First Read For Feb. 13


NFL players to Israel: We’re not coming

Three NFL players who were scheduled to arrive in Israel today as part of a campaign to showcase the country’s “true face” have pulled out of the trip, explaining that they do not want to be “used” by the Israeli government, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the first to pull out of the tour planned for 11 football stars in a joint initiative between the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

The trip will include visits to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Christian sites and according to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is supposed to give the players a balanced picture of Israel.

Bennett explained that he felt that his “itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of good will.’ I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett added.

Muslim girl in Denmark targeted Jewish schools

Danish police have formally charged a 16-year-old girl with plotting to bomb two schools, one of which is Jewish, according to the London Jewish Chronicle. The girl had planned to used an explosive known as TATP to attack a school west of Copenhagen and a Jewish school in the centre of the city.

According to reports at the time of her arrest, the teenager had recently converted to Islam.

The Jewish school targeted by the girl was Carolineskolen in Copenhagen. She also planned to attack her own school, Sydskolen in Fårevejle.

Holocaust denier repeats anti-Semitic claims in Scotland

British writer and convicted Holocaust denier David Irving held a secret event at a Hilton hotel in Glasgow Friday night, where he” expounded in length on his anti-Semitic views and conspiracy theories,” Haaretz reports. 

Irving’s speaking engagement drew criticism from Scottish politicians, who also charged the hotel for proving a platform for the Holocaust denier’s views. The hotel, for its part, said it does not “adopt, share or promote the views” of those it provides accommodations for.

Irving, 78, is the author of several books which defend Adolf Hitler and deny that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War II. He lives in Nairn, Scotland, and is currently in the middle of a tour of speaking engagements, the locations of which are not advertised to avoid cancelations and protests.


Are Trump’s Tweets more bizarre on Shabbat?

Writer Andrew Kahn analyzed the Tweets of President Trump, and finds that become more outrageous when his Sabbath-observant son-in-law Jared Kushner, Slate reports. Its conclusion: “Trump’s Shabbat Tweets Are His Craziest and Most Exclamatory.”

An article on Kahn’s findings in Vanity Fair mentions, for example,  that “Trump had issued his executive order on immigration just before the start of Shabbat,” when Kushner and his wife Ivanka were at home. “They aren’t supposed to work, use electronics, or babysit world leaders,” Slate stated.

“No one has tried to verify empirically whether Trump behaves differently on Shabbat, Kahn wrote. “I made a first attempt.” He used a database of the president’s “insults, outbursts, and propaganda.”

Since last summer’s Republican National Convention,  “Trump has used an average of 17 percent more exclamation points per tweet on Shabbat,” Kahn wrote. “I also tested whether Trump has used more consecutive capital letters on Shabbat (e.g., “FAKE NEWS”). He has.”