Friday, April 02, 2021

From Ian:

Anti-Semites Should Not Define Anti-Semitism
These perpetrators of anti-Israel agitation had been leading a virulent campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel for years now, and it was astonishing that JVP and these meretricious scholars and students ignored all the factual and shameful chronology (of which they have been central fomenters and cheerleaders in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign), and instead were trying to perpetuate the fantasy that the true threat to Jewish students and other Israel supporters is from the Left’s perennial boogeymen, the lunatic fringe of white power extremists who these willfully-blind activists believe, and want others to believe, were the chief perpetrators of anti-Jewish bigotry.

Similarly, in 2014, 40 professors of Jewish studies published a denunciation of a study that named professors who have been identified as expressing “anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic rhetoric.”

While the 40 academic “heavyweights” claimed they, of course, rejected anti-Semitism totally as part of teaching, they were equally repelled by the tactics and possible effects of the AMCHA Initiative report, a comprehensive review of the attitudes about Israel of some 200 professors who signed an online petition during the 2014 Gaza incursion that called for an academic boycott against Israeli scholars—academics the petitioners claimed were complicit in the “latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip.”

“We believe the professors who have signed this petition may be so biased against the Jewish state that they are unable to teach accurately or fairly about Israel or the Arab-Israel conflict, and may even inject antisemitic tropes into their lectures or class discussion,” wrote Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith, co-founders of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that tracks incidents of campus anti-Semitism, and authors of the report.

Calling “the actions of AMCHA deplorable,” the indignant professors were insulted by the organization’s “technique of monitoring lectures, symposia and conferences,” something which, they believe, “strains the basic principle of academic freedom on which the American university is built.” That is a rather breathtaking assertion by academics; namely, that it is contrary to the core mission of higher education that ideas and instruction being publicly expressed by professors cannot be examined and judged, and that by even applying some standards of objectivity on a body of teaching by a particular professor “AMCHA’s approach closes off all but the most narrow intellectual directions and,” as academics who do not want the content of their output to actually be examined for the quality of its scholarship are always fond of saying, “has a chilling effect on research and teaching.”

Can anyone believe that had the AMCHA Initiative or other organization issued a report that revealed the existence of endemic racism, or homophobia, or sexism, or Islamophobia in university coursework, and had warned students who might be negatively impacted to steer clear of courses taught by those offending professors, that these same 40 feckless professors would have denounced such reports as potentially having a negative effect on teaching and learning?

No one is telling these toxic Israel-haters to remain silent—or even to not utter anti-Semitic speech. What working definitions such as the IHRA definition and anti-Semitism awareness bills do hope to achieve is to allow those who are pretending only to be anti-Israel but are actually anti-Semitic to be identified as such. The measures are not designed to criminalize or suppress speech, even what we would consider “hate” speech, although going forward Israel-haters may not be able to disguise their anti-Jewish bigotry as successfully as they have when they pretended to care only for the rights of Palestinians and assailed the policies of the Jewish state.

It may be inconvenient and even embarrassing for these Israel-haters to finally be named for they are—radical, misguided activists whose unrelenting campaign of vitriol against the Jewish state and its supporters has regularly morphed into pure anti-Semitism—but their efforts to assign the blame to others for the miasma of dark bigotry on campuses they themselves have helped to create shows how crucial such tools as the IHRA definition are, and why its acceptance and use are important to help eliminate, finally, “the oldest hatred” from institutions of higher education.
Caroline Glick: The threats American Jewry refuses to face
After being forced by Covid-19 restrictions to celebrate Passover alone last year, like their Israeli brethren, American Jews were by and large able to celebrate the Passover seder with their friends and families this year. And as in Israel, American Jewish families reveled in their deliverance from loneliness on the Jewish festival of deliverance.

But even the joy of Passover couldn't dispel the twin storm clouds rising around the largest Jewish diaspora.

The first threat is growing Jew-hatred. American Jewish groups are good at fighting white supremacism. Unfortunately, the most dangerous external threat to Jewish life in America doesn't come from neo-Nazis. It comes from their home base.

Along with Hindus, Jewish Americans are the most highly educated religious group in America. American Jews have long assumed that the primary source of anti-Semitism in America is ignorance and that as education levels rise, levels of anti-Semitism would decrease. Given the prevalence of anti-Semitism on university campuses, researchers at the University of Arkansas decided to check this assumption.

Publishing their findings this week in Tablet magazine, they demonstrated just how wrong this assumption has become. Contrary to what Jewish organizations have long claimed, it turns out that the more educated Americans are, the more anti-Semitic they are.

College graduates are five percent more likely to apply anti-Semitic double standards to Jews than Americans who haven't gone to college. Holders of advanced degrees used double standards against Jews 15% more often than respondents without higher educations.

The implications are dire. Academia, American Jewry's home turf for a century and the key to their entry into the American elite – is now hostile territory.

Then there is the media. In the mid-20th century, American Jews were pioneers of the US mass media, entertainment and music industries. Increasingly, however, today they are their punching bag.

Noah Green: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Noah Green was named as the knife-wielding, now-deceased suspect who rammed a car into a U.S. Capitol barricade, exiting with a knife and killing one Capitol police officer while injuring another.

Green is a Nation of Islam follower, according to a review of his now-deleted Facebook page by Heavy, although police have not specified a motive. On Facebook, as recently as March 2021, the suspect expressed admiration for Elijah Muhammad, the now deceased Nation of Islam leader who was a mentor to Malcolm X. Green referred to himself as “Noah X.”

Saudi FM says ties with Israel would bring ‘tremendous benefit’ to Middle East
Normalization with Israel would bring “tremendous benefit” to the region, the Saudi foreign minister has said, but such an accord with the kingdom would depend on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Under the Abraham Accords brokered by former US president Donald Trump last year, four Arab countries — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan — agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish state.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Thursday that any deal with Saudi Arabia was “very much dependent on progress with the peace process.”

He noted that normalization had been on the table since the introduction of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative on the condition of reaching resolution with the Palestinians.

“I think normalizing Israel’s status within the region would bring tremendous benefit to the region as a whole,” he said during an interview with CNN.

“It would be extremely helpful both economically but also socially and from a security perspective.”

But such a process “can only be successful if we address the issue of the Palestinians and if we are able to deliver a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders that gives the Palestinians dignity and gives them their rights.”

Sorry professors, but BDS and double standards for Israel are anti-Semitism
Signers of the JDA twist themselves in knots claiming that anti-Israel actions don’t have much to do with anti-Semitism. Yet many of them are invested in Palestinian “rights” and disregard Palestinian society’s pervasive advocacy of hatred and violence, from their mosques to media to schools and government, which is blatantly anti-Semitic. When these professors next go to Ramallah, they should notice that the word “Jew” and “Israeli” are interchangeable. Palestinian calls for two states—one binational and the other Arab—are just fine with them, knowing that this would mean Israel’s demographic destruction.

Many of these professors who rightly claim love for the freedom of speech are mute about today’s campus environment, where pro-Israel students are demonized, intimidated and restrained from their First Amendment rights by Palestinian supporters. Protecting students who disagree with your perspective used to be a pillar of academic freedom, but too many professors are activists first, not academics. Silence makes one complicit in stigmatizing Zionist students and pro-Israel professors. This is the very definition of illiberalism. Where are their voices for freedom of speech when their pro-Israel students and their speakers are screamed down in the name of racism, apartheid and colonialism? Is that not anti-Semitism?

One signer of the JDA claimed the IHRA had reached a “point where Palestinian students feel threatened on campus.” This is Orwellian. A primary reason for the need for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was the threats and intimidation to Jewish students on campus by Palestinians and their supporters. A 2015 Brandeis University poll of North American colleges’ Jewish students found “nearly three-quarters of the respondents reported having been exposed … during the past year to a least one anti-Semitic statement.” There is little evidence of any concerted intimidation against Palestinian students. Still, they and their progressive supporters are often the perpetrators of anti-Semitism against Jewish students who are pro-Israel.

True academic integrity should demand that many of these professors define themselves as pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist and not hide behind the pro-peace, pro-Israel moniker. Who are some of the signatories? City University of New York professor and New York Times writer Peter Beinart wrote an article in July 2020 titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” In response, the ADL’s deputy director said “such calls are themselves anti-Semitic, or at the very least, as in the case of Mr. Beinart, play into the hands of the anti-Semites.”

Another endorser of the JDA definition is the anti-Zionist Richard Falk. Former President Barack Obama’s representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, called his comments on Israel “deeply offensive,” condemning them in the “strongest terms.” She charged that Falk had a “one-sided and politicized view of Israel’s situation and the Palestinian Territories.” No wonder he signed a definition of anti-Semitism that minimized equating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred.

So kudos to those professors who fight against right-wing anti-Semitism; we should all join them. But shame on them for claiming that it’s not anti-Semitism to back the BDS movement, to deny the Jewish people a right to self-determination, to allow Israel to be judged by a double standard and to intimidate Jewish students on campus because they are pro-Israel.

Support for Israel strong, even as Democrats defect
Gallup has released its annual survey data regarding American opinion towards Israel, and the news is once again mostly positive. Support for the Palestinians has increased some, especially with the Obama coalition, but there is no sign that Americans are turning against Israel.

Public opinion towards Israel is often influenced by the public attitude of the president, so you would expect that sympathy towards Israel would have increased during the Trump administration given his consistently pro-Israel position. Only four polls were taken during his term and the average support for Israel was 61%, a point lower than during the comparatively antagonistic Obama administration. Also, despite Trump's relative hostility towards the Palestinians, support for them increased from 16% during his predecessor's term to 20%.

The latest poll, which I count under the Biden administration, but may more fairly reflect the Trump administration given that Biden had only been in office a few weeks when it was taken, showed a slight drop in support for Israel, to 58%, and an increase in sympathy for the Palestinians to 25%. This is the narrowest margin since the question was first asked in 1988. (Earlier polls asked about sympathy towards the Arabs). Still, sympathy for Israel has averaged 62% in the last decade compared to 19% for the Palestinians.

When asked their opinion of different countries and the Palestinian Authority, 75% had a favorable view of Israel compared to 30% for the PA. This was the second-highest rating for Israel, topped only by the 79% favorability rating around the time of the Gulf War. Although this was a record high for the Palestinians, 65% a still had an unfavorable view of the PA.

One potential sign of concern is that the%age of people who believe more pressure should be put on Israel has increased to 34% from an average in five polls dating to 2007 of 28%. Still, more people, 44%, favor pressuring the Palestinians.
Rise of antisemitism in American universities demands action
A wave of antisemitic behavior hit the University of Connecticut this year, culminating in a graffitied Swastika and hateful comments over the weekend.

Another swastika and "SS" symbol were painted on one of the buildings in the Storrs campus on Tuesday. This is the seventh Jewish hate crime the university has experienced in 2021.

While university police are investigating the matter, UConn's Hillel has responded to the incidents, “Enough is enough. Jewish students on campus are done being silent.”

They called upon university students to join a "gathering to support Jewish students and stand up against antisemitism on April 5th, 2020." UConn is not the only university to experience increased antisemitism in recent years.

Ian Katnelson, a student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign wrote last year, "I, a Jew, have been labeled a Nazi for being a Zionist, abandoned by progressive campus organizations, silenced in the student government as the lone Jewish senator, and personally threatened -- all for supporting the right of Jewish self-determination."

Additionally, the writer Liel Leibovitz issued a warning last year to Jewish students at American institutions of higher education telling them to leave. He argued that the rise of anti-Zionism, poor teaching quality, and inflated prices made elite colleges hostile places for both Jewish flourishing and liberal education.

Leibovitz called upon his readers to cease applying and donating to institutions like Harvard and Yale.
What Nick Cannon's response to his anti-Semitic comments can teach us about cancel culture
TV personality Nick Cannon recently spoke to ABC’s Soul of a Nation about repentance. It was Cannon’s first televised interview since last summer’s anti-Semitism scandal and offered some insight into Cannon’s current thinking, as well as anti-Semitism scandals more generally.

To recap the underlying incident, Cannon hosted Professor Griff, who was ejected from rap group Public Enemy in 1989 over anti-Semitic comments, on his podcast last July. During that 90-minute discussion, as one outlet summarizes it, Cannon said that “black people are the ‘true Hebrews’ ... referenced antisemitic conspiracy theories, slammed Jews for criticizing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and questioned the birthright of Jewish people.”

The reaction to that discussion, especially from American Jews, was negative. Cannon saw that and felt “real shock,” according to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “He was truly surprised he had hurt people,” Cooper told me. Since then, Cannon has worked to educate himself and build relationships in the Jewish community with people such as Cooper, away from the spotlight. And that brings us to this recent interview.

Cannon told interviewer Linsey Davis that he’s not interested in forgiveness but rather “for-growth.” Unsure what that meant, I asked Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s director of interreligious and intergroup relations, who has joined Cannon’s podcast, for his take. Marans said in an email, “I understand Nick’s statement that he is not looking for forgiveness to mean that he is not satisfied with a check-the-box apology and moving on, but rather an ongoing process of learning and evolving. He has, in essence, engaged the process of Teshuvah by assuring that it is a vital, dynamic evolution.”

Perhaps the most interesting idea to come out of Cannon’s interview was his comment that we need “counsel culture” rather than cancel culture. And there, Cannon may be on to something.

Celebrity anti-Semitism scandals have become seemingly ubiquitous. They all tend to be classified identically, but there are several factors worth considering independently.

BBC’s ‘woke’ Passover explainer for children breaches style guide
That section is illustrated using a photograph with a replacement caption that has been altered to likewise include the term Palestine.

The BBC’s young audiences are not informed who “some groups” are, whether or not they represent any significant proportion of the British Jewish community or how prevalent any such reinterpretations of a central part of a festival that the BBC itself has noted that Jews have celebrated for thousands of years actually are.

‘Bitesize’ has previously produced a reasonable backgrounder explaining Pessah to British children and another BBC department catering for young audiences, Newsround, published appropriate content on March 27th of this year.

However as we see, ‘Bitesize’ has chosen to ignore the corporation’s own style guide for a second time in order to shoehorn a trite and gratuitous reference to Middle East politics into an item supposedly explaining to children in the United Kingdom the meaning of the festival their British Jewish classmates and neighbours (who of course have no connection to the issue of “peace between Israel and Palestine”) are celebrating.
BBC News misleads on health insurance in Israel
Several hours after its initial publication the report was amended to include a continuation of that sub-section:
“However, several issues have been reported with the system since it was rolled out.

Foreign nationals cannot get hold of the pass, nor can vaccinated citizens who are not insured with an Israeli healthcare provider. Experts have expressed privacy concerns over the smartphone app, and the government has admitted the police do not have the staff to check if businesses are complying with the new rules.”

Since January 1995 health insurance has been obligatory for all Israeli citizens.
“Every resident must register as a member with one of the health-care organizations. […]

Payment of health insurance premiums is compulsory. The National Insurance Institute collects health insurance premiums in the same way it collects national insurance premiums.

Employees will have the premium deducted by their employer. Self-employed persons will remit them directly to the National Insurance Institute.

The collection of health insurance premiums is progressive: low-income earners pay less and high-income earners pay more.”

It is hence highly unlikely that “vaccinated citizens who are not insured with an Israeli healthcare provider” represents a significant issue.

While there have indeed been some technical difficulties for foreign nationals who do not have an Israeli ID number, the Ministry of Health has stated that it is aware of the issue and is working to find appropriate solutions. The relevant MoH website now allows application for the Green Pass using either one’s ID number or passport number.

Lawyers for Neo-Nazi Gunman Behind Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Try New Maneuver to Avoid Death Penalty
Lawyers acting for Robert Bowers — the neo-Nazi gunman who murdered 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue — have requested access to prosecutors files on their client’s online activities prior to the massacre in Oct. 2018, as part of their wider strategy to avoid his execution.

In a motion filed this week, Bowers’ lawyers wrote that the evidence must be turned over to them under discovery rules.

“Federal courts have consistently recognized, and capital juries have consistently found, that the government’s awareness of the potential for a person to commit violence, and the government’s capacity to avert violence, are mitigating circumstances of a capital offense,” the motion said.

At his first court appearance in Feb. 2019, Pittsburgh resident Bowers pleaded not guilty to the 63 charges brought against him. In Oct. 2020, his lawyers shifted tack, beginning efforts for a plea bargain — so far rejected by the government — that would result in Bowers spending the rest of his life in prison, but also avoiding the death penalty sought by the Justice Department.

His lawyers cited the prosecution’s reliance on Bowers’ activity on social media platforms such as Gab to demonstrate “aggravating factors” necessary for the death sentence to be passed. These include proving that Bowers attacked the synagogue following significant planning and premeditation, that he was motivated by religious animus based on expressions of hate and contempt toward Jews, and that he chose the synagogue for the shooting with the intent to instill fear in the Jewish community.
The Tractate of Pesach that was rescued from Hitler's bunker
The Tractate Pesach was found in Hitler's bunker and given to then Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog and is now at Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva in Gush Etzion.

Why did the bestial murderer of six million Jews have a Tractate of Talmud in his bunker?

Did he realize the Tractate talks about freeing the Jewish people from bondage?

Here is the story:

The Unexpected History Behind Jerusalem’s Street Names
Jerusalem is a city of history. Much of that history can be found in the ancient structures of the Old City.

However, there’s an aspect of Jerusalem’s history that is much more subtly integrated into its geography: its street names.

Countless roads throughout the capital city are named after important figures in local and Jewish history. While there are obvious ones such as Herzl Street and Balfour Street, many names on street signs pay tribute to lesser-known personalities.

ISRAEL21c brings to you 10 streets in Jerusalem named after influential individuals of the past.

1. Ben Yehuda Street
This pedestrian street, a hub of food, shopping and art, is named after Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Hebrew lexicographer credited with reviving the spoken Hebrew language.

He was born in a Lithuanian village and began learning Hebrew in his early childhood. After being inspired by historical revivals of other classical languages, Ben-Yehuda became a staunch Zionist. He moved to Palestine, where most residents spoke Ladino, Yiddish or Arabic. He began introducing his plan to reintegrate spoken Hebrew into society.

Ben-Yehuda’s three methods of revival were “Hebrew in the Home,” “Hebrew in the School” and “Words, Words, Words.” The Jewish people were able to remain connected and rooted in their historical and biblical language because of his influence. A giant ducky is among the attractions you’ll see on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street. Photo by Tess Levy

The street bearing his name is a bustling, entertaining destination that offers many attractions, including a giant duck in the middle of the street and colorful murals on shop walls. On this street, Ben-Yehuda’s legacy is remembered in every conversation spoken in Hebrew between Israelis and tourists alike.
Orthodox Jewish Rapper Nissim Black on Experiencing Racism and Turning Struggles Into ‘Greatness’
Rapper Nissim Black spoke about facing discrimination for being a Black Orthodox Jew in a new interview with the Jewish News’ Life Magazine.

A native of Seattle, where his parents were part of the hip-hop scene, Black grew up Muslim and then, after joining a youth group, converted to Christianity. By the age of 19 he was interested in music, but after a friend shot a rival rapper who had disrespected Black, he stepped back to reflect on his life, began praying, and ultimately turned to Judaism.

He and his wife converted in 2012 and made aliyah in 2016. They initially lived in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood Mea She’arim, but after some of Black’s six children faced racial prejudice, the family moved to Beit Shemesh.

Asked about the racism he has faced, Black told Life Magazine he had a tough time adjusting to people staring at him. “You know, I don’t think it’s always a bad thing in terms of what they may be thinking, that somebody where I came from decided to become Jewish,” he added.

The musician said he believes there would be more understanding between the Jewish and the African-American communities if they were educated and aware of each other’s struggles. Giving himself as an example, he admitted that he knew nothing about the Holocaust until he was age 20 and starting learning about Judaism. He noted that has also been asked about the African American experience by otherwise educated people.
March of the Living Virtual Event to Honor Medical Professionals, Past and Present
The International March of the Living will hold a virtual march on Holocaust Remembrance Day to be led by Holocaust survivors and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jewish Agency chair Isaac Herzog, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael chair Avraham Duvdevani and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.

Participants from across the globe were filmed using innovative 3D technology so they appear to be walking on the traditional March of the Living route at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp.

The event will include a tribute to medical professionals who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save others. To that end, doctors, nurses, paramedics and representatives from numerous medical associations, including the World Medical Association, as well as those on the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, will participate in the program.

Others include Israel’s coronavirus chief Professor Nachman Ash; Professor Idit Matot, director of anesthesia at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital; Galia Rahav, head of the Infectious Disease Unit and Laboratories at Sheba Medical Center; Magen David Adom director-general Eli Bin; and Chaim Freund, CEO of the Israeli health organization Ezer Mitzion, along with his mother, Holocaust survivor Tzipora Freund.

“The fact that this is the second year that we will not march,” due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, “is difficult,” acknowledged Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, world chair of March of the Living, and Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, its president. “However, will never stop the work of remembrance. This year, we found a way to hold a virtual march that brings us as close as possible to a feeling that cannot be explained in words. We will be at Auschwitz-Birkenau in spirit and soul, and we will be joined by millions of people around the world.”


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