Wednesday, May 31, 2023

From Ian:

Richard Landes: On Western Media and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
The expression ‘reality-based community’ has a strange genealogy. First used contemptuously by a Bush Administration official in 2004 to describe liberals who objected to their policies with ‘facts’, it quickly became a proud self-referent for liberals. Ironically, as Kurt Andersen puts it in his extensive study of America’s troubled relationship with reality, ‘Neither side has noticed, but large factions of the elite left and the populist right have been on the same team.’ This has become even truer in the six years since Andersen wrote that remark in 2017.

Today we have two loud camps each justifiably accusing the other of substituting post-truth advocacy for descriptions based on hard evidence. In the process, a ‘great divorce’ has occurred between Western information professionals and the realities it is their vocation to understand. The following study examines one aspect of this problem – the conflict between Israel and her neighbours – for the following reasons: a) it was an early harbinger of things to come, b) because the misinformation comes to us from a legacy media that claims to observe professional standards, c) because this misinformation reflects the biases of people who, even as they embarked on this great divorce with reality, were convinced that they were indeed, the reality-based community, and d) because ‘getting it wrong’ on this particular topic has so many grave real-world consequences not just for Palestinians and Israelis, but for democracies the world over.

For anyone with an elementary knowledge of Soviet propaganda, it might seem disconcerting to read collective statements from academics, including Jewish ones, about the Middle East conflict, or even to listen to a news broadcast from an increasingly post-modern legacy media about the Middle East.[1] One does not normally expect a morally and empirically bankrupt propaganda ministry, the subject of savage parodies, to hold such hegemonic sway decades after the failure of the totalitarian system that spawned it. How does a propaganda campaign of cognitive warfare get belatedly adopted by the very culture it targets? After all, one of the reasons the West won the Cold War in the early 1990s was because Soviet propaganda had so divorced the USSR from reality that once Glasnost took hold and that propaganda was challenged, the bottom fell out. And yet, now, in the early 2020s, the central themes of Soviet anti-Zionist, anti-democratic propaganda – Palestinian nationalism and freedom fighting, Israeli colonialism, apartheid, racism, and genocide, Zionism=Nazism – now rerouted through post-colonialism, hold wide currency in Western public discourse, both explicitly, and implicitly.[2]

To some extent, one can explain this in terms of the increasing influence of an intellectual revolution in the West, broadly taken to involve variants of critical theory – post-modern, post-colonial, queer, critical race, victim – and the various identity politics that inform this theorising. This study focuses not on documenting those trends, but the underlying cognitive and psychological factors that drove otherwise welcome post-modern perspectives as contributors to our understanding of reality,[3] in directions that have produced a major wedge between practitioners of the new approaches and the reality they aspire to explore and change for the better.
Mitchell Bard: Biden’s antisemitism program defends antisemites
Ultimately, the president caved into the far left and announced a strategy to fight antisemitism that gives antisemites cover. Establishment Jewish organizations rushed to praise the administration without apparently reading “The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism” or considering its implications.

As I warned in my previous column, the strategy failed at the most fundamental level by refusing to define antisemitism unequivocally. Trying to have it both ways, the document says: “There are several definitions of antisemitism, which serve as valuable tools to raise awareness and increase understanding of antisemitism. The most prominent is the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted in 2016 by the 31-member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the United States has embraced. In addition, the administration welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document and notes other such efforts.”

This is doublespeak. It does not say that the IHRA is the definition it will use in pursuing its strategy. Worse, as many of us feared, it gives credence to the Nexus Document, which, unlike the IHRA, does not have the support of the international community. It was drafted by a handful of left-wing professors who defend anti-Zionism and double standards applied to Israel.

Since both supporters and critics of the IHRA claimed victory, the administration probably views its formulation as a successful compromise. If opponents of the internationally recognized definition believe they won, however, we have all lost.

Evidence that the administration has no intention of using the IHRA is that it is not mentioned in the White House’s fact sheet accompanying its strategy paper. It is also absent from the U.S. Department of Education antisemitism awareness campaign that was announced simultaneously.

You can’t fight antisemitism if you don’t know what it is.

By refusing to define antisemitism and trying to mollify “progressive” Democrats, the administration created serious doubts as to what it will be fighting against. Most notably, the strategy does not mention the antisemitic BDS campaign. This was undoubtedly to appease the far-left authors of the “alternative” definitions of antisemitism. The effect is to allow boycotts to proliferate and ignore one of the most significant sources of antisemitism on college campuses.
Why does Joe Biden's antisemitism strategy barely mention Israel?
The White House should, as the IHRA advises, draw a clear line on which kinds of public speech and actions are acceptably anti-Zionist and which are explicitly antisemitic and likely to incite violence. Instead, the Strategy says anything goes, so long as you’re pure in heart.

The Strategy is written to firm up the Democratic coalition, not protect American Jews. The White House cannot define the problem because the Democratic left, key groups in the Democratic coalition and heavily pro-Democratic institutions are all part of it. Instead, the Jewish problem is to be wished away. The Jews must blend into an alphabet soup of intersectionality and subordinate themselves to the greater good.

“Those who target Jews also target women, Black, Latino, Muslim, AANHPI, and LGBTQI+ Americans,” the Strategy’s authors claim. This is only partially true, and it is deeply misleading. It masks LGBTQ activism of the “Queers for Palestine” kind and the fact that in polls African Americans, Muslim Americans and Latino Americans express antisemitic views at higher rates than other groups.

Bizarrely, the Strategy recommends that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) advise synagogues on security. CAIR has long been accused of association with the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, the UAE added CAIR to its list of terrorist groups.

In 2021, CAIR’s San Francisco executive director Zahra Billoo told members of another radical group, American Muslims for Palestine, that pro-Israel “Zionist organizations”, “Zionist synagogues” and Hillel student groups were “your enemies” who “would sell you down the line if they could, and very often do behind your back”.

The lunatics are taking over the asylum.
Biden’s antisemitism plan is a missed opportunity
Prior U.S. administrations adopted the IHRA definition for some of their agencies’ work (as have the majority of U.S. states). Under former President Barack Obama, the State Department adopted it in dealing with foreign countries’ antisemitic practices. Under former President Donald Trump, an executive order allowed Jews (and Muslims and Sikhs) to benefit from the anti-discrimination protections of Article VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though it doesn’t apply to religions, because these religious groups share ethnic and national origins. This 2019 executive order also adopted the IHRA definition for the Department of Education’s use in monitoring federal grants to universities under Article VI.

Unfortunately, the Biden plan punts on this key issue of the definition. The 60-page strategy document devotes one short paragraph where it says “there are several definitions of antisemitism.” It cites the IHRA as the most prominent one, which the U.S. “has embraced,” but also “welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document” and notes other definitions.

The Nexus Document was drafted by American academics to counter what they considered the IHRA’s overbroad inclusion of anti-Israel behavior.

The Biden plan includes many good action steps to be taken by the U.S. Government, especially in the area of education, and pledges from private sector actors. It leaves open the core question of when anti-Israel speech and action crosses the line into antisemitism — a compromise, according to participants with whom I spoke, owing to push-back from left-wing groups who oppose any cross referencing of antisemitism with anti-Israel work.

Thus, the Biden plan has become a lost opportunity for all Americans concerned with the current rise of antisemitism.

Left open are the questions of whether the State Department and the Department of Education will continue to use the IHRA definition. Also left open is whether the forthcoming UN plan on antisemitism will reference the IHRA definition. I suspect U.S. and UN bureaucrats have received sufficient signals of caution from the Biden plan about including anti-Israel behavior.

The Biden plan rightly notes that “there is no higher profile platform than the White House for pushing back against and re-stigmatizing antisemitism.” Let us hope that the president finds the moral courage — which the President of Princeton apparently lacks — to use his platform to point out when antisemitism goes hand in hand with anti-Israel advocacy, as it does in the case of Mohammed El-Kurd.

Gil Troy: J Street isn't as pro-Israel, pro-peace as it claims to be
FINALLY, YOU charge that in championing identity Zionism, I ignored the Palestinian issue. In fact, I was trying to put our Israel conversation in context, rejecting Yasser Arafat’s conceit that every conversation about Israel and Zionism should be about him and his people.

Treating the Palestinian question proportionately is not ignoring Israel’s problems. But it does stop Palestinians and other Bash-Israel-Firsters from hijacking our Zionist conversation about us: about who we were, who we are, and who we want to be as free Jews living in our homeland.

By the way, your critique reveals my biggest problem with J Street. Beware its false advertising. Despite calling itself “Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace,” J Street’s obsession with the Palestinian issue, above all else, makes a mockery of its slogan, as does its soft spot for similar Palestinian enablers and obsessives.

To be “pro-Israel,” you have to support Israel when Iran threatens genocide, Hamas bombards Israeli cities, or members of Congress target Israel mindlessly. And to be “pro-peace,” rather than parroting so much Palestinian propaganda, you have to stand up and criticize Palestinian leaders for fomenting terrorism, demonizing Israel, and consistently rejecting any peace attempts.

At the risk of “Zio-splaining,” I will add that you struck me as less J Street and more of a progressive Zionist – an Israel-lover who criticizes Israel’s current government and seeks a two-state solution. Zionists occasionally criticize what Israel does, but they still celebrate what Israel is. Zionists consistently defend Israel rather than just bashing it.

And Zionists know how to identify those who consistently target the Jewish state, even while hiding behind blue-and-white rhetoric. Maybe it’s time to start a new club on your campus.
The Moral Clarity of Martin Luther King and His Support for Israel
Arab intentions were no secret by the Spring of 1967. Egyptian troops were massing near the Israeli border on May 15. By the 18th, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights. That day, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) — stationed in the Sinai since 1956 as a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces after Israel’s withdrawal following the 1956 Sinai Campaign — to withdraw.

On May 23, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel’s only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran.

After the Six-Day war, US president Lyndon Johnson said: “If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Strait of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., also recognized the menace of Egypt’s action. On May 28, he and 11 other prominent Christian leaders issued a statement, “The Moral Responsibility in the Middle East,” which reflected the views of thousands of church leaders throughout the United States.

It started with the quote from Psalms 122:6: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

“Men of conscience must not remain silent at this time,” it continued. “The Middle East is on the brink of war. President Nasser of Egypt has initiated a blockade of an international waterway: the Straits of Tehran, Israel’s sea-lane to Africa and Asia. This blockade may lead to a major conflagration.”

The authors recognized Israel was being threatened: “The Middle East has been an arena of tension due to the threat of continued terrorist attacks, as well as the recent Arab military mobilization along Israel’s borders. Let us recall that Israel is a new nation whose people are still recovering from the horror and decimation of the European holocaust.”

Acknowledging Johnson’s characterization of the blockade as “illegal and potentially disastrous” to world peace, the statement called on the US government to “steadfastly to honor its commitments to the freedom of international waterways.” It further called on the administration and “Americans of all persuasions and groupings … to support the independence, integrity and freedom of Israel.”

The statement said, “Men of conscience all over the world bear a moral responsibility to support Israel’s right of passage through the Straits of Tiran,” and that, “The people of Israel have the right to live and develop in tranquility and without fear. The Middle East requires respite and peace.”
Dumisani Washington: How Progressive anti-Zionism Seeks to Exploit the Black Community
On Wednesday, May 10, 2023 — while Israel supporters were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Jewish State — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) led the first-ever Nakba event at the State Capitol. Nakba (catastrophe) is what Syrian historian Dr. Constantin Zureiq called the defeat of the Arab armies who tried to destroy Israel in 1948. Arab violent resistance to the state of Israel was organized decades before the state of Israel was a reality. This includes the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. As author, Sir Martin Gilbert explained in his seminal work In Ishmael’s House:
A populist movement with a strong Islamic fundamentalist message, the Muslim Brotherhood stirred up hatred not only against Zionism as a political and national movement, but against Jews as bearers of an alien and destructive religion and ideology. Its very first topic for debate was ‘The Subject of Palestine and the necessity of Jihad.’

Along with other members of the Squad, Rep. Tlaib’s disdain for and libel against the Jewish State as an apartheid regime guilty of genocide against Arab Palestinians is well-documented. What Ms. Tlaib also does is drag the Black community into her anti-Jewish, anti-Israel blood libels. As she tweeted on May 5, 2023, “Detroit is the most beautiful Blackest city in the country and taught me to always speak truth to power. From Detroit to Gaza, I will continue to demand equality and justice for all.” The only thing that remotely connects the plight of Gazans and poor Black residents in Detroit (or Flint) is inept, corrupt local and national leadership. In Gaza’s case, that would not be the Israelis but Hamas, the third wealthiest terror organization in the world; whose leader Khaled Mashaal has a net worth of $2.6 billion. Sadly, Rep. Tlaib has consistently avoided the challenge to “speak truth” to that “power.” Rather, she raises money for groups connected to Hamas.

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Rep. Tlaib’s demonization of Israel (which is antisemitism) is part of a broader effort she considers a staple of her progressive identity. As she stated in an online forum organized by American Muslims for Palestine:
“I want you all to know that among progressives, it’s become clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values, yet back Israel’s apartheid government, and we will continue to push back and not accept that you are progressive except for Palestine.”

Tlaib is not alone in these sentiments. While Jew-hatred is at all-time levels in the U.S. across all political spectrums, Jew-hatred embedded in progressive anti-racist dogma — Critical Race Theory (CRT), Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Critical Ethnic Studies Curriculum (college and grade school), etc. — is a driving force for America’s historic rise in antisemitism. Challenging any of these measures to ensure racial equity (already a flawed goal), will result in the challenger being labeled a racist or white supremacist — or even a Zionist. According to this progressive illogic, anyone who is against racism is against Israel (pro-Palestinian) and, therefore, an ally to all Black people and a person of good moral standing.
Unpacked: Are Jews White?
While some Ashkenazi Jews may appear white and identify as such, the concept of whiteness is complex. Historically, Jews were considered a separate and inferior race and yet, over time, antisemitism, assimilation efforts and rising socioeconomic status have influenced the perception of “Jewish whiteness.” However, this categorization overlooks the experiences of Jews of Color and non-Ashkenazim and further perpetuates the ongoing antisemitism Jews face today.

107 Groups Threaten to Boycott Anthropological Association Over BDS Pro-Resolution
More than 100 education, civil rights, and religious groups on Tuesday urged more than 250 university leaders to publicly condemn a resolution the American Anthropological Association is about to embrace “to boycott Israeli academic institutions.”

AAA, which is among the largest scholarly and professional organizations in the country, will vote on the boycott resolution from June 15 to July 14.

A similar effort failed by 39 votes in 2016.

The organizations, which include Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Alliance for Academic Freedom, B’nai B’rith International, numerous university Hillels, MLA Members for Scholars’ Rights, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the World Jewish Congress of North America, demand that the universities, whose anthropology departments are fee-paying members of the AAA, immediately sever all ties with AAA should the resolution pass.

Organized by the AMCHA Initiative, the groups warned of the enormous significance and dangerous ramifications of this AAA vote. They pointed out that “unlike the few disciplines that have misguidedly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, anthropology is a core discipline of the academy, and its abandonment of scholarship for the promotion of politically motivated and directed activism will have rippling effects for years to come.”

Well, some would beg to differ. In November 2020, Arnie Daniel Schoenberg of San Diego City College wondered if Anthropology was really a science, suggesting the anthropological imagination (a.k.a anthropological perspective) is how anthropologists see the world.

What Antisemitism? Media Can’t Spot Jew-Hater When She Proudly Spouts Blood Libels On-Stage
Yet, when Mohammed’s anti-Israel diatribe was reported on by a handful of media outlets, it was the law student’s less controversial remarks that led the way in the coverage.

For example, the Daily Mail included in its headline Mohammed’s attacks on the “fascist NYPD” and the response of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who lambasted her “hateful graduation speech.”

In addition, the global news outlet summarized her antisemitism and explicit call for the obliteration of Israel (and presumably its seven million Jewish citizens) as a speech that “included multiple references to the Israel Palestine conflict,” without detailing her most offensive remarks.

To the Daily Mail’s credit, it later published a second and a third piece that revealed Mohammed once gave a speech at a demonstration in which she demanded that “Zionist professors” are banned from college campuses and the barring of Zionist students from sharing “spaces” with Palestinians.

During the same rally in New York City, she described Zionism — that is, the belief in Jewish self-determination — as a “genocidal threat.”

Meanwhile, the New York Post’s report also focused on how Mohammed had claimed New York cops are fascists and glossed over her antisemitic remarks — specifically her claim that Israel systematically murders Palestinians — by merely alluding to her speaking about “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

Fox News was another outlet that prominently featured Mohammed’s bizarre assertion that the law is an example of white supremacy, but failed to quote her anti-Israel comments.

A bright spot in the media landscape was the popular sports media company Outkick‘s unequivocal condemnation of Mohammed’s antisemitism, in addition to criticizing her for failing to “condemn Hamas, Hezbollah and other organizations that lob rockets into Israel, kill Jewish people and terrorize freedom loving individuals.”

However, missed by nearly every single news outlet was the fact that CUNY Law has form when it comes to lauding Jew-hating students.

For, this time last year, none other than Nerdeen Kiswani, the founder and head of the anti-Israel hate group Within Our Lifetime, was invited to give the school’s commencement address, despite the fact that Kiswani had publicly called for violence against the Jewish state and Zionism to be “wiped out,” and once filmed herself threatening to set a man wearing an IDF sweatshirt on fire.

While CUNY’s Board of Trustees and Chancellor have since issued a statement distancing themselves from Mohammed’s remarks, saying it fell squarely within the “category of hate speech as they were a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race or political affiliation,” their condemnatory words — which notably failed to specifically address her undisguised antisemitism — feel a bit too little, too late.

After all, this is not the first time the institution’s law school has welcomed an antisemite to publicly espouse their hatred — when will the university leadership finally decide it is one too many?
Agudath Israel Statement on Antisemitic Student Commencement Address at CUNY Law School
Agudath Israel of America is outraged by the antisemitic commencement address given at the CUNY Law School graduation. The use of a commencement speech on May 12 at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School to deliver a wild tirade against Israel was an ugly example of the sort of hatred that has been reported on CUNY campuses, as on others, that crosses the line of antisemitism.

Student-activist Fatima Mohammed’s libels about Israel, characterizing the country’s responses to attacks from without and within its territory as indiscriminate murder of innocents and asserting that Israel encourages “lynch mobs,” are textbook examples of the vilest sort of propaganda. Equally odious is her accusation that the U.S. government deserves condemnation for its imprisonment of “Palestinian political prisoners” – those convicted of terrorist activities.

We are gratified at the outpouring of outrage over Ms. Mohammed’s slander from public officials. And we hope that the exposure of this recent expression of hate to the light of day will serve to advance the cause of truth and peace.

Sadly, the CUNY campus has become a breeding ground for antisemitism, hate, and bigotry aimed at Israel and Jewish students. That CUNY Law School adopted the antisemitic BDS as a policy is indicative that these are not merely the opinions of one student but a deeper problem that CUNY needs to address. Agudath Israel calls on CUNY to denounce Ms. Mohammed’s hateful screed and to commit to creating a safe environment for its Jewish students.

Watchdog groups slams 'insufficient sentence' for NYC antisemitic hate crime
Watchdog group StopAntisemitism condemned on Tuesday the "insufficient" sentencing of Suleiman Othman, who received a two month sentencing for his violent antisemitic assault on Blake Zavadsky in Brooklyn in 2021.

"StopAntisemitism is extremely troubled that repeat violent antisemite Suleiman Othman was sentenced to a mere two months in prison for his unprovoked assault on Blake Zavadsky in 2021," the group said. "Othman, who was released on $1,000 bail rather than the recommended $35,000, previously rejected a plea deal that would’ve seen him serve six months."

StopAntisemitism continued: "These slap-on-the-wrist punishments serve only to make New York City’s Jews less safe by emboldening those who would do them harm . The city needs principled leaders in the criminal justice system who will hold antisemites accountable rather than handing them sweetheart deals."

Othman, a Staten Island resident, violently assaulted Zavadsky, a Jewish man wearing an IDF sweatshirt, in Brooklyn in December 2021.

In November 2022 alone, antisemitic hate crimes across New York City's five boroughs more than doubled from a year prior, New York Police Department data revealed, resulting in a 125% increase.

Anti-Israel motion adopted by union could be outlawed by new government legislation
An anti-Israel motion adopted by the university and college lecturers union could be outlawed by proposed new government legislation.

Delegates at the University and College Union’s (UCU) congress in Glasgow confirmed their full support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in a right to boycott motion.

The motion was titled “Israel oppression and the right to boycott” and was implies Israel is worthy of boycott because it is comparable to Nazi Germany.

It read: “Congress believes that civil society boycotts have an honourable tradition from anti-slavery campaigns through boycotts of Nazi trade to isolation of Apartheid South Africa.”

However, the UCU’s legal counsel warned it could fall foul of the incoming UK Government’s proposed BDS and Sanction Bill.

The proposed bill would ban BDS to prevent further boycotts against Israel. It also follows a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to prevent local authorities from "adopting their own approach to international relations". This move, pro-Palestine activists say, is in place to help businesses profiting from apartheid Israel.

If the proposed bill passed, the motion would be “void” as it would in effect ask members to break the law.

The motion also instructed the UCU national executive to produce a report on what it called “moral and political consequences of Israeli policies with regards to the attack on academic freedom.”

UCU branches were also called on to “authorise all appropriate action to protect students and staff who find themselves under attack for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people.”

Vox Journalist Asks: Is It Really Antisemitic to Harass Jews at Prayer?
Embraced by over a thousand global organizations, governments, and institutions, including the US State Department, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism has become the gold standard for identifying contemporary Jew-hatred. However, as the Biden Administration released its long-awaited National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism last week, fringe anti-Israel activists have once again placed the IHRA definition at the center of a fabricated controversy.

Cue Vox, a politically progressive publication with over four million followers on social media, which can always be counted on to promote radical viewpoints that further fan the flames of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people.

In a May 25 analysis of President Biden’s novel antisemitism strategy, foreign policy writer Jonathan Guyer raised the bizarre question, “If a group protests Israeli policies in front of a synagogue, is that considered antisemitic?” IHRA, the senior Vox reporter inexplicably argued in his piece, does not have any “clear answers” to this dilemma.

Let’s make one thing clear: One can criticize the policies of Israel’s government without crossing the line into antisemitism; the IHRA document itself explicitly acknowledges that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Yet, as HonestReporting pointed out in a viral Twitter post, harassing innocent Jews who have no say in Israeli politics is antisemitic by any reasonable standard.

One wonders whether Guyer would similarly argue that there is no problem with protesting Saudi policies at US mosques, or demonstrating against Beijing’s human rights record at American Chinese restaurants.

Crucially, even the contentious Nexus Document and Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, both of which have been broadly denounced by mainstream Jewish groups for giving a free pass to certain forms of anti-Jewish bigotry, clearly say that holding Jews “collectively” responsible for the real or perceived actions of the State of Israel is undoubtedly antisemitic.

Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooter considered Jews 'a cancer on this planet'
A mass murderer who is accused of murdering 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue considered Jews to be a “cancer upon the planet” and hunted down his victims as they hid in the pews, a federal prosecutor said in court.

Robert Bowers' federal trial got underway more than four years after the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Twelve jurors and six alternates, which include 11 women and seven men are hearing the case.

Bowers, who could face the death penalty if convicted of some of the 63 counts he faced for the October 2018 attack, showed no reaction during the prosection opening statement on Tuesday, May 30.

The attack claimed the lives of worshippers from three congregations who were sharing the building, Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life.

The court heard how Bowers carefully planned the shooting using multiple weapons and boasted of his intent on social media moments before he entered the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song added in her opening statement: “The depths of the defendant's malice and hate can only be proven in the broken bodies" of the victims and "his hateful words.”

Song said after officers apprehended Bowers and asked why he did it, he blurted out: "All Jews need to die, Jews are killing our kids, Jews are bringing immigrants and killing our people and committing genocide and Jews are the children of Satan."

Charges include 11 counts each of obstruction of free exercise of religion resulting in death and hate crimes resulting in death.
Zelensky has helped slash antisemitism in Ukraine says ADL
Antisemitic attitudes in Ukraine have dropped massively since the election of President Zelensky, according to a new survey by an American Antisemitism watchdog.

According to the latest edition of the Anti-Defamation League's Global 100 antisemitism index, nearly a third of Ukrainians still agree with common antisemitic tropes and ideas.

Jew-hatred in Ukraine declined from a record 46% index score in 2019 to 29% in 2023, “potentially driven in part by the popularity of the Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose approval ratings have risen dramatically over the last few years in response to his defiance in the face of Russian military attacks,” said the ADL.

“The dramatic improvement in antisemitic attitudes in Ukraine seems linked to the popularity of President Zelensky, a leader who is both proudly Jewish and public about his heritage,” stated Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of ADL.

“While the survey findings do not directly address questions of causality, there’s no doubt that having a Jewish president who is being praised for his response to Russian aggression seems to have affected perceptions of Jews among ordinary Ukrainian citizens.”

According to the data collected by the ADL, Ukraine’s level of antisemitic beliefs, 29 per cent, is higher than Russia’s at 26 per cent. And whereas 36 per cent of Russian respondents say that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country where they live, 38 per cent of Ukrainians agreed with that antisemitic trope.

And, according to the ADL survey, 19 per cent of Ukrainians agree that “the Holocaust is a myth and did not happen,” compared to 17 per cent of Russians.

In Ukraine, 53 per cent of respondents agreed with the country’s most common anti-Jewish stereotype—“Jews have too much power in the business world”—while a smaller number of Russians, 44 per cent, agreed with that country’s most common antisemitic stereotype, “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”

More than a third of people in Hungary and Poland have ‘extensive’ antisemitic beliefs, ADL survey says
A survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that significant portions of people in 10 European countries believe a range of antisemitic stereotypes, including more than one in three people in Poland and Hungary.

The ADL measures antisemitic attitudes across a range of countries by asking respondents if they believe a set of 11 stereotypes about Jews, ranging from “Jews have too much power in the business world” to “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.”

This survey, taken from November to January, polled more than 6,500 people across 10 countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom., Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Russia. The margin of error for Ukraine and Russia was 3.1%, and was 4.4% for the remaining countries.

According to the ADL’s methodology, “survey respondents who said at least 6 out of the 11 statements are ‘probably true’ are considered to harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.” In Hungary, 37% reached that threshold, while the figure was 35% in Poland. In Ukraine, 29% of respondents met that threshold, and in Russia and Spain, the figure was 26%. The lowest figure, 8%, was in the Netherlands.

Although Poland and Ukraine had relatively large portions of respondents indicating that they believed in antisemitic stereotypes, their percentages each represented a steep decline from previous surveys. In 2019, the last time the survey was taken in those countries, 48% of Polish respondents and 46% of Ukrainian respondents met the ADL’s threshold for antisemitic attitudes.

Stereotypes around Israel were especially prevalent. More than 40% of respondents in Poland, Spain, Belgium and Germany said “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.” More than 30% of respondents in all countries polled expressed that belief. And in Ukraine and Hungary, more than half of respondents said “Jews have too much power in the business world.” The survey also found that in the countries polled, rates of antisemitism “tend to be higher on the political right than the political left.”
Auschwitz museum slams use of death camp in Polish ruling party’s political ad
The Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum has denounced a political spot by Poland’s ruling party that uses the theme of the Nazi German extermination camp to discourage participation in an upcoming anti-government march.

The state-run museum attacked “instrumentalization of the tragedy” of the 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, who were murdered at the site during World War II, arguing that it is an insult to their memory.

“It is a sad, painful and unacceptable manifestation of the moral and intellectual corruption of the public debate,” the state museum said.

The 14-second video published Wednesday by the Law and Justice party shows images of the former death camp, including the notorious “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate, and the words: “Do you really want to walk under this slogan?”

The reference is to a now-deleted tweet from journalist Tomasz Lis, who claimed that President Andrzej Duda and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski deserve to go to prison. He published the tweet amid a heated debate over a law passed by the party lawmakers and signed by Duda that is viewed by the US, the European Union and many Polish critics as anti-democratic.

“There will be a chamber for Duda and Kaczor,” the tweet said, using a nickname for Kaczynski.

He used the Polish word “komora,” which can be simply a dark cell or chamber but which many in Poland associate with the gas chambers used by Germans in mass murder during the war.

Lis has since deleted the tweet and apologized.
German court hands student 5-year sentence for attacks on neo-Nazis
A court in eastern Germany has sentenced a 28-year-old woman to five years and three months in prison for taking part in a series of attacks on neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists over a period of two years.

German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that the Dresden regional court convicted Lina E., whose surname wasn’t released due to privacy rules, of membership in a criminal organization and serious bodily harm.

Prosecutors accused the student of “militant extreme-left ideology” and conceiving the idea of attacks on far-right individuals in Leipzig and nearby towns. Three men, Lennart A., Jannis R. and Jonathan M., are alleged to have joined up with her by the end of 2019. The men were sentenced to between 27 months and 39 months in prison.

Lina E. has been in custody since her arrest on November 5, 2020. The others have remained free.

Among the attacks Lina E. was accused of helping orchestrate was a 2020 incident in which about 15 or 20 assailants beat a group of six people returning from a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. The event regularly attracts neo-Nazis and other far-right sympathizers. Prosecutors said several victims sustained serious injuries after being punched, kicked and hit with batons.

Defense lawyers had called for their clients to be acquitted, claiming the trial was politically motivated.

Far-left groups have announced plans to protest the verdict, prompting police to establish a large presence in Leipzig in anticipation of possible unrest. Leipzig authorities have restricted public gatherings in the city at the weekend.
Auctioneer urged to stop sale of Hitler’s silver-plated pencil
An auctioneer in Northern Ireland has been urged to stop the sale of a pencil which purportedly once belonged to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The ornate silver-plated pencil is set to go under the hammer in Belfast next week as well as a signed portrait of the notorious dictator who led the regime responsible for the Holocaust.

The pencil is estimated to sell for between £50,000 and £80,000, while the photograph is expected to sell for between £10,000 and £15,000.

The chairman of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, has written to Karl Bennett, managing director of Bloomfield Auctions, asking him to withdraw the items.

He questioned whether the auction house would sell possessions belonging to a terrorist who committed an atrocity in Northern Ireland, such as the IRA bombing of La Mon hotel in 1978 on the outskirts of east Belfast which killed 12 people.

In his letter to Mr Bennett, Rabbi Margolin said he is making a moral appeal.

“I am writing to respectfully ask you to withdraw these items from the auction. This is not a legal appeal to you Mr Bennett, but very much a moral one,” he wrote.

“In comments attributed to you in a national newspaper, you say: ‘But for me, as a high-end collector of militaria items, they preserve a piece of our past and should be treated as historical objects, no matter if the history they refer to was one of the darkest and most controversial in recorded history’.

“We simply cannot fathom how a love trinket such as an engraved pencil or a signed photograph constitutes a historical object of any inherent historical value.”
Thank you, Ambassador!
For me, one of the most powerful moments in my film J’Accuse! occurs when Grant Gochin describes his first telephone conversation with Silvia Foti.

Gochin says: “So I pick up the phone and she’s like “Hello, this is Silvia Foti” and I’m like “Yes” and she said ‘I’ve read all of your research…but you’ve made a mistake’. And I was just expecting suspicions, objections, obfuscation and denials… but then she says to me: “You’ve missed approximately 10,000 of my Grandfather’s victims”…. and with that phrase all suspicion left. With that phrase, I knew that I finally had somebody to travel this road with.”

Well, something like that happened when I read the Lithuanian Ambassador to South Africa, Dainius Junevičius’s comments to the outstanding South African Jewish Report:
“For some (Lithuanians) the facts on the memorial plaque (to Noreika) outside the building where he worked [now the library] will be important: he organised armed resistance to the Soviet occupation, and was killed by the Soviet authorities for this,” the Ambassador said. “However, his admirers mustn’t turn a blind eye to the fact that he was involved in the murder of Jews while working as a head of the Šiauliai district of the German occupation civil administration in 1941-1943. In my opinion, this is completely unjustifiable, and no other real or perceived merit can wash away this sin.”

For this reason, the ambassador unambiguously said, the plaque must never be resurrected.

This is a remarkable statement for three reasons. Firstly that it came from a working ambassador. Secondly because it unambiguously calls out Noreika as the mass murderer that he was. And thirdly, because it states that mass murderers do not deserve to be national heroes.

Dainius Junevičius, I honour you. With these short sentences you have unlocked a door to a new chapter in Jewish and LIthuanian relations. With this phrase you have made it possible to effect real, lasting change. With this phrase you have started the liberation and redemption of your own People. With this phrase, you have enabled the possibility of a true reconciliation between the Lithuanian and the Jewish Peoples.

It is important to understand this: the Lithuanian People are entirely innocent of the crimes of thousands of their grandparents, because guilt for these terrible crimes does not and cannot transmit intergenerationally. It is the Lithuanian Government’s lies that imprison its people and make them complicit in some of the worst crimes in world history. Mr Ambassador, you have it in your gift to liberate your people, finally, from the worst chapter in your country’s history.

On our side – and every Jew knows this – we are ready. All it takes is the Truth.
The Middle East Report J'Accuse: Exposing Lithuania's Shocking role in the Holocaust
In this week’s edition of The Middle East Report, Simon Barrett interviews award winning film producer Michael Kretzmer on his new ground-breaking documentary J’Accuse that exposes Lithuania’s shocking role in the Holocaust.

Michael shares his own personal story of his Lithuanian Jewish heritage, growing up in Zimbabwe, moving to the UK to become a travel journalist for the Sunday Times and producing documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4.

They will be discussing Michaels very personal new film that exposes how ordinary Lithuanians during the Second World War needed no encouragement from the Nazis to carry out hideous atrocities against their fellow Jewish Lithuanian citizens.

He shares how Lithuania has not come to terms with their dark history and how the government is involved in Holocaust denial and even honouring Lithuanian war criminals who murdered Jews.

Lyn Julius: June 1941: Bloodbath on the buses in Baghdad
The Farhud marked an irrevocable break between Jews and Arabs in Iraq and paved the way for the dissolution of the 2,600-year-old Jewish community barely ten years later, after Israel achieved statehood in 1948. Ninety percent of the community fled to Israel for fear of a second Farhud. Other Farhuds followed in other Arab countries, resulting in the flight of their Jewish communities, stigmatised as the “Jewish minority of Palestine”.

But the Farhud was not just another anti-Jewish pogrom.

The inspiration behind the coup, and the Farhud itself, came from the Nazi collaborator, the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. He arrived in Iraq in 1939 with 400 Palestinian and Syrian émigrés. Nazi radio propaganda is thought to have done even more damage. Coffee shops across Iraq had their radios tuned to poisonous propaganda emanating from Radio Berlin.

Today, only 4,000 Jews out of a pre-1948 figure of one million remain in the Arab world. Most of the displaced Jews now live in Israel, where they and their descendants comprise roughly half the Jewish population.

The Mufti’s postwar legacy of Islamised anti-Semitism endures in the kindred ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood – Gaza branch: Hamas. And the campaign to demonise Israel in the West as a ‘human rights’ abuser has been so successful that even the ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, was emboldened recently to call for Israel to be suspended from the United Nations.

Arab rejectionism and Islamist antisemitism are products of the Nazi era. They seek to eliminate Jews from the Middle East or reduce them to a subjugated minority. That’s why it is shocking to see the West treat with moral equivalence Israel, a free democracy struggling to survive, and Islamist terrorist groups who support judeophobia, misogyny, homophobia, and ethnic cleansing. The cry heard at pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the West -“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – is nothing less than a chilling call for genocide: “Palestine will be free… of Jews.”

Meanwhile, those who know about the Farhud are experiencing a weary sense of déjà vu when Jews in the West are subject to verbal and physical attacks and intimidation. The lesson of the Farhud is that Jews, whatever their opinions, remain fair game for collective punishment.
Robbie Williams surprises Israeli street performer in Tel Aviv
Williams, 49, arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday for his Thursday night show at HaYarkon Park, his first in Israel in nearly a decade. He told reporters that he is “incredibly excited” to be headlining in Israel this week, which he sees as “a special place”.

Speaking at a press conference at Tel Aviv’s Sheraton Hotel yesterday, Williams said: “I was incredibly excited to get here, and much like last time, incredibly excited to be here and experience what Israel actually is and what the people actually are.”

He added that he can usually infer a lot about a place just by the entrance and the airport, including customs officials and security, and even the people that drive the buses between plane and terminal.

“You get a feel and, you know, big smiles. Welcoming. Kindness,” he said. “There’s a lot of gratitude in peoples’ eyes just from that little bit.”

The former Take That singer noted that he had a “great” time the last time he performed in the country in 2015, and that he “couldn’t believe” it had been so long.

“So, eight years ago, that’s mental. I woke up in a really good mood today and I woke up excited, and I woke up excited about being here and about the prospect of what this show can be. I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“You know, I think the thing is about coming to a place like Israel, there’s such a massive build-up in one’s mind about what it is and what it isn’t and it’s a special place that deserves a special thing to happen, probably more than any other gigs I do in any other places.”

Israel heading to quarter-finals at Under-20 World Cup
Israel scored a second consecutive improbable win at the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina on Tuesday night, punching its ticket to the quarter-finals.

Anan Khalaili fired home a goal in the 97th minute to propel Israel to a 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan and set up a showdown with the winner of Wednesday’s match between Brazil and Tunisia.

“I’m proud of my players, this was a tough game, a cup championship,” said coach Ofir Haim. “We didn’t have good production, we were not smart, but we showed a lot of character. We were better than them. It wasn’t a great game, but there was a ton of fight and heart.”

The victory came after Israel made soccer history on Saturday night with a late rally while a man down to beat Japan 2-1.

It was Israel’s first-ever win at any FIFA World Cup, having tied two games and lost the other in its only previous appearance in any such competition, the main World Cup event in 1970.

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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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