BDS ban is not about free speech
Activists on one side of this debate have maligned anti-boycott laws as requiring a “loyalty oath to Israel,” arguing that “the government cannot force people to subscribe to a specific political viewpoint.” When so framed, these laws appear to be intolerable censorship. The First Amendment enables anyone to freely express their views without fear of government retribution – even if those views are racist or anti-Semitic. But ACTING on such views is in many cases illegal, particularly when the effect is discriminatory. So while First Amendment arguments must be evaluated in these lawsuits, ignoring the well-established distinction between speech and action grossly misrepresents the controversy.
Contrary to the challengers’ free speech narrative, these state laws do not actually impact anyone’s ability to hold, express or advocate any viewpoint. Instead, they only require businesses seeking government contracts (or investments) to certify they are not engaged in discriminatory boycotts. This is actually milder than many other anti-discrimination laws at the federal, state and local level, which require companies – regardless of their financial relationship with any government – to disregard traits such as religion or national origin in hiring practices and business dealings. The laws in question here, instead of directly regulating conduct, are intended to spare the public from subsidizing companies that act contrary to the collective interest.
The key question that free speech advocates (and the courts) have to answer is whether a boycott of Israel, in its current form, is merely a political viewpoint rather than a form of discrimination. For if such a boycott does nothing but express a political viewpoint, these laws should be struck down. The collective interest is never served by stifling one side of a genuine debate. However, if a boycott represents discrimination against a protected category, it would be on par with any other uncontroversial law safeguarding public funds from being used toward discriminatory ends.
While much discourse on this subject has uncritically assumed Israel boycotts are the former, there are good reasons to believe they’re the latter.
Most Israel boycotts today are conducted in solidarity with the BDS movement, founded in 2005. As just the latest in a long line of Jewish boycotts, BDS is arguably discriminatory in both its goals and its effect. Ignoring countries engaged in far more egregious behavior, the movement singles out Israel as exceptionally and uniquely evil among all nations of the world. It spuriously places all blame for a two-sided conflict on “Jewish colonialism.” And though there may certainly be times when Israeli policies or government actions warrant criticism, BDS does not merely target any individual Israeli policy or government. Rather, it rejects Jewish self-determination outright. Co-founder Omar Barghouti has said he opposes a Jewish state “in any part of Palestine,” which BDS sees as being a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Three board members have resigned from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which rescinded its award to African-American activist Angela Davis, allegedly due in part to complaints from Jewish leaders.
The resignations follow controversy over the museum and educational center’s decision last week to withdraw the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from Davis. She was intended to receive the award next month in a ceremony that has since been canceled.
Davis, a Birmingham, Alabama, native and leading civil rights activist, is an outspoken critic of Israel and an advocate of the movement to boycott the country. She also was a far-left leader in activist movements of the 1960s and ’70s.
The board members who resigned Wednesday were its chairman, Mike Oatridge; its first vice chair, Walter Body; and its secretary, Janice Kelsey. Their names were removed Thursday afternoon from the museum’s website.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in a statement that the decision to rescind the award, which was announced in September, came “after protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.”
Davis wrote in the pro-Palestinian publication Mondoweiss that she learned her “long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.”
Who made it an issue is still not clear. None of the people who reportedly were involved in the decision agreed to a request from JTA for comment, including the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s CEO, Richard Friedman, and the civil rights institute’s president, Andrea Taylor, who did not respond to a call and text message.
The polticisation around Israel and Palestine choked any voices that wanted to document these stories, as though they would legitimise Israel. This perverse logic meant many of these oral histories were lost, helped the claim, pushed by, that Muslims were part of SS Gestapo Units in Bosnia – who were involved in rounding up and exterminating Jews – dominate. This is true and cannot be washed over. It highlights how the SS used Islam and antisemitism to attract some who were Muslims from the Balkan regions. Serbian nationalists used this piece of history to whip up hatred against Bosnian Muslims between 1992 and 1995.
Yet, the vast majority of Muslims fought against Hitler and the courageous stories of Muslims saving Jews are now a forgotten history. As a Muslim, a part of my heritage has disappeared, hyper-politicised into a silence that will stay for eternity.
You would think that hosting an exhibition highlighting some of these stories would be a chance for Muslims to reclaim their history at a time when so many wrongly align Islam and Muslims with just terrorism and extremism. But a decade after launching the Righteous Muslims booklet, only a handful of the three milion British Muslims even know of any stories of Muslims who saved Jews in the Holocaust. I put this down to those who believe they are speaking for the Palestinians by denying Muslims their own history and heritage.
I have met Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem who want to hear the stories of Muslims who saved Jews in the Holocaust. Granted there are Palestinians who will revere and laud the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who asked Hitler to help an Arab revolt against the British in 1941, but there are others who are ashamed of that history. The latter have said to me that “Muslims need pride in their actions when they have done the right thing”, when I talked about the stories of Righteous Muslims.
Who exactly are those seeking boycotts against Yad Vashem speaking for? They are not speaking for the Palestinians. They are also not speaking up for Muslims. They are speaking up for those who want to keep the status quo going, the very status quo that throttled the life and voices out of the stories of Muslims who saved Jews.
Much like Haj Amin al-Husseini, they are on the wrong side of history and worst still, on the side of those who deny the voices of the dead and murdered from speaking to the living today. We cannot allow this to happen, for the sake of all of our histories.
IsraellyCool: The Music Video Driving Israel Haters Nuts
This rap song by Black-Jewish rapper Young GravyTM is everything (hat tip: Yoel).
And the best endorsement?
If someone like Ariel Gold thinks it’s gross, you know it is the bomb.
This black Jewish rapper is 🔥
“You say you value social justice, are you kidding us? What the hell gives you the right to tell us who’s indiginous” https://t.co/bVYfKCPoEt
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) 9 January 2019
Victor Rosenthal: The First Actual Palestinian-American in Congress (and He Was Jewish)
Rashida Tlaib is being called the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress. There have also been several congressmen claiming Palestinian descent: Justin Amash who represents Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, and John E. Sununu, who served in the House from 1997-2003.
But did you know that there was a Palestinian-American in the House long before any of them, who was in fact the only one who was actually a citizen of “Palestine,” and who had a Palestinian passport? And that he was Jewish?
A word about what “Palestinian” means. There have been between three political entities that could be called “Palestine:” the first was a Roman province created when the Romans joined what was formerly called Judea to Roman Syria and called it “Syria Palaestina,” in order to irritate the Jews left alive after they sacked Jerusalem. That didn’t stick, and Judea went back to being called Judea. Then there was the British Mandate for Palestine, which existed from 1923 to 1948, and encompassed several provinces of the former Ottoman Empire. It was replaced by the State of Israel. Finally there is today’s Palestinian Authority, which was created by the Oslo Accords, and governs some 95% of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and theoretically all of Gaza. It is not a state and cannot issue legal passports.
John Hans Krebs z”l (born Hans Joachim Krebs in Berlin, Germany, in 1927) moved to Mandate Palestine with his parents in 1933. As a young man he served in the pre-state Hagana, and then came to the US to study law at the University of California at Berkeley in 1946, when he was almost 20. He got his law degree in 1950, served in the US Army from 1952-54, and received US citizenship in 1954. He also married his wife, Hanna in that year.
John held several political jobs in Fresno, California in 1965-74. He was elected to Congress from California’s 17th district as a Democrat in 1974, and served until 1979.
John was simply the nicest guy you could ever meet, soft-spoken, but very intelligent and knowledgeable; not at all a typical politician. I can’t imagine what he would have thought about Rashida Tlaib’s vulgar remark about the president. Although I suspect John thought I was a bit extreme politically, he always had a big smile for me.
And he was the first Palestinian-American member of Congress.
John Podhoretz: Steve King couldn’t be more wrong about ‘Western civilization’
King’s words this week drawing a parallel between “white supremacy” and “Western Civilization” are especially pernicious.
For one thing, Western civilization isn’t “white,” if by “white” one is referring to skin color. Much of what we consider the roots of Western civilization comes from Asia Minor and North Africa.
Ancient Jerusalem is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, and its residents were certainly of a darker hue. St. Augustine, the greatest Christian religious figure of the first millennium, was from Hippo in North Africa and likely a member of the Berber tribe. He may not have been black in the modern sense, but his skin tone was surely closer to black than white.
In America, “white” generally refers to the Northern European settlers of our continent — English, Scotch, Irish. They didn’t view the later immigrants to these shores — Italians, Central Europeans, Russians, Jews — as having common racial traits with them.
Italians were as hated at the turn of the century as Mexicans are now. And yet Italy was the homeland of the Renaissance, the great explosion of Western civilization in the 15th century.
Want more? The greatest of Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin, was the grandson of an African once captured and brought to St. Petersburg to serve as a child slave for a czar. And there is the case of our rock-star Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, who came from the Caribbean island of Nevis and about whom there is varying evidence that he might either be of Jewish or black stock.
The greatness of our civilization can’t be found in its elevation of “whiteness” above all, because it does no such thing. That idea is the core of Nazism, not Americanism. “White supremacy” treats being “white” as a tribal identity. But Western civilization’s greatness lies not only in the beauty of its art and the wisdom of its thought but in the universality of its message.
That message extends from the Torah’s and Jesus’ radical leveling of humanity as the children of one God to the American enshrinement of the idea that “all men are created equal.”
Fascinating interview in Hamodia by Sara Lehmann with the protagonist of the film Shadow in Baghdad, Linda Menuhin, whose father was abducted in 1970s Iraq and never seen again. Linda will be showing the film at SOAS in London on 17 January 2019.
How did the war affect your everyday life as a Jew?
They started to come after the Jews. They enacted many measures against the Jews. Jews were kicked out of social clubs, not admitted to university, not allowed to work anywhere. There was a kind of tightening of the rope around us. There was also incitement against Jews on the radio, in the newspapers. Even our Muslim friends and neighbors were scared to show any relationship with Jews. Just like in Germany.
What happened in Germany was the result of long-simmering anti-Semitism that gradually found expression in German laws against the Jews. But despite anti-Semitic allusions in the Koran, it seems as if this anti-Semitism had national and political origins.
Yes, you are absolutely right. Somehow those allusions didn’t float to the surface all these years. First of all, Jews pre-dated Islam in Iraq by 1300 years. So we were the indigenous people and we really didn’t feel anti-Semitism. Apart from the incident of the Farhud, anti-Semitic acts were exceptions to the rule. When the Baath Party came to power, they tried to intimidate the whole country. The best way is to start with the Jews, the most vulnerable component of the population. And then they went after the Christians and afterwards the Muslims themselves. I always say, first Saturday people, then Sunday people, and then Friday people.
In the documentary you talk about the public executions of Jews at Fahrir Square. Can you describe that episode and how it affected you?
In 1969, following a fake trial, Iraqi authorities publicly hanged 14 people accused of spying for Israel, nine of whom were Jews. I remember there was a live transmission on the radio of the fake trials for months. It was a terrible period for the Jews. During that time, we used to fast every Monday and Thursday and pray, as was customary in a time of trepidation for Jews. We prayed things would improve. In 1968, more and more people were arrested, interrogated, beaten in prisons, and never returned home. A 40-year-old relative of mine was taken to be questioned and came back in a body bag. Eventually they even stopped returning bodies and there was no burial. It was a cruel and violent regime that affected everybody.
The leader of the Al Quds Day march will not face prosecution for saying “Zionists” were “responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell”, after the campaign group that tried to put him in the dock lost a legal fight to do so.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) sought to privately prosecute Nazim Ali for a speech he gave at the 2017 march in London where he said: “Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.”
He also said: “Careful, careful, careful, of those Rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who’ve got blood on their hands, who agree with the killing of British soldiers. Do not allow them in your centres.”
But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) intervened just a week before the case was due to go trial, saying it did not believe a prosecution would succeed and shut it down.
The CAA launched a legal challenge but on Wednesday the High Court upheld the CPS decision.
In the judgment, it was revealed the CPS halted the prosecution because it did not believe anything Mr Ali said was “threatening, either explicitly or implicitly” and therefore a prosecution under Section 5 of the Public Order Act would likely fail.
The law forbids public behaviour that causes “harassment, alarm or distress” to those nearby.
The CPS also felt Mr Ali “qualified his statements by blaming the Grenfell tragedy on Tory Party policies” and “thus merely engaged in strident criticism of the Government”, Lord Justice Hickinbottom noted.
A Scottish Labour councillor has been reinstated into the party after she was suspended for suggesting a joint front page by three Jewish newspapers condemning antisemitism was a Mossad bid to discredit Jeremy Corbyn.
Mary Bain Lockhart, a Fife councillor, wrote this on Facebook in July after the three papers published a front page saying “Enough is Enough” over the party’s antisemitism crisis.
The JC, Jewish News, and the Jewish Telegraph all warned that a government led by Mr Corbyn would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.
In response, Ms Lockhart wrote: “If the purpose is to generate opposition to antisemitism, it has backfired spectacularly. (I)f it is to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader, it is unlikely to succeed, and is a shameless piece of cynical opportunism.
“And if it is a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour Government pledged to recognise Palestine as a State, it is unacceptable interference in the democracy of Britain.”
She added: “Israel is a racist State. And since the Palestinians are also Semites, it is an antisemitic State. It is time we stopped propitiating.”
I WAS stopped short last year. At the height of the extraordinary events around those at the heart of Corbyn’s Labour regime, when anti-Semitism seemingly found a place in a potential party of government for the first time in my lifetime, I fought to reassure those in my local community who were deeply concerned.
“In the final analysis,” I said to one elderly gentleman, “no UK government would ever act to encourage this disgraceful anti-Semitism.” My constituent looked me in the eye and replied: “My family were told that once before and I alone am here to remember that”.
It’s too easy to underestimate the anger and fear of the Jewish community in Scotland in 2019. Some 50,000 strong after the war, it is now barely a fifth of that and some 50% of the community live in my Eastwood constituency.
Since the Jews arrived in number at the turn of the 19th century they have been a huge presence in Scotland in all walks of life, including community leaders. However, the community is in decline and increasingly feels isolated and undervalued.
Too often concerns over the policies of Israel are conflated with open hostility to Jews resident, visiting or studying in Scotland. Ignorance is the champion of much anti-Semitism and ever has it been.
NGO Monitor Podcast: “Human Rights & Hot Coffee”
On NGO Monitor’s “Human Rights and Hot Coffee” podcast, we discuss Israeli current events through the lens of human rights, international law, humanitarian aid, and international relations.
Episode 8: What influences children to commit acts of terror? How does education play a role? What changes can UNRWA and UNICEF make to prevent radicalization? IMPACT-SE CEO Marcus Sheff explains.
Conspiracists think big. In fact, thinking big is a requirement for something to be a conspiracy theory in the first place. It’s the belief in shadowy entities more powerful than oneself that turns political and cultural observations into conspiracy; it means that you are always punching up, never down, because the enemy is always more powerful than you. The internet is an agonistic medium driven by conflict and also one that creates powerful distortions of scale and in both of those respects, amplifies the conspiratorial tendency.
These were the historical and social forces, presumably, informing a comment I received on my blog last year: “Jews: your time is coming. The goyim are awakening once again.” Thanks to the internet, the commenter is able to find Jews and Jewish proxies everywhere and propose his own counter-conspiracy, that of the awakened goyim, to battle the old warhorse of Evil Globalist International Jewry. Likewise, the embattled adherents of QAnon, the overelaborate Deep State conspiracy theory based on cryptic 4chan posts from a supposed insider, are empowered by their conviction that they have joined forces with a righteous counter-conspiracy that is fighting against anti-Trump forces from inside the belly of government.
How is it that the internet is so conducive to generating conspiracies, counter-conspiracies, and similar departures from reality? It has to do with language. The social internet—fast-paced, terse, and unrevised—is an environment tailored to privileging amorphous ideas over real people and real life. A single hashtag (or Facebook group, or Reddit) can unite thousands, but they may only have the faintest idea of exactly what’s connecting them. It’s the conspiracy that unifies them. QAnon denizens are driven by different desires and fears but the conspiracy theory unites them against a common, powerful enemy. By putting the words of these theories front and center, in a raw and huge torrent, the internet makes it that much harder for reality to gain any purchase.
Online, where anonymous hordes threaten to burst into comment feeds and discussion boards at any moment, any single person will easily feel persecuted by an overwhelming mass of ideological, political, and/or ethnic opponents. Whether these opponents are actually so powerful is harder to judge, but the internet will affirm the sense of just how outnumbered you are. If going on Twitter doesn’t spook me enough as to the countless people who want me insulted, disenfranchised, or dead, I can always look warily at Gab, the Twitter clone known for its alt-right userbase. Its hundreds of thousands of mostly anonymous users will frighten me without my even having to create an account.
Easily located through an internet site name search, FF displays a good deal of its content to guests, with further layers of password-protected material for registered users. Some of this more sensitive content, explained Joanna Mendelson — senior investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center On Extremism in Los Angeles — includes the profiles and contact details of other FF participants.
“Sites like these serve to unify a disenfranchised white supremacist population,” Mendelson told The Algemeiner during an interview on Wednesday. “Fascist Forge’s explicit purpose is to radicalize and further indoctrinate an angry subset of people.”
Critically, that subset has included racist shooters like Dylann Roof, who murdered nine African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, and Robert Bowers, who gunned down 11 Jewish worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last October. Roof was convicted in 2016 and is currently on death row, while Bowers is awaiting trial on 44 separate federal crimes charges.
Both Roof and Bowers were prolific users of social media, and sites like FF function as both a destination for neo-Nazis as a well as a gateway to other propaganda sites — such as “Siege,” a swastika-embossed political review that has been linked approvingly by several of FF’s members.
Importantly, as Mendelson pointed out, sites like FF present themselves as competitors to better-known figures on the American far-right — such as the “white identity” ideologue Richard Spencer — who refrain from identifying themselves as National Socialists, and who are lampooned for being internet warriors and not much more.
Edgar Davidson: The Board of Deputies decides to fight Spurs fans
I have now come to the conclusion that the Board of Deputies actually do more harm than good to the British Jewish community. Incessant antisemitism in the Labour Party? They fall over backwards to appease senior Labour politicians. Incessant media lies and demonization against Israel? No interest at all (indeed they even promote some of the lies). Violent attacks against Jews who support Israel? Not their business. But finding antisemitism in one of the few places where there is proud identification with Jews and Israel (upsetting thousands of football supporters for no good reason at all in the process) ……that’s their current main concern.
A hate speech case against Norwegian rapper Kaveh Kholardi, who last summer in a concert in Oslo cursed the “f***ing Jews,” has been dismissed by Oslo Police and the state attorney, Norwegian newspaper Dagen reported.
Kholardi was hired by the City of Oslo to sing at a family festival intended to celebrate diversity last June. Instead, after asking if there were any Jews in the audience, he said “f***ing Jews,” adding “just kidding.”
Christine Thune, a spokeswoman for the Oslo municipality, told the Verdens Gang daily at the time that the organizers had complained to Kholardi. Anne Christine Kroepelin said the whole “point of the event was diversity and inclusion,” and that rapper’s apparent expression of antisemitism was “exactly the opposite of what the organizers wanted to promote.”
Ervin Kohn, Leader of the Jewish Community in Norway, demanded an apology from the rapper who answered on Facebook that he is “neither a racist nor antisemite,” and that the reference to Jews during the concert was taken out of context” and was only a joke.
But on June 10, five days before the concert, Kholardi wrote on Twitter: “f***ing Jews are so corrupt.”
CAMERA’s Israel office today elicited Agence France Presse’s removal of a description of Mehdi Nemmouche, charged with shooting four people dead at a Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014, as a “‘very polite’ Frenchman.”
Today’s AFP article, “Jewish museum terror attack trial opens in Brussels,” originally began:
The trial opened Thursday of a ‘very polite’ Frenchman accused of shooting four people dead at a Jewish museum in Brussels, allegedly the first Syria jihad veteran to sate a terror attack in Europe.
CAMERA contacted AFP asking why this disputed claim about the suspected murderer’s personality warranted mention, let alone prominent placement in the very first sentence. Those readers who got as far as the 20th paragraph learned that a French journalist held captive in Syria, allegedly by Nemmouche, has a very different view of the suspected murderer. AFP buried the following:
“When I hear his lawyers say he is someone who can be very polite, very urbane, sure. He is a clever one,” former hostage Didier Francois told Europe 1 radio.
“But, as for me, I will never forget his capacity for violence.”
Notably, the first sentence of the French article does not describe Nemmouche as “very polite.”
But perhaps the most surprising development is one which definitely falls outside the BBC’s conventional framing of Israeli politics: the announcement by a Muslim female candidate that she will run in the Likud party’s primaries next month.
“Dima Tayeh, from the village of Kafr Manda in the Galilee, made headlines on Tuesday when she gave an interview on Hadashot TV news announcing she was running in the right-wing party’s primaries, praising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defending the controversial Nation-State Law, which many see as discriminating against Israel’s Arab minority.
If elected, she would be the first Arab Muslim lawmaker in the Likud party. […]
Tayeh, who has previously taken part in a group of Arab Israelis who toured the US to campaign against the BDS movement that seeks to boycott Israel, said she has been a proud Likud member for six years.”
Whether or not Ms Tayeh will gain a place on the Likud list remains to be seen but should she be successful it will be interesting to see if and how that story – which defies the BBC’s standard framing of both Israeli politics and Israeli Arabs – will be presented to audiences.
The BBC’s Asian Network radio station managed to raise some eyebrows on January 9th when it posted – and later deleted – a Tweet promoting a phone-in programme.
The synopsis to that programme – which was titled using the asylum seeker’s name Rahaf Al-Qunun – described the phone-in’s subject matter as follows:
“How do you feel about a Saudi woman’s decision to leave her family and religion? Qasa is asking this after 18 year old Rahaf Al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia and defied her family by leaving Islam.”
The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on Friday to force US President Donald Trump to permanently pick an anti-Semitism envoy, a position that has been left vacant since he took office.
The measure — called the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act — was approved by legislators on a 411-1 vote on the House floor. The only lawmaker to vote against the bill was Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan.
The bill would upgrade the State Department’s global anti-Semitism envoy to the ambassador level, which would impose a legal limit of 90 days for how long any administration can leave the job unfilled.
The impetus for such a bill, however, was Trump’s failure to pick someone for that opening over the last two years, despite frequent calls from Jewish groups that the role was needed as anti-Semitic incidents were on the rise. (h/t messy57)
Roseanne Barr told The Jerusalem Post this week that she was fired by ABC from the reboot of her sitcom due in part to antisemitism.
“I feel that what happened to me, a large part of it is antisemitism,” the Jewish actress told the Post in a phone interview on Thursday from her home in Hawaii. “I think it played a part – the fact that I was never allowed to explain what I meant – and what I meant was a commentary on Iran – so they purposely mischaracterized what I said and wouldn’t let me explain. And in haste they did something unprecedented that they’ve never done to any other artist. And at the base of that I think it’s because I am the most vocal person about Israel and BDS.”
Barr was fired by ABC in May, less than a day after she sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser in the Obama administration, writing: “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby=vj.”
Within hours, ABC said it was canceling Roseanne, which was rebooted earlier that year to massive ratings. At the time, the network said Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” The following month, the network decided to bring back the show but without Barr, and title it “The Conners.”
In the interview this week, Barr said the executives at ABC treated her unfairly because she is Jewish and supports Israel.
Four years ago, a heartbroken Bernard-Henri Levy found some solace in how more than a million Frenchmen marched through this city to protest extremism.
The Republican March, as it is known, took place on January 11, 2015, amid national mourning after Islamists gunned down 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and, two days later, four people at a Hyper Cacher kosher store. The silent protesters held signs reading ”I am Charlie,” “I am police” and “I am Jewish.”
That march was “something we have never seen before in France and perhaps anywhere,” Levy, a Jewish philosopher and celebrated author, said at the time. “It’s a kind of miracle, this national unity, this feeling of fraternity, this willingness by Parisians to go down to the street.”
Four years on, he had hoped it would be a watershed moment for French society, he told JTA on Wednesday.
Change “alas did not come” and the march’s “spirit and promise have been betrayed” by another wave of street protesters, he said: the “yellow vest” movement. What started out in the fall as a series of protests against a hike on fuel prices has been mired since in countless instances of violence against police and a substantial amount of anti-Semitic hate speech.
“Instead of a million people in the street, today we have thousands of homophobes, xenophobes who are anti-republican, anti-journalist and sometimes anti-Semitic. For these demonstrators, it’s as if the bloodbaths never happened,” said Levy, who is scheduled to speak on February 13 at the 92Y Jewish community center in New York about these and other issues.
Anti-Semitic incidents during protests by “yellow vests” — named for the reflective safety vests they wear — have included signs and slogans describing French President Emmanuel Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and their “puppet.”
Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi concentration camp guard who lived an unassuming life in New York City for decades until his past was revealed and he was deported to Germany last year, has died, German media reported Thursday. He was 95.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Westfaelische Nachrichten newspapers independently quoted German officials saying Palij died Wednesday in a care home in the town of Ahlen.
US Ambassador Richard Grenell, who lobbied for Germany to take Palij, said he’d been informed of the death. He credited US President Donald Trump with seeing through Palij’s August 2018 deportation after it had been stalled for a quarter-century.
“It would have been upsetting to many Americans if he had died in the US in what many viewed as a comfortable escape,” Grenell told The Associated Press.
A Jewish group has condemned Australian retail stores for stocking the Secret Hitler board game.
Online retail giant Ebay and franchise stores Australian Geographic, The Gamesmen and Gameology stock the game, where liberals have to outwit fascists.
Set during the 1920s in Weimar Republic Germany, two teams of five to 10 people compete by voting on a series of legislative proposals in the old Reichstag parliament, with one player acting as Adolf Hitler.
The Anti-Defamation Commission called on retailers to pull this product, retailing for between $50 and $60, from their shelves immediately.
‘This is beyond normal. What’s next, a board game set in the gas chambers and ovens of Auschwitz?, the Jewish group’s chairman Dvir Abramovich said.
‘There is nothing funny, entertaining, laughable or enjoyable about Hitler.
‘Just ask those who lost children, parents and relatives to his cruel and demonic regime.’
Secret Hitler was launched by the Chicago-based Goat, Wolf and Cabbage company in 2016, a year after releasing another game called Cards Against Humanity.
On the morning of Nov. 11, 2018, a crowd of almost 200 people gathered in the center of Trikala, a Greek city located some 300 kilometers north of Athens. Conversing mainly in Greek, but also in Hebrew, English, Italian, and German, they were waiting at one of the main entrances to the old Jewish quarter to participate in the unveiling of Trikala’s Holocaust Memorial. Erected to commemorate the city’s 139 Jewish victims, the memorial is a joint initiative of the Trikala government and the city’s Jewish community.
“It was an obligation to our citizens, to the Jewish Community, to the memory,” Dimitris Papastergiou, the mayor of Trikala, told me via email. The idea first surfaced in his conversation with Victor Venouziou, a native of Larissa who was raised as part of Trikala’s Jewish community and survived the Holocaust because the villagers of Amarantos—50 kilometers away, it was called Mastroyianni in the 1940s—hid him and his family. Last year Venouziou financed a monument in Amarantos to thank them. “Within five minutes we agreed that the city and the Municipality of Trikala also had to erect their own monument,” Papastergiou said.
The monument designed by the municipality, with input from Trikala’s Jewish community, is in the shape of a tear flanked by railway tracks. In the center is an olive tree and to the side is a column with an inscription in three languages: Greek, Hebrew, and English.
The unveiling brought together members of the Jewish communities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Larissa, Karditsa, Volos, Chalkis, Rhodes, and Corfu, as well as ambassadors and dignitaries from several foreign nations. Organized by the municipality of Trikala with the active participation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the Jewish Museum of Greece, and the Italian Embassy in Greece (Italy holds IHRA’s 2018 chairmanship), the ceremony was the culmination of a three-day Holocaust-remembrance program that included exhibitions, concerts, a book presentation, and a documentary screening.
President Barack Obama used a Bible belonging to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, took the oath of office on the Quran.
And on Tuesday, Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat to win statewide office in Florida, was sworn in as commissioner of agriculture using the first Hebrew Bible published in America.
Fried, the first Jewish woman to serve in the post in the Sunshine State, called the University of Florida, her alma mater, to ask if there was a special Bible she could use for the occasion.
Eilat is a must-visit for tourists in 2019, according to The New York Times, which Thursday released a ranking of 52 places to go in 2019.
The newspaper wrote that the coral reef, boasting hundreds of varieties of neon fish, sharks and stingrays, are the Red Sea resort’s main attraction, but it is the opening of the new Ramon Airport that opened Israel’s most southern city to the wider public.
Eilat is a “newly accessible Red Sea paradise,” the Times said.
With direct flights from European destinations, including Munich, Frankfurt, Prague and London, tourists are now be able to circumvent complicated travel options like charter flights from Tel Aviv or the long drive through the Negev desert, and land directly in the Timna Valley, just a 20 minute drive away from Eilat.
Ramon Airport is named in memory of the Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who perished in the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, and his son Assaf Ramon who died six years later when his F-16 fighter jet crashed.
The airport was inaugurated last July and will be able to handle some four million incoming tourists.
Specialized cleats worn by New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman in remembrance of the 11 people killed in the Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh have been sold for $10,000.
California-based Golden West Food Group purchased the cleats, and the company is donating the funds to Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston and Pittsburgh’s Jewish Federation.
Edelman wore the cleats last month in a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers as part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign.
In Remembrance. בזיכרון עץ חיים#StrongerThanHate
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) December 16, 2018
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