Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Perhaps this is what we should be worrying about - melting Antarctica

Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly

For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization. 
The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur. 
Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.
Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century. 
With ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100, the researchers found. That is roughly twice the increase reported as a plausible worst-case scenario by a United Nations panel just three years ago, and so high it would likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When Jews aren't white

Are Jews really white if white supremacists send out racist flyers with swastikas on them to colleges in the US? (Hacker Says He Printed Anti-Semitic and Racist Fliers at Colleges Across U.S. ).

"Weev," a racist computer hacker whose real name is Andrew Auernheimer, sent out the flyers to every publicly accessible printer in North America (I didn't even know there were publicly accessible printers), including at Princeton, UC Berkeley, Smith, Brown, UMass Amherst, and Mount Holyoke, among other places.
The fliers directed readers to The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. Mr. Auernheimer said free speech concerns were behind his printing spree. “My motivation is this: White cultures and only white cultures are subject to an invasion of foreigners.”
This is what the flier looked like:

Since the flier clearly differentiates between "the Jews" and the "white man," it's pretty clear that Mr. Auernheimer and his racist buddies at the Daily Stormer do not think that Jews are white. This is an old racist trope, holding the Jews responsible for everything that antisemites think is bad in America.
After the fliers appeared on Princeton University printers, the administration promised to try to “block any further messages.”
Some leaders of the black protests here said they saw a discrepancy between the university’s response to the fliers and what they saw as racism against black students in the past.
Almost a year ago, after Urban Congo, a student percussion group, performed on campus in loin cloths, which many on campus found offensive, the university’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, sent an email to the student body that affirmed the school’s commitment to free speech.

He reiterated that on a trip to India last week, when he told the Indian Express, “We think it’s very important for people be able to say what it is they want to say even if it’s offensive to the government or offensive to some of the other people on campus.”

Asanni York, a member of the Black Justice League, an activist group that led a sit-in in November that called for the removal of President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the campus because of his racist positions, said the university’s response to the fliers differed from past stances. “When it was happening to black students, it was a matter of free speech,” he said. “Now that it’s happening to white, Jewish students, it’s something else. There seems to be no conflation of hate speech and free speech now.”

A Princeton spokeswoman, Min Pullan, said the fliers were not a question of free speech. “External messages infiltrating our campus is a completely different matter. They are not two things that can be compared,” Ms. Pullan said.
One wonders if Mr. York actually paid any attention to what the flier said. Perhaps he thinks that Jews are white, but the white supremacists don't. They think of Jews as a separate race that controls the world.  As Yair Rosenberg said on Twitter,
This is a report from the Princeton student newspaper:
The printed posters at the University stated that the messages came from the Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website. Andrew Anglin, editor and founder of The Daily Stormer, said in an email interview with the Daily Princetonian that the fliers were sent by Andrew Auernheimer, a forum member of the Daily Stormer. Anglin described this member as a “White supremacist hacker.” 
In an email interview with the ‘Prince’, Auernheimer claimed responsibility for hacking the University’s and other universities’ networks. 
“The white race was a quarter of the world’s population a mere century ago. Now white women of childbearing age are 2%. We are undergoing a demographic collapse that is unfathomable,” Auernheimer wrote. He also said that his goal with the endeavor is promoting white supremacy. 
Manipulating the printers required no special technology, according to Auernheimer. He further noted that he is not targeting universities, but rather every publicly accessible printer on the Internet. 
According to University Assistant Vice President for Communications Daniel Day, Auernheimer’s actions did not constitute hacking in the sense that they did not breach security. 
Anglin alleged that there is a student group at the University with whom he has been working to distribute these messages. Anglin said that he is also actively involved in student groups at other Ivy League schools, given that these schools “have greater influence on society.” 
According to Anglin, the group at the University is allegedly attempting to establish a White Student Union to target the Jewish people who allegedly control the University. Anglin said that the student who is in charge of this group sent him a scan of his University ID card as proof of enrollment and racial identity and a photo of a meeting of the group, which had about 25 individuals present. 
The University student in charge of the white supremacist group told him that upwards of 200 people are presently involved in the organization, Anglin said. 
The existence of such groups has not been verified. 
Anglin declined to comment further on the identity of this student leader.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Against anti-Muslim bigotry and for peace and coexistence

J Street's statement on Donald Trump
Last week, in quick succession, we saw Donald Trump get a huge ovation at the AIPAC Policy Conference, were shocked by the latest awful terrorist carnage in Europe and observed the festival of Purim.

Listening to the traditional reading of the Book of Esther. I was struck by a verse in Chapter Three:
And Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people scattered and separate among the peoples throughout all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws differ from those of every people, and they do not keep the king's laws; it is therefore of no use for the king to let them be.”
The Brussels bombings the day before prompted Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to suggest that law enforcement agencies should “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods in the United States. He was swiftly followed by Donald Trump. Never mind that American Muslims -- one percent of the population -- are extraordinarily patriotic and productive members of our society.

Trump’s response to the attacks was characteristically to blame them on all Muslims. “I knew Brussels years ago,” he said in an interview with a British TV channel. “It was so beautiful, so secure and so safe. Now it’s an armed camp. It’s like a different world, a different place, there is no assimilation … Look at the cities where there’s been a large inflow and something’s different. There is very little assimilation for whatever reason … they want to go by their own sets of laws.”

In other word, “they do not keep the king’s laws. It is therefore of no use to the king to let them be.”

This was the same Trump who the previous day had received a rapturous ovation from many of the 18,000 delegates to the AIPAC Policy Conference, when he and his two Republican presidential rivals, taking their cue from one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favorite talking points, demonized the entire Palestinian people as a nation of terrorists with a “culture of death.”

John Kasich declared that “Palestinians cannot continue to promote a culture of hatred and death.” Trump said that Palestinian children are all “being taught to hate Israel and to hate the Jews.” Cruz talked of a “relentless campaign of incitement that has fostered genocidal hatred towards Jews.”

There’s no denying that incitement is a major problem in Gaza and the West Bank. When Palestinian leaders hail terrorist attackers as martyrs or murderers as heroes there is a problem. Responsible Palestinian leaders must confront this honestly. We cannot excuse incitement or violence, even as we also note that young Palestinians, like many young Muslims in Europe, feel hopeless, angry and frustrated and see no path to a better life. And yet, the vast majority of Palestinians do not dream of sending their sons and daughters to die in suicide attacks. It is their worst nightmare.

When Israel labels all Palestinians as enemies; when Palestinians label all Israeli Jews as occupiers, colonialists and oppressors; and when Trump and Cruz label all Muslims as potential terrorists, they are all doing the same thing. They are all scapegoating an entire community, religion or nation with one broad brush and giving their own supporters someone to hate. Hating others will not solve anyone’s problems. It will only create new ones.

This is a very old story -- and Jews throughout our history have often been the victims. To give just one example, in 1919, Henry Ford began publishing a newspaper, The Dearborn Independent as an anti-Semitic mouthpiece. It blamed Jews for everything -- strikes, agricultural depression, financial scandals and the decline of the dollar. “The International Jew: The World’s Problem,” blasted one typical headline on May 22, 1920.

Ironically, today Dearborn, Michigan is home to America’s largest Muslim community -- which Trump and Cruz would no doubt fence off and subject to constant police surveillance and control.

We know where these things lead -- and we have a duty to reject and oppose them -- here at home, in Israel and in the occupied territory. We must stand together with other sane forces who favor dialogue and build bridges rather than walls.

While opposing terrorism and incitement and taking necessary and legal steps to combat them, we must defend our democracy, our decency and our humanity and band together with the vast majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Jews, and Muslims -- who want to share our troubled world as peaceful neighbors and make it better for everyone.

- Alan Eisner

Monday, March 21, 2016

Why I'm voting for Bernie Sanders, Part II - his speech tonight on Israel and the Middle East

I think Bernie Sanders should have given this speech at AIPAC today (instead, he gave it in Salt Lake City). In fact, it reads as if it is intended for AIPAC. I'm sure he would have gotten very little applause, but people at AIPAC should have heard this perspective on Israel and the Palestinians. 


Let me begin that I have a deep personal connection to Israel – and I am fairly certain I am the only U.S. presidential candidate to have ever lived on a kibbutz for a while.

America and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights, and the rule of law.
Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but alsoto its people’s right to live in peace and security. 

To my mind, as friends, we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. This is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times. 

Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.

America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face one of the greatest challenges facing any country: resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

I am here to tell you that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel. But to be successful, we have to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza, they suffer from an unemployment rate of 44 percent – the highest in the world – and a poverty rate nearly equal to that. There is too much suffering in Gaza to be ignored.

The road towards peace will be difficult. We all know that. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I believe firmly that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution. 

The first step in the road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations. This is no small task. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. 

This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace.

Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel. 

Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.

Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence.

But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic wellbeing for the Palestinian people. 

Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders,and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.That’s why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.

It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

But, by the same token, it is unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be ending the violence. 

Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors. Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives, and there is nothing human life needs more than water. 

Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked, even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.

We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this idea is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory, and the kidnapping of Israel citizens.

Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist. Of course, I strongly condemned indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes. 

However, let me be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians, and wounded far more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. 

Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles, – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.

These are difficult subjects. They are hard to talk about both for many Americans, and for Israelis. I recognize that, but it is clear to me that the path to peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.

I cannot tell you when peace will be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. No one knows the exact order that compromises will have to be made to reach a viable two-state solution. But as we undertake that work together, America will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens and the country of Israel. 

Of course, beyond the Palestinian question, Israel finds itself in the midst of a region in severe upheaval. 

First, the so-called Islamic State – ISIS – threatens the security of the entire region and beyond, including our own country and our allies. Secretary of State Kerry was right to say that ISIS is committing genocide, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States must continue to participate in an international coalition to destroy this barbaric organization. 

So far, this effort has had some important successes, as airstrikes have degraded ISIS’s military capacity, and the group has lost more than 20 percent of its territory in the past year. 

But we are entering a difficult period in the campaign against ISIS.

The government in Baghdad has yet to achieve a sustainable political order that unites Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian factions, which has limited its ability to sustain military victories against ISIS. More inclusive, stable governance in Iraq will be vital to inflict a lasting defeat against ISIS. Otherwise, ISIS could regain its influence or another, similar organization may spring up in its place.

In Syria, the challenges are even more difficult. The fractured natured of the civil war has often diluted the fight against ISIS there – exemplified by the Russian airstrikes that prioritized hitting anti-Assad fighters rather than ISIS. And, just like in Iraq, ISIS cannot be defeated until the groups that take territory from ISIS can responsibly govern the areas they take back. Ultimately, that will require a political framework for all of Syria. 

The U.S. must also play a greater role disrupting the financing of ISIS and efforts on the Internet to turn disaffected youth into the next generation of terrorists. 

While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, it must be led by the countries in the region, some of whom have for too long not only turned a blind eye to violent extremism, but have encouraged and funded it. I agree with Jordanian King Abdullah who said this is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and that the Muslim nations themselves will have to win it on the ground.

Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.

What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East.

What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. They have $200 billion to host a soccer event, yet have done very little to fight ISIS.

What I am saying is that countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s 4th largest defense budget – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen. 

And keep in mind that while a dangerous enemy, ISIS has only 30,000 fighters. So when we ask the nations in the region to stand up to do more against ISIS, we know it is surely within their capability to do. 

The United States has every right in the world to insist on these points. Remember it was the United States that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990– at the cost of American lives. And it was the United States that defended the Gulf States from further aggression from Iraq by keeping Saddam Hussein contained for over a decade. 

But wealthy and powerful nations in the region can no longer expect the United States to do their work for them. We are not the policeman of the world. As we continue a strongly coordinated effort against ISIS, the United States and other western nations should be supportive of efforts to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda – but it is the countries in the region that have to stand up against these violently extremist and brutal organizations. 

I realize that will not be easy. I realize that there are disagreements between different countries in the region about how ISIS should be dealt with. I realize different countries have different priorities. But we can help set the agenda and mobilize stronger collective action to defeat ISIS in a lasting way.

The second major challenge in the region is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history. 

After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria is a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war, and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it. 

I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. 

It is easy to use a war to remove a tyrant from power – but it is much more difficult to prevent total chaos afterward.

Just look at the cost we have paid in Iraq – a war I was proud to oppose. Just look at the chaos in Libya. It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation, with the most powerful military on earth, is not how many wars we can engage in, but how we can use our strength to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way. Yes, the military option should always be on the table, but it should be the last resort. And the use of military force should always – always – have to pass a basic test: will it make America and our allies more safe? 

The third major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilizes the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel.

Now, we all agree that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. 

Where we may disagree is how to achieve that goal. I personally supported the nuclear deal with the U.S., France, China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran because I believe it is the best hope to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. 

I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention – and more often than not, diplomacy can achieve things that military intervention cannot. That is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement. 

But let me tell you what I firmly believe. The bottom line is this: if successfully implemented – and I think it can be – the nuclear deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And preventing Iran from getting the bomb makes the world a safer place. 

Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? Of course not.

But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day.

I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only America’s security, but Israel’s security as well. And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement.

But let me be clear: if Iran does not live up to the agreement, we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table. 

Moreover, the deal does not mean we let Iran’s aggressive acts go unchecked. The world must stand united in condemningIran’s recent ballistic missile tests as well as its continued support for terrorism through groups like Hezbollah. 

Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.

First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders. There is no question about that. But, second, we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.

I know that some say there is just no dealing with Iran – in any way at all – for the foreseeable future. After all, Iran is in a competition with Saudi Arabia and its allies for influence across the region. But a more balanced approach towards Iran that serves our national security interests should hardly be a radical idea. We have serious concerns about the nature of the Iranian government, but we have to honest enough to say that Saudi Arabia – a repressive regime in its own right – is hardly an example of Jeffersonian democracy.

Balancing firmness with willingness to engage with diplomacy in dealing with Iran will not be easy. But it is the wisest course of action to help improve the long-term prospects of stability in the Middle East – and to keep us safe. 

These are but some of the major issues where the interests of Israel intersect with those of the United States. I would address these issues and challenges as I would most issues – by having an honest discussion and by bringing people together.

There has a disturbing trend among some of the Republicans in this presidential election, and it takes the opposite approach: to divide us and pit us against each other. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, suggested limiting immigration according to religion and creating a national database based on religion. That not only goes against everything we stand for as a country, it would also hurt us significantly in our relations with other counties.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Donald Trump and the Jews

I just noticed a paragraph in Peter Wehner's latest opinion article for the New York Times, "The Man the Founders Feared":
Max Boot, a Republican Trump critic who was a foreign policy adviser to Marco Rubio’s campaign, says that he has never experienced as much anti-Semitism as he has since the start of the Trump campaign. There are no filters anymore, no restraints, no cultural guardrails. Now, under the sway of Trumpism, what was once considered shameful asserts itself openly. As we contemplate this, it is worth recalling that the membrane separating what the Scottish novelist John Buchan called “the graces of civilization” from ”the rawness of barbarism” is thinner and more fragile than we sometimes imagine.
Boot considers Trump to be a "fascist demagogue." He considers Trump to be a direct descendant of Charles Lindbergh, Joe McCarthy, George Wallace, and Pat Buchanan. (My observation:) And let's remember - Charles Lindbergh and Pat Buchanan were both open antisemites. Boot said in an interview, "His impulses are derived from the same well that people like the America First Committee and Joe McCarthy tapped into, which is essentially a form of isolationism, xenophobia, and racism." He makes the following excellent point:
And all of those movements had internal enemies that they focused on. The America First movement, along with the Nazis, tended to see the Jews as the internal enemy. McCarthy tended to see this communist fifth column as the enemy. George Wallace saw African Americans and civil rights as the internal enemy. And Trump identifies Mexicans and Muslims as the internal enemy.
In a column at USAToday, Boot wrote:
Trump’s most extreme supporters go even further than their candidate. Just in the past few days on Twitter I’ve been called on Twitter “a traitor to america” and told that “Jews want Whites to think… Ethnic identity’s a vice.” It’s not hard to see why bigots are drawn to Trump: He says what they think. The mystery is why more ordinary, decent Americans are not appalled by Trump’s loathsome statements.
Here's one of the Twitter posts that Boot is talking about:
And another, addressed to Yair Rosenberg:
Here's another disgusting one:
Sasha Abramsky wrote in Haaretz:
When Trump is criticized, his supporters whip up a storm of vitriol in cyberspace. Essayists like Bethany Mandel, who has been tracking Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric since the summer, have been ruthlessly attacked, often with deeply anti-Semitic language. 
“Trump’s round-them-up-and-deport-them mindset, along with his aspersions cast on Mexican immigrants, is disturbingly similar to the slurs historically hurled at Jews and other newcomers. Jews were labeled con artists and thieves; Mexicans are, according to Trump, “rapists” and violent criminals,” Mandel wrote in the Forward in August.  
She has been labeled a “slimy Jewess,” and has been told she deserves the oven. Mandel just announced she was buying a gun for protection in the wake of the abuse that she fears might become physical threats 
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan recently praised Trump for refusing to accept money from Jewish donors. The Ku Klux Klan has wholeheartedly endorsed the man. The neo-Nazi Daily Sturmer website has enthused about him.
Some responses to Max Boot's statement on Twitter:

On top of the open antisemitism from some of Trump's followers, we also find that a pastor who introduced one of his speeches called for Bernie Sanders to convert to Christianity:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Progressive Zionist group Ameinu denounces AIPAC invitation to Donald Trump

I belong to the Third Narrative, a project of Ameinu which works both for a two-state solution and peace between Israel and a future Palestine, and against the BDS movement. Ameinu was one of the founding members of the AIPAC National Council, and is now denouncing the invitation advanced by AIPAC to Donald Trump to speak at the upcoming conference. The Reform movement has also denounced Trump's invitation to the AIPAC conference. I agree with both of them. Donald Trump is a racist, anti-Muslim, misogynistic demagogue. He shouldn't be invited to speak at any conference sponsored by groups from the Jewish community. This is Ameinu's statement:

Ameinu Demands Denunciation of Donald Trump as He Brings His Dangerous Campaign to AIPAC
For More Information Contact:
Gideon Aronoff C.E.O Ameinu

New York (March 16, 2016) – Ameinu, North America’s largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization, released the following statement today regarding the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its deeply problematic invitation for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to address its Policy Conference, being held March 20-22.

“As a founding member of the AIPAC National Council (formerly the AIPAC Executive Committee), Ameinu is deeply disappointed that this important organization on U.S.-Israel relations, is treating its invitation to Donald Trump as if he were simply another presidential candidate. He is not.  
Ameinu, as a U.S.-based movement of progressive Zionists, has watched with extreme dismay as this year’s Republican presidential primary contest has stoked fear, hatred, divisiveness and even violence against vulnerable minority groups including Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, refugees and protestors from the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is absolutely unacceptable in a pluralistic and democratic country like our own. And no candidate bears more responsibility and guilt for these disgraceful and destructive tactics than Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Trump’s approach to politics violates the core value of human dignity that we as Jews hold dear.  Moreover, as progressive Zionists who strive for interreligious and interethnic reconciliation and peace as guiding principles for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, we view these same values as the cornerstone of our vision for American political life.
While Ameinu understands why an organization like AIPAC chose to hear the leading Republican candidate’s views on Israel, his disgusting bigotry, demagogic rhetoric and campaign style cannot be accepted as business as usual. Ameinu calls upon the AIPAC leadership to have the courage to make this crystal clear during the upcoming conference. 
Ameinu also calls on our fellow members of the AIPAC National Council, and the thousands of grassroots participants in the Policy Conference, to raise a collective voice of Jewish outrage and make an unequivocal denunciation of Donald Trump’s bigotry. American Jewry can never accept scapegoating of minorities as a political tool. While AIPAC can hear what Donald Trump has to say about Israel, we all must take a stand with our fellow citizens to demand a politics of inclusion rather than fear. The decision to invite a candidate like Donald Trump to AIPAC gives our community a chance to make this point loud and clear. It is a chance we cannot miss.”
About Ameinu:

Ameinu, the largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization in North America, is dedicated to promoting a just peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the countries of the region.  Ameinu also works for social and economic justice for all in Israel and around the world. Ameinu reinforces Jewish continuity through support for Habonim Dror, the Labor Zionist youth movement, and the Kibbutz Program Center, which sends 100’s of young adults on unique Kibbutz and other social justice journeys to Israel every year.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I'm voting for Bernie Sanders in the New York primary

I've been trying to figure out who to vote for in the New York primary, which is coming up on April 19. I had been leaning toward Hillary Clinton, but her recent statement on the supposed contribution the Reagans made to fighting AIDS in the 1980s had changed my mind. I'm going to vote for Bernie Sanders.

A couple of days ago, Hillary Clinton said this about Nancy Reagan, who has just died:
It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan - in particular Mrs. Reagan - we started a national conversation. When before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective, low key advocacy but it penetrated the public conscious and people began to say, "Hey, we have to do something about this too."
This statement is a lie. Both Reagans did their best to ignore HIV/AIDS, and thousands of people in the US, mostly gay men, died while Reagan was president and did nothing to try to stop the epidemic.
Though the World Health Organization was holding meetings about AIDS by 1983, the White House offered little support for awareness of the epidemic. Reagan, who first took office in 1981, didn’t publicly address AIDS until well into his second term. According to ABC, more than 20,000 Americans had died from the disease by the time he first spoke about it....
The Reagans were eventually swayed to react to AIDS by the death of a close friend. Rock Hudson, at the peak of his career, was Brad Pitt-level famous — and beloved by women internationally. He was also gay, but famous at a time when being publicly gay could ruin a successful career (even if you weren't a star) so he stayed silent about his sexuality. In the mid '80, however, he developed AIDS, becoming one of the most prominent American figures to suffer from the disease, and bringing it to the forefront of the nation’s news cycle. 
As his condition deteriorated, Hudson, in France at the time, reached out for help from the White House in getting treatment from a specific French doctor and hospital. The first lady rebuffed him, saying it would be inappropriate to offer such a favor for Hudson and “appear to favor personal friends” and felt, instead, it was a matter the United States Embassy in Paris should address. Hudson died from the disease only a few months later.
For several years, whenever the issue of AIDS was raised at press briefings in the White House, the typical answer was homophobic jokes and laughter.

Clinton has apologized for her ahistorical lie (Why on earth did she say it? Is she really so ignorant that she didn't know how the Reagan administration reacted to the AIDS epidemic?), first in a short statement and then in a longer essay published on Medium.

Her first statement, via Twitter:

In her essay in Medium, she wrote, "To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day."

Notice that she was still unable to say the truth - that President and Nancy Reagan obstructed the treatment of AIDS and research into AIDS and thereby led to the deaths of thousands of people in the US. 

Why does this matter to me personally?

In the early 1980s I was working for a typesetting and graphics company in Cambridge, Mass., owned by a gay man named David Stryker, called Xanadu Graphics. For several years he had typeset Gay Community News (the weekly gay and lesbian newspaper in Boston), and then they started doing it in-house, while he ran his own business. When I worked for him we typeset a wide range of publications, including books for Beacon Press, a weekly newsletter about pollution and environmental issues, the newsletter for Career Services (or whatever it was called at the time) for Harvard University, a Christian newsletter (they clearly didn't know David Stryker was gay), a publication on Islamic art also from Harvard, and many other things. 

David Stryker got AIDS, and died of it, very early in the epidemic - on November 18, 1984. (I found his date of death on a list of "our faerie ancestors" published by I knew that he was sick and that he died, but our new boss didn't tell us (at least he didn't tell me) that Dave had died of AIDS - I was furious when I finally found out. 

Unlike a lot of other people I knew about AIDS pretty early on because GCN covered it extensively from the beginning, back when people talked about Kaposi's Sarcoma as the symptom and called it Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disorder (link is to a 1982 article in the New York Times, published before it was known how HIV/AIDS is spread).

Last year I started trying to get more information about Stryker online, but I wasn't able to find very much, and what I did find was fairly derogatory, so I'm not going to reproduce it here. But Dave Stryker was very important for the gay liberation movement in Boston in the 1970s and early 1980s. He got GCN on its feet as a real typeset newspaper, not simply mimeographed sheets. He was also the typesetter for Fag Rag, a radical gay men's journal. More people should know about his work.

Hillary Clinton's little billet-doux to Nancy Reagan erased David Stryker's life and death, and the lives and deaths of so many gay men, injection drug users, and people of color who suffered from HIV/AIDS in those years. It was despicable, and her apology is no apology - it continues the same deception as her original statement.

If she ends up getting nominated by the Democrats I'll vote for her in the general election, because she's better than any of the Republicans running for president - the whole pack of pathetic, gay-hating, racist, hypocritical Bible-thumpers who exploit the real suffering of so many Americans - but I'd much prefer a candidate with a spine who really does stand up for human rights and working people.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

More on Catholic Memorial High students chanting "You killed Jesus"

In today's Boston Globe there's a story about how Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury is going to change their curriculum in the wake of their students chanting an anti-Jewish slogan at a basketball game. The article seems to indicate that there may be problems with how students at the school have been taught about Jews.
Catholic Memorial School administrators say they will hold a series of student assemblies Monday and make long-term changes to their curriculum after several students peppered fans of a rival school with anti-Semitic chants at a basketball game Friday night. 
The students taunted a group of Newton North High School fans, many of them Jewish, with choruses of “You killed Jesus!” 
“Catholic Memorial is committed to using this incident as a teaching opportunity and to help students understand the hurt they have caused, to Newton North High School and the broader Jewish community,” Catholic Memorial said in a statement Sunday night.
Catholic Memorial reached out to the Anti-Defamation League Saturday to apologize for the incident and seek assistance in educating their students about anti-Semitism, according to the statement. 
“It’s very clear that Catholic Memorial is taking this seriously, and we’re very pleased about both the short-term and long-term commitment to educating their students,” said Robert Trestan, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League New England, in a phone interview Sunday. 
Trestan said the ADL and the Archdiocese of Boston developed a curriculum more than 20 years ago called “New Directions” for Catholic educators to use in teaching their students about Jews and Judaism. 
He said the ADL could help to implement that curriculum at Catholic Memorial, an independent school in West Roxbury. Officials at the school said that curriculum is among the options they are considering.
I wonder why they weren't already using the "New Directions" curriculum at Catholic Memorial. If this is a curriculum that was developed more than twenty years ago, shouldn't all the Catholic schools in the Boston area be using it? The Boston Archdiocese recommends using the curriculum on a web page entitled "How can I be involved in Catholic-Jewish relations?"
Organize a New Directions Program for the religious educators in your parish religious education program or school. Reach out to other parishes in your vicinity. The New Directions Program, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Anti-Defamation League, has been highly successful in teaching Catholic religious educators how to teach about Judaism with accuracy and respect. In addition to the basic workshop, New Directions also provides higher level workshops.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Antisemitic chant - "You killed Jesus" - at basketball game in Newton, Mass.

At a basketball game last night in the Boston area, between Catholic Memorial School (from West Roxbury) and Newton North High School (with a high Jewish student population), "An estimated 100 young men sitting in the student section cheering for Catholic Memorial shouted, 'You killed Jesus, you killed Jesus,' according to several witnesses who asked not to be identified."

The administration of Catholic Memorial treated the incident seriously, reprimanded the students who had insulted the Jewish students, and had each one go to the principal of Newton North and apologize personally.

Report from the Boston Globe:
NEWTON — The chanting started with a rude taunt: Newton North High School students cheering for their basketball team Friday night shouted, “Where are your girls?” to the fans of Catholic Memorial School, an all-boys school. 
But the response from the Catholic Memorial fans to their opponents, many of whom are Jewish, left the Newton North crowd horrified and upset: “You killed Jesus!” shouted about 50 to 75 Catholic Memorial students. “You killed Jesus!” 
The Newton North students fell silent, their faces registering surprise and anger. 
“I found it chilling,” said Newton Superintendent David Fleishman, who arrived at the game, which was held at Newton South High School, about 20 minutes later. Fleishman said he was immediately approached by a visibly upset parent who told him she was shaken. “In my mind, this is incredibly upsetting and troubling, and they have a lot of work to do at Catholic Memorial,” Fleishman said. 
Fleishman contacted the Anti-Defamation League about the incident, and said Newton students would discuss it at school on Monday. Newton officials will also discuss the Newton fans’ use of a joking reference to male anatomy, which Fleishman acknowledged could also be offensive.

The president of Catholic Memorial issued a statement Saturday condemning the “abhorrent behavior” of the students and promising to work to end it.
“Catholic Memorial School is deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North High School,” said Catholic Memorial President Peter F. Folan in a statement Saturday. “Catholic Memorial School believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community.”

Fascism in America?

Until the events of the last couple of days in Chicago and St. Louis, I hadn't realized how many people were going to protest at Trump rallies, and how violent the rallies had gotten.

From David Neiwart:
Watching the scenes unfold last night from Chicago and elsewhere, it became obvious that, largely as many of us have feared, Donald Trump is indeed leading the United States merrily down the path to an outbreak of not-kidding-honest-to-God-real thing fascism or proto-fascism, all without himself being a hardened fascist ideologue, but rather a right-wing populist demagogue. Then again, the two phenomena are only degrees apart, and that is what we are now seeing on the streets of the American political landscape.

Of course, while it was fairly clear that the protesters were peaceful until attacked by the Trump rally-goers, the reality also was that fighting eventually broke out on all sides and there was violence all around. Naturally, that meant that the media were already out there flogging their favorite "both sides do it" narrative.

Never mind that Trump has specifically encouraged the violence, telling reporters at a press conference that "we need a little bit more of that." The story we'll be fed as at least "the other side" will be Trump's: that the leftist "thugs" were responsible for the violence. And we all can see where this is going: As justification for further and more intense violence.

There is a long history of this with the fascist and proto-fascist right. Indeed, martyrdom at the hands of the "violent left" was a cornerstone of early Nazi propaganda, of which the above poster is only a small sample. And a version of it helped fuel the post-Civil War Jim-Crow-and-Klan rule of the South.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Beginning of the Jewish Quota at Harvard University in 1922

Today in my class "Contemporary Jewish Identities: Gender, Race, and Power," we discussed, among other things, the establishment of Jewish quotas at Ivy League universities in the 1920s. The first to propose this publicly was President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard. The New York Times got ahold of correspondence between Lowell and a Jewish alumnus named Alfred A. Benesch about an announcement that had been made the previous week on the issue of restriction of Jewish enrollment at Harvard. This is the New York Times article of Saturday, June 17, 1922.


Says It Might Tend to Combat the Increasing Tendency to Anti-Semitism. 


40 Per Cent. Proportion, He Says, Would Make Harvard Prejudice Intense. 


Favors Direct Action Instead of Indirect Methods Adopted by Other Institutions 

Special to The New York Times 

CLEVELAND, June 16. – The text of correspondence between President Lowell of Harvard and A. A. Benesch, a local attorney, on the question of race discrimination was made public here today.

On June 7 Mr. Benesch wrote to President Lowell as follows:

“My Dear Dr. Lowell: In common with other Jewish graduates of Harvard, I was astounded at the official statement issued last week with reference to the restriction of enrollment. Even had the statement made no especial mention of students of the Jewish race, it would have been objectionable because of the undoubted implication. Containing, as it did, however, particular reference to the Jews, it is tenfold more objectionable because of the direct suggestion made to those who might not otherwise perceive its purpose.

“It is utterly impossible for me to comprehend how an institution of learning which has throughout its history received contributions from men of all religious faiths, and which has enjoyed an enviable reputation for non-sectarianism, can even contemplate the adoption of a regulation obviously designed to discriminate against the Jews.

"The late Jacob H. Schiff for years maintained a deep interest in Harvard and was loyal to Harvard’s traditions. Do you think that he would remain silent, were he alive today, in the face of such action on the part of the university authorities?

"Felix Warburg and other eminent Jews of New York City and elsewhere were liberal contributors to the Harvard Endowment Fund. Are their feelings not to be considered?

“I am a graduate of more than twenty years' standing. I have contributed to the Endowment Fund and am contributing now annually to the Scholarship Fund established by my class, the class of 1900. You would criticise me with poor grace, were I to withhold any further contributions under the existing circumstance.

“Shortly after my graduation I wrote an article entitled, ‘The Jew at Harvard,’ in which, I think, I successfully combated the notion then prevalent that Harvard was anti-Semitic. I hope that l shall not be under the necessity of writing a similar article with a changed point of view. I hope, too, that the regulation, which has unhappily stirred up so much unpleasant publicity for Harvard does not find its origin in the fact that Jewish students, numbering perhaps 10 per cent. of the student population at Harvard are the successful contestants of perhaps 50 per cent. of the prizes and scholarships. Students of the Jewish faith neither demand nor expect any favors at the hands of the university; but they do expect, and have a right to demand, that they be admitted upon equal terms with students of other races, and that scholarship and character be the only standards for admission.

“I am still hopeful that the newspaper reports are not based entirely upon fact, and that I may hear from you soon a true statement of the situation.

“Very respectfully yours,


Dr. Lowell's reply follows:

“Dear Mr. Benesch: There is no need of cautioning you not to believe all that you see in the newspapers. As a colleague said to me yesterday, there is perhaps no body of men in the United States, mostly Gentiles, with so little anti-Semitic feeling as the instruction staff of Harvard University. But the problem that confronts this country and its educational institutions is a difficult one, and one about which I should very much like to talk with you. It is one that involves the best interests both the college and of the Jews, for I should feel very badly to think that these do not coincide.

“There is, most unfortunately, a rapidly growing anti-Semitic feeling in this country, causing, and no doubt in part caused by a strong race feeling on the part of the Jews themselves. In many cities of the country Gentile Clubs are excluding Jews altogether, who are forming separate clubs of their own. 

“Private schools are excluding Jews, l believe, and so, we know, are hotels. All this seems to me fraught with very great evils for the Jews, and very great perils for the community. The question did not originate here, but has been brought over from Europe – especially from those countries where it has existed for centuries.

“The question for those of us who deplore such a state of things is how it can be combated, and especially for those of us who are connected with colleges, how it can be combated there - how we can cause the Jews to feel and be regarded as an integral part of the student body. The anti-Semitic feeling among the students is increasing, and it grows in proportion to the increase in the number of Jews.

“If their number should become 40 per cent. of the student body, the race feeling would become intense. When, on the other hand, the number of Jews is small, the race antagonism was small also. Any such race feeling among the students tends to prevent the personal intimacies on which we must rely to soften anti-Semitic feeling.

“If every college in the country would take a limited proportion of Jews, I suspect we should go a long way toward eliminating race feeling among the students, and, as these students passed out into the world, eliminating it in the community.

“This question is with us. We cannot solve it by forgetting or ignoring it. If we do nothing about the matter the prejudice is likely to increase. Some colleges appear to have met the question by indirect methods, which we do not want to adopt. It cannot be solved except by a co-operation between the college authorities and the Jews themselves. Would not the Jews be willing to help us in finding the steps best adapted for preventing the growth of race feeling among our students, and hence in the world?

“The first thing to recognize is that there is a problem – a new problem, which we have never had to face before, but which has come over with the immigration from the Old World. After the nature of that problem is fairly understood, the next question is how to solve it in the interest of the Jews, as well as of everyone else.

“Very truly yours,


In answer to this Mr. Benesch sent the following letter:

“My dear Mr. Lowell: I find myself in complete harmony with some of the statements in your letter of June 9 but in complete disagreement with others.

“I hope and believe it is true that the instructing staff of Harvard University is not anti-Semitic at heart. I am apprehensive, however, that the wave of anti-Semitism which has been inundating the country during the last year or more has not left the members of the staff untouched. I am apprehensive, too, that some members of the Harvard alumni have not been inactive in expressing and making felt their anti-Jewish and unsocial proclivities.

“Although I agree with you that, unhappily, there is a rapidly growing anti-Semitic feeling in this country, I must take issue with you upon the proposition that this feeling is caused in part by a strong race feeling on the part of the Jews. Is not the strong race feeling on the part of the Jews the result rather than the cause? In other words, has not the strong race feeling been developed as a measure of self-defense?

“You throw out the suggestion that ‘if every college in the country would take a limited proportion of Jews, I suspect that we should go a long way toward eliminating race feeling among the students, and, as the students passed out into the world, eliminating it in the community.’

“Carrying your suggestion to its logical conclusion would inevitably mean that a complete prohibition against Jewish students in the colleges would solve the problem of anti-Semitism. Moreover, it might lead to the establishment of a distinctively Jewish university, a consummation most sincerely to be deplored.

“If it be true – and I have no doubt that it is true – that the anti-Semitic feeling among the students is increasing, should it not be the function of an institution of learning to discourage rather than to encourage such a spirit? If certain members of the alumni and certain members of the student body foster so un-American a spirit, Harvard University, which has always stood for true democracy and liberalism, should be the first to condemn such a spirit, and exert every effort to prevent its growth. 

“If it is at all possible for you to call a meeting of a group of Jewish graduates, together with the members of the corporation and such other graduates or undergraduates as are interested in this vital problem, such meeting to be called within the next ten days or two weeks, I shall be very glad personally to make the sacrifice of time and money to attend such meeting. I believe, as do you, that a matter of this character can best be discussed by word of mouth.

“Respectfully yours,


President Lowell's final letter to Mr. Benesch, received today, said:

“Dear Mr. Benesch, You are quite right – It is the function of an institution of learning to discourage anti-Semitic feeling, and the question is how is it to be done? It does not seem to me that we shall reach such a result by ignoring the problem of race. It exists in the Old World and it is rapidly coming here. The first step, it seems to me, is to recognize that is a problem and then try to discover what its cause and its cures my be. It is just the result that you point out that I wish to avoid – that of distinctly Jewish and distinctly Gentile universities. We want exactly the opposite. We want to have both Gentiles and Jews in all our colleges and universities and strive to bring the two races together.

“A committee to consider this subject will be appointed in a few days and one of their first duties will be get into communication with the thoughtful Jews in this country.

“Very truly yours,