Week in Review: High-Tech Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel Boycott Bill Axed and much more!

By | Feb 06, 2014

The New York State Assembly has withdrawn a bill that would cut off funding to colleges and universities that initiate boycotts of Israel. Although a similar bill, sponsored by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, passed the State Senate last week, the Assembly removed the proposed legislation from consideration so that lawmakers could take a closer look at it. The New York Times editorial board wrote that the bill would “trample on academic freedoms and chill free speech and dissent.”

Several Israeli politicians have labeled U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry an “anti-Semite” after he said Sunday Israel could face international boycotts if peace talks fail. “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not be their mouthpiece,” said Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. The State Department, meanwhile, clarified that Kerry’s “only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority has launched an updated version of its digital library of the Dead Sea scrolls to include 10,000 new high-tech images and translations. “These are the best possible images of thousands of fragments,” said Pnina Shor, curator and head of the authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project. “The technology was invented for NASA. It is a living site and a uniquely comprehensive one for documents this old.”

Israel has given final approval for the construction of 558 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move Palestinian officials say undermines the ongoing U.S.-brokered peace negotiations.

Scarlett Johansson’s resignation as an Oxfam global ambassador in the wake of her controversial affiliation with SodaStream, an Israeli product made in the West Bank, has provoked an outpour of opinion, including boycott activist Omar Barghouti’s New York Times op-ed, “Why Israel Fears the Boycott,” and Israeli author Hirsh Goodman’s “Losing the Propaganda War,” also in the Times.

The Times reports this week that AIPAC’s influence over Washington, DC is waning, as evidenced by the lobbying group’s standoff with the White House over a new Iran sanctions bill. Although AIPAC has been pushing President Barack Obama to bring the bill to a vote, he has refused, saying it would jeopardize his ongoing diplomatic efforts.

One of the first Facebook users is now an educator in Israel, studying at the rabbinical seminary of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Arie Hasit, who lived in the same dorm as Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard, was the fourth person to open an account with the social media platform, making his the first profile that didn’t belong to one of the co-founders.

The recent debate over whether female students at Modern Orthodox Jewish high schools should be allowed to wear tefillin has prompted Slate writer Miriam Krule to ask: “How long will educated, committed women want to be part of the community that doesn’t want them?”

In the latest battle over ultra-Orthodox military service in Israel, the Finance Ministry announced this week that it is cutting funding to seminary students exempt from compulsory military service. “If you do not take on the duties, then why are you asking to get the privileges?” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid. The cuts are expected to affect around 10,000 students.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

One thought on “Week in Review: High-Tech Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel Boycott Bill Axed and much more!

  1. Nasdaq7 says:

    Hirsh Goodman’s facts about apartheid is wrong. Anyone can say anything about another country and say it in such a way that people think those actions were widespread in use: the equivalent, for Israel would be: what was Israel like pre-90s? Oh. Israel tortured its prisoners. Israel did this, israel did that. Hirsh Goodman is endangering minorities in South Africa. 30,000 whites have been murdered. 3000 farmers have been killed since 1994, it doesn’t help anyone that he spreads hate speech and false rumors about apartheid.


    Wikipedia states: “Press freedom has a chequered history in South Africa. While some sectors of the South African media openly criticised the apartheid system and the National Party government…”

    What does he write in the New York Times?
    “There was no free press” AND “There was no freedom of speech or expression”

    There he is already caught out lying!

    The entire article is 100% incorrect. I’m not going to waste my time correcting everything. Here’s another fact:

    “Between 1961 and 1989, about 134 political prisoners were executed by the apartheid government at Pretoria Central Prison.”

    134 political prisoners. 134!

    How many political prisoners were executed in Iran / China?

    He continues to spread hate speech constantly pairing off Israel and South Africa. He never stops…with lies AND exaggerations. He even threatened to leave Israel if Netanyahu won another election.

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