The Destructive Legacy of Obama’s Approach to the Middle East
The chief legacy of Obama’s foreign policy is not the Iran nuclear deal, but rather the visceral partisanship that he fostered at home while trying to defend the deal. As the country debated whether to support the JCPOA in the summer of 2015, recall how Obama demonized the accord’s critics. He went so far as to compare them to the hard men of Iran’s murderous regime. “It’s those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal,” Obama said in August 2015. “They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.” Such language is vile and dishonest, but the president and his allies employed it consistently, using an “echo chamber” of experts and media figures to drown out any opposition, no matter how genuine and well reasoned. Obama also troubled American Jews at the time with his rhetoric, singling out Israel and flirting, perhaps unintentionally, with conspiracy theories about nefarious Jewish money seeking to influence the public debate.
The Obama administration and its allies also made support for the Iran deal a litmus test of loyalty for Democrats in Congress. “Opponents of the agreement said they could not remember another recent policy battle where the White House and [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi were so driven,” the New York Times reported at the time. “In tandem, they made the Iran vote a strong test of party loyalty.” Several Democrats expressed strong concerns about the deeply flawed deal, but they were pressured to fall in line, no matter their reservations. Only a few voted no.
Meanwhile, as Obama waged his campaign of demonization against the deal’s critics, he carried on a similar campaign against America’s traditional allies in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. Obama’s contempt for the Saudis has been well documented, and, whether intentional or not, his approach to the region put the Democratic Party in the position of defending Iran and criticizing Saudi Arabia. Naturally, the Republicans did the opposite.
So what do we have now? One party effectively supports the regime in Iran and opposes Saudi Arabia, while the other party opposes Tehran and supports the Saudis. Both regimes are odious, but the Saudis are, like it or not, an essential strategic ally. They are an important security partner and ensure the free flow of oil from the Middle East. Iran’s leaders, meanwhile, chant “death to America” and seek regional preeminence.
A country so divided on the Middle East cannot create effective policies in the region. American leaders cannot even agree on who their friends and enemies are. How can they possibly come to some kind of a bipartisan consensus? The DNC’s resolution is a reminder of how far apart Democrats and Republicans are regarding the Middle East, and especially Iran. Of course the parties were never entirely on the same page. But the partisan divide grew substantially during Obama’s presidency. His campaign to garner support for the Iran deal at all costs hurt American national security in the long run. Obama did not just cause lasting damage to the Middle East; he also caused lasting damage to Washington, D.C.
The U.S. chose not to cut off its ties with its closest allies and partners in the Arab world — but not because it didn’t recognize their responsibility for spawning and enabling the growth of the jihadist ideology that informed the actions of their nationals. The U.S. chose to remain a close ally of the Saudis and Egyptians because doing so served its strategic interests — whether in preserving the flow of oil in the world market, or ensuring the safe passage of maritime traffic across the Suez Canal.
Was that move wrong? Of course not.
If Israel were to base its foreign policy on countries’ past record of abuse of Jews during the Holocaust — and, more generally, throughout Europe’s 2,000 years of persecution of Jews — then the only European states it would be capable of having diplomatic relations with are Bulgaria and Denmark.
The point isn’t whether or not a state has a past of persecution of Jews generally. All states in Europe have such a past.
The point is that today, some European states are becoming more antisemitic and more hostile to Israel. And some European states are becoming less antisemitic and friendlier to Israel.
Poland, like the other Visegard members, is in the latter category. France, Germany, Belgium, and other Western European states are in the former category. Israel is best served by cultivating close ties to the European states that want close ties with it, and keeping its distance from those who want close ties with Iran and the Palestinians.
The U.S. is now calling for Israel to apologize to Poland for Katz’s statement. And Washington is right.
Hopefully, someday, Poland will reconcile itself with the historical truth of its people’s dubious and decidedly mixed record of behavior towards the Jews during the Holocaust. And Israel cannot accept revision of the historic record.
But Israel also has important interests in the world. Those interests are best advanced by working with like-minded countries. And in issues that matter, along a wide spectrum of areas, Poland is a like-minded country. Israel should treat it accordingly.
Rachel Riley, host of the UK television show “Countdown,” and actress Tracy Ann Oberman are preparing to take legal action against those who have targeted them on Twitter with abusive remarks over their efforts to call out antisemitism in the Labour party, the pair’s lawyer said on Thursday.
Mark Lewis said he was contacting “between 60 and 70 people” who are “almost exclusively Labour supporters” for alleged libel or harassment of his two Jewish clients, according to the Daily Mail.
He told The Guardian he would go to court and force Twitter to release details of social media users who made the Twitter posts if they did not voluntarily provide him with their contact information.
Oberman, 52, was previously a Labour member but left in April 2017 after the party’s decision to not suspend MP Ken Livingstone following antisemitism allegations. Livingstone resigned in 2018.
Riley, 33, was given extra security in January when appearing on “Countdown” after her criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn resulted in her being threatened by his supporters on social media.
In an address to American Jewish leaders gathered for a conference in Jerusalem on Thursday, the United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism said that he would work to end the “attempted distinction” between anti-Zionism and anti-Jewish hate, JNS reported.
Elan Carr, who was appointed to the role earlier this month after the post had been left vacant for two years since Donald Trump became president in 2016, said, “I will work to eradicate the attempted distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.” Carr stressed, “There is no distinction.”
The rise in anti-Semitism, the envoy explained, cannot be attributed to a single country or political movement. Rather, he said, anti-Semitism is a global scourge that requires a global response. “This will be a full-court press. We are not going to be ignoring any part of the world or any ideology,” he vowed.
The envoy specified that “there is a greater rise in new anti-Semitism that clothes itself as anti-Zionism. The anti-Semitism of the European street, of the college campus and of those that have embraced the notion that the Jewish people don’t have a right to their homeland.”
Former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes has weighed in on the antisemitism plaguing the Labour Party in recent years. Barnes has been politically outspoken in recent years but his appearance on BBC Question Time, his first on the show, left many amongst the Jewish community hurt and confused. Whilst commending the Labour MPs who left the Labour Party in the past week over “what they believe” recognising “it’s about antisemitism in the Labour Party” he also took it upon himself to decide on behalf of Jewish people what is and what is not antisemitism.
Mr Barnes on the issue of antisemitism recognised that “there is a difference between that and anti-Zionism…getting mixed up.” He correctly pointed out that “you can criticise the state of Israel without being antisemitic,“ but turned at that point against the view of the vast and overwhelming majority of the Jewish community in saying that he thought that “from the Labour Party’s point of view, as much as Zionists may want to say it’s one and the same I don’t think it is. It’s a bit like saying all racism is the same, because it isn’t, for example the Jews, in my opinion, whilst it is a religion they aren’t necessarily a separate race of people. I think they get mixed up in that respect.”
The history of antisemitism shows that antisemitism can target Jews over either perceived race or faith as well as conspiracy theories around perceived collective Jewish power. When speaking about antisemitism it is important to understand these fundamental points around what antisemitism targets and looks like. Whether or not Jews are defined as a race or a religion is not relevant to whether or not antisemitism attacks Jews on the basis of perceived race or religion. Nazi and fascist attacks on Jews have cited opposition to Jews as a racial group and not to their religious beliefs, whilst modern left-wing antisemitism tends to target Jews in a manner which does not focus on either race or religion, instead targeting them for perceived power, disloyalty, or for the actions and very existence of the State of Israel.
Two major pro-Israel US groups expressed alarm over the past day following the political deal brokered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week that could bring supporters of the late far-right extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane into the next Knesset, after the April elections.
An American Jewish Committee statement said:
“American Jewish Committee (AJC) does not normally comment on political parties and candidates during an election. But with the announcement that Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”), a new political party formed by longtime followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, is now seeking election to the Knesset, we feel compelled to speak out.”
“The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel. The party might conceivably gain enough votes to enter the next Knesset, and potentially even become part of the governing coalition.”
“Historically, the views of extremist parties, reflecting the extreme left or the extreme right, have been firmly rejected by mainstream parties, even if the electoral process of Israel’s robust democracy has enabled their presence, however small, in the Knesset.”
“Ultimately, it is up to Israel’s Central Elections Commission to determine, as it has done in the past, whether Otzma Yehudit can be listed on the ballot on Election Day.”
“Looking ahead to April 9, AJC reaffirms our commitment to Israel’s democratic and Jewish character, which we hope will be the ultimate winners in every election cycle.”
After facing heavy criticism in recent days for brokering a political deal that could see the extremist Otzma Yehudit party enter the Knesset, and following a rare rebuke from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening fired back at critics.
“What hypocrisy and double standards by the left,” he wrote on Facebook, in a post that did not mention AIPAC. “They’re condemning [the formation of] a right-wing majority bloc with right-wing parties, while the left acted to bring extreme Islamists into the Knesset to create a majority bloc.”
He then went on to list several instances of alleged support by left-wing politicians for radical Arab legislators and leaders.
“In 1999 [Ehud] Barak took part in a campaign rally with the inciting Sheik Raed Salah,” he said, referring to the Islamist cleric who has repeatedly been arrested for fomenting violence. (The Haaretz newspaper noted that Barak took a tour in the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm during the campaign, which Salah, then the mayor, attended.)
“Representatives of Labor and Meretz voted for Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hezbollah, to enter the Knesset, and [Isaac] Herzog sought a surplus vote agreement with the Joint List and said the Arab MKs were legitimate in the government,” Netanyahu also wrote.
The family of fallen IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin slammed the leaders of the newly formed Blue and White party for failing to return their deceased son’s body from terrorist forces.
“All the generals who want to be leaders need to explain to us before they are elected, why they failed and what they are going to do to correct their mistakes, ” Prof. Simcha Goldin, the soldier’s father stated at a protest near where the 23-year-old Givati commando was killed.
He called the statements of former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is heading the Blue and White party, “empty slogans,” adding “whoever sweeps the Goldin family under the rug sweeps all IDF soldiers under the rug.”
Hundreds took part in the weekly vigil in memory of Goldin, including MK Haim Yellin of Labor and MK Moti Yogev of Bayit Yehudi, held near Israel’s southern border with Gaza.
Goldin and fellow IDF soldier Oron Shaul were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 hours after a cease-fire was reached between Gaza’s Hamas ruled government and Israel. Their bodies were taken via underground tunnels back to Hamas-controlled territory where they have been held ever since.
With the announcement last month that it had picked Robert Kraft as its 2019 laureate, the Genesis Prize seemed poised for a calmer year.
Last year the foundation that awards the “Jewish Nobel,” as it’s called, picked actress and director Natalie Portman as an example of someone who provides “inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement along with their commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people.”
The selection backfired, however, when Portman refused to attend the prize ceremony in Israel because of her objections to the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu would have handed out the prize, which is given jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office, The Genesis Prize Foundation and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Portman was able to keep the honor, but the $1 million in prize money, which recipients are expected to donate to causes of their choice, was distributed instead by the foundation to women’s empowerment programs of their choosing.
Meanwhile, the year before, the prize ceremony was canceled after the 2017 winner, artist Sir Anish Kapoor, said it would be “inappropriate to hold a festive ceremony” in Jerusalem with the civil war in Syria raging so close by.
For this year’s selection, Kraft seemed like a safer selection when the foundation announced its choice last month.
President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has selected Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to Canada, as his nominee to serve as the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump said in a pair of tweets that Craft “has done an outstanding job representing our Nation” and he has “no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level.”
Two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters had told The Associated Press that Trump had been advised that Craft’s confirmation would be the smoothest of the three candidates he had been considering to fill the job last held by Nikki Haley.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had backed Craft for the post, and she also has the support of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, they said. Trump’s first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew over the weekend.
Craft, a Kentucky native, was a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush’s administration. She is also friends with McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and thanked Chao for her “longtime friendship and support” at her swearing-in as ambassador.
As US ambassador to Canada, she played a role in facilitating the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump had also considered US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former US Senate candidate John James of Michigan for the post.
Israel opened its first embassy in Rwanda on Friday, offering support to the East Africa nation from health to education and agriculture, as well as communication technology including cybersecurity.
“This country shares a lot of similarities with state of Israel and offers a lot of ground for mutual cooperation,” new Israeli ambassador Ron Adam said after a meeting with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Adam, a career diplomat who has served previously at the United Nations in Geneva and New York, presented his credentials to the Rwandan president on Thursday.
The two countries, both with histories largely defined by genocide, already have close ties, including being embroiled in a controversial 2018 deal that sought to deport African refugees and asylum seekers from Israel.
Israel said it could possibly send refugees to Rwanda, a proposal widely condemned by rights groups. Kigali always strongly denied any such deal.
Rwanda, a largely Christian nation, has said it is keen to encourage tourists to the country, especially to see its famous mountain gorillas.
Rwandair, the national airline, has said it will begin direct flights to Israel in 2019.
A new report from MSNBC discovered that former Vice President Spiro Agnew asked the Saudis for money to combat “Zionists” in America in 1980.
Agnew wrote in a telegram to then-Saudi Crown Prince Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, “the Zionists have orchestrated a well-organized attack on me to use lawsuits to bleed me of my resources to continue my effort to inform the American people of their control of the media and other influential sectors of American society… I’ve taken every opportunity to speak out against the catastrophic U.S. Policies regarding Israel.”
“This has spurred my Zionists enemies on to greater efforts,” Agnew continued. “I need desperately your financial support so that I can continue to fight.”
Columnist William Safire wrote in a 1976 New York Times op-ed that Agnew was initially a supporter of Israel, but that changed when he became engulfed in the corruption scandal.
“Former Agnew staffers tell me his anti‐Semitic cracks first began when the Jewish businessmen he had known in Baltimore County sought immunity by turning state’s evidence against him,” Safire wrote. “He became embittered at a handful of Jews, which might well have turned him against Jews in general.”
He added later in his column, “Hating individual Jews does not make you a bigot. Being anti‐Israel does not make you a bigot. But undertaking a crusade to persuade the American people that they are being brainwashed and manipulated by a cabal of Jews who sit astride most of the channels of communication, and thereby encouraging an irrational hatred of Jews—that makes you a bigot.”
Of course, these new revelations from @maddow tonight suggest that the anti-Semitism of that speech, and Agnew’s other attacks on the media too, might not have been unintentional in the slightest. https://t.co/2mTUMv0kH0
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) February 22, 2019
While Agnew went looking for funds to fight “Zionist enemies,” Pat Buchanan — the man who wrote the Des Moines speech — launched a political career of his own.
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) February 22, 2019
The distance he was standing from the Gaza border fence is the same distance some Israeli families live from it too. pic.twitter.com/2ol5WNYt5i
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) February 22, 2019
A section of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that has been closed by Israeli court order for over 15 years was reopened to Palestinian worshipers Saturday, Army Radio reported.
It was not immediately clear who had ordered the reopening of the Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, or what was the cause for the reversal in policy.
MK Ahmad Tibi of the joint Hadash-Ta’al party visited the compound by the Al-Aqsa Mosque and said its opening was “an important and significant step.”
He added that Muslims and the Waqf, custodians of the holy site, “should be given full control of the mosque, without the entry of settlers and Jewish politicians from the right,” according to Army Radio.
On Friday thousands of Palestinian protesters chanting “Allahu Akbar” streamed into the sealed-off area of Al-Aqsa during prayers. Israeli police said the crowds dispersed peacefully afterward.
Israeli security forces have recently noticed Hamas sending children as young as eight years old to the front lines of protests along the Gaza-Israel border, the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday.
They have also lately heard unidentified operatives on loudspeakers promising children at the border NIS 300 ($83) if they get injured, the army said, confirming a previous unsourced report on the Kan public broadcaster.
A Hamas official in Gaza did not respond to a request for comment about whether the terror group sent children as young as eight to the front lines of the demonstrations. He also did not answer whether it had promised kids money for sustaining injuries.
Since March 30, the Hamas terror group, Palestinian political factions, civil society groups and others have organized weekly protests in the border region, which have included many violent acts, including the lobbing of rocks and Molotov cocktails as well as the sabotage of the security fence between Israel and Gaza.
Switzerland, suddenly aware that arms it was sending to a former Lebanese minister had gone missing, has decided to suspend arms exports to Lebanon. What makes this interesting is that the U.S. has been supplying arms to the Lebanese army which could wind up in the hands of the terrorist group Hezbollah.
According to LBCI channel, Swiss ambassador to Lebanon Monika Schmutz Kirgöz said her country had a contract saying arms transmitted to security units protecting political figures (the only arms Switzerland sells to Lebanon) must be able to be inspected by Swiss authorities to make sure they don’t wind up in the wrong hands.
But after a four-member inspection team visited Beirut in spring 2018 to see what had happened to the10 assault rifles and 30 submachine guns, which were reportedly sent to former minister Ghazi Zeaiter, according to the Daily Star, 31 of the weapons were missing. Elisabeth Gilgen, the deputy head of mission at the Swiss Embassy in Beirut, said, “We sold to a ministry, a government institution, and the recipient, according to the contract, signed as a representative of the Lebanese government.”
The Swiss economy ministry stated, “Swiss inspectors were only able to verify and inspect nine of the 40 small arms. It was agreed that the risk of the weapons ending up in undesirable hands is high and justifies a halt in licensing exports under the provisions of the Ordinance on War Materiel,”
The chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service recently visited Israel to discuss the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, The Times of Israel reported Friday.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported that Alex Younger, the MI6 chief, arrived in Israel on Monday and met with Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad, and other Israeli intelligence officials.
Cohen said last April that he was 100% certain that Iran was committed to developing nuclear weapons. A few weeks later, it was revealed that Israel had captured an archive of documents from Iran, showing that the Islamic Republic was still intending to build nuclear weapons.
According to the television report, Israeli intelligence believes that Iran is “making preparations” to develop nuclear weapons without blatantly violating the 2015 deal. However, the Islamic Republic has not yet made the political decision to break out, according to the Israeli assessment.
The Channel 13 report, citing Western intelligence sources, said that Iran’s nuclear efforts were also the subject of discussions among participants at last week’s Munich Security Conference.
The report assessed that Iran was “preparing the infrastructure… in an accelerated fashion,” should it decide to openly violate the restrictions of the accord.
Iran has remained within the key limits on its nuclear activities imposed by its 2015 deal with major powers despite growing pressure from newly reimposed US sanctions, a report by the UN nuclear watchdog showed on Friday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is policing the deal, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on Tehran’s atomic activities aimed at increasing the time Iran would need to make an atom bomb if it chose to.
Iran has stayed within caps on the level to which it can enrich uranium, as well as its stock of enriched uranium, the IAEA said in a confidential quarterly report sent to its member states and obtained by Reuters.
“Not much has changed…, a continuing reporting of the implementation (by Iran),” a senior diplomat said on condition of anonymity, summarizing the report.
The IAEA also repeated its usual statement that it carried out so-called complementary access inspections — which are often at short notice — at all locations in Iran that it needed to visit.
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last May, reimposing U.S. sanctions on Iran‘s economy and lifeblood oil industry that were lifted under the 2015 agreement.
According to the New York Times, the radicalization of Monica Witt, a US Air Force intelligence officer who converted to Islam and became a spy for Iran, “accelerated” while pursuing a Middle East studies master’s degree at George Washington University. She also attended a conference in Iran at the time “filled with fringe academics,” including former Islam scholar and 9/11 conspiracist Kevin Barrett, and others who were “as critical of her country as she was.”
Power Line, which questions the role of foreign funding, notes that Nathan Brown, who now directs GWU’s Middle East studies program, once testified before Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is akin to the Boy Scouts.
None of this is surprising for a field steeped in anti-Americanism and apologias for Islamist regimes like Iran’s. When the rhetoric in the faculty lounge is indistinguishable from that of America’s enemies, how much of leap is it to go from impressionable student to traitor?
Iranian VP Laya Joneydi—who will open up a high-level UN Human Rights Council session on Monday—defended her president’s demands that she wear a chador because she respects the man “we all voted for.” In reality, Iran does not have free or fair elections. https://t.co/qdTkx3OmgN
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) February 22, 2019
Posted today February 22, 2019, by the Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party, a group working feverishly to save the Democratic party from the rampant anti-Semitism that plagues the UK’s Labour party, way across the pond.
An Open Letter to Iyad Afalqa, Chair of the Arab American Caucus of the CDP:
We, members of Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party (CDP) condemn the hateful and false depiction of Zionism and the unmistakably antisemitic tropes in the article you chose to share in the CADEM Delegates page on February 18, 2019 entitled “All Zionist roads lead to genocide.”
Here, for example, are excerpts that contain some of the most dangerous slanders we have seen trafficked in Democratic Party leadership circles:
“Zionism and its denialism appeals to white supremacists in the United States who similarly are in denial of the American genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of black Africans.”
“Zionism has always been a white supremacist, settler colonialist, anti-democratic, right-wing ideology, which has demanded a loyalty based on nationalist racism. Zionists of all sorts, including of the liberal kind, have collaborated with anti-Semitic forces towards a mutual goal of global apartheid, often at the expense of Jews who live outside Israel.”
The article frames Zionism as responsible for an international conspiracy of global apartheid. This is clear and unbridled antisemitism found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a famously false and hateful pamphlet alleging international conspiracy by racist, global Zionists. By itself, this trope has been responsible for the deaths of literally millions of Jews. This is the language we see being normalized in the article you shared.
The University of Essex on Friday announced the immediate establishment of a Jewish society that was previously voted against by some 200 students, as the English school launched a probe into antisemitism and suspended a lecturer accused of sharing hostile posts on the Holocaust, Jews, and Israel.
Leaders from the university’s Students’ Union ratified the society following a discussion with the Trustee Board and a public outcry over the initial poll, which was scrapped on Thursday over what the Union called “an irregularity.”
In an email sent earlier on Friday to all students and staff, Vice Chancellor Anthony Forster denounced antisemitism and said the week’s events “raised important questions for us.”
Affirming the school’s recognition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, Forster pledged to support the establishment of a student Jewish society, calling it “an important means of supporting Jewish students to enhance their experience at Essex.”
Several members of the campus community had expressed opposition to the Jewish group’s formation, allegedly including computer science lecturer Maaruf Ali, who was reported to have commented on Facebook, “the Zionists next want to create a society here at our university.” Ali was also accused of sharing controversial posts featuring Holocaust denial, calling a French police officer who was killed by Islamists in 2015 a “crypto-Jew,” and comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
Forster indicated that Ali — whose comments were condemned as “antisemitic” by Jewish community advocates — was suspended while the university investigates these “serious allegations.”
The working assumption about 21st-century anti-Semitism is that it is making a comeback in Western Europe due to a “perfect storm” driven by Muslim immigrants and European white ultra-nationalists.
This basic model has corresponded with the flowering of hate speech and crimes against Jews in Western Europe that began around 2000. That year, Muslim extremists for the first time torched several French synagogues over Israel’s war on Palestinian terrorists during the second intifada.
It was the onset of a phenomenon that later became known as “new anti-Semitism,” in which Jews are targeted as Israel’s agents or as payback for the Jewish state’s perceived abuses.
Two years later, the Holocaust denier and anti-Muslim agitator Jean-Marie Le Pen took his far-right National Front party to the second round of the presidential elections for the first time.
These coinciding developments heralded a new and disturbing reality in which two rival and relatively small groups appeared to be growing and, through their rhetoric and actions, were eroding the taboo placed on anti-Semitism following the horrors of the Holocaust.
But over the past four years, anti-Semitism in Western Europe has mutated yet again, reverting to its 20th-century economic elements and gaining a strong foothold in swelling populist movements. Purveyors don’t necessarily share a common political view, but they agree that Jews are the exemplars of an establishment they seek to overthrow.
A mass grave containing bones from hundreds of bodies with gunshot wounds to their skulls was discovered during construction atop what used to be the ghetto of Brest, in present-day Belarus.
Human remains belonging to men, women and children as well as clothes, shoes and other personal items were uncovered last month on the construction site managed by the contractor Pribuzhsky Kwartia, according to a report Wednesday on the Virtual Brest news site.
Since then, the remains of dozens of additional bodies have been discovered every day, the report said.
Mayor Alexander Rogachuk said the bones belonged to “victims of ghettos,” meaning Jews imprisoned there by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
The Nazis killed three million civilians in Belarus, of whom 800,000 were Jewish.
Rogachuk told the Brest news site that he is in contact with local and international Jewish groups about arranging burial for the bones at local Jewish cemeteries.
Construction has been suspended on the immediate site of the grave but is going on around it, the Onliner news site reported Thursday.
Jewish religious laws require human remains not be disturbed.
Vandals drew dozens of swastikas on an elementary school playground in New York City overnight Thursday.
The anti-Semitic graffiti, which included the words “Heil Hitler,” was found early Friday morning in the Rego Park neighborhood in the borough of Queens.
School staff removed the drawings and called the police, the Ynet news site reported.
The school was closed for vacation but the playground was open to the public.
“This is terrible anti-Semitism. This is a neighborhood with a lot of Jews who are proud of their Judaism and don’t hide it. It’s terrible that something like this is happening in New York,” Idan Shefi, an Israeli who lives near the school, told Ynet.
The incident comes amid a surge in hate crimes in New York City, especially attacks against Jews. The 55 hate crimes in the city so far this year represent a 72 percent increase over the same period last year, with close to two-thirds of the attacks this year targeting Jews, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The first-ever Forbes Under 30 Global Women’s Summit will take place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem later this year, the global media company announced on Tuesday.
The summit, which will bring together business and civil society leaders from across the world, will take place from March 31 to April 4. It will focus, organizers say, on women in leadership and entrepreneurialism.
“This year promises to be another defining year for women, with historic levels of women running for President in the US, heading to Congress and breaking through barriers across all facets of society around the world,” said Maggie McGrath, Editor of ForbesWomen.
“Yet, despite our global progress, only a small percentage of venture funding is going to women-led start-ups. There’s clearly a need to invest in more diverse perspectives to help close the gap,” she said.
“By bringing together the best minds in business from around the globe, we’ll foster candid discussions about the ways in which women are harnessing their power to reshape the way we invest, invent and live.”
Imagine a TV series that’s basically “Snatch” meets “Blade,” only it’s also super Jewish and the main character occasionally gets into discussions of classical Hebrew grammar with the mysterious rabbi who plays the Giles to his Buffy.
I’ve just described “Juda,” an Israeli vampire TV series I’ve been obsessed with ever since I found out about it roughly a year ago, and which Hulu has just acquired the rights to stream. I managed to obtain all eight episodes (we don’t really need to go into how, do we?) and loved it so much I spent hours translating and captioning it so my non-Hebrew speaking friends could watch it with me (HMU, Hulu, I’ve already done all the work!). They agreed with me that it was the best vampire TV series they’d ever watched, although that may have been a ruse to get me to untie them from the chairs.
Anyway. Remember that one time Buffy brandished a cross at a vamp and he was like, “Sorry, I’m Jewish,” and everyone lost their minds and was like, “YAY, A JEWISH VAMPIRE!”? I’m pretty sure the creators of this series were like, “Yeah, why aren’t there any Jewish vampires?” and set out to answer that question.
Combining elements of crime capers, body horror, comedy, music videos, classic noir, and superhero stories, “Juda” is actually sort of indescribable — one of the most original things I’ve seen on TV. According to Variety, it will premiere on Hulu early this year — and the original distribution company also sold the rights for an American remake — so without further ado, here are seven reasons you need to watch it as soon as they start streaming it (and maybe hit them up on Twitter to get on that).
With the launch of Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, a bid to make it the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters is now urging his fans to boycott the moon.
Waters says that people should make all efforts possible to avoid looking at the moon, reading about the moon or even saying the word “moon.” He has further demanded that the name of Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album be changed to “The Dark Side of the…”
“I am sad to see the moon has been taken over by bloodthirsty Zionists,” Waters wrote in a statement. “Anyone who supports the moon or gets any enjoyment from it, is actively taking part in the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the moon’s inhabitants.”
As of press time, Waters was seen walking around London’s parks harassing couples enjoying a romantic evening under the moonlight.
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