January 29, 2020

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12/04 Links Pt2: Ruthie Blum: ‘Why do they hate us?’; Indy op-ed suggests Jews cry antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel; The disturbing truth is that the British far-left is now awash with anti-Semites


From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: ‘Why do they hate us?’
Those familiar with the history of the Holocaust would not be surprised by Wistrich’s description, but they might be startled by his depiction of Europe at the time of the interview, which took place more than a decade ago.

Europeans, he said, “are reluctant to accept and admit that, despite all the Holocaust education and commemoration that’s taking place – and all the solemn declarations about having thoroughly learned the lessons of the past – anti-Semitism has returned in such strength.”

He went on to recount the shock expressed by non-Jewish British lawmakers at testimony he gave before an inter-parliamentary committee in the UK. “I don’t recognize the country you’re talking about,” one of them said to him when he was done. Others claimed to be “aghast” at what they’d learned.

In all the years that have passed since then, the plight of Jews in Britain has deteriorated, not improved, thanks in large measure to the legitimacy that Corbyn’s Labour has given to anti-Semitism.

Indeed, it is the mainstreaming of the phenomenon that should be cause for such concern, and not only among Jews, whose negligible number, at 300,000, makes up a minuscule minority of the total UK population, which is approximately 66 million.

Britain beware: Anti-Semitism is and always has been a “canary in the coal mine,” boding deathly ill for any society that embraces it.

Indy op-ed suggests Jews cry antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel

However, Zizek, who’s previously expressed his support for a one-state solution, uses this convoluted logic to advance another calumny – that Jews don’t in fact have “roots” in the land.
However, the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.

In addition to the insidious “trouble with Jews today” line, the claim is grotesquely misleading, as Jews’ uninterrupted presence in the land “for thousands of years” is a historical fact, not Zionist propaganda. He also seems to be accepting the ahistorical claims by Palestinians that they were the original inhabitants.

Zizek then revisits and further expounds upon his previous canard: that Jews and/or Israelis cynically use the charge of antisemitism, and memories of the Holocaust, to silence legitimate criticism of Israel:
Today, the charge of antisemitism is more and more addressed at anyone who deviates from the acceptable left-liberal establishment towards a more radical left–can one imagine a more repellent and cynical manipulation of the Holocaust? When protests against the Israel Defense Forces’ activities in the West Bank are denounced as an expression of antisemitism, and (implicitly, at least) put in the same line as Holocaust deniers–that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations–it is not enough to insist on the difference between antisemitism and the critique of particular measures of the State of Israel. One should go a step further and claim that it is the State of Israel that, in this case, is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims, ruthlessly using them as an instrument to legitimise present political measures.

The truth is that the only time that anti-Israel demonstrators are accused of antisemitism is when they espouse antisemitic tropes (per the IHRA definition), or threaten Jews with violence, in the service of their cause.

The writings of Slavoj Žižek, an admirer of Lenin and foe of liberal democracy who who attributed the attacks of 9/11 to the “antagonisms of global capitalism”, have all the markings of a socialist revolutionary intellectual trying desperately to stay relevant in an age which has rejected such historically lethal ideologies.

Unsurprisingly, the Corbyn-Milne brand of neo-Marxist politics he embraces also seems intent on at least trying to hide one central component of his core beliefs – an innate hostility to Jews and Israel.

UK Op-Ed: ‘The Trouble With Jews Today’

Attacking Britain’s Chief Rabbi

Zizek calls into question the morality of the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, whose op-ed drew widespread attention.
Without mentioning Corbyn by name, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis recently wrote in an article for the Times that “a new poison–sanctioned from the top–has taken root in the Labour Party.” He conceded: “It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote,” though went on to add: “When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.” I find this presentation of a political choice as a purely moral one ethically disgusting–it reminds me of how, decades ago, the Catholic Church in Italy did not explicitly order citizens to vote for Christian Democracy, but just said that they should vote for a party which is Christian and democratic.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis called on all people of good moral standing to consider the issue of antisemitism in how they vote. Zizek’s criticism is similar to the belief of many Corbyn supporters that the antisemitism issue is merely a bad faith smear used by political enemies to damage the Labour party.

Having claimed that antisemitism is deployed in bad faith, Zizek goes even further by claiming the same principle concerning the Holocaust:
When protests against the Israel Defense Forces’ activities in the West Bank are denounced as an expression of antisemitism, and (implicitly, at least) put in the same line as Holocaust deniers–that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations–it is not enough to insist on the difference between antisemitism and the critique of particular measures of the State of Israel. One should go a step further and claim that it is the State of Israel that, in this case, is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims, ruthlessly using them as an instrument to legitimise present political measures.

This is an appalling insult.

The disturbing truth is that the British far-left is now awash with anti-Semites

Over the years I’ve often myopically associated anti-Semitism with the far-right or Islamist extremists who harbour a special antipathy for Jews. But a new report, Antisemitism Barometer 2019, suggests Jew hatred in Britain is more prevalent amongst the far-left when compared to the far-right. Perhaps this should all come as little surprise, given Corbyn’s Labour is currently under investigation for allegations of anti-Semitism by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). No doubt it’s an uncomfortable truth for Labour moderates to countenance, especially when the only other party to have been investigated by the EHRC is the BNP, which was forced to change their white only membership policy. This isn’t a good look for Labour in the run up to the general election.

The report comes in the wake of the chief rabbi’s unprecedented intervention over Labour’s perceived anti-Semitism and is based on a Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) commissioned YouGov survey of the British population’s attitudes towards Jews in 2018 and 2019. The survey was designed and analysed by academic Dr Daniel Allington from King’s College London and the polling conducted prior to the general election being called. The foreword by CAA’s Chief Executive, Gideon Falter, states ‘Britain stands at a crossroads. This tolerant nation which has long been among the best places in the world in which to live as a Jew is being poisoned by antisemitism, and British Jews are considering leaving the country on a scale unprecedented since mediaeval times.’ You don’t have to be a Jew to fathom the gravity of this statement – after all, history has taught us Jews are often the canary in the coal mine – others soon follow.

The survey results paint an ugly picture, with around 40 per cent of British Jews considering leaving the UK – the majority citing anti-Semitism in politics – and many of them mentioning Corbyn or his party as a reason for doing so. The poll showed that 35 per cent of those who ‘strongly like’ the Labour leader agreed with four or more statements deemed to be anti-Semitic, while 58 per cent of the same cohort holding two or more anti-Semitic views. The results indicate Corbyn’s supporters are more likely to be anti-Semitic compared to supporters of other party leaders. The report states, ‘The leader of the once fiercely anti-racist Labour party is now the candidate of choice for anti-Jewish racists, and 84 per cent of British Jews feel that he is a threat specifically to Jews.’ Legitimate criticism of the government of Israel or India doesn’t make you anti-Jew or anti-Hindu, however the majority of those surveyed said they had witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as a political comment about Israel or Zionism. I guess it doesn’t help matters when Hamas praise Corbyn, or that now famous reference to them and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.

Col. Richard Kemp: Jeremy Corbyn’s warped judgement would endanger our national security

Imagine being the policeman who pulls the trigger in the grainy video of the attack at London Bridge on Friday. A man stabbed several people but is being constrained by passers-by and police. You think maybe he can be stopped with non-lethal force, always the priority. Then you see his suicide vest. The lives of all the people around him are suddenly in your hands. You have a split second to decide on life or death on the streets of the capital. As you aim and squeeze you have to know you will be supported — from the very top.

The most effective way to deal with a suicide bomber is shoot him in the head, stopping his brain to prevent him pressing the switch that detonates his explosives. I devised and implemented these procedures for British forces when they first met this specific threat, at around the time the police introduced Operation Kratos, their equivalent. It is a shoot-to-kill policy.

Jeremy Corbyn described the killing of the architect of history’s most devastating suicide attack, Osama Bin Laden, as ‘a tragedy’. He has equivocated over the elimination of Islamic State leader al Baghdadi, implying he could have been arrested rather than killed by US special forces.

He expressed the same reservations over the killing of British Islamic State jihadists Mohammed Emwazi and Sally-Anne Jones who he said should have been arrested rather than killed.

All this betrays his prioritisation of the human rights of our enemies above those of their innocent victims. It shows dangerous naivety in a man who wants to take over responsibility for national security.

UK Jewish Groups Skeptical After Labour’s Corbyn Says ‘Sorry’ for ‘Everything That Has Happened’ Regarding Antisemitism

A spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS) said, “Jeremy Corbyn’s grudging apology, when it finally arrived today, was an inadequate response to widespread concerns that the Labour party he is leading is institutionally antisemitic. We wonder how he can claim to be ‘dealing with’ evidence of anti-Jewish racism in his organization while so many of the Labour Party’s candidates have been alleged to have made or promoted antisemitic views and comments. If he cares about discrimination against the British Jewish community, then why were Jews entirely left out of a Labour video about tackling racism?”

“Mr. Corbyn has had four years to deal with this crisis, and the reality is he has failed to do so,” the spokesperson added. “Any apology he offers will be rejected until he implements a zero-tolerance policy on tackling antisemitism, and there is currently zero evidence of him doing that.”

Earlier this year, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission launched a formal probe into Labour, making it only the second British political body to be formerly investigated for racism by the commission.

Over a dozen MPs have quit the party in the past year, citing its antisemitism problem as a reason.

Nearly half of British Jews say they would “seriously consider” leaving their country should Corbyn become prime minister following the Dec. 12 general elections.

Former Labour MP Ivan Lewis Says Back Boris

‘Leading campaigner against racism’ disgracefully quits Church of England body because Archbishop stood up to anti-Jewish racism

An academic described as a ‘leading campaigner against racism’ has resigned from a Church of England advisory body in protest at the intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in support of the Chief Rabbi’s editorial warning that Jeremy Corbyn is “unfit for office” and that “the very soul of our nation is at stake,” as antisemitic crime and antisemitism in public life reach record levels.

The Archbishop issued a statement following the publication of the Chief Rabbi’s article warning that there is a “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.” Stating that “None of us can afford to be complacent,” the Archbishop made a thinly veiled attack on those who continually deplore antisemitism whilst doing nothing against it, writing: “Voicing words that commit to a stand against antisemitism requires a corresponding effort in visible action.”

However, Gus John has now resigned his role on the advisory body saying: “As a matter of principle, I cannot continue to work with the Anglican church … after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s disgraceful endorsement of the Chief Rabbi’s unjust condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn and the entire Labour party,” adding that the Chief Rabbi’s criticisms were received “as if he were the pope, speaking for all British Jews as the pope would for all Roman Catholics. Secular Jews and those who do not hold with the views of Jews for Labour are considered not to matter.” Mr John proceeded to note issues of discrimination against minorities within the Church.

It is regrettable that Mr John sees combating antisemitism as somehow mutually exclusive with fighting for equal rights for all minorities.

About Linda

Arab Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state saw its roots under Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who consistently rejected any solution in the 1930’s and 40’s. Arab and Palestinian leaderships were given seven opportunities, since then, in sharing the land with the Jews.

Between two of those offers, a second intifada was launched and 1400 Israelis were killed. The second Intifada was vastly different from the first. While the first had the aim of shaking off Israeli rule, it was clear that the aim of the second Intifada was to murder Israelis en mass. To destroy Israel, not to end occupation in all of Palestine. You can say this was the only consistency in Palestinian politics.

Since the birth of Israel, close to 4,000 Israelis were killed due to Palestinian terror attacks. Around 2,000 Palestinians were also killed by Palestinians. 850,000 Jews had to flee North African and Middle Eastern nations as a result of escalation of maltreatment of Jews. Palestinian hatred of Zionism and Muslim antisemitism is not something that will vanish simply by leaving the West Bank.

Linda Sarsour provides a daily reminder of the broken discourse and its present danger. Her reference to Jews as supremacist, her revile of Zionism and Israelis, her positioning of Jews as white European colonial force out there to get her and harm her people, her reference to “Jewish Media”, are all too familiar statements one often gets to hear from the likes of David Duke. Somehow, the magical hijab allows these statements to be filtered and appear progressive and veiled as justice. She does it all without once providing any historical reference, any critique on the Palestinian leadership who wish to annihilate the Jewish state from the river to the sea. A group of Holocaust denying, terror inflicting, human rights violating, thugs gets a permanent pass from sister Linda as a nation that has their own constitution with Arabic as an official language, Islam as their religion, and Sharia as their basis of laws. But heaven forbids a Jewish nation with 25 percent of its population being none Jews, dares to maintain a Jewish character in a region where fifty nations are Muslim majority nations. To Linda, that is supremacy.

Linda Sarsour supports a one state solution where Jews will once again become a minority in a Muslim majority nation. This is a wink a nudge to your average Jew hater. For a person who claims they dedicate their lives for the advancement and protection of human rights, she fails to denote what will be the faith of women, Jews, Christians, LGBT, and other minorities in said new Muslim nation of Palestine. She brazenly states it will be a liberal, equal rights for all, kind of Palestine. Where she managed to imagine this utopia, one will never know. Linda Sarsour has provided us with ample examples of her dishonest and hateful character. It boggles the mind that a Jewish presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, hires this woman for a second time to be his surrogate after being exposed as the fraud and antisemite that she is. This is not about Israel and its policies or history, this is about Jew hatred that is no different from that of the far right.

Linda Sarsour walks back anti-Israel comments (sort of)

Pro-Palestinian activist and former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour found herself once again in hot water with Jews over her controversial comments regarding Israel made at a conference over the weekend.

Speaking at the American Muslims for Palestine conference last week, Sarsour asserted that the very idea of Israel is based on white supremacy.

“How can you be against white supremacy in America and the idea of being in a state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is based on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else?” she told the audience.

After receiving widespread pushback over her comments, Sarsour took to Twitter on Tuesday to clarify the meaning behind her incendiary words.

In a lengthy thread, she wrote that her comments required “context” and that she wasn’t referring to the Jewish people, rather the nation-state bill which Israel passed last year. That bill enacted a new Basic Law which states that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.

“I was specifically referring to the racist argument at the heart of the nation-state law recently passed by the Israeli government – not the Jewish people. I apologize for the confusion,” she wrote.

Why Israel isn’t a top consideration for American Jewish voters

It’s the perennial anomaly of Jewish voter surveys: Vast majorities feel an attachment to Israel, but relatively few are thinking about the Jewish state when they cast their vote.

On the day of last year’s midterm congressional elections, J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, asked Jewish voters to name their two most important issues. Just 4 percent chose Israel. The same survey found that 65 percent said they were somewhat or very emotionally attached to Israel.

The J Street survey is not an outlier. The American Jewish Committee, a foreign policy and civil rights group, found a similar discrepancy in its 2015 poll, in which barely a quarter of respondents listed Israel as one of their top three issues, though more than 70 percent agreed strongly or somewhat that caring about Israel is “a very important part” of being Jewish.

What accounts for the difference?

Like most American voters, Jewish Americans tend to care about issues that directly affect them more than what’s going on in a country an ocean away.

The J Street survey found that 43 percent of Jewish Americans listed health care as one of their top two issues in 2018, a time when President Donald Trump was attempting to dismantle health care protections passed under President Barack Obama. In 2015, the AJC survey found that 41.7 percent of U.S. Jews listed the economy as one of their top concerns amid the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

“When pollsters prod Americans about their foreign policy views, the results are clear: they want the government to focus less on the rest of the world,” Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, has written. “Short of a war or other violent attacks on American installations, foreign policy rarely takes center stage during presidential elections. Presidential candidates almost always campaign on how they intend to jump-start the economy.”

In a hyperpolarized political environment, policy particulars tend to matter less than which side a politician is on, according to Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political newsletter and election handicapper, at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Thus Jews are likelier to vote for their favored party than they are to consider the specifics of Israel policy.

Rashida Tlaib equates Mexican border with Gaza

While many on the Left have compared the US practices along the Mexican border as being reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) went with another controversial comparison – Gaza.

“Do you know what I saw at the border? I saw Gaza,” said Tlaib on Saturday during the American Muslims for Palestine conference in Chicago, as reported by the Jewish News Syndicate. “When you think about the border, you have to got to understand how interconnected the oppression in Palestine is with the oppression taking place at the border.”

She also referenced the issue of clean water in Michigan, and said she would fight for clean water there like she would fight “for clean water in Gaza.”

This was far from the only controversial comment about Israel made at the event. At the same conference, Linda Sarsour – former head of the Woman’s March and current surrogate for US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – stated that supporting Israel is akin to supporting white supremacist ideologies and movements. And, like Tlaib, she also equated the situation in Gaza to the US-Mexican border.

“Ask those who call themselves progressive Zionists to explain to you how can they be against the separation of children on the US-Mexican border?” She asked rhetorically at the conference. “How can they be against building a wall between us and Mexico? How can they be against agencies like ICE–Immigration Customs Enforcement?”

JPost Editorial: Campus craziness

At a gathering in Pittsburgh last week on the subject of antisemitism on campuses, attended by 300 Jewish student leaders from 90 universities across the US, those incidents and much more were the topic of discussion and of alarm.

As The Jerusalem Post’s David Brinn reported on Friday, Pittsburgh wasn’t a random choice for the conference’s location. Only a month earlier, the city marked the first anniversary of the Tree of Life Congregation massacre, the wort attack on Jews in American history.

A major focus of the conference was learning to stand up to and combat antisemitism, but also to learn how to identify antisemitism masqueraded as anti-Israel stances.

“The zeitgeist out there [on campuses] is that in order to be progressive, you must be anti-Israel,” said Dr. Rachel Fish, founding executive director of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, the organization founded by New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft. “We’re not talking about being pro-Palestinians, because I’m pro-Palestinian, too.”

Celebrated professor and author Deborah Lipstadt added that being critical of Israel is not antisemitism. “But it crosses over when you are against the existence of the state,” she said. “It’s antisemitism when there’s a myopic view that’s focused only on Israel.”

Unfortunately, that is what is happening more and more frequently on campuses – an ugly phenomenon that’s traumatizing students and putting them in physical danger. Classic antisemitism has been clandestinely replaced by virulent anti-Israel activity that thinly veils the animosity and hatred toward Jews lying just below the surface.

If you want to eat kosher food or decide to visit Israel, you’re in danger of being singled out, marginalized and attacked. There’s nothing kosher about that. In fact, it’s downright treif.

Alexander Joffe: Professors Continue to Advocate for BDS on Campus

BDS activities on campus in November included a number of events sponsored by academic units. Among the most notable was a conference by the “University of Massachusetts Resistance Studies Initiative” at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, dedicated to BDS and its purported ‘silencing.’ In anticipation of the event, the university chancellor condemned the BDS movement, which predictably prompted protests from the faculty.

A stealthier example of faculty supporting BDS was seen at Indiana University, where the Center for Middle East Studies used antisemitic images by the cartoonist Latuff on a flyer for a BDS event. The center’s director issued an apology and claimed he had not seen the flyer before it was distributed.

Another incident saw Boston University considering hiring a BDS supporter who had stated “rape and killing of Palestinian women was a central aspect of Israeli troops’ systematic massacres and evictions during the destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948.” After an uproar that pointed out her overt anti-Israel bias, the hire by the Sociology department was thwarted, but reports indicate she was still being considered for a position by the Women’s Studies program.

In another example that demonstrated how academics use their institutions to support BDS, New York University’s ‘Department of Social and Cultural Analysis’ hosted a leading BDS proponent but then refused a student request for a pro-Israel speaker. This incident is in addition to numerous individual academics, such as Columbia’s Joseph Massad, who routinely endorse violence as “ongoing Palestinian resistance to Israeli settler colonialism and racism.”

The extent to which faculty have assumed leadership of BDS was also seen in the Middle East Studies Association’s (MESA) awarding the keynote address at its annual meeting to Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill. Best known for his anti-Israel animus, Hill is not a Middle East studies scholar. Reports indicate Hill shouted at the audience that the ‘cause of Palestine’ was more important than their careers and organizations. To compound the matter, MESA also released a statement purporting to be about academic freedom, but which was a defense of the BDS movement.

McGill, York, U Toronto heads: Take back control of your universities!

Each of your respective institutions has codes of conduct which proscribe the behavior of these campus extremists, and which should be strenuously enforced when violated. York’s Community Standards for Student Conduct, for example, “prohibits: disruption of, or interference with, University activities, such as: causing a substantial disorder . . ; creating dangerous situations (intentional or not); making or causing excessive noise; disrupting classes, events or examinations . . ; [and] blocking exit routes,” and by punishing students when they violate these regulations, the university is punishing behavior, not speech.

These policies have to be clearly articulated to entering students at orientation and re-stressed every year thereafter. And when student organizations are recognized on campus, they have to be made aware that if they violate any of the university’s codes of conduct and participate in the disruption of school activities, they will be punished, including being suspended and de-funded. And all students have to realize that academic free speech gives them license to express whatever ideas they have and not be punished for expressing them; what it does not do is insulate them, once they have expressed themselves, from counter speech from others with opposing views, and they should expect that competing ideas will present themselves, and they must be heard without interference or suppression.

When members of the academic community ignore those values and violate regulations, there have to be swift and significant consequences, and these sanctions must be publicized in advance of any event. Students should not and cannot be allowed to take over a campus and hijack the robust exchange of ideas—even if they think they have the best intentions and are promoting what they believe is a virtuous, progressive agenda.

“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education,” observed the champion of free speech, Justice Louis D. Brandeis, “the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

McGill board rejects motion for Jewish student to cancel Israel trip or resign

The student union of Canada’s McGill University has not ratified a call for a Jewish student to resign for accepting a free trip to Israel and the West Bank.

The Students’ Society McGill University’s (SSMU) board of directors – the union’s chief governing body – on Monday rejected a motion passed days earlier by its legislative council that said fellow councilor Jordyn Wright must resign from the SSMU or face impeachment.

The motion was condemned as discriminatory and anti-Semitic by Wright and an array of others.

They included McGill’s own administration, the Anti-Defamation League, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and hundreds of McGill students.

Wright was the only McGill student, and the sole Jewish participant, singled out to resign. At least one other, non-Jewish student from McGill and its student union is attending the trip.

Canadian Jewish Groups Hail McGill University’s Backing of Student Targeted Over Israel Trip

Canadian Jewish groups have welcomed McGill University’s decision to stand by a student who was targeted over her intention to participate in a free trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories offered by the school’s Hillel chapter.

The Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted to remove second-year science student Jordyn Wright from her position on the school’s Legislative Council unless she backed out of the trip.

The SSMU solely targeted Wright, who is Jewish, despite the fact that a non-Jewish student representative was also planning to go on the trip.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), called what happened to Wright “blatant antisemitism,” and urged the McGill administration to prevent Wright from being forced to choose between “participating in a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories and participating in student government.”

In response to outrage from the Jewish community and beyond, the deputy provost of student life and learning at McGill sent out an email on Monday rejecting the motion against Wright and characterizing SSMU’s behavior as “discriminatory.”

“While diversity of opinion is fundamental and should be respected at all times, polarization that reaches a point where it fosters a culture of ostracization, or when our students do not feel respected on our campuses because of their identity, religious and political beliefs, will not be tolerated,” wrote Fabrice Labeau.

Labeau also said the vote diverged from “SSMU’s own Constitution” and represented “a very serious breach of trust.”

Hillel Montreal applauded the statement on Facebook and slammed SSMU for “trying to deny these students the ability to exercise their personal and academic freedom.”

UMass Chancellor Applauded Over BDS Criticism, University President Urged to Act

The president of the University of Massachusetts system is being urged to condemn academic boycotts of Israeli universities, after the chancellor of the Amherst campus faced criticism for acknowledging that such boycotts damage academic freedom.

In a letter sent to President Martin Meehan last month, the heads of the Academic Engagement Network and the AMCHA Initiative — both of which oppose the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign in academia — applauded Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy of UMass Amherst for an October 21 statement condemning a “one-dimensional” and “polarizing” BDS panel that was set to take place on campus on November 12.

The event, which came on the heels of another major pro-BDS panel on the Amherst campus in May, exclusively featured supporters of the BDS campaign, which has been criticized by Jewish groups worldwide for denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and advancing antisemitic tropes. Among the participants was BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, who has rejected the notion that Jewish people have a right to self-determination by claiming that they are not a nation, as well as activist Linda Sarsour, who has spoken at a rally hosted by antisemitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and recently claimed that Israel “is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else.”

The lack of ideological diversity on the panel, Subbaswamy noted at the time, would do “little to increase the understanding of such a complex topic like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Furthermore, because the BDS position in general fails to acknowledge the humanity on the Israeli side of the conflict and is considered by many as anti-Semitic, the upcoming event could very well alienate many of our Jewish students and other members of our campus community,” the chancellor added.

UNC agrees to make changes after ‘anti-Semitic’ rapper controversy

The University of North Carolina and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights reached an agreement to settle a complaint filed against the university for hosting a rapper some said uttered anti-Semitic lyrics.

Rep. George Holding sent a letter in April to Secretary Betsy DeVos calling for an investigation to be opened after the Department of Education partially funded a “Conflict over Gaza” conference, featuring a rapper that some deemed as anti-Semitic.
“neither spewing antisemitism nor engaging in harassment of Jewish students will be tolerated”

“Let’s try it together. I need your help. I cannot be anti-Semitic alone,” Nafar said before singing, “don’t think of Rihanna when you sing this, don’t think of Beyonce – think of Mel Gibson. I’m in love with a Jew/Oh/I fell in love with a Jew/Oh/Her skin is white and my skin is brown, she was going up, up and I was going down, ”rapper Tamer Nafar sang at the conference.

According to The Daily Tar Heel, a university-wide email was sent out to the campus community going over what UNC and the OCR agreement contained. The email said that UNC will issue a statement reiterating their commitment to having a harassment-free environment, “ including but not limited to anti-Semitic harassment.”

UNC will now include a statement in their discrimination policy as well, which states that harassment based on ethnicity or perceived ancestry, and must describe ways in which anti-Semitism manifests at UNC.

The actions taken by UNC must also be “consistent with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” according to the report.

UK Jewish Groups Welcome University of Bristol’s Adoption International Antisemitism Definition

The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”

Amanda Bowman — vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — expressed a similar sentiment, calling the IHRA definition “a useful yardstick to determine whether specific actions are or are not antisemitic.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson stated, “The University of Bristol has adopted in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.”

“We will also start to consult on the adoption of additional definitions relating to other minority groups that may also feel vulnerable to discrimination and hatred,” the spokesperson added. “All such definitions will be applied by the university in a manner which his consistent with our legally-binding commitments to freedom of speech and to the rights of all students and staff to discuss difficult and sensitive topics, provided that this right is exercised responsibly, within the law, and with respect for others who may have differing views.”

“We take this opportunity to restate that there is no place for any racism, bullying or discrimination at the University of Bristol and that this should be a place where all feel safe, welcomed and respected, of gender, gender identity, religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, age or social background” the spokesperson concluded.

Israeli Flag Forcibly Removed From Display at Columbus State Community College

An Israeli flag was recently forcibly removed from an international flag display at Columbus State Community College (CSCC) in Columbus, Ohio, according to video footage shared on social media.

The clip, published on Twitter on Nov. 30, shows CSCC student Malek Mustafa, who has an anti-Israel history and has minimized Hamas terrorism, cut down the Israeli flag from the display.

Out of 26,935 students at the school, there are only five Jewish students, according to Hillel International.

“Columbus State has confirmed a recent incident in which a miniature Israeli flag was forcibly removed from an international flag display on college property. An investigation is underway,” tweeted the school on Nov. 30.

‘Game of Thrones’ star nixes Belgium appearance over anti-Semitic carnival float

Carice van Houten, a Dutch actress known for her role in the hit series “Game of Thrones,” has canceled a television appearance in Belgium over the use of caricatures of Jews at a parade there.

Van Houten, who portrayed Melisandre in the TV series, and her associate, Halina Reijn, who is married to a Jewish soccer player, both pulled out of the panel of the talk show, “The Appointment,” after learning that it would host Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, who has insisted on the legitimacy of caricaturing Jews at his city’s iconic annual carnival.

In March, the carnival featured a float with effigies of grinning Jews holding money, one carrying a rat on its shoulder. The float received widespread condemnation, including by Belgium’s UNIA watchdog on racism, which called it anti-Semitic.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned the display as “racist and anti-Semitic,” and scheduled a vote on whether to remove Aalst from its list of culturally significant events. On Sunday, D’Haese said Aalst would leave UNESCO and insisted again that the display falls within legitimate expression of satire in the context of the carnival’s promotion of edgy humor.

“No Halina Reijn and Carice Van Houten as advertised,” Phara de Aguirre, the Belgian show’s presenter, wrote Monday on Twitter. “Reijn is married to a Jewish man and doesn’t want to share a table with Aalst’s mayor.”

Russian figure skater sparks controversy for wearing Holocaust-themed outfit

The International Skating Union (ISU) was forced into an embarrassing climbdown Tuesday after an Auschwitz-themed outfit was nominated for “Best Costume” of the year award.

In a tweet, ISU wrote that the costume – worn by Russian figure skater Anton Shulepov at two official events in France and Japan in November – was included in “error,” according to Time magazine.

“The ISU regrets that by error the wrong costume of Mr. Shulepov has been presented for voting,” the tweet continued. This error has been corrected and the ISU sincerely apologizes for this mistake and the bad sentiment it has caused.”

Shulepov’s costume that caused so much retroactive offense, was a combination of the striped pajamas with a yellow star worn by camp inmates and the uniform of a concentration camp guard. Shulepov wore the costume for his free skate routine, set to the haunting theme from Schindler’s List, composed by John Williams.

The skating organization, according to a report in The Washington Post, did intend to put Shulepov forward as a nominee, but for a different costume worn at another event.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt expressed his disappointment and surprise at the ISU’s mistake.

Police not investigating
attack on Jewish children in London as hate crime

Police are not investigating an attack against three Jewish children on a bus in Stamford Hill, London as a hate crime, according to the London-based nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitism.

The attack was carried out by a “racist male” on the 253 bus on November 24, as reported by the Stamford Hill Shomrim. It was captured on CCTV footage, including a close-up of the suspected assailant’s face.

The footage depicts two men running towards the bus, with one entering the back and appearing to attack Jewish passengers.
According to the Shomrim, the victims all had their hats thrown off and one was punched in the eye.

“At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 24, police received a report of an antisemitic assault that had occurred on a bus… at around 08:15 a.m. that morning,” according to a report in Metro, the police spokesperson stated. “Officers have made contact with the male victim with a view to progressing this investigation.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism said the police deny the incident is antisemitic, despite the bus being full of passengers and only three visible Jews being attacked.

Suspect Arrested After Vandalization of Historic DC Synagogue

A 28-year-old man was arrested on Monday in connection with the vandalization three days earlier of the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, DC.

Friday’s incident saw swastikas written in red ink on a staircase and the word “JEW” carved into a door.

The suspected perpetrator was identified as Luis Montsinos, 28, with no fixed address. He is facing charges of defacing and destroying property, as well as resisting arrest.

“While the damage to the building is minimal and will be fixed quickly, events like this can throw even the toughest person into a tailspin,” Sixth & I Rabbis Shira Stutman, Aaron Potek and Jesse Paikin said. “Given the current climate, we unfortunately are not surprised by this happening.”

“In these moments, it’s important to remember that it is not a shame but an honor to be a Jew,” the rabbis added. “We can and will respond to this hateful act with open doors, in resilience and spirit, living Jewish lives of joy, optimism and pride.”

The mayor of Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser, tweeted on Monday, “@SixthandI is a pillar of DC values — a center of inclusivity, community, and spirituality. That members of our community had to face anti-Semitism during a weekend focused on gratitude is heartbreaking and today we send them and the entire DC Jewish community a signal of love, strength, and solidarity.”

Teens throw rocks at Jewish school bus in Brooklyn

Three teenagers threw a rock at a school bus transporting children from a Jewish elementary school in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights.

The rock cracked a window on the side of the bus. The students attend Bais Rivka, a Chabad school.

A second bus driver witnessed the attack on Tuesday and described the teenagers to police, COL Live reported. The driver of the bus that came under attack filed a police report.

Police are seeking the teens on criminal mischief charges, WABC-TV reported.

Brooklyn, notably in Crown Heights, has seen a rash of attacks against identifiable Jews in recent months.

Jewish cemetery in France vandalized, over 100 graves desecrated

French authorities on Wednesday confirmed that a Jewish cemetery in Westhoffen, west of Strasbourg, has been vandalized in an anti-Semitic attack.

According to local media reports, authorities said they had discovered 107 tombs spray-painted with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in a Jewish graveyard near the German border.

Reports of the attack came as the French National Assembly passed a resolution that stated that anti-Zionism is akin to anti-Semitism and called on other countries to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.

The vandalism in Westhoffen was discovered hours after a similar attack on another Jewish cemetery in the nearby village of Schaffhouse-sur-Zorn.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner condemned the “heinous acts” on Twitter, saying authorities will not rest until the vandals are brought to justice.

Dutch Holocaust ‘Names’ memorial finally puts emphasis on victims not victors

Not long after the end of World War II, a Dutch artist named Jaap Kaas was asked by leaders of the country’s surviving Jews to design a monument.

Three-quarters of the Netherlands’ Jewish population had been murdered in Nazi death camps, and Kaas — a Jew himself — believed the edifice should memorialize by name each of the 100,000 Dutch Jews who did not come back.

Unfortunately for the sculptor and graphic artist Kaas, his “names” concept was rejected by the committee for being “provocative instead of grateful.”

Back them, the situation of Dutch Jewish survivors was precarious. Some of them had already fled a Netherlands that was largely indifferent to their post-war plight, and those who remained were unable to revive the communal institutions necessary for Jewish life.

Seventy years after the Jewish monument committee rejected Kaas’s proposal, his idea will be implemented in the middle of Amsterdam’s former Jewish quarter. There, the structure will replace the so-called Monument of Jewish Gratitude put up by the Jewish community in 1950.

National Library of Israel, Google to digitize 120k books

The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, home to the world’s largest collection of textual Judaica, is going digital.

The NLI and Google have announced that 120,000 books will soon go online for the first time as part of an historic collaboration.

About 45 percent of the books, including all the NLI’s out-of-copyright books yet to be digitized, are in Hebrew and Hebrew-letter languages such as Yiddish and Ladino, with other works in languages including Latin, English, German, French, Arabic and Russian.

The complex process, expected to take about two years, involves transporting the books in climate-controlled shipping containers to the Google digitization center in Germany. Thousands of works are being sent, scanned and returned each month.

“We are very happy to be working with Google in fulfilling our mission to open access to the treasures of Jewish, Israeli and universal culture for diverse audiences across the globe,” said Yaron Deutscher, NLI’s head of digital access. “It is a significant contribution to our work opening digital access to all books published in the first 450 years of Hebrew printing.”

Tesla aims at more than car sales in Israel

US-based electric car maker Tesla has registered an Israeli subsidiary whose activity includes solar energy solutions.

Two weeks ago, US-based electric car maker Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) registered a wholly-owned subsidiary in Israel under the name Tesla Motors Israel. The reason for registering the company appears to be the regulations governing vehicle imports to Israel, which require the importer to be a company registered in Israel.

According to the entry in the registry of companies, the business of the company is “The importation, distribution, sale, maintenance and repair of electric vehicles and mobile energy storage systems, energy generation systems and equipment, including solar panels, solar energy systems, and/or other solar energy conversion systems, and in general all other energy generation systems, accompanying products, parts, accessories and accompanying equipment, and to develop, own, operate, purchase, sell, maintain, plan, engineer, obtain, build, install and order fixed energy storage systems, and energy generation systems and equipment (whether directly or by setting up special purpose entities formed for the purposes of maintaining assets as mentioned.)”

This description indicates that Tesla seeks to operate in Israel not only in selling electric vehicles, but also in renewable energy, particularly solar energy. Tesla has a subsidiary that develops and sells solar panels and advanced roofing tiles. The company was founded in 2016, and recently began selling a new advanced generation of “Solarglass Roof” that it claims converts solar energy to electricity more efficiently than any other existing solution. Tesla’s solution for private houses integrates with new charging stations, enabling people to store energy and use it for domestic purposes, such as charging an electric car or in the home, rather than transferring solar energy to the national grid. The venture began as a collaboration with SolarCity, which Tesla acquired in 2016 for $2.6 billion. The Israeli company’s registered address is the law firm of Naschitz Brandes Amir & Co., which represents Tesla in Israel.

Ashdod, Acre, Bat Yam chosen to be part of Bloomberg’s city-innovation program

Three Israeli cities and one southern region have been selected to take part in a new initiative to boost city innovation and residents’ welfare by adopting tools set out by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable arm of presidential contender and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On Wednesday, the Interior Ministry and the Peres Center for Peace and innovation said they had selected the cities of Ashdod, Acre, Bat Yam, and the region of the Western Negev to take part in the first round of the Hazira initiative, which aims to bring civic and city innovation to municipalities across Israel.

The program was launched in September this year, to “find creative ways to address complex challenges with limited resources.” A call for applications was submitted, with 24 cities and five regional clusters across Israel requesting to join the initiative.

The selected cities and region will now start a two-year process in which they will select local so called “i-teams” of six members who will get professional training by Hazira, using a set of tools developed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, that will teach them how to address the challenges of their city, considering both sustainability and innovation.

Gal Gadot to bring Israeli series, Queens, to the US

Gal Gadot may be our unofficial queen, and now she’s bringing the US a remake of the Israeli television series, Queens.

The website Deadline announced Tuesday that Gadot and her husband, Jason Varsano, will be teaming up with Endemol Shine North America and Endemol Shine Israel to remake the series, which is shown in Israel on the cable network, HOT. The second season of the show will air in Israel in 2020.

It tells the story of a group of mob widows who band together and take over the reins of the Malka crime family, which brings unexpected challenges and satisfactions, as well as more than a little danger. The Israeli version stars pop diva Rita as well as Dana Ivgy, Mali Levi, Lihi Kornowski and Nofar Salman.

Gadot, one of Hollywood’s busiest stars, is involved in a dizzying array of projects. She will be seen next in the movie, Wonder Woman 1984, where she will appear again as the mighty Amazon, and she is also producing the film. It is expected to be released in June 2020. In addition, she recently finished shooting Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile from 20th Century Fox and will begin soon begin work on the Netflix film Red Notice with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

A new kind of ambassador: The rise of Israel’s Netta Barzilai

As the Shalva Band and 2018 Eurovision Song Contest winner Netta Barzilai redefine what it means to be beautiful and successful, perhaps they are, at the same time, redefining what it means to be a “traditional” Israeli ambassador.

Barzilai’s Eurovision-winning song Toy aimed to empower women, victims of sexual harassment and those who may not adhere to traditional beauty standards. Told in the early stages of her career that she wasn’t “sexy or beautiful” like traditional superstars, Barzilai has delivered a powerful confirmation of the importance of staying true to oneself.

“I believe in empowering individualism,” she told JNS.

“I speak as honestly as I can and as freely as I can about how I see the world,” said Barzilai. “It can be funny, silly even and unexpected. It can be sad and emotional, about matters of the heart, and it can be in empowering anthems about body image or girl power.”

“I think we’re the warmest and kindest people,” she said. “Also, we have very strong family values, mutual respect and desire to lift each other up. We all call each other achi and achoti, ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’”

Israel, she said, was a country of survivors, with a unique character.

“We’re a country of survivors because we’re constantly fighting for our lives and country. Because of that, our character is unique; we’re resourceful and focus on what matters: family, relationships and our strength. We laugh and sing to keep healthy and take no bull****. We’re happy at every opportunity we can be. And we value human life more than anyone can imagine. These are the values I live by.”

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei will compete in Israel next month – report

Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who had recently received a Mongolian citizenship, will be reportedly arriving at Israel in January to compete at the Tel Aviv Grand Prix, Army Radio reported.

Mollaei, who competed under the International Judo Federation (IJF) refugee team at the Osaka Grand Slam last month, was given a Mongolian citizenship on Monday, and has reportedly decided to compete in the Tel Aviv Grand Prix in order to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

According to the report, Mollaei had consulted with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and IJF head Marius Vizer, and has decided to come to Israel to compete next month. The report also stated that Israeli Judo Association president Moshe Ponte will be going to Mongolia this weekend to meet with the three in hopes of making Mollaei’s visit official. Mollaei reportedly showed Vizer correspondence with his family in Iran, revealing that many death threats were sent to them.

Even before coming to Israel, Mollaei will possibly face Israeli judoka Sagi Muki at the Qingdao Masters in China next week. In case the draw happens to pitch the two against each other, it will be the first time they meet on the judo mat.

After competing in Osaka, Muki congratulated Mollaei on Instagram for returning to the judo mat and participating in his first competition since the World Championships in Tokyo. Mollaei, in turn, thanked Muki for his support and added: “Good luck to you all the time, my best friend.”

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