I am intellectually curious about Weiss’s thoughts on the fourth pillar of antisemitism that contaminates Western Europe: Guilt-defensiveness antisemitism.
The Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex famously remarked, with biting sarcasm, that “The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”
Based on my nearly 20 years of writing and analyzing contemporary antisemitism in Continental Europe, I posit that Rex’s formulation about German society punishing Jews because of the memory of the Shoah, which infuses pathological guilt into many Germans, needs to be updated.
In a modernized version of Rex, one might say that Western Europeans will never forgive Israel for the Holocaust. In short, that Western European countries such as France, Sweden, Austrian, Italy and others that were complicit in the Shoah are intensely focused on imposing discipline and punishment on Israel because of their guilt associated with Holocaust. What other plausible explanation exists for Western Europe’s relentless attacks on Israel and its singling out of Israel, only Israel, for a punitive demarcation of its products from the disputed territories in the West Bank and the Golan?
There has been progress recently in Germany in the fight against contemporary antisemitism, Weiss notes, for example the Bundestag decision to classify the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting Israel as anti-Semitic.
However, there is still the problem that John le Carré described so forcefully in his novel The Little Drummer Girl (1983), when the Palestinain terrorist Khalil says, “We have many friends in Germany. But not because they love Palestinians. Only because they hate Jews.”
A 2017 German government study revealed that nearly 33 million Germans, out of a total population of 82 million, are infected with contemporary antisemitism–that is hatred of the Jewish state.
The report said, in a section titled “Agreement with Israel-related antisemitism,” that 40% of Germans who were polled approved of the following statement: “Based on Israel’s policies, I can understand people having something against the Jews.”
The two most powerful Democratic politicians in America, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will headline the annual conference of J Street, the liberal Israel lobby.
The conference, which drew 3,000 people last year, is among the most prominent liberal Jewish gatherings of the year. It will take place in late October, and Pelosi and Schumer will speak on the night of Oct. 28. Pelosi recently launched an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Schumer’s presence at the conference is especially notable because he has established a reputation as a traditional pro-Israel voice in the Senate. He is a perennial speaker at the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which is to the right of J Street. He also voted against President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement in 2015, a deal that J Street strongly supported.
J Street advocates for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and has been a frequent Trump critic. Its affiliated political action committee, JStreetPac, raised $5 million for more than 100 Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
“At a time when many of our core values are under threat both in Israel and here at home, J Street is proud to stand with so many allies who are defending democracy and working towards a better future,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.
New Jersey is experiencing a “huge increase” in antisemitic activity and “every tool” needs to be used to combat the trend, the congressman representing the state’s 5th electoral district declared on Friday.
Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer was speaking on a conference call arranged to address a spate of swastika daubings and other antisemitic offenses in New Jersey public schools in recent weeks.
Highlighting the growing threat posed by white supremacist groups across the state, Gottheimer emphasized that his office was actively assisting security enhancement at religious institutions.
“We’re working together with our communities and our religious institutions by providing them with non-profit security grants,” Gottheimer said.
Grants of over $1 million this year have assisted synagogues, mosques, temples and other religious buildings with extra lighting, better locks and other safety measures.
Misogynist thinking and actions exist in America today but not only among right-wing conservatives. It is also flourishing among our media and academic elites. Such thinking is flying high under the banner of “free speech,” “multi-cultural relativism,” “anti-racism,” and “political correctness.” Dare to question this elite’s right to silence and shame those who challenge their views—i.e., that the West is always to blame, that jihadists are freedom-fighters, that the Islamic face veil is a free choice or a religious commandment, that polygamy encourages sisterhood, that Islam is a race, not a religious and political ideology—and, as I’ve noted many times, one is attacked as a racist, an Islamophobe, and a conservative, and swiftly demonized and de-platformed.
While MGM/Hulu’s TV series is dramatically compelling, part soap opera, part horror movie, part Warrior Queen fantasy, the series is radically different from Atwood’s 1985 novel. For example, Atwood’s narrator, Ofglen, is not an increasingly daring, crazed, female assassin, as Elizabeth Moss brilliantly plays her. She is hardly heroic at all; under totalitarianism, heroism, collective or individual, is quickly ferreted out and destroyed. It exists but is rare.
Contemporary viewers are hungry for multi-racial characters, interracial and same-sex couples, “badass” women. Hulu gives them to us. Hulu’s Canada is a multi-racial, politically correct refuge for Gilead’s escapees; same-sex couples and feminists are government leaders. This is not true in the novel. On the contrary, in her 1985 Epilogue, Atwood has Canada rounding up and returning all Gilead escapees.
Atwood the divine novelist is absolutely entitled to depict whatever she wishes. But the current crop of reviewers as well as the filmmakers are playing partisan politics with her original vision and are refusing to see other and larger global dangers contained in her work.
Women’s freedom and women’s lives worldwide are under the most profound siege. To focus solely on the United States or on the Caucasian, Judeo-Christian West is diversionary. It scapegoats one country, one culture, for the far greater crimes of other countries and cultures.
The confidence of 1967 had turned out to be arrogant pride in 1973; its optimism, the folly of wishful thinking. Although there had been ample indications of the impending Egyptian and Syrian attack, Israel’s leadership had refused to believe it would happen and had not taken the necessary precautions. Menachem Begin, then the leader of the opposition, was speaking for all Israelis when, shortly after the war’s end, he declared in the Knesset: Grief over the terrible mistake [of not calling up the reserves in advance and/or undertaking a preventive strike] . . . will never cease to haunt us. All would have been different, militarily and politically, were it not for the New Moon to the Tenth’s blindness.
Begin, a master rhetorician, had chosen his words carefully. “The New Moon to the Tenth,” beyn keseh l’asor, is a traditional rabbinic phrase for the ten “days of awe” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur; the literal meaning of keseh (based on Psalms 81:4) is “covering up,” that is, the disappearance of the old moon at the month’s end before the new moon is sighted. Furthermore, the literary term used by Begin for “blindness,” likuy m’orot, which in Hebrew signifies more a judgmental or moral loss of vision than a physical one, also means “eclipse.” The intended parallelism was painfully apparent: as the light of the moon is eclipsed at the beginning of the ten days preceding Yom Kippur, so was the judgment of Israel’s leaders.
Ever since 1973, Yom Kippur has had a significance in Israel that it does not have in the rest of the Jewish world. Besides being a day of judgment for the sins of the individual, it has been seared into Israeli consciousness as a day of judgment for the nation—one on which a whole country was found guilty of the sin of hubris and made to pay a terrible price for it.
In colloquial Israeli speech, the words yom kippur have come to denote any shocking comeuppance, so that saying that something was someone’s “Yom Kippur” is like saying in English “It was his Waterloo.” There will never again be a Yom Kippur in Israel without this double sense of it, and the day’s heavy somberness is felt even by those who do not relate to it religiously. It will indeed always continue to haunt.
Israel is the only country in the world that lives in a status called “the war between the wars.” Since it is surrounded by enemies who seek its destruction, even when not in official wartime, it is constantly dealing with small scale attacks from those enemies. The greatest example of this status is the three-year period from 1967 to 1970, a period which is now referred to as the “War of Attrition.”
One would have thought that Israel’s resounding victory over all the neighboring Arab countries in the June 1967 Six Day War would have given the Jewish state a few years of peace and quiet.
But this wasn’t the case.
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was determined to do whatever possible to win back the Sinai Peninsula which Israel captured during the war that ended on June 9, 1967. While the Six Day War was over, it wasn’t long until the War of Attrition began.
As early as July 1, Egyptian commandos moved to within 10 miles of the Israeli position on the eastern side of the Suez Canal. Israel, working under a plan to prevent Egyptian forces gathering in the area, attacked the commandos and lost one soldier with 13 wounded. The next day, the Israeli air force bombed the Egyptian artillery that was providing cover for its commandos. That led to an Egyptian air force strike against Israeli forces in the Sinai and, for all intents and purposes, the June 9 ceasefire was no longer relevant. Skirmishes between the two sides continued throughout July with numerous Egyptian fighter jets shot down by Israel and Israel sinking two Egyptian torpedo boats.
There was relative quiet during August, September and most of October but then on October 21, 1967, the Egyptian Navy sunk the Eilat, an Israeli naval destroyer, in international waters off the coast of Port Said, killing 47 Israeli sailors. Israel retaliated with extensive bombing of Egyptian oil refineries and depots in the region, resulting in significant artillery battles between the two sides, with the Egyptians suffering civilian casualties.
Microsoft said Friday that it believed that hackers linked to the Iranian government have recently targeted a US presidential campaign, as well as government officials, media targets and prominent expatriate Iranians.
Overall, the hackers attempted to penetrate 241 accounts — four successfully — though none of those penetrated was associated with presidential campaigns or current or past US officials, Microsoft said. A company spokeswoman declined to identify those targeted, citing customer privacy.
Reuters and The New York Times reported that the attacks targeted US President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, but this could not be independently confirmed.
A review of publicly available internet records by AP showed that the Trump campaign’s official website is linked to Microsoft’s email service.
The campaign website is the only major candidate’s site connected to Microsoft’s cloud email service, and his campaign has spent tens of thousands of dollars on the company’s products, Reuters said.
The New York Times report saying Trump was targeted cited two people with knowledge of the attacks who were not allowed to discuss them publicly, and said it wasn’t clear if the campaign had been compromised in any way.
Israel is reportedly negotiating with several Gulf states on a “non-aggression pact” between them as they face off against an increasingly emboldened Iran. The deal, which Channel 12 news described as potentially “historic,” aims to put an end to the state of conflict between these states and Israel.
Advancing the Israeli initiative, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month with several foreign ministers from Arab Gulf states, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.
There was no immediate comment from the Foreign Ministry, but Katz himself on September 23 tweeted that he had held talks with an unnamed counterpart from an Arab country with which Israel does not have formal relations, and said they discussed “ways to deal with the Iranian threat” and a process for boosting “civilian cooperation.”
Katz, who is leading the effort with the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, agreed with his Gulf Arab interlocutors to set up working teams to take the non-aggression pact forward, the TV report said. Foreign Minister Israel Katz and his Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) pose for a photograph at the State Department in Washington on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)
Katz presented his Gulf counterparts with a draft text of the intended pact, which was drawn up by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the TV report said. It reportedly highlights the opportunity to advance common interests in the context of the threat posed by Iran, and is drafted in accordance with principles of international law. Among other elements, the TV report said, the draft text specifies cooperation in the fields of war, the fight against terror, and economic interests.
Sensing US reluctance to respond forcefully to Iranian aggression in the region, and following the devastating September attack on its oil facilities blamed on Tehran, Saudi Arabia is quietly moving toward possible rapprochement with the Islamic Republic, according to multiple media reports.
The New York Times reported Friday that the Trump administration’s failure to react militarily to the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which jolted global oil prices and temporarily knocked out nearly 6 percent of the world’s daily crude production, had led Riyadh to recalculate.
“The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the US to support them and find out they won’t,” Philip Gordon, a former White House Middle East coordinator told the Times. “This administration has shown it’s not really ready to take on Iran.”
The strikes were claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, but Saudi Arabia, the US and other Western powers have said the attack was sponsored by Tehran. In its aftermath, US President Donald Trump was presented with a range of military options, including potential airstrikes on targets inside Iran. But he was also warned that military action against the Islamic Republic could escalate into war, according to US officials familiar with the discussions.
Trump during a White House meeting last Friday put off, at least for now, any immediate military strike on Iran, but approved a broader effort to beef up security in Saudi Arabia and the region. He told reporters that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching retaliatory strikes now.
Two projectiles fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Friday fell short of the border fence, landing inside the Hamas-held territory, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
The launches triggered incoming rocket sirens in the Gaza border community of Kissufim in southern Israel shortly before midnight.
The incident came hours after a Palestinian man was killed during riots along the Gaza-Israel border fence on Friday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, as thousands took part in weekly protests.
Alaa Hamdan, 28, was shot in the chest by IDF soldiers in a clash near Jabalia in northern Gaza, the ministry’s spokesman said. The IDF had no immediate comment on the death.
Israel’s Channel 12 said the death may have been caused by a Palestinian grenade.
Five other demonstrators were wounded by gunfire, the Hamas-run ministry said.
Around 6,000 Palestinians took part in the day’s protests with some rioters throwing rocks and explosives at the security fence and troops along the border.
Youths from the village of Kober, northwest of Ramallah, posted a video and photos showing a camouflaged video camera that was hidden inside a concrete block by Israeli security forces in the village cemetery, Ma’an reported Friday.
According to Arab social network sites, the young men who found the spy device set it on fire after confirming it was a broadcast camera that transmits their movements.
In a video posted on the website of the journalist Tamer Barghouti from Kober, the young men appear to dismantle the device, which included a camera, a transmitter, and a battery, and celebrate their discovery with great joy.
On Tuesday, the IDF arrested three young men from Kober, out of whom it released two brothers and kept suspect Nassim Barghouti in detention.
According to Ma’an, the surveillance device was made by the Holon-based Israeli company AnyVision (“We build the future, Pixel by Pixel”), which specializes in facial recognition technology.
In June, Microsoft’s M12 venture fund announced its investment in AnyVision, just as soon as it is determined whether its products adhered to Microsoft’s tough AI ethics standards. Eventually, AnyVision reported that all its investors, including Microsoft, were satisfied it was a “tool for good.” But by mid-July, Haaretz reported that the IDF is using AnyVision’s face recognition technology at Judea and Samaria checkpoints as well as inside Arab communities, leading to a wave of criticism of Microsoft’s investment in AnyVision.
The Palestinian Authority has agreed to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues collected by Israel, after months of declining them in protest over Jerusalem withholding money over payments to terrorists, Palestinian officials said Friday.
The transfers amount to some 600 million Israeli shekels (about $170 million) a month and are a key source of financing for the PA.
The PA had refused to accept the funds because Israel was withholding an amount equal to what the Palestinians pay to terrorists and their families, but the cash-strapped PA appears to be retreating in the face of an economic crisis.
Israel says the so-called Martyrs’ Fund rewards and encourages violence, while the Palestinians say it is a way to provide for needy families affected by the decades-old conflict.
Hussein al-Sheikh, an aide to Abbas, tweeted Friday that he had met with Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon the day before to discuss “all outstanding issues” and that committees would continue the negotiations on Sunday.
“The agreement was also on transferring a payment from the #PA’s financial dues. The dispute (remains) over the salaries of the families of #prisoners and #martyrs. We are determined to pay their dues at all costs.”
The speaker of Egypt’s parliament on Wednesday clarified his praise of Adolf Hitler a day earlier to justify spending on government construction projects.
At the opening session of parliament Tuesday, Ali Abdel Aal implored lawmakers to back Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi amid anti-government protests. According to the Middle East Eye news site, Aal asked lawmakers to observe a minute of silence as a sign of support for Sissi’s “project to build the modern Egyptian state.”
“Hitler had his mistakes, but what allowed him to expand eastward and westward was that he created a strong infrastructure for the German state that remains the source of its leading position in the First World,” Aal was quoted saying.
After the remarks were reported on, Aal said Wednesday that Hitler “has committed a lot of crimes” and that his praise was of German civilization and development, not the Nazi leader.
“Everybody is aware of what Adolf Hitler has done to humanity; hence no one with the minimum level of knowledge can praise him for his actions,” Aal said during a parliamentary session, Egypt Today reported.
Unexpectedly, on the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Arab League secretary-general Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit approached the Syrian delegation, greeted Syrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem and called him "brother," shook his hand and the hand of his deputy Faisal Al-Miqdad, kissed them both, and said he was happy to see them.
Apparently, this friendliness towards the Syrian leadership on the part of the secretary-general of the Arab League – which suspended Syria's membership on November 12, 2011 because of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's harsh repression of the Arab Spring protests in the country – is further evidence of an uptick in Syria's status in the Arab world and of the erosion of Arab opposition to the Syrian regime.
For some three years, a number of Arab states – including Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, and the Palestinian Authority – have been calling to allow Syria back in to the Arab League. UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash even stated, in a June 7, 2018 interview, that "expelling Syria from the Arab League was a mistake." In addition, the Arab Youth and Environment Union, which belongs to the Arab League, announced on October 2 that it would reinstate Syria as a member in the next few days.
A variety of videos coming out of Baghdad show security forces shooting at protesters. Over the last twenty-four hours, as Friday turned to Saturday, the number of reports of snipers gunning down activists has grown. The elephant in the room cannot be ignored: Someone in Iraq’s government told a section of the security forces to use live-fire to kill protesters. It wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t because police were outnumbered, and it wasn’t isolated incidents.
Why would Iraqi forces shoot the protesters from the same cities and southern provinces that many of the security forces or Popular Mobilization Units are drawn from? The question may is worth asking because there have been various rumors and claims about the protests in Iraq that have posited that those doing the killing and using the most heavy-handed measures are Iranian-linked groups. This creates an easy narrative of “Iran suppressing protests in Iraq,” as part of the larger Iranian goal to control Iraq for its own purposes.
To support the narrative of Iran’s role there have been stories about “Farsi speakers among the security forces” and “units changing uniforms” before attacking protesters. There are stories about plain-clothes officers among the security forces which leads to claims those in plain clothes are outsiders. In this narrative, spread in Arabic on social media, an “Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigade” was permitted to enter Iraq by Fatah Alliance leader Hadi al-Amiri. Evidence? Some people tweeting about it.
The claim of foreign interference goes both ways. Others have pointed out that a concerted social media effort has been made to fuel protests and some of the accounts are located abroad. Lastly voices in pro-Iranian media have portrayed the protests as directed by foreign powers. None of these stories present a full picture of what happened. Like the proverbial elephant, they all only capture one part of what happened. From the first moments of the protest the security forces that were sent used heavy-handed tactics. Video showed men in camouflage uniforms, heavily armed, involved in clashes, as well as other police-style units in darker uniforms.
Farsi-speaking Iranians, not Iraqi forces, have been firing on protests in Iraq in which 65 people have died, said one protester interviewed by Reuters, according to Al Arabiya.
"There is no work, you come to protest, they fire at you. Live gunfire,"said the unnamed protester."They are all Iranian-speaking in Farsi. You want to speak to them, they answer in Farsi. The Iraqis would not fire at you."
The Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) milita in Iraq is backed by Iran.
Witnesses at the protests in Baghdad said that pro-Iranian security forces opened fire on protesters.
Protests broke out throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.
The protests have no clear leader and seem to consist of gatherings of angry protesters.
In a possible swap, an Australian-British blogger and her fiancé returned home Saturday after being freed from a three-month detention in Iran.
The couple, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, returned to Australia after all charges against them were dropped.
At the same time, Iran’s state TV reported that an Iranian scientist, Reza Dehbashi, who was detained for 13 months in Australia over purchasing a defense system for his country from the United States, had returned home.
“We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love,” the Australian couple said in a statement. “While the past few months have been very difficult, we know it has also been tough for those back home who have been worried for us.”
They thanked the Australian government for helping secure their release.
There was no immediate acknowledgment Saturday by Iranian officials or in the country’s state media of the couple’s release. However, that has happened in previous cases.
Iranian TV said that the Australian judiciary had planned to send Dehbashi to the US but that he was released through Tehran’s diplomatic efforts.
A man armed with a knife attempted to run into a synagogue in central Berlin Friday evening, German media reported Saturday.
The man, apparently a Syrian refugee, was tackled by security personnel at the entrance to the Neue Synagogue. According to the Bild website, he was heard calling out “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic) and “F##k Israel.”
German police said the man, identified as Murad M., was hit with pepper spray by guards and then subdued and disarmed.
Officials said he carried documentation identifying him as 23 years old, originating from Damascus and with a residency permit, which ends in December 2020.
The incident occurred at around 5:30 p.m. according to Bild, likely shortly before the start of Friday’s evening prayer service.
Police said the assailant had no prior record and was not known to authorities.
The investigation was ongoing, but German media said that the man was released from police custody on Saturday morning.
The Government’s new antisemitism adviser has warned that between overstatement and understatement of antisemitism, “the biggest danger is that we will understate the problem.”
Speaking after his first public engagement in his new job, John Mann MP, who has resigned from the Labour Party and will become a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, explained that he accepted his new advisory role to prevent “good people, young people” from deciding to emigrate from the UK because of rising antisemitism.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer has shown that 40% of British Jews have considered leaving the country due to antisemitism.
If action were not taken against antisemitism, he warned, “the reality will be that good people will leave. Not necessarily quickly — but good people will not see their future on the continent of Europe or on the UK because they are Jewish, and they wish for their identity to be proudly held at all times. We are not going to accept – and government is not going to accept — that impingement on civil liberties in this country.”
Observing the rise of antisemitism on university campuses, Mr Mann noted too the “pernicious, silent, isolating disdain” shown towards Jewish students “from hostile elements in their universities,” adding that he would be pushing for the adoption and application of the International Definition of Antisemitism by “our major institutions, football clubs, universities — this is achievable.”
The University of Nottingham has defended a decision to invite Chris Williamson MP to speak on its campus.
Mr Williamson was suspended from Labour and then readmitted, only to be resuspended following a public outcry after claiming that Labour has been “too apologetic” over antisemitism.
The disgraced MP is scheduled to speak on 11th October as part of a series on “British Politics in Crisis” at the Centre for British Politics.
Jewish students at the university have reportedly called for the invitation to be withdrawn, citing Mr Williamson’s “history of Jew baiting.”
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “It is a damning reflection on the University of Nottingham that it chooses to invite a politician suspended from the Labour Party over his attempts to minimise the Party’s antisemitism crisis and who has a record of praising antisemites to give a lecture. If the university wishes to teach its students why British politics is in crisis, it might start by exploring why leading institutions are so ready to legitimise Labour antisemitism by inviting one of its chief defenders to speak.”
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Emma Dent Coad, who was elected as a Labour MP in 2017 for Kensington, ‘liked’ a comment on Facebook by another user that read: “I’ve always been a Bevanite — my ultimate political hero…and as a Jew, the current Israeli apartheid regime disgraces all of us Jews worldwide.”
The comment was posted in response to a post by another user that criticised “Blairite” MPs and “members of the Netanyahu fan club”.
Following media attention, Ms Dent Coad apologised and ‘unliked’ the comment.
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In recent months, twelve MPs and three peers have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with a large number of MEPs, councillors and members.
Over 55,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”
The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt made a reference to “the demand for special status” on the part of British Jews in an interview on the sidelines of the Conservative Party Conference this week.
Mr Blunt made the comment following a fringe event at the Party Conference in his capacity as patron of the Conservative Humanists group. At the event, which was held in conjunction with Humanists UK, the chair of Conservative Humanists protested previous comments by the Chief Rabbi, who had apparently suggested that some humanists were becoming intolerant of religion.
Asked for his reaction to the chair’s comments, Mr Blunt suggested: “I think what he was saying was regarding the demand for special status…what’s required is for everyone to have tolerance of other people’s position and not to impose unfair views.”
The notion, however casually expressed, that Jews demand or receive special status in British society is baseless and offensive. Any dispensations that Jews do receive, for example in the workplace, are also shared by other faith groups and protected classes.
Late last month, a musician named Alison Chabloz was sent to prison in the United Kingdom for violating the terms of an earlier court decision prohibiting her from using social media — a decision stemming from her dissemination of videos featuring songs she wrote that mocked the Holocaust. In the UK, this story made many of the major papers, but it has hardly registered at all in the United States.
But here’s why it should: This case was a watershed decision in the battle against antisemitism. The UK has laws expressly forbidding hate speech that tries to incite hatred of other groups or is grossly offensive in nature. As such, and in light of her social-media malfeasance, Chabloz — who has posted content on her website alisonchabloz.com with headlines such as “In Defence of a Myth–‘Holocaust’ lobby shifts into top gear” and “Hear the Jew cry out in pain as the White lady sings” was incarcerated for a couple of days before being released pending her appeal hearing. That is scheduled for late October.
Chabloz, who has remained unrepentant despite her losing cause, has become something of a symbol of resistance to anti-hate speech legislation. Her supporters argue that Chabloz shouldn’t have been put in jail just for singing songs. They claim that regardless of the fact that Chabloz perpetuated an utterly repellent ideology through her music, the idea of instituting such a harsh punishment for posting content on social media is extreme in light of a person’s right to self-expression.
The University College Union in the United Kingdom sent an email to branches that excluded mention of Jews among the groups persecuted during the Holocaust. According to The Jewish Chronicle, the UCU has since apologized. However, in a review of several websites connected to upcoming commemorations of Holocaust Memorial Day 2020, which will be held on January 27, references to Jews appear to be too often missing.
In the case of the UCU, a long list of those persecuted were mentioned, just not Jews. This included members of “trade unions” and “Roma” and “black people,” as well as gays and lesbians and “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” In addition, “non-Jewish Poles,” were mentioned – but not Jews. The UK’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, Eric Pickles, said the incident sends a “chilling message.”
But the problem is much larger than just the UCU. Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is already being wrapped into the easier to pronounce acronym “HMD 2020,” which in itself removes the word “Holocaust.” On some websites, such as the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s page devoted to “75 memorial flames,” it is clearly noted that the Holocaust was “the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews of Europe.” However, a press release from April about the “HMD 2020” theme, called “Standing Together,” doesn’t mention the word Jew. The press release, also at the Trust’s website, notes that “HMD 2020 will also include marking the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Bosnia.” It is interesting that while Bosnia is mentioned, the place that the Shoah began in Germany is conveniently left out, lest anyone recall it was Germany that began the Holocaust and was largely responsible for it.
The April press release of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust notes that it is “calling people to Stand Together in memory of the millions of people affected by the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.” The UCU seems to have used similar language as part of the Stand Together campaign.
I well up with emotion when I hear of Jewish kids being subjected to physical assaults, bigoted stereotypes and insults, exclusion, degrading text messages and social media lynching. The day is not too far off when young people will have to hide their Jewish faith so as not to be singled out and vilified by their classmates. The victims are traumatised, filled with feelings of despair and abandonment, convinced that the system has failed them. And they are right.
Not infrequently, distraught parents are concerned that the anti-Semitic abuse will escalate if they notify the school since their child will become an even-bigger target. Some remain silent believing that the school leadership will not be sympathetic to their complaint. In fact, some administrators trivialise the attacks as a childish aberrations, as "kids being kids", or blame the victims ("it's your child's fault since they provocatively choose to exhibit their Judaism" or "we are a non-Jewish school so if you don't like it, leave"), are very slow to respond, and do not impose the appropriate punishment. In effect, they are enabling the wrongdoers by sending a crystal-clear message that Jewish pupils are fair game.
The elephant in the room is that very few of our elected representatives are actually speaking out about the darkening clouds that are gathering. And so, this cancer of intolerance, which is spreading like wildfire, must end. All of it. Because we literally have no choice and because that is not who we are as a nation. Good intentions and words are not enough. We now need bold action by the state and federal governments that matches the scale of the runaway problem we face, and which effectively tackles this menace at every single step. One solution is to institute mandatory reporting so schools are obliged to notify the Education Department when such incidents occur. Such reporting will then necessitate the investigation of each individual case and if warranted, appropriate penalties for the perpetrators.
Countering religious bigotry in the long run also hinges on making anti-bias and Holocaust education compulsory in every class. One example is the Anti-Defamation Commission's Click Against Hate program, a free, groundbreaking educational program, which equips students with the skills to respond to the hate they encounter in schools, urging them to action when it happens to them or when they see it happening to others. Further training for teachers and headmasters is also urgently needed so they understand that antisemitism is a threat to our way of life and that inaction is not an option. It's time for the adults in the room to stand up and protect the defenceless and vulnerable - our children.
Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino has ordered an immediate review into the way two Melbourne schools dealt with separate "appalling and shocking" cases of sustained anti-Semitic bullying earlier this year.
Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg also weighed into the "completely unacceptable" incidents, calling for lessons on the Holocaust, in which about 6 million Jews were killed in Europe, to be included in the Australian curriculum.
Mr Merlino said he would also meet with the parents of the two Jewish boys; a 12-year-old year 7 student who was at Cheltenham Secondary College, and a prep student at Hawthorn West Primary School. The meetings are scheduled to take place on Monday. James Merlino has ordered a review into how two schools handled separate cases of anti-Semitic bullying.
James Merlino has ordered a review into how two schools handled separate cases of anti-Semitic bullying. Credit:AAP
Both boys have since left the schools where they were bullied, after their parents lost confidence in the schools' handling of the matter.
The year 7 boy was made to kneel and kiss the shoes of a Muslim boy in a public park, under threat of being bashed by several other boys who were watching on.
The humiliating act was filmed and published on social media.
The boys who were watching on were not Muslim, the victim’s mother said. She sought out the offender’s parents, who were horrified.
Oslo - Vandals painted black over Holocaust memorial brass plates right outside Oslo’s synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. A Stolperstein (literally “stumbling stone”)a 10 by 10 centimeters concrete cube bearing a brass plate name and life dates of victims of Nazi persecution pic.twitter.com/i270NDkb5g
Five physicians from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center recently brought medical equipment to Kathmandu and shared their expertise on women’s and children’s health with the medical staffs of two local hospitals.
Sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in Nepal, the Israeli team led a week of workshops and continuing medical education courses in neonatology, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. They taught the Nepali medical professionals how to use the new lifesaving technologies they donated.
Senior gynecologist Dr. Ronit Almog said this was the fifth such foreign delegation sent out by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in the past year.
“Our aim is to reduce fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality in developing nations,” she said. “We met warm and welcoming medical teams and had a great cooperation. We saw a very good health level and system in Nepal and look forward to future mutual cooperation.”
Dr. Shyam Sundar Dhaubhadel, founder and president of Siddhi Memorial Foundation – which provides accessible healthcare services for women and children through Siddhi Memorial Hospital– compared the two nations to siblings. “Nepal is a toddler; Israel is a grown-up sister that has to share her expertise.”
Eric Pleskow, who escaped the Nazis to become a film executive whose movies won the Academy Award for best picture seven times, has died. He was 95.
Pleskow was the president of the United Artists studio when it took home the best picture Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall” in 1975, 1976 and 1977, respectively — an unprecedented three-peat for a movie studio.
Later, as the co-founder of Orion Pictures, he oversaw four more winners for top film: “Amadeus” (1984), “Platoon” (1986), “Dances With Wolves” (1990) and “Silence of the Lambs” (1991).
Pleskow was born Erich Pleskoff in Vienna in 1924. He escaped the city with his family in 1939 after the SS had seized their home, which was blocks away from Sigmund Freud’s office, according to The Washington Post.
After arriving in New York City, he briefly worked at a film company, and was later drafted into the U.S. Army, where he was tasked after the war with reviving a film studio in Bavaria. From there he was hired as an executive at United Artists’ foreign department.
Pleskow rose to become president of the studio in 1973, and raised its profile by working with directors such as Woody Allen and Jonathan Demme. He broke off to co-found Orion in 1978.
While Demi Lovato apologized for her trip to Israel — after receiving backlash — her mother won’t be following suit.
Dianna De La Garza, who accompanied Lovato on the free trip this week, said their visit was one of “only love” and that she will “unapologetically go again.”
Along with a photo of their two hands touching the Western Wall, De La Garza wrote that stop in the Old City of Jerusalem “was the highlight of my trip.” She said she will “never forget that day... or that trip as we celebrated life and Christianity as we learned about the Jewish faith while listening to the Muslim call to prayer. There was no fighting, no judgement, no cruel words...only love.”
De La Garza made it clear that there will be no apology coming from her, adding, “And I will undoubtedly, unapologetically go again one day.”
On Wednesday, Lovato found herself apologizing for the free trip — during which she was baptized in the Jordan River and had a spiritual awakening — amid criticism that she was taking a side in the country’s longstanding conflict with Palestine. Lovato apologized to those she offended in a message on social media, saying the trip was not mean to be “a political statement.”
When Ceen Gabbai argued with her first-grade teacher about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, she didn’t realize how big of a risk she was taking.
The year was 2000 and students across the world held strong opinions about the Second Intifada, an outbreak of violence that claimed thousands of lives and began in September of that year. But Gabbai’s situation was different: She was one of the few Jewish students in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Standing up for Israel in a Baghdad elementary school was not an advisable move.
“Saddam was all crazy about Palestine,” she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I go to school and they’re talking about what a horrible thing that is and how Israel was horrible. And I go and I’m like, ‘I think that’s a lie.’”
Gabbai was called to the school office, took a letter home to her mother and her parents had a meeting with the principal. Soon after they moved homes and she switched schools. Following the episode, her parents did not talk with her about Israel or Judaism.
Gabbai has had a dangerous life. Born a Jew under an Iraqi dictatorship, she endured constant anti-Semitism from a young age, then survived the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the years of war that followed.
In 2015, Gabbai received asylum in the United States. She is now living in an Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn, raising a child, teaching elementary school and writing children’s literature. She does not look back fondly on the hardships she endured, but feels they taught her to persevere no matter the situation.
You may have heard that Sir Moses (Moshe) Montefiore was the force behind Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls. But were you aware that the wealthy English knight visited pre-state Israel seven times, most often with his wife, Lady Judith?
Dr. Louis Loewe, a linguist and author who was not only intimately acquainted with the couple but had even accompanied them on journeys around the world, greatly admired Sir Moses and Lady Judith. In a book, the “Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore,” which he published in 1890, he depicts them as a compassionate, caring, and observant Jewish couple that lived life to the full. They were also quite the wine connoisseurs. In fact, wine is mentioned in the diaries 24 different times.
One of their most interesting trips to the Holy Land, described in detail in Loewe’s book, took place in 1839. The volume abounds with descriptions of their overnights in tents, palaces and elegant homes. They rode horses atop mountains, along easy roads and atop barely discernible paths. The Plague was rampant that year, and they were careful to stay away from infected towns and villages.
Wherever the Montefiores went they distributed money and gifts, all the while taking the time to find out what their fellow Jews needed in order to improve what was very often a miserable existence. Quite possibly it was this trip that planted the seed for the eventual establishment of Mishkenot Sha’ananim in 1860.
That pioneering neighborhood came equipped with a windmill produced in Canterbury, a copy of one that stood near the Montefiore estate. With its help, the residents were meant to grind wheat into flour and become self- sufficient. In 1892, more buildings were added and the new neighborhood was called Yemin Moshe.
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