September 26, 2018

Ann Coulter is a snowflake

Commentator Ann Coulter addresses the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington on Feb. 12, 2011. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ann Coulter is a snowflake.

She bought an upgraded seat on Delta, the upgrade wasn’t honored, and she unleashed a Twitter tirade against the airline that accused it of everything short of genocide.

This is the behavior of a delicate, entitled, easily wounded, and overly sensitive toddler-woman – what some on the Right would call a “snowflake.”

How am I so sure she misbehaved?

Because the exact same thing happened to me, three weeks ago, and Delta handled it flawlessly.

Last month, I had bought an upgrade on a Delta flight, just like Coulter. Mine cost $49, for a bulkhead seat. This was a ten hour non-stop flight to Japan, and when you’re 6’2” every little bit of legroom matters.

When I boarded the plane, my seat was just another coach knee-cruncher, nowhere near the bulkhead. I asked the attendant why that was, and she explained that there had been an equipment change. That is, we were flying on a different aircraft than the one depicted online.

At that point, I suppose I could have thrown a hissy fit like Coulter. But the plane was packed, and I thought it was unlikely Delta would switch everyone to the original plane because I spent an extra $49.

So I smiled when the flight attendant said, “Have a nice flight,” and I took my seat and read, “The Black Widow” and watched a couple movies and tossed and turned and landed safely in Tokyo.

A week or so later, I emailed Delta’s complaint department. It took me a few seconds to find the address on the company’s web site.  I explained what had happened, listed my ticket number, and waited – for two whole days.

Then I received this email:

RE: Case Number 24573609

I’m happy to help with your request regarding a refund.

We processed a refund on July 14, 2017 as follows:

Ticket Number/Amount/Form of Payment

0071502001622 / $49.00 / AX

For credit card purchases, we generally transmit our credit instructions to the credit card processing company within one business day of the date the refund is processed. However, it can take up to 2 billing cycles for the credit card issuer to show this credit on your statement.

Please allow the full handling time for the refund to be processed. After that time period, you may check the status of your refund as follows:

– 800-847-0578 within the U.S. or Canada.

– 404-715-5417 within Atlanta, Georgia or outside the U.S. and Canada

We appreciate your business and hope you’ll continue to choose Delta, our Connection Carriers and our SkyTeam partners for your future air travel needs.

Regards,
Martha Deal
Refund Solutions Specialist
FORTUNE 2017 “World’s Most Admired Companies®”

The entire complaint took me about ten minutes to handle, from start to finish. Coulter tweeted that her issue “cost” her $40,000 of her time. Unless she has the computer skills of a chimpanzee, I don’t understand what the big deal is.

I guess I could have vented  all over Twitter, like Coulter. I could have posted a picture of whoever sat in “my” bulkhead seat, and Tweeted an insult about them, as Coulter did, and thrown in some gratuitous insults about immigrants and Delta employees, as Coulter did.

But this wasn’t a matter of venal corporate greed or discrimination.   Stuff happens, and no person or business is perfect. Part of being a grown up is understanding that things don’t always go your way. You can suck it up and move along. Or you can carry on like a four year-old being dragged out of a toy store.

In my case, Delta handled the problem quickly and easily. Thank you Delta.

And Ann, grow up.

Who’s an anti-Semite?

A sign reading “Fascist Free Campus” on the University of California, Berkeley, campus in the aftermath of the cancellation of a speech there by conservative political commentator Ann Coulter on April 27. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

The Jewish left has been calling conservatives “anti-Semites” — not to mention “fascists” and “racists” — for as long as I have been alive.Yet, outside of the Muslim world, virtually all anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred comes from the left. Of course, to most left-wing (as opposed to liberal) Jews, Israel-hatred is not the same as anti-Semitism. One can even help those who wish to destroy Israel — through supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for example — and still be honored by Jewish institutions. Two local examples: Ed Asner was just given a lifetime achievement award at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. and Cornel West was invited by the UCLA Department of Jewish Studies to give a keynote address.

But no matter how destructive the left is — not only to Jews and Israel, but to civilized society as demonstrated by the intolerance and violence at our left-wing universities — it’s the right that frightens most American Jews.

Which brings me to an advertisement in the May 12 edition of the Jewish Journal by a Jewish leftist attacking Ann Coulter as an anti-Semite and me for defending her against that charge.

I don’t know what prompted the ad, since none of the allegations against Coulter is recent. The issue is gone and largely forgotten. My best guess is that precisely because there is so much Israel- and Jew-hatred emanating from the left, the man who took out the ad felt it necessary to find a prominent right-wing example of anti-Semitism. And since it is so rare, he revived the Coulter issue.

The irony is that even if Ann Coulter were an anti-Semite, this lone voice would hardly come close to matching the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism coming from the left that permeate Western universities, intellectual life and the media.

But even that irony doesn’t apply, since Ann Coulter is strongly pro-Israel. But, again, neither matters to most Jews on the left, since, as far as these Jews are concerned, being pro-Israel doesn’t make you a friend of the Jews and being anti-Israel doesn’t make you an enemy of the Jews.

Now, to the charges.

During the course of the second Republican presidential debate, Ann Coulter, tweeted: “How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?”

Her explanation was that she was frustrated with the candidates’ remarks that concentrated on things nearly all Republicans agree on — admiration of Ronald Reagan, opposition to abortion and support for Israel — while ignoring what she considers America’s biggest domestic problem: illegal immigration. She regarded the candidates’ remarks as “pandering” to various Republican constituencies and tweeted out a series of critical and angry comments, including the one about Jews.

If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living in a Jewish utopia, a world without enemies.

She was condemned by Republicans — myself included — and Democrats for the tweet. It was wrong, and it damaged, at least temporarily, Republican and conservative supporters of Israel. But as I wrote at the time in a piece published by both The Jerusalem Post and the Forward, Ann Coulter is not an anti-Semite. She constantly has defended Jews and Israel. Every mention of Jews or Israel I’ve read in any of her books is a spirited defense of Jews and Israel, or an attack on those who attack Jews and Israel. I should add, for the record, that she has been to my home twice for Shabbat dinner.

If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living in a Jewish utopia, a world without enemies.

Those Jews, like the ad writer, who label her an anti-Semite point to that 2015 tweet and to something she said in a 2007 interview with Jewish TV personality Donny Deutsch. She said that America (and presumably the world) would be better if everybody were a Christian.

Deutsch asked if that meant all Jews should become Christian. Coulter said yes, and Deutsch was offended. He was further offended when she labeled Christians and Jews who became Christians as “perfected Jews.”

But those are hardly anti-Semitic sentiments. Believing the world would be better if everyone were a Christian hardly renders one a bigot, let alone a Jew-hater. Don’t progressives believe the world would be better if everyone were a progressive?

And why is the belief that Jews who become Christian are “perfected Jews” anti-Semitic? Why is that different from a Jew believing that a Christian or anyone else who converts to Judaism becomes a member of the Chosen People? Or from Orthodox Jews who believe that Christianity is idol worship? I don’t agree with that view, but that hardly makes Orthodox Jews Christian-haters. I know a prominent Orthodox rabbi who thinks Christianity is idol worship and who works constantly with evangelical Christians whom he adores.

We need to be very careful before labeling people anti-Semites. This is especially so with regard to Christians who believe that the only way to salvation is through belief in Christ. The fact is that the Jews’ and Israel’s best friends in America are largely those evangelical Christians who believe that only faith in Jesus saves.

In addition, epithets are not always a good indicator of who our enemies are. Harry S. Truman wrote home when he visited New York City that he was in “Kike-town” and wrote very disparaging things about the Jews in his diary. Yet, as president, he became the man who had America recognize the newly formed State of Israel within minutes of its declaration of independence — against the advice of his entire State Department.

When Hillary Clinton was accused of calling a campaign aide a “f—ing Jew bastard” — an account attested to by three witnesses — I wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal defending her against the charge of anti-Semitism. Unlike the ad writer who, like so many others on the left, smears ideological opponents, I defended Hillary Clinton, even though I have no respect for her. I defended Clinton because it was the right thing to do. And because if Jews cry wolf by calling virtually every opponent an anti-Semite, when the real anti-Semites come, no one will take us seriously.

And one more thought: With our universities more hostile to identifying Jews than at any time in American history, with many young Jews fearing to wear a Star of David or a yarmulke on more and more left-wing campuses, a Jew looks pretty foolish taking out an ad in a Jewish publication to attack Ann Coulter and Dennis Prager.


Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

Jewish life, like college campuses, could use a little more free speech

A sign reading “Fascist Free Campus” on the University of California, Berkeley, campus in the aftermath of the cancellation of a speech there by conservative political commentator Ann Coulter on April 27. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Sunday night in Teaneck, New Jersey, Daniel Kurtzer and Ruth Wisse spoke at separate synagogues, roughly at the same time, about a quarter mile apart.

Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton, supports the two-state solution and doesn’t think the Israeli government is heading in the “right direction.”

Wisse, a famed Yiddish scholar at Harvard, regards Jewish support for the peace process as “self-delusion” and planned to speak on the topic “Are American Jews their own worst enemies?”

Kurtzer spoke at a Conservative synagogue, the majority of whose members, I can say from personal experience, are essentially on board with his views of the Middle East.

Wisse spoke at a modern Orthodox synagogue whose members, it’s probably safe to say, tend to share her skepticism about the two-state solution, Democrats and liberal Zionism.

I wish they had switched places.

Efforts by protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, to shut down a speech by conservative Ann Coulter and at Auburn University to block an appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer are being held up as examples of left-wing academia’s inability to tolerate — or even listen to — dissenting views. Right-wing sites condemn campus “snowflakes” who are willing to deny free speech to those with whom they disagree. Republicans in the Michigan state Senate have introduced a bill that would punish college students who “have converted our fundamental freedom of speech into a freedom from speech,” as a sponsor put it.

It’s not just the right who are critical of the “shut it down” left: Liberals object that attempts to silence speakers are violations of a fundamental right to free speech, a perversion of the whole idea of a university education and simply bad politics, giving the right a cudgel with which to beat the left. As Bernie Sanders said of Coulter’s opponents, “What are you afraid of — her ideas?”

In some ways the debate has become a little hysterical. As Jesse Singal noted in New York magazine, recent surveys at Yale suggest students there are about as likely as the general population to support free speech — that is, by wide margins. On the other hand, Pew reported last year that 40 percent of students say the government should be able to “prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups.” Singal says that’s not far off from the number of Americans who say some forms of speech should be banned by the government.

The idea that a small number of extremists can hijack an event and shut down a speaker in the name of what they deem “acceptable” speech is troubling — a point pro-Israel activists on campus have been trying to make in recent years, with far less success than supporters of Coulter or even of Spencer. From Brown University, where protesters objected to a speech by a transgender activist because it was being sponsored by the campus Hillel,  to the University of Minnesota, where hecklers disrupted a speech by the Israeli philosopher Moshe Halbertal, Israel has become a flash point in the free speech debate. J. — The Jewish News of Northern California had an important article last week on San Francisco State University and its “tepid” responses to various anti-Israel incidents, like the successful attempt by a pro-Palestinian group to shout down Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a Hillel-sponsored appearance in April 2016.

Not to be outdone, right-wing supporters of Israel are taking a cue from the left-wing protesters they profess to despise. Last week, a synagogue in the Detroit suburbs canceled a scheduled appearance by the Israeli singer and peace activist known as Noa after fielding threats from protesters presumably on the right. The synagogue explained it wasn’t able to guarantee security for the event, although it also pointed out, apologetically and unnecessarily, that the event was “not intended to reflect political viewpoints.”

Noa, a member of the board of the New Israel Fund, has never made a secret of her left-wing views or her support of Jewish-Arab coexistence. But her concerts aren’t peace rallies, and even if they were it is depressing to see how easily one side in a political argument is willing to support threats — not arguments, not rival events, but physical threats  — to shut down the other. Take a look at the comment section in an article about the Noa cancellation in The Times of Israel and see how giddy her opponents are in seeing a synagogue event canceled for fear of a violent reprisal.

The pro-Israel right also celebrated last month when Fordham University denied a request by Students for Justice in Palestine to form a club there on the grounds that its goals “clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values” of the New York City school. SJP chapters are harsh and often dishonest in their attacks on Israel, and Fordham is a private university, but are we really comfortable with administrators deciding which causes are acceptable and which aren’t? And if we are, can we really say we value the right to free speech?

But what about speech that is so reprehensible that it truly doesn’t deserve a hearing? (The First Amendment, by the way, doesn’t say anything about “deserving” the right to free speech.) One option is to ignore it and not give awful speakers the attention they crave. Another is to fight back with more speech, which is what the Founders evidently intended.

The very worst option is to criminalize it or try to shut it down with a real or implied threat of violence.

It’s easy to blame “kids these days” for a climate of political correctness or a narrowing of what is and isn’t acceptable thought on campus. But the university is merely reflecting a broader culture in which people are less inclined to listen to or tolerate opposing views. Thanks to technology and an explosion of narrow ideological media channels, they don’t have to. The presidential campaign of 2016 was in part a reflection of the failure of each side of the political divide to hear the other.

I wish Kurtzer and Wisse had crossed over to presumably less friendly venues precisely because of the possibility that one side might have something to learn from the other. Both are incisive intellects whose arguments cannot be dismissed as thoughtless or delusional. They may not have changed any minds, but they may have made each side more thoughtful in its own views and perhaps have established a small sliver of common ground.

At Politicon, diversity and polarity make for entertaining (and loud) political fare

Partisan political theater was on full display mid-afternoon on Oct. 10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as two of the panels at the inaugural Politicon conference overlapped.

In “Independence Hall,” a panel included Democratic strategists David Axelrod, James Carville and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, while next-door, in “Freedom Hall,” right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter debated Cenk Uygur, a left-wing activist and commentator. 

Some of the louder Democrats in the crowd chortled as Gingrich talked economics, and whooped when Axelrod defended President Barack Obama’s economic record. Meanwhile it seemed Uygur and the standing-room-only crowd next-door couldn’t quite tell whether Coulter was serious when she said things would be better had the United States dropped a nuclear weapon on Iraq instead of toppling Saddam Hussein and then withdrawing. 

“ISIS, when they put somebody in a cage and burned him alive, we thought they were the worst monsters on Earth. You say you’d like to do that on a grand scale, because that’s what a nuclear weapon does,” Uygur said to Coulter, to emphatic applause. 


Did Politicon, with its variety and diversity, change minds or create some ground for compromise?

“In response to 9/11, yes,” Coulter responded, “we should not have sent ground troops. We should have dropped … in retrospect, now that we know we’re in a country that can elect Barack Obama, instead of bothering to create a democracy in Iraq, which we did, and which was working beautifully,” she said, to boos. “Are we getting back to immigration, the topic of my book, and technically the topic of this panel?”

The two-day conference, which ran Oct. 9-10, attracted about 9,000 attendees, according to event organizers, and brought together some of the nation’s most recognizable figures in politics, media and entertainment, including a stand-up routine from  “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, followed by a conversation with Carville, the political commentator who helped Bill Clinton win the presidency; as well as former Clinton adviser Paul Begala; former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); John Avlon, editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast; with Edward Snowden, who gained fame after leaking classified information from the NSA, appearing via live video from Russia.

Modeled after the wildly popular Comic-Con, Politicon’s first run was a sort of cholent for the political mind. There was the good — former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau and Jay Leno-monologue writer and Democratic political consultant Jon Macks on speechwriting; conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, broadcasting his show live and interviewing, via telephone, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. There was the bad — a woman who screamed “Bulls—!” to one of Gingrich’s points and then bragged about it after the panel. And there was the weird — ranging from the “Beats, Rhymes and Justice” slam poetry session to the cleverly and thematically cosplay-dressed attendees who got in for free.

In “Democracy Village,” the physical proximity of booths from various organizations, despite their stark ideological contrasts, created a bit of a compromising, kumbaya feel. Local conservative radio station KRLA, for example, bumped shoulders with the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans, while just a few feet away was a Teamsters Local Union booth and one for the Los Angeles County Young Democrats.

“This is really the intersection of politics and entertainment,” said Macks, who, in addition to his comedy writing, has also done debate preparation sessions with Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry, as well as speechwriting for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others. “When politics is entertainment, when 24 million people are watching Donald Trump debate, this is a chance for everyone from your political junkies to political nerds to your issue-oriented people to everyday citizens who are just interested in finding out and having some fun.”

Did Politicon, with its variety and diversity, change minds or create some ground for compromise? Probably not, but that wasn’t really its purpose. Like any convention — whether for comic books, fashion, politics or entertainment — many, maybe even most of the attendees, were those already passionate about, and probably set in, their political and ideological beliefs. But with commentators on opposite sides of the spectrum sharing a stage, and with activists from the left and the right schmoozing and working only a few feet apart, Politicon did deliver on its slogan: “Entertain Democracy.”

Ann Coulter is not an anti-Semite

During the course of the second Republican presidential debate, Ann Coulter, the well-known commentator, writer, speaker and provocateur, tweeted:

“How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?”

Her explanation was that she had grown frustrated with the candidates’ remarks that concentrated on things nearly all Republicans agree on – admiration of Ronald Reagan, opposition to abortion and support for Israel – and ignored what she considers the biggest domestic problem facing America: immigration, both legal (under current law) and illegal. She regarded the candidates’ remarks as “pandering” to various Republican constituencies and tweeted out a series of critical and angry comments, including the one about Jews, in response to repeated pledges to support Israel.She was rightly condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike for the tweet. How could she not be? It was indefensible. And it did damage to Republicans, conservatives and supporters of Israel.

But that should not be the end of the discussion.

The tweet raises a number of important questions. These include whether Ann Coulter is an anti-Semite, who we should label an anti-Semite and who the enemies of Jews are in America today.

The first is the easiest. Ann Coulter is not an anti-Semite. Those Jews who think she is point to two pieces of evidence: the recent tweet and something she said in a 2007 interview with Donny Deutsch, a TV personality who happens to be Jewish.

In that interview, she said that America (and presumably the world) would be better if everybody were a Christian. Deutsch asked if that meant all Jews should become Christian. Coulter said yes and Deutsch was offended. He was further offended when she labeled Christians, including herself, and Jews who became Christians “perfected Jews.”

Against this is a lifetime of defending Jews and Israel. Every mention of Jews or Israel I’ve read in any of her books is a spirited defense of Jews and Israel, or an attack on those who attack Jews and Israel. I should add, for what it’s worth, she has been to my home twice for Shabbat dinner. Indeed, she has said that experiencing Shabbat and reading the explanation for it in my book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code,” have moved her to start observing a Sabbath. I guess you can say she might become a perfected Christian.

Her remarks to Deutsch were hardly anti-Semitic.

First, both common sense and Judaism demand that we judge people by their behavior, not by their religious beliefs. Believing that the world would be better if everyone were a Christian hardly renders one a bigot, let alone a Jew hater. Everyone who holds a doctrine believes the world be better if everyone embraced their doctrine. Don’t secular liberals believe that the world would be better if everyone were a secular liberal?

Second, if theological beliefs render one a hater, most religious Jews would have to be considered haters. That would include all those Orthodox Jews who consider Christianity idol worship and therefore won’t enter a church. And it would include all Jews who believe, as I do, that the Jews are the chosen people.

We need to be very careful before labeling people anti-Semites. This is especially so with regard to Christians who believe that the only way to salvation is through belief in Christ. The fact is that the Jews’ and Israel’s best friends in America are largely those evangelical Christians who believe that only faith in Jesus saves.

I have worked with evangelical Christians for 20 years, regularly speak at their conventions and churches, and can attest to the sincerity of their support for Jews — it’s all the more remarkable given how much contempt many Jews heap on them.

And no, they don’t support Israel in order to hasten the apocalypse and the Second Coming. People who dislike the Christian right have simply made that up in order to discredit their support. There is nothing in the New Testament that suggests this. Evangelical leaders such as Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, have said repeatedly that the timing of the New Testament prediction of Armageddon is solely in God’s hands. It is impossible for Christians to do anything to hasten the return of Jesus.

Evangelicals support Israel primarily because they believe God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis that He will bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews. They also believe that Israel is the morally superior side in the Middle East conflict.

I might add, however, that even if the reason evangelicals supported the Jews and Israel were to hasten the Second Coming – so what? If tens of millions of Christians will support Jews until Jesus returns, isn’t that a good thing?

In addition, epithets are not always a good indicator of who our enemies are. Harry Truman wrote home when he visited New York City that he was in “kike town” and wrote very disparaging things about the Jews in his diary. Yet, as president, he became the man who had America recognize the newly formed state of Israel within minutes of its declaration of independence — against the advice of his entire State Department.

Likewise, when Hillary Clinton was accused of calling a campaign aide a “f—ing Jew bastard” – an account attested to by three witnesses – I wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal defending her against the charge of anti-Semitism. There was simply nothing in her behavior to suggest that she is an anti-Semite.

We are very right to be worried about hatred of Jews and Israel. But Israel hatred and anti-Zionism  – today’s expressions of anti-Semitism – aren’t coming from Ann Coulter or her side of the political spectrum. They are almost always to be found on the left – in America and everywhere else outside the Muslim world. Our universities, for example, are the center of Israel hatred in America.

Thoughtful Jews on the left should be experiencing cognitive dissonance these days. The institutions they most revere – the universities – are the most anti-Israel institutions in America, and the groups they most fear – conservatives and Christians – are Israel’s and the Jews’ best friends.

Ann Coulter aimed her famously provocative rhetorical gun at her intended target – the GOP candidates – and instead hit an innocent bystander, America’s Jews. When you harm someone, even accidentally, you owe an apology. Her tweet hurt her, her cause and the Republican Party as well as Jews, and she should say she’s sorry. But she is not an anti-Semite.

Jews shouldn’t accuse people of this when it isn’t true – whether it is Ann Coulter or Hillary Clinton.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated talk show host heard on 140 radio stations across America, a New York Times best-selling author of six books and a contributing editor at the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

Ann Coulter slammed for profane tweet on Jews in GOP debate commentary

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter used an epithet to describe Jews in expressing frustration with pledges by candidates to support Israel during a Republican debate.

Coulter posted the tweet during the final minutes of the three-hour debate Wednesday evening in Simi Valley, California, when four of the 11 candidates mentioned their support for Israel in their closing remarks. The four candidates were former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as one of his first acts as president; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In a separate tweet, Coulter said,

When Christie made his pledge, Coulter tweeted,

Subsequently, she tweeted,

Christians United for Israel excoriated Coulter in a news release.

“Ann Coulter’s tweets this evening concerning Israel were completely inappropriate,” spokesman Ari Morgenstern said in the statement. “The U.S.-Israel relationship is both a moral and strategic imperative. There are tens of millions of Christians in this country who stand with the Jewish state.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, described Coulter’s remarks as “hyperbolic and hateful.”

“Ms. Coulter is pandering to the basest of her base. Her messages challenging the candidates’ support for Israel were offensive, ugly, spiteful and borderline anti-Semitic,” Greenblatt wrote in a statement. “Her tweets give fodder to those who buy into the anti-Semitic notions that Jews ‘control’ the U.S. government, wield disproportionate power in politics, and are more loyal to Israel than to their own country.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “Ann Coulter asks 'how many f—ing Jews' are there in America and then blithely dodges Fox News' direct challenge of her gratuitous anti-Semitic slur. Disgusting. And if a simple 'I am sorry' is beyond the reach of the vocabulary of this noted wordsmith, then perhaps she has unearned her spot among top tier political pundits.”

Rabin memorial rally draws 100,000, Coulter controversy escalates

Israelis Rally in Memory of Rabin

More than 100,000 people rallied in memory of Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. An unusually large demonstration, marking 12 years since the former Israeli prime minister’s assassination, drew people to Rabin Square last Saturday night for the annual event.

Commentators suggested that public interest in preserving Rabin’s legacy has been boosted by the prospect of a resumption in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that he launched in the early 1990s.

“Rabin’s way will prevail,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the crowd.

Many Israeli left-wingers also want to counteract the spread of sympathy for Rabin’s imprisoned assassin, Yigal Amir. Polls show that a growing number of rightists would seek clemency for Amir who, though sentenced to life in prison, has had conjugal visits and started a family. Amir’s first child, a son, was to be circumcised in a jailhouse ceremony last Sunday. The assassin earlier failed to win Supreme Court permission to conduct the circumcision with relatives outside.

Coulter Escalates War of Words With Jewish Groups

Ann Coulter escalated her war of words with Jewish groups. In a Nov. 1 column, the conservative pundit blasted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for condemning her earlier remarks suggesting that Jews would be “perfected” by Christianity.

Coulter suggested the ADL was soft on Iran and Islamist extremists.

“The ADL is more concerned with what it calls the ‘neo-Nazis’ and ‘anti-Semites’ in the Minutemen organization,” she wrote, referring to an anti-illegal immigrant group that has drawn support from right-wing extremists, “than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance.” The ADL is at the forefront of lobbying for tougher anti-Iran sanctions and monitoring pro-terrorist activity.

She also blasted the ADL for defending Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim in Congress, for taking his oath on a Quran instead of a Bible.

“Do they have Ellison on the record acknowledging whether the Holocaust happened?” she wrote.

Ellison joined resolutions in the Minnesota Legislature condemning Holocaust denial and attended Holocaust commemorations.

ADL dismissed the column as “little more than a desperate attempt to deflect attention from her own bigoted and hateful views and her mistake in giving vent to anti-Semitism on a national cable broadcast.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) renewed its call on broadcast networks to stop using Coulter, dismissing her claims that she is a true defender of Jewish interests.

“Jews for Coulter?,” Ira Forman, the NJDC’s executive director said in a statement. “You could hold that convention in the backseat of a Volkswagen Bug.”

Interim Steinhardt Foundation Head Named

Robert Aronson has been named the acting president of Michael Steinhardt’s Foundation for Jewish Life.

Aronson, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, had become a consultant to Steinhardt in recent years, most recently working on the philanthropist’s Areivim project, a $100 million fund to transform Jewish education. Aronson replaces Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, who left the foundation — then called the Jewish Life Network — in the spring amid some acrimony.

Steinhardt, the ex-hedge fund maven, has given away some $125 million to Jewish causes since 1994, most notably helping to found Birthright Israel and the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education. In an interview with JTA last summer, Steinhardt said that aside from funding for Birthright, he thought that most of the money spent on projects during Greenberg’s tenure had been wasted.

Steinhardt said that going forward he wants to focus the bulk of his energy and resources on follow-up programs for young adults upon their return from Birthright trips, the Areivim fund, and early childhood and informal education initiatives.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

MUSIC VIDEO: Leah (Obama Girl) Kauffman — ‘Perfected: The Ann Coulter Song’

Jews need to be ‘perfected,’ says right-wing darling Ann Coulter.

Not so fast, sings Leah ‘Obama Girl’ Kauffman in ‘Perfected: The Ann Coulter Song’—a YouTube hit music video

White Houses demands Belarus chief retract anti-Semitic remarks; Sarkozy and Israel

Bush Administration Slams Lukashenko

The Bush administration called on the president of Belarus to retract anti-Semitic remarks.

“We have seen reports of President Lukashenko’s disturbing and irresponsible comments,” a State Department statement said. “We find them deeply offensive and call upon him to disavow these remarks. World leaders have a special responsibility to combat anti-Semitism, not perpetuate it.”

In an Oct. 12 broadcast, Alexander Lukashenko said of Bobruisk, a Belarusian port city: “This is a Jewish city, and the Jews are not concerned for the place they live in. They have turned Bobruisk into a pigsty. Look at Israel — I was there.”

Lukashenko was apparently soliciting favorable reaction from Iran, which has increased trade with Belarus in recent months. A Democrat and a Republican are soliciting signatures among U.S. House of Representatives colleagues for a letter slamming the remarks.

“Your government’s tolerance of state-sponsored anti-Semitism is well documented,” says the letter to Lukashenko initiated by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, the congressional body that monitors human rights overseas, and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “Anti-Semitic acts are only sporadically investigated and the Government allows state enterprises to freely print and distribute anti-Semitic material. Anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, intimidation and violence are on the rise. Amid this climate of anti-Semitism, your public statements are particularly dangerous.”

Sarkozy: Israel’s a Miracle

Ehud Olmert won rare French endorsement for Israel and its diplomatic policies. The Israeli prime minister, on a European tour to drum up support ahead of his U.S.-sponsored peace conference with the Palestinians, was hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Monday. Israeli officials quoted Sarkozy as telling Olmert that he considers Israel’s creation a “miracle” of the 20th century.

Though the French president had a Jewish grandfather, he described his pro-Israel sentiments as less a matter of ancestry and more an acknowledgment of the country’s role in introducing democracy to the Middle East. During his meeting with Olmert, Sarkozy reiterated his strenuous opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and said Israel’s security is a “red line” that must not be crossed. But France has yet to support the idea of preventive military action as a last resort for blocking Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

In a further departure from France’s traditional equivocation on Middle East affairs, Sarkozy came out against the Palestinians’ demand that their refugees get a “right of return” to land now in Israel. According to Israeli officials, Sarkozy said it is unreasonable for Palestinians to expect statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while wanting their compatriots resettled in the neighboring Jewish state. Olmert traveled to London Tuesday for talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Coulter: For Jews, Jesus Was a ‘Lunatic’

Jews believe Jesus was a “raving lunatic,” Ann Coulter said. The celebrity pundit appeared on Oct. 15 on Michael Medved’s radio show to defend comments on another show that she hoped Jews would be “perfected” by becoming Christians. Coulter told Medved, an Orthodox Jew, that the sentiment was unremarkable; most belief systems wish for universal conversion, she posited.

“Of course a Christian wants everyone to be a Christian,” she said. “I assume all vegans think the world would be better if everyone were a vegan. And the global warming wackos would like everyone to believe in their crackpot global warming theory. And nonsmokers would like everyone not to smoke.” However, she added: “Jews don’t accept the New Testament, so, you know, as long as we’re playing this new sport of ‘he who is offended first wins,’ if anyone’s going to be offended by anyone else’s religion, the Jews believe that my savior, a Jew, was a raving lunatic, and you don’t see me sniffling and crying.”

There is no Jewish theology of Jesus. There are a small number of isolated talmudic and midrashic references describing him as a rabbinical student who strayed and who lured others into heresy; these have had virtually no impact on Jewish views of Christianity. Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog, first highlighted Coulter’s remarks.

Ahmadinejad Honor Outrages Armenian Jews

The Eurasian Jewish Congress condemned Armenia for honoring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian president was presented with an honorary doctorate Monday at Yerevan State University, as well as a gold medal. Ahmadinejad was visiting Armenia for a two-day state visit. In an interview with the Rosbalt news agency, Eurasian Jewish Congress representative and Armenian Jewish community President Rima Varzhepetyan expressed outrage at the decision to honor Ahmadinejad.

“The constant anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric of the president of Iran, as well as the regularly organized statements in denial of the Holocaust, place Ahmadinejad in line with theories not unlike those of Dr. Goebbels, one of the chief ideologues of Nazi ideology in Germany,” Varzhepetyan said.

Court Lets Neo-Nazis March in Prague

A Prague court ruled that a neo-Nazi group can march through the city’s Jewish quarter on Kristallnacht. This is the second time that the court has overturned a City Hall ban on the march by the National Resistance, according to the Czech daily Lidove noviny.

The rally is scheduled for Nov. 10, the anniversary of the 1938 German pogrom.

Prague officials banned the march, saying it would contribute to inciting intolerance and hatred against citizens on the basis of their ethnicity, origin and religious conviction. Prague’s Jewish community will gather the same day for prayers to remember the victims of Kristallnacht, according to Lidove noviny.

Florida Governor Chided Over Mezuzah

Florida’s governor has been criticized for hanging a mezuzah outside his office in Tallahassee. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said it could turn the state building into a shrine for other religious icons, the Palm Beach Post reported Friday, and is the equivalent of the government endorsing a religious symbol.

“The problem is that if he says yes to this religious symbol, he’s not going to be able to say no to any other religious symbol,” Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU, told the Post. “While it may look like a lovely gesture, it’s very short sighted.”

Over-clamor over Coulter’s comments

Almost a decade ago, James Gleick observed that “the acceleration of just about everything” was going to have less than sanguine impacts on how the traditional news cycle filters events. What used to take weeks now takes days or hours. It’s been less than a week since Ann Coulter made her unfortunate remarks to Donny Deutsch on CNBC’s “The Big Idea,” but the frantic back and forth of blogging, e-mailing, and TV commentary has already somewhat died down. Certainly the din has stilled sufficiently that a few observations can be safely made.

The online release of the video — mere hours after the event but well after pundits had already pecked out odes to their own indignation — mostly confirmed that Deutsch is either overly enamored with taking offense or that he is the single most obtuse human being on cable news. Personally we’re leaning toward the former, if only because that field is already so crowded.

The video makes clear that Coulter — at worst — was doing the rhetorical equivalent of an exasperated eye roll. She had made an off-handed comment about Christianity. Deutsch had gone into paroxysms so severe that he eventually ended up comparing her to “the head of Iran” who says “let’s wipe Israel …” Deutsch actually meant to compare her to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is very much not the head of Iran, but what’s a little ignorance when one is fully engaged in the moral exhibitionism of feigned outrage? Coulter did the only thing that anyone can do when confronted by hysterics grounded in willful misinterpretation — she sarcastically congratulated Deutsch on cracking her plan and invited him to church so she could convert him.

The left-wing Media Matters site had the transcript online in admirable time. The blurb on their press release jumped from Coulter’s humorous description of New York as heaven to her sarcastic concession to Deutsch that he had figured out her plot. In a neat example of plausible deniability, Coulter’s repeated attempts to explain that “perfected” has a very precise New Testament meaning were left out of the blurb but kept in the fuller transcript. Coulter — desperately trying to genuinely explain her beliefs — had quickly unpacked “perfected” as theological shorthand for saying that Christians believe that they achieve salvation by believing in Jesus, while Jews have to do it by obeying the Commandments of the Old Testament. In addition to being an admirable attempt to soothe unintentional offense, this explanation also had the upshot of being obviously true.

The National Jewish Democratic Council outdid even Media Matters with their sound bite: “While Ann Coulter has freedom of speech, news outlets should exercise their freedom to use better judgment.” That’s funny, because we were saying the same thing about Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia not a month ago — and from what we remember, the left’s response was that we were being un-American by denying a non-American his non-existent Constitutional rights. American citizen Ann Coulter is out of bounds, but Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial apparently contributes to public dialogue.

There are at least three other salient political and stylistic differences between Coulter and Ahmadinejad. The most important is that he’s a genocidal anti-Semitic bigot committed to an apocalyptic Islamic eschatology and she’s not any of those things.

The next is that she’s a biting satirist, while we’ve always found his prose overworked and plodding.

And finally, Coulter believes that “Jews go to heaven.” She explained that “Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws.” In addition to raising the possibility that Christians really are endowed with extra patience — we certainly couldn’t stomach explaining the same trivial theological point to Deutsch over and over again — we suggest that this represents a meaningful difference between her and Ahmadinejad.

Underneath this manufactured scandal is a genuine issue of religious and cultural sensibility. The attacks on Coulter combine the worst elements of pedantic liberal sophistication: the banality of multiculturalist tolerance, the humorlessness of scolding identity politics, and the blubbering of righteous indignation. It’s the shallow beginning and the myopic end of the belief gap. Her liberal opponents take their own fashionable, spineless detachment from the world — “believing too much in something is so unsophisticated.” They follow it to its logical conclusion of vapid multiculturalism, where asserting passionate belief is an attack on some incredibly fragile Other — “believing too much in something is intolerant.” It’s a tic with these people. “Tolerance” serves as everything from a catechistic defense mechanism to an empty catchphrase attached to anything liberals like (antonym: “neoconservative”). They can’t help themselves.

This is bad for a country and bad for a religion. Its only result can be the pathetic oversensitivity of fragile insecurity, which in turn generates genuine intolerance. This point was made earlier this year by Rabbi Jacob Neusner. In the Forward, he insisted that people of good will must “meet head-on the points of substantial difference” between Christians and Jews. Of course Christians think that Jews are unperfected Christians. Of course Jews think that Christians are wayward Jews. How could that not be the case? And how can a person who’s confident in their faith find that offensive?

Normally we’d write off Coulter’s attackers as disingenuous leftists trying to even the score after Democratic military guru Wesley Clark blamed the Iraq war on “New York money people” and the left’s anti-war base was repeatedly photographed carrying signs like “Nazi Kikes Out of Lebanon.” But what we can’t understand is why Jews are helping them compare Coulter to actual genocidal maniacs. Sure, it demeans Coulter for no reason — and that should weigh on the consciences of good people. But it also elevates Ahmadinejad, turning him from a pathological, genocidal maniac into just another guest on just another insipid news program. It de facto brings him and his positions into the spectrum of public debate. And for that, Coulter’s attackers on the left and their silent partners on the right should be ashamed of themselves.

Omri Ceren is not technically in love with Ann Coulter, but he would not decline sharing with her an evening of rowdy drinking. He is a doctoral student studying rhetoric at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and can be contacted at omri@mererhetoric.com. His blog, Mere Rhetoric, focuses on American, Israeli and international controversies in the context of the global war against political Islam. It can be read at

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