Israeli firm launches world’s first restaurant drone delivery service (& “shampoo socialism”)

August 28, 2017

U.S. TV host Conan O’Brien in Tel Aviv on Saturday

 

CONTENTS

1. Conan O’Brien, latest in a long list of celebs to visit Israel this year
2. Ignoring BDS motion, Iceland hires Israeli firm to launch world’s first drone delivery service to restaurants, shops and homes
3. UN Secretary-General Guterres visit Israel for first time: denounces anti-Zionism
4. Netanyahu: Iran should stop trying to set up precision-guided missile bases in both Syria and Lebanon
5. Belarus court permits luxury apartments to be built on Jewish cemeteries
6. Attacks continue in Ukraine, another Jew murdered
7. Leading rapper Jay-Z defends his lyric against charges of anti-Semitism
8. London’s Barbican accused of showing anti-Semitic film in science fiction season
9. German magazine depicts Trump making Nazi salute on its cover, accused of trivializing the Holocaust
10. France’s “shampoo socialism”

 

[Notes by Tom Gross]

CONAN O’BRIEN, LATEST IN A LONG LIST OF CELEBS TO VISIT ISRAEL THIS YEAR

Despite efforts by far left activists to harass entertainers into boycotting Israel, a large number of pop and film stars and TV personalities have visited Israel or performed there so far this year.

The latest is Conan O’Brien, who is visiting Israel for the first time, in order to tape an episode of his prime-time American TV show. O’Brien strolled around Tel Aviv this weekend shaking people’s hands and telling jokes to excited passersby on Rothschild Boulevard after dining at a local restaurant. In a video that O’Brien posted on Facebook on Saturday evening about Israelis, he noted, “all the men here are incredibly buff, and the women are beautiful.”

O’Brien’s video from Tel Aviv on Facebook (in which he calls the people “fantastic”) has been watched almost 800,000 times since yesterday. He has over 25 million followers on twitter.

 

 

IGNORING BDS MOTION, ICELAND HIRES ISRAELI FIRM TO LAUNCH WORLD’S FIRST DRONE DELIVERY SERVICE TO RESTAURANTS, SHOPS AND HOMES

In 2015, Reykjavik City Council in Iceland became the first European capital to pass a resolution calling for a blanket boycott of anything Israeli (not just of persons or products from Jewish settlements).

But as with many BDS resolutions, the motion has had little practical effect on Israel’s world-class firms, but has merely (and predictably) helped stoke anti-Semitic attitudes towards Jews in Europe and beyond.

Ignoring the resolution, last week Iceland’s online on-demand goods service AHA (the Icelandic equivalent of Amazon) hired the Israeli tech company Flytrex to launch world’s first drone delivery service, using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Iceland has many rivers and fjords that make the land transportation of goods to shops and restaurants time-consuming, expensive and difficult.

“Reykjavik’s unusual topography makes for circuitous routes and lots of traffic jams,” Yariv Bash, CEO of Tel Aviv-based drone supplier Flytrex, said. “We’re offering the ultimate solution for delivery.”

The service launched on Wednesday (photo above). When delivering goods from shops, or take-away meals from restaurants, an AHA employee brings the takeout order at a drone hub near the restaurant, while another removes it at a second hub near the customer and then walks or bikes the delivery to its final destination.

Bash said that next year AHA customers would receive their orders from drones outfitted with wires that lower deliveries into their front patios.

Amazon claims the first commercial drone delivery, a TV-streaming stick and a bag of popcorn to a customer in Cambridge, England last December. But Bash said that Amazon delivery was a one-off demonstration in a rural area and moved goods less than half a mile.

Bash said winning regulatory approval in Iceland was “a meticulous process,” but told the New York Post that he believes authorities elsewhere are warming to drone deliveries.

The American TV station CNBC reported that if successful many other countries may follow the Israeli/Icelandic example.

***

The Israeli-founded U.S. cancer treatment company Kite Pharma was today sold for $11.9 billion in cash. Kite Pharma was established by Israeli oncologist Arie Belldegrun. It is a leader in the emerging area of cancer treatments that train a patient’s immune cells to attack tumors.

 

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES VISIT ISRAEL FOR FIRST TIME: DENOUNCES ANTI-ZIONISM

UN Secretary General António Guterres this morning started his first visit to Israel since taking office.

In a meeting with Israeli President Rivlin, Guterres said “Those that call for the destruction of the State of Israel is a form of modern anti-Semitism.”

“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn't prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”

Rivlin said:

“We do appreciate all that the UN is doing to fight world hunger, to improve access to clean water, and to raising awareness about climate and environmental challenges.”

“[But] I call upon you, Mr. Secretary General, to work to end the discrimination against Israel in some branches of your organization.”

During their meeting, Rivlin stressed that it was “inconceivable” that Iran could have the rights of a member of the UN and continue inciting for the destruction of the State of Israel. He said Iran’s continuous threats to destroy another country contradicted the values of the UN, and allowed for the spread of anti-Semitism internationally.

 

NETANYAHU: IRAN SHOULD STOP TRYING TO SET UP PRECISION-GUIDED MISSILE BASES IN BOTH SYRIA AND LEBANON

In his meeting with UN Secretary-General Guterres today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel. It is also building sites to produce precision-guided missiles towards that end in both Syria and in Lebanon. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”

 

BELARUS COURT PERMITS LUXURY APARTMENTS TO BE BUILT ON JEWISH CEMETERIES

There is anger among local and foreign Jewish activists after a judge in Belarus ruled that luxury apartment blocks could be built over two former Jewish cemeteries, where many relatives of Holocaust victims are buried. The judge claimed the court lacks the jurisdiction to prevent the construction over former Jewish cemeteries in the eastern city of Gomel, and in another city Mozyr.

There are also reports that Belarusian authorities under the country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, have destroyed three synagogues – one in Luban and two others in the capital, Minsk – in recent years.

As I have noted in these dispatches before, many prominent Jews, including Marc Chagall and Shimon Peres, were born in Belarus and left because of anti-Semitism.

 

ATTACKS CONTINUE IN UKRAINE, ANOTHER JEW MURDERED

Separately, in the latest in a long line of increased attacks in Ukraine since the ouster of the previous Russian-backed government three years ago, 24 headstones in a Jewish cemetery in the west Ukrainian town of Svaliava have been smashed up.

There have also been a number of murders of Jews in Ukraine in recent years.

Last Wednesday, a 29 year-old religious Israeli tourist (Sachroch Torsonov, 29, of Jerusalem) was shot dead in the Ukrainian capital Kiev as he left the Brodsky Synagogue. Police say they don’t yet know if the motive for that killing was anti-Semitic rather than a robbery, but in other cases in the last two years where Jews were murdered in Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities initially claimed the motives did not contain an anti-Semitic element, and later concluded that they did.

***

To be fair to Belarus, the country has one of the most impressive and daunting Holocaust memorials in Europe, in the town of Khatyn near Minsk. It was originally planned in Soviet times but only completed in 2015.

The memorial features soil from each of the 186 Jewish towns and villages destroyed by the Nazis and by their local allies from Belarus and Ukraine. There is a symbolic tombstone for each village.

800,000 Jews from Belarus were murdered during the Holocaust.

At the Holocaust memorial, bell towers toll every hour for each of the houses that the German and Ukrainian troops burned with Jews inside in the former village of Khatyn during the massacre of March 22, 1943.

 

LEADING RAPPER JAY-Z DEFENDS HIS LYRIC AGAINST CHARGES OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Prominent African-American rapper has defended himself over criticism of a lyric in his new song titled “The Story of O.J.”

The lyric says: “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?”

Following the release of the song, the Anti-Defamation League said, “The idea that Jews ‘own all the property’ in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance.”

Jay-Z said this week that no one would or should take his lyric literally. “Of course I know Jewish people don’t own all the property in America. I mean, I own things!,” he said from his luxury mansion in the Los Angeles district of Beverly Hills.

 

LONDON’S BARBICAN ACCUSED OF SHOWING ANTI-SEMITIC FILM IN SCIENCE FICTION SEASON

The head of Britain’s main Jewish organization has accused London’s prestigious Barbican arts centre of showing an anti-Semitic film, which she claims is “blatant propaganda about the Israel-Palestine conflict” masquerading as science fiction.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called on London’s prestigious Barbican arts centre to remove the film “In the Future They Ate” from the exhibition “Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction”.

The sci-fi film made by Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour and Danish author Soren Lind, and financed by the Arts Council England and the Danish Arts Council, was clearly anti-Semitic, they said.

It shows ‘aliens’ (easily recognizable as Israeli Jews according to critics) pillaging and spreading falsehoods.

Gillian Merron, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: “This is blatant propaganda [against Jews], hiding behind the facade of a science fiction exhibition. It is deeply disappointing that an institution like the Barbican refuses to respond to the very real concerns of members of Britain’s Jewish community.”

In reply, Sandeep Dwesar, the chief operating officer of the Barbican, said the film: “has been programmed for its poetical vision before anything else. ... the film cannot necessarily be placed in any distinct or quantifiable time period.”

 

GERMAN MAGAZINE DEPICTS TRUMP MAKING NAZI SALUTE ON ITS COVER

A leading German magazine “Stern” has been criticized for trivializing the Holocaust for placing an image of American President Donald Trump performing a Nazi Salute while draped in the American flag on the cover of its August 24 issue.

The headline reads “Sein Kampf” (“His Struggle”), a play on the title of Hitler’s genocide-encouraging anti-Semitic autobiography.

After initially blaming both the far right and far left, Trump singled out neo-Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists for criticism earlier this month, calling racism “evil”, but then two days later blamed the left too, saying “What about alt-left? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

“Not all protesters were neo-Nazis” Trump added in remarks that many people claimed were pandering to white nationalists. “Some were there to protest the taking down of a Confederate statue,” he continued.

(For a related dispatch, please see here.)

Police have arrested more two white supremacists (one aged 18, the other 52) involved in the Charlottesville violence and issued a warrant for a third far-right protester, a Puerto Rican who said he attended the rally because he “despises leftists,” the Associated Press reported yesterday.

 

FRANCE’S “SHAMPOO SOCIALISM”

It is not only Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that is being criticized in the media for his supposedly lavish spending (on cigars and other items).

French President Emmanuel Macron is under fire after it was revealed that he had spent 26,000 euro (over $31,000) on makeup during his first three months as president.

‘Le Point’ magazine reported that his personal makeup artist had put in two bills: one for €10,000 and another for €16,000.

In a statement, Macron’s office defended the fee.

The figure is higher than the €6,000 salary that Macron’s Socialist predecessor as president, Francois Hollande, paid his makeup artist, although ‘Le Point’ says the overall figure for President Hollande’s makeup was €30,000 per quarter. Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president before Hollande, paid an enormous €8,000 per month for his, according to the American magazine Vanity Fair.

But these sums are all much lower than the €107,000 President Hollande paid his personal barber, which led to accusations of “shampoo socialism”.

 

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