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Catholic League (U.S.) – Wikipedia

Posted By on April 15, 2018

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

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The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, often shortened to the Catholic League, is an American Catholic anti-defamation and civil rights organization. The Catholic League states that it "defends the right of Catholics lay and clergy alike to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination."[3] The Catholic League states that it is "motivated by the letter and the spirit of the First safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened."[3] According to the Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics, the League "is regarded by many as the preeminent organization representing the views of American lay Catholics."[4]

Founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum, the Catholic League was formed to counter discrimination against Catholics in the U.S. government and in popular culture. The low-profile group initiated public education campaigns and some lawsuits. In 1993 the group became much more aggressive with a new president, former sociology professor Bill Donohue, who also increased its size to become the largest Catholic advocacy organization in America.[4] The Catholic League is known for press releases about what it views as anti-Catholic and anti-Christian themes in mass media.

The Catholic League has taken a stand against anything they perceive as anti-Catholic, including the entertainment industry, certain art exhibits, school programs for sex education, government-funded contraception and abortion, media bias, restrictions against pro-life activism, and restrictions on religious schools.[5] It publishes a journal, Catalyst, and operates a website.

The League under Donohue's leadership is criticized for its conservatism and for its combative responses to high-profile media stories.[4][6] Besides education campaigns, the group issues condemnations, initiates boycotts and protests, defends priests against accusations of child sexual abuse, fights proposed legislation and threatens legal action against what it sees as bigotry against Catholics, irreverence against religious figures, and attacks on Catholic dogma.[4][7] However, the Catholic League stresses that "it does not speak authoritatively for the Church as a whole."[4]

The League was founded in Milwaukee in 1973 by Virgil C. Blum S.J.[3][8] Blum served as president of the Catholic League until 1989.

Since 1993, the League has been led by its Board of Directors president, Bill Donohue, who works with a small number of organizational staffers including Kiera McCaffrey, the League's director of communications, who has also made media appearances for the group.[9] In a 1999 New York Times article, a reporter said Donohue is pragmatic in regards to religion, "media savvy" and "steers clear of divisive debates on theological doctrines and secular politics".[1] The article said Donohue "fans simmering anger with inflammatory news releases, a Web site and newsletter"[1] with "scathing attacks on the blasphemous and the irreverent".[1] In a 2007 interview, Salon Life staff writer Rebecca Traister discussed Donohue with Frances Kissling, former head of the organization Catholics for Choice, which opposes Catholic teaching on abortion, who characterized Donohue as "abusive", and stated she avoided doing media interviews with him for this reason.[10]

The League is organized under a Board of Directors chaired by Philip K. Eichner, a Marianist priest and educator in Long Island, New York. The League also has Board of Advisors, consisting of prominent lay Catholics like Brent Bozell, Linda Chavez, Mary Ann Glendon, Alan Keyes, Tom Monaghan, Michael Novak and George Weigel.[3] The League issues a journal, Catalyst, as well as reports, such as Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, books, brochures and an annual Report on Anti-Catholicism.

The League is not part of the Archdiocese of New York, though it does rent an office on the same floor as the headquarters of the Archdiocese.[1] According to a New York Times interviewer, the organization "maintains close ties to the [archdiocesan] leadership. Several bishops make personal donations. Cardinal O'Connor spoke at the group's 25th anniversary reception in 1998 and vacated part of his suite for its expanding operations, said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York."[1] The League includes on its website endorsements from such prominent clerics as Cardinal Edward Egan (former Archbishop of New York), Cardinal Roger Mahony (former Archbishop of Los Angeles), Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, as well as Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., all of whom have endorsed the League's activities and exhorted Catholics to become members.[3]

The New York Times reported that the group had 11,000 total members when Donohue took over the Catholic League in 1993. This grew to 233,333 paying members in 1999, a figure which the League allegedly multiplies by 1.5 to account for non-paying members in the households of paying members, resulting in a League estimate of 350,000 members.[1] This 1999 estimate is the last statement about overall membership numbers that the League has made. The League's 2003 statement about membership claimed 15,000 members in Nassau and Suffolk counties of New York alone.[11] Annual donations entitle members to home delivery of the print version of Catalyst, the group's monthly journal, which is also available for free on the Catholic League's website.

The Catholic League claims political neutrality, which is mostly required of non-profits. The website states, "The League wishes to be neither left nor right, liberal or conservative, revolutionary or reactionary."[3] Although often characterized as conservative[12][13][14][15] the League has at times been at odds with conservative figures and organizations. For example, they criticized the anti-illegal immigration group, the Minutemen, for opposing a San Diego priest's facilitation of employment for Latino immigrants and for condemning the Church as a whole in public statements about the matter.[16] The Catholic League also condemned pastor and televangelist John Hagee for what they called "anti-Catholic hate speech" and called upon John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign to renounce this alleged bigotry.[17]

Christian Leftist John Swomley criticized the Catholic League as the "most dangerous of the far-right organizations."[4] Donohue has been called "right-wing"[18] and "a conservative reactionary who wants to undo the work of Vatican II and suppress varying opinions within the Church."[19]

In 1996, Donohue took issue with Joan Osborne over her song "One of Us", which explores the question of what it would be like if God were a human being.[20] Donohue questioned the point of the song and brought up her activism calling for support of Rock for Choice and other pro-choice groups stating, "It is no wonder that Joan Osborne instructs her fans to donate their time and money to Planned Parenthood. It is of a piece with her politics and her prejudices. Her songs and videos offer a curious mix of both, the effect of which is to dance awfully close to the line of Catholic baiting."[21] Religious educator Paul Moses stated that Donohue's was a "tortured reading" and he saw Osborne as having "the Catholic imagination" with the song "awakening...spiritual hunger".[22] Osborne said, in a letter to fans, that "the church's attitudes toward women and gays make the pope look far more ridiculous than any pop song could" and that she did not write the song, which "speaks of the pope only with respect."[22] Donohue also admitted that he was treating the issue in a "kind of a prophylactic approach" because "cultures are changed as a result of patterns."[22]

In 1997, Donohue declared the ABC show Nothing Sacred as deeply offensive to Catholicism, although not anti-Catholic in the traditional sense.[23][24] Calling for a boycott, he stated that the show portrayed Catholics with a traditional view as cold or cruel while glorifying more the maverick, irreverent voices in the community. However, the show was defended by some Catholics and had been written with the consultation of Jesuits, from which it later won the Humanitas Prize. Many Catholics agreed with him that the show was hostile to the beliefs and values of the Catholic Church, and ABC canceled Nothing Sacred after less than a season, reportedly for poor ratings. Observers think Donohue may have played a significant role in the show's rapid demise as advertisers often become leery of shows deemed "controversial".[25][26] With regard to the controversy, Henry Herx, director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Film and Broadcast (successor to the National Legion of Decency) emphasized that the Catholic League is not an official agency of the church.[27]

The year 1999 saw the release of Kevin Smith's controversial film Dogma. Despite the fact that Smith is a practicing Catholic, as Kevin Smith confirmed in an interview on the film's DVD, several religious groups, especially the Catholic League, said the film was anti-Catholic and blasphemous, and organized protests, including one that took place at the November 12 premiere of the film at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Smith noted that several of the protests occurred before the film was even finished, suggesting that the protests were more about media attention for the groups than for whatever was controversial about the film.[28] The Catholic League's main complaints were that the film's main character is supposedly a descendant of Mary, who happens to work in an abortion clinic, which were seen as ironic conventions for a Catholic.[citation needed] The film's distributor, Miramax, removed its name from the production, and hired attorney Dan Petrocelli to defend it publicly. Petrocelli accused Donohue of trying to stir a violent reaction to the film.

According to Smith, "[Donohue] actually invited me out to have a beer after making my life hell for six months."[29]

Donohue is a staunch defender of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. On the December 8, 2004 broadcast of Scarborough Country, he stated:

Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the Messiah.[30]

After U.S. President George W. Bush used the term "Holidays" instead of "Christmas" on the White House 2005 Christmas cards, Donohue stated "The Bush administration has suffered a loss of will andthey have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture."[31]

"I was scheduled to be on with Mike Savage the day he savaged the Catholic Church and made bigoted comments about Latinos", Donohue said.

"But in the pre-interview which occurred just a half hour before Savage went ballistic I let a producer know that I did not share the host's position; after he checked with Savage, I was told they would not have me on the show. That was fine, but what is not fine is Savage's diatribe about the 'greedy pigs' in the Catholic Church and how 'the institution is rotten from the top to the bottom.' He owes all Catholics an apology."[32]

Donohue demanded that former Sen. John Edwards fire two presidential campaign staffers in February 2007, charging that they were "anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash-talking bigots." He cited a blog written by Amanda Marcotte regarding the Church's opposition to birth control, saying it forces women "to bear more tithing Catholics". He also cited another posting called "Pope and Fascists". Donohue also objected to one of the staffers describing President Bush's "wingnut Christofacist base".

Donohue called the statements "incendiary" and "inflammatory", saying, "It's scurrilous and has no place being part of someone's resume who's going to work for a potential presidential contender." On February 8, John Edwards addressed the writings of the staffers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, saying 'that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor or anything else.'[citation needed] Donohue insisted that Edwards fire the pair immediately.

After the complaints, Marcotte wrote, "The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal where God is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels." After Marcotte parted with the campaign, Donohue stated, "It is not enough that one foul-mouthed anti-Christian bigot, Amanda Marcotte, has quit. Melissa McEwan must go as well. Either Edwards shows her the door or she bolts on her own. There is no third choicethe Catholic League will see to it that this issue won't go away." He continued, "The Edwards campaign is in total disarray and the meltdown will continue unless McEwan is removed from his staff. The fact that Marcotte had to quit suggests that Edwards doesn't have the guts to do what is morally right." McEwan resigned on February 13, 2007,[33] citing the hostility of the Catholic League and emails threatening rape and murder.[34]

On September 8, 2007, Kathy Griffin won her first Emmy for season two of reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Griffin stirred up controversy with her acceptance speech, saying that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. He didn't help me a bit." She went on to hold up her Emmy and say, "Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now!"[35]

Her remarks were quickly condemned by Donohue, who urged the TV academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment."[36] After the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences decided to censor Griffin's remark, Donohue said, "The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences reacted responsibly to our criticism of Kathy Griffin's verbal assault on 85 percent of the U.S. population. The ball is now in Griffin's court. The self-described 'complete militant atheist' needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life."[37]

In a statement issued by her publicist, Griffin responded to the denouncement by the Catholic League with a question: "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?"[38]

As part of a two-month protest campaign, Donohue called for a boycott of the film The Golden Compass, believing that while the religious elements of the film would be "watered down" from the source novels, the film would still encourage children to read the series, which Donohue says "denigrates Christianity" and promotes "atheism for kids",[39] citing author Philip Pullman as saying that he is "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief."[40] Donohue hopes that "the film [will fail] to meet box office expectations and that [Pullman's] books attract few buyers."[41] The call for a boycott resulted in action by some Catholic groups in the US and Canada, and a Catholic school board in Ontario has ordered the source novel removed from its library shelves. Pullman has since said that the books do not have a religious agenda, saying of Donohue's call for a boycott, "Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers? Oh, it causes me to shake my head with sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."[42] Pullman described the Catholic League as "a tiny, unrepresentative organisation," suggesting that "the only person Bill Donohue represents is himself."[43]

Other evangelical groups, such as The Christian Film and Television Commission, adopted a "wait-and-see" approach to the film before deciding upon any action,[44] as did the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.[42]

Some commentators indicated that they believed the criticism would prove ultimately impotent and that the negative publicity would prove a boon for the film's box office.[45][46]

In July 2008, a controversy arose surrounding a Communion rite altercation involving Webster Cook, a student and member of the University of Central Florida (UCF) student senate. Cook attended a Catholic Mass on campus and was given the Eucharist but walked out without consuming it. This action was allegedly related to his protest of the use of public funds for organized worship in the student union hall. According to Donohue, Cook's actions were a form of desecration of the sacrament. Cook was proposed for censure by the student senate and was criticized by local media. He also received numerous death threats.[47][48]

On Pharyngula, biologist and University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) professor PZ Myers publicly expressed support for Cook as well as outrage that Fox News appeared to be inciting readers to cause further problems for the student.[47][49][50] Myers invited readers to acquire some consecrated Eucharistic Hosts, which he described as "crackers", for him to treat "with profound disrespect."[51]

The Catholic League accused Myers of anti-Catholic bigotry and asked UMM and the Minnesota State Legislature to take action against Myers.[52][53] Myers then also received threats and hate mail.[54] The Catholic League also called for Cook to be expelled from the university, with Donohue describing his confiscation of the Eucharist as a hate crime as well as a form of kidnapping.[51] Donohue also accused those who supported Cook of anti-Catholic bigotry, and sent a letter to the UCF asking them to take legal action against Cook.[55] A week after the initial communion Cook apologized and returned the Host. The Catholic League, however, continued to lobby the university for his expulsion.[55]

In March 2007, a sculpture created by Italian-Canadian artist Cosimo Cavallaro was to be displayed at Manhattan's Roger Smith Hotel. The sculpture, entitled "My Sweet Lord", was of a crucified Christ, nude, in molded chocolate. Although the artist claims to be himself a practicing Catholic, Bill Donohue decried the work as "hate speech", "garbage", and "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever,"[56] describing Mr. Cavallaro as a "loser artist" and telling him in a television interview on Anderson Cooper 360, "You're lucky I'm not like the Taliban, because you would lose more than your head."

Under the leadership of Donohue, the Catholic League organized a boycott of the hotel aimed at forcing it to remove the statue. The hotel's management stating that the protests "brought to our attention the unintended reaction of you and other conscientious friends", eventually agreed to the League's calls, prompting the curator of the gallery, Matt Semler, to resign in protest.[56] Semler claimed the six-foot sculpture was the victim of "a strong-arming from people who haven't seen the show, seen what we're doing. They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions."[56]

Donohue said, in October 2009, that the Catholic Church has a "homosexual", not a "pedophilia", problem, citing the John Jay Report.[57] The Catholic League has blamed the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), for having "hired, hidden, defended, enabled, ignored and concealed the crimes of child molesters."[58] The Catholic League defended attacking SNAP on the grounds that they were "a menace to the Catholic Church."[59]

In a November 18, 2009, Politics Daily column about Smith's research, David Gibson reported that sexual identity should be "separated from the problem of sexual abuse," according to criminologist Margaret Smith. Smith said, "we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse."[60] Nevertheless, Donohue says that this is a homosexual problem in the Catholic Church and not a pedophile one.[60]

On May 20, 2009, Reuters reported the results of a nine-year investigation by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which looked into decades of endemic sexual abuse against children in Catholic-run reform schools in Ireland.[61] In reaction to this report, popularly known as the Ryan Report, Donohue issued a statement downplaying the seriousness of the cases, questioning the inclusion of voyeurism and "inappropriate sexual talk" as instances of sexual abuse along with the more serious charge of rape.[62] Donohue pointed out that rape constituted only 12% of the listed sexual abuse cases in the Ryan report, and that priests committed only 12% of the listed rapesthe other 88% were committed by lay persons and religious brothers.[62]

Since the Ryan Report was released, Donohue has been defending the Church and claiming that much of the outrage is 'moral hysteria'. While stating that he agrees that rape and physical abuse are wrong and that he would not defend those actions, he says the report has conflated these abuses with 'lesser' forms of punishment and is therefore not as serious. He also says many of the purported forms of abuse found by the commission were present and acceptable in the time period.[63]

The Irish politician and child rape victim Colm O'Gorman was highly critical of such statements made by Donohue on the Irish radio show The Last Word.[63] O'Gorman later wrote that Donohue's analysis was shockingly "simplistic".[64]

When President Barack Obama named gay activist[65] Harry Knox to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009, Donohue termed Knox "an anti-Catholic bigot who has called the pope a liar."[65]

In November 2010, a portion of a video by the late artist David Wojnarowicz, which was included in an exhibit focused on gay-themed art, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" at the National Portrait Gallery (United States), was removed after complaints from the Catholic League.[66] Columnist Frank Rich said of the intervention and removal that the Smithsonian had been "bullied by bigots" and quoted The Los Angeles Times"s art critic, Christopher Knight, to the same effect.[67] Tracing the evolution of the issue, Rich cited a piece by Kriston Capps which in turn said "the role of Penny Starr remains hazy. [However, a]...reporter and conservative advocate, [Starr] deserves much credit for both instigating" the negative attention to the piece of art amongst a number in the show.[68]

In 1997, David Carlin of Commonweal criticized Donohue and the Catholic League for being overly sensitive in the identification of anti-Catholicism.[69] In 1999, Jesuit priest James Martin, the associate editor of the Catholic magazine America wrote "Often their criticism is right on target, but frequently they speak without seeing or experiencing what they are critiquing, and that undercuts their credibility. Unfortunately, that type of response gives people the idea that the Catholic Church is unreflective."[1]

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Catholic League (U.S.) - Wikipedia

Holocaust denial – Israel, 2018 – Israel National News

Posted By on April 13, 2018

Tonight, Wednesday, at eight o'clock, Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day events will open, and for 24 hours the Jewish people will unite with the memory of the six million, and the tragedy of the greatest massacre in history will be seen from every screen and through every radio program and in every ceremony.

During these 24 hours, candles will be lit in memory of the murdered and their stories will be read in tears throughout the country. Faded black and white photographs, and fast-paced videos will show us evil in all its ugliness and cruelty. We will see the torture, the humiliation, the persecutions, the fires, the murders, the mass graves, the death marches, the ghettos and the death camps. We will see and cry.

In the face of these scenes, it is fitting that all those who in the past year have made ridiculous comparisons between the fate of the Jews of Europe in the 1940s and the fate of the infiltrators from Africa, between Anne Frank and migrant workers, all those who in the name of the Holocaust dressed the government of Israel in Nazi uniform and described the struggle for migrant workers almost like that of the Warsaw Ghetto rebels, all these should take these 24 hours, and internalize what really happened there in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Sobibor. After they begin to try and understand the significance of those events, they should once again reflect on the significance of the comparisons they made over a whole year (even if, towards that purpose, they recruited Holocaust survivors to say similar things).

We will tell them simply, friends, that what you did was the simple definition of Holocaust denial. If you seek to hide migrant workers in your homes and compare your actions to those who hid Anne Frank and her family, then you either did not understand anything, or do you really think that what the Nazis proposed to the Jews was a dignified transition (with a few hundred or thousands of dollars in their pockets) to another country and not to death and destruction in crematoria and killing valleys, and those who think so are infected with Holocaust denial or lack of thought. Choose.

We want to argue about the moral character of the state, about a state of all its citizens, the plight of the Eritreans, the distress of the south Tel Avivians. No problem. Talk, argue, but leave the memory of the Holocaust outside.

Originally posted here:

Holocaust denial - Israel, 2018 - Israel National News

Confronting Holocaust Denial – The Jewish Chronicle

Posted By on April 13, 2018

There are few flat earthers these days and the majority of people no longer believe that the moon is made of green cheese. By contrast, denying the Holocaust, that is, claiming that the genocide of the Jews by Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II ever took place, seems to be flourishing.

It is an extreme example of an increasingly common phenomenon: rejecting facts when they happen to be inconvenient. At least when, in the middle ages, people thought that the sun orbited the earth, they had no proof to the contrary. Holocaust denial is a position consciously held not because there is no evidence but despite it. Like antisemitism, to which it is closely related, Holocaust denial is not based on evidence but is a position held because its adherents want it to be true. Unfortunately, it is not.

Just as antisemitism is a claim about Jews that rests ultimately on mythical thinking Jews as puppet-masters behind world events, for example so Holocaust denial rests on similar conspiracy theories that the Jews concocted the whole story to extract money from Germany and to promote Zionism, for example.

People with strongly-held antisemitic beliefs are rarely amenable to having their views changed by the presentation of evidence, and the same is true of Holocaust denial. What follows is not aimed at those who are unshakeable in their belief that the Holocaust never happened, although it would be nice to think that their minds could be changed (they probably do not read the JC, in any case). Rather, I want to show that, when people often youngsters are confused by the easily-accessible lies that proliferate on the internet, it is not hard to put them straight.

Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II were covered in camps. Everyone has heard of Auschwitz, and Holocaust denial often presents itself as the Auschwitz lie. But, according to recent research, there were thousands of camps all over Nazi Europe. By the end of 1944, there were a dozen main camps to which were attached about 1,100 sub-camps. This figure does not even include camps run by firms, by local councils and bodies other than the SS.

These did not only hold Jews: three million Soviet POWs were killed in Nazi camps, mostly by being starved to death, and tens of thousands of Gentile Poles, Soviets, Yugoslavs, French and others from across Europe were held as political prisoners in camps such as Buchenwald and Gross-Rosen. But Jews were targeted for murder, and the fact that there were Jewish survivors was only a result of the fact that the Third Reich, desperate for labour as the war turned against it, made use of Jewish camp inmates in larger numbers in autumn 1944.

At the start of the Holocaust, Jews were not killed in camps but were murdered about 1.5 million of them in pits on the edges of their villages and towns in eastern Europe. The work of Father Patrick Desbois and his Yahad-In Unum organisation in locating these gravesites is bringing ever greater certainty to where these people died.

I mention the Nazi camp system and the work of locating victims of the Einsatzgruppen to provide a sense of the continent-wide nature of the crime we now call the Holocaust. The point is simply that, from Amsterdam to Thessaloniki, from Klaipeda to Lyon, one can see basically the same thing happening. That is a lot of evidence to produce, in almost every European language. They are of course Holocaust institutions and, from a neo-Nazi perspective, invested in the very thing that is being denied, but a glance at the online photography and document collections of Yad Vashem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, or the Wiener Library in London indicates that a fabrication on this scale is simply not possible.

There is no greater proof of this abundant evidence than the International Tracing Service. Based in Bad Arolsen in northern Hesse, Germany, the ITS was created after the war by the Allies in order to trace missing people. Run by the International Committee of the Red Cross after 1955, since 2007 it has been open to researchers and the general public.

It holds over 30 million documents, spanning 26 kilometres of shelving, and is the worlds largest archive of material relating to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. There are better things to do with this material than confront Holocaust denial but, if one is not already satisfied with the abundant scholarly literature or the remaining material evidence across Europe, then there is no shortage of documentation here, far more than could have been consciously produced as a fraud.

In December 1942, for example, an SS man, Untersturmfhrer Kinna, wrote a report on the transport of 644 Poles to Auschwitz that had taken place a few days earlier. He began by noting: that only those capable of work should be delivered, so as to avoid burdening the camp as well as the transport traffic as much as possible. Then he went on, very openly:

"The simple, idiots, cripples and sick people must be removed from the camp in the shortest possible time by liquidation. This measure encounters an obstacle insofar as in contrast to the measures ordered for Jews by the RSHA, Poles have to die a natural death. The camp leadership would thus prefer to avoid an allocation of those unable to work."

His complaint was about non-Jewish Poles but he also quite casually referred to the fact that Jews were not dying a natural death. The ITS is full of such information and it is only one, albeit the largest, of many archival sources. Almost every local and national archive across Europe contains material relating to the Holocaust. Choosing to believe that this was all created by a vast conspiracy and that the Holocaust never happened is the neo-Nazi equivalent of a green cheese moon.

Dan Stone isProfessor of Modern History and Director of the Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London

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Confronting Holocaust Denial - The Jewish Chronicle

Holocaust Deniers and Public Misinformation

Posted By on April 4, 2018

Holocaust denial and minimization or distortion of the facts of the Holocaust is a form of antisemitism.

Holocaust deniers ignore the overwhelming evidence of the event and insist that the Holocaust is a myth, invented by the Allies, the Soviet communists, and the Jews for their own ends. According to the deniers' logic the Allies needed the Holocaust myth to justify their occupation of Germany in 1945 and the harsh persecution of Nazi defendants. Holocaust deniers also claim that Jews needed the Holocaust myth to extract huge payments in restitution from Germany and to justify the establishment of the State of Israel. Holocaust deniers claim that there is a vast conspiracy involving the victorious powers of World War II, Jews, and Israel to propagate the Holocaust for their own ends.

Holocaust deniers assert that if they can discredit one fact about the Holocaust, the whole history of the event can be discredited as well. They ignore the evidence of the historical event and make arguments that they say negate the reality of the Holocaust in its entirety.

Some Holocaust deniers argue that, since there is neither a single document that outlines the Holocaust nor a signed document from Hitler ordering the Holocaust, the Holocaust itself is a hoax. To make this argument, they reject all the evidence submitted at Nuremberg. They denounce as fabrications the genocidal intention of the Nazi state and the thousands of orders, memos, notes, and other records that document the process of destruction. When they cannot sustain arguments that documents are forged, they argue that the language in the documents has been deliberately misinterpreted. Furthermore, some Holocaust deniers insist that the Allies tortured the perpetrators into testifying about their role in the killing process and that the survivors who testified about Nazi crimes against Jews were all lying out of self-interest.

Some Holocaust deniers claim that those few Jews who perished died from natural causes or were legitimately executed by the Nazi state for actual criminal offenses. They assert that Jews and the Allied powers deliberately inflated the numbers of Jews killed during the war. Holocaust historians have placed the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust between 5.1 and 6 million, based on legitimate available historical sources and demographic methods. Holocaust deniers cite uncertainty about the exact number of deaths within this accepted range as proof that the whole history of the Holocaust has been fabricated and that the number of Jewish deaths during World War II has been grossly exaggerated.

Some Holocaust deniers assert that the Nazis did not use gas chambers to kill Jews. They deny the reality of the killing centers. Deniers have focused their attention on Auschwitz and believe if they could just disprove that the Nazis used gas chambers in Auschwitz to kill Jews, the whole history of the Holocaust would also be discredited.

Holocaust deniers often mimic the forms and practices of scholars in order to deceive the public about the nature of their views. They generally footnote their writings by citing the publications of other Holocaust deniers and hold pseudo-scholarly conventions.

Holocaust denial on the Internet is especially a problem because of the ease and speed with which such misinformation can be disseminated. In the United States, where the First Amendment to the Constitution ensures freedom of speech, it is not against the law to deny the Holocaust or to propagate Nazi and antisemitic hate speech. European countries such as Germany and France have criminalized denial of the Holocaust and have banned Nazi and neo-Nazi publications. The Internet is now the chief source of Holocaust denial and the chief means of recruiting for Holocaust denial organizations.

Further Reading

Evans, Richard J. Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial. New York: Basic Books, 2001.

Gottfried, Ted. Deniers of the Holocaust: Who They Are, What They Do, Why They Do It. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2001.

Lipstadt, Deborah. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Free Press, 1993.

Shermer, Michael, and Alex Grobman. Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Zimmerman, John C. Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies, and Ideologies. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000.

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Holocaust Deniers and Public Misinformation

Judaism: The Oral Law -Talmud & Mishna

Posted By on April 4, 2018

The Oral Law is a legal commentary on the Torah, explaining how its commandments are to be carried out. Common sense suggests that some sort of oral tradition was always needed to accompany the Written Law, because the Torah alone, even with its 613 commandments, is an insufficient guide to Jewish life. For example, the fourth of the Ten Commandments, ordains, "Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy" (Exodus 20:8). From the Sabbath's inclusion in the Ten Commandments, it is clear that the Torah regards it as an important holiday. Yet when one looks for the specific biblical laws regulating how to observe the day, one finds only injunctions against lighting a fire, going away from one's dwelling, cutting down a tree, plowing and harvesting. Would merely refraining from these few activities fulfill the biblical command to make the Sabbath holy? Indeed, the Sabbath rituals that are most commonly associated with holiness-lighting of candles, reciting the kiddush, and the reading of the weekly Torah portion are found not in the Torah, but in the Oral Law.

Without an oral tradition, some of the Torah's laws would be incomprehensible. In the Shema's first paragraph, the Bible instructs: "And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes." "Bind them for a sign upon your hand," the last verse instructs. Bind what? The Torah doesn't say. "And they shall be for frontlets between your eyes." What are frontlets? The Hebrew word for frontlets, totafot is used three times in the Torah always in this context (Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18) and is as obscure as is the English. Only in the Oral Law do we learn that what a Jewish male should bind upon his hand and between his eyes are tefillin (phylacteries).

Finally, an Oral Law was needed to mitigate certain categorical Torah laws that would have caused grave problems if carried out literally. The Written Law, for example, demands an "eye for an eye" (Exodus 21:24). Did this imply that if one person accidentally blinded another, he should be blinded in return? That seems to be the Torah's wish. But the Oral Law explains that the verse must be understood as requiring monetary compensation: the value of an eye is what must be paid.

The Jewish community of Palestine suffered horrendous losses during the Great Revolt and the Bar-Kokhba rebellion. Well over a million Jews were killed in the two ill-fated uprisings, and the leading yeshivot, along with thousands of their rabbinical scholars and students, were devastated.

This decline in the number of knowledgeable Jews seems to have been a decisive factor in Rabbi Judah the Prince's decision around the year 200 C.E. to record in writing the Oral Law. For centuries, Judaism's leading rabbis had resisted writing down the Oral Law. Teaching the law orally, the rabbis knew, compelled students to maintain close relationships with teachers, and they considered teachers, not books, to be the best conveyors of the Jewish tradition. But with the deaths of so many teachers in the failed revolts, Rabbi Judah apparently feared that the Oral Law would be forgotten unless it were written down.

In the Mishna, the name for the sixty-three tractates in which Rabbi Judah set down the Oral Law, Jewish law is systematically codified, unlike in the Torah. For example, if a person wanted to find every law in the Torah about the Sabbath, he would have to locate scattered references in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Indeed, in order to know everything the Torah said on a given subject, one either had to read through all of it or know its contents by heart. Rabbi Judah avoided this problem by arranging the Mishna topically. All laws pertaining to the Sabbath were put into one tractate called Shabbat (Hebrew for "Sabbath"). The laws contained in Shabbat's twenty-four chapters are far more extensive than those contained in the Torah, for the Mishna summarizes the Oral Law's extensive Sabbath legislation. The tractate Shabbat is part of a larger "order" called Mo'ed (Hebrew for "holiday"), which is one of six orders that comprise the Mishna. Some of the other tractates in Mo'ed specify the Oral Laws of Passover (Pesachim); Purim (Megillah); Rosh haShana; Yom Kippur (Yoma); and Sukkot.

The first of the six orders is called Zera'im (Seeds), and deals with the agricultural rules of ancient Palestine, particularly with the details of the produce that were to be presented as offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem. The most famous tractate in Zera'im, however, Brakhot (Blessings) has little to do with agriculture. It records laws concerning different blessings and when they are to be recited.

Another order, called Nezikin (Damages), contains ten tractates summarizing Jewish civil and criminal law.

Another order, Nashim (Women), deals with issues between the sexes, including both laws of marriage, Kiddushin, and of divorce, Gittin.

A fifth order, Kodashim, outlines the laws of sacrifices and ritual slaughter. The sixth order, Taharot, contains the laws of purity and impurity.

Although parts of the Mishna read as dry legal recitations, Rabbi Judah frequently enlivened the text by presenting minority views, which it was also hoped might serve to guide scholars in later generations (Mishna Eduyot 1:6). In one famous instance, the legal code turned almost poetic, as Rabbi Judah cited the lengthy warning the rabbinic judges delivered to witnesses testifying in capital cases:

"How are witnesses inspired with awe in capital cases?" the Mishna begins. "They are brought in and admonished as follows: In case you may want to offer testimony that is only conjecture or hearsay or secondhand evidence, even from a person you consider trustworthy; or in the event you do not know that we shall test you by cross-examination and inquiry, then know that capital cases are not like monetary cases. In monetary cases, a man can make monetary restitution and be forgiven, but in capital cases both the blood of the man put to death and the blood of his [potential] descendants are on the witness's head until the end of time. For thus we find in the case of Cain, who killed his brother, that it is written: 'The bloods of your brother cry unto Me' (Genesis 4:10) that is, his blood and the blood of his potential descendants.... Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world. Furthermore, only one man, Adam, was created for the sake of peace among men, so that no one should say to his fellow, 'My father was greater than yours.... Also, man [was created singly] to show the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, for if a man strikes many coins from one mold, they all resemble one another, but the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, made each man in the image of Adam, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obligated to say, 'The world was created for my sake"' (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). (One commentary notes, "How grave the responsibility, therefore, of corrupting myself by giving false evidence, and thus bringing [upon myself the moral guilt of [murdering] a whole world.")

One of the Mishna's sixtythree tractates contains no laws at all. It is called Pirkei Avot (usually translated as Ethics of the Fathers), and it is the "Bartlett's" of the rabbis, in which their most famous sayings and proverbs are recorded.

During the centuries following Rabbi Judah's editing of the Mishna, it was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis. Eventually, some of these rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentaries on the Mishna's laws in a series of books known as the Talmud. The rabbis of Palestine edited their discussions of the Mishna about the year 400: Their work became known as the Palestinian Talmud (in Hebrew, Talmud Yerushalmi, which literally means "Jerusalem Talmud").

More than a century later, some of the leading Babylonian rabbis compiled another editing of the discussions on the Mishna. By then, these deliberations had been going on some three hundred years. The Babylon edition was far more extensive than its Palestinian counterpart, so that the Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli) became the most authoritative compilation of the Oral Law. When people speak of studying "the Talmud," they almost invariably mean the Bavli rather than the Yerushalmi.

The Talmud's discussions are recorded in a consistent format. A law from the Mishna is cited, which is followed by rabbinic deliberations on its meaning. The Mishna and the rabbinic discussions (known as the Gemara) comprise the Talmud, although in Jewish life the terms Gemara and Talmud usually are used interchangeably.

The rabbis whose views are cited in the Mishna are known as Tanna'im (Aramaic for "teachers"), while the rabbis quoted in the Gemara are known as Amora'im ("explainers" or "interpreters"). Because the Tanna'im lived earlier than the Amora'im, and thus were in closer proximity to Moses and the revelation at Sinai, their teachings are considered more authoritative than those of the Amora'im. For the same reason, Jewish tradition generally regards the teachings of the Amora'im, insofar as they are expounding the Oral Law, as more authoritative than contemporary rabbinic teachings.

In addition to extensive legal discussions (in Hebrew, halakha), the rabbis incorporated into the Talmud guidance on ethical matters, medical advice, historical information, and folklore, which together are known as aggadata.

As a rule, the Gemara's text starts with a close reading of the Mishna. For example, Mishna Bava Mezia 7:1 teaches the following: "If a man hired laborers and ordered them to work early in the morning and late at night, he cannot compel them to work early and late if it is not the custom to do so in that place." On this, the Gemara (Bava Mezia 83a) comments: "Is it not obvious [that an employer cannot demand that they change from the local custom]? The case in question is where the employer gave them a higher wage than was normal. In that case, it might be argued that he could then say to them, 'The reason I gave you a higher wage than is normal is so that you will work early in the morning and late at night.' So the law tells us that the laborers can reply: 'The reason that you gave us a higher wage than is normal is for better work [not longer hours].'"

Among religious Jews, talmudic scholars are regarded with the same awe and respect with which secular society regards Nobel laureates. Yet throughout Jewish history, study of the Mishna and Talmud was hardly restricted to an intellectual elite. An old book saved from the millions burned by the Nazis, and now housed at the YIVO library in New York, bears the stamp THE SOCIETY OF WOODCHOPPERS FOR THE STUDY OF MISHNA IN BERDITCHEV. That the men who chopped wood in Berditchev, an arduous job that required no literacy, met regularly to study Jewish law demonstrates the ongoing pervasiveness of study of the Oral Law in the Jewish community.

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Judaism: The Oral Law -Talmud & Mishna

How The Left, The Anti Defamation League and Media Used …

Posted By on March 30, 2018

Immediately after the police identified the suspect in the Florida high school massacre, as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the media began to scour social media, desperate to find any ties Cruz may have had to the Right. In the medias narrow minds, you cant be a gun ownerand not be tied to the Republican Party. The Republican Party and the NRA must be held accountable, and they must be held accountable at all costs, even at the cost of being accurate or truthful. When the media couldnt find any facts to report, they immediately began to scour social media for hints. What they got was a bunch of social media trolls who thought it would be funny to lead the mainstream media on with lies about the shooter. The mainstream media and the Anti Defamation League (who ironically, claims to defend people who are victims of discrimination, yet works overtime to demonize anyone whose views are to the right of theirs), had to settle for fake ties to the massacre suspect and white supremacist group in Tallahassee, Florida.

Unfortunately, both the media and the Anti Defamation Leagues stories quickly fell apart when they were outed for not having done their homework to properly vet the comments made on an open chat, social media platform called 4Chan.

On Thursday afternoon, the Anti-Defamation League reported that a white supremacist group claimed ties with Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to the shooting spree that killed at least 17 people, including many high-school students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

From the Anti Defamation Leagues website:

A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed tothe Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous days deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group.

UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, following news reports of the alleged association between Cruz and the Republic of Florida, a member of an alt right discussion forum wrote that all of the claims were false and were part of an elaborate attempt to troll a network news reporter and other media outlets. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the Broward County sheriff said aconnection was not confirmed at this time, but that law enforcement was still investigating.

Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, allegedly entered the school Wednesday, February 14 with an AR-15 and opened fire, killing at least 17 people and injuring 14 more. Cruz left the scene but was later captured by police and has been charged with premeditated murder.

Afterself-described ROF members claimed on the discussion forum 4chan that Cruz had also been a member, the Anti-Defamation League spoke with an ROF member who identified himself as Jordan Jereb.

Jereb, based in Tallahassee, is believed to be the leader of ROF. In 2016, he was arrested on charges of threatening a staffer in the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott because he was allegedly angry at the staffers son.

Jereb said that Cruz was associated with ROF, having been brought up by another member. Jereb also claimedthat Cruz had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.

ROF has members in north and south Florida. The alt right white supremacist group borrows paramilitary concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement (not itself a white supremacist movement). ROF describes itself as a white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics and seeks to create a white ethnostate in Florida. Most ROF members are young and the group itself is only a few years old.

Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting.

If Cruzs role is confirmed, the Parkland school shooting would be the second school shooting by a white supremacist in the past two months. In December 2017, another young white supremacist, William Atchison, engaged in a shooting spree at a high school in northwest New Mexico, killing two students before shooting himself.

What we know about ROF (the Republic of Florida):

A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) told the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz [.] was associated with his group, the ADL reported. The ADL quoted a man named Jordan Jereb, who runs the small group, which is based in Tallahassee.

Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting, the ADL wrote in a blog post that was quickly picked up by ABC News and The Associated Press, and later percolated through dozens of other media outlets. Even The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, picked up the claim.

Some outlets reported they had their own conversations with Jereb or classmates of Cruz who allegedly corroborated the association of Cruz with ROF.

But a few hours later, after law enforcement agencies said they had no evidence linking Cruz to ROF, Jereb said his identification of Cruz was a misunderstanding and that he, too, had been the subject of a prank. On online forums and Twitter, trolls and white nationalists gloated at the disinformation they had sowed.

Politicoreports- All of our evidence seems to point to the ADL getting this wrong, said Joan Donovan, a researcher who tracks online misinformation campaigns for Data & Society, a think tank in New York City.The ADL subsequently revised its report, as did many news outlets.

ADL shared information from our experts on extremism and claims from white supremacist that we believed could be helpful to both law enforcement and the public due to the fluid and evolving nature of the events, an ADL spokesperson said in a statement on Friday. Confirmation of whether Cruz was part of ROF is now in the hands of law enforcement, and thats what the Broward sheriffs team is looking into.

The ADL traced its original tip to posts on 4chan, where researchers found self-described ROF members claiming that Cruz was a brother-in-arms. But many of those posts seem to have been written specifically to deceive reporters and researchers.

On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.

Prime trolling opportunity, another user replied.

You have to take advantage of this, a third chimed in.

He asked for proof of the reporters identity, according to posted screenshots from their correspondence. The reporter provided an official email address and sent a photo of an ABC identification badge.

Some on the 4chan thread joked about sending back obscene photos, but others gave concrete tips for tricking the reporter: Keep talking to her so she gains your trust; Keep this going be realistic say you have known him for years you met him on a Liberal Facebook page years ago and you have kept in touch; Say you are scared to tell her in case you get blamed, it will get her excited you know something big.

This particular 4chan user seems to have sent the reporter a racist cartoon and was quickly blocked. Many on the forum ripped into him for missing a a golden opportunity.

Excerpt from:
How The Left, The Anti Defamation League and Media Used ...

Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire Tablet …

Posted By on March 29, 2018

The Ottoman state encompassed vast territories in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. At its peak, the Danube was its northern border in Europe, Tunisia its western strongpoint, the Caucasus and Iraq in Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula in the south. Above all local differences, there was a certain cultural uniformity in the main cities, the administrative and commercial centers in which Jews tended to reside. As many other Jewries since the early middle ages, that of the Ottoman Empire was also an urban society par excellence. Jews were attracted to the major economic centers such as Istanbul, Edirne, Salonica, and Izmir, Aleppo and Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Alexandria, whose communities constituted the vast majority of this Jewry.

The actual size of the Jewish population remains an open question and is estimated at 150,000. Death rates were high and prevented growth before the 19th century. Moreover, recurrent plagues reduced the number in one city or another significantly, but it would stabilize again within a few years. As the barriers between the various Jewish congregations collapsed and their members mixed one with the other, much of the particularistic customs disappeared, and the pluralism in custom and halakhah was replaced by a new eclectic local Sephardi custom. The Judeo-Spanish (Judezmo, Ladino) became the common language among them. Division and tension between Jewish communities followed other lines since the second half of the 16th centuryinternal strife with Jews of Iberian descent (Sephardim), and social class and economic factorsbetween guild or mostly poor vs. the rich, instead of Karaites or Ashkenazim vs. Sephardim. or between local and itinerant merchants. We have very little information about actual tension between Jews and non-JewsMuslims, Christians, and Gypsies. Feelings of kinship and fraternity were reserved, first and foremost, for relations between an individual and his extended family and only after that for relations between the individual and other members of his ethnic-religious group, guild or other. There were close and at times often ties between the Jewish communities of the empire, manifested in family relationships, business contacts, the mobility of rabbis and correspondence on religious legal matters, the tendering of political and monetary aid, and naturally, a constant sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility. There were also ties between the Ottoman Jewish communities and those outside the empire, mainly in northern Italian cities and the western Sephardim, mostly those of Amsterdam.

The multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman state considered all taxpayers within its borders to be its protected subjects. The principle of justice guided the ruler with regard to all his subjects, and the dhimmi communities generally received fair treatment in accordance with the conditions established by Muslim law and tradition. The Islamic legal system determined the inferior status of the dhimmis and imposed upon them the poll tax (jizye) and other restrictions that were intended to degrade and visually mark them as non-Muslims. There was no uniformity or consistency in the enforcement of the restrictions within this vast empire. As a rule, the central authorities usually did not initiate the enforcement of the restrictions, and constantly protected the rights of the dhimmis. The Muslim masses generally expressed contempt towards non-Muslims and strangers of all types. Greek and Armenian Christians demonstrated towards Jews hatred that had both religious and economic origins. This general state of affairs did not prevent the existence of daily peaceful encounters in the economic sphere and occasionally also of friendship. Only rarely did hatred burst forth violently.

Some Cultural Attributes

In the wake of the 17th century, a hundred years after the expulsions from Iberia, Ottoman Jewry appears to bear several cultural attributes that were maintained, in changing form and intensity, until modernity won in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. They can be summed up as follows.

(a) Ottoman Jewry was a traditional and an observant society. Judaism and Jewish heritage were central factors in defining individual and group identity and in shaping patterns of behavior and lifestyles for the majority of Jews, at least as they knew and understood it. This traditional society included very few individuals (perhaps former marranos) who purposely transgressed religious and communal laws, and showed an ambivalent or even antagonist attitude toward religious scholars and erudition. Yet it was never as serious as in the western Sephardi diaspora.

(b) Private and collective identity: A sense of local pride developed side-by-side with a particularistic identity based on country of origin, this already in the 16th century, after the first generation took root in their new homes. It may be that this was more than mere identification with a geographical location and that the Jewish public expressed a sense of belonging to the city of its residence and of sympathy towards the Ottoman state. This local patriotism reinforced existing competition between communities such as Jerusalem and Safed, Istanbul and Salonica.

The autobiography of Sasson Hai Kastiel of Istanbul written at the turn of the 18th century is a good example of ones consciousness: His memoir is replete with pride in his city, the glorious capital of a great and flourishing empire and the seat of the sultans court. Kastiel is also proud of his community: And the mother of all cities in Rum [i.e., Europe, or the former Byzantine Empire] and all its borders is the excellent city of Istanbul, and within it are found 36,000 Jewish households. He notes Istanbuls antiquity and size and later boasts of its large number of synagogues, their beauty, and the riches they have accumulated. He then goes on to relate the economic status of the Jews in the Empire: And all have wealth and honor, particularly the nation of the holy seed of Israel, for they control it verily like princes.

Salonikas Jews, too, were proud of their city, its Jewish majority, its yeshivot, and famous Talmud Torah. They had good reason to call it a city and mother in Israel and later on Jerusalem of the Balkans. The Ottoman traveler Evliya elebi wrote that the Jews relate to their city as Our Salonica. Similar feelings were widespread among the Jews living in the Holy Landespecially in Jerusalem and Safedwhich maintained their mythical status as centers of learning long after they had ceased to be centers of religious creativity and real influence.

An individuals identity was in practice a cluster comprising religious, ethnic-communal, family, local, class, and cultural identities. Similarly, collective identity, too, was multifaceted. Ones religious identity almost absolutely dictated lifestyle, legal status, social and familial relationships, and more. The form given to individual Jewish identity in the Ottoman Muslim environment was not unequivocal. One attitude, generally found in the rabbinic literature, displays pride in Judaism and faith in its supremacy while looking down upon others and referring to them, within closed Jewish circles, in a demeaning and humiliating manner. Thus, it is understandable why Jews were sometimes warned to stay aloof from local non-Jews who have many vices, are lecherous, and so forth. Private and public life was conducted to a great extent on the basis of the Hebrew calendar. The annual cycle also dictated the rhythm of public life in the congregation. Calendars were also dotted with days that were dangerous calling for special attention, but also with anniversaries: birthdays, and commemorative ceremonies for family members. To these were added state holidays and those of other religious communities, especially Muslim holy days, first and foremost among them the period of Ramadan and its concluding festival. Some days were set as festive days by the state, celebrating victories, or events in the sultans family.

(c) The Jews were a semi-literate society, in contrast to the widely accepted image. The elementary schooling provided by the community in the framework of the Talmud Torah schools resulted in a high percentage of literate males, but most of them were at best able to read the prayers. Only some men knew how to write and many were even unable to sign their names. Until the mid-19th century, women received no formal education and almost all were illiterate. Not surprisingly, the great majority of the diverse types of popular literary works were oral, as was the manner in which they were handed down and consumed.

(d) Jewish culture was a hybrid, with two dominant components: Jewish-Iberian and Jewish-Ottoman added to the early local one, of which we know little. A few more sentences about the first group: Jews whose provenance was in the Iberian Peninsula accounted for the majority of Ottoman Jewry, especially in Anatolia and the Balkans. The exiles brought their written and oral cultural heritage with them, and their descendants preserved it. The continuous stream of immigrants from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant, and their return there to Judaism, served to reinforce the memory of the past and to preserve the ties to the old homeland among the veteran Sephardi population. Those who arrived during the 17th century undoubtedly contributed to keeping those who preceded them abreast of developments in Iberian culture, such as poetry and theater, stories, and the language. Graduates of universities in Spain and Portugal brought with them scientific knowledge, particularly in the field of medicine, together with religious skepticism and a tendency to reject rabbinical authority. With time, the memory of the expulsion, murders, and persecutions faded and nostalgic longing increased for their imagined Iberian past, painted in glowing colors, and more so as time passed. The Spanish heritage could be discerned in several cultural spheres: First and foremost the Judeo-Spanish language that became one of the unifying outward signs of the Sephardi diaspora in the Orient until the 20th century. Other aspects are various genres of folklore, the literary output in various genres, halakhah and customs, beliefs, values and manners of behavior, political and organizational patterns, and to a minor degree material culture and cuisine.

Integration and Acculturation

Whereas from the aspects of social standing and their religion the Jews were a sub-group in the heterogeneous Ottoman society, in effect they formed an integral part of the urban population and were well-integrated into city life. The dynamic reality in the cities encouraged minority cultures integration into the majority civilization and the process of borrowing from it. Several factors were responsible for the deep and variegated influence of Ottoman urban society and its culture on Jewish culture in the domains of Ottoman Islam, notwithstanding the fact that some of them were huge communities, centers of Torah learning, power, and wealth; which might have wished to ghettoize themselves.

First and foremost is the daily encounter with the other. Ottoman cities were definitely a Muslim space, but at the same time the larger cities were arenas of diverse religious and cultural encounters: There was a constant and ongoing social interaction in residential neighborhoods, in the markets, in the harbor, and in guild gatherings, and at the bathhouses (hamam) and coffee houses the last two were the loci of recreation. There are several reasons for this fruitful encounter:

(a) The economic activity of the Jews: In the absence of legal restrictions, and making full use of their knowledge and abilities, Jews were involved in a wide variety of occupations. These included local, national and international trade; acting as intermediaries particularly with European traders; small manufacturers, in which textiles, were especially important; financial and other services to high-ranking officials, among them leasing the collection of taxes and custom duties, providing supplies, minting currency, banking, diplomatic consultation and other services. Many provided more mundane services to the general public including medical care and various entertainmentsas jugglers, acrobats, dancers, singers, and puppeteers; or rendered services within the Jewish congregation.

Ottoman Jews were involved in diverse occupations and it had a few implications, one of which was creating close ties with the majority population. Special emphasis should be placed on the role of guilds whose members were of different religious faiths, at least until the 18th century. In addition to being the scene of social interaction, the guilds functioned also as an agent of acculturation. Cooperation and relations between members of each guild were not limited to routine commercial negotiations, and there is evidence of dhimmis participating in the guilds Muslim religious ceremonies.

Two types of cultural agents can be identified among the Jews themselves: Members of the economic elite with access to the sultans court and the households of leading members of the elite, andon a completely different levelmultitudes of Jewish craftsmen and suppliers of services, especially in the areas of entertainment. The latter served as a viaduct for the transfer of diverse cultural influences (folklore, songs, stories, music) from Ottoman urban society, the target population for most of their activities, to Jewish society, which consumed similar products and services.

(b) The legal status and the social atmosphere: Though legally and politically Jews and Christians in the Middle East belonged to a social category that was set apart from and inferior to Muslims, this generally had no practical effect on daily life due to a general laxity in enforcing the sharia restrictions, and the ongoing obligation of the Sultan to retain the holy law in matters concerning his dhimmi subjects. The fact that Jews trusted the system and knew how to cope with momentary difficulties added to their sense of wellbeing.

In their first encounter with the preponderant culture, Jews in the major cities of the empire sensed security and stability to an extent that they allowed themselves to open up toward the Muslim environment, feel at home within it, and adopt some of its practices, customs, and beliefs. The process of assimilation was irreversible and did not end even when religious zealotry and Islamic isolationist tendencies increased, such as during the last two decades of the 17th century, or in the mid-18th century.

(c) The strong assimilating power of Ottoman civilization was an eminent force in the lives of the non-Muslims. Many, mainly in the European provinces, converted to Islam. The syncretistic and pluralistic character of the Ottoman state encouraged minority religions and cultures to integrate into the majority civilization and the process of borrowing from it was accelerated. It is clear that there was a constant flow of Jewish converts to Islam, but we cannot assess the dimensions of this phenomenonwith one outstanding case, that of Sabbatean believers in the last third of the 17th century: Afew hundred families converted, and became the core of the dnme group whose base was in Salonika until the early 20th century.

The elitist cultural outlook/standpoint of Muslim Ottoman society also had a negative result: Until the early 18th century the Ottomans looked down upon anything European. Disregard of the European achievements and discoveries in science and in industry, in commerce as in the arts, was a sure recipe for intellectual isolationism and contributed to stagnation and degeneration in several spheres among the empires subjects.

(d) The Iberian legacy of openness towards the cultural milieu in which it lived (either Islam or Christianity), and the willingness to receive, to borrow, to adopt, and to acculturate. The arrival of the exiles, and later of many former Marranos from the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, occurred during a time of economic growth, expansion, and prosperity for the Ottoman state. Their first encounter with the preponderant culture had occurred at the best timing, that is the heyday of the Ottomans, mainly the Suleymanic periodwhen culture reached new peaks in literature, music, and fine arts. We do not find restrictive orders, either in Jewish law or in communal regulations, that forbid close contacts with non-Jews or that try to distinguish Jews from their surrounding by various barriers. The dominant Muslim character of Ottoman cities was not conceived by Jews as being as hostile as that of Christian cities, and their atmosphere was more inviting.

The absence of a significant polemic literature, especially after the 16th century, is yet another issue. While in the 16th century we find anti-Christian Hebrew tracts (against the Catholic faith), and in the 19th century, against the Protestant missionaries, we hardly know of similar works against Islam, even though there are remnants of Islamic anti-Jewish polemics. These remnants might attest to the higher status of Jews and Judaism in the 16th century. Throughout the period there were spontaneous discussions between laymen. The only documented high-level formal polemic was initiated by Shabbetai Zevi, who summoned Jewish rabbis to the court of Mehmed IV (r. 1648-1687).

If during the first decades of encounter the Jewish immigrants looked upon Ottoman culture as something altogether foreign or inferior, by the mid-16th-century things had changed. During the second half of that century, Ottoman Jewry became increasingly assimilated into Ottoman urban culture, so much so that by the 17th century it played a leading role in all facets of the individuals daily life. Upper and lower echelons of the Jewish society seem to have been more adaptive, and more apt to acculturate. Thus, increasing involvement in Ottoman society and its culture, unparalleled in Europe, had a far-reaching influence on the character of Ottoman Jewry.

The Ottoman Legacy

Ottoman cities, particularly the larger ones, were arenas of diverse religious and cultural encounters. As mentioned before the intimate acquaintance of wide sectors of Jewish society with Ottoman urban institutions as well as with various strata of Ottoman culture had deep and long-range implications for individual lifestyles and also for Jewish society. It is these contacts that forged the Jewish public into Ottoman Jewry. Recent research reveals more to what extent and how deeply Ottoman society and culture influenced Jewish society, its organizational frameworks, and individuals at all levels of the social hierarchy. Ottoman culture exerted an influence on the Jews way of life, the language they spoke, their folk beliefs, ideals, mentality, and norms, and even on their religious practices. The following are some of the major areas of cultural influence and their most outstanding manifestations.


Ottoman Jews were multi-lingual, or at least bi-lingual: Judeo-Spanish or several variants of Judeo-Arabic were used by both men and women as the common language within their ethnic group. Hebrew was the mens language of prayer, but only scholars were truly fluent in Hebrew, which served them as the language of correspondence and for writing their literary works. There is much evidence that Jewish men spoke some Turkish, and a few could even read and write it with various levels of proficiency. Basic command of Turkish and Greek served the men and women who had dealings with Muslims, Greeks, and Armenians in the daily livesin commerce, as well as for communicating with the authorities, etc. We notice a gradual adoption of words and terms into Judeo-Spanish reflecting many aspects of daily lifefoodstuffs, taxes, architectural terms, names of dresses, objects and furnishings, professions, the titles of officials, and more. Many men and women had Turkish and Arab names and sobriquets, as is mainly attested by literature connected with divorce (shmot gitin, and lists of divorce acts) as well as documents in Ottoman Turkish. Some used Turkish curses while arguing with other fellow Jews.

The high level of proficiency in Turkish among a small circle of Jewish intellectuals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is reflected in surviving remnants of lexicographical works and translations from Turkish to Hebrew or the opposite, including the Bible and the Quran, and works on astronomy, medicine, and history. Historiography needs a special emphasis, as we find more and more works that were composed in this field in the Crimea and in the heart of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Poetry and Literature

The folklore of Ottoman Jewry has not been systematically collected and recorded, and with the exception of a few genres of folk literature, it has almost not been the object of academic research. Nevertheless, I may make some remarks on acculturation in this vast field (see also below).

Jewish folk literature in Judeo-Spanish borrowed folktales, proverbs, and sayings from Turkish folk literature. Most instructive is the manner in which stories about Djoha, the counterpart of the Turkish character Nasr-ad-Din Hoja (Nasreddin Hoca), became part of the folktale repertoire of Ottoman Jews. Though it is as yet uncertain when they made their first appearance in a Jewish context, it is hard to believe that such stories came on the scene only in the 19th or 20th centuries. Their adoption almost without change points to Jewish legitimization of this aspect of Ottoman culture. In this case, too, the point should be made that for Jews to be involved in various entertainment spheres such as dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, and operation of puppet theaters and shadow theaters (Karagz) necessitated intimate knowledge of the language, the literary canon and the taste of the local public. I suspect that the Ottoman milieu had some effect on creativity, especially in the field of poetry, and that its high status among Jewish intellectuals seems to have been a response to mainstream Ottoman culture. The example of a circle of poets in late 16th-century Salonika is well known.

Regarding poetry, there is one more example of parallel genres and phenomena: In the late-16th century Jewish poets in Istanbul, Salonica, Edirne and also in provincial centers such as Damascus, Cairo, and Safed, were involved in an ongoing discourse, exchanging letters which were mostly songs, thus trying to show their creativity and skill. There is evidence that the new poetic genre called coplas was created at the beginning of the 17th century. Fragments from the Cairo Geniza suggest that it might have already appeared in the 16th century The coplas were not intended for use in the synagogue or religious ritual, and were diversified in content matterdealing with family, public, and (past and present) historical events. They probably combine a tradition of Sephardi-Iberian writing with a local Ottoman poetic style. Multi-lingual para-liturgical poetry (in Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish, Turkish, and Greek) was written during the 18th century.


The influence of Ottoman culture on Jewish music appears both in form and in the melodies applied to Jewish texts. Edwin Seroussi has shown that borrowing from Ottoman music was comprehensive, including the form of the maqm, the modi, and technical terms. Ottoman music, particularly that performed in the court in Istanbul or in Edirne and music of Sufi orders (tarikat), completely transformed the para-liturgical music and later on, the liturgical music sung in the synagogues and at other religious convocations, such as special study nights (veglia, nocada, mishmara) or the singing of the maftirin (a special choir of men who used to chant in the synagogue on Saturday afternoon), which had become standard at least from the mid-17th century. Leading examples of collections of poems written in the style of the Ottoman maqm are Zemirot Yisrael by R. Israel Najara (whose songs gained immense popularity and were printed in several editions during his lifetime; d. 1620) and Pizmonim u-vakashot (printed c. 1640) by a liturgical poet of the next generation, R. Joseph Ganso of Bursa. Turkish and Arabic music and singing also infiltrated Jewish folk music, about which we know very little, existing side-by-side with songs and melodies of Iberian provenance. It could be that R. Eliyahu ha-Kohens rebuke of women who sang their children songs about love and passion was directed against this type of singing, and not necessarily against the Spanish love romance.

Norms and Values

Among the norms and values adopted by Jews were the maintenance of social order and strict class boundaries, the values of a patriarchal family, of feminine honor and the place of women in public space and society, of masculine honor and the beard as a sign of virility, keeping the body covered, and so forth. Honor was an exceedingly importantand complexsocial value. Sometimes these norms reinforced existing Jewish values, while at other times they contradicted them. There were norms of behavior that were not commensurate with Jewish halakhah, especially in what related to sexual behavioras is evident concerning homosexuality. I already showed that certain homosexual practices were quite widespread, and those involved were not condemned nor punished. Another example was cohabitation of Jewish men with female slaves, which was considered legitimate by the public at large, much to the chagrin of the rabbis, and sometimes their wives. Not a few proverbs and sayings deal with the importance of close and true friendship and loyalty that stand the test and prove firm.

An example of borrowing aesthetic values is the custom of Muslim men, and evidently, the habit of Jewish men as well, to shave off their body hair, against the explicit orders of some rabbis. There are hints of a similar attitude toward the definition of feminine beauty, which also is far from modern Western ideals.

The Political Sphere

Intimate acquaintance of various sectors in Jewish society with the Ottoman judicial system and bureaucratic procedures helped shape the communal institutions of the kahal and its political culture. The very fact that there was a group of men who served as head of the congregation (cemaat ba, kahya, ihtiyarlar, all titled after the Turkish) or were candidates to fill such positions in the future points to the existence of several dozen persons in the larger communities, who had a good command of Turkish and were familiar with Ottoman administrative terminology and procedures. Another institution imitated was the Muslim waqf (hekdesh, that is a sacred trust, endowment). Many trusts were established for the benefit of the community. This had already been widespread in the Genizah world and later in Iberia prior to the expulsion, but local influence on the manner in which they operated in Ottoman lands can be discerned.

Religious Practice

Jews, Muslims, and Christians took care to exhibit their piety and practice the commandments of their religion, at least in public and in accordance with the orders of the Islamic law. Even though Muslim religious leaders preferred that the dhimmis convert to Islam, for the moment they and the masses of Muslim believers looked positively upon expressions of religious piety on the part of their neighbors, most likely based on the belief that each community prays to God according to its own religion, and so they are all protected from Divine wrath. Cases of public transgression of religious laws (immodesty, smoking during a fast, false swear etc.) were condemned or at least left a negative impression on the population.

In what relates to religious practices, we find cases in which the decisors (poskim, who interpret the halakhah) were aware of Muslim religious law and of public opinion, for example relating to smoking on fast days, breaking oaths, and apparently also concerning the matter of charging interest on loans. Some of them thought the Jews behave in accord with Muslim practice, e.g. considering smoking as food and thus prohibiting it on fast days. Others thought to the contrary. From time to time, a call would arise to adopt Muslim customs such as removing footwear before prayer and greater strictness in matters of ritual cleanness. Even the quiet and orderly prayers of Muslims were a source of envy on the part of Jewish religious leaders who time and again criticized their congregations in this matter. The ziyara (visits to holy sites) and the pilgrimage to the Holy Land were apparently encouraged by the growing importance of the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina) and the popularity of visiting tombs of Islamic holy men. Jewish financial support of holy places, religious scholars, and the poor imitated to some extent the custom of the Ottoman elite to distribute such grants (surra), or at least was reinforced by these practices.

Formal religion did not provide appropriate answers to all the spiritual needs of the individual. Popular beliefs and demonological superstitions supplied explanations for certain phenomena and helped the individual contend with the difficulties of his day to day existence. Many believed in the existence of demonic forces and their diverse powers, either of a negative nature (to harm), or such as could be used in a positive way (to heal, to protect, to cause someone to fall in love). Events that could not be explained away, or illnesses, deaths, and other difficult situations characteristic of the hardships of daily life, were attributed to their powers. In order to defend oneself from these powers, or conversely to turn them to their advantage, persons turned to one of two parallel courses of action. The first was prayer or the giving of charity and the like. The second was recourse to talismans and all sorts of charms, some from kabbalistic sources and others of popular origin, that were set down in writing and passed on from generation to generation, and quack medicines, many of which were prohibited by the halakhah. The Jewish rabbinic and popular sources mention superstitions such as belief in demons and supernatural forces, intensive use of talismans to ward off the evil eye or for the fulfillment of wishes, and more. Talismans and charms were supplied by women and men who specialized in supplying them. Jews did not hesitate to turn to non-Jewish practitioners, and Muslims availed themselves of the services of Jewish sorcerers, witches, and fortune-tellers.

Material Culture and Lifestyle

Jewish men and women adopted the lifestyle and material culture of their neighbors together with the significance attached to various status symbols such as expensive clothing, jewelry, ownership of slaves, etc. We have information about influence on diverse aspects of external appearance such as body ornaments (i.e. with henna) or richly embroidered clothes, and the appearance of the home and its furnishings. Some Jews internalized the restrictions on clothinga well-known means of identification in Muslim landsand valued them as an advantageous measure. Most interesting is the information about attempts by Jews to hide their Jewish identity by means of apparel that would not disclose the wearers religious affiliation. This they did either for the sake of security while traveling or in order to overcome their inferiority, and of course, to boast having the financial means to consume luxury items. Anyone who could afford it tried to climb the social ladder, or at least to show a higher statusadopting attributes (including the manner of dress) of upper classes. A famous Jewish preacher explicitly denounces the practice of many men who did not grow side-locks because they were ashamed to mark themselves as Jews.

Minna Rozen identified a similar influence on Jewish tombstones whose general style and ornamentation are compatible with the artistic style predominant in 18th-century western Anatolia. The Bill Gross collection (Tel Aviv) includes a manuscript prayer book whose artistic style, especially of the opening page, resembles that of Muslim manuscripts, and is similar to that of a rare Karaite book (Seder ha-Tefilot le-Minhag Kehilot ha-Karaim) printed in Kala (Crimea) in 1732.

The recreational patterns of Jewish men and women were quite similar to those of the majority society, including the fundamental insistence on gender separation. Women spent their time in the home and in the courtyard, at the bathhouse, and even on occasion outside the city, drinking coffee, smoking, and partaking of sweetmeats and fruit with their female relatives and friends. Men would for the most spend their recreation time in coffee houses, where they also watched various artistic performances, or simply enjoyed each others company.


Although ones religious identity was the dominant factor in his or her life. But Jews, Muslims, and Christians also shared a similar outlook on life, a sense of common fate in times of duress or rejoicing, similar behavioral patterns, and even common folk superstitions, which I mentioned earlier. All attributed every event to the will of God and believed that every event had a reason and a purpose. Catastrophes such as epidemics, fires, and starvation were believed to be Heavenly retribution for sins. The only defense against evils was through religious and moral correction, prayers, charity and other good deeds. Trouble and distress were to be expected; one should not struggle against fate, and nothing could forestall death. There is much similarity in the submissive manner in which those of both faiths accepted their fatevarious genres of folk literature recommend and teach acceptance of ones fate, for there is no logic in bitterness and non-conciliation with the inevitable. Such an outlook on life is discernible in how they related to sickness and death, which was an everyday matter, in the fact that they saw their difficulties as expressions of Divine Providence and reconciled themselves to accepting tragedies as Divine punishment for sins. To a great extent, religious belief dictated how one related to sickness, death, or even poverty and misery, while religious law dictated behavior when death occurred. Preachers put forward various explanations, all traditional-religious, for death, especially in more exceptional cases such as the death of children, rabbis, and so forth.

In recent years, scholars have evinced some interest in the theme of death in Ottoman society. In view of the lack of sufficient works on the Ottoman conception of death and coping with it, we cannot measure the degree of resemblance between Jews and Muslims, but I tend to believe that it exists. With but few exceptions all believed in the world to come, and many prepared for it by following a pious way of life, doing good deeds, and atoning for their sins before death. We find a common concern of the dying for their commemoration and the fate of their souls in the next world. When the day of their passing drew near, the well-to-do would will money or belongings to causes that would ensure eternal bliss for their soulproper burial, reciting the kaddish prayer, Torah study, kindling memorial candles, andlike their neighborsaid to the poor, and the like. Owners of slaves tended to release them from bondage as a pious act.


To sum up, a sense of security and stability, the close proximity of dwellings and businesses as well as the close relationship in the market as workers, traders, go-betweens and customers and the cultural openness which characterized Jews in the Ottoman cities, together with the dominant status of Ottoman-Islamic culture being at its peak, created the grounds for speedy acculturation processes which transformed Jewish culture and society in so many waysranging from clothing and housewares to synagogue liturgy and adornment and the aesthetics of ritual and ceremonial objects; moreover it manifested in a few literary genres and in popular culture and entertainment. It is important to note that it was not a just one-way influenceJewish astronomers and physicians were writing scientific treatises which were used by Muslim contemporaries. All in all, we encounter an almost unprecedented acculturation, one that might only be equaled to that of famous golden age in medieval Spain under Muslim rule.


This essay is adapted from Urban Encounters: The Muslim-Jewish Case in the Ottoman Empire, in The Ottoman Middle East: Studies in Honor of Amnon Cohen, eds. Eyal Ginio and Elie Podeh (Leiden: Brill, 2014). Reprinted with permission.

Yaron Ben-Naeh is director of Misgav Yerushalayim, The Center for Research and Study of Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage, and the Bernard Cherrick Chair in the History of the Jewish People in the department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire Tablet ...

Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism Labour Party …

Posted By on March 28, 2018

Progress, the Jewish Labour Movement and the rightwing media have been running a completely cynical campaign, argues Mosh Machover

The whole campaign of equating opposition to Zionism with anti-Semitism has, in fact, been carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government and the far right in the United States. It is easy to explain why.

Over recent years there has been a shift in public opinion regarding Israeli policy and the conflict in the Middle East and the legitimation or otherwise of Israel as a Zionist, colonising state. One factor behind this shift has been the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. When the BDS campaign was very young there was some discussion about whether it could actually overthrow the Zionist regime just as some people thought a boycott of South Africa could overthrow apartheid. Of course, all analogies between South Africa and Israel are misleading, because they represent two different models of colonisation. But, leaving that aside, while sanctions may help to produce favourable conditions, those who think they are going to overthrow the regime in this way are deluding themselves.

The BDS campaign has, however, been a mobiliser of public opinion. Its advantage is that in various trade unions and professional organisations, in every college and university, there is a group of people campaigning, and this has provoked a very useful debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is remarkable is that among the BDS activists there is an overrepresentation of young Jewish people.

That is very worrying for the Zionists and if you read the Israeli press it is clear that there is a determination to halt this erosion of support for the Zionist state by discrediting its critics. This was the situation before there was even a hint that Jeremy Corbyn could become Labour leader. Of course, his election has added to worries, because for the first time ever a leader of the main opposition party in Britain is someone who has a long record of supporting the Palestinian struggle.

And so the Zionists and all their allies decided to launch their Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism campaign. Accidentally or not, the current Israeli ambassador to London is a certain Mark Regev, who has consistently justified Israels crimes. Regev is hardly a normal diplomat he is a propagandist by trade. And, of course, the Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism campaign has been taken up by those who have no particular pro-Israel sentiments, but are looking for ways to attack the left of the Labour Party.

So there is now a coalition between, on the one side, people worried about the rise in support for the Palestinian cause and who would like to discredit the Labour left for that reason; and, on the other, people like the vile blogger, Guido Fawkes, whose real name is Paul Staines a rightwinger who would do anything to discredit the Labour left. He is using anti-Semitism smears for opportunistic reasons, not because he really cares one way or the other about Israel/Palestine.

The campaign has been remarkably successful and, of course, the biggest scalp so far is that of former London mayor and former NEC member, Ken Livingstone. What did he say that got him suspended? Hitler came to power in 1932 and supported Zionism until he went mad. Of course, he got the date wrong, Hitler came to power in 1933. It was also wrong to personalise the shift in policy. But the point he was making about the Nazi regime and Zionism is basically correct, as I shall demonstrate.

Dont mention Zionism

How should the left react under such circumstances? A good friend of mine, who is on the left and has been a co-signatory of some of the statements we have been issuing, said to me that maybe we should not talk too much about Zionism, because people do not understand it and can get confused. Maybe we should just concentrate on the actual evils carried out by Israel.

You will not be surprised to learn that this person belongs to that part of the left which is happy to talk about austerity, but does not want to mention capitalism. Everyone understands austerity and it is good to organise demonstrations against it, but capitalism is too much of a political word.

I fail to see how dropping mention of Zionism can work. Even the Zionists acknowledge that it is acceptable to criticise Israeli policy and would not be too concerned if we criticised, say, Israels continuing colonisation building settlements on the West Bank and so on. But I ask a question: why does Israel persist in this? It is a policy which earns it the most criticism in the United States. Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders have criticised it directly and the British governments official policy is that these settlements are illegal they are an obstacle to peace, etc. So why does Israel do it? How can you explain it?

It can be explained by the fact that it isan essential part of Zionist policy. In carrying out this policy Israel is, if you like, following an imperative of Zionism from the very beginning. Once you accept that this is an integral part of Zionism, then you realise it would be strange if Israel didnotattempt to implement it. It is not as if it were a policy specific to the current government of Binyamin Netanyahu. It has been carried out byallIsraeli governments since 1967 and it took place within the former borders the so-called green line before 1967. It has been an ongoing policy of Zionist colonisation from the very beginning.

You cannot explain why Israel is continuing with a policy that is not winning it any friends without mentioning Zionism. On the contrary, I think what we should do is not apologise; instead we should go onto the offensive and be aggressive: directly attack Zionism.

And you can also attack Zionism precisely because of its collusion and collaboration with anti-Semitism, including up to a point with Nazi Germany. We should not respond to the attacks by saying, We are against anti-Semitism, as we are against all racism, which is to accept that anti-Semitism is actually a problem on the left. While, of course, we oppose such racism, the fact is that its proponents within the left and the Labour Party account for a minuscule proportion. We can deal with anti-Semitism if it shows its head, but we should not make gestures as a kind of apology in the face of the current assault. The handful of people on the left who propagate a version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion carry no weight and are without any intellectual foundation.

The Protocols contained claims of both capitalist and working class conspiracy: Jews were overrepresented among capitalists, but they were also overrepresented in the revolutionary movement. The anti-Semitic slogan in revolutionary Russia was: Sugar Brodsky, tea Vissotsky, Russia Trotsky the first two were magnates and all three were Jews. We can deal with similar nonsense on the left in our own time, but not as an apology in response to attacks on the left. On the contrary, we need to go on the counteroffensive.


We should take the side of the Board of Deputies of British Jews not the current one, but the Board of Deputies of 100 years ago! It put out some very pertinent statements about Zionism and its connection with anti-Semitism. When the negotiations on the 1917 Balfour Declaration were taking place, a prominent member of the Board of Deputies, Lucien Wolf, wrote:

I understand that the Zionists do not merely propose to form and establish a Jewish nationality in Palestine, but that they claim all the Jews as forming at the present moment a separate and dispossessed nationality, for which it is necessary to find an organic political centre, because they are and must always be aliens in the lands in which they now dwell, and, more especially, because it is an absolute self-delusion to believe that any Jew can be at once English by nationality and Jewish by faith.

I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies, which has absolutely no justification in history, ethnology or the facts of everyday life, and if they were admitted by the Jewish people as a whole, the result would only be that the terrible situation of our co-religionists in Russia and Romania would become the common lot of Jewry throughout the world.

About the same time, Alexander Montefiore, president of the Board of Deputies, and Claude, his brother, who was president of the closely associated Anglo-Jewish Association, wrote a letter toThe Times. They stated that the establishment of a Jewish nationality in Palestine, founded on the theory of Jewish homelessness, must have the effect throughout the world of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands and of undermining their hard-won positions as citizens and nationals of those lands.

They pointed out that the theories of political Zionism undermined the religious basis of Jewry, to which the only alternative would be a secular Jewish nationality, recruited on some loose and obscure principle of race and of ethnographic peculiarity.

They went on:

But this would not be Jewish in any spiritual sense, and its establishment in Palestine would be a denial of all the ideals and hopes by which the survival of Jewish life in that country commends itself to the Jewish conscience and Jewish sympathy. On these grounds the Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association deprecates earnestly the national proposals of the Zionists.

The second part in the Zionist programme which has aroused the misgivings of the Conjoint Committee is the proposal to invest the Jewish settlers [in Palestine] with certain special rights in excess of those enjoyed by the rest of the population

In all the countries in which Jews live the principle of equal rights for all religious denominations is vital to them. Were they to set an example in Palestine of disregarding this principle, they would convict themselves of having appealed to it for purely selfish motives. In the countries in which they are still struggling for equal rights they would find themselves hopelessly compromised The proposal is the more inadmissible because the Jews are and probably long will remain a minority of the population of Palestine, and might involve them in the bitterest feuds with their neighbours of other races and religions, which would severely retard their progress and find deplorable echoes throughout the orient.

This turned out to be highly prophetic.

Nazi collaboration

Let us turn now to the Zionist-Nazi connection. In fact it sounds more shocking than it is, because we are talking about the early days of the Nazi regime. Today the holocaust is taught in schools, so people may know when the policy of extermination of Jews actually started officially in January 1942, when a Nazi conference was convened in Wannsee under the chairmanship of Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was second in command to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS.

The minutes of this conference are actually online and in them a change in policy towards the Jews, ratified by theFhrer, was declared. Although it is phrased euphemistically, it is clear that what was being talked about was both deportation to the east and extermination.

This change occurred following the attack on the Soviet Union, when the Nazis felt they had to find different ways of dealing with the Jewish problem. Until that time the official policy was for the exclusion of the Jews from political and civic life, for separation and for emigration. Quite naturally the Zionist leadership thought this set of policies was similar to those of other anti-Semitic regimes which it was and the Zionist approach was not peculiar to the Nazi regime. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted torid themof the Jews. That was the common interest.

In 1934 the German rabbi, Joachim Prinz, published a book entitledWir Juden(We, the Jews), in which he welcomed the Nazi regime. That regime wanted to separate Jews from non-Jews and prevent assimilation as did the Zionists. Philip Roths novel,The plot against America, is based on actual people, including Prinz, who emigrated to America and became a leader of the US Jewish community the fact that he was a Zionist is not mentioned.

Anyway, the Zionists made overtures to the Nazi regime, so how did the Nazis respond? Here are two relevant quotations. The first is from the introduction to the Nuremberg laws, the racist legislation introduced in Nazi Germany in 1935. This extract was still present in the 1939 edition, from which I am quoting:

If the Jews had a state of their own, in which the bulk of their people were at home, the Jewish question could already be considered solved today The ardent Zionists of all people have objected least of all to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg laws, because they know that these laws are the only correct solution for the Jewish people too

Heydrich himself wrote the following in an article for the SS house journalDas Schwarze Korpsin September 1935:

National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations.The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the worldand the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Of course, looking back at all this, it seems all the more sinister, since we know that the story ended with the gas chambers a few years later. This overlap is an indictment of Zionism, but the actual collaboration between the two was not such an exceptional thing, when you accept that the Zionists were faced with the reality of an anti-Semitic regime.

By the way, half of what Ken Livingstone said is not very far from the caricature uttered by Netanyahu in 2016 during an address to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. According to Netanyahu, Hitler didnt want to exterminate the Jews until he met the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941. Netanyahu claimed that Al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, If you expel them, theyll all come here.

Of course, the allegation that the idea of extermination originated with the grand mufti has been rejected with contempt by serious historians, but Netanyahu was at least correct in saying that emigration, not extermination, was indeed Nazi policy until the winter of 1941-42.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisationandcollusion with anti-Semitism. Dont apologise for saying this. If you throw the sharks bloodied meat, they will only come back for more. At the moment the left is apologising too much, in the hope that the right will let up. They never will.

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Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism Labour Party ...

Tish (Hasidic celebration) – Wikipedia

Posted By on March 27, 2018

A tish (Yiddish: , pl. , tishn, literally, "table"), also spelled tisch, is a gathering of Hasidim around their Rebbe. In Hebrew a Tish is called Hitveadut (). It may consist of speeches on Torah subjects, singing of melodies known as niggunim (singular niggun) and zemirot ("hymns"), with refreshments being served. Hasidim see it as a moment of great holiness. They are public events that are open to non-Hasidim as well.

Within Hasidic Judaism, a tish refers to any joyous public celebration or gathering or meal by Hasidim at a "table" of their Rebbe. Such a gathering is staged around the blessing of Melchitzedek themed "setting of the table" and so is often referred to in Hebrew as Arichat HaShulchan ( ). Bread and wine are essential elements. The term "Shabbos tish" is also sometimes used in Yiddish regarding the Shabbat meal of any Jewish family.

During a tish, the Rebbe sits at the head of the table and the Hasidim gather around the table. In large Hasidic movements, only the Rebbe and his immediate family, plus a few close disciples, partake of the actual meal, but small pieces of bread, fish, meat, poultry, farfel, beans, kugel, or fruit, as well as small cups of kosher wine or other beverages, are distributed to all present as shiyarim (). In such large courts, there are often bleachers, known as parentches ({) in Yiddish, for observers of the tish to stand on. In smaller courts there is usually more food available for observers to partake. Often, in both large and small tishen, the Rebbe will personally distribute shirayim food to individuals. Hasidim believe that the Rebbe will have a personal blessing for each person who partakes of the food he gives them.

In some Hasidic movements, the Rebbe only eats his Shabbat meals at the tish, often waiting many hours until the Hasidim have finished their meals to begin his meal with the recitation of the Kiddush prayer. In other courts, the Rebbe begins his meal at home with his family, and then comes to join the Hasidim in the synagogue to end the meal. In yet other courts, the entire tish is conducted after the meal has been finished at home. In such a case only dessert, usually consisting of kugel and fruit, is served, as well as soft drinks, usually seltzer-water. Such tishes are known as a Peiros Tish ( ) ("Fruit Tish").

Sometimes, a Hasidic gathering similar to a tish is conducted without the presence of a Rebbe. This is called a botteh () in Yiddish or a Shevet Achim ( ) in Hebrew. It is often led by a Rabbi who is not a Rebbe, such as a Rosh Yeshivah, Mashgiach Ruchani, or a Rebbe's son. Often, a botteh will be indistinguishable from a Tish, for the respect that many Hasidim have for their Rebbe's son is often very close to the reverence for the Rebbe himself, as he is the assumed heir to the throne.

A tish takes place at the meals in honor of the Shabbat, Jewish holidays, yahrzeit ("annual memorial") for previous rebbes of that dynasty, as a seudas hoda'ah (meal of thanksgiving) to God for past salvations (such as escape from prisons or from the Holocaust), or some other seudas mitzvah.

Some Hasidic movements hold a tish every Shabbat; others do so only on Jewish holidays. The time at which a tish can be held also differs. For example, Belzer Hasidim conduct their tish both late Friday night and on Saturday afternoon for Seudah Shlishit, while Gerrer Hasidim only have their tish on Saturday afternoon or early evening for Seudah Shlishit.

A tish is usually also held on minor holidays such as Lag b'Omer, Hanukkah, Purim, Tu Bishvat, on the minor days (Chol Hamoed) of major festivals such as Sukkos and Pesach, and before and after the fast of Yom Kippur.

Hasidim may also visit the tish of another Rebbe, and non-Hasidic Jews often visit a tish also. Non-Jews sometimes visit a tish as well, particularly dignitaries and politicians during a weekday tish such as on Chol HaMoed.

The nature of the tish differs from group to group but during the tish, the Hasidim intently and silently watch the rebbe eating the meal and are extremely eager to receive shirayim ("leftovers"), cooked alongside the Rebbe's courses, believing it to be a great merit (zechus) to eat something from the leftovers of a tzadik's meal. Many Hasidim claim that miracles can take place in merit of partaking of the shirayim, such as miraculous healing or blessings of wealth or piety.

Hasidic songs, or niggunim (), are sung with great gusto. The songs may at times be either joyous or solemnly meditative. The rebbe may teach words of Torah, often mystical passages from the Midrash, Zohar, and the Kabbalah during the tish. He may also tell Hasidic stories, parables, and history. He may also give religious commentary on current events and politics.

Women do not sit with the men (because some communities of Orthodox Jews, especially Hasidim, are very strict about the separation of the sexes) but they are often present to observe the tish from the ezras noshim ("women's section") in the main synagogue or hall where it is taking place. The women present do not sing aloud and they generally do not receive the shirayim, although sometimes they do.

A tish can vary in size from a handful to thousands of people. Large tishen are usually held in special rooms in the main building of a Hasidic movement. Sometimes they are held in the main synagogue. Around the holidays, when thousands of Hasidim who live in other cities or countries come to pray and visit with their Rebbe joining the Hasidim who live near the Rebbe and things can get very crowded, they are sometimes held in a large temporary structure. Small tishen are often conducted in private homes, particularly when a Hasidic Rebbe is visiting another community. These events are usually open to the public.

Among Lubavitcher Hasidim, a gathering known as a Farbrengen (, Yiddish for "gathering") is celebrated, similar to a tish. A Farbrengen may be conducted with or without the presence of a Rebbe, and even with the presence of only a few Hasidim. At a Farbrengen, zemiros are generally not sung (with the exception of the zemiros of the Arizal for each Sabbath meal), but rather only niggunim.

A large number of videos of tishen can be found on Google Videos.

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Tish (Hasidic celebration) - Wikipedia

Hasidic Jews cheer as they cover up TV screen showing in …

Posted By on March 27, 2018

A group of Hasidic Jews cheered as one of their group covered up a screen showing 'Music and Lyrics' onboard a flight.

The bizarre video appears to show the group, in traditional dress, arguing with a man who does not appear to be Jewish, on board a flight.

One large screen is showing the 2007 Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore film 'Music and Lyrics', but it seems the group were not pleased with the film choice.

After a back-and-forth with one other passenger, one of the group steps forward and uses a black cloth to cover the screen, and is met with cheers of support.

At the end, blankets can be seen hanging from the ceiling, indicating other screens have been covered through the cabin.

The video, shot on a mobile phone, emerged through The Yeshiva World , but there is speculation about whether it was a private jet or a commercial flight.

It isn't clear where the flight was going from or to, or when the video was taken. One person suggested it had been chartered privately to take the group on a pilgrimage, but one person in the clip doesn't appear to be a Hasidic Jew .

The clip has sparked a debate online, with some taking the side of the Jewish group but others angry that they chose to cover up the screen without considering if someone wanted to watch the film.

Many have just agreed that no one would want to watch Music and Lyrics.

One person asked: "I dont think there is anything wrong with what they did. It very clearly seems to be a chartered flight, and as long as it isnt affecting other potential viewers, why shouldnt they be able to cover it?"

Another said: "I support the religious freedom of people up and until it infringes on the freedom of others."

On Facebook, one questioned: "Was the movie that bad? They obviously covered it half way through."

One person simply said: "I wish someone would cover my screen when I fly."

Some strict followers of Judaism will choose not to watch films, because it is seen as a waste of several hours, and because of the risk of unsuitable content.

Music and Lyrics is a 2007 film with Hugh Grant and Ms Barrymore, which received mixed reviews, and has 6.5 out of 10 on IMDB.

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