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Apple’s Tim Cook ‘disagrees’ with Donald Trump’s take on neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville – Recode

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for an unequivocal denouncement of the recent neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., stressing he disagreed with comments by President Donald Trump that attributed the violence there to many sides and not to white supremacists.

In a note to Apples employees, obtained Wednesday night by Recode, Cook also announced the company would donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Apple plans to match its employees donations to human rights groups on a 2-for-1 basis until Sept 30. It is also setting up a new system in iTunes, its music software, to offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC, Cook said.

Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values, Cook wrote. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and Ive heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

He added: What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.

Cooks direct rebuke to Trump comes just hours after some of the biggest names in business the leaders of General Electric, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, Intel and other banking, tech and energy giants withdrew from two councils set up to advise the White House on economic and manufacturing issues.

Trump initially claimed he had disbanded his own groups of corporate advisers, but the executives peeled off on their own as a result of the presidents controversial comments about the violence in Charlottesville.

In recent days, Cook has been especially vocal about the incident. Weve seen the terror of white supremacy & racist violence before. It’s a moral issue an affront to America. We must all stand against it, he said in one of his tweets.

Even before the latest controversy, Cook and Trump had maintained a tumultuous but working relationship.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump repeatedly attacked Apple on everything from encryption to manufacturing. And Cook, for his part, withdrew the iPhone giant from sponsoring the Republican presidential convention, given Trumps incendiary comments about women, immigrants and minorities. Cook also held a fundraiser for Trumps Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

More recently, Apple has warred with Trump in debates over immigration and climate change. Behind the scenes, however, Cook has labored to shape the Trump administrations policies on issues from tax reform to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, sources previously told Recode. Cook has sounded off not only with the president individually but also his top advisers, like son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka.

Heres Cooks full note:


Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and Ive heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.

We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.

Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

I believe Apple has led by example, and were going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.

In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30.

In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.

Best, Tim

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Apple’s Tim Cook ‘disagrees’ with Donald Trump’s take on neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville – Recode

Bumble Joins ADL To Ban Hate On Date Site – Forward

Posted By on August 17, 2017

(JTA) The popular dating app Bumble will work with the Anti-Defamation Leagues Center on Technology and Society for guidance on identifying all hate symbols.

The app, which as of February had over 12 million users, announced the partnership Thursday on its website. In a statement, the company called on users to report others who displayed hate symbols in their profiles.

Bumble will use the ADLs research and terminology to identify and categorize hate symbols.

Its statement also said the company was harassed last week by messages and phone calls from a group of neo-Nazis angry about Bumbles stance towards promoting womens empowerment.

Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe started Bumble in December 2014. On Bumble, after a heterosexual match is made between users, only the female user can initiate a conversation.

Also Thursday, the dating app OkCupid said it banned a user who was identified as a white supremacist.

Bumble Joins ADL To Ban Hate On Date Site – Forward

Apple CEO Tim Cook says company will donate $1 million to ADL – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking at the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference at the San Jose Convention Center, June 5, 2017. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(JTA) Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged that his company will donate $1 million each to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center in the wake of the violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Apple also will match employee donations to the two groups and others two for one through September, according to a memo Cook wrote Wednesday night obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Cook said he strongly disagrees with President Donald Trumps comparison between the neo-Nazi and white supremacist protesters and those who opposed their rally in Charlottesville.

Hate is a cancer, Cook wrote. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook says company will donate $1 million to ADL – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Taking back the power to define Zionism – Jewish News (blog)

Posted By on August 16, 2017

Its difficult to fit 2 years of experience in Israel advocacy into these brief words.

When I graduated earlier this summer, I witnessed a pro-Israel movement with more success than ever before, not because we defeated the anti-Israel movement (notice I did not say pro-Palestinian), but rather because, apart from the occasional out of hand protest, we forgot about the anti-Israel haters, and pursued our own goals.

This is where we found what was in my opinion, one of the most important factors in our success, the space to decide where we wanted to steer conversations of Israel on campus.

We started to get out of the doom and gloom of apartheid week, terrorist vigils run by Palsoc or ignorant calls for Jews to go back where they came from (good luck with that buddy), and began to focus on our own vision of Israel as a starting point, and look where it got us.

We began taking our power back, the power to define what Zionism really means, and managed to make significant strides towards more clearly defining Anti-semitism on campus. Much to the credit of the students of the pro-Israel movement, we saw a tech trip to Israel comprised of Imperial students who for the most part were not Jewish or linked to Israel in any way, we brought 25 Israeli students draped in Israeli flags to discuss politics in the SOAS courtyard (who was it that said it would be impossible?), and furthermore we put on Israel Peace week better than ever before, stimulating both friendly and intense dialogue..but dialogue nonetheless.

Of course, there are faults within the movement that should be addressed. A major fault of this movement is that it sees things constantly in terms of victory or loss. We were louder in the room, so we won that round etc etc.

That is a perspective, which I am sorry to say, is too petty.

This is not a movement that should deal with who is winning, and who is losing, seeing as if we look at it in this way, we have already set ourselves up for failure.

Despite our success, do not regard this year as a victory, see it as part of a larger process, in which you can continue to spread your message further and further, reaching more people in different ways.

Add more layers and political perspectives to your message and do all you can to make it more complex. That is when you can bring forth the beauty of this movement, and contribute something from yourself to make it more wholesome.

It is not about just BDS or Politics, it is about whatever you, the students want to talk about. Whether you want to spread knowledge about Israels technological success, its economic success, the differing cultures of the Yerushalmi and the Tel Avivi, or also talk about the Politics, this is your choice, you just need the courage to bring it forth, and the work ethic to make something happen.

As a side request from me to all the Israel Society presidents, please stop filling events with pro-Israel advocates, otherwise the message is going to remain within the bubble of the convinced.

Its nice to see friends I know, but wouldnt it be even better to make new ones at every event? You are university students, get out of the bubble you are used to!

The final issue I believe is the need for a stronger and more bold Union of Jewish Students (UJS) when it comes to Israel. While I know the internal politics of UJS mean that they cant always come out as incredibly pro-Israel at the risk of offending the minority of Jewish students who do not support Israel, UJS must go further to help students who are mistreated by their universities or student unions for voicing support for the Jewish State. I

have heard accounts of too many let down students who need more from UJS than carefully worded statements.

UJS, you need to be braver than these students, for these students, not hiding behind them and their accomplishments. With a real support system behind them, there is little the students cannot accomplish.

My final word is to the students whom I have both worked with, and for the students to come, both of whom I am so fond and proud of

Remember that you are students at university. These should be some of the most interesting and exciting years of your life. Explore your ideas, discover your values, and most of all do not feel as though you carry the fate of Israel on your shoulders.

By all means, stand for what you believe is right, there is no greater experience than this, to put your heart and soul into your beliefs and see the fruits of your hard work, but pursue this movement with joy, and with grace, remembering always to be respectful.

This movement will take you from light hearted to serious conversations in a second, but even the most serious conversations about the politics of the conflict have rays of light shining through them, find those rays and express them in action.

Enjoy, and do all you can to make sure that in years to come when you look back at your memories on campus, a smile comes to your face.

This blog is entirely my own opinion, and not linked to any organisation and/or person in particular.

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Taking back the power to define Zionism – Jewish News (blog)

The Zionist-white supremacist alliance in Trump’s White House – The Electronic Intifada (blog)

Posted By on August 16, 2017

Ali Abunimah Lobby Watch 15 August 2017

Pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson, center, and his wife Miriam speak with Trump advisor Steve Bannon at the presidents inauguration on 20 January 2017.

A much-discussed article in The New York Times about pressure on President Donald Trump to fire his advisor Steve Bannon contains this intriguing sentence:

Mr. Bannons ability to hang on as Mr. Trumps in-house populist is in part because of his connections to a handful of ultrarich political patrons, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the pro-Israel casino magnate who is based in Las Vegas.

As executive chairman of Breitbart News before joining the Trump campaign, Bannon transformed the right-wing outlet into what he described as the the platform for the alt-right the collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and racists who have been the renewed focus of outrage since their violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

Bannon is widely viewed as the champion of the white supremacists some of whom were openly parading with Nazi flags and the reason why Trump did not explicitly condemn them immediately after one of their number, allegedly James Alex Fields, 20, rammed his car into counterdemonstrators killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring more than a dozen others.

Hence the renewed pressure on Trump to fire Bannon. But if Bannon supports the white supremacist and clearly anti-Semitic far-right, why does he enjoy the backing of Adelson?

The Las Vegas billionaire, as is well known, is a major financier of the US Republican Party and one of the biggest donors to pro-Israel organizations in the United States. Adelson has said he regrets serving in the US army, instead of Israels.

He is also a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and thats where the answer can be found.

Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, have been conspicuously silent about Nazis rampaging in Charlottesville all the more strange since Israel is usually quick to exploit international events to its advantage. (After three days of silence, Netanyahu finally, on Tuesday, tweeted a general condemnation of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism without specifically mentioning Charlottesville.)

Why is the Jewish state apparently so reluctant to speak out against Nazis?

While Israel purports to be the protector of Jews all over the world, Zionists historically made alliances with the worlds most lethal anti-Semites. Zionists and anti-Semites, after all, shared the analysis that Jews do not belong in Europe, so why not cooperate to transport them somewhere else Palestine.

This odious alliance continues in updated form, as journalist Max Blumenthal observed:

A cornerstone of Israels policy today is to cement ties with other ultra-nationalist, racist and Islamophobic forces around the world even if they are also anti-Semitic.

A striking example is Netanyahus own embrace of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, despite the latters recent praise for Viktor Horthy, the wartime ally of Hitler who oversaw the murder of 500,000 Holocaust victims.

Israels interests took precedence over the safety concerns of Hungarian Jews, as Netanyahu ordered his foreign ministry to tamp down criticism of Orbans anti-Semitic dog whistles.

Notably, Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi ideologue who wants to create an Aryan homeland in North America, has called his mission a sort of white Zionism. Spencer has ties to another senior White House advisor, Stephen Miller.

A similar ideological alliance prevails inside the White House. And Israel has guarded it: Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, publicly defended Bannon in the days following last Novembers election, after American Jewish groups strongly criticized Bannons appointment to a top position.

But the Adelson-Bannon partnership is also one of convenience. The Adelson-backed Zionist Organization of America is waging a campaign against Trumps National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, which aims to portray the army general as hostile to Israel.

McMaster also happens to be one of Bannons key opponents inside the White House.

Establishment Israel lobby figures, such as the Obama administrations ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, have leapt to McMasters defense:

There are substantive issue at stake. Part of Bannons ultra-nationalist America First agenda is opposing some US military interventions, particularly a renewed surge in Afghanistan that is supported by McMaster and US defense secretary James Mattis.

That is not Adelsons or Netanyahus interest however. Bannon and other ultra-right figures including White House advisor Sebastian Gorka have been key opponents of the international deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program. Blocking or undermining the Iran deal has been Netanyahus preoccupation for years.

Bannon and Gorka furiously opposed the State Departments recent certification that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement.

The Zionist Organization of Americas key allegation against McMaster is that he is too sympathetic towards Iran.

Reporting by The Forward revealed that Gorka is a member of a Hungarian far-right group that was controlled by the Nazis during the war, and has given backing to an anti-Semitic militia.

For those who support justice and oppose war and racism, there is no side to choose in this battle. On one side, you have the Bannon-Adelson faction pushing extreme Zionism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and possible war with Iran. On the other, you have have the McMaster faction, backed by the DC establishment, which wants to perpetuate Americas existing imperial wars, starting with escalation in Afghanistan.

Adelson doesn’t have a problem with anti-Semites. He has a problem with anti-Zionists. And despite protestations to the contrary, he knows the difference.

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The Zionist-white supremacist alliance in Trump’s White House – The Electronic Intifada (blog)

Berl Katznelson backers want day in his memory – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on August 16, 2017

Berl Katznelson 88 224. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Israel marks special days in honor of Zionist visionaries Theodor Herzl and Zeev Jabotinsky and must do the same for Labor Zionism intellectual founder Berl Katznelson, his intellectual heirs in the Labor Party and the Berl Katznelson Education Center said Wednesday, on the eve of the 73rd anniversary of Katznelsons death on the Jewish calendar.

A ceremony at his grave on the Sea of Galilee will be held Thursday on the anniversary, but under a bill that will be proposed by Zionist Union faction head Merav Michaeli, Katznelson Day would be marked every year by teaching his legacy at schools nationwide. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus coalition has blocked the legislation so far, but Labor secretary-general Eran Hermoni said he believes it can be passed.

The narrative of Berl Katznelson has been forgotten, and Netanyahu wants it to be forgotten, Hermoni complained. There has been a trend on the Right of trying to create new historical narratives. To mark Jabotinsky Day in honor of the ideological mentor of the Right and not mark Katznelson Day twists history.

Hermoni noted that when the Left was in power, it honored Jabotinsky by bringing his remains to Israel during the tenure of Labor Party prime minister Levi Eshkol. Berl Katznelson Education Center director Rami Hod said the Left does not do enough to fight for its legacy but the Right does because it feels it has to.

It makes sense that the fathers of both sides be commemorated, Hod said. It would help the students learn to respect the views of two sides. Its not fair that the patriotism of the Zionist Left is questioned. There is a lack of legitimacy to be left-wing these days.

Asked if the Right felt any different when it was out of power, Hod said he could understand that the Right felt it was blocked from being part of the Israeli consensus back then, but added, What happened before does not legitimize what is being done to the Left today.

The Berl Katznelson Education Center, located at Beit Berl on the outskirts of Kfar Saba, runs educational activities focused on Katznelsons ideals of Zionism and social democracy. Katznelson (1887-1944), the spiritual leader of the Labor movement during the British Mandate, helped form pre-state social welfare networks that still exist.

Hermoni said he is not concerned that the Right will continue to block the bill.

We expect the coalition to be loyal to history, he said. If not, we will pass it next Knesset when we are in power and [Labor chairman] Avi Gabbay is prime minister.

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Berl Katznelson backers want day in his memory – The Jerusalem Post

This Undercover Spy Operation Helped Foil a Nazi Plot in 1930s LA – L.A. Weekly

Posted By on August 16, 2017

German American Bund meeting, 1935

CRC Papers

In the spring of 1933, a police report submitted to LAPD captain William “Red” Hynes noted “considerable quantities” of Nazi literature littering the streets of downtown Los Angeles. A new group in town, Friends of the New Germany (FNG), was thought to be the source of this sudden burst of Nazi propaganda. Over the next several weeks Hynes, captain of LAPD’s “Red Squad” intelligence unit, assigned men to keep an eye on the new group. On Aug. 1, 1933, he sent detective R.A. Wellpott undercover to attend FNG’s second public meeting.

The meeting was held at 902 S. Alvarado St. in a mansion that had been converted into a German-American community center, of sorts. It housed an old-style German restaurant, the Alt Heidelberg; a new bookshop, the Aryan Bookstore; and a meeting hall. Approximately 100 people gathered in the hall for the meeting. Wellpott reported that a makeshift stage was set up in the hall, with a speaker’s podium flanked by an American flag, the imperial German flag and the Nazi (swastika) flag. Fifteen young men dressed in brown shirts, “whose arms bulge with excess power,” were scattered about the hall, “guarding” the meeting.

The meeting began with a phonograph recording of a German march. The West Coast leader of Friends of the New Germany, Robert Pape, called the meeting to order. A keynote speaker spoke on “the German-Jewish conflict,” explaining that Nazis wanted to prevent the “bastardization of Germany” by eliminating Jews from power. When several people in the audience jumped up in protest, they were swept out of the meeting by the brown-shirted attendants. The meeting resumed with recorded speeches by Hindenburg and Hitler played on the phonograph. At the end of the evening, the attendees rose and gave the Nazi salute while the new German national anthem was played.

FNG’s political activities in Los Angeles raised concern among Jewish and non-Jewish groups alike. The Jewish community newspaper B’nai B’rith Messenger (no relationship to the fraternal order of the same name) took notice of Nazi activity in the city in April. An article, “Hitlerites Organize Branch Here,” claimed that Nazi propaganda agents had been sent to Los Angeles by Berlin. The paper even printed the alleged agents’ names and addresses on the front page and called for their immediate deportation.

The Jewish press, the secular press, the Red Squad and local Jewish groups were just some of the groups in Los Angeles that viewed Nazi activity in the city with concern. Another group also was watching with concern: the city’s veterans organizations. In the spring and summer of 1933, Friends of the New Germany focused its recruitment efforts on local veterans. FNG leaders assumed that U.S. veterans would flock to join their group, presuming that the former military members felt just as betrayed by the American government over recent cuts in their veterans’ benefits as the FNG themselves had felt with the Weimar government in Germany at the end of World War I.

Herman Schwinn, West Coast leader of the German American Bund, 1934-1941

CRC Papers

Among the first veterans to be approached by FNG officers was the former U.S. Army lieutenant John Schmidt. Schmidt was the perfect potential FNG recruit. Born in Germany in 1879, Schmidt was a career soldier. In his teens, he had served in the German imperial army. In 1900, Schmidt immigrated to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Army after his naturalization was complete in 1908. Even though Schmidt was an American citizen, FNG leaders believed that loyalty was determined by blood, not by the artifice of naturalized citizenship. He was precisely the type of recruit FNG was hoping to win.

However, FNG leaders were mistaken. Schmidt was neither disloyal nor angry. True, he had been born in Bavaria, and he was a U.S. veteran. Schmidt even had cause to be disillusioned with the U.S. government. Following the war, he had been hospitalized for six years with what today would be considered post-traumatic stress disorder. He suffered from chronic physical and emotional pain as a result of his military service and in 1930 had lost most of his disability pension when, in the wake of the stock market crash, Congress made sweeping budgetary cuts, which significantly reduced benefits to disabled veterans.

Yes, Schmidt should have been the perfect recruit for FNG; but he wasn’t. Schmidt was a loyal and patriotic American. He was a member of the Americanism Committee and one of the city’s several veterans organizations, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War (DAV). Schmidt was committed to the nation’s defense, even as he carried the emotional scars, physical disabilities and financial wounds from his World War I service.

On Aug. 17, 1933, Schmidt went over to FNG headquarters on South Alvarado Street to check out the group. There he met FNG gauleiter Robert Pape, Herman Schwinn and bookstore co-owner Paul Themlitz. Schmidt then submitted his first written report on FNG to fellow Americanism Committee member Leon Lewis. Using code name “11,” Schmidt described what he learned about Friends of the New Germany to Lewis. FNG’s mission, Schmidt reported, was to fight communism. FNG leaders, he wrote, “show[ed] me plenty of literature proving without a doubt that Communism was part of the Jewish plan of things and that therefore we must all combine to show the Jew as the author of all our troubles in America and throughout the world.” Pape told Schmidt that the purpose of FNG was to drive Jews and Catholics out of government in the United States and replace them with German-Americans. Pape told Schmidt that he was confident that, once in power, German-Americans would lead the movement to bring Hitlerism into America.

Pape was concerned that veterans misunderstood Friends of the New Germany. He told Schmidt that recent resolutions passed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion denouncing Nazism were misguided and misinformed. FNG was committed to defending Americanism and fighting communists, Pape told Schmidt. FNG wanted to ally with American veterans against their common enemy. Pape encouraged Schmidt to bring some of his American Legion and VFW friends to FNG’s next membership meeting to help forge new friendships, and he invited Schmidt to speak at the meeting. Schmidt agreed to both requests.

Schmidt returned to 902 S. Alvarado St. a few days later with his wife, Alyce. They dined at the Alt Heidelberg restaurant. The ambience and the food, Schmidt wrote in his reports, were reminiscent of the old country. The Alt Heidelberg was decorated in the style of an old German beer hall. Dinner there was a Depression-era bargain: three courses for 60 cents and beer for a nickel. The restaurant attracted an older German-American crowd, but lately, a rowdier, younger crowd of pro-Nazi German nationals had also been frequenting the place.

During the dinner, Alyce got up and left the table to find the powder room. Making her way up the stairs to the second floor, she was stopped by a woman who was agitated to find Alyce on the landing.

“Verboten!” Alyce was told. Alyce turned around and went back downstairs to her table.

Schmidt wrote that he had the distinct impression that there were secrets on the upper floors: “I am sure they have arms and equipment someplace. If it is in the house, I will know it soon.”

Schmidt’s early visits to FNG convinced him that Friends of the New Germany was no friend of democracy. He related his early observations to the Disabled American Veterans post commander Captain Carl Sunderland and DAV state adjutant Major Bert Allen. Both men agreed to join Schmidt in his undercover investigation of L.A.’s Nazis.

Sunderland accompanied Schmidt to lunch at the Alt Heidelberg a week after Schmidt’s first visit, in early September, to meet with bookstore owners Themlitz and Hans Winterhalder. At the end of the meeting, Sunderland was convinced that the Nazis were smart, systematic and dangerous: “You know, Schmidt, when you first brought me down here, I thought you were playing a joke on me, and when I first met these guys, I thought it was all kid’s play. Now I’m convinced that if they ever find you out, they are going to massacre you so that your own mother wouldn’t know you. These fellows are covering up an awful lot and I surely would like to get to the bottom of this matter.”

Sunderland went on: “Such a mob has no place in the United States. These men are not only out to drive the Jews from their public positions and destroy their properties but also they would not stop at starting any kind of trouble in this country which would serve their purpose. … The[se] Nazis are not just against Jews. … [They are] out to overthrow the United States.”

Anti-Hollywood handbill, 1938

CRC Papers

Socializing with FNG officers proved as informative as attending FNG meetings. Alcohol loosened them up. They shared more with their new American friends than they probably should have concerning the secret political objectives of their organization. One evening in late September 1933, the DAV volunteers learned about FNG’s plans for der tag, “the day” when the Nazi revolution would begin in the United States. Sunderland, the Schmidts, and the Allens, with their wives, went out with Winterhalder and two FNG officers for an evening of drinking, dancing and political conversation to the Loralei Restaurant, a German-American beer hall patronized by Nazis. According to reports filed by all three DAV informants, FNG was training a private militia to foment a Nazi-led insurrection in the United States. The plan called for FNG to incite unrest among American workers to hasten a communist insurrection, whereupon FNG and veteran allies would come to the rescue, “consolidat[ing] and march[ing] in military phalanxes to take the government.”

“The kikes … run this country,” stormtroop commander Diederich Gefken told his new DAV friends. Jews, Gefken asserted, were responsible for the rotten deal vets were getting, and he was confident that American veterans were ready to vindicate themselves just as German veterans had done. He told Sunderland, “Thousands of stormtroopers in the U.S. were ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. veterans when the time came … to help them take back the government from Communists and Jews.” The uprising would start in cities where FNG was most active, like St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, and then spread across the country. Within two weeks of the insurrection, Protestant churches in the United States, led by the Lutheran Church, would launch a boycott of Jewish businesses. “That will take care of the ‘Goddamn jews [sic].'”

Gefken, Pape and Schwinn also were eager to infiltrate the Los Angeles National Guard as part of their preparation for der tag. They peppered Schmidt with questions: How many Jews were in the U.S. armed forces? How many men were in the local National Guard? Would the National Guard be loyal in an uprising that targeted only Jews? Gefken and his friend Zimmerman were particularly eager to infiltrate the machine-gun company of the California National Guard to learn the American system of military training firsthand. Pape wanted to get into the National Guard to learn telegraphy. Could Schmidt get FNG men into key National Guard units in Southern California so that they could propagandize from within?

FNG had orders to secure the blueprints for the National Guard armories in San Diego and San Francisco. Gefken asked Sunderland if he could get the floor plans of the Southern California armory and of the National Guard aircraft unit in San Diego. Several FNG members had already joined the National Guard in San Francisco, Gefken reported, and had acquired the floor plan of the Northern California armory, which showed the precise storage location of munitions, supplies and weapons in the building.

Sunderland asked Gefken how FNG planned to acquire more arms. Gefken replied, “Well, it is difficult to smuggle them into the United States on ships. Ships have to go through the [Panama] Canal, where their cargo is checked. Guns can be smuggled in from Mexico and Canada. All stormtroops have personal weapons, but we’ve been instructed not to carry them in public because that would violate resident alien laws. When the zero hour comes, we will not hesitate to bring them out.” In reporting this conversation, Sunderland reminded fellow Americanism Committee member Lewis that the movie studios had explosives. He recommended that background checks be conducted on German studio workers and that the studios take steps to secure their explosives.

Schmidt, with Lewis’ assistance, proved his worth to FNG officers. Informing the National Guard’s commander about the new recruits, Schmidt arranged positions for Gefken and Zimmerman in the machine gun company of the Southern California National Guard. Unfortunately, neither Gefken nor Zimmerman was admitted: Gefken because he had false teeth and Zimmerman because he could not promise to be punctual to drills because of his day job.

Nazi salute in court, Los Angeles Times, January 1934

Los Angeles Times

FNG’s Aryan Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles also was critical to the political preparation for “der tag.” To passersby, the store was just a shop that specialized in books on National Socialism. In reality, the shop was a front for Nazi headquarters in Los Angeles. Many of the books, magazines and newspapers sold at the shop were published in Germany by the Ministry of Propaganda and exported to America to cultivate Nazism in the United States. The anti-Semitic content in this literature ran the gamut from rabid Jew-bashing to more subtle analyses of both contemporary events and world history that disguised their anti-Semitic agenda in the cloak of “academic scholarship.” Schmidt found orders to Pape from New York on managing the shop: Bookshop personnel were all to be educated in National Socialism and were required to have read Mein Kampf. All bookstore personnel were to be American, and women were to do all the selling.

The back rooms of the Aryan Bookstore in Los Angeles housed the headquarters for Friends of the New Germany. Schmidt’s pencil drawing of the store’s layout showed the shop’s small retail space in the front, with a door that led to the back workroom and several private offices for FNG leaders. Schmidt’s daily reports indicated that the back rooms often were busier than the retail space. FNG leaders used the offices to conduct daily business, responding to correspondence from New York, planning their next public rally, and receiving a parade of local allies including German vice consul Georg Gyssling and leaders of domestic right-wing groups the FNG was courting. Schmidt noted that the doors to the offices were padlocked when they were not in use. Alyce Schmidt, who did most of her work for Pape in the reading room, listened in on backroom conversations and reported what she heard to Lewis of the Americanism Committee.

A few weeks after John Schmidt submitted his first report to Lewis on Friends of the New Germany, Lewis called Red Squad captain William “Red” Hynes and asked to meet him. Hynes was in a hurry when Lewis called but told Lewis to meet him in front of the captain’s office at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce building, and Lewis could walk with him to his appointment at police headquarters. Lewis walked the few blocks from his office to the Chamber of Commerce building to meet Hynes. This was not the first time the two men had met. For several months, Lewis and Hynes had been sharing notes on Nazi activity in the city literally. Hynes shared police reports with Lewis and allowed him to copy them. Lewis, on the other hand, had secured private funding to pay for Hynes’ undercover man. As the two men walked briskly toward police headquarters, Hynes told Lewis that he did not have the funds to continue paying agent “M” anymore. “It will cost us $150 per month in salary plus expenses to maintain this operation,” Hynes told Lewis, “and we just don’t have the money right now.”

Lewis told Hynes that he had discussed the matter with Irving Lipsitch, president of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Lipsitch and Lewis had decided that Lewis, along with an unnamed local merchant and two other Jewish attorneys, would get Hynes the money he needed. “But, I’d rather that ‘M’ stay on your payroll,” Lewis told Hynes. “I do not wish to have any direct dealings with a private detective.”

“I don’t blame you,” Hynes replied. “And, of course,” Lewis assured him, “there would be a piece of change in it for you, too.” “That would be fine,” Hynes said.

Was the “piece of change” that Lewis promised Hynes a bribe? Possibly. The LAPD was notoriously corrupt. It is possible that Lewis’ offer of “a piece of change” was simply Lewis playing politics the way politics was played with the Red Squad. There is no further mention of payoffs to Hynes after this meeting. Hynes remained helpful to Lewis until the reform-minded mayor Fletcher Bowron disbanded the Red Squad in 1938.

Gastube Restaurant, Deutsches Haus, Los Angeles

CRC Papers

On March 13, 1934, a parade of cars carrying studio heads, directors, producers, screenwriters and actors rolled past Hillcrest’s unmarked stone gates at 10000 W. Pico Blvd. on the edge of Beverly Hills. The minutes of the meeting, found in the Los Angeles archive, list the attendees, which included top studio executives and filmmakers from MGM, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Studios, RKO, Universal Pictures and United Artists.

The dinner guests took their seats around the banquet table, where they found copies of the anti-Semitic Silver Shirt newspapers, Liberation and The Silver Ranger. Both papers viciously attacked the Jews of Hollywood as enemies of Christian America. The Silver Ranger was published right in Los Angeles, and both were distributed nationally.

After dinner, the group adjourned to a meeting room, where Leon Lewis reported on the behind-the-headlines details of the recent local court case that Lewis and his DAV colleagues had engineered to exposed Nazi activity in Los Angeles. Lewis told his audience that the veterans who had testified at the trial had infiltrated FNG under his guidance.

“We knew that the evidence regarding Nazi activity was not properly admissible,” Lewis told his guests, but the judge had allowed evidence into the record anyway for the sake of the publicity the trial would attract.

Lewis went on to explain that the undercover operation had cost him $7,000. Lewis told the moguls that in order to maintain this “anti-defamation work,” their financial support was required. Lewis proposed that a full-time publicity man be hired to work in the tradition of the Anti-Defamation League to fight Nazism in the city. This would relieve Lewis of the task and allow him to return to his law practice, which “had been shot to hell” in the previous six months because of the investigation.

His dinner guests were attentive. The Jewish executives of the motion picture industry did not need a primer on the implications of Nazis in Los Angeles or on the implications of anti-Semitism for themselves. They had been in the crosshairs of anti-Semitic attacks for more than a decade from Protestant and Catholic groups concerned that motion pictures, in the hands of “former pants-pressers and button-holers,” presented a direct threat to American virtue. In fact, just six months earlier, Catholic Church leaders had organized a nationwide protest against the industry and threatened a national boycott of motion pictures if the Jews of Hollywood did not capitulate to a production code written by, and monitored by, the church’s chosen representatives. At a meeting with the archbishop of Los Angeles in 1933, the church’s lay representative, attorney Joseph Scott, warned the moguls that “the dirty motion pictures they were making, along with other invidious activities on the part of the Jews, were serving to build up an enormous case against the Jews in the eyes of the American people.” Scott reminded them that certain groups in America were sympathetic to the Nazi purpose and were organizing to attack Jews in America, and that “what was going on in Germany could happen here.”

Scott’s warning may have been ringing in their ears that night at Hillcrest as they discussed Lewis’ proposal. Rabbi Magnin, Judge Roth, Marco Hellman and Irving Thalberg all spoke up in support of the proposed program. Louis B. Mayer was emphatic about continuing the operation: “There can be no doubt as to the necessity of carrying on, and I for one am not going to take it lying down. Two things are required, namely money and intelligent direction. It [is] the duty of the men present to help in both directions.”

Following Mayer’s comments, MGM producer Harry Rapf moved that a committee composed of one man from each studio be appointed. Each studio selected a representative, resulting in a studio subcommittee: Irving Thalberg (MGM), Harry Cohen (Columbia), Henry Henigson (Universal), Joseph Schenck (20th Century), Jack Warner (Warner Bros.), Emanuel Cohen (Paramount), Sol Wurtzel (Fox) and Pandro Berman (RKO). The members of the new Studio Committee publicly pledged to support the fact-finding work for one year. Thalberg committed MGM to $3,500. Emanuel Cohen committed Paramount to the same amount and promised to speak to Jack Warner about a similar pledge. Universal pledged $2,500, and Berman promised that RKO would contribute $1,500, pointing out that RKO had only eight Jewish executives. The smaller studios Fox, 20th Century and United Artists each pledged $1,500. Phil Goldstone and David Selznick were asked to raise $2,500 each from agents and independent producers. In less than an hour, Lewis had secured $22,000 in pledges. The studio committee itself met monthly to review the content of any production that might exacerbate the rising tide of anti-Jewish sentiment in the United States.

The threat of Nazism catalyzed the wealthiest Jews of Los Angeles to political action. Beginning in March 1934 and continuing through the end of World War II, the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee convened every Friday to hear reports from informants on escalating Nazi activity in the city and to deliberate on their response.

It took Lewis six long months to secure the funding. In doing so, he bridged a social chasm between the city’s Jewish community and an unlikely political partner, the city’s veterans, and transformed those former soldiers into “Hollywood’s spies.”

Excerpt adapted from Hollywood Spies: The Undercover Surveillance of Nazis in Los Angeles by Laura B. Rosenzweig (published September 2017), with permission from New York University Press. 2017 by New York University.

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This Undercover Spy Operation Helped Foil a Nazi Plot in 1930s LA – L.A. Weekly

Tzedakah: Valuing Human Dignity as Envisioned in the Torah – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on August 16, 2017

By Rabbi Howard Alpert

Parshat Reeh

For many Jews, tzedakah is the quintessential Jewish act.

Whether it is accomplished by simply putting a coin in a pushke (a charity box) or holding a door for someone who cannot open it for herself, or with a complex social project intended to improve the lives of a whole community, an act of tzedakah is seen as bringing the values of Judaism to fruition.

How is that so? Why does this one concept represent the breadth of Jewish teaching in the minds of so many Jews (and non-Jews), even to the point of being considered more an expression of Jewishness than is faith in God? Further, given its central place as an expression of Judaism, what are its goals and requirements?

Midrashic tradition traces the centrality of tzedakah to the example set by our biblical forebears as demonstrated in the tent of Abraham and Sarah, who were renowned for their kindness and hospitality.

Moses gives voice to this concept in this weeks parsha.

His farewell speech to the children of Israel before their entrance into the land of Israel recognizes the importance of tzedakah to the covenantal relationship upon which their success in the land would depend and teaches: If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and provide him that which is sufficient for all he is lacking.

The rabbis of the Talmud considered what Moses might have intended when teaching that one must provide him that which is sufficient for all he is lacking.

In Tractate Ketuboth we learn the rabbis taught: That which is sufficient You are commanded to provide a pauper with his basic needs but you are not commanded to make him wealthy. for all he is lacking even if he is lacking a horse to ride upon and a servant to run before him, you must provide these for him. It is said that Hillel the Elder regularly took a horse and a servant for a pauper who was of aristocratic parentage. Once, when he could not find a servant available to run before the pauper, Hillel himself ran before him for three millin (a distance of about two miles).

Later, Sages explain that the rabbis of the Talmud understood that the lacking to which Moses referred is emotional and psychological, not material. A persons sense of personal dignity is tied up with his material and physical well-being.

To assure a successful society in the promised land, Moses obligated us to provide for our fellows basic needs like shelter, food and clothing in a way that allows them their dignity and sense of self. In the example referred to in the Talmud, an individual raised with a standard of living that came to define his sense of self is to be provided with that same standard through acts of tzedakah.

Maimonides, the 13th-century philosopher and scholar, relied on the teachings of these sages to clarify the concept of tzedakah even further. He taught that material support provided in a manner that shames or embarrasses the recipient is not tzedakah. One who gives Tzedakah rudely loses all merit even if one gave one-thousand gold pieces.

Furthermore, when interacting with individuals in need of an act of tzedakah, one must consider and account for their special needs and sensibilities: It is forbidden to pressure a pauper or to raise ones voice at him because his heart will break.

As understood by Maimonides and by the rabbis of the Talmud, our parsha teaches us to recognize the loss of dignity and sense of self that accompanies material depravation and other physical losses and commands us to act and to restore that is lacking.

The Jewish society envisioned by the Torah is a society where all its inhabitants are allowed lives of dignity and value and in which each member cares for the dignity of all others.

Rabbi Howard Alpert works with Israel Elwyn, an organization that provides programs promoting dignity, independence and quality of life for more than 4,000 Israelis with disabilities. He is co-president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, which is proud to provide the Torah commentary for the Jewish Exponent.

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Tzedakah: Valuing Human Dignity as Envisioned in the Torah – Jewish Exponent

Jane Shapiro ’76 Brings New Perspectives to Jewish Education – Princeton Alumni Weekly

Posted By on August 16, 2017

Jane Shapiro 76, co-founder of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning in Chicago, says her views on Jewish education for adults are a bit radical. I actually think this isnt Jewish education anymore, she says, describing the avant-garde teaching that happens at Orot. Its a gateway experience for people whove been on the outside of things who want to come in.

Orot offers multidisciplinary classes, workshops, and retreats throughout the Chicago area that use yoga, meditation, creative writing, music, visual arts, and social activism combined with Jewish texts and teachings to deepen adults spirituality and understanding of their faith. They also sponsor mindfulness retreats and workshops on various topics, such as cooking and achieving balance in the lead up to the high holidays in the fall. Online learners can also access teachings via audio recordings and a weekly blog (click here for a recent teaching written by Shapiro).

The innovative approach recently helped Shapiro earn the prestigious Covenant Award for 2017 (shes one of three recipients). The award honors those who have made an impact on Jewish life through innovative educational practices and models, according to the Covenant Foundation website. Each recipient receives a prize of $36,000 and an additional $5,000 for her home institution in Shapiros case, for Orot.

Orot, which is the plural form of light in Hebrew, was the brainchild of another Princetonian, Rebecca Minkus-Lieberman 97. Shapiro had known Minkus-Lieberman since she was a teen and wrote a recommendation letter for her when she applied to Princeton. The two reconnected years later when Shapiro recruited Minkus-Lieberman to teach at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School of the Hebrew University in Northbrook, Ill., where Shapiro was an administrator at the time.

Shapiro recalls that her younger colleague approached her and three local rabbis about the kind of innovation in Jewish education happening on the east and west coasts, in the hopes of bringing this kind of creativity to the Chicago area. What she said struck a chord, and in 2014, Minkus-Lieberman and Shapiro founded Orot together with Rabbis Sam Feinsmith, Jordan Bendat-Appell, and Josh Feigelson.

We wanted to create a place where people could express whats important to them and also have the perspective of how Jewish tradition could support their own growth, Shapiro explains. Its not telling people what you should be doing or thinking. Its really asking how [studying Judaism] can be helpful to you.

Shapiro says her experiences at Princeton, where she studied Near Eastern studies and religion, were critical in shaping her educational and professional path. Shapiro went on to study ancient Jewish history at Columbia University and completed a doctorate in Jewish education in 2016 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Shapiros Princeton thesis adviser in Near Eastern studies, Mark Cohen, introduced her to the world of classical Hebrew poetry and the history of Jewish prayer, while historian Theodore Rabb instilled the value of teaching in a multi-disciplinary way. And Shaprio gained an appreciation of the Talmud from the late Dr. Rudolf Mach, at the time the University librarys curator of Near Eastern manuscripts. He loved the Talmud, she recalls, but he was not Jewish and said some eye-opening things to me that showed me Jewish texts were of interest to the world and not just a small group of people.

It is that realization that helped drive Shaprio to do the work that recently earned her the Covenant award. While Shapiro is honored by the recognition, she also hopes that the light it shines on Orots mission will serve a higher purpose.

I really believe in the need for building the compassionate side of our brain that happens through mindfulness and other spiritual practices. I would be thrilled to have people think about what we do and how it could be applied in a broader way, she says.

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Jane Shapiro ’76 Brings New Perspectives to Jewish Education – Princeton Alumni Weekly

DOJ secures guilty plea in attempted hate crime attack on Florida synagogue – CNN International

Posted By on August 16, 2017

The timing of Justice Department’s announcement of James Gonzalo Medina’s guilty plea struck a chord during a week plagued by the aftermath of deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

The FBI launched an investigation into Medina in 2016 after authorities learned he had expressed anti-Semitic views with associates and discussed plans to attack the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in southern Florida, according to court filings.

Authorities say Medina scoped out the synagogue for potential vulnerabilities, told a confidential source that a Jewish holiday would be a “good day” to carry out the bomb attack, and then later procured what he believed to be an explosive device from an undercover agent.

“When asked whether he knew that if the attack succeeded, that people may have died, (Medina) responded, ‘whatever happens,'” prosecutors said in the complaint.

“Acts of bigotry and hatred are evil and have no place in our society,” Sessions said in a statement Wednesday announcing the guilty plea in Medina’s case. “One of the top priorities of this Department of Justice is reducing violent crime, and you can be sure that this includes hate crime. We will not tolerate this repugnant lawlessness, and we will be vigilant in prosecuting hate crime offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”

While Sessions’ critics point to his previous opposition to the federal Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a senator, he has vowed as attorney general to prosecute bias-motivated crime with vigor.

The department has secured at least 15 indictments in federal hate crime cases since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Federal prosecutors also charged at least one Israeli-American suspect in April for his alleged involvement in a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, and Sessions said that the Justice Department’s “investigation into these acts as possible hate crimes continues.”

“No person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, or how they worship,” Sessions said at a hate crimes summit hosted by DOJ in June. “Hate crimes are not only violent attacks on our fellow citizens; they are an attack on our country’s most fundamental principles. We have a duty to make sure that all Americans can live their lives without fear.”

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DOJ secures guilty plea in attempted hate crime attack on Florida synagogue – CNN International

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