Melanie Phillips: Why the Labour party can’t deal with its Jew-hatred
This contemporary expression of the oldest hatred didn’t start with Corbyn and it won’t end with him. It has been around for decades and is endemic in progressive circles, not just in Britain but throughout the West.
Support for the Palestinian cause is the signature motif of the left. And that cause is founded upon blood libels, conspiracy theories and other murderous and ancient anti-Jewish tropes.
Mahmoud Abbas, viewed by the western left as a statesman-in-waiting, has a doctorate in Holocaust denial, explicitly venerates the Palestinian Nazi-ally Haj Amin al Husseini who undertook to slaughter every Jew in the Middle East in the event of Hitler’s victory, and uses his media outlets to transmit medieval and Nazi-style demonization of the Jews.
At the end of last year, a preacher said typically on Palestinian Authority TV that the Jews “expose their fangs whenever they get the chance… always fighting, always scheming and always plotting against humanity… ”
So why should Labour Party members who support the Palestinians with their agenda of Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power now be so shocked that other party members are themselves coming out with Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power?
This was true of the Labour Party even under leaders such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who were themselves personally sympathetic to Israel and the Jewish people. But because they also believed in the power of reason, compromise and “peace processes” to resolve all conflict, they blinded themselves to the implacably anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist foundations of the Palestine cause which they also championed as “deserving.”
This is why anti-Zionism has weaponized antisemitism in progressive circles.
The Labour Party may be destroyed altogether by the twin issues of Brexit and antisemitism. The former has the capacity to reshape British politics altogether. The latter threatens to destroy the party because if Labour isn’t a moral project it is nothing.
That applies in turn to the left in general; which is why it is now philosophically bankrupt, repudiating decency, evidence and reason itself while supporting abuses of intellectual, political or religious power and abandoning their victims throughout the Western world.
The programme painted a picture for the general viewer of just how routine and horrific anti-Semitism has become in the Labour party. Izzy Lenga, the international officer of the Jewish Labour Movement, said she’d been subjected to anti-Semitism ‘every single day’, including being told ‘Hitler didn’t go far enough’ and witnessing Holocaust denial in Labour meetings. Another activist, who voted for Corbyn as leader, told Panorama: ‘They might not call me a “dirty Jew” but they’ll call me a “dirty Zionist”, with pride.’
One Jewish interviewee said: ‘We are very frightened of what Corbyn might do because we have seen these behaviours before.’ Another admitted: ‘We feel like we don’t belong here and we have to do far more than anybody else to prove that we do.’ The same member said he’d been called ‘a fucking Jew’ and ‘a Jewish pig’.
MP Louise Ellman spoke about anti-Semitism in her Liverpool Riverside constituency, where one activist had said ‘Zionists are targets and deserve to feel uncomfortable’ while another declared: ‘Every Jew is a Zio-fascist’. Party investigations officer Ben Westerman was sent to Liverpool to assess the problem. At the end of one interview, a party member confronted Westerman, who is Jewish, and demanded: ‘Where are you from?… Are you from Israel?’
The pressure took its toll on the staff. Withers Green was diagnosed with depression and anxiety; Buckingham had a breakdown; Matthews contemplated suicide. Another staffer felt her work had meant nothing when she learned that, as of the Spring, just 15 members had been expelled for anti-Semitism. She and the rest of her former co-workers exuded utter dejection, the ideal mood for watching the programme because, in the end, very little will come of it. Labour’s anti-Semites will continue to be anti-Semitic and their enablers will continue to expect credit for the occasional strongly-worded tweet in rebuke.
What secures Jeremy Corbyn in post is not the anti-Semites in the grassroots but his MPs, who even now are preparing to campaign to put him in Downing Street if the new Prime Minister calls an election. Faced with a choice between the Jews and their latest miserable persecutors, Labour MPs have not only chosen to back the latter — they’ve chosen to be the latter. They are not merely feckless bystanders, they are knowing accomplices. They are this century’s guilty men and women and Panorama viewers glimpsed the horrors in which they are complicit.
The reaction of the Labour party to the Panorama programme reflects the desire of the Corbynista elite to pull up the ideological drawbridge and, in true Leninist fashion, not to cede any concession to their critics.
Following the student protests of the 1960s, a small group on the far left within the Labour party including Jeremy Corbyn perceived a middle ground between the parliamentary socialism of the Labour party and the revolutionary activism of the New Left.
Figures such as Corbyn were therefore happy to work with and appear on platforms with the extra-parliamentary far left. This belief superseded any concern that antisemitic comments might be uttered on these platforms.
The decision in 2013 to allow “supporters” to join Labour facilitated the far left’s entry into the party – to overcome a barrier that they had been trying to traverse for almost a century.
Today the party is being run by past fellow travellers from both the pro-Kremlin wing of the Communist party and the Trotskyist Militant Tendency. As Jon Lansman’s withdrawal from seeking the post of General Secretary of the party last year illustrated, even the Bennites have been sidelined.
The Jewish question is ideologically unimportant for many in Labour’s inner circle today because it has always been regarded historically as a peripheral issue in Marxism-Leninism, an irritating diversion from the long march to achieve a more just society.
Is the UK Becoming Unlivable for Jews?
Jews in Britain are fearing the worst: Jeremy Corbyn taking power. With a documented rise in UK anti-Semitism and Corbyn in the running for prime minister, British Jews may soon begin mass migrating to Israel. Our Ellie Hochenberg has the story.
The U.S. Department of Justice is holding a Summit on Combatting Anti-Semitism on July 15 in D.C.
I was asked to speak at the event. The full Agenda and speaker list is at the bottom of this post.
I will give a short presentation as part of a panel on Anti-Semitism on Campus.
My specific topic will be on the role of “intersectionality” theory in promoting anti-Semitism. It’s a topic I have written about many times here, including in this 2015 post, How student activists turned anti-rape group into an anti-Israel group:
The phrase “All evil in the world must be traced to Israel” is how researcher Nurit Baytch perceptively characterized the propaganda tactics of anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal.
It’s a phrase that increasingly characterizes the anti-Israel campus movement. Every real or perceived problem is either blamed on or connected to Israel.
The concerted effort to turn the Black Lives Matter movement into an anti-Israel movement has at its core the claim that Israel is the root of problems of non-whites in the United States. Thus, if a police chief somewhere attended a one-week anti-terrorism seminar in Israel years ago, every act of brutality by a cop on the beat is blamed on Israel. So too, Students for Justice in Palestine protesters in New York City even blamed high tuition on Zionists, leading to rebukes by administrators against such thinly-veiled anti-Semitism.
The Jew once again is made the source of all evil, the conspiratorial puppet-master controlling all and responsible for all. And Israel alone receives such treatment and is used as the link to connect all injustices in the world. That some of the worst perpetrators are Jewish progressives doesn’t change the nature of the attack.
Labour’s former head of disputes has accused Jeremy Corbyn of having done more than “any modern day political figure since the Second World War to bring about the rise of antisemitism.”
Sam Matthews – who lifted the lid on his time working for the party on Wednesday night’s damning BBC Panorama expose of Labour’s handling of complaints involving Jew-hate – tells the JC how he was driven to the brink of suicide as a result of the intense pressure put on him by Mr Corbyn’s closest aides to deliver their extremist political project.
Mr Matthews reveals how during his two-year tenure working at Labour’s headquarters in central London, he personally witnessed interference in a raft of high profile antisemitism cases by Mr Corbyn as well as senior party figures such as general secretary Jennie Formby, chief of staff Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, the leader’s director of strategy and Andrew Murray, another key Corbyn adviser.
“My view is that Jeremy Corbyn has done more than anyone in modern political history to bring about the rise of antisemitism,” he says.
“I saw first-hand the way his people operate and the way they allowed it to happen. I witnessed a deliberate attempt by these people to redefine what constituted modern day antisemitism – mainly so they could let their mates off the charge.
“After Jeremy became leader, he opened the floodgates and allowed people to join the Labour Party who never would have been allowed anywhere near it in the past.
“Whether he himself is an antisemite or not is an irrelevance. He is the biggest friend antisemites have had since the Second World War.”
We know that a substantial number of Labour members hold antisemitic views. We know that a substantial number of them feel completely at ease saying them in Party meetings, online and at conferences. Some of them have been elected Labour MPs. We know that those who are seen as disloyal to the leader are punished quicker and more harshly than Corbynites that commit acts of antisemitism. The Party complaints system has become infected with corruption, and is no longer fit for purpose. Jewish members of the Party have been thrown under the bus for almost 4 years now. The fact that the Jewish Labour Movement, the oldest affiliate to the Labour Party, felt the need to make a referral to the EHRC should be enough to illustrate the size of the problem. Sadly for a lot of Labour members, it hasn’t. The denial from so many is Trumpian in its nature.
I cannot say what is in Jeremy Corbyn’s heart. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter, and I don’t much care. The point is that the debate about whether Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic or not does not excuse the way in which his leadership has enabled an unforgivable rise in contemporary antisemitism in this country. I don’t want Corbyn to remain as Leader of the Labour Party, but I also know that even if he resigned today, the problem would not diminish.
Hard work is required to cleanse Labour of its institutional racism. Certain figures in the Leader’s office must be sacked. An independent complaints system needs to be created. Labour must comply fully and transparently with the EHRC, and more members need to be suspended and expelled, far more quickly. The systems that currently exist within the Party make it impossible to track the level of antisemitic activity, even if there was the political will from the leadership to do so. At this moment Labour is utterly undeserving of government. To pretend otherwise is a grotesque insult to Jews all over this country.
The former Labour MP who left the party after sustained antisemitic bullying, Luciana Berger, says she believes British politics to be in a “perilous” state and that she “couldn’t be responsible for facilitating getting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”.
In an unusually frank discussion with Richard Verber, communications director of the United Synagogue, Ms Berger also ruled out following in the path of her colleague Chuka Umuna, who, after a time in the Change Party with her, had left to go on to join the Liberal Democrats. Ms Berger said she could not be sure that in the future, if there were to be a general election, that the Lib Dems would not join a Corbyn-led coalition with Labour.
Speaking to a packed audience at Finchley Synagogue as part of its “Our Friends in Westminster” lecture series, Ms Berger, who now sits as the Independent MP for Liverpool Wavertree — where she had a 29,466 majority at the last election — said she believed that politics “needed to be done in a different way.” She applauded a recent rule change which had allowed for proxy votes so that MPs with young families could get home at a reasonable time to see their children, and spoke of how she had previously had to take her first child, her daughter Amelie, into Parliament for votes which did not begin till 10 pm. “This is not conducive to a normal family life”, she said.
But the MP began her remarks by warning that being in Parliament was “not a job for life”. She said that holding public office was a responsibility and a privilege, and that attitudes to public service needed to change.
Did I think when I joined the Labour Party five years ago whilst in 6th Form that my experience of the Labour Party would be defined almost entirely by antisemitism? Absolutely not.
I joined because at the time I saw a party that aligned with my values of social justice and equality and I wanted to be a part of building a better country.
Five years on, that Labour Party has all but disappeared.
The airing of the Panorama documentary on antisemitism in the Labour Party last night has shed a critical light on the devastating failings taking place within the Party and its complaints procedures.
Eight incredibly brave whistle-blowers and the former General Secretary, Iain McNicol, defied Non-Disclosure Agreements to speak about their experiences of working in the Labour Party’s complaints department.
They detailed the political interference from Jeremy Corbyn’s office, the undermining of staff and a toxic culture that pervaded.
What was the most shocking was the toll that this took on their mental health.
General secretary Jennie Formby has accused deputy leader Tom Watson of “publicly attacking” her while she undergoes cancer treatment as the antisemitism row deepens.
Watson wrote to her calling for the party to publish its submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over antisemitism claims, as well as raising allegations she had deleted emails relating to cases, a suggestion Formby denies.
In her reply, she said she was “very disappointed” in his approach and accused him of abusing his position. “The party has at all levels consistently shown that it recognises the vital importance of combating antisemitism, yet you consistently abuse your considerable platform to denigrate any progress that has been made and any individual that is involved in that,” she said.
Formby, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, added: “Traducing my reputation and publicly attacking me when you know I am undergoing chemotherapy and am unable to respond in the media is another example of the inappropriate way in which you choose to discuss this issue.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised the manner and timing of Watson’s letter, saying it “goes beyond my understanding” that it was sent “when he knows she’s undergoing chemotherapy”.
Jeremy Corbyn never responded to Isaac Herzog’s invitation to visit Yad Vashem, the Chairman of Jewish Agency noted commenting the BBC report on antisemitism in the British Labour party at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem on Thursday.
“When Jeremy Corbin was elected, I was Chairman of Labor and Chairman of the opposition in Israel,” Herzog recalled, adding that he extended the invitation to his British counterpart “following certain comments of his on the Holocaust.”
“I never got a reply, never ever. And he never bothered to come and see,” Herzog concluded.
Herzog’s remarks came a day after the BBC broadcasted a documentary devoted to antisemitism in the Labour.
The report indicated that top figures in the party “interfered” with the disciplinary process regarding the disputes.
According to the Mirror, the party attempted to prevent the BBC from broadcasting it.
Pilecki’s own story is tragic, and Fairweather tells it well. A man of exceptional courage, he spent the rest of the war fighting with the Polish underground, took part in the Warsaw uprising against the Germans and was eventually accused of treason and put on trial in 1948 by the Polish communists and shot. Since 2000, when an account of his life was published in Poland, he has been considered a national hero.
What distinguishes The Volunteer is Fairweather’s meticulous attention to accuracy. He spent five years in the archives in Poland, the UK, the USA, Israel and Germany unearthing more family papers and interviewing the surviving men who had fought with Pilecki. His notes and bibliography run to almost 100 pages, and he uses speculation only very sparingly and when the facts seem irrefutable.
The fascination of his book lies not just in the story of Witold Pilecki and his brave friends, nor in its punctilious chronicle of the information reaching the Allies, but the light it throws on Auschwitz’s early days, before it turned into a mass-killing centre for Europe’s Jews. If it sometimes seems as though there is nothing left to uncover about the Holocaust, Fairweather’s gripping book proves otherwise.
All of this has given us two new terms: “violence apologists” for “righteous mobs.” Violence is now seen as acceptable on the left if you don’t like someone’s political views, and journalists who are not part of the #resistance are fair game. Free speech is so last century. Critics of this idea are now being mocked with the term “civility-fetishizing.”
The fact that studies show that violent protest movements are counterproductive — the silent majority runs to law-and-order policies when people are being punched in the streets — doesn’t seem to matter. As Maria Stephan, a director at the United States Institute of Peace puts it, “Nonviolent movements succeed because they invite mass participation.” They are in fact twice as likely as violent movements to achieve their aims.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re frustrated and that’s why I’m writing. We Jews have an interest in knowing who the real fascists are, so in this one sense, our interests are aligned.
Let’s start with the basics — and I’m sorry to be so blunt. Those black doughy get-ups have to go. The Nazis were nothing if not efficient, and their tidy uniforms told you exactly who they were. Next: the masks. You’re proud to be fascists, right? Own it.
Add in a salute. I’m not saying to copy the Sieg Heil exactly, but the leftist elite clearly needs, to use your language, a punch in the face to finally understand who you are. I would say to also start weaponizing the Holocaust, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) stole your thunder on that one, didn’t she?
Finally, you have to be more upfront regarding your socialist views and how they are a direct tie to the original Nazis. Maybe you need to give leftists a history lesson. I know, it’s hard. We try to do it all the time and they have their fingers stuck in their ears. Nazism = National Socialism. The Nazi Party = the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. This is your lineage.
Look, I make no promises that leftists will finally get it. But the rest of us will then be able to get you classified as the domestic terrorists that you are — and shut down. Completely. And for that, I’m happy to give you some free advice.
As my Jerusalem Post colleague Seth J. Frantzman wrote: “The latest attempt to push the ‘Jesus was Palestinian’ claim is not as innocent as it appears. It is a negation of Jewish history and a modern-day attempt at replacement theology: to replace historical Jewish connections to the land 2,000 years ago, recreating an imagined history of Palestinians in place of Jews.”
I would argue that the connections go back at least another 1,000 years – over three millennia – but Frantzman’s premise (unlike Sarsour’s) is solid. This is an attempt to erase the Bible stories and the thousands of years of Jewish history in which Jerusalem has always been the focus of life, prayers and yearning.
But this is not just about Jewish history. This also, not so subtly, alters Christianity’s context. If Jesus is no longer a Judean Jew but a Palestinian, and the Temple is no longer Jewish, but was somehow a Muslim holy site even centuries before the birth of Mohammad and Islam, where does that leave the New Testament as well as the Bible?
On its website, Palestinian Media Watch has collected many examples of this “Jesus as a Palestinian” theme. Among the best (or worst) comes from the Facebook page of the Palestinian Authority Minister of Education Sabri Saidam, on December 25, 2017, showing a drawing of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns and a keffiyeh next to the words “Made in Palestine” and the greeting “To the authentic Palestinian, Jesus, and to the members of the [Palestinian] people – happy holidays.”
The Fatah Twitter account on December 18, 2018, shows a cartoon of Jesus chasing Donald Trump out of Jerusalem with a whip in a scene, PMW notes, intended to reflect a Christian tradition in which Jesus chases merchants and the money changers from before the Temple. In the background are four bankers standing behind signs with the names: “Citi[bank],” “Wells Fargo,” “JP Morgan Chase,” and “Goldman Sachs.” According to the PMO translation, the text on the caricature says, “Jerusalem is not yours to give to anyone.”
Going back through the collected references I found, courtesy of PMW, that not only was Jesus a Palestinian, he was also a martyr. And, according to a post on the Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi in December 2016, Jesus was not just any old Palestinian shahid, but “the first Palestinian and the first martyr.”
It would be laughable, if this were the sort of matter that could be laughed off. But the more this sort of claim is repeated, the more pervasive the thinking becomes. This is how UNESCO can pass resolutions referring to the Temple Mount and Western Wall only by their Arabic-Islamic names, history be damned.
Sami Awad, a sponsor of the biannual Christ at the Checkpoint conference, once gave a Christmas message where he likened Israeli troops searching for terrorists in Bethlehem with “Herod’s soldiers” who slaughtered the infants of the town two millennia ago.
But it was Edward Said, the tenured Columbia professor and Arafat speechwriter, who first popularized the Palestinian Jesus and then perfected it in poetic cadence. In his 1988 BBC documentary film My Beautiful Old House, the late Said spoke of the Palestinians having to endure “this endless Calvary… this constant crucifixion.”
So to be sure, there is nothing innocent about the Palestinian Jesus. It is a viscous double-edged sword in that it: 1) seeks to rob Jesus of his Jewish heritage as part of the Palestinian disinformation campaign to sever the Jewish link to their ancestral homeland, especially in the eyes of the Christian West, and 2) aims to stir up hostility toward the Jewish people by exploiting classic Christian antisemitic motifs, most notably that the collective Jews of Israel are still crucifying the real people of Jesus in the land – the Palestinians.
This falsehood is extra devious in that most Palestinians know the Jewish people are reticent to claim Jesus as one of their own, due to all the Christian atrocities committed against them in his name. Yet if there is one positive coming out of this latest tussle over the Palestinian Jesus, it is that more and more Jews are beginning to reclaim Jesus as a son of Israel.
This modern-day trend started with Jewish scholars such as Martin Buber, who always spoke of Jesus as his “elder brother,” and Prof. David Flusser, who viewed him as his favorite “rabbi.” Now we can add the son of Israel’s prime minister to that list.
US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) condemned the House Foreign Affairs Committee for considering a resolution condemning the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The resolution seeks “to silence opposition of Israel’s blatantly racist policies that demonize both Palestinians & Ethiopians. Our 1st Amd. right to free speech allows boycott of inhumane policies. This bill is unconstitutional,” tweeted the freshman congresswoman.
The resolution currently has 336 co-sponsors. It was introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
Tlaib is not on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unlike fellow freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota. They both support BDS, which “is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” according to the movement’s website.
Republican lawmakers criticized Tlaib’s stance.
“This is a 100% false characterization of the bill. It doesn’t ban the #BDS movement. All it does it protect states & local governments that decide not to give contracts to companies participating in that anti-Semitic movement,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) July 11, 2019
A petition from dozens of organizations large and small has been sent to the chancellor of California State University system protesting a professor’s use of a department’s official Facebook page to spread anti-Israel propaganda.
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi — the director and senior scholar at the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies (AMED) department at San Francisco State University (SFSU) — posted an image of a large banner saying, “Zionism = Racism,” and, “Boycott! Divest! Sanction!”
This is not the first time Abdulhadi has exploited the Facebook page to spread such sentiments. Last year, she wrote a lengthy letter bashing Zionism, Jewish students and the Jewish campus organization Hillel after President Leslie E. Wong said, “Zionists are welcome on our campus.”
In a response notable for its vehemence, Abdulhadi posted, “I consider the statement below from President Wong, welcoming Zionists to campus, equating Jewishness with Zionism, and giving Hillel ownership of campus Jewishness, to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians and all those who are committed to an indivisible sense of justice on and off campus.”
She signed the statement with her official titles, all of which cited her positions of authority at SFSU.
Despite a complaint from pro-Israel and Jewish advocacy groups, the post was never taken down.
Williams College has reached a resolution agreement with the US Department of Education in lieu of an investigation over the student government rejecting a new pro-Israel group, Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI), in an anonymous vote in April.
The college administration overrode the student government’s rejection of WIFI the following month.
“This Agreement contains no findings of fact, does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the College, and does not represent a determination by OCR that the college has violated Title VI or its implementing regulations or otherwise engaged in any discriminatory conduct,” stated the agreement, obtained by JNS.
The Massachusetts school pledged that WIFI will be “afforded the same rights and privileges as registered student groups approved by the College Council,” and that it will treat the student organization “in a nondiscriminatory manner” in that the student government evaluates “WIFI requests for and provide financial assistance and other benefits” as such.
The school must submit documentation to demonstrate that it is complying with the “same rights and privileges” clause by Nov. 1, and subsequently do so in 2020 by Feb. 1, June 1 and Nov. 1.
By June 1, 2020, Williams must submit documentation showing that it is complying with the clause that the student government evaluates WIFI financial assistance and other requests in a nondiscriminatory manner.
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) July 12, 2019
— Ozraeli Dave (((דיויד לנג))) (@Israellycool) July 12, 2019
— Ozraeli Dave (((דיויד לנג))) (@Israellycool) July 12, 2019
A bill to ensure the right of Californians bill to hang mezuzahs on their door frames is moving through the state legislature, and is on its way to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom.
SB 652 bars landlords and condo associations from prohibiting “the display of religious items” of a certain size on doors and door frames. Known to some as the “mezuzah bill” — though it also has the support of secular organizations, as well as Catholic and Hindu groups — the bill follows complaints from Jewish renters and condo owners who were told to remove their mezuzahs because of a building or apartment complex policy.
The bill is sailing through the statehouse in Sacramento, where it passed the Assembly 72-0 on July 8 after being approved by the Senate on May 6.
The bill has the strong backing of the Anti-Defamation League, which last month sent a letter of support to the chair of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mark Stone.
“For millennia, Jews have posted mezuzahs on the entry doorframes of their homes in fulfillment of a religious obligation rooted in the Torah,” states the letter, signed by the ADL’s San Francisco-based state legislative director, Nancy Appel.
“Posting a mezuzah is not a decorative choice for Jews,” Appel wrote, “or indeed a choice of any kind.”
Too late. I control the banks. https://t.co/bJNJqWh0fw
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 12, 2019
French comedian Dieudonné is an avowed antisemite and anti-Zionist. Yet until recently, many in France across the political spectrum have laughed with him for depicting Israelis as Nazis, embracing Holocaust deniers, and extolling the Iranian regime. He invented an inverted Hitler salute — “the quenelle” — extremely popular among soccer fans and on the internet. He has also cheered on terrorist attacks in Israel, Europe and the US.
Dieudonné’s popularity reflects the potency in France of Jew-hatred — and hatred of America — especially among Arab immigrants and their children.
France and the US have been “frenemies” since the 18th century. Louis XVI’s diplomatic and military support was vital to Americans winning their independence. Yet French Enlightenment scientists looked down on America. America’s repressive Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were aimed at French immigrants. In the 1830s, French observer Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, warning Europe against importing the US’ “tyranny of the majority.”
Notwithstanding the French gift of the Statue of Liberty and our two nations fighting side-by-side in World War I, the French after that war coined the term “anti-American” to rally their country against the dangerous influence of Henry Ford’s assembly line, Hollywood movies and jazz music, and the American “melting pot.” During the 1930s, influential trans-Atlantic critic André Siegfried wrote that that “crypto-Communists and spies” had “crept in” among refugees from Hitler to the US, making “the Jewish Problem acute.”
Then, after World War II, the French waged a cultural resistance movement against Coca Cola and McDonald’s. They feared that “the American language” and “American globalization” were corrupting French culture.
Yet, post-1945, French intellectuals — especially on the left — deplored antisemitism and supported Israel. This began to change with President De Gaulle’s tilt toward the Arabs in the 1967 war. Then came the great explosion in both anti-Americanism and antisemitism after the 9/11 attacks and 2003’s Iraq War, which was often blamed on Israel and Jews.
The French National Assembly cast its attention back to the four-year Nazi German occupation during World War II on Thursday, as the legislative body honored the 80 parliamentarians who, at enormous risk to themselves, voted against granting full powers to the puppet regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain in July 1940.
National Assembly President Richard Ferrand hailed the “bold spirit” of the group who became known as the “Vichy 80.”
The parliamentarians had demonstrated “a clear and unequivocal refusal to compromise, to submit” to Pétain and his German masters, Ferrand said.
On July 10, 1940, the 80 liberal and left-wing parliamentarians — led by Léon Blum, the Jewish socialist former prime minister who remained in France after the Nazi invasion and was later imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp — voted against the the constitutional change that replaced the Third Republic with Pétain’s authoritarian regime based in the city of Vichy.
The group’s courage was best symbolized by the fact that 569 of their parliamentary colleagues voted in favor of granting full powers to Pétain. Although the promised new constitution was never delivered, the adoption of dictatorial powers by Pétain enabled the swift passage of anti-Jewish laws that mirrored the racist laws imposed by the Nazis on Germany’s Jewish community. Between the “Jewish Statute” of Oct. 1940 and the defeat of the Nazi occupation in 1944, Pétain’s regime deported nearly 76,000 of France’s 350,000 Jews to Nazi concentration camps.
Israeli Family Wins Premier French Dairy Contest
A small Israeli family farm brought home two medals at the World Cheese Competition in France — beating the French at their own game, on their own turf. Our Alec Pollard reports.
Mariano Rivera: I Want to Understand All About Israel
He was once one of the most dominant closers in the game of Major League Baseball, but he’s now content with his illustrious career being over and is focused on living life and supporting Israel through Christian initivates. Our Michelle Makori spoke with the legendary New York Yankee.
Lucette Matalon Lagnado, a Wall Street Journal reporter whose 2007 memoir of her Egyptian-Jewish family won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, has died. She was 63.
The Jewish Book Council, which awarded the prize for “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit,” did not specify a cause in announcing her death.
Described as “stunning” by Michiko Kakutani in a New York Times review, Lagnado’s memoir recalls the lost, cosmopolitan world of Cairo’s Jewish community before and after World War II and her high-living father, a prosperous clothier. She would later devote another memoir, “The Arrogant Years,” to her mother’s story.
After leaving Egypt in the turmoil that followed the rise of the dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser, the family eventually moved to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Lagnado graduated from Vassar College and started her reporting career at a community paper in Brooklyn. She served an internship with the investigative reporter Jack Anderson, as a columnist for the Village Voice and as executive editor at the English-language Forward newspaper.
A story she worked on about Dr. Josef Mengele helped rekindle global interest in his macabre experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp and the search for justice for his victims. That was also the subject of “Children of the Flames,” her 1991 nonfiction book with Sheila Cohn Dekel.
Today, the story of the Jewish educator and children’s author Janusz Korczak (né Henryk Goldszmit), the founder and director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw before and during World War II, is well-known in Poland, especially after it was recounted in a 1990 film. Korczak, having turned down offers to escape the Warsaw Ghetto, remained with his charges and was sent along with them to Treblinka to be murdered in 1942. Far less well-known is the very similar story of Rabbi Dawid Alter Kurzmann of Krakow, but he is now getting some much-deserved recognition, Ofer Aderet writes. (Free registration may be required.)
[Rabbi Kurzmann’s] grandson, Marcel Kurzmann, an eighty-three-year-old resident of the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon Letzion, has been working in recent years to gain recognition for the grandfather he never met. Marcel has had the assistance of his own grandson, Elad Furman, whose efforts helped get a street in Rishon Letzion named after Rabbi Kurzmann. This year a street in Krakow will also bear his name.
The rabbi’s descendants don’t know a lot about him. It’s known that he was born in 1865 in the city of Rzeszow to the east and grew up in Krakow. He made a living running a trading house for iron and other metal. He was also among the founders of the international ultra-Orthodox movement Agudath Israel, and of Ḥakhmey Lublin, a leading yeshiva in the city of Lublin to the northeast.
As president of the Dietla Street orphanage, he started to help run it on a day-to-day basis in 1918 and in practice served as its director. The orphans there referred to him as their father. He continued to run the facility after the Germans occupied Poland in September 1939, though the Nazis made the orphanage relocate to more crowded quarters inside the Krakow Ghetto.
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