Sunday, June 26, 2016

Annals of Left-Wing Antisemitism - Britain edition

From a comment thread at Harry's Place, an article from The Sunday Times about a student named Zachary Confino who was subjected to two years of antisemitic abuse from other students at York University, including the son of Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Corbyn. He actually received an apology from the student union and will get monetary compensation as well.
The student union at York University has become the first in the country to make a public apology and offer a four-figure sum to a Jewish student who complained of anti-semitism. 
Zachary Confino, 21, a law student, suffered stress and narrowly missed a first-class degree, after two years of battling with anti-Israeli students at York University. 
This week, after the intervention of the universities minister, Jo Johnson, he will accept a written apology from the university’s student union over his treatment. 
The apology, brokered by the university’s registrar, will be published online and Confino will receive a sum understood to be at least £1,000. 
Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi, who warned earlier this year that “British universities are turning a blind eye to Jew hatred” and that the Labour party had a “severe problem” with anti-semitism, said he hoped the apology would send a strong message to other universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, where Jewish students have allegedly been made to feel uncomfortable. 
“This apology is most welcome, not only in the context of the case of Zachary Confino but also for the clear message that it sends to other universities that there must be absolutely no place for anti-semitism on our campuses,” said his spokesman. 
Confino was trolled on the social media app Yik Yak, where one anonymous user wrote: “Hitler was onto something”. He was called “a Jewish prick” and an “Israeli twat”. 
When he tried to oppose a student union motion to boycott Israeli goods he was told that it was his own fault that he was getting anti-semitic abuse because he supported Israel.
While leafleting against the staging of the play Seven Jewish Children at the university by the Palestine Solidarity Society, he says he was confronted by three members of the society, including Tom Corbyn, son of the Labour leader, an engineering student. Tom Corbyn has not commented. 
“The number of anti-semitic incidents I was subject to went from zero in my first year to about 20 in my second and third years,” he said. “The university did not do much about it. It has taken me two years to fight a complaint and I am relieved I have finally got this apology. The stuff I was subjected to came from far-left students. The far left say racism is a black/white issue. They seem to think Jews are fair game. 
“The experience has been so depressing . . . It ruined my experience at university. I can never get that time back.” 
In an apology to Confino to be made public this week, the student union accepts he suffered “very distressing experiences” and said it wanted to learn lessons “in terms of sensitivity to anti-semitism”. 
The university said it was committed “to preserving the right to freedom of expression while also combating anti-semitism, Islamophobia and any other form of race hate. To this end, we have signed joint statements with both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society on campus.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mahmoud Abbas' Antisemitic Claims about Rabbis Calling on Israel to Poison Palestinians' water

It's nice, for once, to see the New York Times not shy away from highlighting antisemitic statements made by a national leader. Today Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the president of the Palestinian Authority, made a speech to the European parliament in which asserted that a certain rabbi had called for poisoning the water used by Palestinians. His speech received a standing ovation.
JERUSALEM — Echoing anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling on their government to poison the water used by Palestinians. He made the unsubstantiated allegation during a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday. 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement later that Mr. Abbas had spread a “blood libel” in the speech. 
Mr. Abbas made the allegation in the context of calling for the revival of a long dormant committee of Israeli, Palestinian and American officials that was created to expose and denounce incitements from either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We are against incitement,” he began in his speech. 
“Just a week ago, a week, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians,” he said. “Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” 
Mr. Abbas was repeating a claim initially made on the website of an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Anadolu, the Turkish state-run news agency, repeated the claim on Sunday. It was echoed in The Gulf News, a daily newspaper in Dubai. The Anadolu article said that a Rabbi Shlomo Mlma, whom it called the “chairman of the Council of Rabbis in the West Bank settlements,” had issued an “advisory opinion in which he allowed Jewish settlers to poison water in Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank.” 
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that news outlets had not been able to find a Rabbi Mlma or any listing for the council mentioned in the article. 
Mr. Abbas’s remarks were not included in the official Arabic transcript issued by his office, and his advisers and spokesmen were not available for comment on Thursday night. But the claims also appeared on the website of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Mr. Abbas, along with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, had been invited to Brussels by European officials hoping to rekindle peace negotiations. Mr. Abbas, who did not meet with Mr. Rivlin in Brussels, received a standing ovation at the end of his 43-minute speech. 
“In Brussels, Abu Mazen showed his true face,” said the statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office, referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname. “Someone who refuses to meet President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu for direct negotiations and spreads a blood libel in the European Parliament falsely claims that his hand is extended in peace.” 
Jewish groups quickly condemned Mr. Abbas’s comments. “It is unconscionable that a foreign leader proudly states a blood libel in the European Parliament and he receives a standing ovation,” Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement. 
The Gulf News article reported that Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization critical of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, had made the claims. A spokesman for the organization told Haaretz that it had no knowledge of the affair. 
Rumors that Jews had poisoned wells and other sources of water arose in the 14th century as the bubonic plague raged across much of Europe. The rumors led to the destruction of scores of Jewish communities. In Basel, Switzerland, and Strasbourg, France, hundreds of Jews were burned alive. 
The latest accusations came amid a water shortage in some Palestinian communities in the West Bank, exacerbated by the summer heat. Advocacy groups and Palestinian officials charge that a discriminatory system allows Israelis to have more water than Palestinians. The United Nations also reported instances in which Jewish settlers have taken control of wells once used by Palestinians in the West Bank. 
Mr. Abbas did not touch on those issues in his speech.
In October, he erroneously accused Israeli forces of killing a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who had taken part in the stabbing of two Israelis. The boy had actually been wounded and later recovered.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orlando, June 12, 2016

By Signe Wilkinson, the editorial cartoonist of the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Israel’s chief rabbi urges building Jewish temple on Temple Mount

Israel’s chief rabbi urges building Jewish temple on Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif  (article by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man in +972).

This is a very important, and troubling move by the Chief Rabbinate. To this point, the chief rabbis (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) have maintained that Jews are forbidden to visit the Temple Mount, lest they walk on holy ground. For example, the Holy of Holies in the ancient Temples was forbidden to all except for the high priest, and the court of the priests was limited only to priests. Even for the areas of the Temple courts that were open to other Jews (men and women), those entering had to purify themselves before entering, both from common forms of impurity such as semen or menstrual blood, and from the impurity that comes from contact with a dead body. It is possible now to purify oneself from the bodily discharges, but not from the impurity of the dead. For that, the ashes of the red heifer are needed, and they haven't existed for almost 2,000 years.

Thus, when Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, said earlier this week that he wanted to see the Third Temple built, and that it is possible to do this without destroying the Muslim shrines on the site, this is a remarkable about face. The insistence on building a third temple, either by replacing the Muslim shrines or by building it next to them, has been the province of the right-wing religious fringe up to now - groups like the Temple Mount Faithful or people like Yehuda Glick (who is now a Likud member of Knesset - he advocates Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount). Apparently the fringe is starting to take over the mainstream now.

Rabbi Lau said in response to a question by the interviewer Nehama Dueck, “'In that place, by the way, in the same place where it was, there’s room for Jews, there’s room for Christians, there’s room for Muslims, there’s room for everybody,' Rabbi Lau continued. 'It won’t take up the entire Temple Mount — take a look at its measurements.'”

As Omer-Man says, the chief rabbinate has always played "a sane counter-weight to religious nationalist groups that advocate visiting and praying on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in addition to making preparations for a Third Temple. Chief rabbis have always argued that it is forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount complex for religious reasons, specifically in order to inadvertently walk over areas that laypeople were forbidden from entering."

I am curious to know what the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, the Rishon Le-Zion, thinks about this.

Friday, June 10, 2016

(Some) Religious Studies scholars issue pro-BDS statement

I just found the first public pro-BDS statement by scholars of religious studies - Religious Studies Scholars Statement of Solidarity with BDS. It is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP: Religious scholars statement). The statement itself is very much like other pro-BDS statements. It's unclear to me if it is explicitly calling for the academic boycott or not.
Affirming our own right to work for justice in Palestine, and remembering the power of non-violent social change in the U.S. civil rights movement and the international campaign against South African apartheid, we support the broad-based call of Palestinian civil society to boycott, divest from, and sanction the institutions--not the people--of the State of Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by: 
  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
I am surprised and disappointed by some of the signatories, whom I know from the AAR and SBL: Naomi Goldenberg (U Ottowa), Mary E. Hunt (Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual; I knew her when I was a graduate student and met her through AAR feminist sessions), and Ann Pellegrini (NYU) (we were graduate students at Harvard at the same time).

It is always so discouraging to find people that I know and respect have decided to support the dismantlement of the state of Israel, which is the goal of the BDS. You may not think this is true, but read the last demand - that Palestinian refugees be permitted to return to Israel. If all of the people who are currently classified as Palestinian refugees by the UN were to return to Israel, the Jews of Israel would immediately become a minority. Contrary to the fantasies of those who support the one-state solution, this would not result in a peaceful multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, but in an immediate civil war.

Other supporters are more expected, like Cornel West (Union Theological), Rebecca T. Alpert (Temple), Daniel Boyarin (UC Berkeley), John Esposito (Georgetown), Rosemary Radford Ruether (who has a long history of anti-Israel writing and activism).

My question is: when will these scholars try to pass a pro-BDS resolution in the American Academy of Religion or the Society of Biblical Literature? Will it happen this year?

Monday, June 06, 2016

American Anthropological Association has voted not to join academic boycott of Israel

The American Anthropological Association has voted not to join the academic boycott of Israel.

A colleague from the Third Narrative (sponsored by Ameinu) writes: "The vote could hardly be closer: 2,423 members opposed —  2,384 supporting.  Over 50% of the membership of the AAA voting." The boycott organization ( also confirmed the vote.

What a relief!

This is rape culture

The statement by Dan A. Turner, the father of Brock Turner, after his son was convicted of three counts of rape, is an amazing example of the justification for male privilege - the assumption that a man who has raped an unconscious woman did nothing wrong and deserves no punishment.

It's all about "him" - the son - nothing about the woman who was raped.

It's also an example of white privilege - if the rapist had been a Black or Latino man, does anyone believe that he would have gotten only a six-month sentence in country jail, especially if the victim had been a white woman? Could a Black man have depended upon the white judge showing him leniency because he thought he wouldn't be dangerous to anyone else?

And it's also an example of the old boy's network - the judge is also a Stanford graduate, and Brock Turner was a star athlete at Stanford, with a chance of being on the American Olympic swimming team.

And also an example of the leniency given to college or professional athletes, who all too often are not harshly punished for their sexual violence against women (or other men).