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It’s 2020 and anti-Semitism is an electoral tactic again

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There were 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents reported in the US in 2019—a record-breaking year as tracked by the Anti-Defamation League, and almost double the rate reported in 2016. The resurgence of anti-Semitism is partly attributed to the mainstreaming of QAnon, a rise in hate speech more broadly, and the radicalization of many political spaces online. A recent study showed that as much as 9% of public Facebook posts related to Jewish Americans contained derogatory language. Most Jewish voters report feeling less secure than they did four years ago, and over 80% of Jewish voters believe that the rise of anti-Semitism and white nationalism is one of the most important issues in the 2020 election. 

Jewish Americans make up just over 2% of the US population, but they represent up to 4% of the electorate, with pivotal populations in swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. Jewish voters as a whole tend to vote Democrat, but Orthodox Jews lean right, and Jews as a whole contribute a disproportionate amount of funding to both political parties.

More often than not in this election, however, Jewish voters are being talked about more than they are being talked to. Political conversations leading up to the election have been rich in disinformation and divisiveness, with online campaigns often pitting Jewish Americans against other groups of voters—especially other racial and ethnic minorities. Anti-Semitic narratives have become a core strategy for some groups.

Creating division

On June 12, as the country was in the middle of the largest protest movement in history, a new channel called “Black Lives Matter Global” cropped up on Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform. The channel started filling with Black power and BLM imagery rife with anti-Semitic rhetoric, intended to paint BLM and Jewish Americans as being opposed to each other. The channel was shared in many white supremacist groups on Telegram, and some of the imagery found its way onto Facebook. The posts were just one example of divisive and misleading content intended to ignite a chasm between Black and Jewish communities this summer. 

Jewishness is being used as a wedge in other underrepresented communities too, often in more formal communication channels. Florida, a key swing state, has been inundated with disinformation this election, particularly targeted toward Hispanic voters. Much of the disinformation is seeded with anti-Black and anti-Semitic narratives, often positing false relationships between the two groups. The Miami Herald’s Spanish newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, ran an advertising insert in September that challenged Jewish support for the Black Lives Matter movement and “Antifa,” equating the two groups to Nazis. And the Miami-based Spanish station Radio Caracol ran a 16-minute segment suggesting that a Joe Biden victory would lead to a dictatorship run by “Jews and Blacks.” The onslaught prompted Florida congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to ask the FBI to investigate anti-Semitic and racist political disinformation in the state.

Meanwhile, as the QAnon conspiracy theory has gained traction, it has accelerated the spread of anti-Semitic tropes online. A 2017 ADL review of anti-Semitism on Twitter warned that “the amount of anti-Semitism in QAnon-related content is currently very low,” but that “it has the potential to proliferate especially quickly given the viral nature of the subculture.” It proved to be an accurate warning: QAnon has swallowed up many other conspiratorial narratives, including thinly veiled versions of preexisting anti-Jewish tropes such as the “blood libel,” and latched onto audiences of white supremacists and evangelicals.  

 “QAnon is so disturbing because it shows that many people are susceptible to bizarre conspiracy theories,” says David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, a coalition of Jewish groups. “If people can believe that nonsense, then they can believe crazy conspiracy theories about Jews, and some do. It underscores that one form of conspiracy mongering or bigotry can easily morph into another.”

Twenty-four congressional candidates in the 2020 election have made comments associated with QAnon, and at least one of those candidates is expected to win. And President Trump has repeatedly refused to condemn it, allowing the virtual cult to nestle itself under the ideological umbrella of the Republican Party. 

Vilification

On October 15, Michael Bloomberg announced a $250,000 donation to the Jewish Democratic Council of America to boost support for Joe Biden among Jewish voters in Florida. The following week, the Highlands County Republican Party started running ads on Facebook accusing Bloomberg and George Soros of trying to buy Florida votes and destroy electoral primaries. (The party’s Facebook page is rife with all kinds of misinformation.) 

Online advertisements that invoke Jewish figures such as Bloomberg, Soros, and Bernie Sanders often tread close to anti-Semitism. On October 26, the last day to submit new political advertisements to Facebook before the site instituted a ban, American Action News, a conservative nonprofit with over 1 million followers on Facebook, ran an ad with a picture of George Soros and the subtitle “Burn It Down: Soros planning nationwide chaos if Trump wins.” It was targeted to a group of 10,000 to 50,000 Facebook users in Virginia. It ran from October 26 through November 1, despite Facebook’s policies against incendiary content. 

The vilification of Jewish political figures contributes to the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism in politics. Bernstein says he’s actually been “pleasantly surprised” that it hasn’t played a bigger role in the presidential campaigns, though there have been alarming incidents of anti-Semitism in smaller campaigns. 

Forged dogmas 

Jewish voters have been targeted by online campaigns too, reflecting the fact that they are not a politically uniform group. Jewish support for Donald Trump has risen 5 percentage points since 2016, although Jewish support of Joe Biden is high across national polls. But division within the Jewish community has been exacerbated by online disinformation.

In one such example, JewsChoose4MoreYears, a political action committee, has funded a number of advertisements in Jewish newspapers in swing states. One of them, entitled “This does not end well for Jews,” included a fake statement about support for the Holocaust attributed to Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim. Many Jewish newspapers have refused to run the advertisements. 

Such material is confusing and alarming, in part because its source is not clear. When asked about these type of ads, Bernstein said, “I’ve seen all sorts of disinformation aimed specifically at Jewish voters. It might come from fringe Jewish groups, and it might come from private people or ancillaries to the campaigns”

The JCPA released a joint statement last week signed by 90 Jewish organizations that advocate for free, fair, and accessible elections. They’ve set up a crisis team to monitor the elections and respond, if appropriate. “We know it’s going to be challenging,” Bernstein says.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Eat Just to sell lab-grown meat in Singapore after gaining “world first” regulatory approval

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Eat Just will start offering lab-grown chicken meat in Singapore after gaining regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). The cell-cultured chicken will eventually be produced under Eat Just’s new GOOD Meat brand through partnerships with local manufacturers and go on sale to restaurants before it is available to consumers.

No chickens were killed to obtain the cell line used to produce Eat Just’s cultured meat, global head of communications Andrew Noyes told TechCrunch. Instead, the process starts with cell isolation, where cells are sourced through methods that can include a biopsy from a live animal. After the cells are cultured, they are transferred into a bioreactor, fed with a proprietary mix of proteins, amino acids, minerals, sugars, salts and other nutrients and then harvested after they achieve enough density.

While there are plenty of other companies working on lab-grown meats using various techniques, Eat Just describes the Singapore government’s review and regulatory approval as a “world first.” The company said that during the approval process, it went through 20 productions runs of cell-cultured chicken in 1,200-liter bioreactors to prove the consistency of its manufacturing process. Eat Just also said no antibiotics were used and that its cultured chicken has an “extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken.”

Noyes said the company is already working with a restaurant to add its GOOD Meat chicken to their menu, and hopes to announce a launch date soon.

In Eat Just’s announcement today, chief executive officer Josh Tetrick said, “Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system.”

The government is currently engaged in an initiative, called “30 by 30,” to produce 30% of the country’s food supply locally by 2030. Spearheaded by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), the initiative was prompted because Singapore currently imports over 90% of its food, which makes it vulnerable to export bans or the logistics issues highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. As part of “30 by 30,” the SFA and Agency for Science, Technology and Research has made $144 million SGD in research funding available.

Eat Just, whose other products include a plant-based egg substitute, announced last month it is partnering with Proterra Investment Partners Asia to launch a new Asian subsidiary. The partnership includes a factory in Singapore that received support from the government’s Economic Development board.

There are several factors driving demand for cultured meat and plant-based protein in Asian markets. The first is concerns about the safety of meat from slaughterhouses that gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also highlighted vulnerabilities in the production and supply chain that can be potentially be avoided with lab-produced meat and meat alternatives.

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Apple releases its ‘Best of 2020’ App Store winners and most downloaded apps of the year

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Apple today released its highly anticipated annual list of the best apps and games of 2020. As in previous years, App Store editors selected the winners based on factors like the app’s quality, creative design, usability and use of Apple technology, among other things. The “Best of 2020” winners this year include a number of apps that helped people transition to a life spent at home. For example, home workout app Wakeout! won iPhone App of the Year, while Zoom snagged the top spot as the iPad App of the Year.

Disney+, which helped families keep kids entertained during coronavirus lockdowns, won for Apple TV App of the Year. The streaming service had just won “best app” in Google Play’s User Choice category, announced on Tuesday alongside its other Play Store winners.

Image Credits: Wakeout!

Top games of the year highlighted our collective need for escapism, often to fantasy worlds. This year, the list of game winners included Genshin Impact (also a Play Store “best game” winner) for iPhone Game of the Year; Legends of Runeterra as iPad Game of the Year; Disco Elysium as Mac Game of the Year; Dandara Trials of Fear as Apple TV Game of the Year; and Sneaky Sasquatch as the Apple Arcade Game of the Year.

Image Credits: Fantastical

Meanwhile, productivity app Fantastical won as Apple’s Mac App of the Year, a reflection of our new work-from-home lifestyles.

A relaxation and sleep app, Endel, won Apple Watch App of the Year.

Image Credits: Endel

It’s not surprising to see another relaxation app win a top app of the year accolade. Google just awarded sleep app, Loóna, the title of best app of 2020 on Tuesday, as well.

2020 has been a tough year filled with stressful events, including not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but Trump’s impeachment and November’s contentious U.S. presidential elections, the biggest stock market crash since ’87, protests and riots over racial injustice, wildfires in Australia and the U.S. West, the Weinstein verdict, Brexit, the deadly Beirut explosion, violence in Delhi, the Hong Kong protests, locust swarms in East Africa and deaths of prominent figures like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kobe Bryant Chadwick Boseman and others.

As Apple explained in its announcement, apps are a reflection of culture. And this year, they reflected people’s focus on self-care and mental health, remote work and learning, staying connected with family and friends, interactive and social gaming, and more.

Image Credits: Pokémon GO

Apple selected a handful of apps to reflect these “app trends,” including self-care app Shine, remote learning app Explain Everything Whiteboard, family messaging app Caribu, charitable giving app SharetheMeal and the revamped Pokémon GO, which shifted to support indoor gaming.

“This year, more than ever before, some of our most creative and connected moments happened in apps. This was thanks to the amazing work of developers who introduced fresh, helpful app experiences throughout the year,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow, in a statement. “Around the world, we saw remarkable efforts from so many developers, and these Best of 2020 winners are 15 outstanding examples of that innovation,” he added.

Image Credits: Apple

This year’s “Best of” winners will receive the first-ever physical App Store Best of 2020 award, featuring the App Store logo set into 100% recycled aluminum, with the winner’s name on the side.

Apple also unveiled the most downloaded apps and games of the year, which, unlike its “best of” editorial selections, are a showcase of real consumer demand.

Not surprisingly, these lists included remote work must-haves like Zoom and Gmail; a number of escapist games and, not coincidentally, pandemic simulator Plague, Inc.; the viral hit Among Us! ,which even AOC live-streamed; kids’ “metaverse” platforms like Minecraft and Roblox; and the usual set of top social apps — this year led by TikTok, not a Facebook-owned app.

The most-downloaded apps and games of 2020 were, as follows:

Top Free iPhone Apps

  1. ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  2. TikTok
  3. Disney+
  4. YouTube
  5. Instagram
  6. Facebook
  7. Snapchat
  8. Messenger
  9. Gmail
  10. Cash App

Top Paid iPhone Apps

  1. TouchRetouch
  2. Procreate Pocket
  3. Dark Sky Weather
  4. Facetune
  5. HotSchedules
  6. AutoSleep Track Sleep
  7. The Wonder Weeks
  8. SkyView
  9. Shadowrocket
  10. Sky Guide

Top Free iPhone Games

  1. Among Us!
  2. Call of Duty: Mobile
  3. Roblox
  4. Subway Surfers
  5. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing
  6. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  7. Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles
  8. Brain Out
  9. Coin Master
  10. Cube Surfer!

Top Paid iPhone Games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Plague Inc.
  3. Heads Up!
  4. Monopoly
  5. Bloons TD6
  6. Geometry Dash
  7. NBA 2K20
  8. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  9. The Game of Life
  10. True Skate

Top Free iPad Apps

  1. ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  2. Disney+
  3. YouTube
  4. Netflix
  5. Google Chrome
  6. TikTok
  7. Amazon Prime Video
  8. Gmail
  9. Hulu
  10. Google Classroom

Top Paid iPad Apps

  1. Procreate
  2. GoodNotes 5
  3. Notability
  4. Duet Display
  5. Teach Your Monster
  6. LumaFusion
  7. Affinity Designer
  8. Toca Hair Salon 3
    9: Toca Life: Hospital
  9. Toca Kitchen 2

Top Free iPad Games

  1. Among Us!
  2. Roblox
  3. Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game
  4. Ink Inc. – Tattoo Drawing
  5. Call of Duty: Mobile
  6. Subway Surfers
  7. Dancing Road: Color Ball Run!
  8. Tiles Hop – EDM Rush
  9. Mario Kart Tour
  10. Save The Girl!

Top Paid iPad Games

  1. Minecraft
  2. Monopoly
  3. Bloons TD 6
  4. Plague Inc.
  5. Geometry Dash
  6. The Game of Life
  7. Five Nights at Freddy’s
  8. Human: Fall Flat
  9. Stardew Valley
  10. Terraria

Top Arcade Games

  1. Sneaky Sasquatch
  2. Hot Lava
  3. Skate City
  4. Sonic Racing
  5. PAC-MAN Party Royale
  6. SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit
  7. Oceanhorn 2
  8. Crossy Road Castle
  9. WHAT THE GOLF?
  10. LEGO Brawls

 

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Extra Crunch membership now available to readers in Israel

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We’re excited to announce that Extra Crunch memberships are now available in Israel. That adds to our existing support in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
  • UK and select European countries
  • Australia

Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here.

Use the code ISRAEL122020 during checkout for an additional 25% off an annual or 2-year plan. The discount code expires on December 11, 2020.

Israel has always been of interest to TechCrunch. It’s home to one of the hottest startup scenes in the world with endless successful companies emerging from the region. From 2018 to 2019, over $1.4B in funding went to Israeli cybersecurity startups. Startups like Check Point, CyberX, and Illusive Networks have helped reimagine cybersecurity, while companies like Lemonade have disrupted the insurance industry. Whether it’s robotics or hardware startups, there’s no shortage of diverse interest with Israeli startups.

We’ve also had the pleasure of hosting several in-person events in Tel Aviv over the years, and we’ve loved meeting the talented startup founders and investors in the region. There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the startup scene here, but the passion and enthusiasm of the founders in Israel is near the top of the list. 

Thanks to everyone who voted on where to expand. If you’d like to see Extra Crunch memberships available in your country, let us know here.

Join Extra Crunch by heading here.

What is Extra Crunch?

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, and stay connected. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily private market analysis, and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization, and other work topics.

We’d love to have you join our growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams.

Committing to an annual and two-year plan will save you a few bucks on the membership price and unlock access to TechCrunch event discounts and Partner Perks. Extra Crunch annual membership gets you 20% off tickets to virtual events like TC Sessions: Space. The Partner Perks program features discounts and savings on services from DocSend, Crunchbase, AWS and more.

You can sign up or learn more about Extra Crunch here.

Don’t forget to use the code ISRAEL122020 during checkout for an extra 25% off an annual or 2-year plan. The discount code expires on December 11, 2020.

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