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Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise in Wisconsin – WDJT

Posted By on March 5, 2020

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- A newly released report shows a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Wisconsin.

The Jewish Community Relations Council says the number of incidents increased by 55-percent between 2018 and 2019.

More troubling -- those reports increased 329-percent since 2015.

It shows a rise in incidents at middle schools and more cases of holocaust denial.

The findings were discussed Wednesday night at an event in Whitefish Bay.

Officials say they're troubled by the findings, but they remain optimistic.

"There are those moments where you see communities come together to erase anti-Semitism. Even in these unfortunate statistics, there are kernels of hope and goodness," said Ann Jacobs, Chair of Milwaukee's JCRC.

The JCRC says the best way to combat incidents of anti-Semitism is by calling it out. They also ask that people report any instances of anti-Semitism to them directly.

Excerpt from:

Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise in Wisconsin - WDJT

David Baddiel delivers thought-provoking show in Aberdeen – Press and Journal

Posted By on March 5, 2020

Given that his most recent TV programme was a documentary about holocaust denial, the audience at Aberdeen Music Hall was braced for a show which tackled some serious subjects when comedy veteran David Baddiel returned to the city last night.

His show, entitled Trolls: Not The Dolls, examines the mean behaviour exhibited by certain parties on social media and has been granted an added potency following increasing concerns about the issue in recent weeks.

Backed by a screen displaying some of his most popular and controversial statements on Twitter, Baddiel began by explaining his tendency to over-share, whether that be with thousands in a comedy venue or potentially millions online.

The routine explored themes of anti-semitism, the vilification of Meghan Markle, and how growing anger online conflicts with the comedians natural desire to say to wrong thing.

At one point, the unlikely image of SNP councillor Christian Allard was beamed onto the backdrop as the comic went through a list of supposed lookalikes.

The laughs subsided as Baddiel elaborated on how Twitter can sometimes display humanity at its worst, and how such combative language had crept from the pages of the internet and into everyday discourse.

It ended on a gut-punching note about how comedy online can overcome even the most vile hatred. But as fascinating as his musings on social media were, it was when the backdrop faded and Baddiel opened up about his family life away from the internet that the show shone and I hope he leaves the projector at home for his next tour.

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David Baddiel delivers thought-provoking show in Aberdeen - Press and Journal

TikTok swamped with sickening videos of terror attack murders, Holocaust denials and vile racist slurs – The Sun

Posted By on March 5, 2020

KIDS as young as 13 are being exposed to sickening videos glorifying terror attacks, anti-Semitism and racist slurs on TikTok.

The video-sharing app popular with teenagers has faced a backlash over its failure to protect youngsters from toxic footage.

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Leading anti-racism campaigners said posts found by The Sun Online show the app is exposing kids to a 'cesspit of hate'.

In minutes, we unearthed a series of posts celebrating terrorist killings and promoting Holocaust denials and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

Scores of posts feature sickening anti-Semitic taunts - with cartoons depicting Jewish men with large noses and joking about the Holocaust receiving hundreds of likes and comments.

In one video, racist sketches of characters labelled 'A Sneaky Jew' and 'Mega Jew' are followed by anti-Semetic tropes that Jewish people control the media, financial sector and government.

In one horrifying clip, a TikTok user 'duets' - a video reply shared alongside an original, innocent post - with a young male talking about the dangers of anti-Semitic slurs.

The user opens an oven door and points inside as the original clip plays alongside.

It appears to reference the Holocaust, in which millions of Jews were gassed to death and cremated in large ovens by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

One TikTok user commented: "You have to put a trail of coins for them to follow."

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Another, appearing to cast doubt on the six million Holocaust death toll, said: "I myself have been gassed over 6,000,000 times!!!"

A host of videos including Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic tropes had been viewed thousands of times before we flagged them to TikTok bosses.

Users commenting under the videos posted under handles including @1_hate_J3ws and @deathtoj3ws.

Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "TikTok has become yet another social media platform serving up a diet of hatred to teenagers and young children.

"Those who post antisemitic memes about gassing Jews and Holocaust denial should be banned from social media and prosecuted.

"Tik Tok must take rapid action to prevent its app becoming a cesspit of hate where our children are radicalised into racism."

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Sickening footage of the Christchurch terrorist massacre, in which 51 people were shot dead when a white supremacist killer stormed two mosques, was among a series of chilling far-right clips found on the app just this week.Others included videos hailing and featuring the speeches of former British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley.

German neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division (AWD) has shared videos calling for 'random violence' and a white supremacist 'accelerationism' to promote the rise of fascism on the app.

Former English Defence League leader and convicted thug Tommy Robinson also posts political selfie videos on TikTok despite being banned from social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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We also found a series of posts from Islamist and pro-Palestinian extremists calling for violence against its targets.

Islamic State has focused on online propaganda since its formation and is known to use social media to spread its calls for attacks on the West.

TikTok removed a series of Islamic State propaganda videos last October after an investigation by Storyful.

The videos featured corpses paraded through streets, ISIS militants training with machine guns and extremists calling for non-believers to be slaughtered.

Elisabeth Kendall, an Oxford University expert on extremism, said the platform appeals to terror groups looking to radicalise children.

She said: "The rhyme, beat, evocative lyrics and punchy delivery are especially appealing to youth.

"This catchy sing-along method for propagating ISIS ideology means it spreads quickly and sticks in the collective memory. It tends to be far more effective than sermons or theological debate."

Animated videos previously discovered by Palestinian Media Watch recreated real-life murders of Jews in terror attacks, including the fatal stabbing of Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi in Jerusalem in 2015.

TikTok Time Bomb

TikTok has spread like digital wildfire, snapping up over 1.5 billion users since its global launch three years ago including millions in the UK.

On the surface, the world's fastest growing social media platform shows short clips of lip-syncing to songs or showing off dance moves but theres a far more sinister side.

Its become a magnet for paedophiles as well as a hotbed for violent and extremist content, with TikTok predators exploiting the platform's young user base and lax security to prey on the vulnerable.

We've seen kids as young as eight being groomed on TikTok, while other creeps take advantage of young girls posting sexualised content of themselves on the platform.

And that's especially worrying on a site which is attracting millions more children every year, with 53 per cent of kids now owning a smartphone by the age of seven.

That's why we launched our TikTok Time Bomb series to make sure parents are aware of the risks their kids are being exposed to, and what they can do to better protect them.

Everyone agrees that social media can be a force for good, but it has to be used the right way and with proper controls in place.

We want TikTok to better moderate its content so that its not being left to kids to protect themselves online.

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TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm Bytedance Ltd, features short videos which are usually overlaid with music.

It has topped the download charts in the US and was the eighth most downloaded app in the UK in 2019, narrowly trailing giants such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.

Bytedance launched a moderation team in London in 2018 to monitor content in the UK and remove videos which breached its rules.

The app also uses a combination of algorithms and systems to try and spot extremist or explicit content automatically.

But with more than 1billion monthly users, charities and campaign groups say the app is not properly tackling harmful content.

Which is why we launched our TikTok Time Bomb series to raise awareness of the dangers.

A TikTok spokesman said all the videos had been removed after being flagged by The Sun Online.

He said: "Keeping our community safe is a top priority for TikTok and we do not tolerate content that includes hate speech.

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"Our safety teams have investigated and removed all videos flagged to us by The Sun and we have also banned accounts for repeated violations of our policies.

"We would encourage our community to use our extensive reporting tools to let us know if they are concerned that someone is using TikTok inappropriately.

Accounts, videos, and comments can all be reported in-app and once a report is made our expert review team will take appropriate action in line with our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service."

Take control of TikTok change these settings now

Parents should do the following immediately...

Go private:

Shut out weirdos:

Restricted Mode ON:

Family Safety Mode:

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TikTok swamped with sickening videos of terror attack murders, Holocaust denials and vile racist slurs - The Sun

Exploring the Jewishness of Hunters on Amazon – /FILM

Posted By on March 5, 2020

When Hunters was first announced, I remember feeling invigorated by its concept. I didnt really look into it too much beyond series creator and co-showrunner David Weil, and felt at ease knowing there would be a Jewish person of my generation helming the project. The knowledge that Jordan Peele was on board as a producer meant it would likely be subversive and challenging. Then we got the first trailer and I was all-in.

However, nothing could prepare me for how this series would reflect my personal experience as a Jewish woman living in North America today. What Weil and his team have accomplished is remarkable; theyve created a series that straddles the trauma of our most recent past alongside the threat of our imminent future, while lovingly and angrily embodying the very essence of the contemporary Jewish experience.

This article contains some spoilers for the first season of Hunters.

Im shaking as I write this. You see, its impossible for me to talk about this show without getting personal, much like its impossible for most Jewish people to disconnect from our shared generational trauma as a culture. In a recent interview with Variety, the cast and crew discussed the shows significance at a time when the visibility of latent antisemitism is on the rise. Near its conclusion, the shows creator, David Weil, talks about growing up Jewish in America, surrounded by subtle forms of antisemitism. Small acts, he says, a joke about Jews in ovens that I heard when I was in college or a swastika being spray-painted on the front lawn of my high school growing up. I wince. I know exactly what hes talking about because Ive experienced nearly the exact same things.

When I was 16 years old working at the local movie theatre, a co-worker stopped me to tell me a joke. He led with youre Jewish, so I think youll like this. I gave him the go-ahead, not sure where this was going. Whats the difference between a Jew and a pizza? I didnt answer. I stared at him in stunned silence, which he took to mean I was waiting for the answer. He continued. Pizzas dont scream when you put them in the oven! He laughed as if hed told a real knee-slapper. I started shaking and, in my anger and hurt, I yelled at him. I told him that wasnt funny, and he told me to lighten up. After all, it had been a long time since the holocaust, he said. I proceeded to tell him about my Abuelito, my moms father, and shame him for ever thinking that kind of joke was okay. He apologized, though defensively. I walked slowly to the staff washroom and proceeded to cry there, alone, shaking as I am now.

When I was in University, I got really used to being the only Jewish person for miles. Typically, if were not in a predominantly Jewish area, were usually the only ones in a crowd. This opened the door for a new kind of microaggression that I had been trained my whole life to dismiss as just par for the course. Every other person Id meet, when they found out or realized that I was Jewish, would immediately fucking immediately chime in with oh wow! Youre my first Jew! Im not your toy. Were not Pokemon, or rare rookie collector cards, though we are viciously outnumbered on a global scale.

Enter Hunters.

With an explosive emotional force I was not prepared for, this show came crashing into my life, riddled with Yiddish slang, omniscient Saftas, jokes of Bubeleh bat phones, the right coffins (more on this soon), and the mourners Kaddish. From the very beginning, this show screamed at the top of its lungs that it was made by Jewish people with Jewish people in mind. But the depths of its Jewishness, and its profound significance, will likely be missed by most people watching it.

When Jonah sits down to his comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup, as his Safta (the Hebrew word for grandmother) tends to his cuts and bruises, I started to weep. Ive had that exact bowl of soup. The apartments of both sets of grandparents, my Bubbe and Zayde as well as my Abuelita and Abuelito (Dad and Moms parents, respectively), looked like this home. In an instant, I was transported. I could smell the soup. I could smell Ruths clothes and the soap on her skin. When she cradles his face, its with the precise gentleness my Abuelita used to cradle mine. Suddenly, she was there with me. Patting my cheeks, telling me to put socks on because if I walked in the kitchen with bare feet Id get sick.

In the larger conversation of being able to see yourself represented in media, Jews are often left on the sidelines. Weve seen ourselves before, true, but its often in the context of the Holocaust, stereotypes, or hard-nosed orthodoxy. Shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which I adore give us more humor and banter than legitimate culture. But because Ashkenazi Jews, which I am, present largely as white, we tend to disappear into the fray. We dont get to have discussions of representation because we can just look at the other white folks.

Weve told ourselves thats enough for generations. Really since cinema began. But its not, and we dont realize how much its not until we see something like this. And the thing is, the representation we need, the representation that will hopefully open the eyes of the world, has to include our trauma as a people. The atrocities in the show are easily dismissed as mere tools for entertainment, but the truth is theyre deeply rooted in our history, up to the present day.

Ruths murder, for instance, directly mirrors the slaying of 85-year-old Parisian Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in her apartment. In the second episode, they talk about targeted attacks on Jewish neighborhoods, referencing the horrific attacks, threats, and debasement that weve seen repeatedly in the last four years alone. The seemingly unfathomable plot twist that the American government had smuggled Nazis and German scientists into the U.S. to help with the Space Race isnt even made up Operation Paperclip was real. As a result, hundreds if not thousands of Nazis completely evaded persecution for their slaughter of over 11 million people during the Holocaust, including six million Jews.

We have all of the statistics. The facts about the Holocaust and its many tragedies are plentiful and well-documented. Steven Spielberg started the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 to help preserve the history of genocide survivors through first-hand accounts. We had photographic evidence immediately following the war, news reports on all sides of it there wasnt an angle left unexplored, as it is the single most well-documented genocide in history. And yet, weve still spent the past 75 years desperately trying to convince the world that it happened, to the point where its very existence was put on trial. David Irving, the modern godfather of Holocaust denial and Nazi apologist, would later serve 3 years in prison for denying it ever happened and calling for an end to the gas chambers fairy tale.

Following Hunters release, it came under heavy and justified scrutiny from the Auschwitz Memorial for its portrayal of a sadistic chess game in the camp. Of its problematic use of the historic site, they said [i]nventing a fake game of human chess for @huntersonprime is not only dangerous foolishness & caricature. It also welcomes future deniers. We honor the victims by preserving factual accuracy.

Firstly, I cannot stress enough that this argument is incredibly valid. That said, David Weils defense of this scene confirms why I personally thought it was vital to the show. With all of the examples Ive given above (you guys have hyperlinks for days!) and the literal thousands I just dont have the time or energy to sift through (seriously, google Jewish attacks youll be looking at results from the last five years alone for 10 pages), we still struggle to make the world believe that our history was as horrible as it was, or that were still at risk at all. Portraying the atrocities of Auschwitz of any camp, for that matter as cartoonishly exaggerated is a necessary attempt to shock the general public out of their complacency. To me, it feels like screaming at the top of your lungs WE FUCKING MATTER! CARE ABOUT US! and beating you over the head with these made-up stories because the real ones dont seem to be enough anymore.

Weil and fellow showrunnerNikki Toscano incorporated more of this into the show with its humorous and horrific cutaways, the most notable of which sent chills down my spine and reduced me to a shaking, sobbing mess.

Framed like a 1970s Family Feud-style game show, Why Does Everyone Hate The Jews? shows up at the 32 minute mark of episode 8, The Jewish Question. In the segment, a Richard Dawson-looking host encourages a trio of contestants to guess as many reasons why everyone hates the Jews. After an onslaught of real, antisemitic things people have actually said about Jews, Joyce wins the game with the easy answer, because theyre Jews! The host wraps things up with his chilling exit monologue, staring down the audience while breaking the fourth wall:

Do you know someone who would win big money here? Have them apply today. No, really, do you? Maybe a parent? A friend? Your husband or wife? Maybe they play it often. Around the kitchen table or at work. Maybe just in the safety of their own minds because they still believe that Jews just arent us. How often do they play this game? Would they win big money here? Would you?

Pick something on that board featured in the show. Ive heard it said in public, sometimes to my face. Someone once told me Jews were cheap at a party as an anecdote. Someone else once angrily complained that the Jews needed to get over feeling threatened shortly after neo-Nazis had marched down Queen Street West in Toronto.

I take the representation of the Holocaust and Jewish survivors stories very seriously. Growing up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Thornhill, Ontario, I went to elementary school with many Jewish kids. Because of this, and because our school was located in a neighborhood we all affectionately refer to as the Jewberhood, we had a Holocaust survivor come to our class and tell us their story every year around Remembrance Day and International Holocaust Memorial Day. Eventually, we stopped seeing them because they were all dying. This was a huge part of the significance of Spielbergs initiative to document their stories; without tangible evidence, what happened to us will be erased and denied.

On top of hearing their stories in school from the age of about eight, my Abuelito was a survivor of the Holocaust. He grew up in the town of Malaryta in what is now known as Belarus. Around the beginning of WWII, after the Germans had invaded Poland, his father had him purposely go and run a random errand by train that would take him away from their town. When he returned, his family was gone.

As my mom tells it, based on piecing his story together, He and two other guys went east towards the Russian border, got arrested and sent to Siberia, where he spent the rest of the war. Hunger and disease killed many. Typhus was rampant. His job was to remove the dead bodies in a wheelbarrow. He felt he would soon be one of the dead. He slept on a stone floor with straw. Ate a cat once. After the war, he tried to look for his family with the help of the Red Cross. His mother and sister were confirmed dead, and he never found anything about his father. He spent 2 years in Europe, mostly Italy. Went to Argentina in 1947. His uncle and family had emigrated there before the war.

I say based on piecing his story together because he didnt talk about what he went through. Not with us, anyways. But this behavior was common for Holocaust survivors. In the very first episode at his Saftas shivah, Jonah (Logan Lerman) says she didnt talk about the camps much. Pacinos Meyer Offerman replies with a telling and familiar what is there to talk about?

Speaking from personal experience, and the stories Id heard from other friends and family with survivors, they seldom spoke to their own family about what happened to them in the camps. What I could gather from my Abuelito was that he didnt want to burden us with his trauma. He would, however, speak to anyone else about it. A few years after my Abuelita passed, he had a girlfriend also a Holocaust survivor, a child during the war and would tell her and her kids stories about his camp. Hed talk to my stepdad about it in front of my mom, but never with her directly.

The show manages to honor this behavior in a beautifully non-judgemental way. Theres so much we know from others, but so little we know from our own that we have to piece together from the fragments we could gather. Thats why Spielbergs initiative is so important, and why the efforts of Yad Vashem matter so profoundly for the preservation of our truth and our history.

Yad Vashem is the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem. Shaped like a long corridor, you move through the museum in a snake trail, meandering through the history of the Holocaust from before it began to the search for life after liberation. At the very end resides the Hall of Names, pictured above. Its walls are lined with the biographies of every Holocaust victim. The walls are lined with thousands of binders containing these Pages of Testimony, but the shelves are not full. You can search the Central Database of Shoah Victims Names for someone you may know, and if their name is missing, the centre offers blank Pages of Testimony to add your familys story. The thing is, most of the Jews who were murdered will remain forever anonymous. Theyll disappear into the fabric of history like so many others before them.

Weil brought Yad Vashem to the New York burrow by way of The Ark, a room in Offermans attic where the Hunters gathered testimonies from living Holocaust survivors in New York. Hanging above the rooms central table is a round light fixture mirroring the Hall of Names conical ceiling with over 600 photos and Pages of Testimony. The walls are lined with nearly identical binders of testimonies, and the shelves are similarly incomplete, with large gaps missing, ready to be filled. That it gets torched in episode 6, (Ruth 1:16), acts as the ultimate indignity an attack on our history, and attempt to erase our traumatic past that reflects the real attacks and indignities weve already suffered.

The messages behind Hunters arent exactly subtle. Rather, theyre about as subtle as a hammer to the kneecaps. But the thing is, neither are we. Jewish people, when you know them personally and not just at a distance, are anything but. Were vibrant people, full of love and life, the desire to celebrate through food, and a profound inclination to welcome people into our homes, whether theyre close relatives or complete strangers.

But, despite our lack of subtlety, weve learned to make ourselves small over time. Historically, weve never been accepted. Outcasts since the days of the pharaohs, forbidden for centuries to marry outside the faith (to intermarry, as its known), and banned from food markets in the middle ages because everyone thought we were diseased. Up until the 20th century we were banned from major institutions. When you know us in our culture, were big, boisterous, and about as subtle as a backhanded comment from your Bubbe about when youre going to give her grandkids. But no one wants to know us. So, to the world that shuns us, were quiet, subdued, and withdrawn. Which is why something like Hunters seems so preposterous when, in reality, its the perfect tonal chaos of our very existence. It shifts from humour to horror and deep-seated sorrow on a dime, a tonal incongruity criticized by many. But what these people dont seem to understand is that this seemingly careless creative decision is actually a perfect articulation of Jewish existence. The documentary The Last Laugh tackles this very subject.

I could write ten thousand words on the intricacies in this show that make it integral to communicating the modern Jewish experience; Its delicate handling of Jonah feeling a part of our people. A part of our tribe, in episode 6, which reflects so many of us when we finally get to experience being among our people in a real way; Meyers hiring of Hilda Hoffman, the Yenta (match-maker), to help him assemble the titular Hunters, and addressing the professions significance in the effort to repopulate in episode 2; Murrays (Saul Rubinek) atheism after the war reflective of the mass loss of faith many Holocaust survivors felt after liberation; Judd Hirschs portrayal of real Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal while questioning what is the right way to seek retribution, something we as a people have struggled with throughout our entire history. But Im afraid even this is too long, and that most people just wont listen, because it often feels like they dont.

The season starts in our past and ends in our present, despite being set in 1977. It addresses the anxieties we feel of being forgotten, and being swallowed by the world the global Jewish population in the 1970s was roughly 12.6 million against the worlds 4 billion, and is now approximately 14.6 million to the worlds 7.8 billion. It focuses on a big part of our culture while highlighting our oppression and desire to be heard and seen. It puts the conspiracy theories front and centre while addressing the reality of our fears.

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Exploring the Jewishness of Hunters on Amazon - /FILM

The Western friends of North Korea – The Ferret

Posted By on March 5, 2020

We believe in defending the DPRK, and its system, without any ifs or buts, says Dermot Hudson, the official UK delegate for the Korean Friendship Association (KFA).

Hudson is typical of members of his organisation; dedicated to supporting the North Korean political system from its enemies across the world.

While recent years have seen a thawing of relations between the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and its neighbours, South Korea, the secretive Hermit Kingdom is still relatively devoid of friends.

Yet a small number of friendship groups and sympathising associations have remained supportive towards North Korea. The ideological fervour with which these groups support the country varies, as well as how they operate.

The KFA takes a radical approach to defending the DPRK. It was founded in Spain by Alejandro Cao de Bens de Les y Prez in 2000, and now boasts around 16,000 members worldwide.

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Alex Meads

There are approximately 845 members in Spain, as well as regional zone delegates based in Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andaluca, Aragon and Madrid. The KFA even runs a members-only bar in Tarragona called Pyongyang Caf, decked out in North Korean flags and propaganda posters.

The KFA takes a much more ideological stance than many other groups, and adopts a more confrontational approach in its unwavering support for North Korea and the Kim dynasty.

It works in a formal capacity on a routine basis with North Koreas Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Hudson is a loyal, connected and well-known supporter of the regime, supporting its existence, even going as far as to deny its atrocities.

In an appearance on the BBCs Daily Politics in 2017, Hudson questioned the validity of the United Nations findings into human rights violations in North Korea. Similarly, he denies the existence of starvation and hunger in the country, and the states well-documented prisoner camps.

Hudson, who has visited the country 18 times, explains that his support for North Korea derives from his disdain for the approach of the old Communist Party of Great Britain. I became seriously disillusioned (with the party) because I regarded it as revisionist, recalls Hudson in a call via Skype.

I started to look at other socialist nations the DPRK, Albania and Vietnam. It was the DPRK that attracted me the most as it seemed to have a very strong anti-imperialistic stance and it was developing its own ideology.

It was this ideology, known as Juche Idea, which continues to appeal to Hudson and the KFA. One of his favourite spots within North Korea is the Juche Tower in Pyongyang, while Hudson founded the Juche Idea Study Group of England.

Juche can be broken down into a number of basic concepts, Hudson explains. The central philosophical core of Juche idea is that humans are masters of everything, can decide and determine everything but of course, in a collective sense. Hudson believes that Juche defines human beings as possessing the characteristics of independence, creativity and consciousness. The DPRK, he says, embodies all of these principles.

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Alexi Demitriadi

However, the more shadowy aspects of North Koreas political culture can influence groups who support it. Alexander Meads was a member of the KFA until he was abruptly expelled in 2018.

He joined the organisation at just 14 years old, after a chance encounter with the Friends of Korea umbrella group, which includes the KFA. Meads remembers how welcoming and friendly they were when he first joined as a young teenager, often paying for his food and travel expenses.

They almost used me as a PR coup to attract young members, recalls Meads over Skype.

The DPRK itself stresses it in Juche the importance of bringing in young people and carrying the torch forward. Its very much done in the same spirit at the KFA.

Such a young person taking interest in the cause was a great source of pride for the KFA, Meads remembers, with North Korean embassy staff commenting on how he would enjoy great possibilities in the future.

After six years, Meads was made Commissar of the UK branch of the KFA in 2017. His job was to maintain discipline and security.

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Alex Meads

I made sure that the groups enemies, or who were perceived to be enemies, were kept away from us, Meads explains.

This could range from online background checks on those considered to be a danger to the group, to cold calls at 2am, and even turning up unannounced an enemys house or workplace. These tactics served to intimidate those who criticised the group, drawing comparisons with the activities of North Koreas notorious secret police, the State Security Department (SSD).

It seems to replicate the DPRK, on a miniature level. He says that one journalist for the North Korean-centred NK News outlet was shocked about how much Meads was able to dig up about him, including details about his middle school.

The initially friendly and welcoming atmosphere turned to one of hostility when he began to question the party line, as paranoia and suspicion grew.

They would see the hand of the CIA in everything, Meads explains.

In one instance, Meads was criticised for choosing to wear jeans on a day out while on an official delegate trip to the DPRK, as jeans were, of course, a sign of rebellion in 1980s Eastern Europe.

Meads has been to North Korea four times twice as a tourist and twice as an official delegate on behalf of the KFA.

From a tourists perspective, you arent given much ideological content, he says, but when you go as a delegate, you are expected to do as the Koreans do.

Delegates take part in hours of preparatory lectures before going to the DPRK, and must adhere to strict political etiquette such as bowing to statues of the countrys leaders, and making sure not to cross your arms in front of pictures of the dictators.

For Meads, the turning point was a visit to a cosmetics factory during his fourth and final trip in September 2018. He recalls being excited to visit the factory floor to talk to the local workers and buy items to bring back home.

However, the trip was almost solely to a museum housed at the factory, showcasing items that leader Kim Jong-un had touched during his visit there.

The contradiction between North Koreas socialist ideology and the godlike reverence shown to the countrys leaders was pointed out by Meads, who was shunned by delegates and officials thereafter.

They didnt speak to me after that, he says. They were willing to engage only in basic conversation.

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Alexi Demetriadi

This misdemeanour, along with Meads travelling to Ukraine without permission, resulted in him being shunned and isolated from the group.

The KFA sells itself as a broad based organisation, but in reality you have to be a full-on hardcore supporter, he says. If you arent, its made clear you are not wanted there.

After his final trip to North Korea, Meads was pushed out of the KFA, although he claims not to have been given a concrete reason for his expulsion.

Meads later revealed details of his time in the KFA to NK News, leading to an attack from the group on social media.

Accusing Meads of unwanted acts of arrogance, classism and outrageous disrespect and a colonialist attitude, the post claims he is a racist and fascist.

That post was one of the most disgusting things Ive ever read, Meads says. They accused me of racism and fascism they just made up a complete load of rubbish. Meads also explains that the group would later accuse him of Holocaust denial and of being a Western intelligence asset, which he expected.

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Alex Meads

But not all North Korea friendship groups are gripped by such fervour and suspicion. On the more moderate end of the spectrum is the Swedish-Korean Association (SKA). One of the oldest established friendship groups, the SKA makes a concerted effort to depoliticise its activities, claiming to prioritise the importance of personal and cultural exchange, rather than ideology.

Founded in 1969, the association recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

We want to promote friendship, exchange and cooperation between the Swedish and the Korean people. Economic, cultural and state level exchange promotion, says board member Daniel Uppstrm.

In the 1960s the main task of the association was to achieve a Swedish recognition and to establish diplomatic relations with the DPRK, he explains. This was achieved in 1973.

These days the focus has shifted towards organising cultural activities and trips to the country.

We cooperate with a variety of other Swedish organisations and individuals that help promote friendship and exchange actions, Uppstrm says. For example, an individual called Carl-Johan Evers helped the Koreans develop a ski resort and also arranged for their athletes to come to Sweden and practice in our mountains.

Uppstrom credits the SKAs political diversity and the emphasis on depoliticising its events as vital to its longevity. If we had a very narrow friendship organisation, we would become marginalised, he says. So our events allow different people to come and take part regardless of their political views you just need an open mind.

This diversity is reflected within the associations membership with right and left-leaning individuals forming its base. Within our organisation, there are a number of very different political views, Uppstrm states. There are members that see the socialist system of the DPRK from an ideological position, but there are also right leaning members that do not promote socialism, but that recognise the right of all people and countries to choose their own political system.

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The Western friends of North Korea - The Ferret

In Israel, Zionism is a religion, and it is mandatory – Haaretz

Posted By on March 5, 2020

The Joint Lists impressive, welcome achievement comes tempered with disappointment: The glass ceiling of Jewish voters was not broken. On the eve of the election, in certain circles it seemed that, thanks to Jewish voters, Ayman Odeh would be prime minister and Ahmad Tibi foreign minister.

Thats what happens when you live in a bubble. In reality, the picture was bleaker. Few Jews voted for the party. Its hard to know precisely how many, because of the mixed cities. Tibi estimated that only 10,000 Jews voted for the Joint List. Ofer Cassif figured that close to one Knesset seat came from Jewish voters. In any case, despite the increase in number, it was still an insignificant minority.

Bibi limps to election 'victory.' But he didn't winHaaretz Weekly Podcast

Arabs vote for Zionist parties more than Jews vote for the Joint List. True, the Joint List doubled its support in Givatayim, but were talking 316 votes compared to 179 in the September election still less than one percent in a left-wing city with 48,500 eligible voters. Ramat Hasharon also showed an increasingly radical tilt: 149 voters compared to 74 in the previous election. Nice, but its still hardly anything. A curiosity. The kibbutzim, the leftist strongholds, also excelled: In Ramat Hakovesh there were four more voters for the Joint List, and in Ramat Hashofet, there were 10 this time after zero last time. Its encouraging. But it also stirs gloomy thoughts.

Given the rightist character of Kahol Lavan and the pallid personality of Labor-Gesher-Meretz, one might have expected that many more Jews who call themselves leftists would give their vote to Odeh and Tibi. What other choice did they have? Orli Levi-Abecassis? Zvi Hauser? They chose them.I know some Israelis who agonized for days whether to vote for the Joint List, who talked about crossing the Rubicon and the end of the world, and at the last moment their hand betrayed them and they voted for Gantz or Peretz. They say they just couldnt do it.

What exactly prevented them? After all, they support justice and equality and peace for two states and the Joint List offers them all of this good stuff. But they found excuses for themselves: Balad is too nationalist, Raam too religious, Tibi too glib and Odeh too charming. Others who did vote for the Joint List after a lot of soul-searching, likened the feeling to coming out of the closet.

This reluctance does not necessarily derive from racist motivations. The Arab character of the Joint List was far less off-putting than its being non-Zionist. Thats just going too far, an unforgiveable crime. Voting for a party that doesnt have the Zionist banner flying over it is a painful, almost impossible step. Thats the result of 100 years of indoctrination that is practically unmatched. With the exception of North Korea, no other country has such a ruling ideology that is not to be doubted or deviated from. Aside from Iran, no other country has a mandatory religion. In Israel, Zionism is a religion, and it is mandatory.

A Jew who votes for the Joint List is still considered a traitor, or at least a person who has some kind of screw loose. In our childhood, this is how we viewed activists from Rakah and Matzpen, and we shunned them like lepers. The Rakah office on Maza Street in Tel Aviv was like a mysterious, menacing headquarters of an enemy army. You didnt want to be seen anywhere near it. I remember the first time I went there: I was terrified.

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These were the adolescent growing pains of a young country. But when a strong, thriving country disqualifies a legal ideology and makes it illegitimate, something has gone wrong with its democracy.

Zionism is a worldview like any other. One can see its attractive and unattractive sides. It is not a religion in which doubters are denounced as heretics yet it is forbidden to reject Zionism. Why? Because Zionism is not sure of itself. It knows that it brought a catastrophe upon another people and it knows that the fire of evil and injustice is burning beneath the carpet upon which it treads. If Zionism were certain of its righteousness, it would put itself to the test like any other worldview and it would be permissible to doubt it. Israel in 2020 is not yet ready for that. A true left will only arise here when we wean ourselves of the addiction to Zionism and free ourselves from its chains.

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In Israel, Zionism is a religion, and it is mandatory - Haaretz

Netanyahu declares victory among ‘Zionists’ because ‘Arabs not part of the equation’ – Haaretz

Posted By on March 5, 2020

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on claiming victory in this week's election, saying on Wednesday that he won among the" Zionist" voters because "Arabs are not part of the equation."

The premier made this statement during a meeting with the leaders of the parties comprising his right-wing bloc. The prime minister had spoken to the party leaders on reports from earlier in the day that members of the center-left bloc were trying to promote a bill that would forbid an indicted individual to serve as prime minister which would block him from having a chance at assembling a coalition.

Bibi limps to election 'victory.' But he didn't winHaaretz Weekly Podcast

This move is "undermining the foundation of democracy and the voters' will," he claimed.

>> Read more:Likud threatens Gantz ally with embarrassing tapes if she doesn't defectCenter-left doomed by Netanyahus killer campaign and its own crippling complacencyElection is over - what happens now? Key dates to followGantz's party members preparing for defections, don't rule out splitting up

"The left-wing bloc is only comprised of 47 seats," the prime minister said as he gestured at a white board on which he had scrawled the division of the votes among the blocs. "The Arabs are not part of this equation because that's the will of the people," he continued.

With virtually all the votes counted, the bloc of parties loyal to Netanyahu has received 58 seats three short of a majority. The Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is right-wing but refuses to sit in a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties, received seven seats. This leaves 55 seats secured by Kahol Lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, and the Joint List. But according to Netanyahu, the "left-wing bloc" consists of Kahol lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, and Yisrael Beiteinu, with a total of 47.

Netanyahu insinuated that his rival Benny Gantz, the leader of Kahol Lavan, was behind the attempts to promote the law that would not let him following his charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases to try and establish a government.

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"Gantz is trying to steal the election" but "what the people decided is clear. The Zionist right-wing bloc has 58 seats. The Zionist left-wing bloc, together with Lieberman who joined them, has 47 seats. The Joint List who smears Israeli army soldiers and opposes the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and who certainly opposes me as the prime minister who promotes our sovereignty in the territories of our homeland, the nation state of the Jewish people they are not part of the equation. They are not 54 seats. The left-wing bloc, and I repeat this, has 47 seats and not 54 seats like they try to say."

The prime minister stressed that Gantz was "linking up with supporters of terror on the Joint List in an attempt to annul the decision of the people my friends, myself and millions of citizens who voted for us will not let this happen. Gantz you lost the election, let this idea go."

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Netanyahu declares victory among 'Zionists' because 'Arabs not part of the equation' - Haaretz

AIPACs Progressives Wont Be Intimidated – Jewish Journal

Posted By on March 5, 2020

At the America Israel Policy Affairs Conferences (AIPAC) Intersectionality: Standing Up for Our Values and Ourselves panel, the line for the audience Q&A was long.

On it are the progressives at the conference. And they have questions.

Being progressive and pro-Israel is complicated.

The right is telling us you cant be a progressive and a Zionist and some people on the far-left are telling us you cant be a progressive and a Zionist, said Rami Hod, executive director of the Berl Katznelson Center, at the Progressive Activism in Israel panel. What brings me here today, although listening to the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. is very, very challenging is that we have our narrative, the progressive Zionist narrative, to maintain.

AIPAC panels about progressive causes were copious. They dissected striving for a more just Israel (Improving Life in Gaza: Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation, Israel and the Climate Crisis, Promoting Palestinian Prosperity, Women of Start-Up Nation), inclusive pro-Israel activism (Advocating for LGBTQ Equality and the U.S.-Israel Partnership, Israel and Our Progressive Values, Pro-Israel Activism and Progressive Zionism, Zionism and Feminism), and marginalized identities (African American, LGBTQ, Latino, Kurds, Israeli Minorities.)

There was a recurring question in the breakout sessions: What should a Zionist do when a social justice cause they support is aligned with anti-Israel groups and platforms?

At the African American Leaders panel, speakers were asked about how Israel has become a wedge issue between black and Jewish communities, given that Black Lives Matter endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in 2016 and how the Movement for Black Lives demanded the United States cut military aid to Israel.

I think you can support issues that support African Americans without supporting that particular movement, replied Mario Bailey, senior adviser for Converge Government Affairs. If its injustice anywhere, you cant just say, OK, because this particular group doesnt support our causes, theyre reflective of all African Americans.

Larry Scott Blackmon, a former New York City Council candidate who served in the administrations of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, agreed with Bailey.

Not one organization speaks for all people of color. There are so many. I started off today by saying I was probably in 10 of them. Because thats one extremist view from a certain community does not necessarily mean that it speaks for everyone, Blackmon said. You have people of color who are here for this conference who are elected officials in their own right whose stories are not being told, who are not aligned. But every day, they are working to build a bridge to fix water issues, to make their communities better, and reach out to different constituency groups. Help us help you by telling that story.

The sentiment of being misrepresented by fringe voices was shared by AIPACs progressive Jews.

One audience member said, There seem to be a lot of left-wing Jews joining progressive anti-Semitic organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace [JVP] (and other ones that I wont mention right now) and are essentially using their Jewish heritage as a shield against legitimate accusations of anti-Semitism. What is your strategy for dealing with people of Jewish heritage including major presidential candidates who are using their status to shield what I think are blatantly anti-Semitic organizations that purport to be Jewish, but really are not?

There was a recurring question in the progressive breakout sessions at AIPAC: What should a Zionist do when a social justice cause they support is aligned with anti-Israel groups and platforms?

The group he wouldnt name is IfNotNow, the leftist Jewish crowd that launched a campaign to intimidate liberals from attending the event. Progressives dont let progressives go to AIPAC, IfNotNow graphics read, which were widely distributed online, and even outside the conference.

From European neo-Nazis and genocide deniers to leaders of Israels most violent far-right movements and political parties some of the worlds worst bigots were on AIPACs stage this year, the group wrote in an email titled #SkipAIPAC Recap. Were winning and they know it. Whats clear from this years conference: AIPAC is losing the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and replacing their bipartisanship with bigotry.

At the Intersectionality panel, the group was a source of such discomfort that both the speakers and audience members refused to utter its name. These groups that shall not be named, theyre like Voldemort [from the Harry Potter books]. Theyre trying to define the relationship with Israel based on what they see as Israeli war crimes, said A Wider Bridge Executive Director Tyler Gregory.

There are fringe elements of the Jewish community such as JVP and there are other groups who claim to speak on behalf of American Jews as anti-Zionists but they simply dont, responded Amanda Berman, the founder of Zioness, which supports progressive, pro-Israel activists. When were coming together in a big tent of the progressive Jewish left, which is also deeply committed to Zionism because it is consistent with our progressive values and progressive identity, we can silence those people we can marginalize them.

Dr. Lauren B. Strauss, the director of the Jewish Studies Program and American University, audibly complained during the question, particularly its swipe at the Jewishness of Bernie Sanders, who has joined IfNotNows attacks on AIPAC. Theyre Jewish even if they dont agree with you, she huffed.

Its really facile and shows a lack of subtlety to accuse people running for president obviously, he was referring to Bernie Sanders, who I dont support of being anti-Semitic because they have been critical of Israel, Strauss told The Jewish Journal. Its really unhelpful and damaging to just reduce people to labels like anti-Semite or bigot. I had someone asked me how I could speak here at a conference on a platform with so many bigots. I know who they are referring to. There are a few people who have spoken to the conference who I am very much against.

Strauss, who is a speaker at the conference, stands by her decision to attend.

If there is a big tent and you disagree with parts of that tent, its still okay to show up, and all the more reason to show up and educate people about your own point of view, she said. Mine happens to be progressive.

Strauss is not the only AIPAC goer who took issue with some of their speakers or tactics.

After the African American Leadership panel, New Jersey attorney Calvin W. Souder told the Journal that he skipped that mornings main session. He refused to hear Vice President Mike Pences speech, even though a speaker who preceded him, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), is one of my best friends. During Pences delivery, many in the audience walked out.

While speaking at Progressive Activism in Israel, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who is the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, took issue with the makeup of his own panel.

I feel not totally comfortable being in a panel that talks about progressive activism in Israel without a person who represents the non-Jewish community, Kariv noted, suggesting that they do better next year.

Meanwhile, Hen Mazzig, a Journal columnist and senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute, politely corrected a moderator in an identity panel when she said that Sephardic Jews and Mizrahim were the same.

Its so Eurocentric that we even call Mizrahim Sephardic. My family was in Iraq when it was Babylon. They didnt come from Spain, Mazzig explained. Theres Mizrahi. Theres Sephardic. In the past, we used to be lumped into one category Sephardic or Ashkenazi, but its more diverse than that. My work is to expand the conversation and show there is more than just one form of Jewish identity.

While AIPACs American speakers advocated showing up to progressive spaces as unapologetic Zionists, Israeli activists advocated for addressing Israels shortcomings.

We cant bring people to like Israel better, connect better with Israelis, and acknowledge the self-determination of the Jewish people and to think Zionism is not racism if we deny the occupation, Hold said. If we deny the settlements, if we say, you know, You should support Israel because Israel has invented the cherry tomato. This is the reason I like to come here, why I like to speak at AIPAC because no one tells me what I can say. I have a space here. I can talk about my views with friends who are progressives in AIPAC.

Berman, while advising the crowd to show up for social justice regardless of the movements views on Israel, verbalized why many progressives came to the conference.

We are afraid to engage and the problem is getting worse because we are ceding the spaces to the bigots, afraid to stand up to them, she said. Dont let anyone tell you what you cant be.

Ariel Sobel is a TEDx talker, award-winning filmmaker, and the winner of the 2019 Bluecat Screenplay Competition.

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AIPACs Progressives Wont Be Intimidated - Jewish Journal

Remembering my mother with a book, not as a cook – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on March 5, 2020

One day in Champlain Colony, that ramshackle collection of bungalows by the polluted Lake Champlain we considered our summer paradise, my mother was doing what she usually did while using the communal washer-dryer. A neighbor asked, Why are you reading? It was 1969, and the perfectly-coiffed women on TV concentrated on their chores single-mindedly. My mother replied, I want my children to remember me for reading books not washing their clothes.My mother, Elaine Troy, was born in 1933 and died this past Monday at the age of 86. When wasnt just a bookworm, she was a book junkie and book pack rat. Our house in Queens, New York, overflowed with books like Mr. Whoopees closet on Tennessee Tuxedo on shelves, off shelves, on desks, in closets. To her, books were airline tickets to adventure, passports to other worlds, secret decoders for understanding this world, instruction manuals for building a better world, barbells for the mind, kosher chocolate fudge cake for the soul.My father also loves books, but mostly thick historical monographs. My mothers tastes were eclectic. She read about Jews and about women, about psychology and society. She read Elie Wiesel and Betty Friedan, Yitz Greenberg and Blu Greenberg, and yes, she loved junk novels as much as she loved junk food. But she wasnt a distracted mother escaping the family via literature, she squeezed her reading time into her crazy-busy days by indulging late into the night.Elaine Troy was a natural-born feminist, living the equal rights revolution before it began. A star volleyballer at the Workmans Circle Camp Kinder Ring, she had the moxie to defy her Bundist camp director by spending a year in Israel with the left-wing Habonim youth movement in 1951. He never spoke to her again for allying with those Zionists. She had the grit to endure jaundice and that legendary night when a kind Israeli policeman threw her and a friend in jail so they would have a safe place to sleep. She had the intellectual ambition to fight her father when he blocked her from reading Hitlers Mein Kampf, the only book he banned. She had the drive to become a Hebrew School teacher, during which she met her life-partner for 65 years in a wonderful mixed marriage with a right-wing Betari: Bernard Dov Troy.After earning her masters degree, she became a New York City schoolteacher, then a guidance counselor and reading teacher. Eventually, she went independent as a therapist. She had the courage to work in the worst neighborhoods in the 1970s, from the South Bronx to Bushwick, with no cellphone, always seeing the aspiring learner behind every dysfunctional family, every disability, every social pathology haunting her students.The work was often Sisyphean and underappreciated. As schoolteachers and Jewish educators, my parents were usually dismissed at cocktail parties and in the Jewish organizational world. Their paychecks and donations didnt have enough commas and zeros, although IRS agents once audited them for claiming too many charitable deductions on a teachers salary, then toasted their generosity. Its not coincidental that Elaines three sons chose professions like law, White-House advising, writing and professing, which outsiders often fawn over excessively.My mothers retirement party was depressing. While many praised her magic touch with students, parents and colleagues, she described the fall of that once-revered symbol of intelligence and integrity, the New York schoolteacher. The Board of Ed bounced her around to 50 schools. We lived through a revolution, my father explained, from the 50s through the 80s, and it wasnt pretty.Although my parents led conventional 1950s Leave it to Beaver lives, that didnt stop them from being idiosyncratic. He taught her how to cook. She took us to baseball games. She was fast, running up the stairs in hyper-speed, tik-tik-tik; he was slow, plodding his way up the stairs, thump-thump-thump. So while what they would have called a 33-1/3 record being married to a 78-rpm record triggered its frustrations, my parents remained in synch on the essentials: values and ideals. THEY AGREED about where we should go to school, what causes to champion and what stands to take. If in Washington, its dangerous to stand between a preening politician and a camera, in Queens, it was scarier to stand between my parents and a principle, or a good deed.For us, the three Troy boys, Elaine was SuperMom. She ran the house. Dad worked two, then three jobs, and came home for a late second dinner after we had gone to bed. She ran the errands. None of us now fathom how she accomplished as much as she did in a day. And she ran our lives, but not in that stereotypical, heavy-handed, guilt-tripping way of the Jewish mother who cuts you down. Elaine built you up.She preached, Guilt is a wasted emotion. Essentially, her approach was stealthier: guilt by remote control. She and my father embedded within us expectations, standards, ethics and aspirations that kept us in line.Her philosophy boiled down to three words Be a mensch! a good person, always translated in gender-neutral terms, instinctively, not ostentatiously. She wanted us to be good, to do good, to feel good and to have good relationships. She took pride in our accomplishments and drove us hard with her subtle touch, looking for that missing point when we came home with 99s. But she was proudest of our life choices, the friends we made, the women we married, the kids we raised, the values we inherited, the Jewish lives we led and the good deeds we did.We joked, in Troyland nothing exceeds like excess. That wasnt about material possessions; we grew up on hand-me-downs. It was about welcoming people, connecting to people and collecting people. Just as they always had more room at our Shabbat table, my parents never rationed love or attention. Their hearts were muscles that grew ever-bigger from constant exercising. My mother had three sons and a string of friends and relatives we welcomed as the fourth son and the daughter mom never had. My parents had 11 biological grandchildren and multiple honorary grandkids too, because more is more.Her Torah cross-bred her mother Charlotte Steinhauss down-to-earth goodness with her father Leon Gersons more intellectual quest for mussar, morality. Being good, doing good, was a communal act, reflecting her love of Jewish tradition, her Zionism, and in later years, Adlerian psychology, which she said emphasized fixing relationships, not navel-gazing.As my mothers system shut down after months of struggle, she summed up her worldview: I tried to be a good person, she said, a mensch! I tried to be helpful. I tried to be joyful. I wasnt religious, but tradition and Yiddishkeit were always important to me. She died two days later.Born into the Great Depression, my parents were too young to be the Greatest Generation winning World War II and too old to be Baby Boomers revolutionizing the world. Theirs was the Responsible Generation, recovering from Depression and War to build good lives, guided by their inheritance: their parents expectations and the great books they valued.My parents also belonged to American Jewrys making it transition generation, immigrants kids who remained Jewishly traditional, loyal and just a bit foreign. My mother peppered her speech with colorful Yiddishisms and Americanisms. You didnt get upset, you plotzed. You didnt have enemies, they were choleyahs, choleras. You never had diversity, just a regulah United Nations. If you felt ignored you snapped, What am I, Oscars pet horse?As she lay dying, I discovered Moms 1955 wedding album. As Zionists, my parents knew what a profound statement of optimism and Jewish continuity building a Jewish home was 10 years after the Holocaust, and seven years into Israels existence.Although both families were modest, the photos made it look like a storybook wedding. Admittedly, my parents life together wasnt a fairytale. But rather than being trendy creatures of Facebook, they were shaped by the enduring values of the Good Book, the Bible, and the many other books they cherished. Im sure heaven is more crowded now, because Elaine Troy has entered with a vast librarys worth of good works, inspiring memories and favorite books. We remember her reading them and magically transforming them into torches, illuminating our lives, generating values, blazing the path from an old unstable, immigrant world to a new more secure one, teaching so many of us how to do good deeds, live good lives and be good people, mensches.

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Remembering my mother with a book, not as a cook - The Jerusalem Post

Love and Awe – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on March 5, 2020

Judaism Ahava - Love, Israel Museum

INN: TM

Love. Its about appreciation and admiration, about connection on the deepest level. Its about understanding and closeness almost to the point of unity. Love can bring us to a meeting of minds, to partnership.The Torah instructs us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might. But how does one come to love God? Maimonides explains that when one stands face to face with creation, with its intricacy and beauty, its exquisitely calibrated functionality, one cannot but fall in love with the Creator behind the creation. One cannot but become imbued with the most total adoration. One cannot but be swept away by an insatiable passion to understand and to search for intimacy with the Force behind it all.

But the closer one approaches, writes Maimonides, the greater the realization of the gulf between Creator and created. The more our love brings us to delve into the mysteries of His world, the more the awareness of His utter uniqueness and inapproachability envelops us. And we retreat in shame that we ever thought to consummate our love with One such as He. And then what we experience is otherness and distance.

At the same time that the Torah commands us concerning the love of God, it also commands us to experience this awe of the Ineffable. Both of these psychological states are essential to the properly balanced religious personality, and Maimonides seems to imply that ideally, our fate is to forever oscillate between the consciousness of love on the one hand, and the opposing consciousness of awe on the other.

It may be possible, however, to understand and experience the relationship between love of God and awe of God differently. Our Torah portion, Parshat Titzave, introduces us to the eight vestments of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. Strangely, the Torah does not present them together, but rather lists six at the outset of the parsha and delays the instruction concerning the remaining two until later. One of these two, the Tzitz, that gold plate engraved with the words Kodesh laShem, Holy unto God, which is to be fastened upon the forehead of the Cohen Gadol, commands the attention of the author of the Hasidic collection of homilies called Mei haShiloach.

By his very nature and by virtue of his status and calling, explains Mei haShiloach, the High Priest is awash in Awe of the Most High.The Tzitz, on the other hand, represents and engenders Devekut, which means intimacy, nigh near total connection. Devakut is about being so absolutely wrapped up in Him so as to leave almost no room for anything else. It is a matter of consummate love of God to the highest degree possible.The Tzitz is left for the end, says the Mei haShiloach, to indicate that what we have here is a process. Love follows awe, and supersedes it. The paralysis and distance born of awe must forever be left behind. The experience of an unbridgeable chasm between man and God is not one we are to live with forever. There comes a time in a mans life when the movement of recoiling from His presence is no longer to be cultivated in our psyche as a complement to love, but rather to be banished from consciousness.

But only at the end of a long process. Awe is a prerequisite. Love and intimacy that do not grow from awe as a plant from a seed are doomed to overstep their boundaries and lead to narcissism in which love of self masquerades as closeness to God. The dangers of such self deception are manifold. But after a lifetime of love counterbalanced by awe, there comes a time when we may allow that awe to be overwhelmed and vanquished by a sense of oneness with the One, of clinging to the Divine. Love shall then blossom to the exclusion of all else. Then we shall see with absolute clarity that our very selves and our deeds derive directly from Heaven, and we shall have no fear.

Torah MiTzion stands in the forefront of the battle for the future of the Jewish people in the Diaspora,offeringreligious-Zionist Torah scholarship to Jewish communities throughout the world to strengthen the bond between the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in Israel via the study of Torah.

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Love and Awe - Arutz Sheva


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