Matti Friedman: Israel’s Rihanna Is Arab and Jewish
In 2017, fresh off a gig opening for Radiohead in the U.S., the pop star sang at Israel’s official Independence Day celebration, an unusual gig for an Arab artist. The invitation came from the Likud culture minister, Miri Regev, a sharp-tongued hard-liner whose family roots are in North Africa, like those of many Likud voters. Ms. Regev has said that Arabic music “has something to offer Israeli culture.”
If you can understand why it makes sense for that statement to come from a right-wing politician and not from the left, you understand something tricky and important about Israel. The Israelis who are closest to the Arab world — the Jews whose families are native to that world — tend to lean to the political right, in part because they were treated with disdain by the left, and in part because Arab Muslim societies marginalized them, expelled them, seized their property and then, after 1948, subjected their new state to wars and a siege that has gone on for more than 70 years.
Israel’s founders always wanted the country to be European, and its Middle Eastern side was long kept in the cultural basement. This was reflected in the status of mizrahi music as a fringe scene scorned by critics and trafficked on bootleg cassettes. But in the past decade or two, Israel’s old elite, which was rooted in Eastern Europe and inspired by the socialist ideal of the kibbutz, has aged out of relevance, and the country’s repressed Middle Eastern soul has surged into the vacuum.
This helps explain why Israeli politics and culture — and pop music — are increasingly discordant for Westerners. There’s a renewed interest in the Jewish sages and religious poetry that flourished in the Islamic world, for example, like the liturgical form known as piyyut, which now shows up not just in college courses but on Top 40 radio. Even an Israeli supermarket aisle is confusing for a shopper expecting what a North American would consider Jewish food: the shelves are heavy on couscous, eggplants and the rest of the pantry of the Levant. There’s more and more about Israel that’s easier to grasp if you’re a Muslim from Beirut than if you’re a Jewish New Yorker. This is a key trend in the country right now, and Nasrin’s riding it.
Yaron Ilan, an influential mizrahi radio host, sees a generational change. People around his age, 50, still call the music mizrahi or Mediterranean. “They still think of the Mediterranean sound as something different from Israeli music,” and that has changed among younger listeners, he said. To them, what Nasrin is singing is Israeli music — and she’s doing it not in small clubs in south Tel Aviv but in the Menorah Arena, the biggest indoor venue in the city.
If Nasrin is representative of the hybrid culture emerging here, there’s one part of her biography that’s truly unique: her decision not just to sing in Hebrew but also to actually embrace Judaism. (h/t Zvi)
The Republican Jewish Coalition continued its attacks on the Democratic frontrunner, independent Senator Bernie Sanders, warning that voting for him would be “insane” because of his views on Israel.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, which has been one of Israel’s strongest defenders in American politics and strongly endorsed President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East earlier this month, called the video “Bernie Sanders – Insane,” just days after it warned that his emergence as the clear favorite following the Nevada caucuses was a highly worrisome development.
“How bad would Bernie Sanders be for Israel?” the video asks, as dramatic music is played in the background and Sanders waves to the crowd.
The video then goes on to list Sanders’s many controversial remarks, including his reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as racist. The video ends with, “Voting for Bernie Sanders would be insane.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders said on Tuesday that, if elected president, he would consider moving the US embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.
“The answer is it’s something we would take into consideration,” said Sanders at a Democratic primary presidential debate in South Carolina, when asked to comment on concern among American Jews that he’s not supportive enough of Israel. He then proceeded to once again criticize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“But here’s the point, I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that right now sadly, tragically in Israel through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” he added.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg also weighed in on the issue and said, “You can’t move the embassy back.” Instead, he said, “The answer is to obviously split it up.”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said moving the embassy is not a decision for the US to make and added, “We should let the parties determine the capitals themselves.”
US President Donald Trump relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, months after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a decision which angered the Palestinian Authority (PA).
I have my own fears, with which I’ve been grappling for years living in Amsterdam and revisited following the Aalst Carnival. If depicting Jews as insects is now permissible just outside the capital of the European Union, whereas it was unthinkable just 20 years ago, who knows what things will look like 20 years from now?
At one point during the event, my Belgian colleagues became aware of my presence there — perhaps because my reporting on last year’s edition was a key factor in the uproar that led to the UNESCO de-listing.
“Do you think this is an antisemitic event?” one Belgian colleague asked me.
It isn’t, I said, but it does have antisemitic elements that make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t support banning it because I believe in freedom of expression, I added.
I’m actually having a good time here, I told my colleagues, adding that my main regret is that my kids can’t enjoy it with me.
And I meant it. I’m considering taking them here next year because they’d have a blast and wouldn’t even notice the handful of Jewish references that I and my colleagues had sought out.
One wrinkle: I’m not so sure we’ll be in Europe next year.
Not for the first time in recent years, I found myself looking at housing options in Israel on the train out of Aalst.
With each new incident that reflects the mainstreaming of antisemitism in Western Europe, I’m increasingly considering the merits of moving my family to the Jewish state.
For all of the problems in Israel, at least events like the Aalst Carnival amount to little more than a bad joke somewhere far away.
At a carnival procession in Spain, participants dressed like Nazis and Jewish concentration camp prisoners while dancing next to a float evoking crematoria.
The Israeli Embassy in Madrid on Tuesday protested the display this weekend at the annual carnival procession in Campo de Criptana, a town situated about 80 miles southeast of the capital.
“We condemn the vile and repugnant representation that disrespects the victims of the Holocaust,” the embassy wrote on Twitter, “making fun of the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis. European nations must collectively fight anti-Semitism.”
A video of the procession shows the participants marching in their fake Nazi uniforms. Behind them, dancers wearing striped outfits evoking concentration camp uniforms followed while waving flags of Israel. They were followed by the float shaped like a train locomotive with two large chimneys.
One in five Europeans believes that a secret network of Jews influences global political and economic affairs, a recent survey found.
The same number also agreed with the statement “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own needs.”
The poll queried 16,000 respondents from 16 European countries. It was conducted in December and January in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland, and other countries.
The results were presented Monday at a conference about anti-Semitism organized in Paris by the European Jewish Association
– A quarter of respondents said that Israel’s policies make them understand why some people hate Jews.
– More than a quarter concurred with the statement that “Israel is engaged in legitimate self defense against its enemies.” A quarter of respondents disagreed and 46 percent did not express a position.
– More than a third agreed with the assertion that “During World War II, people from our nation suffered as much as Jews.”
Holocaust revisionism and classic anti-Semitic stereotypes were more common in Eastern Europe, whereas anti-Israel sentiments, including anti-Semitic ones, were more common in the west, according to Rabbi Slomo Koves, chairman of the Action and Protection League. The Budapest-based group is affiliated with the Hungarian Jewish community’s main watchdog on anti-Semitism.
A European Jewish organization unveiled its “plan to beat anti-Semitism” to dozens of leaders from across the continent on Tuesday, calling on them to adopt the strategy in their countries as an antidote to the rise in attacks on Jews in the region.
The plan introduced by the European Jewish Association at its annual conference in Paris calls on all European countries to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism; to appoint a special envoy on combating anti-Semitism; to mandate schools include lessons on anti-Semitism; and to legislate bans on anti-Semitic symbols in public, including Nazi imagery.
“We as Jewish communities cannot eradicate anti-Semitism on our own,” said the organization’s chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, at the plan’s unveiling.
“After 20 years dealing with this subject, I’ve come to the understanding that no matter how many schools we visit, and no matter how many delegations we bring to Auschwitz, it’s all just a drop in the bucket,” he said. “Therefore we realized that the way to fight anti-Semitism is to pass on the responsibility to European governments.”
Margolin said that much of the role of Jewish community leaders going forward will be to lobby legislators to take action.
Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders announced he will boycott this week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference because of the “bigotry” of leaders it hosts. If Sanders wants to boycott bigotry, he should look closer to home: at his anti-Semitic political cheerleaders.
Last Labor Day weekend, Sanders was the headliner in Houston at the 56th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, where the theme was, “What’s your super power for social good?”
Some misguided “super powers” suggested at the conference for “social good” include actual bigotry laced with anti-Semitism: the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks a “one-state solution” with a “right of return” for Palestinians so they outnumber Jews; the elimination of Israel from “the river to the sea,” as ally Marc Lamont Hill, a professor and author, declares; and violent hate, including a book, “Reliance of the Traveller,” which I bought in the conference bazaar for $39.99, sanctioning jihad as “war against non-Muslims” and “war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians.”
To my chagrin, as someone who voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary, these anti-Semites enjoy growing influence on Sanders, building a disturbing coalition with anti-Israel groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and Code Pink. Sanders’ supporters say they are “only anti-Zionist,” and Sanders denies his allies are anti-Semitic. But when you cheer a plan to destroy the state of the Jewish people, it is anti-Semitism. Hate of the Jewish state is anti-Semitism.
In Houston, activist Linda Sarsour slipped into the Grand Ballroom to cheer “Uncle Bernie,” as she calls Sanders. She has backed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who condemned “Satanic Jews” and said he was “anti-Termite,” not an “anti-Semite.” The year before, at the same conference, I heard Sarsour say it’s a “problem” to “humanize” Israelis.
At the time, the media, his detractors and even his supporters pondered on why he avoided his Judaism. A better question today, as the candidate is making his Jewish identity more central to this year’s campaign, is why a proud Jew refuses to engage with one of Jewish America’s most influential organizations.
One answer can be found in Sanders’ most recent campaign video itself.
Set to solemn music, the two-minute clip focuses on the rise in violent antisemitism and white nationalism, the Trump administration’s toxic rhetoric and the Sanders family’s persecution during the Holocaust.
The clip is a manifestation of underdog Judaism, one rooted in powerlessness and victimhood — a Judaism of suffering, persecution and discrimination.
In 110 seconds, viewers are shown clips of neo-Nazis chanting threats in Charlottesville, heaps of Jewish corpses in a concentration camp, the wrought-iron gates of Auschwitz and an ambulance at the scene of the infamous Monsey attack, when a man wielded a machete at Hasidic Jews on Hanukkah.
What emerges is not a video about Jewish pride but about Bernie Sanders’ supposed commitment to fighting antisemitism and religious bigotry.
Here, a paradox develops. While Sanders condemns antisemitism, he shows us that the only thing he is “proud” of is the Jewish experience of persecution. The Judaism he can accept is one that is helpless, indefensible and virtually powerless — a voiceless, crippled Judaism. A Judaism devoid of the State of Israel.
But Jews with some inkling of memory know all too well about the consequences of powerlessness.
Following Sen. Bernie Sanders’s decision to skip the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, a group of 347 rabbis has signed an open letter to the Democratic front-runner, saying they support AIPAC’s role in advancing the US-Israel relationship and reject his “outrageous comments.”
Sanders claimed on Saturday that the organization gives a platform “for leaders who express bigotry.”
AIPAC responded in a statement, saying that the Vermont senator’s comments were “truly shameful” and were considered an “odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event.”
This was an unusual reaction from a group that avoids public disputes with political leaders.
347 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox pulpit Rabbis to @BernieSanders:
As strong supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship and AIPAC’s role in advancing it, we reject Senator Bernie Sanders’ outrageous comment accusing AIPAC of fostering bigotry. (1/8) #AIPACProud pic.twitter.com/B2LsYQzA0n
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 26, 2020
America is getting a full dose of @berniesanders extremism. He glorifies communist Cuba & now he’s calling @AIPAC “leaders who express bigotry.” In the past, he’s called the Israeli govt “racist.” What’s next? @IlhanMN as Sec of State?
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 25, 2020
Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Wednesday slammed US Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders for his “shocking” remark at Tuesday’s party debate that, if elected president, he would consider moving the US embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv.
Moderator Major Garrett first asked Sanders about his recent criticism of pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. He asked, “What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you’re not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel, and specifically, would you move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv?”
“The answer is it’s something we would take into consideration,” Sanders said.
“I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months, but what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” he said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
“That remark is shocking,” Israel Katz said Wednesday in an interview with Army Radio.
He went on to assail the Independent senator from Vermont, while prefacing by saying that “we don’t intervene in the internal process in the United States, which is a strong democracy.”
“The remark by Sanders, who is of Jewish background, is his second against the State of Israel on topics that are at the core of Jewish belief, Jewish history and Israel’s security,” Katz said.
The first such remark was made at a J Street conference in October, when Sanders openly considered cutting US aid to Israel and giving the funds instead for humanitarian relief in Gaza in order to pressure the Jewish state to curb its settlement enterprise, enter peace talks with the Palestinians and improve the humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
“I would use the leverage of $3.8 billion,” he said at the time. “It is a lot of money, and we cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government, or for that matter to any government at all. We have a right to demand respect for human rights and democracy.”
US Democratic Party presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg will address the 2020 AIPAC Policy Conference next week, the powerful pro-Israel lobby announced Tuesday.
Bloomberg joins a growing list of powerful political figures from both the Democratic and Republican parties who are set to speak at the conference, but is the only Democrat vying for the party’s nomination that has confirmed he will attend.
Bloomberg’s decision to speak at the event puts him at odds with the party frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, who on Sunday snubbed the event and said he would not attend.
In the past the annual event has been regarded as a required stop for those seeking the White House. The 2020 conference will take place in Washington, DC, from March 1 to 4.
On Sunday, Sanders said on Twitter that he would not attend the confab, emphasizing that he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” Sanders and Bloomberg are both Jewish.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has already said she would not be attending.
To characterize AIPAC as a racist platform is offensive, divisive, and dangerous to Israel – America’s most important ally in the Middle East – and to Jews.
How can Bernie profess he’s the path to unity when he’s already managed to polarize a people and a party?#DemDebate
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 26, 2020
My friend at IfNotNow Becky Havivi just emailed me: “We had to shut down Biden and AIPAC’s legacy today.” Which was a jarring message to behold on a cold Wednesday morning. Especially so close to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference this weekend in Washington, DC.
Here’s what Becky reported: “This morning (it was Tuesday – DI), I marched with more than one hundred other IfNotNow members to Joe Biden’s campaign headquarters in Philly – and seven of us were arrested. Here’s why: despite grassroots pressure from our progressive coalition to do so, Joe Biden has refused to #SkipAIPAC.”
100 IfNotNow volunteers shut down Joe Biden’s headquarters in Philadelphia, Feb. 25, 2020. / Courtesy of Becky Havivi, IfNotNow
“Our protest disrupted his campaign activity days before his must-win primary in South Carolina. Today, we showed Biden that support for AIPAC and the Israeli occupation comes with political consequences.”
Becky added: “His campaign’s decision to arrest us and go to AIPAC is not surprising, but it’s certainly disappointing.”
You see, Joe, Becky is not angry, she is just so disappointed in you.
100 IfNotNow volunteers shut down Joe Biden’s headquarters in Philadelphia, Feb. 25, 2020. / Courtesy of Becky Havivi, IfNotNow
Becky also told me: “For any Democratic candidate to attend AIPAC’s policy conference is shameful and dangerous. We’ve already gotten both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to #SkipAIPAC, but we need to ramp up the pressure on the rest of the presidential candidates.”
A previously unseen 2018 campaign advertisement for an Illinois Democrat currently running for the US House of Representatives features attacks on her opponent for his support of AIPAC and his stance against the BDS movement.
Marie Newman, who is running in a primary against incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which leans Democratic, narrowly lost to Lipinski by less than 3 percentage points in the 2018 Democratic primary.
In the resurfaced ad, Edwards Realty Company president Edward Hassan said Lipinski “was the first one that signed to outlaw the BDS,” referring to the Protect Academic Freedom Act, which the congressman introduced in 2014 with then-Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). The legislation would have prohibited federal funds towards institutions that participate in boycotting Israeli institutions or scholars.
In an email to JNS, Lipinski said, “I make no apologies for being opposed to BDS and standing strong to condemn antisemitism in every form it takes. As co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, I remain focused on eradicating antisemitism and religious intolerance of any kind. It speaks volumes about my opponent that she would make this divisive ad and that her campaign chair would make such inflammatory statements.”
Also in the ad, Shadin Maali, a mother, community advocate and small-business owner, stated that Newman “doesn’t pander to special interest groups like AIPAC.” (Maali also happens to be Newman’s campaign chair.)
Review of “American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party” by Benjamin Weingarten, Bombardier Books, 2020.
Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has become something of a shadow haunting the American Jewish community and US politics in general. A Somali-born immigrant who has become a standard bearer for the far-left, Omar is characterized by an overwhelming hostility toward Jews and Israel. She has become without doubt the most powerful open antisemite in America today, and indeed the most powerful antisemite America has seen in decades.
The evidence of this is copious: Omar has claimed that Israel has “hypnotized the world” through its “evil doings,” called Israel a Jewish Iran, compared Israeli policies to Jim Crow segregation, and sought to travel to Israel under the sponsorship of an organization that disseminated the blood libel.
Most notorious, perhaps, is Omar’s “it’s all about the Benjamins” Twitter thread, in which she claimed AIPAC bribed Congress members to support Israel. She then asserted that supporting Israel is to hold allegiance to a foreign country, in effect calling 90% of American Jews traitors.
It is long past time for a book-length study and polemic on Omar and the danger she represents, and Benjamin Weingarten’s American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party is the first attempt to do so. As such, it ought to be a welcome event. Unfortunately, however, the book is at best a qualified failure.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan delivered a three-and-a-half-hour keynote speech at the Saviors’ Day conference in Detroit, Michigan on February 23, 2020. In his speech, Farrakhan spoke about the killing of IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces. Farrakhan said that he thinks he had met him during his visit to Iran. Farrakhan said that President Donald Trump killed his “brother Soleimani,” whom he called a “bad man” for killing Americans. Farrakhan questioned the U.S. presence in the Middle East, suggesting this was in order to protect its “little flunky nations” against Iran. He added that Soleimani was no terrorist, he was a “brother from Iran,” who was helping the people of Iraq rid themselves of an occupying army. Farrakhan added that former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also killed his “brother,” Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, and this is the reason he did not support her or vote for her. Farrakhan recounted that he told Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that he represents the Mahdi, who said that “America is number one on his list to be destroyed” and that it can be destroyed within 12 hours. In a “message for the Jewish people” he said that he is “not a hater” and that he has never given an order to “hurt a Jewish person” but he is going to “put a little truth on you, today.”
Farrakhan continued to say that America is falling because it has become “the habitation of devils, the hole for every foul person, a cage for every hateful bird.” He asked: “Have you become a nation of devils?” Farrakhan shouted at President Trump, quoting from the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit murder,” referring to the killing of Soleimani. He added, “Murder is your modus operandi […] you want me dead and after today you might want to speed it up […].”
Several mayors of Michigan towns attended the event as well as the Chief of Staff of Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who read a message of support to the Nation of Islam on stage. Nation of Islam’s new mosque is a former Jewish synagogue that was called Congregation Beth Moses. Farrakhan said in a June 23, 2019 speech that the property was purchased by a supporter of Nation of Islam who “loved the teachings so much that he put up $300,000 of his money so that we could purchase this former Jewish synagogue.”
The Metropolitan Police Service has informed Campaign Against Antisemitism that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will only charge one of the Labour Party activists reported by Campaign Against Antisemitism over antisemitism.
The decision comes well over a year after Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Chief Executive, Gideon Falter, referred an 86-page secret internal Labour Party dossier of evidence to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick live during a radio phone-in on LBC.
Mak Chishty, a former Commander in charge of hate crime at the Metropolitan Police Service, reviewed the dossier on air and found 45 cases of antisemitism in it, classifying seventeen cases as “race-hate incidents” which should have been reported to the police. According to Mr Chishty and Charlie Sherrard QC, a criminal barrister who works with Campaign Against Antisemitism, at least four further cases warranted criminal investigation. Mr Chishty said the incidents were “abhorrent” and described the language used as “absolutely horrible.”
The cases included:
– an activist who attacked a Jewish Labour MP as a “Zionist Extremist” who “hates civilized people” and was “about to get a good kicking” for spreading “Zionists propaganda”;
– an activist who posted an article containing Holocaust denial and antisemitic cartoons of Jews from a blog claiming to provide “intelligent antisemitism for the thinking gentile”;
– a Party member posting that “we shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all” and that “these Jewish f***ers are the devils”; and
– a party member accused of physically and verbally abusing a seven-year-old boy using racist epitaphs including “Paki” and “Jew-boy”.
Following the analysis of the dossier by Mr Chishty and Mr Sherrard, Dame Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, joined LBC’s Nick Ferrari for a phone-in. Mr Falter called in and officially reported the dossier live on air to the Commissioner.
Officers at New Scotland Yard then visited Mr Falter and opened a criminal investigation.
— Diva Augusta (@DivaAugusta1) February 25, 2020
In the same city where the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue was met with an outpouring of support for the Jewish community, and the promise that Pittsburgh is “no place for hate,” anti-Israel activists have weaponized anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in an attempt to end the academic career of a local Holocaust survivor and the only Israeli professor at Point Park University (PPU).
In October 2018, Dr. Channa Newman was accused by a female student of violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination or harassment at educational institutions that receive federal funding. According to a recent lawsuit by Dr. Newman, the accusation and the harsh steps taken by PPU in response, are the low point in an ongoing campaign by two of Dr. Newman’s colleagues, with the acquiescence of the administration, targeting Dr. Newman because she happens to be a citizen of Israel.
In recent years, Title IX has been repeatedly abused for political ends. For example, in 2015, a Northwestern professor, Laura Kipnis, was investigated under Title IX because of an opinion article she wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Ironically, the article itself discussed how Title IX was transformed from a classically liberal anti-discrimination law into a tool for an illiberal gender-quota regime. In Pittsburgh, that transformation has continued, now into a weapon of the anti-Zionist left.
Dr. Newman’s main antagonist, a professor in her department whom she helped to hire, is also active in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Of course, professors are allowed to have their personal opinions, and even to be active in social and political movements off campus. What crosses the line, however, is to target a fellow faculty member simply because she is an Israeli citizen. Indeed, the attacks on Dr. Newman, who before these accusations had an exemplary 55-year teaching record at Point Park, are only one piece of a larger campaign to delegitimize Israel on campus.
Besides the attack on Dr. Newman, publicly avowed anti-Zionists have been influencing students, who are most likely ignorant and vulnerable, and who mistake the “passionate hate” that BDS activism inspires for something positive, like a fight for justice and human rights.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler: God bless Professor Channa Newman!
Newman is a long-time professor of French and Cultural Studies and Chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, who has just sued Point Park University claiming “employment discrimination based on her Jewish and Israeli ancestry and alleging that there has been a concerted effort led by anti-Zionist faculty and students to create a hostile work environment.”
She is also a savvy Holocaust survivor who has certainly learned her lessons. What’s more, she lives and works in Pittsburgh, where white nationalist, Robert Gregory Bowers, unleashed a Jew-hating massacre at the “Tree of Life” synagogue on a Sabbath in October of 2018.
Newman has filed an 18-count complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the counts include: “Discrimination of race/national origin, religion, age, and sex; Retaliation by stripping of duties, removing as Chair; Hostile work environment causing Newman to feel unsafe; Breach of contract and negligent supervision by administration who Newman claims ignored her; Intention inflictional of emotional distress resulting from university’s action.”
In her lawsuit, Professor Newman has named another Point Park professor, Robert Ross, as having used his position to promote “highly anti-Zionist views and activities” and to “foster the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.” She has also named another professor, J. Dwight Hines as having aided and abetted Ross’s machinations.
Ross and Hines are two men who appear to be at least 30 to 40 years young than Newman; in turn, they have misled and used vulnerable, even younger students, in a witch-hunt against a women, a Jew, and an Israeli, who is in her late seventies—and whose academic accomplishments and knowledge base seem to far outshine their own.
.@ucdavis professor Joshua Clover denies the existence of Israel and also hopes it ends: “Israel is not a people…My holiday wish for you is freedom from both, and also that Israel be ended”https://t.co/boxkQAlzb7 pic.twitter.com/O7RHwL0zCO
— Canary Mission (@canarymission) February 26, 2020
At a men’s volleyball competition during the weekend, two players from Brooklyn College knelt during the singing of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, before a match against Jewish students of Yeshiva University.
It has become common in recent years for athletes to engage in anti-Israel political protests during sports competitions.
Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, said, “It is unfortunate that some members of the opposing team disrespected Israel’s national anthem. We are proud to be the only university who sings both the American and Israeli national anthems before every athletic competition and major event.”
“Nothing makes me prouder to be an American than living in a country where our religious freedom, our Zionism and our commitment to our people will never be impeded and always be prized.”
It’s like your ‘Who’s Who’ of Antisemites and terror apologists 👇 https://t.co/MSKgyDvIou
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 25, 2020
It comes down to this: you’re either with us or or you’re against us. You don’t get to ignore the need to protect Palestinian rights; the only question with any relevance asks whether you actively work to further those rights, or you remain content to see them violated daily, in which case you might as well don an Israeli Occupation Forces uniform and shoot the children of Gaza yourself. No two ways about it. No questioning its premise. Either you accept this dichotomy or you’re literally Hitler.
You can’t just stand on the sidelines. This arena has no sidelines. Every matter of importance in our lives stems from the constant injustice to which the Palestinians find themselves subjected every day, every hour. Your other pursuits can wait, if you even need them. Consider whether the thought you devote to choosing a breakfast cereal deserves the time and weight you give it – and whether by indulging in such luxuries while Palestinians face genocide, you demonstrate your sympathies with the oppressor. Always side with the victim, or you side with the oppressor by default. If you attempt to define “victim” differently from my formulation, mind you, you’re worse than Hitler.
I see you rolling your eyes! That’s oppressor-normative behavior right there. It shows you don’t take Palestinian concerns seriously – that you deny them the dignity of basic humanity. Your arguments using Eurocentric, white-supremacist-adjacent concepts such as “logic” and talk of “fallacies” such as the “slippery slope” only further illustrate the extent to which you adhere to systems of systemic oppression of people of color. Everyone knows exactly what uniform you’d wear in 1930’s Berlin.
After contact from CAMERA, The Washington Post deleted an offensive image that implied a connection between Jews and the coronavirus.
The Post’s Feb. 25, 2020 story, “The latest target of racist rumors about coronavirus: The ubiquitous dance troupe Shen Yun,” was initially accompanied by a picture of a visibly Jewish man.
The Post’s Twitter account also shared the article. The picture, taken from Kathy Wilkens of the Associated Press, appears in the dispatch along with a description stating “an Orthodox Jewish man passes a poster advertising Shen Yun as he walks to the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts on April 24, 2019, in Newark.”
But as CAMERA pointed out to Post staff, depictions of Jews spreading diseases are a staple of antisemitic propaganda and have appeared throughout history, often resulting in anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Indeed, as a Feb. 7, 2020 Times of Israel report noted: “The spread of and fear generated by the coronavirus has led extremists to promote conspiracy theories and share their anti-Semitic views, the Anti-Defamation League said.” (h/t MtTB)
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has proscribed the neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division as a terrorist group. This follows the proscription of National Action in 2016, for which Campaign Against Antisemitism had called.
Last year, two teenage members of Sonnenkrieg Division were prosecuted, as the court heard that they had posted messages that threatened Jews, non-white people and others “perceived to be complicit in the perpetuation of multiculturalism”.
Sonnenkrieg Division is believed to be a Nazi Satanist violent sexual festish group that formed after a split with another neo-Nazi group, System Resistance Network, which is itself an offshoot of National Action.
Campaign Against Antisemitism continues to call for the proscription of System Resistance Network as well.
Ms Patel said: “Recent attacks here and in Germany have highlighted the threat we continue to face from violent extremism. We are working to keep the public safe by increasing funding for counter-terror police and strengthening the law to keep terrorists locked up for longer. By proscribing these groups, we are making it much harder for them to spread their hateful rhetoric.”
Employees of the Dutch national railways sang for train passengers a soccer song about Jews that the state-owned company said was “wholly inappropriate.”
Nederlandse Spoorwegen, or NS, apologized on Sunday for the incident, which happened just after midnight aboard a train heading from a parade in the southern city of Tilburg to Rotterdam.
“Where do the Jews come from? From Israel, far away. Do super Jews live there, too? Yeah, super Jews live there, too. Do Jews like soccer? Only when they’re rooting for Ajax,” the employees sang, the AD newspaper reported based on complaints by some of the passengers.
Ajax is the main soccer team of Amsterdam. Its supporters and players are often referred to as “Jews,” perhaps in recognition of Amsterdam’s rich Jewish history. Many non-Jewish Ajax fans refer to themselves as Jews and wave Israeli flags at matches.
Supporters of other teams have taken to taunting Ajax supporters with antisemitic imagery and chants about Hamas, gas chambers, Nazis and burning Jews. In recent years, the chants have increasingly begun to appear in contexts that are not related to soccer, such as the carnival and school graduation parties.
A Montreal-area home contains a century-old clause in its deed preventing its sale to a Jewish person, Canada’s CTV News reported this week.
Real estate broker Anne-Marie Ashcroft told CTV she discovered the clause, which dates back to 1918, while working to sell the home in Lery, Quebec.
“It’s terrible,” she said. “It’s gross and it’s not something we can just brush under the rug.”
And removing it completely from the deed requires taking the matter to court, so sellers “would have to undertake the expense and the stress of doing something like that, which is obviously ridiculous,” she added.
It is the second home near that Canadian city in Quebec discovered to contain such a “servitude clause” barring sale to anyone of Jewish origin.
In January, it was discovered that a farmer in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu included a clause refusing sale to Jewish people when he subdivided into lots and sold his property about 60 years ago. Today there are some 350 homes on that land, the Canadian Jewish News reported.
The travel booking and review website TripAdvisor has named Tel Aviv as one of its top 10 trending destinations for 2020.
The Israeli coastal metropolis ranked number 9 on the list of locations that have seen the biggest rise in positive reviews and ratings on the platform over the last year.
“From nightlife and history to food and world-class best beaches, Tel Aviv is a city of many talents and hidden attractions,” TripAdvisor said. “Widely hailed as the number one party destination in the Middle East, the city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast is filled with white stone buildings, bustling bars and some of the world’s most respected museums.”
Krakow, Poland, rounded off the top 10 and TripAdvisor made note of the city’s “stunning Jewish quarter,” as well as the fact that it is “a short drive” from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum.
The top trending tourist destination was the Indian city of Kochi, followed by Luzon (Philippines), Porto (Portugal), Porto Seguro (Brazil), Gramado (Brazil), Lombok (Indonesia), Da Nang (Vietnam) and Zakynthos (Greece).
The Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Wednesday that actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and her actor/producer husband, Michael Douglas, will cohost the 2020 Genesis Prize Ceremony.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place on June 18 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, honoring Jewish hero, human rights activist and former chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.
The $1 million prize, named the “Jewish Nobel” by Time magazine, is being awarded to Sharansky for his advocacy of human rights, democracy and efforts to unify the Jewish people.
Prize funds have previously been donated to causes that the award winners have been passionate about, ranging from combating antisemitism, to fighting delegitimization of Israel, to including intermarried couples in the Jewish community, to improving the lives of people with special needs, to advancing women’s rights and decreasing the global refugee crisis.
As Jerusalem and Riyadh inch closer to ties, travel blogger Alex Lapshin jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first-ever Israelis to visit Saudi Arabia after it recently opened its gates to citizens of the country looking to explore investment opportunities there.
According to Lapshin, the people of Saudi Arabia were “extremely friendly.” He said the Saudis he met all knew he was from Israel, showed interest in the country, and were overjoyed by the newly developing relationship between the two countries.
Still, Lapshin advises some degree of caution, “since the country was closed off to strangers for so many years.”
“They are pretty mistrustful of tourists, I’m afraid the average Israeli will run into a few minor problems while visiting here,” he says.
Holding both Israeli and Russian citizenship, Lapshin has visited more than 146 countries. He received global attention in 2016 when he was arrested in Minsk at the request of the Azerbaijani authorities and extradited for previously entering the country illegally. He was pardoned soon after by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, following an international outcry, and returned to Israel.
And although Lapshin entered Saudi Arabia on his Russian passport, he says that when he showed airport security that he was also carrying an Israeli passport, they smiled at him and invited him to travel the country as a citizen of Israel.
“Some people said it was their dream to visit Israel as tourists,” says Lapshin, who traveled all across Saudi Arabia, starting at the southern border the country shares with Yemen – where monkeys roam free – and ending in the forest-covered border with Jordan in the north.
“Saudi Arabia is vast and different; more akin to America than any other place in the Middle East,” says Lapshin.
“The country is filled with Europeans and Americans looking for work since the salaries here are crazy, starting at about $10,000 per month.”
Former star receiver for the University of Alabama football team Jerry Jeudy on Tuesday apologized to anyone he offended with his fashion statement at the NFL combine.
Jeudy sported a gold Star of David pendant around his neck during his media session Tuesday at the annual gathering of top NFL prospects.
Asked about its significance he explained it was in reference to the first syllable of his surname.
“My last name’s Jeudy. People sometimes call me ‘Jew,’ … So, I just got a Jewish star,” he explained. “I’m not Jewish, though.”
Jeudy, the headliner of a deep wide receiver class, later tweeted an apology.
“Don’t mean no disrespect to the Jewish people! I’m sorry to the people who take my chain offensive!!” Jeudy wrote.
Dozens of Ethiopian immigrants landed in Israel on Tuesday morning, though their abrupt, government-sponsored arrival less than a week before the elections had been opposed by the attorney general, who ruled it could be seen as a campaign move courting Ethiopian Israeli voters.
The 43 members of the Falash Mura community arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on a flight from Addis Ababa. They were accompanied by ministers and figures from the ruling Likud party, including Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant, Communications Minister David Amsalem, MK Gadi Yevarkan, and former Knesset member Avraham Neguise, Channel 12 news reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been pushing to bring 400 Falash Mura to Israel, where many of their family members already live. Some community members have been waiting for years to immigrate to Israel.
Earlier this month the cabinet approved bringing the new immigrants despite opposition over the timing from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who argued in a legal opinion that the move could be interpreted as a campaign ploy directed at Ethiopian Israelis just weeks before the March 2 election.
The Health Ministry has also controversially eased demands for medical checks and vaccinations that apply to immigrants from Ethiopia in order to expedite the process, allowing at least some of the new immigrants to arrive prior to next week’s election.
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