March 8, 2021

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03/01 Links Pt2: Progressive Replacement Theology; Phillips: Why Labour’s antisemitism is a crisis for the world; Europe’s Ubiquitous Anti-Semitism

From Ian:

Progressive Replacement Theology
Instead, a new faith emerged: progressivism. A time traveler, unaware of the developments of the last eight decades, might’ve been forgiven for listening to a modern-day progressive speak and mistaking her for a fundamentalist Christian: Jesus’ observation that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven sounds like something Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in a moment of inspiration, might say to an adoring interviewer on CNN. With its emphasis on social justice, criminal justice reform, elevating the poor, and rejecting the rapacious policies of the greedy and the affluent, progressivism sounds a lot like Christianity. Except that it has chosen to reject Christianity and all other forms of faith as silly superstitions, to abolish history by proposing that it has but one throughline—progress!—and to set up instead a religion that fails to see itself as one and, as such, is condemned to repeat Christianity’s worst transgressions.

Beginning, sadly, with the Jews. In Ilhan Omar’s suggestion that none in Congress before her had been refugees, in Salazar and Ocasio-Cortez’s sudden and questionable claim of Jewish heritage, even in the rush of many on the far left to argue that Jews of color are the real Jews and that the rest of us are somehow complicit in Klan-like prejudice—in all these we see the old wheels of replacement theology turning. Judaism may have given us much understanding of justice, but if progressivism is to claim its modern-day mantle, Judaism has to be argued away, which begins by anointing the progressives the real new Jews.

If you doubt that any of this is true, try for a moment to think rationally about the way most progressives talk about Israel. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume for a moment that those who assiduously claim that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not interchangeable are correct. Let us accept that one may have a host of pressing critiques of Jerusalem and its policies. What, we may now ask, are those all about? To hear many American progressives tell it, Israel is worthy of special attention because of the inordinate amount of American foreign aid it receives. If that were the case, we could safely assume that as Israel receives about twice as much aid as, say, Egypt, we might expect our media to write one story about Egypt’s transgressions for every two they write about Israel. The ratio, sadly, is very different. It’s skewed, too, if you compare the uproar about Israel to the attention paid to other areas of conflict and human rights violations around the world: Everywhere you look, the world’s only Jewish state is singled out for calumny. The reason is simple: Israel provides progressivism’s zealots with a convenient opportunity to mask their theological decrees as rational, reasonable, and worldly politics. By focusing all of your attention, energy, and rage on the Jews, you may declare yourself, just as Origen and Hippolytus had centuries ago, to be the rightful heir to an enlightened tradition abandoned by those who were once God’s chosen people but who are no longer.

You’d hope that the tenured hordes that make up so much of progressivism’s vanguard would know all this, but religious extremism, as Jewish history has tragically proved again and again, is blinding. We can only hope that one day soon a progressive Augustine may arise and temper the hate of his new secular faith. Until then, we Jews should do what we’ve done so gallantly for millennia and protect ourselves against the spurious claims of fanatics with dangerous ideas. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Melanie Phillips: Why Labour’s antisemitism is a crisis for the world

Mahmoud Abbas – viewed by the Western Left as a statesman-in-waiting – has a doctorate in Holocaust denial, explicitly venerates the Palestinian Nazi-ally Haj Amin al-Husseini who undertook to slaughter every Jew in the Middle East in the event of Hitler’s victory, and uses his media outlets to transmit medieval and Nazi-style demonization of the Jews.

His followers claim the Jews were behind 9/11, that Israel is out to destroy the Islamic world, and that the Jews control the world’s media, finance and US foreign policy.

So why should Labour Party members who support the Palestinians with their agenda of Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power, now be so shocked that Labour Party members are themselves coming out with Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power?

Antisemitism, which is always with us, is kept down only by unequivocal social disapproval. Support for Palestinianism, however, has served to legitimize it. This has not just encouraged its brazen expression on the Left. It has also created a climate which has emboldened neo-Nazis and their ilk to crawl out from under their stone.

There are of course other reasons behind the epidemic of antisemitism: cultures that are fragmenting or dying, a Western world that has lost confidence in modernity and reason, and a Europe that cannot bear the guilt of the Holocaust.

Ultimately, though, the scapegoating of the Jews signals a fundamental loss of moral compass. That this is now taking place across the world should terrify not just Jews but everyone.

NYTs: To Argue for the Abolition of the Jewish Homeland Flirts with Anti-Semitism

There’s nothing anti-Semitic about sympathy for the Palestinian cause or support of Palestinian statehood. But where anti-Zionism crosses into anti-Semitism should be obvious: dehumanizing or demonizing Jews and propagating the myth of their sinister omnipotence; accusing Jews of double loyalties as a means to suggest their national belonging is of lesser worth; denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination; blaming through conflation all Jews for the policies of the Israeli government; pursuing the systematic “Nazification” of Israel; turning Zionism into a synonym of racism.

The denial of the millennial Jewish link to the Holy Land and the dismissal of the legal basis for the modern Jewish state in UN Resolution 181 of 1947 (Arab armies went to war against its Palestinian-Jewish territorial compromise and lost) as a means to argue for the abolition of the Jewish homeland and portray it as an immoral, colonial exercise in theft often flirts with anti-Semitism. It is at its most egregious when it issues from Europeans who seem to have forgotten where the Holocaust was perpetrated. Once in the gas chambers was enough for the Jews.

The fundamental link between European anti-Semitism and the decision of Jews to embrace Zionism in the conviction that only a Jewish homeland could keep them safe is something contemporary European theorists of a demonic Israel prefer to forget.

Unrepentant Ilhan Omar suggests Jews who criticize her anti-Semitic statements are doing so because she’s Muslim, revives dual-loyalty smear

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D.-Minn., who earlier this month was forced into a hostage tape style fake apology for anti-Semitic tweets, is unrepentant. Speaking at a liberal event in Washington, she accused Jews who have criticized her anti-Semitic statements as holding her to a different standard because she’s Muslim, while again peddling a classic anti-Semitic dual loyalty smear.

To briefly recap, earlier this month the freshman Democrat lamented Jewish influence in Washington by tweeting out “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” She then followed it up by saying she meant AIPAC and then promoted several other supportive tweets furthering the same argument about Jewish donor influence. After widespread condemnation, she was forced into a fake apology by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she unknowingly spread anti-Semitism. This was the second time in a matter of weeks she had been forced to apologize, previously pleading ignorance about why her statement that “Israel has hypnotized the world” carried anti-Semitic connotations. Tlaib, for her part, has spread the dual-loyalty smear targeting American supporters of Israel.

Cut to Wednesday night, when Omar and Tlaib were at a left-wing event held at the activist cafe Busboys and Poets.

A report from the Jewish Insider sets the scene:
“It is about the Benjamins,” shouted one audience member to laughter and acclaim, referencing Rep. Omar’s now-deleted tweet linking Congressional support for Israel to Jewish influence and lobbying. To this, Reps. Omar and Tlaib both smiled along furtively.

According to the report, “the moderator asked what ‘we as a community here can do to support you criticizing Israel for some of the war crimes that it has done so that it’s not seen as “‘you’re anti-Semitic’?”

The report reads: “Rep. Omar elaborated that when she hears her Jewish constituents offer criticisms of Palestinians, she doesn’t automatically equate them as Islamophobic but is ‘fearful’ that people are painting her as anti-Semitic because she is a Muslim. Omar continued, ‘What I’m fearful of — because Rashida and I are Muslim — that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim,’ she explained.”

Ilhan Omar’s offensive comments about U.S. Jews extend disturbing pattern

The latest comment will be difficult to walk back. Unlike the tweets, they can’t be deleted. The problem is that she may now be normalizing these views. Given the past two apologies, it appears clear that the views at Busboys and Poets are articulating a deeply-held view. In this worldview Jews and Israel seem to play a large role in her agenda. Unlike other members of Congress who rarely discuss Jews and don’t focus on Israel that often, she seems to spend an almost obsessive amount of time on the issue. Her claim that she is portrayed as anti-Semitic because she is Muslim is a way to distract from the fact that it is she who has sought to focus so much on Israel. There are many other issues she could focus on, the constant Israel comments and attempt to then turn the tables on critics by using her Muslim identity is a way to make this a Muslim-Jewish issue. She doesn’t just critique the Israeli government’s policies, she continually references pro-Israel influence in the US.

Why is Israel front and center for Omar? Congress isn’t being called upon to debate Israel issues that often. It is dealing with other scandals such as Michael Cohen’s testimony. Omar sought to respond to accusations of antisemitism in an interview published on February 28 at The Intercept. She said she had apologized in the past “for the way that my words made people feel.” But she went on to note that she was being condemned “for speaking the truth about, you know, the kind of influences that exist, that determine, you know our foreign and domestic policies and for that I think, you know, my tweet kind of spoke of it.” She went on to say that “the theme here is because I’m Muslim.” She argued that others have critiqued AIPAC influence and foreign policy. “No one calls them anti-Semitic because they are Jewish but when it comes to someone like me, even the slight mention of them…”

In the Intercept interview she appears to be constructing a clear framework and worldview. In this view she says she is merely speaking the truth about influence in Washington and that she is held to a different standard because she is Muslim and not Jewish. She doesn’t really think the previous tweets were problematic but deleted them because the words hurt people. This is important because it doesn’t appear she has thought through the issue of why they hurt people or. were seen as offensive.

More Local Labour Parties Jump on Pro-Chris Williamson Bandwagon

Both Hackney North and Sheffield Hallam have doubled down on Chris Williamson’s assertion that the Labour Party has been “too apologetic” in dealing with its anti-Semitism crisis.

Diane Abbott’s Constituency Labour Party passed a motion asserting “it is a scandal that we are allowing ourselves to be branded as a racist party” and urged the leadership to issue a statement “rejecting the accusation that the Labour Party is in any way ‘institutionally racist’”. For good measure the motion also called for immediate mandatory re-selection ballots of all MPs…

Sheffield Hallam Labour Party almost unanimously passed a motion of concern in the suspension of Chris Williamson, alleging that he has been “falsely accused of anti-Semitism” and put up by an “establishment media” conspiracy promoting the idea that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic.

The Sheffield motion further alleges Chris Williamson has only been suspended “because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters”. They resolved to write a letter of support to Chris Williamson and send a demand to Jennie Formby that Williamson is immediately reinstated as a Labour member…

NGO Monitor PodCast: Episode 15: NGO Monitor in Serbia

Host: NGO Monitor Director of Research Yona Schiffmiller
NGO Monitor’s Vice President Olga Deutsch discusses her recent appearance in the Serbian parliament in Belgrade, and that country’s relationship with civil society and foreign government support for local NGOs.

After Controversies, University of Essex Hosts 500-Person Rally Against Antisemitism

Some 500 students, staff and community members gathered at the University of Essex on Thursday in a show of solidarity against antisemitism, after the formation of the English school’s Jewish Society faced opposition from hundreds of students while a lecturer was accused of sharing offensive posts on Jews, Israel, and the Holocaust.

Vice Chancellor Anthony Forster applauded the Students’ Union decision to ratify the Jewish society last week, after some 200 students voted against it in a poll.

“Today we have come together to show that antisemitism is completely antithetical to the values of the University of Essex — and it has absolutely no place on our campuses and in our relationships with each other,” Forster said, reiterating the school’s commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

“Antisemitism will not end simply because we stood together on this day at this time to oppose it,” he added. “Each and every one of our community needs to ensure that by our actions, the lived experience of Jewish people at our University is one of which we can be proud.”

The university attracted public scrutiny following reports of opposition to the Jewish society, allegedly including from 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.

CAMERA Sends Letter to UMC in Oklahoma About CATCUSA

Stephen Sizer

Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer speaking from the podium at CATCUSA in 2018. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

To make matters worse, Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, an Anglican Priest who was censured by his superiors in the Church of England for, among many other things, promoting articles that blamed Israel for the September 11, 2001 attacks, was also a featured speaker at the CATCUSA conference. Conference organizers truly interested in the cause of peace would not include Rev. Dr. Sizer on their agenda. Rev. Dr. Sizer has banged on about the evils of Zionist influence on American politics in two of the most antisemitic countries in the world: Malaysia and Iran. Why invite him to a “peacemaking” conference? (Again, CATCUSA has every right to invite whoever it wants, but was it the right thing to do?)

Predictably, Rev. Dr. Sizer offered up a theology that was equally antagonistic to Jewish identity and self-understanding. During his talk, he declared that “the Hebrew Scriptures are about Jesus Christ. If you don’t see Jesus as central to a book of the Old Testament, you have not understood it.”

Rev. Dr. Sizer directed the force of this hermeneutic toward Christian Zionists. But in attacking Christian Zionists, he obliquely condemns Jews — who regard the Hebrew Scriptures as telling their history — as obdurate and blind because of their refusal to see Jesus Christ in these texts.

That there is something wrong with Jews for failing to accept Jesus as their messiah has been a persistent idea that has been offered with varying degrees of explicitness at Christ at the Checkpoint conferences in the West Bank.

Interestingly enough, the notion that Muslims do not understand Jesus could also apply to Muslims in the Middle East. But this polemic is rarely directed at this community at CATC events, largely out of respect for Islamic religious sensibilities. That’s a good thing. But the differential manner in which CATC speakers have dealt with issues related to Islam and Judaism over the years is remarkable.

Simply put, CATCUSA allowed supersessionist Christians to put Jews behind the eight-ball so to speak.

City University of New York allegedly plays down antisemitism

The City University of New York (CUNY) is reportedly playing down allegations of antisemitism at Kingsborough Community College, which is a part of public university system in the city.

This comes following a leaked email on February 21 to the CUNY Board of Trustees, President Claudia Schrader appeared to blame the media for shedding light on antisemitism on campus.

According to The Lawfare Project, a client Michael Goldstein, a Kingsborough Community College (KCC) administrator and adjunct professor, recently published an op-ed in the New York Daily News about the severe antisemitism he has experienced on campus, and pointed out the failure of his university administration to address the issue.

In the leaked email, Schrader told the Board of Trustees that exciting news about KCC earning prestigious recognition for narrowing equity gaps, was “to some extent being shadowed by the spate of negative news coverage that has recently appeared in the local press regarding allegations of antisemitism on our campus.

“The campus is also being besieged by a torrent of angry emails, expressing outrage on the part of individuals who are unknown and external to the college,” she wrote.

“As a staunch supporter of the college, you undoubtedly share my concerns,” she emphasized in the email. “It is indeed unfortunate that our beloved college community has been subjected to negative press that now has the potential to undermine the college’s good reputation and imperil the outstanding work, done by so many, to advance student success.

Cornell President to Students for Justice in Palestine: “I must reject your call for BDS-related divestment”

Cornell President Pollack has rejected the SJP divestment demand. The text of President Pollack’s letter was posted on the Cornell Hillel Facebook page:

I have confirmed with the University that the following is the text of President Martha Pollack’s response to SJP. It is a particularly strong statement:

Dear Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine,

Thank you for your letter and for sharing your thoughts regarding the BDS movement. While I appreciate your dedication to the issues that are outlined in your letter, I must reject your call for BDS-related divestment.

Cornell is an educational institution, and its primary purpose is to further the education of students, and the general public, through our teaching, research and engagement mission. Cornell is not primarily an agent to direct social or political action, but rather a neutral forum for analysis, debate and the search for truth. Similarly, the principal purpose of our endowment is to provide income for advancing our mission-related objectives and must not be viewed as a means of exercising political or social power.

Given that your letter shares your broader perspective on the BDS movement, I must also take this opportunity to share mine, which is a strong opposition to BDS. BDS unfairly singles out one country in the world for sanction when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial. Moreover, it places all of the responsibility for an extraordinarily complex geopolitical situation on just one country and frequently conflates the policies of the Israeli government with the very right of Israel to exist as a nation, which I find particularly troublesome. And, although not mentioned in your petition, the BDS movement, consistent with its name, calls for boycott, including academic boycott, which is at odds with Cornell’s core commitment to academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas. Since its founding, Cornell has cultivated countless academic collaborations abroad, relationships that we encourage even in countries that have governments with which some faculty, students, and alumni have significant disagreements. These partnerships have supported our teaching, research and engagement mission and have resulted in outcomes that have benefitted the people of many countries, including our own.

This is a challenging time in history, with our university and the country confronting difficult matters of race, religion and politics, to name just a few, that could easily divide us. Here at Cornell, I am heartened to see an honest commitment to the hard work of respectful dialogue and mutual understanding that can help us to overcome differences and to find a way forward. I hope that instead of polarizing calls for divestment, the community can engage in productive discourse around paths forward in the Middle East, drawing on the kind of thoughtful analysis that defines us as a university. The high ideals of our students, faculty and staff are an inspiration, and I am hopeful that our nation and our university will both emerge stronger as a result.

Thank you again for reaching out to me.

Martha E. Pollack

IfNotNow Squeezing Birthright: Condemn the ‘Occupation’ or Face the Wrath of our Protesters

In an email sent by IfNotNow on Friday, the vehemently anti-Israel group boasted: “Now that we have exposed the moral disaster at the heart of Birthright, we’re demanding that by April 5th Birthright make a change — confront the crisis and stop hiding the reality in Israel/Palestine.”

“If they refuse,” the email threatens, using the tone often used by kidnappers and blackmailers, “hundreds of young American Jews will gather at Birthright headquarters in New York City to ask Birthright one last time, ‘Will you confront the crisis of the Occupation?’”

But wait, there’s more: “Over the next month, we’ll be showing up at Jewish institutions across the country and asking them to join us in demanding that Birthright educate its participants about the daily nightmare of the Occupation,” the email promises. “If Birthright refuses to make the clear moral choice, hundreds of young American Jews will show up at Birthright’s headquarters on April 5th, bringing each and every one of the signatures with us.”

Duke University Faces Anti-Semitism Charges for Editorial Smearing AIPAC

Duke University’s administration and student newspaper, the Chronicle, are facing charges of anti-Semitism after editors on the student newspaper penned an editorial smearing a prominent pro-Israel lobbying group and defending anti-Jewish comments recently made by freshman representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).

In a recent unsigned editorial, “AIPAC and the blockade on critiquing Israel,” students at the Chronicle defended Omar’s recent declaration that powerful Jewish interests control politics, an age-old anti-Semitic trope that was condemned by Democratic and Republican leaders.

The op-ed, which set off a firestorm on campus, particularly among pro-Israel and Jewish students, went on to repeat anti-Semitic canards about Jewish control in politics and allege that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, wields outsized control over lawmakers.

Both the university leadership and the Chronicle editorial staff declined Washington Free Beacon requests for comment on the matter, leaving the op-ed and its smears to publicly stand. This has riled pro-Israel leaders and those who work to combat anti-Semitism across the globe.

The editorial decries “Israel’s murderous policies in Palestine” and inaccurately alleges that “AIPAC has ensured that Israel remains one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid without having to answer for the 295 Palestinians killed and 29,000 injured by Israeli forces in 2018.”


The issue:
Last year revealed the limits of free speech at the University of Sydney. When political economy lecturer Tim Anderson featured a Nazi swastika painted over an Israeli flag in one of his lectures, the university gave him the boot.gave him the boot… Melbourne’s Institute for Public Affairs [called] his sacking… ‘hostile to freedom of speech’.

But is sacking a physics teacher who says 2+2=5 also an attack on free speech? Doesn’t the university have a responsibility to provide students with lecturers who teach something as close to the truth as we know?

Henry Ergas has more:
It is, to begin with, misleading to suggest that Anderson is being prevented from expressing his opinions; he remains entirely free to publicise them, as he indeed does. Rather, the fundamental issue is whether academic freedom gives him an untrammelled right to use the classroom as he wishes…

Universities are society’s custodians of the best methods involved in the pursuit and transmission of knowledge. And just as it is the first duty of physicians to heal their patients, so it is the first duty of academics to preserve and advance those methods and to impart them, and the truths they uncover, to students…

Controversial Muslim cleric who said that the 9/11 attack was a ‘comedy show’ draws a gender-segregated audience of more than 800 adherents to mosque during his Australian tour

An Egyptian sheik who said the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a ‘comedy show’ has delivered a sermon to a packed out crowd at a mosque in western Sydney.

Sheik Omar Abdel Kafi, 67, spoke to almost 800 people at Masjid As-Sunnah in Lakemba on Friday night during the final stop on his Australian tour.

Men and women were required to sit in separate rooms as they listened intently to what he had to say.

Due to the vast amount of people in attendance, his lecture was broadcast on televisions at different levels of the building.

Dr Abdel Kafi spoke about Islam and how everyone should be working to become a better Muslim and to always be thankful to God for all the blessings.

He also reiterated stories of the Sultan of Egypt and Syria – Saladin – who is a prominent figure in Islam.

In 2015, Dr Abdel Kafi told supporters that Muslims were not involved in the 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo terror attacks – calling both massacres ‘comedy films’.

‘This play to which Muslims are subjected to ad nauseum across the world is the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11,’ he said in a video translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

BBC News again ignores Palestinian Authority’s financial own goal

That policy reflects a statement made by Mahmoud Abbas late last year.

“I say this to everyone – the salaries of our Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded are a red line. They [Israel] try by all means, and exert pressure by all means, and they continue to exert: “It cannot be that you will pay.” And they’ll even deduct our money that’s in their hands. They’ll deduct from it the amount that we pay to the Martyrs. We have said that this is a red line and we will not allow [it]. From 1965 until now, this matter is sacred to us. The Martyrs and their families are sacred, [and so are] the wounded and the prisoners. We must pay all of them. If one penny remains in our hands it is for them and not for the living.” [Official PA TV, Oct. 28, 2018]

Given that in the past we have seen that the BBC’s interest in stories relating to Palestinian Authority finances does not include those concerning the PA’s deliberate own goals, it is not surprising that to date BBC audiences have heard nothing of this story.

Diminishing the Horrors of Nazism

There is an unfortunate tendency by some who possess a pulpit — whether media or otherwise — to embellish valid (or invalid) points by flippantly tossing out the epithet “Nazis”.

For example, MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle program recently featured journalist Elise Labott demonizing far-right wing parties in Israel as “neo-Nazis” in her discussion of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s alliance with them. She said:
A lot of these right wing parties which Netanyahu has been cozying up to …[are] the extremist parties that have some kind of neo-Nazi tendencies, white Supremacist tendencies, if you will…

What she was criticizing was Netanyahu’s widely-condemned alliance with the right-wing Jewish Home and National Union parties that formed a voting bloc with the controversial Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party.While the first two are simply nationalist parties on the right, Otzma Yehudit has its roots in the late Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, established in 1971 and eventually banned because of its racist platform. Otzma Yehudit’s radical platform includes establishing a theocracy in Israel, taking over the Temple Mount and encouraging the emigration of the “enemies of Israel” from the country, which they take to mean most Arabs, or at least those who oppose a Jewish state.

Whatever one may think about the party’s platform –illiberal, undemocratic, or racist — it is a gross overstatement to compare it to Nazism, a movement that considered Jews, Gypsies and others inherently inferior–sub-humans to be starved, tortured and brutally mass-murdered. To call Jewish Home, National Union, or even Otzma Yehudit akin to Nazis is to abuse the memories of the milliions who were slaughtered by Hitler’s followers.

Europe’s Ubiquitous Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism is like the flu: uncomfortable, sickly, occasionally deadly, but constantly with us. Every few decades, it mutates into an epidemic. As a British Jew, I kept on telling myself that it would pass. I kept thinking it is just not that important, unless I decide to live and work in Cairo or Tehran. I kept thinking that even after I was pinned to a wall, throttled, and punched in the head by supporters of George Galloway in 2015 shouting, “Get out, you f…ing Jew.”

I made a mistake. I felt a creeping horror when eight Labour MPs left their party, in no small part because of the protracted anti-Semitism crisis. I felt it again, stronger, when I saw the footage of the Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut being mobbed by yellow-vested protesters who yelled, “France belongs to us” and “Dirty Zionist.” A protest movement sparked by fuel prices was now all about the Jews.

The days that European Jews could lead public lives not defined by anti-Semitism were over. We were back, not to the days of Hitler, but to the days when being a Jewish public figure was a constant struggle – a process of endlessly navigating an ever-mutating conspiracy theory against you.

The Ancient Christian Roots of Some Modern Anti-Zionism

According to a doctrine espoused by some of the earliest Christian thinkers, Jesus’ life and death brought an end to Jews’ identity as the chosen people, now replaced by the Christian church. To this idea, known as supersessionism or replacement theology, St. Augustine added what was later called the “teaching of contempt”—that Jews are condemned to suffer for their rejection of Jesus and complicity in his death. These doctrines were renounced by the Vatican and by most Protestant denominations following World War II. Yet, writes Jon D. Levenson, they have resurfaced, in modern guise, in anti-Zionist rhetoric. Take for instance, the decision of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to endorse divestment from Israel in 2004:

The gross double standard [at work in such condemnations of the Jewish state] suggests that the loudly professed moral concerns of the Presbyterians (and other Protestant groups that have passed similar resolutions) do not fully account for their anti-Israel actions. What, then, does account for them?

To answer this, we must return to [the Presbyterians’] 1987 statement renouncing the teaching of contempt. In its sixth affirmation, the statement makes the claim that the book of Genesis

indicates that “the land of your sojournings” was promised to Abraham and his and Sarah’s descendants. This promise, however, included the demand that “You shall keep my covenant” (Genesis 17:7-8). The implication is that the blessings of the promise were dependent upon fulfillment of covenant relationships. Disobedience could bring the loss of land, even while God’s promise was not revoked. . . .

[I]f we read Genesis 17 as the Presbyterian statement does, we have a ready explanation for [this] double standard: the legitimacy of China, Iran, North Korea, and other malefactors does not rest upon fidelity to a covenant with God. Israel’s does. . . .

For this Berlin restaurateur, anti-Semitic attacks are routine

In many other cases, the attacker is faceless and nameless.

But the abusers are getting bolder, said Feinberg, with more people posting their virulent comments using their real identities.

“It’s absurd, many people don’t even fear any consequences,” he said, adding that he felt let down by the authorities.

Faced with a rash of anti-semitic crimes, Berlin at the end of 2018 named a prosecutor dedicated to investigating such violations.

“For the moment, it hasn’t had any impact,” said Feinberg.

In a recent interview, the prosecutor Claudia Vanoni admitted that out of 440 cases of anti-Semitism filed last year, 41 percent were shelved with no outcome due to a lack of evidence.

Despite the seemingly unending battle against his abusers, Feinberg is determined to carry on.

“I don’t want to give up now,” he said.

Rather, he is fighting back through a petition urging authorities to toughen up rules against anti-Semitism, which has already garnered 50,000 signatures.

“Personally I’m getting more support and love than hate and aggression,” he said.

“I hope this positive side will get stronger and louder in Germany, France and Europe.” (h/t Zvi)

Poland institute sues NBC’s Mitchell for conflating Poland with Nazis

Polish Institute of National Remembrance has filed a lawsuit against NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell, who, reporting on the recent Middle East summit in Warsaw, who said that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was against “the Polish and Nazi regime.”

Mitchell in Warsaw interviewed, among others, U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, who visited the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the monument to the Ghetto Heroes. In describing the visit, Mitchell told NBC viewers that Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto fought against the “Polish and Nazi regime.” She later apologized for her words on Twitter. However, according to the Institute of National Remembrance, that is not enough.

“She provided untruthful information in a report that was followed by millions of people around the world. We demand a correction on the television, in a place where false information has been given,” said Institute head Jaroslaw Szarek, in an interview with “Gosc Niedzielny” newspaper.

Last year, the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance was amended, which led to a crisis in relations between Israel and Poland. According to the first version of the new law, “anyone who, in public and contrary to the facts, imputes that the Polish Nation or the Polish State was responsible or co-responsible for the Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or for other crimes against peace, humanity or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the actual perpetrators of these crimes,” were to be punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years. This was later amended to change criminal charges to civil charges.

France Must Respond Forcefully to the Hate of the Yellow Vests

In many cases, too, the violent demonstrations have included severe acts of antisemitism. Both far-right and far-left demonstrators have vilified Macron for ostensibly supporting Jews or for being controlled by them. On November 2, 2018, a far-right demonstration in Strasbourg that passed close to the Great Synagogue included jeers directed at the worshipers. A Jewish-owned bagel store was covered with Nazi symbols and taunts. On February 16, 2019, radical demonstrators attacked the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut with screams and curses, calling him a “dirty Jew and Israel supporter,” and the police had to whisk him away to his home. Finkielkraut said the attackers were Islamists and also spoke of the “self-righteousness” of extreme leftists who support them and accede to their antisemitism with seemingly moralistic justifications about opposing racism and “occupation.”

Such incidents have aroused severe criticism and shock among the authorities, the media, and much of the public. On February 19, a mass demonstration against antisemitism was held in Paris — just hours after some 80 graves were desecrated in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg. A 74% increase in French antisemitism over the past year, particularly involving the Yellow Vest demonstrations, has induced deep anxiety among French Jews, who say condemnations and counter-demonstrations are not enough, and call for strict punishments instead.

The acts of violence and vandalism have undermined confidence in the government’s ability to ensure the peace of its citizens, and have damaged France’s image and status in Europe and the world. Continued violent demonstrations could lead to anarchy and even to civil war between the radical left and the radical right. The mass demonstrations could also become a model for attacks on other democratic regimes in Europe and beyond.

France will have to decide quickly and resolutely on issues involving limits on freedom of speech and assembly. The cynical and distorted abuse of those freedoms undermines the basic rights of the silent majority and jeopardizes security, freedom of movement and occupation, property, and the stability of the democratic regime.

French city’s rabbi says half of his congregants have left over anti-Semitism

Half of the regular members of the Jewish community in the city of Grenoble in eastern France have left due to anti-Semitism, their rabbi said.

Rabbi Nissim Sultan on Grenoble, a city of 160,000 residents near Lyon with several hundred Jews, said this during an interview Tuesday with the France Bleu Isère radio station.

“It’s a troubling phenomenon that began about 15 years ago,” he said. “The people who make up the core of our community have left, including young families with children and pensioners.” They left to Israel, elsewhere in France, the United States and Canada, he said.

Each anti-Semitic graffiti, he said, “raises awareness to a global reality that means we fear for our children at school, on the street. So as responsible parents, we take measures.”

Approximately 20,000 French Jews have left for Israel since 2014, a major increase over the previous four years. Thousands more have emigrated elsewhere and many thousands have moved inside France to safer neighborhoods amid a substantial increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Last month, authorities shut down Grenoble’s Al-Kawthar Mosque due to the preaching of hate and incitement, including against Jews, by imams there, the Le Dauphine news site reported.

French translation site lashed for ‘shocking’ anti-Semitic, racist explanations

A major translation website was condemned Friday for offering up anti-Semitic, racist and sexist explanations of words.

Users who typed “nicer” into Reverso looking for a French equivalent were offered the example: “Hitler was a lot nicer to the Jews than they deserved.”

A search of “much nicer” produced the result, “Dachau was much nicer than Auschwitz.”

The French-based service used by more than 45 million people a month threw up equally hateful results for the word “Jew.”

“There are too many Jews here,” “Here is the ultimate example of how the Jews control America” and “This is why the Jews are so dangerous” it offered as examples of how the word is used.

AFP found that translating “Jew” into Italian brought up, “We will knock on the door of the mosques with Jewish skulls,” while a search in German on “Muslim” threw up the result, “A good Muslim always keeps his mouth shut.”

Halal, kosher meat cannot be labeled organic, EU court rules

Halal and kosher meat cannot be marketed as organic because the methods used to produce it are not animal-friendly enough, the European Union’s top court ruled.

Tuesday’s ruling by the EU Court of Justice is primarily a symbolic victory for opponents of the production of halal and kosher meat because those products are very rarely marketed as also being organic.

The ruling was on a lawsuit from 2012 by a French animal welfare association that argued that halal beef shouldn’t be allowed to be sold with the EU logo for organic food, the Associated Press reported.

The court said that halal and kosher meat cannot be considered organic because animals used to produce it are not stunned before they are killed. Stunning significantly reduces animal suffering, the court said.

Jewish and Muslim religious laws require animals be conscious when their necks are cut. Muslim communities are generally more flexible on this point in Europe as the production of halal meat contains fewer restrictions than that of kosher meat.

Low-Cost Airlines EasyJet and RyanAir Launching New Israel-France Routes

Taking a spontaneous trip from Israel to France is about to become a lot easier.

Low-cost airline EasyJet recently announced it is launching a new, thrice-weekly direct flight route from Tel Aviv to Nantes, the sixth largest city in France, starting in April.

Low-cost competitor Ryanair, meanwhile, will be offering three flights a week between Tel Aviv and the southern French city of Marseilles. The route will be taking off in October.

Need a break from the news? The flowers of the Dead Sea beckon

Sick of reading about the elections and the prime minister’s legal entanglements? Want to get away from the rain?

After the Red in the South festival of anemones came to an end Thursday, you might want to head down to the Dead Sea, where it’s warm and the desert wildflowers are in full bloom.

The drive from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea drops down nearly 1,200 meters in altitude, from the hills of the capital to the lowest place on earth and the hottest one in Israel.

Here, in one of the most harshest places on the planet, boiling summers give way to unpredictable winters during which sudden storms can cause devastating flash floods.

Plants in this area have evolved remarkable mechanisms to cope with extreme salinity and drought.

Acacia trees send roots tens of meters down into the earth in search of wet layers. Tamarisk species are able to expel salt through glands on their leaves. Some plants have segmented body parts so that they can drop sections to conserve water or rid themselves of salt. Others carry white hairs on their leaves to limit water loss and refract the sun’s harmful rays.

It’s worth visiting the Ein Gedi Botanical Garden, where many of the plants and trees are in bloom, and then going down to the main Route 90 and crossing the road (very carefully) to the beach side.

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