June 26, 2019

Canada to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

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The Canadian government announced on June 25 that they would be adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reports.

Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced the government’s decision as part of their “Anti-Racism Strategy” from 2019-2022.

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Board of Directors co-chair Jeffrey Rosenthal told CJN, “This is a major milestone in the struggle against anti-Semitism. It sets a strong example and offers a practical tool for authorities – from police and prosecutors, to school principals and campus officials – as they work to tackle anti-Semitism on the ground across Canada.”

House of Common Liberal Members of Parliament Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt wrote in a June 25 CJN Op-ed that the IHRA consists of 32 countries and was established in 1998 to help further Holocaust education and research. In light of anti-Semitism increasing around the globe, including in Canada, it “is absolutely vital” to adopt a formal definition of anti-Semitism, Housefather and Levitt argued.

“Anti-Semitism is unique in that it takes on many forms,” Housefather and Levitt wrote. “We know all too well that anti-Semitism is not confined to any one segment of society or position on the political spectrum. Jews in Canada and around the world have been the victims of hate from white supremacists, religious radicals and those who mask their hatred of Jews with thinly veiled attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.”

They added that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism also includes illegitimate criticism of Israel.

“Too often, anti-Israel rhetoric, like that employed by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, is marked by de-legitimization, demonization and double standards – aspects of discourse that clearly cross the line into anti-Semitism,” Housefather and Levitt wrote. “This happens not only at hateful rallies like the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration in Toronto, but often through the perversion of international institutions to repeatedly and disproportionately condemn the only Jewish state.”

The American Jewish Committee praised the Canadian government’s move in a tweet.

B’nai Brith Canada’s yearly anti-Semitism audit found that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 16.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, hitting a record high for the third straight year.

German Students Pass Anti-BDS Resolution

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

German student groups passed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on June 16 at the German-Israel student conference, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The resolution stated that the student groups supporting the resolution would not engage in any sort of cooperation with BDS supporters, calling BDS “a particularly aggressive expression of Israeli anti-Semitism, for which there can be no room at German universities.” Among the student groups supporting the resolution included “the Christian Democratic students, Young Socialists student groups, Liberal student groups and Green Party student associations,” per the Post.

Jewish Student Union Executive Board Member Ruben Gerczikow tweeted, “What remains is the call for more Israel solidarity & against all anti-Semitism!”

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “We are pleased to see such consensus on rejecting this hate-driven movement.”

StandWithUs tweeted thanks to the students involved in the resolution’s passage.

The German parliament passed a resolution denouncing the BDS movement in May as anti-Semitic, urging the government not to conduct business with any entities that boycott Israel. On June 3, 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars signed a letter advocating for the German government to reject the resolution. The government has not rendered a decision on the matter.

Israeli President on BDS: ‘Nothing Progressive About Anti-Semitism’

Photo from Wikipedia.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a Thursday speech at the Israeli Strategic Ministry’s anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem, saying that there’s “nothing progressive about anti-Semitism.”

Rivlin began his speech with the argument that “BDS does not seek peace,” as its only goal is “to delegitimize Israel’s very existence.” He argued that all possible avenues must be utilized to defeat BDS.

“We must expose the modern blood libels spread by BDS and banish its hate and discrimination,” Rivlin said. “The state of Israel has no problem with legitimate criticism.”

Rivlin explained that legitimate criticism involves Diaspora Jews voicing concerns about the Israeli government’s actions regarding security; he argued that the Israeli government should put further stock into the Diaspora’s views.

The Israeli president pointed out that there is an increase in both left-wing and right-wing anti-Semitism as well as anti-Semitism from Islamists, and highlighted how left-wing anti-Semitism manifests itself as anti-Zionism.

“They try to present their campaign to boycott Israel as progressive,” Rivlin said. “There is nothing progressive about hate. There is nothing progressive about anti-Semitism.”

He then condemned right-wing anti-Semitism, arguing that they claim to “admire Israel but they don’t like too much Jews. Friends, as I have said in the past, the Jewish people are not strategic allies. We are all one family.”

Rivlin expressed confidence that BDS would be defeated.

“Just look around you,” Rivlin said. “Israel is wholly thriving, a world-center innovation in progress and a magnet for investment and business and hub for those who seek a better world. That is the story of Israel.”

H/T: i24News

Roger Waters ‘Deeply Moved’ By Gift from Venezuela’s Maduro

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters announced in a June 15 Facebook post that he received a gift from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and he was “deeply moved” by it.

The gift was a Venezuelan cuatro, which is a guitar with four nylon strings. Maduro’s signature was on the back of the instrument, where he wrote that his gift was out of “affection” for Waters.

“Thank you President Maduro for your kind gift and message,” Waters wrote. “I shall continue to support the people of Venezuela, and continue to oppose U.S. interference in your country, particularly the illegal and inhumane monetary sanctions that seek to make life intolerable for your people.”

Maduro is currently embattled with claims that his presidency is illegitimate. He has claimed that the opposition to him is the result of a “Zionist” conspiracy; Maduro’s supporters have similarly said that the Venezuelan opposition is doing Israel’s bidding, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“Many government statements have crossed the line into anti-Semitism,” the ADL wrote on the matter. “In addition, Hezbollah’s documented presence in the region is deeply concerning, especially since their terrorist activities twice struck Argentina in the 1990s.”

The ADL also noted that the Jewish population in Venezuela “has declined markedly in the past two decades. The Chavez/Maduro governments have been overtly anti-Israel, pro-Iran and Syria, and used the Palestinian cause as a propaganda tool to advance their foreign policy agenda.”

Human Rights Watch has documented the Maduro regime’s efforts to detain political opponents and journalists while cracking down those protesting his regime.

“In two crackdowns in 2014 and 2017, Venezuelan security forces and armed pro-government groups called ‘colectivos’ attacked demonstrations—some attended by tens of thousands of protesters,” Human Rights Watch notes. “Security force personnel shot demonstrators at point-blank range with riot-control munitions, brutally beat people who offered no resistance, and staged violent raids on apartment buildings.”

Waters is an avowed supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel; Disturbed lead singer David Draiman called out Waters’ anti-Israel activism, pointing out that Waters’ ilk single out Israel while ignoring the “oppressive” regimes in countries like Russia and China.

“It’s just Israel that gets this treatment, and I think we all know the reason behind that,” Draiman said in a May 30 Facebook video. “There’s a special hatred that exists for the Jewish people in this world and it unfortunately can’t be explained. It’s something that has lasted and has been deep-seated for centuries and that’s part of our burden as a people, unfortunately.”

When the Chicken Votes for Colonel Sanders

There is no question anti-Semitism is on the rise internationally at a level not seen in decades. Sometimes couched as anti-Israel, we find supporters of discrimination in their spheres of influence, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), spouting prejudices with hubris while their party’s leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, remain mostly silent.

German Jews recognize they safely exist only through police protection, who park outside German synagogues to prevent anti-Semitic violence. In Poland, the home of Auschwitz, anti-Semitism has become so accepted it blatantly is part of the platform of the National Democratic Party, known as “Endeks.” A recent Polish weekly national newspaper ran the headline “How to Spot a Jew.” At a political debate in Poland, one of the candidates held a yarmulke over the head of his opponent and said, “She bows to the Jews.”

Anti-Semitism is not new. One can trace its roots to a mistranslation in the Vulgate bible of the fourth century; through the blood libel of the Middle Ages; the persecutions and pogroms of the last 500 years; to the culmination of the Holocaust in the last century. It is not surprising Omar and Tlaib quote Al-Jazeera — which is trying to rebrand itself as AJ+ to avoid its jihadist perception in the West — which publishes articles denying the Holocaust, blames Jews for the problems in the world and supports the destruction of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

What is surprising is how some American Jews support individuals and organizations promoting this hatred. Did 21st-century Jews learn nothing from the horrors of Nazi Germany?

Yet, this is not the first time Jews have been like chickens that vote for Colonel Sanders. From 1921 to 1935, there was a group named the Association of German National Jews (Verband national Deutsche Juden), whose goal was the total assimilation of Jews into German culture; the self-eradication of Jewish identity; the expulsion of all Eastern European Jews from Germany; and a radical hatred of Zionism. Sadly, these seem like the same goals of many Jews in America choosing to deny the faith and practices of their ancestors in favor of secularizing themselves. On some level — often unconscious — they believe if they deny their Judaism and go along with the anti-Semitic rhetoric, non-Jewish Americans will better accept them. Unfortunately, they are avoiding looking at history.

“Let us not make the mistake again of allying ourselves with people who hate us because we think there is a shared common goal such as a desire for different political leaders.”

Although the German Association advocated loyalty to the Nazis, the Nazis never accepted the group, declaring the organization illegal; it disbanded in 1935. The association thought that if it tied itself to many other groups that were coming together in support of the Nazis, it would be accepted. Ultimately, this was not only untrue, but in retrospect, shows the members to be leaders in their own self-destruction.

Today, many Jews have tied themselves to the world of academia and the intelligentsia, believing that by identifying with these intellectual leaders, their “Jewishness” will no longer be an issue. Again, history shows the exact opposite.

In Max Weinrich’s classic study, “Hitler’s Professors,” he relates that “people of long and high standing, university professors and academy members” colluded with the Nazi regime. “German scholarship provided the ideas and techniques which led to and justified this unparalleled slaughter.” Even German Nobel Prize-winners including Johannes Stark and Philipp Lenard created “research” to justify Nazi atrocities. In the United States today, just as in pre-World War II Germany, there have been instances of professors in disciplines unrelated to Judaism or Israel (such as mathematics, science, etc.) condemning Israel and Jews, and espousing their views from an “academic” perspective, even questioning the Holocaust itself.

In Germany, there was an alliance of “outsiders” that opposed the pre-Nazi government, but as soon as Hitler fully came to power, it quickly condemned the Jews as well, ultimately to their deaths. We must make certain history does not repeat itself — that Jews, academics with intellectual honesty and all people with good ethics not accept the words and actions of Tlaib, Omar, the Endeks and the like.

To avoid another Holocaust, God forbid, we all are obligated to take a stand against these anti-Semitic hate mongers. Let us not make the mistake again of allying ourselves with people who hate us because we think there is a shared common goal such as a desire for different political leaders. Those temporary allies will quickly abandon us and demonstrate their discrimination as soon as they have any control of their own.

Two thousand years ago, the great Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” For 70 years, there has been the chant “Never Forget!” We need to remember not just the atrocities of the Nazis, but how they rose to power and who helped put them there. May we all have the courage and strength to stand up and act against all forms of hatred when they are expressed, especially when political leaders and parties espouse them. And may all people of all faiths honestly express and live out the teachings of their traditions to create a world of true peace.

Rabbi Michael Barclay is the spiritual leader of Temple Ner Simcha (NerSimcha.org) and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together.” He can be reached at RabbiBarclay@aol.com.

June 21, 2019


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Ocasio Cortez and Cheney Should Stop Abusing Holocaust for Political Gain

Photo from Wikipedia.

When it was revealed that undocumented immigrants at the southern United States border were being mass detained without trials, I, like many others, was absolutely horrified. The Trump administration’s tactics of intimidating, traumatizing and punishing migrants have been some of the most characteristically cruel policies of its reign.

Many people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, began to point out how the United States, once again, was running concentration camps. My grandmother survived Auschwitz, where most of her family was murdered, so this is a sensitive subject for me. It’s charged enough when prominent people like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez bring up “concentration camp,” a term that refers uniquely to one of humanity’s greatest atrocities. 

Even worse, though, is when the conversation quickly descends into a despicable feud, where members of both the right and the left used actual crimes committed against my family to swipe at one another. 

To all the people with no direct ties to the Holocaust throwing political punches: Stop using my family’s murders as a talking point, claiming their graves as a platform to stand on in your Twitter arguments.

This week, both Ocasio Cortez and Liz Cheney are guilty of exploiting the Holocaust for political points. After declaring the detention centers were concentration camps, AOC told her live-stream watchers to “talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘Never Again’ means something.”

But “never again” means nothing to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who consistently has taken a weak stance on anti-Semitism. Every time it’s brought up, she treats hatred of Jews as a distraction from “more important” problems. This March, the congresswoman implied that Jewish complaints about Ilhan Omar’s comments were distracting from other social issues.

“If we’re so concerned about implied tropes, why aren’t we concerned about this one?” she tweeted. “Where was the concern last week when 26 Dems voted for a GOP amendment to expand ICE powers rooted in the racist + false trope that Latino immigrants are more dangerous than US born citizens?”

When it comes to using the Holocaust as a talking point to promote her political goals, she’s all game. Actually defending Jews from another genocide? AOC’s got somewhere else to be. When asked point blank to condemn anti-Semitism from the Women’s March, she refused. While she talks about the cruelties on the Southern border, Cortez has been absolutely silent on the horrific 82 percent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city she represents. If she cares so much about learning from the Holocaust and protecting its lessons, why hasn’t she done anything about the one-third of its survivors living in poverty in America – many of whom reside in New York City?

While AOC only defiles the Holocaust as a springboard for other issues, Liz Cheney exploits it to silence her opponents.

“Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust,” Cheney tweeted. “You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” Here, Cheney uses the Holocaust to hush Ocasio Cortez about policies that indeed resemble the early days of the genocide. Concentration camps, where prisoners were not murdered, existed before the death camps that took six million Jewish lives. Cheney herself demonstrates a poor understanding of Holocaust history, and is only looking for ammo against her opponents, which is exactly what she sees anti-Semitism charges as.

“To all the people with no direct ties to the Holocaust throwing political punches: Stop using my family’s murders as a talking point.”

In the past few months, Cheney has nonstop attacked Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and the Democrats at large by accusing them of anti-Semitism. But when Neo-Nazis marched in the streets looking to complete the mission of the Holocaust, Cheney did not adequately stand up for Jews.

In fact, she stood by Donald Trump as he equated counter-protesters with white supremacists and said there were “good people on both sides.”

“I welcome President Trump’s comments at the White House this morning, and his determination to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice,” she said in response. When the White House didn’t even acknowledge the murder of Jews in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, the Republican congresswoman didn’t bring up that six million of us were slaughtered. Why would she? It wouldn’t benefit her politically.

Science writer Erin Biba best describes the common depravity between Ocasio Cortez and Cheney.

“The only time I ever hear any of our politicians speak about Jews is when they’re using us as a tool and an example to prove a point unrelated to us. It’s disgusting,” Biba tweeted. “This goes for Jewish ‘allies’ too. If you have only expressed support for us after the mass shootings in our places of worship (remember those?) and then forgotten to include us when you made your cute Twitter list of oppressed people to protect then you’re disgusting too.”

As the mob debated over the semantics of whether it’s appropriate to use the term “concentration camps,” one thing became clear: This fight is not about Jews or the Holocaust. It’s about who gets to exploit them.

Why Are Progressives Using an Anti-Semitic Slur Coined by the KKK?

After a video of New York University student Leen Dweik confronting Chelsea Clinton at the Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre vigil went viral in February, thousands of people dug through Dweik’s Twitter feed. What did they find? A bunch of slurs. Dweik quickly apologized for dropping the racist “N” word and homophobic “F” word. However, no apology came for publicly calling someone the white supremacist phrase “Zio.”

While it might seem like an innocent abbreviation of Zionist, “Zio” is a derogatory code word for Jews invented by white supremacists. Despite its right-wing extremist roots, the term has been re-popularized by anti-Israel activists, normalizing violent anti-Semitic vernacular among self-identified progressives.

In 2017, the Chicago Dyke March tweeted, “Zio tears replenish my electrolytes!” after it was criticized for removing participants who waved rainbow flags adorned with a Star of David. In 2016, a chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club resigned over the constant use of the term among his peers. Just type the word into Twitter advanced search and you’ll find it casually used by pro-Palestinian advocates and white supremacists alike.

A history of hate taints the term “Zio.”

“The primary user of the term tends to be someone on the far right, typically a white supremacist,” Aryeh Tuchman, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said. “David Duke is probably the best example. For him, it’s ‘Zio’ this and ‘Zio’ that.” Tuchman explained the term rose to prominence as a cover for right-wing anti-Semitism on social media.

“Zio” has been a way for even someone as openly hateful as Duke to avoid being de-platformed from social media. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, by July 2017, the former KKK Grand Wizard had used “Zio” 359 times since January 2012 in episode radio descriptions. If you searched for the term on his website, you’d get 264 pages of results. He even said “Zios” caused the Sandy Hook shooting. Today, a Google search for the term yields approximately 20,100 results.

“‘Zio’ has been used by people who are hardened and overt anti-Semites as a way of attacking Jews while maintaining what they think is plausible deniability, and as a result, it has become a slur in some communities.” — Aryeh Tuchman, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism

“For the people on the extreme right and to racists, ‘Zio’ is a way of making clear to the readers or listeners that they are talking about Jews, without having to go out and say they are talking about Jews,” Tuchman said.  “That can be particularly helpful when they are speaking in a forum such as Twitter or Facebook where overt anti-Jewish comments might get taken down.” 

But what does it mean when “Zio” is used by left-wing thinkers such as Dweik, who criticize Israel and paint the Jewish state or its supporters as white supremacists themselves?

“It doesn’t necessarily have the anti-Semitic connotation that it might have from someone on the extreme right who is using it, unless they are using it as a way of accomplishing what the extreme right also tries to do, which is to mask their anti-Semitism,” Tuchman explained, noting how if something is seen as objectively anti-Semitic on social media, the platform may ban it.

However, the term serves as a useful code word for tweeting attacks on Jews (that won’t get you suspended from Twitter) for any anti-Semite, regardless of the side of the aisle from which they hurl their hate. Nothing encapsulates the portion of the anti-Israel movement that is virulently anti-Jewish more than their use of the term “Zio,” which offers “plausible deniability” for anti-Zionists to say they are criticizing pro-Israel thinkers — even if they, like Duke, truly mean to demonize Jews.

No one can detect a person’s true intent, which has left many who see covert anti-Semitism in activist spaces unsure whether they need to combat the bigotry or educate well-meaning voices on it. Whether they are faced with the United Kingdom’s Labour Party or the Chicago Dyke March, Jews find themselves repeatedly asking: Are advocates using anti-Semitic tropes because they are malevolent or ignorant?

When an activist group uses the term “Zio,” it could demonstrate its leaders are not familiar with anti-Semitism enough to avoid borrowing the language of the KKK, highlighting a blind spot. This is what the Chicago Dyke March claimed when it took down its tweet and posted, “Sorry y’all! Definitely didn’t know the violent history of the term. We meant Zionist/white tears replenish our electrolytes.”

Even worse, the offender could know but not care. There is a possibility that progressives have adopted the extremist anti-Semitism of proud racists.

The rise of “Zio” among left-wing discussions could be a symptom of another ignorance: the Zionist movement itself.

According to Tuchman, “Zio” is “increasingly used by people on the left in the progressive world where Zionist is a pejorative and Zionism is being viewed as an evil, racist, genocidal ideology. So to call someone a ‘Zionist’ is becoming one of the worst things you can call someone if you’re a member of one of those movements.”

This is symptomatic of a movement to falsely malign Zionism as an “evil, racist and genocidal ideology.” Rather than having a one size fits all idea of what the state of Israel should look and act like, Zionists simply support the self-determination of the Jewish people in their indigenous homeland. They have a wide spectrum of ideas regarding Palestinian self-determination, Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, many anti-Semites find the concept of Jews having any power inherently sinister and threatening. It is this paranoia that drives conspiracy theories that Jews control the weather, banks, government and media, and the belief that we have supernatural abilities to hypnotize our victims. There is no bigger expression of Jewish power than Jews having their own state.

Those who hurl “Zio” around in conversations reduce a complex movement into a monolithic caricature.

“No one can detect a person’s true intent, which has left many who see covert anti-Semitism in activist spaces unsure whether they need to combat the bigotry or educate well-meaning voices on it.”

“You can talk about Zionism with more nuance or less nuance. Not even finishing the word is about as little nuance as you can possibly get,” Tuchman said.

Nuance aside, at the end of the day, intent doesn’t matter — consequences do. Even if someone typed out “Zio” rather than the full term “Zionist” out of pure laziness, that person is normalizing extremism.

“ ‘Zio’ has been used by people who are hardened and overt anti-Semites as a way of attacking Jews while maintaining what they think is plausible deniability, and as a result, it has become a slur in some communities,” Tuchman said. “The use of the term … may make the ground fertile for the dissemination of ideas from the extreme right into other populations and movements,” he added, noting that the popularity of the term in left-wing circles is creating shared nomenclature with the alt-right. “If I’m a progressive, and I become accustomed to using the term ‘Zio’ as prefix, perhaps I will be more inclined to read a tweet from David Duke with more sympathy, because he is speaking my language,” he said.

Just as we shamed Dweik for using the “N” word and “F” word — even in jest — the public must make “Zio” socially unacceptable. If we do not, progressives will be normalizing not just anti-Semitism, but white supremacy.

Ariel Sobel is a screenwriter, filmmaker and activist, and won the 2019 Bluecat Screenplay Competition. Find more of her work on her website.

Education Dept. Investigating UNC-Duke Conference

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Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos told Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) in a Tuesday letter that the ED will be investigating University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Duke University’s joint Middle East conference from March 22-24.

The conference, titled “Conflict Over Gaza,” featured the rapper Tamer Nafer telling an audience that he “cannot be anti-Semitic alone” and to think of Mel Gibson before singing, “I fell in love with a Jew… her skin is white and my skin is brown, she was going up and I was going down.” Holding sent a request on April 15 to the ED asking that they investigate federal grant money being used to put on the event. He wrote that the event had “a biased anti-Israeli agenda.”

DeVos wrote in her response to Holding that the conference “troubled” her.

“In order for the Department to learn more about this matter, I have directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to examine the use of funds under this program to determine if the [UNC-Duke University Middle East Studies] Consortium violated the terms and conditions of its grant,” DeVos wrote. She also noted that grant money needs to go toward events featuring “a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.”

Holding said in a statement to The News and Observer “that taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund overtly biased advocacy under the guise of academic discourse.”

UNC told The News and Observer that they are cooperating with the ED’s investigation and that less than $200 from a $235,000 grant went toward the conference, although they initially had $5,000 earmarked for the conference.

On April 12, UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement that he was “heartbroken and deeply offended” over Nafer’s song. Duke University President Vincent E. Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth said in an April 11 statement, “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.”

The Consortium called Nafer’s song “inexcusable” in an April 18 statement and apologized “for the hurt his comments have caused and we are saddened that this scholarly event was marred by association with anti-Semitism. We as a Consortium join the leaders of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in reaffirming our commitment to educational opportunities free of all forms of hate.”

ADL CEO Calls Malaysia PM’s Anti-Semitic Remarks ‘Disturbing’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s anti-Semitic comments at a June 17 speaking appearance at Cambridge Union “disturbing” in a tweet.

Cambridge Union Speakers Officer of the Union Adam Davies asked Mohamed, “Why do you say that the Jewish people in general are inclined towards money?” Mohamed responded, “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.”

Mohamed’s answer prompted laughter from the audience.

Greenblatt tweeted, “Unclear what is more disturbing: Malaysian PM Mahathir’s #antiSemitic comments or the audience’s laughter in response. Shameful that the Cambridge Union saw fit to provide a platform to this unrepentant anti-Semite.”

The American Jewish Committee similarly tweeted Mohamed’s comments “should have drawn horrified gasps, not laughter.”

Cambridge Union defended their decision to invite Mohamed in a statement posted to Twitter, saying that Davies and members of the audience challenged the Malaysian prime minister on prior anti-Semitic statements. They also claimed that the video showing laughter from the audience was “selectively edited.

The U.K. Campaign Against Anti-Semitism disputed Cambridge Union’s defense, arguing that Mahathir’s past statements were only “meekly” challenged that “the laughter came from across the crowd, including your own members.”

Mahathir has a long history of anti-Semitic remarks, including a 2012 blog post stating, “I am glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.” Malaysia lost the opportunity to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships after the Malaysian government barred Israeli athletes from participating in the tournament.

Education Department Investigating Qatari Funding of Two Universities

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The Department of Education (ED) is investigating Qatari and other foreign sources of funding to Georgetown University and Texas A&M University, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The ED sent letters to the aforementioned universities on June 13 alleging that neither university has fully disclosed their funding from Qatar, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to the AP, the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit with connections to the Qatari government, provided $33 million to Georgetown in 2018 and $6.1 million to Texas A&M in 2018, the entirety of Texas A&M’s foreign funding. Georgetown received $36 million in foreign funding in 2018.

Overall, Georgetown has received more than $415 in foreign funding since 2012 and Texas A&M has received $285 million since 2014.

The AP report notes that U.S. colleges and universities are required by law to report all foreign sources of funding of $250,000 or more; if Georgetown and Texas A&M did not fully disclose these foreign sources of funding, they “could face legal action and financial penalties,” per the AP.

Both universities told the AP that they are cooperating with the investigation and they take such matters seriously.

Security Studies Group Senior Vice President David Reaboi wrote in the cover story for the Journal’s May 24 issue that Qatar funnels money toward American universities to garner support for the Qatari regime. The Qatar Foundation, which Reaboi describes as being “like Al Jazeera” in how it’s used for the Qataris “to project soft power,” provided “hundreds of millions of dollars” to Georgetown, Texas A&M, Cornell, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Qatar’s adventurism greatly imperils the security of Israel as well as the United States,” Reaboi wrote. “The emirate undermines the stability of its Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; it promotes Islamists in vulnerable, Western-open societies; and it diplomatically and financially supports violent terrorist groups such as Hamas, al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

French Imam Says Anti-Zionists ‘Say Anti-Semitic Things in a More Polite Manner’

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A French imam told the Jerusalem Post on June 12 that anti-Zionism is essentially anti-Semitism expressed cloaked in respectful language.

Imam Hassen Chalgoumi, who is leading a French Muslims for Israel delegation, told the Post, “Anti-Zionist propaganda is a mask; it is actually anti-Semitic, but is used to say anti-Semitic things in a more polite manner. What characterizes anti-Zionism is hatred. If we were simply talking about criticism of the State of Israel, we wouldn’t see the hatred and talk of the need to wipe out and destroy Israel.”

Chalgoumi added that a key reason as to why anti-Semitism is rising in France is due to Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood promulgating “old anti-Semitic tropes, such as Jews controlling the world, being rich” and expressing their “hatred of Israel.”

There was a 74 percent spike in anti-Semitic incidents in France from 2017 to 2018, and 95 percent of Jews in France view anti-Semitism as a serious problem in the country, according to The New Republic.

“France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and the third largest in the world,” the New Republic’s Jess McHugh wrote in March. “Anti-Semitism in the country springs not only from fringe online groups but also from a long history of Jewish persecution and a contemporary anti-establishment surge. Today, Jewish historians and advocacy groups say, the far-left, the far-right, and radical Muslims—groups with few shared interests, historically—are finding common ground in anti-Semitism and the gilets jaunes [yellow vests movement]. And as they do so, the language of anti-Semitism is shifting, making it particularly hard to track and filter as new laws would demand.”

This shift is manifesting itself into language conflating “Israel’s policies with Jews everywhere,” McHugh wrote.

Jewish Journal Editor-In-Chief David Suissa argued in a May 29 Op-ed that anti-Zionism is worse than anti-Semitism because “anti-Semitism revolves around an emotion — hate. Anti-Zionism revolves around an action — destruction.” Suissa added that anti-Semites can’t be open about their Jew-hatred, so instead “they work to undermine, in sneaky ways, the world’s only Jewish state.”

Report: Hezbollah U.K. Terror Attack Foiled in 2015

Released Hezbollah prisoners marching in a parade in their honor in Beirut, 2008. Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty

British authorities snuffed out a potential Hezbollah terror attack in 2015 after raiding the terror group’s stockpile of explosives, according to a June 9 report from the UK Telegraph.

The Telegraph report states that MI5 and the Metropolitan Police raided four areas in northwest London and discovered myriad ice packs containing three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, more than what was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, per the Jewish Chronicle. An unidentified 40-year-old man was also arrested during the raid but was later released.

Hezbollah’s reported terror plot was still in the process of being planned, but it is believed that the terror group was planning other terror attacks worldwide as well, as Hezbollah cells were later discovered in New York, Thailand and Cyprus. Israeli intelligence helped tip off British authorities about Hezbollah’s explosives as well as the other aforementioned plots, according to the Times of Israel.

The Telegraph report noted that the raid occurred three months after Britain signed onto the Iran nuclear deal, which the Telegraph said “raises questions about whether senior UK government figures chose not to reveal the plot in part because they were invested in keeping the Iran nuclear deal afloat.” The raid was also kept secret during the British parliament’s debate on banning Hezbollah’s political wing from the country. The British government officially banned the terror group in February.

Labour Friends of Israel Chair and Member of Parliament Joan Ryan said in a letter to Home Secretray Sajid Javid, “Without the bravery of our security forces this would have been used to target and murder Jews around the world. We now need to know urgently why the Government failed to disclose this vital information to the public and parliamentarians and resisted for more than three years my calls to ban Hezbollah in its entirety.”

In addition to terrorism, Hezbollah has been involved in transnational criminal activity, including drug trafficking in Latin America.

“Hezbollah has one goal and it shares the same goal with other radical Islamic organizations and that is to establish an Islamic state where Sharia [law] rules supreme,” American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal said during an event at Wilshire Boulevard Temple School May 28.

How Jewish Women Are Being Harassed Online for Fighting Anti-Semitism

As a Jewish woman who frequently shares her opinions on social media, I’ve been targeted online by white supremacists, communist bots from China, die-hard Donald Trump fanatics, Polish nationalists and Laura Loomer (before she was yanked off every kind of social media known to man). But the worst abuse I’ve received has been from my political home: the left.

Whenever I speak up against anti-Semitism, hordes of liberal men dogpile me, informing me I have a “bad take,” and calling me “stupid,” a “dumba– s—,” “fragile,” “delusional” and a “basic, petty worm.” Sometimes, they send me images of male anatomy or animals defecating. My critics have gone as far as to mock my appearance and advise me to get plastic surgery, or simply tell me to drown.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone.

Although all sorts of women experience abuse online, Jewish women face obscene sexual harassment for speaking out against hate. What’s more shocking is that the attacks come from progressive circles. Despite the left’s emphasis on gender equality, progressive men cruelly and consistently mob online Jewish women who are fighting anti-Semitism.

“Any time a Jewish woman, especially on Twitter, speaks up about anti-Semitism, we get hordes of trolls in our mentions, trying to silence us,” said Rafaella Gunz, a journalist for Gay Star News who lives in New York City. The 25-year-old has received messages telling her “Judaism is a racist cult, worse than Nazism” and “go f— yourself you white supremacist zio fascist b—-.”

“Not only do they despise people taking a stand against anti-Semitism (especially true on the left in my experience), but when the person taking a stand is a woman, there is a much more visceral reaction,” Gunz wrote in an email. “They call us words they wouldn’t call men: b—-, c—, whore.”

Kaitlyn Abas, a 26-year-old waitress in the United Kingdom who is active on social media, agrees. “I’ve seen more Jewish women, including myself, get abused more than men,” she said. “I think they see us as weaker. Clearly, they’ve never met a Jewish woman in their lives because if they had, they’d know how strong we are.”

To me, these attacks are a direct response to Jewish women’s strength. Many of us are unapologetically outspoken against bigotry. When our foes notice how determined Jewish women are in the face of anti-Semitism, they try to intimidate us with floods of misogynist abuse.

While Natalia Sloam, assistant managing editor at Linkwell Health, said she’s often called “condescending phrases such as ‘pet, sweetheart or darling,’ ” other women assert they’ve been threatened with promises of violence.

“What we are seeing is none other than victim blaming, carried out by the activist community that popularized the term.”

“I’ve been told to go back to the gas chamber. I’ve been told I should be raped, repeatedly,” said Elayna Tell, a personal assistant in Washington, D.C., who said she has experienced dogpiling from progressive men online.  “Simply because I speak about the Jewish experience as a Jewish woman.”

These attacks are rooted in anti-Semitism and misogyny.

After college student Ellen Borenstein called out anti-Semitism on Facebook, a man taunted her, writing, “I’ll send you a box of Kotex.” When Chicago-based 39-year-old Naomi Schmahl spoke up against anti-Semitism on the left, she was sent messages calling her a “Nazi whore” and “b—-” and to “go get f—ed but don’t reproduce, the world doesn’t need any more of you neocons running around.”

“I’ve been threatened. I’ve been called everything from a Jewish b—- to a baby killer to a Satan worshipper,” Abas said. “I feel alone. I feel sick. I feel like no one really cares. Each abusive message drains me as a person. I took out ‘Jewish’ from my Twitter bio so I’d get less abuse.”

Few are more explicitly Jewish on Twitter than Tablet contributing editor Carly Pildis. “I have been harassed by both the left and the right,” Pildis told me. “It’s definitely a trend.”

But for others, the attacks overwhelmingly have come from left-wing voices.

“I get more anti-Semitism from the left than I do the right, at the moment,” noted Abas, who predominantly is targeted for speaking out against anti-Semitism within the British Labour party. Sloam, who lives in London, is in the same boat. “It is absolutely extraordinary to me that this comes from Labour members,” she said. “They are supposedly the ‘anti-racist’ party, but since [Jeremy] Corbyn has become [the party’s] leader, everything has changed.”

According to Carly Susman, New York-based junior art director at the advertising agency Soubriet Byrne & Associates, the problem has crossed the Atlantic. “I see so much of it happening, specifically in spaces that pride themselves on being diverse and welcoming — anything from the Women’s March, [Rep.] Ilhan Omar’s tweets, other leftist spaces. I feel defeated and unwelcome pretty quickly,” the 27-year-old said.

In the case of prominent New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, speaking out against anti-Semitism involves being called a b—-, whore and “bislut.” Some of her critics, one of whom said, “do not call yourself a lefty. You are nothing but an Israeli whore,” refer to her as a “worthless stupid c—” and wish for her violent death.

Now, Weiss is explicitly a liberal. But progressives are the first to attack her, along with scores of other left-wing Jewish women.

“I’m a registered Democrat but don’t always agree with the far left, as a lot of harassment comes from them,” said Renae Ison, 36, a customer service representative in Louisville, Ky. “I regularly feel dogpiled by them.”

“We not only get intimidated by the right, we are also incessantly harassed by the left — and this includes way too many Jewish men,” said Sara Bobkoff, a progressive writer living in the Netherlands. “If Jewish men put the focus on Jewish women, they can deflect from being targeted themselves and show loyalty in a movement where their role is precarious to begin with.”

When Schmahl accused liberal Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley of normalizing anti-Semitism, she was dogpiled. “I’ve been harassed by Neo-Nazis before but I’ve never had this level of sexual violence directed at me,” she tweeted.

What is the justification? If a woman criticizes anti-Semitism on the left, she is betraying progressive values. “If I speak up about anti-Semitism on the other side of the aisle, I get labeled as some sort of Republican enabler and not on the left,” progressive activist Schmahl said.

“Although interviewing many Jewish women who’ve faced this made me feel validated, it didn’t make me feel better.” 

For these men, social justice is a loophole to harass Jewish women without being called out as sexist. They rationalize we are the real threats to progressive ideas such as gender equality if we speak out against anti-Semitism demonstrated by people with whom they are politically aligned. In their eyes, they are the true feminists. Women are simply getting in the way.

When Schmahl went public with the abusive messages she received from criticizing anti-Semitism on the left, more liberal men shamed her for speaking out against the harassment. “I don’t know who you are trying to impress by making your conversations public on Twitter but it’s a low blow,” a man who identified himself only as Chris wrote to her. “It might do you some good to get a tougher skin,” Chris said. “The thing that I hope you understand is airing these comments publicly only strengthens the right. I know women who get inappropriate messages like this from overzealous people, they certainly don’t tweet about it publicly because they know it can be used against the left, they understand that there’s a greater good involved.”

For Chris, the greater good involved not ever coming forward with the sexism Schmahl experienced from progressives. “Your energy and time would be better spent going after conservatives and those fake lefties who enable them, these are the real culprits of sexism, misogyny and anti-Semitism,” Chris wrote, deciding that liberals who called a strange woman on the internet a whore weren’t the real misogynists. “I would also encourage you to consider deleting your thread with the messages you received from Eli’s followers and in the future think about how your tweets about others may hurt real progressives.”

(From left) Author Ariel Sobel and Sara Bobkoff, progressive writer from the Netherlands.

Chris is right. There are real progressives hurting from sexism, misogyny and anti-Semitism. But it’s not men like him; it’s women like Schmahl. Not only is the left demanding our silence on anti-Semitism, but also on sexist harassment we receive for speaking out against it. If a Republican terrorizes a woman, it’s despicable; if a Democrat does it, it’s “overzealous.”

The rationale behind the abuse is creative. Many liberal men are desperate to sexually harass a woman on behalf of another woman. Criticized Ilhan Omar’s tweets? There are plenty of “Bernie Bros” (angry male supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) ready to call you a dumb b— in her (and what they see as feminism’s) defense. God forbid, if, like 97% of Jews, a woman supports Israel’s right to exist, anything goes. Everyone knows it’s disgusting to call a woman a whore, but according to this crowd, if you call her a “zio whore,” she deserves it.

What we are seeing is none other than victim blaming, carried out by the activist community that popularized the term.

“We not only get intimidated by the right, we are also incessantly harassed by the left — and this includes way too many Jewish men.” — Sara Bobkoff, progressive writer from the Netherlands

“Misojewny,” “anti-Semisogny” or whatever term you’d like to use to describe hatred of Jewish women, exists on the left, just like misogynoir, the hatred of black women. Although these prejudices take different forms, both are rooted in the desire to take down the most vulnerable woman in the room. Jewish women often are blamed for others abusing us, particularly if we have a controversial stance on Israel. This makes Jewish women easy targets for progressive men.

Some people might think these scenarios are cherry-picked. This article began as an investigation of harassment against Jewish women by anyone and everyone, but scores of victims kept pointing their fingers to the left.

That’s not to say Jewish women don’t receive harassment from the right. Ariel Gold, the staunchly anti-Zionist national co-director of CODEPINK, the women-led grassroots peace and justice organization, has been subjected to misogynist hate from men who believe she encourages anti-Semitism. Gold said she recently received a message that read “suck big fat Nazi d— you kapo b—-,” along with a picture of male anatomy. She’s also been told, “I hope all your Arab friends rape you at once” and received verified death threats.

“I think they see us as weaker. Clearly, they’ve never met a Jewish woman in their lives because if they had, they’d know how strong we are.” 

I spent months this year with my picture as the pinned tweet of a white supremacist’s Twitter feed, which was devoted to spreading “profiles” of predominantly Jewish women and their anti-racist tweets as proof Jews are “trying to replace the white race with black people.” The humiliation and targeting I experienced was unbearable.

But it haunts me that the self-identified feminists I should be able to go to for help in these scenarios are not speaking out against this behavior. In fact, I find harassment from the left to be much crueler and consistent; others find it unbearable.

For Sloam, the harassment has reached a breaking point. “I’ve been on Twitter for 10 years and I am seriously considering changing my screen name. It’s my real name and I feel vulnerable,” she said.

I put on a tough front, but I feel vulnerable, too. 

I’ve tried blocking and reporting. Still, these men remain fixated on me, regularly attacking me long after I’ve had a “block” party. The worst part is that some women who dislike my opinions are all too happy to join in on the misogynist dogpile. These liberals rail against me because by speaking out against left-wing anti-Semitism, I am somehow “not progressive enough.” The truth is, no woman — progressive or not — deserves to be sexually harassed, whether she votes Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Communist or Labour.

“I put on a tough front, but I feel vulnerable, too.”

Although interviewing many Jewish women who’ve faced this made me feel validated, it didn’t make me feel better. The women quoted are among the few who felt safe enough to use their names. Some were so terrified of more harassment, they made sure their social media handle wouldn’t be included in this story.

To break this cycle of abuse, I’d like to make less an argument than a plea. When you see a Jewish woman being dogpiled, come to her defense. When someone on Twitter gets “ratioed” (has much more disapproving comments than likes), it’s not a joke. It’s a rabid mob hellbent on silencing us, intent on damaging our mental and emotional health.

Please, jump in and tell the perpetrators they are engaging in sexual harassment. The progressive abusers often identify as feminists. Nothing would unsettle them more than getting called out for mistreating women. We have to recognize this for what it is: sexual harassment tinged with anti-Semitism.

Regardless of our gender, we must speak out against this abuse, and not just for women whose opinions we agree with — or even women we like. For women, Jewish or otherwise, to have voices in our society, we need the right to disagree without being mobbed, threatened and humiliated.

Ariel Sobel is a screenwriter, filmmaker and activist, and won the 2019 Bluecat Screenplay Competition. Her website is arielsobel.com.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote. Chris wrote, “It might do you some good to get a tougher skin.”

Where Is Jewish Pride?

The flag in question looked like this. Via WikiCommons

Perhaps the most surprising part of the D.C. Dyke March, which sought to ban rainbow flags embossed with the Star of David, was how surprised many people were by it.

I mean, where have they been for the past decade? 

Demonization of Israel, and by extension Jews, has now been fully normalized on the left, as part of a broader campaign to replace Israel with “Palestine,” in the false name of social justice.

The decision of the organizers to explicitly allow the Palestinian flag was far from incidental. “We choose to prioritize Palestinian lives and justice in Palestine over lazy symbols,” wrote the organizers. What sentence better sums up what “intersectionality” has become, or perhaps has always been? Does anyone really think a similar message won’t prevail at the Democratic National Convention in 2020?

I fully respect how A Wider Bridge, Zioness and the Anti-Defamation League chose to deal with the Dyke March’s ban: call it anti-Semitism and essentially force their way in. But I don’t think it’s ultimately effective — the problem of leftist anti-Semitism grows exponentially every day — and it is not, in my opinion, the dignified liberal Jewish response. 

Jews should not be groveling to be part of groups that hate us — we should not be forced to pray to the false god of identity politics. 

Moses gave us a blueprint on how to deal with situations like this. Throughout most of our history, we were not in a position to follow this blueprint. Today we are.

But in the name tikkun olam, many of us have forgotten that in order to be a light unto nations we first have to be a light for ourselves. We have come to tolerate hate against Jews that we would never tolerate against any other group. But we can’t help anyone else until we strongly unify ourselves against hate from both the left and the right.

“Jews should not be groveling to be part of groups that hate us.”

The normalization of anti-Semitism on the left is based on an easily refutable set of lies about Israel and Jews repeated over and over again on campuses, in the media and, now, in Congress. The Jewish liberal response is not to beg the perpetrators and pawns of these lies to be part of this pre-genocidal hatefest. The liberal Jewish response is to correct the lies — to tell the truth over and over again; to pull funding from any group or university that continues to employ anyone who perpetuates the lies; and perhaps most important, to stand tall throughout the process.

The purportedly Jewish organizer of the D.C. Dyke March didn’t know that the Star of David has been a symbol of Judaism for thousands of years. Many on the left apparently don’t know that Israel is a bastion of freedom for women and the LGBT community — that gay Palestinians flee to Israel for protection. Meanwhile, criminalization of homosexuality is the norm in Muslim countries, with nine retaining the death penalty. Beheadings and stonings are common responses.

A truly liberal left would hold Israel as an example of what LGBT rights would look like in the Middle East. Instead, Israel is falsely condemned, and citing Muslim homophobia is considered Islamophobic. Clearly, much work needs to be done — and it should be done in tandem with the Muslim Reform Movement.

Second, liberal Jews should walk away from hate groups and create truly liberal spaces — spaces that reteach liberalism through tolerance, respect, justice and compassion. Personally, I would also walk away from the word “progressive” — let the haters have it — but I understand the argument not to do so. For years, I’ve been told to walk away from the word “liberal,” but I refused. Today, most media outlets use leftist to refer to the illiberalism on the left.

Finally, there has never been a better time to enhance our Jewish pride through wearing those “lazy symbols” — the Star of David, the kippah — that have kept us as a people through centuries of persecution.

When we stand up with dignity against our oppressors, we show oppressed groups all over the world how to face lies, bigotry and ignorance — how to act as a free people. Liberalism stems from the essential principles of Judaism, and Zionism is a subset of liberalism. It’s time to fully own that.

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic living in New York City.

Iran Paper Runs Anti-Semitic Cartoon of German Foreign Minister

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The official paper of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ran an anti-Semitic cartoon of Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The paper, called Javan, depicted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas posing with a Nazi salute while wearing Star of David-rimmed glasses and a swastika armband.

Javan also had an editorial alongside the cartoon stating that “the stinking leftovers of Nazism and fascism have manifested themselves in the spirit of the weakest Europe in history.” Maas met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran on June 10, where he urged the Iranian government to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Post, “Why such desperation by Germany to save serial liar genocide wannabe tyrants in Tehran? Time to use peaceful sanctions to stand up to tyrants and stand up for people of Iran.”

Such anti-Semitic cartoons are not uncommon in Iran. On Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2012, Iran aired cartoons depicted Jews concocting the Holocaust as a fictional tale in order to steal land from Palestinian Arabs. In 2010, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) compiled a series of similar Holocaust-denying cartoons from the Iranian Holocartoons website.

Additionally, in 2006, The New York Times reported on the Palestinian Contemporary Art Museum in Tehran featuring images of “a Jew with a very large nose” and “the word Holocaust” on the man’s chest as part of a Holocaust cartoon-drawing contest. Other images included “a vampire wearing a big Star of David drinking the blood of Palestinians” and “[former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon dressed in a Nazi uniform, emblazoned not with swastikas but with the Star of David.”

Report: 30 Pro-BDS Organizations’ Financial Accounts Closed Over Ties to Terrorism

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs revealed that the financial accounts for 30 pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organizations have been closed since 2017 due to their ties to terrorism.

The Jerusalem Post reports that 10 of these organizations were in the United States and 20 were in Europe. One example was Samidoun, an organization that aims to free Palestinians from Israeli prisons, having their PayPal, Donorbox and Plaid accounts shut down over their reported ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that claims to be a human rights watchdog on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, similarly had their credit cards canceled over their reported ties to the PFLP.

Additionally, Interpal, an organization that purportedly provides financial aid to impoverished Palestinians, had myriad credit cards canceled and fundraising accounts shut down due to the organization’s reported ties to Hamas.

“For years, boycott promoters have disguised themselves as ‘human rights activists’, managing to raise tens of millions of euros from Western countries and citizens who thought they were contributing to causes supporting justice and equality,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. “Over time though, we have revealed that the supposed ‘human rights’ NGOs are in reality, filled with anti-Semitic operatives with deep ties to terrorist groups fixated on destroying the State of Israel. As a result of our actions, countries and financial institutions are now distancing themselves from these organizations.”

A February report from the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a June 2018 Tablet exposé document the various pro-BDS organizations that have ties to terror groups like Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad.

German Parliament Blocks Bill Barring Hezbollah

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah display Hezbollah and Iranian flags as they listen to him via a screen during a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in the southern village of Khiam, Lebanon August 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The German parliament shot down a bill on June 6 that would have fully barred Hezbollah from the country, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Currently, the German government has banned Hezbollah’s military wing, not its political wing. The German government also doesn’t designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Members of the German parliament voicing opposition to the bill claimed that dialogue was needed with the terror group rather than a full ban; some even claimed that Hezbollah was “legitimate resistance” to Israel, per the Post. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also opposed to a full Hezbollah ban.

The Germany Jewish community had been lobbying for the ban following Dr. Felix Klein, the German Commissioner to Combat Anti-Semitism, stating that German Jews shouldn’t wear kippot publicly.

“Hezbollah is heavily financed by Iran, and Hezbollah poses, in its entirety, a threat to the entire world,” Central Council of Jews in Germany head Dr. Joseph Schuster said in May, adding that “a continuation of the distinction between their individual wings would be negligent and should therefore be corrected as soon as possible.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted on June 6, “World Jewry rejects any #German who depicts #terrorist group bent on murdering #Jews as ‘legitimate resistance.’ #Hezbollah schemes to invade #Israel-kill Jews. Today’s Germany, has moral obligation to do no harm to Jews.”

The United Kingdom fully banned Hezbollah in February. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time, “It is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist. By proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.”

The Israel Defense Forces have destroyed six Hezbollah tunnels since December; they believe the Shia terror group was going to use the tunnels terrorize northern Israelis. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon determined that at least three of these tunnels violated the 2006 ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel.

American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal said at a May 28 panel at Wilshire Boulevard Temple School that Hezbollah uses their political wing in Lebanon to buy off public support through “welfare organizations,” which he compared to how “the mafia in Sicily provides similar services.”

According to the Post, there are around 150 Hezbollah operatives stationed in Lower Saxony, a northwestern German state.

Cornell Student: ‘Jewish Community Found Its Voice’ in Defeating BDS

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Cornell student Josh Eibelman, who warned of the normalization of anti-Semitism on campus, wrote in a June 5 Op-ed for The Forward that the campus “Jewish community found its voice” after they defeated a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution.

Eibelman wrote that Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) anti-Israel rhetoric, which included accusing Cornell’s Chabad of engaging in “shady politics,” provided a wake-up call to the Jewish community. Eibelman told the Journal in a phone interview that the community had gotten too “comfortable,” but once the Jewish and pro-Israel communities realized that “BDS and SJP were actual threats,” it became apparent that “more action had to be taken.”

The threat of SJP and BDS “mobilized hundreds of Jewish students on campus to attend student assembly meetings, to make pro-Israel and anti-BDS posters, and learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and that he, along with Cornellians for Israel and Hillel at Cornell, frequently met with members of the student assembly to convince them to vote against the BDS resolution, Eibelman wrote.

Eibelman told the Journal that most of the Student Assembly members didn’t know much about the conflict.

“I personally had a positive experience with a freshman on the Student Assembly who had no idea about any of the history, and I was able to convey the facts to him and also respond to all the things SJP was telling him, and he was able to become an advocate himself,” Eibelman said.

In his Op-ed, Eibleman wrote that the aforementioned assembly member “met with the BDS activists and challenged them with the facts” Eibelman provided him.

The BDS resolution narrowly failed on April 11, with 14 assembly members voting in favor and 13 against, with two extra “community” votes that ultimately defeated the resolution.

In our attempts to organize to defeat the BDS campaign, the Jewish community on campus found its voice,” Eibelman wrote in the Op-ed. “In other words, it totally backfired.”

Eibelman told the Journal that he still thinks anti-Semitism remains as much of a threat as when he wrote his April Algemeiner Op-ed on the matter and that likely there will be another push for BDS in the new school year. However, he is “hopeful” that the campus climate will improve for Jewish and pro-Israel students.

“We have organized and I think we’re in a better position to deal with it than we were last year,” Eibelman said.

On a personal level, Eibelman said that his recent experience in fighting against BDS has caused him to reconsider his pre-medical education track and move more toward a law background.

“I saw that I was capable of really effectively arguing for Israel and responding to some of the claims that SJP made and the BDS activists made, and I saw that those were some skills that I had,” Eibelman said.

Cornell student John Dominguez similarly wrote in an April Op-ed for the World Jewish Congress’ Digital Ambassador Club he formed a closer bond with the Jewish community on campus after the fight against BDS.

“Numerous friendships have been forged between myself and members of Cornell’s Jewish community,” Dominguez wrote. “I’ve become a ‘regular’ at Shabbat events on campus. My experiences at Hillel and Chabad have led me to develop a renewed knowledge of Judaism, its rich traditions and customs, and community. I’m proud to have to stood with students to reject BDS and invest in peace.”

ADL Condemns D.C. Dyke March’s Decision to Ban Israeli Symbols

The flag in question looked like this. Via WikiCommons

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the D.C. Dyke March for banning Israeli symbols at its June 7 event at McPherson Square in Washington, D.C., including a multicolored pride flag with the Jewish Star of David centered on it.

According to The Washington Post, D.C. Dyke organizer Yael Horowitz told former Nice Jewish Girls Director A.J. Campbell in a Facebook message, “Jewish stars and other identifications and celebrations of Jewishness (yarmulkes, talit, other expressions of Judaism or Jewishness) are welcome and encouraged.” However, Horowitz wrote that attendees should “not bring pro-Israel paraphernalia in solidarity with our queer Palestinian friends.”

Horowitz and fellow D.C. Dyke March organizer Rae Gaines expounded on their position in a June 6 Op-ed in the Washington Blade, an LGBT publication.

“We are asking people to not bring nationalist symbols because violent nationalism does not fit with our vision of queer liberation,” Horowitz and Gaines wrote. “And because we need the march to be a space that is as welcoming to Palestinian Dykes as it is to Jewish Dykes. “

They added that they don’t consider the “Jewish Pride Flag” to be representative of Jews because it “is almost entirely reminiscent of the Israeli flag, swapping out the blue and white for a rainbow. The star of David itself only became publicly popular as a symbol of Judaism in the 19th century — it coincided with the First Zionist Congress choosing the six-sided star for the flag of the future Israeli nation state in 1897.”

Horowitz and Gaines acknowledged that the Star of David has other meanings for the Jewish people when it’s not on a flag, meaning that attendees can bring paraphernalia featuring a Star of David so long as it’s not centered on a flag.

“We understand the pain and the hurt,” they wrote. “We believe that the responsibility of that pain and hurt lies with Zionism. We are angry that Israel has taken Jewish symbols and converted them into symbols of nationalism and xenophobia. We are angry that it has created a hierarchy in which Jewish voices are more valid than others, where Jewish comfort is seen as more important than Palestinian lives. We are angry that it exploits Queers and Pride to pinkwash the occupation and settler colonial violence. We are sad that Zionism has stolen vibrant Diasporic and diverse Jewish identities from us, but slowly, and through tough conversations like these ones, we are taking it back.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt denounced the D.C. Dyke March’s actions in a statement.

“It is outrageous that in preparing to celebrate LGBTQ pride, the D.C. Dyke March is forbidding Jewish participants from carrying any flag or sign that includes the Star of David, which is universally recognized as a symbol of the Jewish people,” Greenblatt said. “Banning the Star of David in their parade is anti-Semitic, plain and simple. The LGBTQ community and its supporters are diverse, and that is part of its tremendous strength. We call on the organizers to immediately reverse this policy.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper similarly said in a statement, “Today, on Thursday June 6th, there will be a similar march in the heart of Jerusalem, an event impossible to conceive of in an Arab country or in Iran, where they publicly execute gays. For decades, gay activists have insisted that there needs to be one standard in pursuit of human rights and human dignity. Such hypocrisy by some leaders to treat Jews differently is classic anti-Semitism, will damage the campaigns for equality for all, and should be denounced by LGBTQ activists everywhere.”

Campbell, along with A Wider Bridge, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and Zioness, condemned the D.C. Dyke March for singling out Israel in a signed statement.


“The DC Dyke March should know better than to stoke the flames of division and pain by driving a wedge between Queer Arabs and Jews at a time we must stand united against homo- and transphobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia,” they wrote. “We hope that they will do better — for the sake and advancement of all of our communities.”

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “How is the @dcdykemarch inclusive when it excludes Israeli or Jewish Pride flags? By banning the Jewish star from their event, they are sending a divisive message to members of the LGBTQ community.”

StandWithUs also weighed in on Twitter, writing, “Singling out the #Jewish community from a protest encouraging inclusiveness & acceptance is insane!”

The Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) said in a statement to the Journal, “PZC unequivocally condemns this action from DC Dyke March.  It is hard to feel pride when your leaders denounce the human rights of the Jewish people in a time of rising anti-Semitism. It is clear bigotry to force queer Jews to choose between being openly queer or openly Jewish — neither is an acceptable option.”

Peter Fox, who writes about Jewish LGBT issues, wrote in a Forward Op-ed, “What the march has done is ban all queer Jews who feel any connection to Israel — which is itself anti-Semitic given that Jews are not collectively responsible for the actions of other Jews or for the Israeli government, any more than Muslims, blacks, Asians or any other group of people are.” He also pointed out that the Star of David’s significance to the Jewish people “dates back many centuries before the founding of Israel.”

The D.C. Dyke March said in a statement sent to the Journal, “The DC Dyke March is explicitly pro-Jewish and not restricting anything that celebrates Jewishness. This includes the Star of David, which is embraced and welcome at the DC Dyke March. Our mission says that we are enacting a vision of queer liberation for all. That vision does not include nationalist symbols, including symbols of the state of Israel, which are different from symbols of Judaism. Flags that resemble Israeli flags are not welcome. We came to this decision collectively, with specific input from Jewish Dykes, in order to honor and uplift Dykes with marginalized identities and ensure that everyone feels as safe as possible.”

In 2017, the Chicago Dyke March similarly banned flags adorned with the Star of David, saying that it would cause participants to “feel unsafe” since such flags resemble the Israeli flag.

Chutzpah, Babka and ‘Shiva for Anne Frank’

Rachel McKay Steele in “Shiva for Anne Frank”

“Where do I get the chutzpah to cosplay as Anne Frank?” asks writer and comedian Rachel McKay Steele in the opening moments of her one-woman show, “Shiva for Anne Frank.” 

This question is at the core of the play, one of more than 40 solo productions at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. The balance between reverence and chutzpah definitely wobbles over the course of the show, as Steele imparts information about the famous diarist, and her own journey as a creative Jewish woman.

“It almost feels like [Anne Frank is in my] collective unconscious,” Steele told the Journal after a dress rehearsal. “I don’t remember learning who she was. I only remember knowing who she was.”

Throughout the production, Steele also explores some of the Jewish mourning rituals, for instance, covering a mirror — which she said she learned from watching the TV show “Transparent” — and eating a meal with the mourner, which she said was an example of “eating our feelings.” 

The stage is set to evoke the feeling of entering a shivah house: On one table sits a framed photo of Anne, a stack of programs (containing the mourner’s Kaddish in English transliteration) and several lavender kippot with the name of the show and its run dates stamped on their insides. The yarmulkes are more of a representation of a bat mitzvah (lavender was Steele’s bat mitzvah color) and she said she felt that a piece of Judaica at the show was necessary. 

“I chose to have a bat mitzvah because I was pulled to it. I also felt that way with this show,” said Steele, who who grew up secular in Charleston, S.C. “I’m figuring out what it means to me to be a Jewish woman. Doing this show, it’s like a whole new Torah portion. I’m looking at customs and what they mean to me as an adult. It’s an exploration of my Jewish identity. Theater can be a sacred space.”

The nosh area in the reception area at “Shiva for Anne Frank.” Photo by Esther Kustanowitz

Bagels, babka, rugelach and black-and-white cookies are set up at the entrance to the theater for audience members. 

“I would never invite people into a Jewish experience and not serve them food,” Steele said. “It’s a huge part of Judaism. Even before I delved into shivah customs, I wanted to serve Jewish food … a lot of my Jewish experience is around food,” she said, citing her mother’s brisket and her grandmother’s rugelach. 

Steele was prompted to create the show after comic Iliza Shlesinger gave a 2017 interview in which she claimed, “I think I’m the only woman out there that has a joke about World War II in my set.”  

“Anne wasn’t a saint. She was gloriously human. I want to celebrate not the abstract construct of a historical figure but the person, the writer and the girl.” — Rachel McKay Steele

Steele had always been doing jokes about Nazis, World War II and the Holocaust, she said, so she and a friend put together a standup show: all female performers doing only World War II jokes. She thought she might be able to do something as Anne Frank, began to do research on the internet and started to cry. She then bought a copy of Anne Frank’s diary, started reading and began writing what started out as “an ill-conceived six-minute bit” that became the “piece of theater” that became “Shiva for Anne Frank.” 

Steele presents portions of Anne’s narrative alongside her own experiences. In one segment, she speaks “about a very important, pleasurable sexual discovery of my adulthood” in graphic detail juxtaposed with some newly discovered excerpts from Anne’s diary.

“Rereading Anne’s diary and thinking about her discovering her own sexuality and her curiosity, I realized how thankful I am that I get to be a 34-year-old woman who loves and enjoys sex,” Steele said. “Sex can be a beautiful thing. But there’s a lot of societal messages and/or traumatic experiences that can get in the way.” She cited over-sexualization of young girls, a prevalence of sexual assault and date rape, attacks on reproductive rights, homophobia, transphobia and cultural shame surrounding sex as some of the culprits.

Another lost diary page reveals Anne’s attraction to one of her female friends. These recently uncovered texts made a huge impact on Steele, who said the omission was an example of the “erasure of queer narratives throughout history. The diary was heavily abridged by her father. She was treated as a little girl first and writer second. [But] Anne wasn’t a saint. She was gloriously human. I want to celebrate not the abstract construct of a historical figure but the person, the writer and the girl.”

Steele said reading Frank’s work influenced her to “stop judging myself and write my truth.” 

Inside of the giveaway kippah distributed at “Shiva for Anne Frank.” Photos by Esther Kustanowitz

While developing the show, Steele was shocked by the increase in what she called “open white supremacy” and anti-Semitism, including the shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at a Chabad in San Diego County. 

“I never saw a swastika in New York until after Trump was elected,” she said. “People are feeling empowered to do things like march and say ‘Jews will not replace us’ … emboldened by having a leader who traffics in hate.”  

She also drew parallels between American immigration policies during World War II and how immigrants are being treated now, noting Otto Frank’s attempts to acquire visas for his family. “So why didn’t the Jews leave earlier? They tried.”

“Comedy is tragedy plus time, but time between tragedies seems nonexistent” these days, Steele observed. “I never wanted this show to be as relevant as it’s become.”

“Shiva for Anne Frank” has a preview performance on June 9, then runs from June 13-30 at the Flight Theater at The Complex Hollywood, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Buy tickets here.

De Blasio Calls Anti-Semitism a ‘Right-Wing Movement’

New York City Mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill de Blasio attends a rally against new restrictions on abortion passed by legislatures in eight states including Alabama and Georgia, in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said that anti-Semitism was purely a “right-wing movement” during a June 4 press conference.

De Blasio said, “I think the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement.” When a reporter asked him on if left-wing anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide via the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, de Blasio responded, “I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological is very much from the right.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “You cannot properly treat a cancer without a complete diagnosis. The mayor with the world’s largest Jewish population and surging anti-Semitism must recognize that there are three sources of this cancer: far-right, far-left and Islamist extremism.”

Former New York State Assemblyman and Americans Against Anti-Semitism Co-Founder Dov Hikind similarly tweeted, “How do you combat anti-Semitism if you deny its existence? Democrats are desperate to reject the obvious anti-Semitism emanating from the progressive left; they can deny it exists, but it won’t disappear! Hate can come from ALL sides!”

De Blasio’s office did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

The New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s remarks come as the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced on June 4 that hate crimes have increased by 64 percent in New York City so far in 2019 from the year prior; nearly 60 percent of the recorded hate crimes have targeted Jews.

De Blasio has been critical of the BDS movement, saying on June 2 during New York City’s Celebrate Israel parade, “New York City stands with Israel. We say, ‘Yes to Israel.’ We say, ‘No to BDS.’”

How Graduates Should Fight Anti-Semitism

The following is the speech given at the graduation ceremony of American Jewish University by AJU President Jeffrey Herbst on May 19.

As this is my first graduation address as president of American Jewish University, I feel compelled to address a dark problem: the resurgence of anti-Semitism and how you, as citizens, rabbis, nonprofit leaders and educators, should respond.

The academic year was more or less bookended by the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh in October — the most violent attack on the Jewish community in American history — and the Poway shootings in late April. In between, there was substantial documentation that this age-old prejudice is on the rise. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that, “The U.S. Jewish community experienced near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults.”

The reasons for this upsurge in hatred are complex and I cannot deal with them adequately here. I will say that the hatred for the Jews comes from the left and the right, from long-established American institutions and from emergent platforms. Certainly, no one should be sanguine that their side is without blame.

The question now is how to respond to anti-Semitism in the particular digital environment in which we live. In the past, the anti-Semitism that we saw in this country, while always abhorrent, was limited in time and space: the vandalism of tombstones, the Nazi graffiti, the assault on a person were acts that may have received attention locally but could not spread for long before the damage was repaired, the wall whitewashed, the victim healed.

Now, in large part due to the internet, every action is magnified, and the bigots have an instant world stage that they continually exploit. It seems almost quaint, those days when those who hated Jews distributed or quoted from the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Now killers, whether they be of Jews or others like the perpetrator of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, leave behind elaborate manifestos filled with memes and in-jokes on platforms like 8chan to celebrate themselves, justify their actions and encourage others worldwide. 

“Now, in large part due to the internet, every action is magnified, and the bigots have an instant world stage that they continually exploit.”

But it is not only the killers who seek to dominate the conversation. In a world with a 24-hour news cycle, Twitter feeds and instant communication, there is a serious danger that anti-Semites who use only smartphones will position themselves to reap enormous amounts of free publicity. Thus, when someone makes an apparently anti-Semitic tweet, we are now well accustomed to what follows: a whole range of Jewish institutions and personalities respond, rightfully, to what they see as a new manifestation of hatred; there is then a counterattack about what the original statement really meant; and then further receding waves of indignation for days or weeks until the next outrage. All the while, attention is showered on the hater.

I fully support the work of the ADL, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other institutions and people who respond to each and every one of the these outrageous statements. At the same time, I wonder if we are playing an old game in a new land. It used to be that responding directly to prejudice alone was the right response: Quite often, shame worked in what was also quaintly known as polite society to deter further utterances and the conversation could be contained. 

Today, there is no, or very little, shame because people become famous by becoming more outrageous, and they take the rightful attacks against their prejudice as evidence that they are on to something.

What then, as future leaders, can you do? Surely the answer is not to ignore the anti-Semitism that is found in tweets, posts and manifestos. Such nonchalance would reflect poorly on us as a society and, more directly, be perceived as a sign of weakness by our enemies.

I would therefore suggest the following:

Give no free publicity. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was undoubtedly correct in vowing to never say the name of the mosque shooter. We should be similarly circumspect about giving any additional publicity beyond direct refutation to anti-Semites. They should not get their picture printed, their vile arguments should not be endlessly repeated, and their manifestos should not be linked to for days or weeks after they speak. 

We must also gain control of the conversation. Saying that the anti-Semites are wrong is not enough and may be what they want. For instance, the dual loyalty canard is one of the most common messages of the anti-Semites. I no longer feel that it is enough to state defensively that support of Israel is not in tension with being a patriotic American. Rather, I am happy to say at all times, and not just when the anti-Semites attack us, that I am a proud supporter of both the United States and Israel, not least because that relationship has been of enormous strategic value to the United States. 

I also am not going to cringe when the bigots shout “Jews will not replace us.” Rather, I am happy to say unprompted that the Jews are better educated and wealthier because we have taken advantage of all this great country has to offer. If you do not like that, get rid of your tiki torches and go to school.

Finally, we have to be very careful about whether we should try to silence the haters. Many in our community celebrated when Facebook recently banned some of the bigots. That was certainly their right as a private company. And the social media platforms do have to be careful about their technologies being exploited to threaten specific individuals or used to promote criminal activities like human trafficking.

However, in this digital age, the bigots will always find another platform. Rather, a far more devastating rebuke of the digital racists and anti-Semites would have been to ignore them so that they died on the vine. Banning them gives them the very attention and the new set of grievances that they so desire. I would like to get to a point where we all agree that they are no longer worth our attention.

Ten years ago, I would not have given this speech. It pains me somewhat to think about the world our graduates are about to enter. However, I remain, in the end, relentlessly optimistic because I believe that you have been given the tools to fight the anti-Semites, the racists and the other bigots in this new order. Not by simple refutation but by painting the outlines of a new world of spirituality, service and education, where we can all live together and where those who speak of peace and hope are given the most attention.

Are You Sure You Want to Be Jewish?

I’m floating in the mikveh wearing a very heavy, soaked cotton robe. Standing over me are three bearded Orthodox men, including a rabbi, who are serving as my conversion beit din. So far, I’ve pledged to follow the commandments to the best of my ability, renounce all former religious beliefs and keep the Sabbath. 

I’ve waited five years to get to this place, and I’m extremely excited to finally be a Jew. 

Then the rabbi brings up anti-Semitism. “We have been persecuted for all time,” he says. “We have been kicked out of countries and hated for our beliefs. We face constant anti-Semitism. If someone were to come and demand that all the Jews had to evacuate or face death, what would you do?” 

Without pausing, I say, “I would go with my people.” 

And with that, and some blessings, I became a Jew. 

That was in 2015. During my conversion, I’d never experienced true anti-Semitism, except for some off-color, stereotypical comments about Jews. There were attacks in Israel and France, but they seemed so far away and not part of my reality. 

Throughout my conversion process, people asked me why I was converting if I was just going to be hated as a Jew. It especially puzzled Holocaust survivors. I always told them that it wasn’t my choice. I was born with a Jewish soul and I knew I had to become part of the Jewish people. Can you deny your true self?

“Throughout my conversion process, people asked me why I was converting if I was just going to be hated as a Jew. It especially puzzled Holocaust survivors.”

Fast forward to 2018. The Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh; two politicians who express anti-Semitic rhetoric were elected to Congress; the Chabad of Poway shooting; strikes from Gaza into Israel;. an anti-Semitic cartoon in international editions of The New York Times; white supremacists; Brooklyn Chasidim being tormented by their non-Jewish neighbors. And on and on and on. 

I finally experienced anti-Semitism in 2017, when my Uber driver told me that Jews put the blood of children into their matzo ball soup. And then I saw it again when a funny commentator I used to follow suddenly started posting anti-Semitic tropes, encouraging his followers to wake up and realize that Jews control the world. After Pittsburgh, my husband, Daniel, and I led an effort to get an armed guard at our synagogue, and we’ve since had to take additional security measures. 

I don’t have much hope that things are going to reverse any time soon. We are hated on the far left and the far right, and every day I see more stories about hate crimes against Jews. I don’t know if it’ll reach a point where we have to physically defend ourselves or leave for Israel. I pray that it never does. 

What I know for certain is that although I am now experiencing anti-Semitism, converting to Judaism was the best decision I ever made. People shouldn’t be afraid to convert if it’s what they’re meant to do, and Jews should still be proud of their Judaism no matter what.  

Practically, we need to safeguard our shuls, schools, community centers and homes, be alert, be there for one another, share news about anti-Semitism and petition our politicians to call out hate. Spiritually, we need to have faith that God has a plan for us. Things may seem dark now, but eventually, they will get better. 

The anti-Semites cannot tear us down. If time has proven anything, it’s that we — the Jewish people and not our adversaries — will survive. We need to stick together, because when we do that, we are stronger. 

In these trying times, I know that’s what I will do. I will be with my people, and wherever they go, I will go. That was my pledge, and I intend to follow through.

Kylie Ora Lobell is a Journal contributing writer.

Disturbed Lead Singer Criticizes Roger Waters, BDS

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

David Draiman, lead singer of the American heavy metal band Disturbed, criticized former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters and the rest of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a video interview posted to the Bring Disturbed to Israel Facebook page on May 30.

Draiman, who describes himself as a secular Jew, said that as a member of the Creative Community for Peace’s advisory board, he constantly tells rock musicians performing in Israel to tune out “the ridiculous words of Mr. Roger Waters and his gang of morons” in the BDS movement. He added that “the BDS crew know well enough to not even try to contact me. I think they understand my position pretty well.”

Later in the video, Draiman called himself “a very, very strong supporter of Israel forever and for our people. Regardless of whether it’s Israel or anywhere else, boycotting an entire society, an entire people, based on the actions of its government is absolutely ridiculous.” He pointed out there aren’t boycotts being conducted against “oppressive, closed-off regimes” like Russia and China.

“It’s just Israel that gets this treatment, and I think we all know the reason behind that,” Draiman said. “There’s a special hatred that exists for the Jewish people in this world and it unfortunately can’t be explained. It’s something that has lasted and has been deep-seated for centuries and that’s part of our burden as a people, unfortunately.”

The metal singer explained that the best way to achieve peace is to “build bridges, you don’t knock them down,” arguing that BDS shuts off dialogue.

“The very notion that Waters and the rest of his Nazi comrades decide that this is the way to go ahead and foster change is absolute lunacy and idiocy,” Draiman said. “It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s only based on hatred of a culture and of a people in a society that has been demonized unjustifiably since the beginning of time.”

He went on to say that music brings people together, and that it’s “mind-boggling” there are those who try to use music to divide people.

“It’s just completely the antithesis of what art is meant to do,” Draiman said.

דיוויד מתראיין לכבוד ההופעה בארץ

"אתם הולכים להיות מופתעים. אני לא הולך לגלות שום דבר ולו פרט קטן אחד. תכננתי את זה למעשה במשך כל חיי, חיכיתי ליום הזה."בתחילת החודש ישבנו עם דיוויד לשיחה לקראת ההופעה בישראל ובין היתר על הארץ, החיבור עם הקהל, והBDS.הראיון המלא לפניכם:

Posted by ‎Bring Disturbed To Israel | הבאת דיסטרבד לישראל‎ on Thursday, May 30, 2019

Draiman previously criticized Waters in 2013 for putting a Star of David on a flying pig during one of his concerts, which Draiman said was “abhorrent and blatantly anti-Semitic.”

Before becoming Disturbed’s frontman, Draiman studied to become a rabbi. He has nearly 200 relatives in Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. His father, YJ Draiman, ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 2017.

Disturbed’s hit songs include “Ten Thousand Fists,” “Stricken,” and a Grammy-nominated cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” The band will be performing in Israel for the first time on July 2.

H/T: Loudwire

ADL, UCLA Hillel Call on UCLA to Issue a ‘More Full-Throated Response’ to Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Incidents

Photo from Flickr.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles Regional Director Amanda Susskind and UCLA Hillel called on UCLA to better protect Jewish students on campus in light of recent incidents.

In a Monday letter to the UCLA administration, UCLA Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Aaron Lerner along with Susskind wrote that “the time has come to call for a more full-throated response” from the university due to “the sheer number of reported incidents” of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on campus.

“On campus, the repetition of aggressive, ill-informed and often academically devoid anti-Israel bias has created a highly-volatile, and at times vulnerable, atmosphere for Zionist and Jewish students,” Lerner and Susskind wrote. “Off campus, it has also created a perception in the community, among alumni, and across the nation that UCLA has failed to provide an environment where it is safe to be Zionist or Jewish.”

Lerner and Susskind highlighted such incidents over the past five years, which included “a 2014 campaign to discredit two student council members who participated in Jewish organization-sponsored missions to Israel and subsequently voted against a BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] resolution” as well as pro-Palestinian protesters disrupting a May 2018 Students Supporting Israel event. Lerner and Susskind also cited San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi calling Israel-supporters white supremacists during a May 14 guest lecture at UCLA as an example.

“It is important to note that we cherish the value of academic freedom in universities—including when it comes to international politics and, more specifically, the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Lerner and Susskind wrote. “It is predicated on the idea that professors can teach, and students can learn, without other forces interfering in the process, limiting the pursuit of ideas. However, with academic freedom also comes academic responsibility.”

They added, “The 2016 UC Regents Principles Against Intolerance, in referencing ‘anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism,’ make clear an ugly reality: the demonization of Israel, and of Jews and others supportive of Israel, contributes greatly to the rise of anti-Semitic acts on campus and elsewhere.  Taken together, the May 14 guest lecture and the other reported and unreported incidents highlight the need for proactive measures at UCLA.”

Lerner and Susskind then called on the university to clearly delineate “academic freedom from bigotry and political activism” and to provide training to all UCLA faculty and students regarding “the history of anti-Semitism, the overlap between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism, and the impact of each on the Zionist and Jewish students.”

Lerner and Susskind’s letter comes after UCLA’s Academic Freedom Committee concluded on May 29 that Anthropology Professor Kyeyoung Park had every right to bring Abdulhadi for a guest lecture, even if students found it “objectionable.” Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, told the Journal in a statement, “I welcome the statement of my colleagues on the UCLA Academic Freedom Committee, in which they support professors’ freedom to invite speakers as they deem academically appropriate. This is indeed a cherished freedom that I have enjoyed in my fifty years as a professor at UCLA. I therefore hope that the committee will join me in protecting another principle that academic freedom entails: setting the norms for an academic climate conducive to learning and to civil discourse.”

He pointed out that UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s website states that “the university is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.” 

“In this spirit of responsible leadership I therefore call upon Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, to challenge the biased and intolerant speech of the guest lecturer, Rabab Abdulhadi, and the anti-diversity words she uttered on May 14, 2019,” Pearl said. “In particular, VC Kang should ask Abdulhadi to apologize to the thousands of students and faculty at UCLA who are devout Zionists, whom she labeled ‘white supremacists.’Many of these Bruins,’ VC Kang should emphasize, ‘are tireless champions of human rights, social justice and peaceful co-existence, who see the creation of Israel  as the culmination of Jewish history, hence as an important part of their collective identity… it is disrespectful of you to make such sweeping, reckless and incriminating accusations against hard-working members of your hosting university, in front of a class of students who assumed you had factual, if not authoritative knowledge of the subject matter.’”

Pearl added, “Post-lecture condemnations are not uncommon at UCLA nor at other universities. On February 14, 2018, for example, following the cancelation of [far-right pundit] Milos Yiannopoulos’ lecture, and based on the speaker’s reputation as anti-Mexican, UCLA Chancellor Eugene Block issued a condemnation stating: ‘This kind of tactic and his rhetoric are totally contrary to our values.’ UCLA students and faculty, I among them, are entitled to know whether Abdulhadi’s tactics and rhetoric are not contrary to our values.”

UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has a whole section on their website dedicated to the May 14 guest lecture.

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

SF State Prof Loses Sanctions Motion Against Lawfare

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

San Francisco State University (SFSU) Professor Rabab Abdulhadi’s motion sanctioning the Lawfare Project and Winston & Strawn LLP was thrown out on May 28.

According to a press release from the Lawfare Project, Abdulhadi sought $428,890.76 from Lawfare and Winston & Strawn, arguing “that their claims against her were baseless and that they acted in bad faith.” Abdulhadi was a defendant in a June 2017 lawsuit alleging that SFSU wasn’t doing enough to protect Jewish students on campus. United States District Court Judge William Orrick denied Abdulhadi’s motion.

“Ironically, it was Abdulhadi who abused the court system in order to penalize the attorneys for reaching a crucial settlement protecting the rights of Jewish students,” the Lawfare Project’s press release states. “This was a classic attempt at lawfare, and it failed.” The press release then notes that Abdulhadi “infamously declared that welcoming Zionists to campus was a ‘declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, [and] Palestinians’ and, just this month, equated Zionists with white supremacists.”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement to the Journal, “Abdulhadi’s continuous attempts to demonize the Jewish community endangers students. The historic settlement with CSU exists to safeguard Jewish and Zionist students, following decades of well-documented anti-Semitic activity on campus. This employee is attempting to undermine the efforts of the university to stop this bigotry. We will continue holding professors like Abdulhadi accountable for propagating discrimination and hate on campus.”

On March 20, the California State University system agreed to a settlement with the Lawfare Project that they would issue a statement acknowledging that “for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity.”

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

ADL CEO Criticizes Fox News Host for Including Anti-Semite on List of ‘Prominent Voices’ Banned from Social Media

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized Fox News host Laura Ingraham for including an avowed anti-Semite on a list of “prominent voices” that have been censored on social media.

In a May 30 segment, Ingraham accused Facebook of censoring conservatives.

“Facebook now, what do they monitor now, ‘hate?’” Ingraham said. “That sounds good until you realize… it’s people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty.”

A graphic of “prominent voices” who have been banned from Facebook and Twitter was shown during the aforementioned quote, one of which was Paul Nehlen, who twice launched failed bids to primary former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Greenblatt tweeted, “Paul Nehlen is not being censored because he’s a conservative. He was kicked off social media for repeatedly spewing anti-Semitism & racism, and for targeting Jewish journalists. Do better, @FoxNews.”

Journalist Yashar Ali tweeted that Nehlen compiled a list of Jewish journalists that have “attacked” him and that Nehlen has said he doesn’t “have a position” on the Holocaust.

Nehlen also said in an April appearance on the Goy Talk podcast, “I’m not opposed to someone leading a million Robert Bowers to the promised land.” Bowers allegedly shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.

A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, “It is obscene to suggest that Laura Ingraham was defending Paul Nehlen’s despicable actions, especially when some of the names in our graphic were pulled from an Associated Press report on best known political extremists banned from Facebook. Anyone who watches Laura’s show knows that she is a fierce protector of freedom of speech and the intent of the segment was to highlight the growing trend of unilateral censorship in America.”

NYPD: 83% Increase in NYC Hate Crimes in 2019

Photo from Pixabay.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) released data on May 28 stating that hate crimes in New York City have increased by 83 percent so far in 2019.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the NYPD received 176 hate crime complaints from January 1 to May 19; Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt noted in a tweet 59 percent of the aforementioned complaints were anti-Semitic hate crimes.

“Troubling findings out of one of the country’s most diverse cities,” Greenblatt wrote.

Among the anti-Semitic hate crimes that have occurred in 2019 include a Ruth Bader Ginsburg poster in a New York City subway station being vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti in March and a Jewish man being punched in the chest while walking on a street in Brooklyn in January.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the Wall Street Journal, “We have an anti-Semitism crisis in New York. It’s a national problem, but New York accounts for way too many incidents.”

Anti-Zionism Worse than Anti-Semitism

I always get suspicious when I hear someone flaunt their pro-Israel credentials by saying, “I firmly believe in Israel’s right to exist.” Gee, thanks. I firmly believe in your right to exist, too.

The real question is: How did Israel’s “right to exist” ever become an issue in the first place?

After all, we never hear about Syria’s right to exist or Libya’s right to exist or Sudan’s right to exist or Yemen’s right to exist. A country can commit genocide against its people and inflict the worst humanitarian disaster and no one will ever bring up its “right to exist.”

So, why is it OK to single out Israel?

Here’s my theory: If you hate Jews so much that you want to challenge their very presence, your best bet is to go after Israel. Jew haters know they can’t start a movement to eliminate the Jews, so they do the next best thing: They work to undermine, in sneaky ways, the world’s only Jewish state.

Anti-Semitism revolves around an emotion — hate. Anti-Zionism revolves around an action — destruction.

A stark example is the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the leading global force against Israel. Its very name is misleading. Words like “boycott” “divestment” and “sanctions,” which are taken straight from the social justice manual, create a façade of genuine protest to hide a purely destructive agenda.

This charade shouldn’t shock anyone who’s been paying attention. In recent years, it has become more and more evident that the BDS agenda is not to criticize Israel but to crush it.

Even prominent BDS activists, like Ahmed Moor, have come clean: “OK, fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” Or university professor As’ad
AbuKhalil, another BDS activist: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel.”

Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS himself, has said on the record: “Definitely most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”

To undermine the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the land, Barghouti uses language like “acquired rights” and “indigenized.” His vision includes “de-Zionization” of Israel and the return of up to 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to flood the Jewish state.

Had BDS called itself the WIN movement — Wipeout Israel Now — no one would have taken them seriously. Instead, it uses the messaging of protest and intersectionality to attract well-meaning activists who don’t want to see Israel wiped out. This subterfuge is their strategy, and for the gullible crowd, it’s working.

BDS’s core success is sucking in much of the mainstream media and others who believe in “two states for two people” and assume that BDS is a way of pressuring Israel to get there.

It is far from that. The BDS mission originates straight from the founding mission of the PLO in 1964, before any Jewish settlements existed, which was to eliminate what is still seen as the unacceptable and humiliating sovereign Jewish-Zionist presence in Arab-Muslim lands.

Jew hatred may fuel the Israel hatred behind BDS and other anti-Israel forces, but after that, Israel-hatred wreaks havoc on its own. This is why, in my eyes, anti-Zionism is more lethal than anti-Semitism: It carries the virus of elimination.

As author Gil Troy writes in an email from Jerusalem, “Thousands have been killed and maimed by modern anti-Zionism, which requires the ideological and rhetorical inflammation to get people to blow themselves up and kill innocents. As a result, not only have we absorbed the notion that Israel’s existence should be up for grabs, but our outrage has been dulled –— we accept attacks on Israel as normal.”

Demonizing Israel and singling it out for special condemnation is immoral and discriminatory regardless of any claims of anti-Semitism.

Underlying the whole assault on Israel, he adds, “is the rejection of us as a people — we are just supposed to be a ‘nice’ religion confined to our synagogues and JCC’s, not a people taking up real space in the international arena.”

In sum, it is hardly enough to argue that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. In at least one crucial way it’s worse than that. Anti-Semitism revolves around an emotion — hate. Anti-Zionism revolves around an action — destruction.

Anti-Zionism must be fought on its own terms. Demonizing Israel and singling it out for special condemnation is immoral and discriminatory regardless of any claims of anti-Semitism.

Israel doesn’t just have a right to exist. Like any other imperfect state, it has a right to thrive, whether you hate Jews or not.