Meir Ettinger is much more than the latest Jewish “terrorist” and prime target of the Israeli authorities. He is more than just the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane. He is a humble Torah scholar in his own right, and at just 23 years old, has been the unofficial leader of the hilltop youth for several years now. Besides his activism on behalf of Jewish settlement, his sharp pen cuts to the core of the conflictbetween a Jewish state and what he sees as a Hellenist, secular one.

When someone is termed a “Jewish terrorist”, that should ring a bell in our minds.  Yair Stern and David Raziel, leaders of the legendary Jewish undergrounds in Israel’s pre-state days, were also called hooligans and terrorists by the same Jewish establishment. When Jewish blood was being spilled by Arabs in the 20’s and 30’s, they bombed Arab marketplaces, killing Arabs, and thereby breaking the “havlaga” (self-restraint) policy of the Jewish leadership when Israel was under British rule.

Today, they are considered Jewish heroes.  It is only through the reflection of history where one can gauge the true perspective of the daily events that occur. Ben Hecht once said: “Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.”  History will judge these young men, and not the hysterical headlines of cheap tabloids or sound bytes of cheap politicians.

People like Meir Ettinger have come to the conclusion that if we continue down the same path we have been heading, there is no future for the state of Israel. They feel that if we want a true Jewish state, it’s just not happening through the Knesset. Can you imagine a Knesset vote to build the Beit HaMikdash, to vanquish the Arab enemy, to establish Jewish education in all the schools? Let’s face it, they say: this country is going in the opposite direction, and it doesn’t matter how many MK”s are wearing yarmulkes. It’s pretty obvious that the Knesset is not the mechanism that will bring the blessed change they yearn for.

And here, it’s proper to mention Meir’s grandfather, Rabbi Meir Kahane. He tried, through the existing mechanism, to become a leader of Israel through democratic means, and might have succeeded if he weren’t banned from running in the elections of 1988. Let us never forget how hundreds of thousands of Israelis were disenfranchised by that shocking Knesset vote which was upheld by the Supreme Court – for it exposed the bluff of Israeli democracy and also represented the last chance of trying to effect change in this country through the vehicle of the Knesset to those who supported him.

And so, what are we supposed to do? Continue to vote every few years in this sham of “right wing” vs “left wing” election as the country – in our view – just deteriorates? Can you blame idealistic Jewish youth, who take Judaism seriously (unlike many of their elders), and sincerely believe it is our duty to build an authentic Jewish state (with all the ramifications of what that means) for wanting to rebel? This, of course, does not excuse taking the law into their own hands, or committing acts of violence, but that has not yet been shown to be attributable to them.

Still, being called “Jewish terrorists” puts these youths in pretty good company. It’s true that in the days of David Raziel and Yair Stern (Irgun and Lechi) we were under the British mandate. But there was also the Jewish establishment (the “yishuv”) back then, which sided with the British and created the policy of “havlaga”.

Yes, we have the IDF today, thank G-d, but what can one do when their hands are tied and Jewish blood is still cheap?

I would suggest, that instead of only expressing shock and dismay over Meir Ettinger, instead of the recent violence, we start to read what he has to say. He may be right.

By Lenny Goldberg

It was a “two-fer” on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday.

Israel Police arrested a Jewish boy for wearing his tzitzit (tallit katan) as commanded in the Torah, order and a Jewish man for singing into the ear of a Jewish groom ahead of his nuptials a few hours later.

No one arrested anyone for subsequenly attacking an Israeli police officer, who suffered an injured leg.

Members of the Islamic Waqf on the Temple Mount complained to the Israeli police about the Jewish boy who was walking on the Temple Mount wearing his Tzitzit, according to other Jewish visitors on the Jewish holy site.

The Muslim security officers complained that the boy’s Tzitzit were a “Jewish symbol” — in violation of the regulations that state one must not wear obvious religious symbols into the site — and the Islamic Waqf officer warned a “disruption” would ignite because of the boy’s Jewish garment.

Tzitzit are the four-cornered fringed garment that all Jewish men and boys are enjoined in the Torah to wear. The commandment is repeated in the third paragraph of the Shema prayer, the single most important prayer in Judaism save for the Kaddish, which is recited for the departed.

The police arrested the Jewish minor and took him to the police station.

But by the time they reached the entrance to the police station, the police apparently realized they had no cause to arrest the boy and he was unconditionally released.

The boy is a resident of Beit El.

A short time later, a 35-year-old Jewish man was arrested at the Temple Mount as well.

According to the police, the man was walking with a groom on the Temple Mount, while quietly singing to into his ear the popular Jewish wedding song, “Od Yishama” — a song which is often sung when accompanying a groom on his wedding day.

This man, celebrating the imminent nuptials of his friend, was also taken into custody. The Honenu civil rights NGO has issued a statement saying its legal counsel has gone to the police precinct in an attempt to secure his release in time for him to attend the wedding of his friend.

Following that incident an Israeli police officer was attacked by Arabs at the site. He was slightly injured when the Arabs hurled a wooden beam at him, hitting his leg.

There are no reports of anyone having been arrested, however, for attacking the Israeli police officer.

By Tazpit News Agency

Will Bernie Sanders learn the lessons of the Jewish-American socialists who came before him? He’s soaring in the polls at the moment, drug but he seems oblivious to those on whose shoulders he seeks to stand. That could cost him as he seeks to convert his campaign from a protest vote on the margins to a broader challenge to the leadership of a Democratic Party that has long since come un-moored from the principles of FDR, vcialis 40mg JFK, pill LBJ, and, despite Hillary’s campaign, Bill Clinton.

This came into focus, at least for me, in the interview the senator gave to Ezra Klein, editor of a new, liberal website called Vox. Klein sprang on Sanders over the question of immigration, asking him about the idea of open borders. Sanders replied by trying to dismiss the idea of radically increasing immigration as a “right-wing” scheme. He called it a “Koch brothers proposal.” Klein reacted with incredulity. “Of course,” Sanders says. “That’s a right-wing proposal.”

Sanders asserted that open immigration “says essentially there is no United States.” He failed to address the fact that immigration was one of the reasons for the American secession from Britain, enumerated in the Declaration of Independence itself. It complained that the British tyrant King George III “has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither.”

The American founders were, in today’s terms, decidedly right wing. They believed in markets, limited government, and private property. Modern, free market conservatives have emerged in the van in the struggle to maintain, and expand, America’s welcoming spirit. The most famous tribune of this has been the Wall Street Journal, which in 1984 issued a famous editorial suggesting that, in theory at least, it would support a constitutional amendment saying there shall be open borders.

(Days after the Journal published that editorial, I had brunch with Isaac Bashevis Singer at the Brooklyn apartment of the editor of the Yiddish Forward, Simon Weber. When I brought up the Journal editorial, Singer exclaimed, “What, all those Mexicans!” I said I couldn’t believe I was hearing such a remark in the home of the editor of the Forward, at which point Si Weber beckoned me out onto his balcony, shook his finger at me, and said, “I know you guys from the Wall Street Journal, you just want cheap labor!”)

What was so astonishing about Senator Sanders’ anti-immigration tirade to Vox (and for that matter, Si Weber’s scolding of me) was the seeming obliviousness to the American socialists who came before. Sanders’ most famous forerunner, Meyer London (who, after Wisconsin’s Victor Berger, was the second socialist elected to the United States Congress) gave one of the great immigration speeches ever delivered in Congress. It was in 1921, when Congress was gearing up to sharply curb immigration.

London, who won his election with the support of the Forward, argued that immigration was self-regulating. “The extraordinary and unprecedented growth of the United States is as much a cause as the effect of immigration,” is the way he put it. He warned that “to prevent immigration means to cripple the United States.” How bizarre it is to hear Senator Sanders arguing that opening up immigration “would make everybody in America poorer.”
Immigration isn’t the only head on which Senator Sanders might want to brush up on his American socialist history. There’s also Israel. It proved to be one of the things that undid Meyer London. He represented in Congress a district teeming with Yiddish-speaking garment workers, and at one point was asked to introduce a resolution in support of the Balfour Declaration. London brushed the demarche aside, saying: “Let us stop pretending about the Jewish past and let us stop making fools of ourselves about the Jewish future.”
Nearly a century later, Sanders has rebuffed the major American Zionist organizations and Jewish defense agencies who are opposing the Iran appeasement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had barely finished announcing the pact when he and U.S. President Barack Obama were congratulated by Sanders, who called the deal “a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.” No doubt the parallels are inexact, but the fact is that Meyer London’s failure of vision is widely credited with costing him the election of 1918.

By Seth Lipsky – Haaretz

President Obama and other leading Democrats are well aware of their party’s declining popularity with Jewish Americans a little more than a year before the 2016 presidential election.

A Gallup Poll in January found that 29 percent of Jewish Americans identify with Republicans, order up from 22 percent in 2008. Another Gallup poll, ailment in March, seek put Obama’s favorable rating among Jewish Americans at 50 percent, compared to 77 percent in 2009, the first year of his presidency.

And so in recent months Obama spoke at a large Conservative synagogue in Washington and gave interviews to an Israeli television station and to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, his favorite spinmeister to the nation’s Jews.

Democratic leaders even desperately trotted out former top Obama adviser David Axelrod to enlighten his fellow Jews with the claim that Obama once confided to him that “I am the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office.”

With savvy campaigning, the 2016 Republican nominee can exceed the highest Jewish voting percentages garnered by the party’s candidates since the early 1950s: Dwight Eisenhower’s 36 percent in 1952 and 40 percent in 1956; Richard Nixon’s 35 percent in 1972; Ronald Reagan’s 39 percent in 1980 and 31 percent in 1984; George H.W. Bush’s 35 percent in 1988; and Mitt Romney’s 30 percent in 2012.

During George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 1991-92, the president and his secretary of state, James Baker, were tone-deaf to Jewish concerns, which caused Bush’s support among Jews to shrink to a mere 11 percent. It took the Republicans a generation and four presidential elections to win back the trust of a significant number of Jewish voters.

To exceed the post-World War II peak of 40 percent Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate, next year’s GOP nominee must take pains not to convey President Bush’s seeming indifference to issues deemed important by American Jews.

Moreover, Republicans need to recognize the huge gender gap among Jews in terms of party loyalty. In January, 36 percent of Jewish males identified themselves to Gallup as Republican or leaning Republican and 54 percent as Democrat or leaning Democrat. At the same time, only 23 percent of Jewish women said they were Republican or leaned Republican, while 68 percent answered Democrat or leaning Democrat.

Similarly, in the aforementioned April Gallup Poll, Jewish men were evenly divided – 48-48 – over Obama’s performance in office; Jewish women, on the other hand, approved Obama’s job performance by an overwhelming majority – 59 percent to 37 percent.

Jewish-American women are not only the country’s most highly educated female voting demographic, they have also been major supporters – financial and otherwise – of Democrats. It’s no accident that the head of the Democratic National Committee, Florida representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is a Jewish woman. Six other Jewish Democratic women serve in the current Congress, while the last – and so far only! – Republican Jewish congresswoman, Florence Prag Kahn, served between 1925 and 1937.

The failure of Republicans to attract more Jewish women is exemplified by the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has 59 men, including business tycoons Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, and former U.S. senator Norm Coleman, but only six women, none of whom is a nationally recognized personality.

(Another major gap in this year’s two Gallup polls of Jewish political identification is between the “highly religious,” 42 percent of whom are Republican or Republican leaners, and the “not religious,” only 24 percent of whom are Republican or Republican leaners.)

During the upcoming presidential campaign, Republicans must bring to the nation’s Jewish communities speakers such as candidate Carly Fiorina, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, former Florida congressman Alan West, New Mexico governor Susan Martinez, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, economist Thomas Sowell, and other prominent Republicans who are female, black, Hispanic, or Asian.

Highlighting the wide array of accomplished Republicans will demonstrate the party’s gender, racial, and ethnic diversity, which is routinely downplayed or ignored in the overwhelmingly liberal mainstream media.

Republican presidential candidates and their supporters must repeatedly emphasize that the last three Democratic presidents – Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter – were ineffective commanders-in-chief and conducted disastrous foreign policies.

The possibility of having Bill and Hillary Clinton back in the White House should frighten Jewish Americans, who must constantly be reminded that with the exception of ineffective cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan after the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Bill Clinton never retaliated for the many terror attacks against Americans during his eight years in office.

As for the Obama administration’s craven surrender to Iran’s demands in the nuclear-weapons negotiations, it was hardly an anomaly, capping years of appeasement and retreat on the part of the United States under this president.

To prevent the U.S. from descending to the banana republic level of Argentina, Republicans must conduct a smart and effective campaign to woo Jewish voters – and Jewish Republicans must make a superhuman effort to convince a majority of their fellow Jews to vote for the Grand Old Party in 2016.

About the Author: Mark Schulte is a prolific writer whose work has appeared in a number of publications including The Weekly Standard, New York Post, New York Daily News, and The Jewish Press.

I have always been fascinated by the story of the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia.

At the time of the epic Operation Solomon, I was living in Russia. By the time I made aliya, the majority of the Ethiopian Jews were already in Israel. Here in Israel, I met many Ethiopian Jews and my interest in Beta Israel history and traditions became even stronger.

This is how one day, while reading a journey diary written in 1910 by the prominent European scholar Jacob Faitlovitch, I read his account of an encounter with a group of Falashas residing in the highlands of North Shewa region of Ethiopia, an area between Gondar, where most Jews lived, and the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

It took Faitlovitch some time to win the trust of these Falashas, to get any information from them. Finally, they revealed to him that they had come to North Shewa from the Dembiya region near Gondar, mostly at the time of Emperor Menelik II’s rule.

In his account, Faitlovitch discussed the difficulties they faced, which pushed them to pretend to be Christians.

“These Falashas live in a relationship of dependence and a lack of freedom which almost borders with slavery and they are strictly forbidden to ever leave the boundaries of the Shewa. Only rarely some of them succeed to move away secretly from the Shewa and to return to their homeland, where they will live again in the Falasha community as Jews.”

Faitlovitch expected this group to vanish in two generations, due to assimilation and persecution. More than two generations passed since that time.

Fortunately nowadays, access to information is much easier than at the time of Faitlovitch. With the help of the Internet, I contacted a group of Jews in the Kechene neighborhood of the northern part of Addis Ababa, who claim to be descendants of Beta Israel who migrated from Gondar to North Shewa.

I went on a long journey, not only a geographically but also in time.

The first historical account of Jewish presence in Ethiopia came from a 10th-century Jewish merchant and traveler Eldad Ha-Dani. He recounts that when the Northern Kingdom tribes of Israel went to war against the Southern Kingdom tribe of Judah, the Danites, who were renowned as skilled warriors, refused to fight against their kinsmen and left Israel for Egypt. They continued their journey until they reached the land of Cush where they finally settled.

According to their oral history, the Beta Israel of North Shewa settled in Kechene when Menelik II decided to build his new palace in Entoto, north of today’s Addis Ababa. Menelik II needed them for their skills in crafts to build his palaces and produce weapons.

For years, the Jews of Kechene continued practicing Judaism in secret, following the  instructions of the leaders who still remained in North Shewa. However, recently a group of young people of Kechene have decided to disclose their faith. They have opened a synagogue right in the heart of Kechene, creating serious tensions between the youth and the elders.

They call their synagogue Bet Selam, the House of Peace. Thanks to modern technologies, these young Jews have learned about the world Jewish community and modern Jewish practices. In their synagogue, they combine pre-Talmudic practices of their forefathers that trace back to the times of the First Temple and modern rabbinical Jewish practices which they have learned about from the Internet and from visitors.

Kechene is the neighborhood of craftsmen, Bal Ej in Amharic. Men mainly work as weavers and blacksmiths and the women work as potters.

Similar to the Beta Israel community in Gondar, Bal Ej are slandered as buda, or evil eyed. Their neighbors believe that they are humans at day and hyenas by night. They believe that eye contact with Bal Ej can bring illness or even death. Suspicions remain even among those who are educated, like civil servants and university professors. They avoid approaching Kechene attach a clove of garlic to their arm to protect them from the evil eye if they have to visit the neighborhood.

Even though Bal Ej provide Addis Ababa and surrounding areas with clothes, utensils and blacksmith products, they cannot sell their products on their own at markets. Instead, they are forced to sell their items through Christian merchants, which causes them to lose as much as 80 percent of the product price. However the difficulties that people of Kechene are going through, cannot be compared to those experienced by craftsmen from the community who still live in towns and villages of North Shewa.

I visited Morat, a small town of North Shewa, where the Beta Israel community first settled when they migrated from Gondar. Most of them are blacksmiths and potters. Almost every month, a member of the community is murdered or has property is destroyed since the Christian neighbors believe each time a person gets sick or dies, it is because of the curse of the “hyena people.” They randomly choose a victim to avenge. Most of the crimes committed against Bal Ej of North Shewa remain unpunished. The police allows murderers to escape or simply fail to investigate the crimes.

Life in this town is a life of fear since nobody knows who will be the next victim. To reduce the danger to some degree, community members pretend to be Christians. They go to church on Sunday, but attend hidden synagogues on Saturday.

When I interviewed the community members, we had to change topic whenever a stranger entered the room. To protect their secret, I pretended to be an American visitor, since the word Israel itself can raise eyebrows.

The biggest challenge was garnering a visit to the synagogues. The locations kept under strict secrecy and visitors are not welcome. It took a long time to build the trust and confidence of elders in order to gain permission to visit a few.

The synagogues are located deep in the mountains and getting there requires a long, tiring and sometimes dangerous trek. This strategy of building synagogues in remote and inaccessible places has protected the community for centuries.

The compound does not contain Jewish symbols. This is for two reasons. The first is to stave off unwelcome attention from hostile neighbors. The second is that most modern Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David, are simply unknown to the members of the community.

There are two entrances to the synagogue, one for men and another for women. Most of the prayers are conducted in Ge’ez, the liturgical language of Beta Israel. Surprisingly, the spoken language of many community elders is Quarenya, a language of an area near Dembiya.

Another interesting feature of the synagogues is that they are always located near a river because the Jews of North Shewa strictly observe the Biblical laws of ritual purity, or niddah. To observe the laws of niddah, a menstruating woman stays in a separate house for seven days. After the seven days she immerses in the river and can then join the rest of the community.

The members of the secret synagogues practice pre-Talmudic Judaism, and therefore practice of animal sacrifice for Passover and other occasions. I had a chance to witness the process of sheep slaughter, which corresponds to the laws of Kashrut. It was reminiscent of the traditions of other ancient Jewish communities, such as Bukharian Jews of Central Asia.

Even though the community has strong historical evidence of their connection to the Beta Israel of Gondar as well as a remarkable resemblance to their traditions, the community remains unknown to the most of the Jewish world.

The chances of the Beta Israel of North Shewa gaining recognition from the Israeli government seems slim. Currently, 6,000 Falash Mura are still waiting to emigrate to Israel, some for 10 to 20 years at the compound near the Israeli embassy in Addis Ababa.

To generate awareness of this amazing community, I decided to make a documentary about this community – their culture, traditions, music and struggle to survive and preserve their identity. The film is called Bal Ej: The hidden Jews of Ethiopia and it is due to be released at the beginning of 2016.

The Beta Israel of North Shewa are as important to us as we are to them. It is now our turn and obligation to bring the remaining Jews of Ethiopia back to Israel and ensure that both their lives and traditions from Ethiopia are not endangered.

For more information about the upcoming documentary Bal Ej: the hidden Jews of Ethiopia, visit 

By Irene Orelansky – The Jerusalem Post


World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Sunday expressed “outrage” and “utter bewilderment” at news that a music festival in Spain had disinvited American Jewish musician Matisyahufor failing to sign a pro-Palestinian declaration.

“This is a clear instance of anti-Semitism, and nothing else,” Lauder said in a statement, urging Spanish authorities “to condemn this sad incident and to take appropriate action those responsible for it.”

News media reported on Sunday that the appearance of Matisyahu was canceled by the organizers of the Rototom Sunsplash festival, which will take place next weekend in Benicàssim, in eastern Spain, following pressure from the anti-Israel BDS movement.

“Matisyahu is an American Jew. More importantly, like everybody else in a free and democratic society, he not only has a right to express his views – whether you agree with them or not — but he also has every right not to have the repugnant views of the festival organizers imposed on him. He is a musician who has been denied the opportunity to play his planned gig at a European reggae festival purely because he is Jewish and because he refuses to side with the vicious and bigoted BDS movement,” Lauder said.

“And to the people of Spain, I say this: Being a ‘Zionist’ and supporting Israel has nothing to do with supporting apartheid. Rather, it is about supporting democracy, the rule of law, freedom, openness and diversity,” he continued.

“The Rototom Sunsplash festival benefits from financial support from public authorities. I very much hope that they will convey a clear message to the organizers that either they re-invite Matisyahu and apologize for their outrageous behavior, or they pay back that financial aid, because anti-Semitism and racism must not be rewarded by public support – not in Spain, and not anywhere else,” added Lauder.

Matisyahu – who shot to fame as a bearded “hassidic reggae” star, before leaving Orthodox Judaism in 2011 – maintains a strong sense of Jewish identity, and is an unashamed supporter of the State of Israel – a fact that drew ire from anti-Israel boycott campaigners from the Valencian branch of the BDS movement.

The boycotters claimed he supported “an apartheid state which practicesethnic-cleansing,” according to Spain’s El Pais daily, and demanded the festival cancel his appearance.

By Israel National News

With India renovating Jewish heritage sites in the country, search its envoy to Israel has appealed to young Jews of Indian origin to utilise the ease of travelling to the land of their forefathers and to contribute in strengthening bilateral ties by connecting to their roots.

“We want to tell the world proudly about the rich Jewish life in India. With your efforts we are working to preserve the Jewish heritage in India and hope to have a package tour to Jewish heritage sites in Mumbai and elsewhere by early next year,” Ambassador Jaideep Sarkar told more than 3,500 Indian-origin Jews gathered here from all over Israel to celebrate the 3rd National Convention of Indian Jews in Israel.

Earlier this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during his visit to Israel, said his government would take initiatives to preserve the Jewish heritage sites in the state as it looked to promote tourism.“The state government is planning to celebrate 2017 as ‘Visit Maharashtra year’. By that time, we will create a lot of circuits for tourism. I feel if we could preserve the erstwhile Jewish heritage, a lot of tourists could come there,” Fadnavis had said.The Paravoor and Chennamangalam synagogues in Kochi, Kerala, were recently renovated and could be major attraction for the 25,000-strong Cochini Jews living in Israel.

Encouraging members of the community to pass on their rich tradition to generations to come, the Indian diplomat told the gathering about various schemes launched by the Indian Government like e-visa, and Know India Programme for children of Indian origin.He also urged them to consider the option of taking advantage of quality education at affordable prices available in India in the field of science, engineering and medicine which is recognised the world over.“The important thing is to continue what you began so well and pass on the spirit and idea behind the convention to the next generation. The house of Indian Jewish unity has a strong foundation. Now we have to build upon it,” Sarkar said.


A Montreal businessman has spearheaded the release of what he says are 128 Yazidi and Christian girls and young women from sexual slavery at the hands of Islamic State militants, viagra buy with a project in motion to save many more.

Steve Maman, already being dubbed the “Jewish Schindler” of Iraqi minorities by news outlets, is reported to have raised more than $200,000 — $50,000 over one recent weekend alone — to pay for the release of the captives during the past year. Ten more are expected to be liberated in the coming days.

As the world watched in horror while the Islamic State extremist group swept through northern Iraq last summer, capturing and executing thousands of members of the country’s minorities, Maman said he felt compelled to act.

“It’s a level of barbarism which was on another level of persecution,” the 42-year-old father of six said.

“The Talmud teaches us, whoever saves one life saves the world entire” — an aphorism quoted famously by Liam Neeson in the 1993 Oscar winner Schindler’s List.

Last August, up to 5,000 Yazidis were executed, sometimes en masse, in Iraq’s Sinjar district and beyond, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Thousands more women and girls were sold into sexual servitude or taken as brides by Islamic State fighters, UN researchers found.

Canon Andrew White, until recently the pastor of one of the largest churches in Baghdad, connected Maman with negotiators and helped him navigate Iraq’s web of tribal networks.

“He is somebody who is really like a brother. He’s the first person who’s come to our aid,” White told the Star by phone from Israel.

Montreal’s Rabbi Saadiah Elhadad called for deeper military commitments from western leaders.

“I would like to see more organizations and people around the world emulate this kind of action,” he said.

A friend of Maman, Elhadad noted the rescue project’s so far unsuccessful appeals for cash to more than 60 church organizations across the country.

Maman, a Canadian of Sephardic Jewish descent, drew parallels to the Holocaust, “except in the Holocaust they would burn bodies of people that were already dead; here, they’re actually burning them to kill them.”

Last year the crystal wholesaler and classic cars dealer called on his business contacts and friends in the Jewish community to finance his project, titled the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI).

Maman also worked his industry connections in Baghdad to reach hostage negotiators and United Nations and government officials.

Things began to snowball after he launched a GoFundMe account last month that set a target of half a million dollars. He’s now said to be aiming for $5 million.

The money has made its way through front-line brokers, who take a hefty cut, to Islamic State combatants in the mountain ranges of Iraqi Kurdistan, Maman said. The girls can return to safety only for a fee of between $1,000 and $3,000, many having suffered violent physical and sexual abuse, he said.

About 2,700 young women and girls remain in captivity behind Islamic State lines, according to Maman. “If we get half of them, we’ll be lucky,” he said.

A CYCI promotional video shows a young woman, taken from Mosul as a sex slave, reuniting with her father in an emotional embrace on the outskirts of the northern city of Dohuk last month. Until very recently, neither knew if the other was alive.

Maman cited Oskar Schindler, the German factory owner credited with saving up to 1,200 Jewish lives during the Holocaust, as a source of inspiration.

“He’s a hero not just to me but to every human being,” Maman said. He also nodded to the lesser known Sir Nicholas Winton — “the British Oskar Schindler.”

Like Schindler, Maman’s early focus on the bottom line morphed into a humanitarian mission in a crisis. The Moroccan-born Montrealer’s initial interest in Iraq was based on business. He said he was in the market for classic cars to import.

The Yazidi religion is one of Iraq’s oldest and includes mostly ethnically Kurdish members. Assyrian Christians, one of the last groups to speak Aramaic, the language believed to have been spoken by Jesus Christ, have also faced brutal persecution over the past year, with gruesome images appearing on Islamic State social media accounts.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Canadian-trained Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq last May, announcing $139 million in humanitarian aid.

Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli Jewish woman originally from Vancouver, spent the past nine months battling Islamic State militants on the front lines in Iraq and Syria. Now she has united with CYCI, appearing in a video posted to their Facebook page last Wednesday.

“What I saw happening was a genocide and not just a traditional war,” said the 31-year-old former Israeli Defense Forces soldier, believed to be the first female foreign fighter to join Kurdish forces.

“When you target women and children and kidnap them and sell them into sex slavery, at that point you are trying to destroy a people, and I couldn’t stay quiet and allow that to happen,” she said.

“I was raised with a strong Holocaust education, and I truly believe that when we say never again, that doesn’t just apply to the Jewish people, but to anyone.”

By Christopher Reynolds – Toronto Star

A Spanish music festival has cancelled a performance by Jewish reggae star Matisyahu – because he refused to produce a statement clearly endorsing “Palestinian statehood,” according to Spanish media outlets.

Matisyahu – who shot to fame as a bearded “hassidic raggae” star, before leaving Orthodox Judaism in 2011 – was due to appear at the Rototom Sunsplash festival in Benicassim, north of Valencia. The yearly musicfestival is the European tribute to the major Jamaican reggae festival of the same name.

But despite shedding his skullcap, beard, peyot – and most of his religion in general – Matisyahu maintains a strong sense of Jewish identity, and is an unashamed supporter of the State of Israel – a fact that drew ire from anti-Israel boycott campaigners from the Valencian branch of the “BDS” movement. The boycotters  claimed he supported “an apartheid state which practices ethnic-cleansing,” according to Spain’s El Pais daily, and demanded the festival cancel his appearance.

After days of pressure, concert organizers eventually capitulated, pulling his August 22 performance.

In a shocking display of overt politicization, Rototom Director Filippo Giunta reportedly turned to Matisyahu and demanded he produce a “signed statement or video” which stated “in a very clear way” that he supported the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, as a precondition to performing.

“If you sign these conditions, you can continue the performance,” Giunta said he told the artist, according to Europa News.

Matisyahu’s performance was cancelled after he refused to respond to the ultimatum.

The reggae and alternative rock star’s appearance in Spain is just one of a number of stops during his tour of Europe this summer, which also includes Poland, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, before his return for a whirlwind tour of the US.

Playing Tetris for as little as three minutes at a time can weaken cravings for drugs, generic food and activities such as sex and sleeping by approximately one fifth, according to new research.

In the first test of its kind to study people in natural settings outside of a laboratory, participants were monitored for levels of craving and prompted to play the block-shifting puzzle game at random intervals during the day.

Psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia, found that playing Tetris interfered with desires not only for food, but also for drugs, including cigarettes, alcohol and coffee, and other activities. The benefits of playing Tetris were maintained over the seven-day study period.

In a report published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors, the authors say playing the game could help people to manage their cravings, and they have recommended further research, including testing people dependent on drugs.

Professor Jackie Andrade, from the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University, said: “Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%. This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating.

“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”

During the experiment, 31 undergraduates, aged 18-27, were prompted seven times a day via text message to report on any cravings they were feeling. They were also encouraged to report cravings proactively, independently of the prompts. Fifteen members of the group were required to play Tetris on an iPod for three minutes, before reporting their craving levels again.

Craving was recorded in 30% of occasions, most commonly for food and non-alcoholic drinks, which were reported on nearly two-thirds of those occasions. Twenty-one percent of cravings were for substances categorized as drugs, including coffee, cigarettes, wine and beer, and 16% were for miscellaneous activities such as sleeping, playing video games, socializing with friends, and sexual intercourse. Food cravings tended to be slightly weaker than those in the other categories.

“The impact of Tetris on craving was consistent across the week and on all craving types,” said Professor Jon May, also of Plymouth University. “People played the game 40 times on average but the effect did not seem to wear off. This finding is potentially important because an intervention that worked solely because it was novel and unusual would have diminishing benefits over time as participants became familiar with it.”

“As a support tool, Tetris could help people manage their cravings in their daily lives and over extended time periods,” added Professor Andrade.