May 20, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


US antisemitism envoy pans attacks on Soros, after criticism by Diaspora minister (JACOB MAGID , 5/20/23, Times of Israel)

The Biden administration's antisemitism envoy on Friday decried attacks against Jewish billionaire George Soros, a day after Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli came to the defense of Elon Musk, who came under fire for saying that Soros "hates humanity." [...]

US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt became the first Biden official to weigh in on the matter, tweeting Friday that "irrespective of how one feels about George Soros's politics or policies, it is entirely disingenuous to deny that many ad hominem attacks on him rely on classic antisemitic tropes and rhetoric."

"In bygone eras, the antisemites invoked the Rothschild family to advance their conspiracies about Jews. Today they use Soros to do so," she said.

On the way up to the Temple Mount, Likud is becoming Otzma Yehudit (Shalom Yerushalmi, 5/20/23, Times of Israel)

The Likud is becoming more radical. These days, there are no longer any major differences of opinion between some senior Likud members and those of Otzma Yehudit. In the past, Likud MKs, like Moshe Feiglin and Yehuda Glick, who went up to the Temple Mount were quickly cast aside. Their places have been taken by a rising force in the party, religious MKs who don't heed either the religious ban on going up or the constraints of the security implications. [...]

It's no surprise that MK David Bitan, perhaps the real barometer of the old Likud, is horrified by the phenomenon.

"I view Knesset members from the Likud going up to the Temple Mount as inappropriate. It is not worthy. People have become extremists," Bitan said Thursday.

Moshe Gafni, head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and a coalition member,  also decried the phenomena, sending a letter to Netanyahu and asking him to prevent MKs from going onto the Mount. However, Gafni's motivations are largely religious and not political.

"Recently MKs and ministers have been going up to the Temple Mount, just today a large number of elected officials from different factions in the Knesset went up there. The decision is in your hands," Gafni wrote.

"I am turning and asking you to prevent the ascent to the Temple Mount; For the political reasons regarding world reactions, for the security reasons regarding the incitement it causes, particularly with the Muslim world, and mainly because there is no real reason for them to do so -- it is not an exercise in sovereignty, rather a desecration of God's name at the holiest site of the Jewish people," Gafni wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How America weaponised the West (Arta Moeini, May 20, 2023, UnHerd)

From the Euro-Atlantic standpoint, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a galvanising event. The war reforged a long-dormant Manichaean framing of existential conflict between Russia and the "West". What is, for Ukraine, a physical and territorial conflict thus assumed ontological, apocalyptic dimensions. In the spiritual fires of the war, the myth of the "West" was rebaptised. For a Nato that was seeking a mission ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, here was an opportunity to renew its institutional and ideological rationale, as well as to project solidarity in an the face of an emergency crisis.

From the perspective of America's elites, meanwhile, the Ukraine war has underscored Europe's profound military dependence on Washington and further reinforced the US-centric basis of transatlantic relations. Not only did it ostensibly justify their long-held position that Europe must pay a much larger share for the privileges of a US security guarantee, but the debate over the strategic worth of Nato and its enlargement was effectively silenced. Since the invasion, the alliance has already expanded to Finland, while Sweden remains in the process of accession. All of this was cause for celebration, if not triumphalism, in liberal internationalist circles: America, along with the Western order it sponsors against great power challengers such as China, appeared to be vindicated.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


DeSantis' weakness as Trump slayer has GOP rivals smelling blood (CHARLIE MAHTESIAN, 05/19/2023, Politico)

No seasoned, successful politician runs for president without a theory of the case -- a detailed and plausible path to victory. And as more prospective candidates surface, it's becoming clearer what's at the heart of those plans: a growing belief within the party that DeSantis is a paper tiger.

At one time, the Florida governor looked to be the candidate best positioned to knock off Trump, en route to finishing off President Joe Biden. DeSantis was Trump without the baggage -- and 32 years younger.

He was coming off an epic 2022 reelection victory in the nation's third-largest state, marked by Florida's biggest winning margin in 40 years. Officials in both parties did a double take at his robust performance among all Latino groups.

With DeSantis, the GOP could get the same conservative policies as Trump, the same unyielding approach, the same judges, the same trolling of the libs. He was a party leader on Covid. The suburbs would be back in play. So would the five states Biden flipped from Trump in 2020.

But DeSantis' Disney jihad and his Ukraine-is-a-territorial-dispute stumble have undermined his aura of competence among donors and the business community. Trump's relentless attacks -- none of them answered -- and his drum beat of abuse have left the two-term governor bruised. Far from projecting strength, DeSantis suddenly appears to be a candidate who's thrived in a protective cocoon, isolated from media scrutiny, and surrounded by a compliant legislature afraid to test him.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Japan motorcycle makers revving up on hydrogen (SCOTT FOSTER, MAY 20, 2023, Deutsche-Welle)

Japanese motorcycle makers Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha will work together to develop hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines for "small mobility." In addition to motorcycles, that is likely to include various hydrogen-powered mini-vehicles, small marine vessels, construction equipment and drones.

Each company will develop its own final products. Their current product lines give an indication of what those might be in addition to those mentioned above: three- and four-wheeled minicars, all-terrain and off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, jet skis, outboard motors for small boats, golf carts and multi-purpose engines for the likes of lawn mowers and generators.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'It Will Perish When I'm Gone': Russian Language Usage Plunges In Wartime Ukraine (Aleksander Palikot, 5/20/23, RFE)

Millions of similar stories make up the most rapid shift away from using the Russian language in Ukraine's recent history. The number of Ukrainians who use Ukrainian exclusively or most of the time in their everyday life increased from 49 percent in 2017 to 58 percent in 2022, and the corresponding number for Russian dropped from 26 percent to 15 percent, according to a study conducted in December 2022 by prominent Ukrainian political scientist Volodymyr Kulyk and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

The trend is even stronger in the public sphere, with 68 percent opting for Ukrainian and only 11 percent for Russian at work and during education. The transition is most significant in the south and east of the country, traditionally more Russian-speaking than western and central Ukraine, where switching to Ukrainian became the widespread sign of resistance to the occupiers.

The reality behind these numbers is more complex due to the nature of Ukrainian bilingualism, with almost everyone passively knowing both Ukrainian and Russian and many speaking their mixture, Surzhyk, minority languages such as Crimean-Tatar or Hungarian, and new trends, most notably the five-million-strong population of refugees who are developing new language practices abroad. But while many Ukrainians continue to use both languages in everyday life despite the anger at Russia that the invasion has ignited, the rapid shift from Russian to Ukrainian is apparent everywhere in Ukraine: in the streets, social media, bookstores, and, perhaps most significantly, private spaces.