Wednesday, March 15, 2023

From Ian:

John Podhoretz: The Mess in Israel
For much of the Israeli right, and especially for the intellectuals of the Israeli right, the Supreme Court issue has been a foremost concern for 25 years. And appropriately so. Thus it stood to reason that “judicial reform” legislation that reasserts Knesset primacy—which, in a counterpoint to the American system, features an “override” clause that would allow parliament to overturn a Supreme Court decision—would be taken up immediately.

But they made the mistake most advocates and activists make when it comes to matters of long standing that have consumed them, which is, they found it hard to see what their efforts would look like from the outside to people who haven’t been anywhere near as focused.

For one thing, the courts in general are a particularly sensitive issue at this moment because the newly returned prime minister is under indictment. As it happens, I think the cases brought against Netanyahu are garbage, but that doesn’t matter. If Knesset primacy is achieved, that would allow the new government to push through legislation postponing the cases against Netanyahu until he is out of office. And so, any efforts by the government to argue against the street protests against judicial reform seem compromised by a severe conflict of interest.

Second, while the Knesset should (in my view) have this primacy—at least until Israel hunkers down and actually writes itself a functional constitution—the legislation now moving through the parliament is strictly majoritarian. By which I mean, it would take only 61 votes to overturn a court ruling.

From the moment the street protests began, everyone I know who is sympathetic to the right’s view was saying the solution to the crisis would be to announce a change in the “override” proposal to require some kind of supermajority that would at least be greater than the 64 seats currently held by the coalition. That would focus the minds and limit the arrogance of the Supreme Court when it came to their taste for overreach. And it would keep the Knesset from acting as though anything it does is legal by default—since pretty much any piece of legislation that passes even by a single vote could be upheld by the same voting pattern if brought up a second time after a Court overturn.

The unanswerable question is whether a redrafting of the law to feature some kind of supermajority in the early days of the protests would have quieted the street action. I can see arguments on both sides. But it’s certainly the case that the judicial reforms as they are (at this writing) constituted have kept the government on the back foot and on the defensive, which just makes the protesters taste the blood of their enemies in the water and only encourages them to continue.

So that’s my explanation for what’s been going on in Israel. I have no idea where this goes now, so don’t ask me. Though you probably will.

Time for candid compromise - opinion
Aharon Barak’s “everything is justiciable” philosophy transformed Israel’s judicial system in the 1990s. Barak created rules of law that have no counterpart in most if not all of the democratic world. For example, judges in Israel cannot be removed by the legislature, only by other judges and any government action declared unreasonable by the Court is considered illegal.

Such unrestrained judicial activism is largely based on the judges’ best judgment and internal moral compass but not necessarily on the laws of the land. That results in almost unlimited judicial authority and ambiguity where clarity is crucial.

The court’s lack of clarity is coupled with a lack of consistency. For example, in May 1999, when the right-wing government in Israel decided to close the Orient House (the PLO’s headquarters in Jerusalem), an urgent petition was filed and Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner decided that the step was unreasonable because general elections were only months away. And yet, five days before the 2022 general elections, after an urgent petition was filed against an agreement, signed by a left-wing government, yielding areas of what were claimed to be Israel’s territorial waters to Lebanon and the control of Hezbollah, the Supreme Court led by Ester Hayut decided that was reasonable.

An overriding principle of the proposed reform is that laws drafted by the legislators (i.e. the Knesset) can be interpreted by the courts but not drafted by them and that national policy should be determined by the Knesset, as the representatives of the people.

There is little hope for conciliation with reckless politicians and former generals who call for civil war and blood in the streets. There should be no negotiation with those who want to burn down the house. But there is plenty of room for candid compromise with concerned Israeli citizens who have hope and still see “Hatikva” as our national anthem.

Regardless of how the current crisis began, it is important to realize we are, indeed, in a crisis. If managed appropriately, it will enhance the probability for agreeable and effective change.

An agreement is within reach. One amendment to the proposed reform that can relieve concerns is that Supreme Court judges appointed by the new judicial appointment committee will not hear old criminal cases, including the one being heard against the prime minister for the past three years. These cases will be heard by currently sitting Supreme Court judges.

Change is critical and compromise is possible. The people, by means of their elected representatives in the Knesset, can and should work it out now. Let’s agree on how to enhance the proposed legal reform and not how to postpone or cancel it.
Think tank behind Israel's judicial overhaul calls for compromise

Israeli judicial reform bill passes first major hurdle despite massive protests
On Tuesday's "Wake Up America," Israel's controversial judicial reform bill has passed its first major hurdle despite massive protests. Supporters of the bill state that it shifts power back to the democratically elected Knesset. NEWSMAX's Daniel Cohen reports.

Israel’s Tech Resistance Took Their Money, and Put It Where?
One highly effective doomsday weapon deployed by the opposition to the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms is the threat of removing large sums of money from Israel. This self-inflicted form of BDS has been orchestrated in large by what came to be known as Mecha’at HaHitechistim, or the High Tech Workers Resistance, who argued that the reforms, if passed, will make Israel’s economy too volatile to merit robust investments in the “startup nation.” The self-fulfilling nature of this prophecy is part of what has made it so effective: As threats to pull money out of Israel destabilize the economy, critics of the reforms can rightly argue that the economy is being destabilized and get more foreign economists and tech investors to express their fears of economic destabilization, which in turn creates an even more negative economic climate, which hits ordinary Israelis in the wallet for voting the wrong way.

Naturally enough, where high tech resisters saw their threats as saving democracy, critics saw them as rich people who were holding the government hostage by threatening to bankrupt the country unless the anti-reformist demands were met. Both sides traded heated accusations. Now, because Israel’s greatest natural resource is irony, comes a new twist on the tale, one that begins, again naturally enough, with a question: Where did the money go?

Many of the Hitechistim who heeded the call to boycott Israel took their shekels offshore. According to reports, at least 50 Israeli startups moved at least $4 billion out of the country since the protests began. Some of that money went into Silicon Valley Bank, which collapsed last week.

Andrew Cuomo Urges Progressives To Passionately Embrace Israel
Former governor Andrew Cuomo may not be one of the Chosen, but that's not stopping him from giving the State of Israel a big wet kiss. The New York Democrat on Monday announced he is spearheading a group called Progressives for Israel. "It's time for our officials to condemn anti-Semitism not just with their words, but with their actions," said Cuomo in a video shared by a Jewish Insider reporter. And though the legendary politician has yet to specify what needs to be done, those familiar with his tactics expect his actions to be swift, firm, and perhaps unexpected.

"You can't denounce anti-Semitism but waver on Israel's right to exist and defend itself," said Cuomo, who stepped down from office in 2021 to spend more time with his family. He then urged progressives to take a more hands-on approach: "It is time to turn on the lights. … And I'm going to call the question for Democrats. Do you stand with Israel or do you stand against Israel, because silence is not an option?"—at least with regard to the Jewish state.

The ex-governor is clearly tired of progressives groping for answers to the Israel question. And now he is going to effectively stiff them. By contrast, Cuomo has never shrunk in the face of anti-Semitism. And when it comes to a crisis, there's probably no other politician who can do a better job of identifying the source of tension and massaging that tension until it is relieved.

Israeli officials have yet to comment on this new initiative, though it seems to have rubbed some the wrong way. Critics say the ex-governor's presence is both unhelpful and unwanted. But unwanted advances will not stop Andrew Cuomo, at least when it comes to wrapping his arms around Israel in a loving hug. And those progressives who resist him may very well find out the hard way that he means business. When it comes to Israel.

London Centre Study of Contemporary Antisemitism: Tami Peterson; Perpetrator antisemitism in the Holocaust: microhistories.
Mining Microhistories: Towards an Analytical Model of Perpetrator Antisemitism in Eastern Europe During the Holocaust.

In his book Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen presented a German-specific form of what he called "eliminationist antisemitism" as a primary cause of the Holocaust. There were a number of sharp critiques of this analysis and there were alternative more "intentionalist" explanations, such as that offered by Christopher Browning in his book Ordinary Men, which focused more on individual psychology.

T?hese responses to Goldhagen changed the way in which antisemitism was analyzed in Holocaust Studies. More scholars began to focus on multicausal factors that occurred at the microhistorical level. These microhistories began to proliferate in Holocaust Studies and were part of the "spatial turn" that mixed geographical analysis with analysis of behaviour. Many of these studies focused on very local events and the people involved in them whether victims, perpetrators or bystanders. The collapse of the Soviet Union opened up ever more documentation to scholars from the zone of some of the most intense killings of the Holocaust, in Eastern Europe. These new microhistories offer a potentially rich source of previously undiscovered motivations and behaviour of individual perpetrators, which includes antisemitic beliefs and attitudes. While not necessarily the original intent of these studies, there is an important amount of data included in these microhistories.

How might we be able to mine this data to uncover the impact of individual antisemitic attitudes in some of the most intense zones of killing? How can we use newer geographical and microhistorical approaches to the study of the Holocaust along with newer methods for analyzing antisemitism,to build models to help uncover this information? What do these newly discovered accounts add to our understanding?

Tami Peterson is a current PhD Candidate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gratz College in the Untied States. She holds a Master of Research (MRes) degree in Social and Political Theory and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Politics, Philosophy and History from Birkbeck, University of London. She is LGBTQ, a member of the US Democratic Party, former member of the British Labour Party and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

London Centre Study of Contemporary Antisemitism: Adi Schwartz; "Dreyfus in Babylonia" - the 1948 show trial of Shafiq Adas in Iraq.
Shafiq Adas, considered the wealthiest Jew in Iraq, was hanged outside his Basra mansion on September 23, 1948, after a kangaroo court found him guilty of treason and aiding the "Zionist enemy." His execution sent shockwaves throughout the millennia-old Jewish community in Iraq, and is mentioned together with the 1941 pogrom of the Farhud as a main reason for the hurried 1950-1951 Jewish exodus from Iraq. Adas' tragic story and its significance – the deliberate targeting of a prominent Jew as a scapegoat by the government – is hardly known both in Israel and around the world. As a nasty academic trend is gaining strength, denying and minimizing anti-Jewish sentiments and actions in Arab-dominated countries, the Adas' affair reminds us that Middle Eastern Jews, just as anywhere else, suffered from discrimination and persecution, and eventually had to flee their birth countries. At a time when antisemitic tropes in the West are used against the Jewish State, accusing it of being "white," "colonialist," and "imperialist," the Adas afair could serve as a strong rebuttal of the anti-Zionist narrative and remind us that Jews are native to the Middle East, and that it was not "Ashkenazi European Zionism" that ruined a fictitious Jewish-Muslim harmony.

Adi Schwartz is a researcher, lecturer and author, focusing on issues relating to Jewish and Israeli history, and to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the co-author, together with Dr. Einat Wilf, of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace (St. Martin's Press, 2020).

Schwartz is an expert on two of his main research topics - the history of Jews from Arab countries and the Palestinian refugee problem. He wrote his PhD dissertation at the department of Political Studies in Bar-Ilan University on the Arab-Israeli conflict (confirmation expected June 2022). He holds a BA in History from Tel Aviv University, and an MA (with distinction) in Political Studies from Bar-Ilan University. He is a Fellow at the Center for International Communications in Bar-Ilan University and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP).

Rob Rinder's new Israel documentary is a very stressful watch
The Holy Land and Us: Our Untold Stories BBC 2 ★★★★☆

Well, that was a stressful watch. As a Zionist, the words ‘Israel’ and ‘BBC’ may hardly inspire faith, but this BBC Two documentary has mostly managed to achieve something of a minor miracle; taking a perennially contentious subject, the creation of Israel and the displacement of the Arab population, and fulfil all obligations of impartiality. Football personalities take note.

The Holy Land and Us: Our Untold Stories may well upset some people on both sides of the historical divide - usually a sign of doing something right - with its cleverness rooted in its simultaneous exploration of the two dominant narratives that expound Israel’s creation myth, one of exaltation and one of tragedy.

The stories told here are not really untold to anyone who’s read a few books on this matter, but they are definitively personal to the ‘Us’ of the title though, us being various British people with family history in the region, who in ‘Who do you think you are?’ mode take us with them on their travels exploring the details of half-remembered lore.

Most recognisable of the bunch and providing half of voiceover duties is Robert Rinder, whose Jewish mother’s concern for the entire enterprise somewhat encapsulates the post-war British Jewish attitude of ‘Don’t make a fuss!’ - a fear ever more born out these last years with antisemites more and more resorting to Israel as their cudgel of choice. Rinder weathers the risk though as he follows his grandfather’s cousin of the same name, whose path after Auschwitz took him east to an embryonic country. Then British-Palestinian actor and writer Sarah Agha retraces her father’s journey to the village he and his family fled in 1948, a village which no longer exists.

As we go back and forth, along with Daniel who discovers his dad helped secure Israel’s survival in the War of Independence, and Shereen whose grandmother survived a stain of the same time, the massacre by Irgun militia at Deir Yassin, perhaps the only connection we can find between all these individuals and the peoples they represent, is the strength of emotion elicited.
Guardian peddles false 'Deir Yassin Massacre' narrative
The Guardian’s Jack Seal published a review of the multi-part BBC series about Israel and the Palestinians (“The Holy Land and Us review – this taboo-busting look at Israel and Palestine isn’t afraid of controversy”, March 15). The BBC describes the series as one which “follows co-presenters Rob Rinder and Sarah Agha, along with four other families of Jewish and Palestinian heritage, as they explore how their families’ histories were impacted by the founding of the state of Israel in 1948”.

However, the review pepetuates one of the Palestinian narratives about the 1948-49 war uncritically accepted by many media outlets:
The other Briton on the trip, Shereen from Leicestershire, has a close connection to an even more notorious event in 1948: the massacre at the village of Deir Yassin, in what is now a quiet suburb of Jerusalem. Twenty-two members of her family were killed.

However, the “Deir Yassin Massacre”, based on the allegation that over 100 Palestininians, mostly civilians, were raped, tortured and brutally murdered by Zionist forces in April 1948, which is often a rallying cry of Palestinian terrorists committing atrocities against Israeli civilians, is largely a myth.

Professor Eliezer Tauber, who founded Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies, argues in his book, The Massacre That Never Was?, which includes 100 pages of Arab, Israeli, and British sourcing, that 61 of the 84 Arabs whose circumstances of death were ascertained “were killed under battle conditions” and that there’s no evidence of rape or torture.
Roger Waters Announces Legal Action as ‘Antisemitic’ Concert Tour of Germany Faces Growing Opposition
The former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters has announced that he is pursuing legal action against the “unconstitutional” decision of a German city council to cancel his May 28 concert after it cited his alleged status “one of the world’s best-known antisemites” as the reason.

A statement released by Waters’ management company on Wednesday pledged that the singer would “fight back” to defend his “freedom of speech,” asserting that the bid to cancel the singers’ appearances in Germany as part of his “This is Not A Drill 2023” tour was “unconstitutional.”

The statement noted both the cancelation of Waters’ appearance in Frankfurt and the moves currently underway in Munich to prevent his May 21 date in the Bavarian capital from going ahead.

“As a result of this unilateral, politically motivated action, Mr Waters has instructed his lawyers to immediately take all necessary steps to overturn this unjustifiable decision to ensure that his fundamental human right of freedom of speech is protected and that all of those who wish to see him perform, are free to do so in Frankfurt, Munich and in any other city in any other country,” the statement declared.

The statement bemoaned what it called “unconstitutional actions” based upon “the false accusation that Roger Waters is antisemitic, which he is not.”

In its explanation of its decision to cancel Waters’ concert at the city’s Festhalle venue, the Frankfurt council highlighted those aspects of Waters’ activities that have rung alarm bells elsewhere in Germany, such as his backing for the campaign to subject the State of Israel to a regime of “boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)” as a prelude to its elimination as a sovereign state, and for his role in pressuring other artists not to perform in Israel. It also highlighted the use of antisemitic imagery in Waters’ past concerts, including a balloon shaped like a pig and embossed with a Star of David and various corporate logos.

A supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Waters’ recent activities have included a Feb. 8 appearance at the UN Security Council. Invited to address the body by the Russian mission to the UN, Waters delivered a rambling speech in which he claimed to be speaking on behalf of the world’s “voiceless majority” while denouncing Ukraine’s democratic government as “provocateurs.”
NUS opens conference with antisemitism apology after damning report
The National Union of Students (NUS) has opened its national conference with an apology to Jewish students following the damning independent report into antisemitism published earlier this year.

At its annual meeting of delegates representing students across the UK, the leadership of the student organisation apologised for the "truly shocking" Jew-hatred detailed by Rebecca Tuck KC, adding that they are "genuinely, truly sorry that it has taken us so long to address antisemitism head-on".

The students leaders pledged to ensure that Jewish students "never have to fight this fight on your own again".

The national student body is meeting for a two-day conference in Harrogate this week, with students representing universities across the country attending to discuss the widespread challenges facing university students in the UK, notably the cost of living crisis.

But ahead of discussing those issues, Chloe Field, Vice President for Higher Education, and Nehaal Bajwa, Vice President for Liberation and Equality, stood up in front of delegates to address the findings of Rebecca Tuck's report that branded the student union a "hostile environment" for Jewish students.

The damning report (which can be read in full here) found that the NUS had consistently ignored and dismissed antisemitism, often demoting complaints because of bias over the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Ms Tuck detailed accounts from Jewish students who felt “reduced to being only ‘the Jew’ in the room” and that they were “treated as a pariah at NUS events”.
'Honour the Palestinian martyrs' chanted outside Downing Street
A new chant to “honour the martyrs” was employed on Friday’s “Emergency protest for Palestine” outside Downing Street in London.

A notice for the protest circulated on social media on Thursday. Former NUS president Shaima Dallali, who was reportedly sacked last year following an investigation into antisemitism found significant breaches of NUS policies retweeted information about the event.

One chant shouted by the three or four dozen people present seemed to support the actions of Palestinian militants who have died or been arrested following terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

It said: “When I say power to the martyrs in Jenin, you say power to you,” And, “When I say power to the martyrs in Nablus, you say power to you,”

“When I say power to armed resistance, you say power to you,”

“To all those in prison, we honour you,”

“When I say power to every single martyr in Palestine, you say power to you,”
Jodi Picoult Holocaust novel banned from school in 'inappropriate' books row
Florida in particular has required additional scrutiny of the books that are available to schoolchildren. While Governor Ron DeSantis has denied that the state is banning books, activists say his “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” encourage parents and educators to take license in purging schools of material that could carry a hint of impropriety.

Some districts have covered or removed their classroom libraries entirely to comply with the law, while other Florida districts have removed picture books that trigger concern, including one about Shabbat which was part of a diversity package and another about a Jewish family with two dads.

Blume’s and Foer’s books have been frequent targets of other school bans and removals, as have many other books on Martin County’s list — including Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But Picoult, who grew up in a secular Jewish household, told the Washington Post that this was the first time, to her knowledge, that “The Storyteller” has been targeted. She said the removal was “shocking, as it is about the Holocaust.”

First published in 2013, The Storyteller follows the Jewish granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor who learns that her neighbor is a former Nazi officer who served in concentration camps. Her neighbor also asks her to help him commit suicide.

The Post reported that most of the Florida district’s book complaints originated from one parent: the head of the local chapter of the conservative group Moms For Liberty.

“At this point, we believe we have challenged the most obscene and age-inappropriate books,” the parent, Julie Marshall, told the Post.

Marshall did not immediately respond to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency request for comment on why she sought to remove “The Storyteller,” but she previously told the school board that the vast majority of her challenges were based on what she deemed sexually explicit content.

The book contains several sexually graphic scenes, including depictions of sexual assault by Nazi guards.

Guardian again legitmises Kristallnacht-Hawara analogy
A Guardian podcast featuring Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan and international correspondent Michael Safi again legitimised the historically illiterate comparison between the Israeli terror attack on Palestinians in Hawara last month and the Nazis Kristallnacht attack on Jews in 1938.

At 7:20 into the podcast, (“Israel and the West Bank: a week of rage and rampage”, March 13) McKernan, in reference to the Feb. 25 incident where dozens of Israelis rioted violently in the West Bank town of Huwara, setting fire to Palestinian homes and cars, hours after two Israelis were shot dead there, said the following:
Even right-wing commentators were kind of likening this to Kristallnacht when Nazis went on a pogrom against Jewish communities in the 1930s

Her co-host Michael Safi then replied:
Wow, I mean, that is an astonishing comparison for Israelis to make given that they know the gravity of Kristallacht.

As she did a in previous article, McKernan justified the analogy by noting that even “some” Israeli journalists (precisely two ) made the comparison. However, that’s not an excuse to promote the comparison. Just as in other countries, there will always be some Israeli journalists and commentators who – out of cynicism, ignorance or malice – evoke unserious historical analogies for the shock value or to score political points.

The terror attack in Hawara – which was widely condemned within Israel – left many Palestinians injured, as well as one dead – in unclear circumstances.

Kristallacht (the Night of Broken Glass) was a Nazi organised pogrom during which 91 Jews were murdered, more than 1,400 synagogues across Germany, Austria and and areas of the Sudetenland were torched, and Jewish-owned shops and businesses were plundered and destroyed. In addition, the Jews were forced to pay “compensation” for the damage that had been caused, and approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Some scholars have framed Kristallnacht as a crucial turning point in German policy regarding the Jews, “marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust”.

It simply can not be seriously be argued that the vigilante violence by dozens of Israelis in Huwara – of their own volition – in any way resembles the pre-planned assault on the Jewish community in November of 1938 by the genocidal Nazi regime.

Let’s also recall that the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism includes, as a contemporary example of antisemitism, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.
BBC News fails to report terrorist affiliations of ‘armed Palestinians’
In the early hours of March 12th (Israel time) a report by George Wright appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the headline ‘Israel sees one of its biggest-ever protests’.

Some ten hours later that report was updated to include the following:
“In a separate development, Israeli troops shot dead three armed Palestinians near the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, the Israeli army said. It said the gunmen had fired at an Israeli army post.

Palestinian officials have not commented on the incident. There has been a marked surge in violence between Palestinians and Israel in recent months.”

That link leads readers to a BBC backgrounder which was previously discussed here.

In fact, by the time that amendment was made the local media had reported that Palestinian Authority officials had indeed “commented”.

Neo-Nazis don’t realize they are evil, says ex-hate group leader
When Jeff Schoep, former head of the violently antisemitic National Socialist Movement, speaks at a private Highland Park, Ill., residence on March 14, he intends to cite his life as a cautionary tale for those seeking meaning by joining white supremacist groups.

“A common misconception is that someone joins neo-Nazi organizations in order to be evil,” Schoep told JNS. “This may be true for a small minority of people who are sociopaths who join. But for most people, it is like joining a cult, where you do evil things and not realize that what you are doing is evil.”

Once known as America’s most notorious neo-Nazi, Schoep—whose talk is sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center—shared with JNS the radicalization process that brought him to embrace a life of extremism and antisemitism.

“I started at a young age,” he said. “My grandfather and great-uncle fought in the German army during the Second World War, and my initial fascination with that side of my family history put me on the path.”

Schoep borrowed World War II history books from his elementary-school library; at the age of 21, he joined the National Socialist Movement in 1992. He took on a leadership role two years later.

Several factors led him to renounce neo-Nazism. He noted that it took allowing himself to empathize with minority groups and the pain that his actions were causing to see the error in his ways.

“I thought I was helping my people,” he said of white Americans. “But when you join with one of these neo-Nazi organizations, you are forfeiting your humanity. When I saw how my racism and hatred was causing so much pain, that really was the final straw.”

With academics, professionals and other ex-extremist leaders, Schoep founded the nonprofit Beyond Barriers to deradicalize those who adopt extremist or violent ideologies. A proven method for deradicalizing neo-Nazis is showing them how much they harmed victims.
‘Nazis Are Not Welcome in Florida’: State Bill on Antisemitic Crimes Would Give Five Year Prison Sentences to Offenders
Lawmakers in Florida are considering a bill that would create some of the harshest criminal penalties in the country for convicted antisemites.

Proposed by Rep. Mike Caruso (R) and Rep. Randy Fine (R) in January, House Bill 269 is a response to a rise in antisemitic incidents in Florida, which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, have increased precipitously since 2019.

If passed, such conduct would be classified as a third degree felony and penalized with up to five years in prison, probation, and a $5,000 fine. House Bill 269’s provision also addresses acts exhibiting racial animus. The bill is now being examined by the Florida House’s judiciary committee and justice appropriations committee.

On Tuesday, Fine told The Algemeiner that the bill sends a clear message to neo-Nazis living in the state.

“Nazis are not welcome in Florida,” he said. “The behavior they’re using to terrorize, intimidate, and assault Jewish Floridians is going to come to an end.”

Fine explained that the outbreak of antisemitic incidents in Florida disturbed him especially. He is the state’s only Jewish Republican legislator.

“We have actual Nazis who have proudly taken up residence in Florida,” he added. “The things that they are doing, all of which I find disgusting, are reprehensible, and we are going to make them felonies.”
Denver-area black and Jewish groups ally to counter white-nationalist hate
Black and Jewish Denverites will gather on March 15 for a “Denver Dialogue” intended to draw the two communities together in the face of a common enemy: white nationalism.

“While African-Americans and American Jews joined forces to fight for civil rights in the 1960s, our relationship otherwise has been characterized by great connection and great divergence,” per an event announcement.

Award-winning poet Theo Wilson and educator Evan Weissman will co-moderate the conversation to take place at George Washington High School’s library.

Wilson, who has delivered speeches for the NAACP since he was 15, is the executive director of Shop Talk Live, which facilitates community discussions in barber shops. His 2017 TED Talk “A Black Man Goes Undercover in the Alt-Right” has reached 17 million viewers.

Weissman is the founder and executive director for Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a “civic health club” combining art and community improvement. He also teaches at Colorado College.

Caren Press, who is Jewish, organized the event, which will occur at the high school where she runs a mentorship program.

“The African-American community and the Jewish community do not have an agreement on facts. The white nationalists are pushing a lot of erroneous information because they want to divide us,” she said.

The event is described as communities coming together organically, without agenda, rather than happening under the aegis of churches, synagogues, school districts or advocacy groups.

When Hollywood Went to Israel—and When Israel Came to Hollywood
Discussing his recent Mosaic essay on the subject with Ari Lamm, Rick Richman explores why American movies keep getting the Jewish state wrong in the same way—and the hidden Zionist message of Top Gun: Maverick

How the Jewish Population of Bulgaria Was Saved From the Nazis
Eighty years ago this month, courageous voices in Axis-allied Bulgaria accomplished the near-impossible: the nullification of orders to deport its 48,000 Jews to certain death in concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Europe.

It is an unlikely story, given that the mix of individuals involved in this effort had little in common, save for their concern about the welfare of Bulgarian Jewry: Members of parliament, lawyers, the leadership of the Orthodox Church, and ordinary citizens, acted as a critical mass in effectuating the rescue of the community.

Bulgaria in 1940 had drawn close to Nazi Germany, its economy having become dependent upon Berlin. The Third Reich needed transit routes to Greece and Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria was the obvious answer to reaching that objective. Relations with Germany came with many strings attached, including discriminatory laws against Jews, adopted in the Bulgarian parliament in late 1940 as the “Law for the Defense of the Nation.” The law imposed a long list of prejudicial provisions, including wearing the yellow star, restrictions in employment and numerous quotas in education and other fields, and prohibitions against holding office and voting. Particularly insidious was the establishment of forced labor units, which were often subject to harsh treatment.

All of this was to be carried out by a Commissariat on Jewish Issues, led by Alexander Belev.

Much credit for rousing public opinion in response to these anti-Jewish edicts is given, rightfully, to the Deputy Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Dimitar Peshev, who himself had voted for the legislation and who represented the provincial town of Kyustendil. Berlin incessantly pressed to deport not only Jews in Bulgaria, but also those in Macedonia and Thrace under Bulgarian military administration.

The first orders handed down in February 1943 were to deport the Jews of Kyustendil, which put Peshev into action as the public face of opposition to both the government’s dictates and to Belev’s designs on the Jewish community. Peshev is said to have personally demanded of both the prime minister and the minister of interior that the deportation order be rescinded. His outspoken campaign rallied many others to his side, and on March 9, 1943, the deportation was cancelled.

For his trouble, Peshev was ostracized and censured by parliament. And while the entire Jewish community of nearly 50,000 people inside Bulgaria’s internationally recognized borders were spared, 11,323 Jews under Bulgarian administration were ultimately deported from Macedonia and Thrace, most to the Nazi death camp at Treblinka.
Morocco’s school curriculum demonstrates remarkable respect for Jews
It is possible that Jews arrived in North Africa after the Babylonian Army destroyed the First Temple in 586 BCE. Or, alternatively, that they headed west during the destruction of Jerusalem and the slaughter of Jews by Titus’ army. But the first evidence of Jews in what is now Morocco is in the form of gravestone epitaphs in Hebrew at Volubilis and the ruins of a third-century synagogue. Before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, there were about 250,000 to 350,000 Jews in the country, which gave Morocco the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world. Today, around 3,000 Jews remain there.

It is the in-depth portrayal of this ancient Jewish community that lived uninterruptedly in Morocco for close to two millennia that makes the reformed Moroccan national school curriculum distinctive. The personification of Jews in curricula in the Islamic world has improved in several countries, but more often is harmful. In Palestinian Authority textbooks, Jews are presented as liars, fraudsters, and murderers. Authors of the Iranian and Syrian curricula draw upon classic antisemitic tropes that connect Jews to money and power. Countering this, the Emirati curriculum features many examples of tolerance toward Jews, and the Saudis have removed a great deal of antisemitism from their textbooks.

A new report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), unprecedented in scope, shows a different approach, born of the history of Moroccan Jews. The Jewish community is acknowledged as an inseparable part of Moroccan society, as enshrined in the country’s constitution. Moroccan textbooks foster respect for Jewish people and beliefs, and contain an abundance of information about the country’s indigenous Jewish community.

Students are taught that the Jewish community is an inseparable part of Morocco’s social fabric and identity, and lessons teach about Jewish heritage. They are given information on Moroccan-Jewish history, and learn about the day-to-day lives of Moroccan Jews.

Multiple examples are provided of coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Morocco, such as Jewish and Muslim children playing together in the neighborhood, a Jewish boy hosting his Muslim friend for Shabbat dinner, and a Muslim woman explaining the Jewish tradition of Mimouna to her son. One history textbook highlights the city of Essaouira, a place where Jews and Christians prospered alongside Muslims for centuries. Tolerance is visually represented in an illustration from another textbook, where symbols of the Abrahamic religions are displayed under the Arabic word for tolerance.
The 17th-Century Italian Composer Who Wanted Jews to Reclaim Their “Ancient” Musical Tradition
In 1622, the Italian Jewish violinist Salamone Rossi, who worked as a concertmaster in the court of the duke of Mantua, published the first-ever collection of polyphonic Jewish musical compositions. Titled Ha-Shirim asher li-Shlomo (“The Songs That Are of Solomon”), the book contained scores of original choral arrangements for traditional lyrics, written with European musical notation. It also contained a preface by Rabbi Leon Modena, arguing that such singing was appropriate to the synagogue. As Rebecca Cypess explains, not all of Modena’s rabbinic colleagues agreed:

Jews in early modern Italy found professional opportunities and success in the field of music. They performed as instrumentalists and singers; they taught these subjects to both Jews and Christians; they performed in private homes of adherents to both religions; they participated in the busy field of instrument design and creation, also serving as instrument dealers and traders.

Within their own communities, too, Jews cultivated music actively. These “insider” musical activities included the authorship of Hebrew-language treatises on music and the development of traditions of sung poetry and musical theater intended for insider audiences. Nevertheless, in the city of Mantua, Jewish musical theater was so highly prized that the [ruling Gonzaga dynasty] required the Jews to perform musical theater for them annually, and non-Jews sometimes entered the ghetto to experience the art form for themselves. While Rossi’s Shirim clearly display his full integration into the stylistic world of the broader society in which he lived, their Hebrew texts—many of them liturgical, meant to be performed as part of synagogue worship—suggest that they should be understood as an example of such insider-oriented musical innovations.

[However], Rossi’s compositions would seem deeply problematic from a halakhic standpoint. After all, these works adopt not just the musical style of non-Jews, but a whole system of notation and composition that originated in church worship. Yet Modena did not see them in this light. Instead, he went out of his way to frame the entire field of music as a Jewish one. In his understanding, the development of Christian music was a historical anomaly that required correction: music was an ancient Jewish art, one that had been “stolen from the land of the Hebrews.” [Thus] it was time for Jews to reclaim their lost tradition and reassert their primacy in the practice of music.
Last member of Nazi-resistance group White Rose dies at 103
German-born doctor Traute Lafrenz, who died on March 6 at 103, was the last known surviving member of White Rose, which formed in Munich in 1942 and advocated nonviolent resistance against the Nazi government.

As young German college students allied against their country’s government, the group concluded its first leaflet: “Do not forget that every nation deserves the government that it endures.”

The Nazi government beheaded three of the group’s members—Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst—for producing and distributing leaflets opposing the totalitarian regime.

Lafrenz also faced punishment for her involvement. The Gestapo arrested her in 1943, but she managed to conceal the depth of her involvement in the group, so she only received a one-year jail term.

After the war, Lafrenz relocated to the United States, married another doctor, and worked in hospitals in California and Illinois before retiring in South Carolina. She is survived by her daughter; three sons; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Lafrenz was among those dramatized in the acclaimed cinematic retelling of the White Rose’s story, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” (2005).

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called her a “wonderful and immeasurably brave woman.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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