The false distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
It was once said that every Jewish holiday could be summed up with the same nine words: ‘They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat’. Now it only takes eight: ‘A Labour spokesperson apologised for any offence caused’. On Friday, the Labour party tweeted warm wishes to Jews celebrating Passover. At this stage, most Jews are glad to receive any communication from Corbyn supporters that doesn’t ask where the Rothschilds were on 9/11, but the well-meaning post contained a blunder: the accompanying graphic showed the Star of David, a cup of wine and… a loaf of bread.
Under halakha — Jewish religious law — bread is the ultimate forbidden food during Pesach. It is chametz (leavened) and Jews must abstain in memory of the slaves who fled Egyptian bondage so quickly their bread didn’t have time to rise. No doubt Labour moderates think the Israelites should have ‘stayed to fight’ until the yeast kicked in and Tom Watson triggered a leadership contest against Pharaoh. Whoever is in charge of tweeting Labour’s Yom Kippur message would be advised to delete any pictures of bacon rolls from their phone.
Why is this facepalm different from other facepalms? It’s a relatively minor one compared to most of Labour’s behaviour towards Jews. Unfortunately for Labour, it comes after a ComRes poll showing 51 per cent of Britons believe Labour has a ‘serious’ anti-Semitism problem and 55 per cent say it makes Jeremy Corbyn ‘unfit’ to be prime minister. Unfortunately for Jews, the same pollster puts Labour 10 points clear of the Tories. The British people are on the brink of knowingly electing an anti-Semitic government and our radio phone-ins are chocked on the ethics of policemen skateboarding with anarchists.
Do the Jews have a future in the UK? The confluence of Corbynism, an alt-right that has moved from the tweets onto the streets, the forgotten threat of Islamist terrorism and a simmering hostility to kosher slaughter methods will make the coming years the most trying British Jews have faced since the war. For some gathered around seder tables over the weekend, the words ‘next year in Jerusalem’ will have prompted thoughts practical as well as spiritual. Moving to Israel involves many sacrifices but at least once there existential angst comes with an air force.
In the 1970 T.S. Eliot Memorial Lectures delivered at Yale, the literary critic George Steiner offered a compelling explanation for the persistence of anti-Semitism: The Jews suffered for millennia as retribution for introducing the “Ideal” into Western culture. With its idealism and ethical imperatives, the revelation at Sinai “tore up the human psyche by its ancient roots,” depriving its inheritors of not just the material God and the image, but also “natural consciousness,” and “instinctual polytheistic needs.” Jews, the original Puritans, rejected the satisfaction of both the body and the image, for the purity and ascetic life dictated by the divine Word. From this perspective, Judaism represents the earliest celebration of the absolute, the West’s punishing superego, demanding idealism and self-denial, which was later incarnated in primitive Christianity and Messianic socialism, also founded by Jews, Jesus, and Karl Marx, in whose visions the Ideal persists “with terrible tactless force.” By Steiner’s lights, Hitler’s “jibe” that the Jews “invented consciousness” explains the tenacity of Western hatred of the Jews.
Western hatred of the Jews thus begins with anxiety about Jewish claims to exceptionalism. There can only be one bearer of the ideal: The city on the Hill is not Jerusalem, but Rome, later London, and even later still, Boston. In this form of anti-Semitism, which Steiner both described and in some ways endorsed, Jews are loathed because they represent a reminder of their antecedent claim to the Ideal—a claim that causes such anxiety that it must be extirpated. Non-Jewish messianic movements reject the notion of Jewish exceptionalism, because they are the exceptional ones. The continued existence of the Jews, and the resurgence of Israel, are troubling reminders that that the Jews were first to be singled out as God’s “chosen people.”
Steiner’s writings on the State of Israel provide an early primer on the dynamics of the specific form of secular anti-Semitism that has captivated so many progressives in academia and among the rank and file of the British Labour Party, as well as, increasingly, among American progressives. For Steiner, nationalism is a “madness,” as is the “vulgar mystique of flag and anthem.” But it is Israel’s “barbed wire and watch-towers of national dogma” that represent a “rhetoric of self-deception as desperate as any contrived in the history of nationalism.” For Steiner, and in this, contemporary progressives follow him, Israel must bear all the sins of the nation-state. The Greek dramatist Aeschylus in his celebration of Athens—the Oresteia—avows that the city-state is founded on blood: For contemporary progressives, as for Steiner, only Israel, the nation-state ne plus ultra, has blood on its hands. (h/t Yerushalimey)
Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley called her veto vote that paved the way for the United States Embassy in Israel to move to Jerusalem “one of my proudest moments.”
“What I saw at the Security Council reminded me of what it felt like to be bullied when I was a kid. I have no patience for bullies. They were kicking Israel just because — without facts,” she said during the session with Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch.
Haley spoke during an on-stage interview in Montreal at the Shaar Hashamayim synagogue April 10.
She told the 1,200-person audience she doesn’t think U.N. resolutions are effective.
“I don’t think they matter,” she said, speaking of one of the main tools the U.N. General Assembly or Security Council uses to give an opinion.
Member states are not actually required to abide by U.N. resolutions, according to the U.N.
When she vetoed a resolution that would have condemned the United States for moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Haley told the crowd, “I felt like I was fighting for the truth and for what was right. And I was mad. Every country has the sovereign right to put their embassy wherever they choose. The U.S. always chooses to have its embassy in the capital. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The rest of the world can’t hide what we know as fact. The president had great courage to do it.”
“The Arab countries have a lot of oil and a lot of money, and they started picking up all these other countries to vote with them. If you actually go into the quiet corners of the U.N., most countries don’t hate Israel, most envy Israel,” she said.
Yisrael Medad: The Silence of Beinart
The following was sent to the Forward as an op-ed submission on March 24.
On April 8, due to my previous misunderstanding, I agreed to have it appear as a letter.
I checked today and my letter wasn’t there. Another from April 16th was, however.
It may as yet still appear.
In the meantime, here it is:
Reading yet another Peter Beinart attack on AIPAC (“AIPAC IsPlaying The Victim, But It’s Palestinians Who Are Being Silenced”, March 26) as part of his decade-long assault on American Jewish Establishment institutions and influence, playing on one of his frequent themes that somehow the victims of an enforced campaign of silencing are the Arabs of the former British Mandate territory of Palestine who are still, after they have numerous times rejected diplomatic solutions for more than nine decades, seeking their state, I was first taken aback by his defense of Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar.
Her anti-Jewish agenda, expressed through many statements going back years, is clear. As is said, even for a “goyisheh kop” her sentiments are obvious. Money, hypnotism, etc. For Beinart, however, “Omar, has suggested, flippantly, that AIPAC wields power because its supporters give politicians money”. It was a joke. It was her sense of humor. If it weren’t so unfunny, I’d compare that remark to Hamas’ mistakes in consistently firing missiles from Gaza deep into Israel. But I realized that for Beinart, his success depends on how outlandish he can stretch his logic so that instead of disturbing people who actually think, he wows them with the most extreme convoluted possibilities.
By the way, Omar insinuated that AIPAC directly gives money, “Benjamins”, but why should Beinart need to feel he must be exact in his assertions. Many of his other assertions and ideological interpretations are also just enough inexact as to allow him to hypnotize, sorry, bewitch a younger generation of American Jews.
An analysis of Sanders’ previous comments about Israel demonstrates that insulting the Jewish state is not a one-time slip-up by a demagogue senator who is trying to gather votes from the fringes of the Democratic party. In Sanders’ case, this is his approach – in everything having to do with Israel, he isn’t deterred by half-truths or even outright lies that reference the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes. There are plenty of examples.
When Sanders wanted to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, he claimed that Israel had killed over 10,000 innocent Palestinians, launched indiscriminate attacks in the Gaza Strip, and shelled hospitals in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The senator not only inflated the numbers by several orders of magnitude, he even outdid the Hamas spokespeople in creating a false narrative that the IDF was intentionally attacking the civilian population.
A year ago, when Hamas launched a serious of riotous protests along the Gaza border, calling them “marches of return,” Sanders again piped up with statements that were perfectly aligned with the terrorist organization’s position. In a TV interview, he called them peaceful protesters. What about the explosives devices thrown at the fence; the shots fired at Israeli soldiers; the vandalism to the fence itself; the kibbutz fields that were being set on fire by arson balloons and kites; and the violation of Israeli sovereignty? Sanders hadn’t heard about any of this, and if he had, he refused to believe it.
But he does believe that Israel is a “racist” state, even though it grants freedom and equality to all its citizens, even those who openly declare that they aspire to see an end to the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, as the American public sphere was being truly polluted by racist comments about Jews by Rep. Ilan Omar, Bernie Sanders rushed to lend her a hand. In that case, like when he backed up Hamas’ claims, the fact that Sanders is Jewish was a great boon for those who slander Israel. When a Jew hurls accusations at his own people or the Jewish state, it always sounds more convincing. That is nothing new, either – for anti-Semites, Jews who turned on their own or made up stories about them were always especially valuable.
How Far Will Democrats Go to Criticize Israel?
Palestinian activist and media darling Linda Sarsour’s credibility depends on the ignorance of her audience. She knows that the larger share of her supporters have little knowledge of Middle Eastern history or the complex nuances of geopolitics. So, when she disingenuously declared to a room of some 500 fawning NYU millennials recently that “BDS is a non-violent movement” and spoke of “co-existence and peace” between Jews and Muslims “before the creation of the state of Israel,” she knew she wouldn’t be held accountable for her lies.
Sarsour’s speech at NYU was not only riddled with falsehoods, bigotry, and hypocrisy but also soaked in narcissism and glowing self-references. In the span of 90 minutes, she managed to describe herself as a “cycle breaker,” twice as a “visionary,” a “leader in the progressive moment,” a “symbol of intersectionality,” “at the center of every big fight,” and “someone who’s trained in Kingian nonviolence” who merely wishes “to speak some truth.”
To compliment these delusions of grandeur, she sprinkled her talk with messianic assertions conveying false humility, including coy comments such as:
“This idea that I should be the champion for everybody in the world is unrealistic.”
“The fact that somebody like me can just attract this kind of controversy is really interesting.”
“Stop worrying about what I say. I’m just one person.”
Sarsour’s megalomania aside, her speech came across as a mere idealistic call for peace, love, and social justice. But contrast it with previous comments Sarsour has made on the record, and it becomes glaringly obvious that Sarsour speaks from both sides of her mouth.
When she inaccurately proclaimed the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel to be a “nonviolent movement” and was met with an enthusiastic applause from the audience, it was clear her supporters hadn’t done much research on the topic. If they had, they would know that the movement’s founder, Omar Barghouti, has argued that “armed resistance” is legitimate and that Jews “are not a people,” despite their shared religion, culture, language, and nation state.
Suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson faces calls to resign after his official Twitter account liked a post claiming Israel offered a “1m bounty for Labour insiders to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.”
The post, sent by activist and blogger Nadeem Ahmed, accessible to Williamson’s 52.1K followers, appears in the “likes” tab of his profile.
“Let’s not forget that Israel have offered a £1m bounty for Labour insiders to undermine Jeremy Corbyn,” it reads.
“Joan Ryan was filmed asking Shai Masot about a list of names that were sent to the Israeli embassy.
“We need an investigation into this and find the MPs that took the money.”
LFI director Jennifer Gerber said: “Chris Williamson’s decision to help propagate these repeatedly denied utter lies demonstrates once again not simply that he shouldn’t sit as a Labour MP but that he’s unfit to be a member of the House of Commons.
“If Jeremy Corbyn allows the whip to be restored it will underline his continuing utter disregard for the Jewish community and the truth.”
Fresh video footage has been unearthed by investigative reporter Iggy Ostanin of Jeremy Corbyn’s spin doctor and right-hand man Seumas Milne giving his take on “Zionism” and the “media”. It’s all too predictable:
“There is a view among pro-Palestinian people often that the Zionist movement has a grip on the media in a way that I think sometimes exaggerates the mechanisms through which that influence is exerted.
“And one of the things that is impressive about the Zionist movement, I would say, and this is true going back decades and decades, is the fact that many of its activists are incredibly hard working and dedicated and they bombard the media day in day out with their obsessive campaigns.”
Milne appears to have been speaking at a conference at SOAS in 2009 billed as “The Nakba, Sixty Years of Dispossession, Sixty Years of Resistance”. Milne himself was speaking in a session on “Forces of Counter-Resistance: The (Still) Unvanquished Enemies of Palestine”, Milne’s own presentation was titled “The Role of Imperialism in the Palestinian Tragedy”. It’s no surprise that only 13% of people think Labour is doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism when these are the views of Corbyn’s most senior adviser…
As well as giving his views on the Zionist Movement’s supposed “grip on the media” at a conference in 2009, Corbyn’s spin chief Seumas Milne also used the opportunity to give his views on the British honours system. Milne bemoaned the fact that former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres had received a knighthood while Gerry Adams and Omar Al-Bashir had inexplicably been overlooked. Milne says “I think what that illustrates is where the interests lie… it is entirely to do with the British state’s international alliance system and nothing to do with the merits of the case”…
One was a Nobel Peace Prize Winner who signed the Oslo Accords and secured peace with the PLO and with Jordan. The others were a former IRA chief of staff and brigade commander and a now-deposed Sudanese dictator who had the dubious honour of being the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes by the ICC in 2008 – a year before Seumas’ remarks. If anything is “illustrated” it’s where Seumas Milne’s real interests lie…
— Ozraeli Dave (((דיויד לנג))) (@Israellycool) April 23, 2019
We are writing to you in regard to the decision to give the NYU President’s Service Award to the NYU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for its “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community.”
The following list, which is not exhaustive, is what the general public presently knows about SJP’s “contributions” to the NYU community:
1. In March of 2014, at a pro-BDS conference sponsored by four NYU departments, the then president of the NYU SJP conducted a workshop on how to organize students for anti-Israel activism. BDS is the call to engage in illegal, commercial discrimination against Jews and Israelis.
2. In late April of 2014, members of SJP put mock eviction notices underneath the doors of nearly 2,000 students, many of whom were Jewish, in two NYU dormitories. These same Jewish students reported feeling “personally attacked”, “threatened” and “unsafe”.
3. In May of 2014, SJP hosted a “die-in” rally with chants of “Zionist state, tear it down” which is clearly a call for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.
4. In April of 2018, the NYU SJP gathered a coalition of over 50 student groups to boycott two NYU Jewish, pro-Israel student groups, Realize Israel and TorchPAC. The SJP led coalition refused to co-sponsor any events with these two Jewish led groups and also vowed to target off-campus Jewish groups, such as the ADL, as well. Despite acknowledging that the university opposed the boycott of the Jewish campus groups and found it at odds with its traditions and values, the school did nothing to address this behavior with the NYU SJP.
5. Also in April of 2018, protestors from NYU SJP disrupted an event being held by Realize Israel, a Jewish, pro-Israel NYU student group. A member of the NYU SJP was arrested for stealing and stomping on an Israeli flag. “We’re not going to let them stand by and support Zionism,” SJP President Khalid Abu Dawas told Washington Square News. “Our point is to make being Zionist uncomfortable on the NYU campus.”
Eighty groups have called on the University of Massachusetts and its chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy, to rescind university sponsorship of an upcoming political event that the groups are concerned will “incite animosity towards supporters of Israel, including Jewish and pro-Israel students” on the campus.
The May 4 event, “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights,” which will see several vehemently anti-Israel figures address the event’s audience.
Speakers will include Pink Floyd musician and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activist Roger Waters, who has been embroiled in several antisemitic-related scandals; Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American co-founder of the Women’s March and who has ties with antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan; and Marc Lamont Hill, who was recently fired from CNN for his remarks at the UN in which he called for “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” – the same language used by Hamas and other extremists, and alludes to the State of Israel’s destruction.
The event is being organized by NGO Media Education Foundation (MEF), whose director is Sut Jhally. Jhally is also chair of the UMass Department of Communication, which is co-sponsoring the event along with the UMass Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the Resistance Studies Initiative UMass.
The event will include a panel and a discussion of “recent attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar and other progressives who have spoken out against Israel’s 50-year military occupation of Palestinian land and criticized pro-Israel pressure groups for conflating legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies with ‘antisemitism.’”
In the letter to the university chancellor, the 80 groups, which include the AMCHA Initiative – which initiated the letter, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’nai B’rith International, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors, called on the academic institution to “rescind all named university sponsorship of this event and ensure that no academic unit or other university entity is connected to this event in any way; [and to] provide us with assurances, highlighting relevant university policies and procedures, that UMass faculty will not be permitted to use their academic position or the university’s name or resources to promote a personal, political agenda that compromises the university’s academic mission and imperils the safety and well-being of UMass students.”
Sciences Po university in Paris on Tuesday disinvited from a conference on Europe’s future the Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut who had been attacked several weeks ago by Yellow Vest protesters over his pro-Zionist views, BFM TV reported.
I defy you to find an opening paragraph more drenched in irony than that one.
The conference organizers, who had invited Finkielkraut to give an address on the topic, were discouraged by the amount of hate messages and threats they received, told the victim of an assault over his political views not to bother and issued a statement saying, “Security is our top priority and it’s preferable to take no risks.”
Reminds you of the joke about the three French homeland security levels of alert: Flee, Surrender, Collaborate.
The threats came mainly from Clement Meric, a group to the left of Kim Jong-un, who called for a demonstration outside the conference and issued a statement saying: “We cannot accept Finkielkraut’s ‘modern Europe’ and his islamophobic, racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric.”
And, naturally, if you deeply oppose another person’s view, you crash his event, or as Voltaire put it: “I disapprove of what you say, and I will defend to the death my right to shut your mouth.”
Leeds-based Esteem Magazine, which boldly claims to be “the North’s biggest lifestyle magazine and the number one free publication in the UK” appears to be imploding after its farcical handling of a tweet from its account on Saturday that stridently blamed Jews for antisemitism. The tweet, in response to another Twitter who was complaining about antisemitism: “Omg — why oh why throughout history do Jewish people get verbally and physically attacked? Maybe if it’s happened for millennia Jewish people should look in there [sic] own doorstep. Ask — why is all the time [sic]”.
Esteem Magazine subsequently claimed that its social media had been hacked and complained about the backlash to the earlier tweet, tweeting anew: “Wow. We have been hacked.who we don’t know [sic]. The terrible comments we have received have been shocking.” However the supposed hacker also seems to have been keen to defend the magazine’s reputation after posting vile commentary about Jews, tweeting: “Biggest publication in the N [North] of UK. HOWEVER NOT RACIST. We were pointing out that if there is a problem maybe look at why and address the source. We do not condone any form of racism — you have taken this out of context”. The supposed hacker even allegedly sent a direct message to a Twitter user claiming that they “were simply starting what they hoped would be a healthy debate”.
After a tweet complaining that the backlash on Twitter had “spolit my holiday quite frankly”, the magazine then tweeted that its director and major shareholder, Neil Saville, will be resigning: “A formal investigation will be taking place as to the origin of the comments made. Due to the upset caused by these comments, and the ill health which has since taken him, Neil Saville will be resigning as a director of both Esteem Media and Coppertop Digital Ltd today.” This was followed by another tweet saying that: “On behalf of everyone at Esteem Magazine, we apologise for any upset caused by tweets posted on our twitter.”
However then the magazine took its Facebook and Twitter accounts offline.
The Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the Bundestag submitted a bill in the second week of April to outlaw government support for the anti-Israel BDS campaign.
“We want to prevent state support for organizations that challenge Israel’s right to exist. We are currently approaching other political groups in the German Bundestag in order to facilitate a joint initiative,” wrote the FDP MP Frank Müller-Rosentritt on his website. Müller-Rosentritt is a co-sponsor of the bill along with his FDP colleague Dr. Bijan Djir-Sarai.
Müller-Rosentritt wrote on his website: “Since its founding in 2005, the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has been calling for the isolation and economic, cultural and political boycott of the state of Israel. The BDS movement is not only anti-Israel in its methods and aims, but for the most part clearly antisemitic.”
In an interview with the Berlin-based newspaper Der Tagesspiegel on Wednesday, Müller-Rosentritt said the FDP wants to draft a joint cross-party text. “We want a real position of the German government against antisemitism with concrete measures – and not simply say that one condemns antisemitism,” said Müller-Rosentritt.
Djir-Sarai became the first ever member of the German Bundestag to urge German banks to restrict access to organizations seeking to boycott the Jewish state.
A student minority officer at a British university told a Jewish student to “be like Israel and cease to exist.”
Omar Chowdhury, the Black and Ethnic Minorities officer at Bristol University, in southwest England, also told Izzy Posen to “f*** off” and that “your comments are like Israeli settlements: always popping up where they are not wanted.”
Chowdhury ran for his student union position on a platform of “zero tolerance for racism,” the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
The exchange between Chowdhury and Posen appeared on the Facebook group Bristruths, where students can post messages anonymously. They have since been deleted but were saved in screenshots.
Another student wrote in a post on Bristruths that if Chowdhury is not removed from his student union post it would be a “double standard.”
“Jewish people are repeatedly swept under the rug, people are continually allowed to get away with this stuff, we need to set a precedent,” the post said. “This is clearly someone who shouldn’t be representing Bristol students. They are being both anti-zionist and anti-Semitic. It personally makes me so uncomfortable as a Jewish student.”
The Black and Ethnic Minorities (BME) officer at Bristol university is facing an investigation by the student union after telling a Jewish student on social media that he should “be like Israel and cease to exist”.
Omar Chowdhury, who was elected to his position on a platform which included “zero tolerance for racism”, also said Izzy Posen should “f*** off”, telling him “your comments are like Israeli settlements: always popping up where they are not wanted.”
Mr Chowdhury’s comments appeared on the Bristruths Facebook page, which is used by students at the university, who are able to use it to post messages on how they feel without revealing their identities.
Subsequently, a Jewish student, posting anonymously, said that if Mr Chowdhury was not removed from his position as a student union officer it would be “such a double standard”, saying that a precedent needed to be set to punish this type of behaviour.
“Jewish people are repeatedly swept under the rug, people are continually allowed to get away with this stuff,” the student wrote, accusing Mr Chowdhury of being “both anti-Zionist and antisemitic.
“This is clearly someone who shouldn’t be representing Bristol students.”
In a gushing review of The Daily, a New York Times podcast broadcast every weekday morning featuring interviews with the newspaper’s reporters, a staff writer for the New Yorker praised the program for offering “not just facts but feels.”
Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times podcast The Daily.
Whatever the reviewer might have meant by this, it is clear that the feelings of Times journalists on The Daily do often supersede the facts, leaving the program’s many listeners on the receiving end of facts and feels, perhaps, but also misrepresentations and falsehoods.
Consider the pair of segments broadcast after the Israeli elections, in which Michael Barbaro, host of The Daily, interviewed a Times reporter (on April 11) and a Palestinian anti-Israel activist (on April 12).
During the April 11 episode, listeners heard from Barbaro and his colleague Mark Landler, a New York Times White House correspondent, as they contextualized Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory with a bizarre account of Israeli and Palestinian history.
An “Occupied” Israel
To make the case that the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is “dead” — this is apparently one of those “feels” that The Daily offers — Landler told listeners,
The dilemma that has faced Israel since its founding in the 1940s was that the land that the Israelis occupied, the ancestral homeland for the Jewish people, was land that was actually also claimed by the Palestinians.
An April 12 article on Buzzfeed is titled: “How A Group For Jewish Moms Spread Anti-Vax Propaganda Before New York’s Measles Outbreak.” According to Google, at one point the headline seems to have read, “Jewish Group Spread Anti-Vax Propaganda Before New York’s Measles Outbreak.”
Compare Buzzfeed’s headline to the way that NBC reported the same story on its website: “Brooklyn measles outbreak: How a glossy booklet spread anti-vaccine messages in Orthodox Jewish communities” (April 12, 2019). Or the Columbia Journalism Review: “Measles outbreak pits Orthodox media against anti-vaxxer movement” (April 10, 2019). Or to the one the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle used when it reported an earlier story about the same group: “Anonymous anti-vaxxers push propaganda on local Orthodox community” (January 31, 2018).
In the NBC, CJR, and Chronicle headlines, anti-vaxxers present a threat to Jews. In the Buzzfeed version, however, it’s Jews who present a threat to New Yorkers.
As all of those outlets report, a group called Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health or “PEACH,” has been spreading misinformation about vaccines in the orthodox Jewish community. The Chronicle calls PEACH a “purported Jewish organization” and notes that the authors of its propaganda material “hide behind pseudonyms.” NBC calls it an “an anonymously led group,” and quotes the handbook’s Editor-in-Chief’s explanation of why the group is anonymous, although NBC does name two women and one man that it identified through research and linked with the group.
In other words, if the BBC cannot describe Jerusalem as Israeli territory because the city was included in a proposal which never got off the ground, then logically it should not be describing places such as Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Abu Dis and Bethlehem as ‘Palestinian’ because they too were included in that same proposal.
But is that the case in BBC reporting? Here are a few examples:
In December 2018 listeners to BBC Radio 4 heard that St Nicholas Day “is still widely celebrated and nowhere more so than among the Christians of the Palestinian town of Beit Jala”.
In March 2018 Radio 4 listeners heard a drama called “The Bethlehem Murders” which they were told was “Crime fiction set in Palestine” and in which the narrator was introduced as “a teacher in the city of Bethlehem in Palestine”. Another character was portrayed as living in “Beit Jala – a Palestinian Christian town”.
In November 2015 the BBC’s Lyse Doucet reported from a location she described as “a Palestinian village…the city of Beit Jala – very close to Bethlehem”.
A May 2013 report from Abu Dis by Yolande Knell told BBC audiences of “Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem”.
In December 2012 Kevin Conolly informed BBC audiences that “Christians are…even in a minority in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem”.
So as we see, not only is the ‘rationale’ behind the BBC editorial policy of not accurately informing its audiences where Israel’s capital is located totally misguided, it is not even applied uniformly and impartially. More double standards from the self-declared “provider of news that you can trust”.
Aeberhard did not however conclude his report there. Although the World Jewish Congress is not an Israeli organisation, he chose to spend over half his air time bringing Israel into the story while uncritically re-promoting a highly offensive statement made by the Polish prime minister in February 2018 which the BBC failed to adequately report at the time.
Aeberhard: “Relations between Poland and Israel – in some ways close – have been strained by bitter exchanges over the extent of antisemitism in Poland, linked to a row over the Holocaust. Poland’s prime minister said some Jews had helped perpetrate the Holocaust as well as some Poles. And Israel’s acting foreign minister used a quote from a former prime minister to allege that Poles imbibed antisemitism with their mothers’ milk. The Israeli press has picked up on the Pruchnik Judas ritual which raises the possibility of further less than diplomatic exchanges.”
The item ended there, with no further information given to listeners regarding that “row over the Holocaust” and no explanation as to why that remark from the Polish prime minister – which has been described as “not only ugly but telling in its deliberate bracketing of the Holocaust’s principal victims with Polish and other Eastern European collaborators” – was widely condemned at the time.
Listeners did learn, however, that any follow-up to the story portrayed at the beginning of the item will be because of “the Israeli press” rather than because of the actions (now apparently under criminal investigation) of residents of a small Polish town.
Wondering why there is #antisemitism on a FB group called Dorset Eye. It doesn’t seem to be about Dorset what’s going on in Dorset it seems to be a front for anti-Israel and antiSemitic posts
And the Delegitimization of Israel, with pro Corbyn flag wavers pic.twitter.com/i3EcUOJOZ4
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) April 23, 2019
A rabbi and his wife were injured in Kenya during a violent assault at their Jewish community center and synagogue, which serves as their home, in what they said was a robbery featuring anti-Semitism.
Five men beat up Rabbi Shmuel Notik and his wife Chaya Tuesday night, stealing computers, passports, food and religious items from their center in Nairobi, the Ynet news site reported.
Chaya Notik was moderately injured, requiring surgery. The rabbi was lightly injured.
The robbers bound two yeshiva students who were present at the Jewish community center. They beat the rabbi after he tried to call police. The robbers beat the rabbi’s wife with sticks, threatening to kill her in her bedroom and hurling anti-Semitic insults at her, according to the report. She fled to the bathroom with her children and locked the door behind her, remaining there until police arrived, according to Ynet.
Nairobi has one of the world’s highest crime rates.
Notik and his wife settled in Nairobi in 2014. Days after their arrival, he was mugged in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi when six men armed with knives intercepted him on a dark street.
A constituent tweets at the Mayor of Brick Township, New Jersey about parks and beaches being “invaded by the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews and being ruined.”
The Mayor responds about parks security but makes no mention of the tweeters anti-Semitic tone. pic.twitter.com/p2KblpeQzF
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 24, 2019
Lithuanian officials on Wednesday said they have blacklisted British Holocaust denier David Irving to prevent him from entering the Baltic EU state later this year, in a move hailed by the local Jewish community.
“Irving has been banned from entering Lithuania until April 2024, after we received a request from the foreign ministry,” migration department chief Evelina Gudzinskaite told AFP.
The foreign ministry called for a ban because “Irving’s views and his efforts to trivialize the Holocaust are unacceptable and constitute a crime in Lithuania,” according to spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene.
The controversial 81-year-old British historian, who was jailed in Austria in 2006 for denying the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during World War II, said he planned to visit Poland this year.
Officials said he may also come to neighboring Lithuania and its fellow Baltic state Latvia during the tour.
“We welcome the ban. It is a drastic but necessary measure to prevent Holocaust denial,” Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the national Jewish association, told AFP.
Just over a year after it launched in Israel, Spotify will finally become available in Hebrew.
The music streaming platform announced on Wednesday that, sometime in the next couple of weeks, the website and app will become fully functional in Hebrew.
Hebrew will be the 22nd language available in the app, which is currently operational in English, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Thai, Turkish and much more. Spotify said the Hebrew rollout will happen gradually across iOS, Android and the desktop apps, and will update automatically for those whose phones are set to Hebrew.
Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the world, with more than 200 million users worldwide, though it declines to break that figure down by country. After a month in operation in Israel, the company said that users listened to 2.3 million hours of music in the first three weeks of its operation, and listened to a wide range of English and Hebrew music. At the time, Spotify said 57% of its Israeli users are between the ages of 13 and 34, and 39% of them are based in Tel Aviv.
The Los Angeles Times has named an Israeli/Middle Eastern restaurant in the city its best eatery of 2019.
The newspaper on Monday gave its top culinary honor to Bavel, a restaurant opened last year by the husband-and-wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis.
“It’s a restaurant that wonderfully encapsulates the all-things-Middle-Eastern movement sweeping Los Angeles,” wrote LATimes food writer Jenn Harris. “The hummus is reason enough to give Bavel all the awards.”
The restaurant defines itself as Middle Eastern, combining the co-owners’ family roots of “Israel, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt.”
The restaurant serves classic Israeli dishes like za’atar flatbreads, malawach, roasted cauliflower, lamb shawarma and hummus alongside items including grilled prawns and tomahawk ribeye.
The restaurant is named for the biblical story of the tower of Babel, known in the original Hebrew as Bavel.
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