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October 22, 2014 0

Pro-Hezbollah Hackers Target Media Group For Its Position On Israel

On Octo­ber 20, pro-Hezbollah hack­ers took con­trol of the Twit­ter account of a promi­nent Lebanese Chris­t­ian TV sta­tion, Murr Tele­vi­sion, known as MTV Lebanon, because the sta­tion allegedly failed to describe Hamas com­bat­ants killed in the fight­ing with Israel as “martyrs.”mtv-lebanon-hacking-hezbollah

The hack­ers changed the Twit­ter account’s cover image to a photo of a Hezbol­lah fighter under a Hezbol­lah flag and tweeted a mes­sage from the account stating:

“[Only] when you learn the dif­fer­ence between a mar­tyr and a killed [per­son], between an agent [of Israel] and a resis­tance fighter…. [Only] When you learn that Israel is the enemy, then your account will return to you. So we don’t for­get Palestine.@MTVLebanonNews.”

While no group has claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the hack­ing, Hezbol­lah’s media arm,Al Manar, praised the attack in a report pub­lished yes­ter­day that read in part, “For sev­eral hours today, the flag of Hezbol­lah kept wav­ing over the pub­lic page of MTV twit­ter account.”

The hack­ing of MTV Lebanon and sub­se­quent prais­ing of it by Hezbollah’s media arm could rep­re­sent a new tac­tic in the way ter­ror­ist groups in the Mid­dle East attack their oppo­nents online and spread their ide­ol­ogy to a wider audi­ence. It does not appear that Hezbol­lah has pre­vi­ously endorsed cyber-attacks against its opponents.

ADL has tracked sev­eral hack­ing oper­a­tions against Jew­ish and Israeli insti­tu­tions by anti-Israel groups.

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October 20, 2014 0

The Lancet Editor Reconsiders Israel

In a sig­nif­i­cant about face, Dr. Richard Hor­ton, the edi­tor of the pres­ti­gious med­ical jour­nal The Lancet, pub­lished an arti­cle on Octo­ber 11 reflect­ing on his recent visit to Israel and announc­ing sev­eral pol­icy ini­tia­tives the jour­nal will now under­take which will more accu­rately reflect the Israeli med­ical sys­tem and deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Horton’s visit to Israel and his writ­ten reflec­tions came in the after­math of a firestorm that met The Lancet’s post­ing on July 23 of a highly one-sided, pro­pa­gan­dis­tic  “Open Let­ter for the Peo­ple of Gaza,”  con­demn­ing Israeli “aggres­sion” in Gaza and charg­ing Israel and Israeli physi­cians with full cul­pa­bil­ity for the sit­u­a­tion in Gaza.    The let­ter, signed by 24 indi­vid­u­als who iden­ti­fied them­selves as “doc­tors and sci­en­tists, who spend our lives devel­op­ing means to care and pro­tect health and lives” (many of whom have been strongly crit­i­cal of Israel for a long time), appeared on The Lancet web­site with­out any counter-perspective and, ini­tially, the pub­li­ca­tion encour­aged read­ers to add their names. As of July 30, the web­site had gar­nered 20,000 sig­na­tures before the sign­ing func­tion was shut down. The Lancet later posted a hand­ful of let­ters in response to the Gaza open let­ter on its web­site, includ­ing many by Israeli physi­cians and med­ical professionals.

Con­tro­versy over the let­ter raged at the height of the Israel-Hamas con­flict, with many, includ­ing ADL, call­ing into ques­tions Dr. Horton’s deci­sion to fea­ture such a “par­ti­san” and “highly politi­cized screed.”

In Sep­tem­ber, Hor­ton, invited by Pro­fes­sor Karl Sko­recki of the Ram­bam Hos­pi­tal in Haifa, decided to visit Israel for the first time. (See a video of his speech at Ram­bam below.)   The real­ity of Israel appar­ently took Dr. Hor­ton by sur­prise.  He writes:

At Ram­bam I saw an inspir­ing model of part­ner­ship between Jews and Arabs in a part of Israel where 40% of the pop­u­la­tion is Arab. I saw Ram­bam offer­ing an open hand, gladly grasped by fam­i­lies from Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, who were liv­ing with life-threatening health-care needs. I saw Ram­bam as one exam­ple of a vision for a peace­ful and pro­duc­tive future between peo­ples, which I learned exists through­out Israel’s hospitals.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Dr. Hor­ton admit­ted :  “I have seen for myself that what was writ­ten in the Man­d­uca et al let­ter does not describe the full reality.”

He also laid out new guide­lines for the edi­tors to more thor­oughly review the “inter­ests” of authors, as well as con­sider how to approach poten­tially divi­sive and polar­iz­ing con­tent, and announced plans for a Lancet series on Israel’s health and med­ical system.

In a let­ter to Dr. Hor­ton, ADL com­mended his arti­cle and state­ments and requested that a link to it appear promi­nently along­side the “Open Let­ter” which can still be found on The Lancet web­site.   ADL also noted that:

In your Octo­ber 11 arti­cle you state that “…The Lancet opposes all forms of boy­cott.”   You may be aware that numer­ous anti-Israel res­o­lu­tions pre­sented in uni­ver­si­ties, pro­fes­sional asso­ci­a­tions and the like – includ­ing those call­ing for boy­cotts of and divest­ment from Israel – cite mate­r­ial from The Lancet in bol­ster­ing their advo­cacy.  We urge you to speak out against all efforts to link The Lancet to advo­cacy in favor of boy­cotting Israel, its aca­d­e­mics and professionals.

Dr. Hor­ton says he will return to Israel in Jan­u­ary 2015.  Med­ical pro­fes­sional around the world will watch with inter­est what might result from this new aware­ness and open­ness to Israel.

 

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October 20, 2014 1

NC School District Continues Legally Questionable Bible Course

News reports about a ques­tion­able ele­men­tary school Bible course recently brought national atten­tion on the Rowan-Salisbury, NC pub­lic school sys­tem. Accord­ing to these reports, the classes are funded by reli­gious non­profit groups and include explicit reli­gious indoc­tri­na­tion. If true, these prac­tices raise seri­ous con­sti­tu­tional issues. nc-school-religion

Shortly after the Bible course made the news, the Rowan-Salisbury School Board held a meet­ing to con­sider whether the classes should con­tinue. Although the Board voted to review the course cur­ricu­lum, it appears that the classes will con­tinue pend­ing the review. In sup­port of con­tin­u­ing the Bible classes, Chair­man of the Rowan County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Jim Sides report­edly stated: “I am sick and tired of being told by the minor­ity what’s best for the majority.”

Our nation’s pub­lic schools cer­tainly are not devoid of reli­gion. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that pub­lic schools can teach about reli­gion in an objec­tive and neu­tral man­ner, but they can­not teach or indoc­tri­nate reli­gion. For school offi­cials, mak­ing that dis­tinc­tion — par­tic­u­larly for a Bible course — is no easy task. Indeed, a let­ter ADL sent to the Rowan-Salisbury School Board in advance of its recent meet­ing noted that all reported legal deci­sions on Bible courses in pub­lic schools found con­sti­tu­tional violations.

ADL firmly believes that com­par­a­tive reli­gion classes are more appro­pri­ate for pub­lic schools. By its vote, the Rowan-Salisbury School Board appar­ently does not agree. But the Board needs to take a num­ber of impor­tant steps to ensure that its Bible course is con­sti­tu­tional and reli­giously inclu­sive. First and fore­most, it has to abide by the Supreme Court’s direc­tive, which requires a num­ber of prac­ti­cal steps.

For starters, the classes should be lim­ited to sec­ondary schools. When it comes to reli­gion in the pub­lic schools, the Courts are most pro­tec­tive of ele­men­tary school stu­dents because they are most impres­sion­able and vul­ner­a­ble to reli­gious coer­cion. Try­ing to craft a con­sti­tu­tion­ally per­mis­si­ble ele­men­tary school cur­ricu­lum is sim­ply unwork­able, and will undoubt­edly lead to more con­tro­versy and litigation.

The cur­ricu­lum also should be reviewed by a pro­fes­sor of reli­gious stud­ies or another expert, and Bible course teach­ers should receive train­ing on Estab­lish­ment Clause and reli­gious diver­sity issues.

Chair­man Sides and the school board should keep in mind that our nation’s pub­lic schools serve all of our chil­dren, whether they are in the reli­gious major­ity or minor­ity. If a school makes the deci­sion to teach a Bible course, the cur­ricu­lum should be bal­anced and plu­ral­is­tic in nature. It can­not advo­cate one par­tic­u­lar reli­gion, or one bib­li­cal inter­pre­ta­tion or trans­la­tion over another.

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