Andrew Pessin: How to Be Pro-Palestinian on Campus Without Being An Antisemite
The times may be a changing, in the campus wars over Israel: the idea that the anti-Israel movement is fundamentally antisemitic appears to be gaining traction. The evidence? In recent weeks several U.K. universities cancelled “Israeli Apartheid Week” events, at least one of which—the University of Lancashire—was explicitly motivated by the U.K.’s December adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. On that definition, certain forms of anti-Israelism are deemed antisemitic, and “Israeli Apartheid Weeks,” scheduled to occur on many campuses in Europe and North America this spring, often include events that appear to fulfill those conditions. Similar winds are blowing in the United States, where the U. S. State Department definition of antisemitism is able to do the same work, famously classifying as “antisemitic” actions that “delegitimize, demonize, or apply double standards to” the State of Israel. Already pro-Israel activists at schools such as Columbia University lobbied hard to cancel “Apartheid Week” events scheduled there starting three weeks ago, invoking the State Department definition and citing the Lancashire precedent. That effort failed, but what is significant is that the effort was made in the first place.
Some campus anti-Israelists are perhaps motivated by antisemitism. But many, perhaps the large majority, sincerely deny they are, and so there is much ongoing and tortuous debate over precisely when anti-Israel activism becomes antisemitism. Can you attack the legitimacy of the Jewish State without being an antisemite? (What if you sincerely believe, on the basis of your historical research, that it was founded illegitimately?) Is it antisemitic to accuse Israel of demonic behavior, if you sincerely believe, on the basis of evidence, that it is guilty of such? (The media is filled with such reports, is it not?) And anyway, what precisely constitute “delegitimization” and “demonization”? Israel’s supporters regularly accuse anti-Israelists of antisemitism; anti-Israelists claim Israel-supporters use that label only to silence their legitimate criticism of Israel. And the debate goes on.
“We are not antisemites,” campus activists proclaim, “we are merely fighting for the welfare and rights of the Palestinian people.” Being “pro-Palestinian” is wonderful, of course; but campus activism sometimes looks more “anti-Israel” than “pro-Palestinian,” and that’s where the trouble begins. On the surface, at least, being “anti-Israel” (or “anti-Zionist”) is not very wonderful: opposing the nation state of the Jewish people, or denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland—which often involves denying Jewish history and even peoplehood—surely looks and sounds like antisemitism, even if it is honorably motivated by pro-Palestinian intentions.
Ayaan stood up to Sarsour, calling her “a fake feminist”. Yet instead of honouring Ayaan, a true hero of feminism and human rights, for defending Western values through this stand and many others, we demonize her. Brandeis University cowardly revoked plans to give Ayaan an honorary degree. The Southern Poverty Law center shamefully listed Ayaan as an Anti-Muslim Extremist.
The Sarsour phenomenon indicates that the West has lost the ability to defend its own values. We appease and even glorify the enemies of our values rather than confront them. This phenomenon also uncovers the West’s (particularly the Western left’s) “racism of lower expectations” (in the words of Ayaan). It explains why we give Sarsour a position of leadership and why we praise her when we would never do the same for a person of European descent who held the same beliefs.
We insist on remaining blind to the need for Islam to reform, and we treat Islam with even more deference than we treat other religions that have already undergone the reformation that Islam badly needs.
We refuse to integrate Muslim immigrants into our culture. Instead, we throw them into a society that they often do not understand, and we expect them to swim. If they do not drown, we hold them up as some sort of miracle, ignoring that they survived only thanks to Islamic extremists within their community, to which they now owe their existence.
If we do not take ownership of this problem, there will be many more Sarsours and many more appeasers among us in the future. Instead of imparting our liberal values to the world, we will find ourselves drowned by the radical Islam that we invited into our home.
So the reason behind King’s careful engineering of confrontations — such as marches chosen at locations likely to generate harsh responses that would play out on the nightly news — was not to rub white America’s nose in its own bigotry, but rather to create an unnerving contradiction between people’s self-characterization of goodness with ugly images of violence and repression in the name of those same “good people.”
When faced with such a disturbing contradiction, an individual has two choices: change his self-perception to embrace (or at least find room for) justifications of violence and repression, or change the world in order to eliminate the source of that disturbance. King banked on the fact that, as hard as it might be to change the world, changing self-perception — especially one of virtue — is even harder. And thus his brilliantly chosen tactics, dangerous though they were to him and his supporters, were aligned with the internal psychological “flow” of the people he wanted to reach.
Lack of this sort of existential empathy might explain the limited impact projects such as Black Lives Matter have had within the wider culture, since they seem to be more interested in generating feelings of guilt and self-disgust among large segments of the public. And even if you agree that America’s attitudes towards race have been and continue to be shameful, who wants to be involved with a project offering shame vs. one offering uplift?
Insights derived from the belief system that powered King’s movement can help us better understand the BDS project, and inform the best ways to fight against it. And it is to that first item — the BDSers’ existential strategy of destruction — that we will turn to next time.
I submitted this column to the McGill Daily and heard nothing. I now publish it as an open letter:
Dear McGill Daily, As a McGill professor since 1990, I believe in leaving student politics to students. Traditionally, whenever students complained about the McGill Daily’s bias, I always advised: “it’s a student newspaper – you’re the student, you write.”
However, as an educator, and a proud McGill community member, I can no longer stand silent. When I – or any colleague – see anyone fostering bigotry, violence, a mob mentality on campus, we have a moral responsibility to defend our students and our communal values. For that reason, I return to last fall’s controversy, which remains unresolved: I demand you reconsider your narrow-minded, fake-news-oriented “editorial line of not publishing pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider to be oppressive.”
It’s hard to believe that a newspaper purporting to be progressive would take such a regressive, unthoughtful approach. It undermines any criticism you make against Donald Trump’s resistance to facts and opinions he detests.
You’re worse because you wrap your bigotry in a mantle of self-righteousness, mocking the progressive thought you claim to embrace.
A brief New York Times item appears online under the headline: “Israel’s Rich Culinary Legacy Revealed in a New Film.”
The article, about a documentary movie titled “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” reports: “After watching this film, one has to conclude that with more than 100 nationalities living within the country’s borders, an Israeli cuisine resists easy definition.”
That seemed to me to be a strange sentence. It amounts to something of an assault on the proposition that the nationality of those living within Israel’s borders is, well, Israeli.
The Times isn’t referring to tourists or temporary visitors. It’s talking to a large degree about Jews whose families came to Israel from Morocco or Ethiopia or Poland or Germany or France or Yemen.
The chef who made the documentary, Michael Solomonov, uses less tendentious, and more sensible, language in an interview that will be published in an upcoming New York Times travel section:
Virginia Tech is still uneasy after more than 100 leaflets with hand drawn swastikas were left on the lawn of the Jewish Student Center. Thousands came out to show support against this.
Rabbi Zvi Zwiebel, the Chabad Librescu Jewish Student Center co-director, said, “We have to send a message that we all stand together and we’re not going to let this happen again. We have to all show, bond together and show, this is Virginia Tech, it’s not going to happen here.”
University President Tim Sands noted in his speech how much stronger a sign of togetherness is. “The perpetrators of this action hoped to divide us but they’ve only succeeded in uniting us,” Sands said. “This is what’s great about Virginia Tech.”
The WCC attacked Israel for its March 6 vote in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that would deny entry visas to activists who call for the boycott of the Jewish state.
Building on the WCC denunciation, The Economist claimed that the new visa law is the “catalyst” in undermining relations between the Jewish state and Christianity.
Ironically, the church body deserves much of the credit for inspiring the entry ban through its campaigns to isolate and demonize Israel internationally.
WCC officials claim that the organization “is not a member of any alliance that is generally promoting a boycott or a member of the so-called ‘BDS-movement’” and that “the WCC has never called for an economic boycott on the state of Israel.” However, as noted above, through a variety of campaigns, programs and partnerships, it is a key player mobilizing demonization of Israel in churches worldwide.
Instead of launching more attacks, the leaders of the WCC and its member churches would do well to re-examine their history and seek reconciliation with the Jewish nation-state. Until then, WCC officials should not be surprised that years of attacks targeting Israel have borne bitter fruit.
A British professor scheduled to speak at a conference debating Israel’s right to exist has withdrawn from the event after a writer who has endorsed a book espousing antisemitic conspiracy theories was added to the billing, The Jewish Chronicle reported Tuesday.
Founder and senior editor of Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), Professor Alan Johnson, said that he will not be attending the “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” conference in Cork, Ireland later this month due to controversial author Richard Falk’s participation.
“I have informed the organizers of the Cork Conference that I will no longer be participating,” Johnson said in a press statement.
“The organizers have issued an invitation to Richard Falk to give a keynote speech… by inviting a speaker who espouses antisemitic conspiracy theories the conference is now objectively an attempt to normalize antisemitism and I cannot attend such an event,” he added.
The conference, scheduled to begin on March 31, will feature a number of ardent critics of the Jewish state, including Israeli anti-Zionist historian llan Pappe and the University of Southampton’s Professor Oren Ben-Dor.
Johnson previously stated that he believed he had a duty to attend the conference in order to “defend Israel’s right to exist.”
A spokesman for an Israel advocacy group in Ireland told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that the organizers of an upcoming three-day conference calling the Jewish state’s right to exist into question are disingenuously exploiting the logo of University College Cork (UCC) to lend a veneer of academic credibility to the event, though its only connection to UCC is that its last day will be held on the school’s campus.
The Irish4Israel representative called this move on the part of the organizers of “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” — who have displayed the UCC logo prominently on the conference website and promotional material — a “one-sided joke,” as even they include a disclaimer stating that the university is “neither a sponsor nor promoter.”
Irish4Israel said that UCC should “distance itself and demand organizers remove any association with the university if it wishes to maintain its highly regarded international image. This conference could have great implications for UCC research collaborations with universities abroad and future philanthropic donations. Organizers have an extremist agenda and are actively calling for Israel’s destruction or a no state solution. This event is not really about Israel or Palestinians anymore, but a simple hate fest echo chamber.”
As The Algemeiner reported in December, upon the announcement that the conference would be held at UCC, the university said that while it would not be taking any official part in the event, it would provide space on campus for its final day.
A British campus speaking tour came to an abrupt end on Tuesday for Professor Richard Falk, when Middlesex University canceled his appearance scheduled for Wednesday.
The tour was intended to promote his book, “Palestine’s Horizon: Towards a Just Peace.” Falk is a former UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories who is highly critical of both Israel and the United States. Born in New York to a Jewish family, Falk is a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.
Falk arrived in Britain fresh from a major row about a report he co-authored on behalf of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which concluded that Israel was imposing an “apartheid regime” on the Palestinians. After protests from Israel and Washington’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the report was disowned by the UN secretary-general and withdrawn from the ESCWA website. ESCWA head Rima Khalaf resigned in protest. Haley described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
Middlesex, whose campus is in the heart of the Jewish community in northwest London, cited safety reasons for canceling the event, where Falk, who has been denounced three times for anti-Semitism by the British government, was due to be hosted by the law faculty.
A Minnesota public high school has been rented out for an upcoming event whose organizers and speakers have expressed support for terrorism against Israel, The Algemeiner has learned.
Spring Lake Park High School will be the site of the Al-Aqsa Institute of Minnesota‘s “Palestine Day,” which will feature a speech by activist-lawyer Lamis Deek, who has hailed terrorists who killed Jews as “martyrs” acting in “self-defense.”
Deek is a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial, and a co-founder of Al Awda-the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, listed in 2012 as one of the Anti-Defamation League’s “Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America.”
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Deek also reportedly called Israelis “serial killers” at last year’s annual conference of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), one of the organizations behind “Palestine Day.”
A group hosting a Palestinian terrorist at its national convention demanded that the Chicago hotel where the event is taking place deny access to Israel activists wishing to rent space in which to hold a memorial service for her victims, a person involved told The Algemeiner.
According to Peggy Shapiro, the midwest director for educational group Stand With Us (SWU), the left-wing organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) — whose National Member Meeting will kick off at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place next week and features a speech by convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh — was given “the right of first refusal” by the hotel to determine whether SWU may reserve a small room during the same weekend for an interfaith program in memory of Odeh’s victims.
The Hyatt’s event sales manager, Audrey Quevillon, sent SWU an email Monday — obtained by The Algemeiner — stating that JVP had “made the decision to deny any space request coming in over their conference as they will be utilizing all space for their meetings and functions.” According to an online reservation schedule, at least one other organization will be holding an event at the 2.6 million sq. ft. McCormick Place during the time of JVP’s conference.
Shapiro said “the hotel had not indicated that any other group had to give permission for us to use space, only JVP,” and expressed confusion with a “hotel’s decision to refuse income.”
After a wave of objections to a boycott-Israel event scheduled for next week in Bonn, Germany, the Jewish community there on Monday announced its delight with cancellation of the gathering and a widely criticized antisemitic talk that was to be given at it.
A separate pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference set to take place in June in Frankfurt was also canceled.
“The Jewish community is pleased that the event was canceled,” a spokeswoman for the Bonn Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post. Nearly 1,000 members belong to the organization in the North Rhine-Westphalia city of some 311,000 people.
The Bonn-based Pfennigsdorf Foundation planned to host a talk by former pastor Martin Breidert titled, “For Human Rights and International Law in Palestine – What Does BDS Want?” The speaker is widely viewed as antisemitic and an aggressive hater of the Jewish state.
In an Arutz Sheva interview, MK Oded Forer(Yisrael Beitenu) explained his demand from the Minister of Culture to reconsider the government advertisements on Youtube, since the money from these advertisements reaches terror organizations which advertise on Youtube.
What is the problem with advertising on Youtube?
Whoever watches or publishes clips on Youtube is aware that advertisements are included in the clips and if certain clips have large viewership he can split the profits with Youtube. Some people make money from this and this is fine.
The problem is that apparently advertisements funded by the state appear in clips which were uploaded by terror organizations, neo-Nazi organizations and those who besmirch Israel. There are two problems here- does the State of Israel want to appear in such clips and the fact that monies which the Government Office of Publications transfers to Youtube end up in the hands of those terror or neo-Nazi organizations. This must be stopped.
Earlier in the month, we posted about an article in the Independent which contextualized an article on Donald Trump’s White House invitation to Mahmoud Abbas by highlighting the “analysis” of someone named Ralph Schoenman.
The article, by their Middle East correspondent Bethan McKernan, was based on comments by Schoenman, who she surreally characterised as a “leading academic” and author of a “highly influential” book about Zionism.
As we revealed in our post, however, Schoenman is a fringe extremist, 9/11 conspiracy theorist and fraudulent scholar who has erroneously claimed that Jews dominated the slave trade. In his “influential” book (Hidden History of Zionism), he alleges that pre-state Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to murder millions of Jews and then, when the state was born, “emulated the Nazis” in planning and carrying out their own genocide against Palestinians.
As we argued at the time, of all the political analysts to seek comment, it’s remarkable that McKernan chose an extremist who’s engaged in smears about Zionism’s putative relationship with Nazism so vile and ahistorical that they’d likely make Ken Livingstone blush.
In the past the BBC has given its audiences incomplete and partisan portrayals of stories concerning Balad MKs and terrorism – see here and here.
Despite its usual interest in the workings of the Israeli Knesset and its having produced no fewer than four articles in ten days (see here, here, here and here) on a different police investigation concerning an Israeli politician during the same period of time, on Basel Ghattas’ indictment and resignation the corporation has chosen to stay mum.
As has been noted here in the past, that more or less standard insert does not include a definitive cited source underpinning the claim of illegality and no explanation is given regarding the legal basis for alternative opinions to the one promoted. The claim is erroneously presented as being contested solely by the government of Israel, thereby erasing from audience view the existence of additional legal opinions which contradict the BBC’s selected narrative and thus breaching its own editorial guidelines on impartiality.
In recent months the level of audience exposure to that narrative has risen.
The graph below shows the appearance of written reports on the BBC News website which included claims concerning ‘settlements and international law’ during the whole of 2016 and the first two months of 2017 (links provided below). It does not include filmed reports or content from additional BBC platforms.
In all of those 42 reports, BBC audiences were told that ‘settlements are considered illegal under international law’ and that ‘Israel disputes this’ but only in one of them – a backgrounder published in December 2016 – were they given any information concerning the legal basis for those conflicting opinions. On no occasion throughout the past 14 months were audiences informed of the existence of additional alternative views of the subject beyond that of Israel.
Motion 103 “Systemic racism and religious discrimination”, which also known as the anti-Islamophobia motion, demands that “the government should recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear… condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it” and “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada.”
Petition e-411, which was unanimously endorsed by the Parliament, suggests that attributing terrorism to Islam is Islamophobia.
Initiated by Samer Majzoub, President of the Canadian Muslim Forum (المنتدى الاسلمي الكندي) and sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Quebec), Petition e-411 reads among other things the following:
Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and these violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world. We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.”
A few days ago, I was one of the first to post reports that Mel Gibson had been working with the Survivor Mitzvah Project, a charity that helps Holocaust survivors.
Despite my own misgivings about Mel – and plethora of posts mocking and deriding him for his past antisemitic shenanigans – I wrote “If true, I have to give credit where credit is due” – causing a few overzealous (former) Israellycool readers to attack me like…well, like Mel Gibson on booze (at least none of them called me “sugar t*ts”)
Well I can now report it has been confirmed – in the form a retweet of my post by the very charity Mel has been reportedly helping!
Seven decades ago, the young Jewish diarist Anne Frank is unlikely to have imagined that her story would be kept alive for new generations via a computer-generated bot.
But now visitors to the Amsterdam museum, lodged in the house where the teenager wrote her famous diary as she hid from Nazi occupiers, can learn about her history thanks to a unique collaboration with Facebook.
A chat-bot program unveiled Tuesday is designed to provide information on the life story of Anne Frank in the form of a personalized chat conversation. It also provides visitor information about the Anne Frank House.
“In these troubling times we live in, the story of Anne Frank is more relevant than ever,” said museum director Ronald Leopold, unveiling the initiative.
“We are concerned about the fact that more than 70 years after the war, half of the visitors are under 30 and they know less than my generation. So it’s important to give more historical context and more historical information to connect with that history,” he added.
Actor Chris Evans of “Captain America” fame will star in a new movie about the Mossad’s role in Operation Moses — a clandestine endeavor to extricate Ethiopian Jews from their plight in Africa and airlift them to Israel, The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Monday.
In “Red Sea Diving Resort,” Evans will play Mossad agent Ari Kidron, who assembled a team that worked out of a deserted resort in Sudan to execute their multi-year-in-the-making 1984 mission — ordered by then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin — to rescue thousands of Jews from famine and discrimination.
The film was written and is being directed by Gideon Raff, the executive producer of the Showtime hit series “Homeland.” He will produce the film with “The Wolf of Wall Street” executive producer Alexandra Milchan. Actress Haley Bennett, famous for her role in “Girl on the Train,” is in negotiations to star in the film alongside Evans, according to Variety.
It’s a Sabra kind of summer for British band Radiohead.
Not only are the wildly influential alt-rockers due to play Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park this summer on July 19, but they’re also collaborating with two different Israeli-based bands for their European and US tours, the band announced on its Twitter feed Tuesday.
Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis will join Radiohead in the US, while Shye Ben Tzur and the Rajasthan Express will open for the band at several performances in Europe.
All this Israeli interaction is nothing new for Jonny Greenwood, Radiohead’s lead guitarist and keyboardist, who is married to, and has three kids with, Israeli visual artist, Sharona Katan. Radiohead also has a huge following in Israel, and has had for most of its career.
Still, Tassa and Ben Tzur offer an alternative sound to Radiohead’s edgy compositions and lyrics.
Intel Corp.’s investments in Israel were already shaping the country’s growth statistics, even before its record acquisition last week.
The world’s largest chipmaker agreed to pay $15 billion for Jerusalem-based Mobileye NV, a maker of semiconductors and software for driverless cars – the most ever paid for an Israeli tech firm.
The deal comes after economists including Modi Shafrir at Mizrahi Tefahot Bank said Israel’s unexpected 6.5 percent fourth quarter expansion – the fastest pace in at least ten years – was in part driven by Intel’s $6 billion renovation of its plant at Kiryat Gat in southern Israel.
Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, employs 10,000 people in Israel – the most among the country’s largest exporters. Next-ranked Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, has close to 7,000 staff in the country.
While other global tech giants including Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. have research and development centers in Israel, their investments pale in comparison to Intel’s. The company exported products worth $3.35 billion from Israel last year, or nearly a tenth of the high-tech sector’s overseas sales.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will begin voting to determine which 10 video entrants in the “Inspired by Israel” video contest will be shown to an elite panel of judges. More than 80 individuals and groups entered the contest by creating videos that entertain, educate and inspire people about Israel.
A total of $20,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winning videos, including an $8,000 Grand Prize. Hosted on IsraelVideoNetwork.com, the contest is sponsored by the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation in partnership with the 12Tribe Films Foundation.
Following this ten-day period of public voting, which ends on March 29, the top ten prizes will be selected by a panel of independent experts, including philanthropist Gila Milstein, Jewish Journal/Tribe Media President David Suissa and StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson. The winners will be announced on April 30.
“This contest is a vivid and dynamic way for us to show to the world the amazing people, places and innovations of Israel,” philanthropist Adam Milstein said. “By voting on their favorite videos, the public can participate in the contest, and let us know which videos most inspire them.”
The prevailing philosophy in the world today, one that’s probably valid, is to refuse to give any further oxygen to the noxious beliefs of the alt-right. The Internet, after all, gave them the platform that has allowed them and their toxic swill to ascend to the halls of power, or at least, of influence, and only the Internet can take it away; therefore, we should all collectively stop following them on Twitter, publishing a million outraged hot takes on their latest provocations, and generally ignore them back into oblivion.
However. Something happened over the weekend that I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t share with you. It was something I have been expecting to happen since Pepe the Frog first emerged from the swamp I keep hearing someone is planning to drain: a white supremacist unironically tweeted a clip from the 1972 Bob Fosse-directed musical film Cabaret, in which an angelic faced youth (or “twink,” as one may prefer to call him) leads the denizens of a Berlin beer garden in a rousing singalong of a patriotic hymn with the refrain “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.” As the song reaches its operatic crescendo, the youth raises his hand in a stiff-armed gesture, and the camera pans down to reveal the swastika adoring his otherwise nondescript brown shirt. And thus does the audience—and Michael York as Brian Roberts, the Christopher Isherwood stand-in that the audience is intended to identify with—absorb a sinister sense of what is happening to Germany and of the horrors that are to come.
So like I said, I’ve been expecting some idiot neo-Nazi to not understand the intent of the satirical song and to share it with his followers for some time. I just didn’t expect it would be the current neo-Nazi in Chief, the indomitable Richard Spencer. And I certainly didn’t expect that he would get so immediately and hilariously owned by Missouri Democratic senatorial candidate/war hero Jason Kander, who took it upon himself to point out to Spencer that the song he was touting as a prophecy of America’s brave and racially pure future was written by his uncle, the legendary musical theater composer John Kander (who wrote Cabaret, and Chicago, and basically invented the entity we know as Liza Minnelli, by her own admission), as a parody of overwrought and sentimental Nazi anthems. Behold:
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