September 20, 2018

ADL Unearths More Anti-Zionist Comments from Estrada: ‘Zionists Are the F*cking Worst’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Maria Estrada, who is running for the California state assembly in the 63rd District, has been under fire from Jewish organizations for her praise of anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and other Anti-Zionist comments. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has unearthed some other anti-Zionist comments from Estrada, including one that says “Zionists are the f*cking worst.”

In a July 13 blog post, the ADL compiled the following statements from Estrada from her Facebook account:

· Saying “Zionists are the f*cking worst” after calling on Jews to condemn Zionist “terrorism” against Palestinians in May.

· “Anyone who believes they [Israelis] are one of ‘God’s chosen people’ automatically feels superior and justified and all they do [sic]. Religious fanaticism is used to justify apartheid and crimes against Palestinians and no one should be ok with it.”

· “Zionists in America should have to immediately give up their land to whatever tribe it originally belonged to.”

“It’s impossible to ignore the undercurrent of anti-Semitism running through a number of Estrada’s comments about Zionism and Israel,” the ADL wrote. “Although criticism of Israel is entirely legitimate and is not inherently anti-Semitic, Estrada consistently ignores the difference between Israelis and Jews, and has argued that Israeli policies and Zionism more generally are inspired by a sense of Jewish supremacism and disregard for others.”

The ADL later added in their post, “Estrada’s repeated insinuations that support for Israel is a form of religious chauvinism is offensive and demeaning to the large number of American Jews for whom some form of Zionism is part of their cultural identity.”

The ADL also chided Estrada for her praise for Farrakhan, as they said that her claim that Farrakhan has plenty of valid points to make outside of his anti-Semitic comments “rings hollow” because of his frequent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Estrada’s comments have begun to receive national attention, with her comments being highlighted by the likes of CNN’s Jake Tapper and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“Maria Estrada’s language about Israel and Jews is deeply disturbing,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “Her lauding of Louis Farrakhan is dangerous. We cannot afford such ugliness to be elevated, let alone ignored – anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and other forms of intolerance affect all of us. We do not tolerate such prejudice and we call it out in the strongest possible terms.”

Similarly, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper and consultant Dr. Harold Brackman denounced Estrada in a Journal op-ed.

“Like Farrakhan and other anti-Semites before him, Estrada has taken a page from Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish playbook and invoked ‘God’s Chosen People’ to justify her vilification of Jews, not just Zionists,” Cooper and Brackman said. “She apparently took no notice that Farrakhan’s hateful dog whistle also transcends the racial chasm between Black Nationalists and White racist anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville this past August. Alt-right Charlottesville guru Richard Spencer wants to meet with Farrakhan, to work together toward ‘the sort of self-determination we and the broader Alt-Right support.”

Jewish Community Leaders Respond to Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

On July 9, President Donald Trump nominated District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Following that announcement, the Journal asked local leaders to respond.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

The vacancy left by Justice Kennedy’s retirement is a critical one for the future of civil rights, civil liberties and our democracy. At a time where hard-fought progress in LGBT rights, voting rights and women’s rights are threatened, and immigrants and vulnerable communities in our country are under attack, the role of an independent Supreme Court — and one that protects the constitutional rights of all Americans — is more important than ever.

We are concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record does not reflect the demonstrated independence and commitment to fair treatment for all that is necessary to merit a seat on our nation’s highest court. Because he has written and spoken prolifically on many issues of deep concern, we believe his positions merit close scrutiny. These include his demonstrated hostility to reproductive freedom and his past support for greatly expanded and unchecked executive power.

We cannot let Justice Kennedy’s retirement jeopardize hard-fought progress in securing our civil rights and civil liberties. Senators should probe Judge Kavanaugh carefully to ensure that he will respect basic principles of equality, independence, church-state separation and civil rights. As the [Senate Judiciary Committee] reviews the full record, unless they are completely satisfied that Judge Kavanaugh will in fact respect such basic principles as a justice on the Supreme Court, they should oppose his nomination.

Bend the Arc CEO Stosh Cotler

Brett Kavanaugh is an affront to the values and priorities of a vast majority of the American Jewish community. From workers’ rights to civil rights, from reproductive rights to LGBTQ rights and immigrants’ rights, this nominee’s track record is hostile toward the issues our community has fought for over generations, and he has no business serving on the court.

The President and Senate Majority Leader [Mitch McConnell] lack the moral authority to radically shift the balance of our nation’s highest court. But the American people have a voice in this process through our elected senators, and we demand that the Senate reject this radical, dangerous nominee.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier

Judge Kavanaugh is respectful to the Constitution and understands the special responsibility that a Supreme Court judge has. He seems to be a wonderful family man and committed to community services, especially for those in need. He came across as a mainstream person and he did not strike me as an ideologue. He was impressive.

Workmen’s Circle Executive Director Ann Tobeck

President Trump is doubling down on his war against the working people of this country with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. In recent months and weeks, we have witnessed monumental setbacks for women, workers, unions, immigrants and disenfranchised groups in our country. We are profoundly concerned that the Supreme Court will continue down this path and scale back — or abolish — many of the hard-fought-for civil rights, liberties and worker protections that have been part of the bedrock of the United States. While the President’s selection of a conservative candidate is not a surprise, it exemplifies the direction of this administration to further divide, rather than unite, our county.

At the Workmen’s Circle, we are committed to resisting the attacks of this administration on the freedoms that have been a foundation of what makes our country truly great. We implore our elected representatives in Washington to meticulously scrutinize Mr. Kavanaugh’s record, to ask the tough questions and to ensure that our next Supreme Court justice will protect, and not cripple, the rights and freedoms that must remain intrinsic to our country’s democracy.

American Jewish Committee General Counsel Marc Stern

While there is little doubt that Judge Kavanaugh has the technical qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, that by no means alone qualifies [him]. No less important is the nominee’s openness to arguments that challenge his own views and previously expressed beliefs, a robust commitment to protecting the liberties the Constitution guarantees, and assuring all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, the Senate should not confirm a nominee who comes to the bench with the intention of radically and systematically rewriting American constitutional law.

It is imperative that the Supreme Court remains truly an independent branch of our government and does not become merely an extension of partisan politics. Proper Senate evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh will be critical to assuring that the court steers clear of any ideological tilting, as the justices hear arguments and deliberate on cases affecting longstanding landmark decisions, such as Roe v. Wade.

AJC recognizes that the hard cases that come before the court do not necessarily have only one self-evident, correct answer. Neither liberals or conservatives have an exclusive on constitutional interpretation.

Ohr HaTorah Rabbi Mordechai Finley

Most Americans, including me, did not want Trump to be president. Now that he is, we have basically two choices: Oppose everything he does, or oppose his proposed actions on a case-by-case basis. I am a case-by-case person. I don’t think it adds to civil discourse to oppose Kavanaugh simply because No. 45 nominated him. My question is whether there is something about Kavanaugh that makes him unfit to be a justice. So far, I have not found anything, but the day is young.

I happen to be pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage, in favor of liberalizing immigration policy dramatically, in favor of reducing carbon emissions, pro justice regarding marginalized communities, etc. From what I have gathered so far, I don’t see Kavanaugh doing anything radical in those areas. I predict that he will make decisions that I oppose, but not decisions that will fundamentally threaten the Constitution.

Young Israel of Orange County Rabbi Dov Fischer

Judge Kavanaugh’s 300-plus judicial opinions are solid and smart. His opinions reflect that he supports religious rights and liberties and core constitutional values.  On abortion, he rejected the left’s race to find a new constitutional right for under-age undocumented immigrants to have an immediate abortion. He seems steadfastly pro-Second Amendment. And he rejects efforts by federal agencies to regulate as an uncontrolled fourth arm of government when they fail to conduct administrative findings that would balance the economic and social costs of new proposed regulations.

He is a man of character: feeding the homeless, tutoring kids in the inner cities, coaching kids basketball.

Not only have many of Judge Kavanaugh’s majority opinions been upheld on appeals by the Supreme Court, but the court even has adopted some of his dissents on appeal, deeming them the better law than the majority opinions he countered. His 100 most-cited legal opinions have been cited by 210 other judges in their opinions. Thirty-nine of his own 48 judicial appellate clerks have gone on to clerk for United States Supreme Court justices; that means that justices across the ideological spectrum have deemed Judge Kavanaugh’s clerks especially well trained and suited for the highest of judicial work. He will make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice.

Jewish Republican Alliance Co-Founder Bruce Karasik

The Jewish Republican Alliance praises President Trump for an outstanding selection and enthusiastically endorses the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.  With credentials that are beyond reproach, Judge Kavanaugh has always been committed to equal justice under the law,  and to applying the Constitution as written in all of his decisions. The JRA is encouraging the Senate to now swiftly confirm Judge Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice.

Bill for Anti-Semitism Awareness Proposed

A bipartisan piece of Congressional legislation that lays out a clear definition of anti-Semitism as it relates to anti-Israel activity on college campuses was introduced on May 23.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), officially adopts the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism and allows the Department of Education to enforce that definition on college campuses under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin,” per the text of the bill.

The State Department’s website defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The website also includes examples of anti-Semitism couched as anti-Zionism, including comparing Israel to the Nazis, subjecting Israel or Israelis to classic anti-Semitic blood libels, applying double standards to Israel and denying Israel’s right to exist.

According to The Jewish Week, Congress’ adoption of this definition “would make it easier for the Department of Education to identify cases of anti-Semitic activity and for the Department of Justice to take legal action against the accused perpetrators.”

“The evidence is clear,” Deutch told The Jewish Week, “that the Department of Education does not recognize the existence of anti-Semitism on campus, even when it’s obvious.”

Supporters of the bill lauded it as an important step toward combating anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish students on college campuses.

“While most incidents of anti-Semitism on campus are unrelated to anti-Israel activity, the Departments of Education and Justice should have the authority to investigate instances in which anti-Israel activity crosses the line to targeted, unlawful, discriminatory intimidation and harassment of Jewish students,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

“The Departments of Education and Justice should have the authority to investigate instances in which anti-Israel activity crosses the line.”  — ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

In a separate May 23 post on its website, the ADL cited an 89 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses from 2016 to 2017, and that 54 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes in the U.S. were perpetrated against Jews in 2016. As such, the ADL argued, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is necessary.

“Enactment of the legislation will help ensure that OCR [Office for Civil Rights] investigations of future complaints — as well as training and technical assistance for OCR Regional Office professionals — will be informed by a definition of anti-Semitism that includes all current manifestations.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda for the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) also issued a statement that read, in part, “The prevalence of anti-Semitism in the United States, particularly within academic institutions, has risen at an alarming rate. The successful passage of the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will give the Department of Education important clarity and guidance to redress anti-Semitic attacks on campus and send a clear message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for their hate. With this clear definition available to authorities, an unequivocal message will be delivered that anti-Semitic incidents will not be tolerated.”

Opponents of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argue that it infringes upon freedom of speech.

“The overbroad definition of anti-Semitism in this bill risks incorrectly equating constitutionally protected criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it likely that free speech will be chilled on campuses,” the ACLU wrote in a letter to Congress.

A bill similar to the current Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was passed by the Senate in 2016 but not by the House.

ADL Finds Over 4 Million Anti-Semitic Tweets Posted In A Year

Photo from PxHere.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report on May 7 concluding that 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets were issued from January 2017-Janury 2018.

By searching key anti-Semitic buzzwords, the ADL was able to find that anti-Semitism on Twitter was broken down into the following categories:

• Harvey Weinstein
• Conspiracy theories involving the Rothschild family, false flags and George Soros
• Holocaust denialism
• Using “Zionism” as a bludgeon to attack Jews

Various anti-Semitic tweets attributed Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults to his Jewishness, as well as other figures like former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) who have been accused of sexual harassment.

When it comes to conspiracy theories, a number of anti-Semitic tweets that blame Jews for concocting false flag operations, such as the Las Vegas shooting and the attempted bombing of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The Rothschild banking family has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, most notably that they control the weather; on Twitter they are routinely accused of financing chaos in the world in order to gain wealth, a common anti-Semitic trope.

Soros faces a lot of criticism for his funding of various left-wing causes; such criticisms “sometimes take on an anti-Semitic cast, especially when they associate Soros’ actions with his Jewish identity.”

As for Zionism, the difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism can be distinguished by when the term “Zionism” is used as a substitute for the word “Jews.” For instance, one tweet highlighted in the report accused “Zionist parasites” of hijacking the federal government and the media. Another claimed Zionists are “committing genocide in Palestine” and another accused the media of being “Zionist Nazi.”

When looking at the numbers in aggregate, the ADL wasn’t able to determine a particular pattern for inflection points in the number of anti-Semitic tweets, other than the week that President Trump announced the Jerusalem move.

The report recommends that Twitter should combat such anti-Semitic tweets by providing “more access to the platform’s data,” properly enforce its terms of service and allow users to better filter out such vile tweets.

“This new data shows that even with the steps Twitter has taken to remove hate speech and to deal with those accounts disseminating it, users are still spreading a shocking amount of antisemitism and using Twitter as a megaphone to harass and intimidate Jews,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said during the organization’s recent conference. “We hope this report will create a renewed sense of urgency among all social media providers that this problem is not going away and that they need to find innovative new ways to tamp down the spread of hatred online.”

The full report can be read here.

Joanna Mendelson: ADL’s White Supremacy Watchdog

Joanna Mendelson is the senior investigative researcher and director of special projects for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. In her 17th year with the ADL, she provides expertise, analysis and training that enable law enforcement, public officials and community leaders to identify and counter emerging extremist threats.

JJ: What is the likelihood that the fast-expanding white supremacist movement will be stemmed in the near term?

Joanna Mendelson: Parts of the white supremacist movement — notably the alt right—are rapidly expanding. We should take comfort in the fact other segments are not doing so well. Traditional white supremacists, such as Ku Klux Klan groups, have been declining for years. More recently, racist skinheads have been stagnant, perhaps starting to decline.

JJ: What has changed in America in the past 20 years to make these onetime outcasts visible and almost acceptable?

JM: Although it is difficult to measure secretive extremist movements, white supremacists, as in recent decades, have been nowhere near as numerous — or as accepted — as they were during the civil rights movement or before it. What has changed: Largely due to the internet, white supremacists are more connected to each other and more visible. Online propaganda can help radicalize individuals.

“White supremacists, as in recent decades, have been nowhere near as numerous — or as accepted — as they were during the civil rights movement or before it.” — Joanna Mendelson

JJ: When there is a mass killing, some authorities say don’t publicize the names. Would white supremacists retreat if their marches were not covered?

JM: No doubt white supremacists try to take advantage of any media sunshine that can magnify their cause and real-world actions. Many things extremists do are newsworthy. The community needs to be informed to respond appropriately. Coverage must be a delicate balance between arming us with information but not giving them a greater platform to preach hate.

JJ: What is the main cause of white supremacy?

JM: There is no one cause. There are a lot of paths to radicalization. We find common themes of perceived alienation, victimization and scapegoating of others for sundry woes. They perceive themselves as minorities, creating an “us vs. them” paradigm. Others want to belong to something. Some are brought into the movement by more dominant personalities.

JJ: Do they require funding?

JM: White supremacists have costs associated with purveying hate — equipment (official uniforms or accessories, including tattoos, clothing, paraphernalia and weaponry); event organization and travel; internet and print propaganda expenses; merchandise purchasing; legal defense; and even staff/labor costs.

JJ: Who are the people financially supporting them?

JM: The white supremacist movement is poorly funded. A general assumption, fueled by rumors, holds that white supremacists raise a substantial amount from the Russian government, conservative foundations or secretive benefactors. This rarely happens. White supremacists scrape together a small amount from people already in the movement.

One very rare current wealthy donor is William H. Regnery II, a member of the well-known conservative publishing family. He developed extreme right and white supremacist views by the 1990s.

JJ: What kind of women are drawn to the white supremacy movement?

JM: The “14 Words” is a reference to the most popular white supremacist slogan, signifying “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Women are a significant part of the equation in their role to help procure future generations of white people.

JJ: Would the white supremacists of the old days recognize latter-day supremacists?

JM: Prior to and during the civil rights movement, most white supremacists would say they stood for preserving the dominance of the white race in America. After losing the war to deny civil rights to minorities, their ideology has evolved. They claim they are fighting for the very survival of the white race, fighting against a “rising tide of color” controlled and manipulated by Jews.

More recently, white supremacists try to cloak ideology in terms more palatable to a modern audience, “culture” for “race,” “western civilization” for identity.

JJ: What drew you to this field?

JM: I was always drawn to social justice work. My family traditions were deeply steeped in values of social equity, healing and righteousness. My zayde, who passed away recently, epitomized a life of virtue and goodness. He believed in the decency of people. In this vein, I persevere, to shine a light on darkness.

Moving & Shaking: ADL, Chai Center Events; Beit T’Shuvah Marathoners

From left: Rich and Sam Wildman, Michael and Kami Stone, Cory Garson, Rabbi Becky Hoffman, Temple Kol Tikvah Rabbinic Intern Elana Nemitoff, Kol Tikvah Rabbi Jon Hanish and Kol Tikvah Cantor Noa Shaashua celebrate Kol Tikvah at the congregation’s gala event. Photo by Rebecca Schulman.

Temple Kol Tikvah held its annual “Magical Evening” gala honoring several of the Reform community’s members on Feb. 24 at its campus in Woodland Hills.

More than 250 guests attended the soldout event, which included dinner, cocktails, dancing and roaming magicians.

The evening’s honorees were Cory Garson, who received the Kehillah Community Award, and Simona and Rich Wildman, who received the L’dor V’dor Award. The Young Adult Leadership Award recipients were Kami and Michael Stone.

“Our honorees’ accomplishments and dedication continue to make a huge impact on Kol Tikvah and on the greater Jewish community,” said Kol Tikvah Senior Rabbi Jon Hanish. “The magic of their kindness inspires all of us.”

Kol Tikvah clergy in attendance included Rabbi Becky Hoffman and Cantor Noa Shaashua.

The event’s co-chairs were Bunny Getz, Melissa Shenkin Saunders and Rachel Rapport.

Garson has served several key roles at Kol Tikvah, including temple president and vice president of membership. She was on the board of trustees for several years.

The Stones became members in 2013 while searching

for a preschool for their daughter, Charli. Kami began volunteering in the preschool and has been a part of the education fundraiser committee every year. Michael worked with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to acquire a federal grant for Kol Tikvah to upgrade its security systems.

The Wildmans — who also recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary — became members in 1996 and consider their greatest joy to be their commitment to volunteering and the temple, according to the synagogue’s website.

Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

From left: L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Anti-Defamation League Sherwood Prize honoree Marino Gonzalez, a sergeant with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department who was promoted from deputy sheriff since the award was announced, attend the annual ADL Sherwood Prize luncheon on March 13. Photo courtesy of Anti Defamation League.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored law enforcement personnel for combatting extremism, bigotry and hatred at the Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate luncheon on March 13 at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Recipients of the prize, which was founded in 1996 to recognize law enforcement personnel, units and programs, were Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Marino Gonzalez, Laguna Beach Police Department Cpl. Cornelius Ashton, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Section and the Palm Springs Police Department’s Investigations Bureau.

“This year’s honorees have made creative and effective contributions to the fight against hate,” said Amanda Susskind, director of the ADL’s Pacific Southwest region. “The common thread shared by all the honorees is their work with the many diverse groups that make up the population of Southern California.”

The ADL recognized Gonzalez for working toward restoring public trust in law enforcement in the mostly migrant community of Cudahy in southeastern L.A. County. In his acceptance speech, Gonzalez said that undocumented residents have “nothing to fear if they call [the] L.A. Sheriff’s Department.”

In a touching moment, Vasco Possley, a student who benefited from Ashton’s intervention after a hate crime, spoke about how Ashton made him “feel safe.”

David Sherwood, grandson of the couple who founded the award that bears their names, spoke on behalf of his grandfather, who turned 101 the day before the awards ceremony and was unable to attend. Addressing the assembled law enforcement personnel, including L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, Sherwood said his family was grateful for “everything you do.” He closed by repeating the epitaph on a garage wall of a local police department: “Be smart, be safe, be fair and be back.”

Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

From left: Rabbi Mendel Schwartz, Chai Center Honoree Youval Ziv and Esther Schwartz come together at the Chai Center’s 30th annual banquet. Photo by Joe Silva.

The Chai Center, a Jewish outreach organization, held its 30th annual fundraising banquet on March 8 at the El Rey Theatre in the Mid-Wilshire District.

Hosted by husband and wife Rabbi Mendel Schwartz and Esther Schwartz, the event featured Jewish Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Suissa as master of ceremonies.

The event opened with an art exhibition, “Venezia Ghetto, 500 Years,” by artist Sarah Singer. This evening’s honoree, Youval Ziv, CEO and managing director for real estate investment company Pacific Holdings, brought 50 of his friends to the event.

The Chai Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the Jewish community in the greater Los Angeles area and beyond with Shabbat dinners, singles parties, holiday celebrations, innovative High Holy Days services at the Writers Guild Theater, Passover seders, kabbalah classes and retreats. The Chai Center serves Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated Jews from all backgrounds.

The Chai Center was co-founded by the late Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz — also known as “Schwartzie” — and his wife, Olivia Schwartz, the parents of Mendel Schwartz. Olivia serves as the organization’s co-director and Mendel Schwartz is its program and development vice president.

Suissa, in his remarks, described Schwartzie and dinner chairman and philanthropist Stanley Black as two people who never said no.

Black pledged an additional $25,000 toward Chai Center programing.

Beit T’Shuvah coaches Leslie Gold and Anna Johnson helped prepare Beit T’Shuvah residents and supporters for participating in this past Sunday’s L.A. Marathon. Photo by Justin Rosenberg.

Residents and supporters of Jewish rehabilitation organization Beit T’Shuvah, which serves community members suffering from substance abuse and other addictions, participated in the Los Angeles Marathon on March 18.

Every year, Beit T’Shuvah residents and supportive community members run the marathon as part of the Beit T’Shuvah program Running4Recovery, which raises funds for Beit T’Shuvah and serves a clinical function for residents of the center.

This year, 52 individuals — including residents, residents’ friends, Beit T’Shuvah staff and board members — participated and raised more than $100,000 for the organization.

“Running the marathon helps our residents on their road to recovery,” Beit T’Shuvah Director of Advancement Janet Rosenblum said in an email.

Among those running were Beit T’Shuvah Board of Directors Chairman Russell Kern, board members Samuel Delug and Susan Krevoy, and Rosenblum’s husband, Robert Rosenblum, who participated in a 26-week training program prior to the race.

Janet Rosenblum said Beit T’Shuvah developed Running4Recovery in 2009 as both a fundraiser and a clinical program. It has raised about $1 million over its nine years,

“We know that training for and completing a marathon helps residents on their road to recovery,” she said. “It takes a lot of hard work to run or walk a marathon, and the program has been incredibly valuable to the residents who participate. It also brings out our board and other community members and becomes a shared experience for the entire Beit T’Shuvah community.”

From left: Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin; FIDF Young Leadership of L.A. President Zach Zalben; Amanda Mondre; Rebecca Sahim; Francesca Ruzin; Michael Spector; Chantly Geoulla; Jennie Arad and incoming FIDF Young Leadership of L.A. President Danielle Moses attend the FIDF Roaring 20s Old Hollywood gala at The MacArthur. Photo by Justin Kenderes.

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Young Leadership of Los Angeles (YL-LA) held its 10th annual L.A. Roaring ’20s Old Hollywood Gala on March 10 at The MacArthur special events venue in the Westlake neighborhood.

The event raised more than $500,000 in support of programs for the well-being and education of IDF soldiers and drew more than 1,100 young professionals from across greater Los Angeles.

The evening honored the legacy of Zev Karkomi, who was born in Ukraine and escaped the Holocaust before moving to Israel — then the British Mandate of Palestine — in 1941.  He fought for Israel’s independence as a member of the Haganah and later served as a captain of the IDF until 1958. He immigrated to Chicago in 1960, built a thriving business there and became a supporter of the FIDF, among other organizations.

Karkomi’s grandson, Ari Ryan, an FIDF national board member and Western Region vice president, co-founded FIDF YL-LA to continue his grandfather’s legacy.

“L.A.’s FIDF Young Leadership Division is more successful than ever,” Ryan, who chaired the gala for his 10th and final year, said in a statement. “Over the last decade, more than 6,000 young L.A. professionals have gotten involved through our events and helped us to raise much-needed funds to support Israel’s brave soldiers. I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and am humbled by the passion and desire to give back demonstrated by L.A.’s young professional community.”

Attendees included FIDF YL-LA President Zach Zalben; FIDF YL-LA board member and incoming president Jennie Arad; FIDF YL-LA executive board members Robert Roig and Michael Spektor; IDF soldiers, including a former Lone Soldier (one who serves in the Israeli military without immediate family in Israel); “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” cast member Josh Flagg and his husband, Bobby Boyd, who were gala sponsors; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.

Headquartered in New York City, FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors to provide for the care of IDF soldiers and the families of fallen soldiers. The organization has 20 regional offices in the United States and Panama.

Swastika Found: Let’s Bicker

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Last June, Holocaust denial posters were found at a strip mall and near a Jewish day school in Sunnyvale, Calif. How do I know this fun fact? Because earlier this week I read the whole list of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as proof that “We’ve never had a moment like this,” as the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt said.

2017, argued the ADL, was the worst year in many years for anti-Semitism in the U.S. This argument prompted an article in The New York Times by Jonathan Weisman, who claimed: “American Jewish leaders … have been remarkably quiet, focused instead, as they have been for decades, on Israel, not the brewing storm in our own country.”

Anti-Semitism was also the focus of a conference in Israel on May 12–14. In preparation for it, another ADL leader, Sharon Nazarian, wrote an article in which she complained that “too many Jews are giving racist far-right movements” a “free pass.” Why? Because these movements are “pro-Israel.”

Let’s review: This moment is unique in its severity. It is a moment to speak up — and Jews don’t. Jews don’t speak up because their focus is Israel.

More than anti-Semitism changed in the last three decades — it is we Jews who changed. It is our response to anti-Semitic incidents that changed.

Is any of this true? One wonders. By the ADL’s own account, 2017 was not the worst year of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. It was the second-worst since 1994. Now, scratch your head: Was Donald Trump president in 1994? Was it a year in which a focus on Israel prevented Jews from speaking out against anti-Semitism? Was Netanyahu in power at the time, allying Israel with anti-Semitic right-wingers?

No, it was Bill Clinton. And it was Yitzhak Rabin. And yes, there were incidents of Jews being attacked in the U.S. because of Middle East tensions and terrorism. And no, as far as I can remember — and some research seems to confirm my recollection — fewer Jews were using anti-Semitism as a political tool with which to hammer the office of the president, or the government of Israel, or Jewish leaders for “not doing enough.”

Looking back at 1994 and going through the long list of 2017 incidents (“Swastika found in restroom at high school – Lexington, Ky.”) helps one understand that more than anti-Semitism changed in the past three decades — it is we Jews who changed. It is our response to anti-Semitic incidents that changed.

Much more so than in the past, we point fingers at one another as we search for the mysterious factors that ignite anti-Semitism. We see anti-Semitism everywhere, we use anti-Semitism for thinly vailed political purposes, and we identify anti-Semitism among our ideological rivals while turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism within our own ideological camps. As Andrew Silow-Caroll aptly explained: Partisanship makes it “harder for Jews to agree on what constitutes the greatest anti-Semitic threat of the moment.”

Consider U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s response to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ calling him a “son of a dog”: “Anti-Semitism or political discourse? Not for me to judge. I will leave that up to you,” Friedman said in a speech at the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism on March 19.

Abbas deserves to be condemned for this ugly statement. But should we jump to the conclusion that “son of a dog” is anti-Semitic? Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak directed the term at Yasser Arafat in 1994, when Arafat refused to sign a document of the Oslo Accord in Cairo. “You kalb ibn kalb, you dog son of a dog, I am the host! What do you think you’re doing!” Mubarak yelled at him.

Is Abbas anti-Semitic? Surely, he has a questionable track-record of Holocaust denial. Was his comment against Friedman anti-Semitic or just ugly Middle East style? In today’s atmosphere, the answer of many Jews to this question will depend on ideology: Right-wing Jews will call it anti-Semitism, in their quest to delegitimize Abbas; left-wing Jews will call it a manifestation of frustration and anger, in their quest to delegitimize Friedman.

Maybe what we need is a Global Forum for Combating the Politicizing of Jewish Affairs.

Moving & Shaking: Yad Vashem and ADL Events, Plus Big Sunday

Photo by Adam Kleifield

The work involved in commemorating the Shoah has evolved from collecting documents about the victims to telling the stories of the people behind those documents, a director of Yad Vashem recently told a Los Angeles luncheon gathering.

Haim Gertner, director of the Archives Division at Yad Vashem, spoke on the subject of “Does the Holocaust Matter Anymore?” at the March 7 event in the Brentwood office of the American Society for Yad Vashem (ASYV). The son of a Holocaust survivor, who holds a doctorate in modern Jewish history from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gertner discussed the museum’s efforts to identify, document and provide a name for every victim of the Holocaust.

“So today, instead of only having one piece of information about the death of someone, we are collecting all pieces of information,” he told the small gathering of ASYV staff members. “And by that, more and more, you have pieces that tell the life story of a person. It is a lively, ongoing project. Every month, we add tens of thousands of new entries of information.”

Gertner said that documenting the history of the Shoah in increasingly sophisticated ways — such as using innovative technology to sift through artifacts, data and photos to uncover names for the 1.5 million victims who remain unknown — becomes a greater part of the museum’s mission as the survivor generation dies off.

“In the post-survivor generation, we have to find ways to be relevant to younger people,” he said.

Two moral imperatives frame his work, he said: Collecting material from the Holocaust and sharing the findings with the world.

Attendees at the gathering included Michael Fisher, director of the American desk of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem; Ron Meier, ASYV’s executive director; and Bill Bernstein, director of institutional advancement for the ASYV Western Region.

During a Q-and-A session following his presentation, Gertner was asked what can be done to address the uptick in Holocaust denial and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

“This is one of the reasons why there is a necessity to use the historical case, this unique historical case of the Shoah, in order to be aware of the fact that things like that can happen,” he said.

Yad Vashem, based in Jerusalem, is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It draws more than 1 million visitors annually.  Working with partners, the museum has “collected and recorded the names and biographical details of millions of victims of systematic anti-Jewish persecution during the Holocaust,” its website says.

To date, the museum has collected documentation on more than 4.5 million victims, accessible on a database on the museum website.

“The names of nearly one-and-a-half million victims remain unknown,” the website says, “and time is running out.”

From left: Haim Gertner, director of the archives division at Yad Vashem; Michael Fisher, director of the American desk of the international relations division at Yad Vashem; Ron Meier, executive director at American Society for Yad Vashem (ASYV); and Bill Bernstein, director of institutional advancement of the ASYV western region, attended a March 7 luncheon at the West L.A. ASYV office. Photo by Adam Kleifield

IKAR’s “Stranger Purim” party and spiel, held on Feb. 28 at Busby’s East, a Mid-Wilshire sports bar, was one of dozens of local Purim celebrations to take place over the course of the holiday.

The theme of the party played off the hit sci-fi Netflix show “Stranger Things” while the gathering embodied the progressive, social justice-oriented spirit of the egalitarian spiritual community. During the spiel, attendees used boxes of dry macaroni as groggers, which were then to be donated to the SOVA Community Food and Resource Program operated by Jewish Family Service.

IKAR Director of Community Organizing Brooke Wirtschafter handed out 100 red tote bags filled with Band-Aids, snacks, toiletries, socks, a baseball cap and other items for attendees to distribute on their own time to homeless people. The homeless survival kits were ordered from Los Angeles attorney Albert Cohen, who has been overseeing distribution of the kits as part of a broad Jewish community effort, Wirtschafter said.

The event, which had “Stranger Things” paraphernalia decorating the walls, motivated IKAR clergy to fly their inner freak flags. Chazzan and Music Director Hillel Tigay impersonated Mick Jagger while dancing to the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up,” Associate Rabbi Ronit Tsadok performed a choreographed dance to the music of the Spice Girls and Senior Rabbi Sharon Brous dressed up as a zombie. The nonclergy got strange, too: Local environmentalist Steven Wynbrandt dressed up as Ali G, Noah Schechter came as Charlie Chaplin and Zack Lodmer wore a gorilla costume.

After the spiel, the event organizers cleared out the chairs and the party began as many hit the dance floor, drank and schmoozed. For those not into dancing, there was limbo, a miniature golf course and a photo booth. And there was plenty of pizza, potato skins and corn on the cob to eat.

Other Purim celebrations included a March 2 convening of Yavneh Hebrew Academy students with Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, and a March 1 Megillah reading with Rabbi Berel Yemini of the Chabad Israel Center at the Verizon campus in Playa Vista.

From left: Stephanie Wolfson, director of education at the David Labkovski Project (DLP); Leora Raikin, executive director at DLP; Legacy of Hope Award Recipient Josh Shane; keynote speaker Bernd Wollschlaeger; Legacy of Hope Award Recipient Gabby Vanderlaan and DLP board members Nadine Lavender and Connie Marco, attend the second annual DLP Scholars Luncheon. Photo courtesy of the David Labkovski Project.

The David Labkovski Project’s second annual Scholar’s Luncheon — held Feb. 25 at the Courtyard Marriot in Sherman Oaks — honored Arizona State University automotive systems engineering major Josh Shane and de Toledo High School senior Gabrielle Vanderlaan.

The two honorees received the Legacy of Hope Award in recognition of their “exemplary contributions to the David Labkovski Project,” said Leora Raikin, Labkovski’s great-niece and the Project’s executive director.

Bernd Wollschlaeger, who at the age of 14 discovered his father was a Nazi during World War II served as the keynote
speaker.

According to its website, the David Labkovski Project advances knowledge of the Holocaust and Jewish history by introducing students to the artwork of Labkovski, who survived both the Gulag and Nazi persecution.

Some of the late artist’s paintings were put on display from Feb. 12–28 at an exhibition, “Documenting History Through Art,” sponsored by Hillel 818 at Cal-State Northridge.

From left: Big Sunday honoree Marta Kauffman; Rita Speck, representing honoree Kaiser Permanente and Big Sunday Founder and Executive Director David Levinson attend the third annual Big Sunday gala. Photo by Erlinda Olvera.

Big Sunday held its third annual gala on March 8 at Candela La Brea in the Mid-Wilshire district and honored Big Sunday participant Marta Kauffman, co-creator of the classic sitcom “Friends,” and health care provider Kaiser Permanente, a longtime supporter.

“I believe in exponential giving, where one gives to a certain organization, and that gift then goes on to a larger audience, touching an incredible amount of people, who then go on to touch the lives of even more people,” Kauffman said in a statement. “Big Sunday is that kind of organization, one that has grown exponentially and continues to positively impact more and more people.”

Kauffman became involved with Big Sunday — which connects people through volunteer opportunities — soon after the organization launched in 1999.

Today, Big Sunday is one of the largest volunteer-driven organizations in the country.  Its annual Big Sunday Weekend, which actually takes place over the course of a month, draws thousands of people to volunteer projects across Southern California. The organization, which started as a Mitzvah Day at Temple Israel of Hollywood and grew under the leadership of David Levinson, its founder and executive director, also offers year-round volunteer opportunities, including school beautifications, neighborhood cleanups and bingo games with seniors.

From left: ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind; Deborah Feinerman of Paramount Pictures; Andrea Fluczynski of Sotheby’s Americas; Nichol Whitman, executive director of the L.A. Dodgers Foundation; Jihee Kim Huh, vice chairman at PAFCO and ADL Senior Vice President Sharon Nazarian attend the 23rd annual ADL Deborah Awards dinner. Photo by Michael Kovac.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) held its 23rd annual Deborah Awards dinner March 7 at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills.

The event raised $350,000 to help the ADL combat racism and bigotry, and honored four women who have exemplified ADL ideals and values in their respective professions and civic contributions, an ADL statement said.

The honorees were Deborah Feinerman, executive vice president of business affairs and legal at Paramount Pictures; Andrea Fluczynski, executive vice president and chairwoman at Sotheby’s Americas; Jihee Kim Huh, vice chairwoman at Pacific American Fish Company; and Nichol Whiteman, executive director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. All the honorees, who shared their personal stories, were either immigrants or children or grandchildren of immigrants.

The honoress were presented with their awards by Paramount Pictures General Counsel Rebecca Prentice; filmmaker, writer and actress Susan Nimoy; LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril; State Treasurer John Chiang; and ADL Senior Vice President Sharon Nazarian. Television personality AJ Gibson served as the emcee.

The Deborah Award, which the ADL gives out every year to extraordinary women in the professional and civic communities, is named for the biblical prophetess, Deborah, who was noted for her courage, wisdom and leadership.

ADL Tears Into Women’s March Leaders for Attending Louis Farrakhan Speech

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), ripped into leaders of the Women’s March for attending a Louis Farrakhan speech the prior weekend.

Greenblatt prefaced his Medium post by noting that Farrakhan’s speech during last weekend’s Nation of Islam convention was laced with anti-Semitism, which included statements about how “Jews are part of ‘the Synagogue of Satan;’ that the white people running Mexico are Mexican-Jews; that Jews control various countries including Ukraine, France, Poland and Germany where they take advantage of the money, the culture and the business; that Jesus called Jews ‘the children of the devil’; and ‘when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.’” Farrakhan also promoted the anti-Semitic slander “that Jews control the government and the FBI and use marijuana to feminize black men.”

“The NOI uses its programs, institutions, publications, and social media to disseminate its message of hate,” Greenblatt wrote. “At last weekend’s convention they were heavily promoting, ‘The Secret History Between Blacks and Jews,’ a multivolume tract that blames Jews for orchestrating the transatlantic slave trade. It deserves a place on the shelf of every bigot alongside ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ another work of libelous fiction used to foment little more than intolerance.”

Greenblatt also pointed to Farrakhan’s bigoted statements toward whites and gays and then noted that too many public figures “have a blind spot” and specifically called out a couple of leaders of the Women’s March.

“Consider that in the audience at last weekend’s conference was Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, who got a special shout-out from Farrakhan and who regularly posts laudatory pictures of him on her Instagram account — as does Carmen Perez, another leader of the March,” Greenblatt wrote. “Linda Sarsour, another March organizer, spoke and participated at a Nation of Islam event in 2015. Her most notable response to his incendiary remarks this year was a glowing post on Perez’s Facebook page to praise Farrakhan’s youthful demeanor.”

Perez simply dismissed Farrakhan’s bigotry by stating that no one’s “perfect,” according to Greenblatt. Mallory touted a tweet from rapper called Mysonne to show that she isn’t anti-Semitic, although the Washington Free Beacon noted that Mysonne once tweeted that Jews were responsible for the oppression of blacks.

Zioness Movement President Amanda Berman called on the Women’s March leaders to condemn Farrakhan.

“It is hypocritical beyond words that they continue to align themselves with Louis Farrakhan, who is an unapologetic bigot that spews hate targeting the Jewish community, LGBTQ community and others,” Berman said in a statement. “There is no ambiguity on this issue. Either the Women’s March leaders endorse the vilification of the Jewish people or they don’t. It’s that simple.”

Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) was also mentioned in Greenblatt’s post for recently praising Farrakhan, and when pressed on it Davis attempted to walk it back but has yet to publicly condemn Farrakhan.

CNN’s Jake Tapper launched a tweetstorm on Feb. 28 about Farrakhan’s speech:

The ADL has also recently criticized three Democrats, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), for attending a 2013 dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Farrakhan was also an attendee at the dinner.

In addition to his bigoted statements, Farrakhan’s record includes lavishing praise on the Iranian regime and deposed dictators Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi. Farrakhan also established a partnership between the NOI and the Church of Scientology and believes that an unidentified flying object (UFO) known as the “Mother Wheel” that “will rain destruction upon white America, but save those who embrace the Nation of Islam.”

ADL Reports Record Rise in Anti-Semitic Acts

The words, " Jews Kill Christians” were written into a car windshield in Los Angeles in January 2017. The Anti-Defamation League counted this among the 268 incidents of anti-Semitism in California in 2017, which was up from 211 in 2016. Photo courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League

Anti-Semitic incidents nationwide increased nearly 60 percent from 2016 to 2017, the “largest one-year jump in recent history,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In 2017, 1,986 anti-Semitic instances of assault, harassment or vandalism were reported in the U.S., up from 1,267 cases in 2016.

The ADL reported its findings in its annual “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents,” released on Feb. 27.

“Anti-Semitism is nonpartisan,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a conference call held in conjunction with the report’s release. “It can come from the extreme right or extreme left, whether it can arise out of events like Charlottesville, or the debate over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or from the likes of Louis Farrakhan. It has many manifestations and sources. We don’t know why this [increase] happened, but we try to monitor it. And we believe that in monitoring it, we can find new ways to fight back.”

The data for 2017 recorded “the second-highest number of incidents that the ADL has seen in any year since we started tracking this,” Greenblatt said. “Incidents peaked in 1994, the year of the Oslo Accords, the year that was characterized by violent anti-Semitism in New York and around the country.”

In California, 268 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 2017, up from 211 in 2016 — an increase of 27 percent, the ADL said.

Amanda Susskind said the latest audit’s findings should be of concern to all communities, not only Jews.

The civil rights organization has conducted an audit every year since 1979 of criminal and noncriminal acts of anti-Semitism. The audit does not include online expressions of hate but reports exclusively on real-time physical incidents, including vandalism, assault and harassment.

ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind in Los Angeles, in a phone interview with the Journal, attributed the increase of incidents in part to the “failure of moral leadership in the highest levels [of government] in this country.”

High schools and colleges, in particular, experienced a sharp increase in reported acts of anti-Semitism from 2016 to 2017, according to the audit. A total of 204 anti-Semitic incidents were reported on college campuses in 2017, compared with 108 in 2016, the ADL said.

Susskind linked the increase of anti-Semitic acts at schools to the growing normalization of cyber hate.

“Very often, vitriolic stuff happening online seems to be setting a tone among the young population,” she said. “Maybe that is why it is so bad on high school and college campuses, where it seems to be acceptable to be using this kind of rhetoric.”

Anti-Semitic incidents in California increased, from 2016 to 2017, 27-percent. Courtesy of the ADL

In California, there were 108 anti-Semitic acts of vandalism in 2017, up from 77 in 2016, the ADL said. Among them was a December incident at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, in which a swastika was spray-painted on the guard booth at the synagogue’s entrance.

More than 150 harassment incidents occurred in California in 2017, up from 128 in 2016, including the mailing of an anti-Semitic letter to the Jewish owners of the Los Angeles Diamond Factory in October, the ADL said. The letter contained a swastika, racial and homophobic epithets and the slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Nationwide, 1,015 incidents of harassment occurred in 2017, including 163 bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers, schools and other institutions. Authorities arrested an Israeli-American teenager in connection with many of the bomb threats, all of which turned out to be hoaxes. Nevertheless, Susskind said the ADL still considered the incidents to be anti-Semitic.

“We don’t count anti-Semites; we try to document cases where Jews are targeted for assault, vandalism or harassment,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the motivation of any specific perpetrator is — if the Jewish community is traumatized, as they were when the bomb threats came though, it counts for us.”

Susskind said the latest audit’s findings should be of concern to all communities, not only Jews.

“This is not going away, this is not a problem of history and something you only read about in school books,” she said. “This is a real-time problem. Anti-Semitism is often called the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ and is often a precursor or predictor of more pernicious or apparent hate and bigotry in society.

“We do think it is something we should be taking seriously.”

Nationwide, in 2017 there were more anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 than there have been since 1994. Courtesy of the ADL

ADL Criticizes Three Congressional Democrats for Dining with Iranian President and Louis Farrakhan

Photo from Flickr/Lorie Shaull

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt issued a statement on Twitter denouncing three congressional Democrats for attending a dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 that Louis Farrakhan was at.

Greenblatt called it “extremely disturbing” that the three members, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is also the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Andre Carson (D-IN) dined with “hatemongers.”

“Yes, it may have been an ‘official’ event org by Iran govt,” Greenblatt tweeted. “However, this is one of the most repressive & aggressive regimes in world, a govt that specializes in state-sponsored #antisemitism, regularly commits #humanrights violations and actively engages in #terror.”

Greenblatt then lambasted Farrakhan for being “an unrepentant anti-Semite who has said Jews are Satanic & responsible for 9/11.”

“Some of those who attended have repudiated Farrakhan & his intolerance in the past. They should do so again,” Greenblatt wrote. “They owe it to their constituents + Jewish community to explain their rationale and remind the world that there is no statue [sic] of limitations on standing up to hate.”

A spokesperson for Ellison told National Journal editor Josh Kraushaar that Ellison and Farrakhan didn’t talk to each other at the event.

The reported 2013 dinner and 2016 visit with Farrakhan is the latest Farrakhan-related controversy for Ellison, who has been plagued with questions about his prior ties to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam (NOI) ever since he first ran for Congress in 2006. Ellison has repudiated the organization on multiple occasions; his defense is that he was only involved with NOI for 18 months although there is evidence to suggest his involvement with NOI and ardent defense of Farrakhan lasted for 10 years.

“Which is the real Ellison: The one who drafts earnest letters of apology to Jewish groups? Or the one who, as recently as 2013, saw it fit to dine with Farrakhan under Iranian auspices?” Commentary’s Sohrab Ahmari wrote.

H/T: Daily Caller

Moving & Shaking: ‘Schmaltz, Schmendricks and Showbiz!’ Dishes on Pop Culture; Art Show Supports ADL

From left: Psychologist and screenwriter Michael Berlin, Temple Beth Am Programming Director Lia Mandelbaum, Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein, “Conan” writer Rob Kutner, Jewish Journal contributing writer Esther D. Kustanowitz, Temple Beth Am Vice President of Programming and Engagement Jacqui Jacobs and TV editor Michelle Fellner organized and participated in “Schmaltz, Schmendricks and Showbiz!” Photo by Lia Mandelbaum

A pop-culture roundtable at Temple Beth Am on Nov. 16, featuring five creative Jewish professionals, examined depictions of Jews in movies and television and what they say about American-Jewish life.

“Tonight, we want to talk about how the Jewish experience has changed over time,” psychologist and screenwriter Michael Berlin, the event moderator, said at the start of the evening, titled “Schmaltz, Schmendricks and Showbiz!”

During the event, comedy writer Rob Kutner (“Conan”) discussed what it was like being a pro-Israel writer at “The Daily Show” and having more pro-Israel views than then-host Jon Stewart. Kutner said he tried to bring more balance to the content of a “Daily Show” segment that portrayed pro-Israel Jews as being unwilling to listen to anything other than full-throated support for Israel.

“I didn’t want to argue too much with my boss, but I was trying to present a reasonable pro-Israel position,” Kutner said.

Michelle Fellner, a television editor whose credits include “Mad Men,” recalled how she bonded with show creator Matt Weiner over their shared Jewish heritage when she worked on the Emmy Award-winning drama.

Over the course of the evening, the panelists presented clips from films and television shows that depicted Jews in flattering and negative ways. Journal contributing writer Esther D. Kustanowitz discussed “JAP Battle,” a clip from the musical-comedy show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” featuring two Jewish American princesses trading rap verses skewering each other and Jewish stereotypes.

Kustanowitz said the evening was an opportunity “for Jews to emerge beyond the stereotype.”

During a Q-and-A toward the end of the night, Temple Beth Am Rabbi Ari Lucas asked the panelists how Judaism informed their approach to their work. Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor-in-chief of Variety, said he struggles with staying true to the Jewish law prohibiting lashon harah (Hebrew for “gossip”) because almost 90 percent of the content on his newspaper’s website is gossip. Still, he said, he hopes the articles shed some light on troubling realities in society.

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles President Scott Edelman (left) and Learned Hand Award recipient John Rogovin. Photo by Howard Pasamanick Photography

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles honored John Rogovin, executive vice president and general counsel at Warner Bros. Entertainment, with the AJC Learned Hand Award on Oct. 25 at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles.

“Who better exemplifies the spirit of liberty than the American Jewish Committee, which I admire so much for their work on behalf of all of us — Jews and non-Jews — safeguarding human rights,” Rogovin said in his acceptance speech.

Michael Powell, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, presented Rogovin with the award.

Attendees at the ceremony honoring Rogovin included John Emerson, former United States ambassador to Germany. Emerson delivered the evening’s keynote speech on the importance of U.S.-Germany ties and the role AJC plays in that relationship.

Norman Eisen, former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, and Matthew Dontzin, founding partner at Dontzin, Nagy & Fleissig, served as the masters of ceremonies.

The dinner co-chairs were Jaye Rogovin, John Rogovin’s wife; former AJC National President Bruce Ramer; AJC Los Angeles President Scott Edelman; and Latham & Watkins partner Joseph Calabrese.

AJC Los Angeles Director Dan Schnur opened the program.

AJC, an advocacy group combating anti-Semitism, supporting Israel and more, established the Learned Hand Award, the highest honor the organization bestows to an individual in the legal profession, in memory of Judge Learned Hand, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

From left: Deanna Migdal, Esther Friedberg, Chellie Goldwater Wilensky, Gail Simpson, Susan Isaacs and Ivy Libeross attend the NA’AMAT USA luncheon. Photo courtesy of NA’AMAT USA

The San Fernando Valley Council of NA’AMAT USA held its annual Distinguished Community Leader Awards luncheon at American Jewish University on Oct. 29.

This year’s honorees were Dr. Fran Kaufman, a prominent figure in the treatment of pediatric diabetes; community activist Barbara Yaroslavsky, for her fight against poverty; and Gail and Myles Simpson, for their service to NA’AMAT and Conservative Judaism.

“I am very appreciative of this honor,” Gail Simpson said. “NA’AMAT has been a part of my life for the past 40 years. I’ve seen all of our accomplishments in Israel and how NA’AMAT has improved the lives of women and their families. Our programs are constantly evolving as the needs of women grow and change.”

NA’AMAT USA, a volunteer organization, partners with NA’AMAT Israel to provide educational and social services for families and individuals in need.

The luncheon included a video screening about NA’AMAT’s technological high schools for disadvantaged and at-risk teens in Israel, introduced by the organization’s national vice president of public relations and publicity, Susan Isaacs.

“It is an inspiration to recognize the achievements of our distinguished honorees,” NA’AMAT USA Executive Director Deanna Migdal said. “These leaders serve as models for us all as we work to fulfill our mission of enhancing the quality of life of women and children in Israel.”

Virginia Isaad, Contributing Writer

“Fauda” star Laetitia Eido poses on the red carpet at the Israel Film Festival. Photo by Alex Zamyatin

As part of the Israel Film Festival, 220 people attended a screening of a new episode from the Israeli TV hit “Mossad 101” at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills on Nov. 15. The screening was followed by a panel discussion about how to expand the impact of Israeli television. Adam Berkowitz, co-head of television at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), moderated the panel, titled “Israeli TV: An American Success Story.”

“Israeli TV is quite young — 27 years,” said Udi Segal, founding CEO of Sumayoko Films, which produced “Mossad 101.” “It can offer young and enthusiastic creators.”

Segal said Israeli creators tend to have lower budgets than their American counterparts, which is helpful for the creative process. “When you have a small box, you must think outside it,” he said.

“Israelis are innovators and entrepreneurs, and want to invent and push the envelope,” said Sharon Tal, head of drama and comedies at Amazon. “They never want to think safe. They always have something to say and they say it.” She added that Israeli writers are used to a “very honest and brutal approach,” that they’re not afraid of getting notes about their scripts, while American writers have to be “treated with kid gloves.”

“What makes a good TV show is to take reality and exaggerate it a little,” said writer David Shore (“House,” “The Good Doctor”). “That’s what Israel is — reality that’s a little more heightened and a little more focused.”

The panel also included Danna Stern, managing director of Yes Studios, and award-winning actor Tsahi Halevi. Halevi has been acting for about five years and now is enjoying recognition for his work in “Mossad 101” and “Fauda,” both of which were featured at the festival.

“The last year-and-a-half has changed the formats business,” said Michael Gordon, an agent at CAA. Gordon said Israel is particularly well positioned to export stories. It generates “organic stories, because the population isn’t homogenous,” he said.

Both “Fauda” and “Mossad 101” present diverse characters coming into conflict with one another over cultural or ideological differences.

The following night, Nov. 16, the festival hosted a red-carpet world premiere for the second season of “Fauda,” featuring two sold-out screenings and a Q-and-A panel discussion with the talent and creators of the show.

Esther D. Kustanowitz, Contributing Writer

From left: Sephardic Education Center (SEC) Director Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, “NCIS: Los Angeles” actress Daniela Ruah, Sephardic Film Festival honoree Joe Ouaknine and SEC President Neil Sheff. Photo courtesy of Sephardic Educational Center

The Sephardic Educational Center (SEC) kicked off its 14th annual Los Angeles Sephardic Film Festival on Nov. 5 with a dinner under the stars at the Paramount Studios lot.

Every year, the Sephardic Film Festival showcases original stories by filmmakers around the world, while highlighting the heritage and culture of Sephardim.

This year’s opening film was actor and director Ze’ev Revach’s “Back to Casablanca.” The film follows Revach’s journey back to his homeland in search of a Moroccan actor to star alongside him in his next film, which he dreams he’ll be able to distribute around the Arab world.

SEC President Neil Sheff delivered remarks at the start of the evening.

Proceeds from the weeklong festival, which closed on Nov. 12, support SEC educational programs, including SEC Hamsa Israel, a trip to Israel for teenagers led by SEC Director Rabbi Daniel Bouskila.

The SEC presented Joe Ouaknine, co-founder of Titan Industries, a women’s fashion footwear company, with the Maimonides Leadership Award. Ouaknine was born in Morocco, immigrated to Canada, moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and is an active supporter of the Los Angeles Sephardic community, the SEC website says.

Actress Daniela Ruah (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) emceed the evening.

Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

LACMA Director Michael Govan poses at “ArtWorks ADL” with (from left) his wife, fashion and luxury brand consultant Katherine Ross; Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director Amanda Susskind; ADL executive committee member Nicole Mutchnik; and Sotheby’s Executive Vice President and Chairwoman Andrea Fiuczynski. Photo courtesy of Anti-Defamation League

“ArtWorks ADL: Justice, Advocacy And Art” drew more than 400 art aficionados, philanthropists and friends of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to the Beverly Hills home of husband-and-wife entrepreneurs and philanthropists Lisa and Joshua Greer.

The Oct. 26 event, held in the Greers’ backyard on a balmy evening, showcased more than 40 paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works donated by Los Angeles-based artists and galleries inspired by the ADL mission and representing the Jewish, Asian-American, Latino, African-American and LGBT communities.

Andrea Fiuczynski, executive vice president and chairwoman at Sotheby’s America, conducted a live auction. The event raised $420,000 to support ADL programs combating hate and bigotry.

Attendees included the evening’s co-chairs, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Director Michael Govan and international art consultant Lauren Taschen.

Police Investigate Defacing of Temple’s Bathroom

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Police are investigating what an Anti-Defamation League official called a “hate incident” after anti-gay graffiti was found scrawled on the door of a Beverly Hills synagogue’s all-genders bathroom last month.

The profanity-laden message, discovered after an Oct. 15 bat mitzvah party at Temple Emanuel, contained slurs against liberals, gays and lesbians, as well as the synagogue’s rabbi.

“It was definitely a hate incident and, because it took place at a temple, it could be an anti-Semitic incident,” said ADL regional director Amanda Susskind, who is a Temple Emanuel member. “We’re still trying to sort that though.”

Eric Reiter, the temple’s executive director, said the synagogue’s video surveillance system captured a suspect on camera. Reiter declined to identify the suspect, an adult male who he said had a confrontation with a temple security guard that evening. The family holding the bat mitzvah party belongs to Temple Emanuel; the suspect does not.

Beverly Hills police are seeking to obtain the surveillance video, which could yield clues about the alleged crime, Sgt. Max Seubin said in a phone interview.

An Oct. 26 statement co-signed by Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Jonathan Aaron and President Barry Brucker described the suspect as a “non-member attendee [who] vandalized our all-gender bathroom and wrote angry, hateful words against the LGBTQ community, and threatening language directed toward temple clergy.”

“We condemn this act of hatred and do not tolerate hate crimes in our synagogue and beyond,” the statement said.

On Oct. 29, the synagogue held a town hall meeting to discuss what took place and to address any community members’ concerns. Brucker referenced the incident as he addressed congregants during Friday night services on Nov. 3.

The defaced bathroom is located in the synagogue’s sanctuary building, at 300 N. Clark Drive, next to men’s and women’s restrooms and adjacent to the synagogue’s reception hall. A sign next to the door says, “This restroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression.”

The bathroom was a single-stall family bathroom before Temple Emanuel’s Associate Rabbi Sarah Bassin enlisted the help of JQ International — a Jewish LGBT support organization — to transform it into an all-genders bathroom in 2015.

The vandalism occurred as many Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and non-denominational communities are introducing gender-neutral bathrooms. In the Los Angeles area, these include egalitarian community IKAR and Reform synagogues Stephen S. Wise Temple, Temple Adat Elohim and Kol Tikvah.

Rabbi Rachel Bat-Or, director of the JQ Helpline and Inclusion Services, said many Jewish day schools, synagogues and other institutions from the liberal Jewish movements have inquired about ways to fund the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms.

“It is a radical statement for a synagogue to make and one that is really welcomed by the LGBTQ community,” she said. “We know if we walk into that organization, even if we see only that sign, we know we have stepped into an LGBTQ-inclusive organization and we can assume there are other ways they welcome the LGBTQ community.”

“It was definitely a hate incident and it could be an anti-Semitic incident.” — Amanda Susskind

In separate interviews, Aaron and Bat-Or said they considered the vandalism at Temple Emanuel an affront to progressive Judaism.

“It is a hate crime against Jews but more specifically a crime against progressive Judaism and liberalism — two values I will stand by until I die — to be progressive and liberal and accepting of everybody,” Aaron said.

“I don’t think that it was particularly a Jewish crime — it was an LGBTQ crime,” Bat-Or said. “The fact that it was done in a Reform synagogue and the word, ‘liberalism,’ was used was hate speech against the rabbis and hate speech against liberal progressive Judaism.”

Scott Stone, who is gay and serves on the temple’s board, said he and his partner have two teenage children who spend a lot of time at the synagogue. Years ago, Stone chaired the synagogue’s capital campaign for a renovation of the building where the incident occurred.

“We think of the temple and its buildings as our spiritual home,” he said. “To have someone enter our temple and vandalize it with homophobic and anti-reform Jewish graffiti is as if they broke into our actual home and did the same.”

ADL Steps Up Reporting on Anti-Semitic Incidents

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

After recording a “massive surge of anti-Semitic incidents” in the last two months of 2016, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has taken the unprecedented step of releasing a midyear audit — and found a 67 percent increase in physical assaults, vandalism and other attacks on Jewish people and institutions compared with the same period last year, according to its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt.

Released Nov. 2 and covering the first three quarters of 2017, it was ADL’s first midyear report on anti-Semitic incidents since it began releasing a yearly audit in 1979. The previous report, in April, noted a 34 percent increase in incidents in the United States in 2016.

“I didn’t want to be in a situation where we were waiting 12 months to understand the state of play,” Greenblatt told the Journal. “In order to educate and engage policymakers and political figures and the general public, we needed to take a snapshot right now.”

The new survey — available online at adl.org — found 1,299 incidents recorded by ADL so far in 2017, already exceeding the total of 1,266 incidents in all of 2016.

The report presented a particularly sobering picture for Californians. In the first nine months of 2017, anti-Semitic incidents in the state increased by nearly half, to 197 from 135. In Southern California, that included Nazi graffiti at a Hollywood coffee shop and white supremacist symbols spray-painted on a garage at ADL’s Century City office.

Hours before releasing its survey, ADL’s local staff participated in a “State of Hate” forum in Los Angeles convened by California Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a Jewish Democrat whose 50th District stretches from West Hollywood to Malibu.

“California is at times ground zero for a lot of the hate ADL is tracking nationwide,” ADL senior investigative researcher Joanna Mendelson told the audience of law enforcement officers, community leaders and clergy at the Nov. 1 event. Mendelson said California leads the country in its racist skinhead population.

“While these groups are a small percentage of the overall population, they’re not insignificant and are becoming increasingly sophisticated and organized,” Bloom said. “This is cause for concern.”

Greenblatt echoed Bloom’s concern during a phone call the next day. The Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rallies of Aug. 11-12 “veered into the national consciousness unlike any white supremacist gathering we have seen in recent memory,” he said.

The ADL audit noted an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents after the Charlottesville rally. Of the 306 incidents that occurred in the third quarter of 2017, 211 took place after Aug. 11, more than two-thirds.

Greenblatt said this increase could not definitely be linked to Charlottesville, but he said President Donald Trump’s failure to unambiguously condemn the rallies encouraged white supremacist elements.

“It’s undeniable that the president’s equivocation created an environment in which the extremists felt emboldened. How do I know this? I know this because they said so,” Greenblatt said, referring to ADL’s monitoring of extremist groups at gatherings and on the web.

The State of Hate forum, held in an auditorium at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, sought to give law enforcement and other community leaders knowledge and tactics to address this rise in hate. It took place the morning after a suspected terrorist mowed down pedestrians and bikers in a rented pickup truck in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12.

“California is at times ground zero for a lot of the hate ADL is tracking nationwide.” – Joanna Mendelson

The attack made the forum “particularly relevant and timely,” said Dan Schnur, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles region, who moderated the event.

“Unfortunately, in 21st-century America, there’s never a bad time to have a discussion like this, and yesterday’s atrocities were just the latest reminders of the challenges we face,” he said.

Besides Mendelson, the other speakers were Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission; political science and Chicana/Chicano studies professor Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University (LMU); and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Matthew Coit, who heads the FBI’s Civil Rights Unit in L.A.

Speaking last, Guerra gave Angelenos reason to be hopeful. Citing an LMU survey of 1,203 city residents in January, he said Angelenos tend to view race relations positively, with 77 percent saying that racial and ethnic groups in the city get along. Guerra said the nationwide number is 48 percent, drawing on a similar Pew Research Center poll.

Jewish groups in aftermath of Las Vegas attack call for tougher gun control laws

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1. Photo by Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

Jewish groups responded to the mass shooting in Las Vegas by condemning the violence and calling for gun control legislation.

At least 58 people are dead and more than 500 wounded in the attack at a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Strip late Sunday night. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Reform movement were among the groups that called for tougher gun control laws in the attack’s aftermath.

“While we are still learning details and do not know the impetus for the killings, one thing is clear: the threat of mass violence against innocent civilians in America has not abated. This threat must be taken seriously,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. He called for the enactment of “tough, effective gun violence prevention measures.”

Greenblatt said its Center on Extremism is investigating the background and activity of shooter Stephen Paddock and whether he may have ties to extremists or was motivated by any extremist ideology.

B’nai B’rith International said it is “well past time for meaningful, bipartisan gun violence legislation in this country.” It also said: “Though information about the shooter and his arsenal is still being uncovered, we have long held there is no acceptable, reasonable need for civilians to have access to large rounds of ammunition.”

“B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with the Las Vegas community and with all those impacted by gun violence around the nation,” the statement also said.

National Council of Jewish Women CEO Nancy Kaufman in a statement called for Congress to act to “stem the tide of this senseless violence before yesterday’s tragedy becomes just another record to be broken.”

“Federal lawmakers must act now to restrict access to automatic weapons, reject the current bill before Congress that would make it easier to buy silencers, and instead focus on how to make our communities and our country safer. NCJW expects nothing less from our elected officials,” the statement also said.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the mass shooting cannot be termed a random act of violence.

“Even before all the facts are known we know this: rather than revere gun rights our country must finally revere human life,” he said.

“We mourn those callously slaughtered in Las Vegas and pray for the wounded. But our prayers must be followed by action, long overdue limits to the easy access to fire arms.”

The Jewish Federations of North America in its statement called on people wherever they are to donate blood.

“These attacks are just the latest instances of senseless violence that terrorizes innocent people everywhere and must come to an end,” the group said.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, also called the attack “senseless.”

“On behalf of world Jewry, I condemn this horrific criminal act,” he said in a statement.

David Bernstein, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said that while authorities have not determined whether the shooting was an act of terror, “there is no question that it has terrorized and traumatized hundreds of innocent people.”

Cheryl Fishbein, the JCPA’s chair, added: “It is imperative that we come together to address the underlying causes in the days ahead.”

There are over 70,000 Jews and at least 19 synagogues in Las Vegas, according to the JewishVegas.com website.

Sharon Nazarian: The Jewish Iranian leading ADL’s global mission

Sharon Nazarian assumes the role of senior vice president of international affairs for the Anti-Defamation League, a new position. Photo by Byron Purvis/AdMedia

Sharon Nazarian was 10 when her family left Iran for the United States, fleeing a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. Growing up in Iran, she’d experienced anti-Semitism firsthand as a Jew in a country where Jews were second-class citizens.

As she assumes the post of senior vice president of international affairs for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — a new position in the organization — her job now is to fight for those experiencing anti-Semitism and racial hatred around the world.

By her own account, she’ll have plenty to do. In a conversation with the Journal on Sept. 6, her first day on the job, Nazarian said the forces of hatred are on the march around the world.

“It’s really a global phenomenon,” she said, “and the ADL has to look at it holistically and see where we can be most helpful to those who need us.”

After Nazarian’s family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1978, her father, Younes, built a fortune as an investor and made a name as a champion of pro-Israel causes. Sharon, now the president of the family’s charitable foundation, took up her father’s devotion to Israel, but went into academia rather than business, earning a doctorate in political science from USC. Later, at UCLA, she taught courses in political science and helped establish and lead the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.

Nazarian serves on a number of charitable boards, including HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the UCLA Foundation. She also holds public policy posts with a focus on the Middle East; for instance, as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

During her interview, which has been edited for clarity and length here, she declined to provide a detailed view of her strategy at the ADL, because she said she had yet to learn the ins and outs of her new role, but spoke about her priorities and her views about the global environment in which the ADL  works.

Jewish Journal: What global trends are you keeping an eye on as you start your new role?

Sharon Nazarian: Europe has always been an important focus, but today probably more than ever. We’ve seen the shift not only in terms of anti-Semitism in Europe, but with population changes, with refugees, with changing sentiment toward refugees and immigrants. There’s much that ADL can help with, for the Jewish community and the broader community. We can partner with the Jewish communities in those countries to see how our mutual interests can be served.

We’ve seen changes in Venezuela and Argentina. There’s concern there for the Jewish communities that we’re keeping a close eye on. The International Affairs Division has been doing a great job, but at the same time, we have to continue to be very vigilant there.

JJ: We seem to hear almost daily about incidents of violent anti-Semitism in Europe. Is Jewish life there a lost cause or can ADL act to reverse that trend?

SN: ADL is doing a tremendous job of working with Jewish communities of Europe and seeing how we can be of support to them. We feel strongly that they know what’s best, they know what they need. Working in collaboration and partnership with the Jewish communities that are living their lives every day with great difficulty has been our [modus operandi] and we will continue.

The trends are very worrisome, but I think in a way it’s not unique to Europe, and it’s not unique to anti-Semitism. It’s part of social trends that we’re seeing and political trends we’re seeing toward minorities, toward multiple groups. You can see it in Russia. You can see it in Turkey. It’s really a global phenomenon. And the ADL has to look at it holistically, and see where we can be most helpful to those who need us.

JJ: Do you include America in that global trend of rising hatred?

SN: Charlottesville was definitely a wake-up call for all of us. I think ADL was already at the forefront of that, and it was probably no surprise to most of the professionals here at ADL.

I was glued to the television like the rest of us with horror and shock and dismay. I definitely don’t think we can sit back passively and think this is a blip. The vigilance that ADL brings to these global trends is exactly why I joined it.

JJ: The ADL has been vocal in its criticism of President Donald Trump. What do you say to those who feel it has become a partisan group?

SN: ADL’s hundred-year history speaks for the fact that it has always been nonpartisan and it has always spoken for groups who need protection. I won’t say more than that since it’s still Day One, but I think ADL’s actions speak for themselves. And those kind of criticisms, I would reject them.

JJ: How do you think your upbringing as a Jew in Iran affects your outlook at ADL?

SN: ADL’s mission is to protect minorities, and having been a minority in a Muslim majority country, hopefully that will inform me and the shape I give to our international affairs. I’ve spent a lot of time since then immersed in the Muslim world and the Arab world in my travels, in fact-finding missions. I traveled to Afghanistan, to Kabul, as a guest of the Department of Defense, and spending time there, looking at how our forces were helping train Afghani police, and the cultural barriers that existed. The fact that I could speak to the Afghani troops in Farsi — it was very fascinating.

JJ: Part of ADL’s mission is to support Israel, but it recently put out a statement criticizing the Israeli government’s rejection of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. When is it appropriate for ADL to criticize Israel?

SN: Israel obviously has a very special place in ADL’s heart and mind and our activities, and we protect Israel’s image around the world. When it comes down to specific policies, we will speak to ADL’s mission and priority and we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis. It is never our intention to distance ourselves from Israel. Our intention is to be a consistent voice for the mission of ADL, and that will take us where it takes us.

JJ: On the subject of Israel, where do you fall on the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Can you be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic?

SN: For example, when the UC Regents passed the Statement of Principles Against Intolerance for the first time, I think, it nationally introduced the concept of some forms of anti-Zionist speech being anti-Semitic. That was a very important moment for us. I was thrilled as a leader of the Jewish community of Los Angeles that the UC took the stance that they took.

Often anti-Zionist speech and behavior is a cover for anti-Semitism. I am a political scientist and I do believe that we have to be nuanced about these matters to make sure that we don’t curtail free speech, that we don’t curtail criticism of policy.

There is a possibility of being very critical of Israeli policy without being an anti-Israeli. But to be a pure anti-Zionist — no, on that I would say it is a cover for anti-Semitism.

JJ: During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran. Is the Iran deal on your radar as you start your new job?

SN: Iran is very much on our radar, whether the deal itself is or is not. What I’ll be more interested in is how Iran is treating its own minorities and its own vulnerable groups. I’ll be watching very closely as a former minority in Iran and now as a senior person at ADL who really cares about how vulnerable groups are treated everywhere in the world.

White supremacist group launches campus recruitment effort, says ADL

Nathan Damigo, founder of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa speaking to media in Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 14. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A group that took part in the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is embarking on a yearlong recruitment campaign on college campuses, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Identity Evropa, a group founded last year that seeks to promote “white American culture,” is engaging in a campaign called “Project Siege,” which involves posting fliers and posters on campuses promoting its goals. The ADL, which  tracked a rise last school year in white supremacist activity on college campuses, has documented 12 campuses where the group has advertised in the new school year.

Identity Evropa led chants of  “You will not replace us” at the Charlottesville rally last month, which some rally-goers then paired with “Jews will not replace us.” Fear of “replacement” by immigrants is a major theme of European nativist movements. Identity Evropa supports a policy of “remigration” of immigrants out of the United States, and does not allow Jews as members.

In August, its members disrupted a pro-immigration forum at Miami-Dade College. During the 2016-2017 school year, the ADL reported 65 incidents of Identity Evropa materials on American college campuses.

“Identity Evropa is actively targeting campuses and their actions are extremely disruptive and unsettling to students,” said ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt. “The message is explicitly racist and anti-Semitic. They know they’re going to get a reaction when they show up on campus. Fortunately their message is near-universally rejected by students and faculty.

Sharon Nazarian tapped to lead international affairs for ADL

Sharon Nazarian

Sharon Nazarian, the founder of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, will lead the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) fight against anti-Semitism abroad as the head of its International Affairs Division.

The ADL announced Sept. 6 that it had hired Nazarian as its senior vice president for international affairs.

“Sharon’s depth and breadth of experience in academia, philanthropy, policy and international affairs makes her the perfect fit to lead ADL’s international efforts,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in an emailed statement. “She brings a level of expertise and perspective that is extraordinary.”

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Nazarian holds a doctorate in political science from USC. She is the daughter of Younes Nazarian, who built the family’s fortune as an early investor in the telecommunications company Qualcomm and is president of the family’s charitable foundation.

The appointment comes as ADL has reported an increase in anti-Semitism in the United States but simultaneously has seen a fundraising surge.

“Today, it’s clear that ADL is needed more than ever — both in the United States and abroad — to stand up against hate and bigotry, and to lead efforts that strengthen collaboration and inclusion worldwide,” Nazarian said in the emailed statement. “I’m thrilled to join ADL and help build on the great work that has been accomplished so far.”

Gene Block, chancellor of UCLA, where Nazarian holds an appointment as an adjunct professor of political science, also lauded the ADL’s choice, saying, “She is a smart, energetic and compassionate person, and I am very pleased that she will now be sharing her talents with ADL.”

Working from the ADL’s Century City office, Nazarian will oversee a staff spread across Washington, D.C., New York and Israel

Jewish groups attack Trump’s DACA decision as immoral

Demonstrators protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Sept. 5. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

An array of Jewish groups and lawmakers attacked as immoral President Donald Trump’s move to end an Obama-era program granting protections to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

The Trump administration said Sept. 5 that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. President Barack Obama had launched DACA in 2011 after multiple attempts failed in Congress to pass an immigration bill that would settle the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants. The program protected those who arrived as children from deportation and granted them limited legal status.

In statements, Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the principal objection to Obama’s so-called Dreamers program was that it was unconstitutional because it was established by an executive order, and indicated that Trump was ready to sign any congressional legislation that would accommodate the “Dreamers.” It was unclear what would happen in the meantime or, should Congress not pass legislation, what would happen to the 800,000 people who have sought and received DACA’s protections.

Trump, in a statement, said his hand was forced by attorneys general from conservative states who plan to sue to kill DACA.

“The attorney general of the United States, the attorneys general of many states and virtually all other top legal experts have advised that the program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court,” he said.

Republican leaders in Congress have expressed a willingness to pass the legislation necessary to protect the affected immigrants, but Jewish groups and lawmakers said ending the program presented immoral perils, given the failures of Congress in the past to agree on comprehensive immigration reform.

“DACA recognized these individuals for who they are: Americans in everything but paperwork,” Melanie Nezer, the vice president for public affairs of HIAS, a major Jewish immigrant advocacy group. “Their hopes and dreams are no different from kids who are born here, and there is no legitimate reason for inflicting this needless suffering on them and their families.”

The Reform movement called the action “morally misguided” and demanded that Congress act to redress the rescission.

“It is imperative that Congress step up in support of these young people who grew up in the United States and who want to give back to the only country they know as home,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who directs the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center. “We call on Congress to protect DACA recipients from deportation by immediately passing a clean bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 — and on the president to support it.”

Richard Foltin, the American Jewish Committee’s director of government affairs, called the decision “devastating,” and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was one of “a long list of actions and policies by this administration that have deeply hurt immigrants and their families.” The ADL noted the pardoning last month of Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff who had been convicted of discriminatory practices against Latinos, and the threat to withdraw funding from cities offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

Other Jewish organizations condemning the decision included Bend the Arc, J Street, the National Council of Jewish Women, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, the Shalom Center and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. Bend the Arc listed rallies across the country it would join to oppose the decision.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy, said it “strongly opposed” the decision and called on Congress to act to protect the “Dreamers.”

“The Jewish community has a long history of active engagement in the struggles of new immigrants and in development of our nation’s immigration policy,” it said. “We believe that Congress must enact a permanent solution and we call on lawmakers to act immediately to protect immigrant youth by passing the ‘Dream Act of 2017,’ bipartisan legislation that would replace fear and uncertainty with permanent protection.”

Jewish Democrats also slammed the decision.

“Terminating #DACA now puts 800,000 talented young #DREAMers who love, contribute to, and live in America officially at risk of deportation,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Engel’s counterpart on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision was “clearly written with little thought of the human consequences.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the decision “cruel and arbitrary.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, in a long and anguished statement, said he supported Trump’s decision but added that he would work to pass legislation to protect the undocumented immigrants.

“I am very much willing to work with any of my colleagues on either side of the aisle on this issue and others to find common ground however possible,” he said. “Working together productively and substantively, I am hugely confident that long overdue progress can absolutely be achieved at least in part to move the needle more in the right direction.”

Dreamers and their supporters on the night of Sept. 4 held a candlelight vigil outside the home of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the daughter and son-in-law of the president. The couple, who both serve as advisers to the president, reportedly advocated for continuing DACA.

Moving & Shaking: ‘Judd Apatow and Friends’ support the ADL, Honeymoon Israel receives grant and more

From left: Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director Amanda Susskind, film director Judd Apatow and comedians Natasha Leggero, Wayne Federman and Neal Brennan appeared Aug. 24 at Largo at the Coronet in support of the ADL. Apatow organized the event, titled “Judd Apatow and Friends.” Photo by Tyler Ross

Hollywood writer, producer and director Judd Apatow organized an evening of comedy called “Judd Apatow and Friends” in support of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Aug. 24 at Largo at the Coronet in Beverly Grove.

Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up”) was joined by comedians Natasha Leggero (“Chelsea Lately”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Neal Brennan (“Chappelle’s Show”) and Jerrod Carmichael (“The Carmichael Show”).

Apatow said he was inspired to organize the performance in response to the Aug. 11-12 white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., that included anti-Semitic chants, acts of intimidation against local Jews, neo-Nazi demonstrations and the death of woman who was a counterprotester.

Apatow, who is Jewish, publicized the event on Twitter, where he has been active in criticizing the administration of President Donald Trump.

During the event, Apatow “touched on several ADL areas of concern, including anti-Semitism, women’s rights, racism and immigration reform,” the ADL said in a statement.

ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind also spoke at the event and discussed “ADL’s role in monitoring and exposing extremist and hate groups, and protecting civil rights in America,” the ADL said.

The sold-out event raised $8,700 in support of the ADL, which fights anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in the United States.

In addition, in a current online campaign, Apatow has pledged to match contributions of up to $10,000 to the ADL’s national office.


Whitney Kirk and Lindsey Arnold were participants on the September 2016 Honeymoon Israel Los Angeles trip. Photo courtesy of Honeymoon Israel

 

Honeymoon Israel, a national Jewish organization that subsidizes newly married couples with at least one Jewish partner to take part in group trips to Israel, recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. Some of the grant money will help pay for Honeymoon Israel’s overall operations, while part will go toward the $600,000 invested in its local branch, said Michael D. Wise, co-CEO of Honeymoon Israel.

The 2-year-old organization works to help new couples build connections to local Jewish communities and encourages them to experience a deeper sense of Judaism by visiting Israel with other local couples.

“Seeing, touching and feeling Israel together as a newly married interfaith couple was a profound experience,” Diana and Karen Lovati, a couple from Los Angeles, said in a statement.

Whitney Kirk and her wife, Lindsey Arnold, of Playa del Rey, took Honeymoon Israel’s third trip, which left from Los Angeles in September 2016.

“Honeymoon Israel allowed my wife and me the opportunity to visit and experience the wonders of Israel as a couple, without the fear of being judged as a married, interfaith, lesbian couple,” Kirk said. “Before Honeymoon Israel, we were looking for a local Jewish community, and a year later, not only do we still stay in touch and spend time with the couples and staff we met on the trip, but our community continues to grow through couple-hosted events.”

In a statement, Barry Finestone, president and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation, said the future looks bright for Honeymoon Israel, which continues to grow and expand to more cities.

“The foundation is excited,” Finestone said, “to engage even more couples from a range of backgrounds in this powerful experience.”

— Julie Bien, Contributing Writer


The Valley Jewish Community Center boys 16-and-under soccer team won the gold medal at the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games. Photo courtesy of Lori Larcara

 

The Valley Jewish Community Center’s boys soccer team for players age 16 and under took the gold medal at the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games in Albany, N.Y., which were held Aug. 6-11.

The team dedicated its victory to the memory of Dr. David Fett, whose son played on the team eight years ago. Fett, an ophthalmologist who also was a supporter of the Valley JCC, died a few days before the tournament began.

Lori Larcara, mother of Jake Larcara, one of the Valley JCC players, said the team was proud to be playing in Fett’s honor.

“They never lost sight of their goal and the task at hand,” she said. “More importantly, they never forgot that this tournament was for them and Dr. Fett.”

The other team members were Amit Bitton, Ori Bitton, Tal Bitton, Yoav Cohen, Evan Davila, Edan Klier, Mikey Levy, David Luner, Dor Moskowitz, Benjamin Newman and Harel Spivak. The team was coached by Oren Diamant.

Larcara credited the support that all of the Valley JCC’s soccer teams have received from Shay Diamant, Philip Benditson and Kobi Koren, who has been coaching local JCC Maccabi teams for 25 years.

“These gentlemen volunteer their time, compassion and commitment and bring in donations of approximately $20,000 to help cover costs and offer financial aid,” Larcara said in an email.

The JCC Maccabi Games, held each summer in North America, also had competitions in Birmingham, Ala., from July 30 to Aug. 4, and Miami, from Aug. 6-11.


Pesach (Paul) Nisenbaum and his wife, Lida Baker, were among several people from Los Angeles who made aliyah to Israel in August thanks to the nonprofit Nefesh B’Nefesh organization. Photo courtesy of Pesach (Paul) Nisenbaum

 

Several people from Los Angeles made aliyah to Israel in August thanks to the nonprofit Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) organization.

Founded in 2001, NBN works with numerous agencies — including the Jewish Agency for Israel, Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption, and the Jewish National Fund-USA — to facilitate emigration from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. In 2016, the organization surpassed bringing its 50,000th oleh (immigrant) to Israel.

Los Angeles-area residents who made aliyah in August included Pesach (Paul) Nisenbaum and his wife, Lida Baker; Carey Fried, Sara Chana Morrow, Rivka Grob, Yehuda Frischman and Robin Silver-Zwiren.

Nisenbaum, 66, a retired special education teacher, said the recent death of his mother, Faye Franks Nisenbaum Gelb, led him to decide it was the right time to fulfill a longtime dream of immigrating to Israel.

“We have been to Israel many times, over decades,” he said in an email. “I have been waiting to make aliyah for decades.”


Marty Adelstein, CEO of Tomorrow Studios and an advisory board member of Creative Community for Peace Photo courtesy of Creative Community for Peace

Marty Adelstein, CEO of Tomorrow Studios, has joined the advisory board of the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), the organization announced on Aug. 21.

CCFP is composed of prominent members of the entertainment industry who promote the arts as a means to achieve peace, support artistic freedom and counter the cultural boycott of Israel. In August, the organization supported British rock band Radiohead’s decision to perform in Israel, despite the protests of some musicians, including former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, who called on Radiohead to cancel its performance.

Adelstein’s career spans 25 years as an agent, manager and feature film and television producer. Other entertainment industry professionals involved in CCFP include Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency; Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group; and Rick Krim, West Coast president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

“[Their] success and wide-ranging relationships will help us in our mission to promote the arts as a means to peace, defend artistic freedom, and counter the attempted cultural boycott of Israel,” CCFP said in a statement.

Moving & Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com.

Hateful rhetoric unleashed against Santa Monica community group

Screenshot from YouTube

A Santa Monica community group focused on addressing racial inequality has been targeted in recent months by increasing numbers of individuals espousing racist and anti-Semetic rhetoric.

The issues began in July, when a workshop titled “White Privilege and What We Can Do About It,” organized by the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice, at the Virginia Avenue Park community center was interrupted by five people. Video shows those five — three of whom kept their faces covered with bandanas — making hate-filled comments during the meeting.

A month later, there were about 50 such people, committee organizers said. Video footage compiled by local blogger Clay Claiborne, who attended the event, shows the outsiders arguing with and taunting meeting-goers outside of the community center. Later, they are shown trying to force their way into the meeting and being blocked, first by the attendees and then by police.

“It was scary,” said Claiborne, who said the attendees had to leave the community center through the back door at the end of the event because they felt threatened. “When have I ever left a meeting in Santa Monica and worried about, ‘Is somebody going to tail me?’ or ‘Is somebody going to assault me on the way to the car?’ In Santa Monica!”

The committee’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 10. It will focus on raising racially conscious children.

The Committee for Racial Justice formed six years ago. The Rev. Janet McKeithen, a member of the steering committee, said the group was created by members of the Church in Ocean Park, an interfaith congregation in Santa Monica. Since then, it’s expanded to include community members from outside the church who come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths, she said.

Today, the committee holds monthly workshops at the Virginia Avenue Park community center. Workshops, which typically draw about 50 people, focus on educating the community about racism and devising ways to address it in the education and criminal justice systems, she said.

The city of Santa Monica allows the committee to use the community center free of charge but does not provide any funding. Workshops are open to the public, McKeithen said.

McKeithen said she was shocked when she heard about the recent hate-related incident at the July meeting, which she did not attend. She said the committee has been holding workshops peacefully since it formed and had not faced similar incidents. McKeithen did go to the August meeting, where she said individuals were hurling racist and anti-Jewish slurs and pushing into people to try to aggravate them.

In a recording of a meeting, one person, whose face is covered with a bandana, holds up a sign saying, “DA GOYIM KNO,” which, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), is a phrase used among white supremacists imagining the supposed reaction of Jews when non-Jewish people realize Jews rule the world.

“They were very, very anti-Semitic and very, very racist,” McKeithen said. “They’re trying to provoke, they’re trying to incite, and they all have a video camera connected to their arm. … They edit the videos to make us look like we’re completely crazy.”

According to reports by the Santa Monica Mirror, those attending the meeting included people working for the Red Elephants, which operates an online news site and bills itself as “an organization of like-minded conservatives that have come together to spread awareness and truth.”

According to Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher with the ADL, Red Elephants co-founder Vincent James is a known alt-right sympathizer who has interviewed and given a platform to white nationalists such as Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. James offered commentary regarding a Committee for Racial Justice meeting in a video of the events posted on the Red Elephants’ website. In the commentary, James echoes remarks by individuals at the meeting that Jewish people are not really white and claims the committee workshops are organized by “a bunch of rich Jewish people from Brentwood.”

 

Members of another group called the Beach Goys tried to enter the meeting in August, according to the Santa Monica Mirror. Mendelson said this group, and others who attended the meeting, all are loosely affiliated and espouse the same rhetoric.

They “paint themselves as victims of an anti-white narrative of which they place blame of perpetuating these beliefs on Jews,” she said.

Responding to an email inquiry to the Red Elephants from the Journal, a person identified as Vincent Foxx tried to distance the group from the protesters shown in the videos.

“We are media. Like Rebel Media or Infowars. We have reporters across country that report on different things. We have broken many stories. We have nothing to do with protesters that show up,” he wrote. “ We film and cover wherever there is controversial occurrences. … We are not objective journalists by any means. We are considered advocacy journalists.” 

A group on Twitter called the SoCal Beach Goys, which describes itself on the social media platform as “SoCal’s largest and most active alt-right, WN [white nationalist] fraternity,” did not respond immediately to a request for information.

McKeithen said the steering committee has spoken with the Santa Monica police department and city officials to prepare for the group’s upcoming meeting, and brought in experts to provide “nonviolent de-escalation” trainings. McKeithen said many meeting attendees have been deeply affected by the recent incidents.

“It’s traumatizing for many people,” she said. ‘Its hard to see that kind of hate. …When it’s right there in your face and you try to stop it and it doesn’t stop, it’s really difficult.”

Robbie Jones, who also is on the steering committee, said she wants city officials to do more to stand up against racism and assure community members they are safe.

“It’s a threat. It’s like terrorism,” she said. “They’re coming and trying to tear the city apart.” n

ADL gives Jewish organizations security tips for High Holy Days

Pacific Jewish Center (PJC) in Venice Beach. Photo from Wikipedia

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) officials say they are not aware of any specific threats targeting Los Angeles Jewish communities in advance of the High Holy Days. Nevertheless, they are helping synagogues and Jewish institutions create safe, secure and welcoming environments so that congregants can pray with peace of mind.

The ADL regional office in Century City, as it does every year, held a security briefing on Aug. 22 at which ADL and FBI experts discussed how to respond to bomb threats and make risk assessments. The briefing, attended by representatives of about 50 local Jewish organizations, was closed to the press.

One person who attended the briefing, Lisabeth Lobenthal, executive director at University Synagogue, a Reform community in Brentwood, said in a phone interview that her community faces security issues not only on each of the High Holy Days, which draw 1,000 people, but throughout the year.

In June, Lobenthal said, she called the police when her synagogue received a threatening email. At the time, bomb threats had been called into the Westside Jewish Community Center and other Jewish centers in Southern California, so University Synagogue was not taking any chances.

“We knew it wasn’t real, but given the specific language, which was pretty horrific, we took it seriously,” she told the Journal. Her response followed U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommendations, which were also outlined in materials the ADL made available to attendees of the security briefing.

“Bomb threats are serious until proven otherwise,” the ADL says in an advisory on its website.

The ADL said Jewish community centers and other organizations in 38 states and three Canadian provinces were threatened 167 times from January to March of this year.

The annual High Holy Days briefing draws representatives from synagogues, social service organizations and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which operates the Community Security Initiative outreach program.

The ADL said its speakers emphasize that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to security, but they share steps that all organizations can take to be better prepared for anything that might happen.

Joanne Feldman, executive director of the Pacific Jewish Center (PJC) in Venice Beach, said the advice is especially critical for congregations like hers, which is also known as Shul on the Beach. PJC, a Modern Orthodox shul expecting about 100 people on each of the holidays, is located on the Venice Beach boardwalk. People of all backgrounds pass by it every day.

It’s like “having a synagogue in the middle of Times Square,” Feldman said, “with all that heavy traffic going by nonstop, with wonderful people and crazy people.”

She recalled an anti-hate demonstration on the boardwalk, organized on a Saturday after the recent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va. The PJC community was attending Shabbat services and feared that something could happen at the shul.

“We secured the doors to the shul, locked the doors to the shul and the door to the women’s section until they passed by, just to be preventative,” Feldman said.

Elise Jarvis, the ADL’s associate director for law enforcement outreach and community security, said additional vigilance in this post-Charlottesville period would serve communities well during the High Holy Days.

“We want to take security into consideration in our everyday operations and be thinking about security 24/7 and have a culture of security all the time,” Jarvis said. “This year in particular, now after what we saw happening in Charlottesville and the fact that we see white supremacists feeling emboldened, all those security measures are all the more important.”

One practical step Jewish institutions can take is maintaining a close relationship with local law enforcement.

“It’s very important to know who to go to if we are targeted or threatened, so [law enforcement] can respond as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Jarvis said.

The ADL often helps connect Jewish organizations without law enforcement contacts to police officials. It also provides security resources on its website, including guides titled “Protecting Your Jewish Institution: Security Strategies for Today’s Dangerous World” and “Security Recommendations for the High Holidays.” The materials focus on how to create both a secure environment and a welcoming place for people to observe the holiest days of the year, two goals that are not necessarily in conflict, Jarvis said.

“A secure environment — a safe environment — is a welcoming environment,” she said.  n

Jay-Z defends lyric called anti-Semitic: ‘Context is everything’

Jay-Z at Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles, July 13, 2017. Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

Jay-Z defended his decision to include a lyric in a song on his latest album that has been called anti-Semitic, saying he exaggerated images of black people in the same song.

The rapper was discussing his song “The Story of O.J,” which appears on his “4:44” album, during an interview with the Rap Radar podcast last week.

The song lyric says: “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit / You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This is how they did it.”

Following the release of the album, the Anti-Defamation League expressed concern about the lyric, but emphasized it did not believe Jay-Z intended to promote anti-Semitism. The ADL said that “we know that Jay-Z is someone who has used his celebrity in the past to speak out responsibly and forcefully against the evils of racism and anti-Semitism.”

In his podcast interview with hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian “B. Dot” Miller, the rapper said of the accusations: “It’s hard for me to take that serious because I’ve exaggerated every black image in the world.” He added, referencing the song’s music video, “If even you, as the Jewish community, if you don’t have a problem with the exaggerations of the guy eating watermelon and all the things that was happening, if you don’t have a problem with that, and that’s the only line you pick out, then you are being a hypocrite.

“Of course I know Jewish people don’t own all the property in America. I mean, I own things! So I know that they don’t own all of the property in America. It was an exaggeration.”

He added that “context is everything,” explaining further, “I pretty much said, ‘If you want to be good at property and things like that, follow this pattern.’ It’s almost like saying, ‘Kobe Bryant shot a lot of shots. If you want to be good at basketball, practice your thousand shots and do what he did.’ And then Kobe Bryant comes out and says, ‘Whatchu trying to say, all black people play basketball?’ That’s how ridiculous it is. … C’mon, you know I didn’t say that. Context is everything.”

The ADL said in its statement released last month, “The idea that Jews ‘own all the property’ in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish ‘control’ of the banks and finance.”

Antifa, Nazism and the opportunistic politics that divide us

White supremacists clash with counter protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Americans are more united than ever on issues of race and free speech.

So why the hell are we so divided?

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist terror attack on anti-white supremacist protesters, the vast majority of Americans agreed on the following propositions: white supremacism is evil; neo-Nazism is evil; violence against peaceful protesters is evil, whether from left to right or vice versa.

Yet here we are, two weeks after the event, and the heat has not cooled.

That’s not thanks to serious disagreements among Americans. It’s thanks to political opportunism on all sides.

It’s easy to blame President Donald Trump for that reaction; his response to the Charlottesville attack was indeed deeply disturbing. It was disturbing for the president to initially blame “both sides” for the event, as though those counterprotesting white supremacism were moral equals of those protesting in its favor. It was more disturbing for the president to say there were “very fine people” at the neo-Nazi tiki torch march, and to add that he had no idea what the “alt-right” was.

Trump’s bizarre, horrifying response to the Charlottesville attacks would have justified criticism of him. I’ve been personally pointing out the president’s stubborn and unjustifiable unwillingness to condemn the alt-right for well over a year (I was the alt-right’s top journalistic target in 2016 on Twitter, according to the Anti-Defamation League). Such critiques would have been useful and welcome.

Instead, the mainstream left has politicized the situation through two particular strategies: first, labeling conservatives more broadly as neo-Nazi sympathizers; second, justifying violence from communist/anarchist antifa members.

The first strategy is old hat by now on the left. On college campuses, conservatives are regularly labeled beneficiaries of “white privilege” who merely seek to uphold their supremacy; anodyne political candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have been hit with charges of racism from the left. Democrats routinely dog Republicans with the myth of the “Southern switch” — the notion that the Republicans and Democrats changed positions on civil rights after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, leading to Republicans winning the South. (For the record, that theory is eminently untrue, and has been repeatedly debunked by election analysts ranging from Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics to Byron Shafer of the University of Wisconsin and Richard Johnston of theUniversity of Pennsylvania.)

But that false conflation found a new outlet for the left in support for antifa (anti-fascism). Antifa is a violent group that has attacked protesters in Sacramento, Berkeley, Dallas, Boston and Charlottesville; it’s dedicated to the proposition that those it labels fascists must be fought physically. It’s not anti-fascist so much as anti-right-wing — it shut down a parade in Portland last year because Republican Party members were scheduled to march in that parade. Antifa’s violence in Boston two weeks after Charlottesville wasn’t directed at Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, but at police officers and normal free-speech advocates.

Yet many on the left have justified their behavior as a necessary counter to the white supremacists and alt-righters. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) justified the violence by appealing to the evils of the neo-Nazis. Professor N.D.B. Connolly of Johns Hopkins University wrote in the pages of The Washington Post that the time for nonviolence had ended — that it was time to “throw rocks.” Dartmouth University historian Mark Bray defended antifa by stating that the group makes an “ethically consistent, historically informed argument for fighting Nazis before it’s too late.”

This is appalling stuff unless the Nazis are actually getting violent. Words aren’t violence. A free society relies on that distinction to function properly — as Max Weber stated, the purpose of civilization is to hand over the role of protection of rights to a state that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Breaking that pact destroys the social fabric.

Now, most liberals — as opposed to leftists — don’t support antifa. Even Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced antifa’s tactics in Berkeley, for example. But in response to some on the left’s defense of antifa and their attempt to broaden the Nazi label to include large swaths of conservatives, too many people on the right have fallen into the trap of defending bad behavior of its own. Instead of disassociating clearly and universally from President Trump’s comments, the right has glommed onto the grain of truth embedded in them —  that antifa is violent — in order to shrug at the whole.

The result of all of this: the unanimity that existed regarding racism and violence has been shattered. And all so that political figures can make hay by castigating large groups of people who hate Nazism and violence.

Let’s restore the unanimity. Nazism is bad and unjustifiable. Violence against those who are not acting violently is bad and unjustifiable. That’s not whataboutism. That’s truth.

If we can’t agree on those basic principles, we’re not going to be able to share a country.


BEN SHAPIRO is editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, host of the most listened-to conservative podcast in the nation, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and author of The New York Times best-seller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear Silences Americans.”

Survivors speak at The Last Bookstore, despite online harassment

Gabriella Karin holds up a visual aid while fellow Holocaust survivor Robert Geminder speaks at the Last Bookstore on Aug. 19. Photo by Eitan Arom

Despite online harassment by an alt-right provocateur, two Holocaust survivors told their stories of triumph over evil, as planned, to a standing-room-only crowd at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 19.

The appearance by Robert Geminder and Gabriella Karin came 11 days after a person who writes under the name “Johnny Benitez” posted a Facebook link for the event with the tagline: “Who wants to bet money this is another white guilt push. Lesson 1: white people are bad and it’s good they’re an ever increasing minority.”

After the event’s organizer, Jennifer Brack, told Benitez he was not welcome, Benitez — whose real name is Juan Cadavid, according to a report by the OC Weekly — posted a video encouraging his followers to attend the event.

At the advice of the Anti-Defamation League, Brack hired a pair of armed guards and proceeded with the event, the third in a series called “Lessons of the Past,” survivor speaker engagements organized by Brack with the help of the American Society for Yad Vashem.

The audience of about 300 people, who sat on folding chairs and the floor, was attentive, respectful and engaged. And after Geminder and Karin spoke, a long line formed with well-wishers who praised their eloquence and courage.

“People more than ever these days want to hear survivors,” Karin told the Journal before she spoke. “They want reassurance that people will go out and speak in spite of the threats.”

Karin, 86, and Geminder, 82, are a couple. They began dating in 2015 after both had lost their spouses to illness years before. They briefly wondered how they should proceed with the speaking event after they learned about the harassment, but they never gave a second thought to pulling out.

“I’m not afraid,” Karin said. “Maybe because of what we went through, nothing makes me afraid.”

Even so, she and Geminder were perturbed with the harassment, which came a week after white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va. — one of the largest such demonstrations in a decade, according to the ADL.

“When we see a Nazi flag like we saw over the weekend in Charlottesville, it just tears us apart,” Geminder said.

Both survivors tell their stories around the world, and neither has experienced any kind of harassment, online or otherwise, before the posts from Benitez.

At the event, as they have done hundreds of times before, the two carefully told the stories of their experiences and shared the lessons they have drawn from them.

Geminder was born in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1935. He saw as many as 14,000 Jews massacred at the cemetery in Stanislawow but managed to survive, he said, by pure luck. He and his brother, mother and stepfather were in Warsaw when the Warsaw Uprising was quelled. The Nazis put them in a cattle car on a train headed to the Auschwitz concentration camp, but the family was able to escape through an opening in the roof of the car within a hundred yards of the camp.

Karin was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1930, and spent the Holocaust in hiding, successfully sheltered by her mother’s underground contacts and the help of a righteous gentile named Karol Blanar.

Neither survivor mentioned Benitez’s harassment at the bookstore event.

“I don’t want to make anyone else aware of the negatives,” Geminder said. “I want to focus on the positives.”

Meanwhile, as Geminder and Karin were speaking, Benitez was at a Laguna Beach event he organized called “America First! Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees,” according to his posts on Facebook.

Benitez, whose recent web exploits included posting a manipulated photo that made it appear the Jewish mayor of Laguna Beach was wearing a Nazi uniform, has long been on the radar of Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher at the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

Benitez does not have a history of violence, but some groups who show up to his rallies, including skinheads and antigovernment extremists, do, she said.

In the video Benitez posted about the survivors’ event, a framed photograph of various guns is visible in the background as he talks about how the L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is involved in a Jewish conspiracy to use the Holocaust to antagonize white people.

“Why is it so concurrent that the anti-white narrative and the anti-Trump narrative is so closely tied to these events that push the Holocaust and white privilege and white guilt?” he says in the video, which he streamed live simultaneously on Facebook and the social media site Periscope.

Mendelson, who has followed Benitez’s rising profile within the alt-right, said he has a “fixation with Jews” that borders on Holocaust denial. After he posted the video, in which he holds up an iPad with Brack’s Facebook profile on it, the ADL encouraged her to take basic precautions such as contacting law enforcement.

“Although no direct threats of violence were made against the organizer, we still wanted to make sure that law enforcement were in the loop and to help safeguard this gathering,” Mendelson said. “It is a sad state of affairs when individuals who have been traumatized by the Holocaust are in some ways revictimized by anti-Semitic and hateful racist thought leaders.”

Contacted via Facebook Messenger, Benitez told the Journal he wanted his followers to “observe and report the narrative” from the bookstore event. He said he first learned about the event through a Facebook ad.

Asked if he denied the Holocaust or questioned its magnitude, Benitez was evasive.

“I don’t address the holocaust. I view any attempt to lure people into discussions about it to be Red Herrings,” he wrote, not acknowledging the fact that he brought the Holocaust history event to the attention of his nearly 2,000 Facebook friends and followers.

At The Last Bookstore, during the question-and-answer period, audience members wanted to know how Geminder and Karin felt about the recent events in Charlottesville, where swastikas were abundant and men yelling “Sieg Heil” marched in front of a synagogue.

“It was a nightmare for us,” Geminder said. “I can imagine how every one of you must have felt. Imagine a hundredfold how survivors felt during this. When we came to America, we never expected to see that again. Never, never, never.”

Even with the recent news events, both Geminder, a retired electrical engineer and part-time math teacher, and Karin, an artist and former fashion designer, said they are avowed optimists.

Karin recounted for the audience the moment after World War II when she decided she would move on from the trauma of the Holocaust to have a full and active life. She was standing on the platform of a train station in her native Bratislava, now the capital of Slovakia, as emaciated Jewish refugees streamed into the city.

“I decided to myself, ‘Hitler did not get my body; he will not get my soul. I will smile. I will be happy,’ ” she told the audience. “And I am.”

ADL reports 1000% surge in online donations after Charlottesville rally

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share

The Anti-Defamation League received 10 times as much money as usual from online donations in response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The group, which combats anti-Semitism and bigotry, reported a 1000 percent increase in online donations during the week beginning Aug. 13, one day after the Charlottesville rally. The ADL said it received six times as many individual donations as during an average week this year, mostly from first-time donors, though it did not provide a total amount of money raised.

In the aftermath of the rally, the ADL has seen its profile skyrocket. It received $1 million donations from Apple and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch, and announced a partnership with Bumble, a dating app, to block bigoted profiles. JP Morgan Chase also announced this week that it would donate $500,000 to the group. JP Morgan and Apple also pledged to match donations to the ADL and other nonprofits from employees.

On Friday, the ADL announced a partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to combat hate and bigotry.

Bumble dating app joins forces with ADL to ‘ban all forms of hate’

Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Bumble

The popular dating app Bumble will work with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Technology and Society for “guidance on identifying all hate symbols.”

The app, which as of February had over 12 million users, announced the partnership Thursday on its website. In a statement, the company called on users to report others who displayed “hate symbols” in their profiles.

Bumble will use the ADL’s “research and terminology” to identify and categorize hate symbols.

Its statement also said the company was harassed last week by messages and phone calls from a group of neo-Nazis angry about Bumble’s “stance towards promoting women’s empowerment.”

Tinder co-founder Tiffany Wolfe started Bumble in December 2014. On Bumble, after a heterosexual match is made between users, only the female user can initiate a conversation.

Also Thursday, the dating app OkCupid said it banned a user who was identified as a “white supremacist.”

Daily Kickoff: James Murdoch pledges $1M to ADL | J.K. Rowling on Trump: ‘He actually did bring Mideast together’ | Meet the Miami Marlins’ new owners

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, speaking at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 19. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

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THE TRUMP EFFECT: “James Murdoch Pledges $1 Million to Anti-Defamation League as Trump Protest” by Maggie Haberman: “James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and the son of a frequent ally of President Trump’s, condemned the president’s performance after the violence in Charlottesville, Va… In an email on Thursday… Mr. Murdoch said that he and his wife, Kathryn, plan to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, urging others to follow suit. “We hardly ever talk about our charitable giving, but in this case I wanted to tell you and encourage you to be generous too. Many of you are supporters of the Anti-Defamation League already — now is a great time to give more,” he wrote.” [NYTimes

“It is all the more notable, however, because of Murdoch’s father’s relationship with the president. Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, speaks with the president several times a week… 21st Century Fox is also the parent company of Fox News, which has been aggressively pro-Trump on its most-watched shows. The younger Murdoch begins his letter by saying he was writing “in a personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father,” but he went on to highlight how his business had tried to contribute to a diverse and tolerant society.” [CNNMoney]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner face pressure to speak out on anti-Semitism” by David Smith: “The couple are practising Modern Orthodox Jews and have been able to separate expressions of their faith from their White House roles as advisers to the president. So far. “That’s the question swirling around the Jewish community since November 9,” said Rabbi Shira Stutman of the Sixth & I Historic synagogue in Washington. “It’s also the Jewish school they go to, it’s also the Jewish preschool they go to. The community has taken the tack of letting them be. Who knows if this is what will set people over the edge?”

“Since moving from New York, Ivanka and Jared have attended the TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital… Rabbi Levi Shemtov gave a speech before Ivanka and Jared first arrived, urging congregants to avoid political confrontations, and there have been no incidents… Shemtov himself declined to comment on Thursday. “Once someone steps over the threshold of our synagogue, I’d prefer to respect their privacy,” he said. Arnold Resnicoff, a rabbi and military veteran due to give a prayer at the opening of the pro-forma session of the House of Representatives on Friday, said he thought confrontations at the TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital were unlikely… “I think they would respect Jared and Ivanka and not put the sins of the father on them.” [TheGuardian]

“Billionaire Ally of Putin Socialized With Kushner, Ivanka Trump” by Stephanie Baker, Irina Reznik and  Katya Kazakina: “In 2014, the Kushners spent four days in Russia at the invitation of [Roman] Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. The couples sat at the same table along with a few other people during a high-powered fundraising dinner for Moscow’s Jewish Museum. Kushner also was invested in an online art business of which Zhukova is a founding partner. Ivanka Trump, Kushner and his brother, Joshua, have accompanied Zhukova to sporting events in the New York area… Kushner and Abramovich have never met one-on-one or alone with their wives, according to the person familiar with the situation… The dinner they attended with the Kushners attracted powerful Russian billionaires and leading businessmen. A spokesman for Abramovich said the billionaire hasn’t interacted with Kushner since then… This month, Abramovich and Zhukova announced they’re separating after 10 years.” [Bloomberg]

“PLO: ‘It’s now or never’ for Trump’s Mideast peace push” by Josh Rogin: “Jared Kushner’s trip to the Middle East next week will be a do-or-die moment in the Trump administration’s nascent Middle East peace process initiative, according to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s representative in Washington… “It’s now or never,” [Husam] Zomlot said. “This is the time and this is the opportunity … we are hanging on this opportunity … we want it to succeed.” … Ahead of the meetings, the PLO is laying out a public position for what it wants: specifically, that the Trump administration clearly and unequivocally endorse the two-state solution. He communicated that directly to [Jason] Greenblatt in a meeting at the White House earlier this week… Congress is moving forward with [the Taylor Force Act]… But that funding program is “nonnegotiable,” said Zomlot. “We are not going to get past it.””

“The White House is keeping expectations low ahead of Kushner’s trip… Kushner and his team are not likely to make any big announcements next week or give the Palestinians the clarity they are seeking on the way forward… On the greater question of whether a peace deal is even possible under the current conditions, Zomlot said all eyes are on Trump. “[Trump] thinks it is possible,” he said. “Even if it’s not, it’s good he thinks so.””[WashPost]

SCENE YESTERDAY: A senior Israeli security delegation led by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen met with the U.S. National Security team led by NSA H. R. McMaster at the White House. Other participants included Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, Dina Powell, Victoria Coates, Thomas Bossert, and Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer [Pic] McMaster and his wife Katie also hosted the U.S. and Israeli delegations at their home for dinner [Pic]

“J.K. Rowling Just Pointed Out One Surprising Result of Trump’s Remarks” by Raisa Bruner: “On Thursday, the Harry Potter author and prolific Twitter user shared a screen grab of a TV channel broadcast in which the chyron is nothing short of surprising: “Iran and Israel condemn Trump’s comments,” it reads. “Unbelievable. He actually did bring the Middle East together,” Rowling dryly commented on the image in her tweet… For the two nations to agree on something — in this case, Trump’s comments on the violent events in Charlottesville — is noteworthy.” [TIME]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Republican Sen. Bob Corker: Trump has not shown ‘competence’ needed to lead ” by Michael Collins: “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful — and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” the Tennessee Republican said at a Rotary Club meeting in Chattanooga. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he fears the nation will be in peril unless Trump makes radical changes at the White House… Corker, who often advises Trump on foreign policy, has at times been both supportive and critical of Trump.” [USAToday]

— Read Aaron Magid’s profile of Corker from earlier this week — Inside Senator Bob Corker’s Realist Doctrine: “Jared Kushner… told Jewish Insider in an emailed statement, “Senator Corker is a leading voice on some of the most serious issues facing our country and provides valuable guidance, advice and input both when he agrees and disagrees with us.”” [JewishInsider]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Rep Lee Zeldin on CNN’s New Day: “Speaking for myself for sure — I’m Jewish — I have zero tolerance whatsoever for any individual who associates themselves with KKK and Nazism… The President made statements that you can say are raw, rough around the edges, politically incorrect… There are parts of what the president said that you can say are factually inaccurate. There are other parts that are hard truths. But as far as the factually inaccurate piece, I don’t know of anyone who would be there, who would associate themselves with that particular protest, who are good people.”

Trump’s relationship with the RJC becomes more complicated — by Matthew Nussbaum: “Matt Brooks, executive director of the RJC, would not say whether members plan any further steps to warn the president… Brooks also would not disclose any conversations with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who sits on the RJC’s board but has not personally weighed in. Still, some Republican strategists are nervous about turning off a group that regularly votes, raises money and donates to candidates. “Getting this right is life and death for the Republican Party,” said Rick Tyler, a Trump critic and former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz, who aggressively courted Republican Jews in his own 2016 presidential bid. “The Republican Jewish community provides a lot of support for the Republican Party, particularly financial support.”

“Fred Zeidman, a member of the RJC board of directors and a former George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, praised his group’s leadership for taking a stand… “We know the issues that evolve from remaining silent, and we can’t remain silent,” he told Politico on Thursday. “We know what happens when we remain silent.”” [Politico

— “World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder, who has been one of Trump’s most prominent defenders, declined to comment through a spokesman.” [AP]

A Lauder spokesman tells us… “Mr. Lauder believes that President Trump should and will continue to condemn all racist and bigoted groups.”

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Steve Bannon Detonates His Trump Survival Plan, Worrying Allies” by Adrian Carrasquillo: “Bannon, an ally said, was very angry that Cohn was telling the press about how uncomfortable he was with Trump’s Tuesday comments. “Bannon felt it was the opposite, he thought it was great,” the source relayed… Bannon’s lack of powerful allies was evident after a public feud with Jared Kushner in the spring. The former Breitbart mogul… told people behind Kushner’s back that “hopefully Jared will go down in things pertaining to Russia,” or real estate holdings… Were Bannon to go, with Kushner, Cohn, and McMaster ascendant, the first Bannon ally put it more simply. “Would we even be a movement anymore?”” [BuzzFeed

POLLING: “American voters say 59 – 32 percent that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump should not continue to work in the White House. Republicans say 62 – 26 percent the First Family should remain, but every other group says no.” [Quinnipiac]

An Open Letter to Steve Mnuchin From Members of the Yale College Class of 1985: “We can be Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and a number of other things and still be friends, classmates, and patriots, but we cannot be Nazis and white supremacists… We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy.” [Letter]

EXODUS DAY 3: “Trump Abandons Plan for Council on Infrastructure” by Mark Niquette: “President Donald Trump will not move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure… Trump had tapped New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, whom he described as friends, to lead the infrastructure panel, which he established by an executive order on July 19. But he had not announced any formal appointments to it.” [Bloomberg] • Members of White House presidential arts commission resign to protest Trump’s comments [WashPost]

“Three fundraising giants cancel plans for galas at Mar-a-Lago” by Drew Harwell and David Fahrenthold: “The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which raises money for Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, also said it would not hold its 2018 gala at the club ‘after considerable deliberation,’ though it did not give a reason. The charity had one of Mar-a-Lago’s biggest events last season, with about 600 people in attendance.” [WashPostAP]

“Ernst & Young Chairman on Advising Trump: A Balancing Act” by Michael Rapoport: “In an internal memo sent to EY employees late Wednesday, Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger said that “as much as I believe in engagement and dialogue,” it was “appropriate” for him and other CEOs to disband the Strategic and Policy Forum on which they had served… He added that “I was also disappointed by President Trump’s reaction to these events. I believe leaders should unite rather than divide people.”” [WSJ]

THE OTHER SIDE: “The Left’s Blind Spot: Anti-Semitism” by Phoebe Maltz Bovy: “And yet, despite this preponderance of evidence, there was a certain silence surrounding anti-Semitism over the weekend. “In addition to the horror of watching those hateful humans march in broad daylight without fearing any consequences,” Lily Herman wrote at Refinery29, “I found it disturbing that many people, including liberals and progressives, didn’t acknowledge the hateful anti-Semitic comments made by these Nazis. In some cases, they tried to argue that they didn’t happen.” She pointed out that Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted about the “provocative effort by Neo-Nazis to foment racism” without mentioning anti-Semitism. “This strange in-between of calling out Nazis without directly acknowledging their hate towards Jews made me heave a very, very long sigh.”” [NewRepublic

“Trump Isn’t The Only One Lying About What Happened In Charlottesville” by Ben Shapiro: “The lack of honesty on both sides will only deepen our polarization. If the Left insists on siding with Antifa over Trump, they’ll drive more conservatives into the arms of the alt-right; if the right insists on siding with the alt-right over the non-Antifa counter-protesters, they’ll drive more Leftists into the arms of Antifa.” [Forward

STATE-SIDE: “The only Republican in California’s Jewish Caucus quits over Trump criticism” by Eitan Arom: “The only Republican in the California Legislative Jewish Caucus has resigned after it released a statement strongly condemning President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. State Sen. Jeff Stone of Riverside County said in an Aug. 17 statement that the group “has clearly become a vehicle for a Legislative Caucus that receives state resources to merely criticize our duly elected President.” … Stone said, “When I was invited to join the Jewish Caucus, I was expressly told that it was a nonpartisan Caucus, and the issues we were going to be involved with would focus on promoting the interests of the Jewish people in California and around the world. Since the election of President Trump, it seems that there has been a divergence from the Caucus’ original mission.”” [JewishJournal

** A sponsored message from the Schusterman Foundation, OneTable and Repair the World: Come #TogetherAtTheTable this weekend for a celebration of unity and diversity in the face of fear and division. Pledge to host or attend a grassroots Shabbat dinner in your city now. Download discussion guides. Share with your networks. More than 60 partner organizations have joined and are spreading the #TogetherAtTheTable movement. [OneTable] **

COMING SOON: United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) will host its second annual Iran Summit, on September 19 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. The event will coincide with President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speeches on the opening day of the UN General Assembly. Speakers include General (Ret) David Petraeus, David Petraeus, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Joe Lieberman, John Bolton, Dennis Ross, former Governors Jeb Bush and Bill Richardson; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Congressman Steve Israel, and former Senator Mark Kirk.

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEF: IDT Corporation: Revisiting The Sum-Of-The-Parts Ahead Of The Upcoming Spin-Off [SeekingAlpha] • As Buy Calls Mount, Tel Aviv-based Wix Poised to Leave Dog Days Behind [Bloomberg] • A defense company put a machine gun on a drone and is currently in testing with the Israeli army [TechCrunch] • Houston Mayor Turner pushing for direct flights to Israel [Chron]

“The Wall Street bigwigs joining Jeter in buying the Marlins” by Richard Johnson: “Lead investor Bruce Sherman co-founded money management firm Private Capital Management, which he sold to Legg Mason for $1.3 billion. The list includes Doug Kimmelman and Peter Labbat of Energy Capital Partners, Viking Global co-founder David Ott… Others are more entrepreneurial. Chris Mettler is the founder of CompareCards, which rates credit cards, and Ari Ackerman founded Bunk1, a provider of parent-engagement software for summer camps. Ackerman sold Bunk1 to Togetherwork, which is backed by Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, in April for undisclosed terms. The price was high enough to make Ackerman a part-owner in the Marlins.” [PageSix

“Silicon Valley billionaire Stewart Butterfield voices support for universal basic income” by Ben Chapman: “Now Slack chief executive Stewart Butterfield has thrown his weight behind the basic income movement, joining such illustrious company as Bill Gates, Tesla boss Elon Musk, and Y Combinator president Sam Altman… He went on to suggest that the billions spent on university education around the world each year would be put to better use if given directly to individuals as an unconditional payment.” [Independent

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Following months of criticism, Eva Moskowitz distances herself from Trump” by Eliza Shapiro: “Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz distanced herself from President Donald Trump on Thursday, following ten months of relentless criticism from staff, board members and colleagues… “In retrospect, I should have been more outspoken so that no one would possibly think that either Success Academy or I was tacitly supporting President Trump’s policies, which are contrary to the values of respect, caring, and concern that are central to our mission,” Moskowitz wrote in Thursday’s letter… “I am deeply distressed both by the hateful violence in Charlottesville and by President Trump’s refusal to clearly denounce it,” she said.” [Politico]

FIRST DAY: Aryeh Lightstone formally started his job yesterday as a senior advisor to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Friedman tweeted: “First day of work for my Senior Advisor Aryeh Lightstone. First Meeting, the legendary Natan Sharansky – What a Start!” [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: As usual, the Barcelona terror attack was widely and quickly denounced by everyone in the Israeli political system. But the Prime Minister appeared to be putting in an extra effort to be part of the story. An hour after the attack occurred, Netanyahu arrived at the Foreign Ministry for a special video conference and consultation with the Israeli ambassador in Spain and his diplomatic team. Barcelona is a popular tourist destination and there are thousands of Israelis there this August weekend. This provides Israel with a special reason for concern, but there was also a PR cloud over Netanyahu’s unusual media blitz over the event. The Prime Minister’s Office issued numerous updates and statements and even a video of the PM’s special meeting. Given the criminal cloud surrounding him these days, Netanyahu is thirsty for any diplomatic security agenda he can get. It enables him to project “business as usual” in the wake of all of his legal affairs. Bibi’s diplomatic efforts emphasize his strong sense of statesmanship, which is unmatched by any of his political rivals. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner recovering from cancer” by Barry Svrluga: “Regardless of where the Washington Nationals sit in the standings… there has long been a night-to-night constant at Nationals Park: Mark Lerner, one of the club’s principal owners and the only son of family patriarch Ted, sitting in the first row, Nationals hat on his head, monitoring the action from the on-deck circle to the outfield seats… But over the past several months… Lerner’s front-row perch has sat empty, conspicuously vacant… Thursday night, in a letter to The Washington Post, Lerner revealed the reason for his absence: Lerner had cancer in his left leg, and though he is now cancer-free, complications following surgery and radiation treatment left doctors with little choice but to amputate the leg last week.” [WashPost]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Tzora Vineyards: Judean Hills Blanc 2016 — by Yitz Applbaum: There are only a few wineries in Israel that have managed to foster a consistent theme across all of their wines. For Tzora Vineyards the consistent theme that I have observed across all of their offerings is that the drinker notices the strong relationship between the grape in a given wine and the taste of that wine. The wine producers are true to the grape, all the while managing to bring a friendliness to the wine. The correlation the winemakers created between the grape and the flavor creates a unique fruit experience. Each bottle is memorable.

The 2016 Judean Hills Blanc is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. While the Chardonnay is dominant the Sauvignon Blanc is still noticeable. There is a dryness on the front of the palate which rings of apricots and seaweed. The mid palate experience is all Chardonnay with great melon overtones. The finish is where one notices the Sauvignon Blanc with a citrus bite and some acidity. This wine goes perfectly well with blue cheese and sharp aged cheddar. This wine will last for some time. As is the case with most Tzora Vineyard wines, they sell out quickly, so stock up on this wine. [TzoraVineyards

BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: President of Baltimore’s Seabark Insurance Agency, Jerome Seaman turns 84…  Former two-term mayor of San Diego (the first Jewish mayor of San Diego), now CEO of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation in San Diego, Susan G. Golding turns 72… President at C O Benefit Connections, Raphael Schwartz turns 62… Labor law attorney representing employers, he is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, Stuart Douglas Tochner turns 58… CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, a DC-based think tank and advocacy group focused on issues of data privacy, he was previously a member of the New York State Assembly (1994-1997), Jules Polonetsky turns 52… Economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, previously chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, Jason Furman turns 47… Sarah Bronson turns 45… Partner in the DC-based law firm of Covington & Burling, he was previously general counsel and deputy staff director of the US House Armed Services Committee, Roger Zakheim turns 40… Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, he made aliyah in 2008, he is now a fellow at the The Jewish People Policy Institute, Noah Slepkov turns 36…

SATURDAY: 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton turns 71… One of the first venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, he was an early investor in Intel, Apple Computer, Scientific Data Systems and Teledyne, Arthur Rock turns 91… Member of the South Dakota House of Representatives (2001-2005) and then a member of the South Dakota Senate (2005-2007 and 2009-2013), Stanford “Stan” M. Adelstein turns 86… President of Ono Academic College in Israel, she was the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (2008-2010), Gabriela Shalev turns 76… Co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, Marc J. Rowan turns 55… Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (2009-2013), he was a law clerk for Justices William J. Brennan Jr. and David H. Souter, now a Managing Director at the Carlyle Group, Julius Genachowski turns 55… Managing editor of The New York Times, prior to joining the Times in 1998, he was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the Dallas Morning News, Joseph Kahn turns 53… Partner and talent agent in the motion picture department at William Morris Endeavor, he is very active in the contemporary art world as a collector, Dan Aloni turns 53… Former member of Knesset (2003-2006), he is the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Omri Sharon turns 53… Actress and producer, best known for her starring role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer,” Kyra Sedgwick turns 52… Borough President of Queens since 2014, she was previously a member of the New York State Assembly (1994-1999) and the New York City Council (2002-2009), Melinda R. Katz turns 52… Founder and CEO of The Friedlander Group, Ezra Friedlander turns 49… Businessman and investor, he and a partner successfully managed a hedge fund for his father Carl Icahn, Brett Icahn turns 38… Managing partner of Handmade Capital and founder of Liveset, a digital platform for streaming live concerts, Ross Hinkle turns 38… Private equity investor, Jewish communal leader Yehuda L. Neuberger… Program Associate at Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Cassandra Federbusz… Jerry Epstein

SUNDAY: Secretary of Labor for the State of Kansas, she was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives (2001-2012), Lana Goodman Gordon turns 67… Senior director at NYC-based investment bank Maxim Group, he is also president of American Friends of Yeshivat Dvar Yerushalayim and a board member of ZOA, Jay Knopf turns 61… Member of Congress (D-IL-10) who first won his seat in 2012, lost it in 2014 and won the seat back in 2016, Brad Schneider turns 56… US Trade Representative (2013-2017) and other high ranking postings in Democratic administrations, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, a friend and classmate of President Obama at Harvard, Michael Froman turns 55… Moroccan-born billionaire, he is the founder and controlling shareholder of the Altice Group (one of the world’s largest telecoms firms including NY-based Cablevision), Patrick Drahi turns 54… British Ambassador to Israel (2010-2015), the first Jewish UK ambassador to be posted to Tel Aviv, he is now director of cyber security and information assurance in the British Cabinet Office, Matthew Gould turns 46… VP of communications at DC-based First Focus (a nonpartisan advocacy organization for children and families), he was previously at Project On Government Oversight, Ari Goldberg turns 44… Deputy director and one of the founders of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, a summer music festival that showcases Jerusalem, Karen Brunwasser turns 41… VP managing the Iowa office of Cornerstone Government Affairs and President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, David Ryan Adelman turns 36… Real estate agent, author and television personality as an original cast member on the show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles on the Bravo television network, Joshua Daniel “Josh” Flagg turns 32… Phoebe Bryan

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

Fox CEO James Murdoch rebukes Trump’s response to racism, pledges $1 million to ADL

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, speaking at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 19. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

James Murdoch, chief executive of the 21st Century Fox media corporation, pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in an apparent rebuke of President Donald Trump’s statements on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In an email Thursday, the Fox scion gave a statement against the racist and neo-Nazi sentiment that swept through Virginia last weekend, The New York Times reported. It was also the most outspoken that a member of the Murdoch family has been in response to the week’s events.

“What we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people,” James Murdoch wrote.

“These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation — a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals.

On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist killed a counterprotester in Charlottesville, where hundreds of far-right activists had gathered for a march. Trump that day condemned violence on “many sides.” Amid calls for him to denounce neo-Nazis and other racists specifically, he spoke out against the “Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists” on Monday.

The following day, however, the president reiterated that he believed that the protesters and counterprotesters shared the blame for the violence, and said there were “very fine people” on both sides. Jewish and other human rights organizations, Republican lawmakers and top military brass issued statements saying racism and anti-Semitism need to be called out in more specific terms.

James Murdoch’s father, Rupert, is a conservative media mogul who has become an informal adviser to Trump, recently dining with the president at the White House, according to the Times. The younger Murdoch has been less outspoken about his political views than his father.

With a subject line reading, “Subject: Personal note from James Murdoch re: ADL,” Mr. Murdoch addressed the note to “friends.”

“The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob,” he wrote. “I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”

Murdoch said that he and his wife, Kathryn, plan to donate $1 million to the ADL, urging others to follow suit.

“We hardly ever talk about our charitable giving, but in this case I wanted to tell you and encourage you to be generous too. Many of you are supporters of the Anti-Defamation League already — now is a great time to give more,” he wrote.

Since early in the Trump campaign, the ADL has urged him to refrain from rhetoric and actions that seemed to encourage white supremacists and other members of the far right. The group also called on Trump to forcefully denounce them or disavow their support.

On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged that his company will donate $1 million each to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center in the wake of the rally in Charlottesville.

On Friday, the ADL and the U.S. Conference of Mayors will hold a news conference call to issue a bipartisan announcement in response to the events in Charlottesville. Mayors across the country have condemned the bigotry and violence seen there.

Critics on Twitter noted that the Fox News Channel has been a strong defender of the president and his policies.

“Can the Murdochs expiate their guilt for helping to enable Trump’s election with only $1 million? What’s democracy worth?” asked Rabbi Iris Richman, an activist in New York.

Bumble dating app joins forces with ADL to ‘ban all forms of hate’

Bumble has over 12 million users. Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Bumble.

The popular dating app Bumble will work with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Technology and Society for “guidance on identifying all hate symbols.”

The app, which as of February had over 12 million users, announced the partnership Thursday on its website. In a statement, the company called on users to report others who displayed “hate symbols” in their profiles.

Bumble will use the ADL’s “research and terminology” to identify and categorize hate symbols.

Its statement also said the company was harassed last week by messages and phone calls from a group of neo-Nazis angry about Bumble’s “stance towards promoting women’s empowerment.”

Tinder co-founder Tiffany Wolfe started Bumble in December 2014. On Bumble, after a heterosexual match is made between users, only the female user can initiate a conversation.

Also Thursday, the dating app OkCupid said it banned a user who was identified as a “white supremacist.”