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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bar Ilan University’

Bibi: ‘ISIS Would Devour Palestinian State, We Cannot Help Create That’

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Whether or not he was publicly forced into stating it, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now said what most focused Israelis and Israel-watchers have realized for quite some time: the creation of any Palestinian State now, as weak as it is and has been since its leadership began attempting to resemble a functioning state, would be immediately subsumed (or, if you will, “gobbled up”) by ISIS or any of the other Islamic extremist groups in the region.

For that reason alone, if not for the myriad others – such as its own leadership’s inclination towards and support for its own version of terrorism – it is impossible for any responsible leader in the region to consider the creation of a Palestinian State any time soon.

In the words of the Israeli prime minister regarding the calamitous instability in the region and its impact on whether there should be a Palestinian state anytime soon: “Therefore, there will not be any withdrawals or concessions. The matter is simply irrelevant.”

Whether Netanyahu’s hand was forced because of the pressure placed on him by the Religious Zionist party Bayit Yehudi which consistently states it will not hand over any territory to the Arabs, or because a right-wing member of his own Likud party got the ball rolling, the end result is the same.

The cat is back in the bag, the Two State “Solution” is now clearly only a solution for ending Israel, and enslaving even the Palestinian Arabs themselves. For the safety of all those living in the land south of Lebanon, west of Syria and Jordan and north of Egypt, the only way to prevent ISIS and its fellow barbarous murderers is for Israel to remain in control of all the borders.

The Israeli prime minister began his most recent iteration in his leadership role with a earth-shattering speech at Bar Ilan University. Netanyahu invoked the “Two State” mantra as if it were within reach.

In that 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan, Netanyahu said he would recognize a Palestinian State “if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state.” He said, if that were to happen, “we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.”

Even after the recent Gaza wars and bruising condemnations of Israeli self-defense by much of the international community, Netanyahu continued speaking, at least in public, of working with the Palestinian Arab leadership towards a result they claim (an idea that much of the international community was pushing very hard) they want: a Palestinian State.

Perhaps Netanyahu and his advisers believed that Israeli security is so strong it could even survive the birth of a tiny terror state of Palestine (Palistan?). But inviting ISIS into its own neural network? That would make the recent machete, hammer and automobile terrorism by local Palestinian Arab terrorists look like mere schoolyard spitting contests.

Netanyahu’s statement shutting the door on Palestinian statehood came on Sunday, March 8. It came in response to a question about a position taken by the Likud party’s answer to a small Israeli paper’s campaign question.

As Lahav Harkov reported in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “The article claimed that the Likud’s answer to a question as to its leader’s position on Palestinian statehood was: “The prime minister told the public that the Bar-Ilan speech [in which he advocated a demilitarized Palestinian state] is canceled.”

According to Harkov, a Likud spokesperson said party member MK Tzipi Hotovely provided the answer and it was her personal position. But regardless of whose language appeared in the campaign response, Netanyahu later made it clear he would not allow ISIS to fill the vacuum created by a weak Palestinian State.

Israeli Scientist Finds Omega-3 Reduces Smoking

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Want to stop smoking, for real, and you just can’t seem to manage it on your own but hate the thought of patches and “chemicals” ?

A new study conducted by an Israeli scientist  has found that Omega-3 reduces a smoker’s craving for nicotine, thereby making it easier to quit the unhealthy habit.

The study was headed by Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at University of Haifa’s school of criminology and the department of psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar Ilan University.

Subjects participating in the study were asked to take five capsules per day for 30 days of Omega-3 950 produced by Solgar. A second group, used as controls, received placebos. Neither group was asked to stop smoking.

The groups included 38 smokers ages 18 to 45 who somked at least 10 cigarettes per day during the past year, and an average of 14 cigarettes per day. The average subject had been smoking for at least 11 years.

Levels of nicotine craving and consumption were measured using a series of scales at the beginning of the study, after 30 days of treatment and after 60 days (30 days after stopping the Omega-3 capsules.)

“The substances and medications currently used to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with,” Shenkar observed.

“The findings of this study indicated that Omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” she added.

Among myriad other health problems, smoking also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain – especially that of Omega-3. When the body is deficient in Omega-3, the cellular structure of nerve cells is damaged, and it interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction, Shenkar explained.

These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapse of the addict and inability to stop smoking.

“In simpler terms, Omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette.

The findings of the new study show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken Omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. The group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

“Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in Omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress,” Shenkar emphasized. “Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, this connection between all these factors had not been studied until now.”

The finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking Omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking, Shenkar pointed out.

The New Israel Fund, Jewish Values And Atonement

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In its September newsletter, the New Israel Fund (NIF) urged Israelis to examine their behavior (“cheshbon nefesh”), declaring “We have been telling you for some time about the upsurge in hatred and incitement in Israel…”

But in Jewish tradition, the processes of introspection and atonement for sins of commission and omission begin at home, including for the NIF.

As the most powerful political and social framework in Israel outside of the government, NIF exerts major influence through its funding, providing millions of dollars every year to dozens of organizations.

The founding donors and officials sought to promote important social objectives in a Zionist framework. But over the years, the Zionist commitment became blurred, and money from pro-Israel donors was channeled to extreme anti-Israel organizations, including key supporters of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns.

NIF’s network also played a central role in the discredited Goldstone report, which falsely accused the Israeli military of systematic war crimes. In addition, while claiming to promote liberal, progressive Jewish values, a number of NIF-funded groups push highly intolerant and polarizing agendas, amplifying the impact of radical fringes in Israeli society, at the expense of the democratic consensus.

As a result, NIF is viewed with increasing suspicion by many Israelis and in a number of diaspora communities. In response, in September 2010, the NIF leadership belatedly adopted guidelines to prevent funding for groups that work “to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign self-determination within Israel.”

In some important cases, these guidelines have been implemented, and in 2011 the NIF ended funding for three NGOs – Mada al-Carmel, Al-Qaws, and Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) – that promote demonization of Israel.

Unfortunately, NIF failed to publicly acknowledge the reasons for ending support, or to explain how these extreme groups were funded in the first place. Indeed, NIF remains a highly non-transparent organization, without the checks and balances or democratic processes that are necessary to prevent abuses and highly damaging mistakes in judgment.

While belatedly cutting off those three grantees, NIF continued to fund groups involved in global demonization campaigns such as Adalah, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch and Yesh Din.

In 2011, NIF also began funding for three additional divisive NGOs, including +972 Magazine, a blog pushing a radical fringe agenda. A number of +972’s bloggers have invoked the immoral and false “apartheid” analogy, and in a February 2012 interview in The Nation, Noam Sheizaf, +972’s editor-in-chief, referred to Jerusalem as an “apartheid city.”

In May of this year, +972 published a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raping President Barack Obama and eating his limbs. And in September, Sheizaf used his twitter account to refer to critics as “the Jewish KKK” and “fascist” – reinforcing the image of the NIF network as exploiting a “progressive” and “liberal” façade for extreme polarization and hate speech.

In contrast to the actual behavior of the grantees, NIF has justified its funding for +972 as support for a “progressive view of domestic issues and Israel’s foreign relations” and of “broad public discussion and constituencies.” However, this English-only site is unknown to the “broad” Hebrew-speaking Israeli public. Rather, its targeting of an international audience with a message that demonizes Israel and attacks opponents (real and imagined) is entirely inconsistent with NIF’s stated aims and principles.

Another new grantee, Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF), also raises many concerns regarding NIF’s decision making. HRDF is administered by Lizi Sagie, who was forced to resign from B’Tselem in April 2010 after she referred to Israel’s Memorial Day as “a pornographic circus” on her personal blog. She then had a short stint as a co-director of ICAHD, a fringe Israeli NGO that supports a “one state” political formula – meaning the end of Jewish national sovereignty.

Michael Sfard is a key part of the HRDF operation, advising the board on “application of Aid Criteria when reviewing aid requests” and monitoring the “performance of attorneys receiving aid.” According to reports, Sfard is the lawyer for a group of defendants involved in a private libel suit and receiving funds through HRDF. These activities appear to contradict the NGO’s mandate, and create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In addition, NIF authorized $162,430 for Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement (SJSM) in 2011. This organization’s main activities revolve around confrontational protests in the Negev, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. In March 2012, a very crude and offensive poster was posted on the official Facebook page of SJSM, and then removed after harsh criticism from some of its members and women’s rights activists.

Bar Ilan Breaks Rank, Quitting High Court Petition to Kill Ariel University

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Monday night, Bar Ilan University president Professor Moshe Kaveh informed lawyers representing the committee of heads of Israeli universities that he is withdrawing Bar Ilan University from the petition to the Supreme Court to annul Ariel University’s accreditation, Walla reported.

The Committee responded that it was sorry that Bar Ilan gave in to political pressure.

The petition was submitted after all the university directors, including Professor Kaveh, who met at the beginning of the month and agreed to pursue it. But, according to an inside source, Bar Ilan’s directors have been under pressure by right wing political figures as well as supporters of the university to retract their name from the petition.

The committee of heads of Israeli universities said it was “very sorry that political pressure caused Bar Ilan University to remove its name from the petition which had already been approved by the university’s president and rector. We are sure that the defense minister will wait for the Supreme Court decision on the matter and will not give in to coalition pressures.”

The universities are planning to continue to advance the petition.

“After it became clear that the university heads were required to sign on a separate power of attorney for each university to submit the petition, Bar Ilan’s president Professor Kaveh announced that he is opposed to it and will not sign the power of attorney for two reasons: Bar Ilan University helped to establish the institution in Ariel and provided it with academic sponsorship for many years; and Bar Ilan signed an academic cooperation agreement with the institution for joint guidance/training of Ph.D. candidates at Ariel university.

A Salute To Migron

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

I do not like to give advice to people in times of distress. Every time a settlement facing destruction begins to debate whether to take the “offer” (in other words, the extortion) to leave or to cling to its principles and its place, I adopt our Sages’ advice to not judge others until I am in their place.

These days it is easy to dish out militant advice to the residents of Migron, but they – not I – will be paying the price. So I remained silent. But when I saw their ad campaign last weekend, determined ads that emphasized that they have no intention of accepting the “cut-and-paste” compromise being proposed to them, I stood at attention and saluted these heroes from the bottom of my heart.

I read in the newspaper about all the pressure being applied on them from within. I read all the articles that called upon them to accept the “compromise.”

So, residents of Migron, because you have already made your decision and publicized it, I am writing about why you are so right.

I will begin from the bitter end. Your struggle is not for your home in Migron or in Givat Asaf. If you do not accept the compromise, and if Prime Minister Netanyahu, God forbid, acquires the hegemony that he wants in the upcoming Likud primaries, and if the Likud MKs will no longer be able to stop him, there is definitely a chance that the legislation to legalize the outposts will not pass and your homes may be destroyed, God forbid.

But you are not fighting for your homes; you are fighting for all the settlements. You are fighting for my home in Karnei Shomron and for the homes of all the people in the settlements who are now trying to convince you to evacuate. They do not understand that they are next in line.

Israel is withdrawing into the Green Line. That is the strategic picture. They have already built the wall, the border, and the international border crossings that we pass every day. The prime minister has already declared his endorsement of two states, and he insists on keeping the settlements’ favorite guy, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in a position of power. When the wind is at your back, you can set out your sails and let it take you in the right direction. But when the wind is blowing against you, you have to crouch down and keep a firm hold on the ground.

When Ehud Olmert replaced Ariel Sharon as prime minister, he understood that expulsions erase the indiscretions of the past and bring the unrestrained support of the media and justice system. Olmert decided to outdo Sharon and dreamed up the Convergence plan that schemed to do to Ofra what the Disengagement did to Neve Dekalim.

And what saved Ofra? Amona.

After the bloody pictures from Amona, Olmert’s popularity took a nosedive and he eventually lost the premiership.

Netanyahu cannot allow those pictures to be played out again. If he will clearly understand that you are not going to willingly go, he will do all that he can to make sure that the legislation legalizing the outposts is passed.

There is no reason to wait for destruction. Until January 31, the day that the primaries for head of the Likud will be held, there is a political way to make Netanyahu run after you and authorize the new law. We need to enlist all of our energies, just like we did in the referendum on Gush Katif, to get people to vote for the candidate running against Netanyahu for the party chairmanship.

Netanyahu wants to attain complete supremacy over the Likud, a control that will allow him to claim that he got an open check from the party members to carry out his plans for the future. (He spelled out those plans in his speeches at Bar-Ilan University and the U.S. Congress.) That is why every percentage point is so critical to him. That is why these elections are the only effective political weapon available for the settlements. If there were no primaries now in the Likud, Netanyahu would not have prevented Barak from destroying Ramat Gilad.

We must firmly cling to our land, while uniting to empower the faith-based force in the Likud. This is what must be done now to save Migron, and to ensure the continued growth of the settlements.

Bar Ilan University Makes Key Stop In South Florida

Monday, December 5th, 2011

The founder and director of a new gap year program at Bar Ilan University has made South Florida a key stop on a tour of North America promoting the new program that is intended to buck the trend in falling gap year numbers.

Rabbi Tully Bryks visited high school students across South Florida on November 17 to 20, making stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and North Miami Beach as part of a tour of North America that will take him to more than 20 cities.

Bar Ilan Campus

Rabbi Bryks was formerly regional director for NCSY in South Florida for 15 years, leaving the post in 2008 to open ‘Israel XP’ at Bar Ilan University’s Ramat Gan campus near Tel Aviv.

“The new program Israel XP is designed to appeal specifically to students looking for more of a balanced year in Israel, where students can embrace Jewish studies in a relaxed campus setting,” Rabbi Bryks explains. There are regular tours around the country as well as professional internship options accessing different sectors of society. To address financial and career pressures, students can also earn around a year’s worth of academic credits that can be transferred to most universities across North America.

“An inspiring year in Israel strengthens Jewish values ahead of college years and helps unlock a young person’s potential. We don’t want any Jewish students to have to miss out. The idea for this program was really born in South Florida and I’m excited to promote it to students in the area.”

For more information on Rabbi Bryks’s speaking dates or the Israel XP program, e-mail rabbibryks@israelxp.com or visit www.israelxp.com.

Bar Ilan’s Blood-Libel Scandal

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

        By now just about everyone in the Jewish world has heard about the blood libel affair that has emerged from Bar Ilan University in Israel. It involves a professor of history there, Ariel Toaff, who claims that Jews used gentile blood for ritual purposes in Italy in the Middle Ages.
 
         Last week, The Jewish Press ran a letter by Prof. Toaff in which he wrote inter alia: “In light of the false and distorted interpretation given to my recently published book, I have requested the Italian publishing house El Molino to immediately stop further distribution of the book in order that I may re-edit those passages which comprised the basis of the distortions and falsehoods that have been published in the media. I was astounded by the sheer force of these misrepresentations, which turned what is a research book into a vehicle used to harm Judaism and the Jewish people and, God forbid, as a justification for blood libel.”
 
         He added that he apologizes to those who have been offended by his “research” and offered to donate royalties from this book to the Anti-Defamation League.
 
         All very nice, except that Toaff has not really repudiated any of his false claims. The real scandal in all of this has to do with academic fraud, pseudo-scholarship and lies. Toaff’s posturing notwithstanding, the problem is not that the media have “distorted” Toaff’s claims, but rather that Toaff made fraudulent claims in the first place, based largely on “confessions” made by Jews being tortured in Inquisition courts.
 
         It was Toaff who assigned the decidedly undistorted title to the book that states everything needed to know about it: Pasque di Sangue, or Passover of Blood. His promise to send any royalties to the ADL that he may or may not receive is a worthless gesture.
 
         To put this matter into perspective, let me emphasize that Toaff would not be the first academic in Israel to produces anti-Jewish materials that are picked up and utilized by anti-Semites. Israel has scores, if not hundreds, of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel radical faculty members. Many of these are documented at www.israel-academia-monitor.com. What is unusual in the Toaff affair is that it comes out of Bar Ilan University, a school established mainly to serve Orthodox Jewish student and that is now refusing to take disciplinary action against a professor publishing fraudulent material about Jews.
 
         There are numerous precedents from all over the democratic world of universities firing tenured professors for fraud and for open promotion of lunatic, obviously false “theories.” Several Holocaust deniers have been fired from tenured jobs, with France’s Robert Faurrison perhaps the most notorious. (Of course, there are open Holocaust deniers who have been allowed to retain academic jobs.)
 
         Professors promoting offensive ideas or exhibiting behavior offensive to their employers have been fired in the U.S. Professors have been stripped of tenure for the mere expression of crackpot ideas in American universities. The University of Colorado’s Ward Churchill, who justified the 9/11 attacks and called the victims inside the WTC towers “Little Eichmanns” was removed from a number of campus positions and may well be fired altogether.
 
         Similarly, academics caught committing explicit fraud have been fired and dismissed from academic positions. Luk van Parijs was fired from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for fraud, as were a professor in the UK and an economics professor in Northern Kentucky. Even people willing to defend the most offensive campus opinions in the name of “academic freedom” generally agree that a professor should be fired if he commits fraud. Professors in Western countries who have endorsed or collaborated with terrorism have also been fired.
 
         Within Israel, there have been some well-known cases of blatant fraud in research by Israeli academics. The most famous is the notorious Tantura story pushed by Dr. Ilan Pappe and his MA student Teddy Katz. Katz fabricated a massacre of Arabs in the town of Tantura south of Haifa, supposedly perpetrated by the Palmach Jewish militia in 1948.
 
         Not a scrap of evidence of any such massacre exists. Katz was sued for libel by the veterans association of the Palmach unit in question. In court and under counsel from his attorney, Katz confessed that he had fabricated the massacre, but later renounced his own confession.
 
         Pappe, for his part, continues to tout the non-existent massacre in anti-Israel propaganda outlets all over the world.
 
         There is some precedent for firing tenured faculty in Israel when fraud has been committed. An associate professor of anthropology was fired by the Hebrew University when it was discovered that she’d published fraudulent research. A half-hearted but unsuccessful attempt was even made within the University of Haifa, where Ilan Pappe is employed, to get Pappe stripped of his tenure and fired.
 
         All of which brings us back to the case of Toaff. Had these merely been the charlatan claims of an Islamist extremist or some other garden variety anti-Semite, no one would have paid them any attention. But as every neo-Nazi website on the planet has already publicized with jubilation, here we have an Italian-Israeli “scholar” who has published a book that claims Jews in the Middle Ages engaged in ritual murder and used Christian blood for religious rites.
 
         True, Toaff says the Jews in question were heterodox sectarians from outside the established Jewish community, but that is not exactly a serious reason for treating Toaff with any leniency.
 
         Toaff’s book is a complete fraud, at least the sections in it about blood rituals (and they raise serious doubts about all the rest of Toaff’s “research”). Of course, no Jew has ever used blood, human or animal, for ritual purposes, other than animal sacrifices in the Temple of Solomon. Nevertheless Toaff writes: “Over many dozens of pages I proved the centrality of blood on Passover. Based on many sermons, I concluded that blood was used, especially by Ashkenazi Jews, and that there was a belief in the special curative powers of children’s blood. It turns out that among the remedies of Ashkenazi Jews were powders made of blood.”
 
         Toaff claims that “a black market flourished on both sides of the Alps, with Jewish merchants selling human blood, complete with rabbinic certification of the product – kosher blood.” Here is the son of a rabbi who apparently does not know that blood of any sort can never be kosher.
 
         Toaff’s fraud has been universally denounced by Jews and Christians. Even Israeli secularists were outraged. Writing in Yediot Aharonot, Sever Plocker (a leftist) wrote: “Professor Toaff’s book has nothing whatsoever to do with academic freedom. The man raised an unfounded argument, which was rejected outright by the world’s finest historians and experts on the period the book refers to. The blood libel against the Jews has remained an evil plot.
 
         Meanwhile, Bar Ilan University officials, facing a worldwide explosion of rage, have politely distanced themselves from Toaff. But they have not taken any serious action against him, have not stripped him of his tenure for fraud nor fired him, and in fact have been going out of their way to circle the wagons and defend Toaff’s “academic freedom.” Suddenly lies and fraud are protected academic scholarship at Bar Ilan.
 
         As noted, Toaff has offered to pull the book off the shelves for a little while in order to insert some “clarifications.” The problem is not deficient clarity but rather all-too-clear anti-Semitic lies. His duplicitous “apology” aside, Toaff is sticking to his guns about his main claims, and told the Jerusalem Post he would not repudiate them even if it means “he gets crucified” (his words). Accusing Jews of being behind crucifixion is of course entirely consistent with his brand of scholarship.
 
         Toaff’s shenanigans illustrate perfectly why Israeli universities are sinking into a quagmire of mediocrity and how the unwillingness to act against charlatans and fraud is destroying Israeli academia.
 

         Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at www.stevenplaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/bar-ilans-blood-libel-scandal/2007/02/28/

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