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Newspaper Covers for Israeli Who Was Arrested for Allegedly Justifying Hamas Rapes

Partygoers at the Supernova Psy-Trance Festival who filmed the events that unfolded on Oct. 7, 2023. Photo: Yes Studios

Just a week after criticizing the entire Israeli media for emphasizing Israel’s pain following the October 7 Hamas attack and not emphasizing Palestinian suffering in the Gaza Strip, journalists Emma Graham-Harrison and Quique Kierszenbaum have followed up with another skewed article published in The Guardian’s sister newspaper, The Observer.

Headlined, “‘It is a time of witch hunts in Israel’: teacher held in solitary confinement for posting concern about Gaza deaths,” the piece focuses primarily on Meir Baruchin, who, readers are told in the subheading, was “fired and jailed for criticising the military.” The article claims that “many who agree with him are afraid to go public.”

The piece explains that the “grey-haired, softly spoken history and civics teacher” was placed in solitary confinement in a Jerusalem jail in early November after he was charged with intent to commit treason over what Graham-Harrison and Kierszenbaum describe vaguely as a “series of Facebook posts he’d made, mourning the civilians killed in Gaza, criticising the Israeli military, and warning against wars of revenge.”

Indeed, just one message that Baruchin posted online on October 8 — as the scale of the unprovoked massacre of Israeli civilians was clear — is reprinted in the article:

“Horrific images are pouring in from Gaza. Entire families were wiped out. I don’t usually upload pictures like this, but look what we do in revenge,” said a message on 8 October, below a picture of the family of Abu Daqqa, killed in one of the first airstrikes on Gaza. “Anyone who thinks this is justified because of what happened yesterday, should unfriend themselves. I ask everyone else to do everything possible to stop this madness. Stop it now. Not later, Now!!!”

What readers are not told, however, is about the other comments Baruchin allegedly posted online that dark day in October.

Among other things, Baruchin is said to have justified Hamas terrorists raping Israeli women and also accused the IDF of perpetrating sexual attacks against Palestinian women ever since the State of Israel was established.

Had Graham-Harrison and Kierszenbaum reprinted the alleged posts, the fact that Baruchin was initially arrested for incitement would have at least made some sense.

The piece later says that — despite what’s stated in the headline — Baruchin is technically no longer working as a teacher after making what they call “similar criticism at a less volatile time” that led to his sacking from a school in Rishon LeZion three years ago.

But again, the actual contents of Baruchin’s incendiary posts are glossed over: readers are not told that in January 2020 following a terrorist attack, he uploaded a photo of the Palestinian terrorist and “eulogized him and described his deeds as acts of desperation,” according to Adnan Zada, the Israel Police representative.

In another post written in the aftermath of a car-ramming, Baruchin allegedly said the attacker could not be called a “terrorist.”

Finally, the circumstances surrounding his job are incorrectly stated in the Observer piece, which states that Baruchin has an employment tribunal hearing this month because, under Israeli law, municipal authorities have “no right to fire a teacher whose performance has always been excellent.”

Going back to reports from three years ago, it is clear that Baruchin was not simply fired for expressing his personal opinions.

What actually happened was that Baruchin described the IDF as “murderers,” and he was called into a meeting with the school principal, Dr. Sophie Ben Artzi, who told him his comments were not appropriate. “I asked him into my office and just said that I am not prepared for him to call IDF soldiers murderers. He said that he will call them whatever he wants and I responded with ‘meeting over,’” she explained about the incident.

Yet, full details of the allegations that led to Baruchin’s arrest aren’t the only thing absent from this Observer feature.

The case of another teacher, Yael Ayalon, the head of a Tel Aviv high school, is also briefly touched upon, with readers told that she was summoned by authorities after sharing an article by Haaretz that claimed the Israeli media is hiding how Gazan civilians are being impacted by the war:

Her students rioted in the school after news of the post spread; she took her employers to a tribunal and was reinstated, but when she returned to school she was attacked again by students chanting ‘go home’. She declined to speak to the Observer.

But in an ironic twist, it is Haaretz that went into the circumstances of the case, with sources telling the publication that Ayalon was summoned to the hearing “due to her problematic conduct, which also includes various administrative issues, and not due to her Facebook posting.”

Graham-Harrison and Kierszenbaum’s latest feature is a masterclass on how to spin the truth.

One can agree or disagree with Baruchin’s treatment by Israeli authorities, but it is clear that Graham-Harrison and Kierszenbaum have told only half the story in an attempt to portray Israel as being in the grip of McCarthyism when it comes to criticism of its military and the current war against Hamas.

While Meir Baruchin may benefit from this bias, hopefully, some readers will Google his name and read the full story.

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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Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. Photo: Screenshot

The tourism authority in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos has appointed a top diplomat to mediate the growing tensions between local businesses and Orthodox Jewish visitors as complaints of antisemitism increase.

Michael Ambühl — the former State Secretary of Switzerland previously in charge of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU)  — will head a task force to tackle the problem, Swiss media outlets reported on Friday.

The announcement of Ambühl’s appointment comes just days after the resort was roiled by the refusal of a restaurant that operates a ski equipment rental store to provide services to Jewish guests.

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

Swiss police are currently investigating the incident as a possible case of discrimination. One Israeli tourist reported that he had visited the Pischa Restaurant where he “pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request.”

The tourism authority’s decision has irritated the country’s main Jewish representative body, the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG), which had been engaged in a separate dialog with the authority about accommodating Jewish guests that was abruptly closed down last year.

“The latest case shows that something is obviously wrong in Davos,” SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in remarks quoted by the Blick news outlet.

Kreutner said that “comparable problems are not known from other holiday destinations, especially in those where our dialogue program is still active.” Kreutner acknowledged that the tourism authority “wants to take a new path, but we don’t yet know what it looks like and where it will lead.”

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‘Israel Outright Rejects International Dictates’: Biden Creating Plan For Palestinian State, Netanyahu Pushes Back: Report

US President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City, US, Sept. 20, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US President Joe Biden, along with a number of Arab states, are quickly working to form a plan to end the Israel-Hamas war and create a Palestinian state, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, sparking pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The first step of such a plan would be for Israel and Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the Israeli hostages. Then, during that pause in fighting, the U.S. and its Arab partners would announce the plan and start to form an interim Palestinian government.

The US, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates are all reportedly are part of the talks, which have an ultimate goal of creating a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Washington Post also suggests that Israel may be expected to expel many of its own citizens from West Bank settlements and help rebuild Gaza.

The development of these plans is part of the reason Biden has cautioned Israel against moving on to fighting Hamas in Rafah — the terrorist group’s last stronghold. He believes such a ground offensive could jeopardize the prospect of peace. 

In a statement on Thursday, the White House said Biden “raised the situation in Rafah [during a call with Netanyahu], and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”

In response to these reports and the conversation he had with Biden, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

He added, “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

The tension represents the latest hiccup in Biden and Netanyahu’s relationship, which has grown increasingly sour since October 7 as Biden put pressure on Israel to wind down its fight against Hamas.

Netanyahu, jpwever, was not the only one to question the prudence of the proposed American-led plan. Left-leaning group Democratic Majority for Israel said in a post on Twitter/X: “We have always favored a two state solution. But right now, how do we ensure the lesson does not become ‘sheer evil,’ pays? That must be a central part of any plan.”

Richard Goldberg, a Senior Advisor at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies contended that the plan “is doomed to fail for several reasons. Two big ones: It’s premised on Hamas surviving and involves Qatar.” 

“Israel will be in a much stronger position after it takes Rafah,” he argued.

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Harvard University Issued Subpoenaed for Antisemitism Documents

Pro-Hamas students rallying at Harvard University. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Following weeks of warnings and ultimatums, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce subpoenaed Harvard University on Friday to hand over documents related to its handling of allegations of antisemitic intimidation and harassment.

The order represents an escalation of tactics by the House Committee, which began investigating Harvard University last semester to determine whether it ignores complaints of discrimination when the victims who lodge them are Jewish. Since then, Harvard has been asked twice to submit a trove of materials requested by the committee.

Last week, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote Harvard a censorious letter accusing school officials of obstructing the committee’s investigation with “grossly insufficient” responses to its inquires and submitting content of a “limited and dilatory nature.”

In a statement to Reuters, Harvard maintained that it has cooperated with the committee in “good faith,” providing “10 submissions totaling more than 3,500 pages that directly address key areas of inquiry put forward by the committee.” Chairwoman Foxx told the outlet, however that the problem is one of “quality, not quantity,” suggesting that Harvard is frenetically pantomiming compliance without providing anything of substance.

Foxx has requested “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and “related communications” going back to 2021 that were sent to Harvard’s offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz, who, the school determined, had “denigrated” several students for being “Israeli Jews.” Originally, Foxx gave Harvard a deadline of Jan. 23 by which to comply.

“While a subpoena was unwarranted, Harvard remains committed to cooperating with the committee and will continue to provide additional materials, while protecting the legitimate privacy, safety, and security concerns of our community,” Harvard told Reuters.

“We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage,” said committee member and Harvard Alumnus Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a statement announcing the action.

The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs, and its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarizer. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.

As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.

In Novevmber, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “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.

By Dec., Claudine Gay —  along with Elizabeth Magill of University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Sally Kornbluth of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — was hauled before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to account for her administration’s handling of the problem. For weeks, Gay was reluctant to punish students who chanted genocidal slogans and unequivocally condemn antisemitism. During questioning, she told the committee that determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews constitutes a violation of school rules depends “on the context.”

Two days later, the committee launched investigations of Harvard, Penn, and MIT.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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