March 25, 2019

Facebook, Twitter Purge ‘Hundreds’ of Iranian Bots

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Facebook and Twitter reportedly purged hundreds of fake accounts linked to the Iranian regime from their respective platforms.

Nathan Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, announced in a January 31 statement that the social media giant has “removed 783 Pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran” from Facebook and Instagram in myriad countries.

“The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events,” Gleicher said. “This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Some of the activity dates back to 2010.”

Gleicher added that Iran spent less than $30,000 on advertising on Facebook and Instagram and hosted eight event pages on Facebook, although it is not clear if those events were actually hosted. Around 2 million people followed Iran’s pages, according to Gleicher.

Additionally, the UK Guardian reports that Twitter purged thousands of fake accounts that were “potentially” connected to Iran, Russia and Venezuela that were aiming to influence the 2018 midterm elections.

Vocativ, a United States tech firm, concluded that the Iranian bots on Facebook were attempting to manipulate Israeli voters in the upcoming elections in April.

“The discourse the bots are trying to create tries to magnify the fractures in Israeli society and weaken unity,” Mati Kochavi, the founder of Vocative, told the Times of Israel. “It looks like they know that our strength lies in our unity.”

The Likud Party is saying that the Iranian bots were aiming “to topple Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, who blocked its nuclear program, thwarted its efforts at military entrenchment in Syria, pulverized its economy and sent the Mossad to steal from under its nose the secret nuclear archives.”

In October, Facebook announced that it removed 82 accounts, groups and pages that were connected to Iran that had attempted to influence the 2018 midterm elections.

JVP Posts, Deletes Tweets Defending Palestinians’ ‘Right to Resist Military Occupation’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) tweeted out a defense of Palestinians’ “right to resist military occupation” and then proceeded to delete those tweets.

On Wednesday morning, JVP shared a piece of art from 1978 that showed a Jewish woman shaking hands with an armed Palestinian woman with text that read, “Being Jewish is not the same as being a Zionist!”

Several people pointed out that the fact there is an armed Palestinian woman in the picture, which does not promote peace, prompting JVP to respond numerous times that they support “the right to resist military occupation”:

The aforementioned tweets from JVP were later deleted without an explanation given on their Twitter page. JVP did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment as of publication time.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs, told the Journal in a statement via email, “Most Jews believe in Zionism and a better future for all people in the region – there is no contradiction.”

“JVP’s manipulative propaganda aside, one can support the rights of both Jews and Palestinians at the same time,” Rothstein said. “Furthermore, this is yet another example how JVP is not a voice for peace or the well-being of Jews. It is particularly outrageous that they would share an image supporting the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] in 1978 – the same year as the Coastal Road Massacre. 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were murdered in that attack by the terrorists JVP is glorifying.”

Similarly, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Journal in an emailed statement, “Of the 14 million Jews in the world, the majority of them are Zionists.”

“In 1938, no country in the world, including Western democracies, were willing to save Europe’s Jews,” Hier said. “The State of Israel and Zionism are the only guarantee that that will never, ever happen again.”

For more on JVP’s anti-Zionism, read the Anti-Defamation League’s profile on them here.

Facebook Takes Down Farrakhan Video Comparing Jews to ‘Termites’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Facebook has taken down Louis Farrakhan’s video in which he compares Jew to “termites,” The Wrap reports.

The video, which was posted to Facebook with the caption, “To members of the Jewish Community that don’t like me. Thank you very much for putting my name all over the planet. Because of your fear of what we represent, I can go anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Farrakhan. Thank you very much.”

The clip is of a recent Farrakhan speech, where he states that he isn’t anti-Semitic because he’s “anti-termite.”

Facebook told The Wrap that the video “violates our hate speech policies,” amounting to “Tier 1 hate speech” that falls under the category of “dehumanizing” language.

Farrakhan’s video is still up on Twitter, as Twitter has stated that it doesn’t violate their policies since they haven’t established policies on dehumanizing rhetoric. The Anti-Defamation League has called on Twitter to take down the video.

Some Twitter accounts have accused Twitter of bias since they haven’t down the Farrakhan video yet they have suspended a couple of popular right-wing accounts without providing much of an explanation for doing so.

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

ADL: Twitter Should Take Down Farrakhan Tweet Comparing Jews to ‘Termites’

Screenshot from YouTube.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is calling on Twitter to take down a tweet from Louis Farrakhan that compares Jews to “termites.”

In an Oct. 16 tweet, Farrakhan wrote, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” The tweet featured a video of Farrakhan speaking in front of a crowd on Oct. 14 marking the 23rd anniversary of his Million Man March.

“To the members of the Jewish community that don’t like me, thank you very much for putting my name all over the planet because of your fear of what we represent,” Farrakhan said in the speech. “I can go anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Farrakhan.”

Farrakhan added, “I’m not mad at you, because you’re so stupid.”

The minister proceeded to allude to criticisms calling him an anti-Semite.

“Stop it,” Farrakhan said, “I’m anti-termite. I don’t know nothing about hating somebody just because of their religious preference.”

In a statement emailed to the Journal, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that Twitter should take down “Farrakhan’s hateful content.”

“Louis Farrakhan has a long history of vile, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. His latest remarks dehumanizing Jews by calling us termites are despicable,” Greenblatt said. “We call on Twitter to remove Farrakhan’s hateful content from the platform to prevent him from spreading and normalizing such hateful messages. This content is exactly the kind of thing the new Twitter policy the company outlined just a few weeks ago is meant to stop.”

Buzzfeed reporter Joe Bernstein tweeted that Twitter told him that Farrakhan’s tweet didn’t violate their policies:

Twitter could not be immediately reached for comment.

Several congressional Democrats, such as Reps. Keith Ellison (R-Minn.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), have reportedly been seen with or dined with Farrakhan. Women’s March leaders have also attended Farrakhan’s speeches and been involved with his Nation of Islam organization. A photo was recently taken of Farrakhan with former Attorney General Eric Holder at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.

This article has been updated.

ADL Finds Over 4 Million Anti-Semitic Tweets Posted In A Year

Photo from PxHere.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report on May 7 concluding that 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets were issued from January 2017-Janury 2018.

By searching key anti-Semitic buzzwords, the ADL was able to find that anti-Semitism on Twitter was broken down into the following categories:

• Harvey Weinstein
• Conspiracy theories involving the Rothschild family, false flags and George Soros
• Holocaust denialism
• Using “Zionism” as a bludgeon to attack Jews

Various anti-Semitic tweets attributed Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults to his Jewishness, as well as other figures like former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) who have been accused of sexual harassment.

When it comes to conspiracy theories, a number of anti-Semitic tweets that blame Jews for concocting false flag operations, such as the Las Vegas shooting and the attempted bombing of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The Rothschild banking family has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, most notably that they control the weather; on Twitter they are routinely accused of financing chaos in the world in order to gain wealth, a common anti-Semitic trope.

Soros faces a lot of criticism for his funding of various left-wing causes; such criticisms “sometimes take on an anti-Semitic cast, especially when they associate Soros’ actions with his Jewish identity.”

As for Zionism, the difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism can be distinguished by when the term “Zionism” is used as a substitute for the word “Jews.” For instance, one tweet highlighted in the report accused “Zionist parasites” of hijacking the federal government and the media. Another claimed Zionists are “committing genocide in Palestine” and another accused the media of being “Zionist Nazi.”

When looking at the numbers in aggregate, the ADL wasn’t able to determine a particular pattern for inflection points in the number of anti-Semitic tweets, other than the week that President Trump announced the Jerusalem move.

The report recommends that Twitter should combat such anti-Semitic tweets by providing “more access to the platform’s data,” properly enforce its terms of service and allow users to better filter out such vile tweets.

“This new data shows that even with the steps Twitter has taken to remove hate speech and to deal with those accounts disseminating it, users are still spreading a shocking amount of antisemitism and using Twitter as a megaphone to harass and intimidate Jews,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said during the organization’s recent conference. “We hope this report will create a renewed sense of urgency among all social media providers that this problem is not going away and that they need to find innovative new ways to tamp down the spread of hatred online.”

The full report can be read here.

Organization Fighting Anti-Semitism Locked Out of Twitter for Exposing an Anti-Semitic Tweet

Photo from Flickr/Esther Vargas.

UPDATE: Canary Mission now has access to their account again. The organization told the Journal that Twitter sent them a message saying they “made an error” in locking them out.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Canary Mission, the organization that exposes various anti-Semitic and anti-Israel individuals and organizations, is claiming that Twitter has locked them out of their account yet again for exposing an anti-Semitic tweet issued by an alumnus of Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington).

According to a press release from Canary Mission, Twitter informed them on March 3 that Canary Mission would be prevented from accessing their account for tweeting on May 2017 that Ahmed Ellahi “modified Adele’s lyrics to say ‘Set Fire to the Jews.’”

Screenshot courtesy of Canary Mission.

Here is Ellahi’s now-deleted tweet:

Screenshot courtesy of Canary Mission.

Canary Mission told the Journal in an email that Twitter never explained to them why their tweet violated the site’s policies.

“How is it possible that exposure of gross anti-Semitism can break a Twitter rule?” the organization stated in the press release. “What rule could Twitter possibly have against fighting bigotry? Given that the original deeply offensive tweet stood for 5 years, it is even harder to understand.”

A Twitter spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that Canary Mission’s account was suspended as a result of an “error and has since been restored.” As of this writing, Canary Mission is claiming that they are still locked out.

The March 3 lockout is the latest issue that Canary Mission has had with Twitter, as the organization initially had their account suspended on February 24. Canary Mission appealed the suspension, only to be told by Twitter that their account was in violation of “Twitter Rules against hateful conduct” and would remain suspended until further notice. Twitter eventually reversed their suspension after an immense backlash occurred.

Canary Mission was never told why their account was initially suspended, although they suspect it was due to their tweet exposing Ellahi.

“If so, the case has just become even more disturbing…perhaps bizarre,” Canary Mission said in the press release.

Canary Mission told the Journal that their account was previously suspended in May 2016 but was eventually reinstated thanks to Roseanne Barr leading “a successful campaign on Twitter” in support of the organization.

“Following that, we have had no issues with Twitter until this latest suspension in late February,” Canary Mission said.

Canary Mission is attempting to get around Twitter’s restrictions for by establishing two new accounts: Canary Mission Professors and Canary Mission Canada. So far, Twitter hasn’t targeted either of those two accounts, but Canary Mission noted that the accounts are “very new.”

Canary Mission doesn’t seem to be the only account fighting anti-Semitism to have issues with Twitter, as the organization highlighted how the GnasherJew Twitter account, which exposes anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour Party, was locked out at because Twitter deemed their yellow Star of David avatar with the word “Jew” on it to be “hateful.”

“We use the yellow star of David as our avatar, as a symbol of our resistance to the oppression and harassment of Jews within the Labour Party,” GnasherJew said in a statement to the Jerusalem Post. “We have been constantly targeted by Labour Party supporters and members… We have been physically threatened, yet Twitter does nothing about these accounts, and our tiny symbol of resistance is taken as ‘hateful.’”

Canary Mission said in their press release that it was important for them to stand up to Twitter instead of simply deleting their tweet.

“Twitter seems to have a ‘Jewish’ problem and it needs to deal with it,” the organization stated. “It suspended, then locked a respected anti-Semitism watchdog, but at the same time it continues to allow white supremacist David Duke to tweet freely, terrorist organization Hamas to push violent propaganda and radical preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi to promote videos that call for the killing of Jews. When Hatem Bazian, founder of campus hate group SJP, retweeted an outrageous anti-Semitic meme, his account remained open, and his brand of anti-Semitism was given a voice online.”

As of this writing, Twitter has not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

Twitter recently announced that they would be cracking down on various Twitter accounts in order to promote public discourse. Daily Wire editor-in-chief and Journal columnist Ben Shapiro lambasted the announcement as “Orweillian doublespeak.”

“The terms of service at Twitter have already been used in disparate ways based on the political opinions being voiced,” wrote Shapiro. “Disgusting racism emanating from the alt-right has been targeted by Twitter; racism coming from the radical Left has been largely ignored. Nasty users on the alt-right have had their verification stripped, as though user fraud is fine so long as Twitter doesn’t like you. Just as with Facebook and Google, supposedly unbiased algorithms have turned out to be biased in practice.”

Lawfare Project Mulling Spain Lawsuit Against Yahoo, Google and Twitter

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Lawfare Project has announced that they are considering filing a lawsuit against Google, Yahoo! and Twitter in Spain in an effort to pressure them into taking down anti-Semitic content from their websites.

According to a press release sent to the Journal, The Lawfare Project has already filed cease and desist letters to Google and Yahoo warning them that they will face legal action if they do not “take down anti-Semitic and defamatory content,” which includes “the proliferation of Holocaust denial websites.”

“Google, Yahoo, and Twitter are all hosting anti-Semitic websites and content on their platforms, which is a clear violation of Spanish law,” Lawfare Project Spanish counsel Ignacio Wenley Palacios said in the press release. “This cannot be allowed to continue. If they do not respond positively to the cease and desist letters sent last week, we will file lawsuits against them.”

Iglesias told the Journal in an email that Google, Twitter and Yahoo have deleted comments deemed racist when pressured to do so “but the application of their policies is very erratic.”

“Politically incorrect comments may be squashed without consideration while complaints about blatant racism and anti-Semitism are ignored,” Iglesias wrote. “How difficult is it to assess whether this tweet is racist or not: ‘The difference between a pizza and a Jew, is that the pizza does not scratch the walls inside the oven’”?

However, Iglesias is “very confident” that their lawsuit would hold up in court if they decide to launch it.

“Our actions are very nuanced, and meet the highest of European standards on free speech, and on liability of Internet providers, matching closely the reasoning of the case-law of both the Supreme Court of Spain, and the European Court of Human Rights,” Iglesias wrote.

There have been multiple efforts of late to crack down on anti-Semitic content online, including Israel developing a system that alerts Internet companies of such content on their sites and the need for them to be taken down. There is also an app that alerts users to online anti-Israel content.

Twitter and the Responsibility of More

Photo from Max Pixel.

If you post on Twitter or follow someone who uses that social media platform — whether a reality star like a Kardashian or a reality star like President Donald Trump — you probably know that the character limit on tweets recently doubled from 140 to 280.

As with any change in technology, while many celebrated the increase, others grumbled. The mixed multitudes of kvetchers maintained that Twitter’s essential characteristic was brevity. The original character cap, they said, forced economical thinking, an increasing rarity in a space overpopulated by verbosity, and expanding that message space meant amplifying the worst parts of the internet — the users who spew hatred and negativity instead of love and enlightenment.

But more is better, right? More voices in an empowered, democratic America. More power, more success, more money, because that’s the American dream. More internet bandwidth. More unique impressions on your website. More entertainment options on your smart TV. “More” drives our capitalist society, each buzz of achievement a momentary high, stoking our pursuit of a sustained one.

Having more words is good, if we wield them wisely.

“More” is also the reason our immigrant ancestors moved here, dreaming of a nation golden in its guiding promise: more opportunity and more freedom for those with little or none of either. Many of us have lost touch with that existential type of “more,” when it applied mostly to freedom. This receding of memory is a blessing of sorts. Without the daily presence of immediate threats, we are not motivated by the same fears and worries. We are free to acquire and expand, to be who we want to be. We are already at the “more” our ancestors dreamed of.

Even God promises more: that we will be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, that our descendants will be as numerous as the sands of the earth and the stars of the sky. “More” is our literal, biblical birthright as children of Israel. But the daily truth is that while prophecies may promise abundance, fertility and the chance to make a real impact, reality may not deliver. For many, the present has not delivered on what was promised and, in many cases, deserved. Life is not a meritocracy: When it comes to love or family or legacy, our “more” may never come. And when deprived of this “more,” so many of us can feel like less.

Except in speech. We know that two Jews have three opinions, or in an age of internet expression, maybe even more. We always have more to say. We have not just the Bible verses but multiple commentaries that dissect the verses’ word choice, phrasing and narrative. Not just those commentaries, but the oral Torah. Not just the Mishnah but the Gemara and accompanying commentaries. We hunger for more opinions, more meaning, more interpretations to learn from and stand in opposition to. Having more words is good, if we wield them wisely.

Twitter gave everyone 280 characters, not just celebrities, thinkers or raconteurs — or just Jews (although that would have been interesting). This expanded space is politically, religiously and socially agnostic. It’s equal for all, regardless of race, class, gender, merit, wisdom or power. Anyone can connect to anyone — to lift them up with hope and love, or to assault them with invective and hate. Evil can assert itself as easily in 140 characters as it can in 280. Messages through any medium are made in the image of their author.

Living in abundance should mean increased gratitude for the wealth you possess, humility about how you achieved it, acquired wisdom about how to use your assets and generosity of spirit toward those who have less. In this winter holiday retail season, our desire to acquire may assert itself. But we should pause before we purchase or post, and use our budgets of dollars and words responsibly to bring light, joy and peace to those around us.

Shakespeare, who drew on a tremendous well of potential words to find the ones that fit just so — in iambic pentameter, no less — wrote that “brevity is the soul of wit.” Just because we have 280 characters to wield doesn’t mean we always have to use them all.


Esther D. Kustanowitz, a 10-year veteran of Twitter, is a contributing writer at the Jewish Journal and an editor at GrokNation.com.

Trump Spars with Dem Senators on Twitter

President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, at the White House in Washington D.C., U.S. December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump’s tweeting is in the news yet again, this time involving a Twitter feud between the president and a couple of female Democratic senators.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) drew the ire of Trump after she called for an investigation into the sexual harassment claims against the president. Trump retaliated by tweeting that Gillibrand is a “lightweight” who “would do anything for” campaign contributions:

The Left pounced on Trump’s tweet by claiming it was sexist and implied that Gillibrand was willing to perform sexual favors for campaign contributions:

In the last tweet by Warren, some took notice of Warren’s use of the term “slut-shaming.”

Gillibrand responded to Trump’s tweet by stating, “It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice, and I will not be silenced on this issue. Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday.”

Others dispute the notion that there was any sexism in Trump’s tweet, pointing to how Trump has used similar rhetoric toward the likes of Mitt Romney and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In the wake of Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) resignation announcement, the Democrats are rallying behind the notion that Trump should resign given that he is accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. Gillibrand told CNN on Monday, “President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.”

Trump has denied the accusations.

Rabbis Denounce Trump Tweets at Interfaith Event

IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous speaks at an interfaith press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Photo by Ryan Torok

Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders used a Dec. 1 press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California to denounce President Donald Trump for tweeting videos purporting to show Muslims engaging in acts of violence and breaking a statue of the Virgin Mary.

“I speak to you today as a rabbi and as a Jew,” said IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous. “My people know all too well the dangers of fascist regimes that rise to power through stigmatization and the scapegoating of vulnerable minority populations. We will not shrug this off as yet another reckless act from a reckless administration.”

Brous was one of three Jewish clergy members to participate in the press conference. Beth Shir Shalom Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels and Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Susan Goldberg — who said she was representing herself and not her congregation — also were among the 10 interfaith leaders at the event. The conference took place as a handful of Muslim worshippers were busy with prayer on the first floor of the mosque.

“The hatred that was spewed out by the president earlier this week can only be combated with this kind of love,” Comess-Daniels said.

On Nov. 29, Trump retweeted three videos that had been shared by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First. A day later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president’s tweets to reporters who questioned the legitimacy of the videos.

“I think his [Trump’s] goal is to promote strong borders and strong national security. … Whether it is a real video, the threat is real, and that is what the president is talking about, that is what the president is focused on, dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it,” she said.

Critics of the tweets have said Trump was sharing the videos without offering any context for the content in the videos, fomenting hate against Muslims and spreading propaganda of a hate organization.

“And now, just like after Charlottesville here in the United States, a hate group that has operated on the fringes of society has been promoted and given credibility by the president of the United States of America,” Brous said. “We must not downplay the recklessness and the danger of this act.”

At the Islamic Center, Goldberg expressed the importance of the Jewish community standing with the Muslim community at this time.

“As a Jewish person, there is no question where we need to be right now. We need to be standing with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and comforting you and letting you know that there is so much care and love and protection for you,” she said.

Also participating in the Los Angeles press conference were Bishop Steve Gilliland, director of Muslim relations at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Daniel Tamm, the Westside area representative of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Islamic Center of Southern California chairwoman Hedab Tarifi; and Islamic Center spokesman Omar Ricci.

“We will not shrug this off as yet another reckless act from a reckless administration.” — Rabbi Sharon Brous

“It is a sad day when European leaders are teaching the American president about tolerance,” Al-Marayati said, referring to British Prime Minster Theresa May, who criticized Trump for sharing content tweeted by Britain Frist.

Tarifi said she was let down by the president’s polarizing leadership.

“For us to get together to condemn our own president is really very painful,” she said.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, pushed back against critics of Trump’s tweets.

“The president’s critics seem more concerned about Trump than they do the biggest danger the world is facing: the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism,” Klein said in an email. “Pew polls show that one-third of Muslims under 35 support violence to defend Islam. That frightening ideology must be fought — not Trump’s tweets.”

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.

Rabbis speak out against Trump tweets at interfaith event

Rabbi Sharon Brous speaks at an interfaith press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California. Photo by Ryan Torok

Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders used a Dec. 1 press conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California to denounce President Donald Trump for tweeting videos this week purporting to show Muslims engaging in acts of violence and breaking a statue of the Virgin Mary.

“I speak to you today as a rabbi and as a Jew,” said IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous. “My people know all too well the dangers of fascists regimes that rise to power through stigmatization and the scapegoating of vulnerable minority populations. We will not shrug this off as yet another reckless act from a reckless administration.”

Brous was one of three Jewish clergy members to participate in the press conference. Beth Shir Shalom Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels and Wilshire Boulevard Temple Rabbi Susan Goldberg —who said she was representing herself and not her congregation — also were among the interfaith leaders at the event.

“The hatred that was spewed out by the president earlier this week can only be combated with this kind of love,” Comess-Daniels said.

This past Wednesday, Trump retweeted three videos that had been shared by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First.

Critics of the tweets have said Trump was sharing the videos without offering any context for the content in the videos, fomenting hate against Muslims and spreading propaganda of a hate organization.

“And now, just like after Charlottesville here in the United States, a hate group that has operated on the fringes of society has now been promoted and given credibility by the president of the United States of America,” Brous said. “We must not downplay the recklessness and the danger of this act.”

Goldberg expressed the importance of the Jewish community standing with the Muslim community at this time.

“As a Jewish person there is no question where we need to be right now. We need to be standing with our Muslim sisters and brothers and comforting you and letting you know that though there is so much care and love and protection for you,” she said.

Bishop Steve Gilliland, director of Muslim relations at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Daniel Tamm, the Westside area representative of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Islamic Center of Southern California chairwoman Hedab Tarifi and Islamic Center spokesperson Omar Ricci also participated.

“It is a sad day when European leaders are teaching the American president about tolerance,” Al-Marayati said, referring to British Prime Minster Theresa May, who criticized Trump for sharing content tweeted by Britain Frist.

Tarifi expressed disappointment in the president for the tweets.

“For us to get together to condemn our own president is really very painful.”

Scaramucci Post lambasted for posting Holocaust poll

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci takes questions at the White House on July 21. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The Scaramucci Post, the new media outlet created by President Trump’s former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, is getting lambasted for posting a poll about the Holocaust on Twitter.

The poll, which has since been deleted, asked people if they knew the number of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust:

Naturally, the tweet received serious condemnation on Twitter:

An apology was posted on Scaramucci Post’s Twitter account:

Since the apology has been posted, the Scaramucci account re-tweeted tweets defending their poll:

Others didn’t think that Scaramucci Post’s apology was adequate:

According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Scaramucci himself was infuriated by the poll and that “at least one person is getting fired.”

Scaramucci created his media outlet after he was fired from his short-lived position as White House communications director. He intended his new publication “to be the center lane in a two-lane highway.”

Netanyahu to Iran’s foreign minister: ‘Delete your account’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on July 30. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a simple message for Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday: “Delete your account.”

Netanyahu was responding to a tweet from Zarif stating that “Iranians–boys, girls, men, women–are ALL IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]; standing firm with those who defend us & the region against aggression & terror.” The Israeli prime minister pointed out the tweet’s irony given that “the regime bans them from using Twitter.”

“Apparently, I have a higher opinion of the Iranian people than their leaders,” said Netanyahu in a video.

Netanyahu proceeded to highlight some of the heinous actions committed by the IRGC and Iranian regime.

“I’m sure that ordinary Iranian mothers and fathers wouldn’t have blown up a Jewish community center in Argentina filled with little children, because that’s what the Revolutionary Guard did,” said Netanyahu, referencing the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ AIMA Jewish community center. “I’m sure that ordinary Iranians want to live in peace and don’t want their government to shoot students in the streets, hang gays in cranes, torture journalists in prison.”

Netanyahu then declared that “one day the Iranian people will be free” and concluded the video by telling Zarif: “Delete your account.”

The full video can be seen below, via the Times of Israel:

On Friday, President Trump slapped the IRGC with sanctions for being complicit in terrorism, although he didn’t’ specifically label them as a terrorist organization.

The Day Twitter Fell Silent: How Harvey Weinstein Inadvertently Caused a Twitter Boycott

Actress Rose McGowan, who’s been leading the Twitter crusade against Harvey Weinstein, was penalized by Twitter for posting a tweet about Weinstein that contained a private phone number – a violation of their Terms of Service. On Thursday morning, Oct 12, Twitter issued a statement that McGowan’s account would be temporarily frozen because of this violation.

This didn’t fly well with the Twitter community. The freeze manifested into a worldwide one-day Twitter boycott on Friday, Oct 13, with many users adopting the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter.

In solidarity with McGowan (a victim of Weinstein’s sexual transgressions), comedian Chelsea Handler, Emmy-nominated host Billy Eichner, and “Catfish” host Nev Schulman joined the protest.

(Although, it should be mentioned, Eichner broke his Twitter silence to post about President Trump addressing the Values Voter Summit, but he resumed his boycott soon after.)

There’s an Israeli flag circulating on the set of NCIS

Actress Pauley Perrette announced that the 15th season of NCIS would be her last via Twitter.

Which begs the question, what will happen to the Israeli flag she keeps on her desk?

The flag originally belonged to the character Ziva David, a former Mossad agent played by Chilean actress Cote de Pablo. The Jerusalem Post once cited Ziva as “the only full-time Israeli character on any mainstream network hit drama.” After Ziva left the show in 2013, the flag ended up on Pauley’s desk, who plays a goth pigtailed forensic specialist named Abby Sciuto.

We’re bidding on Leroy’s desk next.

Is Jay-Z’s new song anti-Semitic?

Is Jay-Z’s new song anti-Semitic? Does it perpetuate negative stereotypes about Jewish property ownership?

That’s what some are saying online after the June 30 release of Jay-Z’s new album, “4:44,” which features the song, “The Story of O.J.” The song contains the lyric, “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit / You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This is how they did it.”

“Wasn’t really expecting Jay-Z to go anti-Semitic when I started the new 4:44 album this morning,” a Twitter user said in response, as BuzzFeed reported.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), however, said the song is not anti-Semitic.

“We do not believe it was Jay-Z’s intent to promote anti-Semitism. On the contrary, we know that Jay-Z is someone who has used his celebrity in the past to speak out responsibly and forcefully against the evils of racism and anti-Semitism,” the ADL said in a statement. “The lyric does seem to play into deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money. The idea that Jews “own all the property” in this country and have used credit to financially get ahead are odious and false. Yet, such notions have lingered in society for decades, and we are concerned that this lyric could feed into preconceived notions about Jews and alleged Jewish “control” of the banks and finance.”

In 2006, Jay-Z appeared with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in a public service announcement denouncing anti-Semitism.

 

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), the self-described “national address for Black-Jewish relations,” sponsored the 2006 pubic service announcement. Simmons chairs FFEU, which also promotes Muslim-Jewish relations. 

In the wake of criticisms that the new track is anti-Semitic, Simmons defended Jay-Z.

“I am the Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and my job for the past 20 years or so is to point out the ‘sameness of different religions and races.’ First, let me state that mischief-makers would like to take Jay’s statements about the culture and practices that exist within some parts of the Jewish community (notice I say some),” Simmons tweeted July 4. “The fact is this culture that promotes good business and financial well being is and has been a guiding light to the black and specifically the hip-hop community.”

On Instagram, Israeli-American talent manager Guy Oseary said the lyric, if anything, compliments the Jewish community.

“Jewish people do NOT ‘own all the property in America.’ Jay knows this. But he’s attempting to use the Jewish people in an exaggerated way to showcase a community of people that are thought to have made wise business decisions…In my opinion, Jay is giving the Jewish community a compliment,” Oseary said.

Jay-Z has previously rapped about Jews in a controversial way. On his 2007 soundtrack album, “American Gangster,” Jay-Z raps, “Had to get some challah bread so you can holla back and holla that/My Jewish lawyer too enjoyed the fruit of letting my cash stack.”

Trump’s post-London attack tweets are chilling — and counter-productive

President Donald Trump at the White House on June 1. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

In popular myth, South Florida was ground zero of the Great Email Explosion of 2008.

That was the year your great-uncle or long-lost cousin couldn’t resist passing on rumors, hoaxes and conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, the true causes of 9/11 or the insidious nature of Islam. It wasn’t the invention of Fake News, but it provided the template for how social media users in 2016 would ignore obvious red flags to pass on bogus stories that confirmed their worldviews.

What happened to that elderly snow bird, who interrupted his nonstop viewing of Fox News only to fire off angry messages and unfounded rumors about The Other? Apparently, we elected him president.

In the hours after Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London, the president sent off a series of tweets that transformed the kind of event that usually unites the West in grief and determination into yet another episode of Trump Vs. World.

Somewhere between citing an early Drudge Report link on the London Bridge killings and calling out London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, the president used the killings to defend his travel ban, toss scorn on gun control and decry political correctness. It was a typical week of his presidential campaign boiled down to a few hours of 140-character messages.

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,” tweeted a president whose administration is woefully understaffed and whose top law enforcement agency lacks a director. “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

This came even before he extended condolences to the victims of the London attack or offered America’s support to Britain and its leaders: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”

That out of the way, it was back to politicizing the attacks: “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”

It’s not clear what Trump had in mind other than the court case over his attempt to ban travelers from several predominately Muslim countries. That’s the problem with Twitter and, increasingly, the Trump administration: Even on points where both sides ostensibly agree — protecting citizens from terror — the president governs by slogans, not policy. Some might argue that is a good thing: If his policy-making were as impulsive as his tweeting, who knows what kind of global mischief or military disaster he might lead the country into.

But like those emails from Florida, Trump’s tweets derail serious policy discussion. The talking heads line up on cable news, the editorials get written, and we’re no closer than we were before to understanding what really needs to be done in times of stability or crisis. Instead we talk about Trump. He isn’t acting presidential! He’s using disaster to score cheap political points! He’s still campaigning!

This sounds like a partisan gripe, although for the life of me I can’t figure out which side wins when Trump gets into Cranky Grandpa mode. Even his supporters argue that the daily crises of his own making are distracting from his broader agenda.

Perhaps most disturbing of all his tweets over the weekend was his unfounded but completely characteristic attack on Khan, by all accounts a popular mayor and real mensch. “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted Sunday morning, accusing Khan of being blase in the face of the attacks.

Perhaps Trump misunderstood what Khan had really said. The mayor, soon after the attack, told the BBC that he was “appalled and furious that these cowardly terrorists would target” innocent civilians. He vowed that “we will never let them win, nor will we allow them to cower our city.”

He then assured London residents who would see increased police presence around the city. “No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us, need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be,” he said. “I’m reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city in the world, but we always evolve and review ways to make sure that we remain as safe as we possibly can.”

In other words, “Keep calm and carry on.” If this were World War II, Trump might have accused Churchill of cowardice.

Except Churchill wasn’t a Muslim. There is no reason to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on this one. Remember the way he fired back at another Khan during the Democratic National Convention last year. When Khizr Khan, whose son died fighting for the United States in Iraq, criticized Trump’s policies and statements about Muslims, the then-candidate immediately played the religion card. Instead of defending his own policies or ignoring the remarks, Trump suggested that the dead soldier’s mother had not “been allowed” to speak at the convention, presumably for religious reasons. It was a chilling echo of a mindset that Jews find all too familiar, one that slots minorities, religious people and other “ethnics” into neat, defining categories. Muslim mom? Oppressed. A Muslim mayor? He must be soft on Islamist terror.

When Trump insists that we “must stop being politically correct,” he is defending this discredited worldview. Leaders from Paris to London to Washington, D.C. are aware that there is a radical Islam problem, and say so. The issue is not identifying the problem by name, but coming up with real-world solutions to a vicious offshoot of a vast religion. Critics of the travel ban aren’t pro-terrorism; in fact, many believe it is counterproductive precisely because it plays into ISIS’s notion of a world that hates Islam.

It has been tempting to dismiss Trump’s more Archie Bunkerish tendencies as a generational thing, just as we joked about those “Florida” emails as the work of retirees with too much time on their hands and too much Fox on their televisions. But a president has a responsibility to rise above petty prejudices and knee-jerk reactions and act — to use a by now tired word — presidential. That’s all the Jewish community was asking for during the spate of JCC bomb hoaxes and the weird Holocaust memorial contretemps, and what so many Americans are seeking in the face of the horrors in England, France and Portland, Oregon.

It’s not too much to ask for.

Trump’s Twitter profile features his Western Wall prayer

Screenshot from Twitter

President Donald Trump changed his Twitter profile’s background picture to feature a photo of his prayer at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Trump or one of the people he trusts with his personal Twitter account posted the photo on Monday after Trump had prayed at the wall. The previous picture showed Trump seated in the Oval Office surrounded by staff.

Trump’s feed also included tweets reflecting his assessment that his Middle East tour this week was a success.

He thanked Israel’s leaders for their warm reception.

YouTube, Google graded poorly on hate, terrorism by Wiesenthal Center

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is criticizing YouTube for allowing the proliferation of videos such as this one, posted by an account associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The video-sharing site YouTube and its parent company, Google, fared poorly in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s annual social media report card for their handling of hate- and terrorism-related material.

The Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that fights hate speech, says YouTube is being exploited by terrorists to encourage acts of violence and instruct would-be attackers in their methods. The site received a C- in the category of “terrorism” and a D for “hate.”

“Google/YouTube is rightfully under fierce criticism for placing digital ads from major international brands like AT&T and Johnson & Johnson next to extremist videos celebrating terrorist attacks that should never have been allowed on its platform in the first place,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said March 28 at the media briefing where the grades were unveiled. It took place at the New York City comptroller’s office, four blocks from ground zero.

DTH grades17_Poster

Courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center.

He said the Wiesenthal Center awarded YouTube its low grades for allowing terrorism “how to” videos to proliferate on its platform, and for failing to take down thousands of posts by hate groups. He pointed to a number of videos posted on the site in the wake of a recent terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London, praising the attack and encouraging others to follow suit.

YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A more in-depth report, “Digital Terrorism + Hate,” available at digitalhate.net, details the ways in which terrorist groups use social media to recruit, network and instruct potential attackers. The report names a number of accounts, tactics and pages associated with terrorism.

“Frankly, one of the things that we need is for the companies to be more responsive to their responsibilities,” Cooper told the Journal. “Almost all the companies set rules, and some try a lot harder than others to live up to them.”

He lauded recent changes at Twitter, whose grades have improved since the Wiesenthal Center began issuing the report cards in 2015. The company’s grade for “hate” rose from a D to a C since last year. Cooper said the change was due to Twitter’s move to deactivate hundreds of thousands of accounts associated with terrorism and hate speech.

Facebook received the highest marks because of its “sophisticated in-house system of blocking” objectionable accounts and content, according to Cooper. Other platforms, such as YouTube and Twitter, are reactive rather than proactive, he said.

But in general, Cooper said Silicon Valley has demonstrated a lack of leadership when it comes to fighting hate online. He said the Wiesenthal Center hopes to convene social media companies to comprehensively address the problems of digital hate speech and web use by terrorists. Failing that, the nonprofit would look into other, more drastic measures.

“If they don’t get a handle on this, we can be looking at the horrible R-word — regulation,” he said in the interview. “I’m not particularly enamored with that solution. It’s always messy when you go to Washington.”

However, he said he will be educating public officials about the trends highlighted in the report.

At the press conference, Cooper also announced that the Wiesenthal Center will be offering tutorials for high school students “to empower young people to deal with the tsunami of hate.” The center plans to pilot the tutorials with teens in New York City.

He told the Journal, “Since they usually see [online hate speech] before the adults anyway, we’re going to do our best to try to empower them with some guidelines about how to deal with it.”

Twitter has most anti-Semitic content among social networks, survey finds

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Twitter emerged as the social network with the most anti-Semitic content in a comprehensive analysis.

The study of the prevalence of hatred toward Jews on such platforms, commissioned by the World Jewish Congress and published this week, was conducted throughout 2016.

Nearly two-thirds of the 382,000 posts deemed anti-Semitic in the study appeared on Twitter, followed by 11 percent posted on Facebook, 6 percent on Instagram and 2 percent on YouTube. The posts were in various languages, according to the survey performed by the Israeli monitoring firm Vigo.

The study applied the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in determining what content to include in the report, the World Jewish Congress wrote in a statement about the report.

“We knew that anti-Semitism online was on the rise, but the numbers revealed in this report give us concrete data as to how alarming the situation really is,” said the group’s CEO, Robert Singer. “We hope this serves as a wake-up call to all internet forums to maintain moral standards, rid themselves of offensive content, and make the digital world a safer place for all.”

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft in June signed a code of conduct with the European Commission that requires them to delete the majority of reported illegal hate speech within 24 hours.

The signing of the accord was hailed as major progress toward reconciling U.S.-based social networks’ adherence to American legislation despite demands by European governments and judiciaries that the firms limit themselves in Europe to the stricter laws on hate speech applied in much of the continent.

Monitor groups have reported failures to comply after the document’s signing. Twitter has been particularly reluctant to comply with European legislation.

In 2013 Twitter lost a protracted legal battle in France over its initial refusal to either disclose details of users who made anti-Semitic statements online or block them for continuing to do so.

The survey’s publication coincided with reports in Poland about the desecration of a cemetery of Soviet soldiers in Warsaw by vandals who spray-painted a Star of David emblazoned with a Nazi swastika inside the burial ground. Police are investigating the incident, the news site Ruptfly reported.

Chelsea Clinton cites Purim in scoring congressman who says ‘demographics are our destiny’

Chelsea Clinton speaks at an event, April 17, 2014. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Chelsea Clinton cited the lessons of Purim to chastise a congressman who said restoring Western civilization could not be done “with somebody else’s babies.”

“Clearly the Congressman does not view all our children as, well, all our children,” Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who lost the November presidential election to Donald Trump, said Sunday in a tweet quoting a tweet by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “Particularly ironic & painful on Purim.”

Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky, is Jewish. Purim celebrates the triumph of Persia’s Jews over a deadly enemy, Haman. Some Jewish traditions cite its lessons as upholding diversity.

King in his tweet praised Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker whose party is among those competing in elections this week in the Netherlands.

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” he said. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

The tweet was reviled as bigoted almost as soon as King posted it.

“This is so offensive, it’s hard to know where to start,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO, said in a tweet. “America’s greatness is the diversity of our culture, the dynamism of our demography.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., alluded to King’s closeness to Trump, and claims from Democrats that Trump’s election has spurred increased bigotry, in calling the comment “racist.”

“It’s no accident that communities across America have been threatened by emboldened racists,” she said in a statement Monday. “The GOP Leadership must stop accommodating this garbage, and condemn Congressman Steve King’s statements in the strongest and most unequivocal terms.”

In an appearance on CNN on Monday morning, King would not say whether he believed Muslims were “equals,” but defended the tweet from charges that it was racist.

“It’s the culture, not the blood,” King said. “And if you can go anywhere in the world and adopt these little babies and put them into households that were already assimilated into America, those babies will grow up as American as any other baby with as much patriotism and as much love of country as any other baby. It’s not about race.”

Daily Kickoff: Trump’s Shabbat Tweets | Israel – dubbed Jamaican bobsled team of WBC – upsets South Korea | Tony Blair as Trump’s Middle East envoy?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Feb. 17. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters

AND TRUMP TWEETED ON THE SEVENTH DAY… “Inside Trump’s fury: The president rages at leaks, setbacks and accusations” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker: “President Donald Trump spent the weekend at “the winter White House,” Mar-a-Lago, the secluded Florida castle where he is king… His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner – celebrated as calming influences on the tempestuous president – joined him. But they were helpless to contain his fury.” [WashPost]

Mike Allen in Axios AM: “Six weeks (44 days) into his presidency, Donald Trump, when left alone because Jared and Ivanka are observing the Sabbath, still bangs out tweets (with episodic misspellings) making wild accusations based on flimsy or nonexistent evidence.” [Axios

Jason Zengerle: “Jared Kushner should really look into hiring a Shabbos goy.” [Twitter]

“Sabbath’s Tweeter: A scientific examination of the garbage Trump posts on Jared and Ivanka’s day of rest” by Andrew Kahn: “As of this writing, Trump has tweeted 1,257 times—plus anything he’s deleted—since he received his party’s nomination for president on July 19, 2016. If we skim off Trump’s copy-and-paste retweets, that number falls to 1,171. According to the conventional wisdom, only tweets sent from an Android device were written by Trump himself. There are 918 of those within this group. Seventy-seven were sent between sundown on a Friday and sundown on a Saturday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s sunset estimates at the longitude and latitude of Trump Tower. (Many observant Jews start Shabbat a bit earlier and end a bit later, but those rabbinically sanctioned cutoffs are not easily accessible in my statistical software.)” [Slate• All of Trump’s Saturday tweets since taking office [Axios]

Noga Tarnopolsky: “To proponents of the Shabbat Tweeting hypothesis: Jared & Ivanka Kushner are with Trump in Florida this weekend & it hasn’t really helped.” [Twitter

John Podhoretz: “If it is true that Trump needs the Kushners around on Shabbat not to be crazy, I hereby approve Jared’s conversion to goy.” [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: “Tony Blair’s secret White House summit in bid to work for Trump” by Simon Walters: “The former Prime Minister held talks with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday with a view to becoming a Middle East peace envoy for Trump. This newspaper has learned that Blair and Kushner have met three times in secret since September, including their three-hour summit in the West Wing last week… A well-placed source said Blair’s role could be as Kushner’s senior adviser: ‘Blair has been pitching hard for this job and Trump’s people are taking him very seriously.’” [DailyMail• Tony Blair denies report he was offered job as Trump’s Middle East peace envoy [Independent]

Amid a wave of anti-Semitism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Israel yesterday to deliver a message of ‘Hineini’ — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh covering Cuomo in Jerusalem: “New York’s principles are built on a rock. They will not change, and the political winds will not change them,” Cuomo said in a joint appearance with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, following a tour of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. “To the people of Israel, I say that these acts will not be tolerated. New York State has reacted aggressively with extraordinary measures, more aggressively than any other state in the nation – I am proud to say.” Cuomo said the purpose of this 24-hour trip was to send a message: “Hineini. I am here. I’ve been here before. I will be here again. Our relationship is enduring. The relationship between the people of the Jewish community and the state of New York is built on mutual support and respect. It’s built on love. And that will not change.” [JewishInsider

— During a press conference at the King David hotel, Cuomo also announced the launch of a 22-member joint commission that will explore new opportunities to strengthen economic and cultural ties between New York and Israel, chaired by Mort Zuckerman, along with Malcolm Hoenlein, Howard Zemsky, Linda Mirel and OU’s Allen Fagin who will serve as co-chairs. Members include Stuart Appelbaum, AIPAC’s Bob Cohen, Abe Foxman, George Klein, JCRC’s Michael Miller, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Jack Bendheim, Burton Resnick, Bill Rudin, Charles Temel, Randi Weingarten, Sol Werdiger, Jeffrey Richard, Alisa Doctoroff, Sara Berman, and Howard Zucker.   

Addressing the U.S.-Israel relationship and erosion of support for Israel within the Democratic Party, Cuomo told Jewish Insider, that one of the reasons he formed an economic development cooperation with Israel is because “there are political divides that are getting harsher and louder and people now debate whether you need Israel as a strategic ally — even though I don’t believe there is anything to debate about. When I took the anti-BDS action, I can tell you there was quite a bit of opposition. I think fortifying the relationship with the cultural and economic aspects, will make the relationship even stronger and clearer for all Americans.”

Cuomo on Jerusalem Embassy: “Look, Jerusalem is the capital [of Israel]. But it’s certainly a security concern, and that would be a decision that you would have to talk to Israel about. And whatever is in their best interest, I think, should govern.”

PHOTO: Cuomo at the Western Wall [Pic

Dan Shapiro, who attended Cuomo’s business roundtable, tells us: “Speaking as a private citizen, I am touched by Gov. Cuomo’s decision to come on such short notice to hit a couple of very important notes. One is a message of solidarity at a time when the U.S. Jewish community is feeling vulnerable because of the anti-Semitic incidents over the last weeks, and tying that to the vulnerability Israelis always feel because of the threats they face. And the second, expressing his commitment to deepening the economic partnership between New York and Israel, of course as part of a larger economic partnership between the two nations. It’s a source of incredible opportunity, a mutual benefit already, and with the sky as a limit for what can be achieved. And on top of that, it is the best answer to the voice calling for BDS. Gov. Cuomo has been a leading voice to oppose BDS.”” 

HOW IT PLAYED: “Cuomo, in Whirlwind Tour of Jerusalem, Shows Support for Israel” by Jesse McKinley: “He toured. He prayed. He visited an ancient tomb. He broke bread, cracked jokes and even wedged in some Albany arm-twisting. And he prompted flags to appear all over, even in the middle of cobblestone streets… But as with all things Cuomo lately, the trip is also being seen through the prism of politics, particularly the continued speculation about the governor’s potential presidential ambitions. It is a notion he has been actively tamping down, even if his actions — such as a last-minute trip to a country that looms large in discussions of American foreign policy — seem to feed the idea. “It’s unfortunate in many ways because it suggests a political nature to everything, which frankly fuels the cynicism about the whole process,” said Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, who added that anti-Semitism was a personal issue: Two of his sisters are married to Jewish men. “If you really care, you show up,” he said. “And I really care.” [NYTimes]

“Former US envoy to Israel to join Tel Aviv-based think tank” by Alexander Fulbright: “Dan Shapiro will join the Institute for National Security studies as a visiting fellow… INSS cited Shapiro’s “rich experience” working on issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East in its decision to hire him, pointing not only to his work as ambassador, but also as a member of the US National Security Council and an adviser on foreign affairs to Congress.” [ToI]

“In Israel, Lauding and Lamenting the Era of Trump” by Ian Fisher: “The unenviable challenge facing the Israeli government is how to express its visceral horror over the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the U.S. without becoming a pawn in America’s partisan debate or jeopardizing its critical working relationship with the administration,” said Shalom Lipner…” [NYTimes]

“US delegation in Israel to study relocation of embassy to Jerusalem” by Tovah Lazaroff: “”The delegation (led by Congressman Ron DeSantis) is in Jerusalem to learn first hand what it will mean to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” said Ruth Lieberman, a friend of DeSantis and a political advisor in Israel. “Its leadership intends to return to Congress with a report and a deeper understanding of what to expect, and of some of the decisions that have to be made as well,” Lieberman said… The delegation will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli political leaders during their visit.” [JPost• Will US move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem? [CNN

“Trump Team’s Links to Russia Crisscross in Washington” by Scott Shane and Andrew Kramer: “And Jason Greenblatt, a former Trump Organization lawyer and now a special representative for international negotiations at the White House, met last summer with Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia and an ally of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.” [NYTimes

“Trump pleads for cash at closed donor retreat” by Darren Samuelsohn and Marc Caputo: “At one point, he poked fun at Steve Wynn, the RNC finance chair and billionaire owner of a Las Vegas casino, for not backing him at the start of the 2016 campaign. Wynn, who initially backed Sen. Marco Rubio, wasn’t the only one in the room to have initially picked a different horse in the 2016 Republican primary race, drawing Trump’s scorn at the time.” [Politico

“Ivanka Trump Tours Holocaust Museum as Father Considers Visit” by Jennifer Jacobs: “Ivanka Trump took a private tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum this week without her father, who is considering his own visit… She was accompanied by her mother- and father-in-law, Charles and Seryl Kushner. Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner’s late grandmother, Rae Kushner, was a Holocaust survivor who helped found the Holocaust Museum.” [Bloomberg

THIS WEEK ON THE HILL: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on whether to confirm David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel on Thursday.  

“JFNA’s Sandler taking heat for support of David Friedman” by Eitan Arom: “The comments reported in the press were in response to a question directed to me about David Friedman and reflected my personal view, based upon my analysis of the situation and my personal contact with Mr. Friedman,” Sandler wrote in an email to JFNA trustees… Others in the community were more disappointed than angry about Sandler’s comments. “He’s done a lot for both the L.A. as well as the national Jewish community,” Adam Wergeles, a co-founder of the West L.A. congregation IKAR, told the Journal… “And it is upsetting to see someone like Sandler — who’s kind of using his stature — to support what felt to me like Friedman’s very convenient and self-serving retraction.” [JewishJournal]

“The End of the Libertarian Dream? Long on the fringes of American politics, small-government conservatives were closer than ever to mainstream acceptance. Then two things happened: Donald Trump and Jihadi John” by Tim Alberta: “I think the McCain-Graham wing of the party is withering,” Amash tells me in his office, referring to South Carolina’s hawkish senator. “It was dominant 10 or 15 years ago on foreign policy matters and surveillance and other things. But today, it’s a rather weak force compared to a decade ago in D.C. And it’s almost nonexistent at home.” And yet, Trump also pledged to oversee a massive military buildup. He threatened to “bomb the shit out of” the Islamic State; suggested killing the families of terrorists; expressed an interest in seizing Iraq’s sovereign oil; advocated the return of torture; and, in his inaugural address, declared he would eradicate Islamist terrorism “from the face of the Earth.” When I mention all this, Amash bursts out laughing. “Not exactly a libertarian philosophy,” I say. “No,” he shakes his head. “It’s not.”” [Politico

“Israeli Arab Leader Angers J Street by Criticizing Labor Party” by Chaim Levinson: “While addressing J Street’s national conference in Washington last week, Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh lashed out at the Zionist Union, saying the center-left party “failed” in its role as the opposition, and ignoring a request by J Street not to criticize the party. As Odeh left the podium following his speech, the visibly angry J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami demonstrably did not shake Odeh’s hand, sources present said.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Buzz on Balfour — by Tal Shalev: Police investigators are set to arrive to the Prime Minister’s Balfour residence this afternoon for the fourth time to continue the probe of “File 1000,” concerning alleged gifts from millionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer, and “File 2000,” regarding his contacts with Noni Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily. For weeks the police have been waiting to continue questioning Netanyahu but due to his constant traveling lately it took quite a while to coordinate the meeting. Today, Netanyahu cancelled the weekly Likud faction meeting and will be facing some difficult questions instead. Police chief Roni Alsheikh said today that “we are at the end, and now conducting last supplements of the investigation. We don’t have much left to complete and the minute we are finished we will reach a conclusion and pass is it on to the Attorney General.”

Meanwhile, right wing pressure on Netanyahu is growing. The PM succeeded in postponing until next week the ministerial vote on the Maale Adumim bill, which seeks to apply Israeli sovereignty on that West Bank city.  Defense Minister Liberman told the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs committee today that Israel received a clear message from the Trump administration that applying sovereignty to Maale Adumim will lead to a crisis. Meanwhile, the Jewish Home party is not sitting still and is also pushing Netanyahu to stand by his commitment to establish a new settlement for the Amona evacuees. 

Netanyahu has denied reports that he is reconsidering the Amona resettlement move due to White House pressure, but Bennet and friends apparently don’t believe him. Minister Uri Ariel has started to circulate a draft of a government resolution that will start the planning and construction of the settlement. Yesterday at the weekly meeting of coalition party heads, Bennet asked Netanyahu about what is happening with the new settlement and pointed out that the residents are now on a hunger strike. “Its complicated. We haven’t reached understandings with the US yet. We are committed to finding a solution and don’t need more pressure or any recommendations.” Liberman also weighed in, and with humor asked Bennet “Where are they on strike? I need to lose some weight, perhaps I’ll join them.” This reply provoked a strong and angry reaction from the Amona settlers. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

SPOTLIGHT: “Financiers Fight Over the American Dream” by Sheelah Kolhatkar: “Ackman grew up in the affluent New York City suburb of Chappaqua, where his father ran a brokerage firm. He graduated from Harvard College and then Harvard Business School, where he was on the rowing team, and had a reputation as someone who couldn’t keep his opinions to himself. He and the rest of the team had rowed with oars adorned with dollar signs. “Let’s face up to what HBS represents,” he wrote in the student newspaper. “We spend 90% of our studies at HBS pursuing the maximization of the dollar.” 

“Ackman wasn’t prepared for what came next, however. Two weeks later, the legendary investor Carl Icahn lashed out at Ackman and his Herbalife play on Bloomberg Television. “It’s no secret I don’t like Ackman,” Icahn said. “I think if you’re short you go short, and, hey, if it goes down, you make money. You don’t go out and get a roomful of people to bad-mouth the company. If you want to be in that business, why don’t you go and join the S.E.C.?” He went on, “I don’t respect him. . . . Don’t be holier than thou and say, ‘Look, I’m doing this for the good of the world, and I want to see sunshine on Herbalife.’ I mean, that’s bullshit.” “I’ve really sort of had it with this guy Ackman,” Icahn said. “He’s like the crybaby in the schoolyard. I went to a tough school in Queens, and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys. He was like one of these little Jewish boys, crying that the world was taking advantage of him.” [NewYorker]

“VCs, startups: Stop networking so much” by Bradley Tusk: “My advice to the venture and startup community is this: Stop talking so much. Stop meeting with each other so much. Stop drinking so much coffee. Focus on your product, your service, your technology. Focus on your investments, your portfolio companies, your value proposition. Just knowing lots of other people who do roughly the same thing you do is not all that useful.” [VB]

The rise of the useless class: “Historian Yuval Noah Harari makes a bracing prediction: just as mass industrialization created the working class, the AI revolution will create a new unworking class.” [Ideas.Ted]

“Do People Look Like Their Names?” by Daniel Akst: “In a series of intriguing experiments, [Yonat] Zwebner and colleagues at Israel’s Hebrew University and IDC Herzliya and France’s HEC Paris found that volunteers shown a headshot of a person and four or five possible names can pick the correct name at a significantly higher rate than chance… In one experiment, volunteers in Israel were shown 25 neutral photos of young, Israeli-born adults known by their reasonably common first names (not nicknames). Shown a picture of a young man, people might be asked, for example, if his given name was Yaakov, Dan, Yosef or Netanel. The volunteers got the right answer 30% of the time, compared with the 25% rate expected if everyone had simply guessed.” [WSJ]   

HEARD OVER THE WEEKEND – Jeffrey Goldberg discusses rise in anti-Semitism on NPR’s Weekend Edition: “These things happened before Donald Trump… What happened right now, I think, is because of a certain narrative just developed around Donald Trump. People are saying this is the cause of these incidents. And I just think that that might be a little bit premature or a little bit oversimplistic. We’ve had serious incidents of anti-Semitism in this country for years and years and years. They did not start on January 20.” [NPR

MEDIA WATCH: “The Declining Fortunes of Women at The Times” by Liz Spayd: “Men accounted for 61 percent of the bylines that appeared in the front section of The Times last year, according to data soon to be published by the Women’s Media Center… That put The Times in the middle of the pack, which is a vast improvement over the previous two years, when it ranked last. (Partial credit surely goes to political correspondent Maggie Haberman, whose byline, I’m told, drew more page views last year than any other reporter at The Times — an eye-popping 141 million.)” [NYTimes

TRANSITION: JI reader Herbert Block was appointed last week as the American Zionist Movement (AZM) new Executive Director. He is succeeding Karen Rubinstein who is retiring after 40 years with AZM.

DESSERT: “Israeli Cabinet Makes Move to Decriminalize Recreational Marijuana Use” by Ian Fisher: “Israel, which has been at the forefront of research into medical marijuana and the drug’s commercialization, took a major step on Sunday toward officially decriminalizing its recreational use. At a time when many American states and European countries are loosening marijuana laws, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan that would impose fines rather than criminal penalties on those caught using the drug in public.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “With Mirth and a Mensch, Israel Upsets South Korea in W.B.C.” by Ken Belson: “When Sam Fuld, a journeyman outfielder, hit a line-drive single to open an exhibition game between Team Israel and a squad representing the South Korean Army the other day, one of his teammates on the bench, third baseman Cody Decker, yelled, “Nobody, and I mean nobody, no-hits the Jews!” The exhortation was part bravado, part sarcasm, part siren call. Team Israel is one of the lowest-ranked of the 16 teams in the World Baseball Classic that began here in Seoul on Monday… But miracle of miracles, Israel won its tournament debut on Monday by beating South Korea, 2-1.” [NYTimes]

“Team Israel — and its mascot, Mensch on a Bench — is the Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC” by Eddie Matz: “Hollywood isn’t the only place where [Ty] Kelly’s networking skills have helped him. Last spring training in Port St. Lucie, a conversation with a couple of Jewish fans about Kelly’s background (his mother is Jewish) led to a phone call from Peter Kurz, president of the IAB (Israel Association of Baseball). Prior to that call, Kelly — whose father is Irish Catholic and who was baptized while in elementary school — had no clue that he even qualified for Team Israel. “I always figured that if I played in the WBC, it’d be based on my Irish or German ancestors,” he says. A year later, thanks to the Classic’s “Heritage Rule,” he’s rocking the Star of David on his cap, part of a decidedly anonymous roster that screams what-could’ve-been.” [ESPNUSAToday

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan turns 91… Actor, writer, director, producer and political activist, directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 70… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, winner of three Oscars, three Grammys and received six Tony Award nominations, Stephen Schwartz turns 69… Actor, comedian and sports show host, converted to Judaism upon marrying Roseanne Barr in 1990, Tom Arnold turns 58… Head of Innovation Communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 42… Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams (2001-2012), member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Sage Rosenfels turns 39… Fourth generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region, Daniel Klein turns 36… Israeli fashion model who has appeared in international campaigns for many world-wide brands, Esti Ginzburg turns 27… Artist and founder / director of Tikkun Olam Journeys, introducing young Americans to a cross-section of social causes in Israel, Tova Suissa… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowitz… Princeton University student who interned for Senator Marco Rubio, Theodore Furchtgott… University of Miami student who is a member of the Israel Project’s Tower Tomorrow Fellowship, Riley Clafton… Aliza Tendler… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

Holocaust survivor Evi Blaikie denounces Trump over Nazi reference

Evi Blaikie, 78, does not use Twitter, but when she was made aware of President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet comparing U.S. intelligence officials to Nazi Germany she was astounded.

“I was angry, I was really angry,” Blaikie, the founder of Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust, told Jewish Insider outside City Hall on Thursday. “I was astounded that he would make such a statement that is so ignorant of what Nazi Germany was about.”

Blaikie came to the United States in 1960 at the age of 21 after surviving the Holocaust and being transferred from one orphanage to another. Her father and grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz, and her mother passed away shortly after the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, following the publication of unverified documents containing allegations about his activities in Russia, Trump claimed himself a victim of U.S. intelligence officials, invoking Nazi Germany. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public,” Trump “>Trump’s reference to Nazi Germany, organized by the NYC Jewish Caucus and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.

“I have a message for our President-elect: Mr. Trump when it comes to your prejudice attacks, shut your tweeting face,” Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center, said as he was joined by members of the city’s three legislative branches. “Your words injure. Has our President-elect have no shame? He’s gone after Mexicans, he’s gone after Muslims, he’s gone after women, he’s gone after people of color, he’s gone after LGBT people, who would’ve thought he would go after Holocaust survivors. But he has, and our President-elect has reached a new low in American politics when it comes to the concept of mutual respect. Words injure. Words matter. It’s beneath the dignity of the office of President of the U.S., and it is an insult to Holocaust survivors and to our entire nation and its intelligence, for Donald Trump to equate the American patriots who fight for our nation with Nazi Germany. That is outrageous.”

Goldstein challenged Jare Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who was just appointed as a senior advisor to the President in the new Administration, to reprimand his father-in-law for denigrating Holocaust survivors with his comments.

Digital hate: After the election, will this be our new normal?

It was February, right after the South Carolina Republican primary, and Donald Trump had been declared the winner. Bethany Mandel, a writer who usually focuses on politics and culture from a conservative perspective, was upset that Trump seemed to be emerging as a legitimate candidate. 

Observing that many Twitter users who proclaimed their love for Trump were just as generous with their anti-Semitic rhetoric and invective, she tweeted: “Another night blocking all the anti-Semites who are helping Trump make American [sic] great again.” 

Mandel, an outspoken anti-Trump Republican, had been a Twitter target before, so she expected some Twitter hate. But she wasn’t prepared for what was to come.

“The floodgates opened,” she said in an interview with the Jewish Journal. 

That first night she blocked an estimated 350 to 400 accounts that had begun sending her anti-Semitic and threatening messages, along with what she described as “a lot of Holocaust imagery.” There were images of her Photoshopped into photographs of Holocaust victims or concentration camp scenes, and cartoons depicting Jews being shoved into ovens. 

“It was impossible to keep up with; it seemed like a coordinated attack, not an organic thing,” she said, speculating that the perpetrator of the deluge was “a Russian bot farm, doing this to interfere with the electoral process. 

The ADL report

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Task Force on Harassment and Journalism released “Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” a report that set out to document these attacks. Mandel makes the list as one of the “top ten most targeted.” 

The ADL report noted 2.6 million tweets containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech from August 2015 to July 2016, with a significant uptick starting in January as presidential campaign coverage kicked into high gear. At least 800 journalists received anti-Semitic tweets with an estimated reach of 45 million impressions. 

The report also noted that all of the top 10 most targeted journalists are Jewish. They received 83 percent of “overtly anti-Semitic tweets” “which may contribute to reinforcing and normalizing anti-Semitic language on a massive scale.” Offenders are even creating new words — such as using “skypes” instead of “kikes” — in order to evade spam and hate-speech filters. 

The ADL plans to publish a follow-up report outlining recommendations for how to respond to anti-Semitism online during its Nov. 17 event, “Never Is Now: The ADL Summit on Anti-Semitism,” in New York City.

Among the highest profile examples, journalist Julia Ioffe was targeted after writing a profile of Melania Trump for GQ Magazine in May. She was met with anti-Semitic responses from people musing that her face would look good on a lampshade; at a conference in June, she also said that people had ordered caskets and homicide cleanups to her apartment. (Mandel and Ioffe are advisers on the ADL task force that published the report.)

New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman tweeted about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s support for Trump, and about the anti-Semitic response to Ioffe’s article, which made Weisman a target as well. In a piece called “The Nazi Tweets of ‘Trump God Emperor,’ ” Weisman reported that the only image he blocked and forwarded to Twitter was “a photo of my disembodied head held aloft, long Orthodox hair locks called payot Photoshopped on my sideburns and a skullcap placed as a crown. I let stand the image of a smiling Mr. Trump in Nazi uniform flicking the switch on a gas chamber containing my Photoshopped face.” 

Weisman subsequently disengaged from Twitter altogether, defecting instead to Facebook, “where at least people need to use their real names and can’t hide behind fakery to spread their hate.” 

Trump: Not the cause, but a connection

While the ADL report “identifies some self-styled followers” of Trump to be the source of these anti-Semitic Twitter attacks against reporters, it also states that “we cannot and do not attribute causation to Mr. Trump, and thus we cannot and do not assign blame to Mr. Trump for these ugly tweets … while we cannot (and do not) say that the candidate caused the targeting of reporters, we can say that he may have created an atmosphere in which such targeting arose.”

But other observers are more blunt in assigning blame to Trump and the forces his campaign has unleashed. Over the past few months, there have been incidents that paint a picture of the atmosphere in question. 

“Once Donald Trump entered the scene, something changed. … Suddenly a lot of people who were normally in shadowed corners of the internet felt emboldened,” said Jason Weixelbaum, a historian and a doctoral student at American University in Washington, D.C., who has also been the target of Twitter hatred for his work — his dissertation focuses on American businesses in Nazi Germany. 

More backlash — and questionable intentions

In June, Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Rabbi Susan Goldberg participated in “Stop Trump: Vigil Against Violence and Hate.” She tweeted a photo of herself and several other Jews bearing signs reading “Jews Against Trump” and used the hashtag #weveseenthisbefore, which has been in use over the past few months to rouse Jews to action against Trump’s campaign. 

The response to the tweet was immediate and vitriolic from white supremacists, Goldberg said. One said that “Jews have always been antagonizing the ethnic interests of white people,” while another gleefully tweeted that “Jewish rejections of Trump are his biggest endorsements.”

In early July, the Trump campaign re-tweeted an image of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” shown in front of a pile of money and accompanied by a red, six-pointed star. Was the image a reference to Jews and money, a well-traveled anti-Semitic trope, or was the star — as the Trump campaign alleged — benign, meant to evoke a sheriff’s badge? Was it just a careless social media share, an absence of due diligence by the social media team, or a willful oversight meant to appeal to the white nationalists who had identified Trump as their great hope to make America white again? 

The campaign eventually converted the star into a circle, but didn’t apologize or admit it made a mistake in sourcing the original image. Nor did it condemn the type of content or commit to increased vigilance about sourcing material so it wouldn’t happen again. 

Those who responded negatively to this image and the campaign’s lack of responsibility for circulating it were met with a barrage of anti-Semitic images and comments that invoked the Holocaust. In the case of 25-year-old Laura Silverman, one message read, “I would like you to take a nap in an oven”; another featured a pile of ashes with the caption “Straight Outta Auschwitz.” 

Just last week, media mogul Russell Simmons explained in a video for Fortune why Trump, his friend for 30 years, is not fit to be president: “I’ve heard anti-Semitic things, not blatant, but pretty clear that he was harboring some, we all harbor some hate, right? And the fear is that his statements would take people who would never even admit to having those seeds of hate in them and one of those seeds, in those people, would say things they’d never even imagine saying, and that became the norm.” 

How far does it go?

The hate, while disturbing and graphic and suddenly visible to many who might not have believed that such sentiments could even exist, may actually be louder than it is widespread. 

So said Ben Shapiro — a conservative columnist who is on record as being anti-Trump and who landed at No. 1 on the list of targeted reporters released by the ADL — on his internet television program “The Ben Shapiro Show” last week. He pointed out that the report links Trump support to what he characterized as “a small but loud amount of supporters who tweet gas chamber memes at people,” but that the “vast majority of Trump supporters find this sort of stuff absolutely reprehensible” and  “to overestimate the percentage of the population would be wrong and foolish.”

Mandel said that the most remarkable and valuable part of the ADL report was the finding that about 1,600 accounts are responsible for 68 percent of the hate. 

“It’s much sexier to say there’s an explosion of hate,” she said, “but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This is 1,600 very loud accounts that had an amplified voice this election season.” 

After the election

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, the question those on the receiving end of this rise of hate are asking is whether it will vanish or wane come Nov. 8, or if hate — and its amplification via social media — is here to stay, regardless of who wins the presidency. 

“The seeds have been present for some time,” said Steven Windmueller, professor emeritus at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he taught courses on contemporary political issues and American Jewish affairs at the Los Angeles campus. 

“Election season itself, the campaign with both parties, has created a kind of ugliness and negativity where some of these voices have come to play and are more visible.”

Windmueller cited earlier attacks on Marco Rubio for “being too close to the Jews” or Bernie Sanders being seen as a spokesperson for “Jewish interests.” He also said that many factors contributed to the increase in hate speech: the rise of the alt-right, the development of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and the fact that Jews are “suddenly being seen as the establishment — high-profile journalists and even as candidates.” 

The new normal?

Mandel predicts — and hopes — that after this campaign season, “the intelligence community takes a serious look at the varied and scary ways that Russia tried to interfere with electoral process this year.” 

While the media have been blaming Trump for the hate tweets, she believes that “this is more Russia than it is him. He might be asking [Vladimir] Putin to do this. The actions of the Russians that we know about [WikiLeaks and Democratic National Committee hacks] are certainly changing the way this election is playing out.”

One of the major shifts will be for the Republican Party, Weixelbaum predicted, explaining that the “rise of existential racism is a culmination of the Republican Party dealing with the entropy between its voter coalitions, social conservatives, evangelicals and business folks,” a tension that he called “not sustainable over time.”

“Trump is not an aberration,” Weixelbaum said. “He’s a culmination, that what was pulling all those coalitions together was racism. Racism is not going to be something that’s going to be successful in a society that’s made up of a lot of ethnic groups, so the Republican Party has to dissolve and clean its own house, get away from the racist common thread or they’re going to be a regional party that may have a seat in Congress but can’t win the presidency.”

Windmueller said that the Jewish community’s national organizations, as well as its local community relations agencies, will also have to “push back against this being accepted conduct and discourse.” He noted the importance of having grass-roots interfaith, inter-ethnic coalitions and communities of diversity speaking with one voice.

“The most important step is for those who believe that it’s OK to extol these kinds of words and views to see that they’re being pushed back not just by Jews who are upset but Christians and Muslims and others. There’s a great, angry divide in the country but the solutions will come in collaborative efforts, not with the language of the street or the language of hate,” he said. “The question is what happens on the 9th of November. Hopefully we will take a deep sigh and address these real serious challenges.”

Windmueller paused to point out that Nov. 9 also marks Kristallnacht, the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass pogrom in 1938 that he called “the beginning of the end of German Jewry.”

“It’s so eerie when you put the date up against history. It struck me immediately as an interesting contrast,” he said, then paused again. “Hopefully a contrast.”

I got hate mail: Anti-Semitism on Twitter

On Aug. 31, I sat and listened to Donald Trump’s eagerly anticipated immigration speech in Phoenix. And tears began streaming down my face.

Trump’s speech was filled with racist, xenophobic slurs and fear-mongering. It was counter to the founding values of our country. It was also contrary to the primary teachings and values of Judaism. Providing welcome to the stranger (because we were once strangers) is mentioned more than 36 times in the Torah. 

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).

I needed to speak out as a human being, as an American and as a Jew.

I went to Twitter, where I began to “live tweet.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, a “tweet” is a comment of a maximum of 140 characters. To “live tweet” means that you are commenting on an event currently in progress. It’s like having a huge group of people discussing together from all over the world. It’s usually awesome.

Your tweets show on your Twitter friends’ “feed” and evidently, they are also public. I am uncertain about the algorithms of Twitter.

I’m conscious about who I accept as “Twitter friends.” I check to make sure someone is not racist or sexist or lurid. If so, I decline.

By the end of the night, I had begun to receive, from people I do not know, and with whom I am not “Twitter friends,” hateful messages that stunned me. I tweeted, sarcastically:

“Well that was fun. Just blocked 10 ppl with Hitler/racist/white supremacist/ views.”

I went to bed after posting a beautiful photo with the words, “I can’t go to bed without putting love & beauty out into the world,” because I didn’t want the ugliness of the evening to be how I ended the day.

By the next morning, my Twitter wall was littered with hundreds of messages, many accompanied by photos of Hitler, crematoriums, swastikas, caricatures of Jews, and transport trains.

These messages were not from friends. I don’t know these people.

It was landslide of enormous hatred.  Even though I was tweeting about immigrants and refugees from around the world, what was directed at me was about being a Jew. Maybe because my twitter handle is @RabbiJill. Maybe because Donald Trump’s candidacy has emboldened a sick undercurrent of hatred to emerge.

In my entire life, I have never experienced this volume of anti-Semitism. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish suburb of Chicago. However, as an adult, we lived in places where we were the only Jews on the block.

At first, I literally felt sick to my stomach. 

And then, I got angry.

These people, who don’t even know me, wanted to silence me.

And it’s not going to happen.

My husband and family were concerned. My grown kids checked my privacy settings to be sure our home address or phone numbers were not public. A few of the messages were absolutely threatening (like the one where someone took my profile photo and superimposed “Jewish Propaganda” on it.)

After some research, I had a plan. I took screenshots of each tweet. I blocked people and I reported many to Twitter. If a tweet is offensive or harmful, you can ask Twitter to investigate. If the user is found to be violating Twitter decency rules,  the account can be closed. 

I reported more than 60 people. I haven’t heard a word from Twitter (yet.) Its employees might be busy. There is an uptick in the amount of hate speech being reported. I’m not alone.

Some friends advised me to ignore the tweets and to not give them any attention.

I don’t agree. 

I believe it is our duty to expose this hate.

People need to know that Donald Trump’s candidacy has made it legitimate to spew this vileness. He has made it acceptable to be “politically incorrect.” The dike has broken and it’s ugly. Better that it be out in the open.

We say in Jewish circles, “Never again.” 

It’s not only “never again” for the slaughter of millions.

It is also “never again” to let this kind of hate spill over without comment.

Here are a few other gleanings from this experience: 1) Facebook is a love-fest compared with Twitter. When I posted about this situation on Facebook, I received so much loving support it made me cry (with gratitude).

I’m not quitting Twitter. I have made friends — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists from all over the world. Good, kind, funny people. I’m not going to be chased away from relationships that give me hope and make me laugh. I also learn things on Twitter that I don’t elsewhere. Why let them win?

Except for Native Americans, we are all immigrants. The prosperity we enjoy in this country is only possible because our ancestors were able to come here and thrive.

When I see the pictures of the children of Aleppo, Syria, and other refugees wandering, looking for a safe place, my heart opens. It is my deep belief that we are better because of our diversity.

Our job on planet Earth is to build bridges, not walls. The country that I want to be in, is one that welcomes all, and where love is stronger than fear.


Rabbi Jill Zimmerman founded the Jewish Mindfulness Network (JMN). She was rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, Temple Beth El in Riverside and Etz Rimon in Carlsbad. In Jerusalem, she worked at the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Her website is ravjill.com.

Why are some of Donald Trump’s ‘worst’ tweets sent on Jewish holidays?

After the shooting death of Dwyane Wade’s cousin in August, Donald Trump tweeted, “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”

The previous month, he posted to Twitter a six-pointed star containing the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” stamped on an image of Hillary Clinton and hundred-dollar bills.

A few weeks before that, the Republican presidential nominee responded to the Orlando nightclub massacre with a tweet saying, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

These tweets have more in common than just being ill-advised. They were also all blasted into the public discourse on Jewish holidays: Shabbat, Shabbat and Shavuot, respectively. And they suggest to at least one friend of Trump’s family that when the Republican candidate’s Orthodox Jewish daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are off observing the holy days, Trump loses two of his most important filters.

In her profile of Ivanka Trump published Wednesday in the Huffington Post Highline magazine, Hannah Seligson credits the theory to an anonymous friend of the would-be first daughter and her husband. (Seligson’s list also includes the example of a Shabbat tweet of an image of Donald Trump as a train, a meme “tangentially” associated with the white supremacist alt-right movement.)

According to Seligson, the friend’s observation was that “some of Donald’s worst tweets of the campaign” came on Jewish holidays when Ivanka Trump and Kushner were “off the grid.” The couple observes the rabbinic laws that proscribe work or the use of electronic devices, among other things, on Shabbat, Shavuot and other holidays.

“It could be a big problem if the people who make our president not crazy aren’t available one day a week,” the friend told Seligson.

Of course, Trump has sparked outrage on days with no special Jewish significance. This summer alone, he has said gun rights supporters could take action if Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, is elected; called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”; suggested the mother of a Muslim-American soldier killed in action was not  “allowed” to speak at the Democratic National Convention, and accused a “Mexican” federal judge of being biased by his background.

Amid public outcry, Trump went on to tweet about all these subjects, in some cases repeatedly. But the controversies didn’t start on Twitter.

If the theory about Jewish holidays is true, then, Ivanka Trump and her husband are most effective at reining in Donald Trump specifically before he gets himself into Twitter trouble. Ivanka Trump “is extremely scared of her father, like everyone else,” an anonymous Trump adviser tells Seligson. “She knows you can’t push him. She knows once he goes off on these things, he won’t back down.”

Kushner, a real estate tycoon in his own right, is “deferential” to Donald Trump too, according to Seligson.

Trump is a prolific tweeter, lobbing thousands of insults at at least 258 different targets on the social network, according to The New York Times’s politics blog, The Upshot.

And tweets he made before the campaign — before, one supposes, Ivanka Trump and Kushner would have started weighing in — have since come back to haunt him.

As Clinton pointed out in her July foreign policy speech cum Trump takedown, her rival tweeted in 2012 that the Chinese invented global warming.

In April 2013, Trump criticized Jon Stewart in a tweet, referring to “The Daily Show”  host by his given name, Jonathan Leibowitz. Many observers took that as an anti-Semitic put-down.

And on Wednesday night, Trump was on the defensive during a candidates forum over a tweet he posted in May 2013, suggesting that military rape is the inevitable consequence of putting “men & women together.”

For what’s its worth, all three tweets went out on a weekday.

Bianca Jagger apologizes for tweeting link to neo-Nazi website

Bianca Jagger, a human rights activist and ex-wife of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, apologized for tweeting a link to a neo-Nazi website and later said she was “mortified.”

Jagger tweeted the link, which includes a list of British lawmakers who voted for the Iraq War, early Tuesday to her 54,000 followers. The tweet said “List of UK #MPs who voted for #IraqWar – Please read it carefully, understand why they want @jeremycorbyn out.”

The list was on the Metapedia website, which was founded by a Swedish neo-Nazi in 2006 and describes itself as an “alternative encyclopaedia.”

 

In addition to saying how each lawmaker voted, the list includes a notes section in which they are each identified by descriptions such as “Jewess,” “Connected to Labour Friends of Israel,” “married to Jew,” “openly homosexual,” “Negro” or “Negress.”

Jagger tweeted an apology two hours later after her first post, which had been set to automatically retweet.

“I’m terribly sorry for posting a despicable tweet by mistake, I posted it at 4.15 in the morning and didn’t properly read its content,” the tweet said.

Jagger, 71, runs the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and also serves as a Council of Europe goodwill ambassador.

She followed that tweet with one saying “I’m mortified, I thought it was a list of members of Parliament who voted against the war in Iraq. You all know I am against racism, bigotry.”

Despite the apologies and deletion of the original tweet, followers continued to berate Jagger.

Trump defends Star of David tweet: ‘Just a star’

Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his controversial “Star of David” tweet, insisting the “sick” media stirred it up to cover up for Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview on Saturday. 

“It was a star. A star. Like, a star,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Wednesday. “It’s a star! Have you all seen this? It’s a star. My boy comes home from school, Baron, he draws stars all over the place, I never said, ‘Oh, that’s the Star of David, Baron, don’t!’ And it actually looks like a sheriff’s star, but I don’t know.”

In a lengthy rant, Trump blamed the media of “racially profiling.” 

“Behind it, it had money. ‘Oh but there’s money behind it,’” Trump said, imitating what he said was a report on CNN. “So actually, they’re racially profiling. They’re profiling, not us, because why are they bringing this up?”

“To me it was just a star,” Trump continued. “But when I really looked at it, it looked like a sheriff star.” 

Trump went on to defend his social media director, Dan Scavino, and pointed to his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and their three children to prove he’s not anti-Jewish. “Dan is a really wonderful guy. I didn’t get angry at him,” he said. “I said, ‘Dan, that’s a star! Don’t worry about it.’” 

On Tuesday, ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt 

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Sarah Silverman target of anti-Semitic rant by ex-reality TV star Tila Tequila

Former reality TV star Tila Tequila accused Sarah Silverman and the Jews of killing Jesus before saying the comedian was next on a “celebrity sacrifice” list.

Tequila, born Tila Nguyen, was responding on Monday to a fan’s suggestion that a Donald Trump presidency would bring Jesus back to life.

“Jesus will come back too just don’t tell the Jews about it,” Twitter user Kaiser Poopfist I tweeted at Tequila.

The former “A Shot at Love” star wrote back that Silverman and the Jews should be informed.

The triple parentheses around “(((People)))” is known as the echo symbol, which is used by white supremacists and anti-Semites to identify Jews online. It was added to the Anti-Defamation League’s hate symbols database earlier this month after it appeared in a publicized anti-Semitic attack on Jewish New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman.

Silverman responded to Tequila’s attack in comedic fashion on Twitter.

As Raw Story reported, Tequila continued her rant by saying she would take vengeance on Silverman.

This is not the first time Tequila has expressed anti-Semitic views. In April, she claimed that she was the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Last year she was kicked off of the show “Celebrity Big Brother” for wearing a Nazi uniform.