November 19, 2018

Sarsour Accuses Anti-BDS Progressives of Having ‘Allegiance to Israel’

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour accused progressives who were critical of newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of having “allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

As the Journal has previously reported, Omar’s campaign announced her support for the BDS movement on Monday after stating earlier in the campaign that she was opposed to it. Sarsour expressed her support for Omar in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“She’s being attacked for saying that she supports BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) and the right for people to engage in constitutionally protected freedoms,” Sarsour wrote. “This is not only coming from the right-wing but folks who masquerade as progressives but always choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech.”

Sarsour added, “You don’t have to support BDS and have every right not to but we cannot stand by idly while a brave Black Muslim American woman is targeted for saying she will uphold the constitution of the United States of America as a member of the US Congress.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted that Sarsour used “one of the oldest and most pernicious anti-Semitic tropes” in her Facebook post:

Similarly, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg tweeted:

Sarsour also reportedly said in September that Israelis shouldn’t be humanized.

Actresses Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano are among the notable names who have said that they will not participate in the Women’s March due to Sarsour and other Women’s March leaders’ ties to noted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Women’s March Denver Condemns National Women’s March Leadership Over Farrakhan Ties

The Women’s March Denver chapter issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the national Women’s March leadership over their ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The Denver chapter, which goes by the name Womxn’s March to show solidarity with “cis, transgender and non-binary individuals,” wrote that they condemn “anti-Semitism and the National Women’s March leadership team’s failure to clearly disassociate from anti-Semitic public figures. “

“Womxn’s March Denver is an independent VOLUNTEER grassroots team of local Colorado women,” they continued. “We are not affiliated with the national Women’s March organization. We oppose all forms of oppression and operate from an intersectional lens. We stand in solidarity with all marginalized communities and ask that those communities stand together with us against oppression in all its forms.”

Amanda Berman, co-founder of the Zioness Movement, told the Journal in an emailed statement, “Zioness applauds the Women’s March in Denver for unequivocally denouncing Women’s March leaders for their hateful rhetoric and their continued association with bigots and anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan. We are grateful for their principled commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, including within the national Women’s March organization, even when that stance puts them at odd with some self-appointed organizers of the movement.”

“Zioness knows that we, as committed progressives and unabashed Zionists, do not have to check any part of our identity at the door in order to show up to fight for women’s issues in America––and we’re thrilled that Denver leaders know it too,” Berman added. “Zioness will be organizing a significant presence at the next Women’s March in Denver and from coast-to-coast, engaging our more than 18 chapters and thousands of participants. As part of this work, Zioness will be hosting a series of pre-march ‘teach-ins” that bring light to the issues facing Jewish women in a time of skyrocketing anti-Semitism.’”

Actresses Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing have both said that they will not participate in the Women’s March because their leaders have been unwilling to condemn Farrakhan.

The national Women’s March issued the following statement regarding Farrakhan on Nov. 8:

Milano Won’t Participate in Women’s March Because Leaders Won’t Denounce Farrakhan

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Actress Alyssa Milano, a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement, said on Wednesday that she would not participate in the Women’s March because its leaders won’t denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Milano told The Advocate that she was “disappointed” in the Women’s March leaders for their warmth toward Farrakhan. When asked if she would appear at the Women’s March and speak, Milano responded, “I would say no at this point.”

“Unfortunate that none of them have come forward against him [Farrakhan] at this point,” Milano said, “or even given a really good reason why to support them.”

Milano had spoken at the Women’s March in January 2018.

Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory had appeared at a Nation of Islam event in March, where Farrakhan referred to Jews as part of the “Synagogue of Satan”; Mallory and other Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez have all posted “laudatory” things on social media about Farrakhan, according to Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

The Women’s March has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

It’s Not Just About the Ice Cream

Last week, I was stunned with an announcement from Ben & Jerry’s about a new flavor “celebrating activists who are continuing to resist oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice.” Financial grants were provided to four organizations that Ben and Jerry’s felt represented social activism. I was horrified to learn that one of the organization’s receiving the grant was the Women’s March, primarily founded by Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, both vocal and virulent anti-Semites.

Sarsour presents herself as a “proud anti-Israel activist” who champions boycotting Israel. At the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention this past September in Houston, Texas, Sarsour called “for the dehumanization of Israelis.” Her co-chair, Mallory, is also a vocal supporter of Louis Farrakhan, a long time virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader. On Instagram last year, Mallory posted herself alongside Farrakhan calling him the “GOAT,” which means “Greatest of All Time.” More recently, Farrakhan has referred to Jews as “termites” (the same words the Nazi’s used) and Satanic. This week, Farrakhan has traveled to Iran and called for the destruction of America and of the State of Israel.

In the wake of the largest anti-Semitic attack in the history of our country just over a week ago in Pittsburgh, I was shocked that three days later, Ben & Jerry’s, founded by two individuals who identify as Jewish (and sold to Unilever in 2000), would personally make an announcement of providing grants to various groups who best represent “Resistance.” The news was all over the Internet and news outlets.

So, with little options on my end, I threw out the Ben & Jerry’s in my freezer and emailed the ice cream supplier that services the eight stores that we own in the greater Los Angeles area. I asked them to remove all Ben & Jerry’s products. I also copied a contact at Ben & Jerry’s that I found on the Internet and told them what I was doing with a decision to no longer carry Ben & Jerry ice creams. I posted my opinions and concerns on my personal Facebook page.

I was surprised how quickly I received an email from the Ben & Jerry’s organization with a press release about the grants from the company. The email also requested that they speak with me the next business day.

According to Ben & Jerry’s press release, it stated about the grants that “The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through training, outreach programs and events. The Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.”

I eagerly looked forward to my call to enlighten Ben & Jerry’s about leaders Sarsour and  Mallory and that the Women’s March was anything but what they described. I wanted to share with them that Sarsour has repeatedly told the world that you can’t be a feminist and a Zionist. Sarsour has stated, “that nothing was creepier than a Zionist” and that she suggested cutting the genitalia of women she didn’t like. I wanted to share with the Ben & Jerry’s organization that this past July Sarsour publicly wished a “Happy Birthday to Assata Shakur” (AKA Joanne Chesimard) who remains on FBI’s most wanted list.

I wanted to share with the Ben &  Jerry’s organization that Mallory has also publicly praised Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba. It was during his regimen that he rounded up (arrested) gay people and put them in Cuban concentration camps.

After a brief exchange of emails, a call was scheduled for me with Ben & Jerry’s senior marketing executive Christopher Miller and two other staff members at the company. The power of my comments on my Facebook post seemed unbelievable to me.

But what happened during “our” call today was shocking and deeply disturbing.  Miller was absolute and committed to Ben & Jerry’s support of both Sarsour & Mallory and the Women’s March itself. They informed me that they were supporting organizations  that were consistent in their concept of progressive change, core American values and democracy. I told them that these women did not represent core American values and democracy and their words were hateful and damaging. I added that if these are spokespeople for America, we all need to be concerned!

I was then told by Miller that Unilever was the real victim because they sold products to Israel in the face of BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanction) threats and retaliations against American companies. They actually stated that they still sold products in the “occupied territories” and that Ben & Jerry’s operates in a unique manner in Israel with a licensee that allows them to appear to Israel focused. All proceeds from the license are not shared with Unilever, but are donated to causes as not to appear to truly support Israel.

I shared with the Ben & Jerry’s representatives my work on fighting anti-Semitism, racism and hatred in the United States. I shared with them that my husband & I were honored by the ADL three years ago as Humanitarians of the Year. I also shared our ongoing work to support police and first responders.

I discussed inclusiveness, especially in Israel. I told them that I currently was working with the Jewish National Fund to build the finest culinary academy in the world in the northern region of Israel. I shared our vision to utilize education and food to drive prosperity and bring people together. I continued to inform them that we were also building medical centers in the north of Israel that would improve the lives of so many people across religions. I told them about the many organizations that I am involved with and how we work to support children of all backgrounds in Israel giving them programs, clothing, meals and hope for the future. And love…

I ended my call with the Ben & Jerry’s representatives more disappointed than before it began. I realized a sad fact that this is the new anti-Semitism.  I realized that I am too protected in my bubble living in my pocket of Los Angeles & Beverly Hills. I had not faced aAnti-Semitism in almost two decades. And now, corporate representatives from a product that I sold and served in my own home were informing me about their struggles and sacrifices specific to a relationship to Israel.

I am proud that the State of California and  the City of Beverly Hills have Memorandums of Understandings with the State of Israel (MOU’s). I am proud that my city celebrates Jewish Heritage Month at the Los Angeles City Hall and  Israel’s 70th in the City of Beverly Hills. I am proud that the state of California has outlawed BDS.

There is a new anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head in the United States  and elsewhere. There are standards and kindness for other people and there is another one for Jews. There is also an increase in white nationalist supremacists brazenly speaking against Jews and  other minorities. I am asking people to wake up and and not accept these acts against Jews and Israel. I am asking that we fight the scourge of anti-Semitism and other acts of racism and indifference to others. We need to share our voices and say that providing grants to individuals who openly refer to Jews and Israel in horrific words and terms is not acceptable in 2018. We can not and will not accept anti-Semitism in any manner. That we expect decency and inclusiveness for all no matter where they live.

And sadly, when the call was over, I had to acknowledge that it’s not just about the ice cream…


Gina Raphael co-owns Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill in eight locations across Southern California

A Message to My Compatriots in the American Left From Across the Pond

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, visits the Alexander Dennis Bus Factory in Falkirk, Scotland, Britain August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

The Pittsburgh tragedy made real the worst nightmare of American Jewry. Our community is now examining how we got to this frightening place, with anti-Semitism more pronounced on both the right and the left than it has been in decades. We now dread: Is this just the beginning? Are things only going to get worse? We only have to look across the pond see the writing on the wall.  

Since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as UK Labour Party leader in 2015, the party has become a hotbed of the kind of anti-Semitic worldview previously confined to the political fringe. Corbyn’s links to Holocaust deniers, friendship with terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas, and paid role for the Iranian regime broadcaster, Press TV, were long-established. This summer, the allegations continued to pile up: Corbyn was pictured holding a wreath by the gravesides of the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre masterminds. Then a video from 2013 emerged in which he questioned whether British “Zionists” understood English irony.

The UK’s internationally renowned former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, condemned Corbyn’s rhetoric as “the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism,” only to be denounced by Corbyn’s online fanbase. Like those of President Trump, Corbyn’s supporters respond to every piece of evidence exposing the bigotry of their man—no matter how damning—with cries of “fake news.”

The impact on Britain’s Jewish community has been pronounced. As the party of civil rights, equality and liberal values, Labour was once the natural home for British Jews. But recent polls have revealed not just that Jews are abandoning the party—now, 40 percent of Britain’s Jews say they will seriously consider leaving the UK if Corbyn becomes prime minister. 

Labour’s march to the radical left is not only worrying for the Jews: the phenomenon has decimated the credibility of Britain’s most important progressive force. For American progressives, this should be a cautionary tale. If our own extreme left and its abettors go unchallenged, then what is happening in the UK could happen here. The American right has shown how aggressive populism can hijack the mainstream. Corbyn provides a warning for those of us on the left.

In Britain, those who warned of the far-left threat to progressive movements were, for a decade, ignored or dismissed—until it was too late. Now, Labour has a leader with a lifetime of support for radically anti-Israel movements, inevitably aligning himself with virulent anti-Semites. His communications director is a terror apologist who believes East Germany was preferable to West Germany. His advisers include a recent Communist Party member who previously expressed support for North Korea, and has been unable to gain security clearance to work in Parliament. A few years ago, such people were dismissed as cranks. Now they aspire to govern, and are rising through the ranks alongside Corbyn. No wonder British Jews are uneasy.

On our side of the pond, some warning signs have already been here for a while. Last year, two Jewish lesbians who had been attending the Chicago Dyke March for a decade were thrown out of the major LBGTQ+ event for bringing a rainbow flag with a Jewish star on it. “Zio tears replenish us,” they were told. Later that year, the Chicago SlutWalk trod the same anti-Semitic path, banning “Zionist symbols.”

American Jews and their allies were horrified to learn that the co-founders of one of the most groundbreaking and ostensibly empowering movements in American political history share Corbyn’s brand of contemptible, inexcusable bigotry. Women’s March Co-Founder Tamika Mallory attends rallies of the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. Earlier this year Mallory tweeted a conspiratorial slur against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the United States. In a modern-day blood libel, Mallory said the ADL caused U.S. police brutality because it had sponsored joint counter-terrorism training between US and Israeli law enforcement. That’s absurd and anti-Semitic—and, equally important from a progressive lens, it undermines and exploits the fight against police brutality in the United States, injecting the flimsy thinking of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory into a vital campaign for justice and human dignity.

Mallory’s March co-founder, Linda Sarsour, has publicly shamed fellow Muslims for “humanizing Israelis,”, supported a terrorist convicted of a bomb plot that murdered two university students in Jerusalem and also praises Farrakhan. The types of positions and associations these women hold went unchallenged on the British left for years. Even those who wrote off the alarm bells now see clearly where these ideologies lead.

As a Jew, a Zionist and, not least, a progressive, I am determined to challenge assaults on the values that should define our movements for social, racial, economic and gender justice. Progressive movements in which Jews are isolated, defamed or forced to pass anti-Israel litmus tests are not worthy of the name. That’s why we established Zioness – a movement to give proud, progressive Jewish women a platform to fight for the causes of our time, without having to sell out their Jewish identities for credibility or acceptance. 

When anti-Israel obsession and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories take hold on the political left, most Jews are made politically homeless. The result is disastrous, not just for the Jews but for the movements themselves. This is what we’re witnessing in the UK. Zioness, and our thousands of activists and allies, will not stand by and watch it happen here.

UK Labour has become a safer space for anti-Semites than for Jews. A female Jewish Member of Parliament needed police protection at the Labour Party conference. A third of the British public thinks Corbyn is an anti-Semite. With a Conservative government bitterly divided over Brexit negotiations, a credible progressive party would be soaring in the polls—resulting in the advancement of the issues we stand proudly to fight for. Instead, Labour is struggling to build a lead. 

In the United States, now more than ever, progressives should be on the front foot. Trump’s 38 percent approval rating is a record low. We face massive challenges—for women’s equality, universal healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights and for our PoC communities to live free from fear. Those struggles will be more effectively fought by movements that welcome rather than alienate Jews and Zionists, who have always been on the forefront of social justice activism of every kind.

The 19th century German socialist, August Bebel, called anti-Semitism “the socialism of fools.” The British left might have been seduced by it. But at this pivotal moment for our country, we can’t afford to be—or it will make fools of us all.


Amanda Berman is the co-Founder and President of Zioness.

Ben & Jerry’s Partners With Women’s March, Says Ties to Farrakhan Are Irrelevant

Screenshot from Twitter.

Ben & Jerry’s announced that they were releasing a new ice cream flavor, Pecan Resist, to protest the Trump administration. They are partnering with the Women’s March, whose leaders have ties to Louis Farrakhan.

The ice cream giant’s website states that the Pecan Resist flavor consists of chocolate ice cream, pecans, walnuts, almonds and chunks of fudge.

“We can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants,” the website reads. “Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values.”

One of those progressive organizations is the Women’s March; the others are Color of Change, Honor the Earth and Neta.

Another section of Ben & Jerry’s website calls the Women’s March “a dramatic display of our country at its very best.”

However, Independent Journal Review (IJR) noted that the Women’s March leaders have ties to Louis Farrakhan, who recently referred to Jews as “termites.” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez over Farrakhan in March.

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

When asked by IJR about the Women’s March leaders’ ties to Farrakhan, a spokeswoman told them:

“We’re comfortable with the idea that the people and the causes we partner with may have a point of view different from our own on some issues. They can be controversial, just as we can. Linda may not agree with everything we’ve done. But the work that she has done to promote women’s rights, as co-chair of the Women’s March, is undeniably important and we are proud to join her in that effort.”

They included a statement from Women’s March’s Linda Sarsour: “We recommit ourselves to dismantling anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.”

Additionally:

When asked if the company has a position on Farrakhan, the Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman told IJR, “No. We are focusing our efforts toward women empowerment.”

When asked by the Journal about the aforementioned paragraph in the IJR report, Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson Laura Peterson told the Journal in an email that it was in “response to Farrakhan’s remarks in the context of today’s release of our new flavor.”

“The two are not related at all, so I said no,” Peterson said.

In September, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s announced that they were going to introduce seven new ice cream flavors that promote seven specific Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

“We need to come up with seven amazing ice cream flavors (and flavor names) that not only taste great but also capture the essence of what each candidate stands for,” the co-founders said on MoveOn.org’s website.

N.Y. Dem Assemblyman Criticizes Gillibrand for Sarsour Association

Screenshot from Twitter.

Dov Hikind, a Democrat assemblyman in New York who is retiring after this year, released a video on Twitter criticizing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for appearing onstage with Linda Sarsour at a rally protesting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Hikind began the video by listing out some of Sarsour’s past statements, including her showing support for Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted by an Israeli court of a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two college students, and saying that “nothing is creepier than Zionism.”

“Sen. Gillibrand, I know you,” Hikind said. “I know you stand for the principles that make America great. I know that you are a person who does not accept any kind of racism and anti-Semitism. But senator, you cannot sell out the principles that you have always lived by simply because you want to be president and you have to appeal to people on the extreme left.”

Hikind added, “When it comes to racism and anti-Semitism, there is no compromising.”

The outgoing assemblyman then gave a pointed message to the media, stating that the media is responsible for helping create “a new generation of anti-Semites and racists” on both sides of the aisle when they fail to expose and shame racism and anti-Semitism.

“A racist, an anti-Semite, needs to be ostracized, condemned,” Hikind said. “Period.”

Sarsour introduced Gillibrand at an Oct. 6 rally during Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote. Sarsour called Gillibrand “another champion, another one of our people who works for us on the inside.”

Gillibrand previously praised Sarsour and the other Women’s March leaders – Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland – in a 2017 piece in Time. Gillibrand called them “extraordinary women” who “are the suffragists of our time.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized Sarsour, Mallory and Perez for their associations with Louis Farrakhan in March 2018.

Gillibrand’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

H/T: Daily Wire

The Light From Within Is Stronger Than Hate

On the afternoon of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation, Reese, our new Yemenite neighbor, was visiting our apartment, playing with my son Alexander. We’d had a Shabbat soiree the evening before, so the refrigerator was stacked, as my son would say.

“What would you like?” I asked Reese. He surveyed the fare and pointed to the chocolate wafer cubes. “Those are epic,” he said. I smiled and gave him a handful. He came back 15 minutes later asking for more. “Please,” he said, “where can my mom get these? I want her to get cartons.”

“In the Israel section,” Alexander piped up from the next room. Reese, 14, looked at me quizzically. “The market Morton Williams has an Israel section,” I explained. “All kinds of stuff that they import from Israel.” Nothing I said made Reese flinch. “OK, can you please tell my mom? And may I have some more?”

I told him I would give him more on one condition: that at some point I could explain to him why the store has a special Israel section, and the politics surrounding those delicious chocolate cubes. “Sure,” he said, popping another into his mouth. 

I later relayed the story to his mother, Waseif — Saya — who had been a child bride in Yemen and just completed a film on the subject. “Islam is a beautiful religion,” she said. “But the culture and politics of some countries are completely warped. I have never taught my children hate; they don’t know what it means to hate a group of people and never will.”

I nodded. “No one is born with hate in their heart.”

Meanwhile, the Kavanaugh confirmation was unloading on social media, and scathing hate toward groups of people — white men, white women, conservatives — was all over my newsfeed. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was being targeted as a “rape apologist” for voting to confirm the judge based on her thought process. In other words, for being a feminist. 

Linda Sarsour tweeted: “Senator Susan Collins is the mother & grandmother of white women in America who gave us a Donald Trump presidency. She is a disgrace & her legacy will be that she was a traitor to women and marginalized communities.” No one can ramp up a race and gender war like Sarsour. Still, I was shocked that she hadn’t found a way to blame it all on Jews. 

“Is there a point when hate has so hardened the heart that little can be done to let the light back in?”

I woke up the morning of Oct. 7 to the horrific news of another terrorist attack in Israel. Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, a mother of an 18-month-old; and Ziv Hajbi, 35, a father of three, were shot at close range reportedly by a Palestinian co-worker at a factory in the West Bank where they all worked in the Barkan Industrial Park.

Is there a point when hate has so hardened the heart that little can be done to let the light back in?

How has the United States, through the vile hatred inherent in identity politics, come so close to this point, when even the nomination of a Supreme Court justice brings the country to the brink of a vitriolic civil war?

That evening we all got together for a Yemenite-Moroccan Columbus Day feast. Ahmed, a handsome Lebanese actor, joined us. Saya confessed to an attraction to Judaism. Ahmed confessed to an attraction to Israeli women. We talked about the lies people believe and the tribal hatred that keeps people apart. I told them about the terrorist attack that morning.

“That’s horrific,” Saya gasped, covering her mouth. Ahmed just shook his head, speechless.

Their reactions couldn’t have been more distinct from the reactions of my friends on the left, who offer up immediate political rationalizations for the random killing of Jews. Saya and Ahmed had been taught to hate Jews, but the hatred never stuck. The light within had always been stronger than the hatred and the lies.

I don’t know the road to peace in this country, let alone in Israel. But I can keep the light flowing between these two apartments, especially between Reese and Alexander. Perhaps one day these two “cousins,” a Muslim and a Jew, will expose the sham of identity politics. Perhaps one day they will be able to rewrite the stars because we never taught them to hate.  


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

Sarsour Calls ADL ‘Purveyor of Islamophobia,’ Report Says

Screenshot from Twitter.

UPDATE:

The ADL responded to Linda Sarsour in a statement sent to the Journal:

ADL fights hate in all its forms including anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia. We do this through tracking extremists and white supremacists, through our anti-bias programs and through enacting federal and state hate crimes laws across the country. We advocate at the local, state and federal level on a range of issues related to ending racial bias and discrimination in policing and the criminal justice system.

Linda Sarsour has completely mischaracterized and distorted what our law enforcement programs actually do. We are proud to work with law enforcement in the U.S. in an effort to counter terrorism, domestic extremism, hate crimes and implicit bias. Our annual law enforcement mission to Israel provides a few dozen senior law enforcement officials with an opportunity to learn first-hand how police in Israel respond to terror attacks. The curriculum includes trips to Yad Vashem and meeting with a diverse group of members of Israeli civil society. 

ORIGINAL:

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour criticized the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a “purveyor of Islamophobia” earlier in the month, according to a new report from the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

Sarsour uttered the aforementioned statement about the ADL during a panel at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s 2018 convention and criticized the ADL for bringing police officers to Israel for training.

“If you are part of a criminal justice reform movement, if you believe in the idea of ending police brutality and the misconduct of law enforcement officers across the country, then you do not support an organization that takes police officers from America, funds their trips, takes them to Israel so they can be trained by the Israeli police and military, and then they come back here and do what?” Sarsour said. “Stop and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country.”

Chris McIlvain, the assistant police chief in Austin, Texas, told IPT that he attended the 2015 training that Sarsour was referencing and that what she described was not accurate:

There was no tactical training and no discussion of forceful or coercive techniques, he said. Police departments must maintain “a state of readiness” for all kinds of threats, from mass shootings to terrorist attacks. Israel has experience with these challenges that can be helpful to police departments here.

“The ADL is a good partner of law enforcement combating hate crimes of all types,” McIlvain said. “The idea is not to divert hate from one group to another, it’s to eliminate it.”

Sarsour called the ADL “an anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian organization that peddles Islamophobia and attacks America’s prominent Muslim orgs and activists” in an April Facebook post when it was announced that the ADL was going to take part in Starbucks’ anti-bias training.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, told the Times of Israel, “The ADL has always understood that fighting anti-Semitism is inherently tied to fighting racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has criticized Sarsour and other Women’s March leaders for their connection to Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

The ADL has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Sarsour: American Muslims Shouldn’t ‘Humanize’ Israelis

Screenshot from Twitter.

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour said over the weekend that Muslims shouldn’t be humanizing Israelis, referring to Israel as the “oppressor.”

As reported by The Investigative Project for Terrorism and the Algemeiner, during the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s conference, Sarsour declared that American Muslims “are complicit in the occupation of Palestinians, in the murder of Palestinian protesters” if they’re not actively promoting the Palestinian cause.

“If you’re on the side of the oppressor, or you’re defending the oppressor, or you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour added that Muslims who didn’t speak out were not patriotic:

“When I stand up here and I’m fighting for your rights and the rights of all people in these United States of America, I am a true patriot. And those of you who have fear in your hearts and don’t have the courage to stand up for your deen (religion), for your communities, for your religious institutions, for your children, that is not just a question of your patriotism. It is a question of your iman (faith).”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that Sarsour’s comments about humanizing the oppressor are what “you would associate… with Hamas.”

“You wouldn’t automatically associate such language on the part of someone who is touted as an elite spokesperson for women’s rights, equal rights in the United States,” Cooper said.

Cooper added that Sarsour’s comments likely stem from “desperation” due to recent global developments of Gulf Arabs having “unprecedented normal contact” with Israelis.

“This has nothing to do with making America a more inclusive and welcoming society,” Cooper said. “This is about recasting the values of our nation to fit her mindset and we can only hope that there will be more and more voices within the progressive leadership that denounce her.”

Sarsour has previously called Zionism “creepy” and that someone cannot be both a Zionist and a feminist, telling The Nation, “You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none.” She also doesn’t believe in a two-state solution, as Sarsour is an advocate for a single Palestinian state.

Sarsour also made headlines recently for being arrested for disrupting Supreme Court nominee’s Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Linda Sarsour Arrested for Disrupting Kavanaugh Hearing

Screenshot from Twitter.

Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour was arrested on Tuesday for being among the many activists that disrupted Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing.

The video below shows Sarsour standing up and shouting, “This is a mockery and a travesty of justice!” before being hauled away by security.

The disruption that occurred forced Kavanaugh’s daughters – ages 10 and 13 – to be “rushed” out of the hearing by their mother.

Sarsour was also arrested in March for civil disobedience when she protested outside of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) office over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Sarsour has previously come under fire for her ties to Louis Farrakhan and her criticism of Zionism.

The Golden Calf of Leftism

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, the Nation of Islam called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) a “racist spy agency.” “Sisters” Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour bullied Starbucks into dropping the ADL from co-leading its diversity training. Students with Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine were arrested at an Israeli Independence Day celebration in New York City for setting an Israeli flag on fire and assaulting another student. And Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut called Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser “anti-Muslim.”

No one on the left had anything to say about any of this. Indeed, it was just another week in the descent of the left into tribal, anti-feminist, anti-Semitic illiberalism. Or more simply: #woke.
But it was not another week entirely. At the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 28, comedian Michelle Wolf’s venom-filled monologue was so egregious that a handful of “names” from the left, including two New York Times reporters, tweeted afterward their horror and embarrassment. Wolf had crossed a line, creating a crack in the status-obsessed leftist orthodoxy.

Will it shatter from this? Doubtful. The left still hasn’t processed the fact that President Donald Trump didn’t cause the left to go off the deep end into this intolerant groupthink. Trump is a result of the left having already gone off this cliff. The most glaring example: the disallowance of any criticism of former President Barack Obama, no matter how respectfully it was voiced.

Yes, of course, the right has its own version of this. The right’s thought police won’t allow you to criticize Trump’s vulgar, dehumanizing language. It won’t allow you to say that many Americans who own guns are obsessed with them in a disturbing way. That building a wall on the United States’ southern border is not the most rational idea.

But I don’t think it’s going out on a limb here to say that the number of extremists on the right are far fewer than those on the left, that most people who still consider themselves proud members of the Democratic Party have bought into this leftist orthodoxy to some extent.

Today’s golden calf is the anti-Semitic, illiberal propaganda. 

Otherwise, how to explain the fact that Mallory and Sarsour remain unscathed — even after showing the world their bigoted, illiberal agendas? That criticizing them — as the ADL did — will just get you thrown to the ground and stomped on by every virtue signaler needing a status boost? That thousands of professors have remained silent while their universities have turned into propaganda machines, where freedom of speech is considered fascist?

The genius of classical liberalism is that it can instantaneously call the bluff of hypocrites on both the left and the right. It’s like a mirror to your political soul.

If you truly are a racist, classical liberalism will out you in a second. But it will also out you if you don’t believe in freedom of speech or if you think journalists or professors should be biased. And it will most especially out you if your compassion is merely a show for status. Maybe this is why classical liberalism is so hated by many on the left today, where protecting one’s status is far more important than standing up for liberal principles.

I have come to think of the election of Trump as an act of God, a Biblical act meant to teach all of us a lesson. Kind of like Moses throwing the Ten Commandments to the ground after descending from Mount Sinai and seeing the golden calf.

Throughout history, each and every time the left has gotten off the classical liberal path and descended into illiberal orthodoxy — communism, socialism and now, Islamist-led leftism — disaster has been the result.

You might think Trump is a disaster. And you have every right to do so. But if you haven’t yet considered the possibility that the way the left worshipped Obama — “utter only sanctimonious praise or I will publicly scream racist at you till you disappear” — led to Trump, or the way the left is now handling Trump — when they go low, we go lower — then we are still a long way from learning something from this saga.

Today’s golden calf is the anti-Semitic, illiberal propaganda — victimhood! identity politics! intersectionality! — emanating from self-proclaimed activists whose real agenda is so diabolical that only the most impetuous (Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Sarsour) dare speak its name.

And so the question remains: Who is going to burn today’s golden calf?

Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic.

What the Israeli Left Can Teach the American Left

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“The American left is quite different from the Israeli left,” said American-born Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi during a talk last week in New York City. “There is a sobriety, a maturity, to the mainstream Israeli left that you often don’t find here.”

Right on cue, a few days later, Women’s March organizers Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory were back in the news, this time over derogatory statements about the Anti-Defamation League’s involvement with anti-bias education at Starbucks; and Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, the 2018 Genesis Prize winner, decided to boost her American-leftist status by announcing she would boycott the award ceremony in Israel.

All of which will no doubt give Halevi, who moved to Israel in 1982, more to talk about as he embarks on a tour for his new book, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor,” out in May.

While the American left celebrates victimhood, Halevi said, “Zionism is a profound rejection of victimhood.” Even the Israeli left finds victimhood “incomprehensible.”

“There’s no nobility to being a victim,” said Halevi, who as a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute has been active in coexistence efforts with American Muslims. Indeed, there isn’t. But somehow, following lockstep with Palestinian propaganda of the past 50 years, leftist (i.e., illiberal) propaganda has ennobled certain victims (notably not all victims) to the point of sainthood.

The maturing of the American left would entail an understanding that it’s been played.

As Portman, whose family moved to the U.S. when she was 3, essentially took the Hamas/BDS line in citing “recent events” when detailing her decision not to attend the prize ceremony, Halevi talked about how in Israel “the Jewish army is treated like a Jewish life force: our soldiers are our children and our security.” Meanwhile, members of the far-left group Breaking the Silence, which aims to monitor the Israel Defense Forces, are considered “pariahs in Israel — no one takes them seriously.” Perhaps most notably, “there’s never been a serious draft resistance in Israel. Our army is us.”

How does Halevi recommend maturing the diasporic left, especially young Americans? “We need to tell our truths, our story — who we are, what our experiences have been,” he said. And we need to do it in the “traditional form of one generation passing on our stories to another. We need to stop worrying about whether millennials will ‘get it.’ We need to stop indulging millennials.”

Indeed. What has this indulgence led to? Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in a recent poll could not identify what Auschwitz was, and 22 percent said they had never heard of the Holocaust.

At the same time, millennials — and much of the left in general — believe that every aspect of our existence must be politicized. They have been taught that there is no separation between life and politics.

As Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and speaker, put it in an open letter to Portman in The Jerusalem Post: “It’s not about criticism, which we welcome here, it is about the way you do it, at this moment in time. I know you are used to a different type of political debate in the U.S., but we don’t need you to bring it here.”

The truth is, the American left — in its current descent into illiberalism — can learn a lot from the Israeli left.

“Palestinians threaten with their powerlessness,” Halevi said. It is the same powerlessness or victimhood that promotes anti-Semitic propagandists like Sarsour and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to positions of influence on the U.S. left. It is the same victimhood that enables Muslim migrants in Europe to kill or maim Jews on a routine basis.

The maturing of the American left would entail an understanding that it’s been played. That ideas like “intersectionality” and “identity politics” have been manipulated for nefarious propagandistic purposes by individuals and groups whose sole mission is to single out and malign the Jewish state.

Ironically, just as Israel and Arab countries are becoming allied in a fight against Iran, the American left puts Sarsour on a panel about anti-Semitism; and Palestinian professors and activists rewrite Jewish history on a daily basis at American universities.

Creating an atmosphere where Israeli-born Americans like Portman feel a need to regurgitate the Hamas/BDS line in order to retain status on the left is as evil as it is brilliant. Can real liberals like Halevi and Mazzig help put the American left on a corrective course? Let’s hope so.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is an author and cultural critic.

Time’s Up for Faux Liberals

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“Farrakhan has pulled the cover off the eyes of the Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” Louis Farrakhan, referring to himself in the third person, told a cheering Nation of Islam crowd of thousands in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

How nice that Farrakhan, 84, has been able to stay rhetorically on trend. Actually, his genocidal bigotry is so on trend that Tamika Mallory, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, was shocked — shocked! — that anyone would care that she attended this largely anti-Semitic rally, that she would get a shoutout from the good minister, and even pose for a photo with him on Instagram afterward.

Truth be told, Mallory had every reason to be shocked. When co-leader Linda Sarsour said that anti-Semitism is “not systemic,” that you can’t be a feminist and a Zionist — when she publicly embraced terrorist Rasmea Odeh — there was barely a peep from those left of center.

In fact, the unpleasant reality that Sarsour and co-leader Carmen Perez also have close ties to Farrakhan — the man the Anti-Defamation League calls “the leading anti-Semite in America”—didn’t stir any pot either.

So, why would Mallory think that the normalization of hate against Jews — a key part of the “intersectionality” that the Women’s March quartet touts — would cause such a ruckus?

What Mallory wasn’t counting on was the fact that Farrakhan’s blatant focus on Jews — not Zionists and Israel — would actually motivate the normally silent to open their mouths. Jews on the far left are often called self-haters for kowtowing to the likes of Sarsour. But clearly it’s not self-hatred — it’s more like they’re happy to hide behind an anti-Zionist cover when needed: regressive chic at its finest.

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred. So it’s good to know that when push comes to genocide, left-of-center Jews will not be silent. We can now call this the Farrakhan Line: Jews on the left will put their foot down when Israel is not mentioned.

Words, as Jews know in their veins, have consequences.

Indeed, a month before Farrakhan’s speech, the ADL published a report showing that 2017 saw a 67 percent rise in anti-Jewish hate speech, harassment, vandalism and violence.

This seems like a good opportunity to distinguish real liberals from faux liberals, whether they call themselves progressives or leftists or socialists.

Remarkably, the Wikipedia definition of liberalism has remained intact: “Liberalism is a political philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views … but generally support [the principles of] freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and gender equality.”

Not standing up for your own people for the sake of status is just as faux liberal as condoning hatred.

This is the key line: Liberals espouse a wide array of views. Meaning, you and I can disagree on how to enforce, for instance, freedom of speech. But if you don’t stand for the principle of freedom of speech, you can’t call yourself a liberal. (Social justice warriors on campus, please take note.)

And speaking of words, I’ve been increasingly seeing the word “gaslighting” in relation to President Donald Trump. Gaslighting is “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt … in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”

Personally, I don’t see this as a conscious or unconscious Trump tactic. But I very much see this as a progressive/leftist tactic. From baseless attacks on Israel to Holocaust denial/minimization, to outright Jew hatred, progressives/leftists are, consciously or not, trying to gaslight Jews.

And so, I ask my fellow liberals: Why are you so desperate to be included in these “progressive” groups? Why not work to restrengthen the liberal center? Liberalism, by definition, includes both feminism and Zionism.

And I say to the leaders of the Women’s March: Time’s up for faux liberals and faux feminists.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.

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

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dem Congressman: Louis Farrakhan Is ‘An Outstanding Human Being’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A Democratic congressman recently praised Louis Farrakhan as “an outstanding human being” despite Farrakhan’s record of rabidly anti-Semitic statements.

Rep. Danny Duffy (D-IL) told The Daily Caller that it was perfectly fine that Barack Obama took a photo with Farrakhan in 2005.

“I regard him as an outstanding human being who commands a following of individuals who are learned and articulate and he plays a big role in the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” Duffy said.

When asked about Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, Duffy claimed “that many people in politics have a history of inflammatory comments.”

Here are some of the many anti-Semitic statements spewed by Farrakhan:

· “It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks. Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks…we know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11.”

· “These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength. It’s the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s the wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic.”

· “Jews who owned the homes, the apartments and stores in the black community, we considered them bloodsuckers because they took from our community and built their community but didn’t offer anything back to our community.”

· “I believe that for the small numbers of Jewish people in the United States, they exercise a tremendous amount of influence on the affairs of government…yes, they exercise extraordinary control, and black people will never be free in this country until they are free of that kind of control.”

Farrakhan has also praised Adolf Hitler as “a very great man,” railed against whites as “the race of devils” and formed a partnership with the Church of Scientology cult.

Duffy’s comments come after the release of a 2005 photo showing Obama smiling with Farrakhan at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting; the photographer claimed that he hid the photo in order to improve Obama’s chances at the presidency. There are also photos from 2006 showing Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), among others, embracing Farrakhan.

Additionally, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was a member of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and defended him for years before cutting ties from the Nation of Islam in 2002. However, according to the Wall Street Journal Ellison attended a dinner with Farrakhan that was hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and visited Farrakhan in 2016.

In 2015, progressive icon Linda Sarsour attended Farrakhan’s #JusticeOrElse rally and then gushed about Farrakhan afterward.

“The brother does not age,” Sarsour said. “God bless him.”

Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg noted that “Republican elected officials from Donald Trump on down have rightly faced heavy criticism from Democrats over their ties to and defenses of bigoted hate groups and individuals.”

“Whether Democrats will hold their own official, Rep. Davis, to the same standard remains to be seen,” Rosenberg wrote. “Thus far, all 20 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who served in Congress at the time of the Farrakhan meeting have declined to comment on it or condemn the man himself.”

Letters to the Editor: Trump, Marriage, Partisan Divide on Israel and Women’s March

Trump and the Cycle of Violence in Israel

In the Jan. 19 cover story, “The Trump Gap,” Shmuel Rosner asserts that a “Trump-friendly” Israel “becomes an outlier” in the view of Israel and the Europeans — as evidenced in the U.N. actions of late. Is Rosner not aware that Israel’s existence has been as an outlier in the U.N. and Europe since long before the Oslo Accord? Or the U.N. Security Council’s continuous focus on destroying Israel? All of this predates the latest U.S. election by far.

Worse, in “Jerusalem, What Comes Next?” (Jan. 19), Joel Braunold argues that asserting Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem has surrendered the United States’ ability to broker peace, and that building grass-roots peace movements is the answer. What deluded bubble must one occupy to think that building communities “of collective humanity” will magically create an atmosphere of peace while our purported peace partners teach their children to become martyrs for the “holy” cause of killing Jewish women and children, and Arab supporters of peace are executed as collaborators?

David Zuckerman, Phoenix


Alternative Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s story was great, but I have my own three secrets to a happy and long-lasting relationship/marriage (“Three Secrets to a Long and Happy Marriage,” Jan. 19).

They are: 1) Always hold hands when walking; 2) Sit next to each other in a restaurant, not across; 3) Never watch TV after a date or after an evening out.

Robert Geminder, Palos Verdes


Nature and God

I read with interest “Why I Don’t Worship Trees” by David Suissa (Jan. 26).

He says that there is a difference between loving nature and worshipping God. This is interesting to me because, according to Spinoza, God and Nature are one and the same.

So, it depends on which philosopher you are reading, as to what is “true and correct” — or rather, “an adequate idea” in the words of Spinoza. I love and worship Nature, which to me is synonymous with God.

Debora Gillman, Los Angeles

I have great respect for, though not agreement with, David Suissa’s argument that Jewish tradition calls for transcending Nature and aiming for a higher place. It was such an argument that propelled the Amsterdam Jewish community to excommunicate Spinoza, who saw divinity in all of Nature, thereby incurring the anathema of being a “polytheist.”

The relevancy in our world today is that such a separation must now become anathema in order to preserve the only place in the universe we have to live. We must see nature and divinity as indivisible or risk continuing on the path that in an accelerating manner threatens to leave us as the “masters of nothing.”

Sheldon H. Kardener via email


Republicans, Too, Must Widen Their Views

Ben Shapiro, in his column “Partisan Divide Over Israel” (Jan. 26), only exacerbates that divide by insisting that only the Democratic Party has to “re-evaluate its moral worldview in the Middle East.” In fact, there are many Democrats, myself included, who strive to enhance the long-term security and prosperity of Israel by desperately working (sometimes it’s more like “hoping”) to leave the door open for a workable two-state solution. Additionally, we struggle to encourage Israel’s democratic institutions and pluralism, to reverse the increasing rejection felt by liberal Jews. Conservatives talk a good game when it comes to supporting Israel, but in reality their strategies have done more harm than good — none more so than President George W. Bush’s removal of Saddam Hussein’s counterbalance to Iranian expansion followed by his encouragement of an independent entity and “free” elections in Gaza, which led to the ascendancy of Hamas and the ensuing conflicts. It’s time for the Republicans to take off their blinders and widen their views of what will and won’t work in the Middle East.

John F. Beckmann, Sherman Oaks


The Women’s March

Thanks to Karen Lehrman Bloch for her brave piece “Why I Didn’t March” (Jan. 26). I hope her writing will open the eyes of many women who do not recognize the manipulative, anti-Zionist agenda behind the progressive movement. We can fight for human rights without allowing ourselves to become robotic pawns in a crowd led by the likes of the hateful Linda Sarsour. Let’s march for acceptance of thought and speech and let’s celebrate individual choice.

Alice Greenfield via email

I think mostly everyone can agree that our country is extremely polarized on issues concerning Israel, immigration, education, taxes, trade policies, health care, the environment, women’s rights and abortion. Very often, it’s only one issue that is paramount to the individual and it is so powerful that they will overlook positions on all the other important issues facing us. That’s why the Women’s March is so important. To assert that women were following the leaders of this march and were told what to think is absurd and demeaning. I never heard of Linda Sarsour before reading Karen Lehrman Bloch’s column and learned that she is anti-Israel and an anti-Semite. I marched with the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Los Angeles who are concerned about a multiplicity of issues and, like me, have no knowledge of Linda Sarsour’s political views.

Frima Telerant, Westwood


Parties Split Over Support of Israel

Danielle Berrin, who appears to be left-leaning, and Ben Shapiro, who is right-leaning, seem to agree on something: There is a lot of partisan division in politics in the United States and in Israel which affects support for Israel. According to recent Pew research data, 79 percent of Republicans say they sympathize with Israel and just 27 percent of Democrats say they identify with Israel. That should not be surprising given the fact that at the 2012 Democratic National Convention there was booing when the platform was amended to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Now the No. 2 person in the DNC, Keith Ellison, is an avowed Israel-hating Jew hater.

Marshall Lerner via email


Tablets Belong in Our Schools

It was sad to read the uninformed opinion of Abigail Shrier on getting iPads out of our schools (“Smash the Tablets: Get iPads Out of Our Schools,” Jan 19). Hardly any student goes to college without a laptop or iPad these days. Not too long ago, the Yale School of Medicine gave each of its students an Apple iPad 2 for use in the classroom and their clinical responsibilities.

Litigators create their deposition outlines on iPads, and during depositions they typically have a separate iPad that’s linked to the court reporter. The use of this technology simply makes sense unless Shrier also thinks that attorneys’ brains are being compromised because of these technology tools.

The correlations she cites are just that — correlations — unproven statistical comparisons that may turn out to be false. The explicit intention of using iPads in the schools was to reach a rainbow of learners, which it accomplished, with or without the agreement of Shrier.

Joel Greenman, Woodland Hills


CORRECTIONS

The founder of Netiya was misidentified in a Jan. 26 story (“A Tu B’Shevat Question”). Rabbi Noah Farkas founded Netiya, a Los Angeles-based food justice organization; Devorah Brous was hired as its founding executive director in 2011.

The former name of de Toledo High School was misreported in the Jan. 26 edition (“De Toledo Goes Green”). It formerly was called New Community Jewish High School.

Letters to the Editor: Survivor Story, Taxes, Jerusalem and Linda Sarsour

Inspired to Share Her Own Survivor Story

I was quite moved by Jane Ulman’s story on Mina Wilner (“Mina Wilner: Saved by a ‘Remarkable Woman,’ ” Nov. 3).  I was first attracted to the photo — it looked vaguely familiar, a bit of my own face. I was born in Warsaw and lived in Poland for 18 years. I am a bit younger. I was actually born in the Warsaw ghetto.

After my mother perished there, my father was trying to think how to save me. At about 15 months old, I was tiny, severely undernourished. He wrapped me in an old blanket and packing paper and threw me over the ghetto wall.  Yes, he did have some contacts on the outside and there were a number of people who promised to deliver me to Brwinow, not too far from Warsaw, where the Ursuline nuns were running an orphanage — but not for Jewish children, as far as I know. For a very long time, my father didn’t know if people did come to pick me up, get me on several trains, though the distance was small. My guardian angel must have been close on that night. I did survive (and my father took part in the Warsaw Insurrection with other surviving Ghetto Fighters.) The Ursuline nuns have a tree in Vad Yashem now.

Anne P. Warman via email


Don’t Forget What Paying Taxes Gets You

Even assuming that everyone receives some temporary benefit from the GOP tax bill, we see little attention given to the reason we pay taxes in the first place. The pursuit of happiness our Founding Fathers promised us means that we have access to health care, education, public safety and the myriad benefits of living in a democracy. Despite President Donald Trump’s claim that we are the most highly taxed nation, in fact we rank 33rd out of 35 developed nations in the percentage of taxes we pay.

Americans need to connect the amount of taxes we pay to the public services we have learned to expect.

Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, “Taxes are the price of civilization.” The Republican bill will further eliminate funding for the institutions and programs that provide what Americans most treasure. I’ll continue to hate paying my taxes but I want to continue to enjoy what they support.

Barbara H. Bergen, Los Angeles


‘Judaism and Jedi-ism’

In his column (“Judaism and Jedi-ism,” Dec. 22), Eli Fink equates the burning of the Jedi temple with the burning of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. However, Yoda, in saying the books [of Jedi wisdom] were unimportant, was more like the Christians who eliminated the need to follow all the Jewish laws. Rey is more like Yohanan ben Zakkai, who started a school in Yavneh. He saved the books.

After all, we are the people of the book.

Carol Levine via email

FROM FACEBOOK …

I absolutely agree with your take. Judaism is moving to a decentralized model. What that will look like, who knows? But I suspect Mussar and personal ethics may be part of the answer. Thanks for writing.

Greg Marcus

I loved this! I’ve seen the movie [“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”] five times and found so many incredible themes.

Christy Marshall


‘A Diaspora Is Born in Nebraska,’ Dec. 22:

I am happy that [the Yazidis] are safe and sound, and sad that in order to achieve this, they had to leave the land of their birth. Welcome!

Rosalie Paul


‘Why a Jewish Hospital Has a Christmas Concert,’ Dec. 22:

“I have a little problem with a Jewish hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, serving its patients and employees with a Christmas concert, but this story’s writer, Rabbi Jason Weiner, speaking as a rabbi, is just wrong about what Judaism asks of us.

Saying, “Honoring other faith traditions is an integral part of what it means to be a Jewish hospital” is ridiculous. Allowing them the right to worship as they please is one thing, but “honoring”? His statement is a brilliant political move, but that is what it is: politics. Celebrating (or should I say, “honoring”) others’ religions is specifically forbidden repeatedly by the Torah.

Gideon Jones

Music brings joy to one’s heart and I see nothing wrong with that. Perhaps if we shared more music with our fellow man, it would be a better world.

Joan Feldmann

Great story! Rabbi Weiner, whom I have had the pleasure to meet, has both warmth and an unassuming manner (humility), which comes across when you speak with him. Both the hospital and the community are lucky to have him. This article reflects that.

Tzvi Binn


‘My Reform Colleagues Were Wrong on Jerusalem,’ Dec. 22:

I can’t help but wonder what the response would have been if former President Barack Obama had declared the embassy will be moved to Jerusalem.

Dotty Weisberg

Actually, and with all due respect, I believe the original response of the North American Reform organizations to President Donald Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem was the correct response to make. In the absence of any final status peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, openly supporting Trump’s politically and manipulatively motivated statement (which he made primarily to appease and shore up his support among many right-wing, Christian evangelical supporters) would have been the wrong approach for these Reform organizations to take.

Craig Mankin


‘Jerusalem Move Blows Up Mideast Myths,’ Dec. 22:

Why do we always seem to forget the 1956 Suez campaign? Is it because part of the reason was that the British and French were trying to restore colonial control of the Suez Canal? Israel, on the other hand, was threatened and attacked by the same kind of fedayeen raids that were part of the cause for the 1967 war as well as conventional Egyptian forces on her borders.

John Fishel

This mantra is useless. Rational people don’t buy this nonsense. For a peaceful future, there is one solution: a shared capital, east for Palestine, west for Israel.

Wahid Awad


‘On Goddesses, Doormats and Linda Sarsour,’ Dec. 22:

It’s kind of amazing how ideologically polarized we’ve become. When people are questioning an incident that calls out some of the horrible management practices — covering up sexual assault in the workplace — of one of the most vocal anti-Semites in America today, in a Jewish magazine nonetheless, and people don’t believe it because it was first reported by a conservative news site, we really have lost our common consensus on the basis of reality and politics has trumped Judaism.

Pamela Fleischmann

‘For We Are Glorious’

Screenshot from Twitter.

An iconic photo has emerged from the protests in Iran. A young woman — fearless, determined, resolute — holds a long stick. At the end of the long stick is a white hijab. The image is so powerful it was morphed into digital art, which then became a social media meme. But it is a meme with no words, no hashtag.

Because a cry from the heart needs no hashtag.

Sadly, as I write this five days into the protests, most people probably haven’t seen the image. It hasn’t been splashed on all the front pages of the world. Indeed, at least in the beginning, much of the media ignored or downplayed the largest protests in Iran since 2009. There has been a deafening silence from leftist groups that purport to be about human rights and feminism.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The god of leftism, President Barack Obama, set the stage when he took the side of the tyrannical dictatorship during the 2009 protests, and then, as part of the Iran deal, gave the terror-happy regime billions of dollars in cash.

The Iranians have no interest in victimhood and are throwing off the hijab with abandon.

Eight years later, faced with the agonizing cries of a people desperate for freedom and human dignity, the left is failing again. Many are trying to protect Obama’s legacy; most will do anything not to be on the same side as President Trump, who has thrown his support squarely behind the protesters.

Perhaps the larger issue is this: Iran puts in high relief the difference between real liberalism, in which principles transcend politics; and leftists, who live in fear of helping their ideological enemies and offending the victims du jour.

Linda Sarsour and her fellow travelers have sanctified this antiliberalism through endless manipulation and propaganda. In one surreal moment, she was able to convince women on the left that wearing the hijab was a symbol of “empowerment.”

But here’s the funny thing about this Persian Spring: the Iranians have no interest in victimhood and are throwing off the hijab with abandon. Day after day, the brave Persians are showing the world what real liberalism looks like.

Mesmerized by the protests, I keep thinking of a song from the new movie “The Greatest Showman.” The movie itself is an homage to non-conformity and non-victimization, but one song in particular, “This is Me,” describes the sentiment that first inspired feminism and liberalism:

We are bursting through the barricades/And reaching for the sun (we are warriors)/Yeah, that’s what we’ve become/Won’t let them break me down to dust/I know that there’s a place for us/For we are glorious.

In the film, set in the late 19th century, the song is an anthem to human dignity, respect, tolerance and a classless society where anyone can achieve greatness.

In 2018, it can be seen as an anthem to freedom, justice, individualism and the classical liberalism now reborn with the Iranian protesters.

While Sarsour has convinced the left to make victims the new dictators — she recently announced that Palestinians have a right to become terrorists — the Iranian people are done with dictatorship, terrorism (notably, the protesters shouted: “Death to Hezbollah”) and fundamentalism.

Sure, some women may choose to wear a hijab, just like women in other religions choose to dress modestly. But since 1979 Iranian women were not given this choice. They were forced to wear the hijab, as well as to accommodate the craziness of the mullahs in every aspect of their lives, or they were lashed and imprisoned. Meanwhile, Islamic clerics regularly hang gay men, even teens.

The world has watched a vibrant country be destroyed by Islamic fundamentalism, and now, the world watches a people rising up to say,  “Enough.”

Were the protesters inspired by the U.S. standing up to Islamic dictators over Jerusalem? Perhaps indirectly. Freedom has a way of sending out waves of positive energy, as we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

We can mark the start of 2018 optimistic that a ray of courage has emerged from an ancient people who have, overall, a positive relationship with another ancient people — the Jews. And we can hope and pray that the evil mullahs will be gone before Purim.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.

On Goddesses, Doormats and Linda Sarsour

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“For me,” said Pablo Picasso, “there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats.”

Picasso was somewhat of an expert on women: He knew how to destroy them. Of the seven most important women in his life, two killed themselves and two went mad.

I thought of this quote when reading about how Linda Sarsour allegedly dealt with sexual assault accusations at the Arab American Association of New York, where she was executive director. According to The Daily Caller, in 2009 Asmi Fathelbab told Sarsour that she was being repeatedly sexually assaulted by volunteer Majid Seif.

“Sarsour is no champion of women,” said Fathelbab, 37. “She is an abuser of them.” Sarsour, she said, told her that “something like this didn’t happen to women who looked like me. … She told me I’d never work in New York City again for as long as she lived.”

Others have come forth to corroborate Fathelbab’s allegations. A New York political operative said that Sarsour was “militant against other women. … The only women [Sarsour] is for is herself.” Sarsour denies the allegations, portraying herself, as always, as the real victim.

None of this is shocking to anyone who has followed Sarsour’s hate-filled rhetoric, and while the allegations remain allegations, much of the mainstream media — notably The New York Times — are  curiously silent about this #MeToo case after creating hysteria about every other one.

Nevertheless, I imagine the story also doesn’t come as a shock to most women, who have no doubt been treated like doormats by ambitious women like Sarsour at one time or another. It’s the abuse no one likes to talk about.

Of course, anyone who has ever been around young girls knows how cruel they can be to one another.

But everyone expects that most girls will, well, grow up.

That’s not always the case. Consider, for instance, women in the office who take out their unhappiness on other women. An editor at a book publisher that I used to work for would scream at me each morning from Paris, calling me the nastiest names. I used to joke that it was like the old “Saturday Night Live” routine: “Jane, you ignorant slut.” It didn’t really bother me because I knew I was doing good work, and I knew that she was in a difficult marriage. Neither of which, of course, made it OK.

I’ve had other instances of female abuse in the workplace, most of which have come when I knew the woman personally. This has led me to two conclusions about female abuse: One, many women do it because they can — because they see other women as soft targets. Two, many women do it because they feel threatened by other women’s success.

There is a popular meme on Facebook: You can tell who the strong women are—they are the ones who support the success of other women.

You can tell who the strong women are — they are the ones who support the success of other women.

I don’t expect other women to treat me a like a goddess (men, on the other hand, absolutely). But I do expect a level of respect that some women seem incapable of providing. The “sisterhood” model, as appealing as it sounds, breaks down when it assumes that all women think alike, which, of course we don’t.

But respect is most needed when we don’t think alike. I respect you even if we have different political views. I support your career, and if anyone — male or female — is bullying you, I will be the first to call it out.

As for the allegations against Sarsour, they are especially egregious because they involve both sexual assault and serious damage to a woman’s career. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Women who support Sarsour’s politics are being put in a challenging position: Which do they care about most, the fact that Fathelbab allegedly was sexually harassed, and then bullied by Sarsour, or the fact that they can’t call out a “sister”?

Here’s hoping that Sarsour’s supporters don’t turn into female Picassos for all of the wrong reasons.


Karen Lehrman Bloch is a cultural critic and author.

Regressive Chic

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1970, Tom Wolfe coined the term “radical chic” to describe how socialites and celebrities were adopting radical political causes to advance their social standing. If you wanted to be considered fashionable, you had to ostentatiously embrace violent groups like the Black Panthers.

Today, the desire to use radical politics to advance your status has been adopted by not just celebrities but by professors and writers as well. And it’s not only about supporting illiberal, often violent groups and trends; it’s also about silence in the face of the most outrageous acts. Maajid Nawaz calls this regressive leftism because it’s tearing down every tenet of the Enlightenment and liberalism. I call it regressive chic because it’s so tied up in social insecurities.

Take the panel on anti-Semitism at The New School in New York City. The fact that the panel was led by Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace—toxic anti-Israel activists who honor terrorists who kill Jews—is of course the height of regressive chic. So was the fact that the five panelists spent most of their time bashing Israel and doing everything possible not to mention the elephant in the room: Islamic anti-Semitism.

But just as egregious: only one professor in the entire country publicly condemned it.

I know of professors who are outraged by Sarsour’s skillful manipulation of the left. But when it came time to writing an op-ed that demanded the panel be cancelled in the name of truth and sanity, they were silent. Why? “Trash-talking Jewish Israelis is not only permitted in progressive circles, it’s rewarded,” wrote New School Professor Susan Shapiro in the New York Daily News.

Across the river at Rutgers University, three professors who have expressed blatantly anti-Semitic views, both in the classroom and out, have been inexplicably defended by Rutgers’ president, Robert Barchi. Again, no professor in the entire country has publicly had a problem with this.

Interestingly, one of the Rutgers’ professors, Michael Chikindas, is not just anti-Semitic; he’s also homophobic and misogynistic. Have we heard anything about this from LGBTQ or feminist groups? Nope. Because in the land of regressive chic, if you show your anti-Semitic hall pass, you are then free to say or do anything, however depraved.

This helps explain the left’s silence when Iran throws gays off of rooftops or when Sharia Law-driven Muslims beat and stone to death their mothers, wives, and daughters.

If you’re wondering how all of this happened, listen to Sarsour or Students for Justice in Palestine. They have so brilliantly conflated the Palestinian cause with African-Americans you would think the South owned Palestinian slaves before the Civil War. The fact that it is Muslim countries, most especially Libya, that to this day own black slaves is Sarsour’s best-kept secret.

If anti-Semitism is key to regressive chic, so is support for protests that promote radical victimhood, including anything “trans.”

This last one may seem innocuous—the granting of rights to transgender people—but it’s not. Forcing biological female teens to shower with biological male teens, for instance, undermines a key tenet of liberalism: your rights end where mine begin. But don’t even try telling this to leftists; they will simply call you a fascist, comically/tragically misunderstanding that regressive leftism is the closest we’ve had to fascism in seventy years.

What makes regressive chic so appealing to even professors who know how illiberal it is? Status. If you can’t be a regressive victim (which of course is the highest form of status), then you can support/appease/apologize for said victims. This gives you an immediate identity and an instant social group: others who eagerly conform to regressive chic by-laws on speech and behavior.

I recently befriended a young Egyptian who wants to write about why the Arab world needs to change its stance on Israel. Since he lives in Egypt, I asked him whether he thought it was better to use a pen name. He thought about it for a few minutes, and then wrote back: “No. We are right so I’m not afraid.”

I was struck by the bravery, by the almost Biblical morality of his sentence.

If only liberal writers and professors—living safely here in the United States—had even an iota of his desire to put the promotion of justice over anything else. Call it liberal chic; call it real liberalism. Whatever you call it, we need to bring it back.

Satirical Mossad Twitter Account Trolls Linda Sarsour for ‘Jewish Media’ Remark

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Linda Sarsour, who became well-known for organizing the Women’s March, claimed criticism from her stemmed from the “Jewish media,” a remark that set herself up to be trolled by a satirical Mossad Twitter account.

Sarsour was part of a panel at The New School in New York City discussing anti-Semitism on Tuesday evening when she blamed the “Jewish media” for stirring up controversy against her.

“If what you’re reading all day long, morning and night, in the Jewish media is that Linda Sarsour and Minister Farrakhan are the existential threat to the Jewish community, something really bad’s going to happen and we’re going to miss the mark on it,” said Sarsour.

“Minister Farrakhan” is a reference to Louis Farrakhan, who has a long history of anti-Semitic invectives.

Sarsour also stated her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“What other way am I supposed to be, as a Palestinian-American who’s a daughter of immigrants who lived under military occupation and still has relatives in Palestine that live under military occupation?” said Sarsour. “I should be expected to have the views that I hold.”

A Twitter account under “The Mossad” moniker happened to see Sarsour’s “Jewish media” comment on Twitter, so they tweeted, “We will take credit for causing earthquakes, releasing sharks into your waters and even stealing your shoe. But you being unpopular, @lsarsour? You did that all on your own.”

Sarsour’s appearance on the anti-Semitism panel drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt:

Sarsour has been celebrated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for her work in promoting various progressive causes, including her support for Black Lives Matter and fighting alongside the ACLU against the “unlawful police spying” of Muslims. Others, such as Journal columnist Ben Shapiro, have criticized Sarsour for supporting Sharia law and her embrace of various Palestinian terrorists.

Jake Tapper and Linda Sarsour mixed it up on Twitter. And it wasn’t about Jews. Or was it?

Jake Tapper speaking to a crowd at the Harvard Institute of Politics Forum on Dec. 1, 2016. Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Jake Tapper, the CNN anchor, uses Twitter as a platform to joke, kibbitz with friends and colleagues, and, as he does on his show, “The Lead,” to call out deviations from what he sees as basic American values like tolerance and free speech.

One of his best-known encounters of the latter kind came last year, when he pressed candidate Donald Trump to disavow an endorsement by David Duke, the anti-Semite and racist. (Trump did, eventually.)

So it was odd to see Linda Sarsour, the feminist and Palestinian-American activist, say on Twitter on Tuesday that Tapper had joined “the ranks of the alt-right.”

It was part of a fraught exchange between a Muslim American well known for her friendship with some liberal Jews and for her clashes with the Jewish establishment — she endorses the boycott Israel movement — and a celebrity who makes no secret of his Jewishness. But it was one in which Jews never came up, at least explicitly.

So what started it all?

Tapper earlier on Wednesday criticized Sarsour and the Women’s March — which she helped found — for celebrating the birthday of Assata Shakur, a black militant convicted in the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. She was jailed in 1977 and escaped in 1979, eventually fleeing to Cuba, where she lives today. Tapper responded to Sarsour’s birthday greetings by tweeting, “Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba. This, ugly sentiments from @lsarsour & @dykemarchchi …Any progressives out there condemning this?” He linked to a Women’s March tweet marking Shakur’s birthday.

The Women’s March, in an extensive thread, had said that it was feting Shakur because of her role in repudiating sexism in the black nationalist movement, and did not endorse her role in the murder of the trooper.

Sarsour rejoined on Twitter, first with her gibe about Tapper joining the alt-right and then asking him directly: “Please share my ‘ugly’ sentiments? Unapologetically Muslim? Unapologetically Palestinian? Pro-immigrant? Pro-justice? Shame.”

Tapper, replying, referred to Sarsour’s attacks on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the onetime Muslim who is now an outspoken critic of Islam. Ali has at times said her focus is only on militant Islam, but at other times has targeted the faith more broadly, earning herself a reputation in some quarters as an Islamaphobe.

In a now deleted 2011 tweet, Sarsour, comparing Ali to anti-Islam activist Brigitte Gabriel, had said: “Brigitte Gabriel=Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s asking 4 an a$$ whippin’. I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.” (Asked about the tweet recently, she said, “People say stupid shit sometimes.”)

That, Tapper said, was “pretty vile” addressed to Ali, a survivor of female genital mutilation.

So, nothing in this fight is Jewish, right?

Yair Rosenberg, the Tablet blogger, noted on Twitter that Tapper — a graduate of Akiba Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia who frequently celebrates his Jewish upbringing —  came in seventh among Jews in an Anti-Defamation League tally of journalists abused by the alt-right.

Beyond that, there are some hints of a Jewish subtext — that Tapper was coming at this from the perspective of Jewish experience, and that Sarsour understood this. Certainly, Sarsour seemed, by lumping Tapper in with the alt-right, to be seeking to wound him in the way that some folks belittle some black men by referring to them as Uncle Toms.

And Tapper, in his initial tweet pointing out progressive excesses, called out the Chicago Dyke March, for also wishing Shakur a happy birthday. Chicago Dyke March’s only known controversy of late was its ejection of three Jewish marchers for bearing flags marked with the Star of David.

(Sarsour did not reply to a request for comment, and CNN did not reply to a request to interview Tapper.)

On the other hand, Tapper’s overarching outrage at the happy birthday greeting would appear to stem not from any animus toward Sarsour or anti-Zionists, per se, but toward Shakur. As an ABC reporter in 2011 he aggressively pursued a story about how unhappy New Jersey cops were that President Barack Obama had invited the rapper Common to the White House; Common had recorded a paean to Shakur. As recently as last year Tapper urged fellow journalists travelling to Cuba to ask Shakur if she wanted an interview.

Added bonus irony? Tapper, now reviled by President Donald Trump and many of his followers who consider CNN hopelessly biased, earned kudos in 2011 from conservatives for holding Obama’s feet to the fire.

Linda Sarsour, defending cemetery allocations, lashes out at ‘right wing zionists’

Activist Linda Sarsour speaks during a Women For Syria gathering at Union Square in New York City on April 13. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour said she is the target of  the “right wing, alt-right” and “right wing zionists” after being accused of withholding $100,000 that a fund she helped launch had promised to a neglected Jewish cemetery in Colorado.

The money would be disbursed, she said, after the organization handling the fund received a detailed plan from the cemetery.

Sarsour was responding Tuesday to an article by the Jewish news website The Algemeiner alleging that a campaign she set up in February to raise funds for vandalized Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia failed to deliver funds promised to the Colorado cemetery.

The Muslim-led crowdfunding campaign raised $162,000 from nearly 5,000 donors, exceeding in the first few hours its $20,000 goal to help repair the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St. Louis. Jewish leaders who otherwise object to Sarsour’s support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel appreciated her gesture.

According to the campaign, some $40,000 was sent to the cemetery in St. Louis. Another $5,000 each went to help a vandalized Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York, and repair the Chicago Loop Synagogue following an anti-Semitic attack. The Philadelphia cemetery turned down the money, saying it was not in need of further assistance.

The Algemeiner reported Tuesday that the Golden Hill Cemetery in Lakewood, Colorado, had yet to receive a check for approximately $100,000 as promised by Celebrate Mercy, a Muslim nonprofit that partnered with Sarsour on the project.

Golden Hill was not among the vandalized cemeteries, but rather requested funding from Celebrate Mercy at the suggestion of Jennifer Goodland, a local history buff and photographer who had taken pictures of the cemetery’s overgrown plots and toppled headstones. In a Facebook post Wednesday, Celebrate Mercy said it was awaiting a revision of Golden Hill’s “detailed funding request” and that “we are doing our due diligence to all the campaign donors to carefully evaluate all proposed costs and set up a disbursement schedule for the funds based on achieved milestones.”

“Over the next few months, we intend to fully disburse all remaining funds to help other vandalized Jewish cemeteries and centers nationwide,” the Facebook post read.

Goodland, commenting on the Celebrate Mercy Facebook page, supported the nonprofit’s assertion that the funding would follow a careful review process.

“This is not the kind of project someone does overnight,” she wrote. “The cemetery has been holding meetings with other grant organizations so that we best know how to proceed and truly maximize your humbling and generous offer.”

Neal Price, a caretaker of the cemetery, told The Algemeiner that he and other officials had met in June to discuss costs and create the plan Celebrate Mercy had requested, but that he had not heard from Goodland or Tarek El-Messidi, Celebrate Mercy’s founder, in weeks.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn, accused Sarsour of “fraud” because Golden Hill had not received a disbursement.

“Sarsour is a fraud,” Hikind said in a statement following publication of the Algemeiner article. “She talks out of both sides of her mouth. One minute she’s claiming to be a disciple of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the next she’s standing with a terrorist on stage at an event, and singing praises of that terrorist to an audience. I won’t be the least bit surprised to hear that her little Jewish cemetery publicity stunt wasn’t quite what she made it out to be.”

In April, Sarsour appeared at an event in Chicago with Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman who is being forced to leave the United States for not telling immigration authorities that she was imprisoned in Israel for her role in two terror attacks. In May, Hikind objected when the City University of New York School of Public Health chose Sarsour to deliver the keynote speech at its graduation, saying Sarsour supports terrorism and radical Islam.

Sarsour hit back on Facebook, writing: “I have the unfortunate receipts of what it costs to be a target of the right wing, alt-right, right wing zionists. This has caused my family great emotional stress & trauma. It’s not free to keep my family safe. I just want people to know I am taking names of media outlets and prominent individuals who have used the last few months to defame my character. I may be quiet but they will pay with their pockets.”

Sarsour noted that El-Messidi had visited the Colorado cemetery in February and was awaiting plans from the cemetery officials.

“Once they had a plan to take on this huge project Tarek would be ready with the funds,” she wrote.

“You can call me what you want BUT DO NOT EVER QUESTION my integrity,” she also wrote, adding: “I am exhausted. I am tired of the lies, lies, and more lies. It’s too much and it reignites the most vitriolic human beings on this earth. I am not safe and someone will pay for this with their pockets. Big time.”

I have the unfortunate receipts of what it costs to be a target of the right wing, alt-right, right wing zionists. This…

Posted by Linda Sarsour on Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How the Dems can lose 2018

Activist Linda Sarsour in New York City on June 29. Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

Last week, the Democrats released a new bumper sticker for their 2018 Congressional campaign: “I mean, have you seen the other guys?”

It’s not a bad political notion so far as it goes — opposition in politics is an effective tool, as Democrats learned from Republicans, who campaigned against Obamacare and Democratic spending policies to the tune of 1,000 state legislature seats, 12 governorships (including in states such as Michigan and Massachusetts), 10 Senate seats and 63 House seats. Now Democrats hope to reverse the math.

But there’s something else going on here, too. Democrats hope that campaigning as #TheResistance will suffice to prevent voters from looking too hard at their own moral and political shortcomings. That’s because for all the talk by Democrats about Republican extremism, Republicans actually have moved closer to the center on policy, while Democrats have embraced an ugly combination of Bernie Sanders-style socialism and college campus-style intersectionality.

Leave aside the boorish antics of President Donald Trump and the incompetence of Congressional Republicans. Here is the fact: Trump is the most moderate Republican president since Richard Nixon. He has successfully passed almost no major policy in seven months. His foreign policy on North Korea and Syria is barely distinguishable from former President Barack Obama’s. His approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been praised by Palestinians and former Obama officials. He’s the most pro-LGBT Republican in presidential history; his stance on abortion has been vague; his White House chief strategist has openly embraced higher taxes on upper-income earners, as well as a massive infrastructure spending program; he has embraced the central premises of Obamacare. Trump may act in ridiculous ways that defy rationality — his Twitter feed is littered with stupidity and aggression, of course — but on policy, Trump is closer to Bill Clinton of 1997 than President Obama was.

Democrats, meanwhile, are moving hard to the left. When former Clinton adviser Mark Penn wrote an op-ed for The New York Times calling for Democrats to move back to the center, he was roundly excoriated by the leading thinkers in the Democratic Party. He was an emissary of the past; he had to embrace the new vision of the leftist future. That leftist future involved radical tax increases, fully nationalized health care, and — most of all — the divisive politics of intersectionality. Sens. Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may own the policy side of the Democratic coalition, but the heart of the Democratic coalition lies in polarization by race, sex and sexual orientation. Forget a cohesive national message that appeals to Americans regardless of tribal identity: The new Democratic Party cares only about uniting disparate identity factions under the banner of opposing Republicanism.

The clearest evidence for that alliance of convenience came earlier this month, when Democratic darling and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour was caught on tape promoting “jihad” against Trump. Sarsour said that the sort of “jihad” she liked was “a word of truth in front of a tyrant or leader.” But she deliberately used the word “jihad” because of its ambiguity, not in spite of it: Sarsour has stated that pro-Israel women cannot be feminists; she supports the imposition of “Shariah law” in Muslim countries; she has stated of dissident and female genital mutilation victim Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she wishes she could take her “vagina away”; she has long associated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood; she opened her “jihad” speech by thanking Siraj Wajjah, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who has repeatedly advocated for a violent form of “jihad.”

Democrats hope that campaigning as #TheResistance will suffice to prevent voters from looking too hard at their own moral and political shortcomings.

Democrats rushed to her defense nonetheless, hoping to preserve the intersectional concerns that animate their base. Never mind that Sarsour is no ally to LGBT rights, or that she blames “Zionists” for her problems. She represents an important constituency for Democrats, and so she must be protected. More than that, she speaks anti-Trumpese fluently, and thus is an important figure for Democrats.

This isn’t rare on the left anymore. Much of the Democratic establishment supported Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a longtime Nation of Islam acolyte who spent years defending that group’s most extreme anti-Semitic rhetoric — a man so radical that he openly associated with the Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which recently labeled Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) an “Israel Firster.”

Even as the Democratic Party embraced Sarsour and defended her ambiguous use of the word “jihad” — after all, she was opposing Trump the Impaler — leftist spokespeople rushed to microphones to denounce President Trump’s speech in Poland, in which he called for a defense of “the West” and “our civilization.” Leftist columnist Peter Beinart labeled the speech racist. As Jonah Goldberg of National Review points out, we now have a Democratic Party that spends its time defending the use of the word “jihad” against the president but labeling the phrase “the West” a problem.

Bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it works out.

And so Democrats must focus on President Trump. They must hope that he smacks himself in the face with a frying pan. They must bank on some sort of Trump-Russia collusion revelation. They must pray that the focus stays on Republicans rather than turning back to Democrats. After all, Sanders-Sarsour doesn’t sound like a winning combination.


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

Rasmea Odeh, Linda Sarsour slam ‘Zionists’ at Jewish Voice for Peace summit

Linda Sarsour speaking onstage during the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

A Palestinian woman who is being forced to leave the United States for not telling immigration authorities that she was imprisoned in Israel for two terror attacks told a U.S. Jewish group that they must stop the “Zionists” from their “land grab.”

Rasmea Odeh was the keynote speaker on Sunday in Chicago at a summit of the Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Odeh, 69, accepted a plea bargain last month that forces her to leave the country and strips her U.S. citizenship. She had been fighting in the courts for years.

Also speaking at the conference was the Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who raised hackles among liberal American Jews recently by saying that those who identify as Zionist cannot be feminist because they are ignoring the rights of Palestinian women.

Meanwhile, during Odeh’s address, the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs held a memorial ceremony at the same hotel for Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, the two men killed in the 1969 bombing in Jerusalem for which Odeh was convicted by an Israeli military court. The group had been denied a request to rent a conference room at the insistence of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Odeh spoke about having to leave the United States.

“I thought when I came to the U.S., and made it my second home, it would be the last station in a journey of struggle that I shared with my Palestinian people in response to the Nakba [catastrophe]  and the occupation of 1967,” she told the audience of about 1,000, referring to the Palestinians’ perception of Israel’s founding, including their forced and voluntary displacement to neighboring countries.

She added: “Now I face a similar Nakba, forced to leave the country and the life that I built for myself over 23 years in the U.S., but I will continue my struggle for justice for my people wherever I land.”

Odeh, a leader of the grassroots International Women’s Strike, reminded the audience that Americans are “in the streets” resisting President Donald Trump every day.

She continued: “Of course, Zionists aren’t going to stop their land grab in Palestine either. The Palestinians there and the Palestinians and our supporters here have to stop them with our resistance and our organization.”

In 1970, Odeh was sentenced to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spent 10 years in prison before being released in a prisoner exchange in 1980.

In 2015, she was sentenced in the U.S. to 18 months in prison for covering up her conviction and imprisonment in Israel when she entered the country in 1995 and applied for citizenship in 2004, but the conviction was later vacated to allow Odeh to show that she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder over her alleged mistreatment while in prison.

Sarsour, an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington who recently raised thousands of dollars to repair anti-Semitic vandalism at three U.S. Jewish cemeteries, told the crowd: “If what is being asked of me by those who pronounce themselves and call themselves Zionist is that I, as a Palestinian American, have to somehow leave out a part of my identity so you can be welcomed in a space to work on justice, then that’s not going to be the right space for you.”

“We, as Palestinian Americans, as Arab Americans, as Muslim Americans, we will not change who we are to make anybody feel comfortable. If you ain’t all in, then this ain’t the movement for you,” she said.

StandWithUs rented a regular hotel room and held its memorial there.

In a statement, the Joffe family described Jewish Voice for Peace as “another deeply misguided so-called ‘Jewish’ organization.”

“She will soon be forgotten by her supporters who have so misguidedly championed her,” the statement said, “but the memory of Edward and Leon will live on forever.”

Why should we care what Linda Sarsour says?

Linda Sarsour speaking onstage during the Women’s March on Washington in Washington, D.C, Jan. 21, 2017. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The internet treated us to quite a debate last week. The issue: Are Zionism and feminism, two of the most successful social revolutions of the 20th century, compatible?

In a New York Times op-ed, Jewish American Emily Shire wondered if her identity as a Zionist would alienate her from a resurgent feminist movement aligned with the Palestinian cause. “I am troubled by the portion of the International Women’s Strike platform that calls for a ‘decolonization of Palestine’ as part of ‘the beating heart of this new feminist movement,’ ” she wrote. “Why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?”

She was answered by Linda Sarsour, a Muslim-American activist and one of the organizers behind the Women’s March on Washington. In an interview with The Nation, Sarsour responded bluntly: “It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

On one point, Sarsour is right: To believe in the rights of women is to believe in the rights of all women — including those in Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. A feminism that lacks inclusion is a flawed feminism. There’s just no way around it.

But many in our community only heard Sarsour say: “criticize Israel.” And so the debate descended into something vicious and misguided, helped in large part by The Nation’s deeply irresponsible headline — “Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Linda Sarsour Says No” — and a reporter who was even more irresponsible. She offered Sarsour an unrestricted soapbox on which to air her views, without ever thinking to ask if she supports the same Jewish right to self-determination that Sarsour is seeking for the Palestinians.

I spent a few days thinking about why this little tempest matters, and you know what I concluded? It doesn’t.

“Basically, this is a conversation about theory,” Anat Hoffman, perhaps Israel’s most famous feminist, said when I reached her by phone. “The practical, immediate repercussions of this are zero.”

Talking is not especially useful to Hoffman, who is one of Israel’s leading activists. She is a founding member of the Women of the Wall movement, which seeks prayer equality for women at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, a legal advocacy arm pursuing gender equality, social justice and religious pluralism. Hoffman spends most of her time bringing lawsuits against the State of Israel, demonstrating that arguments about the definition of political movements are far less consequential than policy change.

If people like Sarsour count no Jewish Zionists among their friends or colleagues, it is virtually guaranteed they will never modify their views.

For women who work in the trenches of Israel’s justice movement, the tension between Zionism and feminism is nothing new. The Orthodox establishment within Israel’s government has precluded women from realizing their full rights since the country’s founding.

“What about the 50,000 women who cannot get divorced because there is no civil marriage or civil divorce in Israel? What about the gaps in salaries? What about domestic violence?” Hoffman said. “To the Jewish woman who says that for the first time she feels a tug between her Zionism and her feminism, I say: ‘Good morning, sister!’ ”

How one Muslim-American woman defines feminism, or Zionism, is irrelevant. Any thoughtful person can define his or her personal politics and has the right to set their own political priorities. What matters is that we stop instantly vilifying anyone and everyone with whom we don’t agree — whether within our own communities or outside of them.

“Zionism needs a good kick in the ass,” Hoffman said, “as long as there’s one condition: that you love Israel, that you are committed to the existence of Israel, and to the right of the Jewish people to have a sovereign state and self-determination. Then you can criticize Israel as much as you want.”

But what about people like Sarsour, who might not love Israel? Should we, as a community, even bother talking to her? Where do we draw the line?

“If you believe terrorizing innocent civilians is the way to achieve liberation, then that crosses my line,” Hoffman said. “Someone who believes the only way to go is to explode buses in Israel — he is my enemy.”

A shared premise of nonviolence is a reasonable rule of engagement. Better to engage — even our foes — than walk away from the table altogether, right? At least if we’re talking, there is hope our views will prevail over time, or that we’ll reach a compromise. After all, if people like Sarsour count no Jewish Zionists among their friends or colleagues, it is virtually guaranteed they will never modify their views.

Sarsour says she is committed to non-violence, but other aspects of her record are troubling. She fights on behalf of the oppressed but seems to have little regard for Jewish history. Nowhere is there a record of her support for the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and she has tweeted that Zionism is “creepy” and akin to racism. Is it worth talking to her if she doesn’t support Israel’s right to exist? If she’s really an anti-Zionist activist disguised in social justice clothing?

“I believe in Sarsour’s right to self-determination and an independent state of her own,” Hoffman said. “And I would like you to find out if she believes in my right to [the same]. Because I have no other choice: Hebrew is my language and Jerusalem is my home. I have nowhere else to go.”

That’s a Zionist feminist talking.

Author JK Rowling helps boost Muslim campaign to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery

J.K. Rowling attends the 70th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) at Royal Albert Hall in London, Feb. 12, 2017. Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images.

Donations tripled to a Muslim-supported crowdfunding campaign to repair a vandalized St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery after British author J.K. Rowling offered her support in a tweet.

Rowling, the author of the popular “Harry Potter” series of books, on Wednesday morning in Britain tweeted a link to an article about the campaign and posted “This is such a beautiful thing.”

The tweet has received more than 10,000 retweets and more than 30,000 likes.

As of Wednesday morning in the United States, the campaign by Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi has raised $66,000, far exceeding its $20,000 goal when it was established on Tuesday afternoon.

Between 170 and 200 headstones were discovered on Monday morning to have been toppled by vandals at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis. The attack on the cemetery took place sometime between Friday night and Monday morning.

The organizers of the crowdfunding campaign said any remaining funds after the cemetery is restored will go to fixes for other vandalized Jewish centers.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” the activists wrote. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

Jewish governor of Missouri, Muslim activists pitching in to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery

Eric Greitens speaking at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York, May 7, 2012. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images.

The Jewish governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, said he will volunteer to help repair a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery where at least 170 gravestones were toppled over the weekend.

Meanwhile, two Muslim activists have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 for repairs. The launchgood drive started by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi had brought more than $45,000 as of Tuesday evening.

They said any remaining funds after the cemetery is restored will go to fixes for other vandalized Jewish centers.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” the activists wrote. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event”

Greitens in a news release Tuesday cited the concept of “tikkun olam,” or repair of the world, and asked helpers to bring rakes, garbage bags, wash rags and more cleaning supplies.

“My team and I will be there tomorrow, and I’d invite you to join us,” he said.

The governor had previously condemned the vandalism on the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City and called on people to “fight acts of intolerance and hate.”

“Disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration at the cemetery in University City. We must fight acts of intolerance and hate,” Greitens wrote in a tweet Monday evening after the vandalism was discovered.

The attack on the cemetery took place sometime between Friday night and Monday morning, when the damage was discovered.

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery Executive Director Anita Feigenbaum told The New York Times that between 170 and 200 headstones were toppled, with some being broken and damaged.

The headstones are in the cemetery’s oldest section, dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, she told the Times.

“I just am quite shocked — it affects so many people, so many families, so many generations,” Feigenbaum told the newspaper. “This cemetery was opened in 1893.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Lt. Fredrick Lemons of the University City Police Department declined to classify the vandalism as a hate crime.

“Right now, everything is under investigation,” Lemons said. “We’re looking into all possible leads.” The police are reviewing cemetery surveillance cameras, according to the report.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose military awards include the Bronze Star, was elected the first Jewish governor of Missouri in November.

In a post on Facebook he called the vandalism a “despicable act of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism.”

“We do not yet know who is responsible, but we do know this: this vandalism was a cowardly act. And we also know that, together, we can meet cowardice with courage,” he wrote. “Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination. From their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith.”

Immediately following the announcement of the vandalism, the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, which owns the cemetery, posted a message on Facebook informing families with relatives buried there that it is  “assessing the locations and damage and will post names that are affected as soon as we are able. Many monuments are facing down and we won’t be able to read the names and see if there is any damage until we lift the stones.”

In an update Tuesday afternoon, the society said a local monument company had begun to replace the monuments on their bases. It said it would try to have a comprehensive list of the toppled monuments posted by Wednesday.

A local church, the All Nations Church, launched an appeal to help repair the damage caused by the vandals. The church said on its website that it would match up to $500 in donations to the cemetery.

“Destruction of Jewish headstones is a painful act of anti-Semitism,” said Nancy Lisker, director of the American Jewish Congress in  St. Louis. “We feel the pain of the families whose grave sites of loved ones were desecrated and look to the authorities to apprehend and bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act.”

Linda Sarsour and American Jewish politics

Activist Linda Sarsour addresses the crowd during a protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, in New York City, U.S. Jan. 29. Stephanie Keith/REUTERS

Those seeking to build coalitions must make a difficult decision early on: What compromises are we willing to make on other core commitments in order to effectively organize with those who share this core commitment?

The philosopher Avishai Margalit stipulates that the first way to think about this question is to determine whether we are speaking in terms of “religious compromise” or “economic compromise.” Religious compromise offers very little margin of error; in his memorable phrasing, compromising over the holy risks compromising the holy. Economic compromise is far cruder and simpler, and operates through a simpler cost-benefit analysis. Rotten compromise, the kind we must not do, entails making common cause with evil. Most coalition builders, in trying to assess with whom they can ally, struggle to determine whether they are in the religious or the economic model, and can be paralyzed with indecision in the fear that their choices ultimately produce something rotten.

This is the framework with which I have been thinking about the “Linda Sarsour moment” in American Jewish politics, wherein a major social justice and interfaith activist who was a central organizer of the women’s marches around the country — and who has a track record of outspoken criticism against Israel and Zionism — invites controversy, and hopefully more thoughtful deliberation, on the choices we make about our alliances in the pursuit of our political causes. This issue is presenting itself now, as well, in the form of anti-Trump protests organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with a long history of vexed relationship with the Jewish community as it relates to divergent politics on Israel. CAIR was out in force at last weekend’s airport protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration orders.  How does our community, committed to Israel as well as a host of other social justice commitments, navigate collaboration with other faith and political leaders who not only oppose one critical piece of our community’s agenda but often even militate against it?

In response to this challenge, the instinct by many communities is to create “litmus tests” — tools of assessing loyalty and commonality that establish the legitimacy of partnership. In this arena, I see two equally problematic tendencies that represent opposite extremes but that yield similar solutions.

On the left, the litmus test in vogue — and one that sometimes leads progressive activists to exclude Zionists from their camp — relies on a pure application of the academic theory of intersectionality. In arguing for the deep, structural, interdependent relationship among forms of oppression, this form of ideological purity makes acceptance of a total program or platform into a litmus test.

It may make for an incredibly powerful political community; only those who subscribe to the full network of commitments — ostensibly with equal passion for all forms of interrelated injustice — can participate as members. Yet its rigidity also is likely to yield an incredibly small group.

The opposite approach, still bewilderingly au courant in some Jewish communal circles, is the “single-issue” litmus test approach, which evaluates ideas and people on the basis of a single issue — almost always Israel politics. This is a different form of ideological purity. But rather than insisting on purity through linkages, the litmus test insists on a singular cause as the evaluative instrument of legitimacy. This is single-issue politics of disqualification, which works very well for the border police who enforce it, and is baffling and exasperating for most others who live inside or outside the enforced parameters.

If the pure intersectional approach is flawed for seeking perfect or consistent structures as the organizing principle in which to hold a wide group of imperfect and inconsistent moral actors, the single-issue approach is flawed for the perversity that it periodically engenders. As many have noted, the anger in the Jewish community about a line in the platform of the Movement for Black Lives created the risk of moral tragedy. As a friend wrote to me recently: “I can’t support black kids not being gunned down, because some of the movement leaders don’t meet my Israel ideology purity test? That’s the hill we want to die on?”

Neither of these approaches then really works. Rather, they are better at restricting, constricting, and ultimately diminishing effective political community than constituting strategies for effective organizing and growth across diversity. Most political movements actually require broader coalitions than litmus tests allow, such that the foregoing “coherence and conviction” become the discourse of a shrinking and failing minority. I want to instead propose an alternative set of strategies and considerations to replace the litmus test, and to provide some conceptual tools that could be helpful to the efforts at building community, while maintaining loyalty to the moral fabrics and commitments that community-building means to advance.

First, I suggest that we work to articulate a hierarchy of our moral commitments that we can crudely divide among what we consider moral imperatives, moral concerns, and — further down the line — political preferences. Firmly entrenched ideologies of political communities — political parties, religious denominations, etc. — make it easy for their adherents to conflate these three, but they are really separate, and precision counts.

All of us carry around with us a short list of moral imperatives that reflect our central commitments. These are ordering principles in our political universe, and it would be difficult for us to inhabit communities — or to make personal life decisions — that did not follow their mandates. Separately, however, we carry around a longer list of moral concerns — the issues we care about (often deeply) but which do not rise to the level of ordering our families, communities, and life choices. Most of us can tolerate relatively easily living in community with people who do not value the same full list of moral concerns, but we struggle to do so when it comes to moral imperatives.

On the basis of this, my suggestion for building political community is that in lieu of comprehensive or single-issue litmus tests, we endeavor to follow a “two-thirds and 51 percent” rule, which would state as follows: We identify in political communities, or organize for particular causes, with people who share, or at least do not operate in contradistinction to, two-thirds of our core moral imperatives, and with whom we agree on a minimum of 51 percent of our moral concerns.

We need both of these categories — the imperatives and the concerns — precisely because we need a weighted standard which recognizes that some commitments are more significant than others, on one hand, and because a successful political community simply needs to capture a majority viewpoint to be politically successful, on the other. “Two-thirds and 51 percent” enables individuals to belong to communities in which they broadly agree with the consensus viewpoints and are not challenged more than they can be about their central moral commitments. It means a certain degree of manageable discomfort that is implicitly assuaged by the gains accrued by belonging.

Belonging in political community to people with whom we have significant differences — that one-third matters! — does not mean we assent on those issues. We can disagree and fight vigorously on those issues where we have deep disagreement, and I am not proposing that we paper over those differences. But the major added advantage here is that we find more effective common cause than is possible in the inherently constricting litmus test approach, which not only closes off a wider network of allies that we all desperately need, but which also creates a culture of suspicion even toward those with whom we are close. The litmus test approach is a negative structure toward cultivating loyalty; “two-thirds and 51 percent” tilts toward creating cultures of broad assent. Besides, the winning causes do precisely this. It is only the losers who debilitate their own side with infighting.

I recognize that there are those people, on the right and on the left, for whom their relationship to Israel is not just a moral imperative but an exclusive imperative; and for whom, therefore, common cause with an opponent issue entails transgressing an impassable line. I respect this position, especially in its self-awareness of its hierarchy of moral choices. But I also believe it is a tragic position to take in a political moment that requires of us commitments to more than one moral imperative; and also because I wonder whether our willingness to work with outspoken critics of Israel right now, when we agree on many other issues, may in fact enable us to manage those tensions with those critics more effectively in the long run. I think a David Ben-Gurion-like position is a perfectly tenable moral position that balances multiple moral imperatives: We fight for our moral values in American political life as though there was no disagreement with our allies on these issues on Israel, and we fight on Israel with critics of Israel as though there was no domestic agenda. The existence of multiple moral frameworks with which to view the world is not a sign of confusion; it is a sign of sophistication and strength. 

All the following can be true at the same time: that we need community, that our communities stand for core values, that political community can create change, and that each of us have particular, individual moral commitments that constrain our capacity to be in relationship with others who do not share them. But we might be able to build technologies and calculations, such as the ones that I am proposing, that respond to these challenges strategically, unlike the blunt instrument of the litmus test. For the urgent goals of our community and our broader society, I believe a new approach is overdue. 

Yehuda Kurtzer is the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America