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The Conversation – Indonesia (via the Good Men Project) featured Dyson Professor Adam Klein’s column "How To Fight Holocaust Denial in Social…

Posted By on January 22, 2021

News Item The Conversation - Indonesia (via the Good Men Project) featured Dyson Professor Adam Kleins column "How To Fight Holocaust Denial in Social Media With the Evidence of What Really Happened" 01/21/2021

The Conversation - Indonesia (via the Good Men Project) featured Dyson Professor Adam Kleins column "How To Fight Holocaust Denial in Social Media With the Evidence of What Really Happened"

One in four American millennials believe the Holocaust was exaggerated or entirely made up, according to a recent national survey that sought to find out what young adults know about the genocide of nearly 6 million Jews at the hands of Nazis some 80 years ago.

That startling statistic was cited as one of the main reasons that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided in October to finally ban Holocaust denial across the social network. Denying the Holocaust ever happened is an enduring form of anti-Semitic propaganda that attempts to deny or minimize the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews during World War II.

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The Conversation - Indonesia (via the Good Men Project) featured Dyson Professor Adam Klein's column "How To Fight Holocaust Denial in Social...

AJC, FBI Meet to Discuss Efforts to Combat Antisemitism in the US – PRNewswire

Posted By on January 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Senior American Jewish Committee (AJC) experts on antisemitism briefed FBI executives on the continuing threats antisemitism poses to Jews and American society.

"Antisemitism fundamentally is not only a Jewish problem; it is a societal one. It is a reflection on the declining health of our society," Holly Huffnagle, AJC's U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism, told the FBI officials on a video conference briefing. "Education is essential, to clarify what constitutes antisemitism, the various sources of this hatred, and what effective tools are available for law enforcement to fight antisemitism."

The January 14 briefing was the second AJC provided since the organization issued its first State of Antisemitism in America 2020 report in October 2019. Alan Ronkin, Director of AJC's Washington, DC Region, and Avi Mayer, AJC's Managing Director of Global Communications, also addressed the FBI officials. The earlier briefing occurred at FBI headquarters in person in December 2019.

The presentation of AJC's second annual report on antisemitism in the U.S. took place in the wake of the January 6 assault on Capitol Hill, where antisemitic images and threats were openly conveyed by some of the rioters.

AJC's 2020 report, based on parallel surveys of the American Jewish and general populations, revealed that 88% of Jews considered antisemitism a problem today in the U.S., 37% had personally been victims of antisemitism over the past five years and 31% had taken measures to conceal their Jewishness in public.

In the first-ever survey of the general U.S. population on antisemitism, AJC found a stunning lack of awareness of antisemitism. Nearly half of all Americans said they had either never heard the term "antisemitism" (21%) or are familiar with the word but not sure what it means (25%).

During the hourlong videoconference conversation, FBI officials requested copies of AJC's Translate Hate publication for distribution to agents in order to enhance their understanding of antisemitism. Translate Hate is an innovative digital resource aimed at enabling Americans of all backgrounds to recognize and expose antisemitic language and images and recommends actions to take against hate speech.

The AJC experts complimented the FBI for its annual Hate Crimes Statistics report, which provides vital data on antisemitism. The latest report found 60.2% of religious bias hate crimes targeted Jews in 2019. But the report historically has not provided a full picture of the extent of hate crimes, since reporting by local law enforcement agencies is not mandatory.

To improve the monitoring and reporting of hate crimes, AJC continues to advocate for passage of Jabara-Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assaults, and Threats to Equality (NO HATE) Act. This measure will incentivize state and local law enforcement authorities to improve hate crime reporting by making grants available, to be managed through the Department of Justice.

In addition, AJC is asking the FBI to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as an educational tool. The definition offers a clear and comprehensive description of antisemitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial, and antisemitism as it can relate to Israel.

FBI officials in the Bureau's Civil Rights Unit, Intelligence Division, and Community Outreach Program, among others, participated in the AJC briefing.

"The FBI is the primary federal agency responsible for investigating allegations regarding violations of federal civil rights statutes," said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) James A. Dawson."At the FBI Washington Field Office, our civil rights and community outreach programs work closely with our partners to prevent and address hate crimes and uphold the civil rights of all individuals in the communities we serve."

"The FBI has also established productive and meaningful liaison relationships with state and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and community and minority groups to improve reporting of civil rights violations, promote the benefits of sharing information and intelligence, and develop proactive strategies for identifying and addressing trends in this field," Dawson added.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee

http://www.ajc.org

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AJC, FBI Meet to Discuss Efforts to Combat Antisemitism in the US - PRNewswire

WJC and ADL Call on Tech Companies to Enforce Policies Banning Antisemitic and Hate Products – YubaNet

Posted By on January 22, 2021

New York, NY In the wake of the violent Jan. 6 assault on Capitol Hill where numerous extremists were captured on video wearing antisemitic sweatshirts and displaying other hateful items available from online retailers, ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) today called on all companies that operate online marketplaces to strengthen and better enforce policies banning any product that promotes or glorifies white supremacy, racism, Holocaust denial or trivialization, or any other type of hatred or violence.

While online retailers have done an admirable job of increasing economic opportunities for small businesses, many have failed at ensuring their platforms are not being exploited by extremists through merchandise that glorifies violence, conspiracy myths such as QAnon, antisemitic canards and other xenophobic and hateful views, said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. Online marketplaces have failed miserably at providing proactive oversight of the products that third-party sellers sell on their platforms. There can be no excuse for anyone to profiteer from merchandise that advocates the killing of Jews or any other group, or that mocks the Holocaust.

Added Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, While companies have taken some steps since the violence last week, they must do more and eradicate this problem. Online retailers have profited directly from the sale of these items, and have indirectly facilitated the spread of hateful ideologies, allowing extremists to proudly express their racist, sexist and antisemitic views.

Said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Todays joint statement by the World Jewish Congress and ADL makes clear that online retailers have a responsibility to more aggressively find and remove hateful products and items that support hateful movements. Without aggressive, sustained and proactive enforcement of such policies, hateful movements and organizations will continue to market their toxic ideologies, and extremists will continue to have opportunities in the digital marketplace to profit from their deplorable views and increase the risk of violence.

Hateful merchandise was on full display during the siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in Washington, D.C. Supporters of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, wearing Q apparel and waving Q flags, were easy to spot, as were anti-government followers of the three percenters (III%ers) and the Oath Keepers. At least one protestor wore a sweatshirt with the slogan Camp Auschwitz work brings freedom.Some of the appalling apparel adorned by the rioters is still available for purchase on platforms including eBay. And copies of the shirts spotted during the riot were available mere hours later on online stores that are not operated by large companies like Amazon, but rather smaller retailers like Teehands, ChampionsTee, and QuatinaShirt.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.

ADL is the worlds leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADLs ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. http://www.adl.org

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WJC and ADL Call on Tech Companies to Enforce Policies Banning Antisemitic and Hate Products - YubaNet

‘The White Voice, Experience, and Interest Dominate Education’ (Opinion) – Education Week

Posted By on January 22, 2021

(This is the final post in a three-part series. You can see Part One here and Part Two here.)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What books and articles should white educators read about race and racism?

In Part One, Tameka Porter, Ph.D., Dr. Denita Harris, Keisha Rembert, and Sara Boeck Batista offered their recommendations. Dr. Porter, Dr. Harris, and Keisha were guests on my 10-minute BAM! Radio Show. You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.

In Part Two, Shannon Jones, Shaeley Santiago, Emily Golightly, and Timothy Hilton shared their suggestions.

Today, Jennifer Hitchcock, Donna L. Shrum, Sarah Cooper, and Kiera Beddes wrap up this series.

Jennifer Hitchcock co-leads a committee on Equity and Culturally Responsive Teaching at her school. She teaches AP Government for the Fairfax County public schools:

I presume if you are reading this, there is something about race, racism, and education that drove you to this discussion. Maybe your school decided to engage race and education, perhaps you are here on your own accord. Either way, welcome. My white voice is going to speak to my white peers in education. I welcome IBPOCIndigenous, Black, People of Coloreducational professionals to stick around and engage in the conversation, as your voice and experience is critical, respected, and valued.

The white voice, experience, and interest dominate education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2017-18 school year, public school educators were 79 percent white and overwhelmingly female. Of course, when we look at this school by school, things get tricky. The overwhelming majority of Americas Black and Latinx students attend schools where the population of IBPOC students is over 90 percent. This reality is intentional. (See Richard Rothsteins The Color of Law).

We are no more than 60-ish years outside of American segregation and discrimination. As a white woman in my mid-forties, that means that my parents grew up in segregated schools. I am one generation removed. My children are two generations removed. That reality should get more play in our conversations. You know, old habits die hard. Education very much lies within the realities of race in America, and we should shed light on this via dialogue and action.

One caveat. Remember that each person is a collection of identities, and when layered with personal experiences and beliefs, we have a better understanding of our students and peers as unique individuals. For more on this, check out Kimberl Crenshaws seminal work in intersectionality (See Critical Race Theory, Edited by Kimberl Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, and Gary Peller). I appreciate the work of Dr. Sharroky Hollie and his book on Strategies for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning (2015) in validating and affirming the intersection of identities as we build bridges toward equitable classrooms.

Where do we start this journey of understanding how our race mingles with our identities as loving, caring educators? Here is a good place to start.

There are so many more books to read than this. I highly encourage a continuation of your education in race beyond these four must-reads. There are also so many resources to help guide you to your next read, discussion, and action. I love the work of Valerie Brown, Cornelius Minor, Paul Gorski, Gholdy Muhammad, Zaretta Hammond, Lisa Delpit, Amber Coleman-Mortley, Donna Ford, bell hooks, and Dena Simmons. Here are some places for you to continue your own education:

Final thoughts? This journey is personal. I find that I confront uncomfortable truths about myself and how I relate to my students and community. I take to journaling and dialogue with trusted friends who are willing to hear my reflections in private discussions. I need to do this so that I can intentionalize equitable impacts and effects of educational practices in my classroom, school, and community without making it about myself. I remember that I love my students, each one, as they are. I have to put them first in this work. That means my time to process, reflect, and plan happens continuously and external to my role as an educator. And it is worth it. Acts of love always are.

After teaching English for over 20 years, Donna L. Shrum is now teaching ancient history to freshmen in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She remains active in the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project and freelance writing for education and history magazines:

A white educator can start understanding race and racism with 2017s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. Serendipitously, its publication coincided with the aftermath of the last presidential election. Isenberg examines the historical evolution of not only racism but xenophobia against all outsiders. She explains why anger at inequalities have festered and exploded among the lower white classes.

Much of that anger has been directed toward Blacks in particular who before 1865 had been the default bottom class. As they began to gain civil rights, they were easy targets. The whole time I read Isenbergs book, I remembered Gene Hackmans character in Mississippi Burning (an excellent movie about the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers). Explaining why his father had killed the mule of his black neighbor, Hackmans character says, He looked at me and said, If you aint better than a , son, who are you better than? . . . My old man was just so full of hate that he didnt know that bein poor was what was killin him.

White educators should also learn about the Reconstruction era following the Civil War to realize that the Civil War never ended but entered a new phase in which Blacks were returned to subjugation. Reconstruction is woefully underrepresented in history teaching standards, leaving most Americans unaware of its significance. One of the compromises that ended official Reconstruction in the South was the disputed election of 1876, a presidential race that remained an anomaly until 2000. No book or article dominates the topic, which still deserves more honest scholarship, but a search can provide a general history, such as those by Eric Foner. Ideally, those interested in the topic should turn to online newspaper archives to read firsthand about the events from 1865 to at least 1877. The Zinn Education Project offers an introductory essay, When Black Lives Mattered: Why Teach Reconstruction, followed by excellent lesson plans on the topic.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Its an incredible timeline of institutionalized racism embedded in our penal system. I read it when it was first released, and, when I shared some of the shocking stories, others would shake their heads and say it wasnt possible they could be true. Since the events of the summer of 2020, the book has returned to the bestseller lists, and the head-shaking has lessened.

The 2017 movie Denial portrays the fight of Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, in British courts to prove the reality of the Holocaust against the charges of a Holocaust denier. Her most recent publication, Antisemitism: Here and Now, sounds a warning that persecution against the Jews didnt end with the defeat of the Nazis, as many assume, but is alive and well and growing.

Racism in Indian Country by Dean Chavers unfolds the systemic racism directed against Native Americans. Each chapter details a different aspect of life and how it has been corroded by racism. The First Americans history is unique in that they populated the continent well before whites arrived, and the preferred method of their repression was open murder or forced assimilation. The chapter Stereotypes of Indians would be an excellent selection for students before reading newspaper articles or non-Native writings that feature Indians.

Sarah Cooper teaches 8th grade U.S. history and is assistant head for academic life at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Canada, Calif. Sarah is the author of Making History Mine: Meaningful Connections for Grades 5-9 (Stenhouse, 2009) and Creating Citizens: Teaching Civics and Current Events in the History Classroom, Grades 6-9 (Routledge, 2017). Find all of Sarahs writing at her website:

As a white Jewish educator, I feel Im always on the journey to understanding more about race and racism. I dont expect ever to arrive but rather to keep searching for understanding. The following three books have deepened this search immeasurably in recent years. And Im always open to learning more! Please get in touch with any suggestions.

Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom by Matthew Kay. This book shook up how I taught. Matthew Kay urges us to create a dialogic classroom and to focus on the contributions rather than simply the oppression of historically marginalized groups. When I reviewed the book for MiddleWeb, I acknowledged, that, as a history teacher, I need to nurture an always developing understanding of questions about race, not a single shock and awe moment that leaves students without emotional or historical context.

White Fragility: Why Its So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. If you think you are a totally enlightened white educator, this book may give you heart or call you out, sometimes on the same page. DiAngelo makes a compelling case that racist actions are not overt but often inadvertent, especially when people think they are trying not to be racist. As DiAngelo points out: If I believe that only bad people are racist, I will feel hurt, offended, and shamed when an unaware racist assumption of mine is pointed out. If I instead believe that having racist assumptions is inevitable (but possible to change), I will feel gratitude when an unaware racist assumption is pointed out; now I am aware of and can change that assumption. Ultimately, none of us has arrived. Instead, we should focus on engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual anti-racist practice.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele. Im embarrassed to admit how long it took me to read this book, even after multiple recommendations. Until I picked it up, I didnt realize that Whistling Vivaldi would completely internalize for me the concept of implicit bias. By citing study after study, Stanford psychology professor Claude M. Steele shows that stereotype threat is real and can have immediately damaging effects on performance for those who feel even temporarily stereotyped. To counteract these negative effects, Steele suggests establishing trust through demanding but supportive relationships, fostering hopeful narratives about belonging in the setting, arranging informal cross-group conversations to reveal that ones identity is not the sole cause of ones negative experiences in the setting, representing critical abilities as learnable, and using child-centered teaching techniques.

Kiera Beddes has been a high school ELA teacher in Utah for eight years. She is currently a member of the Utah Teacher Fellows and is passionate about social science, literature, and technology in education:

It is easy to feel helpless in the face of systemic violence and institutionalized racism. It is easy, when you are white, to ignore it because it doesnt directly affect you. But we need to do better, to look deeper, and act more. I teach racial and social-justice issues in my class sometimes but I can, should, and will do more. I have to.

I live and work in the heart of Salt Lake City. Compared with the rest of the nation, Utah is very conservative, mostly white, with a predominant Christian culture. My high school is very similar to Utah as a whole. The student population is mostly white, mostly Mormon, and while the socioeconomic status can vary widely, most are solidly upper-middle class.

When considering the question, what books and articles should white educators read about race and racism, I thought of my classroom and my own experience. I grew up in a very similar environment as the students that I teach. What do I have to say about race and racism, when I myself havent had to deal with it personally?

That is why I turn to good books. For one, its important to feature authors of color writing about their own lived experience, and two, its important to talk about these books in class so that my students, who also have most likely not had to deal with racism personally, can begin to understand this issue and the larger implications for our society. This is by no means a complete list, but these are some books that Ive found a lot of meaning and understanding from.

First, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a powerful story about gun violence, racism, and dealing with consequences of both. I love this book for several reasons. The protagonist is a teenager, which is a great access point for my students, and the book is told in narrative verse. Especially when considering my reluctant readers, this is a gripping story using a different format from what they might be used to.

Second, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is an unflinching account of one mans experience of growing up Black in America. It has been really interesting using this book to teach teenagers because they already struggle with identifying with a perspective other than their own. Add to that a perspective that is from a different race? Our conversations have been really fascinating. I love all the different informational texts I can tie to the book. Coates mentions hundreds of names throughout the book, from victims of racial violence to African American leaders and thinkers. This is a treasure trove of information to dive into with my students, to go beyond the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks.

Lastly, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, an autobiographical story of growing up under apartheid in South Africa. I listened to this one most recently at the recommendation of a colleague. This is one thing that I value with reading, the ability to experience radically different lives. Trevor Noah grew up having a completely different experience from what I could ever imagine. I found it a fascinating read, and there were several moments where I had to stop and reconsider my entire worldview.

As I said, this isnt an exhaustive list, but it is a practical one. Ive used two-thirds in my own classroom and I want to include more. The only way we can address racial inequalities in our society is to approach them directly by learning from people and their own experience. The more we can talk about these problems openly and honestly means that as a society, we can start addressing these problems and actually start looking for solutions.

Thanks to Jennifer, Donna, Sarah, and Kiera for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if its selected or if youd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. Its titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email (The RSS feed for this blog, and for all Ed Week articles, has been changed by the new redesign - new ones wont be available until late January). And if you missed any of the highlights from the first nine years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

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'The White Voice, Experience, and Interest Dominate Education' (Opinion) - Education Week

One-man Holocaust play goes online to teach a new generation – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on January 22, 2021

Roger Grunwald was on a roll. For years, he had been touring the globe with his Holocaust-themed, one-man, multiple-character play, performing it at synagogues throughout North America, Israel and the U.K. and at universities such as Oxford, Penn State and Ben-Gurion.

But right when he was all set to take the expanded versionof that play on a major 2020 tour, the pandemic hit and Grunwald had to quickly rethink his career strategy.

The gist of his new plan? Goodbye live theater, hello Zoom.

For several months, the San Francisco native has been offering a program called The Mitzvah Project to high schools. This new online version includes a filmed version of his one-man play, The Mitzvah, as a jumping-off point to teach teens about the Holocaust. Hell be presenting the project to schools in Marin, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties at various dates in January and February, scheduled around International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27.

So far the response has been very strong from educators and students, said the experienced actor-playwright, who had a role a few years ago in the pilot episode of Vinyl on HBO, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. Yes, they get a visceral experience [when The Mitzvah is performed live] that they might not get in the same way seeing the video. But from the response, they seem to be impacted.

Nancy Grabow, the German-language teacher at Walnut Creeks Northgate High School, hopes students at her school will be among them. Grunwald will present The Mitzvah Project to her students, along with drama and European history students, on Feb.3.

I jumped at the chance, she said of Grunwalds presentation. We have to learn from history or were going to make the same mistakes.

The son of an Auschwitz survivor, Grunwald co-wrote the play with Annie McGreevy. It tells the fictional story of a Nazi military officer who had a Jewish mother (yes, Hitler did allow some mischlings the offspring of a Jewish and an Aryan parent into the Wehrmacht) and a Jewish concentration camp prisoner, and how fate brought them together. There is also a Groucho Marx-like character, who serves as a sideline commentator on the events. Grunwald performs all the roles, switching seamlessly from one character to another.

The play (in-person or online) is almost always followed by a lecture and Q&A session, aka The Mitzvah Project.

Woven throughout are words such as mitzvah and other details that not every teenager of today is going to understand.

Grunwald tackled that problem by creating a study guide that is given to students ahead of time. It presents an overview of the Holocaust, who the Nazis were, what Auschwitz was and how genocide was effected under Hitler.

I have to accept the fact that there are young people for whom this goes right over their heads, he said of the complex subject matter. But there is some value in seeing something they hadnt been exposed to before. Out of 100 students, if there are 20 who get a significant experience or even one Ive accomplished something.

Born in San Francisco and a 1969 graduate of Lick-Wilmerding High School in the city, Grunwald grew up hearing his mothers stories of her girlhood in Frankfurt, the rise of Hitler and her deportation to Auschwitz, where she clung to life for two years before liberation. In later years, his mother was active in Holocaust education, doing her part to make sure something like that never happened again.

Meanwhile, after graduating from UC Berkeley, Grunwald had moved to New York to launch his acting career and to do community organizing on the side, especially on behalf of New York Citys most vulnerable populations. He went on to become a theater, film, TV and voice actor, and has appeared in more than 70 stage productions in the United States and Europe, according to his website.

After reading Bryan Mark Riggs 2002 book Hitlers Jewish Soldiers, which recounts the little-known history of Germans with partial Jewish ancestry serving in the Nazi army, he had found a topic for a play. And if the matter seemed urgent then, perhaps its even more so now, with at least one recent study showing that two-thirds of millennials do not know what Auschwitz was.

In light of the Jan. 6 right-wing insurgence at the Capitol, Grunwald sees the lessons of the Holocaust as more urgent than ever. With blatant hatred of Jews on display among some in the pro-Trump mob, and the use of plenty of white-supremacist symbols (such as the Confederate flag), the siege, some would say attempted coup, was a warning that the hatred that fueled the Holocaust is still alive.

The message of the play is there is no other, he said. The other is us. Lying never was more widespread, shameless, systematic and constant than it is today. Lies dont even need to be plausible to work. Its part and parcel of the Eurocentric big lie that brought about Holocaust denial and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Our democracy, for all its robustness in 200-plus years of existence, isnt invulnerable, as we have just seen.

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One-man Holocaust play goes online to teach a new generation - The Jewish News of Northern California

How should we remember the Holocaust? – New Statesman

Posted By on January 22, 2021

As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army in 1945 we might spare a thought for the unsung David Morgan. He is the planning inspector whose task it is to make a recommendation to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on a proposal to create a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre located in the Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament. The proposal, originally made in 2015 by David Cameron, is supported by a range of eminent figures including other former prime ministers and more than 170 MPs and members of the House of Lords.

But in February 2020 Westminster City Councils planning committee rejected the application, saying it contravened planning rules on size, design and location. Objections to the proposal had come from a number of groups including Historic England, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the London Gardens Trust, and the Royal Parks (to which Victoria Tower Gardens belong). Important archaeological remains would be obliterated by the excavations, it was said; there was a danger of flooding; trees would be destroyed; and the park, which forms part of a World Heritage Site, would be irreparably compromised.

The government now has taken the matter out of Westminster City Councils hands. Jenrick insisted that the government remains implacably committed to the construction of the Holocaust Memorial and education centre right at the heart of our democracy, beside our national parliament, to ensure that future generations never forget. A public enquiry into the decision opened on 6 October 2020 with Morgan in the chair. By the time it closed, on 13 November, 678 public comments had been received objecting to the memorial plan and 36 had been lodged in support. The volume of documentation publicly available online is immense. If Morgan completes his report, as promised, by the end of April, he will have mastered a truly Herculean task.

Why all the fuss? Surely no one could object to the idea of a national Holocaust memorial, particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world? Throwing his wholehearted support behind the proposal, Keir Starmer, no doubt worried about alienating the Jewish community, said: It is vital for our nation that we commemorate the six million Jewish men, woman and children murdered during the Holocaust. It is more important than ever that we educate current and future generations of the horrors of genocide and persecution. Who could possibly quarrel with this? Why then, is the proposal finding it so hard to secure approval?

Nobody, apart from anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis, could object to the idea of commemorating the Holocaust and its victims, and ensuring that future generations are made aware of historys greatest and most terrible crime. A string of witnesses appeared before the enquiry to present this justification for the idea of a national memorial. Yet despite all this, there are good reasons why objections to the proposal far outnumber endorsements.

The location of the proposed memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens is problematic, and not just because of the damage it will cause. The gardens are a much-loved oasis of quiet in one of the busiest parts of London. The proposal will remove over a quarter of one of Londons rare green spaces. The memorial itself will impede vistas onto the Houses of Parliament. It will dominate the other memorials on the site, including a fountain created by Charles Buxton in the mid-1860s to celebrate the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833]and moved to the gardens in 1957; RodinsThe Burghers of Calais, erected in 1911 to commemorate the civic virtue of six leading citizens of Calais who, in 1347, offered themselves to besiegers led by King Edward III, if he spared the rest of the citizens; and a memorial to Emmeline Pankhurst unveiled in 1930, with later additions, celebrating the victorious struggle for votes for women.

[see also:Defining genocide]

A group of 42 academics led by Dr Hannah Holtschneider, who teaches contemporary Jewish Studies at Edinburgh University, warned the enquiry that Victoria Gardens is a small space and the intended UK Holocaust Memorial would overpower all the existing statues and memorials there. They noted that in July 2005 the proposed Memorial 2007 by the Windrush Foundation for a smaller monument to commemorate the victims of slavery was denied by the Royal Parks on the basis that there was not enough space for any further memorials in Victoria Gardens. David Adjaye, the architect leading the Holocaust Memorials design team, has not endeared himself to opponents of the project by saying that disrupting the pleasure of being in a park is key to the thinking behind his proposal.

The memorial will consist of 23 bronze fins, with the gaps between the fins representing the 22 countries where the Holocaust destroyed Jewish communities. These aisles act as separate paths down to a hall named the Threshold leading into an underground learning centre, along with a contemplation court and hall of testimonies.

Why 22 countries? It depends on how you count them, but the figure is entirely arbitrary. From a historical point of view, it is important to count countries that existed in the 1940s separately because the processes and conditions of the Holocaust differed between them: thus it would make more sense to count as one country the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and Slovakia as another where a puppet regime pursued its own anti-Semitic agendas. Similarly, the dynamics of the Holocaust differed between Serbia and Croatia, so it makes sense to treat them separately rather than subsume them into their previous existence as parts of the state of Yugoslavia. But we could also count countries as they exist today and not in the 1940s. Thus we could count separately deaths in present-day Belarus, Ukraine and Russia rather than merge them into the Soviet Union, though that would run the risk of implying that these modern-day states were in some way historically responsible for the Holocaust.

In any case it is inappropriate simply to count states whose Jewish communities were annihilated: a significant proportion of victims were foreign Jews, in most cases refugees, who were often the first to be handed over to the Nazis, as in Bulgaria, or Hungary, or France, precisely because they were foreigners.

Apart from these rather recondite problems there is also the more fundamental objection that the design itself is spectacularly ugly. Baroness Ruth Deech, one of the Jewish communitys leading objectors to the proposal, has compared it to a giant toast-rack. Lord Carlile, former independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws, said that the site would be an obvious target for terrorist attacks. He reminded the enquiry that he had lost several relatives in the Holocaust. Having a site which combines the Houses of Parliament and the new British Holocaust memorial seems to me to be asking for trouble. Jenrick has reported that he and his family had received death threats from right-wing extremists because of his support for the memorial. Physical attacks on the memorial would be unavoidable. Others have suggested it would be a target for souvenir-hunters, and graffiti artists: the Buxton fountain was already vandalised and parts broken off some decades ago.

Would a memorial really help combat Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism? As Baroness Deech noted, anti-Semitism has been increasing in countries such as France and the US, and has not been prevented by the existence of Holocaust memorials and museums there. There are already a number of Holocaust memorials in Britain, including two in London. The UKs first Holocaust memorial, established in Hyde Park in 1983, is a garden of boulders surrounded by white-stemmed birch trees. There is also a statue in Liverpool Street Station commemorating the Jewish children saved from death by being brought to the UK from Nazi-dominated central Europe in theKindertransportscheme. These are fine monuments, but they have not prevented the rise in anti-Semitism in this country either.

Perhaps the proposed memorials underground learning centre would help. But this too is problematic. There already exist such institutions that are larger and better than anything the Westminster memorial could offer. Better than any learning centre is the Imperial War Museums Holocaust Exhibition, which attracts some 600,000 visitors in a normal year. It is linked to the museums significant archival collections, which make it an important location for research on the Second World War and theHolocaust.

The proposed memorial in Westminster would be an unnecessary duplication of the museums offerings. It would be on a smaller scale, and so less comprehensive and less effective, and would divert attention from the Imperial War Museums more important collections and displays. A significant expansion of the museums Holocaust Exhibition is under way and will soon be opened. In fact, the Imperial War Museum, located less than a mile away from the Palace of Westminster, is already the national Holocaust memorial centre and it remains the premier location for a comprehensive and scholarly coverage in the UK of this most tragic episode in human history.

There are other major research and learning institutions too, including the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in Huddersfield, and in London the Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and genocide. Compared to the vast collections of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the internationally important research centre associated with it, the Westminster memorial would only be an embarrassment for Britain if it laid claim to be the national institution of learning and research on the Holocaust.

The implication that a new memorial is needed because more research on the Holocaust is needed is also misleading. Britain, with its universities and its research institutions, is, along with Germany, the US and Israel, the worlds leading country for Holocaust research. Two excellent examples are the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the research centred around the Parkes Library in Southampton. To suggest that recent and current Holocaust-related learning and research in the UK are inadequate or even non-existent does British scholarship and teaching in the field a grave disservice.

***

The designers of the Westminster project, if not all of its supporters, are aware that it cannot compete with these other research institutions, so they have proposed that it should focus not on the Holocaust itself, but on British reactions to the persecution and murder of European Jews. But this too is problematic. The location of the proposed memorial next to the Houses of Parliament has been justified on the grounds that it symbolises the importance of British values and parliamentary democracy as a bulwark against genocide. In 2016 David Cameron declared that the memorial was to stand beside parliament as a permanent statement of our values as a nation.

This amounts to the political instrumentalisation of the Holocaust. Baroness Deech has warned the enquiry that a Holocaust memorial might suggest that it was not our fault. In statements about the design and location of the learning centre, she has said, there has been increased emphasis on the promulgation of British values, and anti-extremism and faith as the foundation of those values, to the extent that the project now appears to be a monument to those values rather than remembering the Holocaust itself.

But these arent British values, they are universal values. The signatories of Holtschneiders letter, who include some of Britains leading historians of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Britains responses to the Nazi persecution of the Jews such as Tony Kushner, Donald Bloxham, Tim Cole, David Feldman, Mark Levene, Louise London and Bob Moore have told the enquiry that placing the Holocaust Memorial next to parliament was likely to create a celebratory narrative of the British governments responses to the Jewish catastrophe during the Nazi era and beyond. Situating it so close to parliament is almost certain to add to the mythology of Britain alone as the ultimate saviour of the Jews, which negates several decades of careful scholarship and research.

Their concerns were supported by Raphael Wallfisch, a leading international concert cellist whose mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, also a professional cellist, was forced by the SS as a teenager to play in the infamous womens orchestra at Auschwitz. The proposed British Values Learning Centre, to be symbolically positioned at the heart of Westminster, he told the enquiry, must reflect, clearly and truthfully, the complete and unvarnished truth of Britains role before, during and after the Jewish Holocaust If, as I hope sincerely, planning is refused for the learning centre at this site, it might allow for additional time for the search for a more generous space which would enable a thorough and dedicated study of the history and present state of anti-Semitism in the UK and worldwide.

[see also:Why Trump isnt a fascist]

That study, Professor Geoffrey Alderman, a leading Jewish academic and commentator on Jewish affairs, pointed out, must include difficult topics such as the restrictions on immigration to Palestine imposed by the British government in the 1930s and 1940s. With parliamentary approval, he declared pointedly, the least possible number of Jews was permitted to enter the UK. The proposal for a monument in Westminster, he added, had sparked widespread incredulity, embarrassment, and cynicism in the Anglo-Jewish community.

One could add that the British governments acceptance of theAnschlussof Austria and its brokering of the Munich Agreement in 1938 in the name of appeasing Hitler brought hundreds of thousands of Jews under Nazi rule, with terrible consequences for them all. Anti-Semitism was widespread in the higher ranks of the British civil service, a disturbing fact brought to public attention by the historian Martin GilbertsAuschwitz and the Allies(1981), which found that the civil service played a significant part in dissuading the Allies from taking action against the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp when it was well within the range of British bombers.

The UK Holocaust Memorial needs a fundamental rethink. Whether it is located at the Imperial War Museum (an excellent institution whose title is, however, long overdue for revision) or somewhere else, it has to find a more appropriate place. As for Victoria Square Gardens, there is room for one more memorial at least, perhaps next to the Buxton memorial commemorating the Abolition Act of 1833.

In 2008 Boris Johnson, as mayor of London, enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a permanent memorial to the millions who lost their lives in Britains transatlantic slave trade and sugar plantations in the West Indies in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. That trade was maintained by numerous British companies, who fought hard to prevent abolition, as recounted in the historian Michael Taylors bookThe Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery(2020).

Unaccountably, however, the present UK government has been unable to find the funds to construct such a slavery memorial.

Richard J Evanss new book is The Hitler Conspiracies: The Third Reich and the Paranoid Imagination (Allen Lane).

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How should we remember the Holocaust? - New Statesman

Verimatrix launches enhanced Application Protection service for Android – Help Net Security – Help Net Security

Posted By on January 22, 2021

Verimatrix announced general availability of version 2.2 of the Verimatrix Application Protection service for Android.

The companys latest Code Protection service for Android applications now supports the forthcoming Android ecosystem change that will mandate the use of Android Application Bundles (AABs) in the second half of 2021.

A significant shift for developers, the upcoming AAB mandate creates a need for simple, reliable software security that prevents app attacks. In addition to traditional APKs, the Verimatrix Application Protection service now also supports AABs defined by Google Plays publishing guidelines.

Other new features and in enhancements in Verimatrix Application Protection service for Android include:

As a leading innovator in code protection technologies, Verimatrix is committed to supporting the latest mobile app ecosystems, said Asaf Ashkenazi, Chief Operating Officer at Verimatrix.

Developers depend on Verimatrix to take into account the latest requirements such as Google Plays upcoming AAB mandate. Were pleased to announce this release of Application Protection Tool for Android as it underscores our uniquely proactive approach to providing as much value to our customers as possible while continually arming them with award-winning software security.

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Verimatrix launches enhanced Application Protection service for Android - Help Net Security - Help Net Security

Why are people fighting the IHRA definition of antisemitism? – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 22, 2021

When is it antisemitic to criticize Israel?

antisemitism signifies hatred of Jews and the ways that hatred is perpetuated through age-old conspiracy theories and their modern variants. But what about when that hatred is expressed through rhetoric about the Jewish state? Is anti-Zionism antisemitism?

Establishment Jewish groups want Joe Bidens administration to treat some anti-Israel speech as antisemitism. Progressive Jewish groups disagree, worried about chilling or criminalizing legitimate criticism of Israeli policy.

It ranges from stereotypes about Jews to incitement of violence to Holocaust denial. A growing list of countries, international agencies, universities and sports teams have adopted the definition in an effort to help them recognize Jew-hatred.

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But its provisions on rhetoric around Israel have sparked contentious debate, which was heightened last year when President Donald Trump signed an executive order essentially adopting the working definition as a reference for adjudicating civil rights complaints on campus. This debate has continued even as the IHRA has emphasized that the definition is not legally binding.

Heres what the IHRA definition says, why its supporters see it as a key for fighting Jew-hatred and why its critics are fighting it.

The definition is an effort to describe an age-old hatred.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an international network of academics, museum heads and nonprofit leaders from 34 countries that promotes Holocaust research and education.

In 2016, facing rising antisemitism around the world, the alliance drafted a definition of antisemitism that was aimed at helping countries, institutions and organizations recognize when it was taking place, and monitor and record it. The IHRA definition was based on an earlier one formulated in 2005 by a European Union agency.

The later effort was prompted by a surge in antisemitic incidents in Western Europe, with attacks on Jewish targets including schools and synagogues, reads a pamphlet published by the American Jewish Committee advocating for the working definition. Governments were slow to recognize them, let alone respond to them.

The document aims to help countries do that and covers a range of different ways that hatred of Jews can manifest.

According to the definition, antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews, and that antisemitism could take physical or rhetorical form and be directed at Jews as well as non-Jews, in addition to property and institutions.

The document lists 11 ways that antisemitism could take shape. They include calling for Jews to be killed, advancing enduring Jewish stereotypes about conspiracy and control, blaming Jews as a group for the actions of individuals or various forms of denying the Holocaust.

Six of the 11 examples have to do principally with certain kinds of rhetoric around Israel. They include:

The definition says antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for why things go wrong.'

It is increasingly being seen as the guidebook for fighting antisemitism across the globe.

Since it was drafted, the working definition has gained currency in a growing number of nations and organizations. To date, 28 countries mostly in Europe have adopted the definition to help them determine what constitutes antisemitism.

In December, the Council of the European Union invited the blocs 27 member states to adopt the definition. Various other pan-European bodies have endorsed it as well, and in 2018 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the definition can can serve as a basis for law enforcement, as well as preventive policies.

Some nongovernmental institutions such as universities, soccer teams and, recently, an international Muslim clerical council have also adopted the definition as a way to identify antisemitism. Last year, 145 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations wrote a letter to Facebook encouraging the platform to use the definition as the cornerstone of Facebooks hate speech policy regarding antisemitism.

The U.S. State Department uses a similar definition of antisemitism, which it adopted in 2010. President George W. Bushs State Department had endorsed the definitions predecessor in 2007 as an adequate initial guide to antisemitism.

The Trump administration was even more reliant on the definition. Last year, an executive order by Trump instructed the Executive Branch to consider the IHRA definition, including its 11 examples, when investigating civil rights complaints including those filed to the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights regarding alleged discrimination on campus.

On Tuesday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a coalition of establishment Jewish groups, sent a letter to Biden asking him to adopt Trumps policy regarding the IHRA definition.

We believe that all federal departments and agencies should, in their work, consider the IHRA working definition of antisemitism (with examples), says the letter, which was sent on Jan. 12 and first reported by Jewish Insider. We urge your administration to maintain and build upon these policies of the last three presidents.

Critics, especially Palestinians and their advocates, say the IHRA definition inhibits free speech.

As adoption of the IHRA definition has spread, so have protests against it from coalitions of activists and academics.

The definitions opponents say its clauses on Israel will have a chilling effect on debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They worry that in condemning some forms of anti-Israel speech, the definition will serve to label all critics of Israel, or pro-Palestinian activists, as antisemites.

The effort to combat antisemitism is being misused and exploited to instead suppress legitimate free speech, criticism of Israeli government actions, and advocacy for Palestinian rights, reads a statement opposing adoption of the IHRA definition made Jan. 12 by a coalition of American Jewish organizations with progressive positions on Israel.

Palestinians have said that the Israel provisions, including the one that bans calling Israel racist, serve to make Israel immune to criticism for its treatment of Palestinians and for what they view as its violation of international law.

In 2018, British Jews slammed the countrys Labour Party for adopting the definition but initially refusing to include several of the Israel-related provisions. At the time, the party was embroiled in controversy over mounting allegations of antisemitism against its officials and particularly its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime harsh critic of Israel.

Defenders point to the definitions nuance on Israel and support for free speech.

The definitions advocates say the definition distinguishes between legitimate criticism of Israel and instances where rhetoric either crosses the line into antisemitism or uses critique of the Jewish state as a front for hatred of Jews.

The definition makes clear that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

The AJC pamphlet says the definition concerns itself only with where and how anti-Israel animus can become a form of antisemitism, separate and apart from criticism of Israel, and that its careful wording leaves a wide berth for sharp and vigorous criticism of Israels government and policies.

Whats more, the definition itself states that it is non-legally binding, and in introductions to the brochure, officials stress that point to argue that the definition should not be an obstacle to free speech.

Non-legally binding in its nature, the working definition is helpful in public discourse as well as training for media, educators and public authorities, without impeding the legal right to freedom of speech, writes Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism.

What was supposed to be a helpful guide has become a instrument of division.

The irony in all this is that the definition was supposed to help resolve debates over what constitutes antisemitism, not start them. But the definition has become divisive as activists have sought to give it the force of law something that, according to one of the definitions authors, was never supposed to happen.

Stern added that he fears right-wing pro-Israel groups will hunt political speech with which they disagree, and threaten to bring legal cases. Im worried administrators will now have a strong motivation to suppress, or at least condemn, political speech for fear of litigation.

Kushner, Trumps son-in-law, wrote that the definition makes clear that Anti-Zionism is antisemitism though the word Zionism does not appear in the definition itself. In employing the definition, he wrote, the executive order prevented students from harassing Jews under the guise of criticizing Israel.

It has become fashionable among Jew haters to characterize any discriminatory behavior no matter how loathsome not as criticism of Jews, but of Israel, he wrote. This is a lie. Especially on college campuses, where discrimination, harassment and intimidation of Jewish students has become commonplace and is routinely, but wrongly, justified.

All of this debate is now associated with the definition. Thats why the question of whether the U.S. should keep using it as its framework for identifying antisemitism has become one of the first open disputes among American Jews regarding the Biden administration.

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Why are people fighting the IHRA definition of antisemitism? - The Jerusalem Post

For the first time, a Jew of color will lead pathbreaking diversity group Be’chol Lashon – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Posted By on January 22, 2021

(JTA) As the videos of George Floyds killing galvanized a historic wave of racial justice protests this past summer, the staff of one of the countrys leading organizations promoting Jews of color knew they had to make a big change.

For two decades, Bechol Lashon had pioneered programming by and for Jews of color. Inspired by a Hanukkah gathering of diverse Jews in the San Francisco area in December 2000, it launched a summer camp for young Jews of color, a curriculum for children on the topic, a blog elevating the voices of multiracial Jews and a diversity training and consulting program.

But as the movement the group launched took hold, its leadership increasingly looked out of step. The group was founded by Diane Tobin and her late husband Gary, white parents who wanted their adopted Black child to know other Jews who were not white. They continued to helm the organization even as the number of groups representing Jews of color multiplied and Jews of color took leadership roles.

Diane Tobin, now 68, saw that Bechol Lashon wasnt leading national conversations about Jews of color anymore. So this summer, as the country reeled, she met with Marcella White Campbell, a longtime employee and Bechol Lashon camp parent who is Black, to talk about handing over the reins of the organization.

Campbell, a veteran of Silicon Valley, was announced as the groups new executive director last week, in a release timed to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We felt that it was time to build on what Diane had done up to this point. Bechol Lashon was all about creating community but also about amplifying the voices of Jews of color, amplifying the visibility of Jews of color, Campbell told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. And so it seemed natural to then move on to handing leadership to Jews of color and seeing what we could do.

Campbell takes over at a moment of intense reckoning over race and inclusion for America and American Jews. She talked to JTA about the historic moment, her journey to Judaism and the work that white Jews need to do to be truly welcoming to Jews of color.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

JTA: What a time to start the job that youre starting. What were you feeling as you watched the violence at the Capitol?

Campbell: I took it very personally, actually. Both the racism and the anti-Semitism, I react to those as we should, with revulsion, but for me theres something about that happening at the Capitol. Im a student of history I bore my children with it all the time. When we went to Washington, D.C, several years ago, I dragged them to the Lincoln Memorial and made them look out at the reflecting pool and read all the words of the Gettysburg Address, because I really want them to understand that America is theirs. And that forcing America to look at these words and apply these words to everyone is how we become citizens, is how we cement our place in America, in the American story. I kept saying that to them when we were out on the Washington Mall: This is yours, you need to understand that. America is yours in the same way that its everyone elses.

So something about that crowd overrunning the Capitol it felt like a violation. And for them to be bringing those symbols of hatred into that space that I tell the kids all the time is mine, and theyre bringing those symbols in specifically to lay claim to it and exclude us on multiple levels I found it really hurtful.

Do you feel any shred of hope that this could be a positive turning point in terms of the countrys reckoning with racism?

I suppose there are many people who over the past several years have been able to discount what was going on in our country, to discount racism and anti-Semitism somehow I guess because neither of those things really apply to them. But the starkness, the symbolism of seeing these people in the seat of government and the very real threat of violence, I suppose people who werent moved by the videos of George Floyd last year cant help but ignore this.

These people were very clear about their racism and their anti-Semitism and its impossible to ignore that this is the reality for people of color and Jews and Jews of color in the United States every day. So as low as a point as that is, you cant help but go up from here, in some ways. I probably shouldnt say that [laughs]. If theres one thing Ive learned in the past year, its that you shouldnt make sweeping statements.

I was concerned after the past year that after the election, with Democrats coming back into power, that the real urgency that people were feeling last summer with reckoning with race both inside and outside the Jewish community was going to fade because there are so many problems. But I no longer feel that.

Tell me a bit about your family history, and how you ended up where you are now?

I love to lean into my family history because it very much exemplifies the various ways that Black people in America react to the American dream. My grandparents came to San Francisco from Arkansas in the early 40s. My grandfather had left Pine Bluff, Arkansas, because he was working for a construction company and was in a position of leadership as a foreman and realized he was making about 50 cents on the dollar as the white men he was working with and in some ways managing. And he went to his boss and pointed it out he always had a high opinion of himself, Im the best guy here, Im working harder than everyone else, I should at least be making as much as everyone else and the guy said no. And over the next couple of days his relatives said, You cant stay here.

He got on a bus and came out to San Francisco and he set up a narrative and a family that inspired all of us. He came and established what he called a dynasty. And excellence was paramount. Working as hard as you possibly could was paramount. He bought [a house] in Cole Valley, which even in the 50s was a very nice neighborhood, and one where they were the first Black family. When he was looking to buy a house, he basically saved every penny he ever made. Real estate agents steered him away from the neighborhood. He always said it was this white Jewish woman who basically was always getting the dregs of clients and assignments and was shut out most of the time who said, Ill take you over there, well go do this. And thats where my grandfather bought.

He just passed away on the 26th of December, were actually just finishing up shiva now, and his legacy its hard to overstate it for us. We came together in different venues to talk about him. He was not Jewish and his familys not Jewish; some of them are Baptists. So as the oldest grandchild I found myself in the position of simultaneously planning and running the cycle of Baptist and somewhat Christian mourning, without any explicit religious elements, and then turning around and starting the cycle of Jewish mourning. And part of the reason why were just in shiva now is because he was just buried after two weeks and my rabbi told me point blank: Jewish mourning doesnt start until burial. So we did both.

The funny thing about that is there was no real conflict. I chose Judaism 21 years ago, although I was pursuing conversion much earlier than that, and our family always embraced it. My sister also converted a few years after me and we have this sort of Black Jewish nucleus that we raised our kids in. My kids are 21 and 15 and my niece is 4 and theyve grown up in this Black Jewish community that I think is pretty unique.

I was inspired by [my grandfather] going into Silicon Valley startups in the early mid 2000s. I definitely had that experience of being the only [Black person in the room]. I definitely had to lean on that attitude of Youre lucky to have me in this room. [My grandfather] saw what I was doing, and what my sister was doing, as a lawyer, as an extension of that dream that he had.

Attendees at a Hanukkah party in 2000 in San Francisco that marked the launch of Bechol Lashon. (Courtesy of Bechon Lashon)

I realized once I started working for Bechol Lashon that I could really believe in this mission, that [my family] was living this mission. It feels like a privilege to work somewhere where Im actually making a difference in peoples lives but almost selfishly also the lives of my kids and my family at the same time. So its a very personal mission. I do feel that as a person of color I am uniquely positioned to make connections with other organizations headed by Jews of color and to see what kinds of coalitions we can build and where we can go with this.

How did you decide to convert to Judaism at a young age?

I wasnt raised particularly religious. There are Baptists in my family, there are Jehovahs Witnesses in my family but there was sort of one moment that really got me started. When I was 15 years old, I attended the confirmation of one of my friends who was Jewish. And in the middle of getting ready for the event, he had taken me to the synagogue and abandoned me in the sanctuary while he was running around doing other things. I had never been in a synagogue and I sort of wandered around and sat down, and I opened a prayer book and this is absolutely true it fell open to the Mourners Kaddish. And at the time, it was a few months after my grandmother who had helped to raise me had died. And we didnt have a religious tradition at home, and you know 15-year-olds, they hold themselves apart, they go hole themselves up in their room. How do you deal with grief when youre that age?

And I was really really moved by what I read. I saw the Hebrew and then the translation, and for me, even then, theres something about the way the Mourners Kaddish leans into the magnification, the sanctification of the word of God, instead of telling you, It is so sad that this person has died, we are so sad, heres what is going to happen to them next. Thats not in any way what it says. It just says, Look, were in the middle of the infinite, we dont know, but all we can do is lean into this and lean into the infinite. And I maybe didnt have that level of understanding of that at that time, but it touched me and I just said I want to be Jewish, just like that. I dragged my mom to a rabbi and the rabbi said, Please come back when you are an adult [laughs], heres some stuff to read, we are not doing this at 15. So I had to sort of wait it out.

Besides that, a really big part of discovering Judaism for me was food. In the middle of my conversion process, my daughter was a baby and I was creating a Jewish home for her, and its such a hands-on process. Raising Jewish children in a Jewish home, there are so many concrete things you do you light candles, you make bread, you share this meal once a week. And I just became really invested, by tasting Jewish foods, by sharing Jewish foods with my kids. I didnt know a lot about the Sephardic Jewish world thats a common thing that happens in America, where most people believe that Jewish people are essentially Jerry Seinfeld, live in New York, thats it. And having the experience of opening up Claudia Rodens Book of Jewish Food and to go to Morocco and go to Lebanon and just find out the wealth of Jewish experience, that was actually important for me as a person of color coming to Judaism, to realize before I even encountered Diane and Bechol Lashon the idea that Jewish people live all over the world.

Jews of color in the on-the-ground Jewish spaces, like synagogues or in family members homes for holidays, have long talked about the feeling of being other-ized, or being made to feel like they dont belong because they dont conform to the white Ashkenazi concept of the American Jew. As the wider Jewish community continues to listen to these narratives, the goal is that that experience changes what has your experience been like in these spaces, and do you feel its actually changing?

Im part of a small Reconstructionist synagogue, Or Shalom in San Francisco, and so were a pretty small organization. Jews of color and converts as a whole and this is not the synagogue where I converted you develop this bubble where you feel comfortable and everybody comes to know you and so youre just one of the people in the congregation, when youre worshipping and going to events. And whats really jarring is when you go outside that bubble you show up at a congregation where they dont know you and they assume that you arent Jewish. My husband is a white Ashkenazi Jew, with dark hair. He has never in his entire life gone into a Jewish congregation and not have people assume that he is Jewish. Not one time, around the world! [laughs] And I always say As long as Im on your arm its OK. Its sort of this umbrella of privilege that extends over me and people go, OK, shes with him. But by myself its not always and I have had some very negative experiences.

Weve been really heartened in the past year by how many organizations started contacting us. It was a phone-ringing-off-the-hook kind of thing last summer. The firehose has slowed down a little bit as we make connections with people, but it was just this groundswell realization in the Jewish world that something needs to be done and that it would be wonderful if we could do it from a Jewish perspective, talk about diversity from a Jewish perspective.

The recent Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock Senate victories in Georgia have been hailed as a milestone moment for Black-Jewish relations, especially after they each leaned into that narrative in their campaigns. Do you feel that ties between the two communities have been strained in recent years?

It can be difficult to talk about the history of Black relations and Jewish relations in part because theyre often seen through this narrative of Crown Heights, of New York in particular, of communities side by side who dont get [along] together, when the reality is so much more complicated than that.

There are times when Im called upon, people say Have you condemned Louis Farrakhan? as an example. And I dont know him? You know? And Im sure as I say to people, Im sure there are a lot of Jews who you do not agree with and who you do not feel called upon to denounce. Its very much an othering thing that implies that Jews of color have dual loyalties, which is not accurate. And how often are Jews called upon in the United States and around the world to denounce other Jews or to prove their loyalty to the country where they live? Its just pretty ironic to be put in that position.

For me I feel that understanding the diversity of the Jewish community can only help in terms of relationships with Black people outside the Jewish community, because the lens of the civil rights movement and to in no way denigrate the very real contributions of white Jews during the civil rights movement theres this sense of reaching across the aisle, or across boundaries. But in reality, because there are Jews of color, this is much more fluid. Its not just about two individual communities reaching out to one another, its greyer than that. So its hard for me to speak in absolutes and say Black-Jewish relations are worse or better. There are individual interactions and conflicts but it really does do us all a disservice, I think, to boil it all down to the fact that there are two groups of people.

Even though the term Black lives matter has become more than just one organization, the organization of the same name alienated some Jews with arguably anti-Israel language in its 2016 platform. From your perspective, after this past summer, how much tension is there still over that?

Theres definitely still tension about that, we get a lot of emails about that. Particularly when we came out in support of Black Lives Matter and we turned our entire website black for several weeks going into the summer. As an organization we had not done enough work. We had never come out and said point-blank Black lives matter as a multiracial organization, and it was important for us to do that.

[Since 2016] the phrase Black lives matter has come to mean so much more than any one group. There are people who originated it who should definitely be credited with that, but the weight and the power of those words transcends any one group of people.

Its very challenging to refocus peoples attention once theyve heard that there was this platform this one time that could definitely be seen as anti-Israel. The Jewish community that being said, weve established that there are many Jewish communities needs to be able to understand that change and to hold that change and to move forward. Many things change. Many movements change over time. Many leaders of movements change over time. And this is such a potent example of that. When we say Black lives matter, we are talking about the humanity of Black Jews. And that shouldnt be up for debate.

Whats something youre looking forward to in the new job?

One of my favorite things about our organization is our curriculum for children because in another life in Silicon Valley, one of the things I did was to develop craft kits and hands-on educational kits, and the hands-on nature of Passport to Peoplehood I find very exciting. Making recipes from Egyptian or Ethiopian Jews, it helps diversity to click in kids minds.

Im also really excited about a conversation Im having next week with Denise Davis who is one of our longtime board members, one of the cofounders of Camp Bechol Lashon. She is a doctor and a scientist and were going to talk about the history of Black America and the health system in the United States, in relationship to these vaccines, and to some of the distrust in the Black community around those. And she also wants to bring in a Jewish lens to talk about these issues.

That kind of thing is so exciting to me. At my heart Im an academic and I love to have these conversations where we just explore all of the overlap and all of the different ways we can approach these issues, and isnt it great that we can take our experience as Black Americans and as Jews and talk about something thats so relevant?

Original post:

For the first time, a Jew of color will lead pathbreaking diversity group Be'chol Lashon - Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Marin Voice: In more ways than one, Capitol siege hit close to home – Marin Independent Journal

Posted By on January 20, 2021

The phone didnt stop ringing in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.

Hows Taylor. Is your daughter OK?

For the past six years (before a recent job change), she had been a familiar face in the U.S. Capitol. My daughter, a Branson School and Georgetown University graduate, worked for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

While ensconced on the Hill, I never felt concerned about her safety. Not until 2020.

Classified as an essential staffer, working from home during the pandemic was not an option. Every day in the halls of the Capitol she was hostage to a COVID-19 hotspot.

Many Republicans and their aides went maskless to show loyalty to Donald Trump. After all, it was said that it was just a political pandemic which would magically disappear Nov. 4 as soon as the election was decided.

Of course, that didnt happen. Trump lost and claimed the election was stolen. The raid on the Capitol took place. The attempted coup outranked the COVID-19 crisis in the priority of concerns.

In the days following the siege, film footage showed where Pelosis barricaded staffers huddled under a conference table for 2 hours while insurrectionists battered on a furniture-barricaded door clamoring for entrance.

But for the fact that three months earlier my daughter had taken a position in New York City, she would have been hunkered down with her colleagues scrambling for safety under that conference room table.

Since 2015, when she was pictured on the Time magazine website surrounded by police following the Ferguson Michael Brown incident while wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with Hands Up Dont Shoot, I thought that would be her only near-death experience. What were the chances?

The potential for violence in and out of harms way is traceable through our family history. From the Civil War, World War I and II up through Desert Storm where they served, it could be expected.

The violence out of a war zone is different. My fathers civil rights colleague Harry Moore and his wife were blown up in their home on Christmas Eve 1951. Moore was a leader in the Florida civil rights struggle which forced my parents whose lives were threatened to leave the state.

Ive been thinking about November, 1978 when my 11:30 am radio interview with George Moscone never took place. Reports of his assassination were broadcast 45 minutes earlier. This took place one week following the Jonestown massacre. Those memories flooded back to Rep. Jackie Spier. She was shot in Guana back then and found herself sheltering on the House floor during the Jan. 6 riot.

With the election of Georgias Jon Ossoff, the Jewish community harkens back to the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank for a crime he didnt commit. A Jewish senator is a first for Georgia.

As a 16-year-old, I listened to Martin Luther King preach at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the summer of 1962. Could he, six years before his own assassination, ever predict the election of Congressman John Lewis or Sen. Raphael Warnock from the pulpit of the church where he and his father pastored.

There is a scriptural admonition.The wicked walk about freely when the vilest men are exalted.

Reported in the media are recent images of an insurrectionist carrying a Confederate flag in National Statuary Hall. There he is strolling in front of a portrait of Massachusettss abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner who was beaten on the floor of the Senate in 1856 for delivering a philippic against slavery. Ive studied Sumner my entire life and visit his grave whenever in Cambridge.

The morning following the siege I received a communication from former San Francisco Public Defender Geoff Brown, a Redwood High grad who is cousin to both Jerry Brown and former Marin Supervisor Hal Brown. He wrote: I woke up this morning with a hangover, not from drink but from shame and outrage. I grieve for the country I love for all its considerable failings.

I wrote back to him with a new verse for America (My Country Tis of Thee):

My country still can be, sweet land of liberty. We have no king. Land where laws still abide, seditious acts defied. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Link:

Marin Voice: In more ways than one, Capitol siege hit close to home - Marin Independent Journal


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