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by SA JEWISH REPORT STAFF | Aug 10, 2016

Anger as Corbyn hands Chakrabarti a peerage


LONDON - Shami Chakrabarti, who led an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, has accepted a peerage from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She was nominated by Corbyn and was elevated to the House of Lords just five weeks after completing her anti-Semitism inquiry.

The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism in Britain, said the move was "a shameless kick in the teeth for all who put hope in her now wholly compromised inquiry into Labour anti-Semitism".

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the credibility of Chakrabarti's report "lies in tatters".

Chakrabarti said: "I am honoured to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge and opportunity to help hold the government to account. This is a dangerous moment for our country and we share vital human rights values that need defending more than ever before in my lifetime.”

A spokesman for Corbyn added: "Shami Chakrabarti shares Jeremy’s ambition for reform of the House of Lords. Her career has been one of public service and human rights advocacy.

"Her legal and campaigning skills, and the trust that she has gained from many ordinary Britons, will be a considerable asset to the House of Lords. Brexit will put many hard-fought rights at risk, so it is crucial that those equipped with the right skills are given the opportunity to hold this Government to account."

Asked by the Jewish Chronicle whether her appointment to the Lords undermined the credibility and independence of the anti-Semitism inquiry, Corbyn's spokesman said Chakrabarti was "an ideal appointment to the Lords". - Jewish Chronicle, London


Placebos by prescription may work like medicine


HAIFA - Positive expectations improve the effectiveness of the immune system. This is the conclusion of a study by Israeli researchers published in Nature Medicine.

Although the effect of one’s mood and attitude on the immune system is well documented - including the “placebo effect” in which patients feel better after taking a sham medication - this study suggests a specific mechanism of action of the placebo effect.

The findings potentially could lead to the development of new drugs that utilise the brain’s ability to cure through positive messages.

“Our findings indicate that activation of areas of the brain associated with positive expectations can affect how the body copes with diseases,” explained lead author Asya Rolls, assistant professor of immunology at the medical school of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

“Placebo is a complex phenomenon in which the patient’s expectation of recovery affects his state of health,” she added. “Expectation of improvement and arousal of positive emotions are reflected in the activity of neurons in the brain.

“So we decided to understand, at the molecular level, how areas of the brain associated with positive expectations affect the functioning of the immune system - the body’s main defence system.

“Understanding the mechanisms connecting the brain to the immune system could lead to significant medical applications that can potentially improve the prognosis of diseases.”

The research, carried out by doctoral student Tamar Ben-Shaanan, examined the effect of the “reward system” - a brain region triggered in anticipation of a positive experience, and stimulated during the placebo effect. - Israel 21c


Beersheba to meet Glasgow Celtic in playoff for group stage


BEERSHEBA - Hapoel Beersheba’s final obstacle on the way to the Champions League group stage will be Scottish powerhouse Celtic.

The Israeli champion team was drawn to face the former European champion in the playoffs, the final qualifying round.

The first leg is at Celtic Park on Wednesday, August 17, with Beersheba to host the return leg the following Tuesday.

Beersheba is looking to become the sixth Israeli team to play in the Champions League group stage.

Maccabi Tel Aviv qualified last season for the second time in club history (2004/05, 2015/16), with Hapoel Tel Aviv reaching the prestigious stage in 2010/11 and Maccabi Haifa doing so twice in the past (2002/03, 2009/10).

Beersheba, which won its first local championship in 40 years last season, registered a major upset to reach the playoffs, claiming a 1-0 win over Greek powerhouse Olympiacos at Turner Stadium last week Wednesday.

The first leg in Athens ended in a 0-0 deadlock.

Beersheba has already secured itself continental soccer deep into the winter, as even if it loses in the playoffs, it will receive a place in the Europa League group stage. As a result, Beersheba is already guaranteed 5,4 million euro from UEFA prize money alone.

“At this stage of the competition every opponent is tough and that is certainly the case with Celtic, a team with a long tradition in Europe,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “We will study Celtic, prepare and continue in our way.” - Jerusalem Post


Hasbara Fellowships files complaint over pro-Israel group’s exclusion


TORONTO - After Hasbara Fellowships was excluded in March from participating in a social justice-themed campus event because of the group’s “ties to Israel”, Robert Walker, the Canadian director of the organisation, decided he wasn’t going to take the discrimination lying down.

On July 29, Hasbara Fellowships filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) against the Student Association at Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and the UOIT Faculty Association for its “blatant and remorseless discrimination… targeted at Jewish and Israeli people”.

Last February, Walker acted on an invitation by the Oshawa-based UOIT’s student association to apply for a table at a Social Justice Week event to promote the Hasbara Fellowships’ “Israel Peace Week” programme.

Walker said he received a rejection e-mail from Denise Martins, executive assistant of UOIT’s faculty association, that said since the student association passed a motion endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in January, and because Hasbara Fellowships “seems closely tied to the State of Israel… it would be against the motion to provide any type of resources to your organisation”.

UOIT’s student association released a statement in defence of its decision to exclude Hasbara Fellowships from the event, which included anti-capitalist and Marxist-Leninist programming, as well as anti-Israel programming.

“The stated objectives of Hasbara Fellowships are in conflict with the objectives of Social Justice Week… Any organisation whose mandate is to promote policies that contributes [sic] to the colonisation of indigenous peoples, Palestinian or otherwise, does not align with the principles of social justice,” the statement said. - Canadian Jewish News


‘Pokémon Go’ capturing Jewish hearts and sites around LA


LOS ANGELES - With “Pokémon Go” suddenly a craze across the world, it was only a matter of time before the augmented reality game’s creatures started showing up at Jewish sites across Los Angeles.

The impact was felt almost immediately at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH), much to the dismay of the museum’s executive staff. The site was designated a PokeStop, a real-world location incorporated into the gameplay where players can collect items.

“We expressed to the folks at the game company we didn’t think the… museum was an appropriate place for the game to be played out because of the sensitivity of the material being presented and educated,” LAMOTH executive director Samara Hutman said in a phone interview. 

But like the rest of the country - the game has been downloaded more than 30 million times in the United States, according to SurveyMonkey Intelligence - Hutman said she’s intrigued by the possibilities such technology presents.

“I think if I had to sum it up, I would say we like to think organisationally we retain a curiosity about emergent ways of connections,” she said.

Elsewhere in the city, Pokémon are making their presence felt - from the purple, snake-like Ekans discovered at the Museum of Tolerance, a PokeStop, to the cute, yellow Pikachu who has made appearances at Pan Pacific Park outside LAMOTH, to the wild Mankey this reporter found in his Jewish Journal cubicle. 

A number of local synagogues also serve as PokeStops. -Jewish Journal, Los Angeles


Jewish schoolgirl Eden Blair tops in world debating


SYDNEY - Jewish Sydney Girls’ High School learner Eden Blair has officially been named the best young debater on the planet after being ranked number one in the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC).

“It’s so exciting and so hard to believe,” the teenager who is in her final year of high school, said. “It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time, since I did my first debate in year five.”

The Australian team, captained by Blair, travelled to Stuttgart, Germany, last month to compete for the world title. They finished third overall, narrowly losing to the Canadian team by one vote in the finals, arguing that a school’s history curriculum should be designed to promote national pride.

Adjudicators hailed Blair as the top individual performer in the contest.

“I was very lucky to be part of a great team,” Blair said. “Our coach had previously won the World University Debating Championships, so we were in good hands.

“We went a week early and did debate training in Berlin. As we got closer and closer to the finals, I got more nervous. The audiences got bigger, and people started filming us. But I also go more confident as we went on.”

The WSDC brings together 56 countries, each of which send their top five speakers to the finals. After eight rounds of debating, a panel of adjudicators select the finalists. This year, Australia qualified in first place, tying with the South African team.

This is the second time Blair has competed in the WSDC on the Australian team. She hopes to study a combination of law, English and history at university in 2017. –

 Australian Jewish News



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