This week, Tablet looks back on 40 years of the Iranian Revolution.
In an excerpt from a new history of 20th-century Iran, the neglected story of the Jewish revolutionaries who participated in—or adapted to—the sweeping changes of 1979
When the anti-Shah upheavals of 1978 erupted, Iranian Jews found themselves, naturally, on both sides of the revolutionary movement: among its supporters and its opponents.
As violence intensified, many wounded protesters calling for the establishment of an Islamic Republic found sanctuary from the clashes in a rather surprising place: the Sapir Hospital (Bimaristan-i Sapir), the Jewish hospital in Tehran.
On Sept. 8, 1978, mass demonstrations erupted in Tehran. The Shah sent the army to shoot live ammunition at the crowd of protesters. This event became known as Black Friday.
“That Friday the head nurse, Ms. Farangis Hasidim, called me and told me that they are bringing many casualties to the hospital,” recalls Dr. Jalali, one of the senior officials in Sapir Hospital at that time. “I drove to the hospital but the Zhalah [avenue] was blocked, so I went by foot and there was shooting. … Since I was friendly with the ambulance-services people, almost 90 percent of the injured people came to Sapir Hospital, where we treated all of them in our four surgery rooms.”
On Dec. 11, 1978, one of the largest demonstrations against the Shah took place in Tehran. Newspapers called it a “demonstration of millions,” and it set a milestone in the struggle against the Shah’s regime. Jewish participation set records as well; according to some sources, 5,000 Jews participated in these protests.Other estimates were much higher. Hushang, a longtime leftist activist in the Jewish community and a member of the Association of Jewish Iranian Intellectuals (AJII), a Jewish leftist activist group, helped organize the massive Jewish appearance that day: “According to press reports close to 12,000 Jews participated in these protests that day,” he says. “The Jewish religious leaders marched in the front row and the rest of the Jews followed them, showing great solidarity with our Iranian compatriots.”
The PLO’s greatest single contribution to the Iranian Revolution was the formation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the Palestinian leader’s involvement with Iran didn’t end there
By the end of 1981, Arafat had very clearly lost favor in Tehran. To make things worse, two of his closest Iranian allies, Mohammad Montazeri and Mohammad Saleh Hosseini, would be assassinated that year—the former in an MEK bombing, the latter by Iraqi agents in Beirut. By then, the IRP had consolidated its grip on power within Iran and sidelined rival factions.
Likewise, within Lebanon, the dominant Iranian revolutionary faction—Hezbollah—had already begun cloning itself within its host country. Khomeini lieutenants like Hosseini had used connections with Fatah to recruit new cadres of Lebanese Shiite youth (among whom was a young man named Imad Mughniyeh) to their own banner. These recruits received military training in Fatah’s camps, but became part of a separate Khomeinist formation which was named after its Iranian progenitor.
In 1982, the PLO would be routed in Lebanon by the IDF, and was forced to withdraw its leadership under American protection to Tunis. By then the Iranians had already set up their own alternative structure to the PLO within Lebanon, formally known as Hezbollah.
Arafat would have one last dance with Iran before his death. After launching the Second Intifada against Israel, Arafat reached out to Iran for weapons. He purchased a freighter, the Karine A, in Lebanon, and the Iranians loaded it with 50 tons of weapons. Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh played an integral role in the operation. The IDF intercepted the ship in January 2002.
Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas.
By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned the Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.
Leaving no weapon unmobilized, Corbyn and his allies have also adopted the “intersectional” left’s insistence that Jews are too privileged to be considered victims of racism and as such, by definition, cannot experience “race hatred.” In this spirit, a local Labor group recently rejected a statement expressing sympathy with the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh on the grounds that it gave too much credence to the very concept of anti-Semitism.
Finally, even as Corbyn has made the denial of anti-Semitism a core principle of the left, he has made it clear that he is more than willing to support “good” Jewish groups—that is, those who share his ideology. These include the self-described radical British groups Jewdas (sic) and Jewish Voice for Labor, both of which have refashioned Judaism into a battle cry against Israel and Western civilization.
As for the bad Jews, those who dare to affiliate in any way with the state of Israel, they are entitled to neither tolerance nor sympathy when they are the objects of violence whether physical (as at Tree of Life) or verbal—a notable case of the latter being the Labor MP Luciana Berger, who was compelled to employ a bodyguard at a Labor-party conference after being targeted with abuse labeling her a “racist Zionist,” an “apartheid apologist,” and a “warmonger.”
Jeremy Corbyn reminds us that anti-Semitism is not just an irrational hatred, harbored by madmen at the fringes of British society. He has achieved something new, not only infiltrating anti-Semitic language, tropes, and accusations into mainstream British political discourse but successfully wielding anti-Semitism as a means of dramatically increasing support for his larger program of “transforming British society.” No matter how much the British Jewish community cries “Enough is Enough,” for Corbyn it is never enough; to the contrary, to renege on his “anti-Zionism” would be to repudiate his entire worldview and renounce a core strategic key to his political success.
In sum, if Theresa May’s government falls and Jeremy Corbyn is elected prime minister of the United Kingdom, anti-Semitism, in one cheeky guise or another, will have been declared not only officially acceptable but an essential component of the governing mandate of one of the world’s greatest democracies.
Postscript: one must always hesitate to compare like with unlike, but a British observer cannot help feeling a twinge of sympathetic worry at the recent accession to the U.S. House of Representatives of several Democratic congresswomen harboring a frank and open animus toward Israel and boasting political affiliations reminiscent of Jeremy Corbyn and his milieu. One can only pray the worry is misplaced.
Nine liberal rabbis endorsed the Women’s March after meetings with organizers Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory and sharing their concerns about anti-Semitism.
The rabbis said in a letter that they had engaged in “frank discussions about the issues that are dividing our communities” with Sarsour and Mallory, including the latter’s ties to Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, who has a history of making anti-Semitic and homophobic statements.
Earlier in the week, Mallory again refused to specifically condemn Farrakhan’s remarks.
Though the letter acknowledged that differences remained, it encouraged members of the Jewish community to attend the march on Saturday.
“We pledge to remain actively involved with the Women’s March, its next steps, its hopeful agenda, and its leadership, Linda and Tamika in particular,” the rabbis said.
The statement came out of meetings between the two organizers and 13 rabbis, though not all the attendees signed it, the Forward reported.
It was once an easy choice. For two years, many progressive Jewish women in the United States were enthusiastically involved with the Women’s March, showing up in full force at events around country.
But this weekend – which marks the third incarnation of the protest movement that began after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in 2017 – the decision is no longer so simple.
Plagued by scandals and repeated accusations of antisemitism against its leaders, the Women’s March has been the center of controversy for months.
With the 2019 march approaching, many Jewish women have found themselves forced to choose between several options: Sit the march out; find an alternative event; or reluctantly join with the organization whose relationship with the Jewish community is shaky at best.
Carly Pildis told The Jerusalem Post this week that instead of joining a march on Saturday, she’ll be attending synagogue.
“I would love nothing more than to put on my sneakers and join the Women’s March,” said Pildis, a progressive activist and political organizer in DC. “But I feel like I have to stand up for my community. Once my community is being treated well, I would love to be there.”
Pildis, who worked on the Obama campaign and is a nonprofit professional, said the Jewish community deserves better.
“I feel like I owe it to my community to fight for them,” she said, “and not to accept a place in a movement that seems wishy-washy on our humanity, and on respecting us, and on what we deserve.”
On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee quietly pulled its support for this year’s Women’s March. Wednesday morning, it became apparent that the dissatisfaction with what used to be the signature event for left-leaning women nationwide has become a toxic morass; two prominent female Democratic presidential candidates won’t be appearing at Saturday’s event.
Both Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told Buzzfeed News that they’re otherwise indisposed this weekend, even though both have been directly involved with the Women’s March in the past. Harris was a keynote speaker at the 2017 event, and Gillibrand headlined the Women’s March’s campaign against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
But neither will appear this weekend at the Women’s March’s third annual demonstration in Washington, D.C., and neither will Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the third most prominent female candidate for president.
“A Harris spokesperson said the senator would not be attending this coming weekend” but did not give a reason according to Buzzfeed News. She is, however, going to be in Washington, D.C., just steps from the event. Harris’ staff told reporters on Tuesday that the senator is expecting to remain in the nation’s capital for the time being so that she is available to vote to end the government shutdown.
“Gillibrand is expected to be in Iowa,” her team told reporters.
Even Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who, despite not being female, has long been a supporter of the March’s goals, will be missing in action. He’ll be “traveling,” a spokesperson told Buzzfeed.
Ozeri says she was comforted to learn that the founder of her local chapter is a Jewish woman who has distanced her group from the national movement.
“That makes me feel safer and more interested,” she told JTA.
Emiliana Guereca, the Los Angeles founder, says that many people do not realize her group is not part of the national organization. Total donations to her chapter are down by about 60 percent, as are the number of organizations willing to partner with the group, she told JTA last month.
“I think we’ve spent the entire month of December responding to all of this, and we’re going to continue to respond. That for us stops the work from happening,” she said.
Jan Huttner, 67, finds Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments “despicable,” but says she will still be marching.
“Given the importance of unity in this case, I refuse to center myself ‘as a Jew’ in this controversy,” Huttner, a Brooklyn resident and the editor of a media company that writes about films made by women, told JTA in a Facebook message.
Supporters of the National Council of Jewish Women and other Jewish organizations come together on the National Mall for the Women’s March in Washington, DC, January 21, 2017. (Ron Sachs via JTA)
To cut through the confusion, JTA has created a guide that shows which states’ marches have ties with the national organization. Of the marches being held this year, JTA was able to confirm that 11 are affiliated with Women’s March Inc. Meanwhile, organizations in 22 states are holding unaffiliated marches. Women’s March organizations in the remaining states either aren’t hosting marches, do not have contact information available, or did not return or refused to answer requests for comments by JTA about their affiliation. We will update this page if we hear back from any of those chapters.
Senator Robert Menendez, one of the most reliable pro-Israel voices among Democrats, dropped his support for an Israel-related bill because he said the Republican leadership is trying to use it as a wedge issue.
“I don’t like the Majority Leader using the US-Israel relationship as a political pawn,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told Al-Monitor on Monday, after the third bid in a week by Republicans to advance the bill. The New Jersey senator had voted to advance the bill the two previous times.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has tried to advance a Middle East mini-omnibus bill that includes codification of the $38 billion former president Barack Obama pledged to Israel over the next 10 years and legislation that would protect from lawsuits against states that pass legislation banning state business with Israel boycotters.
McConnell needs 60 votes to advance the bill, but Democrats have stood in the way, saying that McConnell should first move on their proposals to reopen the government. US President Donald Trump has said he will not consider spending legislation that would reopen the government unless it includes $5.7 billion to build a wall with Mexico. The government shutdown is in its fourth week.
US President Donald Trump leads Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to answer questions from the media after Trump attended the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon January 9, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)
Most Democrats also oppose the anti-boycott component of the bill because they say it infringes on speech freedoms, but four pro-Israel Democrats who back the anti-boycott legislation had backed advancing the measure until Tuesday, when Menendez changed his vote.
News broke Sunday morning that U.S. Congressman Rand Paul has refused to support the anti-BDS bill currently before congress as part of an aid package for Israel. Rand Paul’s argument is that he thinks the bill violates freedom of speech and rights to redress government.
Paul has shown himself to be a fool, a schlemiel when it comes to suborning terrorism and his refusing to join congressmen who oppose BDS while thinking he is pushing American values shows distorted thinking.
This isn’t the first time Rand Paul claims he is a Libertarian as his reason to support anti-Semites who seek Israel’s destruction. In an earlier episode he also placed U.S. citizens and soldiers at risk by objecting to the killing of Anwar Awlaki, an Al Qaeda superstar. An ophthalmologist by profession, this isn’t the first time he has failed to see the forest for the trees.
Back in 2011, Anwar Awlaki, a disciple, recruiter and apparatchik for Al Qaeda, was killed in Yemen by a drone strike authorized by the Obama administration. Awlaki, an imam with U.S. citizenship, had recruited and given orders to a Muslim U.S. army officer named Nidal Hassan via the Internet. Hassan attacked the U.S. army base in Fort Hood, Texas killing four U.S. citizens. Awlaki, as an imam, sent Hassan to carry out the killings. However, the Ft. Hood killings were not the only rodeo linked to Awlacki, who also dispatched a terrorist known as the “underwear bomber” to blow up an airliner as it neared Detroit. That attempt failed.
Documents show the U.S. Justice Department actually began research as far back as 2010 to determine the legality of taking the Al Qaeda imam out militarily. Call that common sense.
Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) continued to call Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R., Fla.) bill concerning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel “anti-First Amendment” during a podcast interview released Thursday.
“Do you know what we’ve done in this country with the right to boycott, what we’ve done in this country with the right to speak up and to protest and to say we disagree with this country and their doings? You look at Apartheid. You look at all the, you know, anti-blackness in our country and what we’ve been able to try to do to push back against that, you know, I don’t even call it an anti-B — I call it anti-First Amendment, anti-speech bill,” Tlaib said on the Intercept‘s “Deconstructed” podcast.
Rubio’s legislation would permit state and local governments to boycott companies that do the same to Israel. He has defended his bill against Democratic critics who claim the bill violates constitutional rights.
“My bill doesn’t punish any political activity. It protects the right of local [and] state [governments] that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott #Israel,” Rubio tweeted earlier this month.
I was doing yoga, and somewhere close to my Savasana it hit me.
Whoever thinks that Linda Sarsour just accidentally happened to grow into the role of co-chair of the Women’s March, is undoubtedly naive.
Why Linda? I get that we need diversity and hence a Muslim woman. Fine.
But why Linda?
Why is there one woman whose name appears when it comes Black Lives Matters, when it comes to BDS, when it comes Women’s March and when it comes to being an advisory board member of “Dream Defenders” that is affiliated with terrorist organizations, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Linda is the contemporary polymath. Not necessary in the purest sense of the word.
Linda is THE exemplary WOMAN.
Progressive women – and now let’s focus on Jewish women – argue that by not marching this year, we just divide women. Let me tell you something – women, by nature and by default are divided. As much as it sucks, this is the truth. But this is only partially the point.
Hiding behind the fancy term of being progressive is basically spiting your own face.
We should march because otherwise, we divide women? What a load of BS, really.
For f-ck sake, women were divided the moment we led the movement to be hijacked by Linda Sarsour.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) on Tuesday defended a previous tweet in which she called Israel “evil” and said the Jewish state “has hypnotized the world,” saying that those were “the only words I could think about expressing at that moment.”
Omar appeared on CNN International’s “Amanpour,” where host Christiane Amanpour asked the congresswoman about her controversial comments about Israel.
“Should Jewish Americans be worried about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib because of the BDS movement, because of one of the tweets you made a long time ago?” Amanpour asked. “You are part of a new wave of Democrats not afraid to be critical of the government of Israel.”
Amanpour then read Omar’s tweet from 2012 during an Israeli military offensive in Gaza.
“How do you put that into context now and what do you say to American Jews?” Amanpour asked.
“I remember when that was happening, watching TV and really feeling as if no other life was being impacted in this war, and those unfortunate words were the only words I could think about expressing at that point,” Omar said.
She went on to say that there is a “difference” between criticizing a military action by a government that has “exercised really oppressive policies” and attacking “particular people of faith.”
Ilhan Omar, who actively backs the BDS movement, will now serve on the House Foreign Affairs committee. She doubled down on this tweet just yesterday. pic.twitter.com/mgIFG57J3X
— Natalie Johnson (@nataliejohnsonn) January 17, 2019
Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory, who has repeatedly refused to distance herself from anti-Semitic hate preacher and Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, told Elle Magazine in an interview published Wednesday that she has no plans to distance herself from the Nation of Islam organization and sees no reason why she should have to.
“I have been caricatured as someone who is an uncritical supporter of Louis Farrakhan and his every word and deed. That is not true,” Mallory writes, in her essay, clearly designed to alleviate some of the concerns currently dogging the Women’s March organization. “Trust and believe, Minister Farrakhan is clear that I do not agree with everything that he says.”
Oddly enough, though, Mallory isn’t specific about which parts of Farrakhan’s belief system she objects to, even though it seems rather simple to say, “I reject Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic remarks, and do not believe the Jewish people are termites, nor the spawn of Satan.”
Instead, Mallory insists Nation of Islam does good work and she sees no reason to distance herself from the organization.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Culture Whose Word For ‘Black Man’ Is ‘Slave’ Rebukes West For Racism (satire)
A group of societies from the Mediterranean to southeast Asia whose common heritage includes a language that equates dark-skinned Africans with servitude leveled criticism at countries who provide political equality regardless of heritage or skin color.
Cultures speaking Arabic or centered on sacred texts in Arabic, a language in which the term “‘Abed,” meaning slave, denotes a person of African ancestry and appearance, lambasted the US, Britain, and other societies for discrimination against people of color, criticism that often features in the rhetoric of Islamic societies.
Leading cultural figures in Qatar, Morocco, Iran, Malaysia, and numerous other Muslim countries repeated their customary denunciations of Western depravity, citing human rights, the treatment of women, people of color, Muslims, and other marginalized groups as illustrating the moral chasm that exists between the corrupt, doomed West and the superior, virtuous lands of Islam.
“We acknowledge the emancipation of slaves in the West, which occurred as late as a century-and-a-half ago in the case of the United States,” pronounced Qatari preacher Dun al-Bashar in his weekly sermon. “But such token gestures fail to mitigate the horrific racism American and other Western countries display toward those who are different, such as the untermensch African slave, who would do much better in our lands as, shall we say, a ‘hired worker’ whose movement, choices, workload, treatment, and compensation are left in the benevolent hands of the wise Muslim master.”
Academic boycotts, rightly understood and employed, are an effective means of isolating and stigmatizing universities and other institutions that support authoritarian regimes (like Erdogan’s Turkey) or provide a platform for spreading pro-terrorist propaganda (as at An-Najah or Birzeit universities in the West Bank). By refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of universities controlled by regimes that deny basic academic (and human) freedoms, boycotters undermine corrupt systems and lend moral support to academics fighting for their rights and even their lives.
But not all boycotts are defensible. The academic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel provides the most obvious example of an unjust act masquerading as high-minded activism.
Contrary to the claims of BDS advocates, Israel is a free, democratic state with equal representation for all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. Israeli universities, far from suffering under state or party control, are home to some of Israel’s harshest critics, who are free to condemn or praise governments and religious leaders or even question the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. They are anything but tools of the state whose livelihood and freedom depend on praising the government or censoring their opinions.
In light of these widely known facts, BDS proponents reveal their antisemitic motivations in a myriad of ways, most obviously in singling out Israel — the world’s only Jewish state — for condemnation, while turning a blind eye to genuine human rights abusers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Cuba, and China. The BDSers’ false assertions regarding Israeli history — from denying the long and vibrant history of the ancient Hebrews, to claiming that Israelis are European “settler colonialists” comparable to Nazis — also expose their antisemitism.
The disturbing truth about 🇲🇾 Malaysia’s discriminatory policy against 🇮🇱 Israeli athletes at the Paralympic Swimming Championships https://t.co/yRLlOmlc4u @ParaAthletics @Para_swimming @parsonsandrew @Paralympics pic.twitter.com/AZHEB4obF0
— Andreas Fagerbakke (@afagerbakke) January 17, 2019
UC Davis has the ignoble distinction of being on the top ten list of antisemitic universities in America. Over the years, events put on by Jewish organizations have been disrupted There has been anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism on campus. Anti-Semitic flyers have been distributed on campus. Swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity house.
Last year, Jewish student leaders and UC Davis officials met with the intention of improving campus climate for Jewish students and combating antisemitism. The administration agreed to host a town hall and a series of workshops with the ADL.
Following outcry from Students for Justice in Palestine, the workshops were never held. An SJP petition , with 149 signatures was presented , with the demand that Jewish Voice for Peace instead conduct the workshops.
From the Daily Aggie
Following the submission of a petition from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) against the ADL workshops, however, none of the planned ADL-hosted workshops have presently been scheduled, according to Associate Vice Chancellor Sheri Atkinson.
In early December, Chancellor May mentioned in an interview with The California Aggie the mutually-agreed upon commitments made with Jewish students and administrators.
“We came up with a series of things we were going to do, including a town hall and some training from the ADL to improve the campus climate,” he said at the time. “I think after that meeting, everyone came away feeling like we were in a partnership mode rather than an adversarial mode.”
On April 16, 2018, the Durham, North Carolina City Council passed a statement on policing, which made Durham the first city in the United States to ban police trainings specifically with Israel. Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton has repeatedly and publicly said that it was unnecessary to single out Israel in the statement.
Public record requests reveal that Mayor Steve Schewel and Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson both described this policy as the “Israel resolution,” making clear the true intent of the statement. Johnson sent 46 emails to residents explaining it is a “statement affirming a city policy against police exchanges with Israel.” The April 16 statement continued Johnson’s use of Durham City resources, which started in 2015, to promote boycotting Israel.
Ten days before the City Council passed its anti-Israel statement, activists led by the self-declared “anti-Zionist Jews” of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) provided the Council with a petition urging that Durham specifically boycott police trainings with Israel. Multiple versions of the petition stated that Israeli training “helps the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the U.S,” which the Mayor later acknowledged is false.
Six out of seven council members had already signed various versions of the petition. A local Jewish leader informed me that Council person Johnson told him that she had even helped rewrite the petition that activists brought to the Council. As Middleton publicly admitted minutes before voting to approve the statement, the Council’s April 16 statement was a “compromise” with JVP.
HonestReporting: HRC Combats BDS in the Guardian
In the PEI Guardian newspaper today, HRC Executive Director combated the antisemtiic BDS movement and called it out for what it is, antisemitic!
In 2003 cartoonist Malcolm Evans was sacked from the NZ Herald amidst some controversy. His single-tracked focus on Israel, and the vitriolic and offensive nature of some of his cartoons, had led to accusations of antisemitism. He was warned by his then editor to temper his fixation on Israel but refused, leading to his dismissal.
Since then Evans’s cartoons have received a limited circulation, now mostly through the Northland Age. Although 15 years have passed since he left the NZ Herald, Evans has lost none of his fervent hatred for Israel, Israelis, and, some would argue, Jews (see the gallery of some of his cartoons on Israel, both pre and post 2003, below).
Evans’s cartoons often cast Israelis in a demonic light, taking glee in the slaughter of innocents, and make comparisons between the Israeli government and the world’s most despotic and murderous regimes, including the Nazis and the regime of Syria’s Assad, which has killed over half a million of its own people. They exonerate Palestinians entirely of any wrongdoing in the conflict, and depict Israelis as bloodthirsty, racist, machiavellian monsters that control US foreign policy. They frequently fall squarely within the widely-adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.
On Thursday 18 December 2018, the Northland Age published this cartoon:
Bearing no connection to the editorial or any of the stories around it, the cartoon appears to relate to a controversial plan to allow Fletcher Building to build hundreds of homes on land in South Auckland. The story has no Israel connection whatsoever, but Evans managed to turn it into yet another vehicle to vent his antipathy toward Israelis, and to paint them as uniquely devious and evil.
Newspapers typically publish obituaries of famous figures in order to sum up their life’s work. The Washington Post, however, used an obituary to belittle Israel’s prime minister. In so doing, the newspaper not only discarded decorum and decency, but illustrated how deep its biases go.
Moshe Arens, a former Israeli politician, died at the age of 93 on January 7, 2019. By any measure, Arens was a legendary figure, serving three times as defense minister and once as foreign minister. He was, as The New York Times reported, an influential ambassador to the US who “proved adept at making Israel’s case in the United States and came to be valued by Reagan administration officials as an Israeli government insider.”
An aeronautical engineer turned statesman, Arens was “one of the longest-surviving members of Israel’s founding generation,” the paper said — even seeking the premiership.
As The Algemeiner noted, Arens “was current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s primary mentor in the 1980s,” and helped “pave the way for Netanyahu’s rise to political power.” The Washington Post, however, chose to phrase this part of Arens’ biography differently, writing: “Mr. Arens’s most enduring political legacy is probably his role in launching the career of Netanyahu, a charismatic furniture salesman — and family friend — whom Mr. Arens hired as his No. 2 after being appointed ambassador to the United States.”
Readers unfamiliar with Israeli history — which, if one is open to a charitable interpretation, might include Washington Post obituary writers as well — might think that Arens just plucked a furniture salesman out of the blue. The Post’s description, however, is both misleading and incomplete.
In fact, Netanyahu was a “32-year-old frustrated sales executive at an Israeli furniture company,” according to an Arens obituary penned by Bibi biographer (and frequent critic) Anshel Pfeffer. There is, of course, a significant difference between the jobs of a “salesman” and “executive” — not only in duties, but, if implicitly, in prestige as well.
The Forward is ending both its English and Yiddish print editions, laying off Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner and 40% of her staff, and will continue to do business strictly online, the NY Post reported Wednesday. The Post cited a source that said, “They’ve been losing money for years but lately the losses have been more than $5 million a year.”
The same source suggested the Forward’s target audience – liberal NY Jews with ever-diminishing ties to their tradition – is no longer big enough to pay the bills. Or he or she put it, “The revenue is not really there.”
Apparently, the sharp turn the newspaper has taken a few short years ago, towards a radical-feminist editorial policy that also upped the ante on anti-Orthodox and anti-Israel diatribes, just didn’t attract enough readers, who can easily and cheaply find this stuff in the NY Times.
And so, a liberal Jewish newspaper that prided itself on giving a voice to Jewish pundits from across the political and religious map, has given up its benign tradition that stretched from 1897 (never mind those storied Yom Kippur dance parties in the editorial offices on East Broadway) – and was punished by its readership – at least the parts of it that haven’t been elevated to more heavenly publications.
According to the Post, laid-off staff other than Eisner include Executive Editor Dan Friedman, Digital Director David Goldiner, Design Director Kurt Hoffman and marketing, Kathleen Chambard, vice president of marketing.
Hold on a minute, why are they laying off the digital director?
HonestReporting: How Free is Israeli Arab Media?
If you were a writer spotlighting Israeli Arab media issues for a magazine like the Columbia Journalism Review, your reporting would include interviews with veteran Israeli Arab journalists, media personalities, news directors and other heavyweights who have since retired or moved on to other things.
Your context would note that the only free Arab media in the Mideast is in Israel.
You would certainly make a crystal clear distinction between Israeli Arab media (under the jurisdiction of Israel) and Palestinian media (in the West Bank under the jurisdiction of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, or in Hamas-ruled Gaza).
And you absolutely wouldn’t let yourself be played into promoting one of those news services.
Unfortunately, Jerusalem-based freelance journalist Miriam Berger managed to do all that and smear Israeli press freedom in a mere 1,426 words.
The struggle to create a sustainable and independent Palestinian press inside Israel reflects many of the pressures facing these communities. Stories about Palestinian citizens of Israel are often not heard, even though the citizens themselves are a crucial component of the stories others tell. And journalists say there are few good options for Arabic-speaking reporters in the country.
A Georgia man arrested in an FBI sting operation who had planned to attack the White House also wanted to blow up a synagogue.
Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming, Georgia was arrested Wednesday and is charged with “attempt to damage by means of an explosive any building owned, possessed, or leased by the United States or any department or agency,” US Attorney Byung J. Pak said in a statement.
His targets also included the Statue of Liberty, according to reports. The synagogue was not named.
Local law enforcement contacted the FBI about Taheb in March, after receiving a tip from a community member that the man had become radicalized, the FBI said. He was arrested after a nearly year-long investigation by FBI Atlanta’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Taheb met several times with an undercover FBI agent, one time showing him a hand-drawn diagram of the ground floor of the West Wing of the White House including a plan for an attack, and one time asking the agent to obtain weapons and explosives needed for the attack, according to reports based on the affidavit.
He also said he wanted to record a video to motivate supporters. The video, Taheb told the undercover agent, would show clips of oppressed Muslims and show American and Israeli flags burning in the background, according to the affidavit.
A sonar scan of the bottom of the Danube River in Budapest revealed no human remains, a local rabbi who initiated the search for the bodies of Holocaust victims said.
Volunteers for ZAKA, an Orthodox Jewish group that is based in Israel and provides emergency services as well as collection of human remains for burial, operated the sonar from the river banks on Tuesday, Slomo Koves, the head of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH Jewish federation of Hungary, told JTA.
The team operating the sonar will be back next month for another scan, he said.
In 2011, human remains were discovered during construction work on a bridge overlooking the Danube. DNA tests run on the bones in August 2015 found that at least nine of the 15 samples were Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and that six others could also be.
In 1944-1945, Hungarian Nazi-collaborators from the Arrow Cross shot thousands of Jews on the banks of the Danube.
Just those pesky Jews bringing light to the world again…
With no end in sight in the partial government shutdown — now in the start of its fourth week — the Flushing Jewish Community Council and Masbia of Queens are assisting federal employees and their families with boxes of donated food items and hot dinners.
At Masbia of Queens, a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry — located at 105 64th Rd #47 in Forest Hills — federal employees are welcomed to pick up hot delicious meals and groceries.
“It takes time for the middle-class person without a paycheck to make the psychological switch to take charity,” said Rapaport. “I don’t think we have seen many yet but we also have a no questions ask policy.”
Here the Rapaport family of the Masbia Food Kitchen are going around the airport handing out circulars offering free food/groceries to TSA agents who are not getting paid due to the Government shut down.
Producers of the 2019 Eurovision song contest set to be held in Tel Avivm in May are reportedly in talks with American pop star Madonna to make a guest appearance at the end of the show.
According to the Hebrew news site Mako, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, which is helping to produce the event, refused to confirm or deny that such negotiations were underway.
“Right now we are determining the artistic content of Eurovision 2019,” Kan said in a statement. “At the proper time, we will publish the list of artists who will take part.”
Madonna has a strong connection to Israel due to her long-standing interest in Kabbalah. She has taken a Hebrew name and visited holy sites in the Jewish state, though she has never converted to Judaism itself.
Israel won the 2018 Eurovision contest with the song “Toy” by Netta Barzilai.
Thousands of lone soldiers from dozens of countries are expected to take part in the upcoming annual “errands’ day” organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
The sixth annual “Yom Siddurim” will take place on January 24 at Beit Hahayal in Tel Aviv in cooperation with the IDF’s Human Resources Department, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Ministry of the Interior, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and with the assistance of Yahad-United for Israel’s soldiers.
While every lone soldier is entitled to take a day off for personal errands once every two months, many do not have enough time to complete them and find Israel’s bureaucracy intimidating.
“Errands’ day” is a one-stop-shop where essential civilian agencies can help lone soldiers take care of personal affairs such as getting their driver’s license, renew their passports, take care of taxes and other municipal and governmental paperwork.
Additional agencies who will also assist the soldiers will include the Student Licensing Office, the Ministry of Housing, the Automobile License Authority, Bituach Leumi, the Discharged Soldiers Guidance Department, and the Israel Electric Corporation. Representatives of the FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship Program will also be present to assist with inquiries about post-army higher education.
Lone soldiers will also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one personal consultation from Nefesh B’Nefesh and FIDF on acclimating into post-army life.
President Reuven Rivlin shared a poignant falafel lunch with 88-year-old Holocaust survivor and falafel aficionado David “Dugo” Leitner on Thursday.
Leitner’s story has inspired thousands in Israel and around the world to take up the custom of eating falafel on January 18 each year, the anniversary of the start of the 1944 death march from Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
As he told Rivlin on Thursday, the 14-year-old Leitner marched exhausted and starving, and dreaming of “bilkelach,” or miniature challah rolls.
“I was walking with my eyes shut. I couldn’t open them because of the heavy snow. During the march I fell asleep and dreamed of my mother. She always told me that we would go and live in Israel, and that in Israel ‘bilkelach’ grew on the trees,” Leitner said.
Leitner would go on to survive the war and move to Israel, where on his first visit to the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem he first encountered the local delicacy that reminded him of the “bilkelach,” the falafel ball.
Leitner has been eating falafel on January 18 ever since, in celebration of his survival.
In 1978, the British Jewish playwright Harold Pinter and the English Catholic novelist and biographer Antonia Fraser visited Israel. Recently, Fraser discovered and published the diary she kept during their trip. Robert Nason writes in his review:
[For most of his career], the work of Pinter—arguably the 20th century’s most important Jewish dramatist—had not been concerned with politics, much less Israel or Jewish issues. But he grew up in East London during the 1930s and 1940s, when anti-Semites and self-styled British fascists were a constant threat to bookish Jewish youths like Pinter. The experience left an indelible mark on him. He emerged in the late 1950s as part of the great wave of new British playwrights from working-class or Jewish backgrounds. . . . [T]wo years after his bar mitzvah Pinter had shocked his parents by renouncing Judaism. After his success, Pinter dutifully paid to send his deeply Zionist father and mother on trips to Israel twice before visiting the country himself. . . .
Both [Fraser and Pinter] were enchanted by Israel’s people and landscape, though, unsurprisingly, they saw the Holy Land through quintessentially British lenses. The owner of the American Colony Hotel is “a real Graham Greene character,” and a church in the Old City reminds Fraser of Blackfriars at Oxford. While driving to the northern Galilee, she is simultaneously in awe of the country and reminded of her native England. . . . [She] is clearly in a long line of English Christian Zionists and philo-Semites, going back at least to George Eliot. . . .
Before coming to Israel, Fraser reports, Pinter was “obsessed with Menachem Begin” and “read out his speeches from time to time in tones of angry horror.” . . . Yet Fraser remains more sympathetic to the security concerns of Israelis. She has doubts about a Palestine set up so close to “the busy burgeoning Jerusalem” and wonders, “How can anyone expect the Israelis to welcome a state set up by Arafat and his murderous boys here?,” [even] noting that “The world has decided that really unique among states, Israel must be a moral state . . . something no other state is expected to be!”
Last fall, archaeologists discovered a column with a Hebrew inscription, dating from the 1st century CE, reading “Hananiah son of Dodalos of Jerusalem.” Most interesting to philologists was the fact that the Hebrew word for the city was spelled with the letter yud before the final mem, reflecting the modern orthography and pronunciation: Y’rushalayim. This spelling is found in the later books of the Bible, such as Chronicles and Esther, whereas the earlier books omit the yud, suggesting the pronunciation Y’rushalem. As Robert Cargill explains, the inscription is the oldest extant example of the newer spelling:
What is interesting is that the Masoretes, the early-medieval Jewish scribes who added the vowels and cantillation marks to the Hebrew Bible to standardize pronunciation and to make it easier to read, [placed the vowels in] the shortened spellings of Jerusalem (the instances without the extra yud) so that they would be pronounced as if the yud were present. That is to say, the Masoretes were convinced that Jerusalem was always pronounced in antiquity the way it was pronounced in their time—and the way it is pronounced today in Israel—as Y’rushalayim, not as Y’rushalem. The only problem was that there was no archaeological evidence to prove this pronunciation . . . until now!
With the discovery of the Jerusalem column, we have our earliest archaeological evidence that Jerusalem was spelled, and therefore indeed pronounced, with the second yud, not as Y’rushalem, but as Y’rushalayim, during the Second Temple period. . . . The column is archaeological corroboration not only of the later biblical spellings, but also of the masoretic assumptions from a millennium later. It is also further confirmation of prevailing scholarly theories concerning the history of the Hebrew language, spelling, and the orthographic inertia that pervades scribal convention.
And all this from just one tiny letter—a little yud—a letter that the King James Version of Matthew 5:18 transliterates as the common word we still use today for something written quickly: “jot.”
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.