Thursday, April 18, 2024

From Ian:

Seth Mandel: The Columbia Anti-Semitism Hearing
Columbia’s anti-Semitism problem is so advanced that today’s hearing was devoted solely to the esteemed former King’s College. The school’s representatives at the hearing were President Minouche Shafik, trustee cochairs David Greenwald and Claire Shipman, and its anti-Semitism task force head, law professor David Schizer (a one-time COMMENTARY contributor).

In December, the three school presidents failed to answer in the affirmative when they were asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violated their institutions’ policy on student harassment. Shafik and Co. were ready for that question today…but were unprepared for a host of others. Ironically, Stefanik saved Shafik from a late-hearing blunder regarding one of the most important questions of the entire proceeding.

It began when GOP Rep. Bob Good asked Shafik: “Have there been any anti-Islamic demonstrations on campus? Any anti-Muslim demonstrations on campus? Any anti-Arab demonstrations on campus?”

Shafik’s initial response, a telling indication of the warped worldview prevailing in academic spaces, was: “There have been many pro-Israeli demonstrations on our college campus.”

That was, by far, her worst answer of the day. Good stopped her and the two of them clarified together that as a matter of fact, there have been no anti-Arab or Islamophobic rallies on the Columbia campus.

That stands in contrast to the fact that the Columbia campus exists in an almost perpetual state of anti-Jewish agitation. That is true of plenty of other schools around the country as well. The key fact of the past six months in university life has been this: whether it be protests, harassment, intimidation by teachers and students, or administrative discrimination, no other group has been facing anything like what Jews have faced. University faculty, administrators, and student groups are guilty of no other organized campaign of out-group harassment. No other group is consistently told by campus security officials to hide evidence of their religion or ethnicity for their own safety. On the nation’s college campuses, nothing else exists that is comparable in any way, shape, or form to the campaign against Jews.
Matti Friedman: Homage to Orwell
Many of Orwell’s comrades took his honesty about Soviet Communism as heresy, and he spent years afterward avoiding old Stalinists in pubs. An account of this time appears in a superb new biography by D. J. Taylor, Orwell: The New Life, which was published last year. Orwell’s publisher, Victor Gollancz, wouldn’t touch his book about Spain because of its anti-Soviet angle, as the biography recounts, and the New Statesman turned down his essay “Eye-Witness in Barcelona” for the same reason: it would “cause trouble.” The magazine’s editor, Kingsley Martin, explained later that though the article may indeed have been true, the editor’s decision must actually be based “on general public grounds, to the end that one side might win rather than the other side.”

All of this sounds as if it were drawn precisely from my own experience seven decades later working in the Western press in Israel, which left me with similar conclusions and ultimately led me to Orwell’s essays. It is obvious that the story in the Middle East and North Africa in our times is the rise of violent and conflicting strains of Islam and the move of these ideologies and their adherents into the West. A great deal of effort goes into obscuring this, even though the phenomenon is visible from Algeria through Syria and Yemen and Iraq to Afghanistan, and from the Twin Towers to the Bataclan theater to the Nice promenade and the Manchester Arena. For a reporter in Israel, the main local incarnations of the phenomenon are the Islamic Resistance Movement (known by the Arabic acronym Hamas) and Islamic Jihad among Palestinians and the more formidable Party of God militia (Hezbollah) in Lebanon, all allied to some extent with the Islamic Republic of Iran, all working to forge a new Islamic order, and all explicitly dedicated to erasing the unbearable pocket of Jewish sovereignty on 0.2 percent of the land of the Arab world.

This is depressing but not very complicated. However, during my time in the press, we were expected to tiptoe politely around Islam’s two billion adherents and pretend the region’s key story was a group of six million Jews oppressing a minority, the Palestinians, who only wanted a peaceful state beside Israel. Because this was mostly fictional, my colleagues and I were forced into increasingly ludicrous contortions as we “built emotional superstructures over events that had never happened,” in Orwell’s words, and buried much of what was actually happening—like Israel’s rejected peace offer of late 2008, for example, which we were instructed not to cover, or like the way Hamas followed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza by methodically wiring the territory like a suicide bomber, building a system of tunnels under the entire civilian landscape and quite clearly condemning vast numbers to death in the holy war they promised was coming.

This all fits what Orwell understood about the way Western observers are guided chiefly by their own politics and imaginations. Atrocities in war, he wrote, “are to be believed in or disbelieved in according to political predilection, with utter non-interest in the facts and with complete unwillingness to alter one’s beliefs as soon as the political scene alters.” He would have understood the refusal by many observers in our times to believe the details of the Hamas murders, rapes, and kidnappings of October 7, while being eager to believe a few weeks later that Israel had purposely bombed a hospital—and also the unwillingness of some on my own side to admit any civilian suffering in Gaza, and the desire to dismiss anything that makes us feel bad as “Pallywood.”

Some elements of Orwell’s writing suggest he would grasp the nature of Israel’s dilemma. One example stands out in particular: a striking line from a 1938 article phrasing the horrific dilemma of modern industrial war, which I read for the first time in Taylor’s biography. “The only apparent alternatives,” Orwell wrote, “are to smash dwelling houses to powder, blow out human entrails and burn holes in children with lumps of thermite, or to be enslaved by people who are more willing to do these things than you are yourself.” He hated wars, nationalism, and the British Empire, whose rapaciousness and racism he’d seen up close while a young man serving as a colonial policeman in Burma. But when World War II came, he tried to join the British Army, was rejected because of poor health, and ended up an enthusiastic recruit to the Home Guard. A responsible person will have to choose among poor options or different kinds of evil.
Everyone has right to self-determination, except Jews
We have recently been provided with fresh evidence of this moral collapse: Starting with the high priestess of progressivism, Judith Butler described Hamas as a progressive movement and the events of October 7th as acts of resistance. And it continues with the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT, who shamefully failed to condemn the call to genocide of the Jewish People.

The events of October 7 brought antisemitism to new heights of insanity and hatred: blatant support for the rape and murder of innocent men, women, and children, the demonization of IDF soldiers and the state of the Jewish people, comparing them to Nazis, the distortion of the Holocaust, and the application of hypocritical double standards tailored to specifically target one people and one state alone.

Streets in Europe are once again unsafe for Jews, and many of its leaders, instead of showing courage, are demonstrating weakness.

Instead of standing with the truth, they align themselves with false Palestinian propaganda. Instead of supporting the victims of the attack, they choose to side with the aggressors.

This moral laxity may serve short-term interests, but make no mistake: The ultimate result will be the intensification and strengthening of radical Islam barbarism.

It is enough to see what is happening on the streets of London to understand where we are heading. Just recently, British MP and friend of Israel Mike Freer was forced to step down from his position due to threats on his life from Islamists after his office was set ablaze by Hamas supporters.

Freedom is waning in the country that brought the Magna Carta to the world, and people can no longer speak freely; even Churchill’s statue requires protection to keep it from being vandalized.

Freedom is waning here, in the capital of the European Union, as we are all currently experiencing at this important conference. With strong “progressive” forces, doing everything to not allow up to speak up and share our voice.

As the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks reminds us: “What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.”

Those who turn their back on the righteous war we are fighting against absolute evil will eventually bring it to their doorstep.

Those who seek to deny us our historical rights in our eternal homeland will see their rights undermined.

The future belongs to those nations that will relegate political correctness and woke culture to the dustbin of history.

The future of the West hinges on courageous nations willing to swim against the current, and re-cultivate the values that Judeo-Christian civilization has brought to the world: the importance of tradition, the sanctity of the family, and the vitality of a robust community.

It depends on education that fosters a familiarity and appreciation of the past to comprehend the present and shape the future.

Dr. Chazoni, in one of your essential articles on conservatism, you wrote the following lines: "...The only forces that grant the state its internal consistency and stability are our national and religious traditions."

The unique national tradition is the foundation, and upon it is added the floor of individual freedoms and the limitation of executive authority, not vice versa. This is the essence of the conservative view.

This worldview is shared by a series of exceptional leaders, some of whom are with us here today, such as Prime Minister Victor Orban. Under his leadership and action, Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe for its citizens and also for its small Jewish community that can express its identity in public freely without fear of harassment and violent attacks.

The leaders who stand firm on the right of Israel today do not do so because it is a startup nation, nor because of its cherry tomatoes.

They do it because they draw inspiration from the history of an ancient nation that has risen from the ashes and rebuilt its ruins. They are inspired by the eternal book that forms the foundation of our civilization.

They do so because of the values we share — human life, faith, family, and freedom. Eternal values that will survive both the storm of Jihadism that sanctifies death and the storm of "progress" that sanctifies nothingness.

This world is fundamentally good, this is our belief, which is why we bring sweet children into it even during difficult times, and why our anthem is "Hatikvah", The Hope.

Antisemitism in Dearborn, Past and Present
Dearborn celebrated Ford in every conceivable way. Streets, schools and libraries were named for Henry Ford, the company’s founder. Its biggest shopping mall, the motel where the Mustang was created, the city’s largest social club, and two neighborhoods were named for his Fair Lane estate, a mansion in the center of town.

I grew up, naturally, on Fordson Drive and gradually became aware of another side of Dearborn the American Automobile Association didn’t promote in its brochures. Henry Ford had a troubling history of antisemitism. His publication of the Dearborn Independent, a weekly newspaper, served as a platform for crackpot conspiracies about the Jews. The city also wore racial prejudice on its sleeve, making a proud segregationist, Orville Hubbard, its mayor from 1942 to 1978.

Hubbard, Jim Crow and antisemitism seemed buried in Dearborn’s past as it caught up with the times. Its black population, approximately 3,554, is roughly 3,554 more than it had in 1969—except for the “15 or so live-in servants” then present, according to a New York Times report. Ford Motor Co., where I once worked, has gone to great lengths to repair relations with local Jewish communities and distance itself from its founder’s worst ideas. A statue of Hubbard was also removed from the Dearborn Historical Museum’s grounds in 2020.

Yet Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack revealed that Dearborn’s “progress” on such issues hadn’t progressed as expected. A rally for “an end to the Palestinian occupation” at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center on Oct. 10 began the first of many denunciations of Israel emanating from Dearborn that have since escalated to the point of absurdity. The latest came on April 5, when activists held a rally outside Henry Ford Centennial Library for International Al-Quds Day, a brainchild of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. There came the inspired chants for death to Iran’s Great and Little Satan, America and Israel respectively, which Rep. Rashida Tlaib refused to denounce when pressed about them last week.

Weeks earlier, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud demanded on CNN that Mr. Biden “come to Dearborn, come to this community, and let’s put the pen in both of our hands, and let’s co-govern and co-write what the policy should be moving forward.” As a child, I would have marveled at the notion the mayor of my small Midwestern city was of equal political status with the president. Today Mr. Hammoud’s comments evoke a Yiddish word: chutzpah.

There was much I liked about Dearborn, including the influx of Arabs and Muslims, who brought with them an entrepreneurial spirit that refilled decaying commercial streets with restaurants and pastry shops. They rejuvenated neighborhoods and repopulated schools that had been in a long period of decline. I made many friends in the Arab community. We played wallyball at 5:30 a.m. every weekday at the Fairlane Club, where disputes on the court often turned into heated swearing matches, whose words in Arabic I learned with their help. I would later run into my friends at local restaurants, where drinking was haram, except in the back room.
A carefully manufactured myth
The Democrats consider Michigan absolutely pivotal to victory in 2024. They are convinced, given the polls of the past few months – where Trump is leading by a few percentage points – that they must do anything – everything! – to ensure a win in Michigan. Yes, even alienate the Jewish vote which traditionally votes 70 percent for the Democratic candidate. No matter what is happening in the Middle East, the sun rises in the East. Jews vote Democrat.

Therefore, they cleverly surmised – they have threatened not to vote for Biden if he continues to support (sic) Israel. And his knees, and those of his puppeteers who control his every move, have buckled.

Because no one dared to suggest that the emperor has no clothes.

So, let’s offer the last and most important fact: If the Democrats, including 100 percent of the Arabs of Dearborn, Michigan – where one finds as many signs in Arabic as there are in English – carry out their duplicitous threat not to vote for Biden, then Trump wins. Handily. If they opt to vote for one of the other, third-party candidates – either Robert Kennedy Jr, Jill Stein, or Cornel West – then Trump wins. Handily. Or, if they choose to sit out the election, as some have threatened to do – then Trump wins. Handily.

Those are the premises. So, let’s draw the proper conclusion.

It’s November 5, 2024. You are a progressive Democrat, angry at Joe Biden. You are a Muslim, angry at Joe Biden. You hate Israel. You support Gaza. Who do you vote for?

You vote for Joe Biden. Because you hate Israel. It’s really that simple, and no one seems to get it.

Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle, wrote: “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” One might more properly ask: “Sometimes we wonder whether the Democratic Party in Michigan is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who relay mean it.” We believe the former.

There is another side to this coin, not lost on those willing to look. Few do.

That one should not conclude that the Biden foreign policy team was railroaded into its growing antipathy towards the Jewish State, one more important fact needs to be stated. The anti-Israel hostility is evidenced by something much greater than its pressure against Israel because of the myth of the Michigan vote – with the demands of a humanitarian pause, a lengthy cease-fire as a prelude to a complete cessation of military action against Hamas, and the ultimate trump card (note the lower-case t).

It’s all about that Holy Grail by which the Biden/Blinken/Sullivan/Austin/Power/Amr foreign policy hopes to memorialize its legacy. A 2-State solution.

The Hamas (read: Iranian) invasion of Israel on October 7 and the subsequent months of an Israeli response that has been hampered by an American stick in the wheels of the Israeli military spokes have brought the United States one step closer – where it always wanted to be – to former Undersecretary of State George Ball’s preferred American Middle East policy (April 1977): Saving Israel in spite of herself.

That is the greatest danger of all. It is why the progressive voters of Michigan will indeed vote for Joe Biden (or whomever the Democrats might wish to replace him with as we near November 2024).

Olivia Reingold and Eli Lake: Among the Activists Plotting to Disrupt the DNC
In a room full of 450 far-left activists, a leader with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization kicks off a chant: “Protest is a right—not just for the rich and white.”

“Have you heard that the Democratic National Convention is coming to Chicago?” Joe Iosbaker asks the crowd. “Are we going to let ’em come here without a protest? This is Chicago, goddamn it—we’ve got to give them a 1968 kind of welcome.”

In 1968, the Democratic Convention in Chicago was a bloodbath, with 600 arrests in one street battle that was broadcast all over the world. And the group that met here last Saturday, in the local headquarters of the Teamsters Union, wants to repeat history when Joe Biden is named the presidential nominee at the DNC this August. They oppose the president they call “Genocide Joe” for backing Israel in its war against Hamas.

“If we don’t get a permit, are we still going to march?” Iosbaker asked the crowd, who responded with a chorus of “Yeah!”

“Are we still gonna march within sight and sound? Are we gonna let Genocide Joe come here and not hear us and see us? No! From Chicago to Palestine, protesting is not a crime.”

Over a single day, the “March on DNC 2024” conference gathered 75 organizations to discuss how they plan to disrupt the convention. Speakers told the crowd how to flood the streets without getting arrested, how to spot members of the Secret Service, and how to say “Death to America” in Farsi. At one point, when news of Iran’s attack on Israel spread throughout the room, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Later that day, Jerry Boyle, an attorney and volunteer for the National Lawyers Guild, a nonprofit that says it acts “as the legal arm of social movements and the conscience of the legal profession,” gave a pep talk on how to “know your power” and overwhelm the police.

“My colleagues will be here later today talking about your rights,” Boyle told the crowd. “Think of it more about power and the risk you present to the police.”

He told attendees to look out for police carrying “mass arrest kits,” which he says contain supplies like “a bunch of flex cuffs and all the paperwork” for a bust.

“I’m not here to tell you what the law is,” Boyle told the crowd. “I’m here to tell you what you can get away with.”

The event attracted some unsavory characters. Four speakers have had their homes raided by the FBI for their alleged ties to terrorist groups, and one attendee, Jesse Nevel, was federally charged for “working on behalf of the Russian government.” One “anarchist” distributed his homemade magazine that included drawings of machetes and the essay “In Defense of Looting.”

To Fix Their Problems, Universities Must Reaffirm Their Commitment to the Pursuit of Truth
Yesterday, the president of Columbia University testified before Congress about anti-Semitism at her institution, and efforts to combat it. Among the faculty members Minouche Shafik was asked about was Joseph Massad, who has taught at the school since 1999 and who praised the October 7 massacres as “awesome.” Martin Kramer has been warning about the rot at Columbia, and Massad in particular, since the early 2000s, and his writings about the subject are worth revisiting. These include his 2014 article dissecting the use of the Holocaust inversion—the accusation that Israel is the true successor to Nazi Germany—by Massad and three of his Columbia colleagues.

When Massad—for whom hating Israel is a personal and professional preoccupation—was up for tenure in 2009, Kramer explained that he is not some sort of fringe extremist, but a representative of what Columbia, and Middle East studies, have become:
Joseph Massad is the . . . ultimate mutant in the Columbia freak show. . . . I once described Massad as “the flower of Columbia University,” a thoroughly Columbia creation. Columbia gave him his doctorate, Columbia University Press published it, and Columbia gave him his tenure-track job. Massad himself recognized that Columbia couldn’t disown him without somehow disowning itself.

At present, defenders of Massad and similar figures are loudly insisting that they are sticking up for freedom of speech, while condemning the supposed hypocrisy of conservative critics of cancel culture who, they allege, are now trying to cancel critics of Israel. But to Kramer the key problem with Massad is not his opinions about what should happen in the Middle East, or the way he may have treated Jewish students, but his belief that Israel is nothing more than a foreign, European colonialist presence in the Middle East—something that isn’t true:
The tragedy of the academy is that it has become home to countless people whose mission is to prove this lie. They do research, write books, and deliver lectures, all with the same purpose: to establish the truth of a falsehood. . . . The point that students should press at Columbia is this: we are tired of being lied to, even in a postmodern environment where truth is fungible. There is a pattern and a culture, and it does not just relate to classroom conduct. . . . This is a demand for truth, and this is what Columbia owes us.

Resolving Columbia’s crisis is a matter of practicalities. But these practicalities must be subordinate to principles. Advocacy teaching is antithetical to the truth-speaking mission of the university. Columbia has been compromised; it must now redeem itself. And it must do so not only by reaffirming its commitment to academic freedom, but by reaffirming its commitment to truth.
Here are the Columbia University professors ripped for anti-Israel remarks, pro-Palestinian indoctrination
As Columbia University’s president insisted Wednesday that the Ivy League school was doing all it could to crackdown on rising antisemitism, the campus remains filled with a slew of professors who have a history of spewing controversial remarks.

Ranging from a politics professor who declared that the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel was “awesome” to another who boasted “Yes, I’m with Hamas,” Columbia President Minouche Shafik was forced to address some of her faculty’s remarks as she was grilled by lawmakers in Washington DC.

At least three faculty members — Joseph Massad, Mohamed Abdou and Katherine Franke — were mentioned specifically by name during the congressional hearing. Others, though, have also been ripped over their history of remarks.

Here’s are Columbia’s most controversial professors and their incendiary remarks:

A professor of modern Arab politics and history, Massad has been teaching at the Ivy League school for the past 25 years. Massad, who earned his PhD at Columbia in 1998, teaches within the university’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS), according to his bio.

The tenured academic has faced widespread calls to be fired ever since he referred to the Oct. 7 attack inflicted by Hamas terrorists as “awesome” and a “stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance.”

“The sight of the Palestinian resistance fighters storming Israeli checkpoints separating Gaza from Israel was astounding,” Massad penned in a 1,800 word essay published 24 hours after the bloodshed.

“Perhaps the major achievement of the resistance in the temporary takeover of these settler-colonies is the death blow to any confidence that Israeli colonists had in their military and its ability to protect them.”

A student-led petition calling for him to be axed over those remarks has received more than 78,000 signatures.

Massad, who once called Israel “a racist state”, has also previously come under fire for allegedly spewing anti-Israeli remarks in class and for comparing Hamas aggression against Israel to the Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis during WWII.

Abdou was brought on as a visiting Columbia scholar for the spring 2024 semester and teaches a weekly class on “Decolonial-Queerness & Abolition.”

The bio on Columbia’s website describes Abdou as “a North African-Egyptian Muslim anarchist interdisciplinary activist-scholar of Indigenous, Black, critical race and Islamic studies, as well as gender, sexuality, abolition and decolonization.”

Just days after the Oct. 7 attack, Abdou controversially declared on social media, “Yes, I’m with Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.”
Columbia University President Testifies on Explosion of Campus Anti-Semitism
Columbia University president Minouche Shafik gave congressional testimony Wednesday on the explosion of campus anti-Semitism. Facing questions from the Republican-led House Education Committee, Shafik said that "anti-Jewish protests" have not taken place at Columbia—then reversed course.

"You were asked, 'Were there any anti-Jewish protests?' and you said no," said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.), noting that there have been chants of "Jews out" on Columbia's campus.

"So, the protest was not labeled as an anti-Jewish protest, it was labeled as an anti-Israeli government protest … but anti-Semitic things were said," Shafik responded.

"I'm not asking what it was labeled. … It is an anti-Jewish protest, you agree with that? You change your testimony?" Stefanik said.

"Anti-Jewish things were said at protests, yes," Shafik responded after pausing and shuffling in her chair.

Shafik also said the school's "current rules" do not consider the chant "globalize the intifada" to be "not acceptable." She pledged to ensure "faculty do not cross the line in terms of discrimination and harassment" and condemned a Middle Eastern studies professor, Joseph Massad, who called Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel "awesome" and "astounding."

Shafik nonetheless confirmed that Massad remains on Columbia's faculty.

"He has been spoken to," she said. "In his case, he has not repeated anything like that ever since."

Shai Davidai: My response to President Shafik's (of Columbia University) Congressional Testimony

York University faculty group recommends defining support of Israel as 'racism'
A York University faculty committee has recommended that the school henceforth define any acknowledgement of Israel’s existence as evidence of “anti-Palestinian racism.”

According to an April 5 “recommendations report” leaked to National Post, an official committee within York’s Department of Politics has proposed that any defence of Israel be viewed as “anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic, and anti-Arab.”

The document cites York University’s official pledge to take “proactive steps to fight racial inequity,” and concludes that this can’t be done unless administrators actively seek to isolate and destroy the Zionist “settler colonial project.”

“The struggle for Palestinian self-determination will support the liberation of all humans and non-humans from colonial oppression,” it reads.

The nine-page document was released by the Department of Politics Palestine Solidarity Committee. In a preamble, the body writes that they were created with faculty approval on Nov, 14, 2023 with a mandate to draft “a departmental definition of anti-Palestinian racism.”

“It is the systematic and structural denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and national liberation, and the collective existence of the Palestinian people, while upholding Zionism,” reads the final definition.

It adds, “Zionism is a settler colonial project and ethno-religious ideology in service of a system of Western imperialism that upholds global white supremacy.”

The committee complains that York University is becoming a landscape of “surveillance, fear, intimidation and repression” for anybody advocating “Palestinian liberation.” As one example, they say that faculty members “should not be pressured to condemn Hamas.”

“More students have expressed or reported feeling that the university has become an unsafe environment,” it reads.

The document makes several references to the importance of “academic freedom” and “free speech.” “Academic freedom allows us to comment and critique on historically and philosophically relevant topics in context and allows for the pursuit of truth and fulfillment of university objectives,” it reads.

However, it is made very clear that these principles should not apply to anybody supportive of Israel, working with Israeli academics, or having any peripheral connection to Israel whatsoever.

The document advocates “severing ties with Zionist departments and institutions” and imposing a total commercial boycott on anything Israeli.

USC Shoah Foundation distances itself from pro-Palestinian valedictorian whose speech was canceled
A Holocaust research center founded by Steven Spielberg has gotten embroiled in a drama over campus Israel speech that is dividing the University of Southern California, where it is housed.

The USC Shoah Foundation is downplaying its role in the school’s academics after the university’s valedictorian, a pro-Palestinian student who earned a minor in “resistance to genocide,” touted her ties to the center.

After USC announced last week that Asna Tabassum would be the valedictorian, pro-Israel groups mounted a campaign against her, citing content on her Instagram page harshly criticizing Israel and Zionism. On Monday, USC’s provost barred Tabassum from delivering a commencement address, a move the campus head of security said was related to specific threats that people would attempt to disrupt the event if she spoke.

In a statement decrying the decision, Tabassum, who majored in biomedical engineering, highlighted one specific aspect of her academic career.

“I am a student of history who chose to minor in resistance to genocide, anchored by the Shoah Foundation, and have learned that ordinary people are capable of unspeakable acts of violence when they are taught hate fueled by fear,” she wrote. “And due to widespread fear, I was hoping to use my commencement speech to inspire my classmates with a message of hope. By canceling my speech, USC is only caving to fear and rewarding hatred.”

The foundation says that it wasn’t involved in her minor.

Campus controversies
“Despite suggestions to the contrary, our Institute is not an academic unit within the university and we do not play a formal role in the degree path of any student,” a representative for the USC Shoah Foundation told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a statement Tuesday. “Recent claims of association with the USC Shoah Foundation are inaccurate and have led to confusion about our role, values, and mission.”

The uproar at USC is the latest in a series of lightning-rod campus controversies related to the Israel-Hamas war that broke out on October 7. North America’s biggest and most prominent universities have struggled to respond to inflamed tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students and faculty. Critics have claimed that campus administrations have frequently buckled to pressure to silence speech on the topic. The president of Columbia University, whose responses to pro-Palestinian protests have frequently made headlines, will testify before Congress on Wednesday.

Antisemitism watchdog accuses Washington Post of 'smear' piece, sympathizing with anti-Israel figures
A nonprofit dedicated to combating antisemitism on Wednesday rebuked a Washington Post story that claimed the group had "upended" the lives of anti-Israel figures.

Calling the story both "disturbing and ironic," StopAntisemitism executive director Liora Rez suggested that The Washington Post often voices support for those who expose rhetoric critical of marginalized groups but has now become sympathetic to Hamas apologists and those who push Jewish conspiracy theories.

"It appears that this particular reporter and his editors only have qualms when Jews defend themselves and take antisemite rhetoric and bring it to the forefront. So, our question is, why are you aligning yourself subconsciously with pro-terror, antisemitic views? That's what we want to know," Rez told Fox News Digital.

On Tuesday, Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma published a piece that included the stories of several individuals who faced real-world consequences after criticizing Israel or expressing support for Hamas.

It included the story of Dani Marzouca, who said in an Instagram livestream that "radical solidarity with Palestine means … not apologizing for Hamas."

Marzouca was fired shortly after StopAntisemitism posted the video to its X page.

"Hamas is a U.S.-designated terror organization, and we have this woman essentially spewing pro-terror propaganda, stating that if you want to be pro-Palestinian, you have to be pro-terrorism. It's insanity," Rez said.

The StopAntisemitism executive said her group applauds Marzouca's employer for taking swift action.

"If I personally was working with somebody who wanted my demise, the death of myself as a Jewish woman, I wouldn't want to be working with somebody like that," Rez added.
After Review, New York Times Stands by Its Editorial on Pausing Aid to Israel
An editorial in the New York Times — published online over the weekend as Iranian missiles and drones were about to head for Israel and in print the morning after the attack — called for US President Joe Biden to “consider pausing military transfers to Israel.”

“America cannot continue, as it has, to supply Israel with the arms it has been using in its war against Hamas,” the Times editorial board said.

In addition to being tastelessly timed, the editorial was rife with factual and logical errors.

One of the most glaring mistakes came in the third sentence of the editorial, which referred to “the US commitment to Israel — including $3.8 billion a year in military aid, the largest outlay of American foreign aid to any one country in the world.”

In fact, according to, an official US government site, Ukraine got $16.7 billion in 2023 and $12.4 billion in 2022, while Israel got $3.3 billion in both 2022 and 2023.

Even if the Times‘s $3.8 billion figure, perhaps reflecting missile defense expenditures or a boost in post-Oct. 7 emergency assistance, was accurate for Israel, the Ukraine sums were still significantly larger.

I emailed the New York Times to ask whether it would correct that error. The Times opinion editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, wrote back directly to tell The Algemeiner, “We have reviewed and stand by the piece as it stands. The reference is to the fact that Israel is cumulatively the largest recipient of American foreign aid, even as Ukraine has surpassed it on an annual basis in recent years.”

The editorial said, “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has ignored his obligations to provide food and medicine to the civilian population in the territory that Israel now controls. In fact, Israel has made it difficult for anyone else to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

It’s not accurate that Netanyahu has “ignored” that obligation; to the contrary, he’s devoted considerable resources to inspecting aid shipments going into Gaza and to reopening border crossings, even while knowing that a portion of the aid would be stolen by Hamas once it entered Gaza. The Israeli government has said that out of 5,893 aid trucks it inspected in the past month, it denied entry to only 29. Even the Times itself conceded that Hamas “bears a major share of responsibility for the suffering inflicted on the people in whose name it purports to act.”
Councilmember Shahana Hanif ignores Jew-hatred
In 2021, when Shahana Hanif was elected to represent Brooklyn’s 39th Council District, progressives throughout the district were excited and optimistic. A Kensington-born daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, Hanif was the first Muslim woman elected to the City Council, with a promise and commitment to represent every resident of the district. Two-and-a-half years later, however, many of her Jewish constituents feel abandoned, betrayed and endangered.

Well before Hamas murdered around 1,200 people and kidnapped another 240 hostages on Oct. 7, Hanif tweeted direct calls to violence like “Globalize the Intifada,” a Hamas terrorist campaign of suicide bombings that killed close to 2,000 Israelis. Later, Hanif was one of only two councilmembers to vote against a City Council resolution to “end Jew-hatred.” Her weak excuse for voting “no” left many saddened and angered.

However, it is since the events of Oct. 7, that Hanif has made her true views and agenda known. Her silence, words, and actions since Hamas’ mass murder and rape have made her constituents, Jews and non-Jews, feel unsupported and unsafe.

Many Jewish residents in Hanif’s district have friends and relatives among those murdered, raped, and kidnapped on Oct. 7. Some of us awoke on that day to follow in real-time, through WhatsApp messages and desperate calls, the brutal murder of loved ones. While elected officials across the world immediately condemned Hamas’ brutality, our councilmember remained silent for five days and offered no support or assistance to the Jews in her district.

Hanif’s first public comment came on Oct. 12, when she published a tweet blaming Israel for the bloodshed. She has participated in demonstrations in which genocidal chants like “From the River to the Sea” were commonplace, not once disassociating herself from them. She hasn’t condemned the antisemitic graffiti or vandalization of property in her district, nor the ripping of hostage posters.

In a city in which antisemitic hate crimes increased 170% between the end of 2022 and the end of 2023, Hanif’s attitude is a blatant dereliction of duty. To add to the harm, Hanif is given cover by fringe anti-Zionist Jewish groups, which do not represent the Jewish community, allowing her to ignore, if not condemn, the 95% of Jews who believe Israel has a right to exist.

In the spirit of constructive dialogue, a multi-racial and ideologically diverse group of 16 Jewish community leaders from her district recently met with the councilmember to express our frustration and dismay. Most of us have been public critics of Israeli policies and have vocally supported Palestinian rights.

We explained our new reality in which Jews who have outward signs of Jewishness have been physically and verbally assaulted. A new reality in which we need to warn our children to hide their Stars of David or not wear a yarmulke in public.

Unmoved by our plight, Hanif’s callous response left us shocked, rattled, and more afraid than before. During that meeting, the councilmember outright stated that she refused to condemn Hamas, she refused to say whether Israel had a right to exist, and told us that she was generally fine with the anti-Israel graffiti.
Peers and MPs demand Sunak proscribe the IRGC as a terror group
Almost 140 MPs and peers including former cabinet ministers from all the main political parties have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to demand that his government finally takes action to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.

The letter says that in the wake of the IRGC-led drone and missile attack on Israel last weekend, the need to proscribe the IRGC, which the government has been considering since the start of last year, is “more crucial and pertinent” than ever.

However, earlier this week Sunak’s spokesman said that the government did not intend to take this step, and that he considered that the UK sanctions levelled against the IRGC as an entity and some of its commanders were sufficient. He repeated the argument that has been made by the Foreign Office since early 2023, that proscription would lead to the closure of the British embassy in Tehran, so depriving Britain of the opportunity to engage diplomatically with the Iranian regime and cutting off the flow of valuable intelligence.

“The IRGC has never posed a greater threat within the UK,” says the letter, which was delivered on Thursday morning. “A range of their activities have been publicly disclosed, causing significant concern across our nation. These include assassination plots uncovered and foiled by MI5, intelligence gathering on British-Jewish targets by UK-based criminal networks, intimidation of journalists including Iranian journalists, and radicalisation in British Islamic centres.

“Additionally, the group has held British citizens as hostages and perpetrated numerous killings. Similar patterns of malicious behaviour have been observed by our European allies, including terror attacks in Germany and thwarted plots in Greece and France. Last month, IRGC thugs reportedly even carried out a stabbing against an Iran International journalist outside his home in Wimbledon” – a reference to the attack on the Iranian dissident TV presenter Pouria Zeraati.

The 137 signatories include Lord Walney, the government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, and span a wide political spectrum, running from the Labour left-winger Baroness Chakrabarti, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, to the right-wing former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who was known to support proscription before she was sacked by Sunak in November.

Arab countries support Israel more than Canada does
Canada stands with Israel, Foreign Affairs Minister M茅lanie Joly said Monday, living up to the Trudeau government’s tradition of empty rhetoric and meaningless bromides.

Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been spouting such banality since the horrendous Oct. 7 massacre.

Yet if the Trudeau government stood with Israel, it wouldn’t have supported an NDP motion to ban arms exports to Israel. And it wouldn’t have agreed to restart funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

But it most certainly would have listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity — something that Trudeau and Joly voted to do six years ago.

The Economist might have had the Liberals in mind when, last month, it published a piece saying that western allies were becoming estranged from Israel.

Featuring a cover headlined, Israel Alone, and illustrated with a solitary Israeli flag waving amid a grim desert scene, The Economist lamented Israel’s “estrangement from the West” and the Gulf Arab states.

And yet, at the moment of Israel’s military need, it wasn’t so alone after all.

As Iran fired more than 300 drones, ballistic and cruise missiles at Israel last weekend, a strange alliance came to its aid.

The Wall Street Journal describes the making of that coalition in an in-depth piece titled, How the U.S. Forged a Fragile Middle Eastern Alliance to Repel Iran’s Israel Attack.

While Jordanian involvement in shooting down Iranian drones and missiles aimed at Israel is well-known, the WSJ makes clear that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also played a part.

Impeached Mayorkas deflects to ‘domestic’ extremism when asked about Middle East threats
Freshly impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas deflected to fears of “domestic violent extremism” Wednesday when asked if the nation is threatened by overseas violence as Iran and Israel engage in open conflict.

“Is there an increased risk in America of some sort of an attack tied to sympathies in the Middle East?” CBS Mornings co-host Tony Dokoupil asked Mayorkas.

“We have seen an increase in antisemitism,” Mayorkas replied. “We have seen an increase in Islamophobia following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.”

There is “no question” sentiments including antisemitism and Islamophobia have placed the security of the United States in a precarious position, according to Mayorkas.

“As Director Wray of the FBI and I have expressed publicly, we are in a heightened-threat environment,” he said. “What we worry about is an increase in what we call domestic violent extremism, the radicalization of individuals already here, driven to violence based on an ideology of hate.”

Still, Mayorkas did not confirm any known credible threats against the nation.

House Republicans delivered two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas Tuesday to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a fiery trial is set to take place.

PMW: Can a mother pray for her son to die as a Martyr?
The PA is incredibly effective at brainwashing people across the generational spectrum to believe that achieving Martyrdom, i.e., dying for Allah, is of supreme value.

Official Palestinian television broadcasts this messaging regularly, making it difficult to miss. On the Moons of Palestine program, which focuses on promoting Martyrdom, Hussein Fawaqa reminisced about how his terrorist brother, Muhammad, would tell his mother from a young age that she would miss him after he dies as a Martyr:

Hussein Fawaqa, brother of terrorist Muhammad Fawaqa: “Praise Allah’s name, He chose [Muhammad Fawaqa], and He chose a path for him that everyone wishes for but not everyone achieves. Ever since he was little he always would talk about Martyrdom: ‘I will die as a Martyr and you will miss me’…He wished for it and he achieved it…”

[Official PA TV, Moons of Palestine, April 9, 2024]

Fawaqa’s mother not only expressed pride about her son’s desires but prayed that her son’s request to die as a martyr would be granted:
“Um Hussein,” mother of terrorist Muhammad Fawaqa: “He would always tell me: ‘I want to be a Martyr, pray for me, mom, that I will die as a Martyr.’ I would tell him: ‘You’re making a precious request of me’; the truth is I prayed for him [that he be granted Martyrdom].”

[Official PA TV, Moons of Palestine, April 9, 2024]

Gaza Stores Full, Markets Overwhelmed with Goods
As the U.S. and other countries pressure Israel to increase food aid to Gaza, Israeli officials say Gaza has been overwhelmed by food aid.

"There is no food shortage in Gaza, and there never was," says an Israeli official.

"The stores are full, the markets are bursting with goods, fruits, vegetables, shawarma, pitas - there is everything. Do you know why they no longer loot convoys? Because there is no shortage. The quantities entering are not normal."

"There is no need to open a passage in northern Gaza, no need to open the port of Ashdod, and also no need for an air corridor in Gaza - because there is no lack of food."

"The air corridor is a crazy operation, the airdrops are unnecessary - they are expensive and the quantities are small, but they photograph well. The UN cannot distribute what enters, so why would more be needed?" an Israeli official said.

In Israel, they believe that the way senior U.S. administration officials express themselves echoes the false claims of Hamas supporters as if genocide is taking place in Gaza.

Is there anything stopping Iran building nuclear weapons?
Tehran calculates that it stands to gain more in terms of sanctions relief and future negotiations by dangling the threat of the bomb than actually building it.

It has carefully cultivated a network of proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas across the Middle East as part of a “forward defence” strategy to contain Israel. Iranian officials have begun talking of their “deterrent”, jargon associated with nuclear bombs, and suggesting that they have the ability to build a bomb when they want to.

Weaponising would be dangerous. Far better instead to leverage the status of a threshold nuclear power.

Escalation carries significant risk to the regime, which explains why the April 13 attack was so clearly telegraphed and more performative than intent on serious damage.

But if Israel retaliates, Tehran could decide it needs the bomb for its own security and has already shown a taste for danger.

“While the recent Iranian attack was ultimately ineffective, it illustrates that the regime in Tehran is deeply reckless, and seemingly comfortable with the risk that one drone or missile strike could have hit a densely populated urban target and completely changed Israel’s response,” Mr Coningham said.

“Iran will pay a steep price for developing nuclear weapons, so it will not make that decision lightly,” Ms Davenport told The Telegraph.

She added: “Escalating tensions between Israel and Iran increases the risk of Tehran determining that nuclear weapons are necessary for its security, particularly if Israel responds to the April 13 attack with a counterstrike on Iranian territory.”

Mr Barnes-Dacey said: “The intelligence suggests they don’t want to weaponise at the moment but that could change on a dime.

“Iran could decide, particularly given the worsening regional situation, that actually ultimately a nuclear deterrent is precisely what it needs in the context of a more aggressive Israel and the prospect of Trump coming back into power.”
Revolutionary Guard commander: Iran could review its ‘nuclear doctrine’ amid possibility of Israeli strike
Iran could review its “nuclear doctrine” amid Israeli threats after Tehran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack, says a senior commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“A review of our nuclear doctrine and politics as well as considerations previously communicated is entirely possible,” says Ahmad Haghtalab, the IRGC commander in charge of nuclear security.

Tehran has long claimed its nuclear program was for civilian purposes. Israel has accused Iran of wanting to acquire an atomic bomb, and has said that it will not allow it to happen.

Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight from Saturday into Sunday morning in its first direct attack on Israeli territory.

The barrage came in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike on what Tehran said was an Iranian consular building in Damascus, that killed seven IRGC soldiers, including two generals.

Israel and its allies shot down the vast majority of the drones and missiles and the attack caused only one injury, but concerns about a potential Israeli reprisal have nevertheless stoked fears of all-out regional war.

Holocaust center director leaves after heckling, lack of support
As Mary Jane Rein prepared to publicly exit her role as executive director of Clark University’s Holocaust center, she attended a local fundraiser for Catholic schools.

After 20 years, she was leaving her job at Clark on bad terms. A member of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Ph.D. program had heckled her at a public event while she prepared to introduce an Israeli military reservist. The university, in her view, had failed to support her, she wrote in a Wall Street Journal essay recounting the episode.

Now, Rein was about to assume a new role overseeing a center for “civic dialogue” at Assumption University. The Catholic gala was her first public outing in that job.

Clark is a private nonsectarian school with a reputation for producing Holocaust scholarship; Assumption, where Rein had previously directed the fundraising program, is Roman Catholic. But though Rein is very involved in her Worcester, Massachusetts Jewish community, she felt a sense of belonging at the Catholic gala event. The gala that night honored a Jewish person, and a cardinal joined via video chat to discuss tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world.

“I felt, this is just a message from God telling me I’ve made the right decision,” Rein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this week.

Rein’s career change reflects two trends: the inhospitality some Jewish employees, students and faculty feel on secular campuses around Israel, and the efforts Christian colleges are putting in to woo Jews looking for a safe space from rising campus antisemitism - something that began prior to October 7 but has taken on new energy. Christian schools made up the lions’ share of a coalition last year that signed an open letter declaring “We stand with Israel against Hamas” and “the fight against Hamas is a fight against evil.” Some have also offered expedited transfers for Jewish students, even at schools like Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, which has almost no Jewish life to speak of.
Swiss vote to ban swastika in crackdown on extremist symbols
Switzerland's parliament on Wednesday approved a motion to ban the Nazis' swastika emblem as part of a crackdown on extremist symbols in the neutral country.

The lower house of parliament voted to prohibit one of the most infamous symbols of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist regime following concerns about rising antisemitism.

The number of antisemitic incidents in Switzerland has leaped since the October 7 massacre and the ensuing Gaza war, according to a report last month.

"Racially discriminatory, violent, extremist and especially National Socialist symbols have no place in our society and should not be used in public," Justice Minister Beat Jans told parliament.

The legal commission of the lower house recommended a speedy implementation of the ban, which has already been approved by the Swiss upper house.

The cabinet must now draft legislation that makes it illegal to wear, publicly display or spread racist, violent, or extremist symbols. The ban would extend to propaganda materials, gestures, slogans, and flags.

The draft legislation would then require final approval by both houses of parliament.

Michael Bloomberg launches regional innovation hubs in war-stricken Israeli cities
Former New York City mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg convened a roundtable discussion of Israeli mayors in Tel Aviv on Thursday to launch a recovery and repair innovation initiative for the hardest-hit cities in Israel amid the war; it was unveiled exclusively to The Jerusalem Post.

The initiative, under Bloomberg Philanthropies, intends to provide both support and expertise based on vast experience in other conflict zones to the most affected communities across Israel that suffered following the massacre on October 7 and during the subsequent war. Committed to providing support for Israel during the war

“I know this continues to be an extremely difficult time for everyone – and for Israel – and that’s why I’m here,” Bloomberg said in his opening remarks. “I have great confidence in Israel’s future – because I believe in the power of those values.

“Those values have been attacked before – and they will be attacked again. But time and again, we have seen the power of people who believe in those values to overcome the worst in human nature. That is America’s story – it is Israel’s story – it’s the story of the free world and it endures because it connects to something deep within the human spirit that no government, and no terrorist group, can kill.”

Seated at the roundtable were mayors from all sectors, Jewish and Arab alike, including Tzvika Brot of Bat Yam; Rafik Halabi of Daliat al-Carmel; Miriam Fierberg of Netanya; Mazen Ghnaim of Sakhnin; Rotem Yadlin of Gezer Regional Council; and Raed Daka of Baka al-Gharbiya.

The group gathered at the Bloomberg Sagol Center for City Leadership at Tel Aviv University to discuss a “new program that will help bring world-class expertise to support 65 localities,” according to Bloomberg.

Tel Aviv University President Prof. Ariel Porat said, “The Israeli government failed to provide its citizens with all kinds of different services. The municipalities could and should play an important role.”
Latma - Stayin’ Alive (CNN’s version of The Exodus)
Breaking news: The real story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt by CNN

Barbra Streisand to Release First Song in Years for Holocaust TV Series, Cites ‘Rise in Antisemitism'
Barbra Streisand will release a new single for the Peacock series The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Peacock announced in a press release Wednesday that Streisand recorded the song “Love Will Survive” for the upcoming adaptation.

“Love Will Survive” will play during the end title of the show. The song is Streisand’s first for a TV series and will be released April 25 ahead of the show’s premiere.

Hans Zimmer composed “Love Will Survive” in collaboration with Kara Talve and Walter Afanasieff, with lyrics by Charlie Midnight. Zimmer and Talve also composed the original score for the show.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the Heather Morris novel of the same name. The show is inspired by the true story of Lale Solokov, a Holocaust survivor who met his wife, Gita, during his time at Auschwitz. Solokov was assigned to tattoo fellow prisoners at the concentration camp.

Harvey Keitel plays an older Lali, who recounts his story to a novice writer (Melanie Lynskey) 60 years later. Jonah Hauer-King and Anna Pr贸chniak play a young Lali and Gita.

“Because of the rise in antisemitism around the world today, I wanted to sing ‘Love Will Survive’ in the context of this series, as a way of remembering the six-million souls who were lost less than 80 years ago. And also to say that even in the darkest of times, the power of love can triumph and endure,” Streisand said in a statement.
The Silencing of the Jewish Poet
Some hope does remain even in these dark times for Jewish poetry. A handful of Jewish poets noted a catalytic effect of the new climate on their creativity and resolve. The poet Matthew Lippmann spoke of a new resolve: “In my experience since Oct. 7 there has been a much more robust need and desire to get poems with/of Jewish content (about the war and about matters around being Jewish) out there, published. […] If anything, it has amped up my desire to send work out that has Jewish content as if to say to the literary community, Hey people, we ain’t going nowhere.”

A Jewish poet who has not personally had negative experiences defined the moment as “an important one to reaffirm my Jewish identity in my work, and I’ve been grateful for the welcome it has received” from the poetry community. Another Jewish poet, who has “published with some non-Jewish sources successfully,” expressed “hope, that it’s not the entire literary world who is gaslighting us.” The poet Clint Margrave had “both positive and negative experiences”: “A lot of the negative experiences come from what I’ve read online by extreme factions of the community. I know a number of poets/editors in the real world who are more thoughtful, nuanced, and supportive. […] I think the decent members of the community, no matter their stance on Israel/Palestine, have all been appalled by the rise of antisemitism. But sadly, the louder, more extreme voices in the community seem to win out online.”

Several Jewish poets resorted to poignant historical or literary parallels to explain their understanding of the post-Oct. 7 atmosphere. Jewish poets refer to Orwellian language in employ of those in the poetry community who stand against Israel. The poet David Biespiel referenced Soviet literary culture as he assessed the conduct of many American poetry institutions and organizations since Oct. 7:
The literary community in the United States, like other communities, moves as a swarm moves. Not true for every entity. But it’s not sad so much as, worse, predictably sad that some communities have gone full Union of Soviet Writers over and over again in reaction to complex, painful national and world news: absolute party and state control in the field of literature, obligatory fealty to the point of denial of opportunities for publication, and slavishly tendentious (to borrow that old Union of Soviet Writers word). I like to think this will pass, for good or for ill.

Almost a third of the 70 respondents emphasized the role of Jewish publications and Jewish literary spaces post-Oct. 7. Conceived back in 2017 as a gathering platform and a tabernacle for Jewish poets, and featuring a series of online resources and an extensive database of Jewish poets, Yetzirah runs poetry readings and features publications by Jewish poets. It held its first conference in the summer of 2023. The poet Maya Bernstein, who is on Yetzirah’s board, summed up the role of the organization: “I think that Yetzirah’s existence […] was born from feelings of unfriendliness/antisemitism/unreceptiveness to Jewish poetry, and that Oct 7th has magnified this tremendously. We’re trying to make space for Jewish poetry and poets in this climate.” By and large, Jewish poets view such Jewish venues as open and tolerant, although a fraction of the respondents voiced concerns that even Jewish spaces do not—or may not welcome—poems that are “too Jewish” or too Judaic.

Yet success stories aside, one of the realizations one makes in surveying American Jewish publications is that the space for Jewish poetry has catastrophically shrunk—even though Jewish poets and readers alike need Jewish publications where works by Jewish poets and, moreover, works with Jewish poetic content, regularly appear. Some of the Jewish periodicals that used to publish poetry almost in every issue have closed down, as Midstream did in 2013, whereas others got out of the poetry business. Others, such as Moment, do not publish poetry in every issue. Of the old guard of American Jewish periodicals, only Lilith, the “independent, Jewish & frankly feminist magazine,” still publishes poetry with regularity—in a feature edited by the poet Alicia Ostriker.

Of Jewish periodicals with sizable audiences, Tablet regularly publishes articles on poetry and poets, with a lesser emphasis on publishing Jewish poetry. The Forward does not publish poetry, although in its Yiddish incarnation it was famously a home for great Jewish writers. Jewish Currents does publish poetry, but this Menshevik magazine caters to an audience of anti-Zionist Jews and regards the arts in general as an adjunct to its political program.

Perhaps the most damaging impact of the wave of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel feeling that has swept through the landscape of American poetry is on the very state of Jewish poets, who feel themselves called on either to affirm or to reject the political frameworks being imposed on them by Jew-haters and Israel-haters. In an atmosphere of aggressively politicized, career-ending hate, it becomes harder for poets to be poets.

In the post-Oct. 7 climate, Jewish poets feel ever more acutely the urgent need for literary publishing spaces with a dedicated Jewish mission and without a prescriptive hostility to Israel. One would be remiss here not to acknowledge the post-Oct. 7 periodicals and projects, of which there are bound to be more, with an overtly Zionist and pro-Israel mission. Here I will highlight three such initiatives, all of them launched in early 2024: Green Golem: The Zionist Literary Magazine, founded by the American Jewish writer Alex Horn, Iron Words Israel War Stories, founded by Hila Bar, a South African Jew who made aliyah and lives in Israel, and OfTheBook, founded by the British Jewish writer and translator Susie Gordon.

These post-Oct. 7 literary venues seek poets who aspire to go beyond what we have become so good at after centuries of living in non-Jewish societies: the art of Jewish apologia.
Meir Y. Soloveichik: Patton’s Poem and the Jews
Patton is one of the great American films, featuring George C. Scott as the brilliant, flawed, and exceedingly idiosyncratic general who believed in reincarnation and insisted he had himself been present at all of the great battles in human history. Toward the beginning of the film, Patton is driving with another general, Omar Bradley, in the Morocco desert, when he spies a battle site from the Punic Wars. He insists that they pull over, and the very modern general is suddenly transported to a scene two millennia earlier. He says to Bradley: “It was here. The battlefield was here. The Carthaginians defending the city were attacked by three Roman Legions. The Carthaginians were proud and brave, but they couldn’t hold. Two thousand years ago. I was here.”

The point is to stress the strangeness of a man who personally identifies with a battle that took place nearly two dozen centuries earlier. Patton had himself written some terrible things about the Jewish people; but for Jews, this scene in particular should not be that odd. We remember, commemorate, and mourn moments that took place in the ancient past, some of them intimately involving defeats at the hands of the very same Romans themselves.

This was brought home to me over the past few months, as I have been teaching a seminar on Josephus’s The Jewish War at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. Josephus’s history chronicles the Jewish rebellion against Rome that broke out in 66 C.E., which concluded with the Romans burning Jerusalem and its Temple, in the year 70. The seminar is conducted in an old-fashioned way. Laptops are prohibited, and the text is studied in print, with members of the class taking turns reading from it aloud. The English translation, composed in the 19th century, contains phrases that students have rarely seen, such as descriptions of troops that “sally” forth from the city; this lends a greater feeling of antiquity to the subject.

But not only antiquity. The course is one of many offered by Yeshiva’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, which focuses on the great works of Judaism and the West, and which includes Aristotle and other classical works in its curriculum. Yet this course is different, for its subject is simultaneously ancient and intimate.

If one were to teach a seminar to American students on the Punic or Peloponnesian Wars, one would have to describe a geography utterly unfamiliar to the students. But these young women are entirely aware of the sites being discussed. If I describe where a specific battle around Jerusalem took place, I merely refer to a current location in the Old City, where these students have been many times. Similarly, when the rest of the Holy Land is described, they have a sense of the layout of the land. If we read of a journey by Titus’s troops from Caesarea to Jerusalem, it is a trip many have taken themselves. If we learn of Vespasian beginning the war in the Galilee and then proceeding south, we are following a journey toward the center of the country that they have all experienced. The students can, in other words, read of battle sites in an ancient text and say of those sites Patton’s words: I was there.

This intimacy makes the material more emotionally affecting, bridging past and present. The story would, of course, be depressing at any time; Josephus describes both the internecine conflict that plagued Jerusalem within, and the havoc wrought on Jews by the siege that Titus established without. But our engagement of the text has taken on a particular pertinence, I think, by the terrible parallels in our own news in the past months. To read of Romans rampaging through Jewish streets, murdering men and women, is to be reminded of Jews murdered in the same way in the past year. Descriptions of piles of Jewish corpses, of the torture of Jews at the hands of the enemy, have dreadful relevance.

The students further perceive, hovering over the text, an impending sense of doom. In synagogue, they have mourned, every year, the ancient events that Josephus describes. I wryly remarked to students, who have told me that they share what they are learning with their families around the Shabbat table, that the material they present every week is progressively more depressing. We all know how the story ends.

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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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