(JTA) — On the morning of Oct. 7, as the horrors unfolding in southern Israel reverberated through mobile screens and live-streamed videos across the world, a hummus restaurant in Germany closed its doors.
Behind Kanaan, a restaurant in northeastern Berlin serving up hummus, salads and falafel, is a rare Israeli-Palestinian partnership. Oz Ben David grew up in Ariel, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. His Palestinian co-owner Jalil Dabit comes from Ramle, a mixed city in central Israel, and has family in the West Bank and Gaza.
The restaurant has won a reputation for both its hummus — called by some “the best” in Berlin — and its message. It hosts belly dancing parties alongside employment programs for Syrian refugees and transgender Berliners. Ben David and Dabit frequently speak in public forums about coexistence.
But after Ben David’s family and friends were attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7, he could not imagine walking back into work. He called Dabit in a fit of anger.
“I felt full of rage, I felt like that’s it — it’s stupid, everything I’ve worked on in the past years is stupid,” recalled Ben David. “I was giving lectures nonstop and getting invited to talk about peace, and then I lost it, I just felt like it didn’t exist in me anymore.”
Dabit, who travels between Berlin and Ramle, was in Ramle when Hamas attacked. He cried on the phone as he heard Ben David’s voice distorted by pain and vengefulness.
“He was really not the Oz that I know,” Dabit told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I let him talk — he wanted to close the restaurant, and let’s do this to Gaza, let’s do that, all the angry things that people say when they are in tough times.”
Dabit agreed to temporarily close the restaurant, but he called every day to check on his partner. As the only Palestinian child in an Israeli school during the Second Intifada, a violent Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, he witnessed Hamas bombings of buses and targets in the middle of Israeli cities. He knew intimately the machinations of terror and how Israeli children were taught to hate an enemy. And he believed that if Ben David vented his anger, he would leave it behind.
“He had the tools to understand and believe that I would come back to myself,” said Ben David.
On Oct. 13, he reopened Kanaan. The restaurant has filled with customers showing support for the Israeli-Palestinian duo, some seeking an alternative to deep social rifts over the war in Israel and Gaza.
Those divisions have spilled into the world of food and turned hummus into a political weapon. Some groups accuse Israeli chefs of “colonizing” Palestinian food, while others argue that Israeli cuisine merges recipes from the Jewish diaspora with Middle Eastern influences. In the United States, nearly 900 chefs, food authors and farmers have signed a pledge to boycott Israel-based food businesses. Other groups, such as the Philly Palestine Coalition, have boycotted restaurants that are not Israeli-owned but claim to serve Israeli food.
When Ben David and Dabit started Kanaan, they were less interested in a peace mission than in bringing the best hummus to Berlin. They met through mutual friends in the city and discovered that many German food suppliers imported supplies neither from Israel nor the Palestinian territories, preferring to avoid the politically sensitive region altogether and get their tahini from Turkey. But to Ben David’s and Dabit’s minds, the best hummus came from the West Bank.
So they established Kanaan in 2015, billed as a vegan Middle Eastern restaurant. But they soon learned that their mere existence as Israeli-Palestinian partners was divisive. When they opened, thousands of Berliners protested the “normalization” of a Palestinian working with an Israeli, while thousands of others showed up to support their business.
“We understood we were creating something really special,” Ben David told JTA.
The two decided to leverage their platform. Over the past eight years, they have used the popular restaurant as a space to promote a peaceful political solution in their shared homeland. But that project was put to the test on Oct. 7.
Some of Ben David’s family lives in Kibbutz Re’im, a secular farming community just a few miles from the Gaza Strip. As Hamas militants rampaged through the kibbutz on Oct. 7, killing five of its residents and 364 people at a nearby music festival, Ben David pieced together the news from his family members on WhatsApp.
“I’m literally talking with my cousins and my uncle that live in Kibbutz Re’im, and they said that they were locked in their security rooms and hearing the gunshots outside,” he said.
Ben David spent his childhood summers visiting his aunt and uncle at the kibbutz, playing in grass fields among the cows and goats, picking apples and peanuts. About 2,000 people lived in the three neighboring kibbutzes struck by Hamas — Re’im, Alumim and Be’eri — where at least 130 people were massacred. Many who live there represent Israel’s slim left-wing, peace-seeking bloc.
Ben David’s family survived, but a friend of his was killed at the Tribe of Nova music festival.
Dabit has stayed with his wife and children in Ramle since the war broke out, sheltering day and night from Hamas rockets. He lost contact with his family members in Gaza weeks ago.
On his mother’s side, Dabit’s family has lived in Ramle for hundreds of years. His paternal grandfather Abu Fuzi arrived from Jaffa in 1942 and opened the famed hummus restaurant Samir. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Abu Fuzi was the only member of his family who did not flee to Jordan.
“One Jewish soldier knew him from the restaurant and told him not to go, because if he ran then he would not have a place to come back to,” said Dabit. “So he decided to stay.” The business was passed down to Dabit’s father Samir and then to Dabit, who still runs the restaurant in addition to Kanaan.
As their families at home are ravaged by war, Ben David and Dabit have faced down a fraught debate about mounting antisemitism and free speech in Germany. Berlin has seen a surge of antisemitic incidents since the Israel-Hamas war broke out, from Molotov cocktails thrown at a synagogue to Stars of David painted on apartment buildings.
German authorities have responded by cracking down on demonstrations of solidarity with Palestinians, including the more than 14,000 that the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has reported killed by Israeli airstrikes. Cities such as Hamburg have blocked pro-Palestinian rallies, while Berlin’s education senator authorized schools to forbid the keffiyeh scarf and the phrase “Free Palestine.”
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has called these bans a “justified” measure against “anti-Israel, aggressive and antisemitic” threats. But some opponents of the clampdown are Jews. One group of more than 100 Jewish Berlin writers, scholars and artists denounced the measures in an open letter that said, “If this is an attempt to atone for German history, its effect is to risk repeating it.”
In a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Nov. 8, Ben David and Dabit offered Kanaan’s menu as an example for German society — an ideal in which all people can be heard without taking away from each other.
“We take German Kartoffelpuffer [potato pancakes] with Israeli salad and Palestinian hummus, and we create this dish that’s called Hummus Kartoffelpuffer,” said Ben David. “It’s a one-of-a-kind combination of flavors and taste, and everyone donates something to the plate — this is how German society needs to be.”
The duo often disagrees about food, business and politics. Ben David describes his political views as more right-wing than Dabit’s; for example, he believes in a peace agreement that would allow Jewish settlers to remain in the settlements of Hebron and Ariel. But there is nothing they won’t talk about.
“After time we agree, and sometimes we agree not to agree,” said Dabit. “But life is more important, and making things is better than breaking things, and building things makes them harder to destroy. So we’re building something, and we don’t want to destroy it because we don’t agree about this or that — the idea and the vision, it’s more important.”
The post Oct. 7 nearly derailed Berlin’s famous Israeli-Palestinian restaurant. But it’s back in business. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
‘Despicable’: Harvard Denounces Nazi-Esque Image Shared by Anti-Zionist Faculty Group
Harvard University denounced an antisemitic image depicting a Jew lynching an African American and an Arab which was released by a faculty anti-Zionist group on social media.
“The university is aware of social media posts today containing deeply offensive antisemitic tropes and messages from organizations whose membership includes Harvard affiliates,” the university said, speaking from its Instagram account. “Such despicable messages have no place in the Harvard community. We condemn these posts in the strongest possible terms.”
Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP), a group which describes itself as a “collective” committed to falsely accusing Israel of genocide and dispossession — terms one finds on the fringes of the extreme right — initiated this latest controversy. The image it shared shows a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David containing a dollar sign at its center dangling a Black man and an Arab man from a noose. In its posterior, an arm belonging to an unknown person of color wields a machete that says, “Liberation Movement.”
“African people have a profound understanding of apartheid and occupation,” says a graphic in which the image appears. “The historical roots of solidarity between Black liberation movements and Palestinian liberation began in the late 1960s. This period was marked by a heightened awareness among Black organizations in the United States.”
It continued, “The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] linked Zionism to an imperial project while the Black Panther Party aligned itself with the Palestinian resistance, framing both struggles as part of a unified front against racism, Zionism, and imperialism.”
On Monday, Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine — whose 112 founding members include professors Walter Johnson, Jennifer Brody, Diane Moore, Charlie Prodger, Leslie Fernandez, Khameer Kidia, and Duncan Kennedy — apologized for sharing the image and suggested that it was unaware of its own social media activity.
“It has come to our attention that a post featuring antiquated cartoons which used offensive antisemitic tropes was linked to our account,” the group said. “We removed the content as soon as it came to our attention. We apologize for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way.”
Two other student groups have apologized for sharing the image, according to The Harvard Crimson. In a joint statement, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African and American Resistance Organization said “our mutual goals for liberation will always include the Jewish community — and we regret inadvertently including an image that played upon antisemitic tropes.”
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. Its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarist. 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 November, 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.
The university is currently being investigated by the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. It was recently subpoenaed by the body after weeks of allegedly obstructing the inquiry.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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The Red Cross Has Abandoned Israeli Hostages and Its Pretense of Neutrality
The Red Cross has once again failed the Jewish people by choosing to appease its enemies rather than help those in need.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in its mission statement, claims to be “an impartial, neutral, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”
The actions of the Red Cross since October 7, however, show that it does not consider the lives and dignity of all victims to be equal. Instead, the Red Cross has fallen in line with those who refuse to condemn Hamas and ignore the atrocities perpetrated against Israelis.
This isn’t the first time that the Red Cross has ignored the suffering of Jewish people to avoid offending those who seek to eliminate the Jewish people. The Red Cross has received three Nobel Peace Prizes, including one in 1944 for its services in World War II, but decades later, we know the whole truth.
Documents released after the war revealed that the Red Cross was well aware of the Nazis’ genocide of the Jews and chose to remain silent. The Red Cross defended itself by claiming that if it had disclosed what it knew, “it would have lost its ability to inspect prisoner-of-war camps on both sides of the front.” Although the Red Cross has apologized for its inaction in confronting the Holocaust, the bias the ICRC has shown against Israel makes that apology ring hollow.
Magen David Adom, Israel’s official emergency service, was founded in 1930 and ratified as a National Red Cross Society by the Knesset in 1950. However, the Red Cross refused to allow Magen David Adom entry to the international organization because the latter wanted to use the Star of David as its symbol in place of a red cross. Even though Muslim Red Cross organizations use a red crescent as their symbol, Israel is singled out for refusal. Only after 76 years of life-saving work was Magen David Adom finally accepted by the ICRC in 2006.
The Red Cross has conducted itself similarly since Hamas took Israeli hostages. The Red Cross gained much acclaim for bringing Israeli hostages home after they were released. However, the Red Cross played no part in the negotiations that led to the release, and made no effort to visit the hostages while they were imprisoned.
This is in stark contrast to past hostage crises. During the Iranian hostage crisis, the Red Cross visited the occupied US embassy in Tehran. When 72 Japanese hostages were kidnapped by guerrilla forces in Peru in 1996, the Red Cross provided food and medical assistance. When New York Times reporter David Rohde was held by the Taliban in 2008, the Red Cross delivered him a letter from his wife. When more than 240 hostages were taken from Israel, however, the Red Cross did nothing.
The Red Cross responded to a recent lawsuit filed by Israeli hostages, which claims that the Red Cross neglected its duty to visit prisoners of war, by saying: “The more public pressure we seemingly would do, the more they [Hamas] would shut the door.”
The evidence shows that the Red Cross did not try very hard. UN Watch compiled a report showing that the ICRC’s social media posts were heavily biased in favor of Hamas, and refused to acknowledge Hamas’ atrocities and the plight of the Israeli hostages.
When families of the hostages asked the Red Cross to deliver life-saving medications to their family members in captivity, they were scolded and told to “think about the Palestinian side.” by the ICRC.
Since the beginning of the current war, the Red Cross has pumped millions of dollars into Gaza, along with supplies, infrastructure, and medical teams. Hamas, of course, has a long history of shamelessly stealing money and supplies that were intended for civilians, a fact that the ICRC knows, and, unsurprisingly, Hamas has continued to do so during this current war.
The Red Cross has both the leverage and the stature to gain access to the Israeli hostages and even to push for their release. They were even able to leverage the Taliban into granting access to hostages in the past. People listen to the Red Cross. But they also hear the Red Cross’ silence.
When the Red Cross speaks about the Israel-Hamas conflict without mentioning Hamas’ attacks, and its president meets with Hamas’ leader but does not advocate for Israeli hostages, the message is clear.
The Red Cross’ historical and current actions seem to suggest that it does not value Israeli lives as much as other people’s. It is time for the international community to ask the Red Cross why it looks out for all of those in need, except for Jews.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum and a former official in the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
The post The Red Cross Has Abandoned Israeli Hostages and Its Pretense of Neutrality first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Media Is Still Swallowing Hamas’ Lies About Israel
While Israel is winning its war to eliminate the existential threat posed by Hamas’ massive tunnel complex/fortress in Gaza, Israel is losing the propaganda battle against a pro-Palestinian narrative demonizing Israel’s conduct of the war. That narrative puts aside Hamas’ horrific crimes against humanity that triggered Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, and adopts an account that Israel is “indiscriminately killing” Gazans as part of a “genocidal” campaign.
Hamas displays emotional images of Gazans massed in crowded hospital wards, or combing ruins for lost loved ones, and then proclaims to the world that there have been more than 25,000 innocent victims of Israel’s invidious conduct.
To begin with, there is no way to verify any of those numbers, or to tell who among the actual numbers killed are innocent civilians, and who are associated with Hamas and other terror groups. (Remember the hospital bombing at the start of the war, where they claimed 500 casualties, but we later learned from US intelligence analysts that far fewer were killed, and the “attack” was the result of a misfired terrorist rocket).
Furthermore, the issue is not whether Gazans have experienced dreadful suffering. They clearly have. The issue is whom to blame.
Major media outlets have frequently adopted the portrayal of Israel’s conduct in the war as a wanton destruction of Gaza, and the purposeful targeting of civilians.
Unlike Hamas, however, Israel never intentionally targets civilians — nor does it aim for wanton destruction in Gaza.
Any fair assessment of Israel’s military behavior must account for Hamas’ decision to fight in civilian areas, and use civilians and civilian infrastructure as human shields. Hamas’ vast underground fortress is accessed through shafts in or near residential buildings and public structures. Hamas also stores weaponry in civilian structures, and launches rockets and mortars from populated areas.
Experts in urban warfare confirm that the IDF has taken considerable measures to avoid civilian casualties. John Spencer teaches urban warfare at West Point Military Academy. Spencer wrote in Newsweek last week that the IDF, “has implemented more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other military in history.” He marvels that the IDF has delayed scheduled assaults, furnished copious advance warnings, and provided designated civilian evacuation routes before attacks.
Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British infantry battalion commander with 30 years of experience, including rounds of urban combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kemp commends the IDF on its adherence to the laws of armed conflict — in its choice of munitions, proportionality in choosing targets according to strategic gain versus civilian risk, and advance warnings enabling civilians to evacuate. As to the leveling of civilian structures, Kemp points to the nature of Hamas’ current operations — fighters in civilian clothing moving on thoroughfares to collect weapons stashed in civilian buildings in order to carry out ambush attacks. The structures look abandoned, but may well be booby trapped or may house anti-armor weaponry.
Hamas regularly employs the stratagem of distorting and manipulating casualty figures to suit its narrative that Israel is maliciously and unjustifiably killing civilians. Hamas’ casualty counts are consistently inflated and do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. The intended implication is that only civilians have been targeted by the IDF. Mass media regularly buys into this Hamas stratagem by simply reciting Hamas’ asserted casualty figures and not mentioning when people killed are terrorists or affiliated with terror groups.
An article in the Feb. 12 New York Times by Patrick Kingsley and Hiba Yazbeck typifies the media’s willingness to slant reportage in favor of a pro-Hamas narrative. (“Israeli Raid in Rafiah Rescues 2 Hostages and Kills Dozens.”) The article was prompted by an IDF special forces raid into a Hamas stronghold, Rafah, in order to rescue two Israeli men, aged 60 and 70, who had been kidnapped on October 7 from their kibbutz and held captive for 125 days. The Times report devotes no attention to the incredible sophistication of the rescue operation — the intelligence that pinpointed the locus of captivity, the daring dispatch of a special forces unit to the heart of Hamas’ Rafah, and a coordinated execution that extracted the hostages from their heavily armed Hamas captors without unnecessarily harming civilians.
The Times article’s first sentence mentions a rescue raid, and then promptly shifts to an accusation that Israel “launched a wave of attacks that killed dozens of Palestinians…” Like Hamas in its casualty reports, the article makes no distinction between combatant and civilian deaths. There’s no mention of the fact that many of those Palestinian deaths were Hamas combatants killed as the IDF burst in to rescue the hostages, and as the IDF escaped through armed resistance in the city.
The Kingsley/Yazbeck story also glosses over the Hamas war crimes that necessitated the IDF raid. Two-thirds of the way through the article, it notes in passing that the two freed hostages had been held in captivity for over 120 days (but the article does not note that they had been violently wrenched from their kibbutz homes along with their spouses who were later ransomed or that other family members were murdered on October 7). In short, the focus on “dozens of Palestinians killed” in the rescue mission is a parroting of Hamas propaganda that Israel is engaged in malicious killing of innocent Gazan civilians.
While experts like Spencer and Kemp credit Israel with commendable adherence to the norms of warfare, there have been some ostensible IDF deviations from those norms. An IDF spokesman has acknowledged that at least on one occasion, an excessively large bomb was employed that caused unnecessary civilian casualties. In another incident, Israelis were shocked and disturbed when an IDF unit killed 3 bare-chested men advancing toward the unit while waving a white flag. (The victims turned out to be Israeli hostages who had escaped from their Hamas captors). Another report exists of an Israeli soldier shooting and killing a captive Hamas fighter following an interrogation — a clear war crime if confirmed. These possible crimes are being probed by the IDF military police and, if documented, hopefully will be punished. Hamas, by contrast, proudly flaunts its most glaring war crimes by celebrating the intentional massacre of civilians, and by demanding the return of terrorist murderers in exchange for the remaining civilian hostages.
There is no equivalence between the two sides; but the media will never tell you that story.
Norman L. Cantor is Professor of Law Emeritus at Rutgers University Law School where he taught for 35 years. He also served as visiting professor at Columbia, Seton Hall, Tel Aviv University, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published five books, scores of scholarly articles in law journals, and dozens of blog length commentaries in outlets like The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and The Algemeiner. His personal blog is seekingfairness.wordpress.com. He lives in Tel Aviv and in Hoboken, NJ.
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