Oxford University Press Bans References to Pigs

012315_mishmash_israelOxford University Press has banned references to pigs and pork in its publications in order to avoid offending Jews and Muslims.

“Many of the educational materials we publish in the U.K. are sold in more than 150 countries, and as such they need to consider a range of cultural differences and sensitivities,” a spokesman for Oxford, the largest university press in the world, told the British media.

Eating pork is forbidden in Islam and Judaism.

The policy came to light this week on the show “Today” on the BBC’s Radio 4 station in the
wake of the Islamist extremist attacks on Paris. The show read a letter on the air sent by the Oxford University Press to an author asking her not to mention pigs or pork products in her book.

Representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities told the British media that the ban was
unnecessary.

U.S. Jews Still Mostly Democrats, but GOP Sees Gains

011615_mishmash-israelTwice as many Jewish-Americans identify as Democrats over Republicans, but the GOP has made strides, according to the latest Gallup polling.

The poll published this week showed 61 percent Jewish support for Democrats and 29 percent for Republicans — marked gains for the GOP since 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president and garnered significant Jewish support.

In that year, 71 percent of Jewish respondents leaned Democrat and 22 percent Republican.

Gallup said that the 7 percent hike corresponded with similar gains for the GOP in the general public, although to a slightly greater degree among Jews.

“As is the case with other Americans, Jewish Americans’ political leanings vary significantly by religiosity, gender and education,” Gallup said in describing the results. “Jewish men are more Republican than Jewish women, highly religious Jews are more Republican than less religious Jews, and Jews with lower levels of education are more likely to be Republicans than those with more formal education.”

The polling compiled responses from 4,116 Jewish-Americans during 2014 and had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

HarperCollins Apologizes for Leaving Israel Off Maps

010915_mishmash_israelThe HarperCollins publishing house apologized for omitting Israel from maps in atlases it sells to English-speaking schools in the Middle East.

“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from its Collins Middle East Atlas,” the company said in a statement released Dec. 31. “This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offense caused.”

As of Jan. 1, the atlas remained available for sale online through major retailers.

The apology came less than a day after Collins Bartholomew, a subsidiary of HarperCollins, told an international Catholic newsweekly based in London that including Israel in its atlas would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Persian Gulf and that leaving Israel off the maps incorporated “local preferences.”

British Shoppers Donate Food Made in Israel to Shelters

010215_mishmash_israelMore than 1,000 people in Great Britain donated food and other goods made in Israel to homeless shelters.

IsrAction Day, which was held Sunday, called on shoppers to purchase food and goods made in Israel to counter boycott initiatives and then to donate them.

The initiative was organized by Sussex Friends of Israel in Brighton and North West Friends of
Israel in Manchester, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

Organizers told the newspaper that the food would feed hundreds via three homeless shelters and a soup kitchen.

Non-Jews also participated in the effort, according to the Chronicle.

“People who were childish enough to suggest all we would be donating were hummus and (the Israeli snack food) Bamba can eat their words,” Raphi Bloom, co-chair of North West Friends of Israel, told the Chronicle. “We were inundated with the most sensible long-lasting products that are going to support and feed large numbers of people.”

Jewish Food Movement Sees Healthy Future

122614_mishmash_israelIn December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined the Jewish Food Movement, whose emergence has led to the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store?

“One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [dealing with] the issue of sugar, soda and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the Jewish community to take on this issue and [then doing] something about it,” said Nigel Savage, Hazon’s founder and president. Additionally, Savage predicts that Jewish food festivals “will grow the way Jewish film festivals grew,” and a generation from now they “will be some of the biggest events in American Jewish life.”

Hazon hosts its eighth annual Food Conference from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Conn. This year’s conference focuses on “Poultry, Pollinators and Policy,” exploring the topics of ethical eating, the sources of food and ecosystems and food activism and policy.

Savage notes that, so far, the Jewish Food Movement has bolstered initiatives and trends
including Jewish community-supported agriculture, Jewish educational farms, Jewish food
education as a discrete discipline, a Jewish working group on the U.S. Farm Bill, new ethical practices in the kosher meat business and serious consideration of what observance of the sabbatical (Shmita) year might mean.

The annual Hazon Food Conference, Savage said, “is a celebration of everything to do with Jews, food, and contemporary life, to bring people together across difference.”

Helmsley Trust Gives Another $11.3 Million to Israeli Causes

Helmsley Trust Gives Another $11.3 Million to Israeli CausesThe U.S.-based Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced that it was donating $11.3 million to three Israeli institutions and to eight organizations that arrange trips to Israel.

The grants, which were announced Dec. 11, will be directed to a range of causes, including agricultural research, medical research and infrastructure and, for the first time, educational trips designed to improve Israel’s international standing.

A $3.2 million grant to the Center for Agriculture in Arid Lands at the Volcani Agricultural Research Institute will support a pair of research projects aimed at increasing agricultural production in Israel’s desert region.

The trust will also donate $3.4 million to fund research at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center into factors that contribute to the development of pouchitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease associated with Crohn’s Disease.

Another $3.4 million grant will help to establish an ambulatory wing of the Organ Transplantation Center at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikvah.

The $1.3 million that the Helmsley Trust is committing to trips to Israel marks the first time that it has supported such trips. The organizations that will be sponsored for trips to Israel include Christians United for Israel, the David Project, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and Vibe Israel, among others.

Since the Helmsley Charitable Trust began awarding grants to Israel in 2009, it has committed more than $140 million to charitable organizations, including scientific research, health care and communications.

Thousands of Albert Einstein’s writings available online

121214_mishmash_israelThousands of documents, including the scientific research and personal writings of Albert Einstein, have been put online as a free searchable database.

Five thousand documents from the first 44 years of the scientist’s life opened online last week via Princeton University Press. The database, called the DigitalEinstein Papers, is part of the Einstein Papers Project.

Princeton University Press is collaborating with the California Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where the Albert Einstein Archives are housed, on the project. Tens of thousands of articles and letters still remain to be sorted and scanned, the Inside Higher Education website reported.

Thirteen volumes have been published of “The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein,” the ongoing publication of his massive written legacy comprising more than 30,000 unique documents.

The volumes are presented in their original-language version with English-language annotation, according to the website. Links are also available to English-language translations of most documents.

Yemen Minister Dedicates Award to Country’s Jews

112814_mishmash_israelYemen’s minister of culture is donating an international human-rights prize to the country’s tiny and persecuted Jewish minority.

Arwa Othman, awarded the Alison Des Forges Award by Human Rights Watch in September, called for “tolerance” in her speech and announced she was giving her award to “brothers and friends from the Jewish community,” according to the Associated Press.

Othman made the announcement at a Nov. 20 celebration in the capital city of Sanaa, where roughly half the country’s Jewish population — numbering about 90 in total — live in a guarded compound.

Arwa, a writer and former head of Yemen’s House of Folklore who was appointed this month to her Cabinet post, was praised by Human Rights Watch for her advocacy for civil rights in the country’s constitutional negotiations and her efforts to end child marriage. According to the AP, her advocacy for civil rights and the Jewish population has spurred a backlash by Yemen’s hardline Salafi Muslims.

SodaStream to Shut West Bank Factory

110714_mishmash-israelJERUSALEM — The Israeli firm SodaStream, which has been a target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, is closing its West Bank factory.

The company, which makes home soft-drink machines, made the announcement about its Maale Adumim facility last week. It also said that its third-quarter sales had dropped 9 percent.

SodaStream said that closing the West Bank factory would result in a $9 million savings in production costs. A second factory in the Galilee also will be closed. CEO Daniel Birnbaum said in September that the decision to shut down the West Bank factory would be based solely on economics.

The operations from the two plants are slated to be relocated by the end of 2015 to a new facility in Lehavim, a Negev community near Beersheba in Israel’s South. The company will receive a government subsidy for its operations in the new plant. The Lehavim plant is expected to employ a significant number of Bedouin Arabs.

The company also has a plant in Ashkelon and 20 others around the world. There are currently about 1,100 employees in the Maale Adumim plant, including 850 who are Arab-Israelis or Palestinians.

Tech Firms Increasingly Toe Europe’s Line on Hate Speech

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YouTube

A little over a year after a French court forced Twitter to remove some anti-Semitic content, experts say the ruling has had a ripple effect, leading other Internet companies to act more aggressively against hate speech in an effort to avoid lawsuits.

The 2013 ruling by the Paris Court of Appeals settled a lawsuit brought the year before by the Union of Jewish Students of France over the hashtag #UnBonJuif, which means “a good Jew” and which was used to index thousands of anti-Semitic comments that violated France’s law against hate speech.

Since then, YouTube has permanently banned videos posted by Dieudonne (pictured above), a French comedian with 10 convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews. And in February, Facebook removed the page of French Holocaust denier Alain Soral for “repeatedly posting things that don’t comply with the Facebook terms,” according to the company. Soral’s page had drawn many complaints in previous years but was only taken down this year.

“Big companies don’t want to be sued,” said Konstantinos Komaitis, a former academic and current policy adviser at the Internet Society, an international organization that encourages governments to ensure access and sustainable use of the Internet. “So after the ruling in France, we are seeing an inclination by Internet service providers like Google, YouTube, Facebook to try and adjust their terms of service — their own internal jurisprudence — to make sure they comply with national laws.”