(IsaraelHayom) One thing is for sure: The many problems of democracy are still preferable to the few (if any!) advantages of nondemocratic regimes.
Spoiler alert: The answer to the question in the title of this article is, from our perspective, quite clear – Israel will be the unequivocal winner of the ongoing electoral process. However, dear reader, please do not stop reading. Don’t lose interest. More important than identifying the clear winner is the discussion about what is at stake on this super-decisive Tuesday.
Why is Israel the unequivocal winner?
Because the Israeli people will show once again, to the entire world, that it is the most perfect democracy in the most imperfect, undemocratic and problematic region of the globe. Every democracy on earth has problems, such as the deficient (if not vicious) relationship between voters and their representatives and the lack of political mechanisms to challenge and defy an establishment whose power comes at the expense of the people. The political problems of modern democracies are too numerous to enumerate here in this article – my first contribution to Israel Hayom.
One thing is for sure: The many problems of democracy are still preferable to the few (if any!) advantages of nondemocratic regimes. And by “nondemocratic regime,” I am not referring to the most barbaric political experiences of the past, from the diabolical authoritarian regimes of the first half of the 20th century in the heart of Europe to the murderous communist regimes that savaged so many countries throughout the world.
I am referring instead to those regimes (and consequently, states) that have embraced the politics of complete surrender to the intellectual, political and social dictatorship of far-left political correctness. This kind of inorganic dictatorship usually comes with a nice face, a beautiful package and a colorful ribbon upon it, but it is not less lethal and dangerous than the traditional forms of radicalism and totalitarianism. Many examples of the threats to democratic societies posed by these new groups, radical social movements, and protest professionals (think about Antifa in the US) could be pointed out here. Don’t forget that these groups picked as their role models the states dominated by radical Islamic terrorism, much like the vicious and despicable far-right, nondemocratic, and racist marginal groups in Europe and the US. If this is not enough to dissuade people – especially youth – from joining such groups, then we, as a society and as humans, should be very worried about our immediate future.
Israel – as a country with a strong, resilient and brave people – will be the winner because the electorate will respond positively to the second call to vote in such a short period of time. Unlike many of my Israeli friends and highly respected political analysts, I believe that when the turnout rate is measured, we’ll find that the Israeli people did not stay at home, watching the future of the country being written by others.
It’s true that one can feel palpable electoral fatigue in the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and pretty much every corner of this amazing country. However, the fatigue from listening to unstoppable electoral speeches and interviews with politicians (a professional class that is, let’s face it, not so adored by these days) may be a catalyst leading to massive voting today. I hope so. It would bring tremendous honor to Israel’s democracy.
So, dear reader, as much as I love your attention and kindness for reading this article, if you haven’t yet voted, please run now to do so!
And the mobilization of the electorate may very well culminate in polarization between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz: The perception that this is a battle for the premiership will most likely potentiate the concentration of votes in either candidate. You may object that the polls indicate the opposite, but my confidence in polls was shaken dramatically over the last few years (remember President Hillary Clinton?).
Having this said, I will not pass over the $1 million question: Which political reality will emerge from the vote tonight (or tomorrow, or in the coming days…)? I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to head the Israeli government. This is for a number of reasons, including (1) the relative activism and loyalty of his base compared to that of the other side; (2) Gantz’s gradual loss of momentum; and (3) the fact that the right-wing parties – led by the powerful and brilliant Ayelet Shaked – will not be anxious to hand power over to the Left on a silver platter. I am not ignoring things that have been said during the campaign, but Wednesday is a new day. And Gen. Gantz – who at his core is no leftist – would be an incredible and highly respected defense minister in a Likud-led government.
I conclude as I started. The winner today is Israel.
While in Lebanon, Hezbollah is subjugating its people through fear and terror, brainwashing them against Israel and the West, and feeding international terrorism, the Israeli people are voting in a tolerant, pluralistic, and fair democratic process.
While Iran of the despicable ayatollahs is pretending – laughing in our faces! – that the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s refineries are Yemen’s fault (!) and will continue to export its special kind of international terrorism, Israel is showing, one more time, how a free and democratic society works.
Contrary to what the Left preaches in Europe and now, unfortunately, in the US, there is no moral equivalence between Israel and its neighbors. We will always stand with Israel because we will always stand for liberty and democracy.
Today, a great new chapter for the great State of Israel is starting. As its national anthem says, our hope is not lost!
João Lemos Esteves wrote this article following a visit to Israel under the auspices of B’nai B’rith
This technology’s impact Is being felt in fields from medicine to self-driving cars and even shopping. Israel’s start-ups in this sector have attracted millions of dollars in investment. It has a big advantage: a heavy concentration of engineers in a very small area, and experience built up through military applications of image analysis technology
(BF) Israel has emerged as a leading player in Artificial Intelligence and Tel Aviv has been named as an Emerging AI Hub in Business Facilities’ 15th Annual Rankings Report.
Israel has emerged as a leading player in Artificial Intelligence and Tel Aviv has been named as an Emerging AI Hub in Business Facilities’15th Annual Rankings Report.
Israel finished sixth in BF’s global ranking for Artificial Intelligence, with the U.S., China and the UK topping the chart, respectively. Tel Aviv finished seventh in the magazine’s Emerging AI Hubs category, behind Beijing, San Francisco, London, Shanghai, New York and Toronto, respectively.
“If you factor in the size of the country, Israel’s appearance in the top 10 in AI is even more impressive,” said BF Editor in Chief Jack Rogers. “On a per capita basis, Israel is head and shoulders above everyone else.”
According to StartupHub.ai, which tracks funding rounds for artificial intelligence, Israeli startups raised $319 million in June.
“Israel’s cluster of AI startups is expanding exponentially,” Rogers said, noting that Israeli AI startups cumulatively have raised an estimated $7 billion and are proliferating in sub-sectors ranging from machine learning and computer vision to speech recognition.
China, the United States and Germany are the top three, respectively, in BF’s global ranking for Renewable Energy Leaders, based on installed capacity in megawatts.
“China is still the biggest polluter by far in terms of carbon emissions, but the PRC has laid the foundation to lead the world in renewable energy for years to come,” Rogers said.
(DV) O número de turistas portugueses a conhecer Israel aumentou em junho. Atualmente, há 12 voos diretos semanais a ligar as duas capitais.
O número de turistas estrangeiros a visitar Israel cresceu desde o início do ano. Os dados revelados pelo ministério do Turismo israelita mostram que, no primeiro semestre deste ano, visitaram o país 2.265 milhões de turistas, o que representa uma subida de 10% em comparação com o período homólogo do ano passado.
Olhando apenas para o mês de junho, o número de turistas oriundos da Europa cresceu face ao sexto mês do ano passado. Os franceses foram a nacionalidade que mais cresceu: 27.300 em junho. Da Alemanha, houve mais de 21 mil turistas, o que representa uma subida na casa dos 47% face ao período homólogo.
O número de portugueses a conhecer Israel também subiu: foram duas mil pessoas, o que representa o dobro do registado no mês de junho de 2018. Esta evolução tem lugar numa altura em que se realizam 12 voos diretos semanais entre o Aeroporto da Portela e o Aeroporto Ben Gurion, sete dos quais da TAP e cinco da EL AL.
O embaixador de Israel em Portugal, Raphael Gamzou, em comunicado, nota que “apesar de os números ainda serem modestos, a tendência é bastante positiva”.
“Os israelitas têm vindo a visitar Portugal e a ficar apaixonados pelo país e pela amabilidade e hospitalidade do povo português, muitos deles regressando após a sua primeira experiência. Por outro lado, temos a expectativa de vir a receber mais e mais portugueses em Israel e ficamos muito felizes com o aumento desta tendência”, acrescentou o embaixador Raphael Gamzou.
A publicação israelita Globes indica ainda que, em junho, 132 mil turistas oriundos da América do Norte em junho – a maioria dos quais dos EUA -, ou seja mais 11% que em junho de 2018.
(TSF) Da passagem medieval por Castelo de Vide à sinagoga do Porto criada no século XX. Do imaginário literário à materialidade da saudade. A TSF seguiu a rota da memória sefardita por Portugal e nela encontrou a terra prometida.
Michael Rothwell leva o livro sagrado até à linha dos olhos e abre-o com reverência, diante de uma sinagoga calada, a 25 Sivan do ano hebraico de 5779. O calendário civil marca 28 de junho de 2019, uma sexta-feira, e faltam poucas horas para o pôr-do-sol que inicia o sabat, e que apenas se extingue, de acordo com o Génesis, ao aparecimento das primeiras três estrelas da noite de sábado.PUB
Aqui, em Portugal, não temos medo. O que temos é uma consciência histórica.
O templo está esvaziado da união de 10 homens de mais de 13 anos necessária ao serviço religioso, mas guarda a luz, sempre acesa, dirigida para Jerusalém. Para os judeus, a sinagoga tem de se orientar, como a própria ação o indica, para Oriente, onde o templo verdadeiro existiu em tempos.
“Escuta, Israel, o eterno é nosso Deus, o eterno é um. Bendito seja o nome daquele cujo glorioso reino é eterno. Amarás ao eterno, teu Deus, com todo o teu coração, com toda a tua alma e com todas as tuas posses.” As palavras são lidas da Tora, onde o hebraico e o português convivem como secularmente se falaram, sem empecilhos. A sinagoga portuense, Kadoorie – Mekor Haim (“Fonte de Vida”), a maior da Península Ibérica, reverbera as palavras de culto contra as paredes de azulejos com inspirações marroquinas, a favor da estrela de David.
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Com a eclosão da Guerra, as ideias de um projeto encantado desabaram. A ideia de resgate de marranos foi substituída pela necessidade da sobrevivência.
Michael Rothwell não ignora que há 500 anos poderia ser apanhado entre as rezas, pelos colarinhos, e levado até aos autos-de-fé. Há um peso histórico que se abate sobre os seus ombros, uma lembrança que vai sendo renovada, como uma história que tem várias formas de ser contada.
“Aqui, em Portugal, não temos medo. O que temos é uma consciência histórica, e sabemos que o que hoje está bem amanhã pode não estar”, confidencia, à TSF, o professor de matemática, inglês, de 65 anos. As sombras de uma mão pesada da Inquisição são apenas silenciadas nos programas escolares, onde a questão judaica, aponta, raras vezes encontra protagonismo.
“Luz simboliza vida, não é? Tem de se manter sempre acesa essa luz.” Foi debaixo deste ideal que a comunidade judaica do Porto foi criada há 96 anos, em 1923. Reza a história judaica que o militar Barros Basto, guiado pela motivação de fazer retornar ao judaísmo as famílias de cripto judeus/ marranos que tinham sido forçadas à conversão a partir de 1496. Em plenos anos 20, lembra Michael Rothwell, criar pontes entre as várias aldeias remotas de Portugal era uma tarefa hercúlea.
Ainda há orações em português e noutra língua muito rica, o ladino, formada com junção do espanhol e do português medievais.
Alguns jovens foram trazidos para o Porto para se tornarem líderes comunitários, depois de uma jornada penosa: “Não havia estradas, e ele ia a cavalo. Foram muito difíceis as viagens e as conversas com os cripto judeus, que por natureza escondiam a sua religião.”
Na escalada que antecedeu a II Grande Guerra, no entanto, “o capitão foi alvo de inveja e de ódio, acusado de crimes que não tinha cometido, pelo que foi afastado do exército”. Os marranos deixaram de sentir confiança no líder e regressaram às aldeias de origem. “Com a eclosão da Guerra, as ideias de um projeto encantado desabaram. A ideia de resgate de marranos foi substituída pela necessidade de sobrevivência”, conta o representante da maior sinagoga da península.
Muitas famílias ainda hoje possuem chaves medievais das suas casas em Portugal da altura em que receberam o édito de expulsão em 1496.
As obras tinham terminado em 1938, um ano particularmente dramático para os judeus, com novembro a assinalar a Kristallnacht (Noite de Cristal), em que dezenas de judeus foram violentadas até à morte e as suas lojas vandalizadas, até partir o orgulho judaico em mil pedaços de vidro que faziam sangrar no peito. “Provavelmente foi a única sinagoga inaugurada na Europa nesse ano.”
Ainda que o projeto de Barros Basto tenha sido deitado por terra nos seus primeiros anos, as sementes judaicas portuguesas tinham-se espalhado pelo mundo, sem que os fundamentalismos tivessem conseguido dizimá-las. “A cultura sefardita manteve-se ao longo dos séculos. Ainda há orações em português e noutra língua muito rica, o ladino, formada com junção do espanhol e do português medievais”, explica Michael Rothwell.
É praticamente impossível que alguém em Portugal não descenda desses judeus.
Hugo Vaz, 31 anos, um dos casos raros de conversão ao judaísmo, ergue um molho de chaves, que tilintam: “Um dos objetos mais representativos dessa presença é precisamente este. Muitas famílias ainda hoje possuem chaves medievais das suas casas em Portugal da altura em que receberam o édito de expulsão em 1496.”
“As casas já não existem, mas as chaves ainda existem”, completa o professor de 65 anos. Em tempo de diáspora, os judeus levaram pedaços de Portugal e Espanha dentro do coração e pelos quatro cantos do mundo. “Ainda hoje há pessoas na Turquia com avós que falam ladino e que conseguem chegar cá e entender-nos, sem que qualquer membro da família, desde 1497, tenha pousado os pés na Península Ibérica”, assevera o membro da direção da comunidade judaica do Porto.
Vem da inveja (…) Basta ver as estatísticas dos prémios Nobel para perceber que os judeus os ganham numa proporção bastante elevada.
Docente, Michael Rothwell volta-se para a História com a mesma ênfase com que soma conhecimentos matemáticos. Na perspetiva do inglês radicado em Portugal, é urgente rever os manuais escolares. “Muitas pessoas, senão todas, têm raízes judaicas em Portugal. Depois da expulsão decretada em Espanha, em 1492, estimamos que 100 mil judeus de Espanha se tenham juntado aos 100 mil que já havia em Portugal, o que perfazia 20% de população judaica. É praticamente impossível que alguém em Portugal não descenda desses judeus.”
De acordo com Michael Rothwell, a comunidade judaica prefere manter-se discreta, resguardada do antissemitismo que “vem da inveja, porque há, sem dúvida, muitos judeus bem-sucedidos e inteligentes”.”Basta ver as estatísticas dos prémios Nobel para perceber que os judeus os ganham numa proporção bastante elevada relativamente à sua quantidade”, concretiza.
Uma comunidade pequena, sobre a qual ainda são apregoadas “teorias da conspiração”, com um léxico português a favorecer preconceitos. As expressões ‘és como um judeu’ ou ‘judiarias’ não encontraram trava-línguas com o passar dos séculos e radicaram-se na cultura do país.
A chave que voltou a casa, 400 anos depois
Foi em Castelo de Vide, no nordeste alentejano e a 12 quilómetros de Espanha, que se construiu uma das mais antigas e significativas ruas de habitações judaicas portuguesas. É um marrano que anda pela judiaria (no Priberam, ‘bairro de judeus’ ou ‘reunião ou conjunto de judeus’) sem travessura, mas com o olhar atento sobre os menorás – candelabros de sete braços – estilizados na pedra à porta das casas e sobre as reentrâncias onde se guardavam as escrituras judaicas sagradas.
Carolino Tapadejo, antigo autarca e estudioso dos assuntos sefarditas em colaboração com a Universidade Hebraica de Jerusalém, conta de cor as origens da História judaica em Castelo de Vide, que são também as páginas escritas pelos seus antepassados. E inicia-se assim: quando, em 1320, 17 famílias hebraicas se estabelecem na vila pertencente ao concelho de Portalegre. “Com o tempo, juntaram-se muitas outras famílias na rua da judiaria.”
Com a chegada da Inquisição a Portugal, em 1536, a lista de vítimas assassinadas em autos-de-fé avolumou-se, e o branco no preto não mente: foram mais mulheres perseguidas, para que se quebrasse o vínculo da educação judaica que a progenitora passaria aos filhos. Clara Mendes, Catarina Gomes, a Bonita, Isabel Gomes, Beatriz Henriques, Violante Lopes, Mécia Rodrigues, Inês Tristôa, Leonor Vaz. Estes são apenas alguns dos nomes por que Mário Soares, Presidente da República em 1989, pediu perdão “em nome de Portugal”.
Sefarad transformou-se quase num mito.
Em compromissos velados, algumas casas mantiveram as práticas (e as sinagogas escondidas) que o judaísmo lhes instruíra. Os cripto judeus, forçados à conversão por um batismo na fonte central da vila, continuaram a dizer ‘dessa água não beberei’, no que ao catolicismo dizia respeito, tudo isto consagrado em rituais secretos e à sombra do medo. “As minhas vizinhas, nas sextas-feiras à tarde, faziam umas cerimónias que eu nunca compreendi, e uma delas colocava aqui uma vela [retira a tampa de um jarro de argila]. Ela cortava em pedaços o rebordo do recipiente para lá dentro poder alojar a candeia. Dizia que a luz não podia ser vista da rua. Faziam isto sem saber explicar muito bem porquê”, recorda Carolino Tapadejo, em entrevista à TSF.
O entusiasta que já passou por Espanha, Grécia, Itália, França, Inglaterra, Bélgica, Alemanha, Dinamarca, Suécia, Finlândia, Canadá e Brasil numa cruzada com recurso apenas ao dom da palavra veio a encontrar uma das histórias de amor à terra mais surpreendentes em Israel.
“Estive a dar uma palestra numa universidade a norte de Telavive. Quando já estava a sair do palco, uma das senhoras, já idosa e muito doente, disse-me, num ladino muito alterado: ‘Eu sou de Castelo de Vide, mas eu nunca lá fui.’ Eu disse-lhe que não tinha compreendido, e ela respondeu-me: ‘A minha família fugiu de Castelo de Vide, na primeira metade do século XVI, para o Império Otomano; Constantinopla, depois Istambul, mas sempre me disseram que a minha terra era Castelo de Vide. Eu vi que vinha cá um homem da minha terra-mãe, e quis vir ouvi-lo.'” A castelo-vidense, deslocada em geografia mas nunca em identidade, percorreu mais de 170 quilómetros, porque não tinha descendentes, estava com cancro e só queria voltar a casa.
Foi em 2015 que se fechou o último capítulo de um livro há tanto tempo guardado nas prateleiras do legado familiar. Chegada a Castelo de Vide, “a senhora depositou nas minhas mãos a chave medieval e os nomes da rua e de umas vizinhas”. Guardião da casa e da História dos seus conterrâneos espalhados pelo mundo, Carolino Tapadejo afiança: é a primeira vez que uma chave daquela época retorna à porta que em tempos abriu.
Em ladino, também se diz ‘saudade’
“É interessantíssimo como chegámos ao século XX e depois ao século XXI com uma diáspora de judeus pelo mundo que mantém uma lagrimazinha no cantinho do olho quando se fala de Sefarad. Sefarad transformou-se quase num mito, o que significa que muitos judeus de origem portuguesa hoje procuram Portugal para fazer uma arqueologia da sua memória.” As palavras são de Paulo Mendes Pinto, coordenador da área de Ciência das Religiões da Universidade Lusófona.
A História dos judeus em Portugal é fascinante, dramática, mas maravilhosa.
Sefarad – Portugal e Espanha – permaneceu no imaginário destas famílias obrigadas a abandonar o território peninsular como uma terra de esperança, uma terra onde foram felizes, onde houve prosperidade e possibilidade de diálogo, desde a época do domínio islâmico e até à primeira dinastia. “Efetivamente, para muitos judeus sefarditas, o fim da história não é Jerusalém. O fim da história é Portugal e Espanha”, analisa o embaixador do Parlamento Mundial das Religiões e fundador da European Academy of Religions.
Capítulos que ainda não encerraram com um final feliz encontraram oportunidades de reconstruir a imagem idílica que estes antepassados longínquos têm de terras lusas. Desde 2016, mais de 2100 sefarditas solicitaram cidadania portuguesa, e, no final de junho de 2018, os israelitas já se encontravam em segundo lugar entre os candidatos à nacionalidade portuguesa. De portas abertas, Portugal dificilmente voltará a sofrer fenómenos de perseguição à comunidade judaica, de acordo com Paulo Mendes Pinto, que explica: “Curiosamente, nós não temos o antissemitismo que grassa pela Europa central. A maioria dos portugueses garantidamente nunca se cruzou na rua com um judeu, e, mesmo que tivesse cruzado, não o saberia.”
Com mais literacia e cuidados com a higiene que os demais habitantes medievais das vilas e centros urbanos, os judeus foram ostracizados e incompreendidos. “O judeu começa a ser visto como o bode expiatório por todas as situações que corram mal: pode ser um ano em que há fome, pode ser um ano de peste, pode ser uma fonte com água contaminada”, revela o autor, que aponta que os judeus mais religiosos não adoeciam por terem já hábitos de desinfeção, limpeza e fervura das roupas usadas.
As pessoas tinham medo e não queriam investigar ascendência judaica nas suas árvores genealógicas. Era um tabu.
O Bar Mitzvá, realizado aos 13 anos no caso dos rapazes e aos 12 para as raparigas, obrigava também a que todos comungassem da literacia para que, sem dificuldades, dissessem as palavras sagradas. “Aos 12 anos, qualquer judeu é letrado, sabe ler e escrever. Temos provas de que funcionava assim, e isso lançava sobre eles um olhar incómodo da turbe cristã analfabeta. No século XV, alguém que é letrado, tem conhecimentos de matemática e consegue calcular juros e percentagens está muito mais preparado para ter sucesso.”
“Fisicamente, habitamos um espaço, mas, sentimentalmente, somos habitados por uma memória”
Para ter sucesso e para gerir as finanças das grandes instituições portuguesas. “A História dos judeus em Portugal é fascinante, dramática, mas maravilhosa. Antes da conversão forçada, todas as cidades e aldeias tinham uma comunidade judaica. Eram sapateiros, mercadores, alfaiates e participavam ativamente na vida pública. Tiveram também a sua participação nos Descobrimentos.” É assim que Richard Zimler, autor de 11 romances, levanta o véu ao que desvelou, desde 1996, data de publicação d’O Último Cabalista de Lisboa.
Muitos poetas sefarditas escreveram sobre a saudade que tinham de Segóvia, Granada, Toledo, Barcelona, Valência, Lisboa, Évora ou Porto.
“Começava ao mesmo tempo a compreender que, ao voltar para Lisboa, me era dada a possibilidade de reparar o desvio do meu destino”, está escrito nas primeiras páginas. Longe desse mergulho iniciático, Richard Zimler, mais judeu por identidade do que por crença, norte-americano, português, filho de um marxista que considerava ser a religião o “ópio do povo”, continua a encarar com fascínio a presença sefardita na Península Ibérica.
“O que mais me espantou, quando comecei a escrever ‘O Último Cabalista de Lisboa’, foi que, sempre que eu falava com os meus amigos sobre o massacre de Lisboa de 1506, em que milhares de cristãos-novos foram queimados e mortos no Rossio, todos eles – advogados, médicos e professores catedráticos – respondiam: ‘Mas qual massacre?’ Ninguém sabia de nada, talvez apenas meia dúzia de peritos”, recorda Richard Zimler. O estigma fazia com que nem mesmo o código genético e as raízes dos portugueses lhes fossem assuntos familiares: “As pessoas tinham medo e não queriam investigar a ascendência judaica nas suas árvores genealógicas. Era um tabu, porque aprenderam, depois de 240 anos de Inquisição e de 50 anos de ditadura, a não falar de certos temas como o judaísmo.”
Numa mesa de café, à roda das conversas mundanas, o autor, cidadão de Nova Iorque, Porto, Lisboa, Israel, mundo, faz questão de lembrar que os próximos tempos testarão a abertura e flexibilidade da jovem democracia portuguesa. “Fisicamente, habitamos um espaço, mas, sentimentalmente, somos habitados por uma memória.” É a frase de José Saramago que ali se entrelaça nas ideias e convicções do também jornalista.
“A terra prometida, para os judeus sefarditas, não era a Palestina. Era Espanha e Portugal. Muitos poetas sefarditas escreveram sobre a saudade que tinham de Segóvia, Granada, Toledo, Barcelona, Valência, Lisboa, Évora ou Porto.” Podiam não falar um português perfeito, mas sabiam como soa, quando bate, a palavra ‘saudade’.
Embaixadores do judaísmo português da época moderna
Para José Oulman Carp, antigo presidente da Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa, basta abrir o álbum de família para compreender como a História de Portugal se dilui, anónima e indistintamente, no legado dos judeus sefarditas. O primeiro registo que encontra data de 1818, ano em que Abraão Bensaúde retorna aos Açores, à ilha de São Miguel, por ainda constatar que, no território continental, o cenário não era nada católico, ou, por outra, era demasiado católico.
“A minha família chegou a Marrocos com o nome Hassiboni. No cemitério judaico de Ponta Delgada – um cemitério muito bonito, aliás, e com um nome muito adequado para um cemitério, que é Campo da Igualdade -, as campas mais antigas são de Bensaúde, depois de Hassiboni, e, mais tarde, voltam a ser Bensaúde”, conta. Os primeiros retornados judeus pós-Inquisição iniciaram a edificação da mais antiga sinagoga portuguesa desde a perseguição cristã em Ponta Delgada, logo no ano de 1836.
Pioneiros na exportação da laranja açoriana, fundadores da fábrica de tabaco micaelense e donos de estufas de ananases, os Bensaúde, família judaica, impulsionaram a economia da região insular. Os conhecimentos eram trazidos do estrangeiro, onde os mais novos estudavam, porque, “nos finais do século XIX, os judeus não podiam frequentar universidades portuguesas”.
José Oulman Carp detém-se sobre cada uma das fotografias, e, entre os dedos, desfia as contribuições mais diretas dos seus familiares. “A Matilde era uma mulher notável, que estudou em Portugal e nos Estados Unidos, e introduziu o certificado fitossanitário, que hoje ainda é utilizado em muitas transações de mercadorias.”
“O Joaquim foi engenheiro e historiador. Publicou cerca de 300 livros, todos sobre o período das viagens de circum-navegação”, continua. “O Alfredo Bensaúde fundou o Instituto Superior Técnico.” José Oulman Carp é também sobrinho de Alain Oulman, poeta e compositor de fados cantados por Amália Rodrigues.
Portugueses, judeus, comerciantes, engenheiros e artistas, devolveram a diversidade religiosa e cultural ao país. “Cada pessoa é uma planta de estufa. Precisamos de luz, de água, de terra. Temos de cuidar uns dos outros, sobretudo quando somos uma comunidade tão pequena. Ser presidente da comunidade foi como ser um jardineiro que cuida desta página da História do judaísmo”, conclui José Oulman Carp.
(JP) Portugal has approved about a third of approximately 33,000 applications for citizenship under its 2015 law for descendants of Sephardic Jews
View of Lisbon, Portugal.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Portugal has approved about a third of approximately 33,000 applications for citizenship under its 2015 law for descendants of Sephardic Jews, according to official data.Applications based on the 2015 law, primarily from Israel, Turkey, Brazil and Venezuela, are behind a 10-percent increase in applications in 2018, which saw 41,324 such requests in 2018, the Publico magazine in Portugal reported last month. It was the highest tally in at least five years.The report did not say how many applications have been declined.
Israel, which used to provide Portugal with no more than a few dozen new citizens per year before 2015, provided 4,289 applications in 2018 — the second-highest number of any country after Brazil. Israelis submitted more applications for naturalization than even former Portuguese colonies like Cape Verde (4,259) and Angola (1,953.)
Citizens of Turkey, who in past years had made few applications for Portugal citizenship, accounted for 1,141 last years. Venezuelans submitted 562 such requests.
The Foreigners and Borders Service told Publico the increase owed primarily to the law about descendants of Sephardi Jews passed in 2015.
Portugal passed that law shortly before Spain passed a similar law, which is more restrictive and ends in October 2019. Thousands of descendants of Sephardim have obtained Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s law is open-ended. Both countries said the law was to atone for the Church-led persecution of Jews in the 15th and 16th centuries, known as the Inquisition.
The Israeli company behind WhatsApp hack earlier this May has developed new technology that can clandestinely steal a user’s data from Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft.
According to The Financial Times — which reported the development — NSO Group’s Pegasus malware “has now evolved to capture the much greater trove of information stored beyond the phone in the cloud, such as a full history of a target’s location data, archived messages or photo.”Tired of cleaning your room? This robot does it for youEverybody hates tidying up, so this Japanese company made a robot that can do it for you. Now you can just chill while this bot turns your pile of shame into a liveable space.
Upon installation on the target’s phone, the new capability works by copying the login credentials of various services like Facebook Messenger, Google Cloud, iCloud, and others, and then using a separate server to mimic the phone, including its location.
This server then syncs all the information, including messages, photos, and location history, from the ‘connected’ device, and relays them back to the surveillance operators.
The report further states that the number of people whose cloud accounts may have been targeted by this latest technique is not yet known, although it appears NSO’s parent company Q-Cyber pitched the service to the government of Uganda.
NSO Group is known for working with governments to install Pegasus spyware. It features advanced capabilities to jailbreak or root an infected mobile device, turn on the phone’s microphone and camera, scan emails and messages, and collect all sorts of sensitive information.
In May, the FT discovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp’s audio call feature that allowed attackers to inject iPhones and Androids with Pegasus. This prompted the Facebook-owned messaging service to issue a server-side update to patch the exploit.
The company maintains that its software is only sold to responsible governments to help foil terrorist attacks and crimes. But Pegasus has been found to be misused to track human rights activists and journalists around the world.
The report further states that while NSO Group denied building hacking or mass-surveillance tools for cloud services, it did not specifically deny that it had developed the new surveillance feature. Some of the big tech companies mentioned in the report are now said to be investigating the claims at their end.
The new revelations come at a time when cloud adoption is accelerating at a rapid pace, with security and privacy emerging a top priority for major service providers. Risks from data loss and leakage remains a huge barrier to wider cloud adoption.
Cybersecurity firm Check Point’s 2019 Cloud Security Report early this week cited unauthorized cloud access and account hijacking as some of the major cloud vulnerabilities, stressing the need for stronger authentication mechanisms to safeguard users against such stealth attacks.
The Brussels-based American Jewish Committee (AJC) Transatlantic Institute announced on Tuesday in the European Parliament an inter-parliamentary Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group. The goal is to “strengthen the trilateral partnership between the US, Israel and Europe”. The chairman of the group, Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl, said he considered “the transatlantic alliance with Israel one of the most important issues of our time”.
The internal Labour row over anti-Semitism has dragged on for nearly three years. Here’s a guide to what’s been going on.
What is anti-Semitism?
Jewish people have faced prejudice and hostility for centuries. During World War II, six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis or their accomplices in what is known as the Holocaust.
Modern-day anti-Semitism can take many forms including, but not limited to, conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the global financial system and the media, to attacks on synagogues, verbal abuse or hate speech and abusive memes on social media.
In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a working definition of anti-Semitism which described it as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”.
The UK and the IHRA’s other 30 members accepted the definition, as well as a series of accompanying “contemporary” examples of how anti-Semitism manifests itself in public life.
These include Holocaust denial, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (through the existence of the State of Israel), and holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of that state.
Labour got itself into trouble over the definition – as we’ll explain later.
How does it relate to Israel?
Debates about anti-Semitism in Labour often involve Israel and the term “Zionism”.
In its modern sense, Zionism refers to support for Israel’s existence and prosperity. It began as a political movement in Europe in the late 19th Century which sought to develop Jewish nationhood in the land known as Palestine – also known to Jews as the ancient Land of Israel.
The movement evolved and eventually led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Some say “Zionist” can be used as a coded attack on Jewish people, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism.
Attitudes to Israel in the UK, and on the left in particular, are influenced by its troubled relationship with its Arab neighbours and its long conflict with the Palestinians.
A 2016 report by the Home Affairs Committee of MPs backed the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism but said it should include an additional statement to maintain freedom of speech “in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine”.
This, it said, should read “it is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli government without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent” or to hold Israel “to the same standards as other liberal democracies or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest ant-Semitic intent”.
Anti-Semitism was generally not regarded as a big problem in the Labour Party before Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader in September 2015.
Since then, things have changed, with Mr Corbyn and other figures on the left setting a new political direction.
There has been an influx of new members, many of whom are vocal critics of Israel and who believe the UK, along with the US, should be tougher towards Israel, especially regarding its policies towards the Palestinians and its building of settlements in the occupied territories.
The strength of the left’s support for Palestinian statehood, which Jeremy Corbyn has championed for decades, contrasts with the more nuanced position taken by many of his predecessors.
As the balance of power within Labour changed after Mr Corbyn’s appointment, attention quickly focused on what activists and elected representatives were saying – and had said in the past – on social media and elsewhere about Israel and Jewish people.
There were claims that anti-Semitic tropes were being widely propagated and a number of incidents attracted a great deal of attention.
High-profile suspensions over alleged anti-Semitic comments include MP Naz Shah, the ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone and MP Chris Williamson, an ally and friend of Mr Corbyn.
Ms Shah apologised for a string of comments on Twitter, including one suggesting Israel should be moved to the United States, although she was subsequently re-instated.
Labour has never confirmed the number of anti-Semitism cases it is investigating and the scale of the issue among its supporters has become a source of political dispute itself.
In April 2019, the Sunday Times reported that Labour had received 863 complaints against party members, including councillors.
The newspaper claimed leaked e-mails it had seen showed more than half of the cases remained unresolved while there had been no investigation in 28% of them.
It said fewer than 30 people had been expelled while members investigated for posting online comments such as “Heil Hitler” and “Jews are the problem” had not been suspended.
Labour disputed the reports while Jewish Voice for Labour, a newly constituted group supportive of Mr Corbyn, maintained the number of cases being investigated represented a tiny fraction of Labour’s 500,000 plus membership.
What has Labour done in response?
Not nearly enough, say its critics.
In 2016, Mr Corbyn asked the barrister and human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti – who was appointed a Labour peer soon after her report was published – to look into the extent of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism within the party.
The report concluded that while Labour was not “overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism”, there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”.
It called for a series of recommendations to tackle what it said was the “clear evidence of ignorant attitudes” within sections of the party.
Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby says she has strengthened and speeded up the party’s disciplinary procedures, with more staff to handle investigations but Baroness Chakrabarti – now Labour’s shadow attorney general – has criticised the pace of progress.
The Home Affairs Committee’s 2016 report said the leadership’s lack of action “risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic”.
This, in turn, led to complaints from prominent Jewish MPs that he was too close to the party for any review to be independent.
But in a politically damaging move, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced it would be conducting its own wide-ranging investigation into whether Labour “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”.
Labour said it would co-operate fully with the watchdog.
It is only the second time the EHRC has investigated a political party – in 2010, it ordered the BNP to re-write its constitution to comply with race relation laws.
A Labour spokesman rejected “any suggestion that the party does not handle ant-Semitism complaints fairly and robustly, or that the party has acted unlawfully”.
In July 2018, Labour adopted a new anti-Semitism code which critics, including Jewish leaders and some Labour MPs, said fell unacceptably short of the IHRA definition.
Labour’s version did not include a number of its examples of anti-Semitism, including:
accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country
requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations
Following a consultation – and widespread criticism – Labour subsequently adopted the full IHRA definition and examples, along with an accompanying statement that “this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians”.
Critics have said the addition of a “caveat” undermines the IHRA definition – but Labour says it is intended to reassure members they can be critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic.
Mr Corbyn proposed a longer additional statement – which would have allowed criticism of the foundation of the state of Israel as a racist endeavour – but this was not accepted by the party’s ruling executive.
Jeremy Corbyn’s views
Jeremy Corbyn has insisted time and time again there is no place for anti-Semitism in Labour.
Some of his supporters say the problem has been exaggerated and is being used as a stick to beat the Labour leader by people who don’t like him or his views on the Middle East.
He comes from a different political tradition than virtually every other post-war Labour leader, having campaigned for 40 years against Western imperialism and aggression.
Mr Corbyn’s opponents accuse him of being too close to Hamas, a militant Islamist group, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese paramilitary group. Both groups are widely viewed in the West as terrorist organisations.
He described representatives of Hamas as his “friends” after inviting them to a controversial meeting in Parliament in 2009.
He later said he regretted his use of language, but insisted his motivation in talking to enemies of Israel was the promotion of peace in the Middle East.
But his critics argue his views have created the space for anti-Semitism to flourish in the party and he has condoned anti-Jewish prejudice through several of his own actions.
The ‘English irony’ video
Mr Corbyn faced criticism in August 2018 after a video emerged on the Daily Mail website of a 2013 clip in which he said a group of British Zionists had “no sense of English irony”.
Former chief rabbi Lord Sacks branded the comments “the most offensive statement” by a politician since Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech and accused the Labour leader of being an anti-Semite.
Mr Corbyn said he had used the term “Zionist” in an “accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”.
He added: “I am now more careful with how I might use the term ‘Zionist’ because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.”
It isn’t the only row he has been embroiled in, though.
The Tunis wreath row
In August 2018, the Labour leader also came under fire over his presence at a ceremony in Tunisia in 2014 which is said to have honoured the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre, during which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by Palestinian militants and killed.
The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Mr Corbyn deserved “unequivocal condemnation” for laying a wreath on the grave of one of those behind the atrocity.
The Labour leader tweeted that Mr Netanyahu’s claims about his “actions and words are false”, adding: “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
Mr Corbyn said he had attended the event in Tunis as part of a wider event about the search for peace.
Earlier in August 2018, Jeremy Corbyn apologised over an event he hosted as a backbench MP in 2010 where a Holocaust survivor compared Israel to Nazism.
After the Times published details of the event, the Labour leader said he had “on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject” and was sorry for the “concerns and anxiety that this has caused”.
Unease within Labour ranks in Parliament intensified in 2017 and 2018 amid concerns the leadership was not doing enough to defend Jewish MPs, such as Luciana Berger, who were themselves the targets of anti-Semitic abuse and death threats.
In March 2018, scores of Labour MPs joined Jewish groups, including the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and other anti-racism campaigners to demand action in an unprecedented “Enough is Enough” rally outside Parliament.
In a further sign of the breakdown in trust between Labour and the Jewish community, the Jewish Labour Movement considered severing its century-old affiliation to the party.
While deciding to retain its ties, the organisation of 2,000 members did pass a motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn and voted to describe the party as “institutionally anti-Semitic”.
In February 2019, nine MPs quit Labour, many of them citing the leadership’s handling of anti-Semitism as their reason for leaving.
Ms Berger, who had a police escort at the 2018 Labour Party conference, said she had come to the “sickening conclusion” that the party had become institutionally anti-Semitic and that she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.
Ms Berger’s supporters, including deputy leader Tom Watson, claimed she has been “bullied out of her own party by racist thugs”.
Among the other defectors, Joan Ryan claimed the party had “become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism” while Ian Austin blamed Mr Corbyn for “creating a culture of extremism and intolerance”.
What else has happened?
In March 2018, the head of the Labour Party’s disputes panel quit after it emerged she had opposed the suspension of a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.
Christine Shawcroft said she had not not been aware of the “abhorrent” Facebook post that had led to his suspension
In July 2018, the UK’s three main Jewish newspapers published the same front page, warning that a government led by Mr Corbyn would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life”.
Earlier that month the party brought disciplinary action against the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, after she reportedly called Mr Corbyn an “anti-Semite” and a “racist”.
Ms Hodge refused to apologise and the action was later dropped.
Frank Field, the MP for Birkenhead since 1979, quit the party’s group in Parliament in August 2018, saying the leadership had become “a force for anti-Semitism in British politics”.
In May 2019, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee – Peter Willsman – was suspended after LBC radio reported he had been recorded as saying that the Israeli embassy was “almost certainly” behind the anti-Semitism row.
And Labour’s successful candidate in the Peterborough by-election, Lisa Forbes, was engulfed in a row after it emerged she had liked a social media post suggesting Theresa May had a “Zionist slave masters agenda”.
She apologised and calls for her to be suspended were rejected but the controversy led to fresh ructions and claims racism had become “institutionalised” within the party.
Muitos brasileiros já conhecem o direito à cidadania portuguesa por meio da comprovação sefardita. Os judeus sefarditas viveram na Península Ibérica, foram perseguidos pelo Estado e pela Inquisição e se espalharam por diversos países, inclusive o Brasil. Essa reportagem mostra como descendentes dessa mesma comunidade, só que em outros países, como o Reino Unido, começam a olhar agora para as possibilidades de ter também a nacionalidade portuguesa. As razões são variadas – a saída do Reino Unido da União Europeia é uma delas.
Três anos atrás, Alex Abrahams folheava as páginas de um jornal quando viu um anúncio que acabaria mudando sua identidade.
“Os governos da Espanha e de Portugal aprovaram leis de restituição para oferecer cidadania aos descendentes daqueles expulsos pelas inquisições espanhola e portuguesa no final do século 15 e início do século 16.”
Alex, advogado de 32 anos, é britânico e viveu em Londres por toda a sua vida. Como muitos judeus britânicos, seus ancestrais foram para o Reino Unido nos primeiros anos do século 20 para escapar do caos político e civil na Europa.
A família da mãe de Alex migrou para a Grã-Bretanha em 1914 a fim de escapar da Guerra nos Bálcãs. Eles saíram de Salônica – atual região da Tessalônica na Grécia – onde viveram por gerações. Era bastante sabido que os judeus de Salônica tinham se estabelecido lá depois de terem sido expulsos da Espanha e Portugal séculos antes.nullTalvez também te interesse
Segundo Alex, seu avô lhe disse para nunca esquecer que ele era um sefardita (nome dos judeus originalmente oriundos da península Ibérica).
“É parte da minha identidade”, explica Alex. “Meu avô, apesar de ter nascido em Londres, falou com sua família em ladino, um espanhol medieval com pronúncia próximo do português, cheio de pedaços de turco, italiano e hebraico.”
A herança também era culinária, como Alex lembra: “Ele e minha avó costumavam cozinhar algo chamado bimuelos durante a Páscoa. Eles são basicamente donuts feitos de matsá”. Alex ri e maliciosamente acrescenta: “Eles ficam OK se você colocar mel neles”.
Três anos depois de ver esse anúncio, Alex acaba de se tornar pai pela primeira vez. Ele também está se tornando português, apesar de ter ido ao país duas vezes.
Para ele, é uma forma de reconhecer formalmente uma parte fundamental de sua identidade. “Eu sei que soa como um elo incrivelmente tênue considerando quantas gerações da família você tem que atravessar da Idade Média até agora. Mas metade da minha família vem dessa comunidade e dessas tradições. Eu acho que se meus avós e bisavós e seus antepassados estivessem vivos hoje, eles aproveitariam a oportunidade também.”
Séculos de exílio
As ruas do bairro de Alfama, em Lisboa, são sinuosas, pavimentadas e atmosféricas. Os turistas são atraídos à área para ter uma ideia do que a cidade medieval teria sido.
Ruth Calvao, do Centro de Estudos Judaicos em Trás-os-Montes, gesticula em frente a uma parede de pedra muito antiga e rústica sob o forte sol de primavera de Lisboa. Apesar da estrutura antiga, o local ainda parece que poderia suportar qualquer tipo de ataque militar moderno.
Este é o local do antigo bairro judeu da cidade, situado ao lado da antiga muralha da cidade. Uma placa de rua diz: “Rua da Judiaria”. A história que termina em pessoas como Alex Abrahams começou em bairros como este.
Em 1492, os monarcas espanhóis, Fernando e Isabel, emitiram o Decreto de Alhambra, expulsando os judeus dos reinos de Castela e Aragão. Dezenas de milhares de judeus procuraram refúgio na fronteira com Portugal.
Um padre português, Andrés Bernáldez, observou à época como os refugiados “caminhavam pelas estradas e pelos campos com grande dificuldade e desgraça, com alguns deles caindo, alguns deles morrendo, outros nascendo e todo cristão sentia pena de eles.”
No pico deste influxo, estima-se que até um quinto da população inteira de Portugal seja judia. Ruth – que nasceu na aristocracia católica, mas depois se converteu ao judaísmo – descreve a crise dos refugiados: “Todos os bairros judeus estavam transbordando por causa de todas essas pessoas que vinham sem parar”.
Em 1495, Manuel 1º ascendeu ao trono de Portugal. Embora primeiro visto como amigável para a população judaica, ele queria se casar com a filha de Fernando e Isabel, a Infanta de Aragão. Como parte do contrato de casamento, os governantes espanhóis insistiram que o mandatário português adotasse as mesmas restrições para os judeus de Portugal.
Em 5 de dezembro de 1496, Manuel 1º ordenou a expulsão de todos os judeus que não se convertessem ao catolicismo. Alguns partiram, mas quando a política entrou em vigor, Manuel hesitou e até tentou retardar a partida dos judeus.
“Ele era muito ambíguo sobre isso”, diz Ruth. “Sabia que muitas das finanças de Portugal estavam em mãos judaicas – como portos, negócios e a construção das caravelas que ajudaram na descoberta do Novo Mundo. Ele não queria que os judeus fossem embora, por isso ele encenou conversões forçadas.”
No centro de Lisboa, Ruth mostra onde uma conversão em massa envolvendo 20 mil judeus ocorreu no final de 1497. Reunidos em um pátio, foram encharcados com água batismal. Esses judeus convertidos ficaram conhecidos como “cristãos novos”.
Apesar da conversão, os cristãos-novos enfrentaram restrições sobre seus direitos legais, financeiros e civis, bem como ameaças à segurança. Sob o herdeiro de Manuel, João 3º, a Inquisição foi criada em Portugal em 1536, com foco em novos cristãos suspeitos de secretamente praticar sua antiga fé. Acredita-se que mais de 40.000 pessoas foram indiciadas pela Inquisição, que durou até 1821, embora o último teste público tenha ocorrido em 1765.
Em 1506, uma multidão de Lisboa invadiu um dos antigos bairros judeus da cidade e massacrou cerca de 3.000 pessoas – incluindo mulheres e crianças. O massacre é lembrado ali por um monumento fora da igreja de São Domingos – metade de um orbe de pedra com uma estrela de David de metal. A peça foi inaugurada em 2006 e prega um espírito de tolerância no lugar do fanatismo.
O massacre desencadeou outra onda de emigração. O império otomano, sob o sultão Bayezid 2º, colheu os dividendos ao oferecer refúgio aos judeus exilados – incluindo os ancestrais de Alex na região que era a então Salônica.
Em 2013, os parlamentares portugueses aprovaram por unanimidade uma lei que permite aos descendentes de judeus sefarditas requererem a nacionalidade em Portugal. O projeto partiu de uma ideia da ex-ministra da Saúde do país Maria De Belém Roseira.
“Quando eu estava no ensino médio e li a história, nunca entendi por que Portugal havia institucionalizado a Inquisição”, diz ela. Isso a incomodou ao longo dos anos até decidir agir.
“Não se pode recuperar as coisas como eram antes. Mas você pode dizer que foi um erro e foi inaceitável. Quando temos o poder de reparar uma injustiça, devemos fazer isso.”
Maria afirma que os eventos dos séculos 15 e 16 ainda são relevantes para a política atual: “Não podemos assinar tratados internacionais sobre direitos humanos, tolerância e igualdade se perseguimos pessoas por causa de suas crenças. Na política, você tem que dar as sinalizações corretas”.
A Espanha também aprovou uma lei semelhante, mas decidiu colocar um limite de tempo nos pedidos e exigiu que candidatos passassem por um teste de idioma. “Nossa lei era mais ampla”, diz a ex-ministra. “Isso foi algo que aconteceu cinco séculos atrás. Por isso, queríamos dar às pessoas a oportunidade de ver suas raízes e suas famílias. Isso não é uma questão de tempo.”
Por essa razão, muitos judeus sefarditas optaram por solicitar a cidadania portuguesa. De qualquer forma, muitos de seus ancestrais teriam cruzado a fronteira da Espanha para Portugal como refugiados.
Hoje, Ruth Calvao recebe mensagens de muitos grupos ligados a comunidades dessa diáspora – especialmente da Turquia. Ela vai mostrar a dez famílias turcas judaicas uma área em torno do Porto neste verão. “Eles realmente querem ver suas raízes”, diz ela. “É tão lindo.”
A Lei do Retorno
A Sinagoga de Lisboa foi construída no início dos anos 1900 por judeus que haviam retornado de um longo exílio no Marrocos e em Gibraltar.
O edifício tem bancos de madeira com 12 pilares elegantes que sustentam uma galeria superior. Na frente, há um friso de mosaicos cintilantes sobre a arca que contém rolos da Torá. Acima disso, esculpida em pedra, está a inscrição em hebraico, em tradução livre: “Saiba diante de quem você está”.
A equipe fica surpresa com o número de pedidos de cidadania portuguesa. Para ajudar o governo, eles emitiram certificados para aqueles que podem provar que têm ascendência sefardita. Depois disso, os candidatos devem solicitar, por meio do Ministério da Justiça, o processo formal de naturalização.
Gabriel Steinhardt preside a comunidade judaica em Lisboa. Embora ele próprio seja descendente de judeus asquenazes (da Europa Oriental e da Rússia), nasceu em Portugal e, portanto, as novas leis de nacionalidade têm para ele mais uma influência emocional.
“Eu chamo de a Lei do Retorno”, diz ele, “permitindo que os judeus recebessem de volta um passaporte que normalmente estariam segurando se seus ancestrais não tivessem sido forçados a sair. É o fechamento de um círculo de reconciliação entre os judeus e Portugal.”
Desde 2015 (quando as leis entraram em vigor), cerca de 30 mil pessoas se inscreveram no Ministério da Justiça. Destes, cerca de 25% – ou pouco mais de 7.000 – já possuem nacionalidade portuguesa. O maior grupo de candidatos é de Israel, depois da Turquia e do Brasil.
Uma das pessoas que mais sabe sobre as motivações desses candidatos é o advogado israelense de imigração Yoram Zara.
Segundo ele, um grande número de turcos judeus logo se candidatou por causa da instabilidade política em seu país.
Quanto aos candidatos israelenses, Yoram diz que muitas vezes eles buscam “um passaporte da UE porque é meio que um símbolo de status – e para ter acesso à fila rápida no controle das fronteiras”. Mas há também um ponto mais sério: “Não faz muito tempo que os judeus foram perseguidos e se você tivesse os documentos certos, poderia escapar do seu destino. Então, mal não faz ter outra identidade”.
E quanto ao Brexit, processo de saída do Reino Unido da União Europeia? Resultou em muitas candidaturas britânicas?
“No dia em que os resultados do referendo foram anunciados, meu telefone não parava de tocar, e os e-mails lotaram minha caixa de entrada”, diz Yoram. “Foi um pânico”, diz, mas agora o fluxo se “acalmou muito”.
Provar a herança sefardita pode ser feita de várias maneiras diferentes. Muitas pessoas conseguiram desenhar árvores genealógicas usando registros de comunidades sefarditas estabelecidas, como a sinagoga Bevis Marks, na cidade de Londres, e a sinagoga Portuguesa, em Amsterdã.
Se, como Alex, você tiver fortes laços familiares com essa comunidade, talvez seja necessário apenas uma carta de um rabino e um documento familiar, como uma ketubá ou uma certidão de casamento.
Gabriel Steinhardt viu algumas famílias britânicas reconstituindo suas raízes familiares até o século 17, mas ele admite que são exceções. Houve relatos até de pessoas que apresentavam chaves enferrujadas de antigos domicílios familiares como prova.
“Eu conheço pelo menos dois casos de judeus da Turquia que guardaram chaves de casas em Portugal e as transmitiram por mais de 500 anos de geração em geração”, diz ele. “Obviamente, essas casas não existem mais, nem sabem onde ficavam as casas. Mas é uma história muito comovente.”
Outras evidências enviadas incluíram fotografias de lápides e gravações de canções cantadas por pais e avós, talvez em ladino, espanhol ou português.
Por meio de uma dessas demonstrações, o rabino Natan Peres, da sinagoga de Lisboa, canta uma tradicional oração de mesa em espanhol chamada Bendigamos: “É um exemplo de como os judeus que deixaram a península Ibérica mantinham uma conexão cultural e espiritual com suas pátrias”.
Gabriel explica que muitas vezes os nomes de família são uma boa pista, combinados com as regiões de origem das pessoas – por exemplo, as diásporas estabelecidas na Turquia ou no Marrocos.
“Entendemos e o governo português entende que, exceto em alguns casos muito raros, é difícil ter 100% de certeza. Mas é possível – com um alto nível de certeza – dizer que a pessoa candidata é descendente de uma família sefardita. “
Gabriel diz que hoje há cerca de 1.500 judeus praticantes em Portugal – no último censo, 5.000 pessoas se identificaram como judias. É uma das menores populações da União Europeia.
“Nossa grande esperança é que talvez 1% dos que obtiveram a nacionalidade permaneçam em Portugal entre nós e façam a nossa comunidade crescer um pouco. Seria fantástico.”
Etel Sason é uma professora universitária aposentada de uma família sefardita turca. Ela agora preenche seu tempo com o voluntariado em uma escola secundária local em Istambul e um trabalho de cura em tempo parcial em um centro de bem-estar. Ela ama a vida como é, mas mesmo aos 61 anos sente uma certa inquietação – algo que a leva de volta à península Ibérica. Etel conta que seus antepassados viveram em Toledo, na Espanha, até 1492: “Eles foram forçados a sair e parte de nós ainda acha que pertencemos lá”.
Etel e sua família obtiveram a cidadania espanhola em 2016 por meio da versão local da concessão de nacionalidade ligada à ascendência sefardita. Ela agora está avaliando dividir seu ano entre a Turquia e Espanha ou Portugal – possivelmente em Lisboa.
“Algo me chama – talvez meus genes estejam me dizendo que eu já vivi lá antes. Existem tantas semelhanças. Até os biscoitos que vendem em Portugal – são os mesmos biscoitos que foram assados pela minha avó. A sopa também – é a sopa da minha avó!”
Talvez a coisa mais estranha seja que Etel diz que pode entender as línguas da Espanha e de Portugal desse jeito. “É milagroso. Eu nunca tive aulas e não sei escrever essas línguas, mas consigo entender quase tudo.”
Os pais de Etel, como os avós de Alex, falavam ladino em casa e há bastante sobreposição para ajudá-la a entender o que os espanhóis e portugueses estão dizendo.
“É tão fácil sentir-se em casa em Portugal. Lisboa é realmente como uma pequena Istambul. Sempre que visito sinto essa ligação.”
Etel alugará uma casa em Lisboa no verão deste ano e diz que conhece outras famílias que se mudaram para lá definitivamente.
Ela admite que não são apenas suas raízes sefarditas que tornam uma perspectiva atraente. É também o fato de Portugal e Espanha terem boas universidades e oportunidades de negócio, bem como um bom nível de vida, em comparação com cidades europeias mais caras. O clima ensolarado, claro, também ajuda.
Nem todos os membros da família de Alex Abrahams compartilham seu entusiasmo por se tornarem portugueses. “Minha mãe acha que sou louco”, confessa ele, apesar de serem suas raízes familiares que lhe dão o direito de reivindicar a cidadania portuguesa independentemente. “Ela achou ridículo quando eu contei a ela, mas à medida que mais pessoas se inscreveram, ela começou a levar isso mais a sério.”
Quando ele decidiu fazer o pleito, mergulhou nos arquivos da família para provar sua ascendência. E teve sorte de ter uma família tão bem documentada.
Alex tem uma foto de seus avós se casando na sinagoga Holland Park, em Londres, e ele até tem uma cópia original de sua certidão de casamento – em hebraico, mas com frases ladinas também. Sua inscrição incluiu uma cópia deste documento ao lado de uma carta do rabino da sinagoga, atestando que sua família tinha fortes laços históricos com a congregação de lá.
Curiosamente, os registros da família de Alex também contêm um retrato em miniatura do século 18. Mostra uma mulher em traje sefardita local do Marrocos. Alex me diz que esta é a Fortune Stella Amar, sua tia. Ela é do lado de sua avó materna, mas é mais um sinal de suas raízes sefarditas. É uma imagem bonita, mas frágil. Felizmente, Alex não precisou se separar dele para o seu pedido de passaporte.
Alex ainda tem os documentos para mostrar como seus bisavós estavam isentos da Ordem de Restrição de Aliens controlando seus movimentos. O Ministério do Interior estava convencido de que, por serem originalmente uma família de judeus da Península Ibérica, não representavam uma ameaça interna à Grã-Bretanha.
Então a família ficou. O avô de Alex, Harry, nasceu no oeste de Londres em 1915. Ele é o homem que disse ao seu neto para nunca esquecer sua herança sefardita.
Após a votação do Brexit em 2016, muitos cidadãos britânicos solicitaram o segundo passaporte. Estima-se que 200.000 pedidos de passaporte irlandês foram feitos por cidadãos britânicos em 2018.
Alex diz que o Brexit desempenhou um papel importante em sua decisão: “Não era apenas o horário da fila do aeroporto. O Brexit foi o catalisador, mas eu teria feito isso de qualquer maneira. “
Ele afirma estar preocupado com a “linguagem conspiratória” de alguns esquerdistas no Reino Unido: “Eles têm um problema com os judeus modernos”, diz ele. “Eles não acham que podem ser vítimas de racismo. Então, eu me preocupo com o mundo em que meus filhos crescerão se isso se tornar a política predominante “.
Sua crescente família também foi um fator na obtenção de um passaporte da UE em um momento incerto na história britânica: “Tenho pensado sobre as oportunidades oferecidas ao meu filho e se ele ficará em desvantagem”.
Alex se descreve como um “britânico orgulhoso e um londrino orgulhoso” e ele insiste que não está planejando se levantar e sair de onde está. Mas ele pensou na liberdade de movimento quando fez sua inscrição em 2016: “Espera-se que a dupla nacionalidade não seja um tabu. Você pode ter duas partes de sua identidade expressas através de seus passaportes”.
Alex gastou cerca de 2.500 libras em sua busca pela cidadania portuguesa. O aplicativo em si não custou muito, mas ele teve que contratar um advogado em Lisboa e muitos documentos tiveram que ser autenticados ou enviados por correio.
O processo também levou cerca de dois anos e meio e ainda não acabou oficialmente – ele está esperando para ter seus dados escritos no registro de nascimento português. Depois disso, ele poderá obter um cartão de cidadania e passaporte.
Ele afirma não ter planos imediatos para mudar sua família, mas também não descarta isso.
“Há a possibilidade de que isso não seja apenas uma coisa simbólica que Portugal esteja fazendo e que os judeus se mudem para lá e reconstruam essas comunidades antigas. Isso seria incrível – uma parte incrível da história judaica”.
Ele aponta que sua família estava na Península Ibérica e depois no Império Otomano por mais tempo do que na Grã-Bretanha: “Impérios mudam, culturas mudam e identidades mudam também”.
Alex ainda está esperando pelo pedaço de papel – ou e-mail – que diz que ele é oficialmente português e britânico. O que ele fará para comemorar quando finalmente chegar? “Eu vou investir de forma adequada em um professor de português”, ele ri, “porque o aplicativo que estou usando não é ótimo!”
The first openly gay man to become a minister in Israel has been appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Amir Ohana, of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party, was named as acting justice minister following the sacking of the previous office holder.
Mr Ohana, 43, is a Netanyahu loyalist, who backs moves to protect the prime minister from possible prosecution.
His appointment comes days after parliament dissolved itself in preparation for fresh elections.
Mr Netanyahu fired the previous justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, three days ago. Shaked’s party, which was part of Netanyahu’s coalition, did not get enough seats to return to parliament in elections in May.
Israelis will go back to the polls in September after Mr Netanyahu failed to get support from enough parties to form a new government.
Announcing his appointment, the prime minister’s office said Mr Ohana was a former lawyer who was “very familiar with the justice system”.
Mr Ohana is a strong supporter of Mr Netanyahu, and has given his backing to a controversial bill to grant a sitting prime minister immunity from prosecution.
Mr Netanyahu is under investigation for alleged bribery and fraud and could be indicted in the next few months. He has vehemently denied the accusations against him.
Mr Ohana is a gay rights activist who supports same-sex marriage, which is not recognised in Israel unless performed abroad, and last year voted against party lines in favour of a bill widening a ban on discrimination based on sexual identification.
Although gay rights face opposition from the powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, the country has a progressive attitude towards the gay community which have protections under the law.
Mr Ohana is one of a number of openly gay MPs, and last year an Israeli city near Tel Aviv became the first to have an openly gay mayor.
A recent JC poll shows the party’s growing association with antisemitism matters — and is changing the way people vote
It has not just been confusion over the Labour party’s Brexit policy that has kept supporters from voting Labour in the local and European elections, but Jeremy Corbyn himself.
Polling has consistently showed this to be the case with the antisemitism row playing a crucial role in dragging down his personal ratings.
Sadly, antisemitism is not an issue that matters to most people outside the community. Many people in this country have never met a Jew. Focus groups show that even when people do care, they usually care more about things that affect their everyday lives.
But for a large number of people, Labour’s growing association with racism has mattered — and is changing their vote.
Three major polls have been carried out since last September into public attitudes to Labour and antisemitism, especially among Labour voters. The most surprising thing is the level to which it has cut through to the public.
In the latest survey, commissioned last month by the JC, 80 per cent out of a nationally-representative sample of more than 5,000 British voters said they had seen either a little or a lot of news coverage on the issue. As one seasoned pollster said: “You can set a bomb off in a village and you won’t get that kind of awareness.”
If you add up the figures from the May poll, then Labour could lose almost a million votes from those who said they might vote Labour but the antisemitism issue was leading to doubts about the party’s fitness for power.
That is enough to put a substantial dent in Labour’s chances of success in dozens of tight constituencies. It also comes on top of the millions of centrist and moderate voters driven away from the party by issues including antisemitism over the last 12 months.
In the same poll, more voters who had chosen in Labour in 2017 said Mr Corbyn had proved himself to be dishonest rather than honest (41 per cent versus 37 per cent) in the way he had handled antisemitism. And more Labour 2017 voters said they thought he was “not competent” rather than competent (50 per cent versus 32 per cent).
Since a similar poll carried out in February — just before the issue again exploded with Luciana Berger and other MPs leaving Labour — the number of the general population saying Labour has a problem with antisemitism has gone up from 43 per cent to 50 per cent. And there has been a significant drop in those saying the party does not have a problem with antisemitism, down from 23 per cent to 18 per cent over the same period.
For the first time in decades, over a century maybe, British Jews have had to ask ourselves: “Are we safe here?” It has taken a major effort by Jews and our non-Jewish allies to keep this issue in the public mind as much as possible. But we have also had the courage and organisational muscle to stand up, say “Enough” and heed the calls to be #BeLouder when we confront hate.
The likelihood is that the EHRC investigation announced last week will turn up still more embedded racism — and not just among the rank and file, but also at the top of Labour. In doing so, it will only increase the view that things cannot get better for the Labour Party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership. Things can only get worse.
(Independent) The newly elected Knesset and set a new election date for September 17.
By Aron Heller, Associated Press
Israel has been plunged into another snap election campaign — the second this year — after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition and instead dissolved parliament.
In what seemed an improbable scenario days ago, Israel’s newly elected Knesset dissolved itself in an early morning 74-45 vote and set a new election date for September 17.
The developments were a shocking setback for Mr Netanyahu, who had appeared to secure a comfortable win in last month’s election, but was unable to build a parliamentary majority needed to rule because a traditional ally, Avigdor Lieberman, refused to bring his Yisrael Beiteinu faction into the coalition.
Mr Netanyahu, who has led Israel for a decade, now faces another challenge to his lengthy rule. It comes as he prepares for a pre-indictment hearing before expected criminal charges against him in a series of corruption cases.
Assuming they would sweep into power again, Mr Netanyahu’s allies in the ruling Likud Party had already begun drafting a contentious bill aimed at granting him immunity from any corruption charges. He was also looking to push legislation limiting the power of the Supreme Court and paving his path to many more years in office.
But it was a separate issue that sparked the unprecedented crisis, and for the first time in history thrust Israel into a repeat election before a new government was formed.
Mr Lieberman — a veteran nationalist and secular politician — demanded that current legislation mandating that young ultra-Orthodox men be drafted into the military run its course.
The public chose me, and Lieberman, unfortunately, deceived his voters. From the beginning he had no intention to do what he saidBenjamin Netanyahu
Years of exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men have generated widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis who serve. The ultra-Orthodox, backed by Mr Netanyahu, refused to bend and the showdown quickly became a full-blown crisis.
“The public chose me, and Lieberman, unfortunately, deceived his voters. From the beginning he had no intention to do what he said,” Mr Netanyahu said after the vote, accusing Mr Lieberman of aligning with “the left”.
Mr Lieberman, a former senior aide to Mr Netanyahu who has alternated between a close alliance and bitter rivalry with his former boss, retorted that the new election was a result of Mr Netanyahu caving into the ultra-Orthodox.
“This is a complete surrender of Likud to the ultra-Orthodox,” he said.
A new election complicates Mr Netanyahu’s efforts to pass the proposed bills to protect himself from prosecution.
Even if he wins the election, it is unlikely he will be able to form a government and secure the required political support for an immunity deal before an expected indictment.
That would force him to stand trial, and in turn put heavy pressure on him to step aside. No one in Likud has yet challenged him publicly.
The political uncertainty could also spell trouble for the White House’s Middle East peace efforts. The US has scheduled a conference next month in Bahrain to unveil what it says is the first phase of its peace plan, an initiative aimed at drawing investment into the Palestinian territories.
The Trump administration had vowed to unveil its plan after the Israeli election and it is unclear how the current political shake-up will affect that rollout.
Government commissioner says lifting of inhibitions and rise of uncouthness are factors behind rising incidence of antisemitism
Germany’s government commissioner on antisemitism has suggested Jews should not always wear the traditional kippah cap in public, in the wake of a spike in anti-Jewish attacks.
“I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere, all the time, in Germany,” Felix Klein said in an interview published Saturday by the Funke regional press group. The remarks were criticised by the Israeli president as representing a “capitulation” to antisemitism.
In issuing the warning, Klein said he had “alas, changed my mind compared to previously”.
Antisemitic attacks are on the rise in a number of European countries, and a survey of Jewish people across the European Union carried out in December found 89% of Jews feel antisemitism has increased in their country over the past decade, while 85% believed it to be a serious problem.
Antisemitic hate crimes rose by 20% in Germany last year, according to interior ministry data, which blamed nine out of ten cases on the extreme right. There were 62 violent antisemitic attacks, compared to 37 in 2017. France has also seen a spike in violent incidents.
Klein, whose post was created last year, cited “the lifting of inhibitions and the uncouthness which is on the rise in society” as factors behind a rising incidence of antisemitism.
“The internet and social media have largely contributed to this, but so have constant attacks against our culture of remembrance.”
And he suggested police, teachers and lawyers should be better trained to recognise what constitutes “clearly defined” unacceptable behaviour and “what is authorised and what is not”.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday that Klein’s remarks “shocked” him, and while appreciating the German government’s “commitment to the Jewish community,” accused it of bowing to those targeting Jews.
“Fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to antisemitism and an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil,” said Rivlin. “We will never submit, will never lower our gaze and will never react to antisemitism with defeatism – and expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, also criticised Klein’s advice. He wrote on Twitter: “The opposite is true. Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.”
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany welcomed the fact that government had recognised the seriousness of the situation. “It has for some time been the case that Jews in some cities potentially endanger themselves if they are visible as Jews”, Josef Schuster told news agency AFP.
In Hungary, the nationalist government of Viktor Orbán has repeatedly been accused of anti-semitism, particularly in its campaigns against the financier and philanthropist George Soros, who is of Hungarian Jewish origin. Orbán has always denied the allegations and pointed out that, on the whole, Jews living in Hungary feel safe, unlike many living in western Europe. He has also criticised western Europe for accepting refugees and migrants from Muslim countries, claiming they bring antisemitism with them.
Klein acknowledged that the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers, many from Muslim countries such as Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, has had an impact on the situation in Germany. Some were influenced by watching certain television channels “which transmit a dreadful image of Israel and Jews”, he said.
However, he emphasised that the far-right was to blame for the overwhelming majority of antisemitic crime.
“Antisemitism has always been here. But I think that recently, it has again become louder, more aggressive and flagrant,” Berlin’s top legal expert on antisemitism Claudia Vanoni said in a recent interview, adding the problem was “deeply rooted” in German society.
She also said the proliferation of online platforms that allow people to express extremist views without inhibition while hiding behind screens had fostered the rise in cases.
Justice minister Katarina Barley told the Handelsblatt newspaper the increase was “shameful for our country” but added that the police were “vigilant”.
Sabine Leutheuser-Scharrenberger, a former justice minister, said: “Everything has to be done to ensure that Jews can live their religion without facing danger and while relying on the rule of law”.
(Haaretz) In Israel, They Felt Unwanted. They Found Paradise in Portugal
Farmland goes for a song, farmers receive state support and falafel and malabi are readily available. More and more Israelis are finding a haven on Portuguese soil.
The most popular stall in the heart of the outdoor market in São Martinho das Amoreiras, some 200 kilometers southeast of Lisbon, is the falafel stand run by Maoz Kashty and his partner, Natasha. Is there anything more humiliating for an Israeli than to buy falafel on European soil? Out of Israeli solidarity and sheer politeness I bought one – and was pleasantly surprised. Next to me was a young local man who was wondering about the orange sauce. Kashty, 45, told him it was chutney, and immediately explained himself to me, in Hebrew: “Hey, am I going to tell him it’s amba?”
An Israeli from a nearby farm took advantage of the hype in the market and recently opened an adjacent stand that sells malabi (a Middle Eastern rosewater pudding, served with pomegranate syrup). Gentiles aren’t familiar with malabi, so passersby were offered a free taste. Was I a witness to the genesis of a malabi craze on the Iberian Peninsula? Apart from the falafel and malabi hawkers, there were quite a few Israelis in the market who came to buy or sell – or to get a look at the local guru, Moji.
Before visiting the market, we had been hosted on an impressive farm for a weekly hummus fest. We sat under a cork oak tree, where we polished off a dish of hummus for six euros. Like many other Israelis who are farming in Portugal, the owner of this particular farm wanted nothing to do with the press, and asked that his name not be published. Earlier, I’d offended him slightly by saying something to the effect that if I was already in Portugal, I preferred to eat local food. “All they eat here is pork,” he immediately warned me. On another Israeli-owned farm, a two-day party got underway that same weekend, with an Israeli deejay. They, too, asked not to be identified by name.
To join the Facebook page of the Israelis who already live in Portugal, you have to declare that you are not a tourist and that you are not offering a service intended to help people obtain a local passport. The page has more than 3,000 members, but according to more conservative data, the actual number of Israelis who have immigrated to Portugal in recent year is several hundred. A few dozen live on farms, most of which were purchased in the past year. This appears to be a first wave that might swell. Not long ago, a Portuguese magazine published a cover story titled, “Is Portugal the Promised Land of the Jews?”
For Natasha, 35, Kashty’s partner, it’s already too much: She keeps seeing Israelis buying farms in the area, and she’s afraid that the flow will only intensify. Most of the Israeli-owned homesteads are located here, in southern Portugal, not far from the town of Odemira. Some, though, have opted for east, in the region of Castelo Branco, or further north. The city of Coimbra, in the central part of the country, even boasts an Israeli-Portuguese school.
There are several Facebook groups of Israelis who would like to move en masse to Portugal and form a community, but that hasn’t happened yet, despite a good response. The fact is that farmland is so cheap in Portugal, there’s no real reason to share the property.
One common denominator among the nice people I interviewed here is that they tried to live in Israel according to their desired lifestyle, but felt that the state rejected them, and so they sought a haven in Portugal. Perhaps the best known of the recent exiles is writer and journalist Yigal Sarna, who is recovering here from a legal battle with the Netanyahu family and termination of his employment on the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Sarna, who now spends half the year in northern Portugal, sounds happy, to judge from his Facebook posts. Kashty, the falafel king, had a clear explanation of why he fled: “We were living in a community in Pardes Hannah and we were good with that, but we were living in a bubble. The feeling is that in Israel everyone who is outside the bubble tries to prick the bubble, to stick nails into it.”
The economy in Portugal is lackluster, but it’s still a friendly place for foreigners, with a socialist government and vast, empty farmland that the state wants to populate.
Far from ugly politics
Dan Zeltser, 43, studied history and philosophy, did voluntary work with the Israeli-Palestinian organization Taayush and was a documentary photographer in the territories. But finally the politics got to him. “What happened in Israel stinks, it’s a sinking ship,” he says. “I decided I had to get out of there.”
Zeltser was determined to live closer to nature and set his mind on Portugal, even though he knew next to nothing about it. He met his partner, Biana Gaimano, 32, shortly before he left Israel. Gaimano had immigrated to Israel by herself from Russia, was employed in high-tech, and afterward was a producer on the reality-TV program “Connected.”
“Even though I had a good job in the industry, I realized that I didn’t want to be there,” Gaimano relates, adding that the day she met Zeltser, she sat in her car and realized that she would be leaving everything and moving to Portugal.
For a year, the young couple looked for suitable land. They show me their dot-studded Google map. “We saw a hundred farms,” Zeltser says. “We almost struck a deal with a Dutch swindler. Buying land here isn’t easy. You have to be careful and not trust lawyers; it’s crucial to get help from someone who’s already bought property.”
Newcomers also have to adjust to the local pace of life, he adds. “Everything here is very slow. But it’s important for the Portuguese to be accurate, to be on time. And Portugal is supportive, it doesn’t expel people, certainly not quickly. The people in the nearby villages are pleasant and hospitable, and really want to help. They think it’s good for them to have ‘new blood’ arrive.”
Did you leave because of things you saw in the occupied territories?
Zeltser: “Not only in the territories. Everywhere in the country. My heart said: Let go of the place.”
A few weeks ago, the couple bought 30 dunams (about 7.5 acres) of hilly land, near Castelo Branco. It’s covered with rocks and thistles, but has a stream and a few wells. They paid 15,000 euros, a sum that might buy you a lean-to back in Afula. “We don’t have a building,” Zeltser explains over black coffee served in empty baby-food jars. “If you want a real house you pay more – 50,000 to 100,000 euros and up. For me it was important to have a river nearby, so we won’t have to hook up to the water network.”
Their plan is to build a wooden house on their land, but in the meantime they’re renting a place on their neighbors’ property. They are delighted with their land. It’s nice to hike around there, despite the rugged terrain, but it’s hard to imagine planting anything on it.
“Just yesterday we organized an access road and fixed up a few terraces and canals,” Zeltser says. “Since buying the land, I discovered that we have a quite a few fruit trees. The foundations here are good.”
Other plans are amorphous. Zeltser waxes poetic about “a garden, with all the implications” and talks about hothouses for herbs, maybe saffron, and projects including a preschool, courses in sustainability, ecological tourism. Near the river, on Zeltser’s property, is the tent of an Englishman and his children, who looked pleased. As we nibble on cheese, Gaimano predicts that they will soon be making their own cheese. Zeltser hints that that will take some time. “The goal is to establish a home and farm that will feed us on a self-sufficient basis,” he explains. “In the next stage we’ll figure out how to make a living.” Gaimano wants to create a preschool for baby Elisheva: “We didn’t flee Tel Aviv in order to send our kids to institutional schools.”Eastern Portugal. Tomer Appelbaum
The couple say there are other Israelis living nearby and that one spoke to them about buying land next to theirs. “It’s just the beginning of a wave,” Gaimano says. “When I saw an ad for a Portuguese passport in Netanya, I knew there would be a flood.” (Since 2013, Portugal has offered citizenship to people who can prove their descent from Jews expelled from Portugal or Spain during the Inquisition.)
Ties with the local Jewish community are less congenial. “I went to the synagogue in the nearby town and said I’m an Israeli,” Zeltser says. “Because I walk around in a keffiyeh from Sinai, they thought I was an Israeli Arab, and the security guards checked me thoroughly. Maybe what did me in was that I said ‘Ahlan’ [Arabic for “Hello,” frequently used by Jewish Israelis]. The Jews of Portugal aren’t in the loop. It drove me crazy that the rabbi doesn’t know Hebrew. But we have made friends with foreigners here – 17 nationalities on our hill alone.”
Why do Israelis feel a connection with Portugal?
Zeltser: “The people here lack initiative and are very calm. Not everyone here is out for the dollar. The thinking here is more medieval, not capitalist, and that’s a positive thing. Besides, it’s hot here and it looks like Israel.”
Are you thinking of establishing a new Israel here?
“Isn’t one enough?”
Although they put on an optimistic face, it turns out that the couple have had moments of crisis. Three months after the move to Portugal, Gaimano was ready to go back. “I bought a ticket to Ben-Gurion, one way,” she says. “After two weeks in Tel Aviv, I’d had enough of sitting by the sea and I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to live in the city.” Zeltser hasn’t been back to Israel since he left.
Refuge from the storm
Yaaran Farm was established in 1995 in the forest below the popular stalactite cave in the Judean Hills, outside Beit Shemesh. The Yaaran family sought a self-sufficient lifestyle and raised goats on their farm, selling the cheese to visitors. Over the years, the Israeli authorities tried to get rid of them, because their farm lay on state-owned land. The Yaarans waged an impossible, perhaps naive, battle that entailed plenty of court hearings and then gave up.
Like most of those I interviewed, Bar and Avishai Yaaran, 51 and 56, respectively, felt as if they were simply spewed out by Israel and found themselves in Portugal. Three months ago, they bought a 40-dunam farm in the eastern part of the country and shipped the contents of their previous home there in a container, including the sign to their old place. Bar is now grateful to the authorities: “Thanks to the wickedness of the Israel Land Authority, we evacuated the place, and thanks to them I attained something of my own,” she says.
We catch up to her as she splits wood with an axe. “At first we looked for land in Crete, but just before the deal was closed, they tripled the price,” she relates. “Lucky we didn’t move there. The Greeks are tough and they don’t accept foreigners. They’re like Israelis. In Portugal, it’s the opposite. The economy is permanently drowsy. At midday everyone is at lunch. They don’t seem to have any motivation, but they are good people and welcoming. Even the clerks want what’s best for you. They don’t try to make things hard for you – the opposite of Israel. The farmers who were in the same boat as us back in Israel were always in competition. The average Israeli feels that he has to screw someone in order not to get screwed. Here I can breathe differently. I don’t hear stone quarries. The birds chirp here at night, too. We found our paradise.”
Looking back, Bar isn’t sure why she fought so hard for her farm: “We were a finger in the establishment’s eyes. It was just insane. We worked hard, people stood in line for our cheeses, and it all went to pay lawyers. I could have bought seven farms like this in Portugal if I hadn’t financed lawyers. When I stopped paying them, the lawyers simply stopped working for me, no matter how right I was. It’s unbelievable. There’s no ideology in that realm.”
The couple are now in the process of obtaining residency, which is granted in Portugal to people who establish companies, even if those entities are intended to manage an autarkic farm. Unlike Israel, the Yaarans say, Portugal encourages small, traditional, farm-based ventures. In many other countries in Europe, in contrast, the process of rapid urbanization means that many agricultural lands have fallen into disuse. In our travels, we passed through dozens of pleasant villages, and most of the people we saw were elderly folk relaxing with a glass of beer in a café on the main street.
Says Bar: “I know that even if I don’t come with all the paperwork, the Portuguese immigration authorities won’t throw me out. They won’t check whether I am Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Everyone can care for his goats and his vegetable patch, be simple like me, poor like me – and feel rich… Fortunately, Avishai knows the language, because he grew up in Kibbutz Bror Hayil [where many immigrants from Brazil live] and he has a Brazilian father.”
Bar says she is moved by the small things. “For years I didn’t have a mailing address. After all, the authorities don’t want to give offenders an opening for official recognition, and because of that the children didn’t receive army draft notices. [She says that they did serve, however.] Now the mail comes right to me. I can’t believe it’s mine.”
Like Bar, many of those I spoke to invoked the word “paradise.” The truth is that it’s not as simple as it looks. The farm the Yaarans moved into three months ago was completely covered by a meter-high layer of thorny raspberry bushes. The bushes mean there’s lots of water, but dealing with them is difficult and endlessly bothersome.
“We are refugees,” she says. “Even after we left, the Land Authority was mad because we left a few stones that we were supposed to remove. They wanted to issue an order barring me from leaving the country and also for us to pay a users’ fee. Today I feel as though I’ve been reborn. I’m convinced they’ll be sorry we left. There will be forest fires.”
What do you think they wanted from you?
Bar Yaaran: “In Israel, agriculture is always political, it’s always about grabbing land from the Arabs. They think that if you give something to every [Jewish] shepherd, they’ll also have to give the Bedouin rights. I just pity the people from the Nature and Thieves Authority and the Society for the Destruction of Nature. But I pity the land more. How did I ever believe we stood a chance? I sat there in my bubble, on my island, while all around me people were legally authorized to quarry, the stream filled up with sewage, the noise of the helicopters frightened the pregnant goats, and we were the only ones looking after the environment.
“We built a fire truck to put out fires, we collected garbage for 24 years and we appeared before every committee, certain that we were in the right and that they would understand in the end. The truth is that no one wanted us. We were not in anyone’s political or economic interest, and we didn’t screw any Arab. Here, they went along with us about the idea of a small herd and a tiny dairy. And because I’m a farmer, all the diesel fuel will be subsidized. Israel is not a truly democratic country. All it cares about is screwing the Arabs, and to achieve that it will shoot everyone in the foot.”
If at the Yaaran’s first farm they needed a herd of 150 goats to be almost completely self-sufficient, now that they don’t have to pay for a legal team, they say then can make do with 15. “It was insane work, just to satisfy a rotten system that has no point or purpose.”
Despite the couple’s seemingly anarchistic approach to life, Avishai – who served in the Israel Defense Force’s Sayeret Matkal commando unit and was among the first soldiers to cut through the border fence and enter Lebanon in the 1982 war – doesn’t rule out accepting subsidies from state authorities in Portugal. “It is a fine and correct matter, an expression of a desire to preserve agriculture.”
If the Yaaran family wants above all to be left alone, Shefa and Oded Elyashiv, aged 49 and 52, who are among the senior figures of Israel’s “rainbow” gatherings, arrived with a communal vision. For $50,000 they bought a large tract of land, 160 dunams, in southern Portugal, half an hour by jeep from the nearest road. They moved in three months ago.
Their place doesn’t yet look like a farm – more like a small conclave of hippies set in a spectacular landscape. In the meantime they are living in a trailer, with the children’s tents next to it. Oded is excited to show us the compost toilet he recently assembled, as though it were a Venetian fountain. He has a philosophy about this subject: “Man is an enterprise for producing fertilizer, but that involves dealing with poop. I don’t understand what the problem is with poop. It’s madness to throw our poop into the toilet, and afterward to buy expensive compost, which is horses’ poop.”
The Elyashivs met 13 years ago. Oded is a yoga teacher; Shefa is an information systems consultant. For years, they scoured Israel in search of land on which they could live with friends. (They have two children, ages 7 and 11.) They tried to join a kibbutz, but were rejected by the admission committee. Shefa, who was born on Kibbutz Tsova, near Jerusalem, admits that she was hurt by this.
“We would have been happy to establish something like this in Israel,” Oded says. “It’s the Holy Land – not that I am religious. All our life we just wanted a piece of land. Not a lousy half-dunam slice of land in a crowded suburb. I wrote to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu” – with a request for land on which to create a communal settlement – “and he replied in a letter saying ‘Well done,’ and referring me to the authorities. We wanted to create a paradise, 10 dunams for 10 families, on the model of a small village for friends from the rainbow tribe. I wrote to all the authorities with the request. One referred me to another, but nothing came of it.”
“We only wanted land,” adds Oded, who liked to walk around nude at rainbow gatherings in Israel, so it took me time to recognize him. “We wanted to build a castle in Israel. And then we spoke to Haim Feldman, an Israeli who had moved here. He kept urging us to make the move. He told us how easy things are in Portugal. He’s a pioneer. The new Israel is slowly happening here. People keep coming. There are also those who try to make the move, but end up returning to Israel. But overall, the trend is that it’s continuing to grow.”
The family arrived in Portugal in 2016 with the aim of creating a community, but it didn’t work out. But Oded hasn’t abandoned his dream of a communal village: “It will happen naturally. Families want to visit. People will stay. We are the vanguard. There is enough room and we will find the way to bring them in. Maybe the others will want to buy neighboring lands.”
What’s the plan?
Oded: “The goal is to live in paradise. There will be 10,000 trees here, 1,000 of them fruit trees. There will be abundance never before seen. In the meantime, it really is hard. When you don’t know the language, even getting a pump is difficult.”
“The move is very hard,” Shefa admits. “My father was sick. I am torn. Should I go back to Israel? It would be wonderful if Israel allowed a simple life on the land. It’s incredible that it’s a criminal offense if a person lives on his own farmland. In every other country, people live on their own farms. In Portugal, four percent of every agricultural property is designated for the farmer’s house. In Israel you can’t even park a trailer on farmland.”
As in the original Garden of Eden, here too there are troubles with the children – although, despite their adventurous parents, they somehow came out quite normal. When we arrive, the children are using wireless internet and are busy destroying someone in the video game Fortnite. The parents admit that their offspring, especially their 11-year-old daughter, Petel, aren’t really wild about bathing in the river, and demand a standard hot-water shower now and again. To that end, they all occasionally head for the nearby town, which has a public bathhouse. There have been times when Shefa too broke down because of the harsh conditions and took a hotel room. “You have to understand,” Oded explains. “The girls have long hair, they have curls. They need a shower with running water. In another month we’ll have a shower.”
Are the children in a home-schooling program?
Oded: “It’s ‘unschooling.’ Petel went to an anthroposophic school in Israel. We didn’t want her to go there, but she had a girlfriend who was enthusiastic, and the school was good for her. Here they didn’t want it because of the language.”
Will I still find you here in another five years?
Shefa: “Absolutely. You’ll never get Oded out of here, and I’m with him. No one can take me away from here.”
Still, there are moments when her husband has heretical thoughts. “Since I’ve been here, I appreciate the city more,” he admits. “The city is an amazing place. People live there without any problems. You know, there are toilets and hot showers there.”
Even though Lisa and Haim Werksman Feldman, 41 and 44 years old, moved to Portugal only four years ago, they are considered veteran Israelis in the country’s agricultural landscape. Haim didn’t want to buy his own farm, preferring instead to purchase a modest house on the outskirts of Odemira, in Portugal’s south, for 50,000 euros. But he works and assists many Israeli farmers and is considered a “guru gardener.” At present, Feldman is cultivating an organic garden that supplies a restaurant, and also teaches ecology at two schools.
There’s a sad story behind his move to Portugal. After serving as a combat soldier in the IDF’s Nahal brigade, including in the territories, he tried to acquaint himself with farming, but couldn’t find his place in industrial-style agriculture. He went to the territories in the hope of learning traditional methods of farming and gradually got to know people on the other side. By the time of Operation Defensive Shield (2002) he refused to serve in the territories. Afterward, he tried to help create a bio-farming project with the Awad family in the village of Budrus, adjacent to the separation barrier. That lovely initiative was torpedoed by both the army and envious neighbors of the Awad family. What broke him was the shooting death of one of the Awad children at the hands of an Israel soldier.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” Feldman says. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t look the father in the eyes. I wanted something different, with plenty of traditional agriculture and an approach that encourages small-scale farming.”
Maoz Kashty, the falafel monger, whom I interview as he works, was drawn to Portugal for similar reasons. “People here want to have control over the elementary things,” he explains. “I’m talking about housing, food, medicine. An apartment that doesn’t require taking out a 30-year mortgage. Let us live life.” Kashti is hoping to buy a house and 10 dunams of land; the financing is meant to come from the falafel.
“Portugal recalls Israel from before the Six-Day War, before things got bad,” Feldman says. “It’s an empire that faded away. You don’t hustle off to work here, like in Israel. If you don’t need to work, you don’t work. But if you do, then you work well. It’s not slapdash. When the name of Israel comes up in conversations with local folk, I always mention what’s good in Israel.”
Even though you left because of what’s bad?
Feldman: “I am heartbroken from love. In Israel I was battered as a political activist and also as an ecological gardener. Israeli farmers are very condescending about enviromental concerns – they think that farming is only done with a tractor. Portugal is a country of small gardens, with great appreciation for the environment. Another reason I left was so that my daughters wouldn’t go to school in a fascist education al system. The brainwashing in Israel begins at an early age. A photograph of the chief of staff is hung on the kindergarten wall. Here the people are charming, and we mustn’t forget that in Portugal there was a Jewish community that lived together with the Muslims. It’s important to understand that there was a connection here.”
Tamir and Luna Burstein, 47 and 45, have lived for almost a year with their two children on an impressive 200-dunam farm in the south of Portugal. The price: 100,000 euros. A handy person, Tamir removed the raspberry bushes and also dug a lake, which he populated with ducks. His land covers two hills, on one of which there’s an old forest that Tamir doesn’t intend to touch. “It feels strange to say it’s mine,” he tells me.
Tamir owned a bar on Carlebach Street in Tel Aviv – he brought the popular Kleiner Feigling fig liqueuerto Israel. Luna was a PR person for the Allenby 58 Club and today is a spiritual teacher. “I simply fell in love with Portugal,” Luna says, calling it “the India of Europe.” Tamir adds, “Already in Lisbon airport our heart opened and we allowed Creation to take us.”
They purchased the second property they saw, and got to work. “There are a lot of people who want to join us,” says Tamir. “Every week two families ask. Some want advice about how to buy land, some want to come here. Our property has enough room for four families to live comfortably. The demand is so great that I decided to organize a tour for Israelis to get to know the region. Two families moved here as a result – one of them bought within 10 minutes. Someone told me, ‘Don’t bring more Israelis, we don’t want a little Israel here.’ I have heard about dozens who want to make the move. People sit around drinking beer, and they think, ‘Let’s move to Portugal.’ But it’s a lot of work. It’s hard to be a pioneer.”
‘Temple of love’
I met Tamar Mali, 36, at Tamera, an ecological peace community with a free-sex aura about it that’s been operating for the past 24 years in the country’s south. Mali, who says she’s planning to build a “temple of love” on the farm she bought in the area, has a tight schedule of lectures and workshops, so the only time we could meet was during supper. If she misses it, she won’t eat for many more hours.
After devoting half her life to the Israel Scouts movement, first as a scout and then as a leader, Mali is now active in the community of Israeli farmers here. “I am a person that deals with events, I’m planning to screen the Eurovision contest for the Israeli community. You can count on the Israelis here. I celebrate the Passover seder on my farm, but without reading the part about the plagues. Everyone talks about freedom. As I see it, every event is a reason to party. Christmas or Hanukkah or Eurovision.”
After leaving the Scouts, Mali studied sexual healing in London and visited ecological and spiritual communities around the world. “In the end I understood that I would not remain in any of the communities, because my mission is to establish a place myself, to establish the temple of love.” Her explanation is persuasive: “If there is a synagogue for the God of the Jews, and churches, I want to build something for love, which is the force that can bring healing to the world.”
She bought a 130-dunam farm near São Martinho do Porto, on which she intends to erect the temple of love in an old, half-destroyed structure. “In temples of love there is sexual work, and a prospect that there will be things related to sexual therapy. It’s a place that sets out to celebrate and activate that force in the world.”
Why not in Israel, a country where love is needed?
Mali: “I am very Israeli. It’s not that I left Israel because I scorned it. But what’s related to sexuality in Israel is more complicated. And to find 130 dunams in Israel is almost impossible.”
Even though the temple of love hasn’t yet been built, it has already brought about an impressive achievement: The first volunteer who arrived at the site, an expert in the art of paper folding, fell in love with Mali. “There are people who don’t leave Tel Aviv, because they’re afraid they won’t find a relationship,” she says. “One volunteer showed up, and now he’s my partner.”
Bragança, 10 mai 2019 (Lusa) – Bragança acolhe de 19 a 23 de junho o Encontro de Culturas Judaico-Sefarditas colocando a cidade no epicentro daquela cultura em Portugal, como anunciou hoje a organização.
“Esta é a segunda edição da iniciativa, e dado que a primeira correu muito bem, resolvemos reforçar o programa que ao longo de cinco dias vai ajudar a perpetuar a memória judaica do nosso território, associada à diáspora, para que seja um fator de aproximação das pessoas”, referiu o presidente da Câmara Municipal de Bragança, Hernâni Dias.
O encontro dedicado aos judeus da Península Ibérica terá como atividade-âncora um congresso internacional sob o tema “Diásporas, Identidade e Globalização”, com a coordenação científica da Cátedra da Estudos Sefarditas da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa.
“Este tema pretende recolocar Bragança como centro incontornável da reflexão sobre a memoria e o património judaico em todo o norte da Península Ibérica”, adiantaram em conferencia de imprensa os promotores da iniciativa.
O programa contempla o I Fórum Económico e do Empreendedorismo Sefardita, um debate sobre “os bons exemplos da dinâmica pluricontinental”, havendo ainda um encontro da historiografia local e regional sefardita, concertos, mercado ‘kosher’, entre outras iniciativas.
No primeiro dia do encontro sefardita, haverá um concerto nos jardins do Centro de Arte Contemporânea Graça Morais, com o mote “Herança Longínqua”, por músicos portugueses e espanhóis.
“Pretendemos com esta iniciativa envolver a comunidade local, para que haja um reconhecimento da temática da cultura sefardita na cidade de Bragança”, indicou o autarca.
Durante a iniciativa haverá ainda tempo para uma mostra de cinema judaico, ao ar livre.
With so much attention focused recently on constant consumer spying and privacy violations, erroneous or otherwise, by Amazon, Facebook and now Twitter, it is easy to forget that virtually other communication apps have the same purpose, and that’s what one secretive Israeli company relied on when they used a vulnerability in the popular messaging app WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) to inject commercial Israeli spyware on to phones, the company and a spyware technology dealer said. What is unique is how the app was infected: with a simple phone call.
According to the FT, WhatsApp which is used by 1.5bn people worldwide, discovered in early May that attackers were able to install surveillance software on to both iPhones and Android phones by ringing up targets using the app’s phone call function. The malicious code, developed by the secretive NSO Group, a notorious and controversial Israeli hacking and surveillance tools vendor, could be transmitted even if users did not answer their phones, and the calls often disappeared from call logs.
It is unclear how many apps were infected with the spyware trojan, which could for example, allow anyone to get access to John Podesta’s email password (and then blame say, Vladimir Putin for example) as WhatsApp is too early into its own investigations of the vulnerability to estimate how many phones were targeted using this method, although it is likely a substantial number. As late as Sunday, the FT reports that WhatsApp engineers were racing to close the loophole.
For those who thought that Alexa’s constant eavesdropping was bad, this is even worse: NSO’s flagship product is Pegasus, a program that can turn on a phone’s microphone and camera, trawl through emails and messages and collect location data. It effectively opens up one’s entire cellphone to the hacker, and to get “infected”, one just needs to receive an inbound phone call without ever answering it.
Many people probably heard of NSO for the first time in December 2018, when a New York Times story that claimed the company helped Saudi Arabia spy on the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October of last year.
NSO advertises its products to Middle Eastern and Western intelligence agencies, and says Pegasus is intended for governments to fight terrorism and crime. NSO was recently valued at $1bn in a leveraged buyout that involved the UK private equity fund Novalpina Capital
Since the application is Israeli, its hardly a surprise that the spies’ preferred targets were Middle Eastern: as the FT reports, in the past, human rights campaigners in the Middle East have received text messages over WhatsApp that contained links that would download Pegasus to their phones.
“This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” the company said, with the government in question being that of Israel. “We have briefed a number of human rights organisations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society.”
Of course, if instead of a “secretive Israeli” company, the offender was found to be – say – a fabricated Russian outfit, the deep state would ensure that we would now be on the verge of World War III. However, since it’s Israel…. well, turn on your TV and see how many TV stations discuss this grotesque spying incident which could affect virtually anyone.
NSO, of course, said it had carefully vetted customers and investigated any abuse. Asked about the WhatsApp attacks, NSO said it was investigating the issue.
“Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” the company said. “NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation, including this individual [the UK lawyer].”
Among others, the attack targeted a UK lawyer, who declined to be identified, who has helped a group of Mexican journalists and government critics and a Saudi dissident living in Canada, sue NSO in Israel, alleging that the company shares liability for any abuse of its software by clients.
“It’s upsetting but not surprising that my team has been targeted with the very technology that we are raising concerns about in our lawsuits,” said Alaa Mahajne, a Jerusalem-based lawyer who is handling lawsuits from the Mexican and Saudi citizens. “This desperate reaction to hamper our work and silence us, itself shows how urgent the lawsuits are, as we can see that the abuses are continuing.”
On Tuesday, NSO will also face a legal challenge to its ability to export its software, which is regulated by the Israeli ministry of defense.
It was unclear if the entity behind the actual espionage was NSO in conjunction with the Israeli government, or if Israel had sold the hacking application to one or more of its best clients, including Saudi Arabia.
“NSO Group sells its products to governments who are known for outrageous human rights abuses, giving them the tools to track activists and critics. The attack on Amnesty International was the final straw,” said Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty International, which identified an attempt to hack into the phone of one its researchers.
“The Israeli ministry of defense has ignored mounting evidence linking NSO Group to attacks on human rights defenders. As long as products like Pegasus are marketed without proper control and oversight, the rights and safety of Amnesty International’s staff and that of other activists, journalists and dissidents around the world is at risk.
Israel passed information on an alleged Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf to the U.S. before national security adviser John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” last night, senior Israeli officials told me.
Why it matters: Bolton’s unusual and aggressive statement included news that the U.S. would move an aircraft carrier to the region. The officials said intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.
Behind the scenes: Information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf were raised two weeks ago in talks held at the White House between an Israeli delegation headed by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and a U.S. team led by Bolton, the Israeli officials told me.
The intelligence about a possible Iranian plot is not very specific at this stage, but the officials said it was clear the threat was against a U.S. target in the Gulf or U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia or the UAE.
The bottom line: An Israeli official told me Mossad drew several scenarios for what the Iranians might be planning:
“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf.”
(GUA) Before becoming Labour leader he called 1902 book containing antisemitic tropes ‘brilliant’
Jewish leaders have written to Jeremy Corbyn to express “grave concern” and demand an explanation after it emerged he wrote a glowing foreword for a century-old political tract that includes antisemitic tropes.
The book, Imperialism: A Study, written by John Atkinson Hobson in 1902, claimed European finance was controlled by “men of a single and peculiar race”. Corbyn described the book as “brilliant” and “very controversial”, the Times first reported.
He wrote the foreword when the book was reissued in 2011, four years before becoming Labour leader.
Hobson describes the financial system as controlled by people “united by the strongest bonds of organisation, always in closest and quickest touch with one another, situated in the very heart of the business capital of every state, controlled, so far as Europe is concerned, by men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience, they are in a unique position to control the policy of nations”.
In a strongly worded letter, the Board of Deputies of British Jews expressed “grave concerns” about the emergence of the foreword.
It said an argument expounded in Hobson’s book, that journalism and banking were dominated by Jews, was “pure and unequivocal racism and there can be no apology for it”.
The letter, signed by the board’s president, Marie van der Zyl, went on to cite a series of other recent allegations of antisemitism against Corbyn and demanded a full explanation.
Earlier on Wednesday, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, defended the Labour leader, insisting he was praising Hobson’s wider political arguments, not endorsing every aspect of the book.
“He was looking at the political thought within the whole text itself, not the comments that were antisemitic … Jeremy vigorously would not support antisemitic statements made by this writer or any writer,” she said.
“Jeremy was looking at the political thought … not comments that were antisemitic. Jeremy is not unlike other politicians who have quoted Hobson in speeches and written pieces about them.”
Labour MPs with concerns about Corbyn’s record seized on the existence of the foreword, which they regard as fresh evidence of the party leader not recognising and opposing antisemitism.
Wes Streeting, the MP for Ilford North, said Corbyn had “a responsibility to explain himself”, rather than leaving Long-Bailey to answer questions, and advised other shadow ministers to refuse to defend him.
Catherine McKinnell, who has persistently pressed for the party to change its disciplinary processes and tackle complaints of antisemitism more aggressively, responded to Long-Bailey’s comments by urging Labour to “stop excusing antisemitism”.
“Acknowledge it is a serious problem that goes right to the top, and deal with it,” she tweeted. “It is destroying our once proud anti-racist party”.
Ian Austin, who cited antisemitism claims as a reason for quitting the party in February to sit as an independent MP, said: “This is absolutely appalling. Decent people will be sickened to see him describing as ‘brilliant’ a book by someone who pushed deeply and clearly racist theories about Jewish people controlling banks, newspapers, governments and wars to further their financial interests.”
However, Tristram Hunt, another former Labour MP and Corbyn critic, urged caution, describing Hobson as “an important figure, worthy of study”, notwithstanding his “racist and ugly alignment of ‘Jewish finance’ with imperialism”.
Corbyn’s spokesman said that while the Labour leader absolutely condemned the antisemitism in the book, he did not believe it was wrong to write the foreword, saying the issue had been exaggerated by inaccurate reporting.
The book, the spokesman said, had been praised by other politicians but was “clearly a text of its time and its era”, adding that it also included “racially offensive phraseology” about other groups.
“Jeremy’s foreword was talking about the broad ideas around imperialism and Hobson’s analysis, and how they applied to today,” he said, stressing that the piece in question was a foreword, not an introduction.
Asked if Corbyn should apologise given the worries expressed by the Jewish Labour group and others, the spokesman said some of the blame should be placed on the media.
“I would say that it’s not surprising given the way some of these things are reported,” he said. “It doesn’t just apply to this story, but quite a few others. It’s not surprising that people reading that think that Jeremy or other people in the Labour party are saying things that they’re clearly not.”
Asked if Corbyn stood by the foreword, the spokesman said he did, adding: “It was fine to write a foreword to Hobson’s Imperialism and to talk about the big issues it raised.”
Responding to the criticism himself in an interview for the Politics Joe website, the Labour leader said he agreed that the language used in Imperialism: A Study to describe minorities was “absolutely deplorable”. However, he argued that his foreword analysed the ideas about “the process which led to the first world war” – the subject of the book – and not the language used by the author.
Violent antisemitic incidents in Europe went up from 342 in 2017 to 387 last year, according to the European Jewish Congress (EJC). Numbers of incidents including harassment, vandalism, as well as physical assault went up by 74 percent in France and 70 percent in Germany. “Antisemitism has recently progressed to the point of calling into question the very continuation of Jewish life in Europe,” EJC head Moshe Kantor said.