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Deborah Lipstadt, professor of history at Emory University and author of numerous books on the Holocaust, assessed the results of a poll of more than 7,000 Europeans in seven nations conducted on behalf of CNN. The survey showed that more
than 25% of those surveyed from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Sweden believed that Jews had too much influence in business and that nearly one in four believed that Jews had too much influence in wars around the world. The poll also found that one-third of those surveyed said that they “knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust,” according to CNN. — The Israel Project, 11/27/2018

Established in England in 1984, an organization called Islamic Relief is the largest Islamic charity in the Western world, comprising dozens of branches around the globe. In 2015, the United Arab Emirates designated Islamic Relief as a terrorist organization because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood and
Hamas. In 2016, it emerged that the international bank HSBC had closed down Islamic Relief’s accounts over terror financing fears. IR-USA is the largest Muslim charity in America, and in the last two years, has received $370,000 of taxpayers’ money and hundreds of thousands of dollars from prominent corporate and community foundations across the country. — Clarion Project, 1/2/2019

Two key leadership councils of the European Union [EU] have endorsed the call for member nations to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that includes denying the right of Jews to have their own nation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz for leading this
effort. — Mideast Update, 12/17/2018

Social

A homeless man found rare artwork from Disney’s “Bambi” in a trash bin in Edmonton. When it sold for $3,700, the seller tracked him down to split the proceeds. At first the buyer thought it was a replica of an animation cel, and paid the man $20 for it. But when he discovered an old certificate of authenticity with a copyright date of 1937 (Bambi hit theaters in
1942), the buyer realized he had an original Disney animation cel that was worth much more than he had initially thought. The buyer sold the animation cel for $3,700 and tracked down the homeless man, eventually finding someone who knew him. The
man showed up at the buyer’s store a few days later and received his money. — SunnySkyz, 11/22/2018

A new analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of 6- to 21-year-olds (52%) are nonHispanic whites. And while most are still pursuing
their K-12 education, the oldest post-Millennials are enrolling in college at a significantly higher rate than Millennials were at a comparable age. — Pew Research Center, 11/15/2018

Two Good Samaritans found a diaper bag filled with cash and returned it to its rightful owner. A Vietnamese man, who is attending college in southern California thought he had lost his life savings when he, his wife and daughter visited a Christmas
display in Long Beach and left without their bag after stopping for a photo. The backpack contained his family’s passports and $5,000 in cash. Later that night Gabriel Ruiz and Gabriela Jauregui took a picture at the same spot and found the bag. “We saw the wallet, opened that up and then there was just a ton of money in there,” said Ruiz. The next morning they found a secret compartment in the bag with contact details inside. They called the number and returned the bag to its delighted owner. — SunnySkyz, 1/2/2019

Blue-collar workers are in short supply. Since 1994, the share of Americans aged 25 to 64 with a bachelor’s degree has risen from about 27 percent to near 40 percent, according to the Conference Board and Labor Department. The portion with only a high school diploma has fallen from about 36 percent to
28 percent. — USA Today, 12/26/2018

More than 100 psychiatric hospitals have remained fully accredited by the nation’s major hospital watchdog despite serious safety violations. State inspectors found about 16% of those hospitals each year, or about 140 institutions total, operated with such severe safety violations they could put federal funding at risk. Troubled hospitals have promoted
their continued accreditation to attract new patients, in some cases even after the federal government terminated their Medicare funding due to recurring safety risks. — Wall Street Journal, 12/26/2018

Political

From 2000 to 2017, a majority of U.S. communities with fewer than 25,000 residents saw a declining population and employment, while nearly all metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 residents saw their populations rise. The relationship between size and growth became much more important after
2000,” author and senior economist Jordan Rappaport said. While growth doesn’t always translate into a higher standard of living for a community’s residents, depopulation causes a host of problems. As residents depart, counties and towns can be left
with more infrastructure than they can afford to maintain, declining property values, a shrinking tax base and burgeoning pension deficits. — Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, 12/26/2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he witnessed a final test of a hypersonic glide vehicle, one of a series of new weapons that will be able to overcome existing and future defenses. “The test was a success,” Putin told government officials after the test,
which was conducted in Kamchatka in the Far East and monitored from Moscow by the president and other officials. “Russia has a new kind of strategic weapon.” He said deployment of the glide vehicle, called Avangard and launched from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), will begin next year.  It can carry conventional or nuclear weapons and maneuver past defenses, according to Russian officials. — Bloomberg, 12/26/2018

Native Americans represent about 2 percent of the U.S. population. The National Congress of American Indians, the largest tribal advocacy group, has referred to them as the “Asterisk Nation.” Under treaties, the U.S. government is responsible to fund education, public safety, health care and other services. A recent report described shortfalls in funding as a quiet crisis. A bipartisan group of congressional members reported recently that conditions amongst native Americans had not improved since a 2003 report showed inadequate access to health care, electricity and running water. Standards of living are much different now than in the 19th century when many treaties were signed. The recent report concluded that “The best thing Congress can do for Indians is to reform the laws to treat Indians the same as non-Indians.” — AP, 12/26/2018

Ukraine’s defense ministry put its troops on military alert after Russian forces fired on and detained three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. In a televised address, Ukraine President Poroshenko said the measure was necessary in order to prepare the country’s defenses in case of
a full-scale invasion by Russian forces, which he said intelligence reports showed were gathering along the countries’ border. This was the biggest confrontation between the two nations since Russia’s 2014 military intervention in Ukraine when Moscow annexed Crimea and supported an armed uprising in the country’s east. — Wall Street Journal, 11/26/2018

At the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the cybersecurity facilities for the U.S., questions about exactly what goes on aren’t always answered, and photos by outsiders aren’t allowed. The U.S. is rushing to catch up with what cybersecurity experts
say are threats by hackers to systems that operate energy pipelines, hydroelectric projects, drinking water systems and nuclear power plants across the country. Employees work to prevent threats like the one that occurred in 2013, when seven Iranian government-backed hackers gained access to the controls of a dam in the suburbs of New York City. Prosecutors called that incident a “frightening new frontier in cybercrime.” — AP, 12/26/2018

Few people track the news cycle more closely than Chuck Todd, the Meet the Press host and NBC News political director. In an interview, Todd said that he was concerned that “the collective mainstream media’s coverage of (the U.S. President) has turned into white noise for the public.” He said the media is too addicted to outrage, “cranking every story up to an 11.” He said the result of the perpetually alarmed press corps is a tuned-out citizenry. — Arizona Republic, 12/24/2018

Financial

During the past eight years, according to the Conference Board report and the Labor Department, the offshoring of factory jobs, particularly to China, has slowed and some manufacturers are even bringing production back to the U.S. Automation has slowed as meager wage growth has lessened the need for
companies to invest heavily in technology. — AP, 12/26/2018

The number of workers in the U.K. who hail from elsewhere in the European Union posted the steepest drop on record in September, signaling that Britain’s impending exit from the bloc is denting its appeal as a destination for job seekers from the
continent. The number of EU nationals employed in the U.K. declined by 132,000 in the year through September, the largest annual fall since comparable records began in 1997, the Office for National Statistics said. The decline was driven by a drop off
in the number of workers from Poland, the Czech Republic and another six Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004. — Wall Street Journal, 11/13/2018

The US state of Ohio appears set to become the first state to accept bitcoin for tax bills. Ohio businesses will be able to go to the website OhioCrypto.com and register to pay everything from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes with bitcoin. Eventually, the initiative will expand to individual filers. Bitcoin was intended as a currency that didn’t require government backing or support when it was introduced 10 years ago. Although it has had suc­cess as a tradable asset, it hasn’t gained broad acceptance as a form of payment and has been dogged by concerns that it is used to pay for criminal enterprises. — Wall Street Journal, 11/26/2018

Unlike today, interest rates in the ancient world did not rise and fall. Instead, each society had its own steady or “normal” interest rate. This rate was often fixed by law. Starting around 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, the normal commercial rate of interest was
equivalent to 20 percent per year. In ancient Greece, the normal interest rate was fixed at 10 percent. The Romans’ interest rate was fixed in law for centuries at 1/12 of the principal. Agrarian debtors in ancient Babylon, Judea and Israel were often forced to borrow money at much higher rates of interest than they could possibly afford to pay. With interest rates regularly exceeding profit and crop-surplus rates, these societies inevitably experienced widespread economic polarization and financial instability. — Bible History Daily, 1/2/2019

Israel

Almost half of UK [United Kingdom] Jews consider emigrating due to rising anti-Semitism and its hold on the Labour Party, said the chairman of the Campaign Against anti-Semitism Gideon Falter in an European Jewish Association (EJA) meeting in Brussels. The annual meeting of the EJA is supported and funded by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and includes representatives from various communities and other European officials. According to the data, 40% of British Jews are considering leaving the UK, some of them to Israel, due to the rising anti-Semitism they experience. — Ynet News, 11/16/2018

Almost half of UK [United Kingdom] Jews consider emigrating due to rising anti-Semitism and its hold on the Labour Party, said the chairman of the Campaign Against anti-Semitism Gideon Falter in an European Jewish Association (EJA) meeting in Brussels. The annual meeting of the EJA is supported and funded by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and includes representatives from various communities and other European officials. According to the data, 40% of British Jews are considering leaving the UK, some of them to Israel, due to the rising anti-Semitism they experience. — Ynet News, 11/16/2018

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told the Islamic Unity Conference what he really thinks of Israel. “One of the most important effects of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region,” said Rouhani in an English translation of his comments posted to his office’s website. The Arabic version of the website — per a Google translation
into English — clarified that Rouhani was describing Israel. Rouhani said Israel was “deployed” into the Middle East as an entity that “completely obeys the West in regional matters.” He continued, “They formed the fake Israeli regime and killed and displaced the historical nation of Palestine.” — The Mideast Update, 11/25/2018

A special Russian delegation arrived in Israel to ease tensions between the two countries following the downing of a Russian plane by Syrian forces in September, during an attempt to repel an Israeli airstrike. The delegation’s visit is viewed by Israel as
highly important as it symbolizes the Kremlin’s intention to leave behind the crisis over the plane. Officials in Jerusalem said that Russia had attempted to normalize relations with Israel by expressing its disapproval of the (Hezbollah) tunnels to Lebanon’s government, demanding it prevent further violation
of UN Resolution 1701 and deal with the tunnels as soon as possible to avoid escalation. Senior Russian diplomats stressed that the tunnels stretching from Lebanon into Israel are unacceptable and that Lebanon must take action. — Ynetnews, 12/20/2019

After months of speculation, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Australian government officially recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, he stopped short of recognizing the whole of the city as the capital and said the embassy will not be moved until a peace deal with the Palestinians has been finalized. — Bridges for Peace, 12/17/2018

Iran has repeatedly talked about the destruction of Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear he will do whatever it takes to keep Iran from fulfilling that vision. “Our red line is our survival. We do what is necessary to protect the
State of Israel against the Iranian regime that openly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state,” said Netanyahu. Netanyahu noted that Iran’s plan is to bring their army from 1,500 kilometers [932 mi.] away to Israel’s very own northern border in Syria.  This would enable Iran to set up missiles capable of
hitting anywhere in Israel and bring in tens of thousands of militia forces “with the express purpose of destroying us.” “My policy has been we’re going to stop you,” said Netanyahu. “We’re going to stop things, bad things when they’re small. So we meet Iran head-on in Syria and … we’ll do whatever else
we need to do to protect ourselves. As you would too.” — Mideast Update, 12/12/2018

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are reportedly working together to convince Arab states to initiate a fresh start with Israel and develop economic relations with the Jewish state in accordance with the yet-tobe released peace plan of the Trump administration, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday. According to a report in the UK-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who met in Cairo, are trying to persuade as many Arab nations as possible to seek normalization with Israel, “or at the very least, a state of no war.” — The Israel Project, 11/29/2018

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull America’s 2,000 troops out from Syria was the first significant point of contention between Washington and Jerusalem since he took office — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly pleaded with him to rethink the decision. Trump said that he did
not think America’s removing its troops from Syria would endanger Israel by strengthening Tehran’s hand in one of the Jewish state’s immediate neighbors to the north. — Times of Israel, 1/2/2019

The Population and Immigration Authority published its figures for 2018, revealing that not a single infiltrator has entered Israel in 2018, while 7,957 infiltrators were expelled from the country
and 3,490 left as part of a government plan encouraging voluntary departures. The Egypt-Israel border fence stretches along the full 152 miles from Rafah to Eilat between the two countries, where the bulk of infiltrations from East Africa took place a decade or so ago. Construction on the fence began in 2010 and completed in 2013, at the cost of $450 million. It has proven to be practically impenetrable. The steel barrier project features cameras, radar, and motion detectors. — Jewish Press, 1/2/2019

 

 

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