MidEast

Week in Review: Jews Not Welcome at LGBT March; Israel’s Cybersecurity Stock Rises

Jews Not Welcome at LGBT March

Three women who attended Saturday’s Chicago Dyke March were expelled for displaying rainbow LGBT flags embossed with Jewish stars.

The blatant anti-Semitic discrimination prompted harsh criticism from both the Anti-Defamation League and A Wider Bridge, an organization committed to improving ties between the LGBT communities in the United States and Israel.

Rather than reconsider its stance in the face of widespread condemnation, the Chicago Dyke March Collective not only refused to apologize but actually defended its discriminatory decision. In an official statement released on Tuesday, the group claimed that Zionism, the movement for Jewish national self-determination, “is an inherently white-supremacist ideology.”

The statement also included screenshots of a chat between one of the march’s organizers and Laurel Grauer, one of the women who were targeted at the event. Grauer, an official at A Wider Bridge, had asked whether she would be allowed to march with an LGBT flag decorated with a Star of David as she had in previous years, and was assured that she would not face any problems.

The incident prompted some critics to acknowledge the disturbing inroads anti-Israel activists have made within the LGBT rights movement. “The effort has shifted from inserting anti-Israel activism into the gay rights movement to outright discriminating against Jews,” Jamie Kirchik observed in Tablet Magazine.

He noted that despite their willingness to censor a Jewish symbol, “organizers were perfectly content to let participants wave the flag of Palestine, a political entity where LGBT people are routinely harassed and murdered.”

Bari Weiss of The New York Times also blasted the overt anti-Semitism displayed by Chicago Dyke March Collective, noting “the organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression — a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.”

The incident is a reminder “that anti-Semitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the alt-right,” she added.

Ian Sugar, chief of staff at The Israel Project (TIP), which publishes The Tower, decried on Friday the forced exclusion of Jews from the Chicago march. One of the highlights of Pride celebrations is the “diversity of the people who just show up: cis people and trans people, straight allies, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, conservatives, liberals, people of color and whites, and everyone in between,” he observed.

In contrast to this, march organizers “acted so that any openly Jewish person does not have a place under the rainbow flag unless they denounce Israel,” Sugar wrote. “While one can and should speak out against Israeli government policies when their conscience demands it, this act clearly not only crossed, but also demolished any line Israel’s enemies claim exists between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

Beinart Attacks The Israel Project

Peter Beinart, formerly editor of The New Republic and currently a contributing editor at The Forward and The Atlantic, criticized TIP this week for calling attention to an anti-Israel event hosted on Capitol Hill under the auspices of Rep. Mark Pocan (D – Wis.) earlier in June.

Beinart oddly claimed that TIP sought to stifle a video of the event, when TIP had specifically called attention to the clip and produced a condensed version to highlight the outrageous nature of the event. Unfortunately, Beinart also whitewashed the nature of the event, which was sponsored by the Defense for Children International — Palestine and the American Friends Service Committee. Both groups support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as did all five speakers featured in the event, either personally or through their organizations. Founders and leaders of the campaign are explicit in their calls for the elimination of the Jewish state.

Josh Block, CEO and president of TIP, noted in response that while Beinart emphasized the importance of criticizing Israel, the speakers were “not critics of Israel, but rather opponents of its existence.” Block pointed out that by defending an event where all the speakers support Israel’s destruction, Beinart contradicted his self-professed belief that “it’s important to have one country on earth that assumes a special obligation to protect Jewish life.”

Three audience members who attended the event on behalf of TIP observed on Tuesday that the while the panel was quick to lambaste Israel, its members refused to assign any responsibility to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for limiting the opportunities available to Palestinian children and endangering their lives.

Israel’s Cybersecurity Stock Rises

Israel’s cybersecurity prowess was highlighted this week as Tel Aviv University held its seventh annual International Cybersecurity Conference.

One of the notable speakers at the conference was Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, who lauded Israel’s success in fighting off cyberattacks.

As the conference proceeded, a major global cyberattack targeted computers in Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., and much of Europe. A number of Israeli hospitals were also hit overnight Wednesday, but the National Cyber Authority said that the attacks were countered “immediately” and that there was no reported damage.

The conference was held in the wake of two major initiatives by multinational corporations with Israeli cybersecurity firms last week.

Chip-making giant Intel came to an agreement with Team8, an Israeli incubator, to jointly seek out new technologies that can fend off increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

Meanwhile, Japanese giant Softbank made a $100 million investment in Israel’s Cybereason, which fights off hackers in real-time. The Israeli-founded firm has international offices in Boston, London, and Tel Aviv.

Perhaps the best advertisement for Israel’s cybersecurity expertise came this week when Cybereason researcher Amit Serper discovered a “vaccine” to fight off the ransomware attack that recently targeted Windows-based computers across the world. Serper, who was in Israel this week to visit family and attend the cybersecurity conference, wrote code that would force the NotPetya virus to stop its attack before it did damage.

Serper’s achievement was featured on CNN and other major news outlets.

Feature: Assad Still Must Go

At some point in the future, for the good of the Middle East and the wider world, “Assad has to go,” Michael Totten argued in the June-July 2017 issue of The Tower Magazine.

Totten observed that while the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein led many Americans to be concerned about “how dangerous intervention can be,” Syria served as a lesson “that non-intervention can be equally perilous.”

There are both humanitarian and geopolitical grounds for removing Assad from power, Totten wrote. The former is relatively straightforward. Since Assad’s forces first cracked down on peaceful protesters in 2011, hundreds of thousands Syrians have been killed and millions more displaced internally and externally. This “triggered the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” Totten observed. “Replacing the Assad regime with just about anything but a radical Islamist terrorist state will make the U.S., Europe, the greater Middle East, and even most of the world safer places than they are now,” he added.

One of cruelest ironies of the situation is that although the Iraq War made Americans squeamish about intervention, Totten showed that Assad was actually a major player in ensuring that “regime-change followed by nation-building in Iraq failed spectacularly.” While Washington led a largely successful effort to destroy al-Qaeda in Iraq, when the Syrian civil war started, Assad released jailed members of al-Qaeda and gave them the opportunity to form what would become ISIS. Totten explained:

When the non-violent protest movement against Assad began in 2011, inspired by the overthrow of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, his security forces opened fire with live ammunition and ludicrously claimed they were waging a war against terrorism. The entire world knew they were lying, but Assad had to say something. … The only thing he could do that might save him, he wagered, was convince the West that he really was fighting a war against terrorism, that beyond him was the abyss. The only problem was that he was not fighting terrorism. So he created a terrorist menace to fight.

Totten asserted that while destroying ISIS in Syria and Iraq should remain the top priority for the U.S., it is important to avoid partnering with Assad.

Despite seeming troubled that the Trump administration hasn’t put forward a plan for ridding Syria of Assad, Totten acknowledged that “a muddled policy vis-à-vis Assad is perhaps appropriate. We couldn’t oust him today anyway if we weren’t willing to risk a military confrontation with Russia, and even if the Russians were not in the way, virtually no one — myself included — is interested in another Iraq-style invasion.

Eventually, however, one way or another, Assad has to go.”

This Week’s Top Posts

• U.S. Aircraft Carrier to Visit Israel for First Time in 17 Years
• “We Are Coming”: Iran, Hezbollah Erect Flags, Signs on Israel’s Border With Lebanon
• BBC Blasted for Claiming the Holocaust is “Sensitive” for Muslims Because of Israel

Three Big Questions

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly faced significant pressure from the White House to stop paying salaries to terrorists and their families. Does top PA negotiator Saeb Erekat believe that he helps the PA’s case by simply denying that Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are terrorist groups?

Earlier this week, organizers of Chicago’s Dyke March wrote that their event was “explicitly anti-Zionist.” Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted this week, ‘Today the fight against the Zionist regime is wajib (obligatory) and necessary for Muslims.” Do the march organizers note the irony in how closely their views on Israel align with Khamenei’s, and how far they diverge on LGBT rights?

In 2015, Lebanese politician Ahmad el-Assaad predicted that the nuclear deal with Iran would lead Hezbollah to tighten its grip on Beirut by freeing up billions of frozen funds. That year, then Treasury Secretary Jack Lew predicted that Iran would use most of the money to build up infrastructure and pay down debts. Which prediction appears to have been more accurate?

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