JPost: Intolerance parade
What is intersectionality? It is a vogue theory – particularly on the Left – that essentially posits a hierarchy of oppression. It first appeared in the feminist movement when black women complained that their unique struggles were not adequately addressed by the elitist white women (many of whom Jewish) who dominated the movement. But it has since developed into a form of discourse in which one’s identity determines the extent of one’s suffering and, therefore, the justness of one’s grievances in isolation from reason.
In the cases of Grauer and Shoshany-Anderson intersectionality works to their disadvantage because in addition to their sexual identity they also share a Jewish or Israeli identity.
There is no contest in the clash between the pro-Palestinian gay and the Zionist gay. In the parallel universe of intersectionality, Israel is not the only place in the Middle East where the rights of homosexuals are protected and where Palestinian homosexuals can find refuge from repression in an intolerant Palestinian society. It is a place where colonialist, white Jews oppress an indigenous Palestinian population. No matter that the State of Israel was a refuge for Jews after the Holocaust, that Jews’ connection to this particularly land is undeniable and that most Israelis have roots in Muslim countries.
Reason does not apply in the parallel universe of intersectionality.
And that’s why it has become such a congenial environment for antisemitism. Certain dogmas must be accepted: America is evil; whites are privileged; Israel is evil; Muslim countries cannot be held to the same moral standards as the West (therefore, capital punishment for homosexuality in Iran or Saudi Arabia does not spark indignation in the LGBTQ community). Anyone who does not accept these axioms deserves the severest rebuke and shaming.
And so we have come full circle, back to the era of Stonewall when individuals were made to feel they must hide aspects of their identity for fear they would be derided or worse. But this time those expected to enter the closet are whites, Jews, Zionists and other purportedly “privileged” groups. Gay pride parades or dyke marches were conceived to be celebrations of LGBTQ identity. Sadly, they have become venues for bigotry and intolerance.
Last weekend’s outrage in Chicago is but the latest example of Jews being written out of progressive movements. Whether Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party or Linda Sarsour’s #Resistance, Jews are not only being made to feel unwelcome in left-leaning spaces, but anti-Semitism—masked as anti-Zionism—is becoming a marker of virtue. These episodes of ostracism are almost always undertaken to appease Muslims, which makes no sense under any circumstances, least of all for the LGBT community, which is welcomed and celebrated in the world’s only Jewish country and subject to state-sponsored harassment, imprisonment, and murder in nearly every Muslim-majority one.
It’s also cruelly ironic that Jews, of all people, would be subject to this sort of discrimination, given the disproportionate role they have played in LGBT politics and culture. The first homosexual advocacy organization, the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, was founded by a German Jew, Magnus Hirschfeld, whose pioneering work made him an enemy of the Nazis. The grandfather of the modern American gay rights movement, Frank Kameny, was Jewish, as is our most famous AIDS activist, Larry Kramer. Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay people elected to public office in the United States, was a Jew, as is, of course, Barney Frank, one of the first openly gay congressmen. I could go on and on and on.
Watching this American LGBT movement infighting must seem strange to those from the many parts of the world where gay communities are fighting just for the basic right to exist. The notion of banning fellow gays from inclusion based solely upon their religious-ethnic identity must seem so preposterous, so strategically self-defeating that it could only be the work of a community too comfortable to realize its own good fortune. That, as well as the product of a commitment to a rancid political dogma known as “intersectionality,” which mandates one group of people, Jews, be stigmatized as the price of adherence to a victim hierarchy that imparts varying levels of virtue to individuals based upon their identity, with Muslims ranking highest.
“I was here as a proud Jew in all of my identities,” an Iranian Jewish lesbian told the Windy City Times about being forced to leave the festival. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional. I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.” This is, alas, the ineluctable logic of intersectionality as defined by contemporary progressives: Judenrein gay pride parades.
Leading US Jewish organizations on Monday excoriated the organizers of a gay rights march in Chicago this past weekend whose stewards ejected a group of women carrying Jewish Pride flags on the grounds of their opposition to “Zionism.”
On Monday, the Chicago Dyke Collective defended its decision to prevent the women from participating by saying that anti-Zionist Jews were welcome — a rationale slammed as “heinous” by Arthur Slepian, founder of the Israeli-North American LGBTQ organization A Wider Bridge, in an interview with The Algemeiner.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on the organizers of the Chicago LGBTQ pride march to apologize.
“It is outrageous that while celebrating LGBTQ pride, Jewish participants carrying a rainbow Star of David flag were asked to leave the Chicago Dyke March,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The community of LGBTQ supporters is diverse and that is part of its tremendous strength. Both the act and the explanation were anti-Semitic, plain and simple.”
Greenblatt — whose organization has produced a set of materials to mark Pride Month — called on “leaders from LGBTQ and progressive communities to join us in condemning this exclusion.”
Greenblatt praised the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization, for offering its support.
The organizers, however, are getting support from Jewish Voice for Peace’s Chicago group.
JVP-Chicago tweeted out its support for excluding these Jewish LGBT persons:
— Chicago JVP (@ChicagoJVP) June 26, 2017
JVP-Chicago also posted supportive messages on Facebook:
If you have followed our coverage of JVP, none of this would surprise you. JVP ran ads in support of convicted murder Marwan Barghouti, was one of the biggest supporters of convicted supermarket bomber and immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh, and enables anti-Semitism by providing Jewish cover for anti-Semites, and twisting of Jewish holidays into anti-Israel events. The Chicago branch has been particularly active on behalf of Odeh.
When the Jewish community examines what happened at the Chicago Dyke March, it needs to consider not only how we got to the point that Jews are being singled out on the streets and subjected to litmus tests applied to no one else, but also how JVP encourages and supports such abuse.
This is a video made by a group that is by no means pro-Israel – they just find interesting stories to report.
I don’t understand how if you are gay, you can hate Israel and support people who treat you like garbage and even potentially kill you.
Unless your hatred for Jews is more intense than your concern for gay rights.
Among the many difficulties confronting Jews who are comfortable calling themselves Zionists is the phenomenon of “Jew-washing.” Inspired by expressions such as “whitewashing” and “pinkwashing,” the idea is that if a non-Jewish person (the “Jew-washer”) can count Jews among those endorsing his beliefs or behavior then his beliefs or behavior cannot be deemed antisemitic. Indeed if the non-Jew can count Jews among his personal friends, if “some of his best friends are Jews,” then he cannot be deemed an antisemite. The problem for Zionists then is clear: the fact that so many Jews are anti-Zionists obscures or disguises the antisemitic nature of much or most anti-Zionism (or, as I prefer, “anti-Israelism”).
And though they are only a minority, there are many such Jews: the very visibly orthodox Jewish Neturei Karta who headline anti-Israel events all over Europe and elsewhere, “The Guardian’s Anti-Israel Jews,” the German Jewish Holocaust survivors who go on anti-Israel tours, the many British Jews so ably satirized in Howard Jacobson’s Booker-winning The Finkler Question as belonging to “ASHamed Jews” (the capitalized “ASH” reflecting their contempt for Holocaust memory), the American organization Jewish Voice for Peace, etc. These are just a small sampling, so the problem itself is large.
Now obviously not every instance or type of criticism of Israel is antisemitic. By “anti-Israelism,” I shall mean that negative attitude toward Israel that is generally characterizable as antisemitic. As a guide I shall assume the “working definition of antisemitism” that has been adopted in various forms by the European Parliament, the thirty-one countries comprising the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the United Kingdom, and the U. S. State Department. The latter puts it particularly succinctly, noting that criticism of Israel becomes antisemitic when it operates by means of any of the “3 Ds”: when it demonizes, applies double standards to, or delegitimizes the State of Israel.
The aim of this essay, then, is to demonstrate that Jew-washing generally does not succeed: the sheer fact that some or even many Jews share a non-Jewish person’s anti-Israelism will not itself absolve that person, or his anti-Israelism, of this sort of antisemitism. Given the enormous scope of the phenomenon—the many different forms of anti-Israelism and diverse motivations of anti-Israelists—the essay cannot be exhaustive but merely programmatic. Ultimately each instance of Jew-washing must be critiqued on its own merits and demerits; this essay will provide illustrative examples of how one might do that.
The Indelible Stain of Antisemitism: The Failed Practice of ‘Jew-Washing,’ Part 2
The Indelible Stain of Antisemitism: The Failure of ‘Jew-Washing,’ Part 3
The Indelible Stain of Antisemitism: The Failure of ‘Jew-Washing,’ Part 4
Confessions of a College Zionist
A few weeks ago, while tabling for an event with my pro-Israel student group — Mustangs United for Israel — we were approached by a student who stopped and asked: “So, if you are pro-Israel then that means you’re anti-Palestinian?” It was an easy question to answer. In fact, it only took one word: No.
This question and others like it have become routine for me. Throughout my time in college, I have been told that because I believe in the Jewish state’s right to exist, I can’t believe in equal rights, Palestinian human rights or my rights as a woman.
Actually, I can — and I do.
It is because of my belief in honoring people’s rights regardless of religion, race or sex that I feel compelled to support Israel. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel offers the same legal rights and protections to all of its citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) is hardly a homogeneous Jewish group; Muslims, Christians and Druze all serve as elected officials and in other governmental roles.
The Middle East, with the exception of Israel, is notorious for its mistreatment and discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community. In Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death. And in these and many other Middle East countries, it is dangerous just to express support for LGBTQ+ rights and movements.
NGO Monitor’s Presdient Gerald Steinberg will receive on Monday the Bonei Zion Prize for Israel advocacy.
The Bonei Zion Prize is awarded annually to seven English-speaking immigrants to Israel who contribute significantly to the State of Israel.
“We congratulate President Gerald Steinberg on this milestone,” NGO Monitor staff said.
NBN staff also congratulated Steinberg on the achievement.
Steinberg immigrated to Israel in 1979. He founded NGO Monitor in 2001, after the World Conference against Racism was abused by human rights organizations’ political campaign to harm Israel.
The organization, which fights the efforts to de-legitimize Israel, makes a point of advancing discussion on the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who involve themselves in the Israel-Arab conflict by claiming that Israeli is “violating the Palestinians’ human rights.”
Over the years, NGO Monitor has published several studies commissioned by various governments, diplomats, and the Israeli media.
NGO Monitor: NGO Monitor Response to DanChurchAid’s Defense
On May 30, 2017, DanChurchAid (DCA) posted a response to criticism against its partnerships with organizations and individuals with alleged ties to terrorism and that promote antisemitism.
According to DanChurchAid, “The critisism [sic] is mainly directed towards Shawan Jabarin,” General Director of Palestinian NGO Al-Haq and General Secretary of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, based in France).
DCA acknowledges that “Jabrin was in prison for 9 months back in the 1980’s accused of helping two members of the organisation PFLP to travel for a training.” The group further claims that “Jabrin denies any involvement with PFLP and states that he has had no contact with them since his imprisonment.” (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP is involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians.)
DCA, however, does not relate to all the readily available facts. According to an Israeli statement to the UN, Jabarin’s connections to the terror organization continued beyond his conviction in 1985. DCA further omits the following evidence connecting Jabarin to the terror group:
- In 1994, Jabarin was arrested and placed in administrative detention as he “had not discontinued his terrorist involvement and maintains his position in the leadership of the PFLP.”
- In 2003, Jordan refused to allow Jabarin into the country.
- In 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected Jabarin’s appeal to go abroad stating that “The objections by security forces are all rooted in security concerns based on classified information, showing that the petitioner is a senior activist in the PFLP terror group….the current petitioner is apparently acting as a manner of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization which has not shied away from murder and attempted murder, which have nothing to do with rights…” (Translated from Hebrew.)
In WDR’s press release on the antisemitism documentary, dated 8 June 2017, WDR repeatedly emphasizes the notion of journalistic standards. Specifically, WDR alleges that the film makes inaccurate claims and presents speculation as fact, and that the filmmakers failed to contact the individuals and groups in question.
We note the irony that WDR has violated precisely these standards in its “faktencheck” relating to “33:43 Min. – Prof. Steinberg and NGO Monitor,” available online at http://www1.wdr.de/unternehmen/der-wdr/unternehmen/doku-faktencheck/doku-faktencheck-130.html.
- WDR defames NGO Monitor by falsely claiming that it “is not an independent organization.” In fact, NGO Monitor is completely independent of any government or private group. As a non-profit organization, it is unremarkable that we receive donations from private individuals and foundations, nor does it compromise in any way our independence.
- The claim that NGO Monitor is “closely linked” to the Institute for Zionist Strategies is based on seven words from an article in the Haaretz newspaper, relating to a board member and not an employee of NGO Monitor. It appears that this was added and greatly exaggerated in the “WDR Faktencheck” in order to create a prejudicial impression about NGO Monitor research.
- WDR’s notes include an ambiguous sentence that appears to connect NGO Monitor with a political agenda of settling the West Bank – the syntax is unclear as to whether the agenda is said to belong to the Institute for Zionist Strategies alone, or to NGO Monitor as well. If the former, then this is guilt by association. If the latter, then this is false, as NGO Monitor is a non-partisan research organization that does not take a political position on settlements.
- Most importantly, WDR failed to contact NGO Monitor to clarify any of these claims. Point of fact, you and I exchanged emails on 14-15 of June, and you had ample opportunity to verify the information before making it public.
A haredi elementary school in London has failed an inspection for the third time because it does not teach students about sexual identity and gender reassignment surgery.
Vishnitz Girls School — which has over 200 students aged three to eight — was written up by the non-ministerial Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) for lacking a curriculum on “developing respect and tolerance for those who may have protected characteristics as set out in the 2010 Equality Act,” which named nine protected identities, including gender reassignment and sexual orientation.
The Oftsed report, released earlier this month, claimed that students were “shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation,” which “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.”
“As a result, pupils are not able to gain a full understanding of fundamental British values,” Oftsed investigators wrote.
Inspectors did praise Vishnitz for the quality of the education, as well as the “school’s culture…clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.” (h/t Yenta Press)
Last night JW3 hosted a screening of Whitewashed, a film about antisemitism in the Labour Party; this was followed by a fascinating discussion between David Hirsh and Howard Jacobson.
The film, produced by Judith Ornstein, presented by David Hirsh, and made by J-TV, was prompted by the many failings of the Chakrabarti report. It draws on submissions to the report, submissions which contributors felt had been brushed aside.
One point emphasised in Whitewashed, particularly by Eve Garrard, was the way in which policies relating to Zionism have more impact at home than in Israel, with Jews sometimes feeling they have to denounce Israel in order to be accepted.
Another strand was the way in which people fail to deal with antisemitism not, or not only, because of a lack of understanding, but because of an unwillingness to understand.
You can watch the film here, and here’s just one brief example of the problem, in case you need a reminder; it’s taken from Richard Gold’s submission:
After his brother tweeted “#Zionists can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine”, (with regard to Louise Elman’s comments about antisemitism in the Labour Party) Jeremy Corbyn when asked if he thought his brother’s tweet was wrong went on to agree with his brother saying: “No my brother isn’t wrong. My brother has his point of view, I have mine. We actually fundamentally agree – we are a family that has been fighting racism from the day we were born. My mother was at Cable Street.”
The lively debate which followed the screening highlighted the difficulties experienced by many traditional Labour voters in the current climate. Some in the audience had felt that it was worth supporting a Labour moderate, as Corbyn couldn’t possibly become PM, and the moderate would continue to fight Corbyn.
In February 2017, leaflets denying the Holocaust were found in various departments of the University of Cambridge displayed on notice boards and in communal areas. The university’s ViceA Chancellor, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, condemned this and expressed his deep concern. Around the same time, similar leaflets were found at other universities including the University College of London, the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh.
Anti-Semitic incidents of various nature have occurred at the University of Edinburgh also in earlier years. In 2011, an Israeli diplomat, Yishmael Khaldi, was mobbed when he spoke there. In 2012, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub was disrupted by students chanting and waving Palestinian flags. There were reports of Jewish students leaving their courses at university because of anti-Semitism. Some accused the university Board of neglecting the problem. In 2015, the Edinburg University Student Association (EUSA) scheduled a debate on boycotting Israel on the day before Passover so that many Jewish students could not speak against the BDS resolution. In 2016 a poster was found at the university which said that the Holocaust was a fraud.
Anti-Semitism problems also exist at the National Union of Jewish Students (NUS). The previous president of the Union, Malia Bouattia, was condemned by the Home Select Affairs Committee of the House of Commons for calling Birmingham University a ‘Zionist outpost.’ A year later there was a new scandal at the NUS when three candidates who held positions on its executive committee or were candidates for them were accused of anti-Semitic comments.
Against this background it is not surprising that the anti-Semitism definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which was adopted by the British government is not liked by antisemites and their allies in the academic world. The IHRA definition has for instance been rejected by the University and Colleges Union, which has 110 000 members and a long history of anti-Israel incitement. The above is only a selection chosen from many more issues.
On June 14, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Normani—both from Muslim families—testified before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Islamism. None of the committee’s four female Democratic senators asked a single question of either of these two women, and one objected to the very fact that the hearing was taking place. Hirsi Ali and Normani see this silence as evidence of “a deeply troubling trend among progressives”:
When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access, and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery, or female genital mutilation.
Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. . . . Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Islamic law by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards. . . . [But] in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas. . . .
There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted, or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving”—and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?
CAMERA’s Israel office today prompted correction of an Associated Press article which erroneously referred to the Western Wall as “the last retaining wall of the biblical Jewish temple” (“Ultra-Orthodox lawmaker: Reform Jews don’t believe in Temple,” 6:49 am GMT).
First, the Western Wall is not a retaining wall of the temple itself, but of the mount on which the temples stood. Second, it is not the mount’s “last retaining wall.” The southern, eastern and northern retaining walls are also still extant.
In response to communication from CAMERA, AP commendably updated the article and amended the misinformation. The amended article (9:00 am GMT) now correctly refers to the holy site “a retaining wall of the compound where the biblical Jewish temples once stood.”
CAMERA’s timely action and AP’s quick correction of today’s wire story underscores the value of the organization’s work monitoring and responding to wire stories in the same news cycle as they appear. With this preemptive work, CAMERA’s Israel office helps prevent misinformation from appearing in media outlets around the world.
DPA, the German news agency, has relocated Jerusalem to the Palestinian territories. Today’s photo caption, which appears on the photo sites of leading news agencies Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, states:
Gilad Grossman, spokesman of the human rights organisation Jesch Din, in Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories, 26 June 2017. The Israeli government has approved the first state-sanctioned settlement in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the Oslo peace process. The settlements are widely regarded as illegal under international law. Jesch Din is one of the organisations contesting the move. Photo by: Stefanie J’rkel
In addition, a second DPA caption refers to a future Israeli settlement to be built in “Palestinian territories.” The land slated for the future settlement of Amichai is in disputed West Bank land, Area C, not under Palestinian control, and is therefore not part of the “Palestinian territories.” The final status of this land is to be determined in negotiations, and has not yet been resolved.
This caption also appears on the AP and AFP photo sites:
Avichai Boaron, a spokesman for the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona, stands in front of the site upon which the Israeli government has approved the first state-sanctioned settlement in the occupied territories since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in ‘Amichai’, Palestinian Territories, 26 June 2017. The settlements are widely regarded as illegal under international law. Photo by: Stefanie J’rkel
Whatever one makes of the long news article the New York Times ran out under the headline “50 Years After War, East Jerusalem Palestinians Confront a Life Divided,” the maps that appeared along with it are just indefensible.
They look like someone forgot to proofread them, or as if they were lifted from some flunking high-school student’s geography term paper.
The maps that appeared in the New York Times. Photo: Screenshot.
One map features a red square labeled “Damascus Gate” floating what appears to be nearly an eighth of a mile away from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It makes it appear, inaccurately, as if the “gate” is a freestanding attraction rather than an entrance to the Old City.
The same map features a depiction of the Old City with the “Muslim Quarter” and “Al Aqsa Mosque” labeled — but with no label showing the Jewish Quarter or the Western Wall. It’s as if either the cartographer started doing the map project with the Muslim sites, then got bored and took a break and forgot to finish, or as if there’s an effort deliberately to obliterate all trace of Jewish connection to the Old City.
A second map, beneath the other one, features a label pointing to what the Times calls “Mt. Olive.” The place the Times is trying to communicate about is the “Mount of Olives.”
Iranian terror financing is not a topic on which the BBC has produced any serious and significant reporting – in fact quite the opposite.
In June 2013 the BBC News website promoted a report by an NGO claiming that “there is no evidence of any financial support provided to Hezbollah” by Iran. The BBC has not however covered subsequent statements conflicting that claim that have been made by both Hizballah’s leader and Iranian officials.
In April 2015 the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent told audiences of Iran’s “alleged support for terrorism” and in July 2015 other senior BBC correspondents were busy telling audiences that the cash influx resulting from the P5+1 deal with Iran on its nuclear programme would be used exclusively to improve the domestic Iranian economy.
In January 2016 the BBC News website told audiences that “Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon” without providing any information that would help them to conclude whether or not such accusations are justified.
The High Court has ruled that the UK government acted unlawfully in trying to restrict local governments from instituting “ethical” boycotts on Israel via their pension funds. The case was brought by the pro-BDS group Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The Department for Communities and Local Government had argued that anti-boycott guidelines for local governments were needed because such actions contradicted UK foreign policy, and because it might undermine community cohesion by legitimising antisemitism.
Though the court ruled on purely technical grounds that the government action was unlawful, PSC took a victory lap on the pages of the Guardian yesterday, in an op-ed by their director, Ben Jamal, titled “This ruling allows councils to boycott Israel. It’s a crucial victory”.
Anyone familiar with the politically regressive politics of PSC – which includes suspected financial ties with ‘illegal groups’ in Gaza and the well-documented problem of antisemitism among its members – would see through Jamal’s attempt to sell BDS as a progressive movement. Though he claims in his op-ed that the court ruling “is a victory for…freedom of expression”, BDS activists have continuously demonstrated that they stand in opposition to free speech and expression.
BDS is not a benign political campaign, but a movement whose leaders are opposed to the existence of a Jewish state within any borders and which attempts to silence and socially ostracize millions of Israeli Jews. Its campaign involves preventing Israeli artists from performing abroad, excluding Israeli professors from academic conferences, bullying Jewish college students who support Israel, chasing Israeli speakers off campuses and targeting Israeli athletes competing in European sports competitions.
What could have possessed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a level-headed politician, to characterize Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s supreme leader from 1920 to 1944, as one of its “exceptional statesmen?” All the more surprising, Orban lauded Horthy only hours before he was to host the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, in Parliament.
Horthy, to be sure, is one of the most controversial personalities in modern Hungarian history.
To his admirers, he brought peace, stability and prosperity to Hungary following two traumatic events — the Bela Kun Bolshevik coup of 1919 and the Treaty of Trianon of 1920. The coup, in Budapest, ushered in a fairly brief period of mounting tension and chaos that pushed Hungary to the brink of civil war. The treaty, imposed on Hungary after its defeat in World War I, stripped it of more than 70 percent of its territory and left nationalists fuming.
To his critics, Horthy is nothing less than a villain.
Shortly after his accession to power, he announced an edict which restricted the number of Jewish students who could attend university. With the passage of this numerus clausus, Hungary became the first nation in postwar Europe to pass anti-Semitic legislation.
From 1938 onward, Hungary passed a series of anti-Semitic laws that reduced Jews, one of its largest minorities, to second-class citizenship. In 1940, in a letter to Hungary’s prime minister, he explained his policy toward Jews:
Ed Elhaderi went from pinning up posters of Yasser Arafat in his native Libya in the 1970s, to marrying a Jew and converting to Judaism. Jewish Journal charts his remarkable spiritual journey (With thanks: JIMENA) :
That hot afternoon seems like yesterday, but it was 50 years ago this month. I was 15 and living in Sabha, a small city in the Sahara Desert of southern Libya. An older cousin told me about the reports on Cairo Radio about the dire situation facing the Egyptian army.
“We’ve got to do something,” he said.
I didn’t fully understand the politics of what would come to be known as the Six-Day War, but I knew that what was happening was bad for us as Arabs and Muslims. All around me were other teenagers absorbing the tense mood and looking to vent their rage at the Jews. I followed the crowd to the only Western-style establishment nearby, a bar. It was early afternoon and the place hadn’t opened yet. A few older boys broke down the door, and a crowd stormed in, breaking bottles and dumping alcohol onto the street outside.
Standing in a crowd, I joined the chants: “Death to the Jews!” “Drive the Jews into the sea!”
The truth is that I had never actually met a Jew. I grew up in a small nomadic village of 20 families, a collection of mud huts with palm-frond roofs that wouldn’t have looked much different 2,000 years earlier. Health care was so primitive that by the time I was a young boy, my parents had lost three children to illness.
Sunni Islam was the only way of life I knew. My preschool was in a mosque, where an imam taught us to read and write by drilling us with verses from the Quran. After that, our education was more secular — I went to mosque, going through the motions, but I was hardly devout. I never was exposed to any alternatives or avenues to question the life we had.
Our textbooks didn’t mention Israel, and people used the word Yahudi, Jew, only as an insult. The Jews had rejected the Prophet Muhammad, so they were considered to be condemned. The only Jews I saw were in Egyptian movies, in which they were portrayed as menacing, monstrous characters — hunched over and speaking with high-pitched nasal accents.
Pushing 90, Melvin James Kaminisky bounced on stage as though he had been shot out of a cannon: He was neat, a little round and casual-smart in slightly baggy creased cream slacks, an open-neck sky-blue shirt, and a red handkerchief peeping out the top pocket of his navy blue blazer. A wide grin ran from ear to ear. The packed house at the Thousand Oaks Civic Auditorium in Southern California on a recent night gave him the kind of welcome usually reserved for rock stars: shrieking, yells, and thunderous applause at the first sight of their icon.
Kaminsky—better known as director, producer, writer, actor, and stand-up comic Mel Brooks—had come to the theater as part of an intermittently year-long U.S. whistle-stop tour on the 42nd anniversary of the release of his 1974 film Blazing Saddles, which late critic Roger Ebert first described as “a crazed grab-bag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken.”
Since last October Brooks has been on the road and done a dozen personal appearances around the country. They screen his film, and then up pops Mel, who got his start as a teenage tummeler at Borscht Belt resorts in the Catskills and then turned out a series of comedic screen spoofs that have skewered every cinematic genre and topic known to man: Westerns, Horror films (Young Frankenstein, 1974), and sci-fi movies (Spaceballs, 1987). Hitler got the Mel Brooks treatment in The Producers—the 1967 film that was resurrected as a Broadway musical in 2002 and went on to win 12 Tonys. Alfred Hitchcock got the Brooks treatment in the 1977 film High Anxiety. And in 1981 Brooks took on the rest of human history with The History of the World Part 1, in which he played five roles—in addition to writing, producing, and directing.
John Trembler, producer of Brooks’ live performance shows, who has been on the road with Brooks since last September (the tour ends at Radio City Music Hall this September), said that Brooks’ passion never wanes, helped along by the enthusiasm of his multigenerational audience. “He likes to come to the theater at the beginning of the movie,” he told me, “sit in the wings, and listen to the audience. Then he shakes his head in disbelief because they are still laughing 40 years later.”
Israeli singer Sarit Hadad performed in the United Nations at a special event hosted by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon marking fifty years since Jerusalem’s reunification. Ambassadors and diplomats from around the world joined hundreds of participants from the pro-Israel community for the special performance.
“Tonight, we say loud and clear here in the UN, that Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people,” Ambassador Danon said at the event. “Jerusalem is, and always will be, our undivided and eternal capital,” the Ambassador concluded.
“I am so proud to celebrate Jerusalem and perform at this exciting event in the UN. This is a special performance that sent an important message as we presented the real beauty of Israel to the international community,” Sarit Hadad said about the event.
Before the performance, Yehuda Kaploun, an entrepreneur active in promoting Israeli technologies, noted how Israeli innovations have been a Jerusalem export for thousands of years. “Israeli technologies such as Water-Gen have been making the world a better place since the days when King Solomon created an aquatic system for fresh drinking water, which still exists today in Jerusalem,” Kaploun noted.
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