November 18, 2018

Arnold Schwarzenegger donates $100,000 to Simon Wiesenthal Center

Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2017. Photo by Antony Jones/Getty Images.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has donated $100,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which combats anti-Semitism and bigotry, in the wake of the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The actor and former California governor announced the donation Sunday on Facebook, where he wrote that he was “horrified” by the previous day’s rally bringing together neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far-right activists. The rally featured racist and anti-Semitic slogans, and a car-ramming attack by a participant killed a counterprotester and injured at least 19 people. Two police officers monitoring the rally also died when their helicopter crashed.

“I have been horrified by the images of Nazis and white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and I was heartbroken that a domestic terrorist took an innocent life,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “My message to them is simple: you will not win. Our voices are louder and stronger. There is no white America — there is only the United States of America.”

Schwarzenegger, also a former bodybuilder, said he has worked with the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center for decades, and admires “the Center’s mission of expanding tolerance through education and fighting hate all over America — in the streets and online.”

North Korean nukes: Has President Trump reached his “Leit Breirah” moment?

People walk in front of a monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Previous U.S. Presidents have kicked the proverbial North Korea nuclear can down the road. Now it appears that President Trump may soon have to choose between continued “deterrence and containment” or some form of military action to stop Kim Jong Un from having an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ICBM’s targeting America’s heartland.

During the Cold War, MAD (mutually assured destruction) worked to straitjacket nuke-laden adversaries. But who’s to say if mad Kim Jong Un can be deterred? Every president from Bill Clinton on thought they could make a deal with the Kim dynasty and in the end got played. That hasn’t stopped Republicans and Democrats alike weighing in with advice and warnings to President Trump.

Perhaps a good place to for Trump to look for perspective is the 1981 decision by the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Against prevailing world opinion and Middle East expertise, he ordered the Israeli Air Force’s incredibly daring raid to take out Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. 

That damaged facility wasn’t totally destroyed until the U.S Air Force did it during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Ironic, since earlier the Reagan Administration joined the rest of the UN Security Council in condemning Israel and even delayed delivery of new F-16s. Yet what Israel did in 1981 was a game changer. You don’t have to be a general to understand how different the world would have been in 1990 if a nuclearized Saddam invaded Kuwait.

Still, a recent front-page New York Times article evaluating Trump’s options quotes experts who, incredibly, criticize Begin’s bold move for two reasons: Jerusalem violated a UN Security Council resolution and the Israeli PM could have delayed any action until there was a verifiable “imminent threat.”

The President of the United States, cognizant of his oath of office to defend and protect the American people cannot take cover behind “experts” or sanctimonious UN resolutions in face of a looming existential threat.

Setting up “imminent threat” as the standard or litmus test for taking action sounds reasonable—but not when you are confronted by perpetrators of unimaginable evil. Back in the 1930s, experts and elites in England lined up behind Neville Chamberlain as he pursued just such an approach with “Herr Hitler.” Some of the appeasers were fascists, some on the left. Rationale people, remembering WWI carnage, even had every reason to avoid another war. The problem was, instead of taking early and painful action against the Nazis, Chamberlain and Company allowed the cunning Hitler to constantly move the goal posts until it was too late. Chamberlain’s unwitting “delay of game” strategy would lead to 55 million dead in the catastrophic WWII.

Let’s be honest. For years, the U.S. allowed the Kims to move the goalposts, constantly re-defining what is an “imminent threat.”

It’s now left to the Trump team, which includes seasoned military leaders to draw a real red line on Pyongyang to ensure that Americans wake up tomorrow to embrace the future, not confront a nuclear holocaust.

President Trump may also want to read up on Israeli Prime Minister Gold Meir who had to consider launching a nuclear weapon strike when the Jewish state—the victim of sneak attack by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur, 1973, was in danger of being overrun in the early stages of that bitter war. Meir later admitted that her “heart was very much drawn” to a preemptive strike—like Israel’s in 1967 against Egypt’s Nasser— but was scared: “1973 is not 1967, and this time we will not be forgiven, and we will not receive [American] assistance when we have the need for it,” Golda later testified.

Thankfully, Israel was able to prevail sans nuclear weapons—but at a very high cost of dead and wounded. Golda Meir made mistakes in the lead-in to the Yom Kippur War. Unclear after all these years is exactly what those “mistakes” were. Was she right—or wrong—to refrain from a preemptive strike? One thing is clear that Israel has always been willing to deploy “a secret weapon”—in Golda’s words— Leit Breirah”: “we have no choice but to act” when our survival is at stake.

Today, President Trump does have choices about the NK nuke threat—none easy. Has he arrived at a Leit Breira moment that could trigger preemptive action? Or can he afford—and for how long—to give diplomacy one more a chance?

And will more words and more sanctions convince Kim to back down or prove to him that the US lacks the guts to act.

The answers to these questions will have grave consequences not only for Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Americans, but also for the Gulf States, Egypt, and Israel who are being menaced by an aggressive Iran emboldened by sweetheart nuclear deal with the P5+1 led by President Obama.

Think and say what you may about Donald Trump’s presidential style or choice of words. At this moment, we should all pray that he and his team take the right path…

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Reporting anti-Semitism: There’s an app for that

Campus hate has a new enemy that fits in the pocket of your pants. 

CombatHateU, a new smartphone app for Apple iOS and Android developed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is intended to allow Jewish college students to immediately report and confront anti-Semitism. 

The app aims to make the reporting process as simple as possible, Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center researcher Rick Eaton told the Journal via email.

“To use the app to report you only need click the center shield from the home screen and it will give you the report form,” Eaton said. “We ask each user to give us a one-time profile with their name and email address and school, if they chose. All reports to us are confidential, but we need to be able to reach someone reporting in case we need to clarify information.”

CombatHateU also includes a news feature that aggregates reports of anti-Semitic incidents all over the world. 

The app is available for download through the iTunes store for Apple users and through Google Play for Android devices.

The Wiesenthal Center describes the app as the third in a series of special anti-hate apps. A previously released app, CombatHate, is available for junior high and high school students.

The Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) became involved with the promotion of the app following an anti-Israel incident at Ohio University last month. 

“Anti-Semitic rhetoric on campuses has to stop. [We are] thrilled to be partners with the [Wiesenthal Center],” AEPi executive director Andy Borans said in a press release. “Now … [AEPi] members have a place to report anti-Semitic hate speech, which has no place on campus.” 

The app’s release, announced during an Oct. 7 launch party in New York, came on the heels of a major anti-Semitic incident at Emory University in Atlanta, where swastikas were spray-painted on the AEPi fraternity house hours after the end of Yom Kippur. 

An L.A.-based launch party for the new app is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

The Wiesenthal Center is a Los Angeles-based human rights organization. It oversees the Museum of Tolerance as part of its mission of confronting anti-Semitism, standing with Israel and educating about the Holocaust. 

2011 top ten anti-Israel/anti-Semitic slurs

For the last two years, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights NGO, has compiled a list of the top ten anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs. The list continues to reflect the growing global anti-Semitism and de-legitimization of Israel coming from mainstream voices. It does not include statements by terrorist organizations, the lunatic fringe, or the government of Iran.

These citings should serve as a wake-up call to those who believe that such rants are the exclusive domain of Neo-Nazis and crackpots.

1. “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the birthplace of Jesus Christ peace be upon him, to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people…”

– Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his UN General Assembly address, September 23, 2011. Speaking to the world, Abbas omitted any reference to the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy Land. No reference to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor King David, King Solomon, or Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. READ SOURCE…

2. “I would like to see accurate statistics of how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or with the rockets that were launched by them?…. we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed… neitherTurkey nor the Muslims in the region have exerted such cruelty on Israel… Israel is inexplicably cruel, against innocent Palestinians, hiding behind the Nazi Holocaust and seeking victimhood…. Everybody knows what Israel is about.”

– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during CNN Interview with Fareed Zakaria, September 25, 2011. READ SOURCE…

3. “Everything that happens today in the world has to do with the Zionists… American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”

Zorba The Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, winner of the International Music Council-UNESCO International Music Prize, also told Greek TV that he was “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic,” February 15, 2011. READ SOURCE…

4. “I love Hitler…People like you would be dead.Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be f****** gassed,”

– The renowned Christian Dior fashion designer John Galliano was fired and later convicted in a French court for his anti-Semitic rants screamed at Jews in a Paris bar. Galliano later apologized. READ SOURCE…

5. “I understand Hitler… He’s not what you would call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I’m not for the Second World War, and I’m not against Jews… I am of course, very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass… I’m very much for Speer. Albert Speer [Hitler’s Architect]… He was also maybe one of God’s best children… Okay, I’m a Nazi.”

– Director Lars Von Trier was thrown out of the Cannes Film Festival after this rant, May 18, 2011. He later apologized. READ SOURCE…

6. “[Jews] want that sucker of Syrian blood to remain and continue to prey and suck blood.They not only want their security, but also to enjoy the sight of Syrian blood being spilled…. Asking myself why Jewish support of Bashar [Assad] increased after they saw the rivers of Syrian blood this mass-murderer spilled in Syrian towns, an old image leapt to my mind, of Jews bleeding people and using their blood to prepare matzas. Logic does not accept this, but the facts prove it.”

– Syrian writer Osama Al-Malouhi, an opponent of President Bashar Assad, posted on an opposition website, October 26, 2011, The Middle East Media Research Institute. READ SOURCE…

7. “Not all the Jews in the world are evil….The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40 percent are not evil.”

– Tawfiq Okasha, a presidential candidate in post-Mubarak Egypt added that among the 40% of ‘non-evil’ Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless and that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “one of those Jews who adhere to the Zionist ideology…one of the worst ideologies,” Al-Faraeen TV, October 31, 2011. READ SOURCE…

#6 and #7 originally reported in “Praise Arab Spring, Except for Anti-Semitism” by Jeffrey Goldberg. Bloomberg, November 28, 2011

8. “The source that finances and incites all these international organizations… especially in the Arab world… are led by a single, evil organization, known as Zionism. It is behind all these movements, all these civil wars, and all these evils… Jesus Christ healed the sick among the Jews… and resurrected their dead. [How did they repay him?] “They strived to crucify him until he died…”

“Do the people of the opposition [today]… belong to Christianity or to Islam? No. They are deeply rooted in Judaism and in Zionism… Any intelligent person who reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion will see the extent of its influence on the politics of our region and the world.”

– George Saliba, Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, Al-Dunya TV, July 24, 2011. The Middle East Media Research Institute. READ SOURCE…

9. “Oppose the moral blackmail of the so-called Holocaust! [“Arbeit macht Frei!”]Truth makes free!”

– Hermann Dierkes, leader of the Left Party in Duisburg, Germany, April 2011. Dierkes posted a flyer on the website with a swatiska morphing into a Star of David and called for a boycott of Israeli products, labelling Israel a “rogue state” and a “warmonger.” “Arbeit macht Frei!” is inscribed on the gates of Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Dachau. READ SOURCE…

10. “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal place… to equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor Flav.”

– Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a speech to thousands of people, June 14, 2011, Baltimore, Maryland. READ SOURCE…

A Reminder: Slavery Still Exists

Hundreds of people turned out for the Simon Weisenthal Center Museum of Tolerance’s one-day symposium, “A Call to Freedom.” The conference, held last month, highlighted the plight of black slaves in Sudan and Mauritania, where today, “tens of thousands of blacks are sold into slavery, raised like slaves and have the deadened expressions of men and women who know no other life but the life of a slave,” said Sam Cotton, author of “Silent Terror,” a book describing his secret trip to Mauritania where he interviewed slaves.

“In Mauritania, the slavery situation is rooted in race,” Cotton said. “The Berber, light-skinned Muslims of the North are enslaving the dark-skinned Muslims of the south. In Sudan, the situation is not of the color of skin as much as it is of religion,” Cotton said.

Cotton’s “calling to action” came from an unexpected informer: Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group was one of the first Americans to bring word of modern-day slavery in Africa to the media. Jacobs, then a full-time management consultant, learned about the state of slavery in Africa by chance. “I was at a seminar, and the man sitting next to me started talking about slavery in Africa. I couldn’t believe it was still going on today, and my research led to me creating the group,” Jacobs said.

Following Cotton’s trip to Mauritania, both men presented the information documented by Cotton, in testimony before Congress.

“For six years, we have been banging on America’s door with this story. People are just beginning to respond,”Jacobs said.

California state Sen. Tom Hayden joined the voice of the abolitionist movement, as did U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. In addition, Pat Robertson and New York state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver vowed to commit their efforts to raising awareness in the U.S.

One resounding, if unexpected, response was from Barbara Vogel and her fifth graders in Aurora, Colo. Presently, the students are the most active abolitionists in the world, raising some $70,000 to buy slaves their freedom. A recent CBS News report on the students’ action was shown at the symposium. “We are not politically inspired,” Vogel said. “We are abolitionists.”

“Although the activity of buying back slaves for freedom is highly controversial, and most certainly not a cure, it is one way individuals have been able to respond without government support,” Jacobs said.

At a time when Muslim groups are accusing Jacobs of being involved in a “Jewish plot against the Muslims” and “an FBI trick,” little has been done in the U.S. or United Nations — aside from fact-finding — to challenge the Mauritanian government’s actions against slavery. “Even though slavery has been outlawed in Mauritania three times by the government, the government understands that culturally, slavery is really due to the drive by Islamic concepts and tradition,” Cotton told the symposium audience. “The status of slavery is real, regardless of what the government says.”

Most dramatic of all was personal testimony given by former slave Moctar Teyeb. “Slavery is systematic in Mauritania. My family has been enslaved for generations. I was told that this was how God created me,” he said, while displaying his deformed arm that never healed properly from a beating when he was 9. “Without the experience of freedom, how could I question it? Slavery is a total damage to your existence. I was driven by a dream of a better life. I once spoke of this desire in the open and was humiliated by my master. At age 19, when sent to the city to meet someone for my master, I escaped. It was when I crossed the Senegal River that I knew I was free.”

In light of the upcoming Passover holiday, when Jews recount the tale of their passage through the Red Sea to freedom, Jacobs encouraged Jews not to forget the tradition of extending their attention to those around the world who are not yet free.

“We are a country of abolitionists,” Jacobs said. “America tore itself apart over the issue of slavery. Let us today heed our abolitionist calling.”

Jacobs suggested that people leave an empty chair at their seder tables for the one without freedom in Africa, place a fourth matzo with the traditional three and read this prayer while holding the fourth matzo:

“We raise this fourth matzo to remind ourselves that slavery still exists, that people are still being bought and sold as property, that the Divine image within them is yet being denied. We make room at our seder table and in our hearts for those in the south of Sudan and in Mauritania who are now where we have been. We have known such treatment in our own history. We have suffered while others stood by and pretended not to see, not to know. We have eaten the bitter herb; we have been taken from our families and brutalized. We have experienced the horror of being forcibly converted. In the end, we have come to know in our very being that none can be free until all are free. And so, we commit and recommit ourselves to work for the freedom of these poor people. May the test of this bread of affliction remain in our mouths until they can eat in peace and security. Knowing that all people are Yours, O God, we will urge our government and all governments to do as You once commanded Pharaoh on our behalf: Shalach et Ami! Let My People Go! May we and they take these words to heart. Amen.”