The chosen blog? Guardian gives a shout out to “pressure group” called CiF Watch

Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’. 

So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew.

Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.

Here’s the passage from Sand:

By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):

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Shlomo Sand’s sickening Guardian article slams both Israel and Judaism.

sand

By Richard Millett.

There are times when something is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. That the Guardian thinks there is no problem promoting someone who wants to “resign” from Judaism shows how little respect its editors have for Judaism.

Last Saturday the Guardian allowed Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv university professor, to write a lengthy piece in its pages about how he has had enough of being Jewish (see above).

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The moral necessity of Jewish power

(I first wrote this essay about Tisha B’Av in 2011 and have revised it slightly each year. This year’s version takes on special relevance for me in light of Israel’s current war with Hamas, and the characteristic response it has elicited in the Western media and among the opinion elite. – Adam Levick)

“People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force. They thereby betrayed the mission that history had assigned to them — being a people … that did not get tangled up in the obtuse narrowness of the nation-state.” – Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt

In Israel, it is now Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout their history on the same date on the Hebrew calendar — the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, but on this day we also reflect on the many other calamities which occurred on this date, from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

On this day, I tend to reflect on our painful collective recollection of past catastrophes in the context of the Jewish community’s often ambivalent relationship with power – ruminations only heightened by my still relatively new Israeli citizenship, a nation often forced to exercise power to prevent additional tragedies from befalling our people.

Israel’s very rebirth in 1948 can be seen as a direct response to these calamitous events — an attempt, through the various mechanisms of statecraft, to turn Jewish history around and act instead of being acted upon. Whether defending itself in war or aiding and rescuing endangered Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish collective has had at its disposal — for the first time in over 2000 years — a state apparatus with the means (politically, diplomatically, and militarily) to protect its interests as other nations have throughout history.

However, with this exercise of political strength comes a price, a unique moral burden that many Jews in the diaspora seem unwilling or unable to bear — as any exertion of power, or control over your own fate, inevitably carries with it the loss of innocence often projected upon people perceived to be victims and lacking in moral agency.

Israeli military power (exercised against terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and other small-scale regional threats, and in major wars against state actors) and the relative success and political power of Jewish communities in the West, seems to instill in many Jews a loss of identification with their community for fear of falling on the “wrong side” of the left-right political divide.

This chasm often finds expression in the need to identify in a way uniquely separate from such seemingly crude “ethnocentric” expressions of power which carry with them the necessity of physically defending a nation (one representing a very particular identity) in all the complexities and compromises that are invariably associated with even the most progressive national enterprises.

Before the birth of the modern Jewish state, German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig in his pre-Holocaust book The Star of Redemption expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a “supra-historical entity,” whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a “spiritual ideal” only. He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life.

Indeed, from the revival of Mussar (and other movements which aspire to further individual Jewish ethical development) to the progressive mantra of “Tikkun Olam” (a misunderstood term which alludes to repairing the world spiritually but often employed to suggest that the pursuit of universal social justice represent the greatest expressions of Jewish devotion), this recurring tendency of Jews to pay greater attention to their own moral performance than to the nitty-gritty, messy, everyday necessities of collective survival is an inclination that writer Ruth Wisse characterizes as “moral solipsism.”

While personal spiritual improvement is indeed admirable, and the desire to tend to the needs of “the other” is certainly a noble impulse, it can also represent a political pathos — a moral escapism rooted in a blindness to the harsh political lessons of Jewish history.

Wisse, in her book Jews and Power, argues that, historically, Jews — in displaying the resilience necessary to survive in exile and not burdened by the weight of a military — believed they could pursue their mission as a “light unto the nations” on a “purely moral plane.” She demonstrates how, in fact, perpetual political weakness increased Jews’ vulnerability to scapegoating and violence as it unwittingly goaded power-seeking nations to cast them as perpetual targets.

Throughout their pre-state history, Jews inhabited a potentially precarious position, ever exposed to the whims and wishes of rulers and the resentment of the populace. Their trust in G-d as the absolute arbiter of history allowed them to endure unimaginable indignities, turning inward to concentrate on their own moral excellence. Wisse concludes that “Jews who endured the powerlessness of exile were in danger of mistaking it for a requirement of Jewish life or, worse, for a Jewish ideal.”

Indeed, some diaspora Jews express their disapproval of Israel or the Jewish community at large by lamenting this newly acquired agency, often fetishizing their people’s historic weakness, and thus fail to see the role that such powerlessness played in the suffering that has befallen the community through the ages.

With national sovereignty there’s a price to be paid in terms of responsibility for the occasional infliction of human suffering (even if unintentional) that invariably occurs as the result of even the most judicious use of national power. But in the lives of individual adults, as in the lives of nations, rarely are we afforded the luxury of making choices that will allow one to live a life of innocence, nor one which offers decisions which will result in perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various policies and try to make the decision likely to result in the most positive outcome, while also taking into account how such actions will affect the safety and well-being of future generations of Israelis and the broader Jewish community.

Israel has a profound responsibility in carrying out the arduous, thankless, but morally necessary task of collective self-defense (a national vision Theodore Herzl referred to as “The Guardian of the Jews”). For Israel, in an era replete with concrete military threats and delegitimization campaigns by loosely connected political networks, an unapologetic and fiercely determined self-defense is an ethical imperative.

Protecting yourself, your family, your community, and your nation from harm should never be misconstrued as inconsistent with the highest Jewish ethical aspirations — an idea the broader Jewish community would be wise to take seriously while lamenting the suffering of so many throughout our history on Tisha B’Av.

Gilad Atzmon slams the Guardian as a ‘Lame Zionist Mouthpiece’.

Before we realized the identity of the author of the an essay published a various fringe websites on March 17th, it almost seemed to us like a Purim Spiel.  

Here’s the classic opening passage:

The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiecea light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption.

 So, what did the Guardian do to run afoul of the sensibilities of the following prolific critic of international Jewry?

atzmon

Atzmon explains:

Last week, the paper launched an attack on Martin Heidegger, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.

Heidegger’s ‘Black notebooks’ reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy” the paper’s headline read.  But what does that mean? Was Heidegger really a Jew hater? Did he oppose people for being ethnically or ‘racially’ Jewish or was he, instead, critical of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and spirit?

According to the ‘progressive’ British Guardian, the newly published Black Notebooks reveals that Heidegger saw ‘world Judaism’ as the driver of “dehumanising modernity”.

Heidegger was a German patriot. As such he knew very well that it was Zionist leadership and German Jewish bankers in America that facilitated the entry of the USA into the first world war (in return in part for the 1917’s Belfour Declaration that promised a national home for Jews in Palestine). In that regard, Heidegger, like his contemporaries, had good reason to believe that Germany was betrayed by its Jewish elite.

Indeed, Philip Oltermann, the author of the Guardian review, explained that the notion of the dehumanizing influence of world Judaism was propagated in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery purporting to reveal a Jewish plan for world domination, which would explain why Atzmon – a blogger and Jazz Saxophonist who dabbles in neo-Nazi style politics – was so appalled by the attack on Heidegger.  

Though the Guardian – or the ‘Guardian of Judea’ as Atzmon risibly calls it – is no slouch when it comes to legitimizing the toxic narrative warning of the ‘injurious influence’ of Zionist power in the US, they’re clearly not at the level of Atzmon, a staunch defender of Jewish conspiracy theories who’s written the following:

Interestingly enough, the political morbid conditions in which we live was actually described by an unusual fictional text that was published in 1903 namely, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Protocols is widely considered a forgery. It is a manual for a prospective new member of the “Elders”, describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, replacing the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation. Though the book is considered a hoax by most experts and regarded as a vile anti-Semitic text, it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe both the century unfolding and the political reality in which we live I am referring here to: AIPAC, the Credit Crunch, Lehman Brothers, Neocon wars, interventionist ideology, a British Foreign Secretary listed as an Israeli Propaganda (Hasbara) author trying to amend Britain’s ethical stand, a Zionist by admission put on an inquiry panel to investigate why Britain launched a Zionist war and so on.

As it happens staunch Zionists such as David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, and Alan Dershowitz use a very banal spin to divert the attention from the devastating prophetic reality depicted by The Protocols. A reality in which they themselves promote interventionist wars in our midst. Again and again they stress the fact that The Protocols was a forgery. They insist that we look at its anti-Semitic origin while evading its content and meaning. However whether or not The Protocols is a fictional text or a forgery doesn’t change the fact that it explores our disastrous contemporary reality. A reality in which we are killing en masse the enemies of Israel in the ‘name of democracy’, a reality in which Dershowitz himself puts enormous effort into cleansing academia of any critical voices of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish power in America and the West.

The Guardian’s biggest sin, in Atzmon’s eyes, it seems, was talking about the ideas laid out in The Protocols as if they were a bad thing!

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Sounds Israeli: The music of Efrat Gosh

Efrat Gosh grew up in Herzliya and went to music school with a concentration in Jazz. The following song by Gosh is about what it feels like to wake up in the morning after a great night out on the town.

Have a wonderful Purim!

(Sounds Israeli is edited by Stefan Babjak)

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Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday's] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Israel slouches ‘Left’? MK Aliza Lavie undermines the ‘Guardian narrative’

After the results of Israel’s national elections on Jan. 22 became clear, we published a post noting that, contrary to dire predictions by Guardian reporters and analysts that the state was poised to lurch dangerously to the extreme right, no such rightward shift actually occurred.  Contrary to the scare prediction by the paper’s Middle East editor that Netanyahu was poised to head “a more right-wing government than Israel has ever seen before”, the government which formed in March actually represented a move to the center – one which, for instance, excluded ultra-orthodox parties for only the third time since 1977

On a few important issues – such as negotiations with Palestinians, universal army conscription, and the rights of women and gays – the thirty-third Israeli government has in fact largely leaned somewhat left.  So, we thought it would be informative to hear from Aliza Lavie, an MK with Yesh Atid (part of the governing coalition), on her work on the issue of women’s rights in the Jewish state.

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MK Aliza Lavie

Lavie has a PhD from Bar Ilan and currently serves as the Chair of the Knesset’s Committee on the Status of Women, working on issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, equality in the military, spousal abuse, and human trafficking.  Her book, “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book,” has sold more than 150,000 copies.  She was recently part of a delegation of Israeli experts from the fields of politics, economics, women’s rights, and law and policy-making a multi-city tour  in the U.S. called ‘Israel Up-Close 2014, led by Professor Eytan Gilboa.  We were able to speak briefly with Lavie by phone a couple of days ago during her U.S. tour, which included talks specifically on the topic of women’s issues in Israel.

CiF Watch: You (along with Natan Sharansky) were key in convincing the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Shmuel Rabinovitch, not to arrest women for saying the Kaddish prayer at the Wall.  Relatedly, are you confident that the compromise you helped broker on prayer at the Wall – to add an alternative egalitarian prayer site in addition to the men’s and women’s sections – is a step forward for those who seek a more religiously pluralistic society?

MK Lavie: I’ve been extremely pleased to see how many groups from across the political and religious spectrum have agreed to work with my committee on the issue of prayer at the Western Wall.  Our work influenced Women of the Wall to be part of the solution, and agree to the current compromise.  There has always been a consensus that the status quo wasn’t fair to women, and wasn’t consistent with Israeli law. Our work simply galvanized this silent majority in favor of change.

CiF Watch. What are other important issues on gender and religion you’re trying to address? 

MK Lavie: We’re currently working to change the current set up at the Western Wall so that the women’s prayer section at the main prayer site is equal in size with the men’s section and has similar facilities. I’d like to add that we’re working well with the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall on this and other issues. Also, we’re extremely glad that, for first time [due to a law proposed by MK Lavie] four spots are guaranteed for women on the eleven member committee which appoints rabbinical judges to serve on the rabbinical court. This panel, as you know, is critical in attempting to alleviate some of the problems faced by women seeking to obtain a religious divorce (a “Get“) from their husbands.

CiF Watch: What, broadly, do you hope to achieve by participating in the ‘Israel Up Close’ delegation?

MK Lavie:  So many women in America who I’ve spoken to seem much more concerned with the status of women in Israeli society, for instance, than with the Palestinian issue.  Further, many of these same women may strongly identify as Jewish but without any affiliation, and are concerned that Judaism in Israel is in some people hands, but not others. I’m hoping to educate American audiences on the truth about Israel, and explain the exciting changes occurring on gender issues and other social issues of extreme importance to the future of the Jewish state. 

Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).

kotel

Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

CiF Watch prompts Telegraph correction over false Western Wall claim

We’re not normally in the business of comparing the quality and editorial judgment of British papers, but the speed in which The Telegraph corrected a false claim regarding the Western Wall in Jerusalem is worth noting.

telegraphAn Oct. 23 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot‘ included the following passage:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

We failed to take a snapshot, but here is the original text via a Google search:

kotelLate this morning, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.  

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the Second Temple stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original claims that the Western Wall was the holiest site (many of which were prompted by CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Less than an hour ago, Telegraph editors responded to our complaint, informing us that they agreed with our concerns and had corrected the piece accordingly.  It now reads as follows:

The Western Wall might be the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray, but not all Jews can worship there as they wish…

Here it is on Google:

kotel 2This quick revision stands in stark contrast to the stonewalling and obfuscations we encountered when filing a similar complaint to the Guardian over Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.

Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism…

Telegraph editors should be commended for their prompt revision – quick, decisive editorial judgment (based on historically undeniable facts) which should certainly be emulated by other British dailies. 

How to Survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork.

Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Zionist activist named Annika Henroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experience advocating for Israel in a country whose tiny Jewish population continues to dwindle due largely to a dangerous increase in antisemitism.  

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Annika Henroth Rothstein

Recently Ms. Rothstein published a letter which she sent to a writer named Michel Gurfinkiel in response to his extremely important essay at Mosaic (published earlier this month) about the future of European Jewry.  Here it is:

Dear Mr. Gurfinkiel,

On April 26 of this year, I was on a train with my five-year-old son Charlie. We were on our way to spend shabbat with friends in the city. You see, our town, significant in the history of Swedish Jewry, shut its synagogue in the late 90s. All that remains now is a plaque stating that there was once Jewish life here, while we are left with an hour-long train ride every weekend to attend services.

 My son was wearing his kippah as we got on the train. He loves his kippah. He is not yet old enough to know the dangers entailed in wearing it, for this is a fact from which I have tried to protect him. But April 26 would change all that.

There was a gentleman sitting in our reserved seat. An Arab, maybe fifty years old, listening to music. Apologizing for the inconvenience, I asked him politely for our seat. He got up, inspected my son, and then leaned over me, saying: You people always take what you want. You need to learn.

He then walked straight into my son, causing him to fall over, and took the seat behind us.

We sat. Hiding my trembling hands from my son’s sight, I picked up Shabbes for Kids and started to review the week’s Torah portion with him. We hadn’t progressed as far as a page before the man stood up and screamed:  Quiet! I don’t want to hear that! You take what you want and never think of others! Shut up!

He stamped his feet, grunting and glaring at my son. Fighting tears of rage, I assured Charlie that the man was just grumpy and tried to turned the episode into a game, one that required us to remain super quiet for as long as possible. I even managed to coax a conspiratorial smile out of him.

But even this failed to appease our tormentor, who spent the rest of the trip repeatedly kicking the back of my son’s seat. At one point I glanced around our compartment: there were four other people there, four adults witnessing a single mother and her five-year-old child being attacked by a grown man. They did nothing. I tried forcing them to meet my gaze; but they just turned away, put on their headphones, stared at their screens, ignored what was happening in front of them.

I did not summon the railway police. I did not scream back at the man. I know better. I know that the only way to survive as a Jew in my country is not to be seen as one. Not to be exposed but to shut up and fade into the woodwork. I’ve known this for quite some time. Unfortunately, my son knows it now, too.

Read the rest of the letter here.

Morality undetectable: Gilad Atzmon says farewell to Helen Thomas

Merely characterizing Gilad Atzmon as antisemitic simply doesn’t do justice to the degree of hatred he spews.  Atzmon advances demonizing rhetoric about Jews which is on par with the most vile Judeophobic charges that have ever been leveled, and which is often as crude and malevolent as what would be heard at a meeting of neo-Nazis.

In brief, he repeatedly refers to Judaism as “supremacist” faith, a term popularized by David Duke, and has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred, while simultaneously arguing that, if Hitler’s genocide did occur, it can partly be explained by Jews’ villainous behavior.  On this latter point, he claimed that Hitler’s views about Jews may one day be proven right.  Atzmon also has suggested that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and has endorsed of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing about the notorious antisemitic forgery that “it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe” later Jewish behavior.

(The Guardian’s history with Atzmon – the “Jazz Saxophonist” – includes their decision, in 2011, to publish his letter defending the ideas in his book, The Wandering Who? – a work which the CST characterized as one of the most antisemitic books published in the UK in years.)

Yesterday, July 23, Atzmon wrote the following at his blog, in a post titled ‘Farewell to Helen Thomas’.

Helen Thomas, one of the last truth tellers, died last Saturday. Thomas was the longest-serving White House correspondent, she grilled 10 USA presidents in an astonishing career that started in 1943. She was 92.

The heroic lady survived 10 American presidents but was cornered by a single Rabbi who videotaped her suggesting that Israelis should “get out of Palestine” and “go home” to Poland, Germany and America. This truthful comment brought down widespread condemnation that ended Thomas’ White House career. The way in which Thomas was treated was just another indication of the power of the Jewish Lobby and the manner in which it interferes with freedom of speech and other elementary freedoms.

I met Thomas last year in Washington DC, she attended an event with Norton Mezvinsky [Connecticut State University Professor of History Emeritus, at Washington's Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church] and myself that was organised by The Washington Report. Thomas was very weak but her brightness and humanism were shining.

The event, which took place in March, was organized by The Washington Report.  As you’ll see in the video below, which was posted on Atzmon’s blog, Thomas launched the Q&A session.

In case you couldn’t hear her, Thomas asked Atzmon:

What motivated you to change your views [about Zionism and Judaism]?

 Atzmon’s answers, reflecting on the problem of “structural Jewish indoctrination” and the difficulty many Jews evidently face in not adequately understanding their role within what he terms the larger “Jewish organism”, are actually relatively tame in contrast to his previous meditations on Jewish malevolence. 

Note also that Thomas asked one more follow-up question at the 5:42 mark in the video. She asks:

Do they [Jews] have any morality?

Anti -Semites, of course, have been asking such “questions” about Jews throughout the ages, and it’s not surprising that Thomas, who has accused Jews of “owning” Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street, chose to query Atzmon on whether there were any exceptions to Jews’ seemingly immutable villainy.

Finally, however, let the record note that Thomas (praised by many of her peers for asking the tough questions, ‘grilling’ U.S. Presidents and, more generally, standing up to authority), when offered the opportunity to challenge a loathsome Nazi sympathizer threw two softball and decidedly friendly questions.

If there is any justice, this display of craven deference to an extreme racist will serve to define the legacy of this ‘icon of American journalism’. 

No reports of Jewish riots after grossly antisemitic show begins airing on Arab TV

The streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and every other city throughout Israel – and in communities outside of Israel with large Jewish communities – were calm over Shabbat despite the decision by several Arab TV satellite channels to begin airing an antisemitic mini-series during Ramadan called “Khaybar.”  The program reportedly demonizes Jews, who are depicted as immutably “treacherous” and the “enemies of Islam” who “can’t be trusted”.

The series – produced by a Qatari media company and currently being aired in Dubai, Egypt, Algeria, Qatar and UAE – is described by the screenwriter and the film’s actors as simply demonstrating that “The Jews are the Jews…and still act according to their nature and corrupt any society in which they live.”

Though a prominent pro-Israel blogger, Elder of Ziyon, initiated a passionate campaign to draw attention to the series, the act of racist incitement has been ignored by major human rights organizations – characteristic of the silence by such self-described “humanitarian” groups in the face of poisonous anti-Jewish animus which is commonplace throughout Arab and Muslim countries.

Additionally, whilst the Guardian published over 100 reports and commentaries after the Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2005, and a similarly large volume of stories on the row last year over a brief trailer for an anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube called ‘Innocence of Muslims’, there has been nothing published at the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ about Khaybar.

Further, in contrast to the eruption of riots and violence over the Muhammad cartoons, which led to death threats against the cartoonists and riots in cities across the world resulting in over 200 people dead, and the reaction to the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which led to hundreds of injuries and over 50 deaths, there have been no reports of Jewish riots in reaction to the hideously antisemitic Khaybar broadcast.

While the narrow issue of the Guardian’s decision not to inform readers about an antisemitic TV series which will potentially be seen by tens of millions of Arab viewers  is important – representing one example of their wider failure to report even the most extreme examples of antisemitic incitement within the larger Arab world – there is another important angle to this story worth exploring.

My observation regarding the dearth of anything resembling violence by Jews over the racist Arab series was not meant to be at all cheeky, but rather was an attempt to illustrate the absurdity of the ubiquitous refrain from Guardian Left commentators that the Israel lobby ‘intimidates’ elected representatives, exercises undue influence over the media and stifles debate over issues of concern to the Jewish community.  

Whilst organized Jewry, and pro-Israel commentators, certainly use the power of the pen, lobby their representatives and use every other legitimate democratic means available to advocate for Israel and campaign against antisemitism, newspaper cartoonists who run afoul of ‘the lobby’ do not receive death threats from AIPAC; commentators who engage in antisemitic tropes don’t have to go in hiding for fear of retribution by philo-Semitic bloggers; and ‘spontaneous’ acts of mass Jewish violence do not erupt on the streets of Paris, London, New York, or Jerusalem when the religious sensibilities of Jews are offended.

Though it is of course true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t resort to violence in response to cartoons, films or commentaries deemed offensive to Islam, the small minority who do engage in such anti-social and destructive behavior clearly create a chilling effect on Western journalists and opinion leaders – anti-democratic bullying and intimidation which simply has no parallel within the Zionist community.

Extremists fail to disrupt ‘Closer To Israel 65′ in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Cross posted by London-based blogger Richard Millett

A group of 30 extremists failed to dampen spirits as some 3,000 Jewish and non-Jewish pro-Israel supporters came out to show their support and appreciation for the Jewish state at the Closer to Israel 65 event in London’s Trafalgar Square today. Even the sun finally shone!

The 30 extremists were from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the tiny Jewish religious sect the Neturei Karta, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews For Justice For Palestinians.

A favourite racist chant of those from the IHRC was “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the State of Israel must Go”. How awfully nice of Islamic Human Rights Commission members to allow Judaism to be practiced. Now, all one needs to know is how much tax British Jews must pay to be allowed to continue practicing their Judaism.

Here are some IHRC members allowing Jews to practice Judaism in the UK in 2013. We can only thank them:

The hate of the extremists was drowned out by the words of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks who declared that if the Jewish people had to choose between world criticism of or sympathy for Israel they would choose world criticism rather than be homeless and defenceless with the sympathy of the world:

Here are the photos of the day with some commentary. First, the good people:

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

A Spurs "Yiddo" at CTI65. It's not racist, it's an affectionate nickname!

A Spurs “Yiddo” at CTI65. It’s not racist, it’s an affectionate nickname!

Harif's lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

Harif’s lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Could at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Gould at CTI65.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists' racist chanting.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists’ racist chanting.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

The extremists:

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn't directly created by the Messiah?

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn’t directly created by the Messiah?

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

As I was saying this Palestinian father's grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

As I was saying this Palestinian father’s grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

Yes! We've also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!

Yes! We’ve also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!

Glenn Greenwald’s column at ‘CiF': A safe space for antisemitic commenters?

A guest post by AKUS

Antisemitic commenters at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ have discovered that Glenn Greenwald’s columns provide a useful forum in which to post racist commentary below the line – many of which have not been deleted by CiF moderators. 

In a post by Greenwald on April 7, Bradley Manning is off-limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced, which didn’t mention Jews or Israel, this comment popped up in response to another commenter who mentioned the widely used term “Pallywood” to describe the faked and discredited film clips and photographs which Palestinians have sometimes distributed:

one

This opened the doors to a bit of antisemitic jollity by “bilejones” and others based on the well-known antisemitic meme that Jews control Hollywood.

On most ‘CiF’ threads the following comments would have been deleted by moderators, but thanks to Greenwald’s unique policy regarding comment moderation, they remain in all their smart-alecky racism. Notice that the pretense that “Israelis” or “Zionists” are the people opposed to Palestinians immediately gives way to the underlying animosity towards Jews usually hidden by those terms in the following pejorative exchanges:

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Now the Pavlovian dogs had been let loose, and even MonaHol may have realized they had gone too far – or, perhaps, was just being a little coy:

newThe approval of such comments make you wonder how long a comment that proposed characterizing movies which are made by African–Americans by using a variation of the ‘n-word’ would be allowed to stay up.  Would the commenter engaging in such shamefully racist “wordplay” still be permitted to post at the Guardian? 

Lest the gentle reader think these are isolated examples, here is another recent set.

In another column by Greenwald, ‘The same motive for anti-US ‘terrorism’ is cited over and over, he mentioned the excuse given by some recent high profile Muslim terrorists – such as the Fort Hood shooter and the ‘Underwear Bomber’ - that they were attacking America due, in part, to its support of Israel.  A commenter then drags in Judaism as a counterbalance to criticism of Islam, and MonaHol offers to post selections from the Talmud in defense of Islam:

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The  comment by “westeastnorth” was in response to several well-known invented citations purporting to come from the Talmud provided on antisemitic websites that MonaHol repeats here:

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Given that someone like MonaHol likely cannot read Hebrew, Aramaic, or Rashi script, and it takes a lifetime of study in the original languages to learn and understand the Talmud, the question must be asked: “From where does she get her information”?

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The answer is that that she gleans the citations from the numerous antisemitic websites that have trolled selectively through an English version and then circulate the very citations MonaHol presents, without the context of rabbinic disputation. Only an obsessive anti-Semite would in turn troll through such sites to find them, and only an ignoramus would present them as representing the full range of Jewish thought on those subjects. Googling “Talmud” and any of the so-called Talmudic references MonaHol quoted will give you dozens if not hundreds of such sites.

It is the equivalent of presenting a list of straw man legal arguments that have been given to students at law school to argue over as representing exact examples of a country’s laws

Refutations can be found at this site, which painstakingly fisks the many fabrications about the Talmud that circulate on the internet, listing them one antisemitic “Claim” at a time, including the ones that MonaHol uses. The antisemitic websites provided as sources have mostly been taken down since this website was set up, but Stormfront (one of the purveyors of such gross distortions of Judaism) is still active.

I have edited the lengthy list of refutations down to the claims that MonaHol made, and further reduced the number of responses to each claim for the sake of (relative) brevity:

CLAIM (23) Jews May Steal from Non-Jews Baba Mezia 24a. If a Jew finds an object lost by a Gentile (“heathen”) it does not have to be returned. (Affirmed also in Baba Kamma 113b).

RESPONSE (1)
Found objects do not have to be returned when they are lost under circumstances that make the owner impossible to identify. This also applies to objects lost by Jews in crowded areas — as you would know had you actually read the passage in question instead of pasting it in from a National Socialist website.

CLAIM (25) Jews May Rob and Kill Non-Jews Sanhedrin 57a. When a Jew murders a Gentile (“Cuthean”), there will be no death penalty. What a Jew steals from a Gentile he may keep.

RESPONSE (2)
Misquote. That’s a theoretical point that is being raised and subsequently rejected. Naturally, [the quote] “forgets” to mention the latter part.

CLAIM (27) Jews May Lie to Non-Jews Baba Kamma 113a. Jews may use lies (“subterfuges”) to circumvent a Gentile.

RESPONSE (1)
This is one of the most obvious pieces of out-of-context blather it has ever been my pleasure to refute. The context is evading a thief. Yes, you are permitted to lie to a robber — in particular a crooked tax collector.

Further down the same page, it not only says that robbing gentiles is prohibited, it even discusses the derivation of the prohibition.

Here, we have gone beyond going out of context and have entered the realm of deliberate falsification.

RESPONSE (2)
Refers to whether a Jew may deceive a Roman tax collector, IIRC (note that Romans were the occupying force at that time, literally playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham).
From Usenet message

RESPONSE (3)
The passage discusses robbers (such as tax collectors who acted beyond their legal authority) who have stolen property. The question that arises is whether it is permitted to use subterfuge to circumvent their thievery. In a long legal discussion, the entire thrust of which is that any form of stealing from heathens is forbidden, the following statement is brought forward for consideration: “we use subterfuges to circumvent him [a heathen; this is one opinion] … but Rabbi Akiva said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name”. The Talmud continues and notes that Rabbi Akiva forbids subterfuges not only on account of desecration of G-d’s name, but also because theft from a non-Jew is absolutely forbidden by biblical law. The Talmud continues to explain that even the opinion which is rejected does not condone outright theft which is absolutely forbidden according to all opinions.

The Talmudic passage here is a well-known one which makes the point that the “law of the land is the law”, that is, the civil and commercial law of the nations in which Jews reside is binding on them. 

Obsessive anti-Semites like “bilejones”, “MonaHol”, “axenicely” and others congregate under Greenwald’s columns – and are left there to create an environment which extremist sites might envy.

The Guardian has banned supporters of Israel for far less, and one would think that such name-calling by “bilejones” and “axenicely” would elicit corrective action by their team of professional moderators – which begs serious questions about the Guardian and the extent of their commitment to maintaining high ‘community standards‘. 

Silence by ‘CiF’ moderators in the face of such hate speaks volumes.