran’s state TV was behind the spread of many videos that purported to show catastrophic damage in Israel, including one that was actually of a fire in Chile that was filmed in February.

On the left: Iranian state media claiming this is footage from an Iranian missile which hit Israel.

On the right: the same footage from a fire in Chile in February.

𝐑𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐈𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐦𝐞: our defense systems intercepted 99% of their missiles. pic.twitter.com/xpLXGO3qd0

— Israel ישראל (@Israel) April 14, 2024

Perhaps hoping to ratchet up the tension, a number of users shared claims that Israel had immediately launched a drone counterstrike on Iran, including sharing videos of what they claimed was a fire in Tehran.

Others shared footage of the 2020 Beirut Port explosion, which they said showed Israel’s Mossad bombing the Iranian capital.

BREAKING: A massive drone strike has occurred in Iran’s capital, Tehran. The Israeli Mossad has already claimed responsibility for it. pic.twitter.com/Q9VdxI6heV

— GSPs Backup (@ConLibCon) April 13, 2024

The international media responded to the overnight attack with breaking news updates and rolling live coverage.

While most of the reporting stuck to the facts, there were a few instances of the media either downplaying the attack or obscuring the sequence of events that preceded Iran’s assault.

CNN pundit Christiane Amanpour, for example, ludicrously described the attack as “entirely targeted,” even though hundreds of thousands of Israelis were forced into shelters as large parts of the country remained under threat.

“It seems to be entirely targeted; it wasn’t an attack directed at the whole of Israel.”@amanpour, try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who were forced into bomb shelters or the 7-year-old girl critically injured by shrapnel to her head. pic.twitter.com/XtZaPY8zmR

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

The BBC and ABC News Australia did not specify in their headlines that Iran had fired hundreds of drones and long-range missiles at Israel, instead vaguely referring to the weapons as “objects.” Furthermore, ABC News Australia’s headline failed to mention Iran at all.

“Objects.”

Well done, @BBCNews. https://t.co/289O02VZRl pic.twitter.com/oo16CLpxk4

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

The New York Times, in its coverage, suggested that the attack was somehow justified by asserting that Israel had “bombed an Iranian embassy complex” in Damascus. In reality, Israel targeted a building near the embassy that was being used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) leaders to coordinate attacks on Israel.

The Observer published an editorial mere hours after the attack, calling for any further escalation to be prevented:

Amid the present tumult, it should not be forgotten that this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack crossed a red line by targeting diplomatic premises.” [emphasis added]

Let us be completely clear: there is nothing “unreasonable,” as The Observer suggests, about Israel striking the infrastructure of the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism that was being used to mastermind attacks on Israel. Suggesting it was merely a diplomatic facility is nothing short of absurd.

According to @ObserverUK, “this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack… pic.twitter.com/sXidFByZTZ

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 14, 2024

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.

The post Iran Attacks Israel: CNN Host Minimizes Barrage & Fake News Goes Viral first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hamas Leader Haniyeh Set to Meet Turkish President Erdogan

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, March 26, 2024. Photo: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

i24 News — Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, is scheduled to visit Turkey for talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports from broadcaster NTV.

Erdogan had earlier confirmed the upcoming meeting while addressing lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament, reaffirming Turkey’s stance on Hamas as a “liberation movement.”

The meeting comes in the wake of a phone call last Wednesday, during which Erdogan offered condolences to Haniyeh after three of his sons were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

“Israel will definitely be held accountable before the law for the crimes against humanity it committed,” Erdogan told Haniyeh, according to the AFP news agency.

Confirming the fatalities, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the three operatives killed in the strike were indeed the sons of Haniyeh, the chairman of Hamas’ political bureau. One of Haniyeh’s sons was allegedly involved in holding Israeli hostages. The IDF described all three as terrorist operatives in Hamas’ armed wing.

Erdogan’s support for Hamas has been evident amid renewed tensions between Turkey and Israel. Although the two countries announced the normalization of relations in August 2022, Erdogan has resumed his verbal attacks on Israel since the onset of the war in Gaza.

In one of his speeches, Erdogan harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of committing atrocities in Gaza and dubbing him as the “butcher of Gaza.”

The post Hamas Leader Haniyeh Set to Meet Turkish President Erdogan first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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CAIR Accuses ADL of Spreading Hate, Despite Controversial Oct. 7 Comments

Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Photo: Screenshot

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has accused the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of fanning the flames of hate and called for the firing of its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, for a recent comment he made that it was unacceptable for someone wearing a keffiyeh to chant “death to the Zionists.”

The accusation against one of America’s most prominent Jewish civil rights groups came after CAIR, another well known nonprofit, received widespread criticism late last year when its executive director said was “happy” to see Gazans “break the siege” during the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

CAIR on Monday released a letter with more than 60 other organizations, labeling Greenblatt, who is widely perceived as politically liberal, as an “extreme [supporter] of the Israeli government” who has “smear[ed] Palestinian human rights advocates.”

The letter alleged that Greenblatt “analogiz[ed] the Palestinian keffiyeh to the Nazi swastika” during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe television program late last month.

On the show, Greenblatt said that people should be concerned about the tactics of anti-Israel activists on college campuses because when they graduate they would be joining “your board rooms, they’re going to editorial boards, they’re going to the assignment desk of news networks.”

He argued that “if you wouldn’t tolerate” someone saying “death to the Zionists, I wish for that and worse” while they were “wearing a swastika on their arm, I’m sorry, you should not tolerate it if you’re wearing a keffiyeh on their head.” He further noted it was wrong to call for “death to” anyone.

CAIR’s letter did not directly quote Greenblatt’s comment, instead only opting to include the group’s  interpretation of it. 

The letter also alleged that the ADL chief has refused to clarify what he said.

Greenblatt responded to CAIR’s claims in a statement to The Algemeiner.

“Comments I made weeks ago are unsurprisingly being taken entirely out of context by CAIR, an organization that seems to specialize in fiction rather than fact,” he said. “To be crystal clear: hate speech calling for the death of people should not be tolerated whether the person is wearing a Nazi armband or a keffiyeh, a kippah or a cross, or anything else for that matter.”

“I’m not comparing the garb,” Greenblatt emphasized. “I’m comparing the hate speech and how it shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone, period.”

This week’s spat between the two organizations came after the head of CAIR said he was “happy” to witness Hamas’ rampage across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the Palestinian terrorist group invaded the Jewish state from neighboring Gaza, murdered 1,200 people, and kidnapped 253 others as hostages.

“The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege — the walls of the concentration camp — on Oct. 7,” CAIR co-founder and executive director Nihad Awad said in a speech during the American Muslims for Palestine convention in Chicago in November. “And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in.”

Awad was referring to the blockade that Israel and Egypt enforced on Gaza after Hamas took control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007, to prevent the terror group from importing weapons and other materials and equipment for attacks.

About a week later, the executive director of CAIR’s Los Angeles office, Hussam Ayloush, said that Israel “does not have the right” to defend itself from Palestinian violence. He added in his sermon at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City that for the Palestinians, “every single day” since the Jewish state’s establishment has been comparable to Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught.

CAIR has long been a controversial organization. In the 2000s, it was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case. Politico noted in 2010 that “US District Court Judge Jorge Solis found that the government presented ‘ample evidence to establish the association’” of CAIR with Hamas.

According to the ADL, “some of CAIR’s current leadership had early connections with organizations that are or were affiliated with Hamas.” CAIR has disputed the accuracy of the ADL’s claim and asserted that CAIR “unequivocally condemn[s] all acts of terrorism, whether carried out by al-Qa’ida, the Real IRA, FARC, Hamas, ETA, or any other group designated by the US Department of State as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization.’”

The post CAIR Accuses ADL of Spreading Hate, Despite Controversial Oct. 7 Comments first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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