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Debating the IHRA and Anti-Semitism: Why the CIJA Lost – The Bullet – Socialist Project

Posted By on July 29, 2020

Anti-Racism July 27, 2020 Michelle Weinroth

For more than five years, and on numerous occasions, the Jewish anti-racist social justice organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) invited the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Canadas pro-Israel advocacy group to a public debate. But the latter rebuffed each of IJVs overtures. In recoiling consistently before the prospect of a confrontation with IJV, CIJA must have feared that in accepting to take up the challenge, its pro-Israel apologetics might be undermined. To engage directly with IJV would have meant yielding discursive space to dissenting Jewish voices, and opening itself up to some less-than-flattering public exposure. At worst, CIJAs talking points would be revealed for what they are: i.e., well-rehearsed fictions or nursery tales, refurbished for adult ears. At best, they would not persuade.

Israels longstanding occupation of Palestine, its merciless blockade of the Gaza strip, and not least its brutal Operation Protective Edge (2014) that slaughtered 100 Gazans per day over 4 weeks, had caused a shift in international public opinion from the romantic vision of Israel as a glorious miracle to the sordid reality of its settler colonialism. Defending the indefensible would not be easy for CIJA. For the fledgling IJV was, already at the time of Operation Protective Edge, steadily garnering public consent and legitimacy within Canada. Arguably, it could triumph over CIJA on the public stage. (Shades of the slight David outsmarting Goliath come to mind.)

CIJAs defeat was indeed the outcome of a virtual debate hosted by the Ryerson Centre for Free Expression on June 10, 2020 in which it finally faced off against IJV on the topic of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliances Working Definition of anti-Semitism (IHRA-WDA): i.e., on whether this definition serves to combat anti-Semitism or whether its aim is to stifle criticism of the State of Israel. The contending parties included IJV spokesperson Dr. Sheryl Nestel and Osgoode Hall law Professor Faisal Bhabha who denounced the IHRA definition, deeming it a cudgel of censorship, and Richard Marceau, Vice-President of CIJA, and Bernie Farber, former President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who argued in favour of it.

A number of indicators might serve to measure CIJAs defeat, but perhaps the clearest of all is the two-tiered reaction to Professor Faisal Bhabha for a statement he made in the course of an exchange with Bernie Farber. Arguing quite matter-of-factly and with utmost aplomb, Professor Bhabha opined that Zionism is fundamentally about Jewish Supremacy, not self-determination. What did he mean by this? He explained (time 34:46 35:11):

I am describing what I understand Zionism to be as an idea and as a practice, which is the suppression of Palestinian human rights for the purpose of ensuring Jewish supremacy, and it is exactly what is being protested against today in the United States against white supremacy I am equating white supremacy with Jewish supremacy. I think both are equally morally repugnant and deserve to be called out and spoken against.

Upon hearing this, both Bernie Farber and Richard Marceau were left tongue-tied, unable to counter Professor Bhabhas claim. When Sheryl Nestel weighed in, pointing to the Jewish Nation-State law as an instance of supremacy, Richard Marceau veered off topic with a classic what aboutery, in other words, with a red herring. Digressing from the central subject of discussion (i.e., the racist nature of Israels nation-state law), Marceau turned the audiences attention to the Palestinian Basic Law in order to establish an equation between Israel and Palestine. But the comparison offered was flawed, since the Palestinian Basic Law is merely an aspirational constitution in the absence of a veritable Palestinian state while Israels nation-state law is an enshrined statute in an actually existing state. By focussing on these lesser known questions, Marceau produced a distraction that essentially blocked discussion of the racist nature of the Israeli state.

The moderator soon brought the exchange to a close. In the end, Professor Bhabhas statement was never refuted. It was simply met with Richard Marceaus distracting digression and Bernie Farbers consternation.

But why did Professor Bhabhas statements provoke such dismay? Why did Richard Marceau cringe upon hearing this? And why did Bernie Farber feel the impact of Bhabhas words so viscerally? One can only assume that the word supremacy acted as a trigger for these two panelists. For them, the equation of Jewish supremacy with white supremacy must have conjured thoughts of Nazism. And yet, supremacy, simply means domination: i.e., the state or condition of being [or acting] superior to others, through positions of authority, power, or status.

But just as the pro-IHRA panelists appeared unable to dissociate white supremacy from recollections of Neo-Nazism and 20th-century German Nazism, so they could not discern any trace of supremacy in Zionism itself. They appeared blind to the flagrant racial domination embodied in countless Israeli state laws, and not least in the recently enacted nation-state law, which defines the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and treats 20 per cent of its population (i.e., the non-Jewish part) as second-class citizens.

When the state of Israel accords full democratic rights to its Jewish population but denies the non-Jewish population these same rights, is this not objectively speaking a form of ethnic/racial supremacy? When the Nation-State Law enshrines democratic rights for some, while depriving one fifth of its 9 million citizens these same rights, is the Zionist state not making manifest its specifically Jewish supremacy? Jewish identity is then deployed as the ethnically charged political tool to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were. Seen thus, supremacy is the objective descriptor for the self-assigned superiority of one societal group over another. In the state of Israel, the specific type of supremacy happens to be Jewish not because all Jews regard themselves as superior human beings, but because the Nation-State law establishes this idea by fiat. Together, then, the two words add up to what Professor Bhabha calls Jewish supremacy.

So why were Bernie Farber and Richard so startled by Professor Bhabhas stated views? Perhaps because they experienced a certain Zionist fragility (Farber said in response that it curdled [his] innards) in confronting the darker (read racist) side of Zionism, such as the ethnic-cleansing that was part of the formation of the Israeli state and continues to define its colonial policies of occupation. Perhaps these two panelists required more time to digest this unpleasant truth. But in the heat of the exchange, they could not effectively refute Professor Bhabhas argument. They had no compelling counterpoint to offer.

If reaction to Professor Bhabhas remarks within the debate was halting and feeble, the response to it from outside the debate was aggressive and hasty. It took little or no time some days at most for Bnai Brith to flex its muscle and drag the statement out into the street, just as Achilles dragged the heroic Hector on the ground with senseless cruelty. In so doing, the pro-Israel lobby bastardized the true intent of the professors statement, prising it from its context, and smearing it. As if to rescue CIJA from public shame, Bnai Brith sought to disgrace the Osgoode Hall law professor by petitioning (nay, pressuring) the president of York University, Rhonda Lenton, to discipline him.

Was Bnai Brith summoned by CIJA to offer this extravagant reinforcement or did Bnai Brith intervene unsolicited as a deus ex machina to salvage the wreckage that the CIJA spokespersons had left in their wake? Either way, the attack on Professor Bhabha confirmed his stated point (and this despite accusations of fear-mongering leveled at him by Bernie Farber and Richard Marceau) that the IHRA definition is dangerous if adopted into law or policy, especially on university campuses, because it would result in the suppression of free speech, the demonisation of Palestinian human rights defenders, and the spread of Islamophobia.

Whether taken as an official guideline or as the voice of Zionist common sense, the IHRA-DWA can and will be invoked to forbid anyone, on penalty of vilification, from naming Israel a racist state even as a plethora of evidence shows that the Zionist colonizing agenda rests on a dehumanizing treatment of Palestinians, on an ongoing history of ethnic cleansing. The IHRA-WDA is indeed a dangerous document; its repressive force can be readily applied with or without a legal stamp. Its deceptively innocent, confused, and thus treacherous examples of anti-Semitism are in fact prohibitions and veiled threats against free speech, masquerading as educational guidelines. So while it has not been enacted as law in Canada, the dominant discourses surrounding the IHRA-WDA, and the organizations that have collaborated to enshrine it, have granted the Israel Lobby justification to apply it avant la lettre.

Nor will the IHRA-WDA eliminate anti-Semitism. In fact, it threatens to further anti-Semitism by incorporating in its definition racist stereotypes of Jews. Such stereotypes would simply fuel anti-Semitic hatred among the Alt-Right communities. In addition, the IHRA-WDA would target the outspoken anti-Zionist critic. It would act as a green light, an order from above, to incite mob anger against those who are openly critical of the Zionist state. Professor Bhabha would be one of these targets. He thus argues (time 35:1235:27) that the reason [he] oppose[s] the IHRA definition is because it turns [him] into an anti-Semite for expressing statements of solidarity with formerly colonized and currently colonized people of the world.

Considered in hindsight, Bnai Briths use of heavy artillery against Professor Bhabha suggests that CIJA left the debate in a weakened state, unable to defend its position independently of some external reinforcement. But even the Bnai Brith could not rescue CIJA from its defeat; it thus resorted to violating Professor Bhabhas professional integrity.

Aggressive political conduct is not restricted to the deeds of lobby groups; it is also discernible in modes of speech, in the particular political discourse wielded by advocacy groups. Those who have lost, or are poised on losing an argument, resort to slurs, ad hominems and patronizing put-downs. This was patently obvious in the IHRA debate (at 44:31-45:03) when Richard Marceau engaged in mansplaining Sheryl Nestel. As the debate drew to a close, his sanctimonious rhetoric intensified and his reactions to Sheryl Nestels arguments waxed supercilious and particularly demeaning. His remarks suggested that Sheryl Nestel and her organization, IJV, are not real Jews, do not feel the horror of anti-Semitism, and ought to be dismissed. These inferences amounted to a racist slur. But for all this, Richard Marceau could not unsettle Sheryl Nestels dignity and composure. She remained flawless in her adherence to the facts and in her ethical appeal to principles of honest and fair debate.

Some might interpret Richard Marceaus behaviour as compensatory, as an unseemly substitute for convincing arguments. In the absence of a robust thesis, he resorted to grossly misrepresenting the views of Sheryl Nestel and Professor Bhabha, and lamenting the mistreatment of Israel. Dwelling on Jewish suffering, he exploited for rhetorical ends the received notion that Anti-Semitism is the longest hatred. His implied meaning, one can only conclude, is that the victimization of Jews is the most significant in the world, standing apart from all other hatreds as an enduring and absolute victimhood. In the context of the IHRA-WDA debate, Richard Marceaus use of this phrase only served to exceptionalize anti-Semitism as the ultimate racism; and the result of this distinction is nothing short of racism itself. For tacitly it privileges Jewish pain over the pain of all other groups.

In another instance, he stated that Israel is always unfairly subjected to double standards. Here, too, he assigned exceptionality to Jews, this time by proxy, through the depiction of Israel as a singular victim. By referring to a longstanding history of Jewish persecution from Antiquity to the 20th century, he applied a logic of association to demonstrate that Israel is being targeted and subjected to the most flagrant double standards in world affairs. And this double standard, he alleged, is the source of a new anti-Semitism. But nothing could be further from the truth. Israel is a highly privileged state; it has the powerful backing of the US, the UK, and France, among others. Richard Marceaus plaintive claim that there is an unfair double standard applied to Israel merely serves to obscure the preferential treatment that the Jewish nation-state actually receives from the US and from Europe. His grievance over double standards is, simply put, pure double speak.

Finally, when asked about Israels settler colonialism, Richard Marceau quite blithely declared that Jews did not colonize Palestine but fled from Europe. They were all refugees, impoverished and desperate. There was no colonization, only flight and a search for a safe haven. Such an assertion betrays either ignorance or a denial of history, specifically of the Jewish National Funds colonizing agenda and the role it played in brutally expelling Palestinians from their villages, both in the pre-and post-1948 period. The key agents of Zionist colonization (Theodore Herzl, Chaim Weizman, Yossi Weitz, Israel Zangwell and not least David Ben-Gurion) were all variously involved in promoting and carrying out the colonization of Palestine on clearing the land for Jewish settlement. Each of these Zionists believed in expulsions of the Arab population so as to establish an 80 per cent demographic majority of Jews.

Scholarly literature has amply documented these historical realities. But Richard Marceaus barren arguments eschew the facts. As Sheryl Nestel politely pointed out to him in the debate, those who adamantly defend Israels statehood, denying its supremacy over Palestinians and other stigmatized groups, and who refuse to look beyond their own pro-IHRA-WDA discourse, would do well to give increased attention and respect to the arguments of their opponents, to the words of dissenting Jews and non-Jews, persons that CIJA and their ilk repudiate as irrelevant outliers. With this quietly stated advice, she was, in effect, exhorting pro-Israel apologists to see the IHRA-WDA for what it is: a weapon of censorship, falsely touted as an educative tool and forged to protect an ethnocratic state from justified criticism. Beyond this, the document, as Professor Bhabha warned, would likely breed more hatred, affecting Jews and non-Jews alike. Still, the pro-Israel panelists would not open their ears to the cautionary tale of dissenting voices. In this they lost more than a debate; they lost the opportunity to combat new waves of racism that the IHRA-WDA will certainly spawn, should it spread into the halls of legislative power.

Michelle Weinroth is a writer and teacher living in Ottawa.

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Debating the IHRA and Anti-Semitism: Why the CIJA Lost - The Bullet - Socialist Project

McCarthyite witch-hunt over alleged anti-Semitism explodes in British Labour Party – WSWS

Posted By on July 29, 2020

By Chris Marsden 29 July 2020

Sir Keir Starmer has launched a witch-hunt against the left, in the Labour Party and beyond, of unprecedented scope.

He leads an alliance of Blairite Labour MPs, Zionist groups, the Conservative Party, and the mainstream media, intent on driving out what remains of the official Labour left, expelling hundreds, if not thousands, of members, setting up former party leader Jeremy Corbyn and others for legal prosecution, bankruptcy and worse, and is planning the same for various left-leaning websites.

In the process, political opposition to the criminal suppression of the Palestinians by Israel will be officially recast as a form of anti-Semitism, slandering, and virtually outlawing, a vast swathe of left-wing opinion. The only disagreement within this unprincipled cabal, given that it extends into Tory central office and has the support of Benjamin Netanyahus far-right government, is whether the entire Labour Party should be bankrupted in the process.

On Wednesday, July 22, Labour apologised in the High Court to seven former staffers from Labours governance and legal unit, involved in investigating accusations of anti-Semitism, who became whistleblowers in a July 2019 BBC Panorama documentary, Is Labour Anti-Semitic? A letter of apology was sent to BBC journalist and Panorama presenter John Ware. Undisclosed financial compensation was made to the whistleblowers and to Ware, reported to be worth around 500,000.

Under Corbyn, the party had issued a press release immediately after the Panorama programme aired, that Labour now accepted, contained defamatory and false allegations about the seven whistleblowers. We unreservedly withdraw all allegations of bad faith, malice and lying. We would like to apologise unreservedly for the distress, embarrassment and hurt caused by their publication.

Corbyn and the former party leadership had rejected the accusations made in the Panorama programme that they had shown a lack of commitment to investigating charges of anti-Semitism levelled against Labour members. A party spokesman had called the whistleblowers disaffected former officials, who had worked actively to undermine Corbyn and had both personal and political axes to grind.

They described the Panorama programme as a seriously inaccurate, politically one-sided polemic, which breached basic journalistic standards, invented quotes and edited emails to change their meaning.

Labour has been investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into its handling of anti-Semitism allegations under Corbyn. A report was commissioned by Labours former General Secretary Jennie Formby to be submitted as evidence to the EHRC, but which was blocked by the partys lawyers. This internal report was leaked in April. It accused the Panorama whistleblowers of bad faith in their charges made against Corbyns leadership and insisted that all accusations of anti-Semitism had been pursued once Corbyns team had control of the partys governance and legal unit. The report referred to a hyper factional atmosphere of hostility towards Corbyn in Labours head office.

With Starmer having accepted all the allegations made against Labour, Corbynas his opponents would have anticipatedwas forced to respond, insisting in a Facebook post, The Partys decision to apologise today and make substantial payments to former staff who sued the party in relation to last years Panorama programme is a political decision, not a legal one.

Our legal advice was that the party had a strong defence, and the evidence in the leaked Labour report that is now the subject of an NEC [National Executive Committee] inquiry led by Martin Forde QC strengthened concerns about the role played by some of those who took part in the programme.

Others, including Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite trade union, voiced criticisms. McCluskey tweeted, Todays settlement is a misuse of Labour Party funds to settle a case it was advised we would win in court.

A fresh round of legal action was swiftly announced, instigated by Ware, the seven whistleblowers, and by some of those named in the leaked internal Labour Party report commissioned by Formby. Mark Lewis of Patron Law, representing Ware and the whistleblowers, said, I can confirm that I have been instructed to pursue cases. Wednesdays settlement, he said, was the first battle of many battles. The leaked Formby report had seriously harmed a whole list of people and would now also have to be challenged in the court.

The findings of the EHRC are due to be published in September, after which many of those named in the leaked report and other Jewish members would be entitled to bring discrimination cases against Labour, citing personal injury. Each of these claims can be for an upper limit of 47,000. The Jewish Chronicle has reported that the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement is considering bringing a class action against Labour, on behalf of its members, if the EHRC report finds they have been discriminated against.

The internal party inquiry into the leaked report, led by Martin Forde QC, will also no doubt become an occasion for condemning its authors.

For Patron Law, Lewis revealed that former Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol is already suing the party over the leaked report, adding, There are many other people who are named in the report, they come under different categories: people who work for the party, people who were in the party in political positions.

Claims covering the Data Protection Act, invasion of privacy, and libel have already been submitted. Estimates of the potential costs of various cases, encompassing more than 50 individuals, range from 5.5 million to 8 million.

Corbyn is being personally targeted. The Mail on Sunday reported that some of the ex-party staff would drop their legal action against Labour if Corbyn were to be expelled. A source said, Labour says they have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism. Zero tolerance means no Corbyn and no Corbynistas. Its Keirs choice, zero tolerance, or zero money.

Campaign Against Anti-Semitism chief executive Gideon Falter has also called for Corbyns suspension or expulsion for gaslighting the whistleblowers he bullied for standing up to Jew-hatred.

Corbyn already faces a legal case based on allegations of anti-Semitism. On July 10, blogger Richard Millett won the first stage of a libel case against Corbyn for claiming that Zionists in the audience at a 2013 meeting featuring Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, lacked English irony and were disruptive and abusive.

Mr Justice Saini ruled that Corbyn was making factual allegations as to Mr Milletts behaviour. By then, Millett had been publicly identified as one of the two individuals referred to by Corbyn on BBC1s Andrew Marr Show in September 2018 while defending his 2013 comments from claims of anti-Semitism. Millett, too, is represented by Lewis, of Patron Law.

Starmer had already begun purging the few remaining Corbynites from the party leadership before making his apology to the Panorama whistleblowers. He dismissed Rebecca Long-Bailey as Shadow Education Secretary for retweeting comments by actress Maxine Peake that were critical of Israel. Peake had pointed out that Israeli security forces trained US police in the restraint techniques that led to the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, did not even need to be expelled. He quit after the Jewish Labour Movement demanded his resignation for an old Facebook message describing Zionism as a dangerous nationalist idea.

This is nothing compared with what is to come. The legal and political witch-hunt will extend far beyond Corbyn and his immediate periphery and prepare the machinery for a more ferocious onslaught on any socialist movement of workers and young people. Lewis for Patron Law warned, This is just the start. Actions are being taken against those who repeat the libels and will be taken against those who choose to do so in future. An honest opinion has to be based upon facts.

On July 23, John Ware wrote in the Jewish Chronicle, in which he has a commercial interest, of a year-long fusillade of falsehoods from a stream of Left wing bloggers, media activists, Labours people powered Momentum faction, and alt-Left outletsall of whom share a conviction that the mainstream media is fundamentally dishonest.

Acknowledging an unwritten code that says we journalists should never sue because however offensive or defamatory criticism of our journalism may be, we hold free speech sacrosanct, he continued, It was a rule with which for decades I agreed. I no longer do. That is why my proceedings against Labour are only the first of several I have begun against alternative media outlets and individuals.

Ware cited the then Chair of Momentum Jon Lansman, pro-Corbyn alt-Left outlets, notably Skwawkbox and the Canary, and more mainstream journalists who should have known bettersuch as Owen Jones, the Guardian columnist.

Lansman has already issued a public apology effectively blaming Corbyn for statements he (Lansman) made, because they were based on the partys advice and assurances.

This orgy of McCarthyite slanders must be opposed by all workers and young people. This includes defending Corbyn and others facing legal censurea crowdfunding appeal for Corbyn has already raised over 300,000.

But opposing this right-wing offensive cannot be left under the leadership of Corbyn and his allies. The working class has already paid a bitter price for the glorification of the Corbynites as a supposedly socialist alternative by pseudo-left groups such as the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party.

Even as the Blairite right and their Zionist and Tory allies prepare for all-out war, Corbyn, McDonnell, Long-Bailey, et al. remain tight-lipped in the faint hope of a compromise on the rights termsincluding allowing ordinary Labour members to be expelled or driven out of the party.

Corbyn is absolutely opposed to any political struggle by workers and young people against the Labour and trade union bureaucracy. He stands for a policy of death by a thousand compromises. That he now faces a personal attack of such magnitude is because he spent his four and a half years as party leader demobilising opposition to the Blairites and bowing to their every dictateincluding granting free votes on war against Syria and the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme, dropping opposition to NATO, and instructing Labour councils to impose Tory austerity cuts. In the process he delivered an electoral victory to Boris Johnson, before meekly handing back control of the party to the representative of the right wing, Starmer.

Corbyns refusal to oppose the Zionist and Blairite rights anti-Semitism witch-hunt epitomises his political cowardice and lack of principle. He allowed some of his closest allies to be driven from the partyincluding Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, and Chris Williamsonon trumped up charges, along with hundreds of other members. Moreover, his endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)s designation of legitimate political criticism of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism, and its inclusion in Labours new code of practice, has fashioned the noose his opponents intend to hang him with.

Even now, the message of unity with the right wing remains the same. Responding to the sacking of Long-Bailey, for example, McCluskey complained, Unity is too important to be risked like this. Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner tweeted, Sacking her is wrong and undermines unity in our Party.

The working class must respond to the witch-hunt by striking out on a new political road.

Corbyns abject betrayal of his popular mandate to end the Blairite era of austerity and imperialist militarism and take the fight to the Tories and the ruling class was predicted by the Socialist Equality Party. Basing itself of Trotskys writings from the 1920s onwards, the SEP explained that the role of the Labour and trade union lefts has always been to ensure the domination of the right wing.

Today, moreover, no change of leader, or influx of left-leaning members, could reverse Labours transformation into a naked party of big business. Labours abandonment of reforms and embrace of Thatcherite neoliberalism was not the product of the scheming of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Rather, fundamental changes within world capitalism associated with globalisation have objectively undermined all organisations embedded in the nation state and seeking limited reforms through an accommodation with their own bourgeoisie.

The conflict between rival imperialist powers for control of global markets and resources demands trade war and militarism abroad and austerity, authoritarianism, and class war at home. Combatting the agents of this capitalist perspective such as Starmer and his allies, therefore, demands far more than trench warfare to maintain a left rump within the Labour Party. It means building a new leadership, the SEP, to take forward a revolutionary struggle against capitalism and for socialism.

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McCarthyite witch-hunt over alleged anti-Semitism explodes in British Labour Party - WSWS

Guess What? Not All Jews are the Same Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News

Posted By on July 29, 2020

Like many regular readers of the Jewish News, I recently came across what later turned out to be a controversial interview with Rep. Rashida Tlaib published on this very website.

Not for a single moment did it cross my mind while reading it that the mere decision to interview her was in and of its own problematic, let alone outrageous or shameful, as some readers suggested.

In fact, the more polarizing a topic is I naively thought the more important it is to put it on the table, examine it from all possible angles and let unpleasant opinions surface, rather than swipe them under the carpet.

This is not to say that freedom of speech shouldnt have its limits. Yes, its a difficult task to determine where exactly those limits should pass, but allow me to not deteriorate into Godwins Law by saying straightforwardly: Interviewing Ms. Tlaib falls well within acceptable boundaries.

Pull out your Jew-O-Meter

Correct me if Im wrong, but Tlaib is serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigans 13th Congressional district, which includes the western half of Detroit, along with several of its western suburbs. This means that she, as a politician, has a direct influence on the people living in those areas, among whom are you guessed it Jews, even if they happen to disagree with her.

If you are rolling your eyes now, mumbling to yourself that I must be one of those self-hating Jews, allow me to add fuel to your fire.

A brief glance at my CV will reveal an Israeli, secular, atheist, left-leaning Jew who willingly chose to relocate to Germany, which means your ready-to-pull Jew-O-Meter will show a terrible score when grading my Jewishness. Maybe youll immediately dismiss my claims.

But wait a second, not so fast. I served in an IDF combat unit; volunteered for 1.5 years with Israels Shnat Sherut scouting program before my three-year military service; will serve in the army reserves until Im 45; and was a member of a Zionist youth movement my entire childhood. That must give me some extra points.

Oh, actually, you know what, never mind. I avoid buying anything produced in settlements, vote for a party which includes Arab lawmakers and have some Palestinian friends with whom believe it or not I actually agree on many issues. Guess my Jew-O-Meter grade got lowered again.

The point is clear: Much to many bigots surprise, it turns out that Jews are, after all, humans, and as such they also have different opinions even especially when it comes to controversial issues, such as the mere existence of Israel, its relationship with the U.S., its settlement policy or the BDS movement, to name but a few.

Walking among us are also Jews who seem to be, heaven forbid, socialists. Others are apparently capitalists even Libertarian. Some support BDS, while others are fiercely against it; some live in settlements, others question their right to exist; some denounce Antifa, others are Antifa protesters themselves; some are proudly Zionist, others refer to themselves as anti-Zionists with the exact same pride. Such diversity! Who would have thought?

Not one layer

Indeed, as such diverse individuals, it should come as no surprise that some Jewish readers saw the interview with Rep. Tlaib as a shocking and appalling decision, as they made sure to clarify in their letters to the editor. No doubt it is their absolute right to hold such opinion. Others were grateful, however, calling the discussion necessary and labelling Tlaib as a righteous person.

It seems like Jews hold so many varying opinions, as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore. You could almost conclude that each Jew is an individual with their own beliefs and values a revolutionary concept our greatest haters would love to dismiss. Do not give them that pleasure. We are not one layer defined solely by our Judaism.

I and I believe you, too would rather live in a world where both an article featuring a Muslim woman politician who doesnt mince words criticizing Israel and the fierce reactions to that article can find a home in a Jewish media outlet, than in a world where neither is possible.

Dana Regev is an Israeli-born journalist who reports on global affairs for Deutsche Welle in Germany and is a contributor to the Jewish News

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Guess What? Not All Jews are the Same Detroit Jewish News - The Jewish News

Which one-state solution are we talking about and why? –

Posted By on July 29, 2020

(July 28, 2020 / JNS) Words matter. But like so much of the discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what one word means to progressive American Jews often means something entirely different to Palestinians. This can lead to confusion, at best, and bloodshed, at worst.

For example, as previously postedhere, most progressive American-Jewish commentators and Palestinians call for an end to the Israeli occupation.

But by occupation, most progressive Jews mean Israels control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). For most Palestinians, on the other hand, ending the occupation means the liberating of historic Palestine from the river to the sea (the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea), in other words, all of present-day Israel. The difference in interpretation of the word occupation is of existential significance.

A similar conflict has recently arisen regarding the meaning of the term one-state solution.

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In a shockingop-edin The New York Times, titled I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State, Peter Beinart, political commentator and prodigal son of Zionism, suddenly abandoned his long-standing support for a two-state solution to the conflict (independent Jewish and Palestinian states). Instead, he called for the replacement of the State of Israel with a bi-national state populated by both Jews and Palestinians living equally, he imagines, in harmony under a benevolent democratic regime.

In a longerarticlein Jewish Currentsfrom which the Times op-ed was condensedBeinart waxes poetic in his portrait of the kumbaya state of Israel-Palestine. He imagines a country where on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish and Palestinian co-presidents lower a flag at Yad Vashem as an imam delivers the Islamic prayer for the dead, while a similar memorial ceremony is held at the site of the future Museum of the nakba with a rabbi reciting the Jewish prayer for the dead.

It all sounds so promising.

However, critics, including this author, previouslyhave demonstrated that Beinarts vision of a peaceful bi-national state is delusional, given the more than a century of Arab efforts to annihilate the Jewish State through relentless wars, horrific terrorism and single-minded ethnic cleansing.

This article will focus on the manner in which Beinarts version of a bi-national state differs dramatically from the Palestinian version, just as is the case with the meaning of the term occupation discussed above.

In his call for a bi-national state, Beinart references Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian-American writer based in Washington, D.C. Munayyer has been advocating for a one-state solution long before Beinart awoke to the idea.

In his seminalarticleThere Will Be a One-State Solution, But What Kind of State Will It Be?Munayyer sets forth his vision for a single state that departs significantly from Beinarts view. Rather than being grounded in equality, as is Beinarts, Munayyers state is founded on retribution or what he calls restorative justice.

He insists on a constitution that would recognize the wrongs done to Palestinian refugees and begin a process to repatriate and compensate them.

Munayyer emphasizes that the new state would need a truth-and-reconciliation process focused on restorative justice and that for inspiration, it could look to past efforts in South Africa and Rwanda.

Taking the truth-and-reconciliation process from South Africa as a model, as Munayyer does, gives serious cause for concern. That process included a restorative justice court where victims of human-rights abuses sought reparations, and the alleged perpetrators of abuses could seek amnesty from civil and criminal prosecution.

The results of South Africas truth-and-reconciliation process are mixed. However, the mere analogizing of Israels vibrant democracy with the horrific institutional system of apartheid (a common ploy of anti-Zionists) is far-fetchedandodious. The prospect of Israeli political leaders, academics and military officers, not to mention ordinary citizens, standing before a South Africa-style truth-and-reconciliation court in an effort to restore justice does not bode well for the proposed one-state formula.

Of course, at the end of the day, Beinarts solution to the conflict is nothing more than a progressive Upper West Side Jews pipe dream, and would normally warrant little attention. However, his screed has crossed an otherwise impregnable red line that threatens to spread if left un-quarantined.

Prior to Beinarts conversion, even to question the legitimacy of the Jewish State was considered beyond the pale. Everyone, including Beinart, respected that red line (questioning Israels existence as a Jewish State is akin to spitting in the face of people I love). But Beinart now concedes that he has crossed that red line.

The current question is whether Jewish leaders and organizations will normalize Beinarts heresy by giving him a platform to spread his message of destruction. Will the matter of Israels very survival become part of the normal conversation in civilized discourse?

Shortly after Beinarts op-ed was published in The Times, he appeared in conversation with a leading rabbi on the Jewish Broadcasting Service. The moderator expressly refused to vilify Beinart, treating him quite deferentially and inviting him back to discuss his position further.

In sharp contrast, the noted historian Daniel Gordiswho had previously debated Beinart on numerous occasions, and even shared a podcast with himdeclared Beinart to be a traitor to the Jewish people and a pariah.

Gordis stated emphatically, after the Times piece appeared, that he would refuse to appear on the same stage with Beinart from now on.

Beinart, of course, is free to say whatever he wants to whomever will listen to him. The rest of us, however, are equally free to refuse to normalize a conversation about terminating the only Jewish state in the world.

Steve Frank is an attorney, retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel and Moment magazine.

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The Real War on Free Speech – Jewish Currents

Posted By on July 29, 2020

TWO WEEKS AGO, an open letter published in Harpers Magazine and signed by more than 150 public figures, most of them writers or academics, ignited a new round of debate over cancel culture and its discontents. The letter portrayed freedom of expression in the United States as dangerously imperiled: We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. A week later, Bari Weiss, one of the letters high-profile signatories, resigned her position at the New York Times op-ed desk and self-published her resignation letter. Echoing the Harpers letter, Weisss statement decried an increasingly illiberal environment in public discourse writ large and at the Times in particular. She wrote that her colleaguesand the publichave become unwilling to accommodate views that dont adhere to the new orthodoxy.

Yet, as some critics have noted, Weiss has a long history of claiming to support free speech while trying to curtail the speech of Palestinian rights advocates, from her college days through her years at the Times. And she is not the only signatory of the Harpers letter who has sought to silence those with whom she disagrees. Cary Nelson, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, is a prominent opponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has written extensively about the need to combat anti-Zionist scholarship in the name of academic freedom.

These figures attempts to shut down speech while advocating for free speech are certainly hypocritical. But more importantly, their failure to recognize the tension between their free speech advocacy on the one hand, and their pro-Israel advocacy on the other, reveals an unwillingness to reckon with the relationship between speech and power. What [the Harpers] letter is missing is the power dynamics, said Radhika Sainath, a senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, where she oversees the nonprofit organizations casework on free speech, academic freedom, and censorship. The real problem is the problem of the state coming down on people who are speaking out on Israel/Palestine.

Weiss and Nelson not only rigorously police the boundaries of acceptable discourse while simultaneously lamenting that the boundaries have become too narrow; they do so with far more cultural, financial, and even governmental support than the Palestinian rights advocates they seek to silence or the Black Lives Matter activists whose perceived excesses they lament. What their exclusive focus on the boundaries of acceptable debate obscures is the very real threats to political speech in the USespecially speech in support of Palestinian rightsand how their own efforts give rhetorical cover to those threats.

For more than a decade, Israel-advocacy organizations have employed the rhetoric of free speech and academic freedom to shut down criticism of Israeli government policies in the public sphere, and especially on university campuses. Through accusations of incivility or insufficient objectivity, these organizations and those who work with them have attempted to and at times succeeded in blocking hires, denying tenure, and even getting people fired. Now, with backing from the Trump administration, this crusade against support for Palestinian rights has morphed from an effective public relations strategy, which relied on public pressure for results, into a concrete framework for government assaults on free speechfrom the anti-BDS laws sweeping state legislatures to the executive order designating criticisms of Israeli government policy as forms of anti-Jewish discrimination.

Using a tactic perfected by Israel-advocacy groups like the Lawfare Project, which have been spearheading this legal campaign, both Weiss and Nelson have long framed their own Israel-advocacy efforts as attempts to protect free speech, rather than to limit it. As an undergraduate at Columbia University in the mid-aughts, Weiss co-founded a group named Columbians for Academic Freedom; supported by outside Israel-advocacy organizations like the David Project and Campus Watch, it claimed that combatting a supposed anti-Israel bias in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department would lead to a freer academic climate. In a 2018 Twitter thread, Weiss said that she never advocated for any professors to be fired while in college and that she had simply exercised her own right to free speech. However, Columbians for Academic Freedom did demand that the administration change the departments curriculum and make it easier to file complaints against professors, measures that would have affected certain scholars responsibilities and duties, as well as their future job prospects. The New York Civil Liberties Union said that the students crusade jeopardized academic freedom.

As an undergraduate, Weiss also asked for invitations to controversial speakers to be rescinded. In one case, she wrote an op-ed for The Columbia Spectator about a proposed event featuring then-President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, arguing that condoning hate is not an academic exercisethe same argument that campus activists often make today when advocating against invitations to controversial speakers, and which Weiss often criticizes. (Weiss did not respond to requests for comment for this article.)

Cary Nelson, an outspoken opponent of the BDS movement in academia, has also justified his activism on the grounds that it bolsters academic freedom. Nelson defended the University of Illinois trustees 2014 decision to deny tenure to Palestinian-American scholar Steven Salaita, and he has written extensively about what he sees as the pernicious effects of anti-Zionist scholars on the academic climate. In his articles and booksmost recently Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism & the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State (2019)Nelson charges that prominent anti-Zionist academics, such as Jasbir Puar, Saree Makdisi, and Judith Butler, have engaged in pseudo-scholarship, and that the ferocity of anti-Zionist convinction in their books and essays unfortunately means that they often cross the line to anti-Semitism. In a related essay titled The Devils Intersectionality: Contemporary Cloaked Antisemitism, Nelson argues that these anti-Zionist scholars, alongside the BDS movement, are making rational dialogue impossible. For Nelson, its not only these scholars alleged antisemitism that threatens academic freedom but their lack of objectivity and irrationality. In an interview last week, Nelson said he thinks anti-Zionism is a political perspective that people have a right to. But, he added, I think they can still be judged about whether they are rational, if their politics carries over into their teaching and research.

This line of argument is a common one. Accusations of insufficient objectivity or rationality are often wielded against Palestinian, Arab, and anti-Zionist scholars, especially those whose work relates to Israel/Palestine, as a way to silence them, framing political grievance as concern for academic standards. In 2007, for instance, Palestinian American anthropologist Nadia Abu el-Haj won a bitter battle for tenure at Barnard College after an intense alumni campaign attempted to discredit her work, including her book Facts on the Ground, which explored how Israel uses archaeology in order to bolster its exclusive claim to territory in Israel/Palestine. Weiss complained about Abu el-Hajs tenure in an op-ed for Haaretz, framing her concern as an objective evaluation of Abu el-Hajs scholarship rather than a political disagreement. This is not just another round between the Zionists and the anti-Zionists, she wrote. This is about the nature of truth, and the possibility of, well, facts themselves.

But who gets to be objective, and who does not, is a function of power; it is, in other words, political. In light of the significant power differentials between Israel-advocacy organizations and grassroots Palestinian rights activists, its hardly surprising that strong political commitments are almost never disqualifying for Zionist academics, or that Zionist academics ability to be rational is rarely systematically questioned like that of their Palestinian, Arab, and anti-Zionist peers. Nelson himself has clear ideological commitmentsthe final chapter of Israel Denial is devoted to A Proposal to Rescue the Two-State Paradigm. Yet Nelson does not see his own Israel advocacy or his commitment to a two-state solution as a sign that he lacks the necessary distance or objectivity to participate in scholarly debate. Likewise, at Columbia, Weiss argued that professors in the MEALAC department lacked the requisite objectivity to teach and imbued their learning environment with incivility. Yet her side had its own ideological agenda and its own disruptive tactics. A Columbia University panel convened to assess the charges levied by Weisss group found no evidence that any professors had issued antisemitic statements; it did find, however, that pro-Israel students had heckled professors during classes and lectures on Middle East studies and were partially to blame for a lack of civility on campus.

The Harpers letter signatories are not wrong that there is a war on political speech in the US. But its not the one most of them have in mind. It is, instead, the one in which Weiss, Nelson, and other anti-BDS partisans are active participants, fighting on the rhetorical front in tandem with a well-funded, state-aligned apparatus working to make support for BDS and anti-Zionism not only unacceptable but illegal. They have already won significant victories. Across the US, 32 states have enacted legislation banning or restricting boycotts in support of Palestinian rights. In North Carolina, the federal government threatened to defund the joint Duke-UNC Middle East studies consortium after Israel-advocacy groups complained about the speakers at an academic conference on Gaza. The US governments adoption of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitismwhich equates anti-Zionism with antisemitism and designates criticism of Israeli policy as forms of anti-Jewish discrimination under Title VIhas emboldened an entire network of Israel-advocacy groups that file legal complaints against Palestine-related events on campuses, sometimes even before they have happened.

What the free speech and cancel culture discourse advanced by the Harpers letter obfuscates, then, is how signatories like Weiss and Nelson use that rhetoric in political struggles with very real, material consequences. Indeed, while the letters signatories locate cancel culture in the virtual realm of social media, conjuring the image of the mob, Israel-advocacy organizationsincluding those that Weiss and Nelson have worked withare using terms like free speech and academic freedom to shut down real-life events on university campuses and to turn the legal apparatus of government against supporters of Palestinian rights.

Mari Cohen is an assistant editor at Jewish Currents.

Joshua Leifer is an assistant editor at Jewish Currents.

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The Real War on Free Speech - Jewish Currents

Friends of Zion Hosts Leaders From Around The World To Promote The Relations Between Israel And Christian Communities Across The Globe – WFMZ…

Posted By on July 29, 2020

JERUSALEM, July 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Friends of Zion Museum hosted the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus for the relaunch for the 23rd Knesset, which was broadcast worldwide to millions of followers on social media.

Speakers at the event included: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Founder and International Chairman of the Friends of Zion Museum Dr. Mike Evans, Israel Allies Foundation President and KCAC Director Josh Reinstein, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and KCAC Chair MK Sharren Haskel, MK Gideon Saar, MK Bogie Ya'alon, US Congressman Doug Lamborn, Australian Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert, Guatemalan Congressman Fidel Reyes Lee and Nigerian MP N. Ossai.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the event: "Over the years, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus has helped bolster the ties between Jews and Christians. My government remains dedicated to working together with our Christian friends from across the globe to further enhance the partnership between us, and I welcome this initiative in continuing to strengthen even further the bridge between Israel's Knesset and Christian leadership worldwide.

"Earlier this year, President Trump publicly launched his vision for peace. The American plan has the potential to overcome past failures by offering the Palestinians the path of peace and reconciliation and allowing us to reach the secure borders that Israeli governments have long sought. The plan also acknowledges that Jewish people are not foreign occupiers in Judea and Samaria, areas that are also an integral part of your Christian identity and of our common heritage."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "I am proud that the United States and Israel have never been closer than they are today. What we have accomplished over the last three years was almost unimaginable then, President Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the reality that the holy city is and always will be Israel's capital. We recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan. I was honored to be in Jerusalem on the day that policy was announced. We told the truth, that Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank are not per say inconsistent with international law. We've championed the President's vision for peace, it's the best and most realistic path forward to end the bloodshed between Israel and the Palestinian people, and to achieve enduring security, freedom and prosperity for both sides. There is one moment that I will never forget as a diplomat, as an American, and as a Christian praying at the Western Wall with the Prime Minister of Israel. It showed the strength of this alliance. The American Christian support for Zion is unshakeable and we are proud to stand by our brothers and sisters in Israel."

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman: "We are in desperate need of unity. Israel faces challenges like never before. It is the only one nation that is still called upon to defend its right to exist, whether from the far right or the far left, whether from radical Shia Islamists to radical Sunni. People who cannot agree on anything else seem to find common ground in attacking, vilifying and ultimately seeking to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. But, Israel thank God is not alone, in the Christian community it has found true friendship, support and trust. Hundreds of millions of Christian Zionists now stand proudly with Israel and collectively deliver an important, an invaluable and unprecedented message. Simply put they say, 'Israel you are not alone'. Never underestimate the importance of Christian Zionism, they played an important role in Israel's creation, and it continues to play perhaps an even more important role today. The Friends of Zion Museum, founded by Dr. Evans, does a wonderful job in presenting this incredible phenomenon."

Dr. Mike Evans, founder and chairman of the Friends of Zion Museum, commented on the event and praised the importance of the KCAC and its efforts: "Last November, the Friends of Zion Museum inaugurated an innovative communication center with the most advanced technology, in order to bring Israel closer to the world, to as many people as possible, as we witnessed in the event that took place today, which was broadcast to millions of followers on social media." Evans added, "Our goal is to inspire the next generation to continue this work in shaping the image of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. We were excited to host this event, which marks the Knesset's efforts to advance its ties with Christians around the world. We run a digital community that includes 73 million members on Facebook alone! This was the event of the year for Israel on social networks. "

The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus was established in 2004 and consists of 17 members of Knesset from 7 political parties. The caucus aims to build direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations, and political representatives around the world.

Founded in 2006, The Israel Allies Foundation is dedicated to promoting communication between parliamentarians and legislators who share a belief that the State of Israel has the right to exist in peace within secure borders. Today, the IAF coordinates the activities of 43 Israel Allies Caucuses around the world.

For more information or interview interest, please contact PR360 at +972-3-5449494

Friends of Zion Hosts Leaders From Around The World To Promote The Relations Between Israel And Christian Communities Across The Globe - WFMZ...

Call me Cube: ZOA chief Mort Klein talks with Ice Cube after Farrakhan tweets – The Times of Israel

Posted By on July 29, 2020

JTA Mort Klein didnt know much about Ice Cube when he got on the phone with him on Monday afternoon, but by the end of their two-hour conversation, Klein said he was convinced the rapper was not anti-Semitic.

In fact, the president of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America said, the rapper had invited Klein and his wife to dinner once the pandemic is over.

He called me Mort, Klein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He told me to call him Cube.

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Strange bedfellows would be too mild a term to describe the new relationship between the two men.

Ice Cube has drawn widespread condemnation after repeatedly tweeting anti-Semitic images and support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has disparaged Jews over the years, including comparing them to termites. Meanwhile, members of a leading Jewish group have filed complaints against Klein and the Zionist Organization of America for tweets and statements they say were Islamophobic and racist.

The phone call, which Klein said was set up by a mutual friend he declined to name, is the latest in a series of public rapprochements between Black celebrities accused of anti-Semitism and prominent Jews. Earlier this month, Nick Cannon sat down with a Los Angeles rabbi to learn about Judaism. The host of the reality singing competition show The Masked Singer had made anti-Semitic comments on his podcast for which he later apologized.

This call was different from others for several reasons, in part because Klein himself has been accused of making bigoted comments, including about Black people.

Cube told me he supports condemning Black&all antisemitism& I condemned all racism, he wrote in a tweet describing the conversation.

The pair also did not share a recording, as others have done. But Ice Cube acknowledged the conversation in a tweet Tuesday in which he praised Klein for his advocacy.

Going into the call, Klein did not know the extent of Ice Cubes support for Farrakhan, including in some recent tweets.

Told late Monday about a Twitter exchange last month in which the rapper told Jake Tapper to watch your mouth after the CNN anchor tweeted about Farrakhans propensity for hate speech, Klein said he would ask Ice Cube about it.

Thats troubling, Klein said. Please send that to me, Im not aware of this.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein (Joseph Savetsky/courtesy of ZOA)

By Tuesday morning, he spoke with the rapper again. Klein said Ice Cube told him he deeply regrets putting that out and that he admitted to wrongly ignoring Farrakhans anti-Semitism because of his support for Farrakhans message of Black self-reliance. But Klein said he would not be satisfied until Ice Cube put out a statement condemning Farrakhans anti-Semitism, which he hoped would happen.

On the earlier call, Klein said, the two discussed Farrakhan in broad terms in addition to criticism the rapper has faced for tweeting other anti-Semitic messages and images. In June, the rapper tweeted a picture of a mural showing a group of white men with large noses sitting around a card table held up by Black men. The mural was removed after critics accused the artist of depicting the men at the table with stereotypically anti-Semitic features. Klein said Ice Cube told him he hadnt realized the mural was anti-Semitic.

All he said is Im not a Farrakhan follower and I dont support any of this, Klein said.

Klein said Ice Cube appreciated a story he told about how he had been a decent athlete in the Black neighborhood of his youth, but when he moved to a white Jewish neighborhood he became an outstanding one.

The two also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Klein, who has called the movement an antisemitic, Israel hating Soros funded racist extremist Israelophobic hate group and a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.

Klein said he told Ice Cube about the horrible Black Lives Matter platform, referring to the 2016 platform by the Movement for Black Lives, an activist group represents some groups but not the entire Black Lives Matter movement. Some Jewish groups have described the platform as anti-Semitic for accusing Israel of genocide and apartheid. Klein said Ice Cube had agreed that the platform was terrible, though the rapper has repeatedly tweeted his support for the movement.

Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam speaks at Saint Sabina Church, May 9, 2019, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

While the rappers long affinity for Farrakhan disturbed Klein, he said he believes Ice Cube is sincere in his condemnation of anti-Semitism. He even told Klein that he supports the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, which excited the right-wing Zionist.

Hes not everything I would want him to be, Klein said. But hes moving in that direction.

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Call me Cube: ZOA chief Mort Klein talks with Ice Cube after Farrakhan tweets - The Times of Israel

The moment of reckoning for the Facebook advertiser boycott – POLITICO

Posted By on July 29, 2020

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign began in the U.S. with a trickle that became a flood. Brands like REI, Ben & Jerry's and Patagonia were among the first to sign on. Even bigger names followed suit, including Verizon, Ford, Honda, Levi Strauss and Walgreens.

Organizers say the way the campaign has expanded around the globe is evidence that it is getting traction. At least 220 organizations outside the U.S have signed on, based on a POLITICO analysis of their social media accounts.

"There's been more interest from overseas than we ever anticipated," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the groups behind the boycott.

Taking the campaign international creates more pressure points for Facebook. Not only did the company collect more than 50 percent of its $70 billion in revenue from outside the U.S. and Canada in 2019, the boycott organizers hoped their campaign would also grab the attention of regulators overseas.

But the international adoption has been mixed. Several of Canada's largest banks and retailers, including the Royal Bank of Canada, MEC, Arc'teryx and Lululemon, have joined the effort. In Germany, global brands such as Puma, Adidas, Bayer and Volkswagen have put their weight behind it. But few companies from France and Italy, two of Europe's powerhouse economies, have decided to pull their advertising from Facebook.

Since the boycott started, Facebook pledged to hire staff with civil rights experience and review the experience of its minority users. But those efforts were already in the works before the boycott and fall short of what the organizers are demanding, such as a C-suite executive with a civil rights background and teams to review submissions of identity-based hate and harassment.

The North Face, one of the first companies to join the campaign, will resume advertising on Facebook and Instagram in August, spokesperson Samantha Wannemacher said. But, she added, both The North Face and other brands owned by VF Corp. which include Eastpak and Timberland will continue to press Facebook for policy changes.

We are encouraged by the initial progress and recognize that change doesnt happen overnight. Thats why we will continue to engage in dialogue with Facebook to hold them accountable for the actions they plan to implement, Wannemacher said.

The boycott organizers have continued to urge advertisers to join the effort throughout July and are pushing to keep the pressure on, though they have not said what form that will take. That decision, they say, will likely be influenced by whether Zuckerberg addresses their concerns in his testimony on the Hill on Wednesday or on the companys earnings call the next day.

There is a lot happening this week and, as we look into August, were looking for companies to stick with us, said Jessica Gonzlez, co-CEO of Free Press, a group that advocates for net neutrality and social justice issues in media. Were giving Facebook time to meet our demands, and were staying vigilant.

Zuckerberg has taken the campaign seriously enough that he and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg spoke with a number of the advertisers to try to head off the effort. Gonzlez said Facebook reached out to organizers again last week, but did not commit to key demands like removing accounts that post hate or disinformation, or stopping algorithms from automatically spreading such content.

"Facebook is under the microscope and they can either take a carrot or take a stick," she said.

The J.M. Smucker Co., the company behind Smucker's, Jif and Meow Mix, among other brands, said it won't resume advertising until the demands of the Stop Hate for Profit organizers are met.

"To date we have not been satisfied that Facebook has conveyed an adequate plan to eliminate hate speech and discriminatory content from its platforms," said spokesperson Frank Cirillo. "Our advertising pause will continue until Facebook commits to taking meaningful steps to address these important issues."

But with most of Facebooks ad revenue coming from smaller advertisers, it would take a much larger number of companies joining the boycott to make a significant dent in the companys revenue.

And some companies that have decreased advertising have done so quietly, without laying claim to any sort of movement. Walt Disney, for example, stopped Facebook ads at the beginning of July, according to data analytics firm Pathmatics, but did not announce a reason. Walmart, Geico and Delft, Netherlands-based Ikea also stopped ads on the platform but are not included in the list of companies that have joined the official campaign. Verizon said this month that its boycott is independent of the multicompany effort.

British-Dutch consumer goods conglomerate Unilever created a splash when it canceled social media spending in the U.S. through the end of the year. But its social media advertising in the rest of the world remains intact. A spokesperson for Unilever said the company also does not consider itself part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

Wed like to see more companies in Europe take part, said Imran Ahmed, CEO and founder of U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate, which has supported the advertising boycott. The defense of Black people, Jewish communities is not a U.S. issue or a European issue, its a universal one.

Ahmed added it was disappointing that European companies such as Unilever did not take broader action. There is no good reason for any company to limit the geography for which they have a ban, he said.

Of the five leading Europe-based advertisers Unilever, Heineken, Nestle, LOreal and Reckitt Benckiser only Dutch brewing company Heineken confirmed it paused Facebook ads globally. Heineken did not reply to follow-up questions about whether it would continue the ban in August. Nestle, LOreal and Reckitt Benckiser did not reply to requests for comment.

One key difference is that Europe, unlike the U.S., has dealt for years with online hate speech through government legislation and regulation, so advocates for stricter content moderation on Facebook may be more likely to lobby government policymakers than to use boycotts to pressure the company directly. The existing rules governing online content in Europe could also reduce the urgency for European businesses to respond to pressure from advocates.

Its an a-ha moment in the EU because the discourse about the power of platforms and their role as arbiters of speech has been much more usual part of the conversation, said Raegan MacDonald, head of EU policy for the open-source software developer Mozilla, one of the Stop Hate for Profit organizers.

While the European Commission is currently drafting the Digital Services Act a legislative proposal targeted at online platforms expected to tackle issues such as content moderation and curation and algorithmic transparency there are less legislative hooks in the U.S.

The boycott has found a particularly chilly reception in France.

French multinational LOreal said it would remove words like whitening and lightening from skincare product packaging, but the beauty conglomerate, which is the fourth largest advertiser globally, stopped short of announcing Facebook ad boycotts.

In France, there is sometimes a tendency to say that [systemic racism] is not our problem and is far away, as if everything was fine at home, said an organizer at Sleeping Giants France, where its workers operate anonymously because of a history of online harassment and threats. Sleeping Giants, a U.S.-based organization that has conducted a number of advertiser-led pressure campaigns, is one of the organizers of the Facebook boycott.

We often need to do groundwork to raise awareness before we can convince brands to engage in such movements. Other countries are more reactive, the organizer added.

Rmi Devaux, a French researcher and analyst at data science company Ekimetrics who focuses on targeted advertising, said the effort may seem more urgent in the U.S. because American advertisers have a higher risk of seeing their ads featured next to inflammatory political content or hate speech because of the 2020 presidential campaign. That could change when high-profile elections loom in Europe, he said.

In the short term, the electoral cycle is much more unfavorable for advertisers in the U.S. compared to the current political climate in Europe, he explained. We might see more ad boycotts in France during the 2022 presidential election."

U.S. civil rights groups have been pushing for changes at Facebook for years, but found a new pressure point following the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests over racial injustice. They leaned on brands that were keen to show their support for Black Americans to pull advertising from the social network until it addresses concerns about misinformation and hate speech aimed at minority communities.

Facebook simultaneously completed a two-year audit of its civil rights policies earlier this month and vowed to make changes as a result, including hiring a vice president with civil rights expertise. Even more recently, the company created internal teams to study racial bias on its networks and to better understand the experiences of minority users. Facebook did not attribute these changes to the advertising boycott, and in some instances had them planned well before.

Hate speech has no place on our platform and while we have invested in technologies and teams over the years to combat hateful content, we clearly have more work to do," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president of global marketing solutions, in a statement.


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Some brands have said their timeline on the boycott will depend on how Facebook handles the pressure. Levi Strauss, for instance, doubled down on its prior commitment: "When we re-engage will depend on Facebook's response."

But many seemed uncertain of what comes next. Walgreens, Patagonia, Denny's and Pfizer, for instance, all declined to give updates.

In the meantime, the civil rights groups organizing the boycott are upping their effort to publicly shame Facebook into action. The groups released a Dear Mark video last week that makes a personal appeal to the CEO.

Are you finally going to listen to us, Mark? the video asks. It continues: Are you willing to stop profiting from hate? Can we trust you at all?

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The moment of reckoning for the Facebook advertiser boycott - POLITICO

ADL to use civil litigation to fight anti-Semitism in Ohio – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on July 29, 2020

The Anti-Defamation Leagues Cleveland office launched an initiative July 27 the Ohio Legal Assistance Project to support victims of anti-Semitism and extremism who are interested in using civil litigation as a tool to combat hate in Ohio.

At a time of rising anti-Semitism and extremism across the country, including here in Ohio, we want to make sure that we at ADL are doing all that we can to support victims who may be interested in taking legal action, said James Pasch, regional director of ADL Cleveland in a news release. Civil litigation can be an incredibly powerful tool not only to hold perpetrators accountable for their conduct, but also to send a clear message that hate and extremism are not welcome in Ohio. We have accordingly put together a small panel of attorneys who stand ready and willing to provide legal services, at no cost, to victims in appropriate cases.

ADLs Ohio Legal Assistance Project will operate out of ADLs Cleveland office. Ohio residents who are interested in learning more about the program can visit the offices website at to learn about the types of cases ADL may accept and to complete an intake form requesting a referral to a pro bono attorney.

ADL is best equipped to help victims of anti-Semitic vandalism, extremist-motivated violence, severe and pervasive harassment or stalking on or offline; swatting, i.e., the reporting of a false emergency at the home of a victim in order to prompt a law enforcement response; civil rights violations; defamation; and/or privacy violations, according to the release. Victims can include individuals, family members, businesses or organizations that have experienced harm.

From ADLs perspective, this project could not come at a better time, Pasch said. Over the past five years, ADL has documented a 150% increase in anti-Semitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment here in Ohio. Hate online has also skyrocketed, with 53% of American adults now reporting experiencing some form of online harassment.

Pasch said this year there have been bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers, extensive anti-Semitic graffiti on college campuses and anti-Semitism arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sign displayed during a stay-at-home protest in Columbus that depicted a rodent with the Star of David on its side and the words The Real Plague.

Extremists are also taking advantage of COVID-19 to spread their hateful ideologies here in Ohio, Pasch said.Enough is enough. We must be using all tools at our disposal, including the tool of civil litigation, to send a clear message that our state is no place for hate.

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ADL to use civil litigation to fight anti-Semitism in Ohio - Cleveland Jewish News

Annual Whistleblower Film Festival to Feature The One and Only Jewish Miss America, Documentary Film about an anti-Prejudice Whistleblower -…

Posted By on July 29, 2020

David Aronds The One and Only Jewish Miss America is among the 40+ films featured at this years Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival. The documentary film tells the story of Bess Myerson, a young Jewish woman from humble beginnings in the Bronx who would go on be crowned Miss America.

But Myersons story isnt the ordinary tale of the underdog, who abandons her roots to surpass the competition. Rather, Myerson rejects all attempts to suppress her Jewish identity and conform with traditional notions of American beauty. Early on, for example, she is asked to change her surname from Myerson to something less Jewish. But Bess, a daughter of poor Yiddish immigrants, embraces the whistleblower spirit and stays steadfast to the truth in refusing to change her name.

After winning the title Miss New York City, Myerson is invited to compete as one of forty contestants in the 1945 Miss America pageant, on the heels of World War II and the genocide of European Jewry. She is unexpectedly approached by masses of Jewish admirers who insist, you have to win so you can show everyone we are not victims. Despite attempts to manipulate judges into voting against the Jewish contestant, Bess charged into the competition with newfound purpose and defeated all odds by claiming the title.

But during her year traveling the country as Miss America, Myerson experienced constant antisemitism. She was denied hotel accommodations and refused entry at country clubs while corporations slowly pulled their sponsorships. Rather than engage with the corrupted and prejudiced pageantry circuit, Bess returned to her beloved New York, where she committed herself to blowing the whistle on racism. With support from the Anti-Defamation League, Bess performed her lecture You Cant Hate and Be Beautiful at educational institutions around the country.

To get the full scoop on Bess Myersons valiant efforts to expose prejudice in America, register today for the 9thAnnual Whistleblower Summit or clickhere for more information.

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Annual Whistleblower Film Festival to Feature The One and Only Jewish Miss America, Documentary Film about an anti-Prejudice Whistleblower -...

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