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Leading law conference drops UN Israel investigator after Hamas attack

(New York Jewish Week) – A United Nations official leading an investigation into Israel was dropped from the schedule of a prominent international law conference in New York City, where she was due to receive an outstanding achievement award and deliver a keynote address.

The investigator, Navi Pillay, is a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and currently heads the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She was slated to receive an Outstanding Achievement Award and speak at International Law Weekend, a gathering hosted from Oct. 19 through 21 by the International Law Association’s U.S. branch.

Last month, however, dozens of centrist and right-wing Jewish groups protested the decision to honor Pillay, signing onto a letter urging law firms to drop their sponsorship of the event. The letter accused Pillay of working “to further a demonstrably discriminatory agenda against the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

She will still receive the award, but in another setting, and will deliver her speech via webinar at a later date, according to an email the American branch of the law association sent to its board following what it called an “emergency meeting” held Oct. 11, in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel and the subsequent war.

According to the email, the award “will not be withdrawn,” and Pillay is listed as this year’s recipient on the association’s website. The email said the conference had attracted “significant attention and controversy” for the group and the event’s sponsors. The decision to “decouple” the award from the conference was made “both out of sensitivity to the outbreak of hostilities over the weekend and due to security concerns for Judge Navi Pillay and others participating.”

Pillay’s name was on the conference program a few days before Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, according to an archived web page. Her name does not appear on the current version of the program.

The International Law Association has 63 branches and more than 4,800 members, according to its website. The International Law Weekend, hosted by the association’s American branch, is one of the world’s leading annual conferences on international law. The association’s American branch and Pillay’s U.N. commission did not respond to requests for comment, and the association made no public statement regarding her removal from the program.

Four prominent law firms, including two headquartered in New York, were also removed from the conference’s list of sponsors ahead of the event, as was Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. In their letter protesting the event, the coalition of Jewish groups had asked three of the firms — Debevoise & Plimpton; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; and White & Case — to cut ties with the conference due to Pillay’s participation. The fourth firm was Winston & Strawn. The firms and Y.U.’s law school did not respond to requests for comment.

Israel, the United States, Jewish groups and other countries have accused Pillay’s commission and the Human Rights Council of bias against Israel. And Pillay has long been a bête noire for pro-Israel groups. As the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from from September 2008 though August 2014, she often criticized Israel’s actions against Gaza, drawing rebuke from more than 100 members of Congress. The U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly both condemn Israel more than any other country.

Pillay’s Commission of Inquiry overwhelmingly blames Israel for its conflict with the Palestinians. Her recent reports, issued before Oct. 7, have not described Hamas as a terror group and rarely mention Israeli terror victims. The commission’s report released a year ago did not mention Hamas at all. Hamas applauded the commission last year.

One member of the three-person investigation, Miloon Kothari, said last year that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and questioned why Israel was allowed membership in the U.N. Pillay defended Kothari, saying the comments had been “taken out of context.” After the incident, Pillay dismissed charges of antisemitism against the commission as “lies” and a diversion.

Pillay also oversaw the so-called Goldstone report into Israel’s military operation in Gaza in 2008-2009, which accused Israel of war crimes, including deliberately targeting civilians. The report’s lead author, Richard Goldstone, later retracted allegations made in the contentious report, but Pillay has defended the investigation and continues to cite it in her reports for the Commission of Inquiry.

Last year, Goldstone received the award that Pillay is receiving this year.  A co-author of the Goldstone report, Christine Chinkin, is the chair of the International Law Association. Last year, Jewish groups criticized the conference for holding a panel on apartheid featuring several harsh critics of Israel.

Following the Oct. 7 attack, the commission said it was collecting evidence of war crimes committed by “all sides,” criticized “armed groups” from Gaza for killing civilians and condemned Israel’s response.

Pillay delivered her latest report, which was written before the current war, to the General Assembly on Tuesday. The report blames Israeli actions in East Jerusalem for Hamas rocket attacks, and criticizes Israel for taking military action against the terror group. The report was delivered on the same day that Israeli officials called for the resignation of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after he said Hamas’ attack “did not happen in a vacuum.”


The post Leading law conference drops UN Israel investigator after Hamas attack appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks

A protester wrapped in an Israeli flag at a rally against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

A live web service provided by Aish.com that allows users to speak directly with one of the Jewish organization’s leading rabbis has seen a 300 percent increase in usage since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

More than 5,000 chat responses (over 225 per day) are received each month, according to Aish, which added in a press release that many of the chats turn into extended conversations, sometimes on WhatsApp, in which rabbis help unaffiliated or disconnected Jewish users reconnect with their Jewish identities and form bonds with other Jews.

The Jewish organization said it believes the increase in usage of its live web chat service is due to the global rise in antisemitism and a newfound curiosity about Israel following Oct. 7, as well as a “yearning for meaning and community in the face of life’s uncertainties, and a desire for deeper meaning and spirituality in the face of a fast-paced modern culture where spiritual needs have been put on a backburner for too long.”

“We’re hearing from so many Jews who feel profoundly disconnected, whether due to living in areas with little Jewish community or lack of affiliation growing up,” said Rabbi Tzvi Broker, who oversees Aish.com‘s Live Chat. “The personal nature of these interactions, coupled with their anonymity, creates a safe space to ask questions and begin exploring. Having a live rabbi to connect and share with, has been a draw for many, and we’re seeing lives transformed as a result.”

Among their efforts, Broker and his team have helped people on the chat slowly incorporate Jewish rituals and traditions into their lives, and have connected them with peers through the organization’s new online community Aish+ so they can continue learning and engaging with other Jews.

“It’s amazing to witness lives being transformed in such profound ways,” said Broker. “Jews around the world are finding threads of connection to their heritage, and tapping into the depth and wisdom of our tradition to find meaning, community, and resilience in these challenging times.”

Bob Diener, the founder of hotels.com and the seed funder of Aish.com’s live chat, added in a statement: “The chat has been a powerful way for people to connect one-on-one with a spiritual leader and have their unique questions answered in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way. The chat’s rabbis are connecting so many people to their roots who otherwise don’t know where to go for guidance.”

“The chats have had a deep impact on many disconnected from the Jewish community,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “Each of the people we connect with demonstrates a broad yearning to explore Jewish spirituality, peoplehood, and identity and that is why they have been turning to Aish for connection and guidance. We are happy to provide both while connecting them with local Jewish communities in their area, if there is one, to continue their journey.”

The post Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Jerry Seinfeld Ridicules Anti-Israel Heckler Interrupting His Show in Australia: ‘You Moron, Get Out of Here’

Jerry Seinfeld attends the premiere of Netflix’s “Unfrosted” at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, California, US, April 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/David Swanson

Jewish comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld roasted an anti-Israel protester who tried to disrupt his comedy show in Sydney, Australia, at the Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday night.

Videos from the scene showed a male heckler in the audience repeatedly shout, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan that has been widely used as a call for the destruction of Israel.

While the disruptive audience member continued to chant in support of Israel’s extermination, Seinfeld ridiculed him, sarcastically telling the audience:  “We have a genius, ladies and gentlemen! He’s solved the Middle East! He’s solved it: It’s the Jewish comedians, that’s who we have to get! They’re the ones doing everything.”

“Go ahead, keep going,” Seinfeld told the anti-Israel heckler as the audience laughed and cheered. “They’re gonna start punching you in about three second so I would try and get all of your genius out so we can all learn from you. It’s a comedy show you moron, get out of here.”

The heckler was eventually escorted out of the arena by security personnel and as he walked out of the venue, Seinfeld mocked him some more by sarcastically saying: “You’re really influencing everyone here. We’re all on your side because you have made your point so well and in the right venue. You’ve come to the right place for a political conversation. Tomorrow we will read in the paper: ‘Middle East, 100 percent solved thanks to man at the Qudos Arena stopping Jew comedian.’ They stop him and everyone in the Middle East went, ‘Oh my god, let’s just get along.’”

The “Seinfeld” creator then jokingly suggested that to solve issues with “indigenous Aboriginal people and the white people” maybe he should harass Australian comedian Jim Jefferies during a comedy show in New York because “if this works, that will work.”

“You have to go 20,000 miles from the problem and screw up a comedian. That is how you solve world issues,” Seinfeld quipped.

Seinfeld had a number of his comedy shows recently disrupted by anti-Israel activists because of his support for Israel since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. Seinfeld’s commencement speech at Duke University was also interrupted by similar protesters, who staged a walk-out shortly after he was introduced on stage.

During an interview last month, Seinfeld addressed protesters by saying: “It’s so dumb. In fact, when we get protesters occasionally, I love to say to the audience, ‘You know, I love that these young people, they’re trying to get engaged with politics … we just have to correct their aim a little bit.”

The post Jerry Seinfeld Ridicules Anti-Israel Heckler Interrupting His Show in Australia: ‘You Moron, Get Out of Here’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Ratted out: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the end of feeling a need to ask if every contrived pop-culture trend is good for the Jews

As an expert (self-proclaimed) in the female heterosexual gaze, I took note of the trend of the “hot rodent man.” Does this mean you’re attracted to the friendly mascot from Orkin Exterminator Co.? Maybe you do, maybe he’s tremendous, but no, “hot rodent man” refers to what is essentially the male equivalent of jolie laide, […]

The post Ratted out: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the end of feeling a need to ask if every contrived pop-culture trend is good for the Jews appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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