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Terrorists Aren’t Journalists

Israeli soldiers fire mortar shells, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, near Israel’s border with Gaza in southern Israel, Jan. 3, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

The headlines blare: More than 70 journalists have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war. But those headlines are misleading, and used to demonize Israel.

As of January 5, 2024, according to information published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 of those 70 Palestinians who died were affiliated with Hamas media outlets, two were affiliated with Hezbollah, and one with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All of these groups are designated terrorist entities by the United States. While these individuals were likely not combatants, they would, nevertheless, seem to be supporting nefarious propagandist activity, not engaging in legitimate journalism.

Facts matter, and saying that 70 journalists are dead, without specifying that so many are affiliated with terror groups, or that others are Israeli journalists, completely distorts the story.

For example, the Committee to Protect Journalists casualty list includes more than 10 people affiliated with Al-Aqsa TV. In March of 2010, under US President Barack Obama, Al-Aqsa TV was designated “a television station financed and controlled by Hamas.” According to the US government, it is “a primary Hamas media outlet and airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”

The Treasury Department at the time further stated that it “will not distinguish between a business financed and controlled by a terrorist group, such as Al-Aqsa Television, and the terrorist group itself.”

The conflated deaths of Hamas propagandists with journalists is an attempt to assail Israel. The bias can be seen in a November 9 public letter signed by hundreds of editorialists and reporters, demanding “an explicit commitment from Israel to end the violence against journalists and other civilians.”

This letter jettisons any pretense of objectively, and reveals a clear anti-Israel antipathy, accusing the Jewish state of genocide, and the intentional targeting of journalists.

We have not seen any evidence that Israel is intentionally targeting journalists” said US Department of State Spokesperson Mathew Miller on December 18; but the November 9 letter seemed to have attracted more attention than either his denial or the absence of factual support for the accusation.

Moreover, the letter from the press community rejects the casus belli for the Gaza invasion — the terrorist mutilation and massacre committed against civilians by Hamas on October 7. Hamas’ suicidal stranglehold of Gaza civilians and holding of Israeli hostages is also ignored.

Given this obvious tendentiousness, it is easy to see why reporters consider Hamas propagandists as benign or innocent victims in the Gaza war.

By contrast, in the United States war against Al-Qaeda, there was no mainstream, editorial sentiment that Adam Gadahn, the American who traveled to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region in order to serve Osama bin Laden, was an innocent, unintended fatality, when killed by a US drone attack.

Gadahn was labeled, even by the mainstream press, as a terrorist and a “Propagandist for Al Qaeda Who Sold Terror in English.” As a spokesperson for an infamous terror group, Gadahn was seemingly considered an appropriate target for elimination. His killing at the time was largely unquestioned by the United States press corp.

To be clear, there are legitimate journalists, of multiple nationalities and partisan interests, who have been unintentionally killed in Israel’s war of defense in Gaza. These deaths are all tragic. Journalism is a noble endeavor that serves the common good. Naturally, even anti-Western partisan journalists should be protected in battle, and their unintentional deaths mourned.

But those on the payroll of organizations designed to promote and defend the actions of terrorists should not be considered in the same class as journalists. They do not objectively or even subjectively report news. Their only evil, criminal purpose is to abet the machinery of mass murder and terror. To mourn the deaths of these terror propagandists is another example of media hypocrisy and glaring bias.

Barry Ziman is a novelist and government relations professional living in Virginia.

The post Terrorists Aren’t Journalists first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Major Israeli Tech Entrepreneur Gil Shwed Retires

Gil Shwed, former Chief Executive of Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies, speaks during the annual Cyberweek conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel, June 20, 2016

Gil Shwed, one of Israel’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, announced his retirement on Tuesday, bringing an end to his 30-year tenure as CEO of Check Point, an Israeli software firm.

“This year Check Point celebrated 30 years since its establishment, in which we managed to generate growth and reached a peak in almost every parameter. I feel that this is the right time for me to focus on Check Point’s next leap,” Shwed, 56, said. “We are now looking for a replacement for the position of CEO. It’s a process that will take time and even when it ends I will remain involved. I want to focus less on the daily work, and more on the future of the company.”

Check Point was founded in 1993 by Shwed, Shlomo Kramer, and Marius Nacht. Shwed and Kramer were friends from their time together in Israel’s elite cyber unit 8200.

The company provides AI-powered advanced software and hardware for cyber security to more than 100,000 customers globally, bringing in more than $2 billion per year in revenue.

Headquartered in Tel Aviv and publicly traded on the NASDAQ, Check Point has a market cap of more than $19 billion dollars, making it Israel’s second most valuable company, $2 billion less than automobile giant Mobileye Eye. Shwed’s role as CEO has allowed him to amass a fortune of $4.4 billion due to his 20% share ownership in the company.

Shwed is also a recipient of the Israel Prize, an annual award given to Israelis who have shown a high level of excellence in their specific fields. Shwed was given the first award in the technology field when it was introduced in 2018.

The post Major Israeli Tech Entrepreneur Gil Shwed Retires first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israel’s Leading Hotel Chain Expands Internationally

A view of Athens, Greece. Photo: Jan M via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s leading hotel chain Isrotel has announced the opening of their first hotel outside of the country.

The brand, under a new division called ALUMA, meaning “ray of light” in Hebrew, will open its Skylark Hotel in Athens, Greece next month.

“We succeeded in doing the best in Israel, creating a culture that people love, so if you know Isrotel you will want to visit,” Benny Levy, the VP of sales and marketing at Isrotel, told The Algemeiner.

Levy says just because they are expanding outside of the Jewish state, “We aren’t stopping opening in Israel … Outside of Israel the potential is endless, it is a significant opportunity.”

Lior Raviv, CEO of Isrotel, added, “ALUMA is an international chain of hotels that will benefit from Isrotel’s longstanding experience and uncompromising standards of excellence, offering global travelers a wide range of city hotels and leisure resorts to choose from, and providing unique hospitality experiences. As a sister company of Isrotel, ALUMA is guided by our approach to hospitality as a way of life.”

They said most of the workers will be Israelis, ensuring the culture of the brand remains. “Israeli tourists, and especially loyal guests of Isrotel, who return to us time and again due to our hospitality experience and high standard of service, will find those same qualities and sense of a ‘home away from home’ at ALUMA, backed by the international standards of perfection and excellence,” added Raviv.

According to Isrotel, the Skylark hotel will be followed by the Anise Hotel, also in Athens, a month later. An additional hotel in Athens and one in Thessaloniki will open by the end of 2024. They said the total investment in the project is 70 million euros, with plans to expand elsewhere in Europe in the future.

Isrotel has 23 hotels across Israel, including eight in the resort town of Eilat in the south of Israel. Their international move comes as Israel’s National Planning and Construction Council announced this week the changes to the city’s height limitations for hotels, allowing up to 20 floors from the previously permitted eight floors.

Tourism Minister Haim Katz praised the move, saying, “We are bringing good news to Eilat. Hundreds and even thousands of rooms will be added in the city. The move will encourage competition, remove excess bureaucracy for a hotel that wants to renew itself, and allow entrepreneurs who have not yet built to increase supply.”

The post Israel’s Leading Hotel Chain Expands Internationally first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Investment Firm Announces Recommendations for Preventing Corporate Anti-Israel Bias

Illustrative Anti-Israel event. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Morningstar, Inc., a Chicago based investment firm managing over $250 billion in assets, has issued a report including several recommendations for reducing anti-Israel bias in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings its Sustainalytics subsidiary assigns to corporations.

For several years, Sustainalytics gave poor ESG ratings to Israel affiliated companies, a practice that led Jewish civil rights groups and lawmakers to suspect that the company was violating state laws against engaging in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to isolate and weaken the Jewish state.

The firm denied the allegations, but a review of the its ratings by JLens, a leading Jewish investor network, found that Sustainalytics created “BDS blacklists” and used in its internal reports “politicized anti-Israel language” to describe Israel. JLens’ work, which was the first to raise alarms about the issue, led to Morningstar’s cracking down on the practices and adopting policies for ensuring that Sustainalytics does not become a BDS collaborator.

Released on Jan. 31, Morningstar’s new report builds on that commitment, outlining several policy changes, including: eliminating a designation which identified companies as being involved in “occupied territories/disputed region,” quashing reliance on disinformative media reports aimed at distorting a company’s ESG rating, and appointing legal experts to examine matters relevant to international human rights law.

“We welcome Morningstar’s commitment to eliminate anti-Israel bias in Sustainalytics research products,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on Wednesday. “We look forward to ongoing engagement with Morningstar to ensure the expert recommendations are fully and effectively implemented.”

The ADL took a leading role in combating anti-Israel bias in ESG ratings, incorporating JLens in Nov. 2022. ADL noted at the time that BDS activists target firms managing ESG rated funds, which attracted over $500 billion in investments in 2021, a 55% increase from the previous year, according to JP Morgan. During 2022’s proxy season, a time when publicly traded companies hold annual meetings to assess performance and weigh suggestions from shareholders, Israel was named in eight of 20 resolutions targeting foreign governments, “making the country only second to China.”

Morningstar’s recommendations will shield ESG from political bias and increase its reliability, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law founder and chairman Kenneth L. Marcus explained in a statement applauding the report.

“Anti-Israel external forces are doing everything they can to infiltrate campuses, boardrooms, the [United Nations]., sports leagues, and the securities industry,” he said. “We commend Morningstar for engaging with us, examining their ESG product, and committing to make the changes necessary to ensure that their rating system is apolitical, objective, and honest. We believe that implementing the experts’ report is critical to achieving this goal.”

Ari Hoffnung, managing director of JLens, added that “investor are entitled to research that is both objective and devoid of any anti-Israel bias.”

Last July, Morningstar removed 109 negative “controversy ratings” that Sustainalytics subsidiary had given to companies operating in Israel. The firm has also stopped referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ or ‘occupied territory” and committed to educating its employees about antisemitism and amassing information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from “independent, recognized experts.”

Morningstar, however, has repeatedly denied that it ever supported BDS. In June 2022, Morningstar CEO Kunal Kapoor issued a statement arguing that an external review of Sustainalytics found no evidence that it “encouraged divestment from Israel” but acknowledged that at least one of its departments singled out businesses “linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “sometimes used inflammatory language and failed to provide sourcing attribution clearly and consistently.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Investment Firm Announces Recommendations for Preventing Corporate Anti-Israel Bias first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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