Monday, November 21, 2022

11/21 Links Pt2: Why is the religious left taking sides against Israel?; 1,000 Israeli Students Call on Harvard Crimson to Move Office from "Stolen Lands"

From Ian:

Why is the religious left taking sides against Israel?
For the old religious and evangelical left, Israel often represents Western Civilization, colonialism, and imperialism. For aging denizens of Liberation Theology, the Palestinian cause offers the narrative of a Third World people oppressed by First World wealth, technology, and cultural superiority. Israel is an ally of the United States, and from the religious left’s perspective, is an unwelcome extension of American (and British) power into the Mideast. The Palestinians, from that view, are victims of the American imperium, meriting special advocacy by concerned justice-minded American Christians.

The religious left’s animus towards Israel leads to often absurd contradictions and double standards.

Evangelical leftists relate to this narrative, often informed by their own neo-Anabaptist perspective, which is pacifist and anti-empire. Israel of course has by necessity a significant military force, much of it made possible through American aid. This rankles neo-Anabaptists who think anti-violence is the gospel’s chief theme. There is another sometimes-underlying concern for neo-Anabaptists. They are discomfited by ancient biblical Israel, with its divinely ordained kings, warrior heroes, armies, and military victories, all of which defy the neo-Anabaptist stress on God as supremely peaceful. If only unconsciously, they are inclined towards a form of Marcionism, the early church heresy that minimized the canonical authority of the Old Testament. This discomfort with the Hebrew scriptures facilitates unease with modern Israel.

The religious left’s animus towards Israel leads to often absurd contradictions and double standards, especially for a denomination like the PCUSA. It and the other mainline Protestant bodies have countless statements condemning Israel for ostensibly oppressing the Palestinians among other depredations. But they are largely silent about human rights abuses so prevalent among Israel’s Arab neighbors, including the Palestinian Authority, not to mention countless repressive regimes around the world. They ignored Hamas’s July rocket attacks on Israel. A 2011 PCUSA report affirmed calls for democracy during the Arab Spring, but such calls are rare, and it naturally focused on criticizing U.S. Mideast policy.

The PCUSA General Assembly in July did condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it devoted more verbiage to the United States and NATO having “flooded Ukraine with lethal weapons,” enriching “war profiteers—at the expense of the taxpayers, the poor and the planet,” guided by “powerful geopolitical and financial interests.” It also derided sanctions against Russia and lamented the cost to “planetary survival and social justice.”

The Religious Left descends from the Social Gospel, later radicalized by Liberation Theology. It disdains capitalism, bourgeois democracy, America, Western Civilization, and human rights regarding speech, religion, and property. But its hostility to Israel is especially pernicious, not just for its double standards, but also for its underlying disregard for a people who have been among the world’s most tormented.

Modern Israel arose from the ashes of the Holocaust. From the beginning, Israel has had to fight for its very existence. Christians should understand that opposition to Israel as a Jewish state is opposition to Israel as a nation.
John-Paul Pagano: First Principles
Antisemitism is different from most other forms of racism. In order to combat it, we need to understand what is a conspiracy theory.

It's customary to hear well-meaning people intone something along these lines: "Antisemitism and anti-black racism are part of the same fight.” In a basic sense, this is true: they are both odious forms of hatred that endanger people and corrode society. Diminishing them as much as possible is part of the same overarching defense of our civic health.

But it’s a platitude that papers over essential differences between two opposite forms of racism. Few human phenomena can be described with an algorithm. There are always ambiguities and exceptions. Nevertheless, it’s heuristically valid to arrange racism into two categories: a caste-oriented, “down-punching” form and a conspiracist, “up-punching” form.

By and large, anti-black racism constructs an underclass that the racist regards as inferior, to be segregated, plundered, and exploited. In the main, Antisemitism views the Jews as a preternaturally powerful, evil elite that plunders and exploits the Antisemite—and the broader society he seeks to awaken to the struggle. In the ugliest of ironies, however much he rails about Jewish degeneracy, the Antisemite invests the Jews with traits and abilities that make them seem diabolically superior.
Jonathan Tobin: The ADL is waging war on free speech, not on Trump or Twitter
Yet the ADL has shown a dangerous propensity for Internet censorship—an authoritarian impulse that it usually veils behind a desire to quell the rising tide of antisemitism. Its consultations with the PayPal online payment system, for instance, were geared toward demonetizing anyone, not just far-right extremists, whose opinions were out of favor with the left.

The attempt to sink Twitter by persuading advertisers and users to exit it goes beyond those efforts to harness Big Tech clout to enforce woke orthodoxy on the Web.

What the ADL is now demanding is to set a standard by which no social-media platform or Internet service can survive if it enables conservatives to participate on an equal footing with liberals.

Censored or uncensored, Twitter—or any similar company—will always be something of a sewer, as it prizes angry discourse and discourages thoughtful exchanges. But if the ADL and others succeed, a precedent will be set to ensure that no platform encouraging debate from both ends of the spectrum can survive.

The consequence of the above—such as the Biden administration’s use of social- media companies to squelch COVID-19 debate—will be an even more divided country and greater civil strife.

Just as important, it will create an atmosphere in which free speech is not merely under assault, as it is on college campuses and other places that have been completely captured by the left. It will mean we are moving closer to a society where the norm will be to silence dissent on all important topics.

It is already a disgrace that the ADL treats partisan advocacy as more important than its core mission of fighting antisemitism. But its effort to sink Twitter makes clear that its real goal is to shut up those who don’t toe its political line.

Think what you like about Trump or Musk. But this latest stand shows that there is no greater foe of democracy than the ADL under Greenblatt.

Tom Stoppard’s Latest Play Is an Angry Masterpiece about Anti-Semitism
Best known to American audiences as the screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love, the celebrated British playwright Tom Stoppard was eighty-three when his most recent work premiered on London’s West End. Leopoldstadt tells the story of an extended Viennese Jewish family, and its members’ various Gentile spouses, during the first half of the 20th century. Jonathan Leaf reviews the play, which recently made its Broadway debut, praising it as a “remarkable drama.”

Leopoldstadt is a triumph of the playwriting art. It’s also a triumph of marketing. That’s because its advertising and publicity campaign has sold the public on the idea that it’s a multigenerational saga.

It is that, but only secondarily. To a much greater degree, it’s a ferociously angry Holocaust drama. . . . Although Leopoldstadt has moments of levity and even a brief bit of farce, it is darker and grimmer than past efforts to depict the Shoah such as Schindler’s List and Europa, Europa. Stoppard has said that he thinks the word play should convey the spirit of a stage presentation; a night at the theater ought to be fanciful and fun. But Leopoldstadt is as lighthearted as a sermon by Jonathan Edwards and as relaxed as a vacation to Putin’s Moscow.

The music foreshadows the dire fates due to befall but a few of those present. This hellishness will be visited not only upon the adults but also the children. One of these, fascinated as he is by soldiering, will die in the First World War. Another returns as a one-eyed amputee. Much worse, however, is to come, and in an epilogue set in 1955 we learn the despairing ends of those with whom we have just spent the past two-plus hours. In between, we see [one older family member] being humiliated by a scornful fin-de-siècle dragoon and Nazi officials forcing the various family members to kneel and beg that they may be permitted to go on a little longer before they are shipped off to Auschwitz in cattle cars.

The play’s title refers to Vienna’s old Jewish ghetto—Leopoldstadt—and the suggestion is that the ease and comfort its deracinated characters think they have attained outside it is illusory. They are no freer outside and in greater danger.
Palestinian Foreign Minister in hot water for visit to Berlin's Holocaust memorial

1,000 Israeli Students Call on Harvard Crimson to Move Office from "Stolen Lands"
Over 1,000 Israeli students signed a letter to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard University's newspaper, calling for the editorial board to move its office off of lands "occupied" from indigenous tribes, in a move to highlight the Crimson's hypocrisy in supporting the BDS movement in an April editorial.

Students for Justice in America claimed: "The land that the Harvard Crimson operates [on] territory that belongs to the Massachusett (indigenous) people. This land, like much other territory in the Boston and Cambridge regions, was taken from these native tribes during its earliest conquest by French and British colonialists and then the American military."

"Accordingly, we, the Students for Justice in America, bluntly demand that the Harvard Crimson, its woke editorial board and staff immediately evacuate the 14 Plympton Street, Cambridge, property it occupies at Harvard and return it to the Massachusett people....Justice and morality must begin at home."
Civil Rights Inquiry Filed Against University of California Over ‘Discriminatory’ Berkeley ‘Ban’ on Zionist Speakers
A proposed ban excluding supporters of Zionism from speaking at student-hosted events at University of California, Berkeley is being challenged before the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

On Sunday, two lawyers filed a complaint with the federal government against Berkeley Law School over a August 2022 decision of at least 9 student groups to adopt a bylaw excluding Zionist speakers.

The complaint, filed by attorneys Arsen Ostrovsky and Gabriel Groisman, called on the Department of Education to investigate the university for “profound and deep-seated antisemitic discrimination” under violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in federally-funded programs.

“The groups that have implemented this discriminatory policy attempt to hide their discrimination against the Jewish community by excluding “Zionists,” the two lawyers said in a statement Sunday. “This thin veil is completely transparent as Zionism is an integral, indispensable and core element of the Jewish identity.”

The complaint also called on the federal government to compel UC Berkeley to adopt the widely endorsed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and requires the university to create a training program, to educate about antisemitism, its history and modern manifestations.

Proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine at Berkeley Law as part of a resolution endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, the measure was endorsed by eight other student groups. It has been criticized by lawmakers, Jewish groups and human rights organizations for posing a threat to academic and intellectual freedom.

In October, UC Berkeley law faculty, working with the Academic Engagement Network, a nonprofit that promotes free expression and academic freedom on college campuses issued a statement affirming “the principle of free and open speech at the law school.”

“For many Jews, Zionism is a core component of their identity and ethnic and ancestral heritage,” it said. “As an educational institution we hope that the student groups that have now endorsed a ‘No Zionists speakers’ pledge will engage in dialogue on these issues.”
Columbia professor’s attempt to delegitimize Jews backfires—again
“European Jews, like European Christians, are converts to these strange Palestinian religions,” declared Columbia University professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history Joseph Massad on Nov. 11 in Washington, D.C. This well-known antisemite’s assertion that Jews in the Western diaspora have no ethnic ties to the historic Jewish nation was merely one howler among many in his anti-Israel keynote address to the Palestine Center’s annual conference.

His talk, entitled “Jewish Self-Determination in the Land of the Palestinians,” is part of the decades-long attempt by academics to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state by denying that modern Jews are the descendants of the ancient Hebrews. What they lack in facts, goodwill, and honest scholarship, they try (and fail) to make up for in hatred and vitriol.

In this case, Massad promoted the discredited theory that Ashkenazi Jews in Europe are the descendants of converts to Judaism. “If the European Jewish converts somehow claim to be descendants of the early Jews of Palestine, then why are European Christians also not claiming that they are descendants of the early Palestinian Christians,” he analogized. The obvious answer is that Christianity is a proselytizing religion transmitted via baptism, not lineage, and its spread among gentiles (non-Jews) throughout the Mediterranean world meant that its adherents represented myriad genetic pools: Greek, Roman, Germanic, Celtic and more. Massad also failed to explain why Jews throughout history have endured so much repression, including Nazi genocide, if their identities as Jews stemmed from religious practices alone.

Moreover, roughly half of Israel’s Jewish population does not descend from the Jewish diaspora in Europe and the Americas. Rather, these Mizrahi Jews descend from Jews who fled Muslim repression in the Middle East and North Africa after Israel’s creation in 1948, a fact that completely debunks Massad’s European colonial narrative about Israel. Massad offered no analysis of whether these Jews, who have their own indigenous history of Zionism, simply hail from converts in the Middle East.

Larry’s Letters: Palestinian Freedom is a Fight for Black and Brown Liberation” The Daily Northwestern
Nov. 20, 2022

Letters to the Editor
The Daily Northwestern

Dear Editor,
Let’s examine the geographical meaning of “from the river to the sea”. This is the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This describes the area now known as Israel. Making it free begs the question, free of what? The Palestinian know. “From the river to the sea we will be free”, means all of Israel is stolen land and must be freed from the Jews.

If Israel is freed, what will happen to the Jews? Hamas has an innovative idea what to with the Jews. Article seven of the Hamas Charter calls for the murder of all the Jews worldwide not just in Israel. One assumes that SJP that was created by pro-Hamas professors shares this imperative, or if it doesn’t, it isn’t far off.

Whether Northwestern should permit political calls to destroy the Jewish state is up to the Northwestern community. But if it chooses to permit this speech, I hope it is not accompanied by the denigration of Jews. Frankly I don’t think you can have one without the other.

Those who claim that the phrase from the river to the sea is about black and brown liberation are obfuscating big time.

Sincerely yours,

Larry Shapiro,
Black Hebrews and the roots of antisemitic hate speech

Black Hebrew Israelites demonstrate in support of Kyrie Irving
Members of the Black Hebrew Israelite group protested on Sunday night outside of the Barclays Center in support of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. The basketball player had just returned to the team following an eight-game suspension for promoting an antisemitic movie on social media and then failing to unequivocally denounce Jew-hatred.

Local media reported that some protesters wore shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Israel United in Christ,” as others called for a boycott of Nike, which suspended its relationship with Irving amid the controversy.

Footage posted to social media appeared to capture dozens of Black Hebrew Israelites marching to the arena ahead of the game.

Irving on Saturday apologized “deeply” for promoting the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” and thereafter failing to repudiate antisemitism. “I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew,” he said.

“The difficult aspect is just processing all this, understanding the power of my voice, the influence I have. I am no one’s idol, but I am a human being that wants to make [an] impact and change,” he added.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, “The Black Hebrew Israelite movement is a fringe religious movement that rejects widely accepted definitions of Judaism and asserts that people of color are the true children of Israel.”

Toronto Star Columnist Shree Paradkar Wrongly Claims IHRA Definition of Antisemitism Seeks to Stifle Criticism of Israel
Vancouver recently voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

The IHRA definition, which was formally created in 2016 by dozens of countries, with the support of mainstream Jewish communities – of all political stripes and from around the world – seeks to clarify what antisemitism is, so it can be effectively countered.

Approving the legally non-binding definition aims to create an additional “practical and educational tool” in the fight against antisemitism, according to Vancouver city council’s motion, which was brought by Councillor Sarah Kirby-Young.

In the days following the adoption, some voices in the news media have mischaracterized and misrepresented the nature of the IHRA definition.

In one particularly egregious example, in a November 18 column in the Toronto Star entitled: “Why definition of antisemitism has become a polarizing issue,” columnist Shree Paradkhar inaccurately describes the IHRA definition and also gives a prominent platform to opponents of the definition, who similarly misrepresent it.

For example, citing one of the illustrative examples used by IHRA to demonstrate contemporary examples of antisemitism – that claiming the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour – Paradkhar writes that the definition “is being quickly used to label criticism of the state of Israel as antisemitic.”

She also rhetorically asks “why is it that we can criticize Canada and other countries for their racism, but any such criticism of Israel can be too easily dismissed – and penalized when this definition is adopted by governments or other institutions – as antisemitic?”

Such concerns are a red herring.

Nowhere in the IHRA definition does it seeks to penalize criticism of Israel. In fact, the definition says the exact opposite, stressing that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
HonestReporting on ILTV: CNN Severs Ties With '#TeamHitler' Producer
With our exposé on antisemitic CNN producer Idris Muktar Ibrahim making headlines around the world, ILTV Israel News invited Akiva Van Koningsveld to discuss HonestReporting's efforts to hold biased journalists accountable.

In the five-minute segment, Van Koningsveld explains how we succeeded in getting CNN to cut ties with their longtime freelance producer. He also called on media outlets to shine a light on anti-Jewish hate crimes, instead of abetting them.

A Decade Later, Media Libel on Ethiopian-Israelis Still Waiting to be Updated
At the end of 2012 / beginning of 2013, Israel was rocked by media reports that Israeli officials had told Ethiopian women waiting to immigrate to the Jewish state that they would have to submit to birth control injections to complete the immigration process. These recurring injections reportedly continued even after the immigrants had landed in Israel.

Following the media outcry over these allegations and the subsequent political firestorm, the Israeli State Comptroller opened an investigation into these claims. After a three-year investigation, the Comptroller’s report found no evidence that any female Ethiopian immigrant had been compelled to take birth control either prior to their immigration or after they had become Israeli citizens.

As one observer noted, the claims about an official program of coercive birth control might have stemmed from language-based misunderstandings between these new immigrants and medical personnel or inappropriate pressure placed by some medical practitioners on their patients. Nevertheless, this does not add up to evidence for an official program by the Israeli government to reduce births among the immigrant Ethiopian Jewish community.

When the first reports about the allegations emerged in the Israeli press, a number of international media outlets picked up the story. Some published roughly the same information that was circulating in Israel while others, like The Independent, embellished the story by falsely claiming that Israel had “admitted” to administering birth control without the patients’ consent.

However, as noted by the Israellycool blog, these media outlets never updated their stories to include the Comptroller’s findings or published updated articles to set the record straight.

In particular, Israellycool points to The Guardian, The Independent, and Forbes Magazine as having never updated their initial stories on this matter.
Man who allegedly threatened NYC synagogue is Jewish, kin of a Holocaust survivor: Lawyer
One of two men accused of plotting to attack New York City synagogues is Jewish and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, his attorney claimed in court Saturday.

Matthew Mahrer, 22, was ordered held on $150,000 bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of criminal possession of a weapon though his lawyer asked that he be released on his own recognizance.

“There are a lot of questions here,” defense attorney Brandon Freycint said of Mahrer, who has allegedly been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, anxiety and ADHD.

“My client is of Jewish heritage. He resides with his parents and his grandfather is actually a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor — and my client is his part-time caretaker,” Freycinet said.

Mahrer and pal Christopher Brown were busted Friday on the Long Island Rail Road with brown carrying weapons and a Nazi armband, according to police sources.

Cops seized a loaded handgun with an extended magazine and a bulletproof vest from Mahrer’s Upper West Side apartment that he and a buddy allegedly planned to use in a synagogue attack, prosecutors said.

New Democratic MPP Joel Harden under fire for antisemitic comments
An Ottawa New Democratic MPP has been forced to apologize for making antisemitic comments.

But Jewish groups are wondering how Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) is still being allowed to remain in the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park.

Harden (Ottawa Centre) said Sunday he “would like to apologize unreservedly to the Jewish community for comments I made during an interview with the Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine.”

“I spoke in a way that perpetrated an antisemitic stereotype towards Jewish neighbours,” he said in a written apology.

On Saturday, Harden was on Twitter claiming he wasn’t being antisemitic.

Under pressure from the party, he changed his tune Sunday.

“I regret my choice of words and sincerely apologize to the Jewish community. You have my commitment that it won’t happen again and I will continue to work with Jewish leaders who can help me understand antisemitism,” said the two-term MPP.

In the August 2021 forum, Harden said he has “asked many questions of Jewish neighbours here about how much longer we should put up with this.”

“If I were to name ... the single greatest threat, the single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East, it is unquestionably the state of Israel and the way in which they feel absolutely no shame in defying international law, doing whatever they want,” the New Democrat said last year.

WJRO welcomes Lithuania’s move to partially compensate Holocaust victims
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) on Sunday welcomed Lithuanian legislation addressing Holocaust survivors’ restitution claims, the organization announced in a statement.

The new legislation, introduced by Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, would provide over $37 million as symbolic compensation to private claimants with respect to heirless Jewish property, and to the Lithuanian Good Will Foundation.

In 2011, the Foundation for Lithuanian Jewish Heritage established the Good Will Foundation to distribute the more than $36 million in funds provided by the Lithuanian government pursuant to legislation passed that year. While that payment represented only partial value of the properties, it provided much needed funds to support Jewish communal life in Lithuania, restored several Jewish heritage sites and offered modest payments to needy survivors, according to WJRO.

“Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s proposal is an important step to providing a measure of justice to Lithuanian Holocaust survivors and their families for the horrors they suffered during World War II and its aftermath,” said the statement.

“We look forward to the opportunity to review this new legislation that would continue the process of property restitution and support Jewish life in Lithuania,” it added.
The Revival of Sicilian Jewry
Sicily was home to some of the first Jewish communities in Western Europe, likely founded before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Then the island’s Jews, like many of its residents at the time, were Greek speakers, and they remained so for centuries. At the end of the first millennium, Sicilian Jews enjoyed close proximity to Bari and Otranto—great centers of rabbinic scholarship on the southern part of the Italian mainland. Diana Furchtgott-Roth reports on Sicilian Jewry’s recent revival, and the extinction that preceded it:
Jews in Sicily celebrated traditional Sabbath services for the first time in 500 years last month when Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington, DC delivered a Torah to the newly established synagogue in Catania. Having been expelled from Spanish territory, which then included Sicily and southern Italy, by Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon in 1492, many Jews fled. Those who remained were compelled to convert to Catholicism. But Herzfeld’s visit changed the trajectory of Jewish history in Sicily.

Located on the top floor of the city-owned castle of Leucatia, the new synagogue has a capacity of about 100 and suits its setting perfectly. Its floor-to-ceiling doors open to a large terrace with views of the sea to one side and views of Mount Etna, the volcano with its smoking plumes, to the other. Windows opposite the doors admit a constant sea breeze.

Rabbis from three countries officiated at the October 28 transfer of the Torah to Catania’s synagogue, and people came from as far away as Uruguay, Israel, and America, as well as from all over Italy, to witness and participate in the historic event. Some Sicilians are discovering their Jewish roots and welcomed the opportunity to learn about Judaism and connect with their religious community. A handful have even converted to Judaism. In stark contrast to Sicily’s former persecution of Jews, Catania’s authorities facilitated the dedication of the new synagogue and provided a visible police force to protect the Jewish worshipers.
‘Money Time!’ Floyd Mayweather Spotted on Surprise Visit to Jerusalem
Famous American boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. turned grocery shopping into a show for Israelis who happened to be at the popular Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem over the weekend.

Pictures and videos posted on social media show the boxing star casually walking through the streets of the Old city surrounded by fans, who are offering Mayweather advice on the best shawarma in town.

Media learned that the boxer, who officially retired from the sport in 2017, arrived in Israel on Thursday from Dubai, where he had a fight with YouTube star “Deji.” Saturday evening, Mayweather posted a picture of himself at the market trying to make his way through a crowd of excited admirers.

Later on Sunday, it was him who was cheering for other sportsmen. Mayweather attended Tel Aviv Derbi – a basketball match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The boxer, who won 15 major world championships throughout his career, is known as one of the richest athletes of all time. His fortune is estimated at $1.2 billion earning him his nickname “Money.”

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