April 20, 2019

UC Berkeley Jewish Groups Condemn Anti-Semitic Comments at Student Government Meeting

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The UC Berkeley Jewish community wrote a letter to the university community at large condemning anti-Semitic rhetoric that occurred during an April 17 Associated Students of the University California (ASUC) meeting.

The meeting focused on the ASUC Judicial Council’s decision to disqualify all candidates affiliated with the Student Action party that won seats on the student government after being censured for campaign finance violations.

According to the letter – whose signatories included UC Berkeley’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter, the Berkeley Hillel student board and J Street U at Berkeley –, one of the disqualified candidates was a Jewish student, prompting other Jewish students to voice their concerns during the meeting that “the Jewish community lost essential representation in the ASUC.”

“In the comments following, we were the only identity group whose desire to be represented was rebuked,” the letter states. “Several speakers used the opportunity to invoke anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist views as dog-whistles to target Jews, including specific Jewish students in the room.”

Two of the comments in question occurred during the public comment section. A live stream of the meeting shows someone identifying herself as a former said that her party was once disqualified from an election because “I spoke out at a pro-Palestinian rally, condemning Israel’s genocide.” After she said that, someone from the audience shouted, “Free Palestine!”

Another former senator, who was the last speaker of the public comment section, said, “I just had to talk y’all, because all I was hearing… was some white tears, some Zionists tears, some Greek tears about some disenfranchisement. Y’all don’t know what disenfranchisement even means.”

Following the public comment section, a student leader said, “So I met my first Zionist tonight. Woohoo. I’ve never met a Zionist in my life, and it is really disrespectful if you are pro-Israeli settler-colonialist in Palestine to tell a black person you are Zionist.”

She then said she was asked why she cares about the Palestinians when she isn’t a Palestinian, prompting her to reply, “It’s because the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] trains the police departments in America to kill black people. It’s because all of our [liberations] are intertwined.”

“If you align yourself with Zionists and people who are anti-Palestinian freedom and pro-Palestinian oppression, then I don’t know what to say to you,” the student leader said. “If you think you’re comfortable enough that your friends are Zionists and you won’t call them out even though you don’t believe in those ideals and you use your privilege to stay implicit in the oppression of Palestine and the oppression of settler colonized countries all across the world, I don’t know what to say to you. If you stay implicit in prison-industrial complex and prison militarization and modern day-slavery as somebody who is Zionist and you stay complicit in that and you support this, I don’t understand why.”

She proceeded to say that it was possible to be “Israeli” and “Jewish” without being “pro-Palestinian oppression” and that it was “disrespectful” for Zionists to complain about a lack of representation when “there’s a whole continent of people who suffer from the same ideals that you all uphold.”

The Jewish community letter stated they were “troubled” that the aforementioned speakers were unaware that “each member of our community has their own personal relationship with Israel and Zionism.”

“Using Zionism as a code for Judaism, and subsequently conflating this with white supremacy, is completely ignorant of how white supremacy is founded on anti-Semitism and victimizes Jews,” the letter states. “The words we heard last night mirror the anti-Semitic rhetoric of white supremacy and contribute to the oppression of Jewish people on this campus and beyond.”

Alexander Wilfert, the president of the ASUC, issued a statement on April 19 addressing the matter.

“We believe the ASUC Senate Chambers should remain a safe space for students to put forward thoughts and ideas regarding topics as long as it is done so in a respectful manner,” Wilfert said. “We do not tolerate attacks on people’s identities and communities, and I look forward to meeting with community leaders to bring our campus together.”

Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of UC Berkeley, told the Journal in an email that “there were, unfortunately, a number of highly regrettable comments made by students that were deeply hurtful and harmful for a number of identity groups” during the April 17 ASUC meeting. He then pointed the Journal to a statement from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ stating she is looking into the “disturbing expressions of bias” that occurred during the meeting.

“Even as we seek to more fully understand what was said, I want to make clear that the University’s administration condemns bias, including racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, on this campus and beyond,” Christ said. “I also understand that at the same meeting students of color provided passionate, moving comment about the extent to which they feel isolated and marginalized on this campus. This, too, is disturbing and demanding of our attention and concern.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement to the Journal via email, “This incident goes to show you that at Berkeley( and other campuses) that (1) ‘Zionist’ genuinely functions as a stand-in for ‘Jew’ in campus discourse to deflect charges of anti-Semitism, still (2) all the horrible stuff that is laid at the feet of ‘Zionists’ applies to Jews qua Jews, and (3) that there is an aggressive, consistently-applied effort to ‘white-ify’ Jews/Zionists as the first step of making y’all the uber-white supremacists.”

Cooper also called the university’s response to the matter “mealy-mouthed.”

“Memo to University administrators—you have obligation to denounce and take action against bigots—whatever their political persuasion, ideology or color of skin,” Cooper said. “Bigotry comes in all sizes and its about time that the UC Administrators stopped coddling anti-Semites of a particular persuasion. Otherwise anti-Semitic intimidation, bullying and worse will follow!”

The full live stream of the meeting can be seen below:

DOE Asked to See If UNC-Duke Grant Went Toward Anti-Israel Conference

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Rep. George Holding (R-Ga.) asked the Department of Education (DOE), in an April 15 letter, to investigate if a $235,000 federal grant went toward an anti-Israel conference that was held at the University of North Carolina in partnership with Duke University.

On April 12, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz issued an apology after a video came to light of rapper Tamer Nafer singing at the conference “I’m in love with a Jew” at the Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities conference from March 22-24 at UNC. The conference was co-sponsored by the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, which had received a $235,000 grant in 2018.

Holding argued in his letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that “the conference had a radical anti-Israeli bias.”

“Examination of the official program reveals that several of the conference’s speakers are actively involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” Holding wrote. “Prior to the event, local religious and community organizations, academics and citizens wrote the universities expressing concerns that the conference lacked balance and appeared designed to promote a radical agenda. Apparently these concerns were ignored, with no mainstream speakers or panelists included in the three-day conference.”

Holding added, “If these reports are accurate, I have difficulty understanding why tax dollars should be spent on such an activity.”

Holding then listed a series of questions, including whether or not the DOE has policies that prevents grants from going toward “organizations promoting a biased anti-Israeli agenda,” if any of the presentations promoted the BDS movement and/or glorified “acts of violence” and if any of the grant money went toward the conference.

“If the reports of extensive anti-Israeli bias are true, is that grounds to revoke the remainder the federal grant awarded to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies?” Holding asked.

Katie Younger, director of Global Relations at UNC Global, told the Journal in an email that $5,000 from the grant was used toward the conference.

DOE Press Secretary Liz Hill told the Journal in a statement via email, “We have received the Congressman’s letter and are reviewing it.”

More in-depth coverage of the conference can be found here.

H/T: Washington Free Beacon

Elan Carr Calls Out BDS: ‘Hatred of the Jewish State Is Hatred of the Jewish People’

Elan Carr, the recently appointed State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, criticized the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement during an April 16 press conference for promulgating “hatred of the Jewish people.”

Carr was asked by a reporter if he viewed the BDS movement as anti-Semitic rather than just criticism of the Israeli government.

“If there is an organized movement to economically strangle the state of Israel, that is anti-Semitic, and the administration’s gone on the record as being opposed unequivocally to the BDS movement,” Carr said. “And the idea that somehow there can be movements organized to deny Israel its legitimacy and not to allow Israel to participate in economic commerce in the world, sure that is [anti-Semitic].”

“Hatred of the Jewish state is hatred of the Jewish people, and that’s something that’s very clear and that is our policy,” Carr added.

In the Journal’s February 8 issue cover story, Carr made similar comments to the Journal regarding the BDS movement.

“The idea that Israel should be singled out for disparate treatment and should be subjected to boycotts and to demonization is anti-Semitism,” Carr said. “An obsessive hatred of the Jewish state is nothing more than an obsessive hate for the Jewish people.”

He also told the Journal on the matter of anti-Zionism that “anyone who seeks to deny the Jewish people that form of expression is seeking to deny the Jewish people the ability to express themselves as Jews, and that is anti-Semitic.”

H/T: Jerusalem Post

UNC Chancellor ‘Heartbroken’ Over Anti-Semitic Song at Anti-Israel Conference

Photo from GoodFreePhotos.

University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement on April 12 that he was “heartbroken” over an anti-Semitic song that was performed at a joint UNC-Duke University conference in March about the Gaza Strip.

The event occurred from March 22-24 on UNC’s campus; filmmaker Ami Horowitz attended the conference on March 22 and caught audio of various attendees promulgating the anti-Semitic trope that Jewish money wields enormous power in politics as well as one attendee spreading the falsehood that Israel forcibly sterilized Ethiopian refugees. Horowitz also asked an unidentified professor on camera about the recent uptick in blacks committing hate crimes against Jews in New York City, prompting the professor to respond, “Blacks have a lot of… reason to be angry at Jews now.”

But what has received the most attention from Horowitz’s video was a performance during the conference by the rapper Tamer Nafer, who tells the audience before the song, “I need your help. I cannot be anti-Semitic alone.” Nafer then tells the crowd to think of Mel Gibson during the song, not Beyonce or Rihanna. Gibson infamously ranted during his DUI arrest in 2006 that “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” and shouted “f*** Jews!”

Nafer can be seen singing to the audience, “I fell in love with a Jew… her skin is white and my skin is brown, she was going up up and I was going down.”

Horowitz also notes at the end of the video that the conference received a federal grant that totaled almost $250,000.

Guskiewicz said in an April 12 statement, “A performance during a recent conference held on our campus contained disturbing and hateful language. Like many members of our community, I am heartbroken and deeply offended that this performance happened.”

“I stand steadfast against anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms,” Guskiewicz said. “The Carolina spirit is not about hateful language that divides us, but about civil discourse that advances ideas and knowledge. We must continue to aspire together to that ideal.”

Duke University President Vincent E. Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth said in a joint statement on April 11, “Anti-Semitism is one of the great scourges of modern life. Its resurgence, as demonstrated by the worldwide increase in hate crimes and incidents, is deeply troubling and should be of great concern to any civil society.”

“Whether it occurs on our campus, in our community, through graffiti, rallies or concerts, in conference rooms or courtrooms, we must all speak out forcefully against actions and statements that target and threaten members of our Jewish community,” they said.

A three part-series at The Tower detailed how the UNC-Duke conference “whitewashes Hamas” while singling out Israel. Horowitz’s full video can be seen below:

As recently as this week, anti-Semitic flyers were found in the campus library.

Anti-Semitic Fliers Found at University of North Carolina

Students study in Davis Library at University of North Carolina

(JTA) — Several anti-Semitic fliers were found on bookshelves and tables in the library at the University of North Carolina.

The fliers include references to “an evil Jewish plot” and said “do everything you can to fight the silent covert Jewish attempt to enslave and kill good Americans,” according to the UNC Hillel.

They were discovered this week, the Daily Tar Heel student newspaper reported.

“I am extremely disappointed and appalled that anyone would write these abhorrent messages and direct them toward members of our Jewish community,” UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement sent Wednesday to the campus community. “This behavior conflicts with the University’s long-standing commitment to fostering an environment where all students, faculty and staff can be free from harassment.”

The campus Hillel said in a statement: “We are disgusted by the vile and hateful rhetoric on these flyers. The language is reminiscent of centuries-old, anti-Semitic rhetoric that incited the murder of thousands of Jews in pogroms throughout Eastern Europe and the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. This racist, repulsive language has no place on any campus or in any society.”

The statement said the UNC administration “has been responsive to the concerns of the Jewish community.”

Two weeks ago, the university’s Unsung Founders Memorial and an art installment outside the Hanes Art Center were vandalized with “racist and other deplorable language.”

Florida Senate Dem Leader Supports Anti-Semitism Bill After Opposing It

Screenshot from Twitter.

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson announced on April 10 that she would be supporting an anti-Semitism bill in the Florida state legislature after she voted against it on April 8.

The bill would require schools in Florida to treat anti-Semitism the same way they would treat racism; included in the definition is anti-Semitism is dual loyalty tropes.

Gibson was the lone state senator to vote against the bill while it was in committee on April 8, arguing that the bill provided “special protections” to Jews, but not to other religions, meaning that the bill was meant to be divisive. The next day, Gibson doubled down by issuing a statement saying that the bill “fights the wrong battle, and targets the wrong enemy.”

After facing bipartisan criticism on the matter, Gibson held a brief press conference on April 10 announcing her support for the bill after meeting with Jewish lawmakers and Jewish organizations.

“It was never my intent to insult in any way the Jewish community or my Jewish colleagues,” Gibson said. She also said that there were “seemingly deliberate efforts to try and paint me into a corner and paint me as someone that I am not” and that the bill was “very confusing.”

Gibson didn’t take any questions.

State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), who was one of the sponsors of the bill, tweeted out a statement calling Gibson’s press conference “disingenuous”:

Fine told the Journal in a phone interview that he was “optimistic” that the bill would pass the state legislature.

“I think it’s even more important that we make a strong statement that this is not acceptable and we pass this,” Fine said.

Rep. Omar Featured on Newsweek Cover: ‘Changing the Conversation on Israel’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is being featured on the cover of Newsweek’s April 19 issue, with the story talking about how she is “changing the conversation about Israel.”

The Newsweek story, which was published online on April 9, states that Omar was frequently targeted by Republicans in speeches during the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs) conference in March for “using language easily regarded as anti-Semitic.” The article refers to AIPAC has having a “formidable political operation” that has promulgated “a decidedly unequal view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The article goes on to describe Omar “as the most voluble—and visible—of Israel’s critics.”

“She appears to embrace the role of a political provocateur, particularly when it comes to foreign policy,” the article states. “Omar articulates a view that is rarely heard from a sitting member of Congress, one that has been forged from her first-hand experiences of war and exile.”

Among those coming to Omar’s defense in the piece are Nihad Awad, the executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), stating that Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are “not trying to fit into the historical Washington mindset, which has been unjustly pro-Israel for decades. And they represent a whole new generation of progressive activists nationwide.”

Some Democrats are concerned about Omar, as the Newsweek article notes that the Democratic Majority for Israel was recently formed by veteran Democrats to support pro-Israel Democrats in response to concerns “that the influence of Omar and other progressives will erode support for Israel within the Democratic Party.”

The Newsweek article touts “Omar and her progressive supporters” as “the first credible challenge to” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies and the “occupation of the West Bank.”

“Their successful effort to produce a resolution that condemns all forms of bigotry, instead of only Omar and anti-Semitism, was no small accomplishment, given the strength of Israel’s supporters among Democrats,” the article states, referencing the March resolution condemning various forms of bigotry.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “Anyway they spin it, Ilhan Omar is an anti-Semite. Quotes from CAIR themselves are part of the problem.  The truth cannot be whitewashed. Democrats are not required to be at AIPAC, but must denounce anti-Semitism within their ranks.”

Leaked Emails: Labour Party Failed to Investigate Hundreds of Anti-Semitism Cases

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Britain’s Labour Party has failed to investgate and discipline hundreds of anti-Semitism cases, according to a leak of party emails.

The Sunday Times reported that of 863 complaints overall made by March 8m 2019, 454 are unresolved, including 249 where the party has not yet opened an investigation, as well as 176 ongoing investigations.

Among party members who have not yet been suspended are members who posted online comments including “Heil Hitler,” “F**k the Jews” and “Jews are the problem,” the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

The leaked emails are from a hard drive obtained by the Sunday Times that also contains a confidential database, and party documents.

According to the report, at least one Labour official who should have been punished was not because he was at the time standing for reelection.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office involved itself in at least 101 complaints, though the opposition leader said he would remain hands off.

Of the cases in which a decision was reached, 191 members faced no further action, 145 received a formal reprimand, and 29 were expelled. Some voluntarily left the party.

The Labour Party has disputed the figures reported by the Times, and a spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle that only parts of some emails were leaked, which misrepresents their entire contents.

Margaret Hodge, a Jewish lawmaker for the Labour Party, who has been critical of the party’s handling of anti-Semitism in its ranks, said: “The scale of the abuse, the depth of the hatred and the total lack of action by the Labour Party is astonishing.”

ADL: Mock Eviction Notices at Emory Are ‘Disturbing’

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wrote in a letter to Emory University that the mock eviction notices that were found on student dormitory rooms on April 3 are “disturbing.”

Allison Padilla-Goodman, the regional director of ADL Southeast, wrote in the letter that the notices are “designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates on campuses around the country rather than promote meaningful dialogue.”

“While students have a right to express their views on campus, targeting students in their residence halls is an unsettling intrusion,” Padilla-Goodman wrote.

She added, “The anti-Israel activists who passed out these notices are creating tension, intimidating and isolating students, and fostering a hostile atmosphere on campus.”

The ADL also takes “strong exception to the false and incendiary assertions made in that incidents of eviction or demolition are ‘part of Israel’s ongoing attempts to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitant’” as described in the posted notices,” Padilla-Goodman stated.

“Efforts like these only seek to delegitimize Israel and prevent opportunities for meaningful dialogue on campus,” Padilla-Goodman wrote. “As we have seen this strategy occur across America, the ADL has developed resources for university administrators, officials, and students for understanding and responding to intergroup challenges, bias, and anti-Israel issues.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the notices were “jarring.”

The American Jewish Committee similarly tweeted, “For those who claim anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, look no further than this grotesque anti-Israel campaign at Emory University. AJC Atlanta is working closely with Emory faculty, students, and administrators to ensure no one feels unsafe on campus.”

When asked by the Journal for comment on the ADL’s letter, an Emory spokesperson responded by pointing to the university’s statement that the notices were removed because they violated university guidelines and that there was no evidence that any particular students were targeted.

Emory Students for Justice in Palestine is reportedly responsible for the notices.

Columbia University Professor Compares Israel to ISIS

Screenshot from Facebook.

Hamid Dabashi, an Iranian studies professor at Columbia University, compared Israel to ISIS in a March 30 Facebook post.

Dabashi began his Facebook post by asking what the difference between the two was, and then answered his own question by stating that “no decent human being on planet earth recognized their [ISIS’] armed robbery or their ‘caliphate.’” Dabashi then wrote that Israel “conquered parts of Syria and declared it part of their Zionist settler colony,” an apparent reference to Israel’s control of the Golan Heights.

“The only difference: ISIS does not have a platoon of clean shaven and well coiffured columnists at the New York Times propagating the cause of the terrorist outfit as the Zionists columnists do on a regular basis,” Dabashi wrote.

Columbia’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter shared a screenshot of Dabashi’s post on their Facebook page.

A professor at our university argues that Israel and ISIS are the same,” the SSI chapter wrote. “This is completely unacceptable. Please email the department and the president’s office, asking them to condemn this dangerous statement.”

A professor at our university argues that Israel and ISIS are the same. This is completely unacceptable. Please email…

Posted by Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University – SSI Columbia on Thursday, April 4, 2019

Rena Nasar, StandWithUs’ Tri-State campus director and managing director of Campus Affairs, said in a statement to the Journal, “This professor has a long history of vicious racism against Jews and Israelis, so this comment comes as no surprise. We call on the Columbia administration to strongly condemn his hateful rhetoric.”

The university did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

Dabashi wrote in a March 17 Al Jazeera op-ed that Zionists are “the beneficiaries of anti-Semitism.” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a April 3 letter to Al Jazeera, “He [Dabashi] claims to be opposed to anti-Semitism, but only acknowledges anti-Semitism from the right. And he demonizes Israel under the guise of legitimate criticism of the Jewish state.”

Greenblatt added that Dabashi’s claim that he’s “only condemning Zionism, not Jews or Judaism” is a “nuanced form” of anti-Semitism.

“In all such cases, Jews are demonized, either as secret holders of poisonous power, or, in Dabashi’s case, in the form of condemning the allegedly racist, illegitimate movement of Jewish national liberation, Zionism,” Greenblatt wrote.

Anti-Semitic Flyers Found in UC Santa Barbara Neighborhood

Screenshot from Facebook.

Several anti-Semitic flyers were found in a neighborhood near UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) on March 31.

UCSB Student Senator Gabriella Shofet posted a picture of the flyer to her Facebook page that same day; the flyer reads: “Jews worship the Devil. Jews RAPE KIDS. The Holocaust is a LIE.”

“This is what anti-Semitism looks like. In 2019. A block away from my apartment,” Shofet wrote. “My heart aches.”

This is what antisemitism looks like. In 2019. A block away from my apartment. My heart aches.

Posted by Office of Senator Gabriella Shofet- Asucsb on Sunday, March 31, 2019

Students Supporting Israel at UCSB shared Shofet’s post on their Facebook page, writing: “Posted on windshields across Del Playa in Isla Vista. It’s 2019 and anti-Semitism is alive, even in our communities.”

This is what antisemitism looks like. In 2019. A block away from my apartment. My heart aches.

Posted by Office of Senator Gabriella Shofet- Asucsb on Sunday, March 31, 2019

Cyndi Silverman, director of the Santa Barbara Anti-Defamation League, told the Journal in a phone interview that the flyers were found in an area where Jewish UCSB students reside.

“We’re really concerned,” Silverman said. “Santa Barbra Tri-County has just been a hotbed – we’ve had so many anti-Semitic incidents over the last two years.”

Santa Barbara Hillel posted on their Facebook page that the flyers “were discovered on a number of parked cars in Isla Vista as well as in some mailboxes.”

“Santa Barbara Hillel condemns this anti-Semitic crime,” the post stated. “We are coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure everyone’s safety. Chancellor [Henry] Yang and top UCSB administration take this seriously and are working with us to investigate and respond. Santa Barbara Hillel is here at all times to support students, and we encourage anyone affected by this to take appropriate action.”

Santa Barbara Hillel also encouraged anyone with information about the flyers to contact the UCSB Police Department at (805) 893-3446 or the Isla Visa Foot Patrol at (805) 683-2724.

Andrea Estrada, director of News and Media Relations at UCSB, told the Journal in an email, “We are aware of reports of flyers off campus that contain hateful language. We support our local law enforcement’s efforts to investigate them, and we encourage our students to report any incidents of bias on campus or off.”

Former NY Assemblyman Slams BDS in New Video: ‘My Tax Dollars Do Not Have to Support Your Discrimination’

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former New York Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind released an April 3 video on Twitter criticizing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “discrimination.”

Hikind began the video by pointing out that the BDS movement singles out Israel, yet ignores countries like China, which has imprisoned 1 million Muslims, or Russia, a country that has murdered journalists. He added that supporters of the BDS movement frequently invoke freedom of speech, but “that is not the issue,” Hikind argued.

“My tax dollars, the tax dollars of the 26 states that have passed anti-BDS legislation, do not have to support your company that makes a decision to boycott the people of Israel, the Jewish state,” Hikind said. “My tax dollars do not have to support your discrimination.”

Anti-BDS legislation typically involves states barring companies that engage in boycotts of Israel from receiving government contracts and/or preventing such companies from receiving public investment funds.

Hikind concluded the video by highlighting that “the biggest supporters of BDS are the leaders of Iran, the leaders of Syria, the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela.”

“BDS equals anti-Semitism,” Hikind said.

In the tweet posting the video, Hikind wrote, “BDS targets Israel while ignoring rest of the world.” He added that BDS is “the same force” that removed New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger from his spot on the council’s immigration committee for tweeting that “Palestine does not exist” but shields Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “a free pass on her anti-Semitism.”

A Time and a Place for Civil Debate

Councilman Kalman Yeger

The latest Twitter flare-up between New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger and supporters of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was another example of social media’s usefulness: oxygen and fuel for fires that never seem to die down.

Yeger tweeted: “Palestine does not exist.  There, I said it again. Also, Congresswoman Omar is an antisemite. Said that too.”

This statement served three purposes: First, to shore up the councilman’s Brooklyn base; second, to rally Omar’s supporters, who will continue to defend her offensive remarks about American-Jewish support for Israel in Congress; and third, to ensure that division between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism festers like an open wound. As of April 1, Yeger had been removed from the city council’s immigration committee at the request of city leaders. Sadly, this will only add fuel to the fire, raise cries of “political correctness” and not advance the conversation in vital ways. 

How unfortunate.

Omar’s earlier remark about support for Israel in Congress being “all about the Benjamins” or her trafficking in the centuries-old canard implying Jews have dual loyalty are far better addressed in quiet conversation than in digital screaming matches on the internet.

I am reminded of 1984, when civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, during his presidential campaign, referred to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymietown.” I was a Jackson delegate at the Wisconsin state Democratic convention that year and was criticized by some of my fellow Jews on the University of Wisconsin campus for supporting someone accused of using anti-Semitic tropes. But as a student of history at Wisconsin, I also was familiar with Jackson’s career and knew that such aspersions against him were absolutely false. Jackson was a proud ally of Jews who offered support in the struggle for black civil rights and was a supporter of Israel.

Personally, I grew up hearing my grandmother, a child refugee from anti-Semitism in her native Belarus, refer to her black cleaning woman as a “shvartze,” the Yiddish term for black that is understood to be a term of denigration and racism. Many of us say things we shouldn’t. The Washington Post and The New York Times extensively covered Jackson’s mea culpa. At a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., Jackson stated to Jewish leaders at a local synagogue, “It was not in a spirit of meanness, an off-color remark having no bearing on religion or politics. … However innocent and unintended, it was wrong.”

Some Jewish leaders were satisfied, others were not. But in a world that had no social media, the controversy evolved elsewhere. In his book “The Making of a Jew,” the late philanthropist Edgar Bronfman Sr. told the story of his encounter with Jackson when, as head of the World Jewish Congress, Bronfman planned a 1992 meeting in Brussels to examine anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia. “This international conference was called ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ ” Bronfman wrote. The questions before us were how to promote the positive aspects of three forces — nationalism, ethnicity and religion — and how to prevent them from becoming destructive.”

Prescient, no?

Bronfman decided to ask Jackson to participate in the Brussels meeting. He knew the earlier remarks were not the sum of the man. Bronfman then recalled that, soon after the 1984 incident, Jackson was invited to meet for lunch with Bronfman at the Four Seasons Restaurant — on Bronfman’s home turf in the Seagram Building. During my 15-year friendship with Bronfman, I loved to hear him tell the story of the conversation they had that day and the advice he gave to Jackson: “You might have said, ‘Before I apologize, and I will, I would like everyone in this synagogue who has never called a member of my race a shvartze to stand up.’ That would have put your use of the word ‘Hymie’ in the proper context.”

This remarkable story about two great leaders hashing out a problem over lunch is at the moral center of my own confrontation with the ugly turn of political discourse in our current enflamed era. And I believe it is an object lesson for Yeger, Omar and other elected officials who wade into the intractable politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to strengthen their own bona fides rather than lead by example to forge a new path forward.

The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., and the 2015 Charleston, S.C., church shooting are two examples of how extreme rhetoric and hatred are made manifest as violence, destruction and death. And it is people of African descent, along with Jews and Muslims, who usually are the victims of such dangerous discourse. We are better served while being in alliance, however difficult, than by taking to the barricades,  spewing hatred.

In a quiet room over a shared meal, Yeger and Omar might be able to better communicate their positions. Money in politics, along with charges of “dual loyalty,” are actually worthy of a book-length seminar. That’s how we learned it at Wisconsin with great historians such as George L. Mosse. Nazi racism and Aryan dogma rendered the Jews and blacks as subhuman, as untermenschen. It is how slavery, genocide and the Holocaust have been made possible.

In addition, it is fundamentally gratuitous to argue that “Palestine does not exist.” Of course it does. Are Jerusalem, the Galilee, Jaffa, the Negev, Gaza and the West Bank not home for the millions of Palestinians who say they are home? Who exactly does it help to deny this reality? 

Israel may not be a full state yet, but it is an idea on the way to becoming one. Eretz Yisrael, Jewish prayer in the Diaspora oriented toward Jerusalem for 2,000 years, and the concept of Zion were all in existence long before the United Nations declared Israel a state in 1948. To deny Palestine’s existence is as equally hurtful a statement as claiming, as anti-Israel activists are wont to do, that Israel and Zionism are colonial impositions on indigenous people. 

Is any of this aided by the presence of hypocritical politicians like New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who showed up to support Yeger recently but is known in the black community as the Jewish politician who showed up at a Purim party in blackface?  

To respond adequately to all of this would require too many words for Twitter. 

So let me suggest some deep breaths, and some space to read and think and talk. Bronfman is dead and the Four Seasons is under new ownership. But I’ll host anyone holding office today at my apartment in Brooklyn. I am close to the subway and the food is good.


Andy Bachman is executive director of the Jewish Community Project Downtown in New York City.

New Zealand Murders: There Are No Words

AHC Senior Rabbi Natti Friedler pays his respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1915, Ottoman Turks started to scapegoat the minority Armenians in their country for a war against Russia that it was losing. That year, Turks began rousting Armenians from their dwellings and marching them to their deaths in the Syrian Desert.

At the time, there was no word for this brutal campaign, which resulted in the deaths of some 1.5 million Armenians living in Turkey. It took three more decades and the extermination of 6 million Jews before the word “genocide” entered the lexicon.

On March 15 in New Zealand, the world witnessed the latest expression of another horrific innovation for which there isn’t yet an appropriate word. Yes, the attack by a 28-year-old suspect that resulted in the gun deaths of 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, was a mass shooting. Yes, it was an act of terrorism. Yes, the alleged gunman self-identifies as a fascist.

There is commonality between this incident in New Zealand and other recent acts. White supremacy is the connective tissue that binds Brenton Tarrant and his atrocities in Christchurch to the 11 Jewish worshippers slain by Robert Bowers in October at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the nine African-American congregants who were fatally gunned down in 2015 by Dylann Roof at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

We need to be aware that underlying each of these attacks is an ambition to exterminate members of these races and religions. The victims’ backgrounds vary. The intent is the same. It’s a genocidal idea, but without the power of government to facilitate the act. The genocides committed by the Nazis, the Hutu leadership of Rwanda, the military of Guatemala and the government of Turkey were acts carried out by the state under ideologically driven leaders.

“Leaders need to take bold steps to counter the spread of hatred.”

The more recent 21st-century nightmares that befell Christchurch, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C., were executed by do-it-yourself mass killers whose racial resentments had been whipped up by extremist media outlets and nurtured in echo chambers in dark corners of the internet. They answer to no head of state and are unconfined by geographical boundaries. But they draw from the same genocidal well of hatred.

We are perplexed by this type of killing because we have not seen anything quite like it before and with such regularity. It may be that this form of killing doesn’t need a name, but I refer to it as “aliocide” — killing of the other — picking out innocent people who broadly represent a particular hated group, and slaughtering them indiscriminately because of their association to that group. 

The danger, in my mind, isn’t that white supremacists are going to succeed at rounding up and killing all of the Muslims, Jews and people of color, or that radical Islamists have any reasonable chance of taking down the “Great Satan” that they believe characterizes the West. Rather, it’s that they will succeed in driving us apart from one another with fear, because fear is the fertile soil of hatred itself. These horrible events are designed to drive us apart. Resisting them means having the strength to come together.

Solutions? 

Tech companies and the intelligence apparatus of Western governments must treat white nationalism with the same seriousness they reserve for Islamic terrorism, recognizing its lethal threat.

Lawmakers and thought-leaders — on the left and the right — need to fully acknowledge the trend of rising anti-Semitism and take action that reflects an understanding that this form of hate is genocidal to its core.

Academic institutions need to focus on the hate that thrives on campus and online, and unequivocally counter it within their communities.

World leaders need to take bold steps to counter the spread of hatred. Turning a blind eye to it is all that is needed to prompt the most unhinged members of online communities to rain bullets into unsuspecting groups of people, whoever they are.


Stephen D. Smith is Finci-Viterbi executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation. 

Anti-Semitism No Stranger to Harvard

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Harvard University’s current generation of students apparently is being taught that history is a convenient fiction that can be forgotten, manipulated or rewritten at the expense of Jews. The operative word of the version of history is “woke” and is being weaponized against perceived enemies, including the Jewish state of Israel.

Just recently, Harvard’s student government gave over $2,000 to the “Palestinian Solidarity Committee” and its “Israeli Apartheid Week” meant to “raise awareness of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” The money came from a grant for an Open Harvard College that’s supposed to fund the University’s “compelling interests” like fighting racism. Jewish students protested fearing that the grant might be used to provide a free ride to campus for BDS instigator Omar Barghouti who supports “the euthanasia of Zionism”. Barghouti had previously received a Gandhi Peace prize at Yale.

Last year, Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week contribution to improved race relations on campus was achieved by blanketing a dormitory with mock detention notices targeting Jewish students for guilt by association with the mistreatment of “Palestinians in Israel-Palestine.” The false notice was “formally cosigned” by Harvard Concilio Latino, the Harvard Islamic Society, and the Harvard Black Students Association. The Harvard Administration accepted a faux apology.

Also in 2018, CAIR founder Nihad Awad was awarded as an inspirer of “a deeper engagement with critical social issues on campus and in the wider community.” Past recipients included the Children’s Defense Fund’s founder Marian Wright Edelman. Beneath a veneer of interfaith good works, Awad is a supporter of terrorist Hamas that uses the UNRWA schools to brainwash new generations of violent Jew-haters.

Bringing anti-Semitism into the classroom, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies imported Ali Akbar Alikhani as a visiting professor from the University of Tehran. In a major paper he authored titled “The Conceptual Characteristics of Post-Zionism,”, Alikhani suggests that criticisms of the modern Israeli state are immaterial given the “historical violence of Zionism. Israel is a country that from its inception was based on force, coercion and oppression of others.”

Until the publicity became too intense in 2016, Harvard President Drew Faust Gilpin stonewalled Jewish students requesting a meeting about her administration’s infrastructure of student clubs dedicated to demonizing Israel. Harvard law student and BDS leader Husam El-Coolaq verbally assaulted former Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni with the question: “How is it that you [ Israelis] are so smelly?”

In 2007, Gilpin, a descendant of New England theologian Jonathan Edwards, succeeded Lawrence Summers as Harvard’s President. Summers was forced out partly for lecturing the Harvard faculty in 2002 about the global upsurge of anti-Semitism. He stated that his gravest concern was that “at Harvard and . . . universities across the country” divestment campaigns were seeking Israel’s destruction.

Those running Harvard’s soaring ivory tower … should take action to protect Jewish … students from today’s bullying wrapped in academic ivy.

As Stephen H. Norwood’s book, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower (2009) powerfully documents, Harvard’s ugly history of anti-Semitism dates back to 1922 when President A. Lawrence Lowell proposed a “Jewish quota” that was ultimately implemented by means of a euphemistic “geographic diversity” mechanism whose real purpose was to keep out brilliant, but unwanted Boston and New York Jews. In the 1930s, Lowell’s successor, President James B. Conant, talked up meritocracy, but in practice discriminated against Jews in both student admissions and faculty hiring.

In 1933, Harvard’s president refused to provide haven to refugee Jewish professors. On the other hand, in 1934, Harvard rolled out the red carpet for Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaegl (Class of ‘09), Hitler’s press chief, who had bragged to an American diplomat that the Nazis would destroy “the vampire sucking German blood” by assigning a storm trooper to deal with each of Germany’s 600,000 Jews. The student paper, The Crimson, which years later published a Holocaust Denial ad, insisted that Hanfstaegl be granted an honorary degree. Before, during, and after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Harvard students and administrators made a point of using German passenger liners to visit the Third Reich where students participated in study abroad programs at Nazified universities like Heidelberg and Goettingen. Not until after Kristallnacht did the Harvard community engage in noteworthy protests against Hitlerite outrages. Yet James B. Conant, president of Harvard, during his service in the 1950s as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany was in the words of Norwood, “ significantly involved in paroling vast numbers of Nazi war criminals, including those engaged in the most heinous atrocities.”

Harvard set a pattern, not only for Ivy League schools, but nationally for institutions of higher learning including Catholic schools and Women’s colleges.

Today, on some of America’s most prestigious campuses the admirable doctrine of “academic freedom” is being abused to indoctrinate students with “anti-Zionist,” anti-Semitic propaganda demonizing the Jewish state and encouraging campus activists to silence those who would speak up for Israel.

Those manning Harvard’s soaring ivory tower should be ashamed for both its past and present sins and take action to protect Jewish-dare we utter-Zionist-students from today’s bullying wrapped in academic ivy.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dr. Harold Brackman is a historian who is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Kern Medical Center Withdraws Offer to Fired Ohio Doc Who Tweeted She Would Give Jews ‘the Wrong Meds’

Lara Kollab, reportedly has made references on social media to “Jewish dogs,” has written in Arabic, “Allah will take the Jews,” and tweeted, “ill (sic) purposely give all the yahood the wrong meds …” Photo from Facebook.

Lara Kollab, the doctor who was fired from the Cleveland Clinic for tweeting that she would purposely give the wrong medication to Jews, was recently accepted and then rejected from a California residency program.

Kern Medical Center, which is located in Bakersfield, announced in an April 1 press release on their website that they told Kollab on March 25 “that her position as a Post-Graduate-Year 1 resident in the Internal Medicine Residency Program has been withdrawn effective immediately.”

Kern Medical has determined that Dr. Lara Kollab breached her Match Participant Agreement when she submitted information that was false, misleading, and incomplete to Kern Medical during the interview and match process,” the press release states. “Kern Medical is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our patients and expects the highest level of integrity and compassion from our staff. We look forward to welcoming our new class of residents and working with them to bring an exceptional level of care to all of our patients, regardless of race, religious background or social standing.”

The story was first reported on by The Lakewood Scoop; they initially reported on April 1 that Kollab had been hired by Kern Medical and, sometime thereafter, Kern Medical published their press release on Kollab.

Canary Mission, the watchdog site combating anti-Semitism that first exposed Kollab’s social media posts, tweeted, “Thanks to @KernMedical for ensuring that this dangerous doctor isn’t able to harm Jewish patients in the future.”

Canary Mission then rehashed a couple of Kollab’s past social media posts:

Kollab issued an apology on her personal website after initially insisting that the aforementioned social posts came from a fake account. Journal columnist Tabby Refael called Kollab’s apology “short-sighted and half-hearted” in a February column.

Her post never mentions the term ‘anti-Semitism,’ nor does it even espouse one statement that would humanize Jews, given that she previously referred to Jews as ‘dogs,’” Refael wrote. “In fact, her apology doesn’t include a single positive word about Jews. It does, however, put our mind to ease over Kollab’s moral clarity on Israel: ‘The injustice and brutality of the occupation continues to concern me, and I believe every champion of human rights owes it to humanity to work toward a just and peaceful resolution of this crisis,’ Kollab writes. When all other explanations fail, you can always count on an anti-Semite to extol that he or she is simply a concerned anti-Zionist.”

L.A. Junior Hockey Team Suspended for Anti-Semitic Video

Screenshot from Facebook.

Several members of a Los Angeles junior hockey team was suspended on March 29 for posting an anti-Semitic video to social media.

The Athletic, which obtained a copy of the video, reports that a member of the Los Angeles Junior Kings program can be seen “appearing to do the [Nazi] salute while several others laugh” earlier in March.

“Individuals can then be heard saying what sounds like ‘Are you a Nazi?’ and then ‘fuck the Jews’ and ‘fucking Jews,’” the Athletic report states. “Not all the players in the video comment and only one raises his arm in what appears to be a Nazi salute.”

The L.A. Junior Kings, which has no affiliation to the Los Angeles Kings but does use their practice facility in El Segundo, announced on a statement on their website that 15 players and three coaches in the program have been suspended and will be forced to undergo “a mandatory educational program” that is “comprised of sensitivity and social media training administered by outside professionals experienced in impactful positive youth education.”

“We are a club that prides itself on being a community; one that fosters values such as friendship, respect and teamwork, and upholds ideals like diversity, equality and tolerance,” L.A. Junior Kings president Steve Yovetich said in the statement.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Founder and Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier told the Journal in a statement that the video is “outrageous.”

“At a time when anti-Semitism is so prevalent all over the world, we discover that in our own backyard an LA Junior Kings hockey team made anti-Semitic remarks and Nazi salutes mocking Jews,” Hier said. “Every day we are shocked to find out how prevalent this cancerous malignancy is in our society. If this is what they can say in their youth, what can we expect of them when they mature into adults?”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has invited the hockey team to visit the Museum of Tolerance.

Columbia Prof Says Zionists Are ‘Beneficiaries of Anti-Semitism’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Columbia Iranian Studies Professor Hamid Dabashi wrote in a March 17 op-ed for Al Jazeera that Zionists are “the beneficiaries of anti-Semitism.”

Dabashi began the op-ed by calling for Muslims and Jews to unite against anti-Semitism; however, he proceeded to accuse Zionists of using the anti-Semitism label “to silence, paralyze and neutralize their political opponents.”

“Today, anti-Semitism is real and Zionists are categorically unqualified even to detect, let alone to fight it. Jews are the victims, Zionists the beneficiaries of anti-Semitism,” Dabashi wrote. “The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, freely and openly elected as the top political figure of the Zionists, is a rank racist with a widespread coalition with all other racists, including anti-Semites, chief among them the US President, Donald Trump.”

Dabashi added that Zionists don’t have the “moral authority” to combat anti-Semitism because they are “hardcore or liberal advocates of that ideology of land theft, occupation and incremental genocide of Palestinians.” He went onto write that anti-Semitism is a “deadly European disease” and cited a March 7 op-ed from Peter Beinart at The Forward arguing that anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism.

“Jews and Muslims are natural allies in this battle against racism in the intertwined forms of entrenched anti-Semitism and widespread Islamophobia,” Dabashi concludes his op-ed. “Zionists and racist Europeans know this. The conflation of Zionism and Judaism, as recently staged by [French President Emmanuel] Macron, is a false flag to confuse the issue and prevent the active solidarity of these two main victims of their racism.”

Simon Wiesenthal Associate Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in an April 1 email, “The article is brilliantly constructed. At first blush, a call for solidarity between Muslims and Jews in the fight against hate. But the real goal emerges- denigrating, demonizing, and delegitimizing Zionism and decoupling it from anti-Semitism. Along the way, this academic cleverly ascribes anti-Semitism as an exclusively European phenomenon, but nothing about anti-Jewish animus and dhimmitude in the Arab and Muslim world.”

“Yes there are some Jews who are anti-Zionist, but they choose to be willfully blind to the fact that Democratic Israel in 2019 is home to the world’s largest Jewish community whose roots to their land is 3,000+ years old,” Cooper wrote. “And they willfully turn their back on every prayer uttered by millions of Jews for 2000 years. We reject anyone who talks of solidarity in the fight against anti-Semitism while simultaneously fueling it by delegitimizing the love and lovers of Zion .”

In May, Dabashi called Zionists “hyenas” on Facebook and blamed Israel for “every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious happening in the world.”

CA Dems Party Arab American Caucus Chair Accuses Schumer of Allegiance to ‘Fascist Israel Lobby’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the media ahead of a possible partial government shut down in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Iyad Afalqa, the chairman of the Arab American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, accused Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) of having allegiance to the “fascist Israel lobby.”

On March 27, Afalqa posted a link on his Facebook page to an article titled “Senate Democratic Leader Schumer Compares Ilhan Omar to Trump in AIPAC Speech.” Schumer said during his March 26 speech, “When someone says that being Jewish and supporting Israel means you’re not loyal to America, we must call it out. When someone looks at a neo-Nazi rally and sees some ‘very fine people’ among its company, we must call it out.”

Afalqa wrote in his post, “Shmuck Schumer the traitor whose allegiance is for Fascist Israel lobby who called himself the Guardian of Israel in Congress is attacking Rep Omar who hinted at the big elephant in the room: treason of the Fascist Israel lobby that Schumer belongs to.”

Afalqa went onto state that the “highest amount” of money from the “pro-Israel lobby” in the 2015-16 election cycle went to Schumer.

Shmuck Schumer the traitor whose allegiance is for Fascist Israel lobby who called himself the Guardian of Israel in…

Posted by Iyad Afalqa on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party (PZCDP) said in a statement sent to the Journal via email, “Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party is concerned about the most recent statements made by Iyad Afalqa on his personal Facebook page and in the CADEMs unofficial delegate group. This is unfortunately not the first time he has used such inflammatory rhetoric, and is especially disappointing considering he co-sponsored a resolution condemning anti-Semitism.”

“Utilizing the tropes of dual loyalties, Jewish conspiracy, and power to criticize AIPAC is disturbing in a moment where highly charged rhetoric like this increasingly endangers the Southern California Jewish community — which has experienced many recent anti-Semitic incidents, with perpetrators espousing frighteningly similar rhetoric to Alfalqa’s,” the PZDCP said.

In February, Afalqa shared a link to an Al Jazeera op-ed stating that “Zionism has always been a white supremacist, settler colonialist, anti-democratic, right-wing ideology, which has demanded a loyalty based on nationalist racism” that has “collaborated with anti-Semitic forces towards a mutual goal of global apartheid.”

The PZDCP responded to Afalqa’s sharing of the aforementioned op-ed by writing in a Facebook post at the time, “This is clear and unbridled anti-Semitism found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a famously false and hateful pamphlet alleging international conspiracy by racist, global Zionists. By itself, this trope has been responsible for the deaths of literally millions of Jews. This is the language we see being normalized in the article you shared.”

Additionally, in October 2017, Afalqa asked in Facebook when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would be moving its headquarters “to Tel Aviv”:

Afalqa and the California Democratic Party did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

Arizona Chabad Construction Site Vandalized with Swastikas

Screenshot from Twitter.

A Chabad building that is under construction in Flagstaff, Ariz. was found with swastikas spray-painted and carved on it.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports that the Chabad of Flagstaff’s Molly Blank Center’s construction site was broken into sometime between March 22 and 25; the perpetrators then painted swastikas on the windows and carved the symbols on the walls.

The perpetrators also knocked over cans of black paint onto the floor, damaged various power tools and placed plaster mud over some windows; authorities estimate the vandals caused more than $1,000 in property damage.

Chabad Rabbi Dovie Shapiro and his wife Chaya said on the Chabad’s website, “This incident is a sad reminder of the discrimination and anti-Semitism that still exists among some people. While it’s alarming and very disturbing, it will not deter us – to the contrary this reinforces and motivates us more to do the important work we’re doing and continue teaching about unity and acceptance.”

“We look forward to the day, G‑d willing — not too far in the future — when construction will be complete, and we will open the doors of the new Molly Blank Jewish Community Center to be a welcoming place for all,” they added.

Rabbi Shapiro told the Daily Sun that it was a “shock” to see the anti-Semitic vandalism given the organization had never experienced anti-Semitism in Flagstaff before. The best way to fight against such hate, Shapiro said, was “love.”

“We are so used to loving for something in return, giving for something in return,” Shapiro said. “If we can just love for no reason whatsoever, that’s how you combat the forces of hate in the world.”

Police are classifying the incident as a hate crime. The Anti-Defamation League is offering a $2,000 reward for any information on the perpetrators.

Bernard-Henri Lévy on Anti-Semitism, the Diaspora and the ‘Miracle’ That Is Israel

Bernard-Henri Lévy

War correspondent, philosopher, activist, TV star: Bernard-Henri Lévy is among the world’s most prominent — and controversial — public intellectuals. He’s searched for Daniel Pearl’s killers, followed in the footsteps of diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville, staunchly defended Israel. His latest, “The Empire and the Five Kings: America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World,” takes on the implications of 21st-century American Isolationism. David Suissa, the Journal’s publisher and editor-in-chief, spoke with Lévy for his “Suissa” podcast, from which this interview was condensed. 

Jewish Journal: I’ve been fascinated by your journey. You studied philosophy and you end up going for the adventure. You’ve been in so many places in the world where they had conflicts and wars. At which point did you realize that you were not just going to be a person of the mind?

Bernard-Henri Lévy: Immediately. I decided since the very start that the best thought is the thought which can be proved by experience; and the best way, the most honest way to speak and to make philosophy is to go and check with your own eyes. 

JJ: It nourishes the philosophy, the more experience you have on the ground?

BHL: Of course it does. You have to live as you think and you have to think as you live. There cannot be separation between the two. You have to act. That’s why each time in my lifetime Israel was under attack and the war, I was on the ground. I was with my Israeli sisters and brothers during the Lebanon War. In Gaza, I was the only foreigner to be authorized to go with an Israeli special unit inside Gaza to be a witness of what was happening. I wrote about this war. I wrote about the question if Israel was turning its back to the true creed of Zionism. And my opinion was no, it does not turn its back. Israel was keeping faithfulness to the ideal of Zionism. But I wanted to see first. I’m not a philosopher of propaganda. I’m not a philosopher of just ideas. I like to see first, and then my words are more outspoken and, I think, just more true. 

JJ: I think one of the reasons we’ve seen such a schism between the Jews of Israel and Jews of America is there’s a lack of appreciation here for the facts on the ground and the reality that Israelis go through. 

BHL: This is one of the reasons for this schism. But the main point for me, this schism has to be overcome. If the jury in Israel and the jury in the West, and especially in America, divorce, really, it is the start of a war — a moral, intellectual war — between Jews that will be dramatic for all of us. Israel without a Diaspora would be another Israel. The Diaspora without Israel would be another Diaspora. They feed each other. 

“The very creation of Israel was a secular miracle, that it was, and it is, an everlasting exception to all the political rules.”

JJ: I wonder if one of the problems here is that we elevate certain values and character traits above others; curiosity is way, way down at the bottom of the list. When you don’t have that — Israel is just an idea, an abstract idea. 

BHL: There is a lack of curiosity, but there is a lack also of Jewish thinking and Jewish intelligence. The certainty that you are right and that the other one is wrong, this is not a Jewish attitude. The Jewish attitude taught by the Talmud teaches that truth is always uncertain. To be a Jew means to have the conversation indefinitely open. You know how the Talmud works. It is an endless chain of paradoxes, of replies: Who creates a new question, which creates a new reply, and so on and so on. 

JJ: I wonder if here in America, when you hear so much criticism of Israel, as a philosopher, do you think there’s some merit to that?

BHL: As a philosopher, I can tell you that the very creation of Israel was a secular miracle, that it was, and it is, an everlasting exception to all the political rules. It never happened in the history of mankind that people decide overnight to make a state and to make it democratic, and that it works.

JJ: After the darkest moment in our history, when we had every excuse to wallow in victimhood for decades.

BHL: After the darkest moment of our history, with people coming from all over the countries with people that never knew what democracy meant. There was this miracle of a democracy built overnight. It was not even dreamt by the philosophers of the political thing. It is renewing itself every day. 

JJ: And still vibrant. 

BHL: You can agree or not agree with the policy of a government. I’m not very comfortable myself with the current policy of the current government, but what I must say is that I know very few democracies in the world as strong as the Israeli democracy. Israel should be considered as an example for every democracy in the world, including the French one or the American one. I said that recently to a group of young partisans of the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] BDS movement. I told them, from the point of view of your liberal values, Israel, far from being despised, should be praised: the multi-ethnicity, the tolerance to the other, the transparency, the fight. Israel is one of the most shining examples of what liberal democracy can mean, and I try to say each time I can when I go on a campus of an American university.

JJ: I wonder sometimes whether a certain amount of anti-Semitism is just the price we have to pay for not becoming pathetic victims who just fail in life, you know.

BHL: Some anti-Semitism is probably inevitable. Alas, I don’t believe in a world without anti-Semitism. The question is, shall we contain it or let it expand? We have to contain it by our force of intelligence, force of the spirit, force of the study, and force of the organization. 

My theory in my book — and not only in my book — is that there is a battle going on. There is a struggle going on. It’s very harsh, very fierce. It may be lost, it may be won, and I am well decided to win. 

JJ: That’s the Jewish way.

BHL: That’s the Jewish way.


You can listen to the full interview here. Listen to more episodes of the David Suissa podcast here.

Omar’s Hatred Has No Place in Congress

Screenshot from Twitter.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar didn’t attend the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., this week, but her presence was impossible to escape. Democratic and Republican politicians alike pushed back at her — either by name or implication — and especially her contention that U.S. Middle Eastern policy is the result of large sums of money spent by Israel’s supporters. 

Omar’s “dual loyalty” slurs clearly energized Israel’s strongest supporters in both parties. But in addition to her obliteration of the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, the Minnesota Democrat made a broader point about the role of money in American politics that is worth further examination.

“I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC [the American Israel Political Affairs Committee], the NRA [National Rifle Association] or the fossil-fuel industry,” she said in a combination of self-righteousness and ideological selectivity. “It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

OK. Let’s address it.

Money spent by foreign governments on lobbying and other types of advocacy is legal (although foreign spending on our political campaigns is not.) So, perhaps Omar thinks that is a problem. If so, the targets of her first complaints might be the nations of South Korea and Japan, which have spent $58 million and $53 million on lobbying, respectively, since the beginning of 2017 — far more than Israel’s $34 million, according to OpenSecrets.org. (Keep an eye on those nefarious Bermudans, too; their government spent $52 million lobbying the U.S. over that same time.) Other countries that spend at approximately the same level as Israel are Ireland, the Bahamas and the Marshall Islands.

If Omar’s motivation was the need for stricter campaign finance reform, we could assume she would be just as outraged by the money these other countries spend to lobby our government. Yet, only Israel’s advocacy has inspired her to such anger.

“Our problem with Ilhan Omar is not a lack of respect for her religion but rather a recognition of her intolerance for ours.”

These numbers get even more interesting when you break them down per capita — the amount of money spent per resident of the country in question. Israel spends $3.43 per resident on lobbying the U.S. government. Qatar, one of Iran’s most reliable allies in the region and one of the world’s most notorious supporters of terrorism, spends just over $5 for each of its 2.6 million residents. Not surprisingly, Omar is not on record criticizing the Qataris’ considerable investment in lobbying American politicians. Maybe it’s not “all about the Benjamins” after all.

There are many strident critics of Israel’s government who don’t resort to personal vitriol and vindictiveness when mounting a policy-based attack. I obviously don’t agree with the goals of anti-Zionists, but I recognize that those who oppose the policies I believe will ensure the safety and security of the Jewish state are entitled to their opinions too.

But that’s not who Omar is. In her diatribes, she has only occasionally and belatedly bothered to mention the settlements, the Iran nuclear agreement or any other aspect of Middle Eastern geo-politics. For Omar, it’s not about Israel. It’s about the Jews. It’s anti-Semitism, pure and simple, and it has no place in the halls of Congress.

Omar frequently suggests that much of the anger directed toward her is rooted in prejudice toward Muslims. But when Jewish religious and community leaders joined memorial services across the world to grieve the unspeakable tragedy in New Zealand recently, it didn’t matter that the victims were praying to Allah or that they lived in a city named after Jesus.

Just as Muslim leaders across the country stood with us after the heartbreak of Pittsburgh, we stand with them after the tragedy of Christchurch. That same shared commitment to our common humanity enables people of goodwill to disagree on matters of politics and geopolitics without resorting to bias and bigotry.

Our problem with Ilhan Omar is not a lack of respect for her religion but rather a recognition of her intolerance for ours. That’s why pro-Israel Democrats and Republicans put aside their other differences this past week to make it clear that they reject the hatred masquerading as public policy that she continues to promote.


Dan Schnur is a professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and Pepperdine University.

Carr and Hier Discuss Anti-Zionism, the ‘New Anti-Semitism’

From left: Rabbi Marvin Hier, Elan Carr and David Suissa discuss anti-Semitism at the Museum of Tolerance. Photo by Jacob Jacoby

Elan Carr believes the definition of anti-Semitism has evolved in today’s world. 

“In the new anti-Semitism of today, anti-Zionism — whether it’s hatred of the State of Israel by Hamas or Hezbollah, Iran, or it’s hatred of the State of Israel by intellectual elites in Europe or on college campuses in the United States — anti-Zionism today is the fig leaf that justifies the most appalling and unvarnished anti-Semitism,” Carr said.

Carr, the recently appointed U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, spoke on March 14 at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, along with Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC).

The event, a 75-minute discussion that included a Q-and-A with the crowd of about 300 people, featured David Suissa, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, as its moderator, and focused on the rise of anti-Semitism around the world today. American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem organized the event with the U.S. Department of State, SWC and the Journal.

Examining the many forms of anti-Semitism, the three speakers discussed how the vilification on college campuses of people with privilege creates an anti-Semitic environment toward young Jewish people today.

“There is the view, and this is prevalent now on the left and certainly on college campuses, that privilege and power is the cause of social ills today,” Carr said.

Hier voiced his concerns about freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of two Muslim women elected to Congress last year. In tweets and in other public settings, Omar has said support for Israel is due to “the Benjamins,” referring to Founding Father Ben Franklin’s image on $100 bills, and that some American lawmakers’ support of Israel represents a “dual loyalty,” an assertion her critics have called anti-Semitic. 

A resolution in the House of Representatives denouncing anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry omitted Omar’s name, despite agreement among some of her colleagues that her remarks were anti-Semitic.

“What Congresswoman Omar is doing is very, very dangerous,” Hier said. “The fact that she was not condemned by name is an embarrassment.”

Suissa refuted the claim by Omar’s defenders that her statements were legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government. If they were not actually about ending the Jewish state altogether, they would lead to a debate about Israel’s policies, he said.

“Whenever I hear the anti-Semitism that’s hiding behind anti-Zionism, one of the things that frustrates me to no end, there’s never a debate on Israel,” Suissa said. “The comments from Ilhan Omar, the representative, has nothing to do with criticizing Israeli policies.”

“How do we combat anti-Semitism in a society where hate speech is not illegal?” Suissa asked.

Carr said the answer was Jewish unity. There is power when Jewish people stand together to denounce anti-Semitism, he said.

“Right-wing anti-Semitism, left-wing anti-Semitism, it doesn’t matter to me. Jew hatred is Jew hatred.” — Elan Carr

“We have a First Amendment but we have to meet hate speech with resounding, unequivocal condemnation,” Carr said. “When the Jewish community comes up and stands together, it changes the world.”

Hier spoke about his conversation with the king of Bahrain, “a chassid of Frank Sinatra,” he said. The Bahraini king ordered Sinatra recordings that had not arrived two months after he ordered them. The king learned that there had been an Arab boycott against Israel and that CBS, which then housed the recordings, was on the list.

“So he orders immediately that they should give him the records, and he says to these fellows, ‘I don’t believe in the boycott against Israel,” Hier said. “I intend to see we’re not boycotting Israelis.’ And right now, the king of Bahrain — you saw in the news the last three months — they want to make peace with Israel.” 

Carr said his job in the State Department underscored that America cares about its Jews.

“Jews aren’t tolerated in the United States — we are loved in the United States,” Carr said. “We are, and it’s not perfect and, of course, there are people on the fringes and we have challenges and we’ve seen things in the last couple of weeks that are disturbing, but by and large, we are absolutely blessed.” 

Whether fighting anti-Semitism on the left, where it often takes the form of bias against the Israeli government, or on the right, as was seen in 2017 in Charlottesville, Va., where neo-Nazis chanted against Jews during a rally, the Jewish people need to call out anti-Semitism, Hier said.

“We need to be fair on both sides,” Hier said. “I’m also a big critic on the right-wing, KKK, right-wingers that are sometimes accepted by the Republican Party or elements of the Republican Party. We should criticize them with straight talk in the same way that we should criticize any president of the United States that was going to Aretha Franklin’s funeral and is seated near Louis Farrakhan, the biggest anti-Semite in the United States of America.”

Hier was referring to former President Bill Clinton, who sat near the Nation of Islam leader at Franklin’s 2018 funeral. 

“Right-wing anti-Semitism, left-wing anti-Semitism, it doesn’t matter to me. Jew hatred is Jew hatred,” Carr agreed. “We’re going to fight it no matter what ideological clothing it dresses itself in.”

Netanyahu, Omar Engage in War of Words Over AIPAC

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) traded barbs at each other on March 26 after Netanyahu took a not-so-subtle shot at Omar during his AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference speech.

Netanyahu, who was giving his speech via satellite having returned Israel after the country was attacked by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, said, “My friends, ladies and gentlemen, some people will just never get it. They’ll never understand why the vast majority of Americans – Jews and non-Jews alike – support Israel.”

“Take it from this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins,” Netanyahu said. “The reason the people of America support Israel is not because they want our money, it’s because they share our values.”

Omar, responding to a tweet from New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg featuring Netanyahu’s “Benjamins” quote, tweeted, “This from a man facing indictments for bribery and other crimes in three separate public corruption affairs. Next!”

In a separate Twitter thread, Omar accused Netanyahu of singling her out in his speech while ignoring other issues. Jerusalem Post editor Lahav Harkov responded with her own thread:

In February, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins” in response to a tweet noting that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was calling on Omar to be disciplined for her anti-Israel statements. She later responded that “AIPAC” was buying off political support for Israel; both tweets were subsequently deleted and Omar issued an apology.

Women’s March, Inc. Leader Apologizes for Sharing Post Decrying ‘Jewish Establishment’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Women’s March, Inc. co-leader Bob Bland apologized on Facebook for sharing a post blaming the “American Jewish Establishment” for playing a role in the March 15 New Zealand terror attacks.

On March 17, Bland shared a Facebook post from social justice activist Jesse Rabinowitz that said, “The same language and hate that folks spew against Sisters Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) killed 54 Muslims in New Zealand. You can’t stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and simultaneously disavow Muslim women for speaking their truths. American Jewish Establishment, I’m looking at you.”

In a March 21 Facebook post, Zioness shared a screenshot of Bland sharing the aforementioned post and accused Women’s March Inc. of “attacking Jews again.”

“Calling out anti-Semitism is not bigotry against Muslims,” Zioness’ post stated. “We’ve witnessed this enough times: the zero-sum game these women are playing literally leads to horror. Jews and Muslims are in fact targeted by the same heinous actors within the white nationalist movement across the globe, which is why Jews and Muslims of conscience have come together in solidarity during crises like we witnessed in Christchurch and in Pittsburgh.”

The post continued, “This language from Women’s March leaders, like always, serves to divide, not unite; it serves to alienate, not empower; and it serves to create artificial walls between our communities that Zioness hopes to see torn down. We pray for leaders of the American women’s movement who are able to advance a domestic agenda for all women without exploiting their platforms to attack Jews.”

Women's March, Inc. is attacking Jews again.Somehow, we still aren’t desensitized to their never-ending cycle of…

Posted by Zioness Movement on Thursday, March 21, 2019

In the comments section below her sharing of Rabinowitz’s post, Bland wrote on March 22, “It has come to my attention that some people are upset that I shared Jesse’s post. I was juggling 2 kids on a Sunday + not being mindful. I’m sorry.”

“I do agree with the first 2 sentences that Jesse said, except I would extend it to all establishment politicians of both parties, of any or no faith. Words matter and I should have clarified,” Bland continued.”If I had time, I would have also said that white Christian supremacy is the real threat + driver of these terror attacks on a global scale. What all the recent terrorists have in common are a shared ideology of anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and xenophobia, which is why we need to focus on attacking the evils of white supremacy + not tearing down WOC [women of color].”

“Again, my apologies and I will be more considerate in the future,” Bland concluded.

Rabinowitz wrote in a March 21 Facebook post responding to Zioness, “Zioness Movement is mad at me and I guess Bob Bland. So for every troll I get, I will donate $1 dollar alternating between IfNotNow and MPower Change.”

Jew-Hatred Also Hurts the Haters

Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish Government Delegation in Barcelona, Oct. 20, 2015. Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

It’s common knowledge by now that Jew-hatred, also known as anti-Semitism, will find its way into most societies one way or another, no matter what Jews do or don’t do.

The latest incarnation of this age-old phenomenon has been to hide behind Israel-hatred, as if to suggest that being against the Jewish state is not the same as being against Jews. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has been at the forefront of this modern-day sneak attack on Jews.

But here’s what you rarely hear: Hating Jews hurts the haters at least as much as it hurts Jews. It saps their spirit. It sucks their energy. It provides a sugar high, but what lasts are the self-destructive poisons of bitterness and resentment. 

Look at the greater Middle East today, a 22-country cesspool of Jew-hatred for the better part of the last century. Decade after decade, despite the many sectarian and ethnic conflicts among these countries, one thing has united them: Hatred of the Jewish state, fueled by hatred of Jews and Judaism.

This Jew-hatred was promoted by dictators desperate to stay in power by blaming every failure on the Jews and the Jewish state. As Iranian activist Ahmad Hashemi wrote in 2013, “Instead of dealing with root causes of the problems, they [Middle Eastern leaders] preferred to choose a simplistic answer and solution for all unresolved issues… just point a finger at Israel and the Jews.”

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world.

When the Arab Spring protests broke out in 2011, it looked as if protestors had figured out the scam and were telling their corrupt leaders: “Our miserable living conditions have nothing to do with Israel or the conflict with the Palestinians. We’ve had enough. We’re holding you accountable.” 

As we know, the Arab Spring fizzled. The dictators shut it down. The misery continued. But, failure or not, the Arab Spring served to highlight one of the great ironies of our time: Having been taught to hate the Jewish state for so long, Arab protestors ended up demanding precisely what the Jewish state already offered its citizens—basic freedoms, basic rights, economic opportunities.

How crazy is that?

Imagine the panic of an Arab dictator living in fear that his people will figure out what he himself has long known: The Arabs with the most amount of freedom, human rights and opportunities in the Middle East live in that dreaded Jewish state.

This, more than anything, is the dirty secret of the Middle East: Hating the Jews has backfired on the Arab world. It has mired their nations in resentment and bitterness. Of course, it’s not the only factor in their failure to advance, but it’s a crucial psychological one.

It’s only recently that venerable Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia have woken up to the realization that the Jewish state can help them grow and prosper and even defend against enemy forces. We can only hope that this becomes a trend; that other Arab nations will see the futility of hating the Jewish state and look to emulate its more productive ways.

Hating consumes a lot of energy. Even on U.S. college campuses, the BDS movement is one of animosity and resentment. At no point will you see this supposedly pro-Palestinian movement sponsor a program to help Palestinians. That would be too positive. Instead of building, BDS tears down. Instead of loving Palestinians, BDS hates Israel. 

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.

Look at the Palestinian leadership. They could have had a Palestinian state a long time ago, had they cared about building rather than undermining. Instead of promoting mutual co-existence and prosperity, they promoted hatred of the Jewish state. Instead of saying yes to peace, they said no to Jews. They have wasted generation after generation teaching Jew-hatred.

These haters, however, are not stupid. They see how Israel is winning the battle on the ground. They see how the Jewish state, for all its flaws, blunders and stumbles, continues to grow, to thrive, to attract the best companies in the world, to send spaceships to the moon and humanitarian assistance to disaster areas, and to be tough when it has to defend itself. This must drive them nuts. While Palestinian leaders promote animosity, Israel promotes growth.

The Jew-haters of BDS, like Jew-haters throughout the Arab world and beyond, eventually learn the life lesson we all learn: Hatred and resentment sap your energy; growing and creating renew it.

In the long run, it is the builders, the dreamers, the creators, who win.

Wiesenthal Center Asks Rep. Omar to Condemn Imam In Her District Who Spoke on ‘Zio’ Agenda’

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) takes part with Democratic leaders (including U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left) during the announcement of the introduction of the Equality Act at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to condemn an imam in her district who preached against a “Zio-Crusader agenda” in a recent sermon.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that Imam Shaaban Aboubadria said in a March 15 sermon at the Minneapolis Masjid Al-Huda Islamic Center that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is “carrying the Zio-Crusader agenda.” The term “Zio” is an anti-Semitic slur that has been popularized by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

Throughout history, he has been carrying out the agenda of the Zionists, and the agenda of the tyrannical and criminal Templar Crusaders, and yet he claims to be a Muslim,” Aboubadria said.

Aboubadria also reportedly said that “Western civilization is built on shedding blood, killing, and terrorism.”

“Who is the one that is killing Muslims in Syria? Isn’t it Russia? Are the Russian planes dropping chocolate on the innocent and unarmed civilians? Or are they dropping lethal and destructive incendiary bombs on them?” Aboubadria said. “And what about the bombs that criminal Israel is dropping on Gaza… we went to sleep with the bombing of Gaza, and woke up with the crime in New Zealand.”

Cooper told the Journal in a statement via email, “Congresswoman Omar will be in Southern California this Saturday and Sunday to speak at a CAIR [Council for American Islamic Relations] event and appear at a fundraiser on her behalf. This week, The Washington Post published an op-ed bearing her name trying to step away from her virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rants.”

“Congresswoman Omar, now is the time to let your constituents and concerned Americans know whether you condemn or endorse these views delivered to your community from the pulpit of a Minneapolis mosque,” Cooper said.

Omar will be speaking at a CAIR-LA banquet at the Woodland Hills Hilton hotel on March 23. The congresswoman’s office did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

Muslims, Jews Need to Support Each Other

By now we know that hateful rhetoric provides the scaffolding upon which extremists justify their violent acts. But often, we fail to recognize when the rhetoric of our public discourse crosses the line from legitimate critique into these hateful tropes. 

It’s why many Jews find Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets and statements abhorrent, even as many Muslims struggle to understand why what she said was so bad. Muslims hear a thoughtful critique of the Israel lobby.  Jews hear the Cliff’s Notes version of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — rife with undertones of financial control and global conspiracy. 

But Omar and her Muslim defenders are not the only ones to cross this line from legitimate critique into stereotype-ridden language. We in the Jewish community are often guilty of the same. To many Jews the common criticism of Muslim leaders and organizations rests on solid reasoning, even as Muslims mentally check the box of almost every recognizable Islamophobic trope. Linking Muslim public figures to terrorism no matter how many degrees of separation? Check. Accusations of Muslim intent to govern America by Islamic law? Check. Contorting and curating facts to paint a narrative that a Muslim elected official is actually a terrorist plant? Check. 

There are real communal disagreements between Muslims and Jews. I personally get frustrated with our differences. In recent months, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — a Muslim-American civil rights organization — spearheaded an effort with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for Los Angeles to refuse federal funds allocated under the umbrella of “Countering Violent Extremism.” They claimed these social programs serving the needs of at-risk youth and resettling refugees were a back door for the government to keep tabs on the Muslim community. (Fact check: They weren’t). I was heartbroken for the extraordinary organizations that did not receive needed funding because CAIR’s campaign worked. I also disagree with what I consider to be CAIR’s lack of a nuanced view of the Israel-Palestine conflict and how they wielded it as a divisive wedge at the Women’s March. I question whether such confrontational tactics are ultimately the best strategy for furthering the rights and interests of Muslim Americans.

“What will it take for us … to stand shoulder to shoulder against the rhetoric that targets us both as unwanted minorities?”

But I recognize the difference between political acts I disagree with and political acts that are acts of terror. Calling CAIR or any other Muslim organization or leader who participates legitimately in the American public discourse “terrorists” crosses the line into Islamophobia. These accusations are no less problematic than the ones leveraged against Jews of controlling American foreign policy with our money and our influence.

 The deepest irony of the public conversation between Muslims and Jews is that we share the same fear — the questioning of our loyalty to America. And yet, we fail to recognize how freely we engage in this accusation of treason against each other.

In spite of our commonalities as minorities in the United States, we too have inherited and internalized the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic suspicions of the larger culture around us. We have become almost obsessively enraged with each other. 

Maybe we do it because we subconsciously think that if the other is considered to be the threat, then we won’t be. Maybe we believe that our country and western civilization has to have an enemy and we’re all touching our noses to say, “Not it! Look at them!”

Muslims and Jews can continue to have the same accusation-hurling conversation over and over, but I fear that leaves both of our communities vulnerable. I fear that we feed into the rhetoric that violent extremists from Pittsburgh to Christchurch thrive off of. How many more mosque and synagogue shootings do we need before Muslims and Jews are willing to do some collective self-reflection about the stereotypes we hold of each other? What will it take for us to work through our disagreements to stand shoulder to shoulder against the rhetoric that targets us both as unwanted minorities?

Muslims and Jews alike will be better served when we do the work to examine and question our deeply held stereotypes of the other and stop contributing to the rhetoric that tears the other down. Because, when we do, we actually just tear down ourselves.


Rabbi Sarah Bassin is the associate rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.

30 Gravestones Vandalized at Massachusetts Jewish cemetery

Gravestones from a Jewish cemetery in Fall River, Mass. Photo from Twitter.

Anti-Semitic rhetoric and swastikas were drawn on at least 30 gravestones at the Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River, Massachusetts over the weekend. 

The vandalism occurred over the weekend, according to River Fall police.

The Providence Journal reported that police responded to a call that a suspicious vehicle had been parked at the cemetery for two days. When the police arrived March 17 the car was gone.

“Heil Hitler,” “Hitler was right,” and “Oy vey, this is MAGA Country” were written on the graves. MAGA refers to Make American Great Again, the slogan from President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Two gravestones had the words, “Day of the Rope,” written on them. The ADL says this is a reference to the novel, “The Turner Diaries,” which is about a white supremacist army that overturns the United States government.

The ADL told the Journal that “the desecration of The Hebrew Cemetery of Fall River is an inexcusable act of anti-semitic hatred in the place where we honor and remember the lives of our community members.”

Alongside the Police Department and Temple Beth El, ADL is offering a $1,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case.

Police in Fall River are investigating the incident.

Poll: Nearly 9 in 10 French Jewish Students Say They’ve Experienced Anti-Semitism on Campus

Screenshot from Twitter.

A recent March poll from the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) found that nearly 9 in 10 Jewish college students in France have experienced anti-Semitism on campus.

According to the French magazine L’Express, 89 percent of the 405 French Jewish students surveyed in the poll said that they had experienced some form of anti-Semitism on campus, which included tropes, jokes about the Holocaust and Jewish stereotypes. Of those students, 85 percent said they had been subjected to an anti-Semitic trope, 75 percent said they had been on the receiving end on Jewish and Holocaust jokes and 19 percent said they had been subjected to anti-Semitic “aggression.”

Additionally, 19 percent of the surveyed Jewish students who were subjected to anti-Semitic acts said that they did nothing about them because they didn’t want face retaliation from those who perpetrated the anti-Semitic acts.

Forty-five percent of the 1,007 non-Jewish students surveyed said they had witnessed an anti-Semitic incident, an additional 63 percent said that Jews have been “unfairly” scapegoated. However, 18 percent said that Jews exploit the Holocaust to further their own gain and 17 percent said that Jews wield “too much power” and wealth.

According to French government statistics, anti-Semitic incidents increased by 74 percent and anti-Semitic assaults increased in the country by 270 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The full results of the poll can be seen here.

H/T: Jewish News