President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump adviser Gary Cohn reportedly considered quitting following Charlottesville


Gary Cohn, a prominent Jewish member of President Donald Trump’s administration, considered resigning over Trump’s response to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, The New York Times reported.

[Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin: You good with this?]

Cohn, the top economic adviser for Trump, drafted a letter of resignation, according to the report Friday, which cited two unnamed people familiar with the draft.

In an interview Thursday with the Financial Times, Cohn said the White House “can and must do better” in consistently condemning hate groups. His remarks came nearly two weeks after the Charlottesville rally, which turned deadly when an alleged white supremacist rammed a crowd of counterprotesters with a car, killing one and injuring at least 19.

It was his first public reference to the national dialogue about the violence. As a “patriotic American,” Cohn said he did not want to leave his job as director of the National Economic Council.

“But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks,” he said.

After the Charlottesville rally, Trump said that both far-right marchers who gathered in the southern Virginia city and counterprotesters shared the blame for the violence that ensued. Trump later condemned the Ku Klux Klan, racists and neo-Nazis amid criticism that he failed to single out the far-rightists immediately afterward, but a day later said there were “very fine people on both sides.” Cohn was standing with three other officials behind Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15 when the president made his latter remarks to reporters.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,” Cohn said in the Financial Times interview. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups, and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”

Cohn added: “As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

He also told the Financial Times he spoke privately with Trump about these issues.

“I have not been bashful saying what I think,” Cohn said.

In the days after Charlottesville, Cohn’s family — including his wife — told him he needed to think seriously about departing, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the discussions. Several of his friends in the business community also urged him to step away from the administration. Cohn is a former executive at Goldman Sachs.

Amid fears that Cohn would resign, the U.S. stock market dropped until the White House denied the rumor. Cohn, who had spent his entire career in the trading world before joining Trump late last year, was deeply troubled by the market reaction, people close to him told The New York Times.

Cohn’s critical statements of the president’s performance come as Trump prepares next week to start a major national effort to sell a tax-cut plan, which Cohn has been toiling for months behind the scenes to craft, The New York Times noted.

His remarks were in marked contrast to a statement by the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who also is Jewish and stood directly behind the president during the Aug. 15 news conference.

“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in the country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and the American people,” he told former Yale classmates who had urged him to resign.

Ivanka Trump, advisor to the President, walks after a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/REUTERS.

Rabbi who oversaw conversion of Ivanka Trump slams president’s response to Charlottesville


Haskel Lookstein, the New York rabbi who oversaw the conversion to Judaism of President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, criticized the president’s response to the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lookstein weighed in on the issue Wednesday along with other rabbis at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, a prominent modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan.

“We are appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and antisemitism, and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right,” the rabbis wrote in a letter to members of the synagogue and its affiliated Ramaz School. “While we avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence.

“We pray that our country heeds the voices of tolerance, and stays true to its vision of human rights and civil rights.”

Far-right protesters converged on Charlottesville in defense of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and brawled with counterprotesters. Some of the protesters carried Nazi and Confederate flags, gave Nazi salutes, and expressed anti-Semitic and racists views.

After police broke up the the rally, a white supremacist, James Fields, rammed his car into a crowd of the counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the rally.

President Trump said at a news conference Tuesday that not all the participants in the rally were white supremacists. Confronted about whether he was putting white supremacists and neo-Nazis on the same “moral plane” as the liberal and leftist counterprotesters, he said, “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.” Trump seemed to backtrack from his statement a day earlier condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists for the violence.

Trump’s comments were widely criticized, including by Republicans and Jewish groups, and praised by white supremacists.

In addition to Lookstein, who is rabbi emeritus, the letter was signed by Kehilath Jeshurun Rabbis Chaim Steinmetz and Elie Weinstock. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner were longtime members of the Upper East Side synagogue before moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as White House aides. They reportedly tried and failed to convince Trump to moderate his comments on Charlottesville.

Lookstein last year agreed to give the invocation at the Republican National Convention, but later withdrewafter an outcry from modern Orthodox Jews and others.

In a letter to members at the time, he wrote, “Like my father before me, I have never been involved in politics. Politics divides people.”

In a widely viewed Vice documentary about the events in Charlottesville that aired Tuesday on HBO, Christopher Cantwell, a white supremacist, expressed disgust with Donald Trump because he “gave his daughter to a Jew.”

Cantwell asked Vice News’ reporter Elspeth Reeve, “Do you think you could feel about race like I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl?”

Fritz Kuhn speaks at a Bund rally in April 1939 at Hindenburg Park in La Crescenta, CA.

Battling Nazis and white supremacists: A tale of two cities – Charlottesville and La Crescenta


La Crescenta, California is a long way from Charlottesville, Virginia, but both communities have recently had to deal with controversies involving Nazis, white supremacy, and the removal of a public monument that symbolized bigotry.  In Charlottesville, the controversy erupted in violence and became national news. In La Crescenta,  a suburb of Los Angeles, the dispute was resolved through spirited but nonviolent meetings and discussions. Not surprisingly, the La Crescenta experience generated few headlines.

Members of Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups descended on Charlottesville last weekend purportedly to preserve a 26-foot tall statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederal general and traitor to his country, erected in a local park that was once named after him.  The statue of Lee, on his horse with hat in hand, had stood in the park since 1924, a time of resurgent white supremacy, KKK activism, and lynching.  In April, the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell and remove the statue and rechristen Lee Park as Emancipation Park.  Local white supremacists went to court to oppose the removal and a  circuit court judge issued an injunction prohibiting any sale or removal for six months.

Stopping the removal of the Lee statue was the excuse that Nazis and other white supremacists used to organize a march and rally in Charlottesville brandishing  torches, bats, and guns. One of them drove his  Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters that killed 32-year old Heather Heyer and injured  19 others.   The controversy was compounded when President Donald Trump refused to forcefully condemn the white supremacists, who then celebrated Trump’s remarks as signifying support for their views and actions.

This Friday – a week after the Nazis came to Charlottesville – people will gather in Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park to celebrate a victory over hate and bigotry.  A year ago, a sign at the park’s entrance said “Welcome to Hindenburg Park,” named for Paul von Hindenburg, Germany’s president from 1925 to 1934 who appointed Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in 1933.  The sign was erected last year, paid for by a German-American group who claimed that it was intended to celebrate the area’s German American heritage.  But the sign failed to mention the park’s ugly past as a site of Nazi rallies and a Nazi youth camp during the 1930s.

Few people knew about the six-foot sign until the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation erected it in March 2016 at the park’s entrance near the corner of Honolulu and Dunsmore avenues in La Crescenta, an unincorporated section of LA County, adjacent to Glendale.

The sign greeted visitors with the words “Willkommen zum,” written in a German typeface, followed by “Welcome to Hindenburg Park,” and below that “The Historic German Section of Crescenta Valley Park.” At the bottom of the sign was the county’s official seal and the words “Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.” 

Despite the official seal, the county did not pay for the sign, which cost $2,500.  The idea for the sign originated with the Tricentennial Foundation, a German heritage organization based in the North Hills section of Los Angeles. The foundation worked with the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley to fund the sign. The foundation ‘s aim was to “preserve the historical integrity of the site,” Hans Eberhard, the group’s chairman, told the Glendale News-Press last year.

Some proponents of the sign argued that they heard no objections about it before the County approved it.

“That’s because hardly anyone knew about it until it was put up,” explained Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. “If it had been a public process, I’m sure people would have opposed it.  But soon after it was put up, we started voicing our concerns.”

Once it was installed, people in the area began to raise questions.  After several local residents brought the issue to Moss’ attention, what appeared to be a harmless historical marker became the subject of controversy.  They learned that, despite the sign, the park’s name is Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, not Hindenburg Park, and it is owned and operated by Los Angeles County.  Moss and others brought their complaints to County officials.

“I think there’s a way we can honor German-American culture, but also not forget what took place at that park,” Moss explained last year.

Civil rights, human rights, and faith-based groups mobilized a campaign to persuade County officials to take down the sign and replace it with another sign that would tell an accurate history of that site.  Local residents signed petitions, contacted local elected officials, and conducted research to uncover the park’s ugly but mostly forgotten history.

In April 2016, the county’s Human Relations Commission held a public hearing on the issue that attracted at least 200 people, the vast majority of them opposed to the new sign.  At the public hearing, many local residents recited versions of the famous statement by philosopher George Santayana:  If we don’t learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat it.

Under pressure from the elected County Board of Supervisors, Parks and Recreation Department officials agreed to remove the sign and to appoint a committee to create a new display that accurately represented the park’s history with texts and photos. The sign was removed last November. The new display, explaining the site’s history, will be unveiled this Friday.

Had local political officials and business groups done their research, they might have predicted that the sign would generate controversy, given the park’s history as a gathering place for American Nazis and Nazi sympathizers.

Had the park simply been a place where German Americans celebrated their rich and fascinating cultural heritage, it would hardly be contentious. But the site also has a much more troubling history.

Although the German American League may have been founded to celebrate German culture, it always had a political side. According to a 1937 article in Life magazine, the group was “the Nazi organization in the U.S.,” previously known as the Friends of the New Germany.

This country’s major pro-Nazi group was the German-American Bund, which sought to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany and urged Americans to boycott Jewish-owned business. Its rallies not only featured Nazi flags but also American flags, claiming that its members were patriotic Americans. In fact, the Bund claimed that George Washington was “the first Fascist.”

As early as 1936, the Bund operated 19 Nazi-inspired youth camps across the United States. One of them, Camp Sutter, was located at the German-American League’s Hindenburg Park.

In an interview last year, Arnie Bernstein, author of the Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund, explained that the purpose of these Bund youth camps was to “indoctrinate children in Nazi ideology.” Like most summer camps, the children participated in sports, hikes, arts and crafts and other activities. But they also were taught about Aryan supremacy and told to be loyal to the Bund, its leader Fritz Kuhn, and Adolph Hitler. They wore uniforms similar to those worn by the Hitler Youth group in Germany. They were forced to march around in the middle of the night carrying Bund and American flags, sing the Nazi anthem, give the Nazi salute, and shout “Sieg Heil.”  As part of their camp activities, they were inculcated with Nazi propaganda. A Congressional investigation also uncovered sexual abuse between the adults and campers, Bernstein said

In February 1939, Kuhn, who was often called the “American Fuehrer,” spoke at a pro-Nazi Bund rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City that attracted over 20,000 people. There he repeatedly referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “Frank D. Rosenfeld,” called his New Deal the “Jew Deal,” and stated that “the Jews are enemies of the United States.”

Bund choir group sings at Hidenburg Park in 1936.

Later that month, the Bund held another rally at its West Coast headquarters at 634 West 15th Street in Los Angeles in building known as the Deutsch Haus (German House). The building was a site for pro-Nazi meetings and also housed a restaurant and beer hall as well as the Aryan Bookstore, where one could purchase the Bund newspaper, Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kamp, and other Nazi literature. The Deutsch Haus also screened German anti-Semitic propaganda films with titles like “Kosher Slaughter.”

A few months later, on April 30, 1939, the Bund held a rally in Hindenburg Park, promoted as a celebration of Hitler’s birthday ten days later. Over 2,000 German-American Bund members came to hear Kuhn and West Coast Bund leader Herman Max Schwinn.

According to the Los Angeles Times: “Clad in a gray-and-black storm trooper uniform and flanked by a dozen uniformed guards, Kuhn spoke from a stage draped in red swastika banners.” The crowd cheered Kuhn and booed as a low-flying plane, sponsored by the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, bombarded the park with thousands of anti-Hitler leaflets.

When it was Schwinn’s turn to speak, he read a telegram he had sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Do everything in your power to quarantine the United States against alien influences which are at work to drag the nation into war.” By “alien influences” he meant Jews, whom the Bund correctly believed were trying to get the Roosevelt administration and Congress to oppose Hitler’s efforts to take over Europe.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times that week, Kuhn spouted typical Nazi ideas.  He falsely claimed that Jews occupied 62% of the high posts in the federal government and “have plotted to get hold of almost everything, especially in New York and Hollywood.”

That event was only one of many Bund and pro-Nazi events that took place at the park. These gatherings featured speakers from other American fascist organizations – including the Silver Shirts, White Shirts, and Khaki Shirts — as well as the Bund.

California State University-Northridge hosts a website and archive called “In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda in Southern California, 1933-1945” that includes photos of Nazi rallies at Hindenburg Park. One shows members of the Bund erecting a huge swastika in the park. A two-minute clip from the documentary film “Rancho La Canada” includes footage of activities at Hindenburg Park, including the 1939 Nazi rally.

In December 1939, Kuhn was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison for embezzlement, but the Bund briefly continued without him. Two years later, after the United States entered World War 2 against the Nazis, the Bund disappeared. In 1943, while he was serving his prison sentence, the U.S. cancelled Kuhn’s citizenship and deported him to Germany in 1945.

Historian Bernstein is quick to explain that “most German Americans weren’t Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.” Many, he said, were “ashamed of Hitler and what was going on in Germany, and strongly denounced Kuhn and his followers.”

“The Bund was a small group compared with the number of German Americans living in the United States,” he noted. “But they were loud and noisy.”

After the war, Hindenburg Park continued to be the site for German festivals. Southern California’s first Oktoberfest was held there in 1956.

While the German American League owned the park, a five-foot bust of Hindenburg adorned the grounds. In 1957, Los Angeles County purchased the land from the German-American League for $91,000, and removed the bust. The Board of Supervisors also abandoned the name Hindenburg Park and incorporated that section of the park into the larger Crescenta Valley County Park.

Over the next half-century, memories of the American Nazis’ presence at the park faded. By the start of this century, few people recalled that the Glendale area had not only been a stronghold of Nazi activism but also a breeding ground for other hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and the John Birch Society in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, Glendale was West Coast headquarters of the American Nazi Party. In 1962, when the KKK experienced a revival in response to the burgeoning civil rights movement, the Klan paraded down Glendale’s main thoroughfare, Brand Boulevard, with a horse brigade, marching band and burning cross.

As recently as 2012, a tiny hate group called the Crescenta Valley European American Society, promoting “white identity and white pride,” had a brief presence on the internet and sponsored a European American Heritage Festival at Hindenburg Park — which generated controversy at the time — but all manifestations of this group, including its website, soon disappeared.

The La Crescenta and Glendale areas are now more diverse than in earlier years, but the scars of racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry never completely heal, as reflected in the upsurge of protest after the appearance of the new “Welcome to Hindenburg Park” sign last year.

Hans Eberhard, the Tri-Centennial Foundation’s chairman, seemed either naïve or willfully ignorant about the significance of the site’s Nazi past.

He told the Glendale News-Press last year that people who hoisted flags bearing swastikas in the park did so because it was the German flag at the time, not because they were Nazis.

Seeking to downplay the dispute, Eberhard explained, “This is a welcome to Hindenburg Park. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an indication this is a historic site.”

Steve Pierce, a Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce board member, told the Glendale News Press:  “The sign is just recognizing the German culture that was in our community.  I think that’s important. I’m very in support of that.”

Mike Lawler, former president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, who has documented the area’s history of racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry, had a somewhat more nuanced view. The park’s history, he observed last year, is part of the “simple and recurring American story of an immigrant group celebrating their heritage as they assimilate.”

But Lawler also understood why the sign triggered a protest movement. “My overall feeling is that by burying uncomfortable events in history, we risk repeating past mistakes. Obviously, I don’t have the perspective of having been the victim of a mass genocide, so I cannot relate to the Jewish Federation’s feelings of offense. But I would hope that bringing attention to the park’s history would provide an opportunity for educating future generations about the dangers of nationalism and hate groups like the Bund.”

The Department of Parks and Recreation’s six-member advisory committee spent months debating what words and photos to include on the new display and how much to focus on the park’s Nazi activities.

Through the months of discussion, “we got a vivid reminder of the fruitful collaboration that can come from listening to others with care and respect,” said committee member Mark Strunin, a consultant for nonprofit groups and former president of a nearby synagogue.

“All four of my kids frequently go to the park and I was surprised when the sign suddenly appeared,” said Sophal Ear, an elected member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council who was appointed to the advisory committee.  “I had no clue as to the history of the Nazi activities in the park.”

A Cambodian refugee and a professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College, Ear said it was important to create a display that “doesn’t gloss over the past but illuminates it.  It’s absolutely crucial that we learn the lessons of history.”

Mona Field, a retired political science professor at Glendale College who helped lead the campaign to remove the offensive sign, called it a “grassroots victory against those who would whitewash history.” The new display, she said, “tells the full story, good and bad, and makes clear that ideologies of hatred have no place in our community.”

The display, recounting the park’s history, mentions that in its early days the park was owned by German-American League, who used it for festivals and other events for the local German-American community. But it also explains that “it was also used for more controversial activities” including “the promotion of Nazi beliefs through political rallies and the Sutter Youth Camp.”  There, the display notes, American youth were “indoctrinated into theories of Aryan superiority,” which is described as “part of Adolf Hitler’s racist ideology.”   These were not simply harmless theories but, the display  explains, “led to persecution and murder of European Jews and any other group or individual who opposed Hitler’s Third Reich regime.”

The display includes photos of the entrance to the park, the park caretaker’s residence in the 1930s, an Easter Sunday service in the park in 1952, a musical comedy performance in the early 1950s, and a bust of Beethoven that was erected in the park.  There’s also a 1944 photo of German American bomber  pilots in front of a plane.  This photo has nothing to do with the park or the Glendale area. One member of the advisory committee insisted that it be part of the display, no doubt to show that German Americans were loyal patriots who served  in the U.S. military during World War 2.

But the marker also includes photos of pro-Nazi activities that took place in the park in the 1930s – a German American Bund Party choral group, in front of a swastika, a gathering that includes both American and Nazi flags, and a group of children in uniforms looking at the German American Bund Party flag.  It does not include a well-known photo of German-American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn speaking at a pro-Nazi rally in Hindenburg Park in April 1939.  Only three of the display’s nine photos deal with the park’s Nazi past.

The display concludes with this statement: “Although the events of the 20th century may seem distant, there continues to be a need to guard against all forms of hatred, racism, and totalitarian ideologies of all types. The American ideals of justice and equal opportunity still require our vigilant support.”

When the ad hoc committee appointed by the LA County Parks and Recreation Department began deliberating over the design, photos, and wording of the new display, nobody could have anticipated that its unveiling would occur as the nation was reeling from an upsurge of neo-Nazi and white supremacist activism, emboldened by a president who failed to display moral leadership.

“The events in Charlottesville are a sad reminder that Nazism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and racism still exist in our country,” said the Jewish Federation’s Jason Moss.  “We cannot erase our history. But the new display in the park is a reminder of past events that took place in the community, and hopefully a way to ease the pain.”

“We showed that there are ways to work together through dialogue,” observed Moss, “instead of with torches and violence.”

Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is “The 100 Greatest American of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame” (Nation Books).

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Our president just asked us to be fair to white supremacists


There was a moment in his “neo-Nazi, neo-Shmazi” news conference where you might have found yourself thinking, maybe President Trump is right.

On the narrow question of who was responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, a prosecutor might note that punches were thrown by white supremacists and left-wing activists, neo-Nazis and members of the Antifa resistance.

“I think there’s blame on both sides,” is how Trump put it in his news conference Tuesday in New York.

It’s the right answer if this is the question: “Who threw punches in Charlottesville?” But it is the wrong answer to every other question raised by the awful events of the past three days. Such as, “What is expected of an American president when hundreds of people representing a stew of racist and anti-Semitic ideologies gather in a public park in an American city?” And, “What do we expect of the leader of our government when young men in 2017 wave Nazi flags and chant ‘Jews will not replace us’ while one of their number kills a counterprotester using his car as a weapon?”

And one more: “When given the choice between a mob that defends segregation, slavery and the ideology of genocide, and a crowd that stands opposed to these things, which side do you choose?”

Trump stunned his critics not because he was waiting (uncharacteristically, one might add) for all the “facts” to make a statement, as he said at the news conference, but because he ignored the essential fact: Neo-Nazis, Klansman and other far-right ghouls had called for a rally, under the banner of “Unite the Right,” in an attempt to resurrect ideas that the United States had declared — on the battlefield, in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion — morally bankrupt and grotesquely un-American.

And the president of those United States declared that while such people were bad, they were perhaps no worse than those who came to oppose them. In fact, he was careful to point out, “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.” But if there were “very fine people” who showed up in Charlottesville to “quietly” protest the removal of a Confederate statue, as Trump put it, they knew exactly what they were getting into. You can’t show up at an orgy and say you’re there just for the snacks. As the satirical newspaper The Onion put it in a headline that barely seemed satirical, “Trump Blasts Critics Who Judge Neo-Nazi Groups By Most Extreme Members.”

Trump may occasionally and reluctantly disavow them, but figures on the lunatic fringe appreciated the bone that they had been thrown.

“Really proud of him,” the white supremacist Richard Spencer said in a tweet. “He bucked the narrative of Alt-Right violence, and made a statement that is fair and down to earth.”

“Donald Trump: He Was Fair to White Supremacists” is quite the epitaph.

On Saturday morning, after the torchlight vigil, after the speech by David Duke and the anti-Semitic chants and the killing of a 32-year-old woman, no one outside of the “alt-right” was looking for fairness. They were seeking moral clarity — and they didn’t get it from the White House.

Some very fine people, including some Jews, are not convinced. They think Trump got it about right in noting that “many sides” are responsible for what happened in Charlottesville. They think it was important to point out that there were “vicious, hate-filled extremists,” as one Jewish leader put it, on both sides — that is, the neo-Nazi side and the protesters’ side, the Klan’s side and the anti-fascist side.

It is as if the lesson of Jewish history is moderation in the face of hatred, restraint when confronted by those who would kill us.

In his 2003 book “Nazis in Newark,” the historian Warren Grover recalled how a loose group calling themselves the Minutemen organized in order to crush the pro-Hitler activity proliferating in their backyard.

“Throughout the 1930s, the Minutemen consistently and effectively opposed Nazi activities in Newark and Northern New Jersey,” Grover wrote. “The fighting force included criminals and boxers who used fists, clubs, and baseball bats to counter the Nazi threat. Often just a rumor that the Minutemen had been sighted was enough to deter Newark’s Nazis from holding events.”

Plenty of Jews who remember the Minutemen consider them heroes — and even revere the memory of the gangster Abner “Longy” Zwillman, who aided them. Maybe we live in more rarefied times. Maybe today we’d call the anti-Nazi gangs “thugs” and “terrorists.” Maybe there’s a difference between standing up to neo-Nazis and actual Nazis. And maybe, to our credit, we understand that nonviolent resistance is the most principled and effective response to hatred and intolerance.

But if the Minutemen lacked a certain gentility, two things they didn’t lack: moral clarity and the courage of their convictions.

Trump was asked Tuesday whether white supremacists and their counterprotesters belong “on the same moral plane.”

“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane,” our president said.

Alex Jones in Watford, England, June 6, 2013. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

Alex Jones says Jewish actors posed as KKK followers in Charlottesville


Radio host, conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump supporter Alex Jones — who earlier this year ranted about a “Jewish mafia” run by billionaire George Soros — was at it again Sunday with a theory that “leftist Jews” may have impersonated Nazis to discredit white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Speaking on “The Alex Jones Show,” Jones recalled his own experience, he said, protesting the Ku Klux Klan:

I mean, quite frankly, I’ve been to these events, a lot of the KKK guys with their hats off look like they’re from the cast of “Seinfeld.” Literally they’re just Jewish actors. Nothing against Jews in general, but they are leftists Jews that want to create this clash and they go dress up as Nazis. I have footage in Austin — we’re going to find it somewhere here at the office — where it literally looks like cast of “Seinfeld” or like Howard Stern in a Nazi outfit. They all look like Howard Stern. They almost got like little curly hair down, and they’re just up there heiling Hitler. You can tell they are totally uncomfortable, they are totally scared, and it’s all just meant to create the clash.

As Jones explained in a video of his remarks video posted Saturday titled “ Virginia Riots Staged To Bring In Martial Law, Ban Conservative Gatherings.”

Media Matters first reported Jones’ comments about the rally goers.

White nationalists gathered Saturday for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, ostensibly to protest a plan by local officials to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. There were clashes between the white nationalists and counterprotesters, and a 32-year-old woman was killed when a car driven by a man who espoused neo-Nazi views plowed into a group of counterprotesters.

In the past, Jones has denied that he is anti-Semitic, saying he reserves his attacks for Jewish liberals. In March, Jones said that “the Jewish mafia” was supporting efforts by moderate Republicans to “derail the Trump presidency.”

“Well there is undoubtedly a Jewish mafia and the [Anti-Defamation League] will say you’re anti-Semitic,” Jones said on his program. “No, there’s an Italian mafia, Irish mafia, Jewish mafia, Jamaican mafia, and there’s mafias, there’s Dixie mafia. And absolutely, the Jewish mafia, then, if you criticize it says you’re anti-Semitic, but the Jewish mafia is a very powerful mafia.”

In December 2015, Trump appeared on “The Alex Jones Show,” where the then-candidate for the Republican presidential nomination told the host that “your reputation is amazing” and promised he would “not let you down.”

Jones has been called out for spreading other conspiracy theories, including one claiming that FEMA wanted to put Americans in concentration camps, Vox noted. Southern Poverty Law Center fellow Mark Potok told Vox that Jones is the “primary producer of conspiracy theories in America today.”

Media Matters video from Alex Jones show

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 14, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS.

Trump names KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis in condemnation


Two days after the death of a 32-year-old woman during a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., and amidst a furor over his delay in condemning the rally in specific terms, President Donald Trump condemned the “racist violence” and declared that “racism is evil.”

“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and other hate groups who are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday in a statement he delivered at the White House.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred and violence. It has no place in America,” Trump said. He also said the Department of Justice had opened up a civil rights investigation into the attack, and honored by name Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday after a car driven by a 20-year-old who has espoused neo-Nazi views plowed into counterprotesters.

Trump had been under pressure since Saturday to forcefully condemn the white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. His initial statement, condemning “hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides” angered Democrats and Republicans alike for seeming to draw a moral  equivalence between the white supremacists and the counterprotesters. In a subsequent tweet he had expressed condolences to “the family of the young woman killed today” but did not name Heyer.

Jewish leaders also noted the widespread expressions of anti-Semitism of the rally, which included demonstrators carrying signs reading “Jews are Satan’s children,” Nazi flags and chants of “Jews will not replace us.”

In a statement Saturday, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.”

On Sunday the White House put out a statement, attributed to an unnamed  spokesperson, saying, “The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K., neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

That statement still failed to satisfy many critics who noted that some white supremacist groups who were encouraged that  Trump had not himself singled them out. On Monday, David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called on Trump to “make clear that our nation does not countenance the warped views of bigots, as was on display in Charlottesville.” He also urged the president “to send a strong message to these extremist groups that their endorsement is not welcome.”

Members of the Virginia National Guard on the pedestrian mall in Charlottesville, Va., following violence at the Unite the Right rally, Aug. 12, 2017. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Charlottesville Jewish community hires security


The Jewish community of Charlottesville, Virginia, hired security guards for the first time in its history ahead of a far-right event that ended with a deadly attack on protesters against racism.

Rabbi Tom Gutherz of Congregation Beth Israel told Haaretz on Sunday that the move was deemed necessary ahead of the “alt-right” rally planned for the city the day before. On Saturday, a 20-year-old white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and wounding 20 others.

“We had to hire the service of security guards because of the events,” Gutherz told Haaretz. “We’re sad but we had no choice.”

The synagogue held its scheduled activities on Saturday, Gutherz said.

“It was clear we wouldn’t let this intimidate us, these people can’t keep us away from our synagogue,” he said of the far-right activists.

On Sunday, Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, who is Jewish, blamed President Donald Trump for some of the hatred on display in his city, where thousands of marchers chanted racist slogans, including about Jews and blacks.

“Look at the campaign he ran,” Signer told CNN about Trump. “Look at the intentional courting, on one hand, of all these white supremacists, white nationalists … and look on the other hand at the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all of these different efforts, just like we saw yesterday. This isn’t hard.”

On Saturday, Trump condemned hatred and violence “on many sides” in his remarks, but did not directly single out the white supremacists, whose rally in Charlottesville resulted in the governor, Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, calling a state of emergency.

Trump has come under bipartisan criticism for failing to explicitly condemn white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups in brief remarks he gave Saturday from his golf club in New Jersey.

Vice President Mike Pence did issue such a condemnation while speaking to reporters in Cartagena, Colombia.

“We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK,” he said.

People gather for a vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. August 13, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS.

Donald Trump, Betrayer-in-Chief


On Saturday, the President betrayed the Jews.

Some 500 white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, VA. They chanted, “The Jewish media is going down!” and hurled the n-word at counter-protestors. Violence broke out. A car plowed into a group of peaceful counter-protesters walking away from the rally, killing one of them.

After waiting far too long, President Donald Trump made a statement. He condemned violence “on many sides.” If it wasn’t clear that he was apportioning blame equally between the people who marched in support of slavery and killing Jews and those who opposed them, he repeated that phrase, “on many sides.”

And that was the moment Donald Trump betrayed the Jews.

Would it have been so hard to say racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the United States of America? The marchers, out to protest the removal of a stature of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, alternated chants of, “You will not replace us!” with “Jews will not replace us!” But Trump– the father and grandfather and father-in-law of Jews– refused to blame them. Refused to hold them accountable. Refused to threaten them with anywhere near the fire and fury he uses to lash out at Sen. Mitch McConnell or CNN or the New York Times.

This is not Republican. Right after the violence broke out, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, tweeted, “’White supremacy’ crap is worst kind of racism—it’s EVIL and a perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”

Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors – Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.”

But Trump couldn’t do it.

And instead of slapping the instigators of all this violence back, it gives them cover to go on. They can tell themselves, We’re no worse than them – even the President said so. Trump just leveled the playing field between good and evil.

For years Trump and his supporters accused President Barack Obama of refusing to use the phrase, “radical Islamic terrorism” – something President George W. Bush also refused to do.

But here he is refusing to name and condemn the terrorists in his own backyard.

And the cowardice or complicity was echoed by Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In his statement, Sessions condemns hate and intolerance and violence. He doesn’t name white supremacists or the Klan. Those people can read his statement and be perfectly justifiable it applies to the people who came out to oppose them.

The reaction to Trump’s shameful statement has been swift and bipartisan. He may, as he has in the past, come out with a lame, too-late correction.

But the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville today will say he’s just doing it to calm the critics, that he doesn’t really mean it.

And that is one thing those racist losers and I agree on.

 

 

Pence refuses to validate Clinton’s ‘deplorable’ label in denouncing David Duke


Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Tuesday reiterated his refusal to label former KKK leader David Duke as “deplorable” not to validate Hillary Clinton’s term used to attack Donald Trump’s supporters.

“Donald Trump and I have denounced David Duke repeatedly. We have said that we do not want his support and we do not want the support of people who think like him,” Pence said at a press conference following a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill. “The simple fact is that I am not in the name-calling business. My colleagues in the House of Representatives know that I believe that civility is essential in a vibrant democracy and it’s never been my practice.”

Pence came under fire for refusing to to use the term “deplorable” during an interview with CNN on Monday.

“There are some supporters of Donald Trump and Mike Pence who ― David Duke, for example, some other white nationalists ― who would fit into that category of deplorables. Right?” CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked, referring to Clinton’s emarks rover the weekend that half of Donald Trump supporters can be put into a “basket of deplorables.”

“Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly. We don’t want his support and we don’t want the support of people who think like him,” Pence replied. When pressed if he’d call Duke “deplorable,” Pence said, “No, I’m not in the name calling business.”

Following the interveiw, when contacted by a 

Donald Trump again disavows David Duke following ex-KKK leader’s robocall endorsement


Donald Trump once again disavowed David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who is urging Louisiana voters to send him to the Senate and Trump to the White House.

“Mr. Trump has continued to denounce David Duke and any group or individual associated with a message of hate,” his campaign told Politico this week after it emerged that Duke mentioned Trump in a campaign robocall.

The robocall cites what Duke, who is seeking the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, depicts as the threats of immigration, gun control and black advocacy.

“It’s time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke, for the U.S. Senate,” he says in the call, which was first reported by BuzzFeed.

Trump has disavowed Duke multiple times since declining to do so in February, when the white supremacist expressed his support for the Republican’s candidacy.

 

Trump rejects Clinton’s charges of racism, ties to KKK


Donald Trump on Thursday came out swinging against Hillary Clinton for her recent attacks in response to his personal outreach to minority voters, and labeling him as a racist, suggesting it’s an attack on “decent people” supporting the Republican ticket.

“The news reports are that Hillary Clinton is going to try to accuse this campaign, and the millions of decent Americans who support this campaign, of being racists, which we are not,” Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. “It’s the oldest play in the Democratic playbook. When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument. It’s a tired and disgusting argument, It’s the last refuge of the discredited politician.”

“Voters are used to the old game where failed politicians like Hillary Clinton falsely smear Republicans with charges of racism. Republicans then back down,” Trump continued. “Democrats then continue to push policies that are devastating to communities of color. To Hillary Clinton, and to her donors and advisors, pushing her to spread her smears and her lies about decent people, I have three words. I want you to hear these words, and remember these words: Shame On You.”

According to Trump, Clinton is trying to shift the conversation because she can’t defend her record. “What does she do when she can’t defend her record? She lies, she smears, she paints decent Americans as racists,” he said. “She bullies voters, who only want a better future, and tries to intimidate them out of voting for change.”

The Republican presidential nominee was referring to a new“>welcomed Trump’s statement. In a statement to Jewish Insider, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “It’s a good sign and an important, clear rejection of hate. We hope that in the months ahead Mr. Trump and all the candidates will live up to this welcome statement.”

Former KKK leader David Duke to run for Senate


David Duke, the anti-Semitic former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, announced he will run for Senate in Louisiana.

Duke is a registered Republican, and will run in that party’s primary for the Louisiana Senate seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter, according to the Associated Press. Duke served one term as a state representative more than 20 years ago and has run unsuccessfully since then for higher office.

“Thousands of special interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera,” Duke said in a message announcing his candidacy. “The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate, one man in the Congress who will defend their rights and heritage.”

Duke supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, which has landed Trump in controversy. Earlier this year, Trump demurred when asked to disavow Duke’s support, before disavowing it — claiming he had misunderstood the original question.

Trump ‘totally disavows’ David Duke, condemns anti-Semitism


Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, on Thursday disavowed anti-Semitic comments made by white supremacist leader David Duke, saying, ”Anti-Semitism has no place in our society.”

On Wednesday, Duke blamed Republican Jews for attempting to block Trump from becoming the nominee during his radio program. “I think these Jewish extremists have made a terribly crazy miscalculation because all they’re going to be doing by doing a ‘Never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, their anti-American, anti-American majority position. … They’re going to push people more into an awareness that the neocons are the problem, that these Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem, and the reason why America is not great.”

Earlier Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “>NY Times Thursday afternoon, Trump said he “totally disavows” Duke comments about “Jewish extremists.”

“Antisemitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” said Trump.

The ADL welcomed Trump’s statement. “While no one should associate Mr. Trump’s own views with David Duke’s hatred, it is vital for political leaders to use their bully pulpit to speak out against bigotry,” ADL’s Greenblatt said in a follow-up statement. “We think it is important that Mr. Trump denounced the anti-Semitism of David Duke and has made clear that he disavows anti-Semitism.”

Iran’s Zarif defends Holocaust cartoon contest by invoking U.S. acceptance of KKK


Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the regime’s decision to host a cartoon festival on the Holocaust in June 2016 by schooling the United States of America on hate.

In an interview with the 

Two hate crimes in Los Angeles spur strong Jewish response


Two hate crime incidents involving spray-painted, anti-Semitic graffiti occurred within the span of less than a week earlier this month — one at Adat Shalom and the other at Pacific Palisades Charter High School. 

On March 9, synagogue leaders at Adat Shalom, a West Los Angeles Conservative congregation, discovered the word “Nazi” spray-painted in two places on the synagogue’s exterior walls. 

And on March 13, the discovery of graffiti disparaging Jews as well as Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and gays at Palisades Charter High School and on adjacent city property shook up the local community to such a degree that hundreds of people responded on March 14 in protest. 

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has identified a suspect in its investigation of the first incident, although no arrest had been made as of press time, according to LAPD Det. Robyn Salazar. Meanwhile, police have arrested two teenage Palisades Charter High School students believed to be responsible for the tagging at the school and surrounding area, according to Los Angeles School Police Department (LASDP) Sgt. Cheron Bartee. LAPD declined to provide the name of either suspect.

The arrest of the teenager — whom police declined to name — followed a peaceful demonstration at the school that drew hundreds of participants, said Bartee, who is Jewish. She described Monday’s protest, which was covered in various media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, as “300 peaceful protestors voicing their concerns about racism.”

Bartee said there is the possibility that more arrests in connection with the Palisades incident will follow. 

“[The suspect] admitted to spray-painting these racial slurs at night. And he claims there are two additional suspects outstanding,” she said. 

The vandalism, Bartee said, “had stuff against Jews, Black and Hispanic people,” as well as Asians and the LGBT community.

Matt Davidson, executive director at Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist synagogue located about a half-mile from the school, said the temple alerted its community about what took place at the school via a mass email with the subject line: “No tolerance for hate.” The synagogue, in response to the incident, increased its security, he said. 

“We’re just going to be extra vigilant, making sure we’re secure and safe here, like we always are,” he said. 

Kehillat Israel board of trustees member Laurie Haller was involved with an effort to clean up the spray-painted words in the Palisades, according to Davidson. 

“We sent [the email] out yesterday morning,” Davidson said. “I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to create more [concern]. I want to make sure our congregation feels safe and secure, and I didn’t want to be alarmist, but we wanted to commend Laurie for being quick to act and make the statement that there is no tolerance for that.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), meanwhile, was notified of both incidents, according to its regional director, Amanda Susskind. She praised the response of law enforcement with regards to both incidents, and she said the ADL is planning to offer educational resources to students at Pacific Palisades in response to what took place there. 

“One of the short-term responses seems to be a rally,” Susskind said, referring to the demonstration that unfolded Monday at the school. “In the longer term, we will be providing resources for training — resources and assembly programs.”

Bartee, who has been working with LASDP for 17 years, said she is disappointed by what occurred in the Palisades and hopes it was caused not by hate but by immaturity. 

“It’s never nice to see these kinds of things. Unfortunately, with this, I think a lot of times the kids are just being immature and stupid and aren’t meaning to be this hateful. I think it’s just being stupid and immature,” the LASDP sergeant said. “I’m hoping.” 

Adat Shalom Rabbinic Intern Nolan Lebovitz, who is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, said the incident at Adat Shalom reinforced the fact that anti-Semitism still exists, even in unexpected places.

“As a grandchild of four survivors of the Shoah, it is shocking and horrifying to see the word ‘Nazi’ painted on the walls of our beloved Adat Shalom Synagogue. At the same time, it is a reminder that hate in general, and anti-Semitism in particular, is still a reality — even in West L.A. in 2016,” Lebovitz said in an email. “I am proud to say that the Jewish People is stronger than graffiti, our Torah is more powerful than hate. I invite the entire Jewish community to join with Adat Shalom and live their Judaism proudly in defiance of such hatred.”

The graffiti at both locations has since been cleaned up. 

“We wanted to get rid of it,” Adat Shalom President Liz Bar-El said, “and move on.”

Greenblatt: Trump helped racism raise its head


Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and his failure to outright condemn white supremacists and the KKK has mainstreamed their racist views into the political conversation, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt suggested on Sunday.

“We are already seeing racism raise its head, right now, through social media and other means. We have also seen white supremacists express some degree of delight and satisfaction that their recruiting is up during this campaign,” Greenblatt told Israel’s Channel 1 on Sunday.

“The fact of the matter is, his failure to reject and repudiate their racism, their anti-Semitism, and their hate, with the same clear terms that he has used in the presidential debates, that he has used in his rallies, or that he has used about the other candidates, that lack of symmetry in the way he talks about white supremacists and racists, has helped to mainstream them into this political conversation,” he explained. “And that’s what we find so problematic.”

Asked if he’s worried about a Trump presidency, Greenblatt said, “I have no idea what a Trump presidency would bring. But I certainly don’t like what a Trump candidacy is bringing out in terms of these white supremacists.”

Trump addressed the issue during a Sunday morning interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “How many times do I have to reject? I’ve rejected David Duke. I’ve rejected the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan from the time I’m five years old I rejected them,” he told host John Dickerson. ” I say to myself, how many times do I have to reject or disavow?”

“I don’t like any group of hate. Hate groups are not for me,” Trump added.

Donald Trump cites Jewish groups in bizarre explanation for not disavowing KKK


Donald Trump, entering the fifth day of defending himself against his equivocal response on CNN to an endorsement by David Duke, said the former Ku Klux Klan head was a “bad man.”

The characterization Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is about as direct as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has been so far in disavowing the white supremacist who expressed support for him.

But Trump had to add a wrinkle. Having previously blamed a faulty earpiece for failing to condemn Duke, he this time said he couldn’t just come out and condemn groups generically because — what if they were Jewish?

 

“And the one question that was asked of me on CNN — he’s having a great time — he talked about ‘groups of people.’ And I don’t like to disavow groups if I don’t know who they are. I mean, you could have the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in ‘groups,’” he said.

 

 

The thing is, though, in the original encounter on CNN Sunday, Trump clearly understood that interviewer Jake Tapper was not referring to just any groups, but to white supremacist groups in particular. How do we know this? Because Trump said so.

“Well just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay, I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know, I don’t know. Did he endorse me, or what’s going on, because, you know I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists. So you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about,” he said.

Tapper pushed back, saying, “But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don’t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say, unequivocally, that you condemn them and you don’t want their support?”

Trump again demurred. “Well, I have to look at the group. I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of groups, I will do research on them, and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. But you may have groups in there that are totally fine and that would be unfair, so give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know,” he said.

Even in the unlikely event Trump had never heard the term “white supremacist,'” “white” coupled with “supremacist” is kind of self-explanatory. Now, Trump is making it even weirder by suggesting that when Tapper said “white supremacist,” the candidate heard “Jewish philanthropy.”

Hillary Clinton draws contrast with Donald Trump on tone


Hillary Clinton celebrated a resounding victory in the Democratic presidential primary on Super Tuesday at a hometown rally at the Jacob Javits Center in New York on Wednesday.

In a pivot to the general election, Hillary drew a stark contrast between herself and Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, on tone and vision for the future. “This is one of the most consequential presidential elections we’ve had in a long time,” Hillary told the crowd of over 5,000. “The other side has a very different vision of what our country should look like and how we should treat each other.”

Without mentioning Trump and Rubio by name, Hillary decried the rhetoric, the finger pointing and insults flying between the candidates in the Republican primary. “Maybe some people think that’s entertaining. But I can tell you, this is serious business,” she stated. “It really matters when you run for president what you say. And, boy, does it matter you are the president about what you say and how the rest of the world hears you.”

“We are going to wage a campaign that is about the future and about bringing us all together,” Hillary promised.

Also speaking at the rally was NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who assailed Trump for not condemning David Duke and the KKK at the first given opportunity. “I am sorry, I can’t this out of my system: why did it take Donald Trump so long to figure out that it’s the right thing to do to condemn the KKK? Why did it take him so long to think that David Duke was not a good person?” de Blasio asked rhetorically.

Attendees, consisting of labor union workers and local supporters, were upbeat about the chances of Hillary taking a big lead in the Democratic race against Bernie Sanders and the prospects of her winning the general against a Republican like Trump. “We have this one shot to put up the strongest candidate to stop the party of Trump, Cruz and Rubio,” Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, told the crowd.

“Hillary is the best placed to fight Donald Trump. I think she will be able to call him out over his rhetoric and, ultimately, she is going to win,” Oz Ben-Ami, a Manhattan resident and a supporter of Hillary, told Jewish Insider.

Ben-Ami said that while Trump’s recent comments on Israel or refusal to outright condemn the KKK don’t seem to affect his support in the Republican primary, in the general election, “a lot of voters are not going to give him that kind of support.”

Meet the ‘Jewish Batman’ who saved the KKK from an Anaheim mob


Is Brian Levin a hero? It depends who you ask.

For three long minutes on Saturday, Levin was all that stood between an angry, violent mob and some Ku Klux Klan demonstrators in Anaheim, California, in Levin’s retelling of the episode.

A former New York Police Department officer who is now director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, Levin was on hand to document the KKK rally, as he has many other extremist demonstrations over the years.

But he quickly found himself a part of the action when a violent melee greeted the arrival of the KKK members in their oversized SUV.

“There was a mob stomping on a Klansman who had fallen or was pushed to the ground,” Levin said in his breathless recollection of the confrontation, which made headlines around the country after three people were stabbed and 13 arrested.

“There were football player-sized people kicking him in the face and the abdomen. I crouched over him so he wouldn’t be kicked, and I said, ‘Do not hit this man.’”

When asked how he was able to hold off the assailants, who he said were wielding a wooden plank and a metal rod, Levin said he used the authoritative voice he honed during five years of service on the NYPD in the late 1980s.

“I don’t know if I would call it heroics,” Levin said.

White supremacist website Daily Stormer dubbed him the “Jewish Batman.”

Levin is no fan of the Klan, but this wasn’t the first time he has come to the aid of a white supremacist in distress, he said, recalling a similar incident in 1998 in Warren, Ohio.

After the cops arrived and order was restored, someone asked one of the KKK members how it felt to have his life saved by a Jewish guy.

“He said thank you,” Levin said.

Super Tuesday 2016: How each candidate hopes to trump Trump


Heading into Super Tuesday, the most significant political act may not have been a rabble rousing speech or a surprise endorsement, but a tweet.

On the eve of the biggest day in the presidential primaries for both parties– with 11 states apiece and about a quarter of all delegates up for grabs  — Hillary Rodham Clinton retweeted a blunt plea by her Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to stop Donald Trump, who he called a “hatemonger.”

Echoing the message were Trump’s leading Republican rivals, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as well as Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 candidate — who all issued statements.

The extraordinary unity of opposition to Trump, within and across party lines, was galvanized by the real estate billionaire’s failure to unequivocally disavow the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Yet, Trump remains the GOP front-runner, and Super Tuesday is largely about who will emerge to challenge him.

Here’s what each candidate hope his or her campaign to have achieved by Wednesday.

Donald Trump

Trump said he plans on sweeping the Super Tuesday contests, but a rout may not be in his best interests. If he cedes Texas to Cruz and if Ohio Gov. John Kasich performs well — he hopes to come in second behind Trump in Massachusetts — Trump keeps them in the race and keeps his opponents from uniting behind a single anti-Trump candidate. Rubio, who has been garnering most of the GOP establishment endorsements, would like to be the last man standing, but if he is still feeling the elbows of Cruz and Kasich by mid-March, Trump’s ascension looks inevitable.

Ted Cruz

Cruz faces the most immediate challenge. Texas is one of the states running a primary on Tuesday, and Cruz has suggested he would drop out if Trump bests him in the state he represents as senator. Cruz started strong by winning in Iowa, but has not been able to pull off even second place in the other three February nominating states. He pulled ahead of Trump in Texas polling in recent days after running neck and neck for weeks.

Marco Rubio

Rubio has shown promise in the four February contests by coming in second behind Trump in Nevada and South Carolina, and a strong third in Iowa, where Trump came in second and Cruz won. (Rubio floundered in New Hampshire.) But he is under pressure to show he can win a state, and has been campaigning hard in the South, where he has the backing of South Carolina’s popular governor, Nikki Haley. Eight of the 13 states in GOP primaries Tuesday are in the South.

A Southern win could boost Rubio’s numbers in Florida, which goes to the polls on March 15, and where Trump is working hard to kill Rubio’s chances once and for all. Polls now show Trump leading Rubio in Florida by double digits.

John Kasich

Kasich is not counting on any wins on Tuesday, but hopes to turn in respectable enough performances to last through March 8, when Michigan goes to the polls, and March 15, when Ohio votes. He is counting on wins in both states. In Michigan, Kasich is running fourth in polls, and in Ohio, his home state, second. Trump is leading in both states.

Ben Carson

Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon, trails last among the five Republicans most polls, but is sticking out the race for now.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders’ Vermont is among the states going to the Democratic polls on Tuesday, and it may be the only state where he pulls out a win. He has campaigned hard in recent days in the states where he appears to have the best chance of an upset, and where he can appeal to the struggling whites who are most receptive to his messaging about income inequality: Massachusetts, Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Sanders’ best chance is in Oklahoma, where he is in a virtual dead heat with Clinton. If he takes the state, he could credibly claim a win in the South, where Clinton otherwise is dominating.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton leads substantially throughout the South. A Clinton sweep of the eight southern states, where African-Americans and Latinos are major components of the Democratic vote, would help make her point that she is the better Democratic candidate to inspire minority voters in the general election.

Clinton also appears to be leading Sanders in Massachusetts; a loss in a neighboring state could wound Sanders, who became the first Jewish presidential candidate to win a primary last month when he won New Hampshire.

Farrakhan praises Trump for not taking Jewish money, repeats claim that Jews behind 9/11


Donald Trump won praise from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for not taking Jewish money in his quest for the White House.

Farrakhan, who has made frequent anti-Semitic comments, lauded Trump during a sermon Sunday in Chicago, according to the Anti-Defamation League website the following day.

The praise from Farrakhan comes on the heels of a controversy in which the Republican presidential front-runner failed to immediately disavow the endorsement of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

According to the ADL, Farrakhan said the billionaire Trump is “the only mem­ber who has stood in front of Jew­ish com­mu­nity and said I don’t want your money. Anytime a man can say to those who con­trol the politics of Amer­ica, ‘I don’t want your money,’ that means you can’t con­trol me. And they can­not afford to give up con­trol of the pres­i­dents of the United States.”

Farrakhan, 82, stopped short of a full endorsement, however, stating: “Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m look­ing at.”

The ADL said Farrakhan’s sermon also blamed Jews, whom he referred to as the “Synagogue of Satan,” for the Iraq War and 9/11 terror attacks.

Referring to former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Farrakhan said, “These are people sitting in the Pentagon, planning the destruction of Muslim nations.”

“Wolfowitz had 10 years now, to plan how they’re gonna clean out the Mid­dle East and take over those Mus­lim nations. They needed another Pearl Har­bor,” Farrakhan said, according to the ADL. “They needed some event that was cataclysmic, that would make the Amer­i­can peo­ple rise up, ready for war … they plot­ted a false flag oper­a­tion, and when a gov­ern­ment is so rot­ten that they will kill inno­cent peo­ple to accom­plish a polit­i­cal objec­tive, you are not deal­ing with a human …”

Farrakhan continued, “George Bush, and those devils, Satans around him. They plot­ted 9/11. Ain’t no Mus­lim took con­trol of no plane.”

Blaming the Jews for 9/11 was nothing new for Farrakhan, who said in a 2015 sermon that “it is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks.”

Anonymous begins to reveal names of alleged KKK members


Last week, a group identifying itself as the online hacktivist collective “Anonymous” vowed to release contact information identifying 1,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan, timed a year after the group first began targeting the KKK in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, protests.

On Monday, the group followed through, publishing its first batch of information: an (unverified) list of 57 phone numbers and 23 email addresses allegedly belonging to KKK members. Multiple Twitter commenters questioned the veracity of the information shortly after its release, reporting that many of the numbers belong to businesses with no clear link to the Klan.

Anonymous says it will release a full list of 1,000 names, gleaned from various Twitter accounts it claims to have hacked, on Nov. 5.

Keep reading the story at Huffington Post.

Suspected Kansas City JCC shooter says he targeted Jews


The white supremacist suspect in the shootings of three people at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City said he wanted to “be sure I killed some Jews before I died.”

Frazier Glenn Miller, who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross, told the Kansas City Star in an interview published Sunday that he decided in March to carry out the April attacks on two Jewish sites in the city after he became so sick with emphysema that he thought he would soon die.

“I was convinced I was dying then,” Miller, of Aurora, Mo., told the newspaper in his first published interview since the April 13 attacks.

He went on to say, “I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died.”

Miller is suspected of killing William Lewis Corporon, a retired physician, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kan., and then shooting to death Terri LaManno, a Catholic mother of two, in the parking lot at Village Shalom, a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away, where she was visiting her mother.

None of the three victims were Jewish.

Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, told the newspaper that he conducted reconnaissance missions of the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in the days before the shootings.

“Because of what I did, Jews feel less secure,” he said. “Every Jew in the world knows my name now and what I did. As for these … white people who are accomplices of the Jews, who attend their meetings and contribute to their fundraising efforts and who empower the Jews, they are my enemy, too. A lot of white people who associate with Jews, go to Jewish events and support them know that they’re not safe either, thanks to me.”

He told the newspaper that he regretted killing “the young white boy.”

Miller was charged in April with capital murder and first-degree premeditated murder. The capital charge carries a death sentence; the premeditated murder charge could result in life in prison.

He had served three years in prison on weapons charges and for plotting the assassination of Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

3 slain civil rights workers to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 50 years after their deaths.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner are among 19 recipients of the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States. President Obama will present the awards at the White House on Nov. 24.

The three young men were shot by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the beginning of Freedom Summer, a historic voter registration drive in which hundreds of people worked to register blacks to vote.

Chaney was African-American; Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish.

Other Jewish recipients of this year’s medals include Abner Mikva, Robert Solow and Stephen Sondheim.

Mikva, a former federal judge and Illinois congressman, mentored Obama as a young lawyer and often made Obama’s case to the Jewish community after he launched his political career. He also served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.

Solow received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987. His research in the 1950s through the 1970s transformed the field, laying the groundwork for much of modern economics.

Sondheim, one of the country’s most influential theater composers and lyricists, has won eight Grammy Awards, eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

 

Gov’t shutdown bad for Jews, but also bad for Klan


First, the bad news: As is the case for most other Americans, the government shutdown is bad for Jews.

The Forward reports:

For Jewish organizations dealing daily with federally funded programs, the shutdown’s impact could be much more than a scheduling nuisance.

“The longer this goes on, the greater the impact will be,” said William Daroff, vice president for public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America. He explained that agencies relying on government funding for their programs, mainly those treating elderly and people in need in the community, can shift funds for a while to cover for the lack of government dollars. But the longer the shutdown continues, the harder this task becomes. There is also no certainty that the government will cover retroactively these funds, although in past shutdowns that has been the practice. In a memo to federation on October 1, Daroff warned that “impact on the programs and services that Federations and affiliated agencies provide may be drastic and severe.”

Now, the good news: As it is for most other Americans, the government shutdown is also bad for the Ku Klux Klan.

The New York Times reports:

A Ku Klux Klan rally became a casualty of the U.S. government shutdown on Tuesday when National Parks officials told the white supremacist group the event would have to be canceled.

The KKK had been granted a permit for what it dubbed a First Amendment demonstration on Saturday at Gettysburg National Military Park, but park officials said it could not take place because all National Parks have been closed.

Finally, a feel-good government shutdown story (until you read to the part about all National Parks being closed).

Security prep for Memphis Klan rally seen as national model


Cantor Ricky Kampf descends from the bimah, adjusts his prayer shawl and strides up the aisle, cutting through the cavernous sanctuary to greet the familiar out-of-towner.

“Y’all here for the shindig?” Kampf says at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue here as he grasps the hand of Paul Goldenberg, the burly former cop who runs the Secure Community Network, the security arm of the national Jewish community.

The shindig in question is a Ku Klux Klan rally planned for later that day, March 30, in downtown Memphis. For months, Goldenberg has been in constant contact with the Jewish community leadership in this Mississippi River port city, as well as with local and federal law enforcement, in readying for any possible attack.

It's a security template that SCN, an arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, wants to replicate across the United States.

“It’s not just dealing with the immediate challenge, but as we do in Jewish life, we try and prepare for the next situation, how to deal with these things on a regular basis, so they’re prepared for it,” Steve Hoffman, the co-chairman of SCN, tells JTA. “The best security preparation in the Jewish world is vigilance without panic.”

A persuasive, kinetic presence, Goldenberg crisscrosses the country meeting with Jewish community leaders and local law enforcement. But training in Memphis is accelerated because of the Klan rally, a protest of the decision to rename parks that until recently commemorated Confederate heroes — notably Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the Klan.

Ahead of the rally, leaders from every Memphis Jewish institution receive a crash course in security training, including presentations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Memphis Police Department's SWAT team: Develop a communications plan, secure exits and entrances, and above all, be aware.

“The Jewish community and any community, faith-based organizations, we see them as part of the homeland security enterprise,” Bill Flynn, a deputy assistant secretary of DHS, tells JTA.

In the end, the Klan rally is a bust. Barely 60 Klansmen show up on the rain-soaked steps of Shelby County courthouse. A leader uses a megaphone to address klatches of men and women — some robed in white and red, others not — who respond with shouts of “White Power!” It's over in less than an hour.

But law enforcement officials still have reason to be concerned — not with the Klan itself, which makes a point these days of being law abiding — but that an outlier attracted to the rally could break off, drive 20 minutes east and target one of the seven synagogues in Memphis.

“The United States is into a four-year resurgence both of anti-government and white supremacist groups,” said Mark Pitcavage, the director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League. “This resurgence started in early 2009 following the election of Barack Obama and the economic crisis. There has been an upsurge in violent activity as a result of that.”

A report published in January by Arie Perliger, the director of terrorism studies at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, showed violent attacks emanating from the far right rising from below 200 per year at the turn of the century to more than 300 by the middle of the decade. Attacks spiked in 2008, Obama's election year, to more than 550 before dropping to 300 in 2010. In 2011, the number rose again, to more than 350.

In Memphis law enforcement circles, the threat is described in shorthand. “West Memphis” refers to the murder of two policemen in the Arkansas town across the river in 2010 by two affiliates of the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement; “Washington state” is the placing of a bomb at a Martin Luther King Day parade site in Spokane in 2011; “Schmidt” is Richard Schmidt, a Toledo, Ohio, man arrested in December in possession of a small armory and a hit list including the names of leaders of the NAACP and the Jewish federation in Detroit.

In each of the cases, and in many others, the attackers are loners likely influenced by the rhetoric of extremist groups.

“In general, the FBI considers lone offenders to pose the most significant threat of violence within the extremist movement,” Eric Sorensen, an analyst with the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said in a March 13 conference call with the Memphis Jewish community leadership.

On the Saturday morning of the Klan rally, Goldenberg surveys Memphis synagogues, nodding approvingly at recommendations heeded — guards at each exit — and groaning at those ignored. A playground remains unprotected by shrubbery or a fence.

“We don’t want people seeing our kids,” Goldenberg says.

A patrol car checks streets near the synagogues. Fathers in yarmulkes walk their toddlers to Sabbath services seemingly unperturbed by plans for an extremist rally. A woman at a synagogue entrance holds out to Goldenberg the panic button hanging from her neck; one squeeze and the police are alerted, just as Goldenberg had recommended.

“Good work,” he says, and she shoots back a gratified grin.

Goldenberg says that communal officials who graduate from the training he organizes with law enforcement officials are “force multipliers.” John Cohen, the deputy counterterrorism coordinator at DHS, says that making a targeted ethnic or religious community a partner in its own protection is “our basic model” of homeland protection.

Such partnerships, however, make civil liberties groups nervous.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said that urging civilians to report suspicious activities could lead to abuses that it contends are already inherent in law enforcement reporting of such activities. Programs encouraging such reporting make it “far more likely that both the police and the public will continue overreporting the commonplace behavior of their neighbors,” the ACLU said in an analysis in January.

Even among Memphis Jews, not everyone is enamored of Goldenberg's strategy. Ronald Harkavy, a lawyer, philanthropist and community patriarch, isn't happy to run into Goldenberg at the Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth Congregation.

“I’m one of those who say do nothing” when the Klan comes to town, he tells Goldenberg, his accent and broad smile thick with a cold gentility. “That’s been fine for over a hundred years.”

Goldenberg shrugs and Harkavy turns away. Another congregant leans in and whispers, “We’re thankful for all you do.”

Having completed his tour of Jewish Memphis, Goldenberg heads downtown to meet the Memphis Police Department’s liaison to the Jewish community, Stuart Frisch, an Israel Defense Forces veteran. Frisch ferries Goldenberg to a white van functioning as a command center. Goldenberg leaps in and admires a monitor feeding images from public and privately owned security cameras. The streets are empty.

The police ensure the Klansmen do not encounter anti-Klan protesters. In 1998, violent clashes at another rally traumatized the city. Memories of that day took up several pages in the morning edition of the Commercial Appeal, Memphis' main daily.

Between beat cops and SWAT team members, there is more security personnel — much of it African-American — than there are Klansmen. The megaphone-audio is so poor, the rain driving down so hard, that much of the grand wizard’s speech — apart from the punctuations of “White Power!” — is reduced to a muffled “wawawa.”

Goldenberg and his friend head out in search of lunch. The day is a success: The Jewish community in Memphis is aware and engaged with law enforcement. The Klan have come and gone. No one is hurt.

Breaking off from a dissipating anti-Klan rally, an African-American woman strides through the rain, arms outstretched.

“Wash away the sin!” she cries out. “Wash away the stench!”

Michigan St. student says attack at party was anti-Semitism


A Jewish student at Michigan State University said he was attacked at an off-campus party in what he is calling a hate crime.

Just before the assault, which broke his jaw, Zach Tennen said his attackers asked him if he was Jewish, according to reports.

Tennen, 19, a resident of suburban Detroit, said he answered in the affirmative. He told WDIV-TV in Detroit that his attackers also “were making Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK.”

Tennen was knocked unconscious during the attack, which took place early Sunday morning near MSU’s East Lansing campus. The assailants stapled his mouth shut through his gums.

Others at the party watched as Tennen called a taxi to take him to the hospital. His mouth was surgically wired shut.

His family has called the Anti-Defamation League regarding the assault. Tennen plans to return to classes in a week.

The university in an email statement referred all questions about the police investigation to the East Lansing Police Department, as the incident occurred off campus.

“Michigan State University’s Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student who said he was assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs,” the statement also said.

Canadian Jewish Congress seeks charges against Muslim website


A Jewish group is seeking hate crimes charges against a Toronto-based Muslim website that featured a video address by former U.S. Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Duke’s video was scrubbed April 13 from Casmo.ca, the site for the Canadian Shia Muslim Organization, but the Canadian Jewish Congress is pursuing charges under Canada’s hate crimes laws.

In its letter to police, the Canadian Jewish Congress calls for a probe of Casmo.ca, which describes itself as the “national platform of Shia Muslims in Canada.”

The CJC pointed out that the 12-minute video, in which Duke espoused conspiracy theories about “Zionist running dogs,” remained on the site for two days after it was exposed by the National Post newspaper. For a brief period on April 13, a second Duke video was posted to the site.

“The decision to remove the video two days late doesn’t hold much water,” Bernie Farber, the CJC’s CEO, told the Post. “In fact, they put up a second video and I can only assume they were getting some inside pressure, not the least of which was a police complaint.”

Duke, a former KKK grand wizard, played a key role in helping to spread the Klan through Canada.

On the site, the Canadian Shia Muslim Organization says it “supports multiculturalism” and “interfaith dialogue.”

In an editorial, the online journal The American Muslim accused the group of joining “the Muslim lunatic fringe.”

Campus hate — while down — is still a problem, wailin’ on Palin


Quiet War at UCI

We agree with the Sept 5 letter from five UCLA academics that anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism at UCLA is less severe than that at UC Irvine (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

However we commend The Journal for running [Brad] Greenberg’s review of the situation on American campuses. It was a comprehensive piece that included differing views about the problem’s severity, and was of great service to Journal readers who are concerned about the issue.

We disagree however with the professors’ strategic recommendations and the elitist tone of their letter. Minimization or denial will not solve the problem, nor will denigrating off campus groups who share concern about the immediate and long-range impact of campus anti-Zionism. The 20,000 faculty members who felt it necessary to form an organization, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) to combat imbalance and poor scholarship about the Middle East conflict certainly cannot be accused of being “amateurish,” promoting “shoddy research” and “propaganda,” and of not understanding the campus or “academic freedom.”

SPME’s roster includes highly acclaimed professors and Nobel Prize winners.

There is a crying need for united action so Jewish students and faculty can proudly support Israel, not only in Hillel buildings, but also in classrooms, faculty offices and on campus quads. Jewish campus institutions have a vital role to play in this effort, but they may be constrained by sensitive campus affiliations. Independent organizations also have an important role because they are freer to express student and faculty concerns about abuses, intimidation and propaganda-like distortions.

If the five academics collaborated with other well-intentioned groups, they would find them much more reasonable, open-minded and sophisticated than their letter implies.

Roz Rothstein, Executive Director
Roberta Seid, Education Director
StandWithUs

Palin and the Jews

In response to your recent article, “Sarah Palin and the Jews” (Sept. 5), please count me as one reader who was shocked and sickened by the nastiness and pettiness of Sarah Palin’s speech [at the Republican National Convention].

If insulting community organizers, making snide remarks about Sen. Barack Obama’s popularity and mocking the location of Obama’s acceptance speech make her presidential material, then America is in serious trouble.

Jeff Goldman
Culver City

I was shocked by your flattering treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin. After picking through the trivia and smears for substance, you conclude that she “has genuinely warm relations with her Jewish constituents … and appears to have a fondness for Israel.” However, you present no evidence that she has genuinely warm feelings about Jews or genuine fondness for Israel.

Furthermore, you brush off her wearing a Pat Buchanan button when he visited her town “as a courtesy.” Come on! Would it be acceptable for her to put a sheet over her head as a courtesy if the Ku Klux Klan paraded through her town?

James Kallis
Los Angeles

I hear Jews around America saying that they are voting for Sen. John McCain because he is good for Israel. Democrats are better for Israel than McCain could ever dream to be, but now that Gov. Sarah Palin is on McCain’s ticket, there are more pressing matters at hand.

Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.” She’s even admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much … just last year, she was quoted as saying, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. Creationism is not going to be taught from the Tanach; it will be from the New Testament — how can we allow that?

I hope that the Jews of Los Angeles will stand up against Palin so that she will not be able to continue on her path toward ruining our country.

Aimee Sax
Los Angeles

Charter School

As a retired Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle school teacher, I was elated to read about the New Los Angeles Charter School (New L.A.) that will be opening this month (“P.S. Tikkun Olam,” Aug. 29).

Given the poor academic performance and high dropout rate throughout much of the LAUSD, it is imperative that parents have meaningful options, such as New L.A., to assure that their children receive quality instruction in a safe and nurturing environment.

Unfortunately, both the LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) have misplaced priorities. LAUSD’s insular district office personnel are often insensitive to the real needs of on-site administrators, school faculties and students. Meanwhile, the teachers union (UTLA) spends much of its resources blocking sorely needed reform.

It was the union that stood in the way of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to create 100 additional charter schools in Los Angeles. Little wonder that New L.A. received almost three times as many applications as it has openings.
Anything that can topple the status quo is welcome relief. On behalf of the children of Los Angeles, todah rabbah and yasher koach to Matt Albert and his crew for putting forth the effort and accepting the risk associated with starting the New Los Angeles Charter School.

Leonard M. Solomon
Los Angeles

Singles Comic Strip

Never Mind Amy the Date (“True Confessions of an Online Dating Addict,” Sept. 5). Amy’s comic strip should get dumped. Three words sum up that inert strip: worst comic ever.

Seriously, with all of the amazing Jewish comedic minds out there in Hollywood and beyond, can’t you find one real cartoonist to create something funny? Maybe you can poach a guy from HEEB.

Erin Stack
Beverly Hills

Ed. Note: We like it. Judge for yourself.

Correction
The D.I.S.C caption in the Sept. 5 issue (page 41) should have read "Dr. John T. Knight, Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, D.I.S.C. Spine and Sports Center," instead of "Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., CEO and Founder, one of the country's preeminent neurological spinal surgeons."

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