Remembering Professor Robert Wistrich

The news of Professor Robert S. Wistrich’s sudden death was all the more difficult to absorb given that just last Thursday, those of us participating in the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism had the pleasure of hearing him speak – as eloquently and powerfully as ever. There can be no better account of that address than Professor Wistrich’s own – published in the Jerusalem Post as he requested, but not in time for him to see.

Many tributes have already been written in honour of Professor Wistrich’s life and work and as Ben Cohen observes:

“Robert’s death is an incalculable loss on many levels. At just the time that anti-Semitism has again become socially acceptable in Europe and elsewhere, we have been robbed of one of the few individuals whose voice on this topic underlined urgency, but not hysteria. Robert, moreover, was someone who intimately understood the historical provenance of today’s anti-Semitism, particularly in its insidious “anti-Zionist” guise.”

As readers may recall, Professor Wistrich gave the keynote address at CAMERA’s event examining the effects of UK media coverage of Israel on European antisemitism earlier this year.

May his memory be a blessing.

Related Articles:

In memoriam: Professor Robert S. Wistrich  UK Media Watch

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 2015

As noted previously, last week we attended the biennial Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem and participated in the working group on the issue of Antisemitism on the Internet and in the Media.GFCA logo

Once again the conference presented an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand from delegates from many countries around the world in both the panel discussions and informal conversations. As was to be expected, the attacks in Paris and in Copenhagen earlier this year were at the forefront of discussion.

Readers can view videos of the four panel sessions held on May 13th here and shorter videos of individual speakers can be found on Youtube. Of particular relevance to the working group in which BBC Watch took part was Panel 2 which included representatives from Google and Facebook who were presented with questions from the audience regarding their policies concerning the spread of hate speech and racism via social media.

Flotilla ahoy! A refresher on the background to another anti-Israel publicity stunt

As readers may be aware, flotilla season is apparently again upon us and on May 10th the self-styled ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’ announced that a trawler had set sail from Sweden.Marianne

The Times of Israel reports:

“The trawler Marianne of Gothenburg will be carrying a “limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment” for use in Gaza, according to a statement by the Ship to Gaza campaign. […]

Along the way it will pick up eight other crew members, according to Israel Radio. Two other vessels are expected to join the flotilla later on.”

One of the various vessels’ passengers will apparently be Moncef Marzouki who has collaborated in the past with Hamas-linked groups in Europe and their associated personalities involved in the organization of previous flotillas.

Moncef Marzouki (3rd from left front row) with Zaher Birawi (1st on left front row) and Dror Feiler (3rd from right front row) Tunis, 30 March 2015

Moncef Marzouki (3rd from left front row) with Zaher Birawi (1st on left front row) and Dror Feiler (3rd from right front row) Tunis, 30 March 2015

According to the Jerusalem Post, passengers on the ‘Marianne’ include:

“Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesperson of  Ship to Gaza; Henry Ascher, a professor of Public Health and pediatrician; Lennart Berggren, a filmmaker; Maria Svensson, spokesperson of the Feministiskt initiative; and Mikael Karlsson, chairperson of Ship to Gaza Sweden.”

Readers can refresh their memories regarding ‘peace activist’ Dror Feiler here and find archive background material on the organisers of previous such publicity stunts here.

The coordinator of the ‘International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza’ – which partners the ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’ (along with ‘Miles of Smiles’ and the IHH) – is Hamas-linked UK-based activist Zaher Birawi who was also involved in the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ in 2012. 

 

 

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 2015

Later this week BBC Watch will be attending in the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem.GFCA logo

“The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA) is the premier biennial gathering for assessing the state of Antisemitism globally, and formulating effective forms of societal and governmental response. The GFCA is an active coalition of public figures, political leaders, heads of civil society, clergy, journalists, diplomats, educators and concerned citizens dedicated to the advance of tolerance towards the other in public life and the defeat of Antisemitism and other forms of racial and ethnic hatred. The Forum serves as an important meeting place for exchange of knowledge and for formulating the global work plan for combating Antisemitism.

The 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism will focus on two main themes:

The Oldest Hatred in the Newest Vessels: Confronting Antisemitism and Hate Speech on the Internet and in Social Media 

The information highway has proven an unprecedented tool for accessibility to knowledge, and the advance of free expression and global interconnectedness; but it also presents unique challenges to human dignity – in the form of unfiltered cyberhate, both antisemitic and other forms of severe hate speech, delivered ubiquitously to every multimedia device. How can we increase the decency of the web without harming its essential freedom?

The Rise of Antisemtism in Europe’s Cities Today: Means of Response

The summer of 2014 saw an eruption of mass anti-Jewish protests and attacks in major European capitals not seen in decades. Many Jews today feel limited in their freedom to identify openly as Jews in their manner of dress or political expression. In parts of Europe, Jewish religious practice is under legislative attack, and the return of Jihadi fighters with EU citizenship marks a security crisis, for Jewish communities first and foremost.  Why is this happening today in Europe? Is there a structural threat to Jewish life? What steps can be taken by European leadership to defeat the new wave of Antisemitism in Europe?”

BBC Watch will be participating in the working group dealing with Antisemitism on the Internet and in the Media.

We look forward to bringing readers our impressions of the conference, as we did after the previous session in 2013.

The man who missed Israel’s Declaration of Independence

Our many readers with a keen interest in Israeli history will no doubt enjoy this recent Independence Day programme from the Voice of Israel.VoI interview Zvielli

“VOI’s Gil Hoffman is joined in-studio by Jerusalem Post archivist Alexander Zvielli, who has been working at the newspaper for 70 years. Zvielli recalls his experience on the night in February 1948, when the building of what was then called the “Palestine Post” was bombed by the British – and other stories from the period during which the state of Israel was born.”

Related Articles:

Letter to a BBC Jerusalem correspondent – from 1948

A long history of complaints of BBC distortion by omission

Yom HaZikaron

This evening the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism begins and Israel remembers and honours 23,320 casualties of war and terrorism.

Thirty five soldiers are commemorated at the memorial at Tel Saki.

SONY DSC

“At the battle of Tel Saki, one of the first of the 1973 Israeli Yom Kippur War, a handful of Israeli paratroopers and armored soldiers stood their ground, fighting off thousands of Syrian troops for three days. […]

Tel Saki is located on the Southern Golan Heights near the Syrian-Israeli border. On that small but strategically positioned hill was located the undersized military reconnaissance post. A small group of IDF soldiers from the 50th Airborne Battalion and the 7th and 188th armor brigades, fought against what we now is known to be an 11,000 infantry soldiers Syrian division, including 900 tanks and countless armored vehicles.”

Parts two and three of this film can be found here and here.

May their memories be blessed.  

Yom HaShoah

יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ה

In Tunisia:

“…almost 5,000 Jews, most of them from Tunis and from certain northern communities, were taken captive and incarcerated in 32 labor camps scattered throughout Tunisia. The biggest and most lethal of these were the camps in Bizerte and Mateur, where tens of Jewish prisoners died from disease, labor, punishment by the German guards and Allied bombings.”