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Amit Rahav, Michael Aloni and Lior Ashkenazi star in Holocaust series on Disney+ – Jewish News

Posted By on July 19, 2024

One person surviving the Holocaust is remarkable. But that seven members of a single family could overcome deportation, labour camps, treacherous escapes and countless life-threatening situations is nothing short of a miracle.

As author Georgia Hunter dug deeper into her family history over the course of a decade, she discovered that not only had her Polish-born grandfather, Addy Kurc, survived but so too had his four siblings and their parents. Now their story, which features in her bestselling book, We Were The Lucky Ones, has been adapted into a TV miniseries currently streaming on Disney+.

A glittering cast brings the Kurc family to life and includes The Kissing Booths Joey King as audacious daughter Halina, who joins the resistance; Hunters actor Logan Lerman as musically gifted son Addy; veteran Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi as family patriarch Sol and Shtisels Michael Aloni as son-in-law Selim. Joining them is Amit Rahav as Jacob, the second-youngest son and a talented photographer, who finds himself separated from his childhood sweetheart Bella (played by British actress Eva Feiler) as conditions in the ghetto worsen.

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For Amit, best known to audiences as Yanky Shapiro in the Netflix mega-hit Unorthodox, there has been an added poignancy to stepping into the world of 1930s Poland, because he too is the descendant of a Holocaust survivor. My grandmother is just the most amazing woman, and she remembers everything, smiles Amit from his home in Los Angeles, having recently moved there from his native Tel Aviv. The 28-year-old actor reveals that his Polish-born grandmother, Beate, was just a toddler when she was forced into hiding during the Second World War.

Amit Rahav as Jacob Kurc with Eva Feiler as his wife Bella

She was put on to a cart and hidden in a Christian familys home. She was aged three when she was sent to different towns to hide, without her own family, without her parents. There are so many unbelievable stories I heard from her growing up. The fact that the series is based on Georgia Hunters real family history makes me feel deeply connected to the role.

Just like the Kurc family, Beates story had a fortuitous ending both her parents survived the war and were reunited with their daughter. Once they secured permits for Israel, the family emigrated and began a new life. For my grandma, having three children and eight grandchildren has been her biggest achievement, her biggest triumph.

Amit says that he had visited several Nazi death camps in Poland as a teenager in Israel, they take us from schools as a mandatory trip and that Beate had accompanied his older sister when it was her turn to go with her class. My grandma was so emotional being there with my sister. She wrote down the story of her experience and gave it to her. We have a video of my grandma just sobbing as my sister read it out aloud, he says.

Amit Rahav as Jacob Kurc with Eva Feiler as his wife Bella

Given his own personal connection to the Holocaust, there was no hesitation to take on this latest role, and neither was there for many of the rest of the cast, he reveals. Being part of the project felt like a privilege, he says earnestly. It was like it was in our DNA, this huge need to tell this story.

There were two moments on set that the cast really began to connect with the material, Amit adds. One was when fellow actor Sam Woolf, who plays Halinas love interest Adam, brought a small leaf with him that he had found during a pre-filming trip to Warsaw. Appreciating that the tree had stood there for decades, including during the events of the Second World War, Amit says the cast all touched the leaf and felt this link between the past and present. The second moment was when Hunter walked on to the set and met her family. Amit recalls: It was very special to meet this woman who had spent years researching what had happened to her own family. She brought with her so many photo albums, letters, documented memories that provided us with such an abundance of material to work from. It was the greatest added value having her on set with us and acknowledging this show was only being made because of her. We just really wanted to bring her familys story to life and do it justice. She was so supportive of what we were doing.

(l-r): Jacob (Amit Rahav), Bella (Eva Feiler), Anna (Bellas sister played by Anita Adam-Gabay), Genek (Jacobs brother played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes) and Herta (Geneks wife played by Moran Rosenblatt)

Shot mostly in Bucharest, Romania, as well as in Malaga and Cadiz in Spain, the eight-episode series sees the Kurc family enduring several moments of physical and emotional strife, having become displaced and separated from one another. For 22-year-old Jacob, his fate is to endure the worsening conditions of the Warsaw ghetto. He is forced to change and mature in ways that he never imagined he would have to go through, explains Amit. As the show goes on, he grows to become the man he never knew he could be.

While set in a very different place and time, Amit acknowledges that his character Yanky in the critically-acclaimed series Unorthodox undergoes a similar transformation after seeing his wife Esther (played by Shira Haas) question her place in the Hasidic world.

I feel so lucky to have been a part of that series, recalls Amit, who had to steep himself in Hasidic culture, learn Yiddish and wear payot for the role. I felt it was such a beautiful story and yet so far away from my own experience. In the end I learned so much through this project.

He adds: We thought it would just go out in Israel and Germany and never expected it to become so massively successful. I was so proud of our work on this story of a woman who takes control over her own life in the most difficult circumstances, after the most difficult upbringing. That was such an empowering message to any individual.

Speaking of which, Amit says his role in We Were The Lucky Ones has had a visceral impact on his sense of Jewishness. Its really made me think about our resilience, especially now as history appears to be repeating itself, he says. I feel prouder than ever of being Jewish, even as we face rising antisemitism and so much misunderstanding.

We Were The Lucky Ones is streaming on Disney+ now

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Amit Rahav, Michael Aloni and Lior Ashkenazi star in Holocaust series on Disney+ - Jewish News

As Tensions Continue to Flare Over the War in Gaza, the Upper East Side Is Divided – Vanity Fair

Posted By on July 19, 2024

Not too long ago, a non-Jewish lifelong New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side was asked by a friend to host a screening of the documentary film Israelism. She immediately said no. It wasnt that she necessarily disagreed with the message of the filmwhich bills itself as the story of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaisms relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide over modern Jewish identity. Rather, this would-be screening host feared being socially exiled by many of her Jewish friends and possible career consequences. I want to be brave, she told me. Im disappointed in myself.

As the summer season kicked into gear and much of the Upper East Side migrated to Long Islands East End, no one wanted to get canceled. Not right when guest lists are drawn up for some of the most exclusive parties in the Hamptons, often held at the sprawling estates of some of the wealthiest people (including some of the wealthiest Jewish people) on the planet.

In the wake of October 7, much of Manhattans moneyed Jewish elite has doubled down on what is considered acceptable behavior and speech related to Jews, antisemitism, Israel, and the war in Gaza. There is enormous pressure not to step out of line for reasons that are historically understandable but less defensible considering the right-wing takeover of Israel and the questionable motives of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue the war in order to avoid possible jail time. (Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.)

As the war stretches on, with the international community calling for a ceasefire and protests having roiled campuses across the country, this set has become an island upon an island. Numerous outspoken voices, along with some quieter ones from the hushed corners of Sant Ambroeus (the one on Madison Avenue), are leveling accusations of antisemitism, liberally using the bad Jew trope for those who arent in lockstep with what they believe it means to be pro-Israel.

To address the elephant in the room. It is almost impossible to talk about wealthy, powerful Jews without conjuring abhorrent tropes and stereotypes that will lead people to accuse you (me) of being antisemitic. But just like many non-Jewish cultures in America, there is an elite segment, and that is who I am examining. This is a third rail issue, but it should not force everyone into silence, particularly when the stakes are so high.

Before we go much further: Im part of this world, one where people pay $43,000 a year for nursery school. Im also a Jew who attended 12 years of Jewish day school, spent seven seasons at Jewish summer camp, and attended an Orthodox synagogue. I lived in Israel for three months after high school, part of the time on a kibbutz. I can, on a good day, speak, read, and write in Hebrew. I can say October 7 was horrific; I can also say the bloodshed and starvation since then has also been horrific.

In April, at a rally for the hostages at Dag Hammarskjld Plaza near the United Nations, Congressman Jerry Nadler, the current longest-serving Jewish member of the House of Representatives, was booed after calling for lifesaving humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people while also acknowledging heinous crimes committed by Hamas. Park Avenue plastic surgeon and Upper East Side resident Ira Savetsky heckled him, saying, How does it feel not to be welcome among the Jewish people? Nadler responded, I think I am welcome, to which Savetsky rebutted, Theyre pissed at you. (Savetsky presumably included.)

Recently Savetskys wife, Lizzy, a fashion influencer, commented on the Gaza Health Ministrys death toll data in an Instagram story, telling more than 350,000 followers that Israel has killed 14,000 Hamas operatives, you get 7,200 Palestinian civilian deaths. That would be a pretty good ratio as far as wars are concerned.

Reached for comment, Ira pointed to what he called widespread dissatisfaction with Nadler among various constituents and accused the congressman of continuing to prioritize seeking approval from the most extreme members of his party. Lizzy also sent a detailed response, declaring that she along with every Jew I know, want peace.

Go to any cocktail party on the Upper East Side and there is no open and honest conversation about what is happening in Gaza, says Amanda Uhry, CEO and founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors.

It is quite shocking that media and others would blindly accept numbers and information that originate from a known terrorist entity. My video made the point that even with the numbers theyve provided, which have been reduced by the Gaza Health Ministry, she wrote, adding links from the AP and Newsweek that she said supported her comments, it is still the lowest known ratio of combatants to civilians in modern ground warfare. (Some academics question how various sources define combatant, with some data including all men ages 18 to 59.)

Theres a phrase making its way around social medias Jewish glitterati, the types of people whose names adorn wings of museums: A keffiyeh on an American college campus is just a hipster swastika. Another one circulating in this crowd is the tagline of the Instagram account @letourpeoplegonow: No ceasefire. No compromise. Let our people go. (Some Jews of this ilk, Ive been told, view a ceasefire as a capitulation to Hamas that will put it back in power.)

If you want to ruin a playdate among the socialites of Park Avenue, I caution you not to mention that more than 2 percent of the children in Gaza have been injured or killed.

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As Tensions Continue to Flare Over the War in Gaza, the Upper East Side Is Divided - Vanity Fair

Is There a Future for Jews in France? – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on July 19, 2024

Gerald Leval

Gerard Leval

The Jerusalem Post reported that Moshe Sebbag, the rabbi of Paris most prominent synagogue on rue de la Victoire, recently stated that it is clear today that there is no future for Jews in France. I tell everyone who is young to go to Israel or a more secure country.

Sebbags statement reminded me of a conversation I had some years ago at a dinner with friends in Paris.

I was passing through Paris on a business trip and was invited to dinner at one of the citys dozens of kosher restaurants by a non-Jewish client and his wife. I had represented the client on several transactions, both in the United States and in Africa, and we became good friends over the course of our association, regularly exchanging candid conversations about controversial subjects. My client also invited another couple to join us. That couple was Jewish, and their family had lived in France for many years.

Our conversation quickly turned to the subject of the condition of the Jewish community in France. The second couple, echoing Rabbi Sebbags recent comment, noted that they were seeking to purchase an apartment in Israel because, as the husband, a physician, put it, there is no future for us here.

I looked up with a measure of astonishment since the Jewish doctor and his wife had just lauded the quality of their life in France and their profound affection for their country. They seemed to me to be living very well in France.

But I was even more astonished by the response of our host to the doctor and his wife. Without flinching, he simply said, what do you mean you dont have a future here? He went on, none of us has a future here. Continuing, he then said at least, you have a place to which you can go; the rest of us have nowhere to go.

We Jews, so often characterized as wandering Jews because we have frequently been expelled from nations in which we settled, are sadly accustomed to feeling insecure in our lands of residence. Christians, such as my client friend, are far less used to the notion of being strangers in their own land, and it was assuredly surprising to hear my friend speak as he did.

Consequently, I asked my friend why he believed that it might be necessary for him and his family to consider leaving their native land. He supplied me with a litany of reasons, from economic stagnation to insecurity, and from rising crime to fear of Islamists seeking to impose their lifestyle on his nation.

The resounding pessimism of his words has stayed with me.

Assuredly, several years ago, antisemitism was already instilling a degree of fear in French Jews. However, it is also apparent that the growing fear in Western nations is not limited to Jews. An ever more virulent wave of intolerance and sheer self-hatred is tearing at the fabric of our civilization, both in France and elsewhere.

It has often been said that Jews are the canary in the coal mine; that we are the first to be pursued when the forces of evil are marching forward. But we are hardly the last. Those who will not defend the right of Jews to live in peace and security will soon find themselves suffering from the same lack of peace and security. History provides us with an abundance of examples, none so stark as the rise of Nazi Germany and its aftermath.

Today, it is clear that Western civilization is being challenged from multiple directions. Rising antisemitism (which has been increasing for some time now but has dramatically accelerated since Oct. 7) is but the harbinger of potentially terrible things to come.

Everyone suffused with Western values is now under siege.

The real question that must be asked, however, is whether contemplating departure, be it to Israel or elsewhere, is really the answer for the French Jewish community. Is Sebbag correct in his view that Jews should leave France? Was my client friend right as well? I hope not. I think not.

For those of us, Jewish or otherwise, who have a profound belief in the fundamental benefits of Western civilization, who believe that, despite its flaws, Western civilization the civilization that emerged from Jerusalem, Athens and Rome and spread to northern Europe and then to America has provided humankind with some of the most remarkable advantages in human history, it should be obvious that we must not and cannot abandon that civilization to those who would destroy it.

For the entire Jewish community, the state of Israel is a vital asset which must be supported, nurtured and protected in every way possible. However, since the Jewish people were commanded by our Creator to be a light unto the nations, we must also be true to our spiritual mission and remain, at least in part, scattered throughout the world. We must stand firmly with our non-Jewish fellow beings as part of the bulwark against barbarism and incivility. We must hold up the banner of morality and enlightened behavior.

Performing acts of tikkun olam of repairing the world, an obligation of every Jew means being in the world and engaging with the world even when it is difficult. If we abandon the world, especially those places where we have successfully integrated into society and made important contributions, then we are relinquishing one of our fundamental roles as Jews.

French Jews should, of course, take all reasonable measures to protect themselves, but they should not, contrary to Sebbags suggestion, all plan on leaving France. French Jews, together with their non-Jewish neighbors, should stand their ground and do their best to protect the French component of Western civilization to which Jews have contributed immeasurably.

Gerard Leval is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of a national law firm.

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Is There a Future for Jews in France? - Jewish Exponent

Adidas Accused of Embracing Jew-Hatred for Featuring Anti-Israel Model Bella Hadid in New Campaign Tied to Munich Massacre – Algemeiner

Posted By on July 19, 2024

The German sportswear company Adidas is facing backlash for choosing Bella Hadid to model its new take on sneakers used by athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where 11 Israeli participants were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

Adidas announced on Monday the release of its iconic SL 72 sneaker, first released in 1972, in five new colorways ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The campaign featured titans from the world of sport and culture, including Hadid, soccer player Jules Kound, rapper A$AP Nast, musician Melissa Bon, and model Sabrina Lan. The running sneaker was originally designed for runners in the Munich Olympics, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by the Palestinian group Black September.

Hadid has a history of criticizing Israel and accusing the Jewish state of colonization, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid over the Palestinian people. She has claimed Israel perpetrates a government system suppressing people, posted on social media about alleged Palestinian oppression under Israel, and in 2021 participated in a pro-Palestinian rally where she chanted From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free, which has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Hadid has also falsely accused Israel of being a Jewish supremacist state and claimed Jesus was Palestinian.

Adidas was founded by brothers and Nazi party members Adolf and Rudolf Dassler in Germany in 1924.

Ynet, which accused Adidas of displaying insensitivity in its collaboration with Hadid, reported that the campaign will not appear in Israel. The campaign has already been criticized by the state of Israels official account on X/Twitter and also the watchdog group

The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) demanded that Adidas apologize and drop Hadid from the campaign, calling her inclusion an affront to the memory of the Israelis murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games.

For Adidas to choose Hadid, someone who is constantly baiting Jews and attacking the Jewish State, is bad enough, but to have her launch a shoe commemorating an Olympics when so much Jewish blood was shed is just sick, CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa said in a statement. We call on Adidas to apologize for this decision and drop Hadid immediately. Otherwise, it will be seen as a direct attack on the memory of the 11 Israelis who were murdered while merely trying to participate in the Olympic Games.

He noted that the Israeli delegation heading to Paris for this years Olympic Games has already been threatened with violence, adding, Thoughtless actions like this only embolden Israel haters and antisemites.

Social media users also attacked the German brand for hiring Hadid to be the face of a campaign tied to the deadly Munich Olympics where Israelis were murdered, describing the decision as simply unbelievable, hypocritical, and disgusting. One user on X/Twitter, wrote: Adidas just ruined their name and reputation with one disgusting decision.

Adar Rubin, from the grassroots movement #EndJewHatred, said, By partnering with Bella Hadid, a blatant Hamas defender, Adidas has officially shown that they learned nothing from the Kanye West fallout by once again embracing Jew-hatred.

Rubin was referring to the creative partnership Adidas had with West, who made a series of antisemitic comments in 2022. The brand terminated its eight-year working relationship with the rapper and withdrew his Yeezy line of products because of his remarks. Adidas later began selling its remaining Yeezy inventory and promised to donate a significant amount of proceeds to groups that combat hate speech. However, Adidas Chief Executive Bjrn Gulde seemingly defended West last year, saying the rapper didnt mean what he said and that he was not a bad person it just came across that way.

Following widespread backlash, Gulden apologized for suggesting that West, who now legally goes by the name Ye, did not mean the antisemitic comments he made.

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Adidas Accused of Embracing Jew-Hatred for Featuring Anti-Israel Model Bella Hadid in New Campaign Tied to Munich Massacre - Algemeiner

GOP group has serious concerns about Harvards Jew-hatred task force –

Posted By on July 19, 2024

(July 18, 2024 / JNS)

Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference, led 26 of their Republican colleagues in a letter sent this week to Alan Garber, interim president of Harvard University, citing the inadequacy of the Ivy League schools antisemitism task force.

Harvard has a serious problem with antisemitism on its campus, including derision and exclusion of Israeli students, discrimination and harassment of students by faculty and teaching fellows, and political litmus tests in extracurricular student life, the letter states.

Instead of offering a tangible plan to address antisemitism at Harvard, the task forces most specific and actionable recommendations are to organize public talks on respectful dialogue and religious relations, increase the availability of hot kosher meals and to circulate guidance about accommodating Jewish religious observance and a calendar of Jewish holidays, it continues.

Rather than build on these recommendations by presenting concrete plans for implementing them, the task force took six months to reinvent the wheel and offer an inferior set of recommendations, the lawmakers add. They go on to state that Harvards relationship with Birzeit University, located near Ramallah, whose student government openly supports Hamas, and names buildings after convicted terrorists, is extremely concerning.

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GOP group has serious concerns about Harvards Jew-hatred task force -

UN decries spokesman in PMs office for calling UNRWA chief a Jew-killing enabler – The Times of Israel

Posted By on July 19, 2024

UNITED NATIONS The United Nations says comments by a spokesman in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus office about the head of the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees are reprehensible and threatening.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric is responding to comments made by spokesman David Mencer who called Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency known as UNRWA, one of the bad guys, a terrorist sympathizer, a Jew-killing enabler, a liar.

Mencer issued the denunciations of Lazzarini after saying that Israeli forces have retrieved millions of documents and captured enemy material exposing the involvement of UNRWA employees in Hamas attacks on October 7 in southern Israel.

He said the documents also showed the deep and systemic infiltration by those terror organizations, Hamas, but also Palestinian Islamic Jihad into the ranks of UNRWA.

The UNs Dujarric says there have not been a million documents handed over to the secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, and a letter sent to him with about a hundred names was immediately sent to the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the watchdog known as OIOS.

Mencers inflammatory language to describe Lazzarini in an environment thats already extremely volatile is reprehensible and downright dangerous because it puts at risk senior UN officials whose only focus is on helping civilians in Gaza and to alleviate their suffering, Dujarric says.

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UN decries spokesman in PMs office for calling UNRWA chief a Jew-killing enabler - The Times of Israel

What Is the Role of American Jews After October 7? – Algemeiner

Posted By on July 19, 2024

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, is credited with composing the Serenity Prayer. This prayer encapsulates the challenge of staying grounded in reality while striving for positive change and holding onto ones principles.

How do I stay rooted in faith, hope, and love while remaining grounded in the realities and facts as they are?

How do I balance these principles in relation to the ongoing conflict between Israel, my home country, and the Palestinians? Its extremely challenging, and even more, its painful and sad.

On the one hand, my faith compels me to seek peace and understanding. I am guided by hope for a future where coexistence and mutual respect prevail, and I am driven by love for all people involved in this conflict. These values are integral to my identity and my vision for a better world.

On the other hand, I must confront the harsh realities of the conflict.

The facts on the ground are complex and painful, resembling the parallel realities in the movie The Matrix that could never meet. One perspective regards the land as a final sanctuary post-Holocaust, open to compromises, while the other perceives it as occupied by a colonial power, anticipating eventual liberation from the river to the sea.

On both sides, elements of religiosity-driven ideology are present. However, Israeli culture is driven by secular ideals about the here and now and how it can be improved, whereas Palestinian culture is largely religious, with its ideological concerns often focused on the next life.

Acknowledging these truths is crucial to any meaningful dialogue and resolution, but unfortunately, I dont see it happening in the near future. All indicators show further hardening on both sides, especially since October 7, 2023.

I recently read an editorial in a Jewish newspaper urging the Jewish American community to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. This is an extremely complex issue and arguing that we should create a Palestinian state (regardless of if there are conditions and partners for one) in the wake of October 7 could rightly be seen as a reward for Hamas terrorism. Additionally, I noted remarks from a prominent Jewish entertainment businessman during his award acceptance speech, calling for the removal of Israels prime minister.

In my opinion, this is not the appropriate time for such actions. Instead, the Jewish community should focus on demonstrating its resolve and unity in support of Israel.

Rather than offering advice or getting involved in the internal public opinion rift in Israel, which is fraught with hate, foul language, and divisive actions, we should concentrate on a singular, unified message: support for Jews and the State of Israel.

The Jewish community in the United States needs to convey one clear and unwavering sentiment. As the Israeli writer Amos Oz poignantly expressed, To be a Jew means to feel that wherever a Jew is persecuted for being a Jew that means you.

In these challenging times, our focus should be on solidarity and support, not contributing to the discord. It is crucial for us to stand together and advocate for the safety and well-being of our fellow Jews, reflecting our shared commitment to Israels security and dignity.

David is a visual artist with a background in the telecom hardware industry. His artwork and writings are self-reflections of an Israeli living in Los Angeles since 1987, through the lens of art, travel, trauma, and culture.

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What Is the Role of American Jews After October 7? - Algemeiner

Erasure of Jewish dissent is form of antisemitism (opinion) – Inside Higher Ed

Posted By on July 19, 2024

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Last month, the University of Minnesotas Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies announced the hiring of Raz Segal, a well-regarded Israeli American scholar, as its new director. But because Segal had labeled Israels actions in Gaza as genocide, the local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) spearheaded a flood of email complaints to the universitys president. The president revoked the offer. In a recent interview, Segal argued that this reversal is not only a violation of academic freedom but may also be an instance of discrimination. As he put it, I am targeted because of my identity as a Jew who refuses the narrowing down of Jewish identity to Zionism and to support of Israel, whatever it does.

Segals argument may seem odd at first given that Minnesotas president followed the wishes of a leading Jewish group. Upon reflection however, Segal alerts us to an insidious form of antisemitism whereby, at the behest of establishment Jewish actors, university leaders marginalize and sometimes sanction Jewish dissenters for being the wrong kind of Jews.

This form of antisemitism stems from the disparate treatment universities accord to mainstream Jewish actors, such as Hillel International, the JCRC and the Anti-Defamation League, and to Jewish dissenters. In response to accusations that the postOct.7 campus protests are rife with antisemitism, university leaders have regularly consulted with establishment groups, all Israel partisans, to help them determine when speakers, events, rallies or student groups, especially Students for Justice in Palestine, should be condemned or sanctioned. In stark contrast, universities have ignored the pleas of dissenting Jewish students and faculty to address their very different Jewish-informed perspectives on the protests, Israel-Palestine and the American Jewish experience.

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Furthermore, establishment Jewish actors are often the instigators of attacks. One common campaign, seen in the Segal case, is to exclude critical faculty, including Jewish faculty, from high-profile Jewish-related academic positions. Several years ago, the lead donor to the University of Washingtons Israel studies program withdrew her funding after the programs chair, Liora Halperin, refused a demand to not make statements derogatory of Israel. At Harvard University, prominent Jewish establishment voices tried to block the appointment of Derek Penslar as co-chair of the antisemitism task force, while at University of California, Irvine, Israel partisans sent mass-produced emails objecting to the hiring of two Jewish studies faculty. For each case, the objectors did not challenge the scholars academic credentials but their critical views of Israel.

Another common practice is personal attacks on dissenting Jewish faculty. At San Diego State University, I have been the leading target. My participation in a teach-in on Israel and Gaza prompted a social media campaign labeling the event a hate fest. A San Diego institute for funding visiting Israeli scholars disseminated a video in which its visiting scholar described me and a co-panelist as Jews that hate Israel and practically also hate Jews. The institute also sent an email blast last fall applauding its scholars for countering the hate and biased education being taught by too many faculty.

For dissenting students, the marginalization begins at Hillel, the center for campus Jewish life. It devotes much of its staff and activities to advocacy for Israel and prohibits hosting or partnering with groups or individuals that oppose Zionism, apply a double standard to Israel or support boycott, divestment or sanctions. Accordingly, anti-Zionists and other students troubled by Israels direction are typically unwelcome. Since Oct.7, Israel advocacy groups on campus have disparaged Jewish protesters as self-hating and tokenized Jews.

Far from being a neutral arbiter, university administrators have piled on the abuse. Some, like the University of Minnesota president, execute the demands of establishment Jewish actors. At Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego, administrators found procedural pretexts to shut down Jewish Voice for Peace chapters, while other campuses canceled screenings of Israelism, a documentary on young American Jewish dissenters.

More pervasive is the erasure of dissenting Jews. When offering support and input to the campus Jewish community, officials rarely contact dissenters. A UC San Diego JVP member informed me that UCSD never reached out to us or acknowledged our existence. They tend to just paint all Jewish people as believing the same thing. At SDSU, I am one of two remaining dissenters on its task force on antisemitism. Two other members with critical perspectives chose to resign as the task force became more belligerent following Oct.7. Alarmed by this growing intolerance, I sent multiple emails to the president and her task force representative that documented instances where other task force members maligned pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including one instance in which a fellow member suggested I and other Jewish protesters were giving legitimacy to an Islamist axis who ultimately aim at destroying all Jews everywhere. I asked for a meeting to follow up on my concerns. Notwithstanding my two decades at SDSU and having multiple scholarly publications on Israel and Zionism, including a 2023 book published with Temple University Press entitled Jewish Self-Determination Beyond Zionism, my emails went unanswered.

By pandering to influential Jewish groups and donors, university leaders are not being pro-Jewish. They are, perhaps unwittingly, flattening a dynamic and heterogeneous Jewish community into a monolithic Israel-partisan bloc and giving fuel to the antisemitic trope that all Jews stand with Israels actions. Contrary to the slanderous comments of Israel partisans, Jewish Americans who seek a just coexistence in Israel-Palestine free of Jewish supremacy and denounce Israels arguably genocidal assault on Gaza and U.S. complicity are not Hamas apologists or self-haters. Rather, we follow a venerable religious and secular Jewish tradition of standing with the oppressed and holding Jews to the highest ethical standards. Shamefully, too many administrators treat us as fringe Jews whose views do not matter.

Crucially, the selective antisemitism of university officials harms not just dissenting Jews but everyone striving for a rich university community that offers a badly needed alternative to the increasingly ugly and reflexive discourse in mainstream politics. The gravest harm is to free expression and academic freedom. Only by denying the Jewish credentials of faculty and student dissenters can administrators launder their new crackdowns as combating antisemitism. Ominously, universities are carving new procedural and substantive restrictions that will not stop at Palestine-Israel issues.

Equally at risk are the goals of inclusion and diversity. Administrators approach to the Jewish community reflects an impoverished, elitist vision of diversity, equity and inclusion in general. In catering to the elite, universities favor a form of DEI that heavily privileges the dominant actors in each community. This form of DEI neuters critical voices and sanitizes the experiences of all communities.

Only by standing up to the universities perverse good Jewversusbad Jew approach can all of us, Jewish and non-Jewish, reverse the creeping deterioration of the university and restore it as a place for vibrant discussion and debate.

Jonathan Graubart is a professor and incoming chair of political science at San Diego State University. He is the author of Jewish Self-Determination Beyond Zionism: Lessons From Hannah Arendt and Other Pariahs (Temple University Press, 2023).

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Erasure of Jewish dissent is form of antisemitism (opinion) - Inside Higher Ed

All around the shabbat table, Jews are scared – opinion – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 19, 2024

Shabbat night dinner is a magical time. Jews the world over join together with family and friends to sit around the Shabbat table, to talk, to enjoy each others company. Flickering Shabbat candles, prayers over wine, the wafting scent of challah, and a resplendent meal all serve as backdrop for informal forums on Jewish life.

If you are serious about Judaism, regardless of your level of religious observance, Shabbat dinner is important to you.

Ever since October 7, almost every Friday night, conversations between Diaspora Jews have centered on that day. On the massacre, on Hamas, on the war. And then, on the aftermath. On the plague of attacks against Jews in the United States and around the world. The focus is on the safety and the dangers of living as Jews in the Diaspora.

No serious Jew, certainly in America, is oblivious to the change wrought upon the lives of Jews in America since October 7. And just as certainly, no American Jew is without opinion on this matter.

The issues are so dominant and the conversation around the table often reaches such a high pitch that the host, sometimes even a guest, simply out of frustration and a need to calm nerves, asks for someone to share a word about the weekly Torah portion. While once the centerpiece of Friday night discussions around the Shabbat table, thoughts, discussions and debates on the weekly Torah portion have now become a tension breaker.

Inevitably, part and parcel of Friday night table talk is the genesis of Jew-hatred of circa 2024. Many reasons some rational and reasoned, others scarily irrational are given. By and large, whether as host or guest, I sit back and listen intently in the hope of gleaning insight and even anecdotes, interjecting only to lend historical perspective.

Then, almost on cue, someone around the table asserts that If only Israel had or had not done this or that (fill in the blank) we wouldnt be in this situation.

And thats when I formally enter the conversation. As politely as I can, I explain that what I have just heard from someone sitting at a Shabbat table, is the exact point of view of the Jew hater.

Jew haters blame Israel. Always. The Jew hater believes that Israel is the root cause of evil. And statements like the one just spoken are an articulation of the medieval canard of Jew-hatred. Blame the victim.

Jew-hatred has been blamed on Jews for millennia. It is wrong, I point out, to even open the door to that issue. Jews do not cause Jew-hatred! And then, I redirect the conversation toward the history of Zionism.

I truly believe that the safest place for Jews to be, even after October 7, is the Jewish State. In Israel, Jews are responsible for their own safety and security. In Israel, Jews are not dependent on others. In Israel, Jews are not afraid to be Jewish.

One of the original Zionist thinkers, Dr. Leo Pinsker saw the hatred of Jews as a sickness. The world, in his assessment, was struck by a phobia of Jews. And in the late 1800s, Pinsker, a medical doctor by profession, coined the term: Judeophobia.

According to Pinskers analysis, there was no cure for Judeophobia. The only answer was to excise the Jews from the host environment of Jew haters. The only answer was to create a Jewish state.

Several years later, Theodor Herzl came to a similar conclusion regarding the problem of antisemitism.

All original Zionist philosophers observed that the main problem of Jews living in the Diaspora was antisemitism. And all concluded that the solution to that problem was to leave the Diaspora and create a Jewish home.

Plus a a change: Over the past weeks, more and more people have confided to me that they are planning on buying property in Israel. They are not moving yet just buying. When they next visit, they want to stay in their own home and come more and more often until it really feels like home.

Wanting to feel at home, in Israel, in their own home having a safe haven was exactly the objective of the original Zionist thinkers.

Others have told me that their parents always had an escape bag packed with essentials. It was their just-in-case bag. Just in case they needed to run, once again, as they had in Europe. But this time, they would be prepared.

Those Shabbat table conversations have confirmed that Jews in the United States are afraid. Not fearful for themselves, fearful for their children and grandchildren. They fear for the next generation. And they have packed their own just-in-case bags.

The writer is a columnist and a social and political commentator. Watch his new "TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS." Read his latest book, Thugs. He maintains The Micah Report.

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All around the shabbat table, Jews are scared - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

On the Idea of a Jewish Golden Age – The Times of Israel

Posted By on July 19, 2024

In the wake of the October 7th massacre and subsequent outbreak of anti-Zionist, anti-Israel sentiment throughout the US, there has been much talk about the end of the Jewish American Golden Age. This Golden Age, the thinking goes, lasted approximately from the end of the Second World War until October 7, 2023. It was during this period that American Jews prospered first and foremost as Americans, which is to say, ones Jewishness did not mark ones American fate. If you were a Jew born in America, you were free to be openly Jewish, or not; you were free to marry a Jew, or not; you were free to become anything you wantedexcept, perhaps, president of the United States. Above all, if you were an American Jew during this so-called golden eighty-year window, you were exempt from religious and ethnic persecution. This period, the pundits now suggest, is over. For American Jews, the age of golden has ended.

This theory sounds plausible. The only problem with it is that its wrongits based on a too-meager understanding of Jewish history, and, not incoincidentally, is predicated on an anemic understanding of what it means to be Jewish, not just today, but for all time.

Jewish history has not always coincided so neatly with secular history, as it now seems to be. For well over a thousand years, what we think of as secular history could also accurately be described as Greek history. Think Herodotus: history as a seemingly unending list of battles, dates, victors and their spoils. Jews were never particularly interested in producing or seeing themselves in this kind of historical framework. Instead, the Jewish people had their own tradition in which they recorded and observed themselves through time, represented in large part by the Mishnaic, Talmudic and post-Talmudic rabbinic discourses. It should come as no surprise then that when Jews began to acquire what we might think of as historical consciousness and began to read and write historynot only by and for themselves, but within the greater world-historical discoursethis happened to coincide with the spread of exilic and diasporic Jewry, and the various assimilations that accompanied it.

One such Jewry demands our attention: Medieval Islam. For a span of nearly eight hundred years, Jews lived under Islamic rule in what is broadly known as Al-Andalus, or the Iberian Peninsula. Culturally speaking, this was a magnificently fertile period, producing philosophical, theological and scientific advances in nearly every aspect of life. Today, many historians, including Jewish historians, consider that periodcan you guess? The Jewish Golden Age. Why? Because the Jews of that period produced what we still think of as the greatest works of Jewish Law and philosophy ever written. Im thinking, as a prime example, of Moses Maimonides and his Code of Laws and Guide for the Perplexed. If the Jews of that period, we think, were capable of such extraordinary accomplishment, how bad could it have been? Well that depends on what you think of dhimmi statusliving as a perpetual second-class citizen under Islamic rulers who forced their Jewish subjects to pay protection once a year as a kind of life tax.

Im sorry but theres nothing golden about that age. We can love Maimonides and be eternally grateful for his contributions and still recognize that the time and place in which he lived was anything but golden. He certainly didnt think of it that way.

My point is not that the past eighty years of American Jewish life was not so great. My point is that thinking about Jewish existence in terms of Golden Ages and non-Golden Ages misses the point of what it means to be a Jew in the world entirely. And no, I dont have a simple answer for what it means to be Jewish. Its up to each of us, in each generation, to figure that out for ourselves. But if we look back on those prosperous, supposedly harassment-free decades of American Jewish life from 1944 through 2023, its not the abundance of wealth and freedom itself that we should think of as golden, its the opportunity that abundance afforded us to fulfill our as-yet unfulfilled obligation as the Jewish people. Weve forgotten that piece. And thats on us.

Shawn Aron Weiss is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles as well as a Fellow with the Sinai Temple Israel Center Fellowship. His essay "Philo and Rav Kook: On the Harmony of Creation and the Creation of Harmony" is forthcoming at Masorti. He and his wife, and their twin girls, live in Southern California.

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On the Idea of a Jewish Golden Age - The Times of Israel

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