Thursday, November 18, 2021

From Ian:

Lessons learned on the frontlines against BDS
The post-Holocaust moratorium on openly expressing anti-Semitism is over. Even where blatant targeting of Jews remains unfashionable, it often flourishes masquerading as anti-Israelism. Its latest incarnation is the BDS campaign. States can and should help fight this stealthy discrimination.

Even as more Arab countries recognize Israel, Israel's high-tech economy flourishes and competing Palestinian leaderships achieve nothing positive for their people, BDS warriors inside and outside the Middle East ramp up a rejectionist narrative painting Israel as a pariah and its supporters (read, "Jews") as the devil's handmaidens. The strategy is not just to harm Israel's economy, but to destroy political and moral support for the continued existence of the world's sole Jewish state. As for the goal, former BDS co-founder and Hamas leader Omar Barghouti explained: "definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine."

Ben & Jerry's is the first high-profile company to buy into BDS. Judging by the recent success that ideology has had in penetrating Western business culture, it won't be the last. Like other ideologies, BDS blames successful people and societies for their success, presumes the unsuccessful bear no responsibility for failure and, in fact, blames the successful for others' failure.

But many states are fighting back. Thirty-five of them have passed anti-BDS laws, resolutions or executive orders opposing boycott, divestment, and/or sanctions against Israel. Some are modeled on anti-boycott legislation the United States passed back in the 1970s to counteract the Arab boycott. US law forbids taxpayers from participating in a foreign boycott of Israel.

Anti-Israel groups have targeted anti-BDS laws for extermination. In the course of litigation, they have shone a spotlight on the laws' strengths and weaknesses. Here are some suggestions for strengthening anti-BDS legislation consistent with First Amendment rights.
Anti-Israel Activists Resort to Violence Because Their Views Cannot Withstand the Application of Fact
On Nov. 9, the Israeli ambassador to the UK delivered a speech to students at the London School of Economics (LSE). When she left the building, she had to be bundled into her car by her security team as dozens of screaming, aggressive protesters shouted insults, booed and sought to break through a phalanx of Metropolitan police officers.

It's one thing to stamp your feet and burst into tears whenever a university invites someone whose views you disagree with, even as you demand that your feelings are more important than free speech. But this is about physical, violent intimidation of your political opponents. The thugs will claim that their cause is so just, so righteous, so obviously right, that their willingness to enforce their views with a fist, a stone or a bottle is merely the natural and just response to the threat of opposing views.

But there's a much easier, simpler and more logical way to explain why these activists will always resort to mob rule rather than sit down and discuss their views in an adult fashion: they know their views cannot withstand the application of fact. When your own views are based on emotion, wishful thinking and a conviction that lends itself more easily to religious edict than to rational thought, the last thing you want to do is expose them in an arena where your opinions can be examined, analyzed and called out.
A Mindset of Pure, Unadulterated Anti-Semitism
An inordinate amount of the content on Twitter is directed against Jews and Israel, reflecting a toxic, widespread obsession online and off which betrays a disturbing anti-Semitic bent. The endless defamation of Israel is of little surprise, marked by a troubling double-standard and righteous indignation reserved only for the Jewish homeland. In addition to social media, this preoccupation also plays out in news coverage, the UN, NGOs, in academia and in the arts community.

Of course, like all other countries, Israel is and should be subject to criticism. But when its very existence is questioned, it's an attack on the Jewish people. Anti-Israel activists often wrap themselves in the "anti-Zionist" flag, as if denying Jews the right to their own state in their ancestral homeland were a badge of honor. This has a negative impact for Jews, with many feeling they're having their safe space stripped away.

Let's be clear, diaspora Jews and Israelis criticize Israel all the time. It's something else entirely when celebrities and social media influencers with millions of followers use their platforms to regularly denigrate Israel with highly charged misinformation and falsehoods, sometimes even justifying violence and terror against it and its civilian population. One has to wonder why they devote such wildly disproportionate attention to a liberal democracy - that just happens to be the world's only Jewish state.


Hannah Arendt on Anti-Racism as a Totalitarian Ideology
In short, Arendt takes Marx’s argument in “On the Jewish Question” (1844) and turns it on its head. In that swift polemic, Marx argued that the continued existence of Jews in modern liberal states constituted the most damning evidence of their failure to overcome social inequalities. Liberalism distinguishes between state and civil society, public and private, then proclaims each citizen free and equal in the former while allowing every distinction and difference—paradigmatically, religious difference—to stand in the latter. The only solution, Marx believed, was to extend what had been achieved by revolution in the political realm to the social realm as well: not liberal emancipation, but human emancipation—that is, socialism. Conclusion: “The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.”

Arendt, ever one to respond as a Jew when attacked as a Jew, inverted Marx’s argument by showing how and why the independence of civil society offers indispensable protections for a minority that is genuinely and irrevocably alienated from modern life. But she feared that superficial anti-racist discourse and unreflective civil rights talk were threatening to overturn the very political tradition that had protected American Jews in the past. She did not deny the need for immediate measures to ensure Black Americans their equal rights, yet she pled for moderation, self-limitation, and awareness of the fragility of the political settlement that could be upset in the process.

What was the price of imprudence that Arendt feared to pay? In Origins, she drew two important connections between rising social equality during Europe’s long 19th century and the emergence of totalitarian government in the 20th. The first pertained to the Jewish question directly: The logic of the French revolutionary government’s historic decision in 1791 to grant emancipation to France’s Jews (a policy Napoleon soon spread across Europe) was distilled in Clermont-Tonnerre’s famous declaration before the National Assembly: “The Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals.” Following political emancipation, any residual conflict between Jews and wider French society was conceived as a social problem, to be overcome through acculturation and education out of “backwardness.” But in practice, emancipation only redoubled the pressure on French Jews to assimilate out of their Jewishness.

Whereas before emancipation, differences in social status drew a boundary between Jews and non-Jews that some “exceptional” individuals might be allowed to cross, this distinction was lost with the expectation that social equality would shortly follow political equality. Yet the Jewish religion’s set-apartness, what Arendt called its “principle of separation,” stubbornly remained. Now a Jew had to prove “that although he was a Jew, yet he was not a Jew”; he had to choose between becoming a subhuman parvenu or a superhuman pariah. The “perversion of equality from a political into a social concept,” Arendt claimed, actually intensified and aggravated those differences that obstinately defied leveling and became “all the more conspicuous” as a result. When political antisemitism later returned with a vengeance, the European masses saw Jews as outright enemies to be exterminated rather than occasionally irksome Others. Yet most Jews, to Arendt’s immense regret, continued to live in a “fool’s paradise,” under the impression that their civil rights would protect them. “It has been one of the most unfortunate facts in the history of the Jewish people,” Arendt reflected, “that only its enemies, and almost never its friends, understood that the Jewish question was a political one.”
Palestinian sues over Ben & Jerry’s boycott, saying it promotes ‘hatred’
A prominent Palestinian human rights activist recently filed a complaint in New York state, charging that a Ben & Jerry’s boycott in the West Bank and occupied territories is contributing to “more hatred” in the strife-prone region.

Bassem Eid, 63, filed a complaint with New York state’s Division of Human Rights last month against Conopco Inc., the US division of Unilever that owns the popular ice cream brand.

Eid, a longtime activist who has been critical of abuses by both Israeli armed forces and the Palestinian Authority in the past, claimed the restriction on sales of ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories is “counterproductive to peace and creates only more hatred, enmity and polarization,” according to the complaint.

An award-winning human rights activist who was born in East Jerusalem and grew up in a United Nations-run refugee camp, Eid said the boycott will have an adverse effect on the people it is trying to help.

“I, as a Palestinian, as well as many of my friends, family and other Palestinians, are regular shoppers at Gush Etzion commercial center … where we also frequent to eat ice cream,” said Eid in the complaint. Eid is a resident of Jericho in the West Bank.

“This shopping area is the true realization of coexistence, as both Jews and Muslims from both Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories … work and shop here,” he said.

Eid likened the boycott to the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which many Jews have criticized as anti-Semitic. The complaint was filed under New York state’s Lisa Law that prevents New York businesses from engaging in anti-Israel boycott activity, said David Abrams, the New York-based attorney who filed the complaint on Eid’s behalf. EOZ October 19, 2021: EXCLUSIVE: Palestinian human rights advocate Bassem Eid files a complaint against Unilever over Ben and Jerry's boycott of Israel


Club Z Is Taking the Pro-Israel Cause to Campus
Nine years ago, on a typical weekday afternoon, Masha Merkulova’s son came home from Hebrew school clearly troubled.

“I asked him what was wrong,” Merkulova, a registered nurse, said. “He then told me the teacher at his Hebrew school showed the class a movie that was anti-Israel. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately got a copy, watched it and was shocked at what I saw.”

Merkulova, who was born in Russia, said that while Russia was great at raising “social warriors,” that never extended to Zionism or Israel.

“When I emigrated to the United States, I knew I needed to educate myself more about Israel and especially Zionism,” she said. “So I did.”

The incident at her son’s Hebrew school in the California Bay Area where she lives prompted Merkulova to ask the school for an explanation.

“I found the teachers were well-meaning but uneducated about Israel and Zionism. They simply didn’t know the movie they were showing was inaccurate and out of context,” she said. “I then found a study guide on Israel that was fair and factual that the teachers could follow. But the school told me it would take one to two years for the board to approve it. We didn’t have a year or two, so I bought the program myself and started teaching it at a space donated by the local JCC.”
Non-Jewish Zionists Must Speak Up for Israel
I care about Israel as a Christian, a politics student, and a human being who stands against anti-Jewish hate.

Support for the Middle East's only democracy should not be treated like a guilty secret.

Defending Israel's right to exist is key to tackling anti-Semitism, which is often cloaked as anti-Zionism. If I stay silent, I help legitimize an insidious culture of discrimination that ultimately threatens us all.

Many students don't hold entrenched views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; they just haven't heard Israel's side of the story.

I want my fellow students to understand that despite its flaws, Israel is a haven for minority rights, a seedbed for entrepreneurship, and a country committed to peace with its neighbors.
‘I am a progressive because I am a Zionist,’ says Arizona Rep.
Arizona House Rep. Alma Hernandez (LD-3) gets flak for being a progressive Zionist.

“Sometimes I am being told, ‘You have to pick one side or the other; you can’t be both,’ or, ‘You have to check one of your identities at the door,’ and I refuse to do that,” Hernandez said during a Jewish National Fund-USA panel discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

She’s not the only one. U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) said he was taken aback by the “overwhelming hatred” and “vitriol” he got when he announced he was going to visit Israel with a delegation in 2014 as a New York City Councilman.

“Over time I came to realize there was a dangerous idea percolating in progressive politics: the idea that you cannot be both pro-Israel and progressive, which is a vicious lie,” he said.

Hernandez and Torres spoke about being progressive Zionists as part of JNF-USA’s “This is What Zionism Looks Like” campaign launched in August.

JNF-USA launched the campaign to “reclaim” the meaning of the word “Zionism,” said its CEO, Russell F. Robinson. “The word ‘Zionism’ has been hijacked from us.” The campaign includes a social media effort, online events, boot camps, educational courses and panel discussions focused on the “beauty, the substance, the building, (and) the commonality that Zionism brings.”

Hernandez, the first Mexican-American Jewish person ever elected to office in the U.S, said Israel is the epitome of progressive values.


Ireland's hostility toward Israel is rooted in its top leadership
During Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney’s visit to Israel last week he made comments on how “frustrating” it is that Ireland is widely perceived by Israelis as the most anti-Israel country in the European Union. Frustrated Coveney may be, but he can hardly be surprised. It is not only Israelis who feel this way, but rather a growing diverse cross-section of Irish people who are increasingly frustrated by the obsessive desire to attack Israel and Zionism within our political and academic spaces, on our streets and elsewhere.

As activist David Collier observed in his recent disturbing report, antisemitism in Ireland, "anti-Jewish racism in Ireland spreads within the corridors of power and unlike in the UK or US, appears to be as much driven from the top down as the reverse."

The obsessive demonization of Israel, made clear during a May parliamentary debate on a motion proposed by the notoriously anti-Israel Sinn Féin party and supported by the Catholic charity Trócaire, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Sadaka and Christian Aid , has nothing do with concern for the welfare of ordinary Palestinians. Indeed, no references were made to the plight of Palestinians under Hamas rule, Fatah's violation of Palestinian human rights, Hamas persecution of LGBTQ Palestinians, military training of children, or the encouragement of martyrdom.

Rather, the wholesale demonization of Israel included the perpetuation of a centuries-old libel against the Jewish people when it was claimed that Israel “strives to promote and perpetuate Jewish supremacy in the entire area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea."


Anger at Israeli movie screening at Melbourne LGBTQ film festival
The Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF), set to kick off Thursday, has been shaken by a row over “pinkwashing” — accusations that the event was promoting Israel’s progressive treatment of sexual minorities as a way of diverting attention from its conflict with the Palestinians.

Activists have called for the cancellation of a screening of an Israeli movie and called for the festival to adopt a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) platform, putting an end to the featuring of Israeli films at the event.

According to VICE News, the allegations began earlier this month, with Palestinian activists claiming the festival was seeking to promote “an image of Israel as a queer-friendly idyll, and Palestinians as inherently intolerant and backward people.”

The report said the claim initially stemmed from a screening of Israeli film “Sublet” as part of MQFF Together, a smaller festival held in March.

“I went through the whole program and [there was] not a single film from Africa or the Swana region,” writer, filmmaker and community organizer Muhib Nabulsi told VICE. “It was then that I noticed that there was this film by Israeli director Eytan Fox, whose films are held up in academic literature, and by activists, as some of the most prominent examples of pinkwashing.”


In Miss Universe Pageant Article, AFP Applies Cover Up to BDS Blemishes
Beyond covering up BDS’ belligerence, AFP’s article resembles a BDS-issued press release in additional ways. For instance, the headline’s reference to “Palestine” is not consistent with AFP style. Nor does the headline indicate the big news: that the South African government is boycotting its own contestant due to her participation in the Miss Universe competition in Israel. A more informative (and even shorter) headline is: “S. Africa denounces Miss Universe contender over Israel visit.”

BDS activists must also have been pleased with AFP’s reporting that the South African “decision came after growing calls for the reigning Miss South Africa to boycott the pageant over Israeli’s alledged [sic] atrocities against Palestine.”

The grammatical and spelling errors, the stylistic lapses and the blatant partisanship, make for a poor journalistic showing, unmasking AFP’s effort to beautify BDS.


Watchdog group opens voting for third annual ‘anti-Semite of year’ contest
StopAntisemitism.org is inviting the public to vote in its third annual competition for the world’s “Antisemite of the Year,” a title given to the person who cultivated and propagandized the most hatred against Jews in 2021.

Ten individuals who have been named by the watchdog group as semi-finalists competing for the title include Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.); social-justice activist Shaun King; Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth; Mohammed El Kurd, a Palestinian correspondent for The Nation; former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney; Andrew Torba, founder and CEO of the far-right social-media platform Gab; British pop singer Dua Lipa; former porn star Mia Khalifa; talk-show host Trevor Noah; and Anuradha Mittal, who is head of Ben & Jerry’s board of directors and the vice president of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Inc.

Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 6 with the winner revealed on Dec. 27.

“This award is important because it exposes anti-Semites who think they can get away with their hate,” said StopAntisemitism CEO and founder Liora Rez. “Sadly, we’ve witnessed a spike in anti-Semitism this year, but we continue to work relentlessly to call out anti-Semites and hold them accountable. Our contest is one of the ways to do so.”


Anti-racism charity pulls award for artist who supported former MP Chris Williamson
An anti-racism charity has withdrawn an award given to an artist, after it emerged he appeared to deny claims of antisemitism in Labour and had been pictured with former MP Chris Williamson.

Hope Not Hate announced that Joe Solo had won a Hope Hero award for a project aimed at tackling poverty.

The artist was one of three winners to land an award in a public vote.

But it emerged that the singer was responsible for a series of social media posts – including showing him pictured with ex Labour MP Williamson.

He wrote on the February 2019 post: “Solidarity with Chris Williamson tonight.” He shared a similar message in September 2018. Joe showing solidarity with Chris Williamson

At the time Williamson was suspended by Labour for saying the party was “too apologetic” over antisemitism.

There were also other tweets from the singer on antisemitism.

In a joint statement on Wednesday the charity and union said they had decided to withdraw the award from the singer.


Bristol and Warwick universities top list of campus antisemitism
Bristol and Warwick are named and shamed this week as the universities with the most antisemitic incidents during the last academic year.

Figures released by the Community Security Trust (CST) show a total of 111 reported instances of anti-Jewish hatred on campuses, up from 70 the previous year. It is the highest figure since the charity started documenting campus antisemitism in 2002.

Warwick and Bristol topped the list with 11 cases.

Cases involved verbal, written and online abuse, with one categorised as an assault – a Jewish student at Birmingham was physically attacked in their accommodation.

In October, Bristol sacked sociology lecturer Professor David Miller following a long investigation and report into complaints by students that he had made antisemitic comments.

He accused Jewish students of being “pawns of a racist regime engaged in ethnic cleansing”, and also claimed Jewish students run a “campaign of censorship” on behalf of the Israeli government and Jewish communal institutions work for the “Israel lobby”.

According to CST, of the 11 cases which took place at Bristol University, all but one took place in February, when Miller made the remarks which led to his dismissal.


Israel’s Imperfect Democracy Alive & Vibrant: Countering The New York Times’ ‘Demise’ Misdiagnosis
The New York Times in a November 16 piece titled, US Allies Drive Much of World’s Democratic Decline, Data Shows, noted that “in that form of government, elected leaders behave more like strongmen and political institutions are eroded, but personal rights mostly remain (except, often, for minorities). US allies often led this trend. Turkey, Hungary, Israel and the Philippines are all examples.”

By repeatedly suggesting that Israel’s days as a democracy are numbered, The New York Times is ignoring clear evidence to the contrary. Moreover, by depicting the Jewish state in such a manner, the publication is adding fuel to incessant efforts by anti-Israel groups and “activists” to isolate and stigmatize the only functional democracy in the Middle East.

Once an Accident, Twice a Coincidence, Three Times a Pattern


US Allies Drive Much of World’s Democratic Decline, Data Shows is the latest in a series of NYT items that have mischaracterized Israeli democracy, and by extension Israeli society:
- As 4th Election Looms, Some Ask: Is Israel’s Democracy Broken?
- Israel Is Falling Apart, Because the Conflict Controls Us (Subheading: “Our politics are stalled. Our democracy is in tatters. Blame the occupation.”)
- Is the End of Israeli Democracy Nigh? Israelis Debate Its Future
- Did Israel Just Stop Trying to Be a Democracy?
- Israel Faces a Defining Question: How Much Democracy Should Arabs Get?

Research has shown that while eight out of 10 people will scan a headline, only two out of those eight will read the remainder of the text.

Accordingly, the vast majority of NYT readers are likely to have come away believing that Israel is a sinking ship simply due to the misleading nature of the above-mentioned titles.
Turkish drama’s nuanced portrayal of good-looking Jews
Netflix has a new Turkish drama series , The Club – starring Jewish characters and giving viewers a flavour of their Ladino culture. They are good-looking and sympathetically portrayed, although tensions between Jews and Muslims are also present. Feature by Lior Zaltzman in Kveller magazine:

A new Netflix show opens with a scene of a dark-haired woman lighting Shabbat candles, reciting a Shabbat prayer in Hebrew to herself in a crowded dorm room filled with women wearing head coverings.

No, this isn’t the latest season of the Israeli hit “Shtisel.” It’s a new, incredible drama called “The Club,” and it hails from a perhaps unexpected place — Turkey, a land not usually known for its portrayals of Jews.

“The Club,” or “Kulüp” in Turkish, landed on Netflix on November 5, and it is comprised of six masterfully crafted, compelling and incredibly Jewish episodes — with dialogue in Turkish and Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, the Jewish language spoken by Sephardic Jews of Spanish origins. The show is helmed by prolific and accomplished drama director Zeynep Gunay Tan (love me a woman-run show!) and features an all-star cast.

The name of the show refers to Club Istanbul, a new club opening up in the Turkish capital in 1955, and the show focuses on the many souls who work there. But it is mainly the story of Matilda, a Jewish woman played by the mesmerizing Gökçe Bahadir, a well-known Turkish drama and movie star. When we first meet Matilda in that crowded Jewish dorm room, she has just gotten a pardon and is out of jail for the first time in almost two decades.

Like many Turkish Jews before her, she sets her sights on Israel, hoping to start a new life there, as well as leave behind a land where she has no family left. No family, that is, aside from a daughter, who was born out of wedlock while Matilda was in prison, who she had to give away — and who she knows nothing about.
Mehdi Hasan Prods John Legend Swipe at Israel
Legend’s recitation of these tired propaganda themes underscores the shallow, if strongly-held, basis of the singer’s viewpoint.

There isn’t the slightest hint in Legend’s assertions or Hasan’s input that Israel has genuine security challenges as well as ancient claims and legal rights to the land. Nor does Legend seem aware of key facts, such as that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, an internationally-recognized terrorist organization that assaults Israel with missiles and rockets and is dedicated to Israel’s destruction. In order to ensure materials coming into Gaza are not used by Hamas or other terrorist organizations in Gaza against the State of Israel, the IDF subjects imports into the territory to inspection. Regrettably, although Gaza receives plentiful food and other supplies on a regular basis, Hamas seeks to divert millions of dollars to war efforts against Israel instead of to the needs of its own people. Legend seems oblivious to this genuine security threat to the State of Israel, tweeting “Palestinian Lives Matter” while failing to similarly publicly recognize the value of preserving Israeli lives back in May 2021 during a conflict involving missile barrages from Palestinian terrorists against the State of Israel followed by Israeli military attempts to neutralize security threats.

To suggest, as Legend does, that the IDF inspecting imports into a territory ruled by a terrorist organization is the result of a deliberate policy of discrimination resulting in the imprisonment of an entire population is a twisted presentation of recent history and current reality. As an admirer and student of the work of Martin Luther King Jr., Legend could learn from King’s balanced approach to the State of Israel and its neighbors.
ADL Exposes Dozens of Arabic Facebook Pages Dedicated to Antisemitic ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’
Arabic-language pages promoting a notorious antisemitic text fabricated in the early 20th Century have become rife on Facebook, a new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) disclosed on Wednesday.

The ADL said it had discovered “dozens of large Facebook pages or groups” promoting “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — a fabrication first published by the Okhrana, the Russian Tsarist secret police, in 1903 that lays out the plot for alleged Jewish domination of the world.

“All of these 39 pages or groups had over 100 likes or followers, and 19 of them had over 1,000,” noted the report, written by the ADL’s Washington, DC international affairs director David Weinberg. “In total, these groups and pages had been followed over 70,000 times and 34,000 likes.”

Weinberg observed that “the fact that so many Arabic-language Facebook groups and Facebook pages had been created to promote the most iconic work of Tier 1 Hate Speech against Jews in modern history suggests strongly that the platform is failing to uphold even its most basic responsibilities and stated policies when it comes to horrific hate speech against Jews across the range of languages serviced by Facebook.”
Brazil, With Its Large Jewish Community, Joins IHRA as Observer Country
Brazil joined the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) last month as an observer country, the government announced in a released statement.

The IHRA unites governments, international organizations and experts who have the common goal of combating antisemitism and preserving the memory of the Holocaust.

Brazil applied for observer country status in September and was approved on Nov. 9—the 83rd anniversary of the 1938 Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass.”

“Brazilian diplomacy will seek to work within the IHRA to promote education and research on the Holocaust, as well as to improve national policies to combat antisemitism, in the context of the Brazilian commitment to combat all forms of racism, intolerance and discrimination,” said the government.

The IHRA now consists of 35 member countries, nine observer countries and eight permanent international partners.

Brazil is home to the second largest Jewish community in Latin America and the 10th largest in the world.

Two former members of the Brazilian Foreign Service—the late diplomat Aracy de Carvalho Guimarães Rosa and late Ambassador Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas—were given the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in honor of their efforts to save hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution.
Romania makes Holocaust education mandatory in all high schools
The Romanian Senate has adopted a law that makes it mandatory for all high schools and vocational schools in the country to teach a course on the history of the Holocaust and the Jewish people.

The law that passed on Monday stipulates that the course will be taught starting in 2023. Its contents will be decided by the country’s education ministry in collaboration with the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.

In the words of Jewish lawmaker Silviu Vexler, who championed the law, the initiative aims at “countering intolerance and extremism” among youth.

The center-right National Liberal Party and the Social Democrats voted in favor of the law, together with the centrist alliance USR PLUS and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania.

The law, which was previously passed by Romania’s lower chamber, was supported by 107 senators, while 13 legislators voted against it and one abstained.
More NYC Lawmaker Support for Bagel Place Threatened by ‘Palestinian’ Antisemite
New York City Council member Linda Lee paid a visit Wednesday to a bagel place in Queens targeted last week by an antisemite.

The attacker, who claimed to be “Palestinian,” filmed himself while threatening to burn down Bagels & Co. over the Israeli flag that flies above the restaurant.

The attacker demanded that the owners take down the Israeli flags and shut down the business.

New York State Assemblyman David Weprin said he was “monitoring the situation” along with New York Police Inspector Kevin Chan at the 107 precinct.

“No matter your politics, we cannot accept this hatred in District 23 or New York City,” Lee said, adding that she visited the store’s owners “to assure them our community stands with them 100 percent.”

An estimated 200,000 Jews live in the borough of Queens.
New Survey Reveals Persistence of Antisemitic Beliefs Among German Population, Especially Far-Right Voters
Supporters of Germany’s main far-right party are more likely to subscribe to crudely antisemitic stereotypes about Jews in comparison to the rest of the country’s population, a new survey commissioned by the Central Council of Jews in Germany has revealed.

The survey, conducted by the polling firm Forsa on behalf of the Central Council, demonstrated strong agreement with antisemitic statements among supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as well as among German voters more broadly.

For example, asked whether Jews exploit German guilt over the Holocaust to “derive an advantage,” 30 percent of all respondents agreed. Amongst AfD supporters specifically, that number nearly doubled, with 59 percent expressing agreement.

More than one in five respondents concurred with the assertion that Israeli policies towards the Palestinians faithfully mirrored Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews. Twenty-one percent of the overall sample agreed with that statement, rising to 32 percent among supporters of the AfD. And when asked whether Jews exercised disproportionate influence over German politics, 24 percent of the total sample agreed; among AfD voters, the proportion in agreement rose to 50 percent.

Significantly, the majority of respondents did not recognize themselves as antisemitic. Presented with the statement “I have nothing against Jews,” 92 percent agreed. However, there was considerably less of a consensus around the issue of Zionism, with 57 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement, “I have nothing against Zionists.”
Holocaust memorial in Spain defaced by vandals
Vandals defaced a Holocaust memorial in Oviedo, Spain, puncturing and scraping the stone and steel monolith with a sharp object. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain strongly condemned the attack, discovered November 12, in a statement Monday.

“We urge the Spanish authorities to condemn such acts, to restore the damaged elements immediately, and to implement educational measures to teach tolerance, mutual understanding, and the right to be considered different,” read the statement.

“As the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights warned last week, antisemitism has increased in the 27 EU member countries and calls for a redoubling of efforts to combat hatred and prejudice against Jews,” the statement added.

The Yad Vashem Association in Spain also expressed its outrage and condemned the attack.
NJ Man Sentenced for Plot to Vandalize Black and Jewish Targets That Left Two Synagogues Defaced
A New Jersey man affiliated with an antisemitic and white supremacist hate group has been sentenced to a year and one day in prison for a campaign to vandalize Jewish and Black-owned targets, which resulted in incidents at two synagogues, the US Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Richard Tobin, 20, of Brooklawn, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted that he was a member of the hate group “The Base.” He also confirmed that in September 2019, he directed other Base members online to vandalize the minority-owned properties.

Tobin explicitly related the plan to Nazi-era atrocities and nicknamed it “Kristallnacht.” It resulted in acts of vandalism against synagogues in Wisconsin and Michigan, which were defaced with hate symbols.

Another conspirator, Yousef Omar Barasneh, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection to the vandalism at the Wisconsin synagogue.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said that Tobin’s sentence “makes clear that targeting persons owning and using property simply based on their race or religion will not be tolerated.”

Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division said Tobin “actively conspired with others to commit a crime of violence, to victimize innocent people because of who they are or how they worship. That’s what crossed a line and made it the FBI’s business.”


Owner of Nazi tattoo kit to donate items to Holocaust museum
The anonymous seller of the Nazi tattoo kit that is said to have been used on prisoners in the Auschwitz extermination camp informed the Tel Aviv District Court Thursday that he planned to bring the matter to a conclusion by donating the items to the Haifa Holocaust Museum.

The auction of the controversial items was announced by the Tzolman Auction house several weeks ago. Following outrage by Holocaust survivors, the Tel Aviv District Court temporarily halted the sale. The Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors filed a lawsuit against the auction house and the owner in an attempt to prevent the sale of the dies altogether.

During the first hearing on Tuesday, the head of the auction house, Meir Tzolman, asked for the name of the seller to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the matter. The court informed the seller's lawyers that he had eight days to make a decision with regard to the conflict over the items, which is when he decided to donate the items.

In a letter to the court, the seller explained that as someone who works in the field of Holocaust history and purchases items to keep its memory alive, he did not expect the auction to cause a storm.

The letter also stressed that all along the owner meant to sell the kits to "an individual who would then donate it to a Holocaust commemorative organization," rather than to someone unsuitable.
London’s Imperial War Museum brings the Holocaust into the light for all to see
There is a ritual that visitors often go through as they enter an exhibition on the Holocaust. They hush to a mournful silence. Their pace slows to a pilgrim’s shuffle. Their expression becomes slightly awed as they see the unthinkable and begin to wrestle with the evidence of human depravity.

These reactions are natural, conditioned by the design concepts that have understandably dominated the museums and memorials dedicated to Europe’s murdered Jews: darkness, shadows, sepia.

The Imperial War Museum in London has tried something new. By bringing the story of the Holocaust into brightly lit rooms, it has tried to illuminate and re-examine elements of the Holocaust narrative that are sometimes “misunderstood.”

“The big problem with dark spaces and Holocaust museums,” says James Bulgin, the Holocaust scholar who has curated the Holocaust Gallery from conception to completion, “is that as soon as you walk into a dark space it feels as if the narrative is leading inexorably in one direction, which was not the case.”

“It suggests that the only appropriate response is silence,” he says. “The subject is of course overwhelmingly tragic, but you want people to feel empowered to ask questions and to develop their understanding, and this is done through inquiry.”

“You also tacitly suggest that these things happened in the shadows, or in unseen dark spaces, and not in the world in which we all live,” he adds. “It pushes it into the distant past.”
When Britain Interned Jewish Refugees
My grandfather was among those who were interned on the Isle of Man in Hutchinson camp in Douglas. Not everyone there was Jewish but the government did try and house people with similar backgrounds together. Artists, musicians and authors, lawyers, scientists, mathematicians and other academics abounded in the camp and soon a free "university" was started.

Internees felt a strong sense of the injustice, especially among the Jewish detainees who had endured such suffering already in Europe before their arrival.

My grandfather arranged religious services for those who were interested and many men who had previously had little to do with anything Jewish joined in. He realized that these daily and Shabbat services gave a sense of stability to the detainees’ lives and kept their morale high when many others were sinking into depression.

My grandfather also gave classes and for many men this was when their first taste of Talmud study.

Meanwhile my grandmother, who had fearlessly harangued the Nazis in Hamburg to try and get her husband released from Sachsenhausen concentration camp, was now equally determined to get him released from internment. The government was slowly facilitating the release of many of the loyal "aliens" who had been interned, and according to family lore my grandmother enlisted the help of the Bishop of Chichester who finally got my grandfather released.

A number of his fellow Jewish detainees penned a thank you letter to my grandfather on his release, acknowledging the role he had played in guiding them and keeping their spirits up. I am sure that helping his fellow Jews, as he had all his life, helped my grandfather get through this difficult and challenging time.
Remembering the ‘Second Exodus’ on 30 November
On 29 October 1956, Lilian Abda was swimming in the Suez Canal when Egyptian soldiers arrested her. Abda was charged with trying to relay information to the enemy. ‘I was brought in my bathing suit to the police station,’ she recalls. ‘The next day they expelled me and my entire family from the country.’

Sixty-five years ago this autumn, Lilian Abda was one of 25,000 Jews kicked out by president Nasser following the Suez crisis. Nasser took his revenge on the 60,000 Jews –a quarter had already fled after 1948 – because Israel had colluded with Britain and France to invade the Sinai peninsula in an effort to stop terrorist raids into its territory.

Invoking emergency laws, Nasser set about expelling British and French subjects including Jews. They were expelled in two waves: the first were given 24 hours to leave. The second were ordered to leave the country within two to seven days with their families. The authorities then branded all Jews as Zionists, arrested them at random and interned them.

Edna Anzarut-Turner, who had a British passport, still has nightmares about her expulsion. Each member of the family was allowed one blanket, one suitcase and one Pound. Her cousin Myra and fiancé Benny were interned and taken in handcuffs from the “criminal Zionist” prison camp of Moascar, near Aboukir, to be married at the Nebi Daniel Synagogue in Alexandria. The rabbi refused to officiate until their handcuffs were removed. A huge argument ensued with the Arab guards. The handcuffs were taken off only during the wedding ceremony ; and Myra and Benny were driven to a ship leaving Egypt.

British and French nationals were not the only ones to be expelled. Clement Soffer recalls: “I was expelled at 24 hours’ notice at the age of 15, forced to give up my Egyptian nationality, falsely accused of being a spy for Israel, put on a plane with $5 in my pocket. They gave me a document stamped “Dangerous to Public Security” and told me that I could never return. I was not allowed to see my family.”
A mile from Auschwitz, restored synagogue recalls thriving Jewish life in Oswiecim
In a typical, pre-pandemic year, about 2.3 million people a year visit Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp where nearly 1 million Jews were murdered.

About 30,000 — or roughly 1% — of them also visit a nearby museum that represents the last vestige of how Jews in the area once lived.

The Auschwitz Jewish Center opened in 2000 in Oswiecim, the sleepy town less than a mile from the notorious concentration camp. It includes a museum with thousands of artifacts, a small café that also functions as a community center and a synagogue that is the only one remaining from Oswiecim’s Jewish heyday.

For centuries before the Holocaust, this town of around 40,000 situated about 30 miles east of Krakow had a large and vibrant Jewish community, with no fewer than 20 synagogues. About 8,500 of the town’s pre-Holocaust population of 14,000 was Jewish.

Now, not a single Jew lives in Oswiecim. But the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue, built in 1913 and a gathering place for the few dozen local Jews who survived the Holocaust, hosts prayer services for the visitors who depart from the typical Auschwitz itinerary and venture into town. While there is no resident rabbi, the synagogue does keep a kosher Torah scroll in its ark.

“The sort of prayer you see here, by Jewish people who had just visited Auschwitz, is often intense,” added Tomasz Kuncewicz, the center’s director, who is not Jewish. The museum was founded just a few months after the death of Oswiecim’s last remaining Jew, Szymon Klüger.
Shoah Unshowable
To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric.

So declared the philosopher Theodor Adorno in the last paragraph of his 1951 essay “Cultural Criticism and Society.” The line is surely Adorno’s most notorious utterance, and also, yanked from its original context, his most misunderstood. (Essentially, it glosses a more dialectical sentence in Walter Benjamin’s final essay, “On the Concept of History”: “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.”)

I too chose to misunderstand Adorno. In a catalog essay on Art Spiegelman’s Maus, I took it to mean that art addressing the cataclysmic trauma of Auschwitz would necessarily be barbaric—keeping in mind that the German barbarisch can also be translated as “savage,” “uncivilized,” and “brutal.” Along with Spiegelman’s funny-animal comic book (initially rejected by numerous publishers for its bad taste), I cited Tadeusz Borowski’s abrasively sardonic collection of Auschwitz memories, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Claude Lanzmann’s inordinately long (and rude) Shoah. But I had not yet encountered the most brutal, confrontational and extreme instance of post-Auschwitz art—the NO!art championed by Boris Lurie (1924-2008).

Said to have never sold a painting during his lifetime, Lurie is currently having his first American museum show at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try” is also the first contemporary art exhibition organized by the museum. But his most intense works, the NO!art collages, are conspicuously absent from the show. These savage art works, which juxtapose concentration camp images with prurient pictures culled from soft-core porn magazines, were designed to confound assimilation by the art market. One review called them “Life magazine taken to its final ultimate absurd and frightening conclusion, pain and death given no more space than pictures of Elsa Maxwell’s latest party.”

The MJH show, curated by Sara Softness, instead focuses almost exclusively on Lurie’s work during the immediate aftermath of World War II, with a sampling of paintings from the 1950s (when he was attempting to make it as a 10th Street artist), and a few of his later sculptures. In this context, Lurie’s NO!art collages are in-your-face unshowable. Their literal obscenity clearly explains their pointed omission from the exhibit.

Lurie believed he earned the right to represent his experience any way he wished. He was herded into the Riga ghetto at 16. Soon after, his entire family (save his father and an older sister in the U.S.), was murdered by the Einsatzgruppen in the Rumbula forest, along with some 25,000 other Latvian Jews. Lurie and his father survived the war in three concentration camps, including Buchenwald. They were liberated in April 1945 and arrived in New York the following year.











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